Unleashing Hope (Part 2)

Understanding The Role Pain Plays In Growing Our Faith

James Greer
Jan 23, 2022    28m
In this Christian walk, we will experience pain. But our pain plays an important role in growing our faith. There is no great victory or accomplishment without pain. We must hide the Word in our hearts and do the work we were saved to do. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

James Greer: [00:00:00] Morning, Journey Church. Man, I love that last song, man. Huh? Amen? No longer a slave to fear. And in fact, it goes along with the message today because we're going to talk about the children of Israel and one time that Moses was allowed to lead them out of bondage into freedom and then one time Moses wasn't allowed to lead them into the Promised Land. Do you know why that's so important? Because the children of Israel are a type of Christians. And what I was so concerned about, so many Christians accept Christ as their Savior, but they don't go into the promised life that God has for them. It's the same picture, but God has a promised life for you. It's not one of fear. It's one of faith. I want you to learn something right now. Every time from now on, when fear comes, you go to faith. Amen? Immediately, let the fear drive you to faith. I mean, you know the best way to learn some things? By learning what not to do. And that's what we're going to learn about the children of Israel. The first time they let pain drive them to God's purpose to be delivered from bondage in Egypt. The next time they let pain drive them away from God's purpose. That's why we got to be very careful how we deal with pain. Pain often has purpose. Now, the pain I'm talking about is usually emotional, physical stress, the pain of life. And during that time, God says, Hey, I got a purpose, and the purpose for the pain for the children of Israel was to cry out to God.

James Greer: [00:01:45] Now the thing I worry about that, they lived in that pain for years and years and years and years, and I know people that continue to live in pain and in bondage for years and years and years. And you don't have to. You can cry out to God. He wants to deliver you. He wants to free you. He wants to give you the abundant life. But if you give into fear, your life is fragile. They had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. He didn't want that. He wants to give you a life like John 10:10 said, I have come. Jesus said, I have come that they may have life. That's Christians. And that you may have it abundantly. Amen? So would you say that Jesus wants what kind of life for you? Abundant life. But they wouldn't live that life. I mean, it's just like Joshua is trying to lead the people into the Promised Land. Jesus wants you to have the promised life that He has for you. Let's look, first of all, let's look why Moses was allowed to lead the children of Israel out of the Promised Land. Basically, basically, he had heard their groanings. Well, I can tell you why he did, and we're going to read the rest of the verse. He led them out of the Promised Land because we're going to read in a minute, they had been in so much pain and bondage, they were finally ready to change.

James Greer: [00:03:06] Sometimes you're not ready to change till you have enough pain. Some of you here today are in pain, and hopefully, after today, you're ready to change. You can just hear the pain in there. He said, I heard their groanings. That's pain. The children of Israel who were in Egypt kept in bondage. That's pain. But I remember my covenant, God said. Therefore, I say to the children of Israel, I'm the Lord. I'll bring you out from under the burden. That's pain. Of the Egyptians. I will rescue. Aren't you glad God still rescues? Amen? You from the bondage. He wants to deliver you. I am the redeemer. You with the outstretched arms and you with great judgment, God said, listen, I want to redeem you, and I will take you as my people and I will be your guide and you shall know that I am the Lord, capital LORD, the one that's in charge, the one of all the armies, your God who brings you out from under the burden. That's pain of the Egyptians. I mean, it's going on and on and on and tell you how much pain they've gone through. I'll bring you into the land, He said, I want to bring you into the Promised Land, which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

James Greer: [00:04:27] And I'll give it to you for a heritage for I am the Lord. The Lord wanted to bring him to the Promised Land. He wanted to deliver them. And the only reason they got out of bondage and Egyptians because they had been under so much pressure and so much pain, they finally cried out to God. Now, next Sunday, y'all, we're going to have what we call the Lord's Supper. But really, when Jesus called the disciples that said, it's the Passover feast. And we're going to go celebrate the Passover. And the Passover was really when Moses led the children out of Israel, and it was done to remember what they did. And so part of what we call the Lord's Supper is celebrating the Passover. But today we remember what Jesus did for us. So I want you to come next Sunday. Amen? But the main reason the children were following Moses to get out of bondage is just because of suffering and hurting and pain. I mean, I just wonder. How many people really, they come to church, most people, the first time they come to church because there's a problem in their life. I mean, that's one of the reasons. So whether you're downstairs, upstairs, or online and you've got a problem and you're suffering and you're going through pain, why just wait and wait and wait? Why don't you today cry out to God and say, hey, God, I need to change.

James Greer: [00:05:54] I need your help. I mean, it might be a marriage, I mean, Darrell's next month, he's starting a marriage, couples class. Amen? And, you know, just because it's a marriage couples class, it doesn't mean you have to sign up. Everybody that signed up doesn't have problems. But sure enough, if you have problems, you need to sign up. Amen? But whether you made 10 years, 20 years, 40 something years like me, you want to keep growing. Right? So it doesn't matter. If you want a better marriage, sign up for it. Amen? How about the prodigal son? Do y'all know why the prodigal son finally went home? It's about the time he ran out of money. When I run out of money, I often go to God. God often uses money to get our attention. And a great famine came and swept the land, and he began to starve. Little pain coming in there. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. Great. And the boy became so hungry, that's pain, that even the pods he was feeding to the swine, they looked good to him. And no one gave him anything. Then while he came to his senses, hey, I'm going to tell you, some people just need to simply come to their senses. I mean, really come to your. Why are you living like that? Why are you going through the pain? Why do you keep facing the problem? As a Christian, you don't have to keep living like you're living.

James Greer: [00:07:25] You can come to your senses. And he said, you know why? At my home, even the hired hands have food enough to spare. And here I am, dying of hunger. He said, here I'm living like this. I'm living like other people, like non-Christians, and I could really, I could go home. I can go to my father's house. Are you ready? You don't have to keep living like that because you can also go to your father's house and you got a daddy in Heaven and He's your father. Amen? So no matter what you're doing, why don't you go home? Why don't you go to your daddy? Why don't you go to your father's house? Amen? He said, I've sinned against Him in Heaven and you. You know? But man, I love the part. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Well, I mean, are any of us worthy to be called His sun? Nope. But you know, what's great? We still are. Because of what Jesus did, God is our Father. I mean, don't you know, no matter what you're going through, no matter what happened, isn't it great that you could go to your Father in Heaven? And I'm not going to read the rest of the story, but you know what happened when the prodigal son headed back to the father? The father was out there ready to meet him and hugged him and gave him kissed him. I mean, he loves him.

James Greer: [00:08:29] Do you understand that your Father in Heaven wants you to come to Him, no matter what you've done in the past? But the reason the children of Israel were ready to be freed from Egypt, it's because of the pain and the bondage and the hurt. Sometimes you have to hurt bad enough, you want to change. The reason the prodigal son went back to his father because of the pain he was in, pain and suffering. Is there an area in your life that you're suffering enough that you're ready to change? Or better yet, listen to this, is there an area in your life, listen, you know if you don't change, before long, there's going to be pain and suffering coming your way? Why don't you make the change now? Listen, listen, some people, guys and girls, you're at work and you're starting to make an emotional connection with the opposite sex. Oh, yeah, you look good today, baby. Thank you, honey. Maybe we ought to go eat. No, sir-ee. You understand that you don't need to be going to eat lunch with the opposite sex, right? And when they start telling you look good and he looks good and all this stuff, you better be careful. That emotional connection could lead to a physical connection, which is the wrong connection and all hell is going to break loose. Maybe it's something else. Maybe you're going to the wrong places. Maybe you're doing the wrong thing and you know now why don't you just change before the pain comes? If you'll change your mind, if you'll change the way you're thinking, you will change your life and change your direction.

James Greer: [00:10:17] Sometimes you're just weak and that's okay because God is strong. Sometimes the best, very best thing to do is just admit how weak you are and how much you need to depend on God. Just basically surrender and commit to God. Why couldn't Moses bring them into the Promised Land? I mean, God said, He said, listen, I'm bringing you out of Egypt to bring you into the Promised Land. You know why? There is no great gain, there's no great victory, there's nothing great accomplished without some pain. It's just that way. Doesn't matter what, it doesn't matter if it's home, it doesn't matter if it's work, doesn't matter if it's finance, physical. I mean, Joy gets up sometimes in the morning, she will run five, six miles. I don't know. That's probably painful. I walked a mile the other day. I did, I did. Richie gets up sometimes and works out, and he's going to start doing it regularly. Andrew works out every day. Steven works out. Josh is starting to work out. I mean, did you know to do that, it's painful? But do you know anything that you do that you want to accomplish something that's painful? While they're working out, I get up and study. I did. I walked for days this week. That's pretty good.

James Greer: [00:11:42] The point I'm trying to make, there's nothing great ever accomplished that's not painful. Moses couldn't lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land because they were fearful and the pain they were facing. See, they kept looking at the problem instead of God's promise. The truth is they would have had to fight. You're going to have to fight as a Christian. But man, listen to this. It would have been well worth the gain. They would've had the Promised Land. No, no. Instead of fighting and going to the Promised Land, they wandered around the wilderness for 40 years and died out. 600,000 people, just dropping dead. Bam, bam, bam. And they could've been in the Promised Land. They said the graves were so big, sometimes it took two people to carry them. You know? Some of you, the pain, this is a pain you need to start having. You need to get up and come to church every Sunday. You need to get in a small group. You say, you're afraid of getting a small group, you don't know how to get a small group, we got somebody like Tommy Cartwright, all you got to write and say, I want to get a small group. He'll call you, he'll contact you, he'll find the right group for you. You can try that group. You don't like that group, you can call him. He'll get you another group. Richie, any reason somebody shouldn't get in a small group? Is that easy enough? I mean, if I was here and I was never in a small group, I'd be kind of afraid.

James Greer: [00:13:00] But if I had somebody that I could call that I know he's going to walk me in there and he was going to try to the group and if I didn't like the group, I could go to another group. That's pretty good. Amen? Because there's three things you've got to have. You've got to have God's presence, you've got to have God's promises, and you got to have God's people. But if you miss one of those, you miss out on God's power. Now let me tell you something about God's presence. You better be careful coming every single Sunday and not experience God's presence. Because I'm going to read to you in a minute, the children of Israel got to see God's presence, but they didn't want to experience it personally. They got to see Him do miracles. They got to see Him part the Red Sea. They got to see Him turn bad water into good water. They got to see Him manna out of Heaven. Have you ever seen food, manna out of Heaven? No. It was a miracle. But yet they didn't experience the power of God, but they had the promise of God. They heard it say you can go in. They had the people of God. But because they didn't personally experience the presence of God, they were fearful to go into the Promised Land. That's good, Brother James. Anyway. Let's look why they were afraid.

James Greer: [00:14:03] But the men who had gone up, gone into the Promised Land said, we're not able to go up against these people. Why? They're stronger than we are. Well, I mean, you have God on your side. And they gave the children of Israel a bad report for the land, which they had spied out, saying, the land through which we had gone as spies is land that devours its inhabitants. You know what? And all the people whom we saw, they are of great stature. In fact, they're like giants almost. In fact, he says that. He said we saw the giants, the descendants of Aiken, came from the giants. And we, y'all ready? We were like grasshoppers. Say grasshoppers. In our own sight. Yeah. They were grasshoppers in their own sight. But guess whose sight they were supposed to be looking through? God's sight. So you see, when you start looking at fixing your problems in your own sight, you look like a grasshopper. But when you face in God's sight, it changes. And we were in their sights. You got to understand, the grasshopper syndrome. The grasshopper syndrome is when you're a Christian, you falsely believe your problem is too big for you and God. So you're the grasshopper. You got God on your side. Notice I said a Christian because if you're a Christian, you got the hope, the assurance, the power of God Non-Christians don't have. But when you face a problem and you falsely believe it's too big for you and God to handle, it results in fear.

James Greer: [00:15:48] And you should have faith and you should have enjoyed the miracles and the power of God. But instead, you believe the myth and wandered around the wilderness. Grasshopper myths cause you to look at the problems more than your problem. See, what I want you to do, I want you to start Monday, when you have a fear, I want you to immediately go to faith and you look to the promise. There's nobody here that has to live that way. You don't have to live in fear and worry and anxiety. You can automatically look. You don't have to live like a grasshopper. You got God on your side. Amen? I've taught you week after week, don't face your decisions in your life on the problems, but on the promise. Your feelings are the caboose. God's promise and faith is the front of the train. So it's not what you see. It's not what you feel. It's what God's Word said. And third, their lack of faith. It's hard to believe their lack of faith, isn't it? It's hard to believe they, that word I hid in my heart that I might not say it again. It's hard to believe that they didn't hide The Word in their heart. It's hard to believe that they didn't take God's presence. It's hard to believe. Can you imagine the Red Sea parting so you can walk through? That's a pretty good miracle. Amen?

James Greer: [00:17:05] It is a enough of a miracle when the enemy came in, it drowned them off. So it's a pretty good miracle. Yet they didn't see it as a big miracle, I guess, because they kept lacking faith. You're going to find out in a minute, you're going to find out in a minute, they said, hey, man, we need water and they're complaining. Moses took a tree and threw it in the water and it turned sweet and they got it. Wasn't long again, they're complaining again. They said, we don't have enough to eat. God rained down food for them. Do you know they missed the presence of what God was doing? Be careful that you don't come to church and let your mind wander about everything else and miss what God's doing. See, you miss the promise of God, you miss the presence of God, and you miss the people of God because God's got something for you. See, it's hard to hide that Word in the heart. It's hard to come and remember the problems. It's hard to apply it. But my goodness, it's worth it because you can get the joy and the peace that's for it. I mean, it's work, but it's worth it. Y'all ever drive by Sunday mornings and see those guys in the parking lot waving? You don't think that's work? It's cold out there. If you don't see the praise team and everybody that works on the praise team and the people in the back and the people in the back, they usually get here at 6:30 in the morning.

James Greer: [00:18:25] They stay here probably till two o'clock in the afternoon. Nobody sees them. It's work to do that, but it's worth the reward. It's worth the fruit. That's what I'm telling you. There's nothing great accomplished that doesn't take work. You know? Look, they didn't want to do that. Listen to how they complained. Exodus 11:14. And they said to Moses, because there's no graves in Egypt that you take us away to die in the wilderness. Why have you dealt with us to bring us up out of Egypt? Come on, man. He delivered you from bondage. You know? I mean, Moses was delivered and trying to set them free, and they're saying, why did you do it? Then it goes on in Exodus 15:24. They gripe again. And the people complained. I would have hated to have Moses' congregation. Don't complain all the time. Amen? They complained, saying we don't have anything to drink. It's too cold. It's too hot. Poor me. Holy Moses. You know what it says? What they'd do? So Moses called out the God the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. Now try this. You got bad water. It's sour. And so I cast the tree into the water and the water was made sweet. That's pretty good, huh? I mean, here they are all trying to get water. Water is bad. They're crying and complaining, a bunch of babies. And anyway. But they're missing what's going on. And he tossed it in there, and it turned into sweet.

James Greer: [00:19:56] And at the end, he said he did that to test them. You know what? You know the purpose of a test, right? God's trying to teach you to trust Him. So when you go through a test, remember God's trying to teach you to what? Trust Him. And if you don't pass the test, you've got to do it again. Another chapter. And the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained again to Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. Man, they're the complaint-est people that you can find. You know? And the children of Israel said to them, oh, that we had just died. That's the second time they died. I'd say just die, sucker. Anyway. By the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, we could have just sat there by the pots of meat and we could eat the bread and be full. I mean, now they're griping about, they were griping about water. Now they're griping about eating. I mean, they just gripe and gripe and gripe. For you had brought us out into the wilderness to kill us, the whole assembly. Now we're hungry. I mean, we were thirsty. Now, we're hungry. And the Lord said to Moses, You ready? Behold, I'm going to rain down bread from Heaven for you. Y'all ever see that happen? I mean, that's a pretty good experience to experience God, right? And all the people can go out and gather all that they need for that day.

James Greer: [00:21:23] I mean, and He did it for a test. And He said, man, I keep testing them. Surely they're going to start trusting me. I'm going to test them. Surely they're going to start trusting me. But you know, no, no, no. The reason they didn't go in the Promised Land is because they didn't trust God still. They were afraid. They didn't want to face the pain, and they were not only afraid of the pain, they always complained. You got to be careful. Why do you come to church? The truth is, do you come to church just for what you can get and what it'll do for you, which is okay. I want you to get something when you come. Next month is all in the family and we're going to try to minister to all ages in the family. I mean, the children of Israel, they just complained and complained and complained, didn't they? But because they didn't finally grow up and start serving, they ended up going back in the wilderness and wondering for 40 years. Some of you in church, downstairs and upstairs and you online need to grow up enough and start saying, how can I serve in the church? Oh. You can come in the service in the church and you get to experience the power of God. I can tell you, anybody you know that serves are some of the happiest, most satisfied people in church.

James Greer: [00:22:46] Serve and satisfied. Amen? I mean, you know you're saved by grace through faith, but you're saved to serve. In Ephesians 2:10, it says, for we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, born anew, that we may do those good works, which God predestined. He planned ahead of time for us, taking the path which He prepared ahead of time. God said, I already got a plan for you. I got a path for you to go ahead. He said, not only that, that you should walk in them, living the good life, which I prearranged and I made ready for you. God said, listen, I want you to know that you're saved by grace. There's nothing you can do to save yourself. God did that by sending His Son, Jesus Christ. I mean, but He said, because of your save, you should find good works, and as you find good work, you're going to find the good life I've already prearranged for you. Amen? That is good, Brother James. And as you work, you get fruit. As you work, you'll find a life. You're going to be happier serving God than you ever are working at work. And except for work, when you go to work, if you realize that work is the greatest ministry you have. All right. Closing. Starting to close, starting to close. You've got to make sure you're saved by grace. You've got to make sure that you're saved by grace. See, the children of Israel were a type of Christians.

James Greer: [00:24:09] Even though this group didn't get to go on the Promised Land, God still fed them, clothed them, took care of them. The next group did get to go in the Promised Land. So God still loved them and protected them. So the most important thing you can do today is make sure this time, you say, God, I know I'm a sinner. I believe Jesus died for my sin. I want Him to come in my heart. So if you hadn't done that, that's the most important thing you can do today. Second, what have you been fearing? What have you been rebelling against? What do you think is too big for God? When you think it's too big for you and God, situational atheism. You think you can't overcome it with the power and the presence of God? What is it? We're going to face fear, y'all. The fear needs to drive us to faith. What is it you might need to be giving up before too much pain and suffering comes? What's causing you so much pain and suffering and today you're finally ready to change? Maybe it's worry, anxiety, pressure. Maybe it's relationships. Maybe it's finance. And you just, you don't have to keep living there. The children of Israel lived there years and years and years and years, and some of y'all live in that years and years and years. And now you're finally ready to change.

James Greer: [00:25:41] Why not do it today? What good works are you doing in the church? Are you tithing? Are you giving? Are you serving in some area? It's a pain to serve. It is. I can promise you, the gain is worth it. So if you would, stand and let me pray for you. God, I just thank you for your Word. God, I thank you that we shouldn't have to face fear like we did before, that that fear would drive us to your faith. God, with you, there's no problem too big, nothing too hard. For those that are facing pains and problems, God, let them drive it to your purpose. Let us call out to you. Don't live that way. Don't live in worry and stress and pressure. God doesn't want you to do that. It's a test. Pass the test. Come today and give it to God. Pray with somebody. Leave it at the altar. Maybe you're ready to join the church and today is the day to do that. Maybe today is the day you want to join a small group and you just want to write on the back of your next step car. Just say, hey, I'm ready to join a small group, somebody will call you. Maybe you want to follow through in baptism. But most of all, don't anybody go home that's fearful and the same problems that they came with. Bring them to the altar and leave them there today. All in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Bruce Goulart: [00:27:28] [inaudible] it was this morning. Y'all, it has been a great series so far of Unleashing Hope, and I hope that y'all have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed it. If you need someone to pray with right now or you want to take your next step, y'all, there are some keywords that are coming up on your screen right now that if you text to the number 413-6422, that is 413-6422 and you text any of those keywords to that number, someone will be able to get with you and you'll be able to make your next step right away. Y'all, I just want to again say thank y'all so much for joining us this morning, and I hope to see y'all next week. We have our communion services at all three services next week. Thank you.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360