Charles Stanley – Discerning the Source of Our Trials

Charles Stanley

James 1:1-8, 12

What was the last painful or stressful trial you experienced? Was it a struggle for you physically, emotionally, and spiritually? No one has ever lived a life completely free from pain, uncertainty, stress, and trials. The Bible makes this point abundantly clear. Jesus, Moses, Job, Peter, Paul, and all of the heroes of Scripture are portrayed as men and women who, at one time or another, underwent trying times of hardship and heartache. Now, thousands of years later, God’s servants are still undergoing hard times. Therefore, it is important that you learn how to cope with these harsh patches in life.

James 1:2 is a rather short verse, but it contains tremendous insight into the issue of life’s trials. The phrase “when you encounter various trials” includes three key words that demonstrate the universality of man’s hardships. First, it is significant that James uses the word “when.” This defines the issue; undergoing trials is not a matter of if but rather when. Second, when he says that you will “encounter” misfortune, he is stating that difficulties will arise unexpectedly; there may be no time to prepare for these dilemmas. Third, he uses the adjective “various” to denote the ever-changing, often-surprising forms in which trials appear.

As you begin to examine the issue of life’s persistent difficulties, a reasonable question to ask is, “Where do these hard times come from?” There are, in fact, some specific sources of trials. The primary cause is simply making wrong decisions ourselves. Our God-given free will allows us the opportunity and responsibility of making our own choices. Unfortunately, though, even the most committed Christian will make mistakes when making decisions, and the result will be a period of hardship.

Another cause of trials is persecution by other people. This is certainly an impediment with which the early church was familiar. Writing to the suffering Christians scattered throughout the ancient world, Peter says, “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14). Whether it is on account of your faith or for some other reason altogether, a sad fact of life is that the world is full of people who have the ability and desire to hurt you. This is certainly a challenge for Christians seeking to respond to their oppressors in a Christ-like manner.

A third source of trials is the fallen world in which we live. Sin has so permeated the earth that God’s original concept of paradise seems impossible. Tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, sickness, war, bloodshed, and crime are all the results of sin’s impact upon the world. Clearly, there is no way to escape the trials that seem to appear out of nowhere.

Not surprisingly, many trials often come straight from the Devil. After all, Satan is interested in ways in which he can torment us, and each attempt he makes has but one purpose—to draw us further away from God.

A final source of trials is the Lord. Many people resist this idea, believing that God desires only happiness for them. However, the truth is that God is more concerned with our maturity and development than He is our general happiness. That is difficult for some to accept, but our relationships with Him are far more important than our temporary well-being here on earth.

Often, there are lessons that can only be learned through hardship; therefore, God will allow difficulties to enter into our lives for His purposes. Finding God’s reasoning for our suffering can be a daunting task, but when we view our hardships from our Father’s eternal perspective, we can begin to understand them more clearly. Therefore, the best starring point for understanding the rationale behind our trials is to prayerfully consider their source. The better we understand where these problems come from, the better we will be able to work through them.

Adapted from “The Charles F. Stanley’s Life Principles Bible,” 2008.

 

Related Resources

Related Video

Wisdom For Life’s Trials

One of the most common questions people ask is, “If God is a loving Father, why does He allow His children to go through painful and difficult trials?” In this sermon, Dr. Stanley explains how God uses trials to do several things, and the 10 ways we can respond properly. (Watch Wisdom For Life’s Trials.)

 

Our Daily Bread — Amazing Guide

Our Daily Bread

Joshua 1:1-9

Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken. —Joshua 21:45

When actors and actresses make a movie, it’s the director who sees the “big picture” and the overall direction. Actress Marion Cotillard admits she didn’t understand everything the director was doing in one of her recent films. She said, “I found it very interesting to allow myself to be lost, because I knew that I had this amazing guide. . . . You abandon yourself for a story and a director that will make it all work.”

I think Joshua could have said something similar about the director of his life. In today’s Scripture passage, the newly commissioned leader of Israel is standing at the threshold of the Promised Land. More than 2 million Israelites are looking to him to lead them. How would he do it? God didn’t give him a detailed script, but He gave him the assurance that He would go with him.

God said, “I will be with you. I will not leave you” (Josh. 1:5). He commanded Joshua to study and practice everything written in His Word (vv.7-8), and He promised to be with Joshua wherever he went. Joshua responded with complete devotion and surrender to his amazing Guide, and “not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken” (21:45).

We too can abandon ourselves to our Director and rest in His faithfulness. —Poh Fang Chia

He leadeth me! O blessed thought!

O words with heavenly comfort fraught!

Whate’er I do, where’er I be,

Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. —Gilmore

Faith never knows where it is being led; it knows and loves the One who is leading. —Oswald Chambers

Bible in a year: Ezekiel 3-4; Hebrews 11:20-40

Insight

Moses dishonored God (Num. 20:1-13) and was not allowed to enter the Promised Land (Deut. 3:23-29). Yet God permitted him to see it from afar (34:1-4). Moses was succeeded by Joshua, a man who was “full of the spirit of wisdom” (v.9). In Joshua 1:1-9, God assured Joshua of His presence, power, providence, provision, and protection—just as God had assured Moses and been with him.

 

Alistair Begg – That Long – Expected Day

Alistair Begg

Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty.   Isaiah 33:17

The more you know about Christ, the less will you be satisfied with superficial views of Him; and the more deeply you study His transactions in the eternal covenant, His engagements on your behalf as the eternal Security, and the fullness of His grace that shines in all His offices, the more truly will you see the King in His beauty. Learn to look at Him this way. Long increasingly to see Jesus.

Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of gold and gates of silver through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye and enables us to see Jesus in a better fashion than we could have seen Him if we had lived in the days of His earthly sojourn. Our conversation ought to be more in heaven, and we should be more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord. More meditation, and the beauty of the King would flash upon us with more splendor.

Beloved, it is very probable that we will have such a sight of our glorious King as we never had before when we come to die. Many saints in dying have looked up from amidst the stormy waters and have seen Jesus walking on the waves of the sea and heard Him say, “It is I—do not be afraid.” Yes, when the building begins to shake, and the mortar falls away, we will see Christ through the studs, and between the rafters the sunlight of heaven will come streaming in. But if we want to see the King face to face in all His beauty, we must go to heaven for the sight or the King must come here in person.

If only He would come on the wings of the wind! He is our Husband, and we are widowed by His absence; He is our fair and faithful Brother, and we are lonely without Him. Thick veils and clouds hang between our souls and their true life: When will the day break and the shadows run away? Let the long-expected day begin!

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The family reading plan for November 16, 2014 * Amos 5 * Luke 1:1-38

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Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Charles Spurgeon – God’s barriers against man’s sin

CharlesSpurgeon

“Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? But this people hath a revolting and rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.” Jeremiah 5:22-23

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 1:1-4

God here contrasts the obedience of the strong, the mighty, the untamed sea, with the rebellious character of his own people. “The sea,” saith he, “obeys me; it never breaks its boundary; it never leaps from its channel; it obeys me in all its movements. But man, poor puny man, the little creature whom I could crush as the moth, will not be obedient to me. The sea obeys me from shore to shore, without reluctance, and its ebbing floods, as they retire from its bed, each of them says to me, in the voices of the pebbles, ‘O Lord, we are obedient to thee, for thou art our master.’ But my people”, says God, “are a revolting and a rebellious people; they go astray from me.” And is it not, my brethren, a marvellous thing, that the whole earth is obedient to God, save man? Even the mighty leviathan, who maketh the deep to be hoary, sinneth not against God, but his course is ordered according to his Almighty Master’s decree. Stars, those wondrous masses of light, are easily directed by the very wish of God; clouds, though they seem erratic in their movement, have God for their pilot; “he maketh the clouds his chariot;” and the winds, though they seem restive beyond control, yet do they blow, or cease to blow just as God wills. In heaven, on earth, even in the lower regions, we could scarcely find such a disobedience as that which is practised by man; at least, in heaven, there is a cheerful obedience; and in hell there is constrained submission to God, while on earth man makes the base exception, he is continually revolting and rebelling against his Maker.

For meditation: Jonah, a great wind, a great fish, a plant, a worm, an east wind (Jonah 1:3,4,17; 2:10; 4:6-8)—which is the odd one out?

Answer: God’s servant Jonah—the rest obeyed God at once. This should humble us!

Sermon no. 220

16 November (1856)

John MacArthur –Stepping out in Faith

 

John MacArthur“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).

The life of faith begins with a willingness to forsake everything that displeases God.

Abraham is the classic example of the life of faith. As the father of the Jewish nation, he was the most strategic example of faith available to the writer of Hebrews. But the people to whom Hebrews was written needed to understand that Abraham was more than the father of their race; he also was, by example, the father of everyone who lives by faith in God (Rom. 4:11).

Contrary to popular first-century Jewish thought, God didn’t choose Abraham because he was righteous in himself. When called by God, Abraham was a sinful man living in an idolatrous society. His home was in the Chaldean city of Ur, which was located in ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

God’s call to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3: “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Note Abraham’s response: “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him” (v. 4). He listened, trusted, and obeyed. His pilgrimage of faith began when he separated himself from the pleasures of a pagan land to pursue God’s plan for his life.

So it is with you if you’re a man or woman of true faith. You’ve forsaken sinful pleasures to follow Christ. And as your love for Christ increases, there’s a corresponding decrease in worldly desires.

I pray your focus will continually be on fulfilling God’s will for your life, and that you’ll always know the joy and assurance that comes from following Him.

Suggestions for Prayer;  Ask God for the grace and spiritual fortitude to walk by faith today.

For Further Study; Memorize 1 John 2:15 as a reminder to remain separate from the world.

Joyce Meyer – The Devil’s Lies

Joyce meyer

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father oflies and ofall that is false. —Proverbs 4:20-22

The devil lies. In fact, the devil doesn’t know how to speak the truth. Most Christians know that and yet they still listen to his evil words. Sometimes the lies seem to just pop into our minds for no apparent reason; sometimes Satan even speaks to us through other people. He puts something critical or hurtful into their minds about us, and they speak it out for us to hear. If we listen and accept what we hear, our enemy rejoices. If we listen long enough to the deceptive information we have taken in, we will find ourselves facing serious problems. Instead of listening and absorbing the untruths and satanic deceptions, you can look at what Jesus did and follow His example.

After fasting for forty days in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus three times. Each time He defeated the devil by declaring, “It is written,” and quoting the Word of, God. No wonder the devil fled from Him (see Matthew 4:1-11). Learn the truth of God’s Word, and every time Satan lies to you, quote a scripture back to him. Learn to talk back to the devil. Too many people don’t know how to use the Word to defeat Satan’s lies. Many people even Christians don’t seem to realize that they can refuse to listen to that voice. Too many people don’t realize that the devil attacks their minds with negative or wrong thoughts. It’s his nature to lie; he is out to enslave everyone.

I encourage people to realize that they are not alone in their spiritual battles their minds are not the only ones under attack. Satan comes against everyone. His entire goal is to kill, steal and destroy; but Jesus came that we might have and enjoy our lives abundantly (see John 10:10). By becoming more conscious of the spiritual weapons the Lord has made available to us and learning how to use them, we can gain victory. We can break the strongholds the devil has built in our minds. The Bible tells us that when we know the truth, that truth will free us from Satan’s strongholds (see John 8:32).

I know a woman named Mary who had been deceived by the devil’s lies. The devil had whispered to her for years that all men were alike and wanted to hurt women and take advantage of them. As Mary read the Bible and prayed more effectively, she learned that it was the devil who had pushed her around. Now she knows she can be free.

As Mary develops in her relationship with God, she is equipping herself to win the battle for her mind. She’s learning more about God and more about how to pray effectively.

“Jesus has become my friend,” Mary said. She had known Him as her Savior and worshiped Him as God, but this was a new revelation to her. One day she read Hebrews 2:18 in a totally new light. It says of Jesus: “Because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried). He is able to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted.”

That passage came alive to Mary because she saw Jesus not only as God, but as her friend one who knows what it’s like to be tempted and who knows what it is like to suffer. “I knew He died on the cross, but I had not thought of all the pain He went through for me. To realize that He understands my pain and problems was a new thought to me.”

Mary also says that when negative, mean, or ugly thoughts come into her head, she is learning to stop those thoughts. “Jesus wouldn’t talk that way. Jesus wouldn’t be critical and judgmental, so that’s the devil fighting for my mind.”

Mary hasn’t won all the battles, but she has learned to fight the great deceiver. Every time she wins one battle, the next one becomes easier.

God of all power, thank You for giving me the weapons to defeat the lies of the devil. Help me to always make good use of them. Thank You, Jesus, for being my friend and for being with me in my difficulties and struggles. Amen.

From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Gives the Victory

dr_bright

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57, KJV).

In our busy lives, yours and mine, there are days when victory seems an impossibility. Heartaches, trials, burdens, or just the ordinary cares of the day, all seem foreign to the idea of being victorious.

And yet the fact remains that we are “more than conquerors” even when we do not feel like it. God graciously allows His children to be human and to express our doubts and fears when suffering and pain and testing and trial seem to overwhelm us.

“I have to be very honest,” confessed Joyce Landorf, well-known Christian author and speaker, during a long period of illness. “One of the things I have learned from severe pain is that I have felt totally abandoned by God. I didn’t think he’d let that happen to me, but He has.

“And maybe the feeling of abandonment when pain is at its writhing best..maybe that’s what makes it so sweet after the pain goes and the Lord says, ‘I was here all the time. I haven’t left you. I will never forsake you.’ Now those words get sweeter to me because I know what it has felt like to not feel His presence.”

We do not have all the answers, but we know one who does. And that is where our victory begins – acknowledging (1) that God is a God of love, one who never makes a mistake, and (2) he will never leave us or forsake us.

Bible Reading: Romans 7:18-25

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will consider myself a victor, whatever may transpire, because I serve the victorious one

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – Amazing But True

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God does not always pick the most likely person for a particular job. Abraham was old. Moses was shy. Samson lacked self-control. Jonah ran away. David was an adulterer and murderer. Mary was a virgin chosen to be a mother. Peter was impatient. Paul persecuted Christians. The list goes on.

A minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.

Ephesians 3:7

Paul said because of God’s grace and power, when he was weak, he was strong (II Corinthians 12:10). In today’s verse, Paul noted how he relied on God’s grace and power to minister the gospel. It’s amazing but true: God chooses the foolish, the weak, the low and despised to shame the powerful, so no human can boast in God’s presence (I Corinthians 1:27-29). Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Abide in Christ through prayer, reading the Bible and doing what it says. Recognize your weaknesses and work to eradicate them, but don’t let them hold you back from service for Him to others. Then pray for your newly-elected politicians to seek God and rely on His power and grace.

Recommended Reading: John 15:1-11