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TRIALS; More Than A Headache
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
How do we obtain a good report in school? What do we need to do in order to move to the next grade? We have to take and pass multiple tests. It's not enough that you're simply taught many subjects and lessons by the teachers. That by itself does not prove that you're smart and that you paid close attention to what you need and what was being taught. So the only way to find out that you're a good, willing to learn student is to be given tests to see if you truly know what you've been taught. If you fail, you will eventually be able to retake the test. If you pass, you move on to the next lesson, next grade, and eventually after repeating the same cycle of tests, you'll graduate.
When people come to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and become a Christian, some people think and suppose that everything is supposed to magically become good and you're not going to have problems anymore. I'm not sorry to say that whoever has had that information passed along to them has been sadly mistaken. Life isn't going to stop just because you chose to accept Jesus. Matter of fact, if Jesus had to face adversity of many kinds, why would it be any different for those who follow him? Jesus Himself said in John 15:18-21
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
We shouldn't expect to be treated any differently than Jesus. He lets us know that life isn't going to be peaches and cream just because you serve God Almighty. God has given Satan authority in this world to trouble us, and test our faith. Jesus said the world will hate us and we will be persecuted. Why? The word "world" in this context means; orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration; by implication, adorning.
The word "persecute" means; to pursue (literally or figuratively); by implication, to persecute:--ensue, follow (after), given to, (suffer) persecute(-ion), press forward.
Jesus said to His disciples that we (now) are not of this world. We no longer follow after the orderly arrangement that this world follows after, which according to 1John 2:16 is, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Which, is not of the Father, but is of the world
We now as foreigners live to please our King and Savior, and shine brightly for His glory and honor. Our guide for this life is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. So because we decided to abandon the dead end ways of this world, Satan is going to pursue us with all that he has to get us to abandon our newfound faith and love in Jesus. Satan will tempt us to be angry with God. He will inject thoughts into our minds. Thoughts of doubt and worry. He will say things like, “Why would God put you through all of this?" Or "If God really loved you, He wouldn't allow you to suffer like this." But what he won't tell you is that he's hoping and waiting for the demise of your trust in Jesus. He wants to see you fall and break, and longs for you to give up. But I urge you to stand strong. There's more in store for you than you know.
Trials may seem bad, but God has taken it, and made it into something that can be used for His glory and honor, but also for our benefit. Trials are good for now and later, and I hope by the end of this message you will be convinced also.
Regaining Lost Glory (God's divine nature)
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
When God created us, He made us to be just like him. He said in Genesis 2:26; "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."
We were made to resemble God, not just our outward appearance, but in our inward appearance also. We were made to reflect God's character and show forth His attributes in our beings. Sin is nowhere to be found in God's attributes and character. He is righteous in every aspect and in every area of His life. Man was also made without sin, but when Adam disobeyed God and ate of the tree which God commanded him not to eat, sin entered into the heart and DNA of man, and the nature which God clothed man in was taken away. (Read Genesis chapter 3). God's glory in this context is His divine nature. His glory is a part of who He is. Sin is not apart of who God is, so His glory was taken away from us in the Garden of Eden.
Centuries later God sent His only Son Jesus, born as a man, as in the beginning, but through the Spirit of God. Jesus, because He was not born and tainted by the seed of sinful man, but by the perfect Spirit of God, was already sinless.
But being that He was born through Mary, a human, He was capable and had the ability and the free will to sin, just like Adam did. But unlike Adam, Jesus did not give in to sin. Hebrews 4:15 says:
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus faced the same trials and temptations that we face as a Spirit-filled human, but He didn't give in to the snare of sin. If He did, there would be no hope for mankind and no reason why God wouldn't just wipe off all of humanity from the face of the earth. But Romans 5:14 says;
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
So, because Jesus did not give in to sin, but was obedient to the Word of God, so we can now be made right with God and be able to receive once again, the divine nature of God (glory) which we lost in the Garden of Eden. Hebrews 2:9,10 says in the Amplified Version;
9 But we are able to see Jesus, Who was ranked lower than the angels for a little while, crowned with glory and honor because of His having suffered death, in order that by the grace (unmerited favor) of God [to us sinners] He might experience death for every individual person.
10 For it was an act worthy [of God] and fitting [to the divine nature] that He, for Whose sake and by Whom all things have their existence, in bringing many sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect [should bring to maturity the human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest] through suffering.
Jesus, through His perfect sinless life, prepared and made the way for us to obtain the glory of God again through His suffering, death, and resurrection. The King James Version calls Jesus "the captain of their salvation". The word captain means; Chief Leader.
Jesus led by example how to obtain that glory. Jesus was made perfect (complete) and obtained His own former glory which He had before He was made a man, through sufferings.
Jesus wasn't automatically what God called Him to be as soon as He was born. He first had to be trained and taught how to be a child of God through a series of tests, trials, persecutions, and temptations. Then He could obtain that glory and perfected nature that God re-gave Him after His death and resurrection.
One thing to remember is that God leads us by example. He wouldn't send us up a creek without a paddle. Jesus demonstrated first what God wants us to do and how He wants us to do it. And He lets us know what's going to happen during the process of trying to obtain His glory. Since Jesus is the Forerunner of our faith, and since we are called to be followers of Jesus, and since God wants us to obtain that glory which we lost, we will have to go through the same process of tests, trials, persecutions, and temptations.
NOT WHAT WE THINK
Isaiah 55:8,9 says;
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God's system of doing things are different from the world's way of doing things. God's wisdom is above comprehension, and He can turn any situation around for His glory and honor. What we may think is a horrible situation, God may view it as an opportunity to bring glory to His name and an opportunity for you to learn and grow in your faith, and in your relationship with God. Trials aren't going to stop as long as you walk in this cursed earth, but Jesus said in John 16:33;
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Naturally, when we go through trials and tribulations, we get discouraged and ask, "Why is this happening to me?" Before we became Christians, trials and troubles we're good for nothing but a headache, heartache, and a cause to worry, but for some reason Jesus said to "be of good cheer" or “rejoice”, or “be glad”, because He has overcome this world. Now, you might ask,"What does Jesus’ overcoming have to do with us?" "What does that mean for us?" Jesus has commanded us to follow and imitate Him. (Matthew 16:24) And since Jesus already overcame and conquered this world as a Spirit-filled man, He's saying for us to follow after Him into the victory that overcomes this world and all that comes with it! He's saying that because He had peace in the midst of His trials and troubles, you can too. He had some type of assurance that kept Him going as His motivation and strength. He had faith in something His natural eyes couldn't see.
Looking at the Bigger Picture
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
The Amplified version says;
2 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.
(Heb 12:2-3 AMP)
Jesus knew the purpose for His coming in the future that was held in store for the Father, humanity, and Himself. He knew he’d be back with the Father reigning with the Name above all names with glory, honor and power. He knew His Father would be pleased with His work, as the redeeming of his people and the reconciliation of the world would now take place. Jesus knew that His suffering and shame would produce a greater glory within Himself and a better future for the Father and humanity. He looked on the joy that was set before Him and said to Himself that all the suffering, persecution and shame is going to be worth going through. He endured the many blows physically and verbally. He kept His head high despite the crown of thorns being plunged into His head. He stood back up after receiving thirty nine lashes to His back (scourging). He made it up the road to Calvary and never gave up. And as He hung there on the cross with nails in His hands and feet, after three hours He boldly proclaimed; “It is finished!”
1 IF ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
God doesn't want our focus to be on earth because there is nothing good that dwells here on earth. God wants you to shift your attention on Him, and the promises He's made for you. He promises His plans are good for us and not for our harm. Plans to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). His plans don't change because of the circumstances in our lives. His provisions are not limited by circumstances. What God says is what He means but if you're focused on your circumstances and not on God, and His love and promises for you, you will begin to worry, fear, and doubt that God is even for you. He's given us faith, and faith doesn't depend on what we see, it depends solely on God, Whom we can not seen with our natural eyes. Faith produces results within us and moves God to sometimes change our surroundings.
In the midst of trouble
One of the things we have to remember in the middle of our trials is that it's not going to last forever.
2nd Corinthians 4:17
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
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.
When I first became a Christian, one of the only things that I knew was that I was going you Heaven where there would be no more pain, sorrow, or trouble. (Revelation 21:4)
Honestly at the time, my main concern and the reason for my change of heart was that I didn't want to go to hell, but I wanted to go to Heaven.
After I got saved, things definitely did not get better. In fact, they got worse. All of my peers thought I was a phoney. I was left out and called the worst of names. I was threatened and have been physically hit and have been spit on (not necessarily for being a Christian). But at the time, I didn't let people's opinions affect and get the best of me. I always told myself, “This is only temporary. This isn't going to last forever. I'm going to live forever in Heaven.” You cannot compare temporary to forever. In fact, Paul said it's not worthy to be compared to, because there is no comparison. God did not create us to suffer forever. He created us to enjoy life and communion with Him forever. But the wickedness of man (sin) prevents God from coming down to earth to dwell and walk among us as He did in the Garden of Eden, (Genesis 3:8) so He invites us to come and be where He is.
Jesus said in John 14:2,3;
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Also and John 17:24, where He was praying to the Father, He said,
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
It wouldn't be enough for God to just make us right with Himself. He wants us to know Him and be with Him where He dwells forever.
Galatians 1 2,3 says,
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
One of the words that define the word will is desire. God longs and desires for us to be with Him and take away permanently all bad, trouble, evil, and death. This is one of the things God has in store for us and one of the things that we can look forward to during our trials.
The latter part of 2nd Corinthians 4:17 and Romans 8:18 says that our trials and sufferings will produce an everlasting glory within and upon us. Not only are trials temporary but they produce ever lasting results that will be seen on us on earth and in Heaven. Trials and trouble play a very important part in the kingdom of God and in our walk with God.
Suffering produces the character of Christ (glory) within us. Romans 5:3-5 says,
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Also James 1:2-4 says,
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
When we come to Jesus, we are not automatically made perfect. Some of our old desires will be taken away almost immediately, but habits that we've been practicing for many years may take longer to get rid of. So the role that trials play is very important because it is meant to purge our old character and transform us into the very image of Jesus. Trials expose your flaws. They reveal how impatient we are and the lack of self control we have over our flesh, and our lack of trust that the problems we face are working for a greater cause.
Joyce Meyers said, “James 1:2,3 teaches us that we should rejoice in different situations, knowing that through them, God tests our faith to bring up patience. I find that trials do eventually produce patience, but first, they bring all kinds of junk to the surface, such as pride, anger, rebellion, self pity, and complaining. We need to face and deal with these ungodly traits before patience can come forth”
Trials are necessary because change is necessary. God cannot use a proud, angry, rebellious, weak, murmuring person for His glory and for the kingdom as is. These attributes have to change within us so we can be fit for the Master's use. And the testing of our faith will bring these ungodly traits out, only if we do the opposite of what we used to do, by conforming our lives according to the Word of God. How can we possibly grow if we are only surrounded by good things? If everything is going good for you, how can you know how strong you are spiritually, when there's rarely any opportunity to show what you have learned from the Word of God?
In school, our goals are to pass to the next grade and eventually graduate. But the only way you can move up to a different and higher grade is if you take the necessary tests to see if you have been paying attention and actually learning something. Then once, and if you pass, you will move on to the next grade. Then to a higher level of responsibility and difficulty. The same is for the Christian. In order to prove that you're growing in the Word of God, and the only way to advance in the kingdom of God, is to be put to the test, to see where you're actually at.
If you haven't been studying the Word of God, it will show when it is time to be put to the test. For example, if you just got through reading James 1:14 where it says; “wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger”, then you should know not to react negatively as your first reaction when someone test your patience, right? Wrong! The only way to prove that you know what the scripture says is if you apply it when you are put in a situation that tests your patience.
You develop your righteous character by experience, by actually being able to put the Word of God into action. James 1:14 says; “let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect in and entire, wanting nothing.”
It might take some time for you to develop the character of Christ, but if you persevere and endure, you will in due time be perfect, which means: complete, in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc. Completeness, of full age. You will grow and become the person God has called you to be through your obedience to the Word of God in the midst of hard times.
Keep On Keeping
The trials that we face not only develop our character, but it gives us hope, according to Romans 5:4, and hope that doesn't disappoint, because we know that God loves us and is preparing us for a better future. According to Jeremiah 29:10.
Also, they give us an assurance. 2nd Timothy 3:12 says;
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Suffering gives us an assurance that we are on the right track with God. And when God is pleased, Satan is mad and will do anything to get you to stop believing in God. When Satan sees you progressing, he will do anything he can to try to set you back. The key word here is “try”, because God is able to take something the enemy meant for harm and turn it around for His glory and for our good! For example: right after the death of Stephen in Acts 7:60, Acts 8:1,3-7 says;
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this,
he fell asleep.
1 AND Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judæa and Samaria, except the apostles.
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles
which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
Jesus sent His disciples to preach the gospel and work the works of God. (Mark 16:15-18). Jesus promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the rise of the church (the body of Christ). But Satan, believing his own lie, supposed that persecuting the church, and causing them to scatter would prevent the gospel from being preached to the world. But God turned it around and used this persecution for the furtherance of the gospel being preached. Because they were scattered, many many lives were touched and impacted in a positive way! Souls were saved and people were being delivered and set free from their physical, spiritual, and mental ailments. God turned that situation around for the people's benefit. Truly in the kingdom of God, everything happens for a greater purpose for His glory and for our benefit. All glory, honor, and praise be to His holy name! Romans 8:28 says “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”.
God can always use the good things in life to display His power and goodness, but when God takes a situation that looks like all hope is lost and makes it into something new and turns it around for good, then that's when He really demonstrates his power, glory and love for his children. But he can only manifest (reveal) Himself if we believe. Hebrews 11:6 says;
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
God will not move on the behalf of a believer if all we're doing is complaining about how bad the situation is, and constantly worrying about whether or not it'll get better. Why would God reveal Himself when you don't do what your name implies? Believe. Believe that He is capable enough to turn your situation around for your good. It's your faith and trust in His love for you, and His ability to do the impossible that gets His attention. He rewards us with a manifestation of power and grace that keeps and sustains you during the storm and that works to change your bad situation into something good.
Sometimes it may take longer than you desire, but God uses the “wait” to test your patience and endurance to see whether or not you will still believe even when you don't see anything happening. But God is also a “present help in the time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1) and will come to the rescue if need be. He is capable of anything but He will act according to His perfect wisdom and judgment, and we just have to trust that He knows what He's doing and sooner or later, you'll see why He allowed you to go through this rough situation, or why He delivered you from the hand of the enemy.
Trials are a natural part of life and vital to the Christian because it makes, shapes and transforms us into the person we are called to be. The tests of this world are here to prepare us for ministry on earth and also prepare us for life in Heaven. So be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. For 1 Timothy 1:8 says;
For bodily exercise profits little, but godliness (spiritual training) is profitable unto all things; having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
You have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose. Trust that God knows what He's doing. Philippians 1:6 says;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Everything you go through is for your own good. God knows what to do to make you into the person He's designed you to be and will allow you to keep going through trials and tests until we are taken up to Heaven. So let patience have her perfect work. But in the meantime Jesus gives us these promises to person who endures until the end.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
I pray you be encouraged by the words of our Lord Jesus and look forward to the greater good that God has promised. We have much to look forward to. Don't let the storms of life keep you down, but look up, and praise God because they're working together for your good here on earth, and will also benefit us when we leave this earth and go home. Know that you can do all things through Christ and there is nothing that you can't conquer that Jesus Himself hasn't already conquered for you. Praise God for the storm and watch Him take over the storm. Be blessed and full of God's grace and peace. God loves you, and I love you,