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Why - Week 3

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Well, I want to welcome all of you today at all of our different churches and Church Online and our Network Church family. What I want to do today is I want to declare a couple of statements, and I would love it if all of you would join your voices together to help me celebrate these two awesome truths. What I'm going to do is I'm going to boldly declare and you're going to shout back from the depths of your heart. I'm going to say, "God is good," and you're going to say, "All of the time!" And I'm going to say, "All of the time," and you're going to say, "God is good!" And then, for centuries it has been tradition as we celebrate the risen Christ, that someone would say, "Christ is risen!" And the people of God would say, "He is risen indeed!" So, if anybody is ready to give me a little bit of love and a little bit of help today, would you cheer it out and tell me you're in the mood to do some celebrating today! At all of our different churches, let's declare it like we mean it! God is good... All of the time! And all of the time... God is good! Again from your heart: God is good... All of the time! And all of the time... God is good! I declare unto you today that the stone has been rolled away, the tomb is empty! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Today, we celebrate the best news in the history of the world and everything we talk about will hinge on these two truths: 1. The goodness of God, and... 2. The resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in the middle of a series called, "Why". We are wrestling with some of the most commonly asked "Why" questions about God. We'll finish this series next week answering the question, "Why would God use someone like me?" The following week, we'll start a brand new four-week series called, Soul Detox. We talk a lot about detoxing our body, but I believe that many of us, we need to detox our soul. Today, we're going to deal with what is perhaps the most commonly asked question about God maybe in the history of the world. And chances are pretty good that either you've asked this or you know someone who has. It often kind of falls in one of these categories: people will want to know, why do good things happen to good people? Why does God allow that? Or, why doesn't God seem fair? I wonder how many of you at all of our churches would say you've either asked that at some time or you know somebody who has. If you have, would you lift up your hands right now? Why doesn't God always seem fair? Almost every hand is raised. And if you've ever asked that question I don't want you to feel really bad because the truth is, people have asked that for years and years and years. In the Bible Abraham asked the question, 'Should not the judge of the world judge fairly?' Moses said, 'God, why don't you treat your people as they deserve?' Jeremiah said, 'Why do the wicked prosper? It's not fair, the bad people are getting rich and the good people aren't.' David, over and over and over again in the Psalms, you can hardly open up the Psalms without him saying, 'God, why didn't you answer my prayer? God, where are you? Why don't you show yourself to me? Why don't you deliver me? God, why don't you seem fair?' Today, a lot of people ask it this way, "Why do so many children starve to death? Why do so many die in developing countries of preventable diseases?" Why, you name it, anytime there's a natural disaster; the hurricane, the tsunami, the tornado, the earthquake, whatever. Why do all of these people die? And those are fair questions and those are questions that I believe we should talk about and we should Biblically try to respond. But I found honestly, in well over twenty years of being a pastor, most people I interact with aren't asking those out there, somewhere in another country to people I don't even know type questions, most people I know are asking: "God, why did this bad thing happen to me?" Or "Why is this thing going on in the life of someone I love?" "Why are these bad things happening to me?" And it's a very personal question for so many people. The first time I remember asking this, it's kind of an embarrassing story only because it's so minor in the whole scope of life. But I was in the eighth grade and my Dad played minor league pro baseball, and so I was born and bred to play pro baseball! Man, that's all we were about! And it was the night before I was scheduled to pitch in the championship game. And so, we went to the batting cage to take a few practice cuts just to kind of get warmed up before the big game. There were three different speeds of pitches in the batting cage: There was the fast one, there was the really fast one, and there was the only get in it if you're a total idiot fast one! So, which one do you think your idiot pastor got in? The fastest of the fast! The very first pitch, I was way too young to be in there, it jammed me and I tried to step out of the way and the ball hit my hand up against the bat. I remember the sound of my bones crushing and oddly enough, before the bat hit the ground and I had time to scream out in pain, I remember in just a split second thinking, "This season is blown! God, why would you let this happen right before the big game? Why God?" I know a lot of you right now are going, "Oh poor Craig in the eighth grade got a boo-boo on his hand!" Because the reality is, you've faced things that are infinitely more painful than that and so have I as I had more life happen to me. Tragically, and I hate to say this, but I know there are a lot of you that probably ask the question, "God, why did you let me get abused? Where were you God when that man was doing something to me and I was only a little girl?" Or some of you might ask the question, "God, why didn't you help my marriage survive? All I wanted to do was be happily married and now I'm not!" I know some people who say, "God, why isn't there someone for me that will marry me? I mean, I'm trying to live for you and all of my friends are married and I don't know why there's not this.." Or it's you know, "Why did she get breast cancer?" Or, "Why did he get the brain tumor?" Or, "Why can't we conceive a child?" Or, "Why is our child the one that was born with this rare condition and the odds are so against us." Or, "Why did I get laid off from the job when I'm working harder and I've got a mountain of bills!" Or, it could just be a simple, nothing real big but, "Why can't I get ahead God? I'm trying so hard and can't seem to get ahead. God, why don't you seem fair?" And I believe so many people really want to give God the benefit of the doubt, they want to say, "God I believe in you and you are good!" But they feel forced into this corner saying, "I guess God can't be good and in control, because if He was good and in control He'd do something about this, but because there are all of these bad things happening to me, I feel like I'm forced to either say, "I can't trust God or He doesn't exist." I must not be able to trust Him, or maybe he just doesn't exist. Why don't you seem fair God? And I want to talk about that today. And let me just say, if you think I'm going to give you three points and a poem and you're going to go, "Oh now I understand! Okay, it all makes sense! Thank you Craig, let's go to lunch!" I'm not going to be able to clearly answer every question and so, let me just settle that. There are infinitely smarter people than I am that for years have been trying to answer this question, so I don't want to get your hopes up; but what I do want to do today, is I want to point you to the One who can or one day will answer all of our questions. It is my prayer that as we seek that One, that He would reveal to us the truth that God is absolutely and completely in control and He is through and through good. Why are bad things happening? In the church world sometimes people will say, "Well the reason something bad is happening to you is because obviously there's some sin in your life, there's sin in your life! The reason something bad happened to you is because of your sin, and there's sin in your life or you're not praying right or you're not praying long enough." And what they're saying is there's this unrelated thing you're doing that is leading to this totally unrelated punishment from God. And I just want to put all of that trash aside for a moment and deal Biblically with some very real possible reasons as to why bad things may be happening in your life. The first one if you're taking notes, why are bad things happening, we need to start here and realize maybe you're simply a victim of a broken world. Maybe it's just because we live in a sin-stained world. If you read Genesis One, Two and Three, you'll see that God created the world and everything in it and it was good. And when Eve and Adam sinned against God the world was not as good as it was before. When sin entered the world there was punishment, there were consequences, curses for the sin. Ladies, having babies in now painful! Anybody want to say amen in a high-pitched voice? You can! The ground is cursed; there's sickness, there's death, there's pain, there is sin. In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33, He did not say in this world you'll never get a headache! He did not say in this world no one will ever flip you off when you're driving in a car for no apparent reason whatsoever! He never said you would not get a zit on your nose before your prom date! And He never said in this world your cat would never vomit a fur ball on your brand new sofa! You got the cat baby, it's your fault! So many people want to say, "Well, I'm a Christian, nothing bad should happen to me!" Jesus said it this way in John 16:33, help me out, He said: In this world... What will you have? He said: will have trouble. Trouble, pain, hard times, things you don't like, things you don't understand. I mean, it's a promise from Him, in this sin-stained world you will have trouble: ...But take heart! I have overcome the world. We need to acknowledge that some bad things are just a result of living in a pain-filled sinful world. Just like the first time I did my very first funeral and my seminary professor said, "Sing a song, read some Scripture, pray a prayer, and nothing can go wrong." We read some Scripture, we prayed a prayer, all that was left was just to sing a song. Everybody said, "Grandma (who was now dead) her favorite song was Amazing Grace." So, I just started at this outdoor funeral singing Amazing Grace, naively assuming that everybody would join in with me. Don't ever assume or it will make a something out of you and me! I started singing Amazing Grace and no one joined in and so, I closed my eyes and just thought, "Oh God, this is for Your glory! Jesus died for me, I'm dying publicly now for You!" And I was singing Amazing when God as my witness, a fly flew right into my mouth and hit that little dingly wingly thing right back there and dropped down into my throat! And suddenly, I had two bad choices: 1. Hock a loogie by Grandma's grave or... B. Swallow a fly! What do you think your man-of-God Pastor did? You better believe I swallowed in the name and for the glory of Jesus who gave it all for me! I took the fly down! I want you to know it's not the devil's fault the fly flew into my mouth, it's not the dead Grandma's fault, it wasn't the funeral director's fault, it wasn't the fly's Mama's fault! It was just that we live in a sin-stained world and sometimes we're a victim of someone else's sin or sometimes we're just the victim of a sin-filled world and we have to start there. Why are bad things happening? Maybe it's because we live in a sin-stained world. A second thing, and this doesn't bring me joy to say to you, but it's true: Maybe you brought it on yourself. Now you may say, "But a second ago you said that it wasn't because of sin in my life!" Well what I said is, "It's not because you did something over there and there's an unrelated consequence." What I am saying is there are direct consequences for our sinful behaviors. If we live sinfully we face the consequences, the direct consequences of our sin. For example, if you go to a party and you beer bong twelve beers and you drive home drunk and you hit a car and you get a DUI and you lose your license because it's your second one! And you're saying, "God why don't I have my license?" The Lord would say unto you, 'It is because thou, beer bong is twelve beers, you drove home drunk and got your second DUI!' thus sayeth the Lord. You brought it on yourself! This is what Scripture says in Galatians 6:7-8: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked... What happens to a man who sins? The Bible says: A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature... What does he reap? ...he reaps destruction. "God why am I hurting financially?" It may be because you're driving a forty thousand dollar car, living in a two-hundred thousand dollar house; you just got home from vacation and you only make twenty-eight thousand dollars a year! You brought it on yourself! Welcome to LifeChurch Easter where my goal is to make you feel good about yourself! Why are bad things happening? Maybe you're a victim of a broken world. Maybe you brought it on yourself. Let me give you a new category if you're taking notes and that is: Maybe God wants to do something big. Maybe through something you don't understand, something you'd never want, something that is hurting deeply, one day maybe through that God wants to do something big, just like He did in the story in John, Chapter Nine, when a guy was born blind. Put yourself in his shoes for a moment. You'd be asking why, "Why does my brother see, why does my sister see? Why was I the guy born blind? It's not fair!" And suddenly, all of the people around this guy and Jesus started doing what we did trying to cast blame, "Whose fault is it? Is it his fault? Who sinned, was it this guy or was it his parents?" And Jesus says, 'new category!' Verse three, Jesus said: "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened..." In other words, the thing he didn't understand the thing he didn't want, the thing that was very hard on him; this happened, he was born blind, why: " that the work of God might be displayed in his life..." New category; the moment he goes from being blind to seeing, he has a story that would change lives forever, "I was blind but Jesus healed me!" Everyone who knew him Jesus said, 'New category...' this thing you didn't want, God did something supernatural through it. Much like in the Old Testament when Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused and put into prison. And through these weird series of events, God elevated him to be second in charge over Egypt. And through all of these years of hurting and being falsely accused and suffering, God was doing something good and so, he could one day save a lot of people. And when the brothers came up and said, 'We're so sorry, this is so bad, we didn't mean it!' He could say, 'What you meant for evil God used for good.' New category, there's a purpose in the middle of this pain. Now, earlier I told you about my crushed hand. I took the pitch and you say, "Big deal..wah, wah, wah, wah wah!" What I didn't tell you is that I took the rest of the season off to heal. And kind of as a joke I just took up tennis, and also there were four really cute girls on the tennis team and that's no joke! And so, I just started playing and had never played before. And believe it or not, I actually made the team. I was the sixth and lowest ranked player on the team, but I made the team. And so I played the season out, and then the next year I said to the coach, "See ya, I'm going back to baseball!" And the coach was like, "No, no, look, I think you have some real natural talent. Would you just come out and do ranking matches and see where you fall?" I'm like, "No, I'm playing baseball!" He said, "Please try this and see what happens!" Well, we had a couple of guys graduate. I went out and played all of the players that were above me and somehow I beat all of them. And in only my second year I started playing number one on a team that ended up winning the state championship that year; which eventually led me to going to a private university that I would never go because of a tennis scholarship, where I fell into deep sin at that private university; which I could have done anywhere probably pretty easily. But it just so happened, at that place, in the middle of my lowest point, a gentleman with a Gideon's was handing out free Bibles and I got a free Bible and opened it up. And when I read Ephesians 2:8-9, I discovered that I could be saved by God's grace and not by works and the spiritual lights came on and I was totally transformed. I went from spiritual blindness to now being able to see, and that led me to meeting Amy and being able to get her because I was on fire for God and so was she! And meeting her kept me from taking a job in business in Houston to stay close to her because nothing's better than Jesus plus Amy! And so I stayed here, which led me to being called into ministry at First United Methodist Church, where I was discipled and mentored by Pastor Nick Harris, one of the greatest experiences ever; which led me to being rejected the first year to being ordained by the Methodist Church because they didn't think I had what it took; which led me to starting LifeChurch; which led me to now, in my sixteenth year to declare to you that the tomb is empty and Christ is risen! And if for anybody this ministry has ever made a difference, I can trace it back to something I didn't want and something I didn't understand. Maybe there's a new category. And what I'm not trying to do is belittle anyone's pain and say, "There's a reason your child is suffering!" And I don't even want to go there because for some of you, it's still Friday today, it's Friday! You're like, "What do you mean it's Friday?" We celebrate and honor and reflect on the death of Jesus on what we call Good Friday; the horror of it and the glory of it. And the disciples on that Friday, they were as confused and as desperate and as afraid as you can imagine, because they didn't know what was going to happen on Sunday. All they knew is that everything they had hoped for was gone on that Friday, and that's where some of you are right now. It's Friday and you don't know what one day God could do. And I don't even want to tell you He's going to or He...I'm just going to tell you it is possible that for you it may be Friday and it's dark and it hurts like hell; but I'm telling you it may be Friday and Sunday could be coming. And one day you may realize that it actually took a death in order for there to be a resurrection. New category; maybe, I'm just saying maybe, God one day will do something big through the thing that you hate right now and you don't understand and you wish it never happened, maybe. Why are we going through bad things? Well, maybe it's because we live in a sin-stained world, maybe you brought it on yourself, maybe God wants to do something big. But here's a for sure okay, this isn't a maybe, but this is a for sure, why are bad things happening? For sure when bad things are happening God is doing something in you for sure. Take it to the bank baby! Whenever bad things are happening, God is doing something big in us. In fact, there's a very annoying verse when you're going through hard times, but just the fact that it's annoying doesn't mean it's not true, it's true through and through. James, Chapter 1:2-3 says: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials... It doesn't say to be happy about it, joy is different. But consider it pure joy when you're going through hard times, things you don't understand, things you wish wouldn't happen: Consider it joy when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith... It does something in you, it: ...develops perseverance. God is doing something in you and here's something I know about every single one of you. It doesn't matter where you're from, your spiritual background, if you believe in God or if you don't, if you're a Christian or if you're not. I know in every single one of you, if you've lived long enough, all of you have been through something that you didn't like, and something that you didn't understand, and something that you knew wasn't fair; but yet, over time as you look back, you'd say, "I wouldn't have chosen that and I wouldn't want to go through it again, but it made me different, it made me better, it made me stronger. Some of you would say, "It drew me closer to God." There are many of you who would say, "The lowest point in my life, when it was the worst of the worst, that led to the greatest point when I looked up and called on Christ and He met me at my deepest need." And I would never choose that, but I'm telling you God used that. He's doing something in me. I remember doing a funeral for Bill Lang probably about a dozen years ago or so. He was about my age then when he died. He was a father of five kids, a very close family to ours. And I went to do his funeral; I planned it all out to be just right because I really wanted to honor this great man of God. But we were all rocked, it was just very difficult. And so I went to start it, well I forgot to plan the very beginning. I planned everything but I didn't plan the "Hello!" You know, what do you say? I was young and nervous and I saw his youngest son and it got up into his head and I thought, "This kid is never going to know his Dad." And I just got rattled and it got real awkward and I'm like looking at them and they're looking at me and I'm like...and so I went to my fallback statement which is what we always start services with, God is good. And so I thought, "I'll say, 'God is good'." But then, I looked at this family who was hurting and I thought, "I can't say God is good right now, what do I say?" And then, it dawned on me, I can say that now like never before because it's every bit as true, even more so in our pain. And so, I just looked at the crowd and I said, "God is good." And I'm telling you man, you could just feel this, it was like a spiritual sigh of relief and emotion when just everybody there just kind of went, "All of the time!" And I said, "All of the time God is good!" And I'm telling you, none of us would have chosen that; but I want you to know everybody around that whole story today is closer to God than, it's impossible to describe. God's doing something in you. Let me just be real honest and say it this way, okay? I would never choose for my little sister, whom I adore with all of my heart, to have been molested by her sixth-grade teacher. Never choose that. I would have never chosen for my parents' marriage not to make it and for them to end up divorced. I would have never chosen for my little hand to be crushed and end my dreams to play ball. I would have never chosen for Amy's brother, my wife's brother, to die at the age of 34. I would have never chosen to bury my friend, my close friend, but the best friend at that time in my life, who took his own life, and me stand up and try to bring explanation to it. I would never choose for my son to suffer with migraine headaches until he vomits and then falls asleep after vomiting so hard. I'd never choose any of that, but I'm here to tell you everyone around all of those events has learned to trust and depend on God in ways that we wouldn't have otherwise. And I'm here to tell you, in some strange way the more pain we've endured the more faith is built; because you can take any sniped of life and say, "God doesn't seem fair in this!" You can do it, I can do it story for story with you, I promise you I can match you story for story. I've buried more babies, more tragedies than you can even count. You look at it, it's not fair; but here's the deal, you do life with God in His church, empowered by His Word, and I promise you, you walk with Him over a life time, you will declare with every bit of assurance that not only is He in control, but He is through and through good! God is good all of the time and all of the time God is good. And you may say, "What does this have to do with Easter?" Let me tell you what it has to do with Easter. The question so many people are asking is a flawed question, why do bad things happen to good people? It's a flawed question. The reasoned it's flawed is because technically we are not good people, okay. "Oh, I'm a good person!" No, you're not, I'm not. Scripture says that we are all sinners and that we've all sinned before a Holy God. All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory...there is no one that does good, not even one. And the reason this is so important and you have to get this, is until we see ourselves as sinners, we're not going to see our need for a Savior. And when we realize that we are not good, suddenly we can acknowledge that bad things don't happen to good people. In fact, don't miss this; something bad only happened to someone good one time! And His name was Jesus and He volunteered for it! You don't understand what I'm saying because you're giving me a pathetic little golf clap! What I'm telling you is this, I'm telling you something bad only happened to someone good one time and He was the Son of God and He stepped up and said, 'I will become the perfect sacrifice!' And He became sin for us and was brutally tortured and He looked up to heaven and when he was sin and God pulled away, He asked why, "My God, my God, why?" And then He did what He was sent to do and He said, "It is finished; Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit!" And it was on a Friday and no one understood. And it took what no one wanted to bring what everyone needed and that was a Savior of the world. And three days later when the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty and He was not there and because He was not there, we don't have to ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" The Gospel is that good things happen to bad people, like you and like me. And whenever you're tempted to say, "God's not fair, God's not fair, God's not fair; I agree with you a hundred percent, He is not fair, He is just but He is not fair, because if He was fair He would give us what our sins deserve. But Scripture says the good news is this, that God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, for as far as the east is from the west, so far has our God removed our transgressions from us. Would somebody shout and give praise to our good God because our God is good all of the time, and all of the time God is good! Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Father, I pray that Your Spirit would minister to Your church today and that we would be drawn to You by faith and that you would minister oh God, especially to those who are hurting today. As you are praying at all of our churches; I know, I've heard so many stories, I know so many of you personally that right now you don't know which way is up. There are hard times, there are challenges, there are trials that you don't understand and that you wouldn't want and you just need prayer today. If that's you at all of our different places, "Craig, would you pray for me, I really need the presence of God, the touch from God, I need a miracle from God!" Whatever it is, just in a show of faith today, would you just lift up your hands, all of our churches just all around and say, "I really am in the middle of a touch season right now." There are so many hands. God, I know you hurt with those who hurt. And God, I lift up those today who are in the middle of a trial. And God I pray that your grace would be sufficient for us. God I pray that there would be a peace that goes beyond our human ability to understand, that would guard hearts and minds and souls in Christ Jesus. God, I pray for miracles; God I pray for physical miracles; God, I pray for relational miracles; God, I pray for financial miracles; God, I pray for spiritual miracles; that those whose hearts have grown hard would be softened by Your presence. God, I pray that You would be our hope and You would be our help in this time of trouble. And God, I know that for many it may be Friday and I pray that we would have the faith to know that Sunday is coming. As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, I know there are a lot of you that God brought here for the most important reason of anything that's going to happen in your life. There are a couple of wrong extremes that so many people believe today when it comes to our standing before God as it relates to sin. There are those who say, "Hey, I'm not a bad person, I'm better than most, I don't need forgiveness, I'm not a bad person. And I don't want to be harsh; but the reality is, compared to a Holy God, you are and I am and we all are sinners in the eyes of God, and until you see yourself as a sinner you won't see yourself as a Savior. There's another wrong extreme and that is a person who says, "I'm too bad for God, I've sinned way too much, God could never forgive me." And that is a lie as well. The truth is that we've all sinned and fall short, but the Gospel, the story of Easter, the resurrection, it's a good God who did something for us that we couldn't do for ourselves and could never earn. Jesus became sin for us; He died and He rose again so that anyone who calls on His name would be saved. I know there are a lot of you right now, you may be at a really low point in your life and you may look back and say, "I'd never choose it, but it was at that low point that I looked up and I called on God and I decided to trust Him with my whole life, to give it to Him and it was through that low point that God did something special. Maybe that's why you're here today. All of our churches; those of you who would say, "You know what? That's me, I need forgiveness, I need salvation." As you call on Him God will forgive every sin that you've ever committed, you'll be brand new. Some of you, you're at a low point and as you look up and trust God with your life you'll never be the same. That's why you're here today. All of our churches, those of you who would say; "You know what, all in, all of me. I give my life to you, I call on you God, today I give my life to you!" Would you lift your hands high right now? All over the place lift them up and say, "Yes, that's my prayer; I give my life to you!" Right back here and right back over here. Both of you and sir, right over here on this side, God bless you guys! Others of you, a big hand right here in the middle section. Right back here up close in this section, God bless you ma'am. Right back here, all of the way back here, praise God for you guys! Yes, give it up! Right back here, both of you together. Way back over here in the back, praise God for both of you here together as well. Others of you today, right up here sweetheart, God bless you ma'am. Others who say, "Yes, I call on Him! Jesus, save me and make me new. Today I put all of my faith in you and give my life to you!" Would you all pray with those around you? Pray Heavenly Father, save me from my sins and make me new. I believe You died and You rose again so I could live for You. Fill me with Your Spirit so I could serve You with the rest of my life. Thank you for new life, I give you mine. In Jesus' name I pray. The tomb is empty, He is risen! Could somebody cheer and worship God that Christ is risen and He is risen indeed!

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Duration: 37 minutes and 42 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Apr 17, 2012

Why - Week 3 - - Craig Groeschel

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