Faithlife Sermons

Feel the Burn

Rock Steady After the Storm  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Feel the Burn

I know I’ve told you a number of times how much I hate to exercise.
The reason is simple. It hurts.
My legs burn, my lungs burn, I feel it in my core. I feel it in my arms, and my brain screams quit.
If exercise is just about that moment, or 30-minute session, who in their right mind would ever do it?
But, exercise is not about that moment, or the next one, or the next one.
Exercise is about long-term growth, benefit.
The reason why I started up again is b/c my doctor told me some numbers were too high, exercise could help, and I didn’t want to go on a med.
You probably know the physiology.
When you’re working out, on an elliptical, treadmill, in a pool, or lifting weights; during the exercise you are breaking your muscles down.
That’s what burns. Muscle tissue is tearing.
But, then, when you’re done and your muscles are resting, as they heal they grow.
Maybe not bigger, but stronger.
And, weight, BP, and cholesterol likely come down.
I haven’t been able to work out since March when the fitness room was locked up b/c of COVID. It shows. I need to get back to it.
I need to discipline myself and get back after it.
I like the comfort, or lack of discomfort, of not exercising. But, I’m concerned about those troublesome numbers again.
This reminds me of school, too.
I’m 60, it’s been 30 years since I graduated w/ my last degree. And 42 since I started college. But the memories and feelings are etched in my psyche.
Mid-terms, major papers, quizzes, tests, and finals.
The all-nighters writing papers and memorizing notes, facts, formulas for those big exams.
The burn in my stomach, in my head, in my hand as I wrote volumes of notes. Everything ached.
Nobody in their right mind would enjoy that.
The stress, lack of sleep, forcing details into you brain when you think you’re full and forcing coherent sentences out on the paper when you think you’re done.
The only way anyone can get thru this is by seeing the long-term benefit. Those moments are brutal.
But a good quiz, a good paper, lead to a good mid-term and final that lead to a good grade that leads to a degree that leads to a career.
I didn’t recognize it so much when I was there but I saw it clearly when my kids were in college.
Knowing what they wanted to do, preparing for the career they desired made all the difference in their work ethic and grades.
My oldest has her Masters and is a speech/lang. pathologist
My middle is working on his Masters and will be a licensed counselor/therapist.
My youngest is an elementary music teacher w/ plans for a Masters and other career ideas as God leads.
We saw the lightbulb come on in all 3 of them, 2 were teenagers, one in his 20s; when they figured out why they needed college and had to put w/ everything burned so bad b/c it would get them where they wanted to go.
It’s helpful to see this and understand it.
Maybe we miss it when it’s us. But when we see it in others we get it.
One of the big reasons why it’s helpful to understand this process is b/c this is also God’s process w/ us.
Quizzes, short, minor little issues to work thru.
Tests. Bigger issues.
Mid-terms, finals. major issues that we face and need to respond to in appropriate ways.
The process is not fun. It burns. We feel it in our head, muscles, stomach, all over.
If this was the extent of our involvement w/ God, who needs it?! Not worth it.
But, when we see what it produces in us over the long-term, we understand the long-term benefit, it becomes worthwhile.
Still hard, but worth what it does to us.
The burn we feel is things breaking down, muscles, rough edges, immaturity, impulsiveness, temper, foolishness.
As we rest after, we grow stronger.
We get the benefit everywhere it burned.
This is how it works.
God has got to burn you a little right now so He can build you a lot over time.
Peter wrote to ppl who were in worse shape than us. They had it harder than we do.
That said, this COVID crisis is worldwide. Every country in the world has to deal w/ it. And, they are all dealing a little differently.
Every state, county, community, and individual are impacted and have to respond to it.
Then, w/in the context of this worldwide virus, God is dealing w/ each one of us individually teaching us how to respond appropriately to it and other situations like it.
Are we responding in way that honors God and reps Jesus well?
These little quizzes and tests are not just about this moment. But, they about our long-term growth and prep for our big final exam.

It Burns

1 Peter 4:12–14 NIV
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
Why are we surprised?
Where did we get the idea that situations like this are the exception?
Where’d this come from?
The fiery ordeal he’s referring to has has a couple of connections to their situation.
1st, Nero was burning Christians on poles at night to light his garden.
2nd, God will judge everything we do in our lifetime by burning it up in a judgment fire. We’ll be rewarded according to whatever survives the fire.
3rd, he referred earlier in this letter that God is refining us now the same way ppl refine silver and gold. Heat it to extreme temps and the impurities burn up leaving pure precious metal.
You know when silver is pure when you can see your image in it like a mirror.
We know we are pure when God sees his image in us.
This is a normal part of the Christian life. But if we don’t see the long-term benefit it would be easy to quit.
We have to focus on God’s purpose in difficult situations that enable us to grow stronger.
James 1:2–3 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Romans 5:3–5 NIV
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
We are in a situ that is affecting everyone in the world and God is using it in your life to refine you in specific ways.
So, what’s our emotional response to the burn? Anger? Frustration? Anxiety?
How about joy? Is he kidding?
Rejoice in the burn b/c of the positive outcome.
And, not just once. But as a general characteristic of your life.
Do you know anybody who complains all the time? We’re all in this right now.
How would you like to be the answer to the question, “Does anybody know anybody else who rejoices all the time even though their life is hard?”
You know you’re getting stronger as God burns your rough edges off.
You are doing the right things more often, using the right words at the right time more often than ever before.
That’s b/c God burned some of the bad stuff out of you.
Imagine the difference. How do you feel when you give in to peer pressure and so something you know God does not want you to do.
Versus, the feeling you will have when you hear these words from the only person who’s opinion of your really matters,
“Well done good and faithful servant.”
They would have recognized Peter’s ref here to
Isaiah 11:2 NIV
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
The blessing received b/c you didn’t give in consists of strength and wisdom to continue to make better choices and the ability avoid more trouble.
We learn. We grow. All b/c God is bringing a little burn into our lives that will lead to a big benefit later.
PPL are going to pressure us and things are going to happen that will cause us to get caught in the shrapnel of their choices. It happens.
We need t/b careful not to bring more trouble on ourselves b/c of poor choices we make.
Being a follower of Jesus means following his example which will also help us avoid more trouble.

Follow Well

1 Peter 4:15–16 NIV
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
You know you have much less sympathy for someone who comes crying to you b/c of the trouble they are in that they brought on themselves.
It’s one thing when a wife had no idea her husband was an addicted gambler when she met him.
But, it’s a whole other situation if she married him anyway and now is facing a severe financial crisis.
We all do dumb things and it’s important we learn from them and stop doing them.
Eventually we will grow tired of the trouble.
Doctor, doctor it hurts when I do this...
It’s possible some of us really don’t like someone, maybe hate them. Someone who hurt someone you love.
But I don’t think we have any murderers here, otherwise.
I don’t know of any thieves, either.
Meddlers, however, are much more likely.
Who is nosy and meddles in everyone else’s stuff?
Focus on your own paper. Don’t try to solve everyone else’s problems. They have the same God you do. He can handle it.
This is the only time outside of Acts where the term “Christian” is used to describe us.
The ‘ian’ suffix means ‘little’. So, when we use the term Christian we refer to each other as “little Jesuses.”
Or, follow of Christ.
We bear the name of Jesus.
Just like when we pray, we close by saying, “In Jesus’ name”.
That means, what we are saying is, we believe this is something Jesus would say Himself if he were here.”
Think about what you say when you pray.
Are you sure Jesus would ask for that?
Are you sure Jesus would say that? Want that?
By saying, in Jesus’ same, that’s what you mean.
And, it’s possible to know.
When we bear the name of Jesus, we live in the name of Jesus, meaning everything we say and do should be what Jesus would do if He were in the same situ.
We bear the name of Jesus. We rep Him to this community.
To many around us, their only consideration of Jesus and interaction w/ him until they die, is when they are around us.
What is there opinion of Jesus based on what they know about you?
God is refining us now. We’re not perfect. He does not expect perfection.
Do we expect our imperfections t/b burned off now? We should.
There will be one big final judgment for all of us. But, for Xians, judgment has already begun.
That’s the burn we all feel in tough times.

Already Begun

1 Peter 4:17–19 NIV
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
It is time for judgment to begin. In fact, it already has. And, it began w/ us.
It is not reserved for our big final. There are quizzes and tests between now and then that help prep us so the last big one goes better.
God is making sure we understand the material today so we can pass w/ a better grade later.
We tend to see judgment as a negative thing. A reason for God to punish us.
But, it’s also a positive thing. We learn. We grow. We are rewarded. We are blessed now and blessed later when get an atta’ boy or atta’ girl from God when we perform well in these littler tests along the way.
He’s been working on us since before we came to faith.
Sin is being eradicated from our lives.
Trust and faith are growing
Fruit is thriving.
Is it going t/b a good year for apples? Certain things have to happen for apple trees to produce a large crop.
No late freeze in the spring. Ample water. Right temps.
God is doing these things in our lives giving us the opp for lots of fruit.
Later he will deal w/ everyone outside the church once and for all.
Maybe we want to see them suffer now for what they are doing to make our lives miserable.
That’s not good. God will refine that out of us.
But we can trust he will deal w/ every bad thing every bad person did to us.
What’s he waiting for?
Grace. Giving more bad ppl the opp to believe and be forgiven for the bad things they’ve done.
We would do well to appreciate that grace and its benefit to us. Not to mention its benefit to others.
Jesus is already in our midst. We invite him in all the time. We want him near to us.
However, when we are close to him, the differences between him and us become more apparent. And the greater the differences, the greater the discomfort we feel b/c we know we should be better.
Then there’s the discomfort of living in a fallen world and of sacrificing by not participating w/ others and receiving their hostile reactions to our rejections.
But, that discomfort will end up being much less than the discomfort we will feel when God disciplines us for giving in and being less like Jesus than we should be.
What’s hard about being saved? Faith is easy.
The hard part is surrendering everything. Giving up being the master of my own life. I like being in charge. Even though I mess myself up more than I should.
We have to have faith that Jesus is a better master of our lives than we are ourselves.
That’s hard.
Christians don’t suffer accidentally or b/c of irresistible forces or blind fate.
We suffer b/c it’s God’s will.
He loves us enough to meet us right where we are. But, he loves us enough to not leave us there.
And the changes He brings into our lives burn.
But, he is making us better by taking us thru hard things so we will have more strength and wisdom, greater faith and deeper trust; so that we can respond better to the situations we are in and bring less trouble to ourselves.
When we commit ourselves to our Creator and Savior we are ceding control and inviting him to take us to the gym and to school.
We will feel the burn. Then we will experience the benefit.
And our last big final exam will go much better than it could have.



Of those around you who only form their opinion of Jesus based on their opinion of you, what is their opinion of Jesus?
The more like Jesus you are the better their opinion of him will be.
What is Jesus wanting your to change t/b more like him?


Are you surprised at the burn you feel?
Are you surprised you have so many rough edges that need to be singed off?
Be glad God cares enough about you to change you for the better.
Don’t be surprised any more. Be glad.

Rejoice more

You control whether or not ppl describe you as a complainer or rejoicer.
You can rejoice more. You can experience more joy. It’s a choice.
Don’t be surprised that Jesus is burning your rough edges off making you more like him so those around you have a better opinion of him.
Of course, they will of you too.
That’s enough to make you feel more joy.
When we commit ourselves to our Creator and Savior we are ceding control and inviting him to take us to the gym and to school.
We will feel the burn. Then we will experience the benefit.
And our last big final exam will go much better than it could have.
This is how it works.
God has got to burn you a little right now so He can build you a lot over time.
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