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The Closest You Can Get to God
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THE CLOSEST YOU CAN GET TO GOD
How many of you have reached the point where you think God has forsaken you? Something has happened or maybe even many things have happened and you question where God is. Why does He let this continue? Maybe you have served Him faithfully for many years. Maybe you feel you have failed Him by sinning against Him. Maybe you are a new believer and you thought things were going to get better, but they haven’t. Instead they have gotten worse. What in this world is going on? So many Christians are suffering. And your cry is ‘Why Lord? I’m trying to live for you and do what’s right, but nothing is working, and what are you doing? I pray but it seems that you are not answering. HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME? Jesus also cried out 'Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?' My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? Other times I feel like Job. I feel like Satan has gone to God and said ‘Hey, I can make her question you, doubt you, quit serving you, trusting you. Of course she loves you look at how you have blessed her, but let me have her for a while I will change that. And I feel like God sat on His throne and looked at Satan and said…BRING IT ON!
Now, I have read Job a lot in the years that I have been a believer. I have even led a women’s Bible Study using a study guide. But I never saw this. I guess God did not reveal it to me because I was not ready. Whatever the reason, I have seen it now and I think it is important for every Christian to see the "WHY" in God allowing suffering. Read these verses and see if you catch it.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ so Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then 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, one who fears God and shuns evil?’
Job 2:1-10 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then 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, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.’
Satan didn’t bring up Job, GOD DID! When I read that I just wanted to scream "Oh No!! God! What were you thinking!!? WHY would you do that?"
God brought Job into the conversation because He knew him. He had created him. And He was proud of him. He even gave him his own book in the Bible. God used Job greatly back then and he continues to do so. Every Christian at some point identifies with Job. And we look to that book of the Bible to see where God was during Jobs suffering. In continued study we will find Him in Jobs life but not the way we want Him to be. God knew that Job would never curse Him. How? God knew because He had formed him in his mother’s womb. God created Job for this very purpose. What purpose, to suffer? No. To be an example and a witness of everything God is and His power in creation.
Psalm 139:15 my substance (body) was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret. Vs 16 Thine eyes did see my body, yet being imperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, when as yet there were none of them.
When baking a cake I know exactly what ingredients are put in it. And I know how long it should stay in the oven. I keep my eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t burn and test it to make sure that it is baked all the way through. God does the same thing. He knows what he has put in each of us. While we are in the oven he keeps his eyes on us and tests us to make sure we are done through and through, but not burnt!
God knows everything we are made of because He predestined what we would be and who we would serve. Take a look at Genesis 25:23 And the Lord said unto her, two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
That was the plan. God knew before conception what we would do in any circumstance, because He planned our days. He didn’t say two babies, He said Nations. He also distinguished differences between the two; one good and one not. God didn’t tell Rebekah (Isaac's wife) you're going to have twins and one you will raise to be strong and one you will raise to be weak, One will be a bully and one will be stupid, and it’s all your fault because that’s the way you raised them. No, God ordered their ways before they were conceived because God had a plan.
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
God had a purpose for us before we were conceived in our mother’s womb. And God knew that we would fulfill that purpose. How does He know that? Because God equips us to fulfill the purpose that He has created us to fulfill. That equipping is called the Holy Spirit. At the time of salvation we are given the Holy Spirit to empower us to fulfill God’s will. Acts 1:8 Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me. And I Thessalonians 4:24 Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will DO IT. See, we don’t get the glory because He does His will through us. To God be the Glory!
So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!’
So the Lord said to Satan, (BRING IT ON!!) “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. And the rest is history.
But that was not the end. Job 2:1-10 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then 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, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.’
So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse you to your face!’ So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ But he said to her,’ You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Once again this shows that the devil will use those closest to you to try to weaken your faith. I Peter 3:14-16 But and if you suffer for righteousness sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (reverence). (16) Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. When we get struck personally with cancer or some other terminal illness, or lose a loved one Job is once again brought to our minds. We look to him for an example of how he got through it.
Here is the closest you will ever be to God on this earth.
This is the foundation of your strength and peace in the midst of a storm. God created you with a purpose in mind. Because He created you, He knows what you are made of. He also knows how you will react to a situation and he made you to be a vessel to hold His Holy Spirit.
As a believer He has equipped you with the indwelling Holy Spirit. God has confidence in you. He knows things about you that Satan doesn’t. He would never have given Satan the go ahead if He thought for one minute that Job would buckle.
Ezekiel 11:5 …for I know the things that come into your mind.
Psalm 139:2 You Lord, know my every thought.
God KNEW exactly what Job would do and say during his troubles. God will not put on you more than you can bear. There was a time lapse between Job losing his family and possessions and his personal affliction. God allowed a time of healing before allowing the next onslaught of Satan. He will not allow Satan to put you through something that He knows you cannot handle. His Spirit indwells you; give every problem to Him like you give your financial affairs to your accountant. He knows what to do with it. Isaiah 66:2 On this one I will look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
The Hebrew word for POOR means depressed, and in some cases it pertains to a financial nature. In this instance it speaks of the heart and spirit of a man. It speaks of a spiritually crushed and depressed man that fears God and takes His Word seriously.
Ps 51:17 A broken and contrite heart, these O God You will not despise.
Ps 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Contrite in Hebrew means literally powdered, crushed to a powder.
We are the closest we will ever be to God in times of adversity and depression, when we are crushed to a powder and apart from a loving God have no desires left in us. When all we want to do is die and have peace, God is our peace. He is the nearest He will ever be, because it is then that He is able to show His strength. His strength is perfected in our weakness. (II Corinthians 12:9)
How often have we been brought to the point of feeling so crushed spiritually that all of the spirit life in us is dried up and unusable. It is then that God will be at your side when you call out to Him, He will let you know that He is there. And He will let you know exactly what you are made of.
When the rubber meets the road, something gets crushed.
And when you are the one that is between the road and the rubber, you will become CONTRITE, CRUSHED.
When the vessel that the potter has made comes out of the oven, and he sees that it is not perfect, he does not throw it away. He crushes it to a fine powder, wets it and remakes it into the perfected vessel that he intended it to be. He holds it in his hands and smoothes the clay gently, forming it as he goes until it is in the shape he wanted. He keeps his hands moist so as not to mar the surface. And when he is finished, he sees that it is exactly what he had designed. But it is soft and subject to damage so he must set it in the kiln to go through the fire. And when it comes out it will be strong and usable. What he began with is still there, but now it is refined to perfection. The vessel is strong enough to handle the job it was created for.
Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and we all are the work of Your hand.
Jeremiah 18:1-6 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, (2) Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words. (3)Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. (4) And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (5) Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, (6) O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Says the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
So, you are marred by sin from birth because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Now, you are broken, contrite, crushed to a powder. Now you are ready to be refined to perfection. Never the less, the Potters hands are always on you. It is the fire in the oven that makes you strong.
I was contemplating on the faith of Daniel and Sha'drach, Me'shach, and A-bed'-ne-go today and picturing Jesus walking along side each of them when they were going through their most difficult times. It must have been awesome to see God do the things He did in the days before Christ came to deliver the New Covenant. The Israelites had all seen God do powerful things throughout their lives through the Prophets. Parting the Red Sea was an act of God that was recounted over and over throughout generations. There were burning bushes and talking bushes and talking donkeys and handwriting on the wall and food from nowhere and water from rocks. And so many more acts of God toward His people how could they not trust in Him? There are so many times that I wish there would be handwriting on the wall to tell me what to do. Or a voice from a lamp, anything that would make me know that God was in control and had a plan and a purpose for what I was going through. You know, though, if I did hear a voice from my lamp, I would probably commit myself into a mental hospital. It is just different today. Back then they were used to things like that. They were awestruck, naturally, but they never thought they were insane. They just knew it was God through experience. Although I have had experiences with awesome acts of God I have never had a river part so I could go through it. I had to find a bridge. A mountain has never moved out of my way, I just had to go around it or through it. And the only handwriting on the wall I have seen belonged to my children and grandchildren.
The book of Daniel is full of God’s protection and deliverance. But more than that, it is full of His presence.
Daniel 3:15 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego…fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if you worship not, you shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
Daniel 6:7 Daniel…whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of you, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
And God said BRING IT ON! AGAIN!!
He had prepared them and anointed them with spiritual gifts for this very time. In Daniel 1:9, 17, 19 God’s work was in motion: Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. (17) As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. (19) Then was the secret revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. God’s plan was to show His power and protection through the lives of these four Hebrew children. And that was accomplished according to Daniel 2:47 and 3:29.
In the book of Daniel it is told that as children, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were all given new names after being brought into the King’s Palace. They were considered to be well favored, skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, understanding science, and had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace and had no blemish. Which I think meant that they were good looking. (Daniel 1:4) They would now be called Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, respectively. The Bible says that Daniel purposed in his heart that "he would not defile himself." And the others proclaimed to Nebuchadnezzar after his threat; “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will NOT serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” They all had a firm belief in God before going into the king’s palace. Their parents had raised them by the law of God and they had undoubtedly heard the stories of God’s deliverance of their people throughout the ages. God was in the fire with the three boys, and in the lion’s den with Daniel. We all know the story of how amazed everyone was that no harm had come to them. But the lost, in these cases, Nebuchadnezzar and his court, could see another man in the lion’s den with Daniel and in the fire with the three boys. Until then the King had not seen God doing anything in their lives, but God was there in the background. It was attributed to them as natural abilities and the teaching of the magicians, astrologers and Chaldeans. (1:4) You would think that after the first sighting of God in action Nebuchadnezzar would have never doubted the God of heaven again and worshiped Him only, but that was not the case. So, God set it up again, using Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to show himself as the Almighty God. Like I said, God was there in the background working in each of their lives to equip them for the trial that was ahead of them. In chapter 1 verses 1& 2 we see God setting the stage for His mighty acts.
A. 1:9 God was bringing Daniel into favor with the prince of the eunuchs
B. 1:17 God was educating the four children (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego) and equipping them for their mission. 2:1 God was giving Nebuchadnezzar dreams that woke him up and troubled him. And then he took the memory of it away so he could not tell it to the magicians, thus setting the stage for God to interpret the dream through Daniel. In 2:10 The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, there is not a man upon the earth that can show the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler that asked such things of any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldeans. Vs 11 And this is a rare thing that the king requires and there is no other that can show it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.
The stage was then ready for Daniel to use the gifts that had been given him back in vs1:17 ‘and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.’ This is not learned from a book, it is a gift, an equipping from the God of Heaven.
Daniel and the other three were prayer warriors even in their youth. So the natural thing for them to do after Daniels meeting with Nebuchadnezzar was to enlist the prayers of his fellows. 2:16-19 After Daniel brings the matter to the other three, they join in prayer, “that they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” God revealed the secret of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to Daniel in a night vision.
God makes all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
God does not set us up to fail in His work. He equips us with what spiritual gifts we need to get the job done. Neither does He like to see us suffer. But He does have a purpose in all that He does.
I remember in the newness of my salvation I asked the Lord to make me an instrument of His works. I had no idea what I was asking for. I had seen the healing ministries of the people on television, watched the preachers leading the lost in the prayer of salvation and I thought that was so great and simple. I wanted to do that and be a great woman of God. I wanted Him to say “well done my good and faithful servant” when I got to heaven. I wanted him to be proud that he had adopted me. What was I thinking! Sure I would like to lead a king to Christ, but I didn’t want to be thrown into a fire or a lion’s den! One day while at the Christian Book Store I happened onto a copy of a book about the Martyrs of the early church. I will be shamefully honest with you, there was no way I could go through that kind of horror and not deny anything and anybody they wanted me to. I would even make up people to deny! At that time, I did not know experientially my awesome God. It is now 26 years and many trials and tribulations later that I can truthfully say that I don’t want to go through that, but I know that I CAN go through that because He is with me in it. I have also learned through experience that I am incapable of truly denying His existence. Remember, God will not let you go through something that He has not trained and equipped you for. He knew that Daniel would not stop praying to Him.
Daniel even went home immediately upon hearing the decree and in front of an open window he prayed as usual. ‘Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did beforetime.’ The threat did not mean a thing to him because he knew that God would come through for him. And the first thing he did was pray.
God’s Purpose for the fire and the lions den was to win the lost by revealing His love for those that believe and trust in Him. God reveals His power and protection of His chosen people to the lost. Out of jealousy the princes that King Darius had set under Daniel plotted to play on the King’s pride and Daniel’s faithfulness to God in order to destroy Daniel. But Darius, after realizing what he had done, repented and fasted all night for Daniel. In Daniel 6:16 Darius displays his trust in Daniels God by saying: “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” God proved himself faithful to Daniel before the King and the people. So much so that in vs. 26 he said “I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end.’ The response of the King to witnessing God’s power and dealings was joy. 6:23 ‘Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the lions den.’ 6:24 King Darius executed judgment on those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, along with their children, and their wives: and the lions had the mastery of them, and break all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. God didn’t hide Daniel during his prayers even though he could have. He allowed Daniel to go through this to glorify Himself before the people that did not believe in Him. He turned what they meant for evil into good and Daniel came out without a scratch! Faith in Jesus and who he is must be our focus; our light at the end of the tunnel. He said that in this world we would have tribulation, trials, heartaches, but we need not fear because he has overcome the world. Just exactly what does that mean? I know that he went to the cross and died to pay for my sins and in so doing he beat out the devil. But if this is true why is the devil able to wreak so much havoc in this world? I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ, an heir to the kingdom and filled with the Holy Spirit, why is there so much turmoil in my life? Well, in studying Job and Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and then Peter walking on the water toward Jesus in the boat, it became very clear to me. God did not keep Daniel out of the lions den, nor did he keep the three Hebrew children out of the fire. Job was tested and Peter was proven. The primary point in each case was focus. Each had to focus on God
Peter was fine walking on water until he took his focus off of Jesus and put it on how deep the water was and he probably couldn't swim, and down he went. The only way I have peace when going through my personal tribulations is to stay in God’s word. It renews my strength and restores my confidence in the God I serve. When I am so busy that I can’t make time to read and commune with my Lord it shows, and sorry to say I am the last to see it. My dear friend and prayer partner, Bert Richardson, brought this word to my attention during one of my down times. I really appreciate her because she brought me back around to God’s reality. She said "Cathey, you need to read your book." Well, hello reality! The light came on and I knew instantly what was wrong. She was telling me in a cute little way of hers that I needed to get into God’s word. I had been so busy trying to fix the problems I had lost my focus and was not reading the word and renewing my strength daily. It is and must be a daily restoration or you will become weak. If you don’t eat for a day you may be fine, but if you continue to not eat for an extended period you will eventually become so weak that you lose your appetite all together. Daily nourishment is what keeps us walking in faith and a good witness to the world around us.
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