The Way Up Is Down

‘He took the humble position.’ Philippians 2:7 NLT

Jerusalem was surrounded by walls, and one of the ways into it was through Valley Gate. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls, we’re told: ‘The people… rebuilt Valley Gate.’ (Nehemiah 3:13 CEV)

In the Christian life there has to be room for both ups and downs, highs and lows: ‘mountaintop experiences’ and ‘valley experiences’. Scripture says: ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’ (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) In other words, having revitalised strength, stamina and staying power. And when you don’t have the ability to do any of these things, Paul says, ‘Having done all… stand.’ (Ephesians 6:13 KJV)

There’s a season in your life for all these experiences and it’s wise to embrace it. The Bible says Jesus ‘took the humble position… Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honour.’ (Philippians 2:7–9 NLT) Luke records that Jesus ‘took bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.’ (Luke 24:30 NKJV)

Blessed and broken—that’s still God’s pattern. Why? So you can handle His blessings and remain humble. You’re in trouble when you’re more conscious of your image than of your need for God. That’s why He allows you to walk through situations that bring you to the place of utter dependence on Him. You have to be taken, blessed and broken, before you can be given away in service to others. In God’s Kingdom the way up is down!

SoulFood: Job 11–14, Luke 17:11–19, Ps 11, Pro 8:4–5

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Job 11–14 ()

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11:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

  “Should a multitude of words go unanswered,
    and a man full of talk be judged right?
  Should your babble silence men,
    and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
  For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure,
    and I am clean in God's eyes.’
  But oh, that God would speak
    and open his lips to you,
  and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
    For he is manifold in understanding.
  Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.
  “Can you find out the deep things of God?
    Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
  It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
    Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
  Its measure is longer than the earth
    and broader than the sea.
10   If he passes through and imprisons
    and summons the court, who can turn him back?
11   For he knows worthless men;
    when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?
12   But a stupid man will get understanding
    when a wild donkey's colt is born a man!
13   “If you prepare your heart,
    you will stretch out your hands toward him.
14   If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
    and let not injustice dwell in your tents.
15   Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
    you will be secure and will not fear.
16   You will forget your misery;
    you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
17   And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
    its darkness will be like the morning.
18   And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
    you will look around and take your rest in security.
19   You will lie down, and none will make you afraid;
    many will court your favor.
20   But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
    all way of escape will be lost to them,
    and their hope is to breathe their last.”

12:1 Then Job answered and said:

  “No doubt you are the people,
    and wisdom will die with you.
  But I have understanding as well as you;
    I am not inferior to you.
    Who does not know such things as these?
  I am a laughingstock to my friends;
    I, who called to God and he answered me,
    a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.
  In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune;
    it is ready for those whose feet slip.
  The tents of robbers are at peace,
    and those who provoke God are secure,
    who bring their god in their hand.
  “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
  or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
  Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10   In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.
11   Does not the ear test words
    as the palate tastes food?
12   Wisdom is with the aged,
    and understanding in length of days.
13   “With God are wisdom and might;
    he has counsel and understanding.
14   If he tears down, none can rebuild;
    if he shuts a man in, none can open.
15   If he withholds the waters, they dry up;
    if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.
16   With him are strength and sound wisdom;
    the deceived and the deceiver are his.
17   He leads counselors away stripped,
    and judges he makes fools.
18   He looses the bonds of kings
    and binds a waistcloth on their hips.
19   He leads priests away stripped
    and overthrows the mighty.
20   He deprives of speech those who are trusted
    and takes away the discernment of the elders.
21   He pours contempt on princes
    and loosens the belt of the strong.
22   He uncovers the deeps out of darkness
    and brings deep darkness to light.
23   He makes nations great, and he destroys them;
    he enlarges nations, and leads them away.
24   He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth
    and makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25   They grope in the dark without light,
    and he makes them stagger like a drunken man.

13:1   “Behold, my eye has seen all this,
    my ear has heard and understood it.
  What you know, I also know;
    I am not inferior to you.
  But I would speak to the Almighty,
    and I desire to argue my case with God.
  As for you, you whitewash with lies;
    worthless physicians are you all.
  Oh that you would keep silent,
    and it would be your wisdom!
  Hear now my argument
    and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
  Will you speak falsely for God
    and speak deceitfully for him?
  Will you show partiality toward him?
    Will you plead the case for God?
  Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
    Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man?
10   He will surely rebuke you
    if in secret you show partiality.
11   Will not his majesty terrify you,
    and the dread of him fall upon you?
12   Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
    your defenses are defenses of clay.
13   “Let me have silence, and I will speak,
    and let come on me what may.
14   Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
    and put my life in my hand?
15   Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
    yet I will argue my ways to his face.
16   This will be my salvation,
    that the godless shall not come before him.
17   Keep listening to my words,
    and let my declaration be in your ears.
18   Behold, I have prepared my case;
    I know that I shall be in the right.
19   Who is there who will contend with me?
    For then I would be silent and die.
20   Only grant me two things,
    then I will not hide myself from your face:
21   withdraw your hand far from me,
    and let not dread of you terrify me.
22   Then call, and I will answer;
    or let me speak, and you reply to me.
23   How many are my iniquities and my sins?
    Make me know my transgression and my sin.
24   Why do you hide your face
    and count me as your enemy?
25   Will you frighten a driven leaf
    and pursue dry chaff?
26   For you write bitter things against me
    and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.
27   You put my feet in the stocks
    and watch all my paths;
    you set a limit for the soles of my feet.
28   Man wastes away like a rotten thing,
    like a garment that is moth-eaten.

14:1   “Man who is born of a woman
    is few of days and full of trouble.
  He comes out like a flower and withers;
    he flees like a shadow and continues not.
  And do you open your eyes on such a one
    and bring me into judgment with you?
  Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
    There is not one.
  Since his days are determined,
    and the number of his months is with you,
    and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,
  look away from him and leave him alone,
    that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day.
  “For there is hope for a tree,
    if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
    and that its shoots will not cease.
  Though its root grow old in the earth,
    and its stump die in the soil,
  yet at the scent of water it will bud
    and put out branches like a young plant.
10   But a man dies and is laid low;
    man breathes his last, and where is he?
11   As waters fail from a lake
    and a river wastes away and dries up,
12   so a man lies down and rises not again;
    till the heavens are no more he will not awake
    or be roused out of his sleep.
13   Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
    that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
    that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14   If a man dies, shall he live again?
    All the days of my service I would wait,
    till my renewal should come.
15   You would call, and I would answer you;
    you would long for the work of your hands.
16   For then you would number my steps;
    you would not keep watch over my sin;
17   my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
    and you would cover over my iniquity.
18   “But the mountain falls and crumbles away,
    and the rock is removed from its place;
19   the waters wear away the stones;
    the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
    so you destroy the hope of man.
20   You prevail forever against him, and he passes;
    you change his countenance, and send him away.
21   His sons come to honor, and he does not know it;
    they are brought low, and he perceives it not.
22   He feels only the pain of his own body,
    and he mourns only for himself.”

Luke 17:11–19 ()

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11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Psalm 11 ()

()

To the choirmaster. Of David.

11:1   In the LORD I take refuge;
  how can you say to my soul,
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
  for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
  if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”
  The LORD is in his holy temple;
    the LORD's throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
  The LORD tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
  Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
  For the LORD is righteous;
  he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face.

Proverbs 8:4–5 ()

()

  “To you, O men, I call,
    and my cry is to the children of man.
  O simple ones, learn prudence;
    O fools, learn sense.

Thu 14 March, 2019


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