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Dec 08: Job 10 | Micah 2 | James 2

Reading 1 - Job 10:1

Job speaks out of his sufferings: "I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 10:1).

"In a charming essay on music, a recent writer has gathered up a great deal in one telling sentence. He speaks of the various moods of the world's masterpieces of music -- the romance, the sorrow, the aspiration, the joy, the sublimity expressed in them, and he adds that there is only one mood forever unrepresented, for, 'Great music never complains.' At first, this seems too sweeping. We remember so many minor keys, so many tragic chords, in the best music. But, as we think over it longer, it becomes truer and truer. Great music has its minor keys, its pathetic passages, its longing, yearning notes; but they always lead on to aspiration, to hope, or to resignation and peace. Mere complaint is not in them. The reason, after all, is simple. Complaint is selfish, and high music, like any other great art, forgets self in larger things. The complaining note has no possible place in noble harmonies, even though they be sad. So, if we want to make music out of our lives, we must learn to omit complaint.

"Some young people think it rather fine and noble to be discontented, to complain of narrow surroundings, to dwell on the minor notes. But it is well to remember that the one thing to avoid in singing is a whine in the voice; and whining is perilously close to any form of pathos. 'Great music never complains.' That is a good motto to hang up on the wall of one's mind, over our keyboard of feeling, so to speak. The harmonies of our lives will be braver and sweeter the more we follow this thought. Without it, fret and discord will come, and mar the music that might be, and that is meant to be" (Biblical Illustrator).

Reading 2 - Mic 6:8

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Mic 6:8).

"When we are not thinking of God, the flesh is in control. When we are thinking of God, the Spirit is in control. Our success is, and will be, measured by how much of the time we are thinking of God. His Word is the material of which spiritual thought is made. His law is our life-line. His commandments are a light to our feet. His love is the fire that lights our heart. Man is made to be part of God. There is no true life for man outside of God. Man is made in God's image: a glorious beginning, a glorious foreshadowing of what may be in the eternal beauty of its fulfillment. Blessed are they who get closer and closer, and are finally absorbed forever into God" (GV Growcott).

What God does want, Micah now tells us. He does so in a verse justly regarded as one of the memorable and timeless expressions of Old Testament ethical religion (cf Jam 1:27). It is the heart's response to God demonstrated in the basic elements of true religion. This was shown to Israel in the social concerns reflected in the Mosaic legislation.

God has told the people what is good. The Mosaic law differentiated between good and bad and reflected God's will in many areas of their religious and social lives. It indicated what God required of them. They were to act justly (lit, 'do justice', or mispat). The word 'justly' has here the sense of 'true religion', ie, the ethical response to God that has a manifestation in social concerns as well (cf Mic 3:8). 'To love mercy' is to freely and willingly show kindness to others. The expression 'to walk humbly with your God' means to live in conscious fellowship with God, exercising a spirit of humility before him. These great words recall similar words of our Lord in Mat 23:23.

The prophet was not indicating that sacrifice was completely ineffectual and that simply a proper heart attitude to God would suffice. In the preceding verse he painted a caricature, a purposefully exaggerated picture, of the sacrificial system to indicate that God has no interest in the multiplication of empty religious acts. Jer 7:22,23 is often appealed to as evidence that the prophets rejected the Levitical system; yet Jeremiah promised that the offerings would be acceptable if the people were obedient (Jer 17:24-26). A similar attitude toward sacrifice is expressed in Psa 51:16,17, but the succeeding verses show the author to be indicating that the Levitical sacrifices are acceptable to God only when accompanied by a proper heart attitude toward him (Psa 51:18,19).

The ethical requirements of v 8 here do not comprise the way of salvation. Forgiveness of sin was received through the sacrifices. The standards of this verse are for those who are members of God's family and demonstrate the ethical response that God wants to see in those are under His covenant. These standards have not been lessened for Christians, for the NT affirms their continuing validity. We are still called to the exercise of true religion, to kindness, and to humility (1Co 13:4; 2Co 6:6; Col 3:12; Jam 1:27; 1Pe 1:2; 5:5). Believers are in a covenant relationship with God in which the law has been placed within their hearts (Jer 31:33; cf Heb 10:14-17); there it lives and guides their actions -- so that the family likeness to their Heavenly Father will be shown to all men.

Reading 3 - James 2:22

"You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did" (James 2:22).

"An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word 'Faith', and on the other oar the word 'Works'. Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of this. The old man, being a well-balanced believer in Christ, and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, 'I will show you.' So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to use the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles again -- this time the other way around, but still in a circle. After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works and wielding both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passenger, 'You see, that is the way it is in the believer's life. Works without faith are useless, and faith without works is dead also, getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing' " (Maritta Terrell).


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