DOWN BUT NOT OUT
2 Cor. 4:7-10
1. Three men were captured in N. Korea and were going to be shot for trying to escape the country. The first one, Mal-chin, was placed again wall, but just before the order to shoot was given, he yelled out, “Earthquake!” The firing squad panicked. In the confusion, he jumped over the wall and escaped.
2. The next man, Myung, observed what Mal-chin had done, and just as the firing squad prepared to shoot, he yelled, “Tornado!” The squad scattered and he escaped.
3. Last in line was Sam. He too had detected the pattern: scream out a disaster and then hop over the wall. As the firing squad raised their rifles and took aim, Sam grinned smugly and yelled, “Fire!”
2 Cor. 4:7 “But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own. 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. 9 We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. [Vss. 7-9 is Living Bible; Verse 10 is the NIV]
1. We are currently facing many difficulties. In these verses God offers us hope and motivation to strive for the kingdom in spite of setbacks.
2. The title of this message is “Down But Not Out.”
I. AT TIMES OUR TRIALS SEEM OVERWHELMING
A. TRIALS SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE
1. Paul said that we are “troubled on every side.” This sounds a lot like the situation we have been facing. We’ve had a continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the danger of life-threatening infection, and economic collapse along with it. At the same time we’ve had racial injustice, riots, looting, and social upheaval.
2. Christians feel helpless to deal with these mighty forces that even the federal government, with all its money and power, can’t handle either. But Peter warned us long ago, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” 1 Pet. 4:12.
3. Believers should never be blindsided by trials. The worst harm that can come to us, comes when we don't expect it. The blow you don't see coming, can really devastate you.
4. In some Christian circles -- such as the prosperity gospel – there’s some false advertising going on. They teach that if you live for God, bad things won't happen to you. This contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture that, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” Acts 14:22.
B. TRIALS ARE BENEFICIAL
1. Trials are not only inevitable, they are beneficial. Biologists have discovered "the adversity principle;" – “habitual well-being is not advantageous to a species.” Adversity actually gives us greater vitality.
2. When you get saved, your troubles -- far from terminating -- are just beginning. There’s no triumph without a trial, no testimony without a test, and no crown without a cross!
3. We’d rather have nothing but mountaintop experiences, but no growth ever occurs on the mountaintops. It always happens in the valleys -- the places of trials, troubles, setbacks, defeats -- that’s where the growth occurs in our lives.
4. ILLUSTRATION “All things for the best.”
a. During the reign of ‘Bloody’ Mary, Queen of England, Bernard Gilpin, a Protestant, was accused of heresy and was being moved to London to stand trial. His constant saying was, “All things are for the best.” On the way, he broke his leg. His guards mocked saying, “All things are for the best?” He said, “I believe so!”
b. His journey was delayed a few weeks. As he began his journey again, Queen Mary died and the next Queen, Elizabeth -- a Protestant -- sent him home in triumph! [7700 Illus, #6846.] Though God allowed his leg to break, God used that to save his life!
II. GOD MEANS US VICTORIOUS OVER OUR TRIALS
A. GOD IS OUR HELPER
1. Paul assured the Roman Christians that no enemy has greater power than God! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The logical answer is “NO ONE!” There is no power that can equal God’s power!
2. NOBODY BIGGER(ILLUS.)
a. An old country preacher was challenged by a highly educated agnostic. The skeptic asked, “Why do you Christians constantly claim victory when it doesn’t appear the side of religion is winning!?”
b. The old preacher replied: “Well, son, it says in the beginning of my Bible that God was in charge when time started up. Then I flips over to the end of my Bible and reads that God will be in charge when time runs down. So I figure that between the beginning and the end there’s nobody big enough to whoop Him.”
B. DESTINED FOR VICTORY
1. In a boxing match, men often get knocked down, but not out. Knocking them down still registers points on the score card. But if that man can get up and knock out his opponent, he can still win the match. Victory is getting up one more time than you got knocked down.
2. Moses told the Israelites, “[God] BROUGHT US OUT from [Egypt] to BRING US IN and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors” Deut. 6:23.
3. God has no intention that you be unsuccessful; He didn’t save you to let you falter & founder, He saved you to bring you into Heaven victoriously!
C. GOD PUTS LIMITS ON OUR TRIALS
1. ILLUS. A man was shopping in a grocery store. His young son followed closely behind, carrying a hand basket. The father loaded the basket with one thing after another until another customer began to feel sorry for the boy.
2. She said, “That’s a pretty heavy load for a little fella like you, isn’t it?” The boy turned to the woman and said, “Oh don’t worry. My dad knows how much I can carry!” In the same way, God knows our limitations and gives us no burden beyond what we can carry. [Michael Green, Ed., Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, p. 380.]
3. 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” NKJV
4. To ensure us triumphing over our trials, God has limited them to our level of fighting – kind of like in boxing there’s “light weight,” “welter-weight,” and “heavy weight.” God won’t put you in a fight you can’t win. There will be times you’ll feel like God has misjudged your strength – trust Him; He knows what you can stand far more than you do. Hold onto Him!
5. You may say, “Pastor, I can’t even perceive God in my battle!” THERE MAY BE TIMES YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE GOD IS, BUT THERE WILL NEVER BE A TIME GOD DOESN’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE!
6. The times when you feel like He’s the farthest away are actually the times He’s the closest to you! He’s not going to leave you or forsake you. You’re in the center of His hands. If, in your weakness you rely on His strength, you’ll never fail, for He shall bear you up in His arms!
III. THE PURPOSE OF TRIALS
A. DEFINITION OF TESTING
Testing is defined as “to examine in order to determine the quality, value, or character of.” God has many reasons for allowing trials & losses to come our way.
1. A TEACHING TOOL. Trials/temptations inform us of our weaknesses, of how the enemy operates, and show us how transitory and worthless are the things of this life.
2. FOR STRENGTH BUILDING. Just as an athlete starts with small weights in a gym and slowly adds more weight and muscle, until they get strong, so we start with small tests, as babes in Christ, and end up with the difficult, unfathomable tests like Job experienced, when our faith is strong.
3. FOR CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. The process of smelting gold by successive tests, each which take it to a new level of purification, is an excellent example of how God purifies our character over our lifetimes. He gets out the lead of sin and finally even the silver, until only pure gold is left.
4. TO BRING US CLOSER TO HIM. When we reach the end of our own resources, we have no recourse but to turn to God, to depend upon Him more. Trials can drive us to God our Helper and can be, in effect, “God calling us into the secret place with Him.” ILLUSTRATION: Making Sure She Knelt
a. For several nights a 6-year-old girl threw one shoe under her bed before going to sleep. Her mother asked her why she did that.
b. “My teacher says (at the Catholic school),” was the reply, “that if we have to kneel by our beds to look for our shoes, we’ll remember to keep kneeling and say our morning prayers!” [Paul Tan, 7,700 Illus., #4558.]
c. That’s what God does: He GETS us on our knees by trials so that He can KEEP us on our knees for relationship.
5. TO CUT AWAY PART OF OUR WORLDLY NATURE. To make the right choice often requires us to lose something or to deny our desires for the selfless reason that this pleases God. When a void is created, only then can God come into our beings in a fuller measure and possess us in a way hitherto unknown.
6. TO MAKE A NEW VESSEL. What good can come out of your life being broken? Jeremiah 18. The Potter remolds your life to make a new vessel. Begin to look for your new life. It will not be the same – it will be better!
B. BEWARE IF YOU HAVE NO TRIALS
1. Beware if you have no trials. The reason the Apostle Paul had constant trials was that he was always stirring up opposition by preaching the Gospel. Once, on his way to preach to Caesar at Rome, Paul was in a hurricane and shipwrecked on the Island of Malta. Paul gathered sticks to put on a fire. A snake was drawn to the fire/heat and bit Paul on the hand, but he shook it off without harm. This story is also a parable.
2. Whenever God’s saints do the work of God (creating spiritual heat), the enemy’s always drawn in to disrupt it. We shouldn’t be surprised at this. I challenge you to build Holy Ghost fires!
3. Someone said to me, “Pastor, I don’t ever have any troubles with the devil!” I answered, “It might be because the devil won’t spur a dead horse!” The Lord Jesus said, “Woe to you if all men speak well of you!” Luke 6:26. “You are the salt of the earth….You are the light of the world” Mt. 5:13-14. Don’t lose your saltiness! You should bring the spice of Life!
C. THE EXAMPLE OF THE PEARL -- GRACE
1. Beautiful & valuable pearls are the result of irritation caused by a grain of sand inside the shell of an oyster. To keep from being irritated by the sharp sand, the oyster surrounds it with a milky secretion. This symbolizes GRACE. When you get poked by the world, you shouldn’t respond with hate or revenge, but with love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, etc.
2. Similarly, Paul got a thorn, a trial. The Holy Spirit gave him grace to surround the thorn. He learned to praise the Lord in the middle of his troubles and in spite of his troubles.
3. Now when the enemy brings you into trials, his purpose is to make you fail or become bitter. Now if you turn every bad circumstance into a reason for praising God, will the devil wish to keep provoking you? Of course not! You have destroyed the purpose he’s trying to reach.
4. Have you ever thought how all the entrances to the heavenly city of New Jerusalem are gates of Pearls? Remember – pearls are the result of secretions to coat trials. In other words, we must enter the kingdom/ Paradise through trials and tribulations! Thank God for the Gates of Pearls!
1. Robert Clive was an adventurous young man of England who set out in a ship in 1744 to try to get a job in India. The ship was caught in a hurricane and was blown far off course, and severely damaged, it finally limped into a South American port. Clive was stranded there for 9 months.
2. The situation looked like his whole life had been sidetracked. While there he learned to speak Portuguese. At last he set off for India. On arriving he applied for a job with the East India Company. It was his ability to speak Portuguese which secured him a high position.
3. He quickly moved up in the E.I.C., establishing its dominance over India. He was made Governor of India, later a Baron of Ireland, and became a member of Parliament. All because of a storm!
4. So if some misfortune has come your way and your life seems to be off track, remember that “man proposes, but God disposes!” Trust God! He is working all things for your good!
B. THE CALL
1. How many of you feel like you are in need of special prayer? Are you going through a time of trial now? Do you need special grace to deal with your situations?
2. Remember: THERE MAY BE TIMES YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE GOD IS, BUT THERE WILL NEVER BE A TIME GOD DOESN’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE!
3. Are there some here who feel like you and God aren’t close, but you’d like to be? Let’s pray and draw near God!