Bible Study

Chapter 10 Discussion Continued

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:50 AM by Lynn Squire

Even though the Blacks  lost their farm, did God provide for them?

The answer to this question depends on where the Blacks chose to focus their heart's desires. The answer you give to such a question reveals your values, your views, and from where your strength comes.

The road to recovery after tragedy reveals the truth about your heart’s desire. Will you have the faith to overcome?

I want to tell you about two women and what hardships revealed about their hearts.

The first woman battled cancer for two years. After having numerous surgeries and spending the early part of this year enduring a bone marrow transplant, the doctor informs her that she still has cancer. Her first reaction is, "I'm so tired. I'm so very tired." After digesting the news, and knowing that she will some how have to tell her children, she professes that God is good and praises God, exalting His name. Her love for her Saviour is strong and her faith solid. Her focus is on God, not on her present or future condition.

The second woman has a daughter with a chronic condition. Most days her daughter is tired, sometimes has trouble breathing, and often has pain.  The daughter copes by serving God and others, but this second woman worries. She focuses on what might happen, letting her imagination take her down all sorts of scary roads. She tries to tell her daughter to slow down, to take care of herself, stop trying to serve God and others. She says, "If you wouldn't stand up for the cause of Christ, if you would stop being a part of every event at church or trying to witness to every person, you wouldn't experience the stress that weakens you."

This second woman has fooled herself into believing that human comforts and pleasure are signs that a person is living right before the Lord. What she fails to understand is that a Christian's life is not his own. She can't  grasp the depth of meaning in Paul's words, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ  may rest upon me. Therefore  I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." II Corinthians 12:9b-10.

Today, I want to take you to Psalm 18, a psalm written by David after the Lord delivered him from the hand of Saul.

David's life had more pits then cherries. His brothers mocked him. His king, the one he faithfully served, sought to kill him. He spends years on the run. He lives amongst Israel's enemies. While he attempts to do good, all that belongs to him is taken away. But David isn't focused on what he lost. He's not focused on what he could have had, or how he could make himself more comfortable, or how he could have more pleasure. His focus is on pleasing God.

v. 1 "I will love thee, O LORD, my strength."  He determines to love God. He knows God is his strength.

When we endure a long time of testing, what we truly love is revealed. In my example at the beginning, the first woman endured and you see who she loves by who she praises. The second woman, enduring the sorrow of watching a daughter suffer, reveals what she loves when she tries to tell her daughter to stop serving God. She loves her daughter, yes, but in the context of what she thinks will make her daughter happy. She believes that rest and comfort and pleasure and "good-living" will be satisfying to her child. This demonstrates that she finds these things more satisfying than loving and serving God.

Let's take some time now to see what the Lord is to us.

Read Psalm 18:2.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

What does David say God is to him?

  • his rock
  • his fortress - a place of security, a place of defense
  • his deliverer
  • his God
  • his strength
  • the one in whom he trusts
  • his buckler (or shield)
  • the horn of his salvation (Note, the horn in the Old Testament was often used as a symbol of strength and power, such as a bull's horns are used to fight with another bull and demonstrates his strength and power. We can see, therefore that God is our strength and power in our salvation, we cannot save ourselves, but God can save us.)
  • his high tower - a place of security where you can see the enemy coming. When we know God's word, we know the eminent dangers we face and we know how to defend ourselves.

Read Psalm 18:4-5.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

David tells us the depths of what he is experiencing:

  • sorrows of death compassed me
  • floods of ungodly men made me afraid
  • sorrows of hell compassed me about
  • the snares of death prevented me

 To say the least, David has been in a bit of a pickle, and in his distress (v. 6) he calls upon the Lord.

God's response, as David describes it, is powerful.

verse 7-9:

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

Now,  when we read I Samuel, we don't get this same picture. We don’t see God with smoke coming out of his nostrils and fire from his mouth. These are metaphors that paint for us a picture of how God reacts in response to our cries.

Let's slip over to Daniel 10:11-12 to look at another great man of God.

This chapter is about a vision Daniel has; an event that is so terrifying the men who were with him fled and hid (see verse 7). By the way, this vision also clues us into the presence of a spiritual warfare.

"And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved,understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.

 "Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself  before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words."

What three things does God point out that Daniel needs to understand?

  • Daniel was a man greatly beloved - in other words, God found him to be desirable, someone who gave God pleasure
  • That God desired for Daniel to understand God's word
  • That because Daniel set his heart to understand God and chastened (humbled) himself before God, God is bringing  him this message.

The message God had for Daniel was fearsome. But God made a point of ensuring Daniel had the strength to hear it in verses 18 and 19.

Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me,

 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

Does God provide for us even when the outlook is grim? Yes.

He provides exactly what we need...but we must be willing to see it. We must desire, as Daniel did, to set our hearts on understanding God--not our situation--and humble ourselves before God.

Did God provide for the Blacks? Yes.

What did He provide?

  • Shelter (the soddy)
  • Friends
  • Each other
  • The love of God
  • Strength, if they sought it
  • Peace, if they sought it

I ask you, which of the two women I described at the beginning describes you?

Have you, like the first woman, chosen to praise God even when she couldn't understand why?  Or are you like the second woman, not willing to see that infirmities and suffering can be a place where you see the mighty hand of God and find great pleasure and joy, and instead choosing to see only the hardships that may come?

Are you like Daniel and have your mind set to understand God and to humble yourself before Him? Or will you be like the men that deserted him when the vision came, unable to see and hear from God?



Chapter 10 Discussion Questions

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:41 AM by Lynn Squire

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Revelations 2:7

Over and over again in Revelations 2 and 3, we read the words “him that overcometh”. The churches named in those chapters experienced hardships, pressures from cults, pressures from a life of ease, pressures to succumb to a false faith.Yet, John was told to write to these churches and tell them that those who overcame would be blessed, would not be hurt in the second death.

In Revelations 12:10-11, we are told how the brethren overcame Satan and his attacks on them, v11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death.”

Have you overcome by the blood of the Lamb?

Hebrews 9:22 tells us “…without shedding of blood is no remission.” The shed blood of Christ covers our sins…that which separates us from God.

When we repent, believe, and confess our faith, we overcome.

So tragedy strikes. Now we face the truth of our faith. Did we really believe, or did we just say words in order to make someone else happy? Did we really believe, or did we just want fire insurance?

If we truly placed our faith in the shed blood of the Lamb,we already have the victory. No tragedy, no trial, no disaster will keep us from Him. We prove that faith in how we live through those times. We prove that faith by showing what we lost in our trials is not what where our hearts are, but that we love God more.

Trials put us in the position of proving us. Judges 2:21-22 says, “I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.”

What will your trials say about your faith in Christ? Is it real?


Chapter 9 Discussion Continued

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:35 AM by Lynn Squire

God's mercy is extended to us in two ways: in salvation, and in pity and compassion for our affliction. 

We'll be looking at God's mercy to us in our affliction.

Throughout Scripture we see God having mercy on those who fear Him, who trust in Him, and who hope in Him.

"For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him." Psalm 103:11

"Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about." Psalm 32:10

"Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee." Psalm 33:22

Is God without mercy to some?

"...keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments..." Deut. 7:9

"...Thou has shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee..." I Kings 3:6

God's mercy is accessible to all who seek Him, to all who look to Him for it, to all who believe He will provide.

"I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.' Psalm 77:1

What did Asaph do? Cried unto God.

"In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted." Psalm 77:2

What did he do in verse 2? Sought God in his day of trouble, BUT his soul refused to be comforted.

How did he deal with his soul that refused to be comforted?

"I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. " Psalm 77:3

He remembered God, BUT he complained.

How did his spirit feel in verse 3? overwhelmed.

"Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times." Psalm 77:4-5

Can you see the battle he was facing? Sometimes when we are 'in the day of our trouble' we feel that we can't be comforted, we feel overwhelmed, we can't find words to express our feelings.

Note each verse: "I sought the Lord" "my soul refused to be comforted." v2

"I remembered God," "my spirit was overwhelmed." v3

"I have considered the days of old" v5

Now we see him gaining victory.

"I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah." Psalm 77:6-9

"I call to remembrance my song"

"I commune with mine own heart and my spirit made diligent search"

"Will the Lord cast off for ever?" 

"Is his mercy clean gone for ever?"

"Hath God forgotten to be gracious?"

I have prayed these words to God several times in my life.

I tend to be a 'fighter'. I'm like that bull dog that latches onto the bull's snout and won't let go. I've often felt sometimes God has to thunk me on the head to get my attention--that He has to knock the stuffing out of me before I'm ready to listen and learn.

It's not until I start crying out like this psalmist, that I am finally on the road to right thinking, to surrendering to God's way and not my way.

I've learned that there are plenty of things I pray for and desire, but only what is really important gets answered to true satisfaction. Not that God hasn't blessed me. I am very blessed. But that often I pray without knowledge, without understanding, and it isn't until I've lived past my prayers, and God's no or wait, that I can understand why.

v10 "This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all they work, and talk of thy doings."

v13 "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?"

We have to push through the discouragement, the sorrow, the refusing to be comforted, the questioning of God. Each step requires us focusing on God.

"I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me."

"In the day of trouble I sought the Lord:"

"I remembered God"

"Thou holderst mine eyes waking"

While this last statement shows his trouble, it also shows that he acknowledges God will show him something. He might not even be aware at this moment that he's looking for "God's hand," as we would say.

"I have considered the days of old"

"I call to remembrance my song"

"I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High."

Keep pushing back the thoughts of despair. Keep humbling yourself. Learn to be satisfied with the answers you receive today and continue to hope in the Lord.

Let's call out the mercies of God. How has He shown you mercy this week? this day? this year? 


Chapter 9 Discussion

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:32 AM by Lynn Squire

In the storms of your life, are you hoping for God’s mercy?

Psalm 33:18-19 says:

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.”

Are you seeking God as a treasure hunter seeks the greatest treasure? If you are, you’ll find Him.

Many seek comfort. Many seek favors. Many believe that if they decide to become a Christian they will find these. Those who come to Christ seeking comfort will find it. 

However, many who think God can be manipulated to provide for their wants will be disappointed. These, like the wheat that sprang forth without root, will wither and die.

What do you fear more? The loss of your comforts? The loss of man’s praise? Or God?

 “Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him,upon them that hope in His mercy;”

If you claim to be a Christian, are you placing your hope in His mercy? To do that you first have to acknowledge that you need His mercy. Do you? Do you understand your spiritual state?

A trial comes your way. You think, "God, Why are you doing this?" 

You do not receive an answer.

Do you give up on Him? Or do you put your hope on His mercy and acknowledge that He promises to keep you alive, even in famine, for example. That doesn’t mean that He keeps you from being touched by it.

“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

How we approach our troubles reflects our trust in the Lord. It reflects our faith. When we are faced with disaster and yet we praise God and seek His provision, seeking for His hand in the storm, we will find it.

We can wait for Him. He will help us…are you willing to trust Him?

“For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.” Psalm 33:21

How do you rejoice in trials?

  1. Pass the trials to Him. Tell God about it.
  2. Ask Him to supply His comfort through the Comforter.
  3. Remember the eternal salvation He brought you through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  4. Remember His great mercies. We see His mercy when we acknowledge we don't get what we deserved.
  5. Recall His many promises He's given us in Scripture and meditate on them.
  6. Sing to Him. Sing songs of praise. Sing songs that focus on what He has done for you, not what you do for Him or on how hard life is.
  7. Rehearse to others every little blessing God has given you, from the food you've received to the miracles He's performed. 

“Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Psalm 33:22 


Chapter 8 Discussion Continued

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:22 AM by Lynn Squire

Buck Up: Don’t Let Your Troubles Get You Down

 

A favorite saying of my family is, “Buck up.” In other words, don’t let your trial get you down. Did you know that God tells us a similar thing In I Peter 1:13?

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

In the first century, a person prepared for a run by ‘girding up his loins’. This meant eliminating anything, particularly garments like a tunic that would cause him to stumble. To gird up our minds, therefore, is to keep yourself from thinking about anything that might interfere with your progress or cause you to stumble in your walk.

In Job 38:3, God says “Gird up now thy loins like a man;…” In other words, buck up buddy. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Does seem harsh, doesn’t it? Especially if you’re wallowing in self-pity that you claim is the natural grieving process.

Dwelling on our hardships keeps us from moving forward in victory. We have a hope. Let us focus on it.

We need to redirect our thoughts. When I consider God’s response to Job, God listed His superior abilities over man. He pointed to creation. In my life, I have found a hike up a mountain, or a horseback ride across the prairies, or gazing at the night sky especially therapeutic. In these places, a way from man’s inventions, I can see God in His handiwork. And in seeing Him, I am reminded of His majesty and greatness. This becomes the perfect environment for lifting up my hands and praising God.

When we gird up our minds and praise and worship God, even as Job did in Job 1:20-22, we can find God. Psalm 22:3 says:

“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel.”

 When Judah, under Jehoshaphat’s rule, heard that a great multitude was coming against them, Jehoshaphat appointed singers to praise God when they faced their enemies. II Chronicles 20:21-22  says:

“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth forever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Mob, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”

We can face our trials by girding up the loins of our minds and turning our thoughts to praising God even in our darkest hours. He will inhabit our praise, revive our spirit, and give us the victory.


Chapter 8 Discussion

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:17 AM by Lynn Squire

In this chapter, fire breaks out and the Blacks lose their house and their barn.

Based on the evidence of your circumstances, have you ever felt God hated you?

 When God appears distant through our trials, we still have a duty to worship, trust, and obey Him, and while we do, we can rest in the promises He made to us.

Turn to Psalm 13: 1-4 and follow me. David experienced a lot of hardship in his life. Can you picture him composing this Psalm while looking over the hills and feeling heaviness in his heart? Perhaps he is worn out.Perhaps he feels the pain of separation from family and friends.

 I picture him kneeling before God, perhaps tears pouring down hisface.

(v.1) “How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?”

Maybe he beats his chest.

(v.2a) “How longshall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?”

Now perhaps he leans forward, face to the ground.

(v. 2b) “how longshall mine enemy be exalted over me?”

He takes a deep breath and lifts his face tothe heavens.

(v.3) “Considerand hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;”

His mind whirling with the horrible possibilities his future holds, he quietly whispers:  

(v.4a) “Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him;”

I picture his mind working overtime. Maybe he is reviewing what has happened, including Samuel anointing him and Saul hating him, and whispers in a faltering voice:

(v. 4b) “and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.”

What is David’s state of mind in this passage? He is troubled, sorrowful, perhaps feeling defeated.

Let’s look at Psalm 13:5-6. I picture David sitting up at this point. He’s made a choice to continue to believe God’s promises.

(v.5a) “But I have trusted in thy mercy;”

He stands.

(v. 5b) “my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.”

He starts bouncing on his toes.

(v. 6a) “I will sing unto the LORD,”

He lifts his hands. His face is glowing.

(v. 6b) “because he hath dealt bountifully with me.”

What does David do to overcome his troubled heart?

  • Reminds himself that he trusts God’s mercy;
  • Tells himself to rejoice in God’s salvation;
  • Sings to the Lord;
  • Counts his blessings (“he hath dealt bountifully with me”).

Do you see the progression?

Where is David’s focus at the beginning of the Psalm? On his troubles.

Where is David’s focus at the end of the Psalm? On God and what God has given him, in particular, his salvation.

He progresses from being troubled to focusing his mind on God’s mercy, to rejoicing in his salvation, to singing to the Lord because of the great blessings he received from the Lord.

What does this show us we can do when we have hit rock bottom, when our sorrow and afflictions overwhelm us?

We need to turn our thinking away from our troubles. We need to remember:

  • What we believe;
  • Who we trust in;
  • Where our salvation lies;
  • How many blessings God has already provided for us.

Sarah and Joab are in the middle of fighting of destruction (read p. 33, Joab’s Fire). At this moment they don’t have time to think only react to the situation, but when the fire is stopped, they will dwell on it, mourn, and fear the future.

We feel the greatest sorrow and despair after the emergency is over and we have time to dwell on what happened. At that time, we have faith choices to make.

Therefore where is our greatest battle fought? In our minds.

Read II Corinthians 10:4-5.

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

When we looked at Job 2 and 3 last week we saw Job battling with his thoughts.

What did we see was different in how he handled his second trial from his first? He didn’t humble himself and worship God. He let the fears of the world overtake his fear of God.

The battle we fight in our minds is difficult, but if we are saved, we do not fight alone. We have the Holy Spirit in us, enabling us to overcome.

Read Acts 23:11.

And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

When Paul went through his trial in Jerusalem, I’m sure he was exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.

What did the Lord do for him?

  • Stood by him;
  • Encouraged him;
  • Reminded him of God’s plan.

This is no different than for us.

  • God has given us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. There have been times when the presence of the Holy Spirit has been so powerful, so comforting in my life that joy filled my heart even when the world would say I should have none.
  • God has given us His Word. We can read it and remind ourselves of who God is and of His promises for us.

God has a plan for us.

  • He plans to use us for His glory. Read Isaiah 49:3.

“And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

Israel had disobeyed God and was exiled, but God would be glorified, even in the midst of their trial.

  • He will not forget us. Read Isaiah 49:15.

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

 

  • He will give us peace and an expected end. Read Jeremiah 29:11.

 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

  •  He desires to give us eternal life with Him. Read John 10:28.

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

 Can you think of any other promises God has made to us?


Chapter 7 Discussion

posted Nov 3, 2011, 9:08 AM by Lynn Squire

How would you finish this sentence? My greatest fear is…

  • Losing my home;
  • Losing my family;
  • Letting down someone I love;
  • Failing in my career;
  • Losing my ability to work or care for my family;
  • Losing my health.
  • the future. 

In this chapter, Dixon goes out to chop would and argue that given the evidence, God was not a caring God. His past trials, the loss of his mother, caused him to reject God, and so he will continue to do so—but there is an underlying fear that he is attempting to rebuff. He won't admit it to himself and probably isn't even cognitive of it at this time.

Though we cannot prevent bad things from happening to us, we should not live in fear that they will. If we do, we are opening ourselves up to even greater heartache.

Read Job 1:1.

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.  

Who did Job fear? God.

Job conducted his life out of a great reverence for God, which was reflected in a strong sense of right and wrong.That reverence, or fear, of God kept him emotionally and spiritually safe.

Read Job 1:9-11.

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

What did Satan think of Job, particularly with respect to his religion? Satan believed if Job lost everything he would curse God. In essence, Satan believed that Job loved God only because God blessed him.

God allows Satan to strike at Job.

Job loses his family and all his possession.

Read Job 1:20-22.

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

How did Job respond to his losses?

  • He arose
  • He rent his mantle
  • He shaved his head
  • He fell down upon the ground
  • He worshipped
  • He blessed God
  • He never sinned
  • He did not charge God foolishly.

In essence, four simple things: humbled himself, worshiped God, blessed God, & didn’t sin. Remarkable faith displayed by him.

Satan had lost that battle, but he’s up for another round.

Read Job 2:4-5.

And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Satan stood corrected. Job didn’t sin when he lost everything, but what does Satan think now will cause Job to curse God? If Job suffered physically. Satan doesn’t believe Job has the faith to overcome this.

So God allows Satan again to smite Job. Job’s wife even tempts him to curse God and die.

Read Job 2:10.

But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

How did Job respond?

  • Said his wife was speaking as a foolish woman; i.e. rebukes his wife for her lack of faith;
  • “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”
  • He did not sin with his lips.

This was at the beginning of his second trial. He had many more nights to endure the pain, and more emotional trauma to experience. For seven days and seven nights Job suffers in silence.

Read Job 3:3-11.

Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months. Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day: Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes. Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

What did Job desire? That he would not have been born, and he wished to be dead.

Read Job 3:25-26.

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.

What did Job now fear?

  • A hopeless future
  • Pain and sorrow

Compare how Job responded to the calamity in chapter one with how he responded in chapter 2. What do you see that is different?

Read Job 1:20-22 again.

Read Job 2:8-10.

And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

  • Job didn’t humble himself as he did in chapter one.
  • He didn’t worship.
  • He didn’t bless God.

At least, we are not shown this.

I put to you that his fear changed. Who did he fear in Job 1:1? God.

What did he fear in Job 3:25? Pain, suffering, and an uncertain future (a life without hope).

His fear shifted from God to his present situation, demonstrating that he reached the limit of his faith.

Jesus in Matthew 5-7 tells us how we, as people of faith, are to face life.

Read Matthew 6:19-21.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Where are we to lay up treasure?

Job 1:3 tells us “this man was greatest of all the men of the east.” Job was a very prosperous man. He had treasure on earth by the world’s standards, but because he feared God, his heart was not on that treasure, but on his treasure in heaven.

Read Matthew 6:24.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Can we serve both money and God? No. When someone loses everything, and then turns from God what was the person really serving? The things of this world.

Read Matthew 6:25-34.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

In Job’s second trial, he lost his focus (as I’m sure all of us would given the circumstances). He turned to the fears of this life instead of fearing God. He couldn’t see the future.

But God could.

Job didn’t bless and worship God, so he lost his focus and the circle of human fears drew in around him.

He didn’t humble himself so he couldn’t worship, and therefore could not withstand the part of human nature that fears uncertainty.

So what does this tell us about how we can cope in times of trials?

  1. Keep fearing God and not the things of this world, or people, or circumstance, or future troubles.
  2. Humble ourselves.
  3. Worship God.
  4. Bless God.
  5. Do not sin or charge God foolishly.

Don’t get sidetracked by your natural fears. Remember God is good. He will carry you through, just keep trusting Him.

Dixon, in Joab's Fire, doesn't have the faith to trust God. He's going to endure some great mental anguish before he comes to accept that faith as the only way to face an uncertain future.

Can you look at your life and see how God has taken you through a trial and how you have come out stronger in the end? That takes faith. Not everyone makes it through trials. Sometimes we come through trials and end up scarred. That’s probably a pretty good indication you’re still dealing with that trial, that there is some area God wants you to surrender to Him. Maybe you need to forgive someone. Maybe you need to fear Him more than what you are currently fearing as a result of that trial. Maybe you need to ask someone for forgiveness. Ask God to show you. Seek the answer. Knock until He opens the door of understanding. And don’t lay off worshiping Him…ever.


Chapter 6 Discussion Continued

posted Nov 3, 2011, 8:58 AM by Lynn Squire

Text Box

Perhaps one of the greatest tests of a person’s faith is the destruction of everything one owns. If your possessions are your god, then you will hate who or what destroyed them. If the Creator is your God, then you can rejoice in the testing of your faith and wait to see what miracles God will perform. 

Walking through a town that has been devastated by a tornado gives you a heavy, surreal feeling. Houses you knew well no longer exist. Trees uprooted. Landmarks disappeared. You are both in awe of the power of the storm and troubled by its destruction. For the first few moments you wander in shock, then like a slow press, the magnitude of your loss bears down on you. You don’t know where to begin to rebuild…you might even question whether there is any reason to rebuild.

Slowly you pick up a board or a piece of paper and look around, wondering where to put it. A picture caught between two pieces of wall flickers in the wind. An old picture of your grandfather’s home that had once been destroyed, just like yours. It kindles a hope. Perhaps, with hard work, not all is lost. After all, you are alive.

In our darkest hour, God does not abandon us. He’s there, waiting, and if we are listening, we’ll hear Him encouraging us to trust Him just a little more. He’ll help us through.

James 1:2-4 says:

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Each time we experience a trial our faith in God is tested, as though He is stretching us, helping us see that we can wait a little longer for Him. Just trust Him and persevere.

Perhaps we will not see in our life on earth the blessings that Job experienced after his trial, but we can know that when the new heaven and new earth comes, we’ll know even greater blessings than he had.

Dear Lord, give us the strength and courage to persevere. Help us to wait on You to rebuild our lives as You see fit. I pray this, in Jesus name, AMEN.


Chapter 6 Discussion

posted Nov 3, 2011, 8:49 AM by Lynn Squire   [ updated Nov 3, 2011, 8:49 AM ]

The Blacks and Sergeant Dixon are racing home ahead of a violent storm. They make it to the barn just as the storm unleashes its fury. But something strange is going on. The animals, which the Blacks put away before leaving for town were not in the barn nor were the chickens in the chicken coop. When the storm is over, they leave the barn and find the animals have been killed by the hailstorm.

We never know when our livelihood will be wiped out. No one could have predicted the tsunami in Japan; no one could have stopped the flooding of the Mississippi and other rivers or the tornado that destroyed Joplin, Missouri, or the fires in Arizona, Texas, and other places. Yet all these tragedies are limited to our time on earth and the sorrow we experience is tied to the losses we experience in this life.

Our perspective tends to be limited to this present life, but God’s perspective encompasses all of eternity.

When Sarah reacted to the death of her animals, do you think she was viewing her present future or her eternal future?

  • Present future

At the instant tragedy strikes our lives, what do we tend to focus on?

  • The event
  • Finding help
  • Surviving

Where should we turn our focus? To God.

We tend to limit our vision in terms of the present and only stretch it to include our life on earth. God sees all eternity. Let’s take a look at evidence of God’s eternal perspective in Scripture.

When God spoke with Abram about his children, He revealed His plan for the Egyptians and the Amorites. Read Genesis 15:13–16.

And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

The land that Abram’s seed (his family) would be a stranger in was Egypt. What did God know at this time would happen in Egypt based on this passage?

  • The Israelites would serve the Egyptians
  • The Egyptians would afflict them for 400 years
  • God would judge Egypt
  • The Israelites would come out of Egypt with great substance

Abram wouldn’t be alive when this happens, but he believed what God said. When the time came, the events occurred exactly as God said.

Read John 14:1-3:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

What does God promise us of our future if we believe? A place with Him in Heaven.

Yes, the Israelites would suffer at the hands of the Egyptians, but in the end God would be glorified and they would have their promised land.

We must not only grasp but embrace that we are here to bring God glory. If it is through affliction, so be it. It isn’t about us. It is about God. And if we think even the very least that it ought to be about us then we’ve got it all wrong.

Does that mean God doesn’t care for us, doesn’t want to bless us?

  • Absolutely not. He created us. He loves us enough even to suffer and die for us, but if we think for even one moment that we have a right to the good things of this earth then we have stepped out of line and we will not react in a manner that is glorifying to God—thereby messing up the very purpose of our lives.
  • Of course He wants to bless us. Sometimes the best blessings come after a period of suffering.

What blessings has God given you?

Let’s look at the Amorites now.  Genesis 15:16 says:

But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

Throughout Scripture we find God patiently waiting to pass judgment on people. Before that judgment comes, He gives them a warning. Can you think of examples of this?

  • Pharaoh before he releases Israel – plague after plague he refused, even though God told him through Moses and Aaron what to do.
  • The giving of the law to Israel – God had laid out how He wanted them to live, still they disobeyed and the curses God said would happen happened.
  • King Saul was given clear instructions by Samuel, still he disobeyed and the kingdom was taken from him.
  • God had Jonah tell Nineveh what would happen.
  • Nebuchadnezzar was given dreams and Daniel to interpret those dreams.

God knows how people will respond to these warnings, who will heed and who will not, because He sees all of eternity.

Did He still warn those who chose not to heed? Yes.

God could have wiped out the Amorites and settled Abram in their land, but God showed the Amorites mercy, until their iniquity was full.

Even when the Israelites came out of Egypt, word spread of what God had done for the Israelites, opportunity was given for the individual to humble himself before God.

For example, consider when Joshua sent the two men to spy the land and Jericho. These men came to Rahab’s house. Rahab hid them and helped them escape. She also asked them to protect her, but she also makes a confession of faith.

Read Joshua 2:9-11.

And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

How did Rahab respond to the judgment she knew was coming? She acknowledged who God was.

Did God save her? Yes

Rahab is an example of God’s mercy to the individual who believes even when His judgment falls on a nation.

Isaiah 40:28 describes God as an everlasting God. God also knows man’s heart (Psalm 44:21). When troubles come our way, we would be wise not to view them in terms of this life on earth, but in terms of eternity and under the realm of a holy, everlasting, all-knowing, just God.

How can we prepare ourselves for the trouble that will come our way?

  • Have a right relationship with God. Keep Him the center of your life moment by moment. Don’t let one moment pass where you let your affection turn to the things of this world. Are our possessions evil? No. But if we let them get in the way of our relationship with God we need to push them aside so that our line of vision is directly on the Lord.
  • Continue in prayer and praise moment by moment. How do you do this when you must work? Consider the yoyo. It goes up and down the string, but as long as its energy is coming from the hand, it returns to the hand. Let your energy, the well-spring of  your life, come from God so that while you might be at the end of the string when you’re working, your thoughts immediately spring back to Him when you pause from your work. So, when tragedy strikes, you roll right up the string into the Father’s hand.

When you keep that connection with God, like the string that connects the yoyo to its master’s hand, we can keep that eternal perspective and resist the temptation to let our present situation stop our ‘roll’.


Chapter 5 Discussions Continued

posted Nov 3, 2011, 8:41 AM by Lynn Squire

Sometimes we judge God by what we perceive as right and just, but we can’t see the whole picture. In fact, often we only see what we choose to see. Instead of keeping our focus on God, we seek security in our lives through things like electronic fortresses and investments. Desiring security isn’t sinful, but when losing these physical securities causes us to question God, we need to consider the place they have taken in our lives. Are we worshiping risk-free living?

Consider the Apostle Paul in Acts 21. He was warned not to go to Jerusalem. He was told by the Holy Ghost through the prophet Agabus that he would be bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. Anyway you look at it, Paul’s trip to Jerusalem seemed foolhardy. Why did he do it?

Read Acts 21:13.

“…for I m ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul didn’t consider his safety. He considered his Lord. He considered those who needed to hear the Gospel message.

To be diligent in keeping ourselves and our families safe is not a sin. We should do that. When we are warned of a bad storm, we should take cover. However, times may come when we may be asked to sacrifice our security for the eternal well-being of others.

We should examine our motives moment by moment. Are we living for ourselves or for the Lord? Are we willing to move out of our comfort zone in order to serve our God? Does our response to the storms of life show unbelievers the depth of our faith and trust in God?

God does not desert us in trials. When Paul suffered the bonds that he’d been warned he would face, he was comforted. Acts 23:11 tells us:

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

Dear Lord, thank You that You promise to never leave us nor forsake us. Thank You for giving us examples in Your Word of Your comfort and provision. Lord, give us the courage to face what will come our way and to continue to bear witness of the salvation You have provided for everyone. In Jesus Name, amen.

 

1-10 of 19