Never elevate suffering above who Christ is in our lives. Be occupied with what God has done. World is built on performance based system. Think of what you have in Christ. Esteem the riches of Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-4)

Speaker(s): Pastor Bob Colban
Sermon # 11563
6:30 PM on 10/21/2018



P. Bob Colban

Good evening. I was going to have all of you stand and tell a Scott Markush story but that would take forever. I was thinking as P. Gary was speaking, we go on outreach to Monument Street. At least 2 or 3 times a year we meet people and when they hear we are from Greater Grace, they say Scott Markush used to come to my house and do Bible studies and youth activities. His legacy in the city of Baltimore is amazing. Just before he left, he came on outreach with us. I’m thinking this will be interesting because he had difficulties in walking. Where we go there are a lot of commercial stores. They have the big metal screens. He was banging off screen after screen. He could have said I can’t do this anymore but he never let his illness stop him from going soul winning. He found a spot and handed out tracts. He never stopped winning souls. In the VA facility, he had the same heart.

Tonight for the message, Paul is writing in 2 Cor 11:23 and he kind of boasts a little bit. There is a reason behind it. He talks about his suffering for the gospel sake.

He says in vs. 23-28, 33. You read this and we think of Paul’s life and many other saints of God. We say this is crazy what he suffered for the gospel sake. He had quite a resume as far as suffering goes. How do you get someone to sign up for this job Paul has? Is this a job ad you put in the paper? Someone who doesn’t mind suffering and getting beaten and whipped and run out of town?

We have this Christian history book in our house. 365 stories of Christians and what happened on this day in church history. I read it every few days. They go back to these times until the 19th century. It’s amazing to read these stories of Christians serving God. In 1964, this doctor was a Christian and went on a medical missionary trip to the Belgium Congo in Africa. He had a hospital helping people and was sharing the gospel and rebels came and took over. His wife and kids got out but he got shot and killed. Of the 365 stories in this book, about 250 of them are stories like this. People on the mission field in decades ago for some reason they were shot or stabbed or speared or killed. Some persecuted, burned at the stake. One guy hung upside down with 100 pound weight, put on the racks and stretched. It’s incredible what has happened to Christians through the ages. Someone handed me when I was a young believer Foxes Book of Martyrs. I would recommend if you know a young believer, it’s not a book to hand them! I read the first chapter and wanted nothing to do with Christianity. We say God, I don’t understand this. Was it David Brainerd who lost his wife and second wife? These people are serving you God. Don’t they deserve better? Ever thought that? They dedicated their life.

My wife and I went on the mission field to southern France and we say is this really the mission field? We fly, get off a plane and an apartment is waiting for us. In the old days, they got on a boat and took 6 months to get there if they got there. A child dies on the way or they have no fruit and they end up burying their family there. God, these are your servants. How can this happen? Why does this happen to them? We know about spiritual warfare and we have an adversary. Men love darkness and when light comes, they flee or attack it. We also say God you are all powerful. You could have kept this person’s wife alive on the mission field.

These are questions we have today. We are talking about these stories but we have these same questions in our own lives. We see people and have these kinds of thoughts come into our mind. I was thinking of Scott Markush today. He’s a great example of this. We just heard testimonies of the impact of his life in Baltimore and the VA facility. We could say God, why did you afflict him? This was a guy going 110 miles an hour for God. We can’t reconcile why he gets sick because he’s such a servant.

A guy wrote a book and was on Ravi’s staff, Nabeel. He wrote Seeking Allah Finding Jesus. He was articulate, a doctor from a Pakistani family. He loved the Muslim faith but at some point he realized Christ was the answer. He was articulate in expressing his views. He was sharp and a great ambassador for the gospel especially to the Muslims. He had cancer and a year or two later, he died.

I don’t understand this you say to yourself. Why would that happen? I don’t know why. I don’t necessarily have the answers for why people suffer. The genesis of this thought was a lot of times we get into this thought process where we say I’m serving you. Why don’t things go better? I’m getting ready for the mission field and something happens. You sign up for Bible school and your finances fall apart. We have this idea we deserve something from God because of our service. Or we think someone like Scotty deserved better. God, we don’t understand these things. Suffering we don’t understand. Job gave us some insight into what goes on in heaven. We can’t say everyone’s life is like the book of Job. We have these questions and they are legitimate questions. Especially about our own lives. Where do these thoughts come from that we deserve something from God? What do we really deserve? We deserve nothing. In Romans it says the wages of sin is death. We say God I deserve better. Do you really want what you deserve? How did we get to this point where we think God is obligated to bless us? He has done everything for us. When we get into this mindset and it happens. I’m guilty of this and we all are. Maybe you have suffered and have an affliction you have been dealing with for years. It does evoke many questions. God would say to us isn’t it enough what I have done for you? Hasn’t God done enough for us? He has taken us and he has done something amazing in our lives. What we deserve because of the life we live and the life he’s given us, we don’t deserve anything from God.

Eph 2:1 these verses speak of who we were. We were dead in our trespasses and sins.

vs. 2-3. This is who we were. In the midst of this, God commended his love towards us. This was our lifestyle. As we go along in our Christian life, the more distance we are from our past. That’s a good thing. We can start to think we are good people and forget where we came from and how God reached down and pulled us out of the pit. Every one of us was on the way to hell. We were like it is described here. That’s who we were. We were walked according to the prince of the power of the air, children of disobedience. We were enemies of God.

In the midst of that, God reached down and it says in Romans 5 he commended his love towards us. Christ died for us while we were living in this position. Pulled us out and translated us.

Col 1 says we lived in the power of darkness but he translated or transferred us from one place to another. This is the reality of our life. We can talk about who we are now versus who we were. We have suffered and we do. God forbid. It’s not something we desire. We say God, I’ve been serving you 30 or 40 years. Don’t I deserve something better? You come home from the mission field at 50 or 60 years old and now you are counting your pennies. What would he say? Is it enough what I done for you? Don’t look at what we don’t have. Look at what we have. There is something we are missing and we might say God I wish I had that. You really do have everything but it’s over here. We concentrate on what we lack and God says look at what you have. Isn’t it enough what I have given you? All these things happen to me but I count it as nothing Paul said. All I think of is the excellency of the knowledge of knowing Christ. How could Paul go through all of this? One stripe and I’m out of here!

We were on outreach about a year ago on Monument Street and P. Dan was with us. This guy came by yelling and said you better not be here in 15 minutes when I get back. I’m thinking to myself, I won’t be here! P. Dan says we will be here. We will be waiting for you. I won’t be here! I think he stayed after we left waiting for that guy to come back. That was enough for me!

You read Paul’s testimony and you say how did Paul endure this? He endured as seeing him who is invisible. How did these people endure? Many of you are in that situation. How do you endure this what we may perceive as an injustice? Why did Scotty suffer? He never elevated the suffering above who Christ is. Paul never elevated these things above who Christ is. He knew he was this guy persecuting the church, calling himself the least of the least. Knowing where he came from and realizing what God had given him. That’s what he looked at, not what he didn’t have. Permanent disfigurement maybe. Scars on his back. That wasn’t what he was occupied with but what God had done for him and the life he had with God. You have pulled me out of here and that’s enough for me. I’m going to focus on that and not these things. That’s how he got through. The world system is like this deserving attitude. The world system says if do a good job, you get rewarded. If not so good a job, you don’t get rewarded. This performance based system we live in. Society is orchestrated that way especially in the western world. You deserve something based on performance. Most religions are built on that same system. It’s so easy to take that mindset into our Christianity.

I remember someone said they were here many years and said we did everything right. We gave, we tithed, we went to Bible school, had our kids in GGCA and came to 3 services and all these things and now we should be here as far as finances and different things and why hasn’t God blessed us the way we think he should? We did all of the things right.

Understand what I’m saying? We work the program and we think because we did all these things right, God is obligated to do this for us. That doesn’t come from the Bible. We see that attitude in Job’s friends. You are suffering because you did evil. If you did right, you would be blessed but that was dispelled in the book of Job. We can think God is obligated to do something because of our service to him. We are unprofitable servants. My mercy says I won’t give you want you deserve. I’ll give you grace. I found this the other day. Probably you have in your notes 95 things God provides for the believer at the point of salvation. I read five or six of them. And this is incredible. We could read these 95 things and God could say is that enough. Do I have to do 110 or 130? There are probably another 100 we don’t know of. I did all of this freely for you. When you said yes, all these things became your possession. We are seated above.

Eph 2:4-10. Everything we have done to serve God is only because we are his workmanship. He has made us able to serve him. This is four verses talking about being seated above. This is who we are in Christ. That we are saved and he’s given us this amazing gift, this life we have that we don’t deserve and could never earn or be worthy of. He has given it to us freely. He says is that enough? God, could you do something for my bank account? Isn’t it enough I died on the cross for you? Is that enough to sustain you? I’m not downplaying illness or any financial situation.

Compare this situation we have with not somebody else but compared to what you have in Christ. This situation will seem manageable. If I have to endure this another 5 or 10 years or the rest of my life. Scotty never got healed while he was here. He never let that stop him. He fixed his eyes on Christ and what he had done for him and took his eyes off his disability and finished the race strongly. He didn’t limp to the finish line. He ran to the finish line. He kept his eyes fixed on the finish line and not his needs or wants.

There were moments of course where we say, why, God? We don’t always get an answer. The answer maybe God gives is keep your eyes fixed on me. Keep your eyes fixed on the prize. These things will not be big issues in your life. I will give you grace to deal with those.

This is an amazing life we have. No one of us have suffered like Foxes Book of Martyrs. Even as we read of the Apostle John, tradition has it he was boiled in oil and they couldn’t kill him. And Peter was crucified upside down. They endured by seeing him who is invisible esteeming the riches of Christ greater than anything they could have in this world. That’s how they finished strong. They kept their eyes fixed on the prize and not on their lack.

I hope that’s encouraging to us.


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