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A Soft Stone Pillow

Romans 8:28



A man was asked, “What color are the Pastor’s eyes?”  “I don’t know,”  he replied, “When he prays he closes his eyes, and when he preaches, I close mine.”


I notice some of you bring your own pillows to church.  I think that's for support...maybe?!  What kind of pillows are there?  Throw pillows, some for decoration, some for comfort.  Airline pillows.  Sometimes the hospital sends you home w/ one shaped like a donut!


There’s nothing that helps me sleep better than a soft pillow.  My wife recently found us 2 nice, soft, down filled pillows and she put those silky pillowcases on them, and we’ve never slept so good.  A hard pillow doesn’t do it for me.  Jesus may have had to use a stone as a pillow as did many in those days, [Mt. 8:20] but I believe I was born in this century for a reason, and that must be it.  Now, it cannot be TOO thin of a pillow, it needs to have some substance to it that my head can ease down into.  In college I had one that was too soft and I would sink all the way thru it and smother, so I had to put a textbook under it…but at least then I could honestly tell my teachers I had spent all night on my homework!


Some of you are almost asleep now after hearing all of this!  But our goal is to experience the rest and comfort God has for our souls, no matter what we may be going thru right now or in the future.


We all have problems.  Some of our problems are because of our humanity.

Job 5:7
Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

Job 14:1
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.



Some problems are because of our Christianity.  When you got saved you became the devil’s enemy, and he doesn’t want you to succeed.  But God is now your ally, and you can have victory!


Some problems are minor and some are major.  For example, you’re late for work and the car won’t start.  This is minor.  You put in new carpet and spill something on it.  Well, it’s aggravating, but it’s not the end of the world.  You burn the roast, or you’re overdrawn on your checking account, or whatever…daily minor problems are a part of life.


But other problems are major.  A doctor’s report can bring devastating news.  Your business can go bankrupt.  You can be abused or treated unfairly.  Your spouse can leave you for someone else. 


Now, if you’re saved and you know it, say Amen.


If so, then there’s something else you can know, and it’s good news:

        There’s always a plan, a purpose, a reason, and God is still in control.  He’s at work in our lives, working His perfect will, and He works it all together for good!  It sounds so cliché, and in this case it’s because it is true.


I believe that Rom. 10:13 is the greatest promise in the Bible, but after you’ve claimed that promise, I believe that Rom. 8:28 is the next greatest promise for you to claim.  R.A. Torrey called this verse ‘a soft pillow for a tired heart.’  But it’s also a stone pillow…a rock that will not roll!  Let’s engage in some pillow talk…


1.     This is a very sure promise.


“And we know…”


It’s not, we hope this is true, or we think this is true, but we KNOW this is true!  This is an absolute, rock solid promise inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, who cannot lie, and you can stake your life on it. 


a.     We can know this promise is true by examination. 


Our God has always passed the test.  He aces every test.  We can trust God because He is trustWORTHY!  Faith isn’t always blind.  Faith should be based in reason to some degree.  Evolutionists have faith, believing that a large explosion brought everything into existence.  They have more faith than I do, and it’s a very unreasonable faith, I might add.  But I have a reasonable faith, based on evidence, even if it’s the evidence of things not seen [Heb. 11:1].  God has showed us enough in the light that we can then trust Him in the dark, walking by faith and not by sight.


Ill.—How many have a trusted family physician?  On the other hand, how many have had a doctor and you didn’t feel they had your best interests in mind?  You end up w/ a doctor who has earned your trust.  They have a reputation for caring about you, and so even when they tell you bad news, you accept it, and trust they have a plan for you from here. 

        And so we should allow the Great Physician to show us what is wrong in us, to diagnose our situation, and to change our diet or prescribe something different, or to do radical spiritual surgery if needed…and in the end we can know that the prognosis is good!


I want you to know that the only way that bad things can intersect the life of the child of God is if they have first been filtered by the love of the God who created us, redeemed us, and Who always has our best interests at heart!


Yes, it’s painful, and yes, we often question what God is doing, but by faith we can know that He’s not asleep, but instead He’s given to us this soft pillow on which to rest and trust all night long! 


We may not understand the immediate, but we always can know the ultimate.  We can read the back of the book and see that in the end we win!  God never does things TO us…rather, He does things FOR us!



b.     We can know this promise is true by example. 


There are so many Biblical examples, but we will only take time for one…


Jacob in the OT


Gen. 28:11-18 is the story of Jacob’s ladder, and you’ll see it mentions, interestingly, that his pillow was a stone. Now look at v. 15

Genesis 28:15
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

What a promise!  It’s rock solid, yet also a soft pillow for Jacob.  Look at what he does…

Genesis 28:18
And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

Where I come from you call pillows ‘pillers’ anyway!


Afterward Jacob had all kinds of problems, but couldn’t see God thru them.  He missed the big picture over and over again. 


Let’s pick up the story after he’s had all 12 of his sons and he thought his beloved son, Joseph, had been eaten by wild animals, because he was lied to by his brothers.  Then famine came to the land, so Jacob said, “It’s not enough that my son is dead, now I am going to starve and watch my family starve!”  So he sent his boys into Egypt to buy food, and they come back w/out Simeon who was held there as prisoner.  How can this get worse?  The Egyptian leader said they couldn’t go back and retrieve Simeon or get food unless they brought back the baby, Benjamin.  The waves of problems seem to keep crashing on Jacob.


Genesis 42:36
And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.


Were all these things against him?  No!  God was working all things together for good, according to His plan to save them all.  Joseph was that ruler.  And when the happy ending came, Jacob must’ve felt pretty badly about his lack of trust in God.


How about Joseph?  What was his attitude thru it all?  Look at what he said to his brothers in the end…


Genesis 50:20
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Joseph saw the big picture, as we all do in the end, but even in the pit, at Potiphar’s, and in prison, long before being exalted as Prime Minister, he trusted the promise of God not even written yet.  And WE too can know God’s promise is true.  It’s solid as stone, but soft as a pillow!


Examination, example…


c.     We can know this promise is true by experience.


Ill.—if you’ve been saved 10 years or less, raise your hand.  20 years or more raise your hand.  Of the latter I ask, how many have gone thru a very difficult time where you didn’t know if you’d make it, but now years later, looking back, you can see how God used it for good, and now you wonder how you’d make it without having that experience?!


You can believe in this promise because God said it, and you can believe it because you can look back and see how the Lord has proven it over and again in your life and in the lives of others…so why is it that we don’t believe it for today or tomorrow?  We should!  And then we could sleep like a baby on this soft pillow of a promise.


This is a very sure promise… “And we know…”


2.     This is a very sweeping promise.


“all things…”


They say that one out of three people are above average in intelligence.  Now, look to your left, and right…if it’s not either of them, it must be you!  But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the wording here.  What would be the exception to this phrase?  Surely it means, all things but this or that.  No?  Could it be that ‘all things’ includes the bad things?  Bitter things?  Sad things and sorrowful things?  Dark things and dreary things?


It’s more good news—even in the original language God chose to inspire the strongest word for ‘all’…there are no exceptions.  And so no matter what bad things may come into your life, you can trust God to work it for good…now that’s a rock solid promise, but a soft pillow on which to rest!  That will bring serenity to your soul, and make your spirit sublime.  That will eliminate fear and fretting!


Balance—this verse does not say that all things ARE good.  Nobody who hears that a friend has cancer says, oh that’s good.  That would be foolish talk.  We wouldn’t be human if we weren’t brought low by news of a car wreck or a little baby on life support.  But we serve a God who exists on a higher plane, yet cares about His children living below, and He can miraculously turn tragedy into triumph, and works good out of bad.


Ill.—years ago a little girl was ill.  The Dr. gave her a Rx, and this was back in the days when pharmacists still mixed their own medicines.  Her dad watched as the man took 3 bottles off of the shelf.  He noticed what the labels said.  He knew enough about chemicals to know that each of these substances was poisonous.  He spoke up and questioned him about it.  The pharmacist said, you’re right, taken alone, any of these 3 would be toxic, but when you mix them together they form a medicine that will heal your daughter.


Ill.—ordinary table salt is comprised of 2 poisons:  sodium and chloride.  Ingest either alone and you’re dead!  But together they work miraculously, turning your wife into a great cook!

We serve a divine, heavenly pharmacist who can take bad things and ‘work them together’ for good.  It may not happen how and when we think, but if we’re patient we’ll come to see the promise is true.


“Not until each loom is silent

And the shuttle cease to fly,

Will God unroll the pattern

And explain the reason why

The dark threads are as needed

In the Weaver's skilful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

For the pattern that He planned.”



This is a sure promise, a sweeping promise…


3.     This is a very selective promise.


“to them that love God.”


This promise is solely for God’s children.  You want to make sure you’re on the right team on this one.  For if you aren’t saved, this promise works in reverse…for even things in your life which you would call good can be turned around and used for bad.  But the opposite is true if you are saved, where even things which we would call bad God can turn around and use for good.


Ill.—A lost man says, I make good money, isn’t that good?  No, that might be bad, because prosperity may keep you from getting saved if you get to feeling independent and that you don’t need God.  He can say I’ve got an education…more degrees than a thermometer, isn’t that good?  No, that might be bad, because that can lead to arrogance and pride and you may decide you don’t need to be saved.  He can say I’ve got good health, isn’t that good?  No, that may be bad, because many people have to be laid out flat on their back before they will look up.


You see, for the lost, good can be bad, but for the saved, the bad is all made into good!


One last phrase says, “to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  What is God’s purpose for us?  Why do we exist?  To glorify God!  And nothing glorifies God more than when we recognize His hand in everything that comes our way, good or bad, and decide to trust Him thru it. 

John 11:4
When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

And how we respond to trials will determine to a large extent whether God is glorified by us. 


Ill.—years ago an old blacksmith lived in a village, and he had more than his share of problems.  He’d get one problem solved and another would pop up.  An atheist lived in that same village, cynical as he was.  He approached the blacksmith and said, you sure have a lot of problems.  He admitted to having more than his share.  “But I thought you claimed that God loves you?”  “He does,” came the reply.  “Then how can you explain to me all the problems you are facing?”  He said, “Sir, I probably can’t explain them to your satisfaction, but I can to mine.  As a blacksmith I take a piece of iron in my tongs and place it in the fire until it’s white hot.  Then I put it on the anvil and I hammer and hammer.  Then I submerge it in the water, then back in the fire, and then I hammer it more.  If that iron won’t temper, be shaped, molded, then I have no choice but to throw it on the scrap pile.  Sir, I exist for one reason which is to bring glory to God, and so I have said to my heavenly Father, put me in the fire if you must, strike me on the anvil if you have to, dip me in the water if you will, but please dear God, just don’t throw me on the scrap pile!”


Rom. 8:28 is a rock that will not roll, and yet a soft pillow for tired hearts.

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