"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.". John 16:33

Friday, September 7, 2012

FIGHTER

I am going to keep this short. Basically somebody somewhere needs to hear this...

Do NOT give up.

"They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.  But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city." Acts 14:19-20

Homeboy was taken for DEAD! He was so out of it they were even able to DRAG him out of the city!! Not trying to lie, chances are, I would have given up long before that. Not many of us can say we would endure such persecution and not only keep living for God but go back to the people who persecuted us. Paul, the ultimate example of a servant fully surrendered to God, got up and went back to the people that just tried to kill him. That is some commitment. That is what a life sold out to Gods calling looks like. This example is now my reference point for the word FIGHTER. I am striving and asking God to help me get to this level. Nothing less. I want to be a fighter. I know God put this wild spirit in me for a reason and I don't deserve the title unless I am willing to go to battle like Paul.

Shoot, most of us wanna give up the moment someone hurts our feelings. My prayer for every person reading this is that no matter what obstacles we face, no matter how many times we are knocked down, we will continue to rise and return to the place God has called us to.  Just Standing up after being knocked down is not enough. Stand up, you must... But stand up to get back to the battle. Yes I think it is great that Paul was able to stand up at all after he was taken for dead but the real miracle is that he stood up and then stepped out.  He took the step back to the city.  Back to the people who rejected him.

Don't be content with mere survival.

As long as we still have breath in our lungs the trials and the struggles can not defeat us. And even then... Here's the real zinger... THEY STILL CAN NOT DEFEAT US!! Death has been defeated by our God! So today, in this moment, fear can go on ahead and move to the backseat... Matter of fact you know what? Fear can do more than that, it can get on up outta my car altogether.  I dont have time for that.  Neither should you.  No matter what God has called you to, if you choose to say yes to it, be willing to say yes at any cost and don't ever ever ever stop fighting for it.  I am going to take all of this to mean I am invincible... And if you've accepted the sacrifice Jesus Christ paid for you on that cross then so are you.

Let's start living like the fearless fighters God calls us to be.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My day with Job

As many of my friends know, I am currently unemployed.

One day recently, cabin fever was setting in and I woke up feeling sorry for myself.  "you're a failure" was repeating in my head over and over.  I began to think, "oh no what am I going to do? will I have to move? will I have to crawl back to SC with my tail between my legs and ask to move in with my parents?" Me, the eternal optimist, was allowing the Enemy's words of doubt and fear to seep in to my soul.  As soon as I realized what was happening I ran to my bible.  I knew that I needed a word from God to stop this madness.

When I start feeling sorry for myself, I always think about Job.  Homeboy just couldn't catch a break for anything.  I always feel a little shallow when I think about my problems in relation to his.  He lost it ALL.  I still have a home, I haven't been hungry too many times and I've got my health (and a gym membership) and when I really think about the blessings I have the list can go on and on...  It's sad how we take things for granted.

So I opened my instruction manual to Job and started taking notes on things that jumped out to me.  I have tried to order them in a more logical sequence so hopefully it helps someone out there.  Here is what I wrote down-some of it is from my head and some of it is the notes from my NIV Study Bible.

-STOP trying to be a better person, be a more faithful person.

1.  God's love for us isn't rationed on a deserve/don't deserve basis.  His love for us NEVER FAILS.  Trials and tribulations are not a sign that He has forgotten us or that He is punishing us.  We MUST praise him even in our awful, low, torturing moments of despair because really we're not praising Him for the promise of a reward or shower of blessings.  We are praising Him because He is God and regardless of what is happening in your life HIS LOVE FOR YOU IS ENDLESS.

-believing that God gives according to works is invalid and leaves you with no means of coping when you're a "good person" but living in troubled situations.  "The author of the book of Job broke out of the tight, logical mold of the traditional orthodox theology of his day.  He saw that it led to a dead end - that it had no way to cope with the suffering of godly people."

-"greatest human temptation: to love the gifts rather than the Giver, to try to please God merely for the sake of his benefits, to be "religious" and "good" only because it pays."

1:1 - In the land of Uz there lived a man named Job.  This man was blameless, and upright, he feared God and shunned evil.

2.Whether we like it or not, a third party is at work in our situations as well.  We anger against God when something awful happens because we think He is responsible.  We get mad, angry, bitter with God and He is not the one hurting us.  But friends, there is an amazing, glorious lesson in this story::: EVEN SATAN ANSWERS TO GOD!!! He can never hurt, harm, push, pull, manipulate, or tempt us past what we can handle, past what GOD ALLOWS!!! 

.Job doesn't consider the third party at work in his life.
-God started the conversation with Satan. 1:8 "Then the Lord said, 'Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless, and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.'" 1:12 "The Lord said to Satan, 'Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finer.'" He chose Job.  What an honor.  That's easy to say as an innocent bystander, but what did Job think?  He didn't know God chose him as an example.

3. A note about friendship: when a friend is in need, even if you think they're wrong, love them.  


-Briefly, I considered the idea that these people (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Naamathite) weren't actually his friends or at least they weren't very good ones.  But then I remembered the earlier mention of them. 2:11-12 "When Job's three friends...heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.  No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was."  Obviously they care a great deal for him.  I think these are just friends who let their mouths get the best of them.

-The trouble didn't start until they set out to rationalize the situation, when they started talking.  They begin telling him he is being punished for sin.  In their opinion Job needed to worship God, turn from his sinful ways and surely his life would be restored.  Job's argument: I am not going to worship God for the promise of blessings because that is selfish.When we try to explain/interpret God's actions in our friend's lives, pure as our motives may be, we can't.  Our call is to encourage, comfort and love one another.  We must encourage each others faith not try to explain Gods ways.  Most of all we must not condemn.  The more they talked the worse it got.

-Job 16:2-5 Helpful advice is usually brief and encouraging not lengthy and judgmental.

-For me the lesson is this: Sometimes the best thing I can do for my friends that are hurting is sit in silence with them.  So much can be communicated from sitting in silence with someone you really love.

4. We can't even begin to fathom the purposes and plans of God.  Our attempts at understanding God only lead us to a further realization that we can't know His ways.  Most importantly though, faith is not about answering our questions, it's about trusting even when we don't have a clue what is going on.  It is not our job to understand God's ways.  It is our job to trust God's ways.  

-When Job was being tested, he was in the dark about what God was doing, but he followed anyway.
    He was chosen as an example for the Kingdom  -yet he still lost:
         -7 sons, 3 daughters, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 donkeys, health (his skin was covered in boils and open sores), wife (even she told him he should repent so God would restore his life), friends (his friends who spent 7 days praying and weeping for him then decided to open their mouths and try to "explain" his situation), all human relations...

-Key theme-Shall we accept good from God and not trouble? Trouble and suffering are not merely punishment for sin for God's people.  They may serve as a trial or as a discipline that culminates in spiritual gain.

-Sometimes in moments of distress we want to know why God is punishing us.  We seek to explain why we don't deserve it.  But there is no arguing with God.  His way is always right, his plan always pure.  Given the chance to plead our innocence would we actually want to stand in court against God the almighty?  As hard as it is for us to comprehend what we CAN see, it is much harder to comprehend that which we can NOT see.  We question, blame, chastise God for hard times, but we are oblivious to the glory our suffering is bringing to the Kingdom and God or the plan that is being executed.

-Through all that and God still didn't tell Job WHY.  All the while Job is oblivious: God is pleased with him.  God ALLOWED all those things to happen because he knew Job could withstand it.  Job is measuring God's love on things he can see but God's plans for our life go so far beyond what we can see or dream.

-What difference does the why make? It won't change the course.  It would probably inflate our pride anyway.  If I knew WHY i was struggling or facing a trial I would try to fix it.  But constantly, God is asking me to submit my heart, mind, soul, longings, desires, wishes, fears, burdens, to Him so that HE can fix them.


-We think that God operates on a deserve/don't deserve system and that our value is measured by what we do, but God doesn't call first for works, He calls for faith.  We think that we are being punished when trouble falls on us but we must remember God doesn't punish us.  


Trials might serve to test our faith or teach us a lesson but they're not meant to punish us.  All his wrath, anger, disappointment and hurt was nailed to the cross with his son, Jesus.  Jesus took all the punishment for our sin.  No matter what we do, our Gods love will never falter, never fail, and never run out.