II Corinthians 12:9
I. Our First Response To Adversity Should Not Be To Try To Remove It, But To Allow It To Reveal Our True Weaknesses.
A. Adversity is God way of Getting Our Attention!
1. Adversity can be our greatest motivation for spiritual growth or our deadliest means of discouragement.
2. The difference depends on our understanding of God's purposes through adversity.
3. When adversity comes, we are suddenly faced with problems and pressures too big for us to resolve.
4. Our inward response should be, Psalms 25:1-2, "Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me."
5. As adversity continues, and human strength is drained, Christ's invitation becomes more and more attractive: Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
B. Adversity is our assurance God Loves Us!
1. Satan will try to convince us that God has forsaken us while we are being chastened.
2. In reality, chastening is proof that God is lovingly preparing us for His greater glory. Hebrews 12:6-11, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? ..... For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
C. Adversity is God's call for Self-Examination!
1. In the physical realm, pain is one our greatest protectors.
2. Without its sharp and persistent warning we would fatally damage ourselves without realizing it.
3. The pain of adversity should cause us to pray: Psalms 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
D. Adversity is God's way of Conquering Our Pride!
1. God's grace is free. But there is one essential requirement to receive it: Humility.
2. The adversity of contention reveals pride:
3. The adversity of destruction is the consequence of pride:
4. The adversity of shame is God's means of humbling us:
E. Adversity is our reminder of Our Weaknesses!
1. When God works in power through our obvious weaknesses, both we and others are free to give Him all the praise.
II Corinthians 12:7-10
2. Psalms 103:13-14, "Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust."
F. Adversity is our motivation to Cry Out To God!
The intensity of the cry of a child will determine how quickly the parent will respond. God responds to the cry of His children when they are in adversity:
II. Our Second Response To Adversity Should Not Be To Focus On Outward Circumstances But To Realize That We Are Dealing With Unseen Spiritual Powers.
A. Adversity is our evidence of Spiritual Warfare!
1. If we do not recognize when adversity is spiritual warfare, we will be overwhelmed and tempted to give up.
2. When adversity takes the form of confusion, suspicion and division, spiritual warfare is on.
B. Adversity is God's method of Purifying Our Faith!
1. Adversity exposes the futility of putting our faith in anyone or anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Peter 1:6
2. Adversity removes those things in which we put our trust so that we can clearly see the faithfulness of God.
C. Adversity is our signal to Re-Evaluate Our Priorities!
1. Our first and most important priority must always be to seek God:
II Chronicles 26:5
2. Wrong priorities may result in much painful adversity, not only for us but also for those who are affected by our lives.
3. When we fail to spend proper time with the Lord in memorizing His word, meditating and praying, we rob others of necessary spiritual encouragement and direction.
4. Instead, we become vulnerable to transgression.
5. The means which God uses to save us out of our distresses is His word:
6. Adversity from wrong priorities may be the result of trying to do more than God intended for us to do:
D. Adversity is God's way of Sifting Our Friendships!
1. Adversity will always test friendships. It will reveal which friends are concerned about getting and which friends are concerned about giving.
2. A true friendship is richly illustrated in the account of David and Jonathan. Their hearts were knit together in love - then adversity came to David. Jonathan could have chosen many valid reasons for rejecting David, but instead he stood by David right up to the end of his life. He warned and protected David; he encouraged and befriended him; he risked his life for him.
III. Our Third Response To Adversity Should Not Be To Live For Christ In Own Efforts, But To Realize That Christ Must Live In Us Through The Power of His Holy Spirit.
A. Adversity is God's call to Identify With Christ!
1. One of the ultimate purposes of adversity is to cause us to desire more of Christ's power in our lives.
2. Paul suffered the loss of all things in order that he might win more of Christ and experience the power of Christ's resurrection:
B. Adversity is our motivation for Open Accountability!
1. God's key to life and peace, wisdom and lasting achievement is a moment by moment awareness of our accountability for all of our words, thoughts, actions, attitudes and motives.
2. This continuing awareness is actually the fear of the Lord. It is the beginning of wisdom and the fountain of life. (Prov. 9:10, 14:27)
3. When we lose our awareness of God, we become vulnerable to thinking and acting as if God did not exist.
4. In response, God raises up painful reminders on a human level.
C. Adversity is our preparation to Comfort Others!
Our most effective counsel to others will grow out of the counsel God gives us during our afflictions.
II Corinthians 1:3-5
A Search For The Truth