Monday, September 16, 2019

God's Presence in Our Suffering

Book of Romans so far:
Bad News = all sinned and separated from God
Good News = reconciliation is available!!  - by grace, through faith, in Christ!!!

So... Rom. 5:1-2 - can have Peace - Access - Hope
and Rom. 5:3-4

Last week = 2 reasons to "rejoice in sufferings"

#1.  Suffering can be productive - Rom. 5:3 with Rom. 8:28

#2.  (today)  God is with you in the suffering.  
Rom. 5:8-10   IF He did this while you were separated from him, "how much more" now that are reconciled?!!  Do you think He would abandon you now??

Rom. 8:31-32, 35, 37-39  - He is not going to withhold His presence from you.

The study of evil and suffering often is divided into 2 parts:
#1.  the Why - why does God allow evil and suffering?  - theodicy - argument or intent to explain why He permits this.

#2.  the Wherefore - how are we to respond to evil an suffering?

Short version = we are to respond as Christ responded! - 1 Pet. 2:20-21  Example:  "suffer well" - He suffered perfectly - the way suffering should be handled.
As a Christian, we are called to suffer well.  To this you are called.  Christ left us an example.

When suffering ... knowledge, confidence, faith, surety ...  helps!!

When you suffer, you can be sure of:
#1.  God's Permission - is a *hard pill to swallow!!*
Example:  Peter's sifting    Job's trial   Christ's crucifixion
Satan couldn't do any of this without God's permission.

Either it happens with His Permission,  OR He is NOT God!!
And (then) you have NO HOPE!!  example:  naturalism, dualism

BUT - with the worst come the Best --
#2.  God's Presence - examples:  Matt. 28:20, Heb. 13:5
Isa. 43:1-3  - "... your Savior"
Isa. 43:5  "... with you."

The Good News = presence always with us.
Bad News = not always FELT!! - Examples:  Job's complaint  "dark night of the soul"
Know He's with you in you head, but no feeling of His presence.

Can also be sure of:
#3.  His Care   (provision, assistance)
Throughout scripture "go and I'll go with you"
Examples:  Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, Disciples

This is more that His Presence .. = His Assistance!!  - ability to push through
Jer. 1:6-8 - strength, courage, guidance, comfort
Preached 4 years - not a single convert recorded

Which leads to:#4.  His Ability  (re-visit Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, disciples....)
His Presence was more than to strengthen, comfort, etc.
His Presence = to Accomplish His will, purpose!!  - He worked through them!!

His plan is more than to work in/on you, it is to work through you!! - 1 Pet. 4:10

#5.  Personal Compensation
Mark 10:28-30
2 Cor. 5:10 - rewards or loss of rewards
Rom. 8:18 - present suffering not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed
2 Cor. 4:16-18 - light and momentary troubles achieving for us eternal glory

and ..
#6. Final Victory
Rev. 1:17-18, 20:14, 21:3-5 - all that is wicked and evil
This = all things made right!!
This = (1) the Christian HOPE
       = (2) your soul's anchor - Heb. 6:19 - "...firm and secure"
Knowledge of this helps to carry us through.  Doesn't relieve the pain, but carries us through.

Suffering is inevitable  (in this life)

BUT ... in God's hands and with God's Presence - suffering = Bearable, Valuable

Question:  How then will you suffer??  well?? Properly?  as a Christian should? as Christ did?
"to this you are called"

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 33:18-22

Monday, September 9, 2019

Rejoice in Sufferings

Romans .... so far:
Bad News!  All sinned are separated from God
Good News!  Reconciliation if available.
                            By grace (free to us)
                            Through faith
                            In Jesus Christ - John 14:6 - words of Christ Himself

Rom. 5:1-2 - therefore we have:
                       Peace - (with God)
                       Access - (to God)
                       Hope -  (of glory) - expectation of glory to come

So.... Rom. 5:2 - "we rejoice....."

Now ... Rom. 5:3 ... "..... in our sufferings"  ! ?

Question:  How can Paul claim this?
                 Why should we rejoice in sufferings?

Two reasons given here;

#1)  Suffering can be productive  (can achieve things in this life)

#2)  God will be with you  (in sufferings) - (we are never alone in our sufferings)

Rom. 5:3-11 - will examine these 2 reasons.

This week:  (#1)  Suffering can be productive - Rom. 5:3-5
Perseverance leads to Godly character leads to hope.

Compare:  James 1:2-4  (fall into does not mean leap into!!)  if you create your own fire, don't be surprised if you get burned.
                 1 Pet. 1:6-7  (proved = refine/shown to be pure)
                  Phil. 4:10-13  (where/how did Paul learn this?)

Observation:  Suffering has Potential / is not a given!!!
Luke 22:31-32   Satan's intent?  = destroy, discredit
                          God's intent?  improve - all the bad sifted out
                          deciding factor?  Peter's response!!  -
            Example:  Judas Iscariot - when sifted, turned out bad.
Paul writing to Christians here to whom this should always be true.

Observation:  Suffering does not Produce:  GOD PRODUCES!! - example:  the Cross
Suffering in and of itself is not bad, but what we do with it.
Gen. 50:19-20

In God's hands .. suffering has Potential to produce good:  (we weren't designed to suffer.  Suffering was part of the curse!!)
1) in me and for me!
example:  metal int he hands of master Blacksmith  Difference = metal is not actively resistant!!

2)  for others through me!
Example:  early Christian martyrs ... inspired people to believe ... therefore altered Eternity  (Shaped eternity)

Quote by Paul Billheimer - "Don't waste your sorrows" - are going to have plenty of them.  They can accomplish something.

(1)  This is not Rejoice because of your sufferings.
       It is Rejoice in the midst of suffering

(2)  Rom. 8:28 - does not mean you'll see the good (in this life) ...
                        - means He'll work for good in every situation

(3)  This knowledge/understanding won't relieve the pain  (dispel all doubts).
 It will give additional reason to:
     (a)  Endure the pain  Examples: Paul's thorn - God's answer - "my grace is sufficient" - Paul's response - "good enough for me"

     (b)  Expect God's involvement - Heb. 12:7, 11, 12

     (c)  Rejoice in the midst of sufferings
Example:  Paul says  "we know..."
Clarify ... "I Know" does not mean "I understand!!"
Rather means you've given a reason that is beyond my comprehension... AND I trust you --- to know what's good, to do what's good.

Job 13:15 (KJV) - "though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

Closing Scripture:  1 Pet. 5:8-11


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Romans: Peace, Access, Hope

Book of Romans - the message so far:
I)  All have sinned and are separated from God
Therefore, stand in (1) a state of condemnation - already
                             (2) need of Reconciliation  - already

This is BAD NEWS!!  Because (3)  the damage is irreparable!!

BUT there is Good News!  (the Gospel - Old English = godspel - good tale, good story)

II).  Reconciliation is available!!
       (A)  to all!!
       (B)  at NO COST!!  (ie no cost to you!! - tremendous cost to Christ.  Just no our work!)
it is:  (C)  By Grace .... Through faith .... IN Jesus Christ!!

So........ Rom. 3:20-24 - Review:  righteousness = ability to stand at ease in God's presence.  Vs. 23 - to all who BELIEVE!!  Example:  Abraham - Rom. 4:1-5
He believed God!!  left his homeland - went to Canaan -- believed the land would go to his heirs (though he had no heir!!) - believed in 'son of promise'  (though was OLD!!) - believed enough to offer (sacrifice) that promised son!!

Abraham believed God and "it was credited to him as righteousness"

On one hand, Abraham didn't get everything right!!!
However, he believed and obeyed which counted as faith, which credited as righteousness!

Now ... from was'm to is'm - Rom. 4:20-25  We get salvation the same way.
Is for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus from the dead.

Rom. 5:1-2 - "therefore" = because of His Work and our response ... we (now) have:   Peace .... Access .... Hope

I.  Peace with God = harmony, fellowship, friendship, reconciliation
Example:  Contrast Adam and Eve's relationship before and after sin.  Sin has separated sinful people from fellowship with God.

Note:  Peace greater than feeling = actual, factual state of being.

You may say "God and me are on good terms!'
BUT .. is that what God says???

Options:  Therefore = (1)  trust your notions/feelings,
or                               (2)  trust the person and words of Christ!!

II.  Access to God
On one hand, God = omniscient and omnipresent (aware and available)
However, this access = for those in "Right Standing"

Illustration:  the temple layout
Center = Holy of Holies (High Priest has access once a year) , in front of that = the Holy place (only the priests can minister here),  then court of Israel, then court of Jewish women, then court of gentiles.

On one hand, all are free to approach and pray.
However, only the High Priest could enter into God's symbolic Presence!  - UNTIL ... Matt. 27:50-51

This access is:  (A)  initial (salvation, reconciliation) - when initially crossed the bridge
                       (B)  continual - Heb. 4:14-16 - the irony is that when we need His mercy and grace the most, we avoid Him.

Because of His work and our Response ... we no have ...
          I)  Peace with God
         II) Access to God
        III)  Hope for the future.

III.  Hope for the future   (hope for the glory of God!)
"Hope" = (confident) Expectation  (joyous) Anticipation - based on fact!
Is more than dream, wish, desire, longing, which is the current use of the word.  ie:  I 'hope' it rains.  I 'hope' I pass my test.

"Glory" = all the glorious things He has promised in this life AND (especially) in the NEXT!!

So.... Titus 1:1-2,  1 Pet. 1:20-21,  Col. 1:26-27

Because of ... what HE has done  (the cross), (plus) what I have done  (crossing over) = Reason to Expect (Anticipate) all the glorious things He has promised!

Rom. 15:13 - He is the GOD of Hope.  We are the People of Hope.

So..  Rom. 5:2 - "we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."

On one hand we have Hope (expectation) for the future!!
However, we live int his present, troubled world!!

So........ (meanwhile)  - Heb. 6:19  "... firm and secure".  - anchor for the soul.

Closing Scripture:  1 Cor. 10:13