If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it (you will probably have to, it is not pollished) and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
Scripture: John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
My sister lived in Japan for a while many years ago. Her husband at the time was in the Marines and he was there for a couple of years. They bought a car there to drive while they were there. They did not buy a car as soon as they got there, and good thing. They ended up buying an old beater. And they bought an old beater because in Japan, cars bumped and brushed each other all the time. She said roads were narrow. People would stop on the road, get out of their car, go get a soda out of the soda machine along the road, and then get back in their car and take off. This was a common occurrence. And cars would go by and occasionally sideswipe the car that was momentarily parked on the road. She said every car in the area they lived has marks and swipes on it. And when people would bump, brush, and sideswipe cars, do you know what they did? They kept going. Sometimes they waved to let each other know they were both ok. But other than that, they did nothing. There is no doubt that would take some getting used to. The key is, when they begin driving, the people of Japan know what to expect. They know to expect bumps and dents and scratches.
If we did not know what the expectation was, you and I would have freaked out in Japan. We are used to here, where if we bumped someone elses car at an intersection and drove away, before we got home there would be a picture of our car on Facebook and a friend would have tagged us in the picture of us driving away. And then a police officer would probably show up at our door soon after wanting to know about the “hit and run”.
It’s the problem I have with preachers who focus on how God wants to bless you and how if you have the faith and live for God, He will provide you material wealth and bring you through health trials unscathed. That can attract a crowd, but that’s not truth. Timothy Keller said that kind of thinking and preaching can actually make things worse:
“The fact is, a lot of Christians are cast down all the time because they don’t expect the attacks on their peace and joy that are inevitable. At least a half of being upset is the frustration that says “It is not supposed to be like this,” because we don’t have proper expectations.”
Someone sent me a text a month ago that said “Sanctification is often painful and not for the faint of heart”. That means as God molds you and makes you to be more like Him, it can be painful to bend to His way. Too often, people have the impression that to come to Jesus is like grabbing hold of a life ring that pulls you on to a cruise ship.
The truth is, before you are saved, you have one enemy. I know this does not play well, but in Romans we are told that before we are a child of God through Christ Jesus, we are an enemy of God. Romans 5:10 – “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!” Who deserve the wrath of God, “For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…” I’ve heard preachers preach that the only prayer that God will listen to from a person who is not His in and through Jesus is a prayer of salvation. I’m not proclaiming that, but I also am not discounting that.
So before you are in Christ, making you a Friend of God, and a Child of God, you stand in opposition to God. And the world (cosmos – refers to the system that is out there that consistently works against God’s will) is not your enemy, the flesh (sarx – sinful nature) is not your enemy, and even the devil is not your enemy. You’re all on the same team. The devil is not going to send anyone to hell, the devil will eventually be in hell side by side in hell with those who do not join God’s team through Jesus. Before you are saved, your one enemy is the One who created you, and who would give anything to have you turn to him – Who did give everything to have you choose Him – by sending His son to die on the cross – he became sin, who knew no sin, so we could become His righteousness – so that we could be adopted into the family of God. And it is just as important that you hear what I did not say as it is you hear what I say. I did not say you were God’s enemy. I said He was your enemy.
When you change teams, the team you used to be on does not usually take it well. I remember when James Harrison went to play with the Bengals, some Steelers fans, perhaps even some in this room, were saying, “We don’t want him back” when the Steelers re-signed him.
My brother in law who lives near Cleveland hated Lebron James when he went to play for the Miami Heat. “We would not take him back now, even if he wanted to come back”. People burned LeBron’s jersey. But when he came back to their team, all was forgiven.
Jesus tells his disciples that if they join His team, to expect hardship. He said, “in this world you will have trouble.” Paul spends a lot of time equipping congregations to deal with persecution.
When you humble yourself and pray and accept the gift of salvation Jesus offers through the cross, your old team is not happy. Your old teammates are not happy. And it’s best to know this going into it – to expect it, if you will.
If I stand up here and fail to tell someone who is on fire for Jesus that the enemies of God are not coming, how can they be ready for attack?
CS Lewis – “If you’re shown a room you’ve been told is a Honeymoon Suite, your expectations will be high. If there’s no plush carpet, spa and champagne, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you’ve been told before the door opens that it’s a jail cell, you’ll be delighted to find even modest comforts.”
My friend and fellow pastor Lisa Fox on Friday said to me – “You’re doing well for Jesus if the devil knows your name.”
I do not know where we get this “happily ever after”, this fairy tale idea. The Apostle Paul, who wrote the Scripture to the Phillipians that I read, was on top of the world before he came to Jesus – when the world and the flesh and the enemy of God was not his enemy.
Acts 9:24-25 – but Saul learned of their plot. Day and night they watched the city gates in order to kill him. 25One night, however, his disciples took him and lowered him in a basket through a window in the wall.
Acts 16:22-23 – Over the casting out of a spirit from a young girl – “ Then the mob joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had inflicted many blows on them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to keep them securely guarded.
Acts 19:21-41 – The Riot at Ephesus – over false, hand made idols.
Acts 21:30 – The whole city was stirred up, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul, dragged him out of the temple complex, and at once the gates were shut. (And 21:32 says when the authorities came, they quit beating Paul.)
Acts 23:12-16 – When it was day, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat nor to drink until they had killed Paul. There were more than 40 who had formed this plot. These men went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have bound ourselves under a solemn curse that we won’t eat anything until we have killed Paul. So now you, along with the Sanhedrin, make a request to the commander that he bring him down to you as if you were going to investigate his case more thoroughly. However, before he gets near, we are ready to kill him.”
Acts 28:1 – Now when they had escaped…
I got to thinking about how this sermon needed to end. It has to end with the difference between a life of struggle as a Believer and a non-believer –
We have something the world does not have – hope. We do not mourn as those who have no hope. Focus on hope – focus on what’s true – and the God of Peace will be with you.
And we treat the world differently than how they treat us. We show them Christ’s love. We show them the way of Jesus and try to pull them toward Him. – They show us the ways of the world, and try to pull us toward it.
The world will not lead you to Jesus. But Jesus will lead you to the world.
Phillipians 3:7-8 –
But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ
“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.” Romans 8:18-25
“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” ― C.S. Lewis