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Facing Fire

Eric Walsh
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We all know that a time of trouble is coming. What we may not know is that in some ways it has already begun. This testimony will inspire, inform, and speak to how professionals respond when they face fire for their faith.

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Eric Walsh

Pastor and Physician

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Conference

Recorded

  • August 9, 2014
    8:00 PM
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Eric Walsh; Facing Fire

 

Happy Sabbath. It is a privilege and an honor to be here tonight and to share, for a few minutes, God's Word with you as we wrap up what was a very productive, and spiritual, and powerful conference. I want to ask, if you have your Bibles, if you would turn with me in your Bible to Jeremiah chapter twenty? And I want to ask you to read with me verses seven and eight. And I'll read and you're hearing.

 

“O Lord, thou hast deceived me. and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocks. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily.”

 

The message this Sabbath evening is entitled Fire to Refine. Let us pray.

 

Father God, we thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to study Your word, and Lord, to close out Your holy Sabbath day in worship. I ask now that You, Lord, make me a clean vessel, an empty vessel, Lord. And fill this vessel, Lord, with Your word, with Your truth, and with Your love. Father God, let no one pay attention to the vessel. Instead, tonight let us hear a word from the throneroom of grace. This is our prayer. In Jesus' precious and holy name, amen.

 

Go back to Jeremiah chapter nineteen. We're going to look at Jeremiah 's life, a piece of his life and some of his story. And we're going to look at some of those verses and how they are applicable to our lives today (in my life, in particular, with some of the things I've recently been through).

 

Jeremiah chapter nineteen, starting in verse fourteen, the Bible says, “Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the Lord had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord 's house, and said to all the people, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.”

 

Jeremiah goes in and he stands in the outside of the temple. He stands in a prominent place. And he had just come back from Tophet, where he had pronounced very serious penalties against the people there. Because of their sin, he takes that same prophecy, he brings it to the temple, brings it to Jerusalem and he begins to prophesy again boldly. Jeremiah is prophesying. And he is speaking what God has him to speak, warning the people of Jerusalem, warning the nation of Judah. But time is running out, and if they're not careful, God is going to allow great destruction to come upon them.

 

And they have an out. They can always, of course, repent. They could come back to God. And he gives even other options that are interesting. Jeremiah also said that it might be better to just go along with the Babylonians than to fight the Babylonians on this. But Jeremiah gets in trouble because there are false prophets also working. And they are saying the opposite. They are saying that God will not allow the Babylonians to harm the nation of Judah. Israel, of course, by now have already been taken and their argument is that as long as they do what they have been doing, God is going to protect them.

 

Turn to chapter twenty. Verse one enters in an interesting character, named “Pashur, the son of Immer the priest, who was also the chief governor in the house of the Lord. He had heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.” He was upset because he's one of these false prophets prophesying against what Jeremiah has been saying.

 

Then Pashur smote Jeremiah. The Bible says that he beats Jeremiah and put him in stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord. Jeremiah 's reward for preaching the gospel is that he is beaten, and then he is placed in the stocks. In the stocks, his arms and his feet are put in. His head is put in. He's in a very uncomfortable position and he's left there overnight to suffer.

 

The next day, in verse three of chapter twenty, the Bible says, “And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called your name Pashur, but Magor-missabib.” Which means terror on every side. In fact, the next verse (verse 4), says, “For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself, and to all your friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it:” And you, Pashur, and all that dwelleth in thine house shall go into captivity and you shall come to Babylon and there, you will die. And you'll be buried there, you and all your friends.

 

Which friends does the Bible say? The friends to whom you prophesied lies. Jeremiah is a bold preacher after being punished, beaten, put in the stocks. As soon as he is released from his punishment, Jeremiah gets right back on the word and actually condemns the man who punished him. He is bold. He's fearless.

 

And if you stop the chapter there and move on in the story of Jeremiah, you will miss really the crux of what's happening because all of this is important as it is historically. And what's going to happen to Judah is secondary, in my opinion (especially as what I've just been through), to what actually happens to Jeremiah and his spiritual life. And the Bible begins to reveal to you what happens when you're persecuted, what happens when you are the one speaking an unpopular truth.

 

If you go down, the King James Version and many of the versions actually switch from prose to a poetry form here, where Jeremiah begins to pray. He begins to speak to God face-to-face, almost as it were in terms of how open he is and how he allows himself to be transparent with God. And in verse seven of chapter twenty, Jeremiah says, “O Lord you have deceived me and I was deceived.”

 

Now, why does Jeremiah say this? There's a lot of reasons that people give for that. If you just go all the way back to the beginning of the book of Jeremiah, you find that he has promised, early on in the book of Jeremiah, that he should gird up his loins and that he, in verse eighteen of chapter one, the Bible says, “Behold, I have made you this day a defenced city, Jeremiah. You're an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.” He says, “And they shall fight against you; but they will not prevail against you; for I am with you, saith the Lord, to deliver you.”

 

Now, Jeremiah, then, goes to God and says, “I feel as if I was tricked. I was promised that I would be protected. I was promised that I would be a defenced city. I was going to be like an iron pillar. All of these great promises when I began my ministry, all of this was promised me. But look what's happening. I'm mocked all day long. I'm isolated. I've been beaten. I've been put in the stocks. God is seeing to this. I have been duped.” Jeremiah says.

 

There is often a misunderstanding, we as Christians have, about what it means to serve God and to sometimes have to suffer. And I can tell you that I've just gone through that. Many of you have heard or seen on the internet some of my story. And I was there, in Pasedena, working in the public health department in a local government role, a job I really enjoyed. I really loved the job, loved what I was doing. I loved that I was trained in our institution, Loma Linda, with a Masters in Public Health and a doctorate in public health. I was able to take those skills and the skills I learned in medical school and apply them to populations, and try and improve people's health. In fact, the week before all the negative stories broke, there was a very positive story. We had opened up a dental clinic for HIV-positive individuals and we were able to fund this clinic and allow those individuals to get care. I took great pride in the idea that those individuals, often very poor and alienated in our society, would be allowed the opportunity to get first-class, first-rate, dental care and services to go along with the medical care, and mental health care, and all of the other things that we did.

 

A week later, the story broke. Lots of negativity came against me. Most of it for Protestant Christian stands and values. It happened because I was asked to speak for a commencement for the Pasadena City College and I didn't know that there were any back stories. So, I accepted the invitation to speak at the commencement and didn't think much of it, but found out later on that there was a back story.

 

There was another person who was asked to speak and that person later had their invitation rescinded and taken back from them. And that person was quite upset because of some things that were found on the internet that weren't flattering for that individual. And so, the president said, “Hey, don't invite him.” And he looked around for who he could invite last-minute. I saw the list. I saw some pretty popular celebrity names on the list and I guess everybody else said “no”. And so, finally they called me. And, you know, just wanting to serve in the community and encourage students, I said “yes” to that.

 

What I didn't know was that basically sparked a witch hunt. There were students who decided that it wasn't fair what was done to their original speaker. And so, they were going to come after, I think, whoever was chosen to speak. And that was me. When I went online to find things to damage my reputation or to cause the school to maybe not choose me, what they found wasn't any scandal. There was no embezzlement. There was nothing like that. It was just a lot of sermons. And based on with how the whole thing played out, they had to have listened to a lot of hours of the sermons because they just took little snippets.

 

And of course, by taking them out of context and framing a new context, they really were able to frame me as a very terrible person. I was called, in the paper, as a bigot. I was called a homophobe. I was called all kinds of names that simply weren't true. And what was shocking, as we'll talk about, is that many of the simple fundamental Christian things that Christians of all denominations believe, I became fodder to burn and to fire against me.

 

And I was caught up in a media windstorm. I wasn't prepared for it. I never thought I'd be caught in it. I never prepared for it. I had no PR person. I didn't have a fixer, like some of these people on TV talk about. I didn't have any of that stuff. And I was beat up so bad. The first couple of days I was where Jeremiah is in this text: “Lord, what did I do to deserve this?”

 

At this point it began to become clear that my livelihood would be taken. It began to be clear, after a few more days, that not only would I lose my job (probably have to walk away from this job that I love), but I would probably, at some point, lose even the ability to stay in this field that I was in. That my name was being so maligned that it would be difficult for me to get a job anywhere after this. And I began to ask God, “Why?”

 

I felt like I was tricked. I was deceived. I thought if I did what I was suppose to do, and was a good Adventist and preach the Gospel and the Three Angels' messages, and all of these things that I've heard since I was a child, that I would be protected, and that I was a fensed city, as Jeremiah puts it. But, instead, the storm never stopped.

 

It wasn't long before I was looking at the challenge of leaving my job and the other thing that happened was, of course, I was offered a job. I had a third interview. I thought it was this divine providence. I guess it still is divine providence. All things work together for good. And on that Monday after the firestorm hit that Tuesday and Wednesday, I flew to Atlanta and interviewed for a job with the state of Georgia. And two or three days later, I was offered that job. And I thought, “Look. God has worked it out. I'll be able to transition from this job where I'm getting beat up in the press. I'll move down south where it's maybe safer for me. And I'll move down south. And I'll take that job.”

 

And in the newspaper, one of the activists there, in Southern California, made the statement in the newspaper that they were going to follow me anywhere I went. And they would go after any job I would get. And they would make sure that job was taken from me. And it wasn't long before the job in the South rescinded the offer as well and I was found to be without a primary job source. But I was devastated, at that point, because I thought again, “God is going to work this thing out. And He's going to move quickly.” Because, you see, I went into medicine. I was in the second grade when I decided to be a doctor and I just understood it.

 

One of the good advantages, one of the nice things about medicine is you always know what you're going to do. Employment is never really an issue. If you can get into medical school, you'll get into a residency. If you can get into a residency, there are plenty of places that will hire you to work. And so, I didn't ever have to worry about a job.

 

And for the first time in many, many years, I was looking at: what am I going to do now? “Lord, I feel as if you tricked me.” But here I am now with uncertainty as my plight, a family to support, reputation in ruins, and feeling more all alone than I had ever felt in my entire life. And I began to read the Scripture.

 

And let me tell you, when you're persecuted, and we all better begin to get ready because a time of persecution is coming for all of us. The microcosm of what I just went through will one day be the macrocosm for all those Bible believing Christians in the world. But persecution does some things to you. You begin to feel alienated and isolated. And then the Bible comes alive. Psalms thirty-five, Psalms chapter eight, Psalms twenty-three. The Bible begins to come alive. The Psalms, the Spirit of Prophecy tells us, is the book that we're supposed to read as we go through persecution. And I was deep into the Psalms, but God led me to some other place and one of them was here, to Jeremiah.

 

And as I'm laying on my face, praying and asking God for mercy, praying and asking Him for deliverance, this is where Jeremiah says, “Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived. You are stronger than I, and have prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocks me.” Jeremiah said. And I began to understand what it means to be persecuted because when you're persecuted you will be mocked. We will be made to look as if we are completely crazy to believe what we believe.

 

The Los Angeles Times had an op-ed type piece that was run on that Tuesday night or that Wednesday when it all began. And the writer wrote and beat me up about two things. One of them was that I was a creationist. And what they said is that if this person is a creationist, by default they are unfit to hold any scientific office of government in the United States of America. And they quoted from my sermon where I said in one of my sermons, “Listen, show me all of the evolving species of the world that are in between stages. I'd like to see that evolutionary evidence of all of these missing links because I don't see them.” And I said that in one of my sermons. It's quoted. And they bring in a specialist in evolution. And the specialist in The LA Times says, “A theory of evolution is like the theory of gravity. You can choose to believe in either one.”

 

Now, I have an M.D. degree and a doctorate in Public Health. I've done a little bit of science in my life. And the challenge of that is that gravity is not a theory. Gravity is a law. And it's a law because if I take this iPad and throw it up in the air, it falls back to the ground at 9.8 meters per second squared. It does that here. It does it in Australia. It does it in the Caribbean. It is a reproducible proof that gravity exists. That's why I don't bungee jump, sky jump, none of that, sky dive, none of that stuff. Because gravity works everywhere.

 

What I want you to get, as Christians, as God 's remnant people in the last days, is that although the science on their side didn't add up in that article, the comments underneath crucified me for believing that God created the world in six literal days. I want you to get this. I'm beat up over it.

 

Now, I've been a doctor a long time, I had run the department for three and a half years, and I've run it flawlessly. In fact, one of the things you will not find in any of these articles is anything that says that at any time I didn't do a less than an A+++ job. And there were never any complaints of bigotry or favoritism against me ever. But because I believe God created the world, I am unfit for my job.

 

I remember when Sarah Palin was being considered for vice president. And on one of the television shows, they were beating her up. And one of the things that one of them said was that she can't be vice president of the United States. She's a creationist. We don't want a creationist as the vice president of the United States.

 

Let me tell you why this is dangerous and why we, as a church have to be wise on this. Because, you see, if God isn't telling us the the truth in Genesis chapter one and Genesis chapter two, if we can't believe God in the beginning of the Bible, at it's foundation, if God is lying to us in Genesis one and verse two, how do we believe God in John chapter three and verse sixteen and verse seventeen? That panel that we just had on righteousness by faith, how do we believe Paul, in the book of Romans, if we can't believe God in Genesis one and two? The whole Bible begins to come apart if we can't believe that God is the creator of this universe.

 

But something else, as Americans, we ought to be a little worried. Because, you see, I believe that there is a divine influence on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. I love this great nation. I was born in the constitution state of Connecticut. And I love the documents that undergird and support our nation.

 

And in those documents it is written and it says that: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal.” Here's the challenge. If you replace the word “created” with the word “evolved”, it reads like this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men evolved equally.” And I would submit to you that stops making sense right away. And if that's the case, you could do away with all social welfare programs. You could do away with any or all public schools. You could do away with anything that tries to give anyone of a lesser advantage a leg up. Because if evolution is the law, why invest in anyone who can't keep up if at the end of the day what you want is for the most fit to survive.

 

But I was mocked. I was mocked because I have a line in one of my sermons where I said, “Disney teaches that when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. For when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” I simply said in the sermon, “I don't want my children to wish upon a star. I want my children to pray to the living God.” And I was mocked for that.

 

And I understand what Jeremiah is going through because it says, if once you begin to be mocked, and once this big light starts to shine on you, all of a sudden it's as if many people begin to fade away. Many of my friends, many of those who are working in the city, began to disappear. You begin to feel lonely. Jeremiah twenty and verse eight says, “For since I spoke, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me and a derision daily.”

 

And all of a sudden you start thinking, “what did I do wrong?” when you're persecuted. You start to think, “Where did I mess up? How could I have done this so wrong? What did I do, God, that you separated yourself from me?” But I appreciate all of you who came to me and tell me you were praying for me and those of you who were e-mailing me or sending me Bible verses to look at. And one of the Bible verses that was sent to me is found in the book of John, the Gospel according to John, John 15:18,19. The Bible says, (and it was very encouraging to me), “If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.” Verse 19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

 

And I remember thinking, “God, you chose the wrong person. I didn't sign up for this. I'm no super courageous person. You know, if I'm Clark Kent, there is no Superman; just a regular guy just trying to do his job. I believe what our church teaches. I believe our doctrines. So, if I stand to preach, I'll preach what we believe. I didn't sign up for it. And I didn't know I would lose the career. And I didn't know all of these different things would happen. And I didn't understand even the full weight of what all of it meant: how it would affect the family, how it would affect my children.” And I said this when I spoke about this at Advent Hope.

 

And my daughter was very much affected by this. And I had just been praying a week or two earlier, crying, asking God to make sure that I don't mess up and lose my children. Praying and agonizing with God because the world is such a terrible place. It's such a hard place to raise children now, especially living in a city like LA. Right downtown, in the heart of it all, I'm praying and asking God for help.

 

I went to pick my daughter up from Academy while I was on a leave of absence, during the paid leave, during this time where all of this was being worked out. My daughter, when I picked her up, she slapped me on the shoulder. She said, “Daddy, I want to thank you.” I said, “Jasmine, what are you thanking me for?” She said, “You know, Daddy, I'm not sure I was a Christian before all of this came upon us.” All alone, my son and daughter, all by themselves, would begin to fall on their knees and pray.

 

You see, persecution has its downside. Don't miss this. Persecution has a downside. It hurts. It's ugly. It's painful. It can be lonely and frightening. But I can tell you that if you allow God to place you in the crucible and in the fire, by default you will be refined. I want to read Ellen White. Ellen White says it like this. It says, “To live such a life, to exert such an influence, costs at every step effort, self-sacrifice, and discipline. It is because they do not understand this that many are so easily discouraged in the Christian life. Many who sincerely consecrated their lives to God's service are surprised and disappointed to find themselves as never before confronted by obstacles and beset by trials and perplexities. They pray for Christlikeness of character, for a fitness for the Lord's work, and they are placed in circumstances that seem to call forth all the evil of their nature. Faults are revealed of which they did not even suspect the existence. Like Israel of old, they question, 'If God is leading us, why do all these things come upon us?'”

 

Now, let me make transparent myself now for a second. You see, I had this meteoric rise in my career. Things were going so well in the city that they called me rockstar. You know, they said, “Man, you walk on water. You can do no wrong.” My department went from almost doubling the number of employees, and the budget doubled and all the programs and services we were doing. There were those who came to me wanting me to be considered for the Surgeon General of the United States. And they wanted me to begin a job in accounting in a higher position. And I can tell you that it began to be a distraction.

 

I'm just going to be honest with you. This being ASI, and this being evidenced, an idea of lifting up Christ in the workplace. Your career could become the idol. Our desire to do more and be bigger and do better is innocent in many ways, but if we're not careful, we can get caught up in how much our business makes and how many clients we serve. And we could get caught up in titles and in degrees and all of these different things. And if you're not careful, it can just distract you just a small bit. But that little tiny bit of distraction, if you follow the path all the way out, if you're supposed to be going this way, and the distraction is just a little bit off, you go far enough out and you'll become a great distance from God.

 

And I can tell you that God had begun to work on me. And these verses, these words here, from the Spirit of Prophecy, began to really resonate with me. She goes on. She says, “It is because God is leading them that these things come upon them. Trials and obstacles are the Lord 's chosen methods of discipline and is appointed conditions of success. He who reads the hearts of men knows their characters better than they themselves know them. He sees that some have powers and susceptibilities which, rightly directed, might be used in the advancement of His work. In His providence, He brings these persons into different positions and varied circumstances that they may discover in their character the defects which have been concealed from their own knowledge.”

 

And let me tell you something, Church. The only thing we get to take with us to heaven is our character. So, God will sometimes allow fire to come upon us because He wants to purify that character. “He gives them opportunity,” she goes on, “to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service. Often He permits the fires of affliction to assail them that they may be purified.” I like this. She says, “The fact that we are called to endure trial,” because some of us in this room are going to continue to go into trial. “The fact we are called upon to endore trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop. If He saw in us nothing whereby He might glorify His name, He would not spend time in refining us.”

 

Watch this. She says, “He does not cast worthless stones into His furnace.” He does not cast worthless stones into His furnace. And this is why the Bible is clear. It tells us that we should count it all joy. It's not easy. But the truth is, that it is a privilege for God to try us. It's not pleasant. But the truth is, as we move towards these last days, and I'm sure all through this conference you've heard more and more references to the to the signs of the times of the things that are coming upon this world, that we are moving rapidly towards the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

And I submit to you that we ought to rejoice when we're tried. Why? Because there are those that are watching us on our jobs, customers of your business that are watching you. And how you respond to trial will be a great statement about the God that you serve. And you never know that in your trial someone might be won to Jesus Christ who you couldn't convince with a doctrinal debate; but when they see that in the darkest hour, you never speak an ill word.

 

There were people who came to me. In fact, there were were two sides of people. One would say, “Look, fight it. Have a press conference, and fight tooth-and-nail, and go after them.” And you know what came to me every time? That's why the Word of God is so important. Every time someone said it and I considered it, a verse in Scripture came to me. Out of the book of Isaiah, “Like a lamb led to the slaughter is dumb, so said he not a word.” God was telling me, “You be quiet. Let me fight your battles for you.”

 

And then, there were others who came, and sent me e-mail, and messages, and was saying, “Listen, we want to hold a forum. We want to give you an opportunity.” And what they were really trying to get around to is, “We're going to give you an opportunity to recant. We'll give you an opportunity to apologize.” But I didn't do anything wrong. “You can get your job back if we work out this thing in the right way.”

 

But let me submit to you that if you will not be able to buy and sell unless you have the mark of the beast, you're going to have to begin to practice not being dependent on whatever sources of support you get in this world. That's a difficult thing. But it means that you have to step out in complete faith, in being persecuted, in being tried. And you've got to remember that David says, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” And you've got to understand that God does not own a thousand cattle on a hill. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and that He has more than you could ever imagine.

 

In fact, when I got the call, that was the one time I wept in this whole process. It was when I got the job taken from me in Georgia. Because at that point, I just said, “Lord, this is beginning to be too much. This is overwhelming.” And I listened to the voicemail where I knew that that was going to happen. And I kept listening to my voiecemal. And I was getting off of the plane. And when I got down to the third or fourth voicemail below that, it was from a clinic that I had been moonlighting at. And the medical director said, “Listen, we know what they're saying about you, but we know you. We love you. In fact, one of the doctors is going out on paternity leave and listen, we could use you. So, if they don't want you, come on over and help us out in the clinic.”

 

And although I was weeping because I thought, “Lord, You've left me forsaken.” God was like, “Man, be quiet. I got you. Just keep listening to the voicemail. You stopped too soon to panic.” And sure enough, God worked it out. Jeremiah 20:9, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak anymore in his name.”

 

When you get to be persecuted, one of the things the devil does is he pushes you up in a corner. And you get to the point where you start saying, “Listen, I'm not going to be a witness anymore. I'm gonna shut up. I'm going to put out that candle. I'm going to stick it underneath a bushel. I'm not going to let anybody see my light anymore because showing my light got me into this mess in the first place.” Jeremiah said, “Listen, I'm not going to mention him anymore.”

 

And that thought has come to my mind many times. Even getting the invitation to speak, you start saying, “Maybe this is too much. Maybe I ought to leave all this stuff alone. You've got all these other great preachers. Let them preach the Word.” It said, “I will not make mention of him, nor speak his name.” But look at verse nine. Look in the middle of that verse. It says, “But His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” Jeremiah says that it felt like fire shut up in my bones and it wouldn't leave me alone.

 

When this gospel gets in you right, when it gets in you good, you can't help but tell somebody how much and how good Jesus is. You can't help but introduce them to the Savior of the world. You can't help but introduce them to the Redeemer of the planet. You can't help but introduce them to their Creator and the One who will one day recreate this world. It gets to be like fire shut up in your bones. You want to tell the world about this Jesus, about His love, about the fact that whatever I suffer, it pales in comparison to what my Jesus suffered. My Jesus left His throne and glory, where angels, ten thousand times ten thousand angels worshiped Him. And He was born in a manger, a filthy manger, and died an ignoble death so that each one of us would have a chance at eternal life.

 

I don't know how you could be quiet about that. I don't know how you could shut up when you got a Jesus like that that you serve. I don't know how the world could corner you so much that you're not willing to stand on top of whatever you need to stand on and tell them that Jesus is real, and that He pays, and that His blood still washes, His blood still cleanses.

 

I like the way Jeremiah ends this. You can look at verse 10. “For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him." Jeremiah says, “But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten." He says, in verse 12, “But, O Lord of hosts, that tries the righteous and sees the reins in the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause."

 

Let me tell you something. When you're going through trials, and that may not be in the magnitude of what I went through, open your cause to the living God. Don't be afraid to take your trial to God. You know what the devil wants to do when we go through these things? He wants us to take our trial and our persecution and run away from God. That's what he wants to have happen. I challenge you the next time you're discouraged, that you have doubt, that you're downtrodden. I challenge you to pick up your doubts and run to Jesus with it. Because verse thirteen is how you get through persecution. Verse thirteen is the key. You see, you sing unto the Lord. You praise the Lord. “For He hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.”

 

You do two things that will deliver you from persecution. The first thing is: you praise God in the middle of the storm. You praise Him when it seems as if the ship is going down. You open up the hymnal and you begin to sing What a Friend We Have in Jesus. You start. You open up and you start singing all of those black classic hymns. You sing Amazing Grace. You sing When We All Get to Heaven.

 

Because the second part of it is: when you start going through trial, like I just went through, you've got to have the last part of that verse down-packed. You've got to believe in His deliverance before you see it. You've got to know you serve a God who delivers. And I'll close with this.

 

I think what frightened me the most was the idea that I would have nowhere to go. The idea that I'd just be left in limbo for months, and months, and months. I was staying at one of my bestfriend's house out near Loma Linda. And he was asking me, “So, what are you going to do?” I said, “You know, I have no idea what I'm going to do. I'm going to have to wait to see what God wants me to do because I have no leads. And I'm actually literally afraid even to put an application out. Because if anybody gets wind of it, I think they'll try and do what was done before.”

 

He said, “Man, what are you going to do? You're working here, but I don't think you're going to want to stay in Pasadena too long.” I said, “I don't.” And I said, “You know, I've always wanted to be a missionary. And I always thought I would love to do some time, serve the Lord in Guam. I'd talk to someone who'd been to Guam many times. And I thought that maybe God would lead me to a place like that to serve.

 

Then he said, “Well, maybe that would be good.” My sixteen-year-old daughter says, “Guam? Guam?” I said, “You be quiet. You don't even know where Guam is.” And within thirty minutes, an e-mail came from the Guam Adventist Clinic. “Doctor Walsh, would you be interested in serving in Guam?”

 

Let me tell you something. You don't serve a God that isn't real. You don't serve a God that doesn't suffer with you. You don't serve a God who doesn't know your pain. In fact, the Scripture tells us that He collects our tears in His hand. As we suffer, He suffers. He moves with us. He walks with us. He feels with us, but God knows sometimes what's best for us and He allows us to go through what we go through because it's what we need at that time.

 

And if we can just step back and not panic and not get nervous and not lose our faith, if we can hold on to God's unchanging hand, if we can let go of this world and hold on to God, every single challenge will become a testimony. Every time we feel trapped we will experience deliverance. And every piece of doubt that we have to endure will eventually grow our faith. And most importantly, like Jeremiah, it prepares us to hold up our candles, it prepare us to tell the world about the love of Jesus. God sends you into the fire. He sends me into the fire. He will send us collectively into the fire so that we can be refined. Like the Spirit of Prophecy says, “He doesn't throw worthless stones into the fire.” Amen.

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