The Sweetness and Bitterness of the Christian Walk

I Peter 4:12-17

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.14  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.16  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?18  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

James 1:2-8

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

These verses contrast well the Christian walk. It is not all roses and no thrones. The Christian life has both bitter times and Sweet times. Times of Joy, and Times of sorrow. Times to rejoice and time to cry. We often forget 

Often, I have believers ask my why do they have to go through the things they endure. They have this idea of God that since He loves, we should never have any complications or trials. Everything should be smooth sailing. Well, I am here to tell you, that just is not the case. A good parent will allow their child to endure some uncomfortable times in teaching them. They will not give them everything they want because a good parent knows that is not always what is best. Life has ups and downs and the Christian walk is no different. So today, let us look at the bitterness and how it leads to sweetness. This is a very hard and difficult subject to develop so I hope I give it the justice it deserves.

I. This life leads us to a far better life –

I Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls

II. Trials lead to spiritual maturity – without the trials, there is no growth – we would always be babes –

a. We would be unable to understand spiritual things
b. We would live an alienated life
c. We would miss life’s greatest blessings

I Corinthians 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able

III. Some of the bitter things we face even as believers

a. Death
b. Illness
c. Financial and job loss
d. Loss of loved ones
e. Betrayal
f. Persecution
g. You can name many more
i. During these difficult times, we have something that the world does not have.

  1. His promise – Hebrews 13:5 -6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
  2. The Spirit to comfort – John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
  3. A supernatural power the world does not have – Luke 24:49-53 – And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
  • Only believers are able to praise during struggles
  • Only believers are able to “bless God”
  • Only believers can witness to God’s tremendous grace, mercy, and goodness.
  • Only believers can worship God when things are not what we expect

IV. We have the church that provides comfort for and strength

Ephesians 4:8-13 – Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

  1. We all are gifted for service
  2. We all are blessed with opportunities for ministry
  3. We all are blessed with being edified and being able to edify
  4. We all have a unity of purpose with fellow believers – a. we are not alone,
    b. We get to experience His fulness
    c. we are being made complete in Him – Romans 8:29-31 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
    d. We will be totally conformed (made like Him) to His image
    e. We have a large eternal family
    f. We are called, justified, and glorified
    g. GOD IS ON OUR SIDE – He is for us.

Jonah, part 5 God Working in the Middle of Life’s Storms

Jonah 2

1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,  2  And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.3  For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.4  Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.5  The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.6  I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.7  When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.8  They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.9  But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.10  And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

NOTE: God calmed the sea for those who turned to Him

Keep in mind, the men on the ship had to obey the man of God for God to calm the sea

God can speak through His man even when His man is not fully obeying Him

God will deal with His man, He does not need any help

Jonah’s pride brought about his trial

Proverbs 16:18-20

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 19   Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20   He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.

It is better to be poor and meek then to be rich and proud – Lowly – poor, humble, afflicted, meek

Haughty spirit – to think of yourself as better or above anyone else –

  1. Strife – to be contentious with the idea of control or gain
  2. To think others cannot be as good as you
  3. Always “right” attitude

God prepared a way out even before Jonah repented

1 Corinthians 10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it

Temptation: (Strong’s definition)

  • an experiment, attempt, trial, proving1a) trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul
  • the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances
  • an internal temptation to sin
  • of the temptation by which the devil sought to divert Jesus the Messiah from his divine errand
  • of the condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from the faith and holiness
  • adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness1c) temptation (i.e. trial) of God by men1c1) rebellion against God, by which his power and justice are, as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves

God already knows you are going to face difficulty as a believer

God already knows you will have times of unbelief

God has already made a way back to Him even before you leave

Repentance is the key back to a close relational fellowship with Him

Sometimes storms are just God’s way of helping us get back on track

  1. Learn to thank God for the storms of life that correct our way
  2. Learn that not all storms are bad
  3. Understands that God DOES send storms into your life.
  4. We often can control how long the storm lasts
  5. Let us be sure we apply
  • humility in all things
  • defer to others
  • prayer of repentance for our own sins and the sins of our nation
  • full obedience  to His every word
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