SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20120212-"What Is Good?"

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There's a story about an old, poor farmer in ancient China who worked a small plot of land with his teenage son. During this time, horses were considered a sign of rare wealth; the richest person in the province owned no more than a few of them.

One day, a wild horse galloped into the town, jumped the old farmer's fence, and began grazing on his land. According to local law, this meant that the horse now rightfully belonged to him and his family. The boy could hardly contain his joy, but the father put his hand on his son's shoulder and said, "Who knows what's good or bad?"

(Ask your listeners to Repeat this with you responsively after each scenario)

The next day, the horse, not surprisingly, made its escape back to the mountains, and the boy was heartbroken. "Who knows what's good or bad?" his father said again, with the same equanimity. On the third day, the horse returned with a dozen wild horses following. The boy could hardly believe his good luck. "We're rich!" he cried, to which the father replied, "Who knows what's good or bad?"

On the fourth day, the boy climbed on one of the wild horses and was thrown, breaking his leg. His father ran to get the doctor; soon both of them were attending to the boy, who was moaning and complaining about his miserable fate. The old farmer wiped the boy's forehead with a wet cloth, looked deeply into his eyes, and said directly, "My son, who knows what is good or bad?"

And on the fifth day, the province went to war, and army recruiters came through the town and conscripted the eligible young men—except for one with a broken leg. We may not understand, on the day something happens, what significance it has for our life. Blessings are often camouflaged as trials, and gifts often come wrapped in hardship.

We can choose to reserve judgment about good or bad at the moment, and trust God’s remarkable ability to transform and redeem us and our circumstances. This sermon ponders the reality of human suffering and extols the mercy of God in it all.


Pastor Phil  <><<





February 12, 2012

Sheepfold Ministries – Pastor Phil Roland



Genesis 36 - 50


“A friend of mine, Alan Langstaff, lost his son-in-law, who pastored a church Alan founded and Alan suffered from more than two medical problems requiring surgery within a short time. He struggled with these setbacks, but came back with these words which I share with you.”         Pastor Phil  


“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28


            1. We have an assurance – “We know. . .”

2. Everything, not just some things – “All things. . .”

3. They work together in a process – “work together. . .”

4. The end result will be good – “for good. . .”

5. To those who:

                        a. “Love God, and

                        b. “Are called according to His purpose”


A. Lies that people tell us about “The Good”

            1. “Things have a way of working out”

      Eg. India’s Untouchables

2. “I’m a good person!”  “I don’t sin!” – Romans 7:19

“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not

 to do, that I practice.”

3. “Calamity and Disease will never hit me” – Romans 8:35

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or

 distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or


a. Why does Paul mention these things?

            b. These are actual events that can easily happen

            c. There’s no promise of a life sheltered from storm

4. “No evil act of another person will affect me” – Romans 8:36

“As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are

 accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

a. There’s no Star Trek Energy Shields for Protection

b. Following Jesus will sometimes involve a Cross

B. God’s Goodness is NOT found by Denying the Reality of Suffering

1. The only way you can say “things will get better and better” is by

         keeping your eyes closed



WHAT IS GOOD?, cont., p.2


2. The only way you can say “I’m free from sin” is by ignoring the

evil in your heart, and ignoring how much hurt and pain you   cause others

3. The only way you can say “Christians are free from tragedies” is

by closing your eyes to the tremendous suffering of your

brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and across the


4. The only way you can say “Evil men cannot harm Christians” is to

deny the reality of the torture and martyrdom of believers



"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

          A. The Parable of the Skydiver

          B.  The Joseph Story – Genesis 36-50

                        1. Joseph is a favored son – That’s Good!

                        2. His brothers desire to kill him – That’s Bad!

                        3. He was saved from death – That’s Good!

                        4. He was sold into slavery – That’s Bad!

                        5. He prospered in the house of Potiphar – That’s Good!

                        6. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him – That’s Bad!

                        7. He maintained his integrity – That’s Good!

                        8. He ended up in prison – That’s bad!

                        9. He interpreted Pharaoh’s Butler’s dream – That’s Good!

                        10. He is forgotten by the butler two years – That’s Bad!

                        11. He interprets Pharaoh’s dream /is promoted – That’s Good!



1 Corinthian 2:9

“But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

            A. Our God does NOT forsake us in affliction – Psalm 9:10

 “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You,

  LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

1. Seek Him in times of great stress

            2. Pursue Him with your whole heart

            3. Avoid “Why” questions

            4. Praise God, Anyway!

B. Our God wants us to Trust Him in all circumstances = Prov. 3:5,6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own

  understanding;  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct

  your paths.”

C. Facing Trials?

                        1. Lose your job?

                        2. Financially buried?

                        3. Like Joseph, have family Relationship problems?

WHAT IS GOOD?, cont., p.3


                        4. Car broke down?

                        5. Eviction notice?

            D. Tell yourself, “God’s in Control!”

1. When you feel out-of-control

                        2. God IS in Control!

                        3. Turn your problem and yourself over to Him – John 14:1

                  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

E. Closing Illustration





Parable of the Good and Bad

A certain man decided to go sky diving.

That had always been his dream – That’s Good.

He jumped out of the plane and his parachute failed to open – That’s Bad.

But he fell toward a haystack – That’s Good.

However, there was a pitchfork pointed up it him in the haystack – That’s Bad.

Fortunately, he missed the haystack, That’s Good.

However, there was a small lake next to the haystack – That’s Good.

Unfortunately, there was a big, man-eating alligator in the lake waiting for him – That’s Bad.

And so it went on. . .


We tend to judge an event or circumstance according to what is happening at that present time. God doesn’t see good or bad the same way we see it. God sees the whole picture: past, present and future. We need to see what is good from God’s perspective.





What is good,


When he was seven years old, his family was forced out of their home on a legal technicality, and he had to work to help support them. At age nine, his mother died. At twenty-two, he lost his job as store clerk. He wanted to go to law school, but his education wasn’t good enough. At twenty-three, he went into debt to became a partner in a small store. At six-six, his business partner died, leaving him a huge debt that took years to repay. At twenty-eight, after courting a girl for 4 yrs, he asked her to marry him. She said no. At thirty-seven, on his third try, he was elected to Congress, but two years later he failed to be reelected. At forty- one his four year old son died. At forty-five, he ran for the Senate and lost. At forty-seven, he failed as the vice-presidential candidate. At forty-nine, He ran for the Senate again and lost. At fifty-one he was elected president of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln, a man many consider the greatest leader the county ever had.


“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28