Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Mercy of Rain: Suffering & the Sovereignty of God

The Light of Faith in the Darkness of Pain and Disappointment

There are times when the Lord deepens our faith and we must depend on Him despite the doubts, fears, and uncertainties that plague our aching hearts. Few things are more challenging than trusting God in the midst of His dark providence while holding fast to His goodness and love. The following two songs illustrate such faith…

(1) “I Will Carry You” by Selah speaks of trusting God in the midst of losing a beloved child. The song was written in response to losing an infant during birth and speaks of trusting God with a faith-filled, yet breaking heart that worships Him as the One who gives and takes away, according to His good purposes.

(2) “Blessings” by Laura Story speaks of the blessings that God bestows through pain, and how His mercy comes through raindrops. Every ounce of our pain and sorrow is for a glorious and beautiful purpose that magnifies the greatness of God and serves to accomplish His gracious plan for our lives.

Certainly, it is in the Cross of Christ that we most clearly see God working for our good and His glory, through the dark providence of pain and suffering. Like all things that God does, there is a beautiful purpose behind the sorrow and disappointment. No matter how badly our hearts may grieve over loss and disappointment, the grace of God will one day restore all things… In the meantime, we know that He has promised to be near to the broken-hearted and to save the crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18).

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God of Wonders, King of Kings

God of Wonders, King of Kings

Following World War II, the Allied Forces held a series of military tribunals called the Nuremberg Trials (1945-46). In those hearings, they tried a number of Nazi war criminals who were charged with oppressing their fellow human beings through economic, political, and military means. Most of them were German and had embraced Hitler’s design for world domination and exalting himself and the nation of Germany above all others. While top German officials Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels committed suicide before they could ever stand trial on earth, they were unable to escape the most terrifying trial of all—standing before “the Judge of the Universe” and giving an account for their sin.

In the book of Exodus, we find a similar—though more significant—series of “trials” that resemble a biblical version of the Nuremberg Trials. Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, had exalted himself against God and had been charged with oppressing God’s people with harsh labor. He enslaved them and refused to let them go in order that they might worship and serve the Lord. In response, the Lord raised up Moses to deliver His people and sent him to confront Pharaoh.

In other words, the Lord put Pharaoh on trial. God is the Judge, Pharaoh the guilty party, and Moses the prosecuting attorney who does the interrogation on God’s behalf. God’s method of prosecuting Pharaoh (and Egypt) is through “great acts of judgment” that display His power, a series of plagues that serve to indict Pharaoh and “the gods of Egypt.” Condemned by his sin, Pharaoh refuses to bow himself before the one and only God and King!! In Exodus 7-10, God declares His greatness by displaying His power over Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. He reveals that He is not only the God of Wonders, but He is the King of kings and Lord of lords!! May we respond by humbling ourselves and exalting Him!!

This past Sunday at Christ’s Covenant Church, I preached an overview of the first nine plagues (Exodus 7-10). You can listen to the audio here and read the manuscript here!!

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Matt Harmon: “When the Going Gets Tough”

Dr. Matthew S. Harmon recently preached at Christ’s Covenant Church during our series through Exodus entitled, “From Slavery to Sonship.”

When the Going Gets Tough… (Exodus 6:2-27)

You can find the audio of Matt’s message here.

HT: Biblical Theology

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Ministry: Glorifying God or Glorifying Self?

Ministry provides an interesting opportunity for believers to glorify themselves while appearing to serve God and His people. It’s amazing how subtle the pride and selfishness of our hearts can actually be. Finding our identity in anything or anyone other than God and His gospel work (on our behalf, for HIS glory not ours)–is idolatry, no matter how you slice it.

Robert Barnes, pastor of Dayspring Church, wrote a very insightful, self-evaluation about his tendency to glorify self rather than God:

“…My preaching and writing isn’t much better. Too often, communication is my way to demonstrate what the world should have understood already–that I am extremely smart and spiritual and worthy of being paid and admired. The words I’ve been called to write and speak often speak of humility, of God-sized truths that transcend our tiny space and time, and yet I see in my heart–and on the page–me writing words to glorify… ME!” [1]

The impetus for serving, teaching, preaching, or writing may be “self” rather than God; and yet God is merciful in glorifying Himself and providing our good even in the midst of our sin. Christ is the antidote for the poison of self, as the cross shows us God’s hatred for sin and His love for the sinner. He unleashed His wrath for our self-pity, self-entitlement, self-justification, and self-admiration upon His own beloved Son in order that we might be forgiven, by faith in Him. Talk about a self-less display of love and grace!! God glorifies Himself, even in the midst of our selfishness. Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote: “For every look at self, take ten [no, a thousand] looks at Christ.” Treasuring Christ helps us to glorify God by proclaiming HIS worth (not our own)!! May we learn to use our spiritual gifts (that He gave us) to magnify His greatness, not our own.

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[1] Robert Barnes, “To Whom Be the Glory?” (You can read the entire article here!)

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Every Life Has A Story

Every Life has a Story, yet the Gospel alone is Sufficient for Us

Only a saving knowledge of the power of Christ is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness… (2Peter 1:3):

Praise God that His grace is sufficient for us, no matter the joy or the pain!!

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Marks of True Revival (from OT)

NINE CHARACTERISTICS OF GREAT REVIVALS THROUGHOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT

Wilbur Smith lists nine characteristics of the great revivals:[1]

(1) Most revivals were preceded by a time of deep spiritual decline and despair.

(2) Each of [the ten great OT] revivals began in the heart of one of God’s servants, who then became the instrument in God’s hands to stir up the sleeping consciences of God’s people.

(3) Every revival in the Old Testament rested solidly on a new and powerful proclamation of the Word of God.

(4) Each revival was marked by a return to the genuine worship of Yahweh.

(5) Revivals are preceded by a destruction of every idol that blocked the rightful acknowledgement of Yahweh as the only true and living God.

(6) In each case, there was a deep sense of sin and an overpowering desire to separate themselves from it and from all its sponsoring causes.

(7) In every revival in the Old Testament, there was a likewise a return to the offering of blood sacrifices. In other words, there was a corporate return to the one place of atonement–the Lamb that was slain for the removal of sin.

(8) Old Testament revivals were accompanied by the experience of a new sense of unbounded joy and exuberant gladness.

(9) Each revival was followed by a time a great productivity and prosperity.

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[1] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Revive Us Again: Biblical Principles for Revival Today (Scotland: Christian Focus, 2003), 10-14. Kaiser cites Wilbur M. Smith, The Glorious Revival under King Hezekiah (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1937), vi-vii.

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