AFFLICTION—A GOOD SIGN

“[S]hare in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8 ESV).

“You always know when the vision is of God because of the inspiration that comes with it; things come with largeness and tonic to the life because everything is energized by God. If God gives you a time spiritually, as He gave His Son actually, of temptation in the wilderness, with no word from Himself at all, endure, and the power to endure is there because you see God” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, May 2nd).

“[T]hrough many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 ESV).

“When you’re going through hard times and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test” YCHS.

“Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble” (2 Tim 3:10-13 MSG).

“If ye were not strangers here, the dogs of the world would not bark at you” Samuel Rutherford (ref#333, p165).

“[C]onsider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18 ESV).

FEAR

“[D]on’t take the pressure of forethought upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is infidelity, because worrying means that we do not think that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything else that worries us” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, May 23rd).

“Let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory” (Deut 20:3-4 ESV).

“God tries our faith by adversity, it follows that no one truly confides in God but he who is armed with invincible constancy for resisting the fears with which he may be assailed” John Calvin (ref#164, Feb 11th).

“Sometimes fear does not subside and one must choose to do it afraid” Elizabeth Elliot.

“If we give way to foolish fear, we will dishonor our profession of faith and lead others to doubt the reality of godliness. We ought to be afraid of being afraid, lest we vex the Holy Spirit by foolish distrust” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, April 22nd PM).

“All the poverty and pain in the world would be powerless if the evil of it did not enter into the soul and distress it.” Charles Spurgeon (ref#310, p163).

There are two kinds of fear: paralyzing fear and energizing fear. Paralyzing fear comes to people who have no relationship with GOD when they recognize His authority over them.

Without some comprehension of GOD everything we do is a self-help project. When we are not close to GOD we become comfortable with ourselves and go about our daily business of setting goals and evaluating ourselves. But energizing fear makes us cast aside our predetermined plans and make an all-out effort to stay close to GOD. Eugene Peterson (ref#58, p30).

No wonder CHRIST’s delight was the ‘fear of the LORD’ (Isa 11:3). As Son of Man, He needed His FATHER, minute by minute; His energized fear kept Him receiving miracle after miracle that filled Him with joy as well as moved Him through His earthly life accomplishing His FATHER’s will. Energizing fear, obedience, and joy come bundled together.

“[L]et us lift up our banner in his name, and press on through every discouragement” John Newton (ref#322, p182).

SECURITY

A universal desire of GOD’s depraved creation is to be settled—to find a place we deem safe and secure and make every attempt to remain there. The draw for finding such a place is that there is no need for GOD. We are able to command ourselves and reject our Creator, GOD. This tendency is natural in us all.

“The [tower of] Babel enterprise is all about human independence and self-sufficiency apart from God, The builders believe that they have no need of God” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p69).

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower. And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (Gen 11:5-6 ESV).

Ever since GOD kicked Adam out of the Garden of Eden, so that he would not eat from the tree of life and live forever in his sinful state, GOD has had to direct man away from his destructive ways.

Since the beginning GOD has had to intervene into our lives to cause us to change course. GOD—the GOD of love—must move us away from pursuing our comfort. His thoughts are far better for us than our thoughts for ourselves. So thus, we come to the topic of “affliction.”

Oswald Chambers touched on this subject: “We command what we are able to explain, consequently it is natural to seek to explain” (ref#7, July 18th).

This concept shows itself in a frightening way in our churches. Too many pew sitters are quick to study the Bible and learn church protocols—even immerse themselves in Christian service but are not inclined to pursue a relationship with JESUS, the Church’s Head.

The very base answer for GOD allowing affliction is to destroy our self-confidence while He works out a change in our nature. He continually moves us toward a new creature—one that we will eventually put our entire trust in living under His rule.

“Moab, you are like wine left to settle undisturbed, never poured from jar to jar. But now, I will send enemies to pour out the wine and smash the jars. I know about your pride, and how you strut and boast. But I also know bragging will never save you. So I will cry and mourn for Moab” (Jer 48:11-12; 29-31 CEV).

The following posts explain and encourage us as we face affliction. They will continue until November, LORD willing.

OBEDIENCE

“When Simon and Andrew heard the call of Jesus, they obeyed at once without question. If we would always, promptly and with resolute zeal, put into practice what we hear on the spot or at the first suitable occasion, our attention to the means of grace could not fail to enrich us spiritually. He will not lose his loaf who has taken care to eat it immediately” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, June 20th PM).

“[B]e doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 ESV).

“Good actions are designed by the counsel and resolution of the spirit, but performed by the ministry of the flesh. Every grace expresses itself in visible actions by the body. In the sorrows of repentance it supplies tears, in fasting its appetites are restrained, in thanksgivings, the tongue breaks forth in the joyful praises of God. All the victories over sensible pleasure and pain are obtained by the soul in conjunction with the body” William Bates (ref#225, Apr 9th).

“[T]he desire of the righteous ends only in good” (Prov 11:23 ESV).

“[A]s grace prevails, self is renounced. We feel that we are not our own, that we are bought with a price; and that it is our duty, our honour, and our happiness, to be the servants of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. To devote soul and body, every talent, power, and faculty, to the service of his cause and will, to find our own pleasure in performing his” John Newton (ref#322, p138).

“You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day” (2 Chron 6:15 ESV).

“Human obedience to God’s commands is the means of ratifying or accepting God’s promises, as well as a condition for experiencing the reality of the promises in the present. God himself provides the grace for his people to obey” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p749).

“Obedience that is not voluntary is disobedience, for the Lord looks at the heart, and if He sees that we serve Him from force, and not because we love Him, He will reject our offering” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 9th PM).

“[W]hen the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. [T]hat those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:4-5,8 ESV).

“The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself. The thing that will hinder joy is the irritation of thinking out circumstances. Stop being self-conscious and live the life hid with Christ” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Aug 31st).

RIGHT DOING

“There are things in human nature, such as prejudices, which the saint has to destroy by neglect; and other things which have to be destroyed by violence, i.e., by the Divine strength imparted by God’s Spirit. There are some things over which we are not to fight, but to stand still in and see the salvation of God; but every theory or conception which erects itself as a rampart against the knowledge of God is to be determinedly demolished by drawing on God’s power, not fleshly endeavor or compromise” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Sept 8th).

Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13 MSG).

“Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it” (Eph 5:8-10 MSG).

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thes 5:12-22 ESV).

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ’Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:9-21 ESV).

LET US PRESS ON TO KNOW THE LORD

“When have you been the most fruitless? Has it not been when you have lived farthest from the Lord Jesus Christ. Has it not been when your graces have engrossed your attention instead of your Lord, when you have forgotten where your strength dwells” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 13th AM)?

“You cannot, without incurring guilt, neglect private prayer, meditation, and self-examination, or public ordinances such as the ministry of the Word, the services of the Church, the assemblies of the saints. Neglect of these, however slight, entails a severe loss to your soul. It is in the way of diligent, prayerful waiting upon the means that the Christian goes ‘from strength to strength.’ Search, oh search, for this living grace. No man shall wait upon the Lord in vain” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 3rd).

“It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we mistake panic for inspiration. That is why there are so few fellow workers with God and so many workers for Him. We would far rather work for God than believe in Him” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 1st).

“We must bend our every effort to this goal: that we should not let ourselves be overwhelmed by careless or faintheartedness. [W]e have to wage war against an infinite number of enemies” Doug Newton (ref#166, p71).

“The Christian should be of a courageous spirit, by enduring trials in a heroic manner. If he is fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonor his God. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic that soon spreads among the Lord’s flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up, Satan will be too much for you” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, May 11th PM).

“[F]ear of weakness amounts to God-forgetfulness” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 6th).

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 ESV).

“[L]et us know; let us press on to know the LORD, his going out is sure as the dawn, he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hos 6:3 ESV).

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).

SHATTERED PRIDE

“As we grow in the Christian life we face increasing danger of spiritual pride” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p72).

“To humble the pride of the flesh, God determined to take away from men any reason for confidence or boasting” John Calvin (ref#164, Jan 9th).

“It is a very common for God’s people, after they have enjoyed a great deliverance, to find a little trouble too much for them. It is as if the Lord must teach us our littleness, our nothingness, in order to keep us within bounds” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 21st PM).

“Thank God if you are going through a drying-up experience! The sign that God is at work in us is that He corrupts confidence in the natural virtues. It is the saddest thing to see people in the service of God depending on what they have by the accident of heredity” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Dec 30th).

“Weakness is not the big danger to be avoided. What you need to avoid is your delusions of strength” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 17th).

“Idlers may indulge a fond conceit of their abilities, because they are untried; but the earnest worker soon learns his own weakness. If you seek humility, try hard work. If you would know your nothingness, attempt some great thing for Jesus” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Mar 2nd PM).

“To be truly in Christ is to stand accepted in His righteousness, to be justified by Him freely from all things; it is to be brought to the knowledge of our own vileness, insufficiency, and guilt; to be made to cast aside all self-dependence and works of human merit, and to come as the thief on the cross came, without any confidence in anything of self, but as a poor, helpless, ruined, condemned sinner, whose hope of pardon and acceptance is only through the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 1st).

“[W]e must die if we are ever going to live. So grace is out to kill us. But in presiding over our deaths, grace gives us life” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Oct 19th).

“[T]rust the Lord, surrender, and go habitually trusting through all the changes, knowing that his love, purpose, and promise are unchangeable” John Newton (ref#322, p191).

THE SPIRIT, OUR PROVISION

“Jesus cannot come as long as there is anything in the way either of goodness or badness. When He comes am I prepared for Him to drag into the light every wrong thing I have done? It is just here that He comes. Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unutterable unworthiness. ‘He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire.’ John does not speak of the baptism of the Holy Ghost as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. ‘He shall baptize you.’ The only conscious experience those who are baptized with the Holy Ghost ever have is a sense of absolute unworthiness” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Aug 22nd).

“God has made provision for our holiness and He has also given us a responsibility for it. God’s provision for us consists in delivering us from the reign of sin, uniting us with Christ, and giving us the indwelling Holy Spirit to reveal sin, to create a desire for holiness, and to strengthen us in our pursuit of holiness. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and according to the new nature He gives, we are to put to death the misdeeds of the body” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p78).

“The saving work of the Spirit in the heart of God’s elect is a gradual and progressive one” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p78).

“It is not the work of the Spirit to tell you the meaning of Scripture, and give you the knowledge of divinity, without your own study and labour. To reject study on the pretense of the sufficiency of the Spirit, is to reject the Scripture itself” Richard Baxter (ref#225, July 22nd).

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:16 ESV).

“Weakness is a reproach when such a might is at our service. Defeat is dishonor when the partnership of God is rejected” Samuel Chadwick (ref#195, p73).

DEATH OF SIN

“[A]bstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Pet 2:11 ESV).

“Do I accept God’s verdict on sin in the Cross of Christ? Have I the slightest interest in the death of Jesus? Do I want to be identified with His death, to be killed right out to all interest in sin, in worldliness, in self—to be so identified with Jesus that I am spoilt for everything else but Him? The great privilege of discipleship is that I can sign on under His Cross, and that means death to sin. Get alone with Jesus and either tell Him that you do not want sin to die out in you; or else tell Him that at all costs you want to be identified with His death. The proof that your old man is crucified with Christ is the amazing ease with which the life of God in you enables you to obey the voice of Jesus Christ” Oswald Chambers ( ref#7, Dec 23rd).

“True repentance, furthermore, shows itself before the world in a thorough breaking off from sin. The life of a penitent man is altered. The course of his daily conduct is entirely changed. What God commands he now desires to practice; and what God forbids he now desires to avoid” J.C. Ryle (ref#363, p36).

“True repentance shows itself by producing in the heart a settled habit of deep hatred of all sin. He comes short of his own desires frequently. He finds in himself an evil principle warring against the Spirit of God. He finds himself cold when he would be hot, backward when he would be forward, heavy when he would be lively in God’s service. He is deeply conscious of his own infirmities. But still, for all that, the general bias of his heart is toward God and away from evil” J.C. Ryle (ref#363, p36).

“Knowing thus the faithfulness and justice of God and the power of the blood of Christ to deliver me and to cleanse me from the guilt and stain of my sins, I can with confidence go forward, knowing that all is clear, my conscience has been cleansed, and I can continue to walk with God” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p 134).