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True Piety Is Not Self-Centered (via Hywel Jones)

The experience of Job recounts a faithful and human expression of trust in God through a time of great suffering and confusion.
Hywel Jones points out that we should be encouraged to know that God was not an inactive party throughout Satan’s assault on Job, and that after Job’s vindication there is a touching example of true graciousness toward those who had been part of Job’s affliction by their error:

…it might seem as if Job is left unaided in his struggle with the powers of darkness. That is not the case. The Lord boasts of him to Satan and has his eye on him all the time. Throughout his struggle Job is graciously, though unconsciously, supported by God, and occasionally he is given some glimmers of light as he pioneers his way toward God. His very persistence in addressing God by way of appeal and accusation and also arguing with his friends and rejecting their counsel is a manifestation of his being upheld by God. It is not only dark thoughts that spring up in the mind unbidden, but also thoughts that inspire hope, even if it is only faint hope. Finally and climactically, when he is sure that he is about to die, he is given to know that his “kinsman-redeemer lives,” who will ensure that Job will see God again on his side. This is a sovereign intervention in a situation where Satan seems dominant. It is, as James says, great compassion.
Job has found solid ground under his feet. His outlook clears and he sees that the argument of his friends—that suffering is always traceable to sin—is a paper tiger, for the wicked do not always suffer (chapter 24). He gains the ascendancy in the argument and reduces his friends, and with them Satan the accuser, to silence. Job triumphs over Satan for God and godliness.
God therefore had his own purpose in allowing Satan to test Job. This is what James calls “the end of the Lord.” It is to show great compassion and mercy and to bless Job more than he had previously done. When the Lord appears, it is to judge and to save as James declares (5:9 and 11). He humbles Job for his outspokenness but still owns him as he did before the trials began, calling him “my servant.” Surprisingly, God says that Job had spoken what is right about him, whereas the friends had not.
This probably refers to the issue that is at the center of the debate between Job and his friends, namely whether God is punishing Job on account of his sin or not. God says that Job is not a hypocrite, and God further exalts Job by telling the friends to go to him as to a priest and that he will accept Job’s prayer for them. It is striking that Job prays for them before he is restored, and that it is as he prays for them that he himself is restored. True piety is not self-centered.

Read the whole post at Core Christianity.


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Looking At Problems From Heaven’s Perspective (via Joni Eareckson Tada)

Joni Eareckson Tada is well known as a Christian how ministers from a life experience as a paraplegic.
In an article taken from her book Heaven she recounts a situation where, after another painful physical therapy situation, she hears a question, and responds:

“I bet you can’t wait for heaven. You know, like Paul said, ‘We groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling’” (2 Cor. 5:2).
My eyes dampened again, but this time they were tears of relief. “Yeah, it’ll be great.”
In that moment, I sat and dreamed what I’ve dreamed of a thousand times: the hope of heaven. I recited 1 Corinthians 15 (“The perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable”), mentally rehearsed a flood of other promises, and fixed the eyes of my heart on future divine fulfillments. That was all I needed. I opened my eyes and said out loud, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
This experience often occurs two or three times a week. Physical affliction and emotional pain are, frankly, part of my daily routine. But these hardships are God’s way of helping me to get my mind on the hereafter. And I don’t mean the hereafter as a death wish, psychological crutch, or escape from reality—I mean it as the true reality.
Looking down on my problems from heaven’s perspective, trials looked extraordinarily different. When viewed from below, my paralysis seems like a huge, impassable wall, but when viewed from above, the wall appears as a thin line, something that can be overcome. It is, I’ve discovered with delight, the bird’s-eye view found in Isaiah 40:31: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Read the whole post at Christianity Today.


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Suffering Is Never Alone (via Paul Tripp)

Paul Tripp reflects on his own season of chronic illness, a situation that has left him with ongoing physical challenges.
The greatest challenge though, is not physical, it is spiritual.

You never come to your suffering empty-handed. You always drag a bag full of experiences, expectations, assumptions, perspectives, desires, intentions, and decisions into your suffering. What you think about yourself, life, God, and others will profoundly affect the way you interact with and respond to the difficulty that comes your way.
This is why the writer of Proverbs says: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
What are you carrying around in your soul that has the potential to complicate your suffering? What are you preaching to yourself that could allow you to forget the truths of the gospel?
Never forget: No matter what painful thing you’re enduring, as God’s child, it’s impossible for you to endure it all by yourself.

read the rest at Paul Tripp


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God’s Grace In Your Suffering

God’s Grace In Your Suffering is newly released from the reliable David Powlison.

It is a short read, with eight chapters representing daily reading material.


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There Is No Future In Frustration (via Don Carson)

Don Carson recalls a difficult conversation with a senior Christian in Sydney Australia.
Not difficult because of its content, but difficult because of the physical condition of the person to whom he was speaking.
The content of the conversation was saturated in glory.
An excerpt:

Here, then, is a philosophy of suffering, a perspective that ties it both to the salvation we now enjoy and to the consummation of that salvation when the glory of God is fully revealed. Like the discipline of physical training, suffering produces perseverance.
This is not a universal rule, for suffering can evoke muttering and unbelief. But when suffering is mingled with the faith of verses 1–2, and with delight in being reconciled to God, it then produces perseverance. The staying power of our faith is neither demonstrated nor developed until it is tested by suffering.
But as perseverance mushrooms, “character” is formed. The word character suggests “provedness,” the kind of maturity that is attained by being “proved” or “tested,” like a metal refined by fire. And as character or “provedness” is formed, hope blossoms: our anticipation of the glory of God (verse 2) is nurtured and strengthened.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

40.
Q. Why did Christ have to suffer death?
A. Because the righteousness and truth of God are such that nothing else could make reparation for our sins except the death of the Son of God.

41.
Q. Why was he “buried”?
A. To confirm the fact that he was really dead.

42.
Q. Since, then, Christ died for us, why must we also die?
A. Our death is not a reparation for our sins, but only a dying to sin and an entering into eternal life.

43.
Q. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
A. That by his power our old self is crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil passions of our mortal bodies may reign in us no more, but that we may offer ourselves to him as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

44.
Q. Why is there added: “He descended into hell”?
A. That in my severest tribulations I may be assured that Christ my Lord has redeemed me from hellish anxieties and torment by the unspeakable anguish, pains, and terrors which he suffered in his soul both on the cross and before.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 15

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 15

37.
Q. What do you understand by the word “suffered”?
A. That throughout his life on Earth, but especially at the end of it, he bore in body soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race, so that by his suffering, as the only expiatory sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from ever lasting damnation, and might obtain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.

38.
Q. Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as his judge?
A. That he, being innocent, might be condemned by an earthly judge, and thereby set us free from the judgment of God which, in all its severity, ought to fall upon us.

39.
Q. Is there something more in his having been crucified than if he had died some other death?
A. Yes, for by this I am sure that he took upon himself the curse which lay upon me, because the death of the cross was cursed by God.