Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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July 1 – The Ups And Downs Of Life

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, from  2 Cor. 8.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ:

  • All three of our Scripture readings deal with the trials and troubles of life – afflictions, grief, guilt, insults, extreme poverty, drought, illness, and the death of a dearly loved young child.  However, it is not just the presentation of these very common concerns that we are interested in, the woes which are common to all mankind, but also how God feels about them, what can be done about them, and what place they have in our life of faith.
  • Often these kinds of experiences lead people to doubt God’s love, and may even cause us to drift further away from God.   People have a tendency to judge all things on the basis of what we are experiencing and common sense, and our own selfish interests, but this often leads to the wrong conclusions about God and His love. 
  • And because of our lack of faith and trust in God, we often have a corresponding lack of love for others when they are in need and struggling – yet there are so many ways in which we are privileged to exercise compassion and love for others, and as we see in our text, it is God’s will that we do so. 
  • So we will consider these things as we look at our text today, and we will first note that:

I.  All People, Including God’s Dear People Of Faith, Have Ups And Downs In Life

A.  This Is A Consequence Of Sin Being In The World, Generally – The Wages Of Sin Is Death, And There Are Those Willing To Strike Others And Insult Them

         

B.  But None Of This Is The Primary Will Of God, Though He Allows It Within His Greater Plan Of Blessing

OT Lesson:  “The Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”

 

Statement:

  • Hopefully this answers the question as to God’s feelings about human suffering.  It is necessary because of mankind’s sinfulness, our own included.  But it is not what God wants, nor does He allow it or inflict it maliciously – but rather begrudgingly, and unwillingly, as a necessary consequence of sin, our own sin included.  And it is not necessarily specific sins that cause specific consequences – though this is sometimes the case.  Rather, it is general – because of sin’s presence generally there are troubles and difficulties.

Application:

  • Hopefully this also helps us when it comes to our relationship with God, when we are faced with some of the more difficult experiences common to mankind – that we not misread God’s intentions, or His feelings toward us, and come to doubt His love for us.  Rather, we must remember that none of this is His primary will, or pleasing to Him, so that we always remember that He also is suffering right along with us whenever we are struggling in life.

Transition:  And there is no question that this is the right thing to do, considering what Christ has done for us on the cross.  And so as believers in Christ, true children of God:

 

II.  We Cling To God’s Love In Christ In All Times Of Trouble, Knowing How He Became Poor So That We Would Be Richly Blessed

 

Text:  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”

 

Statement:

  • What the apostle is referring to is the greatest and most absolute demonstration of God’s great love for us.  The only compulsion for what Christ was willing to suffer for us – is love.  There was no other necessity of Christ entering into our “human being” and existence, and entering into all of the suffering, trials, ups and downs of life – including the worst of suffering, when He took our sin and guilt upon Himself and endured the full just punishment and suffering for them, in our place and for our benefit. 

Application:

  • When we remember this, and understand it, and when we also remember what it means for our eternal future in the joy and bliss of God’s heavenly kingdom, we are protected from thinking evil of God in the face of our own sufferings and troubles.  We are able remember how richly blessed we are no matter what our circumstances may be, and to trust in God for help and deliverance. 
  • This is what enabled Jairus to come to Jesus for help, and what compelled the woman who was ill to “touch” Jesus.  They knew that God is not our enemy, not some great cosmic sadist, but rather our great Lover and Benefactor – “who is filled with steadfast love that never ceases, whose mercies never end, whose faithfulness is great.  They knew God, that He is good to those who wait for Him.”
  • So we too are encouraged, in all of “THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE” to look to God for comfort, help, strength, and deliverance – to trust in Him, knowing the abundance of His love for us.

Transition:  And those who thus truly know God, who in fact know the only True and Living God, are changed.  They no longer view life as a matter of collecting as much as we can of the good things in life, or racing others to see who wins by accumulating the greatest amount of wealth.  They understand the absurdity and wickedness of this.  Rather:

 

III.  In Our Good Times We Use Our Abundance To Supply The Needs Of Others

Text:  “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.  For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints – and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”

 

Statement:

  • These Macedonians were not even in one of the “ups” of life – but still they recognized that they were better off than others.  Out of reverence and honor for Christ, because they knew what He had done for them, because they knew the love of God, because they knew where they were headed, they had an entirely new perspective on life and an entirely different set of priorities.  They were earnest about one thing – helping others who were in great need.  In this, they were reflecting perfectly the nature and character of our great God and Savior, and His love for us.

Application:

  • Things are no different today.  We also are God’s dear people of faith – having come to know and believe the great love that God has for us.  We too are well aware of the reality – “that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that we by His poverty might become rich.”  Even though we may be in a “great economic depression,” we still have what we need and are fairly secure in this.  We are only deprived of our opportunities to accumulate and amass greater wealth and luxuries.
  • The thing that we must consider is what impact God’s great love for us will have in our own hearts and minds, to what degree we also are “eager and zealous” in relieving the “downs” of others around us, and in far flung places around the world.  We have opportunity, and we have some means to help.  Hopefully, we all understand the nature of God’s gracious mercy and love, so that we are moved to “excel in this act of gracious giving also.”

Conclusion:

  • All of us share in the various troubles of life in this fallen world of sin – accidents, illnesses, injuries, aging, economic challenges, and ultimately death and dying.  We also share in the blessings and enjoyment of God’s good creation.  We are all aware of “THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE.”
  • May God grant each of us the grace to know His love, that we always remain constant in faith when we are suffering the “downs” of life, various troubles, trials, and afflictions.  So that we never despair but always turn to Him for healing, deliverance, patience, and perseverance in faith.
  • May God also grant each of us such faith and knowledge of His love, that we become caring and compassionate when we see others in the “downs” of life – so that knowing His character and heart, we react and respond to the needs of others in a way that reflects the very nature of God. 
  • This is the blessedness of newness of life in Christ, the blessedness God wills to bestow upon us and share with us.  This is how we are blessed in all things in life – in all of “THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE.”  God grant such blessedness to each of us, Amen.

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.