Archive for April 14, 2012

Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 13)

God In the Spotlight (Job 4, 5)

All of our life has as its designed purpose to know Him and enjoy Him, our heavenly Father. Paul put the sum of his purpose this way, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Philippians 3:10. We all give lip service to the importance of relationship with God through Jesus Christ and yet it seems there are a thousand other things that we place as a higher priority than getting to know our Daddy.

What we often consider knowing God is actually nothing more than the collecting of some Bible facts about Him, picking out the ones we like and dismissing the ones that are hard or difficult to understand or accept and calling that man-created persona we hold in our mind Almighty God.

These little facts that we have collected about God probably reveal less than one percent of who He actually is. It would be like looking at the Grand Canyon through a straw that is fixed on a particular view and proclaiming that you have seen the Grand Canyon in all its majesty. Only now imagine that you are looking at the One who measures the universe in the palm of His hand through the same straw.

Truth is a Light and Light is very revealing. In fact Jesus, the Light and the Truth said, “… Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” John 14:9. Just as in the example of looking at the Grand Canyon through the straw, we tend to see Jesus and thus the Father with a spotlight, illuminating a smaller part of the bigger Truth. We see truth (little T), yet Truth (big T)remains unknown to us.

What we are dealing with in Job chapters 4 and 5 is men who know some things about God, but don’t know Him. They have a spotlight in the universe of God. They see parts that come into view but don’t see the parts that have not been yet revealed. To know God is not a logical fact or a mental perception it is a revelation fact. As far as I can tell, it will take all eternity to search the universe Life of God with a spotlight. Unless God reveals Himself through revelation, you cannot know Him. “… for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 16:17.

As an important reminder consider this passage: “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.  And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.  And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.  [Ye] Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” John 5:36-40.

You can read all the scripture you like, and that is great because they testify of Him. But you will not know Him until you come to Him and He reveals Himself to you. This is the confusion of Job’s friends. They have knowledge and facts about God that they have collected and they believe they know God when actually they know some things, very finite and limited, about Him. If they actually knew Him (in part) then they would realize that they don’t know Him (in whole).

Eliphaz begins by reminding Job and he their friends have God figured out and is hinting that Job should understand exactly what God is doing with him. “Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.  Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.  But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.” Job 4: 3-5.

The tone is somewhat sarcastic implying that you have instructed others and now that you are in the seat of suffering and you are experiencing things yourself, you want to change your perception of God. Exactly. That is it. We could just about stop here. Yes, we do hold a view of God that is workable with our current understanding. Current is the key point, we are looking through the straw, we have a spotlight on God. As the spotlight is moved through the universe of a new experience we have now a more current view of God.

Eliphaz continues to expound on their theology of God, the preconception that God blesses the good man and does not bless the bad man. “Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?  Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” vv. 7,8.

Did we think that we could go to church and Sunday School for thirty years and exhaust the knowledge of God? As a modern-day prophet has said, “We are far too familiar with a God we hardly know.” Again, this is to be likened to an ant that has surveyed the limits of the sand box and believes he has seen all the world there is to see. It is exactly in the seat of suffering that our spotlight gets a new, even larger focus, that we see something that we had not noticed before.

I am come to believe that it is only in the seat of suffering that God really does have our attention. I don’t mean to discount true desire and Holy Spirit led seeking. It’s just that we do not focus so intensely on our inner man and our relationship to God and others, we do not take a true inventory of our heart and our actions and motives until we are in the seat of affliction, trial and suffering.

I told a pastor friend about seven years ago when relaying my then present suffering (and now continued suffering) that there was so much that God wanted to do with me that required such a deep surgery and removal of big noxious parts of me that He had to get me to willingly come to His operating table. It was my love for Him and the others in my life alone that brought me to the state of willingness to endure such great personal loss and pain. There was no way I would have been willing, much less understood that I needed to do this (e.g. be willing to die to mySelf), if it were not brought to my attention and concentrated focus through suffering.

You might even say that suffering is God’s chosen and often favorite instrument. So much work can be done by The Master Physician and His scalpel. It can make the finest, most accurate incision that you cannot even imagine. He is an Artist in the operating room.

Those people in the waiting room have no idea about the precision of the surgery that is going on in you. Job’s three friends are not under the scalpel. God does not have their attention. Their logical thinking, their theology, their beliefs about their beliefs are occupying their mind. Meanwhile God is transforming the mind of Job, renewing him through the revelation of Himself. And Job is a patient patient, he does not reject the Doctor’s program for him.

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality. Now the spotlight is on you.

Quote Title Quotation Source
Fate Frozen in Fear There was one moment indeed, when the song first started and everyone was startled into silence, when she might have called to him to come and help her. She did not realize that the Fearings were holding their breath lest she did call, and had she done so, they would have fled helter-skelter through the door. However, she was too stunned with fear to seize the opportunity, and then it was too late. The next moment she felt Coward s heavy hand laid tightly over her mouth, then other hands gripped her firmly and held her in her chair. So the Shepherd slowly passed the cottage, showing himself at the window, and singing the signal song, but receiving no response of any kind. Hannah Hurnard – Hinds Feet on High Places, circa 1950, © American version 1975 by Tyndale House Publishers.
Whose Mind is Stayed On Thee – 2 Cor.13:11 No one can have the consciousness of God and not be content. George MacDonald – The Best of George MacDonald © 2006 Cook Communications Ministries.
Righteous Anger Is For Another, Not Self Our estimate of honour measures our growth in grace. What we stand up for proves what our character is like. If we stand up for our reputation it is a sign it needs standing up for! God never stands up for His saints, they do not need it. The devil tells lies about men, but no slander on earth can alter a man s character. Once let God s honour be slandered, and instantly there is something else to deal with in your meek saint. You cannot arouse him on his own account, but once begin to slander God and a new sense of honour is awakened, a new estimate has been put in. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
As Goes the Life, So Goes the Work What is true of God is true of men. Life is action and reveals itself in what it accomplishes. The bodily life, the intellectual, the moral, the spiritual life — individual, social, national life — each of these is judged by its work. The character and quality of the work depend on the life — as the life, so the work. And, on the other hand, the life depends on the work. Without this there can be no full development and manifestation and perfecting of the life — as the work, so the life. Andrew Murray – God’s Plans for You, circa 1890, © 1983 by Whitaker House
Deceived by a Treacherous “Friend” The wages that sin bargains with the sinner are life, pleasure, and profit; but the wages it pays him with are death, torment, and destruction. He that would understand the falsehood and deceit of sin, must compare its promises and its payment together. Robert South, D.D., 1633-1716 Charles H. Spurgeon – The Treasury of David abridged by David Otis Fuller, circa 1880, © 1968 by David Otis Fuller, Published by Kregel Publications
Follow His Gleam Not of the sunlight,
Not of the moonlight.
Not of the starlight!
O young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel,
And crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow the Gleam
Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
Can Two Walk Together, Lest Agreed? Lord, You have commanded me, “Make straight paths!”, yet I am yoked to another who is deaf to your command, whose heart strays and will submit to no one. The plow has drawn a crooked and perverse line in the earth, yet Lord, You can make even the crooked tree straight. I cannot contend with this yoke fellow. You must release me lest we stray together. Tom Van Hoogen
Going Home One Step at a Time And how am I to go back again? Start back by avoiding vice, going no farther into it, and you have come home. When a person who is sick does not get any worse it is a sign that he is getting better, and so is the case with vice. Go no further and your deeds of wickedness will have an end. If you do so for two days, you will keep off on the third more easily; and after three days he will then add 10, then 20, then 100, then your whole life. For the further you journey back the easier it will be to see how you should be, and the more you will begin to see of your great rewards.
So it was with the prodigal who, when he returned, was greeted with flutes and harps and dancing and feasts. His father who might have chided him for his ill-timed extravagance did nothing of the sort. He did not even mention it, but rather, looked at him as without stain, throwing himself upon him and kissing him.
John Chrysostom – Sermon on Dying to Sin – circa 400; excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
Blessings Come From Deep, Not Shallow, Roots Christ’s word “Blessed” is an infinitely lovelier word than our word “happy.” Our “happy” stands related to “hap” “luck,” “chance.”: it is a gamblers paradise. But the “Blessed” of the Beatitudes is suggestive of natural fruitfulness; it stands related to the roses round my lawn, to the corn in yonder valley’s and to the autumnal harvest of the orchard. It has to do with the joys that arise spontaneously and inevitably from certain fixed conditions. It is the word “Macaria,” a name that was once given to the island of Cyprus because that island was said to be so fertile as to be able to produce upon its own shores every thing that its inhabitants could either require or desire. F. W. Boreham – The Heavenly Octave: A Study of the Beatitudes, Copyright 1936 by F. W. Boreham
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