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Posts Tagged ‘why suffer’

LOVE CONQUERS #3AMLove Conquers Combined 150 ppi

Love is the most powerful force on earth. If you have experienced God’s love that won’t be too hard for you to swallow! When we talk about God’s love and God’s love in people, we have a history of actions and world events that shape the destinies and lives of many. God’s love for mankind shown through the cross and resurrection of Jesus gives us the most powerful picture of God’s love in action.

Throughout life most people at some time will suffer in some way. We may suffer injustice and we may suffer the pain of circumstances beyond our control. The range of suffering is vast and for some the suffering is great in comparison to the majority. Nevertheless just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one’s own suffering is held to be more significant than that of others in many cases.

Have you suffered? My suffering is small compared to many. My first brush with suffering was when at 7 years old my dad died. For whatever reason I never considered it a kind of suffering. It was just life, process it, change and adjust to the new normal. Later at age 24 a sickness made me lose all my hair overnight. That seemed a bit more like suffering, although many others saw it as a minor distraction, it was tough on my self-image. Later experiences of betrayal and accusation in the ministry role were my real chance to love and forgive and make my suffering a place of growth. Over the years Christian brothers have defrauded me of large amounts of money and that felt like suffering. Yet I have always ended up stronger and more in love with Jesus through these experiences because Love Conquers. Have you suffered?

Listen to what Paul says about suffering; Phil 3:10

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.(NKJV)

Perspective is paramount in understanding suffering. When we see a young child trying to walk and they fall and skin their knee, the resulting cries portray a world of suffering that the baby may not understand. Yet the nurturing mother and the practical father say, “Come on, get up have another try. Soon you will be walking.” When the child grows, the pain that was suffered in learning how to walk is long forgotten in favour of the value of walking, running and winning a gold medal or whatever great things lie ahead to be achieved. Similarly we, as little children in God’s plan, may not have all the right perspective on the why and how of the suffering that we experience. God knows all things and His perspective is eternal and complete and His love is deep, forgiving and wise for our good and the His Kingdom to prevail.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Let’s look at the story of Stephen – Stephen Is Arrested – Acts 6:8-15

8 Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. 9 But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke. 11 So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, “We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God.” 12 This roused the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council. 13 The lying witnesses said, “This man is always speaking against the holy Temple and against the law of Moses. 14 We have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth[c] will destroy the Temple and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”  15 At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.

Chap 7

Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these accusations true?” ……

54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honour at God’s right hand!” 57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. (NLT)

The story of Stephen is about the very first Christian Martyr. He was so passionate about following Jesus and had served Christ and lived wholeheartedly for Him. But the Jews hated him and this new religion that had sprung up was a major threat to the Jewish Status Quo. Stephen probably had a wife and maybe children. Imagine the world of pain that his murder created. Many men and women have willingly laid down their lives for a cause. Perhaps Stephen was no different. But that doesn’t assuage the pain felt by those who suffer the stones or those left behind.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

If you want to talk about suffering, you better ask Jesus. He suffered greatly with the agony of the cross and the injustice of what happened to the Son of the Living God. This suffering was necessary and endured by love. As Stephen suffered a painful and early death his eyes were fixed on Jesus. His heart was filled with love for his accusers, as evil as they were. He overcame in death because love conquers. He could have died a bitter man and with no reward and no fruit, but Stephen died rejoicing and without pain as he saw the face of Jesus and those around him said his face was that of an angel. Right there at his death stood Saul the Christian killer who later would turn to Christ and become the greatest apostle of them all.

Would you trade your suffering for the will of God if you knew it would change the world? Yet sometimes we just don’t know; but love conquers.

As Jesus suffered on the cross, His agony was complete, yet he didn’t move from suffering to hate or retribution but cried out in love “Forgive them for they know not what they do”. He bore the whole weight of sin and sickness for mankind and he overcame because Love Conquers.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Testimony – Corrie Ten Boom http://youtu.be/Ue8msG9HgDM

The story of Corrie Ten Boom is if a Dutch woman who, with her family, were Christians, and sheltered Jewish people during the Nazi occupation of Holland during WWII. Her whole family were caught and arrested. Corrie and her sister were imprisoned in a concentration camp where Betsy died only 12 days before Corrie was released.  Later when Corrie was moving around Germany preaching the Gospel in post war times, she encountered a former German guard who had become a Christian and approached her to ask forgiveness. Her suffering and injustice were palpable but Jesus enabled her to forgive and receive God’s love because LOVE CONQUERS.

Where have you been wronged? Who has robbed you and committed injustice against you? You can go to your grave a bitter person and gain no reward or you can love and forgive and change your future and maybe the future of many others. To suffer wrong or injustice is hard and painful but God turns the pain into a crown when you let love conquer.

Matt 5:11-12

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.(NLT)

I want to grab your mind and heart today, because some of you here have suffered and you feel it’s unjustified. You’re mad at God or you’re mad at people. But today there’s freedom for you if you hear my message. Love conquers.

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

God uses suffering and injustice to bring about change and growth and His overall purpose. If it seems hard to understand or take it, remember Love Conquers.

Stephen loved his killers and accusers and his death a great victory in touching Saul.

Jesus loved His killers and torturers and it proved His obedience and gave the whole world the pathway for salvation.

1 Peter 3:13-18

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! 18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.(NLT)

When we suffer injustice we walk in His shoes and the power of Christ lives in us because LOVE CONQUERS.

Phil 3:10

10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!(NLT)

It’s extra hard to handle injustice when it’s meted out to you by your very own family or Christian brothers and sisters.

Love Conquers. Let God’s love soften your heart. You can go the grave bitter, angry and planning retribution; but if you do, you will suffer the loss of your own salvation and all the growth that comes from being like Jesus and walking in His footsteps. Let love Conquer today, let God’s love get in, forgive your accusers and your enemies. Bless them that do you harm, be like your heavenly father and live because love Conquers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Obviously suffering is painful, yet it seems so hard to endure, why do you think that is so?

2. How often have you considered a tough time and thought maybe God doesn’t care?

3. What if the real reason for suffering or injustice was to see a big change like the change Stephen saw as Saul came to Christ?

4. How is it that Stephen could love the Jewish leaders who killed him?

5. How can we receive God’s love and so obtain strength to love and forgive our enemies?

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