Summary: This sermon will focus on events in the lives of three people from Scripture that illustrate how God takes the stumbling stones of our lives and turns them into stepping stones to Him.
FROM STUMBLING STONES
Often, events come into our lives that seem to be almost unbearable. Events that we may or may not know are direct attacks against our faith in and walk with God. It is in these times that we are able to see more clearly Gods hand in our life. When people or circumstances seem to be laying a trap for us, then we find God at work for us. It is then that He takes the things that are meant for evil and turns them into blessings.
Sometimes there are events that, on the surface, appear to be the work of Satan or are attributed to the sin in our life. We can look back on our lives and see instances when these events came upon us and as a result we were strengthened in our walk with God and He is being glorified.
Then there are the tragedies in our life that make us question if God is even there. These are the really tough times when we ask why. If God is…, then why? These times will ultimately strengthen our faith. We may not understand at the time, and perhaps for sometime after, but if we truly look to God for the answer, He will give us peace, if we will trust Him.
Romans 8:28 tells us that God is always working to make our lives better. He doesn’t say that all things are good. He says that He causes all things, good or bad, to work together for good. It may not seem evident at the time, but nonetheless, it is true.
Let us focus on events in the lives of three people from Scripture that illustrate how God takes the stumbling stones of our lives and turns them into stepping stones to Him.
I. Joseph Genesis 50:20
The story of Joseph and his brothers illustrates how Gods plan for His kingdom is carried out through the lives of his people. God often uses those who are against us to move us to the place where He wants us to be. This is the place where we can do the most good for His kingdom. If it were left up to us, we would stay where we are the most comfortable. I am sure that the circumstances of Joseph’s life were not uncomfortable. And I don’t believe the life of a slave would have been his choice of lifestyles. But God in His infinite wisdom knew that a little discomfort now would be worth the eventual outcome.
Often God uses those that are closest to us to move us into the position He wants to be in. We don’t always see that and we may even be resentful. But sooner or later we will know what He has planned for us. Like Joseph, we need to be willing to forgive those that mean us harm. God has a plan for each of us to follow. And if we do not follow He will make a way that moves us into His plan.
Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. Not just the sibling rivalry we often see in families. This was full-blown resentful jealousy. So they plotted against him. The story illustrates how God used those men and circumstances to bless His people. Joseph was a type of the Christ. That is, a picture of Jesus. He was persecuted by His own brethren, sold into slavery and counted among the dead. Then he was found alive at the time that they needed salvation. And he was the one to give it to them. God intended what they meant for evil to be for their good. The men that persecuted Jesus and crucified Him were doing what they intended for evil. However God intended it for their good. God will take the stumbling stone of Jesus and turn Him into a stepping stone of salvation.
II The blind man John 9:1-34
In this chapter the question that the disciples ask Jesus, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind”, reflects a very widely held belief among the Jews of that day. Namely that many afflictions in life were directly related to sin in the life of the afflicted, or that the sins of the father brought Gods judgement on his offspring. And sometimes this was the case. We believe today that sin in our life can bring the chastisement of God down on us. Sometime we look at tribulation as God building character in us. Or that He is trying to tell us something and we are not listening. However, everything that happens in our life does not always have to do with us. Sometimes it is for no reason other than to glorify God. Many times God uses the circumstances of our lives to bring attention to Him. We may be the example that will bring others to see the love and grace of God at work. This is why Jesus replied to their question as He did. “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Sometimes we see friends and loved ones suffering in illness or perhaps some circumstance that is hurtful, and we ask why. Often the answer is the same one that Jesus gave to His disciples. It is that God may be glorified. If we have ever asked God to use us in whatever way pleases Him, Then we should never be disappointed in His response. We should learn from this example that God will use our circumstances to bring glory to Him and others to salvation. It is important to note the response of the blind man after he was given sight. “… one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” And also, “Lord, I believe.”