TRIALS CANNOT INJURE THE SOUL

“Love is when God gets you to God” John Piper. And most often He does that through tribulation.

“The normal person simply doesn’t esteem the spiritual value of hardship. They say they believe in the truths of Scripture, but they live in an unspoken state of disappointment, irritation, impatience, or frustration with God. The trials in our lives exist not because he has forgotten us but because he remembers us and is changing us by his grace” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 17th).

“He who reads the hearts of men knows their weaknesses better than they themselves can know them. He sees that some have qualifications which, if rightly directed, could be used in the advancement of His work. In His providence He brings these souls into different positions and varied circumstances, that they may discover the defects that are concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to overcome these defects and to fit themselves for service. Often He permits the fires of affliction to burn, that they may be purified” Ellen G. White (ref#331, p524).

“Let us remember that these outward trials cannot injure the soul, that they last only for a time, and that they are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor 4:17)” Charles Ross (ref#241, p154).

“We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:8-10 ESV).

“The truth is, persecution of the godly [is] of God, and never intended for [men’s] destruction, but for their glory; to make them shine the more when they are beyond [the] valley of the shadow of death. God will have the spirit of His servants kept sound. [T]he ground that the enemy has to play upon [is] the body and outward substance of the people of God. The spirit is reserved that it might be capable of maintaining communion with God” John Bunyan (ref#225, Jan 10th).

“How God loves: by doing everything He has to do, like remove every obstacle, to bring me to the place where I make much of Him” John Piper

GOD’S PURPOSE IN AFFLICTION

“God loves to show off his greatness by being an inexhaustible source of strength to build weak people up. His exuberance in delighting in the welfare of his servant is the measure of the immensity of his resources” John Piper (ref#220, p186).

“[A]ll afflictions are God’s rod, and therefore there is no remedy for them other than God’s grace” John Calvin (ref#164, March 17th).

“If God intended for all the days of your life to be easy, they would be. No, in grace, he intends for your days to be his tools of refinement” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, April 22nd).

“Our sins have been forgiven. We’ve been bought by the blood of the Savior. We’ve become part of God’s family, destined to become like Christ. God is now using our trials to accomplish his good and redemptive purposes in us (Romans 8:28-29)” Bob Kauflin (ref#199, p131).

“In the upbuilding of His work the Lord does not always make everything plain before His servants. He sometimes tries the confidence of His people by bringing about circumstances which compel them to move forward in faith. Often He brings them into strait and trying places, and bids them advance. It is at such times, when the prayers of His servants ascend to Him in earnest faith, that God opens the way before them and brings them out into a large place” Ellen G. White (ref#331, p357).

“Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do” (Jer 9:7 ESV).

“[H]e will purge them of their sin” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1391).

“He that suffers for righteousness’ sake suffers by the order and design of God. It is not what enemies will, but what God wills, and what God appoints, that shall be done” John Bunyan (ref#225, Oct 17th).

ABIDE IN CHRIST

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn [God’s] statutes” (Ps 119:71 ESV).

“When things are going ‘bad’ that does not mean God has stopped doing good. It means he is shifting things around to get them in place for more good, if you will go on loving him” John Piper (ref#220, p181).

“[B]eliever, most specially in times of trial, abide in Christ. Abide in Christ! This is indeed the Father’s object in sending the trial” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p124).

“[O]ne of the purposes of trials—to revive in us the spirit of devotion and communion with God. And when mercy comes on the back of great trouble, it leads us sweetly to prayer” Charles Spurgeon (ref#310, p165).

“You and I place much more importance on things than they truly possess, and when we do so, these things begin to claim our heart allegiance. So God ordains for us to experience that physical things get old and break. The people in our lives fail us. Relationships sour and become painful. Our physical bodies weaken. Flowers die and food spoils. All of this is meant to teach us that these things are beautiful and enjoyable, but they cannot give us what we all long for—life” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

“In this world that is groaning, God is protecting our hearts. He is protecting us from us. Our hearts can be so fickle. We can worship God one day, only to turn and give the worship of our hearts to something else the next. So, in love, God lets pieces of the creation die in our hands so that increasingly we are freed from asking earth to give us what only he can give.” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

“The furnace works wonders for a believer. He should never wish to be exempt from it! [R]eal grace is inseparable from a state of trial. Where there is real faith, the Lord will try it. Real grace, then, is tried grace. The hour of affliction is the hour of softening. The hardness of the heart yields, the callousness of the spirit gives way, the affections become tender, and conscience is more susceptible. It is the season of holy abstraction, meditation, and prayer, of withdrawal from the world and from creature delights, while the soul is more closely shut in with God. Emptied, humbled, and softened, the heart is prepared for the seal of the Spirit” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 8th).

“Your Lord knows that even as his child your heart is still prone to wander, so in tender, patient grace he keeps you in a world that teaches you that he alone is worthy of the deepest, most worshipful allegiance of your heart” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

PUTTING ON THE NEW SELF

“We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Feb 4th).

“Do we not become members of the body of the divine person of Christ? Yes, the same blood that flows in the head flows in the hand, and the same life that quickens Christ quickens His people, for ‘Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God’ (Col 3:3). As if this were not enough, we are married to Christ. He has betrothed us unto Himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Sept 16th AM).

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Pet 1:3-4 ESV).

“To live a holy life is to live a life in conformity to the moral precepts of the Bible and in contrast to the sinful ways of the world. It is to live a life characterized by the ‘[putting] off of your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires and [putting] on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness’ (Ephesians 4:22, 24)” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p16).

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1 ESV).

By calling it a living sacrifice we are to be continually sacrificed to the Lord so that our former life will be destroyed in us. [O]ur work is pleasing and acceptable to God when we devote ourselves to purity and holiness” John Calvin (ref#164, Aug 6th).

“But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life” (Jude 1:20-21 MSG)!

“[What] pleases him is not our work for him but our need of him” John Piper (ref#220, p215-216).

“The good news of salvation is that as believers in Jesus Christ, and by God’s grace, we are no longer sinners in Adam, we are now righteous in Christ” Denny Johnson (ref#385).

GOD’S LOVE

“I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer 31:3) A.W. Pink (ref#253, p7).

“God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him” (Rom 5:6-8 MSG).

“God who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them (I Tim 1:11)” John Piper (ref#220, p53).

“[T]he salvation of the sinner is not so much a manifestation of the justice, holiness, wisdom, or power of God, as it is a display of His love” Octavius Winslow (ref#252, p1).

“[I]f God has already granted you a place in eternity, then he has also granted you all the grace you need along the way, or you’d never get there. There is grace for our fickle and easily distracted hearts. There is rescue for our self-absorption and lack of focus. The God of eternity grants you his eternal grace so that you can live with eternity in view” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Jan 3rd).

“[A]ll God’s trying, wounding, disappointing dispensations towards His people are the result of His everlasting love. He Who smiles today and Who frowns tomorrow, Who kisses now and smites us then, is the same tender, faithful Father, Whose love knows no change and Whose faithfulness never fails” Octavius Winslow (ref#256, p31).

“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence” (Acts 2:28 ESV).

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zeph 3:17 ESV).

“Love never ends” (1 Cor 13:8 ESV).

JOYOUS CONFESSION

“Trusting in God to meet our needs breaks the power of sin’s promise to make us happier” John Piper (ref#220, p247).

“Every time you desire to do and choose to do what is right in God’s eyes, you celebrate the grace that is yours in Christ Jesus” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Dec 17th).

“’Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever’ (Ps 73:25-26). These are the words of a man who learned the secret to contentment. When you are satisfied with the Giver, because you have found in him the life you were looking for, you are freed from the ravenous quest for satisfaction that is the discouraging existence of so many people. Yes, it is true that Your heart will rest only ever when it has found its rest in him” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Jan 6th).

“Sin will rob you of happiness and joy and will give you a sense of condemnation because sin always ultimately breaks fellowship with God and therefore immediately casts us off from the source of all our blessedness. It is no use saying you want to walk with God and then deliberately sinning. The one thing that matters is fellowship with God” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Oct 1st).

“The conscience only retains its tenderness and purity by a constant and immediate confession; the heart can only maintain its felt peace with God as it is perpetually sprinkled with the blood of Jesus. The soul, kept thus beneath the cross, preserves its high tone of spirituality unimpaired, amid all the harmful influences by which it is surrounded” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 2nd).

“Sin separates. But sin immediately confessed, mourned over, and forsaken brings God and the soul together in sweet, close, and holy fellowship. Praise Him for any evidence that sin does not have entire dominion” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 6th).

“God’s love is ‘an ocean without shores or bottom’” Dane Ortland (ref#382, p192).

PEW SITTERS

When brought up in a Christian family and taught morality, sin doesn’t make such an impact. It gets watered down to: “churchgoers don’t have sin problems and non-churchgoers do.” They are bad and need to be saved, thus the emphasis is on evangelism—getting people into the church. Sin is so much in the background and not considered that scripture addressing sin is looked over in favor of the “Great Commission.”

This is probably one of the main reasons that the generation that is big on evangelism sees the next generation not interested in evangelizing even themselves. To them, their parent’s religion seems just another way of being bigoted.

“It is not opposition of the world that most endangers the church of Christ. It is the evil cherished in the heart of believers that works their most grievous disaster and most surely retards the progress of God’s cause. There is no surer way of weakening spirituality than by cherishing envy, suspicion, faultfinding, and evil surmising” Ellen G. White (ref#331, p549).

“[A] believer may lead a fairly normal Christian life on the outside while wrestling with a steady barrage of sinful thoughts on the inside: lust, envy, greed, hatred, apathy, etc. I see about 65 percent of all Christians living at this level of spiritual conflict” Neil T. Anderson (ref#90, p107).

“[H]ow many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family. So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud—just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time), and lots of fun stuff on the weekend—woven around church (mostly). This is life for millions of people. Wasted life” John Piper (ref#2, p119).

“[W]e do not just have to submit and resign ourselves in order to be made perfect. [I]f I am a child of God, God has started to work in me. He will go on, and He will bring it to perfection. But He does so by opening my mind and understanding; He reveals sin to me; He tells me to put these things into practice, to press on and to strive; and He gives the final assurance that if I confess my sin He is faithful and just to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness . . .” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p80-81).

FEAR OF GOD

“Do you hope in the one you fear and fear the one you hope in” John Piper (ref #220, p197)?

“[T]he LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isa 8:13 ESV).

“When the fear of God overwhelms and controls your heart, it protects you from the paralyzing and debilitating fear of other things” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Aug 26th).

“[F]ear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace. God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence. This is just what we would have expected from a God who is all-sufficient in himself and has no need of us—a God who will never give up the glory of being the fountain of all joy, who will never surrender the honor of being the source of all safety, who will never abdicate the throne of sovereign grace. God has pleasure in those who hope in his love because that hope highlights the freedom of his grace. When I cry out, ‘God is my only hope, my rock, my refuge!’ I am turning from myself and calling all attention to the boundless resources of God” John Piper (ref# 220, p199).

“’The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him,’ and to fear Him is not to dread Him as a slave, but, as a child, to walk blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 30).

“What kind of response can God demand from us so that the demand gives good news to us and glory to him? This is the answer: the demand to hope in his love with an earnest, profound sense of his awesome power: John Piper (ref#220, p199).

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18 ESV).

“[W]hen you hope in God you show that he is strong and you are weak; that he is rich and you are poor; that he is full and you are empty. When you hope in God you show that you are the one who has needs, not God” John Piper (ref#220, p200).

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome” (Eph 3:12 NLT).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

SPIRIT CHECK_4

“Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).

Am I content with the service I decide to do for GOD?

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform…many miracles?”  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt 7:22-23 NIV).

Is my belief more important than my service?

“By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain.  It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference…” (Heb 11:4 MSG).

Do I attempt to appease God with my good conduct?

“…a righteousness of my own that comes from the law…” (Phil 3:9 ESV).

Do I work for GOD the best way I know how?

“Our doing and working are but the fruit of Christ’s work in us.  It is when the soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do, that its energies are stirred to their highest activity, that we work most effectually because we know that He works in us” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p25).

Do I act differently in church than the rest of the week?

“…There is great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate!…” (Matt 10:21-23 MSG).

Do I totally submit my entire life to GOD as JESUS did?

“…not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42 KJV).

“God is sovereign, self-sufficient, and free.  If we do not have this foundational vision of God in place when we ask how we can please him, it is almost certain that our efforts to please him will become subtle means of self-exaltation…” John Piper (ref#220, p209).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

NO SHORTCUTS

“False teaching is easily identified by the fact that it is willingly received by all, and is to everyone’s liking.” John Calvin

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.  The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matt 7:13-14 MSG).

“We can be committed to a set of Christian values or to a lifestyle of discipleship without being committed to God Himself” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p149).

“When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me” John Piper (ref#220, p124).  “If we love Christ, it is because he loved us first (1 John 4:19).  If we are Christians at all, it is not because we have decided for Christ, but because Christ has decided for us” John Stott (ref#258, p18).

FATHER, it is so easy for us to choose our own work we are going to do for you.  Caution us when we find our choice doable and satisfying—even if it is “difficult and meticulous at times” it still can be our own choosing.  John Fischer (ref#3, p10).  The standards we tend to set for ourselves in work choices are just “difficult enough to weed out the undesirables but not so difficult as to become overly burdensome” John Fischer (ref#3, p10).  The sin of pursuing Christianity by human methods disguised itself so easily as spiritual activity.  FATHER, prompt us to recognize the subtlety of working for ourselves instead of following GOD’s choice.

 “…self is the cause for every sin, every shortcoming, all failure, and all that has been dishonoring to God…let us allow Jesus Christ to take entire control of our life, in the faith that His life can be ours” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p38).