When Trials Come (Part 2 of 3)James 1:1-3
The Christian life isn’t problem-free. Hardship and trouble are often part of our stories. So if we can’t avoid trials, how are we supposed to handle them? Hear the answer when you join us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
Face What He Faced
And other boats were with him.Mark 4:36
Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and His presence preserved the whole convoy. It is good to sail with Jesus, even though we may be in a little boat. When we sail in Christ’s company, we cannot be sure of fine weather, for great storms may toss the vessel that carries the Lord Himself, and we should not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to face what He faces; and when the waves are rough for Him, they will be rough for us. It is through tempest and storm that we will reach land, just as He did before us. When the storm swept over Galilee’s dark lake, the faces wore anxious frowns, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck.
When every attempt to ride it out proved useless, the resting Savior rose and with a word transformed the billowing tempest into the deep quiet of a calm. Then all the other boats were at rest as well as the one that carried the Lord. Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there is sorrow on the sea, when Jesus is on it, there is also joy.
May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their lifeboat, and their harbor. His Church is the Admiral’s flagship; let us attend her exercises and cheer her officers with our presence. He Himself is the great attraction; let us always follow in His wake, observe His signals, steer by His chart, and never fear while He is within reach. Not one ship in the convoy shall be wrecked; the great Captain will steer every craft in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will raise our anchor for another day’s cruise and sail with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey Him; and therefore whatever squalls may occur on the outside, faith will enjoy a blessed calm within. He is always in the center of the weather-beaten company: Let us rejoice in Him. His boat has reached the harbor, and so will ours.
David Defeats Ammon and Syria
1After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. 2And David said, “I will deal loyally1 with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David's servants came into the land of the Ammonites. 3But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” 4So Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away. 5When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.”
6When the Ammonites saw that they had become a stench to David, the Ammonites sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah, 20,000 foot soldiers, and the king of Maacah with 1,000 men, and the men of Tob, 12,000 men. 7And when David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the host of the mighty men. 8And the Ammonites came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the gate, and the Syrians of Zobah and of Rehob and the men of Tob and Maacah were by themselves in the open country.
9When Joab saw that the battle was set against him both in front and in the rear, he chose some of the best men of Israel and arrayed them against the Syrians. 10The rest of his men he put in the charge of Abishai his brother, and he arrayed them against the Ammonites. 11And he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you. 12Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” 13So Joab and the people who were with him drew near to battle against the Syrians, and they fled before him. 14And when the Ammonites saw that the Syrians fled, they likewise fled before Abishai and entered the city. Then Joab returned from fighting against the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.
15But when the Syrians saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they gathered themselves together. 16And Hadadezer sent and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the Euphrates.2 They came to Helam, with Shobach the commander of the army of Hadadezer at their head. 17And when it was told David, he gathered all Israel together and crossed the Jordan and came to Helam. The Syrians arrayed themselves against David and fought with him. 18And the Syrians fled before Israel, and David killed of the Syrians the men of 700 chariots, and 40,000 horsemen, and wounded Shobach the commander of their army, so that he died there. 19And when all the kings who were servants of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and became subject to them. So the Syrians were afraid to save the Ammonites anymore.
Ministers of the New Covenant
1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our1 hearts, to be known and read by all. 3And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.2
4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
12Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16But when one3 turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord4 is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,5 are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Parable of Two Eagles and a Vine
1The word of the Lord came to me: 2“Son of man, propound a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel; 3say, Thus says the Lord God: A great eagle with great wings and long pinions, rich in plumage of many colors, came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar. 4He broke off the topmost of its young twigs and carried it to a land of trade and set it in a city of merchants. 5Then he took of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil.1 He placed it beside abundant waters. He set it like a willow twig, 6and it sprouted and became a low spreading vine, and its branches turned toward him, and its roots remained where it stood. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out boughs.
7“And there was another great eagle with great wings and much plumage, and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him and shot forth its branches toward him from the bed where it was planted, that he might water it. 8It had been planted on good soil by abundant waters, that it might produce branches and bear fruit and become a noble vine.
9“Say, Thus says the Lord God: Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots and cut off its fruit, so that it withers, so that all its fresh sprouting leaves wither? It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it from its roots. 10Behold, it is planted; will it thrive? Will it not utterly wither when the east wind strikes it—wither away on the bed where it sprouted?”
11Then the word of the Lord came to me: 12“Say now to the rebellious house, Do you not know what these things mean? Tell them, behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, and took her king and her princes and brought them to him to Babylon. 13And he took one of the royal offspring2 and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath (the chief men of the land he had taken away), 14that the kingdom might be humble and not lift itself up, and keep his covenant that it might stand. 15But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and a large army. Will he thrive? Can one escape who does such things? Can he break the covenant and yet escape?
16“As I live, declares the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwells who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant with him he broke, in Babylon he shall die. 17Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in war, when mounds are cast up and siege walls built to cut off many lives. 18He despised the oath in breaking the covenant, and behold, he gave his hand and did all these things; he shall not escape. 19Therefore thus says the Lord God: As I live, surely it is my oath that he despised, and my covenant that he broke. I will return it upon his head. 20I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the treachery he has committed against me. 21And all the pick3 of his troops shall fall by the sword, and the survivors shall be scattered to every wind, and you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken.”
22Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
He Will Tread Down Our Foes
To the choirmaster: according to Shushan Eduth. A Miktam1 of David; for instruction; when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return struck down twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.
1O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
you have been angry; oh, restore us.
2You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open;
repair its breaches, for it totters.
3You have made your people see hard things;
you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
4You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow.2 Selah
5That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!
6God has spoken in his holiness:3
“With exultation I will divide up Shechem
and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
7Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet;
Judah is my scepter.
8Moab is my washbasin;
upon Edom I cast my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”4
9Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
11Oh, grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
12With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.
Lead Me to the Rock
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. Of David.
1Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
2from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
3for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
4Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
5For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
7May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
8So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.
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