There is one prevailing truth which the Bible keeps reminding Christians about, that is our eternal fellowship with God. This is not just our destiny, but it is also our longing. We were created with a sense of eternity in our hearts, which can only be realized in actuality when we behold God on the last day and enter into eternal fellowship with God. In this passage, the Apostle Paul explains why and how we need to keep groaning for our eternal home, which is God Himself.
Christian life is not devoid of suffering. It is not always filled with happiness. Christian life involves suffering because of the sin we carry with us, and also the sin and evil we see around us. Sometimes, this reality of suffering and hardship can be daunting. But this is where a great comfort lies, because it is God who enables us to persevere, assuring us that our suffering is momentary. In this passage, we learn how to endure suffering with eternity in mind.
We’ve often heard a cliché about the necessity of leaders being ’empathetic’ and ‘humble’ towards people. But how does a leader cultivate such character qualities to serve people well? The Bible says that only the gospel of Jesus Christ enables leaders to have a heart of humility. In this passage, we learn how gospel authenticates and produces genuine humility in a leader through the path of suffering, so that he displays character qualities like Christ did.
‘Decree’ literally means to order something that comes to pass. Christianity rests on the truth about God’s eternal decrees concerning the salvation of men, and controlling all that happens in this universe. Everything is predestined by God. As R.C Sproul once said – “What predestination means, in its most elementary form, is that our final destination, heaven or hell, is decided by God not only before we get there, but before we are even born. It teaches that our ultimate destiny is in the hands of God.” In this sermon, we meditate on the doctrine of God’s Sovereign and unconditional election which was decreed much before the world began.
Elisabeth Elliot on suffering once said ― “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.” This needs to be the response of every Christian in times of suffering, because hardships are inevitable in this life. In this passage, we learn how suffering should enable us to trust in God, an expression of our humility and dependency on Him alone.
Suffering is a universal experience and an inevitable part of our lives. The world suggests us to flee suffering at all costs, so we are provided with millions of solutions everyday to get rid of suffering. However, according to the Bible, God doesn’t want us to avoid or flee from suffering but to embrace it for the greater purpose. In this passage, we learn the purpose of suffering in Christian life, and how God uses it in the lives of others so that ultimately He is glorified in and through our suffering.
There are many obstacles in our lives that keep us from giving our full attention to God’s mission. Deep down we’re not as passionate as God is, to serve others. Our lives are mostly surrounded by career, family, entertainment, vacation etc. This is why the passage calls us to make sacrifices in our lives so that we can serve others who need Christ. This passage also calls us to suffer just like Christ, in order to reach people with good news of the gospel.
We often define happiness based on how successful we are in our endeavors. If things in life are not as desired, then we will not be happy. But Jesus does not define happiness based on the good things that happen in our lives, he defines happiness even when bad things happen to us. He presents a counter-intuitive perspective on having a happy life. Listen to the sermon to find out.