Maybe your wilderness seems terminal. It’s been too long between "breaks" and you’re getting wore out. Does it seem like you move from one trial to the next? Coping is a full time job all by itself.
Each time I tried to live in abundance it slipped away from me. Finding it was hard enough, living it seemed like an impossibility. Proverbs says that if we don’t seek understanding that we are living in the "congregation of the dead." I didn’t want to be a dead guy, so I tried to understand, but it was not coming.
Every time God said great stuff was going to happen, more rotten stuff happened. Hanging on is hard. My reality wouldn’t let me have any faith. My pain wouldn’t let me trust. The more I paid my tithes, gave offerings, helped and prayed for others, the sicker and more poverty stricken I became. My life was becoming a contradiction to my faith.
For years, I proclaimed as Ezra did, "The hand of my God is good upon me!" and it would seem, just to humiliate me and embarrass God. I wanted to be one that would believe in a time of unbelief, but my physical reality was growing larger than my spiritual reality. So, I sat in His hand, knowing that He was faithful, even if to a dead work, lost in me. I learned how to fight pain and trust Christ during that time. I learned how to obey when it appeared that the obedience would produce nothing, while the world comes against me in that obedience. I had to not so much trust the promise, but He who gave it. I had to lay the promise down. Maybe you can’t lay your promise down because you feel holding on to it is exercising your faith. When the promise no longer matters, that’s when we move from hearing Him to seeing Him. May we know the difference between faith and foolishness; touching Him, not "pressing" Him.
Coughing up blood, teaching that Jesus delivers. Being raced to emergency because I can’t breathe, preaching healing. Left for dead, believing that there was a work for me upon the earth. Constant pain from Cystic Fibrosis screamed at me every day since I was six years old, followed by the voice of God, "If you believe Me, I’ll do what I say." Sometimes, what He says, takes awhile. Mine took 35 years. I remember being in Kindergarten and screaming "Ouch!" and grabbing my chest. Those are "growing pains" I’m told. Okay, I thought “So I guess I’m going to be HUGE when I grow up because this pain is really bad!”
I lost everything to gain Christ. He restores and renews at His discretion and in His time. That has to be all right. If we have learned to trust Him, it's more than all right!
It is the remnant of the Lord who will trust Him and embrace liberty to forsake captivity. A fervent, proven and tried remnant! May we die and rise again with Him to be that remnant. Oh, to see Him clearly and not just hear of Him vaguely.
Enjoy the freedom from your captivity as God obliterates your bondage through the Prayer of Job. May you have absolute joy as you venture out into these waters of reckless abandon in Him.
The elements in Job's life that made war against his ability to fully trust the Lord were peeled away as he was immersed into the river of true abundant living. He went on a quest for excellence in the Lord by becoming vulnerable to who God really is.
That kind of revelation always goes farther than we planned and brings rewards greater than we can hold. True abundant living starts on the inside and manifests itself on the outside. This struggle between the spirit and the flesh has created "the walking wounded" of this current age.
The walking wounded are those who have tried to have faith. Tried to believe. Tried to move on. But, the wound is too great and the cut too deep. The skin has healed, but the bone is infected. The walking wounded minister out of their wounds and the Lord wants them to minister out of the healing from those wounds.
In my estimation, wounded faith is the #1 cause for the lack of expectancy upon the earth today. When the disappointment is too great, we avoid the process by which it came to us. "I prayed or hoped this way or that way and it didn't come to pass as I expected. So, I'll hold on to my knowledge and love of God; BUT, I'm not walking down that road of expectancy again. I'm disappointed and all this faith stuff just doesn't work for me." This is not the reason Christ died and rose again! He came that we would be vibrant and free. He came to bestow the abundance of who He is upon us.
Here's how the onion peels: Wounded faith will cause you to not expect and will introduce fear into your life. A lack of expectancy creates a lack of trust. Without trust, fear becomes perfected, destroys faith and will rob you of the ability to pray the Prayer of Job.
In Luke 17, when Christ healed the 10 lepers, it is said that "as they went, they were cleansed." The small army of walking wounded. Then, one of the lepers came back and with a loud voice glorified God, kneeled down and thanked Jesus. The Lord then says to him, "Arise, go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole." Trust was laying within his faith. What's laying within yours?
The difference between being cleansed and being whole is huge. If you're cleansed, you can look pretty good; walking around without leprosy and all! But, being whole is a different story. Being whole means that you are not only minus your physical leprosy, but your heart and motives are without the leprosy. Being whole will compel you to call the leprosy out of others as you believe for their healing. Being whole means that you trust the Lord enough to sweep the shadows out of your soul. Forsake a mere cleansing for being made whole today!
You can have faith, but without trust, that faith will never take you to abundance. Sometimes we get so tired of daring to believe that things could ever be different, that we just give up hoping. Maybe you have given up. The enemy of your soul will tell you that it’s not worth trying. The heart of Christ and the life of Job are telling you that you can make it out. You can get to the other side.
Stop planting flowers on your bondage, pretending it’s a garden. Christ doesn’t look back into your trouble, He looks ahead into your triumph. He doesn’t see you as a victim, He sees you as a victor. You must decide to look forward with Christ and dig up your bondage. Sure, replanting your yard is a mess for a little while. Begin the remodeling of your soul this week and be forever changed and renewed by Jesus, who is desperate to bless you. He just needs you to move some things aside that are taking up space in your spirit. The Prayer of Job will knock those things out of the way and make room for this "King of Glory to Come in!"
What is the prayer of Job? It's the prayer that emerged from his heart to judge his own soul. It's the prayer he prayed to judge his own impurity and come to a reckoning of his own lack. When Job's life taught him how to truly pray, he was no longer concerned about himself, but rather, he embraced the burden of his friends as well as his enemies. Where are the words? In your heart. Where is the formula? In heaven. Where is the answer? Jesus.
Job prayed a prayer that set him free. He didn't know the extent of his bondage - maybe you don't either. Come along as we discover the powerful elements that the Holy Spirit has revealed for the glory of God and your benefit.
Job learned the lessons of faith and trust. You will too as you enter his classroom.
Chapter One - "The Greatness of the Man"
Job 1:1-3 "There was a man in the landof Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil. ..…His substance and household was very great…., so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the East."
What was Job’s prayer? To answer that question, we must fully understand the man. Job had stuff. Really good stuff. The Bible tells us that Job had so much "stuff" that he was the greatest of all the men of the East. He was also perfect, upright, feared God and stayed away from evil. He had much cattle, land, sheep and many servants. Job had seven sons, three daughters and one wife. Job had it going on. Chapter One of the Book in the Bible that bears his name tells us all about Job. We know that Job had devotion to the Lord and undoubtedly held nothing higher than God. He probably proclaimed daily as he made his sacrifices and offerings to God, "There is nothing, no one who compares to you, Oh God." But where was it coming from? A statement made out of devotion is as different from one being made out of passion as conviction is different than commitment. Close, but missing the mark. He would begin the journey that would define the two and forever change him.
Perfection is a road worth traveling. It will test and try your ability to trust the Lord. In Genesis 17, the Lord told Abraham to "walk with me and be perfect." He didn’t say, "Be perfect so that you can walk with me." We are human. We have frailties and failings. God figures that if we hang out with Him long enough, we’ll start to look and act like He’s in us. That "perfection" is ongoing. That perfection is a process that the Holy Spirit helps us to achieve. It is attainable, or the Lord would not have said to "be that!"
Job’s search and quest was perfect. He, very obviously, was a man bent on pleasing His maker. Perfect in that. No doubt, a good man, who desired to walk in humility before his God. But, true humility is vastly different from observed humility. He would, in the end, come to a place of speechless unworthiness. What God calls perfect in man is very different from what man calls perfect. God is always looking at how our hearts are searching for Him.
The meaning of "perfect" in Job’s passage is: to be Gentle and Undefiled. This was his state. He stayed away from evil, so he was undefiled and now we find another character trait of his: gentleness. How will we find that in an age of aggression? The same way we find belief in an age of unbelief. The prayer that Job prayed will help you get there.
The meaning of "perfect" as it relates to Abraham in Genesis 17 is: Complete, Without Spot or Blemish, having Truth and Sincerity, Sound, Upright, Whole and Full.
Abraham’s mandate for "perfect" was far greater than Job’s reality of it. Abraham’s "perfect" was far more intense because that kind of "perfect" comes from walking with God. Job was a good man, but he had not yet truly seen God. The Lord would help Job live a better definition of "perfect" very soon. The kind that is "complete, embracing truth without spot or blemish."
Sometimes our greatness is in the way of God’s greatness. We try so hard to exist with our bondages because the truth hurts and the truth costs. A woman that I know is involved in a web of deceit. The lies are ruining her life and those around her. She has forsaken her dearest friend for position; in fact she almost destroyed her friend. An innocent. God will collect her, He is faithful that way.
She created and believed lies to validate and justify her position at the expense of another. She spoke with me and confessed that she knows she has done the wrong thing. I asked this woman why she didn’t step forward and tell the truth and set this sister free from the bondage that she put her in. Her comment to me was, "The truth would cost too much. It would cost me my husband, my position at church and the respect of my children." So, the lie reigns and truth is forced to lay silent in her life. Her "greatness" has destroyed God’s greatness in her.
All of Job’s "perfection" caused him to be a "good person," but the deep issues of his heart were still hidden from him. I don’t think he actually knew his bondage until he was in the heat of battle. He figured it was just something that he would have to "deal with" from day to day. I don’t think he felt that he was held captive by it. It’s just a "tendency." A small itch on my heart, I’m dealing with it. I’m "praying it through." Guess what? I don’t care how much you "pray" about it, until you give God permission to take it, it’s not going anywhere.
King Saul started out as a great guy. After he was king for two years, he became jealous. Jonathan kills 1,000 Philistines. Saul makes the announcement that HE killed them. Trumpets and all. If he would have confessed his jealousy to God right then and devoted himself to killing it, and allowing God to drag it off; his life would have been entirely different. I believe Jonathan would have relinquished his position on the throne to David, when his time came. The line of David would have been secure. Instead, King Saul becomes jealous and tries to "deal with it" on his own. Not wanting to pay the price for that perfect walk, King Saul let jealousy have a vote and it eventually won over all the other members of his soul and destroyed him. That small bondage that crept up on him was hidden within his greatness and he refused to let God kill it, so it killed him. The same affliction of jealousy that torments him in the beginning of his reign is still tormenting him 30 years later as he goes after David in a jealous rage.
Bondage is a big word and Job probably didn’t use it when pondering the condition of his spirit. Hence the trial. Trials bring truth. The question is: Will we embrace that truth? Even if it costs us our "greatness?" Trials will tear up your lawn and kill the gophers. They will cause you to know what level of "perfection" you are at. They are the thermometer of how close you are walking with the Lord.
When I was 16 years old, my Father kept refusing to allowing me to go into town. He wouldn’t let me do anything. Living out in the country like we did, a ride in town was always an event. Denied. For about 2 months, he kept saying "No." I couldn’t figure out the why of it, but in my house you didn’t ask that question! One day, I resigned myself to the fact that I would never go in town again and it didn’t really matter. It was going to have to be okay. I lost my bad attitude and embraced the situation. I remember like it was yesterday, although it was almost 30 years ago. My Dad told me something that has helped form my life. He said, "Now you can go, because you have proven that you can handle NOT going!"
When we can handle doing without what is before us, that’s when we have earned the right to keep it. God does not regularly take away what He has given to us. He does not regularly test us in the way Job was tested. But, He knows the place that He wants to take us and He will use whatever is available to accomplish that. We usually push our character building sessions aside and insist on the testing. The Holy Spirit is always talking to us, trying to perfect and comfort us. He is forever teaching on the greatness of Jesus. But, are we listening?
God commanded Isaac’s life of Abraham in Genesis 22:10-12. But scripture tells us that it wasn’t really Isaac that God wanted. He was after Abraham’s devotion to Isaac. The price of Isaac’s life wasn’t required, but the love of Isaac was. God does not require all of our goods and gifts, but He does require all of our heart.
What is your greatness? Is it in the way of God’s purposes for you? Do you have one of "those doors" in the back of the great house of your heart? Is there a sign hanging that says, "I’ve given you everything else, but this is mine, Do Not Enter." That’s a dangerous sign.
Job found out that the only sign that really mattered was the one that gives the Lord access to it all. The difference between the "perfection" of Abraham and Job was gigantic, so were the blessings, so were the hearts. The trial of Job, closed the gap. There was a cost. Are you willing to pay?
Those relationships, doctrines, attitudes and addictions are simply places for door hangers. The enemy likes door hangers. God? Well, He likes wide open doors! True greatness is on the other side of that door.