God's Glory in Times of Suffering

You May Wonder, Where Is God When I Am Suffering?

Dan Franklin
Jul 17, 2022    38m
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Have you felt stressed, confused, persecuted, and pressured? If so, you may wonder, where is God when I am suffering? This message taught out of Second Corinthians 4 reminds us that God never forgets about those who belong to him. Your suffering is not an indication that God is absent. In fact, in Paul's opinion, your suffering is an indication that God is looking to show off His glory. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] This is week six of this series, that's really our summer series for 2022, and we're calling this series Glory and Frailty. And we're going through an extended passage, we're not going through all of Second Corinthians, but we're going through an extended portion of Second Corinthians. And I don't know, I know people during the summer you're here one week, you're going on vacation the next week. But if you've been around for a number of weeks in this series, you'll probably have noticed that there's a mantra that we've been saying each week to sort of summarize what this series is about and what this portion of Scripture is all about. And that mantra is that God shows the world His glory through the frailty of his servants. And this is true not only of this section of Second Corinthians, but really if you read the whole book, you see this constant theme and the idea of God's power not being shown when we're impressive, but God's power being shown in our weaknesses. And so throughout this whole series, every week we're talking about this idea that God shows the world His glory, his power, his greatness, he shows the world how amazing he is, not by how impressive his servants are, but by how weak and fragile his servants are.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:38] But I've realized, even though the statement we've been talking about it each week, there's sort of is an assumption behind this statement that gives it any significance in our lives. And here's the assumption, the assumption is that we want to be God's servants, which if we pause, we might say that's maybe not the safest assumption. We maybe need to look into that a little bit, because the idea of being a servant of God is the idea of having our lives totally devoted to him, every area of our lives yielded to him, where we're getting up in the morning and we're not primarily thinking about, all right, how is God going to assist me in all of the things that I want to do today? But how is my life, every area of my life fully devoted to God?

Dan Franklin: [00:02:29] And the deal is, when we read the New Testament, those of us who are believers in Jesus are much more than just servants. In fact, there's a passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus says to his disciples, I no longer call you servants, I call you friends. We are the children of God, bought by the blood of Jesus, forgiven, and loved by God. We're brought into the family, we're given an inheritance in heaven, we're given the Holy Spirit, so we're much more than just servants. But are we servants? Have you read the New Testament? We're servants, that's part of how we play this role. And for us, if we're going to be honest, we might think, all right, I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea of just being completely devoted. I do want some God in my life, and maybe some of us are like, yeah, a little God is good, you know, a little church, a little morality, a little bit of religion. A little bit of that is good to sort of get me through, but I'm not sure I'm up for this idea of looking at my money and saying my money is fully devoted to Jesus, or my friendships are fully devoted to Jesus, or my marriage is fully devoted to Jesus, or my time is fully devoted to Jesus where I'm thinking constantly about what I can do and how my life is yielded to him. And we may be a hard sell on that because we might be thinking, that sounds like a lot of sacrifice, that sounds like a lot to give up, that sounds like God is sort of invading a lot of areas of my life.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:59] And so I want to, before we get into this great passage today, just pause and say, if you're on the fence, if you're thinking, I'm not sure you know, all right, if that's how God does it, if he shows the world how amazing he is through the frailty of his servants, I'm not yet sure I'm sold on wanting to serve in that way. What I want to have, is a time just to remind us all, we were each made by God, and we were each made for God. And what that means is, is not just that we have an obligation to him, although that is there. It means we find our truest selves; we find our truest identity and what we were made for, not the further away we get from God's reach, but the closer we are to Him. The more our lives are yielded to God, the more human we are becoming, because we're living life as we were meant to live life.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:01] Your quest, your goal is not to figure out how to get just enough God, but not too much, your goal is to be fully devoted to him and to trust him that nothing you sacrifice will be left in the dust. And so if we're there, if we are saying, all right, I think I'm willing to do that then, then we get to look at the statement and then we get to say, all right, well, then this is how God does this, this is how God shows the world his greatness and his glory, it's not through the strength and impressiveness of his servants is through the frailty of his servants.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:31] And where we get to take a next step in our passage today is just the recognition that if our frailty is what's being put on display, that's going to happen through suffering. And it's going to be suffering of all kinds of different kinds, it might be physical, it might be financial, it might be relational, it might be in our employment, it could be in all kinds of different areas. But we need to prepare ourselves for the idea that if God is saying, here's how I show the world my glory, it's by my power being shown in your weakness, then we need to be ready for suffering, and this passage in Second Corinthians walks us through what that suffering is like.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:12] And so if you want some pegs to kind of hang this message on it, if you want to know where we're going, we're going to see three different things about suffering in this passage. We're going to see the reason for suffering, which is good because we're usually wondering. We're going to see the practice of suffering, and what it actually looks like for us to walk through suffering. And then we're going to see the impact of suffering, because God uses our suffering.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:38] But let's just start with the reason, because whenever we suffer, we're wondering what's going on. So look in verse 7, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay." It's a famous passage, and here's the deal, if you've been following along in this series and were to go back, you'd know that the treasure he's talking about is the Gospel message. Paul is saying, I have been entrusted with this Gospel message, the message that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came to this earth, that he lived a perfect life, and then offered that perfect life as a gift to you because you did not live a perfect life. He died for the sins of all people, and he offers that sacrificial death to you. And then that he was raised from the dead and raised to new life, and he offers that new life to you. Paul says that's the treasure we have. and he says we're carrying around this treasure in jars of clay. And scholars debate exactly what Paul might have had in mind when he talks about jars of clay, but here's what they all agree on, they all agree on whatever it was that he had specifically in mind, it was a normal household container. He's not describing something that kings and royalty used, and he's not describing something that was only for like holidays and special occasions, these are normal clay pots that were just used for everyday things. So Paul says, we have this treasure in a very unimpressive container.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:19] And if you were to read the whole book of Second Corinthians, you'd see that when Paul is talking about an unimpressive container, he's talking about himself. We read the letters from Paul, and we think, man, if if I could have heard Paul speak, what would that be like? And you know what it would be like? Not much, because he says that the way people talked about him was, wow, his letters are really powerful, but when you hear him in person, it's nothing special. Paul was not impressive to look at and he was not impressive to listen to, and he knew this about himself. So he's talking about himself, and you know who else he's talking about? Yeah, I know it's early. Do you know who else he's talking about? He's talking about us. Every one of us gets to take this on and say the treasure of the message of Jesus in an unimpressive container. That's what God does, and why does he do it? To show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. So when somebody embraces the Gospel and their life is transformed, and suddenly they have hope where they had despair, and suddenly they have joy when there was no joy in their life, and suddenly they're winning victories over habits in their life that they never would have otherwise. When they're being transformed, Paul says, God wants everyone to know that the reason this is happening is because God did something, not because I did something. That it's not because of the impressive container, the treasure is put in a very ordinary jar of clay.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:57] So this is the verse that's going to launch us into most of what we're talking about, but before we move on, I just want us to take a moment because there's actually some joy in this. If you're looking at yourself, and either you're saying, I don't feel like my gifts and abilities are especially stand out, or if you're looking at yourself and you're saying, I have some shady things in my past that kind of make me not the best ambassador of sharing the Gospel, or if even right now, you're just like, I'm still in the trenches dealing with sin, and trying to win victory, but I still feel like I'm not where I should be. If you're looking at yourself and you're unimpressed with yourself, Satan will tempt you to think that means you're not going to be very useful to God. And Paul is saying the exact opposite, he's saying, are you not very impressive? Well, good news, God finds unimpressive people incredibly useful. And this isn't something new, this isn't Paul saying God used to do it differently, but now he's doing it this way. If you read the Old Testament and the New Testament, you find this theme again and again. Remember how impressive Moses was? Moses was a stutterer who killed somebody and then went into hiding before God used him tremendously. Have you guys, ever read the Book of Judges? Do you remember how impressive Gideon was? Gideon is led by God in this amazing victory for the Israelites to deliver them from slavery, and when God first comes to Gideon to tell him he's going to use him, Gideon describes himself as the weakest man, of the weakest family, of the weakest tribe, of an oppressed people.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:40] Think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, this probably young teenage girl who was anonymous and not impressive and didn't have this amazing lineage or set up in her life, was used by God to birth the Son of God. God loves to show His glory through the frailty of His servants. So if you're sitting here today and you're like, I don't know how God could use me, I'm unimpressive. Just know, your un-impressiveness is exactly what God will put on display to show His glory. The reason that we deal with the discomfort, and the suffering, and the frailty is so that everyone can know this is something God's doing, not something that they're doing.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:23] And then what Paul does in the next two verses is he just describes what this is like, I'm calling this the practice of suffering. You can see up there he uses four kinds of, turn of phrases to describe what it's like to go through the discomfort of suffering. And I'll highlight each one, and we'll just walk through these.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:41] So he starts off, he says, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed." And you'll see this with all four of the things he talks about, he says, we're this, but not this. And every time it's sort of like we're dealing with this bad thing, but it's not quite as bad as it could be. So he says, we're hard pressed on every side. And I love this word picture here because some of you probably like being in crowds. Who here likes being in big crowds? Lots of people? All right, wow, that was a small percentage of people. Who gets a little bit nervous in big crowds of people? All right, and a bunch of the rest of you are like you could offer me the moon and I wouldn't raise my hand, that's fine. We've all kind of had that experience, maybe some of you liked it, a lot of us didn't like it, where you're in such a crowd that everybody's just shoulder to shoulder and you're starting to feel crowded in, and some of us start to feel nervous when that happens. That's actually what this word is, what the Greek word for pressed on every side, that's what it's describing. It's used in the Gospels to describe a time where the crowd was pressing in to get closer to Jesus, and they were all shoulder to shoulder, it's that constricted feeling where everybody's on every side. And he says, this is what this is like walking with Jesus, we're pressed in on every side, we're constricted wherever we look. We're dealing with pressure. And that pressure might just be that there are things in our lives where we would say, I'm dealing with these health problems and I just feel kind of constricted; and I'm dealing with these financial problems and I'm not sure where my next paycheck is going to come from; and I'm dealing with the problems in my relationship, and I'm dealing with the fact that I'm still dealing with temptation and sin, and I just feel pressed in on every side, Paul says, that's what it's like to walk with Jesus, that's what it's like to let your frailty be on display, we're pressed in on every side. Is anybody right now, today, kind of feeling that way. Some of you are like, yeah, that pretty well described my life right there. Like, I just feel pressed in on every side, he says, we're hard pressed on every side, but not crushed. We're constricted, but we're not suffocated.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:52] He goes on and he talks about a second one, he says, perplexed, but not in despair. And I love this, because the Greek words here, it's exactly what it sounds like. What does it mean to be perplexed? It means to be confused, it says, we're confused. We're not, as Christians, people who understand every reason why everything is happening to us. And so part of being perplexed, it may be that Paul is saying, sometimes we're suffering, and we don't know why we're suffering, we don't know why this is happening. We know that God has his purposes, but we don't have it all figured out. So you might be looking at a situation and you're like, I was qualified for this job, and it would have really helped my family if I could get this job, and the pay would have gone up, and it seemed like everything was going well, and I didn't get it. And I'm confused, why wouldn't God do that? Or you're dealing with a health problem and you're like, why wouldn't God just heal? I know God can heal, why wouldn't He just heal me on this? Or how about this one, and I promise I won't ask for a show of hands, how many of you are like I am still dealing with the same sin and temptation in my life, why in the world wouldn't God just make me stop wanting this thing that I shouldn't want? We're perplexed, we're confused, and we're still trying to figure things out. But again, look at what he says. He says, we're perplexed, but we're not in despair. Even when we're confused, we still have hope. Even when we say, I don't get what God is doing, we say, I don't get what God is doing, but I know God, and I know whatever he's doing, I can trust him with it. We're perplexed, but we're not in despair.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:31] He says, thirdly, were persecuted, but not abandoned, and the word persecuted is used all throughout the New Testament to describe the idea of sort of being hunted down and chased, which is a big thing that happened to Paul and happened to the early Christian, they were being hunted down and persecuted by Romans and by Jewish people at the time. And we could look at our lives today, and sometimes American Christians will talk about us being persecuted, and it's like, calm down, like let's just look at their Christians in the world right now that absolutely fit this description. Brothers and sisters in Christ, in either North Korea or other places that we say that they're dealing with real persecution, social, financial, imprisonment, and sometimes death, and in our lives, I don't want to say we never deal with this, but we're not at a stage where we're dealing with this the way that others have. But we might say, yeah, there are times that you're insulted, there are times that you're left out, there are times that you're estranged from people, that there's a cost in your life. And sometimes you can feel like, gosh, I just feel like people are kind of after me because of my faith and I'm dealing with bad things because of my faith. Paul says, yeah, that's normal, we're persecuted, and we might have the whole world turn on us, but you know who's not going to turn on you? God is not going to turn on you. Persecuted, but not abandoned.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:51] And finally, I love this last one, struck down, but not destroyed. One commentator summed it up to say that sort of the idea that Paul is getting it here, the way we might put it in 2022 is, knocked down, but not knocked out. Yeah, we're down, we're taking a beating, we're taking some bruises, and some of them just feel like the normal difficulties of life and other ones are special difficulties that we live with because we're looking to follow Jesus, and sometimes there's hostility and difficulty surrounding that. So he says, oh yeah, don't make any mistakes, sometimes we're in that boxing ring and we're getting knocked down, but we're not knocked out. Over and over again, four times, he comes back to this idea that this is just the normal way that we're living as Christians. There are some people who are preaching today that the way that God will show the world His glory is through the good, smooth, rich, healthy lives of his servants. And Paul is saying, I don't think so, that is not what Scripture teaches. Scripture doesn't teach that you are living your best life now so that everybody can see how easy it is, Paul is saying right now you are living in constant challenge and difficulty so that people can see that it's not you who's making this happen, it's God who's making this happen.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:15] And I want to pause here because this is a good opportunity just for us to talk about, what do we do? How do we think about this when we suffer? Because this is a constant difficulty, we know that there are purposes for suffering, but how do we deal with it when we suffer? And I want to put two statements, I'm going to put two statements up on the screen that I think are really important for us to grasp in all of this.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:37] And I'll put the first one up now, suffering is not an indication of God's absence, but there are times that we think it is, right? This is sort of our go-to, I'm suffering, I didn't get the job that was going to help us out. I didn't get the right diagnosis. I'm still estranged from family members. I'm dealing with, I'm suffering, it must mean that God isn't paying any attention to me. And Paul wants to make sure that we all know that God never forgets about those who belong to him. Your suffering is not an indication that God is absent, in fact, in Paul's opinion, your suffering is an indication that God in a special way is looking to show off His glory.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:26] Your suffering is not only not an indication of God's absence, but you're suffering is also not an indication of God's displeasure, because that's the other direction we go. We say, no, I'm suffering, and I know God sees me, but the reason I'm suffering is because God is punishing me for something that I did. Now I do need to give a quick qualifier on this, sometimes our suffering is because either God is disciplining us or because we've made dumb decisions and we're suffering the consequences. So right now, you're like, I'm dealing with all kinds of financial problems because I made a lot of dumb moves, why am I suffering, God? It's sort of like, you know why you're suffering, like, you brought this on. It doesn't mean God is not with you, God is with you even in self-inflicted suffering. But there is a sense of saying, all right, if you're constantly in trouble, if you're constantly dealing with trouble in your life, it is worth pausing and saying, am I doing this to myself? That's just a wise thing to do. But Paul is warning us against the idea of saying, well, I'm suffering, things aren't going well in my life, or I'm getting hostility from other people, it must be because God is upset with me. Don't forget that the Son of God suffered worse than any of us, and God was with him, and God was pleased with him. Don't buy the lie of the enemy, I'm going through a hard time, so it must mean God doesn't like me anymore or God has abandoned me. God is with you and God cares for you.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:59] But what we do need to take in is that as we go through this, as we go through this suffering that God brings us into, it's actually an opportunity to show off God's goodness. I mean, have you ever done the thought experiment of thinking like, all right, if I could only save one possession in my house, if I could only save like five possessions in my house, what would I save? And whatever you come up with is usually a pretty good indicator of what's most precious to you. Where you'd say, if I couldn't hold on to anything else, I would hold on to this. When we go through suffering and experience loss, the world gets to look, and to say, what's really most important to them? Because what you hold on to shows what's most precious to you.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:46] I've shared at some different times about my parents, and about when I was nine years old, my dad became paralyzed from the neck down, he is still in a wheelchair today. The doctors don't know what happened. Every time I tell the story, people are like, what happened? We don't know what happened. He became paralyzed from the neck down, was in a hospital for about a year, and then for the rest of his life was paralyzed. There was a season of time where for the church I grew up at, where my dad was an elder there, and they would have at the end of the service, they'd have elders and elders' wives come up front so that people could pray with them for the service. In fact, as I'm talking about that quick note, later on in the service, we're going to get to experience communion. And then after communion, we're going to get to respond in worship. And during that time, during the time after communion, we're going to invite any of you that are feeling like I'm going through the wringer right now, I need hope and I need prayer, to come up and be prayed with by any of our prayer team members or pastors and elders. So, by the way, I didn't tell you this in advance, but pastors, elders, prayer team members, we're going to do that during the closing song, so be ready. But my mom said this to me, she said, yeah, we will go up front when the pastor invites us to come up front and people will pray with us. And my mom always used to say, you know what, me and your dad always have the longest line, they had the longest line of people who wanted to come and pray with them. And it wasn't a mystery to figure out why they had the longest line, it was because in their physical presentation the scars were clear. And people were able to look at them, my dad in the wheelchair, my mom standing next to him, and they were able to say, these people have been through it, and they're still holding on to Jesus, it didn't exalt them, it exalted the one who was working through them. With suffering, we have an opportunity to show off how precious Jesus is to us.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:39] And this even hints at something that we get to look at next. Where Paul is saying, all right, here's the deal, God loves to do this, if you're feeling unworthy, if you're feeling inadequate, that's okay, that's how God works. And then he tells us this is what it's going to be like, if you're suffering, if you're going through difficulty, don't act as if that's weird, that's actually the normal Christian life. We're anticipating the final glory that Jesus will bring when he returns, but we're dealing with difficulty now.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:05] But what Paul is going to let us know in these last three verses is that even though we're going through difficulty, there's an impact that God is going to bring, there's a payoff, and I'm going to read all three of these verses and then I want to highlight them, but you'll see a common thread go through all three of these verses. In verses 10 through 12, he says, "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." Now, just look at these verses either in your Bible or look at them up here, and hopefully, you'll notice there are two words that show up in all three verses, two contrasting words. Do you guys see what they are? Yeah, life and death show up in all three verses.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:13] So let's highlight them, let's highlight death first because, in this passage, that's what comes first. Paul says, "We are always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus." Now, what does he mean? What he means is that we are suffering. And so just as Jesus suffered before he experienced glory, that's what we're experiencing in our lives. People look at us and they see the death and suffering of Jesus, he doubles down on this in verse 11. He says, "For we who are alive are always being given over to death, for Jesus' sake." Which for some of the people in the early church, this was literal, in the sense that they were being executed. But in a bigger way, Paul is just talking about the idea of suffering and constant difficulties, and that this is the normal Christian life, suffering and constant difficulty. He says it in verse 10, and he says it in verse 11, and then in verse 12 he goes as far as to say, so then death is at work in us. So this is the way that we live, we live with constant difficulty and suffering, but he makes clear that there's a reason for all of this and there's an effect that this is having. So he goes from death to life. We always carry around in our bodies the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our bodies.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:32] Now, here's the mistake we can make, this is important for all three verses here. He talks about death, and he talks about life, and it would be very easy for us to think, well, yeah, because before Jesus died, he lived, so he has his death, and he has his life. That's not what Paul is doing, Jesus died, and then what happened after he died? He lived. So when he's talking about the death of Jesus and the life of Jesus, he's not then going backwards and saying, well, Jesus died, but before that, there was a lot of good stuff. He's saying, Jesus died, and then he lived. So he's saying Just as Jesus suffered, and then there was glory. He's saying, we are suffering, and the glory is coming.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:12] He says the same thing in verse 11, "For we are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal bodies." His resurrected, new, victorious life would be shown in us. And finally, verse 12 sums it all up when he says, "So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. Paul is saying we are suffering, and the impact of our suffering is that other people see Jesus more clearly and experience the new life that he brings. In a specific way, Paul is saying, I'm suffering, and Timothy his coauthor, is suffering, he's saying all Christian messengers are suffering, so that you Corinthians can experience life.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:01] Now, just follow me with this for a minute, somebody else died so that we have life. Easiest answer today, who was that person? Jesus. Jesus died so that we would have life, this is what happened, and his death was a sacrificial death for us. He died, and that was the only way that we could have new life, he died for our sins. Paul is not saying the same thing about himself, and he's not saying the same thing for us as Christians, he's not saying we die for the sins of other people so that they can have forgiveness. But what he is saying is, that the impact of our suffering is that more people get life, because God shows off his glory when we suffer. And if people look at us as broken, unimpressive people holding on to Jesus when we're suffering, they end up getting life because they see a clearer picture of Jesus Christ.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:08] There's a story that's told, some of you will have heard this, I'm not making this up. I wish I'd made it up, it's a great story. But there's a story that's told that I think relates to this passage because it relates to the idea of the clay pots that he talked about at the beginning, the clay jars. And so the story goes like this, there was a man who had to walk two miles every day along a path to get to a well in order to get water for his house, and he had two clay pots that he would fill up with water and he'd bring them every day, one of them was full and pristine and one of them was cracked. So in the left hand, he'd get the pristine jar, and in the right hand he'd take the crack jar, and he'd walk the two miles out to the well and he'd fill them both up, and he'd walk home with the pristine jar in his left hand, the crack jar in his right hand. And by the time he got home, the crack jar was only half full because half of it had spilled out along the way, but the non-cracked jar was fully full. And he did this for years and years and years, every day, pristine jar on the left hand, crack jar in the right hand, would go out to two miles and would come back the two miles and then bring the water. And at one point, his son came to him and said, Dad, this is ridiculous, why don't you just get a new jar? We just need two good clay jars. Why don't you get rid of this cracked clay jar, because, by the time you get back, most of it has already dripped out?

Dan Franklin: [00:31:29] And the father said to the son, all right, I want to show you why I do this. And so he took the two jars, took his son with them, walked the two miles out to the well, filled out the two jars with the water, the pristine one in his left hand, the cracked one in his right hand. And he said, son, we're going to walk home, and I want you to notice both sides of the path as we walk. And so as he walked back, the son was paying attention to the left and to the right, and to the left, everything looked normal. But as you look to the right, he noticed that there were beautiful flowers all along the path that had been watered every day from the water spilling out of the cracked jar, there was beauty that was only there because of the brokenness of the vessel. And as we think about ourselves, as we think about this idea of, all right, if we're really serving God fully, our frailty will be put on display. And when we look at that and either we say, well, God shouldn't do that, God shouldn't do this because how could I be used if I'm suffering? Or as some of you are saying, how could I be used with all of the brokenness in my life? God, I think is saying to us, that the glory spills through when the jar is cracked, not broken, not crushed, not destroyed, but cracked with glory spilling out of it. And Paul is saying in verses ten through 12, there is going to be life in the world because of your weakness and frailty. Death is at work in us, and life is at work in you.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:15] Brothers and sisters, we're all going to face suffering and we're all going to face difficulty, and we've all got to decide in our lives, how important to us is serving God? How important to us is serving Jesus? If we're wanting God in our lives, and we're like, we want him there, but we want them far enough away that he can't invade, but so that I can go get him if I have an emergency, we're going to end up missing out on the profound things that God wants to do through us. But if we're going to say, you know what, I'm all in, I'm all in with my whole life. I'm never going to do this perfectly, but I want every area of my life yielded to God. The way that God is then going to work, is not the way that we would love for him to work, which is to make our lives so smooth and easy that nothing ever goes wrong. Instead, what he's going to do is he is going to purposefully put us through pain and difficulty for a number of reasons, for our own growth, for our own sharpening, and for us to become more godly and hold a lesser tie to the things of this world and hold a closer tie to everything that God promises. But another reason why God is going to put us through suffering, is because when we are broken, that's when His glory shines through.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:29] I already mentioned that later on, during the time that we have an opportunity to respond in worship, we're going to have pastors and elders and prayer team members up here, upfront. And when we get ready for that, here's what I want to give as an invitation, because once again, some of you are like, that's fine. I'm never coming up there, I'm not going up in front of everyone else. I just want to say this, there is suffering in this room, some of it I know about because I know some of you and I know the difficulties that you're going through, whether it's grief or uncertainty, and you're like perplexed, I'm perplexed. Some of you are, like, hard-pressed, I'm hard pressed. You're dealing with frustrating difficulties, and you just want to hold it to yourself because you want to look strong. The whole point of this passage and this entire series is that we are not meant to look strong. In fact, it's when our weakness and frailty are put on full display that God really gets the glory and people receive new life. So during that time, don't hold back, don't hold back in pride, saying, I need to not let people know that I'm so needy that I need prayer. Let it be known, and I promise you, God will be watering new life through you allowing your weakness to be put on display. We suffer, and part of the reason we suffer is because others get life through that. But let's remember what that's a sign of, that's a sign of the fact that Jesus suffered and died so that we could get eternal life.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:03] And what we're going to do next in the service is we are going to get to experience the picture of that through communion. If you're helping out with communion, you can head to the back right now as Tom gets us organized for the passing of the elements. Just so you know, with the passing of the elements that they'll be passed out through rows, hold on to them until the end, we'll all take them together after this next song that we'll join in together.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:28] And I also want to say, you know, we believe there's nothing magical about taking these elements, these are a picture and they're a picture that Jesus gave to his people. And so if you're somebody here, that you're here and you're here either as a guest, or you're trying to decide where you stand with Jesus, if you're not a believer in Jesus, feel free just to let the elements pass by because there's nothing that is magical happens to you when you take these. This is meant to be a picture for those of us who have embraced faith in Jesus, to remember that just as we take the broken bread, his body was broken for us; and just as we take the cup, his blood was shed for us. He suffered so that we would have life, and as we take that in, we get to take that in not only with gratitude, but we get to take that in with thoughtfulness of how God will bring new life as we walk willingly into the suffering that He gives to us.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:25] And so as we prepare for this time, and as the servers come forward, why don't you just join me in prayer together? Father, thank you, that you are so powerful that our weaknesses don't daunt you. You don't look at us and say, this is what I have to work with, you look at us and you see an amazing opportunity to show forth your love and your goodness and your power because when we are weak, you are strong. Father, I pray that you bring relief from the suffering and pain, but, Father, I also pray that you bring impact through the suffering and pain. I pray that in our frailty, the world sees your glory, Lord, and I pray that you give us the perseverance to hold on to Jesus through that. Thank you for the broken body and the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we take these elements now, lead us to celebrate with sobriety and to give you all the praise and glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848