Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ


Posted on January 24th, 2022

Romans 8: 28 – 29

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Earle Dickson was the cotton buyer for the Johnson and Johnson Co. back in the 1920's. So, he was out on the road quite a bit, and he worried about the welfare of his wife while he was away. You see, Josephine was very accident prone. It seemed like she was either cutting or burning herself almost every day.
When Earle was home, he would take the dressings and rolls of surgical tape that his company made and carefully bandage her wounds.

But you see, with the 3-inch-wide rolls of surgical tape and large bandages available in the 1920's, two hands were required to apply them properly. And he was sure that Josephine wouldn't be able to do that by herself.

One day, he had an idea. He cut part of a 3-inch-wide roll of surgical tape into 1"-wide strips and laid them on a kitchen counter, sticky side up. Then he put some small squares of gauze in the middle of each one, leaving sticky tape showing on both ends.

Now, should Josephine injure herself while he was gone, all she had to do was to take one of those strips and apply it to her injury herself.

Earle's idea worked so well that he began to leave these self-applying bandages every time he left town. Sometime later, at a party, Josephine mentioned Earle's idea to the company president, James Johnson.

Johnson liked the idea, and in 1924 when he added Band Aids to their product line, their company's sales increased by 50%.
And ever since then, Band Aids have been one of Johnson and Johnson's major products.
Many inventions that have simplified our lives today would never have been invented if there had not first been a problem that needed to be solved. And I'm convinced the same thing has happened in the spiritual realm, too.

Now we would prefer not to have any problems. But God often uses problems to produce good in the lives of His children. In fact, isn't that what Paul is saying in Romans 8:28-29? Listen to these familiar words:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son... "

God wants us to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”, to become more and more like Jesus. And the problems we face and overcome in life are a part of this process.
So... let’s look at 4 specific blessings that come into our lives through our problems. For as we see how God has used problems in the past to bring about great blessings, it will help us in the problems we face today.

First of all, sometimes God uses problems to direct us. We see this in one of the earliest problems the church faced. It's found in Acts 6:1-7. Vs. 1 says:

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food."
In those days there weren't any government welfare programs. Your welfare depended almost entirely upon your family.
When you were a child your parents took care of you, and when they became old, you took care of them.
But if an older woman lost her husband and her children, or didn't have any children in the first place, she was in dire straits. Unless someone took pity upon her, she ended up having to beg for food just to stay alive. And it was here that the early church showed its love by distributing food to widows and orphans and those in need among them.

But evidently there were some widows whose needs had been overlooked. And they just happened to be Grecian Jews. Now here is where the problem arose.
Some Jews who had lived all their lives in Jerusalem considered Grecian Jews as "immigrants" or 2nd-class citizens because they had lived most of their life in other lands, had grown up speaking other languages, and many of their customs seemed strange and different.

You can imagine the suspicion, the jealousy, and the division in the church that might have resulted from this neglect of the Grecian widows. But there was no division. Why?
Because, through the apostles, God used this problem to lead the early church into making some very important decisions.

Listen to vs's 2-6, "So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.
‘We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.' This proposal pleased the whole group.
“They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them."
And you see the results.
1, Instead of arguing, or trying to figure out who to blame, they set out to solve the problem.
2, Instead of resenting the Grecians for complaining, they actually chose 7 Grecian men to take charge of the Jerusalem church's entire food distribution program to both Hebraic and Grecian widows alike.
AND 3, Instead of the apostles being burdened down with even more worries and responsibilities, now they were able to concentrate on their main task - preaching the Gospel.

And besides that, there were 7 more men, full of the Holy Spirit, taking part in the leadership and ministry of the church.
And what was the ultimate result?
Vs. 7 tells us, "So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."
You see, sometimes God uses problems to direct us, to show us what is best.

Secondly, God can also use problems to correct us. There are times when we're stuck in a rut, and God uses problems to change us. It isn't that we're doing anything wrong - it's just that we need to go in a new direction.

But there are other times when we are definitely wrong. We have strayed into sin, and we need God's correction, His discipline, in order to have our fellowship restored with Him. So God will use some problem in our life to stimulate us to think about the sin that we have fallen into and to correct our behavior.

A perfect example of this is one of the most familiar parables in the Bible, "The parable of the prodigal son," found in Luke 15:11-20.
Jesus tells of a young Jewish man who squanders his inheritance in a foreign land. And when a famine occurs the only job he can find is feeding pigs.

Now it just doesn't get any worse for a Jew than to sink so low as to end up feeding pigs. Yet the pigs were better off then he was, and it says that he longed just to be able to eat the food that was being given to the pigs.

Finally, his problems got to be just too much for him, and he began to correct his attitude and his actions. He admitted his sins, repented of them, and turned his steps toward home once again. And his father received him with open arms.

By the way, do you realize that when we deliberately stray from what we know is right, God has promised to correct us? Hebrews 12:5,6 says: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves..."

God knows how devastating sin can be. So, when we yield to temptation, He has promised to correct us. And God has used problems as a tool to do just that.

So when we're having problem after problem, maybe we need to ask our-selves and God if there is some area of our life that God is trying to correct.
Not all problems are allowed for the purpose of correcting us - but some are!

Thirdly, sometimes God uses problems to protect us. And we see that clearly illustrated in the life of Joseph in the Old Testament.
Joseph was obviously his father's favorite son. And as a result of this favoritism, his brothers hated him.
Then one day their hatred boiled over and they seized him and sold him as a slave to a caravan travelling to Egypt.
It all happened so quickly. One moment he was the favorite son, getting anything he wanted. And the next, he was in chains and sold into slavery.

But God had a purpose and plan for his life, and He was watching over him, protecting him, even though Joseph didn't realize it then.

The story of Joseph's life is a remarkable one, and only the miraculous hand of God could have accomplished it, taking him out of slavery and making him a ruler in Egypt, second only in power to Pharaoh himself.

And then years later, during the time of severe famine in all the area, Joseph saw his brothers once again when they came to Egypt to beg for the privilege of buying food.

At first they had no idea that this Egyptian ruler standing before them was Joseph. But finally, Joseph revealed himself to them. When that happened his brothers were petrified with fear and begged Joseph not to kill them.

Joseph knew how much his brothers had hated him, but he also saw the hand of God working in his own life, and how God had protected him through it all.
So Joseph said to his brothers after he had made himself known to them (Genesis 45:4-8).

"... do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping.
“But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt."

You see, God had not only protected Joseph from death at the hands of his brothers, but He also used Joseph to protect his whole family.

They were the chosen people of God, descendants of Abraham, the lineage from which the Messiah would come. And realizing that God had used his problems for his protection gave Joseph the wisdom and courage to continue on.

So we must learn to trust God - even when problems come. He will direct us, and correct us, and protect us, for He has promised to work out all things for the good of those who love Him.

Finally, God sometimes uses problems in our lives to perfect us, to make us complete, to help us become what we can and should be.
Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, "...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

How is God accomplishing this? What process does God use to complete this good work that He has started in our lives?
Romans 5:2-4 says, "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope."

Did you hear that?
God can take the problems, the heartaches, the suffering that comes our way, and use them to produce perseverance and character in us. And as our character grows and develops, it gives us hope.

We have tangible evidence that God's grace is working in our lives, and this gives us confidence for the future. But the process all begins with how we handle the problems that come our way.

A great musician once said, "The richest chords require some dark colored keys." Well, I'm not a musician, but I think I understand what he was saying. And it's that way in life as well. If we're to have the richest character, we must have some problems as well.

But if we love Him, God will use those problems for our good to Direct, Correct, Protect, and Perfect us.

A missionary in New Guinea tells the following story:
It was back during the Great Depression, and his grandfather was a carpenter. But one particular day his grandfather was at the railroad station, sealing up crates filled with clothes his church was shipping to an orphanage in China.
On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to get his glasses, but they were gone.
When he mentally retraced his steps, he realized what must have happened. His glasses had slipped out of his pocket and fallen into one of the crates while he was nailing it shut. And now his brand new glasses were heading for China!

The Great Depression was at its height and Grandpa had 6 children. He had spent $20 for those glasses that very morning and was upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. "It's not fair," he told God, "I've been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this."
A year later, the director of the orphanage was on a leave in the United States, visiting all the churches that supported his work in China, so he came to speak one Sunday at the grandfather's small church. The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage.

"But most of all," he said, "I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists, on their Great March to the North, had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses.
"I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was no way of replacing the glasses in my part of China. Along with not being able to see well, I had terrible headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this.

"Then your crates arrived. When we removed the covers, we found a pair of glasses lying on top." The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then he continued,
"Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom-made just for me! I don't know why you included those glasses, but I want to thank you for doing so from the bottom of my heart!"

The people listened, happy for the miraculous coincidence of the glasses. But they thought that surely he had confused their church with another. There weren't any glasses on the list of items they had shipped.
But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an old man, my grandfather, just an ordinary carpenter, suddenly realized that the Master Carpenter had used him in an extra-ordinary way.

Based on Sermon
By Melvin Newland

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