Summary: When we see the bigger picture – our suffering isn’t so bad
Intro: (Start w/ Blank)
DID YOU KNOW Persecution statistics:
* More than 43 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the crucifixion of Jesus.
* It’s been estimated that more Christians have been martyred in the 20th Century than in all the prior 1,900 years combined.
* There have been more than 26 million documented cases of martyrdom in this century alone.
* More than 200 million Christians in over 60 nations face persecution each day, 60% of these are children.
* 150,000 to 165,000 are martyred each year.
Christians today are the most persecuted group in the world. Persecution is on the rise because of Communism, the expansion of Islamic and Hindu extremism, and because of the anti-Christ spirit that is prevalent throughout the world.
Of the world’s over six billion people: 151 million claim to be atheists, 2 billion are Christians, 1.2 billion are Muslims, 786 million are Hindus and 362 million are Buddhists.
Literally hundreds of thousands of people today are being killed, brutalized, sold as slaves, imprisoned, tortured, threatened, discriminated against and arrested solely because they are Christians.
There are Christians, people who follow Jesus Christ as Lord who are suffering simply for the faith they won’t give up. If God’s call is for us to pick up our cross and carry it, how do we do that? If Jesus says count the cost before you follow me – how do we do that? If Job was considered faithful – not just during the wonderful times in his life, but in the struggle, it was in the sack cloth and ashes that Job found his faithfulness – how do we do that? (Advance) “When we see the bigger picture – our suffering isn’t so bad”
Turn with me this morning to (Advance) 1st Peter 4:12-19 (read)
I believe that Peter answers those questions. How do we do what James says – “Count it all joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds.” What should our attitude be towards suffering? (Advance) “When we see the bigger picture – our suffering isn’t so bad”
Peter will give us two reactions to our suffering. As Christians we will have these two reactions, we will be: (Advance)
I. Unsurprised & Rejoicing (12-13)
Jesus understood that the way of the cross meant suffering. Do you believe it means any different for us? The way of the cross is no different for us. (Advance)
a. Peter says: (Advance)
i. Don’t be surprised
It’s not a shocker that we should suffer. It’s not something that we should be surprised at, or confused about. If you are Christian, you will suffer for the name of Christ. You look back to our Fathers in the faith. Abraham – the story you have heard before, he leads his son to the mountain to offer a sacrifice – only they didn’t have a lamb. Job – he wasn’t just faithful to God when everything was going fine, when all his children were healthy, and the cattle looked good – he was faithful, when his friend’s advise was to curse God and Die. (Advance)
1. It’s not strange
Life is going to present to you the opportunity, to suffer. Everyone goes through it. This suffering is no respecter of person, social status, color. (Advance)
2. It’s for a purpose
a. Test to see if we are real
i. To see if we are long term
ii. To see if we are willing to keep going when it gets tough
iii. Not a matter of if the going will get tough, it’s when it does – are we willing to stick to our convictions and allow God to make us strong.
Not only are we to be unsurprised – we are to rejoice in our suffering because: (Advance)
3. It’s a privilege
a. I am a witness for Christ
If Jesus Christ went to the cross, to suffer and die, to pay a debt of sin that he didn’t owe. Then I can give him the only thing that’s really worthy of him – my heart.
b. To trust in Jesus
Have you ever had one of those weeks? You are at a funeral and you receive a message that someone else you are close to has past away. You realize something is wrong with your marriage – and then you get news that makes it even worse. Have you ever had one of those weeks? Let me tell you – the song – “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” isn’t the first thing that crosses my mind. Are you catching what I am saying?
However, church, it’s when we see the bigger picture that we come to understand God is in control. This life I live, the life that he has given you – is about Him. He desires that we give absolutely everything to him, from top to bottom Moses said it like this: (Advance)