Summary: Deals with four important truths that every Christian must keep in mind in order to understand the world around us and be successful in life.
Things We Must Know
I. Our Plans May Not Always Materialize—Even When We Are Striving to Do God’s Will (Romans 1:13)
A. God knows what is best for us
B. God wants what is best for us
C. God does what is best for us
II. Afflictions Are Unavoidable in Christ’s Service (2 Corinthians 1:8)
A. Afflictions are a part of the life of every believer
B. Afflictions cannot destroy us—unless we allow them to
C. Afflictions work the purposes of God
III. The Providence of God Can Take Us through Impossible Situations (1 Corinthians 10:1)
A. We will meet obstacles in life that we cannot overcome on our own
B. But God will see us through if we only trust in Him
IV. There Is Relief Coming from Above for All Believers (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Since I have entered into those precarious middle-age years, I have noticed that life is much different than I had perceived it to be when I was a teenager. It seems like so many of the things that I once thought were nonsensical—or at least unnecessary—have suddenly taken on new meaning and importance. In fact, I find myself doing many of those things I once mocked.
One thing that was guaranteed to be “greeted” by my eyes rolling to the back of my head was when my mother would sit me down and give me a parting list of instructions before I left the house. “I want you to keep in mind that there are certain people out there who… (and you can fill in the blank).” The purpose of those talks was to educate me and protect me from things that could harm me or lead me into danger. Of course, at the time, I didn’t appreciate those words of wisdom all that greatly; they seemed to be just a well-intended gesture from an overprotective mother rather than words of life and sound teaching. It’s funny, now that I’m 40 and a father, those words make a lot more sense. And I have a feeling that I will have many of those same talks with my son and daughter in the near future.
Giving our children instructions concerning things they need to know is not something that started with my parents or theirs. It is something that has been passed down from generation to generation since the beginning of time. The originator of this tutelage is God Himself. Since the creation of the first man and woman, children have been taught by their parents that were are certain important things that they must be aware of and heed if they are going to understand the world in which they live and be successful.
I want to take a look at some selected passages from a few of Paul’s epistles. All of his letters were written to individuals or groups with the purpose of instructing his readers in certain matters that he felt they needed to know. Of particular interest to our investigation are those unique instances where the Apostle highlights a subject that he doesn’t want his audience to miss. Six times in Paul’s letters he begins a section with the phrase, I do not want you to be unaware…, or We do not want you to uniformed…, or I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact… Like a father who is concerned about the welfare of his children, Paul felt that these matters were too important to be left to chance. So he made a point of calling these things to their attention.
This morning we are going to look at four of these things that we must know. They all deal with the subject of our relationship to God and the world around us. The purpose of these instructions is to aid us in interpreting the incidents of life and to help us keep our perspective of ultimate reality in check. As Christians, we must never forget that we are but aliens and strangers in this world—our hope is in the unchanging, eternal God. Life in this world will bring us disappointment and heartache. Life in this world is unfair and unpredictable. Life in this world includes hardship and affliction. But our life and trust are not in this world. Our faith is in the God who preserves us and saves us from the destructive forces of this world. Let’s take a look at four things that every Christians must know.
Our Plans May Not Always Materialize—Even When We Are Striving to Do God’s Will
The first thing that we need to be aware of is the fact that our plans may not always materialize—even when we are striving to do God’s will. Please turn with me to Romans 1:13 (p. 836). In 2 Corinthians (1:15ff), Paul informs the believers there that he encountered a similar situation—longing to be with them, but having been hindered from doing so. In both instances, his purpose in wanting to see them was to carry out the function of an apostle. He wanted to do what God had called him to do. Yet, even with the very best of intentions, his plans had to be laid aside.