Summary: What do you do when life hands you bad puzzle pieces? Pieces you can’t figure out how to fit into the "all things work together for good?" Maybe it’s time to step back and look at the puzzle box top! *HANDOUT INCLUDED*
See The Big Picture
Romans 8:28-29 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
OPENING ILLUS. Puzzle.
Take a 1,000 piece puzzle, and start your sermon by saying, “I’m going to put this puzzle together.” Pour out the pieces on a table. After you do, hold up the box top (with the picture that is the puzzle) and say, “Isn’t that pretty? They sure do put nice pictures on the tops of these puzzle boxes.”
Then casually toss the box top like a frisbee away to the other side of the front of the church.
“Well, I need to get started on this. . . here are two nice pieces. They look like they might fit together, too!” (Try to put them together. When they won’t go, try a little harder. Make a show of pushing them, trying to make them go. Finally, pound them with your fist. . . get your foot up on the table and stomp them. . . pull out a hammer and try to get them together. This is just to illustrate the absurdity of trying without the big picture.)
Finally, stop in frustration. Ask the congregation what the problem is. Some of them will know.
(Some might reply with the obvious, “You’re trying to put together pieces that don’t fit.” You could reply, to focus their answer a little more, “OK, how can I know how the pieces are supposed to fit together?”)
You’re right. What I need is not to work harder to get the pieces to fit together. What I need is to see the big picture.
If I don’t have the big picture:
- I don’t know where this is headed.
- I’m asking for frustration.
- I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.
Now, let me ask you this: How do you handle the pieces that life gives you?
Some of them are good:
- extra money
- a good family
And some of them are not good.
- You get lied about and fired.
- The marriage you thought was made in heaven breaks up.
- The car breaks down, and there’s no money to fix it.
- The health you thought you had is diagnosed as “cancer.”
- The friends turn their back on you.
- You’ve been abused by a family member.
It’s not the good pieces that we struggle with finding how they fit – it’s the bad pieces. How does this fit into my life?
When you’re struggling with the HURTS of life, and trying to find where they fit, it really helps to step back and look at the big picture. That’s what I want to do this morning. What is GOD’S big picture?
The amount of the promise.
“All things work together for good.”
This is one of the most famous promises in the Bible. Even if you’re not that familiar with the Bible, you probably have heard of this one.
But what is Paul really saying? First, let’s look at what he’s not saying.
A. Paul is not saying that whatever happens to a Christian is good. – bad things really do happen.
B. Paul doesn’t mean that God works out all things for our comfort, our convenience, our health, or our wealth.
D. Paul is not saying that after you lose your house, it’s OK because you’ll win the lottery.
E. Paul’s not saying that in some TWISTED way, wars and famine, and disease is actually all GOOD stuff, and you just don’t know it.
Well, what IS he saying then?
Paul is saying this: For the people to whom this promise was made, everything works together to accomplish God’s good goal.
The question is: Who did God make this promise to? (Excuse my vernacular English!)
The audience of the promise.
“To them who love God, them who are the ones called according to His purpose.”
Have you ever been in the house with someone and heard them say something, and you THOUGHT they were talking to you? Later, you might find out they were talking on the phone, or to someone else, or themselves. . . they never intended their words to be for you!
This is an AWESOME promise, and it is a great comfort. . . but whenever you read a promise in God’s Word, you should stop to make sure you are the one it is promised to! You see, every promise in the Word of God has an audience – it’s a group of people God intended to receive the promise.