Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Discerning God's Will Together Part VI

Let’s talk about Job for a minute. I am either going to post this out of order or post it at a later time. The comments this morning tell me several things; first, that this topic is of great interest on a severely practical level; second, because all of us have endured excruciating pain at various times that would seem incongruent with a loving and sovereign God; and third, because I am compelled to try and understand this topic as well as I can as a shepherd who desires to tend the precious lambs of God once again.

Ever since the fall of man we have been born with a defective heart. This defect is of the greatest magnitude possible.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it.” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV)

We suffer from a condition that beyond our imagination and even full understanding. Sin has permeated our entire being, body, soul, and mind and has imprisoned us in absolute bondage. All that we do, even the “good” that we do is tainted, stained, or permeated by sin. The greater challenge is that human beings sin against one another in the most atrocious, egregious, and acidic manner possible.

In this post I want to tackle two tremendously hard events that I hope will give you further insight. The first is Job.

We know the story well, or at least we should. One day, messengers begin arriving at Job’s tent in rapid succession. Each messenger gives a report of disaster and destruction of Job’s crops and animals. The final messenger approaches and tells Job that all ten of his children are eating and drinking in the oldest sons home when a great wind came and collapsed the house, killing all ten of his children.

Where was God? Where was his sovereign and omnipotence when the house collapsed falling onto and crushing his ten precious children? God was in his domain and on his “throne.” He had just finished a debriefing meeting with angels he had preciously dispatched throughout the earth. Unimaginable and inconceivable to our minds, Satan shows up at this session. You know (and if you don’t read Job 1-2) the conversation that took place.

God challenged Satan. The Hebrew gives us a little clearer picture of what took place. God knew that Satan had already been harassing Job somewhat and he asked him, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Satan replied, “Does Job fear God for know reason?”

The loss of Job’s crops, animals, children, and even his health was the result of God demonstrating to Satan that Job worshipped God for the right reasons. God knew that these losses as painful as they were would drive Job deeper in intimacy with him, thereby magnifying the character of God.

That is amazing to me. Remember, all that God does is motivated by his desire to be praised and worshipped. He created us to magnify his great character. God’s glory is of the utmost importance to God.

I said that our hearts are deceitful and they are wicked. Actually Jeremiah said that and you can find that truth and principle throughout both the Old and New Testament. Here is one way that our heart deceives us.

We as humans have a built in need for happiness or satisfaction. We also want satisfaction immediately. From the earliest days in the crib when we are hungry we cry, when we are wet, we cry, when we want cuddled, we cry – we don’t know what all these things are yet, but we want satisfaction for everyone of them. As we grow older the pattern doesn’t change. We want to be happy and satisfied, although the definitions of both of these situations are different in everyone. We usually find our satisfaction and happiness every where but the one place we are to find it, God.

We find satisfaction in life itself, art, music, drama; people, family, spouses, sex, alcohol, drugs, thrills, hobbies, careers, and … God designed us to find ultimate satisfaction and happiness in him.

God doesn’t give up or quit. He is always at work engineering various means to draw us to him self in order for us to find total happiness and satisfaction. God will even use painful means, or the sin of men, or our own sin to draw us unto himself. Why? In order for God to receive the highest glory. God will be glorified. Everything that God does is motivated for his glory. Even the wicked, who were created for destruction will give the highest glory to God. "If God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath" (Romans 9:22), that's what will be glorified! His wrath will be glorified and his power will be glorified. And their failure to be satisfied in him will produce that kind of glorification.

Do you want to glorify God the most with your life and experience his glory the most? Then the answer is: Pursue maximum satisfaction in him. That's what so many Christians have never heard, and they have a hard time believing. Contrary to our thinking, we are not number one on the hit parade of the universe. God is.

So, how does this tie in your experiences? If we have not come to where we find our greatest satisfaction in God, God will use whatever means he chooses to bring us to that position. Due to our sinful human nature it rarely is a new car, bigger house, Caribbean Cruise that he uses.

No, God will use the abandonment of our own families, the loss of a job, a painful divorce, a cheating spouse, cancer, a foreclosure, slander, false accusations, death of a child to bring us closer to him and to love him more and to find our absolute satisfaction in him. You say, how can that be? Those are so painful they almost drove me out of mind and to despair.

So many things take the God’s place in our hearts and since our hearts lulled us into a state of unawareness by its deception and wickedness we don’t know we love and cherish things more than God. In absolute unawareness we cherish and treasure the things in our lives that are most precious and familiar to us. There are times God chooses to “wrest” those things from us in order that we might cherish, treasure him as the most precious thing in our lives.

We hit my word count for today. I will address the second scenario tomorrow. I also hope to tie into some of the comments from today. Stay tuned.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

As I read this Gregg God , so that his people gets closer to him has to suffer like losing their loved ones to cancer, expereincing pain and other awful things.
Well in my case it had the opposite effct, My mother passed away on the 14th July,on the 17th July my husband was daignosed with terminal brain cancer after recovering from lung cancer and on the 11th Septemeber the same year he too was taken from me. I lost all faith for quite a while, then just as I was accepting what fate had done to me my eldest son was diagnosed with cancer,You believe that brings people closer to God,
What about the adults who harm or kill their innocent children,
There is much bad in this world though at the same time the world can be a wonderful place.
I get very confused at times.

Have a wonderful day.

Gregg said...

Yvonne - it seems incongruent with our thinking, I know this. I have been there also, so I am not speaking as if this is theory. As children of God many things vie for our attention. Eventually, God is pushed backwards into a holding position in our minds and our hearts.

God will use events like Job's or yours or mine to put before us a diagnosis of what is truly supreme and important to us. Is God as our saviour, redeemer, Father, Lord, King, and sovereign more important, and will he be cherished and treasured more than any other thing.

We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, our soul, and our minds. In this life, as we are tainted with sin this is impossible to acheive, yet that is our standard. So we strive for that. However, our flesh, sin, the world itself, and even Satan does not want us to comply with that.

God's design for us in these types of trials is to turn to Him for the strenght, energy, love, support, joy, peace, comfort, assurance, and anything esle that we need. The design of our deceitful heart leads us to retreat to ourselves, our own wisdom, our own philosophy, our own means to "cope" or view our situation.

Most, if not the majority do retreat away from God. Why? They have not come to a place where they view him more necessarily than life, more than breath, more than anything in this life. They more than likely have never treasured God as the greatest treasure that they could ever possess.

The temptation is real, retreat from God, the pain, the evil, etc. God has promised to never permit temptation to be so great as to overwhelm us, but will give us a means to escape it. (I Cor 10:13) The tendency of the human heart is to avoid the means of escape.

Read the tiny letter of Paul to the Philippians carefully over and over. Examine it as Paul states that everything he considered valuable he counted as "dung" in order to have the one thing that is ultimately important - Christ.

The pain is real, the heart-ache is real, the reality is real - but will they lead us deeper and deeper into real intimacy with God or will these things lead us away from Him?

You are right, most people don't understand. Most never will. Most never desire the pearl of great price nor would they give all that they had, including health, reputation, family, wealth, etc to have it. This is why Christ asks in the gospel, what will a man give for his own soul?

arlee bird said...

Sometimes I wonder, "What am I to do?"

In the story of Job, as I look at it from my earthly standpoint, I see where Job is considered "important" but his family, possessions, and anything else he holds dear are just inconsequential parts of the story other than whatever value I the reader I attach to them. In other other, Job's childern are just helpless pawns in a game between God and satan. If I think about terms like "the elect", "predestination", and "God's Will", I wonder if for some of us there is no hope for being part of God's Kingdom because it is already decided what our outcome is.

How much is vanity? How much should we strive to attain? Does advancement in our careers have any real point since they are worldly? Should we be encouraging our kids to be successful in the eyes of the world? Should we be enjoying music, art, movies, or literature, or anything created by humans.

I get ccnflicted sometimes.

Tossing It Out

Gregg said...

Lee - I am going to answer your question from yesterday or the day before, and I will try to define God's will. I will also address each of the items that you mentioned in this comment. They are great questions with biblical answers available. Should I address them together in a post briefly, or spend a post on each one of them? What do you think?

arlee bird said...

I know I would like as complete an explanation as I can get so if you wanted to expand to the clearest explanation that might be helpful. I wouldn't mind a post on each, but I'll leave it up to you how you think you can best handle it. It's all interesting enough to me to elaborate on and hopefully other readers would be interested as well.


Gregg said...

Lee - you got it! One post per subject. Tomorrow we start with What is the Will of God, part I. Then I will work through all of hte comments or questions that have been asked.

Pilgrim Mommy said...

"So many things take the God’s place in our hearts and since our hearts lulled us into a state of unawareness by its deception and wickedness we don’t know we love and cherish things more than God. In absolute unawareness we cherish and treasure the things in our lives that are most precious and familiar to us. There are times God chooses to “wrest” those things from us in order that we might cherish, treasure him as the most precious thing in our lives."

That's my testimony, and God has proven Himself to be more precious than what was taken away.