Romans #10 – Best News Ever Find Your Happiness (Romans 5:1-11)

Romans #10 – Best News Ever Find Your Happiness (Romans 5:1-11)

– All right, children, 44 Years ago, this was written where, you’re in the middle of a great experiment that’s been running since 1776. All men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of?

– Happiness.

– How’s it going?

– Woo.

– We’ve been chasing happiness for 244 years. That’s the great American experiment. We have discovered it’s a wild goose chase and there’s no goose. That’s what we have learned in 244 years. Are people happy?

– Yes.

– One is, everyone else is not, just one, just one. We’re all coming to your house, sister after church, we wanna know, we wanna know what the secret is. Let’s just be honest. People are a little stressed and depressed. There’s an attitude of pessimism and also defeat. And what we’re seeing is the number one category of prescription medications is antidepressants. The number one mental illness is anxiety. Back in June, the center for disease control put out a survey, we all know that surveys are true. And polls, so trust ’em all, said that 40% of Americans had a diagnosed mental or behavioral disorder. And this is Thanksgiving. You’re gonna go see relatives and you know that they’ve not been diagnosed, but you know that, that number is higher. Amen?

– Amen.

– You guys are laughing ’cause you’re like, he’s met my family, yes. As well, didn’t the election help just make us all more joyful and hopeful?

– Woo!

– Woo! Mental health apps are up 30% since the presidential election. Everybody’s at home with a mask downloading an app, hoping to get happy, doesn’t work like that, it’s very lonely and sad. In addition, what we are seeing is just an increase in anxiety and despair. One poll said that this was a record count for hopelessness and joylessness and fearfulness in American history. Okay, now what’s so bizarre, even pastors have been affected with this attitude of defeatist mentality, pray for all churches and all pastors. We love all churches and pastors, but I had kind of a bummer week. I was working with a lot of pastors, phone ringin’, speaking at events. They all for the most part are very defeated, very discouraged, very depressed. One in five churches is looking at dying and closing. One in three pastors is looking at quitting, and my thought is if the people who teach the Bible don’t have any hope, what are we supposed to do? What help is there for everyone else? Well, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna open God’s word and we’re gonna hear a tremendous word in Romans 5:1 through 11. And he’s gonna use this word three times, rejoice, rejoice, rejoice. He’s gonna have three big ideas and every one includes this concept of rejoicing. You know why? The world does not understand rejoicing. The Word teaches us about rejoicing. The Word knows something that the world doesn’t know. And the Word gives something that the world cannot have, Amen?

– Amen.

– All right, so this is where if you wanna make noise, you wanna laugh a little, you wanna have a little fun, we’re gonna have ourselves a little good time, okay? Woo, I love golf. I love golf claps, all right, all right, here we go. Romans five:1 and two, first he tells us, you can rejoice in God. Now, if you don’t know God, you don’t know that there is a God to rejoice in. This is the hope of the believer, whatever we’re in, God’s in it with us, God’s in it through us, God is in it for us, amen?

– Amen.

– All right, so here we go. Therefore, based on everything he has taught up through the end of chapter four, since we have been justified, a lotta good news here, by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Through Him, we also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. First thing he says is rejoice in God. Here’s the big idea, don’t start out there, start up there, right? Don’t look out there and look to rejoice, look up there and then start to rejoice. We rejoice in who God is, we rejoice in what God does. And three things he tells us the God gives us here. He gives us righteousness. When he uses the language of justified, what that means is God has declared you acceptable, holy, right, and righteous in His sight. This is such good news because everything in our world right now is totally not dependable. Are we open? Are we closed? Can we travel? Can we not travel? Is the election over? Is it not over? Is the vaccine gonna work? Or are we all gonna turn into the zombie apocalypse? You know, what is happening? Here’s what you need to know, Jesus died, Jesus rose, Jesus saves. Once he declares you righteous, it is unchangeable, forever fact, you can bank all of your eternity on that fact, okay? That’s really good news. Something you can count on, someone you can trust in. He also gives you peace. He talks about peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Let’s just be honest, there’s a little shortage of peace right now, amen? Let’s start globally, so we have a global problem?

– Yes.

– Yes, yes, yes. Do we have a national problem? Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, we do, we do. So the result is, do we also have personal problems? Yes, so if you’re waiting for your life to be okay and our country to figure it out and our planet to be safe, you’re gonna wait forever. Okay, it’s not gonna get any better. Peace is not out there, peace is up there and it comes in here. And what he’s talking about, he’s talking about the best peace of all, peace with God. You know what? It is just really nice to know that you have one relationship that is healthy. You have one person you can meet with who is dependable. You have, you have one eternity that begins the moment that you meet Jesus. And it is forever and altogether marked by peace. And here’s what happens, before you trust in Jesus, you’re at war against God. Once you receive Jesus, you surrender. That’s how God has peace. See when we sin, we declare war on God. When we surrender, we have peace with God. Some of you right now, it’s just time to ask, what do you need to surrender right now? What sin? What longings? What hopes, what fears, what dreams, what aspirations that you need to surrender them? And sometimes the reason that we don’t have peace is because we will not surrender. Once you surrender, God, this is Your life. God, this is Your future. God, this is, this is, this is Your desires for me, and I surrender it to You, a peace comes, a peace that surpasses understanding. Jesus promised this. He said in the world you’ll have trouble, He nailed that by the way, He bullseyed that, in the world you will have trouble, He said, but take heart. I have overcome the world and I give you peace. So peace doesn’t come from the world, peace comes from the Lord and the peace carries us through the world. The problem with so many, they’re waiting for the world to come to peace. And the result is they have no peace. Well, ultimately we get our peace from the Prince of peace. That ultimately is the one who gives us righteousness, number two, He gives us peace, and number three, He gives us grace. It says, we rejoice in hope because we have access into this grace in which we stand. You know what you need right now? More grace, you need more grace to have hope, you need more grace to not fear, you have more grace to proceed forward with the life God has given you. And ultimately the good news is that our God is a God of grace. This is such good news. And the good news is that God will be faithful to dispense His grace at your moment of need. In the old Testament God’s people were wandering around the wilderness, headed toward home. That’s our life on earth today. This planet is our wilderness and heaven is our home, we’re wandering around. And every morning they needed to trust that God would provide for the needs of that day and something that was called manna. It was literally their bread, their provision. And so God would provide every day. And if you thought, well, maybe He won’t provide tomorrow. So I’ll save some for tomorrow, it would spoil because you need to trust God every day, just like there’s new manna, there’s new grace every day. Today, you get the grace for today. You don’t get the grace for tomorrow ’til when? ‘Til tomorrow. And faith is saying, the God who provided yesterday is providing today and will provide tomorrow, that’s what faith is. It’s not seeing, it’s trusting until you’re seeing. And what he’s talking about here is that for your life to have meaning, value and purpose, there needs to be a person and a purpose greater than your life that is over your life. The only way to make sense of all that is your life is to have a person and a purpose that is over your life and greater than your life. And it says here that that is our Lord Jesus Christ. And the language of Lord was a political title for the highest ruler. While Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, ’cause He rules over all Kings and all Lords. And what he’s saying is that Jesus is over all of our globe and that Jesus is over all of our lives. Not only that, He gives us access to his grace. That’s what he says. How many of you this year, you have really come to appreciate access? How many things have been closed this year? COVID is like the kid brother that gets blamed for everything. Just is, I went to order a salad recently. I don’t have salad, COVID, how many salads have COVID? Like, I don’t understand. I see the death count, but not that salad death count, like has it, has it morphed over to salads? I mean, like we ordered a garage door for the church, it’s 10 weeks late, it just showed up. They said, sorry, COVID. When did garage doors get COVID? Like COVID is the kid brother getting blamed for everything. And what you see as a lack of access. How many of you, school was closed, church was closed, restaurant close, business close, water slide park, close. Anything that doesn’t stink closed. Government’s still open. Okay, so- like, could we reverse this? Could we shut down the government and open up the water slide park, please? Pastor Mark, that’s not nice, no, that’s true. And the good news is you have access to this grace. What that means is the Jesus who rules over your life, He will dispense and disperse grace into your life. How many of you he’s been faithful to you this year? Can we testify? He’s been faithful. It’s been a bad year, but he’s been a good God. How many of you, you’re like, I can’t believe I’m still here. This is a miracle. It is, you know what? And He’ll provide for you tomorrow. And you need to know that this access to our God and His grace is really tremendous. And when our first parents, Adam, and Eve sinned against God, they were cast out of God’s presence and away from God’s grace. When Moses went up to the mountain to get the 10 commandments, the people couldn’t even approach the mountain. They did not have access to God’s presence and grace. When the temple came and the Holy of Holies and the presence of God was on the earth, only one person could enter one time a year. You didn’t have access to God’s presence, you didn’t have access continually to God’s grace. Here’s the good news, you do now.

– Amen.

– Amen.

– Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus rose. The veil was torn from top to bottom from God to us. God’s presence was made available. Jesus is ruling right now as King of Kings, Lord of Lords. He is overall, He knows the future, He rules the future, He’s got a plan and a destiny for you, and He’s with you through the struggle and the fight. And He’ll drop the grace at the time you need to get you through the circumstances you face. Our hope is not down here our hope is in Him, and ultimately it’s not what we see. We’re trusting in the one who sees and knows all. And when he says this, we should rejoice, let’s just say, there’s not a lot of rejoicing going on today. There’s just not. And there’s not a lot of access. How many of you can’t even go to your relatives’ house for Thanksgiving ’cause the states are closed? And some of you are like, thank you, Lord. Some of you, however, all depends on your family. It can be a burden or a blessing, it could go either way, but no matter what, isn’t it good to know that God’s presence is always open, that God’s grace is always available, that when you can’t count on much of anyone or anything, there is one thing you can count on, and that is access to God’s presence and receiving of God’s grace, amen?

– Amen.

– All right, number two. He then goes on to tell us we can not only rejoice in God, we can rejoice in hardship. How many of you are having a little bit of hardship? Be honest. Here’s what he says, not only that, here’s our word again, but we rejoice in our what?

– Sufferings.

– In our sufferings. Let me say this. The whole world is waiting to rejoice after our sufferings, right? As soon as it’s over, it’s gonna be great. Now we’re like, I don’t think it’s ever gonna be over. I don’t think it’s gonna be great. This is the conclusion that people have come to. Now, some of your optimists trying, look on the bright side. There isn’t one. I’ll just tell you, there was, and they burned it down. It’s no longer there. Remember the 15 days to flatten the curve seven months ago? Well that’s okay, wait ’til the election. We got a vaccine coming, right? How many of you are having a hard time rejoicing in our suffering? Be honest, right? Anyone can rejoice after the sufferings, only the believer can rejoice in the sufferings. In the middle, you can either worry or you can worship. You can worry about what’s beyond your control, or you can worship the One who’s in control. And the reason that we keep throwing parties and rejoicing is because we’re told to. Your soul needs to have something to look forward to right? In a day when everything fun is canceled and we canceled everything fun this year, school is closed, sports are closed, activities are closed, recreation is closed. Don’t tell anybody my wife and I went to a movie this weekend. Woo!

– I barely remembered how to do it, it’s been so long. It was crazy. We were out and we’re like the theater’s open. Nobody’s looking, we’re going in. We went in. There was seven people in the whole movie theater. Me and Grace and five people who looked at us like we were dangerous. That’s what, it was very awkward, right? But, at the end of the day, it was like, it was so nice to finally have access. You know what? Once things open, people will rejoice, but because heaven is open and the grace of God is open and the love of God is available. And the spirit of God is poured out. we can be rejoicing while we’re suffering. We can be rejoicing while we’re waiting. And ultimately, if you can learn to rejoice now, find a reason to thank God, find a reason to enjoy God, you will be an emotionally healthy person. And then if, and when some things change, you’ll have additional reasons to rejoice, but you rejoice in your suffering, knowing, guaranteed, 100%, promise, suffering. Here’s the great chain reaction of grace at work in your life. Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character. Character produces, hope, hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured, overflowing into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. First time he’s mentioned the Holy Spirit since chapter one and he’ll speak of him 20 times coming up in chapter eight, who has been given to us. Now, let me say this. The big problem that people are having right now is we don’t tell people what to do with suffering. How many of you didn’t study that in school? Right? You know, like, would you like to pick your gender and learn about sexuality? You’re like, I would like to learn how to live my life. Right? When hard times, come, what the heck am I supposed to do? Right, and what he’s talking about here with suffering, he’s talking about distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation, hardship, the struggle. We’re in the struggle. We’re in the struggle, and the question is, what do you do with it? And this is the great opportunity for the Christian church. Cause everybody’s in the struggle, but not everybody knows what to do in the struggle. This is where the Word of God is timeless, so it’s always timely. And because God’s Word is timeless, it always speaks to troubled times. And what he’s saying is when you suffer, not if, when you suffer, here’s what you do. You use it as an opportunity to grow in character. So what he’s saying is that suffering is not a misery for the believer, it is a ministry, meaning there is in suffering an opportunity granted by God. So what he says is, first of all, suffering needs to result in endurance. And this has been the problem this year. People keep trying to set a finish line ’cause they don’t wanna endure. Well, as soon as this happens, as soon as that happens, and the problem is they keep moving the finish line. Have you noticed that? The finish line keeps moving. Like, well, how far do I have to run? Well, the Bible says to run with endurance or perseverance, the race marked out for you. And the thing is we don’t, we don’t necessarily know the finish line. So what he’s talking about is perseverance and endurance. And what he’s saying is there’s a fortitude that can come to those who are filled with the Spirit of God. And they’re seeking to grow in the character of Christ. There is a supernatural endurance that God permits. And what happens, and I’m particularly grateful for it is that endurance focuses us. And it requires us to reset some things. When you need to endure some hardship, you’ve gotta get rid of secondary things that take away your time and energy. I don’t have time for this, I don’t have time for that. I’ve gotta reset my priorities, I gotta refocus my intentions, I gotta reallocate my resources. How many of you that’s been this year? It’s been a hard reset. You know, and many people are like, I just can’t wait ’til we get back to normal. I’m telling you, we’re not. We’re not. And things might not be okay, but you can be okay and things might not get better, but you can get better. And many things aren’t gonna make it, but you can make it. That’s what I’m telling you. If you’ll take the suffering and commit yourself to being filled with the spirit and then to persevering, enduring through whatever God may have for you. And then thirdly he says, if you’re suffering and then you focus on spirit-filled endurance, it produces character. Right now, the whole world is using their suffering to excuse bad character. We want to use suffering to grow good character. Right now, the way people are responding to all of their suffering is simply giving them permission to be the worst version of themselves, true or false?

– True.

– It’s true. So we wanna use it to become the best version of ourselves. This is the secret of the believer that ultimately suffering when coupled with endurance in the Holy Spirit, it produces character, and character really is the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, we’re not seeing that in our world. But we can see that in the children of God, if they will patiently endure by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can grow in the character of Christ. Here’s what I’m telling you. The greatest misery is the greatest opportunity to experience the greatest ministry. I’m telling you that everything we’re going through is an incredible opportunity that God has given you and me to grow in character. And I’ve seen it, I wanna encourage you. Our church is strong, not weak. We’re moving forward, not backward. I have seen the men step up in a supernatural way this year. I have seen them love their wives and love their kids and lead their families. I’ve seen a supernatural character manifested among the church family here at the Trinity Church. We’re not fighting. We’re worshiping. We’re not against each other, we’re for each other. We’re not turning on each other, we’re turning toward one another. We have accelerated in character this year as a church family, because under pressure, pressure does not change who you are, it reveals who you are. And then you decide whether or not you’re going to change. And let me say this as well. It’s fine to count calories, it’s fine to count dollars, it’s fine to count ballots, but God wants you to count character. So while everybody else is counting everything else, as God’s people we’ve gotta ask, how’s my character? Am I growing? Am I maturing? Am I learning through my patient enduring? And what, let me say this as well, the counselors will tell us that when people stop enduring, they stop growing. Give you an example, if someone, let’s say at the age of 15, starts self-medicating when hardship comes, drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, gambling, shopping, whatever the diversionary tactic is to avoid reality and working through hardship, at that moment, they stopped maturing, which means if you’re 55 years old, but you started self-medicating at 15, you are biologically 55, but you are morally 15. You stop growing. Okay, and I’m telling you, some of you have avoided hardship. Some of you have self-medicated, some of you have denied reality, and now you’re under more pressure. And what I’m telling you, this is a great opportunity to accelerate your maturity and character. And God could supernaturally even make up for the time, seasons and years that you did not grow and mature. And I’ll just tell you this. This has been the greatest year of my life, that may tell you about a hard life, it’s been a great year. I have known God’s peace and power and presence in a stronger, weightier, heavier measure this year than any time in my life. I’ve seen God do more in our ministry than in any time in my life. I am enjoying my relationship with Jesus and my wife and each of our kids and our church family more than any season of our life. Here’s what I’m telling you, things can get worse, but you can get better, things out there might be a disaster, but things in here can be a blessing, okay? And I just refuse to not defy gravity. I refuse to play by the rules of the world. I refuse to set my hope on anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ and the grace of God through the Holy Spirit. We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces hope. Woo. This is what we need, amen?

– Amen.

– How many of you, you learned this year that you had hope in the wrong thing? You’re like I had hope in a candidate. I had hope in a vaccine, I had hope in a mass. I had hope in a political party. I had hope in governmental officials. I had hope in the stock market, I had opened the NASDAQ. That didn’t work. Here’s the good news. All we got left is God. Some of you are like, that’s terrible. No, that’s awesome. It simplifies my job. Right? Rock paper, scissors, Jesus, economy, vaccine, election, Jesus, Jesus always wins. What we’re finding now is any object of hope other than the God who rules over all and gives grace to His people is a false hope that does not deliver results. There’s hope. So, you know what? There’s great hope for you. I’m just telling you, you’re gonna have a great day. You’re gonna have a great week. You’re gonna have a great future. You’re like, but Mark, what about the world? I’m not talking about the world. I’m talking about you. I have hope for you. I have hope for your future. I have hope for your family. I have hope for your destiny. I have hope for your eternity, ’cause if you’re under the Lordship of Jesus and you are patiently enduring by the power of the Holy Spirit and He is pouring out grace on you to build character in you, then why should I not have hope for you? If you don’t have hope for yourself, borrow mine until you get your own. I’m really excited. I’ve got big plans for next year. I plan on growing our church family by grace of God, add more kids, add more classroom space, adding other locations and services. I’m putting some plans together. You know what? While the world is falling down, we’re just gonna rise up, while everything is closed, we’re gonna stay open, I’ll just tell you. There’s great ministry opportunity. Because if there’s no hope anywhere else and they meet the children of God and they’re like, why are you not suicidal and fighting? Oh, we’ll tell you about Jesus. You know? And we’ll tell you about the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. And that one day He’s gonna set this whole planet on fire and give us a new one, and we’re just patiently enduring. That’s what we’re doing, okay? Gosh, I feel like I passed through a library. I just do sometimes, you guys are better than the nine. If the dead in Christ rise first, that’s the nine, but you guys- little better. And he says that hope does not put us to shame. You know why? Those who depend on the grace of God, they make it through a few battles and their hope grows. And they realize, you know what? God doesn’t fail. See some of you, the reason that you’re struggling right now with hope and you’re fearful of shame, this is kinda your first battle. You’re like, I’ve not, I’m a new believer. I’ve not been here before, I’ve not been through this. Let me just tell you from a, an old spiritual soldier, this is not the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. This is not the worst year I’ve ever been through. This is not the toughest circumstances I’ve ever led through. When you’ve been through a few battles, you have a little more hope, you’re like, okay, we just keep going, that’s what we do. And then it doesn’t put you to shame. Here’s what I’m telling you. There’s a lot of things that we’ve said and done, especially me, I mean, don’t Google me, but there’s things we’ve all said and done. There we’re a little ashamed of, right? I had a guy come up recently, he’s like, I don’t agree with everything you’ve said, me neither, brother, me neither. But here’s what I do know, those who trust in God, those who are filled with the Spirit, those who seek to grow in character and rejoice in their suffering, they have nothing to be ashamed of. And ultimately when they stand before Jesus, they will hear well done, good and faithful servant. And there will be no shame for them. There will only be the savior who is awaiting them. So here’s what I’m telling. You may not be able to decide what happens to you, but you can decide who you become through what happens to you. And you can rejoice without relief. Many people are saying I will rejoice as soon as there is relief, you need to rejoice before there is relief, because in the rejoicing, that is part of the relief. You need to laugh a little bit. You need to praise a little bit. You need to sing a little bit. You need to pray a little bit. Your soul needs that so that you continue to foster that flame of hope. Now, let me say this in practice to two different groups, how many of you are leaders? Business, ministry, family, you’re a leader. Okay? Here’s the key. How many of you wanna increase your leadership impact in whatever sphere God has given you? Then you need to increase your pain threshold. Greater impact, requires greater pain. The more pain you endure, the more impact you can have. A friend of mine, he’s a Olympic wrestling coach. And he says that most athletes at that level, they’re equal. The difference is mental. That the one who can endure more pain wins. What’s happening right now is people are being brought to a new pain threshold. And the key is to increase your pain threshold because the greater amount of pain you are able to endure, the greater impact you are able to have. I’ll prove it to you. Greatest impact of any leader in the history of the world. What’s his name?

– Jesus.

– Jesus. Who endured the greatest pain in the history of the world? Jesus, the greatest pain equals the greatest impact. The more pain you endure, the more impact you will have. This is about increasing your pain threshold as a leader. Number two, how many of you are parents? Okay, parents, you got kids? I know you got kids. Okay, we’ve grown by 300% in kids this year. We have. In the last eight or 10 weeks, we’ve added 500 kids to our roster, little guys, okay? So you guys all were like be fruitful and multiply, life verse, that’s my life verse. Come on baby, let’s make another baby. All right? Okay, so I know you got a lot of kids. Question, how many of you want your kids to have character? Okay. But how many of you kids don’t, how many of you don’t let your kids go through hardship? Scottsdale. Gotcha. What we think is if we put them in the best church, the best youth group, the best school, the best team, the best coach, the best tutor, if they get the best grades, if they get the best SAT score, if they get into the best college, if they get the best internship and then they get the best job, they’re gonna have the greatest character. Nope. It’s only by learning how to rejoice through suffering that you grow in character. And some of you parents, you are removing the one opportunity that God has given them to grow in character. And in faith, you need to let them learn to patiently endure. Now, I’m not saying you go home, you’re like Pastor Mark said I need to put the screws to you, it’s gonna be a rough. He said, you need more suffering. I prayed about it, I agree. I was reading the old Testament, I got some ideas what we’re gonna do to you. Okay? I’m saying that life brings its own hardship, amen?

– Amen.

– Okay. Well, let’s just do this. So what hardship did your kids have to go through this year we’re still going through? School was closed. Sports were closed. Events were closed, trips were closed, Vacations were closed, they’ve had some struggles, some hardship, some things that they were looking forward to were gone. My oldest son, yeah, he was taking classes and then college shuts down. My middle son, it was his senior year in high school. Baseball season canceled senior trip canceled, classes canceled, like sit home by yourself for your senior year online. And some people are like, oh, you can go to school online. No, that’s the Greek word for stinks. You know? Zoom is a four-letter word, I mean, it just is. My other kids, “Dad, we can’t go to school. Our sport season got canceled, our vacation got canceled.” Do you know what this is? This is a year where for kids in their little world there’s hardship and suffering. And so what we do is we teach them how to walk through it, to rejoice through it, how God walks through it with them, how we walk through it with them. Kids can’t have character unless they learn to rejoice in the middle of suffering. Okay? And I just, I wanna publicly honor our five kids. I don’t wanna put pressure on ’em, but as a dad, there were some things in their life that I wanted to prevent. I didn’t want them to be part of a family that was wrongly accused and attacked. I didn’t wanna have to pull them out of their school. I didn’t want them to be physically unsafe at their home with attacks and critics. I did not want them to have to leave their extended family and friends, I didn’t want them to have to leave their sports teams and their youth groups and the things and people and places that they loved. And I certainly didn’t wanna have to move them and reset. Everything I wanted to not happen, happen to our five kids, almost everything that I feared. God was gracious to preserve a few things that I, that I would have been destroyed by, had it happened to my kids. And in it all, I just felt so concerned. Like God, what is gonna become of these kids? Are they gonna hate You? Are they gonna hate the church? Are they gonna hate mom and dad? And you know what? They love God, they love the church, they love mom and dad. Because through it, the Holy Spirit was present in the lives of each of our five kids. And He poured out the love of God in them. He created an endurance and a perseverance and a resilience in them. And they learned how to grieve along the way, but rejoice in the struggle. And I just, I wanna publicly honor my kids, our kids, they have tremendous character and maturity that exceeds their years and people ask, how do you do that? You don’t, the Holy Spirit does. And He does it in the struggle. And sometimes as parents, when we remove the struggle, we’re also removing the opportunity of the Spirit, because the Spirit likes to work in the struggle. So we even had a conversation with our kids ’cause again, we finally got resettled. Okay, now you’re in school. Now you’ve got sports, now we’re back! Yay, good job! And then, nope. And so even again, this year, our kids had to learn how to rejoice. They had to learn how to serve others. They had to learn how to be considerate of others. They had to find ways to take what would have been their misery and make it their ministry. Okay? And what I’m telling you that this is a tremendous opportunity. Don’t waste it, invest it. Don’t use it as an excuse to have bad character for yourself or your family, use it as an opportunity to grow character in yourself and in your family. Because again, the people that don’t know that God is over it, that the Holy Spirit is in it, and that grace is available, they don’t have this insider or hope. But we do. We do. And it says that we won’t be put to shame if we live in light of this hope. So he tells us to rejoice in God. He tells us to rejoice in hardship and ultimately to rejoice in relationship. The most important thing in your life is not things, it’s people and relationships. And what we’ve learned this year is that relationships are precious and they are valuable. And when we don’t have access to people that we love it is altogether frustrating, but there is a relationship with God and He’s going to use rejoice and reconciliation to speak of this relationship with God. There is a relationship with God that you and I can rejoice in, for while we were still weak, and some of you are feeling that and that’s okay. Right? He says that it’s okay. While we were weak at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly for one will scarcely die for a righteous person, sometimes we’ll die for a good person, though, perhaps for a good person, one would even dare to die, but God shows his-

– Love.

– Love, love is what you do. God did something to love us. And that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since therefore we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while, we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more now that we are reconciled, that’s the language of relationship, shall we be saved by His life. More than that, we also, there’s our little word, rejoice in God, not in the election, not in the economy, not in the vaccination. Not in the holidays, not in the return to normal and certainly not in the new normal. I prefer the old normal, thank you very much. We rejoice in?

– God.

– God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. He tells us who you were, what Jesus did, and who you are. Who you were, who we were, this is where we all start. And if you’re not a Christian, this is where we all start. Ungodly, sinners, enemies under wrath. We start bad, not good. We start problem, not solution. Right now, everybody on the earth is really frustrated and pointing the finger and yell, you’re the problem, you’re the problem, you’re the problem, God’s like, you’re all right. You’re all the problem, okay? And His Son, Jesus Christ is the solution, okay? That ultimately, we need to own the fact that we are a sinner, we are not a savior, that we are a problem, not a solution, that we are broken, that we are not well, that we have a God-sized problem. And it is sin and rebellion, and it results in the wrath of God. Number two, he tells us what Jesus did to fix this sin problem. He said, Christ died, and we are, quote, saved by Him. It is turning from sin and trusting in Jesus. That’s what unlocks the relationship or the reconciliation with God. And what he’s talking about here is two parties who are at war coming to peace. And let me just say this, the only way you have peace with God is if you surrender to God. You’re not going to defeat God, you’re not going to change God, you’re not going to overwhelm or overcome God, you need to surrender to God. And this is something you just need to know, there won’t be peace in our world. I’m just telling you the Democrats and Republicans are not going to reconcile. The vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers, they’re not going to reconcile. I’m just going to tell you that the rich and the poor are not going to reconcile. I’m saying that ultimately for reconciliation to happen, there needs to be a surrender and everyone is going to keep up the fight. Except for the Christian, we are not going to fight God. We’re gonna surrender and let God fight for us. Okay? You can either fight with God or you can surrender and have God fight for you. So my question to you would be to have peace. He told us here, peace requires surrender. If you don’t have peace, it’s because there’s something you’re not willing to surrender.

– It’s good.

– She said, it’s good. Not all of you agree with that. Some of you are like, I don’t wanna surrender. You know what? Maybe I won’t make as much money. You know what? Maybe my politician is not gonna win. You know what? Maybe my life is not gonna look like I was hoping. You know what? Maybe I wanna enjoy the freedoms that I was hoping for. You know what? Maybe this is gonna be a mess longer than I was anticipating. And what it is, it’s like, Lord, it’s Yours. I surrender it to you, here’s my desire, let Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. Not my will be done. Thy will be done. if you are struggling with peace, it’s because you’re struggling to surrender something to God. But what he says is this, Jesus Christ endured the wrath so that you could receive the love. This is amazing. See, because we’re at war with God, wrath is, it’s the hostility. It’s the conflict between us and God. Once we surrender, you realize that Jesus took the wrath so that we could receive the love. That’s what he tells us, that the wrath of God has been placed on Jesus so that the love of God could be poured out on you. This is why we love Jesus so much. And let me just tell you that this relationship with God, it changes who you are and it changes who you are in relationship with other people, Because all of a sudden you realize that God loved me when I was his enemy. And what he’s saying is if God loved you, when you were enemy, He’d love you when you’ve surrendered and have peace with Him. If God was serving you, when you were fighting Him, He will serve you when you surrender to Him. Now, let me say this as well. That because the wrath was poured out on Jesus and the love was poured out on you, when you’re suffering, God is not punishing. Okay, I, as your pastor who loves you very much, and I do love you very much, I know that when you’re suffering, Satan is gonna either whisper or shout in your ear, God is punishing you. And many of you have asked that question this year, or even recently as you’re suffering and it’s hard and you’re in the struggle, God, why are You doing this to me? Why are You angry at me, why are You punishing me? Why are You hurting me? He’s not. He poured out His wrath on His Son and He poured out His love on you. It would be unjust for God to punish Jesus and you. And so when you’re suffering, know that it is not God who is punishing. And the reason why you need to know this is because you will not run to your abuser for comfort. If you believe that God is your abuser, He cannot be your comforter. If he’s the one hurting you, He’s not the one to heal you. If he’s the one angry at you, he’s not the one to love you. And what Satan wants in the midst of the struggle and the suffering and the strife, the pains, the problems in the perils, He wants you to believe that God is hurting you, that God is pouring His wrath out on you, that God is angry with you. So that in your time of greatest need, you will run from Him and not to Him. Let’s be honest. We’ve all, we’ve all felt this. We’ve all said this, we’ve all considered this, we’ve all done this. God is not punishing you. He’s already punished His Son. We live in a broken, flawed world. Not everything that happens is according to God’s will, we do believe in sin and evil. We do believe however, in fact, we know that though God doesn’t necessarily cause everything that happens, He uses everything that happens for the good of His children. And you may not be able to determine what happens to you, but you can determine who you become as a result of what happens to you, okay? So, yeah, he says that you are now loved, justified and saved. I’ll just tell you, the whole world right now is wanting to be saved. They want an economic savior, they want a political savior, they want a medical savior and there’s only one Savior. And His name is Jesus. And He has saved you from the wrath of God. And He has filled you with the love of God. I need you to believe this, God loves you. And it’s the simplest thing, but it’s the most significant thing. God does love you. And sometimes it’s hard to believe that when you’re in the struggle, you’re like, it hurts like crazy. Where is the love? It says that he pours out the love of God into your heart, by the Holy Spirit. What that means is in spite of what’s out there, what’s more important is what happens in here. That out there, there may be a lack of love, but in here, there is the love of God. Out there, there may be a lack of peace, but in here, there is a peace of God. Out there, there may be a lack of hope, but in there is hope. Because ultimately it is this relationship which transforms me and then it is that God who ventures with me into the unknown future. And I’m trusting Him to be with me, to be for me, to be in me and to pour out grace in my time of need and to use every opportunity to make me into the character of Christ. And that’s exactly where all of this is leaning. I’m telling you, this is the greatest opportunity for you to experience the love of God. This is the greatest opportunity for you to have a deeper relationship with God. This is an incredible opportunity for you to have more hope, to enjoy more peace and to enjoy more grace than at any time in your life. I’m telling you that what for everyone else is going to be their misery, is for you and me gonna be our ministry opportunity. Okay? And I need you to not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12, I need you to think different because you are loved different. I need you to see different because you are saved different. You are loved by God. And He loves you so much that He’s gonna take everything you’re going through and he’s gonna use it to cause you to have a deeper relationship with Him and to become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Okay? All right? And what he says is that Jesus died for us. Let me ask this question. Be honest, how many people would you die for? Is it a short list? Yep, I don’t even need a pen. There’s nobody on that list. Okay. Let me flip the question, how many people love you so much they’d die for you? It’s a really short list. Mom, are we still good? I mean, you’re down to one, right? God loved you so much, He sent His Son to die for you. I mean, God loved you so much, He traded His life for your life. And He has life for you. And all of this reconciling, it’s about this. So much of the world is about this right now. You know what? We gotta get this right before we can get that right. We gotta get this straight before we can get that straight. Okay, God, You’re the savior. I surrender. I’m suffering. Holy Spirit, give me the love of God to endure. Give me hope. Let me stand in Your grace, grow me in character so that I can rejoice. Reconciliation leads to rejoicing. It’s amazing, we’ve canceled all the fun this year. When’s the last time you were in a place that people were laughing and having fun? It’s been a while. Because we’re reconciled, we need to rejoice. Here’s what I’m just gonna tell you. We’re throwing parties here all the time. We’ve blown the events budget, we have just blown it. We threw a big party in September. Like, let’s throw another one in October. Okay. We put a Ferris wheel out front. We’re like, well, what are people gonna think? I don’t know, maybe we’re having fun. We’re gonna throw more parties headed into the holidays. We’re gonna throw a big Christmas party. We’re gonna throw another party in January. Your kids are in the back right now on bouncy houses. You know what? But like, Jesus loves me, this I know. He does, right? I got a two inch vertical, that’s all I got. And ultimately, if we’re reconciled, we can rejoice because we don’t know what’s gonna happen, but we know who’s gonna go with us.

– Yes.

– Okay? And our faith is not in ultimately where we’re going, but who goes with us? So, let me close with this. And by close, I don’t mean I’m done. I just think you may not pay attention, so. All of us will suffer, and those who suffer with the spirit suffer differently. We rejoice in our sufferings. We’re gonna give you a chance to rejoice in a minute. We’re gonna bring the band up. We’re gonna celebrate. We’re gonna rejoice, worship is a time to rejoice. All right? And some of you like, I can’t worship. I can’t rejoice, I’m suffering, rejoice in your suffering, because God is in your suffering. The character is in your suffering. The grace is in your suffering. The hope is in your suffering. The patient endurance is in your suffering. You’re gonna stand in the grace of God in your suffering and through your rejoicing. We rejoice in our suffering because God’s love has been poured, lavished, overwhelming into our hearts, through the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us. I love that, I claim that as your promise. You can rejoice in suffering if you suffer in the Spirit, it doesn’t matter what is happening around you. I’m more concerned with what’s happening in you. I don’t care about all the powers that are against you. I need to see the power of God in you. The Spirit of God can empower you as he did Jesus to overcome adversity, to unburden, to bless, to heal, to love, to forgive and to proceed forward boldly into the will of God. And I just need you to know that we are a spirit filled church and that we long for all of you to be spirit filled people, because ultimately the Spirit of God knows the future. The Spirit of God will make you like Jesus. And the Spirit of God will get you through it until you see Jesus face to face. That’s how He works. So here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna shift our suffering. We’re gonna shift our suffering and our focus from what we’re enduring to, who we’re becoming. We’re gonna stop fighting over what is happening and we’re gonna start learning who we’re becoming. So I’m gonna bring the band up, we’re gonna throw a little party, we’re gonna sing and celebrate. Do you mind if we have fun? Do you mind? Heaven is open, the church is open, the Word of God is open, the grace of God is open, the reconciliation of God is open, the love of God is open, the Holy Spirit is open, eternity is open, you, let me summarize Romans 5:1 through 11. You are righteous. If you belong to Jesus, you are righteous. You have peace with God. You have access to God’s grace. You can stand in God’s grace. You can rejoice in hope. You can glorify God in your suffering. You can endure your suffering. You are growing in character. You can hope, you will not be ashamed. You are loved by God. You are filled with the Holy Spirit, Christ died for you. Christ rose for you, Christ lives for you. Christ intercedes for you. Christ pours His love into you. Christ endured wrath for you. Christ reconciled you to God and you and I can now in Christ through the Holy Spirit, rejoice in our sufferings, amen?

Mark Driscoll
[email protected]

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