Text: Job 2:5-10

Introduction:

Young people, specifically (but maybe some adults would know this as well), have you ever felt annoyed or confused when your professor suddenly told you that you’ll have a surprise quiz today? Okay, take out ¼ piece of paper. Back then, we were all in a rush looking for someone with a paper.

I believe that no one likes surprise testing or quizzes in this room.

Background: Share the narrative

Satan’s (Hasatan) goal is for Job to deny God (be unfaithful and curse him) through trials and suffering. Declaration: God is sovereign and He loves us. We must believe that nothing reaches us without first passing through His hands.

  1. External (1:13-19)
    1. Sons and daughters (13-15)
    2. Sheep and servants (16)
    3. Camels and servants (17)
    4. Sons and daughters (18-19)

In an instant, all Job’s properties, possessions, and loved ones, were all gone.

  1. Internal/ Personal
    1. Job’s health
    2. His feelings and emotions
    3. His wife
    4. Scrape with a pottery

 

Understanding these Adversaries

It is important to note here that when Job was asking and praying to God to deliver him from trials and sufferings, God did not take away immediately but was dealing with him through people and even Hasatan. God will not only limit our trials and problems, He will also draw us deeper into relationship with Himself. I am reminded of the following:

  • Daniel’s Friends in the fire/ fiery furnace (the King praised their God, and promoted them; Daniel 3:24-25) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – King Nebuchadnezzar
  • Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:23, 26) – King Darius and Cyrus
  • Jonah in the stomach
  • Paul in the prison
  • Jesus on the cross: A type of Christ (Father, father why have you forsaken me?)

People around us: Job’s friends were in the wrong even though their intention was good. They have given their advice from their words and not from God. They have condemned Job but God acknowledged Job.

Job passed the test, he was found faithful because of God’s anointing. God foreknew his faithfulness and rewarded him twofold from what he had before. Do not be like Job’s friends who depended on their own wisdom, capabilities, experience, or skill, but rather acknowledge that God can bring out good from something bad.

God’s power can draw good out of any evil. Interestingly, with all these events in the life of Job, God was not a bystander, was not someone from afar. He was near, he was involved in his safety, and God was with him and in control.

  • Satan’s power has limits. Trials have endings. But God’s sovereign power is everlasting. Believe that God is working something in your life right now.
    • 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
  • The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.
  • God assumes full responsibility for our needs when we obey Him. (Job 42:10, 16-17)

Job Worship God and did Not Sin (1:20, 22; 2:10)

Trials and Sufferings are there to lead us to worship. Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees. Trust God even when we fail to comprehend why we are suffering.

Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.”

May we all be found faithful like Job in the midst of our trials and sufferings. Let me end again with what Job told his wife, “Should we only expect good things from God and not bad ones?”

Questions:

  1. “How are you responding in the midst of your circumstance or situation?”
  2. Are you trusting Him or are you frantically looking for a way out of the difficulty without discovering what He wants you to learn?

 

Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey | September 24, 2023

 

 

Text: Psalm 42:1-11

Introduction: The Sons of Korah – from the lineage of Levites, the priests, and people who were assigned to the duty of Tabernacle, Temple, and this context accompanying King David during a war. As part of the military, they also offered music and choir for the people of David.

THE BAD NEWS – Three Hardships in this Life.

Verses 1-4: Emptiness – we feel empty, a never-ending void that none can satisfy // the deer pants for flowing water signifies a person who longs to worship God, seek his presence, and his Word // this thirst is quenched through public worship and prayer // he was away and longed for church

Verses 5-8: Depression – Even children of God struggle with anxiety and depression // to the point of being drowned //Though counseling, psychotherapy, and medicines help us overcome depression, it is through God in prayer, singing, and worship that we find complete healing.

Verses 9-11: Rejection – #CancelCulture // they mock my God because of my wounds, pain, and sufferings; remember Job’s wife and friends // They ask for evidence about my God.

Nevertheless, the Choirmaster in verses 5 and 11 (even 43:5), calls us to put our hope in God.

Illustration: When Christian and Pliable fell on the Slough of Despond, Help helped Christian.

THE GOOD NEWS –  John 4:13-14, “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

These Hardships Draw God Near: Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

These Hardships have a Purpose: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

These Hardships have Limitations:  2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

Conclusion: Do Not Lose Heart! 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

The same composer of this wonderful song wrote the famous line that we sing, entitled “Still.” In Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…”

 

Pastor John Paul Arceno

UCBC New Jersey | August 20, 2023

 

 

 

Text: 2 Timothy 3:10-12

Theme introduction:

46% of the UK say that they are Christian. “The proportion of people who said they were Christian was 46.2%, down from 59.3% in the last census in 2011. In contrast, the number who said they had no religion increased to 37.2% of the population, up from a quarter.” (OFS UK) “Over a third in the US, indicated that they have ‘no religion’ also known as being in the ‘unchurched’ religious category.” PEW Research 2018. “18% of baby boomers, 25% of Generation X, 29% of millennials, and 34% of Generation Z” are unchurched or unaffiliated (Lifeway 2022).

Reasons why they do not want to be part of any church? Irrelevant or not an important centerpiece in life; did not have any transformational experience; to avoid being persecuted or labeled.

In this thought of experiencing persecution and trials, we will emphasize today’s sermon. Before that, I have here a simple activity called: Three Lies and a Truth.

You’ll hear people saying, “you can overcome trials by yourself and God does not give us trials that we cannot surpass.” It sounds good, but it is not biblical. Look at Job; look at Paul in Romans 7. There are trials that you cannot surpass. And God gives you those trials so you can fully depend on Him, not on your own self. Read our passage: 2 Timothy 3:12. Explain verses 10-11.

Sermon Introduction:

Kintsugi – Makoto Fujimura said that in Christ’s weeping in John 11:35, he shares his children’s entire pain and persecution. Praise God for that because we have a God who assures us that he is with us when we are persecuted.


John 20:27, Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Main Idea:

Why do we experience these things? Read John 15:18-21. Expressions of today’s persecution: discrimination, oppression, Subtle Persecutions nowadays: cancel culture, censorship. A proper theology of suffering begins with God. By persecuting the church, the devil deceives himself into thinking he can stop her mission in the world. – Dustin Benge

Why do we experience such persecution and suffering?

  • Corporate Sin – God affirms corporate confession of sin as a model for the Jews in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God spoke these words to Solomon in the context of the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. God was not setting a liturgical format; rather, He was emphasizing the principle of mercy over a community who lives in humility before Him.
    • Jonah 3:5-9
  • Shares Christ’s Suffering – Philippians 1:29-30, For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have; 1 Peter 4:12-13.
  • Draws near to God – throughout church history, we learn that persecution is a catalyst for church growth and increase instead of destruction.
    Where is the gospel in here?

    • Covenant of Redemption (Isaiah 49)
    • Philippians 2:5-11
    • John 3:16-17
    • Explain the covenantal agreement; someone needs to atone for the wrongdoing and bridging the contract covenant, Rom 6:23, death is the payment.
  • Eternal Reward – Rejoicing
    • 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Matthew 5:10-11
    • Paul, despite persecution, was rejoicing. Peter and Silas were singing in their imprisonment.
    • One of the oldest Baptist churches in America (1665), First Baptist Church of Boston’s history traces back to a tragic event of Obadiah Holmes’ punitive whipping in 1651.
      Obadiah Holmes stood his ground defending the truth of the believer’s baptism. As a consequence, he was imprisoned and had received thirty lashes with a three-corded whip. He chose to be whipped even though given an offer to be bailed by his friends. // With gracious endurance, he said that he had “such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence” that it was as if he had been whipped “with roses.” // Moreover, it is said that through this event, Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard University, rejected infant baptism in 1654.

Conclusion:

II Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 4, 2022

 

 

 

Text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:4; 3:17-19

Habakkuk’s Objections and Response on Pain and Suffering (Sermon Manuscript)

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Introduction:

Pain is the ultimate teacher. (Roger Collier)

C.S. Lewis said, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told in Matthew ‘Blessed are they that mourn.’” Indeed, pain has been present since the beginning of life—mothers feel the pain of birth—and until the last moment of life—death.

Main Idea:

  • Habakkuk complained and lamented to God. He was questioning God. (1:1-4, 13)
  • God answered that he was already at work even before Habakkuk’s complaints. (1:5-11)
  • Perfect time – never delays. (2:3) Other people rely on their might, power, riches, and possession. (2:4a) – The kind of faith that Habakkuk describes, and that the NT authors promote, is continuing trust in God and clinging to God’s promises, even in the darkest days.
  • But Christians—the called out righteous ones—are to live by faith. (2:4b)

How did Christ respond?

Matthew 26:36-45: Jesus prayed three times – in this the same story, in Luke’s version, he said, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (22:44).

Christ sympathizes with you, in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Dane Ortlund explained that “In our pain, Jesus is pained…His human nature engages our troubles comprehensively. His is a love that cannot be held back when he sees his people in pain. Jesus is able to sympathize. He “co-suffers” with us.”

Conclusion:

Same with Jesus, Habakkuk’s response was prayer. As Christians, this is our default setting. NT Wright says, “That is our vocation: to be in prayer, perhaps wordless prayer, at the point where the world is in pain.” (the temptation to be pragmatic or solution-oriented).
Habakkuk 3:17-19, Rejoicing! Yet even amid suffering and loss, Habakkuk has learned that he can trust God, and with that trust comes great joy, not in circumstances but in God himself: yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Yahweh has become Habakkuk’s strength.

 

Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
March 13, 2022

 

This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript here.