Jacob Crouch

Don’t Wait For Joy

One day, for all those who have repented and believed that gospel, we too will rise. We will be with the Lord, in His presence forever. And in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Our joy now is weak and fickle, but then it will be unshakeable. We will be with Him forever and sin and weakness and sickness and sadness and all things that could steal our joy will be banished. 

I was talking with a friend at an engagement party about 12 years ago, and he was in the thick of his medical training. He was preparing for a huge exam that took up the vast majority of his free time, and he had spent hours studying every day for months. So I asked him, as we often did, how his soul was. He said, “I’m busy, but I’m still fighting for time in the word and prayer. I can’t wait for this exam to be over, but I’m fighting to have joy now. I can’t wait for on my circumstances to change to have joy. I want to have joy in the Lord now.” Don’t you love talking to real Christians?
This conversation rocked me. My friend was not waiting for joy. He knew that his circumstances couldn’t dictate when he was to find joy, because our sinful nature and our fallen world will always find an excuse to be dissatisfied. To say it plainly, if we are waiting to have joy until things are perfect, we will never have it. There will always be some hardship, or trial, or shortcoming, or whatever to bring us down and “ruin” our joy. And God actually commands our joy. Listen to these commands: “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright” (Psalm 33:1). “Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name” (Psalm 97:12)! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil 4:4).
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If the LORD Should Mark Iniquity

When we see the failings of our brothers and sisters, let our first inclination be to believe the promises of God for that saint, and to watch out for our own souls. Let us be willing to have the hard conversations, but let it be with clear eyes and a humble heart. Let our own forgiveness cause us to walk in holy fear, and let us extend the same grace that we have been so freely given.

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
Psalm 130:3
Sometimes I get frustrated. I often see it as a holy frustration. (Of course I do). I find someone who is somehow unable to see what I can see so clearly, and I say to myself, “I can’t believe that those people would do/think that thing.” Sometimes I say it out loud. (Of course I do). Early on in my marriage was one of those times that I said it out loud.
I was perusing Facebook, sitting on the couch with my wife, and I saw a post from a Christian friend. Let’s just say it was less than Christ-like. My immediate reaction was, “I can’t believe so-and-so would post something like that. I just don’t know how this person can say this stuff with a good conscience. I don’t think this person will ever change.” And on-and-on I went I’m sure. My wife sat listening for a moment and said, “If the LORD should mark iniquities, who could stand?” Silence. “I’m gonna go take a shower now,” she said casually, as if she hadn’t just hit me with a healthy dose of theologically solid, gospel rich, humility-inducing truth.
When I got married, I realized that I was marrying up. Every now and then the Lord makes that abundantly clear.
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Anything Worth Doing, is Worth Doing Badly

Don’t let an unrealistic expectation of perfection keep you from doing the things that are most good for your soul and most glorifying to God. Pick up your Bible, pray, evangelize, encourage the church, and follow God wherever He leads. If it’s worth doing, be willing to put in the awkward reps of early attempts. Do it badly, and pray for God to help you do it well.

You’ve probably heard it said, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.” Generally, I agree with that statement. If a thing is worth giving our time for, we should strive to do it with excellence. That’s biblical: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24). As Christians we should be those who work most excellently, because we are serving a better, more worthy, Master. And yet, I’m afraid this ideal of excellence often causes well meaning Christians to stop “doing” altogether. They turn the adage into, “If it can’t be done well, don’t do it at all.” And that is unbiblical. I’ll explain.
There are so many areas in our life where we are commanded to do something by God. We are commanded to read our Bibles, pray, evangelize, encourage one another, etc… and very often, our efforts at obedience are embarrassing at first. We struggle with consistency in our Bible reading time. “Sweet hour of prayer” often looks more like “Sweet 5 minutes of prayer before my mind wanders to a dog on the street.” We bumble through evangelism and encouragement like a four-year-old trying to explain how a microwave works. To say it bluntly, we do not do it well.
And yet, I am convinced these things are worth doing.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). Oh how good of an endeavor it is to know and read God’s word. Through it we know God, His commands, our purpose, and most importantly His Son.
“You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). To pray is to speak with the Almighty. I know Him through His word, and I speak to Him through prayer. I worship Him and draw down power from on high as I lift my voice to Him.
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2).

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Do You Trust Him?

I pray that we would lean into that impulse to look beyond ourselves to the One who is able to help in all our troubles. I pray that we would learn to trust Him, not to do our will, but to do His will. Let us learn to pray, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). He is trustworthy. Do you trust Him?

I’ve heard some form of this statement my entire professional career. Whether in the hospital or in the schoolroom, someone looks at their situation and says, “I’m gonna trust God.” And while I love that impulse, I typically hate the way it is meant. There is something innate in every one of us that knows, deep down, we are not sufficient. We reach the end of ourselves and we realize that we must trust in something higher than us. So whether it’s sickness or grades, we see a tough situation, and we know that we must look beyond ourselves and our circumstances and trust the Lord. So why in the world would I have a problem with that phrase?
My chief issue is with what people mean when they say it. In my experience, this phrase is really just another way of saying, “I’m trusting God to do exactly what I want.” “God’s gonna heal me,” or “God’s gonna give me the grade I need on this test,” or “God’s gonna get me out of whatever mess I’m in.” This is unfortunately the way that phrase is used, and I want to tell you this is dangerous. Instead of asking for His will to be done, we pull God into our situation and try to bend His will to ours. And normally, this phrase is said to others in such a way that puts God on display. In essence, that person says, “God’s gonna do what I want, just watch and see.” But here is the problem. When did God ever say He would get you out of this mess?
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Faithful, Fruitful, and Forgotten

I suspect that not many of us will be famous men or women. Our labors will go largely unnoticed, and our names will likely not live on beyond our families. Oh, but may God use us in mighty ways. May we be “some men” and “some women” who preach the word and see large numbers turn to the Lord. May we be faithful, fruitful, and forgotten, while our Lord is lifted high.

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
Acts 11:19-21
Stephen was martyred, the church was scattered, and circumstances seemed pretty bad. Yet, even in the midst of persecution, the early church went out and preached the gospel wherever they went. And you would think that God would highlight the lives of these brave Christians who went out preaching the word boldly in the face of opposition. We’d know their stories, and our children would be named after them. They’d be venerated and their fame would spread through the church. But God doesn’t do that. Instead, we get this sentence: “But some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene…” That’s it. No fancy titles, no family lineage, not even a name. Just some men preaching the gospel, and a great number believe. And in an odd way, I find this incredibly encouraging.
Faithful Without Fame
Here are men who are faithful. And they are faithful for God’s sake alone. They didn’t get fame. No biographies of those men exist. But still they were faithful.
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Read the Bible A Lot

Read the Bible a little and you will surely be arrogant. Read the Bible a lot and you will be humbled. You will see more of God and you will become small in your own eyes. You will see His law and realize you are not as good as you thought. See more of His salvation and you will be more grateful and humbled towards those around you.

When I first began to really seek the Lord, I was challenged to dig into the Bible and learn and grow. And by God’s grace, I started to grow like a weed. His word was sweet to me and my eyes were opened to so many truths I had never considered before. My faith began to have a backbone, and I actually knew why I believed what I believed for the first time. And I made sure that everyone around me knew what I believed too. I was zealous and serious and incredibly certain of myself. Almost no one could tell me anything that I hadn’t heard before, and I often wouldn’t even listen to you if I perceived that we did not use the same lingo. Looking back, I was showing the sign of someone who had not read their Bible for very long.
What was that sign? Arrogance. One sure sign that someone hasn’t read their Bible for very long, is that they are arrogant. That might seem surprising, but it is almost universally true that someone who has spent a little time in God’s word always seems to have the answer for any situation. Here’s how this plays itself out: Someone begins to read and grow and learn for the first time in their life. They start growing in their knowledge of the Bible. They’ve read through the Bible a few times, they look around, and realize that they’re way ahead of “those other people” who never read their Bible. They’re further encouraged in their delusion of superiority by living in a society that really is Biblical illiterate. Mix that with a lot of sincerity and genuine zeal, and you are looking at someone who is marked by a certain Biblical arrogance that makes that person undesirable to be around.
This arrogance leads people to say really unkind things to those around them.
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What do You do When You are Spiritually Dry?

We must run to the fountain of living waters. Don’t be deceived into running to broken cisterns, but come and “draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa 12:3). Look to God’s word, and look to the Word. Come to Him, all who are weary and heavy laden, and He will give you rest.

Do you ever think, “I want to desire God more,” but for whatever reason, you’re just spiritually dry? The things that you know should thrill your soul feel commonplace. Maybe your desire for God’s word, your desire to pray, or your desire for holiness is cold. It’s a miserable thing to know how you ought to feel, and realize that you’re not there. So what do you do? What do you do when you are spiritually dry?
There are so many things that can be done, but I want to give one piece of advice with two practical applications for those who feel spiritually dry: Don’t stop going to the fountain. Often when we feel dry, we are tempted to neglect the one thing that will satisfy our souls. Think about it: When you feel dry, what things do you want to toss out? Bible reading, prayer, fellowship. But this is the problem. If you are dry, spiritually thirsty, the worst thing you can do is go to the desert! You need to go to the fountain! God calls Himself “the fountain of living waters” (Jer 2:13). If we do not desire God, we need to go to God!
And here is the thing: God is desirable. The fact that we might not desire God is not because of any deficit in God.
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A Constant Dying

Most of us will not be called to physically die for Christ. Even so, in light of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us lay down our lives for him. Let’s be living martyrs, constantly dying in order that we might find our life.

Martyr stories have always encouraged me. It might seem morbid to think that a story of someone losing their life can be beautiful, but these stories expose that there are some things that are more valuable than life. God often uses these stories of courage and commitment to bring in lost souls, to build the church, and to encourage the saints to live a life of greater service to God. As a young Christian, I used to say confidently, “I would die for Christ,” but as I get older, I am realizing more and more that dying for Christ might be the easier thing.
What do I mean? Dying for Christ takes a moment of extreme courage and resolve from the hand of God, but living for Christ requires a sustained courage that beats back the devil and the flesh daily. It’s a constant dying. Jesus tells us that if we are to find our life, we must lose it (Matt 10:39). He says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). The Christian is a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), a constant offering on the altar of God.
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God allows hard things to happen, and we must acknowledge our limitations in understanding. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 55:8-9). I don’t know why God allows these things to happen. But I know God. I know that he is good (Psalm 16:2). I know that he is faithful and just (Psalm 111:7).

Why did God let Christian get captured by the giant “Despair”?

This question from my 4-year old came out of nowhere as he was talking with my wife recently. About 6 months ago we read through Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress together as a family. If you’re not familiar with the story, the main character, Christian, leaves his home in the City of Destruction to escape the coming wrath of God. He goes through the wicket gate and sets out on the narrow path to the Celestial City. Bunyan allegorizes the Christian life and what it looks like to travel on the narrow path to salvation. (This book is amazing. If you haven’t read it, read it. If you have read it, let’s talk about it. This is my favorite book of all time. Did I say that I love this book? I love this book.)
But something interesting happens during Christian’s journey to the Celestial City. He, and his friend Hopeful, leave the path for a moment and are captured by the giant “Despair” and are locked in “Doubting Castle”. The giant beats them mercilessly, and it isn’t until Christian finds the master key that they are ever able to escape. In writing this, Bunyan acknowledges that even Christians on the narrow path can experience seasons of despair and doubt. Bunyan’s honesty about the Christian life is why I love this book so much. He doesn’t reserve despair and doubt for the weak, but as an experience of even faithful Christians. And then my son’s question: “Why did God let Christian get captured by the giant ‘Despair’?”
What struck me about his question was this: My 4-year old understood that God had allowed Christian to be captured. He understood that behind the scenes of that terrible event, God was in control. And now he was wrestling with the implications. Why would God allow that? And I’m certain that everyone at some point has had a similar question: In light of evil and sickness and despair and doubting, why is God allowing this to happen? And without question, our God is Sovereign over all things. The Psalmist writes, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).
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3 Reasons I’m Glad That God is Sovereign Over Tragedy

What a comfort to know that the God who orchestrates our injury is the One whose “understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5). I can know that the thing I so badly wish had not happened was executed with perfect wisdom and goodness. God knows me 50 years from now. His perfect understanding sees the state of my soul in eternity. 

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.
Isaiah 45:7
The dictionary defines the word sovereign as, “having supreme rank, power, or authority.” The Bible speaks of God as the One who, “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11), and the One who, “does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’ (Dan 4:35). Truly, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).
This becomes an issue when we really begin to meditate on what it means that God does ALL that He pleases. “But what about suffering? What about pain? What about death and sickness and all the terrible things that happen on planet earth? Surely God is sovereign over the good, but not the bad things too?” The problem with that way of thinking is that the Bible doesn’t leave us with the option to think God is only somewhat sovereign. He does ALL that he pleases. He has total, unhindered sovereignty. Over the good and the bad. He makes well-being AND calamity. And God owns it: “I am the LORD, who does ALL these things” (Isa 45:7). He uses the stamp of His covenant name to establish that He is the doer of all of it.
I know there are some who find this difficult, but I want to give three reasons why I’m glad that God is sovereign over tragedy.
1. God loves me and cares for me
What a great assurance to know that my sovereign God is not ambivalent towards me. He “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20). He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for me (Rom 8:32). He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).
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