Yesterday we saw that we must persevere and not give up hope because James 1:12 “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him. 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” Romans 8:37 “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
On this journey we must understand who God is. We also must understand that if we say we love him and follow His word, not man’s, then we know that when we seek Him we will find Him. We also know in our hearts that God Jeremiah 29:11 “knows the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” This is why we must also recognize the importance of our confession before God. We then comprehend why we persevere no matter what stands against us. Understanding who God is and what he expects causes you to confess before him. Understanding god also means you will persevere.
We know what 1 Kings 2:3 “the Lord our God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” But we also know that most do not know their bibles well enough to live by God’s word. 2 Kings 17:26 “It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.” 33 They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. 34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” The same can be said about the church.
These requirements are not as complicated as the church has made them out to be.
John 6:25 “When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” This journey of confession we are on is about our unbelief and we must confess from that unbelief. Many have turned away from Jesus to follow false gospels and teaching that is not God’s word but man’s efforts to satisfy the requirements of God without actually following those requirements. They have added and subtracted, changed and modified God’s word to make it more satiable to their liking. They have turned down the temperature to lukewarm have become very comfortable but what will they do in the end? These are not the requirements of God. While we wait to be clothed with power once again, we persevere by faith.
While Paul and Silas were in prison, Acts 16:25 “about midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
So here is a case where Paul and Silas are in prison yet they are praying and singing before God. The bottom line is to believe in the Lord Jesus no matter what. This means we believe His words and follow them as Paul told the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” Don’t follow a false imitation.
When we think about Job and the sufferings he endured, we see a man who did not turn from his faith in God. Yes he lost everything but not his faith in God and refused to listen to those close to him. At the end of that part of his journey God said Job 42:7 “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” Remember be careful who you take your advice from and don’t be afraid to stand on the word of God and reject what they have to say to you, just make sure it is actually the word of God you are standing on. On this journey of suffering Job said, Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. 16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless person would dare come before him! 17 Listen carefully to what I say; let my words ring in your ears. 18 Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. 19 Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die. 20 “Only grant me these two things, God, and then I will not hide from you: 21 Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. 22 Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply to me.” Job was right about his ways. He was right that those who came to comfort him were actually against him. He was right not to listen to his wife when she said curse God and die. Job 2:10 “He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” He was right not to turn away from God when he lost all his children and his possessions. He said Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
Job teaches us about perseverance and suffering. He did not know why all this was happen; he just knew it was. Even in his suffering he said, Job 19:25 “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” But this is the amazing part for us. Here is a man who completely trusted God. He thought he knew God but God showed him so much more. God said to job, Job 38:3 “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” He has just finished listening to the arrogance of Elihu who had said, Job 36:2 “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you that there is more to be said in God’s behalf. 3 I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. 4 Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.” Then God steps in and says, Job 38:2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” God then proceeded to ask Job questions. Midway through this onslaught of questions, God says to Job. Job 40:2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” 3 Then Job answered the Lord: 4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. 5 I spoke once, but I have no answer— twice, but I will say no more.” Then God continues this onslaught.
This is where we need to be and understand that there is so much more to God. I have felt so many times that although we read God’s word and live by it, there is so much more that we are missing and not understanding. Revelation 4:8 “Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Ask yourself if you really get that? We desperately need our eyes and ears to be opened. Job said my “ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job makes this statement. Job 42:1 “Then Job replied to the Lord: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Do you despise yourself and the empty ways of those who have gone before us to repent?
So even though Job was faithful, his eyes and ears were open to who God was. If your journey has been long and you have had to persevere, no matter what do not turn from God. Just because you can’t see the end does not mean the end is not coming. Job 42:10 “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. 12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.”
We serve and amazing God. Malachi 1:14 “For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations. David said, 2 Samuel 7:22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God. 25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.” Do you believe this?
We serve a great king and he expects us to serve Him wholeheartedly and do what he says even if you are suffering, persecuted, sick or downtrodden (abused or oppressed by people in power or the enemy) Psalm 147:6 The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. 8 He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. 10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; 11 the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Whatever you do, don’t forget God. You may not be suffering or persecuted and you may consider yourself blessed but in your fortune do not turn from God. If you are not following God wholeheartedly yet your station in life is to be admired by others, then you are not blessed. Jesus makes this very clear. Luke 13:22 “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
This journey we are on isn’t just about hanging out with Jesus but believing. Unfortunately church has simply become an event we go to. John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We better get it right. Even though Job had this revelation of who God was, he was still a faithful follower of God and he did not turn away in his suffering. The church is filled with people who refuse to persevere in their trials. They blame and curse God and refuse to honour Him with their trust and faith. Yes they still go to church but they are simply in attendance because they think that is enough but it is not and the narrow door will be closed to them. They have made no effort whatsoever to remain in Him. John 15:4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Christianity is not just about gathering Sunday morning for a dinner and show, or a concert and some words to get you through the week. These words are supposed to be your life. Today if your journey is hard and undergoing trial and all those who serve Jesus will, James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” John 15:20 “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.1 Peter 1:6 “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Are you standing firm on God’s word or do you just own a bible. Are you walking and talking with Jesus or are you reaching out for him? Matthew 9:18 “While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. 23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.” Matthew 14:34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”
There is so much more available to us if we would just believe and hold fast to his word. There are many people in church who have never heard of the true Jesus or the Holy Spirit. They have no idea who He is or what he has done or what he will do. They are like that Judges 2:10 “generation who grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” But don’t be those people. 1 Peter 2:7 “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
As people who are persevering and remaining true there is great hope. As Joshua said, Joshua 23:14 “Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” We must persevere also to see what God will bring about.