Summary: Very few people look forward to confrontation or suffering. Many run from it. Others unwillingly or pridefully face it head on, but few just accept it. Jesus invited His disciples to embrace the conflict and suffering that arises from following Him.
Intro.: Very few people look forward to confrontation or suffering. Many run from it. Others unwillingly or pridefully face it head on, but few just accept it. Jesus invited His disciples to embrace the conflict and suffering that arises from following Him. He usually made them palatable by revealing a reward for enduring it.
I. Most of the Church has chosen not to follow Jesus in Conflict or Suffering
A. Their reasoning is that Jesus suffered so that we wouldn’t have to…
Acts 5:41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
2 Tim 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,
1 Pet 4:13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
B. Endurance in God-ordained confrontation bestows Kingdom principles in our hearts
1. The kingdom is obtained through the violence of confrontation - READ: Matt. 11:12
2. So, the Kingdom belongs to those who will contend for it
NOTE: In righteous conflict, persecution & suffering births in us a greater anointing to work the works of God. When we’re willing to suffer for His Kingdom, God can actually trust us w/greater responsibility because He trusts what He sees in our heart in the midst of difficulties.
QUESTION: How many of you have served God long enough to experience the greater anointing that follows a time of great battle, criticism or suffering of one kind or another?
C. In hard times there is a level of faithfulness that is both earned and learned
D. How will we respond to conflict & suffering, even if we recognize it as from the Lord?
1. Have we been preparing for times of difficulty as a result of our faith?
NOTE: We need to understand that God not only allows hardship to come, but that He often is the divine Source of it in order to teach us not to run at a critical moment.
a. He will discipline us with His hand into simple obedience
b. At the same time, He will comfort us with His heart during the distress of learning
II. God is preparing us to walk w/Him in dimensions of His Spirit that may seem Unreasonable
A. He may ask us to do what, to us, seems impossible
1. Projects that are inconceivable to our current mindset
2. We may be praying for a neighbor, while God wants to give us a neighborhood
3. Or, we may be praying for a neighborhood, while God wants to give us a city!
NOTE: When our own thinking has the upperhand, we interpret everything with soulish logic. We look at our own resources and the scale of the problem and make a rational, intelligent judgment of our chances for pulling it off. At that point, we usually won’t even make an attempt.
B. Much of the current Church is like the 10 spies – READ: Numbers 13:25-33
1. We focus on the obstacles (giants) and our “slim” chance of victory
2. This causes us to offer an “evil report” or a report that is contrary to God’s desires
3. When we move in faith regarding God’s ability, we put a much different spin on things
a. READ: Numbers 14:7b-9, “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them.”
C. Joshua & Caleb did not deny the truth of the bad report
1. There were giants, fortified cities and a strong army
2. But Joshua & Caleb focused on The Lord and His abilities & power
3. The other spies did just the opposite and felt insignificant and incapable as a result
Concl.: As the church we are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. God will speak into our current situation AS IT HAPPENS. We must choose not to live on previous words, but on proceeding words!