Monday, November 17, 2014

Overcoming Trials

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

Today, there are many children of God who are going through various hardships – trials, tribulations, troubles, etc. Tests or trials may come from God, the world,  or Satan.  This is usually the result of following and trusting God, and their purpose is to prove our faith. To many people, however, this is a time of discouragement and frustration, and perhaps even rebellion from God as they begin to question whether God really cares about them… or whether He even really exists. While we do not have all the answers as to why trials come and bad things happen to us, we take refuge in God’s Word and seek Him for answers, assurance, hope, and deliverance. His coming is very near.

For your edification and encouragement, I (Glenn) woke up the morning of November 16, 2014, with a word. I did not see a vision, but what I heard in my mind before I woke up is a young girl singing these words: "See The Messiah is coming! The Messiah is coming! See The Messiah is coming! The Messiah is coming!"

As indicated in the opening Scripture above, the Lord Jesus did not promise us that we will always have a “prosperous”, “good” and easy time in this world. This is contrary to what many of the popular, material-driven, prosperity teachers preach nowadays. As a matter of fact, The Lord bluntly warned us to be prepared of trials if we obediently follow Him instead of blending in with the world: He says:
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me" (John 15:18-21).
The Lord’s words indeed are true. In the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, we see many righteous people who went through severe trials and tests. We discussed some of these in the Obedience Through Test article:
  • Joseph: Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of him and mistreated him (Genesis 37:18-36). In Egypt, he was a diligent and honest worker and earned his master’s trust. As a result of his faithfulness to God, his master’s wife lied about him and he was thrown into prison, where he languished for over two years (Genesis 39:1-23).
  • Moses: Moses was rejected by his own people (Exodus 2:14) and had to abandon royal privileges to be a shepherd in Midian for 40 years. Even after God called him, trials followed him. Overwhelmed, wearied and stressed out by the people’s complaining and whining, he prayed for The Lord to mercifully kill him (Numbers 11:15).
  • Naomi: Naomi lost both her husband and two sons, and returned to her homeland Israel pretty much empty-handed, feeling like a “loser”; she wanted to be called “Mara,” which means bitter (Ruth 1:20-21).
  • Job: Unknown to Job, the devil engineered a wicked scheme that resulted in Job losing ALL his worldly possessions and his children all suddenly died under a barrage of the enemy’s attacks. All that was left to him was a sickly body, a critical wife, and friends who blamed him for his woes (Job 1:13-18; 2:7-9).
  • David: David was not only looked down upon in his family, but even after he began serving in the king’s palace, King Saul hated him and attempted to kill him (1 Samuel 19:9-12). He spent several years running for his life. After ascending to the throne, his daughter was violated and one of his son’s tried to dethrone him (2 Samuel 15).
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: These were persecuted because they refused to bow down to idolatry (Daniel 3:1, 14-16).
  • God’s Prophets: The Bible says that all of God’s prophets went through trials and were persecuted (Acts 7:52). For example, Elijah had to flee from Jezebel and was so discouraged that he wanted to die because he had had enough (1 Kings 19:1-3); Jeremiah was imprisoned and thrown into a dark dungeon (Jeremiah 37:14-38; 38:5-6); Daniel was persecuted and thrown into the lion’s den for worshiping God (Daniel 6:16-17); etc.
  • Paul and the apostles:Paul and the apostles suffered many tests and trials, including beatings, sickness and imprisonment (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
All the aforementioned people, plus several others not mentioned, faced severe trials and tests. So we can agree that trials are not new, and you are not the only going through trials right now, neither will you be the last one. As long as we are in this physical body and before the Lord Jesus Christ returns, we should expect trials… increasing trials as a matter of fact, like birth pains, and this is just the beginning, because He is coming soon! (Matthew 24:8).

Trials are Temporary

The Bible clearly indicates that trials are not a permanent state of affairs, but are just temporary and confined to this world because "the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10)... “for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). As believers, we should not be anxious about anything but continue to pray and give thanks to God (Philippians 4:6-7). Our help comes from God and our strength is in Jesus (Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:13), with our hope fixed on heaven (Hebrews 11:6). For this reason, many of the people who went through trials as mentioned above attained victory in the end and are counted among the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:1-40). They trusted in God to overcome “…because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
  • Joseph trusted in God’s Word and promises, and therefore persevered all the way to the end of his life, forgiving his brothers and giving God glory (Genesis 50:20).
  • Moses gained favor in the sight of God, and “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11).
  • God healed Naomi’s bitterness, and restored her hope – she received a “guardian-redeemer,” who would “renew [her] life and sustain [her] in [her] old age” and her daughter in law, Ruth, also became an ancestor of Israel’s kings (Ruth 4:14-16), including The King of Kings (Matthew 1:1, 5-6).
  • The Lord restored Job’s losses and blessed him “more than his beginning” (Job 42:12-17) and in the New Testament he is presented as one whose patience and perseverance we, believers, should emulate (James 5:7-11).
  • Despite David’s trials and shortcomings, through perseverance and obedience he finally triumphed, with God calling him “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
  • Despite all their trials, God spared the lives of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and they obtained favors and promotions (Daniel 2:48-49; Daniel 3:30).
  • Through the trials of The Lord’s prophets, their writings revealed God’s plans and promises and their experiences continue to encourage billions of people.
  • Paul and the apostles endured their trials, which encouraged them to depend more on God (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
Just like the Bible characters mentioned above and other faithful believers who have gone before us, we should “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10), being encouraged that trials are only temporary. God’s grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). If you are tempted to give up, give in, or “end it all”, please stand firm and “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)“God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Furthermore, The Bible encourages us to “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4). Why should we count it all joy? Because "blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).

Whatever trial you are going through, please do not give up on your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and/or backslide, because you might end up worse off! “ If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20).

The right response to trials is to endure/persevere, and we should not give up on our faith even unto death. We should be “….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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Overcoming Trials

The Bible says:
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5).
We understand children of God world-wide are experiencing trials, temptations, and distress in their lives during these last days. We encourage you in Jesus’ name to hold on to your faith and standing firm and letting nothing move you (1 Corinthians 15:58). The Lord through His word has encouraged us saying in this world, we will have trouble but to take heart being of good cheer because He has overcome the world; in Him we can have great peace in the midst of all our troubles (John 16:33).

Remember, for our sake, even while the Lord Jesus Christ cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”; He endured the cross till the end (Matthew 47:26) and is now "highly exalted"(Philippians 2:9). He endured and was glad that we may inherit eternal life. We are called to be like Him and to follow His example, that is to have His mind in us (Philippians 2:5-11). We each have cross to carry; we have our own set of trials and tribulations and the Lord says “…I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:19). He has not left us alone but will deliver us from our foe, the devil (Psalm 54:7; Psalm 69:18).

Furthermore, the Lord said “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 19:11-13). Therefore, keep seeking the Lord in prayer, Bible reading, and worship daily. When things are good and when things do not look good, still remember He is always there with you (Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 6:19). We should seek Him no matter how we feel or in whatever state we are: when we fall short, when we are tired, when we are sick, when we are hurt and when we discouraged. Whatever excuse the enemy gives us to discourage us and hinder us, we must strive to enter the narrow path which the Lord Jesus said many will try to enter and will not be able to (Luke 13:24)!

This is also the time to make choices to let go and forgive, love, care for, give, speak well of, bless and do as the Holy Spirit leads (Galatians 5:16-18). As we love and obey the Lord, He will rescue us from every evil attack and will bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom (2 Timothy 4:18). Jesus Christ has also given us “authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19).

Bearing Good Fruit Under Trials

In the Obedience through Test article, we discussed how test exposes our hidden weaknesses and makes room for new fruit. We also shared other helpful insights including testimonies of trials and tests that made us strong and depend on God. The Bible tells us to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:2) but most of us have not grown to react joyfully while under trials. Trials are opportunities to trust God in prayer, obedience, and fruit bearing. They are occasions to be joyous as we look forward to God’s victory; to be loving, patient, peaceful, humble, kind, gentle, faithful, merciful, long suffering, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22). Are you exuding these fruits when your business fails, you've been diagnosed with a disease, your children are being disobedient, your marriage is going through a rough spot, you’re lacking finances, or you've been mistreated by someone? We are called to persevere and “…..glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). In all trials the Lord also says “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19).

As for overcoming the temptations, the Bible says "blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12). We are called not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice in hope, be patient in afflictions and tribulations, and continue steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:12). In whatever tests, trials, tribulations, temptations, you may be going through, remember to stand firm in The Lord's promises that:
"in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39). 
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). 
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:11).
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).
Have you been bearing bad fruit in times of trial? Do you want to be an overcomer in Jesus Christ? Will you allow God’s abundant grace to fulfill you today? Whatever your trial is today, trust in the grace of God to be sufficient. Go to Him in prayer. Read His Word. Allow Him to be all that you need to endure this trying time.

Please repent and trust Him. If you would like to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour here is a Prayer of Sincere Repentance to get you started. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

In Christ,

Preparing for The Kingdom Ministry.