May 4th, 2002
This week I thought I would deal with the concepts of Trials and Encouragement. At present there are many of us going through what seem to be very severe trials. I know that the churches have many who are being put through what seems to some people to be more than they can bear. However, God gives us a promise that we will not be given more than we can bear. Thus we must be able to take what is given to us in dealing with us and perfecting in us what is to be perfect, holy, righteous character.
Often God deals with our trials as though we were at the Red Sea. When it seems that all is lost a miracle occurs and we are taken from the troubles as if by miracle. These types of intervention are easy to identify and we have no problem seeing the direct action of God in them. Often these clear and direct interventions are early in our calling. When we are young in the faith we are given direct evidence of the power of God and the battles we fight against wickedness in high places in the powers that rule this earth. In order to prepare us we were often given direct evidence of our purpose. I know that I was and so were a great many of our leaders.
Now when we are older in the faith and also when we have had much exposure we often face trials and it seems as though no one was there. We are often left to ask Why is it so. Why was this allowed to happen. I have seen mothers lose children in accidents while they were trying to cope with unconverted spouses and trying to cope with the faith. While my wife and I were overseas last year we almost lost our granddaughter. Many of us are ill through industrial and other activities that often were little fault of our own. Many of us are slandered for the faith. Many of us have losses suffered in our day to day activities. Some of us have been mugged and escaped with our lives.
I have seen some lose their jobs and have illness and this has been enough to break them in the faith. Seemingly promising young men when tested at the end of three years, or even earlier in their baptism, fold under pressure. The major trials of the sixth year are not even reached in them.
What messages do we take from these activities. God says he will never leave us or forsake us. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God and who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Sometimes it is difficult for us to work out just how this trial or that problem is working together for the good. Many find it difficult to see how these matters are so serious and yet work to the good. In dealing with these aspects many fall from the faith. These are called but not chosen.
God has foreknown us from before the foundation of the world. He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His son that Christ might be the firstborn among many brethren. Those of us he predestined he then called. Those He called he then justified and those He justified He also glorified (Rom. 8:29-30). What then do we say to these things. If God is for us who can be against us (Rom. 8:31a). We have two types in the faith. One type are they who hear the call and are baptised but do not have the perseverance to stay to the end. They are the called but not chosen. It is of these that Christ said many are called but few are chosen. The second type are the called and chosen. God does not call those He can not bring to the birth. We are not still born. Being chosen we are set aside and purged with hyssop until we are free of sin. God will bring us to the birth. We are given the promise of the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. On such the second death has no power.
We are sinful by nature but our task is to overcome sin. In this we have to try to grow and become stronger. If we are sick sometimes God does not intervene. Sometimes he does intervene. Often the decision is made on criteria of which we are not even aware. I have seen God allow illness not to chasten the people who are ill but to deal with the people who are with the sick and need to be judged.
Be careful. As you judge so shall you be judged. Each of the enemies of God are dealt with as they judge us. Pharaoh was judged according to how he judged our ancestors, the Israelites, in Egypt. The church is now the correct inheritors of Israel.
This judgment comes on down to the last days. The paper The Two Witnesses (No. 135) shows how those who seek to hurt them are also dealt with according to the way the world seeks to hurt them. No one can hurt the church with impunity although the Adversary is given the power in the last days to overcome them.
We are given the example of Elishah (see Sabbath message supplement for more detail). When the youths ridiculed that Prophet of God two she bears were sent out of the woods and injured or killed forty-two of them by tearing them. They made rude reference to Elisha's premature baldness. Elisha cursed them in the name of the Lord. We too have that power. Be very careful how it is used.
Often as people seek to hurt or destroy us they are themselves hurt or destroyed. This is not accidental. No one ridicules God's servants with impunity. Sometimes God allows us to be ridiculed but it is the Eternal that vindicates the cause. Often we suffer in order to bring another person into judgement. Often we forgive as they persecute us. Stephen was put to death as a witness against Paul and the others there.
Often we have problems and often God's servants cannot heal themselves. Paul was like that and I am like that also. God has healed many through my anointing but I myself have not been healed. I have however been kept alive. There is a difference.
We must all pray for one another in all things. Give thanks in all things and bear the trials of one another in all things. Give encouragement where we can. Help where we see the need. Do not judge one another and do not gossip. By gossip and slander comes the murder of character. When you gossip you commence the trail to murder.
Be a joy to one another. Try to help and give assistance wherever possible.
The righteous perish and no man taketh it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come (Isa. 57:1). We live in these times. Do not be dismayed.
At the last days Satan is allowed to overcome the elect of the Holy People. He is to weaken us. Do not be afraid. For by this means we also know that our time is near. Rejoice in the coming of the Lord.
Let us discharge our duties as efficiently as possible. In that way we are blameless before God.
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