Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Shepastor: "When God Throws You a Curve Ball..."

Job 1: 1-12; 20-22
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.2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.8 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? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 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.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD…

20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21 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.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Shepastor: “When God Throws You a Curve Ball…”

A “curve ball” is a pitch thrown with a strong downward spin, causing the ball to drop suddenly and veer to the side as it approaches home plate. The curveball outside the context of baseball, “essentially translates to introducing a significant deviation to a preceding concept.” (Wikipedia)

In other words, it is a break in a pattern…something totally unexpected…something that does not fit the pattern, if you will of things currently happening or at least what one thought would have, could have, should have happened.

You thought that you would be healthy and strong because you eat right and exercise, only to go to the doctor and find out you have cancer – a curve ball… you thought that because you loved, encouraged and raised your children to love and serve the Lord they would love, honor and respect you, but instead they rush towards the proverbial “hog pens” of life – a curve ball…you thought that because you came to work early, stayed late, gave your all, followed instructions and showed kindness that you would get a raise, a promotion or at least some respect, but instead you get disrespect and threats of being let go – a curve ball!

When the child of God receives “curve balls,” it can feel like a “sucker punch” in the gut. Just this weekend, friends of ours – faithful, godly, praying people of God received a curve ball…on Friday evening, the husband experienced something akin to an aneurysm…a blood clot on the brain. Collapsed in a bathroom and was not found for two hours. Had to be rushed to emergency – had to have a shunt placed in his brain to drain off the fluid and the blood.

The good news is that he is still alive and with much prayer, faith and hope… physical therapy and good medical care, we believe, God willing, he will recover. A praying couple…a loving couple…a faithful couple, yet they have been confronted with a “curve ball.” What do you do when life throws you a curve ball?

The book of Job gives us some insights into how to face life’s curve balls.

One of the first things we learn from this passage is that we must realize things are happening in heavenly realms that are not readily apparent here on earth. In other words, there are principalities and powers at work that our eyes cannot see. Look at Satan. He appears before God along with the other heavenly beings – the “sons of God.” The Lord asks Satan where has he been and he declares that he has been walking up and down, “to and fro” throughout the earth. The New Testament declares that he is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

But Satan cannot touch the child of God unless he first gets permission from God. God has a hedge of protection around His children. The Lord looks upon us with favor and even with a level of fatherly pride. He asks the devil, “Have you considered my servant Job?” It’s as if God taunts the devil with the faithfulness of Job. Job has no idea about the power and glory brought to God through his faithfulness.
One might say, “it looks like Job’s faithfulness got him into trouble!!!” But the opposite is true. The devil seeks to devour every and anybody! He just tries extra hard to attack those who are faithful to God because he hates God and all who belong to God. God, however, “has” Job, sustaining Job, keeping Job and limiting the extent to which the devil could harm Job.

Yes, God allows somethings to happen…sometimes horrible things…but the Lord has a curve ball for the devil. Jesus says that whom the Father has in His hands no man can pluck him out. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. God’s grace. God’s mercy and even God’s peace.

The next extremely important lesson we learn from this text is that righteousness does not exempt us from the curve balls of life. Abel offered a sacrifice that was more acceptable than Cain, but Cain killed Abel… David was a man after God’s own heart, but he was still pursued and had his life threatened by his mentor, Saul…Daniel prayed three times a day and an excellent spirit was found in him, yet he was still falsely accused and thrown into the lions dens…Zechariah and Elizabeth were faithful and upright before God but were still barren (without children)…the man born blind had not sinned, nor had his parents sinned, but he was still born blind…Jesus was the lamb of God, sent into the world to save us from our sins, but he was still despised and rejected and ultimately crucified.

Righteousness does not exempt us…but righteousness will keep us! No matter what Job lost, no matter how much pain and anguish and disappointment Job faced, Job would not curse God. Job declared, “naked came I into the world and naked shall I return, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away – blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Pain and loss reveals who we truly are at the core – are you a “fair weather Christian?” When curveballs are thrown your way will you continue to stand on your most holy faith? Will you continue to declare, “Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say it is well with my soul?” Will you continue to bless the Lord at all times? Will His praise continually be in your mouth? Oh people of God there is coming a day, when those who have stayed the course, those who have been faithful to the end, those who have endured the curve balls of life, those who have suffered, and toiled, and struggled and served, and gave, and loved, and sought to please the living God will be counted among that great number of saints and shall be rewarded for their labors…

Revelation 7: 9-17 declares:
The Great Multitude in White Robes

9After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’a
nor any scorching heat.
17For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’b
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’c ”

Somebody might be saying, “I don’t want to have to wait until I die and stand before the throne of grace before I experience healing, experience peace, experience restoration.” Well there is some good news right here in the book of Job. This is not how the story ends. Yes Job experienced great loss of material goods, loss of his beautiful children, loss of the trust of his so-called friends, loss of the support of his wife…but God is not unjust, God is not unrighteous…God is not cruel. God in the end threw the devil a curve ball. After all of this…all of the pain, all of the loss…all of the disappointment…all of the false accusations…all of the self-doubts and fears…God threw the devil a curve ball…Job remained faithful…Job did not curse God…Job did not turn his back on God.

And because Job was faithful…because Job was steadfast…because Job was unmovable, God restored Job…

Job declared, “before my ears heard about you, but now my eyes see you!” Job thought he knew who God was but after all that he’d been through, he began to truly see who God is! After you go through some things, after you lose some things, after you have to face somethings and so called friends walk off and leave you or begin to falsely accuse you…after family begin to doubt you, after you begin to even wrestle within yourself, after all of these things, when the Lord begins to rebuild you, and you realize that you are still standing…when the Lord begins to restore you and you realize that after all of that you are still standing…when the Lord shows you all that He has carried you over, under, around and through…you will say like Job – “God I thought I knew you, I thought I saw you, I thought I’d heard about you, but now I see you for myself, now I know you for myself…now I can sho nuff testify about you because you have blessed me, you have lifted me, you have carried me, you have delivered me, you have restored me and I will bless your name!!!

God blessed Job. Listen to what God did for Job…
Job 42: 10-17

10After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silvera and a gold ring.
12The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part…
16After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
Oh saints of God, many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all!
God is a healer, God is a deliverer, God is a restorer! Don’t allow the curve balls of life to make you let go of God’s hand – stand on your most holy faith – trust in the Lord – continue to bless His name – God will see you through!

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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