Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

The War and Me

(Part 2)

Failed expectations are the graveyard of personal faith. When Christians look for the reasons [there are more than one!] that the conversion rate is lower than it was fifty years ago or the church is not growing as it did fifty years ago, they tend to blame everything but themselves. They see evil ghosts lurking behind every bush. They blame a society that no longer favors expressions of Christian faith. They blame changes in social views. They blame the justice system. They blame globalization. They blame radical conservatives. They blame radical liberals. They long for the past and seek to revive it.

They fear the future and the additional changes it will bring. As they cry about change and blame everything that frightens them, the one thing they never blame is themselves.

In the past Christians counted on their children becoming "the next congregation of Christians." No more.

Why? Again, the are many contributing reasons. Those reasons include: the destabilization of marriage so some parents inconsistently behave one way in private and another way in public; the disassociation of the family unit--the family rarely spends time together as they learn to enjoy each other [everyone is busy doing "my own thing"]; the desire to follow a path that produces what "I" define to be pleasure; the surrender to material ambitions; the conviction that the most powerful influence in life is money; the tendency to regard Christianity as a religion of habits rather then a life; the substitution of faith in Jesus or God for faith in a movement; the death of faith.

There are many reasons for this enormous generational transition. Those just mentioned are some of the more obvious factors. May I focus you on a cause that I regard to be in my top five reasons for so many children rebelling against the convictions of their parents. That reason is failed expectations.

Faith in God does not produce the results that Christians often say it will. When something wonderful happens, we quickly call it a miracle and cite the happening as proof of divine intervention. When something terrible happens, we often ask, "Why? Why did God refuse to act on my behalf?" We go into shock when bad things happen to people we regard as good people.

  1. May we begin with Jesus at the end of his earthly life.
    1. Matthew 26:36-46 gives an account of Jesus' Gethsemane prayers he prayed just before his arrest.
      1. Basically, he prayed the same request three times--persistence.
      2. His request was simple: "If there is a way to achieve Your will without my having to die, please go the other way; but your will be done."
      3. Please understand this is a request made by an obedient son to his Father.
        1. This is a request made by a son who always did as his Father requested (see John 5:19; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49, 50; 14:10; etc.).
        2. This is a son who also prayed a lot (see Mark 13:5; Matthew 9:18, 28 14:23; Luke 5:16; 6:12).
      4. I doubt that anyone of us would think that his or her faith in God even compared to Jesus' faith in God.
    2. God can answer our prayers in at least one of three ways.
      1. He can grant our request.
        1. This is our preference.
        2. We typically regard our desire as "the best way to go" when we urgently pray about a matter.
      2. He can give us the strength to cope with the situation.
        1. When we cope, our lives continue as if the problem did not exist.
        2. We feel the irritation and inconvenience of having the problem, but our lives do not reflect the problem.
      3. He can give us the strength to endure the problem.
        1. When we endure the problem, the problem generates situations that change our lives.
        2. He gave Jesus the strength to endure his arrest and death.
        3. He gave Paul the strength to endure his thorn though this miracle worker asked three times for the thorn to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
      4. Commonly, we are not wise enough to know what is in the best interest of our eternal salvation.
        1. Many American Christians are prone to see only the immediate rather than the future.
        2. Many of us react to the inconvenience of the moment thinking only of the material rather than the spiritual.
        3. God took the horrors of Jesus' crucifixion and sealed the defeat of evil plus guaranteed all blessings found in Jesus--God took a crucifixion and made an eternal Savior.
        4. Are you not grateful for all God does through Paul's writings?
        5. God did not respond as they requested, but He responded.
        6. Their ultimate best interest resulted from His response.

  2. The irony to me is this:
    1. Christianity is founded upon suffering from its very beginning.
      1. Jesus predicted that faith in him would result in unthinkable suffering and rejection in Matthew 10:34-39.
        1. While Christ extends internal peace to those who struggle inwardly (Matthew 11:28-30), accepting his peace may result in external hardships!
        2. It certainly did among the first century Jews!
        3. It also created stern reactions from first century idol worshippers! (see Acts 19:23-28)
        4. The peace is real and internal, but the suffering took the forms of rejection, persecution, injustice, and hostility [including martyrdom] (see Hebrews 10:32-35).
      2. Death was often the price of faith.
        1. Christianity is founded on the death and resurrection of Jesus!
        2. Stephen was martyred (Acts 7:58-60).
        3. James was executed with the sword (Acts 12:2).
        4. Historical records indicate all the apostles but John died violent deaths.
        5. Paul certainly anticipated execution (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
      3. Have you read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 lately?
      4. Revelation indicates the Christians in Asia Minor questioned the survival of Christianity because opposition was so severe.
      5. The irony: how can American Christians expect Christianity to be a religion that does not experience struggle when it began and spread by Christians' reaction to struggle?
    2. Are we more concerned about our physical desires than about our eternal salvation?
      1. Do we want God to yield to our material desires if it would cost us our eternity with Him?
      2. Do we not realize how determined Satan is to cause us physical hurt because we choose to reject him and find hope in Jesus?
      3. Satan is no amateur!
        1. None of us are a match for him if we seek to oppose him alone!
        2. It seems he is continually confronting us and asking, "Do you trust Jesus this much?"
      4. Though Satan opposes us, God will always be there for us.
        1. 1 John 4:4 (in context)
          You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
        2. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (in context)
          No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
        3. Romans 8:28-39 (in context)
          And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
          1. God can use anything Satan does to us for our eternal salvation!
          2. We are God's property--He will take care of us eternally!
          3. Satan cannot accuse us as He did Job!
          4. Justification!
          5. Intercession!
          6. We cannot, without our consent, be taken from God's love!
        4. 1 John 1:9 (in context)
          If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
      5. Our salvation is not without opposition, but it is ours by God's promise if we keep our faith in Jesus Christ.

  3. The how do I prepare for opposition from Satan?
    1. I grow in awareness of where the opposition can originate.
      1. Ephesians 6:12
        For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
      2. I do not expect life to be easy if I place it in Jesus Christ!
    2. I prepare for the onslaughts of Satan.
      1. Ephesians 6:13
        Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
      2. I expect Satan to attack me, cause me pain, and test my commitment to Jesus Christ.
    3. I am personally serious about my devotion to Christ.
      1. Ephesians 6:18
        With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
      2. I am not in this battle alone! The rest of the family also faces opposition!
      3. Never is there any question of where my loyalty lies.

Expect Satan to be angry with your faith in Jesus Christ. Never blame God for the work of Satan. Never expect God to do for you what He never promised. Always know God will never abandon you. Try to constantly see God at work, and when you do not see it, never doubt that He is at work.

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