Week 9 Discipleship: Heaven (Part 1)

Have you ever considered the concept of Heaven? What can the Christian expect to experience when they cross over from the temporal to the eternal? The next few weeks we will discover a biblical view of Heaven. We want to see how Heaven is described, and what we can expect when we get there. Please spend time this week looking at a Biblical perspective of Heaven.

Is God Against Me?

Job said God’s strong hand had opposed itself against him.

God says Romans 8:31  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Have you ever thought that God was against you? I find it interesting that so many times life’s circumstances can make it seem or feel as though he has as turned against His own. I am not going to lie and say this is easy to overcome. Hardships, heartache, and tragedy can cause us to feel as though God has opposed us rather than worked on our behalf. I find it difficult to be right in the middle of where God wants me to be, and it seems like life gets more and more difficult. We have to constantly remember and believe that how we feel does not align to what God says.

Regardless of how it seems, we have a promise from God that he is not against us. He actually declares that there is nothing that can stand against those that are secure in the hand of God. God is not only on our side, but He is fighting for us. God is not against us dear Christian! God is for us! He is not opposing his strong arm against us. His strong arm is available for us to lean upon while we are weak. Maybe the difficulty of life is allowed to get us to a point where we learn to lean upon the very arm that is believed to be against us.

Please consider the verse. Go against what you are feeling and trust the fact that God is on your side. He is here for us to cast our care upon. He is our strong arm, our refuge, and shelter. He is never leaves nor forsakes. God is good and His mercy endures forever. He is on our side!

Does God Push Us Away?

Read Job 30:19-22

Job said: “God has cast me out.”

God says: John 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out

In Job 30:19, Job states that God has cast him into the mire. The statement insinuates that God has basically thrown him out into the mud. It gives the idea that Job has been pushed away and disregarded by the Lord. Here is one of those situations where we have to allow what God actually says about himself and his relationship with His children to override how we feel based on our current circumstances. I want to say that Job’s situation was horrific. This was a man that went from the top to the bottom in a matter of moments. It was a man that went from being respected to ridiculed within moments. Job’s life was definitely one of hardships, challenges, difficulty and agony. I also want to say that I am glad God does not give us a depiction of a man that looks so super spiritual that hardships never overwhelm the emotions and mental state. Job is a real man that truly does not understand what is happening to him.

God does not cast away. God is not in the business of getting rid of us. He is in the middle of drawing closer to us. God has promised that if we will draw near to Him then He will will draw nearer to us. Matter of fact, based on Psalm 40:2, God pulls us out of the mud rather than throws us into the mud. God’s love is far too great to cast us away. Difficulty in life can often times make us feel like God does not want us or has disregarded us. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Just because it feels like God has thrown us to the side does not mean it has actually happened. Some might argue and say “my life is just the pits right now”. It is very possible that what you are experiencing is worse than anything you could have ever imagined. However, that does not mean that God has cast you away. It could mean that He is actually using this to draw you closer.

If you read Job 30:19-22, you will find that Job is doing something, I wonder if he is even realizing what he is doing. He is talking to God. If he is talking to God then what he is saying about God is not aligning to what he even believes. If God had truly cast him out then there would be no reason to express to God how he was feeling about their current relationship. We have to come to a place where we allow reality to override our feelings and emotions. We have to trust what God is saying out of His word rather than what we are feeling in our emotions.

God Does Not Change

Malachi 3:6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

When I read Job 30:21, Job seems to believe the Lord has turned cruel. Job had a false reality about the Lord within his mind and emotions. Just because life had become cruel did not mean that God had become cruel. The immutability of God is a powerful characteristic that must be applied at all times. God does not change. In Job’s emotions it felt as though God had become cruel toward him. The thing is that this emotion goes against the very character and nature of God. God does not change. We have to understand that when we call God good when things are good then we have to call God good when things are going really bad. The goodness of God is not measured by the afflictions or lack of afflictions we face in this life. The goodness of God is measured by His character, mercies, and grace extended toward our sinful selves.

God does not start out being good and then all of a sudden decide to become cruel. God is not temperamental, nor does God get up on the wrong side of the bed. God is not moody. He does not have bad days or good days. He is not vindictive, spiteful, or emotionally unstable. Just because I am having a bad day does not mean God is having a bad day. God does not take out his anger on us because one day He wakes up and decides to be cruel today when He was good yesterday. God is not a “Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” He does not change.

Today I rest my faith on that which never changes. The God of all glory and the God of all comfort is a God that is constant, stedfast, and sure. The God of our Bible is one that is an anchor. While the world around us changes and moves like a roller coaster, God is our constant. He is our anchor that keeps us from drifting. Rather than assuming that God has in some way changed, we need to remember that God does not change. If He said He loved you yesterday when it was good then He still loves you today when it is rough.

The way we feel and think does not always align to what God says.

Week 7 Discipleship: When God Turns Cruel

Have you ever thought to yourself: “God is no longer being good to me?” Well, Job experienced some of the thoughts and feelings. One of the keys to getting beyond these moments is to realize that how we feel does not always agree with what God actually says. A person cannot negate how they feel. How a person is how a person feels. It just helps to know that God’s word is there for us to trust and rely upon when our feelings, thoughts and emotions take us to places of unbelief, doubt, fear, bitterness, and anger. I pray this week helps you. I encourage you to read Job 30.

Experiencing Suffering

1 Peter 5:10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Suffering is something that none of us ever wants to experience within our lives. Even though it is something we do not want, at the same time, it is a reality that Christians must experience. It is out of suffering that God opens the door of true fellowship. Suffering does not always fit into a certain mold. Suffering comes from financial instability, family disasters, faith-based persecution, loss, and even sickness. We encounter suffering through hardships, social rejection, and even tragedy. It is an experience that all of us must endure.

Please pay close attention to what this text is teaching us. Suffering is temporary. I want to take a moment and have us refer to Job. His pain and suffering was extreme, but it was also temporary. What happened in a matter of moments defined his entire testimony. The realization of this scripture is to teach us that suffering can be extremely painful on multiple levels, but it is also not going to last forever. Suffering may last a while. We just need to understand that suffering is still temporary.

The key to walking through this scripture is to understand that God’s grace and eternal glory is experienced through some of the most painful experiences of life. God’s grace and glory through the avenue of suffering is able to perfect us, stabilize us, strengthen us, and settle us. We must always remember that the trial of our faith worketh patience.

Job’s Response to Loss

Job 1:20-22  Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,  21  And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.  22  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Most of us reading this know about the loss and tragedy of Job. We all must realize that within a very short span of time Job lost everything. The one thing He did not lose is the one thing Satan cannot take away from us. He did not lose His relationship with the Lord. I want to take a look at Job’s response to loss, tragedy and grief.

The first thing we notice is that Job did not try to hide his sorrow. So many times people try to cover up their emotion. Job openly and sincerely displayed his sorrow and hurt. We have to learn that it is okay not to be okay. We need not lie about the internal struggles we are dealing with and allow brokenness to run its course. It is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Job was not okay. He was hurting. He was broken. He also did not try to cover that up. The first step to grief is being able to let wounds, hurt, and sadness be exposed publicly. Stop saying you are okay when you are not okay.

He blessed the name of the LORD. When we know God either allows or authors all things into our lives it becomes difficult to bless Him due to the fact that we do not understand His reasoning. Somehow we get the idea that Job knew what we know while reading this account. Job had no idea God was allowing this because He truly trusted Job. Even though Job had no idea of what God had purposed, He still was able to bless His Holy Name. We have to learn that one of the keys to grieving is being able to still worship God in the midst of the pain. We can say “this is God’s fault,” and ultimately it is God’s fault. However, we have to consider looking at the pain through the eyes of faith and trust. We have to be able to worship the Lord for who He is rather than what he has or has not done for us.

Job continued to walk right. Turning toward sin during moments of grief is going to lead to more pain and heartache. Turning away from the Lord is going to cause our lives to spiral out of control through bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. Walking away from righteousness when dealing with grief will rob a person of their peace and ultimately lead to more devastation. It is essential that we continue to walk with the Lord during times of tragedy.

Jesus Wept

John 11:35  Jesus wept. (Please Read John 11:1-35)

Have you ever wondered why Jesus wept? Have you ever considered the ability of Jesus to grieve loss? Lazarus was a friend. The loved ones of Lazarus were friends of Jesus. This simple action of Christ does not need to be overlooked or undervalued. This one short verse serves as a reminder of the depth of Christ’s love for us when we are hurting as well as grieving.

I have no doubt that Jesus felt the pain of loss even though He knew His ability to resurrect those that were dead. Jesus could not help but be emotional over seeing those He loved hurt. We all must realize there is a difference between being able to weep with someone and weeping for someone. Jesus did not hurt for those involved. Jesus hurt with those involved. He shared the pain of loss. He shared the burden of grief. His compassion runs so deep that He hurts with someone when He already knows how His will is going to develop through these situations.

Please let this be a reminder that if Jesus did this then He will still do it now. The fact that Jesus wept during the death of Lazarus serves as a reminder that Jesus does not just hurt for us, but He hurts with us. This is why He is a high priest that allows us to touch Him with the feelings of our infirmities. You may be hurting right now and at the same time wondering where God is in all this pain and agony of life. You may be feeling robbed, cheated, slighted, or treated unfairly. The Lord is a good Father that truly loves us. Even though His plans are perfect does not change the hurt we feel in the current moment. I am currently reminded that as a parent I have to do certain things with my children that causes them grief and sadness. It hurts me so bad when I see my children sad. I feel their pain because I love them and they are part of me. When they hurt, I hurt. The plan has to be fulfilled, but my love for them never changes. The same is true of our Lord. He hurts when we hurt. The pain that He feels for those He calls friends brings comfort.