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Today on Fellowship in the Word pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. The way we suffer has so much to do with the effectiveness of our testimony so were living in a time right now in America where the whole country. Everyone trying to cope with what we call these really difficult circumstances when everyone one of the people who said they just always going to use it.
Really don't care to complete peace in the midst of all this turmoil that we keep saying joining us today on this additional Fellowship in the Word pastor Bill Gebhardt Fellowship in the Words the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible church located in Metairie, Louisiana Pastor Bill Gebhardt now again he shows us how God's word meets our work that I know what you think you think that most American Christians. I like prosperity just make my life as Hopi and prosperous as possible and every day without any bombs and then I'll be good in God would say, and you will John or Berg said that she said God is and at work producing the circumstances I want. God is at work in bad circumstance.
Eight stanzas to produce the me he wants is what happens. It shapes your character when were persecuted for all of us. Now back to defeat Philippians 1 again right where we were back that same chapter. Philippians 1. The second thing that suffering and persecution brings us verse 12 pulses now I want you to know he brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel so that my imprisonment is the cause of Christ become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and everyone else and that most of the brethren trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear, Paul says look you want to know something. Now they all know where is Paul. He's under arrest is being guarded and the house arrest in Rome by the praetorian guard at this stage he has no idea he's going to live or die is as yet.
This is great this is really good because he said I can produce the gospel and we realize in the rest of Scripture that apparently some of the praetorian guard even became Christians because of Paul being in prison, but he said there's more to it than that.
He said in verse 14, and that most of the brethren trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment have far more courage now to speak the word of God without fear. In other words, the persecution and suffering. I'm experiencing reveals my courage and grows other people's courage. In other words, when our culture persecutes us the best of us. Hopefully the most mature of us handle it with real joy like the early apostles that will encourage all the rest of us to have the courage that we need so would not only shapes our character, but reveals and grows our courage. Now go with me to second Timothy chapter 3, second Timothy chapter 31 verse verse 12 I can remember I preach this verse. One of the first I ever preached everything at the church way back when there were dinosaurs here and know that hides when I preach the sermon and I said when I look at this verse. I know none of you have a refrigerator magnet with this on active member doing that.
So one of the ladies in the church took that up as a challenge and she took it you took calligraphy up and she wrote the verse for me and we still have the verse.
She wanted me to know that she thought about it, not the business verse he says. And it's interesting to me, says verse 12. Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. How many of you want to live godly in Christ missing yeah you will be persecuted. You might be persecuted by your family to be persecuted by your friends, your be persecuted wherever your employed, you can certainly be persecuted by your neighbors and you can be persecuted by your country. If you want to live godly you will be persecuted.
Now there's a way to avoid that in their careers.
A lot of Christians chooses. I'm looking live godly home and just like they do. I'll come Sunday morning. I'll be nice a guy by shooting some people but out there.
Amen. Be just like them, then they won't know when it won't bother me but you never be godly everyone we wants to be God is going to be persecuted. AW toes are said to be right with man skews me to be right with God has often meant that you're in trouble with men. He's right. That's the way it is. Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones said if you are suffering as a Christian and because you are a Christian is one of the surest proves you can ever have of the fact that your child of God.
So the point is suffering goes along with being a child of God. Somehow we think know that can't be right that really can't be the case. I don't really want to suffer, but believers have suffered since the time of Christ everywhere in the world are suffering all over the world right now. It's amazing that most Christians don't realize how many Christians have been martyred in the current world and yet were all upset because our culture is post-Christian and because it's post-Christian and has completely different values than what we have but suffering persecution shapes our character reveals and grows our courage proves our godliness in this one.
It's very important GoToMeeting acts chapter 16 the book of acts chapter 16 and this is a great illustration of how we should handle this verse 22 it says.
The crowd rose up together against them is in a moment who they are. He said the crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates toward the robes often and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. This is Paul and Silas.
They got didn't beat with rods a please understand, that's not a little tap on the behind, beaten with rods almost always ends up with a lot of broken bones.
These are rods that are heavy and you really beat with, so he says we order them to be beaten with rods and they struck them with many blows they threw them into prison, commanding the Jell-O to guard them securely and he, having received such command. He threw them in the innermost prison and fastened their feet in stocks. Would you call that if it was you, for you a good day that the good day to you, beaten with rods put in innermost prison and then if we go in stocks. How would you react I'm afraid a lot of us would do what wine wears God.
How could this possibly happen to me to see how they react, but about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God that the context of using hymns of praise just been beaten with rods put in prison read in stocks that sing and praise the Lord. What is that all that.
That's joy. That's joy.
It says the prisoners were listening to them, but they were, what would you do if you saw two men coming into prison. They were both beaten badly with rods and any put them in a special cell in the middle of the prison they put their feedstocks what your first thought on those poor guys. I don't know what they did biblical bed that is and then all of a sudden you hate see them or hear them singing praise songs would you wonder other must be something wrong with them why what the other singing suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's change one fastened and when the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors were opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. By the way, if they did escape he gets a capital offense of the guard series and I just go myself and he must've said something because Paul cried out with a loud voice said do not harm yourself know what we are all here not just ponds that were all here don't harm yourself now the point for a lot of people in prison is for the guards that the doors are open. Most the time where people go out right. If I can get out. I'm going out so he's ready to do what he thinks is the only thing you can do. And Paul says don't worry about it were here. Now imagine what's going on in his head he called lights he rushed and trembling, and if in fear. He fell down up front. Paul and Silas, and after he brought the mighty said servers. What must I do to be saved. When must I do to be saved, you're in a completely hopeless difficult situation. Your body is probably racked with pain in your singing joyfully praises to God and God supernaturally opened all the doors. Can I have what you have. Could I experience what you're experiencing. Seek the context of suffering gives us an enormous platform for sharing Christ's amazing platform.
The way we suffer has so much to do with the effectiveness of our testimony so were living in a time right now in America where the whole country suffering from while depression, drugs, drinking, everyone trying to cope with what we call these really difficult circumstances. What if we want what we want whining when everyone complaining one of the people knew of said throne was joyful. Just always joyful their total peace here. They really don't care current complete peace in the midst of all this turmoil, we keep saying that we have.
Peter wrote he said you know what may be a time when you have to give an account for the hope it's in you and that infers the idea that someone may ask you why are you so different, she why are you handling this in a way that no one else does. I'm afraid in our country even on the basis what will gone through right now I'm a social were doing that. So the countries not asking because were just like they are.
We do the same things they do. But this produces an enormous amount of joy.
They said to him, believe in the Lord Jesus, you will be saved you and your household is one people to Christ, and I'm guessing not just the guard I'm guessing a lot of other prisoners and listen to it the whole time probably thought the same way. What we have to do. You just need to believe in Jesus Christ, hey I can do that. Is it it it produces a joy that makes us effective witnesses, but I don't know if anyone in our culture right now is saying you know all the things were going through right now everything. The only thing I can understand is there's a whole group of people out there that are Christians in their joyful and peaceful through this whole thing and I just don't understand because we should be. You see, we should be, but Army or we just as angry just as whining. Just as demanding as everyone else in our culture. It produces joy when going out of Romans eight Romans chapter 8 this one verse. Verse 18 Paul is going to give another perspective so suffering and persecution shapes our character reveals and groans our courage approves our godliness in the produces joy in our life. Words should report produced joy in our lives now. Paul's going to give you frame I Paul, how can you be joyful in the midst of all the suffering doesn't it hurt to be stoned and left for dead doesn't hurt to be flawed with 39 lashes five times doesn't hurt to be beaten with rods three times and Paul would say golf course.
It dives so that's why rights verse 18 he said, for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us not comparable, I don't know how many times he almost died, but I'm guessing on several occasions. There were several occasions when his enemies wanted him dead is it is not even worthy to be compared and that's because he was a Christian. That's the whole point for us. The best is yet to come for us is not comparable with the present in any way, not in any way that's a Paul says he says in that sense we know from the rest of Scripture. There will be what rewards from whole from God. You see, that's the point.
So if I have to endure this suffering, but I do with joy and peace. I am rewarded when you get to the book of Revelation. God tells them in Revelation 6 and 16 and 18 and 19 in your suffering. You will be avenged and what he means is either one exercises judgment here in verse six of chapter 6 of Revelation. It says they will be rewarded with white robes, signifying their Holiness and the purity in chapter 12. I love this heaven will rejoice over them because they did not shrink from death if you're Margaret.
Just imagine that if you are the diver Jesus Christ and you did when you get to heaven is a celebration not just because God is there because you were there. I love that heaven will rejoice over them, because I did not shrink from death.
Here they are these people willing to die for Jesus Christ and as a celebration in heaven for them. James says they will receive the crown of eternal life. This tolerant culture we call America is fast becoming completely intolerant of us and that's going to continue.
That's okay. We have to remember even in the midst of persecution that this suffering persecution for the name of Christ for living the Christian life shapes our character.
It reveals and grows our courage improves our godliness. It produces joy in our lives and the promises us a reward. I will have God have the last word in this I want you now to turn me to second Corinthians chapter 4 second Corinthians chapter 4 in sort of an overview of this whole thing that I've been talking about.
Second Corinthians 4 verse seven, Paul says we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves couple things when his word is the power come from to endure the persecution from us gotchas I give you the power Howard Henriksen was my mentor Dallas seminary.
He always used a different thing with this person I thought was more pointed healers translated this verse we have this treasure in peanut butter jars and you and I are the peanut butter jars is this presence of God is in peanut butter jars people just like you and me just regular people.
He said, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. Therefore, we are afflicted in every way.
When I crushed.
We are perplexed or not despairing. We are persecuted but were not forsaken where struck down, but were not destroyed while always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also be manifested in our body. Those verses tell us something one tells us about our attitude. How should we be able to go through this well were not crushed were not despairing were not forsaken and were not destroyed, does that describe you know it's an amazing thing to watch how Christians are living in so much fear because they fear what this country is going to become.
And it doesn't really matter what this country becomes. It really doesn't matter. Building it matters is your relationship with Jesus Christ. How closely do you walk with him. That's all that's going to matter. Here we keep open this change the circumstances, he can do the best you can but everything I think it's been happening is been happening for almost 100 years here and now it's just starting to get this tremendous amount of momentum.
Verse 16 therefore we do not lose heart matter what's going on. We do not lose heart. But though the outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. Now here's his description of suffering for momentary, light affliction is producing for us the eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. He calls everything that can happen to you in this life momentary, light affliction, while in college is momentary because that's all it is. Just imagine you had to suffer for 20 years I was 20 years stack up with eternity. The millisecond that mean anything. That's why Paul calls it momentary, light affliction, he said in verse last verse while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen for the things are seen their temporal things are not seen their eternal that's the perspective we live in a country that's quickly becoming intolerant of us and all I want to say to you is that's okay. That doesn't change at all.
The way you and I should live our lives, and it may be the circumstances by which you and I will as he is already said have our character improved have our joy manifested have more courage than we've ever had be more effective in witnessing for Jesus Christ and being able to lead men and women, boys and girls to a saving knowledge all because the culture is becoming intolerant of you and me is front of the history of our country. In some ways is had a detrimental effect on us as believers in Christ we have since we've had such peace. Such tranquility, such assurance. We have always had a major seat at the table but there's things are changing and it should not shock us or surprises we should do all that we can in order to stay at the table but we do realize that won't really matter because all that really matters is how close we stay to you. So, because you are sovereign and loving God use the circumstances to make me a better man to make me more effective for Jesus Christ and begin new all the glory. We pray this in Jesus possible go on the radio ministry of fellowship in the world. If you ever missed one of our broadcast or maybe you just listen to the message one more time. Remember, you can Google a great website called one place.com that's one place.com and you can listen the fellowship and the word online at that website you will find on with today's broadcast but also many of our previous audio programs as well Fellowship in the Word. We are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help with radio ministry continuous broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly.
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