The End of Suffering
Posted on 05/09/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
Please pray for my boyfriend and I as we start our relationship. We are both unsure of what it is to make God the center of our relationship, so we need God's help. We are both Christ followers commited to making things work! His name is Stephen, and my name is Kelly. Thansk again!
I'm so scared I'm going to lose my boyfriend. We've been together a year but known each other for 15. His family and his children do not want us together. Please pray for God to show us the way to put everyone at peace and please grant me the strength thru the upcoming trials. God gave us this love I pray he doesn't let it be torn apart. I wish I knew what to do. I am lost. Thank you.
please pray for owen and dee to get back together as a family and have a good life together. and to be in love always. And that court will turn out great
FAther, we beg You to hear and answer our prayer: For all struggling or dissolved marriages to be healed, restored and resurrected, especially the marriages of Tim and Annette, Scott and Yolanda and John and Marie. For the children of struggling marriages to be comforted and healed. In the Name and by the Blood of Jesus, we pray. Amen! Thanks be to God!
Please pray for my husband to be healed of his past and for his conversion. Pray for a wonderful divine experience which will open his eyes to our Lord Jesus Christ. I ask in the Name and by the Precious Blood of Jesus, Amen. Thanks be to God for healing my marriage.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
Jehovah Jireh, my provider
His grace is sufficient for me
My God shall supply all my needs
according to His riches in glory
He gives his angels charge over me
Jehovah Jireh cares for me,
Jehovah Jireh cares for me
SING A NEW SONG
Sing unto Lord a new song
sing unto the Lord all the earth
For God is great,
and greatly to be praised!
HOLY AND ANOINTED ONE
Holy and Anointed One
Risen and Exalted One
Your name is like honey
on my lips
Your Spirit like water
to my soul
Your Word is a lamp
unto my feet
Jesus I love you
I love you
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Today, I'd like for us to take a look at something we don't like to think about -- pain and suffering. And beyond that, or more specifically, let's take a look at where that leads, at least for the Christian. And today's message is titled, "The End of Suffering."
Now if you're like most people, and most people are, then you would probably prefer for our "End of Suffering" to be today, or maybe yesterday. I know I would. But in John 16:33, Jesus says, "In the world you will have tribulation."
Can we say and think only positive things about and into our lives, and do away with our suffering and pain? I wish! But maybe I shouldn't wish that.
In James chapter one, verses two through four, we read this:
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith produces endurance.
4 But let endurance have her perfect work, that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Count it all joy. Count it all joy. Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.
Why? Well, the end result is that we will be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Mature and complete. Lacking nothing. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it. Wouldn't you like to be mature and complete? Wouldn't you like to lack nothing? I know I sure would.
But to be mature and complete, to lack nothing, we must have endurance. And to have endurance, our faith must be tested. And for our faith to be tested, we must go through trials.
That word "complete" also means faultless, or "without sin." Do you know someone who says they are a Christian but is living in sin? You probably do. Maybe you ARE that person.
There's no question that all of us have gone through trials. But there's also no question that some of us are VERY immature and VERY far from living holy, faultless lives.
Let's read a little farther, and see if we can find the missing piece. Starting with verse twelve:
12 Blessed is the one who endures temptation, for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does He tempt any one.
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
So it looks like this is talking about a specific type of trial. Yes, it's true about all hardship that it can produce endurance and lead to maturity, because every type of trial tests our faith; but this is talking, at least in these last verses, specifically about temptation.
And every time we give in to temptation, we fail the testing of our faith, and we do not build endurance; we cannot become spiritually mature and complete, living holy lives and lacking nothing.
And this is the first kind of suffering I'd like for us to consider today: The Suffering of Temptation.
This passage makes it clear that temptation never comes from God, for "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does He tempt any one." It's our own human lusts that entice us. We entertain those lustful desires, and they bring forth sin. And the end of sin is death, or separation from God.
It's not enough to call Jesus Lord. He said that his friends obey his commands. And this is an intimate part of our walk with God -- falling into the trials of temptation, as our spirit wages war with our flesh, and our flesh wars with the spirit. And every time the spirit wins, we pass another test, and we grow in maturity, and we become just a little closer to being complete, lacking nothing.
I think sometimes we become afraid to even try. At least I know that's happened to me. We're afraid we'll only fail. But even just one victory is one step closer to becoming who God has created us to be. Just one. Just overcoming the flesh once.
Might you fall to your flesh the next time? Maybe. But with this ONE victory, you are building endurance. You are becoming just a little bit stronger. You might fail five times to your one victory, but keep on fighting -- your next victory is on its way! And with it, you will strengthen your spirit man just a little bit more, and you will have that extra strength the next time that temptation comes your way.
Maybe you struggle with telling the truth. Commit your tongue to God and to pleasing and worshiping Him with everything you say. And next time it's hard to tell the truth about something, take charge and force yourself to tell the truth.
When you tell the truth even though it's very hard to do so, thank God for giving you the strength, and count it all joy! You've just become a little stronger.
And if you slip up, don't beat yourself up over it. Just ask God to forgive you and to change your heart so you do better the next time.
If you continue to purpose in your heart to please God by telling the truth, then you will find more and more of your words to be an act of worship, and you will start being honest more and more of the time.
Maybe you struggle with lust. And maybe you've tried everything you could think of, but you keep on falling time after time after time.
Well, make the decision and the determination right now that the next time you're tempted, you will not fall. Ask God to give you the power to stand next time. Don't worry about the time after that, or all the times you'll be tempted in the rest of your life. Just the next time.
No war is won by fighting every single battle all at once. A war is won by fighting one battle at a time. You win some, you lose some. But every time you win, you are one step closer to ultimate victory, and you become just a little bit stronger.
Dedicate your physical eyes and your mind's eye to the glory of God, to please him, and as instruments of worship. And start building up your spiritual muscles, fighting temptation whenever it comes, and determining that "the next time," you will not fall.
Maybe you don't struggle with either of these temptations, but you know where your struggles lie -- you can fill in the blanks. Your temptations don't come from God, they come from your carnal, fallen human nature. But God will use your temptations, if you will seek to please Him in those areas, to build endurance in you; and that endurance will produce spiritual maturity in you as you live a life that is more and more free from sin, and you will mature and complete, lacking nothing.
How about other types of trials? Where do they fit in to this? Do they produce endurance and maturity? Do they shape us and make us complete, lacking nothing?
In Romans 8:28, we read this:
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
All things work together for good to those who love God. All things. ALL things. All things that happen in your life are working for your good.
And consider this: when we lose our job, that's a trial. But is it only a trial of hardship, or is it also a trial of our faith? Isn't there the temptation to fear? To not completely trust God? To get our eyes off Jesus and onto the wind and the waves?
Maybe someone we love is killed or dies of cancer or some other disease. Is that only a trial of our emotions? Or is that also a trial of our faith? Aren't we often tempted to blame God? "If God had only protected them," or "If God had only healed them."
You can fill in the blanks with whatever trials you've gone through or are going through right now. More likely than not, you are facing temptations related to those trials. You can trust God and believe His Word, knowing that He is good and when we think He is not, we are only misunderstanding goodness. Or you can doubt Him, question His goodness and the truth of His Word.
And when we are going through something like this, that's when we are the weakest. That's when we can often be the most likely to fall to temptation. That's when the test is the hardest, the most severe.
In 2nd Corinthians 12:9, God says this: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
His strength is made perfect in weakness. In your weakest hour, when all your strength is gone, that is simply an opportunity for God to show himself strong, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
In 1 John 3:2-3 (NKJV), we read this:
2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
We're going to be changed, as the Bible says, in the twinkling of an eye. When we see Jesus, we will be like him -- we will be completely transformed. Does that mean we don't need to grow, we don't need to overcome temptation now, because we're all going to be like Jesus some day anyway?
Well, verse three says that everyone who has this hope in Jesus purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure. Not they "should" purify themselves, but the "DO" purify themselves.
Do you have that hope in you of seeing Jesus and being transformed into his image? Well, you can answer that question by examining your life. Are you seeking to become more pure? To please God more? To sin less? If so, that's evidence you really do have the hope of Salvation. In not, then according to this passage, you don't have that hope. And you need to get it before you leave here today.
You see, when we are walking in the love of Christ, nothing can separate us. And I don't meant the "lovey feelings," those desires for world peace, and to take away people's pain and suffering. Many people in the world have that kind of love. Rather, I'm talking about God's love, that love that sent Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins; that love in whose presence sin cannot stand.
If you've read Romans 8:35-39 in The Message, you probably think that, as it says, "even the worst sins listed in Scripture" can't separate us from the love of God. But that's not what the Bible says, and unrepented sin most certainly can and will separate us from God.
Let's read this from the Bible, not an imposter.
Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 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.
Do you have that hope in you today? That hope that you are secure in the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus your Lord? Is there evidence of that hope, that evidence being that you are seeking to purify yourself even as He is pure?
If not, I'd like to extend an invitation to you today.
Anyone here on the ministry team, please come stand at the front as together we ask the Holy Spirit what he wants us to do here today.
As Scripture says, "The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come,' and let him who thirsts come and drink of the water of life freely."
Are you thirsty? Are you looking for something more? Everything your soul desires can be found in Jesus, and you can not be fully satisfied looking anywhere besides Him.
If you want that hope of Salvation, then I invite you to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front. Cry out to Jesus! Only He can give you that hope. Only He can cause you to hunger and thirst after righteousness. And only He can give you the power through His Holy Spirit to start overcoming temptation more and more, as you build endurance, growing stronger and stronger, moving toward maturity and holiness, until you lack nothing.
Just talk to Him right now. You can say something as simple as, "Jesus, forgive me for my sins. I turn my back on sin and on my lifestyle of pleasing myself. I choose now to follow you. Bring new life to my dead spirit. And keep me on Your path all the days of my life."
If God is speaking to you today about anything at all, or if you just want to spend some time in His presence in prayer and worship and waiting upon Him, then you're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front for a time of ministry and prayer.
If you'd like someone to speak or pray with you, instant message me or someone else on the ministry team.
Whenever you need to go, you're officially dismissed, and I pray you have a week that finds you drawing closer and closer to God.
After this time at the altar, we'll meet in the room to your left for a time of fellowship, and I hope to see you there.
Lord, I ask that the seeds of your Word that were planted in us today would not be stolen away, but that they would find good ground and go down deep, and that we would be changed by your Word, as it accomplishes the purpose for which it has been sent.
And we ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Come, let's gather at the altar, as we fix our eyes on The End of Our Suffering, which is to be like Jesus, as we look with great anticipation to the day we will see Him face to face!