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Counting It All Joy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 25, 2020 12:01 am

Counting It All Joy

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 25, 2020 12:01 am

God has a good purpose for the afflictions that Christians are called to bear. Today, R.C. Sproul expresses how pain and suffering can actually help us become more joyful.

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Though the farming industry collapses though the stock market crashes, though the technological industries of computers and so on.

Explode though all these things happen. Nevertheless, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Can you say with confidence that you can rejoice in the midst of calamity for the Christian. It's not an option it's it's really part of our job description if you will. Welcome to Renewing Your Mind with RC Sproul that a lesson from one of his classic series is titled simply joy. One of the hardest lessons that we have to learn as Christians is all to be joyful in the midst of pain.

And in the midst of suffering. Remember, James tells us counted all joy when you enter into sufferings and trials and tribulations. When I hear James say that I pick up on the word that he gives at the beginning of Lisa's talent. It all joy. What does he mean when he says, count it all joy. It's one thing to have joy and be in a state of joy and to be rejoicing and it's another thing to count it as such, the word of the concept here is the idea of reckoning or of considering or deeming something that is even when were not feeling joyful about the sufferings were enduring. We are called upon to count it. That is considerate. As a matter of joy not because the thing itself. We are enduring is something that is pleasurable, but rather the reason we are to collect joy is because, as James tells us, as Peter tells us, is the whole New Testament tells us that tribulation and pain and suffering work patients within us, so that there is at least something good happening to us, even in the midst of pain and suffering and affliction and the idea of considering it is what were called to do is to think about it, to think about our circumstances. As difficult as they may be to bear. They are not an exercise in futility that God has a purpose for the afflictions we are called upon to bear. And that purpose is always good when we talked much earlier about the province of God.

I made a distinction borrowed from Dr. John Gerstner about different kinds of bad and different kinds of good and Dr. Gerstner makes a distinction between bad bad and good, bad, and what he means by good bad is bad things that, if considered, in and of themselves are destructive and bad. Nevertheless, they can be the occasion for good. How else can God say to us that he works all things together for our good to those who believe in him and love him and are called according to his purpose so that what James is saying to us here when he says calm it all joy when it's not all joy because it is in all joy to be involved in pain and suffering, but we are considerate as an occasion for rejoicing. Knowing that God is working in that situation for our sanctification and for our glorification and for our eternal felicity. In a sense, in order to be able to count these earthly sorrows and afflictions, as matters of joy we have to cultivate the ability of thinking in terms of the future. Sometimes the Christians hope of heaven is ridiculed and mocked in our day is being hung up with high in the sky. If you sing the Negro spiritual's that came down to us from the earlier periods in American history, particularly from the days of slavery. There was very very little for black slaves to be happy about when their lives were miserable existence in terms of hardship and of suffering families being torn apart sold to different people.

They were in chains often and in want in the labor of their hands was endless drudgery.

Day after day after day when a miserable existence. It would be to be a slave, and yet so much of the music that comes to us from that period is a music of joy sold music soul music that rejoices, but one of the recurring themes of the American Negro spiritual is the theme of the view of heaven swing low Sweet chariot, and for to carry. I looked over Jordan and what did I see coming for to carry me home a band of angels come in after me, and for the carry me home and again. It's a terrible thing to mock people whose lives are characterized by hope. When we many of us would be hopeless if we were placed in similar circumstances, but the powerful testimony of their own history has been a joy that was based upon looking to God and looking to the future now that is consistent with the New Testament isn't because Paul acknowledges, for example, the full intensity and the reality of the pain that we are called upon to endure and to suffer in this world, but then he makes a comparison between the afflictions and the pain that we experience here and the joy that has been stored up for us in heaven and he says it's not worthy to compare the temporal moments of anguish and suffering that we go through with the joy that is been laid up for us in heaven but in the moment. It's hard it's hard to keep your eye on the future I mentioned before, at dear Christian friend of mine is an old lady who died of cancer and she was marked by such a boy in spirit so ambivalent in her personality and was a delight to be around and I visited her in the hospital when she was undergoing chemotherapy at the time and she was a little bit down.

She wasn't her normal poignant cheerful self.

I sent Dora how you doing, she looked at me here was in her eyes.

She said RC.

It's hard to be a Christian with your head in the toilet and she laughed at her joy came with a spark came right back in her eyes, and so on. But boy, can I relate to that. And I've thought of that phrase that she said to me when you're sick and you just feel wretched and you make in your heart. It's hard to feel a whole lot of joy and Paul understands that he says we have to go through those periods and we have to endure them.

But remember, all the while that there is a time limit that God has established on our pain and on our sorrow and on our grief. Afflictions, after which we will enter into a condition where pain will be no more, no more tears, no more pain, no more anxiety no more sorrow no more adversity. That does sound like pie in the sky but I'm afraid we've lost our taste for that time. That's at the very heart of the Christian faith that this world is not our home that we are simply passing through.

We haven't reached our final destination. And if we think that life will always be pain and sorrow than we are of all people the most miserable because we would be without hope and hope is called the anchor of the soul in the New Testament, you know, again, the New Testament says that if you are without Christ, you are ultimately without hope, and I've often said when I struggle with life as a Christian, how to people who aren't Christians make it heartily, endure without the hope that is ours of the joy that is been stored up for us in heaven. So what we have to do is again in the midst of our pain and affliction focus our attention on the promise of God and look to the future that he is guaranteed for his people are one of the characters who displace this.

I think more poignantly and graphically than anybody else in all of the Old Testament is the prophet Habakkuk. Remember Habakkuk.

He was in a dour mood. He was very unhappy and was not particularly joyful when he saw his whole nation being ravished by a foreign power, and this created all kinds of theological difficulties for him and in the real sense. Habakkuk suffered a crisis of faith and so what did he say I'm going to go up in the my watchtower to start putting my fist in God's face and I were to say why God how can you allow these things to happen is how can you let all this evil and all his suffering, go on in this world are you too holy as to even behold iniquity, and so he goes in his watchtower and he demands an explanation from God for all this pain and suffering in the world. Then in the third chapter of the book of Habakkuk we hear the response of Habakkuk to the presence of God. God comes to his mournful profit and God presents himself to Habakkuk in a way that was quite similar to the way God came to Job when Job was in the midst of his agony that when God speaks to Habakkuk I want you to consider for a moment. Habakkuk's response. He said when I heard my body trembled, my lips quivered at the voice and rottenness entered my bones and I trembled in myself that I might rest in the day of trouble when he comes up to the people. He will invade them with his troops. Here he talks about being overcome by the message of God to the point that his body shaking. It's trembling.

His lip is quivering. Have you ever seen a baby or an infant or young child. When you see that lip start to quiver and you know what's going to come next thing you know there trying not to cry, but the quivering lip is a dead giveaway. You know, it's that they're knocking to make it then existed any second. The tears are going to start to flow. This is how he describes himself rottenness entering into his bone. But that's not where the story ends. Let me before I go to the next portion of the text remind you that there is a text a short phrase in the book of the prophet Habakkuk that is quoted three times in the New Testament and one of those three times. It is used as a thematic statement by the apostle Paul is greatest theological work. The epistle to the Romans and if you don't remember it. Let me remind you of it. It is the statement that the just shall live by faith. The just shall live by faith. Let me just put a little spin different spin on that that could be translated this way the righteous shall live by trust and what does it mean to live by faith other than to trust in God. It's not just a question of believing in God or believing that God exists. That is the life of faith, but the life of faith is characterized by believing God, trusting God, I have this conversation with myself every time I'm afraid.

And every time I'm grieving were fearful so RC you really trust God did believe in him. Do you believe him when he promises you that this is for good.

And this is for your own research only if we can believe God can we maintain joy in the midst of hardship now, having said that, let's look at the response of Habakkuk in chapter 3 at verse 17. He makes this statement. Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit beyond the vines, though the labor of the olive may fail in the fields yield no food, though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Now that may seem a little strange to our ears and foreign to our thinking because Habakkuk live so long ago when in such a different cultural environment from hours we don't lose sleep at night worrying about the blossoming of figs. We don't worry about whether the oil crop will fail duly but consider that this man was a Jew and the basic economy of Israel was agricultural and some of the most important products then and now, but particularly then were the products that came from the fruit of the fig tree, and particularly from the olive tree from which the Jews derive their oil, which had all kinds of commercial uses in the land and in addition to that they lived not only by growing figs and all of trees from which they harvested the oil but also the agricultural production of grapes was crucial for the Jewish people. For all their wine came from great you go out to the Napa Valley in California and you can see how grapevines can be extremely important to a region's economy.

If those grapevines are attacked if they are poisoned or if they are destroyed by some kind of natural calamity, the whole region suffers from the economic loss and of people were involved in vineyards and so on.

They were maintaining flocks. If you go over to Palestine today, you will see the better ones out in the desert taking care of their flocks.

Their livestock was crucial and he saying look, no blossoms on the fig tree, no fruit on the vines. The labor of the olive fails and the fields yield no food. The flock is cut off from the fold, and there's no herd in the stall translate that into modern terms, though the farming industry collapses though the stock market crashes, though the automobile industry goes belly up. Though the technological industries of computers and so on.

Explode though all these things happen. Nevertheless, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation, I will joy in him and then he goes on to say why in verse 19 the Lord God is my strength. He will make my feet like kinds feet and make me to walk in high places. What's that mean he will make my feet like kinds feet naming my front feet will become like back thinking that they streaking in the archaic language there of the feet of the deer that is so surefooted that can move like the mountain goat on high and dangerous places where the ground is filled with loose gravel and where they have to cross narrow ridges without falling off into destruction. God will make my feet like the feet of the deer or the feet of a mountain goat and cause me to walk in high places. I love that that imagery even though all of these calamities befall us, though, the nation is Rafe were defeated in war, pestilence, disease, crime affects everything.

Nevertheless, I am not going to be cast down into the valley but rather God will make my feet like the feet of the year surefooted Swift able to ascend into the high and holy places. That's what Habakkuk means when he says just shall live by faith.

That's the basis for the joy we have is how do we have joy in the midst of calamity by faith we trust in the sovereign hand of God. He is the source of our joy Weaver Dr. RC Sproul's message, count it all joy today on Renewing Your Mind will be hearing more of the series of the rest of this week and we hope you'll join us for that. This is something I know that I need to work on what we live in a world full of sorrow and difficulty, but as believers were called to rejoice.

We hope you'll take the time to study this topic more in depth you can do so by requesting this series on two audio CDs when you contact us today with your donation of any amount will send you the series along with Dr. Sproles booklet. Can I have joy in my life so call us with your donation at 800-435-4343. You can also go online to Renewing Your it could be that right now you're going through a particularly painful circumstance in your life and thinking that the joy may be a step too far to take. If that is the case, we do hope that your part of a Bible believing local church that you're seeking the counsel of your pastor and elders. We are leader ministries of always said that we do not seek to replace the church were here to undergird the church, but we do believe the resources that we provide can be helpful to you in these kinds of circumstances. I hope you'll request this copy of Dr. Sproles series along with the booklet that he wrote our web address again is Renewing Your enter phone number is 800-435-4343 all before we go to the doctor scroll has a final thought for us.

Sometimes we use the expression that we have two left feet. Will the deer has two left feet and so does a mountain goat have two left feet, unless they've lost one of their legs but also have two write feet and it really wouldn't be a disadvantage to have two left feet. If we also had to write feet so that we could be more stable as we progress through the dangerous and rocky places of life.

But that's what Habakkuk is saying to us today. He will give us that kind of stability, even in the midst of calamity if we will turn our attention to him and place our trust upon him in whom does the deer trust, in whom does the mountain goat trust when he goes up mountains that we would only ascend with ropes and an axis and and that kind of equipment and we see these animals so surefooted walking in such dangerous places, but that their trusting consciously in God, but by instinct, their trusting their creator and they venture in the dangerous places because of what God has given to them and so we are called not to be afraid to go to the valley of the shadow of death, or into dangerous rocky places as long as we trust in him who promises to make our feet as the feet of deer. We talked about joy today in the midst of trial, but what about when things are doing well and particularly when other people are prospering when they're doing well. Can we find joy in their success. That's the subject of RC's message tomorrow.

We hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind

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