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.

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.

You Are Not Alone In Your Exclusion

On the cross, Jesus cried out a mystifying question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

A question worth considering!  Why did God allow His only Son to die in disgrace?

The answer is this: God forsook Jesus for us.

The Father’s love for you was so great that He traded His only Son for you.

Jesus was excluded, so that you might be included.  Jesus was killed, that you might live.  Your sin was given to Jesus and everything that was His in His humanity became yours through faith: His righteousness, His place in His Father’s family, His glory.

You inherit all of this by believing that His death was sufficient for you.

Through His own exclusion, Jesus has accomplished your inclusion in God’s family.  You no longer have to fear God.  God is no longer far from you.  Your heavenly Father loves you.  And why?  Because of the work of Jesus alone.

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 Mournful Longing of Desire

It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark [of the covenant] remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after Yahweh. (1 Samuel 7:2)

Every person knows this mournful, longing desire.

Feeling like God is far, far away.

Looking up into the blackness of night and feeling nothing but the cold distance of an empty universe.

Longing, begging, and searching for peace.

Wanting to know that there’s a meaning and a purpose to all this.

Wanting some sense of connection with the divine and the eternal and the purposeful.

And as we mourn and long for something bigger—something better—something more satisfying—as we find ourselves in that place of need, God interrupts our longing with grace.

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