Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

02/12/2017 A.M.

 

Facing & Embracing Difficult Moments

Psalm 48.1-11 & John 14.1- 6

 

Clinical Psychologist... Dr. Christina Hibbert... knows a lot about tough times.

• Her youngest sister died from cancer at age eight.

• In 2007 another sister and her sister’s husband died within two months of each other.

• At their death Dr. Hibbert was just a few weeks from giving birth to her fourth child.

• Then... almost overnight... she inherited her two nephews... Became the mother of six.


Here it is church...

Difficult moments occur...

Life will tumble in...

Tough times will come...

Scripture tells us it has always been this way...

 

• Adam and Eve lost their first two sons... One to death... One to exile for murder...

 

• In one day... Job lost everything... His children... His livestock... Servants...Within a few days... He lost his health and is suffering in painful sores.

 

• Tough times came to Hagar and Ishmael...

 

• Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers...

 

• He was falsely accused of sexual harassment... Attempted rape... By his boss’s wife...

 

• David was chased and would have been killed... By the very King he faithfully served...

 

• The world of the Apostles tumbled in... As they watched the One they had followed for three-and-a-half years... The One who they thought would become King... Die on a cross as a common criminal.

 

• Paul said... His heart’s desire and prayer to God was that Israel would be saved... Yet the people he loved the most had him arrested and some were saying... We neither eat nor drink until he’s dead. This difficult moment changed Paul’s life.

 

I’m speaking to some this morning who are... living in their own tough times... In their own difficult moments... Today... Right now!!

• Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one... And you’re wondering... Can I go on without them?

• Maybe you’ve lost a job... How’s my family going to survive?... Will we lose the house... the car?...

• Some have lost their health...

• Some in the audience have been told by their doctor this week... We can’t fix your health issue... You’re  gonna have to live with it...

• Others are dealing with tough times in their marriage... Or some other relational issue.

 

My counseling sessions this week dealt with such things as... Doubt... Loneliness... Fear...Anxiousness... A problem of unforgiveness... The problem of not enough money...How to face death head-on in hospice.

 

Life’s difficult moments are real...

We know that if we are not living in a tough time right now...

It won’t be long until we will be there...

So... What do we do?... Does the Bible offer any help?

 

Guideline number one... Maintain our faith in God.

That night in the upper room… Jesus knew something that the Apostles did not know…He knew that their world was about to tumble in... That they were about to face some difficult moments... They would witness His death on the cross.

 

They had invested the past three years in His being the Messiah.

• They expected Him to set up an earthly kingdom...

• And they each expected special appointment… A Cabinet Position… Within that kingdom.

 

Indeed...They were about to face some difficult moments... As they witnessed their hope die a criminal's death on the cross. So... He says to them... Let not your heart be troubled... Believe in God... And believe in Me.

 

Church...Are we listening?... Jesus was saying... Since God is God...

• Turn your troubles...

• Your anxieties... Your worries and cares... To Him....

• Let God be God!...

Acknowledge and depend upon his power and presence.

 

Hosea 4.16… In our King James… gives the shortest history of the nation of Israel found anywhere... It says... Israel slides back as a backsliding heifer…

She always seemed to be heading... Backwards... Downhill... Away from God... How tragic!

 

Psalm78 gives us the reasons for this... As it lists five great sins of Israel...Two being...

• They limited the Holy One of Israel...

• They did not remember His power... His absolute omnipotence

 

Church...Are we like Israel... Have we forgotten that God is in control... He is our Father God… And he is sovereign?...Listen to these random verses from Isaiah 40...

"O See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand… Or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket… Or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord… Or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him… Who taught him the right way?... The nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales… He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

 

"To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal?... Says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens… Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you say and complain...My way is hidden from the Lord... My cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak... They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength... They shall mount up with wings like eagles... They will run and not be weary... They shall walk and not faint.”

 

These verses tell us two things....

 

One... God cannot be limited...

Two... They tell us that He is interested in each of us... and our difficult moments.

 

Let me give you some other verses of encouragement...

Psalm 46.1... God is our refuge and strength... A very present help in trouble.

 

Jeremiah 16.19...O Lord... My strength and my stronghold... My refuge in the day of trouble.

 

Philippians 4.13...I can do all things through Him who strengthens me...

 

1 Peter 5.10... After you have suffered a little while...The God of all grace... Who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ... will...restore... confirm... strengthen... and establish... You.

 

John 14.27... Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

Jesus is saying... Sometimes... God will not remove the thorn or storm... But will give us strength... Grace... And peace… To live with the thorn… Through the storm... Amen?

 

Paul put it this way in Colossians 1.11... May you be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.

 

You see church... God never has been... And He never will be... At the mercy of our circumstances!... Instead…Instead…

•  He rules them...

 He orders them...

 He uses them...

Like gold in a refiner’s fire... God works all things out... To our good... To our benefit.

 

We must remember what we sing... He is the potter... I am the clay... Have Thine Own Way Lord... Have Thine Own Way... Mold me and make me after Thy will...

 

Guideline number two... Accept the moment and grow.

We spend way too much time trying to avoid difficult moments... Too many of us run from difficulties rather than face them and learn from them.

• We have allowed the world to force us into its mold...

• We have been conditioned to fight to keep trouble out of our life...

When the truth is... We grow in character much more in difficult times than when things are going well...

 

I want you to know that Satan is into this kind of thinking.

 

Look at Old Testament Jacob... He ran from his problems with his brother Esau... And his running only brought more difficult moments into his life.

 

Jonah decided to run from what he perceived as a difficult task... Only to be caught up in a storm of more gigantic proportions.

 

Peter...James... and the Hebrews writer tell us that God takes the tough times and uses them to... Refine us... Remake... Remold us into vessels of pure gold... That He disciplines us as sons in the difficult moments… Listen to these verses…

 

1 Peter 1.6-7& 9...Rejoice... For a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These come for a reason... So that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed... For you are receiving the goal of your faith... The salvation of your souls.

 

James admonishes... Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

The Hebrews’ Writer says... Don’t forget the word of encouragement that God addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

 

You see church. We can take... Our difficulties... Our tragedies... Our failures...And view them as problems... OR... We can use them...

• As opportunities for character growth...

• As opportunities to strengthen our faith...

• As stepping stones in our quest to become more Christ-like.

 

Jesus affirmed this... Accept and Grow principle when He submitted to death on the cross... Turning it into the best possible thing for all of us... Our Salvation!

 

The Hebrews writer tells us that even He learned obedience by the things He suffered.

 

Question!!...Are we learning anything from facing our Difficult Moments?

You see… We learn the same way Jesus did… Accept & Grow... In the tough times!!

 

Why is it we understand and appreciate this principle out on the golf course... But can't seem to grasp it in life?... What golfer would insist that all the difficulties on the course be removed...

• Level the hills...

• Eliminate the sand traps...

• Fill all the water holes...

• Remove the trees...

• Straighten out the doglegs...

• Do away with the out-of-bounds markers...

• Make the holes as big as bushel baskets... Who would want to play on such a course?

 

Difficulties are not there to hinder.... They’re there to help improve our game.

 

• What if Abraham had chosen to stay at home in the Ur of the Chaldees?

• What if Joseph had chosen the easy and pleasurable way out and said yes to Potiphar's wife?

• What if Moses had chosen NOT to suffer affliction...But to enjoy sin?

• What if David had run from Goliath?

• What if Daniel had chosen to stop praying and bowed to the king?

• What If Mary had said... No, I will not go through the shame of a Holy Spirit pregnancy?

• What if Jesus had chosen the easy way and avoided the Cross?... Called 10,000 angels?

• What if Paul had chosen to not suffer the persecution of carrying the gospel to Gentiles?

Their difficulties made them better men and women... Greater men and women… And their facing difficult moments blesses each of us here this morning... RIGHT?

 

Guideline Number Three... Learn to Wait... Be Patient.

We’ll face our difficult moments much better if we will just... Learn to wait on God.

The country group Alabama once sang...

"I'm always in a hurry to get things done;

I rush and rush until life's no fun.

All I really gotta do is live and die,

But I'm in a hurry and I don't know why."

Does this sound like us?

 

Listen to this advice from Scripture...

Psalm 46.10...  Be still and know that I am God.

 

Palm 27.14... Wait for the Lord... Be strong... Take heart.

 

Proverbs 20.22...Wait for the Lord... And He will deliver you.

 

Isaiah 40.31... They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

2 Peter 3.9... The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Here it is church... God is working on our difficulties... Right now... This morning... And in His timing... Which is always perfect... His answer will come.

 

Philippians 1.6 makes this promise... Being confident of this... That he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..

 

Listen to this poem...

"I know that I am impatient, Lord,

I want to run ahead;

Speak to my heart and make me

Willing to be led.

 

Your clock is always right, Lord

It never does run late;

Your schedule can't be hurried

So teach me, Lord, to wait.

 

Your time is never my time.

Oh, make this plain to me

And give me patience so to wait

And Thy fulfillment see.

 

I see through a glass darkly

And in this earthly state

I only know impatience,

So teach me, Lord, to wait.

 

I pray for Thy anointing,

I need Thy holy touch;

Oh, send me a full measure.

I need it, oh, so much.

 

Please keep me calm and trusting

In this world of strife and hate;

And 'mid the hurrying, worrying throng

Oh, teach me, Lord, to wait."

 

Our difficult moments will be easier if we’ll keep our eyes on the goal.

Jesus gives us this principle in John 14... In My Father’s House are many rooms... I go to prepare a place for you... And I will come again... So that where I am there you may be also.

 

Church...Regardless of what difficulties we face in this life... The Bible tells us that earthly trials are not to compare to the glories we will enjoy in heaven.

 

• Paul says... If we share in his suffering... In His difficult moments… We will share in His glory.

 

Eye has not seen... Ear has not heard...Neither has it entered the mind of man what great things God has in store for those who love Him.

 

Yes...

• Life will tumble in...

• Storms will come...

• We will experience difficult moments...

 

How will we react to them?

• Will we strengthen our faith in God?

• Will we use the principle... Embrace & Grow... Let God use our difficult moments to our benefit...our betterment?

• Will we patiently wait upon the Lord... Accepting His timing in all things?

• Never losing sight of our eternal goal... Our home in heaven?

 

I like what Psalm 37.4 & 5 says to us this morning...

Delight yourself in the Lord… And he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord... Trust in Him and He will dothis for you.

 

Folk...The promises we’ve talked about this morning are made to Children of God...Those who are willing to change their lives... Accept Jesus... Confess His name in Genuine Faith... And be born again in New Testament baptism.

 

Perhaps as His child we ...

• Have allowed our faith to sink into despair....

• Maybe we've stop growing...

• Maybe we've become impatient with God...

• Maybe we've allowed the difficult moments to obscure our view of heaven.

 

Why not turn your Difficult Moments over to God... As we stand and sing together.