Starting out with a great apology, I had fully intended to work through this segment last week. I know that some of you are following along with your own copy of Lord, Is It Warfare? and your journal and you have been reading some of my thoughts in addition to what you are doing. I apologize for not getting on with this last week but I had some time pressures that sort of knocked me off of my routine. The next thing that I thought about doing was moving on to the next week in this series but there were some things in Week 3 that I felt like would be important and I did not want to omit them from the series. I will certainly do my best to get back on track in the next few days.
Beginning with Week 3, Day 4 there are a lot of recommendations concerning working through your Bible with a fair amount of passages. As I worked through some of those passages, I was troubled by them and that is the reason that I did not just skip to Week 4 because I wanted to address my own troubles in a Scriptural and honest way in the way that we often view God. Job 2 has a tendency to rattle some of our Americanized ideas about the identity of God and how He may operate in our lives. Again what follows are the exact notes that I have in my own personal journal.
-I am troubled by one reference in Job 2. In Job 2:3 the Bible notes that God said the devil invited him to do evil against Job. I want to give you this passage in several references:
Job 2:3 KJV And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
Job 2:3 ESV And the LORD said to Satan, "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? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason."
Job 2:3 NASB The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause."
Job 2:3 YLT And Jehovah saith unto the Adversary, `Hast thou set thy heart unto My servant Job because there is none like him in the land, a man perfect and upright, fearing God and turning aside from evil? and still he is keeping hold on his integrity, and thou dost move Me against him to swallow him up for nought!'
-2:6>>>The Lord said to Satan, behold, he is in your power. . . This is a similar reference to what the Lord said to Peter about the devil desiring to sift him as wheat (Luke 22:31-32). There are times when we face the very darkness of a devilish attack. We are in a constant battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Recently I believe the Lord has given me some insight, at least it has been for me personally, about the battles that go on with these three fronts. Mid-life has its positives and its negatives. One of the positives is the ability to look back over the back-trail you have traveled. I had always heard it told to me that our three spiritual challenges were those previously mentioned. How can we know what front these battles are taking place on? This is where the Lord added some insight to me. When I was in high school, I felt the incredible peer pressure to conform and to get involved in areas that I knew were not right, in fact they were sinful! However, I never drifted from my principles, not because of my own mature spiritual life but because of the protective boundaries that had been set up around me by my parents and my pastor (who has been my father-in-law for almost 28 years now). When people mock holiness standards in our day, it is because they have never discovered the power of their future potential. The Lord instructed me that these were times the world was on the attack. After high school it was on to a secular college for RN school and after that I fully intended on anesthesia school but was re-routed to a Bible college and after that a seminary. During my college days, I felt more peer pressure but it was not as strong as that in high school because the Lord was maturing my faith. But the world was on the attack.
The next area of instructive insight from the Lord was in the area of the flesh. I know that when we think of the attacks of the flesh that our minds immediate gravitate toward those baser appetites that would destroy our witness and while there is some merit to that, this is not all of the areas that the flesh attacks us. To be proud, to have unbridled ambition, to have the desire to be rich, to have the hunger to be noticed and elevated, to be willing to leave a trail of bodies in your wake without a twinge of conscience to reach a goal, to be an absent father, an abusive husband, and a powerful preacher are only a few of the areas that flesh attempts to get the upper hand. Although this series of blog posts are on spiritual warfare, I confess to you right now that my biggest battlefield has not been one where the world and the devil were involved but it has been the fight with the man in the mirror.
The last area is the one that we often like to go to most. We want to blame things on the devil at the expense of personal responsibility. We can blame things on the devil when we are prayerless, devotion-less, Cross-less, and so forth. But the Lord also gave me some insight on the attack of the devil. There are have been four distinct times in my life when I knew for certain I was under the attack of the devil. All of these attacks came to me out of nowhere. There were totally unexpected but there was a spiritual darkness that overtook me that sapped my spiritual reserves and I felt like a spiritual dead man walking. These situations took place over extended periods of time and there weren’t any quick solutions to them except to walk out the responsibilities of my calling not in the inspiration of my calling. The parable in Matthew 13 comes to mind where the enemy sowed the tares while the workers were asleep. They were not asleep out of laziness, sloth, but from exhaustion of the labor to work the kingdom. Wherever you are right now, you may be in the fight of your life and spiritual darkness may have choked off every bit of the inspiration and anointing that you feel, my brother. . . my sister. . . stay in the fight! The turn comes at the harvest! If you can just make it to the harvest all will be well with your soul! I would also testify to the fact that on the other side of the harvest, there is great joy, victory, and accomplishment but you cannot quit!
Now back to my blogging. . . .
-Job 2:7>>>Some of the power of the devil is to smite men with sickness. Now it is very, very important not to go too far with this idea because just because we get sick does not mean it is from the devil or because we have sinned or because we have a lack of faith. Some sickness comes to us because we are human beings with bodies that were never meant to last forever.
-This appears to be an exceptional case with Job because there are no other places in Scripture that bears out this kind of thing. There was a battle going on between God and the devil and Job was the pawn in the fight.
-There are more areas that we read of where that sin and a lack of repentance brought about some physical sickness and even death—cf. 1 Corinthians 5 & 11.
-There is also another factor to be taken into consideration which deals with the permissive will of God.
-In the 2:3 passage: the matter was purely a battle between God and the devil. Job happened to be at the center of it all. All of Job’s friends tried to put the blame on Job for all of the trials he had to endure but he was not to be blamed. He was a perfect and upright man who shunned evil. (NOTE: Be careful that you do not make rash judgments about matters and spiritual and physical calamities in the lives of others. It very well could be that they are involved in a similar situation that Job found himself in. Further, there are generally a few more details that I am often unaware of in dark trials.)
-Job is noted in a couple of other places in Scripture:
· Touted for his righteousness and is compared to Noah and Daniel which is some pretty good company to be in—Eze. 14:14-20
· Noted for his spiritual endurance in James 5:11.
-From Job’s experience, I can gather some helpful things in my own walk with the Lord:
· There is a battle in heaven, an invisible war, which I cannot see. I am very frequently unaware of it because of the hedges the Lord has around me.
· Most human reasoning often comes far short of God’s real purpose.
· Saints do suffer. Bad things do happen to God’s people. You will do great harm by judging someone’s spiritual walk by their painful circumstances. By the same token, don’t be fooled by the outward success and health of someone and believe it is the blessing of God. Neither of these are particularly good indicators as to God’s blessing or cursing.
· Even though God may seem a million miles away, faithfulness, integrity, commitment, prayer, devotion, and sacrifice are always noble goals of life to pursue when you are in the crashing thunder, sharp lightning, and drenching rain of the storm.
· Even though we may be tempted to throw in the towel, you will find that some of the sweetest fellowship prevails in our pain! By drawing near to the Lord, that fellowship can bring comfort.
· Suffering may be intense but all the storms will come to an end!
-From the reaction of Job’s wife, we can see that there are times when we may even be confronted by our closest loved ones about the matters of deepest spiritual suffering.
Thanks for reading. . .
More later. . .