Monday, June 03, 2013

Suffering well

Jane and I attended a church not too far from our house yesterday (Fellowship). We have been there before. It's a big church, with three services, and it's easy to just sort of slip in and out. I don't really care for the music. It has a more "urban" feel to it. I understand this is where they are, so I'm okay with it, but it's not my style. I do like the preaching though. Yesterday the senior pastor was there and I was glad to see that he wore nice slacks and a button down shirt (tucked in). I am all for casual dress, but I'm a bit tired of seeing pastors all dress the same nowadays (shirt untucked, blue jeans, etc.). Anyway, it was a pretty good experience and the sermon really spoke to where I was at. It wasn't what I would consider a fantastic sermon - as far as "wow factor" - but just a nice, solid, biblical message that I really needed to hear. Nothing fancy, but timely.

They are preaching through the passages to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. This week was Revelation 3:7-13 to the church in Philadelphia, what they called the "enduring church."  The title of the message was "Suffering Faithfully."

Point one was: There is a difference between suffering and suffering well. All of us are going to suffer, and we have to choose if we are going to turn away from God, or to God. As the pastor said, "You never understand that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have."

Point two was: Suffering can either be a greenhouse where faith grows, or a desert where faith dies. This followed the train of thought of the first point.

Point three was: God can send a message out of a mess; and God can give a testimony out of a test. The pastor posed the question, "What if our greatest platform to testify to God's grace is when we lose (or when things go wrong), rather than when we win (or things go well)?"

Point four was: What you stand to gain as you endure suffering will far eclipse whatever you might have lost.

Three quotes I wrote down at the end were:
  • From v.11, and something a man shared with him during a personal struggle once... "Never let anybody steal your crown."
  • A quote from A.W. Tozer: "It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly until he hurts him deeply." 
  • And... "Hold on." Rather than telling people things will get better, or that "everything happens for a reason" and things like that... We need to simply come alongside one another and encourage one another to "hold on." We're all going to suffer, but not forever.
Well, the sermon was much better than my notes. Again, nothing I didn't know or hadn't heard before, but just something good to hear again. I was glad we went there. I have to admit, I really didn't feel like going to a church service anywhere. But I don't want to go there. I think it makes a difference, and it's so easy to get out of the habit. We did wait and go to the 11:30 service though. My stomach was growling about halfway through. It was nothing a trip to Spyro's couldn't cure though.