Drop files to upload.
Faithlife Corporation

Living for Jesus Through The School of Suffering

Notes & Transcripts

March 29, 2012

By John Barnett

Read, print, or listen to this resource on our website www.DiscoverTheBook.org

As we open to Psalm 119:71, we as a nation are in the midst of one of the most challenging times American’s have faced for over a generation. But as bad as it may seem, think about how hard life was here in the USA in 1917.

That year, World War I was sapping the finances, wearing down the resolve, and destroying the young men of this nation. In the midst of all that, there was no government security for the sick or unemployed.

People only lived on what they could make and scrape out on their farms or in the cities. Even the churches were struggling. So much so, that one church in Kentucky couldn’t afford to keep their pastor as a paid staff member any longer.

I wonder what Pastor Thomas Obadiah Chisholm thought of Psalm 119:71, after he got word that because of his failing health, he would no longer get any financial support from his church congregation he had served as pastor for many years. We’ll find out a bit later, because every one of us here today have heard his testimony many times.

But now, listen to these strong, confident words from Ezra’s pen, guided by the Infinite, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Spirit of God:

Psalm 119:71 "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes."

In our darkest hour, deepest pain, hardest times, most hopeless situations—we know that our God who is faithful is CLOSER at those moments, than any other time.

In 1917 that 51 year-old pastor named Thomas Obadiah Chisholm had to leave the paid, vocational ministry for health reasons. Life was hard, and jobs were so scarce he had to support his family selling door-to-door in Kentucky. But he did so humming the words of a personal resolve he had written.

What was his plan for facing physical and emotional afflictions in a cold and cruel world with the harsh realities of dashed hopes, failing health, declining finances, and limited strength? His testimony is in front of you in the hymnbook, number 372 “Living for Jesus”.

Let’s use our hymnbooks to see this lesson as we read his words together today.

Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do;

Yielding allegiance glad hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me.

Oh Jesus Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me; I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy Throne; my life I give henceforth to live—Oh Christ for Thee alone!

Like Thomas Chisholm learned, as he trudged out into dark mornings, and through long wearying days, God didn’t take away the troubles, He went through them with us. God was with him all during his long days, short nights, empty cupboards, non-existent savings. All those troubles were his, but one thing never changed—God was always faithfully the same.

How God wants to use Affliction in our lives Today

God wants us not to flee our troubles, but to find Him right in the midst of every storm that blows through our lives. And just as these words says so clearly, He wants us to learn to lean upon His Arm of grace and mercy extended from His Throne to live each day for Jesus a life that truly reflects the God we serve—in all that we do.

First, review with me the lesson plan for the entire Psalm 119 course on how to please God through every affliction He allows to come our way. Do you have them marked yet in your Bible? I would, and I already do, because we are never really very far from storms in life.

First we need to remember that in each of these seven verses God’s Word offers a lesson on how AFFLICTION is used by our Faithful God, because it:

1. PUSHES US INTO GOD’S WORD: Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.

2. PULLS US BACK ONTO THE PATH: Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.

3. CHISELS GOD’S PLAN INTO OUR LIFE: Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes

4. TEACHES US THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL: Psalm 119:75 I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

5. KEEPS US FOCUSED ON OUR TEACHER: Psalm 119:92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.

6. FORCES US TO TEST HIS PROMISES: Psalm 119:107 I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

7. BRINGS GOD TO OUR DOORSTEP: Psalm 119:153 Consider my affliction and deliver me, For I do not forget Your law.

Secondly we need to remember:

What Qualifies as An Affliction?

We got started last time tracing the word “affliction” through the 119th Psalm. The English word “affliction” is translated from two different Hebrew words: The first, onee (Strong’s #6040), portrays an emotional affliction of being in a state of misery; The second word, anah (Strong’s #6031), portrays a physical affliction of being bowed down or squashed beneath a physical load.

If you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and reflect upon the lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced: hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and verbal insults, accusations, and unkind words.

We looked at the first four of these seven situations God gives us as lessons. Here are what we have learned so far from each passage.

1. Ill treatment by others qualifies as an affliction: … The Angel of the LORD said to [Hagar]: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction” (Genesis 16:11).

2. Lack of love qualifies as an affliction: … Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, “The LORD has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:32).

3. Lost wages and broken promises qualify as an affliction: … Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: “What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me? … Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night” (Genesis 31:36, 41-42).

4. Hatred, jealousy, and betrayal qualify as an affliction: … The name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52).

Now as we open to Exodus 3, we find the fifth way that Giod describes “afflictions” that He uses in our lives.

5. Underpayment and overwork qualifies as an affliction: … The LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression [affliction] of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7).

The word “oppression” means “affliction.” The underpayment and overwork of the Hebrews by unkind and evil masters was an affliction, and happens all the time to American workers. Many are underpaid and practically kill themselves overworking just to make ends meet.

But God says, “I see that affliction of yours, but instead of fighting, I want to strengthen and teach you some valuable lessons as you go through it.”

6. The inability to have children qualifies as an affliction: … [Hannah] was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish [affliction] (1 Samuel 1:10).

Anguish is “affliction”—a squashing—which is the depth of emotion Hannah displayed as she wept. Her inability to have children caused her great suffering, but the cruelty of her “fellow wife” and the insensitivity to Hannah’s pain compounded the problem.

Are there things you are unable to do and have no control over it? Perhaps you have limitations or inabilities for which people afflict you and give you pain. God says to you, “I know all about your struggles; I am not blind to them, and through your furnace of affliction I am going to teach you something valuable you can never learn any other way.” That is always the lesson of affliction.

7. Unkind words, slander, accusations, and insults qualify as an affliction: “It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:12).

This was a real low point in David’s life. His adversary, Shimei, hurled unkind words, slander, accusations, and insults at him when David’s son, Absalom, won the heart of the people and ran his father out of town. On top of that, Shimei, a descendant of King Saul, screamed venomous words and cursed David, and threw dirt and kicked rocks at him.

But David responded well in spite of his heartache, “Maybe You, oh Lord, will repay me with good for the cursings I’ve endured today. I want to walk with You through this fiery furnace of affliction so You can burn away anything from my life keeping me from serving You more fully.” This is the attitude God wants to see in us as well.

So, if you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and reflect upon the lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced:

hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and verbal insults, accusations, and unkind words.

Which leads us to a third part of this study, what are the actual:

Lessons in the School of Affliction

Because seven is the number of divine completion, it seems God has engineered a complete set of messages on affliction in these seven verses in Psalm 119. The primary lesson is affliction is purposed to drive us to God and His Word:

to find comfort (v. 50); to obtain the will of God (v. 67); to follow His divine plan (v. 71); to learn of God’s faithfulness (v. 75); to find restoration and transformation (v. 92); to hear His voice walking with us in our affliction (v. 107); and to get special deliverance (v. 153).

With these verses the Lord as our Ultimate Teacher has traced how He uses afflictions as a part of His divine plan to build our lives into a masterpiece for His glory!

1. God uses affliction because it: PUSHES US INTO GOD’S WORD: Only God's Word can really help us in afflictions – cards, visits, gifts, activities all can only offer temporary relief through distraction or amusement.

Psalm 119:50: This is my comfort in my affliction [#6040—emotional], for Your word [#565—reading the divine Word to obtain the will of God] has given me life.

Only God's Word can really help us in afflictions. Cards, visits, gifts, and activities only offer temporary relief through distractions or amusement. Suffering through emotional affliction ought to drive us to read the Word of God to find comfort. Affliction can deaden us, but the Word gives us life.

The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s perfect Word more clearly.

2. God uses affliction because it: PULLS US BACK ONTO THE PATH: A consistent life is built by afflictions. God uses afflictions to pull us back and keep us on His path for our lives. Often we only call when we need something – so He gives us reason to call.

Psalm 119:67: Before I was afflicted [#6031—physical] I went astray, but now I keep Your word [#565—reading the divine Word to obtain the will of God].

A consistent life is built by afflictions. God uses physical afflictions to pull us back and keep our lives on His path. It’s common to hear someone who has gone through physical affliction say, “I was going my own way before I had this problem (car accident, illness, disability), but I am once more following God’s path!”

Affliction can stop us from straying away from God, so “now I keep”. Have you ever been driving late at night and slowly drifted to the side of the road? Remember when you hit those rumble strips and the way you jerked the wheel -- so that you got back on the road quickly? Afflictions are the rumble strips God uses to make us jerk our wheel of life to get us back on the road and to keep us from heading into the ditch!

The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s path of holiness more clearly.

3. God uses affliction because it: CHISELS GOD’S PLAN INTO OUR LIFE: There are truths and lessons we only can learn in the furnace of trouble. And remember in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3, only the things that kept them from walking properly were burned away! So affliction scrapes away what is not part of God’s plans for our lives – people, possessions, positions, and securities…

Psalm 119:71:" It is good for me that I have been afflicted [#6031—physical], that I may learn Your statutes [#2706—using the divine plans, or specifications, to build the ultimate life]."

The Hebrew word behind the English word “statutes” means “God’s divine plans.” God has plans, similar to a schematic or blueprint. They are like engineering drawings for how He designed life to be lived.

Verse 71 says to understand or learn those plans, it’s good that we be afflicted, because there are truths and lessons we can only learn in God’s School of Affliction. Affliction scrapes away what is not part of His plan for our lives—people, possessions, positions, and so forth. Physical problems teach us to follow the Lord’s plan.

The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s plan for our lives more clearly.

4. God uses affliction because it: TEACHES US THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL: God’s unchanging faithfulness is learned best in affliction. Afflictions remind us that everything the Lord does is good, right, and the best thing there could be for us.

Psalm 119:75: I know, O LORD, that Your judgments [#4941—building life upon the divine decisions—judgments that are always true and vindicate] are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted [#6031—physical] me.

Afflictions are very personal “me”. God’s unchanging faithfulness is learned best in affliction; everything He does is good, right, and the most loving choice possible for His children. Isn’t it a great blessing to realize He knows us, and is monitoring our entire lives.

The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s pruning of our lives more clearly.

5. God uses affliction because it: KEEPS US FOCUSED ON OUR TEACHER: The onset of troubles marks the beginning of a personal tutorial with our Divine Teacher. Affliction is an opportunity to “delight” in Him or for us to “perish” in our troubles.

Psalm 119:92: Unless Your law [#8451—receiving the divine instructions from the Ultimate Teacher who gives perfect instructions that restore and transform] had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction [#6040—emotional].

Affliction “perishes” us or squishes our lives under its weight. The onset of troubles marks the beginning of our Divine Teacher’s personal tutorial. Afflictions are opportunities to either delight in Him or perish in our troubles. Many people go through life without knowing the reviving power of God’s Word. As a result, they become buried in an emotional avalanche when tribulation comes—and some even give up. So Ezra was saying in verse 92: “Unless You instruct me as my Divine Teacher, I will perish by becoming smothered or buried in my emotional affliction!”

When Americans have emotional afflictions, many seek escape through medication, alcohol, or a variety of amusements. Do you know the meaning of “amusement”? The alpha primitive “a” means “not”; “muse” means “to think.” In other words, they look for distractions to divert thinking so their minds can go into neutral.

But God says, “What you need is My Law; you need to get My Divine Instructions in you to restore and transform you so you don’t perish when you feel buried emotionally.” The Lord will bring us back with His Word (Psalm 119:25-32), restore our soul (Psalm 23:3), and make us whole again (Psalm 19:7-14).

The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s source of hope more clearly.

6. God uses affliction because it: FORCES US TO TEST HIS PROMISES: Affliction usually increases, as we get older. But God's Word will always renew, refresh, and revive.

Psalm 119:107: I am afflicted [#6031—physical] very much [all kinds of physical afflictions]; revive me, O LORD, according to Your word [#1697—hearing the Divine Voice walking us all the way through life].

Often we know so much more than we experience. Affliction is a reality check. Afflictions seem to grow through life to be more and more. After disasters people often listen better.

The word for “very much” is the same Hebrew word used of the waters of the Flood covering the earth (Genesis 7,18-19) and of the plagues covering Egypt (Exodus 9.3 on cattle; Exodus 9.18 the hail; Exodus 10.14 the locusts).

The word for “revive” is actually save my life and is the same Hebrew word as used for the rescue of Rahab from Jericho as the walls crumbled and everyone else was destroyed and she and her family alone were rescued (Joshua 2.13; 6.17, 25). Afflictions allow us to experientially test God’s promises.

As we age, it’s common to think life will get easier because we won’t have to face as many struggles just to survive. But that’s not really true. Going through afflictions is a lifelong process. As we get older, the nature of the afflictions simply changes. But one thing will never change: God's Word will always renew, refresh, and revive.

Having witnessed many of God’s children at the final stages of their life, I’ve found what has comforted them most is the reading of God’s Word because they hear the Divine Voice walking with them in their afflictions.

The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s offer of personal revival more clearly.

7. God uses affliction because it: BRINGS GOD TO OUR DOORSTEP: When Ezra said deliver me – he was asking the Lord to come to him with what he needed. Isn’t that what a deliveryman does? He brings exactly what we need? And that is the final blessing of affliction. Affliction comes with a promise from God for a special delivery. He comes right to us – with everything we need.

Psalm 119:153: Consider my affliction [#6040—emotional] and deliver me, for I do not forget Your law [#8451—receiving the divine instructions from the Ultimate Teacher who gives perfect instructions that restore and transform].

Afflictions will continue for our entire lifetime, “consider” as You watch me. Affliction comes with a promise from God for a special deliverance once we’ve learned the lessons He’s designed for us. In the meantime, through His Word He draws near to us and provides everything we need to bear up under the trials.

The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s ability to rescue us more clearly.

Finally, so that we aren’t merely hearers of God's Word, let me ask you, “Are you”:

Learning Personal Lessons in Christ's School of Afflictions

What do you sense is the most important lesson the Ultimate Teacher wants you to personally learn from these seven beautiful portraits of affliction?

If you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and reflect upon the lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced: hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and verbal insults, accusations, and unkind words.

How did they survive such afflictions? They turned to God and His Word and found comfort, strength, and deliverance in His perfect timing.

So instead of opting to escape afflictions through distractions, or getting even with those who are mistreating you, pray:

• “Oh Lord, my Divine Teacher, what do You want me to learn in this situation?

• Is there anything keeping me from walking more closely with You?

If so, reveal what it is and then remove it. As I go through this furnace of affliction, teach me to find comfort through Your Word and to follow Your will for my life.”

Now we need to stop and choose the personal application of these truths for our lives.

Remember Jeremiah’s hard life, and the conclusion he came to that gave him fresh, daily hope and a new start in every low point of life? It is in Lamentation 3:22-24.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“ Therefore I hope in Him!”

In our darkest hour, deepest pain, hardest times, most hopeless situations—Someone is CLOSER at those moments than any other time.

Let’s use our hymnbooks to see this lesson.

Remember how in 1917 a 51 year old pastor had to leave the ministry for health reasons? His life was hard, jobs were so scarce he supported his family selling door-to-door in Kentucky; but he did so humming these words as his plan for facing physical and emotional afflictions (#372 Living for Jesus).

And what was the result just 6 years later? Thomas Chisholm wrote out his findings in the way of a song: #43 Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Why not sing that song with me tonight and sing it in your heart each time emotional and physical adversities come your way?

090412PM

RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
Get this media plus thousands more when you start a free trial.
Get started for FREE
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →