Bigger Picture

‘A great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’ 1 Corinthians 16:9 NKJV

Sometimes we can get so focused on the things going on in our lives right now, and the things that we’re going through, that we miss seeing the bigger picture. We get caught up in the details and the tough stuff, and we forget that this particular situation is just a part of our lives. It’s in those times that we need to step back and ask God to help us see the bigger picture.

Paul wrote, ‘A great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’ Opportunity and obstacles—they go together like macaroni and cheese or fish and chips. Now, Paul didn’t deny the reality of the opposition he faced; he just chose to focus on the opportunity it presented. We need to ask ourselves what we’re focused on. Are we looking at the troubles and forgetting that there are opportunities alongside them? Are we so focused on what’s happening that we forget that God will work it all together for good? In Romans 8:28 NCV it says: ‘We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him.’

It can be really challenging to remember the bigger picture when we can’t see it, or to accept that God will bring good out of the situation when we’re not sure how He can. That’s where faith comes in. The Bible tells us to ‘live by faith, not by sight.’ (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV) And it says that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours (take a look at Isaiah 55:8–9). We’re not going to understand everything, but we have to trust that God knows what He’s doing, and that He will do what He has promised. We have to believe that all things in our lives, even the dark times, play a part in His bigger picture.

SoulFood: Job 15–17, Matt 24:36–51, Ps 55:1–11, Pro 8:17–18

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2020

Today’s Readings

Job 15–17 ()

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15:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

  “Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge,
    and fill his belly with the east wind?
  Should he argue in unprofitable talk,
    or in words with which he can do no good?
  But you are doing away with the fear of God
    and hindering meditation before God.
  For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
    and you choose the tongue of the crafty.
  Your own mouth condemns you, and not I;
    your own lips testify against you.
  “Are you the first man who was born?
    Or were you brought forth before the hills?
  Have you listened in the council of God?
    And do you limit wisdom to yourself?
  What do you know that we do not know?
    What do you understand that is not clear to us?
10   Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us,
    older than your father.
11   Are the comforts of God too small for you,
    or the word that deals gently with you?
12   Why does your heart carry you away,
    and why do your eyes flash,
13   that you turn your spirit against God
    and bring such words out of your mouth?
14   What is man, that he can be pure?
    Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?
15   Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones,
    and the heavens are not pure in his sight;
16   how much less one who is abominable and corrupt,
    a man who drinks injustice like water!
17   “I will show you; hear me,
    and what I have seen I will declare
18   (what wise men have told,
    without hiding it from their fathers,
19   to whom alone the land was given,
    and no stranger passed among them).
20   The wicked man writhes in pain all his days,
    through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.
21   Dreadful sounds are in his ears;
    in prosperity the destroyer will come upon him.
22   He does not believe that he will return out of darkness,
    and he is marked for the sword.
23   He wanders abroad for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’
    He knows that a day of darkness is ready at his hand;
24   distress and anguish terrify him;
    they prevail against him, like a king ready for battle.
25   Because he has stretched out his hand against God
    and defies the Almighty,
26   running stubbornly against him
    with a thickly bossed shield;
27   because he has covered his face with his fat
    and gathered fat upon his waist
28   and has lived in desolate cities,
    in houses that none should inhabit,
    which were ready to become heaps of ruins;
29   he will not be rich, and his wealth will not endure,
    nor will his possessions spread over the earth;
30   he will not depart from darkness;
    the flame will dry up his shoots,
    and by the breath of his mouth he will depart.
31   Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself,
    for emptiness will be his payment.
32   It will be paid in full before his time,
    and his branch will not be green.
33   He will shake off his unripe grape like the vine,
    and cast off his blossom like the olive tree.
34   For the company of the godless is barren,
    and fire consumes the tents of bribery.
35   They conceive trouble and give birth to evil,
    and their womb prepares deceit.”

16:1 Then Job answered and said:

  “I have heard many such things;
    miserable comforters are you all.
  Shall windy words have an end?
    Or what provokes you that you answer?
  I also could speak as you do,
    if you were in my place;
  I could join words together against you
    and shake my head at you.
  I could strengthen you with my mouth,
    and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.
  “If I speak, my pain is not assuaged,
    and if I forbear, how much of it leaves me?
  Surely now God has worn me out;
    he has made desolate all my company.
  And he has shriveled me up,
    which is a witness against me,
  and my leanness has risen up against me;
    it testifies to my face.
  He has torn me in his wrath and hated me;
    he has gnashed his teeth at me;
    my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.
10   Men have gaped at me with their mouth;
    they have struck me insolently on the cheek;
    they mass themselves together against me.
11   God gives me up to the ungodly
    and casts me into the hands of the wicked.
12   I was at ease, and he broke me apart;
    he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
  he set me up as his target;
13     his archers surround me.
  He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare;
    he pours out my gall on the ground.
14   He breaks me with breach upon breach;
    he runs upon me like a warrior.
15   I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin
    and have laid my strength in the dust.
16   My face is red with weeping,
    and on my eyelids is deep darkness,
17   although there is no violence in my hands,
    and my prayer is pure.
18   “O earth, cover not my blood,
    and let my cry find no resting place.
19   Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven,
    and he who testifies for me is on high.
20   My friends scorn me;
    my eye pours out tears to God,
21   that he would argue the case of a man with God,
    as a son of man does with his neighbor.
22   For when a few years have come
    I shall go the way from which I shall not return.

17:1   “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct;
    the graveyard is ready for me.
  Surely there are mockers about me,
    and my eye dwells on their provocation.
  “Lay down a pledge for me with you;
    who is there who will put up security for me?
  Since you have closed their hearts to understanding,
    therefore you will not let them triumph.
  He who informs against his friends to get a share of their property—
    the eyes of his children will fail.
  “He has made me a byword of the peoples,
    and I am one before whom men spit.
  My eye has grown dim from vexation,
    and all my members are like a shadow.
  The upright are appalled at this,
    and the innocent stirs himself up against the godless.
  Yet the righteous holds to his way,
    and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger.
10   But you, come on again, all of you,
    and I shall not find a wise man among you.
11   My days are past; my plans are broken off,
    the desires of my heart.
12   They make night into day:
    ‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’
13   If I hope for Sheol as my house,
    if I make my bed in darkness,
14   if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
    and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’
15   where then is my hope?
    Who will see my hope?
16   Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
    Shall we descend together into the dust?”


Matthew 24:36–51 ()

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36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Psalm 55:1–11 ()

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To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.

55:1   Give ear to my prayer, O God,
    and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
  Attend to me, and answer me;
    I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
  because of the noise of the enemy,
    because of the oppression of the wicked.
  For they drop trouble upon me,
    and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
  My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
  Fear and trembling come upon me,
    and horror overwhelms me.
  And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest;
  yes, I would wander far away;
    I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
  I would hurry to find a shelter
    from the raging wind and tempest.”
  Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
    for I see violence and strife in the city.
10   Day and night they go around it
    on its walls,
  and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11     ruin is in its midst;
  oppression and fraud
    do not depart from its marketplace.

Proverbs 8:17–18 ()

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17   I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me diligently find me.
18   Riches and honor are with me,
    enduring wealth and righteousness.

Mon 23 March, 2020


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