Smyrna

Exploring The Question, "Where Is God In Suffering?".

Tim Lundy
Jan 24, 2021    42m
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We may wonder, where is God in suffering? In a short letter to the church in Smyrna, Jesus reminds us that he sees our suffering and promises us an eternal reward for our trust. When the God of creation promises that there's nothing that can separate you from his love, you can trust in that promise no matter what you face. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:02 Venture, It's good to be with you this weekend. You may notice I'm in a little bit different setting, I'm actually at the Lundy household. We had a COVID exposure this week, none of us are sick, but we did have to pull back as a family, kids couldn't go to school. I couldn't go in, because I didn't want to risk exposing our tech team, even in the filming. And like I said, we're all well, we're at the backside of it. So I think we're clear, but I'm coming to you today from our house, and I wish you could see the setup. I've got a camera and light over here, and I'm working the computer, I feel a little bit like a one man band. You know those guys with the symbol between your legs, and a horn, and drum over on the side, and you do all the instruments at once. But I'm thankful we have this technology, I've had to get used to it.

Tim Lundy: 01:16 You know, when I do Better Man each week on Thursday mornings, I do it via Zoom, I teach right here. And like today, I've got a couple of dogs asleep over there, I've learned that you got to deal with a few distractions in it. But I would encourage you, I'm launching Better Man this Thursday, in fact, and we've got new material, the seven relationships that shaped the life of every man. There's seven relationships in your life that have shaped who you are, and the relationships you're currently in. And so if you've never been a part of it, or if you have, join us. No excuses, no commute, 6:30 Thursday mornings, make sure you go online and we'd love to have you, every guy in the church.

Tim Lundy: 01:58 Now, today we're continuing this series Letters From Jesus, and we're looking at these seven letters that Jesus wrote to specific churches. And this week in particular, the letter, it's the shortest letter of all seven, but in some ways it's the most powerful, and some of you need to hear it the most. I don't know if you've ever been going through a hard time, you've had a season in your life where you're experiencing suffering, and somebody writes a note or somebody writes a letter, and it's just the right words, just what you needed to hear. This weekend, Jesus is writing a letter, and remember, this is in the Book of Revelation, Jesus is writing these letters through the Apostle John. And John is sending them, these are to real churches, we can go look at the seven cities.

Tim Lundy: 02:51 So last week we looked at Ephesus, and if you go 40 miles North of Ephesus along the coast there of what is now modern day Turkey, the city of Smyrna was a special city. In fact, it was called the ornament of Asia, because it's so beautiful. If you go today, it's modern day Izmir, a very big city, very prosperous city, in Turkey. Smyrna, the city that's right there on the coast, it's a beautiful city. In AD 26, the Roman empire had a contest to see which city would have the right of having the Temple of Caesar, and Smyrna won the contest, and so worship of the emperor was a key part of this city. In fact, once a year, they would call the citizens forward and everyone was declare. Caesar is lord. Now, you can imagine if you're a Christian, you can't say those words, Caesar is lord, Christ is Lord. And so this church in Smyrna, that is trying to be faithful to do what God's called them to do, you're going to see in this verse, they're experiencing unbelievable suffering. And I think these verses, and I want you to hear me, because I know a number of you are going through a season of suffering. And I think these words to Smyrna, are words you as well, and there's words for all of us to learn from.

Tim Lundy: 04:17 As you look at it, each of these letters have a form that they follow, where we learn a characteristic of Jesus, there's a compliment, usually a criticism, no criticism of Smyrna this week, there is a call to action, and then at the end of this commitment, this promise, that Jesus makes to this church.

Tim Lundy: 04:37 Let's jump in. Look, first of all, the characteristic of Christ that we learn in this. Read with me, if you've got your Bibles you can turn there, or you can read with me on the screen. Revelation 2:8, “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life." Two things Jesus is pointing out about himself, and they're particularly important in light of the group he's writing, and what they needed to hear. Do you notice the first thing he says, he's the God over all creation. He's the God of all creation. He's the first and the last, other places he's the Alpha and the Omega. And what he's describing, is he is God, both before time and after time ends. He's God over everything before anything was created, and at the end of time, he's the God over time and space. But then notice in that, he's also the God who died and lived again. He's the God who entered time and space and so he points out for us, he's the God who conquered death. This is an amazing promise to know that the Jesus who's writing this, the Jesus who's encouraging, the Jesus that we serve, we never want to forget, he truly is God. He's over all of this from the beginning to the end, all of creation, but he also entered creation. He also faced our worst enemy, he faced death itself. He was willing to die on our behalf, but unlike any anyone else he rose again, no one else can make that claim. Now, these are powerful words, especially as he's writing this church, that's dealing with real suffering.

Tim Lundy: 06:28 Read with me the next verse, look at the compliment that he says to them. He says, “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." Now I'm noticing this as he's writing them, and I want to note one thing right out of the gate, if you look at this because I think it's important when you think about suffering. This church, they're suffering because they're doing the right things, guys, they're doing the right things. They're suffering because they're being faithful. As you read through scripture, God uses suffering in different ways. And there is a place where in the life of Christians, he uses suffering as a way of getting our attention, especially if we're in sin. There's a place where scripture says, you're going to reap what you sow, and these actions, and other scriptures you can read, that believers who are refusing to listen to God, some of them experienced sickness, some of them even experienced death because God will use any means necessary to get our attention.

Tim Lundy: 07:42 But here's what I want you to know in that, anytime you see that in scripture, if you're ever wondering, am I suffering because of sin in my life, am I suffering because of something I've done, you never have to guess at it. God's always very clear in convicting sin, God ever puts us at a place that we're going through a time of suffering in our life, and we're having to wonder, man, did I do something wrong? You'll know what you did wrong, you'll be convicted by that. And the reason I want to point this out, is so often you have many believers who are experiencing suffering because they live in a fallen world. They're experiencing suffering because they're actually doing the right things. And the devil Satan loves to play with our minds, he loves to pick on us when we're down. And I'll find Christians who are sitting there questioning themselves, and they're going, what did I do wrong? Why has God punishing me?

Tim Lundy: 08:42 That's one of the reasons I don't like the whole wealth and prosperity gospel, and preachers that will teach that if you only have enough faith, and if you had more faith, God would heal you. And they put so much pressure you, and you'll notice a lot of times that expression of faith is, you know, they're telling you to send them a seed offering. You got to do something to help support them, to express your faith. I hate all that stuff. Because if you look through scripture over and over again, you will see people, who because of their faithfulness, they're experiencing suffering. You see somebody like Job, who did nothing wrong, but God was using him and allowed him to experience suffering, to show his strength, and his character, in what God could do. You look at guy like Joseph who experienced suffering. You look at Daniel who experienced suffering. You look at the Apostle Paul who had a thorn in the flesh, and three times he said, God, would you remove this? And God said, no. I'm going to leave this. I'm using this in your life, that you can know my grace in your weakness, not in your strength. Some of you need to hear that today, you are suffering, and you don't need to live in this cycle where you're constantly blaming yourself or looking, what did I do wrong? A lot of times in scripture, people suffer like this church, it's because what they were doing right. Now it doesn't explain why God has allowed it in your life, but it does keep you from living under that constant guilt and blame in a time that is already hard.

Tim Lundy: 10:26 Now look at this church, they're suffering in three key areas that we often look to for our wellbeing. It's interesting to me, I had heard recently teaching of Thomas Keating, someone was describing Keating. And Keating lays out for us, he says, basically, there's three key categories in life where we look to find our wellbeing or our happiness. And none of them are wrong in themselves, unless you make them an idle. Those three categories, the first is areas of survival or security. If I've got my core needs met, if I've got my home, if I feel safe in that, I want to survive. A second is esteem or approval, I want to be respected, I want to be esteemed, I think about what others think of me. The third key area is power or control, I want to feel like I've got power over my life, the control to do what I need to do. Now again, none of them are wrong, but all of them, we have a temptation, nd usually there's one of these that you're more tempted than others, to make your idol, to really find your wellbeing in that.

Tim Lundy: 11:36 And if you look through scripture, it's interesting to note, First John says, there's the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, they really matched these categories. The lust of the flesh, those things I need to survive, and the temptations with it. The lust of the eyes, the things I see and how I want to be seen. The pride of life, I want to be powerful, I want to be in control. Eve when she was tempted, again, you see these categories. She saw the fruit that it was good to eat, that survival, that lust of the flesh. She saw that it looked good to the eyes, lust to the eyes. She saw and said, if you'd eat, she'd be wise like God, that power in life. Now, here's the thing, and I think it's one of the reasons God allows suffering in our life. Because it allows us, in these seasons, when these kinds of things are stripped away, it forces us to wrestle with whether I'm looking to these things to provide my wellbeing, to provide my happiness, or am I looking at God?

Tim Lundy: 12:45 Suffering has a refining way of really narrowing our focus to the things that matter most, and if you look at this church, they're experiencing suffering and all three of these things. I mean, look at this, Jesus said your tribulation, and he's talking about their survival, that they're literally struggling to survive. They're under persecution to such a level that their lives are at risk, their homes are at risk, their very survival and security is being stripped away. Look at their reputation, he says the slander, notice he says the slander particularly of a group, the Jews in that city, who think they're serving God. And Jesus uses strong words to describe him, you see, he calls him the synagogue of Satan. Now, why would he talk this strongly? We have to be careful because some people even interpreters through the ages, Christians even, have used phrases like this to foment antisemitism. To actually say, well, yeah, the Jews, be against Jews and the Jewish people. And you've got to be careful because that's not what Jesus is teaching. Guys, Jesus was Jewish. John, the writer of this book, he's Jewish. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, never lost his passion for the Jewish people.

Tim Lundy: 14:09 But what's happening in this particular city, and it wasn't rare if you read through the book of Acts, it happened quite a bit. One of the groups that persecuted the church the most, were the Jewish people, especially those who felt like they were still being faithful to the law, faithful to the scripture. And they resented the Christians, they resented that Christianity used the Old Testament scriptures, they resented that Christianity said Jesus was the Messiah. And you've got to remember, when this was written in 90 AD, 70 AD, there was a final rebellion against Rome. And the Roman general who came and destroyed Jerusalem, and the Jewish people experienced the diaspora, they'd been spread to the planet, Israel's no more, their land is fallow. And so in each of these cities, each of these communities, this Jewish community, especially around the synagogue, is struggling to survive. And they often got lumped together with Christians, especially in a city like Smyrna that had emperor worship, and a polytheistic religion. If you were monotheistic like the Jews and Christians, you believed in one God, you were kind of lumped together. And the Jews didn't want to be lumped with the Christians, in fact, they don't want to be persecuted because what the Christians taught. And so they would slander, some of the things they would say about the Christians is they were people that practice incest, because Christians talk about being brothers and sisters in Christ, and so they would use those phrase and say that they were guilty of incest. They accused them of being cannibals, because they talked about eating the body and blood of Christ. Now you may laugh at that, but these accusations would go against the church, and they wanted to turn the attention away from them towards the Christians.

Tim Lundy: 16:01 And part of it is they thought they were doing the right thing, the anger toward Christianity, probably the best evidence of this is the Apostle Paul. Back when he was a young man, Saul, he said, I was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, I was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, I knew the law, I loved it, I thought I was doing the right thing. And it wasn't until Saul, who was throwing people in prison, he was so angry against the church, it wasn't until Saul was going to Damascus, and on that road, he comes face-to-face with Jesus. And he knows this as God, as he looks at him. And Jesus says to him, why are you persecuting me? And Paul is flabbergasted, persecuting God, I'm doing the work of God, he thought. Remember Paul said, he said, who are you? He said, I'm Jesus. And his whole world shattered, his whole world changed, this anger that he had, he thought he was defending the right thing, had actually opened the door that he was doing the very work of the enemy.

Tim Lundy: 17:13 Now I say this because I want us to understand a little bit, why would this group attack the church in this way? But also say this as a warning, a warning for anyone. And I've talked about this the last couple of weeks, but I just want to hit it again. When we get so angry, sometimes even when we're defending our survival, we can lash out in anger over it. If we hold on to that too long, we open a door. I'll remind you again of Paul's words, look what he said in Ephesians. He says, "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Even when it's right, anger, when you hold onto it too long, you give the opportunity for the devil to come in and turn it. And you look at this church here, and they're experiencing the effects of that is they're attacked, they're attacked in their livelihood, their attacked in their reputation.

Tim Lundy: 18:11 Look at the third thing, they're attacked in their power and control. Jesus says, "I know your poverty." I know your poverty. Now, it's interesting, I love how he puts it. He goes, I know that you guys are broke. That word poverty, literally means your subsistence, they have nothing. And so this church, because of the stand, because of what they're doing, because of what they experience, they don't have any money. But Jesus can't help himself, he goes, I know you're poverty there in this life, but then he comes up with this line and he goes, but you're rich. I know you're rich. And here's what he means, he says, yeah, the snapshot of this lifetime, you're in poverty. But if we back the picture up, you guys are really rich in the things that matter.

Tim Lundy: 19:02 You know, I was thinking about it this way. Let's say this this weekend I went down to the beach, and I ran into Elon Musk, if he was back in California, I don't know if he's moved to Texas yet, for sure. But let's say I was up at Half Moon Bay, and I run into Elon Musk and he's on the beach. And you know, Musk, in the last couple of weeks was named the richest man in the world, I think he just passed Jeff Bezos. And in that, just the billions from his companies Space, X and Tesla, and all with that. But let's say this day on the beach, he's got his swimsuit and a shirt, he's been out in the water. And I walk up to him and I say, Hey Elon, do you have any money on you? And he kind of reaches down, and he doesn't even have any pockets. He goes, no, I literally, I don't have any money on me right now. Now, if I in that moment, then reach into my pocket, and I go really, because look at me, yeah, I've got some cash. And if I stopped in that moment and I go, look at you, you're broke and I'm rich. Yeah, you look at it and you go, yeah, that's ridiculous though. I mean, yeah, in that one little snapshot, as long as you stay on that little beach in that moment in time, yeah Tim you're rich compared to Elon. But when you step back into reality, you step back into the world, when he immediately walks down and he goes, hey, let me show you my stock options, let me show you my companies, let me show you my rocket ship, let me show you all that I have. Let me show you the cash, the walking cash, I keep on hand. When we step away from that one little picture, then pretty quickly, Elon Musk is very rich.

Tim Lundy: 20:53 Now, this is what Jesus is comparing, I'll put my little bit of cash away. Here's what Jesus is saying in that moment, yeah, in the snapshot of a lifetime, which guys compared to eternity is really short. In the snapshot of this little planet earth, guys, compared to the universe and the heavens that he has, it's really small. He says for right now, yeah, you're poor. But if we step back into reality, and that's actually the reality, he says, you guys are so rich. That's what he was teaching in Matthew 6, he says, "“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I love that line, he says, hey, lay up treasure, don't be shy about this, bank it in eternity. And I think Jesus loves nothing more than taking care of the eternal account of those who've been faithful to him. He loves nothing more than looking at them, and he says it right here, he goes, yeah, I know you're in poverty, but trust me guys, in reality, your rich, you're so rich. And suffering has a way, especially, if you're financially suffering, it has a way of bringing these things in focus. It has a way, and I'll go back to remember those core temptations, of really making me focus. Have I turned to finances or money as a place of my security. That's why Matthew 6, right after he taught about laying up your treasures in heaven, notice Jesus' words in it. He says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." See, that has a way of really helping us focus, who is my God, who am I trusting? And people that go through this kind of suffering, they have such a different perspective.

Tim Lundy: 23:25 I was reading about a Baptist church in the Nigerian city of Jos, and this city sits right on the line between the Muslim North and the Christian South, so there's a lot of violence in the city, and the pastor of this church [inaudible] was his name. And there was an attack by radical Muslims who came in and they burned down the church, they burned down his home, there violence throughout the city. A week later, the church gathered, they couldn't gather in their building, they were in this little mud community center. And as they gathered there [inaudible] got up, and his words that day were such a highlight of his perspective. Because he began with words of gratitude, he said, I am so thankful today. I am so thankful for three things. One, that no one in my church participated in the violence. In fact, many of the Muslims, as the violence started breaking out between Muslims and Christians, many of the Muslims thanked him because he had taught his church members, we protect all life, and they actually protected some of the Muslims and kept them from violence. He said, I'm thankful that that we committed no violence. Two, he said, I'm thankful that my church building, or actually he said, I'm thankful that my church did not burn down. Everybody kind of was shocked, because they're going, we're meeting in the community center. And he said, no, no one in our church lost their life, and buildings can burn, but people are here, and I'm thankful for that because we are the church. Then the third thing he said, I'm thankful that my house burned down too, because I don't know how I would pastor you who have lost your homes, if I did not also experience the same. So I'm thankful that we get to share this together.

Tim Lundy: 25:27 Guys, do you hear that perspective. Listen, this is somebody, and this is happening now, this isn't just 2000 years ago, this is happening now. Of those who are willing to go through this time, and some of you are going through that. That's why I encourage you, you notice, the first part of that verse, I love how Jesus started. He says, I know, I know your poverty, I know your slander, I know what you're experiencing. And you need to hold onto this, Jesus knows, none of our suffering escapes his notice or care. None of it, nothing you're going through today, escapes his notice. Sometimes you need to know that, because when you really go through hard suffering, I don't know about you, I'll have times where I go through it, and you wonder, does anybody really know? Does anybody care? Hear me, Jesus knows, Jesus knows.

Tim Lundy: 26:30 Because he knows, he can issue the call to action to this church, and to those who are in suffering. Look at it as he continues, he says, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." These are probably not the words they wanted to hear. I mean, in that moment, after you hear all that they're already going through. And then when Jesus looks at him, he says, yeah, but I'm going to ask you to do two things. And look at the first thing is, do not fear the suffering to come, you're not finished suffering, there's more. In fact, you're about to hit a season where some of you are going to be thrown into prison, he calls it a 10 day, we don't know if it's a literal 10 days, or if he's talking about a season in that. But in that he says, I don't want you to be afraid of what is to come. I want you to know I'm in control of this, I know what's going on. Anytime Satan attacks, it's still under the control of God, he still ultimately sovereign in it, and he's still using this. Notice the command though, don't be afraid. And this may be the hardest part, is not just experiencing what you're going through. But I think in suffering, a lot of times we can be either overly afraid of what's to come, or we live every day with this expectation, it's got to get better, it's got to get better. And the source of our hope actually becomes this thought that this has to end and it's going to get better, and then when it doesn't get better and when something else comes, we're devastated that much more. Guys, ,once you hear Jesus's words, don't be afraid. And that's a choice, that doesn't come naturally, especially if you're going through suffering and you know more is coming, you have to make a choice, do not be afraid.

Tim Lundy: 28:44 Now, the reason he calls us to this, is that fear will never give you what you need in suffering, fear only makes suffering worse. And despite that, it'll also rob you of the blessing of the good times, because you're always living in fear of what will come in. Some of you, and you're wired in such a way that you feel like it's almost your responsibility to be fearful, it's your responsibility to worry, to worry for your family, to worry what's coming. And if you were to let go of that fear, if you let go of that worry with it, then the bad things will come that much more. And it just doesn't work that way, fears only robbing you in life. So you have to make a choice, I'm not going to be afraid, I'm going to live by faith. And the only reason Jesus would make this command, is he knows what fear does to us. And so he calls this church and he says, don't live by fear, it will give you none of the tools you need to get through the suffering, and it will only Rob you of the actual blessing in life.

Tim Lundy: 30:03 Notice the second part of it, he says, be faithful till death. Be faithful till death. And again, that's a hard word to hear when you're in suffering. Notice he doesn't give any prospect that he says, hey, don't be afraid, this isn't so bad, it's going to go away soon. This church's in it, and some of them will be in it all the way until death. You guys, as you read through the history of Christianity, a lot of people have given their life, they had to be faithful until death because of their faith in Christ. And I'm not just talking about the early church, do you realize that they estimate that more people have died because of their faith in Christ in the last 50 years, than they did in the first 300 years of the church. So despite all the persecution we read back then, there's more on our planet now. In fact, we're coming up on the 6th anniversary, February the 15th, will be the 6th anniversary of an image and a group that really, I remember shook me in a way of 21 young men, migrant workers who were working in Libya, 20 of them were from Egypt and one of them from Ghana. And the only reason they were there, they were so poor, they were working, they were sending money home. And they were kidnapped by ISIS, I don't know if you remember the scene when they were lined up along the seashore of the Mediterranean Sea, and all 21 of them were executed. And they went down the line with each one of them, and they asked him, they had the opportunity to renounce their faith in Christ, and one by one they didn't. In fact, there's 20 Egyptians, the one Ghanaian, they came to him, a young man named Matthew. They said, you don't have to die with this group. And he looked at him and he said, their Lord is my Lord, and he gave his life as well, they were faithful unto death.

Tim Lundy: 32:11 Now, I am speaking to many of you, I hope we don't reach a point, but we don't know what God will ask of us, but we don't have to be afraid of that. And what he is asking of us, and what many of you are experiencing today, he's asking you and me be faithful where I've placed. You be faithful, no matter what comes, be faithful because you can trust me. And the reason you can trust, I love the final promise. Look at the promise that he gives, he promises this crown of life. He says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death." He gives this promise, he says the one who overcomes in this. Now two things there, the previous verse, he gave the promise of the crown of life. There's a promise of the crown of life, and then in this verse, the promise that we'll never experience second death.

Tim Lundy: 33:12 Two parts to this. The crown of life, if you look in scripture, there's different crowns, those rewards, treasures in heaven. There's some particular crowns that are given to people, and the crown of life is given to those who go through suffering, who go through those hard times, who persevere in it, and they are personally rewarded by Jesus. I don't always understand God's economy, I don't I understand why God has some people go through more suffering than others. I don't always understand why on this side of eternity, things are that way. But I love this promise of Jesus, that he knows, he knows your faithfulness, he knows your persevering. He says, I want to reward you with a lasting reward for all eternity. And then he makes his promise to all of us, that we will never experience what he calls second death, that's eternal death. This is an important point, I want everybody to hear me because everybody on this planet will face the first death. Apart from being alive when Jesus comes back, every single one of us, we all face death, we fear death, we fight against death, it's an enemy. But first death is literally just a doorway, it's a doorway either to eternal life or eternal death. Either to the life that's to come, or as scripture calls it, first death actually leads to second death, and second death is where you are separated from God.

Tim Lundy: 35:08 See, when you live your life in a way that you've said, I don't want to follow Jesus, I don't want to listen to that. God respects that choice, but as you step into eternity, you realize all of this life I've been experiencing the goodness of life more than I know, I've been experiencing the goodness of creation, the goodness of relationships, the goodness of his love and mercy, whether you're a Christian or not, all of us have experienced that more than we know. But when you step into eternity and you have rejected him, you then experienced the second death. And we don't know how to describe it, other than scripture talks about the torment of, if you just think about it, if you're totally separated from all that is good, what a horror, what a hell that is. That's second death. And why I say that, I don't say it to scare anyone, I just want you to be well aware of maybe choices you're making. That if you make a choice that you go, I don't want God, I will not serve God, I don't want to listen to him, I don't want what Jesus offers. God will honor that choice, but one day you'll look up and you realize, oh, I didn't realize what I was rejecting and all that that meant. Don't wait to that day, receive him today, trust him today.

Tim Lundy: 36:35 And if you do trust him, here's what you can know. Yes, we may be called to be faithful all the way up until first death, but we will never experience second death because we step into eternal life, we step into all that is good. The fact, that I love the way Max Lucado puts it, he says, "You know, one day in eternity for a Christian, we'll look back on our death, and we'll look at it like a graduation day." It was that day when I'm moved forward into the life that he had for me, and because of that, I can trust him today no matter what I'm facing. Some of your facing sickness, some of you are so lonely. Because you've been faithful to Christ, sometimes your spouses walked out, it's cost you relationship. Some of you, you're facing that poverty, that economic hardship, because you do the right things. Some of you, there's story after story of people who experienced this, but here's what you can trust and here's what you can know. Jesus knows, Jesus cares, Jesus has equipped you with all that you need. And no matter what you face, even to the point of death, you can never be separated from the things that matter most.

Tim Lundy: 38:09 That's why Paul can write these words. He says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?" Look, he says, "No, in all these things..." And I love this line, "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us." See it's because of Jesus we're conquers, not because of us, it's because of Jesus. When he writes these words and he says, hey, to the overcomer, to the conquer, you might look at yourself and you go, I don't feel like a conquer. I don't feel like one either, but I am one because of Jesus, because he conquered. And because I believe in him, I know that I've conquered. And because of that, nothing can separate me from his love. That's why he finishes with these words, "I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else..." And notice, "...in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Nothing in all creation, because remember how we started, he's the first and the last, he's the God of this creation. He's the one who died, and now he lives, he's the one who's over all. And if the God of creation makes a promise that there's nothing in creation that can separate you from his love, you can trust that promise no matter what you face.

Tim Lundy: 39:43 I challenge you today, if you don't know him as your God, don't wait until you look up one day and then the horror you realize all that was good, all that was love, was in him, and you rejected him. If you do know him as your savior, as your God, look to him today, trust him today, no matter what you're facing, no matter what suffering you're going through. The God of creation says that none of it can ever separate you from his love, trust it, believe it, don't be afraid, be faithful, even to death, because we look to him and we trust him.

Tim Lundy: 40:42 Will you pray with me? God, I thank you, I thank you for your word, I thank you for just the promise you give to this church and the promise that lives today. Lord, I pray particularly for those who are suffering today, there are many who are hearing this, and they're in a desperate place. They feel life stripped away, some are battling for their health, some are battling in loneliness and depression, some are facing things that nobody else knows, but you know. Lord, I pray they'd look to you today, trust you, they'd choose faith over fear, that they would know you've equipped them to be faithful. And not only do you know, you reward in the things that matter most. Lord, I pray, maybe there's somebody hearing this today, and they've never trusted you, they've rejected you, and you honor that choice. Lord, I pray, would you open their eyes today? They need this, they need you, and I pray, they would reach out and trust, knowing that you're the God of creation. And once we experience your love, nothing can separate us from it. We pray these things in Christ' name. Amen.



Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032
408.997.4600