I Give Up ~based on a sermon by Pastor Kevin Dudley June 9th 2013

June 11, 2013

Job 38:1-3

On Sunday June 9th, Pastor Dudley said to the congregation gathered at The Church at North Point, “If you haven’t gotten to a point [in life] where you want to say ‘I give up,’ your life has not been made complete.” We have been told time and time again to “just hold on” through song, sermon and the occasional pep talk. One of my favorite songs is by the duo Mary, Mary, I Just Can’t Give Up Now, and has a line that says, “but how can I expect to win if I never try.” We are raised to be fighters, we push and push and push…we burn both ends of the candle and literally will wear ourselves thin trying. Whether it’s working overtime, pouring money and resources into maintaining a specific outer image, or simply staying up late to think about a way out of whatever our problem of the week may be, we will run ourselves through the mud, all the while asking God to do something. In these moments, God will allow us to exhaust our meager little efforts, and wait for us to get to the point where we give up, before He steps in.

Job was a man, who by today’s standards, would be seen as having it all together. His faithfulness and dedication to living a holy life is one that we should all strive after. Job was a good a faithful servant of the Lord:

Job 1:8-11

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

God allowed Job to experience hell on earth and the man remained faithful, refusing to curse the name of God (see Job 2:10). We are nothing like Job. We fall short and often find ourselves doubting that God has heard our prayers. We seek worldly solutions to our problems and run our wells dry fighting and pushing, working and striving. We muscle through blood, sweat and tears and still come up short because we simply cannot do it alone. I believe that there is a perfect place where holding on and giving up will cross paths. Pastor Dudley explained that we must hold on to the facts that no matter what happens in life, God is telling us, I got you (no matter what we go through He is there), I ain’t gon’ fight you (He gives us a plan for a successful like but we still have free will to decide if we want to do things the hard way or His way), and I’m always trying to bless you (God wants us to choose His way so that He can fill our lives with an abundance of blessings). Knowing these facts and holding tightly to their truth gives us the reassurance that no matter what we will be okay and so when we have worried and fought and struggled until we can’t any longer, it is okay to say to God, “I give up” and let Him work. Image

It wasn’t until afterthe tragedies occurred after the lamenting and after the advice of his wife and friends and members of his community does God come in and address Job (Job 38:1).  So often we allow ourselves to become frustrated when, in the midst of the storm, we look for God and because the skies don’t clear up and the sun immediately begin to shine, we assume He is not with us. The Word of God tells us that the Lord answered Job out of the storm. Because God answered Job out of the storm, we know the God was with Job in the storm the whole time. So often we seek answers and search for God when He is and will always be right there with us, especially in the middle of our storm.  We are encouraged to know that when the Lord answers us out of our storm we can count on two things:

First, the intensity of your faith will always match the intensity of your fight. In verse 2 of our selected reading, the Lord speaks saying, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” Obviously God knows who Job is; in chapter 1 He identified him as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” even saying there is none on earth like him. God knows Job, just like God knows me and God knows you. He knows the faith in our hearts and He knows the amount of fight that we can handle. God has given us what we need for our fight and the bigger the fight the bigger our faith. We know that He will never give us more than we can handle, we just have to learn to trust ourselves and believe in the faith that we have in our hearts. I imagine God’s question of Job’s identity was rhetorical and more for Job to answer for himself than for God. There’s a dramatic scene in the best Disney movie ever made, The Lion King, where the spirit of Mufasa says to his son Simba, “Remember who you are” as Simba deals with an identity crisis that has caused him to disown his rightful place on the throne as king of the jungle. When we face challenges in life, like Simba did, we must remember who we are. We are the sons and daughters of the Most High God and we cannot allow ourselves to be defeated. We have all we need for the fight and the best news is we’ve already won.

Secondly, we need to take note that the real power is in our preoccupation. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. When God answers Job out of the storm, He does not directly answer Job’s question. As a matter of fact, God never address what happened to Job at all. From verse 4 on through 30 God is basically reminding Job of who He is and who Job isn’t. Verse 19 reads, “Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder?” Where ever God speaks is where the power lies and so the Word of God is where our hearts and minds should always be focused. So often we find ourselves in a storm and all we can think about is the storm itself. There is power in the tongue and so it is the things that we speak over and over that we give life. Rather than waste time dwelling on the storm, turn to the word of God and declare His power over your life. God does not answer our prayers by running back a play by play of the problem we faced. Rather than crying over our problems cry out to God in joy, He has kept us. Rather than staying up night after night stressing over something menial, thank God for bringing you through another day and blessing you with a bed to sleep peacefully on, and rather than telling the world about all of your issues and challenges, tell them about the great God that you serve. When we put our focus on God, He shows Himself in our lives.

Problems will come; no one on this earth is exempt from experiencing heartache, hard times, loss or pain. But we have to remember that it is not the pain that we experience in life that defines us, but how we handle that pain. Always know that no matter what, God has you, He won’t fight you but He is always trying to bless you and don’t be too proud to give up to God. The intensity of your faith will match the intensity of your fight, so take comfort in knowing that you are equally matched against your problem outweighing any circumstance with the strength of God. Don’t put too much focus and energy into your problems because the real power is in your preoccupation. I left church service on Sunday comforted by the fact that God welcomes our sacrifice, so I faithfully give up. Image


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