Thinking through Suffering (…a dialogue) Pt. 2

Thinking Suffering

Sunday 06/28/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

MESSAGE: Thinking through Suffering …a Dialogue Pt. 2


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Thinking through Suffering …a Dialogue

This week we continued our discussions, working through the questions on our ‘Thoughts and Questions’ list which is downloadable by the link above. This week we concentrated on questions 3-6. 

Our goal and intention in doing this is to allow this dialogue format to help us think through these questions and so help solidify much of what we have been teaching since the beginning of the year.

Key passages we’ve covered which touch on these topics:

  • 2Cor. 4:6-11 – Suffering, Jesus formed in us
  • Ephesians 1:1-11 – holy, blameless, in Christ, Created for good works
  • Ephesians 1:19-22 – Temple, tabernacle, dwelling place
  • Phil. 3:7-14 – Knowing Him, faith, maturity in Christ
  • James 1:2-4 – Trials
  • James 1:12-18 – Temptations, life
  • James 2:18&20 – Faith, works
  • 1Peter 1:6-9 – Trials, soul salvation, faith
  • 1Peter 4:12-19 – Trials, glory, Christian suffering
  • Heb. 10:13 – Temptations
  • Heb. 10:35-39 – Need for faith, patience, life
  • Heb. 12:1-14 – sin, weights, maturity, chastening, righteousness, holiness 

One message which touched on MUCH of these things was ‘Suffering…who for the Joy’.

Thoughts & Questions:

Question 3: Why is agreement with God so important?

Because it is life! Peace (the inner and outer end of hostilities) begins with a respect for God as our Creator. He is God and we are His creations. We were made FOR Him, so BY DESIGN we cannot find fulfillment, true purpose, satisfaction or joy outside of union with Him. We condemn ourselves to a “fish in the desert” existence – attempting to find fulfillment and happiness in a heart geography which is literally hostile to our wellbeing. The only way to life, fulfillment, peace and inner joy with satisfaction is in conformity to God’s will and way. I’ve taught you before that submission and agreement are NOT always the same thing and that is true. One can submit without agreeing – at least at first. The type of commitment Jesus calls us to however, does not allow the heart to stay in disagreement with God. If one is going to love the Lord their God with ALL of their heart, that requires a relinquishing and surrender of the will as well. A willingness to have one’s opinions altered so that they are now not just submitted, but agreed. Thus, agreement with God is everything! 

God is right. Any and all thoughts contrary to His &/or not done out of respect & trust in Him… dishonor Him as our God, Creator, Savior & Father… It is sin. 

To walk with Him we must agree – perfect union is impossible otherwise. 

Question 4: What is Life and why does God want that WITH you?

Life is to know God in living experience. To have a unified existence with Him where we live in loving, deferring, inner-connectedness which never ends. He finds pleasure in us. God created objects of love and desire with whom He desires communion and friendly, loving interaction forever. He desires to be kind to us, love us and be loved by us. We were created out of the love and desire of the Godhead. In a most literal way – we are His offspring. 

As for us – we are like children, in that we are aware that we bring so little to the table. He is Owner, Creator, Provider, the Source of all – what can we bring to this relationship…how can it rightly be called a relationship at all? 

The answer is because you were born out of the love of the Godhead – He desires you in a way which is similar to our love for our offspring who do not own, create, provide and are not the source in our relationship with them – but we find our delight in loving and caring for them. 

One “I love you” from the simple and genuine heart of a child, one unprovoked and unsolicited hug from those little arms and our hearts are filled to near bursting with joy. All of the sudden all the countless hours of labor we’ve placed into their health and well being evaporate with no hint of regret or bitterness. This is love…and just like with God, our kids love us BECAUSE we first loved them!

This relationship of abandonment to and enjoyment in one another (between us and God) IS life – which was the message Jesus preached!

Question 5: What does it mean that you and I are God’s temple?

We are the place He dwells – meaning our bodies. Within our bodies is our souls and spirits in which we carry His thoughts, His words, His ways, His devotions AND the “seed” or “nature” of Jesus lives within us. 

Also, in at least some way, His actual Spirit dwells within us facilitating His redemptive work within.

Question 6: What does it mean when the scriptures tell you that you are being prepared TO BE a dwelling place for God in the spirit forever?

Right now we are inhabited by the Spirit of God, but we are being prepared to be the Home of the entire Godhead forever. 

This requires a purification process. 

Our spirits are already ONE with Him. 

During this life – our souls are being converted to His likeness, little by little as Christ is revealed to, in and eventually through us.  Our bodies will one day be glorified and death will be permanently removed from us – on dad day we will no longer be a temple of division, but one of peace and unity. That is when we will be finally & fully prepared to be His darling place forever. Whether this means that we will be His dwelling place in a literal way – as meaning inhabited by Him or if it is figurative as we say it concerning our mates…like, “If home is where the heart is, then my wife (husband) IS my home” – they are where my heart dwells. We will discover later which OR if both are true.

Closing encouragement:

Get before God and get a game plan to address these things and make it difficult to slip back into inactivity.

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!