Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

Suffering

June 14, 2017

Most of the messages that we hear preached proclaim the good points of the Christian life.  We emphasize love, joy, peace, hope, wisdom, strength,  and overall blessings.

That is not the only part of the Christian message.

I.  Suffering:  Romans 8:16-18

 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We prefer to emphasize that we are the heirs of the kingdom, together with Christ.  It is an easier sell.

However, with Christ we also going to experience a degree of suffering.  We prefer to think of the glory to come, but the sufferings of this world are a part of the Christian experience.

There are places in the world where Christians are still being killed for their faith.  Recently, in Egypt a group of Christians were on a trip to visit a monastery.  They were attacked by people with machine guns mounted on trucked.  Many were killed, some of them children, and more were injured.  They were targeted specifically because they were Christians.

Here in America, at least for now, it is unlikely that we will suffer that kind of persecution, but that does not mean that we do not experience suffering.  Whenever you deny the flesh to live for Christ there will be opposition.

II.  Hard Pressed:  II Corinthians 4:7-10

 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I memorized these verses many years ago when I was a part of a gospel group called the Christian Life Singers.  It has spoken to my heart many times over the years.  There have definitely been times when I have felt hard-pressed and perplexed.  Life in the ministry has not been easy.  I have never actually seen the statistics, but I know that the percentage of people who serve in the ministry all the way to retirement is fairly low.

It is not just ministers.  All Christians have an enemy that seeks to destroy them.  God allows us to be tested so that we will grow in our faith.  We should always be aware that we are dependent on God.

III.  Renewed:  II Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

As I have aged I have become more aware of the perishing of the outward man.  I am not as young as I once was, and clearly this physical body is not what it used to be.

That is all right.

The inner man is renewed day by day.

As we continue our journey through this life, we are able to grow in our relationship with Christ.  Our body may be aging and breaking down, but our spirit is aging and growing stronger.

As the things of this life begin to fade in importance, we recognize even more the glory of the life to come.

The light affliction of this life is nothing compared to the glory of the life to come.

IV.  Good Soldier:  II Timothy 2:3

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Sure, we focus on the good aspects of the Christian life.  That does not mean that we deny the reality of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged.  I have often told people that my best preparation for ministry did not come from Bible college, but from my time in the Marine Corps.  As a marine we learned to never give up, to accomplish the mission.

At the end of this life I desire to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21)

God is good.  All the time.  However, there will be times of testing, trial and suffering as we go through the journey of this life.  Do not be surprised.  Stand firm in your faith.  Trust God.  He will see you through to the end.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/4/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

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The Lord is Our Portion

February 14, 2013

These are the sermon notes from 2/3/13.

I.  God Protects His People:  Ezekiel 9:1-7

Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.  And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city.

Do not be deceived, God is willing to carry out judgement upon the wicked.  Some emphasize the love of God to the point that people may think that God would never pass judgement with severe penalties.  That would be wrong.

Even in the midst of judgement against evil, God is able to look out for His people.   He does not forget us.

II.  Even in Judgement, God is Faithful: Lamentations 3

A.   Affliction vv1-3:

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.
He has led me and made me walk
In darkness and not in light.
Surely He has turned His hand against me
Time and time again throughout the day.

Jeremiah was a faithful servant of God, yet he was caught up in the judgement that fell on Jerusalem.  He was mistreated by the people to whom he proclaimed the word of the Lord.  He experienced much hardship.

B.  More Hardship vv16-18

He has also broken my teeth with gravel,
And covered me with ashes.
17 You have moved my soul far from peace;
I have forgotten prosperity.
18 And I said, “My strength and my hope
Have perished from the Lord.”

Jeremiah experienced great misery.  He did not blame the devil, or people for his suffering,  he rightly recognized that God had allowed those things to happen to him.

C  Hope vv19-21

Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

Even in the midst of his suffering he has hope.  Hope is something that is precious, and God offers to us all a hope that goes beyond our circumstances.

D.  God is Faithful vv22-25

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

God is faithful.  His mercy is new every morning.  God is good to His people.  Most importantly “the Lord is my portion”.  We have the ability to be in a relationship with God.  Our fellowship with Him is not destroyed by difficult circumstances.  God is with us always.  If we were more aware of His presence, the afflictions of this life would be much easier to bear.

III.  There is a Reason  Lamentations 3:37-38

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?

Nothing can affect us without God’s permission.  God is in control even though people are able to exercise their own wills, God is watching over everything and can intervene at any time.  God has a reason for allowing what He allows, He is not being mean, nor arbitrary, nor ineffective.  We just do not have the capacity to understand.  Remember Job “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

God is our portion.  In Him, we are content.  No matter what may happen, we may be secure in Him

A Message of Sorrow

January 17, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 1/13/13.

Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet.  He spent a lifetime proclaiming an unfavorable message to an unwilling audience.  He experienced a great deal of hardship, and very little reward on this earth for his labor.

I.  Sometimes it’s Bad:  Jeremiah 37:11-16

And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. 13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”

14 Then Jeremiah said, “False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him.

So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. 15 Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.

16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days,

Jeremiah had proclaimed a message of the coming judgement of God for years.  Now that judgement was at the door and Jeremiah had been given a message of hope.  The hope was that the exile would not be permanent, that the children of Israel would return in seventy years.  As a symbol of the restoration, Jeremiah was directed to buy a field.  He was going out to look at that field when he was arrested as a defector.

He had been faithful to God and his situation deteriorated.

Sometimes when we are serving God, things can get bad.

II.  Sometimes it Gets Worse  Jeremiah 38:2-6

 “Thus says the Lord: ‘He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’”

Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”

Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.” So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’sson, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.

I suppose that the rulers had a point in that the message Jeremiah was proclaiming would indeed encourage people to give themselves up rather than fight.  That was the message that Jeremiah had been given by God to give to the people.  His reward for his faithfulness was to be tossed into a pit.

Sometimes when we are serving God it goes from bad to worse.

III.  Deliverance Will Come  Jeremiah 39:11-14

Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, 12 “Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon’s chief officers; 14 then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.

God does not forget His servants.  Deliverance will come.  We just don’t know when.  It may not even come in this lifetime.  We need to remember that God looks at things from an eternal perspective.  The sacrifices that we make in this life for the kingdom of God will be remembered and rewarded, if not in this life, then in the life to come.

Conclusion:  Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet for good reason.  He proclaimed a message of destruction to a people who rejected that message.  When destruction came, he did not celebrate the fulfillment of the prophesy, but rather wept over the destruction of Jerusalem.  He remained in the city after its destruction until he was forcibly dragged off to Egypt by the remaining Jews who fled to Egypt.    His life had very few happy moments of celebration.

I have no doubt that he has received his reward in heaven.  We should all learn a lesson from his faithfulness.  He did not think of his own comfort or gain, he simply proclaimed the message that God had given him to proclaim.

Likewise, may we be faithful to do what God calls us to do.