Sermons

Manuscript From 2/29/2012 Community Lenten Services at the Methodist Church

Let me first start my thanking you all for allowing me this opportunity to come and speak to you all.  Let me give you a short introduction about myself since my wife and I are still relatively new in town.  And since I always think it is helpful to know a little bit about the person speaking to you because our natural tendencies are to ask the question why should I listen to this guy?

And as my pastor back in Louisville would say they are not going to care how much you know until they know how much you care.  My wife and I are originally from Knoxville, TN, we met in Drivers Ed. Class our sophomore year of High School and after graduating from college, we God married and felt God calling us into the ministry, so we moved to Louisville, KY to attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  There I received my Masters of Divinity and was ordained into Gospel ministry by Valley View Church.  And our path brought us to Flemingsburg when God called us to Flemingsburg Baptist Church as the new Youth Minister.

So you might ask the question, if you have a master’s degree in theology and you have already been ordained, then why go into youth ministry and not try to pastor your own church since you are trained in being a pastor?  Well, that is because right now in this stage in our life God has given my wife and I a deep desire to disciple young men and women and to help answer their questions and help them discover for themselves what it looks like for them to live for the glory of God.  We want to do more than just entertain them, we want to display to them the glories of God.

I am here before you today, because a man of God decided that he would pour into my life to show me what a Godly man looks like, while I was struggling in High School.  And the best way I can think of thanking him is by doing the same in the life of young men in women across Fleming County.

So I hope that you see my heart and I hope that it helps you hear this message that God has placed on my heart tonight.

Our sermon for today is a two-part message since I will also be giving the Good Friday message.  So today, we will look at suffering in the book of Job.  Since I am doing the Good Friday service which is a celebration of the suffering that Christ did for us on the cross, I am going to set the foundation of why he suffered and why we will suffer, and hopefully help you connect the dots on how the Old Testament is pointing us to Christ.  So today’s message is answering the question why is there suffering, and good Friday’s messages will be looking at what Christ’s suffering did for us.  And how both display the infinite worth of our God.

Our passage this evening will be in Job 1:6-2:10, could you go ahead and turn there as I introduce the passage to you.  If you are having trouble finding it, find Psalms and then turn back a few pages, it is the book before Psalms.  This passage is a study of Theodicy.  Theodicy is the justification for the belief in God in the face of suffering.  In other words, it is addressing the “problem with evil” or answering the questions, “why do bad things happen to good people?”  or How could a loving God allow so much suffering in the world?”

I do not claim that we will address these questions fully because these are profound questions, but my attempt is to show you how God through the Bible has addressed these questions for us in the book of Job.

First, we must start by recognizing that there is a “problem with evil.”  What I mean is that we as Christians believe in one God and our God in his Word claims that He is Love.  So as Christians, the issue or problem with evil is, “how do we justify that God is love, when suffering is all around us?”  The issue of evil is not a problem for polytheistic religions because they could blame all of the suffering on another god.

For example, in the Epic poem, The Odyssey, Odysseus makes the god of the sea, Poseidon, mad because he blinds his son the Cyclops.  Odysseus now has to set sail across the sea to get home while having the god of the sea seeking revenge.  Odysseus only makes it back home because he finds favor with the Greek god of wisdom, Athena.  The reasons good and evil were happening were because of another God’s actions.

Therefore, when Odysseus ran into struggles, it was Poseidon’s fault and when he found favor with the gods it was because of Athena.  Likewise, those that believe in Moral Dualism would answer the problem the same way, if something good happened it was God and if something bad happened, it was Satan.

However, the Bible shows us that God and Satan are not dual powers fighting it out until the end, but that God is sovereign and supreme.  God holds all power and that sometimes He allows suffering to come into our lives to be a testament to others that God is greater and more valuable than the earthly possessions or health He has given us.

This is practical for our lives because we all have suffered.  As the saying goes, we all are either going into a storm, in a storm, or coming out of a storm.  When the book of Job is properly understood, it can teach us the value of struggling with our faith.  If we do not have a clear view of why suffering comes then we could have a distorted view of God.

I believe that there are 3 possible distortions that we could have with a poor view of suffering:

  1. The first distortion is that there are dualistic powers and they are battling it out and sometimes the good wins and sometimes the bad wins.
  2. The second distortion is that there is a God, but He is not really that loving to his people.  He is more of a watchmaker that makes the watch and sits back and watches it work.
  3. And the third distortion is that maybe there really is not a God after all.

Therefore, we will look at this passage in Job 1:6-2:10 and see how our God displays His goodness and glory in the midst of suffering proving these distortions mentioned wrong.  At the end of this message,

–          I want all of you going into a storm to be better prepared to most glorify God during it and equipped to be able to endure whatever it is God is doing in your life.

–          I want all those in the storm to be encouraged and look to God for comfort amidst the storm,

–          and all those that are coming out of the storm will resonate with this quote by C.S. Lewis, “when you are in heaven, when all of it  is said and done, it is not that you look back and go, “oh, that makes sense.” Instead, you look back and see there was never a problem to begin with.”

Now to summarize the first five verses of Job we see that he is a very wealthy and very righteous man.  God has blessed him with both health and wealth because of his righteousness.  However, the scene turns as we look at verses 6-12.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 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.” 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?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 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. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 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.

Now to gain understanding of this difficult passage we will look at a commentary.  What is the best commentary of the Bible?  The Bible.  So let us look at what the New Testament tells us about this book of the Bible.  James 5:11 tells us, “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

How can God be both compassionate and merciful, but allow suffering at the same time?  I will attempt to answer this question and reveal to you how to deal with the Problem of Evil.

The life of Job is proof that man usually has no idea what God is doing behind the scenes in the life of each believer.  All humans ask the question, “why do bad things happen to good people?”

It is the age old question, and one that is sometimes difficult to answer in human terms, but believers have an advantage because we know that God is always in control, and no matter what happens, there are no accidents, nothing happens by chance.  Job was such a man; he knew that God was on the throne and in total control, though he had no way of knowing why so many terrible afflictions were occurring in his life.

Job never lost his faith in God, even under the most heartbreaking circumstances that tested him to his core.  It is hard to imagine losing everything we own in one day, property, possessions, and even loved ones.  Most men would sink into depression after such a nightmare.

However, Job must have felt all those emotions, but he never wavered in his understanding that God was still in control and that God is love.

Now let us look at the text more closely.  The first test opens up with a heavenly dialogue.  Satan accuses Job of fearing God because the Lord has blessed him.  Therefore, the purpose of the first test is to present Job’s situation from the divine perspective as a contest between God and Satan, in which the issue at stake is whether a man is capable of loving God for His own sake rather than merely for the blessings, He grants.

However, the contest between God and Satan is not a fair one.  God and Satan are not equal and they are not battling it out here to see who has more power.  The Bible makes it clear that even though some angels rebelled, God is still the creator of the angels and maintains complete power and authority over them.  There are rules and they are created by God that Satan must abide by.  These rules give us comfort when we are faced with afflictions and suffering.

This is not the only place that we see the authority of God over Satan.  In Matthew 1:34, Jesus would not permit the demons to speak and in 1 Kings 22:19-23, a lying spirit asks to be put into the mouths of the prophets.  Therefore, how much less may they do anything more harmful without permission?

In addition, we learn more about Satan’s character when we go back to the passage in Job.  In verses 9-11, we learn that Satan does not know the future or he would know that Job would not break under pressure.  The fact that God is love does not mean that we will not suffer, but that we can trust him when we do!

Now look at verses 13-19:

Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 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.” 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.” 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.” 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, 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.”

In verses 13-19, we learn of the 2 types of disasters that came upon Job.  One was of evil men in v. 15 and 17 and the other was natural disasters in v. 16 & 19.  The “fire of God” is a poetic way of saying lighting in v. 16 and strong wind was most likely a tornado or cyclone.

I believe that the variety of disasters was not an accident.  The variety is to show us that God has sovereign power over Satan, Man, and Nature.  I believe that God choose a variety of ways to keep us from blaming a sole person or thing.  You could not blame it on evil men because there was also a bad storm, likewise you could not solely blame it on mother nature because of the evil men.

In addition, Satan performs all of the disasters at once in hopes of over-whelming him and performing the most dreadful last in order to push Job over the top.  It is also important to point out that Job did not begin to show feelings until the end because it gives us insight on how the enemy works.  It shows us that Satan knows what we cherish most in this life and he wants to make us display our love for money, possessions, and even our family more than our love for God.  Whatever we love most in this life, the enemy is going to try to manipulate it to the point, where we desire it more than our God.

Even good things, even Godly things.  There should be no competition for our love for Jesus.  We should love him better than life itself.  And you will find that you love others in your life far more when you put them in second place than if you were to get it out of whack and put them in first place and put Jesus second.  I often say to my wife, Kaley your my number 2, and she knows that is the most loving thing I can say to her, because if I was to put her number 1, then I would be putting on her unrealistic expectation to fulfill my joy.  If I put her number 1, she is going to fail me.  And I will live a life in constant resentment because I put someone number 1 that continually fails me.

Likewise, anything that you are putting number one is going to fail you too.  People will disappoint you, other people change, other people will die, and if you have put them first in your life you are going to find it hard to live after betrayal or loss.  Jesus will never betray you and Jesus has already died and risen from the dead so He will never forsake you.

You put him first and you will never be disappointed.  Christians will let you down.  We are not perfect, but we do not worship the church members, we worship the one that is the Lord Jesus Christ and I point you to him.  Likewise, we are not going to worship the pastors in Flemingsburg, we are going to worship Jesus.  Jesus will never let you down.  I will let you down and the your pastor will eventually let you down, but remember it is not the pastors you are worshipping it is Jesus Christ and He will never let you down.

Now look at verses 20-22:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 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.”  In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

In verse 20-22, we see the record of the victory.  In verse 21 Job did not understand why God had allowed these things, but he knew God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him.  Ultimately, that should be our reaction as well.  This passage is also there to give us an example of what pleases God when suffering strikes.  Just because bad things happen does not give us the right to turn away from God and to doubt His goodness or if He is even there.

When we get angry with God, we are saying that we know more than Him, how prideful must we be to believe that we could be a better god than the one who created us.  Not only that, when we get angry with God we are handing the victory over to the enemy and turning our backs to the only One that is good.

We have all seen the children at Wal-Mart who throw temper tantrums when they do not get their way.  Just like the child at Wal-Mart we are tempted to throw temper tantrums when we do not get our way.  However, we see that those who are mature are patient and wise and know the good that will come from the hardships they suffer.

When we are mature, we are able to make careful, rational comparisons between today’s hardship and tomorrow’s promises.  As we do this, we will not see that the scales will be balance in the end, nor will we see that we only come out a little ahead.  But instead, we will be the child on Christmas morning that got the toy they wanted at Wal-Mart, plus more.  Instead of a temper tantrum, we will be filled with a childlike fit of the giggles as we see the overflowing abundance of the grace promised to us.

We also get further insight on who is to blame for the suffering of Job.  In verse 21, Job says it was from God.  The narrator of Job agrees with him by saying, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”  It is safe to say that if Job blamed God and it was solely Satan then the narrator would have rebuked him.  We could not possibly say that he did not sin because surely false accusations against God is sin.

Even after all of the suffering, Job still turned and worshipped and a victory was won, Satan was proved wrong.  In verse 20, we see that Job worshipped and he blessed God.  Therefore, the superior worth of God became apparent to all.  The purpose of Job’s suffering was fulfilled Job displayed that God was to be valued more than any possession or any family member.  Therefore, we see that man is capable of loving God for His own sake rather than merely for the blessings, He grants.

Now look at verses Chapter 2 verses 1-6:

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. 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.” 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.” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

This now leads us to the second test.  This second test opens up the same as the first with a heavenly dialogue.  Here we see that once again Satan is trying to steal Job’s Joy in God away.

Satan failed to do so when Job was rich.  He failed to do it when Job was poor.  Now Satan will try to see if he can do it while Job is physically weak.

The main purpose of this test is to display that “God is more valuable than our Health.”  We now see that not only is God sovereign over Satan, Man, and Nature, but also over sickness.

Now look at verses Chapter 2 verses 7-10:

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.  And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.  Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 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.

In verses 7-10, we now see that Job is covered with boils and his wife tells him to curse God and die, and Job rebukes her.  We get further insight on this infliction in chapter 7 in verse 5.  Here we see that Job was covered with boil-like sores that opened and ran with puss and then got clogged with dirt and worms.  It was not the chicken pox or a mild case of poison ivy.  It was a terrible disease from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet.  And the only way to gain relief was to scrape himself with a piece of broken pottery.

The key phrase in this passage is when job says, “shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”  This is the right view of God’s sovereignty over Satan.  Therefore, Satan may have been involved, but the ultimate purpose was God’s.

Instead of asking, why do bad things happen to good people?  We should be asking, why does anything good happen to us at all?  To say that we do not deserve suffering is to say that we earned God’s blessing.  However, the Bible tells us that, no one is righteous, not one.  And to claim that we deserved God’s blessing is to diminish the value of God’s grace that He has given us while we were yet sinners.

The word foolish when used in verse 10 referring to his wife does not mean silly or ridiculous, but acting as one  who rejects God or God’s revealed will.  This usage is similar to the use of fool in Proverbs and Psalms.  He is basically saying to his wife that she is acting like an unbeliever, one that does not have hope.  Here in this passage we see that Job’s wife has been spared from the disasters that took the rest of his family.

As a side note: I believe that there are implications that we can take from this verse.  I believe that this verse displays that when your spouse suffers, you both suffer!  Do not become selfish and act out of your own flesh.  Do not live like just because the suffering is not your fault or not your problem that you are free from going through this trial with your spouse.  We see here in Job that his wife, only made his suffering worse.  I pray that when your spouse goes through trials, that you will jump in the trenches with them instead of joining the enemy in throwing grenades at them.

However, I will not dwell on this point because I do not believe that it is the main point of the text, but I think that it is worth mentioning that your spouse can either help ease your suffering or add to it and that we should be intentional in helping to relieve our spouses pain, not adding to it like an unbelieving spouse would.  And, I thank God for a wife that when hard times come, I know that she will be should-to-shoulder going through the battle with me.  Church if your spouse is one whom fights the battles with you, you should thank God daily.  If you want to strike a man in the heart, have him be attacked by Satan all day telling him that he is not good enough and then come home to a wife that only confirms it.

These two tests where to display that Job loved God more than he loved wealth and health.  Therefore, I ask the question to you.  What is the foundation of your joy?  Do you love God because he makes much of you?  Or, because he enables you to make much of him?  There is a huge difference here.  And that was what was at stake with Job.  At the foundation of your Joy in everything displays what it is that you are worshipping.

For example, say you come to me and you are glad you made a good grade on your science test.  And I say why?  And you say because it makes me feel good, and I ask why does it make you feel good? And you might say because I want to be a physical therapist and I need good grades to get into PT school.

See we are peeling back the layers.

So now, I ask why do you want to be a physical therapist.  And you might say because I was once hurt and a physical therapist helped me get healthy again and I want to spend my life helping others get healthy again so that they can live their lives pain free.

Now I would respond why would you want to do that?  And your answer now is pretty close to the foundation right?  Are you going to say because I want people to praise me, and I want to make money off of other peoples pain, but to basically praise me that I was the one that helped them.

Or.

Do you want to help others because you want to make much of God and display his love to others by spending your life helping people get healthy even if sometimes you do it for free.

Is the foundation of your Joy found in making God glorious, or on the shaky foundation of using God to make you glorious?

The Second question that someone might ask after reading this passage is, “why did Job have to suffer if God knew his heart?”

In conclusion, what I would like for all of you to take home from this message is to regard God in your trials.  Focus on him because he can be trusted.  And to remember that we deal with the Problem of Evil by saying that the fact that God is love does not mean that we will not suffer, but that we can trust Him when we do!  Therefore, we know that God works through our sufferings for our good and His glory.

The book of Job, as I mentioned earlier, is not only teaching us to how to correctly respond to suffering, but it is also going much deeper.  It is pointing us to Christ.  Let us look at the comparisons.

–          Job was a rich wealthy man that God blessed because of His righteousness.  That became poor because of suffering.

–          Jesus is God and was in heaven where the Angels worshipped him and he emptied himself and came down to the earth as a poor carpenter’s son.

–          Job did nothing to deserve the suffering that he received, but still turned and worshipped God and showed how God was more valuable than earthly health and wealth.

–          Jesus was sinless, but still died a death of a criminal and bore the weight of our sins so that we can now have fellowship with a holy and just God.

–          Satan hates Job because of his righteousness and seeks to destroy him.  But ends up displaying how much more valuable God is above all else, even health and wealth.

–          Satan attacks Jesus because he hates him because he is God.  But ends up displaying the glory of God by having his Son, die so that he could adopt sinners like us into his family.

–          Job’s resources and health are restored to him by the end of this book, he becomes not as rich as he was before, but more abundantly richer.

–          Jesus has already resurrected and is waiting to usher in the new heavens and earth that will be more abundantly better than when we were in the Garden of Eden free from sin.

Finally, I close by saying that in this passage we get a glimpse of how Satan attacks us.  He accuses us.  He accuses Job of only loving God because he was useful for him to make him rich.  He then accuses Job of only loving God because he was useful for him to have good health.  Likewise, he accuses us.  He says you are not good enough.  Your faith is not real.  And the enemy tells us that we will fail.

I like to look at his accusing us like this:  It is like being in a courtroom and you are on trial and you know that you are guilty and you know that you are before a just and holy judge.  Satan the prosecutor gets up and rips you telling the judge all that you have done wrong in your life and accuses you of even the good that you have done was out of the wrong motivations.  You are at your lowest because you know that you are guilty because Romans 3 tells us that there is no one righteous, not one.  All looks dark for you.

But then, Jesus stands up on your behalf and he doesn’t say a word.  He approaches the seat of the Holy judge and reaches out his two nail pierced hands and points to the hole in his side and the crown of thorns.  And the judge rules INNOCENT, not because he is unjust, not because you deserve it, but because the punishment has been paid for.  Now here is the good news.  God the holy and just judge is not mad that he had to let you off, he is not like well I have to because the penalty is paid for.  No, he is the one that provided a way for you to be able to come to him and have fellowship with him because he loves you.  We could have never had come to the father unless he had prepared a way for us to be able to stand blameless in front of him.

Church do not leave here tonight without being made right with God.  Because if you do not give your life to Jesus, then one day you will find yourself in that courtroom and you will look for help, but Jesus will say, I do not know you.  And you will be left to the judgment of a Holy and just God whom you have greatly offended.

Therefore, come to the altar tonight, do not delay their will people up here to pray for you if you are in amidst of a storm tonight or if you want to know how to get to know this Savior that is more valuable than wealth and health.  Do not let the accuser keep you in your seat for another night; do not let him hinder you anymore.  Seek freedom tonight.

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