08/13 - Recovering Joy: “Even If…”

August 16th, 2017

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NOTE #1:  I'm trying a new filter that removes long pauses during the sermon; please let me know if you find it useful or not.

NOTE #2:  Dur to copyright restrictions I cannot post the song that I sang at that end of the sermoon, but I can link to the original artist on Youtube (who, let's face it, sings it WAY better).  Here it is - EVEN IF

 

Recovering Joy: “Even If…”

Daniel 3:13-18; Romans 8:35-37

 

  • Postscript from last week: "conquer evil by doing good" (from Romans 12)

    • Hatred and violence always spread, always intensify, always claim lives in the absence of the love of Christ that dares us to love and care for our enemies. What happened in Virginia yesterday was the escalation of hate. 
    • We are told to "bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.... [To] never pay back evil with more evil.... [but to] do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." Dear Lord, let it be!
  • Old Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego...
    • The Story

      • Unwilling to bow to an idol (of the state!)
      • Thrown into a furnace
      • Unharmed, with another walking in the fire with them!
    • Their great statement of courage summed up in "even if He does not"
      • An acknowledgement that the flames sometimes consume the followers of God
      • Something we only understand by analogy, as we compare the trials of life to storms on seas that Jesus calms, or fires in furnaces that He makes safe
      • We pray for the deliverance, but cannot escape the "even if"
    • Paul in Romans, and "More than Conquers"
      • Nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ

        • Also implied, nothing that happens to us proves that Christ doesn't love us
      • Martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel is explicitly mentioned
        • Remember, Paul watched approvingly while Steven was stones to death
      • But in this we are "more than conquers" having "overwhelming victory?"
        • What is going on here?
      • An exercise, and experience of, Joy
        • Joy as defined last week:

          • A glimpse of the eternal which places a longing in your heart more fulfilling than any earthly pleasure or satisfaction, that leaves within us a firm conviction of the temporary, limited nature of this world
        • The amazing truth: sometimes the very pain or sorrow or fear or uncertainty we experience causes Joy to rise up within us
          • Before he was stoned, Steven saw "the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!" (Acts 7:56)
          • While in jail Paul and Silas sang, and the earth shook and the cell door was opened (Acts 16:16-40)
        • Why is that? Because in our broken (fallen) condition, when we have found health and wealth and security, that is when we start to forget about God, that is when we start to lose our Joy
          • The ancient Christians had an actual good theological approach to suffering: it drew us closer to Christ, remade us more in His image

            • That doesn't mean we like it! (If we do, there's something wrong!)
            • That doesn't mean we deserved it! (Sometimes just the opposite!)
          • This means that when we face suffering or uncertainty, we turn first to God, face it with as much courage as we can, lean on one another for support, pray for God's deliverance, but have the firm conviction that EVEN IF things go the way we dread, that God has something beautiful waiting for us on the other side of the trial!
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