How To Handle Hard Times

In our day, you do not have to look far to find books on hard times and how to handle difficulties. For the most part, you can learn from them. However, I am glad that we have a Bible full of practical examples of how we can deal with these issues of life. This sermon outline takes a look at the man named Stephen. Every time I read about him I get stirred! I hope this outline helps you as well!

Title: “How To Handle Hard Times!”

Text: Acts 6:8-15Acts 6:8-15
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. customs: or, rites 15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.  

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; Acts 7:54-60Acts 7:54-60
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  

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(Acts 6:8-15Acts 6:8-15
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. customs: or, rites 15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.  

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) “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.”  (KJV)
(Acts 7:54-60Acts 7:54-60
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.  

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) “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”  (KJV)

Introduction:

•    Between our text verses lay the sermon that Stephen, the deacon preached to his inquirers!
•    We find a few firsts in these two chapters! A “First Deacon”, and a “First Martyr”.
•    We find that Stephen is faced with great opposition and he did not adopt situation ethics to escape it!
•    He eventually died for his faith.
•    We may not have this kind of opposition now, but one day we will!
•    We must understand that any small persecution, now, can quickly lead to great personal harm.
•    We do not know when we may run up on hard times so we need to begin to practice some “Stephen Principles” in order to deal with them.

Proposition: There are five principles that we need to look at so we can see how we can handle hard times!

I.    We Need To Be Full!

(Acts 7:55Acts 7:55
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,  

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) “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,”  (KJV)

A.    Full of what?

a.    Holy Ghost (Acts 7:55Acts 7:55
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,  

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)
b.    Which produced faith, power,(Acts 6:8Acts 6:8
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.  

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) and wisdom (Acts 6:10Acts 6:10
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.  

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)!

B.    Instead of being full of self, we need to be full of Bible, Prayer, and Fellowship with God!

(Ephesians 5:18Ephesians 5:18
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  

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) “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”  (KJV)

II.    We Need To Be Watching!

(Acts 7:55Acts 7:55
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,  

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) “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,”  (KJV)

A.    Stephen was not looking in the wrong place during his hard times!

(Psalms 123:1-4Psalms 123:1-4
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

123 A Song of degrees. 1 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us. 3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.  

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) <> “Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.”  (KJV)

B.    He was watching for reinforcements! This is what faith will do for you!

(Psalms 121:1-2Psalms 121:1-2
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

121 A Song of degrees. 1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. I will...: or, Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? whence should my help come? 2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.  

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) <> “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”  (KJV)

III.    We Need To Focus!

Acts 7:55Acts 7:55
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,  

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) “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,”  (KJV)

A.    Many times we are looking a certain direction, but there is no focus! We become like those that would not watch and be sober minded!

(Mark 14:38Mark 14:38
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.  

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) “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”
(1Corinthians 16:13) ¶ “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”
(Colossians 4:2Colossians 4:2
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;  

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) ¶ “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”
(1Thessalonians 5:6) ¶ “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
(2Timothy 4:5) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
(1Peter 4:7) ¶ “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

B.    We should fix our eyes upon Jesus!

(Hebrews 12:2Hebrews 12:2
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. author: or, beginner  

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) “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (KJV)

IV.    We Need To Tell!

Acts 7:1-53Acts 7:1-53
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2 And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. 4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. 9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. 14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. 17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. 20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: exceeding fair: or, fair to God 21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. For: or, Now 26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. 30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. like...: or, as myself 38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. 44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. speaking: or, who spake 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; that...: or, having received 46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things? 51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.  

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A.    In the face of opposition we need to continue to tell others for there is no argument against this kind of testimony!

B.    He preached this sermon and preached it well!

C.    This sermon did not go unrewarded!

V.    We Need To Influence On Purpose!

(Acts 7:58Acts 7:58
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.  

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) “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.”  (KJV)

A.    Often we do not realize who is watching us, so we do not think about it unless it will possibly cause us adverse circumstances. This is very selfish!

B.    We must embrace the opposition and realize that there may be a Saul around us!

Conclusion:

•    God may want us to be a martyr. We do not go around looking for it, but we should be willing to accept it!
•    God will use His people if we let Him!

To The Sinner:

•    Be saved!

_______________
660762: The Pursuit of God - A 31 Day Experience The Pursuit of God – A 31 Day Experience

By A.W. Tozer / Wingspread Publishers

During a train trip from Chicago in the late 1940s, A.W. Tozer began to work on The Pursuit of God. He wrote all night long, the words coming to him as fast as he could put them down. By the next morning, when the train pulled into McAllen, Texas, the rough draft was done.
Although written in such a remarkably short period of time, the depth, clarity and completeness of Tozer’s message has made The Pursuit of God an enduring favorite—about 1.7 million copies in print in 15 languages.
Prepare yourself for a deeply meaningful and enjoyable experience. The complete text of the classic is divided into 31 daily meditations and other quotations enhance this work.

Originally posted 2010-11-14 00:01:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

About Andrew Schank

Andrew Schank is an Independent Baptist Missionary/Pastor who loves to blog about spiritual matters! His main ministry website is http://www.togetherinthegap.com. Andrew is also a contributing author to two other blogs/websites including http://linked2leadership.com and http://www.ifbkjv.com. Pastor Schank's Church website is http://www.greatcommissionbaptist.org
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