July 2, 2001

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Dear WPA and Others:

I just sat down and threw my bible open to Job 1. Without any particular spiritual leading, I read through the first 8 chapters, put the book down and did a few other tasks. Then, I came back, sat down, and randomly opened the bible....again to the exact same page. Now, that was odd, I thought. I began to inquire of the Lord, as to whether He was trying to communicate something to His rather thick headed servant.

I reread chapter one, and noted really nothing new, but I found myself meditating on a few things and thinking of them differently. The three friends and their visit, for example. Tonight, I considered their visit as having been prompted by Satan and as part of a continuation of the attack. I thought about how well coordinated the attack had been and how it's final phase was carried out by well meaning religious friends.

I also thought about 3:25---"the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." What had Job been afraid of? Were there any hints?

I looked back at chapter one. Job was known in heaven and in hell for his fear of God. God regards him in verse 8 as one who "feareth God". Satan doesn't argue the point in verse 9, but he shifts to argue that the fear Job displays for God is bought and paid for. What did Job fear other than God?

There is a hint in chapter one. It is a fear shared by many fathers and mothers, who care more for their children and the well being of their children than they do for anything that might happen to themselves. Job, it is said, had commented out loud that "It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts."

This concern Job had motivated him to sacrifice on their behalf, early in the morning. It seems that Job had some concerns, some fears, that the good life of feasting and drinking that was being lived by his offspring might result in some trouble coming their way. And so, it is my belief that later, when Job is bemoaning that what he feared had befallen him, he was speaking of the deaths of his ten children. As a father, this would have been his most terrible loss.

Then still, the Lord is speaking. I read Isaiah 43 tonight. I call that chapter the "fear not" chapter. I heard a man preach once that the bible proclaims "fear not" 365 times....one for each day. I have never verified it, so please don't stone me if it's not true, but it sure sounds nice. It certainly is the theme of Isaiah 43 at the beginning.

Fear not, for I am with you, is the repetitive refrain. The God revealed here is shown to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is one God, one Lord, one Saviour. No Mormon, multi God persona here! He says plainly that He is only one, and no other God will ever be formed or created, nor has there ever been more than one.

There are so many things we do not understand. Wasn't that God's main and only rebuke of Job? Job, ole buddy, you just don't understand. You are too small....too young...too limited... too human to comprehend the vastness and awesomeness of your Lord and God.

I know that I am writing to some of you who are "IN IT" right now. Some of you are "IN IT" up to your chins, and the mud is rising. There seems to be no way out, things are very discouraging, and it seems as though God is against you rather than for you. You have been set up by God: bruised by God. You don't understand how this could possibly be happening to you.

I want to encourage you to fear not. The Lord loves you. Yes, he has allowed this time to come upon you. He seeks to produce something in you and make preparations for it's release. Our master, the captain of our salvation, was perfected through sufferings. How much more we little Christs? I want to remind you that this time of testing and trial will pass. It is called a momentary affliction by the Lord, though, in real time, here on earth, these momentary times may last for several years. But, after a little while, the Lord WILL settle you, establish you and comfort you.

I write to you as one who spent ten years "IN IT": in the furnace of affliction. The Lord counseled me several years ago that the time would come when my affliction would end, and that it would be the sign that many around me would begin to suffer deeply. In that hour, I was to comfort them with the comfort I had received in my own furnace.

So, be encouraged brothers and sisters. We are being forged into the finest steel, rendered pure by incredible heat in the forge. We are being bonded together in love and compassion for those in our midst who are hurting, worrying and yes, fearing what may come upon them. And yes, even worse, fearing what may come upon our children. Fear not, for I am with you, says the Lord. We are in His hands. He has bled for us from those very hands. He loves us with an everlasting, unchangeable love. He has seen and totally sealed our futures in Him, by His blood. We are His, and His alone. Yes, we shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Stephen L. Bening
a servant and prophet of our Lord Jesus Christ

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