Don’t Give Up or Give in to Despair – We are crushed, but not destroyed. To give up on our faith, on the church, or to give up on any ministry or on anyone means we will miss out on the wondrous things that God can do. When Jesus was arrested, the disciples ran out in fear and despair. But the resurrection day was coming. In Christ, the worst things are never the last the things. Don’t give up and don’t give in to despair.

Don’t Ignore How You Feel – Even if we are resolved not to give up or give in, that doesn’t mean that we won’t feel badly. All of us are feeling something – even if we are feeling numb or shocked. We are experiencing all sorts of emotions. Those of you who have been through similar circumstances are perhaps reliving the emotions you have felt. God made us to feel. Don’t ignore this; only do not let your feelings become an opportunity to sin. The Psalms show us how people of faith take every sort of feeling before God so that God may redeem those feelings. There are angry Psalms, sad Psalms, questioning Psalms, pleading Psalms, and hopeful Psalms. Don’t ignore how you feel. Let this situation become an opportunity for faith.

Don’t Worry (or feel anxious to fix or explain) – It is understandable that we might feel anxious at a time like this. We may be worried about many things. When we get anxious we want to fix the problem. We want to explain everything somehow. Abraham and Sarah lost their patience waiting on God to fulfill His promise and the result was the birth of Ishmael. Instead of solving a problem, they created many more. I appreciate the fact that our elders have decided to wait prayerfully for 30 days before making any major decisions. They rightly recognize that our first priority is seeking redemption of sin, healing hurt and being prayerfully patient before God.

Do Pray – So we should all be praying. What Satan would use for harm, God can redeem for good. In prayer, we stop to give God the victory. Prayer pagers have been given out. I urge you to lift up the arms of our leaders as they begin a time of discernment and prayer.

Do Love – Praying for one another and with one another is a way to demonstrate our love for one another. Love covers over a multitude of sins. It doesn’t make sin go away; it doesn’t ignore the destructive potential of sin; it covers it over. When a sharp, abrasive irritant is introduced into the soft tissue of an oyster, the oyster covers the particle with a substance that smoothes the irritant and in time makes it a glistening pearl. Love can cover over the sin that has irritated this body, and by the grace of God He can transform this experience into a jewel that reflects His glory. Love covers over a multitude of sins.

Do Hope – Right now it may be very difficult to see how anything good can come of this. I admit to being shortsighted. But “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:3) We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. The worst things are never the last things for those who follow Christ.

In addition to these, I add two more ...
Don’t overlook the seriousness of sin. – Because of sin there is death and suffering in the world. Paul warns the Galatians that even as they are to extend help to the sinner they should be cautious of the potential of sin to harm them as well. [Galatians 6:1, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”]

Do trust in the grace of God – Romans 5:12 - You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in--first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. 13That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. 14Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. 15Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! 16There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. 17If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? 18Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! 19One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. 20All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. 21All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life--a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

Which rules in your life? Sin or grace? If sin rules in your life it will not only hurt you but also those you love and many more than you can ever imagine. But if the grace and mercy of God rules in your life then you can be cleansed and redeemed and experience true life in Christ Jesus. I urge you to choose the grace and mercy of God and not let sin rule.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 March 2006

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin