Summary: A sermon to help us see that God works through our hardships, to keep us close to Him.
WHAT’S YOUR THORN?
AIM: To show the congregation that God’s power is shown in our weakness.
a) Good morning and Welcome
b) Something Relevant
c) My suffering, my weaknesses.
d) Introduce topic
• What’s God’s purpose for you life? Have you ever wondered about that? I’m not referring to questions like, what career should you follow? Or whom should you marry? Or How many kids should you have? I’m talking about the big picture- what is God’s overriding goal, His primary purpose, for the lives of His people? What is He at work doing, fight now, in you life and mine? What is He trying to accomplish? Now to many people, that might seem like a nonsensical question, or at least one with a very obvious answer. “God wants to make us happy”, they would say. “ God wants to make our lives pleasant and fulfilling. He wants to provide for our needs, and take away our pain and sorrow. He wants to make our path smooth, and give us the good things we desire.” They aren’t talking about a thorn, they are talking about a throne.
1. Misconceptions about thorns
2. Paul Understands
3. Trusting His Promise
1. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THORNS…
a) I often wonder why it is that people think like that? Why they think things like, ”God wants to make me happy”!
b) Unfortunately we live in a world that is teaching us to be these kind of people. Our culture promotes that idea.
c) Advertising is constantly telling people, “you deserve this”. McDonald’s used to have the slogan, “you deserve a break today”. I always wondered how they knew that. They’ve never met me. How do they know what I deserve today…maybe I deserve a good swift kick in the pants! They don’t know.
d) But whether it’s food, or cars, or jewelry, or anything else, the consistent message is “you have the right to own this. You’re entitled to possess this.”
e) For example, if you look over the news paper ads for father’s day, you’ll see this…not just “show dad how much you appreciate him this father’s day by buying this skil saw for him.” But “Doesn’t your dad deserve this rachet set?”
f) Why is this message so effective? Because it breaks down the sales resistance. It’s no longer an issue of whether I can afford the product, or whether it is the best use of our money, or even if I really want it. Instead, it’s simply an entitlement. I deserve the new Toyota Matrix so I will do everything within my power to get it, even if it means taking on too much debt.
g) HELLO!!! We live in a world of instant self-gratification…and unfortunately that idea has escaped into the church.
h) Some churches even promote this attitude…they teach that “you deserve to be healthy and wealthy, and free of pain, and if you come to our church, we’ll tell you how.”
i) But fundamentally, this attitude comes, not from advertisers or culture, it come from within us. We have expectations of the kind of life we are going to have. The kind of life that we feel we are entitled to, and so when things don’t the way we expect (which of course, they never do), we feel betrayed, that somehow God has let us down.
j) You see, many people have made an implicit bargain with God – “God, I’ll believe in you, and come to church on Sunday, and put my two cents into the basket, and try to lead a good life. And in exchange, you’ll make sure that things go smoothly for me. You’ll see to it that nothing really bad happens, and that I’m able to enjoy at least a comfortable middle class existence. Because That is what I deserve as a faithful, obedient Christian.”
k) It’s no wonder why so many people don’t want to be Christians! They’ve set themselves up for disappointment.
l) Let me tell you a secret. God’s primary purpose for you in this life is not to make you happy, but to make you holy. And since He is sovereign over everything, that means that everything in your life – your job, your marriage, your family, your church – everything in your life is designed to accomplish that goal.
m) Don’t misunderstand me, God is not opposed to us being happy, but He wants our happiness to come from knowing Him. He wants us to experience peace and Joy in His presence. These are things that go deeper than happiness, and will not be found in our ideal about what we deserve.
n) The most loving thing that God can do for us is give us what is best for us. And we need to trust that He knows what is best better than what we do.