Joy in Adversity? Really?

Worship Service for October 25, 2020

WELCOME

Good morning. Welcome to CrossPointe Community Church’s online video presentation. I thank God for all of you and for the opportunity to spend these moments with you. If you’d like to reach out to me, I’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail me at randykmeyer@hotmail.com.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Today is the day we have reverted to our normal worship time of 10:30 am.

Next Friday is our next free Community Meal. We will be serving the boxed food to folks as they drive up in their cars. In addition, we have put out the word that anyone living in Chippewa Lake or Gloria Glens who have no transportation can call the church by Saturday to request delivery. If you would like to volunteer to help out by either serving the folks who come to the church or delivering it to those who cannot, please let me know.

I will remain after worship until 12 noon for those of you who wish to drop off your offering. You may place it in the box that is located in the lobby. If you prefer to send your offering in the mail, the address is:

CrossPointe Community Church
P. O. Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215-0126

Once again, let us open our hearts to praising and hearing the Word of the Lord by reading through the worship service. Please take advantage of the opportunity to read, pause, reflect and pray when you feel led. I hope you also noticed that this service is also available in video format above.

CALL TO WORSHIP

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.

Psalm 28:7 (ESV)

HYMNS OF PRAISE

Sing for Joy

Moen, Don

Sing for joy to God our strength
Sing for joy to God our strength,
Our strength.

If we call to Him, He will answer us
If we run to Him, He will run to us
If we lift our hands, He will lift us up
Come now praise His name,
All you saints of God.

Sing for joy to God our strength
Sing for joy to God our strength,
Our strength.

Draw near to Him, He is here with us
Give Him your love, He’s in love with us
He will heal our hearts,
He will cleanse our hands
If we rend our hearts, He will heal our land.

Sing for joy to God our strength
Sing for joy to God our strength,
Our strength.

Sing for joy to God our strength
Sing for joy to God our strength,
Our strength.

CCLI License No. 1843349

Strong Tower

Furler, Peter/Taylor, Steve

Strong and mighty…
Strong to save us
Like a fortress…never failing
Strong in battle…strong in kindness
When we stray Lord…
You’re strong to find us.

When the wind comes hard against us
You are steadfast, You are true
When the ground beneath us trembles
Your foundation never moves.

Strong tower…high and glorious…
Strong tower…mighty in love
Our refuge…our defender…
Strong tower…Lord above.

Strong to lead us…through the shadows
Strong to carry…all our sorrows
When the enemy surrounds us…
Closes in as darkness falls
Though his armies rage against us
They can never scale these walls.

Strong tower…high and glorious…
Strong tower…mighty in love
Our refuge…our defender…
Strong tower…Lord above.

You are my shelter…my shield
You are the home…
I could never deserve
Here I will serve…
Ever under Your gaze
Here I will serve…
Ever singing Your praise.

Strong tower…high and glorious…
Strong tower…mighty in love
Our refuge…our defender…
Strong tower…Lord above.
Strong tower…high and glorious…
Strong tower…mighty in love
Our refuge…our defender…
Strong tower…Lord above.

Strong tower…Lord above.
Strong tower…Lord above.

©2004 Ariose Music/ASCAP, admin by EMI CMG Publishing/Soylent Tunes (SESAC)
CCLI License No. 1843349

Jesus Your Name

Chapman, Morris/Cloninger, Claire

Jesus, Your name is power.
Jesus, Your name is might.
Jesus, Your name will break ev’ry stronghold.
Jesus, Your name is life.

Jesus, Your name is healing.
Jesus, Your name gives sight.
Jesus, Your name will free ev’ry captive.
Jesus, Your name is life.

Jesus, Your name is holy.
Jesus, Your name brings light.
Jesus, Your name above ev’ry other.
Jesus, Your name is life.
Jesus, Your name is life.
Jesus, Your name is life.

©1990 Maranatha Praise, Inc./Word Music,Inc. (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)
CCLI License No. 1843349

OPENING PRAYER

Jesus, You are all we need. And because we know this to be true, we come. We come to gather, we come to sing, we come to pray, we come to listen, we come to offer ourselves and all that we are and all that we have. As a result of this, our worship, may the joy of the Lord truly be our strength. For we ask this, as always, in His precious name, amen.

THE GIVING OF THE LORD’S OFFERING

(see announcement above)

We give to God and His Kingdom because God first gave to us. As the scriptures have it: “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (I John 4:10). Since God gave His best, we give our best and take great joy in the fact that:

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 46:1-3, 10

PRAYER SONG

Still

Morgan, Reuben

Hide me now… under Your wings.
Cover me, within Your mighty hand.

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, You are King over the flood.
I will be still…know You are God.

Find rest my soul…in Christ alone.
Know His power…in quietness and trust.
When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, You are King over the flood.
I will be still…know You are God.

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm.
Father, You are King over the flood.
I will be still…know You are God.
I will be still…know You are God.
I will be still…know You are God.

©2002 Reuben Morgan, Hillsong Publishing
CCLI License No. 1843349

MORNING PRAYER

Alan Robbins

Dear Lord, our Heavenly Father.

As the song says:

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm
Father, You are the King over the flood
I will be still, knowing You are God

God, we know you are our strength and refuge us as we work thru the troubling times and experiences that we confront every day.

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 …and to give Joy 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 to our community and the world in which we live.

For these things we pray. Amen

SCRIPTURE

If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News. I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here. And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon.

Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need. I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill. And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you. Welcome him in the Lord’s love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.

Philippians 2:19-30

This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:1-4

THE MESSAGE

Randy K’Meyer

Joy in Adversity? Really?

Talk about a guy down on his luck, experiencing some adversity as he’s lost in the desert, desperately needing a drink . . . of anything. He comes upon a man riding a camel and asks for something to drink. The man said “No, but I have a nice selection of ties; would you like to buy one?”

“Are you crazy? I don’t need a tie, I need something to drink!”

The camel rider takes off while the other guy struggles until he finds a cantina. He gratefully approaches the doorman and says, “Can I come in and for a drink?”

The doorman frowns at him and says, “Not without a tie.”

Last week, we saw that the theme in Philippians chapter two is serving the Lord with joy in the midst of troubled times. Today I want to drill down on that theme a little by talking about joy in the midst of adversity and suffering.

It is an issue that lies behind Paul’s entire letter to the Philippians.

As for adversity Paul is facing, he has already mentioned in chapter one, “I am in chains because of Christ” (13) and some Christians “intend to make my chains more painful to me” (17). And in that weren’t enough, in both chapters one and two, he indicates his life is hanging in the balance. (1:21 and 2:17).

As it concerns the adversity the Philippians are facing, Paul writes, “Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies” (28) and more pointedly, “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ, but also the privilege of suffering for him” (29). And in verse 30, “we are in this struggle together.”

And then we have today’s text which speaks of Epaphroditus, who is one of Paul’s right-hand men and who was very ill, “in fact, he almost died.” (2:27).

So the people in the little church at Philippi and Paul knew what it was to struggle and suffer through various problems and difficulties. And yet we know Paul tells them over and over to rejoice in the midst of these adverse circumstances.

As we saw last week, Paul has much in common with James.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4

First, he is not implying that we should act happy when troubles come when in truth we feel like crying. Such thinking makes a mockery of who God created us to be, and it smacks too much of Christian phoniness. Even Jesus cried tears of sadness on several occasions.

Second, let’s notice James says, ‘Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way.’ It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ No matter how hard we have prayed to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, troubles will inevitably intrude into our lives.

Third, James says when adversity of any kind comes our way, we, that is you and I, who are Christ-followers, should “consider them an opportunity for great joy!” Why? Because adversity provides us with an opportunity for growth: “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:3).

Biologists talk of the ‘adversity principle’ at work in the world of plants and animals. As strange as it seems, habitual well-being is not advantageous to any species. For example, contrast a tree planted in a rain forest where it only has to extend its root system a few feet below the surface and therefore is poorly anchored and can be toppled by a minor windstorm with a mesquite tree growing in an arid land that must send its roots down 30 feet keeping it stable even when the fiercest winds blow.

Similarly, as we embrace tough times as an opportunity to grow rather than throwing in the Christian towel, we are better able to face future winds of adversity that will surely blow. And isn’t that something we all desire?

If so, we must begin by considering troubles as opportunity for joyful growth.

Let’s be honest; when troubles come, we don’t normally respond with, “Oh boy, how fortunate I am, for trouble has come my way today.” We usually respond with, “Woe is me.” Or even, “God, why are you putting the whammy on me?” In other words, when the winds of adversity begin to blow our natural tendency is to have a ‘pity party.’

On the other hand, former Baptist preacher and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee tells about a pastor in Florida who has ‘count-it-all-joy’ parties. When he faces a difficult situation, he calls friends and says, “I want you to come over to my house for a party.”

They say, “Oh, is it a birthday?” “No.”

“Uh, did you get a promotion?” they’d continue. “No,” he says.

“What’s the situation?” they finally ask.

“I’m going through this incredibly difficult crisis right now, and I’m having a count-it-all-joy party. We’re going to celebrate the difficulty, because I know that this difficulty is going to bring something of special value to my life. I don’t know what it is yet, but I want you to come and count it all joy with me.” 1

I think that’s a great idea! That’s a wonderful and creative way to apply Philippians and James 1 to our lives! To be sure, right now, you’ll have to be careful. Have to ask folks to mask up and remain apart, but it can be done.

Whether you actually have a ‘count-it-all-joy party’ or not, the point is when troubles come, and they always do, we have a choice to make: are we going to view the problem with disdain or embrace it as an opportunity to grow with regards to our faith?

William Barclay writes:

The Christian must expect to be jostled by trials on the Christian way. All kinds of experiences will come to us. There will be the test of sorrows and the disappointments that seek to take our faith away. There will be the test of seductions which seek to lure us from the right way. There will be the tests of the dangers, the sacrifices, the unpopularity which the Christian way so often involves. But they are not meant to make us fall; they are meant to make us soar. They are not meant to defeat us; they are meant to be defeated. They are not meant to make us weaker; they are meant to make us stronger. 2

Okay, I’m ready to view adversity as an opportunity to grow, what’s next?

And Paul shows the Philippians and us the way in the fourth chapter of this marvelous letter where he is talking about some of the hardships he has faced.

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (4:13)

Most of you have heard of Joni Eareckson Tada, the famous Christian author, radio show host, conference speaker. When Joni was 17, she dove into Chesapeake Bay and instantly broke her neck. She has been a life-long paraplegic and has been in a wheelchair ever since. In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. When it recurred in 2018, she wrote: “When I received the unexpected news of cancer from my oncological surgeon, I relaxed and smiled, knowing that my sovereign God loves me dearly and holds me tightly in His hands.”

She was once on a bathroom break at a conference when a woman remarked, “Joni, you always look so happy in your wheelchair. I wish that I had your joy!” Several women around her nodded, “How do you do it?”

“I don’t do it, in fact, may I tell you honestly how I woke up this morning? This is an average day, after my husband, Ken, leaves for work at 6:00, I’m alone until I hear the front door open at 7:00 A.M. That’s when a friend arrives to get me up. While I listen to her make coffee, I pray, ‘Oh, Lord, my friend will soon give me a bath, get me dressed, sit me up in my chair, brush my hair and teeth, and send me out the door. I don’t have the strength to face this routine one more day. I have no resources. I don’t have a smile to take into the day. But you do. May I have yours? God, I need you desperately.’”

“So, what happens when your friend comes through the bedroom door?”

“I turn my head toward her and give her a smile sent straight from heaven. It’s not mine. It’s God’s. Whatever joy you see today was hard-won this morning. I have learned that the weaker we are, the more we need to lean on God; and the more we lean on God, the stronger we discover him to be.” 3

“When the winds blow hard against us, You are steadfast, You are true,
When the ground beneath us trembles, Your foundation never moves.”

Christian author, Madeleine L’Engle, in her book, A Stone for a Pillow, writes,

I don’t envy those who have never known any pain, physical or spiritual, because I strongly suspect that the capacity for pain and the capacity for joy are equal. Only those who have suffered great pain are able to know equally great joy. 4

One of my favorite preachers and authors is Phillip Gulley.

In his book, Front Porch Tales, he tells about one of his growing up neighbors, a Doctor Gibbs,

who when he wasn’t saving lives was planting trees. Doc Gibbs came from the ‘no pain, no gain’ school of horticulture. He never watered his trees, said if you watered them, you spoiled them, that if you watered them, they would develop shallow roots, so he didn’t water his trees in order to weed out the weenie trees. Old Doc Gibbs would plant an oak and instead of watering it every morning, he’d beat it with a rolled-up newspaper.

Doc Gibbs went to glory a couple of years after I left home. Every now and again, I walk by his house and look at the trees that I’d watched him plant twenty-five years ago. They’re granite strong now. Big and robust. Those trees wake up in the morning and beat their chests and drink their coffee black.

I planted a couple trees a few years back. Carried water to them a solid summer. Sprayed them. Prayed over them. The whole nine yards. Two years of coddling has resulted in trees that expect to be waited on hand and foot. Whenever a cold wind blows in, they tremble and chatter their branches. Sissy trees. Funny things about those trees of Doctor Gibbs. Adversity and deprivation seem to have benefitted them in ways comfort and ease never could.

Every night before I go to bed, I go check on my two sons. I stand over them and watch their little bodies, the rising and falling of life within. I often pray for them. mostly I pray that their lives will be easy. “Lord, spare them from hardship.” But lately, I’ve been thinking that it’s time to change my prayer.

Has to do with the inevitability of cold winds that hit us at the core. I know my children are going to encounter hardship, and my praying that they won’t is naive. There’s always a cold wind blowing somewhere.

So I’m changing my eventide prayer. Because life is tough, whether we want it to be or not. Instead, I am going to pray that my sons’ roots grow deep, so they can draw strength from the hidden sources of the eternal God.” 5

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4

PRAYER

(I encourage all of you to pray as you feel led)

CLOSING SONG

How Firm a Foundation

Rippon, John

How firm a foundation, Ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not; I am with thee. O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, Omnipotent hand.

When through fiery trials, Thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

SCRIPTURAL BENEDICTION

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. Amen.

II Thessalonians 2:16-17

1 Mike Huckabee, Practice of Patience, Preaching Today, Tape No. 78. https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/may/4548.html

2 Williams Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series; the Letters of James and Peter, Revised Edition, [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, © 1975].
Pages 42-43.

3 Joy Hard Won, Decision (March 2000), p.12, used by permission
https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=joy&sourcename=Illustrations&order=newest&type=

4 Madeleine L’Engle, A Stone for a Pillow, Christianity Today,
Vol. 31, no. 3.
https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=joy&page=2

5 Phillip Gulley, Front Porch Tales, [Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Books, © 1997] Pages 17-19.

Randy K'Meyer

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