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Summary: Sometimes we can be left in hard circumstances so long we start believing that a momentary realization that we are indeed alive is only a sadistic pause until the next car breakdown, pipe breaking, kid-sickness, roof leaking, job layoff or unexpected bill

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THE PASTOR’S POINTS

sermon ministry of

CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH

Thomasville, NC

January 18, 2004

Paul was very encouraging with his words to the church at Thessalonica. Sometimes, however, even words of grand encouragement can leave you wondering.

I have counted for many years upon the encouraging words of Romans 8:28:

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [NIV]

That’s a verse with promise, to which we cling during difficult times. Most of us have to admit that following Christ in really hard circumstances leaves a temptation to ask just what things in the circumstances He is working together? Sometimes it seems like life just can’t get any tougher. I’m certain Ted Brooks felt that way. Have you seen “Snow Dogs”?

The film Snow Dogs tells the story of a dentist named Ted Brooks who discovers he has inherited a rustic cabin and a dogsled team in Alaska. His efforts to master the new sport meet with bumps, bruises, and bears.

One particular outing proves especially challenging. When the dogs suddenly go into high gear, Brooks is thrown into the deep Alaskan snow. He struggles to his feet, grumbling and dusting the snow off.

Suddenly a large shadow covers his own, and he realizes he’s not alone. A large grizzly bear is only a few feet away. When the bear roars, displaying a full set of sharp teeth, Brooks begins to run down the mountainside.

Just as it appears the bear is going to win the race, Brooks falls off a cliff and lands on a precipice. As he shouts victoriously, "I’m alive! I’m alive!" the precipice gives way, dropping Brooks to a steep slope, where he rockets down the mountain like a bobsled, narrowly missing tree after tree. He screams all the way down, until he finally comes to a halt.

He smiles, but his smile quickly fades when he realizes he is lying on a thin layer of ice covering a lake. As the ice begins to crack beneath him, he lunges forward, leaving a trail of ice water in his wake. Brooks lands on what appears to be a solid piece of floating ice. The ice supports him only momentarily, and Brooks begins to sink.

Brooks reaches for his cell phone and dials 911, only to hear a recorded message: "You are outside of your coverage area. Should you like to expand your service plan, please call back during our business hours." [1]

Sometimes we can be left in hard circumstances so long we start believing that a momentary realization that we are indeed alive is only a sadistic pause until the next car breakdown, pipe breaking, kid-sickness, roof leaking, job layoff or unexpected bill in the afternoon mail.

It is to just such people that Paul’s encouragement is written, people whose faith has taken a beating, whose lives seem to be on hold. Paul writes to the faithful saint hanging-in-there, who knows that if something doesn’t happen soon, the rope to which he is clinging will slip from his hands, lodge firmly around his neck, becoming the noose of life’s hardships waiting to take him out!

What could Paul, or God, say to such people? The message in Paul’s second letter to this small band of believers (and to Christians throughout the last two millennia) is: REST ASSURED, the strength of your Anchor, Jesus Christ, is being transferred to you, not only in spite of your trials and persecutions, but by those trials and persecutions. Paul says, “Hold on – have patience for the long haul; Jesus is about to give you some ‘life handles’”.

This morning I want us to remember that message; please remember that we can rest assured that God is doing some things for believers, the children of His kingdom.

I. He is Strengthening Your Walk

1Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5

Paul mentioned faith, fellowship and faithfulness, three areas of growth that believers were experiencing as a sign that God was strengthening their walk in Christ. Faith is entrusting your care to God; fellowship is that sense of love and bond that believers have with each other; faithfulness is what is produced when faith and fellowship meet – a strength that stands-up in any circumstances.

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