In His Steps Ministries

In His Steps Ministries

The following sermons are past messages by Pastor Rich.
The sermon notes may be used by others.

In His Steps Ministries
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ChristianTrials and Change

Trials and Change

I am going to be speaking on the concept of change. It will be in the context of going through testings, trials, tribulations, hardships, and suffering. As I speak on pain & suffering and what to do about it, I am not suggesting that going through trials or tribulations means we are in sin or that the experience of pain is wrong. Jesus went through trials, pain & sorrow and He did not sin. Do not feel guilty if you are experiencing pain. (Unless of course, you are in rebellion to God and hopefully your guilt will lead you to get right with God). The issue is not that we are in pain or suffering, it is how we handle the circumstance we are in. I am absolutely convinced God uses suffering to mold and shape us, to bring change in our life. While we are on this earth, trials and pain can be Godís tools for transforming our life. How many would agree that change can be painful at times? How many would agree that pain can be used by God to bring change in our lives?  If we want to grow in Jesus, we will go through rough times.

1 Peter 4:12-13 states
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. [13] But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 4:12-13 (Living)
Dear friends, don't be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you. [13] Instead, be really glad--because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory in that coming day when it will be displayed.

Guess what? Even if a person does not want to grow in Jesus, even if they do not believe in God, they are going to go through trials that God uses to bring change in their life. Whether you believe in God or not, the purpose for change is to bring you closer to the God you do not believe in. He wants relationship with each one of us. The hardships you may be going through is Godís way to bring you into relationship with Him to share in His glory when He returns.

Lord, I pray right now that you grab hold of the hearts of Your children. Those who acknowledge You as their Heavenly Father and those who deny Your existence. Draw them by Your Holy Spirit. Break through any resistance to Your love. In the Name of Jesus I bind every lying spirit that hinders anyone from receiving the good news of Godís love.
Amen

Do not resist the changes God wants to do in Your life. He is the all powerful Creator and He does not give up easily. How many of you know that? Is God wanting to remove a sinful habit from your life? Does He want to build godly character in your life? Does He want to build up Your faith?? Is He calling You to be more bold in Your faith? Is He disciplining you?

Proverbs 12:1 (NIV)
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates correction is stupid.

Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

So, I challenge you tonight to no be a fool by resisting Godís working in your life.

I am going to share some things that will probably stretch some of you. It may challenge you on how you are feeling about a trial you may be going through at the moment. It will challenge your resistance to the change God wants to do in your life. I can say with confidence that if you listen to this message with an open heart, you will be able to gain peace in the midst of your current hardship. You will experience the transformation of your life and experience freedom.

Before I go any further I want you to know that it is not my goal to make light of the pain some of you are experiencing. I am not going to tell you that your pain is not real. I am not going to tell you that everything is ok and just put a smile on your face. Sometimes life is tough, it is painful, it is not fun, and it can be very challenging to walk in faith and hope. However, at the same time, I am going to tell you that God is on your side and greater than any pain and suffering.

Mindsets
At the time when we are going through a trial, tribulation, or testing we sometimes wonder if we are going to get beyond the situation. With some trials we see the situation as terribly painful. We may resist the change that God wants to do in our life. Here are some wrong mindsets we may have when going through the hardships of trials and change. I will explain them in detail, so please hear me out.

  • We think we ARE NOT going to get past the painful circumstance.
  • The pain we are going through is unbearable.
  • We use the pain as a justification for our bad attitudes or behavior.
  • At times we rebel against God because of a false concept about suffering.

I want us to take a look at each of these mindsets.

The first mindset

We think we ARE NOT going to get past the painful circumstance.

Listen to me. We ARE going to get past the painful circumstance-our past circumstances have proven this.

How many know what I am talking about? Over and over again we all have gone through some times that we wonder if we are going to get beyond the situation and we do. Here is the Good News. Even if we do not get the victory here on earth, as a follower of Jesus Christ, death becomes our victory. Brother Reggie did not get the victory over cancer here on this earth, but He is healed NOW. So listen to me. This too will pass. No matter what you are going through it will pass away. YOU WILL GET TO THE OTHER SIDE. YOU WILL GET TO THE OTHER SIDE. Say, I WILL GET TO THE OTHER SIDE.

After feeding the five thousand, Jesus told the disciples to go over to the other side of the lake. While in the boat a storm came up. Guess what? No storm could stop them from going to the other side of the lake. If Jesus needs to walk on water to get you to the other side, He will.

Next mindset
The pain we are going through is unbearable.

Listen, the pain we are going through is not as bad as we think. It is not unbearable.

I know this is a hard one to receive. I know some of you may resist this concept. Please hear me out. I know what I am talking about. I know what the Word of God says.

I have gone through horrendous depression. I have suffered the pain of bad choices and mistakes. I have been taken advantage of by others. I have had people speak evil of me. I have been abusive to others in the past and absolutely hated myself.

All the time I hear from people I counsel, that I do not understand what they are going through. I may not know the exact details, but I know about, condemnation, guilt, depression, consequences for behavior,  bitterness etc. Scripture states

1 Cor. 10:13 (NIV)
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

So I know what it is like to be tempted and to fall into temptation instead of taking the way of escape. I have experienced the pain of making wrong choices and interpreting suffering in the wrong way.

So, listen to me. The pain you are going through is not as bad as you think How do I know? By experience and the Word of God.

My Experience
There were times in my life I thought I could not bear anymore pain. I thought I would not live through it. I thought the only answer was suicide. I thought there was no way out of the pain. But guess what? I am alive and serving Jesus. I am filled with peace and joy. I am serving God with all my heart. Now I look at those circumstances and can say, I interpreted the pain in the wrong way. I embraced the pain instead of God. I have gone through tougher situations and they were not as painful. Did you hear me? I have gone through tougher situations and they were not as painful. Why? Because I have a different perspective about the pain.

I have talked to people who have attempted suicide. You know what they have told me? Years later they do not understand why they attempted suicide. The pain was not as bad as they thought at the time. They know their reasons for attempting suicide, but they acknowledge the pain was no justification to attempt suicide.

Listen, if we are a follower of Jesus Christ, our pain needs to be interpreted in the light of scripture.

Philip. 4:7 (NIV)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace would not pass understanding if what we were going through was easy. Did you catch this?

Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

Romans 8:34 says Jesus intercedes for us

So, Jesus knows what we are going through and He is interceding for us.

With Jesus interceding for us, and God saying He will give us peace in the midst of hardship, our pain is not as bad as we think. Do you agree, in spite of what your pain cries out, or do you still have some doubt? For those who still doubt-think about a time when your heart was broken and you did not think you could survive the broken heart? (Pause for a moment) Did you survive? If the pain is still unbearable in our mind, the issue is not the pain, the issue is us not leaning upon Jesus for strength.

Or, maybe at no fault of your own, you have a chemical imbalance and no matter what you do, you canít get out of a slump. You may need medication until God heals your brain. Proper medication can help you get emotionally stabilized so that you can get your emotions under control.  If you have a chemical imbalance you certainly are going to misinterpret pain and suffering. There is no condemnation if you need medication to help your brain function properly. If you needed insulin you would take it, so there should not be a stigma attached to medication for mental health issues.

Just because some doctors overmedicate, does not mean that medication is wrong in itself. Just because some preachers are not sincere, does not mean  the gospel is false.

For those who say you have not been able to get beyond the pain, I want you to listen to my next point.
 

Another mindset.
We use our pain as a justification for our bad attitudes or behavior.

Some of you may get defensive with this statement, but please hear me out.

Listen to the following statements:
ĒI am going through so much pain I canít help being negative.Ē I have been so wounded by men, I cannot trust any man.Ē ďI am rebellious because I have been hurt by leaders.Ē ďI was abused all my life, so I must use drugs.Ē ďI view pornography because my wife has rejected my love.Ē

Do you want the pain to stop? Do you honestly want the pain to stop? Then stop excusing your sinful behavior and attitudes so that God can set you free. Stop trying to find reasons to stay depressed. Stop doing the sin, that brings the pain. Stop blaming others for your pain. They may have caused the pain in the beginning, but you are the one who chooses to continue to be in pain.  Stop giving the abuser power over your emotions. Line your emotions up with the Word of God. Line your lifestyle up with the Word of God. Deliverance comes from repentance, not excuses for behavior.

Is your pain real? Yes, most of the time it is. But it is never an excuse for sinning. I have shared this story before, but it is very appropriate to share it again.

Rape story
(Condensed for web)
A woman was jogging through a park and was raped. After being raped she got on the road walking to hospital. A car came by and she waved them down to help her. It was the rapist and he brutally raped her again. After a few days in the hospital a counselor saw her. He told her that he must share the hardest thing he could ever say, "At some point you must forgive the rapist". The woman said, "I forgave him that night. He took one night from me, I will not let him have another day in my life".

Final mindset I want to confront

At times we rebel against God because of a false concept about suffering.

Listen to me, God IS NOT the author of suffering and pain. He may allow suffering, but He IS NOT the author of suffering. Suffering & pain is the result of the fall of man. Man gave the devil permission to rule on this earth and suffering came into existence. The devil takes advantage of this and tries to bring much misery into our life. God, if we allow Him always takes the devils actions and makes good come out of it. It as if God is getting back at the devil. Do you understand what I am saying?

So every time we encounter suffering, we can be assured that God is on our side. God is on your side if you are suffering. If you hear a voice saying otherwise, it is from the pit of hell. Make a conscious choice to refuse the lie that God is the author of pain and suffering.

God is on your side. I donít care if you are in pain because of bad choices. God is on your side. Yes, he may be disciplining you. Yes, you may be going through consequences of your behavior, but God is still on your side. That is the GOOD NEWS!!!

Even if you do not believe in God, He is on your side.

If you are blaming suffering on God, you need to repent from putting a characteristic of the devil on a holy, just, loving God.

Have we challenged any negative mindsets about suffering and pain?

I want you to repeat each of these statements with me.

I am going to get past my painful circumstances. (repeat with me)

The pain I am going through is not as bad as I think. (repeat with me)

My pain is not a justification for my wrong attitudes or behavior. (repeat with me)

I need to stop blaming God for my suffering. (repeat with me)

Everything I am going through is Godís way to help bring transformation in my life.

Now, do you believe it.

I have one more point before I finish. It actually is the most important point. If you grasp it, you will get the victory over the pain you are going through.
 

Change in our lives  is for the sake of others, not ourself.
The changes, transformation, that God wants to bring into your life is not just for you. It is not just to make you a better person. Listen to me. When Jesus returns, we will receive a glorified body. We will be a holy, spiritual being. We will be without sin. So, God does not need to bring change in our life to just make us a better person for our sake, or to get into heaven. We are going to heaven because of the price Jesus paid for us. It is by faith, not by how good we may become.

The number one reason God wants to mold us more into the image of Jesus, is so that we can win more people to Jesus. We have an obligation to allow God to mold and shape us for the sake of souls.

When you have a passion for souls, you will be willing to change and grow into the image of Jesus. You will be willing to go through whatever it takes to change. You will fight through depression. You will be willing to make sacrifices. You will be willing to experience losses.

I am alive today because souls were more important to me than my pain. There was people I wanted to see get to heaven. When I could not live for myself, I lived for their souls.

Are you going through hell right now? Then ask God to give you a burden for souls that really are going to hell if you donít share the gospel with them. Not to lessen the pain you are going through (even though it will actually help lessen the pain you are going through). Our pain is nothing like the pain in hell. I pray you will get a revelation of this. 

Altar Call
Has this message challenged you? Has it helped you? Are you willing to be set free from the consuming pain? Are you ready to stop resisting the change that God wants to do in your life?

If you are going through emotional or mental pain right now, do you want to be free from itís power? Then let the devil know you are no longer going to listen to his lies and stand up right now.

Have you been resisting the changes that God wants to do in your life? Are you willing to start cooperating with God instead of resisting? If so, will you be brave enough to stand up?

Maybe you are walking in victory. Do you know someone that is in bondage to pain?  Then how about standing in the gap for them? Let us pray for them to be set free. Stand up if you want to pray for them.

Are you experiencing physical pain? I did not touch on this, but even physical pain God can use to mold and shape us. However, I also believe that God is a God who heals bodies. If you need healing to your body, then receive prayer tonight for your body.

Listen I have the faith to believe that God will do a transforming work in your life tonight. He will change your course to line up with His will. He will bring freedom and deliverance. Come to the altar right now. As we pray for you, be very brief, but specific about why you stood up. Expect God to do a miracle. Do not limit His deliverance for you.

 

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