This Week's Gospel Sermons
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September 19, 2010
“B” Student – #3
“B” Alert and “B” Strong
Saved, holy, and transformed peoplearen’t guaranteed an easy time in life. In fact, we are warned that we will suffer hardships. There were early Christians who were imprisoned for their faithfulness. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10).
How can we overcome difficulties? Do the right thing! Peter discusses suffering for doing the right thing. “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1Peter 1:20-21). See how Peter ties this with our being holy and separate from the world around us? “For you have been called for this purpose.”
Troubles sometimes arise from within as well as from without. The apostle Paul ties this together with being saved, being devoted, and being in subjection when he writes the first Corinthian letter:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints), that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors. I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.” (1Corinthians 16:13-18).
So many people think that being strong and acting like men means to be overpowering and sometimes harsh. To the contrary, notice that Paul says being alert and strong as a man should be means being devoted and knowing our place. It means caring about others, working with others, and respecting others in the work for God. We must work together to be strong and be alert for, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1Peter 5:8‑9). How often do we thank God for our fellow Christians?
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:12-17).
What a powerful passage of scripture! When we are saved (“just as the Lord forgave you”), separated (“holy and beloved” and “called in one body”), transformed (“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you”), devoted (“put on a heart of compassion …”), and in subjection (“do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”), we had better be thankful. Certainly, God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3) and “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17).
A well-known song often sung tells us to, “count your blessings, name them one by one.” In truth, if we were to try and make a list of everything that the Lord has done, we could never finish. However, we ought to make the effort. It is one of the ways God has provided to help us be alert and strong. The song also reminds us, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, do not be discouraged thinking all is lost.”
There is not a much worse physical distress than being a leper, especially being a leper in the first century. Luke, in his gospel, recounts a story of one who was in physical discomfort and a social outcast — a leper (Luke 17:11-19). Actually there were ten of these men. Jesus healed them, but only one returned to thank Him. Jesus asked, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they?” Are we the one, or one of the nine? Are we thankful for our cleansing? Are we thankful for our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we thankful for our physical families and other physical blessings, too?
Paul gives us some very concise admonitions. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18). God wants us to be happy and rejoice. God wants us to be thankful. When we truly see and appreciate what God has done for us we will have no reason for worry and apprehension.
“B” Anxious for Nothing
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27).
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25).
These statements by Jesus show us the importance of placing our trust in God — a trust not just based in this life, but more importantly based in the life to come. When we see what He has done for us in this life, when we know that He has provided the means for us to be saved from our sins, when we realize that we are transformed by His word, and when we understand that we can be part of His devoted family, then what could there possibly be to be anxious about?
Think back to where we began this short study. God gave us His Son so that we might be saved. He gave His word to transform our lives. When we think about all of these wonderful things that He has done for us, how could we have time to think of anything else?
We want to conclude with a passage of scripture penned by the apostle Paul as he wrote his letter to the Philippians. Look closely at the “Bs” we find here in the people at Philippi — there are the saved, who are holy, transformed, devoted, in subjection, strong, and certainly anxious for nothing.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:1-9).
This describes true disciples of the Lord, students, if you will. Are we the meeting the standards as His students?
— S. Scott Richardson Sr.