THE LIE THAT THREATENS TO UNDO US

screwtapeletters1 The lie that Luther battled during the Reformation was

“you have to earn God’s love.”

The lie that we battle during suffering, and that “this world with devils filled” whispers to us constantly is:

“you have lost God’s love.”

That’s an easy lie to believe. When you are suffering, if you have an awareness of sin, you think, “That’s right. I’m an idiot. I don’t deserve God’s love. ”

C. S. Lewis wrote “Screwtape Letters” in which the devil (Screwtape) writes from hell to his apprentice, “Wormwood” on earth.  My daughter Sally and I went to the play that has recently been made out of this classic book. Max McLean played Screwtape, and a female gymnast played a little demon who helped him down in hell. She would lithely climb a rope ladder to send and receive letters to earth via a bank tube. When Wormwood’s response had good news — that the client had believed the lie and was backing away from God, she would leap from the top of the ladder and do cartwheels and flips joyfully across the stage. But if the news was bad, if the client was actually trusting God in the midst of suffering and pressing into Him, she would shriek, claw the air as she fell, and somehow land safely, like a cat with nine lives.

My daughter Sally has suffered a great deal in her young life. When we went to the play she had recently made it through a long and severe depression, but was then battling with infertility.  When we left, we were both contemplative. I asked her, “Honey — what have you learned in these last five years of tremendous suffering?”

She said, “I have learned that God is good and that God is in control. If He gives me the desire of my heart, I will be so thankful. But if He does not…” And then she screeched and clawed the air — and we both laughed.

And though this world with devils filled

should threaten to undo us

we will not fear, for God has willed

His truth to triumph through us

The prince of darkness grim

We tremble not for him,

His rage we can endure,

for lo, his doom is sure

One little word shall fell him

Screwtape Letters was inspired by the book of Job. We will return to Job so that we can see how though God gave Satan a lot of rope — it was only enough to hang himself.

Questions — feel free to do one or two a day. They are meaty, so chew slowly.

1.  Mike Mason, in The Gospel According to Job, says it is unusual to be rich and righteous, but it can happen. How do you see this in Job’s life in Job 1:1-5?  Look carefully at phrases and practices.

2. What did Satan believe about Job according to Job 1:9-11? Can you see, when you look at your own heart, why Satan’s statement might have some legitimacy to it? How does loss reveal our hearts?

3. God is omniscient, so knew Job loved Him for Himself — but Satan did not know this.  Summarize Job’s losses in chapter 1 and his response.

4. (Challenge question) In the whole book of Job — God never explains to Job why he is suffering. Why, do you think? (If any of you love Tim Keller like I do — I recommend his series on Job: Job — a Path through Suffering at Redeemer.com — Keller explains why God couldn’t tell Job.)

5. Sing Matt Redmond’s Blessed Be Thy Name — a contemporary version of Job’s response. (I am confident you techy sisters can find the lyrics or video versions!) Share your contemplations.

6. Memorize verse 3 of A Mighty Fortress. Contemplations? One internet source if the blue letter Bible which will give you Scripture references for the lyrics for great hymns. Share your contemplations.

7. Do a little research on Screwtape Letters. Give us some background, some key points, some ways it has impacted you if you read it.

8. What was Job’s second test in Job 2:1-10? What was Satan’s thinking? How did Job respond?

9. What application does this have to your life?

Lord, I ask Your protection over my sisters as they work, for I know the enemy does not like to be exposed. You are greater, and we trust you. Give us wisdom, give us trust, and give us your quickening as we press into You. Thank You for each woman, and for her desire to know You, love You, and love her sisters.

In Jesus Name

P. S. If any of you are in driving distance of Kansas City, I’m giving a free retreat on The God of All Comfort with Amy Shreve on April 17th. More details and registration on my website.  (They suggest a donation of $20 — but it really is a donation.) Love to have you fill up your car with friends and come!

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Could you say a prayer for me today, please? I saw a doctor last night for migraines and he is sending me to a specialist and possibly a MRI today. Please pray for an answer as they have become debilitating over the past three weeks. We are driving to visit family on the East coast Friday so I am also praying this doesn’t hinder our trip.
Thank you so much, it means so much to know you are lifting me up.
Kim T.

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    Dear Gracious Father, be with Kim. Help them to get to the bottom of why she’s having these headaches, and help her to get them under control. I also pray for this family trip, and ask You to prepare the way for that. In Jesus name, Amen.

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      praying, too!

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    Lord, I agree with my sisters in prayer for Kim. Lord walk so very close with her now. May she walk in Your perfect peace. Bring to her the healing that You have for her. I pray Lord for wisdom and understanding for the doctor she saw today. If she did have the MRI today I pray that it would be a clear picture and that You would also give wisdom and understanding to the doctor reading the picture. May he not miss any minute thing that may be pictured there. Please provide Lord out of Your abundant riches financially for the diagnosis and treatment of these migraines. Please bring healing before Kim’s trip. Lord may it be a blessed time with family and a much needed rest. May the preparations come together perfectly. We praise You Lord because as Sally said, You are good and You are in control. Amen

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      Thank you for your kind prayers, The eye specialist didn’t find anything (praise the Lord) and will send me to a different doctor when we get home from vacation.

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    Praying for you Kim..!

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1. Wealth and righteousness:
Job’s “barriers” to righteousness (i.e., why it would be difficult for a rich man to be righteous).

Job had a large family, owned “seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants.” Managing all this would take considerable time; yet it was Job’s “custom” to have regular time for God. Further, Job may have been tempted to worry about losing his stuff or to feel self-sufficient or self-important for obtaining all the stuff. He also would have experienced difficulties related to the behaviors of his children and his servants. Plus, the degree of power, wealth or greatness that Job experienced leads many people toward arrogance.

Indications that Job was righteous:
Job 1:1 “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” After Job’s sons held extended feasts in their homes, Job was concerned that his sons had sinned and cursed against God. Therefore, early in the morning after the feasting was over, Job sacrificed a burnt offering for each of his children. Verse 5 says that “This was Job’s regular custom.” In other words, Job was consistent or faithful (and early in the morning). The sacrifices also demonstrate that Job wasn’t claiming righteousness based on his own behavior or his inherent goodness.

According to verse 3, Job was “the greatest man among all the people of the East.” If he achieved that distinction, he was being watched! And yet he was called blameless and upright. When people are in the spotlight, even if they are “good guys,” others usually find something wrong with them. Job was a “good guy” despite being in the spotlight.

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1. Mike Mason, in The Gospel According to Job, says it is unusual to be rich and righteous, but it can happen. How do you see this in Job’s life in Job 1:1-5? Look carefully at phrases and practices.
Verse 1 says that he was perfect in integrity, feared God and turned away from evil. Verses 2-4 tell of all of his wealth both in goods and in family (it sounds like his children were close to each other which would be quite a blessing. Verse 5 says that he was concerned for the salvation of his children which is righteous. He rose early in the morning to offer sacrifices for them in case they had sinned by cursing God in their hearts (could this be what we call a bad attitude).

2. What did Satan believe about Job according to Job 1:9-11? Can you see, when you look at your own heart, why Satan’s statement might have some legitimacy to it? How does loss reveal our hearts?
Satan said that Job’s fear of God was self serving. He said that Job loved God because of the way He blessed him. He said that if God took away His blessing Job would curse Him. When I look at my own heart I see that there is a certain amount of legitimacy in that because I love blessing, comfort and health. However, only God knows if I love these things more than Him. Loss will reveal the motives of my heart to me.
Satan knows nothing of love and righteousness(I am familiar with Mr. Screwtape). He just knows his own evil heart and projected that onto Job. These verses have a certain amount of comfort for me because they prove to me that Satan does not know what I am thinking. He can take his best guess as he did with Job and he can be so crafty, but he can’t read my mind or understand the virtues of God. That is why words are so powerful. What we say gives him clues to what our struggles are.

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2. Satan believed that Job feared and worshiped God because of all the stuff God had given him. The lie that impacts me is related to this one — and probably worse. Not only am I thankful for blessings (and complain when I think I’m missing something), but I’ve turned it into “I must be doing something right;” therefore, God is blessing me. When I’m thinking that way, I’ve missed the meaning and richness of God’s grace.

In life and work, we sometimes see rewards for hard work. For example, if I work more hours, I may get paid more or, at least, get more kudos. When I’ve shown up more regularly for church or participated in leadership, I get more “strokes.” And maybe I even like some people because they affirm me.

When I think that I can earn God’s blessing by being better or when I’m more thankful to God when life seems easier, I’m deceived. 1) I’m not acknowledging God’s holiness, my sinfulness, or recognizing that I can never earn his favor. 2) I’m denying that God’s perspective is so much greater than mine. God desires the best for me, and has provided me the opportunity to become more like Christ. My perspective is so limited that I often desire comfort and happiness (including “good” happiness — family and church relationships, etc) and can’t see God’s purpose of conforming me to Christ and preparing me to spend eternity with Him.

I might be “with it” enough as a Christian to challenge overt statements (and maybe even some implied ones!) indicating that God’s grace is related to my behavior. However, the lies seem more subtle when I’m not spending much time with the Lord. It’s so easy for me to become more conformed to people around me than to Christ. When that happens, I attempt to “mold” God into the world’s patterns. e.g., You provide services; I pay my bills! And if those services aren’t what I expect. . . the payment may be delayed. Satan’s beliefs about Job were “normal” beliefs about how people interact with each other. Praise God that He isn’t limited by “people standards.”

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    Very, very insightful answer, Renee.

Just checked into the new assignment and it is too late to respond tonight. Wanted to let everyone know that I amen your prayers and am praying for you, too.

Renee, what you have said above has really struck a chord with me, especially the part about the lies seeming more subtle when I’m not spending enough time with the Lord. Ouch!

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I’m praying for you too, Kim. Bless you, Joyce

3. Job’s losses in chapter 1 included all his animals, all his children, and all his servants except those 4 who became messengers of the losses. What interested me as I thought about these verses was that Job did not lose his wife. Assuming that Satan does not show preference for wives and had a desire to destroy Job in every way possible, her survival speaks to the sanctity of marriage – the two shall become one. Even though Job’s wife, who also suffered these losses … and a mother’s loss is a great one … was ready to curse God, Job’s faithfulness protected her. She was so despondant after losing her security and her children that when her husband began losing his health she begged him to just die and put an end to all this suffering. That would have left her a widow with no children to care for her. Even when Job’s wife cursed God, Satan could not touch her. She is Job’s other half. Job, the righteous, called her a foolish woman. He reminded her that the good came from God and they gladly accepted it, now they had to graciously accept the bad. Job believed that God is good. And when the battle was won, she, along with Job, received abundance and more children.

As a mother who has “lost” her children in many ways and often had to struggle to let my love for them override my dislike of them, I can look back and see how important my marriage was through all those struggles…and is now. Our oneness was often challenged by one or the other of us being ready to abandon ship and give up on these boys, but the other always provided the faith to keep trying. I’ve never considered this in light of Job’s marriage. Today I offer thanksgiving to the All-Knowing God who put my husband’s strength together with my weaknesses and vise versa, preparing us for the battle we were about to face. God is Good!

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    This is so good, Janet. I don’t think I ever really stopped to consider that Job’s wife was also suffering everything he was, too. Perhaps there should have been two books in the Bible, the book of Job, and the other Job’s wife?!
    I like how you bring out her mother’s heart, and her deep loss in the death of her children. She was hurting as only a mother can hurt. YOu show compassion for this woman.

I am so thankful to God for the wise women participating in this study. So blessed. Glad to hear from you again, Joyce! And how quick you all were to pray for Kim.

Loved each of your responses — Anne’s on Mr. Screwtape. Just heard Keller’s first sermon on Job again — he’s so good — he says Satan says “WHat’s love got to do with it? Nobody really loves!” And your thoughts Anne on how Satan can’t see our hearts. That is a comfort. That God knew that what would be accomplished was exactly the opposite of Satan’s plan.

Renee — so huge about realizing we can’t earn God’s blessing. I’d love to get peoples takes on the three movies produced by that little church — Fireproof,
Facing the Giants and I think the other was something like Flywheel. There was so much good in them — but it bothered me that everything went right when they trusted God. The used car salesman repented and got rich, the football team repented and won, the couple got pregnant, the husband did good things and the marriage was saved… it’s such a subtle but dangerous thing — or do you think I’m too judgmental? (Because I am!)

Janet — you are so full of grace. You teach me something. My attitude toward Mrs. Job is that Satan allowed her to live because she was a thorn in Job’s side — but you are so much more gracious toward her, and that’s good for me, who has a judgmental spirit.

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    A perspective on “Facing the Giants” — or probably more of a perspective on Christians on winning teams: Frequently, Christian schools (high schools or colleges) are on teams that play each other. The winners most likely are not determined by which team prays the most or by which team members are the “most godly.” God’s plans are so much bigger than wins/losses by sports teams. Think how characteristics of godliness might be equally (if not more) demonstrated by “losing” teams when team members demonstrate perseverance, graciousness, opportunities for those who might not otherwise have them, etc.

    Here’s my judgmental spirit (and sort of a tangent!!)– and recent pondering about some sporting events. Some sports lead to greater likelihood of head injuries; and taking risks may be part of winning games. Head injuries suffered in some sports are associated with increased likelihood of early dementia. People who smoke definitely are “judged” because of participating in a behavior that jeopardizes their health. I’m not sure that a sport with a high risk of head injury is much better than smoking. Back to movies: I wonder how much of contemporary Christianity’s perspective of honoring God by being a sports celebrity is an American cultural thing. Like Job, sports celebrities are in the public eye. If we compare the sports heroes to Job, perhaps the losses or poor “performances” reveal much more than the wins.

    Dee, I agree with you. For balance, the next movies could be about faithfulness during losing seasons, repenting and still going broke, infertility, etc. Movies that portray Christians as coming out on top during life on earth are very similar to secular inspirational-type “happily ever after” movies; the difference is that the “good guys” are Christians. On the other hand, I think some of these movies have introduced people to the Lord. It just would be more faithful to Scripture to have the stories reflecting God’s faithfulness (and people’s obedience) even when the results aren’t “happily ever after” on earth.

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      Dee I have seen all three movies. I also live across the state from that little church. I have never considered your perspective of the message. I do think we Southern Baptists seem to think we are the only ones who ‘understand’ God’s ways the best. Our denomination was recently chided for being arrogant. I can see your point because I see it every Sunday. As I have learned trusting Christ doesn’t mean easy street. I saw something recently that really bothered me. A real estate developer is a member of the church I attend and his fleet of SUV’s are advertisements. Moving billboards. Anyway one day I was at the post office, which is located across the street from church, and saw one of his vehicles strategically placed in the parking lot where it could be seen. That bothered me because I consider even the parking lot of the church to be holy ground and it’s not to be used for man’s purposes. Although my pastor may not see it the health and wealth gospel is creeping in. As I heard in a recent message from Dr. Tony Evans so many people want the blessings and not the Blesser.

        I just want to add one more comment. When I posted last night I was tired and just spoke off the top of my head. I think what Dee saw as the subtle underlying theme of the three movies is ‘life is tough but we’ll still live happily ever after on this earth.’
        I’d like to say that I enjoy the ponderings of everyone. We represent the Body of Christ in different denominations and we each add our perspective of eternity.
        I was once bound by hypocrisy/legalism. I am now in complete freedom in Christ. I’m learning my tendencies and trying to be more sensitive to everyone’s right to express their opinion even if I happen not to agree with it. It’s frustrating to discuss spiritual topics with someone who thinks everyone should think their way.

        Tammy — appreciate so your spirit and your comments.

        Praying for your Women’s Ministry meeting!

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#3. God is omniscient, so knew Job loved him for himself – but Satan did not know this. Summarize Job’s losses in chapter 1 and his response.

The two things Job lost here were his family, and his wealth. Wow, pretty devastating for anyone! They say the loss of a child is one of the most painful experiences one could have, Job not only lost one child, but all his children. And losing his wealth, I think about what comes along with that also – the feeling of self importance, prestige, honor.

I love Job’s response, it says he got up and “tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship..” Wow! I think to myself, how could Job worship at such a time as this unless he truly believed, as Sally mentioned, that God was good.

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I have a question about something that’s been bugging me. I’ve been thinking about heaven a lot lately, and my radar has been activated when people talk about “rewards in heaven.” I’ve also heard “he will have to answer for that in heaven.” Developing more of an eternal perspective has been helping me to see life, death, and grieving (particularly the loss of believers) in a much bigger (and less painful) way.

But the rewards topic confuses me. Obviously, God’s grace and His nature are far greater than I can understand. But when rewards are discussed, the context seems to be that of earning rewards or forfeiting them because of behavior. Scripture talks about rewards in heaven; so I do believe in their existence. But if obtaining God’s blessings on earth isn’t a matter of pushing God’s buttons or doing the right thing to get stuff, why is it supposed to be that way in heaven? Somehow, that idea seems inconsistent with God’s nature. It kinda feels to me like a human thing in which someone finally absorbs the idea that we can’t buy our own salvation or blessings on earth, but then says, “But yeah, I’m still right and I’m going to earn my status before God — and be better than you are. So there!!”

SO, should I seek rewards in heaven? Am I supposed to be concerned about not getting enough rewards? What about if I would rather focus on knowing God and living for Him? And why would I want to be in charge of a bunch of people or stuff in heaven when that seems more like a punishment to me than a reward? I suppose I could look forward to liking stuff in heaven that I don’t like now in order to better worship God.

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    A little more thinking :)
    I do know that the Bible says to store up treasures in heaven, rather than on earth. Somehow, the word treasures doesn’t bug me so much.

    I’ll take a stab at this because I think it is fun to suppose what happens next. First, a disclaimer: Jesus said this is not for us to know, that it is beyond our understanding, that it is God business, not our business. That’s why I say it’s fun to suppose, because if we try to speak to this with some sort of authority, we are simply foolish. So,given that, here’s what I picture:

    Catholics talk about purgatory, a sort of holding tank while God (or St. Peter) sorts out our goods and our bads and makes the call on heaven or hell. I kind of like the purgatory idea but here’s how I think the sorting-out goes. The bright light we supposedly see drawing us from this life to the next takes us to a “judgment place”. That place is filled with big file cabinets and a giant movie screen. Jesus is there. He says we are going to do a review of your life. He looks you up in the files, and, as he is doing so, you remember all the things you did wrong. Jesus laughs. No, no, he says. Let me show you what’s in your file. With that the room dims and the screen comes to life. Jesus begins to read. But instead of reading all those things you did wrong, he reads things like the time you were in first grade and the nasty kid no one liked forgot his sandwich, so you shared yours with him. As Jesus reads this, you watch that little kid grow up into something worthy and Jesus tells you that without your unexpected kindness, that kid would have grown into a mass murderer (well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but you get the idea).

    My point is that we judge and condemn ourselves all the time. We know what our worst side is; it plays like a video in our head all the time. God, on the other hand, sees what we really are like and how everything we do affects the whole big picture of life. God, being good, created us to be good in his image. I think He looks for our good. If He looked for all our bad, why would He have sent us a Savior? Forgiven means over. Done. Gone.

    I think our reward/treasure is the gift of seeing how we have contributed to the overall good. Even the person I would judge as the most evil, vile, despicable person on earth could have caused good to happen through his evil.

    It helps me to remember that God loves Adolf Hitler as much as He loves me. No more, no less. Is it ever too late to seek forgiveness? Eternity has no beginning or end. It’s just too big to think about.

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    Renee I have found some scriptures for you pertaining to your question about rewards in heaven. But before I give you the scriptures may I explain how I do a word study? When I have a question about a particular word I look it up in my concordance in order to find the meaning of the Hebrew word if in Old Testament or Greek word if in New Testament. I have looked up reward in my concordance and find that in the New Testament the first mention of the word reward is in Matthew 5:12 Jesus himself said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven..”
    Next I find the Greek word for reward in the Greek dictionary located in the back of the concordance. The Greek word used here is ‘misthos’. Misthos means pay for services good or bad:-wages,reward. We will be rewarded based on our faithfulness to Jesus Christ. I am going to list some scriptures relating to the various ‘crowns’ mentioned in the New Testament as the rewards. When we receive our rewards we will place them before the throne of God (Revelation 4:10)

    1 Corinthians 9:25
    2 Timothy 4:8
    James 1:12
    1 Peter 5:4
    Revelation 2:10

    A note in my study Bible says that knowing in the future we will stand before Jesus Christ and face a review of our lives should motivate us to live righteously and faithfully in the present.

    I have been taught about heavenly rewards since childhood. As an adult I believe that the way we treat others will be closely scruntized as Jesus reviews our lives. I don’t believe it is the outward acts that is looked at by Christ as much as is the inward motivations.

    Renee I hope you don’t mind my sharing all this information. It may be more than you had in mind.

    I forgot to put in my earlier post a request for prayer. I have volunteered to serve on the Women’s Ministry Team at church and will be attending an all day planning retreat this Saturday 3.20.10. We will be planning the Bible Study courses that will be offered next year (I hope, I hope I get to return to teaching) and other acitvities. Pray that we all will work in unity and that our ideas will be God honoring. The retreat location is destination unknown so please pray for safe travel. I am excited to be involved but I have a tendency to want to do everything so I will have to limit myself. The Director of Women’s Ministry has already mentioned she may have me do some writing for the monthly newsletter. In six months our new church year begins and I am so looking forward to doing whatever God has planned for me to do. Thanks.

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4. Satan said that Job feared God because God protected and blessed Job. If God told Job that He allowed Satan to test Job so that Job would be a good example for thousands of years, then Satan might say that Job feared God because God made him a hero. Satan could view “stuff” and “hero status” in the same way. Plus, the passage indicates that Job was already known as the greatest man in that part of the world; so it may’ve seemed like a decent trade-off to lose present stuff for a type of immortality.

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FYI: Lyrics for Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name”
http://www.lyricsbox.com/matt-redman-lyrics-blessed-be-your-name-pfs45jc.html

5. What hit me: Though Scripture and this song indicate that we are to praise God in the good times and the bad times, neither Scripture nor this song indicate that “when I praise God in the bad times, I will feel better.” We praise God because He is worthy of our praise, not because He will “fix” us if we praise Him.

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1. Mike Mason, in The Gospel According to Job, says it is unusual to be rich and righteous, but it can happen. How do you see this in Job’s life in Job 1:1-5? Look carefully at phrases and practices.

“blameless and upright”, “Feared God and shunned evil”. Job also showed reverence for God by sacrificing offerings on behalf of his family after feasting in case any had sinned. The last verse in this passage states that this was Job’s custom, which shows us that he was not doing this just as the feeling arose but out of deep commitment to God.

2. What did Satan believe about Job according to Job 1:9-11? Can you see, when you look at your own heart, why Satan’s statement might have some legitimacy to it? How does loss reveal our hearts?

The devil believed that if Job lost the abundant blessings given to him by God, he would turn away from God and even curse God to His Face.

Loss does reveal “what we’re made of”. If we do not have a committed relationship with Christ, as Job did, losses can make us selfish, bitter, blaming of God. Even those of us who are committed to Christ are vulnerable to this sort of behavior! Loss strips away those pleasantries that distract us from the futilities of life brought about by sin in our world- pain, death, suffering, discord.

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1. Job was rich in family, possessions, and family. My study Bible tells me that owning camels was like owning a fleet of limos. We see Job was rich in faith because had built an altar so he could offer sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of himself and his family. We learn sin had no dominion over his life and he turned away from evil. He was not sinless but had a ‘spotless reputation’ in the community.

2. Satan believed that Job loved God because God had blessed him with much stuff. Satan believed that if Job lost everything he would curse God. I see what Satan is saying because I ‘lost’ all my stuff when I left my home for three months. The truth is I missed my stuff, my worldly accumlations (books are what I’m big on) But on the other side I was willing to give up my stuff because it was more important for me to be safe than to remain with my stuff. My husband had threatened to take my life. I didn’t want to hang around to see if he would do it. When I was in the planning process of leaving I went through my home to decide what I would take with me. What was my most valuable possession. I left with my Bible, my prayer journal, the Bible study I was working on and a few changes of clothing. I didn’t know I would be gone for three months but looking back 2 years later, I didn’t realize it then, but I believe I made the decision God was more important than my stuff. He was all I had and all I needed. I still struggle with losing certain things in my life but I have come to see that my fear is tied to self-sufficency. I’m very thankful I am a work in progress.

3. Job lost his entire fortune which he had acquired over a lifetime of hard work. His work staff save a handful were killed. And, Job attended 10 funerals, those of his children, in one day. He also lost the comfort of his spouse. Instead of the losses bringing them closer together Mrs. Job chose to respond with bitterness.
Inwardly Job was shocked at such losses. He responded with the custom of the day by tearing his robe and shaving his head to show his intense grief. After that he fell to the ground and worshiped. He blessed the name of the Lord.

4. Challenge question-Why, do I think God never explained to Job the reason for his suffering?

When I first read the question I immediately thought of Isaiah 55:8-10,”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” God is the Creator and does not have to explain anything to us His human creatures.
I heard Lee Strobel on ChrisFabrylive yesterday and the topic at the moment I listened in was Job. Why did it happen? Why didn’t God tell Job why? Mr. Strobel made the comment that if God told Job why by doing so God would be putting Himself on the same level as man and then He would not be a God we would want to worship. (that’s not word from word but I think that’s what he meant)
I think God did not tell Job because God already knew Job’s heart before Satan made the wager. God tested Job’s faith in order to show Job no mattter what happens, He could be trusted, and that’s all Job needed to know.

I heard the late Madlyn Murray O’Hair make the following statement and I wrote in down in my journal because I am a quote collector. Reading it now in conjunction with this study helps me to see that the enemy wants us to question God’s authority in our lives. He can’t get to our souls so he messes with our minds.

“An atheist is a person who questions authority and this is the important thing because if we can without blinking an eye, question the ultimate authority-God-who must be obeyed, than we can question the authority of the state-anything.”

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There is so much good stuff here. What Renee said about pride creeping in when we are blessed because we think we deserve it is so true of me. I love how Janet saw Job’s wife as a woman in great pain sanctified(not sure that is the right word)by her husband’s faith. I also tended to see her as a shrew. There was more but I’m just too tired to make much sense right now but I have had an experience that I think will speak to Renee’s question about rewards. It’s kind of long but was such a precious experience to me. Years ago(20-30) I was taking communion in church. As I was quiet before the Lord, He spoke to my heart. He asked me what was the desire of my heart. Without a second thought I responded that I wanted my parents to be saved. My husband was unsaved and afterward I started to second guess my answer and thought maybe I should have asked for him. But I decided that what I asked had to have come from the Holy Spirit because I didn’t even think about it. Years later my mother developed a dementia and died within 5 years from it. I used to talk to her about salvation but I was never satisfied with her answers. She was very childlike and thought that she would go to heaven by being good. When she died I was very worried about her salvation and God assured me that I should trust Him about it. I found peace with His assurance and did not think much about it anymore. I went to work on my father. A few years later God spoke to me again and said that my mother was with Him in heaven. I don’t really want to give the particulars on that because it will seem silly. But my immediate response was “But Lord, she has no treasure”. It was a knee jerk response. But He said to me…”You can share yours with her”. I still cry when I think about that. And He revealed to me that it was hearing the gospel after she could no longer speak to which she responded. She had become agitated at the time and I was upset that I had upset her. Anyway all that is to say that I think our rewards in heaven will be way more precious than we can imagine.

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I think a lot about heaven too Renee. I wonder if I really understand what He is looking for. I am not a talented person and I don’t accomplish much for the kingdom that I can see. I sense God telling me that He is in charge of all of that and He will take care of it. I wrote 2 poems after my father died. One was for a memorial for he and my mother and this is the other one.

THIS DAY-THAT DAY

For this day only
Will I strive
Days past are redeemed
Those future His also
Part of His mosaic.
Of beauty unseen
And riches unknown

When that day arrives
In the blink of an eye
What will I give
To the One needing nothing
My Adoni
Who loves without cause.
And gives without measure

If I persevere
Where I am not able
Where gift and talent
I do not ply
Leaning only on Him
For abundant supply

On this may He smile
Desire of my heart
For this I can live
Both now and forever

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    Janet, Tammy, and Anne,
    Thanks SO MUCH for your responses! Much to ponder — and kinda late for the brain to function well, so will be pondering tomorrow :) Janet, I appreciate your reminder that we can’t understand some of this, but I do enjoy your creative approach to “supposing.” Tammy, thanks for the Scripture passages. I have some studying to do. And no, that was not more info than I wanted (One of my problems is that I don’t seem to stop looking for information!). Anne, thanks so much for sharing the poem you wrote. Even though my brain is shutting down for the evening, my heart is apparently still working — and what you wrote penetrated it.

    I appreciate all of you!

WHAT A WONDERFUL STORY AND POEM ANNE WROTE IN RESPONSE TO RENEE’S GOOD QUESTION ABOUT TREASURES.

ANNE, MY MOTHER CAME TO CHRIST AT 93 WHEN SHE HAD DEMENTIA. SHE ACTUALLY ASKED MY SON TO HELP HER TRUST CHRIST. A WEEK LATER SHE COULDN’T REMEMBER SHE DID IT — BUT I KNOW GOD DID!

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    You know, because of the history of dementia in my mother’s family, she always saw it as the worst thing that could happen to her. Of course her fear spread to her children but if we can look beyond the pain and loss I think we can see as Job did when God spoke to him. No need for questions. God has taken care of what was important and the rest may just be dross. What a blessing for your son, to lead his grandmother to the Lord. Those are the things we remember, not the bad parts. I really don’t think my mother would have come to salvation if not for the dementia.

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Wow, ladies, so much wisdom and insightful ponderings going on here! As for me, the book of Job has been extremely important to my growth as a Christian. When I became a Christian in 1977, I immediately was drawn to the so-called “name-it-and-claim-it” way of thinking. I jumped on the bandwagon with both feet! If you SAY it will happen, then it will happen. If you totally trust God, bad things won’t happen. If bad things DO happen, it shows there’s unconfessed sin in your life.

I had been married for over 10 years to an emotionally abusive man. He stopped just short of physical abuse. How do you reconcile that to the above belief system? You try harder, because obviously I must be doing something wrong or God would make this go away, right? WRONG!

I became involved in a prayer group that was extremely unbiblical. Being a new Christian, I didn’t know it at the time. (Maybe sometime I’ll relate my “spiritual down-spiral”). Anyway, the leader of this prayer group and a person we were ministering to started to get inappropriately close. I confronted them. They wouldn’t listen. I spoke to our pastor. He laughed at me. The next week, these 2 people left their spouses and moved in together. Because of my involvement in trying to help this woman, everyone blamed me for not stopping it! I lay down on my couch determined NEVER to get up again because I couldn’t get it right! I didn’t know where to turn!

Enter the Book of Job. This book always bugged me. It didn’t line up with my belief system. As I lay there totally at the end of myself, God began to speak to me, “Read Job.” The first thing that struck me is v. 8: 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?”

Do you realize, ladies, that Satan didn’t bring Job up to God? God brought Job up to Satan. God said, “Satan, look at Job. He’s quite a God-fearing man.” Think about it! Wow.

I spent months immersed in Job, reading commentaries (mostly Matthew Henry), praying, pleading with God to help me understand His dealings with “His servant, Job.” I’ve gone on here for too long already, so I will share some of the insights God has graciously given me on this wonderful book later!

Sorry this is so long, and thanks for “listening” to me!

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Marlys, that is such a powerful testimony! God is so faithful even in the face of charismatic false teaching. People can be so powerful in their persuasive speech and yet God reaches our hearts anyway. How precious is the Light when He shines into truth into our hearts.

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3. God is omniscient, so knew Job loved Him for Himself — but Satan did not know this. Summarize Job’s losses in chapter 1 and his response.

He lost all of his livestock and servants in the fields, except the 4 messengers. He then lost all of his children and probably their families also. He displayed outward signs of shock and grief, yet he worshiped God and did not blame Him for his loss. What stands out to me is that Job did not feel that he was entitled to his blessings. This appears to have been his ‘gut reaction’, not something that he had to talk to himself about. I once heard a missionary say that in poorer countries people do not have the complaining spirit that we see in this country. It must be because we have so much. Yet Job had much and still had a humble heart. That must be one of the reasons God called him a man of perfect integrity. I think too, that He simply loved God more than his stuff. That’s where I want to go. Do you think it is suffering that takes us there? We don’t know anything about Job’s life before this, whether he had suffered or always been blessed.

4. (Challenge question) In the whole book of Job — God never explains to Job why he is suffering. Why, do you think?

That is such a good question. I have pondered it before but none of my thoughts seem to fit. When God arrives He seems to be almost chastising Job for questioning. No, chastisement is what his friends got. He seems to be saying ‘Well Job, if you want to be God there is a great deal to it’ and He begins to question him. What I learn from this is that I have no business questioning God’s motives. But that is so hard when you are suffering. I don’t think God faulted him for questioning Him though.

I don’t have any idea why God did not explain. There is a great deal of suffering in this world that is not explained but no one else has gotten to talk to God in a whirlwind. Sorry, I’m starting to ramble.

Didn’t we download Tim Keller’s sermons free before? Did we use a code or something? I can’t seem to do it now.

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    Anne, The one we downloaded was free, but I “poked around” the website then, and some were free, but some cost a little bit.

Some of Tim Keller’s sermons are free, but most are 2.50. You can call and ask permission to download for free for each sermon you want free — I’ve never done that — but they say you can.

Okay — here’s Tim Keller’s response as to why God never told Job why he was suffering.

Job had to suffer and not know why or it would have defeated the purpose. He had to love God for nothing. If God had said, “This is going to be really hard, Job, but one day it will end and I will make your name great and your life will encourage sufferers for centuries to come.” If Job knew that, he would be suffering for something — and not just for the love of God. Job had to suffer and not know why — and sometimes, so do we.

In Screwtape Letters, Screwtape insists there is no such thing as love. No one really loves just because he loves — but always to get. That was the devil’s certainty in the book of Job, but Job proved him wrong.

What do you think?

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    Hi all! I love your questions Dee, because they make you think! When I think of suffering, I think how pointless it would seem, except to love and honor God. Our suffering can make us cling to God, or turn away. But I think the question that determines what we do is: do we trust?…do we really believe God is good?

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Good morning ladies,

I’ve been unable to get to the study for the past couple of days, and I just finished reading through the rest of the comments on the previous blog.

I want to address this to Tracy, after reading your sharing. This verse came to my mind for you, Tracy:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25)

It took much courage to share, and yes, it is a good thing to have a safe place to share. I think one of satan’s weapons is that he makes us to feel we can’t open up and share; he wants to isolate us in our pain and suffering. When we open up and share our struggles and then others come alongside and share in our burdens and pray for us, he loses his grip! Yeah!

Am lifting up you and all the ladies this morning in prayer.

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    Thanks for the encouragement and prayers! It means so much to me. :-)

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Dee, I think that Tim Keller’s answer to the question of why He could not explain to Job why he had to suffer rings very true to what we know about God. Just as He loves us for who we are, He desires the same love from us. Even after the fact an explanation would have changed future perceptions of why we suffer. In other words, it would have spoiled the perfection of the book of Job.

This flies in the face of the implications of those movies you mentioned. The idea that if you love God, He will make everything better. He doesn’t give us the desires of our crooked hearts, He changes the desires of our hearts. I hope I am making sense. It is such a subtle yet pervasive lie. We can be so desperate to bear fruit for the kingdom and bring people to salvation(especially those we love) that we try to sugar coat what it means to be a Christian. I am the worlds greatest perpetrator of this offense. Where is my faith in the work of the Spirit(Jn16:8)?

I will never forget the testimony of a woman in my church. Her husband had a stroke and very nearly died at a rather young age. What I remember most from what she said is that through all the days in the hospital and the fear that he would die she learned that God is enough. I later got to know her husband a little bit. He had had brain surgery and I was facing it. He talked to me about what to expect. He also led our pastor’s prayer team. His personality had been totally changed by his illness but God used him so much. Then the Lord took him suddenly home from a heart arrhythmia and his place in the body is empty to this day.

After I had surgery and was pretty much recovered I began to understand something, as in a dark mirror. I mean that I can only see a vague shadow of it and have not been able to successfully verbalize it. Our suffering has such a special place in God’s heart. It changes things, important things that can happen no other way. Not just in us or for us, but around us. I hope that is understandable. It is the best I have done so far.

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    Well said, Anne! And I agree that our suffering is “special” to God. WE think it’s the worst that can happen, but GOD sees the benefit. It’s like when you have a sick child and you FORCE this awful, yukky medicine down the poor kid’s throat. They look at you like, “What are you doing to me?” We tell them, “But it will make you WELL.”

    Thanks so much for sharing. It’s a huge blessing to me!

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I have just recently, prior to this, begun reading Job again. I have been reading the Psalms over and over again since this past July. Most of your thoughts, prayers and responses are so amazing and so deep. My thoughts, most of the time right now, are yet very simple and many prayers are still, “Please God help me.” I know that God hears those simple words and His remarkable grace is what I live by. In Job, when he has lost all and falls down and worships God, I wrote in the margin “I will love You and praise You no matter what!” I uttered those words in the early morning hours of June 30, 2009 and it is only by God’s grace that I am able to do so. Praise Him for His miraculous grace and mercy. Just a brief thought regarding our rewards in Heaven, my step-brother used to sing a song about “throwing our crowns at Jesus’ feet”, I just believe that the gift of being able to worship my Lord when I arrive will be the overwhelming object of my heart. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for each other.

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I just listened to this excellent sermon by Paul Tripp that I think applies to what we have been talking about. He is talking about when God tested Abraham. One of his points is that the meaning of the word test is not the finding out how strong something is but rather to make it stronger. There is more help for us in this sermon but I don’t think it will be as helpful if I try to tell it all. http://summitrdu.sermon.net/sermonid/2365128 When Life Makes No Sense

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7)Do a little research on Screwtape Letters. Give us some background, some key points, some ways it has impacted you if you read it.

The Screwtape Letters was originally published in as a series of weekly letters in a British newspaper, the Guardian, in 1941. The letters are a senior demon, Screwtape, instructing a junior demon, Wormwood on how to keep a new Christian, The Patient, out of heaven. In 1942 these letters were first published in book form.

One of the main themes in the book that has stuck with me is this quote by Screwtape, “the safest path to hell is the gradual one.” Wormwood, being younger, inexperienced, and eager wants to tempt the Patient to do horrific sins. But the older, wiser Screwtape tells him it’s safer to draw him away gradually. It reminds me of the analogy of a frog in water. If you try to get a frog to stay in a pan of HOT water, he will jump right out. But if you put him in cold water, then gradually warm it up, he will stay not noticing the water is getting hotter and hotter. It will eventually kill the frog, but he won’t think anything of it because it’s gradual.

Another thing I always think about since reading this book is how Screwtape advises Wormwood to use discouragement so affectively to get the Patient’s eyes off God and onto his failures. I know from personal experience that growth stops when I look inward, but grows when I look at God.

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5. Sing Matt Redmond’s Blessed Be Thy Name — a contemporary version of Job’s response. Share your contemplations.
Job praises God even when his blessings don’t look like blessings. He believes that God has purposes that he cannot understand. He believes that as God is the one who gave, He also has the right to take away blessing. As I feel very weighed down by a heaviness of heart today I realize that I must, at every turn, lift up praise.
7. Do a little research on Screwtape Letters. Give us some background, some key points, some ways it has impacted you if you read it.
I did not read this book but listened to a radio dramatization of it, repeatedly. It was amazing to me how crafty Satan is. How I have fallen for every one of his wiles, repeatedly.
I remember the temptation to spiritual pride very well and how prevalent it is between churches.
The novice demon always wanted to tempt with grave sin and Screwtape had to teach him repeatedly that the patient would never fall for that.
He also wanted to cause the patient’s death and Screwtape showed him how if he did that, he would go straight to heaven. Better to gradually draw him away over the long years with disillusionment and disappointment. Distract him with worldly pursuits.
CS Lewis was quite a genius as well as inspired by the Holy Spirit. One thing I noticed about each section is that their attempts failed at every turn. They might be successful for a time but ultimately they always failed. I see this as illustration that while Satan may be successful for a time, he is a defeated foe. Wow. I did this question before #6 and when I go back to read the third verse of the song, I see this is exactly what it is about.

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6. Verse 3 of A Mighty Fortress: On Friday, I was on the road and singing this verse over and over. My mind was on the song, and I missed the exit where I had planned to have lunch (and found that some convenience stores have NO healthy food!). One thing that struck me about verse 3 (and probably the hymn, in general) is that even though it has been called “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation,” it is not just a fight song. It also fits as a victory song. Maybe it was hard to find a “fight song” version because people feel more like singing when they’ve experienced victory than when they are fighting. And, as we have already learned, reminding ourselves of God’s work in the past is encouraging.

One of the lines that struck me was “We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.” Through US !!! Not only has God triumphed, but He has chosen to work through us, and He empowers us. Plus, whether in battle or in victory, I’m encouraged that Satan’s “doom is sure.” And I’m thankful that his doom was secured by Christ’s death and resurrection. . . that doesn’t depend on me. When God triumphs through us, He triumphs because of His power and His love for us.

8. God allowed Satan to attach Job’s health. He had painful sores from head to toe. Satan said, “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

What Satan said is true for many people. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they would give anything to have/keep their health. Job must have been miserable. And he must’ve looked horrible, too (and scraping his sores wouldn’t have made him look any better). Based on appearance alone, it’s not too surprising that his wife was upset. But Job challenged his wife when she told him to “Curse God and die.” Even though she tempted him, he didn’t sin in what he said to her or to God.

It’s interesting that she associated cursing God with dying— and she was certainly right, in that cursing God would lead to eternal death, and may lead to physical death. But she was very-short sighted about her own well-being on earth. I don’t think widows with no belongings or family were particularly well off.

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Okay, back to my questions about rewards! Warning: long posting!
Thanks again, Tammy. I looked up the passages Tammy provided that refer to crowns or rewards and realized that I have memorized all but one of the passages. These verses were related to receiving crowns or rewards for faithfulness. The idea of receiving rewards for faithfulness doesn’t conflict with my understanding of God’s grace, because I can’t be faithful in my own strength anyway. And I don’t think faithfulness that produces fruit is the same as earning something by “works.”

But I know I’ve heard that believers will be judged by their works — and this does seem contradictory. Obtaining salvation by grace but then getting status in heaven by works seems like a step away from having to earn my way out of purgatory.

I don’t like unresolved questions of this magnitude! I know my puny brain can’t understand the ways of God, but this seems like a huge doctrinal issue. If my status in heaven is determined by my works, I have a few options: 1) work harder , 2) give up because I won’t be able to earn my status in heaven any more than I could earn my salvation (sometimes agnosticism is tempting), 3) not care — which is similar to #2.

I decided to look up passages on the judgment of believers. I could only find 2 passages: II Cor 5:10 and Romans 14:10 which both indicate that we will all appear “before the judgment seat of Christ.” The contexts of these verses don’t reinforce the idea that I have to earn my status in heaven.

II Cor 5: 6-10 “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Even though the passage indicates that we will receive what we are due, the focus is on longing for being with the Lord and pleasing him. The Romans passage tells us that we aren’t to judge because God is the judge.

Next I hunted for the passage about works being burned up—I Cor 3:10-15. Verse 11 says, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ,” and the verses following it indicate that our work not based on the foundation of Jesus Christ will be burned up. This means that “working harder” may not be an effective option.

I have been exposed to legalism and may be overly sensitive to anything that even hints at being legalism’s distant relative. I’ve also heard that as a Christian, it’s better to “burn out than rust out.” As someone who has burnt out, I have doubts about that. Practically, “working harder” hasn’t always been a good thing for me. I needed to learn to rest more, take breaks, and NOT work harder. I know it hasn’t done much good when I’ve heard someone say that we had “better watch out” or we will get on God’s “naughty list” (no one has used those Santa terms, but discussions about believers answering to God for behavior have sounded like that).

All the passages that I’ve read (and I recognize that it may be the lens through which I am reading) seem to indicate that rewards are related to faithfulness to God. Faithfulness, itself, is by God’s grace. And those works that are not based on the foundation of Jesus Christ (which, on earth, may appear to be good works) will be the ones that are burned up. Therefore, seeking to know God and reflect Him will be what leads to rewards in heaven, because seeking Him will produce fruit that He will see. But seeking rewards apart from seeking God seems futile.

I don’t like to believe that I need to be afraid of God’s judgment in heaven (“answer to God”) for bad things I’ve done as a Christian. Reminds that “There is therefore now no condemnation. . .” For this dilemma, too, seeking God and internalizing His Word is the best antidote to legalism and burn out that goes with it.

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    Renee, I’m sorry that you had live through all of this. Legalism is ugly. And just as false as any false teaching I have ever heard. For it is by grace we are saved…

    What you say reminds me of a book I read a few years ago, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. It was a very good book for me. In it there was a parable that I will try to remember right. Jesus asks a man to pull a wagon with a few rocks in it up a hill. It seemed like a very doable thing and he was happy to do it for the Lord. As he goes along he sees people along the way who ask him to carry rocks in his wagon for them also, since he is going up. Each time he agrees and before long he is overwhelmed. He gets frustrated and angry because of the load he has to bear. Before long the Lord Himself comes and wants to know where all the rest of the load came from. Jesus took out all but what He had asked the man to carry and he went on his way, happily finishing his task.

    The main thing that has stayed with me about the book is that we must have balance. Some of us are Marys and some Marthas and those in between are blessed because somewhere in the middle is where we need to be. But always we must have that time at Jesus’ feet.

    When we were reading about Martin Luther, somewhere I read that he did not think the book of James should have been canonized because of it’s emphasis on works. I am not at all saying that I agree with this but look where he came from. I think he got burned out too.

    When I read the passages in 2 Cor 5, what stands out to me is vs 11. Knowing then the fear of the Lord, we persuade people. This is the desire of His heart, that none should perish. This is the work that I must be about. I am so convicted here. God has put His finger on this for me. Would you all please pray for me. I am fearful and I need boldness. I am not persuasive and I need the Holy Spirit. I am not loving and I must love people. I don’t even know what else. Lord, please show us how to pray.

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    I was raised in a denomination that stresses works, so I can relate! I find myself struggling with legalism over & over. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject is “A Tale of Two Sons” by John Macarthur. It’s based on the parable of the prodigal son, but trust me, it’s not like any sermon you’ve heard on this familiar parable!

    I’m praying for you!

    http://www.christianbook.com/sons-inside-story-father-shocking-murder/john-macarthur/9780785262688/pd/262680?item_code=WW&netp_id=504085&event=ESRCN&view=details

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    Sister Renee
    I have more passages for you concerning works.
    This is from the Universal Subject Guide to the Bible located in the back of Strong’s Concordance. Hope it helps.

    LABOR-physical or mental effort

    B. SPIRITUAL
    Characteristics of:

    Commissioned by Christ…..John 4:38
    Accepted by few…………Mattt. 9:37, 38
    Working with God………..1 Cor. 3:9
    By God’s grace………….1 Cor. 15:10
    Result of faith…………1 Tim. 4:10
    Characterized by love……1 Thess. 1:3
    Done in prayer………….Col. 4:12
    Subject to discouragement..Is. 49:4; Gal. 4:11
    Interrupted by Satan…….1 Thess. 3:5

    WORK, the CHRISTIAN’S

    A. Agency of by:
    God………….Phil. 2:13
    Spirit……….1 Cor. 12:11
    God’s Word……1 Thess. 2:13
    Faith………..Gal. 5:6

    B. Characteristics of:

    Designed for God’s glory…..Matt. 5:16
    Divinely called…………..Acts 13:2
    Produces eventual glory……2 Cor. 4:17
    Subject to examination…….Gal 6:4
    Final perfection in……….Heb. 13:21

    C. God’s regard for, will:

    Reward……..Jer. 31:16
    Perfect…….Phil. 1:6
    Not forget….Heb. 6:10

    WORKS, GOOD

    A. Considered negatively, they cannot:

    Justify………………….Rom. 4:2-6
    Determene God’s election…..Rom. 9:11
    Secure righteousness………Rom. 9:31
    Substitute for grace………Rom. 11:6

    B. Considered positively

    Reward for……..1 Cor. 3:13-15
    Created for…….Eph. 2:10
    Prepared for……2 Tim. 2:21
    Furnished for…..2 Tim. 3:17

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Dear Anne,
I will pray for you, and I would add that, as you desire to share Christ with others, and state that you are fearful and that you need boldness; I believe that if you share with others in your life as you share with us here, with your trademark honesty, you will be an effective witness! The word “winsome” comes to mind. Just like you shared that poem you wrote after your dad died. Just something from your heart to another person, I think that’s what people are hungry for.

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Question #1. It is unusual to be rich and righteous, but it can happen. How do you see this in Job’s life in Job 1:1-5?

Verse 1 states Job was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. This describes his character. Verse 3 lists all his possessions: sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, servants, and says Job was the greatest of all the men of the east.

Verse 5 tells of his continual practice of getting up early and offering sacrifices for each of his children, after their time of feasting, just in case one had sinned and cursed God in his heart.
Job was a wise father, to consider the heart attitudes of his children. That shows that their being right with God was more important to him than their success in life, their fine homes, wealth, etc…

Question #2. What did Satan believe about Job according to Job 1:9-11?

Satan believed that the only reason Job fears God (loves and obeys Him) is because God has so richly blessed Job, protecting all that he has and given him lots of material wealth and possessions. Satan says, in essence, “But if you mess with his stuff, he will turn on You in anger and hostility and curse You to Your face”.

Can you see, when you look at your own heart, why Satan’s statement might have some legitimacy to it?

Yes, I can. Because I see in myself that anger and hostility and wanting to lash out at another person for hurting me. Not, as in taking my things, but in what I perceive as an offense to me, they have offended me, I’ve not gotten my own way, they’ve hurt my feelings. Sometimes it is legitimate but often it is my taking offense because of my own pride and selfishness. So “my stuff” can be my “rights”, my own way, my time, my ego, my wanting to be served. And when I get frustrated, I can react like a two year old and go on the attack.

How does loss reveal my heart?

I think it reveals just who, at the time, is sitting on the throne of my heart. Is it God, or is it me?
It reveals what I really believe about God: is He good? does He care? did He love? and what lies I’m believing about God. It reveals my maturity or lack of. But loss also reveals who or what I will run to when the “mountains fall into the sea”.

Question #3. God is omniscient, so He knew Job loved Him for Himself. Satan didn’t know this. Summarize Job’s losses and his response.

Job’s oxen and donkeys are stolen. A lightning storm (?) strikes and burns up Job’s sheep. Raiding Chaldeans steal all Job’s camels. Servants are dead. Job’s children all killed when a tornado like wind strikes the house they are in.
Job tears his clothes and shaves his head, falls to the ground and worships the Lord. He blesses the name of the Lord. He does not sin or blame God.

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Question #4. God never explains to Job why he is suffering. Why, do you think, He couldn’t tell Job?

I guess God could have told Job the why of his suffering, but what God did for Job was so much more, and better, than answering the question of “why”. God revealed Himself to Job. Job had known about God before, but now He knows God by experience. Isn’t this my desire, too? I can sure know alot of facts about God. But how different, and richer, to know Him by experiencing Him, to have Him speak to my heart perhaps through a passage of Scripture, or through a sermon, or during a time of talking to Him and actually getting to hear from Him.

I’m not a person who will tell you that God speaks to me all the time. But I can remember two definite times in my life where, I did not hear an audible voice, but I was praying and talking to God, and in both instances I asked God a question. And He answered me, a thought coming into my mind, nothing out loud, but I knew it came from Him.

The one time was when I first knew to take my sins to the Cross and to realize that Jesus died for each and every one of my sins. Some of my sins were very shameful, and after confessing them, I imagined myself being at the foot of the Cross, looking up at Jesus, dying for these awful sins of mine, and wondering, “What would Jesus say to me, for all of these awful sins and He is dying for them?” And the thought came into my mind, “Now do you see how much I love you?”

These are the memories that I treasure to this day. Perhaps Job looked back, later in his life, when the suffering was past, and treasured the way God met him in his suffering, how much deeper he went in knowing God. An answer doesn’t necessarily give you comfort in the middle of the night, but God does.

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As I am now going to go to bed, I think I just answered something for myself. I still go over and over and over what happened to my nephew, Thomas. I want to know the answers to so many questions. What went wrong in his life, in his thinking, what made him turn to drugs, what really happened the night he died. As if I could understand what his deepest thoughts were, who he really was on the inside, the WHY, then what?
Would it change anything? Would it bring him back? Would knowing the answers make me close my eyes with a sigh of relief and bring a good night’s sleep? No, I don’t think so. I’d be left with a cold, factual answer.
An answer is not a person, not a comforter, not a friend in the night; it cannot love, it cannot bring a sense of presence of being with me.
It cannot dialogue with you. You cannot pour out your heart to an answer.
If God had given Job the answer, but not Himself, then, so what?

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    Love your last sentence – so right Susan!

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    Lord, thank you so much for Your presence with Susan, for the comfort You bring. There is so much about Thomas’ death that she does not understand, but Lord, she trusts in You and in Your ways and Your power. Lord, how much You love Thomas. I think of the days You walked this earth, how You loved and ministered to the people just like Thomas. Broken people, how close they were to You. Lord we trust You. Please give Susan peace in regard to Thomas. Amen

Good ponderings my dear sisters. Wrestling with God.

I’m on the road but will post again in a day or two, so finish up your contemplations.

I’ll keep reading them and praying for you. You are a wonderful group.

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5. Contemplations of BLESSED BE THE NAME

My very first thought when I listened to the song on YouTube was “this is a modern day IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”. The resolve is to always bless the name of the Lord-no matter the circumstance. Give back the blessing in praise. Learning to praise in the difficulties is a major step toward healing. Personally, I believe it is the most crucial.

6. Verse 3

Until I experienced my betrayal I never considered the depth of evil that is in the world. Having been raised in emotional unhealthiness I could not see I was surrounded by evil. Looking over the landscape of my family, I now see that I have family members who considered evil good. I never really knew what good was. I had been told Jesus loved me and God was good but I thought His goodness was not for me to have. Such twisting of the truth the enemy did for 45 years. (I’ll be 47 in September.) I think that’s why, now that I have a sound mind, I’m like a sponge just soaking everything up. I have come to see that I knew truth just not the WHOLE truth. Guarding my mind is top priority.
Revelation 19:15 came to mind as I began singing this verse:
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron, He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
My late pastor Olan Daffron (middle name Love) liked to say when he was teaching from this verse that Jesus is simply going to say “DROP DEAD” to His enemies.

7. THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

This was my first reading of the book. Marlys pretty much covered the background of the writing. I would like to add that at this time in Lewis’ life his deceased war friend’s mother, Mrs. Moore, and the sister were living with him. From what I understand about Mrs. Moore she was quite demanding and, I wonder, if she feigned helplessness. She seemed incapable of handling simple daily tasks of life.
After reading the book, I couldn’t help but consider Lewis a prophet. I know sex and materialism have always been around, but the ‘teaching of Screwtape’-materialism is the philosophy of the future-and the ‘worship of sex’, describes our present day culture to a tee.
There were many of Screwtape’s advisory comments that jumped out at me.
Keep the patient dependent on emotions.
Turn patient’s gaze away from the Enemy. (God)
Keep them from praying.
Don’t use science as a means of defense against Christianity. That will encourage the patient to think about what can’t touch/see.
Trough periods present excellent opportunity for sensual temptation.
Let the patient do anything but act.
Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us.
Keep your patient safe as long as you possibly can. (how ironic is that)
The tension of human nerves during noise, danger, and fatigue makes them prone to violent emotion.
Screwtape detests:
Pleasure
Love
Music (detests music because it occurs in heaven)
Silence
Screwtape considered Noise the grand dynamism. The more noise the less the patient can hear the voice of the enemy.
Objectives:
Undermine faith
Prevent formation of virtures
Keep patient focused on what may happen in future.
Get the man’s soul. Give him nothing in return.
Keep patient living in the past.
Get the man to value social justice.
Reward for their labors-the anguish and bewilderment of a human soul.
Gain joy from fear/suffering of humans.
Tormented when see temporal suffering of those who escape.
The nursing home scenario was chilling to me. I suppose it’s because my grandmother is a permanent resident of a nursing home now. She has dementia and is gradually getting worse. I did have the opportunity to share with her on her 85th birthday Christ’s love for her. I know she attends church services when they are held at the nursing home. She didn’t respond to me after I told her about Christ but, after reading Dee’s story about her mom, I can hope I’ll see my grandmother in heaven. Besides it’s not me my grandmother is to respond to. It’s Jesus.
Best Screwtape quote:
“It is funny how mortals always picture us putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out”.

Keeping all away from the whole truth indeed seems to be their best work.

8. Job’s second test.

Satan was a little upset that he didn’t get the response from Job as he had hoped. God invites Satan to round two. Satan most likely had a fool-proof strategy all worked out. Once God dangled the worm Satan took the bait. He just knew he was going to win this round.
Job’s second test involved his health and what was left of his family.
First, Satan struck Job with boils from ‘the sole of his foot to the crown of his head’. Many years ago I had a boil appear on my back and that one boil kept me from laying on my back as I slept and from sitting all the way back in a chair. I still have quite a scar that is checked to see if the boil has come back. So far it has not. So I can greatly sympathize with Job. I had a picutre of what Job endured when my ex-husband contracted chicken pox nine months after we were married. He had them from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head. I had them as a child and don’t remember the pain and itching. I understand its more dangerous to have as an adult. Anyway, Job was suffering mighty bad physically. My study Bible tells me ‘The words of Job’s wife-curse God and die-were probably Job’s most severe trial. Ironically, her question do you still hold fast to your integrity employs almost exactly the same wording the Lord had used(v.3). The wording emphasizes Job’s perseverance, which his wife misconstrued as religious fanaticism–she thought he was blindly refusing to face the reality of his desperate situation. Job’s response to the second test, the loss of his health and alienation from his wife, was once again commendable. His rehetorical question, urging the acceptance of both good and adversity from God, anticipates one of the central messages of the Book of Job:The person of faith, will trust God through prosperity or adversity, even while unable to understand why bad things happen.’

I have Dr. Chuck Swindoll’s book JOB: A MAN OF HEROIC ENDURANCE. Dr. Swindoll comments that Job’s condition has had medical doctors curious for years. No one has figured out exactly what disease Job was struck with. Dr. Swindoll has listed the symptoms and corresponding verses. Don’t read if you’re eating.

Job’s symptoms:
inflamed, ulcerous sores Job 2:7
persistent itching 2:8
degenerative changes in facial skin,
disfirguration 2:12
loss of appetite 3:24
fears and depression 3:25
purulent sores that burst open, scab
over, crack, and ooze with pus 7:5
worms that form in the sores
themselves 7:5
difficulty in breathing 9:18
a darkening of the eyelid 16:16
foul breath 19:17
loss of weight 19:20; 33:21
excruciating, continual pain 30:27
high fever with chills and
discoloring of skin as well as
anxiety and diarrhea 30:30

In addition, Job endured delirium, sleeplessness, and the rejection of friends (Job 7:3; 29:2). All lasted for months.

Dr. Swindoll considers Mrs. Job’s response. He gives the following four reasons for her outburst.

1. She, too, had lost ten children.
2. She, too, had suffered the loss of their wealth and possessions.
3. For years, she had enjoyed being the wife of “the greatest of all the men of the east”(Job 1:3).
4. She’s lost her companion.

He goes to on to write we need to cut her some slack. And then he writes “on the other hand” and gives wives some wise counsel.

1. Always guard your words when your husband is going through terribly hard times.
2. Never suggest that we compromise our integrity, even if it would provide temporary relief.

Swindoll writes (concerning Job’s response to his wife) “No, no, no, sweetheart. Let’s not do that. We serve a God who has the right to do whatever He does and is never obligated to explain it or ask permission. Stop and consider-should we think that good things are all we receive? Is that the kind of God we serve? He’s no heavenly servant of ours who waits for the snap of our fingers, is He? He is our Lord and our Master God! We need to remember that the God we serve has a game plan that is beyond our comprehension, hard times like this notwithstanding.”

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    Tammy, Tammy, Tammy! I read this posting and then saw the list of passages you provided above, too. THANK YOU. I think you’re keeping me reading and thinking for a long time :)

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I forgot to post earlier a thank you to all who prayed for the Women’s Ministry meeting. I’m the only ‘new kid on the block’. Our Women’s Ministry has 8 areas of service and believe it or not, I chose not to go back to teaching. I had asked God to place me where I needed to be and teaching was not the place. I get to teach 3/4 year olds in AWANA on Wednesday nights and I don’t want to give them up in order to teach somewhere else. I believe it is imperative we get the Word of God in their little hearts as early as possible. Hopefully one day the little boys and girls I teach will all grow up to be men and women of faith and not men and women of destruction.
I’ll be doing alot of behind the scenes stuff. I’ll be assisting the chairwoman of publicity and the chairwoman of service/missions. We are going to establish a loss care group. Any church member who experiences a loss will be paired with one of their peers who will walk with them through the first year after the loss. Consistent contact so they won’t feel forgotten. I made suggestion of giving music cd for comfort. Alot of details still have to be worked out but everyone agreed it was important to try. I know, without my journey, I would not be on this new path. I am so looking forward to beginning my season of service with Women’s Ministry. Thanks again for all your prayers.

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    I’m so glad you are obedient to God’s direction! That is so important in ministry, isn’t it? I, too, am involved in Awana. What a blessing!!

    Thank you for your insights into Job and the Screwtape Letters. Your words have blessed me tons! Keep it up.

Great job everyone. Finish the last verse of A Mighty Fortress with contemplations and I’ll post soon.

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That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours,
Thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.

“That word” refers to the last line of the 3rd verse, “One little word shall fell him.” The word of God abides forever, and no devils can stop it! Praise Him!

God has given us His Spirit and gifts. We, like Job, might lose all our posessions, our family, we might even die; but nothing will change the God’s Truth. This means so much to me when I’m bombarded with lies. God’s Truth and his kingdom are forever! We serve a mighty God!

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8. What was Job’s second test in Job 2:1-10? What was Satan’s thinking? How did Job respond?

Satan, just like Screwtape, went back to the drawing board. He hoped that if he struck Job’s flesh he would curse God. So God allowed Satan to cause boils all over Job’s body. How horrible…He scratched them with pieces of broken pottery. I have had a boil before and can’t imagine scratching it like that. He must have been trying to get the cores out so they would heal. When his wife told him to curse God and die, he said that he would accept adversity from God as he did blessing. Wow. Job was so very wise and not only that, but how he loved and trusted God.

9. What application does this have to your life?

My application is that I must always remember how much God loves me. And I must remember how good He is. He will not allow me suffer without good reason and certainly not to punish me. Christ took my punishment (glory to God!).

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verse 4

‘The Spirit and the gifts are ours thru Him who with us sideth’

I read the words of Paul not more than an hour ago.

“I count all things as loss compared with the great value of knowing Christ Jesus…” Philippians 3:8

God the Holy Spirit dwells in this cracked pot of clay. The resurrection power Paul wanted to experience is inside this earthen vessel of mercy. Oh and the gifts! I can sleep in contentment even when there is a zero balance in my checking account because I know my security is not in the bank. I am never without the basics and, although my circumstances are still far from ideal, I know I can trust and believe God is who He says He is. Peace cannot be bought at any price. The quietness of my soul when everyone else is up in arms over the conditions we are facing. The sad reality is people I know who say they are Christians are complaining about everything and don’t really want to hear me say the Lord is in control. Of course everything is troubling. Jesus said it would be. There are days I’m so grateful to be alive I can’t say thank you enough to my Heavenly Father. God has been so merciful to me.
After I read Marlys post the words I thought of were from my poem I posted some time back. Truth….DragonSlayer. When the enemy fights me with a lie (in my mind) I shoot back with truth. And he runs.

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One thing that struck me about verse 4 (during my lack of in-depth examination) of A Mighty Fortress is that all the seemingly bad stuff and losses in life don’t negate God’s truth. Further, His truth outlasts this life.

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