Some Reminders on Forgiveness

By | May 5, 2022

Colossians 3:12–13 uses the language of clothing in reference to virtue. In short, we clothe ourselves with Christ (cf. Romans 13:14), and, more specifically, we “put on” virtues like “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” We are also to “put on… bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other.” The Lord’s forgiveness of us is our example for how to forgive one another.

“Bearing with one another” assumes that we fall short of treating one another as we ought from time to time. “Forgiving one another” involves “a complaint against another” that must be forgiven. Whether bearing or forgiving sin, love is the basis for our interaction with each other (Colossians 3:14; cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1–7).

So, assuming we are wearing the clothing of the new man (i.e., the virtues listed above), how do we go about forgiving one another?

Sometimes we can bypass forgiveness altogether by overlooking an offense and letting love cover the brother’s sin (Proverbs 19:11; 1 Peter 4:8). His sin may be individual (against me alone), intentional (he meant to do it), and even important (it has serious implications), but even then, we can patiently love the offender and overlook the offense (e.g., Genesis 45:4–5; 50:20; 2 Samuel 16:5–14; 19:18–23). At the least, we can be eager to forgive (e.g., Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).

Sometimes, however, confrontation is necessary, and a formal apology and forgiveness must take place. Perhaps someone sins against another so significantly as to break their relationship (Matt 18:15–18; Luke 17:3–4). Perhaps someone is so caught up in his sin that another needs to intervene in order for restoration to take place (Galatians 6:1). Perhaps someone might take advantage of another, requiring a third party to help the disadvantaged (cf. James 1:27 with Exodus 23:6; Proverbs 31:8–9; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 22:3). Perhaps the sin is simply so significant and public that the testimony of the church is on the line (e.g., 1 Corinthians 5). In all of these instances, there must be a confrontation, repentance, and forgiveness. If repentance is not forthcoming, the church may eventually have to exclude the sinning party from their fellowship and treat him as an unbeliever (Matthew 18:17).

If confrontation is necessary, this interaction should be treated with utmost care. All parties involved should affirm their love for one another in Christ before and after their interaction. The one confronted should humbly recognize his sin, be thankful his sin was exposed, repent, apologize, and go forward in the relationship. The one confronting should make sure his reasons for confrontation are sound and seek to gain his brother. The goal is never rebuke alone but repentance and restoration.

May God help us not to sin against one another. But if we do, may He also help us to bear with one another and to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us.

All quotes ESV

Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, & Green Beans: It’s What’s for Dinner!

By | May 3, 2022

  Last night, we had a family favorite: pork tenderloin. I always snatch up this cut of pork (tenderloin, not pork loin) when I find it for $2.99/lb. It is so easy to prepare, and the kids love how tender and flavorful the meat is. The recipe I follow is from 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous by Lisa Leake (a great cookbook!), but I found an online blog featuring her recipe here. Basically, mix your favorite spices together (can’t go wrong with paprika, onion, garlic, salt, & pepper) and add a couple TBSP of olive oil, brush it all over the pork, and roast for 25-35 minutes and it’s done. I convinced my pork-disliking sister to try it, and she loved it; it doesn’t taste porky at all!

I always serve this dish with roasted sweet potatoes, because they go very well together, and it’s easy and healthy. These potatoes couldn’t be easier. Wash potatoes, cut in half, rub all over with coconut or olive oil, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 400 degrees F. for 40+ minutes. Delicious!

The vegetable will vary depending on what I have and what’s on sale. These green beans are always a winner. You can use fresh or frozen, but I like fresh. Wash and trim beans, pour a couple TBSP of olive and minced garlic on them, along with salt and pepper. Adding the zest of lemon really adds great flavor. Roast for about 20 minutes on 375 (but I often do 400 to go with my sweet potatoes; roast longer if beans are frozen). After pulling them out of the oven, squeeze the juice of the lemon on the beans and mix it around.

There you go–Another idea for your meal rotation that’s healthy, easy, and allergy friendly too! Enjoy!

Chicken, Kale Salad, & Potato Chips: It’s What’s for Dinner!

By | April 28, 2022

Chicken leg quarters are one of the easiest–and cheapest–main dishes. One chicken leg quarter feeds one person (so six for my family), and I buy them on sale for $0.59-0.79/lb. The prep for these is so easy. Place on an oven-safe rack on a baking sheet, rub meat with olive oil (or spray–this sprayer  is great!), and rub with favorite seasoning underneath and on top of the skin. Tonight I just used homemade seasoned salt. Here’s the original recipe I used: fooddoodles.com/chicken-leg-quarters-recipe.

One of the tough things for me is picking out side dishes. My youngest daughter has multiple allergies, including most notably gluten, dairy, nuts, and coconut. I try not to make too many things that require me to make something separate for her. So when I find a side that goes well with a meal, I tend to stick with it. This meal was declared a winner tonight by all my kids (11, almost-10, 7, and 5).

This apple cranberry bacon kale salad is so delicious! Massaging the kale with a pinch of salt and few drops of olive oil definitely makes the kale less. . . kale-ly. 🙂 I left out the almonds and kept the feta on the side to be added individually. You could replace the bacon with bacon bits to make life easier and leave out the cranberries if you’re not a fan. I used a cosmic crisp apple that was so crunchy and sweet. For the dressing, I left out mustard due to an allergy and used apple cider because that’s what I had. The dressing was great. The last time I made it, I didn’t have any apple juice or cider, so I just left it out, as the recipe also has apple cider vinegar in it. It worked, but I think everyone liked it better this time. I could totally see adding some grilled chicken to this and turning it into a main dish, but it worked fabulously as a healthy, filling side dish.

I was not planning on having anything else with the meal, but my son has been begging me to try making homemade potato chips again. I recently bought the slicer/shredder attachment for my Kitchen-Aid, and it is absolutely fabulous!! It sliced my potatoes so nicely and quickly. My mom gave me her air fryer, so I mostly followed this recipe, except I used an unmeasured amount of seasoned salt instead. The potato chips were a success as well.

Hopefully this will give you inspiration for your meal schedule. Happy eating!

 

 

Our Definitive and Progressive Sanctification

By | April 27, 2022

Believers enjoy union with Christ in His death and resurrection (Colossians 2:11–12). This union breaks the power of sin, diminishes its practice, empowers righteous living, and ensures progress therein. This transfer of power from sin to Christ is “a once-for-all definitive act,”1 and the believer simultaneously begins his progress in practical sanctification. A number of passages bear out these truths.

Some passages speak of “the new man” and/or “the old man” in order to teach that the power of sin has been definitively broken and that we are now alive unto righteousness in Christ. Imperatives follow on the basis of this transformation, and here and there are descriptions of the believer’s progressive mortification of sin and increase of practical righteousness.

First, in Romans 6, “our old self was crucified with Him” in order that “we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4, 6). On this basis, Paul commands us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God and to live in accord with these realities (Romans 6:11–14). The believer obeys so “that the body of sin might be brought to nothing” (Romans 6:6), that is, so that the influence of sin upon the whole person might be eliminated altogether. Righteousness reigns in sin’s place (Romans 6:12–13).

Second, in Colossians 3, “you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self” (Colossians 3:9–10). Again, these truths ground Paul’s commands for the believer to mortify his vices and clothe himself with virtue (Colossians 3:5–9a, 12–17). The believer’s experience of virtue grows over time: “the new self… being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10).

Third, Ephesians 4 uses similar language: “You… were taught… to put off your old self… and to put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:21–22, 24). While Paul’s infinitives seem to be commands at first glance (to put off, to put on), they are better understood as recalling the content of what he taught the Ephesians, namely, that they had definitively put off the old man and put on the new, providing the basis (“Therefore” in Ephesians 4:25) for the imperatives in Ephesians 4:25–32. In so doing, they would progressively “be renewed [present tense] in the spirit of [their] minds” (Ephesians 4:23).2

Other passages use different terminology to speak to this decisive transfer of power, give imperatives, and describe the process of sanctification.

First, 2 Peter 1 tells us that we have decisively “escaped from the corruption that is in the world” and have been “granted… all things that pertain to life and godliness” since we have “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3–4). “For this very reason,” he commands, we should “make every effort to supplement your faith” with godly qualities (2 Peter 1:5–7). As we do so, “these qualities are yours and increasing,” making us effective and fruitful “in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).

Second, in 1 John 3, “because he has been born of God,” the child of God no longer “makes a practice of sinning”—such a life is “of the devil” (1 John 3:8–9). Instead, he “practices righteousness… as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7). John’s imperative is not so much to practice righteousness as it is to assume that believers will practice righteousness and to “let no one deceive you” about the matter (1 John 3:7; cf. 3:1–10).

In sum, when we are united by faith to Christ, the power of sin is broken, and God within empowers us for Christian living. As we put our sin to death and heed the command to “be transformed” (Romans 12:2), “our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

And, lest we forget, God will one day complete our transformation. At our glorification, any remaining vestiges of sin will be altogether vanquished as we put on what is imperishable and immortal: “we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 15:53). May God hasten that day.3

All biblical quotes ESV

  1. John Murray, “Definitive Sanctification” in Collected Writings of John Murray (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977): 2:277. []
  2. See William W. Combs, “Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two?” in Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1997), 89–90. Available online at https://dbts.edu/journal/. See also Anthony A. Hoekema, “The Reformed Perspective,” in Five Views on Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987), 80–81. Hoekema uses the term “explanatory infinitives,” that, explaining what was previously taught and not giving present commands. As authors point out, this understanding of Ephesians 4 is grammatically acceptable and in keeping with Romans 6 and Colossians 3. []
  3. For all of the above, I am indebted to Mark Snoeberger, “Advanced Issues in Pneumatology” (class notes, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Summer 2010), 72–90. []

The Earth & Me: Specks in God’s Cosmos

By | April 22, 2022

I’ve had several lines of thought over the past several weeks that have been slowly merging into one greater idea in my head. I’m going to do my best to get them out of my head and onto paper.

First, my kids and I have been studying the universe in science, and this has “coincidentally” coincided with the devotional I’ve been reading to them at night. The devotional is Indescribable: 100 Devotions for Kids About God & Science.

This devotional has been great, taking a truth about God and tying it to some aspect of God’s creation in a very understandable way. I’ve been personally blessed by the repeated reminders of how great God is and what a speck in the universe our earth is.

This speck-in-the-universe thought was backed up by a second completely unrelated bit of reading I did. My husband told me about an article he read by Carl Trueman, and it really struck both of us and has altered our thinking in significant ways.  Although the article is addressed to pastors and sounds a bit confusing (an unmessianic sense of non-destiny???), I found it helpful—and funny—myself. Perhaps turning 40 this year for both my husband and I made this more apropos, but it holds some ideas helpful for all believers.

Trueman maintains that the key to entering middle age without a “crisis” is “to match diminishing abilities and opportunities with diminishing ambition.” He says that this type of thinking is quite the opposite of what our world pushes, with everyone being special and everyone contributing to the world in great ways. But he says that Christians would do well to think unlike the world in this regard. He says,

Put bluntly, when I read the Bible it seems to me that the church is the meaning of human history. But it is the church, a corporate body, not the distinct individuals who go to make up her membership. Of course, all of us individuals have our gifts and our roles to play: the Lord calls us each by name and numbers the very hairs of our heads. But to borrow Paul’s analogy of the body, we have no special destiny in ourselves taken as isolated units, anymore than bits of our own bodies do in isolation from each other. When I act, I act as a whole person; my hand has no special role of its own; it acts only in the context of being part of my overall body. With the church, the destiny of the whole is greater than the sum of the destinies of individual Christians.

 

This is an important insight which should profoundly shape our thinking and, indeed, our praying. My special destiny as a believer is to be part of the church; and it is the church that is the big player in God’s wider plan, not me. That puts me, my uniqueness, my importance, my role, in definite perspective. The problem today is that too many have the idea that God’s primary plan is for them, and the church is secondary, the instrument to the realization of their individual significance. They may not even realize they think that way, but like those involuntary “tells” during a poker game, so certain unconscious spiritual behaviors give the game away.

 

Take, for example, prayer. Compare the “O Lord, please use me for doing X” variety with the priorities of the Lord’s Prayer, where the petitions are much more modest: “Lead me not into temptation, deliver me from evil, for the kingdom is yours, etc.” One could paraphrase that prayer perhaps as follows: “Lord, keep me out of trouble and don’t let me get in the way of the growth of your kingdom.” The Lord’s Prayer, by contrast with many prayers we cook up for ourselves, is a great example of words designed for the lips of believers who really understand the gospel, of those with, to coin a phrase, an unmessianic sense of non-destiny.

These above paragraphs have greatly impacted my thinking. I know I’ve been guilty of praying something like the example he gave: “Lord, please allow me to […..] in [this capacity] so that I can be greatly used of you.” The hidden truth this prayer reveals is that we think we have something to offer God. And then, if that opportunity doesn’t come to be, it is easy to get frustrated and feel useless, instead of focusing on what opportunities God has given where he has placed us with the people he has placed us with.

So now, I’ve found myself praying the Lord’s prayer: “Lord, may your kingdom come and your will be done, here in Rockford, IL and in all the earth as it is in heaven. Help me not to hinder that work. Help us to be faithful.”

And this leads to my third train of thought. I’m currently working on a Bible study of 1 Samuel. I was impressed (again) by how real the characters are—Samuel and Saul most notably at the moment. They struggle with frustration, anger, pride, presumption, parenting issues, etc. And their being chosen to be part of God’s plan seems really random or confusing at times.

I thought back to my studies in Genesis through Ruth and even listed out a bunch of the characters mentioned by name: Adam, Eve, Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Judah, Tamar, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Eleazar, Phinehas, Joshua, Caleb, Othniel, Ehud, Barak, Deborah, Jephthah, Gideon, Sampson, Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, Eli, Hannah, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David.

They are (were) all just regular “Joes.” None of them were really that impressive in and of themselves. God used each of them—along with the many nameless characters in Scripture—to work his plans out for the world and for Israel. I even told my husband that I was convinced that the Apostle Paul himself was not really a spiritual “giant.” I think he was a faithful and exemplary tool of God (after he stopped killing Christians, that is), but I think part of what made him want to be in heaven (besides seeing a glimpse of it) was the frustrations of this earth and the draining work of being with and helping other sinful people in the midst of a wicked world—something we can all feel. I think we see the worked out bit of Paul’s sanctification in his letters (similarly to how we see pictures on Facebook, with all the beautiful end results and none of the blood, sweat, and tears that went before it). But I’m convinced that the Christian life was a struggle for him too (but that’s just my opinion).

My point here is that all of these “heroes of the faith” were just regular people that God chose to use, because that is how he wanted to accomplish his will. Beyond that, they are all dead. The reason we know about them is because their names are written in a book (an inspired book, but a book nonetheless). They did their thing, and then they died.  And life went on, and God then used someone else. Just like we will do our thing, and then we will die. And God will continue to use others to work out his plans for the church.

In the past, people believed in the geocentric theory, that the sun revolved around the earth. We now know that the heliocentric theory is correct, that the earth revolves around the sun. Being earth-bound it is easy to feel that the universe still revolves around us. But studying the universe will quickly help us realize that the earth is just a speck in space. Even within just our solar system, Jupiter is huge compared to Earth; 1300 Earths could fit inside it–that’s mind boggling.

In like manner, God’s plans for his Church do not revolve around me or even my local church. Studying God’s work in history and in the Old Testament and meeting believers from around the world have helped me see this. I am a speck in God’s cosmic plan for the church.

Of course, the earth is the only planet with life, so it is an important little speck in God’s cosmos. And Christ died for me and I am “his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand” (Ephesians 2:10), so I had better walk worthy of my calling. But I will do so within the framework of being a mere speck in God’s plan for the Church and his glory.

In and Out of the Tomb: The Resurrection of Jesus

By | April 17, 2022

What follows below is a summary of what of the Gospels say about what happened at the tomb from the perspective of Jesus Himself.

In the Tomb: Matthew 27:57–66; Mark 15:42–47; Luke 23:50–56; John 19:38–42

In the evening after the death of Jesus (Friday), Joseph of Arimathea took courage and secretly asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a good and righteous man and a disciple of Jesus who was looking for the kingdom of God. He was a respected member of the Sanhedrin but did not agree with their judgment and role in executing Jesus. Pilate granted him permission, so he took the corpse of Jesus, went to his garden, and laid Jesus in his own personal, unused tomb, a hollow hewn out of rock and stone.

Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin who had previously met with Jesus at night, brought myrrh with aloes, somewhere around seventy pounds in weight, to give the body a pleasing fragrance to overcome the stench of death. These spices would have placed with the clean, linen cloths with which they wrapped the body of Jesus. They laid Him on a ledge in the rock where there was enough room to sit up, as two angels did after Jesus was raised, one where His head would have been, and the other by His feet (cf. John 20:12). Joseph had a large rock rolled in front of the entrance, and everyone left. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had watched from a distance. Though placed in a manger after birth, Jesus was buried in a rich man’s tomb (cf. Isa 53:9). His interment was fitting for a king. The Father sent His Son to die an ugly, gruesome death, but, His death for sin now over, the Father would bury Him with the utmost love and care.

The next day (Saturday), Pilate granted permission to the Sanhedrin to place a guard of soldiers at the tomb. They put a seal on the tomb to discourage anyone from moving the rock by pain of death. The Jewish leaders were probably tense. Perhaps the guards were less than thrilled with this odd and sleepless assignment. They feared that Jesus’ followers would raid His body from the tomb.

Out of the Tomb: Matthew 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:1–18

Early on the next day, the first day of the week, it was still dark, and the light had not yet come up. Jesus lay where it was even darker and quieter than outside. For all of the preparation to stay the stench of death, His body had known no physical decay (cf. Ps 16:10–11). In fact, whether during His time in the tomb or at the point of His resurrection, He had been healed of His abuse except for what was left of His five wounds (cf. John 20:20, 27). Then, by the power of the Father, Himself, and the Spirit (John 2:19; Acts 2:24; Rom 8:11), He arose!

Now alive and no longer dead, Jesus somehow maneuvered out of the linen cloths that bound His body and left them lying in the tomb. His arms free, He removed His face cloth, folded it up, and set it in a place by itself. He likely smelled the many spices used to prepare Him for burial. Perhaps we might say that in more ways than one, His sacrifice was a pleasing aroma to God.

He must have miraculously left through the wall just as He would later appear to the disciples in a locked room (cf. John 20:19, 26), but He did not go very far. Outside of the tomb, perhaps he watched, heard, and felt the earthquake that took place when the angel rolled away the stone from the tomb’s door. Perhaps He watched the guards fall as dead men when they saw this angel.

Maybe He then saw all of the women come to the tomb, carrying their spices to finish what the Sabbath had left undone—Joanna, Mary (Salome) who was wife to Clopas and mother to James and Joseph, and other women with them as well. Maybe He watched their amazement as they walked by the fallen soldiers and saw the two angels invite them to see the place where He had lain.

Maybe He saw Mary Magdalene immediately run off to Peter and John to tell them that the tomb was empty. He met the other women as they eventually left as well.  He felt them grab His feet, and He gave them no rebuke as they worshipped Him. He only told them to tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee. This was His first appearance after the resurrection.

With no one else around, the soldiers seized this moment to steal away. Some of them told the chief priests what took place and received a bribe to say that the disciples had stolen the body while they slept.

Perhaps Jesus then saw John outpace Peter only to stop at the entrance of the tomb and watch Peter enter first. Perhaps He saw Peter examine the grave clothes and the face cloth. Perhaps he watched John find his own courage, enter to see for himself, and believe. Perhaps He watched them walk away.

Maybe during their investigation is when He saw Mary Magdalene return, only to stay after they had left. She was weeping while stooping in the entrance to the tomb and explaining her tears to the angels as caused by not knowing where Jesus now lay. As He had honored the previous women with an appearance for their encouragement, so also He now came to Mary to encourage her. Standing behind her as she finished speaking to the angels, perhaps one of them motioned to turn around or perhaps she sensed His presence. Turning around, she saw Jesus but mistook Him for the gardener. She asked Him where Jesus was, only to hear His “Mary” and recognize her Lord. She worshiped Him, clinging a bit too tightly, and was kindly asked to let Him go. She then left to tell the disciples what she had seen and heard, His second appearance after the resurrection.

Before His ascension, Jesus would appear several more times: to Cleopas and another (third), Peter (fourth), all but Thomas (fifth), all with Thomas (sixth), the fishing seven (seventh), the eleven for the Great Commission (eighth), James His brother and the five hundred (ninth and tenth), and the eleven at His ascension (eleventh). After the ascension, He appeared to Paul on the Damascus road (twelfth) and to John on the island of Patmos (thirteenth). He will come again for us to end the age.

Jesus arose, and these are the amazing moments surrounding the new life of our Lord at the tomb and thereafter.

Living Wisely in a World of Woe

By | April 7, 2022

The prophet Isaiah once spoke of Israel and Judah as worthless vineyard with nothing good to show God (Isaiah 5:1–7). God looked for the fruit of justice and righteousness and found the opposite instead (cf. Isaiah 5:7). Among God’s many “woes” against the nation for her sins (Isaiah 5:8–30), God stated, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). What God said then is exactly what He could say to America today. It’s sad that it’s so easy to point out examples of how upside-down our society has become. A sexual revolution has ravaged and redefined the general morality of our nation.

A new female supreme court judge (Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson) has said that she cannot define the word “woman.” Behind her statement is the spirit of America’s age—to let a person decide for himself or herself a sexual identity that contradicts his or her biological gender given by God.

A young man (William Thomas) now calls himself a woman (Lia Thomas) and swims for a women’s college swim team and robs young women of championships or other standings they could have won. The NCAA and many others cannot bring themselves to point out the injustice of how this practice discriminates against women.

An entertainment executive (Karey Burke, Disney’s President of General Entertainment) wants half or more of Disney’s cartoon characters to identify as LGBTQIA in the future. People (and cartoon characters) don’t usually visually project an immediate understanding of their sexual identity, so Disney will have to work these matters into the script. One can only wonder what America’s children will watch and hear in the future from Disney’s streaming channel (Disney+).

The Supreme Court, the NCAA, and Disney—these institutions represent so many others in our society today. Make no mistake, God’s judgment is going to come on them all and America as a whole. “Woe to them,” Isaiah would say, “for they call evil good and good evil.”

And don’t miss this along the way—their inability to tell right from wrong is God’s judgment upon them already. The apostle Paul explains this fact in Romans 1:18–32. When people suppress the truth, refuse to honor God, and won’t give their thanks to Him, He lets them become fools. He gives them over to their sins. He allows them to do more of what will be grounds for their eternal damnation. From America’s highest officials to common citizens who stream perversion into their homes, the Bible warns of woe and condemnation.

The apostle Peter guides us well in 1 Peter 4:1–6. As we attempt to escape America’s flood of sexual debauchery, our society will be surprised that we choose not to drown with them. People will malign us as we live for the will of God. May God help us to preach the gospel to them, and may we all be ready to give an account to Him who will judge the living and the dead.

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New Bible Studies: Judges & Ruth

By | March 30, 2022

I have learned that the way I study my Bible best is by writing a Bible study. It’s entirely for my own benefit. But I try to share them in case they are helpful to others. I started studying Judges in April 2021, so it’s taken a long time to finish these two books, but I have greatly benefited.

If you do use them, I only ask that you let me know if you find any typos or confusing questions. I have occasionally gone back to a study and been confused myself by what I meant with a particular question. 🙂

The Judges study, “Judges: The Pity of God for a Canaanized Israel,” is a 5-week study: Judges Bible Study

The Ruth study, “Ruth: The Kindness & Providence of God,” is just 2 weeks: Ruth Bible Study

I have really enjoyed studying God’s work in and through Israel as I progress through my study in the Old Testament. My faith in God, in his sovereign control and purposes, in his love and mercy, has been increased. And I’ve learned that some of these OT writers/narrators were really good at telling their stories.

Happy Studying!

 

 

O, Christian, Are You Weary? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Being “Weary in Well Doing”

By | March 21, 2022

Being a Christian these days can be a wearying task. We fight indwelling sin, forces of spiritual darkness, and personal trials that come our way. In addition to these difficulties, we have suffered through Covid for multiple years and now watch the effects of a new war, inflation, and whatever else might come. Do you find yourself weary in doing good?

In his book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives a chapter to encourage those who are “Weary in Well Doing” (pp. 190–202). His main text is Galatians 6:9: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (KJV). He describes spiritual depression from weariness in this way: “Here, the devil does something much more subtle, in that there is apparently nothing wrong at all. What happens is that people just become weary and tired, while still going in the right direction…. shuffling along with drooping heads and hands… the very antithesis of what the Christian is meant to be in this world” (p. 191).

He then describes weariness in general and turns these thoughts to the Christian life. Life has times of youth and old age in which people are granted “compensations” to help them through these years. Between these times, however, is especially when the weariness may come: “The most difficult period of all in life is the middle period” (p. 192). Whereas one has worked hard to get to this point, the motivation is not the same to continue in one’s success. Goals are achieved, life is routine, and the excitement of learning and discovery may vanish. The internal push for progress dissipates once one reaches life’s plateau.

Lloyd-Jones then focuses on the Christian: “Now this is equally true in the religious or the spiritual life” (p. 192). “The initial experience… was new and surprising and wonderful and clear” (p. 193), but “now we have become accustomed to the Christian life” (p. 193). It seems “routine… the same thing day after day. Then this trial [weariness] arises, and we are no longer carried over it by that initial momentum which seemed to take us through it all in the early stages at the beginning…. This is the condition with which the apostle deals with here…. some kind of doldrums…. a standstill” (p. 193). What are we to do? How can we overcome weariness in well-doing?

Lloyd-Jones warns us of three dangers and tells us what not to do. First, we may be tempted to “give up, or give way, or give in” (p. 194). Second, a greater temptation, “The danger of the majority at this point is just to resign themselves to it and to lose heart and to lose hope” (p. 194). Though it may seem “heroic” or ring of “loyalty” to grit our teeth and carry on, addressing our weariness in our own strength will only lead to weariness still. And third, if we are not careful, “We will resort to artificial stimulants” (p. 195). Even in his day, Lloyd-Jones warns against drunkenness that begins with “a little alcohol to help him to carry on” or giving in to “drugs and various other things” (p. 195).

Finally, Lloyd-Jones offers us some solutions. “The first thing must be self-examination” (p. 196). We have to look at ourselves to discover the root of our weariness. Are we working too hard and too much and running down our bodies? Are we doing the Lord’s work in human strength alone? Also, what is our motivation for doing what we do? To been seen of men or to please God alone? Or, has “God’s work” become not “something which you do” but “something that keeps you going” (p. 198)? Would we know what to do with ourselves if the busyness of ministry and Christian activity was taken away? Are we “being in control” or is “the thing controlling us” (p. 198)? If the latter, “ultimately it exhausts us and depresses us” (p. 198).

Lloyd-Jones then goes on to give three “certain great principles” to overcome weariness in well-doing (p. 198). First, we have to remember that “there are phases in the Christian life as in the whole of life” (p. 198). Life in general and the spiritual life begins with infancy and moves to maturity. As infants, everything is exciting, fresh, and new. In our maturity, our energy is the same but harnessed and used in different ways. We have to remember that Christian maturity will not be quite the same experience as when we first believed.

Second, he says, “It is ‘well doing’ remember,” not just doing (p. 199). “You are set in the midst of the most glorious campaign into which a man could ever enter” (p. 200). If we merely look at the Christian life as “doing” and not “well-doing,” then we have lost sight of who we are in Christ, what He has done in us, and what we are doing for Him.

Third, Lloyd-Jones reminds us, “The next principle is that this life of ours is but a preparatory one…. This life is but the ante-chamber of eternity and all we do in this world is but anticipatory of that” (p. 200). This thought brings us back to Galatians 6:9: “for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Lloyd-Jones closes with a number of texts to reinforce this forward look. We have not fully seen, heard, or imagined what is yet to come (1 Corinthians 2:9). We should keep our mind on heavenly things (Colossians 3:1) and thereby bound in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). As Christ saw the joy set before Him and thought nothing of His cross, so also we may suffer from time to time but will one day join Him above (Hebrews 12:2, 4; cf. Colossians 1:24). If these truths guide you through your weariness, “You will go forward still more gloriously, until eventually you will hear Him saying: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord’, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (p. 202; Matthew 25:21, 23, 34).

Are you weary? Do not give up, and do not grow weary of doing good. In due season you will reap as you persevere in serving the Lord.

A Parable of Christ and His Church 

By | March 17, 2022

From 1 Corinthians 12:12–26, Ephesians 4:15–16, and Colossians 2:18–19

Once upon a time, there was a heavenly Head. It cleansed a body for itself with blood and would remove the remains of filth in time. The Head guided the body with its authority, spirit, and words. The body listened to the Head, held fast, and grew stronger every day. Individual parts worked in harmony, wisdom for angels to see—hands and feet, eyes and ears, joints and ligaments and all. The body would work and walk as one, eventually perfectly in heaven.

As time went on, some malcontent members used their flesh to form a lifeless head. This wraith robbed the body of life and power and gave it death and decay instead. A monstrosity was born—a Head and a head with a body torn between the two. The eyes looked at worthless things, and the ears listened to a lie. The hands did useless work, and its feet wandered where none should go. Joints and ligaments were snapped, and the body began to falter. It limped, it stumbled, it lurched, it staggered—something alive and dead.

Some members held fast to the Head and repaired others to what they were. Some resisted still and tore the body all the more. The body knew pain, its wounds severe, and the true Head could bear it no longer. It guided its members to cut the malcontents away in order to heal and walk as before. New members replaced the old, and the body carried on.

For the phantom and what remained, it continued as an evil shadow of the Head. Its members claimed it spoke through them, hoping to heal their pain. It spoke of angels, visions, this, and that, but never of the Head. It gave rules and regulations to hide the filth but only hastened its decay. For all the head’s words, it neither nourished nor knit its members together. Instead of growth and harmony and heaven, it gave them rot and death and hell.

The head warred against the Head, ripping apart its body, sometimes taking members for its own. The war became harsher as millennia carried on. Finally, at the end of time, the Head perfected its body. Glorious in strength and power, the Head and body fought as one. The Head and body struck down the phantom and its body, flinging it into fire, never to return. The Head and body entered heaven, and there was peace forevermore.