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Summary: This is the 9th sermon in the series "Don't Be Discouraged". What do you do when your faith is tested?

Series: Don’t Be Discouraged [#9]

WHEN YOUR FAITH IS TESTED

1 Peter 4:12-19

Introduction:

We have been studying 1 Peter for 9 weeks and I want to remind you of the things that were happening to the Christians when Peter wrote them this letter. Christians were being dragged out of their houses and killed in the streets. Fathers had to watch their children die. Christians were not able to get jobs. Christians would be taken to the Coliseum and tied to poles where they would put tar on them and burn them or they would let them fight against wild animals that would tear them to shreds. When you think of the worst forms of persecution possible, this was happening to these Christians.

With this in mind, remember that much of the theme of this letter is, “Don’t be discouraged”. So how are we supposed to go through terrible things as Christians; but not become discouraged? I have been asked by many people, "Why is this happening to me"?

Peter tells us that there are 3 kinds of suffering in life. You are usually experiencing 1 of the 3 at any point in your life.

 Common suffering.

Common suffering happens because you are a human being- Things go wrong. We live in a fallen world. Our bodies wear out. As a part of life we have suffering as human beings.

 Carnal suffering.

Carnal suffering is caused by my own choices. If I get drunk and then have a hangover, that's carnal suffering. We bring a lot of suffering on ourselves.

 Christian suffering.

Christian suffering is when you suffer for doing good- When you suffer for being a believer. Jesus is the best example of this. Did He suffer because He did wrong or because He did right? He suffered because He did right.

1 Peter 4 says that there are 5 things you need to do when you suffer as a Christian, when you suffer for your faith, when you are harassed because you are a believer whether it's at work, at school, or in your neighborhood, or by relatives who don't understand, or when people ridicule you because you stand for certain things and they don't like that. What do you do?

1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)

“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.”

When you experience Christian suffering…

1. Realize that suffering is bound to happen.

Peter says don't be upset when this happens, when people put you down, when people challenge your faith. We can’t let these things get to us and it shouldn’t surprise us- It’s going to happen. When we are serving God faithfully, the enemy is going to attack and we need to be prepared for that.

1 Peter 4:13-14 (NIV)

“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

When you experience Christian suffering…

2. Rejoice when it does happen.

When we go through things we are to rejoice. We aren’t supposed to complain or have a pity party; but we are to rejoice. We do need to understand that it says rejoice, not enjoy. There’s a big difference between enjoyment and rejoicing. Enjoyment means getting pleasure out of something. Rejoicing means choosing to have a positive attitude in spite of it. God doesn't say enjoy persecution; He says rejoice in it. Keep a positive attitude. It's a choice to rejoice. Why? Why should I rejoice?

I should rejoice because…

 Suffering draws me closer to God.

When you go through suffering with someone it causes you to become closer with them. When you go through suffering because of your faith you need to rely on God and it will grow your relationship with Him.

I should rejoice because…

 It means that God can be seen in my life.

If you are being attacked for your faith that means that someone can see that you are a Christian. That’s one of the greatest problems with Christians today is that we blend in with the world.

I should rejoice because…

 God can trust me.

God uses us to spread His message. Can God trust you to be bold regardless of what is going on?

1 Peter 4:15-16 (NIV)

“If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

When you experience Christian suffering…

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