Monday, January 19, 2009

Will a Man Serve God for Nothing

The following thoughts come from a long time friend Dr. Charles Wood. A man who has experienced some of Jobs struggles. The main theme of the book of Job is a question "Will a man serve God for nothing?" Please study to early chapters of the book of Job and see for your self. Suffering is a theme in the book but not the main theme. Job's struggles are many and intense. He struggles with his circumstances, with himself (a major factor in the book), with his wife, with his friends and with his God. The struggle with his friends takes up much of the book and is quite revealing. I think the phrase "With friends like these, one doesn't need enemies," may have originated in Job. They were so spiritually ignorant that they said the right things to the wrong person, the wrong things to the right person, the wrong thing to the wrong person, but never got around to saying the right thing to the right person. We have the theme (a question and its answer), and we know the story. What remains is the lessons we can learn from his experience of God's dealings in his life. I believe there are at least ten lessons we can learn from His servant, Job. 1. God always has His purposes even though they are often unknown to us (should I have said most often unknown to us?). A praise chorus says, "though I may not understand all the plans You have for me, my life is in Your hands, and through the darkest night I can plainly see, God is good!" And His overall purpose can be known: to glorify Himself through His servants. 2. Satan is alive and well on planet earth. No sense belaboring this point as we all have eyes and ears. I always have mixed emotions at this point, however, as it is easy to blame everything that goes wrong on Satan and to fall back on the old excuse, "the Devil made me do it." The opposite, however, is equally wrong and dangerous - that Satan isn't involved in anything that happens. Don't automatically blame your troubles on Satan as some of the worst may be self-created. Don't, however, rule out the role that Satan plays in keeping the world in rebellion and the Saints in personal turmoil. 3. Struggles don't indicate sin in the life. Don't get over-simplified! Job had done nothing wrong to warrant what happened to him. Don't assume that your own sufferings or those of others have their root in some specific sin. It would be wise also to realize that lack of struggles at a particular time does not indicate that "God loves you better than He does His other children." 4. The overall story of the exchange between God and Satan also brings to the forefront the importance of motives. What Satan was really after was discovering the actual motives that drove Job. How much we need to examine our hearts to be sure that what we do is done for the right motive (at best as humans are able to do such). I've often said that right is its own reward. This - and many other truths -expresses that our motives are what determines the worth, if not the outcomes, of our efforts for the Lord. 5. It is natural for man to struggle. I think there has been a lot of erroneous teaching in this area. You know, the "comfort cliches" that are part of an evangelical arsenal. If you think a struggling believer is required to "suffer in internal silence while expressing major external happiness," I think you have missed the point. David wore no masks, nor was pretense found in his soul. Read the Psalms again. David said some things to the Lord that I would be even hesitant to think, and he did so out of the intense struggles through which he was passing. I'm not God, but I do know from Scripture that He remembers what we forget, even about ourselves: that we are dust! 6. This follows on the last point. It is ok to take our struggles to the Lord. He knows what's going on in our minds anyway, and it would seem only logical to openly bring such matters to Him. Again, I cite many of the Psalms of David. You can suffer in silence and loneliness, but I'm not at all sure that is necessary. If He keeps all our tears in a bottle, then he must have a lot of crying people coming to the throne. 7. The lessons to be learned are always worth the trials to be endured. Many of us can testify that some of the greatest learning experiences of life have been provided by the problems we have faced (especially those that were of our own making). In a moment we will see some of the incredible lessons Job learned. There is enough in the book to change our usually approach of "How can I get out of this?" to "What can I get out of this?" 8. Great flashes of light often come in the darkest of night. In the midst of his struggles (in Chapter 19), Job makes some striking revelations. Remember, Job probably lived in the Patriarchal age, and his story may well be the oldest in Scripture. With that in mind, look at the "flashes of light" God gave him. He got a glimpse of personal redemption - verse 25. ('I know that my Redeemer liveth" which expresses personal faith in redemption by a Personal Redeemer"). He got a glimpse of eternal resurrection - verses 25&26. "He shall stand upon the earth." (an interesting indication of millennial truth) "In my flesh I shall see God" He got a glimpse of supernatural recognition - verse 27. "Whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold" even though right now I feel like I am being destroyed ("my heart faints within me"). 9. Ultimately, (in heaven), things always turn out right. Humanly and temporally, they do not. The way the lives of some of God's choicest servant end is, from a human standpoint, just plain not right. The assurance is, however, that in the end, it all comes out right. What we must realize is that death is not the end, and that "the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed." 10. The final message of Job: Hang on to your faith no matter what. Job is a book of broad perspective, and we need to realize that Job didn't know what we know - that he was going to see it all come out right in this life (which also happens at times today). On the basis of what we know now, however, we would surely say to Job, "Hang in there, Buddy." And that's a good note on which to leave our study of Job - "Hang in there, friend." God knows what He is doing whether or not we have even so much as a clue. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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