This week’s episode of WotT is hosted by Betsy and her husband Travis! Travis and Betsy sit down to discuss how serving the body of Christ is a call for all Christians. They look to the Bible to see examples of Jesus serving his people and how every act service should bring glory to God. They also offer up practical points on how to serve and how not to. We hope this episode spurs you on to love and serve the church even more!
The Old Testament does a great job at showing the nature of man and our natural depravity, but often we unintentionally unhitch from studying the nitty-gritty contained within those books. Tag along with Michelle on this solo-mission to see the benefits of reading and studying the Old Testament!
During this past week’s episode, we wandered into sluggard territory. And when I say that I wandered into that territory, I mean that I used my frequent flyer points and checked into my usual room.
Battling laziness and an unproductive lifestyle can be a real challenge. Especially if you are similar to me and you LOVE serving yourself. You love serving yourself so much, in fact, that you don’t even want to make yourself serve yourself (Prov. 26:15)
Now before we go any further, if you find yourself physically unable to function in daily life, seek out some help. You very well may be experiencing depressive symptoms and could benefit from biblical counseling or other solutions provided by a medical doctor. I’ve been there. Betsy’s been there. It’s alright to get help. It’s not alright to suffer under the guilt of a malfunctioning body.
Now back to Sluggardville.
Why is it in this day and age, where we have modern conveniences out the wazoo, we still find it difficult to get the most simple tasks completed – or even started! What’s the major malfunction??
Well, a helpful resource Do More Better by Tim Challies, has brought to my attention the real issue is not just a motivational one, but a theological one. When we have a misconstrued idea of who God is, what He has done, and how we are to respond, we can adopt or continue to live out the soul of the sluggard. We see in the beginning God modeling how He works – He created all things, they were good, and then at the end of His creating – He rested. Now before the fall, we were called to be fruitful and multiply and to subdue the earth. However, thanks to man’s sinful actions, against a holy God, our spiritual and physical realities were doomed to death. Not only that, we still are required to fulfill this command of working – but it is going to be exhausting and produce little fruit!
In the beginning of Ecclesiastes we read how our labor is futile. We work to only do it all over again. And we work for what perishes. We toil and toil, yet all we have to show for it is constant toiling.
Agh! WHY! (says every person who does the same thing day in and day out with little to no visible fruits of their labor)
But, enter Christ. God in flesh. The God incarnate. Fully man and fully God. He took on flesh, worked daily for the Lord, perfectly loving God and loving neighbor, and completed the work for us. We no longer have to strive to not be dead. Our biggest problem – solved. In Christ, we don’t get the wages of our sin. Instead we get the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
So, what does this mean for our working? How is this supposed to help me not be a lazy bum all the time? Well folks, because Christ finished the work that we couldn’t do, upon adoption as Sons we get the Holy Spirit. Through this incredible gift, we are equipped to do every good work. That’s right, we were saved so we could do good works! Because doing good works brings glory to God and our purpose is to glorify God! These good works express our love for God and love for others.
Not only that, we know that our work is not futile. Even if it seems futile (I see you toddler mom’s out there), we are working for Heavenly rewards. No longer are you working for the perishable, but when you do good works, you get to glorify God and love others; and by consequence, store up riches in heaven. These riches are even greater than any perishable wealth we gain here, because they are God fulfilling our every desire in Himself (Psalm 16:11). WIth every good work we do here, we are making the character of God known to others as well as experiencing conformity to Christ ourselves. The longing we will increasingly experience as we know and love Him to greater degrees while on Earth, will be satisfied when we are with Him in Heaven.
So what constitutes a good work? Well in James we read that faith and good works are inseparable. Good works are evidence of our saving faith. We cannot be merely hearers of the word and not doers. And these tasks, we should put ourselves to do, are works that the Lord is concerned with. In the world there are many things considered “good works” that are in fact in opposition to what God has commanded us to do. However, we know that the law can be summarized in loving God and loving neighbor. We read in Galatians that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (5:6) and that we were called to freedom, but “not to use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”” (5:13-14).
Works of the flesh (that we are not to do) are :sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, fits of anger, rivalries, disensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like those” (Gal. 5:19-20). But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). We are to be imitators of God, walking in love, “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5: 1-2). Therefore, we shouldn’t be focused on good works that benefit ourselves (immediate satisfaction, or for self-centered ambition), instead we should be laying down our lives, our wants, our goals, our comfort to display the works of the Spirit – the fruit of the Spirit.
We should be working as Christ did, laying our life down for the brethren. That means, anything you do, you are placing the needs of others ahead of your own. You live to make others successful, to display Christ to them, to empty yourself in order to fill others with the love you’ve been shown in the Gospel. Any work that fulfills the need of someone else, is a good work. Any work that requires self-sacrifice to the betterment of others, is a good work. When you are patient with your fussy child, you are doing a good work. When you do anything that relieves a burden off of someone else, you are doing a good work. When you imitate Christ throughout your day, displaying the fruit of the Spirit, you are doing a good work. Doing good works isn’t some extravagant show, most of the time, it is simply laying down of our own life for another. It doesn’t always come in the form of “look at this great achievement from my good works”. It is humble, it is meek, it is contrary the flesh and that is why we need the Holy Spirit to do them. And ultimately our overarching charge is to go and make disciples. Nothing requires more self-sacrifice, or a supernatural ability to love and put others before ourselves at every turn.
Once we have the proper view of what good works are, and how we are able to do them in the first place, we can move on to the practical stuff. This is where I can point you to a couple places that have been of benefit to me. One is Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle. It revolutionized the way I think of “woman’s work”. She does a fabulous job of encouraging women to dig in deep to their calling, not settling to just do the bare minimum to get by, but to make your life a testament to the ability of women in the home. Whether that is through cooking, organizing, home-schooling, creating, money management – anything that we are responsible for can be beautified and point to the glory of the Lord.
Second is Do More Better by Tim Challies. He has done such a fabulous job at laying the foundation of our true problem in fighting laziness and being unproductive. Linked below is his webpage for the book and some of the worksheets he recommends using.
Christian, I am praying now that you and I would see the field set before us. That we would reap what has been sown and grown by the Lord. That we would lay our lives down, making disciples and loving our brethren to the Glory of God.
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!
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)
Join the girls as they talk modern day prophecy, mysticism, whether these are Gospel issues, and how you can really hear from the Lord.
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.