PILGRIMS: NOT HOME YET: REJOICING IN SUFFERING
(Pastor Chris Jordan – Horizon Church)
This is a message I shared with our church family this past Sunday morning. You can click HERE to listen to the audio MP3. Note: Because of a technical difficulty, only the last half of the message was recorded.
INTRO TO SPEAKER: It’s been a quiet spring break with Liza and Hannah on a mission trip in Mexico, and Austin on a mission trip in Uganda. Caleb’s at home but working most of the time.
NOT HOME YET: Lyrics by Steven Curtis Chapman
- “To all the travelers, pilgrims longing for a home,
- From one who walks with you, On this journey called life’s road, It is a long and winding road,
- From one who’s seen the view, Dreamt of staying on the mountains high,
- And one who’s cried like you, Wanting so much just to lay down and die,
- I offer this, we must remember this… We are not home yet.”
INTRO TO TOPIC:
Someone said once, “For every mile of road, there are two miles of ditch.”
This is a great picture of contemplating the topic of suffering!
- On one side, there are those who say, “Once you become a Christian, there is victory in Jesus, it’s your best life now, and you will never suffer again!”
- On the other side, there are those who say, “The Christian life is all about suffering for Jesus. Pain, despair, gloom and agony every day!”
- On the middle road is the true Biblical teaching about suffering, and that’s what we’re going to look at this morning.
- Because we are going through a series in First Peter (Pilgrims), most of this teaching will be taken from this book of the Bible. Suffering is one of the main themes of First Peter. But let’s start with some good news!
1. GOD HAS GIVEN US GOOD THINGS TO REJOICE IN:
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5, ESV).
- Three things that God has given to His children:
- Great Mercy: Not just a little mercy, but great mercy and amazing grace!
- Living Hope: When all hope seems lost in the world, we have hope in Jesus!
- A Heavenly Inheritance: Discuss the now/not-yet tension of the Kingdom.
2. SUFFERING IS ONLY FOR A SHORT SEASON:
“In this you rejoice… (what God has given us – Mercy, Hope, Inheritance!) … though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” (1 Peter 1:6).
- Keep an eternal perspective – our inheritance is in Heaven.
- Our suffering is only for a little while, though we do get a taste of Heaven now.
- “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10).
- When the disciples went through the storm, they experienced Jesus in a new way!
- PREACH: If you’re going through hell – don’t stop! You’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death! You’re experiencing a dark night, but dawn always comes!
3. SUFFERING CAN HELP US TO GROW:
Why do we rejoice? “7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:7-9, ESV).
- James 1:2-3 says: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (NKJV).
- It’s helpful going through the trial because it strengthens your faith and patience.
- However – if you don’t see the good in it, you may give up or lose heart!
- ILLUSTRATION: Several years ago, I picked up a workout DVD – P90X. It was extreme and insane. But for about three months, I got up every morning and put in the work, because I saw the value in it.
- “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21).
4. LET YOUR SUFFERING BE FOR DOING GOOD, NOT BAD:
“13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:13-18, ESV).
- Suffer: Greek pascho – to be affected, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight.
- Suffering – Biblical definition: The experience of physical pain and/or mental distress.
- “14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (1 Peter 4:14-16, ESV).
- There are two kinds of suffering: One is a consequence for doing something wrong, and the other happens even if we are doing everything right.
- Sometimes suffering is a consequence for our sin and rebellion – look at Jonah’s storm.
- But sometimes we experience suffering when we are doing good – like Jesus and Job.
- When we suffer for doing good, glorify God!
5. SUFFERING IS GOING TO HAPPEN – SO DON’T BE SURPRISED BY IT!
“12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed… 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:12-13,19, ESV).
- Peter said, “Don’t be surprised by suffering.” When you’re taught that “Christians never suffer,” and you experience suffering, you will get surprised and confused.
- ILLUSTRATION: When we prayed for protection (Psalm 91) and woke up to a flooded basement. We were confused because we were (wrongly) taught Christians never suffer.
- Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
- What is Jesus saying? We’re not home yet! As long as we’re living on this sin-cursed earth, we will have trouble, but we can still rejoice because He cares for us!
- Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives and not based on our circumstances.
“6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
THE BIG IDEA:
Suffering is going to come, but it doesn’t have to overcome you. We can cast our cares upon Jesus, because He cares for us, and experience God’s abundant hope, peace and joy.
PERSONAL TESTIMONY: Since moving here, we still haven’t sold our home in Beausejour. We are paying a mortgage on our house there, and rent here, so we haven’t been able to buy a house here, and we don’t understand why. But it’s not about the why. It’s about knowing that God has a plan and works all things for His good!
HOW DO WE EXPERIENCE MORE JOY?
- Cast your cares on Jesus because He cares for you. Prayer!
- Praise the Lord! Psalm 22:3 says God dwells in the praises of His people and “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11).
- Get into His Word: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).
PRAYER: For those who are suffering to experience God’s peace, joy and hope.
CLOSING: BENEDICTION: 2 Corinthians 13:14.