I actually wrote this post a year ago as I was finishing up Forgotten Hope. I had been working on the Word Clouds used for the beginning of each chapter, and was even mulling over another post based on that experience, “Head in The Word Clouds.” I never wrote that post because, as I began, this post came out. That post was to be about letting rules I had made (man made rules) get in the way of the message God had assigned me to deliver. In short, I had set a rule that each Word Cloud was to be made up of the entire word content of the chapter and represent the weight that resulted from the count of the individual words. For those who don’t know how word cloud development works, the more times a word is used, the larger and more prominent it is displayed in the Word Cloud. I literally spent weeks trying to get the Chapter Clouds right…with no success. Why? God’s task was that the Chapter Cloud represent the message offered in each individual chapter. My “rule” that I insisted on following meant that words relevant to that message were obscured by words not so relevant. God’s purpose and my rule (obsession) were in conflict. As I said, after weeks of my way, God asked: “What was the Task I gave you?” BLING! The light went on. I was so caught up in being true to the data (my rule) that I told myself I was being dishonest to alter the weight. The problem was the Chapter Cloud was not supposed to represent the “math,” it was supposed to represent the “Message.” I had been stuck with my “Head in The Word Clouds.” Once I got it out, humbled myself, and focused on God’s task, The Message, I got His assignment done in an afternoon.
I will let you decide how that worked out…
Chapter 1: Defining Hope & The Offer
This post, “Confidence,” God gave me during my morning prayers the following day.
You hear me talk a lot about the need for a servant of God to be Humble, to be Contrite. A cursory look may lead some to think that the topic I address in this post is contrary to that position. Not only is this not true, but, if I listen to God closely as I write, we should see that they are not only complementary but essential to being a Confident Christian.
I often quote Hebrews 10:38, “My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, I will take no pleasure in him.” This is something we discussed in the post, “Slip Sliding Away.” What I want to look at today is the flip side of that verse and is represented in the four verses preceding it:
“Remember the early days that you were in the light, when you endured a great conflict in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to ridicule and persecution; at other times you were partners with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you yourselves had a better and permanent possession. So do not throw away your confidence; it holds a great reward. You need to persevere, so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10:32-36
The flip side of shrinking back is standing in Confidence. We, as children of God, as followers of Christ, as disciples of The Holy Spirit… as Christians, stand in an Awesome place. Not “awesome movie!” awesome, but Awesome as first used in 1598. An expression of Awe, “Fear mingled with admiration or reverence; Fear inspired by something great” Webster’s 1828.
Quick example: If you were to stand on the top of a mountain, you might admire its shear enormity or its utter beauty. You might look out from its peaks towards the horizon and find yourself stunned by the distance. You might look down and quiver a little inside from the stark and seemingly never-ending drop. All of these observations leave you with an overwhelming admiration of the mountain’s greatness. From the mountain vistas, along with this admiration of greatness, comes a respect for the cliffs, crevasses, and snowy slopes. Standing there you realize how small and lacking in real power you are. You are aware of your own vulnerability. You have a reverent fear of the mountain. Not a fear that the mountain will attack you, a respect for all that it is and an understanding of how helpless you would be should you act outside of that respect. So, you don’t step off the cliff, yell into the precarious snowbank, or attempt to jump the crevasse.
As Christians, we are one with the mountain. We are part of a Spiritual World that stands tall over all that is of the physical world. The trees, the rivers, and the wolves and bears in its foothills have no real power against the mountain. God has made clear that all that we know and all that we don’t know are under His authority. The rivers move on His command. The wolves flee from His presence, and the trees bow under the force of His breath. Those who stand in proper Awe of this power stand in a place the physical world cannot touch. A Christian who stands in this place should stand in unyielding Confidence. Confidence not subject to the whim of life or death in the physical world. A Confidence that Paul often wrote about:
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that my circumstances have actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And most of the brothers, confident in the Lord by my chains, now dare more greatly to speak the word without fear… I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have complete boldness, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:12-14,20
Paul goes on in his letter to the church in Philippi further clarifying our point:
“My brothers, rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those workers of evil, those mutilators of the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:1-3
A Christian who stands in Awe of the Spiritual World and chooses to live and act from its peaks stands above the physical world. They have nothing to fear but stepping off its cliff and falling back into the physical world and sharing in its judgement.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; …There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:15,16,18
As children of God, we have nothing to fear from the physical world. As we stand in reverent obedience to His Awesome power, we accept His Gift of Christ, and we have no punishment in the Spiritual World to fear. A person who stands on this Mountain stands in complete Confidence.
But this level of Confidence of which I speak does not come only from the manifest Gift of Christ, but from the Providence of the God who sent Him. This is a lesson one man had to learn the hard way. Long before Christ was sent, there was a man who “was blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil.” This man taught on God’s Awesome power and Providence. This man thought he understood their full meaning, but it took a little Application to teach him what they truly meant. Once this man fully believed in both, he stood Confident and never doubted or questioned God’s will again. This man was called Job.
I’m not going to go through the 42 chapters of the book of Job, I am simply going to ask a question: Are you Job chapter 1 or Job chapter 42? Job is often misunderstood and misrepresented, but few can say they live up to the standard set by Job1 and even fewer to the standard of Job42. Job1 was the Godliest of men. Job1 was a man God Himself held up to Satan and the fallen as the best example of His children, saying, “there is no one on earth like him.” (Job 1:8) Job served God both in his community and his household, living up to a standard on par with that represented in the teachings of the Apostles. Unlike too many Christian homes today, he “headed” his household and made sure his children were respectful not only to him, but to God. Job1 was by any physical world standards a successful businessman (“Job was the greatest man of all the people of the East” Job 1:3). From this success, he taught and supported God’s ways. By all accounts he was “blameless and upright.”
So, what was the difference between Job1 and Job42? Unquestioning, undoubting, unrelenting Trust in the Providence of God. Job1 believed in God’s will and God’s power to carry it out to an extent that very few, if any, do today. Job1 thought he would never question God until Satan was allowed to bring the forces of the physical world down upon him. Some who read about Job sit as his friends did and judge his weakness and question his devotion to God. But I doubt that any of them ranked a Job1; if they did, it is unlikely that they would have even made it to a Job2, much less Job3, 4, 5, or 10. Any portion of the pain Job withstood is greater than the max most modern Christians could withstand, yet he never stopped believing in God. This is the place some get it wrong. What Job1-40 did was doubt and question God’s Providence. He questioned the decisions of the One who not only created the “Behemoth and the Leviathan,” but was Master over them as well. What Job1 didn’t yet truly believe was that All is under God’s Authority and that All, including his great sufferings at the hands of Satan, fall under the vision of God’s Providence. What Job42 knew was that God had allowed temporary, physical discomfort for him not only to show Satan His Providence, but to show Job as well. What Job1-40 was learning was that God will always work for our Spiritual benefit regardless of whether the physical world treats us well or terribly. Job1-40 had not considered that what God was allowing to happen was enabling a closer understanding and trust in Him. What Job42 knew was that the physical world does not set the standard. So, whether pauper or prince, well loved or alone, important or irrelevant, the physical conditions of his existence did not matter. Or, as Solomon would say, “nothing matters except God,” and again, Paul, “God works for the good of those who” believe, love and trust in Him, for those who stand Confidently in His Providence. (Romans 8:28)
Job42 repented to God saying, “I know that You can do all things and that no plan of Yours can be thwarted… I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know… My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You.” Job 42:2,3,5
thwart “to oppose; to contravene; hence, to frustrate or defeat.” Webster’s 1828
A person who has “seen” God knows that He “can do all things” and that nothing of the physical world or the Spiritual World can “thwart” His plans. To a Believer this is everything. To the degree to which it matters to us, God has told us His plans. Through Christ He has fulfilled a promise and made a promise. To a Believer this means guaranteed redemption, uncompromising victory, and Life Eternal. To a True Believer this means the Confidence to face a world that has no true authority or power over you. To a Believer who Trusts in God’s Providence… His complete plan, this means you should stand strong, Confident that, even if Satan were to give it his best shot, God has you covered.
The only question left is, will you step Confidently, willfully into the Spiritual World or will you have to learn to See God the hard way as Job did?
One more thing. I thought it went without saying, but you know me… The other thing Job1 learned in full measure was humility. I think it is obvious now that no one can Truly “See” God without being just as Truly blind to themselves. Job42 stood Confident in God having just experienced that there is nothing in himself or this world that can provide such a Confidence.
OK, I really got into making the case that a Christian has every reason “in the world,” as they say, to live Confidently. Not the world we walk around “in” every day, the Spiritual World we are to be a part “of.” While it was really important that I make that case, it is useless if Application gets lost. So, let’s look at that.
As with everything we talk about here at P.O.C., it is the “Act of” that gives substance to our stand as people of God. What we have made the case for is a life Confidently Acting “of” the Spiritual World. To be clear, not performing, but actually living as an undoubting member of God’s Spiritual community. Let me say something that is sure to gain some pushback: you do not acquire this perspective upon believing in God or in accepting Christ. Think this isn’t right? Look at Job, Joseph, and even Peter. They were all believers and ministers of God. They lived lives truly directed by God and Christ… no middlemen or guessing. God and Christ instructed them individually on where to go and what to do. They were three good examples of “in” the physical world but living “of” a world where God’s Providence reigned. Yet each of these strong men of God had occasion to question God’s Providence in light of the physical world circumstances they faced. All were taught through those circumstances to follow God no matter what. Whether it be into poverty and despair, slavery in Egypt, or to the Cross itself, these God-fearing men learned that God works in spite of the physical world, not in response to it.
I don’t know how many through history have actually managed to tightly and completely embrace this gift – the gift of Peace and Rest that comes from never questioning God’s Providence. We know Job did after his experience. It seems like when Abraham took Isaac up the mountain that his trust was unquestionable. We know even Moses stumbled a couple of times. The point being, I have not achieved the level of Trust that these men had, and likely neither have you. I am not talking about Belief in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I am referring to an Active Belief in what we discuss in “The Salvation Myth.” I am talking about getting to a place where we so completely Believe that He is exactly Who He says He is that we never doubt or question life (good or bad) here in the physical world. I am talking about Living (acting) in complete Confidence that every moment is known by God and is accounted for in His plan.
A Christian who believes this will speak Confidently to their spouse when they seem to be slipping out of God’s instruction. A Christian who believes this will not look the other way when their child comes home from college proclaiming Atheism, but will Confidently and continuously refute the “false” teaching they have accepted. “Job would send for his children to purify them, rising early in the morning to offer burnt offerings for all of them. For Job thought, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice” (Job1:5). With just the potential, a “perhaps,” Job brought his children in to purify them. A Confident Christian will Love their spouse, their child, and their neighbor enough to live by God’s Manual, not man’s. A Christian who Confidently trusts in God’s Providence will enter surgery or treatment without fear, knowing that whether in sickness or in health, or “whether by life or by death” as Paul said, our Spiritual Good will triumph. A Confident Christian will walk into work the best image of God they can be. A Confident Christian will go to the office Christmas party and feel no pressure to drink or participate in the gossip group. A Confident Christian will expect others claiming Christ to Act like it and humbly “admonish” those who don’t. A Confident Christian will not fear the butcher, the baker, or the candlestick maker. A Confident Christian does not get their Confidence from the flesh; therefore, we do not fear the things of the flesh (the physical world). A Confident Christian, in Reverent Fear of an “Awesome” God, will claim the same right as Tozer did: “I reserve the right to disappoint man in order to never disappoint God.”
The point I am really trying to drive home is this: Christ offered us citizenship into a world that is not subject to the effects of our physical world. As citizens, these effects may bring physical pain and even a physical cost, but these effects are only temporary and absolutely irrelevant to our eternity. As citizens of the Spiritual World, we are to Trust in the Creator’s plan and His complete Authority over that plan. We live in a world that would have us believe it is what matters, but it is insignificant within the vastness of God and ultimately is a slave to the Spiritual World we are called to be a part of. A Christian who Truly Believes this lives a life of Peace in affliction, a life of Rest in turmoil, a life of Hope in despair, and a life of Love in a world of hate. This Christian lives a life of Confidence that no matter what that life brings, good or bad, God has a plan and His plan “cannot be thwarted.”
© Scott A Caughel 12/01/2020