A few years ago in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, I went to Mississippi for a week to help in the clean-up effort…. The incredible devastation… while poking through the rubble at Bay St. Louis, with the ocean in front of me, I found this book by Erma Bombeck, which I thought was a fitting souvenier: “Aunt Erma’s Cope Book: How to get from Monday to Friday…In 12 Days” Often, that is the way we feel, to make it through each day without crumbling…that is even common advice as I talk to people around Sumas: make it through today. Cope, that is probably even a good idea for a time, but Job calls us to a higher standard. Job is not interested in coping: Job is a class act. Job refuses to let go of his trust in God, a meaningful relationship with God, a sacred desire, a class act! Job wants to be awed by God.
Salvation Begins today, right now…
You know what one of the most important lessons we learn from Job? An enlarged definition of salvation. Salvation is more than a ticket to heaven…the promise of eternal life as something far better than anything we know on this earth does give great hope….yet Salvation begins right now, TODAY. Job understood this, Job understood having a right and good relationship with God in the here and now is more important than anything else. He refuses to divide his heart and cut himself off from God. Curse God and die, Job’s wife says. “you are talking like a foolish woman,” Job replies, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:9-10). Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...
A class act, a sacred desire to be with God. It never left Job. What was Job holding onto? The Gospel… the good news was never preached by Jesus as the minimal entrance requirement for heaven… It was the opportunity to live in the power, presences, and love of God. For Job this was the greatest opportunity ever… For Job, knowing God wasn’t about “God will make me richer or healthier than other people… The gospel isn’t the minimal entrance requirement for heaven….the gospel is a way of life, a relationship with the living and true God, and nothing was going to come between the reality of knowing God and Job. Satan has no power to take away our salvation, our joy in the Lord, our ability to be awed by God. Job is a class act because he keeps his faith God in the most trying of circumstances.
C.S. Lewis said, “Aim for heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim for earth and you get neither.” Isn’t that the story of Job? We are going to talk about it in a little bit, but Job has two choices: his way or his wife’s way. I’m mystified why Job’s wife’s way gains anything. Curse God, blame God, hate God, distance yourself from God, divide your heart, and what have you gained? Salvation begins today! What courage it takes to stand firm in the Lord, in the face of hardships, and to proclaim, “Good or bad, I give my bruised heart to the Lord!”
Let’s get a few truths straight, the book of Job is a gift from God, given for us to understand who God is, and Satan’s limited power on this earth.
Satan’s ultimate target is God
Satan wants to divide your heart, but you are not the ultimate target. A divided heart is to split your loyalties. Satan doesn’t care if he has a piece of your heart, the goal of Satan is that you don’t give yourself completely to God. If you work five days a week, and only rob stores on Friday nights, you are still a thief. A divided heart is when you only trust God when life is easy. A few years ago I drove my oldest daughter to a concert in Seattle with a friend, on the way down the friend got a phone call from one of her other friends. After a few moments, it was like we were not in the car sitting next to her, and she started saying, “ya, I wish I could be with you too, but I have to go to this concert…” A divided heart, going through the motions, hating your job, pining for something different, anytime you can’t ever get over the lost opportunity, putting conditions on your commitments and then being stuck by no longer liking what you once embraced. Knowing what is right but not doing it.
A Divided Heart is the alternative to integrity. Integrity means functioning fully for what you were created. A new tire that grips the road has integrity, a bald tire constantly losing air has lost its integrity. The question in today’s scripture centers on the twice repeated word, “Integrity.” Integrity defined is found in Job 2:3… blameless, upright, fears God, shuns evil. when Job is at his lowest, God is amazed by Job’s integrity.
Here is an extremely helpful truth: Who is Satan’s target? Satan is not gunning for Job, Satan challenges God! READ Job 2:4. Satan is challenging God’s wisdom… Job 2:4-5 The real accusation here is not against Job… It’s against God: “You don’t have the relationship with Job you think you have…” “You can defeat me by might, but your love is not truly supreme as you claim, and I’ll prove it.” The real struggle is between God and Satan. When our heart is bruised, when we suffer unexplainable pain, our tendency is to blame God. The war is between Satan and God, and the victory is already decided in favor of God. God is not your enemy, he is never your enemy. We are too often like the wild animal that lashes out at the person trying to pull the thorn from our foot – we blame the very one who is there to help us. The very one who will rescue us.
When your heart is bruised, understand Satan is the enemy and God is your friend. Satan’s target is God, seeking to undermine God by dividing your heart, so that you will turn away from God. “Thank God in all circumstances,” the scripture says. Why? So that we will be reminded of the one that loves us no matter what, the one that wants us bruised heart and all.
When our heart is bruised, The only question for us is our heart. Satan wants to divide our heart. God wants our bruised hearts, because he is the one that will make us whole. When a bruised heart is all we have to give God, he’ll lovingly receive it, for to him, that’s everything. Satan is not fighting us! Satan is fighting God for the loyalty of our heart. And Satan only needs a piece, a divided heart. The doubts and pains we face in this world are the result of Satan fighting God for our hearts and minds. The loss of job, diminished health, death of a loved one, divorce, rejection of a friend, the times when Satan works to divide our heart from God. And it is in those moments… that life becomes so hard…you have the opportunity to learn and grow more than at
any other time in your life. Listen to Jobs words at the end of this book: Job 42:5 – “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”
God is your biggest fan
Job’s wife gives Job advise, but she says divide your heart and die. Job’s wife makes a lot of human sense. She represents the major alternative for Job. It’s hard when people say “how can a loving God allow the earthquake in Japan and the Tsunami?” “If God is love, why ______” When your heart is bruised, through the pain, through the uncertainty, when it comes down to it, you have two choices: give your heart to God, or divide your heart. Job is a class act. The way the scripture says: Mrs. Job asks if he is going to hold onto his integrity, and Job replies in Job 2:10: READ. A class act.
When our heart is bruised, the temptation is to think of God as the enemy, or at least imagine him to be a very strange God that has lower ethics and standards than us, because if we were God we would not allow such suffering, or maybe God is weaker than we ever imagined. Here is the revolutionary way of looking at God when your heart is bruised: God is your biggest fan.
Here is my idea for a gift our church, SACC, can give to this community, as many people as will accept the gift: let’s become great encouragers, let’s become fans of as many people as possible, let’s believe in people that are hurt and wounded even when they quit believing in themselves. Everyone needs fans, everyone needs somebody to encourage them. I have been blessed in my lifetime with an incredible number of people that have encouraged me. If I have accomplished anything in this world it is not because of an internal resolve to fulfill some great destiny, but it is because of the wonderful men and women that encouraged me, watched me stumble, and smiled anyway. And if sinful men and women can encourage each other through the pain and doubts, how much more God. May our message to the world be that God is your biggest fan, he loves you unconditionally, he believes in you.
God is Job’s biggest fan: Read 2:3. We talk all the time in the church about the importance of believing in God, and it is important, but then we get a scripture like this: God believes in us. Behind the scenes, God is saying to Job, “you can do it, you can stand firm and strong, believe in me because I believe in you.” I think it was Robert Schuler that coined the phrase, “believe in a God that believes in you.” Isn’t that amazing: while we are busy wondering what’s up with God, why he allows such heartache to invade our lives, God is saying to us, “you can stand firm.” Hold on.
A Class Act
When your heart is bruised, you have two choices, turn away from God or turn towards him. Job is a class act as he embraces God. Those who suffer with peace and contentment in their heart are the greatest mystery to the world, yet also held in amazement. To embrace God when your world crumbles is supernatural. A class act is to do the right thing when everything is wrong, live well when the body falls apart, when your life diminishes but your faith increases. A bruised heart that fully loves the Lord. Just as I am, Lord, I come to you.
Salvation begins right now as you seek to love the Lord in the good times and the bad times that the world throws at you. To embrace God even in times of trouble. When trouble comes, God is fighting Satan for your heart. God is not your enemy, God is your biggest fan. To give your bruised heart to God is a class act, that will result in a sense of confidence and rightness. Amen.