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Sovereign or Silent?

Chris Buttery
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  • September 12, 2015
    11:30 AM
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On. See you. It wasn't a beautiful. Well this morning's message is entitled somber and or silent sovereign or silent and we continuing the series. If you recall entitled The whole truth the whole truth often presents trues twin truths that appear at times if we if we. Just scratching the surface appear at times to be contradictory or of odds with each other but in fact. Complementary to each other. It's the whole truth package and so we want to talk about the sovereignty of God in the silence of God. The Smalling Now I want to share with you a story is very personal just sharing with Jen last night that this is a difficult little story to share with you because it had a tremendous impact on Jan and myself. But it was eighteen years ago the year was nineteen ninety seven. Can you believe eighteen years ago while nine hundred ninety seven I was driving to québec Canada and to renew my American visa so I could extend my stay in this great country after having just recently completed my studies all the way up into Canada and back down again to the U.S. border. I was enjoying the companionship of songs that I had my Some of my favorite songs that I had recorded on I type now that was one thousand nine hundred ninety seven and I had a nine hundred eighty seven Honda Civic that didn't have a CD player and so I was resorting to types. I was singing and with my heart I was just thanking God for having delivered me from from from formal education that I just recently graduated from the leaving me potentially to my first professional ministry assignment and the budding relationship that I was enjoying with one Jennifer Elisa. Who then became and is buttering God had guided me he had blessed me and I was so happy because I knew that God had everything worked out when I was casually pulled up to the U.S. border into supporting to head back to Massachusetts where I was at the time a fairly irritated immigration officer met me and asked me to show you my passport and then he began asking a litany of questions and it became very apparent very quickly that he didn't. Like any of my answers and they were truthful I will assure you. His questions turned into an interrogation and he soon asked me to step out of and away from my car that I was driving and before I knew it I had he had scoured my car for something to incriminate me with the interrogators interrogation turned into fits of anger. And he marched me into his immigration or into the immigration office and I didn't know what was wrong but I was certainly being made to feel guilty and apparently according to this man I'd committed a litany of errors because in between his high and cruel words he was typing feverish like something on the computer entering some data into his system. I asked to know what was wrong and what he had written but I was never told the whole episode was a complete mystery here and so his incessant yelling at me eventually led me to ask for the supervisor hoping he or she would be able to calm things down just a little bit while the supervisor didn't give me a hard time he did nothing to reign in his office as vehemence his words were like fists that just kept hitting me each time he opened his mouth. It became quite obvious at that during this time that I was not going to be let back into the United States. Now what seemed like an eternity. I was eventually I should out of the office to my car and I was told to drive north back to the Canadian border. When I arrived there a few moments later they saw in my passport that I had not being there too long before. And so instead of letting me into their country they escorted me out of my car into their immigration office where I was questioned again. Now Canadians tend to be a gentler people. But while they didn't treat me as an Eilean they couldn't figure out why I had been sent back and I certainly couldn't tell them why either. Eventually they let me go. I gave me a three week visa so my problems out and. Told me if you can't solve it. You've got to leave the country. And so I was in Quebec Canada. All I had on me was my car the car I was driving rather the clothes there on my back the types in my car and a little money in my bank account that I had collected while sharing Christian literature while in college. Now if you know anything about québec it's French it's the French speaking province of Canada. And if you know me second language is. My strength. I didn't know where I was I didn't know what to do I didn't know what who I should talk to. So I found the closest town with a hotel and I headed in that direction. I found a pay phone and called Jennifer. She was in Virginia at the time and I told her what had happened and we were both extremely heartbroken. We didn't know what. When we would see each other again. Quite frankly. Fortunately I knew someone me in Montreal and I asked if I could stay with them just a few days until I can get this thing worked out and they let me come let me stay I headed over to the going to point and headed over to the immigration office of the U.S. consulate they are in Montreal Canada. Canada and there I presented my case and I didn't want to deal with my case whatsoever. I was eventually told that I needed to come back a little bit later and I went back and forth between the U.S. embassy there and eventually they told me that I couldn't deal with my problem here. I had to go back to Australia where I had to deal with their. Now Australia I thought well that's a that's a beautiful sounding country but at that time I didn't want to go back to Australia. I didn't have intentions to go back at least not this soon how was I going to get back to Australia. I didn't have the money for a ticket. So I sold the car that I had to buy a ticket and I was homeward bound my sister living in Melbourne put me up I had fifty dollars in my pocket I made at least set up an appointment at the U.. Consulate. I was told after going in the meet with them that I would have to wait another year before they would even consider and talk about my case it was like a bad dream from praising God and thanking God for leading my life knowing that he's got everything in the palm of his hand he had it all under control to these moments of bitter bitter disappointment. I can say that I didn't doubt his presence in my life during those moments and I'm embarrassed to tell you that during these at this episode I even question God's involvement in my life. Why didn't he. Prevent the incident. Going through college and and sweating bullets a time to try to pay my way through and working hard and feeling as I God had certainly led and opening up opportunities. How is it was it possible that my fate was left in the hands of one man who got out of bed on the wrong side of bed that morning. As a possible Didn't God care that people weren't telling the truth. Was he causing In fact the problem. Maybe he was causing it. So my faith could be tested is if Isn't it funny that we question God's involvement in ally when things go bad when things go bad. But when things are going swimmingly. There's no doubt in the world that God is with us now my situation wasn't and which was painful rather for the moment isn't really that big when we consider what others in this world go through. Just think for a moment about the Syrian refugees and immigrants right now but such incidences and such questions are mung the most complex and the most difficult that we face is God an active. Or is he a passive God. Similar yet broader questions are asked about God does God intervene in our world or does he kind of take a hands off policy where we're left to ourselves. How is God responsible or how much is God responsible for what happens in our world. And does he act directly or indirectly. In fact is God sovereign or is he in fact silent now people in general usually hold one of two positions on the subject either they believe God is in control and he manipulates events to punish or to bless people or they believe that God created the world he wanted up like a clock and then he set it off and left it to itself while he went off and took care of some other business the lot of you do. Was popular theory. In the nineteenth century and it was called the ISM and although not many Christians consciously held to Deism many live their lives as if God is not really involved in their world in their lives. Clearly deism cannot be squared with the Bible at all but as it turns out the first view is equally deficient. As long as life is going reasonably well we can maintain a simplistic view of the we cannot maintain a simply what we rather we can maintain a simplistic view of the universe when things are going well swimmingly. Everything's lining up just nicely but when event events shatter naivety then we are often left what we feel like with nothing fourteen years ago yesterday nearly three thousand lives were lost in a senseless terror attack here on American soil and many and some are still reeling from that event. How could God allow that to happen. How could God allow little island Kurdi Island Kitty I three year old Syrian told to come to the end of his life face down in the sand of a Turkish Beach his lifeless body had been washed ashore after the boat his father was Manning had been capsized his family had fled from Syria where civil war had broken out. Can a person view life secure and says as simply blessings and kisses and seventeen fifty five and we know this because we understand it. Falls in line with the Sixth Seal of Revelation chapter Chapter five and six chapter six in seventeen fifty five. There was an earthquake in Lisbon Portugal in which sixty thousand people were killed. Now the theological aftershocks spread throughout Europe. Some like Voltaire. He gave up on religion entirely theologians had been describing the world at its very best the best of all possible worlds and then suddenly there was nothing but death and there was nothing but destruction all over how could god cause or allow such an event to take place and still be a loving God where that where the citizens of Lisbon more in the heat of judgment let's then let's say the citizens of Paris or the citizens of London now reality of course is much more complex than we imagine we sometimes take only pieces of the Bible to placate out our own thinking to try to understand God's activity in the world is to grapple with related questions like Does God perform miracles and does God have a plan for every individual and does he lead people according to his divine will. Does he provide for people. Does he protect them and how we answer these questions determines in a logic stand how we live our lives how we view God and how we live our lives. Now if you like me. I like certainty people do we like certainty but the Christian life is not necessarily a life of certainty in some respects the Bible calls our walk a walk of faith a walk of faith that is stablished on clear and wonderful promises in God's Word which provides certainty but I walk as a walk of faith not by side humility. Therefore in caution are required as we analyze the problems not only in the world but also in our own little worlds. We cannot avoid interpretating events but we must remember. That our conclusions. Only based upon a partial understanding. If for example a tornado skips a church and hits a bomb. Should we conclude that the tornado was sent as a judgement from God. What do we say if the tornado hits the church and skips the bomb like God wants us to build a bigger church the Bible keeps us from drawing what seems to be an obvious conclusion that most of scripture Scripture does provide guidelines clear guidelines for helping us understand God's actions and as we accept these six Guidelines I'll say there are six will be prevented from falling prey to a sometimes dangerous and I have a T. and become more concerned discerning and more caring about how God involves himself in this world even in our own personal lives. So I'm going to list list these for you here. Number one number one first guideline God The Bible provides help us understand God's action in the world and in our lives. Number one humans people cannot fully understand God and his actions. It's just a fact we cannot fully understand God's all of his actions fully understand them. You've heard it said before perhaps that a human who tries to understand God is like a gnat trying to understand an archangel the biblical writers repeatedly describe the gulf between human understanding and God's action time with me back to our scripture reading. If you'd be so kind. Fifty five verses eight nine. Fifty five. This is not I want to read this again for so we understand we understand that we cannot fully understand fully fathom all that there is about God and his actions and plans. God is God and there are times we must let God be God chapter five verses eight nine fifty five nine he says Let. He says Bill my thoughts talking about God. From my thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor I your ways. My ways says the Lord for as the heavens are high and then the earth so. Hya then your ways and my thoughts then your thoughts the impossibility of explaining all of God's actions is also shown in Job chapters thirty eight to forty two when God ridicules the attempts of Job's friends to explain Job's suffering after wrestling with Israel's failure to believe Christ pole concludes with words of praise marveling at how unsearchable God's judgments and how his ways apos finding out. Let's turn over there to what Paul wrote in Romans Chapter six rather Romans Chapter eleven verses thirty three to thirty six Romans eleven thirty three to thirty six he writes over the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God and he says how unsearchable I his judgments and his ways past finding out for who has known the mind of the Lord or who has become his counselor or who is first given to him and it shall be repaid to him and and poll here is quoting from job in verse thirty six for all of him and through him and to him. All things to whom be glory for ever. Meant but just because we cannot always understand God's ways it doesn't mean that God doesn't exist. There are many things in the world we cannot explain but we still believe in them. So that's point number one or one of the guidelines of Bible offers us as we're trying to understand God's working in the world and in a live. We cannot fully understand all of his actions now but to God is present and he is active among his people. That's a very clear guideline that the Bible outlines for us here that this problem or his position is wrong. God has not created the world and wound it up like a clock and left it to run on its own when you go to the Old Testament the Old Testament testifies to a god that is active in that that coals and that leads and that empowers people. God is presented as the Lord over all of the history of all peoples nations presented as instruments by which God accomplishes his purposes for example when the Assyrians were used to punish the Israelites or when the Persian king Cyrus is raised to deliver God's people and we get going to the New Testament the risen Christ declares that I am with you. How often always even till the end of the world. You get into the book of Acts of course and it emphasizes the activity of God's Spirit in the spreading of the gospel and then over in Acts Chapter seventeen you're still in Romans but come up with Acts seventeen we have these these incredibly encouraging words and they they help put things in proper perspective Acts Chapter seventeen those twenty seven and twenty eight The Bible says so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for him reach out to him and might find him though he is not far from each of us. He is not God is not what he's not far from each of us but you just look at verse twenty four in him we watch live and move and have our being as also some of your own part poets have said for we are also his offspring these verses affirm that God is not far from any person for in Him we live in we move and we have our being. You see belief in an absent inactive or silent God will not do if God is not in some way related to the events in our lives and has not acted to establish a relationship with us. There is no sense or point in speaking about him at all to believe God is to believe in his. We would say we could say that the entire Bible is a record of the acts of God events such as the Exodus the incarnation of Christ the resurrection of Christ there at the center of the Biblical message. If God does not act then the Bible shouldn't be believed the Bible is a wreck or of God's. Acts and so that's a second second principle in helping us understand how God moves and acts. He is present and he works closely and through and among his people. Number three the God of the Bible is a hidden God the God of the Bible is Him God ten with. Chapter forty five and verse fifteen. Forty five fifteen if God exists. Why doesn't he go ahead and prove it. And yet describes God as him. Forty five and I want to read here verse for fifteen for you as I forty five verse fifteen the prophet says Truly you God you who ought to hide yourself or God of Israel the Savior the God of the Bible is a hidden God in Exodus thirty three twenty God tells Moses you cannot see my face for no one may see me and live and in John chapter six verse forty six Jesus explains that other than himself. No one has seen the Father these texts I more than the them that God is beyond our understanding the point is that we do not have direct physical access to God God really attempts to prove himself he is present with us. But as well and Old Testament scholars puts it. God is an elusive presence or can be an elusive presence he cannot be grasped or held by us when we think we have him he is gone he doesn't respond in mechanical fashion to our rituals or our problems. He cannot be program. And he will not be manipulated. Neither he nor his actions fit into the boxes we create for him when we act as if we know exactly what he is doing. We basically delude also. So why does God remain hidden. Why is he the. The the the hidden God. Well no doubt one reason is that God's holiness is far too great for sinful human beings to enjoy it. There's no doubt about that our God The Bible says is a consuming fire. Now another reason has to do with the fact that for God to have an authentic relationship with his people they must be freedom. If God were to force himself on us by overwhelming acts then we might be compelled into a relationship with him but God does not coerce and God does not force instead God invites God invites to preserve human freedom. He will even let people choose the opposite of his desires and evil even let them abuse us. And that's hard to understand hard to grasp all that but God on his freedom even a person's freedom to go in the opposite direction of his plans and his desires for them. God does not want us to be or to matron's robots wound up to do his pleasure and his desire whenever he dictates. On us human free will. So God is a hidden God of the Bible. Number four. God is not directly responsible for every event that occurs that we read about in Scripture and in history in Genesis Chapter six verses five and six. It reports that because of human sin. God was sorry that he had created mankind. He was what sorry. God was sorry God's grace shows us that much of what happens in the world of what much of what happened in the world back then happens. What happened. It's not God's doing when we jump over to the Book of Job. Friends attributed his sufferings to God's punishment because of job sin but job and later God will have none of it to him when they have a Luke Jesus something was said rather something very interesting and Luke records it over here. Luke Chapter thirteen versus one through five they were present at that season some who told him that is Jesus about Galileans whose blood the head being mingled with blood blood pilot had mingled with the sacrifices they came to talk to Jesus. They shared this story with Jesus and Jesus answered and said to them in verse two do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered such things and what did Jesus say I tell you no but unless you repent you will likewise perish like a verse for all those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them. Do you think that they were worst sinners than all other men who dwell in Jerusalem. He said I tell you. No but unless you repent. You will likewise perish. So Jesus argues against this kind of straight line interpretation of events arguing that certain tragedies cannot be viewed as God's personal judgement on sin. Now saying that God is not directly responsible for every event doesn't remove the problem of sin and evil. Even if God is not directly responsible. He does allow suffering and he does allow evil to take place but there is a big difference between God's permitting events and his causing events. If God causes evil. He must be held accountable for it if he permits evil the responsibility for it is placed on the free will of the person doing that thing. We may question why God values free will so much. But there is no doubt and it should be no doubt in our minds that he does. Being human means being responsible for our actions and being subject to the actions of others and neighbor. Neighbors or our neighbor has the free will even to commit murder and we could well be the victim of his free will to be human means to be a resident in a world of sin a sin. Alson and others sin suffering a world of suffering a world of tragedy in a world of death where these things are commonplace God created the world willing to chance what human. Human beings would do. God may be responsible for allowing such a world to exist but he is not directly responsible for all the events that take place and so that's another guideline another principle we keep in mind as we seek to interpret and understand what God is doing in the world and in the events in our lives. God is not directly responsible for every event that occurs and then number five. That was number four. Number five. There is a war that is raging between good and evil between Christ and Satan. There is a war that is raging God gets blamed for a lot of terrible things that happen in the world but people forget that there is an enemy that delights in disease destruction and in death. If you go to the first Peter chapter five in verse eight. Notice what the Apostle wrote over here first. Peter chapter five and verse eight. And we probably know it pretty well he says be so be vigilant why because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking what friends are seeking whom he may develop as an enemy in the land you see the Bible reveals it that the war that began in heaven when Lucifer that once shining cherub who sought to take the plethora of God yet didn't succeed him was evicted from Heaven was transferred to planet earth he chose to come into Planet of Satan the great adversary of God claimed to. Rulership of this world when he led his first parents to rebel against God's government and he has wrought havoc here ever since when somebody asks why God allows things to happen or what or that to happen but if we would a stop and to consider why he doesn't allow a lot more things to happen. We might realize that there is more to God than we originally thought the fact is we live in the territory. We live in a world that is ruled by the devil he has possible rule because ultimately God If God is sovereign but God allows him to rule to a certain extent. Instead of asking why God allowed such and such to happen we might ask why did God prevent more things from happening. And there we see a bit more of the character of God in His grace and His goodness toward us. You see while the devil seeks to deceive and while he seeks to destroy God employs his mercy and His love to win a world back from the grasp of the enemy. Ultimately this contest will be over and God will be seen to be fair and just but for now he allows us to decide which side we will stand on which banner we will walk under to whom will we give our allegiance. For now the earth groans under the weight of sin and things in the natural economic economic political religious Well what can continually to continually gradually unravel as we anticipate the return of Christ as Christ warned us and told us long ago. That's number five. We are in the midst of a battle between Christ and Satan and lastly number six the sixth guideline that helps us understand God's working in the world and in our lives. God usually works in and through people and through the natural order of God It usually works in and through people and through the natural order in the Bible a lot of the activity of God is not performed directly by God. But through some agent for example when God dried up the Red Sea We're told that he did so through was a strong east wind. He used something he had made and created to achieve his purposes the healing Jesus healed a blind man with Clay you see or he engaged to the faith of a person. At healing. Now this is not an attempt to say how God must act for he is free to act as he sees fit. At any time in any place and he does nor is it an attempt to deemphasize or explain away the miraculous Not at all. There are many events in scripture that do not take place through the created order. Most notably the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus. We cannot place God into a box and control his activity but we do need to realize that he usually acts through creation rather than contrary to it acts within the created order. No less an act of God Now does this mean we should or should. Should or should not expect miracles. We should expect miracles I meant surely. But let me risk understanding by saying that it is probably unfair to expect the miraculous all the time on the other hand we should be aware of the possibility of the miraculous and be open. Of course to the way God works his surprises the way he wants to work in allies clearly got However God does not normally choose to suspend the creation order. There is an order to life and still God is involved with us and he does it through his created order. Now this interrelation these six points teach us and show us that the interrelation of God in humans is extremely far reaching. We cannot separate God from the events of our lives just cannot what happens in a person's life may not have been caused by God but God is involved. Certainly involved. He shares in our joys and he also shares in our sufferings he provides He instructs and he calls the real issue is not so much who caused an event as it is how our relation with God is shapes or shapes our response to that particular event. And the matter what happens. He is still Lord God and still sovereign now questions about God's role in our lives tend to come into sharp focus when we face issues of prosperity or and tragedy. Now most religions attempt to help people escape the plight of the human condition sin and fear and poverty and degradation and meaninglessness a future judgment. Some of the ways to bargain with God Do these particular things and you'll be forgiven when this thing and you'll be protected keep these rules and all will be well and in a more modern framework send one hundred dollars to send this T.V. program and God will bless you. More than he's ever done before. It would be difficult to imagine a religion that did not offer the prospect of a better life for its adherents Christians are motivated by the same concerns as everybody else people frequently turn to Christ because of fear and guilt and expect God to make their lives better and to make their lives more meaningful and there is nothing wrong with these motives or desires. The only difficulty in approaching God to make life better is the way we define the word better the word better and how we expect it to be achieved. Do we expect God to change things so that we don't have to deal with the problems all the problems people that we have to face or encounter do we expect some type of insurance policy that prevents tragedy other things we can do or doctrines we can believe that in shua prosperity in the Bible seems to. Imply that prosperity is the reward of believers and that tragedy is the judgment of God. Old Testament history tells how Israel prospers all languages politically and economically directly in relationship to whether she was a beating or disobedient the right as a Jew to run a me and proverbs repeatedly teach that obedience results in prosperity and that this obedience leads to poverty. You can lead you can regenerate on the chapter eight twenty eight as an example examples abound as well. Of individuals blessed by God because of their faith people like him. People like Joseph people like Daniel and even job. Both before and after his suffering examples of judgement on the disobedient just as plentiful you've got the sons of Korra taken Absalom Ahab and jazz about it other parts of the Bible prevent now drawing any conclusions about prosperity always being God's blessing or tragedy being God's judgement the Bible is full of people who were prosperous though they were ungodly and they were cheats. We think of Jacob at least he was a cheat to begin with. Laban Zacchaeus the rich fool in Jesus story and the nations of Assyria and Babylon while the Bible views wealth as a blessing in some contexts wealth is seen in others as a burden making it difficult to enter the Kingdom of God Jesus said in Matthew nineteen twenty three and twenty four. It's easy to go through and out of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and still other text denounce the rich and famous six. Luke six twenty four James five one through six. There are also numerous people who are were righteous and yet they will pull all the victims of tragedy job was a gentleman by the name and neighbor if there was Lazarus there was Mary there was Paul and it was even Jesus Himself the Psalmist's and the prophet have a kick often lament that the unrighteous are the ones getting ahead. Remember us in Psalms thirty seven. Tells us not to fret because of the the the process the prosperity of the wicked tired friend. And the Psalms frequently a prayer is of God's people from Rep of rescue from distress. So therefore with these things in mind the Bible does not allow us to view prosperity simply as either. A right of Christians or I reward from God Neither does it allow us to view tragedy is simply something from which Christians a promise deliverance or as a judgment from God. Now when tragedy occurs carefully valuation possibly will lead to some answers as to why the event occurred but we must be prepared. We must be prepared to live with it with unresolved questions we call a pole right over in First Corinthians chapter thirteen and verse eleven. This is commonly known as the Love Chapter First Corinthians chapter thirteen in verse eleven notice. Paul said when I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child but when I became a man I put away childish things verse twelve for now we see in a mirror dimly now we see through a glass darkly as the King James says. But then we will see face to face. Now I know in pot but then I shall know just as I also am. Do we understand everything that takes place around us to understand everything that's happening in our lives right now right here the Bible says Paul wrote. We only see in pot. Now we see through a glass dimly you see. And at the same time however some tragedy may legitimately be seen as judgment in fact sin brings us own judgment a person who lives a violent life or to not be surprised to encounter violent if so fishless to see fullness lead people. Lead into poor relation. Chip's sin is to be shunned like the plague therefore not only because it's wrong but also because of the hard consequences. Ultimately Paul said in Romans six twenty three the wages of sin is is death. So General enemy and proverbs are right to connect obedience and prosperity wise and right living. Ah necessary for a happy life but they do not guarantee a happy life and we cannot say less than general anime and proverbs but we can say more when tragedy accuse there may be numerous factors that are the cause we may be the victim of someone else's sin like the marriage. That was destroyed because of the husband's or wife's addiction to pornography all the child that was born with an incurable disease because of a mother's drug habit or the young lives that are ruined through the sex trade because of the come the verse aspirations of greedy men and women tragedy may result from ignorance as when a child climbs a high voltage WIA it may result from negligence or malice. It may result from a whole society that has gone awry. For example the Holocaust with the Jews. We live in a world where tragedy occurs for numerous reasons and one is one where we where it is sometimes within our power both as individuals and as a society to prevent some tragedies in a fallen world tragedy just happens whether the victim is Christian or non-Christian whether the person is living a holy life a living a life of sin. The important thing for Christians. However in the midst of tragedy is not so much that to be able to explain why it is happening but to determine what it means to live and hope and in Christ in the presence of the tragedy that's that's the call of a Christian but we shouldn't forget poll the poll and how the New Testament writers view. Some suffering even as positive. That's right. Positive some suffering can be the means of identifying with Christ in Philippians three verse ten Paul said I want I desire to know Christ the power of His resurrection and also his sufferings that was his desire it can also be a means of solidarity with the suffering of with other people and the New Testament teaches that we can all be followers of Jesus without identifying with suffering. None of us chooses suffering on the contrary we run as far away from it as possible but Christians must know that that there are borders beyond which we cannot run those borders are determined by the cross of Jesus Christ we think of for example an individual that we know well Nelson Mandela during South African apartheid his commitment to right and solidarity with his people would not allow him to seek an easy way out. Now he had his faults he had his problems but he had solidarity with his people and the same borders are in place for each one of us we cannot relinquish the truth of God's word nor can we go back on people that we have been called to serve and to help the cross that Christians bear is the suffering they willingly and in the service of Jesus Christ in Jesus farewell discourse given just before his arrest and death on the cross he promised his disciples something profound in the midst of praying and reading John sixteen verse thirty three these things Jesus said I've written to you. I've spoken to you rather that in me. You may have pathos in me. You may have peace in the world you'll have tribulation. But be of good Chia I have come the world. What is Jesus offer us in the midst of trial in the midst of suffering in the midst of pain he offers us his peace. The office us his peace the peace that passes all understanding Christians can know peace in the midst. Pain because they experience the presence of Christ in their lives and because they have a hope for the future for this reason among others the early Christians even rejoiced about this suffering and we can sometimes rejoice in the midst of our suffering as well. Nine both our prosperity and both are tragedy. God is present with us for in him. The Bible says we live and we move and we have been but the place where Christians most look long look most longingly for God's active involvement is in the area of health actually not just Christians but people in general but when someone we love and someone we know suffers we look to God to work a miracle to the liver us from our elements. Now some Christians teach the gospel perform a miracle of healing. If we only believe enough or we all the right person prays for us can have that person pray we need minimal holy person this one right here is in some versions of the formula can be heard on several religious T.V. shows one preacher moves down a line of individuals. He touches each person on the head. He says Take whatever you need take a miracle. Another says send money as a safe as seed faith in God will bless you and still worse. Another tells people not to go to doctors if they feel for all they need is faith in Jesus a result of such teaching is often paying grief and guilt resulting from fear that we are responsible for our suffering because we lack the faith to be cured the assumption that Christians ought never be ill is wrong. Are Christians immune from causes of illness should righteous Christians never die to be human is to be physically vulnerable to pain to injury to illness to aging and even to death if Jesus doesn't come back first. Now it is true however that God wants us to prosper and be in health even. As our souls Prof prosper. John wrote that in one of his little letters three John two and it's also true that God has provided guidelines for healthy a living. You can read the Leviticus sixteen and Proverbs twenty three and you can even read Matthew six where Jesus says Don't stress out. Don't stress out. You say so that when employed. When we employ these principles in our lives. The risk of disease is reduced and the quality of life is is is is increased there is no doubt that God would not choose sickness for his people is no doubt about that but the realities of evil and sickness can be more complex and involved than we initially think sickness may and does have many number of causes and there is aging there is environmental factors there is genetic factors and who knows what else and knowing this however is not an excuse to eat what you want to eat to drink what you want to drink to live as you please you understand God wants us to offer his body bodies as a living sacrifice for him and God perform miracles and God perform miracles. Many Christians even some of the Protestant Protestant forefathers Luther and Calvin and some of them have built they believed and there are Christians that believe the miracles stopped happening at the death of the Apostles around eighty sixty eight but God does not fit into the boxes that we create for him his free to work in any way he sees fit. But it is wrong for us to expect him to follow some mechanical formula or to simply wave some magic wand to solve our problems. Faith is a significant factor in healing but it is neither i guarantee nor that neither is a magic potion God is involved in any healing process as he is involved in all aspects of our lives when we will and we are sick and we cannot get better. Wish we should do what the Bible encourages us to do in James five fourteen call the L.D.S. have them come let. Them pray of you let them anoint you with oil a symbol of consecration priority for them in the prayer of faith shall save the sick. Certainly we should take advantage of the natural means that God has given to us and medical assistance available God usually works through secondary means suffering should be shared as well by the church and if we restored to health. We should give God thanks and live for his honor and glory. All of us. However have to deal unless Jesus comes back first with the reality of death and the transitory transitory character of life if we're not restored to health. Our only intention can be like poles and Philippians one twenty to twenty six to glorify God with both our lives and deaths. We don't choose death it comes as a none want wanted visita resisted to the very last moment. Still we know that death is not the ultimate reality. Therefore we can glorify God Still even in death. What we have found in Christ His Holiness the wholeness that we enjoy in this life however is possible for the redemption of our bodies the redemption of all that we are still yet future while Jesus has saved us from the guilt of sin and he saving us from the power of sin ultimately he's going to deliver us from the presence of sin and this mortal shall put on immortality that we shall be changed according to the Scriptures even while we are being renewed continually spiritually However our bodies today are deteriorating by God's grace our bodies. Bodies come equipped with an astounding healing ability but they also come with aging mechanisms. The fact that the nature of the world in which we live and she was that illness become belongs to the human experience but regardless of this reality we can enjoy the wholeness that Christ gives and to witness to the wholeness of Christ Eve. In the midst of death and even the midst of suffering now the question we have to ask Is God does God assist us and does it. God our lives without question the teaching of the Bible says that he does that he absolutely does. But problems emerge when we look for God God's activity in perhaps naive ways a boxer having just beaten someone to that to a pulp and laid him on the ground and knocked him out. Exclaimed God help me beat him up a ballplayer trying to break a record says well if the man upstairs. Will Our me to get the record I'll get it for you is Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have prayed to God that they would help them kill their enemies. The problem is is that we want God to provide for us what we think we need we want him to bless what we're doing and to lead us where we want to go. But God is not our butler he's not our mate he's not our servant. He does not do for us what we expect what he expects for us to do for ourselves. He is not going to stop the universe for one of our whims and we speak about God's assistance and we speak about his guidance. It ought to be in the context of giving our lives to God's service the leading and the assistance that we seek is to enable us to fulfill our roles our God given roles in the world and in God's law state church. We need his assistance and his guidance to do His will and I don't mean we need God's merely just in choosing a college or profession more important how shall activities in life be opportunities to further God's cause whether we're an insurance agent whether we're a banker or a clerk in a store each of us needs wisdom from God about living effectively on behalf of the Kingdom of God the role that he's given us in His kingdom in this world that place where we work when we seek God's will and we should realize here too that we live by. Faith not certainty God often claim that god. People often claim that God has spoken when they have heard nothing but their own desires. We don't expect Xscape the effect of sin even when we are trying to serve God when it comes to asserting what is the will of God We need to exercise humility and we need to exercise caution in when we want God's will. It is possible for us to miss it. We may find the task of discerning God's will to be quite difficult and usually identifying the will of God is much easier in retrospect than it is in the process of trying to make a decision. Hindsight is twenty twenty isn't it. We make we have to make some difficult decisions at times. What is God's will. How is he leading me what does he want me to do where Right. When we see God's provision from the needs and his leading and his assistance and allows us find to do that we ought to do that but we need to distinguish between our own selfish desires and our dependence upon God all of our lives are the be lived in him in accordance with His purpose and on the basis of who he is and only then there is meaning in our lives as God establishes as according to the sama some ninety seven thing as God establishes the work of our hands friends we all need to become a lot wiser in the way we think about God God is both sovereign and he is at times silent. God is silent when he allows our free will to be exercised when he allows nature and even sin to run its course when he gives people over to their own choices or even when we are going through an experience designed to grow us and to make us more like Christ when we see that God is sovereign and we see that he is sovereign when we view creation. When we view other climactic events in the history of salvation. Such as the Exodus the Incarnation the resurrection Pentecost. We look forward to the second coming of Jesus. We see prophecy being fulfilled because God's view of the future is incredible. God is sovereign and we see this in all of these things but God is sovereign also in other ways as he works in and through us and through the created order. God is sovereign and he often surprises us and moves us in ways that we did not expect God is still in control. God is still on his throne his purposes and and practices and his purposes and places all these things are being worked out according to His purpose and his will. I love what it says in patriarchs and prophets page thirty three with regard to God's sovereignty. It says the sovereignty of God involves fullness of blessing for all of God's created beings. That's the sovereignty of God It's designed to be a blessing to all of God's created beings. You know the very way we conceive of the question of how God involves himself in our world sometimes maybe wrong. We separate God from ourselves and we ask whether he is sovereign or if he is not if we take seriously the truth of being a child of God being in Christ we ought not separate ourselves or God from ourselves or ourselves from God The unity of God and His people is a reality. God is sovereign for in Him we miss move and live and we have our being. He works in us and through us to establish in our lives and fulfill his purposes. One more Bible verse for you. I'd like to read Psalms fifty seven fifty seven verse two God works with his people through His people and he's actually fulfilling all things for his people the accomplishment of his purpose for the glorification of his character for his imminent return Psalms fifty seven and those two are lost Bible text for this morning and he says this is this is the. And he says I will cry to God Most High to God who walk friends. Performs all things for me. God performs all things for you. God performs all things for His Church. You see the real question is not whether God is active or passive whether God is sovereign of silent whether God is a sovereign question is whether the whether we are active or passive in a bang him in a bang his word the ambiguity is caused by the freedom given by God the freedom of humans and the nature of sin in the world we live in results in often Jule responses. We both praise and we protest and both can be legitimate. While we are assured of God's goodness we do not accept the legitimacy of evil. It is an invader into God's good creation and prayer not your friend not to neighbor but prayer is a place. Our concern should be expressed most honestly we must praise God's unsearchable ways with poll or protest with the Psalmist why when things do not go the way we expected them to go there is both reliance on God and active searching for God on our part. God is sovereign and he is silent when people are victimized by evil or even while they are relying on God They have a right to protest the evil and other people who perpetrate the evil when people are hounded by disease like cancer even while owning death and God's peace. They don't have to like sickness and they don't have to like day off when someone is killed or dies there is no way to tell the family that they have to accept the fact of death and that there is no place for grief. We had a grieve with them as we look toward the resurrection people can protest Christians can protest and and QUESTION But they must also know that guy. God is identified God is identified with this suffering world in Christ and although at times he seems distance. God is active in our lives and he still brings peace to people in the midst of tying back to my story. I spent a year in a stride found my way find my way to Canada back to Canada. Again God opened up an opportunity for us to minister and work there something that would never have happened if we never waned in the midst of all of these experience that Jen and I went through in the midst of all this trial. God gave me. Jennifer and I'm just who had an understanding hot to white for me into like a figure this thing out. He provided me with a family to house me in a bag and this is an amazing story because I stick to canvas and so Christian literature and I canvassed one summer with a girl who lives near Montreal Quebec and it was her family that I ended up staying with God sort of alone. He sort of all along a young man in that family needed to buy a car and so I bought my car so I could buy a ticket to get back to Australia. It gave me an opportunity when I went back home to Australia to encourage my brother into the Lord and he came and joined me in Canada and he gave his life to Jesus and was baptized God opened doors to ministry that impacted many lives and expand He also gave genocide experience and the strength that that and the concept of the idea that we can enjoy with by God's grace. We can enjoy anything he brings our way it was a tough experience it was a difficult time but through it all. God was hearing my purpose. God was hearing all through it all. God was with us. Leading and guiding. Working miracles at the moment where I felt God was the most silent. He was still sovereign God on his own. With poll and as well that I could cite. But with poll like and I hope that you'll join me in a way that we know that all things work together for good. To those who love God and those who are cold. According to his purpose in your life right now. Remember he is still God he still cares for you in Him we live we move. To help. To encourage me to achieve all things work together for good to those who love God and cold. According to his purpose as we close the worship. We're going to sing him Number twenty one. We're going to talk about the invisible God and the only wise God we sing that's him. Number twenty one is our courses come on out. Please stand for closing him him twenty one Immortal Invisible God only life. Yes. Yes St Mary's Sure sure. When Let's pray together. Oh Lord. We thank you. That even in those moments where you seem the most silent. Hidden from all of you. You are suffering God on your throne caring for us loving us working out your great purposes in plans to fulfill the great end of the glorification of your character in the lives of your people for the end of sin the reign of terror and the establishment of eternal happiness and pace. Oh Lord. Thank you for being our God. Thank you that you are God and we let you and we want to let you be God in our lives. It's true that life can be complex at times we have questions us not always simple and it's OK to come to God without questions it's OK to come to him without concerns and even though God may not explain to us everything right away. Jen and I still have questions about that whole experience still. But we could see looking back you were unfolding of your will and your plan for us and all alone. You were good all along you had a purpose and plan in mind all along you were growing up and trying and testing us all along you would leading us closer to your side all along you were seeking to lead us to glorify your name in our lives. A lot by this B.X. perience every day even though we do not understand everything do not have a like westerns on said by this question beyond said that we can trust you. God. We can trust you with our lives will bless and keep us we pray as we seek to live you live for you and serve you in this day and age in preparation for your soon return and we pry all of this and we give you. Thanks in Jesus powerful marvelous and mighty nine. Men.

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