Dealing with Difficulties

Worship Service for July 25, 2021

WELCOME

Good morning, welcome and thanks for joining CrossPointe Community Church’s online worship presentation. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May they bless us this day as a result of our choosing to be here.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Good news! Lindsay Brandenburg discovered a great way for us to audibly record and post the entire worship service. Besides hearing my message (as we used to do it), you will now be able to hear the musicians, the singers, and the congregation singing. To make this fun, imagine you are living back in the days prior to television when the folks used to sit listening to the radio.

As a reminder, we are having in-person worship at 10:00AM on Sundays. Vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, we ask that you wear a mask and sit on the right side of the sanctuary where the chairs are spaced out further. If you wish to sit six feet apart from someone else, make sure that there is one chair between you and them.

My first job was working in an orange juice factory,
but I got canned; couldn’t concentrate.

Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack,
but I just couldn’t hack it, so they gave me the ax.

After that I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn’t suited for it
mainly because it was a so-so job.

Next I tried working in a muffler factory but that was too exhausting.
I managed to get a good job working for a pool maintenance company,
but the work was just too draining.

My last job was working at Starbucks,
but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind.

SCRIPTURAL CALL TO WORSHIP

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?”
My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

Psalm 42:1-5

OPENING WORSHIP SONGS

As the Deer

Nystrom, Martin J.

As the deer panteth for the water,
So my soul longeth after Thee.
You alone are my heart’s desire,
And I long to worship Thee.

You alone are my strength, my shield;
To You alone, may my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart’s desire,
And I long to worship Thee.

©1984 Maranatha Praise, Inc.
CCLI License No. 1843349

Blessed Be Your Name

Redman, Matt & Beth

Blessed be Your name…in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow…
Blessed be Your name.

Blessed be Your name…
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness…
Blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll… turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord…
Still I will say:

Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your glorious name.

Blessed be Your name…
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be…
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name…
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering…
Blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll… turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord…
Still I will say:

Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your glorious name.

Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your glorious name.

You give and take away…
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say…
Lord, blessed be Your name.

You give and take away…
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say…
Lord, blessed be Your name.

Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your glorious name.

Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord…
Blessed be Your glorious name.

©2002 Thankyou Music/PRS, admin by EMI Christian Music Publishing
CCLI License No. 1843349

Breathe

Barnett, Marie

This is the air I breathe,
This is the air I breathe,
Your holy presence, living in me.
This is my daily bread,
This is my daily bread,
Your very Word, spoken to me.
And I, I’m desp’rate for You.
And I, I’m lost without You.

This is the air I breathe,
This is the air I breathe,
Your holy presence, living in me.
This is my daily bread,
This is my daily bread,
Your very Word, spoken to me.
And I, I’m desp’rate for You.
And I, I’m lost without You.
I’m lost without You.
I’m lost without You.

©1995 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing (admin. by Music Services)
CCLI License No. 1843349

OPENING PRAYER

We thank you O lord, that You have placed within our hearts this desire to worship You, this need to be reminded of who You are and what You have done for us Jesus, Your Son. We thank You that whereas we were lost without You, through Your gift of faith, we have been found. As a result of our being here today, may we be reminded of some things that will enable us to sing with confidence, “Blessed be Your name” regardless of what we are facing in these days, knowing that we are in Your Holy presence. And so we humbly offer ourselves to you in worship, through Christ, we pray, amen.

OFFERING

For those of you who participate in worship at CrossPointe financially, our mailing address is P O Box 126, Chippewa Lake, OH 44215.

I have been studying the Proverbs of Solomon lately. And came across this admonition in Proverbs 3:9: “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest.”

OFFERING/PRAYER SONG

My Peace

Routledge, Keith

My peace I give unto you.
It’s a peace that the world cannot give.
It’s a peace that the world cannot understand.
Peace to know, peace to live.
My peace I give unto you.

My love I give unto you.
It’s a love that the world cannot give.
It’s a love that the world cannot understand.
Love to know, love to live.
My love I give unto you.

©1975, 1980 and this arrangement ©1997 Kenwood Music.
Admin. by Maranatha! Music
CCLI License No. 1843349

MORNING PRAYER

Alan Robbins

Dear Lord, our Heavenly Father.

We are ever more thankful for the opportunity to be back in your house of worship on this beautiful Summer Sunday.

Keep Pastor Randy in our prayers as he guides us on what to think about when life takes one of those unexpected turns and the Peace that God can give us.

Lord, we know you will stay by our side. We know you will listen and guide our prayers to Reach Out…. to Hold….. to give Help….. to give Love….to give Peace …to give Joy and to Call the Holy Spirit to those that are grieving, for those that are ill, for those that are hurting in any way and prayers for our own needs.

Thank you Lord, as we give God’s Glory ….and Grace…… and Joy….and Refuge…… and Strength….. and Love ….and Peace ….and the Holy Spirit to our community and the world in which we live.

In Jesus name we pray. Amen

SCRIPTURE

“In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.”

Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

“I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”

Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”

Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:16-33

One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.

Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”

Acts 16:16-31

MESSAGE

Dealing with Difficulties

Randy K’Meyer

The Apostle Paul’s experience in Philippi serves as a Biblical reminder that life often takes unexpected and unwanted twist and turns. And more importantly, as an example of one who in his own words became “more than a conqueror through Christ who loves us.” (Romans 8:37).

On the other hand, Philip Poniz had been collecting rare pocket watches since he was a teenager and he had become an internationally known expert in the field. When the value of his watches grew to over $10 million, he arranged with his bank to rent a SAFE deposit box, so he wouldn’t have to worry about theft or fire or some other calamity. Each box is protected by two keys; the bank keeps one; the customer the other. Both are required to open a SAFE deposit box.

One day, when he lifted the thin metal lid of his box, he was shocked to see that it was empty. He said, “I thought my heart would fail. I was devastated, I had never known that one can have a feeling like that.”

A police investigation revealed that the bank had evicted another customer for not keeping up with payments, but bank employees had mistakenly removed Mr. Poniz’s box instead and handed over its contents to the delinquent customer, who for some reason, was never seen again. Things went from bad to worse when Mr. Poniz learned there are no federal laws governing the safety of SAFE deposit boxes? Even worse, there are no rules requiring banks to compensate customers if their property is lost or stolen or destroyed.

That’s not what Phil Poniz expected when he rented that SAFE deposit box. 1

As Paul and Mr. Poniz illustrate, life has a way of throwing us unexpected curveballs: jail-time, money issues, accidents, addictions, failed relationships, loss, illness. What do we do when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected?

Although they are not explicitly taught in Acts 16, I want to share four life-lessons learned, lived and taught by Paul that will yield both peace and a sense of hope that not all is lost when the unexpected strikes.

First, it may seem trite, but it really does help to maintain proper perspective.

Some troubles just aren’t as troubling as others. I know, who am I to rate the intensity of your troubles, right? But it can be helpful to think about how our troubles measure up to others who may be dealing with some more difficult issues.

I think Paul was enabled to rise above his challenge because he recalled the time, when before he became a Christian, he stood by and nodded his approval as the first Christian martyr, Stephan, was stoned to death. And he was thinking, I was just beaten with rods, but at least I’m still here. In fact, that’s exactly what he says to the Philippian jailer, “We’re still here.”

Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to get some perspective when he writes, “we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen” (II Co. 4:16-18a).

Rev. Otis Moss tells about the first church he became pastor of in Cincinnati. After he preached his very first sermon, a couple of his parishioners had the audacity to tell him that he didn’t at all measure up to their previous pastor. All that day and into the night he fretted about how he was going to compare to his predecessor.

The next day he was told about one of his parishioners in the hospital. As he entered her room, Leola McNair greeted him with great enthusiasm and said, “When I entered the hospital, I was prepared for one leg to be amputated. But now they tell me that I must have both legs removed.”

Rev. Otis stood there frozen wondering what he could say. All his seminary training had not prepared him adequately for this. As he paused searching frantically for something to say, she spoke for him: “I have been laying here in my bed thinking about all the wonderful things I am going to do with my hands when I go home from the hospital.” Then she said, “I think I will bake you a cake.”

Rev. Otis wrote, “I will never forget her and what she gave me in that moment.” 2

What did she give him? Among other things, some much needed perspective. And as he drove home, that perspective made him grateful; all he had to deal with was a couple of pesky nitpickers. He slept well that night.

Second, when life takes the next unexpected turn, we should count our blessings.

Counting your blessings; that is, the practicing of gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, improves health, builds strong relationships and helps us deal with adversity. Counting your blessings doesn’t mean that we have to pretend everything is OK when it’s not, or ignore bad things when they happen. It just means that when things are hard, we will choose to look for the good in the midst of the troubling time.

Paul encourages us to look for the good in bad situations when he writes, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

Recently, my son-in-law Bill Ludwig’s brother, Jim, fell off a roof and broke his back. An MRI showed tumors on both on his kidneys and a biopsy revealed cancer. Last week, he had one kidney removed and is awaiting surgery on the other. But instead of wallowing, and feeling like what else could possibly go wrong, he and his family are counting his fall off the roof as a blessing for without the fall and subsequent MRI who knows how long it might have been before they discovered cancer. And that simple act of reframing this unexpected turn of events is helping them weather the storm.

Bert and John Jacobs, the brothers who co-founded the $100 million Life Is Good T-shirt Company, grew up in a lower middle-class family in Boston. When the boys were in elementary school, their parents were in a car accident from which their mother managed to escape with just a few broken bones, but their father lost the use of his right hand. The stress and frustration of the loss of his hand and his job caused him to develop an extremely harsh temper. The brothers were constantly being screamed at and worse.

But their mom, Joan, still believed life was good. So, every night as the family sat around the dinner table, she would ask her six kids to tell something good for which they could be thankful. In their book Life Is Good, the brothers write: “As simple as that was, it entirely changed the family dynamic. Growing up with a mother like ours taught us an important lesson: Being happy isn’t dependent on your circumstances. She showed us that counting your blessings is a courageous choice you can make every day, especially in the face of adversity.” 3

Blessed be Your name when the sun’s shining down on me,
when the world’s all as it should be, blessed be Your Name.
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering,
though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.

When life gives you disappointments, seek out the blessings that may be in disguise.

Third, we must remember to count the blessings of our past wins.

His Philippian jail experience wasn’t the first time Paul had faced dire circumstances. Acts 13 relates the story of how on his first missionary sojourn, Paul preached a sermon in one of the synagogues in Antioch (16-41). Although some people received the word with gladness, Paul was run out of town the following Sunday. So he moved on down the road to Iconium where the same thing happened, but this time he was stoned before he could get out of town.

Certainly Paul must have been discouraged at these unforeseen troubles in Philippi. However; recalling that the Lord had been with him two years earlier enabled him to sing hymns of praise to God as he sat in that dark dungeon!

This is why he later writes the Romans, “we are more than a conqueror through Christ who loves us” (Romans 8:37).

I don’t know if you have ever thought about this before, but as of this moment our track record for getting through hard times is 100%. We’ve faced difficulties in the past, and we’re still here. We’re still going.

When we’re walking through a tough time, it always helps to remember the challenges we’ve already conquered. We need to take a moment to look at ourselves and remember what we’ve overcome up to this point. And realize that we can do it again.

Maybe not without pain, maybe not without heartache. But we can get through it. And when we do, we will come out the other side with more resilience for the next challenge that’s lurking right around the corner.

Lastly, in the face of unexpected trials, we may choose peace.

In John 16, Jesus says plainly, “Here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33). Notice He doesn’t say that we may have trials and sorrows, He says, “we will have trials and sorrows.”

Thankfully, our Lord doesn’t stop there. “But take heart because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus also explained why he was telling His disciples about the inevitable hardships of this world: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.” (John 16:33). Notice that Jesus doesn’t say we will have peace, like He says we will have trouble. He says we may have peace.

The great Methodist Missionary to India, Dr. E. Stanly Jones, wrote: “When we are in Christ, we are secure and therefore have peace with God.” He’s talking, of course, about the peace with God that comes to us as a result of being justified, that is, being made right with God through faith in God’s Son Jesus, who laid down His life for you and I.

Then based upon that peace with God Jones continues writing about the peace of God: “I saw a bird’s nest hollowed out of a prickly cactus in the deserts of Arizona. In the midst of a thorny world, I can experience the peace of Christ.” 4

Paul writes about the peace of God in his letter to those already in Christ in Philippi: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:6-7).

When our lives take an unexpected turn we should immediately seek the peace of Christ which comes as a result of praying and is promised by Jesus in John 14:

My peace, I give unto you,
It’s a peace that the world cannot give,
It’s peace that the world cannot understand.
Peace to know, peace to live
My peace I give unto you

J. Oswald Sanders wisely posited, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God;” 5 the presence of God even in the most dire of circumstances, even when facing death.

Insurance companies cannot promise the safety of our homes. No safe deposit box can guarantee the safety of our possessions. Doctors cannot guarantee the length of our lives. But our eternal Father unfailingly guarantees the protection of our eternal souls.

In Romans Paul writes, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

Catherine Marshall tells about a friend waiting for takeoff on a plane to Cleveland. She noticed on one side of the airplane a beautiful sunset with glorious color. But out the window next to her all she could see was a threatening dark sky. As the jet lifted off the runway, she felt God say within her, “Like what you see out of the windows, your life, too, will contain some happy, beautiful times, but also some dark shadows. But I want you to know that it doesn’t matter which window you look through; this plane is still going to Cleveland. 6

So it is in our life. We have a choice. We can dwell on the gloomy picture. Or we can focus on the bright things and leave the dark, ominous situations to God. Our final destination is not influenced by what we see and hear along the way.

No life goes untouched by pain or disappointment. Things simply don’t go as planned because, more often than we’d like to admit, our lives are out of our control.

But we can control how we respond. We can choose to keep our problems in perspective. We can choose to count our blessings. We can choose to focus on our past triumphs. And we can choose to seek peace.

CLOSING PRAYER

[I encourage you to pray as you feel led by the Spirit of God].

CLOSING SONG

I Will Not Be Shaken

Guerrero, Tony

My soul finds rest in You,
My Fortress and my Rock,
My hope for life, my hiding place,
My Refuge and my God.
In You I’ve found my home,
My shelter from the storm,
And I’ll pour out my heart to You
And lean upon Your throne.

I will put my trust in You,
I will put my hope there, too.
I will stand upon Your Word
And I will not be shaken.
I will let my praises show,
Holding on to what I know,
Because I know
You’re always there
And I will not be shaken.
I will not be shaken.

My soul finds rest in You,
My Fortress and my Rock,
My hope for life, my hiding place,
My Refuge and my God.
In You I’ve found my home,
My shelter from the storm,
And I’ll pour out my heart to You
And lean upon Your throne.

I will put my trust in You,
I will put my hope there, too.
I will stand upon Your Word
And I will not be shaken.
I will let my praises show,
Holding on to what I know,
Because I know
You’re always there
And I will not be shaken.
I will not be shaken.

I will not be moved.
I’m leaning on the throne,
Because You died for me
And called me to Your own.
And even when the strongest winds begin to blow,
I will stand my ground.
I will not be moved.
I will not be shaken.

My soul finds rest in You,
My Fortress and my Rock,
My hope for life, my hiding place,
My Refuge and my God.
I will put my trust in You,
I will put my hope there, too.
I will stand upon Your Word
And I will not be shaken.
I will let my praises show,
Holding on to what I know,
Because I know
You’re always there
And I will not be shaken.

I will put my trust in You,
I will put my hope there, too.
I will stand upon Your Word
And I will not be shaken.
I will let my praises show,
Holding on to what I know,
Because I know
You’re always there
And I will not be shaken.
I will not be shaken.

©2002 Maranatha! Music, admin by The Copyright Company/Butterfly Music,
admin by Encouraging Music
CCLI License No. 1843349

BENEDICTION

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

1 Stacy Cowley, “Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Safe,” The New York Times (7-19-19) https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/january/safe-deposit-boxes-arent-safe.html

2 Post, Stephen. and Neimark, Jill. Why Good Things Happen to Good People.
[New York: Broadway Books, © 2007] Pages vii-viii.

3 Natalie Walters, Brothers Who Co-founded a $100 Million Company say this Question their Mom Asked Every Night at Dinner is what Inspired their Business, Business Insider (12-17-15).

4 Virtues, page 128.

5 J. Oswald Sanders. Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart.” https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1998/november/5458.html

6 Source: Catherine Marshall, “Touching the Heart of God,” Christianity Today (5-15-95)

Randy K'Meyer

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