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Summary: Finding purpose in persecution

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Paul’s Pain: Finding purpose in persecution

-I went snowboarding for the first time and got hurt pretty bad with all of the constant falling. My wife snowboards and I was hoping to get a little compassion. She would have except for the fact that she could not stop laughing at me.

-The pain that it caused told me not to go anymore.

-Pain, for being such an unpleasant thing, is also a very good thing.

-Scientist Paul Brand, had funding to find a way to create nerve ending.

-Developed an alarm and lights to alert pain, but was not unpleasant enough for patients to react.

-Pain needs to be unpleasant so we do not damage ourselves.

-This is very obvious and easy to understand, but what about suffering and tragedy?

-This is a question that has stumped every generation since Adam. Why is there so much hurt?

-We see hurricanes and terrorists and disasters and even the most religious ask “why God?”

-I have a friend who asked, “Doesn’t it worry you that you don’t know these things? Aren’t you concerned when you don’t understand God?”

-My response is that it would concern me if I did totally understand God, because that would put me on the same playing field as God. If my mind operated on the same level with God so that I understood what he was doing in the world around me, that would be scary! I prefer to be stumped by God.

-Besides, God says to Isaiah, “my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts, just as the heaven is higher than the earth, so are my ways and thoughts higher than yours.”

-I believe that God left certain things blank because there is no way that we would be able to understand them.

-For example:

-There are an estimated 70000000000000000000000 grains of sand and

361,000000000000000000000 gallons of water in the ocean. And the amount of sunflower seeds that have been spit out at our new building cannot even be calculated!!

-these are things that are minds can not grasp and when we try to make them make sense with our limited abilities, we actually get farther from reality not closer.

-I think that this is the case with our suffering and our trials. We may never understand them in our lifetime. It might be generations until they make sense. All we can do is trust and know that “he works for the good of those that love him, for those called unto his purpose.

PRAY

-Please open up your bibles to 2 Cor 11:22

-I titled today’s message: Paul’s pain: purpose in persecution

-We all know of Paul. We see him first in the book of Acts holding the coats of the people who stoned Stephen. Soon he goes from spectator to participant and becomes a Christian killer of his own. He was a feared and menacing enemy of the cross. And then, God changes him in a blink of an eye by knocking him off of his horse in Damascus. Paul goes from enemy to ally.

-Then God says a curious thing “I will show him how much he must suffer for my names sake”

-We catch up with Paul in 2 Cor 11:22, where Paul is confronting a growing opposition to his teaching within the church. False teachers are leading his young church astray.

READ verse 11:22-33

-These false prophets were stealing God’s people, Paul the fiery apostle, gives his resume for Christ.

-He does not speak about the revelations, about what happened in Damascus, about all of the things that he has been told. Instead, he tells them how much he was persecuted.

-He says “I have been beat up, I have been whipped, shipwrecked, stoned and not only that, but watching you turn away is killing me! What have these other “apostles” gone through?”

-Maybe what Paul is saying is that the path is not supposed to be easy. Like a church building project like ours that keeps getting harder and harder. My bible says “wide is the road that leads to destruction” so that must mean that road is easy and we are not on that road.

-Paul says that his suffering qualifies him in ministry.

-I conducted an interview for a manual labor job. My decision was made as soon as I shook the applicant’s hands. The first person had very soft hands, but the second guy had very rough, big hands. The second guy’s calloused hands qualified him for the work we had in mind.

-Paul says, look what I have been through and tell me who you believe.

-Pascal a French philosopher said it like this, “I prefer to believe those who got their throats cut for what they wrote.”

-Paul and his great suffering would convince every generation of Christians that he was telling the truth. If this was not true, why keep getting beat up?

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