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All Things Work Together for Good

Steve preached this message, “All Things Work Together for Good” at World Harvest Church in Hillsboro, Illinois, on August, 18, 2019.

The audio picks up just after he began. Transcripts are below for your convenience.

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The Need for Bibles in Africa

… just a statistic. In the continent of Africa—the continent, not any country in Africa, but the continent of Africa—there are 500 million people who go to church on a regular basis, and who don’t have a Bible today. Pretty astounding, isn’t it?

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church in africa

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We’re just trying to do a little bit, you know. We just bought 50,000 Bibles. We got a good price on them. Forty-three cents each for a bunch of Bibles that had the last part of Luke 24—the last 15 verses of Luke 24—missing. So they gave us 4,159 Bibles that were printed with that mistake. Now they’re going to be on the field, and I appreciate that.

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A Testimony from Nigeria

Let me share a little testimony just came in recently. I think it is probably three months old.

One of our literature distributors in Nigeria likes to go into the hospitals. He goes to the hospitals, and he goes from room to room sharing the gospel with people. He hands them a little piece of gospel literature from Love Packages.

They have a different kind of hospitals than we do. They don’t have private or semi-private rooms. They have big dormitories, where all the people are kind of together, which is probably not good for people who are hospitalized. But anyway, that’s the way they are.

He was making his way down through all the different beds—talking to people, and giving them a little piece of Love Packages literature—and eventually got to the end where there was a Muslim woman.

Being a man, he can’t talk to a Muslim woman. It’s a no-no. But he did speak to her just briefly. He said, “I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be praying for you.” He gave her a little book by Derek Prince called Blessing or Curse, and then he left.

Well, two months goes by and somebody is banging on his warehouse door. He opens it up and there was a Muslim man standing there, and he doesn’t look happy.

He’s in an area where people get killed every day for being Christian. Three weeks ago, 100 Christians were killed in that area. So this is a tough neighborhood.

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So this guy’s banging on the door, and he says, “You gave my sister a book when she was in the hospital!”

And our distributor is thinking, “Oh, God, I’m gonna get stabbed.”

The man says, “I want some of that stuff. Give me some of that stuff.” So our distributor gave him a little stack of books and the man said, “No, I want more than that. Give me more than that.” So our distributor gave him a stack—like so—and the man left.

A couple months go by. He opens the door one day, and 75 people are standing out there—all Muslims. He’s thinking, “Oh God, they’re gonna come burn down my warehouse.”

The man from before says, “You know who this is? This is my sister. You gave her a book called Blessing or Curse. She read that book. God healed her. This is my family. All those books you gave us, we’ve read all those books. We wanna become Christians.

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The Lord does those kind of things. The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, it’s able to cut between soul and spirit, able to discern the thoughts and the intents of a man’s heart (Hebrews 4:12).

It can speak to somebody way down inside here that nobody else can speak to. And so that’s the reason why we do what we do.

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A Testimony of Healing

I had a miracle this month.

In May, June, and July, I was having a very difficult time swallowing. I was choking on all my food, and it was just not very good.

My wife convinced me to go to the doctor. I always put off that stuff, but I said, “Yeah, I think I do.” I had put it off long enough.

I said, “But not to the family doctor. Let’s go to somebody that knows what they’re talking about.” No offense to the family doctors, because they know a lot and I’m thankful for them. But sometimes you need a specialist.

She called Dr. Garcia and asked for an appointment. They said, “If you wanna get into Hillsboro, that’s eight weeks waiting. If you wanna go to Springfield, that’s four weeks waiting.” She said, “Well, let me look at my husband’s schedule.”

She called back the next day, on a Thursday, and she said, “Well, I’ve got these dates. Can you look and see if there’s been a cancellation?”

So they looked and said, “Oh, look at this. There was a cancellation. We can get you in Tuesday.”

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The Specialist’s Diagnosis

We went and Dr. Garcia put a scope down my down my throat. The first thing out of his mouth was, “Oh, this doesn’t look good.”

He said, “Let me pull this out and go get some better equipment so I can see better. I’ll be right back.” So he left, and we’re looking at each other going, “Whoa, what does that mean?”

He came back with some other equipment, put it down my throat, and he says said, “Do you want it straight up? Do you want me to tell you the truth?”

I said, “Yeah, tell me exactly what’s going on. Tell us exactly.”

He said, “Well, the deal is you have a tumor that’s growing in your throat, and it is cancer. I can’t say that until we do a biopsy, of course—we don’t really know—but I’ve done this long enough to know that it is cancer. But that’s not the worst news.”

Well, I thought that was pretty bad news, but I said, “Okay, what’s the worst news?”

He said, “Well, it’s growing right on your vocal chords. We can’t operate on it. Actually, we could operate, but I don’t want to and I don’t know any doctor that would want to. If we would operate on you, you would lose your voice, and you would never be able to speak again.”

I said, “Man, that’s not a very good thing to tell a preacher.”

He said, “We’ll get you in as quickly as we can. We’ll take a look at that. We’ll schedule a PET scan.”

When Jean and I walked out of the room, I just had perfect peace. I just knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that it was gonna be okay.

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They scheduled me for a PET scan six days later and of course it did light up. So it was cancer and one of my lymph nodes in my neck also had cancer in it. So they scheduled me for a biopsy, which was one week later. We’re only talking about two weeks so far, you know.

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A Prayer Request Goes Viral

I have a girl that does social media for me, so I called her up and told her the news. Of course, she was upset, you know. I said, “Listen, don’t be upset. I’m not worried. I’m not afraid. You know, God’s got this. It’s okay. I’m gonna write this up. I’m gonna send it to you.”

She put it on Facebook and to our astonishment and amazement, 38,000 people from all over the world read that and said, “We’re going to pray for you.” It was pretty amazing.

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My prayer every night when I went to bed, when I laid my head on the pillow, was, “God, you love me and I love you. You’ve taken care of me, even when I was an enemy of yours, even when I hated your guts, you loved me. I believe that you’re going to take care of me now and it’s gonna be okay.” That was my prayer.

I told people, and I preached this sermon—actually, I preached this sermon at Fillmore on July 21 and I was still going through all this. It hadn’t been resolved yet. I told people then, “I’m not worried and I’m not afraid and I mean it.” And we weren’t worried.

(My wife was a little more maybe worried than I was because she loves me.)

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The Creator’s Reply

August 5 was the biopsy. It was supposed 15 minutes: They’re just going to go in and take a little snip out of it to see what kind of cancer it was and then learn how to treat it.

That morning when I got up, I felt like, well, I just wanted to pray a little different.

There were five or six people that had prayed for me, laid hands on me, and prayed that when the surgeon touches the tumor, it would just fall off. I started to pray that in the morning, and I just felt like that was not the right thing to pray. So I just said, “God, when he touches it, just let it be hanging there.” That was my prayer.

And I felt like the Lord said, “Write that down and give it to the doctor before you go.” Well, I didn’t do that. I was disobedient in that. And we were running late.

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A Turn of Events

I finally got there, they put the thing in my arm, and the girl said, “I’m gonna put a little something in there to get you ready to be sedated.” As soon as she put it in there, I mean, I didn’t even know the last bit of the sentence, she said, it was like, “We’re going to …” and I’m out.

So they took me in and put the breathing tube and the things down in my throat. As soon as he got in there, when he touched it, it was just dangling. It was just dangling in there.

He pulled the equipment out and he looked at the crew that was in there.

Now, this is not a full operating suite. It’s just a small little operating suite where that they do tonsillectomies and things like that. It’s not a full meal deal.

But he told the people, “Get this guy ready for operation. We’re gonna take that tumor out today. I have to go get permission from his wife. I’ll be right back.” And he left.

He told me later that they all looked at him and said, “Can we do that? This is not a full operating suite.”

He told them, “You know how to do it, and you know how to do it, and you know how to do it. I know how to do it. I’ve done it lots of times. Get him ready, I’ll be right back.”

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We’d only been in there five minutes and he came out and said he wanted to talk to my wife. Of course, that’s freaking her out because he’s only been in there five minutes.

The first thing out of his mouth was, “I’ve never seen anything like this in all my life.”

He said, “I went in there, and I touched that thing, and it was just dangling, flopping around. It was just dangling in there.” He said, “If I can get your permission, I can go in and take it out today and he’ll be done with it.”

She said, “You look me right straight in the eye and tell me he’s not gonna lose his voice.”

“No, he’s not gonna lose his voice. He’ll probably have nothing more than a sore throat.”

So she said, “Okay …”

Well, she had to call some people—call my sons and Pastor Myron and some people for prayer.

So what was going to be a 15 minute biopsy, turned out to be a four and a half hour operation.

They took the tumor out of my throat, which turned out to be the size of a walnut. They took 14 lymph nodes from my throat.

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What’s Next?

We went back a week later for results from the biopsy and only one lymph node had cancer. There was no cancer in any of the other lymph nodes, which is a good report.

They said the pathologist couldn’t give me a clean bill of health, because a pathologist has to have a quarter inch all the way around that tumor with no cancer cells in it. “But you didn’t have a quarter inch to give. It was right up against your vocal chords, so you only had an eighth of an inch to give. So I gave him an eighth of an inch, so there may still be some cancer cells there.”

But we’re believing God for no cancer cell.

The prognosis is that we’re going to keep going back every two months and letting him run a scope to see if there’s anything nasty growing in there. And then eight months we’ll do a PET scan, and keep doing that until they can say good to go.

So that’s my story, but that’s not the best part of the story. Can I tell you the best thing that ever happened to me?

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The Best Part

I convinced my wife to go home because this was all surprising and she didn’t bring anything to stay overnight. I convinced her she needed to go home and get some sleep. I was just going to be in the hospital anyway.

Then the doctor came in and talked to him. He told me all the things I just told you, because I was knocked out. I said, “I wanna tell you something, doc.”

I said, “I’ll write it down and I’ll give it to you later, but I wanna let you know that what you did today was exactly word for word what I prayed.” And he just looked at me like, “What?”

I said, “I’ll write it down. I’ll give it to you later.”

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I’d asked the hospital for a Bible—Catholic hospital you’d think they’d have one in the room, but they didn’t have any in the room. They didn’t have any in the nurses’ station. They couldn’t find one in the hospital. They looked all over. It took them an hour and 10 minutes to find me a Bible.

Finally, they came with the Bible and it was brand new and in a box—had my name on the front of it and they put my name on the inside covers.

I was just going to read at 7:30. I was all by myself. So I just opened the word of God. I started reading in Isaiah and then I turned to read the Book of Psalms. I only read about three verses, and the Lord spoke to me and said—clearly, clearly, clearly—said, “Steve, read it out loud.”

And I started to just read the word of God out loud. I read from 7:30 at night until 1:30 in the morning. I just read it out loud to the Lord. And the Lord just came in that room and it was so thick, really. It was the best day of my life.

God just ministered to me and showed me things and opened the word of God and just poured it out. I’d read a little bit and then he’d show me something and then I’d just cry and say, “Oh, God, you’re so good.” And then he’d show me a little bit more. It was so wonderful. It was so wonderful.

So let me open the word of God to you.

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What Romans 8:28 Doesn’t Say

I got saved in prison. I didn’t know the word of God.

The first scripture I learned wasn’t John 3:16,

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

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It wasn’t John 8:32,

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“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

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It wasn’t Ephesians 2:8-9,

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“For by grace, if you’ve been saved through faith and that not of yourself, there’s the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

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It wasn’t Galatians 2:20,

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“I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live yet not I, but Christ who lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

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It wasn’t Romans 6:23,

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“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, his son.”

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All those are wonderful and I’m glad I’ve learned them all and I’m glad they’ve had impacted my heart and I’m glad they’re well rooted down inside me because they’re alive. But the first verse that I ever learned in all my life was Romans 8:28 and it said,

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“And we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, to those that are called according to his purpose.”

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I’ve had that as a verse in my life these 46 years that I’ve been serving the Lord, and I’ve walked through various different things—things of my own making, things that other people did to me, things.

One of the things I wanna let you know, right off the bat, is what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that all things are good.

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Fallen

We live in a fallen world. We live in a world that’s just damaged in so many ways. There are evil people who do evil things.

And we have an enemy of our soul. And he’s there to lie to us, like Job, and the lies that he must’ve told Job: “Why is God doing this? Why did God allow that? Why didn’t …” And just on and on and on. Even the “friends” that came alongside of him, and said, “It must be your fault Job. It must be what you’ve done. You must be a real terrible person in order for all these things to have happened in your life.”

We live in a fallen world and we have an enemy. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes, but for to steal and to kill and to destroy.”

There are all kinds of things that are meant not to help us, but to destroy us—to tear us down, to steal our faith, to steal our property and steal our relationships. And yes, I’d go so far as to say if the enemy had his way, he would, if he could—if he could get away with it—he would murder every one of you today. He’s a murderer from the beginning and he bowed not in the truth (John 8:44).

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Some things are not meant to help us. They’re meant to destroy us, and there’s not one person here that hasn’t walked through tribulation, afflictions, or trials, or temptations, persecution, physical suffering of some kind, or mental/emotional stress. Every single one of us have faced adversity and turmoil.

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Promised Tribulation

We’re not immune, just because we’re Christians. We have this misunderstanding sometimes, in Christianity, that says that we’re guaranteed to have no struggles. It’s not true. It’s not true. Whoever told you that is not telling you the truth.

Here’s a promise that you don’t see in your promise book very often: Jesus said, “In this world, you shall have tribulation.” [I like the last part better, “But be of good cheer. I’ve overcome the world” (John 16:33).]

He says you will have tribulation. Paul goes so far as to say, “Through much tribulation, we’re going to enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In 1 Peter 4:12, the apostle Peter says, “Think it not strange the fiery trials that have come to try you as if some strange thing is happening.”

It’s not that strange. It happens to every one of us. It happens to all. And it can come in all kinds of ways. Look at the Bible. I see all kinds of problems that people have had in their lives.

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Joseph

Joseph was hated by his brothers, persecuted by his brothers. He was a little egotistical. Maybe he shared his vision before he should have. It’s probably wise to keep your vision close to you until you know who you’re sharing it with.

But his brothers hated him. They threw him in a well—dry well—and they were going to kill him if it weren’t for Reuben, who said, “You can’t kill him. He’s our brother. Let’s sell him instead.”

So they sold him as a slave to slave traders, and you know the story. He went and he got bought by Potiphar. He’s doing fine, and he’s prospering, and then what? He’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and he ends up in prison.

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How many of you think that might be a little tribulation? He was a godly man who was doing the right thing—who was loving God and loving the purposes of God. And yet all these things transpired in his life.

You know the end of the story: He comes to the head. He’s ruling all of Egypt; only Pharaoh’s above him.

Not only does he save the children of Israel, but he saves the Messiah of the world, if you think about it. They would have all died of starvation if it wouldn’t have been for Joseph. When his brothers come, he says, “You guys meant it for evil, but God …”

He kept loving God and loving the purposes of God.

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Moses

Moses, raised in Pharaoh’s home, but he was actually raised by his mom and his mom talked to him about a coming deliverer. You’re in that position; you might be the deliverer. And one day he thought, “Well, I probably am the deliverer.”

And when there was an Egyptian mistreating an Israeli, he went and killed him. He buried him in sand, thought everybody would rally around, and he had become the deliverer: the promised deliverer. I mean, after all God had promised that, right?

But he got ahead of God, which sometimes we do. Ever get in front of God? God says, “This is what I wanna do.” And you say, “Okay, I’m gonna get out there and I’m gonna make it happen.”

Moses, because of that, brought some turmoil and tribulation upon himself. He had to flee for his life, and he found himself in the backside of a desert for 40 years taking care of smelly sheep.

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I don’t know about you, but I kinda think Moses was out there every once in a while saying, “Man, I really blew it. There’s no hope. I thought I had the purposes of God in my heart, my life, but now I forever missed it.”

Have you ever done something that made you think you had just forever missed it?

But out in the backside of the desert, he just kept loving God and loving the purposes of God. And God showed up in a burning bush and spoke to him, said, “Okay, now is the time.” Because of that man, two million Israelites marched out of the bondage of the wicked one.

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Job

Job. Job was just minding his own business. He was just loving God and loving the purposes of God. There was absolutely no reason for the attack, but it was an attack of the wicked one.

It came in one day. In one day—in one day—he lost everything he had: lost all of his camels, and ox, and he’s lost his children, lost his homes, lost everything, lost everything in one day.

You know the story, his wife just says, “Curse God and die.” She’s giving her husband a hard time.

(No, don’t give her such a hard time. I mean, she lost all of her kids and all of her property and all of her goats and all of her cattle too.)

Then Job had some wonderful friends that came along and accused him of being the reason why all these things were taking place. How many of you think that might be tribulation, affliction? These things can come in a variety of different ways.

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Peter

Peter. Jesus had just told all the disciples, “I’m going to be taken away. They’re going to abuse me and beat me. And all of you tonight, before the night’s over, all of you are going to deny me and you’re all going to run away.”

And Peter in his self-confidence and in his pride he says, “You don’t know who you’re talking to, Jesus. You remember what you named me? My name is Rock. I’m rocky. Don’t you know? And all these other people, they may leave you and they may run away, but not me. Not me. I’ve always had my doubts about Thomas, but not me. I’ll die for you.”

Did he mean it? Yes, he did, but where was his confidence? His confidence was in Peter, and sometimes we can bring turmoil and tribulation and agony and affliction on ourselves because we are so confident in our own flesh. It was only several hours later and all of a sudden he’s denying, cursing the Lord, “Blankety-blank, blank, blank. I don’t know him.”

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And Jesus looks at him. Oh, that must’ve pierced his heart.

Now, Jesus, I’m sure that Jesus didn’t look at him like, “I told you so.” Not that kind of look, not like, “What are you doing, Peter?” Not that kind of look, but, “I love you.”

Have you ever failed the Lord so miserably you thought, “How could he ever forgive me?” Yeah, sure we have, every one of us. But he kept loving the Lord and loving the purposes of God, and watch the boldness of Peter.

When the lame man is healed in front of the temple and he’s leaping and praising God, and all the people are gathered together, Peter is standing in the midst of them. He said, “You wanna know how this is done? This is done by the power of the name of Jesus, the name which is above every name that is named, the name of Jesus, the one that you willfully crucified. You did it with your own hands, it was by their predetermined counsel of God, but you did it,” and 3000 people got saved.

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God and those that are called according to his purpose, those who pursue his purposes.

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David

David was supposed to be out doing kingly business, but he wasn’t.

He saw a woman from his balcony and she was a knockout. You know the story. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and found out that she was pregnant about three months later. And he made arrangements.

He didn’t kill him personally, but he made arrangements for Uriah, her husband, to be murdered, to cover it up. Man, there’s serious sins, man. I mean, we have scales, right? These are pretty up there on the list: adultery and murder.

You know the story, how Nathan the prophet gave him the story about the little sheep, and he says, “Surely that man shall die, what he’s done …”

Nathan says, “David, you are that man. You’ve taken Bathsheba, taken Uriah’s wife, and you killed Uriah.”

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And David, what made him a great man is he repented quickly. Each one of us can commit sins, but we have to repent quickly. Repent quickly.

He ran to the feet of the Lord and he cried out and he repented. Because of it, we have that great Psalm. Psalm 51 says, “Create in me a clean heart. Oh God. Restore right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence. Uphold me with your right spirit. Purge me and I’ll be whiter than snow. You don’t desire sacrifices. The sacrifices have gone that are contrite heart and a broken spirit that you won’t despise.”

And it was after that, that God calls David. Listen to what He calls him. He said, “David is a man after my own heart.” It was after all those sins. He said, “This guy is a man after my own heart.” Why? Because he loved God and he loved the purposes of God, and God took even situations that were meant for evil and for the destruction.

David went so far in Psalm 119:75 to say, “In faithfulness, in faithfulness, you afflicted me.” Afflictions can come straight from the Lord—mostly just for those who are in open rebellion.

But afflictions can come right straight from the Lord … because He doesn’t like us? No, because he loves us so dearly.

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Mary and Martha

Mary and Martha knew the sting of death. Each one of us will suffer that sometime or another.

My dad just died May 3, and when they wrapped his body, when they carried him out of his home that he lived in all of my life—70 years—as I saw him being pulled out, I was on the front porch weeping. My dad’s never coming back to the house again. It’s painful.

Mary and Martha were in that situation. They’d sent for Jesus. They’d sent for him. “Lazarus is sick. Come quick.”

Jesus didn’t come.

When he got there. They said, “Where have you been? We waited for you. We sent for you. How come you didn’t show up? Where you at? Why didn’t you come when we needed you?”

And there have been many of you that have probably had those thoughts in your mind before at the hours of death or sickness or whatever it is, “Where are you at, God? Why are you not here?”

And Jesus got there and he talked to them and he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe that I can raise him?”

“Yes. Yes, in the last day, yes, in the last day we are gonna be raised up.”

Well, they got a little bit more than the rest of us. Lazarus was raised then, and he came forth from the grave.

But each one of us, even though we’ve had death stare us in the face—relatives, friends, moms, dads, whatever—we can trust in Him still being the resurrection and the life. And God will raise him up and we’ll see them again. Amen.

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Judas

Afflictions happen to all of us. Turmoil. I think of Judas too.

Judas, we always think of him as a nasty man. He betrayed the Lord and he probably deserves the scoring that we give him. But let me just say something. I don’t think Judas was as bad a guy as everybody thinks he was.

I mean, he walked around with the disciples all those times. He prayed for the sick. He ministered to people.

And I know he was a thief. I know he was taking things off the treasury. I understand that. Have you never stolen anything?

I don’t think he was as bad as we make him out to be. I kind of think that he thought—now this is my personal opinion, I don’t have any scripture to back it up, so you can take it for whatever it’s worth—if he sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, he’d have the silver in his pocket. Nobody would know the wiser.

And Jesus, when they’d went to get him, of course he would just, you know, manifest himself and do whatever’s necessary. He would just be free and maybe even bring about the kingdom at that time. Maybe this would all work out and he’d have the 30 pieces of silver and can still be part of the group.

But it didn’t work out that way. That’s the reason why we’re so remorseful.

Because when Judas saw them beat Jesus mercilessly—mercilessly—he took the silver and tried to turn it back in and, “Here, let me redo this.”

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Remorseful, overcome with grief, but it didn’t turn out good for him. The Bible says he lost his soul. Why? Because he didn’t love God and he didn’t love the purposes of God.

Every one of us feel all these different things, these afflictions. Not everything that happens to us is good, but there is a divine purpose in all these things.

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Momentary, Light Afflictions

Turn with me if you will to the book of 2 Corinthians 4:16. You see, for millions of people today all over the world, they’re going through all these things too. And for them, it’s not going to work out for their good.

Here’s what Paul says about some of these afflictions in Chapter 4:16. “For this cause …” what cause? The cause of Christ.

“For this cause, we faint not even though our outward man is perishing, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction,” I like what he says here. Now, listen to this very carefully. “For our light affliction, which is, but for a moment,”—our light affliction, which is but for a moment.

I’ve lived 70 years. Next Saturday is my birthday. I’m 70 years old. So I’ve lived a long time, but it’s not that long. You know? That’s about how long it is in the whole scheme of things.

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“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. But we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal. The things that we see, they’re only temporary, but the things which are not seen, they are eternal.”

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He said this momentary light affliction that we go through, all of us go through, is working something out in our lives that is a far more heavy weight of glory. God is doing something in you so that you can share in his glory.

You wanna see what some of his light afflictions were? Turn over—I always get a kick out of this—to 2 Corinthians 11:23. We’ll read here just a few minutes.

“Are they ministers of Christ?” He’s talking about those who are bragging about themselves—bragging about how good of a preacher of the gospel and all these things, bragging.

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“Are they ministers of Christ? I speak like a fool now. I’m more. In labors, more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons, more frequent, in deaths, often. Of the Jews, five times I received 40 stripes save one.”

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That’s 39 lashes on the back, five times he did that. Most people died when they got 39 lashes. It was so severe. He got it five times.

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“Three times, I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.”

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You remember in the book of Acts? He was stoned and left for dead. The disciples went out to get him to bury him, and he got up brushed himself off. Went back in the town to preach a little bit more.

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“Shipwrecked, a day and a night I have been in the deep. In journeyings often, in perils in the water, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the heathen, in perils in the city, perils of the wilderness, perils of the sea, perils among false brethren and weariness and painfulness and watchings often. I spent many nights just praying all night in hunger and thirst and fastings often in cold and in nakedness. And besides all these things that are outside, comes upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

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Paul said these light afflictions, these light afflictions are working something in us, a far more heavy weight of eternal glory.

So do trials and tragedy and temptation and afflictions automatically bring us victory, automatically bring us good things? No. The answer is no.

Millions today face all their problems just the way we face our problems, but they’re never going to work out to their good. They’re never going to work out for the purposes of God, but you, but you.

But you be the sons and daughters of God. And as long as you love God and you love His purposes, everything that’s going to happen in your life is going to be for good. He’s going to use it for good somehow or another. I don’t know how. It’s all gonna work.

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Are Working In Us …

When I was praying over my cancer in my throat, I didn’t know how it was going to work. I didn’t know it was going to be good, and what God was going to do, and how he was going to do it, and what was going to happen, and I didn’t know the end result.

But I just knew, because I know this scripture, and I know that all things work together for good to those who love God and those that are called according to His purpose. All I have to do is keep loving God and keep following His purposes.

I don’t know how it’s going happen. I don’t know what’s going happen, but there is a purpose in these for us. We, who love God, we are called according to His purposes. These things are happening for our good.

What do these afflictions and problems do for us? If we love God, if we love God and we love His purposes, this is what it produces.

This is my sermon now, that was the introduction. Don’t get carried away. I’m sorry.

This is what I want to get to: What these things do is they produce within us a Christ-like character.

A diamond is formed by pressure. It’s just a rock, but it’s been pressurized and now when you cut it, it has all these facets and it gleams and it shines and it sparkles and all the ladies like them.

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Gold is made by intense heat. Listen to me. He’s refining us. He’s purifying us. He’s making us into the image of His own dear son.

These trials are actually employees of ours. They are working for us to produce eternal qualities.

If he wants to produce peace in your life, if He wants to really produce peace in your life, He doesn’t give you peaceful situations. He allows circumstances to be stirred up and turmoil and little things. You know why? Because then in those circumstances, you’ll pursue Him and you’ll find the Prince of Peace.

And in that place all hell can be breaking loose, and all the world can be in turmoil all around you, and you can have perfect peace. And people will say, “Are you crazy, man? What’s the matter with you? Everything’s coming apart and you got peace?” Well, it’s because I know him who is peace.

Patience. He allows us to suffer sometimes a little long.

If he wants to teach us love, he may set us up an example: Look at that person and how they love. But we really learn love when he puts a disagreeable person alongside of us. He allows us to rub shoulders with that disagreeable person so that we begin to love like the father loves.

And he works those things out for our purposes and for our good. If we keep doing what? Loving God and loving His purposes, He shows us what real love is.

It’s natural to believe that all afflictions would weaken and destroy our faith, but it’s not true.

An athlete exercises to the place of pain, and he goes a little bit further because that muscle actually grows and develops when you strain it. All these afflictions, these problems, won’t take us away from faith or won’t keep you from loving God. It will push you towards Him.

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How to Hope

Romans 5:3 says, “For not only so, but we glory in tribulations also knowing that tribulation works patience,” that word patience means endurance. We continue to muster through and go through in endurance. Excuse me, knowing this,

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“And patience, experience, and experience, hope, and hope makes not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.”

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What is he saying here? He said, I want you to glory in your tribulations. I want you to glory in the things that you’re going through, the problems that you’ve got. I want you to glory in it, because if you’ll understand it properly, it says, when you begin to understand what’s taking place, God allows these things to take place in your life.

When you’re going through it, you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know where God is. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t understand. God, I’m going to keep loving you, and I’m going to keep pursuing you, but God, it doesn’t seem like you’re here. I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t understand how this is going to happen. I don’t understand what’s going to happen next, and I don’t understand if I’m going to make it through.”

And then pretty soon you get through it and you look back and you go, “Well, look at that. God was with me all the time. I didn’t understand it when I was going through it, but look, He was with me every step of the way.”

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And that, that endurance—going through it—makes it an experience. That experience then helps you to have hope for the next time when you’ve got a problem over here again, you go, “Oh, wait a minute. Last time when I got to the other side, I found that God was really with me all the time. Maybe I can trust Him a little more.”

So you walk through this thing and then hope, it says, hope makes you not ashamed.

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The Only 2 Things to Be Ashamed Of

I want to get this point across, because this is so important and this is gonna be better preaching than you think it is. That hope makes us not ashamed.

You might think, “Well, I’m ashamed of this and I’m ashamed of that.” You know the sins you’ve committed in your life. Those things are not what he’s talking about at all, because the blood of Jesus Christ is gonna cover up all your sin. That’ll never be something that you have to be ashamed of.

That’s not what he’s talking about here.

He’s talking about hope makes us not ashamed. Jesus talks a lot, and it’s written in the scripture a lot, about when he comes the second time, apart from sin, and he bursts the Eastern sky—that we wouldn’t be ashamed that he’s coming. What is he talking about?

He’s talking about us not being ashamed because there are only two things we would ever be ashamed of: if we haven’t loved him and if we haven’t pursued his purposes.

He says, but if you learn to glory in your tribulations and walk through those things, endure it—even though you don’t understand it, you just endure it—this is good. That creates an experience which creates then a hope, and hope makes us so that we’ll never be ashamed. Because we’ve learned how to love God and love His purposes, and all those things are working for our good.

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Hope Comforts Others

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says,

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“Blessed be the God, even our father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Who comforts us in our tribulations, who comforts us in our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them that are in trouble, by the comfort where we ourselves have been comforted of God.”

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One of the purposes of bringing us through afflictions and troubles and persecutions and things like that, is so you can stand next to somebody else and hold their hand and say, “I know, I know. I’ve been through it. I’ll pray with you. I love you. I care for you. You’ll make it. Keep loving God and keep loving His purposes. It’ll be okay.”

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Jesus, the Bible says was tempted in all points like we are and was touched by all the infirmities that we have. Everything that we’ve ever tasted, he knew all about it.

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How to Pursue God in Tough Times: 4 Secrets

So how’s this work? Here’s the nitty-gritty. Here’s where it gets down to the rubber meets the road. How do you keep loving God and how do you keep pursuing His purposes when these things are tough?

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1. Remember that God is not surprised.

God is sovereign and none of these things have taken Him by surprise. He didn’t wake up in the morning—of course He didn’t wake up in the morning anyway because He never sleeps or slumbers—but it didn’t surprise Him.

He doesn’t say, “I didn’t know he was going to do that.” We have to understand that nothing that’s happening in our lives is taking God by surprise.

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2. Stay sweet.

The second thing we have to understand is, in the midst of all these things—whatever the affliction, persecution, or trouble …

Some of the things are because we’ve committed sin, and we just need to repent quickly.

But really if things are being done to us, the real key here is to stay sweet. Stay sweet. It’s easy to get bitter and start blaming, but just stay sweet.

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3. Be honest with God.

Just get with God. Begin to pray and be honest with God. If you don’t like what’s going on, say, “God, I don’t like what’s going on. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

He’s not going to be upset. He knows you. It’s in your heart already. You might as well say it out loud. Be honest with Him. Just tell Him whatever you wanna say. It won’t offend God. You can tell Him, “I don’t even like what you’re doing to me right now, God. I don’t know why you’re doing it.”

It’s okay. God loves you enough to hear those things.

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4. Exercise faith and endurance.

But then begin to exercise some faith and patience—I’d say endurance. Begin to exercise faith. Say, “God, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I don’t know what’s happening here. I don’t know why it’s happening. I don’t know. But I just love you, and I just love your purposes, and I just know that you’re going to do okay.”

Just stay there and endure it. James says, in James Chapter 1, he says,

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“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith, worketh patience, but let patience have her perfect work that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

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Continue on. Continue on. Continue on. Continue and continue and continue. Don’t back away. Continue on. Last scripture I wanna leave with you. Psalms 34:19, “As many …” Many … I wish you wouldn’t have said many.

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“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord is the one who delivers out of them all.”

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What’s the point of the message? Really, it’s pretty simple. If you love God, and if you love His purposes, whatever’s taking place in your life, if you’ll just stay there and endure it and go through it, it’ll work out for your good. And maybe you’ll be the deliverer of Israel, or maybe you’ll write a song, or maybe you’ll change a nation, or maybe you’ll just be changed into the likeness of the son of God and that’d be good enough.