Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of July 19, 2020

Link to Worship Video for 7/19/20 – HERE
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Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 7/19/20 – HERE
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"Grown as We Groan" - Romans 8:18-27

You walk through a darkened hallway and come to a door at the end, you turn the knob, slowly open the door and step through.  You find yourself on a stage, in front of a large audience,  the lights are bright, the crowd grows silent and everyone is looking at you.  Is this nightmare, or a challenge?

It has been said that one of the most nerve-wracking things to do is speak in public.  It is the rare individual that will willingly stand up in front of a large group to communicate.  Gratefully it does not bother me too much, but I do have the occasional nightmare of standing in front of a congregation with nothing to say. 

If speaking to an audience gives you the chills, how about speaking to an audience of one? 
·         Is it easier?
·         Does the topic matter? 
·         Does it change if the subject matter is politics? 
·         What about faith?
·         Does it change if that audience is God?

A nightmare or a challenge? 
Intriguing or debilitating?

Let’s face it, talking to the creator of the cosmos, the almighty, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God should fill you with a healthy dose of awe and trepidation. But in His Word, we are called to do it.  Jesus’ disciples wanted to know how to do this was well so He told them, “…when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father” (Matthew 6:6)  Sounds easy enough, right? Now, what do you say?  After those words, Jesus gave his followers the words we know as the Lord’s prayer.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great prayer, but if you are like me, you are at a loss of what may come next.  “Now I lay me down to sleep??…Come Lord Jesus, be our guest???…”

This summer we continue looking at Paul’s letter to the Romans.  As we ponder it, consider it’s message and roll it over in our minds I hope it has become sweet to you.  Today we find ourselves in Chapter 8 again and in this section the Apostle Paul has our back.  He writes, “At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. 27 The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.” (Romans 8:26-27)

Our text begins, “At the same time…” and to understand the context we need to ask, “At the same time as what?”  We have to go back to verses 22 & 23 were Paul writes, “We know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time.  However, not only creation groans. We, who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts, also groan inwardly.” 

We groan all the time don’t we? 
·                     We groan when the alarm clock goes off on Sunday morning. 
·                     We groan when we see the brake lights on the commute to work. 
·                     We groan when people let us down. 
·                     We groan when things don’t go our way.
·                     We groan at having to wear a mask or at others who aren’t.
·                     We groan at comments and posts on Social Media.
·                     We groan at decisions made by elected leaders. 
·                     We groan, and complain, and lament at just about everything.   

Groaning is something humans have been doing since the fall.  There have been groans in the delivery room and the boardroom.  Groans have been heard from sandy shore to the trading floor. We groan at the test scores and the box scores.  We groan about the things of the past and what the future might hold.    All of creation groans.  But God hears the groans of His people. Peter writes in his letter, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) 

What do you groan about? (Take a moment and ponder)

You are in good company.  God has heard the groans of his people for generations. 

As God’s servant Moses was walking in the desert working for his father-in-law, hiding from his family in Egypt, the Lord came to him and asks him to go to Pharaoh and speak.  Almost at once we hear the groans of Moses, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me?  What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’? O Lord I am not very good with words…I get tongue tied and my words get tangled…Lord, please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:1)  It was not long before the people the Lord sent Moses to were the ones groaning.  “Moses, did you bring us out into this desert to die?  It was better back in Egypt where we had three squares and a place to sleep.” But God hears the groans of the people.  You know the story…the story of redemption in the desert.

It was groans of another kind, begun in a garden, amplified on the cross that were also heard by the Lord.  As Jesus, groaned under the weight of our sins, his groans served to bring creation back.  On the cross we see a picture of a God who hears the groans of His people.  It was creation that groaned in the sound of an earthquake three days later that announced an end to all groaning, and the beginning of new life for all who believe in Him.  In the groans of Jesus, we see the defeat of sin, death, and groaning forever.  In the groans of Jesus your sins are forgiven, you have been made new, your groaning’s have been heard and answered and there is nothing to fear.

So, back to our bedroom prayers…in this life we are still subject to sin, our weakness is evident.  Just go back a little bit in the book of Romans for a reminder.   All too often we are at a loss for words but Paul writes, “At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26)

Paul realizes that we are not capable to pray for what we need.  We have been crippled by sin, but in our weakness, the Spirit, sent from the Lord groans our requests to God. When life is overwhelming, when you don’t know what to say, when all you can do is groan, the Spirit groans for you.We have a God who hears the groans of His people.   Help in prayer is a service that the Holy Spirit renders to all Christians. 

That does not release us from God’s command and encouragement to pray, but it does cover us for when we do it poorly or too little.  And unlike our bumbling prayers, the Holy Spirit’s prayers for us are always on target.  I know it can be hard.  When all you feel like doing is complaining and groaning, when the world seems to be unfair or sin seems to be so strong, I ask you to groan.   Even in your weakness, the Spirit helps, groans, and intercedes for you!

And in our groans we are grown.  As we groan in prayer, We grow in faith.  We grow in our trust of God’s will for us.  We grow as we share our faith, as we go to Him in prayer, as we hear his word, as we come to his table as we serve our neighbor

In our groans, we are grown.  We are grown into the people God has called us to be, not living in fear, but loving one another with the love that has been shown to us in Christ.

As we close allow me to give you a few things to ponder and to meditate upon on this week.

First, if all you feel like doing is groaning, I invite you to Go into your room, close the doors, and groan away.  As you groan know that you are being grown into the person God wants you to be.  And he has invited you to groan.  It is not a nightmare, but a challenge that he has set before us and in this process we can share the love of God. 

Second, make a list of those people and situations you want to bring to God in prayer.  When you groan in prayer look over the list and know that God will hear your groaning. 

And third, when your present sufferings get you down, stand with Paul and confess, “I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us.”  (Romans 8:18) 
-- Pastor Seth Moorman

Worship Resources for Sunday, July 26th     
will be up on Bethany’s website by midday Saturday, July 25th!


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