Worship Service – April 19, 2020

This Sunday’s Scripture is 1 Peter 1:3 9

Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God‘s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief and all kinds of trials. these have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, which parishes even though refined by fire, maybe proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

“Living Hope in Trials”

Our message this week is about the ways to benefit from trials.

I’m very hopeful in God during this crisis, but I’m also very aware of what lies ahead. Within days, our entire way of life in America changed drastically. The pandemic has given most of us a new perspective about what is really important to us. I believe God is giving us a chance to stop, take a breath, and focus on prayer, our faith, and the hope we have been given. That “Living Hope “which we just celebrated a few days ago this past Easter. Trials and discouragement are Satan‘s tools to keep people in bondage, but it’s also Gods magnet to draw them to himself.

I’m reminded of a cartoon I saw, several years ago. The Saturday Evening Post ran a cartoon showing a man about to be rescued after he had spent a long-time ship-wrecked on a tiny deserted island. The sailor in charge of the rescue team stepped onto the beach and handed the man a stack of newspapers. “Compliments of the Captain,” the sailor said. “He would like you to glance at the headlines to see if you’d still like to be rescued!” Sometimes the headlines do scare us. Sometimes we feel that evil is winning. Then Easter comes to remind us that there is no grave deep enough, no stone heavy enough, no evil strong enough to keep Christ in the grave. We must choose that “living hope”, that Peter speaks of, in order to benefit from trials.

The key to being used by God and be able to face today’s trials is to follow the advice of Peter and James, Jesus half-brother and one of the leaders of the early church.
Here are three takeaways from the opening few verses in James. Where we read in James 1:1-4. “James, A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations. Greetings. 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.”

1. Allow the trial to break you. James, in his letter to believers, said he was “ A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”. In other words, he was born to do God’s will. The first step in benefiting during these difficult times is to crucify the flesh; selfishness must die.

This reminds me of the story about three accountants who doubted their three engineer friends. They were traveling by train to a conference. The accountants bought three tickets, but the engineers only bought one. “How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?” an accountant asked. “Watch and you’ll see,” said an engineer.

They all boarded the train. The accountants took their seats, but the three engineers crammed into a restroom and closed the door behind them. The train departed the station and soon the conductor came through the car asking for tickets. He knocked on the restroom door and said, “Ticket, please.” The door opened a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor took it and moved on.

The accountants agree that this is a rather clever idea so after the conference, they decide to duplicate the engineers’ feat. They buy only one ticket but are astonished when the engineers buy no ticket at all! “How are you going to travel without a ticket?” the accountants ask. Watch and you’ll see, reply the engineers. When they boarded the train, the accountants crammed into a restroom with their ticket while the three engineers did the same in a nearby restroom. After the train departed the station, one of the engineers left the restroom and walked over to the restroom where the accountants were hiding. He knocked on the door and said, “Ticket, please.”

A funny story but because of the accountant selfishness, they faced the trial of humility. Allow this kind of trial to break you, push out the pride, the selfishness, and replace it with humility. God often allows a man to be hurt deeply, before he uses him greatly. As believers we are servants of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Make an attitude adjustment. James added, “ Count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”. This is much easier said than done. As I am writing this, we’re going into another week of the stay at home policy, and I wish I could say that I have handled this perfectly. I continually have to make attitude adjustments in my heart to be thankful and full of joy and the blessings I do have. To “ count it all joy “means that we must take our thoughts captive. Trials produce either bitterness or love, anger or joy, fear or contentment. The choice really is ours. My prayer has been,” Lord, I don’t like this or understand it, but I’m fully trusting in you. “This simple prayer gets me back on track, and joy once again fills my heart. Saturate your mind in God’s Word rather than the media, for what you put in your mind greatly affects your attitude.

3. Stay under the load. James then adds,” let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”. Perfect here means full, satisfied, and complete. Patient is “active endurance”; It means staying under heavy load until it accomplishes its purpose. We must let the burden remain until it accomplishes its goal. We are not to run in fear but to carry the load.

God has said , “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”(2 Chronicles 20:17). In the same way that squad in the gym strengthens leg muscles, the pressure of trials strengthens our faith. Weak Christians complain, blame shift, and run from the weight. As a result, they never grow spiritually, whereas mature believers have learned to carry the weight of trials as God builds and strengthens.

In closing, we don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID-19, but let God build you up rather than allowing the “ negative Nellie’s pull you down. Don’t let them cloud your judgment with doomsday prophecy’s or worst-case scenarios.

How do we know that God is not breaking us down to build us up? Nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to let conspiracy theories or doom and gloom flood us with fear. Remember, as Peter reminds us, we have a “living hope”, and can benefit from our trials if we persevere. So, as we go in the week to come. We have a “ living hope “In God the Father , God the Son, and the Holy Spirit who will help us in all we do, and He will be with you forever and ever.

In His Service,

Pastor Joe

Listen to Audio Sermon 20200419

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