Bible Study, Mailbag

Throwback Thursday ~ The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it

Originally published October 9, 2017

 

I am struggling with reading the Word. I find myself having to drag myself to it to dedicate time to read it, struggling against doing other things instead. I love the Lord with all my heart. I love His Word, LOVE everything about the Bible. I know that love for God’s word and hunger for it is one of the marks of salvation. I want to hunger for reading it like a baby hungers for milk. I want that passion for His word.

Please don’t tell me to check my salvation as I daily obsess about this to the point where my sister in Christ said I have OCD about this. I hear about false converts and it scares me. An elder told me that you can do the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and I thought that once I was saved I could not do that, that was the sin of unbelief. Now, I am sometimes scared to even think about the Holy Spirit, because what if I do that! Please take me Lord, before I would do that! Please help me. 

This question from a friend of my Facebook page just reached through the screen and clutched at my heart. I’ve been right where this sister is now, and I know many of you have been there as well. If you would, take a moment to pray for her and any other Christian you know who’s struggling with this kind of anxiety in her walk.

The Unpardonable Sin
You cannot commit the unpardonable sin. No one living today can commit that sin. I don’t mean to sound harsh, as we all make mistakes, but I am appalled at your elder’s ignorance on this issue and what he said to you. It’s a very common question, and he should at least know a simple answer to it. I’ve covered it here: What is the unpardonable sin?

Check your salvation?
There is no reason for me to tell you to check your salvation, and it never entered my mind to do so. Lost people don’t ask God to take their lives lest they commit the unpardonable sin or worry about whether or not they hunger enough for God’s Word. Only saved people think like that, because saved people are new creations in Christ, with the mind of Christ, who desire to please Christ. Lost people can’t even understand the things of God because these things are revealed by the Holy Spirit, which they don’t have.

I would really encourage you to work through the book of 1 John (I’ve written a study on it if you’d find that helpful). John wrote this epistle to reassure believers. As he says in 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Getting over the “hump” of reticence.
What you describe about dragging yourself to do your Bible study but then loving the Word once you get over that hump of reticence is absolutely, without a doubt, one hundred per cent normal. Pastors feel that way. Elders feel that way. Bible teachers feel that way. Every Christian, including me, feels that way at least sometimes. Usually several times a week for me.

That feeling does not mean you’re not hungering for the Word or that you don’t have a passion for it. Indeed, if you weren’t hungering for the Word with such a passion, you wouldn’t be so up in arms about feeling tempted to do something besides reading your Bible.

That feeling is not something lacking in your desire for the Word. That feeling is Satan tempting you to do anything rather than study your Bible. And the way you combat that temptation? You pray through it, pick up your Bible, and start reading – regardless of how you feel about it. Obedience is hard sometimes. But when you grit your teeth against that temptation and obey God anyway, that is a precious offering to the Lord. He doesn’t require that you feel all hearts and flower-y while you’re doing it. That’s you putting that pressure on yourself. This is battle. Fight. You obey and let God worry about your feelings.

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31a

Peace be unto you.
God did not save you in order for you to spend your life in a state of fear and anxiety. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Forever starts the moment you’re saved. God wants you to enjoy spending time with Him in this life just as much as He wants you to in the next.

Christ is the Prince of Peace and His desire is for you to be at peace with Him. He knows you inside and out and He still delights in you. It is safe to let go, relax, and rest in His love and delight. He is not going to let go of you. Here are a few Scriptures that may bring you some comfort and reassurance. Believe them. Trust Him. He loves you. Let that sink in and simply love Him back.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Psalm 149:4-5


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it

 

I am struggling with reading the Word. I find myself having to drag myself to it to dedicate time to read it, struggling against doing other things instead. I love the Lord with all my heart. I love His Word, LOVE everything about the Bible. I know that love for God’s word and hunger for it is one of the marks of salvation. I want to hunger for reading it like a baby hungers for milk. I want that passion for His word.

Please don’t tell me to check my salvation as I daily obsess about this to the point where my sister in Christ said I have an OCD about this. I hear about false converts and it scares me. An elder told me that you can do the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and I thought that once I was saved I could not do that, that was the sin of unbelief. Now, I am sometimes scared to even think about the Holy Spirit, because what if I do that! Please take me Lord, before I would do that! Please help me. 

This question from a friend of my Facebook page just reached through the screen and clutched at my heart. I’ve been right where this sister is now, and I know many of you have been there as well. If you would, take a moment to pray for her and any other Christian you know who’s struggling with this kind of anxiety in her walk.

The Unpardonable Sin
You cannot commit the unpardonable sin. No one living today can commit that sin. I don’t mean to sound harsh, as we all make mistakes, but I am appalled at your elder’s ignorance on this issue and what he said to you. It’s a very common question, and he should at least know a simple answer to it. I’ve covered it here: What is the unpardonable sin?

Check your salvation?
There is no reason for me to tell you to check your salvation, and it never entered my mind to do so. Lost people don’t ask God to take their lives lest they commit the unpardonable sin or worry about whether or not they hunger enough for God’s Word. Only saved people think like that, because saved people are new creations in Christ, with the mind of Christ, who desire to please Christ. Lost people can’t even understand the things of God because these things are revealed by the Holy Spirit, which they don’t have.

I would really encourage you to work through the book of 1 John (I’ve written a study on it if you’d find that helpful). John wrote this epistle to reassure believers. As he says in 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Getting over the “hump” of reticence.
What you describe about dragging yourself to do your Bible study but then loving the Word once you get over that hump of reticence is absolutely, without a doubt, one hundred per cent normal. Pastors feel that way. Elders feel that way. Bible teachers feel that way. Every Christian, including me, feels that way at least sometimes. Usually several times a week for me.

That feeling does not mean you’re not hungering for the Word or that you don’t have a passion for it. Indeed, if you weren’t hungering for the Word with such a passion, you wouldn’t be so up in arms about feeling tempted to do something besides reading your Bible.

That feeling is not something lacking in your desire for the Word. That feeling is Satan tempting you to do anything rather than study your Bible. And the way you combat that temptation? You pray through it, pick up your Bible, and start reading – regardless of how you feel about it. Obedience is hard sometimes. But when you grit your teeth against that temptation and obey God anyway, that is a precious offering to the Lord. He doesn’t require that you feel all hearts and flower-y while you’re doing it. That’s you putting that pressure on yourself. This is battle. Fight. You obey and let God worry about your feelings.

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31a

Peace be unto you.
God did not save you in order for you to spend your life in a state of fear and anxiety. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Forever starts the moment you’re saved. God wants you to enjoy spending time with Him in this life just as much as He wants you to in the next.

Christ is the Prince of Peace and His desire is for you to be at peace with Him. He knows you inside and out and He still delights in you. It is safe to let go, relax, and rest in His love and delight. He is not going to let go of you. Here are a few Scriptures that may bring you some comfort and reassurance. Believe them. Trust Him. He loves you. Let that sink in and simply love Him back.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Psalm 149:4-5


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Faith, Throwback Thursday, Trust

Throwback Thursday ~ Fear Not: 9 Biblical Ways to Trade Worry for Trust

Originally published April 24, 2015fear not

Did you have any fears as a child? Monsters? The dark? Dogs? When I was a little girl, I had this record of the story of Peter and the Wolf, and I was afraid of wolves at night (Look at the picture and listen to him growl. Can you blame me?). I just knew they were skulking around my bed in the dark, black as midnight, drooling rabidly, ready to shred me to ribbons should I stick so much as one toe out from under the covers. It was terrifying.

As adults, we look back on those childhood fears with some degree of smugness or embarrassment and think about how silly it was to be scared of something that was never a threat in the first place. But even if we don’t like to admit it, fear is something we grown ups still struggle with, at least from time to time. Finances, health, and our children’s futures may replace wolves, darkness, and the boogeyman, but fear is still fear, whether you’re four or forty.

And God is well aware of that fact.

In my Bible, the phrases “fear not,” “do not be afraid,” and other similar expressions appear over 75 times. Fear is a normal, God-given reaction that can be healthy and keep you safe in the event of a real threat. Fear is a blessing when it motivates you to jump out of the path of a speeding truck or stay away from a rattlesnake, but just like everything else affected by the Fall, fear can often be misdirected and thwart our growth in Christ.

Most of our fears as adults have nothing to do with tangible, imminent, life or limb danger. Usually, we are fearful of “what if’s.”

“What if I get a bad report from the doctor?”

“What if I get fired?”

“What if my teenage daughter gets pregnant?”

In other words, we worry about what might happen.

It’s really easy to sing “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” on Sunday, but much harder to actually do the work of trusting Him on Monday. Worry almost seems woven into the fiber of our DNA. In fact, worry has been such a common theme in the human experience that Jesus took time to address it during his Sermon on the Mount:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25-34

Clearly, it is not God’s will for us to worry. No matter how strangling our fear may feel, God wants us to trust Him in everything, from the most dire situation to the most mundane. But how?

1. Make sure the object of your trust is the right one.

A popular false teaching from the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) camp these days is that it’s never God’s will for you to be sick, poor, or experience tragedy. If you just have enough faith, and decree and declare enough, you can yank whatever outcome you want right out of the hands of God. Do you know why that’s not true?

Arguably the mightiest men of faith in history, eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred. So was Paul. David, whom God said was “a man after His own heart” suffered tragedy after tragedy. Jesus Himself prayed in Gethsemane that God would keep Him from having to go to the cross, and God said no.

Like these godly men, as Christians, we do not place our faith in positive outcomes. We place our faith in Christ, and His sufficiency for us in all things, regardless of the outcome. Make sure you’re trusting Christ, not what you want Him to give you.

2. Get off the guilt train.

Sometimes we can fall into Satan’s trap of believing that if we’re really saved or really trusting the Lord or really have faith, we’ll never fear anything. Then, when those worries creep in, we start feeling guilty. We’re not supposed to have those feelings.

Have you ever read the story of Gideon? Gideon was one scared dude, and he had good reason to be. But even though he was scared and fumbling, he believed and obeyed the Lord. And the Lord commended him for being a man of great faith.

Trusting Christ doesn’t mean you’ll never be afraid of anything. Trusting Christ means you keep believing Him, keep loyal to Him, and keep obeying Him even when you are afraid.

3. Take reasonable precautions.

Trusting God doesn’t mean you should be careless. Eat healthy and exercise. Be frugal. Watch your children carefully. God gave us a whole book about using wisdom, and He gave us brains, so let’s use them.

4. You’re not in this by yourself.

God has promised never to leave you or forsake you. He has promised to give you the strength to deal with anything you come up against. He has promised you a way out of temptation. Trust that God is with you and will help you.

5. Rehearse your trust instead of your fear.

A lot of therapists will encourage you not to “repress” your fears but, rather, talk about them, write about them, examine them, etc. In other words, rehearse them (which only leads to more fear, because fear feeds off itself). But the Bible never says to do that. It says, “do not fear” and “trust in the Lord.” Period. No analysis required.

Those worries may start creeping in, but you don’t have to set the table and turn down the bed for them. Push them right out of your mind, slam the door behind them, and say (out loud is helpful), “No. I’m not going to worry. I’m going to trust the Lord.” You’ll still feel worried at first, but “fake it ’til you make it.” Your feelings will eventually follow.

6. Replace fearful thoughts with biblical thoughts.

After you’ve pushed those fearful thoughts out of your mind, consciously redirect your focus to trusting the Lord. Spend a few minutes in prayer asking God to help you trust Him. Put on some biblical worship music that focuses on the goodness of God, and sing along. Be thankful- start listing all the ways God is good and has blessed you. Recite and meditate on Scripture about trusting God. Some of my favorites are:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:6-7

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

 7. Get your mind off it.

Watch a good movie. Have coffee with a friend. Better yet, serve someone who needs your help. Share the gospel with someone who’s lost. Get your mind off the worries and on to something better.

8. Get physical.

Go running or do some physical labor around the house or something like that. Either you’ll get some endorphins going and you’ll start feeling better or the shin splints and backache will completely erase any memory of whatever you were afraid of.

9. Repent and get a fresh start.

Sometimes (often, if you’re like me), you’re going to blow it. You’re going to give in to fear and let it control you instead of trusting God. You’re going to act on your fears and disobey God instead of trusting and obeying Him in spite of your fears. When that happens, don’t run away from the Lord. Run to Him. Repent and be forgiven. That’s what His mercy and grace are all about.

Worries are a normal part of life in a fallen world, but, in Christ, we are not to be enslaved by them. We have a Savior who is sovereign over all things. He clothes the grass with lilies. He feeds the wild birds. And He cares oh so much more for you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and fear not.

How do you deal with worry in a godly way?