Saturday, April 15, 2017

Trials That Build Faith

Why do bad things happen to good people?   How does God prepare us for our destiny?


  • James 1:2-4
  • 1 Samuel 16:11-13
  • 1 Samuel 19:9-10
  • Matthew 3:16 - Matthew 4:1
  • Psalms 105:17-21
  • 1 Peter 5:10

In this lesson we’ll study:
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Does God cause bad things to happen to us?
  • Does God use Satan to achieve His plans?
  • Why do we go through trials?
  • How does God strengthen our faith?
  • How does God prepare us for our destiny?

Life is a progressive strengthening of your faith in different areas.  
We will examine one of the methods that God uses to strengthen our faith.

We will examine one scenario that shows us:
  • How God builds our faith
  • When God builds our faith

James 1:2-4
2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
  • Do you consider it joy when you go through trials?
  • Why should/would we?
    • It produces endurance/patience
    • It perfects us
    • It completes what is lacking
    • It strengthens our faith

Example: spoiled children

How does God strengthen our faith?
  • Answering prayer
  • Miracles / Signs
  • Making His presence known
  • Trials

Example: stop looking for work when laid off

God’s Character

It's important to understand God's character
  • When we don't understand how God works, we misinterpret Him
  • We use our own definition  of what is “right” or “fair”
  • When something happens contrary to our doctrine we end up losing faith in God
    • Something is wrong with ourselves
    • Something is wrong with God
  • One of the enemy's best tricks is to give us a flawed expectation of God to disappoints us
    • Example:  The Santa Clause doctrine
    • We get a false expectation about God
    • We expect something from God that we don’t get

When we expect something from God and He doesn’t deliver it, it weakens our faith  

Why Do We Have Trials?

People go to extremes:
  • God causes everything
  • Satan causes everything
  • It's because you are a sinner

Some say  “God allowed it”
  • What does this mean?
  • It doesn't mean He is in agreement with it
  • That is often used to avoids the questions of did God want it to happen, or was it His will?
  • Think about your biggest sin
    • Was it God’s will?

5 Reasons why bad things happen
  1. Caused by Satan (or demons)
    1. You are tempted with an ungodly option
    2. Not initiated by God
    3. The goal is to make you sin or separate you from God
    4. Example: the Garden of Eden
  2. To bring you back to God
    1. For your protection
    2. God doesn't give you something you want because he sees that it won't be beneficial or will keep you from your destiny
    3. God gave you a blessing, but it took you away from God instead of bringing you closer to him
      1. You worshiped the blessing
      2. You were not mature enough to handle the blessing
      3. So it was taken from you for your own good
      4. You were abusing (abnormal use) it
    4. You interpret it as a trial
    5. Example: Job promotion that draws you away from God
  3. Sowing and Reaping
    1. The natural consequence of some action we commit
    2. You brought it on yourself
    3. There was no divine intervention
    4. Example. Leave $1,000 in the car seat with window down
  4. God is testing you
    1. “Revealing your heart”
    2. You're going through something to take you somewhere else
    3. It's part of the process of taking you from where you are to where you need to be
    4. It's meant to change you (e.g. faith, character)
    5. It's initiated by God
    6. We will look at some biblical examples
  5. Other people's free will

What this tells us is:
  • You can be suffering when you didn't do anything wrong
  • All suffering is not a result of disobedience
  • All suffering is not punishment from God
  • All suffering is not from Satan

Preparing You For Your Destiny

Sometimes we think we're doing God’s will because you are doing the will of:
  • Your parents
  • Society
  • Your co-workers
  • Your church
  • Your friends
  • Your spouse

You need to ask God

You are ready to step into your destiny after you’ve decided to do whatever God tells you to do.
  • Not following your own dreams
  • Not seeking your own goals
  • Not saying “tell me what you want me to do first and then I’ll decide if that’s for me”
  • Not leaning on your own understanding
  • It’s saying yes first

After you’ve surrendered to God, He will start preparing you
  • He will build your faith
  • This is sometimes done through trials or tests
  • Passing the test prepares you for the new assignment that God has given you
  • It is a pruning process

It's called “going through the wilderness”

David's Test

We see this exemplified with young David.  God anointed him as king (the promise), but David did not receive the kingdom immediately.  He had to go through the wilderness first.

David’s Promise

1 Samuel 16:11-13
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and [d]bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.”
12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

God Can Use Anyone

  • David's father didn't even consider David a viable candidate
  • David didn’t have the world’s qualifications
  • We assume God is using the same qualifications that we are
  • Who in the bible fit our criteria for who God would choose?
    • Moses was a murderer
    • David was an adulterer
    • The disciples hadn't gone to seminary
      • They weren't experts in the law
    • Rahab was a prostitute
      • Jesus is descended from a prostitute
      • Some preachers try to claim she wasn’t one
      • They are using their own criteria

David Got Persecuted

  • David didn't receive his promise immediately

1 Samuel 19:9-10
9But an evil [harmful] spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.
  • God caused Saul to persecute David
  • God used an evil spirit for the test
  • That was part of David’s test

David had to flee to the wilderness
  • David was tested in the wilderness

Did God send an evil spirit?
  • Some say no “God allowed it”, but didn’t send it
  • Some say he sent it as punishment for Saul’s defiance of Him

...what does the bible say?

It's better to say “we don't understand” than to make up something that fits our theology

Again, God will use whoever or whatever He chooses to accomplish His will

But would God really use Satan? ...


Jesus in the Wilderness

Why did Jesus go into the wilderness?

Matthew 3:16 - Matthew 4:1
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 4:1
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[peirazó] by the devil.
  • The baptism marked the start of Jesus’ ministry
  • What was the first thing Jesus did after this event?
    • Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit
  • God sent Jesus to the wilderness to be tested
  • The devil was part of that process

peirazó: to make proof of, to attempt, test, tempt

to try, make trial of, test: τινα,
  • for the purpose of ascertaining your quality, or what you think, or how you will behave yourself

This is God’s method


Joseph was tested after he got a promise from the Lord.

Joseph's story:
  • Joseph had a dream
  • Sold into slavery
  • Bought by Potiphar
  • Joseph sent to jail
  • Pharaoh had a dream
  • Joseph predicts the famine
  • Joseph put in charge of the palace
  • The Israelites came to Egypt to escape the famine
  • Joseph ruled over the Israelites
  • Joseph showed favor for the Israelites

Psalms 105:17-21
    17He sent a man before them,
           Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
     18They afflicted his feet with fetters,
           He himself was laid in irons;
     19Until the time that his word came to pass,
           The word of the LORD tested[tsaraph] him.
     20The king sent and released him,
           The ruler of peoples, and set him free.
     21He made him lord of his house
           And ruler over all his possessions,

The Word Tested Him

  • “The word of the Lord tested him”
  • The promise that Joseph would rule over his brothers tested him
  • Joseph became ruler and received the promise after the test
  • Joseph was sent to Egypt for Israel’s sake

Tsaraph = to smelt, refine, test
  • Like gold
  • This is how you purify gold

Joseph had to go through the purification process

Trials purify us

God Can Use Anyone

God used an evil king to develop Joseph’s faith
God used Potiphar's wife

What to Do When We’re Tested

  • Cling to the promise  
  • Don’t doubt God
  • Don’t focus on your current circumstances
  • Wait with anticipation
  • Worship God while you wait

Being able to worship God while you’re in a trial is a sign of a mature Christian


Sometimes it takes adversity to push us where we need to go.  Sometimes we get so comfortable in the path that we have chosen that it takes a major disruption to get us out of that lifestyle.

Being in the wilderness is a time of preparation, and of proving your faithfulness to God.  You build your faith in the wilderness.  The time there puts you in a posture where God becomes your first resort when issues arise.

Just because you are uncomfortable doesn't mean you're not where you're supposed to be.  
  • Some things you can only learn in the struggle
  • Some people will only change through a trial

When God tests us, it's to find out what is in our hearts
  • it reveals what you really believe about God
  • It strengthens our faith

Your heart is revealed by how you handle a trial
  • Do you turn to God first?
  • Do you trust what He’s doing?
  • Or do you rely on your own knowledge?

After God reveals your destiny to you, you will be tested by the enemy.

Now that we know the process we don't need to doubt the promise
  • The trial doesn't mean that the promise isn't from God

Tests from God are not meant to harm you, but to bring you into maturity.

1 Peter 5:10
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

The trial is meant to: perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

  • It’s important to study God’s character because if we believe God does something unexpected  we can lose our faith
  • We see God doing something we don't consider “fair” or “right” without an understanding of how God works
  • An example would be if a loved one dies, or tragedy happens
  • Satan tries to give us a false expectation of God so we’ll be disappointed
  • 5 Reasons Bad things happen
    1. Satan caused it
    2. God caused it to bring you back to His will
    3. Natural consequence of some action or situation
    4. God is trying to build your faith or change your character
    5. Someone else exercised their free will
  • So we can have troubles and still be in God’s will
  • We took a deep look at the scenario where God tests you after He reveals your destiny
  • This is when you are going through trials to get you from where you are to where you need to be
  • This happened to: David, Jesus and Joseph
  • When you are in a trial you should:
    1. Cling to the promise  
    2. Keep trusting God
    3. Don’t focus on your current circumstances
    4. Wait with anticipation
    5. Worship God while you wait
  • The trial could be meant to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you

Presenter: Michael Leadon

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