Stand: Stories of Courage

Introduction:
A local church has a sign that says “Hope Is Real.” It wouldn’t take a whole lot of thought to agree with that statement. But sometimes it is not so easy to find. I believe that one of the most important gifts we can give to another person is the gift of hope. We all desperately need and never stop needing: Hope. When you are a child of God, no matter whatever situation you find yourself in at that moment, there is hope. You may not be able to see or feel the hope, but it is there for you. The realest, deepest, truest hope is found only in Jesus Christ.

Something To Talk About:
God cares about you more than you do. God loves you more than you will ever understand and more than you could ever truly comprehend. God is love, and He made you to love you. He is loving toward you in everything that He does. This “steadfast love” is always there even when your feet are slipping. Nothing will separate us from God’s steadfast love, no matter our circumstances. If we knew and felt how much our heavenly Father cares compassionately and constantly about us, we would have to love him back. God could not love you more and nothing you can do will cause Him to love you less.

God is doing more than you can understand. And He is with us, even when it seems like he is not. God does not stand back, but goes through life with us. God is working behind the scenes. He is perfecting whatever concerns us. On Sunday we gave the example of Daniel, but there are many other examples of God working behind the scenes. One is in 2 Kings 6:15-18. In this passage God opens the eyes of Elisha’s servant to see the vast angelic army in chariots of fire ready to fight for them. It shows how God’s spiritual forces working behind the scenes to accomplish his purposes vastly exceed our comprehension or ability to imagine. We may trust that God will use whatever means are needed to work out his best in the world and in our own lives.

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9: “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Or every weakness that you have is an opportunity for God to demonstrate His strength in your life. There are times when we become keenly aware of our weaknesses and inadequacies, our failures and sins. If we use them to remind us of our need for God, these occasions become opportunities for us to renew our trust in God. It is really in our weakness and dependency on God that the way will open for us to live in union with Christ, and to experience his strength being made perfect in our weakness. Strengthened by his life and power at work within us, we learn to say with Paul, “…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Questions:
1. How would life be different if you were convinced that God loves you unconditionally?
2. Sometimes God is silent. He is not defined by our schedule. But God’s people can be confident that He remains active on their behalf for their good and for the sake of His glory. Do you believe that? Why or Why not? In what ways is it easy to miss God’s work in our circumstances?
3. Is there anything required of us for God to work behind the scenes in our lives?
4. Conventional wisdom says, “play to your strengths.” How can you find strength in your weaknesses?
5. What can we learn about prayer in Daniel chapter 10?
6. Speechless and overwhelmed, Daniel was strengthened when in verse 18, “… the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.” What does that mean to you? Verse 19 says, “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” What does this verse mean for us today?

Take One Thing Home With You:
Most people have traveled to Disneyland and have enjoyed the rides and all the spectacle that goes with Disney. What people don’t see is how the thousands of employees make the magic happen every day. There is a 7-hour tour of all 4 themes parks that provides the opportunity to pull back the curtain and discover the daily operations that bring the Disney parks to life. Most people want to know what’s hidden behind the curtains or stages or rides.

The point I was making in this week’s message was that if you were to catch a glimpse beyond the proverbial curtain that separates us from the invisible things of this world, you’d see something similar. An entire stage full of players affecting the ins and outs of our daily life. You would see God is working behind the scenes.”

Our human eyes can only see the physical things: a marriage that is failing, the loss of a job, a child who is on the wrong path, bills that never stop, the answers that we simply don’t have. We can be confident that God is at work in the circumstances surrounding us. I cannot always see what He’s doing, but that does not mean He’s idle. He is working out His purposes in the world and in our lives. And remember Philippians 1:6 from our recent series: “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” If you’ve put your hope in Jesus Christ, you are serving the Lord of both the seen and unseen things around us. Scripture tells us that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Even the things you can’t see and won’t ever understand. All of it is being woven together for our benefit.