No matter who you are, especially for C’ians, life has good & bad times… ease & hardship… joy & heartache. Truth be told, in ease AND difficulty there are traps that test our resolve to follow Christ. At this point in 2 Cor we’re examining the difficulties of life…
Last week we saw that God’s purposes are: 1) For His people to trust Him as the God of comfort, & 2) Then for His people to comfort others by how they’ve been comforted by God (1:4). Today Paul gives another reason why God places adversity in our lives. This is probably THE most important one.
MY GOAL FOR YOU: To understand all life events from a decidedly God informed view.
(1:7) Paul goes from affirming an “unshaken hope” to the troubling situation of being lynched. Thus Paul moves to application & goes personal on them. He is reminding them of God’s absolute control over everything! In uncertainty… God’s sovereign power is
Paul references in 1:8-9a what happened in Ac 19:23-41. He & his companions were the object of a riot. They were “Utterly burdened beyond our strength.” Came close to dying… thus “we felt we’d received the sentence of death…” (9a). That they were in a tenuous situation is an understatement.
For us, no matter the situation… circumstances… or what takes place, nothing is beyond
God’s control. Regardless of our assessment (Even when death seems imminent) God’s providence supersedes the plans, will, desires, & actions of men. Consider from Proverbs…
16:1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
21:1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.
21:31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
THE most comforting truth in Scripture is: God is sovereign. If I didn’t know that to be true, I’d be a basket case. If God weren’t sovereign, then either Satan is or we are. Given those options… I’ll pick God every time! Mainly because that is what we’re taught in Scripture.
God’s Purpose (1:9b), “To make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead…” Did you get that? “To MAKE us” means GOD was massively involved so that they’d rely on HIM & nothing else, no one else… especially themselves… REGARDLESS of the situation!
God’s eternal purposes are: 1) To glorify Himself, 2) To conform us to Christ (Ro 8:28-29). What God did in Paul’s life situation accomplished BOTH goals. And here’s an important point for us to hold… God WILL accomplish those in ever Christian! “God is at work in you to will AND accomplish HIS good pleasure…” (Phil 2:13).
God demands that HE is the ONLY one we worship. Thus He destroys our idols… the things we rely upon & get our security from. Whatever idols we have, He will deconstruct
SO THAT He alone is the love, joy, & focus of our heart! THAT is what God does by way of “difficulties & hardships.”
We place too much confidence in the flesh… our wisdom… our knowledge… our power… the strength of our personality… our abilities. That is why God puts us in positions we’re incapable of delivering ourselves from. He’s determined that we rely ONLY upon Him. Which we don’t do…
Want me to prove it? How much time do we spend praying about situations, circumstances, or events? Do we labor long in prayer asking God for help, guidance, direction, & strength? Or are our prayers little more than a few sentences voiced ever so often? The more we rely on God, the more we pray. The more we rely on ourselves, the less we pray. That probably nails a lot of us to the pew…
God’s Deliverance (1:10). God is a delivering God who delivered Paul & his companions. Paul was confident of future deliverance. After all… God always
delivers His children! Or does He?
Think with me. I’m going to try to make you a little uncomfortable to show you the power of God’s comfort. Okay? Make any sense? Maybe not… YET.
Big point: God determines what deliverance is. We define it as easing pain…
destroying enemies… removing difficulty… escaping mobs. But sometimes God’s definition of deliverance (How His comfort is applied) isn’t what we think it should be (And some get angry at God). Consider…
Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego were told to worship the image of the king or be thrown
into the fiery furnace. They believed God would deliver them… but if not (Even if they died), that wouldn’t change their resolve, love, or devotion to God. Dan 3:16…
O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, & He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods…
Consider Job 13:15, Job lost everything except his wife & life (She wasn’t a help!). “Though He (God) slay me, I will hope in Him…” Job’s devotion to God remained true in spite of what may happen. God was still as much God (& worthy of worship) in tragedy as blessing. Hab 3:17-19…
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail & the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold & there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.
The Prophet writes that if there is complete economic collapse… he will still rejoice & have joy because his joy is in God, not possessions. Hear v 19 again, “God, the Lord is my strength…” His joy was determined by his faith in God… AND NOTHING ELSE!
As long as we get our ultimate joy, peace, & meaning from anything other than God, we’ll come up empty b/c only He can deliver us! And sometimes God’s deliverance IS ultimate! Phil 1:21-24…
For to me to live is Christ, & to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed btwn the two. My desire is to depart & be with Christ, for that is far better.
Until we trust God to this degree, we’re short of the joy Jesus has for us. And here Paul helps us from 2 Cor 1:10b… “On Him (Jesus) we have set our hope that He will deliver us again…”
Every time Paul found himself in a dangerous situation, he had hope that God would deliver him. It happened many times before. He also knew one day he’d be ultimately delivered… & that’d be thru death. That’s why his hope ultimately was on Jesus… WHO
RAISES THE DEAD.
The prayer of 1:11. Here our responsibility is coupled with God’s sovereignty through PRAYER.
God doesn’t need us to accomplish anything (Creation, Flood, Virgin Birth, Resurrection).
But He has chosen to use prayer to do His will so that He is glorified & we are blessed.
2 Cor 1:11 & T.W. Hunt…
All answered prayer begins with God who places it as a burden on the heart of the believer. The believer then prays in Jesus’ name (Who grants access to God). Since the Christian doesn’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes according to God’s will. Thus the request returns to God from whom it originated & it is answered affirmatively for God’s glory. Thus the Trinity is involved in all prayer.
Prayer isn’t powerful, but the God who answers prayer is all powerful! God only works
with prayer as the foundation. Did you hear that? God does not do anything without His people praying. So we need to pray… for revival, salvation of the lost, protection, HBC’s future… EVERYTHING!
Why is prayer so necessary? “So that many will give thanks.” Another way of saying, “So that GOD gets the glory.” So brothers & sisters… we must pray at all times… together!
Are you burdened? Is there a crushing load in your life? Flee to God through Christ! Ask others to pray on your behalf! Have friends or family that are burdened? Pray for them. Intercede on their behalf to God.
Seek the God of comfort & He WILL comfort you!
Then when He responds, give Him all the glory!