Sunday, February 13, 2011

Slaying Giants – Job



Job 1:13-22 “Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Slaying giants starts by rooting yourself in God, rooting your life in Jesus so that all that you take in through life is filtered through that paradigm. Then when life takes tragic or serious downturns you are not thrown off track nor are you left without hope or understanding. When you look at Job, right at the beginning he is described as “blameless, upright, fearing God, turning away from evil”. We talked about this principle with Jehoshaphat, and indeed it is foundational for any follower of Jesus, even today.



If you took your whole life and were able to put all the different components of it into a pie chart, so that you had family, and work, free time, hobbies, etc – you had them all listed in a complete pie so that 100% of your life was there; and then you started to colour in all those slice where you lived with that focus of God in those areas, how much of your pie would you colour in? If you took one of those slices like free time, how would you colour it? To live a Christ-centered life does not mean all your free time is spent in Bible study or preaching on the street corner or volunteering at the Bridge on 20th – you may do some of those things, but it isn’t just what you do, it is why and how you do them. Are you talking to God in the midst of that free time? Do you have a sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence with you as you do your woodworking or painting or reading? Did you commit that hour or that evening to the glory of God? Do you have to shelve some of your Christian sensibilities in order to freely participate in your activities? Questions like these begin to help you evaluate why you are doing what you are doing, and whether you are doing it within a life surrendered to God. These questions tend to let you know if you have fallen short – kind of like the Law letting you know you have sinned. The central focus here is surrender. The question you will end up asking is, “What does surrender to God look like at work?” “What does surrender to God look like in my woodworking, or my free time?” Because you were created different than me with different strengths and gifts, your answers will be different than mine. My twin brother got into model remote control airplanes. For him, he also saw it as an opportunity to build relationships with other enthusiasts in his community so that he may live his life focussed on Jesus in front of them.

Do you remember when I talked about blessing the first 10 people in your day? I hope you are still doing that and that it is one of those spiritual habits you have developed in your life. Sometimes it was verbal, sometimes it was a quick, silent prayer and sometimes it was a little act of kindness. You didn’t do it just to get something from that person, but because God had called us to be a people of blessing others.  My brother didn’t just do what he did to share the gospel, but because his life focussed on Jesus called him to be who he was created to be in the midst of them. That is the missional message, of just living your life focused on God 24/7, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. And Job did that. In verse 5 you see he kept short accounts with God not just for himself, but for his kids as well. This is what you and I are called to do and be – just live our lives focussed on Jesus and be real about who we are.

In the mean time, in places we can’t see or hear or in some cases understand, there are things happening that will affect us and people talking about us that will change our life. In Job we see this spiritual warfare, the spiritual struggle that takes place in the heavens in a throne room we only have glimpses of in the Bible. The giants that you and I face are not necessarily the real giant or the complete understanding of the problem. In Job’s case we see there was a challenge to the Sovereignty of God and to the work of God in the life of men. All Job understood was his grief of loss of family, and shock at the loss of wealth and security and position; but there were bigger forces at work unbeknownst to him. As you read this story, you see that God put limits and protection on Job. These things, these giants in our lives don’t take God by surprise.

Have you ever considered that there are bigger forces at work behind the giants in your life? A sickness may cause you to influence a nurse or doctor. A financial pressure may cause you to work a second job or be in a place you wouldn’t otherwise, because God has designed to use you to bless a person going through something similar or something from your past which you have overcome in God. I am not saying that everything that happens God causes for a specific reason. Sometimes it is that way, but sometimes we are just caught up as people in a fallen world. Sin is all around us, and people left to their own devices can become violent and mean. When you look at the effects of poverty and alcohol and drug use the reality is we live in a world where caution needs to happen. In all these circumstances, though, whether God planned a specific event or it happened out of our humanity, the Bible is very clear that God can and wants to use it to reveal Himself to us and those around us. As we live that life of surrender to and focus on God, God will take those giants that come against us and use them for His purposes and glory. The nasty stuff that happened to Joseph turned into the salvation of the family of Jacob. The storm in Jonah allowed him to get back on track with his mission for God. The persecution of the church in Jerusalem led to the Gospel going around the world.

Then there are the little stories about people just being faithful in the little things. Billy Graham was saved in a tent meeting by a little known itinerant evangelist. While we have 13 letters of Paul in the New Testament and you can take whole courses on Pauline theology, it was Barnabus who took Paul under his wing and stood up for him before the church leadership after his conversion.  While you may consider yourself of little importance in the big picture, you have no idea how God can use you to change the world with a simple word of testimony or act of love. A young girl stood up in a group meeting in 1909 and simply said in a quavering voice, “I just love the Lord with all my heart!” and the spirit moved in what became known as the Welsh revival.

When you look at the story of Job you see this faithful man besieged by all these tragedies. Most of the book is Job asking , “Why?” while his friends said it was his fault and he needed to repent. God finally steps in and simply asks who is Job to question and understand a God who created the universe, the earth, and all it contains. We will not have all our questions answered, but we can rest in the fact that God is sovereign and in control. Stuff happens because we live in a fallen world and people have been given the wonderful gift of free will, of choice, when they were made in the image of God. The message for us is to stand firm in the things you know; that God loves you and created you for life in His Kingdom.

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