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The Refreshment of the Spirit in Times of Trial | Why God Allows Hardship

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2024 3:00 am

The Refreshment of the Spirit in Times of Trial | Why God Allows Hardship

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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April 24, 2024 3:00 am

It’s been said that, when we get to the end of our rope, we get to the beginning of God. A lot of truth in that statement. When we’re out of answers, and short on hope, God opens His supply of reassurance and direction. And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie has good insight for those challenging times. We’re glad you’ve joined us for his new series called “Refresh: What Every Christian Needs to Know.” Valuable information for believers who face the challenges of life.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. I would love to perpetually live on a mountaintop, never having an emotional low, but the reality is spiritual fruit does not grow on mountaintops, it grows in valleys. It's been said that when we get to the end of our rope, we get to the beginning of God.

A lot of truth in that statement. When we're out of answers and short on hope, God opens his supply of reassurance and direction. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie has good insight for those challenging times.

We're glad you've joined us for his new series called Refresh, What Every Christian Needs to Know, valuable information for believers who face the challenges of life. Have you ever been working on your computer and things sort of freeze? And I have a little bar all tapped trying to wake my computer up and sometimes it won't wake up.

I may have to restart it, reboot it, and effectively refresh it. In the same way in our lives as Christians, sometimes we find ourselves, well, a little bit down, a little bit frozen. We're not living the way we ought to be. It's not working as well for us. We're struggling spiritually.

That is not a 21st century phenomenon. Well, way back when the psalmist wrote these words in Psalm 42, my heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be. Can someone here say those words maybe today describing their life? There was a time when you were stronger spiritually than you are today.

And so you say, I remember how it used to be. And then the psalmist continues, I walked among the crowds of worshipers leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks. But then he honestly admits this. So why am I discouraged?

Why is my heart so sad? And that can happen to any of us. You can be in the middle of a worship service, you find yourself down, you're discouraged, you're sad. And I love it because in the middle of a psalm, he corrects himself. And he says, I will put my hope in God.

I'll praise him again, my Savior and my God. Sometimes I do that. I preach to myself.

I'll be thinking something down about this or concerned about that or something else. And I'll even say, Greg, shut up. I'm very close to myself so I can talk that way to myself. Greg, shut up. The Bible says, and sometimes I'll quote the Bible out loud to myself to sort of write my course.

Have you ever done that? Then the psalmist continues and says, as the deer longs her streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.

Here is what he is saying. I need some spiritual refreshment. And that is something God wants to give to every one of us. Remember in our last message we mentioned Ephesians 5 where Paul says, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourself in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord. In the original Greek that is a command. So the Lord is saying, I command you to be filled with the Spirit. Also in the Greek, it speaks of something that's continuous. In other words, the Lord is saying, I command you each and every day to be filled, refilled and filled again with the Holy Spirit.

So we need to ask God to fill us. And by the way, that isn't an emotional thing necessarily. As I illustrated, I don't know about you, but I don't have an emotional experience when I fill my car with gas. Or if you have an electric car, when you plug it into the wall, it's emotional. Well unless you're standing in water and you plug it in the wall, that will be very emotional. But no, the idea is that it's just something you do.

It's functional. And when you pray for God to fill you, it's not so much am I going to have an emotional experience, but rather am I going to receive this from the Lord. And that brings you refreshment. As Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, times of refreshment come from the presence of the Lord.

Listen. God wants to refresh you today, right here, right now. How does He do that? Well one way He does it is through reading and studying the Bible. Reading and studying the Bible. Because Psalm 19 says, the Word of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. Proverbs 25, 25 says, good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty. So as I read and study the Word of God it refreshes me.

Number two, this is really important. I will find myself spiritually refreshed when I think of other people more than myself. That's counterintuitive. It seems to me that if I want to be refreshed, if I want to be happy, I have to focus on my needs. And I will even find myself saying something along the lines of, I need more me time.

And you even use that voice which is especially obnoxious. I need more me time. You don't need more me time. You need more Jesus time. That is what is going to refresh you spiritually. And think of others.

Here is the reality. When I do things only for myself, that might bring a momentary happiness. But studies have found that selflessness brings happiness, not selfishness. They have even come up with a description of it. They call it the helper's high.

You know it. When you do something for someone else, it can be as simple as holding the door open for someone. Or helping someone load their groceries into their car. Or it might be providing some food for someone that is in need.

Or sharing your faith with someone. As you do that you find yourself replenished in the process. And we are told in Scripture, Proverbs 11 25, a generous person will prosper and whoever refreshes others will be refreshed himself.

Ok. So here is another thing that brings refreshment. And this one might surprise you. Spiritual refreshment comes from times of spiritual testing. God says in Isaiah 43 19, I am about to do something new. See I have already begun.

Don't you see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness and rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. So listen. Sometimes in the dry wastelands of life I will find God more than I find Him anywhere else. I would love to perpetually live on a mountain top.

Never having an emotional low. But the reality is spiritual fruit does not grow on mountain tops. It grows in valleys. But why do I have to go through trials as a follower of Jesus?

Here is the answer. James 1 verse 2. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. And know that when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow. And when your endurance is fully developed you will be perfect and complete.

We will stop there. One of the things that often happens when crisis comes our way. When hardship comes our way. Maybe it is trouble at work. Maybe it is trouble with your family. Maybe it is trouble with your health.

But whatever it is, is you ask why. Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve such a faith? I have been walking with the Lord. I have been reading His Word. I have been praying. I have been going to church. I am doing all the right things.

I am checking all the boxes. And this hardship is happening. Why?

Simple answer. For your own good. What?

Oh yeah. Trials are allowed in the life of the Christian for their own good. So you will grow up spiritually. In fact 1 Peter says, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through as though something strange were happening. Instead be glad for these trials make you partners with Christ and His suffering.

Look. It is not a matter of if you are going to have trials and hardship. It is just a matter of when. Jesus said, in this world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer. Of overcome the world.

So if you are taking notes here is point number one. God allows trials in the life of the Christian so we will grow up spiritually. Again God allows trials in our lives so we will grow up spiritually. J.B. Phillips translates verse four as follows.

Let this process go on until you have become men of mature character. Basically it is God testing you to see if you have learned the material. Back when I was in school I remember when the teacher would come out and say, Close your textbooks. We are having a pop quiz. All the nerds and the geeks got excited. They are all like yeah. And they even had voices like that. Not really but.

And I was not excited. And by the way we don't call them nerds and geeks anymore do we? We call them boss now.

We probably work for them. Isn't it interesting how the word geek is positive now. Right. So I can't get my computer working. I need a geek.

Help me someone. So they were excited. Why? Because they were prepared.

They had studied the material. I was not excited. Why? Because I was not prepared.

I had not studied. Instead I sat in the back of the classroom mocking people, creating disruptions, and perpetually being sent to the principal's office. Kids don't do this at home. I am a professional. Idiot.

So don't follow my example. But why would a teacher do that? They wanted to see if you were learning the material.

Guess what? God gives pop quizzes too. He wants to see if you are learning the material. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Well in today's study, Pastor Greg has been explaining how God often brings times of testing in our lives to see if we are learning the lessons he is teaching us.

It helps us grow and mature. Take as an example the children of Israel. Why did it take them 40 years to get from Egypt to Israel? I mean if they took their time they could have gotten there in 40 days.

If they picked up the pace they could have gotten there in three weeks or so. Why did they wonder like that? Because men were in charge and they would not stop and ask for directions. No that is not the reason.

Here is the real reason. Deuteronomy 8 says, remember how the Lord your God led you all this way in the wilderness 40 years. To humble you. To test you in order to know what was in your heart.

Whether you would keep his commandments or not. God allows tests in our life to humble us. Because sometimes we think we are all that and a bag of chips. We kind of believe our own presence. I am so awesome. I am so smart. I am so spiritual.

You might need to be humbled a little bit. And be brought back to reality. And so the Lord allows a test.

Here is a perfect illustration. Down in John chapter 6 a huge multitude gathered to hear Jesus. And it was lunch time. And people were hungry.

Maybe you heard their stomachs crumbling. You can set a clock to my stomach. I am ready to have lunch at 11 o'clock. Not 12. That is late to me. 11 o'clock. And I am ready for dinner at five by the way.

So they are hungry. And so I love this because Jesus goes to Philip. And actually says to him. Hey Philip. Where are we going to buy bread to feed all these people? Do you think Jesus was perplexing? What are we going to do? Philip help me.

No of course not. He knew exactly what he was going to do. In fact that verse goes on to say Jesus knew what he would do. But he was testing Philip. Philip. Where are we going to find bread?

Where are we going to buy bread to feed the people? Philip is like I have no idea. Andrew is standing nearby and he is listening. He says well there is this kid here with five loaves and two fish.

And then catching himself he says ah. But what is that among so many? So both of them effectively failed that test. What was the test? The test was can you trust God when you need food on your table? Can you trust God when you need your financial needs met? Can you trust God when you are having a challenge physically or in some other area? Can you believe that God will come through for you? He has after all promised to provide all of your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.

So trust him. And God will test you and retest you and retest you again. I had a physical recently. It tested my hearing. They tested my eyesight.

They tested everything. Why? I did this a year ago. Why am I doing this again? Because you need to be tested and retested. Why am I going through this trial right now?

Because you need to be tested and retested. Think of this another way. Instead of seeing these trials and challenges as horrible things could you possibly think of them as good things accomplishing a greater thing?

Another translation of James 1 is as follows. When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers don't treat them as intruders but treat them as friends they have come to test your faith and produce in you a quality of endurance. So let the process go on until the endurance is fully developed and you will find you become men and women of mature character.

Men and women of integrity with no weak spots. It is like going to the gym. How many of you like to go to the gym? You love to work out.

Wow. Not a real active bunch are you? Well I am actually one of you. I don't like to but I go to the gym a couple times a week. You would probably be surprised to hear that maybe just to remain mobile you know to stay in relatively good shape I would far rather skip it and sit around and eat donuts all day long. I love donuts. I watched a documentary the other day with my wife on donuts.

And why would you even watch something like that? I don't know but I did. And it is late at night and guess what I wanted? Donuts. Where can I buy a donut at 9.20 at night? Answer.

Probably nowhere. Unless it is a supermarket and those don't count. Those are not legit donuts. Ok. What are you anti-supermarket here?

I don't know. But you know you go to the gym. People do interesting things in gyms don't they?

There is a person that dominates all the equipment. They are like using three things at once and you want to get in there but they have got their own private circuit going on. Then there is the guy who makes loud noises when he lifts.

It is just. You know it is like seriously. He usually has headphones in. And it is the same guy that when he is done drops his weight.

Like drop boom it hits the ground. Then there is the person that gets on the treadmill and sweats on everything. There is like pools of perspiration.

People are fleeing in horror. Well why don't we go to the gym to show off. I don't know. You go and you break your muscle down to build it up. Ok trials are like God's gym where he breaks us down to build us up. Not to make us weaker but ultimately to make us stronger. Because character is not made in crisis. It is revealed.

Now think about Joe. Because some people when they have hardship they just turn against God. They walk away from God. I have heard people say I lost my faith. This crisis hit. This tragedy happened. I lost my faith.

Ok. Maybe that is good. What was your faith in? Listen. The faith that cannot be tested is the faith that cannot be trusted. What do you put in your faith in? Are you putting it in a person?

Are you putting it in the church? Listen. Put your faith in Christ and your faith will grow stronger through difficulty not weaker. So Joe. Poor old Joe. The problem with Joe is he never read the book of Job. Because if he had he would have realized that God was in control.

But he had not. He just woke up one morning and everything in his life collapsed. His children died. His career was gone. His health was gone. He probably wished his wife was gone too. Because of what she said to him. She looked at poor Joe losing everything covered head to toe in massive boils. And she says, why don't you just curse God and die? Thank you for those encouraging words Mrs. Job. I was kind of hoping for something a little more hopeful.

Right? But here is what Job did. He could have said, I don't want to believe in you anymore God. I have served you and this is what you give me.

No. Here is what we read. Job 1 21 he said, I came naked from my mother's womb and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord. And then it says Job did not sin by blaming God.

This is the whole thing. We turn to God in times of trial. What is the purpose of trials? Again to make us stronger spiritually. So iron will enter our soul. God is toughening you up for something He has in the future. And remember this. Even when things look bleak all things work together for God's glory. And your ultimate good. God has a plan.

God has a purpose. You never know. I heard a story. I actually read a story about a guy who was bitten by a great white shark. How many of you have been bitten by a great white shark? Ok. Nobody. Ok. Well this guy was bitten by a shark and the headline was, Man is bitten by great white and is thankful it happened.

I am like what? So I clicked this and here is what happened. This guy is out swimming. He is attacked by a great white shark. He is rushed to the hospital. And as they are doing surgery to save his life they see that there is a tumor on his kidney.

It is cancer. They remove the cancer and the man later said he was thankful for the shark attack because if the shark attack had not happened he would not have known of the cancer. Who would ever think you would give thanks to God for being bitten by a great white shark? They tried to contact the shark for comment but he was unavailable.

He was too busy looking for other people to bite. Hoping for a positive outcome. But anyway. So there is a really bad thing that turned out to be a really good thing. Even when things look bleak all things will ultimately work together for God's glory and your good. Important insight today on a new beginning from Pastor Greg Laurie's message called The Refreshment of the Spirit in Times of Trial. Many of us in hindsight can look back and see how God used the challenging times of our lives to bring about a greater good. You know it brings such a great sense of security to know that the Lord knows and cares for us.

In Deuteronomy we read the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. But maybe you have never entered into a relationship with the Lord. Pastor Greg what would you say about that?

I would say that God is just a prayer away. You know it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. Frankly it doesn't even take hours.

It can happen so quickly. It just starts with you saying to God I know I'm a sinner. I know that you love me. I know that you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sin and pay for those sins and then to rise again from the dead and I want him to come into my life. So here's my question to you.

Have you done that yet? Because Jesus who did die on that cross and rose again from the dead three days later is alive and standing at the door of your life right now and he's knocking and he's saying if you'll hear my voice and open the door I will come in. Why don't you just stop whatever it is you're doing and pray this prayer with me. Say Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner but I know that you are the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. I ask all of this in Jesus name.

Amen. Listen if you just prayed that prayer the Bible promises that God has heard your prayer and has answered that prayer. The Bible says that we will confess our sin.

He's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So God bless you. You've made the right decision. The decision to follow Jesus Christ. Yeah that's right and listen as you begin to live this new life we want to send you something to help you get started off right. It's Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible. It's an easy to understand translation. Plus hundreds and hundreds of study helps especially for those who are new to the faith.

It'll answer the questions you might have. So get in touch for your New Believers Bible. We'll send it free of charge. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300. Again that's 1-800-821-3300.

You can call us anytime night or day. Or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, CA 92514. Or just go online to harvest.org and click Know God. And then no doubt you've heard the name Levi Lusko. He's a pastor and an author and a good friend of ours. And he's just released a new devotional book for kids called Marvel at the Moon. Here's a sample of one of the devotions. This is Devotion number 5 of 90. In the Middle of the Milky Way Trust in Him at all times.

Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62 8 What's in the middle of the Milky Way galaxy? Well, it's not creamy chocolate and caramel. It's a supermassive black hole formed long, long ago by a dying star. It's named Sagittarius A. Scientists think Sagittarius A could be as big as 16 million miles across.

Our own sun is only about 865,000 miles across. The gravity of a black hole is so strong that it pulls in everything around it, even light. Once something gets sucked into a black hole, there's no escape. Emotions like anger, jealousy, worry, and fear can sometimes feel like a black hole, sucking all the joy and light from our lives. If we let those emotions explode onto the people around us, they can suck away all the joy and light too. If you're feeling angry, jealous, worried, or afraid, don't explode. And don't stuff your feelings inside and pretend you're not feeling the thing. Tell God everything you've been thinking and feeling.

You can even tell him you're upset with him. God is big enough to handle your biggest and toughest emotions. He'll help you escape them, and he'll pour his light and joy back into your life. Well, thanks to 10-year-old Titus for reading that for us.

That's good counsel, Pastor Levi, and all of the devotions are full of great counsel. This must have been a lot of fun to write this book. Oh, absolutely. I nerded out so much.

Just all of it. Even just thinking about things like what the astronauts had to go through before they could land on the moon. Many people don't know that before Neil Armstrong took that famous step after landing on the moon, he had already successfully landed on the moon 2,000 times in simulation. So the practice it took in the simulators, by the time he did it, it was muscle memory. It was honed. It was old hat.

He knew just what to do. And I compare that to us having quiet times. What are we doing when we pray and read scripture and go to church every week?

We're training for trials we're not yet in. And in a large way, we're as parents to get our kids ready for the difficulties, the trials, the hardships of life. We think about Daniel successfully praying when it meant going to the lion's den. Well, I think that it's far more significant that he prayed when he wasn't going to the lion's den. The Bible says that Daniel prayed as his custom was since early days.

So when his parents had him before he ended up in Babylon, he was training for trials he wasn't yet in. And I think if we teach our kids to do today what others won't do, they'll tomorrow be able to do what others can't do. Well, that's a great insight.

That's a key. We need to teach our kids how to pray, not just teach them a prayer. And in this new book, Marvel at the Moon, by my friend Levi Lusko, you're going to learn about that and a whole lot more. This is a book that will help you get started in devotions with the little ones, something you can read together, beautifully illustrated, about outer space and planets and all kinds of exciting things and what the Bible has to say about those things and also about our lives and the greatness of God. I encourage you to order your own copy of Marvel at the Moon by Levi Lusko, and we'll send it to you for your gift of any size. And whatever you send our way will be used to carry this ministry on to reach more people with the teaching of God's word and the proclamation of the gospel. Order your copy now.

Yeah, and it's easy to do. Just get in touch with your support and we'll thank you with this new book called Marvel at the Moon. And we'll only be able to mention this resource a short time longer. Call us anytime 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

Or go online to Harvest.org. Well next time, more insight on the challenging times of trial and suffering we may face and the way God will use those times to help us grow. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Lord. This is the day, the day when life begins The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-24 05:05:52 / 2024-04-24 05:17:13 / 11

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