Encouragement for the Daughters of Adam

Women who ministered 800W

and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, – Luke 8:2

“Let us mark … in these verses, the power of the grace of God, and the containing influence of the love of Christ.  We read that among those who followed our Lord in his journeyings, were “certain women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.”

We can well imagine that the difficulties these holy women had to face in becoming Christ’s disciples were neither few nor small.  They had their full share of the contempt and scorn which was poured on all the followers of Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees.  They had, besides, many a trial from the hard speeches and hard usage which any Jewish woman who thought for herself about religion would probably have to undergo.  But none of these things moved them.  Grateful for mercies received at our Lord’s hands, they were willing to endure much for His sake.  Strengthened inwardly, by the renewing power of the Holy Ghost, they were enabled to cleave to Jesus and not give way.  And nobly they did cleave to Him to the very end!  It was not a woman who sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver.  They were not women who forsook the Lord in the garden and fled.  It was not a woman who denied Him three times in the high priest’s house.  But they were women who wailed and lamented when Jesus was led forth to be crucified.  They were women who stood to the last by the cross.  And they were women who were first to visit the grave “where the Lord lay.”  Great indeed is the power of the grace of God!

Let the recollection of these women encourage all the daughters of Adam who read of them, to take up the cross and to follow Christ.  Let no sense of weakness, or fear of falling away, keep them back from a decided profession of religion.  The mother of a large family, with limited means, may tell us that she has not time for religion.  The wife of an ungodly husband may tell us that she dares not take up religion.  The young daughter of worldly parents may tell us that it is impossible for her to have any religion.  The maid-servant in the midst of unconverted companions, may tell us that a person in her place cannot follow religion.  But they are all wrong, quite wrong.  With Christ nothing is impossible.  Let them think again, and change their minds.  Let them begin boldly in the strength of Christ, and trust Him for the consequences.  The Lord Jesus never changes.  He who enabled “many women” to serve Him faithfully while He was on earth, can enable women to serve Him, glorify Him and be His disciples at the present day.

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume Two, Luke (Michigan:Baker Book House, 2007) 244-246.

Thank you, Katie Luther!

Lucas Cranach d. Ä.: Katharina von Bora, um 1525

Most Protestants are familiar with Martin Luther’s, The Bondage of the Will. In it, Luther issues a passionate and theologically robust response to Erasmus’s defense of synergistic salvation.  In typical Luther fashion, Luther gets right to the heart of a gospel of grace and upholds the sovereignty of God alone in salvation. Does God “work alone” to effect our salvation?  Or, does He “work together” with us?  The subject of the debate is as relevant to the church today as it was then.

But did you know that if it weren’t for Katie, we probably wouldn’t have The Bondage of the Will? The Luther’s had been married only a few months when Erasmus published his diatribe against sovereign grace. Luther doesn’t seem too compelled to respond — maybe it has something to do with the fact that Erasmus put forth a half-hearted work, himself pressured by outside influences. But his new bride doesn’t letup. She stays on him for almost a year. Finally, he acquiesces and fires off a response in a few weeks.  The result is one of Christianity’s most important works.

In the first months of their marriage, when she insisted that her husband could not leave Erasmus unanswered, she had been pushed into the forefront by Camerarius, as we know. Camerarius was driven by objective reasons. The diatribe that Erasmus had published was the Humanists’ declaration of war on the Reformer. And with the prominence of both men, the battle had to be taken up and fought until there was an honorable accord or one of the combatants was defeated. Katie maybe had little understanding of such deliberations, but she understood that the opponents could easily see her husband’s stubborn silence as conceding defeat—a concern which Luther himself shared otherwise—and she didn’t stop assailing him with urgent pleas until, after he had indignantly procrastinated almost a year, he finally overcame his reluctance and wrote his reply in a few weeks.[1]

We owe Martin Luther a tremendous debt for defending the faith, but hats off to Katie for staying on her man! And if you are a husband, what does this little historical anecdote teach you? Listen to your wife! She knows things. :)

P.S. In the pipeline for October 31st, 2014, Reformation Day, is a 3-Part Series on Katie Luther. If you love Martin Luther, wait till you meet his bride!

[1] Ernst Kroker, The Mother of the Reformation: The Amazing Life and Story of Katharine Luther (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing, 2013) Kindle edition.

 

Five Biblical Principles to Fight Regret

Worried young woman being accusedRecently I met a woman who confessed, “My life is not what I thought it would be.”  She went on to share the many regrets of her heart. Webster’s dictionary defines regret like this:  “to feel sad or sorry about (something that you did or did not do).”  Or, the Oxford Dictionary states that it is to, “Feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).”  With the exception of a few, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have regrets. But for some, like my new friend, it is a major cause of depression. She is harassed by thoughts of, “If only,” “I should have,” “Why didn’t I?” Why did I?” 

You don’t have to be a Christian to understand the folly and futility of living in regret.  It’s common sense, isn’t it?  No one can undo the past. What’s more, the only thing we accomplish when we obsess over the past is to repeat the same in the present!  It’s an utter waste of time. But it’s one thing to know you shouldn’t do it, and quite another to not do it. To fight regret we need more than common sense.  We need the Word of God. Thankfully, there are biblical truths to help us combat the sin of living in regret — and make no mistake about it, it is sin.  If you are a Christian, no matter what your past is, you don’t have to live with regret. Below are a few biblical principles to help you fight.

  1. MISTAKES AND FAILURES ARE PART OF THE PLAN: Ephesians 1:11 states, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”  The doctrine of predestination teaches that before the foundation of the world, God planned our lives. In some mysterious way, this includes the bad things.  Our mistakes, the sins we committed, and the sins committed against us – all of this is working for good.  This does not mean that God condones sin but in a mysterious way, these things are working to accomplish God’s loving purpose for us which, from the beginning, was to lavish us with His love. Our mistakes, the follies, the sinfulness of the heart, they are all factored in by the Master Architect, who lovingly crafts and foreordains each event and circumstance in our life.  For the Christian, all things are working for good (Romans 8:28). Our times are in His hands (Psalms 31:15).
  2. BEING BROKEN IS BETTER THAN BEING PROUD: Psalms 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Failure teaches us things that victories don’t.  As for me, I cringe to think what I would be without the humiliations and the sufferings.  Crushing is good.  It keeps us wholly reliant upon the grace of God.  Left to our own devices most of us would believe our own hype. Rightly did the hymnist say, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” Trouble helps us stay at the cross.  Moreover, it keeps us kind and gentle, especially to the weaker among us who too often get steam-rolled by the stronger.  Don’t despise weakness. It’s good.
  3.  GOD IS NOT BOUND BY TIME:   Psalms 90:4 says, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” So many Christians look back and lament what could have been.  Wasted or lost years that can never be retrieved.  But what is lost to us is not lost to God. God is able to restore what was lost over many years in a single year (Joel 2:25)!  He does not operate under our limited ideas of time.  He (not us) defines the terms of our purpose and usefulness in the Kingdom. Scripture is littered with examples of saints who thought their best years were behind them.  Moses, Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and the list goes on.  And, many times, he saves the best for last (Matthew 19:30)!  The bottom line is that God is a Redeemer and if not in this life, He will restore in the next.
  4. MISTAKES CANNOT SEPARATE US FROM GOD: Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Whatever our past mistakes separate us from, they cannot separate us from the love of God!  If you are a born-again believer, you and Jesus are one!  Octavious Winslow writes, “Nothing shall separate you from his love, nor sever you from his care, nor exclude you from his sympathy, nor banish you from his heaven of eternal blessedness.”  No matter what your past is, your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).
  5. GOD IS ON THE THRONE (NOT YOU):  Lamentations 5:19 says, “But you, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations.”  Hard as it is to imagine, we are not the center of the universe!  We do not hold the universe together.  Jesus does (Colossians 1:17)! D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes that there is a morbid and sinful preoccupation with self when we dwell on our past.  It’s good to be introspective and to examine yourself in light of Scripture but for heavens sake, if you are a Christian, you must temper it with the amazing grace of God! Nothing matters more — not the consequences of your sin, not the consequences of someone else’s sin — than what God did in Christ when He sent his only begotten son to die for our sins (John 3:16). And, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

If you are a Christian crippled in the present by the tyranny of the past, know this:  You don’t have to live like that.  Christ suffered the blow for it all. Romans 6:14 says,“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”  With God, You can triumph over regret and live a “full and abundant life” (John 10:10).

Never look back again; never waste your time in the present; never waste your energy; forget the past and rejoice in the fact that you are what you are by the grace of God, and that in the Divine alchemy of His marvelous grace you may yet have greatest surprise of your life and existence and find that even in your case it will come to pass that the last shall be first.  Praise God for that fact that you are what you are, and that you are in the Kingdom. – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Recommended Reading:  Spiritual Depressions:  Its Causes and Cures by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Recommended Listening:  Spiritual Depression #4: Regrets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News of a Better World by John Newton

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Dear Brother,

Blessed be God for the news of a better world, where there will be no sin, trouble, nor defect forever!

What shall it be — when the Lord shall call us up to join with those who are now singing before the eternal throne!

What shall it be — when all the children of God, who in different ages and countries have been scattered abroad — shall be all gathered together, and enter into that glorious and eternal rest provided for them!

What shall it be — when there shall not be one trace of sin or sorrow remaining — not one discordant note to be heard, nothing to disturb or defile, or alleviate the never-ceasing joy!

Many a weary step we have taken, since the Lord first drew us to Himself; but we shall not have to tread the past way over again. Some difficulties may remain — but we know not how few. Perhaps before we are aware, the Lord may cut short our conflict and say, “Come up hither!” At the most, it cannot be very long! He who has been with us thus far — will be with us to the end. He knows how to cause our consolations to exceed our greatest afflictions!

And when we get safely home — we shall not complain that we have suffered too much along the way. We shall not say, “Is this all I get — after so much trouble?” No! When we awake in that glorious world, we shall in an instant — be satisfied with His likeness. One sight of Jesus as He is — will fill our hearts, and dry up all our tears!

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

Letters of John Newton