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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When Trials Abound

Hebrews 11:24-27, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”

There are times in everyone’s life where the stresses and disappointments of everyday life reach their climax, where things have built up for so long, that it finally overflows. Young and old, male and female, all go through these seasons where emotions just bottleneck, and build up. Each disappointment serves to add just a little more pressure, each hardship just a little more steam until finally it all boils over.

A recent study done on divorced couples, shows that an overwhelming percentage divorces do not occur because of just one big thing, but a building up of allot of small things. It is the human condition, and with the fluctuations in the global economy, and uncertainty concerning tomorrow, men and women of all backgrounds seem to be reaching that breaking point more than ever before.

There is one silver lining in this otherwise dark cloud, and that silver lining is that we are not of the world. Yes, we as children of God might be in the world, but we are not of it. We tend to so readily forget the promise of Jesus that He would give us peace, but not as the world does. We tend so readily to overlook the source of joy, the source of comfort, the source of healing, and the source of peace, because we are trying to do it on our own, to employ earthly means, and follow steps by which we will attain our happiness.

Often times, the world looks to us, and at us to see how we handle these stresses, to see how we handle these hardships and trials that come upon us. The world wants to see if we react differently, if we follow through on our assertions that in Jesus we find our peace and our joy. So what can we learn from the life of Moses that will show us what we must do when we just can’t go on anymore?

For the first forty years of his life Moses wanted to be somebody. Moses wanted to be someone important, someone people would look up to, and someone with authority. Moses desired to know all the wisdom of Egypt and the Bible tells us that he succeeded in attaining this knowledge. We must also keep in mind that there were not a people more advanced, more educated, and more civilized than the Egyptians during that time in history. Recent archeological discoveries even point to the fact that the Egyptians were practicing what amounts to modern medicine, performing surgeries and understanding human anatomy at a very advanced level. Never mind the fact that recently they discovered something very similar to light bulbs, and that the pyramids even to this day stand as a marvel of ancient craftsmanship. So when it says that Moses acquired all the wisdom of Egypt, it is not something to be readily dismissed.

It’s amazing to me that although thousands of years separate us from the time of Moses, man hasn’t changed much. We like to think of ourselves as progressive, as smarter than those that came before us, but the underlying nature of what makes us has remained the same throughout the history of man.

If the first forty years of the life of Moses is similar to the lives of many today, having achieved a certain level of education, soon to be promoted as ruler of the people of Egypt, the next forty years are very strange indeed. At the height of his learning, at the height of his success, Moses leaves it all behind and for forty years becomes a shepherd, tending sheep that weren’t even his.

So basically it took Moses forty years to become something, and it took him another forty years to become nothing. Before God could use him, Moses had to see himself as a mere vessel. He had to be molded and chiseled for forty years before God found him ready for service. So to summarize the life of this man who lived for one hundred and twenty years, forty years were spent learning to be someone, forty years were spent learning to be no one, and forty more years were spent in the service of God.

It is through the life of this great man of the Bible that we are taught what to do when we reach our wit’s end, when we can’t go on another step, when the proverbial straw breaks the proverbial camel’s back.

What do we do in those moments when we just want to throw our hands up in the air, and go find a quiet place somewhere far away to just be alone, by ourselves?

The first thing we must do is rediscover our identity. Remember who we are, remember who our Father is, and remember His promises to us. Now by your identity, I don’t mean your driver’s license number, or your social security number, but who you are. The knowledge of self is the knowledge of one’s true identity.

The Word of God tells us that He knows those who are His. The Word tells us that He knows His children by name. If you are a child of God, do you identify yourself as such? Do you acknowledge the beauty and majesty that is being reconciled unto Him, of being called His beloved?

Some people can lose their identity even while sitting in church. As Jesus wrote to one of the seven churches in Revelation, ‘you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’

Know thyself! Know that you are a child of the almighty God who spoke the universe into being.

Even though Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house, and everyone called him the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses never forgot who he was. As we read in Hebrews, when he became of age, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he knew who he was. Instead of being comfortable, instead of enjoying the passing pleasures of sin, and instead of being in a place of privilege, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God.

Moses never forgot that he was not Egyptian; he never forgot that He was a child of God; he never desired to be something other than what he was. Moses never forgot that God gave him an eternal name and that he had an eternal calling.

So many of us like to play the ‘if only’ game with ourselves. If only I was as handsome as that man, if only I was as beautiful as that woman, if only I had his money, if only I had his education, if only I had his charisma, if only we had their relationship. It seems everybody wants to be somebody else; everybody has adopted this mentality that the grass is greener on the neighbor’s lawn. Surely they don’t have any worries, surely they don’t have any problems; surely they don’t have any disappointments. Yet the people we aspire to be most often, the people we wish we were, seem to have the most miserable lives, the most horrible of addictions, and the most heartbreaking of divorces.

Moses didn’t want to be somebody else, he said ‘I don’t want your name, I know who I am, and I am different.’

Once we rediscover our identity in Jesus, we realize that what we once deemed as worthless is priceless in the eyes of God. Yes, you are priceless in the eyes of God. God sent His son to die, to expire upon a cross, for you, for me, for all of us. In God’s eyes you are priceless!

Do you realize that at this moment in time, billions of angels are warring against billions of demons, for your soul? A war is raging in the unseen realm for the soul of even the most irrelevant and unimportant of men. And such is the love of God for you that this war will rage until the return of Christ.

Know who you are in Jesus! Not because we are anything but because He is everything. You were bought with a price, and it was not with anything as trivial as silver or gold, but with the blood of the only begotten Son of God. You have been redeemed, you have been plucked out of the darkness and brought into the light, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and as such you can stand before your heavenly Father, and speak to Him and He will hear you!

Just pour out your heart, just be honest with Him. He is Abba He is Father, and when you feel like you can’t go on, He will carry you. There is strength in Him, there is power in Him, there is peace in Him; there is comfort in Him. Go to Him; know who you are in Him.

You are not insignificant. You are the one for which the heavens parted, and the Son came down to be born in a manger and hang on a cross. You are the one for which the greatest price ever to be paid as ransom, was paid. How can you say nobody loves you, when He has already proven just how much He does?

Moses knew who he was, he knew he was a child of God, and he would not demean himself, he would not be less than what he truly was by saying he was the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses knew he was not an orphan, and you my dear friend ought to know that you are not an orphan either. Our God reigns, He is King, and He is father.

The second thing we must do when we just can’t go on, is remember where we belong! We live in a divided world, everyone belonging to their little factions, everyone congregating in their own groups. Yes, the world is divided between rich and poor, between educated and uneducated, between people with a name, and nameless people; one can see the divisions wherever they choose to look, even between literate and illiterate.

Although in the eyes of the world there are countless fractions, divisions, and camps God only divides the world in two, God only sees one distinction by which He forms two camps: The saved and the unsaved.

He doesn’t see Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, He doesn’t see sick and healthy, rich or poor. God knows only two categories. Saved and unsaved.

There aren’t many paths; there are only two, the narrow path and the wide path. There aren’t many doors; there are only two, the door that leads to the kingdom of God, and the door that leads to eternal sorrow. There aren’t many foundations; there are only two foundations upon which we can build; the foundation built upon sand, and the foundation built upon the rock. Countless souls today are building their homes upon the sand, trusting in fleeting doctrines, and materialistic teaching, trusting in themselves, rather than the authority of God, countless souls build and build only to discover that it’s sinking, crumbling and falling to the ground.

A happiness built upon possessions will cease to be when the possessions cease to be. A happiness built upon the pleasures of the flesh, will cease to be when good health ceases to be. Nothing built upon the temporal can last in perpetuity.

We need to know who we belong to; we need to know where we belong. If you are a child of God, then you belong to Him, you belong on the narrow path, you must walk through the door named Jesus, and build your house upon the rock that is the Word of God.

When we know who we belong to, when we know where we belong we walk in authority, because we know who our Father is. When David confronted Goliath, he said to him “you come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

David knew who he belonged to, and where he belonged. This knowledge fueled his courage, and as he looked upon the giant of a man, arrayed in his armor, carrying all manner of weapons, he was fearless in the face of his enemy.

The third thing we must do when we just can’t go on, is understand that the entire purpose of our existence is knowing who to please. When we acknowledge that we exist to please God, we discover the joy of serving our Creator with love and zeal.

Consider the countless times Moses should have just thrown up his hands in frustration, if not for the knowledge that he belonged to God, and that God had a plan for him. For forty years he suffered in the depths of his heart because he could not be with his people, until finally one day he snapped, and killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. He fled, and became a shepherd for another forty years, tending to the flock of another, until God spoke to him through a burning bush and told him to go and bring Israel out of Egypt.

We all know of the plagues, and the constant hardship Moses endured while trying to get the Pharaoh to release the people of Israel from their bondage, until finally one day Pharaoh said, ‘go take your people and go.’

I imagine at this point Moses breathed a sigh of relief, thinking to himself that the road would get much easier from this point forward. At the age of eighty, as he was leading the people out of Egypt I doubt it crossed his mind that he would have to endure another forty years of the people murmuring every day, of the people doubting God, of building idols, of being hated by those who had forgotten the whips and the chains of their captivity, and now looked back on their time as slaves with fondness.

They even came to the point of wanting to kill Moses, crying out ‘where is God, we’re in the desert starving, and we miss the meat and bread of Egypt.’

They had seen God making a way for them, yet because of their murmuring rather than forty days, they wandered through the desert forty years. Through it all however, Moses kept his eyes firmly affixed on God. Moses didn’t try to please everybody, sure he heard their opinions, he heard their quarreling, but in the end his desire was to please God, and only God.

So often in this life we try to please everybody and end up making a mess of our lives. We get stressed out and resentful and run ourselves ragged because we’re just trying to please everyone all the time. We try to please our children, yet they are never pleased, we try to please our neighbors, yet they still won’t talk to us, we try to please our leaders, yet they still take advantage of us. We care too much about what they might think, how they will view us, what they will whisper about us when we’re not there. We’re so busy wondering what people think of us that we forget to ask what God thinks of us. Stop trying to please everybody, and just try to please God and you will know comfort and peace and joy. When we please God, we have achieved our highest purpose.

I can’t say that I know the key to success, as the world would view success, because my desire has always been to just walk humbly with my Lord, and work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I do however know the guaranteed path to failure, and that is trying to please everybody all the time.

Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Just meditate on this verse for awhile, let it make its way into your heart that you may understand the true depth of its profundity. When you seek to please the Lord, and only the Lord, He will make even your enemies be at peace with you. You will never be able to please people, but if you desire to please the Lord, He will change the hearts of men that they might be at peace with you. Just please God, keep your eyes on God, follow after God, and He will work all things out.

If my ways please the Lord, I don’t care who criticizes me; if my way please the Lord I don’t care what people think of me; all that matters is that I please my Lord and my God.

The last thing we must do whenever we feel overwhelmed by the trials and circumstances of this life, is focus on our destination. Yes we are on a journey, and focusing on our destination gives us strength to carry on, to press ever onward, and to see the end that is in sight.

I drive many miles in any given year, and each time I am returning from a speaking engagement somewhere in the country, I always check the miles to my destination. Every thirty minutes or so, I know that I will have close to forty miles less to travel, and that I am forty miles closer to home. With each passing day, we are one day closer to our destination, we are one day closer to our eternal home; we are one day closer to Jesus. Focus on your destination, and let God plan your route.

Israel wandered through the desert for forty years not because they got lost, but because they did not follow God’s plans. They rebelled against God’s route, they rebelled against the destination that God had planned for them, and so they wandered through the desert for so long that at one point they even considered making the desert their home.

Always remember that this earth is not our destination, it is the desert we must traverse in order to get to where we are going. We are journeying toward our Canaan, toward the place that Jesus went to prepare for us, and this knowledge should serve to encourage and embolden us even in our darkest hour.

Of all the peoples of Israel, three men did not forget that their journey had a specific destination in mind. Moses, Caleb, and Joshua always remembered that their journey would end, for forty years they knew that one day they would reach Canaan.

You were not called to perish in the desert of this world, but to reach your eternal home, your destination, where there is no tear, no death, no sadness, where Jesus is our light, and where we will be in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

Today I pray from the depths of my heart that we would know who we are, that we would know we are the children of the most high God, that we would seek to please Him and only Him, that we would have our destination firmly at the forefront of our minds, and that we would walk, that we would persevere, that we would press ever onward, remembering all the benefits, all the blessings, all the mercy and all the grace that God has so bestowed upon all of us. I pray also that we never forget He is with us, He guides us whether by a pillar of fire by night, or a cloud by day, God is always there urging us on, ready and able to help us when we need it. We serve a good God, a God who loves His children, and a God who desires nothing less than eternal life for all who believe in His Son Jesus.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bless you, Michael, I needed to hear such words of encouragement!

Thank you!

Linda B.

Anonymous said...

"Focus on your destination, and let God plan your route." "Always remember that this earth is not our destination, it is the desert we must traverse in order to get to where we are going."

Thanks for a wonderful post, Michael. Those two quotes really impacted me. We surely need your encouraging words in these times. It's good to know that even a person such as yourself, who receives special revelations from the Lord and has an extraordinary calling, understands the danger of becoming influenced by worldly-minded people. May the Lord continue to inspire us through you. I continue to look to you as pastor because I cannot find a church group that understands our times. Most believe they are going to be "air-lifted" before tribulation comes, or else that Christ's coming will not occur in their lifetime. Please lead us through the wilderness, dear pastor, far, far from Egypt!

Interceding for you,

Melanie

Anonymous said...

Michael-
well said and thank you for the encouragement. The body so desperately needs encouragement in this hour. Cale