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Dec 19: Job 23, 24 | Zech 1 | 2 & 3 Jn

Reading 1 - Job 23:3

"If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!" (Job 23:3).

"In Job's uttermost extremity he cried after the Lord. The longing desire of an afflicted child of God is once more to see his Father's face. His first prayer is not 'O that I might be healed of the disease which now festers in every part of my body!' nor even 'O that I might see my children restored from the jaws of the grave, and my property once more brought from the hand of the spoiler!' but the first and uppermost cry is, 'O that I knew where I might find HIM, who is my God! that I might come even to His seat!' God's children run home when the storm comes on. It is the heaven-born instinct of a gracious soul to seek shelter from all ills beneath the wings of Jehovah. 'He that hath made his refuge God,' might serve as the title of a true believer. A hypocrite, when afflicted by God, resents the infliction, and, like a slave, would run from the Master who has scourged him; but not so the true child of God; he kisses the hand which smote him, and seeks shelter from the rod in the bosom of the God who frowned upon him. Job's desire to commune with God was intensified by the failure of all other sources of consolation. The patriarch turned away from his sorry friends, and looked up to the celestial throne, just as a traveller turns from his empty skin bottle, and betakes himself with all speed to the well. He bids farewell to earth-born hopes, and cries, 'O that I knew where I might find my God!' Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all besides. Turning away with bitter scorn from earth's hives, where we find no honey, but many sharp stings, we rejoice in Him whose faithful word is sweeter than honey or the honeycomb. In every trouble we should first seek to realize God's presence with us. Only let us enjoy His smile, and we can bear our daily cross with a willing heart for His dear sake" (CH Spurgeon).

Reading 2 - Zec 1:4

"Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.' But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD" (Zec 1:4).

Zechariah was to warn the Israelites not to be like their forefathers -- who refused to respond to the preaching of earlier (pre-exilic) prophets who urged them to repent (eg, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk). Their failure to do so resulted in the heaviest of punishments falling upon them: cp 2Ki 17:13,14; 2Ch 36:15-17; Jer 7:25,26.

TURN FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS...: "The world says, in its little, passing wisdom, that if you desire a better position in life: act and dress for it now. Live mentally in its atmosphere. Adopt all the ways and views constant with it. Eliminate from your life those things that are beneath its dignity and importance. Lift your conduct to comport yourself on its level. This is the world's meaningless 'advancement': but the principle is so true in eternal things. If we expect to be made 'equal to the angels' and 'stand in the presence of God' throughout eternity, we must start acting like it now. We must live in harmony with it. Many things must be put away which -- though not really 'bad' in themselves, and quite suitable for earthlings -- are quite out of place in the environment we seek, and for which we must prepare ourselves. Do not carelessly indulge yourself at present with things inconsistent with divinity, in the vain delusion they'll be miraculously and conveniently, at the last day, cleaned out of your mind and interests, to make you suitable for God's company. It will be too late then. It's your whole life's present purpose (and opportunity) to labor fervently on it now -- with, of course, God's offered and essential help. Time is short! Don't drift in fatal self-delusion" (GV Growcott).

Reading 3 - 3Jo 1:8

"We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth" (3Jo 1:8).

Aspects of fellowship:

  • Fellow-heirs: "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are HEIRS TOGETHER with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (Eph 3:6).

  • Fellow-soldiers: " But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and FELLOW SOLDIER, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs" (Phi 2:25).

  • Fellow-helpers: as above (3Jo 1:8)

  • Fellow-workers: "Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my FELLOW WORKERS for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me" (Col 4:11).

  • Fellow-servants: "Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their FELLOW SERVANTS and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed" (Rev 6:11).

  • Fellow-prisoners: "Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been IN PRISON WITH ME" (Rom 16:7).

  • Fellow-laborers: "Yes, and I ask you, loyal YOKEFELLOW, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my FELLOW WORKERS, whose names are in the book of life" (Phi 4:3).

  • Fellow-citizens: "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but FELLOW CITIZENS with God's people and members of God's household" (Eph 2:19).


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