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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1137

The Necessity of Hardship
Part One

July 20, 2014

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1137 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise God! It’s wonderful that we can come together and the Lord can gather with us—meet with us and we can enjoy His presence as well. It’s certainly a crazy world we live in, but what a wonderful thing it is to be able to get together.

You know, I thought of the scripture that we quote from time to time where we are exhorted, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is...and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (KJV). I guess there’s another phrase in there…but to encourage one another. Anybody here need to be encouraged from day to day? Yeah, we all do. That simply is the nature of the way life is in this world. We just need to be encouraged.

You think about how the Lord spoke to…was it Joshua, who had just assumed the mantle of leadership from Moses, who had just passed off the scene, and time and time again He said, be of good courage, be strong and of a good courage, don’t be dismayed, over and over and over again. You know, the Lord knows that it’s very easy for us, who live in this sense-based realm, to become discouraged, to become sidetracked, to become beat down, weighed down with the cares of this life.

And, I’ve had some thoughts. I know there are an awful lot of us that are experiencing various difficulties in life. It seems like our sick list grows, and the list of other kinds of trials and difficulties that people have—that list grows. And, if we really understand and believe what the Word of God says, we shouldn’t be surprised by any of that.

But I did think of a particular scripture, just as a kind of a jumping off point, and I think it’s in Acts 14. This is near the end of the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. They were sent out by the church at Antioch and they began to go from place to place. And they would go there for a little while and preach the Gospel, and God would bring a few people to Himself and they would begin to work with them, and the next thing you know, persecution would arise and they’d have to skip town. One place, I think, Paul was left for dead.

But, in any case, they went from place to place and ministered as the Lord enabled and then when it came time for them to feel like, hey, it’s time to go home, what they did was kind of reverse course. And, they went back to each of these places to meet with the saints. And so, it says in verse, what is it? Middle of verse 21 there, “…Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.” (NIV).

And here was the essence of Paul’s message. You know, he could have said many things. I want you to go out and be witnesses. I want you to do this…start a program, or whatever. But the one thing that he said was this, that he knew that they needed to know—needed to get this. If you’re gonna serve God, you better get this, is what he basically was saying. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

And of course, then they appointed elders, and prayed and fasted, and committed them to the Lord, and they went on to the next place. But what a message! That was the essence of what Paul had to convey to them.

And you know, it’s easy for us to suppose well, yeah, we know this is a bad world, we know the devil is out and about, and we know things are going to be difficult from time to time, but, it doesn’t really have to be that way. And, you’ve got a whole lot of folks out there today that think it shouldn’t be that way, that we ought to be able to just blow off everything that the devil throws at us with a proof text and be done with it. But that isn’t the Gospel message.

But the thing that struck me about this is not that Paul was stating this, the hardships…and actually, another word is tribulation. You’ll find that in the King James. He’s not stating that as some kind of matter of fact, is he? He’s stating this as a necessity. This is the way it is. This is not only the way it is, this is the way God has designed it.

You know, it would be foolish to suppose that what Paul was saying here, was that there’s a weak God and a big, bad devil out there, and if you’re gonna get in the Kingdom of God, man, it’s gonna be tough, because God just can’t stop the devil from making trouble for you. Is that what he’s saying? No, we know better than that.

God gives us a glimpse, time and time again in the scriptures, but I don’t see any place where it’s clearer than in the beginning of the book of Job. And you remember what happened there was, the devil went before God, and God was the one who called the devil’s attention to Job. I mean talk about…it wasn’t like God was hiding him somewhere from the devil. God actually said, hey, “Have you considered my servant Job?” God was the one who initiated the events there.

And of course, the devil rose to the challenge. But what happened? God absolutely drew limits upon what the devil could do in each of the instances when he came back! There was a hedge about Job. The devil could not do anything he pleased. There was, absolutely, a sense of Divine appointment in the things that happened to Job.

Now I know he went through a hellacious time of struggling to understand it, and his friends didn’t help any. They pulled all their theology out and they just couldn’t explain it, and got it totally wrong. But you know, the glorious thing is in the end, Job came out on top, didn’t he?

( congregational response ).

And we see the sovereign hand of God, but we need to see that in our lives.

( congregational amens ).

Not just when we’re in the church house, not just when we pull out our Bibles, or pull out our theology books, we need to see that there is a God who has appointed a pathway for every single one of us. And, I’ll tell you, getting into the Kingdom of God is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the half-hearted. But the thing is…the central thought here is that it is necessary that there be difficulties and trials and struggles in getting into the Kingdom of God. That is part of it and you cannot avoid it.

You know, there’s a cheap Gospel out there today that just…Lord have mercy! It appeals to man’s nature. It appeals to man…almost like he can compromise with God. God, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll clean up my act a little bit. I’ll become active in church, and what I expect from you is a ticket to Heaven, and for you to help me in this life. You know, people are looking for to make their earthly life better. It’s self at the center. And I’ll tell you, one reason God has made it the way it is, is that it eliminates the half-hearted. Because you think about what a half-hearted person is…he says, I want this, but I want that, too. I’m willing to take the benefits of this, but boy, I ain’t letting go of this.

And, there is no such Gospel. Any man that’s going to hang onto his own life, Jesus said plainly, will lose it! And if we preach anything else, we’re preaching a falsehood. If we give people a false hope that they can sort of “believe in Jesus” quote-unquote, and go to Heaven and still live their own life the way they want to, that’s a false message. That’s the ‘broad way’ and the broad way that leads to destruction.

( congregational amens ).

And so, God has deliberately made it such that only the full-hearted, the whole-hearted are gonna do what it takes. Did He not say to count the cost? Count the cost. There is a cost. Man, it costs everything, but it’s worth a whole lot more than that everything that we give up. Praise God!

But you see that in the scriptures. You see that in the parable that Jesus gave us about the farmer who went out to sow, and as he sowed he encountered different types of soil. And of course, the one kind, the seed did not penetrate at all. The condition of the heart, is what He was portraying, was so hardened, so resistant to truth that… ‘big deal,’ it just didn’t make any impression at all.

But, there’s one category, in particular, that He mentioned where the soil was shallow. There was some soil. There was something that the seed penetrated a little bit, and it had just enough to kind of come up. But what was the problem? The problem was, down underneath it was hard, it was rocky. There was no way for roots to really get established. The heart itself, underneath the surface, was hard.

And so, what you have is somebody who hears the hope of the Gospel, hears about Heaven and about peace and forgiveness of sins and all the wonderful good things about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they latch onto it with joy. But what happens? In a little while trouble, persecution comes because of the Gospel and it withers because there’s no real root. I’ll tell you, the Lord has made it that way on purpose.

I thought of the picture that some of you will remember seeing, that movie presentation of “Pilgrims Progress.” I think we saw a very modernized version that was surprisingly good. I enjoyed it. But, Christian was the pilgrim traveling to the Celestial City, and early in his journey he spent a time at the House of the Interpreter and he was learning something about the Kingdom of God. And the lessons he was learning were portrayed for him almost as plays or panoramas, whatever they were…scenes.

In one of the scenes he saw a castle. And he saw a man who went up to a desk and signed his name like, ‘I want to get into that castle.’ But there was a problem, wasn’t there? How many of you remember what the problem was? Come on, somebody saw that. Wake up! No. There were some enemy soldiers. There were some black figures with swords. And they stood between him and the door of that castle!

And in order for him to get to the castle, he had to be willing to pick up a sword and fight his way through! He couldn’t just sort of saunter in and say, “I’m here, Lord, bless me.” He had to be willing to give up everything and to fight for that. And he did. He pushed them aside, and he was able to get in there and they welcomed him. And I don’t remember all that was portrayed, but what a picture it is.

You know, Jesus said of the ministry of John the Baptist…it talked about the Kingdom of God being preached. He said, since that time, “…the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing…” That is the NIV translation, I think. “…Has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”

Now obviously, the forcefully advancing is necessary because what you have is God invading a world ruled by Satan. And there is nothing Satan will respect beyond force. You can’t negotiate with the devil. You can’t ‘sweet-talk’ the devil. It takes a greater power to overcome him. Jesus said, the gates of hell will not prevail in the building of His church. And that portrays for us, or that depicts for us, or gives us the sense, I guess is what I’m trying to say, that it takes force. If someone’s gonna be set free from Satan’s power, a greater power is gonna have to come into play!

But I’ll tell you, that heart is gonna have to be willing to say, ‘yes’ unreservedly. There is no other way. And I know many of us, most of us, have heard at one time or another, messages pointing out how the Lord took the Israelites through the wilderness, and what the effect of that was. And what the Lord was basically saying was, I’m gonna see if you’re gonna really serve me.

You know, you say the right thing. You danced on the shores of the Red Sea when I brought you over, and you saw the Egyptians…you saw the miracle I performed. You saw that army destroyed, and you were free and you were on the other side, and wow! The ladies got their tambourines out, and they danced and they sang to the Lord, and it was glorious. And then you came to Mount Sinai, and you saw my power and my glory there, but I want to see. See, the problem was, it really wasn’t in the hearts of most of them. And it took just the right circumstances to make that unbelief manifest in their hearts.

And I’ll tell you, with all my heart I believe that we are…I mean, that principle of wilderness has always applied. It’s always applied to God’s people. When God calls His people, He calls them out. Now, you may still go to the same job, you may still live in the same house, you may still go to the same school, but I’ll tell you, there is something, there is a separation that begins to take place when God calls a human being into His kingdom. God is calling you to something different than the world and what it lives for, what it believes in, what it stands for. And there is a separation where He calls us to Himself, and that thing still has an appeal.

You remember what the writer of Hebrews said in chapter 11, about those who had left their country and their family and all of that. “If they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity…” (KJV). To do what?

( congregational response ).

To return—to go back. I’ll tell you, God is going to put every one of us that He calls into His Kingdom, to the test. And so, if your reaction to trouble is complaint…I mean, I know we all struggle with these things. I don’t want to over-paint this. But I mean, there’s a point beyond which people just say, hey, this isn’t what I bargained for.

And you’re gonna find people that will come in here, and they’ll come for a while, and it’ll be great, and then before you know it, something happens, something crosses them, something…they get offended by this, or offended by that, or they’re…it’s trouble, or like the Israelites faced in the wilderness, they came to places where it was boring, it was ‘samey.’ You know, they were eating Angel’s food, for crying out loud, but they got bored with that. It was a miracle every single day. They had food in the middle of the desert! And instead of giving God glory, they’re saying, boy, are we tired of this! That evil heart of unbelief just kept surfacing.

And God is going to absolutely put every person who is a prospect for the Kingdom of God, is gonna put them through whatever it takes to make manifest what’s in their heart. And so, we shouldn’t be surprised when we see some of the things we’re seeing.

You know, I’ve said before, we are in a real anomaly of history in this country. And it’s disappearing fast. Our brothers and sisters are in very different circumstances in much of the world. And we need to have God so work in our hearts, and have such conviction that we have what it takes to stand. Now God will give us that! It’s not that we have to muster it up or find it within ourselves. Thank God for that, because I don’t have it, do you?

( congregational response ).

You know, I mentioned the other night, and I think I’ve got a couple of different news sources mixed up, but I think in one place it was a bunch of Islamic militants went into a village and said, convert or die. And they literally went around killing people. You know, it just seems so foreign to our way of thinking. We’re so used to living in ‘Christian America,’ so called. Well, it’s not! There’s a darkness descending upon this country that isn’t gonna go away. We’re gonna have to stand in this hour.

God’s getting us ready. And the difficulties that you and I are facing in our lives right now are part of that process of getting us ready to stand. It’s not ‘bad things happening.’ It’s God’s goodness…because He loves His people, and He wants us to know Him in a way that we haven’t known Him, in a deeper way, and be strong, and be ready for what’s coming.

I think the other place…there was another case where Islamic militants went into an area, a Christian village, and they have a law in their religion, that Infidels, people that don’t believe in Islam, can live among them but they have to pay a special tax, and be sort of a second-class, not sort of, a second-class citizen. And all it amounted to, what they actually were doing was more like a protection racket. You pay us money to protect you. Yeah, right! They were bankrupting people, and people were having to flee. My God! Are we ready to serve God in a world that could go that crazy? I believe we have what we need in the Lord.

( congregational amens ).

What did we sing this morning? “Jesus Christ is made to me…”

( congregational response ).

All! Do we believe that? Do we understand that? Do we get that? “…All I need.” And the things that we experience in our lives are meant to teach us that, so that we don’t just know it here [pointing to head], we have a solid conviction down here [pointing to heart] that we are able to stand in times that we don’t have any explanation for. I mean, we must be in a certain period of going through things. The message last week that came to us was dealing with ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’, and what was the other one? Anyway.

( congregational response ).

‘Buts.’ Thank you. Of all the things, I shouldn’t forget that. But God! Why don’t you do it my way? Well, I’ll tell you, we serve a loving, faithful, heavenly Father, who knows exactly what we need. But there is a cost to getting into the Kingdom. It costs you your life. But, “He is no fool…” Jim Elliot said, “…who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Oh, I’ll tell you, if you ever have your mind and your eyes opened to see that, and we see what this world really is and where it’s really headed, and what the Lord has called us to, I’ll tell you, you leave that behind. And you count it like Paul did. What did he count his past life that was so valuable to him, at one point, what did he call that?

( congregational response ).

Garbage, trash! Praise God, why did I ever think that mattered? Why did I ever think that was so important? It’s just trash to me. I’m glad to leave that behind. I’ve seen Christ! I know what He is. I know what the hope of the Gospel is! And I want that! Oh, the Lord is so good to us, isn’t He? Praise God!

I’ll tell you, none of these things are new to us but, I don’t know, I think we always need to be in a place where we remind ourselves of some of these things and we sense the…we need the encouragement to be able to stand up to it. It’s awfully easy to see somebody else in trouble and experiencing trouble, and we’ll ride right in, in our hyper-spiritual—in our hyper-spiritual suit, whatever that is, and we’ll gladly give them the proof text. Brother, it’s all right and the Lord’s with you. Praise God! And then it happens to us.

( wailing ).

( laughter ).

( laughing ).

‘Boo-hoo, what did I do wrong?’ Oh God! And we listen to that negative voice that’s always eager to tell us all about it and explain it to us. And the Lord wants us to be able to stand and just be on an even keel. But He wants us to get these things because then you can go to a brother and a sister who’s going through something else and you’ve got something that is rooted in real experience, and I’ll tell you, ministered, given forth by the grace of God, not by this religious, ‘I’m telling you what.’

This is something that comes out of the grace of God that’s been at work in our lives first. We were brought to a place of need and dependence before a Holy God! And we found He was faithful! Now we’ve got something we can go and give them. I’ll tell you what, God is so faithful to try our faith, isn’t He? And to work in us the things that we need. It’s necessary! The reality is that God cannot accomplish these things any other way.

Don’t you think…do you think God gets a kick out of us having difficulty in our lives? Do you think He does it just to entertain Himself? They’re having it too easy. Let me push this button and make them squirm a little bit, and I’m really enjoying it. No! But God has something so awesome in mind that it’s worth whatever it takes to bring it off. It’s worth sending His own Son to live in a world full of the pain and weakness that you and I experience every day, for Him to experience that and to go through what He did, to open Heaven’s door for us! Praise God! It’s worth everything to serve! It’s worth everything to be born again! And I’ll tell you, those who come to that conviction, they’ve got something.

I guess a scripture that I had thought of…I’m trying to think where I mean to go here. This is not a sermon. I trust the Lord is gonna share the thoughts that He wants to share. But I’ll tell you, we have…I think this is it. It’s easy to listen to what we’ve heard so far, and to imagine that the issue is this. God is up there, and He is going to try to find out what is in me. That is, do I have a strong enough will? Do I have the inner strength that I can look…dig way down deep and draw upon? Do I have what it takes? Well, thank God it’s not that way!

( congregational amens ).

It doesn’t take very much for the Lord to put us into a circumstance where we realize we simply…the strongest, the wisest, the best, as we humanly evaluate things, among us does not have what it takes.