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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shepherded through Trials

Pastor Shim's October 17 sermon--another good one.

Scriptures: Psalm 23 and Acts 16:22-26
Do you remember the song, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand?” We sang this song just before Pastor Shim began his sermon. “Precious Lord” was written in 1932 by Thomas Andrew Dorsey (no, not Tommy Dorsey) after finding that his wife and baby son had died. A few days after hearing this devastating news, still feeling as though God had done him an injustice, he felt a sudden calm and quiet stillness come over him, and as his fingers wandered over the piano keys, “words began to fall in place on the melody like drops of water falling from the crevice of the rock.”
Have you ever gone through a trial where you felt God had done you an injustice? Pastor Shim did. He had been in the ministry for 20 years, serving God 45 states, in Europe, Canada, and the Caribbean. He came back from being a missionary in Jamaica, and his marriage unraveled. He resigned from the ministry. He complained to God, saying, “I’ve served You for 20 years, and this is what happens?”
God replied (in Pastor Shim’s heart, not out loud), “Lick your wounds, then get up and go. I have work for you.”
Later, Shim was walking in a park when he came across an older couple also walking, and he told them he thought they were cute. They laughed, and they chatted with Shim for awhile. They invited him to go to church with them. He went, and gradually, the church gave him more and more responsibility, recognizing his devotion to God. They told him he belonged in the ministry. In July of 2000, he was assigned to a church.
If someone came to you when they were going through a trial, would you recommend they read Plato or Aristotle? Or would you point them to God, pray with them and for them? When David wrote Psalm 23, he no doubt was going through a trial, as he did many times between the time he was anointed to be king and the time when he actually became king of Israel. He was undergoing training, as we do. Not that God causes our trials and tribulations, but that He uses them to train us to become better Christians.
Pastor Shim once talked to Paul Elert, a missionary to China and a cancer survivor. Pastor Elert told Shim God allowed the cancer to draw Elert closer to Him, not to punish.
May God give us the grace to say these words with Paul in Romans 8:35-39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? .... In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”