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The Ultimate Gift: Problems A Sermon by Pastor R. D. Johnson Preached at the Ann Arbor, MI Free Methodist Church Scripture Text: Hebrews 5:7-9 January 17, 2010 Sermon #0187 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. – Hebrews 5:7 He was heard because of His reverence. But He wasn’t saved from death…. And neither were thousands of Haitians this week… If prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears aren’t enough to save us from death, then what does it mean to ‘be heard’? Turn to Hebrews 5. Today we are looking at the gift of problems, and what happened in Haiti this week really puts my problems in perspective. Looking at Hebrews 5:7-9 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, - Hebrews 5:7-9 Have you ever thought about your problems and sufferings being a blessing from God? “The Gift of Problems” 25:03 - 31:20 (6:17) ‘Well you don’t begin to live until you’ve lost everything’ ‘There wasn’t a single person… who didn’t have something to gain from your death’ His mother was more concerned with herself than her son. ‘I would love to help you, but I can’t’ ‘They told me specifically… I was not to give you anything’ ‘If I violate their instructions I am out everything, everything.” ‘for the sake of the greater good I must insist that you leave.’ ‘I’m not going to upset the apple cart…’ Sin brought problems, so how can we say it is a gift from God? In trouble, we learn… Christianity is a life of problems! If you don’t do what the world says, it will cut you off! But who are you more concerned with? Yourself? Of God’s Children still lost out there on the streets? This morning I brought something for each of you. The symbol for the Gift of Problems is a puzzle piece. It represents the Fact that each problem we have to deal with in life is a piece of what we will become. God is putting together a puzzle called your life. That puzzle will have several pieces that represent wonderful things in your life, but most will likely be struggles you’ve had, hardships you’ve faced, obstacles you’ve overcome. That one piece of the puzzle may look like a mess, but if you could only see the finished picture. God sees it and assures us it is beautiful! Keep this piece to remind you that everything that you go through, however hard, however messed up it may seem, God works all things together to good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. There is another reason you all received a puzzle piece today. God is building His church, and each of you is a part of it. Funny thing about puzzles: I put this one together this weekend So many pieces look the same. Some, I found, even fit into the wrong place. Each is meant for a specific spot Each of you fits into a specific place in the body of Christ, a specific place here Whatever a person looks like, dresses like, acts like, God wants them in this puzzle! Here’s the deal. It’s a pain to do. It takes forever to complete (ask Melissa, I spent maybe 10 hours). But when that last piece goes in, it’s a thing of beauty. Our primary purpose here, whatever cost it takes, whatever problems it brings, is to bring people to Jesus, to find them their place in the puzzle. We are the beginning of this puzzle at this church. Each of you have a piece that is duplicated on this board. Each time someone new visits, begins attending, or anyone we know gets saved (whether here or elsewhere) we will give them a piece and place its double into this picture. As we work on this puzzle the picture it paints will become clearer. Then when the last piece is placed we will celebrate like this church has never celebrated before. We begin with about 30 pieces, we need 550 to complete it. It will be a lot of work, a lot of frustration, a lot of trouble, and perhaps a lot of time. But as this puzzle is displayed at the church every week, we will see that each piece represents a person who we have introduced to God, or someone who has received God’s grace. It will be a continual reminder of our purpose and a goal worth struggling to achieve. Let me tell you why this goal is so important, more than simply building a puzzle. Thousands of people were lost on Sept. 11 2001, thousands of people have died this week in Haiti. How many of those are gone and can never be part of God’s puzzle?
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