Summary: Here is the promise: "All things, both good & bad things, can work together for good to those who love God..." The question is, "How?" (Powerpoint Available - #211)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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A. Have you ever had anything good happen to you, & then, perhaps years later, as you looked back on the event, realized that what seemed so good at the time had bad results? Or have you ever had anything bad happen, & then realized later that what appeared to be bad at the time was really good?
Sometimes it’s hard, while you’re going through the experience, to know whether the ultimate consequences will be good or bad.
This morning let’s look for a few moments at a scene in the Word of God that seems like a really bad situation. But the Apostle Paul says that it’s actually a good situation. Listen to his words in Philippians 1:12 14.
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard & to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously & fearlessly."
Paul is saying, "I’m in prison. That’s bad. But the result is that more & more people have heard about Jesus. In fact, the entire palace guard now knows about Him. And the brothers who are sharing with me in the ministry are now more courageous in their preaching, too." Those are amazing words, aren’t they?
B. Now, it’s not always easy to know whether something is going to have good or bad results when it is happening. For instance:
ILL. Let’s say that you win the Publishing House sweepstakes, & suddenly start receiving more than $30,000 a month for the rest of your life. That’s good, isn’t it?
ILL. Or how about this? Let’s suppose you’re a member of a large family & you have several brothers & sisters. But your brothers really don’t like you very much because you are your father’s favorite. At Christmas time he always buys you the best presents. So they’re all jealous of you because of the relationship you have with him.
Finally, they get so angry that they get you off alone & beat up on you & throw you in a dry well. Now, that would be bad, wouldn’t it?
ILL. Again, suppose that in our congregation we have a nice young couple with sparkling eyes & cheery smiles. We enjoy coming to church & being in their company. They’ve been married 3 years, & are expecting their first child.
But then one day, while they’re driving home from church, an 18 wheeler suddenly swerves into their lane & knocks their car off the road, & both of them are killed. Well, there’s no question in our minds about this one. We know that would be bad.
C. Now, all of these incidents are true. We have read stories about people who have won large sums of money, whether through the Sweepstakes or the Lottery or whatever. Yet, when people unexpectedly receive large amounts of money they’re often not sure how best to deal with their new circumstances.
Suddenly they’re celebrities, & so many people are calling them asking for handouts or trying to get them to invest in something, that they end up having to get an unlisted telephone number. And other problems arise, too. Oftentimes they discover that after their windfall, they’re less happy than they were before. And what appeared to be so good seems to be turning out bad for them.
Or you may have recognized that the second story is a slightly altered & embellished rendition of the story of Joseph in the O.T. Remember, he had 10 older brothers, all very jealous of him. In fact, one day, after he had received a coat of many colors, Joseph’s brothers beat him up & threw him in a well. Then they sold him into slavery, & he was taken to Egypt.
But years later, at the end of the story in the Book of Genesis, as his brothers stand before him, Joseph makes this interesting statement, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done" [Genesis 50:20]. That which appeared to be so bad actually turned out good.
The last story was in Guidepost Magazine a few years ago a story about a young couple in Ft. Worth going home after church one evening. The driver of the truck did not see them, & he pulled over & hit their car, throwing them from the wreckage. The young wife died instantly, & her husband lived only a little while longer.