Thinking Theology: A Q&A with Dr. John MacArthur, Day 6

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Today’s reading is drawn from 2 Thessalonians 1:4.

What should a believer’s attitude be toward suffering?

In 2 Thessalonians 1:4, Paul speaks of the “patience and faith” of the Thessalonians. Nowhere was their growth in faith and love more evident than in the way they patiently and faithfully endured hostilities and suffering from the enemies of Christ. Although there was no need to speak, since the Thessalonians’ lives spoke clearly enough (1 Thessalonians 1:8), Paul’s joy before the Lord over their perseverance bubbled up.

Having a right attitude toward suffering (v. 5) is essential, and that required attitude is concern for the kingdom of God. They were not self-centered but concentrated on God’s kingdom. Their focus was not on personal comfort, fulfillment, and happiness, but on the glory of God and the fulfillment of His purposes. They were not moaning about the injustice of their persecutions. Rather, they were patiently enduring the sufferings they did not deserve (v. 4). This very attitude was “manifest evidence” or positive proof that God’s wise process of purging, purifying, and perfecting through suffering was working to make His beloved people worthy of the kingdom (2:12) by being perfected (James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 5:10).

For believers, afflictions are to be expected (1 Thessalonians 3:3) as they live and develop Christian character in a satanic world. Suffering is not to be thought of as evidence that God has forsaken them, but as evidence that He is with them, perfecting them (Matthew 5:10; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 12:10). So the Thessalonians demonstrated that their salvation, determined by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, was genuine because they, like Christ, were willing to suffer on account of God and His kingdom. They suffered unjustly as objects of man’s wrath against Christ and His kingdom (Acts 5:41; Phillippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24).

 

 

Streams in the Desert, Day 6

Today’s reading is drawn from Nehemiah 8:10.

Day 6

Anxiety should never be found in a believer. In spite of the magnitude, quantity, and diversity of our trials, afflictions, and difficulties, anxiety should not exist under any circumstances.

This is because we have a Father in heaven who is almighty, who loves his children as he loves his “one and only Son” (John 3:16), and whose complete joy and delight it is to continually assist them under all circumstances. We should heed his Word, which says, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” [Nehemiah 8:10].

… We are to take everything to God—little things, very little things, even what the world calls trivial things … living all day long in holy fellowship with our heavenly Father and our precious Lord Jesus. We should develop something of a spiritual instinct, causing us to immediately turn to God when a concern keeps us awake at night. During those sleepless nights, we should speak to him, bringing our various concerns before him, no matter how small they may be. Also, speak to the Lord about any trial you are facing or any difficulties you may have in your family or professional life.

… Even if we have no possessions, there is one thing for which we can always be [joyful]—that he has saved us from hell. We can also give thanks that he has given us his holy Word, his Holy Spirit, and the most precious gift of all—his Son. Therefore when we consider all this, we have abundant reasons for [joy].

May this be our goal!

From Life of Trust by George Mueller

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Ragamuffin Reflections from Brennan Manning, Day 6

Today’s reading is drawn from Jeremiah 1:1-19.

 

Never Too Young

 

The prophet Jeremiah is a striking example of the Biblical paradox that surrender means victory, that in losing our life we find it. (Jesus Christ identifies with Jeremiah more than any other prophet and quotes him most frequently.) In the year 625 BC, the Lord summoned Jeremiah to a prophetic career. Jeremiah’s immediate response was reluctance. “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” he said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). He was nineteen at the time. Jeremiah was not the confident, self-assured type like Amos or Isaiah. Sensitive, accustomed to the quiet of small-town life, he was temperamentally unsuited for public life and the harsh treatment that is the customary “reward of the prophets.”

Timid and afraid, Jeremiah had no ambition for such a mission. In no way did he want to preach God’s Word to his fellow Israelites. Nothing pleased him more than to be Mr. Nobody, ignored by the ruling clique of royal counselors and priests. How content he would have been to live in the tiny world of his own heart. And so he remonstrated with God, “Ah, Lord God. I am only a boy.” Each of us can sympathize because Jeremiah is every man and every woman.

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The Two-Year Wait, Day 6

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Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 24:27 and Genesis 39:19-23.

Observation

Joseph had been falsely accused and thrown into prison, forgotten and discarded (see Genesis 39:19 – 23). But after this forgotten season, he emerged to be made second-in-command to Pharaoh.

There must have been some reason God did the same with Paul, factoring into the cadence of the apostle’s life a break, a rest, a long caesura of two years in prison.

I am sure that Paul, like Joseph, spent long evenings in the hollow prison cell thinking of all the things he could accomplish if he were free to do what he wanted to. I’ll bet he fought going stir-crazy. Paul was not a laid back or passive person. He was entrepreneurial and an initiator. I’m sure he struggled with the Divine Conductor’s timing of this song, which so affected his life. Yet Paul had to wait.

Application

There have been times when I have wondered why I was on “hold” — my prayers not answered and my desires left unfulfilled. Some things that I have prayed for never materialized. God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to answer my frantic prayers. He doesn’t drop everything and rush to fulfill my desires.

I am realizing that I am not as mature as I thought. I am not as patient as I thought. I am not as wise, not as thoughtful, not as strong. Our Divine Conductor knows the timing of our growth. God is building things in me and knows how long it will take for me to develop the qualities necessary to survive my own prayers.

I, like Joseph and Paul, must learn to be patient. I cannot rush into the future. Neither can I hurry God’s timing for a certain score. If I do, the music turns sour and its beauty will be compromised. I wait for the proper timing.

Prayer

Dear Father, thank you for your timing. My willingness to be patient is a part of my trust and my faith — not in the music, but in the Conductor. I put my trust in you.