What Is Jesus’ Perspective On Your Suffering?

Used with permission from http://bit.ly/1zjlt9H
Used with permission from http://bit.ly/1zjlt9H

Jesus has an extraordinary perspective on suffering–even on our own very personal suffering.

Well, how could He know what I’m going through right now?  He knows, because He felt your pain on the cross.  On the cross, He took the burden of your sin.  He felt the weight of your heartbreak and your pain, physically, emotionally, relationally.  He endured it all on that dark day that we call Good Friday.  Jesus understands your suffering.

But not only that, He suffers with you.  He is no detached Lord who watches us from afar, thinking, “One day, they’ll understand.”  What happened when Lazarus died and his sisters wept?  Even though Jesus knew that Lazarus would soon be raised from the dead to the glory of God—even though He had that eternal perspective, what did Jesus do?  He wept with them.

When you weep, He weeps with you.  When you hurt, He hurts with you.  He does not abandon us in our suffering, but He walks the road of suffering with us.

So when you suffer, unburden yourself to Jesus.  He understands, He cares, and He hurts with you.

Yet the news of the Gospel urges us to take one more step forward to this part of His perspective: Jesus’ suffering guarantees that our suffering will eventually end.  By bearing the brunt of our sin and suffering, Jesus has undone the eternal grip of suffering on our bodies and our souls.  By dying and being raised from the dead, Jesus has broken the stronghold that suffering had on you.

Your suffering will not last, because Jesus has promised to make all things right through His suffering.  So just because He chooses to allow your suffering right now—it doesn’t mean that it will never end.

How does this thought strike you?  How have you come to terms with it?  Share your thoughts below.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

The One Thing That Limits God’s Actions

Used with permission from http://bit.ly/1vuhPKE
Used with permission from http://bit.ly/1vuhPKE

Jesus’ power and authority in this world are bound only by His divine choice.

  Nothing on this earth binds the will of God!

If He wants to calm a storm, He calms a storm.

If He wants to cast out a demon, He says one word, “Go!” and they’re gone.

If He wants to heal a sickness, He heals a sickness.

But if He does not want to calm a storm—if He does not want to give faith where there is unbelief—if He does not want to convert people’s hearts, then He is not bound to do so.

The only thing that limits the action of God is the desire of God.

I hope by now that you’re seeing why this seems like a problem to us.  I hope you feel the tension.  Because that tension exists in our lives.

The struggles we have, whether physical, spiritual, relational, or otherwise—the struggles we have in every arena of life—these struggles are not bigger than God.  He could solve them with a word right now.

But instead, He has made an intentional choice to allow those struggles to continue.  He is Lord of every arena of your life—His will is ultimate and He can change anything He wants.

And that raises the question:

If He has the power and authority to do so, then why doesn’t He bring peace, freedom, and restoration to every arena of my life?  And more than that, why doesn’t He bring peace, freedom, and restoration to the whole world right now?

How have you come to terms with this difficult question?  Share your thoughts below!

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

How can I be a Christian in my workplace?

What does it mean to share Jesus’ priorities when you’re at work?  What does it mean to be on mission for Jesus at the workplace?  Working for Jesus doesn’t mean that you hand out tracts at the office.  So what does it mean, then?

By attacking and undoing sin, Jesus was also undoing the effects of sin in the world. He came to undo sickness, poverty, and brokenness.  He came to undo sin and its consequences in the world.

So CPA!  How do you work for the mission of Jesus?  Lots of ways!  Be honest.  Respect the law of the land.  Be a good steward of other people’s money.  Show your clients what honesty, integrity, and excellence look like.  Because Jesus wants to undo dishonesty and greed and replace it with integrity and generosity.

Retiree!  How do you work for the mission of Jesus?  Wow.  There’s so much you can do.  You can pray for the work of the Gospel.  You can use your spare time to mentor the young—to communicate with missionaries—to be a good neighbor to the lonely person that lives next door.  Use your retirement to share the love of God and to fix what is broken.

Stay-at-home mom!  How do you work for the Lordship of Jesus?  You may very well have the most important job of anyone in this room.  Love on those little ones.  Tell them about Jesus and what He’s doing in the world.  Discipline your children—prepare them for the life ahead of them.  Teach them to be a responsible citizen.

Working for Jesus doesn’t mean you hand out tracts at the office.  It means you do your best—you work hard—you love those around you—and when you see brokenness and need, you do what you can to meet the need.  We are to live and to work like no one else does.  We set a new standard.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

Sermon Preview: Hard To Keep Up When Nobody Has Control

We have so many different arenas in our lives that it barely feels possible to keep up with them all.

Work has to be done, so that we can take care of finances and things.  As, a result, we barely have time for our family.

And friendship?  Well, we’ll just try to be friends with people at work, because we don’t have time to make extra phone calls or have dinner parties or write letters.

And who has time for self-care or a spiritual life?  It takes a lot of time, energy, and money to eat healthy and to exercise.  It takes time, energy, and patience to read the Bible and to pray.  So let’s just put all the spiritual stuff on Sunday and we’ll start working on our health next week.

We have a problem with our lives.  Jesus is not in control of them.  And we’re not in control of them.  We’re not living them.  We’re letting our lives control us!

And control is what discipleship is all about.  Who’s in charge?  Who determines how we spend our time?  Who determines what we do and how we do it?  Who sets our priorities?

This is an excerpt from this Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  Please join us at 10:30am for worship!

Is Jesus Willing to Change You?

A man with leprosy came and knelt before [Jesus] and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2)

This man comes to Jesus with faith.  He comes to Jesus in obedience.  Yet he comes lacking hope.

If you’re willing, you can make me clean.  That’s not hope talking.  That’s hopelessness talking!

That’s saying, “I’ve been stuck in this cycle of unhealth and brokenness.  And I don’t know if Jesus wants to save me from it.”  That’s not hope.

Hope is coming to Jesus expecting not only that He is able to change your life, but that He is also willing to do it.  Hear this:

Jesus is willing to help you grow in obedience.

Jesus is willing to help you grow closer to God.

Jesus is willing to make you into the man or woman that He wants you to be.

Jesus is willing to reconstruct your life and your relationships and to put you on a better path.

He is willing!  Hope believes that.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

Can the Cycle of Hopelessness Be Interrupted?

…everyone who hears these words of [Jesus’] and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.  (Matthew 7:26-27)

Every one of us knows the story of the foolish man all too well.  We’ve seen the wreckage over and over again.

We sin, we struggle, we start to do better, and then the storm comes and it all falls apart again.

We start to repair our relationships, but then something cataclysmic happens and we just can’t get it together.

We feel trapped in these cycles of building and collapsing—building and collapsingBut what would happen if that cycle was interrupted?

What if instead of falling to temptation—what if instead of going backwards—what if you actually saw progress?

What if instead of your marriage feeling cold and distant—what if instead of the same arguments over and over—what if you actually saw forgiveness and health?

What if all these cycles in your relationship with God, in your family, in your friendships, in your workplace, in your personal life—what if these cycles could be interrupted and replaced with something better?

That, my friends, is how hope begins.  With the cycle being broken.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.

Sermon Preview: What Qualities Define a Disciple?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  (Matthew 7:24-25)

When you hear the phrase “disciple of Jesus,” whom do you think of first?

An older, wisened saint of the faith?  Someone like Billy Graham or the late Mother Teresa?

Or maybe you go really old school and think of the biblical disciples: folks like Peter, James, and John or perhaps Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Regardless of whom you identify as a “disciple,” what characteristics set that person apart?

Maybe you think that a disciple of Jesus is someone who has great faith.  They simply believe in the face of insurmountable odds.

Or maybe you think of a disciple of Jesus as someone who follows Jesus with their actions—they have great obedience.  Everyone can tell their life is different.

While both faith and obedience are important, those aren’t the defining marks of a disciple of Jesus.

The defining marks of a disciple are hope and perseverance through the storm.

This is an excerpt from this Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  Please join us at 10:30am for worship!

Hoping for Others What You Hope For Yourself

The work of the Church is not to build herself up, but to make much of Christ and His Gospel.

Do you expect big things from God?

Do you expect Him to convert hearts that hate and revile Him?

Do you expect Him to change the people that you least love?

Do you expect Him to change the world—to bring justice where there is injustice, to bring peace where there is unrest, to bring healing where there is sickness?

Because that’s what the Gospel promises.  If you’ve seen it in your life, do you expect it to continue?  And do you expect it in the lives of others?

Remember God’s end game.  He’s not trying to get a few of us to heaven.  He’s taking over the whole world one person and one family at a time.

So let’s start hoping like it.

This is an excerpt from last Sunday’s sermon at Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington, LA.  For more, listen here or subscribe to our podcast here.