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REFLECT

All of life is a competition for our attention, and one of our biggest struggles is keeping our eyes fixed on the goal…or even knowing what our end goal or purpose in life is sometimes! When we lose sight of the greater purpose in life, it’s so easy for too many things to become big in our heads and occupy more and more of our time and energy. We all need to get a pulse on our perspective from time to time. So join us this Sunday for a message that will not only help us keep our eyes on the prize, but remind us where our lasting hope is when everything else is in flux.

REALIZE

1. Keep things in perspective.

Romans 8:18
Leader Notes

  • The Bible never minimizes the suffering we go through on a daily basis as a result of living in a fallen world. In fact, the Bible is totally real about what we’re going through, but it holds our current affliction in tension with the coming glory of God.
  • Our issues are real…but they can obscure our focus on the right things. We never want to live in denial of the real suffering in our lives – we can and should grieve what’s going on and bring it before the Lord in prayer.
  • But if you keep your eyes only on present suffering, you end up with bitterness. But there’s a bigger story God’s writing in each of our lives.
  • With the eyes of faith, we need to look above our suffering and look to Jesus. That’s what helps us maintain an eternal perspective on our suffering. Nothing we’re currently going through can compare to the glory that awaits us when we meet Jesus face-to-face. And he promises us his presence and comfort in the here and now too.

How do you need to see Jesus in your current suffering?

2.  Creation labors for the birth of the new creation.

Romans 8:19-22
Leader Notes

  • All of creation awaits the second coming of Jesus when he will make the whole world new and wipe every tear from every eye. In the meantime, the whole earth experiences “birth pangs” or “labor pains.”
  • Labor pains are progressive…they increase in intensity the closer a woman gets to giving birth. But there’s a promise of coming relief – the birth of a child and all the joy that comes with that. That’s how our world is (and we are) too as we wait for Jesus’ return.
  • That also means, as we get nearer to Christ’s return, suffering will increase in the world. As followers of Jesus, our response should be to acknowledge the very real suffering in the world, trust God with it, and figure out how we can help the people in our lives who are suffering.

How is God inviting you to help people in the midst of suffering?

3. Hope in God’s future.

Romans 8:23-25
Leader Notes

  • The best way to deal with suffering in our lives is to learn how to hope in God’s future. Hope is Having Only Positive Expectations — we can live like that because Jesus is real, and we trust that he is working all things together for our good and his glory.
  • When Paul says, “Hope that is seen is not hope,” he means true hope doesn’t function in the temporal realm we can see. It functions in the areas we cannot see. True hope is eager for what is coming. And even though it hasn’t shown up we are waiting for it. Real hope is not a pie in the sky dream, it’s an excitement that the best is yet to come.
  • When we face trials and suffering in this life, hoping in God means we have to “eagerly wait with perseverance” to see him bring his promises to pass. And that gives us what we need to get through whatever we’re facing in our present reality.

What would it look like for you to “eagerly wait with perseverance” for God’s future for you and the people in your life?