Saturday, October 04, 2014

Life Is Not Always Easy

October 5, 2014II Corinthians 4:8-11

Life Is Not Always Easy

Intro.: Some people seem to have all the luck.i
  1. True for Christians and non-Christians.
  2. Horatio Spafford was such a man
  3. A great deal went right for this man
    1. Here is a lawyer and businessman – a successful business man
    2. Besides being affluent he was also influential in his hometown of Chicago
    3. He had invested in the land along the Lake Michigan shoreline and what is now known as the miracle mile. Real estate was his thing.
    4. He was a solid Christian -
    5. A family man with a wife, a son, and three daughters.
    6. - and though he lived in a previous century, he was a close friend of D. L Moody.
  4. I'll say it again, some people have all the luck.
  5. But there is a problem – luck comes in two forms – Good Luck and Bad Luck
  6. To this point, Horatio Spafford had experience good luck.
  7. But in the year 1870 life took a turn – a wrong turn some would say.
    1. Spafford's four year old son contracted scarlet fever and died
    2. A year later Mrs. O'Leary's cow tipped over a lantern and destroyed much of metropolitan Chicago, in the great Chicago Fire
    3. His family lost everything – their investments and their home were gone.
    4. Spafford and and his wife spent the next three years working to rebuild Chicago ...
  8. but as you might guess, it was tiring and they needed a break and a change of scenery.
    1. It was decided to take a European vacation
    2. a vacation that would include working alongside their friend D. L. Moody during a London crusade and his favorite song leader, Ira Sankey.
  9. Plans were made
    1. They would travel to NYC and plan to catch a ship to England – the Ville de Havre.
    2. They arrived in NYC as planned; but before they could depart, the father received a telegram asking him to return to Chicago to complete a transaction.
    3. It was arranged for the rest of his family to leave as scheduled, Horatio Spafford would travel to Chicago and return to catch a later ship for England.
    4. Nine days after returning to Chicago, Horatio received another telegram “Saved Alone”.
      1. Their boat had been struck by another passign ship
      2. 226 people were lost at sea – including the Spafford's four remaining girls: Annie, Maggie, Bessie, and Tanetta all drowned.
      3. Anna the wife had grabbed hold of a plank and managed to stay afloat until a rescue could be made.
      4. She sent the telegram - “Saved Alone.”
  10. Horatio started back to NY and caught the first ship he could back to England.
    1. As Horatio's ship approached the site where his family's ship went down, the captain called Horatio up to the bridge
    2. He stood silently with the captain for a short time ..
    3. and then returned to His cabin.
    4. In the solitude of his cabin he pulled out a notebook and penned the words to the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”.
  11. I hope none you, I hope that none of us have to go through an experience like Horatio Spafford and his wife Anne had, but I do expect that each of us will have days or times when we may feel like we have gone through such an experience.
  12. But you are not alone – listen to Paul's words...
Read: II Corinthians 4:8-11


Trans: I have always found Corinth to be an interesting site.
  1. Actually, the town still exists today – about three miles away from the site that Paul had visited
  2. That site was destroyed by an earthquake in 1858 – providing a well-known site and for archaeologists to explore.
  3. In some ways Corinth stands in stark contrast to the city of Philippi – Sometime next winter or spring I want spend some time exploring the book of Phillipians – my favorite book.
  4. Why is Philippians my favorite book – because it was the letter that Paul wrote to the healthiest church that we know of – not perfect, but healthier than chruches that we know of elsewhere.
  5. At the time that Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church, it was by far the unhealthiest church to which he wrote.
    1. Sexual sin was rampant in the city
    2. The city known to Paul had dozens of temples and shrines dedicated to the Greek gods that we are familiar with - as well as others: Apollo, Athena, Aphrodite, Demeter and Kor.
    3. There were also sites sit aside for worship the Egyptian Gods of Isis and Sarapis.
    4. It was also a center of wealth – that seemed to be stumbling block to the early believers of the area.
  6. But there were changes between the time of the first letter and the time of the second letter, that we read this morning.
  7. Paul could celebrate their growth as they sought to follow Jesus -
  8. They were not perfect, they still had to grow, but they certainly more closely resembled the body of Christ that was Paul's ideal.
  9. Paul's first letter was one of correction and warning; his second letter was a letter of praise and support.
T.S. In this short passage, Paul challenges two misconceptions that Christian or other might have about the church.
  1. Mistake #1 – The Christian's life is going to be easy.
    1. Paul has a list of problems still faced by Corinthian church.
      1. We are afflicted in every way
      2. Perplexed
      3. Persecuted
      4. Stuck Down
    2. Eugene Peterson created a translation for adults that had either not spent much time in God's word or had spent so much time in the Word of God that it had lost its vitality, its power. Listen to Eugene Peterson's translation:
You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.ii
    1. If the early church could not avoid trouble, if Paul could not avoid trouble, what makes us think we can avoid it.
    2. The story of Horatio Spafford is not unusual – it could be any of ours.
    3. But in the middle of whatever difficulty life throws our way, we can know that God will be there.
  1. Mistake #2 – The Christian's life is going to be overwhelmingly hard
    1. There is another mistake that people make about Christianity.
    2. There seems to be this unwritten rule that says, “God will make like life tough just to test me.
    3. Or, on a similar theme, there are those that are convinced that if they say “Yes” to Jesus, they have started a journey
      1. to the jungles of Peru
      2. to deepest Africa (or even Ebola crazed Africa)
      3. to some remote island in the Pacific filled with hungry cannibals
    4. God has sent the church … that does not mean every one of us is called to go.
(Ill.) I am reminded of Jesus' words, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I do not know what God might ask of each of us. I do know this, he will give me, he will give you, no more than we can handle.
  1. The Truth – The Christian serves God whatever the outcome
    1. And that is really what Paul is trying to communicate to the church in Corinth – God will see us through whatever comes, He will be present wherever He sends us, We will never be alone.
(Ill.)   Theodore Steinway was a well known philatilist from the 1950s. He was also a piano craftsman from the Steinway family. He noted that it is the ten to twenty tons of pressure exerted on the two hundred thirty strings of a piano that creates beautiful harmony. Sometimes, it is only the pressure, the persecution we undergo that causes a song to resonate in the hearts of those with whom we share. Paul knew this.

          That is why he could say, We are “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”iii
    1. The bottom line is this
      1. God does not call us to make life easy
      2. God does not call us to make life hard
      3. God does call us to serve Him and then gives us what we need to do what He asks.



iMuch of this story is taken and modified from Beach, Shelly (2012). It Is Well With My Soul. “Section 1: Devastation, Doubt, and Deliverance”. Discovery House. Grand Rapids, MI.

iiPeterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

iiiCourson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 1115). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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