Clearing the Bench –Thriving amid adversity 1 John 3:2-3

The following is the transcript from the March 20, 2016 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa. 

If it hasn’t happened already, it will. There will be times in your life when your world seems to be coming apart. And as it was with Humpty Dumpty, it will also seem like no one around you is able to put it back together again. You may be scanning the skies to see whether the buzzards are circling overhead.

You won’t be alone. As you look across the audience, there will be those who are going through world-coming-apart situations – just like you. Wondering how they can keep it together. Wondering how they can cope with the dangers of the new day.

Now, we as Christians are not immune to life’s toughest questions. While we may be in a tough situation, with the clouds of uncertainty on the horizon, we’re in a “no parking” zone. Armed with the Word of God and the confidence of His hope we can press on.

As Ministers of the word, not only do we have the opportunity to preach hope, we also have an opportunity to practice it. John, the beloved disciple, looked out of the window of time and caught a glimpse of eternity when he wrote,

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)

So we, as Christians on this Holy Week need to recognize that while Jesus was ushered into the city with great fanfare and delight and unanimous assent, Thursday night came when he was betrayed by one of His own. And that leaves the rest of wondering what we do on Friday and Saturday. How can we go on into tomorrow?

Well, Jesus tells us we need to “Clear the Bench.” On this Holy Week Tuesday, Jesus came into the Temple and reminded the money-changers and Priests that,
“It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:13)

Jesus isn’t just describing the physical Church situation of the day, he was looking into the hearts of those who ran, encouraged, and participated in the current worship activities. 
Think about this, everywhere you look there is hopelessness, moral decay, selfishness, violence, world conflicts, you name it! But, and here is the kicker, there is sunshine behind those clouds.

The Lord Jesus Christ has not only seen your condition, He has also spoken these words to your heart: “You are set free.” Remember, whose you are, is greater than what you are going through. 
Isaiah spoke God’s word, 

“But now, this is what the LORD says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” (Isa. 43:1)
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis defined hope as a “continual looking forward to the eternal world.” One day, maybe soon, the kingdom of heaven will come to earth, and the King of Kings will reign forever and ever.You may not be certain how or when all of that will take place, but of one thing you can be certain: You belong to the One who will have the final word. 

You can rest continually in the final outcome of your faith. Hold on tightly to the hope that Christ brought to your heart – every waking moment of your day. 
The one thing we can do as we clear our bench is to Rest in God’s Acceptance.
The second thing we can do is Rest in God’s Availability.
The buzzards may be circling, but God’s not finished with you yet. Heaven is on highest alert! Isaiah served as God’s messenger, 
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” (Isa. 43:2)
Three church council members sat and watch a telephone repairman working in front of the church. Within earshot of the repairman, they began to discuss the best position for prayer.
“Kneeling is definitely best,” claimed one.
“Not for me,” another contended. “I get the best results standing and holding my hands outstretched to heaven.”
“You’re both wrong,” the third insisted. “The most effective prayer position is lying face down on the floor.”

The repairman could not contain himself any longer. He cupped his hands and shouted in their direction, “The best praying I ever did was hanging upside down from a telephone!”
The world may be upside down right now – and in your spirit, you may be hanging upside down with it. It’s not a time for hand wringing, however. It’s time to pray in faith. It’s time to take some advice from Victor Edman, who said, “Never doubt in the dark, what God told you in the light.” 
Crisis only enhances lines of communication. 

It is time to put away those doubts; to put on the royal robe of righteousness. That robe has been freshly cleaned by the blood of the Lamb, pressed in trying times by the power of the Spirit, and paraded down the runways of time with great and mighty success.

We have the privilege of seeing past the events of this week, where the Disciples did not. In our Passion Week, we need to remember to 

1) Rest in God’s Acceptance
2) Rest in God’s Availability
3) Rest in God’s Assurances

God promises are greater than your predicament. He promised, 
“When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isa. 43:2)
The Kingdom is here and now. And the Kingdom is coming as well. There may be buzzards circling overhead, but God hasn’t failed you before, and He surely won’t fail you now. 

Think about this, there are 7,487 promises in God’s Word with your name on it. God’s not finished with you yet! Jesus Christ has already won your war. You don’t have to look far for a hope that rises above the horrors of time. It’s already yours – nonperishable, always fresh, unfading.  Or as Peter writes,
“…kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4)
In a world of uncertainty, there are times when we need to “Clear the Bench” and put aside the troubles of the day and find rest in Christ. 

I urge you to take as much assurance as you will be asked to give. As you minister peace, rest in the peace that Christ has given you. As you bind up the brokenhearted, feel His inner healing in your won soul. As you sense the loneliness of your calling, remember the constancy of His presence.

Dr. Billy Graham once said, “Our confidence in the future is based firmly on the fact of what God has done for us in Christ. No matter what our situation may be, we need never despair, because Christ is alive.” 

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Let’s pray.