Sure Performance
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

I have felt impressed to bring you a portion of the Word of God as it is recorded in the book of Job, chapter 23. In this chapter is the verse which God has given me for 1965, and I want to share it with you, that God may use it for whatever blessing He sees fit in your own life.

We will read together from Job, chapter 23, verse 1:

Job 23

1Then Job answered and said,
2Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.
3Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!
4I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
5I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.
6Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me.
7There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge.
8Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
9On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
11My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
12Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips: I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
13But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.
14For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.
15Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him.
16For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:
17Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face.

I would like for you to think particularly with me about verse 14 of this chapter, for this is the verse which God has given me for 1965. Look at the words again, and then we will be thinking about them:

Job 23

14For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

For a great number of years I have sought at the beginning of each year a verse of Scripture upon which I could base my life for the year–a verse around which I could base my relationship to the Lord.

When I say I have searched for such a verse of Scripture, I do not mean that I have dropped the Bible on the floor and wherever it fell open I took a verse that was on that page. I do not mean that I have read through the Bible and scratched my head and said, “I wonder what verse I can use this year?” I mean that I have waited quietly on the Lord. And in that time I have read the Word for the growth of my own soul.

You will remember that no matter how many times you may speak that which you are providing for others and may even apply it to your own life and profit from it, it may not necessarily sustain your own soul. There must be those times of quiet when you seek the mind of the Lord and nourishment from Him for your own needs. It is in those times of quiet that I wait upon the Lord, and inevitably the Holy Spirit of God awakes my mind to a verse of Scripture which He emphasizes as the verse that I claim by faith for the year.

This may seem like a foolish procedure to some of you. I make no apologies for it. I do not defend it. I simply share with you some of the things that God has given to me.

Review of Year Verses

Some of you will remember that in 1963 the verse of Scripture which God gave to me was found in I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10. You will recognize this as a genealogy, a list of names of stalwarts of the faith. Not a great deal is said about them, but suddenly in the very midst of a long list of names there is introduced to us a man by the name of Jabez who was more honorable than all his brethren, more blessed than all the brethren of his generation. In verse 10, we had the reason for it. God urged me to claim I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10, for 1963. You will remember that verse 10 says:

I Chronicles 4

10And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

At the beginning of 1963 we claimed these verses. We did not know, save that we believe by faith, that the last statement of verse 10 would be true. But we say to the glory of God, and many of you realize that it is so, that the last statement of the verse is true. “God granted him that which he requested.” I say to the glory of God that God granted me the fourfold request that is in verse 10.

As 1964 dawned upon the horizon, I wondered whether God would give me another verse, and what kind of verse it would be. As I waited upon the Lord, you will remember, He gave me a verse of Scripture which is found in chapter 29 of the book of Jeremiah, verse 11. He introduced that verse into my mind and placed it into my heart as a supplementary verse, so to speak, indicating that He was not through with I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10. In Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11, we read:

Jeremiah 29

11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

We pointed out to you that that verse says, “I know the plans that I have planned for you, saith the Lord, plans of peace, and not of evil, though they may seem so, to give you the end you are hoping for.” That verse of Scripture God gave me for 1964. I had to rest in faith that He knew what He was planning; I had to rest in faith that the plans He was working out for my life were not evil, though they appeared to be; I had to rest in faith that He was going to give me an expected end.

Some of you know that 1964 was one of the most trying years of our experience, as far as having to lean upon God is concerned. All of you are familiar with the trial through which we went when the Lord laid us aside in September and took us into the valley of the shadow of death, though He did not take us all the way through, but turned around and restored us to life again. If we had not believed that the plans that God had for us were for good and not for evil, we could not have come through that trial victoriously.

I wish you could see the mail we are receiving almost every week about how God has used this experience of being laid aside, this experience of trial, this experience of restoration, for the blessing of others. We have had letters since this experience, received from those who read the printed testimony as it was scattered all over this country, telling us that as they read that testimony they got on their knees and surrendered their lives to Christ.

We see now that the plans He planned for 1964, though they were not pleasant, were indeed plans for good, to give us the end for which we hoped. For the end for which we hope in everything that we do, though we may not always indicate it, is the glory of God. Anything that He may be pleased to do to me or to mine to bring forth His glory, that is the thing that I want.

Job's Testimony

As I waited on the Lord in the early days of this year for the verse that He would give me, He gave me the verse that I have read in your hearing today, and I want to re-read it, even at the risk of becoming repetitious, so that the words will become fixed firmly in your minds:

Job 23

14For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

The Amplified version of the Old Testament says, “He performs that which he has planned for me and of many such matters he is mindful.” Another translation says, “He will complete what he performed for me and many such things are in his mind.” Another translation says, “He will carry out what he has planned for me, and of many such matters he is mindful.” All these translations indicate the riches of truth that are in this one verse of Scripture.

I think that we can understand it properly only if we know a little bit about the background. You will remember that it is a personal testimony that fell from the lips of a man who lived deeply with God. The book of Job is a book that describes the trials and tribulations of a man who suffered much. You will remember that when Job underwent his suffering, he had three friends who came to be his comforters. They were not much comfort. All they did was to tell him everything that was wrong with him. They fell heir to the old idea that if you are suffering, there is something wrong with you; if you are going through a trial, then God is displeased with you; God is making you suffer to pay for something which you have done.

I received an anonymous letter in the mail just a week or two ago. It was edged in black and it said, “This is your death warrant. God tried to kill you in Houston. What else is He going to have to do? When are you going to learn that you are out of the will of God? When are you going to learn that God is punishing you for your sins?” And the letter was closed, “By such and such a day you may be dead. Goodbye; it was nice knowing you.”

Some people still believe that trials and tribulation are a sign that God is displeased. Such were the individuals who gathered around Job that day and gave him their testimony. One of the individuals was Eliphaz. Eliphaz indicated in chapter 22 the kind of person he believed Job to be and the reason Job was suffering.

You might like to glance back at chapter 22 of the book of Job and notice verse 5:

Job 22

5Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
6For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
7Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.

He went on to accuse Job of a number of things of which Job was not guilty. He was saying, “Job, your wickedness is great, and that is the reason you are suffering as you are suffering.”

Job answered in the chapter at which we are looking. The chapter tells of the rise and the fall of a man of faith.

So hear me: A man of faith does not necessarily live on the mountain top every minute of every hour and every hour of every day. His experience fluctuates. There are mountain-top experiences and there are valley experiences. Such is the case in this chapter.

Job's Despair

Let us glance at it hurriedly. In the first five years Job is in the valley, but he is hopeful that in some way God will deliver him. In verse 2, we read:

Job 23

2Even today is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.

It was almost more than he could take. The thing that bothered him most of all was that he felt he had lost touch with God. He felt as if he were out of contact with Him.

I don't know whether you've ever been in a place where you couldn't pray. I don't know whether you've been in a place where you felt, if you did pray, that your prayers were coming right back to you. There is an experience such as that. Job described that experience in verse 3:

Job 23

3Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat [throne] !
4I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
5I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.

May I say that that is one of the best descriptions of prayer there is. Did you notice what Job said? “If I could just get in touch with God. If I could just get his ear, I would tell Him all about my problems. I would tell Him all about my needs.” And then he said, “I would be quiet. I would wait and I would listen to what He had to say to me.”

In verse 6, his faith wavers a little bit as the Devil whispers in his ear, “Well, if you could talk to Him, He would condemn you.” And Job said:

Job 23

6Will he plead against me with his great power?…

“If I could talk to God, would God plead against me?” And then his faith surges to the foreground and he says:

Job 23

6…No; [He would not plead against me] but he would put strength in me.
7There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered forever from my judge.

Thank God that when we come to the throne of grace it is not to be condemned; when we come to the throne of grace it is that we may find the grace and mercy to help us in our time of need.

In verse 8, Job slips back down in the valley and says:

Job 23

8Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him;
9On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

“Oh, if I could just sense the presence of God,” Job is saying, “but I can't; everywhere I turn I can't find Him.”

Job's Response of Faith

Then his faith comes to the foreground again in verse 10, and he says:

Job 23

10But he knoweth the way that I take [thank God for that today; I wish you could believe it] : when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

That is faith! He did a little hard examination. He wasn't a silly man who tried to make himself out a sinner when he wasn't one. He wasn't a silly man who tried to act as if there was something wrong just because everyone told him there was. You know, sometimes folk do that. Sometimes when you are going through a trial and you have some of Job's comforters around, they will tell you, “There must be something wrong.” You say you don't know what it is and they keep telling you, so you go around saying, “Well, I guess I'm just not worthy. I guess there is something wrong.”

Sufficient Plans

But Job wasn't that kind of man. He said, “I'm not going to admit there is anything wrong. I know there is nothing wrong.” In verse 11, he says:

Job 23

11My foot hath held his steps [I have stepped in the steps of God] , his way have I kept, and not declined. [I don't know whether any of us could say that.]
12Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips [Could you say that? I'm afraid I couldn't.] ; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Do you feel that way about the Word of God? Do you feel that His Word is more necessary than the food you put in your body? Job felt that way. As he realized that there was no reason God should shut him out from His presence, as he realized that there was no reason he should be shut out of fellowship with God, as he realized, speaking in New Testament language, that all of his sins were under the blood and his faith established, his faith surged again and he said, in verse 13:

Job 23

13But he [God] is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.
14For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

Let's think for a moment or two about what God has planned. That is the meaning of the statement in verse 14, “that is appointed for me.” That word “appointed” is from the Hebrew word kaw-kak , and it involves the idea of God's making plans for you. It is translated in various ways in the Scriptures, and this will help us to understand the kind of plans He is making. Though we may not know the exact details of the plans, we can have presented to us the general outline of the plans that He has in mind.

Turn with me to the book of Proverbs, chapter 30, and notice a use of this word kaw-kak that will enable us to understand what God is talking about. In verse 8, the wise man prayed:

Proverbs 30

8Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

Do you see what he is praying? “Lord, I don't want to be rich, but I don't want to be poor either. I don't want to have so much money that I'm worried about it, but I don't want to get along on a shoestring either. Lord, feed me with the food convenient for me.”

Do you see that word “convenient”? It is the same word in the Hebrew, the noun form of this word we are looking at in Job, chapter 23, verse 14, the word “appointed.” It suggests to us that whatever the plans may be that God has planned for us, they are going to be plans that will be related to sufficiency. They will be all we need. They will not be behind in any one thing.

Specific Plans

Turn back, please, to chapter 8 of the book of Proverbs and notice this word used again in a different sense. Notice verse 27, which is in the midst of a paragraph which describes the creation of the world as the Lord Jesus Christ participated in it. In this verse we read:

Proverbs 8

27When he [the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking of God here] prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
28When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
29When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
30Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

We are interested in two phrases in this paragraph. One of them is in verse 27. It is the phrase, “set a compass.” And we are interested in a phrase in verse 29, “appointed the foundations of the earth.” The phrase, “set a compass,” and the phrase, “appointed the foundations,” are translations of this very same word that we are talking about–plans appointed for me.

We are reminded as we look at these verses that not only are these plans going to be sufficient; these plans are going to be specific. It isn't that He is giving a generalization; He is speaking specifically. Since I have claimed this verse, I want to say to you by way of testimony that I believe by faith that God has plans for me for 1965 that are not going to be limited in any sense of the word. I believe those plans are going to be sufficient, and I believe that they are going to be very specific.

It isn't that at the end of the year I am going to be able to give a testimony that God in a very general way was good to me. I believe by faith that I am going to be able to put my finger upon certain things and say, “This is what God appointed for me for 1965.”

Turn, please, to Jeremiah, chapter 32, as we notice how this word is used again. We will look at verse 11. This is a story of how Jeremiah bought a piece of property and properly recorded the deed as a testimony to the fact that God was going to keep His Word in relation to giving to the nation of Israel the land which He had promised to them. We do not have time to look into the details of the passage. I mention that so you will know what we are talking about as we read verse 11:

Jeremiah 32

11So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
12And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah…

That is as far as we will read, because we are interested primarily in the statement in verse 11, “that which was according to the law and custom.” Notice “according to custom.” That phase is the translation of that same Hebrew word “that which is appointed for me.”

Spirit-led Plans

That leads me to suggest to you that though the plans will be sufficient and though they will be specific, those plans will not be left to the will of men, they will not be left to the imagination of condemned flesh, they will be Spirit-led plans. If they are Spirit-led plans, then it would behoove me to wait upon the Lord and to find out what His plans are. I'd better not go off with the idea that is mine. I dare not go off with a plan that I have dreamed up.

God says He has some plans for me. He says they will be sufficient, they will be specific, and they will be according to the rule. I do not expect Him to work in any other way.

Turn back to the chapter in Job again. There are a lot ofpeople who get the idea that God is leading them in a certain fashion and in a certain way, and it is contrary to what the Word of God says and contrary to what the Word of God means. When such is the case, the plan is not according to custom and God is not leading them. Look again at Job, chapter 23, verse 14:

Job 23

14For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: [notice] and many such things are with him:

I would suggest to you as we think about the plans which He is appointing, the plans which He has in mind, that though we do not know all the little details in relation to them, we know they are sufficient, we know they are specific and we know they are Spirit-led. And we know that He not only has one plan but He has many plans, and we know that He is thinking about them all the time.

I believe by faith that God is going to plan many things for me during 1965. I do not believe that these plans will be an afterthought of His. I believe that He is thinking about them all the time.

Performed According to His Word

How is He going to perform all these plans? That leads us to the next statement in verse 14 that I would like for you to consider with me:

Job 23

14For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me:

I want you to look at that word “performeth.” I want us to accept by faith that God will perform the plan. I have accepted by faith, though I do not know the details, that God will most certainly perform the plan. I have based it upon what is in verse 13 of this paragraph, for I read:

Job 23

13[For God] is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.

God is of one mind. No one can turn Him. He has already indicated to me that He has some plans which are His desire for me, and I believe by faith that He will perform those plans. I believe by faith that no one can change the mind of God.

Look at the word “performeth” in verse 13 a little more in detail. It comes from the Hebrew word shaw-lam . It is translated “performed” in regard to God in only two other places in the Bible. I would like for you to notice them with me because I believe you will be able to understand the word “performeth” better if you do.

So turn, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 44. The paragraph into which we are going to enter, without reading all of it, is a paragraph which describes the faithfulness of God in regard to His Word–in regard to the Word as the prophet delivered it. In verse 26, we read:

Isaiah 44

26That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
27That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:
28That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Notice particularly verse 26, “and performeth the counsel of his messengers.” However God performs the plans that are appointed for me, I can believe that the Word of God is going to play a large part in them, because He is going to perform what He does according to the counsel of His messengers. And the Bible is the counsel of His messengers.

Related to Intercession

Turn, please, to Psalm 57, and notice the other place in which this word is used in regard to the activity of God. The Psalmist prays:

PSALM 57:.br

This is the other place that this word “performed” is used in regard to God in the Scriptures. Here you will notice it is used in regard to prayer.

Now, David believed that God had a plan. David believed that nothing was going to thwart the plan of God. But he did not sit down and take a fatalistic attitude and say, “Well, God has appointed a plan, so there is nothing to do.” He knew the plan was related to the Word of God as Isaiah knew it, and he would never get out of the Word of God. He knew that the plan was related to his own intercession, so he cried unto God Who performed all things for him.

I know, as I have claimed this verse of Scripture for 1965, that I must spend even more time in the Word. I must spend even more time on my knees if God is going to perform the thing that He has appointed for me.

Related to Reward

Will you turn with me, please, to the book of Ruth in the Old Testament and notice another use of this word that will help us to understand the manner in which God is going to perform these things which He has in mind for me, and I trust for you. Turn to chapter 2 and notice in verse 12 the word of encouragement given to Ruth:

Ruth 2

12The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Notice, “the Lord recompense.” That is the very same word in Hebrew that is translated “performed” in these passages of Scripture at which we have looked. This indicates that the performance of God has in it the idea of reward.

These plans are not going to be ordinary plans, God tells me. They are not going to be just something that meets the needs. They are going to be in the form of a reward.

If you will turn to Psalm 62, you will see the reason that thought comes to mind. Notice verse 12:

Psalm 62

12Also unto thee, O LORD, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

Notice the word “renderest” there. It is the translation of the very same Hebrew word. It is an indication of what God is going to do, I believe, by faith in 1965. He is going to perform according to His Word in answer to prayer as a reward and a recompense according to the work we are endeavoring to do for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Related to Restoration

Turn, please, to the book of Joel in the Old Testament and notice chapter 2, which is a description of the manner in which God is going to take the children of Israel back to the land of Egypt and the manner in which God is going to make up for lost time, so to speak. Notice in chapter 2, verse 25. This is a precious verse; I've had it marked in my Bible for years:

Joel 2

25And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

Notice the phrase, “I will restore.” That is the very same Hebrew word in the original text that is translated “performed” in the verse we have been discussing.

Though we may not know the details of how God is going to perform these plans He has appointed for us, we believe by faith that not only is there going to be the idea of reward and recompense, but there is going to be the idea of making up for lost time.

The three months that I spent being laid aside were the most difficult time of my entire life. I felt I was wasting so much time. There was so much that needed to be done. I believe by faith that in 1965 God is going to restore those three months to me. I believe He is going to do it in a matchless way, more wonderfully than I could possibly have seen Him work in those three months had I stayed on my feet.

Certain Fulfillment

I would like to suggest to you, as you turn to II Chronicles, chapter 5, and notice the first verse, that this word “performed” and the way in which He is going to perform His plan which He has appointed for me, carry with them the idea of certain fulfillment–yes, they carry with them the idea of completion.

We have not seen God do all that we would have liked to see Him do in 1964. But I believe we are going to see Him work in 1965 in a way that will cause us to know that He has completed in 1965 the plan that He started out to finish.

In II Chronicles, chapter 5, we read:

II Chronicles 5

1Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the LORD was finished: and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had dedicated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God.

Notice the phrase, “for the house of the Lord was finished,” and especially the phrase, “was finished.” That phrase, “was finished,” is a translation of this same Hebrew word. It is a reference to the fact that God in His performance is going to finish the work which He has begun.

Conclusion

I have meditated much on this verse, and I've set out to do so every day of the year. There is so much that God could say to our hearts, I believe. He gave me the words of a poem which sums up the message that this verse spoke to my heart:

Sure Performance

What He has appointed for me I know not now,
But He will perform it, though I know not how;
For He is of one mind, and none can turn
From His soul's desire, and my concern.
So I wait for Him Who performs for me
Plans of peace and sufficient prosperity,
Knowing that many such things are in His mind,
As a recompense and reward for me to find.
So as I wait, I seek to learn
My heart's response to His kind concern,
That I may not hinder His plans for me,
But be found in the place He would have me be.


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