Finding Strength in Difficult Times

The Gospel According to Luke   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God is our source of strength in times of trouble

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Today is Palm Sunday and I know this is not the ideal place to gather on such a special Sunday
And I do not know how long this will continue on
But I am thankful we can continue to meet, even if its like this
AND we look forward to the day when we can see each other face to face!
Thank you all for you faithfulness to this ministry
This morning we are going to to talk about Finding strength in difficult times
We all go through difficult times
Some of us are in one right now
And they can be overwhelming at times
My children haven’t been to school in almost a month
Every morning I wake up and am reminded of that reality
Every morning I wake up and am reminded of that reality
But we know that difficult times are promised
And God uses them to make us more like Jesus
But God doesn’t just tell us life is hard, He gives us the road map to get through them
Jesus lived a perfect life, sinless perfection and went through more than most of us ever will
But God did not send Jesus in the midst of difficulties and expect him to make it on His own
God was right there with Him every step of the way
I want us to look at the example Jesus set, and lean how we can find strength in difficult times.
Luke 22:39

#1 Strength is developed when we make meeting with God a Priority

Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives “as He was accustomed”
It was His custom to spend time alone with God
The Mount of Olives was special to Jesus
On that first Palm Sunday this was the place Jesus came to first
This is where He would ascend from
Later on that week Jesus would teach from here about His second coming
And this is where he spent every night of the last week in His life
Luke 21:37

And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. 38 Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.

This place was where Jesus could get alone with God and fellowship with Him
The Son of God who was God in the flesh knew the vital importance of spending time with God alone
He preached during the day and spent every night alone with with God
Our Scripture says, “Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives as He was accustomed”
Because this is where he would prepare for battle
In fact he would spend all day in the temple teaching and then spend the night at this very place called the “Mount of Olives”
After the Last Supper, this is where Jesus wanted to go
Are you spending regular, consistent, meaningful time with God?
This is where he would face the great stress that laid before Him
This week marks the beginning of Holy Week
Jesus was a marching soldier to the end of his life on earth
He knew what waited for Him
Its the last week of the life of Jesus as He prepares for the cross
He knew Judas would betray Him
This would be the hardest week of His earthly ministry
From this mountain Jesus would teach about the end of this age
He knew they would crucify Him
The weight He had to bear was not humanly possible
The suffering was coming
The rejection
The shame
The guilt of the world would be placed upon his shoulders
So Jesus met with God every night in a personal way
After they had taken the Lord’s Supper, they went out to the “Mount of Olives”
Do you meet with God regularly?
BUT He went where he was accustomed to going
Mark 1:35

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed

Strength is found when we make meeting with God a priority
This brings us to the place where we are now
And I believe the best time to meet with God is first thing in the morning
In Luke 21
Luke 21:37–38 NASB95
Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.
I don’t think its legalism to get up and meet with God first
I think the very best part of our day is when we wake up
Jesus would spend his last week of his ministry teaching in the temple and at night He would go spend it on the Mount which is called Olivet.
Our minds are clear
Our hearts are clear
What is so special about this mountain that it gets mentioned again and again
And if you have kids like me they are asleep
You will hear God much better early in the morning
This mountain has a great spiritual significance to it
I am a firm believer you will grow closer to God when you meet with Him before the world wakes up
Verses 40-41

#2 Strength is delivered through deep, personal, prayer

Here is was a symbol of mourning, rejection, weeping
David was thrust from the city by his own
He was forced away from the
It was here that Jesus would go to talk to God about his upcoming ordeal
He knew that Judas would betray him this time.
He went there in between His preaching
This is also the place Jesus would ascend to heaven from
Jesus tells them to “pray that they might not fall into temptation”
We do not know exactly what the temptation was
The temptation to sleep?
The temptation to flee?
We do not know for sure
BUT I want you to notice what Jesus does: “He withdraws from them about a stones throw to pray”
This was a time when Jesus knew the importance of dependance upon God
There is something significant about your personal prayer life
When life is overwhelming
When things are not ideal
When life gets difficult, your personal prayers will bring you better results
When you go to God directly yourself, you will get better results!
And there is nothing wrong with people praying for other people
In fact Jesus set the example when he prayed for all of us in John 17
We should pray for people
One of the best things you can do for someone is pray for them
BUT we should not lay the burden of prayer upon another and neglect it ourselves
Whta would have
First and foremost we should be the ones on our knees before we ask anyone else to pray
Jesus had been praying all week
Jesus prayed regularly
Jesus asked the disciples to pray
If you have a petition for God and expect someone else to ask Him, then you may as well forget it
Your personal prayers are the vehicle with which God delivers
Two examples:
King Hezekiah
The Assyrian army was standing outside the walls of the city ready to break them down
They had already defeated Israel, and all the surrounding cities
The Scripture says, “Hezekiah tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth”
So he sent a servant to tell Isaiah to pray for him
Nothing happened
Then the Assyrians sent a letter to him of further threats
THIS TIME Hezekiah took the letter and spread it before the Lord and PRAYED
Do you know what happened?
God sent an angel of the Lord that killed 185,000 Assyrians that night
The sin of the entire world
This was not just the sin of the disciples
Or even the sin of all of Israel
Or even the sin of all the Middle East
The cross Jesus was to carry would have the sins of all the world for all times nailed upon it!
This was a time when Jesus knew the importance of dependance upon God
All the sins from Adam to the end of this age
The suffering of the cross
We see the cross as hope and it is to us, but to Jesus it was a terrible place of wrath
Jesus would experience physical death which could be considered the fear of all fears
Jesus sweat drops of blood because of this
He was a might man of God
Which is real scientific problem under extremely high stress
The separation from God
Jesus knew there would be a time when his perfect union with God would be different
So in all of this Jesus cried out to God
The wicked woman Jezabel wanted him dead
He knew it so well he even withdrew himself to go and pray
He fled to a deserted place, sat down by a tree, and prayed that God might take his life!
But God did something better, He sent an angel to Him to strengthen him
Not once, but twice
Personal Prayer to God is the most powerful form of prayer
Don’t neglect your personal prayer life!
Verse 41, “Not my will but Yours be done”

#3 God’s Enabling Power is Recieved within His Will

We don’t know what Jesus had been praying about all week
Jesus says His request is less important than the Father’s will “Not my will, but Yours be done”
Jesus had asked for prayer and then went to God personally about the great stress he was facing
But we read specifically what was in this prayer
A submission to God’s will
“Not My will, but Yours be done”
One thing we cannot ignore here is the true humanity of Jesus
The way to faithfulness in the midst of hostile rejection is a dependent spirit that communes with God
I think one thing we cannot ignore here is the true humanity of Jesus
He was stressed out!
He had so much on his plate and what we see is raw human emotions
And in a powerful moment of acceptance, Jesus says “Not My Will but Yours!”
But He was obedient to will of God
God’s enabling power is recieved in the His will
The most precious words you will ever utter to God are “Not my will but Your will”
God has a plan for you
Often that will is not easy
Often that place is hard and difficult
Sometimes it even looks hopeless, but if you want the strength to endure, it is recieved in His will
Verse 43


After Jesus submitted to the will of God, an angel appeared before Him
There is no reason to doubt this was the physical manifestation of an angel
I’m not telling you, you are going to see angels, but I believe in all my heart God will send angels to our needs
“For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone”
Elijah was strengthened by an angel
Hezekiah was rescued by an angel
And Jesus was strengthened by an angel
And I believe in all my heart God sends angels today
For those who submit to the will of God, He sends help!
My “angel”
For several years I was in a difficult place
It wasn’t a place I would have chosen, but it was God’s will for my life at that time
Every day was a challenge, and I prayed more than I ever had in my life
We had a singing on a Wednesday night at church
And I remember really being really down that night....just broken
It was a bluegrass band and they sang a song that I will never forget
It brought me strength like nothing else could have
The chorus went like this:
Just hold on a little longer, helps on the ways
A brighter day is coming, for those who believe and pray
Help won’t help tomorrow, if you give up today
Just hold on a little longer, helps on the way
For those who know my story, you know how long I had to hold one
And God gave me that song that night, because He knew I needed strength
I prayed, God sent an angel to give me strengh
If you are in a difficult time, hold on a little longer, help is on the way
If you are in a difficult time, hold on a little longer, help is on the way
Verse 44

#4 Strength is Inextricably Linked to Trust

The angel strengthened Jesus to continue despite his deep sorrows
Jesus returns and finds the disciples sleeping
The more we trust God, the more ability we will have to persevere
Jesus displayed ultimate trust when He met with God daily
He displayed trust when He Prayed to God personally
He displayed trust when He submitted to God’s will in His life
Strength and Trust cannot be separated
If we do not trust God we will do very little in this life for God
The more we trust God, the more He will use us
Jesus prayed God let this cup from Me
The agony of what lay ahead caused Jesus to sweat drops of blood
Jesus was their greatest need not the other way around
By the way we should not read this as a metaphor
It should have been them sweating drops of blood, rather than Jesus
Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to discharge blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress.[4] Severe mental anxiety activates the sympathetic nervous system to invoke the stress- Fight-or-flight response to such a degree as to cause hemorrhage of the vessels supplying the sweat glands.[5] It has been suggested that acute fear and extreme stress can cause hematidrosis.
And this points even further to love of Christ
Jesus was stressed out in a way like we couldn’t imagine
“No greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends”
And He prayed “more earnestly”
Meaning he trusted God even more
Prayer is just saying to God I cannot do this without you!
When we pray we are saying to God I need you!
I need you in this relationship
I need you in this loneliness
I need you in this career
I need you in this uncertainty
I need you in this illness
Where did Jesus get the strength to endure this difficult thing He faced?
He was
He prayed to God personally: It is provisonal (We must take our petitions to God personally)
He submitted to God’s will: It is loyal (We must strive to be fully obedient to God in everything)
Strength is inextricably linked to trust
Every time Jesus went to God, He was there
We may be in a situation right now where it seems like the Lord has completely forgotten us
There have been many times when I have wondered where God was
We want to remind Him sometimes hey, are you seeing this?!
But God is very aware
That same praying Jesus, He is very much at work right now
John 5:16–18 NASB95
For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
Jesus agin repeats His instruction again: PRAY
John 5:17 NASB95
But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
Jesus again repeats His instruction again: PRAY
Our source of strength comes by way of prayer
It comes when we learn to depend upon God
It comes when we put ourselves humbly at the feet of Jesus and cry out o Him
He may not deliver you, as He did not deliver His Son
But God gave Him the strength He needed to stay in the will of God
There is not safer place that we can be than in the will of God
How much are you trusting God today?
Are there areas where God is calling you that seem difficult or impossible?
Listen if God is calling you, then you can trust Him
If God is calling you to do something, go and do it today
Whatever it is, go on faith and watch God use you in mighty ways
And maybe you’ve never put your trust in God like that.
That all begins with a relationship with Him
It all begins with a relationship with Him
That all begins with a relationship with Him
Jesus models the perfect relationship with the Father
It was trusting
It was intimate
It was obedient
Jesus faced death, but he knew God would raise Him from the dead
Do you have that blessed assurance?
Can you say today that your relationship with God has trust, intimacy, and obedience?
Knowing Jesus intimately begins by admitting how much we need Him
He is the only cure for our sin
He is the only way to heaven
He is the only way tot he Father
If you want to know Him today, pray this from your own heart:
Dear Jesus, I need you
I have sin in my lifer and I believe you are my only hope.
Forgive me of my sin
Come into my life, and help me life for you
Make prayer a priority this week
Pray for the lost
Pray for God’s will in your life
Pray that He would show you what He is teaching you during this time.
If you didn’t fast last week, do it this week. It’ll bless your soul
I am praying for all of you
Look forward to seeing each one in the near future
Next Sunday is Easter, lets be ready to worship the Lord
I will see each of you Wednesday at 6:30!
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