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Circumstances and Sovereignty

We’re all facing pressures and stresses unique to this crisis. It’s interfered with our ability to grieve the lost of a loved one the way we would expect. It’s interrupted our ability to visit a loved one in the hospital or nursing home. It’s disrupted our ability to work and brought financial stress. And for H.S. Seniors, it’s hijacked your graduation.

We all want this to end. We want people to be well and safe. We want life to get back to normal. But the truest test of your character isn’t how you live when it’s all good. It’s how you respond when circumstances turn your world upside down.

In this text we see the matchless resources we have from God in Jesus Christ to live in and live through the storms.

Scripture: Acts 27:1-28:16

The Power of Jesus

If what the Gospels report about Jesus is the stuff of legend, then believe what you want. But if the Gospels are eyewitness reports about the life of Jesus, if they are history, then you have to deal with who Jesus is, that He is Lord of All.

One of the most difficult things for us to understand or believe is that Jesus can love us and still allow and even order disruptive events, seasons, storms for our lives. And if we don’t come to trust Him in the storm, we will be at the mercy of the storm, and in this world, it’s always storming.

So, who is Jesus and what kind of power does he have? The power of Jesus is historical, limitless, disruptive, and costly.

Scripture: Mark 5:35-41; Psalm 89:8-9; Jonah 1; Romans 5:8

The Seed of a Faithful Church

Jesus promised His disciples that we would be hated as He was hated. We would be mocked, misrepresented, shamed, even killed for following Him. The persecution of Christians began within days of the birth of the church, and it will continue until Jesus comes.

In this text, we read about the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Not an Apostle or church leader, but an ordinary member of the church, serving Christ, and being used by Christ in amazing ways.

His story can teach us how persecuted Christians around the world – those who suffer much more than we in America – persevere with grace. But it can also show us how, in the face of cultural shifts that challenge us and cause us to hesitate to be Acts 1:8 witnesses for Christ, how to also persevere with grace for God’s glory and the spread of the gospel.

Scripture: Acts 6:8-8:3

The Surprising Truth About Suffering

The fact is that everyone experiences periods of suffering. That is true for individuals, families, and churches. Unfortunately, many Christians seem to believe that pain is the greatest evil. We tend to ask why it is happening to us and then to look for solutions as quickly as we can.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 is written to show us how God can turn trials into instruments in His hands that can lead us to trust God beyond what we’ve believed Him before and to become more of what He wants.

The question is not if we will experience trials. We all will. The problem is what we will do with them.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; James 4:6

When Suffering Arrives at Your Door

Suffering is part of life for both for Christians and non-Christians. But God makes His children a promise: if we approach our trials, disappointments, and pain with faith, God will do the essential work of molding us into the likeness of Christ Jesus.

The question is not if trials will come, but what will we do as we experience them. Many times we are tempted to feel that God isn’t fair because He allowed the pain to come into our lives. We curse the suffering and try to get out of it as quickly as we can. While these reactions are understandable, there is a far more productive way to approach our problem of suffering. That better way is to view trials through the lens of the Gospel.

Scripture: James 1:1-5

Fickle Faith to Courageous Faith

God’s promise is certain. Abram’s faith is fickle. But by God’s grace his faith is growing.

Scripture: Genesis 13-14

God: Keeper of Promises

How would you finish the following sentence? I never thought I’d see the day when _________________.

Simeon, in Luke 2:22-40 declares that his eyes have finally see the salvation of the Lord! Simeon would have finished the sentence in this manner: I never thought I’d see the day when God’s salvation would be staring right back at me! Praise the Lord!

Scripture: Luke 2:22-40

 

Jesus: Bringer of Division and Peace?

Jesus, though He is the Prince of Peace, tells us very plainly in Luke 12:49-53 that He came to bring division. Jesus is giving His followers perspective to show them that being connected with Him will bring conflict, hostility, oppression and hardships.

Scripture: Luke 12:49-53

 

Have This Type of Attitude

Two people who are concerned for you: God and Satan → very clearly seen in 1 Peter 5:6-11. One thing I want you to internalize from this sermon is that iIn times of despair, suffering (context here in 1 Peter) you must be reliant/dependent upon the Lord.

Pastors teach the Bible so you’ll not be led astray, they serve as examples, they hold you accountable, help you wage war against your sin because you’ve been entrusted to their care and in the midst of all of that you/we need to be reliant/dependent upon the Lord. This passage tells us we should have an attitude of reliance.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6-11; Matthew 5:7; Phillipians 2:1-11; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 16:5

Suffering: The Way of a Christian

We see throughout the Scriptures a reminder that if a person turns from their sins and trusts in Jesus they will experience suffering. In fact, Peter tells us this shouldn’t surprise us. Christians need to be informed about the expectations and realities of suffering so when they come we’ll

  1. not be surprised
  2. lean on the Lord and
  3. see it as an opportunity to respond graciously to suffering and consequently, point people to Jesus.

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:1-19; James 1:3-5; 1 John 3:13; John 15:20