Glorify God in Your Trials

Abed_nego2

Well-Known Member
Key Verse – 1 Peter 4:16, “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name”

Our Text - 1 Peter 4:12-17
Our Theme – God wants us to purpose to glorify Him in our trials.
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Introduction

All of us have lived long enough to know life isn’t always easy and we will eventually go through some kind of trial or suffering. You may feel like things are going along pretty well and then suddenly, your life changes, like the flip of a light switch, and now you are going through trials in your life. If so, endure this training patiently. He can turn the trial into a blessing, and use it to draw you closer to His heart and into His Word, teaching you the lessons He intends for you to learn.

As believers in Christ, we must always remember that, “God’s love does not keep us from trials, but sees us through them”. Somehow, in God’s way of making things work out, our troubles can advance His kingdom and purposes. Our task is to glorify God, no matter what the circumstances. If we do, our struggle can direct others to the Savior as we make our way toward our ultimate goal of rest and reward in heaven.

Psalm 119:71 puts it this way, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” – Affliction, when we accept it with humility, can be instructive, a discipline that leads us to a deeper, fuller life. Psalm 119:67 David said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray,” but now I keep your Word. Peter would agree, affliction leads us not to live for ourselves “but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).
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In our study, Peter was writing to new believers in Christ. They had trusted Him as their Lord and Savior in the belief that He would (as He promised) give them new life, which He did. However, now they were facing trials and many of those trials were because of their faith. They were confused and maybe a bit disillusioned. Peter responds with the words in our study.
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The Believer’s Attitude in Relation to Suffering

A. Expect Suffering - 1 Peter 4:12, “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”

Have you ever heard someone suggest that if you just trust Jesus, He’ll solve all your problems and you’ll float through life with riches and peace? Apparently, some suffering believers were thinking that something had gone astray with the divine plan. They reasoned that the godly shouldn’t suffer, especially unjustly, at the hands of God’s enemies. Peter tells us trials are part of the blue print as God transforms redeemed sinners into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). Trials sometimes serve as God’s smelting furnace where the impurities of self-love, self-pity, pride, bitterness, lack of concern for others, and sinful desires are removed by God’s strong but loving hand. Other times God uses trials to open ministry opportunities and further His work. Suffering should not surprise us because the Bible clearly tells us that there will be trials.

(1) In the Old Testament, we are presented with the stories of people who were severely tested in their faithfulness. I’m mindful of Joseph, David, Job and many others. In the New Testament we are warned:

(a) That blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10);
(b) “In the world you will have tribulation but take courage, for I have overcome the world” (John 6:33).

(c) Listen how the apostle Paul described his ministry recorded for us in (2 Corinthians 6:4-10, “Rather as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything).

(d) The book of Hebrews tells us to “endure hardship as discipline” (Hebrew 12:7); and, (e) James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).
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(2) the reason we should not be surprised is because Jesus Himself faced trials. Jesus told His disciples, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). Thus, trials are a part of being a follower of Jesus Christ and according to Scripture suffering has different purposes, such as:

(a) Some trials are meant to correct us while some are designed to deepen us. Just like dryness causes a plant to root deep for moisture, so in the time of trials we must deepen our faith.

(b) Some trials are given as platforms from which we can demonstrate our faith. When we are faithful even though life is hard, the world listens more carefully. Job did nothing wrong but his faithfulness in suffering proved the validity of His faith.

(c) Some trials serve as a training ground for a future ministry (we learn compassion often by what we suffer). Think about how Joseph suffered for many years but God was using all those experiences to put him in a place where he could save his entire family during the famine in Egypt.

(d) Much of the time we have no idea why we are going through difficult times. When hard times do come and they will, the preliminary question needs to be; have I caused or provoked this suffering by some sin or some sinful attitude? If we see some sin we should repent and work to correct the rebellious attitude. If we don’t see any problems, then our job is to entrust ourselves to the Lord in the confidence that He is using the trial for His good purpose that we don’t yet see.
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B. Rejoice in Suffering - 1 Peter 4:13-14, “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”

Rejoicing is a matter of both attitude and activity. The attitude produces the activity. Peter’s readers would have no cause to rejoice in trials that resulted from their own failures. However, they could and should rejoice in the prospect of unjust suffering. If they were sharing in Christ’s sufferings, they were assured that they would also share in His glory hereafter. We can rejoice when we suffer for being a Christian when:

(1) we are overlooked for promotion or not hired because of our relationship with Jesus Christ;

(2) we endure hardships to proclaim the truth of God (like missionaries) or we are arrested for refusing to compromise what the Bible has clearly stated and (3) we are going through a deep time of testing and we are working hard to remain faithful

Peter says we can and should rejoice in our trials/suffering for several reasons.

(1) because, in our trial we are identified with Christ (13). The logic here is simple: when people treat us like they treated Christ it shows that they see Him in us. When we live for Christ, we become a contrast to the ways of the world. We become sort of the “conscience” society. People sometimes feel guilty around us not because of anything we say but because of the lives we live. However, instead of dealing with their sin, they would rather attack us. We are told the disciples rejoiced that they were considered worthy of suffering for the name of Christ. They considered it an honor to be so associated with Christ that others treated them as they treated Him.

(2) suffering reveals the depth of our faith. When we are willing to suffer for the glory of God as Christ has suffered, we reveal the true nature of our faith. We can claim to be or be able to do all kinds of things. We may say we are a good cook, that we have musical ability, that we can hit a major league fastball, that we are an artist, that we are a craftsman, that we are a good public speaker. You can claim anything. However, the proof is when you demonstrate your professed ability.

In the same way, anyone can say they are a follower of Christ and is easy to say. The claim is tested when they are put in a position where it is going to cost them something (comfort, popularity, inconvenience, pain, or even our lives). When we endure suffering because of our faith in Him, we demonstrate that our claim to trust Him is valid and true. Romans 8:17 says, “if we suffer with Christ, we will also be glorified with Him”.

(3) we experience the strengthening of the Holy Spirit. Peter says, “ If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

In the times of suffering, we often feel like we have been abandoned by God. In truth, He is closer to us than ever. The times of heartache are often the times when we discover the Lord in the most profound ways. We learn a new dependency and discover His deep strength and sufficiency. No one earns a degree without passing tests. These tests are designed to motivate us and to measure what we have learned. Trials do the same thing. They motivate us, deepen us, and reveal the true nature of our faith. He tests us so WE can see the depth of our faith, which (He already knows). If we could talk to the saints of old, we would discover that their greatest spiritual moments came while in the furnace of trials such as:

(1) Abraham on Mount Moriah where he was told to offer his son as a sacrifice or Moses learning to depend upon God in the wilderness; (2) David trusting God while Saul was trying to kill him or Job’s faith in the horrible trials he experienced; (3) Elijah learning to hear the still small voice in a cave during his time of depression or Esther when she had to face her fear in approaching King Xerxes, and (4) Stephen who saw Jesus most clearly at the trial that led to his stoning and Paul who said the thorn in his flesh taught Him that God’s grace was sufficient and that those times when he felt most helpless, he actually discovered his greatest strength.
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C. Suffering should not come from doing wrong - 1 Peter 4:15, If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler”

It is amazing what sins God groups together, while we divide them into categories, such as extremely evil, moderately evil, and tolerable. God puts covetousness on the same par as fornication (Colossians 3:5) or malice with blasphemy (Colossians 3:8). 1 Peter 4:15 condemns the busybody right along with the murderer. “Busybody” literally means “a supervisor of things not one’s own.” We might say, “a self-appointed overseer.” Sometimes when Christians experience criticism the critics are justified because those believers are busybodies, seeking to supervise things outside their control. God is not pleased with self-appointed overseers.
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D. Glorify God in suffering - 1 Peter 4:16, “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name”

This brings a new dimension into the picture of suffering. Not only is the believer to bear up under the trials without complaining, but he/she is actually to glorify God in those trials. To glorify God means to bring praise and adoration to Him. We do this by crediting God with our words and by living as God desires before others. It is the responsibility of believers to respond to afflictions in a godly manner. Doing so demonstrates that the Spirit of Christ is resting on them and it glorifies the Father and His Son (Mathew 5:16).
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E. Judgment of the believer and unbeliever - 1 Peter 4:17-18, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

“What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And “Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Unbelievers face God’s unchangeable law of sowing and reaping in this life. They may reap the penalty of wrongdoing from civil governments, but God is not in the business of purifying or judging the non-Christian in this life, as is continuously the case for the child of God.

Peter’s message is that if God has permitted, yes, even directed, suffering and judgment to come upon His own people for whom Christ died, how much more serious His judgment will be upon those who actually persecute His children and consciously rejected His gospel. The sin of those without Christ was twofold: first, their persistent rejection of the truth, and second, their willful persecution of the believers without cause. Two categories are mentioned:

(1) the sinners, those who acts were contrary to the will of God, and
(2) the ungodly, those who have omitted God from life and thoughts even though they may be regarded as upright in conduct.

God’s judgment for such people is held in restraint today so that grace and mercy may prevail and produce repentance (Romans 2:4). But every day’s delay in obeying the gospel adds to the storehouse of God’s wrath (Romans 2:5). While suffering may come for doing right, we should never bring it upon ourselves by doing wrong. The unbelievers - will suffer their just punishment in due time.
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Making it personal:

(1) Be Prepared - we are living in a society that is becoming increasingly hostile to the ways of Christ. People don’t like the idea of a standard to truth that does not change. They don’t like the idea of ultimate accountability. They don’t like the notion of our need for a Savior. When we hold to Biblical standards, we are called hate-mongers, narrow-minded, extremist, empty-headed and much worse.

Are there Christians who are mean and insensitive? Yes. But they are the exception, not the rule. Some are putting all Christians into the “dangerous-extremist” category. Talk show host Rosie O’Donnell even said “Christians are much more dangerous than radical Islamic terrorists”. Ponder the implications of those words. I believe we are going to increasingly be faced with choices that force us to choose between peace with the world and faithfulness to God and what His Word tells us. We need to be prepared to endure suffering and abuse in order to remain true to the gospel, and to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who purchased us with His own precious blood.
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(2) Commit ourselves to God - Peter tells us to commit ourselves to our faithful Creator. The key to surviving any difficult time is to realize that God is in control. He has a plan even when the world feels like it is out of control. In every difficult time we must ask the simple question: Do I trust my circumstances or do I trust the one who is Lord over the circumstances. If God is truly in control and he loves us . . . we should rest in Him. It is the height of foolishness to wait until trials come to learn to walk with Christ. That is like waiting until there is a fire to put gas or water in the fire truck! We must be prepared for difficult times. We get prepared by learning to walk with God now. We prepare for difficult times by learning to trust Him in the good times.
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(3) Continue to do what is good - when people attack us, it is always tempting to respond in kind. Harsh words are met with harsh words, intimidation with intimidation, aggression by aggression. God calls us to respond as Christ would respond. We are to meet hostility with grace, kindness, and a desire to show love. We must not let the conflict keep us from our mission: to share the gospel of Christ with those who are lost and in need.

Will this be easy? It will not be. Life is not easy. Jesus told followers to “count the cost” before they signed on as His followers. He warns us that following Him will make us targets of the Devil and the sinful world around us. God does not promise to shield us from heartache or pain. He promises that those who trust Him will find His strength in the tough times. Those who trust Him in the hard times will discover that He is more sufficient to meet our needs than we ever imagined He could be when the times were good.
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Closing thoughts:
A young man looked forward to joining the U. S. Marine Corps after high school. But after just 3 weeks in boot camp, he wanted out. After he got an administrative discharge, he said, “I didn’t know it would be that hard.” Like that recruit, many Christians are surprised by life’s trials. But just as this young man should have known what he was getting into, we too have been warned that the life of a follower of Christ is not all fun and games.

1 Peter 4:12 we read, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” The clear message: “Don’t be surprised by trials.” That doesn’t sound like good news, but it’s not the whole story. Consider the reassuring words of Romans 8:18, where Paul declared that our present sufferings cannot compare with the glory that will be ours in heaven. Our trials will be over, and everlasting joy will follow.

Trials are an inescapable part of this life. But God’s Word assures us that they will turn to joy in the morning of His heavenly presence. Facing tough times? Lean on God, and be encouraged by the glory that will someday replace those trials.
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God designs what we go through; we decide how we go through it.
 
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