This sermon was preached on Sunday, January 30, 2011.
[Our sermon series is entitled] Following Jesus in a Spiritually Hostile World. [Ephesians 3:10-11] His intent was that now, through the church—so now is now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
[Prayer] Father, thank You for Your word today. I pray that Your manifold wisdom will be made known through us, Lord, that we will hear from You, be touched by You, and those that are going through a storm today will see You clearly, and know, Jesus, not only You walk on the water but that we can walk on the water as well, as long as our eyes are on You. Lord, we thank You for what You are going to do in this place. Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, speak to my heart, change my life, in Jesus’ name. Amen, amen. You may be seated.
I need to review just a little bit of last week, for those who may not have been here, but for all of us as well. We have here a verse that goes along with some other verses. We cited Colossians 2:15 last week where Jesus on the cross, He makes a show, or He demonstrates His power over the principalities and powers, the dark powers, in the Heavenlies—the demonic forces, satanic forces. And we showed that in chapter 1, in chapter 3, and chapter 6 of Ephesians that that is what this phrase is talking about. And so we kind of asked the question, “What is going on here in the Heavenlies? Is there trash talking going on?” Is satan acting like the New York Jets eight days ago? [He chuckles. He is referring to the Jets’ bold claims prior to playing the Steelers, a game which the Jets ultimately lost.] “We’re better than you, we’re going to conquer you.” What is going on here? God here is making known His wisdom through the Church, saying in effect to the enemy, “Take a look at this.”
Here we have God manifesting His wisdom through the Church to the enemy, so I was focusing on the Church last week. What do we mean by the Church? And we talked about the Church universal, the Church all over the world, and we had some of you from different nations representing and speaking of what your church, the church in your native land, is like. And I’ve got to tell you that I believe God is pleased with what’s happening around the world today in the Church. The best I know, from what I know of church history and from what I know is happening around the world today, the church of Jesus Christ is probably in the best shape it’s been in at least 1700 years. That’s a long time. Anyone that old? 1700 years.
Now we’re not quite to the book of Acts yet, you with me? We’re not quite there, but there’s been a lot of progress, not just in evangelism, but in just the whole shootin’ match, living out the Gospel. I was in communication with a nephew by marriage, Jason Loper, who is one of the missionaries we support in Nepal—he is in Katmandu, Nepal, right there at the base of the Himalayas—in a nation that is almost totally Buddhist, and he was telling me that they did a census here not too long ago in which they counted the number of followers of different faiths, and they counted, in Nepal, half a million Christians, and he said, “Forty years ago, you could have put all the Christians in Nepal in one church van.” I mean, what is happening in the world is astounding, and let me tell you what’s happening right now in the Middle East is probably more positive than negative. The enemy’s at work but God’s at work, and it’s really interesting. This is not an Islamic revolution that is happening in Egypt, and what was happening in Tunisia. This is a—and it’s not all that pro-American either; it’s a desire for more democracy. It’s young people wanting jobs. They’ve been trained, much like a lot of young people in our own nation who have undergraduate degrees or graduate degrees, and they can’t get a decent job. There’s all that happening, but there is a move toward more Western values, not necessarily, again, pro-American all that much, but Western values in many of these nations, that there is an openness to the Gospel that goes with that.
We were talking to Rob and Ireida [Pastor’s son and daughter-in-love], and they’ve been talking to the missionaries in India about how the customs in India, the traditional Hindu customs, are breaking down so rapidly in that nation the more Western it’s becoming and the more openness to the Gospel. And the real extreme Hindus, particularly in the eastern part of India and some other places, feel very threatened by the rise of the Gospel in India. It’s happening all over the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is moving in unprecedented ways today! This is a very exciting time to be alive, it really is, and I believe that we’re very close to the end. Now how close, I’m not sure.
Someone asked me this morning about this head of a Christian radio station network who said that Jesus is coming May 20 or 21st this year. There’s a big—you go down to Lewistown, on your way to Harrisburg—and there’s a big billboard there that declares that date. Well, I doubt He is going to come on that date, but I do believe He’s coming soon. By the way, there’s a lady in Central Pennsylvania, in State College—I saw her name but I didn’t recognize her name—that did, I think, the appropriate thing. She wrote him a letter and asked him to deed all of his property to her for the day after. [Congregation bursts into laughter.] Isn’t that great? See how much he believes in what he says.
I don’t know if he is going to do that or not, but Jesus is coming soon, and the Church is far more positive than negative, far more! God is doing some amazing things around the world. So the universal Church, God is demonstrating to the powers, through the Church around the world, His manifold wisdom. We’ll get to that, a little bit deeper today, what that manifold wisdom is. And then the city church, the church in every location, the church of State College, the last 15 years we made a lot of progress. We are not where we should be but we began to think of ourselves as A church in a city. And each congregation is part of that larger whole. And some of us were never going back to thinking the way we did before.
And I may be a denominational official in the Assemblies of God but once in a while I hear people thinking in very denominational terms and once in a while I’ll say something. I was sitting at a luncheon table some months ago, and it was all Assembly of God officials sitting around. And someone said, “So-and so was”—I forget what city it was, so I am just going to pick a city in Pennsylvania—“they’re pastoring the church in Carlisle,” and I said, “You mean the Assembly of God church, or do you mean, how many churches are there in Carlisle?” Well, really, as God sees it, there is one, but there are many different congregations. But those who think very denominationally think that their denomination’s congregation is the only thing in that city that’s worth talking about. Well that doesn’t please God, because we are one in Him, amen? And walls have come down to a great degree. Again, we’re not where we should be, but it’s more positive than negative, more positive than negative.
Now, here’s where we start to get into the whole issue of principalities and powers. I do believe that there is a hierarchy on the enemy’s side. I do believe that there are principalities and powers over particular regions. It’s perfectly Biblical. You see it most clearly in the book of Daniel. But we do not see in Ephesus, we do not see in the book of Acts, where people were called to name that name and pray against it. It’s interesting. Artemis is clearly the goddess and the spirit ruling over Ephesus on the enemy’s side, but nowhere are they called to take her on, so to speak, anywhere in the New Testament. I’m wondering if some years ago, some of the things that I did, unnecessarily provoked the enemy. There were a number of times I climbed Mt. Nittany and I would sit up there, in the place where they cleared the trees and you can see over the valley, or maybe I’d go on the way to Huntingdon, go up to the overlook—I forget the name of that overlook—but look over the valley or from Harvest Fields or any other place, look over the valley, pray over the valley. But I’ve also prayed prayers against principalities and powers, and I’m not sure that that is the Biblical model of doing that. In Ephesus we see the church grows significantly, and impacts that city significantly but we don’t see that model, so we are kind of learning as we go on how to do this. I’ll come back to that as well.
Number three, church, smaller, is a congregation. Now the word church in the New Testament is used, number one, for the Church as a whole so that’s how it is used here in verse 10. Through the Church, the Church universal, the body of Christ around the world. The second most often use is the church in the city: the church of Ephesus, the church of Philippi, the church of Corinth, and so forth, meaning they are one in the Lord. There’s only one time that I know that a house church is called a church, and so I tend to prefer the word congregation to distinguish from the church of State College, that we are a congregation, but in Romans 16:5, it talks about the church that meets in Aquila and Priscilla’s house in Rome and calls them a church, and it seems very obvious that there’s more than one house being used in Rome. The church of Rome is bigger than what could meet just in Aquila and Priscilla’s house, and they are called a church so it’s okay to call State College Assembly of God a church, even though, again, it’s primarily used as a church in the city.
So not only have I, in the last 20 years, thought of what God wants to do in State College through the body of Christ but my day job, obviously, is pastor of State College Assembly. And I’ve seen God do marvelous things over these years among us. We haven’t always gotten it right. I certainly haven’t always gotten it right, no doubt about that, but God has done some marvelous things, amen? I mean, there are many people whose lives have been transformed, many people filled with the Spirit and healed and called into ministry, and so many wonderful, wonderful things.
And here’s where, as the pastor, I have had to sort through how closely I am tied to State College Assembly of God. And it seemed to me, before I even came 20 years ago, that God was calling me to a unique relationship where I was not being called here as a place to go on my way to somewhere else, that I felt like God had prepared me all my life for this time, for this time, for this city and this place. And though opportunities came up over the years to do other things in big cities, or you know, things that had titles and all that stuff, and I turned those down. I haven’t gotten any of those calls recently, by the way [and he laughs, and then he says, self-deprecatingly] I wonder why. But I felt God was calling me here, and some of you knew that even before I came 20 years ago. And I believe that we are linked in a way, the congregation and myself, that we are linked in a way that God wanted to do something special during this period of time, and I don’t believe that’s over yet. And I believe that Jesus is coming and we’re going to go together. I’m not trying to think about beyond when I have the privilege of serving you. And I realize, I don’t own State College Assembly of God, by the way. I have the privilege of being your pastor, and my office is not my office. If something were to happen to me, I would not be taking any furniture with me, or you know. I don’t own this place, and I don’t want anyone to think that I ever think that. I have the privilege of pastoring here, but it’s been a very unique relationship.
Well, many years ago, and I’ve received a number of prophetic words over the years, that people felt they wanted to share with me, that God laid on their heart to encourage me. One of those words, and this was probably almost 10 years ago—it was Steve Stupar—he came to me and said, “I had a vision, it was about you, and I wanted to share it with you.” Well, I’m all ears. When it’s about you, you’re usually all ears, right? And he said he was over in this part of this building and there was like a whirlwind that came, and it was trying to get in, and it came through the front doors, or it was trying to get in the front doors, and couldn’t get in. But this whirlwind came down this hallway, and came across the front of this room, and cut a very fine line, like a surgical line, not a wide moat, but a line between me and the congregation, and it went out these side doors and left the door ajar, and then kind of disappeared. And this was before I went through what I’ve been through medically. And he said, “I feel like the intent is, that the enemy is trying to divide you and the congregation, to cause there to be a chasm between the two.” And I never forgot that.
The irony is that in the last 10 years there have been moments where I was not as encouraged as I am now, and the congregation, I thought, maybe needed new leadership to move on. I wanted the best for State College Assembly of God. And more than once I went to the Board of Elders—it was me! Even though I had had this word, it was me who went to the Board of Elders and said, “I think it would probably be best for State College Assembly of God to have new leadership, but I’m not sure how that looks. Can we talk about if I resign or if we do something how we would handle that so that nobody gets hurt, and people aren’t confused or upset. We want things to be good, not bad.” And more than once, they said to me, “We just don’t think this is God, this is not God’s timing, this is not God’s way,” and I received that, and I listened to them. By the way, you have a great Board of Elders. You really do, you are blessed [congregation breaks into applause, because we do!], amen? One of the best things a Board of Elders does for a congregation is create trust, that you know that not one person is making all the decisions all by themselves, with whatever agenda, that there is accountability and they provide that, but they provide a whole bunch of Godly wisdom to me, and I am very, very grateful for that. And now as I look back on the last few years and times–that I don’t know, I wasn’t depressed but certainly discouraged–I think they were right. I think that we are linked together in a way that God wants to do something significant in our congregation, not just in the city, but in and through us, yet ahead, as we are learning and following Him.
Well, God here in verse 10: His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. So what is this manifold wisdom? I believe it’s this: it’s the Gospel itself. And God is showing the enemy that His way works. His way works, because Kingdom values are the opposite of this world’s values. Sometimes we talk about Jesus fulfilling all the Law of the Old Covenant. Well, what about the New Covenant? He fulfilled that too. Think of the Sermon on the Mount. Some people take the Sermon on the Mount as almost irrelevant to our lives, but Jesus lived it out. The meek shall inherit the earth [Matthew 5:5], and we’re told to bless those who persecute us [Matthew 5:43-48]. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last [Matthew 20:16]. If you want to gain your life, you have to lose it [Luke 9:24]. All those Kingdom values, did Jesus live those out? Amen, He sure did! And it worked.
The enemy–and this goes back to Zechariah 4:6: not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord—the enemy thought on the cross, he had won, but HE LOST ON THE CROSS! he lost. Jesus won! And God always has the last word. And on Resurrection Sunday, when Jesus was raised from the dead, God was saying, “My way works!” Now Jesus was tempted to go the enemy’s way, and here’s where it becomes personal. Last week I just touched on it. I want to go a little deeper this week. Job, where we have this uncomfortable thing where we see communication going on between God and satan, and we don’t know how much communication there is today but in the book of Job God is saying, “Hey, take a look at this. Have you seen my servant Job?” And satan says, “Yeah, but, you know, You take away this and You take away that and he won’t serve You.” And Job did anyhow.
When did God say, “Take a look at Jesus.” [When] Jesus was baptized was the first time. God said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Take a look at this.” [See Matthew 3:17.] And what happens right after Jesus’ baptism? He is in the wilderness for 40 days and He encounters the enemy. [See Matthew 4.] And the enemy is actually quoting Scripture. You know, the devil knows the Bible a lot better than a lot of Christians do. [He laughs, as if to himself.] There are a lot of Christians who don’t know the Bible because we don’t read it. We watch, we read all kinds of stuff, but we don’t read the Bible. You know, I think, a lot of us, it’s kind of like when you download software on your computer and they give you all this stuff at the bottom that says accept or don’t accept, “I have read all this”. And you don’t want to read all this, so you just click on “I agree” [congregation responds in confirmation.] I think, a lot of Christians, it’s like, “Yeah, I agree with whatever’s in there. I don’t know what’s in there but I agree. So can we move on from here?” Well the Bible wasn’t written for us just to click on “I agree” and move on. The Bible was written for us to know it. And the enemy quotes Scripture and he twists it. And Jesus quotes it back to him. And Jesus is saying, “I’m going to live by God’s manifold wisdom, not yours, not earthly ways, not the enemy’s way.” So He overcomes the enemy in the wilderness, though He was weak, physically weak from His 40 days of fasting, though He was alone, though it was a very difficult time to go through that, He stands strong in God’s plan for Him, and He perseveres. So He never succumbs. He never gives in. He doesn’t in the Garden of Gethsemane. He doesn’t on the cross. He doesn’t, period. He lives and models God’s manifold wisdom in a greater way than Job did, and is proven right in the end.
Well, we all face that personally. Am I going to go God’s way? Is this worth it? Is this worth it? And there are times, I think, for all of us, when God seems like He is a million miles away. Where is God right now, in the middle of a storm that we are going through? Jesus felt that on the cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” It seems like the enemy is so close and God is so far, and the enemy is offering something, “If you’ll just give in to me, everything will be okay. Everything will be okay.” And yet we can’t do that.
I’m going to share with you today something that I thought if I never share it—the apostle Paul shared some personal stuff and Martin Luther and others—that I haven’t shared before. [This somewhat incomplete statement may result from his reluctance to share these very personal events. Keep reading and you’ll see why.] There are two encounters I’ve had with the enemy that were dramatic. One was some entity—he gave his name, the name of an ancient Caesar actually—but he was a supernatural entity, and he told me many years ago that he was sent to State College to destroy me. That was his mission. “I’ve been sent here to destroy you.” It didn’t have a whole lot more than that, and I thought, “Well, praise God. I’m hanging on to Jesus and you’re not going to be successful.” And some time after that I had a very brief appearance from an entity that gave a very strong inference that he was el numero uno on the other side. And I never wrote it down. It was startling but it wasn’t frightening. And the only thing I really remember from that—it was some time ago—is that he snarled and he said, “I hate you.” And I thought, “Thank you–[congregation laughs, partly to break the tension, as this was difficult to hear]—because I know God loves me.”
And as I’ve been walking through the storm that I’ve been going through, word after word after word has not given me information. I mean, this is why people go to fortune tellers. We want to know what the future holds. Don’t do that, by the way. We’ll talk more when we get to chapter six, we’ll talk more about how to do war and how not to do war with the enemy, because that’s what that chapter is all about. But I thought, you know, to be known in Hell is ultimately a good thing. In the short run, it’s not a great thing. But to be hated by the enemy—oh, I know what I was saying. I received word after word after word that God says He loves me and He is pleased with me, and it’s like, “Oh, that’s wonderful, but I already knew that, kind of. From here, I want to know what’s going to happen.” And more recently, I’ve fallen back to saying, “That’s really all that I need.” That’s what the Father gave Jesus, right? This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased [Matthew 3:17]. He didn’t say, “And this is going to happen, and this is going to happen, and this is going to happen.” That’s all He said, and that should be enough for us, amen? That should be enough. One day I want to stand before Him, and that’s what I want to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy reward. [Matthew 25:21 KJV] We’re pleased.”
So this manifold wisdom that works—and by the way, if you don’t hear anything else I say today, hear this: When we talk about being like Jesus, it’s not—being conformed to the image of the Son of God, becoming more like Him, acting like Him, speaking like Him, being filled like Him—it’s not just to put on a show. It’s because that’s what works. Ultimately! You know, this uprising in Egypt [referring to the Egyptian Revolution of January 2011 to overthrow the regime of President Hosni Mubarak]—when we think of Egypt, we think of the pyramids, and whatever Pharoah and however they got those up and whenever they were built. I stood at the base of the pyramids, and wow! But really, think about it. So what? So you have a big pile of rocks with four sides and you got these really big rocks to sit on top of each other, and you built a tomb for somebody. So what? What does that do for anybody? You know? That doesn’t change anybody’s life. That doesn’t deliver anybody from alcoholism. That doesn’t set someone free who is in bondage to fear. That doesn’t do anything of real consequence.
What really works is God’s way! And what Jesus did for us, IT WORKS! AND WHEN WE’RE LIKE HIM, IT WORKS! And God is making His manifold wisdom, He’s showing the enemy, He’s showing the principalities and powers that THE WAY I DO IT WORKS! AND WE WIN! WE ALREADY WON ON THE CROSS! I read the end of the Book, and WE WIN! WE’RE ON THE WINNING SIDE! [Congregation breaks into applause.] And let me tell you, if you’re not living for Jesus, if you don’t want to be like Jesus, if your desire is not to be filled with His Spirit, if you are not walking with Him and following Him, you are wasting your life! You’re going to have some moments of excitement and this and that, but it’s so empty. That’s why it feels empty after the partying and after all these things, why does it feel empty? Because it IS empty. That’s why it feels that way. And why does following God feel so full, even when you don’t exactly know what’s going on, like Job? Because we are designed to follow Him. We are designed to be in relationship with Him. We really, really are.
And so He says, “Look at this.” This enemy, we’re told–and I want to bring this in today before I wrap up–we’re told that we should be mindful of how we talk about the enemy. In the book of Jude—it’s the book right before Revelation, and it only has one chapter, so verse 8, right before Revelation–Jude is talking about people who are misinformed and misguided. And he says, earlier in verse four, he talks about Godless men: change the grace of God into a license for immorality, and so forth. Verse 8: In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings, [he repeats] slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses—we’ll talk about that someday, might be in June–did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” He’s disputing with the devil.
You know, I learned some things when I was in Cuba. [Pastor and Arline had an opportunity to travel to Cuba in November 2010.] I saw, probably, the church looking more like the book of Acts than I’ve seen anywhere in the world in my lifetime, so that was valuable in and of itself. I felt a special anointing there in the body of Christ when they gathered for worship. When I was praying for people, I felt just a huge anointing, just an open Heaven. And here they are in this dictatorship. I think I learned this, and I haven’t shared this with you. They are very careful what they say about Castro, you with me? They don’t rail against Castro in the services. They don’t sing anti-Castro songs. In fact, there are moles; any congregation of any size probably has an informant that shows up to report to the government. They just don’t talk about him hardly at all, maybe a little bit in private. But in public, they are not railing against Castro. Now that doesn’t mean they are pro-Castro, not at all. They are pro-Jesus, they focus on Jesus, and they are winning, they are winning against the enemy.
And I think if we have anything to learn from the 90’s, when we had that wave of revival, I think sometimes, I, “I”–and I’ll blame myself—and some of us got a little ahead of ourselves, a little boisterous, in railing against the enemy. And what we’re doing sometimes is we’re poking a stick into a hornet’s nest. And I’ve got to tell you, I’ve wondered, “Have I done that? Did I poke a stick into a hornet’s nest with some of the things I did?” I’ve even thought about choruses, and we’ll talk about this. “I went to the enemy’s camp, and I took back what he stole from me.” And then satan is under my feet [©1991 Sound III, Inc. ASCAP Admin. by All Nations Music, words and music by Richard Black]. Well, satan is under Jesus’s feet, and Jesus said, “I give you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions,” [Luke 10:19], so He has given us authority over the part of satan’s domain that is where we are, but me taking on satan globally? I’ve not been called to do that. You with me? So I am not going to heckle satan. I’m not trying to stir up something. Just like the church in Cuba, if there’s a parade and Castro goes by, they don’t heckle him. [He laughs.] They are smarter than that, you with me? You do that, and you’re in prison or you’re dead. But they know in Whom they have believed, and they are persuaded that He is able to keep that which they have committed unto Him against that day. And they are winning, they are being used by God to see amazing, amazing things happen. And you know, when we have that attitude, if God is saying, “Take a look at this”, if God is saying that in my life or your life, and the enemy has attacked us because God has something special for us—and by the way, when you are attacked by the enemy, it’s usually because God has something special for you and the enemy is trying to head it off. And sometimes we give up just on the brink of a miracle, amen? We give up right before—you know, it’s always darkest before the dawn—we give up right before victory was to come, and I’m not going to do that, by God’s grace.
When we go through these times and we look back, and the question would be asked, “Was it worth it? Was it worth it?” You know, years ago there was a song that we sang when I was growing up, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.” [It is the chorus from “When We See Christ” by Esther Kerr Rusthoi, copyright 1941 by New Spring (ASCAP), admin. by Brentwood-Benson Composer Publishing, Inc.] That’s what Romans 8 says. Let me turn to that. I’ll leave you with this. Oh, this is just so rich, Romans 8, one of the most powerful chapters in Scripture. There’s so much here. Verse 17: Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. And then verse 18: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. That ties into what we are saying in Ephesians 3:10, or what God is saying in Ephesians 3:10. I was talking to Arline, and we were talking about our sons, and just grateful to God. And somehow childbirth came up and I said, “Do you remember the pain of childbirth?” And she said, “No, I don’t.” Maybe some of you moms do, but she said, “No, I don’t. I don’t remember it.” Have you ever gone through something in life where you look back and you say, “I learned so much through that. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world but I don’t want to go through it again.” Have you ever had that experience? “Wouldn’t trade it for the world but I wouldn’t want to do it again. I learned so much.” If you were to ask Job, “Was it worth it all to be faithful to God in what you went through, to be an example for centuries”—it was one of the first books written in the Old Testament—“for all these millennia to encourage people, was it worth it, Job?” He’d say “Yes.” If you asked Jesus, “All the suffering you went through to be our Redeemer, the Redeemer that Job was looking forward to—I know my Redeemer lives—was it worth it?” Jesus would say, a trillion times, “Yes.” It will be worth it all. But you know what, when you are in the middle of it, sometimes we wonder, don’t we?
Would you stand with me this morning? You know what, you may be going through a hard time and the enemy says, “God has deserted you.” The enemy is saying to you, he’s lying to you, he always lies, “God has forgotten you. You are alone. You are abandoned. God may be taking care of somebody on the other side the world in Nepal or in China or somewhere, but He’s forgotten about you.” You know what, it may just be the opposite. It may be that God has said, “Take a look at my servant. Take a look at what I’m doing in them.” And the enemy who hates you so much, he hates you as much as God loves you, wants to short-circuit what God is doing in your life, and one day when you look back, when you have experienced the glory of God, when you are with Him in Heaven, when you have been rewarded, one day when God says to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy reward,” and you look back, there won’t be a single moment of hesitation that it was worth it all. It was worth it all.
The Bible doesn’t sugar-coat things. The New Testament tells us that suffering is part of what we often walk through and I know there’s all kinds of discussion around that, particularly with healing issues, and I do believe it’s God will for us to be whole, to be healed, and that is His desire. But when we go through the storm, the enemy is trying to destroy us, but God is using us. It may be to be an example to someone in your family who doesn’t know Him. Think about them. It may be a co-worker who is watching you, maybe never even said a word, but they’re watching you. Arline said to me here recently, “Babe”—you’re not supposed to call me Babe. She didn’t call me Babe. [Congregation laughs.] She said, “It’s not just people in the church.” She said, “People that I run into in the community, they’re watching.” And I said, “I know, I know.” I’d like to move off-stage sometimes, but they’re watching, but it will be worth it all.
Would you bow your heads? I wonder how many would raise a hand and say, “Right now I am in the middle of something.” [The sermon recording ends here but the service continued in prayer for those who were caught up in the storms of life.]