Trial and temptaion - Under God's grace

Sermon delivered at the Worship in English of "da Cruz" Lutheran Congregation, Porto Alegre, on May, 1st.

Text: Peter 1:3-9
Theme: “Trial and temptation – Under God’s grace”
_________________________________________________
Intr – “Two bears”
"There's a story of two hunters and a bear that goes this way. The two hunters came across a bear so big that they dropped their rifles and ran for cover. One man climbed a tree while the other hid in a nearby cave. The bear was in no hurry to eat, so he sat down between the tree and the cave to reflect upon his good fortune. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the hunter in the cave came rushing out, almost ran into the waiting bear, hesitated, and then dashed back in again. The same thing happened a second time. When he emerged for the third time, his companion in the tree frantically called out, "Woody, are you crazy? Stay in the cave till he leaves!"

"Can’t" panted Woody, "there’s another bear in there."

Is there a bear in your cave? And outside your cave? Often, it seems this way, doesn’t it? We’ve got bears or bear problems coming at us right and left, in front of us and behind us and sometimes all around us."

Source of the illustration
This story helps us to illustrate the kind of situation that is not rare in our lives. How would we call it? Is it a TRIAL or a TEMPTATION? Is there a difference?
That’s one of the themes St. Peter addresses in our epistle for Today. So that’s the theme we would like to think about in the next few minutes.
1 – Trials and temptations
I asked a few people about it this week. I’ve shared the question also in my twitter home. ::Do we have TRIAL or TEMPTATION in our lives?  Are they the same?  Different?::
Here’s some answers I got:
_No, they are the same
_Trial tests my faith. Temptations test my principles
_In every temptation we have a trial. And the reverse is true too.
            Yes, in some ways they look the same. Most times they come along in the same situation. We may think of:
_Health problems
_Unemployment
_Money
_”Nobody is seeing what I’m doing…”
Illustration:  My friend, Deaconess Kim Starr, shared with me that Resale Shops are back in full force in the US. Why? Americans are frightened due to the serious economic downturn of the last three years. They don't want to  spend full price when items can be obtained for a fraction of the cost and are in "slightly used" condition. Are our American brothers and sisters tempted to doubt God? That He won't provide? This time of trial could bring them even closer to Jesus!
                So many situations can lead to temptation making us fall from our principles. Other times a trial strengthens us to hold fast to those very same principles. Does your faith weaken? Or do you cling to faith more firmly? The reality is that one of two things may happen: One is, we may falter and follow a path leading away from Jesus. The other, that we stay on track and follow our Savior.
There is a major divide between the two paths. We could sum it up in a quote:
Trial is what strengthens my FAITH.
Tempation is what tries to push me away from it.
Temptations - Being manifold they host many different parts (evil, doubt, misuse of our emotions)...at the same time! They push us off of God's lap and away from knowing His grace and love. However, His grace and love never leave us. But, temptations are the tricks and the traps of the devil, the world and our flesh leading us stray from knowing God's love.
Trials - They are manifold, too. These host many different parts, too. However, trials draw us nearer to God our Creator.
The Bible declares that our Creator God does not tempt us. Yet, we do know that God may sometimes allow trials. These are to strengthen our faith like refining gold by fire.
Don't misunderstand what our God does. We know from St. Peter that trials do happen to those who love the Lord. Peter knows what he is talking about. He is an example to us and so we can trust that he knew what he was talking about. Peter experienced both trials and temptations. At times his colorful personality and boldness caused him to fall.
2 – Under God’s Grace
Let's not forget: The One, Jesus Christ, who fought all temptations and trials when he walked this earth did it without ever sinning. He went to The Cross giving us faith and strength in all trials. We also have forgiveness of sin when temptations cause us to fall short. Jesus did not have trials for the same reasons we do. And that's because He is God's Son. Instead he suffered, died and rose again so that our faith would be anchored in God's love and grace.
St. Peter reminds Christians for all time: "We have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
Christ work is complete. He took our place and conquered life, death and the devil on our behalf. The resurrection is ours, too. Faith and hope belong to us. He put us under God's grace. That is the safest place in the world for all situations of trials and temptations. Because of him we face these differently. We face these as Children of God under His Grace. That makes all the difference. Completely!
 Plus, we have an inheritance, says St. Peter, which is
_Imperishable
_Undefiled
_Unfading
There's no temptation or trial that can cause our hope or inheritance to fade away or to be defiled, to perish. We are redeemed children of the Father because of Jesus Christ.
Conclusion - So, what about those bears? Yes, they'll keep coming. They'll be there and keep tempting us to give up and say, "There's no God, if there were I wouldn't be in this mess." Now That's TEMPTATION. By faith in Jesus Christ, we see the TRIAL and the FREEDOM it brings. We hear his voice, "I am with you always. I have already fought those bears for you. And, I'll keep fighting the new ones for you and with you. Your strength is in me, in grace and in love."
Make sure that you keep these two things clear: Don't let you faith be misguided by someone who'd promise that being in Christ means no bad things will touch you. St. Peter does not agree with that. And also, don't let your faith be attacked by those who say that in tough times there is no God to help you out. Even though the bears are big and strong, greater and stronger yet is The Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ, the One who leads us through every trial under God's grace.
Rev. Lucas André Albrecht
St. Paul’s Congregation/Ulbra
Canoas, RS, Brazil

Text revision:
Ms. Kim Starr, MA Practical Theology & Deaconess Certified
Spiritual Life Program Assistant
Cedar Lake Lodge and Residences
Care-giving and Housing for Adults Living with Developmental Disabilities
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A
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