Tuesday, 22 February 2011

HOW TO SURVIVE THE STORMS OF LIFE

How do you survive when storms come and God seems to be silent?  That is the story of Job. And we can learn a lot from the way in which Job handled the storm that hit his life.

Job was righteous [Job 1:1]. He was blameless, upright, and feared God. He was a blessed man [Job 1:2-3]. He was the greatest man in the East. He was a family man [Job 1:4-5], who prayed for his children. God Himself spoke very highly of Job [Job 1:8]. Satan hated Job and came into God’s presence to accuse him. Satan’s ability to come into God’s presence was removed when Jesus defeated him on the cross, but people do still experience the negative things that Job experienced. Satan made two basic accusations against Job:
Job only fears God because God has blessed Him [Job 1:9-11]. At this accusation God gives Satan permission to take away Job’s wealth! [Job 1:12-13]. Job loses everything, except his integrity [Job 1:13-19]. Job’s response was amazing– He mourned and worshipped [Job 1:20-21], but he did not sin! [Job 1:22]
Job only fears God because God gives him health [Job 2:4-5]
God gives Satan permission to take away Job’s health! [Job 2:6,7-8]. It is important to understand that God allowed Satan to do this but God Himself is not the author of sickness! Job’s makes one of the most amazing statements in Scripture, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity” [Job 1:10] How did Job stand firm through all of this? How did he survive the whirlwind? Perhaps five attitudes revealed in Job’s life are a key to his survival

HE TRUSTED IN THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
Despite what he was experiencing, Job’s testimony was that God is good and that he will trust Him whatever happens – “Though He slay me I will trust Him”  [Job 13:15]. He recognized that somehow God would bring good out of the trial - “When he has tried me I shall come forth as God” [Job 23:10], and believed that God had a right to do what He did in saying “the Lord gives and takes away” [Job 1:21]. Beware of only trusting God in the good times, and remember He is Lord at all times, even in the storms. Even Satan cannot act unless God allows him to do so! Even when God seems to be silent He is still in control. That is the time to trust Him!

HE BELIEVED THERE WOULD COME A DAY OF RESURRECTION
Despite the trials Job’s assurance of a future day of blessing is clear – “I know that my Redeemer lives….” [Job 19:25-26]. In the midst of such trials it would be so easy to get your eyes on the circumstances – like Peter, to look at the waves and begin to sink!
Here is Christian hope – Job is looking ahead to a life beyond this life! It is this hope that holds us firm [Romans 5:2b-5] and this hope is a protective “helmet of salvation” [1 Thessalonians 5:8]

HE RECOGNISED THAT HE DIDN’T UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING
Job admitted that there were things that he did not understand [Job 42:2-3].  In a day when knowledge has been deified it is humbling to say that we don’t know and it is so releasing to recognize that we don’t have all the answers.  Paul says, “We only know in part…we see through a glass darkly.” God doesn’t ask us to understand everything but He does ask us to trust Him!
                 
HE WAS CAREFUL WHOSE ADVICE HE LISTENED TO
Various friends had counsel and advice for Job – but it was not the counsel that he needed! They basically  blamed Job for the situation he found himself in – he must have sinned! This is what Job’s friends said about Job but it is interesting to see what God said about them!!! [Job 42:7-8].  Here are two things to beware of  - the danger of teaching that brings condemnation, and negative words that people speak that bring you into bondage!

HE FOCUSED ON THE NEEDS OF OTHER PEOPLE
God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends  [Job 42:10]. Is there any better cure for self-pity that to reach out to others in their need! At this point God restored to Job everything that Job had lost – twice as much as he had before [Job 42:10]

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

LIVING AS GOD INTENDED

God never intended us to live as fearful failures. Jesus said, “I am come that they may have fullness of life.” [John 10:10]. Another version says, “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The word “abundantly” is perissos in Greek. It has the meaning of superabundance, excessive, over-flowing, surplus, over and above, more than enough, more than sufficient. This is not referring only to money but to life itself. This is God’s plan and purpose for us. The writer of Proverbs describes with six beautiful couplets of two verses. In each couplet He gives a promise and then states the conditions we must fulfill in order to enjoy the promise. Let’s look a little closer at these six promises that God gives us:

a meaningful life [Proverbs 3:1-2]
The Amplified Bible says, “Length of days and years of a life worth living and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age to death…” God promises that if we keep his commandments we will live the full length of life, with peace. The key is to keep God’s commands in our heart – not just outwardly – but inwardly. David says of the Lord that He desires truth in the inward parts [Psalm 51:6]

favour with God and with men [Proverbs 3:3-4]
God’s favour is priceless. If we reverence the Lord and live aright then He blesses us but also causes men to recognize that we are different – not selfish, false, or hypocritical but genuine. Joseph in the Old Testament lived with God’s favour even in slavery and a prison. When he finally stood, before Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt said, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” The key to this is simple – always act with mercy and kindness!

clear direction & purpose [Proverbs 3:5-6]
God promises to guide us…to lead us in a straight path. What a promise as we walk through difficulties that the world and life present to us. The key to this clear guidance is to trust God to lead us, not to depend upon our own understanding, and in everything we do to seek Him and acknowledge Him. When we do this the Lord will lead us in right paths.

health and strength [Proverbs 3:7-8]
When we turn away from all evil, and especially the pride of thinking we can “do it our way,” and instead reverence the Lord and worship Him, then he promises that our nerves and our bones shall be healthy and we will have strength.

financial security [Proverbs 3:9-10]
God promises to bless us financially when we honour Him with our finances! We are to give to Him and we do that through giving to others. Amazingly, the more we give the more he seems to meet our needs! God’s promise is “Give and it shall be given to you.” Personally, we have experienced that giving what we have protects us from idolatry, blesses others but opens the door for God to bless with plenty!

grow in maturity and wisdom [Proverbs 3:11-12]
Because he loves as a Father, God chastens us and disciplines us. This is not always enjoyable but it is an evidence of His love [see Hebrews 12:3-11]. Through the school of hard knocks, trials and discipline our Heavenly Father teaches us patience and wisdom. In this way we grow up into His mature children who live peaceably and in right ways.

Over the next few months we will look on the website more closely at each of these facets of the wonderful life that God has promised His children.