Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Struggle

“But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.” – Job 23:10

There’s a good reason why God himself says in Job 1:8 that Job was a “blameless and upright man”.  Job had wisdom over his condition.  He saw the bad things in his life as what they really are.

With every struggle we go through, there is a test.  The test is in how we deal with the struggle.  We can handle things according to God’s will, or we can handle them according to our own.  Our own often includes anger, frustration, casting blame, and looking to other sources for peace.  But God asks us to handle struggle differently.  Those that seek His will “be angry and do not sin”, and will understand that His “grace is sufficient”.  Those that follow God’s will in the struggles of life will cast their burdens on Him in prayer, understanding that all things are possible with God, and find hope to continue.  They will rest in knowing that in all things, God works our situations for the good of those that love Him.

Job understood his test, and even saw the outcome of his faithfulness to God.  He says “I shall come forth as gold”.  Gold is purified by fire.  The fire burns away all the impurities in the gold.  Likewise, when we lean into God and follow His will through the struggle, we are purified, and we pass the test.

Job realized that being obedient to God in all things was important in His relationship with God.  God blesses those that are obedient to Him (Deuteronomy 28).  He says “my food has held fast to His steps”.  In order to know where God is stepping, we need to know His word, and not just a few verses.  God’s word reveals who He is, His character, what He loves and what He hates.  In the same way we know what our parents are going to say to certain situations because we’ve listened to them for years, we know what God will say because we’ve listened to His words.  Job was able to walk the path God had given him because He knew God.  He had not turned off that path, and that is what made Him a “blameless and upright man”. 

The struggles of life will never cease.  They are there not to harm us, but to build us into what we should be.  A gold nugget taken from the earth is not a smooth one.  It has sharp edges.  It isn’t a shiny reflective gold color, but dirty and almost hidden with impurities.  But when the nugget is placed in fire, the edges are removed, and the dirt is burned away.  What remains is a golden flowing stream, able to be molded into whatever the goldsmith wants it to become.  God seeks to smooth out our rough edges through the struggles so that He can make us into the person He has planned us to be.  Our only part in the process is to submit to the struggle under His headship.

All tests come to a close.  At the end you can either be broken, or purified.  At the end of Job’s struggle, God blessed him with even greater than he lost through the test.    

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why We Pray for Others

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” – 1 Samuel 12:23

Samuel was a prophet and judge for the Israelite people.  When they asked for a king he knew they should respect God as their King, but they continued to beg for a man to be their king.  He made the above statement after the coronation of Saul to be their king.  Though Samuel knew they were in the wrong to appoint a man as their head, God allowed it and later proved to them that no man deserves to be our head.

But even after they had neglected the headship of God, Samuel made the statement “far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you”.  Intercessory prayer is our duty as Christians toward each other.  It’s not an optional activity.  We are told to build each other up, to edify the church, and this is one way in which we do that.  Intercessory prayer, praying for each other over specific situations and needs, is one vital way that we “love one another as I have loved you” as Jesus commanded.  He prayed for us, those who would come to believe after He was resurrected.  We are to follow that example.

Intercessory prayer is not a burden, a “job” we do for God, but the way in which we deal with the problems of life.  When you love someone, seeing them suffer through any situation is painful.  By praying for them, that burden is made lighter as we share that load with God. 

Either we believe that prayer changes things, or we don’t.  For certain, if we believe it does we will use it as the tool in which it was meant to be to ease life for those we love, and for ourselves.  The absence of intercessory prayer in the life of the believer only proves a lack of faith in God, and a lack of love for each other.

Look around you today at the problems others are facing.  Could it be that YOUR prayers could change their lives?  Could YOUR prayers be the ones God longs to hear for them?  Could it be that their suffering is to draw YOU to prayer?

Samuel said not praying for the Israelites would be a “sin against the Lord”.  Indeed it is a sin against the Lord when we fail to pray for one another.  It breaks His commandment to love one another.