VIDEO Always Just – Elihu Speaks and God Speaks

As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, in judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress. Job 37:23

We’ve all heard young children say it: “But that’s not fair!” And we may have said it ourselves. Life is filled with “unfair” moments. Tragedies, disasters, genocides, and more lead us to ask why God allows such things to happen. The Old Testament character, Job, certainly had grounds for such a complaint.

What Job ultimately discovered is that fairness is not the issue. Rather, justice and righteousness are. Was it fair for Job’s family and livelihood to be destroyed for seemingly no reason? Not on the surface. But beneath the surface (which Job didn’t see until the end of his deep dive into God’s character), God was being just in His judgments and His use of power. It was more important for Job to know God than to have his life of smooth sailing be undisturbed. At the beginning of Job’s saga, he was angry with God for being unfair. By the end, He was worshiping God as the all-powerful Creator and Judge of all things (Job 42:1-6).

God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). But even when we don’t understand His ways, we can trust in His character.

There is nothing that I have done that can stand the touchstone of God’s justice. John Bunyan


Job 32-42 Elihu Speaks and God Speaks

Like Jesus

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Romans 8:29

As a boy, theologian Bruce Ware was frustrated that 1 Peter 2:21–23 calls us to be like Jesus. Ware wrote of his youthful exasperation in his book The Man Christ Jesus. “Not fair, I determined. Especially when the passage says to follow in the steps of one ‘who did no sin.’ This was totally outlandish . . . . I just couldn’t see how God could really mean for us to take it seriously.”

I understand why Ware would find such a biblical challenge so daunting! An old chorus says, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus. My desire, to be like Him.” But as Ware rightly noted, we are incapable of doing that. Left to ourselves, we could never become like Jesus.

However, we’re not left to ourselves. The Holy Spirit has been given to the child of God, in part so that Christ can be formed in us (Galatians 4:19). So it should come as no surprise that in Paul’s great chapter on the Spirit we read, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God will see His work completed in us. And He does it through the Spirit of Jesus living in us.

As we yield to the Spirit’s work in us, we truly become more like Jesus. How comforting to know that’s God’s great desire for us!

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

What attribute of the fruit of the Spirit would you like to live out to a greater degree? (see Galatians 5:22–23). What will help you do so?

Father, I long to be more like Your Son but so often fall short in word, thought, or deed. Forgive me, and help me to yield to the work of Your Spirit so that Jesus might be formed in me.

For further study, read Free in the Spirit at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0307.

A Passion to Obey

Romans 6:16-23

A passion to obey God doesn’t come naturally. Salvation may spark love and a desire to please Him, but a passionate fire is built slowly from the timbers of spiritual knowledge, faith, and devotion.

Obedience usually begins with a fear of the consequences of disobeying. That is, newer believers can at least enjoy the safety of avoiding repercussions until they develop better reasons to follow God. Thankfully, as we mature and build a scriptural foundation, fear is replaced by both recognition of God’s sovereignty and submission to His wisdom.

Over time, following the Lord becomes less about consequences for disobeying and more about blessings for obeying. Once we taste His goodness, we learn that obedience and God’s best are natural partners—good derives from following divine commands, while suffering results when we demand our own way. This irrevocable principle plays out in the Bible as well as in day-to-day life, and the more we observe it, the more we realize the Lord’s will is the wisest choice.

All the promised blessings in the world cannot make a believer follow God into some frightening places. But that’s where love for our Father comes in, as it compels us toward obedience no matter what is at stake.

Creation in Praise of God

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

Every now and again, the biblical writers were so lifted up in spirit as they contemplated the glory of God and His great works of creation and redemption that they could sense the very creation itself singing out in happy praises. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1) is one of the most familiar of these divinely inspired figures of speech, but there are many others. “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth:…Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof….Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth” (Psalm 98:4, 7-9).

Often these praises are in contemplation of God’s final return to complete and fulfill all His primeval purposes in creation, as in the above passage. This better time is also in view in our text, which looks forward to a time when “instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13). God has triumphed over evil!

And this all points ahead to the eventual removal of the great curse that now dominates creation because of man’s sin (Genesis 3:14-19). For the present, “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22). One day, however, the groaning creation “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). Therefore, “let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;…Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice” (Psalm 96:11-12). HMM

The Ability to Do

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.—John 15:5

A definition of the word “power” means the ability to do. You know, because it is the Greek word from which our English word “dynamite” comes, some of the brethren try to make out that the Holy Spirit is dynamite, forgetting that they have the thing upside down. Dynamite was named after that Greek word, and the Holy Spirit and the power of God were not named after dynamite. Dynamite was discovered less than 200 years ago, but this Greek word from which we get our word “power” goes back to the time of Christ. It means “ability to do”—that is all, just “ability to do.”…

One man steps into the prize ring and can’t even lift his hands. The other fellow walks in and he has power to do, and soon the fellow who did not have the ability to do is sleeping peacefully on the floor.

It is the man with the ability to do who wins. It means the dynamic ability to be able to do what you are given to do. You will receive ability to do. It will come on you.   COU061-062

Lord, help us to not be afraid of this vital manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Come on our churches in power as we rely upon the Spirit for “the ability to do” whatever You have called us to do. Amen.

Inactivity—the Highest Activity

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. —Psalm 27:14

There is an inactivity that, paradoxically, is the highest possible activity. There can be a suspension of the activity of the body, as when our Lord told His disciples to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). They waited. And the Holy Spirit came on them in power.

In the Old Testament, to wait on God meant coming before His presence with expectation and waiting there with physical and mental inactivity.

“Cease thy thinking, troubled Christian,” one of the old poets wrote. There is a place where the mind quits trying to figure out its own way and throws itself wide open to God. And the shining glory of God comes down into the waiting life and imparts an activity.

Do you understand what I mean when I say that we can go to God with an activity that is inactive? We go to God with a heart that is not acting in the flesh or in the natural—trying to do something. We go to God in an attitude of waiting. FBR131-132

Hearing, I am receptive; seeing, I am active. Yet our bliss does not consist in being active but in being receptive

The Call to Holiness

Ephesians 5:25-27

In the upper room our Lord prayed that His disciples should be sanctified. The next day He went to Calvary and died that it should be so. “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

We cannot enter heaven with any sin in our hearts, for “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Somewhere, and some time, our sinful nature must be completely destroyed. This may take place on our deathbed, or at the coming of our Lord, but God is able and willing to sanctify us now.

“But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). We dare not preach sinless perfection, for it is not taught in the Word of God. We can have an experience where it is possible not to sin, but we shall not, in this life, reach a state where it is not possible to sin.

To the sanctified man defeat will not be the rule, but the exception. He will show his holiness by humbly admitting his fault, and by putting things right with God at once, and if need be, with man also. We do not lose the blessing of sanctification by one act of sin or disobedience, provided we confess it at once and seek God’s forgiveness.

A sanctified believer is always learning new lessons, growing in grace, and bringing forth more and better fruit. Perfection will be progressive. Thus a perfect bud may become a perfect flower, and then a perfect fruit. Even when the fruit is fully grown it will need to become perfectly ripe and sweet. Sanctified Christians too should become riper and sweeter as the years go by.

A cup of water can be perfectly filled, but it will not hold as much as a jug. A sanctified Christian should be always filled with the Spirit, but his capacity should increase, as it were, from that of a cup to that of a jug, then to that of a bucket, a tank, a reservoir. There is always more to follow.

We must ever be climbing higher up the mount of holiness, though we cannot reach the summit in this life.

Allister Smith, Made Whole