Week 39 Sept. 23-29, 2018

There is a heresy in modern day American Christianity that promotes the idea that “perfect love rescues us from all pain.”

This heresy is birthed in a prosperity gospel that presents God as a cosmic genie whose primary purpose in this world is to be our life coach and express His love for us through pouring out endless blessings of perfect health, thriving wealth, and public notoriety.

The problem with this gospel, however, is that it stands in stark contrast to the gospel of Christ in Holy Scripture. In Christ’s gospel, God’s primary focus is for us to repent of our sin, receive eternal salvation through new spiritual birth, and become Christian disciples who help build God’s heavenly kingdom here on earth.

But for the Lord to begin working in us to bring us to a place of repentance and faith, we need to first experience the pain of separation and death that our sin has caused and cry out to Christ to be our Lord and Savior.

 In 2 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul describes this unavoidable condition of spiritual pain caused by our sin as personal grief. He then explains that while all human beings will experience grief, there are two different kinds of grief that will lead us down one of two completely different eternal paths.  As Paul states in verse 10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

 So, as we seek to better understand the divine purpose behind our pain, let us look closer at God’s goal for our grief.

 First, God’s goal for our grief is to produce a heart of repentance. Simply put, we cannot call upon Christ to be our Savior if we don’t first understand that we need to be saved. Godly grief enables us to fully grasp the weight of living under the curse of our sin, and it leads us to repent because our pain helps us realize how much our wicked ways have violated God’s holy nature and will.

Secondly, God’s goal for our grief is to lead us to salvation. Not only does the Lord desire for us to turn away from our sin, He also wants us to turn towards the amazing grace that He secured for us through the perfect life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection of His Son. In Jesus Christ we have a Savior who lived a perfect life to earn our righteousness, who died a sacrificial death to take on the penalty of our transgressions, and who rose from the dead to blaze a trail for us from death to life. If we are willing to confess this truth with our mouth, and firmly believe this truth in the depth of our heart, we will be saved.

Finally, God’s goal for our grief is to leave us with no regrets. Since the blood of Christ has washed away all the guilt and shame that we stored up through our sin, we can now look at the grief that led to our conversation as a blessing in disguise. With godly grief we have no regrets because we realize that God’s goal has always been to convict us, save us, restore us, and adopt us into His family for all of eternity.

Therefore, let us silence the heresy that perfect love rescues us from all pain, and instead celebrate the lasting fruit of our godly grief. Through the suffering that led to our salvation, we learn that God wants to offer us much more than the fleeting health, wealth, and fame of this world; He wants to offer us abundant new life in an eternal kingdom.  And while life in God’s kingdom will one day be free of all pain and grief, we can still rejoice right now that our grief here on earth is producing something far greater for us in heaven.

God’s Goal for Our Grief

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A Love That Sings Loudly

In the third chapter of Zephaniah, the Lord prophesies that one day He will empower people from all nations of the earth to call upon His name for salvation and come together to serve Him with one accord. As abundant as that promise of grace is, what is more glorious is how God’s passion for His redeemed people will lead Him to rejoice with a love that signs loudly. As Zephaniah 3:17 states, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Healed by the Hope of His Word

In Psalm 130, the psalmist proclaims that mankind’s sin is so severe in the presence of a holy God that if the Lord were to keep a record of our wrong doings we would never be able to stand before Him. However, as he confesses the depth of his sinful nature, he also proclaims the hope of healing and forgiveness for those who wait on God’s Word to be fulfilled. As he concludes in verses 4-5, “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”

The Grace of Cheerful Giving

Scientists have recently discovered a unique reaction in the human brain when someone willfully chooses to bless others through charitable financial giving. This reaction is a significant spike of dopamine that activates the pleasure center of the brain. In other words, science is supporting what Scripture has already revealed: God has hardwired us to give with cheerful hearts! As Paul proclaims in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Week 40 Readings:  September 30 – October 6

-Day One:  Jeremiah 11-13; 2 Corinthians 12

-Day Two:  Jeremiah 14-16; 2 Corinthians 13

-Day Three:  Jeremiah 17-20; James 1

-Day Four:  Jeremiah 22,23,26, Psalm 77, James 2

-Day Five:  Jeremiah 25,35,36,45; Psalm 133, James 3  


Tips to Keep You on Track

          Our assigned reading passages this week will lead us on an unchartered course through the book of Jeremiah. Written around 550 B.C. shortly after Judah’s exile to Babylon at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar, the book chronicles the difficult life and ministry of a weeping Hebrew prophet named Jeremiah. Despite his many warnings of future destruction for Jerusalem and the temple due to Israel’s unrepentant sin, the book captures their continued rebellion and rejection of Jeremiah’s message until their families are captured and their land is destroyed. However, just as Jeremiah laments over the ruins caused by Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness, he also prophesies about a new covenant in chapter 31 where God would rewrite the law on the very hearts of His people. So, as you continue reading through these rich passages, keep two things in mind: 1) The chapters are not assigned in sequential order this week because the book itself is not arranged chronologically. These chapter arrangements in the reading plan will help you to follow the story line more closely. 2) While you read, keep a balanced perspective of God’s holiness and love. In His holiness, all of Israel’s sin needed to be punished; In His love, He promised to create a new covenant where the letter of the law would be fulfilled by Christ and God’s people would one day live in faithful obedience as this fulfilled law would be rewritten on their very hearts.