Why do we study and teach history? Why do we tell the stories of the Bible and stories of faith from history?
Romans 15:4 gives us the biblical purpose of history, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
This is the first message Pastor Bill’s expository preaching series: “The Power of Stories of Faith.”
“It’s Better Higher Up”
The famous preacher D.L. Moody told about a Christian woman who was always bright, cheerful, and optimistic, even though she was confined to her room because of illness. She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, rundown building.
A friend decided to visit her one day and brought along another woman -- a person of great wealth. Since there was no elevator in the building the two ladies began the long climb upward. When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented, "What a dark and filthy place!"
Her friend replied, "It's better higher up."
When they arrived at the third landing, the remark was made, “Things look even worse here."
Again the reply, "It's better higher up."
The two women finally reached the attic level, where they found the bedridden saint of God. A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled her heart. Although the room was clean and flowers were on the window sill, the wealthy visitor could not get over the stark surroundings in which this woman lived. She blurted out, "It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!"
Without a moment's hesitation the shut-in responded, "It's better higher up." She was not looking at temporal things. With the eye of faith fixed on the eternal, she had found the secret of true satisfaction and contentment.
Why is there suffering in the world?
Will it ever get any better?
What does it mean that all creation groans?
The Apostle gives us the answers to these important questions
in Romans chapter 8.
Be forewarned. The answers might surprise you.
As parents, we try to do everything that we can to protect our children from suffering. We try to alleviate their pain whether it is physical or emotional.
So if God is our all-powerful and all-loving Father, then why doesn’t He do the same with His children?
Several years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a bestselling book called, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” Kushner proposed that God cannot be both all-powerful and all-loving. Because if He is both, a loving God would certainly do something about our suffering. Because it was more comforting to him personally, Kushner chose to believe that God is all-loving so He can’t be all-powerful. He believes that God just can’t do anything about our suffering.
In contrast to Kushner’s popular view, in Romans chapter 8 we learn that our suffering in this world is not at odds at all with God’s love for us as His children.
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.
When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are immediately adopted into God’s Family. J. I. Packer has a wonderful chapter in his book Knowing God which is called “Sons of God,” where he writes on the subject of our adoption as children of the Father.
You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father.
If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. “Father” is the Christian name for God.
When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live on the inside of us. He indwells us, He empowers us, He fills us, and He transforms us more and more into the image of Christ. But by the Holy Spirit, we also have a responsibility to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). This is called the mortification of sin. How exactly does mortification take place? How do we put the deeds of the flesh to death?