Count It All Joy When Strange Things Happen

February 13, 2005
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

The effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much. So pray with me this morning. Because there are some forces that are prevalent that are very strong. But we have power. And we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices. We have power from up on high, and that’s what we’re going to use. We’re not going to use carnality. We’re not going to use the flesh. We’re going to operate by the Word and the Spirit of God.

If you would, lift your Bibles high in the air this morning. This is my Bible. I am who it says I am. I can do what it says that I can do. And because of this Word I am made whole. Because of this Word I am victorious. Because of this Word I am prosperous. Because of this Word I am prosperous. Because of this Word no weapon that is formed against me shall prosper. In the Name of Jesus. Somebody shout, “Glory.” Hallelujah.

If you would, turn in your Bibles with me to the book of First Peter chapter four. First Peter chapter four. Glory to God. And when you reach First Peter chapter four, please signify by saying amen. In First Peter chapter four (Hallelujah. Thank You, Holy Ghost) we’re going to look at verse twelve. Peter said:

12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

Look at verse thirteen.

13. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Somebody shout, “Thank You, Jesus.” Let us pray.

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we thank You for who You are and for what You do. Master, hide Your son behind the cross, that Your people would see and hear You only, and not me. Master, I decrease this morning, that You would increase. Dear Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. Dear God, I thank You that every fowl demon is bound and forbidden to operate. God, I cast it out back to the dry places, in the Name of Jesus, that Your people would hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying to the church. In Jesus’ Name.

And the people of God said amen. Look at your Bibles. You may be seated. First Peter chapter four and verse twelve. It says:

12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

Listen, church. Persecution can cause either growth or bitterness in the Christian life. Persecution can either cause you to grow, it can either stimulate growth in you, or it can cause you to become bitter and begin to stunt the process (glory to God) of growth that God has in your life. Glory to God. It’s our response that determines the results. Let me say that again. It’s our response (glory to God) to the suffering and the trials and the tribulations and the battles that determine our response. Glory to God. It’s our response that determines the results.

And Peter was writing to the Jews, believers, because they were struggling in the midst of persecution. He encourages (glory to God) them to conduct themselves courageously for the person and program of Christ. He was letting them know that there was a divine purpose behind their pain. And I came to tell you today, church, that there is a (oh, my God) divine purpose for your pain. And that’s why Peter, he was talking to them. He said, “Don’t think that it’s strange that you’re going through what you’re going through. God’s got a purpose, and God’s got a plan for your pain. Look at your neighbor and say, “He’s got a purpose.”

He said, “You’re thinking that because you’re walking in a place of righteousness that this thing that has come upon you has no business being there.” And you see, that’s the facade of the church today. We think that because we are walking in righteousness, we won’t have a problem paying our bills. We think that because we’re walking in righteousness we’ll have no problems with relationships. I came to tell you today that because you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, you will suffer the pain. Give God praise in this house today.

When we look at the word “strange,” it’s something that’s unusual; it’s something that’s unfamiliar; it’s something that is peculiar. And when we look at Job . . . Go over there with me today. The Bible began to talk to me about Job. Look at Job chapter one. It said that there was a man (we know the story) in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. And that man was perfect, or he was mature. Glory to God. He was good and upright and one that feared God and avoided evil. Glory to God. In other words, he was a righteous man. He . . . Oh, my God. He had a standard of righteousness in his life. And all of a sudden (my God) here come Satan.

Whenever you’re trying to do right, Satan’s going to come along and try to give God a reason about why you’re trying . . . Oh, my God. I know I’m talking to somebody, because you’ve been trying to do right, and every time you turn around, Satan’s on your back.

And here we have Job. We have him doing right, getting up praying when he’s supposed to pray, worshiping God, coming to church service after service, singing songs of Zion, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. Oh, I know I’m talking to somebody today.

Here we have Job in a peculiar place. My God. Serving God. And here comes Satan and says to God, “The reason why Job serves You the way that he serves You is because You’ve hedged him in. And not only have You hedged him in, but You’ve blessed him.”

Let me tell you something. Satan’s always after your credibility with God. Do you hear what I’m saying? I don’t know about you, but I want to have credibility with God. You can fan all you want to. I’m a preacher until I get happy. Oh, my God, today.

Satan wants to mess up your credibility with God. I don’t care about my credibility with man, as long as I’m credible with my God.

He comes along and he tries to mess up Job’s credibility. Think about it. This is a righteous man. He’s in God. He’s living holy. He’s minding his own business. He was strong in faith. He exuded patience. And he had the highest level (you need to listen) of integrity throughout the land. And now the accuser of the brethren. Has the absolute audacity to give sovereign God a reason why he’s serving Him.

And so here comes this fiery trial that’s about to try this man of God. Doesn’t it seem strange to be able to walk with God and still go through?

We think it’s strange, because we look at television, and we see all that they have, and the Mercedes. My God. There’s nothing wrong with it. But we look at it, and we look at our condition, and we start to get upset, and we start to blame God. “Why, Lord? Why?” Because it doesn’t seem like we’re prospering like they’re prospering.

He accused Job of following God for the fishes and the loaves. And that is what Satan is accusing you of today. He’s saying, “The only reason that they’re serving You is because of the prophecy that they got on Friday night, because . . .” Oh, my God. “. . . about them being a. . . “ Oh, my God. I know I’m talking to . . . “The only reason they’re serving You is because they’re trying to get something out of You.” Look at your neighbor and say, “The devil is a liar.”

It’s so strange that the Lord allowed Satan to torment Job, to demonstrate that His servant loved Him, not because of what He had given him, but he loved Him, my God, because of who He is. Look at your neighbor and say, “It’s not strange any more.”

It seems strange that this man of God would be going through the fire based on his character and his lifestyle. Can I get a witness somebody? It was a strange thing that this man of God would rise up early in the morning and sanctify his children before the Lord. And before (my God) he could turn around, he lost his children. It was a strange thing that this man of God that was walking in good health, all of a sudden, oh my God, his health has deteriorated. It’s a strange thing that this wealthy man that had all the material blessings, all of a sudden lost it all. Look at your neighbor and say, “It’s not strange any more.”

To every one that was around him, except him, it was strange to. In the second chapter of Job (listen) and verse nine, his wife told him to curse God and die. Because she said, “I’ve seen your walk, honey. You’re not one way in the pulpit and another way in the bedroom.” Oh, my God. Am I talking to you? “You’re not one way around all the saints and then another way around all the ain’ts. You don’t have a conversation that’s holy in front of the fellowship of the brethren, and then when you get out there, you cuss like a sailor. I seen your walk, baby, and you’re a man of God.” Oh, my God. I’m talking to somebody.

So this thing became strange to her. And she said, “Curse God and die.” In other words, she was saying, “Renounce this Jehovah.” But look at what Job said. Look at verse ten. He said:

10. . . . What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Why? Because it wasn’t strange. He knew with whom he had to do. He had a relationship with his God. It wasn’t based on the material things that he had. It wasn’t based on the stature in the community (oh, my God) that he had. It wasn’t based on his reputation that was impeccable. But it was based on a relationship that was founded in prayer.

It wasn’t strange. And so you’re going through something this morning. You hear me? You’re going through something this morning, and you’re acting like it’s a strange thing. Let me tell you something, child of God. When you do right, Paul said evil is all around you. He said, “When I go to do right, evil is always present with me.”

So He’s speaking to us today. He’s saying, “Stop thinking it’s strange that you’re going through what you’re going through. Stop looking at everybody else’s condition and judging their condition by your condition, and saying that their condition is better than my condition.” But sometimes you don’t understand what they’ve been through to get where they are right now. Don’t be fooled, child of God.

It’s not a strange thing. Peter was talking to them. He said, “Wait a minute. You’ve got the wrong frame of mind, and that’s why you can’t smile no more. That’s why you can’t lift up hands of joy any more. That’s why you don’t have a dance in your feet no more.” You think it’s strange that you’re lonely and all by yourself. You think it’s strange that you don’t have enough money to make ends meet. You think it’s strange that your child is cutting up in class, and you’re trying to look at somebody else’s child and measure your child by that child. You don’t know what God has called that child to. Judge nothing before the time. I feel the glory.

You think it’s strange. You think it’s strange. You think it’s strange that they loved you today, and they cried, “Crucify him” tomorrow. You think it’s strange. He came to tell you today that this is all a part of the Christian walk. That’s why He said rejoice. He said be glad. He said be happy.

You see, it’s when you don’t go through anything, you better look out. Because maybe you’re walking in pride, and pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

It’s not strange, men and women of God, and children, people. It’s not strange about what you’re going through. There’s a divine purpose for pain. God is looking for a certain response, but Satan is looking for a certain response. God was saying, “Watch this.” And Satan was saying, “No, You watch this.”

Prove him wrong. Because God is bragging on you. He’s bragging on you. Because He knows that He has equipped you to make it to the other side. He knows what He has given you. He knows what He has placed in you. He knows that greater is He that’s in you than he that is in the world. He knows the beginning from the end. He knows it.

And you see, if I don’t think it’s strange about this fiery trial that has come to try me, then I can give the God kind of response. And I can say, “This too shall pass.” Give Him praise today.

Why? Why does a loving and wise God permit strange things to happen to His children? Don’t you know that He’s got to cut on you, that you can produce what? If there’s no cutting, there’s no productivity. He’s not just looking for leaves.

You remember when Jesus came back, and all there was was leaves? There was leaves on the fig . . . He was like, “Where’s the fruit at?” And He cursed it at the root. He’s not coming back for leaves. He’s coming back for fruit. Are you producing any fruit? Are you producing any fruit? The fruit of what? Patience. The fruit of knowledge. Amen, somebody. The fruit of maturity. Maturity.

There was a situation that happened this morning. It just arose out of the blue. Trying to get ready for church. Here comes Satan trying to get a response out of me. Did you hear what I said? He was trying to get a response out of me, but he was trying to get the wrong kind of response. Because evidently God must have said something about me.

Just like God is talking about me, He’s talking about you. God said something about you today. And when you get into your next week or the next week or sometime soon, Satan’s going to say, “Now, wait a minute, God. You know, You said that, but watch this.” God is looking for a certain response out of you. You can’t always respond with, you know, hollering and screaming and kicking and biting and scratching and punching. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. You need to get into a place of prayer and beat that devil’s brains out.

He’s looking for some fruit. Have you been producing any fruit lately? In First Peter five and ten it says:

10. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while . . .

My God. He said, “After you have suffered a while, then you will pass the set.” This is what the Bible said. It said, “After you have suffered a while . . .” I think I need to say that again, because I don’t know if you heard me. After you have suffered a while. Okay. It’s starting to . . . I feel it. It’s starting to . . . I’m going to say it one more time to this side over here. After you have suffered a while. Come on. Repeat with me. After you have suffered a while. Okay. I believe some folk over there got it. I’m going to come over here. Now say it with me–one, two three. After you have suffered a while. You need to hear that. Sometimes you need to hear yourself say it.

10. . . . after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

You mean that all of this comes through pain? Now, that’s what seems strange to me. Lord, You made me. Why didn’t You just make me what You want me to be, without the suffering? I’m Yours. Uh, uh. We have a free will. So he said after you have suffered a while He will make you perfect; He will stablish you; He will strengthen you.

So He wants to change our mindset. So child of God, listen. Don’t think it strange any more, because of this situation that has come to try you. But count it all joy when strange things happen. Give God praise today. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

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