Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 84 Courage in the Crisis – Part 1 

John 11:1-16

A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” 8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” 9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” 16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”

When Jesus journeyed to the cross he crossed paths with one who was blind and another who was bound up in his belongings as well as one who was buried. You see the first man went from seeking to sight, the second went from seeking to sorrow, and today we see those who go from sorrow to serving.  The story in John 11 starts with a:

1.         Crisis vs 1-3

Many of us get mad at God when we have to go through challenging times. Especially when those challenges involve the loss of a loved one. But challenges are an opportunity for us to call out to the Lord and lean on Him. What we all want is to pursue a problem free life but one thing this pandemic has taught us is that’s just not realistic. In this life we will have problems and it’s here that we learn our first valuable lesson, bring your crisis to Christ. Mary and Martha took their problem to Jesus. What about you who are you taking your problems to? Are you taking your cares to Christ? Many of us are tempted to turn to other things as we look for a feel good instead of looking to God the Father? But it’s here that we discover the second truth, not only are we to petition God but we are to be patience with our petitions. Because it’s here in the midst of the crisis that we discover a:

A.         Delay – Vs 4-6

How do you respond when your desires meet with delay? Delays can cause us to question God’s love instead of lean on His love. But we need to remember that when God lingers it doesn’t lessen His love. The challenge is that we live in an instant gratification culture, so instead of waiting we tend to whine. Not only does waiting tend to lead to whining but delays often lead to demanding. Instead of resting we become restless and often resentful. Instead of waiting we worry which leads to us trying instead of trusting. Do you treasure God’s timing? God has gracious intentions even in seeming delays. Sometimes what seems like procrastination is actually preparation. Jesus was preparing them to experience God’s glory and sometimes we have to go through the groaning to get to the glory. Are you willing to let God use your pain to proclaim His power? Why do Saints suffer, sometimes so others can see the Savior. Are you willing to let God use your wounds to witness to a watching world? Are you going to trust His timing or throw a temper tantrum? Sometimes we want a solution to our suffering more than we want the Savior. But it’s in our pain that we see God’s promises and power. If you are going challenging times keep looking to God. Don’t let delay dictate your day instead let God’s past faithfulness guide you.

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 83 Purpose in the Pain – Part 4 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When Paul discovered God’s power in the midst of his pain it changed his whole perspective. Instead of participating in the pity party he chose to: 

  • Praise in the Pain

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Trusting in God’s Word not only affected Paul’s attitude but also his actions. He no longer saw persecution as a plague to be avoided but as a privilege to bear. How many of us believed that when we got saved life would be easier? We bought into the lie that Salvation would usher in perpetual sunshine. My guess is that it probably didn’t take long for you to realize that in many ways instead of things getting easier there were many things that actually got harder. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Look Jesus didn’t promise us an easy life he promised us eternal life. He didn’t come to remove the problems he came to redeem the people. When we come to faith in Jesus there are some problems that come to an end while others are only just beginning. 2 Timothy 3:12 says “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” Here in Acts 16 Paul was experiencing problems, not because he was outside of God’s Will, but because he was walking out God’s will. He was experiencing problems not because he was doing the wrong thing but because he was doing the right thing. Our typical response to that is to say, but that’s not fair, and it’s here that I need to remind myself that this life is not about fairness it’s about faith. Unlike Paul many of us are pursuing a pain free life instead of a praise filled life. We are wasting our lives whining instead of investing our lives in worship. Why do so many Christians waste their lives on whining because they have forgotten that Christ has already won the war. Instead of living as winners they are living like whining losers which not only affects their lives it infects the lives of those around them. Our greatest witness is not the song we sing in the sunshine but the one we sing in the suffering. Paul didn’t just put up with persecution he praised in the persecution. Which causes me to ask myself are we prepared for persecution today, and will our response be one of rejoicing or a chorus of complaining? It’s one thing to praise through a few problems but it’s another when you keep being plagued by pain. This attitude of praise was a common occurrence in Paul’s life not an isolated incidence. Paul encountered many discouraging and difficult problems throughout his life, but he always faced them armed with an attitude of praised. In Acts 16 we find him praying and praising in the mist of problems and prison. So powerful was this praise that every door was opened and all the chains were loosed. I wonder today if we really understand just how powerful these spiritual weapons of prayer and praise are. Prayerful praise doesn’t just shake things up it opens up doors. Paul and Silas had been falsely accused, stripped, severely beaten and then placed in stocks in the inner prison. What was their response to the retribution, instead of being resentful they rejoiced. Why because their focus wasn’t on their problems it was on their provider. Instead of complaining at this unfair treatment or being angry with the Almighty for letting them go through the pain they chose to praise. Church we can’t control the circumstances but we can choose how we will respond to them. Often I have to remind myself that running the race involves team work, you see while Christ is in charge and in control of the altitude I am in charge of choosing the attitude. Instead of being bitter and angry at the Almighty they chose to praise. What about you, what are you choosing resentment or rejoicing? Why does it matter, because resentment hardens the heart while rejoicing heals it. Instead of shouting complaints they sang choruses. Satan the enemy had tried to derail and destroy their ministry through misery but instead of giving in to bitterness and a bad attitude they gave glory to God. What Satan intended for harm God uses to arm. No matter how bad the pain we have a God that can turn tragedy into triumph and despair into delight. Satan tried to sow his seeds of sorrow but instead of a harvest of hurt they spouted into songs of praise. Like Paul and Silas we can focus on the chains or we can focus on Christ. Circumstances can chain the hand but they don’t have to chain the heart. Are you letting your problems dictate your praise or are you pouring you’re praising into your problems? So many of us let the pains of this life put our praise into prison instead of pouring our praise into our prison.  Don’t let the hurts hold your heart hostage, instead of choosing pity chose praise. Because of their attitude of adoration the lives of those around them were impacted. So was the pain and suffering that Paul and Silas went through worth it? Well that depends on whether you are looking at it from an earthly perspective or an eternal one. Satan schemes were thwarted, God was glorified and a sinner was saved, I would call that success. We have a choice we can live a life that proclaims our pain or God’s power. What about you are you choosing the party of praise or the pity party?