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OUR STRUGGLES OPEN DOORS

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.   Two interesting verses about man.

1.    Job 14:1

 

Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

 

2.    Ecclesiastes 2:23

 

For all his days are sorrow, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night.  This is also vanity.

 

B.   One has describes the life of a man as

1.    Preparing for a struggle

2.    Enduring a struggle

3.    Leaving a struggle

 

C.   Not one human life has ever been free of some form of struggle or hardship.

1.    Some of them are long, hard, and trying.

2.    Some of them cause us to question and doubt.

3.    Some bring us to the edge, if not the middle, of depression.

4.    Some leave us angry and bitter.

 

D.   Although life’s struggles are never pleasurable, we must remember that our struggles open doors and expose us to many things.  The title of our lesson is:  “Struggles Open
Doors.”

 

I.             OPEN DOORS TO OUR WEAKNESSES

 

A.   All of like to believe that we are strong, faithful, and dependable, especially to God.

 

B.   Struggles have a way of opening doors to our weaknesses: 

1.    Lack of strength

2.    Lack of faith

3.    Lack of knowledge

4.    Negative emotions

5.    Lack of obedience

 

C.   Examples:

1.    Saul’s lack of courage was exposed by Goliath (I Sam. 17:10-11).

 

And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day, give me a man, that we may fight together.  When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

 

2.    Peter talked and acted confident until he was confronted by a damsel at the palace (Matt. 26:69-70).

 

Now Peter sat without in the palace:  and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou wast also with Jesus of Galilee.  But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

 

II.           OPEN DOORS TO OUR STRENGTHS

 

A.   There are times when we wonder if we really have what it takes to survive the storms of life.

 

B.   When the storms come, we find that are very strong.  We demonstrate strengths that we have never demonstrated before.

1.    Endurance

2.    Faith

3.    A positive attitude

4.    Conviction

 

C.   There are so many in the Bible who manifested strength in their struggles.  Job, however, always shines as the primary example.

1.    Job 1:20-22

 

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither:  the Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

 

2.    Job 13:15

 

Though he slay me, yet will I trust him:  but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

 

III.         OPEN DOORS TO GROWTH

 

A.   Struggles have a way of challenging our thoughts and the ways in which we behave.         

1.    The easy road is no longer an option.

2.    Our thinking processes and actions must change in order to endure and overcome.

3.    This is called growth.  We become a “different” person.

 

B.   The Bible often links trials and growth.

1.    Romans 3:3-4

 

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:  knowing that tribulations worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.

 

2.    James 1:2-4

 

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

 

C.   Joseph grew in his struggles.

1.    He began as the youngest son and a shepherd.

2.    He became the second in power in the land of Egypt and saved his entire family.

 

IV.         OPEN DOORS TO GOD

 

A.   When all is well, when we seem self-sufficient, we can forget God.  This is true even when we “to through the motions” of serving Him.

1.    We acknowledge Him, but we don’t depend on Him.

2.    We give Him lip service, but we do not really see Him as the power source of our lives.

 

B.   Struggles humble us.  Struggles weaken us.  Struggles take away our self-sufficiency.  Struggles make us dependent.

1.    In our afflictions, we begin to look toward God.

2.    We have all heard the expression:  “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

3.    Asaph (Ps. 73).

a.    Asaph reveals his spiritual condition (v. 2).

 

But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipt.

 

b.    The cause was the prosperity and well-being of the wicked (vs. 3-9)>

c.    How did Asaph overcome? (v. 28)

 

But it is good for me to draw near to God:  I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

 

V.           OPEN DOORS TO PRAYER

 

A.   Sometimes in our struggles, we run out of physical solutions.  Physically, there is not more that can help us.

 

B.   The only option that we have is to PRAY!

 

C.   I am reminded of Peter who beheld the stormy seas and began to sink into the salty grave (Matt. 4:30).

 

D.   We don’t have the presence of Jesus in front of us, but we to have the presence of God above us (Heb. 4:16).

 

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

1.    Prayer ignites God’s power on our behalf.

2.    Prayer opens the door to God’s storehouse of resources.

3.    Prayer unlocks the chest of God’s riches.

4.    Prayer activates the voice of God to charge His heavenly hosts to assist us.

5.    Prayer reminds us of God’s bountiful promises.

6.    Prayer brings God’s wisdom to our desperate circumstances.

7.    Prayer ignites hope in the heart because we know that God is faithful.

 

VI.         OPEN DOORS TO OTHERS

 

A.   Most of us do not live in solitude.  We have others who are actively involved in our lives.

 

B.   When we are passing through our trials, often times others are drawn to us and assist us in our difficulties.

 

C.   Example:  Paul and the church in Philippi

1.    When Paul writes to the church at Philippi, he is in prison.

2.    One of the purposes of his writing was to give thanks to the church for sending a gift to meet his needs.

a.    Philippians 4:10a

 

But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again…

 

b.    Philippians 4:18

 

But I have all, and abound:  I am full, having received of Epaphraditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

 

D.   All of us could probably tell stories about how others have come to assist us in our time of need.

 

VII.       OPEN DOORS TO HOPE

 

A.   When we first enter our struggles, we see only darkness.

 

B.   We often have many questions.

1.    Why?

2.    Can I make it?

3.    What is the purpose of this difficulty?

 

C.   At some point in our struggle, we find hope.

1.    There will be a better life after this.

2.    I can recover from this.

3.    I do see the purpose of my suffering.

4.    I am ready to enter the world that is beyond this one.

 

D.   Paul knew his life was going to be taken from him, but he was filled with hope and optimism (II Tim. 4:6-8a).

 

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  henceforth there is laid up for ma a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.   Hebrews 12:11

 

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous:  nevertheless afterward it yeildeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

 

B.   The fruits of suffering come to us through many doors that are opened to us as we pass through the fires of affliction.

 

C.   If we can keep this in perspective, our suffering will not overcome us (Heb. 12:12-13).

 

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the ay; but let it rather be healed.