SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 2010-05-23: "Overcoming Life's Trials"

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Looking over my sermon archives on the subject of “Overcoming and Suffering,” I discovered I have more than 150 Word Processor pages on this subject. If you include Trials and Tribulation, then there are several hundred pages of sermons and inspirational material I have gathered over the years. The reason for this preponderance of material in this subject area is that the need to interpret suffering into the Christian perspective is really needed.

          One the one hand, the Christian culture has plenty of people misleading people about Christianity magically shielding its adherents from pain and suffering. On the other hand, Christians suffer the harsh reality of chronic pain just like any other person who shares the burden of human experience. Hebrews 11: 35-40, the faith chapter of the Bible, actually tells us about the need to look realistically at injustice, pain and suffering.



At the end of his life speaks to the students of Glasgow University. As he rose to speak his body bore than marks of a lifetime of scars from his struggles of evangelize the African continent. His various diseases and illness of more than thirty occasions left him gaunt and haggard. His left arm had been crushed by a charging lion and hung limp at his side. He asked the crowd this question,

“Would you like to know what supported me through all the years of exile among people whose language I could not understand and whose attitude toward me was always uncertain and often hostile. It was this, ‘Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ On these words I staked everything, and they never failed me.”




Sheepfold Ministries

May 23, 2010 - Rev. Phil Roland 


2 Timothy 4:9-22 – 2 Corinthians 6:4-10

“Looking at the example of the Apostle Paul’s life, we can be inspired to overcome our own adversities and challenges as we press toward God’s Goals.”                                                                                         Pastor Phil Roland


“For if I never had a problem,

            I wouldn’t know that God could solve them,

I’d never know what faith in God could do.”

                                                                                    Andre Crouch, “Through It All”

Paul overcame seven trials in his life:


     “for Demas has forsaken me,”

            A. Paul is in prison and Demos abandons him

                        1. Abandonment is a sure indicator of the Lord’s work

                        2. Many agree that SOMEBODY ought to be doing something

                        3. God often chooses a path in which we go on alone

                        4. Can become self-righteous about it

                        5. See everyone else as backsliders

                        6. Resentment can eat away at the soul

            B. When he came before Nero, he stood alone – v. 16

                 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me.”

                        1. “No one will serve Christ for long whose service is                                                   dependant upon what others do or do not do.”

                        2. In John 21 Peter ask Jesus the question, “What about him?”

                                    a. Jesus tells him, “What is that to you?”

                                    b. “Follow me.”



            A. Paul was preaching the Gospel – Alexander was negating it

                        1. Sophistication  leads to Opposition - 2 Timothy 4:3

                           “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,”

                        2. People reject the Gospel before the messenger

            B. The preaching of the truth will always cause a polarity

                        1. People will be drawn to the Cross – John 12:32

                           "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

                        2. People will be repelled by the Gospel – John 6:64-66

                          "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew

                            from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who

                            would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that

                            no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My

                            Father." From that time many of His disciples went back and

                            walked with Him no more.”


Overcoming Life’s Trials, cont. p.2



            A. Sainthood / Apostolic Office didn’t cause Paul’s Fearlessness

                        1. Picture him before NERO

                                    a. Nero is a mentally deranged, demonized homosexual

                                    b. Nero dipped living Christians into hot tar and used                                                 them to light his gardens

                        2. Paul asserts to God’s Power of Deliverance – v. 17b

                            “I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”

            B. Paul was fearless because whatever the outcome, he’d win

                        1. Imprison me and I’ll witness to my fellow prisoners

                        2. Kill me and I get to be with Jesus in heaven

                        3. Let me live and I’ll go on spreading the Gospel



        A. Cramped confinement in a Roman prison – v. 21

               ”Do your utmost to come before winter.” 2 Cor. 6:21

                    1. Little or no Heat

                        2. Hopes his encouragers will come quickly and bring cloak

            B. Paul 2/3rd of the NT from Jails

                        1. Paul writes in Philippians 4:11b

                            “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

                        2. Note: He doesn’t say he’ll be content WITH his situation

                        3. Paul does say he’ll be content IN his circumstances



       A. The great Apostle and man of God, LONELY?

                        1. We are born belonging to God and to Each Other

                        2. Lose the connection through physical birth

                        3. Isn’t just the umbilical cord that is cut by physicians

                        4. Paul needed people like you need water and air

                        5. Dark, cramped space, minimum needs supplied

                        6. No cell phones, HI Speed Internet, Cable TV: nothing

            B. Paul needed to be loved and accepted – 2 Tim. 1:4

                “(I am) greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may                    be filled with joy,

                        1. Paul’s Loneliness is profound – 2 Timothy 4:9

                           “Do your best to come to me quickly,”

                        2. Needs people to come with Love and Encouragement



      “Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.”

            A. Paul laid hands on the young man

                        1. Prayed and anointed him with oil for his healing

                        2. To no avail, Paul’s prayers went unanswered



Overcoming Life’s Trials, cont. p.3


          B. Blaming Syndrome – When prayers go unanswered, we Blame. . .

                        1. Whose fault was it?

                        2. Was it Trophemus who didn’t have enough faith?

                        3. Speculative Theology: “Shaming is Blaming”

            C. Ultimately, we turn our faces upwards and Blame God – Gen. 3:12   

     "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."

                        1. Slanders God who is Loving, Kind, Gracious and Merciful

                        2. Adam’s attempt to deflect his responsibility didn’t work

            D. The “If Onlys. . . .”

                        1. If only you’d pray four hours everyday

                        2. If only you had more faith. . .

                        3. If only you’d be a better church member, tither, etc.

                        4. “If Onlys” can become a cancer in your spirit, eating at you



            A. Paul was young Timothy’s spiritual father and mentor – 2 Tim. 4:6

              “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through

                the laying on of my hands.”

                        1. Speculate: Timothy was embarrassed or fearful

                        2. Why “stir up?”

            B. Three Fears of Timothy and all young believers

                        1. Fear – v. 7 - “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of                                                             power and of love and of a sound mind.”

                        2. Shame – v. 8 – “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony                                            of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the                                  sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,”

                        3. Inability/Unwillingness to Suffer







2 Timothy 4:9-11 - NKJ

Be diligent to come to me quickly;

10  for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica; Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.

11  Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.

12  And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.

13  Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come; and the books, especially the parchments.

14  Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.

15  You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.

16  At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.

17  But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

18  And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

19  Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.

20  Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.

21  Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren.

22  The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.


2 Corinthians 6:4-10

New International Version

4  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;

5  in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;

6  in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;

7  in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;

8  through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;

9  known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;

10  sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.





Rudyard Kipling


If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or, being hated, don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;


If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster And treat those two imposters just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;


If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breath a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";


If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!






Closing Illustration


Penny’s wife died of pneumonia, just before the Great

depression hit America in 1929. He had been a multimillionaire it was all gone: wiped out. Penny was discouraged, and sick.

His illness was diagnosed as caused by his reaction to stress: nerves. He formerly had millions, but now couldn't even pay hospital bill.

Penny became sure he wouldn't live thru night. He wrote farewell letters to children.

When he awakened next morning to words of the old gospel song flooded his mind,

"Be not dismayed whate're betide, God will take care of you.

He slipped out of his hospital room and made way to small chapel. Penny found a seat at back and started to pray.

"Lord, of myself I can do nothing, will You take care of me”

He said later he didn't know how to explain what happened next. The weight was lifted from his spirit. He left the chapel a

different man. He began to read Bible. He became active

Christian layman, and began to trust the Lord in all things.


"I had to pass through fiery ordeals before reaching glimmerings of conviction that it is not enough for men to be

upright and moral.

When I was brought to humility and the knowledge of

dependence on God, sincerely and earnestly seeking God's aid, it was forthcoming, and a light illumined my being. I cannot

otherwise describe it than to say that it challenged me as a man!"

PENNEY recovered his millions, and found that the second part of his long life was better than the first!