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Learning To Endure (via David Powlison)

David Powlison on the fact that learning some spiritual disciplines can only happen by going through a protracted painful pathway.
A couple of quotes:

There’s no way you’re ever going to learn endurance without having to keep on going through something hard that doesn’t go away. There’s no way you’re ever going to learn forbearance without having to face something that you really wish you didn’t have to, and you need to somehow come to grips with it.
It is actually the way that we learn the most profound and the best lessons that we could ever learn. It’s where faith, love, and joy are most profoundly formed.

read the whole transcript (or watch the video) here.

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Real Self-Control Doesn’t Come From You (via David Prince)

A self-control that comes from within will not last, and only feeds the very emotions that eventually lead to loss of control.
Only the self-control that comes from God will show the fruit of his presence in our lives.
That’s the self-control I need.
From David Prince.

The writer of Proverbs asserts, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov 25:28). Paul points men to the example of athletes, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.” He explains, “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Biblical self-control is exercised in the pursuit of a higher goal. Self-control is never purposeless or merely self-referential. Paul exhorted Titus, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people training us to … live self-controlled, … in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Believers are trained in self-control by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Biblical self-control does not fixate on self, but rather fixates on God and his glory. Self-control is described as a fruit of the Spirit of God (Gal 5:23) and its opposite is gratifying of “the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).
Counterfeit self-control is rooted in pride, it glories in and is governed by the self-justifying, fleshly feeling of being in absolute control. It is an idolatrous mirage. Freedom in Christ is not the autonomous liberty to cast off all restraint because that is bondage—not freedom.

Read the whole post here.

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Repentance – Hearing The Call To Return Home (via Trevin Wax)

The call to repent is a call to acknowledge I’m going the wrong way.
It’s not a punishment, it’s a gracious invitation to stop, turn and come home.
It’s a bittersweet familiar companion.
There’s a grief of heart that comes from the conviction of wrong, a grief of heart that is amplified when offence to God and hurt caused to others (whether intentional or unintentional) is acknowledged.
But ultimately there’s also a sense of relief and anticipation.
Home is a wonderful place.
It will be good to be there again.
I’m on my way.

Trevin Wax writes how repentance can never set against grace, because it is intrinsic to experiencing grace.

The call to repentance is the call to return home. It’s the call to be refreshed by our tears. It’s the call to be cleansed from all our guilty stains. We need the scalpel of the Spirit to do surgery on our diseased hearts, so that we can be restored to spiritual health.

Full article here.

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Preposterous Blessings (via Winn Collier)

Winn Collier writes about the beatitudes as encouragements for those at the margins rather than a recipe of ‘be this and get that’.
To assure us that in the kingdom, we should never be undone by finding ourselves at the margins.
From the post:

The life Jesus announces really does turn everything topsy-turvy. Jesus passes blessings (well-being) on exactly the opposite of those we consider blessed. The Beatitudes pronounce the shocking reality that the precise people we assume at the bottom of the pile are actually at the center of God’s abundance. These blessings are what God does, what Jesus makes possible in ways that were impossible before.
And while these blessings do not unravel a litmus test for “what it takes to get God’s blessing” (for example, no one’s suggesting we should go out looking for persecution), it’s subversively true that we need not fear these places of deprivation or vulnerability because when we’re most at risk, we have confidence that God is with us in that risky place. So when calamity visits us (persecution) or when we courageously obey Jesus (by being merciful, for instance, to those who we think deserve no mercy at all), we don’t need to fear.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 10

Heidelberg Catechism – Lords’ Day 10

Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby he still upholds, as it were by his own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.

Q. What advantage comes from acknowledging God’s creation and providence?
A. We learn that we are to be patient in adversity, grateful in the midst of blessing, and to trust our faithful God and Father for the future, assured that no creature shall separate us from his love, since all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they cannot even move.

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The Slow Burn Of Bitterness (via Nancy Guthrie)

No one starts out with the intention of becoming bitter, writes Nancy Guthrie. To get there involves and accumulative process of gathering the hurts that will fuel a fire that will never stop burning.
Guthrie tells of her own experience:

No one ever says, “When I grow up, I want to be bitter.” But life has a way of handing us hurts that can collect, insults and offenses that seem to stick to our souls and refuse to let go. Of course, we don’t want to see ourselves as bitter. And yet, when the word “forgiveness” comes up, we sometimes find ourselves becoming uncomfortable. We sense we’re about to be asked to do something we really don’t want to do. A face comes into view in our mind’s eye. A fire reignites inside us at the thought of what happened or what didn’t happen, what was said or what went unsaid, revealing that there are embers of unforgiveness smoldering inside us that threaten to burn forever if they are not doused for good.
But how will that ever happen? I can tell you how it happened for me.

Read the rest of the article at Tabletalk.

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The Comforting Church (via Christina Fox)

True Gospel comfort is meant to be shared.
From Christina Fox at the Gospel Coalition:

This story of gospel comfort in 2 Corinthians reminds us that we’re all united to Christ, and that when he is at work in one of us, it affects all of us. God’s grace multiplies as it works through the life of a local church.
The comfort God gives, however, isn’t for us alone. We can’t hoard it. The ways the gospel has changed us must be shared; the truth of who Christ is and what he has done must be voiced.
Based on this truth, the comfort we give to one another in the church isn’t the “you can do it” and “everything will be okay” comfort of the world. No, this comfort is honest about sin and its effects. It doesn’t sugarcoat or wish things away. Instead, it seeks hope and help outside of our own strength and in the only One who can save. It’s grounded in the glad news of who Christ is and what he descended to do.
What does such comfort look like in the church?

  • When the Spirit helps us put sin to death, we share that joy with other believers so they too can rejoice in the gospel’s power at work.
  • When we’ve endured a season in which God met us in our pain, we share it with other believers so they too can see God’s faithfulness.
  • When God provides what we need in the eleventh hour, we share that joy so others can know that God is Jehovah-Jireh, our provider.

When God strengthens us in weakness, when he heals and brings redemption, when he teaches us through discipline—in all these ways and more—we share that comfort for another’s spiritual good.
May our friendships in the church be unique. May they be marked by gospel comfort. And just as Paul, Titus, and the Corinthians experienced God’s comfort, may the gospel come full circle in our own churches as we witness and testify together to what our King has done.