Good morning Brothers and sisters, how is everyone? Are you all tired from the camp? Did you all have a good time at camp? Please share with our brothers and sisters who could not come for camp what God did in the camp. We want our brothers and sisters to also be blessed by what God has done in the camp too.
I am very excited for Church camp every year because every time I go for church camp. God will speak to me about my future and what he wants me to do. So during the camp I will really enjoy the worship and the time of prayer and preaching. I will feel like I am experiencing God a lot in camp. Until the last day of camp and all of us need to go back to our normal lives again. This is when I wonder if all excitement and experience I have experienced at camp will continue when I go back to my normal life and experience all my life troubles again. Because during camp, I don’t need to work because it is a day off and I can concentrate on what God is doing. But now that the camp is over and my life begins again.
So the question that we need to ask ourselves is what now. How are we going to continue to seek God the way we seek God in camp when our lives return to normal?
I think the thing that causes us to lose our fire in our faith is when we face hardships in our lives. The way we respond to hardships in our lives will determine how we will grow in our faith in God. It is very common to feel good at camp and then when we come back to our daily life, we face troubles in our lives and we fear and we don’t exercise faith and we become the same again like before we went to camp. The things that we committed to God and the decisions we made in camp all become lost.
Just like what we shared in the camp; in order for us to be faithful to God we need to persevere in times of hardship. Let us look at
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
What is the purpose of trials
1) Trials produces faith (it helps us to depend on God)
In verses 2-4, it says that we should be joyful when we meet trials of all kinds. Because these trials produces steadfastness (torahort oat tone). What does steadfastness mean? It means to be faithful and resolute (tang cay). And when steadfastness has done it’s work, we will be perfect and complete lacking in nothing. What does this all mean?
When we go through trials, the thing that we feel is fear and also that something is lacking in our lives. We feel that we need money, wisdom, we need help from people to help us to deal with and fix the problems we are facing in our lives. But every time we face trials in our lives, we have a choice on how we will respond to it. Our faith will be tested. This is the time when we as the children of God should depend on God and respond in faith. We decide to choose Gods way and not our own ways. If we choose God’s ways, we soon learn that when we seek God and obey God. God’s way is perfect and complete, not lacking in anything. This is what verse 4 says. We discover the full provision of God when we decide to respond in faith in God in times of trials.
On the other hand, if we do not stay faithful and steadfast in times of trial. We will learn that when we respond to trials in the flesh instead of in faith, our lives do not feel more complete of perfect. But instead we will feel that we constantly are in danger and we are worse off than before. our lives are in a mess, we have no direction in our lives. We are lost.
For example, when i just came to Chiang mai and I just found out that I am to lead the Church. I was very afraid and I was not sure what to do. I had never preached before and I was afraid to speak to large crowds of people and I could not speak Thai well enough.. I thought to myself that if God called me to do this he will provide for me. So the next thing I did was to pray and ask God to help me and provide for me. After praying, I still could not preach, speak Thai and I was still afraid of speaking to large groups of people. But I felt the peace of God and the assurance of God that he will enable me to do it. So from this peace God gave me courage to learn to preach in Thai and preach to the whole Church. God kept his promise to me. I did struggle all this time. But in my struggles, I remember that God told me he will help me. I am experiencing what is said in verse 4. When steadfastness has completed it work, I will be made complete, lacking in nothing. I know that when I depend on God. I lack nothing in my life.
2) Trials grow us in our prayer.
In verses 5-8
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
It says that if we lack wisdom, let us ask God in faith who will give generously. But when we ask God, we need to ask God in faith. We should not doubt that God will answer us. Because the one who doubts is not exercising faith. He is not sure of God’s faithfulness. And because he is not sure of God’s faithfulness in our lives, he will continue to worry and try to solve the problem in the flesh even after he has prayed about it. He will not wait nor listen to what God is leading him to do.
Does this describe us? We know that we need to pray and seek God in our lives. God is the answer in our lives. But when we pray to God we don’t trust God to be faithful. After we pray we still continue to worry and try to find our own solutions and answers.
We are sometimes like this because we like to be in control. We also have trouble believing in what we cannot see. I think that we need to come to realise that we are not in control of the things that happen in our lives.
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
But God has given us the promise of his provision for our lives according to his will. God has assured us of good things he has planned for us. We need to exercise faith. Faith is the key to unlocking that promise of God in our lives. A pastor once said that faith is like seeing with your eyes closed. We see it in our hearts. When we trust God and his promises, it opens our spiritual eyes to see the plans that God has for us and this gives us faith.
There are 3 steps that we need to take for us to persevere in our walk with God. We need to
There are 3 steps that we need to take for us to persevere in our walk with God. We need to
Pray: Pray and ask the Holy spirit to give you faith to believe that God will provide and lead us. And pray that you will seek God’s plan in your life.
Wait: After you pray don’t rush to do anything. Wait and listen and look out for God’s plan to be revealed to you. Read the Bible and seek God.
Obey God: Only act when God calls you to move. Don’t do anything before that. And do what calls you to do. Don’t pray and wait and then do your own thing again in the end.
If we are willing to allow God to direct our lives, We will begin to live better. We will have more peace, more confidence and more purpose in our lives.
3) Trials change our perspective of our situation.
1 tim 6:6-
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
In Verses 9-12, It tells the people who are facing trials be encouraged that God is building them up in their faith. And then it says about the rich that there is nothing for the rich to be proud about because like a flower the rich will be more in a short time. Because as the sun comes up and heats up the grass and the flowers, their beauty is no more. So just like the flower, it may look so pretty and good. But when the sun come up, it will die. It is the same with riches. Riches are not forever, they can be disappear in a flash. we cannot put our hope in riches to save us.
Many times when I hear people share about their problems, I will hear people say if only i have money i can solve my problems. We see money as the hope of our lives. But in verse 12 it says that the greater thing is for man stay faithful to God in times of trials till the end so that we can get the greatest prize, the crown of life that Jesus has promised us. The people who love God till the end will inherit the kingdom of God.
John piper once told pastors that they should never pray that God will make them rich. Because the love of money is very dangerous. It has caused many pastors to fall and many are not going to finish the race because of the love of money.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
It says here that it is good for us to be content with what we have in our lives because we brought nothing into this earth and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have enough for food and clothing. We will be happy. Then it says that those who desire to be rich are tempted and they make very bad decisions in their lives. And it destroys their lives. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
If the Bible talk in such about the desire for money. Should we desire to get rich? I’m not saying that Christians should not get rich. I’m just saying that we should not love money and focus on money as our way to happiness in life. Because it is not. If we work hard and we seek God in our lives and God bless us with money and we we become rich. Praise God. If our focus is on God I know that the money that God has given us will be used to bless the poor and to spread the gospel to the nations.
But let us not seek money as our security and purpose. In times of trials, let us seek God and let him be the answer in our lives. If we have been seeking other things other than God in our lives to be purposeful and happy, let us take this time for us to repent before God. If God is not on the throne of our lives leading us. Let us come back to God and seek God again. if we are to be faithful to God and finish the race well, we need to do it with Jesus at the centre of our lives. Jesus is calling us back to him this morning.