Romans 5:1-5 (NLT)
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
When life does not go as planned—forget that, let’s call it like it is—when life derails us with stresses and pressures, as humans we tend to want the Quick Fix. We want it over as quickly as possible and to get back to some form of “normal”.
I have before you THE QUICK FIX BOX! What’s in this box will fix anything and everything. If the problem you have cannot be fixed with what’s in here, then it simply cannot be fixed. And what’s in THE QUICK FIX BOX? For only 3 easy payments of $29.95 you can find out. But there’s more. I’ll reduce it to 2, that’s right 2 easy payments of $44.92. But wait, there’s more. For the first 100, because you know we can’t do this forever, I’ll double the offer—that’s 2 QUICK FIX BOXES for the price of one. Just pay a separate process and handling fee of $29.95. Here is what’s inside The Quick Fix Box—1 roll of duct tape, 1 pack of zip ties, and an assortment of bungee cords. Order yours today & mention the word QUICK and I’ll throw in free delivery to your doorstep!
Sometimes quick fixes work. It was 1986, I was serving near Haleyville. A friend in Cullman County asked me to come over and preach for a revival. It was Friday, the last day. I was going down Highway. 278 near the Cullman County Line. I was behind a slow driver and when I finally came to a straightaway, I pushed the accelerator to the floor to pass them. Suddenly it started misfiring and sputtering. The temperature gauge was moving the wrong direction and steam was starting to come out. I pulled over at an old country store, hoping they might have one of those flexible hoses I could buy that would fit. They didn’t. But in my toolbox, there was a roll of duct tape.
I taped the leak, added water, and did lot of praying. Stopped in Cullman at a parts place, purchased the correct hose and a gallon of coolant in case that night I didn’t make it home before my quick fix wouldn’t work in longer. Well, to make a long story short, I drove my truck for 3 more weeks before I decided to do the repair, and it still wasn’t leaking.
I tell this story because that while duct tape, zip ties and bungee cords may work as temporary, even long-term quick fixes—they do not work in the Spiritual Journey we take as followers of Jesus. And if you can remember only 1 things from today’s message, this is it: Life Is Not Easy, But It Is Good.
The temptation to follow the path of The Quick Fix always seems desirable. Isn’t the quick fix backed up by one of the most basic rules of geometry? The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. The quicker the fix, the better we think we will be—but we’re not. While we want the quick, God’s best teachings are rarely, if ever, found there.
In that Wilderness Time, Jesus understood that The Quick Fix is a temptation. The 3 Quick Fixes that Jesus faced were Physical: to satisfy His personal need of hunger rather than God’s mission for him—turning stones into bread; Emotional: use Sensationalism to win over the people’s hearts rather than challenging them; and Spiritual: Compromise the Truth to make it easier rather than calling people to the Life of Holiness. Jesus rejected all 3 Quick Fixes because He knew that none of them would really solve our most serious problems and our deepest needs.
Our most serious problem is sin—broken inside and alienated from God. Our deepest need is forgiveness and redemption. The problem and the need are met in one place—at the Cross of Jesus where His life was offered in our place. Our part is to have faith—to trust in the work of Grace on the Cross to make us right with God.
And as Paul says, this is great joy for us! I cannot understand people who say they have given their heart to Jesus, but their face and their voice looks and sounds like they have given their hearts to Satan. I’m not judging, I’m just looking at the fruit, OK? But I think most of us can agree it’s a moment of astonishing joy to invite Jesus into your heart. But…but what about all those moments afterwards?
What Debbie and I are facing doesn’t lend itself to much joy. Add to that what our family is dealing with concerning my Mother, there’s not much joy in it either. Truth is, there’s a lot of hurt and frustration that comes from being hurt and helpless. Yet there is this truth from Jesus, Himself in John 16:33—“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” “You will have” is in the indicative mood—the indicative mood means that it’s a matter of fact. Not maybe, not possibly, not even probably—trials and sorrows, the pressures of life—they are going to happen.
When they come—and they will come—your natural tendency is to look for the Quick Fix. The desire of the mind and heart is to get out of it as quickly as possible. But this desire to give into the temptation of The Quick Fix does not solve the problem—it postpones the inevitable—and the inevitable always comes back with a vengeance and the real problem becomes much bigger.
So how should we handle the pressures, the trials, the sorrows that happen to all of us? Well, long before Nick Saban developed and polished “his process”, God already had His Process in place. Give up The Quick Fix for something far better—the process of The Holy Spirit living in you. Here’s step 1:
Vs. 3—We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
Sept. 4, 1987 is a splendid example of endurance. Henry Dempsey and his co-pilot Paul Boucher for Eastern Express were flying a small commuter plane from Lewiston, Maine to Boston, Mass. Not long after takeoff they heard a rattling sound from the back of the 15-passenger plane. Henry handed off the controls to his co-pilot when he investigated the noise. As Henry reached the rear of the plane they encountered turbulence and Henry fell against the rear door, which wasn’t closed properly. Immediately it opened, and Henry was sucked out of that door but managed to hold on to the stairs. Co-pilot Paul saw the indicator warning of an open door and immediately declared an emergency and landed at Portland, Maine. He also notified the coast guard that the pilot had fallen from the plane and they started a search and rescue. 10 minutes later to everyone’s amazement, Henry was still holding on, half inside the plane and half outside, upside down. His head was only 12 inches from the runway. Henry managed to hold on in spite of 190 mph speed with only minor injuries. Rumor has it that it took ground crew about 10 minutes to pry Henry’s hands off that ladder. That’s endurance—the ability to hang-on when it would have been easier to give up. Here are some guides to help develop endurance.
- Accept The Unchangeable. In real life, sometimes airplane doors aren’t closed good; unfair things happen; problems arise. Think about a pearl. Pearls happen as the result of the irritation from a grain of sand. The oyster begins the process to produce that pearl, all from an irritation.
- Adjust To Obstacles. Plans inevitably will change. Think of it like this story. A young naval officer took his first command, it was a destroyer. One night he saw a light and sent out a radio command, “Alter your course 10 degrees.” He heard the reply, “You alter your course 10 degrees.” The young commander was irate and said, “This is a destroyer and I am a Navy Commander.” He heard the reply, “This is a lighthouse and I’m the lighthouse keeper.” Don’t let the changes in your plans blind you to lessons you need to learn. Detours are full of surprises of God’s grace.
- Abide With Patience. The late Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, once said, “I am extraordinarily patient provided I get my own way in the end.” Abiding is living in your connection to God. You’re not alone in those difficult moments. Learn to lean and rest on The Father. He will sustain you through anything you are facing.
- Affirm The Presence. God is always with you. He is guiding you, sometimes teaching you, sometimes empowering you, always encouraging you. It’s the world that tells you to give up—never God! No matter how much pressure is on you. The Grace that puts us right with God, is still present in the pressures, problems and trials we face.
Vs. 4a—And endurance develops strength of character
God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort. He is more concerned with your holiness than He is with your happiness. He is more concerned with you as a person than He is with your possessions. God is getting you ready for your inheritance. Your possessions will not go with you–but your character—and your holiness—who you are as a person will go on. And if you are a Christian—you will live in God’s Kingdom–forever and ever amen! There are 5 key qualities that God looks for in your Character:
- Compassion. Compassion is more than an emotion; it’s love in action. 1 John 3:18—“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” You can have success everywhere else in your life, but when you fail to show compassion you’re a failure in God’s eyes.
- Consistency. God is looking for consistency over conformity. Proverbs 10:9—“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Character is built over the long haul—consistently reflecting the life of Jesus.
- Cooperation. It’s all about recognizing your place in the bigger picture of The Kingdom. Philippians 2:3—“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” God is more concerned about how well you work with others than what you do on your own.
- Commitment. Jesus doesn’t care for a Sunday afternoon stroll in the garden. Luke 9:23—“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Jesus didn’t like fans when He walked creation in human form and He hasn’t changed His mind. You must commit whatever circumstances or situations you face.
- Courage. Courage is fear under control. 1 Corinthians 15:58—“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” God is looking for people who are willing to stand up for the Kingdom of God over everything else.
Character is developed and revealed in all 5 traits. Not 3 out of 5, or 4 out of 5. This is the Character God wants from His people. Step 3:
Vs. 4b—character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Ephesians 3:20—“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Expand Your Expectations! The word expand means to enlarge or spread out. The word expectation means eager anticipation. When you expand your expectations, you are enlarging your anticipation.
The more you anticipate the movement of God and His Holy Spirit, the more you will do, even in the face of demanding times and disappointments. Expand your expectations of yourself. Expand your expectations of this church. Expand your expectations of who God can use. Expand your expectations of the ways God will move. Then and only then will you see God move in ways well beyond what you think. Step 4.
Vs. 5—And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
If you desire your love for God to grow, then spend time—a lot of time focusing on how much God loves you. 1 John 4:10—“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” It’s not God loving the good and lovable people. It’s about God loving the bad and unlovable—and that’s you and me! The Quick Fix circumvents opportunities to experience how much God loves us. You can trust that God’s love is good because HE is good. Whatever pressures life brings your way, know that God’s love will bring you through it.
The Gospel is not about us having enough or doing enough to appease God. The gospel is about what we have received from God in Christ to live in a way that pleases him.
Quick fixes lead to counterfeit Christianity–where “formalities” replace the integrity of faithful living. Faith does not count what it will cost or the rewards they might receive, but serves God willingly and joyfully, then trusts God with the outcomes.
The gospel is about what we have received from God in Christ, and it’s then about the sometimes slow, but sure ways that God teaches us to live in a way that pleases him. And this is the only way to find peace in the middle of pressures and problems.