Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Lord Stood with me and ENCOURAGED me (Cleats #4)

We continue our look today at the temptation to hang up our cleats. In other words, to quit, give up, throw in the towel because the going has gotten rough. Let's be realistic, as long as you live on this earth, you will have trials and tribulations. Listen to what Jesus said:

John 16:33 (AMP) I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Think about that for a moment. Jesus said that in this world you will have tribulation, trials, distress and frustrations. Can you relate to that? I'm certain that many who will read this blog today can say a hearty AMEN to Jesus' Words because you are in the midst of one of these four things mentioned, if not all four.

What do each of these words represent? Let's look briefly at them:

#1 Tribulation: pressure, a pressing together, afflictions

Jesus warns us of the pressures of life. There are times that we feel so stressed out, and feel so much pressure that we feel like hanging up our cleats! We think, "I can't take another day of this." If we aren't careful, the pressures can turn into depression and despair. I have talked with many who have battled this type of pressure from: finances, relationship deficiencies, extreme debt, bad habits, job related circumstances, etc.

#2 Trials: testing of your faith through experience, Any effort or exertion of strength for the purpose of ascertaining its effect, or what can be done.

The TESTS that you are facing right now, are the very things that God can turn around for your behalf and victory. Revelation 12:11 (ESV) And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

The people of God overcame the enemy by the blood of the Lamb AND the word of their testimony. Look closely at that word…TESTimony. The very thing that the enemy is trying to use to defeat you (test) is the very thing that God will use to defeat the enemy. Thank God for the trials that you are facing right now.

1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Listen to the same verse from the Message version:

1 Peter 4:12-13 Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. (13) Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.

Regardless what your TRIAL may look or fee like, please know, as a Child of God, God is still on the job and on the throne! Continue to put your trust, confidence and hope in Him. Verbalize it every day through your praise and thanksgiving!

#3 Distress: Extreme pain, anguish of body or mind, misery, danger or harassment.

So the enemy of our soul will try to use extreme physical and emotional pain to tempt us to hang up our cleats! If that doesn't work, then he will try to use misery or harassment. In the Bible, Samson was harassed day after day by Delilah until he finally gave in. That is exactly how the enemy loves to tempt. Look at the following contrast of how to deal with this constant harassment of temptation:

Judges 16:15-17 She said, "How can you say 'I love you' when you won't even trust me? Three times now you've toyed with me, like a cat with a mouse, refusing to tell me the secret of your great strength." (16) She kept at it day after day, nagging and tormenting him. Finally, he was fed up--he couldn't take another minute of it. (17) He spilled it. He told her, "A razor has never touched my head. I've been God's Nazirite from conception. If I were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would be as helpless as any other mortal."

Samson, finally got tired of the harassment and torment, got fed up and hung up his cleats. He game up, quit, because he didn't think that he could take another minute of the DISTRESS. He paid for it DEARLY.

Now, look at a man by the name of Joseph:

Genesis 39:5-10 From that moment on, GOD blessed the home of the Egyptian--all because of Joseph. The blessing of GOD spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, (6) and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day. Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. (7) As time went on, his master's wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, "Sleep with me." (8) He wouldn't do it. He said to his master's wife, "Look, with me here, my master doesn't give a second thought to anything that goes on here--he's put me in charge of everything he owns. (9) He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn't turned over to me is you. You're his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?" (10) She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her.

What a contrast. Samson was pestered day after day, and he game in. Joseph was pestered day after day, and he STOOD HIS GROUND and refused, because of his love for His Lord! He refused to hang up his cleats!

What an example for you and me! We can stand our ground with the help of the Holy Spirit, as we stand on God's Word!

#4 Frustration: to make ineffective, to bring to nothing, to induce feelings of discouragement, something that is a source of irritation.

What causes me as much stress as anything are the daily frustrations of life. I can either control them, by putting them in Jesus' hand every morning, or allow them to control me by keeping them in my hands. Song of Solomon (NIV) Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. You see, the Word of God warns us about small things, little foxes that can do BIG TIME damage. We must beware of this. These daily frustrations can make us ineffective, bring us to NOTHING. They can bring on feelings of discouragement and keep us irritated all the time.

So what do we need to do?

After Jesus told us that we will face tribulation, trials, distress and frustration in this world, He went on to say, but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] Thank God for this assurance. You see, you don't have to hang up your cleats in frustration. You can put your trust and confidence in Jesus, who promises you that He has already deprived each tribulation, trial, distress and frustration from any power that it may have to conquer you. He said that you can be cheerful, thankful, undaunted, confident, certain, because Jesus has overcome each of these. He has taken the power from them so that they cannot defeat you, IF you put them DAILY in His hands!

That my friend is shouting ground!

Let me share with you one more passage of Scripture:

2 Timothy 4:16 At my preliminary hearing no one stood by me. They all ran like scared rabbits. But it doesn't matter--

Paul says that at his hearing, no MAN stood with him. They all ran like "scared rabbits". But Paul said that it didn't matter. How could he say that? Because of the next verse:

Continuing in verse 17, Paul says, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." Please allow me once again today to share some thoughts from Rick Renner concerning this verse, taken from "Sparkling Gems from the Greek."

First, Paul says, "The Lord stood with me."
This word "stood" is the Greek word paristemi, which means to stand by one's side. By using this word, Paul tells you that Jesus Christ is not ashamed of any faithful soldier. When no one else will come to your aid, Jesus Christ is always there to rescue you. Jesus will step forward to assist you and defend you when your friends and family have all bailed out!

Second, Paul says the Lord "strengthened" him. The word "strengthened" in the Greek is endunamoo, which always refers to an empowerment or an inner strengthening. It is a compound of the words en and dunamis. The word en means in. The word dunamis means explosive strength, ability, and power. It's where we get the word dynamite.

Thus, this word endunamoo presents the picture of an explosive power that is being deposited into some type of container, vessel, or other form of receptacle. The very nature of this word endunamoo means that there necessarily must be some type of receiver into which this power can be deposited.

What does this tell us? In that moment when Paul felt so abandoned, he received a supernatural infilling of divine power that literally super-charged him to bravely and victoriously face one of the most difficult times in his life. The moment Paul discovered he had no friends to lean on was the exact moment that the power of God filled him anew and made him supernaturally strong for the ordeal he was facing.

This was good news for Timothy — and for every other believer who ever feels abandoned and let down by friends. If anyone needed to be reminded that the Lord would stand by him and strengthen him in the midst of every crisis, it was Timothy. The young minister desperately needed a fresh infilling of God's power so he could victoriously walk through the ordeal that lay before him.

Just as God supernaturally strengthened Paul at a time when the apostle felt hurt and betrayed, God promised to do the same for Timothy in his hour of need. And God hasn't changed; He is still not a respecter of persons. If He did it for Paul and Timothy, He will do the same for you today!

Are you facing a disturbing situation today? Has something happened to make you feel lonely and abandoned by those you thought would be faithful to stand by your side? If this is the case, it's time for you to ask Jesus to stand by your side. If you will ask Him for help, He will step forward to assist you, befriend you, and fill you with the power you need to victoriously conquer this difficult time in your life. So why don't you go ahead and ask the Lord to help you today? Refuse to HANG UP YOUR CLEATS because the Lord is standing with you, ready to encourage you. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "Through the Bible in a year" reading: Thursday-April 10, 2008: Ezra 7:1 – Ezra 10:44

This weeks' memory verse to "Hide in my heart": 2 Timothy 1:12

2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.


Beth said...

Another awesome entry. Most days your entries are encouragements for me or I read them to remember for another day that I will need it. Today, this was for me right now! I have let daily frustrations get the best of me. Normally, I let them fall like water off a duck's back. The past couple of days STUFF has gotten to me and affected my attitude. Today I have felt so convicted and have asked God to forgive me.
Thanks Pastor Rusty for sharing what's on your heart.

Treasure Seeker said...

Thanks for the Word - and great teaching!
You still inspire me!
- forever and always!

love you!