When facing trials, tribulations, and the testing of your heart you have two basic options: Give up, or gird up your loins and endure. The purpose of this message is to review 5 examples of endurance in the lives of faithful servants of God.
When we are faced with a trial we have two options:
- Give up
- Gird up your loins... endure adversity with unflinching faith in God
There are times when all seems bleak. When everything appears to go wrong. When obedience towards God brings disappointment... We wonder, where are the blessings? Where is the reward for doing good? I'm so tired…
Giving up: 1. denounce God [ I cannot worships such a being], 2. denounce the church [I cannot deal with other people struggling with sin], 3. apathy, nothing really matters anyway, I don’t wanna think about it. One of these is going to get you… unless you:Change your perspective
God does not see life as we see it. Flesh and blood focuses on the days we have right now [because that's all we really know]. Your Father Creator sees a much bigger picture... so big, it actually goes on forever. He says "My thoughts are not your thoughts”.
Our purpose today is to review 5 examples of endurance in the lives of faithful servants of God.The Endurance of Joseph
Joseph's brother were jealous because dad seemed to favor him. They beat Joseph, sold him into slavery, and faked his death so no one would come looking for him. Joseph ended up as a house slave for a man named Potiphar who managed the prison. Potiphar's wife wanted to have sex with Joseph... he refused. She made a false rape accusation against him and he ended up in prison.
Ask yourself, if you had been that man... would you have given up? Would you have said "here I am rotting in prison, God does not care about me", "what good did obedience to His commands do me"? Would you have given up, or would you have been able to endure?
Joseph was in prison a long time. Long enough that he had probably figured he might spend the rest of his life in there, so he better make it the best life he could… which is what he did. When the time was right God reached down and restored Joseph. The horrible experience he went through prepared Joseph for a great responsibility and a role in the unfolding plan of God for Israel.
Proverbs 24:10 Proverbs 24:10If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
American King James Version×-12 God brings trial and adversity on those He loves. He wants us to learn to trust Him, and obey Him, no matter what. If He can only count on us in good times can He really count on us? Will you speak, and act, righteously even when the situation is confusing, complex, costly, or threatening?
Hebrews 12:5-11 Hebrews 12:5-11  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him:
 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives.
 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?
 But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.
 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?
 For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.
American King James Version× God is in control of the situation... nothing happens that he cannot and does not use for His good purpose. Which is bringing you to holiness and glory.
Jeremiah was a prophet and spokesman for God. However, he was tasked by God to preach an unpopular message to a people who did not want to hear it. He had to tell kings and commoners that God was about to punish their entire nation for disloyalty and covenant breaking. What they wanted to hear was stuff like: 'God is with you, God will protect us from the Babylonian army, God will never let His temple fall... so you're safe here". Which other state religious figures were willing to say to keep the paychecks coming and to stay out of trouble.
Jeremiah faithfully carried out this task knowing it would go badly and probably cause him harm.
Jeremiah 38:1-6 Jeremiah 38:1-6  Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying,
 Thus said the LORD, He that remains in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goes forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.
 Thus said the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it.
 Therefore the princes said to the king, We beseech you, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words to them: for this man seeks not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.
 Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.
 Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.
American King James Version× [context, terrible times in Jerusalem] For all Jeremiah knew his life could have ended in a dark hole full of mud, covered in public shame, and anger. "What a sad pathetic end I have come too"… He was rescued before he died… but he didn’t know that while he was down there.
Lamentations 3:1-20 Lamentations 3:1-20  I AM the man that has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.
 He has led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.
 Surely against me is he turned; he turns his hand against me all the day.
 My flesh and my skin has he made old; he has broken my bones.
 He has built against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.
 He has set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.
 He has hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he has made my chain heavy.
 Also when I cry and shout, he shuts out my prayer.
 He has enclosed my ways with hewn stone, he has made my paths crooked.
 He was to me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.
 He has turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he has made me desolate.
 He has bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.
 He has caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.
 I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
 He has filled me with bitterness, he has made me drunken with wormwood.
 He has also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he has covered me with ashes.
 And you have removed my soul far off from peace: I forgot prosperity.
 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:
 Remembering my affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
 My soul has them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
American King James Version× even in the life of mighty men of old there were moments of personal anguish... perhaps inching toward the borderline of despair...
Was Jeremiah close to giving in, giving up, ready to let himself simply sink down into the mud and be forgotten? How did the prophet get off the downward cycle of despair?
Lamentations 3:21-33 Lamentations 3:21-33  This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
 It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
 They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.
 The LORD is my portion, said my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
 The LORD is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke of his youth.
 He sits alone and keeps silence, because he has borne it on him.
 He puts his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.
 He gives his cheek to him that smites him: he is filled full with reproach.
 For the LORD will not cast off for ever:
 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
 For he does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.
American King James Version× he looked forward to God's deliverance. It is not God’s purpose to destroy you, it is to lead you to life… joy filled everlasting life.
Trials are not the end they are the beginning. The purpose of a trial is to make us stronger. In the case of Jospeh, or Jeremiah, to prepare them for greater responsibilities, and roles to play in the plan of God as He worked among nations... for us it might mean to make us wiser, more merciful, more compassionate, more zealous, more firmly grounded.
Often, to get us to see ourselves, to get us to search deep within and uncover thinking and action that is wrong, God will allow us to fall into trials and tribulations. Are you only in this for the good times? Where are you when the going gets tough.Job
Job was a righteous man who enjoyed wealth and many blessings. Satan accused Job before God saying, “Job’s only being righteous because he gets rewarded. He has lots of money, prestige, beautiful family... but if you stop blessing Job he'll turn on you” [what we call a fair-weather friend]. So, to prove Job God allowed Satan to afflict him with horrible trials: loss of wealth, loss of family, loss of health.
Job's response is complex. He will not turn on God, or give up on God, and for that he retains his commendation of righteous man. But he passionately argues his point which is "I have done nothing to deserve this, I'm one of the good guys... I should not be suffering like this"… “God is not acting justly”.
The core of Job’s wrong-think comes out in Job 9:3 Job 9:3If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
American King James Version×2-35. if only there were some court of higher justice, or fairness. Then I could lay out my case and show that this affliction is not fair. I don't deserve this. However, I cannot because I am too weak in the face of almighty God. Aha!
God: what would you do if you were not too weak or fearful? Would you confront me, take me to court [perhaps the court of popular opinion], rebel against me. If I were to give you the inheritance of eternity, cover you with glory, and seat you next to Christ... what would you do if I ever did something that you disagreed with? Such as allow you to fall into this sort of trial…
Remember: Satan turned on God, he took his case to the angels and won a third of them over. Because he considered himself equal to God… and his rebellion must have been triggered by some flash-point of disagreement.
Is our submission like a wife who agrees to submit herself to her husband... as long as he doesn't do stuff that she doesn’t agree with or don't like. If that’s the nature of the relationship then at some point the two will have to fight it out.
Point: God's eyes are on eternity, and they are on you. He wants to know your heart on a wide variety of very serious matters... and what's really inside the tube of toothpaste only comes out when you squeeze it.
Job came to see this in himself… repented. Later, all he lost was restored to him Matthew 19:28-30 Matthew 19:28-30  And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
 And every one that has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred times, and shall inherit everlasting life.
 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
American King James Version×.
Sometimes your response must be to wait patiently upon God for deliverance, at other times your response should be to take action. Knowing which path is best requires you to make righteous judgments. Seek God in prayer:
- ask God to help you see if you are doing something wrong... and stop doing it!
- on the flip side, if there is something you should be doing, but are not doing... then take action, and do!
David was a man of action. When Goliath of the Philistines stood up for 40 days blaspheming God before Saul and the army of Israel. That was trial for the nation of God. But not a time to wait patiently for God to make the problem go away. [blasphemers were to be punished by death. God expected the civil authorities of Israel to apply the law]. They were not doing it. David took action and confronted Goliath to stop him from blaspheming.
But, David also knew when he had to wait. He had been anointed to replace Saul as king of Israel. Saul was jealous and hunted David. Seeking to do battle with David. David could have gone to meet Saul in a fair fight and won the kingdom in the eyes off man. But David would not lift his sword against the authorized king God had placed over Israel. This was a life threatening trial for David that lasted years and called for patience, wisdom, humility, respect.
David could be patient because he knew God keeps His promises and that every good thing would come his way in God's good time. Any other approach would show a lack of trust, confidence, and respect towards God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-11 1 Corinthians 2:9-11  But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
American King James Version× the Creator of all things has called you to succeed in an endeavor that defies human imagination, only perceived by the holy spirit. Something far greater than being king over Israel for a mere 40 years. Entry into the universe ruling family of God.
Romans 8:16-21 Romans 8:16-21  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope,
 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
American King James Version× they are waiting for the spiritually completed YOU.
Romans 8:31 Romans 8:31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
American King James Version× God is with you in this. His eyes are upon you and He is on your side. He is not off somewhere playing solitare.
Consider this: God wants us to be involved in Christ's glorious rule, but it's not because Christ can't handle the workload.
- God want us to be involved, to share His joy, but THINK ABOUT THIS AS WELL,
- The resurrected and glorified you will serve as a testimony & proof positive that the potential God has in store for ALL human beings is possible!
Jacob had his problems and times when he fell short of the glory of God, but he was no quitter. He has gone down in the biblical record of history as a person who STRUGGLED with God, and prevailed! That does not mean Jacob triumphed, or gained supremacy over God, rather it means that nothing could make him give up... even when his endurance was being tested. Genesis 32:22-30 Genesis 32:22-30  And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.
 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.
 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaks. And he said, I will not let you go, except you bless me.
 And he said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob.
 And he said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed.
 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray you, your name. And he said, Why is it that you do ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
American King James Version×
God's blessing come through hardship, suffering, and endurance.
The kingdom of God and the promises of God are worth fighting for! Now is not the time to say, "God is asking too much of me", "no one told me it was going to be so hard". If the ministry did not warn you to count the cost, then shame would be upon them. But I think the ministry does ask each man, and woman, to count the cost. I know the word of God and of Christ sure do. Matthew 10:34-39 Matthew 10:34-39  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
 He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
 And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.
 He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it.
American King James Version×
Remember: the faithful example of men and women of old, Remember that trials and tests are for your instruction and training Romans 8:3 Romans 8:3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
American King James Version×6-39.
Remember: Christ your intercessor stands on your side. His purpose is to liberate those who are oppressed. His purpose and the purpose of the Father is to try, and test your heart... but not to destroy you... not to leave you in the dust... but to raise you up in glory!
Let God build perfect, righteous character in you. Endure, persevere, and overcome... never give up.