The Soul of the Sluggard

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-7wmhp-c295d8

This week Michelle and Betsy talk about laziness and productivity! The effects of our laziness goes beyond dirty dishes and laundry (even though that is important). Laziness gives way to complacency and bad excuses for not taking care of what God has given to us. The girls discuss how God created work to be good and how we can honor God at our jobs inside and outside of the home. They go beyond opinions and look at what the bible has to say!

No Extras Needed

Christian, have you ever wanted more? Have you ever looked at others’ relationship with Christ and thought: 

“Why do they have that type of relationship with you, Lord, and I don’t? Why can’t I experience miraculous things in my life? Why can’t I hear God’s voice? Why doesn’t God relate intimately with me, like this other person? Am I not doing enough? Is my faith too weak? Am I doing it wrong?” 

Maybe someone even came up to you, while you were content in your relationship with Christ, and suggested that you should want more – that there’s more to be had, that you could experience God in a way that is supernatural and beyond your wildest expectations. 

I’m here to tell you, Christian, to stand firm.

Stand firm in the Word. The Word of the LORD. The creator, sustainer, and sovereign Lord of all. The One who spoke everything into existence. The One who always was, is, and always will be. This God, gave you His Word. Not only that, but He preserved His Word over thousands of years. He has used, faithful sons and daughters to translate it into your own language, so you can read and know it yourself. His Word is never failing, always true, more valuable than all the riches in the world, and yet understandable to us. He gave us this precious Word, that houses the way to know Him and the way to salvation. He sovereignly directed every jot and tittle to show us the plan of redemption. In it, He answers our hardest questions and provides the greatest comfort – even the Comforter Himself.

Christian, you want more? You have it all. You have the living Word of God. You want more? Read it. Study it. Know it. Because in it you know Him. In it, you know salvation. 

But what about the miraculous? You want to experience God, “intimately”? Oh dear friend. I’m sorry that you have overlooked such a gift of your Heavenly Father. From before the foundation of the world He foreknew you. He set you apart to be His. He went to the cross and bought you with the highest price. He then indwells you. How much closer could you get? He never leaves you or forsakes you.

A miracle you want? Friend, He made you alive! You were dead. Dead in sin. You didn’t want Him or seek Him out for help – you were dead. But God, in His unspeakable mercy, He made you alive. He gave you life through the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit, because of the work of Christ on our behalf. Not only did He make you alive. He is making you into the image of His son. Every day, little by little, faithfully sanctifying you. He renews you by His Word and by His Spirit. He teaches you, makes you holy, enables you to love God and your brethren. You want more? Christian you have it all. You have it all because you have Christ. No amount of gifts or miraculous workings could He give that would be greater than the giving of Himself.

Am I saying that these are the only ways that God works miracles today? No. Am I saying that God doesn’t display His enormous grace in other spectacular ways? No. However, I am saying that experiencing any other miracle isn’t the point. Furthermore, these things don’t surpass the things we have already experienced or possess as Sons of God. Don’t get it twisted. What Christ purchased for you can’t be earned, can’t be mustered up by trying to increase your faith, but is guaranteed by His obedience, His perfection, His sacrifice, His power. He doesn’t make you earn what he purchased with His very life.

There’s no new levels to reach. No faith that needs unlocking. No dream destiny to be realized. No amount of miracles, riches, safety, health, or knowledge is more valuable. You have the one thing that trumps it all. You have the One who is over all. You have the fullness of God, right now, if you are in Him. Because He is God. And if you abide in Him, He abides in you. No more striving. No more wishing for more. Open your eyes. You have it, because you have Him. 

If you feel that you are missing out, you don’t feel like God is moving in your life – have you sought out other gods in place of Him? Have you neglected the very Word He gave you to know Him? Have you passed on knowing Christ for an experience, a fleeting feeling of passion? If it’s so, and you find yourself without Christ, turn to Him. Cling to Him, and His work alone, for your right standing before God. Forsake the appeal of comfort, euphoria, or possessions and take hold of Christ. If indeed you are in Him, take comfort, brethren – He is with you until the end. And when He comes again, we will see Him and we will be like Him. There will be no more struggling with flesh and sin. There will be completion of all that he has started in you. Cherish His Word. Never move on from the Gospel. Because in it, we have all we could ever need – Himself.

I was brutish and ignorant;

I was like a beast toward you.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;

you hold my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:22-26)

Your Best Life Now – Damnation Later

Seven million TV program viewers broadcasted across over 100 nations, 10.5 million weekly podcast downloads, 2.69 million Twitter followers, 7.1 million on Facebook, 55 million in book sales, a 16,000 seat church filled to max capacity(1). These are the statistics on Joel Osteen, alone, from 2015; one of the most prolific prosperity teachers in America. 

What is the prosperity gospel? It is a false gospel that says if you have enough faith, God will grant you health, wealth, and happiness. Often it uses the “name it, claim it” mantras that encourage envisioning your success – claim it in the name of Jesus, and you will receive it. Millions of people, across the globe, have been deceived by this hurtful and damning doctrine. Why is this doctrine deadly? Because it distorts the true Gospel, the Gospel that has the power to save. It emphasizes one’s own happiness and physical/material wellbeing over the wellbeing of their own soul. It says to someone that God can be used as a tool in their lives, instead of us being used by God for His glory. It says that we are basically good and God wants us to just be happy, instead of the truth – we are dead in our sins, bound for hell, and in need of a savior.

Sometimes I think to myself, “People know this already, why am I talking about this? This has been exposed, what’s the point of bringing attention to it- again.” But the numbers don’t lie. There are millions being deceived by just this one ministry, not even mentioning the hundreds of other HUGE ministries that propagate the same thing or a variation of it. 

So what other variations do we see? You can see subtler distortions of the true Gospel amongst equally popular ministries. Maybe they aren’t Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, or Joyce Meyer. Maybe they are young, trendy, and talk about things that a younger generation cares about: fulfilling your potential, reaching your dreams, being true to yourself, becoming a better you, or even how to regularly experience the miraculous. They might allegorize a text instead of simply teaching what the text says. They may preach pseudo profundities that sound appealing at first, but are really just hyped up common sense – or even don’t make any sense upon further inspection. Their messages aren’t centered on the Gospel of Christ, instead the main thrust remains the same – self.

Often times the attributes of God aren’t preached, so we don’t know the true God. The messages are plucked from random scripture passages and contorted to support the topic of the pastor’s choosing; relegating the truth of scripture to a self-help reference guide. The scripture passages that are taught are taught in a way that glorifies man and man’s potential, instead of Jesus and His saving work. They teach us that the Bible is written about us, not about Jesus.

Why does this matter? What is the harm? The harm is the amount of people that believe they will be with God in heaven, who will actually spend an eternity in hell. The harm is those who wander into churches, looking for eternal hope, only to be bridled with burdens on how to make themselves better or how they lack the faith to make their wishes become reality. The harm is the fact that these teachings, ideas, and strategies are quietly seeping into the unsuspecting local church.

So what do we do? How do we protect ourselves, and our brothers and sisters, from these deadly doctrines? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have scripture – which does.

Know the Gospel

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 6:23)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

The Gospel is this…

We are all naturally, spiritually dead. All of us. We all naturally hate God, our creator, and love our sin. Even in the midst of our love for sin, God sent his Son, Jesus, God in human flesh, to redeem His people. People that he foreknew before the foundations of the world. Jesus lived perfectly in obeying the commands of God, something as lovers of the darkness we could never do and have never done. Jesus was crucified and while on the cross, paid the full penalty of our sins – absorbing the wrath of God earned by us. After giving up His spirit to death, he was buried and raised to life again 3 days later, further proving his deity and his conquering of sin and death. By trusting and believing what Christ has done for us, we have Christ’s righteousness as our own and therefore can enjoy a right relationship with God. Additionally, when the Spirit regenerates His peoples’ hearts, upon hearing the Gospel of Christ, we are raised from death to life and are enabled to cherish and obey his commands – which are summed up in loving God with all your strength, mind and soul and loving your neighbor as yourself. We are preserved as believers and are sanctified by the Holy Spirit until the day we die or Jesus returns.

Read and know your Bible

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart; the commandments of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true, being altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them indeed Your servant is warned; in keeping them is great reward. Who can discern his own errors? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless and cleansed of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.(Psalm 19:7-14)

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:15-17)

Test everything against Scripture

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1John 4:1)

Reject false teaching and false teachers

but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.(1Thessalonians 5:21)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

Get involved in a local church that teaches the true Gospel

And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Make disciples (and teach them how to be discerning)

You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.(2Timothy 2:2)

If you find yourself realizing that you have been a partaker of a false Gospel, repent and believe! The Gospel is an open invitation to all and without it, you are without eternal hope. No matter how good the false teaching sounds, how deep you are involved, or how confused you might feel, you have an opportunity to forsake it and grab hold of Christ. Don’t delay, for our lives are like a mist – here one moment and gone the next, but eternity is forever.

If you need help, email us. We can point you to resources that can aid you in growing in discernment, Bible study, and finding a solid local church. We have a dedicated resource page and you can also find Bible Study tips on this blog post.

We pray that you will believe the Gospel, grow up into maturity in Christ, and point others to Him. Stay on guard, brethren.

In Christ,

Michelle

  1. https://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2015/08/04/pastor-joel-osteen-by-the-numbers-and-statistics/



Knowing Truth: Bible Study Resources

In lieu of a blog post regarding our past week’s podcast – speaking the truth in love – I felt it was necessary to provide some helpful resources to first know what the truth is. If we don’t rightly understand the truth, there is no way we will be capable of speaking truth in love. If we don’t know the truth, our first priority should be understanding the truth that has been revealed to us, before speaking it to others. I’m not saying we must be the most knowledgeable before we can point others to the truth of the Gospel, but we should know the truth and the Gospel well enough to adequately discern what is true and what is false, and to say what the truth actually is. If we know His Word, we can know truth  (John 17:17)

That being said, below I have compiled some resources to help you in your study of God’s word. I pray this will encourage you and provide you with tools to dig deeper into God’s word to know Him and the salvation He has purchased for His people. 

Personally, I found combining these two methods to be really helpful, allowing you to get your feet wet in all of scripture and also becoming more intimately acquainted with passages or a couple verses.

Study Methods

Birds-eye view approach (broad lens, focusing on the overarching narrative of scripture)

General plan:

  • follow a “whole bible” reading plan at whatever pace is manageable for you
  • Read Old and New Testament each day
  • Make sure you begin at the start of a book, not somewhere in the middle
    • Read like you would any other book!


John MacArthur study method:

  • follow an “Old Testament in a year” plan
  • Read the New Testament, one epistle/Acts/gospel (or section of an epistle/Acts/gospel) every day, for 30 days
    • You’ll become very familiar with the text and maybe even memorize scripture along the way!
    • once the 30 days are up, continue onto the next section of the gospel/epistle or when you’re finished with it, pick another!


Christ Church has a Facebook group that reads the Bible every day together, with thousands of other women. Join their group and pick up wherever they are! Enjoy reading with women across the world! 


Inductive (a concentrated effort on smaller sections of scripture)

OIMA method:

  • Observation
    • Context (who wrote it, when was it written, where was it written, to whom was it written, why was it written)
    • Write out the basic information of the text. The “plain-Jane” information presented
      • Ex. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord
        • Death is earned as a result of sin
        • Eternal life is a free gift of God
        • Eternal life comes through Jesus
        • Jesus is Lord
    • Make note of transition words (therefore, for, but, etc.) and what they are alluding to/referring to
    • Look up words, from the text, in a Bible dictionary 
    • Read the text in other reliable translations
    • Look up cross-references
    • Note the questions you may have about the passage
  • Interpretation
    • Paraphrase the passage
    • How does this point to Christ?
      • What shadow of the Gospel do you see?
      • Is there a Christ typology in the passage?
    • Check your paraphrase with a trustworthy commentary
    • Look up questions you still have about the passage, from trusted sources
    • Listen to a sermon/podcast or read articles on the passage or a concept in the passage, from trusted sources
  • Meditation
    • Journal a prayer to God
    • Pray the Word
  • Application (S.P.E.C.K)
    • Sin 
      • Is there a sin to avoid?
      • Is there a sin I need to repent of?
    • Promise
      • Is there a promise that applies to me?
    • Example
      • Is there an example to follow or not to follow?
    • Command
      • Is there a command to follow?
    • Know
      • What does this tell me about God and his character?
      • Scripture to memorize

Always remember to pray! Pray before you begin. If you are struggling in your study, pray! If you don’t want to study, pray! Pray thanksgiving to God for His Word and the Spirit to understand!


Jen Wilkin also has a great and thorough method of study. In her book “Women of the Word” she outlines this method. You can also find a quick reference guide for her “6 Principles for Solid Bible Study” here: https://static.crossway.org/excerpt/bookmark-women-of-the-word2.pdf


Below I have listed some reliable sites that have reference materials and resources you can use for both types of study!

Online Reference Sites

Bible Hub

https://biblehub.com/

Blue Letter Bible

www.blbclassic.org/index.cfm

E-Sword 

– A free, downloadable Bible Study Tool (iphone app available)

https://e-sword.net/

Trusted Ministries

Ligonier Ministries

https://www.ligonier.org/ (iphone app available)

Table Talk Magazine

  • a great resource if you need direction on what to study, with daily devotionals, reading plan, and related topical articles. Available online(for free) and in print(for an affordable subscription price, and free trial)

https://tabletalkmagazine.com/

Grace to You Ministries

https://www.gty.org/

GotQuestions

https://www.gotquestions.org/

This list is not exhaustive, but a great starting point and contain solid, trusted ministries.

If you know of some resources you think would be a great addition to this list, email/message us and we would love to share them here for others to utilize!

More than anything, I pray you see the absolute necessity, command, and blessing we have been given in studying God’s Word. He is a great God, the God of our salvation, and we can (and should) know Him through His Word. Thanks be to God for this gift!

In Christ,

Michelle