Tuesday, June 23, 2015

You gotta serve someone

(Message Preached May 7th, 2006 at Grace Fellowship Church)
LISTEN Here: http://youtu.be/2zb5GPf_Enw

Thesis: To demonstrate the value of the law in the life of a person, before and after salvation, but without placing it before Grace.

Thanks for allowing me to share once again from God’s Word.  It seems strange to me, but I have a greater weight upon me each time I speak, yet each time I accept, because I feel it’s such an exciting privilege to be able to teach.  The gift of teaching comes with both a joy and a responsibility.  I guess the joy softens the responsibility.  

I want to start out by sharing about the Marathon training and the progress in our gifts to Apaxtla.  I have ran over 68 miles so far since Spring training began!  We have three $26.20 (a total of $78.60) gifts so far, and there is many months of training and giving to go. Julie & I are taking the family there in November during the Thanksgiving holiday.  It will be about 1 month after I make the big run.  We have been planning this trip for some time, and it seems right to do it then, so we can video tape the ministry and report back to the church family how our gifts have impacted God’s work in Mexico.  By the way, the gifts will not be used to pay for the trip!  God has provided for that separately.

One other item of note is respecting the Hike for Life, which is only 6 days away.  I believe that nearly everyone should have a part in this vital ministry to save babies.  Giving financially, hiking, or even volunteering to help out during the Hike itself, we can & are making a HUGE difference.  Years ago, when Julie & I began hiking, our pledges came largely from those within the body.  Today, I receive most of my gifts for the Hike from non-believers, and others.  What this tells me is that the tide is changing regarding Life!

This morning I want to speak on a topic which some of you may feel you know quite well.  And some of you will only have touched upon it lightly. I hope to be giving you a meaty, not a milky message.  Our text is Roman 6:15-23:


What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So what is this relationship between the Law and Grace?  Paul says that we are not under the Law.  Ok.  What does that mean?  I don’t have to follow the law?  What about the famous 10 commandments?  I’m not bound by “Thou shalt not Kill”? What?!  How could this be?  Yet that is what it seems that Paul is saying.  Look again at 15-16, What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  So how do I understand this?  .  We need to look at the context, and see if what Paul seems to be saying is what he IS saying.  I define the context by looking at the previous paragraph and chapter.  Does what I see there agree with what Paul has written elsewhere?  Does it agree with the rest of the New Testament writers?  Does it agree with Christ?  Does it agree with the related teachings in the Old Testament?  In short, I’d think twice about something that seems to contradict a great portion of Scripture.  Having said that, What does Paul say elsewhere?

Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

In Galatians we read: 2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

It seems clear from this that the Law won’t get us into heaven.  But does it have another purpose in our lives?  What is the weight and bearing of the law?  Is there a difference between the Christian and the non-believer with respect to the law?  I read a really neat explanation on the law and how it works in regard to salvation.  Three years ago I read Pilgrims Progress to Benjamin.  This year I began reading it to Christina.  Listen to this:

Then he led him into a very large parlor that was full of dust.  When they had observed it for a moment the Interpreter called for a man to sweep it.  When he began to sweep, the dust rose and filled the whole room so that Christian almost suffocated.  The Interpreter said to a maid who stood by, “Bring water and sprinkle the room,” which she did.  Then the dust settled and the maid swept the room clean.

Christian: What does this signify?

Interpreter:  This parlor is the heart of man that has never been sanctified and cleansed by the grace of God through the gospel.  The dust is his original sin and corruption that have defiled the whole man.  The man who began to sweep at first is the law. The maid who brought the water and finished the job is the gospel. The man, though working with all his might, could not clean the room; he only stirred up the dust and made it worse to live in.  This shows you that the law, by its working, instead of cleansing the heart from sin, only revives sin, causes sin to show it’s strength, and increase it’s activity in the soul.  Though it discovers and forbids sin, it does not give the life and power to subdue it. So man cannot of himself give up his sin, without first receiving divine life and help from above.  This is why the maid came, sprinkled the room with water, and cleaned it with all ease, to show you that when the gospel of Christ comes to the heart, with all it’s sweet and gracious influence, new life comes in, sin is subdued and vanquished, and the soul is made clean by simple faith in Christ.  Consequently, man is made fit for the habitation of the King of Glory.[1]

 
Isn’t that a great way to describe the work of the law in a person’s life?  The Law does not enable us to gain entrance to His throne room.  As a matter of fact, nothing we could do will give us this access.  We can’t earn it.  But we still have the question of how the law works in regard to a believer.  Is there a different action here?  Listen to this passage from Jeremiah: 31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”[2]

He says, “I will put my law within them and I will write it on their hearts”  This is the new covenant folks.  The law is still relevant, but it isn’t necessarily the Mosaic Law.  We might call this Moral law, or even the law of our conscious.  Listen to what Ezekiel says: And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”[3]   And also: 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[4]

So the Lord will cause us to walk in His statutes and be careful to obey His rules.  Is this legalism?  Legalism is simply the placing of rules, God’s 1st and then man’s rules, before the relationship.  You know what I heard from the Lord through Ezekiel?  I heard a compassionate God who is loving and interested in our relationship to Him.  What is the point of this talk of a heart of flesh replacing a heart of stone?  A stone is rigid, unable to change.  For God, that’d be just fine,  Since He never changes.  In fact, we call our God a Rock in many places in the Scripture.  Jesus is the chief cornerstone and the like.  But for man it would be disastrous.  We do get stubborn don’t we?  Imagine if we never were willing to reconsider the arguments?  If we all made up our minds and never were humble enough to consider that we could be wrong, there’d be some mighty poor decisions made.  Some could be lost forever! 


The earlier Ezekiel passage gives the reason that God is giving them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them.  Also, 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  It appears that we do have a duty to perform as believers.  Though the Mosaic law is not the question any longer, it looks to me that we do have work to do, though the work is not to gain favor with Him.  Rather, now that we have this heart of flesh, it is out of gratitude for the Lord, love for our God for the great things he has done for us that we are to work.  Theologian A. W.Pink says this, So far from law and grace being enemies, they are mutual handmaids: the former reveals the sinner's need, the latter supplies it; the one makes known God's requirements, the other enables us to meet them. Faith is not opposed to good works, but performs them in obedience to God out of love and gratitude.[5]

Just one other point of warning to those among us who may never have received the heart of flesh our God offers, listen again to Ezekiel, 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.  Isaiah says it like this, 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.[6]

Getting back to Romans, 6:16  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 

So there is a choice here to make, be a slave to sin or be a slave to obedience, but not obedience to the Mosaic Law exclusively, rather the good deeds the Spirit put in your hearts to do.  It’s easy to ignore Him isn’t it though.  Your just walking along minding your own business when bam!  Out of the blue He speaks.  “Not right now Lord! I was just getting to lunch.  If I do that I’ll miss lunch altogether! Ohh!“  It is that selfish attitude which pushes Him aside.  “I’m gonna do His ministry My way and if He doesn’t like it…”  Pretty soon you stop hearing him.  Bob Dylan says it like this, {Play Serve Somebody Clip}

It may be the Devil or it may be the Lord,  Slavery to sin leads to service for the Devil.  You have to choose.  Paul continues his discussion in vs. 17,  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  Did you notice one thing? Our slavery is absolute.  We are either slaves to sin and free from righteous living, or we are slaves to righteousness and free from sin.  In our country I believe we are learning one thing, due to the wars in recent years, Freedom is never Free.  And the same goes with regard to sin and righteousness.  Freedom from the penalty of sin does not mean freedom to commit sin. Freedom from the penalty for sin does not mean freedom from the consequences of sin.  Freedom & slavery are the opposites which tug at our lives.  Freedom from sin but slaves to righteousness, or Freedom from righteousness, yet slaves to sin. 

Looking at Philippians, we read, 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.[7]  Paul tells us that it is God who works in us for His good pleasure.  Paul says our work is a witness to be like lights in a dark world.  Then he describes his own experience in this matter.  He is willing to yield all to Christ for the sake of our faith.  Are you ready to pour your own life out as a sacrifice to the Lord?  In Romans 12 Paul says we are to be living sacrifices.  Though the idea of the sacrificial system and the altars and such is part of the statement, what he is saying is that we need to yield our lives to the Lord.  Give over your hearts to Him who saved you! 

Verse 19-20 For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Folks did your realize your sanctification was on the line?  Let me back up.  I hate it when someone tells me all about something, without defining it for me.  Sanctification is simply the state of becoming or being more separate for Him.  Another way of putting it would be becoming more Christ-like.  Being a more godly man or woman.  Present your members as slaves to righteousness.  Listen to how Christ explains it, “ John 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.[8]  Who among us really hates his own life?  What does that mean anyway?  It means to despise the things of the world enough that we don’t value or esteem them.  

Is Christ and his ministries tugging at your heart?  Are you wiling to listen and act on His call?  Or do you love all this world has to offer more than Him.  Does serving the Lord seem inconvenient?  Perhaps it won’t seem so if I read another passage, 12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. [9]

21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  What fruit were you getting?  The fruit of sin is ultimately death.  The result of the fruit of slavery to God leads to sanctification, there’s that word again.  We become more godly people when we yield to Him in our life.  And did you note the wages of Sin?  How about the fact that we don’t get wages for our slavery to God.  But we do get eternal life nevertheless!

I’d like to read just a couple more passages:

Gal 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.[10]   This is how it’s done folks.  We give up our life.  Yield our wants, our desires, even the smallest ones.  Give them all to Jesus.  Let Him be your guide. 

Finally, Joshua had this challenge: Josh24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.[11]

There are many ways to serve the Lord.  The Hike for Life next Saturday is one example.  Setting aside our plans for those of the Lord’s.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Let’s Pray.



[1] Bunyan, John. Pilgrims Progress In Today’s English: 1964 . Chicago: Moody Publishers.
[2]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jer. 31:31). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[3]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Eze 11:18). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[4]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Eze 36:23). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[5] Pink, Arthur W.. The Authur Pink Anthology
[6]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Is 64:6). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[7]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Php 2:12). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[8]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 12:20). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[9]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 13:12). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[10]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ga 2:15). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
[11]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jos 24:14). Wheaton: Good News Publishers.

Walking in the Sovereignty of God

(Message First Preached November 19, 2006 in Apaxtla Bible Church - in Guerrero México.  Later preached January 7, 2007 at Grace Fellowship Church)
Listen Here: http://youtu.be/1lF6Ae75jOU

Good Morning!  It’s a real privilege for me to be able to be here with you.  Thank you for inviting me to share about Apaxtla, México.  Actually, the privilege to share with you from God’s Holy Word is more exciting than anything else.  His Word is amazing.  There is great comfort and direction to be found in His Word.  That Sunday morning I preached in México it was quite cold, 55-58 degrees!  Since the Church doesn’t have heat or walls it was a surprise to me.  I wanted to give you a feel, if possible, for the way La Iglesia Biblica de Apaxtla (the Apaxtla Bible Church) does church, so if you have a Bible, and are comfortable reading publicly, I will call on a few of you for Bible reading.
 
I remember getting a phone call once.  A good friend of both mine and Jose was calling and he needed advice.  He was teaching Sunday School and had a place in Scripture to teach from, but was unimpressed with the message.  He just couldn’t find anything substantive to share from that passage.  After a few minutes on the phone we both agreed that there was way too much to teach in only one class on this passage.  How did that happen?   I call that God’s Sovereignty at work.  I am no one special.  But by God’s grace he used me in that moment to encourage a brother in the Lord.  I have also seen others encourage myself in the same way.  Walking in God’s Sovereignty removes the burden of Daily living from your shoulders to His.  The story of Job tells us about how God worked in the background of Jobs’ life.  Job was a very wealthy man… Well, why don’t I just let the Scriptures tell the story. 
 
Job 1  There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.[1]
 
      Did you notice the character of Job?  The Scripture is careful to record for us this information.  You need to know that Job was not a sinner.  It is true that there is none righteous, yet Job’s life was not one of habitual sin. Listen to what comes next:
 
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 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?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. [2]
 
            Look at the authority which Satan has been given!  Does that frighten you?  It shouldn’t!  It was given by God, and it can be taken by God.  All that Job has is in the hand of our adversary, Satan.  What you should really be considering is this;  God boasted about Job!  Wouldn’t you like to think that the Lord might brag on you!  That you might even be thought of by the Lord!  Does that surprize you?  We like to quote John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.[3]  but we rarely think that God is up there in the heavens considering us?!  So God gave Satan the authority to do evil to all Job has.  Let’s see how he uses that authority:
 
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another 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.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” [4]
 
      What tragedy!  Why would God allow this to occur?  This doesn’t seem fair by any standard.  On a feast day of some sort, four independent troubles befall Job.  First the Sabeans attack the Oxen and donkeys. Next the fire of God consumes the sheep.  Next comes the Chaldean raid on the Camels.  Lastly, at the feast itself the house falls and kills everyone!  Here we have a man who was living a righteous life, a life so righteous that even God boasted in him, and God allowed this?!  And what did Job do?
 
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.[5]
 
      The Scriptures record that Job was good in all his responses to all this tragedy.  He worshiped God!  WOW!  How could he do it?!  By trusting in the Lord.  You and I get the inside scoop.   We know what Job did not know.  We know why God allowed this to happen.  And consider this, Job did not let God down!  He could have simply been angry with God, “Why are you doing this to me!  Don’t you love me?”  In a way, someone might say he had every right to question God.  I can tell you that in my own life I have questioned God’s purposes for me many times.  It’s frustrating to have your life interrupted by tragedy, or other unforeseen events.  We want to have control don’t we?  And when our plans are interrupted we get mad. 
      Let me ask you a question.  Why do we want control?  Isn’t it because we think we know what is best?  Isn’t it because we think our plans are right?  Perhaps it is simply that when we try to take control of our lives, we are not yielding them up to God.  To yield our plans to the living God is to acknowledge that we don’t know best.  I am not the best architect of my own life. 
 
What we need to remember is that whatever events occur in our day by day living, God is really involved in all of it.  Right down to the smallest detail.  And our righteous living does not necessarily factor into the events.  We’d all like to believe that if we read the Scriptures, pray, and live by them an honorable life which God would respect, that we’d earn the right to a good life here.  In fact that’s what the world teaches us.  But the life of a Christian is not marked by ease and comfort.  In fact it’s most likely tougher than before.  Our Lord Jesus said, John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.[6]
I’d like to hope that perhaps the Lord Jesus is up there in heaven, boasting in the way his children are living, despite the persecution or troubles we face. 
 
      Let’s continue Job’s story:
 
Job 2  Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 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.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.[7]
 
      Again, what a tragic event!!!  Here we see again the dialog between God & Satan.  And God takes responsibility for what has happened to Job.  God says to Satan that he incited Him against Job without cause.  So we know for a fact that the tragedies which he faced were not a result of sin, but instead were a result of this heavenly dialog between God & Satan. 
 
            Let’s look at what Satan claims about people.  Is it true?  All that a man has he will give for his life.  What does it mean?  Simply put, that in a life or death situation, a man will do whatever he has to do to survive.  Is that true?  Brothers & Sisters, let me say to you that if you know the Lord, and are known of Him, then this is completely false for you.  Think about it, for a moment.  The Christian knows that the end of his life here, is simply the beginning of life with Him.  So why would anyone who walks with God, fear the death of his body, when it’s his soul that really matters.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[8]
Consider this now.  If you are not a Christian, if you are just a pretender, and you die, it really is the end for you.  There is no hope for you, and then what Satan said is true for you, that is, all that a man has he will give for his life, since this really is all that you have to cling to.  People, we need to get to the place where we are willing, without a struggle to give up our possessions, and our rights, over the a Sovereign God who has our best interests at heart.
 
            Let’s examine Job’s statement, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”  I think that this says more about Job, than whatever we might think it says about God.  One way to restate what Job said might be to say, “What does God owe us?”  We have not earned any good he gives us have we?  Actually, except for the grace of God I would have no hope at all!  Let’s now look at the end of Job’s story as the Scriptures tell it:
 
10 And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.
12 And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. 15 And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. 17 And Job died, an old man, and full of days. [9]
 
            God gave him back double what he had lost!  Did you keep count?  Twice as many sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys.  What about his children?  He didn’t have twice as many of them did he?  Just 7 sons and 3 daughters?  How do you explain this?  The animals have no value after their death, but people do.  The 7 sons & 3 daughters Job lost were only lost in this life alone.  They, like all of us, have value after this life and will remain eternally in either heaven or hell.  So Job only lost his 1st 10 children in this life, and would be able to see them again afterward.
 
      I noticed something about Job’s story.  He never did know what was going on in heaven between Satan & God.  Brothers & Sisters, it is my belief that God is very much more involved in our lives than we ever think.  It is easy to acknowledge God in the blessing times of our lives.  But we need to begin to Praise God in the difficult times, during the evil events of our lives.
 
            Let us look at another passage.  It refers to what we call the captivity of the nation Israel.  There are many historical and Scriptural references to this event.  Basically God had given the nation a 70 year punishment in captivity to the nation of Babylon because of Israel’s many sins.  The prophet Jeremiah’s ministry was during the 40 or so years prior to this captivity.  Through Jeremiah, the Lord was giving them instructions and encouragement.  The Lord prophesied in Jeremiah 29, 10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.[10]
 
            What does God say of His plans for the nation?  They are for good and not evil.  Yet I am here to tell you that though God’s plans were for good, the things which happened were not good in and of themselves.  Many died during the siege against Jerusalem.  Utterly evil and wicked things were done in Jerusalem at this time.  We have biblical records of mothers boiling their children for food. (see Jer. 19:9 and Lam. 2:20)  Yet God claims that he has plans for hope and for a future!  You see, we need to acknowledge that God is sovereign.  We, like Job, may not see the hand of God in a thing until much later.  Sometimes we will never know, just as Job never knew, why a tragedy occurred in our lives.  It is our trust in a Sovereign God which will deliver us in such a struggle as this.  Paul describes this trust.  In Romans 8:28 we read, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.[11] God, being Sovereign, works in our lives.  He takes the evil, and uses it for His purposes to be for us a good thing.   
 
The captivity of Israel began a time of pagan nations ruling the earth.  Beginning with Babylon, then to the Media, and Persia (modern day Iran), on to Greece, and then Rome.  Let’s examine a passage from Daniel about the ruler of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar who had a dream.  Daniel 4:1, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. 5 I saw a dream that made me afraid… 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, 25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will[12] Now look at this testimony from the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar:  4:28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.
 
      The dream which God gave to Nebuchadnezzar, and which was interpreted for him by Daniel, came true.  God sent the vision.  Then, a year later, he fulfilled it.  What was God’s objection to Nebuchadnezzar’s rule?  It was his pride.  God was offended by his pride.  Listen to the King’s response once he was brought to his senses again:
 
34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
     for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
          and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35      all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
          and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
          and among the inhabitants of the earth;
     and none can stay his hand
          or say to him, “What have you done?”
36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. [13]
 
         To be humiliated in such a way really changed the king.  What was his response?  To praise the most High!  This should be our response to trials!  Consider it pure joy brothers when you fall into various trials, write the apostle James.  Consider this: In light of the Eternal Sovereign God, and His certain Love for you, you can bear the difficulty much easier.  Jesus said,  28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [14]
 
            I want to show you a place in Scripture which will demonstrate faith in God’s Sovereignty.   In the book of Daniel chapter 9 we read, “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.[15]  Daniel was a 14 or 15 year old boy when he was taken in captivity.  Now, 70 years have passed and he is 84 or 85 years old and recognizes that the time for the prophesy is complete!  In all the Bible there are many prayers recorded and Daniel 9 is one of the great ones.  Look it up this afternoon.  It will astound you.  Daniel tells us that he perceived in the books the prophesy was complete.  Are you ready to be that trusting of God and His Word?  Daniel was.  We may not have all the answers, but God’s Word is complete, and enough for us.
 
When we remember the Love of God which He demonstrated for us by dying in our place even while we were still sinners, we can also remember that same love is with us today.  We only see through a glass dimly.  What a story will be told to us when in heaven we stand before our King and he shows to us all the ways he was sovereignly in control!  I said in the beginning Walking in God’s Sovereignty removes the burden of Daily living from your shoulders to His.  I hope this encourages you.  Our God is in control and because he loves us we can be assured that whatever we’re going through is part a His Sovereign plan!  A plan which we may, or most likely may never know about, but which will produce for Him, glory!  Praise the Lord!!!



[1]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Job 1:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[2]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Job 1:6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[3]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 3:16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[4]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Job 1:13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[5]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Job 1:20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[6]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 15:20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[7]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Job 2:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[8]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 10:28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[9]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Job 42:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[10]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Je 29:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[11]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ro 8:28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[12]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Da 4:24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[13]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Da 4:28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[14]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Mt 11:28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
[15]The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Da 9:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

QRZ LogBook