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Which Way do I Go?

Date:11/17/19

Series: The Season After Pentecost

Category: 2019 Sermons

Passage: Luke 21:5-19

Speaker: Nicole Trotter

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“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name.  

The passage you heard is about as dire as Jesus gets. It’s an apocalyptic text. There’s no goats and sheep here. It’s a text about the end of time.

Most of us would like to ignore it and switch to a church that preaches your best life now. 

Newsroom clip….

SHOW ROAD SIGN-

Then just a few days ago I came across an article titled;

Apocalypse got you down? Maybe this will help.

 The article goes on to describe workshops given for people to help them cope with the anxiety and depression they experience. 

the state of the world.…..but what I liked is that I believe this is good advice for any kind of grief… 

I quote-

Live like the crisis is urgent. Embrace the pain, but don’t stop there. Seek out a spiritual path to forge gratitude, compassion, and acceptance.because operating out of denial, anger to fear only hurts us in the end.

There’s nothing more powerful than a broken heart, as long as you have a spiritual container to hold it.

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In Christianity, our spiritual container is not a what, but a who….and in this passage, it’s easy to miss the who….

there’s only three verses among the 14 that speak of hope….there’s small but they’re mighty…

After Jesus describes the disciples the arrests and persecution that will come…handing them over to prison… 

he says this… 

This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.  

It’s a piece of advice that stands up in any dire situation of our life…

When we feel like that sign, rather than trudging to all the prescribed ways of being, a world that will tell you to buck up, to look at the glass half full, or don’t throw in the towel…… 

Let your defense go…….and listen, Jesus says I will give you words and a wisdom…. 

That may not happen in an instant or an hour, it may take days of standing in a road not knowing which way to go, which way is up, but trusting that

you are exactly where you need to be,

The other to verse he gives us….

You will be hated by all because of my name. 18

But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls. 

Gaining in the greek is an ongoing occurrence, not a once and for all gain….Its the kind of gaining that comes over the course of a lifetime…

And soul is life….not a thing we gain after this body dies, but as part of who we are, our spiritual self as we grow closer to God….Living souls that are gifted the holy spirit in the way we choose to live through these moments of confusion, seemingly doomed, those moments we feel paralyzed….

Do the Next Right thing

We have a choice in those moments…..And it comes in 3 parts

 the first part of that is to stand still and choose to accept that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

The second choice is to trust that Jesus will give you the wisdom you need to endure, so do the next right thing 

The third is to choose this period of confusion, of grief, of not knowing, of transition, of illness, not as a test, but to choose it as an opportunity to grow closer to God. To walk closer with God…. 

We are given a choice, to deny, to race over the hard stuff looking for an escape route, or to embrace this spiritual container who holds us, to choose Christ, to testify through the wisdom of Christ that love will win, that life always wins, that God has us, and as we endure we grow closer to God.

MLK on choice- when the world was turning…. 

My personal trials have also taught me the value of unmerited suffering. As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains. I have lived these last few years with the conviction that unearned suffering is redemptive.

There are some who still find the cross a stumbling block, and others consider it foolishness, but I am more convinced than ever before that it is the power of God unto social and individual salvation. So like the Apostle Paul I can now humbly yet proudly say, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." The suffering and agonizing moments through which I have passed over the last few years have also drawn me closer to God. More than ever before I am convinced of the reality of a personal God.