Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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4 Truth in the Trials – Part 1

1 Peter 1:6-12

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

Peter begins this section with these words: “So be truly glad” “So” here refers to what Peter has already communicated in the first five verses, where he reminds us that as believers we are scattered strangers strategically positioned in a strange land to sow the seed of the gospel. Second, he tells us that we have a God who guards what He gives, which means we can praise Him for His provision, His promise, and His protection. Now the word glad here means to rejoice, and we can rejoice even in the midst of persecution because we are a people with purpose, we get to sow the seed of the gospel. We don’t just have a message we have a mission, we are not just milling around wasting our lives, we have the joy of sharing Jesus. You are not a waste of skin, you are significant because you are a servant of the Savior. Why do we rejoice because we have been called and commissioned by Christ the King. Now as we are growing up and as we go thru school people repeatedly ask us: “what are you going to do when you grow up?” “What are your plans for the future?” and we intuitively know that they are talking about jobs, work, and careers. Our world points and positions us to find our purpose in our jobs. Is it any wonder that many of us make the focus of our lives our jobs instead of Jesus, that we make it more about our career than we do Christ. Is it any wonder that while we become proficient at work we are pathetic in our witness? Yes, we have jobs to do but the goal is not our work it is our witness. Are you making the purpose of your life a paycheck or proclaiming Jesus, because there is more to life than money. Real meaning is found in magnifying the Messiah not in making money, it’s not about what you have but who we have. When we make it solely about the money we lose focus on the mission. Is it any wonder that many of us are miserable because we have missed the mission. Peter reminds us that our joy is found in Jesus, not in our jobs, yet many sons and daughters of the King are trying to find their worth in their work instead of in the One they are called to worship. Now Peter reminds us that not only can we rejoice in the rubbish of life but we can “greatly rejoice.” This is what I call jumping joy, ecstatic joy. Joy is different than happiness; happiness is related to what’s happening while joy is rooted in Jesus and what He has done for us. That’s why Jesus could say in Matthew 5:12 that even when we’re persecuted, reviled and hated we can: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” Our joy is tied to our trust in Jesus, not our trials. Unfortunately, many believers are trying to tie their joy to their journey instead of to Jesus, they are making it about their circumstances instead of making it about Christ. It’s here that as Peter teaches us about trials he reminds us of several truths, first:

  1. Trials are temporary.

Verse 6 says: “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while” While we rejoice about what is ahead, our hope in heaven we come to the words, “even though.” It’s in the midst of the glory that we face the groaning. Right now things may not be going so well for you, and you may feel mired down in the mud and the misery of your trials. You may feel like they will never end but Peter wants to bring us back to the truth that while we may be trudging through the trial it is temporary. One of the pitfalls of pain is that we can turn our focus from the truth to our feelings. As I have said many times before problems have a way of poisoning our perspective. And when we turn from the truth we start to build and base our foundation more on our feelings than our Father. Having a proper perspective on our problems means letting truth trump your trial. The words “little while” mean “for a season” right now you may be in a season of suffering and if you are going through a trial right now I want you to turn and tell your trial, the trial you are temporary. The reason Peter called our trials temporary is because in light of eternity our suffering is short. Our problem is that we tend to view our trials from an earthly perspective instead of an eternal perspective. Thomas Watson said, “Afflictions may be lasting but they are not everlasting.” Paul, who was persecuted greatly and went through all sorts of suffering, wrote this in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Peter hits this again in the last chapter of his letter: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” 1 Peter 5:10. So let me ask you are you standing on the truth that your trials are temporary or believing the lie that they will last forever?

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3 Purpose in the Pain – Part 3

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When Paul discovered God’s power in the midst of his pain it changed his whole perspective. Instead of participating in the pity party he chose to:

  • Praise in the Pain

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Trusting in God’s Word not only affected Paul’s attitude but also his actions. He no longer saw persecution as a plague to be avoided but as a privilege to bear. How many of us believed that when we got saved life would be easier? We bought into the lie that Salvation would usher in perpetual sunshine. My guess is that it probably didn’t take long for you to realize that in many ways instead of things getting easier there were many things that actually got harder. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Look Jesus didn’t promise us an easy life he promised us eternal life. He didn’t come to remove the problems he came to redeem the people. When we come to faith in Jesus there are some problems that come to an end while others are only just beginning. 2 Timothy 3:12 says “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” Here in Acts 16 Paul was experiencing problems, not because he was outside of God’s Will, but because he was walking out God’s will. He was experiencing problems not because he was doing the wrong thing but because he was doing the right thing. Our typical response to that is to say, but that’s not fair, and it’s here that I need to remind myself that this life is not about fairness it’s about faith. Unlike Paul, many of us are pursuing a pain-free life instead of a praise-filled life. We are wasting our lives whining instead of investing our lives in worship. Why do so many Christians waste their lives on whining because they have forgotten that Christ has already won the war. Instead of living as winners they are living like whining losers which not only affects their lives it infects the lives of those around them. Our greatest witness is not the song we sing in the sunshine but the one we sing in the suffering. Paul didn’t just put up with persecution he praised in the persecution. Which causes me to ask myself are we prepared for persecution today, and will our response be one of rejoicing or a chorus of complaining? It’s one thing to praise through a few problems but it’s another when you keep being plagued by pain. This attitude of praise was a common occurrence in Paul’s life, not an isolated incidence. Paul encountered many discouraging and difficult problems throughout his life, but he always faced them armed with an attitude of praised. In Acts 16 we find him praying and praising in the mist of problems and prison. So powerful was this praise that every door was opened and all the chains were loosed. I wonder today if we really understand just how powerful these spiritual weapons of prayer and praise are. Prayerful praise doesn’t just shake things up it opens up doors. Paul and Silas had been falsely accused, stripped, severely beaten and then placed in stocks in the inner prison. What was their response to the retribution, instead of being resentful they rejoiced. Why because their focus wasn’t on their problems it was on their provider. Instead of complaining at this unfair treatment or being angry with the Almighty for letting them go through the pain they chose to praise. Church we can’t control the circumstances but we can choose how we will respond to them. Often I have to remind myself that running the race involves teamwork, you see while Christ is in charge and in control of the altitude I am in charge of choosing the attitude. Instead of being bitter and angry at the Almighty they chose to praise. What about you, what are you choosing resentment or rejoicing? Why does it matter, because resentment hardens the heart while rejoicing heals it. Instead of shouting complaints they sang choruses. Satan the enemy had tried to derail and destroy their ministry through misery but instead of giving in to bitterness and a bad attitude they gave glory to God. What Satan intended for harm God uses to arm. No matter how bad the pain we have a God that can turn tragedy into triumph and despair into delight. Satan tried to sow his seeds of sorrow but instead of a harvest of hurt, they spouted into songs of praise. Like Paul and Silas, we can focus on the chains or we can focus on Christ. Circumstances can chain the hand but they don’t have to chain the heart. Are you letting your problems dictate your praise or are you pouring you’re praising into your problems? So many of us let the pains of this life put our praise into prison instead of pouring our praise into our prison.  Don’t let the hurts hold your heart hostage, instead of choosing pity chose praise. Because of their attitude of adoration, the lives of those around them were impacted. So was the pain and suffering that Paul and Silas went through worth it? Well, that depends on whether you are looking at it from an earthly perspective or an eternal one. Satan schemes were thwarted, God was glorified and a sinner was saved, I would call that success. We have a choice we can live a life that proclaims our pain or God’s power. What about you are you choosing the party of praise or the pity party