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Summary: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why does He allow His followers to suffer?

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You’ve probably heard the questions asked before:

-->If Denny’s restaurants are, as their slogan says, "always open," why do they have locks on their front doors? Why do those locks exist?

-->What is the purpose of those two lines between your nose and lip (by the way, their anatomical name: philtrum)? What are they for? What’s their purpose? So that snot has a trough straight to your mouth? Why do they exist?

Likewise, many ask: Why does evil exist? Why doesn’t God just wipe out any and all bad things? Why doesn’t He just keep them from happening?

But, let’s think it through...

How much evil do we want him to stop? Where’s too far? Where’s the stopping place?

-->If someone is about to murder someone else, would you want God to intervene there in every case? Maybe cause something to fall on the potential murderer, so he couldn’t commit the deed? Maybe cause his heart to stop for a moment?

-->Okay, what about if the guy was about to steal something? Would we want God to intervene there? Maybe God could cause the guy’s hands to fall off? Or maybe just cause them to go into spasms for a few minutes so he couldn’t hold anything? Is THAT the stopping place? Is that as far as God should go in stopping evil?

-->What about impure thoughts? What if someone was lusting or thinking "dirty" thoughts? Should God step in and stop the person’s freedom of thought? Should He intervene so that we can’t possibly think about anything but doing good, only thinking about God and His wonderful attributes? Should God step in and eliminate personal choices, such as what we think about?

You see, God COULD step in and do those things, but think about what the result would be:

-->We’d be nothing more than just pre-programmed robots.

-->And, God would not be honored, because we would have no choice but to obey Him. We wouldn’t be choosing to love Him, we’d simply be operating under a robotic command system, devoid of true devotion.

So, while we don’t fully understand God’s purpose in everything, we need to remember that HE DOES UNDERSTAND.

-->He is sovreign, very much still in control even when it might appear at first glance that things are helter skelter and out of control.

Simply put, God has chosen to permit evil, permit our choices...even when they are bad choices...but He also keeps everything under His sovreign control.

Evil will not win in the end, that’s already been settled by Jesus on the cross, then rising from the dead, conquering the penalty or "results" of sin and evil.

Listen to these interesting verses, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:44-45 -- "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven, FOR HE CAUSES HIS SUN TO RISE ON THE EVIL AND THE GOOD, AND SENDS RAIN ON THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS." (My capitalization)

*ILL> I’m reminded of the story of the man who awoke one morning to find a puddle of water in the middle of his king-sized water bed. To fix the puncture he rolled the heavy mattress outdoors and filled it with even more water, so he could locate the leak more easily. However, the enormous bag of water was impossible to control and began rolling on the hilly terrain. He tried to hold it back, but it headed downhill and landed in a clump of bushes, which poked it full of holes. Disgusted, he threw out the water bed altogether, and replaced it with a standard bed, which he moved into his bedroom. The next morning he awoke and found a puddle of water in the NEW bed...it turns out the upstairs bathroom had a leaky drain.

You see, it’s going to rain on you whether your actions are evil OR good...it’s all part of being a human being. Most cases are not about being good or bad people at all.

THERE ARE THREE IMPORTANT TRUTHS TO REMEMBER AT THE VERY OUTSET OF OUR DISCUSSIONS TODAY:

1) YES, THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR WRONG ACTIONS, EVIL THOUGHTS, AND EVERY ACTION WE TAKE.

As believers, we’re not exempt from suffering as a result of our own sin.

--1Pet.3:17 -- "For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather for doing what is wrong."

*ILL> We talked about it last week: If you receive a speeding ticket for driving 60mph in a school zone, you need to realize that doesn’t mean you’re being persecuted as a Christian, it just means you’re about to be prosecuted as a citizen.

However, when (not if, but when) we suffer as a result of doing GOOD things, we need to remember two additional things:

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