A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

 

 

September 17, 2022

Triumph Over Trials

It Will Be Worth It All When We See Jesus”

 

2 Corinthians 4:1-18 (NLT)

 

In times like these, when our Christian faith has been tested and we pass the test by renewing our faith in God and rejoicing in his redemption . . . mature Christians can positively know that:  “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!" 

 

Have you ever done this exercise? 

 

Place your left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand, and answer this question:  “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”  We’ve probably all seen this scene on TV.  I’ve actually been there and had to answer that question a couple of times in my life - when I’ve been called as a witness, to testify in a court or law.

 

As a Christian, YOU have been duly “sworn in” - to tell the truth about Jesus.  It is now your task, and mine, to bear witness to the truth of what we know factually, and what we all have experienced personally.  That’s what this sermon is all about!

 

From the birth of Jesus, to his dedication in the temple; from his baptism, to his years of ministry in Galilee and beyond; from his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, to his crucifixion; from his resurrection, to his ascension; to the telling of his story; to the founding of his Church; to the proclamation of his gospel story through the centuries; to this day in which we live, Saturday, September 17, 2022 - Christianity has been on trial in the court of public opinion.

 

The task of mature Christians is the same today as it was in the first century.  Our task is to tell the truth about God’s love for a world that is lost in sin.  That is, to tell about the Good News of Jesus Christ, by which repentant sinners can be saved and spend eternity with Christ in the visible presence of God in heaven - the place our Lord promised to prepare for his family, the Church / the family of God.

 

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, the apostle found himself under scrutiny with regard to his apostleship as well as the genuineness of his profession of faith . . .  even though Christians in Gentile Corinth had not been subjected to persecution as they had been in provinces dominated by Jewish tradition.

 

Apparently, the first impression some Corinthians had had of Paul was unfavorable . . . due to his infirmities!

 

Think about it!  Suppose you were on a committee searching for a new pastor.  You want to secure the best possible person to fill that position - and you asked a pastoral candidate, “How has God been at work in your ministry?”

 

Now, suppose his response went something like this:  “At this very moment I suffer from hunger and thirst.  I have nothing but rags to wear.  I have been brutally treated in every community I have served.  I was run off from my last church, and I am currently homeless for the sake of Jesus.”  (1 Corinthians 4:11)  

 

Tell me the truth . . . wouldn’t you do a double take at that guy?

 

To complicate matters, there were impostors who had joined the Church in Corinth, just to try to sabotage Paul’s insistence on strict adherence to the doctrine of one God, one way, one Lord and one high standard of moral and ethical behavior.  They did this in order to accommodate those who advocated twisting or tweaking God’s Word to suit their own worldly morals and lifestyles.

 

So, Paul found himself between the proverbial rock and hard place - but he handled it in such a way that, when we who adhere to the teachings of God’s Word are put to the test, we would do well to model our response after Paul’s response!

 

Regardless of what others thought, Paul, considered his God-given task to be:  Speak the truth / Share the treasure / Endure the trials.  To do that would be to share in the Lord’s triumph over trials!

 

Paul made it clear to his skeptics that their dislike of him and their disdain for the truth did not cause him to lose heart . . . 

 

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NLT)

4 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.  2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods.  We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God.  We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.  3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing.  4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.  They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.  They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.  5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves.  We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.  6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

Paul DID NOT lose heart for two reasons:

 

1) His task was assigned to him by the LORD! By God’s mercy, he was saved; and by the commission God’s Son gave him, he was set apart to speak the truth - an approach that differentiated him from impostors who stooped to “shameful methods” to find favor with the crowd.  “We do not adulterate the Word - try to get folks to believe that the Bible teaches what it does not teach.”  

 

And by the way, people who refuse to believe in Christ . . . or to accept truths of the Gospel . . . or to live according to Godly standards - they have given themselves over to the evils of this world to such an extent that they no longer “hear” unadulterated “truth” as set forth in God’s Word.

 

Also, God’s invitation to them to turn from their misguided ways falls on deaf ears - and it’s not that God has shut them out or abandoned them, but that they, by their behavior, have shut themselves off from God and cut ties with basic teachings of the Christian Church!

 

2) “It is not ourselves that we proclaim, but rather Christ Jesus as Lord!”  Therefore, this is a task we must get done - because the God who said “Let there be light in the darkness” has turned on the light in us, so that we now see Jesus as a reflection of God himself!  Indeed, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself!”

So, folks, we speak truth about Jesus:  who he is, what he has done for us, and what he can and will do for you!

 

Let me now share with you what it is that we really have in our possession . . . 

 

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NLT)

7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.  11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.

 

If you don’t appreciate Paul comparing you to common clay - fragile and dispensable - try to see how Paul turned a negative into a positive by pointing out that, even though we mortal human beings are weak and frail, God chose to use us as vessels for building his Kingdom . . . 

 

So, instead of complaining, pray: “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way, Thou art the potter, I am the clay, mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”

 

Important:  God has entrusted the treasure of the Gospel, the glorious good news about Jesus Christ, to vessels such as Paul was, and we are.  We are instruments of God’s salvation!  With all our flaws, we show that the awesome power of the Gospel is from God and not from the one who shares it. 

 

After all, the Gospel is not just a message that confronts a sinner, but a power so dynamic that it turns a person’s life upside down!  Only God can do that!  So, it is essential that people see the contents and not just the container.  Don’t glorify not the messenger (us) but God who gave the message!

 

Our task - assigned by the Father and commissioned by the Son, is to:  speak the truth . . . Share the treasure . . . Endure trials . . . Do not give up . . . Keep on keeping on . . . Share the triumph!  To stay on task is to honor God!

 

As you stay on task, be aware of the occurrence of paradoxes experienced by some Christians who “keeping on keeping on” - despite having to deal with adversity . . .

To paraphrase Paul:  Sometimes enormous pressures back us into a corner, but eventually help comes - and a way out of our predicament is provided.

 

Sometimes we feel pressure from enemies who want to silence us, but God never abandons us . . . we find ourselves at the “end of our rope” but never at the end of our hope . . . we get knocked down, but never knocked out.

 

For, you see, a unique characteristic of Christians who wholeheartedly serve the Lord is not that we do not fall . . . but that, when we do fall, we get up again and keep going!

 

Paul kept going . . . despite suffering.  After describing trials that Christians go through because of their devotion to the Lord, Paul goes on to give the secret of how he was able to bear the load and endure as he did . . .

 

2 Corinthians 4:12-18 (NLT)

12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.  13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”  14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.  15 All of this is for your benefit.  And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  16 That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

 

Question:  What motivated the old apostle to speak out as he did, to tell the truth, to share that treasure of the Gospel - despite all the trials he endured?   Paul explains by quoting the psalmist:

 

Psalm 116:10

I believed and therefore I have spoken.

 

Question:  What did Paul believe that kept him going?  He believed exactly what we believe - that keeps us enduring with excitement . . . 14 He who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and bring us all to stand together before God.

 

It’s as if Paul shouts, in (v. 15), “The more the merrier!”   Which is why we should never give up the task of sharing the treasure with others . . . that is, encouraging others to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior / have their sins forgiven / and welcome another soul into heaven!

But, until then, even though our physical bodies are slowly wasting away, our spiritual selves are being renewed day by day.  Gradually we will mature to the point that we’re able to see our troubles in true perspective . . . as momentary and lightweight compared to the glory that will be in heaven!

 

It’s worth noting that in all of the Gospels, Jesus never foretold his death without foretelling his resurrection!  Christians who suffer for the sake of Jesus . . . whose hope remains steadfast, despite suffering, will triumph over trials!  For that very reason, we do not just gaze all the time on what we see right now - all the troubles around us - but we look ahead to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen.  Troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever!

 

“It will be worth it all . . . when we see Jesus!  Life’s trials will seem so small  . . . when we see Christ.  One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase.  So, bravely run the race . . . till we see Christ.”

 

AMEN!

 

 

September 10, 2022 

Triumph Over Trials

The Comfort of God”

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 (NLT)

 

In times like these, when trouble overwhelms us, even Christians can find themselves at their wits' end.  Maturing Christians will see their extremity as a real opportunity to renew their trust in the Lord as their refuge for eternity.

 

WHEN TROUBLES OVERWHELM, CHRISTIANS SHOULD TAKE REFUGE IN THE COMFORT OF GOD.

 

Perhaps you’ve heard it said, or you have said it yourself, “I’m at my wits’ end!”  In other words:  “I’m so exhausted trying to figure out how to deal with my problems and difficult situations that I don’t know which way to turn / what to do next.”

 

Years ago I was doing some graduate work, and trying to understand deeper issues in Christian theology, on a university campus in Illinois.  I had gone about as far as my little brain would take me in my research, when I overheard a conversation between a professor of theology and the chairman of the department of theology. They sounded like they knew what they were talking about!

 

Making an appointment to meet with the Department Chairman, in exasperation I said to him something like, “Can you please help me?  After studying and researching for days, I’m at the end of my rope!”   To which Dr. J. Ottis Sayes soberly replied, “That’s exactly where I find many of my answers.”   That began a mentor relationship, and friendship, that lasted many years.

 

There is a book by Michael Schmidt whose title nails it:  “Tired of Being Tired.”  Some folks who find themselves “at the end of their rope” are just really tired of one thing or another.  They would rather take a beating than to go through the process all over again . . . medical procedures, a terminal illness or whatever.  You know - when you are exhausted by bad news / suffering / pain / sorrows / uncertainties / stress / worrying about this or that . . . or what might be or might not be! 

 

Mark Twain once remarked, “I’m an old man and have known many problems in my life . . . most of which never happened!”  

 

SO . . . What’s the use of worrying?

 

There is an old spiritual song that repeats over and over the line, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.”

 

Listen to this scripture about the life and ministry of Paul  . . . and how he tells about “coming to the end of his rope.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT)

8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.  9 In fact, we expected to die.  But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 

 

The extent of the pressure that Paul was under is accentuated by his use of the word beyondbeyond our ability to bear and beyond our capacity to deal with it.  The Message translates that sentence like this:  “It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it.”

 

Paul was saying, “The burdens on us were so great, so heavy, that we gave up all hope of living!”

 

Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity!”

John Flavell

17th Century English Presbyterian Minister

 

Let me tweak that quote, to make a point that we need to grasp . . . 

 

My extreme situation (having exhausted my capacity to understand and my ability to get things done, consequently finding myself at the end of my rope) is my opportunity to totally rely on the Lord God my Maker, my Father and my Redeemer!”

 

HOWEVER, that does not excuse me from doing my part.  What it does is put the pressure and the power where they belong - in the mind and in hands of Almighty God! 

 

Paul is calling to us, across time and generations:  “Remember, with God on your side, how can you lose?!”

 

Together, with God on our side, we shall overcome!

 

Paul had personally experienced, and learned, that victory over suffering and sin and death is (will be) yours, because of 3 reasons:  Who God is to you, What God does through you, and What God does for you!  Paul was right - “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!”

 

As hard as life had been on him, Paul couldn’t sing his own praises . . . but how he sang the praises of God in whom he put his trust and in whose hands he placed his circumstances!

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4a (NLT)

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 

 

PRAISE is such an important factor in achieving victory over suffering!  Paul praised God because he IS God . . . the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . the Father of mercies . . . and the God of all comfort!

 

 

Psalm 103:13

As a father pities (has compassion on) his children, so the LORD pities (has compassion on) those who respect and revere Him.

 

God our Father responds to his children who hurt.  He feels for us.  He puts his feelings into action to provide comfort and encouragement for us.  The word comfort comes from two Latin words meaning “with strength” - while the Greek word means “to come alongside and help.”  (It is the same word used for Holy Spirit!)  In times of difficulty, God our Father is there to give us spiritual strength to go through the valleys of life.

 

The comfort of God is not a narcotic . . . not a sedative . . . not found in comfort foods . . . and it is not simply palliative care.  You know, care that is administered to a dying person to keep him or her comfortable physically and psychologically.  I have watched those who care for, and minister to, terminally ill patients - like Donna, who stayed beside her mom the last five weeks of her life.  They are indeed “servants of God.”  However, all forms of comfort like these . . . are just temporary.

 

The COMFORT of God is a permanent spiritual state of being.  Being connected to God as Father . . . being connected to Christ as Savior and Lord . . . being connected to the Holy Spirit as our constant companion and guide. 

 

The comfort of God is being consoled by the presence of God plus a great cloud of witnesses.  It is being encouraged by the forgiveness which we have received from our merciful Father who art in heaven hallowed be His Name, and the promise given to us by his Son and our Savior of an eternal home in Heaven.  We know that our Redeemer lives and that, when all has been said and done, he is coming to receive us unto himself that where he is - we will be!

 

We should praise God because of WHO he is to you and me - the God of all comfort!  And, praise God because of what he does through you . . .

 

 

2 Corinthians 1:4b -7 (NLT)

When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation!  For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you.  Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

 

We who have received comfort from God are called to be channels (not reservoirs) of God’s comfort to others.

 

Sometimes, a timely word spoken brings the comfort one needs.  To what extent have timely spoken words brought comfort to you?  Can you recall words spoken by close friends that meant a lot to you?  Words can bring comfort . . . but not always.

 

Sometimes, a timely act of kindness brings comfort to someone who is sick or bereaved.  Do you recall kindnesses by friends that meant a lot to you?  Acts of kindness can bring comfort . . . but not always.

 

What is it about being a channel of comfort that makes one’s words or acts of kindness God-like?  You know, as if the comfort actually comes from God?

 

It is God’s “presence” that matters most!  A timely word spoken or written, or a timely act of kindness, enables one suffering to focus / to reconnect with who God is and what God has done and is doing for his children!

 

Paul continues by challenging us to praise God because of what he does for us . . .

 

2 Corinthians 1:10-11 (NLT)

10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again.  We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us11 And you are helping us by praying for us.  Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

 

Deliverance . . . past, present, future . . . is assured to those who trust in God!  9 In fact, we expected to die.  But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 

 

This promise calls for our endurance!  And there is a redeeming quality about endurance! 

 

Mark 13:13

The worldly-minded will hate you because of me,

but you that endure (stand firm) will be saved.”

- Jesus -

 

Paul’s suffering for Jesus modeled for all Christians that those who remain faithful to Jesus Christ can’t expect a bed of roses in life.  But, since our lives are so intertwined, if we hang in there together and encourage one another, our hope in the fulfillment of God’s promises will be rewarded.  Our endurance will influence others to come to know Jesus . . . and to know him is to know eternal life!

 

After all:  Salvation is the greatest comfort there is!  To be saved is to rest assured!  So, how we respond to affliction - especially affliction because we seek to live for Jesus a life that is true - serves as a model for others.

 

Some folks do suffer with Christ, like did Paul, because of their Christian convictions.  What did Paul say that all Christians can do to help those who suffer in any way?  PRAY!

 

Pray that those who are suffering will be blessed with abundance of strength, due to their connection to God through Jesus.  May our prayers on their behalf be effective in helping them fight the good fight on our behalf!

 

May we respond to trials as Paul did, whose terrifying ordeals had had a tremendous effect on him.  It drove him to God in prayer as never before! 

 

In our trials and adversity, may our humility be like that of Abraham Lincoln, who confessed: 

 

I have often been driven to my knees in prayer

because I had nowhere else to go.” 

 

AMEN!

 

 

September 3, 2022

Triumph Over Trials

The Why of Suffering”

 

Romans 8:18-25 (NIV)

 

In the real-time day in which we live, suffering is so prevalent (in our lives and in the lives of those we love) that we naturally ask “WHY?”  As Christians, we look for the ultimate answer to that question . . . not to a politician; not to a physician; and not to an attorney.  We look to the One who suffered the ultimate - for righteousness’ sake.  We look to Jesus!

 

Soon after we are born into this world, and begin to take notice of all of our surroundings, we began to ask a toddler’s most challenging question:  “WHY?”  Over and over again, we ask, “Why?”

 

As a parent, and a grandparent, it sometimes feels like NO answer will suffice.  Why this or why that?  But no answer satisfies some questions.  Many times, when my patience reached its limit, I have said, “Because I said so.”

 

I’m now at a stage of life where I’m wondering less about things past and present.  I find myself more interested in things to come.

And you know what?  There’s a nagging twitch within me . . . that I still have about a few unanswered questions!  Questions like:  “Why do I feel up some days and down other days?”   “Why wasn’t I warned that growing old is not for sissies?”  “Why do some people live beyond their allotted three score and ten years, while others leave this life way too soon?”

 

There is one question that has bugged us humans forever.  Maybe you’ve asked it yourself, once, or a hundred times:  “Why does suffering exist . . . why me . . . why him . . . why her . . . why, why, why?”

 

I suppose that one could preach and teach on the subject of suffering for months - or years.  We’re just going to look into God’s Word on this matter for the next 3 weeks . . . and I know that when we finish this mini sermon series, MANY questions on the subject of suffering will still be bouncing around in our minds.  Even so, the best that we can do is deal with it by turning to the Word of God for answers!

 

None of us should be surprised to learn that suffering is a part of living in what I call a “sin-fallen world!”  We’re aware that the first humans sinned against God and suffered consequences that still effect ALL humankind.  To take away privileges, as a discipline for disobedience, is something that every parent and child understands!  That’s exactly what God did, when Adam and Eve disobeyed the one thing God told them NOT to do. 

 

The key phrase in the curse pronounced on humankind may be best presented by the King James Version of this account:

 

Genesis 3:16-17 (KJV)

16 Unto the woman God said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”  17 And unto Adam he said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it:’ cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;”

 

“In sorrow thou shalt” . . . that pretty much says all we need to know about why so much on earth goes wrong and why everybody on earth does wrong.

 

In sorrow can mean different things to different people.  Maybe a list of words more familiar to us, that express sorrow, will help us understand how  dark this truth is:  agony, anguish, hardship, heartache, heartbreak, misery, mourning, pain, regret, remorse, sadness, suffering, worry, woes, blues, depression, distress, grief, misfortune, tribulation, trials, weeping, troubles.

 

Do you think that lives scarred by one or any combination of these negative consequences was God’s original intent for his creation?  Absolutely not!

 

Humankind’s defiance of God’s divine directive was the cause of humanity’s fall, and the subsequent curse.  BUT, this was offset by God’s divine determination to restore paradise lost to paradise regained . . . by sending his only Son, Jesus, to pay fully for all the sins of humankind!

 

Pain, hardship, distress (called “sorrow” and “sweat”) in Genesis) was the inevitable punishment because of our choice to sin.  But, then God provided redemption from the eternal consequences of sin (eternal separation from him - in hell),  by eternal life in heaven, through Jesus Christ!.  Thus, we’re given hope to carry on!

 

Who in the entire Bible can we go to - for a reliable answer to the question of why do we have suffering?  Only the One who suffered for righteousness’ sake:

 

Look again at our scripture today, Romans 8:18-25:

 

Romans 8:18-25 (TLB)

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later.  19 For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children.  20-21 For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay - the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command - will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.  22 For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event.  23 And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering.  We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us - bodies that will never be sick again and will never die.  24 We are saved by trusting.  And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have - for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it.  25 But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.

 

Paul deals with two aspects here:  the suffering of Christians and glorification of Christians.

 

The suffering of Christians (physical, emotional, mental) is linked with the glory that is coming.  This does NOT mean:  the greater the suffering, the greater the glory!  Glory is never earned . . . it is part of our eternal inheritance in Jesus Christ.  Suffering, for the sake of righteousness, can be considered a privilege, as it was with Paul . . . but not as a promise of greater glory.

 

C. S. Lewis wrote about the glory to come, summing it up this way:

 

 “The door on which we have been knocking

all our lives will open at last!”

- C.S. Lewis -

 

The words of an old song, that we used to sing in church when I was a kid, sums up well that truth:

 

Oh, that will be glory for me . . . when by his grace I shall look on his face - that will be glory, be glory for me!”

 

Some people like to carefully recite their sufferings.  Did you hear about the guy who wrote a graphic and detailed report of his surgical procedure, and recovery,  and gave a copy to all of his friends?  He explained:  “I’ve had had to listen to all the reports of other people’s operations for years, and now it’s my turn!”

 

Paul has a better idea:  “Don’t even mention the details because they are not worthy to be talked about in comparison to the glory that is to follow!”

 

Please, hear me.  We all suffer  . . . whether we are believers in Christ or not.  No one is exempt!

 

We, as Christians, endure the suffering, because, as the battle hymn of the Republic says, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!” 

 

Paul talks about two proofs that confirm this hope of glory:

 

1. nature itself testifies to this truth, and,

 

2. our own experience testifies to this truth.

 

J. B. Phillips’ translation of “eager expectation” - v.19 of our text - pictures a person standing on tip-toe waiting for someone to appear or something to happen:  “The creation is standing on tiptoe, eagerly awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.”

 

Why is this so?

 

Paul wants us to see that creation itself is linked to the human race!  Creation fell with the fall of humankind!  With the fall of humankind came a bent toward fear, and hostility, and hatred, and devastation, and destruction . . . and that propensity spread to the animal kingdom where “survival of the fittest” became a way of life.  What it amounts to is “futility” (v.20) or, more accurately, “frustration!”

 

Frustration - evident in the natural world as well as human nature!  “Frustration must be dealt with and relieved of the pressure that it puts on our psychological and physical well-being . . . or there be total collapse into despair and emptiness.” 

 

Have you ever been there?

 

Thus, our eager expectation is to see the glory of the LORD manifested, when Christ comes to take us home to experience the fullness of the glory of the LORD in Heaven . . . for eternity!  Paul is saying that our frustrations ought to be overcome by our positive expectations!

 

So, we are real-time living in anticipation of the full manifestation of the glory of the LORD! The suffering we endure in the present pales in comparison!

 

And, Paul says, this hope of glory is shared by all of creation!  Apparently, all that God originally intended in nature will also come into visible manifestation when “that day” comes.

 

I read somewhere that the sounds of nature are heard in the minor key - as if all nature is singing a song of bondage.  Even so, why not choose to hear the sounds of nature as signs of hope!  Turn mournful groans into visions of glory!  See, despite all the “frustrations” that occur in nature, there is so much evidence of God’s majesty to give us hope!

 

As the song, This Is My Father’s World, declares:  “The birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise!”

 

We were saved in hope, Paul says, and by that hope we live!  The restoration of fallen creation will become a reality, as will the redemption of humanity!

 

We can wait patiently, because Paul says we have the first-fruits of the Spirit whereby we are blessed with inner joy - even in the middle of heartache!  That is, inner peace even when turmoil is all around and suffering seems to be all we hear about.  As Christians we CAN have a sense of contentment - even when many others succumb to the mass hysteria of nay-sayers and dooms dayers.

 

In Christ, we shall experience the full redemption of our bodies from all this frustration!  HOPE is not a wish!  It is an expectation of reality to be fulfilled - when Christ returns, with shouts of acclamation!

 

Until then, my heart will go on singing . . . with joy I’ll carry on . . . mine eyes will see the glory of the coming of the Lord!

 

Until then, while waiting patiently yet actively, our life should NOT be consumed by hysterical talk about doom and gloom - but by positive thoughts of our blessings:  salvation, peace, love, joy, happiness, comfort, contentment, good fortune, gladness, certainty, cheer, serenity, hope, etc.

 

OK, But, What about pain and suffering?  Like David Gruber says . . . “One call, that’s all!”  Call out to your Father in heaven.  Ask him to bear your burdens with you.  But, be sure to hear his answer - when he tells you that pain and suffering is inevitable, but joy is optional!

 

It all depends on Who AND what you focus on.

 

Medication helps alleviate physical pain, but the recommended daily dose of leaning on and rejoicing in Jesus helps to counteract our self-imposed mental suffering, which is aggravated by beating ourself up with negative assessments.  With God your heavenly Father as your witness, say to yourself:

 

 “I am somebody.  God is my loving Father; Jesus is my wonderful Savior; the Holy Spirit is my constant companion.  THAT makes me a VIP . . . a Very Important Person!  My God and me together will overcome all negative whys with his positive presence!”

 

AMEN.

 

 

August 20, 2022 

Real-Deal Christianity

“ENCOURAGING”

 

Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

 

This is the third message in our 3 part sermon series.  We’ve been looking at signs of Real-Deal Christians.  The first week, we looked at serving, and we found that we are called to serve one another.  Last week, we looked at loving, finding that we are commanded to love one another.  Today, we will look at encouraging.

 

We will look at:

 

1. The People Of Encouragement - (that’s us)

 

2. The Time Of Encouragement - (now)

 

3. The Purpose of Encouragement - (overcoming sin)Top of Form

 

Bottom of Form

Open your Bible to Hebrews 3:13:

 

Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

 

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word for encourage is exhort.  This word in the Greek comes from two words - one means to call; the other means side.  Combined, exhort / encourage means to “call to your side” or “call alongside.”  Isn’t that a great word picture of encouragement?  When someone is down, discouraged or in despair - you call them to walk by your side.  You travel with them on their journey.  You speak to them words of comfort and encouragement.  You do life together with them!

 

I heard a preacher talking about encouragement and the way that he defined encouragement was:  “to add courage to.”  A person who gives words of encouragement is to somehow help another person become bolder and braver.  On the other hand, to discourage is to take away a person’s courage.  Folks I don’t know about you - but I want to be an encourager when it comes to helping people do the right thing.  When a person is living for God, I want to be a spiritual cheerleader to them.  I want to encourage them to give their best effort.  I what to help them.  I want to give them an added boost.

 

You’d never guess it by looking at me . . . but, I’m not much of a runner.  But, whenever I watch a track meet or The Lighthouse Run, it’s always encouraging to the runners when they hear the crowds cheering!  It doesn’t matter if you’re in first place, or in last place . . . if people are there cheering you on, it always gives you an added boost!

 

All of us can use some encouragement sometimes.  All of us can use a pat on the back, now and then.  Right now I would like to show a video clip about encouragement. Maybe you’ve seen this movie.  There is clip is from the movie, Facing The Giants,  that you can watch on YouTube.  It’s called “The Death Crawl.”

 

In the move Facing The Giants, the coach challenges one of the players to give his best effort.  The young player says that he will -  but the coach pushes him to promise to give it everything he’s got.  The player promises that he will give his best effort.  To ensure that he will “give it all he’s got” the coach puts a blindfold on the player.  The task is to move down the football field on all fours (his hands and feet) while carrying another football player on his back.  The young athlete believes that in his best effort he might make it to the 50 yard line; the center of the field.

 

As the player starts moving down the field the other players are laughing and shouting.  He moves slowly but steadily along.  One step at a time.  One move at a time.  Soon, the laughing of the other teammates turns to silence - as the player continues down the field.  He believes he has moved past the 10 yard line and perhaps past the 20.  The coach keeps yelling words of encouragement:  “Don’t give up.  Keep on going.  You can do it.”  The young player starts saying that his muscles are hurting and that he is becoming exhausted.  The coach yells:  “Just ten more steps!”  When the player gives him ten steps, the coach yells:  “Just five more steps!”  They continue down the field.  “Give me just two more,” the coach yells.  The player keeps going.  Then the coach yells, “Give me one more!”  When the player does it, the coach yells, “One more, you’re almost there!”  They continue down the field.  Finally the player is exhausted.  He collapses, believing that he might have made it to the fifty yard line.  When the young athlete finally removes the blindfold he finds that he has gone from one end zone to the other end zone!  The coach had given him encouragement the entire way.

 

Folks, WE are to be encouragers!  The game that we’re playing in is called life . . . but, the fact is - LIFE is not a game at all. 

 

So, the Bible tells us to . . .

 

Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

. . . encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

 

Today, let’s look at 3 aspects of encouragement from this one verse.  We will look at:

 

1. Who are the people of encouragement?

 

2. What is the time to encourage?

 

3. Why are we to encourage?

 

Let’s start with:

 

1. The people of encouragement are US

    (I know that this is not proper English . . . but don’t miss what the Bible is telling us!)

Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

. . . encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

 

We all need encouragement.  And as Christians, God has called us to encourage one another . . . to cheer each other up . . . to pat each other on the back . . . and to push each other - so that we can reach God’s goal line for us.

 

On June 18, 1956, a freak accident happened on a lake in New York.  A speeding motorboat bounced on a wave and shot into the water 2 of its passengers - a 50-year old man and a little girl.  To keep the girl from drowning, the man held her head above water while the boat circled back to pick them up.  They rescued the girl.  But the man sank and drowned.

 

That’s how Dawson Trotman died.  You may not know the name Dawson Trotman, but, have heard of an organization called The Navigators?

 

Dawson was the founder of the Navigators - an International Christian Discipleship Ministry.

 

According to a quote in Time Magazine,Dawson lived to save others.  His death was just the way he would have planned it.”  His obituary read like this:  “Dawson Trotman, always lifting someone up.”  That is encouragement!  Our tendency, during such times, would be to save our own skin.  But, the book of Hebrews encourages us to encourage one another!

 

Did you know that during the creation of the world God said that something was NOT good?  It happened on day six of creation.  God looked around in the process of all his creating and said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)  God then created a companion for Adam!  And, it is still not good for people to be alone.  We need one another.  We all need encouragement from one another.  We need community.  We need to lift each other up in a world where it may feel like we are drowning.  We need someone to be encouraging us onward:  “Keep on going!  You can do it!  Try a little harder!  Your almost there!”

 

Who needs encouragement?  Parents need encouragement, as they are struggling to provide, protect and raise their families.  Widows need encouragement, as they struggle dealing with being alone.  People who are struggling with cancer need encouragement as they deal with the effects of this unfair disease.

 

People who struggle with life need encouragement, as they try to make it day by day.  People who get discouraged need encouragement, as they deal with depression, loneliness and sadness.  People who get overwhelmed need encouragement, as they feel so small in a big world.  People who are dealing with the day to day routines of life need encouragement, as they are in the marathon of life.  ALL OF US NEED ENCOURAGEMENT!  That is why the scripture says, “Encourage each other” . . . we need it.

 

To be Christian, according to the New Testament, is to belong to a fellowship of believers.  The practice of coming together with fellow Christians is an act of mutual encouragement. 

Coming together with other Christians and being part of Christian community encourages us in our walk with the Lord.  Like two hot burning coals in a firepit each one gives off heat and each one receives heat from the other.  Separate the two coals and they both go out very quickly.

 

Ok . . . we are the people of encouragement.  When do we need encouragement?  Look at point two:

 

2. The time of encouragement is NOW

 

Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

. . . encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

 

You might have heard the story of the farmer who was awakened in the middle of the night by some loud banging on his front door.  The man crawled out of bed and sleepily went downstairs.  When he opened the front door he found a man standing in the rain dripping wet.  The man obviously he had been drinking.  The stranger said to him; “I’m stuck can you give me a push?”  To which the farmer replied sharply, “NO!  Go and sober up and I’ll sort it out in the morning!”  The farmer slammed the door and went upstairs.

 

When he got back into bed the farmer’s wife asked him what had happened.  He explained and his wife said to him; “That wasn’t a very Christian to do.  He could be in trouble and you have just sent him out into the storm for the rest of the night!  You should go and help that man.”  Reluctantly the farmer got out of bed a second time and put on his coat and went downstairs.  He figured he wasn’t going to get any peace until he did something for the man out in the rain.  Wh

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