General idea: Hope and guidance! Even in the mist of dire circumstances as with Paul in II Cor 11: 23-29 we can have hope beyond hope. We can have God Himself direct our path. Because this life is a small wrinkle in time, a mere rehearsal to what is to come in the vastness of eternity. We are made for Heaven and our life here is a classroom experience to learn and grow closer to God and those around us, to be our best for His glory. What we have or do not have, what we gain or what we give up is in no comparison to what is to come for us in eternity. Our hope is not here in this world it is still to come! So our true life is what we have not experienced yet, what is still to come. Thus, we should not get frustrated or lose faith. God has hope so we can still persevere in and through all things. God has given us His Spirit to be our comforter and guide. In doing so we can have greater trust and perseverance through good times and bad, as long as our eyes are upon the Lord!
1. We are to see the world by what its potential is, not just by the suffering we experience and see. This is where we apply our salvation. Since we are His heirs we should accept the responsibility and the inheritance (Matt. 19:28; Acts 3:21; 2 Cor. 4:17; Rev. 21:1).
a. Ernest expectation refers to the Jewish belief that all righteousness will be rewarded and the world would be transformed (Isa. 66:17-18).
b. The world may live in sin and desire its evil, but there is a longing for order and a better existence; hence the "felt" need to receive order, and the Holy Spirit's role to reveal Christ that can fill that need.
c. The evil is revealed by the law, and creation seeks redemption wherever it can find it. Hence all the false religions, cults and searching for meaning away from Christ.
d. Subjected to futility refers to the belief that the world is in decline from a previous golden age. For the Greeks far in the past such as Atlantis, to the Jews the Kingdom of David and Solomon. For the Christian the synergistic effects of sin.
e. Corruption means everything will decompose; only God is unchanging.
f. Groans reflects the attitude of the Exodus where the Israelites complained and drove God to Anger (Ex. 2:23). No one likes hardship, and when we are in it is seems it is all we see, God wants us to look beyond it and to Him, for He is our Hope and our dream!
g. The grand plan of God is that the fallen state of the universe is not permanent (Heb. 6:18-20).
i. We will not be in perfect harmony until we receive our "New Bodies". We are not to be frustrated and pessimistic, because God was not that way with us.
ii. We must not remain in our ignorance and infirmity, by receiving mercy yet, never giving it.
iii. When we lose hope we lose desire to serve Him, and receive His blessings.
h. First fruits of the Spirit refer to the beginning of the Spirit's work in us and how His fullness will be in us (Lev. 23:10; Rom. 3:4).
i. One of the Holy Spirit's roles is to reveal the deeper things of God. He wants not only to live through us, but work through us. The deeper things will never contradict what is plainly stated in scripture; rather it is a deeper change within us so we are able to understand it more and are able to apply it.
i. He gives us the tasks and the strength, will we just accept it (John 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:7-15; 1 Cor. 12:4-13; 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:6; 5:16-23)?
ii. He searches our heart (1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chron. 28:9).
iii. He will carry us through all that we could ever face, from sufferings and sorrow to joy and jubilation (Luke 11:2-4).
j. Groaning is like that of a mother giving birth. It is a prayer language that we cannot understand between God the Spirit and God the Father. Some Bible teachers make reference to this verse to make an argument for group speaking in tongues as a form of prayer. However there is no indication in Scripture this is true. If it were it would contradict I Cor. 14!
2. All things work together for good. The great NT passage for hope! This statement is from Greek stoic philosophers who were optimistic at times stating that all things for out for the best. Paul uses this as an illustration to stress God's Hope for us and how we can hope in Him! This statement also stress the sovereignty of God!
a. This is where predestination comes from, (Gen. 4:1; Psalm 90; Amos 3:2; Mal. 1:2; Matt 1:25; 1 Cor. 1:9;) that God's plan is sovereign and eternal. We have a personal plan and agenda to follow, and a purpose that is God's. All Bible believing Christian groups believe in predestination, you would have to throw out ½ the Bible to reject it. The argument in theology is not that it exist or does not but by what means God uses to determine salvation, by His foreknowledge or His purpose. Romans says it is by purpose, human reason says by God seeing ahead. For more information see our doctrine channel and see predestination.
b. This is the "P" in TULIP, the "Perseverance of the Saints". The destiny of all believers is in a personal intimate relationship which flows from His divine foreknowledge and purpose, for His glory. (Some theology is not always "either/ or"; such as it is either free will or God's sovereignty period, no in-between. This is human thinking with extreme limitations in place. God does not work in our reasoning and thinking ability, but He does reveal Himself so we can understand what we need to know. Sometimes it is "both/and"; in that since the Bible teaches both free will and the sovereignty of God, it must be both. Yet we tend to focus on one over the other; Calvin, by the way, did teach both!)
c. God turns our faith into reality (Matt. 6:33; John 14:9). The goal of faith is not the work we do, but to allow Him to do His will in us!
d. There is no such thing as chance, this is God's providence. We may not understand, all we can do is hang tight and trust Him.
e. Beware not to try to run ahead with your desires or distractions ahead, or behind, of God's timing.
3. We are made for prayer, and not just for our needs. Prayer is not a tool to get our way and will. Prayer is to bring us closer to Christ.
a. Never waste time with God seeking what you cannot have. Just as the role of the Holy Spirit is to intercede for us, we are called to do the same with each other (Mark 11:16-17; 1 Cor. 6:19; Heb. 7:25). So, do we?
b. The Holy Spirit will "turbo boost" our prayers. He will fill in the areas that we do not understand and fill in the information we do not have. This is no excuse to be lazy in our prayers! We always need to know as much as we can and pray as specifically as we can!
c. God will continually place people in our lives that we do not like. Our desire is to put them down or avoid them. Unless we are truly worshiping God we will miss crucial learning and growth opportunities, if we persist He may allow us to fall apart! When we are callous to one another it is a slap in the face of God! Let us keep His temple undefiled!
d. We must continue to fight against our pride and selfishness that gets in the way (Eph. 6:13-18). That is, we are to wrestle before God against our nature and never wrestle against God (Gen. 32:24-25), unless you desire to be crippled!
God's purpose and plan is to make us His children (1 John). He is the good parent who guides His children and protects them, at the same time does not over protect them so they lose out on life's opportunities to please Him, to the ultimate good. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to be our advocate before the Father. To make everything that happens all work to the glory and purpose of God, no matter what we face in pain, suffering, and hardships, because the big picture is we are meant for eternity and not for this world. Here we are temporarily looking to the hope we have now and to come. Christ will see us through, if we trust and obey to be on His way. When we understand this in a deep way we are able to trust in our Lord though all things. We can grow though our perseverance becoming stronger and more mature in the faith! Just think how your life would be transformed just by changing your perceptions from what you see in front of you to seeing Christ in front of you!
Learning Outcomes: a. Know what sin is. b. Know what is meant and apply "being an offering". c. Know what it is to be a conqueror. d. Do not just know that God is sovereign, but believe and live it. e. See what God is trying to accomplish in our lives and through us for others.
1. When someone says the word "HOPE' what comes to your mind?
2. How have you experienced hope?
3. Do you have a problem receiving suggestions from others regarding your decisions?
4. How do you feel that God has a specific purpose and plan for you life? Does it make you scared thinking you will miss out on all of the fun? Or does it reassure you and give you comfort?
5. During times of hardship what do you tend to do with your relationship with Christ?
6. During times of hardship what do you do with your relationships with those around you?
7. What is it that Scripture calls us to do in those times of hardship?
8. How can verse 18 give you comfort?
9. "We are made for Heaven and our life here is a classroom experience to learn and grow closer to God and those around us, to be our best for His glory." How do you feel about this statement?
10. What is it that you need to do so you can have greater trust and perseverance?
11. How can your church as a community of believers demonstrate a greater trust and perseverance to each other?
12. If they did, what difference would it make?
13. Have you ever considered that God has given us His Spirit to be our comforter and guide?
14. How can you accept the responsibility and the inheritance of being His joint heirs?
15. Have you ever noticed that there is a longing for civil order and a better existence by the World? (Hence why as humans we build communities, cities, governing structures…)?
16. Because there is a "felt" need to receive order by society, why then do we have lawlessness in society?
17. What cause Christians to be frustrated and pessimistic?
18. What can you do for Christians who feel that way since God was not that way with us?
19. What reasoning would a Christian use to receive mercy yet, never give it?
20. What reason does Scripture give to point out that we must not remain in our ignorance and infirmity by refusing mercy?
21. When we lose hope we lose our desire to serve Him, and receive His blessings. Do you think this is true? Have you seen this demonstrated by your life or others?
22. One of the Holy Spirit's roles is to reveal the deeper things of God. So what are the deeper things of God?
23. How would a non-Christian you know react to the fact God wants not only to live through them, but work through them?
24. How would you explain to them the above principle as hope and opportunity, and not losing out on fun?
25. What are the tasks God has give you? Has He also given you the strength too? Did you have trouble accepting it?
26. Does the fact that God will carry you through all that you could ever face, from sufferings and sorrow to joy and jubilation give you hope and perseverance?
27. If not, what is in the way?
28. God's plan is sovereign and eternal. Thus we have a personal plan and agenda to follow, and a purpose that is God's. How much time have you spent on seeking God's will for your life?
29. What does perseverance mean to you?
30. What is it you need to do to have Perseverance?
31. How can God turn your faith into reality to allow Him to do His will in us?
32. What does providence mean to you?
33. We may not understand providence, so how can you hang tight and trust Him?
34. What happens when we try to run with our desires or distractions ahead, or behind, of God's timing?
35. Why do some Christian's think that prayer is a tool to get our way and will?
36. What is prayer's true purpose?
37. The Holy Spirit is to intercede for us; we are called to do the same with each other. So how do we do this?
38. God will continually place people in our lives that we do not like. Our desire is to put them down or avoid them. Unless we are truly worshiping God we will miss crucial learning and growth opportunities, if we persist He may allow us to fall apart! When we are callous to one another it is a slap in the face of God. So what will you do with this information?
39. What is it that you need to do to have hope beyond hope? What would your life look like by changing your perceptions from what you see in front of you to seeing Christ in front of you! How will you do this?
40. We should not get frustrated or lose faith, so what do you need to do to listen for God Himself to direct your path?
"What about suffering"? As we look at church history, especially in the lives of many Christian saints throughout time, one key theme runs through it all. From the first century Christians to modern China, that theme is suffering. Oswald Chambers wrote, "You cannot help suffering; it is a true and needful training for the soul that dares to be true to God." Suffering is an essential aspect of our Christian growth, whether it is mental, physical, financial, or spiritual. It is the main connection that enables the batteries to power us to be the best Christian possible. It is the link between the Holy Spirit and God's perfect plan working in us. Without this vital connection, the power source of our Lord will not be able to prime us for His service. We may have the ability and the power of the Spirit, but the vital link between them is missing. A spark of truth and service may pass between them so we think we are working and doing fine. But there can be so much more! So when that connection is firmly in place, the power will flow the most, so our walk in Him becomes our best. That is why we are encouraged in the Word to hold on tight and be tough to the end. In other words perseverance is knowing that our future is in His Hands, in His control and whatever the consequences we may face, we are to look to the rewards to come. Our hope and purpose is to be with Christ in eternity everlasting.
The path into following God's will is not always an easy path; it is a path filled with potholes and highwaymen. Yet the modern church considers suffering negative, because it does not line up with happiness, peace, and joy. Some even teach that suffering is a sign that you are out of God's will and have unredeemed sin. However, this is not Biblical. It is a difficult journey but take heart; our sufferings are very temporary in the scheme of our eternal existence. Check out John 16;33; Romans 8:18 and I Peter 4:19.
Why, why, why we ask! Yet, it is not so much a question of how we answer the problem of suffering, the why it has happened to me.
It is not about how we can get an answer, seeking the 'why' from God, the why this has happened to me. The why is not important as Job found out. Rather it is about how we live our lives regardless of our circumstances. God understands that even though we may have buried a loved one, we cannot bury our feelings. We need time to morn and vent-and even inventing ways of coping with the loss in our lives. (Hence why there are so many conflicting theories in psychology!) God records in His Word that people in biblical days were in no hurry to rush through the process of grief. But, they did eventually get on with their lives! "a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build",(Ecc. 3:3). The 'why' is not the solo quest we are to seek. 'Why' is not the place we are to live our lives and concentrate our devotions too. By dwelling on the 'Why' will keep us away from learning, takes our eyes of Him, it even interferes in His healing grace, because we are so full of 'whys' there is no room for Christ!
Remain faithful and enjoy the ride of life even when you hit a pothole and bump your head. Suffering has 5 main themes to it: 1. Our God is good, thus our pain allows us to identify with our Lord who suffered for our sin's in our place without fault or being deserving of the suffering. So why should we expect better? It draws us closer and more intimate. God will actually enter into the pain with us, so if there is no healing, He is just working harder in us! 2. God will use our suffering for the greater good, that is His purpose. Consider it fertilizer to the garden of life. It will allow us to grow in greater depth spiritually, when we give it to God through prayer, as Paul did. 3. Remember God is working even when we do not feel it! The chief purpose of God's will for us is to grow us closer to Him! Not our bodies, or work, or anything else! This will perfect our charter to be more Christ like. 4. Suffering is not being a martyr; rather it is value for our living as we lean to surrender all to Him. Never force suffering on yourself for attention, this does not glorify God, only yourself! 5. When we are filled with joy, even in the mist of suffering, we show the world the mirror and character of and to Christ. The main theme of suffering is not how we answer the way's and why's, but how we live our lives to still give God the glory! How do we allow Him to use us and then take our experiences for the benefit of others, such as people like "Joni Erickson Tada"! Some comforting verses: Psalm 31:9; Psalm 119:50; Isaiah 41:10; Rom 8:18; 28-29; 35-37; James 1:2-3;12; John 14:1; I Pet 4:12-19 ; Rev. 21:4!
"Almighty God, who art a very present help in time of trouble; Let not the heart of Thy people fail when fear cometh, but do Thou sustain and comfort them until these calamities be over past: and since Thou knowest the cause and reason why this grievous disaster hath fallen upon men, so do Thou heal the hurt and wounded, console the bereaved and afflicted, protect the innocent and helpless, and deliver any who are still in peril, for Thy great mercy's sake. Amen." May God have mercy upon us all, and cause us all to reflect upon our standing before Him. (Presbyterian Book of Worship 1906)
© 1998, 2001, 2004 R.J. Krejcir, Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.net/
"The Holy Spirit longs to reveal to you the deeper things of God. He longs love through you. He longs to work through you. Through the blessed Holy Spirit you may have: strength for every duty, wisdom for every problem, comfort in every sorrow, joy in His overflowing service." T.J. Bach