I was in Bible college back in 1982 when I took this class on 1 Corinthians. I absolutely loved my professor, Dr. Vernon Olsen back at St. Paul Bible College. Now I have found that when you get old enough, they change the name of your college. I have been to 5 major colleges or universities, and two of them have changed their names – it is now “Crown College.” But I digress! I loved the class because he taught it not as a fountain of knowledge, but as a devotional. So, today’s message comes from that class nearly 30 years ago!It was one of his first days in the actual book of Corinthians – after all of the “historical and hermeneutical background” stuff. He had just gotten into 1 Corinthians 1:7-9, and I will never forget what he said:
“…our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Will sustain you. Who is doing the sustaining? It sure ain’t us! But it is even greater! When Dr. Olsen got into the Greek meaning for the word “sustain”, it is a word that means “earthquake-proof.” Now I have heard of bomb proof, which is pretty solid. But earthquake-proof!? We are talking some pretty serious “proofing” here! Jesus’ powerful sustaining of us goes to that extent – come what may, atomic bomb, EARTHQUAKE, you name it, He will sustain us through it.
Now I can hear some of your thoughts. Even more, I can feel some of your pain. Some of you have had to endure to incredible pain and life disappointments in your journey. This is not meant as a band-aid statement. This is real. As real as the writer of 1 Corinthians lived his life. Do you know what HE went through? He gave us a short list one time in the 2nd book of Corinthians 11:24 –
“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak?”
He wrote that to people who were accusing him – and hence the gospel – of being fake. God is not fake. Nor is His Word. And God wants US to not be fake. Hardships tend to separate the fakers from the real deal. The sheep from the goats. But God’s promise is priceless. The Bible? $29.99 God’s promises IN the Bible? PRICELESS! He WILL sustain us – bomb proof, earthquake-proof.
Now, he does not keep us tied up on a chain – we are free to leave. But then, if we do that, we also leave the source of our strength and perspective. The fountain of healing and power. Our anchor of Hope. Why leave? Will it make the pain go away? Will it reverse the past? Where you gonna go? Like Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples once said, John 6:68,
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
God never promises to protect us from pain, or loss, or suffering. Okay, so I know that even after reading what the Bible just said, it still may not mean much – especially if you are hurting. So let me introduce you to my “friend” – Tammy Trent. Not like we are deep friends or anything, but I met her when she came and sang at church once a few years ago. I get her newsletters, and the one I just got today (talk about timing, eh?) has the perfect testimony for today. You can read it directly at this link: http://www.tammytrent.com/emaillist/September2011.html So I have copied it straight from her newsletter (with the idea that I sincerely hope she does not mind my sharing a little of her story here!). Her story is real, and is a great example of what I am talking about. She had to stand one day as they brought her newlywed husband’s dead body from the ocean. I still remember Tammy’s emotions as she related the story to us at church that day years ago. 10 years ago. What else happened 10 years ago? 9/11. Here is what she so beautifully wrote today that I believe is so applicable to today’s message:
“I’ve been shaken to the core and still I stand with my fist held high proclaiming that I am unshakeable in this moment. But that’s just it. Sometimes we go from moment to moment, day-to-day, season to season. Even in chaotic uncertain times we can be assured that our very lives are in the grip of a loving God. We can completely rest in His love and presence, but also His unending attention, commitment and faithfulness to us.
“When I stood on the edge of the water 10 years ago I could hardly breathe…I was overwhelmed with grief and loss…I’ll never forget crying out to God to come rescue this broken heart and scoop me up in His arms because I couldn’t stand on my own. As the scriptures say it best, He was close to the broken-hearted and He saved me, whose spirit had been crushed. (Psalm 34:18) I once again realized my great dependence upon God and just how very real He is.
“Many of our moments, days and seasons have been shaken, but today I am a woman speaking over my life AND yours if you feel like you’re being shaken at this very moment … Our hope and our refuge is firm because of Jesus! (Psalm 92:2) We are heirs of everlasting life! He is in full control when life seems out of control.”
Wow. Well written Tammy! May the Lord continue to bless you and heal you and touch many women and men through you! To all of my readers – May you be blessed this day, and know that come what may, you really are bomb proof – in fact, EARTHQUAKE proof! Now, if you will indulge me…please look at this final picture taken just before the picture on the top. See the man in the doorway? The lighthouse is protecting them from these waves, much like God is our refuge and sustainer in the storms of life, like King David said in Psalm 124:2-8,
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters. Blessed be the Lord…Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
FYI, these pictures are just two of hundreds taken by Jean Guichard who photographs Lighthouses. he is one of my favorites! Here is his site: http://www.jean-guichard.com/ Amazing stuff there!