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Models for Combating Discouragement Our WORD for Sunday - 10/11/2015 - John Piper
Literally the verb is simply fail: “My flesh and my heart fail!” I am despondent! I am discouraged! But then immediately he fires a broadside against his despondency: “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
The psalmist does not yield. He battles unbelief with counterattack.
In essence, he says, “In myself I feel very weak and helpless and unable to cope. My body is shot and my heart is almost dead. But whatever the reason for this despondency, I will not yield. I will trust God and not myself. He is my strength and my portion.”
The Bible is replete with instances of saints struggling with sunken spirits. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” This is a clear admission that the soul of the saint sometimes needs to be revived. And if it needs to be revived, in a sense it was “dead.”
David says the same thing in Psalm 23:2–3, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” The soul of the “man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) needs to be restored.
It was dying of thirst and ready to fall exhausted, but God led the soul to water and gave it life again.
God has put these testimonies in the Bible so that we might use them to fight the unbelief of despondency.
The Only True Freedom
Our WORD for Friday - 10/09/2015 - John Piper
What is true freedom? Are you free?
If you don't have the desire to do a thing, you are not fully free to do it. Oh, you may muster the will power to do what you don't want to do, but nobody calls that full freedom. It's not the way we want to live. There is a constraint and pressure on us that we don't want. And if you have the desire to do something, but no ability to do it, you are not free to do it. And if you have the desire and the ability to do something, but no opportunity to do it, you are not free to do it. And if you have the desire to do something, and the ability to do it, and the opportunity to do it, but it destroys you in the end, you are not fully free — not free indeed.
To be fully free, we must have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make us happy forever. No regrets. And only Jesus, the Son of God who died and rose for us, can make that possible.
If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.
We Wait, He WorksOur WORD For Thursday- 10/08/2015 - John Piper
Only a few things have gripped me with greater joy than the truth that God loves to show his God-ness by working for me, and that his working for me is always before and under and inany working I do for him.
At first it may sound arrogant of us, and belittling to God, to say that he works for us. But that’s only because of the connotation that I am an employer and God needs a job. That’s not the connotation when the Bible talks about God’s working for us. As in: “God works for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).
The proper connotation of saying God works for me is that I am bankrupt and need a bailout. I am weak and need someone strong. I am endangered and need a protector. I am foolish and need someone wise. I am lost and need a Rescuer.
“God works for me” means I can’t do the work.
And this glorifies him not me. The Giver gets the glory. The Powerful One gets the praise.
Read and be freed from the burden of bearing your own load. Let him do that work.
“No eye has seen a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4) “God is not served by human hands as though he needed anything, but he himself gives life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “The eyes of the LORD run through the earth, to show himself strong for those who trust him” (2 Chronicles. 16:9). “If I were hungry, I wouldn't tell you. Call on me, I will deliver you. You will glorify me” (Psalm 50:15). “To old age I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4). “I worked harder than any, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians. 15:10). “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). “Whoever serves, let him serve by the strength God supplies, so that in everything God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11). “Work out your own salvation, for it is God who works in you, to will and to work” (Philippians 2:12–13). “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6–7).
The Happy God Our WORD for Wednesday - 10/07/2015 - John Piper
A great part of God’s glory is His happiness and joy.
It was inconceivable to the apostle Paul that God could be denied infinite joy and still be all glorious. To be infinitely glorious was to be infinitely happy. He used the phrase, “the glory of the happy (blessed) God,” because it is a glorious thing for God to be as happy as He is.
God’s glory consists much in the fact that He is happy beyond our wildest imagination.
This is the gospel: “The gospel of the glory of the happy God.” It is good news that God is gloriously happy.
No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God. If God is unhappy then the goal of the gospel is not a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all.
But, in fact, Jesus invites us to spend eternity with a happy God when He says, “Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). Jesus lived and died that His joy — God’s joy — might be in us and our joy might be full (John 15:11; 17:13). Therefore the gospel is “the gospel of the glory of the happy God.”
. . . The happiness of God is first and foremost a happiness in His Son. Thus when we share in the happiness of God we share in the very pleasure that the Father has in the Son.
This is why Jesus made the Father known to us. At the end of his great prayer in John 17, He said to His Father, “I made known to them Your Name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (verse 26). He made God known so that God’s pleasure in His Son might be in us, and become our pleasure.
Justice Will Be DoneA WORD for Tuesday - 10/06/2015 - John Piper
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
All of you have been wronged at one time or another. Most of you, probably, have been wronged seriously by someone who has never apologized or done anything sufficient to make it right.
And one of the deep hindrances to your letting that hurt and bitterness go is the conviction — the justified conviction — that justice should be done, that the fabric of the universe will unravel if people can just get away with horrible wrongs and deceive everyone.
That is one of the hindrances to forgiveness and letting grudges go. It’s not the only one. We have our own sin to deal with. But it is a real one.
We feel that just to let it go would be to admit that justice simply won’t be done. And we can’t do it.
So we hold on to anger, and play the story over and over again with the feelings: It shouldn’t have happened; it shouldn’t have happened; it was wrong; it was wrong. How can he be so happy now when I am so miserable? It is so wrong. It is so wrong!
This word in Romans 12:19 is given to you by God to lift that burden from you.
“Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” What does this mean for you?
Laying down the burden of anger, laying down the practice of nursing your hurt with feelings of being wronged — laying that down — does not mean there was no great wrong against you.
It does not mean there is no justice. It does not mean you will not be vindicated. It does not mean they just got away with it. No.
It means, when you lay down the burden of vengeance, God will pick it up.
This is not a subtle way of getting revenge. This is a way of giving vengeance to the one to whom it belongs.
It is taking a deep breath, perhaps for the first time in decades, and feeling like now at last you may be free to love.