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My God, My God, WhyÖ?

Part 7 - Why me? Why This? Why Now?

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(8/30) Introduction Ė Since the end of June we have been looking at the things that make us ask, "Why." David and the other song writers, as well as some of the Prophets asked this question frequently. Our Lord Jesus asked the same question from the cross as He recited Psalm 22:1, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). Even the secular media will often interview a Christian leader after a disaster and ask, "Why would a good God allow this?" In case you have missed this we have tried to give some answers.

1. We said, that people donít understand or know God (Jer. 9:24). There is the assumption that God is like a kind old grandfather in His rocking chair beaming with love for all the children of the world. We forget that God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). God is love but God is Holy, Righteous and Just. He cannot wink at sin, He must judge it. And though He loves the world enough to die for it. "God is angry with the wicked every day." (Ps. 7:11) and David records this in Psalm 5:5b-6, "You hate all workers of iniquity. 6 You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man." God loves the world and mankind and wants them to be saved and live Holy, and accept forgiveness, but those who refuse to repent and be forgiven, He will hold accountable and will condemn them for their sins. Our God is a Holy God and He wants His children to be Holy and Like Him.

2. We noticed that much of the worldís trouble is because every human being is totally depraved; that is, we are all sinners. There are none who are righteous or good, no not one. (Rom. 3:9-24) Jesus said there are none good but God. (Matt. 19:17) I know that on the horizontal level there are good people because we are comparing apples and apples. But on the vertical level, there is not one good person in this world. Every human being is capable of the most heinous of sins. To ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is not the right question. The better question is, "Why does anything good happen to sinners like us?" The problems in this world are because we all have this fallen, depraved nature, which is selfish and self-centered.

3. We asked why is there a Satan? We saw that Godís Glory is exemplified by His goodness in giving us a choice. And that Godís Glory is exemplified in His grace in saving and adopting sinners like us as His own Children. And, that Godís Glory is exemplified in His just punishment of Satan and all who will not receive His grace.

4. Last week we looked at, Why natural Disasters? The Bottom line is that the earth is also under a curse because of Adam and Eveís sin and God uses Disasters to get the attention of people in calling them to repent and return to Him, or to judge people because they are evil and/or they attack his covenant people. Disasters are also an opportunity for the church to shine as we respond to the hurts of people as Jesus would.

But today, we start getting personal. Why is God doing this or allowing this to happen to me? Why is He allowing this trial, pain, temptation, suffering, or whatever it is you are experiencing, in your life?

I want to start with Hebrews 12. This was written to Jewish believers in the first century who were discouraged, so much so that many were no longer meeting together for worship and fellowship. They were drifting away from their faith in Christ and returning to their O.T. faith. Their focus was on their present pain and not the promises of God. They were not exercising trust and obedience (faith) in God. We arenít sure who wrote this letter. The old King James attributes it to Paul and it may have been. It may have also been Luke or John? We donít know for sure. And we arenít sure where these Messianic Jewish believers were. Maybe they were part of the Roman expulsion of Jews. Acts 18:2 says, that Paul went to Corinth, "And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them." It reminds me of the scene from the end of Fiddler on the Roof. I wish we had time to watch it. If you have the movie on DVD or VHS go home and watch the last 10 minutes and catch the emotion of hopelessness and rejection. I believe this fits what these Hebrew Christians were experiencing. Look at Heb. 10:32-36, "But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:" Ever since they decided to follow Jesus, life has been tough. Have you felt that way? Life was easier before I repented and became a Christ - Follower. I donít understand God and I am not sure I want this anymore. I am not sure it is worth the costs. That is where these dear Brothers and Sisters were. Ever been there? Anybody there now?

Letís pick up with Hebrews 12:1-3. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. The Author says, "Okay guys, letís stop and Refocus.

I. Refocus on:

A. The Heroes of the Past (v.1) Q. Why were all these people great in our eyes? A. They lived by their faith. They trusted and obeyed God regardless of the circumstances or consequences. They were not recorded to be Christian fairy tales of people who lived happily ever after. They suffered, they endured, they trusted and they obeyed no matter what. They were no different than you. If they can do it so can you. They put their pants on one leg at a time just as you do. Well, just like you guys do. Some of the ladies sit on the bed and put both legs in at the same time and then wrestle to get them on and zipped or buttoned. Only Sampson had super powers and that didnít turn out so well. The point of the author is that you take another look at these people and refocus. If they can do it, you can too. And they are pulling for you to do it. The weight and sin in verse 1 is basically the belief that God doesnít care about me, or God hates me, or God is never going to come through for me. This trial is just to hurt me. Stop that thinking, and get back in the game.

B. Jesus (vv. 2-3) Yes, He is God in the flesh, but the author reminds us in this book that Jesus became as one of us and experienced all we experience and learned obedience by suffering (5:8) but He followed the Fatherís plan because he was looking beyond the pain to the glory and the joy of knowing that His life and death changed the destiny of multiple millions or billions for eternity. God, the Father had a plan for Him and He has one for you. Trust Him and look beyond your pain to the joy that will be forever. Consider even now in your pain that God is at work for your good and His glory. Thatís Jamesí counsel. Listen, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV). Jesus suffered and died for me to secure an eternal future of joy and peace forever. I am going to follow Him and live even if it means suffering because I trust the Fatherís good plan. The end of verse 3 says, if you donít refocus you will lose heart, be discouraged and quit. That is not the right response. So, stay focused on Jesus.

II. Remember (vv.4-7) Two things

A. It is not as bad as it could be (v. 4). This could be worse. You may be targeted for death like the Christians and Jews in the Middle East. Your situation could be worse. You could be going through this without any hope for time and eternity. You have the Hope of the Gospel and the Help of the Holy Spirit in you. You are not alone in this. You have the Church and you have God, which is why you shouldnít forsake the assembling of yourselves on Sunday AND in a small group. We have too much Clint Eastwood, John Wayne or Clayton Moore (original Lone Ranger) in us, we think itís okay to be alone. But even Clayton Moore had Jay Silver Heels as his companion. We need each other.

B. Remember Godís plan for you (vv. 4-7). Here is one of the most important truths of scripture and we hear so very little of it in church or from the TV guys. God loves you just as you are! God receives you just as you are! God adopts you as His child just as you are! When you hear the Gospel or heard the gospel and repented of your sins and trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, God became your Father. He adopted you on the spot. He did not ask you to change and then come to Him. He didnít ask you to turn over a new leaf. He didnít ask you to do anything but trust Him and in Him. Amen? But, He has determined not to leave you just as you are. God, your Father is totally committed to transforming your character and conduct so that you will reflect His image, or the image of Jesus in your character and conduct. Mark your place here in Hebrews 12 and look once again at Romans 8:28-29. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Listen to the slight difference in the NIV rendering of verse 28, "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. Our military is the same way. They will receive you just as you are, but they will not leave you that way. They will train, teach and test you until you become the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine they want you to be. So it is with our Lord. God is using every circumstance of my life for a good purpose. He is transforming my character so that it will be like Jesus and my conduct as it will be what Jesus would do. Do you understand this? Really? Okay turn back to Hebrews 12:5-7. This is from Proverbs 3:11-12. Almost everyone here could quote from memory Proverbs 3:5-6, (do it). The ESV forms verse 5 as a question, "And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?" Did you all forget this? This is basic stuff. Every believer should remember this all the time. Itís that important. See that word exhortation? It is the Greek word paraklesis. So what, you say? Well it is from the same word as our Lord Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit in John 14. He is the Paraclete or the one who comes alongside to help us. He is the Helper or Comforter. The author of Hebrews says that this message from Proverbs 3 is designed to be a comfort, a help to us, to encourage us. This should pump you up and give you courage, and resolve, and a reason to keep going. Two things here look carefully.

1. God loves you very much. He adopted you. He paid a tremendously high price for you. He met the demands of His own Holy Law so you could be part of His family. You are His child, He is your Father. You are the apple of His eye. You are His favorite. He has prepared a home, an inheritance, and wants to share His glory with you forever! Never forget that.

2. He is committed to training you to be a Child of God. See that word chastening. We see it and immediately think of what? Disciplinary punishment. Right? Again a Greek lesson. It is the word paideuo which means to teach or train a child; to school, to educate. Acts 7:22, "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds." Acts 22:3, I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathersí law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. Titus 2:12, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." We will finish this next week, but you must get this, God your Father is schooling you in the way of Godliness or Christlikeness. He is totally committed to your education. You came to Him as a person raised in the world. Let me remind you again of Ephesians 2:1-3, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." Thatís where He found you, or where you found Him. Dead, or separated from Him up to your elbows in sin, taking your direction for life form the world that doesnít know God, listening to the counsel and leading of the adversary of God, and thinking mostly about what you want or feel you deserve. I, me, my, mine was what you thought about like a 4 year old. But you heard the gospel and you repented and said that you wanted not only forgiveness of sins and a ticket to heaven, you also said you wanted to follow Jesus. Am I right? If you did not say that, than I, with no fear of error tell you that you are not a child of God. Being Born Again includes the desire to learn to live life all over again from a different perspective that doesnít just focus on me but on what my Father wants of me and for me. I am willing to learn to think like Jesus. That is the plan. And our text says that our Father is totally committed to schooling us in the way of Godliness and Christlikeness. When you see the word Chastens, think of teaching, education, schooling or training.

He has designed an education suited just for you. Three things are involved in your education. The same three things that every good (horizontally speaking) Father should be all about. Granddads, teach your sons and daughters that this is their job.

a. He is teaching you, life lessons. First, He gives you written instructions which may be verbalized by a parent, teacher, pastor, etc. But they are written in the book. Here is how my child is act. Here are important life lessons for you to learn. These include manners, respect for elders and authority, trusting your parents and grandparents. And how to do life from tying your shoes and feeding yourself to being honest and truthful, to learning how to work, and manage your money, and care for your possessions, and worship God, etc. God has given us the 10 commandments, the 3 commandments of the N.T. the Sermon on the Mount, etc., etc. Paul said, "But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:14-17)

b. He gives to you, life experiences. These are opportunities to put in to practice what He has put into writing. Elsewhere they are called trials, or tests. These are opportunities to trust Him as you obey Him. They are like boot camp or basic training in the military. Raw recruits are accepted as they are, but the military will not leave them that way. They are fed, drilled, taught, trained physically, and then tested in order to become the Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine they are supposed to be, so that in their tour of duty they will be ready and able to respond as the finest military in the world. God our Father is going to test us. It is part of His training, so you learn to respond as a child of the greatest King and Lord there has ever been, and the best representative or Ambassador of Jesus that there is.

c. That also includes scourging, or a whipping when you need it. "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." (v.6). And yes, God believes in corporal punishment. I donít care what Dr. Spock says, or modern disciplinary methods. I also know that people, moms or dads, can use the rod, hair brush, belt, ping pong paddle, yard stick or switch in an angry or abusive manner. That is not what God does. He never disciplines in anger and we shouldnít either. Let me just mention a few Proverbs for you to look up later (13:24; 23:13-14; 29:15-17). Now listen carefully and we will conclude this next week. Are you listening say? Amen! A trial or a test is a circumstance designed by God, which may or may not be painful, to help me grow in Christ-like Character and Conduct. Corporal discipline, or scourging is a reminder of some of the public discipline for those who violated Godís law, as well as the discipline of a loving parent towards their child when their child disobeys or ignores the teaching or commands of their parents. Scourging is the painful consequence administered by a loving Father when His child ignores His will, disobeys His commands, or just decides to live life on his or her own terms.

The point of the discipline is not the pain. The point is encourage His child to make the best decisions that will benefit both the parent and the child in the long run. Sometimes the scourging is simply the consequences of disobedience. Sometimes it is direct intervention of the Father. But here is what you must understand. He even uses the painful consequences of our disobedience to conform us to His character and conduct. Do you think Peter will ever forget denying Jesus? He will not. But God taught Peter a lesson in grace that changed Peterís life. God doesnít use corporal punishment because He is looking for an excuse to hurt us. If you think that way, you must stop it now. He uses it because of His deep love and concern for your future.

A parent that doesnít use discipline does not love his child, he loves himself or herself, and doesnít want the child to think less of him or her. Proverbs 13:24, He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (quoted from James MacDonaldís, When Life Hurts, page 36, Moody 2010)

Tom didnít have parents, but he had Aunt Polly. One day, Aunt Polly disciplines Tom. She pulls out a cane and begins to spank him intensely. As Tom wails, Huckleberry Finn is off on the side rolling around laughing. He thought it was great that he wasnít getting in trouble. But turn the page and Huck Finn is off on his own weeping as he realizes that he doesnít have anyone who cares enough about him to provide the security and support that will make him better. Itís only the silliest of children that dream of a life without discipline. "Lord forgive us for the times we have resented or even thought lightly of your discipline in our lives."

d. Hereís our last point for today and I will state it very briefly and say more next week. If God is not schooling you, you have never been born again, you are not adopted, you are not a child of God. "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons." (vv. 7-8). Your Father is not God in heaven. If your life is free of tests, trials and discipline you have never been nor are you being schooled by God. Every child of God is schooled, educated by God because He loves His children, all of them so very much and He wants to bring out the very best in all of us. But today is the day you can repent of your sins and receive Jesus as Lord and the Father in heaven will adopt you on the spot and begin your education. But its up to you. Will you receive Him?

What is God doing in your life? Well for starters, He is educating His children to be Christ-like in their character and conduct. He loves as we are, but he loves us too much to leave us that way. He is totally committed to your education. He loves you very deeply and he proved it when He sent Jesus to die for you so you could be part of His family. He has given us His word and He gives us opportunities to live by His word and to trust and obey Him. When we choose not to, He uses corporal discipline not in inflict pain but to correct us so we will make the best decisions. Never forget this life lesson. Teach your children this life lesson and may our Lord bless you as you grow to become more like Him.

Letís pray about it.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman