By the Grace of God

1 PeterHow many Bibles do you have in your home? How many churches are within a 5-mile radius of you? How many Bible studies/devotions do you have?

Now consider the number of people in your church. What about the number of other believers you know at work? At least in America, we aren’t yet short on people who at least know of God and many of us are blessed to be able to regularly interact with godly people who encourage us.

Add to these numbers the available resources on the Internet and television, and it’s safe to say we don’t lack for opportunity to learn about God.

I love to learn about God, about His promises of blessings and how He has a plan for my life and that His plan is for a future and a hope. But I must admit that this sometimes replaces actually knowing God.

Consider Job

In Job 1:1, God said to Satan,

“Have you noticed my servant Job? Look at this man of integrity, the finest in all the earth, who fears God and rejects all evil (Job 1:8).”

But while Satan considered Job by saying he was who he was because of His riches and prosperity, let us consider Job and why God felt confident allowing Satan to test him.

Ephesians 1Job amazes anyone who takes the time to study his life. He lost everything… wife, kids, wealth, health… and still remained a man of integrity, still feared God and still rejected evil. No matter what happened, Job simply refused to turn from God. If you haven’t read the full story, please do so. It’s an amazing one and so full of impact that James references him as a prophet.

“For examples of patience and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy” (James 5:10-11).

In The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge points out a fact about Job that not only had I not considered before but that struck me as tremendously profound.

“The thing that’s stunningly amazing is that Job survived his ordeal without the aid of written Scripture, without the support of godly friends, and without anyone who could speak the prophetic word of the Lord to him.”

Job was the first book of the Bible to be put on paper. As such, Sorge notes that

“it’s fascinating to consider what was the first message that the Holy Spirit wanted to establish with quill and ink.”

Job went through tremendous trials, unimaginable heartache and significant loneliness before getting any understanding of God’s working in his life. And, it turns out, Job went through all of this alone with literally just his faith in God to sustain Him.

How is this possible?Ephesians 2

How could Job “patiently endure” so much and never turn from God?  Without a study Bible or a Bible dictionary or a church to go to or encouraging friends or a devotional or the Internet (gasp!), how did he make it?

Sorge helps answer the question by saying,

“The fact that Job came through with his faith intact is testimony both to the grace of God on his life and to the eminent stature of his spirituality.”

The grace of God absolutely answers this question. And the answer forces me to confront aspects of my own spirituality, namely the lack of recognition of God’s grace in my own life – or maybe it’s more that I take His grace for granted – and the over-dependence on tools for knowing about Him. I’m not saying these tools are bad, but I am saying they can distract from simply basking in His grace.

Don’t get rid of your Bibles and study tools or stop using those awesome Internet resources, and certainly don’t stop connecting with other godly believers. These are all good, useful and worthwhile. But perhaps, like me, you need to become more aware – or re-aware – of His grace. Perhaps spending more time recognizing and thanking Him for His grace in your life before delving into those tools will make them even more effective. Perhaps.

DISCUSSION: In what other ways does a focus on the tools distract us from focusing on God’s grace?

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger is reading, and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other active participants include Dusty, Glynn, Joell, and Rick at present.

15 thoughts on “By the Grace of God

  1. I think the tools sometimes distract people from spending time in God's Word. Nothing is better than the Bible and just fellowshipping with God while we're reading it. Those tools also take up time, so we have to be careful how we use it. Job is a comforting example to us when life isn't going well!

  2. I think they can introduce an element of pride that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Notice that Job never even considers questioning God until his friends pile it on. Others’ opinions can be a distraction and one I too often pursue. Thanks for the insights, Kari. I didn’t remember that James mentions Job. Amazing guy.

    • You add a great point yourself, about sources that add elements that wouldn't otherwise be there. Just goes to show how we have to deliberately resist culture and measure everything against God's Word. I didn't remember it either until I read it in the Sorge book.

  3. Great word, Kari!

    At the start of this year God gave me the word, DEPENDENCE.
    I thought I did depend on Him but throughout this year God has shown me ways I could improve on this.
    I found there were times I would call my husband, mom, sister, etc with good news (or bad news) before ever talking to God. If something went wrong I would immediately ask a loved one to pray for me. Nothing wrong with that, but for some reason I had it in my mind that their prayers were more powerful than mine. God showed me I needed to trust Him more, to depend on Him. He loves ME just as much as all His creation.
    It's been a mind blowing year! I'm still growing.

    • Great example! Learning to go to Him first, to love Him above all, really sums up the perfection process this side of Heaven, doesn't it? "Mind blowing year" huh? That sounds somewhat interesting.

  4. I just bought that book for my daughter. Instead of spending time with God sometimes it seems we spend time learning about him. I do not know the fine line between the two at times. How do we just spend time with Him instead of on the outside looking in. Instead of looking at God how can we better be with God.

    • The book is certainly not for the faint-hearted and can really lead to significant change if the reader is open to it. You pose the question well: How do we spend time with Him instead of on the outside looking in? Instead of looking at God, how can we better be with God? I think it starts with spending quiet time with Him in silence, but there's so much more to it since much of life isn't quiet for most people. How do you think we can move toward this, Mark?

  5. I think many people believe in God, that he exists, but they don't see Him as Creator, Father, Savior, Redeemer, the Life giver, the Strength to which we can run. They know of Him, but don't worship Him.
    I will have to look for this book, sounds interesting. I had not thought about Job not having any outside resources. I guess that just shows us God is enough. What an awesome thought. If we loose everything else, God is still there, and He is enough. His grace is sufficient when our strength is gone. I know it is true. Thanks Kari!

    • Yeah, I do too, at least some version of God anyway. Job makes me think of stories of POWs who came back with stronger faiths and had only what they remember of Scripture & personal connection to God with them in the cell. Just tells me there is so much more of God I can tap into. Exciting!

  6. I think that God has communicated with his people in different ways during different periods of history. I'm reminded of Noah, who also had no written scriptures. But to me, I'm more thankful for the written word and the Holy Spirit that I do have. I don't think of it so much as dependence on those tools as it is using the tools that he has entrusted with during this time period. But I do think that we can get to the point where we believe in Father, Son, and Holy Bible instead of Holy Spirit. It can get to the point where it's academic instead of life changing.

    • Well said, Loren. The tools we have today are given to us by God for our time. Also, that we can get to the point where we depend on those tools instead of on God alone. I hear people quoting scripture all the time but not seeing their lives changed by it. My point was to stress knowing God over know about God. I believe we should be able to sit in silence without any of the tools and connect with Him. We don’t need them to have a relationship with Him, but He has given them to us because our time and culture is so impactful that having those tools gives us a much better shot at not succumbing to it. Great discussion! Thanks!

  7. Every once in a while God speaks to me about the grace He has on my life. It might be while I'm driving, praying, or through another person (A sermon or book). Each time I get re-blown away about how He did on the cross for our sins and how He loves and cares about us even though we might make the same mistake over and over:) God's grace is bigger than any mistake! Great thoughts in this post!

    • So often, I think "What the Bible says seems so crazy. It just seems too impossible." And God immediately speaks to me and says, "Believe it anyway," and then through His grace gives me faith to believe what His Word says and what He's proven time and time again to be true in my life. Now that's amazing to me! Love how you said it as getting "re-blown away," because it's so fitting for describing what His grace does in so many ways over and over again in our lives. People too often overuse words like "blown away" and "mind blowing," but I don't believe they can be overused when it comes to describing God's grace.

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