Change is what is birthed out of Surrender to God, it is the ONLY way to become like Christ, living a life bowed down and as a slave of Christ Alone. This is how anyone can walk in their Creator's purpose. No Surrender, no change.
In wrapping up our Change series were going to wade into a no mans land of sorts..."Suffering." It's a place nobody wants to go, likes to go, or can't wait to get out of, but it is a reality for every life on this planet, so we are going there! Suffering is one of the greatest catalysts that can lead to real change in thinking, life and circumstances. Pain is a great motivator, it not only pits us against difficult circumstances and people, but it exposes the heart of the sufferer to the realities of this fallen world and the neediness of fallen humanity. Suffering begs relief and rescue, someone or something to swoop in and save the day. It puts us, if we are willing, in a place where we are ready to cry uncle...uncle, in submission to the reality that we no longer can.
Interviews - Jesse, Terry and Michele
Question: Is Suffering something you enjoy and can’t wait to enter in to?
Question: Suffering, how has it been a pathway to change in your life?
Illustration: Driving around the streets of SW Baltimore, will give you a real live picture of human suffering, despair, and hopelessness.
• Statement: The devastation is palpable! And it should disturb you severely!
Illustration: Heard a story about a pastor from a very poor 4th World Country, visiting the US. He was taken to an All You Can Eat restaurant. After seeing the extravagant layout of food, he began to weep, visibly shaken he declared that if his people saw this much food they would have NO Faith!
Reading: James 1:2-4
Statement: Rob, that’s psychotic, “Consider it pure joy…whenever I face trials.”
• Consider = Guide, Govern
• Pure = Whole, Total, Every Kind of Way
• Joy = Gladness
• Suffering = Trials = Examination, Temptation
• Know = Become Familiar With, Understand
• Testing = Proved Genuine
The Apostle Paul experienced great suffering and it was because of His choice to Follow Christ!
Question: Who here knows, that when you choose to Follow Jesus, great suffering is part of the package?
Our Barriers Regarding Suffering
Question: Do you like the way suffering reeks havoc with your emotions and your thinking?
Question: Do you like how suffering puts you in a place of vulnerability, weakness?
Question: Do you enjoy living in a place of complete and utter powerlessness?
We first run into Paul/Saul in the Book of Acts (Acts of The Apostles), here is how the scene plays out…
Reading: Acts 7:51-60; 8:1, 3; Acts 22:1-16
Statement: Paul had a choice to make that day, he could choose Christ = Suffering or he could choose another path, one that had great potential for him especially among the culture of his people.
Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:21-29
Statement: It’s when we enter into our suffering and the suffering of others that we discover the real power of God!
Question: Where is the church? Where is the Gospel and it’s power to change lives?
Illustration: Shocked Few 1st Responders do CPR - Attitude, “Not My Loved One.”
Statement: Are we the church, choosing to turn a blind eye to the suffering, not giving CPR to everyone who needs it?
Question: How do you deal with your suffering?
Question: What do you do about the suffering in the world around you?
Question: What is your greatest obstacle to entering into the suffering of others?
Closing Challenge: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4