Friday, February 10, 2017

Jesus Christ is the only One who gives true rest


Many of us, at some point, in the course of this life, have experienced physical labor…hard work that took energy, time, strength and strenuous exertion to complete. My most recent experience of physical labor came from trimming the trees on our property, hauling the limbs to the back of our property, stacking them in a pile,  then raking the leaves which covered 80% of the back yard filling large trash cans with the leaves and hauling those back to the brush pile and dumping them. I worked at that for a good 8 hours straight…stopping only to eat lunch. By the end of that day, I was physically exhausted. That night, after a good meal and a hot shower, it felt incredible to lay down on my bed and rest.
 
We all know the feeling of our bodies getting rest after having been physically active. It’s one of the greatest feelings imaginable. At the end of most days, I look forward to physical rest.

                We know how good physical rest feels, but what about the soul? Does the soul of a person get weary and tired? It can, and it often does.

               Is your soul distressed? Is it laboring under a heavy load?

Matthew 11:28-30
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Consider Jesus Christ as the Giver of true rest.

Based on the context of the verses preceding our text, Jesus is not referring to physical labor…He is referring to the spiritual strain you feel as a result of the weight of your sin. He had been preaching in many of the towns throughout Judea as well as performing many mighty works in them, yet the people of those towns did not repent of their sin and turn to Christ in faith. They were still under the heavy weight of their sin…and Jesus said, “Come” “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden.”   

Are you laboring under the heavy burden of your sin? Go to Jesus Christ…He said in John 6:37,Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Not only will He not cast you out if you go to Him, but He will give you rest. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

                He will give your soul rest…rest from carrying the burden of your sin. Repent of your sin...turn away from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ. Seek His forgiveness…

 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
                 unrighteousness.

                Place your trust in Him and only in His ability to satisfy the justice of God, which He did on Calvary. You will be saved…and the heavy burden of your sin will be lifted and you will find rest for your soul. The weight of sin is a heavy load on the soul. The person carrying that weight will be exhausted in many ways, but especially exhausted spiritually. When a person goes to Christ in repentance and faith, that heavy load is removed and the person is given rest…

Rest in this sense means to cause a person to cease from any strain or labour causing him to grow weary, tired, or exhausted so he may recover and collect his strength.

In Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, the author (who many believe to be the Apostle Paul) is writing to Jews, encouraging them to come to Christ in faith to find rest for their soul.

Hebrews 3:12-19
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:1-11
1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

             Strive hard so that you may enter into that rest. Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts…turn to the Lord. He will have mercy and will abundantly pardon. For He shed His blood for your soul. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners.

            The case has been laid out for the lost sinner to come to Jesus to find rest for his soul. But what about the one who has already been saved by the grace of God?

Dear Christian, are you laboring under the strain of some trial? Has the sin which doth so easily beset you, gotten you down in spirit? Go to Jesus Christ…learn of Him and you will find rest to your soul. Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).

I know some of you have been through some extremely difficult trials, and some of you right now are like the three Hebrew lads walking through the fiery furnace of a trial…Look around you and see the Lord Jesus Christ is with you.
 
Daniel 3:24-25
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Dear Believer, Jesus Christ is with you; the Spirit of the Living God is in you.

             Sometimes, as we struggle through some trial or persecution, we may look around at others who live ungodly lives, who deceive, lie and manipulate people and they seem to prosper. It appears as though nothing hard, bad ever happens to them. Don’t be angry because they seem to prosper…rather than focus your attention on them, rest in the Lord.

Psalm 37:7-10
7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Do not become angry when people who bring evil plans to pass seem to prosper. Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Wait patiently on the Lord, you will inherit the earth.

Psalm 73:1-28
Vs. 3 I was envious of the lost when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…

Vs. 4-12 They are prideful and violent. They have more than their hearts could wish for. They are corrupt, oppressive and speak with arrogance. The words of their mouths are against God. They mock God and believers wondering if there is any value in knowing God. They prosper in this world and increase in riches.

Vs. 13-14 I confess my sins and live a pure life before God and feel that it is in vain because all day long I suffer under the weight of trials and I am chastened every morning.

Vs. 15-16  If I speak like the wicked do, I would offend this generation of believers. When I tried to understand all this, it was too painful for me.

Vs. 17 When I went into the sanctuary of God…the quiet time of meditation on the Lord, He gave me understanding concerning the wicked…I understood their end.

Vs. 18-20 Their end…total destruction!

Vs. 21-22 I was grieved because I was so foolish in my thinking.

Vs. 23-24 I am continually with Thee. You uphold me. You guide me with your counsel and at some point, you will receive me to glory…the only place of true rest!

Vs. 25 “Whom have I in heaven but you?” “There is none on earth that I desire beside you.”

Vs. 26 My sinful flesh fails, but You are my strength and my portion (inheritance) forever.

Vs. 27 Those who are far from you will perish…

Vs. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.

It is good for you to draw near to God (James 4:8) He will draw near to you…take His yoke upon you, learn of Him… you will find rest to your soul.

His yoke refers to His commands…they are pleasant, light and easy compared to the yoke of the commands of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. Even though light, they must be submitted to.

Learn of Jesus Christ… That word “Learn” means to learn by use and practice…that is why we have been studying about Jesus Christ for the last 3 months. We need to learn of Him things we didn’t know and remind ourselves of things we learned about him in times past. We should put into practice in our daily lives the things we learn about Christ. If He is the Wonderful Counsellor as Isaiah tells us, then we should go to Him for our counsel. If He is only way to God, then we should go on that way. If He really is the truth, then we should seek the truth in no other. If He is the Life, we should live in Him. If He is our Deliverer, then we should look to no one else to get us through our trials and tribulations.

Jesus Christ is “meek and lowly in heart” in His own words. He is gentle and mild. He is also humble in soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of His thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavours.

Take the time to learn of Him. We spend so much time learning of so many things…things that are of little or no eternal value. Learn of Jesus Christ…If you do, you will find rest to your soul.

With your focus firmly set on Christ, you will cease from those things that are causing you to grow weary and exhausted spiritually and you will recover and recollect your strength.

You will begin to see that, though your trial is painful and difficult, it is actually light when compared with the glory you will receive in heaven. You will realize that your trial, though seemingly endless, is but for a moment when compared to eternity. This trial you are going through is ordained by God for the purpose of working in your life, making you more like Christ…when you reach your real rest… heaven in the presence of Christ, the glory you receive will far exceed and outshine the pain you went through on this earth.

Do not look on the things which you can see…the pain, the suffering, the hardship of your trial. Look at the things which are not seen…the glory you will receive as you stand before Christ in His image, sinless. The things you see are temporary, but the things you cannot see on this side of heaven are eternal…they will last forever.

How do I know? 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 tells me so.

Learn of Jesus Christ and rest in Him…wait patiently for Him. He is coming! Even if not in your lifetime, and you are received unto Him in glory through death’s door… your first minute in heaven, looking upon the face of Jesus Christ will far outshine a lifetime of pain and tribulation on this earth.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fought, Finished, Kept

        Three hundred and sixty-five days...that's the number of days my mother has been in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago when she passed from this life into eternity. In other ways it seems like it was only yesterday when I had the privilege of being right there by her side holding one of her hands, while my dad held the other as she breathed her last breath.
       I will forever be grateful to the Lord who answered my request, allowing me to be there holding her hand as she passed through death's door into everlasting life. 
       I know we all react differently to the death of a loved one. I also know that no two people deal with grief the same way. Every one of God's elect has a different salvation experience, yet we are all saved the same way...by His grace alone. Similarly, we all deal with grief differently, yet we all experience comfort from whom Paul called, "the God of all comfort," in 2 Corinthians 1:3. Truly, He comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
       I have been a pastor for only two years, yet early on in my ministry I was asked to preach two funerals. I have been around death. I have lost all my grandparents. I lost my mother-in-law. I have lost church members. I have seen many people in various stages of grief. Knowing that losing loved one is part of this life and in an attempt to help those who have experienced it firsthand, I wrote a post  a couple of years ago entitled, "A Biblical Approach To Dealing With Grief." I researched all the stages of grief so when the time came, I would know what was experiencing. As best as I could, I prepared myself for my mother's death. 
       I truly believe the Lord has shown me something about grief that no one ever mentioned in all their research and study. Grief is a self-focused look at the loss of a loved one, or some other tragic event. The sadness and despair of grief comes from focusing on how the particular event you are going through will affect you. 
       In the case of my mother's death, I could have spent a lot of time thinking about how much I would miss her, and how life would never again be the same...how every September 17th, I would no longer be able to send her a birthday card, or how every September 28th I would not be able to wish her and my dad a "Happy Anniversary." I could spend time being sad that she would never know our youngest son who was born 5 months after she died. All these thoughts focused on me and how I would be affected. 
       Since July 9, 2010, the day my mother-in-law went to be with the Lord, Christ has focused my eyes more steadfastly on eternity. I don't see things the same as I once did. Instead of thinking about myself and how much I would miss my mother-in-law, the Lord caused me to think about her and what she was experiencing. This mindset stayed with me when my own mother went to be with the Lord. 
       I remember being there, three hundred and sixty-five days ago, as she drew in her last breath and exhaled for the final time. The tears I cried were more tears of joy than tears of grief. I knew that at that very second, she was in the presence of Jesus Christ who, according to Colossians 1:16, created everything. Not only were all things created by Him, but He stepped into His own creation took upon Himself human flesh. He became a man like we are and yet remained God. He went to the cross of Calvary where He suffered the greatest physical torture imaginable, shedding his own blood for the sins of His people. Even greater than that, He suffered the wrath of Almighty God for His people's sins. He was forsaken of God, so we would not have to be. The sins of His people were not pardoned, they were not over looked...they were dealt with on the cross of Calvary. They were paid for, and on January 21, 2016, my mother stood in the very presence of Jesus Christ. She saw Him face to face. Think about that!
       How could I ever be sad, knowing that the woman, whom God chose to use (along with my dad) to bring me into this world...who loved me with all her life and who (with my dad) taught me the word of God, showed me my sinful condition, and need of Christ, was standing in His very presence looking at Him face to face? The sadness stopped when my attention was drawn away from myself and was turned to her.
       What was it like when she saw Christ for the first time...the One who saved her soul? How did what she see compare with what John the Apostle saw on the Isle of Patmos when he was worshipping on the Lord's Day in Revelation 1:10-17? ...or what Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6:1-5? ...or what  Peter, James and John saw on the Mt. of Transfiguration when Christ was transfigured in all His glory in Matthew 17? 
       Paul was right...we see through a glass darkly, but one day we will see Christ face to face. Because God has chosen to reveal some things about heaven to us through His word, we have a very limited understanding of what it will be like...but one day all our limits will be taken away and we will see Him face to face. 
       My mother, the one who gave birth to me, who gave so much of her life to raise me, who to this very hour still loves me, is in the presence of Jesus Christ! How could I be sad about that?!! Sure I miss her, but my joy for her and what she is experiencing far exceeds any sadness I might have at not seeing her for the rest of such a short life as this. 
       She went through so much, battling cancer for 18 years. I can say this based on my observations of her throughout the 42 years I had the privilege of having her...she fought the good fight, she finished her course, and she most definitely kept the faith...and now the Author of her faith has finished it. Her soul, though absent from her body, is present with the Lord. 
       This life is so short. According to Scripture it is but a vapor. One day soon, I too, will be there...at the feet of Christ, looking up at Him, face to face. I have more confidence in that than I do in anything on this earth.
       One day, after having spent an eternity thanking Christ for His salvation and innumerable blessings in this life, I will be able to sit down with my mother-in-law and my mother and ask them what it was like when they first saw Christ. Unbelievable!!!!!
       I thank the Lord for the 42 years He allowed me to have with my mother. She will always be special to me in ways that only a mother can be. She was used of God to point me to Christ. She lived out her faith from the day the Lord saved her until the day she needed it no more, standing in His presence. 
       When I think of my mom, I don't think of her in the past tense. I think of her in the present tense. She is not forever gone. He soul is not on this earth right now, but she is more alive today than she ever has been. One day, according to Scripture, when Christ, who is the resurrection, steps out of glory and with a shout at the last trump, calls His people home, her grave will open and her body will be raised up and made new in sinless perfection. Her soul will be reunited with that body and she, as well as all believers, will be caught up to be forever with the Lord. 
       If I could say one thing to my Mom today, it would be... "Happy 1 Year Anniversary! Enjoy worshipping your Savior in sinless perfection!"




Saturday, December 31, 2016

Under The Wire

       It has been a year and a half since my last post and my first post of 2016. How funny, today is the last day of 2016. I thought I'd better post something before midnight.
     
       This year has been a year of changes for our family. On January 21st, the Lord called my mother home to glory after an 18 year trial with cancer. In His mercy, He granted one of my desires I had expressed through many prayers. I prayed that He would allow me to be there with my mom when she passed from this life into the next.

       I truly believed it would be many years from now, when my mom was much older. However,  His ways are perfect. When the Lord called her home at the young age of 67, I was able to be with her, holding her hand as she breathed her last breath on this earth, and stepped from this life into eternity in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. How do I know?

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
       Though she has been in glory for almost a full year and has experienced things I can only imagine, I am persuaded that she still thinks of us prays for those of us who have been left behind. 
       Before my mom went to glory, she knew that Sarah was pregnant with our 6th child. Five months later on June 1st, the Lord, who had taken my mother home, gave us another son...Andrew Paul. In all my wildest imagination, I never dreamed my wife and I would have 6 children. We have been blessed with 3 girls and 3 boys. 
       With the addition of Andrew, our small 1200 sqft home became smaller. Though it would work for now, I thought about the future when we would have 3 adult sized children in each bedroom and those rooms all of a sudden looked really small. We decided to sell our house. 
       Through no small trying of our faith, the Lord brought to pass the sell of our house and the purchase of another... an 1800 soft home on 1 acre at the end of a perfectly quiet cul-de-sac. We moved in this past September and from day one it seemed as though we have lived here forever. Our old home seems like just another house now...one that someone else owns. The house we are currently living in seems like home, because that is where my family lives. 
       Today I had the awesome privilege of seeing a friend I grew up with, but hadn't seen since we were 19 years old...that's 24 years ago. It was good to see Cris, meet his wife and one of his two daughters. It just doesn't seem that we are old enough to be able to say that anything was 24 years ago, yet here we are. 
       Now we come to the end of the year 2016. When I wake up it will be 2017. Oh, may the Lord be pleased to reveal a deeper understanding of Himself to us through the study of His word. For the past several Sundays I have been preaching on the names and titles of Jesus Christ found in the Scripture. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is the Cornerstone. He is the Rock of our Salvation. He is Wonderful. He is our Counsellor. He is the Prince of Peace. He is our Deliverer. 
       That is what I intend to preach on tomorrow... Jesus Christ, our Deliverer. Oh, that we could really grasp what it means that we who are saved have been delivered by Jesus Christ! May He be pleased to bring clarity of thought and speech as I preach tomorrow.
       What a brief summary of events in 2016! But, at least I got it in under the wire! Happy New Year!  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Finding Joy in Times of Trial


                Everyone, at some point in life, has experienced some sort of trial, tribulation, difficult circumstance, or affliction. No matter what you call it... a trial, as I will refer to it, can come in many ways. We can be tried in the areas of finances, health, material possessions, and many other ways. Often when trials come, we find ourselves fretting, worrying, overwhelmed…all out of sorts. Sometimes frustration and even anger results in us from our trials.

                 I am going through such a time as I write.  I  have noticed my reaction to it has not been the same as David’s. David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was a godly man who meditated in the Scriptures regularly. He often found himself in the midst of trials. In Psalm 119:71 he said…

Psalm 119:71  It is good for me that I have been afflicted;

            I don’t ever remember saying that it was good for me that I am going through a trial. Why not? How could David say as much? What did he know that I don’t?  What about the Apostle James, the half brother of Jesus Christ, who wrote in James 1:2… My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations? Then there is the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans who writes…“we glory in tribulations also”, and of course the Apostle Peter who encourages those going through fiery trials to rejoice. How did these men find joy in the midst of their tribulations? How could they encourage others do so? How can we have joy in our tribulations?

                I’m glad you asked! The answer is in the Word of God. God preserved for us His Holy Word for a purpose…

Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through
                       patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

                One purpose that God preserved His Word for us is that we may learn from it. What can we learn from the word of God?

                First we learn there is no escaping trials and tribulations…

 John 16:33 These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have
                   tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivers them out of them all.

            We who are the children of God, who have been saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, will have trials and tribulations. That is why Peter tells us not to think it’s strange when we find ourselves in a trial…

1 Peter 4:12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange
                    thing happened to you:

                We are going to have trials. Aren’t you glad that is not where the Word of God leaves off?! Yes we shall have tribulation, but we can be of good cheer because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has overcome the world. As if that wasn’t enough to cheer a Christian in the midst of a trial, David tells us that the Lord delivers them out of them all.
 
               Not only has Christ overcome the world, but He also delivers His children out of every trial they go through. I guess you could say that the Second thing we learn from the word of God is the One who overcame the world is the One who delivers us out of our trials. What does that do to your heart? Do you feel a little rejoicing coming on?

                The Lord has many purposes for the trials we go through. Sometimes it may be to chasten us for our disobedience.

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

                We can be joyful in this type of trial knowing that we are His and that He chastens us for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness. What does that do for your heart?!

                The purpose of every trial is not to chasten us. At other times we are tried because it just may be the only way we will truly learn the word of God.

Psalm 119:71  It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

                We can read the word of God all day long and even memorize it, but we may never truly understand God’s heart in it until we go through a trial and experience Him through it. We can read that the LORD delivers them out of them all, in reference to trials, but until we go through a trial and experience God delivering us from one, we will not fully understand that verse.

            Another purpose God has for our trial is to strengthen our faith. I need not take you there, but remember Abraham and how God told him to sacrifice Isaac the promised son. That was a test or a trial to show Abraham that his faith in the Lord was strong. God already knew what Abraham would do. Abraham didn’t know. Abraham may have been remembering all the times he didn’t trust God (told everyone his wife was his sister, tried to help God by having Ishmael.) and maybe he wondered how strong his faith was. Through this trial Abraham’s faith in the Lord was strengthened (Genesis 22:9-12 / Hebrews 11:17-19).

            God revealed something else to us about trials as the Holy Spirit inspired James, Peter and Paul to write letters to the persecuted Christians who had been scattered throughout the Roman Empire. James writes…

James 1:1-4
1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,
    greeting.
2  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire lacking nothing.

                God reveals that another purpose He has for the trials we go through is to produce patience. That word patience could also be thought of as endurance.

       The writer of Hebrews in Chapter 12:1 likens this life to a race. He tells us to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily beset us and let us run…how are we to run the race that is set before us? We are to run it with patience or endurance. How will our endurance be built up? It is built up through the trials we go through. James tells us in chapter 1 and verse 4 to let patience have her perfect work. Let endurance have its maturing work.
       I have noticed in preparing to run a 10K race, it takes endurance. Endurance is something that has to be built up and the only way to do that is to run. Trainers and coaches know what it takes to get a runner ready to run a race in a certain amount of time. Each workout is a trial. The trainer pushes his runner in every workout. Some workouts are more strenuous than others, but each one is designed with the intent of building endurance and making the runner faster.

       In a way I see our Lord as doing the same thing for us spiritually as He takes us through the trials we face. He is building our endurance for the future. Paul the Apostle agrees as seen in his letter to the church at Rome.

 Romans 5:3-5
3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost
    which is given unto us.

            Paul knew that trials produce endurance and the endurance produces experience and experience produces hope and hope maketh not ashamed.

                I used to run a lot and train for races. At the end of my training for a 10K I was running 10 mile runs on my high mileage days. All that training (trials) produced endurance. That endurance produced experience. I knew that I can run the distance necessary to complete the 10K race which is 6.2 miles. The experience produced hope. Daniel Webster says that "hope" is the desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this...hope implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
            I could wish all day long I could run a 10K and never get off the couch. I will never run it. I could desire to run a 10K in under 50 minutes and yet never properly train for it. I would always wonder will I be able to do it? There is the anxiety and doubt. But when I have been properly trained and have endurance and the experience of running the distance, I have the hope or the excited expectation of obtaining it. I believed that running a 10K in under 50 minutes was obtainable to me. How much more true is this principle in our spiritual lives?

                Another purpose God has for a trial is to cause us to realize our frailty and cry out to Him. All of the men I have mentioned were mighty men of God and yet they were men of like passions as we are. They had that sin nature to deal with just as we do. Most trials reveal to us our weaknesses. Most often they involve circumstances that we have no control over. In them we see our need of God.

                As I said earlier, David was a man after God’s own heart, the apple of God’s eye and still he often found himself in dire straits. In many of the Psalms he wrote, he cried out to God in desperation. He was cast down in spirit. He was depressed. Though his trials or circumstances had him down, notice what he did…He cried out to the Lord.

Psalm 34:15  The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

Psalm 61:1-2
1  Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart it overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is
    higher than I.          

Psalm 4:1  HEAR me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;
                  have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.  
 
                The Third thing we have learned from the word of God concerning trials is that God has a purpose in them. He uses them to chasten us, to teach us the Word of God, to strengthen our faith…just as a muscle that is not exercised will grow weak, faith that is not exercised will grow week. He uses trials to build endurance in us so that we persevere to the end…so we finish the race that has been set before us. Finally, God uses trials at times to drive us to cry out to him.

       Our Lord knows how to train us and prepare us for what lies ahead. Trials aren't necessarily "fun" to go through. Just like training for a race isn't fun at the time. The same is true when we go through our trials. At the time it's no fun, our trials may even seem to last forever, but when the future becomes the present we will have endurance to be able to run the race.

       As we go through trials, think of them as our training runs. The Lord is training us in order to build our endurance. He is giving us experience as we go through our trials and that experience will result in our hope in Him. When we are in the middle of our next trial we will have that excited expectation of obtaining more Christ-likeness. Like David in Psalm 42, we will say "O God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember Thee." We will remember previous trials and how the Lord brought us through them...how He showed Himself strong on our behalf and we will say as he did... "Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance."
       What does that do for your heart? Once you’ve been through a trial and look back at it, the trial didn't seem so hard after all. Paul, who suffered many things for Christ’s sake counted his sufferings as light afflictions.

2 Corinthians 4:17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding an
                                eternal weight of glory;

                We can only see our afflictions as being light when we view them with God’s purposes in mind. When we next go through a trial may we consider it in the light of Romans 8:28.
Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God to them who are the
                       called according to his purpose.
 
            Trials are not fun to go through, neither are they easy. Yet, we can have joy knowing that Christ overcame the world and is the One who delivers us out of every trial. We can have joy knowing that He loves us and wants us to learn His word. We can have joy knowing that we are His and that He is using our trial to correct us, strengthen us, build our endurance, give us experience, cause us to hope in Him…essential to mold us and shape us into the image of Christ. Finally we can joy knowing with eternity in view, our trials are light afflictions, last but for a moment (compared to eternity), and produce for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
      
                With these truths and thoughts in mind may we face our next trial with the strong faith Abraham had when asked to sacrifice his son Isaac.