Monday, September 21, 2009

Light Afflictions

2 Corinthians. 4:13-18 M.Kelly
"Light Afflictions"

Paul compares our afflictions in this life to what awaits us in glory. In comparison, our afflictions are light in everyway.

Paul was stoned and left for dead. He was whipped 5 different times with 40 lashes. He knows what he is talking about when he talks about afflictions.

Faith looks to heavenly things not temporal things.

Paul writes to Christians. Only Christians can have afflictions that are light and momentary (in comparison to what we look forward in the future).

10 Lessons

1. We have unreal expectations.

a. We expect too much of this life

b. We do not esteem the glory that is to come with Christ high enough.

We often look to a world that can not satisfy for our satisfaction. These two mistakes help us along in a bad way to our disappointments and sorrows. They make us disillusioned and dissatisfied. They make us bitter. Our difficulties become increased with unreal expectations. We look for great things in a world of vanity. We expect a life of ease in a world of trouble. Job said that man is born for trouble as the sparks fly upward. To look for lasting happiness in something that is temporary is irrational. It causes us to lose heart.
Afflictions are a real part of the Christian experience. Be those who live in the real world.

John 16 in the world you have of good courage He has overcome the world.

2. Afflictions are light.
They point to a comparison. When we find ourselves in affliction we are to look to the comparison...v. 17. View your affliction from the perspective of eternity. When you see them in light of eternity then they seem light. They are light in and of themselves. They are grievous and painful if we skip the comparison. They are only seen as light when viewed in light of the glory that awaits us in Christ Jesus. View them in light of eternity. We view our afflictions from the view point of losing our comfort. We loose heart when we view them from the point of view of it messing with our comfort. What we often miss in our afflictions is this comparison. In this way only will they seem light. Compare them with the eternal weight of glory to come.

3. Our afflictions are not only light but they are also brief.
V. 17 says they are for a moment. Paul has the balance out. He is weighing glory with our afflictions. Our afflictions are brief compared to eternity. Acts 16 Paul and Silas in prison singing. He was adept at applying the truth of this comparison. Even if our afflictions last our entire life, our life is short, is it not? You are just a vapor that vanishes away. Life is short and you better view it in light of eternity. Many of our afflictions have passed quickly in comparison to the length of our life time. We need to be reminded over and over again of this Biblical perspective.

4. We must look to spiritual benefits in our afflictions rather than the lose of outward comforts.
Momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight in glory. It produces endurance, hope, patience etc. We must be those who view afflictions as the vehicle that makes us grow in our spiritual life. We are often our own worse enemies in our afflictions because we don't view them properly. We get bitter because we expected things to be smoother. We expected to be in a different place by now. What does this tell us about how in control we are of our lives? God is in control. What is God showing us about ourselves, his promises, our place in this world, our pride, control issues etc. When afflictions come get busy and look for what God is showing you. You must look in His Word, the Bible, the truth for the answers. We point the finger at the Children of Israel for their complaining and dullness. We are ten times duller than they because we have their example and completed Scripture besides!

5. We are dying.
v. 16 Our outward man is decaying and our inner man is being renewed day by day. "Day by day" applies to both the outer and the inner man. Our culture worships beauty and youth but it is decaying. Our world markets beauty as if it is the most important thing. We all age at the same rate as everyone else...minute by minute, day by day, year by year. We see it in the mirror. We feel it in our bodies. We realize it in our memories that are failing. Our decaying doesn't end there. It is to point us to what matters...the truth of God's word and the judgment that awaits all men. All people's business is eternal business. Where will you spend eternity? Are you busy about what will have an eternal effect? The Psalmist says Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. We need to live with our dying day in view. Not to be morbid but that we might be living for the day to come...eternity.

6. Growing in godliness is a daily reality.
Our inner man is being renewed day by day. Growth in godliness takes day by day growth. When dealing with hope, there is no hope in anything but God and eternity. The Christian walk is a daily walk....a daily growth. If you knew you would die today at 7pm you would suddenly have new perspective and live differently.

7. God's work is a constant work.
Momentary light affliction is producing. It is a continual action. Day by day is also a continual action. The Christian is being sanctified day by day. It is a constant work of God. Phil 2 it is God that is at work in you. When you don't feel His presence it is God at work showing you how much you need Him. The work of God is to cause us to live according to our own coming death. God is at work in you as if you are the only one in the universe. That is because he is eternal, immutable. He is everywhere as if that is the only place he is. He works in your life as if that is the only thing He has to do. In him we live and move and have our existence. If we are continually weighing our troubles against the eternal weight of glory, will that not give you something to be joyful about?

8. A great means to our inward growth (day by day) is not looking at the things of this world.
The eyes are a gateway to much covetousness. We are to look through the eyes of faith at the things that are not seen. The only thing that will last is the word of God. Global warming is true....the world will burn up in the end. Everything is temporary. One day it will all be meaningless. None of this stuff will comfort you on your death bed.

9. Only the Christian can live in reality.
Only the Christian can view their afflictions as momentary. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Only those adopted by God will receive the incomparable riches in glory. We are heirs of God. Only Christians can apply the comparison

10. What a blessing it is to know the meaning of our afflictions.
God has given us the meaning of our afflictions. We don't live in a world of chance. God is in control. He (Jesus) whom God loved the most suffered the most. God allows afflictions as a means to growth.

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