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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

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The Christian’s hope is further bolstered by knowing that our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). Owen wrote, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, hath the weight of the whole creation upon his hand, and disposeth of it by his power and wisdom. Such is the nature and condition of the universe, that it could not subsist a moment, nor could anything in it act regularly unto its appointed end, without the continual support, guidance, influence, and disposal of the Son of God.

Therefore, Sedgwick said, we are not to vex our minds with anxiety about our condition in this world (Matt. 6:28; 1 Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:5–6). Perhaps the means by which we hoped to attain our goals seem impotent. But we must remember that the means are but pipes, whereas God is the fountain; they are mere instruments in His hands. It is not the doctor who heals you, but God who heals you through the doctor. God often works through unlikely means to draw our trust away from what we tend to depend upon and to show us that our blessings truly are gifts from the sovereign God. (Emphasis added)

Beeke, Joel R.; Jones, Mark (2012-10-14). A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Kindle Locations 6790-6800). Kindle Edition.

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Jon Bloom has written a tremendous year-end article for anyone who has experienced any kind of sadness, hardship or suffering.

Please read it and be blessed.

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In the same way, you might go through crosses and losses and cancer and sickness and family trouble and you might be treated unfairly and you might have your name smeared, but the good news is that you are going to go through all of that, get to Heaven and say, “It was WORTH IT!” No one will ever say, “I went through that for THIS? The message of the Christian life is not you become a believer and then it’s champagne and roses after that. The message is, you become a believer, and you will have to swim upstream against the current of the world. It will be hard, it will be painful, but it is worth it!

Pastor Jason Meyer, He Will Be a Risen King! Victorious Over the Last Enemy, delivered December 15, 2012.

His entire sermon was very helpful.  But if you only have ten minutes, go to 36:36 on this sermon, and let his closing remarks on interpreting pain make your heart soar at the incredible goodness and mercy – and future hope we have – in Jesus Christ, including these final words:

If you are justified, you are as good as glorified because there is no fall out in this “golden chain” of God’s grace. No one can snatch you out of your Father’s hand. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how strong your grip is on your father’s hand. It matters how strong your Father’s grip is on your hand. We rest in the glorious knowledge of his resurrection.

I call you to remember the Resurrection. Look at the pain, the shame, and the injustice in the face and say, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death. Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave. O death where is your sting. O grave where is your victory. O church, come stand in the light the glory of God has defeated the night! The cross gives you a place to take the pain—the Resurrection points to a time when God will take all the pain and injustice and make it stop because he will make it right.

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Do not think, because you experience adversity, that the hand of the Lord is shortened. It is not our prosperity but our holiness that he seeks with all his heart. And to that end, he rules the whole world. As Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

He is a big God for little people, and we have great cause to rejoice that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.

John Piper, Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, p. 8.

This is a great set of short readings for every day of Advent and is available for free download at Desiring God.  You can still make this season of Advent special in your family!  I highly recommend it.

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Beeke’s and Jones’ conclusion to their chapter on providence was just too good not to share in its entirety:

The Puritan writings on providence are easy to read, yet they are deeply thought provoking. They are biblically focused, yet they throb with a sense of God’s ongoing activity. They are rigorously Reformed, yet they are wonderfully sensitive to human pain. They were written for people living in a time of social, political, and religious upheaval in the seventeenth century. They were written for people who knew a great deal of the angst that we moderns often mistakenly view as peculiarly modern or even postmodern. The Puritan writings also apply to people in the twenty-first century who suffer massive change. More than that, they spell out clearly some biblical principles that Christians today desperately need to hear:

• God is in control of His universe.
• God is working out His perfect purposes, also in my life.
• God is not my servant.
• God’s ways are far more mysterious and wonderful than I can understand.
• God is always good; I can always trust Him.
• God’s timetable is not the same as mine.
• God is far more interested in what I become than in what I do.
• Freedom from suffering is not promised in the Christian gospel.
• Suffering is an integral part of the Christian life.
• God works through suffering to fulfill His purposes in me.
• God’s purposes, not mine, are what bring Him glory.
• God enables me to read His providences through the lens of His Word.
• I have few greater pleasures than tracing the wonders of God’s ways.

No wonder, then, that Sedgwick admonishes us with the words of Psalm 37:5: “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” The God of the Bible, the God of sovereign providence, He alone is worthy of such trust.

Beeke, Joel R.; Jones, Mark (2012-10-14). A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Kindle Location 6876-6894).  Kindle Edition.

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On Friday Tim Keller tweeted a recommendation by Pastor John for a fabulous book significantly discounted at Amazon, which I bought.

As is my habit, I looked over the table of contents and went to a chapter of interest rather than start at the beginning.  I could have quoted the entire chapter on providence, it was that good and helpful:

But what are we to do when the providences of God seem to conflict with His promises?

First, we must learn how to resist discouragement. God is teaching us patience. It may not yet be God’s time to act, or He may be delaying to increase our appetite for the blessing for which we long.

What are we to do?

We must remember that He is bringing about a greater blessing: our willingness to depend entirely on God and His good pleasure.

Our loving Father delights to come to us when we are at the end of our own resources. Perhaps we are not yet ready to receive the blessing. If all His mercies are of grace and we do not deserve them, we must learn to wait for them.

Beeke, Joel R.; Jones, Mark (2012-10-14). A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Kindle Locations 6849-6853). Kindle Edition.

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And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:15-16 ESV)

This is a universal call to peace and thankfulness – not just in and during circumstances that are pleasant.  Dr. Mark Talbot explains why even suffering is something for which we can praise God:

We must come to see through the illusion that life’s ordinary pleasures are enough for us.

And this is another part of what significant and chronic suffering can do: when our lives begin to be significantly and perhaps rather consistently unpleasant, our quest for life’s ordinary pleasures tends to lose its appeal and our Lord’s declaration that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” may begin to strike home (Luke 12:15; see, e.g., Ps. 107:17-20).

Moreover, the new taste of the new creature in Christ – the taste, that is, for God himself and thus for the “hidden treasure of the holy joy” that alone can satisfy our deepest desires – tends to grow as we lose taste for merely mundane satisfactions.

Pain often affords us our first real taste for the things of God.

Mark Talbot, “When All Hope Has Died: Meditations on Profound Christian Suffering,” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor, p. 84.

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Our video team has had more on their plates than normal, but they are working hard to get the videos from Desiring God’s conference, The Works of God: God’s Good Design in Disability, available on the web.

I am grateful for the many emails and direct messages asking about them.  I’m ready to share them myself!  It could be as early as later today.  If that’s the case I’ll post again here and on twitter.

In the meantime, Pastor John tweeted an interesting quote that got me looking for its context:

“There are hard texts in the works, as well as the word of God.” Flavel

It comes from John Flavel‘s book, Divine Conduct; or The Mystery of Providence, first published in 1678.  The section below comes from pages 155 and 156. Emphasis in bold is mine:

Pry not too curiously into the secrets of Providence, nor suffer your shallow reason to judge and censure its designs.

There are hard texts in the works, as well as in the word of God. It becomes us modestly and humbly to reverence, but not to dogmatize boldly and positively upon them. “When I thought to know this,” says Asaph, “it was too wonderful for me.” “I thought to know this;” there was the arrogant attempt of reason, there he pryed into the arcana of Providence; but “it was too wonderful for me,” it was a useless labor. He pryed so far into that mystery, the afflictions of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked, till it begat envy towards them, and despondency in himself; and this was all that he got by summoning Providence to the bar of reason.

I know that there is nothing in the word or in the works of God which is repugnant to sound reason; but there are some things in both, which are opposite to carnal reason, as well as above right reason; and therefore our reason never shows itself more unreasonable, than in summoning those things to its bar, which transcend its sphere and capacity. Manifold are the mischiefs which ensure from this practice. By this we are drawn into an unworthy suspicion and distrust of the faithfulness of God in the promises. Hence comes despondency of mind, and faintness of heart under afflictive providences. Hence flow temptations to deliver ourselves by indirect and sinful means.

Beware, therefore, that you lean not too much to your own understanding. Nothing is more plausible, nothing more dangerous.

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I’m reading through a little book handed to me at the disability conference last week and came across several prayers like this one (emphasis in bold is mine):

How to Pray for Your Spouse

If you are the wage earner and your spouse is doing much of the caretaking, the most helpful thing you can do is pray without ceasing. Lift this spouse up in prayer constantly. . . Thank God for your spouse’s willingness to take care of your family while you are away. Be thankful for this partner.

Jeff and Erin Miller, Forever & Always, No Matter What: A Story of Marriage, Autism and God’s Glory, pp. 41-42.

Amen!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

I’m still working my way through this book, mostly because they caught my attention right on the first page of introduction: “This book is written primarily to help you face autism in a way that glorifies God.”

Now that’s a good reason to write a book!

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