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The Grace to Keep Going - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
August 5, 2023 12:00 am

The Grace to Keep Going - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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August 5, 2023 12:00 am

When troubles come, we can respond two ways: with confidence and assurance, or with doubt and fear.

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Charles Stanley

Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Have you ever reached a point where you felt so emotionally exhausted or physically drained that it was difficult to even do the next thing? Today's podcast helps you to learn how to tap in to the grace to keep going. When the tough times come into your life and you find yourself really down, how do you respond? Well, all of us are going to face these things in our life. And either we're going to respond with confidence and assurance or we're going to react with doubt and fear and anxiety and sometimes anger. And all of that depends upon what's on the inside of us. That is, if we're persons of confidence and assurance and our foundation is resting upon the Lord, we can face most anything with a sense of confidence and assurance, God is going to bring us through it. But that is not where most people are in their life.

And what I want to talk about in this message is simply that. How do we face the tough times and keep going? We don't quit. We don't give up.

We don't walk away. And we end up being greatly rewarded as a result of being obedient to God. So, I want you to turn, if you will, to 2 Corinthians chapter 12. And in this passage, this is one of those examples of many of the times in which the apostle Paul was tested, tried, one of the difficulties, one of the many hardships that he had.

And in the process, God has been giving him some awesome experiences, great revelations of truth. And he comes to the seventh verse of the 12th chapter, and this is what he says happened as a result of some difficulty he was facing. He says, Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, that is, the truths that God had been sending to him, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, getting prideful and unuseful, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from exalting myself.

Concerning this, I implored, that is, he prayed mightily to God, I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And he has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I would rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ's sake. But when I am weak, then I am strong.

That's real easy to read that passage and think, well, that's wonderful, or to sing about the grace of God, to talk about the grace of God. But when we're going through a time of suffering, uncertainty, and doubt and fear, when everything around us is falling apart, when we feel hopeless and helpless, then how are we to respond? Well, that's what I want to answer in this message and I want to encourage you to listen very carefully, pay close attention because all of us have, do, now, and will go through those times when we have those helpless, hopeless feelings, what do I do next?

And if you know what to do, the hopelessness and the helplessness will no longer be there. You'll recall, for example, the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus gave a little warning. He said, even in those times, He said, we are insulted, we are falsely accused, and we are persecuted. That is, these were warnings that Jesus gave about the Christian's life. And so when somebody says, well, I thought when you became a Christian that things sort of cleared up.

Well, some things clear up and some things cloud up. And that depends upon how you respond to life and where you've been, what you're into when you're saved. And what I want you to see in this passive Scripture here is there is a solution.

There is an answer. There's an awesome, fantastic, encouraging answer in this passive Scripture. So Jesus gave us some warnings. And look at the Apostle Paul. The man who wrote this to the Corinthian church was certainly not one who lived in ease, comfort, and pleasure or spent his time lying on the beach somewhere, but rather spent a lot of his time in jail, a lot of his time in all kinds of difficulties.

So in the eleventh chapter, just in preparation for what he's about to tell them, listen to what kind of difficulty, hardship, pain, and trouble and trial the Apostle Paul had gone through. He says, for example, comparing himself to his other brothers, and he said, So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham?

So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I speak as if insane, I more so. In far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. And he says he spent a night and a day in the deep, that is, in the water. I've been on frequent journeys in the ministry, in danger from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers, he says, from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren. That is, he lived in danger. I've been in labor and hardship through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and in exposure.

Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. So what I want you to see is this is not somebody just writing about something he heard. Here's a man who says, Here's the way we deal with hardship, pain, uncertainty, doubts and fears and heartache. Things that oftentimes would trip us up and cause us to want to quit, walk away, give up and say, You know what?

I don't have to put up with this and so I'm just going to walk away. This is exactly what people are doing. And as you think about and look around at society today, what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he certainly, God intended him to write it also for us, though he didn't understand that at the time. But it certainly meant for us because look what's happening today. There's rejection. There's criticism.

There's persecution. There are financial problems. There are all kinds of difficulties and hardships that we have to face in life. And so what we have to ask is this. Is it going to be our habit just to walk away when things don't suit us?

Or is there a way to come through these and profit as a result? And certainly there is. And that's what I want us to look at in this passage of Scripture. Because certainly it's not easy to live in this world. And when somebody says, well, when you become a Christian, then things ought to get better. And so therefore I'm trusting Jesus so that my life will be full of happiness. And isn't that what Jesus promises?

Not at all. But He says there's a way for us to walk through it confidently, boldly, assuredly, and at the end greatly rewarded because we responded in the right way. Now the right way to respond to difficulty, hardship and pain is not to walk away. Walk out. Give up. Quit. Throw in the towel. Say, you know what I don't have to put up with this? And God doesn't expect it.

So I'm gone. That is not the way to deal with these issues. And the Apostle Paul certainly understood that. And when he says in this passage that he asked the Lord to take away this thorn that he had in his side, look how God responded to him. And sometimes you may feel like, well, God, You're not listening.

But what I want you to see is this. God's response was exactly what He needed and God's response is exactly what you and I need. And as you think about it, you think about, well, if all this is true, then what causes us to feel tempted to give up and quit when we're saved, we're children of God, we know that God loves us. Why are we tempted to give up and quit when these things hit us? And they hit us oftentimes on the blind side.

And all of a sudden we discover this, we hear this news or whatever it might be. Why is it we're tempted in those times to give up, walk away and quit? Well, there are three reasons primarily and I want you to jot these down. One of the primary reasons is that Satan certainly gets involved when we face these things. And one of the things that Satan does when you and I face one of these difficulties is this. What he wants us to do is simply to do what? He wants us not to look to God but to look to some other way to solve this because what we're saying is when we give up and quit and walk away is that it doesn't work. The Christian life doesn't work.

You know what that does? That causes Satan to triumph because now if you turn away from God, you've got to turn to Him, looking for some way to help you. Likewise, He's going to discourage you in every way possible when you get into one of those situations. One of the things He's going to do is to get you to focus, listen, focus on your feeling of helplessness. Focus on your feeling of hopelessness because if He can get you focused on that, He's going to keep you going down, down, down in that trial and hardship and pain. Likewise, what He's going to do, He's going to get you to thinking about your feelings primarily. How do you feel?

How is this affecting you? And therefore if He can get your feelings up and your focus on your feelings, you're going to become more and more discouraged. One of the things He's going to do is to point you in the direction not to God. He's going to point you in the direction of His crowd that is the world, the unbeliever, and have you look at what they do and what they say and how they feel. Well, you know what they do.

They've either got to drink or get on drugs or some sort or sex or some kind of affairs or some kind of new exports or running for pleasure here and there, doing anything to forget what the reality of the situation is. That's what Satan wants you to do. He wants you to listen to the advice of the world. And the last thing he wants you to do is to even begin to think about what the future consequences are and what he's going to do.

He's going to paint you this very pretty picture of how things can be if you'll follow Him, lay aside this God business, all this spiritual stuff, and just choose to follow Him and watch what He does. Well, that's one of the issues we have to deal with. We have to deal with Satan. The second issue we have to deal with is this, and that is the culture we live in. The Apostle Paul calls it the world system.

That is what John calls it. That is this world. What does he mean by that? He's talking about the culture we live in. So you think about, for example, how people respond when you go through these things, and here's what they're going to say to you.

The world says, well, you know what? You can't just expect God to be interested in your little minor affairs. In other words, God's bigger than all that. You can't trust God for all that. God's expecting you to deal with your own problems, take care of yourself. You get in charge of your life.

You can't be weak and sort of be crying out to God about it all. Besides that, here's what you ought to do. What you ought to do is the easiest, quickest way. Listen, the easiest, quickest way you can get out of this, go for it. That is cheap advice.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, it's wrong. But that's our culture. In other words, our culture is ease, comfort, and pleasure, get out quickly.

Don't fret over it. Just move on in light. Move on where? When you just stepped out of the will of God, move where?

Answer that question, where are you going to move? You're going to move deeper into the pit, the miry pit of being out of the will of God. So we have Satan to deal with. And the second thing that causes the temptation is we said it's our culture.

People around us are always giving us advice. But there's a third thing we have to deal with, and that's ourselves. That is, all of us have within us our naturalness. That is, we all came in this world with it. And so there are natural ways that we respond to things. But our naturalness is what the Apostle Paul called the flesh. That is, our carnality.

We have propensities or tendencies to sin in this area of that area, whatever it might be. And so we have to deal with that. You see, what makes difficult, tough times, difficult and tough, is that not only is the situation there, but we have Satan to deal with, the culture around us to deal with, and then our own carnality, our own flesh to deal with.

And all three of those things make it difficult. And so I'm simply saying to you that God understands when you and I go through the tough times, how we're to respond, and He understands why we respond in the ways that we respond. Now the question is, why do we have a tendency, and listen carefully, why do we have a tendency to give up and quit and to walk away, or to look for some ease, comfort and pleasure, or what's the easiest, quickest way I can get out of this situation?

Well, first of all, the first thing we have to deal with is this. Our focus is upon the problem, the heartache, the burden, the hurt, the pain, the suffering. Our focus is there rather than on Almighty God. When we get our focus on the problem rather than on God, what happens is we have taken a pathway that only leads downward with more discouragement and finally anger, bitterness, resentment, hostility, and then what we want to do, we want to pour it out on somebody else. These are not the ways we're to handle these circumstances and these difficulties, and so we want to give up. So one of the reasons that we feel that way is because our focus is wrong. Focus on that rather than on God.

A second thing is this. We begin to doubt. We begin to doubt that God loves us. I mean, we look at the circumstance, we think, God, I've been serving You, I've tried to live a good Christian life and be obedient to You, and look what's happening to me. We doubt, for example, that He loves us. Then we begin to doubt, well, you know what? If His love's not what I thought it was, then more than likely He's not going to change my circumstance, and if He doesn't change my circumstance, I'm getting out.

Or He may allow this to go on and on and on and on for years and I can't handle that. So you get weary, you get lonely, you get frustrated, you get anxious, you get angry, you get tired, and what happens? You begin to despair and begin to get depressed and you think, God, where are you? So what do you want? You want out. You just want to step away. Just leave. Just say, that's it. No more. I don't have to take this any longer. Well, now, it may be that God may lead you out of some situations and some circumstances in life.

I'm not questioning that. But if you walk away from a situation, not because God told you, but for any other reason, you're walking into deeper trouble than you're in already. And it may be that God has allowed something in your life or purpose that He has that's very good. But if you and I don't respond correctly, what happens is we turn an awesome opportunity into a terrible pit of despair when what God had in mind was something very, very good. Now, on the other hand, you can go down and defeat. You can throw in the towel, as we say. You can just quit, give up, walk away. Say, you know what, I've trusted God. It didn't work.

I've prayed and it hadn't happened. And so here I am still in this mess. You can get discouraged. You can get depressed. You can get angry. You can get bitter. You can get hostile. You can get resentful.

And you look for people to blame. And you know what happens? Here's what will have happened to you. You will have turned one of God's awesome opportunities into a disaster when what He had in mind was something awesome in your life that one day you'd look back and say, oh, thank you, God, thank you, thank you, thank you, I didn't quit. Thank you, I didn't walk away. Now, I want to show you something.

Here's what happens to so many people, and I've watched this over and over and over again. Oftentimes, God will bring people and they face this barrier, this heartache in their life, this big, this real pain. And we come up to it and God says, trust me. Don't get your focus on that. Get your focus on me.

Trust me. And we wait and we wait and we wait. We don't see God doing anything. And we pray and we cry and we wait.

We don't see God doing anything. So finally, here's what we decide. You know what? I've got to handle this.

And so we make a little detour and we decide we're going to do things our own way. And here's what I've noticed over and over and over again. Just before God takes it away, we step ahead of Him and we lose what He had prepared if we'd have just waited till He took it away and let us move in. Listen carefully. The Bible says, Isaiah 64, 4, God acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. He doesn't say He acts in behalf of those who push against and finally weasel their way through somehow. He says He acts in behalf of those who wait for Him. Does sometimes we have to wait a long time?

Yes, we do. I understand that. But I also understand this. We have a faithful God who at every moment, every moment, listen, no matter how long you're on this side, at every single point of need, He's there to provide exactly what you need. The worst thing you can do is to move around the will of God on your way doing something else. And I can guarantee you you're headed down. If you'll wait when God removes the thorn or the burden or the heartache, the pain, the suffering, the barrier, and you walk through in the grace of Almighty God, I can tell you one thing, there will be rejoicing, there's a sense of contentment and happiness, there's a sense of peace and joy in your heart, by which there is no human explanation unless you've been there. I can tell you something. If you'll stay there till God moves it, the best Almighty God could provide for you, He's already got your name on it.

It's a matter of choice. And it's my prayer that you'll make a very wise choice. And remember that when He says, my grace, and all that's wrapped up in that, is sufficient, adequate, complete, satisfying, overflowing, and abundant for you, so that in those weakest moments, you'll be overwhelmed with the awareness of the presence of the power and the grace and the goodness and the love of Almighty God.

There's no way to lose trusting Him. Thank you for listening to The Grace to Keep Going. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-05 03:36:30 / 2023-08-05 03:45:22 / 9

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