Archive for April 28, 2012

Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 15)

The Whittling Work of Waiting (Chapters 8,9,10)

The enemy is working feverishly to wear down Job, to get him to forsake God and His will. He is busy whittling Job down to nothing, till there is no hope left. Little does he know that he is accomplishing God’s work in the life of Job.

As long as we see how it will work out or could work out, we have hope. It is when we cannot see a way out that we must kick into faith gear. We are forced to come to grips with Who God has revealed Himself to be to us. This comes when we have exhausted our ideas and strategies and bag full of human tricks.

These chapters of the meaningless battering of Job’s friends and their religious perspective on life has a way of wearing on Job. Notice that they keep on trying to make meaning out of something that defies sense and the common experience of men, out of something that is foolishness to the natural man. Notice they keep taking pot shots at Job and he is becoming more and more annoyed at their platitudes and nonsensical illustrations.

Listen to Bildad who asks questions but gives no answers. How does that help Job in time of need? What ministry is that? the ministry of frustrating annoyance?

“Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,  How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?  Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?” Job 8:1-3 Inquisitive yes, helpful, encouraging, supportive, no. It sounds like Bildad is getting impatient with all Job’s suffering, like he is put out by the whole ordeal.

Then there is his string of “if” remarks which is nothing more than hypothetical escape from what actually is. “If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;  If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;  If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.” vv. 4-6.

This is Satan’s handiwork. He is whittling Job down, he is diminishing him piece by piece and using Job’s very friends (among other things) as the knives to do it. This is nothing less than death in stages. Job is being chipped away at. But that is how God works, like a sculptor, removing the me to reveal the Him that is in me. There is a son of God that needs to be released and exposed. There is a son that when his good works are shown, will give glory to God. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10.

Did Jesus do good works when He was here? Did He glorify His Father? You can bet your salvation on it. But what exactly were those good works? It was to reveal His Father in Him. Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” John 14:9. “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” John 6:38. Jesus goes on and says the things I do, the places I go, the things I say these are not mine but the Father’s.

Where is the fun in that? How can you live your whole life and not do what you want? not say what you want? not go where you want? Ask Jesus, that is what He did. You can do it when you understand that you have not come to do your own will but the will of Him who sent you. “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8.

Doing His Father’s will was the very joy of Jesus’ life. It was the thing that kept Him going through His trials, afflictions, sufferings. I mean think about it, Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.  As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:8-11.

Do you see the progression to Joy?

1.) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

God the Father and God the Son is glorified when we bear much fruit, when there are things showing in our life that exhibit to others our good works, i.e. His work showing through us.

2.) As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

This abiding is dependent on our knowing God’s love and remaining in that knowledge.

3.) If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

It is this love that motivates us to obey Him and do His will. We love Him because He first loved us. The love of God constrains us. Jesus asks, “How is it that you say you love me and keep not my commandments?” Obedience without love, obedience out of fear is bondage and slavery.

4.) These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

When we keep his commandments out of love for Him we experience Joy.

This is how Jesus experienced Joy among a life full of hardship, heartache, betrayal, vindictiveness, pain, suffering and death, even death on a cross. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2.

He was not in the thing for Himself, He was in it for His Father’s will. Once we learn to live for His will and not our own, once we eliminate expectations for what others should do for us and to us, once we submit to the sovereignty of a loving and all-powerful, all-knowing God, then we can learn to rest in Him, trusting that everything that comes to us comes from Him according to His will, for our good.

This is precisely what is being revealed in Job as he is learning to trust God and depend on His wisdom and love. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job 13:15.

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality (e.g. Him!).

Quote Title Quotation Source
Getting the Inside Scoop on Man There is one thing, and only one, in the whole universe which we know more about than we could learn from external observation. That one thing is Man. We do not merely observe men, we are men. In this case we have, so to speak, inside information; we are in the know. And because of that, we know that men find themselves under a moral law, which they did not make, and cannot quite forget even when they try, and which they know they ought to obey. Notice the following point. Anyone studying Man from the outside as we study electricity or cabbages, not knowing our language and consequently not able to get any inside knowledge from us, but merely observing what we did, would never get the slightest evidence that we had this moral law. How could he? For his observations would only show what we did, and the moral law is about what we ought to do. C. S. Lewis – Mere Christianity, copyright 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.
Credit Where Credit is Due This is a typical instance of the fact that God gives us credit, not for our impulses, but for the designs of our hearts. God may never allow the design to be carried out, but He credits us with it. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
Revealing the Stuff You are Made Of And God formed man from the dust of the earth… Each of us is made of earth stuff — rocks. It is amazing what can come from rocks given enough heat, pressure, and time. Yet nothing comes forth which was not inherently there at the first. With heat and time some reveal precious stones, able to capture and hold light within itself or to dazzle with amazing color and luster given from the light without. Others have a strength or a usefulness that is meted out as metal. This too is revealed by heat and more heat. Metal also reflects some light when shone upon. But the true darling of the earth is the diamond, formed from external pressures, and extreme heat applied over a long time. When cut and polished properly all light that comes to it is reflected in a multiplied manner. Then there are always just rocks. He made some for noble purposes and some for ignoble purposes. Tom Van Hoogen
All of Creation Testifies of Him, All All I had hitherto heard of Christian theology had alienated me from it. I was a pagan at the age of twelve, and a complete agnostic by the age of sixteen; and I cannot understand anyone passing the age of seventeen without having asked himself so simple a question. I did, indeed, retain cloudy reverence for a cosmic deity and a great historical interest in the Founder of Christianity. But I certainly regarded Him as a man; though perhaps I thought that, even in that point, He had an advantage over some of His modern critics. I read the scientific and skeptical literature of my time — all of it, at least that I could find written in English and lying about; and I read nothing else; I mean I read nothing else on any other note of philosophy…. I never read a line of Christian apologetics. I read as little as I can of them now. It was Huxley and Herbert Spencer and Bradlaugh who brought me back to orthodox theology. They sowed in my mind my first wild doubts of doubt. G. K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy, copyright 1908 by Dodd, Mead and Company
Dangerous, Very Dangerous Grace Judged by the standard of Luther s doctrine, that of his followers was unassailable, and yet their orthodoxy spelt the end and destruction of the Reformation as the revelation on earth of the costly grace of God. The justification of the sinner in the world degenerated into the justification of sin and the world. Costly grace was turned into cheap grace without discipleship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer – The Cost of Discipleship, circa 1945, copyright 1959 by SCM Press Ltd.
Wisdom Speaks to Those Who Call Out to Her Of all visible things, the universe is the greatest; of all invisible realities, the greatest is God. That the world exists we can see; we believe in the existence of God. But there is no one we can more safely trust than God Himself in regard to the fact that it was He who made the world. Where has He told us so? Nowhere more distinctly in the Holy Scriptures where His Prophet said: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Well, but was the Prophet present when God made heaven and earth? No; but the Wisdom of God by whom all things were made was there. And this Wisdom, entering into holy souls, makes of them the friends and prophets of God and reveals to them, silently and interiorly, what God has done. St. Augustine – The City of God, circa 400, copyright 1950 by Fathers of the Church
Sacrifice Beyond All that I Can Think or Imagine He wills that we see that His pains and His being made nothing so far surpass all that we can suffer that it can’t really be imagined. Dame Julian of Norwich – The Revelation of Divine Love circa 1343; © 1994 by M. L. del Mastro
On Being the Bride of Christ The Church must examine herself constantly to see if she be in the faith; she must engage in severe self-criticism with a cheerful readiness to make amends; she must live in a state of perpetual penitence, seeking God with her whole heart; she must constantly check her life and conduct against the Holy Scriptures and bring her life into line with the will of God. — Of God and Men A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God
Where Can I Run But to Thee, O Lord? The psalmist says, “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” And again he says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it and is safe.” “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee.” They cannot do anything else, because in knowing His name they know His character and His nature, that He is a God whom it is safe to trust to the uttermost. And there can be no doubt that a large part of the unrest and discomfort in so many Christian hearts comes simply from the fact that they do not yet know His name. Hannah Whitall Smith – The God of All Comfort, circa 1890 – 1956 Edition Moody Publishers
The Desire, Ability and Power to Pray Prayer is the work of the triune God: the Father, who wakens the desire and will give all we need; the Son, who through His intercession teaches us to pray in His name; and the Holy Spirit, who in secret will strengthen our feeble desires. Andrew Murray – Andrew Murray 365 Day Devotional, © 2006 Whitaker House.
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