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Everything Happens For A Reason
Message by Dr. Rick Mandl at Eagle Rock Baptist Church, October 10, 2020
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Sermon Manuscript: Dumb Things Christians Say Message 4 Everything Happens For A Reason
Sermon preached by Dr. Rick Mandl, Eagle Rock Baptist Church, October 10 & 11, 2020
recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Hey church family, I wonder, has that ever happened to you? I’m not talking about falling off your bicycle, necessarily, but something equally bad happens, or maybe something much more catastrophic and someone will come up to you and say, "I know this seems really bad, but just remember... Everything happens for a reason." It sounds so optimistic. It sounds so positive that it must be in the Bible right? Somewhere within the pages of scripture it must say that everything happens for a reason. And certainly, if the one who says this to you is a follower of Jesus... Well then, the words have a ring of spiritual maturity. It's as though they were saying "You know, if you were just as close to God I am, then you would know that everything happens for a reason."
It comes out at different ways at different times. Somebody will come up to someone who is going through a tough time and they'll say, "God must really trust you to give you such a burden to bear." Or… "God must have something big planned for you if He’s making you go through this right now." Or… "God doesn't make mistakes." Or… "Isn't it good to know that God says everything happens for a reason."
If you've been through a tough time... If you've been on the receiving end of this kind of consolation… There's a little secret that you'd do well to remember, and that is. "You have to learn to hear the person's heart and not their words because sometimes words just don't help you." What makes these Dumb Things That Christians Say so popular? Usually, it's because they have within them just a little bit of truth. Just enough truth to make them seem believable. This whole thing about "Everything happens for a reason... "
Finds its origin in our MEMORY VERSE for this week. Romans 8:28. It's one of the most widely quoted and misquoted verses in the Bible. And what it says is... “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
When Bad Things Happen, There are two things you need to know. They fall under the headings of GOOD NEWS and BAD NEWS. The Good News: Everything DOES Happen For A Reason. Everything that happens... Whether it's a good thing, or a horrendous thing... The reality is EVERYTHING does HAPPEN for a REASON. The Bad News: It's Not Always The Reason We Hoped For. The reason that we'd like to believe, when something bad happens, we’d like to believe that it happened because God has something better in store for us. That's not necessarily the case. Usually when people say "Everything happens for a reason," they think they're making a theological statement and what they're saying is that "God is behind everything." Or that God causes everything. If you believe this... That God is behind everything... That God causes everything, pretty quickly you will become disillusioned with God. And pretty quickly your faith will crash on the rocks of this myth.
Again, what does the Bible really say? Going back to our memory verse... The verse where this DUMB THING comes from. Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Is that verse a promise? Yes it is. But don't miss this... It is a promise, but it's... . A Promise With A Premis.
First of all, let's look at The Promise. What It says is "In all things God WORKS FOR GOOD - - - What it does not say is... NOT "all things ARE GOOD." There is a big difference. What this verse is saying is that in the midst of the worst things that come our way, God is still able to work good in them. It doesn't say that those bad things are good, but only that God can work good in them. Notice something else... This promise, that God can work good in all things... It's NOT AN UNCONDITIONAL PROMISE. There is a PREMISE that goes with it. Something that we need to do, in order to claim God's promise of what only He can do. Specifically, there are TWO CONDITIONS...
Look again at Romans 8:28. The conditions are FIRST of all that we LOVE God. And secondly that... "You've been called according to his purpose." What does it mean to be called according to his purpose? It's a phrase that's used in a number of forms throughout the Bible - - -and what it means is that God has called you, and that you have responded and that you have moved into his family. So what you need to write in your notes for the two conditions are that we first of all... "LOVE God" And secondly that... AND we're a part of God's FAMILY. God has called us according to His purpose, and we've responded to the call. The promise that God will work for good in all things, is only for those who LOVE God and are part of His family.
What does it mean to love God? Does it mean that when it comes to the part of our worship time when we're singing songs of praise, that I'm one of the people who closes my eyes and lifts up my hands... And that God is up in heaven looking down saying, "I see that, I see that you LOVE me?" Does it mean that when you read your Bible you get weepy? Does it mean that every time you hear the name "JESUS" you feel a quiver in your liver? No. Jesus tells us what it means to love him. In John chapter 14, verse 15, Jesus said... “If you love me, you will obey what I command."
How many of you have heard of the 5 Love Languages? It's an idea that was made popular through a book written by Gary Chapman in 1992 that became a bestseller and has sold over 13 million copies. The premise of the book is that there comes a point in just about every marriage where it seems like the couple isn't speaking the same language. And that learning each other's love language can help couples connect in a way that is meaningful to one another. The five Love Languages that Chapman has identified are... Words of affirmation, Quality time, Receiving gifts, Acts of service, Physical touch. Chapman says that while each of these languages is enjoyed to some degree by all people, a person will usually speak one primary language. And if you want success in your relationship, you need to learn your partner's love language, so that you can communicate love to them in the language they speak.
If this is true in marriage... It's even more so in our relationship with God. And according to the Bible, God's Love Language is Obedience. “If you love me, you will OBEY what I command.” If I want to CLAIM the PROMISE that in all things God will work for good, I number one must be living a life of obedience. Perfect obedience? No - - - none of us can claim that. None of us can claim a life of SINLESS PERFECTION, But what ought to be evident is that OBEDIENCE is the DIRECTION in which we're moving, and that we are moving forward... making progress.
When the Bible talks about walking in obedience, what it's saying is that when I KNOW what God wants, I DO what he wants. There may be some areas in which I'm not aware of what God wants. There may be some areas where I struggle. But there aren't areas in my life where I'm saying, "Sorry, God, you can have the rest of my life, but this part is mine." If that's what I'm doing, I can't claim this promise. Because I might SAY that I really love God, Think about it - - - Just about everybody does that when they're asked to list their priorities... God... Family... Country. But Jesus says, His love test is - what? OBEDIENCE.
Now when it comes to this second condition... Being a part of God's Family... There's a popular notion in our world that we're ALL part of God's family. What does the Bible say? The Bible says that whereas we've all been made in the IMAGE of God... We become members of God's family when we enter into that family through relationship with His son Jesus Christ. That is the point at which we're adopted into his forever family. You see the promise in Romans 8:28 depends on two things... Not only that I'm OBEYING God and living a Moral life, but also that I've given my life over to Jesus Christ and then he begins a work of changing me from the inside out in order to accomplish what Romans 8 refers to as HIS PURPOSE IN ME.
What's "this purpose" according to which He has called us? If you read on to the next verse in Romans 8 it tells us... Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Notice those words... “conformed to the image of his Son." God's purpose for you... his purpose for me... his purpose for all of us. What He wants to see is "More People, More Like Jesus" More of us "Conformed to the image of His Son, so that Jesus “might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." What God wants to do is to transform your character to the extent that you would think like Jesus would think if he were in your place? You would feel like Jesus would feel if he were in your place. You would love like Jesus would love if he were in your place. And the end result of that is that you would do what Jesus would do if he were in your place.
That's God's purpose for us... .to conform us to the image of his Son. That's God's purpose for you and for me if we're followers of his son, Jesus Christ. The promise of Romans 8:28 isn't for everyone. It's for those who've responded to his call... For those who've said "Yes" to Jesus Christ and are following him in obedience. Bottom of your notes... If you want to CLAIM the PROMISE You've got to FULFILL the PREMISE. The promise isn't for EVERYONE. It's for those who LOVE GOD. It's for those who are part of God's family. If you're FULFILLING the PREMISE, You can CLAIM the PROMISE Let me give you TWO THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN.
First of all remember... A BAD THING MIGHT BECOME A GOOD THING. This is what we hope is going to be the end result when bad things happen to us, or around us. We hope it's going to become a good thing because... Maybe God has something better in mind. You're out there running after something, and you come to a door that just gets slammed in your face. And you cry out "Why God, Why?" And what you hope is that the reason that God blocked you was because he had something better in mind. Kind of like the Garth Brooks song, "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."
Maybe you were ENGAGED TO SOMEBODY, who really would not have been good for you. And for whatever reason, you couldn't see it, even though all your friends could. And something happened, and the engagement got broken off, and now, you look back on that, and even though you were broken-hearted at the time, now with the benefit of hindsight, you say the breaking of that engagement was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because God had something much better for me. Some of you maybe were FIRED FROM A JOB. Unexpectedly, without warning, maybe even without cause, you were let go. And you were devastated, not having any idea what you would do, only to wind up with a much better job. I'm sure some of you have had that experience.
But you know what? Sometimes you get fired from a job, and you never again get a job as good as the one you lost. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes a bad thing might become a good thing. Read the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. It's a story of one bad thing after another after another after another. SOLD INTO SLAVERY by his brothers... TRANSPORTED FAR FROM HOME to a distant land FINDING FAVOR IN THE EYES OF HIS MASTER, until he's accused of a crime he didn't commit. IN PRISON HE BEFRIENDS ANOTHER PRISONER WHOM HE HELPS... And when he helps him that other prisoner promises to remember him, but you know what? He forgets Joseph. And yet by the end of the story, Joseph has risen to the position of 2nd in command in the land of Egypt. And when his brothers - - - the ones who sold him into slavery finally come face to face with him, they're afraid that Joseph is going to want vengeance, but do you know what he said? He said, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, for the saving of many lives." There are times when a bad thing might BECOME a good thing.
But you know what? There are also times when A BAD THING MIGHT BE A BAD THING. I love it when God works it out so that bad things become Good things. Sometimes God does that, but not in every situation. And we become angry at God when we ASSUME he's made a promise that he never made. And that he's obligated to do always, what we've seen Him do sometimes. Read through the gospels and you'll see that Jesus healed people. But you know what? He didn't heal every person he encountered. There are a lot of things that happen in this world that we will never be able to figure out this side of eternity, because we don't see the whole picture.
Think about the story of Job, was what happened to Job a good thing or a bad thing??? Think about that for a moment... He lost his health, he lost his wealth, he lost his children. If you know the end of the story, you know that his fortune was restored... But I think if you talked to Job and reminded him, that he had already been the richest man of his time, and then he went through all that suffering, lost his health, lost his wealth, lost his family. Only to go through severe testing, and then get back even more than he lost, I think he’d tell you, if I had it all to do over again... I would have chosen to take a pass on all that. I would have settled for just maybe being the second richest guy in the world, and taking a pass on all the pain. You’d be hard pressed to call what happened to Job good. What’s my point?
My point is that sometimes a bad thing can become a good thing And sometimes a bad thing might just be a bad thing. Why might a bad thing be a bad thing? One reason is because we live in a fallen world. All of us are dealing with the consequences of a sin bomb that detonated back in Eden. And this world with global pandemics, and racial strife, and so much division, is not the world that God designed it to be. And if we don't understand that we can become very surprised when bad stuff happens.
Another reason that bad things happen is because of our own sin. Sin has consequences. And sometimes we experience the consequences of the bad decisions, or the sinful decisions that we've made or that others have made. Remember Adam, after he ate from the tree that God had forbidden him to eat, and God came looking for him in the garden. Do you remember what he did? He hid from God. And when God found him, he asked him why he was hiding, and Adam said, it was because he was afraid because he was naked. And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Rather than own up to his sin, he tried to play "The Blame Game." Proving the old saying, "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you place the blame." Adam blames Eve. Adam blames God. Adam blames everybody except Adam. Did God want them to sin? No! He warned them so that they wouldn't. Remember when he put them in the garden he said... You can eat anything you want to - - - Except for this one tree Leave this one alone --- The tree of the knowledge of good and evil - - - Leave it alone. Enjoy everything else - - - just leave this alone. But then Eve has a conversation with a snake. Ladies - - - just a word of advice - - if you're in your garden and a snake starts talking you, would you please just go in the house? Do not engage him in conversation - - run the other way. Eve has this conversation with the snake. The snake convinces her to eat the fruit. She gives the fruit to Adam. Adam eats it too. And the rest is history.
You would be hard pressed to say that what happened in Eden was GOOD. You'd be hard pressed to come up to Adam & Eve after they had been thrown out of the garden and say to them, "Remember, everything happens for a reason." Yeah, Everything does happen for a reason, but sometimes the reason is that it’s the consequences for our sins. That's one of the ways in which our memory verse (Romans 8:28) gets twisted. People use it, to try and justify their sin. "I know what I'm doing is wrong, it may look like a BAD THING, but God will bring something good out of it." "He will work it out in the end." I don't have to worry about anything I do because God is just gonna fix it in post-production. God is gonna airbrush it -- He's gonna Photoshop it. It will all look GOOD in the end.
Romans 6:1-2 asks the question... Should we keep on sinning so that God can pour out more and more grace? The answer given is – “Of course not!” We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? If the dumb thing is that "Everything Happens for a Reason." What's the Smart Thing? The smart thing is... Whatever Happens Obey God. That's the smart thing. God is going to do what he is going to do. Sometimes he can take a bad thing and bring something good out of it. But when it comes to our lives, don't bank on that. Do what He says and trust Him to take care of the results. When it comes to the bad things and the good things in this life… Two Things To Remember….
If you're a follower of J.C. this world is as Close to Hell as you are ever gonna get. You may be going through some really hard times right now – I don’t want to minimize that. Just remember that as a follower of J.C. this world... This broken world... This sin stain world, is not our ultimate hope. This is not the place for which we were made. We’re not home yet.
On the flip side... If you're not a follower of J.C. this world is as Close to Heaven as you are ever gonna get... Unless you do something to change that... You and I have too much at stake to base our eternity on the word on the street, or some Urban Legend, or some Dumb Thing That Well Meaning Christians Say. Instead Take God at his word. Commit your life to him and follow him, and trust that no matter what happens here, good, bad or ugly... There's an awesome end to the story that God is writing. Let's pray...
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
Scripture References: Romans 8:28
From Series: "Dumb Things Christians Say"
People have a lot to say, these days. On social media and among friends and family, we share opinions and advice freely. But sometimes Christians toss around statements that aren't exactly helpful or even biblically true. In this six-week series we’ll look at some of those spiritual urban legends and contrast them with what God’s Word actually says.
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