Sunday, August 31, 2014

OVERWHELMED: WINNING THE WAR AGAINST WORRY - LESSON 12 GOD IS STILL GOD AND GOD IS STILL GOOD


This is the final Lesson in out study Overwhelmed:  Winning the War Against Worry.  If you have studied along with us and haven't already I urge you to get the book "Overwhelmed:  Winning the War Against Worry" by Perry Noble.  You can get it from Amazon by clicking the title of the book  or clicking on the image of the book at the end of the post.  


Introduction



A couple or three weeks or so ago we talked about how we often misinterpret God’s promises and even sometimes make our preferences God’s promises. We do that by taking His promises totally out of context so that they fit our situation or desires.  This week I read a quote by D. L. Moody and then a commentary
on the quote.  First a little about D. L. Moody.   D.L. Moody died in 1899 and he was a famous American evangelist and publisher.  He founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now Northfield Mount Hermon School), the Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Publishers.


The quote is “God never made a promise that was too good to be true”  We often say that “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is”.  Meaning that it is probably not really true.  Here's the commentary on the quote:


D. L. Moody’s quote that God never made a promise that was too good to be true is easy to misunderstand. It is easy to get and believe that God can make mountains fall in the sea at a mere word. After all, this is the same God that called the universe into existence. No problem there. The big issue is whether, as Christians, we are going to assume the right position when it comes to God’s promises. This is the big challenge because it is too easy to turn God, in our minds, into our own personal ‘genie’-existing solely to solve our problems. It is too easy to pray to God for a football, soccer, or basketball victory or to claim ‘God is on our side.’ How can he not be? After all, there are more than enough promises in the Bible that can be read to favor whatever outcome we want, right? Sadly, this is the wrong way to claim God’s promises. Even if we have faith, it is too easy to use faith the wrong way.

It is not about us

God’s promises in the bible have always been about one thing and one thing alone: God’s glory. You see, the Devil has done a spectacular job of distorting God. From a bully to a genie to a butler, the Devil spews out lie after lie about the character of God. A sincere and honest reading of the Bible and Jesus’ words regarding the power of faith leads to one conclusion: God’s promises are all about His glory and our salvation. This means, the promises must lead to God’s agenda not ours. This means that instead of praying that our problems disappear because it would be more convenient, we should pray that the outcome be in accordance with God’s will. In short, put his agenda front and center, not ours. This is hard to do because we are all self-absorbed and self-centered. We measure the world based on our needs and concerns. The truth is that God is above and beyond us. He has his own center of gravity. Indeed, he is the center of gravity for everything that was, is, and ever will be. Our needs, our concerns, our prayers, and our lives should be centered on His will.

Pray for His Will

By refocusing our prayers on helping us achieve God’s will, we unlock the power of God’s promises. His words aren't void. His promises aren't dead. They have life. We have just been trying to unlock them using self-centered ‘faith.’ Instead, when praying, we should ask to do His will and stand back. Prepare to be amazed.

Last Week Review

Last week in chapters 30-33 we talked about the fact that no matter what we are going through, no matter how much stress and anxiety, or how overwhelming the situation or circumstance, God loves us.  He loves us even when we can’t accept that fact.  We can’t accept it because of past sins, poor performance in our estimation, or the current overwhelming situation.  All those things cause us the think surely God can’t still love me.  We talked about the fact that Jesus called  John the one Jesus loved, according to John, and the other disciples His friends.  He called them his friends  before he was crucified, and He still called them His friends after they abandoned him when He was arrested. Peter denied Him and John didn't speak up for Him although he was there at the trial.  Even after they knew that he had risen and he sent them out to win souls, they went fishing. After all this He still called them His friends.  So it didn't depend on anything they did or didn't do and it doesn't matter what you or I do or don't do, it won't change His opinion about us or cause Him to no longer consider us His friends.
God loves us,  and He calls us His friends so we shouldn't give up when we are overwhelmed.  The great example that we have from the bible, other than Jesus, who went through overwhelming circumstances, is Job.  He lost all of his children and all of his wealth in one day and later losing his health; his wife gave up on him, and his friends told him that he was going through all this stuff because he deserved it. Although he questioned God, and even wished he had never been born; He didn't give up or give in.   What Job went through God allowed and when he passed the test and admitted that God’s ways were much higher than his the end of his life was even better than the beginning and the beginning was very good.  He was the richest man in the east according to Job 1:1-3.   God doesn't give up on us so we for sure shouldn't give up on Him.
So let’s get into today’s study.

God is Still God and God is Still Good

1.  What have we said throughout this study that we must try to do when we are overwhelmed, stressed and anxious?
That we should not focus on the situation but focus on God who is bigger than any circumstance or situation.  He already knew that you would be there and He will be with you through it right?
Image credit.  helpfortheheart.wordpress.com
2.  There are two foundational beliefs that we must have in order to go through overwhelming situations.  Do you remember what they are?
One is God is holy and God is good, and the other one is to believe in His promises.  We've talked about the promises of God the last few weeks and why it's so important is that we really know what they are.  We should never make our preferences God promises but believe in the ones He really made.  He has told us what they are and they are in the Bible.
This morning we want to remind ourselves that God is still God and that He is still good.
Here is some scriptures about God’s goodness
  • Psalm 136:1 (HCSB) Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love is eternal.
  • Psalm 31:19 (HCSB)How great is Your goodness that You have stored up for those who fear You and accomplished in the sight of everyone for those who take refuge in You.
  • Psalm 109:21 (HCSB) But You, Yahweh my Lord, deal ⌊kindly⌋ with me because of Your name; deliver me because of the goodness of Your faithful love.
  • Psalm 145:7 (HCSB)They will give a testimony of Your great goodness and will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.


When Our Circumstances Change God is Still Good

3.  Do we always think that God is good?  Be honest.  What about when you lose a loved one?  What about when you lose a great job?  What about when you become seriously ill?  What about when you or a loved one has a terrible accident leaving you or them permanently disabled?  What about those times?
We can’t let our circumstances dictate and shape what we believe about God.  If we do then we will always walk in fear.   Remember we have no control over the circumstances.  But if we can remember that God is good and we can remember what it says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.   God is in control and when we realize that we can walk in freedom from fear.
We all have doubts from time to time.  Let’s go back to our friend Job who as we said last week went through a very overwhelming time.  He had doubts at times about God’s goodness.  In fact he thought that God was doing all this stuff to him for no real reason.  That’s why he kept asking God for an audience.  
Here are some examples from a website that I found that show Job's doubts.
  • Job 7:20 (HCSB)  ⌊If⌋ I have sinned, what have I done to You, Watcher of mankind? Why have You made me Your target, so that I have become a burden to You? 
  • Job 9:21-23 (HCSB)21  Though I am blameless, I no longer care about myself; I renounce my life.22  It is all the same. Therefore I say, “He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.”23  When disaster brings sudden death, He mocks the despair of the innocent.
  • Job 19:5-6 (HCSB)5  If you really want to appear superior to me and would use my disgrace as evidence against me,6  then understand that it is God who has wronged me and caught me in His net.
  • All of chapter 13
God finally did answer Job starting in Chapter 38 but it wasn't what he wanted to hear and he never got the answers to the questions that he had but by the time that conversation was over Job no longer doubted that God loved him and the proof is in what happened later.  
Pastor Noble talks about another guy that we think of as a spiritual giant,  John the Baptist. A change in John's circumstances caused him to have doubts just like Job had when his circumstances changed.    Go to Matthew 11:11 to see what Jesus said about John the Baptist Matthew 11:11 (HCSB)11  “I assure you: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.   
John was the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.  Go to John 1:29-30 (HCSB)29  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!30  This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’  
Well John’s circumstances changed and he was thrown into prison he started to doubt who Jesus was.   Go to Matthew 11:2-3 (HCSB)2  When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent ⌊a message⌋ by his disciples  and asked Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
The point is that we all doubt God sometimes especially when our circumstances change from good to bad or from bad to worse.
4.  How do we know that while going through all his pain and doubt that Job didn't give up or not believe that God was good?  
Read what he said in Job 19:25-27 (HCSB)25  But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last.26  Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh.27  I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at ⌊Him⌋, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.
Job based his hope on the truth that God is God and that He is good.

All Things for Good

5. What is our foundational verse for this study?
Romans 8:28 (HCSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
Image credit.  beliefpics.christianpost.com
When we are being overwhelmed by life that sounds like a great bible verse but not reality when we consider the stuff we are going through. 
6.  What would you think that verse means?
It means it’s not over until God says it’s over.  I've said during this study that God knows the end from the beginning.  We have to wait on God’s timing.  I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago,  "Having Faith in God is Trusting in God’s Timing" when you get some time you should read it.  Let’s go to Isaiah 46:10 (HCSB)10  I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.
Here’s the point.  We only see the past and we see today. God sees to the end.  Let’s look at Job again.  His end was twice as blessed as his beginning but he couldn't see it while he was in the middle of his circumstances.   I like what Pastor Noble says about the way to think when you are in a situation where you say “I just don’t see how “God can turn my overwhelming circumstances into something good.”  A lot of us can agree with this, I know that I can.  Here is what Perry says in the Chapter “God is still God and God is Still Good”.
“I understand the feeling, and I've been there myself.  But this is the same God who turned a crucifixion into a resurrection, a bloodstained cross into an empty tomb.  And if He did it then, He can do it again.  He’s the same God".  
Here’s another way to look at it.  I like the way Pastor Noble the Star Wars series of movies.  It’s like seeing the first scene in on of the Star Wars movies or, as Perry says like looking at 15 seconds of one of the movies in the Star Wars series and then telling George Lucas that you already knew the entire plot and you have some suggestions on how the make the entire series better.  Just as George Lucas knew how he wanted the story to go God knows how He wants your story to go.  He’s not limited by our thoughts which are limited.  He's not worried about time because He is outside of time.  He is working things to make the end of our story or the resolution of the problem better than we can imagine.    Pain may be part of it but we aren’t unique in that.   Many of our biblical heroes went through pain.  Some of the was self inflicted and others not.
7.  Who are some of those heros?
We have talked about some of them during our study.   They are Job, Daniel and his three friends, and Joseph.  Then there's Moses, David, Paul, Jesus, and many more.  Sometimes the potential to be blessed is in direct proportion to the pain we are willing to endure, and we can endure it because God will be with us when it is the toughest.  Remember that nobody showed up for for Shadrach, Meshach, and  Abednego, until they were in the furnace.  
Here’s the example that Pastor Noble has at the end of chapter 34.  Your doctor has just told you that you have cancer and then tells you that it needs to be cut out of you.  You would be insane to then say that your doctor was not acting in your best interest because he wanted to wound, or cut you.  Your doctor's perfect response would be “Actually, it’s because I care about you that I’m willing to wound you to remove what will kill you if it remains inside you.
God loves you enough to allow you to be wounded if necessary to remove what will destroy you if it isn't removed.  It could be pride, greed, sexual sin, unforgiveness, or something else.  As Perry says God's goodness is defined by who He is, not by our own limited understanding of Him.  

God is not Silent

Sometimes when we are going through overwhelming circumstances and we pray and pray for the answer and it doesn't come right away we may think that God is silent and that He doesn't care, or that He can’t help.  
8.  What did we say last week and again today?
Don’t give up.  God knows what we’re going through, He knows that we’re frustrated, tired, and struggling, and want to quit.  But just hang on.  Remember Job.  He went a long time not hearing from God but he didn't give up and He was blessed double.  When waiting on God’s timing, which is perfect,  like Paul we need to keep things in perspective, an eternal perspective, not a current circumstance perspective.  
We've studied some of Paul’s letters to the churches and his ministry in the book of Acts.  Talk about overwhelming circumstances.  He was beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked.  Go to 2 Corinthians 11:25 (HCSB) Three times I was beaten with rods ⌊by the Romans⌋. Once I was stoned ⌊by my enemies⌋. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea.
9.  What was Paul’s perspective on all this?
Go to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (HCSB)16  Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.17  For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.18  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Image credit. Lynn Kane via Pinterest
I keep going back to Job because he is a great example of why we shouldn't give up.  Go again to Job 42:12-17 (HCSB)12  So the LORD blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.13  He also had seven sons and three daughters.14  He named his first ⌊daughter⌋ Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch.15  No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers.16  Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.17  Then Job died, old and full of days.  


Job was twice as wealthy as before.  He had the same number of children as before, his marriage came back together otherwise he wouldn't have had the children, and after Job prayed for them his friends blessed him with stuff.  


The One Who Never Quit



Job’s story is wonderful but there’s another one about somebody not giving up.  


10.  Who was that person?


When you want to quit think about this person. Think about Jesus.  He was betrayed, attacked, beaten, and killed.  We can’t even imagine how much He suffered.  Jesus is our example.  He’s the one that we should pattern ourselves after.  He didn’t quit under severely overwhelming circumstances.  Yes we can say but He’s Jesus.  Yes He is but remember when He walked the earth He was a man just like us.  He didn't quit and neither should we.  We've said it many times before, God is greater than any and everything that you’re going through or will go through so don’t give up on the God who has never given up on you.  


The Weight of the World



Sometimes when we are going through an overwhelming time we feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders  and that we are alone, that nobody wants to hear about what we’re going through.  You are just going to have to deal with this one on your own.  I know that I have told people that before.  After reading this book and going through this study I hope that I never say that to anybody ever again.  I wrote a post for my website after the Robin Williams suicide called “Christians and Depression”  Here’s what I wrote:
“ We were not made to be alone remember in Genesis what God said about Adam?  
Genesis 2:18 (HCSB) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”
When Jesus was facing his crucifixion that night in the garden of Gethsemane he took Peter, James and John with Him so that he was not alone.
Matthew 26:36-37 (HCSB) 36  Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37  Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.
You aren't the only one going through tough times. You are not a bad person because you are struggling even though others seem to be able to conquer the same thing you are dealing with.   Remember that you, as a believer, are a son or daughter of God, and a brother or sister of Christ, no matter what the situation.  And your Father and Brother are greater than the situation.  
Here’s the proof and is the way that Pastor Perry Noble ends his book:
“Jesus walked out of a grave as proof to us that we can walk out of what is holding us down.
The weight that is pressing down on you doesn't have to define you, because no matter what you're facing right now...Jesus is greater than your biggest doubt. Jesus is greater than your deepest regret.  Jesus is greater than your impossible situation.  Jesus is greater than your most overwhelming circumstances.  The empty tomb is proof that nothing can hold Jesus back.  And if He lives in you, nothing can hold you back either."
 Keep this in mind and you will truly win the war against worry.
God bless you.
In light of all the things that are going on in the Middle East today many Christians and others are wondering if these things are fulfillment of prophecy and a sign that the end is near.  I thought that we would take a look at a book of the Bible that a lot of people use to say that these events are fulfillment of prophecy. No it’s not Revelations.  It’s the book that you have to understand if you want to understand Revelations.   It’s a book we used during this study, Daniel.  We are going to start in Chapter 7.   
It is not my intent to prove or disprove what people are saying about whether these things are the fulfillment of prophecy or not.  My goal is to equip you through study so you can make your own determinations. 


Monday, August 25, 2014

Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry Lesson 11 - I Am a Friend of God


I am a friend of God
If you want to study along with our Sunday study group, and get the most from it, you will need to get the book "Overwhelmed:  Winning the War Against Worry" by Perry Noble.  You can get it from Amazon by clicking the title of the book link that is above or clicking on the image of the book at the end of the blog.  Join us as we learn to win the war against worry.

Introduction  



This is from one of the readings from the Streams In the Desert Reading Plan on YouVersion.  I seem to find one that fits our study every week.


2 Corinthians 2:14 (HCSB) 14  But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
God wins his greatest victories through apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a season, and God allows it. But then he comes in and upsets the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, "frustrates the ways of the wicked" (Psalm 146:9). Consequently, he gives us a much greater victory than we would have known had he not allowed the enemy seemingly to triumph in the first place.
The story of the three Hebrew young men who were thrown into the fiery furnace is a familiar one (see Daniel 3:13-27). There was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to suffer a terrible defeat. We have all been in situations where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can only imagine what a complete defeat this appeared to be for Daniel's friends. They were thrown into the terrible flames while their enemies watched to see them burn. Yet the enemy was greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire … This apparent defeat resulted in a miraculous victory.
Suppose these three men had lost their faith and courage and had complained, saying, "Why didn't God keep us out of the furnace!" They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified.
If there is a great trial in your life today, do not acknowledge it as a defeat. Instead, continue by faith to claim the victory through him who is able to make you "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37), and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. May we learn that in all the difficult places God takes us, he is giving us opportunities to exercise our faith in him that will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify his name.

Review


Last week in Lesson 10, where we talked about chapters 26-29 of our book, we asked the question Does God Really Love Me?  We asked that because often when we are in overwhelming situations and circumstances we ask that question ourselves.  We think that if He really does love me then I wouldn't be in this situation and under all this stress and worry.  


We described  love not only as in 1 Corinthians 13 but also as Perry Noble's description of; “love is determined by what we’re willing to seek out and what we’re will to sacrifice for.”   Using that description we can say that God does love us based on Romans 8:32 (HCSB) 32  He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?  


The problem is us we sometimes have trouble accepting His love.  The obstacles causing us to doubt include our past sins, our performance, and our present circumstances.


Then we talked about John, the disciple who said he was the one that Jesus loved.  We found out that he wasn't always so lovable.   He was a fisherman not one of the elite, he and his brother wanted to wipe out an entire village because the villagers didn't want Jesus and the disciples there, we are pretty sure that he was involved in the argument as to who was the greatest right after Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him.  Despite all this yet we know that Jesus did, in fact love him because when Jesus was on the cross he said  John 19:26-27 (HCSB)..........Woman, here is your son.”27  Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
 

Jesus' Friend


We’re going to continue talking about John, and the other disciples today.  John called himself the one that Jesus loved and Jesus called him, the other disciples, and us too, His friends.  


1.  What is the definition of a friend, what is a friend?  


The dictionary says that a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.


Proverbs 17:17 (HCSB) A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.  

We don’t have very many friends like that.   Some of them are like those in Proverbs 18:24 (HCSB)24  A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.


Let’s get back to John and look at some reasons that Jesus may have had second thoughts about calling him a true friend.  This may help us in why we think that our past and our performance would keep God from loving us.  


2.  What did John do when Jesus was arrested and then crucified?


At least he was there.  The other guys, with the exception of Peter, took off and Peter denied that he even knew Jesus.  John was there at the phony trial, he watched everything and he was the only one of the eleven at the crucifixion.  But he didn't say anything to anybody.


3.  What would you have done?


Most of us, if we’re honest, wouldn't have done anything either. If we thought speaking up would have only meant that we were laughed at, or maybe kicked out of the place we may have said something. If we thought our lives were in danger or that we would be put in jail, and John may have thought, would we have said anything?  


John had gotten close to Jesus but didn't identify with him when times got really difficult. Just like Peter.  The same with us sometimes.


4.  Can you think of times that you could have and maybe should have spoken up about an unethical or immoral situation or action and you didn't say or anything?


I have many times.  


Afterwards you feel horrible don’t you?  You think that you failed God.   You should have done or said something but you were afraid that you would lose a job, or you would lose a relationship with someone,   or you would lose some money, any number of things, but now you feel horrible.


The thing that we should do in that situation is to ask for forgiveness, realize that God does forgive, and then move on.  


Falling Back into Our Old Ways



Many times rather than asking for forgiveness we become so stressed and guilty about what we did or didn't do we try to run from God and our guilt.  That’s what John and the disciples did they went back to their old ways.  They went fishing.


Go to John 20:19-23 (NKJV)19  Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.21  So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."22  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.23  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."


5. After Jesus Gave them this pep talk what did John and a few of the others do?


From the Scripture that we just read we know that the disciples now know that Jesus had risen because they have actually seen and heard him, but rather than going out as Jesus had sent them, they went back to their former occupation- fishing. 

John 21:1-3 (HCSB)1  After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed Himself in this way:2  Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples were together.3  “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Going back will not
bring satisfaction


Pastor Noble says, and it may be true, that they went back to their former occupation because they were afraid that because they abandoned Jesus when He was arrested and crucified, that they may not have been convinced that He really forgiven them.  So they were going back to something that they were familiar with before they met Him.  


We can be the same way.  We are fired up about the Lord, wake up in the morning with praise and prayer, in church every time the doors open, witnessing, and testifying, then we blow it, we make a bad decision, we do something that we thought we would never do again.  Then we become so guilty that we think, as we said last week, how can God love me after I have done this.  And we go back to our old ways, doing the same old things that we now know are outside the will of God.


Then some of us self-righteous Christians will help you along with those feelings of guilt.  We will tell you that you couldn't really have been saved in the first place.  If you really trust God you would have never gone back to your old ways.   

But going back to your old ways won’t solve anything.  It won’t take away the stress and anxiety caused by the guilt you feel.  Look again at John 21:3 (HCSB)3  “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.   


We can walk away and go back to our old ways of doing things but we won’t be satisfied.  True satisfaction and joy only come through an active relationship with Jesus


Jesus Still Called Them His Friends



Even after they abandoned him when He was arrested,  didn't believe the women when they told them that He had risen, after meeting them and sending them out and they went fishing, Jesus still called John and the rest of the disciples, His friends.  

 He called them His friends  before these things happened and He still called them His friends afterwards.  Here is what he said at the Passover meal or what we call the Last Supper, John 15:13-15 (HCSB) 13  No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14  You are My friends if you do what I command you.15  I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn't know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father (emphasis mine).  He called them His friends three times in these three verses.


Here is what He said when they had gone back to their “old ways” John 21:4-5 (NIRV) Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore. But the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, "Friends, don't you have any fish?" "No," they answered. (emphasis mine)


Jesus never changed His mind about them and He doesn't change His mind about us.  


5  How can we know that God never changes His mind about us even if we walk away and go back to our old ways?


Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)38  For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, ⌊hostile⌋ powers, 39  height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!


The things that we did before we became believers and those things that we have done since then can’t ever separate us from the love of God, but it’s up to us to accept that love.  When we do it will help us go through those situations that cause stress and anxiety.  God is with and and will never forsake you.  Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV)5  Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."6  So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"


God Loves You so Don’t Give Up



We have talked for several weeks, in fact every week that we have been in this study, about the love that God has for us.  I hope that we now realize that He really does love us in spite of what we've done in the past, in spite of what we may think is poor performance in our service, and in spite of our current situations.  Knowing that God loves us should encourage us not to give up.


6.  What are some of the things that can happen can cause us to feel trapped or hopeless and tempted to give up?


  • Loss of a job
  • Very serious injury
  • Car quits and you have no way to get to work and no money to buy one and bad credit
  • Marriage turmoil
  • Pressure from creditors
  • Rebellious children


When we are in those kinds of stressful and anxious situations we are getting advice from everybody and we don't really want to hear it. We want out of the overwhelming situation.


The example in the book in chapter 31 of the lady who gets trapped in the doors of the train at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta is a perfect example of somebody trapped in a situation and people pulling at one end and people pushing at the other all trying to help but nothing does.  We just feel like giving up.


7.  Ever been there?


I have many times.


8.  What is it that we don’t want to hear at these times?


We don’t really want to hear how much God loves us and that He will never leave us or forsake us, or how powerful God is, and He can take us through all of the situations that stress us out.  We don't want to hear it. We just want out of those situations.    Although we don’t want to hear that stuff it is true and Scripture encourages us to never give up.  One scripture  I quote all the time is the one I just mentioned where God says that He will never leave us or forsake us.  So no matter how tough it is the Bible says don’t give up.  


The Story of a Man Who Didn't Give Up



We are going to talk about the man who, in my opinion, was second only to Jesus in dealing with the most overwhelming circumstances, recorded in the Bible.   Paul had some tough ones, and the disciple John had a tough one being imprisoned on the island of Patmos. Peter and many of the early saints were killed but those things are not recorded in the Bible.  The man we’re going to talk about is Job.  


We did an extensive study in Job last year and while we know that Job complained, and questioned God, and even wished he was dead at times, he never gave up.  He never cursed God like the devil thought he would and that his wife encouraged him to do.  He never lost his integrity.  


With all that Job went through it would have been easy for him to give up and give in but he didn't.


Like Job, none of us plans for overwhelming things to happen to us they just do.  Some of it our fault some of it not. Let’s face it because we live in a fallen world life can be hard at times.  Just because we are Christians and believers we aren't insulated from those hard overwhelming times.


Job was very successful man before his overwhelming troubles started


9.  What do we know about Job before his troubles?


  • He was a good man and he feared God - Job 1:1 (HCSB)1  There was a man in the country of Uz named Job. He was a man of perfect integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil.
  • He was rich - Job 1:2-3 (HCSB)2  He had seven sons and three daughters.3  His estate included 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and a very large number of servants. Job was the greatest man among all the people of the east.
  • He loved his family - Job 1:4-5 (HCSB)4  His sons used to take turns having banquets at their homes. They would send an invitation to their three sisters to eat and drink with them.5  Whenever a round of banqueting was over, Job would send ⌊for his children⌋ and purify them, rising early in the morning to offer burnt offerings for all of them. For Job thought: Perhaps my children have sinned, having cursed God in their hearts. This was Job’s regular practice.


10.  Then what happened?  


God allowed Satan to take everything away from him.   
  • His wealth - Job 1:9-17
  • His children - Job 1:18-19
  • His health - Job 2:4-8
  • His wife’s support - Job 2:9
  • His friends got self-righteous on him Jobe 8-37


11.  What was Job’s response to all this did he give up?


No he didn't give up.


After he lost his wealth and his children this is what he said:


Job 1:20-22 (HCSB)20  Then Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped,21  saying: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.22  Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.  


God didn't take it away but He did allow Satan to take it away.  That is something for us to remember when things happen to us.   God either does it Himself or allows it.  So as we have said ever since we started this study God is in total control.


After he lost his wife’s support he said:

Job 2:10 (HCSB)10  “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.


With his friend’s telling to admit that he had done something to deserve all his trouble Job maintained his innocence.  While going through all of this pain he didn't give in or give up.
Don't Give Up


Pain Has A Name



Pastor Noble gives pain five names as they relate to what Job went through and which we go through.  


12.   What are the names Pastor Noble gives pain?


Physical Pain, Emotional Pain, Financial Pain, Relational Pain, and Spiritual Pain


  1. Physical Pain - Job’s health was shot.  We may have had friends or family going through illness that wracked their bodies with pain.  Cancer may be the worst. When it happens to us or to a loved one we want God to heal them or us.  Physical pain can cause people to question God and ask why? We want him to heal. During these times God encourages us to come to Him.  Psalm 69:29 (HCSB)29  But as for me—poor and in pain— let Your salvation protect me, God.  2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (HCSB)8  Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me.9  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.  This is very difficult I know but God will always be there with you and loves you even during the pain.


  1. Emotional Pain - Ruth has gone through this far too many times.  I have gone through the deaths of two children but Ruth three children, her parents, and all of her siblings.  That was over many many years.  Can you imagine losing your entire family in one day as Job did and as we see far too often today.  Emotional pain can come from other traumatic experiences as well, sexual abuse, divorce, losing a job, etc.  That pain is just as real as physical pain and can sometimes result in physical pain.  During these times we doubt God too and ask questions.  That’s okay you can talk to God and ask why.  Like Job we may not get the answer now, or the answer that we want to hear, but what we do know is that God is bigger than the pain and that He will be with us through it.  The pain may never go away but with God we can endure it.


  1. Financial Pain - Job lost everything.  We may have lost a job and have lot’s of debt.  We may get sick and not have enough insurance and the medical bills keep mounting up.  We soon forget about all the financial blessings in the past.  When we have financial pain we should try to remember Philippians 4:19 (HCSB)19  And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


  1. Relational Pain - Job’s wife told him to kill himself.  That doesn't sound like they were in a great relationship does it.  His friends were saying that he deserved to be where he was.  We may be at a time where we a marriage of friendship is ending;  maybe issues with a child or parent.  We've all had relational pain or may be going through it now it’s real and sometimes we just want to give up.  It’s at those times that we should really try to remember that we have a relationship with our Savior who actually calsl us his brothers (that includes males and females) Hebrews 2:11-12 (HCSB)11  For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers,12  saying: I will proclaim Your name to My brothers; I will sing hymns to You in the congregation. (emphasis mine)

  1. Spiritual Pain


13.  What was it that Job’s friends believed that people still believe today?


That God makes good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.  If you are good and do everything right God will bless you.  If you’re bad or don’t have enough faith then then bad things will happen to you.  


14.  What’s the problem with that logic?


How did the book of Job start?  Job 1:1 (HCSB)  There was a man in the country of Uz named Job. He was a man of perfect integrity, who feared God and turned away from evil. So he was good right?


15.  Did Jesus disciples have faith?


Many of them were killed because of their faith.  What about some of the people in, what I call the Faith Hall of Fame” Hebrews 11:35-40 (HCSB)35  Women received their dead—they were raised to life again. Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection, 36  and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment.  37  They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated.  38  The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, ⌊hiding⌋ in caves and holes in the ground.  39  All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40  since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.  


16.  What did Jesus tell His disciples when He was nearing His crucifixion?


John 16:33 (HCSB)33  I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”


What He was saying is that although things will get tough and you are overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious don’t give up because He is bigger than the problem, circumstance, or situation.  God is still good even though this fallen world is bad.


What Can Happen When You Don’t Give Up?



Job has gone through hell.  He has lost all his possessions, his children, his wife is disgusted with him and their situation, his friends have said that he must have deserved all this. He is a mess and his situation is in a word, overwhelming.  In chapters 38-41 of Job he finally gets God to talk to him, although he never gets an answer to his question of why.  What he does realize is that God is
Your latter will be greate
sovereign and that His ways are above our ways
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)8  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.  9  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.


16.  After all that Job went through what happened in the end when he didn't give up?


Job 42:12-17 (HCSB)12  So the LORD blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.
13  He also had seven sons and three daughters.14  He named his first ⌊daughter⌋ Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch.15  No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers.16  Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.
17  Then Job died, old and full of days.  


So let’s take a look.   Job was twice as wealthy as before.  He had the same number of children as before, his marriage came back together otherwise he wouldn't have had the children, and after Job prayed for them, his friends blessed him with stuff.  


The same thing can happen for us although it’s not guaranteed.  The only thing that is guaranteed is that God loves us and will always be with us.  He wants us to know that although there are times that we are overwhelmed we shouldn't give up.  


Here’s  the way Pastor Noble puts it at the end of the chapter about not giving up.  I’m going to paraphrase what he said.   We shouldn't give up on God because God hasn't given up on us.  If God really had given up on you then how can you explain how I found first the Reading Plan on YouVersion the “Overwhelmed Challenge” which led me to the book we are studying now.  A book that reminds you that God has great plans for you.  Is it just a coincidence?  Absolutely not.  God knew us before we were born.  He had a plan for us all along.  That lets us know that He hasn't given up on us.  So don’t give up on Him.  


Let’s try to finish with the book next week.  Read Chapters 34 and 35 and the last part titled “A Final Word:  The Weight of the World.






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