We started out this series entitled, “Walking in the Favor of God” being reminded that to increase in God’s favor first requires opposition, resistance, and often, difficult circumstances. God’s will for permitting this difficulties is not to break us nor cause harm to us. These difficulties are temporary seasons to bring about revelation and increase in our faith and to create the potential for us to grow and increase God’s favor in our lives. Even as His word reminds us:
Lamentations 3:25-27 (MSG)
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing to stick it out through the hard times.
That message was just a few months ago. How many here have been dealing with unexpected difficulties since then?
This morning, we’re going to continue on this theme and to dive in a little deeper into this matter.
Now, it’s no surprise to any of us that we live in a world that has fallen far from God’s plan for mankind. As a result of sin, missing God’s perfect bullseye for us, we live in a world full of troubles and conflict. We experience pain, sickness, death, sorrow, and loneliness.
This reality is just as true for both the Christian as well as it is for the lost. Anyone who believes that to follow Jesus is to somehow escape the troubles of this world has obviously not read the actual gospel. The good news is not a struggle free life for one who puts their faith in Jesus, the good news is that there is an ultimate victory promised to one who puts their faith in Jesus and a promise to never go through those struggles alone.
In fact, as we read the pages of the New Testament, we read that to choose to follow Jesus was to exponentially increase the troubles in your life. It was to willingly accept persecution, often even to the point of death. Four of Paul’s letters, which became books of our New Testament, were written from prison, a sentence given simply because of his faith in Jesus. In fact, Jesus several times warned people of the cost of following Him:
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Though there is a cost to following Jesus, though it may mean persecution and difficulties beyond those already experienced in life, there is a benefit that far exceeds them all. Choosing to follow Jesus is not for the faint of heart, it is not a decision that quitters should ever consider, it is not for wimps. There is, however, a reason why following Jesus is worth it all. Listen to what Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 11:23b-30
23 I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Why would Paul be willing to lay down his honored and comfortable life to follow Jesus and take on such difficulties? He gave the reason earlier in his same letter.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Paul experienced more troubles and hardships for following Jesus than we likely ever will in our lifetimes. However, he considered them light and momentary troubles that were achieving for him an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. In the same way, when we face troubles and difficulties in life, we can do so with hope! It’s going to be worth it all!
29 Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In life, we will face difficulties and challenges; there will be troubles. This is no different for the Christian as it is for the lost. However, for the one who trusts in Jesus, there is given a promise that brings hope. We have the very word of God as a promise that though we have troubles, we do not lose heart because through Jesus, we WILL overcome them all.
Take Jesus as an example for our lives. Though our Heavenly Father permitted Him to suffer severely for a moment, He raised Him to life and exalted Him above all things for all eternity.
There are often times when God’s salvation broke through at the midnight hour. It was when hope was nearly lost that God came rushing in to save the day. Think of Lazarus in the grave for four days, Jesus in the tomb for three days after being tortured and crucified, Joseph left for dead, sold into slavery, and wrongfully imprisoned, Paul and Silas singing hymns in jail literally at midnight, Paul shipwrecked, David on the run for his life from Saul, Israel stuck between the Red Sea and the closing in Egyptian chariots.
The truth is that it is never too late and there is nothing too hard for our God! We can trust our Heavenly Father, especially when difficulties and troubles come our way. We can walk in His favor by remaining faithful to Him and waiting patiently on His salvation knowing that ultimately, He has good planned for us.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, 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.
Yes, we will have troubles in life. However, this morning, God is reminding you that you are an overcomer. Through Jesus, you are more than a conqueror. You walk with the strength, power, and authority of the one, true, living God. Nothing is too difficult for you because you never face anything alone. The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grave and seated Him on high lives in you! You are never alone in the battle, the King of Kings is always right by your side. Even as God’s word says:
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (KJV)
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Psalm 30:5b (NKJV)
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Keep fighting the good fight of faith. Cling to the promises of God and keep your eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfector of your faith. Never give up and never lose hope. This season is temporary and will come to an end. The glory and heavenly reward that it is earning you, as you walk in the favor of God, will last forever!
To them that overcome… Those words of Jesus are the introduction to an invitation. The one who overcomes is invited to sit with Jesus on His throne. They have the opportunity to sit on the throne of the ultimate and highest power and authority over all things.
Why? Because Jesus was given that throne for also facing troubles and difficulties unimaginable and yet overcoming them all.
I would like for us all right now to close our eyes. Right now, think of the greatest trouble that you are facing. I encourage you not to downplay or minimize it, but to allow that gripping sense of fear and overwhelming lack of control over it to rise up. Allow it to be the mountainous, dark giant that it presents itself to be.
Now see this above that giant of your troubles:
11 Heaven standing open and there before you is a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Now, He stretches out his hand to your and pulls you up onto that brilliantly white horse; seated behind him on the saddle. Together, you wage war against that trouble and, overcome it, and victoriously triumph over it.
Now, open your eyes. That is exactly what is happening in the spiritual realms throughout your season of battle. You are not alone in it and your God is far greater than it could ever be. Together with Christ, you are an overcomer!