God’s Grace in the Deepest Pain

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

Suffering is an undeniable part of being human. Our natural response is at best to survive it and at worst to complain and develop angry and bitter hearts. However as Christians who have been justified through faith in Jesus Christ we not only rejoice in the hope of the glory of God when with glorified bodies we will dwell in the unveiled majesty and splendor of God but we can also rejoice in our sufferings. This is not natural but supernatural grace in which all Christians live and move and have their being. If you have 12 minutes please watch this video below. It is the story of Matthew and Sarah Harms experience of learning to trust God’s goodness and faithfulness through a DEEPLY painful loss. I warn you in advance, you will need a box of tissues, at first to grieve with them but by the end to wipe away tears of hope and joy in God who truly is faithful. Please watch and be encouraged at the hope, grace and strength which God supernaturally provides to all who are trusting his son, the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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I Can’t Believe How Wicked Ahaz Is…(2 Kings 16:1-4)

Ahaz is a wicked king.

He begins his reign at an early age, being only 20 years old (v. 2).

He reigns for 16 years.

16 years of sheer wickedness.

Listen to how he is described:

  • “And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done” (v. 2)
  • “He walked in the way of the kings of Israel” (v. 3)
  • “He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel” (v. 3)
    • This is disturbing. If Ahaz shares in those abominations, will he not share in their judgment?
  • “He sacrificed and made offering on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree” (v. 4)
    • Notice the third person singular pronoun “He.”

This leads to what is perhaps most alarming about Ahaz – there is no mention of the Davidic covenant. In fact, it has been quite some time since we have read of the Davidic promise in regards to Judah.

Recall Abijah in 1 Kings 15 with me.

Here is another wicked king but there we are told, “Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong” (v. 4).

Recall Jehoram in 2 kings 8.

He was wicked but we read “Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendents forever” (v. 19).

For Ahaz, instead of being reminded of the Lord’s promise to David we are reminded of the Lord’s driving out of the nations before the Israelites.

Things do not bode well for Judah.

There is a great gathering of darkness in Judah.

At this point we are tempted to wag our heads and put on our “angry, scornful, self-righteous” eyes and glare at Ahaz in disbelief.

But beware!

Thomas Watson, a Puritan minister of many years ago had this to say:

Take every word as spoken to yourselves. When the word thunders against sin, think thus: ‘God means my sins;’ when it presseth any duty, ‘God intends me in this.’ Many put off Scripture from themselves, as if it only concerned those who lived in the time when it was written; but if you intend to profit by the word, bring it home to yourselves: a medicine will do no good, unless it be applied.

When you read of Ahaz and his sinfulness remember the sovereign God’s description of you:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” Ephesians 2:1-3

The same evil heart that is in Ahaz is in you.

Given the right circumstances, you are just as capable of doing what Ahaz did.

If you fail to realize that then great is your pride.

When you read of how sinful Ahaz was, remember the words of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

There is a great darkness gathering in Judah. There is a great darkness gathering in your heart “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Did you hear how wicked Ahaz is?

Did you hear how wicked Andrew Manwarren is?

Did you hear how wicked you are?

BUT GOD!

“We are more wicked than we ever feared yet more loved than we ever hoped.”

 

 

Why Was I Born In America?

 

Michael Oh:

Have you ever thought about why you were born into your particular circumstances? If you are reading this blog entry you are most likely a Christian whose life has been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. You are also likely relatively wealthy, at least compared to most people living in the world. If you have the ability to eat three times per day and have shelter over your head, you are better off than many people in the world. If you earn $25,000 per year, you are the richest 10% of the world. You are rich. In fact if you earn $2,200 per year you are the richest 15% of the world. If you reading this you are literate and likely had several years of education. If so you have received more education than hundreds of millions of people around the world. Perhaps you have gone to college, even graduate school.

So why? Why you? Why your particular circumstances? There are people around the world who might be asking the same questions. Wondering why they weren’t born in America. Wondering why they can’t eat three times per day, why they don’t have the luxury of throwing food away. Wondering what it would be like to go to school or attend college or even read. Wondering what a warm bed feels like.

You could have been born as an impoverished child in an unreached nation. Perhaps as a girl born into a Muslim family where you would be forbidden to show anything beyond what can be seen through the eye slits of your veil and could be beaten if you disobeyed even the simplest command of your father. You could have been born in a remote village in Vietnam with little food or education and no opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You could have been born as a girl in Africa who will eventually be sold by your parents into sexual slavery. That could have been you.

 

Take 10 minutes to read the rest here!