Why does God put trials in our lives? What can we learn from trials? What characteristics do trails build?
Last Sunday one of the members of my congregation died. She may have been the oldest member in the Church of God. She would have been 106 years old on September 1st. She died just a few days before her 106th birthday. Her name was Ethel Kopp. How many of you remember Ethel? O.K., Treybigs do, Richard and Mary Pinelli do. She was quite a lady. You may remember she was a great bible student, really knew the bible well, studied that old correspondence course, bible correspondence course and knew it backwards and forwards.
What's it like to live to 106? Well, Ethel's biggest trial, she wanted to reach 100, that was kind of a special mark, 100 years old! But after that she began to loose her hearing and she began to loose her eyesight, her ability to communicate, her ability to read, her ability to hear began to go down and she just wanted to die. I would go visit her and she would say: "Mr. Luker, why is God keeping me alive?" You know at 101 years old and then 102 and then 103 if you can imagine this and pretty soon she just was so weak she couldn't even get out of bed and she just wanted to die. Why is God keeping me alive? I would just say: "Ethel, I don't know but maybe just to be an example of endurance, you've always been an example of faith and of endurance." But she really did want to go, she wanted to die, she wanted to get it over with, she wanted to be in that resurrection and inherit that new body that God has promised for her. So we began to pray in our congregation that God in His love and His mercy would just let her go to sleep, that He would just take her spirit and let this trial pass. Finally He did and we were just so thankful and I wanted to mention that. Most of you did not know Ethel Kopp but you will some day, you'll meet her. I don't know if we have other members who are as old as Ethel was. I'd like to hear it if we do but I think it would be nice if we could write up a tribute to her. She certainly has to be one of the oldest members in the Church of God and in the Church nearly 50 years, a long, long time
I wanted to use her as an introduction to my sermon. If you want a title for my sermon, it's this: Seven Good Reasons for Trails in Our Lives. Seven Good Reasons for Trails in Our Lives. Now does that mean that there are bad reasons for trials in our lives? Well, as I move along in the sermon, maybe that will become clear. My emphasis will be in this message the trials that God brings into our lives. Sometimes trials come into our lives maybe because of our own foolishness, our own stupidity, our own ignorance, our own disobedience, our own rebellion at times but I'm going to show you in these seven reasons and that's why I call them good reasons, that it's the goodness of God who brings these trials into our lives for our good and without these trials we would not be in God's Kingdom. There's no way to be in God's Kingdom without the trials that God promises will come in our lives.
I think we all know many scriptures about that, that is through much tribulation, many trials that we will enter the Kingdom of God and it will be that way until the day we die or until Christ comes, whichever comes first. In Ethel's case, her last and final trial was just enduring old age and wearing out. That was her final trial and she did it gracefully and faithfully.
The first good reason for trials in our lives is this: To lead us to a deeper repentance. To lead us to a deeper repentance. Let's look at a few scriptures that show this and an example from the bible that demonstrates it. Romans II:4, probably a scripture you know well. Paul, in writing to the Romans, the brethren in Rome, he says in verse 4:
Romans 11:4 Romans 11:4But what said the answer of God to him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
American King James Version×Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
So we know the bible tells us that it is God's goodness that leads us to repentance, that He intervenes in our lives at a certain point and probably everyone in here has had that happen to them; that God intervened in your life, even if you were born in the church or have grown up in the church, God still intervened in your life and opened your mind and your heart to understand the truth. I think most of us understand that it was God who made that decision back when, whenever it happened, to open our hearts and minds and to begin to show us where we were wrong, what we needed to repent of and that we needed to be baptized; God began that process. So it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.
I remember my baptism and my repentance. Mine started back in 1959 when God called me and began to work in my life and it was through contact with another church member.
I was an Engineer working at North American Aviation in 1959 in the L.A. area and among about 10,000 Engineers. Those years America was trying to catch up with Russia. They launched the Sputnik, the first satellite a couple of years earlier and we were in a race to catch up and so all Engineers were being hired. I had graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Engineering and had eight job offers. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it comes to that again? But anybody with an Engineering degree was being hired just like that. I had eight job offers and only one of them from California had offered the most money so I accepted that one, the one that offered the most money. That took me to Los Angeles from the University of Delaware and guess who I ended up sitting next to out of all those Engineers, it was a church member in what was then called the Radio Church of God before we became the Worldwide Church of God. It was through this member as I got to know him, found out how different he was that God began to lead me to repentance, to show me that my former teaching and understanding was wrong about God and the bible.
But repentance is a process, isn't it? I think back then and I was very sincere; I repented of what I knew I was doing wrong at that time; not keeping the Sabbath, holy days, other sins and faults and mistakes in my life but I didn't know what I didn't know. So the point is and this first reason, good reason for trials in our lives is that repentance is a lifelong process. Even today, you stop and think about your own life, what you say and I think most of you obviously would say no. Would you say that you are as converted as you will ever be? Do you think that you've repented as deeply as you will ever repent? Do you think that maybe God will bring other trials in your life and situations that help you see certain things about yourself that you haven't seen so far today? I believe that in my life, very much so, that repentance is a lifetime process. It began back then with God's intervention in my life and it will continue until the day I die or the day I'm changed.
Let's look at the life of Job. Job chapter 1. A well known story here of Job so I won't have too many of the details but just wanted to remind you in chapter l, verse 1 it says:
Job 1:1 Job 1:1There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
American King James Version×There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.
So Job was a good man. He was one of those men of the Old Testament that God was calling and working with and had given His spirit to just like David who prayed to God: "Please don't take Your Holy Spirit from me;" you know when he had sinned. So Job was one of God's servants that He had called. He was a righteous man; he was a good man, wasn't he? He was doing everything that he knew to do and yet God wasn't through with Job. So you know the story of how Satan appeared before God and said: "God, yeah, you know Job serves you because you built a hedge around him and you protect him and you bless him all the time." Then he said: "Let me do some things to Job and see if he will obey you." You know the story. God let it go very, very far with Job. He lost his children, he lost his wealth, he lost everything that he had and he was humbled and suffered a great, great deal. You've got the whole book of Job, the story, and the conversation that went back and forth. But I want to jump forward to Job chapter 42 and this point because there's seven good reasons and there are many more I'm sure. But seven good reasons for trials in our lives, let's look at this one. After this whole book and all the conversations and the discussions going on, what did Job finally say (this righteous man, this good man, this God fearing man):
Job 42: 5 I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.
Even better, even more deeply, even more clearly.
Verse 6: Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
What did Job do? He repented and became a more deeply converted man because of how God was working with him in his life.
So it's very important for all of us to realize that we are not as deeply converted yet as God wants us to become. Not as yielded yet, not as surrendered yet as God wants us to be. So He's going to continue to allow trials and as Romans 11:4 Romans 11:4But what said the answer of God to him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
American King James Version×says, to lead us to a deeper repentance as the years go on. Very important to keep that in mind and not think just because I repented and I was baptized, that that's it. So one of the reasons the bible brings out for trials in our lives is to deepen our repentance and to show us in His love and mercy finer aspects of where our character is failing or where our attitude is wrong and to begin to perfect it.
Let's go to reason number two. Second good reason for trials in our lives is this: to stimulate our spiritual growth so that we bear fruit. First you've got to have a repentant attitude but then we'll see what God allows and brings trials into our lives to stimulate us so that we bear fruit spiritually. I don't know about you but of myself, by myself with my human nature, I would not design certain kind of trials for me. Right? If God said: "All right Denny, for you to be in the kingdom and live forever and do what I want you to do, I want you to design your own trials and problems and whatever you design, I will bring on." Think about that. I don't think I would come up with the right ones. Let's look at John 15, verses 1 and 2. We're going to see here that again there are good reasons for trials in our lives. They are not bad things, they are good things even though sometimes they're hard and they're painful.
John 15: 1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Verse 2: Every branch in Me (that means us) that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, (the old King James says purges it, the new King James says prunes it.) that it may bear more fruit.
So we know that God is in the job of pruning, that Christ is going to be clipping on us and cutting away the dried up withering parts of us that are not bearing fruit. He's going to do it that we might bear much fruit in our lives. I think we all realize that it is the hard times, the tough times and the most painful trials that cause us to dig deep spiritually. I can say that in my life. When things are really going well and everything was kind of great, you know, you pray and you study but I'll have to say it's not with the intensity and the fervency that you pray when you're under pain or when you're under tremendous pressure and you feel like you're not going to make it; when God is bringing a trial in your life or a pressure or a problem that puts you to the ultimate test, where it takes everything you've got within you to hang in there and to respond in a right way.
Let's go to Hebrews, chapter 12 and see in this one that God alone, God alone knows us; knows our potential, knows our capabilities, knows what we're capable of, knows our natural God given talents and gifts and abilities. God alone knows how to develop us, nobody else really does. We can help each other.
Hebrews 12:5 Hebrews 12:5And 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:
American King James Version×And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
"My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
So God will correct us and He will rebuke us, that's what the bible says but He does it always as a loving father who cares for us, doesn't He? Never in anger, never against us.
Verse 6: For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
That's a powerful term; to be scourged, it hurts.
Drop down to verses 10 and 11:
Verse 10: For they indeed for a few days (referring to physical fathers) chastened us as seemed best to them, but He (God) for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.
Verse 11: Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, (it doesn't feel good at the time when you're going through something that hurts) but grievous; (it's painful) nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
To those that know that God is working in their lives and God is working in our lives brethren. How many times have you been corrected over the years in your life by God; sometimes directly, sometimes through circumstances, sometimes through other people? Many different ways that God in His love is a loving Father just like parents do with children as loving parents. They lovingly try to correct and guide their children.
So very, very good reason for trials in our lives is to stimulate our spiritual growth. I doubt if any of us would be reaching our ultimate potential that we have if God didn't know how to stimulate us spiritually, put the pressure on in the right way, in a loving way. He's the God who knows how to do it. So thank God for that.
Let's move on to the third reason: The third good reason for trials in our lives. Good reasons. God involved in all of them. Call this one: To teach us obedience from the heart not just the head. I think all of us since 1995 know why this is so important. That God's law, God's way of life is written deep down inside us, not just intellectual knowledge. Let's take a look at the scriptures and see that only God knows how to lead people to the point where God's law is a part of their heart. It's going to trials and it's going to have to be trials in the lives of people who have departed from God's law who no longer keep the Sabbath and the Holy Days, believe they're done away, only God knows how to lead them to repentance and lead them to believe in obedience to God from the heart. Psalm 119, David's life where David said:
There's that word good again, good trials. Good reasons for our trials.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted. That I may learn Your statutes.
Verse 75: I know O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
So because God is faithful He is going to afflict us. It's just His love is going to do it and as it says back there in Hebrews 12 that any son that has not been corrected by the Lord (pretty strong word) is not of God. If we're not being corrected, if we're not being dealt with by God; we're not of God.
Verse 97: Oh how I love Your law!
Love it! I think back to 1995 to a lot of the things that were going on and what was being taught about the Sabbath and eventually the Holy Days and other things about God and you know at one point a lot of the stuff being written, it was very technical, scholarly, being put out to the brethren and you know I didn't take the time back then to disprove every technical point of the arguments against the Sabbath and the Holy Days but I did know it was wrong. When you have kept God's law and when you learn to love it, then you know don't you and all the theological arguments in the world are not going to be able to convince you that well, you don't have to keep God's Sabbath anymore because you know in your heart that it is right.
David came, grew to love God's law, notice verses l11 and 112 with his whole heart. It wasn't always that way with David, he was called a man after God's own heart but don't forget he had to become converted, didn't he? He made a lot of mistakes and so it was a process in his life as well. But my point here is that trials and afflictions teach us obedience from the heart.
Verse 111: Your testimonies I have taken a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
Verse 112: I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.
Now David became totally 100% convinced. He knew God's law was the right way to live, the only way, the good way, the way that brings happiness and peace and joy in your life; learning to live by the laws of God, not just in the letter only but joyfully from the heart, from deep down inside, that there's a joy there: "Thank you God for revealing the truth to me about how to live and the laws that are Your laws and the right laws."
So this is another good reason for trials in our lives because sometimes we have to learn the hard way, don't we, that honesty and truthfulness, whether it's in tithing or any of God's laws and ways. Sometimes we learn through afflictions and all in our lives that God's way is the right way, the good way and it becomes more then just head knowledge or intellectual knowledge.
You know there's a scripture in the bible to this day I strive to understand. I'd like you to turn to. It's Hebrews, chapter 5, verses 7 through 9, about Jesus Christ here that even Jesus Christ who never sinned said that He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. I look up different translations, I strive to understand and grasp, I want to grasp what it is that was inspired to be written here, what did Christ learn? Here's a man that never sinned, never did anything wrong, He was God in the flesh and yet it says He still learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 5: 7 Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear,
Verse 8: thought He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Verse 9: And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
The Living Bible in verse 8 has an interesting translation of verse 8. The Living Bible words it this way: That He learned from experience what it was like to obey when obeying meant suffering.
I don't know if that's exact from the Greek or whatever but it sure makes sense because He never suffered because of His own sins and mistakes, not like me, not like you, a lot of my own suffering in the past has been because of my own fault, my own problems and my own imperfections and mistakes. But not Jesus Christ and yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered. So how much more can we brethren? So there's a very, very good reason then isn't it, for trials in our lives to cry out to God: "God teach me whatever it takes in this life to love You and Your laws, Your way of life with my whole heart and mind and being." That's why we need one of the good reasons we need trials in our lives and I think most of you are here because you are doing this.
Let's go on to reason number four: Another good reason for trials in our lives; the bible brings out is to teach us compassion for others. Compassion for others. Let's take a look at that, a few examples here and maybe you can be thinking of some examples of people that you know. I can think of a few that I think will have tremendous compassion upon people in the world tomorrow and in the great resurrection in the future because they've suffered so very much and long, long trials, painful trials for many, many years, of all kinds of physical ailments and pains and emotional pains and struggles in their lives dealing with different things. They hurt deeply. There are people who feel deeply and hurt deeply emotionally. There are some people that do feel pain more deeply than others. My wife is one; I'm sure most women will relate to that. It seems to me that God has made most women that way; that they're more sensitive, they're more emotional. When she's hurt she's hurt more deeply than I am. When she's happy and joyful, she's happier than I am. I would say her ups and downs in life are more like this. She experiences great joy and happiness and great sorrow and sadness and for me, my temperament and personality and those kind of things that are being taught, you know mine's a little bit more like this. I have my ups and downs in life but not as much as others and I've learned so much as a man and as a minister through dealing with people and seeing how deeply emotional and how much more deeply people can be hurt whereas I just cruised along at a certain level, not always understanding that.
So compassion means to suffer with others and to feel their pain. It is something that needs to be learned in this life and it can only be learned by suffering. Let's turn to Hebrews chapter 4, verses 14 through 16. We can thank God that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ who understands this, who is alive, who is there with God, who is at His right hand, who was tested and tried in every way possible on this earth and yet without sin. He never gave in to Satan the devil. What if Satan threw everything he had at you, I mean everything within his power to destroy you. Maybe he has, maybe he is, maybe he will and probably is working at that all the time. Satan would like to eliminate anyone that God is calling but if he focused all his attention on you like he did Job or like he did Jesus Christ and God said: "O.K. I'll let you test my servant, I'll let you try them, go ahead." How would we do and how have we done? Let's read about Jesus Christ as far as having compassion.
Hebrews 4:14 Hebrews 4:14Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
American King James Version×Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (or profession)
Verse 15: For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, (He does sympathize,) but was in all points tempted (another translation says tried and tested that Christ was not tempted to sin, sin was not tempting to Him but He was tried and tested in every way possible by Satan the devil in His life and didn't give in because He prayed and He studied and He fasted and He stayed close to God His Father and the Holy Spirit was there with Him to help Him) as we are, yet without sin.
Verse 16: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,(which we all need) that we may obtain mercy (which we all need) and find grace to help in time of need.
So thank God that we have a compassionate and merciful High Priest, Jesus Christ who understands what it is to suffer, to be human, to be tried and tested in every way possible and to feel the pain and of course suffered more pain then any other human being who has ever lived, more then any man. So a good reason brethren, for us to have trials is to develop compassion.
Let's look at 11 Corinthians chapter 1 on this point. We need compassion for others don't we? Sometimes people with problems and sins and faults and mistakes that abhor you need it the most. I think we all know God is calling people out of the world, He called us out of the world, we all have sins, we all have had sins and hopefully with God's help are making progress and growing and overcoming and putting them out of our lives and sinning less and less as time goes on because of Christ in us helping us. But compassion is for everyone, no matter what their struggle or problem or battle may be and here in 11 Corinthians chapter 1 again beautiful verses, well known.
11 Corinthians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
Verse 4: who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
So I can only speak from my own experience that I have been through when God has let me suffer. I remember one of the earliest things in my life when God was working in my life that really changed my life. It was a long time ago but you don't forget these kind of things. It was at Ambassador College, my junior year I got really, really ill, very, very ill with strep throat. I still had my tonsils and whenever I got something in my throat (in my tonsils) and I got strep throat and it got worse and worse and worse and worse. Back then you mainly were anointed and going to doctors was not something we did as much in the early 1960's. It was at one point considered somewhat a lack of faith if you decided to go to a doctor. So I didn't go to a doctor, I was anointed and prayed for and the swelling got worse and worse. Pretty soon I literally and I'm not exaggerating looked like a bullfrog. The poison and the swelling had so increased in my body that I was puffed out like here and then the poisons spread into my entire body. Some of my friends would come in to try to massage and rub my feet and I couldn't stand it, I'd have to say: "Don't, I can't stand it." The pain was so great, even when they would touch me, that's how much poison was in my body. So I knew that I was about to die, I was that close to it. I could hardly breathe any longer, I couldn't swallow, couldn't eat, couldn't drink and so I remember kind of falling off the bed crawling to the prayer closet, places you go to pray back then. I remember crawling into the prayer closet and barely able to lift my head. I hadn't been able to eat for a couple of weeks, it had gone on that long and I guess the student body had been announced and they were praying for me but I remember crawling into that prayer closet and just lifted, I couldn't speak any more so it was kind of quiet, I couldn't really talk and just saying: "God, God, I can't stand this any longer, please heal me or let me die, please heal me or just let me die." But then I added: "God, if you'll heal me, I'll obey you with all my heart the rest of my life." I meant it and instantly, that's the only time I've ever been healed that way; instantly the swelling disappeared, the pain left my body and I walked out, completely healed of that condition.
So, it taught me a lot of things and it's painful trails in our lives that teach us the deepest lessons. It taught me to have a lot of compassion for people and their suffering, feeling for them and it taught me that it's got to be deeper as I was saying earlier that yeah I'd been baptized but I don't think at that point and God working with me that I had really made that total 100% commitment to God because it wasn't my desire to be a minister, I was an Engineer, I had an Engineering degree. I had taken a leave of absence from my work as an Engineer and I had read Mr. Armstrong's booklet, "The Seven Laws of Success" and I just wanted to learn to make more money. So I had gone to Ambassador, and thought boy if I could learn these spiritual laws of success, I can really be successful. You know how God works in your life? So I hadn't really committed myself to what God was doing in my life. I'm sure you've had experiences like that as well where God reaches down deep, but at that point, that's when I promised God and I'm keeping that promise just like you are. So something similar may have happened in your life but it's taught me a great deal of compassion and empathy for others in many ways. So it's another good reason then. We need painful trials in our lives. I think all of us, sitting down with each other and sharing with each other and trying to comfort and help other people, especially when they're in great pain and hurting very deeply where you can reach into your life and share an experience or a trial that can give them hope and strength and encouragement and tell them God will be with you and see you through.
Reason number five: Good reason for trials in our lives. It ties in with the others but it's a separate point that I have. To strengthen our faith and teach us to trust God completely. To strengthen our faith and teach us to trust God completely. I think we have to add that don't we brethren because growing in faith and learning to trust God completely, no matter what the physical circumstances we may face in life, it is a process. It's like the first trial many of us had is stepping out to keep the Sabbath day and it's the faith that it took you know, for some maybe giving up a job or changing jobs or the gradual process of working that out or stepping out on faith to tithe when we didn't have the money or didn't feel we could afford to tithe. You know there are so many examples like that aren't there in our lives of where we were and you think back and where you were in your faith and your trust in God back when God was first working with you. Maybe your big test was just keeping the Sabbath or just paying your tithes. But then we have to go on beyond that don't we brethren where through the trials that God has brought into our lives, it becomes more personal, more sophisticated, I'm trying to think of the word that I would use that I found that a lot of the trials that began to come my way could have taken me literally out of the church itself, out of the church. I can be honest and open with you and say that there was one point in my life because of trials and tests and problems that were going on and I was becoming disillusioned and deeply discouraged and I almost did leave the church and I was in the ministry at the time. Thank God, because of His help and I knew enough to at least take a little bit of time to go talk to God about it and seek His will and His revelation of understanding, give me an answer God, this is where I should be and that it worked out and so I'm still here today. I have to confess to you, don't think that just because we're ministers that we haven't been pushed to the brink in every area of our lives as to sticking with the faith and sticking with the church and sticking with our calling in the ministry because I think you know, just like Satan wants to eliminate you, he wants to eliminate us too.
Let's go to James chapter 1 and this thing of our faith as one of the very good reasons why we need trials in our lives and that trials are good.
Verse 3: knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance or perseverance or patience (anyone of those translations is correct).
Now when you faith is tested, you learn to persevere and endure through the trial, you learn to hang on and wait for God to solve the problem or intervene or do whatever His will is because He's working with all of us, every single one of us.
Verse 4: But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be mature (it says in the margin rather than perfect, we're not perfect in the flesh, never will be but mature, become mature spiritually) and complete, lacking nothing.
So one of the great and important and good reasons is so that we can keep growing in faith so that our faith, that we've seen so many trials over the years and the decades is that our faith will stand in the fiery trial, whatever our last trial in life will be. I don't know what my final last trial will be, whether I'll be alive or whether my final trial will be like Ethel Kopp, I don't know. I pray not. I'd like to live to see the return of Jesus Christ and yet on the other hand that's pretty scary when you realize all the things that are going to happen before He returns. But the end result brethren, of our faith is salvation.
Notice 1 Peter chapter 1. So I know I don't have to tell you how important this one is: Faith, trust in God. Trust in God always. Believe in God.
1 Peter 1:6 1 Peter 1:6Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
American King James Version×In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while (in the flesh) if need be (and yes it needs to be) you have been grieved by various trials (and the margin in the New King James says distressed by various trials),
Verse 7: that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, (so much more valuable then our salaries or how much money we make or how much we have saved. I think we all know that that can perish so quickly, be lost, but faith and trust in God, you can't put a price on it and those of you who have it and it must be most of you here today that your faith is in God no matter what happens) though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation or appearing of Jesus Christ.
Verse 9: Receiving the end of your faith (like the NIV here it says receiving the goal of your faith, it's got it right, receiving the end result of your faith) the salvation of your souls.
So the end result of faith is eternal life in the Kingdom of God through every trial, no matter how hard or how tough, just trust God. So the trials that God designs for our lives are to help build our faith and our trust in Him and we need more of them don't we? I don't assume and I hope you don't that my faith is perfect, I still need God to teach me in that area.
Let's go to good reason number six: To build Godly character and the attitude of Christ within us. To build Godly character and the attitude of Christ within us. That's not a surprise is it? It's not a new reason but it's certainly one of the good reasons for trials in our lives. Why we must have them, why we need them. Let's look at Romans chapter 5, verses 3 and 4.
Romans 5:3 Romans 5:3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience;
American King James Version×And not only that, but we also glory or rejoice in tribulations,(just like Paul wrote, just like Peter wrote, just like James said, we rejoice or glory in trials) knowing (because we know) that tribulation produces perseverance; (or endurance or patience)
Verse 4: and perseverance, character and character, hope.
That's what the bible says, Greek word means character, (dokime) and that same word is used and I'm not going to turn there but in Philippians 11:22 Philippians 11:22
American King James Version×where Paul is referring to Timothy saying he is with me and he has proven character, Paul says speaking of Timothy, his character has been proven.
I think we all know that building Godly character and what is Godly character? It means strength of mind, a strength of heart, strength where I compare it just for a physical analogy, trying to lift weights. I'm 67 years old and I know that as you age more and more they encourage weight lifting because if you don't lift weights and do physical activities, your muscles, muscle mass atrophies, you lose muscle mass gradually as you age and it's been proven more and more that for good health and to keep yourself stable in every way lifting weights. Well, it's not easy lifting weights. Lifting weights is not necessarily fun, you know. It's not one of my favorite pastimes but I'm doing it and it's for a very good reason, to build my strength and my muscles and my energy so that as long as God gives me life that I can be as healthy as possible. The main reason I hope is to be able to use my health and energy and strength to serve Him and His people; go as long as possible as long as He gives me strength, energy and health. But for those of you who do lift weights or do some kind of physical exercise where you really push yourself, you know it does take character. I've been involved in sports in my life before God called me; track and baseball and football and those kind of things and there is a worldly character, there are people with a lot of self-discipline. I watch the Olympics and admired, there are some good Olympians and some who are trying to live up to the values of what the Olympics should be; who are more honest and honorable but they have tremendous character, tremendous self-discipline, are willing to work hard, hours every day for years to just go to the Olympics and strive to be the best there is and to win a gold medal, and build character. So God knows how to help us build Godly character and He can just allow the stress and the pressure to come where you just have to grit your teeth, set you mind and it requires every ounce of willpower and strength. You say: "God, help me." You know you just put your whole being into it: "Help me God to do this, to endure." Do whatever it is you need to do to resist the temptation and the weakness that is there. "Help me to build the kind of attitude and character that you want me to have." That takes trials, it takes pressure, it takes stress to build Godly character as we know. Turn to Philippians chapter 2. We all know and understand that Jesus Christ is our example, that His attitude is our model, we're to become like Him. We know well this verse and the NIV and other translations, translate attitude instead of mind, either way is correct.
So we know that God is trying to develop within each one of us the same attitude that Jesus Christ had. An attitude of love for others, of service, of humility, as the example given here that He set Himself and He humbled Himself to be obedient to God regardless of the cost, even to His death. That's the attitude that we have to have, don't we brethren? So we need trials. I don't think any of us want the day to come finally when it's all over, we're dead or Christ comes, we stand before Christ which we all will do some day, each and every one of us will stand before Jesus Christ and give account for our calling in the years that He's given us. We won't be able to fool Him and I just hope that I will be able and you will be able to say: "God I gave it my very best, I gave it everything that I had." Then He will say to each one of us: "Well done, well done, you built Godly character and you developed the attitude of Jesus Christ." So there's a very good reason for trials in our lives brethren and for God to keep working with us and teaching us.
The final reason that I want to give you. Reason number seven: Seven good reasons for trials in our lives. The seventh one is to prepare us for ruler-ship and service in God's Kingdom. To prepare us for ruler-ship and service in God's Kingdom.
Have you ever asked God to bring the trials into your life and to design the trials for you that He knows you need to bring about your spiritual growth and development that you might be of the greatest possible service in His Kingdom? You and I know that we will be rewarded according to our works in this life. Right? It does make a difference how we work, what we produce and how we overcome in this life; we will be rewarded. Salvation, eternal life is a gift of God, we can't earn that. That goes to those who do repent and do accept Christ as their savior. But there is a reward for our efforts and some day we're going to be given that crown, that reward, that job in the Kingdom of God. Then we will know at that time, won't we? Men, women, everyone. We will know whom. I don't think there will be any arguments when Christ says: "You're over 10 cities, you're over this nation, here's what I want you to do, here's what I want you to do." After a while we'll know what job everyone has been given and in some cases we may say: "Wow! That's wonderful." We'll all be converted or we wouldn't be there. But there may be some surprises as well in the Kingdom of God. Let's look at a scripture on this one. So we all need to be really praying and thanking God. He knows who we are, He knows what we're capable of, He knows our potential, He knows what He wants us to do, He knows why He called us, He knows why He put us into His church now and He knows how to get us where He wants us to be to do what He wants us to do. Let's look at 11 Thessalonians chapter 1, verses 3 through 5.
11 Thessalonians 1: 3 We are bound to thank God always for you brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
Verse 4: so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,
Verse 5: which is (referring to their trials and persecutions, referring to their sufferings and all that they were going through) manifest evidence (or clear evidence, that is their trials, their tests, their suffering) of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.
Do you want to be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God? Do you want something like this to be said of you? We all do don't we brethren when that time comes? We don't want more then we can bear. None of us wants more trials in our lives, we don't want more pressure or stress than we can bear. God promises He won't allow that. He'll make a way of escape. He'll provide but I hope that we all do want in our lives as much trial and stress, tribulations, suffering and I hope that we will pray: "God you know better how to design and prepare the trials in my life to prepare me for rulership and service in your Kingdom so that when that day comes you won't be ashamed of me and I won't be ashamed that my reward will be a good reward in the Kingdom of God." That depends upon our trials and our tests brethren. So we all need God's help with them. We all need God's mercy and God's grace.
I've given you seven good reasons for trials in our lives. I'm sure that there are many more reasons for trials that you can come up with and maybe you can add more good reasons for trials in our lives. Look for the good in the trials that you're going through and trust God.