I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Endurance: Part Two

If you missed Part One of the Study on Endurance, click to read it here before going on. Thanks!

II. What Are We to Do?

There are many different kinds of trials. One is being blamed for something you didn’t do: being wrongfully accused. This could be either because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, because things get blown out of proportion by someone trying to protect their own hide, or simply because of a misunderstanding.

Now, our first reaction in this situation, (at least mine) is to fight back, try to defend ourselves. We make sure the truth is known immediately, and in the loudest voice possible. Isn’t it true in any disagreement that whoever talks the loudest must be right? Peter had this to say about being falsely accused:

1Peter 2:19-20 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

If you are getting flack because you messed up and deserve it, it’s logical and expected that you should take the reproof patiently and quietly. However, God says when you are getting flack for doing right, or are being falsely accused; you should take that patiently as well.

This is the only acceptable reaction in God’s sight. Taking it patiently means of course not losing your head, but reacting with humility; letting the other person say their piece without interrupting them, without lashing back at them. That is trying to your faith. That is pleasing to God.

Remember a man named Job? He is a great example of just this type of situation. He was minding his own business, living a faithful life, and BAM! He’s hit with tragedy after tragedy. His animals were all stolen, all his children were killed at once, his flesh was afflicted with boils: one thing after another. Job, however, reacted with patience. He praised God during his trial. He didn’t know the reason for it, but he accepted it.

We know the reason. In the beginning of the book, we see God was using Job as an example to PROVE SATAN WRONG. He was also perfecting Job, making him more like Jesus Christ, and leaving us an example of how to react in tribulation.

Jesus Christ himself is obviously the best example of this kind of trial. He was accused of blasphemy, of being a liar, and a fake. He was whipped, beaten, spat upon, crucified, but yet opened not his mouth against his accusers. Jesus could have disintegrated any of them with a thought, yet He chose to put Himself in the hands of His Father- the One who knew the truth, and had a greater plan. Peter (vs. 21) goes on to say:

1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
1Pe 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
1Pe 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Praise God for His endurance!! Jesus Himself is the definition of endurance.

1. A bearing or suffering; a continuing under pain or distress without resistance, or without sinking or yielding to the pressure; sufferance; patience.

We are called to suffer! Vs. 21 says so: (read verse). We are also called to endure patiently, by following the example of Jesus.
We need to realize that many times the trial is not even for us! We are so self-centered to think that every trial we face is all about us. It’s not! What about our lost family members? They watch us go through trials. We show strength and grace that seems “otherworldly”, and they are affected by it. This leads to an opportunity to share the love of God and His Word with them, which may ultimately lead to their salvation! Like Paul says in

2Co 1:6 “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

Suffering and consolation always have a purpose from God. So the next time you go through a trial, ask yourself who’s watching. Pray for God to show you how He wants to use you during it and what it is you can do to show Jesus to someone else.
The other kinds of trials we face are things that happen in our lives beyond our control: death of a loved one, loss of a job, a house fire, car accident, a hurricane, our own health being at risk, miscarriage, birth defects, or feuds in the family.

When we are facing situations like these that have us so consumed with them that we, like Paul, despair even of life, we are still called to endure! However, the weak humans that we are, we tend to go to one of two extremes, the first being that we withdraw from people. We make ourselves miserable in little zones of depression, convincing ourselves that no one has ever experienced what we are going through.

Remember- emotion is not reality!! Satan can manipulate your thoughts; get you to think only on the negative. Get you to ask questions like ‘why me?’, ‘why is God punishing me?’, ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’ When we start having these thoughts, we need to remind ourselves that we are sinners. There is no good thing in us, in and of ourselves. We deserve only bad things. We deserve Hell. The fact that God chooses to bless us is beyond my understanding.

Instead of that mentality of self pity which asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’ we instead need to ask ‘why do good things happen to bad people?’, ‘why should God choose to bless me at all?’ This helps to change our perspective, and accept our afflictions with grace as par for the course. (See example here)

Satan loves to put lies and negativity into our minds, make our emotions get the best of us. We therefore need to focus on things that are true. The things that are true are the things in God’s Word. The fact that God loves you and will work things out for His glory and for your good never changes, no matter what you experience. God is still on the throne, and can see waaaay ahead to places we may never get to see. Don’t let emotion dictate your response to trials. Keep your eyes fixed on what is fact, fixed on things above.

The other extreme is to only surround ourselves with people, letting them advise and comfort us. We let others pray with us and for us, sometimes several times a day, but we never pray ourselves. We call everyone we can think of to let them know what horrible thing we are going through and how they can support us through it.

What about turning to the Lord for comfort? Many times we don’t seek God because we are using others to comfort and spiritually medicate us during trials. It is not wrong to reach out to others; however, we cannot be made more like Jesus Christ through the faith of someone else. We must learn dependence on God ourselves. James gives us wonderful instruction on what to do during a trial:
Jam 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
Jam 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Jam 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Jam 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Endure! Don’t give up! Are you afflicted? The remedy is to seek first God in prayer. The last part of this passage says: ‘the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.’ It may be that God wants to change you through prayer.

Are you sick? Call for the church elders to anoint you! Just because the doctor tells you that you have terminal cancer doesn’t mean you have to die from it! Believe God will do a miracle for you! Exhaust all the options! Give it to God and trust that He will work things out for His glory and your good, no matter what the circumstances are, or how they affect you.

Let me give you an example of someone who was not so successful in their trial:
My sister is the wife of a youth pastor in NC. She called me recently and shared with me that a youth pastor friend of theirs was going through a trial. He was a young man, 27 yrs. old, single, and with a heart for youth. From what I’ve heard, I imagine he was very much like Kevin Grape.

Well, through no fault of his own, he was dragged into a made up story by a 13 year old girl, and was going to be put on trial for having sexual relations with a minor. As you can imagine, this would destroy his ministry, and probably damage his father’s reputation. (His father was a local pastor of another church.)

This young man sought the Lord, sought counsel of friends; his family and supporters from their church had a prayer vigil to seek the Lord the day before things were to be made public. The family all left afterward, but the young man stayed. Later that night, his father was very concerned because the son never came home. Turns out, he hung himself in the church that night after everyone else left.

He gave in to the pressure. He couldn’t see what good could possibly come of it. His attorney was counseling him to plead guilty to get a lower sentence. A rookie FBI agent wanting to make a name for himself was constantly pressuring him, saying he was going to get him. Satan was putting thoughts in his head about the shame he would cause his family, the damage he would do to his church, should he be found guilty.

He forgot one simple fact: God knew he was innocent. God would have worked things out for His glory, and for the young man’s good. There is no telling what this young man could’ve done for the Lord, should he have been undeservedly sent to prison: how many lives could have been touched, how the name of Christ would have been honored, had he chosen to suffer his affliction with patience. Now, we will never know.

We, being weak, could never handle the things we face in life without a history of people like us who have faced seemingly insurmountable circumstances, yet successfully endured. God knows this about us, and that is why the Bible is PACKED FULL of examples! I will share just a few. Stay Tuned!!

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