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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Job Experience # 16

"That We May Be Able to Comfort Them Which Are In Any Trouble"

One of the many ways that God wants to flow through us is with His Comfort; He wants to flow through us "with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." When we, like Job, are going through whatever it takes to bring about a greater reality of Christ in our innermost being, we really need comfort. However, we do not need the kind of comfort that Job's friends offered him, for they tried to comfort him with that which came out of their own religious nature. - That which was religious in their old adamic man had laid hold of what they knew of God, and it became a mixture of good and evil; and they became wise in their eyes and self-righteous in their attitude of spirit toward others.

Therefore, Job felt condemned, not comforted. This religious, self-righteous attitude, which many times seems very spiritual, is always malignant and infectious; it is like an infectious disease or a poison that spreads with a rapid course. So, this religious attitude in Job's friends caused Job, who desperately needed comfort, to respond to their counsel out of his own religious nature as he became discouraged and tried to justify himself rather than God (Job 32:2, 3). The leviathan is surely at work here.

In Job 38:2, God quickly sums up the substance of the multitude of words and reasonings that had been exchanged between Job and his friends, when God says: "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" However, before we condemn Job and his three friends, as Job's other friend Elihu did, let us ask ourselves a couple of questions. How many times have we tried to comfort someone, by offering our counsel and advice, and it caused them, either outwardly or quietly in their thoughts, to feel condemned and to justify themselves? Or on the other hand, how many times has someone tried to comfort us, much like Job's friends did, and we respond, either outwardly or quietly in our thoughts, by attempting to justify ourselves? Well, if we have walked with the Lord very long, we have found ourselves, probably more than once, in the same place that we find Job and his friends.

And so, dear ones, since we all agree that we need a deeper work of the Lord in our lives, let us turn to 2 Corinthians, the first chapter, where we will find what it means to truly comfort those "in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:3, 4).

Earlier we learned that God is the God of all comfort (paraklesis = Greek); and that Christ Himself is The Comfort, The Consolation (The Paraklesis = Greek) of God; and we learned that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter (The Parakletos = Greek), He is the One Who makes The Comfort of God, The Reality of Christ, a living expression in our lives. And now, in the above scripture, we shall learn something further; we shall learn that God comforts us so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any (every kind of) affliction, trouble, or distress. And the Word says that we are to comfort them with "the Comfort" with which we ourselves are comforted by God. And since our comfort is the Reality of Christ - the living expression of Christ in our lives - then the measure of Christ in our lives is the measure that the Holy Spirit can use our vessel to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction. They Word of God says, any affliction! any trouble! and distress! any tribulation!

"That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble." In this phrase, the word "comfort" has a much greater significance and meaning than the word that is generally used for comfort by Christians, or by the world. The word "comfort" is a word that is used by The Comforter - The Intercessor, The Consoler, The Advocate, The Encourager, The Strengthener, because the word "comfort" is used by the Holy Spirit Himself to describe the deep work that is being done in our innermost being. And this work that is being done in order that The Comforter may flow, may intercede, unhindered in and through our inner most being.

In the Scripture, the word "comfort" means to encourage, to console, to comfort, to entreat, to desire, to beseech, to incite"; but it also means "to call aside, to summon, to admonish, to warn, to exhort, to instruct, etc." The best way to understand "the comfort", that has its source in God alone, is to consider the way in which this word is used by the Holy Spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with #17)

Results of Prayer

"Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1)

Here are three elements that will make our prayers more effective. Let's talk about the results we can expect fro our efforts toward improvement.

There are ten things that should accompany devoted prayer:

1. A growing relationship with Christ.

2. A change in perspective: God's versus your own.

3. A positive faith attitude.

4. Peace in the midst of pressure.

5. A purifying effect on you morally.

6. Spiritual growth in every area of your life.

7. A passion to obey God.

8. Reliance upon God to meet every need.

9. Power in your service for God.

10. Productivity in every area of life.

What do you think about this list? Are you seeing some of the results mentioned above? Whether you are gaining victory in one area or all ten, you can be certain that, as you devote yourself to prayer, God will allow amazing things to happen in your life. He will use you in ways you never thought possible, and you will discover a relationship with Him that is indescribable.

Prayer is so simple. Truly, it is the act of communicating openly with God. It is a matter of giving time to the Father to let Him do in you life what He chooses to do. Are you ready to take your prayer life to a higher level? God is listening because He loves you.

Lord, help me to recognize that I can gain far more depth of character from spending time with You that I ever will be reading how-to books. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Job Experience # 15

In Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9, we are told that there is only one way to deal with the old man, which, as we know, includes the religious nature; the old man must be "put off." Now, we all agree that the old man, the adamic nature, must be "put off," but how do we "put off the old man?"

First of all, in order to put off the old man, we need to discern just what the old man is; and in the measure that there is an increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being, in that measure we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to discern that which is of the "old man." And in the measure that there is an increase of Christ's reality in our lives, in that measure we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to "put off the old man."

And how do we have an increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being? Well, if we willingly yield to the purgings and chastenings of the Lord, if we willingly yield to God's Way of dealing with us - which is always the Way of the Cross, and its principle of self-denial - then, the Word of God makes it clear that there will be an increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being (Luke 9:23; Romans 5 through 8; Hebrews 12; etc.)

Consequently, let us say again, the more we yield to the way of the Lord's purgings and chastenings (child-training), the greater increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being; and the greater the increase of Christ's reality, in and through our lives, the more we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to discern that which is of the old man, and, thereby, "put off the old man." Therefore, it is the increase of the reality of Christ in our innermost being, through the means of purging and chastening, that enables us to discern that which is of the religious nature, both in our own life, and in the lives of others.

Remember, in a Christian, the religious nature of the old man is that which takes hold of the Holy things of God when there is not enough of the reality of Christ in our lives. Therefore in the Book of Job, we find satan, "the leviathan," coming against one man in order to stop Christ's reality from being expressed in Job's life; and in Revelation, we find satan, that "twisted serpent," bringing to bear all of his consummate power against the churches of every age and generation in order to stop the Church from becoming the living reality of Christ.

In the Book of Job, the Lord tells us that "the leviathan" is "king over all the sons of pride"; and in a Christian, pride is self-righteousness - it is a religious self-achieved-righteousness. And, beloved, if any of us thing we are past this, that we are more mature than this, let us remember Paul who is one of the greatest examples in the Bible of one who endured until God had His End. Let us remember that at the end of his life, this one who had said, " ... for me to live is Christ (is the reality, is the living expression of Christ)," this one also cried: "... that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any (self-achieved) righteousness that can be called my own" (Phil. 3:9). Self-achieved righteousness must have been a problem for Paul (as it is for all of us) or he would not have prayed in such a way. But, at the same time, we also find Paul praying the answer to the problem of any self-achieved righteousness when he prays for a greater measure of the reality of Christ to be expressed in and through his life.

" ... that I might come to know Him in an experiential way, and to come to know experientially the power of His resurrection and a joint-participation in His sufferings, being brought to the place where my life will radiate a likeness to His death ..." (Phil. 3:10)

Now, with this in mind, let us return to Job and his friends and discover how God brought about the reality of Christ in their lives; and this will help us to see how the Lord is working in our lives to bring about a greater expression of Christ. When the Lord is leading us into a deeper realm of purging, because there is not enough of the reality of Christ in our lives, we have found that the faithful respond to this in different ways. Remember, the faithful of God are those who have chosen to endure until God has His End through His Way. So, let us examine some of the ways that the faithful respond to God's dealings.

Many of us who have chosen to remain faithful unto the Lord begin to feel condemned as we realize we need so much more of the work of the Lord in our lives. We feel that we must have failed the Lord somehow or we would already have enough of the reality of Christ in our lives. And if we are not careful, we will become discouraged with our walk before the Lord.

Then, there are those of us among the faithful who, because of self-righteousness, do not really feel that we are lacking in the reality of Christ in our lives. And there are also those of us among the faithful who, honestly, do not consciously realize that we do not have enough of Christ's reality in our lives. However, in both instances, even though we cannot see this lack in our lives, we can quickly see that others are lacking in this area and, much like Job's friends, we do our unsuccessful best to advise, admonish, correct, and comfort others who are having problems.

Again, there are those of us among the faithful who are going through a very hard time, but we do not realize that we do not have enough of the reality of Christ in our lives to see us through. And, like Job, we try to justify ourselves because we have been as obedient to the Lord as we know how.

And then, there are some of us who are doing all we know to do in order to remain faithful unto the Lord, but at one time or another we find ourselves in the throes of all these and even other positions. There are many more realms we could discuss, but this gives us the general idea of some of our responses when God is revealing that we need His further dealings in our lives.

So, whether we are like Job, or whether we are like Job's friends, or whether we are a little like them both, or whether we are like some of the others in the Bible who had "a Job experience" - if we have chosen to be faithful, then God Who Is Faithful will do Hid deep purging work in our innermost being; for this is the only way that there can be a continuing increase of the reality of Christ in our lives.

Beloved, one of the reasons that the Holy Spirit chose to write the Book of Job in poetry is because God is dealing with Job's innermost being. And the inspired poetic form, the emphasis and metric exactness used by the Holy Spirit, reveals the depths of Job's innermost being - it reveals that which is in Job's heart, that which is in the very depths of his spirit and soul.

Remember this, when God begins to deal with Job in such a way, Job is not an immature, inexperienced man: Job is a responsible man, he is a businessman, and he has ten grown children. Neither is he an immature, inexperienced Christian for God Himself calls Job, "My servant," My bondslave. As his Lord's bondslave, Job has freely chosen that his will be swallowed up by the will of Another. As his Lord's bondslave, Job has freely chosen to serve the Lord to the disregard of his own interest. As his Lord's bondslave, Job is bound to his Lord not because he has to be, but because of the deep love and devotion in his heart for his Master.

But God has even greater things planned for Job and for his friends, just as He has greater things planned for the faithful of each age and generation. God desires that they become vessels of eternal intercession: purged vessels, chastened vessels, cleared vessels; vessels through whom God, by His Spirit, can have a free, unhindered flow. 

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

True Faith Must Influence Our Daily Living

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ..." (Galatians 2:20)

"Things have come to a pretty pass," said a famous Englishman testily, "when religion is permitted to interfere with our private lives."

To which we may reply that things have come to a worse pass when an intelligent man living in a Protestant country could make such a remark. Had this man never read the New Testament? Had he never heard of Stephen? or Paul? or Peter? Had he never thought about the millions who followed Christ cheerfully to violent death, sudden or lingering, because they did allow their religion to interfere with their private lives?

But we must leave this man to his conscience and his Judge and look into our own hearts. Maybe he but expressed openly what some of us feel secretly. Just how radically has our religion interfered with the neat pattern of our own lives? Perhaps we had better answer that question first.

One picture of a Christian is a man carrying a cross: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

The man with the cross no longer controls his destiny; he lost control when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming interference. There is but one thing he can do; that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion!

~A. W. Tozer~

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Job Experience # 14

In chapters 38-41 of Job, where God is revealing Himself to Job as the Lord of All, as The Eternal One, as the Only One upon Whom Job can depend, we find that the words in the last part of chapter 41 have much more than a surface meaning behind them, as God speaks of "the leviathan." We do not doubt that God is speaking of an earthly creature at the beginning, but in verses 13-34 there is much more than an earthly creature being described. The symbolic language in the following phrases can only be speaking of that old serpent, called the devil and satan: "Who can strip off  his outer armor? ... his scales (his rows of shields) are his pride ... his breath kindles coal, and a flame goes forth from his mouth. In his neck ledges strength, and dismay goes before him. His heart is as hard as a stone ... he regards iron as straw, bronze as rotten wood ... he looks on everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride" (Job 41:13-34).

Hence, we find God revealing "the leviathan," the evil one who is "king over all the sons of pride"; and by interpreting scripture with scripture, we shall see that God is speaking of that old serpent, called the devil and satan. In Psalm 74, one of the greatest conflicts of the ages was fought at the Red Sea as God's people were being delivered out of the hands of the Egyptians and into the hand of God. But we have to understand the symbolic language of Psalm 74 in order to realize the full implication of the battle at the Red Sea: for this battle was between God and "the leviathan," between God and that old serpent, called the devil and satan.

Thou didst divide the sea (the Red Sea) by Thy strength:
Thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
Thou brakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces,
and gave him to be meat to the people
inhabiting the wilderness (Psalm 74;13, 14). 
(The account of the Red Sea: Exodus 12:12; 14, 15)

And in Isaiah 27:1, we are told more about this "leviathan."

In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan, the fleeing serpent,
Wish His fierce and great and mighty sword,
Even Leviathan the twisted serpent;
And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea

Then in Revelation 12:9 and 10, we are told exactly who "the leviathan," the twisted serpent, the dragon is:

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil and satan, which deceiveth the whole world ... the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before out God day and night.

Now, we have said that one of the primary deceptions of "the leviathan" is that he becomes religious; and he uses the religious nature of the old, adamic man. One of the very first deceptive things that he said to Eve was, "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" - gods want worship, gods want the preeminence. Also, in Revelation 13, as this ancient serpent's evil power of deception comes to full expression, we find him giving his power, his throne, and his authority to all that is antichrist, and those who are deceived worship the dragon, "that old serpent, called the devil and satan." Yes! "the leviathan" is very religious, and we shall see that one of his greatest strategies is to use the religious nature in the old man.

We have said before that in Revelation, chapters two and three, the Holy Spirit has summed up five-of-the-most-subtle-evil-strategies that satan uses against the churches. And they are: 1. the synagogue of satan (2:9); 2. where satan's seat (throne) is (2:13; 3. where satan dwelleth (2:13); 4. the depths of satan (2:24); and 5. the synagogue of satan (3:9). And it is vital that we understand why this evil list begins and ends with "the synagogue of satan," for this means that the other three cannot gain the ground needed to be effective if this first and last strategy is triumphed over. "The synagogue of satan" beings and sums up this evil list; and in both instances, the Word explains what this evil is - it is those "which say they are Jews and are not." In Romans 2:28 and 29, the Holy Spirit through Paul explains what this means:

"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God."

Then Paul tells us in Philippians 3:3 -

"For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God, and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearance."

No wonder at the end of Paul's life, we find this brother crying that he "may [actually] be found and known as in Him [in Christ], not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own ..." (Phil. 3:9). Paul understood the great threat of "the synagogue of satan," - those which say they are Jews, and are not. He understood that the religious nature of the old man could be used by the enemy to stop Christ from becoming a living reality in the lives of God's people. Paul understood that only that which is the actual reality of Christ in our lives can be of eternal value unto God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)


Acts 8

Various methods are employed to communicate the good news of Christ to the lost. Take the Eager-beaver Approach, for example. "The more scalps, the better!" This approach is decision-centered, and little (if any) effort is directed toward follow-up or discipleship or cultivating a relationship.

The Harvard Approach is quite different: "Let's all discuss the world's religions." While this reason-centered approach is educational and occasionally quite simulating, it suffers from one mild drawback - no one ever gets saved! Being sophisticated is more important than telling the truth about sin or heaven or hell. Discussion is in - decisions are out.

Perhaps the most popular is the Mute Approach: "I'm just a silent witness for God." Somewhere along the line this person has swallowed one of satan's tastiest tidbits. "Just live a good Christian life. Others will ask you about Christ if they are really interested, so relax." "Faith," please remember, "comes from hearing" (Romans 10:17).

What we need, I submit to you, is the Philip Approach. This Christ-centered method is set forth in a series of seven principles drawn from Acts 8:26-40.

Philip was engaged in an evangelistic crusade in Samaria when the Lord instructed him to go south to the desert road that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza. Faithful Philip "arose and went." He was "available" (Principle One). On the road he encountered an Ethiopian statesman traveling home from Jerusalem. And the Spirit of God prompted Philip to approach the traveler. Philip was "led by the Spirit" (Principle Two). He sensed that God was clearly opening the door.

Philip cooperated, for "obedience" (Principle Three) is essential. He heard the man reading Isaiah aloud and asked "Do you understand what you are reading? A "proper opening" (Principle four) is so important. Philip didn't barge in and start preaching.

The man invited Philip to sit with him and assist him in his quest for understanding. Philip responded with great "tactfulness" (Principle Five). Even though he had his foot in the door, he remained sensitive to when he should speak of salvation. What that moment came, he "opened his mouth" and became "specific (Principle Six). No vague dialogue about religion. He spoke only of the Saviour, the main issue. The last few verses then describe the "follow-up" (Principle Seven) Philip employed.

As you rub shoulders with hungry, thirsty humanity, keep the Philip Approach in mind. I can't think of a place I'd rather be at the moment Christ returns than riding shotgun in a twenty-first-century chariot, speaking openly about faith in the Saviour!

As we become alert to those empty chariot seats God wants us to occupy, we may even begin to feel comfortable in them.

~Charles Swindoll~

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What It Means to be a Christian # 8

(b.) A New Consciousness of God

This new life immediately introduces a new consciousness of God. Immediately you are alive to God - you sense God. God becomes a reality, a living reality: no longer remote, far off, indefinite, but now very dear, very real, very wonderful, indeed the greatest reality in your whole life. You know God in a new way, you have a new consciousness of God.

(c.) A New Consciousness of the Meaning of Our Existence

And then you find you have a new consciousness of the meaning of your own existence. Every Christian who is truly founded upon this basis of beginning, of resurrection, almost immediately leaps into this consciousness: 'Now I have got the explanation of life, I have got the key to life. I know that I was born for something! I never before knew that I was really born for something, but I know now. There is a sense of meaning in my being here, and of destiny, wrapped up with this new experience. It gives an explanation to my own life.' Is that not true, Christians? It is - it is just like that. 'Now we know why we are here!'

(d.) A New consciousness of Purpose and Vocation

And to carry that one step further - it is a new consciousness of purpose and vocation. It is not only that there is a meaning in our being alive, but that a purpose has come in with this new life, a sense of vocation. We are called for something. You do not have to have a lot of instruction about that. You do not even have to wait for it. The truly born-again child of God  spontaneously, instinctively, begins to talk to other people about it. You can test your Christian life by that. You just must tell them, you must talk about it, you must let them know. That is vocation coming out. You feel you are called for something, that there is business on hand. And that can develop, as we know, to specific vocations. But this consciousness of purpose, meaning and vocation springs up with new life.

(e.) A New Set of Relationships, Interests, and Desires

And then we find we have a new set of relationships, of interests, of desires. We know that; it happens. It is no use talking to anybody who has not had the experience about these things. They have their relationships, their interests, their desires, and they just despise you for not doing what they do and  going where they go and engaging in the things which are everything to them. They do not understand you. They think you have missed the way, that you have lost everything that is worth having. But you know quite well that it is just the other way round. You do not despise them, but you pity them, are sorry for them. This is a transcendent, superlative set of relationships. Christians know the meaning of a little phrase that was used about some early servants of God who were arrested because they were doing this very thing - fulfilling, expressing, the sense of vocation, and not keeping it in and keeping it to themselves. They were arrested and brought before the authorities and threatened. 'And being let go, they went to their own company' - instinctively to their own company (Acts 4:23). We know what that means.  There is a new company' - a new relationship, a new fellowship, a new set of desires and interests. No one else can understand or appreciate it, but the Christian knows.

(f.) A New Set of Capacities

Further, we have a new set of capacities. This is a wonderful thing about the new creation life, this "born-anew" life, this true Christian life. We get a new set of mental capacities, something different from, and additional to, and altogether transcending natural mental capacity. It is a new understanding of things, and it is one of the wonders of the Christian life. You may find a person who has had no great advantages academically, educationally, or in any other realm, a very ordinary person: and yet, when they come into a real experience of the Christian life, it is remarkable how they acquire an entirely new understanding and intelligence. They have an insight into things that a man of the highest education and the biggest brain is - by these means alone - entirely incapable of grasping or understanding.

This is something that the Christian knows to be so true. Very often we may think that a certain person, because of such academic achievements and qualifications, is bound to be able to understand, we are bound to have good interchange and fellowship with them: yet, when we begin to speak about the things of the Lord, we meet a blank - they do not know what we are talking about. But here is this simple man or woman who knows. They have a new mental faculty, a new set of capacities and powers for understanding the things of the Spirit of God, for knowing what no natural man can know - not by the way of study, but by the way of communion with God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

A Job Experience # 13

Job and His Friends

Job 2:11

So far we have seen that satan is out to destroy God's purpose in Job's life as he brings calamity after calamity upon Job. But now, beginning with the above scripture in Job 2:11, we will consider the most important part of Job's experience; we will consider that which God is after in Job's life, and we will consider God's Way of bringing about His End in Job's life.

The Word of God tells us that when Job's friends heard of all the adversity that had come upon him "they came everyone from his own place ... to mourn with him and to comfort him." First of all, the Book of Job makes it clear that Job and his friends are very close friends in the Lord - they have shared much together in the Lord. And when Job's friends "looked from afar off and saw him [disfigured] beyond recognition, they lifted up their voices and wept ... so they sat down with [Job] on the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief and pain were very great" (Job 2:12, 13).

We are sure that Job's friends truly did help and comfort him at first, for the very presence of the Lord's people always helps in such a time; however, in Job 16:2, we find that Job tells his friends that they are "miserable comforters." Why? Why did Job say this of his friends? Well, after Job's friends had sat in silence and mourned with him for seven days and seven nights, the Word of God tells us that they, along with Job, began to try and understand why Job was suffering.

In studying the Book of Job, we found that Job's friends concluded that Job must have done something to deserve the evil that had come upon him; and in the midst of his confusion, pain, and heartbreak, we found that job tries to justify himself before his friends. In their attempt to comfort him, Job's friends each speak and argue their point, and offer their advice and counsel, and they do this out of their own self-acquired wisdom and knowledge of God, and of God's Ways. And in the same way, Job tried to justify himself before them out of his own self-acquired wisdom and knowledge of God, and of God's Ways. And Job and his friends did this because they did not have enough of the actual reality of Christ within their lives.

Therefore, we find what God is after - we find what God is always after in the lives of His people! God is always after a fuller and greater measure of the Reality of Christ within the innermost being of His people. And this Reality, this true expression of Christ in and through the innermost being of those who are the Lord's, can only be accomplished through the way of the Cross - through the way of chastening and the way of purging.

Since it is always God's purpose to bring forth a greater Reality of Christ in the lives of His people, then it must be that satan will use any means to stop this from happening. In the Book of Job, it is important to note that from chapter three and on  we will not find the name of satan mentioned again; nevertheless, his evil assault continues against Job as he tries to devour God's purpose in Job's life. But from this point on, satan's assault is not so easily discerned, for he takes on his most subtle and dangerous form,satan becomes "the leviathan," he becomes that old "serpent," he becomes religious! And he subtlety uses the religious nature of the old man in his assault against Job - satan, "the leviathan," uses the religious nature of Job's friends, and he even uses the religious nature of Job himself. Notice we say "religious", not spiritual! So what is this religious nature of man that satan uses so subtlety?

First of all we need to realize that satan can use the religious nature in both the saved and the unsaved:

In the world, in those who are not saved by God's grace, the religious nature is the part of man that desires to worship and to pay homage and to have communion with and to serve a being (a god) or an object of worship (which becomes idolatry) whom he considers to be higher than himself.

But in God's people, in those of us who are redeemed by the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the religious nature of the old man, the adamic nature, is that in us which takes hold of the Holy things of God when there is not enough of the Reality of Christ in our lives. The religious nature of the old man can pray,can worship, can teach the cross-life, can even claim to be purged, broken, and humble, and still have very little of the true reality of Christ expressed in and through the innermost being.

Brethren, the name of satan may not be mentioned in the Book of Job after chapter two, but his venomous influence is certainly present as he takes on his most deceptive form - he becomes religious - he becomes "the leviathan!" In Job 3;8, we find Job lamenting and travailing over his circumstances as he despairs of life and wonders why he was ever born; and it is in this first discourse of Job that we find the first mention of this poisonous influence, the first mention of "the leviathan."  "Who are prepared to rouse Leviathan" Job 3:8)

Many say that Job is referring to some mythical serpent or dragon, or to the signs in the stars, or perhaps to some superstitions of the day, but we do not believe that this is so. "The leviathan," that old serpent, has never been mythical or just a sign in the stars or just a superstitious belief. No! he has been a deadly force against the purpose of God since the day Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - remember, religion is always a mixture of good and evil. And so, the Holy Spirit calls our attention to "the leviathan," as Job travails, in order that we may be aware that satan's poisonous influence is at work against Job.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14)

Joy and Godliness

"I rejoice and share my joy with you all" (Philippians 2:17)

True joy is directly related to godly living

Philippians is often called the epistle of joy, and rightly so because the believer's joy is its major theme. Paul loved the Philippine Christians, and they loved him. When they learned that he had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel, they were deeply concerned.

Paul wrote to alleviate their fears and to encourage their joy. Of his own circumstances he said, "Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me" (Phil. 2:17-18).

Often a Jewish animal sacrifice was accompanied by a libation of drink offering (Num. 15:1-10). The animal was the greater sacrifice, the libation the lesser. Drawing from that picture, Paul placed greater significance on the faith and spiritual well-being of his readers than on his own life. To suffer for Christ's sake brought him joy, and he wanted the Philippians to understand that perspective and to rejoice with him.

He also wanted them to understand that joy doesn't operate in a vacuum. It's directly related to godly living. Christ is its source, obedience its sustenance. We see this in David's cry of repentance: "Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation" (Psalm 51:12). Paul knew the joy of the Lord because he trusted Christ and obeyed His will.

The scarcity of joy and godliness in the world today makes it imperative that Christians manifest those characteristics. As we do, others will see our good works and will glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Read Philippians 1:1-11 and Colossians 1:9-12. I pray that you will learn from God's Word and will willingly obey what you learn, for therein is "joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to use our daily studies to strengthen your joy and to increase your godliness. Seek to emulate Paul's attitude of preferring others to yourself - a key element in joyful living.

For Further Study: Read the book of Philippians, noting each reference to joy. What brought joy to Paul? On what or whom do you rely for joy?

~John MacArthur~

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What It Means To Be A Christian # 7

Man By Nature Dead to God

But the Bible goes further still. It says that man by natural birth is lacking in yet another thing, which corresponds to his - may I use the phrase? - biological existence, his life. We have a biological existence which we call life. Now it is a very significant thing that the New Testament puts two different words over two different classes of people. It uses one word (bios) for natural life, but it never use that word of the life of the Christian. For that it uses an entirely different word, with an altogether different meaning. What the Bible says is that man by nature not only lacks the functions of his spiritual senses, but even lacks that which corresponds to his natural existence - life. In a word, the Bible says that man is dead; not only blind and deaf and insensitive to God, but dead. "Death passed upon all men" (Romans 5:12), says the Word of God. By nature man is dead to God.

Dead to the Meaning of His Own Existence

And he is dead to the true meaning of his own existence. Man by nature does not know why he was born, why he has a being. We have all sorts of accounts of his being - wild explanations and excuses, shelving responsibility, and so on, all proving that he is entirely dead to the real meaning of his own existence. He makes the best of it - and sometimes it is quite a good best that a man makes of his life; but, after all, when set in relation to God and in relation to eternity, he does not know why he is alive, why he has a being. He is dead to that. He is dead to eternal and heavenly things and values. What a futile and hopeless thing it is to talk to man by nature about the things of Heaven and the things of God! He looks at you, he gapes at you, he does not know what you are talking about. That belongs to a world with which he is just not acquainted. It is something foreign, far off, and he is utterly bored.

He may be a very good man from certain standpoints, a very educated man. He may be occupying a position of high esteem and respect among men - he may even be a very religious man. There was such a man who came to Jesus, an outstanding specimen of the best product of humanity outside of Christ; but over him was suspended one big question mark. He was full of interrogations - 'How...? How...? How...' And Jesus said, in effect: "Well, it is no use talking to you about heavenly things at all. You do not belong to that realm; you are just dead to that."

Now, is that true? I said at the beginning that you can put everything to the test. This is not just a statement of abstract Christian doctrine. This is a statement of fact which is verifiable. Some of you may be actually knowing the truth of it now, in your own experience. Many of you did know it in time past, but thank God, you know it no longer. According to the Bible, man is dead. It is useless to speak to a corpse - you will get nothing back. As far as the things of God are concerned, man makes no response. There is no correspondence, no interchange, no communion, no fellowship possible. That is what the Bible and human experience say as to man's condition by nature.

What Happens When We Become Christians

That brings us to a very practical point in approaching this question: What exactly happens when we become Christians? There are two fragments of New Testament Scripture which I think sum this up for us very concisely and very fully. The on is that statement, so familiar and yet so little understood even by Christians, the statement made to the man to whom I referred just now, who came with his big question - his multiple "How ...?" Jesus simply looked at him, and did not try to answer his question at all, because He knew how hopeless a thing it is to talk to a dead man. He looked at him, and said: "Ye must be born anew," or "Ye must be born from above" (John 3:7). The other passage, from one of Paul's letters, is also very well known: "Wherefore it any man is in Christ, there is a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Those two words sum up what happens: "born anew", "a new creation."

(a.) A New Aliveness

I said I would keep off negative ground and on positive, but let me say here in parenthesis that it is not becoming a Christian just to accept, or give a mental assent to, the tenets of the Christian religion, or to join some society which has the name of being a Christian institution, even though it may go by the name of "church". That is not becoming a Christian in the New Testament sense. The only true "becoming a Christian" is by way of being born anew, becoming a new creation: which means you become a different species from what you were before, and from what all other people are who have not had that experience.

But when we so become Christians, what happens? Our state of death gives place to a state of live. This other life, this resurrection life, which no man by nature has ever yet had, excepting Jesus Christ; this life - which we will not even refer to in the New Testament terminology - is given in the day of our faith-exercise toward the Lord Jesus as Lord and Saviour. A new aliveness takes place. It is the first wonderful basic experience of the Christian. The Christian at that time leaps into life: he immediately begins to talk a new language about now knowing what it is to live, knowing the meaning of life, and so on. What happens when we become Christians? Well, we are alive from the dead! We become alive.

But that is not just the resuscitation of something. It is the impartation of what was never there before - a new life, belonging to a new creation: that is, a new order, which is a heavenly order. For this is birth "from above." Jesus never said a truer thing than that. "Ye must be born again." If there is someone reading these lines who has not had that experience, you know, after what we have said about the natural condition, that, if you are going to see God and hear God and feel and sense God, in the way of which we have spoken, something has got to happen to you which is as radical as being born all over again in another realm. Jesus is right at any rate on that, is He not? It is true. "You must ...". It is not just as imperative of command , it is not just a declaration that you have got to become a Christian to be accepted with God. It is the statement of a fundamental and inescapable fact: that you can never, never know God in a real way, far less have living fellowship with God, until something has happened IN you that is absolutely constitutional. You have got to have a new life, which is God's own life, to enable you to understand what God is, to know him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8)

A Job Experience # 12

The Perfect Timing of God's Full Purpose In Christ Was Being Worked Out in Job's Life

Now, before we go on in our study of Job's life, let us have a word of explanation concerning why the Holy Spirit inspired the Book of Job to be written in poetic form. Job is the first of the poetic books of the Bible that the Holy Spirit chose to record in poetry. The books considered to be poetry are: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, and a great deal of Jeremiah.

The poetry in the Bible is completely different from the poetry of the world, and this is because the poetry of the world is inspired by the soul of man, but the poetry in the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit: for "All Scripture is inspired by God ... Every Scripture is God-breathed ..." (2 Timothy 3:16). In the Holy Word of God, the poetry is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it flows out of the Essence of All That God Is.

Now the Holy Spirit inspired the Book of Job after Job had had the life-experience that is recorded there. In Job we have one of the most detailed interchanges of dialogue going on between human beings in the whole Bible; and the Holy Spirit inspired this record to be written in poetic form. No one believes that Job and his friends actually spoke in poetry all those many months, but the Holy Spirit inspired their experiences  to be written in poetic form; and He did this because what comes out of a man reveals the heart of man (Luke 6:45). And "Job's experiences" revealed and laid bare the very depths of Job's inner being; and it also revealed that which was in the depths of his friends.

In the Book of Job, much of the poetry is written in what is called "parallelism," which means that some of the statements are repeated two or more times in different ways in order to emphasize a point. However, the Holy Spirit is not just using some grammatical techniques when He inspires the Living Word of God to be written. No! by using the figure of speech called "parallelism" as He inspires the Book of Job, the Holy Spirit is showing us that more is taking place than that which is being observed in the earthly realm. He is showing us that at least three different things are taking place at the same time. 1. God is with perfect exactness and timing continuing to bring forth His Full Purpose in Christ. 2. God is dealing with His servant Job in accordance with His Full Purpose in Christ. 3. And a great unseen battle in the battles of the ages is taking place between God and satan because of the man God calls, "My servant Job."

Therefore, the poetry that is found in the Scripture reveals and expresses the Heart of God, the Triune God; and because of God's Purpose in Christ, the poetry in God's Word also reveals and expresses what is in the heart of the redeemed man and in the heart of the unredeemed man.

Furthermore, because of the spiritual warfare that has continued, and will continue, throughout the ages against God and His Purpose in Christ, it is very important for us to realize that the poetry in the Bible reveals the iniquitous heart and characteristics and strategy of the archenemy of God - satan himself.

Over the centuries, Bible scholars have tried to make the ordinary techniques of poetry fit the inspired poetry of the Bible, but there is no set or continuing poetic pattern that man recognizes in the Inspired Word of God; and the reason for this is that the poetry inspired by the Holy Spirit flows out from the depths of God's Heart - and it is accented and emphasized and punctuated by the breath of God - and the metric exactness,and the rhythm of the verses and stanzas, flow measuredly in accordance to the perfect timing of God's Eternal Plan In Christ.

So we begin to understand that God had important and eternal reasons for writing the Book of Job in poetic form. The metric exactness and the perfect timing of the poetic flow tells us that the perfect timing of God's Full Purpose in Christ was being worked out in Job's life. And, beloved, the marvelous, unsurpassable, exactness of the poetic form and flow, used by the Holy Spirit to tell us of Job's experience, also assures us that no matter what the enemy may cause, or do, God is in full and absolute control.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13 - "Job and His Friends")

God's Right: To Ask Obedience of His Creatures

"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they ... may enter in through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14)

The command to love God with our whole being has seemed to many persons to be impossible of fulfillment, and it may be properly argued that we cannot love by fiat.

Love is too gentle, too frail a creature to spring up at the command of another. It would be like commanding the barren tree to bring forth fruit or the winter forest to be green.

What then can it mean?

The answer is found in the nature of God and of man.

God being who He is must have obedience from His people. Man being who he is must render that obedience, and he owes God complete obedience whether or not he feels for Him the faintest trace of love in his heart.

It is a question of the sovereign right of God to require His people to obey Him.

Man's first and basic sin was disobedience. When he disobeyed God he violated the claims of divine love with the result that love for God died within him.

Now, what can he do to restore that love to his heart again?

The heart that mourns its coldness toward God needs only to repent its sins, and a new, warm and satisfying love will flood into it. For the act of repentance will bring a corresponding act of God in self-revelation and intimate communion.

Once the seeking heart finds God in personal experience there will be no further problem about loving Him.

~A. W. Tozer~

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Job Experience # 11

So then, because of the great stress that Job's wife was under, we do not believe that we can be critical or judge her. We know that she allowed herself to be used by satan to discourage Job when she entreated her husband to "renounce God, and die." We know that she spoke foolishly and unadvisedly with her lips. We know she spoke without understanding and wisdom, but still we cannot judge or be critical of her. Remember! even the Apostle Peter allowed himself to be used by satan, to speak  against the Cross of Christ (Matthew 16:21-26). Remember! Christ rebuked Peter, and said unto him: "Get thee behind Me, satan ..."

Beloved, if most of us will be honest before God, we have all allowed the enemy to use us, knowingly or unknowingly, to come against or speak against our brethren, at one time or another; and we have done this even when they are undergoing deep stress and trouble. Now, if we are to be counted among the faithful, we believe that at such times as this, we must be willing by God's Grace to make up the difference for those who are breaking under their stressful circumstances. Job did this for his wife - listen as he gives her a word of faith and a word of wisdom upon which they can stand:

"Whereupon he looking steadfastly at her said, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh ... Like one of the women without understanding hast thou spoken ... What? ... if we have received good things at the hand of the Lord, shall we not bear up under afflictions?" In all these things which befell him, Job transgressed not with his lips against God." (Job 2:10).

Furthermore, we know that God showed Job's wife His compassion; for when the Lord "turned the captivity of Job," He gave Job twice as much as Job had had before. And the Lord gave him seven sons and three daughters, which means Job's wife came into the good of all that God gave Job, for Job could not have had these children by himself: - Job endured, and his wife came into her portion of God's End. Beloved, when God's full End is accomplished in each and every one of His children's lives, would it not be wonderful to find that God had used us, even in a small way, to make up the difference for those who broke under the strain of the unseen warfare!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - "The Perfect Timing of God's Full Purpose in Christ was Being Worked Out in Job's Life")

[a short post this morning because this ends a chapter.]

Lord, What What Will Thy Have Me to Do?

"O how love Thy law! It is My meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97)

Do you know the first words Paul uttered when he met the Lord Jesus on the Damascus Road? He said, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). He didn't say, "Lord, what wilt others have me to do?" Or, "What will Thou have others to do?" God had a personal plan for his life.

He stayed on course and didn't shirk his passion when the going got tough. Nothing could stop Paul. Will you be able to say that? The hounds of hell are mocking you even now.

Are you firmly focused on Jesus so that nothing can deter you from accomplishing His will, from loving Him with all your heart, from devoting every ounce of who you are to Him?

How would someone know you are firmly focused on Jesus? What is there about your life that testifies you have a passionate love for God?

~Adrian Rogers~

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17)

Why did God come down through the dark Judean night through the portals of a virgin's womb to be born a man? Why did He exchange His glory for flesh and blood?

One reason was to restore to us the dominion we lost as the people of God. You may not realize that God made you to rule, but He did. God created us to be kings and queens (Genesis :26). But, how many people realize their God-given dominion today?

Jesus righteously regained our dominion and spoiled the principalities and powers of this world wen He bowed His head and said, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

Read the story of creation in the first chapter of Genesis. What distinctions can you make between the creations of God and the Creator called God? Go on a walk and thank God that He rules over creation and that He has given you dominion.

~Adrian Rogers~

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What It Means to be a Christian # 6

What Happens When We Become Christians?

In these talks, we are seeking to be preeminently practical. That is, we are not occupied with the presentation of Christian doctrine itself. Christian doctrine will be here, but we are not interested in presenting the doctrines of Christianity in the abstract, important as they are. What we are concerned with is that everything shall be practical and experimental, and capable of being immediately put to the test.

There is, of course, a difference between the facts and truths of the Christian life, and the explanation of them. That is, it is possible for all the facts to be present in the life without the person concerned being able to explain those facts. It is a part of our present business to try to explain the facts, and to challenge as to the facts. Now, any explanation of the Christian life should be corroborated by the experience. That is, it ought to be possible for you to say, "Well, I could not have explained it like that, but I know exactly in my experience what you mean - that does just express my own life." So that the explanation must be born out by the experience: the experience must corroborate the explanation.

Let us, then, consider what happens when we become Christians. We shall spend some of our time in seeking to get behind this matter of becoming a Christian, to get to certain other facts - facts stated or revealed in the Bible, and true to human experience.

Man's Relationship With God Dislocated

When we come to consider man as we know him, man by nature, the first thing we find is that his relationship with God is completely dislocated. We say "dislocated," because we believe what the Bible teaches: that things were all right once, and they have gone wrong. If for the time being you prefer to waive the word "dislocated" and substitute "severed," you may do so. We shall probably at least agree that things are not in order between man and God. The relationship between man and God is in a broken-down condition. This is the fundamental fact. The relationship is disjointed; it is in a state of strain. There is distance between man and God. The relationship, or perhaps we should say "non-relationship," is a very unhappy thing: it is altogether unproductive; there is nothing coming from it. It is barren and desolate, quite unfruitful. With many God does not seem to matter, and is quite ignored.

But that is more or less neutral or negative. In most cases the situation is much worse than that - it is positively antagonistic. Man is in a state of antagonism to God in his nature, and often in his mind, in his attitude, and in his reference to God; there is a state of conflict, there is suspicion in man's mind as to God. A great deal of resentment exists in many human hearts. And we can go further - for the Bible goes this far - and say that in some cases, perhaps in not a few, there is even hatred in the human heart for God. We meet that sometimes. So that is the first act - the relationship between man and God is chaotic, broken-down, dislocated or disrupted.

Spiritual Faculties Which Are Not Functioning

That is not all. We need to get inside of that and go further. Man has a set of senses belonging to his spiritual being which are not functioning - a set of senses which correspond to his physical senses. The physical senses, as we know, are: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling. But man has another set of five senses which are not physical, but which belong to his inner man. They are the counterpart of those five physical senses, and in man by nature these other senses are not functioning. The Bible speaks of all these senses in a spiritual way in relation to God.

The Bible speaks of a "seeing" of God, which is not physical at all; it is not with the natural eyes. There is that little fragment known to most: "The pure in heart ... shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). That is certainly not a physical matter.

Again, "hearing". There is a spiritual hearing of God which is not audition through the natural or physical ear. It is something in the heart. It is not the hearing of an audible voice, but it corresponds to that in a spiritual way. People are able to say they have heard the Lord speak to them, but they never heard anything with their natural ear.

"Tasting?" Yes, the Bible says: "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8), and no one thinks that that is a physical matter.

"Smelling?" - that seems to be difficult, perhaps. But we know what we mean,without any physical factor coming in, when we say that we are "scenting" something. We go into a room and somehow we detect that there is "something in the air." People have been talking, and when we go in we see embarrassment on their faces, and they suddenly become quiet and look at one another, and we "scent" something. In an analogous way, we know that it is possible to sense the presence of God. There are thus a whole set of spiritual faculties which, when they are in proper order and function, serve to relate us to God; and in the natural man, the unregenerate man, those senses are not functioning at all. There is no "seeing" God, in that way; there is no "hearing" God speak to him; there is no "sensing" or "feeling" God - it is a tremendous thing to feel God, not with your hands, but in an inward way. There is no "tasting that the Lord is good" in the natural man. All these things are out of order - and yet the Bible speaks of them a very great deal. The Bible teaches, and man's condition corroborates, that, where God is concerned, man is blind, man is deaf; man is numbed, has no feelings, is insensitive to God. Is that not so? That is a true description of anyone - it may be you who are reading these lines - who has not had a definite Christian experience. You do not see God in this way, you do not hear God, you do not feel God, you do not sense God; God is unreal, remote, far away, if He is at all. You do not know Him.

It is no real contradiction of the above and of what follows when we say that in most cases - very, very few exceptions exist - there is a consciousness of the existence of some supreme Object demanding recognition. Our point is that there is no fellowship, understanding, knowledge, or living relationship with God.

`T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - "Man By Nature Dead to God")

A Job Experience # 10

3. "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, "smitten" of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4, 5). More than any other passage of Scripture, Isaiah 52:13-15 and Isaiah 53 reveal the details of the innermost workings of the Cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And it is even more wonderful when we realize that Isaiah was used to record these innermost details over 600 years before Christ was crucified. This portion of Scripture is very remarkable, for it is written in the past, present, and future tense, for example: - He was wounded for our transgressions - and with His stripes we are healed - He shall see the travail of His soul. In other words, all the work accomplished through the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is "from everlasting to everlasting" - the Cross is always a present accomplishment from eternity past throughout eternity future.

Therefore, the greatest and most important battle in all the battles of the ages was being fought through and upon the Cross of Christ. Through the Cross: "God disarmed the principalities and powers ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Christ and in the Cross" (Col. 2:15). The religious leaders of that day thought they put Jesus on the Cross! Rome thought they ordered the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazarene! And satan and all his evil host thought they were crucifying the Christ of God. But, beloved, the Word of God says: "... it pleased the Lord (the Lord purposed) to bruise (to crush) Him ..." The Cross of Christ always was, and is, and ever shall be, the most important factor in the Full Purpose of God in Christ: "...when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall MY SERVANT justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:10, 11).

Isaiah 53:4 says, "Yet we did esteem Him stricken, "smitten" of God, and afflicted ..."; and the context of this scripture indicates that we are mostly ignorant of, and probably never will fully understand, the Fullness of the Atoning Work of the Cross. But, beloved, we can by faith believe it! We can rejoice in it! We can walk and live in the reality of it! And we can spend eternity learning of the Fullness of the Atoning Work of the Cross of Christ.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening of our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like a sheep have gone astray,
Each of us turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall upon Him (Isaiah 53:4-6)

And so, after considering these examples of the word, "smote," we see that when the Holy Spirit states that "satan ... smote Job," He is emphasizing the importance of the warfare that is taking place in the unseen realm between God and His enemy. A warfare that will result in God's End through His Way:

"You have heard of the endurance of Job."

"And much Time Having Elapsed ..."

Thus, satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with loathsome and painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself, and he sat down among the ashes, an unclean place without the city. (Job2:7-9; taken from the Hebrew-Interlinear Bible).

Then, much time having elapsed, his wife said to him, "Are you still holding fast to your integrity? How long wilt thou persist saying, 'Behold I will wait yet a little longer in hope and expectation of my deliverance?' Renounce God, and die." "

The majority who interpret this portion of Scripture are very hard on the wife of Job. They seem to forget that up to this point Job's wife had suffered through the same calamities that satan had brought upon Job: - Along with Job, she had suffered the loss of their home and lands; and most grievous and painful of all, her mother's heart had been broken by the death of their children. And then, for what seemed like an unendurable length of time, she had watched her husband suffer pain, grief, and affliction. The Septuagint Bible seems to catch the essence of her grief and sorrow as it speaks of what must have been in her heart: "...those sons and daughters, whom I brought forth with pangs and sorrow, and for whom I toiled in vain, are vanished from the earth; and (Job) thou thyself sittest among the putrefaction of worms, all night long in the open air, while I am wandering about or working for wages, from place to place and from house to house, wishing for the setting of the sun, that I may rest from the sorrows I endure ..."

No wonder Job's wife broke under the strain of the calamities that befell them; no wonder she could not endure such sufferings; on the contrary, we believe that it was only as Job depended on God's "tender mercy" (James 5:11) that Job endured until God had His End through His Way.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11)

Prayer Is Essential

"Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved" (Psalm 55:22)

Prayer was a priority in Jesus' life. He communed with His Father continually. In fact, prayer is an essential priority in the life of everyone mightily used by God - every person who is walking in the Spirit and living a holy life.

When our time alone with God is no longer a priority, we open ourselves to discouragement, doubt, disillusionment, and eventually disaster. When we no longer fellowship with Him, we begin to feel the spiritual, emotional, and physical weight of our earthly circumstances.

Prayer lifts up our burdens so that we don't have to bear their weight. Whether they are given to us by the Lord in order to teach us, or self-imposed as a result of the decisions we make, God tells us to cast our burdens upon Him. Bearing the weight of burdens we were not intended to carry not only takes a spiritual toll on us but leaves us physically and emotionally beaten as well.

satan knows that tired and weary Christians are prime targets for his attacks. First, he strikes with discouragement. When we lose hope, we are primed and ready for his next weapon - doubt. A doubting Christian can easily be pushed into discouragement. Listening to the devil's proclamations, "Where is God?" and "The Christian life doesn't work!" can breed disaster.

Therefore, prayer is not only a comfort in times of need; it is essential for your survival. It guided Jesus through His life. Let it guide you.

Lord, I am burdened by so many things. I am sorry for thinking I can carry these on my own. Please take them and walk me through each difficult situation.

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Job Experience # 9

Now Job's grief was just as great, and just as heart-breaking, and just as hard to live with, as anyone's would be who had suffered such a lose. But Job endured. Yes, satan had unleashed his fury, but Job endured. And at the time of  his greatest grief and heartache, Job fell down and worshiped the Lord and said: "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." And the Word tells us that "in all this" Job did not charge wrong or injustice to God, he did not blame God, which is another way of saying: " ... we know that all things work together for good (for God's ultimate good) to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Thus Job worshiped the Lord with these words:

Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

Beloved, as Job uttered these words, which came from the very depths of his heart, satan's first attempt to stop God's purpose in Job's life went down in defeat. Now these are the first words that Job spoke after he was informed of the great calamities which had come upon him; and so brethren, when Job uttered these words, satan went down in defeat - satan's deadly and powerful plan to cause Job to err from "God's Way" was defeated.

satan had prophesied:
"... he will curse Thee to Thy Face."
But instead, Job humbled himself
under the Mighty Hand of God;
And worshiped and said:
"Blessed be the name of the Lord."

"Again ... satan smote Job ..."

However, we find that satan was not through with Job, for in chapter two of Job we are again taken into the realm that is unseen, as the Word of God solemnly states: "Again ... satan came ... to present himself before the Lord." Again satan was summoned by the Lord, by the Eternal-One, to give account of himself, for God knew that His enemy was still seeking to devour the purpose that He had for Job's life. Consequently, our Sovereign Lord, Who is always progressing towards His End, permits satan to further afflict Job; and, remember, whenever God permits satan to afflict one of His own, He always has eternal purpose in view.

So satan, "again,"  moves against Job,and this time satan afflicts him not only in spirit and soul but also in body. Job two, verse seven, says that satan "smote" Job with loathsome and painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Now, the Holy Spirit has a definite reason for using the word "smoke" when He describes satan's attack upon Job. Some of the most powerful struggles and intense spiritual conflicts recorded in the Word are behind the use of this word "smote" - conflicts and struggles which have far-reaching effects and results in the Divine plan. Therefore, let us take note of three such instances in other portions of the Bible in order that we may understand the conflict that Job suffered.

1. "...these made war with Bera king of Sodom ... and in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and "smote" the Rephaims ..." (Genesis 14:2, 5). Here we find satan showing just how far he will go in his war against God's purpose in Christ, as he ruthlessly causes a war between the evil powers under his control: - the kings of the earth, which represent satan's control over fallen man; the Rephaims, which are the descendants of the giants of Genesis 6, the monsters of iniquity, who were, and are, the seed of the serpent; and Sodom, which speaks of perversion and also represents that which satan sets into motion in order to pervert the Right Way of the Lord. And behind this war, which satan inspired between those under his control, was satan's attempt to cause Abraham to compromise with Sodom and thereby corrupt "The Seed", which is Christ. But Abraham said to the king of Sodom, "I will not take anything that is thine." And after these things, the Word of the Lord came to Abraham saying: "Fear not, Abram: I Am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1).

2. "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will "smite" all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I Am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and When I See The Blood, I Will Pass Over You, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I "smite" the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:12, 13). These scriptures point to the Cross, and they speak of the Power of the shed Blood of Christ Jesus our Lord. They speak of the great unseen warfare that took place when God, through the shed Blood of the Lamb, saved and delivered His people out of the bondage of Egypt. Egypt represents the world that is under the rule of satan: it represents a bondage which, if not broken, ultimately means slavery and death and destruction.

Furthermore, God used satan's own power, the destroyer and his evil angels, to "smite" the firstborn of Egypt, "the chief of their strength." In Genesis 49:3, where Jacob is speaking of his firstborn, we find why most nations and families considered the firstborn to be the chief of their strength: "... you are my first-born; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power". The destroyer could not touch God's people because of the Blood of the Lamb, but the might and strength and dignity and power of Egypt's firstborn was destroyed. God also executed judgment upon all the gods of Egypt. The destroyer (Exodus 12:23), satan himself, set out to enslave God's people, and to destroy the purpose God had for their lives; but, in the end, satan could only destroy his own evil. Thus, through it all, the Lord saved and delivered His own people unto Himself, in order that they would build and become His holy habitation.

He (God) cast upon them
(upon Egypt and upon all the gods of Egypt)
the fierceness of His anger,
wrath, and indignation, and trouble,
by sending evil angels among them ...
And smote all the firstborn in their land,
the chief of all their strength ...
But made His own people to go forth like sheep,
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
And He led them on safely so that they feared not:
The enemy said,
"I will pursue, I will overtake ...
my hand shall destroy them."
But the seas overwhelmed their enemies ...
Thy Right Hand, O Lord,
hath dashed in pieces the enemy ...
Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people
Thou hast redeemed:
Thou hast guided them in Thy strength
unto Thy holy habitation.
(Psalm 78:49-53; Exodus 15:9, 10, 6, 13).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)