Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Leave a comment

Pandemic Perspective – Part 68 Joy in the Junk – Part 1

Romans 5:3-5 “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Here in Roman’s Paul doesn’t downplay the probability of problems, or shy away from suffering. Unfortunately many people today are living in the lie that God won’t give them more than they can handle. This false idea seems to originate from 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God does promise that He will provide a way out when we’re tempted but He never says that He’ll shield us from struggles. This scripture is specifically dealing with God not allowing temptation to overwhelm without Him providing a way of escape so that we can endure the temptation and not fall into sin. He didn’t promise a problem free life but His presence forever in life. Paul often faced adversity 2 Corinthians 1:8-9: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 Paul doesn’t preach the prosperity gospel, rather he seems to advocate an adversity gospel: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked; I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” Paul understood that in this life he would have problems and pain and today that may be where you are, pounded by the problems. Some are dealing with a difficult diagnosis, or flooded with financial distress, struggling with singleness, or a messy marriage, overwhelmed by the addictions of alcohol or adultery, deep in drugs or depression, worn out by wayward kids. The list could go on but at some point in life we all discover the disillusionment that occurs when life doesn’t live up to our expectations. Some of us have graduated more than once from the University of Unmet Expectations. Paul doesn’t shy away from sharing the real message on suffering, it’s guaranteed for anyone who takes on the task of living. That’s the difficult part but here is the delight, God can use what isn’t good to graciously transforming us through our trials. We don’t like the thought of trials but there are some things we can’t learn in a lecture or a sermon but only through the school of suffering. One of the core classes for the Christian involves the challenging study of suffering. We will all go through seasons of suffering; we don’t have a choice in the curriculum, but we do have a choice in our response to Christ. How we do in our course of study through suffering is largely determined by our response to His curriculum. Often, we just want God to give us a pass so we can skip the pain, but problems are a prerequisite in this life, and we can’t be excused from the syllabus of suffering. No matter what side of the pond you find yourself on you can find joy in the junk and rejoicing in the rubbish. Some of life’s greatest lessons are learned in the school of suffering, but it’s not just about the results but our response. 

Leave a comment

Pandemic Perspective – Part 67 Bountiful Blessing – Part 4

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Not only is He able to abundantly supply but His abundance can cause us to:

  • Abound 

God’s goal is not for us to get by but to abound in every good work. The reason every grace abounds is so that believers can abound in every good work. In reality we can only dispense what we have received, whether it be material, Acts 14:17: “but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” or spiritual, Romans 5:17: “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” As we let God’s abundance flow through our life and into the lives of others God keeps pouring into us, but when we selfishly stop serving God shuts of the spigot of blessing. He doesn’t just give so that we can be enriched but so that we can abound in enriching others through our good works. He pours into us so that we can pass on the blessing. He soaks us with grace so that we can serve not so that we can sit and be selfish. Today we have limited God’s gifts to physical prosperity, money and material things, but God cares more about character and conduct than coins. The reason God gives us His grace which results in good works is because good works develop our character and conduct. As the grace of God enriches us morally and spiritually, we grow in Christian character and conduct. As we are filled with the fullness of Christ, we are free to faithfully serve. In our character and conduct we are called to copy God in the grace of giving, and as we do the inexhaustible resources of God’s grace will fill us to overflowing, as 1 Corinthians 15:58 says: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” God’s grace is always abundant; it always leads to increase not decrease, even when it involves parting with our precious possessions. Do you believe God is able? Will you allow the fountain of God’s grace not only to flow in you but to flow freely through you? God wants to touch the world through you, to bless you not only to be a grace bearer but a grace giver. Will you become a receptacle, a reservoir so that God can do what His grace so desires to do in you and through you?