Let us bow our head for prayer. "Dear Father, may the words that are spoken here today uplift Jesus Christ I pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
You may have hear on the Jeopardy program, you've probably heard of that. Somebody told me that one of the that one of the questions on "Jeopardy" recently was: Which is the fastest growing church in the world today? The answer was: The Seventh- day Adventist Church. I thought that was pretty nice. And I've wondered, why are we growing? I don't really know all the answers to that question, but I know one thing, we are emphasizing Jesus Christ. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Christian church. We preach from the Bible. And we love our Savior. And I'm happy with that.
I want to speak with you about a story that comes from the Bible. When I was a boy, my uncle called me one day, uncle John Boils. He said, "Donnie, I've got a whole stack of magazines here. You like to read. Bring your little red wagon and come and get them."
And so I brought my wagon and he stacked it full of Popular Science magazines. Oh, I was just delighted with that. So I went home and started reading. As I read the Popular Science magazine, and these were old magazines, it had a picture of a big muscle man there called, "Charles Atlas." Have you ever heard of Charles Atlas? Strongest man in the world. And in that magazine it had an ad: If I would send in a pocketful of change, that I could receive instructions in the mail on how I could look just like Charles Atlas. I thought, Wow, that would really be neat! I don't think I sent for it. I probably should have. You can tell that I didn't do it, right? [audience laughs] He was a he-man! A great, strong man, a perfect man.
But I still have the goal of becoming a perfect man...in Christ. We can all be perfect men and women in Christ, can't we. And we don't have to send off the Popular Science magazine. Do you know how to become a perfect man? The instructions are right here in the Bible, and they're free. It's in the Bible.
I would like for us to discuss a little window in the life of a perfect man. Let's turn to the book of Job. We're going to begin reading the experience of a perfect man. Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
I really don't think Job looked like Charles Atlas but in God's sight Job was perfect. And that is all that really counts! When God looks at you and He sees perfection, that's all that really matters, right? Now, Job had ten children, a nice home equipped with servants and he had eleven thousand five hundred animals. He was a big-time farmer.
Notice verse 3, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. He was a most prosperous farmer. He was fantastic.
His fame was known all over the land. But a great trial was gearing up to cloud Job's future. And you would think: when you graduate from high school and after you graduate from college all the examinations are over. You're not going to face any more problems. Not true! Adults also have problems. But, Job passed his great test with flying colors because he had done his homework.
Notice what Job did at home for his homework. Job 1:5 speaks of his ten children, ...Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom.
Every morning as the sun was rising, Job was praying. As the rooster was crowing, Job was growing. Do you get out in the early morning? Do you have family worship? Do you have personal worship?
I like to walk up to the top of White Oak Ridge. I've been up there six times in the last seven days. Up there I have a special little spot where I spend some time in prayer with my God. It's special, special for me. Early in the morning, I saw the sun coming up the other day and I was thinking about Jesus rising in my heart. You know, we each need something special. Job had regular habitual early morning worship. He was not a perfect man by luck or good looks. Job would pray at the suns first ray. While the roosters were crowing Job was growing, growing into the image of God. Are you growing into the image of Jesus? Job's dedication delighted God. It also caught the attention of Satan. You know, the devil knows what's going on. In verses six and seven, you can read where the devil came and presented himself before the Lord and god said in verse seven, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Like a caged tiger, probably. Across the earth watching everything that's going on. The devil has a CIA, he has this interceptor system where he is constantly observing what is going on in our lives.
Verse 8, Then the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? And the devil said that he had, and that God had always protected Job. God had put a hedge about him. "I can't touch him. If you would remove your hedge, he would curse you to your face."
And God said, "Well, you have My permission to do whatever you want, physically with his stuff, with his things." Verse 12, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Now, Job is handpicked as the spiritual Charles Atlas of the earth. He is hand-picked to be in a contest. Job doesn't know it. The two big people, God and Satan, each wager that Job will either win or fail according to who was wagering. Job faced a test that was greater than Adam faced. Adam failed. Job's test was worse because it was more severe. It lasted for a longer time than Adam and Eve's test. And it must be endured while Job is suffering with boils. He's suffering great loss. Job's body is not fresh out of Creation's factory like Adam's. And so, he suffered.
Do good people suffer? You may say, "I'm a member of a Christian church. I should never suffer." That's not the case. Good people do suffer. Look at Job. The best man, the "Charles Atlas' of that day suffered the worst of any man of that day.
And Satan knows how to bring on suffering. Satan is nothing but a trouble factory, like an old fire horse just chafing at the bits to get started.
One day Job is resting in his hammock under a shade tree and in the distance he sees a runner coming fast. (You can read all this in Job 1:14-19.)
Runner number one comes up breathlessly and says, "Job, it's terrible! All of your oxen are dead! Your donkeys are all gone! They're gone. Hundreds of your servants are dead! The attack was terrible!"
And suddenly runner number two comes up. "Lightning just struck over here this way, and all of your things are destroyed! All of your servants are dead! And ten thousand of your sheep were electrocuted!"
And about that time a third runner come running from this direction. And he says, "In enemy soldiers have vandalized your camels. All your barns are gone. All of your servants are killed."
And here come a runner from this direction. He said, "It's horrible, Job. You're not going to believe this. A monster tornado struck. It struck the building where all of your children were, and they are all dead. Do you know what they were doing just before the tornado struck? They were drinking. They were partying. Maybe they were drunk. You know what that means.
Well, here Job had a crisis. In a few quick minutes Job was informed that all he owned was swept away. It was all gone. And now Job faces the greatest challenge of his entire life.
You don't always face the greatest challenge when you're a child. It happens in mid-life even. Adam and Eve's trial was over acquiring one measly apple. Job's trial was over losing a lifetime of accumulated possessions, including his family.
How would you feel if someone told you that your house, your car, your children, your job were all gone? And there was zero insurance! It would be pretty tough, wouldn't it. If you had been serving God because of the material blessings you had been receiving you would probably begin to curse God.
I want you to notice what Job did, because Job came out of this. If he came out of it, you can come out of your crisis. Notice Job's reaction: Job 1:20-22 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job worshiped God! Doesn't this just flabbergast you? Isn't it astounding that he would worship God? After all this you would think you would curse God. But he doesn't, he worships God. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and I guess I'll go out of here naked. That's okay. The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Praise be the name of the Lord!" I like that! He worshipped God.
This is absolutely incredible. Job continues to believe that God loves him even though there is no evidence to prove it. He sticks with God. But there is more... The next page of Job's examination boiled down to one question: What do you do when heavy pain wracks your body and you cannot get any relief?
I Job 2:6, the devil is given permission to touch his physical life. Because the devil said, "Well, You know I took all of his things away but he's still faithful to you. If you allow me to cause a little pain in his own body I know that he would desert You." So God said, "Well, don't take his life. God ahead."
So, instantly, the devil started to work. He afflicted Job with painful sores (Actually these were probably boils, I don't know.) from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Whenever the devil does something, he does a thorough job doesn't he. Whenever he takes away something, it gone completely. Job found a piece of broken pottery, a shard. You wouldn't expect him to find a whole pot after all the destruction. He takes a piece of one of the broken pots and starts scraping these festering, oozing boils.
And his wife came up to him. You get courage from your wife, don't you. And what did she say? Verse 9, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" She said, "Job, why don't you just curse God and die? Just have it over with!"
And what did Job say? Notice verse 10. He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job had a clear mind, didn't he.
Job was covered with oozing boils and suffering immensely. But Job continued his loyalty to God. He worshiped God! To turn his back on God seemed even worse. Job is amazing! Would you like to know His secret? Let's get into that. Let's discover his secret. I think I found out and I'd like to share it with you. I want you to consider it. I want you to sense the way that he was able to conquer.
I believe the secret to Job's success is that he did not regard anything he owned as his. Now you may say, "That's much of a secret." Yes, it is a secret. If you've ever had a loved one that has suffered a lot, or maybe a big loss, if can give that loved on to Jesus, if you could just fully surrender that into Jesus' hands, a load come off of you. Maybe your mother is about to die, maybe you're about to go bankrupt, just give it to God and a load will come off of you and you'll be able to go on. That's what Job did. In a few short moments hi world collapsed, but his faith in God did not collapse. He still believed. He regarded his children, his camels, his oxen, his donkeys, all as God's property, as God's stuff.
Was Job right? Yes, he was. God owns everything. In Psalm 50:10 God says: ..."for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills."
Every young baby belongs to God and should be dedicated to God. Our things are really His things. Our hearts are His hearts. Our body is His. We are entrusted with their care until God needs them for His purposes. So hold the stuff that God lends to you with a lose grasp. Then when God's need of your stuff, is made known to you, it won't be so hard to let go.
Years ago, I was playing with my small children on the beach. We were down in Florida on a beach. And there my kids were building sand castles. And I'll never forget this. On that day, one of my boys was building this sand castle and had taken a sand bucket and filled it full of sand and packed it down and turned it upside down, took the bucket off and here was a nice beautiful castle. My son had made his own. He put a wall around it and had a moat around it. He was so proud of his sand castle. I should have taken a picture of it. But before I got a chance to do that, a big wave from somewhere, I don't know, came in and the sand castle was gone. And my boy started crying.
And I thought, "How ridiculous to cry over a sand castle. He's only invested thirty minutes of his life in this thing. Here he is, crying over this loss." But you know, I've thought a lot about that "disaster" over the years. Each of us has a small pile of sand, a small pile of turf, a small pile of money that we've accumulated. A small collection of goodies of stuff. We keep it in safe deposit boxes. We keep it in safes, in vaults. We keep it in who knows where. We're all like that. Our little pile of turf.
And I want to tell you that happiness does not come from having things, from having sand castles, or cars, or stuff. And sadness does not come from a lack of those things. True joy comes from when you have in your heart Jesus Christ. That's where you get joy from. And Job knew God.
When catastrophe attacks, you can look at what you've lost and be hateful, or you can look at what you have left and be grateful. And, I think, as Christians, we need to realize that the best things in life are not things. The best things in life are not things. They are Jesus. Jesus Christ. Do you have that relationship with Jesus? If you do, then you're going to survive. If all you possess is Jesus you are richly blessed.
A wild forest Fire devoured the home of a German pastor. It was such a large fire that it devastated most of his parish. The church burned down. Then disease came into the area and killed his family, including his wife. They all died. Then disease flattened him and blindness entombed him. He was totally blind, flat in bed, lost his family, lost everything he had. All burned up in the fire. While under this avalanche of trouble he thought of these words and a friend wrote them down:
My Jesus, as Thou wilt; O may Thy will be Mine Into Thy hand of Love I would my all resign. (3SDABC502)
You would think he would curse God and die. There are modern Jobs. The only reason that you can face a crisis is if you have Christ in the crisis.
If Job had been serving God for the material benefits that he got out of it, then when they were cut off Job would naturally curse God give up on God. Love is the only motivation for Christian living. Examine your motivation for serving Jesus. If you serve God for any other reason than Love, then when hard times come your faith will fail.
Why do you return Tithe? Why give an offering? Do we make contributions because of the blessings? If so then when the blessing stops, so will we. We should give our offerings because we love God. Too many folk love Jesus like a farmer loves his cow... for the butter, cheese and milk, the meat, the hide it produces. We need to love Him unreservedly.
Maybe God is looking for followers who do not have their hands to receive but to give, because giving is Divine. Giving is Godly. God so loved that He gave. Followers who will participate with God in blessing others. Do you know that taking is human but giving is divine! When you give to help a needy cause, you participate in a divine characteristic? Giving is what God does.
Job was rewarded. Job's trials did not last forever. And your trials will not last forever. You may say that you have lost your daughter, lost your wife, that will never be restored to you. Well, are you sure? Job 42:10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.
Notice how Job was compensated for his ordeal. Job's stuff, his holdings, were doubled. Job suddenly owns twenty three thousand animals! Sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys as far as the eye could see. What about Job's seven dead sons and three dead daughters? Were they returned? If you read further you will find that his wife gave birth to seven sons and three daughters. Ten children, just like he had before. Why was he not given fourteen boys and six girls? His children were not doubled. Did you notice that? Maybe it's all he could handle, I don't know. Maybe he needed more children to handle all those animals out there. They all have to be fed, you know. But father Job is given seven new boys and three new girls. Do you know what that says to the heart of this preacher? That says that whatever was taken from you will someday be restored. Your children. Now, you may say, "My children are all lost. I've lost them. They've left the church. They've left Jesus. They're out in the world." Don't give up on your kids. You keep praying for your children. Some day they're going to be restored. That's my belief.
I believe the story of Job hints at what will happen -when God's children who have suffered for so long in this land of sickness and trial... when we all get to heaven our love and sacrifice to Jesus will be more than compensated for what we've been through. I believe that. That Concord air crash over there in France. No human being, not even the governor of France, giving them twenty thousand dollars apiece, can compensate for the deaths on that plane. You can't compensate materially, but God can return. Have faith in God. Job's ten children, so tragically lost, were all restored to him. They lived happily ever after.
Revelation 2:10 "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."
Friends, let's be faithful to Jesus. By continuing to trust in God Job was eventually rewarded. This world is the testing time, not the reward. Jesus is coming soon and His loving faithful children will be more than repaid for their loyalty.
Hymn of Praise: #93, All Things Bright and Beautiful Scripture: Job 2:6-10 Hymn of Response: #321, My Jesus, I Love Thee 000729Gettys#119
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last updated 8/01/2000 by Bob Beckett.