Watch Your Step

Job 18

Comes as no surprise to most: we live in a dangerous world, surrounded by much that will cause harm. Life didn’t start out that way, became dangerous when sin showed up. Problem is not the dangers we can see or recognize, is ones that are hidden that give us fits. Dangers can be hidden from sight, can be hidden behind a mask or covering that intentionally deceives. Something harmful can be made to look innocent or even inviting; requires us to be vigilant, alert at all times for ourselves and those in our care. If you are to stay safe and out of danger, you must watch your step. In some parts of world, “watch your step” takes on even greater significance.

05/18/14 “Bosnia and Serbia (former Yugoslavia) are struggling to recover from the worst flooding in a century, after three months of rain fell in just three days in the Balkan countries. but in Bosnia another deadly menace is hiding in the flood rubble: land mines. Authorities have spent two decades trying to unearth the 1 million land mines planted during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. Before the floods, nearly 120,000 remained in 9,416 marked minefields. Then floods washed away river banks and fueled landslides that have unearthed minefield warning signs and, in many cases, the unexploded booby traps themselves.”

Bildad didn’t think he was preaching to the choir; thought he was doing Job a favor, warning him about dangers that threatened his eternal well-being. Bildad identified 6 landmines in speech in Chapter 18. He certainly believed he was safe from all of them. Job must have encountered several of them, a wonder he had survived this long. What Bildad did not understand about landmines – all are susceptible, everyone is at risk; mines do not discriminate between friend and foe, soldier or civilian.

These six landmines can ruin everyone’s day – Christian or not, young or old. Taken to an extreme, they can ruin your eternity. May God by his Spirit give us discernment to read and heed the warning signs, to watch our steps.

A. #1 – self-importance (4)

in case you missed it on 11/18/13, “With a fanfare and a drum roll, it’s time to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. The votes have been counted and verified and I can exclusively reveal that the winner is….selfie. The decision was unanimous this year, with little if any argument.”

Bildad’s question, v.4, put another way: “Job, do you think the world revolves around you? Are you really the center of the universe?”

Bildad’s take: Job expected God to drop everything, come running to make it all better, just for him

for sure an important thing to think about – whose needs come first here? where is focus of attention?

would be easy to blame Facebook for all the world’s ills; don’t bother – what we see there is evidence of the problem, not root of it; Facebook simply an easy broadcast medium

problem starts with the heart, who is sitting in the driver’s seat; used to be bumper sticker, “Jesus is my co-pilot”; you nuts?? if Jesus is in the car, he’s driving

in too many hearts, Jesus isn’t driving, or he’s getting help from backseat driver

whole idea of a selfie: camera is focused on self; vast majority of time, self fills the picture

Christian needs to take the camera, turn it around, focus it on others; do the same with their sight and thoughts

two examples: Jesus, greatest Man; Paul, greatest apostle

Matt. 20:26-28“whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

if anyone had right to be first in line, was Jesus; out of all his followers, who was first in line for the Cross? Jesus was only one in line – wasn’t to prove anything to the world, even to God; certainly wasn’t to put himself first.

Jesus put our needs ahead of his own desires, is own comfort, even his own life; in doing that he purposely set example for us to follow

Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

most dramatic conversion, most books written of New Testament, perhaps most converts of any apostle – not a word about any of that: not I who live but Christ…

B. #2 – prosperity (6)

Job would have been justified in telling Bildad “well, duh, I know that” to his next observation – you shouldn’t trust in your prosperity

of course he knew that; the lights had gone out in his tent ’cause he didn’t have money for oil

that was probably on Job’s mind, but not very near the front; wasn’t what he was complaining to God about – he never charged God with being unfair because he took all Job’s stuff away

Job knew being prosperous wasn’t a problem; issue is which ranks higher, and…whose resources are they really

one landmine leads to the next – when self grows in importance, how much it takes to satisfy self grows also

when you become more prosperous, you rise in importance: in eyes of others and of self – must be a big deal, look at all the things, size of house, cost of car, size of contributions to worthy causes

might be spin on that theme – time or position rather than money; give time to this/that/the other – prosperous in influence more than possessions

remember what Jesus said: Matt. 8:20And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

C. #3 – inattention (8)

one who is attentive, who heeds warnings usually avoids walking into traps; was at Maine Wildlife Park, little child there persisted in walking backward – repeatedly stumbling, running into things

sometimes inattention can be deadly:

“Brittney Silva died on Monday night (05/19/14) after being hit by an Amtrak train in San Leandro, California. At the time of the tragic accident this 18-year-old girl was wearing earphones as she engaged in a heated argument with her father (on her cellphone). An onlooker tried to warn her of the pending danger but she failed to respond.”

inattention leads to all sorts of poor choices – things that damage relationships, compromise our Christian testimony, distort our way of thinking about God and life

Jesus was always paying attention: Matt. 22:16-18And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.“Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?”

D. #4 – overconfidence (11)

“greater certainty than circumstances warrant”; often leads to getting into situations beyond ability to cope with – then panic

“Firefighters used a ladder truck Tuesday afternoon (05/13/14) to rescue a woman from atop a 25-foot-high granite abutment in the Kennebec River (in Waterville) after she climbed up but was too scared to climb down. …It was the second time in two days that firefighters went to the abutment to help rescue someone.”

I’ll let you in on a “secret” – if your confidence is in your self, it’s a given: you’ll get in over your head eventually

but wait, there’s more: if you’re a Christian and gaining confidence in self, God will put you in situation where you have to trust in him

we like to think of heroes of Bible, our goal to be like them and do great and mighty things; listen to one of them

Phil. 4:12-13I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.I can do all things….through Christ who strengthens me.

E. #5 – indispensability (15)

true, Bildad is talking to homeless guy; but, he can’t resist asking – if you’re so important, who will be living in your tent in a hundred years? won’t even be your relatives!

this one’s an easy landmine to step on – if I don’t do it, it won’t get done; even better – If I do it, it will at least get done right

don’t go to other extreme – you or what you do have no significance; that’s wrong attitude also

every child of God is vital to his kingdom and has specific role to play; if we don’t or can’t do something, God’s purpose will not be frustrated

1 Cor. 3:6-8I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. (NIV)

F. #6 – invincibility (18)

if kinds of choices they make is any indicator, seems that young people most guilty of stepping on this landmine

older adults and Christians susceptible to it also: I raised my kids according to the formula, they’ll all turn out right; yeah, I’m never home, but I’m doing the Lord’s work and the family will be ok

many times it comes out as immunity to the tough stuff everybody else is dealing with – I’m a Christian so God will protect me from that; I won’t have to experience the darkness of despair, financial need, broken relationships, cancer

here’s what the Bible says about that:

James 5:10My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

G. one sure-fire preventive

knowledge of God (21)

2 Cor. 10:4-5For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

we are in a war, landmines all around planted by the enemy; have weapons, primary weapon is knowing God and his truth

more and better we know God, the Bible, better understanding we have of our dependence on God for absolutely everything

and…better understanding we have of how graciously he supplies all our needs when we rely on him – follow Jesus, stay close to Jesus, give all the glory to Jesus, show others what it means to love Jesus and depend on him

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