The Place of Suffering in Your Spiritual Growth - merge

Faith Church October 13, 2007 Romans 8:17-35

 

Introduction:

-  We’re coming to a close on our series in our Worship Service:  Reaching New Heights in our Ability to Grow!

- we’ve been continuing our study of Romans in the worship service with the goal to further APPLY the subject to our lives as an ABF, as families, as individuals!

1. Remember, a key principle we've always tried to follow:  We meet people where they are, but then we help them take the next spiritual step!

- i.e. we expect people to be growing and changing – that’s the NORM, not the exception!

* Our Key Verse in this type of thinking is based on: [Somebody quote it?]

  • NAB Psalm 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

- footsteps implies progress . . . we’re moving, we’re making progress along the way

Input: What ministry opportunities have you had recently to help someone grow?  [Maybe you encouraged them, prayed with them, sent them a card/letter/phone call…]

* Key Principle: Either you are growing or you’re not growing!

2.  Finish this statement:  Christianity is a religion of ACTION! – in other words, God wants us to DO something with our faith!

3.  This whole process is called:  Progressive Sanctification = the doctrine of spiritual growth

Input: Why is this so important for a church, ABF, family, individuals? [various answers]

  • God expects/commands us to grow (2 Peter 3:18)
  • A ‘branch’ genuinely connected to the “Vine” (John 15) will bear fruit – it we’re not growing, something is wrong!
  • Greater effectiveness is built on greater spiritual growth
  • Ultimately, God is gloried as we become more like His Son in the way we think/act

4.  The *Focus last week:  Finding Security in Your Salvation – Rom. 8:12-17

* We studied 4 characteristics of a person who truly knows the Lord.

  I.  You Are Putting to Death the Deeds of the Body – v. 12-13.

- in other words, over time your lifestyle is characterized by personal holiness that is evident to everybody around you...

Point:  *  Our bodies are NOT intrinsically SINFUL; our bodies are intrinsically WEAK and EASILY HABITUATED!

II. Your Changed Life is Obviously Supernatural in Nature.

- Jesus made the Christian Life a point of dependence upon Him:

  • John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

III. You are Experiencing Growing Intimacy with the Father.

* Here’s a summary of what we tried to communicate:

  • We know that Jesus is involved in the process because we’re united to Him
  • We know that the Holy Spirit is involved because we can walk in Him
  • We know the Father is involved because we are adopted by Him!

abba’ = lit.  translated “pappa” or “daddy”

-  we took some time to think about what a tender and intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father looks like in practical terms?

IV. The Holy Spirit Confirms the Genuineness of Your Faith.

- To some degree we all struggle with being a ‘fraud’ but ultimately we don’t stay there – we GROW – that’s the whole point of this series!

- our ABF study focuses on:  The Place of Suffering in Your Spiritual Growth – Rom. 8:17-25

Input: Why is this a subject that most Christians want to avoid?

- it reminds us of the depravity of man and his sinful heart

- we sometimes focus on the benefits of Christianity and not the reality of it

- it could happen to us and we don’t want to think about it or have to deal with it!

- let’s consider the following truths about suffering

  I.  The Presence of Suffering

Q: Where did suffering begin?

- the seeds were planted in Gen. 3 when Adam sinned and the curse of sin entered

- it continued in Gen. 4 when Abel was murdered by his brother Cain (probably jealous that Abel’s offering was accepted and his was rejected!).

Input:  What are some examples of suffering (physical & spiritual) in the life of Christ?

- Let’s divide this up into 2 parts:

Physical Aspect:

  • The mocking speech directed toward Him
  • The lies told about Him
  • The attempt to stone Him (John 10)

Spiritual Suffering

  • Separation from the Father
  • Matthew 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"
  • He became sin for us who knew no sin
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Input: What should be our response to these truths about our Lord suffering?

  • Gratitude
  • Motivation for serving Him!!
  • Boldness (because of the next question . . .)

Input: If Jesus suffered in His life, and we are His followers, what does that say about our lives?

Answer:  We should anticipate it in our lives!

Input: What are some ways our brothers/sisters are suffering around the world?

Example: Voice of the Martyrs (get the magazine!!! READ IT!! It’s awesome)

- Moldova – the students at the College of Theology and Education (many from Muslim countries/families – kicked out of their homes, could face persecution when they return

Input: What are some ways we can face suffering in our culture?

- some may mock you or ridicule you

- others may be shown favoritism because they not believers

- motives questioned for what you do

  •  2 Timothy 3:12 - Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Input: What should be our attitude toward suffering on behalf of Christ?

- it’s a privilege

- it is a demonstration of our union with Him

  • Philippians 3:10 That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

know’ = a Greek word that has the idea of knowledge based on personal experience (i.e. knowledge gained from actually being there, experiencing it!)

- all this would be meaningless unless we understand . . .

II. The Purpose of Suffering.

Overall principle: Suffering produces glory.

Key:  Romans 8:17 If indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

glory = from a Hebrew word which means ‘opinion’

- to give glory to God means to give the right opinion of God

Input: How can suffering give the right opinion of God in the following areas?

1.  Material Things:  To reduce your love for the world that is passing away.

- the loss of ‘things that pass away with time has a way of reminding you about eternity

- trials/suffering can also motivate us to think about what Jesus has prepared for us in the future (John 14:1-7)

2.  Your Spiritual Growth:  To help you focus on the inner man.

- suffering can reveal what’s going on inside your heart . . . which eventually comes out!

- and since that is where the nuts and bolts of the change process occur, you should view suffering as your friend...

3. Your Relationship with God:  To draw you closer to the Lord of grace.

- you will learn to depend on Him – ask Him for GRACE and strength and wisdom in how you respond!

4. Ministry to Others: To prepare you to help others who are suffering.

- Jesus knows what we’re going through because He went through every form of temptation (Heb. 4:15)

- we ought to be more sensitive to the needs of others as God helps us to grow

Input: Can you give an example of a time when you experienced an example of ‘suffering’ (no matter what the scale, major or minor) and what God taught you through that time of trial?

III. The Perspective of Suffering

- as is the case with any area of our lives, how we think about a situation, or what goes on in our hearts, eventually determine how we ACT!

Input: What are some other passages that would help you keep the right perspective during a time of suffering?

  • Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 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.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

IV. The Patience of Suffering

- I’m not even sure I know how to say that word or spell it: P – A – T – I – E – N – C – E

- let’s face it, we don’t like ‘suffering’ (and I’m not saying we have to . . . but we do have to see the big picture and ‘wait on the Lord’

- let’s close with think about this question:

Key Question:  Which would you rather have, immediate relief from the suffering, or the glory that comes from responding to the suffering well?

Conclusion:

- Pray for those who are going through trials/suffering that they would keep their focus on the Lord, His glory, following His Word

- Pray for FBC to be sensitive to the needs of those around us who are hurting!

Faith Church