(9/6) Introduction - The Truth Ė So many of us came to Christ not knowing what was involved. We were told, just pray this prayer and then be baptized and it is all good. We thought- Forgiveness, Fire Insurance, Life Insurance, love, joy, peace, and a protective shield around us. Jesus and me, meant success, prosperity, and happiness; right?
Unfortunately, that is so wrong. Jesus never promised us that it would be easy. In fact, He promised just the opposite. Look at Matthewís Gospel.
Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." The way which leads to eternal life is hard, narrow, difficult, so much so that not many choose
it. Most want the easy way, which is the option that most people choose, but if you want the easy way, you donít want life.
Matthew 16:24-25, "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." There is a cross to bear (death to my life), self-denial (Itís not about what I want, itís about
what He wants), and a commitment to His education (Follow Me-a call to Disciple-ship). Turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 4 and look at verse 12. Someone read that aloud, please. 1 Peter 4:12, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;"
Peter says that trials should not surprise or shock anyone. If you are dealing with difficulties, donít be shocked and donít think you have done something wrong, unless you know that have. Trials, testings, and painful times, are NOT the exception, they are the rule. They are a normal part of life for all Christ-Followers. There are 4 main reasons why
(We have looked at over the summer):
1. Every human being is born with a spirit that is depraved (Gen 6:5; Romans 3:9-23); that is with a bent towards evil. Every human being has a selfish and self-centered soul. Often you are the brunt of that selfish spirit.
2. You have an enemy that is bent on destroying you (1 Peter 5:6-11; Eph. 6:10-12). Peter and Job are two of our finest examples. And God has allowed it for His Glory and for your good. You have the tools and the training to overcome him and his schemes.
3. You live in paradise lost (Gen 3:15ff; Romans 8:19-22). Our first parents began in Paradise but they lost it for all of us when they chose to follow the Serpent. You can search or work for Paradise. You can move to Florida or Hawaii or wherever you want, but you will not be free of trials and tough times as long as you are on this earth. There is no
paradise this side of heaven. The world is cursed because of sin and will be until Jesus returns to make it all new. From natural disasters to the hardships of making a living or struggling with issues of health, finances, marriages, children, parents, etc.
4. God is using your difficulties to educate you so you can be more like Jesus (Heb. 12:1-11; Romans 8:28-29; James 1:2-4). He may discipline you, but mostly he brings or allows trials, tough times, and even Satanís temptations to instruct you and then to test you to see if you will put His instruction to practice. Remember, He accepts you the way you
are He but loves you too much to leave you that way. He is totally committed to your education. He is shaping your character and conduct. In a couple of weeks we will conclude with Hebrews 12.
Three more things I want you to realize right now.
1. Trials will be part of your life as long you are alive. Thatís what our Lord told us in John 16:33, "these things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
2. Trials come on all sizes and shapes. Look at James 1:2, and someone read that. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials," The Old King James, says divers or diverse trials. The word is variegated and means of many kinds and colors. There is no one size fits all. Here is where we are different the military. Everyone goes
through the exact same basic or boot training of that branch of the service. But for us, they can be short and irritable like a flat tire, or a bill to pay. Or they can be long and painful like a job loss, or critical accident or illness.
3. Trials have a refining value. Look at 1 Peter 1:3-9, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who
are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the
revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen[a] you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faithóthe salvation of your souls. You know about the refining process. You have to turn up the heat so the impurities in the metal will separate and can be removed leaving the purity of
the metal, whether it is gold or silver, or bronze. Job understood this. Thatís why he said; "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (Job 13:15). And, "But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).
So, letís do a case study of the refining process of God. Turn to Deuteronomy 8:1-6; "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in
the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you. 6 "Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him."
Letís refresh our memory first. For forty years these Hebrews have been camping in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. The Lord God, the Great I Am, had promised Abraham that his descendants would be uncountable and would inherit the land of Canaan. Not just present day Israel but most of the Middle East. After living in Egypt for over 400 years
and spending a lot of that time in slavery. They had been surrounded by Egyptian culture, and religion, and ways. And after years of prayer and crying for deliverance, God sent Moses to deliver them out of their bondage and into freedom and their own land.
The Hebrews didnít know God, they didnít know His name, and they just knew the stories that had been verbally passed down about Adam and his descendants through Joseph the Vice regent. There was a lot they needed to learn. They needed to know that they were special, and that the God of Abraham loved them. Look back at Ch. 7:6-8.
They also needed to know how to live holy. So God gave them a written text; A History and a Constitution. Moses and Aaron would teach them the word of God and they would live by it. These are the first 5 books of the Bible.
They also needed to know that they could trust God and if they obeyed God regardless of the circumstances or consequences, He would always take care of them. To prove that, He would give them tests. These were intentional trials to prove to them that He loved them and would always keep His word.
They also had to unlearn, delete, a lot that they grew up doing or believing; that is, the ways, and beliefs of the Egyptians. This is exactly what He does for us. You need to know that He considers you special, precious, His child and that he loves you enough to die for you and to train you to be as special as He considers you to be. But we also have
to unlearn the ways of the world that we have grown up with and been influenced by.
These Hebrews needed to learn these things before they went into the Promised Land. They had to complete their high school or college education. They had a lot to learn before they were given their independence. Look at the text.
A. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness (v.2a). He never left you. He is committed to you. You have seen the presence of the invisible God in the cloud by day and the fire by night. He have the glow of the shekinah Glory in the tabernacle. And you know that this land between has had a
B. to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.(v.2b) Thatís the purpose of the test. Will you trust ad obey God? Will you live by the book? Thatís what he wants to know about you. He already knows the answer to that, but you donít. Anybody can be a fair weather Christian. Faith is when I
trust and Obey God when there is a storm. Or, will I complain, try to make things happen my way, or quit? God used trials to test them.
1. They needed to Learn Humility. Perhaps this is something we all struggle with. He is God and we are not. This is His world, and not ours. We are His children and He is our Father. Life is about Him and not about us. Do you understand that? We were created for His glory, created to care for His creation.
a. And there is no other God beside Him. Exodus 12:12, reminds us that every one of the 10 plagues brought against Egypt was directed at an Egyptian idol god. Did you know that? These were not random. Jehovah wanted them to know that there is no God beside Him and no power in the universe that is like Him. He is the one true god and that was what each
of the 10 plagues proved. No power of darkness can stand against our God.
b. Everything you have been blessed with is a gift from God. You have nothing that he did not give you, including your education, strength, skills, and opportunities. They are all gifts from God and the rest of chapter 8 is a reminder that you must understand that if you want to have a good life. Sadly, our country and with Israel have forgotten that
and we have become proud and arrogant. Humility is like the web-ministry- I Am Second. Maybe even third or fourth. There is a child evangelism song that says, "Jesus and Others, and You what a wonderful way to spell joy."
c. He loves you just because He loves you (7:7-9). It is not because of anything they did, or that you have done, or the way you look, or your intelligence, or your race, or your social class, or civility, or your nationality. We have nothing to boast about when it comes to being a God-Child. He just loves you because of who He is and that He promised
He would. He is not indebted to us; we are indebted to Him. He is the creator, we are the created. We donít get to choose or make the rules; He makes the rules. We are not in charge here; He is. All of us are subordinates. He is the only 6 star General; we are all commissioned officers under Him. He leads and we follow. They needed to learn that and so do we.
2. They needed to learn Godís Faithfulness. V.3-4, "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did
your foot swell these forty years." Man has always been under the impression that God helps those who help themselves. He purposely let them run out of resources to see if they would trust Him or not. There are times in which our God will let us run out of our options or resources so He can prove Himself faithful. Learn this lesson and learn it well. Look these up later.
a. Exodus 14:9-14- The Hebrews who had spent years as slaves were exiting Egypt; a broken country. They left with the money and jewelry and possessions of Egypt and on the way to their own land. Then they came to the Red Sea and behind them an enraged Pharaoh bent on regaining what he had lost and killing Moses. They had now forgotten the 10 plagues
and the power of God and were ignoring the presence of God in the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night that was leading them (13:21-22). "I knew we should have never left Egypt, now we are going to die. No youíre not; watch what God does for you.
b. Ex. 15:24. Canteens were empty; no one brought the water wagon. The only fresh water they found was bitter. The people complained. But God showed them how to make root beer.
c. Ex. 16. Sack lunches were gone and there were no McDonaldís in the wilderness. So they complained, "Even if we were slaves we ate well." But God feeds them with bread from heaven. Manna, which means, what is this stuff?
Listen, Godís plan has always been for His people, "If you will seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, He will take care of you." But we keep thinking, "No, I have to take care of myself. God helps those who help themselves. But He wants us to learn this lesson. Trust and Obey me and I will take care of you. Sometimes He gets us in a
position to see if we believe and will trust and obey Him. The author of Hebrews says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
3. To test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. God never meant for His commandments to be a burden (1 John 5:3). Two things about his commandments
a. They were intended to be a blessing. Over and over again he tells us to keep or obey His commandments. (Deut. 6:24-25). His commandments were meant to be good for us. If we obey them we will be always do what is right and we wonít have to clean up messes in our lives. Thatís why he gave them to us.
b. They are how we demonstrate our love for God (John 14:1, 23; 1 John 5:3). I obey then because I know a loving father gave them to me for my good. Therefore, because I love him I will trust and obey Him. So, sometimes, he letís us get into a position where He will test us. He wants to know if we really love him or just like Him a lot. I am not
4. Trials are to test our faithfulness. Letís just a few moments and think through some of the good ole bigíens.
a. There is only One God, the one who redeemed us, and we are to love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our strength. You have 30 minutes in the morning to drink your coffee before you go to work. Do you turn on ESPN or Spend time with the Bible and prayer before you leave? Golf course, fishing, lawn, football, or church?
Friendship with the world is adultery James says in James 4:1-2.
b. Donít treat Godís name as an empty thing. Is He the man upstairs; the big guy; the source of jokes or expletives when something goes wrong? Do you swear by Him when you know you arenít being truthful?
c. Do you take one day a week just to rest and worship? Or is work, play, the lawn, the car, of more value. I understand that some of you have to work Sundayís, but you still can take one day, not your pleasure, but to rest, be with your family and worship God. How are you doing?
d. Do you honor your parents who have been less than honorable?
e. Do you forgive those who have hurt you or do hope to see them get whatís coming to them; in fact, you would like to give it to them?
f. Do you take what doesnít belong to you? From the government, from work, or from someoneís mistake?
g. Do you keep secrets or speak deceptively to make a deal, or to protect yourself, or to get what you want? Half Truths are lies.
h. Do you look at shows, movies, websites, magazines, or read romance novellas that make you wish you were with someone else? That is adultery, Jesus said.
i. Do want stuff just because someone else has it? Not satisfied with what you have like the fishermanís wife.
j. Christmas, vacation, or the hunting or fishing trip us coming up but you have overspent on your credit cards, do you continue to tithe?
k. Do you treat friends and strangers as they treat you or as you would want them to treat you?
l. You are in room with a lot of people and someone wants to know why you are drinking a cola and not a beer, what do you say? Or are you drinking the beer? Do you take into consideration the honor or glory of God before you do anything?
m. Do you criticize the government and those in leadership, or do you pray for them knowing that God has a bigger plan than you know?
n. Have you ever considered going on a mission trip or doing evangelism in your community? Yet Jesus said to go and make disciples. Have you ever made a disciple?
o. Do you pray, and study to seek Godís will for your life or do you pray that God will approve of and bless your will for your life?
p. Do you love God or do you just like Him a lot. There are a lot more we could discuss, but the point is God will test you in these and other categories to see what is in your heart. Will you trust and obey Him and leave the results to Him?
Trials are not the exception they are the rule. They are normal and they will be constant until we are with Jesus. They are meant to refine us and remove he impurities in our life. God uses them to demonstrate His faithfulness to us. They are given to humble us so we will know that He is God and we are not. And they are designed to see if we will trust
and obey Him even when it doesnít make sense; to see if we love Him or just like him a lot.
Verses 5-6 remind us that He is only doing what any Father would do if they loved their children. He wants you to respect and love Him for who He is and what He has done in your life.
As we prepare for communion, letsí take a few minutes to be quiet before the Lord. Letís answer this question. Do I love God or just like Him a lot? The proof is how you respond to your tests and whether or not you obey His commands.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman