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The Best is Yet to Come

Peninsula Community Church

The Best is Yet to Come

May 13, 2018 

Romans 8:18-25 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

A number of years ago I did the funeral for a lady in our church. In preparing for the service, the family had requested that at the end of the service I would place a fork in the casket before they closed it. When I asked them why, they stated that their mom loved dessert. When she would clear the table after dinner, she would always say “keep your fork because the best is yet to come.” What she meant was that dessert was on the way and for her that was always the best part of the meal. As we review this passage, we find Paul saying there is much that happens in life, but the best is yet come. 

With that understanding let us consider a couple of important truths. Paul begins Romans 8:18 with the word “consider” which means to make a numerical calculation. It means to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to deliberate, and to weigh. The idea is one of careful study or reasoning which results in coming to a specific conclusion. So what is the specific conclusion Paul wants us to consider? It is this. Paul is saying I have weighed out the trials I am experiencing now and I have weighed out the glory that is to be revealed and what I found is that the glory to come far outweighs any problems associated with my present condition. Paul has “mentally and spiritually weighed” the evidence and has come to the conclusion that something better is coming and that brings him hope.

As we read this passage, we find that the word suffer is pluralized which means of course that there is more than one problem. Have you ever noticed that when problems come there is usually not just a singular problem but they seem to come in multiples? The point is that in life we will have sufferings. We will have problems, multiple problems. Our heart will be broken. We will sense the pain of sorrow and difficult issues which seem almost unresolvable. We will be confronted by health issues that blindside us. Our children and other family members will disappoint us and fall short of the potential we believe they have. There will be arguments, fights, and issues will arise that seem impossible to overcome. We will have sufferings.

Secondly, Paul clarifies that he is looking at the sufferings we face in the present time. He calls it “present sufferings.” Paul is saying this is not the suffering of the past. It is not some future suffering we may face. It is what we are going through right now. There have been some that I speak with that share their pain and suffering. When you dig into their story, you find that the problems they are discussing occurred sometime in the past, and yet they share the problem as if it is a current issue. The problem most often is that their past problems have begun to define who they are in the present. You may be divorced, but divorce does not have to define you. You may have had serious sin issues in the past, but that does not have to define you now. Get the point. There are others times that we are perplexed by future issues that may or may not even occur. We spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying over what may never happen. In this regard, I love the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:34. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Jesus understood that we have enough to worry about today, so there is no reason to be concerned about past issues or future problems.

Thirdly, Paul states that whatever we go through now, no matter how great or painful they are, they cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed. That future glory has not been revealed, yet, but it is coming. In other words, be patient and hold on. Just as the mom, who could not wait for dessert, would proclaim the best is yet to come, the glory that is to come also reminds us that the best is yet to come for us. Yes, we have problems, but the best is yet to come. One problem we encounter is that we are impatient. We want things now. We do not want to wait. We want instant healing. We want growth without pain. We want advancement without hard work. We want instant gratification and instant results. We are impatient people.

Paul lets us in on a secret in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. He states, But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. God knows what you are going through this morning, and the best is yet to come.

Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary on Romans that The difference between the present degree of pain we experience and the blessedness to which God has appointed His people is so immensely different that there is no way to compare them. Any comparison we come up with falls short. When you are discouraged by your troubles, know that what is to come for you in Christ will be so much more wonderful than all of your pain. We see this in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. … we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Paul stated that For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Think about this. Paul is saying that hope is always in the unseen. That is why it is hope. Hope that sees the future is not hope at all. For that reason, God gives calls to hope in the glory that is to come, and not in the difficulties we face in this moment of time. In life, we face two great paradoxes: the futility of suffering and the hope of suffering. Paul does not minimize the suffering we face. In fact, Paul knew better than anyone what it meant to suffer for Christ. He knew what it meant to be beaten and be left for dead. He knew what it meant to be sick. He knew what it meant to pray for healing, but healing did not come. He knew what it meant to be betrayed by those close to him. He knew all of this and yet he could express such a hope in a future glory, because His hope was not in the circumstances or the events he faced. He had a “yet to come” perspective. 

In this matter, there are two things to consider in regard to the coming glory of Christ. One is that God’s glory is revealed on the earth, and second His full glory will not be experienced until we go to be with Christ in heaven. Perhaps, it would be helpful to understand the word “glory.” Glory has been defined as the manifestation of God’s presence. Here on earth there are moments when God’s presence is revealed in powerful ways, but His full glory comes when He brings us home with Him and we get to live in His presence for eternity. 

As humans, we experience pain in different ways. This is evident most often in the questions we ask. One of the great questions that is poised by so many of us is “How much more can I bear?” “What else is going to happen to me or them?” “Why is this happening?” “Why is this happening now?” “How am I going to make it through this?” “Why me?” “Why them?” And on and on go the questions. 

When we realize that the best is yet to come, we can endure the difficulties of the present time. The result is that we will have hope and we will be focused on a greater day and a greater opportunity for the presence of God to be manifested. So in the end, this all comes back to where our focus will be. Will we focus on the present problems, or the coming glory of God? Will we focus on the difficulties we face, or the promise that the best is yet to come? 

So where is your focus? Remember Paul started this chapter with the statement that “there is therefore now no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” When we are focused on eternity and the coming glory of God, we are less likely to be condemned by the our current circumstances, because our hope is in Christ. So what are you going through? Do you need some dessert? Keep your fork because the best is yet to come. How many are facing some difficult times right now? Who needs some dessert? I have some! 

Let us pray!

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A Joyful Heart and the Will of God

Peninsula Community Church

A Joyful Heart and the Will of God

November 19, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For those who are passionate followers of Christ, one of the issues that concerns us is knowing  God’s will. What is His will for me personally? What does He want me to do? Here in this passage, Paul presents an argument for one aspect for understanding God’s will. Specifically, this passage focuses on three primary aspects of our attitude and mindset toward life and the issues we encounter. We see here that he commands us to rejoice always. We must pray continually. We must give thanks in every circumstance. In so doing, we fulfill the will of God. Today and next week, we will review these three principles to understand how they apply to our life.

For today, let us look at the command to rejoice always. Rejoice! Always! When you hear that what is your initial response? If you are like me, you might ask a few questions. First, Paul, do you really mean that? Do you know what I am going through? Do you know what I have experienced? Paul, if you knew all that I am going through, you would understand that I cannot rejoice with all that is going on in my life right now. You must know that my situation is different! But that is the paradox of this command. Rejoice always! Rejoice when things are going great. Rejoice when things are turned upside down. Rejoice when things are normal. Rejoice and keep on rejoicing. In our natural self, this seems impossible and may seem like a contradiction but through Christ we are empowered to rejoice in every circumstance.

Because of Paul’s command to rejoice always, you might look at Paul with a bit of disdain. You might think that he is disconnected from reality. But listen to Paul’s own words in regard to what he experienced in his ministry. Paul stated Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).

Did you get that? Paul had been beaten five times. He had been beaten with rods three times. He was shipwrecked three times. He faced all kinds of dangers where ever he went. He had experienced hunger and thirst. He had gone without food. He experienced extreme heat and coldness. Every day he carried with him the anxiety of leading the churches he was given. I think we could agree that Paul had suffered his share of difficulties. And yet, this was the same Paul who commanded us to rejoice always. For us, while we may not have experienced anything to this degree, when we do have difficulties, and it can feel like a beating and an attack.

So with all that Paul experienced, how could he rejoice? How could he call us to rejoice? What was his rational for such a command? As you study Paul’s life, you will find that he issued this command because he understood that his joy was a not response to his experience or his circumstance, but was a response to the One whom he served. The fact is, he could rejoice because he knew who he served and all that Christ had accomplished on his behalf. He recognized that his strengthen came from God. The truth is the work of God within us allows us to face difficult times with a heart of rejoicing.

With that in mind let us make a couple of observations about rejoicing. First of all, joy is a matter of the heart. It is based in the truth that I can trust God in every area of my life. Therefore, an attitude of rejoicing is an outcome of trust. When we trust, it is much easier to rejoice in all things. Trust is the confidence that all things will work out for God’s pleasure. That is why Paul could state And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). When we trust God with our life, we will be less likely to complain and to grumble about the issues we encounter. When we trust God, we will be more faithful to His purposes.

Listen to the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:8-12. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. It is through this passage that Paul details the reason we can rejoice in Christ.

Paul was convinced, no matter what came his way, he could endure and he could do so with a joyful heart, because he was convinced that God would keep what had been entrusted to him. The word convinced carries the idea having been settled in one’s mind of a truth or an outcome. You see rejoicing is not just a feeling, it is a truth that supports our reaction to life’s difficulties. Paul could rejoice and could encourage others to rejoice because he had settled in his mind that God would come through for him. To understand this, we must look at the meaning of the word in the original Greek. The basis of the word convinced means “to trust” or “to be worthy of trust.” The word also means “reliability” or “certainty.” It is the root of the word “faith” or “to have faith in.” You see when we trust God and we have a certainty that He has our best interest in mind, we will be convinced Christ will complete His work in us.

How do we develop our trust in God? We read the Bible and allow the bible to change our hearts and our outlook on the future. In Scripture, we find so many who we were in deep trouble but each time God made a way for them to escape. We pray. That is why Paul also commanded the church to continuously pray because it is through prayer that we focus our attention upon the one who can help us navigate whatever we are facing. Lastly, we share testimonies with one another because it is through our testimonies that we overcome and therefore that gives us hope. The result is that we have the power to rejoice in every circumstance not as a feeling but as a truth.

Secondly, this is not some sadistic or head in the sand view of God but rather it is seeing our circumstances through the eyes of God. Rejoicing is not just an act of positive thinking nor is it the denial of the truth. Real faith begins at the point of truth and reality. So we do not rejoice just to rejoice but we do so because we are confident of the power of Christ to see us through every circumstance of our life. Too often, we develop a stoic approach to life where we will not allow ourselves to be effected by the issues of life.

This does not not mean that we dance through life proclaiming that I am rejoicing! We do not communicate that I am happy when the world is falling apart around us. That mindset does not help us but in fact most often causes us to complain and gripe rather than rejoice. To deny the issues of life does nothing to move us forward in faith. In fact, it harms us and keeps us from experiencing the healing of God. So this is not a command to negate emotions and refuse to acknowledge those emotions, but rather is it to envelop those negative situations with a mindset of joy that is based in a unswerving trust in God.

Thirdly, Paul realized that it is easier to rejoice when we have an eternal perspective about life. Again, listen to Paul’s words. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Why is an eternal perspective important? It is important because the trials we experience now are limited in their impact when we compare our total existence to eternity and the glory that is to come. It is important because the things we seen and experience are transient. They are in flux and cannot be trusted but God can be trusted in every circumstance. What is a problem today will cease to be a problem tomorrow. The difficulty we face today will be the answered prayers of tomorrow. Th absence of hope will the intervention of the Holy Spirit in days to come.

John Piper had this to say about joy. Our joy is based in the knowledge and acceptance of knowing that our sins are forgiven now and that we can experience the kingdom of God now. That knowledge sustains our ability to strive toward a future entrance into His eternal kingdom. Our joy is a result of not what we experience but what we hope for. It is anchored in a life and a way of existence that has been promised to us.

Fourthly, our joy becomes a testimony to God’s grace in difficult times. In effect, our joy becomes a tool for evangelism and a witness to the power of God. we do not deny the existence of difficulty, but we embrace the power of God to help us endure every difficulty. You see too many Christian’s today want people to believe they do not have any issues. Somehow, they believe that it detracts from who they are. Somehow they believe that it diminishes who God is. But the opposite is true. People are looking to know that the God we serve is real. People want to know that this stuff works. Having a realistic view of God, and the joy that comes from knowing Him, we become witnesses of how to negotiate life to the fullest.

As we close, we must know that joy is not manufactured. It is a result of who we know. It is a result of His work in us that is being worked out through us. In knowing Him, we are strengthen and we are filled with a joy which is an attitude of being convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. That is worth rejoicing.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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