Love Came Down to Us All

2013-10-20 17.17.13For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me,And what I dreaded has happened to me.I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes.”[1]

Since last Friday’s brutal attack by Isis in the city streets of Paris, fear has grown rampant, like black mould in a grow op, even as thwarted bomb attempts in England and Germany leave many wondering where the next attack may land. All of the Western world in on high alert, dreading that what happened in Paris is coming to their nation.

Job was famous as the wisest leader in ancient Middle Asia. As he processed the death of his children, the loss of all his resources and a painful disease afflicting his health, he miserably commented that what he feared the most has happened.

When Job offered daily sacrifices for his kids, in case they sinned, he was trying to offset the inevitable consequences of sin for his children. Then, tragedy struck and what he feared most, happened. His children were all killed in a hurricane, raiders came to every border and raided his livestock. Boils broke out all over Job’s body, from head to toe. This righteous man began a season of suffering which makes even the toughest reader cringe.

Many theologians suggest that fear undid Job. Yet the opening chapters of this narrative begins with the backroom drama of heaven.  In formal proceedings, Job is presented as God’s delight, offered as proof to Satan that worship by humanity occurs with or without God’s provision, that Job feared God as a glorious act of will, unhindered by circumstance.

Twice, God Almighty describes Job in glowing terms to Satan,stating “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.”(Job 1:8) and then “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. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (Job 2:3)

2013-10-20 17.18.33Twice, Job was tempted, and twice, the Bible states that he did not sin. When his children were killed and his provisions stolen, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:22). When his body was afflicted with massive boils and intense pain, the Bible states “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”(Job 2:10).

The story of Job’s tragedy, his response, God’s revelation of Himself and the restoration of Job’s life is a diorama of worship, a three dimensional model penned by heaven’s cry to worship Almighty God for Who He is, not His provision, though His faithfulness is a reliable construct His children can always lean against.

Fear God, NO MATTER WHAT, is the battle cry of Job.

Know the greatness of your God. Do not shrink God down to the minuscule portal of your own perceptions. Do not limit your God to your own simple understanding. Do not frame God in the limitations of your solo experience. Do not fear life or the risks before us. Fear your God and live.

When tragedy exploded in Job’s life, he refused to turn his back on God. He refused to blame God, to charge God with wrong doing. He would not retract his worship, nor curse His God, even when Job knew God was large and in charge, and ultimately had allowed the pain and suffering to cut through to Job’s life.

Though he did not understand God’s ways, Job refused to curse his God. Instead, he asked for clarification. God answered Job with more revelation of Himself, personal, intimate and unhindered, than anywhere else in the Bible.

Oh that we, like Job, would stand strong in worship, through every season. God loves our faith when we refuse to blame Him for the storm!

2013-10-15 11.06.57How He loves when we trust Him, when we admit our fears and choose to trust God regardless of outcome.

Like Job, Apostle Paul suffered immensely in his Christian life as did many of the persecuted Christians in the early days of the church. Yet, sitting in jail, Paul penned:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things .[2]

Despite good times or brutal experience, Paul just kept worshiping his God. Paul lived from an eternal new covenant perspective, trusting in the intimate relationship that Jesus Christ had secured with those nails on the cross. As a beloved son, Paul now lived with confidence that His Father had his back. Paul refused to live as a slave, in Old Testament legalism, where the worshiper hoped for provision if he was good enough, in fear of judgment, always trying hard to appease an angry God, offering extra sacrifices, just in case. Unlike Job’s reality, Paul lived knowing Christ had atoned for every sin. The life we have in God is forever secured and with this perspective, fear is slain :

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Heb 10:11-14)

2014-10-22 16.17.17Joyce Meyers, in the Battlefield of the Mind, teaches that our thought life can either catapult or paralyze our faith journey and challenges believers to submit their thoughts to the grid of the Word.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, in Who Switched off my Brain suggests there are only two patterns of neurological thought: fear-based and faith-based.  With the latest brain imagery technology, Dr. Leaf shows thorny negativity-saturated dendrites compared to healthy positive dendrites. With empirical data, Dr. Leaf proves that our thought life can create brain damage or brain health; what we think affects all systems in our body.

Dr. David Amen, author of Change your Mind, Change your Life and Rewiring the Hardware of the Soul, suggests that when we audit our thought patterns and remove negative thinking patterns, we shift our brain chemistry.  How we think and what we think about can change unhealthy behavior patterns and realign the hardware of the soul.   Dr. Amen advocates not just balanced diet and daily exercise but also positive thinking as essential to maintain good health.

Right now,  we believers need to live a life that is filled, flooded and overwhelmed with expectation in the goodness of our God.

IMG_0798In times of unease, torment and fear, we must gird our thoughts and keep anxiety far from our hearts.  We must choose to worship God, not because He can crush the latest threat or reveal the location of the next bomb (which He can) but because He is Holy and Righteous, Loving and True, worthy of all worship, at all times, as Our One True Living God Almighty.

I stand in awe of Almighty God.  This day, I invite you to worship our God, today and every day, for His exquisite beauty and unwavering Grace to us all.

Let’s Pray: Father God, You made us perfect through Your Son’s sacrifice. We pray for grace as beloved children of the Almighty. Keep fear far from us, Father, as we trust in Your goodness.  Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, search out our negative thinking and remove these destructive sinful thought patterns from our hearts and minds.  Thank you, Father for Your faithfulness.  Today, we trust in You. We place our nations in Your hands and cry out for those who suffer this day. We ask that You would comfort those ravaged by fear and tragedy, Father. Holy Spirit, awaken Your Church to rise up in mercy and grace, that the world would be shaken by the power of God released by Your Church as we pray. In Jesus’ Name, we decree peace upon the nations, peace upon the hearts of man and peace to our families, for Your Glory, O Lord.  Amen.

Study Questions:

1. How has tragedy affected your life in God?

2. Do you back away from God in times of suffering or draw closer to Him or like me,  sometimes do both?

3. How have your friends affected your faith?

4. How have you affected your friends’ faith?

5. What do you think about God right now in the context of the recent global events? Are you blaming or expecting? Are your thoughts negative or positive about God, yourself, your nation?  Where does hope come in to this process?

This Week’s Reading:  Esther 4 – Job 7

Next Week’s Reading: Job 8-18

[1]The New King James Version. 1982 (Job 3:25-26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2]The New King James Version. 1982 (Php 4:6-9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.