Overcoming Situations That May Come part 1
message delivered Jan. 26, 2014
Good morning Friends and family and welcome to the first part of this series.
Throughout this week I had been thinking and praying on what topic God would use for today's message. Well, this morning I was reading in Psalms and I think He gave me direction. I also think that this is going to have to be a series, as there have been many thoughts as to where this is going to lead to. I am believing that as this study speaks to me, it will speak to you also. Every living being is going to go through some kind of situation. Amen? Maybe some of you hearing this message or reading at another time are going through something right now.
Friends, when we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the enemy comes to start his attacks. You see, before we are saved, the enemy had us right where he needed us to be. After that he lies to us and he twists things around to make us think that God is not faithful to His promises that we find in the Bible. Satan tries to tell us that God doesn’t love us or He wouldn’t have allowed this or that to happen. You all know where I am going with this. So buckle up, take notes, and let’s tell that slimy devil where he can go. Let’s learn through scriptures, from the Old and New Testaments, how we can overcome these attacks from whatever the source might be.
From conversations with friends on Cross Roads Fellowship and conversations with others on the phone, there have been attacks on so many Christians. Another site that Leanna and I are both members of (Lokey Sisters), again, those attacks have been brutal to some. Church, we all need to know what to do when those attacks come. We do have that power, and Jesus is the name that demons tremble from. Amen? Saints, we need to get this now like never before. Praise the name of Jesus!
Are we ready? I mean....are we truly ready to better our journey with Jesus? I hope so, and that is my prayer for you and me this year. Let’s look at adversity. It may come to you like a nagging pebble in your shoe or like an overwhelming rock slide. No matter how adversity crashes into your life, the question is how will you respond? How does the Bible tell us to respond when attacked? Let’s take a few minutes and think of some adversities that people might go through. Hurtful words spoken to or about us? No money, or lack of it? Here are the big ones that most share with me. Sickness? Maybe for those reading this it is the loss of a job. We can let these things bother us. We can shrug it off knowing that adversity is bound to be a part of every one of our lives. Or we can put our total trust in God like the Bible tells us to. Things are going to happen. You see, sometimes adversity can show up like a nagging pebble in your shoe or it can come crashing down on you like a rockslide. Church, we need to be prepared. God's Word prepares you by showing what adversity is and how you can live through it in faith. Unwavering, persistent faith.
Today we are going to look at the life of Moses. Later in this series, God willing, we will look into King David’s life. I don't know that there's anybody in the Bible who shows us the kinds of explosions that can come into our lives better than the character Moses in the Old Testament. Amen?
If everyone could turn to Deuteronomy chapter 4, and while you are doing that, think of a time that you may have had a pebble in your shoe and when you took your shoe off to find it, you couldn’t? You put it back on and continued to walk and you still couldn’t feel it and figured it must have been just your sock. This happened just recently for me. I felt something, I took my shoe off, shook it, put it back on and continued to walk and decided it was in my sock in my shoe. I remember thinking how uncomfortable it was. When I got home, I found a piece of rock salt in my shoe and couldn’t figure out how it got there. That's what I want to talk with you about today. Not the piece of salt, but when things happen in your life that you don't understand, when trouble comes into your life, what are you going to do about those troubles?
I think as we look at scriptures today and we spend time in the Word of God, we will have better understanding about what happens when adversity comes to our life.
Deuteronomy 4:27-31 KJV (27) And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. (28) And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. (29) But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. (30) When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (31) (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
I find that extremely comforting, and I hope all of you may also. Praise God!! When I'm in tribulation, some versions use distress, that's the word he uses there, when I'm in distress, I know the Lord is not going to forget me. If you think about the life of Moses and the children of Israel, their lives are like ours in many ways. Think about life in this way: When you learn how to deal with adversity, one of the conclusions you come to almost automatically is that everybody has adversity. Everybody has some sort of trouble. I think we have to all expect adversity to come to our lives.
Sometimes adversity is associated with sin. It comes because of things we've done. David numbered the people, and that was a piece of pride on his behalf. The end result of that was significant trouble in his life. It came because of sin.
Sometimes adversity is the result of simple disobedience. Remember Jonah who ran from God? His disobedience brought all the troubles that came into his life. You might be saying to yourself, "Okay Brother Jim, does that mean when I have trouble in my life that automatically there's sin in my life?" The answer is no, and I hate hearing preachers saying this. For those who have read the book of Job, Job's best friends tried that on him.
I know there are a lot of people who feel this, that if you just had faith enough, if you confessed your sins, there would be no difficulties in your life. But remember Job? Job is a perfect example of a man who was not sinful. He didn't do the things that other people were doing, and yet adversity came to his life just like everyone else. I may do a message on the book of Job soon, because I think there is much to learn from it.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that God sends the rain on the just and the unjust alike. Adversity comes to the just and the unjust, just like the rain does. Just because you're alive means you're going to have trouble. If you haven't found it yet, it's going to happen pretty quickly. You're not exempt because you may be a Christian. There are lots of people who teach and believe that, because you're a Christian, no trouble will ever come to you, God will never let you to be sick or for you to be poor. There are a lot of sick, poor Christians that don't understand why people are teaching this. There are lots of sick and poor Christians in the Bible, but they were godly people. When Paul wanted to encourage the believers of Asia Minor, this is what he said: "We must go through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
Tribulation--for those who are living rightly before God--is a good thing, because it proves you can still live righteously before God. You can be right before God and still face difficulty in your life. Adversity comes to everybody and you should expect it. Right living people are not at all exempt from adversity. Do we get this church? I think maybe the reason Paul understood that principle so well is he had so much trouble in his life. If you ever want to read about the difficulties Paul had, go to 2 Corinthians, chapter 11. In this chapter, you're going to see a whole list of problems faced by the apostle Paul. And do you know what? When you read that chapter, you're not going to know when almost any one of these occurred. But I think Paul understood that adversity will come to every person.
Adversity will come to you regardless of who you are. If you're a Christian today, don't expect God not to allow adversity to come to your life. Going through these situations, when we handle them by trusting in God, makes us stronger. We can't understand that, and I don't claim to understand that. But remember Job? He was the man who lived a life that was good before God and before men. When Satan came to God and said, “You know why Job loves You? You know why Job is living a righteous life? It's because Job is rich. Life is easy for him. You take away those easy things, and Job isn't going to love You so long." God said, "Well, consider my servant, Job. He's yours. You can do anything you want to him, but you can't touch his life."
Here is a man who is a great example of the fact that God will sometimes actually allow adversity to come into your life. Sometimes God allows adversity to come into our lives because the lack of adversity can be a problem for us.
I think sometimes when you don't have adversity, that can be a problem in your life. There's something about all of us that needs a challenge, needs some adversity to rise above. If there were no adversity in your life, you may not be able to enjoy life. God sometimes allows adversity to come to your life. It is also how we build up our faith in God.
Sometimes God uses adversity as an opportunity to help you in your own life. Sometimes God will use adversity simply to bring you to the point where He can bless you. It's evident too, that sometimes God allows adversity in our lives simply because He wants to strengthen our character. Amen? Can anyone relate to this? There are things in your life that God will allow to come into your life because He knows the end from the beginning, and He knows what's good for you. In fact, He knows what's best for you. So if God allows adversity in your life, He does so because He knows it will only lead to good for you. Romans 8:28 KJV And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Praise Jesus!!!
I am going to say something that might not be taken well, but I hope you hear me out with an open mind. I am being spoken to as I type this out. I think if we look back at a situation that seemed devastating to us in our lives, whatever that might be… cancer, bankruptcy, loss of a family member or whatever the case might be, this message might be hard to accept. We should not seek trials, but expect them and accept them when they come. That is hard to say, yes? I know we have the privilege to pray, but I want to get a point across. We almost have to and this next thing I say is very tough to say, but hear me out. “Embrace it”. And that's not your only option. Lots of people get mad at God. They become bitter about their difficulties. But if you do embrace it, if you open yourself up to invite God's grace into your life, you can actually gain from adversity, not lose from it. Does this make sense to everyone? I hope so, because I know there are some who are dealing with trials that might be here this morning, or listening on Skype, or who will read this on the various sites that I share these mesages. There are some who are right in the middle of adversity, so I hope that will be an encouragement to them.
Whatever you're going through in life today, I want you to know that it's not necessarily because of sin in your life. That's not always true. I want you to know whatever you're going through today, that God sometimes allows you to go through it because He has a plan for you that's better than what you have in mind for your life right now. I want you to remember this passage in Hebrews 13. In fact, let's all turn there.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. :6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. :7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. :8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.
Psalms 94:11-14 KJV The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. (12) Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; (13) That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. (14) For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.
Church, what I say next, I urge you to dwell on the rest of your life. God is very interested in you, and He will never let you go through adversity all by yourself. It's not until we learn the lessons of adversity that we understand that adversity indeed is necessary in our lives. It's not a necessary evil; it is a necessary thing in our lives.
Not long ago, I saw a post somewhere that had a picture of a caterpillar and it said And like the cocoon, you can't have the butterfly without the cocoon. Friends, you really can't have maturity in your Christian life without the adversity of life. But you know what? Some of us, even those who may be more mature in the Christian faith, sometimes we're about to crack under our adversity. It's good if you have a little hangnail but if you're really hurting, then you need to know that God has not abandoned you during your adversity.
We are reminded that in Psalm 23. The promise is, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me." It's not that God says you won't go through the valley; He says, "I'll go through the valley with you." Amen? Glory to God!! Thank You Father for never leaving us nor forsaking us.
I think the great strength that comes through understanding adversity, that leads to maturity, that leads to our understanding that you can't do certain things is that you can't take adversity away from life and expect life to be as good as it would have been. I think one of the great understandings that comes to us is that when we watch God walk with us through the adversities of life, it draws us closer to Him. Don’t hear me wrong. I'm not crazy; I'm not asking God to give me adversity just so I can understand this or so I can walk closer to Him. I say, "Lord, if there's an easier way for me to walk with You, hey, give me that easier way."
I also learn that adversity will teach me something about myself. I learn a lot about my character when things are tough in my life (I don't learn much about me when things are going well), I learn that I am not sufficient in myself to overcome the adversities of my life.
It's through God's strength that I am strong. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). It doesn't say (I can do all things) and that includes facing the adversity of life. I also learn that adversity teaches me something about my adversaries. It teaches me something about those who would do harm to me. Let's read what Jesus told His followers: Mark 13:9 You will be dragged in the synagogues and into prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being My followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about Me.
Sometimes I don't want adversity to come to my life. But as I mature in my faith, I understand that God allows adversity to come to my life. I also learn that no one is exempt from adversity. You're going to face it, and so am I. The thing that encourages me the most is that I learn nobody ever faces adversity alone, that God always says, "I will go with you through the adversity. I will hold your hand during this adversity. In fact, I will help take this adversity and make something good of it when all you can see is the difficulty of your trials."
When someone hurts us, how do we become compassionate toward them? I struggle sometimes here. They are the adversities in our lives. The easiest thing in the world is to just write them off, or some might say, "Satan, they belong to you. You can have them." But it isn’t the person, but the enemy. The fact of the matter is, as our adversary, or as the adversity in our life, they may be God's tool in our lives and we don't even know it. That doesn't mean they're right. What they're doing to us may be entirely wrong, but what was done to Job was entirely wrong too. They may be God's instrument of bringing compassion to us or God's instrument of maturing us, molding us, shaping us.
How do we deal compassionately with people who don't deal compassionately with us? When someone is our adversary, when they hurt us, how do we become compassionate toward them? The answer is that we can't--unless we learn how to forgive. Amen? And forgiveness may be one of the hardest things for us to learn to do.
The real problem, and we're going to see this later on in this study, is when people hurt us we will either become better or bitter. Most of us, frankly become bitter. We don't want to forgive them because they hurt us so deeply. Compassion, I think, follows forgiveness. Until we get a handle on how to forgive people that hurt us, hurt us deeply, I don't think we'll ever be compassionate toward them.
We're going to learn later in our study about Joseph in the Old Testament. What a wonderful example of a person who had adversity in his life. None of it was his fault, but he had to learn how deal with brothers. He had to learn how to deal with false accusations in his life. There were so many things he had to learn in order to become compassionate, but he had to first learn how to forgive. I think that's the secret to dealing with people who hurt us. We have to learn how to forgive and that's not an easy lesson. Forgiveness tends to be, “well, if you confess your sins, I'll forgive you”, but that's not the biblical definition of forgiveness.
Forgiveness means we turn over to God the hurt that has been done to us. We say, “I don't like this. I don't understand it, but I'm not going to retaliate for it. I'm going to simply give it to You, and let You deal with it in my life”.
Let’s think about someone who may be physically alone. Someone who is in a nursing home, shut-in for health reasons. Maybe someone that is in prison, or for whatever the circumstance might be. Is that promise for them too? What would we say to those who might be struggling? I would say no one is ever really alone as long as you have someone to talk to. And for the person who follows the Lord Jesus, He is always there for us to talk with Him. That's exactly what prayer is all about. You don't have to talk out loud, but you do have to be intimate in your conversation with Jesus. So throughout the day, throughout the night, keep your conversation going. Keep it going in your mind with the Lord Jesus. Let Him in on your life. Tell Him what's on your mind. Tell the Master Jesus what worries you. Then tell the King of kings and Lord of lords to take your fears and your concerns and your worries away from you. Praise You Jesus.
Now let's kind of turn the tables. You're not physically alone, but emotionally you are struggling. Maybe some of you are feeling isolated. Maybe feeling disconnected and alone….what then? I would suggest to them the same thing. When we feel disconnected, when we feel isolated, it's probably because we are. And that means we are not staying in constant and quality contact with the Savior. Again, I think prayer can change all that. Prayer isn't always asking something of God. Sometimes it's just talking with Him. It's asking Him to help us know His presence and to understand just how deeply He loves us. There have been times when I felt alone like this and prayer is a help, but just opening His Word and reading God's instructions to me is a huge help. It's amazing how you find that yourself feeling His compassion and all of these things open the door to our intimacy with God. Rather than saying, “God, You don't care. You're not out there. You don't really care at all what's happening to me," suddenly we find ourselves talking with Him. We find ourselves reading His Word and discovering He really does love us.
In closing, I would like to pray with everyone and especially for those who are going through the things that were mentioned here. We don't have to go through the trials alone. Jesus is right here and I think sometimes instead of calling out to Him, we hold onto the issues in our lives.
Can you think of someone who may be hurting that you might be able to share this with, or invite them to them to come next week? That is the whole purpose of what J and L Ministries is all about…learning and sharing what we learn with others, to help them with their walk with God.
Let us pray.