Pastor Vince gave us encouragement today about the trials and stresses of life. He noted that no matter how rough day to day existence may seem, there is a bigger plan. That plan is an encouragement from God.
Paul wrote in Philippians 2: 1-4:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Christ’s love and compassion for us is such an encouragement. It is also a model of how we in turn are to be encouragements in our valuing of others.
Yes, but how does looking beyond myself to serve others make me any better equipped to deal with life? Philippians continues with both Jesus’ example and the answer:
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (vs 5-8).”
Jesus who was in the beginning with God, and who was God (John 1), gave it up to lift us from our sins, and our existence in the mire. There is our first encouragement – someone cared about us in our debased state. He loved us enough to die to lift us from it.
But in Jesus’ humbling came an exultation. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (vs 9-11).”
Jesus has gone to sit at the right hand of the Father. There He is above every other name, and every knee will bow to Him. Yes, He became a mere man. Yes, He was despised and rejected. Yes, He was crucified, died, and was buried. But He rose again to a life at the right hand of God. That is our second encouragement. The troubles of life are not the end! There is more however.
Ephesians 2: 1-10 tells us we too are to be raised and glorified:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
No matter what our trials here. No matter how far we have fallen. We will be lifted up. Jesus has returned to His seat at the right hand of the Father, But we too have reserved seats being “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
When we suffer setbacks (none which even come close to the trials of Holy Week), we should praise God regardless, for we are lifted. As Pastor Vince put it, “There is a man in heaven.” Jesus is already there seated on His throne. Other men will join Him. The seating plan is made and our seats are reserved.