When God takes you through trials, hardships, darkness, dark times, it's more than personal improvement.
It's purposeful improvement. Or I would even say it's purposeful movement that God is using the trial to position you for greater impact in this world. Today on Connect with Skip Heitig, Pastor Skip shares a message about how God uses your times of darkness for a greater purpose to impact this world for the kingdom. We share these messages to help you connect to God through His Word and grow in your relationship with Him through intentional study of scripture. And when you support this ministry, you keep these teachings you love available to you and to so many others around the world so they too can grow and connect with God. Just call 800-922-1888 to give a gift today. That's 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate.
Thank you. All right, we're in Genesis 39 as we join Skip for his message. I believe the hardest hearted, most unlovely Christians in all the world are those who never had much trouble. And those who are the most sympathizing, loving, and Christ-like are those that have had the most afflictions.
The worst thing that can happen to any of us is to have our path made too smooth. Dark times are permitted by God. The second certainty is that dark times enhance the presence of God. Dark times enhance the presence of God. I know that if I were to give you an open mic right now and say just shout out of experiences where you have experienced the presence of God, so many of you would say in the darkest moment of my life God showed up.
You would have that testimony. Look at verse 21. It says, but the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and he gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
So Joseph is put in prison but the Lord was with Joseph, the presence of God. I know it's true that when suffering happens to some people they walk away from God. That happens a lot.
I hear that a lot. Yeah, you know, I trusted God. I put my faith in him and he let this happen to me. So I just, I quit going to church, man. I quit reading my Bible.
I'm not praying. I'm not trusting God. If I trust God, then that happens to me. I know people who walk away when suffering happens, but I also know that it's true that many find God when they start suffering.
That is often what I find. I find that suffering doesn't move them away from God. Many times suffering moves them right toward God.
It's the time they get woken up out of their lethargy, out of their sleep. God gets their attention. So you might say pain moves people in different directions, toward God or away from God. I've often said pain and suffering will either break your back or bend your knee. I guess you need to choose today what you're going to let that be.
Is it going to break your back or is it going to bend your knee? Sometimes people suffer and they get bitter. I find that. They turn inward. They get angry. They're resentful. They're filled with self-pity.
Other people go through suffering. They don't get really bitter. I just say they get battered. They just get beat up. They hold on, sort of like they white-knuckle it. They grit their teeth. They weather the storm.
They make it through barely. So some get bitter, some get battered, but then there are others who actually get better. They become better people. And that's not just a preacher's talking point.
It's absolutely true. They become better people. I'm going to put up a letter that I got recently from Jen. She said, I grew up in Calvary and by your teachings when I was 16 I gave my life to the Lord. However, when I turned 18 years old I rebelled. Now I find this to be a pretty regular pattern.
For the majority of my adult life I lived how I wanted. Then this virus hit and it was a wake-up call. The wake-up call that I needed. Four weeks ago I rededicated my life to the Lord. And she said, I have never experienced such peace in my heart. I am hungry.
I love this. Ravenous even for the word. I know that the Holy Spirit is with me.
I praise Him for my salvation. There's an example of pain moving somebody toward God. It moved, it moved Jen in the right direction. She became better.
A better person. C.S. Lewis said, pain plants the flag of truth in the fortress of a rebel soul.
So good. Pain plants the flag of truth in the fortress of a rebel soul. It was C.S. Lewis who said, God whispers to us in our pleasures but He shouts to us in our pain. Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world. So dark times enhance the presence of God. You remember when the disciples once were on the Sea of Galilee and that storm came up and it was in the middle of the night.
It was dark and they looked out and they saw somebody walking toward them on the water. It was Jesus. I just think Jesus just had fun with that one.
It's like the ultimate fun practical joke to play on your buddies because you know they're going to freak out. And they did. And I think Jesus kind of liked it.
But have you ever thought about that? Jesus walking on the water? That Jesus came to them on the very thing they feared the most. What did they fear the most? The storm.
They've been on the Sea of Galilee. Boats had sunk to the bottom of that lake because of those storms. They feared those storms. They feared those waves. And lo and behold, the presence of God was made clearer to them on the very thing they feared the most.
The storm itself. I have a hunch that Jesus just might do the same in some of your experiences. The image of God is developed in the negatives. The image of God's presence is developed in the negatives of life during those dark times when the blotches of black get imprinted and developed. It's the image of God's presence. Dark times enhance the presence of God.
Let me take you to a third certainty. Dark times are a pathway for God. A pathway for God. Go back to verse 20. Joseph's master took him, put him in prison, a place where the king's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. Verse 22, it says, and the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in prison.
Whatever they did there, it was his doing. So Joseph gets promoted to, like, assistant prison warden, even though he's a prisoner himself. There are many benefits to trials. I guess the most obvious benefit when you're going through a trial is it makes you appreciate all the times you've been in prison. It makes you appreciate all the times you don't have trials, right?
Darkness has a way of making us appreciate the light. But it develops our character. And I guess the majority of the Bible promises focus on that, that fact that when you go through difficult times, God is doing something with and in you to develop your character to make you a much better human being. All things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.
Listen to these benefits. James chapter 1, knowing this, the testing of your faith produces patience. You want patience? Really? You're praying for that?
Good. But that's like a guarantee for the testing of your faith, because it says the testing of your faith produces patience. Romans chapter 5, tribulation produces perseverance. And perseverance, character, and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint. Suffering does get our attention, as I just mentioned. Psalm 119, the psalmist said, before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your word.
Sounds like Jen's letter. Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your word. Suffering also shows us our weakness. 2 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul talked about his thorn in the flesh. He said, lest I be exalted above measure, a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, was given to buffet me. Also, another benefit of suffering is it disciplines us. Hebrews chapter 12, whom the Lord loves, he chastens.
Whom the Lord loves, he chastens. Ouch! I love you. If you think, well, that's weird. It's not weird. If you're a parent, you get it.
All parents do this. Whom the Lord loves, he chastens and scourges every son that he receives. So it disciplines us. Also, suffering reminds us that the world is not our home.
Romans chapter 8, the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. So all of that is character development. All of that is personal improvement.
But wait, there's more. You see, when God takes you through trials, hardships, darkness, dark times, it's more than personal improvement. It's purposeful improvement. Or I would even say it's purposeful movement that God is using the trial to position you for greater impact in this world. That's exactly what happened with Joseph's life, and that is the theme of all these chapters, how God trained this man, Joseph, to be the leader of the world, or the second in command of the world, during the world's darkest time in the world. Darkest time during that era, which was a famine, a worldwide famine. He went through times of darkness and positioning to get him right there to make the most impact.
So think of it. If Joseph's brothers didn't hate him, they never would have sold him. If they wouldn't have sold him, he wouldn't have gone down to Egypt. If he didn't go down to Egypt, he wouldn't have worked for Potiphar.
If he wouldn't have worked for Potiphar, he never would have been thrown in jail. If he hadn't gotten thrown in jail, he never would have interpreted the dreams for the butler and the baker. If he wouldn't have interpreted the dreams for the butler and the baker, he never would have stood before the pharaoh to interpret his dream.
If he never would have stood before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, he wouldn't have come up with the most awesome solution on how to fix the problem and become the prime minister, second in control of the world. God moved him into position with each hardship, with each darkness, with each exposure to difficult affliction. God is knocking off the rough edges and moving him like a chess piece to usability. Now life is a series of problems.
Have you noticed that? It's not like every now and then, every blue move maybe once every decade you have like a hardship. The truth is, life is a series of these things. I would say this, you are either in a trial now or you are coming out of a trial or you're about to go into one. That's where you are today.
You just come out of one, you're in one now or you're about to go in one. And why is that? Let's just examine it. Why on earth, how can we trust a God that when we trust Him, He allows a litany of things like what happened to Joseph to happen?
A series of problems. Why would God do that? Where's the love of God in that? Here's the answer.
I'm glad you asked. It's because God is more interested in your character than He is in your comfort. It's because God is more interested in making you holy than making you happy. It's because God is more interested in making you valuable to others, not just joyful for yourself.
It's about that. It's about a pathway to purpose. Pain is part of the path that takes us directly into the will of God. Pain is part of the path that takes us directly into the will of God. Joseph spent years I'm sure going, now why did this happen? And then why did that happen? And my mother's dead and my brother's a creep and they all hate me and now I'm in prison and then I got falsely accused and now I'm forgotten in prison and year after year after year until the day where all of that was behind him and he is second in command just under Pharaoh.
Amazing. Samuel Rutherford, one of my favorite old dead guys and author, there's a book called The Letters of Samuel Rutherford, one of the best books ever, and he wrote a little poem about suffering. He said, why should I tremble at the plow of my Lord that maketh deep furrows in my soul?
He's no idle husbandment. He purposeeth a crop. That little poem is profound to me. It's like, why should I tremble when God digs those deep furrows in my soul of experience, the hardships, the agony?
Why should I tremble at that? He's a farmer who knows what he's up to. He purposes a crop. He wants me to grow and he wants wonderful things to grow out of my life.
He purposes a crop. Imagine if Christopher Columbus would have turned back and not come to the new world. What if he had just gone back to Spain and said, you know what, those waves are so big and this journey is so hard, so I'm back home. Nobody would blame him if he would have turned back.
But if he would have turned back, nobody would have remembered him either. If you want to be memorable, if you want to be valuable, then you have to allow a little bit of the miserable by the glory of God to shape you and to take you places. So dark times are permitted by God. They enhance the presence of God. They're a pathway for God. I want to close on this note and the fourth certainty about dark times for a believer. Dark times include perks from God.
They include perks. So Joseph is in prison. We've established this. He's there not because of his own fault. He's done everything right. Everything wrong has happened to him.
It happens month after month, year after year after year. But did you notice in verse 21, it says, but the Lord was with Joseph, and watch this, and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. In verse 23, the keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority because the Lord was with him, and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper. You see, though God allows him into these dark times, these little rays of light keep popping up in these verses that show us that God is mitigating the severity of the darkness.
He's taking the trial and pulling the edge off of it just a little bit. He's peppering his suffering with blessing. Verse 21, the Lord showed him mercy.
You know what that means? It's like he's in prison, he's suffering, but the Lord showed him mercy. In other words, it could have been much worse.
It could have been much worse. Joseph could have lost his life, Joseph could have gotten severely beaten up, he could have been named for life because of his prison sentence, he could have been ill treated, but he wasn't because the Lord showed him mercy. Then it says also in verse 21, and he, the Lord, gave him favor.
And we know what that means. Though he is incarcerated, he's allowed to be elevated. He comes into a position of leadership even in jail, an assistant supervisor. So all of that previous suffering of those years in his life have created now a wonderful man, a tempered and trustworthy man, that the prison supervisor notices and elevates. And then in verse 23, whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper. So God is working behind the scenes. He's being kind, he's being favorable, he's being merciful, he's giving him the advantage, so to speak. I'm drawing your attention to this because I want you to learn to start looking for these perks. Start looking for the silver lining in the dark times.
Start noticing where God puts the favor and the mercy and prospers you even in the trial. You know, when you get into a dark room, at first you're blinded. You can't see anything. But if you sit in the darkness for a while, your eyes grow accustomed to it, and another set of cells in your eyes start taking over.
At first, you've been focusing and looking at the objects delineated by the cone cells of the eye. But in the darkness, when you have no ability for those cells to work, another set of cells called the rods that control your peripheral vision become very active so that you can start seeing things you couldn't see before. It's funny, in the middle of the night, if I have to get up sometimes in a pitch-dark room, my bedroom is pitch dark, trust me, that's how my wife wants it.
Pitch black. But in the middle of the night, I can get up and I can barely notice little objects on the floor like, oh, there's my dog, I better not step on him, and there's that toy that my dog left, I better not step on that. I can notice that. My eyes have grown accustomed to the dark.
And so what I want to say to you is let your eyes grow accustomed to the dark experience you are in so you can start noticing the favor and the mercies in God prospering you. Notice that. Start looking for that.
How do you do that? Develop a thankful heart. Develop a thankful heart. Jeremiah, when the city of Jerusalem was burning down around him and the people had been taken captive and the Babylonians were taken over his town, in the middle of that, you know what he said? You know what he said?
You know what he said. It's one of your favorite verses. Lamentations chapter 3. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed because his compassion's fail not. Great is thy faithfulness. If you take a handful of sand, I've used this illustration a number of times, take a handful of sand and if you start kind of combing through it with your fingers to find pieces of metal, good luck.
But if you take a magnet, sweep it over that sand, comes up, right? A thankful heart is like a magnet. A thankful heart will start noticing the mercy, start noticing the perks, start noticing the blessing and God prospering. But it's so dark.
Yeah, but I noticed that. It could be worse. This is what God is doing. This is how God is sustaining me. Now, just a final word in closing to those of you who are right now in the midst of a dark trial. You've never experienced anything like this before.
It's an affliction. I just want you to hear this. The righteous are resilient. The righteous are resilient. Yeah, the righteous fall down, we get scuffed up, we get hurt, but they always get back up.
Proverbs 24 16, though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. So I want to say to you, dear Christian brother or sister, get up. Because you are more than a conqueror through God who loved us. You are more than a conqueror. Get up, move on, keep going. This is not the end. You're being developed in the darkness. The negative is for a positive result.
The master, far better than Ansel Adams, is manipulating the chemistry of your life that you can't see or appreciate right now to make you into a work of art more valuable and precious than gold. And if you have derailed a little bit because you've gone through a tough time and I'm taking my ball and gonna go home, wah! Sorry for me not being more sympathetic than that, but I'm not that sympathetic. Because whatever life you had in Christ, as bad as it could get, is far better than the alternative.
Far better than the alternative. And I want to say to you, get back on track with Him. Come back to Him. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message, Welcome to the Dark Room. Find the full message, as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at ConnectWithSkip.com. Right now, we want to share about a resource that will give you a glimpse of what eternity will be like for believers and unbelievers. Skip Heitzig has some straight talk about hell. The lake of fire is name of a place of eternal torment. You might call it the final hell.
The Bible calls it the second death. So hell is an actual place. There's a second fact I want you to notice, and that is hell is an intentional place. This is critical information about the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.
But that does not need to be the destiny of any man or woman on earth. That's why we've assembled a special resource called the Eternity Package to give you confidence in your eternal home and an urgency to share Christ with those who don't believe. God created hell for a very specific reason. Verse 41, he will say to those on the left hand, depart from me you cursed into the everlasting fire, here it is, prepared for the devil and his angels.
God did not create hell as a place to punish people. The Eternity Package comes with seven of Pastor Skip's most powerful messages about eternity, covering topics like the truth about hell, what most people don't know about heaven, the second coming of Christ, and much more. You'll also receive his booklet, Hell, No, Don't Go, about the glory of heaven and the torment of hell. This powerful new resource is our thanks for your gift of $50 or more to support the broadcast ministry of Connect with Skip Heitzig. So get your copy of the Eternity Package on CD or as a digital download today when you give a gift of $50 or more. Give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Join us tomorrow as Skip begins a message about the life and dark times of Moses.
D.L. Moody put it this way, Moses spent 40 years thinking he was somebody, 40 years learning he was nobody, and then 40 years God showing him what he can do with a nobody. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection, a connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-06 04:56:59 / 2023-09-06 05:06:53 / 10