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God's mysterious work


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I was raised a Catholic, but left the church 22 years ago. Until last month. But I have found out that God has work in many way in my life for the last few years, all for me to get to htis point. Four years ago I moved to Florida and didn't know why. Typical women, I thought it was to meet a man. And boy did I meet men, tons of them, none good for me. But I also made friends outside of wrok for the first time in my travels. My parents were closer (300 miles) then ever before, both my kids settled here. Now that I am sick I am surrounded by family and friends. 4 years ago I would have been 3000 miles away and alone. Getting sick, I struggled the first week with how to get in touch with God. I felt like a hypercrite, walking away from him so long ago and now that I needed him, he should be there?? I recieved a package from my cousin in NJ one day and found inside a rosery, directions on how to use it and some healing oil with a healing prayer. Well, this was before anti depressents so I just bawled, for a hour. Then I called her and told her why and how I had struggled. I tols her it was just what I needed to make my pentance to god so I could ask for healing. You know what she told me? Now Joanie is very, very close to God all her life. SHe said she struglled when she heard I was sick so she prayed to God and this is what he told her to send me. Perfect. Now I had some peace. Then I decieded to go back to church. Every day on the way to work I passed this church. They always had a message on the board, so I figured it was a sign. I stopped by, no one home. I looked them up on the net and got a phone number, no one answered. I left a message, no one called back. Driving down the road one day my mom was reading the names of different churches she found. As she was reading Hope Lutherian, we were driving bu it. "That one?" i asked. Below is the sermon of the first mass I went to. Talk about Gods work. I'm hooked. Just wish I could take this Pastor with me when I move. He is so gifted. Please do read the credit at the bottom. I hope this touches you as it did me. Hugs, Liz

Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church

7430 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33411-3312


Sermon Theme: “Why Does God Pound On Me?”

Text: Psalm 91:1-16. Please read the text in your Bible.

A doctor once walked up to his patient’s bed and said, “I have some bad news and some worse news.” The patient replied, “OK… so, let’s have it.” The doctor continued, “The bad news is that you only have 24 hours to live.” The patient gasped, “I can’t imagine what could be worse than that!” And the doctor sheepishly replied, “I forgot to tell you yesterday.”

That’s funny, isn’t it? Oh, but many of us weep at the thought of death. Do you? Do you dread your death? And is your dread of death robbing your joy of life? It can. It did for a young woman named Florence. At the age of 37 she told her friends that her life hung by a thread that might snap at any moment. So she went to bed. And stayed there. Her death prediction proved true. She did die…53 years later, at the age of ninety!

Doctors could find nothing wrong. Most diagnosed her as a hopeless hypochondriac—dreading death, ever obsessed by its imminence. Except for three years, Florence was controlled by her fear of death. But during those three years, she made a name for herself, not as one who suffered, but as a friend of those who did. History’s most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale, lived as a slave of death!

What about you? Is your fear of dying robbing your joy of living? Health problems can become a huge stress in our lives. They can remind us that our bodies are only going to last so long. That we aren’t perfect. That we are mere mortals. Health problems can make us think that all is wrong with our life and the world.

So can any kind of hardships. Marital stress. Conflicts in relationships. Loss of job. Divorce. Death of loved ones. Fear for your safety. Persecution because of your faith. All of these can take the joy out of living. All of them can bring stress and make us worry. Is no one watching over me? Is no one taking care of me? If you are a person who seems to encounter one challenge after another, life can get pretty hot with hardship. Has health trouble and hardship made life unbearably hot for you? Can’t stand the heat?

Then turn to God’s Word. Psalm 91. Did you notice the word that gets repeated again and again? Will. God will. If you are wilting under the heat of hardship, know that this is what God will do for you: He will provide you rest. He will be your refuge. He will save you. He will cover you. He will shield you. His angels will protect you. You will trample the serpent (through Jesus!) The Lord says: I will rescue. I will protect. I will answer. I will be with you. I will deliver you and honor you. I will satisfy you.

When God says “will,” do you think he means it? Always has. Always will. We can count on his protection. Some students got rained out when a violent storm disrupted their picnic. As they drove away, the driver slowed to a stop. He gestured to a tender sight on the ground. A mother bird sat exposed to the rain, her wing extended over her baby who had fallen out of the nest. The fierce storm prohibited her from returning to the tree, so she covered her child until the wind passed. From how many winds is God protecting you? The office gossip heading toward your desk is interrupted by a phone call. A burglar headed to your house gets a flat tire. A drunk driver runs out of gas before your car passes his. God protects you. It says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”

“But does he?” you ask! “Then explain my job layoff. My dysfunctional family. The health problem I have been suffering with. Why someone broke into our house. Or the death of our child.” If God is guarding us, then why do bad things happen to me?

Have they? Have bad things really happened to you? You and God may have different definitions for the word bad. Parents and children do. A middle-schooler defines “bad” as “pimple on nose,” “Friday night alone,” or “pop quiz in geometry.” “Dad, this is really bad!” the child says. Dad, who has been around awhile, thinks differently. Pimples pass. Quiet Friday evenings are actually kind of nice.

What’s bad to a child isn’t always bad to a dad. What you and I might rate as an absolute disaster, God may rate as a pimple-level problem that will pass. He views your life the way you view a movie after you’ve read the book. When something bad happens, everyone in the theater gasps at the screen. Not you. Why? You’ve read the book. You know how the good guy gets out of the tight spot. God views your life with the same confidence. He’s not only read your story…He wrote it. God’s perspective is different, and his purpose is clear. And the more you read his story, the more you’ll understand the movie of your life.

God uses struggles to toughen our spiritual skin. He tells us in Zechariah 13:9-10, “I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call upon my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” One of God’s best cures for a weak faith is a good, healthy struggle!

Have you ever seen a silversmith work? He places an ingot of silver on an anvil and pounds it with a sledgehammer. Once the metal is flat enough for shaping, into the furnace it goes. The worker alternately heats and pounds the metal until it takes the shape of a tool he can use. Did you know that the smith in silversmith comes from the old English word smite? Silversmiths are accomplished smiters. So is God. Once the worker is satisfied with the form of his tool, he begins using smaller hammers and abrasive pads; pounding and rubbing more. And no one stops him. No one yanks the hammer out of his hand and says, “Go easy on that silver! You’ve pounded enough!” No, the craftsman pounds the metal until he is finished.

So does God. Heating, pounding. Heating, pounding. Hardship, stress. Sickness, layoff. Heating, pounding. Heating pounding. Conflicts, loneliness. Lives out of balance, loss of loved ones. Heating, pounding. Heating, pounding. Can’t stand the heat? Can’t stand the heat of hardship and health problems? Well actually… this heat is good! God is using these things to refine you, to strengthen you, to make your trust in his love and guidance stronger! He is working on you for your good!

I don’t think you want him to stop pounding away! Some silversmiths keep pounding and polishing until they can see their face in the object they are making. So when will God stop with you? When he sees his reflection in you! When God has pounded on you so much that you only trust in him for love, forgiveness, and salvation, he looks into your heart and sees the perfect reflection of his Son, whose life was given in your place. God sees Jesus in you.

It might take some pounding to get there, though! And sometimes it isn’t very comfortable. It might even be painful. All the heating and pounding might make it pretty hard! So if you are having difficulty handling the heat, here is something to remember: God is always with you, protecting you, even when health and hardships pound away at you! He isn’t going to let you fall!

In the book The Dance of Hope, Bill Frey tells of a blind student named John, whom he tutored at the University of Colorado in 1951. One day Bill asked John how he had become blind. The sightless student described an accident that had happened in his teenage years. The tragedy took not just the boy’s sight but also his hope. He told Bill, “I was bitter and angry with God for letting it happen, and I took my anger out on everyone around me. I felt that since I had no future, I wouldn’t lift a finger on my own behalf. Let others wait on me. I shut my bedroom door and refused to come out except for meals.”

This surprised Bill, because John never seemed bitter or angry. So he asked John to explain the change. John credited his father. Weary of the pity party and ready for his son to get on with life, dad reminded the boy of the impending winter and told him to mount the storm windows. “Do the work before I get home or else,” the dad insisted, slamming the door on the way out. John reacted with anger. Muttering and cursing and groping all the way to the garage, he found the windows, stepladder, and tools, and went to work. “They’ll be sorry when I fall off my ladder and break my neck.” But he didn’t fall. Little by little he inched around the house and finished the chore.

The assignment achieved dad’s goal. John reluctantly realized he could still work and began to reconstruct his life. Years later he learned something else about that day. When he shared this detail with Bill, his blind eyes misted. “I later discovered that at no time during that day had my father ever been more than four or five feet from my side.” The father had no intention of letting the boy fall.

Your Father has no intention of letting you fall, either. You can’t see him, but he is there. He may allow hardships to challenge you—to strengthen you and your faith in him, but he will never leave your side while those hardships are challenging you. So if you can’t stand the heat, remember God is using it to bring you closer to him. And being closer to him is what our life is all about. Amen.

Portions and stories from this sermon taken from Max Lucado’s book: Come Thirsty.

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