Sermon for May 23, 2021

You gotta have FAITH!

Romans 8:18-27

Life certainly has its moments.  There are some good times, and there are some bad times.  I guess some things never do change in the matter.  Charles Dickens wrote something similar in “The Tale of Two Cities” when he said, “that it was the best of times and the was the worst of times”.  That story is about two similar people where one is living in London and the other in Paris.  I would recommend that most people should read this book.  Dickens is well known for taking biblical truths and the realization of life and blends them together so beautifully.   For me, Dickens pulls from Romans 8:18-27.

Romans 8:18–27 (NIV): 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Hope can be a difficult thing to have at points in our lives.  Why?  Well, there is so much affliction, you get sick, your spouse, a parent, a relative, a friend.  Affliction hurts.  It reveals our fragility.  We deal with pain, physical, emotional, psychological, financial pain.  There are times that you will feel either you or those in your life are cursed.  You feel stuck.  Answers are delayed whether it is help from people or help from God.  Sometimes we do downright stupid things!  We do things in a moment that have lasting effects.  Our ignorance at that moment causes lasting consequences.  We search our hearts for meaning.  Sometimes our struggles seem impossibly unescapable.  Our circumstances seem unfair, and all these things zap our ability to remain hopeful.  Whether it is Dickens or the Apostle Paul, they encourage us to have faith. But how?  Because God both knows your struggle and the despair of your heart.  If this is indeed true, no matter what you think or what people think about you, if you believe that there is an Almighty God who witnesses your struggle and will eventually release you from your bondage to a place of rest, then that should give us hope, right?  But what about all my stupid screwups during my life?  Well, you can thank Jesus that those do not matter in God’s eyes anymore if you put your trust in Him.   You gotta have FAITH!

2 Corinthians 1:21–22 (NIV): 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 5:4–7 (NIV): 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

Galatians 5:3–5 (NIV): 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.

Paul had this down in his life.  In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 we read about him having this thorn in his flesh.  I have always assumed that his thorn was his eyesight, something he lost we he saw a great light and met Jesus on the way to Damascus.  There are references of him having someone else right for him in his letters and where they make an inference of his poor eyesight, so that is why I thought this was his thorn.  But reading it in Greek challenge my assumption.  Reading it in Greek points towards a different thorn.  In fact, it is a common thorn.  It is a thorn that every true minister of the Gospel struggles with.  It is a thorn that causes many ministers to quick and take on other work.  What was Paul’s thorn?  It was people!  God’s reminding of Paul that HIS grace was sufficient reminded Paul that he too should be just as graceful.  Why?  People are people.  Ministry would be easy if it were not for people.  Angry Bible thumpers be warned, beware what you shout out as the Laws of God if you forget the other parts of God’s Laws, which are love God, love people, and love yourself.  To do this properly, you must exude in exceeding amounts of grace and mercy!  We must get out of the habit of singing “Amazing Grace” if we do not celebrate and promote that God’s grace is actually AMAZING! 

FAITH means something that is not just for you to obtain, but for you to share, not just in an evangelical, promoting the name of Jesus by sharing the Gospel.  While that is important aspect, a more important sharing is just simply how you act and behave because of God’s grace towards you!  This ought to cause rejoicing in your deepest recesses of you being and if celebrate properly, would end fruitless debates, arguments, anger, and all divisive behaviors!  True faith in a God that is loving and merciful, especially one who came to die so that you could have hope, that ought to overtake our broken attitudes.  It can, but you gotta have faith!  Faith says “NO” to things that makes you the enemy.  An enemy with God and an enemy with people.  Jesus was never anybody’s enemy.  He simply gained enemies by doing good all the time and they killed him for it. Our faith in Jesus ought to imitate his behavior.  Do we?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *