Matt Hagee - Lord, I Don't Deserve This
Today, we begin this sermon series with the message, "Lord, I don't deserve this". And we look at the life of Job: that if he could testify to you today, he'd say, "The Lord is good and his mercy endures forever". Read with me James 5:11. If you're there, say, amen. "Indeed we count them blessed who endure, who have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord: that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful".
Heavenly Father, today we stand in your sanctuary, and we're grateful, grateful that your word does not return void, grateful that your angels have been given charge over us, grateful that your hand is upon us: and that you, Heavenly Father, have a plan to prosper us. Let us be thankful for everything that is in our lives today, because every good and perfect gift has come from you. In Jesus' name, we pray and ask and receive these things. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. James is writing a letter to the 1st century church, and it's a church that faced difficult times. They're the enemy of the state. Rome is hunting them, and taking them captive, and imprisoning them, and persecuting them for their faith. And when it comes time to encourage the church, when he wants them to know that God has a plan, he simply writes, "You've heard of Job". Now I think it's very interesting that Job lived in the Old Testament. Some Bible scholars say, in the time of the book of Genesis, which is thousands of years removed from the 1st century when James wrote these words. And it's also thousands of years removed from the time of the printing press or the Bible that is in our hands today.
When we hear, "You've heard of Job," we ask, "What book is that in"? And then we go flip through the Bible and we find the details of Job's life. But before there was a printed Bible, before there was any kind of written documentation of who Job was, for centuries, the story of Job had been passed down for so long that all James had to say is, "You've heard of Job," and nothing else needs to be said. For some reason, somehow, some way, the details of Job's life have been told over and over and over again until they were so well known: everyone was familiar. You've heard of Job. Who hasn't? Job is the greatest man in all of the east. He's known throughout the world for his accomplishments. He's great in his faith, because the Bible says, "He feared the Lord, and he turned from evil," "And he sacrificed daily". He's great in his family. He's got seven sons and three daughters. He's great in his fortune.
In his time on the earth, he was Amazon, Tesla, and Wal-Mart all in one. We couldn't relate to Job, because his wealth is greater than our ability to comprehend. And we couldn't relate to Job, because his personal suffering is far greater than anything we could imagine. Without question, we've gone through situations in our life where we may have suffered a loss or we may have suffered reversal, or we may have suffered a broken heart. But think about it, to lose everything that you hold dear in a day. Only Job knows what that's like. The reason that Job's story is in the Bible is not so that we could know more about Job, but that we could learn about the God that Job served. That we would understand that the God that Job served is not a respecter of persons, but he is a God who honors principles.
He's the God who is the Alpha, meaning he was here before it all. And he's the Omega, meaning he'll be here when it's all said and done. He's the God who sees the very end from the very beginning. He's the God who makes a way where there seems to be no way. He's the God who gives and he's the God who takes away. But no matter what changes we go through here on earth, he is the always the God who is great and greatly to be praised. Is there anyone here that's ever gotten mistreated, suffered, gone through injustice, overlooked, underappreciated, misjudged, rejected, offended, wounded, denied, or negated: anybody? If not, holidays are coming and family is coming with them. And when these things happen to you that you don't deserve, you simply say, "Lord, I don't deserve this". And we pull out our bargaining chips with God. And we start reminding God about all the reasons why we don't deserve this. I don't deserve to be treated this way.
I read my Bible. I'm up to date on my yearly plan: yes, I am. I say my prayers. I go to church. I got the bumper sticker on the back of my car to prove it. I've even been to Sunday night. I went one out of six Sundays: that should count for something. And yet, the Bible tells us very clearly, "It rains on the just and the unjust". Jesus even confirmed it when he said in his parable about the two builders. He didn't say, "If storms come". He said, "When storms come". Job testifies in his own life. He said, "Just as sure as sparks fly upward from a fire, so is a man born to trouble".
The question of life is not, "What trouble will come"? But the question is, "What do you do when trouble comes"? How do you cope? Where do you turn? When trouble comes, do you quit the church? When trouble comes, do you turn to a habit? When trouble comes, do you run and hide? When trouble comes, do you scream, "I don't deserve this"? Or when trouble comes, do you turn to the rock and the refuge of your strength, who promised that he would be an ever-present help in a time of trouble? When trouble comes, do you put your trust in a God, who has never failed and will not fail you? Do you believe that he's too wise to be mistaken and too loving to be unkind? Do you know what Paul knew when he said, "All things work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose"? Do you press on or do you pass out? Do you persevere like Job and see what God intended from the beginning? Or do you throw in the towel and say, "If this is how God's going to treat me, I'll go somewhere else"?
If you're going to see God's goodness in your life, then I encourage you to learn a lesson from Job. Understand that no matter what happens here on earth, God is still great and greatly to be praised. For on the day that his trial came, when he lost his business, and he lost his health, and he lost his wealth, and he lost his family, on that day when he was at his absolute worst, Job through tear-filled eyes made a declaration that changed his entire world. He said, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away: blessed be the name of the Lord".
You see, the entire nature of Job's test was to see if he could be just as thankful in a broken-hearted valley as he was at the heights of his success. And the Bible says, "Through it all, Job did not sin or blame God for anything". Do you want to know what infuriates the devil in your life? Do you want to know what turns hell upside down when they've thrown the kitchen sink at you? It's whenever they try to take everything that God has ever blessed you with, and you give God glory anyway. Job's test was to see if he could continue to be thankful. He passed the test, and then people showed up. Have you ever had a problem that got worse when people showed up? And the thing that people did in Job's life is they started with the most natural question that everyone asks, "Why"? Why did it happen Job? Why? What did you do, Job? What did you say? Where have you been?
Tell us the truth. We won't tell anyone. Just speak into the phone. And it's natural to ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people"? And in the Bible, there's three principle reasons why. The first is that sometimes, good people make bad decisions. The Bible says, "To him who knoweth to do right and doeth it not, to him it is sin". And there are consequences to your choices. When you know what the Word of God says, and you choose not to do it, bad things are going to happen to good people. For example, let's talk about single individuals. The Bible says, "Do not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers," which means if you are a Bible believer, whenever you're looking for someone that you're going to spend the rest of your life with, you're going to find another Christian, which means the person that you're dating, young lady, needs to have salvation, not galvation. And you say, "What's the difference"? Salvation means he loves Jesus. Galvation means he's into you.
Whenever you know what the Bible says, and you don't do what the Bible says, you suffer the consequences of your choice. Consider the decision of tithing. The Bible says, "Bring all of the tithes into the storehouse". Choices have consequences. When you choose to take God at his word in Malachi 3, he said, "Try me and see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings you cannot contain". Believe me: when God is daring you to try him, take him up on his offer. He said, "Try me and see if I will not bless you". But then he also said, "If you don't, you're cursed with a curse". "To him who knows to do right and does it not, to him it is sin".
If you know what the Bible says, and you don't do it, you suffer the consequence. The good news is 1 John 1:9. It says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness". If you're here today and you've decided to make decisions that are against the Word of God, you can confess it, you can forsake it. "And where sin did abound, grace did that much more abound". And you can leave here today with God's favor upon your life like you've never done anything wrong, because that's the kind of God that we serve.
The second reason why bad things happen to good people is that sometimes good people behave in ignorance. They don't know what to do, and they don't ask God before they do it. He's all knowing: you're not. And the Bible says that my people suffer for lack of knowledge. Yet, the book of James tells us very clearly, "If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, and it will be given to him". The Old Testament prophet said it this way: "Call upon me". Say that with me. "Call upon me". That's God speaking. God is saying, "Call upon me, and I'll answer you, and I'll show you great and mighty things that you know not".
If you're in this room today or you're watching over the internet or on television, and you're concerned about the direction of your life, and there's questions that you don't have answered, God has given you a personal invitation to ask him, and he will tell you. If you need a marriage that has to be restored, ask God, and he'll restore it. You don't know how your sickness is going to be healed but God does. You don't know where your prodigal child is but God does. You don't know where your provision is coming from but God does, because he's the God who can do exceedingly and abundantly, above all that you could ever ask, think or imagine. Call upon him and he'll show you great and mighty things that you know not!
You see, good and bad on the earth are very different in definition than good and bad in heavenly places. Isaiah the prophet tells us, "His ways are above our ways". And down here on earth, when we start to talk about good and bad, the reality of it is, is we have no ability to see the difference between the two. How would you know that what you thought was the worst day of your life was really one of the best days of your life? You can't be aware that what you call a setback is nothing more than God's setup for your future. You may be here today wondering why. Why did it happen to me? Lord, I don't deserve this. If that's you, don't lose heart, because it could be the hand of Almighty God making a way where there seems to be no way, moving mountains that you otherwise couldn't move, setting up all of the right pieces so that when you get where he wants you to be right when he wants you to be there, every blessing, every promise, every need, he will supply!
This is why Paul wrote, "O the depths and the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God: how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out". Simply stated, you and I don't know why God does what he does. It's just our job to be glad that he did. James 1 says, "Every good and every perfect gift comes from the father above in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning". If you want something to celebrate today, celebrate the fact that there is no variation or turning in God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Job teaches us the power of exchanging the temporary for the eternal. James says, "You've heard of Job, how he endured". What did he endure? He endured the pain of his temporary loss for the eternal promise of God's reward. He recognized that this life is not the only life we're living for.
And in spite of everything that he went through, he said, God, even though things have changed so dramatically here on earth, I don't think anything's changed in heaven. We quickly read the words, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away: blessed be the name of the Lord". But just in the theater of your mind, spend just a few minutes considering Job and the situation that he faced. He's there at his home, and his servants come, and they say, here's what happens, Job. We were out watching the flock, and suddenly a band of raiders came and they drove all your sheep off. He said, all of them? All of them. And just before he got done with that report, he turned over and he sees another servant coming his direction.
And he says, I don't know how this happened, Job. He says, but there we were. We were watching over all of your assets, and then this huge cloud of fire, it just fell out of heaven, and it burned everything. He said, everything? He said, well tell me about the camels. He said, well about the camels, he said, there were a bunch of guys that came in out of nowhere, and they took all 3,000 of them. He said, well what do we have left? He says, nothing. He says, wow: it's going to be an interesting day. What am I going to tell my wife? What am I going to tell my kids? And before he can get those words out of his mouth, somebody comes and taps him on the shoulder, and says, Job, it's the kids. He says, what's with my kids? He said, they were all in one house. They were all having a great feast. And he said, we don't understand it, but a wind blew out of heaven, and the roof caved in. He says, well was anybody hurt? He says, they're not hurt, Job: they're gone. He said, what do you mean "They're gone"? He said, all ten of them. All seven sons and all three daughters, Job, they didn't make it.
And Job digs, with his own hands, ten graves. And Job buries what no parent should ever be forced to lose. And with eyes that are so filled with tears that the world looks like a blur, and with a heart that is broken in more pieces than poets can count, Job looks up at heaven, and he exchanges all of his temporary losses for the eternal reward that belongs to those that believe in him. He says, "The Lord gives". I don't understand one moment of this life from the next. I don't understand how we were so successful. I don't understand where all of the sheep, and the camel, and the goats, and all of the blessings came from, but the Lord gave it. And I don't understand why it left. But the Lord took it away. All I understand is that no matter what state I'm in, on the side of the blessing or in the midst of the burden, my job is to say, "Blessed," "Blessed be the name of the Lord".
You see you can't pick when you praise him. You don't get to choose when you're thankful to him. He's either worthy to be praised and worthy of thanksgiving all of the time or none of the time. Job exchanged what he couldn't have temporarily for what he knew was his eternally. He lost his home. He lost his health. He lost his happiness. He lost his comfort and his children. He lost his property and his possessions. He lost his wealth and his friends. But eternally, he made a down payment on his tomorrow when he simply said, "Blessed," "Blessed be the name of the Lord". Job may not have understood why it was happening, but he didn't change his mind about the God who controlled everything. He began to say, "God, I thank you. I thank you that you spared me. You've got to have a reason for leaving me here. I thank you that I'm pressed but I'm not crushed, I'm persecuted by I'm not abandoned. I'm struck down but I'm not destroyed. I thank you for the years that you gave. And I thank you, father, that weeping may endure for the night, but you promised me your joy is coming in the morning".
In everything give thanks. Some of you in this room may be going through a trial you don't understand. "In everything give thanks," for the Lord who gives and the Lord who takes away is worthy to be praised. In the theater of my mind, I see Job today, because the Bible says that the latter end of Job's life was blessed twice as much as the former, when you turn in the book to Job 42:12, it says, "Now the latter days of Job, the Lord blessed more than the beginning". And it gives him detail for detail. It says, "He had 7,000 sheep". He ended with 14,000 sheep. He had 3,000 camels. He ended with 6,000 camels. He had 500 yoke of oxen. He ended with a thousand yoke of oxen. He had 500 donkeys. He ended with a thousand donkeys. God gave him seven more sons and God gave him three more daughters. And you would say, "Well he doubled everything except for the kids".
But here's the thing: this life is not the life we're living for. The Bible tells us that Job died old and full of age: that he actually lived to see his grandchildren and his great grandchildren for four generations. But when he breathed his last breath of life on this earth, a squadron of angels was dispatched from heavenly places, and took him beyond the stars into the place that is prepared for the righteous. When he walked into the presence of God, the Bible tells us in revelation that every tear that Job ever cried was wiped away from his eyes. And then he got to see them. Then he got to embrace those seven sons and the three daughters that he buried. He was reunited in a land of splendor. He sits today at a table in a mansion that's built by the architect of the ages.
And there's not seven sons and three daughters, but there's 14 sons and there's six daughters, because in heavenly place, everything is restored and everything is fulfilled, and every reunion is ever made. You see, heaven is the place where everything that you were willing to give up temporarily, eternally becomes yours.
And today, I see Job sitting at that table with those 20 children. And he's listening to them talk about the goodness of God, and he's listening to them share about his favor upon their life, and he's listening, and listening to the joy that's around his living room. And he lifts his hands, and he says, "Lord, I don't deserve this. I don't deserve your goodness. I don't deserve your mercy. I don't deserve your favor, but thank you". Blessed, blessed be the name of the Lord. "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord". Would you stand to your feet in the presence of the Lord?
Father, today in this sanctuary, we declare that we are thankful, thankful for your goodness, thankful for your mercy, thankful for your grace, thankful for your loving kindness: thankful that every promise you have ever made, you've always kept it: for every word that you have ever spoken, you have always brought it to pass. Lord, we thank you that in the mighty name of Jesus, we get to come boldly before your throne today, and every need we have is met, and every question we ask is answered. Lord, we thank you that you are the glory and the lifter of our head, our strength and our song, and our soon-coming king. We bless your name: for we your children are thankful this day, in Jesus' name. Amen.