April 5, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church April 5, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11
We have now been placed under an order to shelter in place by the governor of Georgia due to COVID-19. We have seen the reported number of confirmed infections and the number of deaths continue to grow. This will come to an end. The virus will run its course in God’s timing. By God’s provision, treatments will be found that enable us to fight the disease. I want to acknowledge this morning that as we continue to wait for the end of the virus, things will likely get worse. Some of you may know people who will become infected, and some of us may even become infected. Some of the people who become infected are going to die. What does this mean for us as Christians, and what do we do in the midst of this circumstance?
Our Scripture today speaks to us about facing a crisis. In verse 3 and the first part of verse 4, we find Paul giving praise to God. He praises God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the love God has for us and for making a way of salvation with Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Paul praises God as the Father of mercy. The Lord’s mercy spares us from the penalties that we so often deserve. We can all be thankful for God’s mercy. Paul praises God for the Lord’s comfort and even more, for the Lord’s comfort in any tribulation. You may say that it’s easy for Paul to have written praises to God during his lifetime, but how can that be true now when people are being quarantined, when we fear for the lives of our loved ones in isolation, or when we become infected with a disease that has no cure? In response to that, let’s look at verse 8 from the Scripture passage and consider Paul’s past. In verse 8, we see that Paul encountered a tremendous trouble in Asia. The passage does not tell us specifically what Paul endured, but we know from the Bible that Paul suffered shipwrecks, was arrested, was beaten, escaped rioting mobs, faced threats of execution, and lived with a thorn in his flesh. All of these would have been dire circumstances for Paul to have faced. The specific trouble that Paul refers to in verse 8 is described as pressing him beyond his strength. Paul and the others with him believed they were going to die. Clearly, from this description that Paul gives us, he did truly know about trouble and hardship when he spoke to us about God’s comfort. Verse 9 tells us what Paul did in response to the great trouble that caused him to fear for his own life. Paul decided to quit relying on himself, and he put all his trust in the Lord. Paul did not try to rescue himself, did not look to the government for help, did not look to a family member to save him, and did not try to buy his way out of trouble. Instead, he chose to look to God Almighty, who raises the dead. In verse 10, we see Paul declaring that God delivered him from this past trouble, is continuing to deliver him in the present, and will deliver him in the future. Paul’s trust was in the Lord. When Paul wrote verses 3 and 4, praising God for His comfort, we can know that he did write as someone who had experienced great troubles.
In verse 4, Paul says because he faced death, he can comfort others by pointing them to God’s comfort. In verse 5, Paul talks about the sufferings of Christ, and we know God did not spare Jesus—His own Son—from life’s hardships. When we pray to Jesus, we are praying to a God that is not distant from us but to a God who knows what we are experiencing, knows the troubles of life, knows what it’s like to mourn, knows what it’s like to be abandoned. He is always willing to hear our prayers. In verse 6, Paul states that his sufferings and the comfort that God gave him can be a bridge whereby he can share the way of salvation in the Lord. Because Paul has experienced God’s comfort and been delivered, he can share with others the hope that he has in the Lord. In verse 7, Paul instructs us that we can take comfort from Paul’s experience, and we can also be the people who comfort others in their time of need. As Christians, we have the opportunity and responsibility to point others to the comfort that is available in the Lord.
Our world finds itself facing a pandemic the likes of which most of us have never before seen. However, if we look at our lives, we can see many times when God has brought comfort and delivered us from troubling circumstances. As Christians, we all at some point in our life have been delivered by God and experienced his comfort. Some of our church members have experienced war. Our soldiers have seen dangers in foreign places and faced threats, but God brought them home. Spouses of soldiers have lived separated from their loved ones, living everyday with the uncertainty of whether or not their spouse would return home to them. During war, soldiers have seen fellow soldiers suffer and die and some spouses did not have their loved one return home. Those were tragic things to endure, but the people who lived through them can testify today of God’s comfort and deliverance. There are people in our church family whose spouse’s normal jobs require them to be away from their families for weeks at a time, and they know what it’s like to live apart and to trust in God’s comfort during that separation. There are those in our church family who have been abandoned by family members, left alone after divorce, widowed, or faced many other different tragedies, but God has delivered, continues to deliver, and brings comfort. There are people who have faced sickness and recovered or people whose family members have faced sickness and recovered. They too can testify to God’s healing and deliverance. Some in our church family have lost loved ones in the past whether it be a spouse, parent, or child. All of those times were difficult but God has provided, delivered, and comforted. Praise the Lord for His comforts and look to the Lord to continue to comfort and deliver. Let’s encourage others around us and be people who introduce others to the comfort that comes from God. There are many people who are fearful in the current times and are looking for hope. We have the answer—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
In closing, let’s look at verse 11. Here Paul mentions the power of prayer. Paul acknowledges the many people who were praying for him as he faced the trials mentioned earlier. He recognizes that as he gives thanks for God’s deliverance, those who were praying on his behalf also give thanks for his deliverance. I want to encourage you to be praying that the Lord’s comfort comes to those who need it. Pray for our leaders all over the world, who are trying to lead our country and other nations through this difficult time. Pray for the nurses and doctors and others working at the risk of infection. Pray for the patients and their families who have been impacted by the virus. Pray for the Lord to bring deliverance to all from this virus.
Scripture: James 3:13-18
Tonight, we continue looking at this passage regarding wisdom. Previously, we have looked at the importance of having wisdom in our life, and last week we looked at the sources and dangers of false wisdom. Tonight, we will focus on wisdom that comes from above, how we find it, and how we bring it into our life. Verses 17 and 18 give us a starting point for wisdom, recognizing that it comes from above—from the Lord. This truth regarding the source of wisdom is further expanded in Job 28. Verses 1-11 of Job 28 consider all the ways people have searched for things and found things throughout the world. They have found treasures and resources and accomplished great things. In verse 12, we find people have not found wisdom. Job continues in verses 13-19 and teaches that wisdom cannot be purchased or obtained through trade of even the most costly and precious commodities. Verse 20 asks where can wisdom be found. Verse 23 provides the answer—God is wisdom and is the source of wisdom. In verse 28, we are told that wisdom is the fearing of the Lord and departing from evil. Fearing God is to have a holy respect of God. I’m reminded of men in the Old Testament that met the Lord and would immediately fall to the ground. These men were not afraid of the Lord but became aware of their unrighteousness before a holy God. They understood their position before the Lord Almighty. Wisdom starts in recognizing our position before the Lord. When we come to a right understanding of our relationship with God, it will call us to depart from evil in our life. This is a source of wisdom for us.
Knowing then that wisdom comes from God and that God is the source of wisdom, how do we bring it into our own lives? I would like to share with you three ways we can bring wisdom into our lives. The first course of finding wisdom is found in Deuteronomy 4:1-6. Here we are told to harken unto the statutes, judgements, commands, and teachings of God. Moses had delivered to the Israelites the commandments God had given. He instructed the people to adhere to those commandments. Moses told the people they had to know and do the commands that God gave them. He tells them this would be their wisdom. What this means for us today is that our Bible, our copy of God’s Word, is a source of God’s wisdom. We need to know our Bible and do what the Bible says.
Our second source of wisdom is teaching from fellow Christians and the church. We find in Ephesians 3, Paul explaining this sharing of wisdom. In verses 1-4, Paul discusses his purpose to share with others regarding the mystery of Christ. In verses 8-11, Paul tells us this mystery is the saving power of the Gospel for all people. Paul continues and tells us that it is God’s plan for not only Paul but also the church to reveal the truth of the gospel to all creation. As the church does this, Paul says we will reveal God’s wisdom to the world. We must be mindful to confirm any teachings with God’s Word. We saw last week how many deceivers will try to twist God’s Word or lie to lead people astray. We must search the Scriptures to make certain the teachings of others are true. True teaching that aligns with God’s Word is a source of wisdom that we should be applying in our lives. Our second source of wisdom is the Church and Christians teaching the truth of God’s Word.
The third source of wisdom is prayer. In James 1:5, James tells us if we lack wisdom, we should ask for it from the Lord with faith. James tells us the Lord is faithful to answer that prayer. It reminds me of Solomon asking the Lord for wisdom, and it being counted as a good decision for him. We can pray for wisdom in our lives and for wisdom in the lives of others. In Colossians 1:9, we find the encouragement for us to pray for other people. In this verse, Paul tells the people of Colossae that his prayer is for them all to be filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding. We should follow Paul’s example and be praying that others might receive wisdom. Pray for your family members, business leaders, government leaders, and others to seek for and find God’s wisdom. Pray for wisdom for everyone, including yourself.
We have three sources for the wisdom we need, which is from God–1) God’s Word, 2) the teaching of the church, 3) prayer. I encourage you to seek wisdom from above through these sources, and let God’s wisdom dwell in you. We see in James 3:17-18, the many benefits that come from having God’s wisdom, including peace. I hope you find peace in your life and encourage you to look for it in the Lord.
In Christ’s Love,