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Summary: A sermon on how we can use our pain for other’s good (Based on John Baker’s Book, "Life’s Healing Choices", chapter 8). For Celebrate Recovery

(Mat 5:10 NIV) Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Evening Service for 5/24/200

Introduction:

Have you ever heard of Lieutenant Hirro Onada? He was the last Japanese soldier to surrender after World War II. He was left on the island Lubang in the Philippines in 1944 --- along with three other soldiers. They were left with the command to “carry on the mission even if Japan surrenders.” Eventually the others were killed or surrendered. But Onada continued his war alone. Through the years, he ignored messages from loudspeakers announcing Japan’s surrender. Leaflets were dropped in the jungle begging him to surrender so he could return to Japan. During his 29-year private war, he killed at least 30 Philippine nationals. More than half a million dollars were spent trying to locate him and convince him to surrender. Finally, on March 10, 1974 Onada surrendered his rusty sword after receiving a personal command from his former superior officer. His lonely war was finally over. When he returned to Japan as a prematurely aged man of 52, he made this comment: “Nothing pleasant during those 29 years in the jungle.” (Newsweek, 1974) Well, that was a bit of an understatement. But people can spend long years fighting lonely battles when they are determined to “go it alone.” People spend years battling secret sins and weaknesses and addictions --- when they could end the battle IF they would let other people help them. We need each other for perspective, accountability, advice, encouragement, and all of the other things that Christian friendship adds to our lives.

WBTU:

A. Our greatest contribution to the world will not be found in our strength but in our weakness. The very thing we want least to talk about, the very thing we want to hide in the closet is the very thing God wants us to share.

B. Our misconception is that God uses only the really gifted, extraordinarily talented people. That’s not true. (2 Cor 12:9) 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.

C. People are not helped by our strengths as much as they are helped by our weaknesses. When we share our strength, they say, “Big deal, I’ll never have what he has.” Or, “My faith is not as strong as hers.” But when we share from our weaknesses, they say, “I can relate to that!”

D. When we understand that God uses our weaknesses and our pain, life takes on a whole new meaning and we experience genuine recovery. The proof that we are truly recovering is when we begin to focus outside of ourselves, when we stop being absorbed with our needs, our hurts, and our problems. Recovery is evident when we begin to say, “How can I help others?”

E. We have been going through Celebrate Recovery and this last step is found in the last beatitude.

Thesis: Two questions: Why does God allow our pain? How can we use our pain to help others?

For instances:

Why does God allow our pain? Many answers but let’s look at 4

1. God has given us a free will.

A. (Gen 1:27) so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him

B. One of the ways God’s image is shown in us is with our freedom to choose. God made millions of choices with the Creation. We too have the right to choose. WE have the right to choose God or not to choose God.

C. God didn’t want a bunch of robots.

D. Our free will is not only a blessing; it’s also a burden. We sometimes make choices that bring pain to ourselves and others. We will hurt ourselves but God will not overrule our will.

E. Our free will can do good or damage others. Innocent victims are everywhere. God could have prevented that hurt by taking away that person’s free will. But if He does that, He would have to take away everyone’s free will.

2. God uses pain to get our attention.

A. Pain, depression, anxiety, fear are not our problems. These are simply warning lights, telling us that something is wrong and we need to deal with it. Pain is God’s wake up call: (Prov 20:30 NIV) Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.

B. Sometimes pain is severe, like the pain of a burn on our skin or the stab of a heart attack. Thank God for these pains. The “blessing” of pain is that it gets our attention and lets us know something is wrong. (2 Cor 7:9 NIV) yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.

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