Charles Stanley - When Facing Storms in Our Life
We all face storms in our life and they come in one of three forms. They could be either physical, or it could be emotional, or it could be spiritual. That's just part of life. We live in a fallen world. When sin came into the world, everything changed. And so, we have to learn how to adjust to the storms that come into our life because they're going to keep coming. Always has been that way since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden. It'll always be that way till Jesus comes. There'll be all kinds of storms that we face; and we either have to learn how to face them, how to survive them or we get defeated by them. We find ourselves missing out on God's blessing because we don't know how to respond to the storms in our life.
If I should ask you this morning: Can you remember a storm in your life in which you were challenged in your faith, maybe? Challenged in your beliefs about different aspects in the Christian life? We could all stand. The issue is, do we know how to respond to them? Do we know how to respond to them in a way that we come out victorious and stronger as a result of the storm? And I think that if God allows a storm in your life, that His ultimate purpose is to bring you out stronger. I didn't say He sends every storm, because many storms are the result of sin in our lives. But the issue is how do we respond to them?
And so, when Paul was writing to Timothy, and if you'll turn to Second Timothy chapter one, he was writing to him because he knew that he was going through a storm in his life. And he was the pastor of a church in Ephesus, and that church was in turmoil. And so, he was going through a very difficult time. Paul knew that he was and he wrote this Second Timothy knowing that in mind. So, I want you to look at this first verse, and we're just going to read through the seventh verse. "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day," which is his way of saying, I'm praying for you, Timothy, and I know you need it. He says, "Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well". Word of compliment and assurance to him. Then he said, "For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given you a spirit of timidity, but power, love, and discipline".
Now, he knew that he was going through a difficult time. He knew that he was very discouraged. And he knew that he needed some help. And so, when he said in this verse, "Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you". That is, if you think about a fire and it's getting dimmer and dimmer and dimmer and you want to throw coal on it or wood on it or kerosene, whatever it might be to cause it to flame up. And what that word really means here is to inflame the gift of God within you. He had become discouraged. He looked around and he thought these folks were his friends, and some of them weren't. He thought they wanted the truth of the gospel and they didn't. And pastoring in a church like that which was a crossroads of the world, he was very discouraged. And Paul said something to him here that is so very, very significant.
And we too go through difficult times in our life. Storms that we don't invite; storms that come from people we think that love us; storms that come from seemingly nowhere but there they are. So, he was discouraged; and he could tell by his writing that he was discouraged and he needed encouragement. So, he said, "For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh". That is, stir up the embers that "Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you," that is all of us have the Spirit of God who is within us when we trusted Christ as our Savior.
If I should ask you today, Can you remember a time in your life when you felt sort of cool? And your Christian life is growing sort of cold. And if I should ask you, What happened? You could probably tell me what caused it. But the fire you used to have is no longer there. And you begin to doubt some things about the Word of God. And at one time you would have defended the Word of God with your life; and now you find yourself compromising when your friends ask you? Well, what's going on in your life? Ah, nothing. They know that it is. You know that it is. And you're able to discern within your own mind and heart that you have drifted away from God to some degree. Or, the troubles and the trials and the heartaches you are suffering's getting the best of you. You've lost your smile. You've lost your joy. You're about to lose your hope. You've begun to even question the Word of God. And some verses that you thought were just anchor verses for you are no longer significant to you. You're not reading the Bible like you used to. You're not praying with enthusiasm and faith as you used to.
And so, what happens is your spiritual life grows cool and then it gets cold, and then you begin to wonder, God, is this real or is it not real? That can happen to anybody. It happens to people who go through difficult times, but people who are not really versed in the Word of God. People who listen to others and will tell you, "Well, you know, if I were in your position," when anybody tells you that, throw up five red flags because they're about to tell you something that you probably do not need to hear. If I were in your position. They don't know what's going on in your life. They only know what they see, what they reflect by your countenance.
Paul is writing to young Timothy and he knows what he feels. Paul's been there. He knows about persecution. He knows about heartache. He knows about troubles and trials. And so, he's writing to him and saying to him, "God has not given you the spirit of fear or timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore," based on who you are and what you have, "do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who saved us, called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from eternity, that is, spark it up, Timothy. Throw some coal on the fire. You don't have to listen and believe what you're hearing. And so, as a result of that, he's simply giving him some sound advice about how to respond to these things.
You don't respond to trials, heartaches, and difficulties by simply listening to your friends or your family; because naturally they're prejudiced. And it may be that God has you under conviction about something that you need to get rid of in your life. And your friends, Oh, listen, God loves you, everything's going to be okay, just ignore all these feelings. No, you can't. You can't ignore the feelings that God has given you because He wants to bring change in your life about something. And I've been through a few storms that I wouldn't even want to discuss. And all of us have storms that are public and storms that are private, but we have storms. And the issue is how do we respond? And his response to Timothy was a response that all of us need to listen to carefully.
And so, I won't get into the emotional storms and physical storms he went through, but they're there. When I think about people getting in difficult situations and become fearful and what's going to happen? I think about them in this light. It stifles my capacity to think and to act wisely. If I give in to other people's comments and give in to my feelings, sometimes, it causes us to be very indecisive, we can't make up our mind about things. Sometimes it diminishes our capacity to do the things that we really are struggling doing, because something is not right. Something's going on in our life that God needs to deal with. There are trials. It doesn't mean, listen, all trials are not the result of sin. Trials come because you're a believer. Trial comes because there is going to be separation. There's going to be indifference. There's going to be criticism. There's going to be misunderstanding. And that can happen within the family, out of the family, where you work, whatever it might be, we find these things happenings.
And so, what happens is it undermines our sense of self confidence. If you don't know how to respond correctly, then you begin to wonder, What do I believe? Am I right, am I wrong? Am I listening to God? Did God really say that to me? And so, what happens is we're sort of tormented by our emotions. And we vacillate going from strength to weakness, yes and no, maybe and maybe not. And you may be here this morning going through some difficulty or hardship or pain and you find yourself questioning, now watch this, the devil is your enemy. And he will throw coals on your doubts and on your fears to encourage you to doubt God, question His will for your life; question your relationship to Him; stop reading the Bible; stop praying; talk to your friends; join the crowd.
And the next thing you know, you're backslidden. You're out of fellowship with God, because you're listening to the wrong people and not reading the Word of God and not bringing it to Him. Listen to this carefully. You can't bring anything to God that's too big for Him. You cannot. You can't bring anything to God that's too heavy for Him. He can handle it. You can't bring anything to God for which He does not have a perfect answer every single time. You may have to struggle to get there. If you have drifted in your spiritual life, not reading the Word of God, not praying and these things begin to develop in your life, people begin to look for some solution when if you go back to the original cause, you think, watch this, you have ignored the fire.
And so, now it's getting less and less. Flames are lower and lower, and you would look for something to blame for it. Blame yourself. You neglected your relationship to God. You neglected your time of prayer and meditation. And even when you have been praying and things go wrong, that doesn't mean you quit praying. Just be, that doesn't mean God's not listening. And sometimes God allows very difficult situations in our life to do what? To grow us up. You're not going to always have everything your way because you're a believer. And when we indicate to people, "Just trust Jesus and everything's fine". Trust Jesus, trust Jesus, and all hell may break loose in your particular situation. Sometimes a husband or wife gets saved and the other one does not. And sometimes the children get saved and the parents are not.
So, listen. Jesus not only is the Prince of Peace, He's also the source of conflict when we're in relationships with people who don't believe what we believe. So, when I think about how God works in our life, listen to what Paul said to him. Now watch this. He said, "For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands". Now watch this, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity," that is of fear, "but of power, love, and discipline". He says, Here's what God has given us. And it's this part that I want us to look at primarily. We have three, watch this, whatever you are facing in life, you have three resources. Three resources that are adequate for whatever situation you may be facing; that are divine; they're from God and they're encouraging. So, what are they? Listen to what he said. He said, Stir it up. Don't give into it, stir it up. And notice he said, For God has given us "power, love, and discipline".
Think about that for a moment. So, what kind of power? The power of the Holy Spirit. When you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Spirit of the Living God came into you and, watch this, He didn't just come in. He came into you to seal you as a child of God and that settled that forever. You're eternally saved. But also, to empower you, to enable you to live a godly life. Every single believer has within him or her the power, the enablement, the strength to live a godly life. And so, when troubles and difficulties come, He says, Now, don't forget this. You have the power of the Holy Spirit living within you. You need to kindle that truth. Stir that truth up. And there have been times in my life when I have been a little discouraged. And, but I learned really quickly in life the first thing to do is not to go talk to somebody.
First thing you need to do is to get in the Word of God and find out what did He say? And He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. And He said, I will be there for you. And He always has the right thing to say for us. And He simply said, Stir it up. He said now, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power". The power of the Holy Spirit. Then He said, Not only power, but He said, "Love". So, think about this. Oftentimes we get discouraged and we don't feel loved. Maybe somebody's mistreated us and I'm sure that's what he was going through. And when people turn against you.
And I can remember a time in my life when, years ago, and I pray probably the thing that I remember most when I was becoming the pastor of the church and my friends who had been so kind to me and I'd been friends to them, one Sunday, this was in the heat of the battle, one Sunday they'd meet me down at the altar. I'd go down and greet guests and so forth. And they tell you, tell me, Pastor, I'm praying for you, loving you, just don't worry about a thing, mm, mm, mm. The next Sunday the same people would walk by me, look at me, not shake hands, not say a word and ignore me for totally. And I would find out that during the week they had said something, so forth.
Now, you know what? When you're walking in the Spirit of God, the love of God's going to be in your heart. And here's what he said. He said, put the wood on the fire. Throw some kerosene on it. Remember who you are. Remember what you have. You have not only the power of God, but you have the love of God within your heart. And that love goes two ways. And that love is love from God for you. God loves you, Timothy. Don't forget that. Remember your mother and your grandmother. Remember how they loved you. Remember what they taught you about God's love. And you know, you can stand most anything if you know God loves you. And there may come times in your life when you feel like nobody else cares.
Well, let me ask you a question. Now think, see if you can be honest about this. Would you rather the world love you, but not God? Or had you rather God love you and not the world. Anybody knows the answer to that question, right? Sure you do. There may come times in your life when you don't feel that love; when you feel shut out; banished; ignored. but God's relationship with you will never fall apart. Never, never, never. And so, he was saying to Timothy, Timothy, listen, remember this, three things. You have the power of God within you. Second, you have the love of God. And not only that, he uses this word, self-control, or a sound mind, which really means a disciplined life. He says, God have given you the power, the love and a sound mind.
You know what a disciplined life is about. A disciplined life is an ordered life. It's a life that's under control. It's a life that faces difficulty, hardships, trials, troubles, dissension, conflict, separation, whatever it might be and still stands unmoved. Did you get that? Say amen. It stands unmoved. Why? Because you're resting in the power of God and in the love of God for you; and no matter what goes on, you can still stand. Whatever the suffering, whatever the storm may be that's blowing hard against your life. A disciplined life is a life committed to Almighty God and does not waver with the winds or with the false doctrines. God has given us a relationship, listen, that within Him that makes us adequate for any storm that comes our way.
And so, here's Timothy; and he receives this letter. Can you imagine what he must have felt when he read that? Paul, how did you know exactly what I was going through? How did you know what's happening? And I think about it this way. When everything around us comes unglued and falls apart, and we don't see any answer, there's one place to go, on your knees in the Word of God trusting Him. Because He, listen, He will solidify your position. Listen, He will make your way clear. He will give you a sense of confidence and boldness and assurance, that you can stand anything that comes your way if you're obedient to God.
So, what was he saying to him? He said, Timothy, I know you're going through a storm. Writing from a prison, I know about that. And Timothy knew about what Paul went through. And so, I'm sure when he read this letter, he knew in his heart he was hearing, reading the words of a man who had already walked the course that he was now suffering. He was in a storm. And I know this this morning, that in a group this size, many of you are going through storms. Maybe a storm on your job; storm in your marriage; storm with your kids; storm with your parents; storm with your physical being; storm with your finances. Come from all different sources, watch this, the storm has many origins.
The answer is only one, and that is our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit in His love, and His ability to work in our lives to live lives that are settled on the Word. And as He says here with a sound mind; a disciplined life. A disciplined life takes the heat, takes the storms; and no matter what comes, it's immovable because it is sealed by the Holy Spirit; filled with the Holy Spirit and adequate through the Holy Spirit.
Now if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, none of this counts. You've been trying to live in a world of conflict, and sin, and disobedience, and rebellion, and all of the other things without Him. And so, you have to come to the place you say, Lord, I rebelled against you. I've ignored you. I'm asking you on the basis of your promise. You said if we confess our sins, you're faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I'm confessing my sin to you. I'm agreeing with you that I'm living in sin. I'm asking you to forgive me and I repent of my sin. I turn away from that. I'm turning to you as my only hope and asking you to forgive me and from this day forward, by your strength, your energy, your power, your discipline I choose to live a godly life. I don't understand all it means right now, but I choose to live it, and I want to get in your Word. I want you to teach me the truth. Here's my life Lord God.
You'll never be the same since. It's a choice you make. Now watch this. This world isn't going to change except for the worst. If you're thinking things are going to get better and you'll be able to live the way you're living, you're in for a mistake. Sin is sin. This world we live in is wicked. The Devil is loose. Unbelievable things are happening. And we have one hope, one assurance. That's to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You can have that if you'll do what I just said. Otherwise, you'll get deeper, and deeper, and deeper into sin, into need, into pain, into suffering with nowhere to go. It's foolish. When you have been offered the gift of the love of God, the presence of the love of God, the power of a loving God, the provisions of a loving God, if you will simply surrender your life to Him and ask Him to do it. Amen?
Father, we thank You for loving us. Thank You that no storm is too great for You. And I pray for someone here today who is in the middle of a storm; who desperately needs rescuing; and there You are willing to listen to their confession, the surrender of their life to You. And I pray, Father, that those seated here today who are going through little storms, medium storms, big storms, intense painful storms, give them the courage to be willing to admit it, confess it, and take that step for some to know Christ as their Savior; for others to come back to the Word of God, where they used to be, crying out to You, trusting You to mend their broken hearts. Fire up the fire within them that is now just cool coals; for You are adequate, You're sufficient and You'll do it because You promised in Jesus' name, amen.