Flames of Truth Ministries
Monday, October 23, 2017

Facing Trials and Tribulations

I.                    What kind of peace do you long for? Peace for the world from wars that rage and that put our service men in the grip of death and anguish? Peace in our schools and businesses from all violence that we hear about almost daily? Peace in your home from anger, bitterness, drugs, alcohol, abuse, unfaithfulness, financial distress, disharmony?      
 OR Peace in your heart and soul that can withstand any of these fears ?
II.                  Lord, please open the heart, soul and mind of the person reading this study. Please allow Your words to penetrate and speak deeply in their heart and be set in their minds so that there is a permanent change in them from the inside out. You are our peace and our truth. To You Heavenly Father is due all the glory and honor that we may find as we study Your Word. 
III.                Definitions –
a.       Hebrew – Shalom – a condition or sense of harmony, well-being, prosperity (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
b.      Our typical greeting in English is “How are you?” but in Hebrew it would be “Do you have peace?” Wouldn’t it be amazing if God’s people started using this greeting? It would be a fantastic lead into asking them about knowing Jesus.
c.       Greek – Eirene – the absence of hostility, strife or disorder; condition and sense of being safe and secure. 
d.      Is this what you are looking for? Would you like a sense of harmony in all that you do in your family life, in your work place, in your relationships with friends and loved ones? Do you want that well-being feeling – to know that you are being taken care of in the deepest sense of the word? Do you want to know that not only today but that tomorrow you can be safe and secure no matter what the media tells us and no matter what our bank account tells us and not matter what our weak and seemingly defeated body tells us? If this is what you want then hang on through this lesson and the ones to follow. We will look deeply into the truths of God’s Word so that we can plant it in our hearts and hold on to it during times of trials and tribulations.
IV.                A look at trials and tribulations
a.       But wait you say, this is a study on peace. I don’t want to learn about trials and tribulations. I have enough on-the-job experience with those. Well, this is where you have to hold on tight to the WORD. We must understand what the Word teaches us about the trials and tribulations that we face in order for us to fully understand the peace that Jesus offers to us through His Presence and His Spirit. We have to battle the message being put out through false prophets that if you just put on a happy face and claim the blessings that are out there for you, then you’ll be happy, happy all the time. That is not biblical and when you stand beside a loved one who is dying from cancer and your heart is breaking you cannot put on that happy face. Yet you can find the peace of God in those circumstances and there is a huge difference in the two scenarios. Dear sisters, hold on and allow God to grow you in your understanding of His peace through the teaching of His Word.
b.      Matthew 10:33-39, “But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace , but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.” Jesus wanted to clearly state to His followers that He did not come to the earth to establish some euphoric paradise where everyone was at perfect peace and happiness. He made it very clear that to follow Him, there would be trials and tribulation and you would have to take up your cross which was a symbol of pain and suffering. So use this passage to set in your mind, that just because you have Jesus does not in any way mean that you will have a life free of trials. Also, as you look at the strong words of Jesus here, remember that we must take the whole counsel of the Word and not just isolate one verse to form our beliefs. In Acts 20:27, Paul states that he did not shrink away from declaring the whole purpose (counsel) of God.   We must understand that in choosing Christ to be our Savior and LORD, tribulations will come just as Christ Himself said.
c.       James 1:2-4, 12, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing….Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” Not only did Jesus say that we were going to have tribulations but that we are to count them as joy because of the faith that it produces in us. There are two times in my life that I have vivid memories of the peace of God that is beyond comprehension. The first is when we were trying to have a second child and we had gone through every medical procedure possible and the doctor told me that not only was I not going to have a baby but that I must have a hysterectomy. This wise doctor, who listened to our Heavenly Father through his practice, told me that he would give me a year to deal with it emotionally before he did the surgery. As I poured my heart out to God that year, I just knew He would give me the miracle that I so very desperately wanted. However, as the time drew near for the surgery, I had to face what if I didn’t get the miracle. The surgery would make it final. I began to ask people to simply pray that God would give me and Gary, my husband, peace. When we arrived at the hospital for the surgery, the hospital assigned me a room that required that I walk past the nursery with all the newborn babies and beaming, proud parents. As I thought my heart would fall out of my chest, they walked us to room which was right outside the locked double doors that led into the psychiatric ward. I thought, how funny, they are going to walk me past the babies that I can’t have and push me completely over the edge and roll me right on into the psychiatric ward. However, after the surgery, God granted that perfect peace that passes all comprehension. Friends were afraid to call because they didn’t know what to say and for some I had to convince them that there was real authentic, God sent peace. If I had not gone through the anguish that previous year, I would never have known that true peace. The second time I experienced this God-sent, authentic peace was when my mother had heart surgery in 1997. She had crashed three times after the surgery and every time they brought her back and got her heart beating again. We asked friends and family to come and to pray. As we began to pray, I let go and asked God to take her home and prevent her from suffering and that I would be fine with that just to not see her suffer so much. As we were gathered in the CCU waiting room praying, a rough, dirty, middle-aged man came in who was clearly distraught. We asked could we pray for or with him. He shared that he and his wife had been in a motorcycle accident and that she was in emergency surgery. We prayed with him and told him about Christ hearing our prayers and caring for us. The next morning my mom was at perfect peace herself and asked what had happened over the past couple of days. I shared with her about the prayer time in the waiting room and she said, “That is why God has let me go through this.” I was blown away at how sure she was. At that moment, I knew the perfect peace of God knowing that He had used my mom for His glory. In both of those incidents, if I had not gone through the anguish, I would not have known how great the peace and comfort of God could be. For both times I can consider it joy that He taught me about the depth of His love and care.
d.      Romans 5:3-5, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Again, Jesus is telling us to exult in our tribulations, not because of the tribulation, but because of what it will teach us about Him and how it will help us grow. But let’s back up to verses 1 & 2 and see what was said prior to this statement. Verses 1-2, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” We don’t exult because of the tribulation but because of the hope we have in the glory of God. 
e.      Romans 12:12, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” This verse is in the middle of a list showing how we should live in Christ. It is just one more verse that says we will have tribulation but that we can have hope in Christ when we persevere.  Let me encourage you to take out your Bible and read the entire list that is presented for us and see just what "persevering in tribulation" falls within in this passage.
f.        Some people believe, and are being taught (in my opinion) by false prophets of today, that if you are a Christian and are walking the right path with God that you will be blessed and not have trials and tribulation. When something goes wrong in your life, then they believe it was because of your lack of faith or because of some hidden sin in your life. WELL, if that were true, I would have serious problems with the following biblical account. Paul was chosen by God to serve Him as one of the very first missionaries. His past was horrible as he was a murderer of Christians, but Jesus came and touched Paul’s life and forgave him and changed him. The majority of the New Testament is written by Paul. If anyone should have had a blessed life after he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior it would have certainly been Paul. Let’s look at his own summary of his life and see what his life for Christ was like.   It is a lengthy passage but please don’t skip any part of it as it holds great information about trials and tribulations and what our response should be.  2 Corinthians 11:16 – 12:10, “Again, I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, bear with the foolish gladly. For you bear with anyone if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he exalts himself, if he hits you in the face. To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison. But in whatever respect anyone else is bold, (I speak in foolishness), I am just as bold myself. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus , He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and so escaped his hands.  Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows – was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man will I boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one may credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me- to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG.” I don’t believe that anyone in the United States has experienced anything remotely close to what Paul endured and yet he was grateful for the trials as it showed the power of God through his weakness. Let us grab hold of this passage and see our tribulations as opportunities to know the peace and comfort of God more dearly and to show others the power of Almighty God.
g.       Deuteronomy 8:1-10, “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.   Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.” The Lord allowed the Israelite children to wander around in the wilderness because of their sins and their lack of faith. Along the way, as they wandered in the wilderness, He tested them through trials and tribulations to see if they were going to remain faithful to Him when things were hard. This testing was building their devotion to God and their character that would be needed later in their lives. Because of His great love for them, when they had given themselves 100% to God, He led them into the Promised Land. He gave them a land that was full of everything they needed and an abundance of those things that would make them feel secure and satisfied. We have to see that God did not remove them from their time of trials and tribulations but more importantly, He never left them during their time of wandering. In the big picture, our entire lives are spent wandering through this wilderness controlled by Satan. We are strangers, aliens, in a sinful land; children of God living in the midst of moral decay and celebration of evil. The promised land in the big picture for us is heaven. We are promised to walk streets of gold, live in a beautiful mansion, and sit at the feet of our Savior worshipping with the angels. However, for the here and now and the small picture of our individual lives, God takes us through valleys of trials and tribulations and then brings us up to the promised lands of blessings and allows us to sit on the mountaintop for a while to rest.   But let me tell you something, sisters in Christ, I have learned far more about my precious Savior in the valleys than I ever have on the mountaintop. For this, I am so very thankful for all that He has led me through to teach me about Him and draw me closer to Him.
h.    Let's look at some selections from  I Peter
                                                               i.      1:1-2 , “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood; May grace and peace by yours in fullest measure.”   Let’s make sure we understand who we are and whose we are so that we can fully understand our place here on earth. We are chosen by a Holy God to walk in the fullness of Him. Sanctified through the blood of Christ so that we may have the fullest measure of the grace and peace that life in Him offers.
                                                             ii.      1:3-9, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in  heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” Let’s be sure to get a hold on the glory of God and the joy for us here. We should always be able to praise God and give Him glory because of His grace and mercy for us that will one day result in heaven for us. Here on earth we will go through trials and be tested by fire but the results of our testings will be glory for God and a proving of our faith the results in salvation by Him.
                                                            iii.      3:13-16, “And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 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, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” Peter gives us here another view of the trials and tribulations that we suffer. We are to take every opportunity and give an account of our faith in God. When we go through trials and people watch us as we dig in to our faith and trust in God, then they ask why or how do you walk through the trials. Then we have opportunity to share God and His perfect grace and His peace that comes through our faith. If our focus in on Christ as it always should be, then we must always be prepared to give an account to others when they ask about our faith and trust. Trials give us ample opportunity to share our faith with others.
                                                           iv.      4:1-6, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you; but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.” Christ himself suffered as a man here on this earth, therefore we must be prepared to suffer as well. This passage of Scripture deals with being made fun of or being put down by friends. People will talk about you when you give your life completely over to God. Peter reminds us that they will face the Father also and will have to give an account of why they put down His chosen ones. We can take heart in the fact that they will face God to give an account for their actions. However, we should also see them as Christ sees them. We must know that they do not have the faith that we have and that they may not be saved and they certainly are not walking in the Spirit. Therefore, as He tells us in Matthew 5:44, we are to pray for those who persecute us so that they, also, may come to know salvation through Jesus Christ.
                                                             v.      4:12-19, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”    Plain and simply we are to trust our Creator to know what is best for us. We must trust Him through every circumstance that He will take care of us. We must trust Him that He will use us to bring glory to Himself and to bring others into His kingdom. We must trust Him that in the end, we will sit at His feet and worship and walk the golden streets of heaven where there is no more pain and no more suffering. 
i.         It is hard to focus on tribulations when we are looking for peace but we need to understand that the tribulations will not leave us but that we will have peace in the midst of these trials. John 16:33 helps us to have the right focus as we learn about having peace in the midst of trials: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, BUT take courage; I have overcome the world.” Jesus assures us that in the world we WILL have tribulation but take courage because He has overcome the world and we will have peace in Him in the midst of our trails.