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Archive for March, 2014

10

We will all suffer, of that there is no doubt. It is strange, then, that we are often unprepared for it. With that in mind, a useful exercise is to summarize Scripture and identify what words of God can guide us when things are hard.

Here is my current list of ten things to do while suffering (it is always subject to ongoing refinement).

  1. Don’t be surprised by suffering (1 Pet. 4:12). The Son suffered, so do those who follow the Son. You will not be spared the sufferings that the world experiences, but you will participate in them, both for the world’s benefit and your own.
  2. Live by faith, see the unseen (Heb. 2:2). Normal eyesight is not enough. Your eyes will tell you that God is far away and silent. The truth is that he is close—invisible—but close. He has a unique affection for fellow sufferers. So get help to build up your spiritual vision. Search Scripture. Enlist others to help, to pray, to remind you of the Truth. Ask the God of comfort to comfort you.
  3. Suffering will reveal what is really in your heart. It will test you (Jam. 1:2). Where do you turn when tested? Do you turn toward Jesus or turn inward?
  4. God is God, you are not (Job 38-42). This is important. Humility and submission before the King can quiet some of your questions.
  5. Confess sin. There is nothing new here; it is a regular feature of daily life. Yet it always helps you to see the cross of Jesus more clearly. It is the quickest way to see the persistent and lavish love of God (Heb. 12).
  6. Keep an eye out in Scripture for the Suffering Servant. He has entered into your suffering, and you can enter into his. (Isaiah 39-53, John 10-21)
  7. Speak honestly and often to the Lord. This is critical. Just speak, groan, have someone read you a psalm and say a weak, “Amen.”
  8. Expect to get to know God better while in this wilderness. That is how he usually works with his people (Phil. 3:10-11).
  9. Talk to those who have suffered, read their books, listen to them. You are not alone. Insist on being moved with compassion as you hear other stories of suffering.
  10. Look ahead. We need spiritual vision for what is happening now and for where the universe is heading. We are on a pilgrimage that ends at the temple of God (Ps. 84).

I have noticed that, during dire times, we can hear our own words repeated back to us more easily than we can hear words from other people. So I hereby authorize my wife, children, and anyone else, to speak these things to me when my hardships are oppressive

 

Source: Ed Welch (www.ccef.org)

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“We can imagine no higher degree of perfection than that which is here set before us. To take patiently whatever God sends—to wish nothing but what God approves—to prefer pain, if it pleases God to send it, to ease, if God does not think fit to bestow it—to lie passive under God’s hand, and know no will but His—this is the highest standard at which we can aim, and of this our Lord’s conduct in Gethsemane is a perfect pattern.

Let us strive and labor to have “the mind that was in Christ” in this matter. Let us daily pray and endeavor to be enabled to mortify our self-will. It is for our happiness to do so. Nothing brings us so much misery on earth as having our own way. It is the best proof of real grace to do so. Knowledge, and gifts, and convictions, and feelings, and wishes, are often to be found in unconverted persons. But a continually increasing disposition to submit our own wills to the will of God is a far more healthy symptom. It is a sign that we are really “growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ.”

Ryle, J.C. Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Mathew and Mark. Volume one. Baker publishing Group, Grand Rapids, MI. Pg. 319

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The Father’s Love

father

Believe it!

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)

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Spiritual Schizophrenia

If I watched a video of your everyday life for the past six weeks, would I conclude that your faith shapes everything you think, desire, say, and do? Or, as I watched that video, would I begin to see a separation between your spirituality and reality?

I want to write today about something that I call Spiritual Schizophrenia. I can summarize it with a question: does the public persona of your faith live in harmony with the private realities of your life? Here are a few examples:

  • Are you a mother that joyfully sings “Amazing Grace” during a worship service, and then on the way home, yells at your kids for making noise and disrupting your peace and quiet?
  • Are you a husband that prays and reads the Bible in the morning before work, but treats your wife with cold harshness before walking out the door?
  • Are you a member of a small group who participates with spiritual enthusiasm in front of people but lives in fear and discouragement when no one is looking?
  • Are you a pastor that boldly proclaims the Bible from the pulpit but fails to live in the same biblical manner with your family?

The examples can go on and on, but you get the picture. I’m afraid that there’s a big separation between many believer’s worlds of spirituality and reality. Outside of the spiritual world (worship services, small group, ministry activities, personal devotion, etc), their reality is untouched by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the problem – we’ve created these two worlds when the Bible never gives any indication that these two worlds exist. Jesus never talked about a separation between reality and spirituality, because true spirituality means that everything in my life has new meaning, new purpose, new focus, new direction, and new motivation. My reality is motivated and structured by my spiritual relationship to God and the purposes He has for my life.

I’m deeply persuaded that in this fallen world, with all of its interesting activities and seductive temptations, Christian activity often gets substituted for true Christian living. In many ways, Christian activity will look and feel like the real thing, but it won’t be the real thing because the real thing is about Jesus’s constant work to change me at the core of who I am.

FIVE SIGNS

Is there evidence that you’re living with a separation between your spirituality and reality? However slight, this separation shouldn’t exist. So maybe you’re asking now, “What will my life look like if my spirituality begins to transform my reality?” Let me give you five signs:

First, there will be a humble awareness of the extent and the gravity of your sin. You won’t become complacent about your sin; you will see the fact that your words and your actions depict a constant need for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, you’ll be aware of that constant battle for control of your heart. Your heart is a worship center, and if it doesn’t worship the Creator, it will worship the creation. There’s always a war for your heart, and you’ll be aware of that battle all the time.

Third, there will be a clear holding on to the present benefits of Christ’s grace right here and right now. You’ll be so thankful that there’s not just grace for the past and grace for the future, but that there’s grace for the things that you face right now, in your family, in work, in your neighborhood, and all of your activities.

Fourth, there will be a daily pursuit of God’s call to personal growth and change. You’ll not be satisfied with who you are. You’ll not be satisfied with the way you’re speaking, acting, and responding. You’ll want to grow, you’ll want to change, and you’ll see that over the course of your everyday life.

Fifth and finally, there will be an everyday lifestyle of repentance and faith. There will be this constant turning and depending on the Lord. You’ll say, “Lord, I can’t do it, but You can.”

I would ask you again: Is there somehow, someway, however slight, that a separation exists between your reality and your spirituality? Pray that God would close that gap in your life.

(Source: Paul Tripp http://paultripp.com/articles/posts/spiritual-schizophrenia)

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