There were a family of pet rats whose owner loved them very much. The owner had to go away on a trip, and he asked the neighbor's boy to look after them. sadly, the boy was not reliable and completely forgot about the rats for two weeks. During those two weeks, as the animals grew hungry, they began to wonder if their master would ever return. One did not trust the master to return. He lifted the lid off of the cage and made his escape. He lived the rest of his days as a vermin.
His brothers, meanwhile, trusted their master. They remembered all of the many months he had fed them, watered them, bathed them, given them gifts, and treated them with kindness and affection. They trusted that the master would return and set things to right.
And that was exactly what he did. When the neighbor's boy announced with a horrified look that he'd forgotten his duties, the man ran into his house and at once gave the rats all the food and water they could consume. He cleaned them, comforted them, and took them to the vet. From that day on, he never left them alone again. The story I have told you is mostly true. The good news is that all of the rats remained and lived out the rest of their days happily.

You'll have noticed that today we have two scripture passages with slightly different but connecting messages. The first carries a message of being thankful in the hard times. The second focusses on being restored by God. These really are not the two seperate subjects they appear to be.

As I was researching this topic, I went around the net trying to find a sermon on this topic which I could use as a template for my own. Since I am still technically in training, I can do this and write it off as part of my education. But I was surprised to find that no one has done one. I thought to myself "Doesn't anyone out there trust God to right things when they go wrong?"

We all know that God cares for us. That's never been in doubt. He is intimately involved in every detail of our lives causing everything to work together for our ultimate good. Romans 8:28 is an excellent reminder that this is true. Of course, some people make the mistake of assuming that this means nothing bad can ever happen to a Christian. We know full well that this is not true. It has never been true.

But we can have faith that when misfortune comes into our lives, God will not merely ignore it. When things go wrong, God will set them right, even if He's indirectly responsible for the misfortune.

Take Job. God allowed Satan to persecute Job in ways that would drive lesser men mad. Job lost everything. His home, his possessions, his health... even his wife and four best friends turned against him. It was God who instigated this situation. He wasn't directly persecuting Job, but it was His idea. But God did not leave Job in that situation. Once He'd accomplished what He wanted to acomplish, He gave Job back everything he'd lost. His health, his house, his livestock, the respect of his friends... everything but his children. He gave Job double what he'd lost, including a new brood of children.

Consider for a moment what Earthly authorities would do in the same situation. Suppose a man is wrongfully convicted of a crime and sent to prison. Twenty years later, evidence surfaces to prove his innocence. So the state lets him go free. The man has lost twenty years of his life. His wife has divorced and remarried. His kids have moved away. There is no possibility of ever resuming his old job and the honor which he has lost can never be regained. To Earthly authorities, this is justice. The evil (otehi) is stopped, but the poor man is left to deal with the consequences of that evil with no help.

Thank God that He's not like that.

What, then, about the individuals who die amidst such misfortune? We can't that it happens. Doesn't God care enough about them to restore their good fortunes as well? Indeed he does. Bear in mind that death is not the end of life. Let's fast-forward a bit...

These are some of the things which await us in God's Kingdom.

Revlation 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Suppose you were reading a story about a poor down-and-out orphan who never got a break. At the end of the story, he is adopted not merely by a nobleman, not by a king, but by an emperor. The emperor of EVERYTHING. He becomes the emperor's son, has his tears personally dried by the emperor, becomes the emperor's heir, and has the right to go in and out of the palace as he pleases, enjoying things that are forbidden to ordinary men. Wouldn't you say that the story had a happy ending? Wouldn't you say that whatever suffering the orphan had gone through, it was worth it?

My dear friends, I cannot guarantee you won't have trouble. In fact, I can guarantee you will. If you love Jesus, you have trouble. The world hates him and it's not going to like you any better. what's worse: you have an evil ex-archangel who wants to hurt God by hurting you. But whatever otehi comes your way, you can be assured that God will enable you to get through it, and He will richly reward you for enduring it.

Before I close, I'd just like to examine a few more promises from earlier in Revelation.
2:7b To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

2:11b He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

2:17b To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
(This is a very personal gift, reflecting something which is strictly between the giver and the receiver.)

2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.

3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

These are the promises given to the seven churches. They are given to every church type, every church age, and every believer. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior, this is what you have to look forward to.

If you're not, ask yourself if you really want to forego this wonderful future and pass into a state of eternal suffering.

Pastor Oren Otter
November 11, 2006

Today's readings:

Habakkuk 3:17

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
Joel 2:21-27
21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.
22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.
27 And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.