TV Transcripts

“The Purpose of Hardship” Part One
Broadcast #1550
June 19, 2022

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1550 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: You know, I was very conscious, not only in my own spirit but in hearing about others, as how much the enemy has oppressed. I believe every time we move forward, every time the Lord begins to work in us, and we sense His working, the enemy goes to work as well. And, isn’t it something that even though we know and have heard so many times the truths relating to this, when it comes to real life, we still go right down into the same valleys?

And it’s like…you know, and my reaction to that is, well my God, here we need to preach the same things we’ve been preaching over, and over, and over and over again. And we do, but we need the Lord to really get in it, and intervene so that we can actually move forward. I believe we are. I believe He’s helping us.

But you know, we need to realize, again, how it works. Last week, I think, we talked about how God burns, puts gold in the fire, to burn away the stuff that isn’t gonna last so that the stuff that will, and is worth something, is purified. And He certainly is doing that. But Lord, we need to…we need to realize, I believe, in a deeper sense what it is that God has called us to, and to seek God.

And, it’s not just for ourselves, but for one another. I believe we’re doing that, but I believe God wants to take us further. We’ve had so many references, recently, to God taking us to higher ground. We need to know what that is, because there is a cost. There is a price to pay to serve God in this broken world.

When Jesus talked about following Him, did He not say that you need to count the cost? That was a very clear message. It wasn’t like, this is gonna be a breeze, this is gonna be…you’re gonna step out of a difficult world into a wonderful, glorious, easy, comfortable life and then you’re gonna go to heaven one day. It’s often the opposite. And we need to realize that, and I believe we need to grow in grace and with this understanding.

But I believe we need to see this whole business in a deeper light than perhaps we have, because everything about the Kingdom of God could not be more contrary to human nature. And it’s awfully easy for us to go along and not realize how much we are living and reacting according to the old nature. And God sees and He knows, and fortunately He understands and is very patient, with working with us and helping us to set us free.

And we come kicking and screaming a lot of the time. I mean, you think about…when I was thinking about it the other day, here I am. I’ve preached this stuff and here I am, listening to the wrong voice and sort of sunk down. What I’m thinking about, of course, is me. It’s all about…life is all about me, didn’t you know that?

( laughter ).

Yeah, this entire world, this universe, revolves around me. I mean, forget about you guys. No, but that’s human nature. That’s how we all think, when you break it right down. Even people that are known for their charitable works. If you really broke it down as God sees the motives of the heart, you would find self at the center, somehow. Whether it’s self-righteousness trying to make up for guilt, whatever it is, there’s something there where self is on the throne, or it’s seeking recognition for all this wonderful stuff I’m doing. God help us, and He is.

So, God’s gonna have to put something together or else I’m not gonna be up here very long. But anyway, my thoughts went to something that Paul taught and emphasized on his first missionary journey. You know, he and Barnabus, on that particular journey, set out. They were anointed. They were chosen of God.

It was by revelation they went out. I mean, God literally spoke, supernaturally. “Separate me Barnabas and Saul…” (KJV). I’ve called them to do something. And so, they set out on this journey, went from city to city, and began to preach.

And, because of God’s…I believe it was appropriate that wherever they went, they first went to the synagogues, because the promises of the Scriptures had been given to the Jews. It was never for them alone, but God didn’t want to just bypass them.

This is what the Old Testament has been about, was Paul’s message everywhere. And he went through and he said, we are preaching the fulfillment of what God spoke through all the prophets. And these words were sent to you and so we want to bring you the Good News of what God has done.

And of course, then he had to tell them what happened in Jerusalem and how their religious leaders rejected the One that was sent. They crucified Him. But God raised Him from the dead and we’re here to tell you all about it. And we’re here to preach a forgiveness of sins that you cannot find under Moses’ law. This is so much deeper. There is a putting away of sin, once and for all, through the Gospel, where you had to keep on going, time after time, you could never get a clear conscience through Moses’ law. But now, the promise of God has come.

And in every place, there was a division among the people. I’ll tell you, the Gospel is a great divider. When people hear it, they either say, yes, and they surrender to it, or they go their way, and they wind up among the lost. And so, in every place where they went, there was this division.

And, many of the Jews…some of the Jews would stick with Paul and learn more and others would get jealous of all the attention that Paul and Barnabus were getting. And so, first thing you know, there was persecution stirred up in every place. But in every place, Paul reached out, not only to the Jews who would listen, but to the Gentiles.

And they had crowds come in. One place it said almost the whole city gathered. And so, you had this dynamic going on of a message that divides and a persecution and opposition arising against Paul and Barnabus.

And so, they went…one of these occasions was when he was stoned, and left for dead. I mean, literally, how would you like to be preaching the Gospel and all of a sudden, they take you out and they stone you and it looks like you are dead? And then the crowd takes and drags your body out of the city and dumps it and leaves it, believing you have died.

Would it be worth it to serve God? Yeah, we say, yeah, because we know to say, yeah. But, emotionally that’s not so easy, is it? But here was Paul, willing to do that, and it doesn’t say anything other than the disciples gathered around him and he went up…he got up and went back into the city and continued to preach.

Seriously? I mean, this is an amazing call that was upon that man’s life. So anyway, they reached the point where, all right, this journey, we believe, has come to an end. And what they did was to backtrack through all the places where they had already preached and been persecuted, but they went back to encourage the believers.

They went back to appoint elders. I mean, you didn’t have this great, long, drawn-out process. These were brand-new Christians and, in every place, God was able to put His hand upon some that were a little bit wiser, a little bit more mature, and could help to watch over, like big brothers who were able to watch over others, and encourage them to walk together.

But one of the main messages that he said was recorded in Acts chapter 14. I don’t know how much scripture I’m gonna actually turn to, but we’ll see. Like I say, this is very…not organized, but that’s okay. So anyway, “They preached the Gospel in that city…” verse 21, “…and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.”

Now here’s the key that he…here’s the key message. What would you want people to know? What message would you want to leave with people in your encouragement, as to how to stand and what this is all about? His message was this: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God, they said. Paul and Barnabas….” Then it says they, appointed elders, and so forth, “…with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord.”

But think about the essence of what Paul was saying. Think about how that contrasts with the message of what it means to come to God that you hear in so many places today. Come to God and you’ll be blessed. Your life will be smooth. God will prosper you, this prosperity gospel that is so utterly foreign to the scriptures.

But here is a message where if you’re gonna follow Him, it’s going to be a hard way. You will experience opposition! And you might as well get ready for it. It isn’t necessarily outward persecution, but folks, if we are sailing into and against the wind, should we not experience some of that?

We ought to be encouraged, rather than discouraged if we experience the opposition of Satan, however it comes. We should be saying, hey, Satan is concerned here. It’s not that he’s concerned about me as a human being. He’s concerned because God is beginning to get a little bit more of an influence in my life and I’m beginning to matter in this world.

You know, we are called to an amazing Gospel. And a lot of times we have emphasized how God has to work in us. There’s so much in us that is there, naturally, that is in the way, and it becomes a contest, in a way, where we have this brand-new life that’s imparted.

Like we said so many times, religion cannot do this. No form of self-effort can accomplish what the Gospel is meant to accomplish. I don’t care. We have to come to a place of surrender, of letting Him have our heart and our life so that He can change it, because He’s the only One that can.

But once we start down that road, the rest of our life you’re going to live in a world that is absolutely opposed, in every possible way, to what God means to accomplish. God has ordained that it be this way. This is absolutely central to what He means for us to be.

Now, I’m not saying anything we haven’t said many times before. But, I kind of want to take it a little bit further, if the Lord will help me. But you know, we’ve emphasized so many times how there are things in us that He needs to change.

And you know, you think about hardships and things that happen in the spirit. Many times, there are things that are happening in your heart. I believe there are people, right here today, and you’re struggling. And you’ve experienced a lot of pressure. And there’s opposition and Satan has planted thoughts in your heart about yourself and who you are.

( congregational response ).

Yeah, isn’t that kind of like normal? That’s where we’re at, folks, in so many ways. But you know, we think about hardships in the spirit are a little bit vague. It’s awful easy to go around and put a smile on your face and not be seen.

But I’ll tell you, you think about someone in the natural world and they’re having to fight through a storm. It’s like saying, if you’re gonna get to the destination I have for you, you’re gonna have to go through some storms. You’re gonna have some winds and waves when you cross the water. You’re gonna have hurricane force winds blowing against you at times. Yes, there’ll be times when it’s calm and quiet and peaceful, but don’t you be dismayed when the winds blow and the storms come.

You know, one of the things that I’ve found…the Lord seemed to draw my attention to it. It’s nothing new, really. But as I was beginning to feel some of the feelings that I know you experience as well, it was like, all of a sudden, I said, wait a minute! I’m a child of God! I am loved and chosen before the foundation of the world! I am seated with Him in heavenly places. Devil, who do you think I am? It’s not who I am, as though I am important. But it’s what God has done!

And here’s one of the things that we need to realize, is that when we are in those times when we are giving into…everybody can have negative thoughts, but when we sort of embrace them and begin to give in to self-pity, when we begin to give in to, oh, I’m so bad…I mean, that can be part of it. Oh, I’m such a failure. I’m this, I’m that. Who are we listening to? There’s a wisdom that is coming into our hearts and minds. Where is it coming from?

( congregational response ).

It’s coming from Satan, who of course, always tells the truth, doesn’t he? No! See, that’s the thing. You know, Revelation 12 talks about the accuser of the brethren, and we think oh, he’s accusing me of sin. This is an accusation that you’re worthless. You just proved it by what you just did. God couldn’t care about somebody like you. You’re a failure. You have no hope.

On and on and on and on the lies go, and the more we yield to that…and of course, the thing is, if you are already tired, as some of us are, we’re getting a little bit older and there are infirmities that begin to kick in. And now all of a sudden, you’ve got something else to deal with.

You know, I’ll tell you, right to the point where we turn up our toes, we’re gonna have things that will oppose what God is doing in our lives, and instead of those things being our enemy, God is actually using them to accomplish what He wants.

( congregational amens ).

But of course, when we’re in the middle of it we don’t see it that way. And so, we’re sitting there fighting. We’re sitting there fussing. We’re sitting there giving in. And, all of a sudden, all of our attention becomes focused on us.

And so, that was the thought…that was one of the thoughts that the Lord brought to my mind, particularly concerning me. It’s like, wait a minute! Let’s step back from this scene a little bit. I’m sitting here feeling sorry for myself, living in this little negative fantasy, whatever it is, whatever the particular issues were, and who am I listening to? And, what is he basically telling me that I am? He is absolutely attacking my identity in Christ!

The reality is, every one of us has shortcomings! Every one of us is, in ourselves, weak! Every one of us is unworthy. None of us does it, gets it all right all the time! But thank God that He has given us a perfect Savior!

( congregational amens ).

One who has taken every bit of that into account way before He ever saved us, knowing what our needs were! Oh, my God, what He’s done for us! We’ve got to step back and say, wait a minute! How did they overcome him? By the blood of the Lamb! It wasn’t by any virtue in me! And the message of the Gospel is, not that He has built a bridge that takes us almost to the other side if we can just build the rest of it. It goes all the way!

( congregational amens ).

But the price of going on that bridge is surrender…to where I recognize, I hear the call of the Gospel. It reminds me of what I truly am in myself and how much I need Him. I have no way to expunge the guilt, or the weaknesses or all the things that are wrong with me. All I can do is lay them at His feet and repent and turn around and say, oh God, save me. Give me a new life and a new heart. Do what is needed in my life. Lord, fill me with what You’ve given me.

Oh, what an answer for the devil—to the devil! And he’s angry! He knows his time is short! That was what the Lord was trying to give me a picture of. Let’s examine the players in this little drama here. You’ve got a devil who knows better than we do how perfectly he was defeated at the Cross and at the empty tomb! He knows his time is short! The scripture says in that very passage. He is angry! He’s, “…come down…having great wrath, because…” (KJV). Why? “… Because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Do you sense that in the world?

( congregational amens ).

We have a satanic spirit that is seeking to absolutely destroy this country, through division, and the world. So many things…I’m not gonna get off into that. But I’ll tell you what, we are in a world…the devil is absolutely throwing out everything that he can—every weapon that he can to destroy, to confuse, to do what he can while he can because he knows his time is short. Oh, I love the line in the old Martin Luther hymn. “One little word shall fell him”.

( congregational amens ).

Think about a tree that’s being felled. All God has to say is, it’s over! And he’s done! He’s done! He’s fulfilling a divine purpose right now. Oh, God’s sons and daughters are growing up having to learn how to stand, not because we’re anything in ourselves, not because what we can do in ourselves, but because of His grace, that we open our hearts to, and it fills us with something that he cannot stand against. Praise God!

But I’ll tell you where I fall down and I think all of us do, at times. I know we do. This is…none of this is for condemnation. We all experience these things. But oh, don’t we need to step back like the Lord helped me to do the other day and say, let’s look at what’s going on here?

Look at who I am because of what God has said and what He’s done. I’ve got to go by what He says, not by what the Devil says or what I think, even. I mean, if I look at myself, I’m not gonna find anything to find any…I’m not gonna find any basis for hope, or confidence. The further I go, the less confidence I have in myself, and that’s an awesome thing! Because it turns my heart to Him where my only hope comes from. And that’s a perfect hope! Praise God! Praise God!

And so now, I can come to a place where, instead of sitting there and just drinking and wallowing in those lies about who I am and how bad I am and how hopeless life is and what did I do to deserve this? And I’ve been trying so hard and it’s getting harder, it’s getting worse! Something must be bad wrong!

And here’s Paul going around saying, “…we must through…” many difficulties, whatever it was in that particular passage. Yeah, I got it right here, “…hardships…” ah, there we go. “…through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (NIV).

Oh, I’ll tell you, those hardships drive us, if we react correctly, instead of driving us into depression or whatever, they need to drive us to the Lord and say, oh God, You know all about this. You know, we mentioned several weeks ago how in all these things God will always make a way—the Lord will make a way. Yeah. He always…that’s His promise. Oh, we need to be going to Him and rising up.

I think I’ve said this before but, how many times, if we’re really honest, and we’re in a hard place are kind of a little resentful? Now it’s quiet! Did I touch a nerve? Yeah, isn’t that a human reaction? Yeah, because after all, if the universe revolves around me and something bad is happening, that’s not good! And yet, in God’s economy, it may be exactly—it is exactly the thing that I need.

Return to TV Transcripts