Saturday, May 27, 2017

Worthless Physicians


You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! If only you would be silent! For you, that would be wisdom. Job 13:4-5

Note: This passage immediately preceded the one from May 24: Job 13:6-12. Remember, Job was under trial because God was pleased with him and so Satan wanted to push him to the limits to try to get him to abandon his devotion to God and His ways. Job's friends (his worthless physicians) were reprimanded by God at the end. (Job 42:7-10)

There is a very important lesson in this for us. Coming under persecution, trial and tribulations does not necessarily mean we have done anything wrong. It may only be a test through which we must hold fast to the truth (Luke 6:22-23, Matt. 5:10-13, James 1:12-16). We need to hold our ground, remembering how good our God is, even when our friends and family tell us that we are suffering because He is displeased with us. Job's wife advised him to "curse God and die" so that he could avoid his suffering. (Job 2:9) Job knew that he would "come forth as gold" when tried, even though he didn't realize how difficult the trial by fire would be. (Job 23:10) (Isa. 48:10, 1Pet. 5:6-11, Psalm 17, 1Pet. 4:12-19)

We are in that position more frequently than we may realize. Every time we cave in to the wicked ways of the world and go along with the flow (whether we "have no choice" or we actually just prefer it), we have failed a little test. (Rom. 12:9-21, 1John 2:15-17) If we glide along through life and no one ever persecutes us for our faith, then maybe we have hidden our light under a bushel. (Matt. 5:14-16, Luke 11:33-36) Jesus, John, Paul and Peter all warned us to expect difficulty when we follow Jesus. (John 15:18-21, 1John 3:12-13, 2Tim. 3:12-13, Philip. 1:27-30)

Today, it seems to be just as likely to be persecuted from WITHIN the [self-professed] church as from without. People love to take snippets of scripture out of context and use them against anyone who challenges the culture. Passages about not tearing one another apart and the unity of the body of Christ are made into one-sided missiles--anyone who stands up for the truth is accused of being divisive. (Ga. 5:13-26, 2Cor. 6:14-18) They fling pieces of Bible verses at people like darts. "Judge not" and "beware of practicing righteousness before men to be seen" are stripped of their context. (Matt. 7:3-5, John 7:24, Matt. 6:1-14) "Forgiving" sins now means condoning sins. (Rom. 1:18-32, Eph. 4:17-5:20, 1Pet. 4:1-5) "Rebuke your brother when he sins" apparently never was uttered by Jesus. (Luke 17:3-4) He only came to heal and never mentioned repentance from sins? (John 5:14, John 8:11) Love has been redefined as "anything goes" except judging--but the ones trying to stifle "intolerance" have already judged everyone who disagrees with them. And they haven't done so according to the full counsel of scripture, but according to their own version of it with many edits per their own preferences. (Acts 20:26-31, 2Tim. 3:1-4:5)

Just know this. Everyone will give an account of himself to Jesus. (Matt. 12:36-37, Matt. 25:31-46, Romans 14 in context, Heb. 4:12-13) Would you go and visit someone in prison for preaching the gospel if it were illegal? Or would you distance yourself from them and maybe even join the world in condemning them in order to avoid drawing attention to yourself? (2Tim. 1:16-18, Mark 8:38, Matt. 13:18-23, 1John 2:19, John 6:66-69) Jesus said He came to bring division. He separates the wheat from the chaff through tests such as these. (Matt. 3:12, Matt. 10:34-42, Luke 14:25-35, 1Pet. 1:6-7, Heb. 12:3-29) He will vindicate and reward those who held fast despite persecution, whether from unbelievers or professed "believers" who think they can live with one foot in the world and one in the kingdom of God. (Rev. 2:8-11, Rev. 3:7-13, Rev. 22:10-14)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:23-39

Job was an overcomer (not through positive "self-talk" but by knowing and trusting in God) and He was richly rewarded for his faithfulness. Those who abandoned him or gave him poor advice during his suffering witnessed his redemption and restoration by the hand of God. (Job 42:11-17)

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:14-22

paper: Createwings (retired); elements: Kate Hadfield