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Tag Archives: Suffering

Waiting Well

In keeping with today’s theme, here is our first chapel message for the Fall semester.

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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Video

 

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No More Tears

No More Tears

Heaven matters. In his book, Of God and Men, A. W. Tozer writes…

We must face today as children of tomorrow. We must meet the uncertainties of this world with the certainty of the world to come.

Today’s Morning and Evening draws our attention towards the future hope we have in Christ Jesus.

Suffering is temporary. The eternal joy of our Savior awaits us. Once all cause for sorrow has come to an end, so will our need for tears.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress. — Isaiah 65:19

In heaven the glorified do not weep, for all outward causes of grief are gone. There are no broken friendships, nor unfulfilled longings in heaven. Poverty, famine, danger, persecution, and slander are unknown there. There will be no pain to distress us, no anxious thoughts of death or bereavement to sadden. Those there do not weep, for they are perfectly sanctified. No evil heart of unbelief prompts them to depart from the living God; they are faultless before His throne and fully conformed to His image. Well might they stop mourning since they have stopped sinning. They do not weep, because all fear of change is past.

They know that they are eternally secure. Sin is shut out, and they are shut in. They are safe in a city that will never be taken; they bask in a sun that shall never set; they drink of a river that will never run dry; they pluck fruit from a tree that will never wither. Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity will not be exhausted; and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall endure with it.

They are forever with the Lord. They do not weep because every desire is fulfilled. They cannot wish for anything that they do not have. Eye and ear, heart and hand, judgment, imagination, hope, desire and will—all the faculties are completely satisfied; and although our present ideas of what God has prepared for those who love him are imperfect, still we know by the revelation of the Spirit that the saints above are supremely blessed. The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them. They bathe themselves in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite blessing.

That same joyful rest awaits us. It may not be too long before the weeping willow is exchanged for the palm-branch of victory, and sorrow’s tears will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss. “Therefore encourage one other with these words.”1

1 1 Thessalonians 4:18

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Morning Coffee – 08/09/14

Here are the stories I put in my coffee this morning.

  • In Christ Our Suffering Is Not in Vain
  • Jesus suffered for us. Yet we are called to participate in His suffering. Though He was uniquely the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, there is still an application of this vocation for us. We are given both the duty and the privilege to participate in the suffering of Christ.

  • Not to Be a Suffenus
  • John Owen used the term “Suffenus” to describe young theologians who think they know it all. Suffenus was a poet, a tad incompetent, but in no way lacking confidence in his own abilities. Those (overly) pleased with their intellectual powers were, says Owen, called “Suffenuses.” These types are blind to their own faults but bitterly attack the faults of others.

  • The Ultimate Contradiction
  • The abuse of knowledge will always nullify its benefits. While God has no problem with us increasing in knowledge, he does have a problem when we make knowledge our god. And when we make it our god, we find that our great wisdom deceives us.

  • What Makes Us Hungry? – Matthew 5:6
  • As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we come to desire what He desires. It is not enough for us to admit what we lack; we want it! We see God’s righteousness, in His Word, in His son, and we praise Him for it. What we once avoided we now see as beautiful and we yearn for it.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Links

 

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Suffering and Security

Suffering and Security

Today’s devotional is taken from the great “Golden Chain” of Romans 8.

For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. — Romans 8:29-30

We quote Romans 8:28 all the time. But how often do we forget that the purpose of verse 28 is for us to “be conformed to the image of His Son” in verse 29? God is the ultimate agent of our salvation. He foreknows, He predestines, He calls, He justifies, and He glorifies. He begins the work and finishes it (Philippians 1:6). Why does God deserve all the glory? Well, for one thing, He does all the work.

As Spurgeon acknowledges in this morning’s Morning and Evening, these truths are a tremendous comfort for believers. He says, “do not bemoan your troubles, but rather rejoice” because a day is coming when there will be no more pain. A big understanding of God produces big comfort for the Christian. Peter encouraged the believers who were suffering under Nero’s persecution with these amazing words:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. — 1 Peter 1:3-9

The recipients of this letter are being wrapped in wax and set on fire to light Nero’s dinner parties. Many of them have lost mothers, fathers, limbs, and dear friends for the sake of the gospel. Peter does not ignore their pain. He simply redirects their focus. What does he say? God has caused us to be born again to a living hope! Our inheritance lasts forever and is guarded by the very power of God Himself. The afflictions of this life are temporary, but God’s promises are eternally secure. These are comforting words indeed for anyone in need of consolation.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

Those whom He justified He also glorified. — Romans 8:30

Here is a precious truth for you, believer. You may be poor or suffering or unknown, but for your encouragement take a moment to review your calling and the consequences that flow from it, and especially the blessed result spoken of here. As surely as you are God’s child today, so surely will all your trials soon come to an end, and you shall be rich to an extent that is hard to imagine.

Wait awhile, and your weary head will wear the crown of glory, and the worker’s hand shall grasp the palm-branch of victory. Do not bemoan your troubles, but rather rejoice that before long you will be where no longer “shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore.”1 The chariots of fire are at your door, and it will take only a moment to transport you to the glorified. The everlasting song is almost on your lip. The portals of heaven stand open for you.

Do not think that you can fail to enter into your rest. If He has called you, nothing can divide you from His love. Distress cannot sever the bond; the fire of persecution cannot burn the link; the hammer of hell cannot break the chain. You are secure; that voice which called you at first shall call you yet again from earth to heaven, from death’s dark gloom to immortality’s unuttered splendors. Rest assured, the heart of Him who has justified you beats with infinite love toward you. You will soon be with the glorified, where your portion is; you are only waiting here to be made ready for the inheritance, and with that done, the wings of angels shall carry you far away, to the mount of peace and joy and blessedness, where

Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in,

you shall rest forever and ever.

1 Revelation 21:4

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Fellow Heirs

Fellow Heirs

This morning’s Morning and Evening is a joyful reminder of the inheritance we have with Christ. The text is taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans.

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.  Romans 8:16-17

This is a tremendous truth indeed! However, we should not ignore the clause of suffering and glorification that follows. Glory is always preceded by suffering. Even Christ Himself had to be rejected before He could be accepted. He asked the travelers on the road to Emmaus:

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory? — Luke 24:26

Peter understood this truth well when he stood before the men who crucified Jesus, looked them in the eye, and boldly interpreted the fulfillment of Psalm 118:22. He proclaimed:

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. — Acts 4:11-12

Suffering comes first, then glory. But when we suffer, we do not agonize as those who are without hope. As fellow heirs with Christ, our eternal reward has been safely secured. It exceeds our greatest anticipations and transforms our darkest hours into “light momentary afflictions” (2 Corin 4:17). As David declared in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

Fellow heirs with Christ.  Romans 8:17

The boundless realms of His Father’s universe belong by right to Christ. As “heir of all things,”1 He is the sole proprietor of the vast creation of God, and He has admitted us to claim it all as ours, by making us His fellow heirs. The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the transcendent bliss, and the unutterable glory are all, by our blessed Lord, made ours for an everlasting possession. All that He has, He shares with His people.

The royal crown He has placed upon the head of His Church, granting her a kingdom, and calling her sons a royal priesthood, a generation of priests and kings. He uncrowned Himself that we might have a coronation of glory; He would not sit upon His own throne until He had procured a place upon it for all who overcome by His blood. Crown the head, and the whole body shares the honor.

Here then is the reward of every Christian conqueror! Christ’s throne, crown, scepter, palace, treasure, robes, heritage are yours. He deems His happiness completed by His people sharing it. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them.”2 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”3

The smiles of His Father are all the sweeter to Him because His people share them. The honors of His kingdom are more pleasing because His people appear with Him in glory. More valuable to Him are His conquests since they have taught His people to overcome. He delights in His throne because on it there is a place for them. He rejoices in His royal robes since they cover His people. He delights all the more in His joy because He calls them to enter into it.

1 Hebrews 1:2, 2 John 17:22, 3 John 15:11

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Devotional

 

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God’s Masterworks

God’s Masterworks

This morning’s Morning and Evening is full of riches. Like spiritual antiseptic, it disinfects the soul with a much needed sting.

Charles Spurgeon, though long-winded, had a knack for communicating volumes through a careful economy of words. He was gifted with the ability to paint images across the mind and stir the affections towards their proper hue. One of my favorite lines from today’s devotional is simply this:

The masterworks of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties steadfast, unmovable.

That sentence alone is worth the price of admission. But once again, Spurgeon directs our gaze to the glories of God’s grace by providing at least 5 reasons for a believer’s afflictions.

  • To know the consolations of divine grace firsthand
  • To reflect honor upon the Gospel itself
  • To illustrate/magnify God’s grace to ourselves and others
  • To prove the power of divine grace through our patience
  • To test our resolve and instill greater confidence in the Spirit’s work

How often do we travel through hard times with these reflections of grace in mind? Not often enough. We are so quick to pray for deliverance and happy endings… how frequently do we slide under the greater lessons of our faith?

Do you find yourself lost in the depths this morning? Look up and see the glorious Christ who saved you! Even the temporary pain that grinds your soul to dust has been designed for your good by a gracious Savior. He has His reasons. You know you can trust Him, so do it… and be amazed at how purposeful, powerful, and faithful our God truly is.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. — Hebrews 10:23

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

My grace is sufficient for you. — 2 Corinthians 12:9

If none of God’s saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has nowhere to lay his head who still can say, “I will trust in the Lord,” or when we see the pauper starving on bread and water who still glories in Jesus, when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction and yet having faith in Christ—oh, what honor it reflects on the Gospel.

God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring—that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace.

There is a lighthouse out at sea: It is a calm night—I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm. The tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand. So with the Spirit’s work: If it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we would not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we would not know how firm and secure it was. The masterworks of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties steadfast, unmovable—

Calm mid the bewildering cry,
Confident of victory.

The one who would glorify his God must be prepared to meet with many trials. No one can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts are many.

If, then, yours is a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will be better able to display the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it—hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now should be trusted to the end.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Graces in the Dark

Graces in the Dark

This morning’s Morning and Evening is a beautifully written reminder that trials serve a greater purpose in the exercise of our faith. Spurgeon provides striking illustrations of glowworms, stars, and soldiers. In each case, today’s thesis is simply this: real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.

At the center of this morning’s devotional, an interesting question is thrown onto the table.

It was only a little while ago that on your knees you were saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith. Let me know that I have faith.” Were you not really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials?

The answer to that one is easy. No, Charles, I wasn’t. That’s absurd. But then he answers the question with another question…

For how can you know that you have faith until your faith is exercised?

Oh… yeah… there is that. Thankfully we have a good and gracious Savior who sympathizes with our weakness. He will not give us more than we are able to bear, nor fail to redeem those who belong to Him. When the darkness comes, it is not because evil won the fight that day… Take heart! Even the darkness has its uses in the hands of a sovereign God.

Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

* * * * *

…you contend against me. — Job 10:2

Perhaps, weary soul, the Lord is doing this to develop your graces. There are some of your graces that would never be discovered if it were not for your trials. Do you not know that your faith never looks as good in summer as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glowworm, showing but little light unless it is surrounded by darkness.

Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His children’s graces, to make them shine brighter. It was only a little while ago that on your knees you were saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith. Let me know that I have faith.” Were you not really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials? For how can you know that you have faith until your faith is exercised? Depend upon it—God often sends us trials so that our graces may be discovered and that we may be convinced of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery; real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.

God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and subjecting them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many long miles with heavy backpacks of sorrow. Well, Christian, may this not account for the troubles through which you are passing? Is the Lord bringing out your graces and making them grow? Is it for this reason He contends with you?

Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Devotional

 

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