The good news of the gospel [for sufferers] is not an exhortation from above to 'hang on at all costs,' or 'grin and bear it' in the midst of hardship. No, the good news is that God is hanging on to you, and in the end, when all is said and done, the power of God will triumph over every pain and loss.
I never realized how much I've become dependent on human approval until God took it away. I didn't even realize that I was in a self-made prison of human approval and human acceptance. Most of the prisons we live in we are not conscious of. God showed me Jesus plus nothing equals everything. And everything minus Jesus equals nothing. That set me free.
When we depend on anything smaller than God to provide us with the security, significance, meaning, and value that we long for, God will love us enough to take it away. Much of our anger and bitterness, therefore, is God prying open our hands and taking away something we've held onto more tightly than him.
I grew up in a remarkable home, the middle of seven children. My parents raised us well. They loved us well. We laughed hard growing up. But being the middle child, I couldn't figure out where I fit in the home, whether I was the youngest of the older three or the oldest of the younger three. When you don't know where you fit inside the home and you're young and you're desperate to fit in somewhere, I'd figured where I would fit outside the home. So I made some bad decisions about who I hung out with, I dropped... Read more »
Contrary to popular assumptions, the Bible is not a record of the blessed good, but rather the blessed bad. Thats not a typo. The Bible is a record of the blessed bad. The Bible is not a witness to the best people making it up to God; its a witness to God making it down to the worst people.
Our hearts are continuously rebellious. Every time we sin in thought, word, or deed, we're essentially saying in that moment that, "I don't need you God. I don't want you God. I like my way better than your way." If this goes on day after day after day, year after year, month after month, it would understandable for God to say, "I've given you ten trillion tries. You're finished." But it's not. So in that sense, His grace is always surprising, never ceases to be amazing and His mercy is remarkably outrageous.
We make a big mistake when we conclude that the law is the answer to bad behavior. In fact, the law alone stirs up more of such behavior. People get worse, not better, when you lay down the law. To be sure, the Spirit does use both God's law and God's gospel in our sanctification. But the law and the gospel do very different things.
Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak; because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose; because Jesus was someone, I am free to be no one; because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary; because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail.