Sermon Series, Olympic Fever, and Suffering

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For the next six Sundays that remain through Labor Day weekend I feel strongly led of God to preach from biblical texts on suffering for the cause of Christ. Let me tell you how this theme has pressed itself on me.

I have not been able to shake this as a word from God for us at this time. There are several factors.

  1. Last spring Richard Wurmbrand riveted me with his testimony of suffering for Christ in prison for 14 years. It still rings in my ears.
  2. Since then I have seen this in the Scriptures everywhere I turn, like a woman sees a lot of other big bellies when she is pregnant.
  3. I believe God led me to start reading a book entitled The Men of the Covenant about the Presbyterian Covenanters in Scotland in the 1600’s. Oh, how they suffered for their Christian faith.
  4. In May, as I was writing the new book on missions, I was caught up in the theme of suffering as the price we will have to pay to finish the great commission. It became a major chapter.
  5. Moreover, as I look at the condition of the world, I see conflict and persecution that already results in hundreds of thousands of deaths for Christians.
  6. And I see increasing hostilities at home which will take its toll on the church, and will put to the test our faith and show who is willing to be “persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”

In view of all these things, I feel this is the time to lay my burden down on this weighty topic of suffering for Christ.

But this series will not be gloomy or discouraging. That is not the way the New Testament deals with suffering. Every text will have joy in it as well as suffering. Again and again I find that the happiest people are those who have suffered most for Christ.

The first two messages give the biblical response to Olympic fever. They relate to suffering because no one wins gold in the Olympics without voluntary suffering. The next four messages correspond to four purposes of suffering in the lives of believers: a moral effect (holiness and hope), an intimacy effect (as we gain more of Christ in fellowship with him), a missions effect (as we risk whatever it takes to extend the sufferings of Christ to others), and a glory effect (as we increase our capacity for bearing the weight of glory in the age to come).

August 2 - "Olympic Spirituality, Part 1: Beyond the Gold"
1 Corinthians 9:19-27

August 9 - "Olympic Spirituality, Part 2: How Then Shall We Run?"
1 Corinthians 9:19-27

August 16 - "Called to Suffer and Rejoice: For Holiness and Hope"
Romans 5:1-8

August 23 - "Called to Suffer and Rejoice: That We Might Gain Christ"
Philippians 3:1-14

August 30 - "Called to Suffer and Rejoice: To Finish the Aim of Christ’s Afflictions"
Colossians 1:24-29

September 6 – "Called to Suffer and Rejoice: For an Eternal Weight of Glory"
2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Preparing for whatever it costs to serve Him,

Pastor John