Monday, August 09, 2010

A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Part Two

"[Ruth] has set her heart on God for hope and joy. And when a person does that, God's honor - not the value of our work - is at stake, and he will be merciful. If you plead God's value as the source of your hope instead of pleading your value as a reason for God's blessing, then his unwavering commitment to his own glory engages all his heart for your protection and joy." (John Piper. A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE. Crossway Books. p.67)

My hope is in God! It is not in myself and most assuredly not in man (Psalm 118:8)! Honestly speaking, had I placed my hope in man I would have given up long ago. I would have thrown in the towel and waved the white flag of retreat in the good fight.

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love
. (Psalm 147:10-11)

For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
(Psalm 143:11)

whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

John Piper, in his book A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE, reminds me,

"One of the terrible effects of depression is the inability to move purposefully and hopefully into the future. Strategies of righteousness are the overflow of hope....

"One of the reasons we must help each other 'hope in God' (Psalm 42:5) is that only hopeful people, hopeful families, and hopeful churches plan and strategize...." (p.82)

I have run into a few people who have resentment toward the church. And, I know this is a touchy subject so I desire to keep a soft word so as not to stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1). I have heard it said, "The church is just made up of hypocrites," and "All the church does is let people down." Given I do not know the situations from which these comments have been born it is difficult for me to be specific. The best I can do is say this, #1 If you find yourself in disagreement with the pastor and are speaking out against him and/or his leadership then perhaps the church you are attending is not for you. May I suggest prayer and maybe a change in teachers. #2 The church groups are made up of human beings, prisoners of the flesh, both recipients of salvation and those who are not, alike. The possibility of running into "whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23:27) is happens. The "bride" (as mentioned in scripture) consists of followers of Christ (Galatians 2:20), filled with the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26), slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:20-23)...though still bound by the flesh. What's the difference? Faith and grace (Ephesians 2:1-10). If you have been wronged by someone in the body of Christ, possibly they were walking in the flesh at the time (or simply do not completely understand that about which they spoke). Again, may I suggest prayer, Matthew 18:15-20, and they just might come to you asking forgiveness. #3 Take refuge in the Lord rather than trusting in man (Psalm 118:8), commune with Him, and spend time each day in God's word to better grasp His character and instructions. That is my two cents for whatever it is worth. :)

"...The life of the godly is not an Interstate through Nebraska but a state road through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. There are rockslides and precipices and dark mists and bears and slippery curves and hairpin turns that make you go backward in order to go forward. But all along this hazardous, twisted road that doesn't let you see very far ahead, there are frequent signs that say, 'The best is yet to come....'

"Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road.... And the point of bible stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns...." (p.101)

"...If we would trust God implicitly, like Ruth, we would find that all our complaints against God are unwarranted. Our providences may be bitter, but God is at work for our good - whether we can see it or not." (p.105)

Walking in the flesh reaps destruction (Galatians 5:19-21) and relying on man instead of God is foolishness, in my opinion. (Not to say God does not use His servants (Psalm 119:91) to fulfill His plan. He provides doctors, counselors, etc. from whom we can get help but ultimately He is the "Great Physician" and "Mighty Counselor". He trumps all.) He calls us to Him. He takes us by the hand and leads us to the cross where we see and are overwhelmed by our need for a Savior. He opens the eyes of our heart so we can witness Him and all His works (Romans 1:20).

"You did not choose me, but I chose you..." (John 15:16).
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