Summary: Christian don’t come with auto focus. To endure overcome hardship we must fix our focus on what really matters. you can also listen at www.preaching.co.nr
Church as it was meant to be, chose to endure hardship. They chose to endure hardship not because they didn’t have a choice, they could have walked away from the Church at any time, as many did, and gone back to the way life was before Jesus. They chose to endure hardship because they were focused on what God had called them to do.
While looking for the original design of how God meant His church to be, I believe church as it is meant to be is a community of saints, focused on their purpose. We are here today because our predecessors kept focused on the purpose.
Examples of Hardship
According to Acts, persecution of Jesus’ followers began after a trip by Peter and John to the Jerusalem Temple and Peter’s speech (Acts 3:12-26); imprisonment of Peter and John (Acts 4:1-21); martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 6:8-8:3); persecution in Damascus (Acts 9:1-31, 22:1-22, 26:9-24); execution of James (Acts 12:1-3, 12:21-23); persecution of Paul. Acts 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 all cite instance of persecution aimed at Paul. In fact almost every chapter in Acts records something of the hostility the early church faced. (see also 1 Cor 9:20-23; Gal 4:29 ;2 Cor 11:23-26.)
Like everyone else in the world, Christians face personal hardships. Whether it’s physical ailments, emotional pain, relational conflicts, or financial pressures, Christians, like non-Christians, face personal hardships. Everyone in this room is facing some degree of hardship.
Personal hardship demands a choice: walk away, live with it, or do all that is within your power to change it. Often people walk away from marriage due to relational conflict, people take their own lives because of emotional pain and some people live constantly in debt because they don’t face the challenge of change.
Believers facing personal hardship can walk away, live with it, or do, with God’s help, what they can do to change it. But they can also look to God for a miracle.(Ps 121:1, 123:1, Isa 40:26, 49:18)
The early church faced hardship because of what they did. When Jesus spoke to them about being endued with power, it was associated with the purpose of the Church. (Acts 1:8)
When you read the examples of persecution, you will see that persecution was a result of the church spreading the Gospel.
So why did the early Christians not just walk away when the persecution or hardships came their way for doing what God had told them to do? They endured hardship because they were focused.
Before the days of modern cameras, that come with auto focus built in to help us take a better picture, you would be required to fix the focus to get the best results.
Christians don’t come with auto focus. We are constantly required to fix our focus on what really matters. (Ps 141:8, 2Cor 4:18, Heb 12:2)
Focused on the Pain
Due to personal hardship, many people spend their life focused on their pain.
As a result of this focus they live in self-pity. Self-pity make you feel worthless and thus miss your eternal value to Jesus. Jeremiah had a pity party:
Jeremiah 20:14-18 (The Message)
Curse the day I was born! The day my mother bore me- a curse on it, I say!
And curse the man who delivered the news to my father: "You’ve got a new baby- a boy baby!" (How happy it made him.) Let that birth notice be blacked out, deleted from the records, and the man who brought it haunted to his death with the bad news he brought. He should have killed me before I was born, with that womb as my tomb, my mother pregnant for the rest of her life with a baby dead in her womb. Why, oh why, did I ever leave that womb? Life’s been nothing but trouble and tears, and what’s coming is more of the same.
The problem with self-pity is, it is constantly looking inward and not upward and when you are in pity mode nothing looks good.
Focusing on the pain can sometimes result in us looking outward, consumed with jealousy over how much better off others are, and not focused upward on the one who’s better than all the rest.
Focusing on the pain can often result in people pursuing pleasure to block out the pain.
Whatever the pain, as believers, lift your eyes and look to the Lord (Ps 121:1, Ps 123:1, Isa 40:26, 49:18.)
Focused on the Promise
It’s good to have the promises of God in our lives; they inspire hope for a fantastic future. But there are some negatives to just focusing on the promises that can hinder our spiritual journey.
We can sometimes use the promises to hold God to ransom. “You said.” “But, you said.” We must learn to accept that God has a higher wisdom than we do and He knows when it is best for us, and for others, to receive the promise. The Prodigal Son ended up in a ‘pig of a mess’ because he believed he knew best about when he should receive his promised inheritance.