161009 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2016 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Sermon Theme: Rely on God!

I want to begin today by having you think of the person you most rely on. Who came to mind for you? Your spouse? Your parents or other family member? Maybe a close friend or someone at work or school? We all have those folks that we rely on. But, even the most reliable person may let us down from time to time. From God's Word before us today, you and I are reminded that we have One who is ALWAYS by our side and will NEVER let us down. The encouragement that you and I received today is to RELY ON GOD!

As he begins his letter, Paul writes to the Corinthians, "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death." We don't know for sure if Paul had a specific incident in mind as he wrote these words. But he would later write in this same letter about many of the troubles and difficulties he faced as the Lord's Apostle. Paul writes that he had been "in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." Why would Paul boast in the things that show his weakness? Because, as Paul writes here in Chapter 1, "This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us." Paul is confident that the one true God, the all-powerful God who is able to raise the dead, the One that he relies on, will be with him in the future, just as he has been in the past.

Why do bad things happen to God's people? Satan and the sinful world will tempt you with answers to that question such as: "God must not love you as much as you thought he did! He must not be powerful enough to stop bad things from happening to you! I guess you can't rely on him to keep you out of trouble, like you thought you could!" First, you and I need to remember that bad things happen in our life because sin has destroyed God's once perfect creation. What you and I deserve because of our sin and sinfulness is to have God leave us alone, to suffer through this life, until it ends in eternal suffering in hell.

But, the Good News of the Gospel is that we have a Savior who suffered in your place and mine. Jesus lived a perfect life, suffered and died as the full payment price for your sins and mine. The glorious resurrection of our Savior is your guarantee and mine that payment price for our sins is accepted. Because of Jesus our Savior, you and I enjoy the gift of complete forgiveness of all of our sins. Because of Jesus our Savior, you and I are privileged to be able to call ourselves children of our Father in heaven. Because of Jesus our Savior, you and I are comforted that our loving Savior-God is watching over us each and every day. Because of Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit working on our hearts through the Word, you and I rely on God. We rely on him to see us through the difficult days that you and I face. As one author has written, "One beneficial result of being confronted with 'impossible' life situations...is that they remind us of our need for more power in our lives than we are able to generate on our own. We need the power of one for whom nothing is impossible. That one, of course, is our God. If he can raise the dead, he can do anything."

There is another blessing that results from going through hard times. It gives our fellow believers on opportunity to pray for us. Paul writes, "On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." Paul sees it as a great blessing that his fellow believers are praying for him. And he invites them to join along with him in prayers of thanksgiving that the God who he relies has watch over him in the past and will continue to watch over him in the future.

Just as the Corinthians were praying for Paul, so also you and I spend time in prayer for someone we know who is going through some trouble or a difficult time. As you and I rely on God, we confidently go to him with our prayers for others. It is Jesus Christ who won for you and me direct access to our God in heaven so that you and I are able to flood his gracious throne on behalf of others, relying on him to hear and answer each and every one of our prayers. And when, in his mercy, God answers our prayers by delivering them from their trouble or difficulty in his time and in his way, we join with them in offering prayers that give all thanks and praise to our almighty and loving Savior-God.

Someone once said, "There are lots of different people in my life that I can rely on. Yes, I can rely on the fact that most of them will let me down one way or another!" Today, you and I give thanks that we have One who will NEVER let us down. By God's grace, you and I are able to say with confidence, "I rely on God!" Amen.

 

 

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