Faithlife Sermons

Keeping Our Balance in an Upside Down World

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Stability in life is hard. Even for Christians.
We get hurt.
We suffer loss.
Disappointment comes.
Loved ones die.
Some close to us remain far from Christ.
A particular sin constantly strives to gain control.
The world around us is chaotic.
And even those who we love and respect in the Church, fail.
Wisdom escapes us.
Sadness surrounds us.
Joy eludes us.
Seasons of dryness and distance from God frighten and unnerve us.
What are we to do?
Some would just say - hold tight.
Grin and bear it.
"Praise the Lord in all things."
All things you've no doubt said to others at times. I have.
Things which while true, rarely equal real counsel.
Not when you're the one suffering.
So how DO we remain stable and balanced in such times? What are the anchors for the soul in such storms?
Where do we go for safety and rest?
To texts like the one before us today.
This is one of more than 40 prayers of Paul in the NT.
In the short span of these 5 verses, the Holy Spirit has laid a hiding place of such granite stability, it can weather anything.
It is a profound, three-legged stand.
An un-tippable perch.
An inviolable fortress.
A strong tower to run into.
A place of ultimate safety for the heart and mind.
Weary Christian, God has spoken to you here.
He wants you to know there is help.
Not some milk-sappy sentiments.
Real, solid, life sustaining, God-prepared, provision.
Help. When there is none to be found in all the advice and inventions of man.
1. A clear revelation & apprehension of the HOPE that is before us.
Ephesians 1:16–18
Psalm 16 / John 14:1-3 / 1 Peter 1:13 / Revelation 21-22
1 Corinthians 15 / 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Our hope - is the absolute guarantee of our eternal future with Him.
Col. 1.27 Paul puts it this way: "God chose to make known among how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
This life is but a mist (James 4.14).
Our experience of it in pain, is of its length.
But our experience of it in retrospect, is always of brevity. Especially when weighed against eternity.
And we are asked to seek out a sense of that glory to come.
To fix upon it.
To look forward to it.
To rejoice in it.
To long for it with great expectation.
To believe the promise of it.
And to believe that if Christ has gone away to prepare it, how magnificent must it be?
To lay hold upon a life that does not end here.
A life that barely even begins here.
To live as those already possessing eternal life.
To live as though these pains and heartaches here are but birth pains - Temporary, giving way to inexpressible joy.
Not just that the best is yet to come - but that we've never even really seen good yet.
Everything we see, touch and hear here is tainted.
All around us is stained by the Fall.
But not there.
There all will be well.
Every tear wiped away.
No sorrow. No grief. No despair. No dark night.
No endless pain. No pain at all! Not even the slightest discomfort.
Nothing but endless joy and sweetness and wonder and pleasure.
Nothing but Christ, the All in All.
Hope! Not just that things will get better. No.
Hope for the hope He has promised us.
Hope for Him.
For the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. And for the joy set before us, we can endure, because of the cross.
Hope - Hope in Christ.
Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
And we can live sick – or change our hope! And enjoy a tree of life.
John 14:1–3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Note that last statement well – He goes to prepare a place for us, that where He is – we may be also.
Christ does not save us to send us off to a contentless paradise, but to be WITH HIM! This in fact is the sum of our HOPE – HE HIMSELF IS OUR HOPE.
I married my wife to be WITH her! So He marries His Bride that we might be always and ever with Him in His unveiled presence to bask in His glory.
To be perpetually overcome by the most beautiful, desirable, flawless and magnificent object in all the universe and beyond – Himself.
And that, in a union so intimate, the human analogy of oneness of flesh in marriage is only a dark shadow.
2. A clear revelation & apprehension of the VALUE Christ puts upon His own. “What are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.”
Zephaniah 3:17 / Psalm 82:8 / Zechariah 2:12 / Psalm 2:7-9
He prays for a revelation of God's heart toward us.
That we might know "what are the riches of his inheritance in the saints."
At first blush, this seems to say something else.
At least our minds often read it differently.
Quickly, we jump to thinking about OUR inheritance. Another way of speaking of Heaven.
Synonymous with our hope.
But that is not the text.
The second feature is regarding GOD'S inheritance, not ours.
What are the riches of HIS inheritance?
Scores of times, God refers to His people as His inheritance (see: Deut. 4.20; 9.26, 29; 2 Sam. 21.3; 1 Kings 8.51, 53; Ps. 28.9; 33.12; 78.62, etc.)
In other words: we are to find great stability in a clear apprehension of how richly God prizes His own.
Hear me Christian, God does not just tolerate us.
Christ has not interposed against an unwilling Father.
We can face all the stones and arrows of life because of sin, when our hearts seize upon the depth of God's love for us. He cherishes His blood bought ones.
He prizes His saints.
He sets infinite value upon the objects of His love.
Zeph. 3.17 says "he will exult over you with loud singing."
Can you grasp that?
Can you take that in?
God exulting over you - you weary Christian - with singing!
How many times we imagine Him detached.
Good to us as a good God must be.
Loving us as any parent must love their child.
But it is not so.
We are not naturally His.
He has chosen us.
Adopted us.
Set His love upon us.
No matter how unlovely - He determines to love us.
He delights to love us.
He sets the value of His Son's blood upon us.
His banner over us it LOVE!
In the darkest hours - He counts you His prized
His sweet joy.
His personal delight.
The symbol of His riches.
Do you know it?
Do you feel it?
Do you think that it is so? IT IS!
And what more can keep us calm and peaceful in the storms of life than this?
In the boat on Galilee they forgot it. "Wake up!" they cried to Jesus. "Don't you care if we die?" Oh what a horrible charge. Oh what a faithless attack. Care? How about dying in our place?
How about suffering the deepest indignity?
How about His willingness to be misunderstood, humbled, smitten, mocked, bruised and murdered?
Care? It is as though all He is - is care.
God is LOVE.
Never doubt it dear saint - you are His inheritance.
When that informs the mind, the soul must be at peace. When assured of His good will and love toward us, the doubts over His providences are erased.
Never forget that He saved us – to WED US!
3. A clear revelation & apprehension of the POWER of Christ within us. “what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe”.
Eph. 3:14-20 / Acts 2:14-41 / Galatians 5:16-26
Standing strong is hard.
Our God knows this.
Not only in his omniscience.
He knows it because as Jesus Christ, he also experienced it the way we do.
The Son of God, humbled Himself.
In His incarnation, He lived in dependence upon the Spirit. The way He asks us to.
It is not “do as I say, but not as I do.”
He cast off His divine prerogatives.
He took on the “likeness of sinful flesh.” (Rom. 8.3)
He wasn’t sinful.
But He lived under the burdens of those fallen.
He lived like we do.
He “suffered in the flesh” (1 Pet. 4.1)
And we are called to “arm [ourselves] with the same way of thinking.” (1 Pet. 4.1)
This is so we might live like He did. Victoriously.
So we need to grasp the power of His working on our behalf. That we might never fear a lack of resource.
That we would draw from His strength - Not our own.
That we would work out our salvation in fear and trembling. With the knowledge that He is the one working in us.
Both to will, and to do of His good pleasure. (Phil. 2.12-13)
Do you believe it?
Do you believe that God is working in you?
The reason you desire holiness is because He is working.
And His Spirit gives more than the desire.
He is sent to indwell us to give the power to carry it out.
And how great is this power?
Is it just in dribbles? No!
It is in torrents.
It is unimaginable. Immeasurable our text says.
Equal to that power it took to raise Jesus from the dead. Equal to what it took to seat Him on the throne of God Himself.
More than equal to any crisis life may throw at us.
Greater than anything the enemy of our souls can conjure against us.
Greater than sickness. It transcends death.
Greater than our sin. It is HIS holiness.
Greater than our failures. It is His victory.
Greater than all the demons in Hell. He reigns above them.
Greater than this life. It carries over into the world to come.
“Greater is He who is in you, that he who is in the world.” (1 John 4.4)
Hope for the future.
The favor of highest love.
And the supply of divine power.
These are the things which can keep us stable, steadfast and strong.
Nothing else will do.
Nothing else CAN do.
This is the provision of Christ for His own.
This is the heritage of the saints.
This is how we will overcome.
Christ, is Lord of all. Believe Him.
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