— Brother Phil Enlow: You know, I’ve just been thinking about the service and my mind keeps coming back to a single word. And it’s an exciting subject called ‘trouble.’
( laughing ).
But I don’t know, it just seems to keep coming back to that and I think we all know what that’s about. But, I feel like the Lord wants to explore it just a little bit this morning and give us, maybe, a fresh look.
And I thought of a scripture, just as a sort of starting point, in the words of Jesus in John 16. Jesus has just been talking with His disciples. This is the night before He was crucified, giving them words of instruction, of encouragement, knowing that very shortly they’re gonna be frightened and scattered, but needing to have a sense that, hey, this is going someplace good, even though we don’t understand what’s happening right now. We know who this is and we trust in Him.
And so, Jesus says in verse 31…they reach a point where they seem to have a settled conviction as to who He is and we know you’re from God. And so, Jesus says, “You believe at last! Jesus answered.” (NIV). This is 16, if I didn’t say that. “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.”
Praise God! Isn’t that a truth that we all need to lay hold of? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.” That sounds like a pretty positive, simple statement, to me, doesn’t it you? “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
( congregational praise ).
Thank God for that balance. There’s the overcoming, there’s the peace. So, you see that the Lord is dealing with a fact, isn’t He? I mean, we all understand that. That’s the kind of world we live in.
And you know, I looked up the word ‘trouble.’ I don’t think there’s anything revolutionary about it, but it’s used as a translation of several different terms and some of them are just simply the word ‘adversity.’ You could really substitute that word. Our nature wants things to be smooth, doesn’t it? We’re born into a world that is bent a certain way and our nature agrees with it. And so, by nature, we want things to be smooth, to be easy, to be…to have the soft wind blowing and going in the direction we want it to go, to have our desires catered to and everything to be pleasant.
And yet, we know from the Word, we know from experience, hopefully, most of us, that that’s not the kind of world, really, we live in. That world that we would try to be a part of, by nature, is headed for catastrophe. We talked about that last week. There is a day coming. And this is a very temporary thing. And God has a larger purpose in it than just smoothing our feathers and making life smooth and easy.
And so, I was just thinking, as I say, of exploring this subject and even this morning I thought of a way to talk about this, and the Lord will have to help me, as He always does, anyway. I certainly can’t do this.
But I thought about it from this point of view. Suppose you were from somewhere else, other than this world. And somehow you found yourself here and you arrive on the scene and you say, what’s going on here? And imagine you were also able to see, not only the physical world, but the spiritual realm. And so, you’re saying, I don’t get this. Somebody explain this to me.
And so, whoever’s explaining it to you says, well, there’s a God who’s over all. He’s everywhere and He’s all-powerful and He has a plan from the foundation of the world. And He created this beautiful place and He created a race of people that He intended to be His sons and daughters, to live with Him and to enjoy Him and to share His life and all of that, but they rebelled.
And so…and there was an enemy that He had. One of His servants was an enemy. And so, he led them in rebellion and now the world is under the dominion of this other…this wicked being who just causes trouble. And so, that’s where it’s at.
And so, your question, of course, is, well, my God, He’s all-powerful. Why doesn’t He just fix it? Why doesn’t He just step in and end all this stuff? And so, whoever it is that’s explaining to you says, well, now let’s watch. Let’s see what God’s trying to do with this.
And so, we see God having a purpose. Perhaps He’s calling somebody out of this world. And He calls them to Himself and He makes them aware and they give their lives to Him and basically, coming to Him is changing sides, because we’re all born as citizens of this world and our allegiance, effectively, is here. That’s it. Satan is our god. We may not think that. We may think, I’m doing what I want, but that’s…effectively, we’re serving him.
But I’ll tell you, coming to Christ is changing sides. It is recognizing that God has established a King, His Son on a throne, and He is in charge. And it’s also recognizing that this world has already been defeated. Praise God! We sang about it this morning, the victory that was won at the Cross. It’s real! And so, there is a Kingdom into which we have been called.
But yet, you might look from the outside and say, well, that’s wonderful! Praise God! All He has to do is just lift them out of here and take them there. He said, wait a minute, they’re not ready for that. I’ve got stuff that needs to be done. I have got a…not only have I got a place, a special place, for every single one that I make a part of my Kingdom, I’ve got a special place in this world that’s to come that’s just exactly...they’re designed for it. And so, I’ve got to work in them to help get them ready for that.
Okay, well that’s great, but what about here? He says, oh, I’ve got purposes for every single one of My children here, every single one that I’ve got to make changes. They’re so geared, in a practical sense, to their life here and what people want out of this world, and so, I’ve got to change them.
Well, praise God! Then let’s just let the sun shine and let’s let them go to Sunday school and church and learn all about it and that’ll fix everything, won’t it? But it doesn’t work that way, does it?
And so, what happens…so you have this…I mean, you’re sitting there watching all of this and all of a sudden you watch one of God’s children and you watch this devil come up and begin to cause them trouble. All of a sudden, they’re going along, everything’s just great and grand and they’re not doing anything particularly wrong, but all of a sudden there’s this terrible trouble that comes into their life.
You say, wait a minute, what’s going on with that? Why isn’t God stepping in? Why doesn’t He stop that? And he says, just wait and watch. And so, you see the person involved begin to cry out and to say, oh, God, I can’t handle this. Lord, I don’t understand. There are all the questions, all the things that come up. But what it does is stir people up to say, wait a minute, I need God! I need this One to whom I’ve turned. I can’t handle this! Lord, help me to understand what I need to understand. Help me to be set free from things that you see in me that I don’t see. But oh, God, I’m looking to You!
And you’re sitting there watching all of this and you’re asking about it, and you watch them begin to grow and you watch them begin to get stronger in their confidence toward God and their attitudes towards others and they begin to be changed.
And whoever is talking to you says, you know, it’s kind of like a sculptor. God’s creating every one of His children as a special masterpiece. Everyone’s different and God is absolutely working on each one. And you know on a sculpture there’s stuff that’s got to be chipped away, isn’t there? Everything has got to…something has got to change.
And so, God is taking things out and chipping them away, and the person who’s being chipped usually doesn’t get it. And so, we react and we say, oh, God, not that! And the Lord says, yes, let go! Exactly what Steve said at the beginning of the service. Let go, trust God, just surrender into His hands. He knows what He’s doing.
Now remember, we’re standing outside, and we’re looking at this from God’s point of view and whoever’s talking about this says, don’t forget, God planned all this before the world was framed. And here we are, we’re watching the middle of it. We’re seeing the outworking of something. And so, our question is, okay, so how’s it gonna come out? I still don’t quite understand what’s going on. How does this come out?
And boy, I haven’t thought this part through but I’ll tell you, wouldn’t it be something if you could jump ahead to the end of time? But whoever’s saying this, I’ll tell you, God has got this! This God who planned this from all eternity, He has absolutely got His hand on that person. He knows the plan. He knows how much to let the devil get in there. Do you know the devil can’t get in there unless the Lord lets him? So, if trouble comes and the devil’s brought it, don’t ever forget the Lord sent it! And He sent it because of a loving, wonderful, personal purpose. And He has a reason.
I mean, there’s nothing I’m saying that we haven’t heard many times, but I’ll tell you, seems like we need this. We need this because it’s not just the information, we’re every one of us in real situations. And the trouble we’re talking about isn’t necessarily just some terrible, outward thing that comes upon us. You know, our property is destroyed, or someone’s sick, or someone’s just died or it could be a thousand and one things.
It could be something that’s inside your own heart that you’re struggling with and nobody else knows about. But oh, it’s trouble. Oh, God, I’m struggling, I’m full of fear. I’m full of…something happened to me that was traumatic and it’s just eating on me and it’s sitting in there and I can’t let it go. Oh, it’s just…and it rises up and it begins to cause trouble in the present. It just goes into every facet of human nature.
You know, we talked Wednesday night…we sort of had a service of participation where everybody chipped in and boy, the Lord helped us, didn’t He? I was sitting there fighting it, saying no, I’ll let somebody else, and then I don’t know, the Lord just…He won. But what we did was to explore all the ways that the devil works, his bag of tricks, if you will. Or, “…we are not ignorant…,” Paul said in one place, “…of his devices.” (KJV).
But we’ve got this enemy of God who is so deceived in his mind that he is still trying to win. And all his…it doesn’t matter whether he even thinks he can. His nature drives him to do what he’s doing. He is going to relentlessly work.
But you know, I want us to see something this morning, perhaps in a fresh way. Imagine now you’re still standing out there and looking, and saying, but help me to understand what’s going on. Why is the Lord letting the devil do that?
And the answer comes back. The devil is only a tool. He is a tool in the hands of God to fulfill something that is absolutely eternal. It is a purpose that God conceived in His mind. Every one that He deals with, every person that He calls is someone that He knew intimately before He ever created the world. That’s mind boggling! To think that there are things in the depths of my being that I don’t even know as I ought, perhaps, but God knew them! What a God we serve, who’s able to take that…to take the tangled threads of this world and weave them into something that is eternal.
And I can just hear you saying, well, looking on this scene, boy, the devil must be awfully frustrated. He can’t possibly win and there he is. All he’s doing is spinning his wheels and everything he does turns out for God’s purpose instead of his. Praise God!
I’ll tell you…and isn’t it interesting how the Lord wants us to react in all of this. He prefaces what He says there, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” (NIV). Peace. That’s amazing!
But you know, if we could see, if we could take the vantage point of that person who has suddenly arrived on our planet, trying to explain it, trying to understand it, if we could suddenly see from that point of view, wouldn’t that change everything? You know, we could actually sing, “He didn’t bring us this far to leave us,” and believe it, in practice.
We wouldn’t...we tend to sing these things, and it’s good and I understand we’re in the process, we’re growing, we’re learning so I’m not saying that in any condemning way. But you understand what I’m saying. We sing a lot of things and it’s good to profess them but possessing them is much…there’s a lot more to possessing something than simply getting information.
I’ll tell you, there’s a God who wants to do something in us that’s real, that’s practical. We could have the most perfect doctrine, the most perfect program that one could conceive and we would still have nothing of eternal value if God didn’t come in and really transform lives and hearts.
And I’ll tell you, the only way He can do it is to introduce what we call trouble in some form or other. And so, I’ll tell you, it’s not our enemy, it’s our friend. But if we can see, as I say, the way…from His point of view, we would have a peace that passes understanding. We’d be able to cast all our care upon Him knowing that He cares for us. “But take heart…” He says. “…You will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
And you know, you could sort of look at the lives of people in the scriptures. We know about events that happened. But wouldn’t it be nice just to step back…wouldn’t it be nice if we could step back and take the viewpoint of somebody who is able to see all the stuff that’s going on, not just the physical?
I mean, you think about the life of Jesus. He came down into the world that we live in. He came to a world of trouble and experienced it all, in one form or another. And so…I mean, this is not somebody that we can’t go to. This is somebody who absolutely knows everything you and I have ever experienced to the ‘nth’ degree and He is able.
You know, we practiced an old song this morning, “He’s Ever Interceding.” What a glorious, simple truth that God has given His Son and just…He didn’t sit there on a throne or direct traffic from up there. He came down. You think of the weakness, you think of the vulnerability, in a sense, of being a little fetus and then a little baby, completely helpless, completely dependent upon a human mother.
But oh, I’ll tell you, there was a God who overshadowed every bit of that. There He was, a little child and some wise men came from the east and they went to the…in all innocence they went and said, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (KJV). And the king got wind of it. He said, whoa.
Now what do you think was going on behind the scenes in that? Do you think, just maybe, the devil was trying to say, hey, I got a chance to do something about this? I know this was coming. Man, we’ve got somebody in here that I need to deal with. This is the Son of God.
So, what did he do? He came up with a scheme immediately to send to Bethlehem and let’s kill every baby under two years old. We don’t know which one it is, but we know we’ll get rid of Him if we do that. Now what was the inspiration behind that?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah! You see Satan intervening, but how about God intervening? Yeah! He sent an angel and said, get up…in the middle of the night, get out of here to Egypt. And so, they weren’t there. And over and over and over again you see this in the life of Jesus, how Satan is just constantly trying to find some way to get to Him, to undermine Him.
There were times He couldn’t go certain places because they were out to kill Him and it wasn’t the time, it wasn’t the purpose of God at that point. Every point…we see Jesus going out into the wilderness and at His weakest point the Father steps back and Satan is allowed to come at Him to appeal to His human nature from every possible angle. And Jesus went there and He prayed and He looked to God.
I don’t doubt that this was the place where the writer to the Hebrews must have referred to, certainly it was one of them. Where, “…with strong crying and tears…” He cried out, “…unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard…” There was some serious praying that Jesus did.
I wonder how serious we are, sometimes. But He understood the issues. He said, oh, God, I’m here to do Your will, I’m not here to do My will. I’m part of something that’s eternal and my whole hope, my whole trust is in You and I recognize there is a war that’s going on. Satan is being allowed to work in me.
And isn’t it interesting, that we pointed out so many times, that at that very scripture that talks about how He had to cry out and pray and He learned—learned obedience. There was something that Jesus had to go through to get ready to be able to do what He did. And it only came as trouble came. And trouble came because the devil…because the Father stepped back and let the devil do his thing.
But the devil’s purpose was to destroy Him, God’s purpose was to shape Him and make Him the Savior that we need and we worship today! Praise God!
So, the Father was changing Him and He learned, “…obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect….” Wait a minute, I thought He was perfect. But there was a completeness that made it…He needed a completeness that could only happen as He came here to the world of sin and trouble and overcame, personally, while feeling every weakness that you and I have ever felt. And He came through it all.
I mean, you talk about what He says right here, “…take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV). He knew that there was a victory that He had come to win. He understood the battle! He understood the Father’s plan! He understood His place in it and He yielded Himself to that place!
Is that not what God has called every one of us to in His Kingdom? To absolutely give our lives to Him so that He can shape us for what His purpose is, not only here, but in eternity? Praise God, I’m so glad that we don’t have to...that we can have an understanding. God wants us to get this because…well, I thought of a scripture, back in chapter 15, I think it is. I’ll just look at it real quickly.
In the first place, verse 16, Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you….” Praise God! Folks, if you have come to a knowledge of God…I’m not gonna go down the line where it’s all up to God and we have no responsibility. I’m not gonna go to that extreme, but I’ll tell you, there is a God who chooses. There is a God who calls somebody out of this world.
We didn’t go looking for Him. He came looking for me. I would never, in a million years, have gone after Him. I would have lived and died in blindness, if God had not overshadowed my heart and made Himself known to me and then given me the strength and the grace to repent and put my faith in Jesus Christ. I would never have done it.
And so, here is Jesus talking to His disciples saying, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” Praise God!
But look down later on. “Peace I leave with you….” Jesus was about to leave this world but He says I’m gonna leave something for you. I’m gonna leave my peace. He says, “…my peace I give you.” Do you think Jesus is worried? Do you think He has any anxiety about whether God can pull this off? Does He want us to live in a state of anxiety? Oh, my God, what’s gonna happen?
No, we have access to the very peace of God. Isn’t that what it says? Is He at peace? He knows what He’s purposed. He understands, the devil is My tool. He cannot win when it comes to My people.
Do we understand that? Can we come with all the things that…all the troubles that life brings, that God sends to work in us to help us, can we understand that to the point where we can let the peace of God, which transcends understanding…you can’t even understand it.
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. How can I be at peace with this going on? And there’s the world…I mean, there’s the Lord helping us but also bearing witness to the world. They’re looking on and saying, I don’t get this. Maybe they’ve got something I need. Just one of the purposes of God.
“…The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I’ll tell you, we’ve got an awesome God and trouble is not our enemy. If we can understand the purpose of God, it is a friend that we can rest in God in.
I’m not making light of trouble. Trouble can be a traumatic, difficult thing. There are some terrible things that, from a human point of view, that God allows His people to go through, but I’ll tell you, there’s never a time, there’s never a place where if you’re His child He has left you for one second.