Monthly Archives: April 2020

Leading Under Trial

In February of 2020, I preached a series of messages on leadership. Once again, I had no idea how timely these messages would be, and as I preached them, I had no idea what trial would be coming to our world. In this series. I looked at various leaders who modeled for us how to lead in different ways. These were biblical characters who had different personalities, experienced different circumstances, lived in different time periods, and faced different challenges. I attempted to show the tremendous qualities each of these leaders possessed, and hopefully caused Christians to think about the kind of leaders we are.

In that series, I did not pick the leaders you would normally think about (other than one). The sermons were not on the more visible leaders our minds tend to gravitate toward, people like Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, etc. I purposefully chose more unassuming leaders to show diversity in the church, and how God uses all kinds of people to accomplish His purposes. I truly believe each Christian is a leader in some form or fashion, but they do not have to lead like everyone else. God has wired each person uniquely and specifically gifted them to lead right where He has placed them.

I began that series by looking at Joseph. Joseph is a hero in so many ways. His life is such an example and encouragement. If you have ever wondered how God can use your life, family, trials, difficulties, etc., you must look at the life of Joseph. Joseph came from a very dysfunctional family. He faced unique hardships. He was one of the youngest of his brothers, but favored specifically by his father. His brothers were jealous of him, his mother died giving birth to his youngest brother, and his overall circumstances were less than ideal. As I studied his life, he was a man who learned how to lead under trial. Here are five things I have learned from this life.

First, to lead under trial, you must cling to the promises of God. God gave Joseph a dream when he was seventeen years old, a promise Joseph would have to cling to time and time again. As Joseph shared this promise with his brothers, they grew jealous of him and betrayed him by selling him into slavery. Joseph never wavered in his belief. He trusted in what God had said to him.

 Second, to lead under trial, you must believe God is in control. Joseph’s faith was tested. As my father says, “A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.” As we walk with God in this life, our faith will be stretched. If we are going to endure in this life, we must truly believe that God is holding this world and our lives together. Joseph is an incredible example to us.

Third, to lead under trial, you must resist temptation. After Joseph was sold into slavery, an influential man named, Potiphar, took notice of him. God was always uniquely with Joseph and gave him favor before people. Joseph was promoted and made into a leader under Potiphar’s direction. One day, Potiphar’s wife made an inappropriate advance at Joseph. Joseph refused and this angered Potiphar’s wife. She falsely accused Joseph and he was thrown into prison for many years, but he remained faithful to God.

 Fourth, to lead under trial, you must remember that God sees you and is with you. Over and over in the story of Joseph, God’s Word says, “And the Lord was with Joseph.” When Joseph was in the pit, God was with him. When he was promoted, God was there. When he was thrown into prison, God came to him and strengthened him. Even when we feel forgotten, we must always remember, we are never forgotten by God. He is always with us.

Finally, to lead under trial, you must be controlled by Christ. As I have said before, “What consumes you, controls you.” In order to lead under trial, we must be consumed and controlled by Christ. While in prison, Joseph remained faithful. God gave him the ability to interpret dreams and Joseph found himself before Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh and he was promoted to second highest position in the land.

One day, Joseph’s brothers returned to Egypt to get food because of the famine in the land. They had not seen Joseph in fifteen years. Instead of getting even with his brothers, Joseph forgave them and said, “What you meant for evil, God used for good.” Joseph is such an example of how we walk by faith and lead under trial. Today, let us live and lead like Joseph, fully trusting God to accomplish His will.

If you would like to listen to the sermon I preached on Joseph, click here.

4 Anchors in the Storm

On January 19, 2020, I preached a sermon entitled, Anchors in the Storms. When I preached this message, little did I know what was coming to our world. At that time, I, along with most people, had never heard of the Coronavirus. The goal of the sermon was to help people prepare for and endure the storms of life that will inevitably come their way. As I have said many times, “In a fallen world, sometimes your greatest fears come true.” The good news is, because of Jesus, there is real hope. No matter what you have faced, are facing, or will face, there is always hope. I said that back in January, and I still believe it today.

In the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul is heading to Rome on a ship with over 200 other people. They set sail from Caesarea, which under normal circumstances would take five weeks. However, due to a wide variety of circumstances, it took Paul nearly five months to complete his journey. They faced hardships of many kinds, including a terrible storm, making their trip incredibly arduous.

When all hope of being saved was lost because of the storm, an angel of the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” At just the right time, God spoke truth into Paul’s life, and he was able to encourage all on board.

As I studied this passage, I saw four essential anchors needed for the storms of life.

First, the anchor of God’s presence. Paul lived with a unique awareness of God’s presence in his life. When all the other men were panicked and afraid, Paul was able to remain calm because he knew God was with him. In this life, you are either focused on the storm, or the God of the storm. When your focus is on your problems, you will have no peace, but when your focus is on God, He will be your peace. As you have probably heard before, “Peace is not the absence of problems; peace is the presence of God.” The anchor of God’s presence is absolutely essential in this life.

Second, the anchor of worship. In this passage, Paul says there appeared before him an angel of the God to whom he belongs and whom he worships. This is very important. Worship is not a once a week event, it is a lifestyle. Paul’s life was worship. The word worship most literally means “worth ship.” Whatever we value above all other things is what we worship. I like to say, “What consumes us, controls us.” Our worship most simply comes down to what controls our thoughts, desires, and actions. Paul was a worshipper of God. We know it because his life revealed it. When the storms of life come, you do not want to be scrambling to worship, you want to be found already worshipping. For Paul, he did not have to try and do something foreign to him. When the storms came, and God appeared to him, it was personal. This was the God he belonged to and whom he worshipped. In this life, storms will come, and one way we can be prepared is by living a life of worship to God.

Third, the anchor of truth. This is perhaps the most important anchor we need in our lives. The angel appeared and spoke truth to Paul. He said that were would be no loss of life among those on the ship, and that they should not be afraid because God was going to make sure they got to Rome. Truth was needed in the midst of this chaotic situation. When the storms of life hit you, what you have to be anchored to is the truth. God has given us His Word, and we must hold fast to it. Life will be ever-changing, but God’s truth is never-changing. If you want to both survive and thrive in the storms of life, God’s truth must be an anchor in your life.

Finally, the anchor of faith. At the end of the day, the question for Paul was, “Would he believe what the angel of the Lord said to him?” I love what Paul says to those on the ship, “So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” Paul’s faith was real and authentic. He believed God would do exactly as He said. In our life, God can be with us and speak to us, but will we have faith in who He is and what He has said? Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” Romans 14:23 says, “…For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” God wants us to trust him and He is completely worthy of our trust. Faith is an essential anchor in the storms of life.

This week, no matter what you are facing, walk in God’s presence, worship Him, embrace His truth, live by faith, and just watch how God will fill you and use you. These are four essential anchors in the storm. If you would like to listen to the sermon I preached on this passage, click here.

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