How much will I suffer is not the question. I have nothing to prove.
Sermon can be heard by clicking here.
Passage: 2 Corinthians 1 & Daniel 6
Yesterdays sermon was so impacting that I asked Assistant Pastor Doug Kelley to email me some of his points that I enjoyed. I can’t say it any better than he did and I am really hoping you will all be blessed by these words God gave him.
He started off his sermon by challenging us to ask ourselves two important questions:
Does the level or degree of suffering I face have any correlation to how good a Christian I am?
Is God waiting for me to put myself out there and suffer for Him to prove my love for Him? Or to prove my worth to Him?
He went on to say,
“God uses suffering in our lives to teach us to rely on Him and not ourselves.
The level or degree of suffering I face is NOT important.
How well I perform for Him in the midst of suffering is NOT important.
The issue is whether I learn to rely on Him or myself in the midst of suffering.
God is not expecting ME to prove anything through suffering
He wants to prove HIMSELF to me through suffering.
One of the books I read while I was away is titled, ‘Jesus + Nothing = Everything’
It was written by Julian Tchividjian when he was going through a very dark and painful time of suffering.”
Contrary to what I had thought, I did not need easing of circumstances, relief from difficulty, and distance from pain in order to be free. I was learning that the freedom that Jesus secured for me is not freedom from pain and suffering here and now. Rather, it’s freedom from bitterness, anger, fear, resentment, self pity, offense, and hopelessness in the crucible of present pain and suffering; it is freedom from my burdensome sense of “I deserve better”, the encumbrance of entitlement. ~ Julian Tchividjian
Thanks so much Pastor Doug for these words. I personally love the questions you challenged us with and the quote you read. I was thinking more about Daniel and the Resurrection Power we have in God. My mom was just recently talking to me about the story of Daniel and so when Pastor Doug mentioned it briefly in his sermon I felt as though God wanted me to study it further. It amazed me how the people that were thrown in the den after he was pulled out it didn’t even hit the floor of the den before their bones were crushed.
23 The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.
24 Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den. ~ Daniel 6
We have such power through the resurrection of God and yet we still think we can do things on own own. Daniel could not have done ANYTHING to help himself in this situation. He had to rely on God. What he could or could not do was not even a question. The lions in that den were only fed people, Daniel was a person. God sent an angel to protect him and shut the lions mouths. Imagine how much they must have been salivating. Daniel didn’t ask what if, or say if only. He could not even seek to comfort himself so he sought God to save his life and provide him with comfort during this trial. Read about how worried the King was and what good it did…
17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night.
19 Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. 20 When he got there, he called out in anguish, “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?”
21 Daniel answered, “Long live the king! 22 My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.” ~Daniel 6
Daniel who just sat and prayed accomplished more than the Kings sleep loss and fasting did. The King could have ate, had is usual entertainment (whatever that was) and slept like a baby all night and it would not have changed the outcome of Daniels fate. wow.
I’ve often found that God puts me in a situation simply with the only way ‘out’ being reliance on Him. That’s when I experience growth in my intimate relationship with Him. Than others are able to see God’s power at work in my life and know that it was not about me. These situations often stress out the people in my life that are close to me. They are supportive but stressed, they worry, I worry, we lose sleep, we dialog, we challenge the ‘what ifs’ and ‘but maybes’. But after reading this story about Daniel I see how useless and pointless it all is. Our worry and dialog is not going to change the outcome if we take that step in faith but the worry and the dialog could stop us from wanting to take that step. So yeah, mom, dad don’t lose sleep over me anymore 🙂
Here’s how the story ended…
25 Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:
“Peace and prosperity to you!
26 “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.
For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. 27 He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. ~Daniel 6
If this story can’t give us confidence in God, I don’t know what can. God hasn’t changed, we have. We are not allowing God to do miracles in our lives anymore because we refuse to rely on Him. Therefore we have little confidence and stories like this seem far fetched. What are we trying to prove by not allowing God to prove Himself to us. We have nothing to prove, He has everything to prove but only through those of us who are willing to suffer. Sometimes I weigh up my losses in advance before I take a step of faith for God, but this is wrong. How much I suffer is not the point and that shouldn’t be the question. The questions should be, “Will I rely on the power of the resurrection? What am I putting my hope in? Will I allow God to comfort me? How will I allow others to suffer with me?”
in the clay,
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7