Keep your eyes on glory – your pain is doing something

Over the past 4-5 weeks we’ve talked about your heart and how important it is.  We’ve talked about the habitat of the heart and how it has been taken away from us – the woods have continued to narrow in with civilization all around it and your heart has nowhere to run.  We’ve talked about your heart being the wellspring of life and about The Zoe – the drawing upon the Life of God and just how important it was for your soul and heart to daily draw upon the Life of God.

And then we tackled “who told you that you were naked?” – those voices that come against us telling us we’re “not enough” or “less than”.  And then we visited shame and the power of shame over our lives – that self-loathing and self-hatred are two of the most common reasons we reject God i.e. “I am so ashamed of my past sin, there is no way God wants any part of me”.  Mercifully, we were reminded of Psalm 103 “For as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  They’re gone.  He’s forgiven them and yet we continue to carry the shame and the enemy uses it to whisper “you’re not worthy”.  And last week, as an act of defiance to shame, we had a ceremony where you could stand and let go of your shame and nearly every man in the room stood.  They gave it up, let it go and freedom was experienced.  Just standing up had the power to give men breakthrough and we’ve encouraged you to share these things with your small groups because when you speak this stuff out, when you testify, the power only accelerates to defeat it.  By speaking it out, you are pulling it out of the dark places of your soul and bringing it into the light.  Evil thrives in darkness.  Evil cannot withstand the light.

We’ve done all of this … in just 4-5 weeks.  Whew!  That’s a ton.  It’s weighty.  There is much to digest.  So this week, we paused.  I want to encourage you to keep pushing into this.  Freedom is there for you if you will push into it and bring it into the light.  I am hearing amazing stories already of men shedding thirty years of shame.  To God be the glory.

We showed this talk from John Piper on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  In reality it is 4:1-18 but the meat is 16-18.  Chapter 4 starts with the word “therefore” and therefore is the point of this scripture.  Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary, light affliction is preparing us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

The whole talk is powerful but if you fast forward to the 45 minute mark and watch it to the end, you’ll get the point … powerfully.  The reason we showed this talk TODAY is that on the heels of all that we’ve covered – the heart, naked, shame, etc. – is so you can hear his powerful call to keep your eyes on eternity.  Your pain is preparing you (producing in you) an eternal weight of glory.  God is shaping you for the Kingdom.  If you focus on the pain of this life and the horrors of the news, you will lose heart.  If you keep your eyes focused on eternity, you won’t.  Frankly, this is the only way to be a husband.  To put her needs ahead of mine.  Christ died for me, I will die for her.

Paul suffered constant persecution for 20-30-40 years.  Beaten.  Shipwrecked.  Persecuted.  Beheaded.  And he called all that “this light, momentary affliction”.  Because…he was drawing upon the Life of God daily and keeping his eyes focused on eternity.

Your pain is equipping you, preparing you.  You cannot see it in the moment.  None of us can.  But God is working.  We closed with a quick summary of Clemson football coach, Dabo Swinney.  As a kid, his parents fought all the time.  His Dad’s business failed and he became an abusive, alcoholic.  Fights, throwing things at each other, screaming, Police coming to the house … it was more than any 11-year old kid could handle.  He’d crawl out his bedroom window at night and sit on his roof to cry wishing all this would end.  But God was shaping young Dabo.  God had a far larger purpose for Dabo as an adult and into his role in the Kingdom.  Now he can look a young man in the eye who just wants to quit because his life has been so tough, so unfair and he can say, “oh no, don’t tell me about unfair.  I’ve lived that.  You can overcome.”  He is in an incredible position to touch so many young people and change the course of their life.  He couldn’t see “Why” the pain came his way back then, but he can see it now.

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