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Faith and Joy- Job the man of God, is an example!
The Tools of Faith and Joy
The book of Job is an inspiration. He was a righteous man and was loved greatly by God, yet God tested Job on his integrity. Every trial and testing was placed upon Job. In just a short period of time, Job lost all of his family, his livestock, his status, and his friends. Job entered depths of despair, frustration, despondency and hopelessness but he never gave up on God! He was at times, angry with God but he never stopped being faithful to his Creator! Job chapter 13.
The book concludes when God gave back to Job what he had originally lost but God also gave Job abundantly more besides, so that he became a wealthier man than before his time of trials. Job had remained faithful throughout his terrible ordeals. He never turned to false gods or idols and he never turned his back on God. He often confronted God asking why God was doing these things to him -a righteous man, he lacked joy but remained faithful! He often argued with God but never turned away from God. And as Job went through his trials he actually groew stronger in faith it drew him closer to God, as he argued, questioned and proclaimed his anger! Through these encounters with the mighty creator he grew to know God more and in fact there is strong evidence that God was introducing Job to his mediator and advocate - Jesus Christ! Even before Christ came to us as a man he was there with God the Father, as the mediator to God's chosen!
In Chapters 38-42 dialogue between Job and the Lord God takes place. God shows his magnificence as creator and ruler and how small we are in comparison. In Chapter 42:4 Job realises that he knew of God (with intellectual understanding) but now after the dialogue with God he now has a greater understanding of the Creator -Job now sees God with his eyes and hears God with his ears. Although Job is a righteous man - he recognises his lowliness as a mere human compared with the awesomeness of God. Many Christians today do not understand this awesome of God and miss out on an important lesson that Job learnt. That is, even someone as righteous and pious as he realised he was nothing - a mere worm in the dust in comparison to God.
This is the inspiration- this is an example of the level of righteousness God seeks from his people.
People often say (as Job's friends said to him) that if a person goes through suffering and persecution (i.e. The Jewish Holocaust) that they deserved it because of their sin! This is false doctrine! All peoples are sinners- sin is sin to God! However, it is those that love God and who God loves he tends to refine, through persecution, because he has a purpose for their lives.
As a good, loving parent you would train your children in the things you know would be useful for them when they enter adulthood, you would spend a lot of time and energy focusing on your children's needs in order to refine them into becoming the ideal adult who would be successful in their work, contributing to society and the community and who would be good companions to you in your later years. You would not spend the same amount of time on the child down the road whose family is known to take part in evil acts! This scenario is to simplify our position as God's children. He also sees our righteous hearts, He knew us before we were born, but his goal is to refine us and test our level of faithfulness, our integrity, our endurance and our love for him but also to demonstrate to us, God's awesomeness!
Job was a righteous man and he was set as an example to us. God gave Job great wealth and status, many believers are in that place now but what would they be like if it was all taken from them- would they remain faithful to God or would they just give up on him and turn to humanism? I suspect many would do the latter! Hence God is sifting the wheat and chaff.
Yeshua said, in Matthew 13:19- "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. ... verse 20 " the man whose seed fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. verse 22, " The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it." Yeshua is saying here that when troubles come a believer who is not firmly rooted in Yeshua, led by the spirit and grounded in the word of God is unable to survive and will eventually fall away from God during troubled times. This is sifting of those who claim to be His and those who really are - the remnant!
Hence trials and tribulations have several purposes and only God knows which of these apply to your personal circumstances. He may wish to refine you into a position of holiness so that you are fit and ready for work in the mission field or as a preacher or he may need to test your faithfulness if you were in a state of hopelessness. The reasons for trials and testings are numerous and only God has the power, the right or the desire to allow these to take place on his children -therefore God is in control of the situation. The evil one is limited in power and allowed only to work from the outside of a child of God, he cannot possess (or work internally i.e. control a believer's mind or actions from inside the person, he can only whisper in their ear and cause outside influences to affect us.) so he cannot possess that which belongs to God and who is spirit-led!
So how do we survive these trials and testings?
It is not humanly possible to remain emotionally joyful all of the time however, it is possible to always to have the joy of the Lord continuously. That is, the Holy Spirit dwells within a 'born again ' believer and provides a depth of peace and joy that doesn't necessarily show outwardly or seen in our behavior. It's deep within, even during times of depression. The joy is the knowledge of God's future promise of eternal life, our inheritance, and reassurance that our persecutors or enemies will face Yeshua on judgement and he will impart justice and punishment according to their evil deeds! It's the joy of knowing Yeshua is always with us no matter how weak we are during our troubles. We can rely on Him to deal with these difficulties, if we pray our requests to him, he eventually answers our prayers.
God has given us tools for difficult times - praise and prayer are just some of them. When you're really down it's difficult to praise but even if your heart groans out in simple words praise for the Almighty creator of all things in the universe, even if you give praise for the small things, even if your give praise for the things God has done and will do in the future, even if a few words of his greatness it is enough to be effective! Even if our emotional state does not concur with the words. Praise is an effective tool against the adversary and lifts our depressed soul, and thoughts, into a place of joy.
Praise lifts the believer's mood into heavenly places so that faith and joy may remain.
When you are born of the Spirit, the Spirit intercedes on your behalf so that you remain in the peace of God.
Those who are carnal believers i.e. not led by the Holy Spirit, would have difficulty remaining faithful and joyful during trials. Hence the reason for the true Gospel of Christ which is "You must be born again and walk in the Spirit!".
John 3:3 Born again, John 3:5 Born of water , John 3:8 Born of the Spirit, Mark 1:8 but he(Christ) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.