September 6, 2007

GOD'S GRACE FOR OUR LIVES....

God’s Grace for our Trials
Preached on Sunday, July 08, 2007,
By Pastor Agu Irukwu







Today, we have missed the whole point in our Christian race; we spent more time working for a car, more time working for larger house, more time working for a better life not knowing that all these are lies of satan. The principle of God’s kingdom is ...

This message is an experience of Pastor Agu Irukwu and his family during the 16 months his late wife battles with Cancer before she went to be with the Lord after about thirteen and a half years of fantastic marriage.

The true natures of the relationships we have are revealed in our times of trials and difficulties. Superficial relationships (with inherent defects) and deep, solid, stable and strong relationships with no inherent defects are revealed in times of pressure. How are you when you go through trials and loose a loved one? Can you look into the future with hope after you loose a loved one? You can be so well after you loose a loved one if you refuse to the stereotypic way the unbelievers mourn the death of their loved ones. The following are the things that could keep you well in your times of trials:

1. God’s Amazing Grace

In your trials and grief, you can give a real laugh, give genuine smile, and encourage others without grieving hopelessly like the unbelievers if you have the amazing grace of God. There is a dimension of God’s grace that is absolutely heavenly. This grace can make you so well no matter what you go through in life.

You might be misunderstood when you operate in the grace of God instead of grieving because it is difficult to understand God’s genuine grace. The grace of God is so unnatural. An example of God’s unmerited favor is in the story of the two criminals that were crucified with Jesus:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43, NIV)

One of the criminals, in his ignorance, heralded insults on grace because did not recognize that grace was available to him (in Jesus). The other criminal sensed that grace is in the Lord Jesus, reached out of his hopeless situation and asks Jesus for grace, though he knew that he’s getting what his deeds deserve. Jesus showers grace on this criminal and he became a testimony of amazing grace. Like this criminal that receives grace, we all deserve what we are getting but there is a dimension where Christ steps in where it does not matter what you are getting when heaven has chose to just pour grace out on you.

God’s grace is available to you no matter what you are going through because God makes clear by His grace that He is still God in the midst of your adversity

2. We are Different

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God's] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9, AMP)

As Christians, we should be different in the way we respond to trials. It is a travesty of the gospel when Christians mourn like unbelievers in the face of trials. Christians should model how people go through trials because there is a certain grace and dignity a Christian must have in times of trials and it comes from knowing something that other people don’t know. We should not wear trials on our faces.

The worst thing that could happen to us during our times of trials is death, and for a Christian, it is not such a bad option, it is a transition to glory. Paul said to live is Christ and to die is gain. Christians should not assume that death is the worst satan can do because death for a Christian is to sleep here on earth and wake up in the bosom of God – this cannot be such a bad idea. The threat of death is a lie of satan to hold-bound the church. The apostles of old understood that to live is Christ and they live with the sense that they have an assignment. They were beaten, crucified, and ostracized because they understood the mystery that to live is Christ. Their life means more than materials to them and they are aware that dying is not a bad option. As Christians, we cannot be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2), we ought not to mourn like people without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14) and we should be full of hope when a loved one goes to be with the Lord

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14, NIV).

If we are sad for loosing a loved one, it should be a sadness anchored on hope, not a hopeless sadness.

3. Our Circumstances Cannot Change God

God is moved purely by His purpose, not by our sentiments or emotions. Your circumstances and cry cannot move God. An example is found in John the Baptist’s life in jail. John was special, the forerunner of Jesus, anointed, and he was the man of his day. He had a church in the wilderness and has a lot of crowd. He was jailed by Herod and his attitude in jail was very instructive.

After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee. When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b]are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me." (Matthew 11:1-6)

While in prison, John looked at his circumstances, he thought about everything he’s done for the kingdom, and he began to develop an attitude towards God. He was hearing about the success of Jesus’ ministry and he was irritated. He sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the messiah. Like John, we today tell God we pay our tithes and we are not prospering, we attend all prayer meetings but our requests are not met, we’ve been faithful but we are childless and therefore develop an attitude against God. Some give God an ultimatum. These sentiments do not move or change God. Heaven’s agenda will go on irrespective of you, you cannot hold heaven to ransom, your bad attitude cannot stop the work of God, and heaven is matching on. Don’t get an offense in your heart because of your trials because heaven’s agenda is not affected by your life.

4. Understand the Sovereignty of God

We can ask God questions but we must never question God. Sometimes, you think you are asking God questions but what you’re really doing is questioning the person of God. There are dimensions of God’s sovereignty we might not understand on earth. There are prayers God might decide not to answer and there is nothing you can do about it.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).

There are things that will remain secret in the mind of God and we would only understand them after we cross over to eternity. Paul complements this fact in 1 Corinthians 13:9 when he states that

…our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect). But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded). (1 Corinthians 13:9, 10, AMP)

We must be humble enough to acknowledge that there are levels and dimensions of God’s sovereignty that we don’t understand. The record of Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:8 will make us understand that there are dimensions of God’s ways that our mind will never comprehend on this side of eternity. It is therefore foolish arrogance to imagine that we can figure God out completely.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord (Isaiah 55: 8).

We must understand that God is the Creator and we are the creatures, He is the Porter and we are the clay and the porter can do whatever he wants with the clay. We must be mortal enough to acknowledge that God’s immortality and be humble enough to acknowledge that He is God and God alone and that He rules and He reigns in the affair of a man.

a. Elisha

Elisha demonstrated God’s power in his lifetime. God wrought thirty-two dynamic miracles through Elisha. Elisha fell sick and died of his sickness despite all his miracles and anointing. However, Elisha’s dead bones revived a dead man.

Now Elisha [previously] had become ill of the illness of which he died….Elisha died, and they buried him. Bands of the Moabites invaded the land in the spring of the next year. As a man was being buried [on an open bier], such a band was seen coming; and the man was cast into Elisha's grave. And when the man being let down touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13:14, 21-22)

This story shows how difficult it is to figure God out. There was enough anointing in Elisha’s dead bones to bring up a dead man’s body to life but the anointing could heal Elisha of his sickness.

5. God does not use His Sovereignty Arbitrarily

Since we cannot figure out God or question what He does. Does this mean He just uses His power on us illogically? Does He just sits in heaven and exercises His sovereignty arbitrarily on His creatures? No. Whenever we are faced with a trial or life challenges, we should first ask ourselves if God is trying to say something to us or to the people around us through the exercise of her sovereignty. God is always giving a message in the exercise of His sovereignty because His sovereignty is intertwined with His purpose and He uses the exercise of His sovereignty every time to advance His purpose. In our trials, we should ask God the part of His purpose He is seeking to advance because He is not a wicked God who sits in heaven to impose pain on His creatures.

a. Hosea

For God to show Hosea how much he loved Israel, He instructed Hosea to go and marry Gomer, a bad girl and an adulterer, and have children through her.

When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son (Hosea 1:2, 3).

Hosea did exactly as the Lord instructed him. After the prostitute had three sons for Hosea, she went back to her prostitution and God instructed Hosea to find her in the house of prostitution, bring her back home, accept her, love her, clean her up and never bring up her past life.

The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes." So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, "You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you." For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days (Hosea 3:1-4).

God was trying to illustrate through this exercise of His sovereignty the love He has for us. In the midst of our unfaithfulness, God is still out looking for us to take us back home and forget about our past. When satan brings accusations against us after we reconcile with God and repented, God simply tell satan He cannot remember we did because He decides to forget them.

The death of a loved one is not an easy thing in God’s sight. The Psalmist (Psalm 115:16) recorded that precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints

6. Nothing can Happen without God’s Permission

Satan has no greater power than God with respect to the trials that we go through or when we loose a loved one because nothing can happen without the God’s permission

Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? (Lamentations 3:37, NLT)

7. God Still Answers Prayers

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work (John 9:1-4, NKJV).

Going through trials or loosing a loved one does not mean that God no more answer prayers. In the above passage, Jesus’ disciples ask Him who sinned in the family of the man that was born blind. As natural human beings, the disciples were looking for natural explanation for the circumstances of life. Sometimes there is no natural explanation; it might be that God chose that circumstance to manifest His power.

Jesus explained to the disciples that He must continue the work of God while it is still day because the night time is coming when no one will be able to work despite their good intentions. Everybody will die when night comes. This is the time to strengthen your work for God now that it is still day. What are you doing now for the work of God while it is still day in your life? This is the time for you to renew your zeal and commitments for you to be spend and be spent doing the work of God. Everything you have done will be tested and be judged when night comes.

Today, we have missed the whole point in our Christian race; we spent more time working for a car, more time working for larger house, more time working for a better life not knowing that all these are lies of satan. The principle of God’s kingdom is clear, “the more you work for God, the more He blesses you with all material things” What are you doing for God now that it is still day in your life? We all want God to answer our prayers but who is going to answer God’s prayers. God is praying “for a man to stand in the gap”. Will you be like Hanna who understood that God needs a prophet? For she said, give me a son and I will give him back to you as a prophet, which is fair exchange. While we love to cast our burdens upon the Lord, we should not forget that He also asks us to take up His own light yoke. This is why we have converted church into a ‘bless me club’ while people are dying outside our walls. Today, we are too busy running our business and we are proud running for big corporations, what do you do when all these crumbles?

Again, what are you doing for God now that is still day in your life?

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