Summary: We should invest ourselves in the Lord, even while suffering.
Being A Christian Can Be Painful!
1. C. S. Lewis once remarked that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Today’s sermon is about suffering, trials, and stressful experiences.
2. Zechariah 13:9 explains how God will prepare the nation of Israel during the Tribulation period to inherit the Millennial Kingdom. It also explains how we, the church, are refined to inherit the Kingdom:
“This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ’They are my people,’ and they will say, ’The LORD is our God.’ "
3. A pastor under whose dad I studied, Larry Wise, stated, “I read something interesting this week that should help us keep our attitude right about counting our blessings:
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...you are more blessed than the six million who will not survive this week.
• If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation...you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
• If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death...you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
• If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep...you are richer than 75% of this world.
• If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace...you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.” (source: sermoncentral.com)
Main Idea: We should invest ourselves in the Lord, even while suffering.
I. Do Not Be SURPRISED By Suffering, But Rejoice (12-14)
1. Painful trials are REAL
• Not just trials, but painful trials
• A painless life is impossible; drugs, alcohol, wealth…
• There is physical pain and emotional pain…
• Job…experienced both kinds of pain
II Cor. 6:10, “…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
• Not something strange
"Did you know" Persecution statistics:
• * More than 43 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the crucifixion of Jesus.
• * It’s been estimated that more Christians have been martyred in the 20th Century than in all the prior 1,900 years combined.
• * There have been more than 26 million documented cases of martyrdom last century alone.
• * More than 200 million Christians in over 60 nations face persecution each day, 60% of these are children.
• * 150,000 to 165,000 are martyred each year.
• Christians today are the most persecuted group in the world…
• Literally hundreds of thousands of people today are being killed, brutalized, sold as slaves, imprisoned, tortured, threatened, discriminated against and arrested solely because they are Christians.
3. You and Christ are suffering TOGETHER
“The apostles are not saying that the sufferings of Christ are incomplete until Christians, too, have suffered. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is complete and our participation in his suffering has nothing to do with that sacrifice. However, Christ identifies with his people and when they suffer for his cause, he suffers.” William Hendrickson
4. Suffering INTENSIFIES your reward
• Vs.13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
• James 1: 12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
• It is this aspect of the Kingdom that is absent now…
5. Trials develop you SPIRITUALLY
• The Holy Spirit will CONTROL you more
• “The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you”
o Like the Shekinah resting in a place in which the Israelites were to camp
o people who have suffered for their faith are more spiritual than those who have not
Do you know where pearls come from? They come from oysters. An oyster is a shellfish that lives in the ocean. They have a very hard shell that protects them, but sometimes something like a small grain of sand can get inside the shell and it causes a lot of pain and discomfort for the oyster.
God has given the oyster a way to ease that pain. When a grain of sand gets in there, the oyster oozes out a liquid that coats the grain of sand and then it hardens. The oyster keeps doing this over and over until the grain of sand no longer causes pain. This is how these pearls are made. Something that started out being painful turned into something very beautiful and valuable.