[God] gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:6–8)
If you’re going to be a true Christian, it will be a lonely life. It’s a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower.
Is the world crucified to you or does it fascinate you?
The world has lost the power to blush over its vice and the church has lost her power to weep over it.
The early church was married to poverty, prisons, and persecution; today the church is married to pleasure, prosperity, personality, and popularity.
The only people who want to change the gospel are those who are unchanged by the gospel.
How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don’t have the strength to turn off your TV or computer?
– Leonard Ravenhill
I remember group projects in high school and college. They normally did not go well. Either a brainiac, an egomaniac, or a sluggard usually messed things up. Too many people contributing to one common project caused things to just not be as good as if one person is doing a project.
The reality is, most people think that becoming a Christian is a joint project–they contribute all they can and Jesus finishes the job. They have to contribute something since Jesus died for their salvation. They must do their part and Jesus then does His part. Yes, His part may be bigger and more, but still, I’ve got to contribute at least something to make it sufficient.
But let’s be fully clear about what salvation is not.
— Salvation is not a group project
— Salvation is not a joint effort
— Salvation is not a 50/50 deal
— Salvation is not 2 colleagues both contributing something
— Salvation is not a team effort
— Salvation is not a partnership
— Salvation is not a shared labor
— Salvation is not like a doubles team in tennis
— Salvation is not me trying hard to get better and Jesus helping me improve
Salvation is all of grace with no self-contribution that to some degree, helps, adds to, secures, or improves our acceptability with God.
The only thing that merits anything is Christ’s worth and righteousness, and not anything about us. We indeed must come to Him, but that faith is not meritorious, but rather is simply the means of receiving forgiveness and acceptance. Our faith doesn’t earn anything; it is just how we come empty-handed to receive freely from Christ.
There is absolutely nothing whatsoever we can contribute to help Christ save us. All we give is our sin and our sinful hearts. We only receive, we don’t contribute.
I wonder when people will finally get it. Salvation is all of the Lord or it is not anything. This adds new meaning to Jesus’ words: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
– Mack Tomlinson
You never just suffer the thing that you’re suffering, but you always also suffer the way that you’re suffering that thing.
Let me explain what I mean by that phrase, through the experience of my sickness.
In 2014, I went to see a doctor with what felt like minor symptoms. Before I knew what was happening, they admitted me to the hospital for what became an excruciatingly painful ten-day stay.
The abbreviated story is that I was in acute kidney failure, and had I waited another seven to ten days to go to the hospital, you probably wouldn’t be receiving my weekly email devotional.
Four years and six surgeries later, my symptoms are as manageable as possible, but I have been left a physically damaged man.
I learned and was reminded of many things through my suffering. Perhaps one of the most significant principles is this: Our suffering is more powerfully shaped by what’s in our heart than by what’s in our body or the world around us.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. My suffering was real, the dysfunction in my body was real, the pain I went through was horribly real, the damage to my kidneys is real, and the weakness that is now my normal life will continue to be real.
But the way that I experienced all those harsh realities was shaped by the thoughts, desires, dreams, expectations, cravings, fears, and assumptions of my heart.
Yes, I went into my sickness with my theology in the right place, and I did believe that I lived in a groaning world crying out for redemption, but it was battling with something else inside me.
There was this expectation that I would always be as I had been; that is, that I would always be strong and healthy. There was little room in my life, family, and ministry plans for weakness within or trouble without.
So when I realized I was very ill and that weakness and fatigue would be with me for the rest of my life, the blow was not just physical, but emotional and spiritual as well. Honestly, I didn’t suffer just physical pain, but also the even more profound pain of the death of my delusion of invincibility and the pride of productivity.
The same is true for you. Your responses to the situations in your life, whether physical, relational, or circumstantial, are always more determined by what is inside your heart than by the things you are facing.
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.
The One who created this world and rules it with wisdom, righteousness, and love is in you, with you, and for you, and nothing has the power to separate you from his love.
– Paul David Tripp