Thursday, March 12, 2009

Full of Heart, Full of Spirit

This is about the book of Job. My Dad's devotions to us kids are about Job at the moment, and we're finding some pretty interesting stuff. I wish I could type the whole book out, but that would be extremely strenuous.... though I hardly trust anyone to just go and read the whole book on their own (42 chapters!). Nevertheless, I do encourage it! The book of Job will change your life (as any other book of the Bible will, if you let it). So I'm gonna challenge you (whoever you are) to go and study and read the book of Job. I'll only give you the first few verses from chapter one, and maybe some bits 'n pieces throughout.

"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually."

OK, so here we have Job - a righteous and wealthy man (if you had animals in abundance back then, you were loaded) who had many children that he dearly loved. He took care of not only their physical well beings, but also their spiritual well beings. Just in case one of his sons or daughters sinned against God, whether it was secret or not, Job went and sacrificed a burnt offering for each one at the appointed time, to make sure God's face was not turned against any of his children. The Bible says he feared (reverenced) God and eschewed (loathed, cursed, etc.) evil.

So while Job was living a blessed and full life, Satan came to 'visit' God one day. Satan challenged the Almighty to see if Job would curse God when He allowed Satan to afflict Job. God allowed it on one condition - Satan could not kill Job. Enter Tragedy. One day, in only a matter of hours, Job lost everything. His oxen and asses were attacked and killed by the Sabeans (eastern tribe), his sheep were burned up by the fire of God from heaven, the Chaldeans (another tribe) stole all his camels, plus all the servants (except three) were killed in all this. But the worst was not over then. A fourth surviving servant came and told Job that all his children (and more servants) had been killed. A great wind from the wilderness had shaken the four corners of the house and the house fell upon his children while they were eating and drinking together. Job mourned all he had lost, but never cursed God once. Instead he said "...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Later, Satan curses Job with painful boils from his head to his toe, and he had to scrape them off with a potsherd. Satan did his very best to try and get Job to curse God, but Job would not be taken in this consuming torment. Even Job's wife eventually turned against him. She tells him to just "curse God and die!" I think we know who's side she was for (whether she knew it or not). No one - not even Job - knew that Satan had challenged God. This whole story will just seem to some people like a very sad story. But it was more than a sad story. Even more than tragic! It was more than one man could handle alone! (You'll understand perfectly the awful seriousness of this true story if you READ it! anyway...) God never promised us He wouldn't give us more than we can handle. He DID promise, though, that no matter what comes into our lives, He will never leave us, nor forsake us. Job believed that. He faced it with our dear Father God by his side. Still, his sufferings increased. To top things off, he had three great friends that stayed with him and "encouraged" him through this hard times (yes, I am being sarcastic). They totally destroyed every glint of hope he might have had! They accused him of sin and blamed him for all his misfortunes! They began to get brutal and throw out, what seemed to have been, anything to get Job to break. Anything. Towards the end, it sounds as if they may have even been a bit jealous of Job's fortune at the beginning, and are now pleased with his sufferings! (like those people who are your friends when you have a nice, shiny, red convertible you take them in rides for, and when it's crashed, they snub you...) Those are how I'd describe Job's friends. Only, they were worse. They made sure the bitterness of loss really got rubbed in. Job got discouraged. He even wanted to die! But he NEVER cursed God. Job never dishonored Him or gave up on His righteousness and just judgement. Full of Heart, full of spirit, he persevered til the end, and was blessed with twice as much as he started with, plus his health was renewed. If God takes something good away, He will restore it, or will give you something better to take it's place. I fervently believe that. Job's relationship with God became strengthened to the extreme (I would expect!). He got twice as much cattle and camels as he began with, his daughters were the fairest in all the land, and he even got to give a little righteous payback to his "friends". God chastised the three friends (Zophar, Eliphaz and Bildad) and had Job go and sacrifice for them, so they would be forgiven. How shameful for God to have a friend ask forgiveness for you, because your jealousy against him had turned so cruel. How embarrassing! I declare - no matter what trials would come into my life, I'd rather be a Job than any of them! To be in favor with God even though not in man's. And to be as righteous as Job. I KNOW Jesus Christ's righteousness would make his look like a fool's, but it's hard enough to try to imagine living as righteously as Job did! I won't exalt him though. God put that spirited, strong heart in him. It was a heart that could face any storm, any raging madness that swept across it's world. He even wished to die, but he did not curse God or forsake God's name. He trusted in his Redeemer. He held fast to that which is Good and Strong all-together. And he won the battle.

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