17 May 2010
Why Not Me?
WHY NOT ME AND YOU?
1 Thess 3:1-10
Do you ever sit down and ponder the question why me LORD? Why Lord! Do you allow so much pain and suffering in your children around the world. Why Lord! Do you allow me to go through despair from time to time? Why Lord! Do you put me through such pain and anguish with the people around me? Why Lord! Why?............You know! There is no easy answer to anyone of those questions. Except! Why not me? The Apostle is a great example of suffering and trials. Paul knew that trials and tribulations where part in parcel to the Christian life. The Apostle Paul knew that there was no escaping this! Why? Because Jesus said "....... I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matt 10:16.....Jesus also said “Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you......” John 15:20. Paul here in this letter (1st Thessalonians 3:1-10) has a concern and love for the believers in this faithful church (a concern for his spiritual children). Look what it says in (verse 1) “we could no longer endure it” Which literally means “I could no longer tolerate, I’m unable to continue in ignorance of how my precious converts are surviving" Which makes you ask the question..........What couldn’t you endure (tolerate anymore) Paul? Answer: Paul was very concerned for their faith and their spiritual walk! They were under heavy persecution and animosity towards Biblical Christianity (the Gospel). They were going through things we could never understand as a local church here in Canada. They were being ostracized from family, friends, and communities. This was a great concern for Paul because he couldn’t be with them for purposes of his own (1 Thess 2:18). Not only did Satan hinder Paul from coming to them.....but he also knew Satan was the Tempter (trying and testing for the purpose of causing failure!) verse 5. Paul wasn’t ignorant to Satan and his crafty methods! See for Paul to be away from his spiritual children was very unsettling (worry, disturbing, troubling) for him! It’s like: When you toss and turn all night long in bed because it’s too hot to sleep. When someone is anger at you and you want to resolve the situation and their not willing. When you worrying about that important job interview in the morning to provide for your family. When you have to take that all important 3 hour exam for school to get your grade average up. When a loved one is suffering and there is nothing you can do about it! Because you are too far away to be with them! Paul feared the worst about their faith....Paul feared that they would swap their loyalty to Christ for personal comfort! To avoid persecution. So what does Paul do? He sends Timothy! Let me ask you, why do you think Paul sent Timothy? Look what Paul says in (verse 2) Timothy was a brother: a strong spiritual brother who is saved by God’s grace; Timothy was a minister of God: a true called minister of the truth; Timothy was a fellow labour of the Gospel: a man dedicated to God and the Gospel.......You never send a baby to do a grown-ups job! Timothy was godly example and soldier of Christ and Paul had a great faith in Timothy to go comfort and encourage his spiritual children; Timothy was like a son to Paul. When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, he starts off by saying “To Timothy, a son in the faith”. Interesting to note: Only Timothy and Titus ever received this special expression from Paul, “True son” which is better translated “genuine faithful child” which emphasizes Paul’s role as spiritual father to Timothy. Paul trusted Timothy and he also knew he could handle himself if he fell into the hands of the adversary. Timothy you must go and establish and encourage my loved ones! Paul was not concerned for their: health, wealth, self esteem or your best life know! Paul was concerned for their spiritual well being.............during such hard and troubling times. See it’s so much easier to run and hide and blend in with the crowd, then to stand and face whatever comes your way! No one likes to be persecuted or face trials do they? NO! It’s not like we go out each and every day looking for persecution or troubles.....But we have to realize that is going to happen! Jesus said “fear not” Matt 10:28-33 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
I ask the question again! Why does a holy and loving God, allow us to go through such trials and tribulations in and through our Christian life. The answer that keeps coming back to me is.........Why not me! Why not you! Think about: What right do I (what right do we have) to ask an all merciful, all gracious, all sovereign and all just God.....Why He allows things to go wrong in our lives? Why did You allow for me to lose my job of 25 years Lord. Why did You allow me to get hurt in that accident? Why did You allow for my house to burned down? Why do You allow children to be murdered? Why do You allow for churches to be burned and people killed for their faith? Why didn’t You stop 9/11 from happening Lord? Why do You allow my classmates to reticule me in school for being a Christian? Why do You allow people in my community to make fun of me all the time for being a Christian? Why do You allow people to hurt us? Why is my marriage in such a mess? Why? My child is dying of leukemia
Why? My dad is dying of cancer........Why did my unsaved mother die before making that choice to follow you Lord? And Why is so hard to be a Christian Lord? Something we always need to remember before we ask those kinds of question! He saved us from the death we all deserve; He saved us from wrath that is yet to come; He saved us in spite of our fleshly desires; He saved us by His grace. How? By putting His only Begotten Son on the cross in our place; He saved us from a eternity of torment and pain and suffering. See God allows these things to happen in our life for one reason and one reason only! So that He gets the glory in your suffering! Do you realize it’s a gift to suffer for Christ and the cross? Phil 1:29 “For to you it has been granted (approved, arranged, decided) on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”. Peter said “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:16-17. If this means we have to endure suffering here on earth! I’m willing to live with it. Why? Because He saved me from what I deserve........... the same judgement to “those who do not obey the gospel of God” The very ones that God allows to persecute you and me today! So I ask the question why not me Lord? Look at what Timothy would have said (or reminded) these believers in (verse 3-5) “no one should be shaken by these afflictions” Literally means: “do not lose heart, stay strong” Why? Because of what Paul said next “we are appointed to this” This is all part of God’s plan for His children. God wills that we face afflictions, trials, tribulations for His sake.....Why Me Lord? James said it the best! “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3. Jesus even said to His disciples when He explained the parable to them about the 4 seeds that fell on the ground! “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” Matt 13:20-21 I like what John Wesley said “Yet hath he not root in himself - No deep work of grace: no change in the ground of his heart. Nay, he has no deep conviction; and without this, good desires soon wither away. He is offended - He finds a thousand reasonable pretences for leaving so narrow and rugged a way.” When we are faced with trials and tribulation! It’s for the purpose of seeing your faith! Does it endure? A true believer will count the cost and follow by faith to whatever end; a true believer will continue; a true believer will persevere through whatever is put before him or her. That’s why Jesus says the one that falls on good ground will grow: Some hundred fold..........some sixty.......some thirty! The evidence of a true believer is that you will continue to grow! Are you growing this morning? Can you say “the Lord has always been transforming me into the image of the Son? Even in times of trials; even in times of success; even in times of silence; even in times of draught. God is always working and directing me closer to Him each and every day! Because this was Paul’s unsettling concern for these new believers.....But what do we see next! (Look at verse 6). Timothy delivered the news that would give Paul a sense of peace and joy in his heart..... News that brings composure....news that would remove all that unsettledness.That test is over! I can get some rest now! Knowing my children are OK! Paul found the highest sense of ministry joy (he’s highest fulfillment was) His spiritual children were walking and growing in the truth of God’s word even in times of trials and suffering.......... (verse 9). It like the same expression of gratitude the Psalmist had when he said “How can I repay the LORD for all His goodness to me” 116:12. I can attest to what Paul is saying! This should be every pastor’s heart around the world this morning! When I see people in the church loving the Lord more than life! I can say with Paul: My heart is filled with joy seeing you glorify Christ in your suffering. My soul feels blessed with your passion for one-another and the true Gospel you serve. My desires become your desires as we grow deeper in your relationship with Christ. My prayer life is stronger day and night because of your faithfulness to Christ and His church. I pray the same prayer that Paul does here in (verse 11-13). Nothing on this earth should encourage us more! To see brothers and sisters grow in His grace and His suffering. The Sunday question: Is your faith enduring today? Are you saying in your heart! Why not me Lord? We must stand fast (full of faith) in a world that hates and is going against everything we hold dear in the Christian life: Biblical Morality;
Biblical Education for our Children; keeping the family together according Biblical principles; the Freedom to pray and share the Gospel with others.....The only way we will ever increase is by staying close to Him and the help of one another in our trials and tribulations by the Power of His grace......As Matt Chandler said “your house may be built on the rock, but that doesn’t (exempt) that doesn’t mean the rains won’t come” So! Why Not Me......You?