A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 5)

Today something terrible happened to our family: my Maw Maw died.

We knew it was coming. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease almost four years ago. My Maw Maw was one of the most selfless, loving people I have ever met. We traveled down to my parents yesterday, and we enjoyed one brief visit with her before she went to heaven.

It is now 20:49, and as my brother, father, and I watch the Chargers and the Raiders play, I began researching for this post. I have been studying the verses with a form of afflicted. Today’s post focuses on Psalm 119:75.

David writes, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (NASB)

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND DAILY LIFE

There are times when I think on God’s sovereignty in the major events of the world. A certain president gets elected, a world leader passes away, or a enormous financial change occurs, and it is all attributed to God’s sovereign lead. But there are times when seemingly insignificant things seem completely driven by the hand of the sovereign God.

Today was one of those days. When my wife asked if we should head down to my parents, it seemed like a small push. But considering the events of today, it was all from God’s hand.

David, in considering his difficulties, acknowledged God’s sovereignty. This does not mean that God was guilty of sin, but that God allowed certain events to occur in his life. The afflictions David faced, though instigated by Saul, or Ahithophel, or whoever, all originated from the hand of the Almighty.

How this transforms our views of affliction! When we consider that God in His glorious sovereignty works all things, all things, for our good, we find ourselves realizing, like David, that “in faithfulness [God has] afflicted me.”

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

The basis for David’s realization is anchored in the righteousness of God. God’s acts are righteous. Because God is righteous, His acts are righteous. Everything God does stems from and is built upon His righteousness. There is nothing that occurs outside of His righteousness.

Study Psalm 119 and you will quickly see how God’s righteous helps David in his daily life. And when we begin to renew our minds (see Romans 12:1-2), our view of the afflictions of life come from the hands of the righteous God.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND AFFLICTION

The death of my Maw Maw is a terrible affliction. Our hearts are breaking, for a wonderful woman has departed this life. But it comes from the hands of a righteous God, and in that we can rejoice.

What afflictions do you find yourself in? Do you realize that God is righteous?

Pray to be like David, and view all things, all afflictions, as coming from the hands of a righteous God.

“I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:75, NASB)

6 Reasons to Be Content (Part 1)

Six Reasons to Be Content

In Thomas Manton’s Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer he dissects the words of Christ in the minutest way. Like a surgeon performing microscopic surgery, Manton distills many wonderful, life changing truths.

I have shared some of those thoughts as I read through this volume, and I intend to continue sharing these wonderful gems.

Today I read six reasons to be content. It is found under his use 5. This fifth use is, “Let us be contented with that portion which God hath given us of worldly things, if the Lord be the donor.”[1]  So what are the six reasons? Read on to find out!

Reason First, “Because God stands upon his sovereignty; you must stand to God’s allowance, though he gives to others more and to you less; for God is supreme, and will not be controlled in the disposal of what is his own.”[2]

This one hit me hard. I am an achiever by nature. I like to accomplish tasks. I feel better about myself when I can point to several completed sermons, blog posts, etc. But sometimes I find myself discontented. I see people half my age in advanced ministry positions. They are publishing their fifth book, while I have not published an academic article. So I begin to feel discontented.

I am sure that you find yourself in this predicament as well. Perhaps you are feeling disgruntled because you do not have her body. Or, perhaps you are upset because so-and-so has a better paying job. The list of reasons to feel discontented are practically endless. But when we think this way, we end up forgetting one key aspect of life: God is sovereign.

As Manton notes, “The fullness of the earth and all is his; and, therefore, though others have better trading, and finer apparel, and be more amply provided for than we are, God is sovereign, and will give according to his pleasure, and you must be content.”[3]

Or, consider these soul-stirring words of Pink, “The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy. Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases only as He pleases, always as He pleases.”[4]

Christian, have we forgotten this vital truth? Do we realize that when we exhibit discontentment, that we are questioning the sovereignty of God? The first reason, and perhaps the main reason to be content is that God is sovereign.

He made you with your body. He provided your station in life. He gives you breath to perform your duties. He moves and changes as He sees fit. While this may be frustrating, it is also invigorating. We can trust that our Sovereign Father is leading, guiding, protecting, and molding us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

The first reason to be content, then, is because He is sovereign.

[1] Thomas Manton, The Works of Thomas Manton Volume I (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1993), 164

[2] Manton, Works Volume I, 164.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1975), 32.

 

For more from Manton, see:

4 Ways to Minister Like the Angels: A Word from T. Manton

3 Ways to Know You Love God’s Will

On the Goodness of God’s Will: Manton’s Marvelous Memoir

Book Review: “Whole Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)Holistic Human Thriving”

Dr. Jerome D. Lubbe, Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)Holistic Human Thriving (Dr. Jerome D. Lubbe, 2019), 101 pages.

I have spent the past few days working through Dr. Jerome D. Lubbe’s work Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)Holistic Human Thriving. I was intrigued to receive the name of the work, and having dabbled in personality tests for a few years (thanks to a dear friend and mentor), I thought I would give it a read.

OVERVIEW

The work seeks to build upon the Enneagram model from a neuroscience perspective. The goal is to utilize the Enneagram model for “integrating physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual growth through the universal common denominator of brain function.” (under disclaimer) The overarching idea, weaved throughout the entire work, is to achieve wholeness. That goal is kept at the forefront, as Dr. Lubbe discusses the historical development of the Enneagram, its functions, its tests, and its practical applications.

The basic structure of the work follows under seven headlines (there are actually eight, but the final section is for suggested resources). The first section addresses the acknowledgements and disclaimers that any work of this type would necessitate. The second section explains and develops the history and growth of the Enneagram. The third section provides an explanation of the nine numbers, their natures, their wings, and their relative descriptions. The fourth section provides a practical example of how to figure one’s scores and understand their meaning. The fifth section provides incredibly practical ways to develop and enhance the individual’s nine numbers. The sixth section illustrates the lifelong development as a whole individual. The seventh section encourages further research for the Brain-Based Enneagram model and understanding.

STRENGTHS

  1. The first strength of the work is its accessibility.

    I do not have a science degree, yet I found the descriptions completely within my grasp. There are times when I read academic works, and it is an intense labor. Dr. Lubbe provides the language and understanding for the average individual to grasp.

  2. The second strength is its beauty.

    There is an inherent beauty to the work. The book itself displays varied pictures and icons for understanding It is graphically pleasing. But more than that, there is a beauty for self-improvement. I always strive to be better, and this book helps break down the Enneagram model in a way that provides an encouraging push in that direction.

  3. The third strength is its practicality.

    Many times, works such as Dr. Lubbe’s exist in a heavenly realm, unreachable to the average person. There is a difficulty when producing works as academics. The difficulty comes with bringing the knowledge to a level on which the average individual can consume it, but also with regards to how one can use that information for one’s life. Dr. Lubbe provides a step-by-step guide, giving examples and even providing a blank template to develop one’s Enneagram’s identity. The action steps he offers (section five) are all practical.

WEAKNESSES

Perhaps the greatest weakness of Dr. Lubbe’s work is its lack of Christian foundation. As a Christian, I seek to bring every thought under the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I understand that Dr. Lubbe is not writing from a conservative Christian standpoint, but I am evaluating his work upon it. Thus, the failure to include a treatment of one’s standing before God limits the wholeness that is sought.

Another weakness of the work is its view of the history of the Enneagram model. Though it is certainly not written from an academic standpoint, it would be nice for there to be more and clearer information regarding the development of the Enneagram. (For a treatment of this from a conservative Christian standpoint, see Kevin DeYoung’s blog post on the topic.)

LAST WORDS

With the strengths and weaknesses briefly evaluated, I think it is a fascinating tool. I have personally benefited from studying my own and others’ personalities. This, as I see its usefulness, helps bridge out that study into the way the brain relates to the personality. If you are interested, grab a copy of it. Let me know what you think, what you found helpful and/or dangerous, and how you would use it in your life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 4)

Affliction is good. 

You may read those words and, like me, say “What?” The concept of affliction is one that immediately brings forth feelings of discomfort and dread. We are creatures that love our comfort.

We love for the comforts of a fire on a cold and wet day. We long for the warmth of our beds. We leap with joy when we can shed our work clothes and don our sweats. But affliction? It is the troll under the bridge, baring our way on the road to comfort and ease. It is the dragon guarding the gold of comfort hidden in the cave. We dislike comfort in the most intense way imaginable.

So how in the world can affliction be good? 

David pens this conundrum,

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71, NASB)

There are a few things that are important to note at the outset. These thoughts will then, I hope, help to provide an explanation of how affliction can be good.

IN THIS VERSE, AFFLICTION IS A PASSIVE EXPERIENCE

David states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted.” That is, he experienced affliction. He received it. He endured it. People and circumstances afflicted David. He was the receiver, not the instigator.

In our own lives, we do not willingly set out seeking affliction (those who do usually have other issues). It is thrust upon us, like the breaking waves crashing on the seashore. We receive the bad report from the doctor. Our employer gives us the pink slip. That one person continues to drive us crazy.

Our afflictions usually come to us, not the other way around. Why is this important? First, we must remember that God is sovereign. He is in control, and regardless of how deep the affliction may be, it comes from God’s hand. The unimaginable comfort brought by the truths of Romans 8:28-29 provide wells of encouragement. Secondly, it also helps us realize that there are times when we can do everything right and still experience affliction. It is a theological error to think right behavior will bring blessings (read through the book of Job to have this view corrected). However, when we experience trials, we can take comfort that it may not be from our own fault.

IN THIS VERSE, AFFLICTION INCREASED LEARNING

I remember hearing in chapel this same thought. One of my professors would say, “You’ll learn more about God through conflict than you will from a systematic theology book!” I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “This guy is insane. There is no way that would happen.” Enter life and ministry, and the lesson holds true.

David realized that affliction brought a deeper intuition to God’s truth. The affliction David experienced enhanced his learning of God’s Word. He learned God’s statutes. Learning requires repetition and interaction. David’s love for God’s Word provided a rich environment in which affliction could yield positive fruits. But it was only enhanced by affliction.

This can help us endure affliction. Rather than dreading it, we can learn from it. We can grow through it. But only as we seek God’s Word. That is the key difference of Christian suffering. God’s Word is a unique tool, inspired by God, to provide growth toward Christlikeness. Affliction is an enhancer of growth. It is a growth activator, if you will.

IN THIS VERSE, AFFLICTION IS TEMPERED BY GOD’S WORD

The last point that stands out in this verse is the fact that God’s Word tempers our affliction. It is only by God’s Word that we understand that all things, including affliction and suffering, are used for good in the Christian’s life (Romans 8:28-29). Affliction turns us away from ourselves, our own accomplishments and abilities, toward God and His truth.

Guided by Gurnall: Part Seven

In his exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20, William Gurnall notes the need for the Christian to wear armor. He plainly writes, “The Christian must be armed for the War.” (Gurnall, 45)

In his opening discussion of Ephesians 6:11, he provides the importance of regeneration. Without God’s saving grace, the individual is in “a Christless graceless state.” (Gurnall, 45) He goes on to describe this terrible situation, “A soul out of Christ is naked and destitute of all armour to defend him against sin and Satan.” (Gurnall, 45)

CONSIDER THE ENEMY

This thought should immediately strike fear into our hearts. Satan is no thin, red devil running around with a pitchfork. He is the prince of darkness (Eph. 6:12, cf. Col. 1:13), and the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). He has vast power, so much so that even Michael would not bring an accusation against him (Jude 9). He walks around like a lion “seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, ESV). While Christians should fear God, we must be careful not to approach the great enemy of our souls in a haphazard manner.

CONSIDER THE STATE OF THE UNREGENERATE

As Christians, our greatest privilege is to share the Gospel with people. We seek to evangelize the lost, to see Satan’s kingdom of darkness overcome with the light and love of Jesus. But in our efforts to preach the Gospel, we must remember the state of those to whom we preach.

Gurnall offers four “notions” of those in this Christless state. (Gurnall, 46)

“IT IS A STATE OF ALIENATION FROM GOD” (Gurnall, 46)

Paul encourages believers to remember their hopeless state before Christ (see Eph. 2:12). All people, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, political view, economic status, or any other class, who have not been born again at in a state of alienation from God. Gurnall states their sad case, “He is without God in the world; he can claim no more protection from God, than an out-lawed subject from his prince.” (Gurnall, 46) The people to whom we communicate the Gospel have no protection from the God of heaven.

“THE CHRISTLESS STATE IS A STATE OF IGNORANCE, AND SUCH MUST NEEDS BE NAKED AND UNARMED” (Gurnall, 46)

This spiritual war, unobserved to the natural eye, wages all over. The sad state is one of complete ignorance. Gurnall remarks, “He that cannot see his enemy, how can he ward off the blow he sends?” (Gurnall, 46) As we share the Gospel, the Christless people of earth have no idea of the enemy’s attacks. They are open, exposed, like a nerve without a tooth. They experience great pain, but are unaware of the enemy’s affliction. Let us pray that God will deliver them out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light!

“THE CHRISTLESS STATE IS A STATE OF IMPOTENCY” (Gurnall, 47)

The souls to whom we preach are impotent. They cannot fight their own flesh, let alone the devil. What hope have they? They have no armor, nor a Protector. They have no weapons, nor a Defender. Gurnall describes their plight, “What the Spirit of God doth in a saint, that in a manner doth Satan in a sinner. The Spirit fills the heart with love, joy, holy desires, fears; so Satan fills the sinner’s heart with pride, lust, lying.” (Gurnall, 47) Imagine the desperate plight of these bearers of the image of God!

“THE STATE OF UNREGENERACY IS A STATE FRIENDSHIP WITH SIN AND SATAN” (Gurnall, 47)

The state of Christless souls is one of friendship with sin and Satan. Remember  James’ words, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4, NASB). No Christless soul can be a friend of God, nor can it be an enemy of Satan. Gurnall even discusses the possibility of when an individual seems to be fighting against sin and Satan. He writes, “Sometimes indeed there appears a scuffle between Stan and a carnal heart, but it is a mere cheat, like the fighting of two fencers on a stage. You would think at first they were in earnest, but observing how wary they are, [and] where they hit one another, you may soon know they do not mean to kill; and that which puts all out of doubt, when the prize is done you shall see them making merry together with what they have got of their spectators, which was all they fought for.” (Gurnall, 47-48)

CONSIDER OUR DUTY

As Christians, we are to don this armor in order to fight our own wars. We still have indwelling sin, and we are told to fight against it in the power of God’s might. We must remember, consider, meditate upon the destructive nature and devilish desires of our enemies.

As Christians, we are to fight against the powers of darkness through the grace of God. Gurnall discusses the weapons of our warfare later, but for now we need to remember the plight of the Christless soul. What are we doing to tell people the Gospel? How are we evangelizing the lost?

May we be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!

 

MORE IN THE SERIES

Guided by Gurnall: Introduction

Guided by Gurnall: Part One

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part Three

Guided by Gurnall: Part Four

Guided By Gurnall: Part Five

Guided by Gurnall: Part Six

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 3)

Psalm 119 has seven verses that mention the word affliction. These references help form a framework from which the believer, the child of God, can endure, learn from, and thrive in, affliction.

Of course this idea seems to be a complete contradiction. But as we mentioned before, God’s workings are quite beyond our ability to comprehend (see Isaiah 55:8-9). The fact that we can endure affliction and thrive and learn in it is astounding.

Our second verse is Psalm 119:67. David writes,

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (KJV)

This single verse provides an interesting timeline of events. Like the Order of Service printed on a church bulletin, this verse shows the progression of David’s experiences in affliction and the result of facing them.

MISLEADING AND DECEPTION

David plainly states, “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” That is, before David experienced trouble, he went astray. The phrase went astray is an interesting one. It comes from one Hebrew word, and though there are several shades of meaning, the basic concept is one of deception.

Another was to describe this is misled. Misleading can come in a variety of ways. For example, David experiencing a form of misleading when he was transporting the Ark of the Covenant. In II Samuel 6, David decides to take a large number of people (30,000, according to 6:1), to retrieve the Ark. It must have been a thrilling experiencing! All of those people celebrating the return of the Ark, surrounded by music and joy (6:2-5)!

Then something terrible happened. Tragedy struck a man named Uzzah. As they (Uzzah and Ahio, brothers, 6:3) drove the cart, the Ark slipped and began to fall and “Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it…And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (6:6-7).

Can you imagine how David, and the people, felt? It seemed as if they were doing everything right and then tragedy struck.

MISLEADING AND US

Does that not happen to us? Do we not proceed with life thinking we are doing well, but like Uzzah we face some affliction? The question is, “Why?”

Why did God strike Uzzah down? After all, he was trying to save the Ark. Why would God do that?

Affliction was a tool used in Uzzah’s, the people’s, and David’s life to remove that misleading. We are human beings, prone to deception and faulty thinking (see Ephesians 2:3; 4:17-18, for example). We believe we are doing right. We may think our motives are right, and therefore justify the means. We may think the end is right, and therefore justify the means.

This is what happened during the transportation of the Ark. David, leading the people, thought that by bringing the Ark back to the land they were doing good. This affliction, no doubt, drove David to consider God’s truth about the Ark. He would have been sent to the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) in which he would have read Numbers 4:15, 16, and 20.

And this is what happens in our own lives. Far too often we justify unbiblical ways of doing deeds, thinking thoughts, or spreading speech by the motive, the ends, and even the means. And, perhaps unbeknownst to us, we sin.

MISLEADING AND CORRECTION

However, God in His infinite mercy and marvelous sovereignty, uses our failures and deceptions to conform us to the image of His dear Son and our Savior, Jesus (Romans 8:29; cf. Gen. 50:20). David, brokenhearted and confused, “was afraid of the LORD that day” (II Sam. 6:9). Before David experienced this affliction he went astray. He was deceived.

Like us, we often need affliction in order to be driven to the God we worship. Like bumper bars in a bowling lane, affliction keeps us, like it did David, from being misled into the gutters of sin.

MISLEADING AND GOD’S WORD

Affliction is a unique tool in the hand of our sovereign, good God. He uses it so that we, like David, can say, “now I have kept thy word.”

Brothers and sisters, let us keep the Word of God! Let affliction be our guides to read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word!

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 2)

A NERDY INTRODUCTION

In our last post we began to examine Psalm 119:50. We used the ESV translation, which states, ” “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

The ESV chose an interesting way to translate the word אמרתך. The word is translated promise. However, in the NASB and the NKJV, is is translated word.

According to Logos, the word  אמרתך (or its derivatives) is translated one of three ways: word(s), speech, and command.

Psalm 119_50_Word Graphic
The results from a word search on Logos 8, gathered from the NASB95. The graph represents the occurrences of each translation of the Hebrew word. The total amounts of translation are: word(s): 32; speech: 4; and command: 1.

Generally, then, the אמרתך is used to describe word, speech, or a command. In the case of Psalm 119, we can safely presume it refers to God’s Word. Almost every verse of Psalm 119 (176 in total) refer to God’s Word in one form or another. The next question is, How does God’s Word (or promise, as the ESV renders it), provide comfort in affliction?

A PROFOUND TRUTH

Books can be written to answer that question. To limit our discussion (and the length of this post), I want to focus on a few verses from this Psalm in particular.

To begin with, there is a specific happiness that accompanies biblical obedience. The psalmist begins the wonderful chapter with these words, “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk int he law of the LORD.” (Psalm 119:1, NASB) During times of affliction, whether spiritual or physical, comfort is gained from the joy of obedience (compare this with Hebrews 12:2).

Or take another verse, Psalm 119:6, “Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments.” (NASB) When we look at God’s commands. Of course the word entails more than simply looking with one’s eyes. It involves observation, intent attentionprolonged and purposeful examination. Even during affliction, observance of God’s Word frees one from shame.

SO WHAT?

So what does this mean for you? Well, it depends upon the affliction facing you. What are you going through? What troubles are attacking your body or soul? What family members are experience tumultuous times?

Do you turn to the only place that can provide true help? As Dr. Berg bluntly states, “It is, rather, mutinous for created beings to turn to themselves for solutions when they were created to depend upon God Himself.” [Jim Berg, God Is More Than Enough: Foundations For a Quiet Soul (Greenville, SC: Journey Forth, 2010), 6.] We are so prone to turn to everything but God, and He has graciously provided His Word to help us during times of affliction. When dealing with anxiety, we can turn to the God Who holds everything together. When struggling with sexual temptation, we can find satisfaction in the wonders of Jesus Christ. The afflictions will vary in kind and intensity, but the answer is always the same: God’s Word.

As we continue to journey through these verses in Psalm 119, I hope that you realize that God’s Word is such a treasure-trove of comfort and delight.

 

OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 1)

In a previous post, we begin a brief overview of affliction as it appears in Psalm 119. The subject of affliction appears seven times in the mammoth psalm. We begin with the first appearance of affliction in Psalm 119:50.

David pens these words,

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” (ESV)

A BRIEF DEFINITION

Affliction is translated from the Hebrew word עני, which, according to one lexicon, means “affliction, poverty.” Another possible definition is “misery.” No matter which one you choose, the picture is not pleasant.

The connection with affliction and the trials we face are obvious. We are all afflicted with a variety of problems. They vary in significance and intensity, but they afflict us all. This broad understanding helps us in every situation, and is another evidence of the complete sufficiency of God’s Word for all our problems.

CAN THERE BE COMFORT IN AFFLICTION?

If you are like me, you may find yourself asking the question, “Can there be comfort in affliction?” It would appear to be an oxymoron to many of us. Imagine finding comfort while mourning the loss of a spouse. Try to find comfort when the doctor informs you that you have six months to live. Look for comfort when your bills are more than your income.

These are all severe cases, but what about the “little things”? Can you find comfort when you are late to work? Is there comfort for your car breaking down once again? Does a severed relationship with a friend at school make room for comfort?

Can comfort be present in affliction, severe or little?

David’s answer is a resounding yes. Contrary to the marred thinking of sinful human beings (see Ephesians 4:17-18), Christians can find comfort during times of affliction.

A LIFE CHANGING TRUTH

Is this not wonderful news? Regardless of the scenario of affliction, the believer can receive comfort. Though the trials will vary in intensity and timing, we can find comfort, true and life-infusing comfort.

The idea is consolation. We all need to be comforted, to feel that everything will be alright. God’s Word comforts us. Like feasting on chicken noodle soup after a bout with sickness, God’s Word provides healing down to the very depths of our souls.

LIFE GIVING PROMISE

How does David find comfort during times of affliction? David says, “your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:50, ESV). The promise found in the sacred Scriptures provide life-infusing comfort during those times of adversity.

The question remains, what promise?

For that, you will have to wait until the next post.

God’s Mercy and Our Daily Bread

Thomas Manton’s An Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer has been a remarkable work. My soul has been filled, my heart has been challenged, and my joy has been stirred. The depth to which the Lord’s Prayer can be plumbed is, in my estimation, unimaginable.

Yet Thomas Manton has performed a wonderful work by presenting one more beautiful facet of the Lord’s Prayer. It comes on the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11, NASB)

Though his treatment of this verse spans seventeen pages, I found one point particular spectacular. Manton writes,

Ps. cxxxvi. 25, you have there the story of the notable effects of God’s mercy, and he concludes it thus: ‘Who giveth food to all flesh; for his mercy endureth forever.’ Mark, the psalmist doth not only ascribe those mighty victories, those glorious instances of his love and power, to his unchangeable mercy, but our daily bread. In eminent deliverances of the church we will acknowledge mercy; yea, but we should do it in every bit of meat we eat, for the same reason is rendered all along.

….It is not only mercy which gives us Christ, and slavation by Christ, and all those glorious deliverances and triumphs over the enemies of the church; but it is mercy which furnisheth our tables, it is mercy that we taste with our mouths and wear at our backs.

(Thomas Manton, Works, Volume 1, 154-155)

I just read that Psalm this morning in my private reading. What powerful thoughts! Every time we pray for God’s provision for our daily sustenance, it is because His mercy endures forever.

What a glorious thought! Have you contemplated this truth today? Do you realize that everything you have been gifted is all because of God’s mercy and provision? Imagine how different our lives would be if we, like Jesus instructed us to, prayed “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

Disciple: 5 Lectures for the Help of the Church

In July-August of 2018 I was allowed to lead one of our Life Seminars (a Bible study). I chose the topic of discipleship, as, in my humble opinion, churches can improve in this area.

I broke the subject down into five lectures. Below are my own lecture notes and accompanying study notes. If they are helpful, praise God! All mistakes are my own, and any glory belongs to our gracious and sovereign Heavenly Father.

WHO IS A DISCIPLE?

Who Is a Disciple? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 1

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE BELIEVE?

What Does a Disciple Believe? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 2

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, GENERALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Generally? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 3

WHAT DOES A DISCIPLE DO, SPECIFICALLY?

What Does a Disciple Do, Specifically? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 4

HOW DO I MAKE DISCIPLES?

How Do I Make Disciples? Lecture Notes
Disciple Study Notes Lecture 5