This post begins a new study of Biblical Spirituality. Please check here from time to time for short installments on what the Bible says about being “spiritual” and how to live a spiritual life—the kind of life that God wants every Christian to live.
Living a God-honoring spiritual life is not easy. I heard the story of a boy who saved up to buy very expensive ice hockey skates—the kind worn by the pros. He learned that those expensive skates didn’t make him a better skater than he’d been with his old skates. The lesson is that you can have the best skates in the world, but if you reject instruction, regular training, and practice, you’ll be a mediocre hockey player.
God has given every believer the equipment we need to live godly spiritual life. (According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: II Peter 1:3.) Like the kid who bought expensive skates, we also need to avail ourselves of instruction, training, and practice with the spiritual tools God gave us:
- The indwelling Holy Spirit as our guide—if we will listen to Him.
- Jesus Christ is with us every step of the way—we need to stay close to Him.
- The Bible has timeless, practical instruction for daily living—if we read it and obey it.
So what is needed for us to use that treasure chest of equipment that God has given us?
Answers to that and other important questions are ahead in 2022!
He that is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer
Balancing the Christian Life by Charles Ryrie
The New Nature by Renald Showers
My expectation for 2022 is that the LORD will return soon!
“Even so, come Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20b
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
This excerpt is from the first chapter of a book that someone from my church recommended during a difficult time in my life. We can’t undo things we’ve said or done in the past that harmed people or things they said that harmed us . People quote Philippians 3:13-14 and say, “Well, what’s past is past” or “Just look to the Lord and the future.” They mean well, but that’s hardly a comfort when feelings are raw and emotional pain is real.
I turn to Hebrews 4:14-16 when things grow darkest and remind myself that Jesus Christ, our High Priest and Intercessor in Heaven, also suffered intense emotional rejection and sympathizes with our pain and suffering.
The author of the book from which this is an excerpt uses the ESV translation of the Bible which I find acceptable, although not preferred. May the Lord bless you with these words.
“…in only one place—perhaps the most wonderful words ever uttered by human lips—do we hear Jesus himself open up to us his very heart:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30 – ESV).
“In the one place in the Bible where the Son of God pulls back the veil and lets us peer way down into the core of who he is, we are not told that he is “austere and demanding in heart.” We are not told that he is “exalted and dignified in heart.” We are not even told that he is “joyful and generous in heart.”
“One thing to get straight right from the start is that when the Bible speaks of the heart, whether Old Testament or New, it is not speaking of our emotional life only but of the central animating center of all we do. It is what gets us out of the bed in the morning and what we daydream about as we drift off to sleep. It is our motivation headquarters. The heart, in biblical terms, is not part of who we are but the center of who we are. Our heart is what defines and directs us. That is why Solomon tells us to ““Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is the matter of life. It is what makes us the human being that each of us is. The heart drives all we do. It is who we are.
“And when Jesus tells us what animates him most deeply, what is most true of him—when he exposes the innermost recesses of his being—what we find there is gentle and lowly.”
From Gentle and Lowly – The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, by Dane Ortland, Crossway Boks, 2020
As these lessons in Learning Christian Contentment draw to a close, our instructions from Jeremiah Burroughs conclude with timely recommendations about “How to Attain Contentment.” He divides his suggestions into what he calls considerations and directions. My next few blog posts divide each of these into two short sections that will bring us to the end of the lessons on contentment and the end of 2021. Watch for the last post in December for a peek at the topic in view for 2022!
In previous lessons, Burroughs showed various reasonings for murmuring and discontented heart. He picks up now with his considerations:
“We should consider in all our wants and inclinations to discontentment, the greatness of the mercies that we have, and the meanness of the things we lack. The things we lack, if we are godly, are things of very small moment in comparison to the things we have, and the things we have are things of very great moment. For the most part, the things for the want of which people are discontented or murmur are such things as the unsaved have, or may have. ‘Blessed by God,’ says the Apostle in Ephesians 1:3, ‘who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.’ The consideration of the greatness of the mercies that we have, and the littleness of the things that God has denied us, is a very powerful consideration to work this grace of contentment.
“The consideration that God is beforehand with us with his mercies – this should content us. I remember reading of a good man who had lived fifty years of age and enjoyed his health for eighth and forty years exceedingly well, and lived in prosperity, but the last two years his body was exceedingly diseased, he had the strangery [a urological condition such as kidney stones or bladder stones] and was in great pain. Cut he reasoned his case with himself thus: ‘Oh Lord, you might have mad all my life of torment and pain, but you have let me have eight and forty years in health. I will praise your mercies for what I have had, and will praise your justice for what now I feel.’ Oh, it is a good consideration for us to think that God is beforehand with us, in a way of mercy. (God will not all us to be test above what we are able to bear…)
“The consideration of the abundance of mercies that God bestows and we enjoy. Name any affliction that is upon you: there is a sea of mercy to wallow it up. So, afflictions considered in themselves, we think are very great, but let them be considered with the vast sea of God’s mercies we enjoy, and then are not so much, they are nothing in comparison.
“Consider God’s ways toward all creatures. There is a vicissitude of all things in the world: the sun does not shine always on us here, but darkness comes after light. …there is a mixture of conditions, why should we think it much that there should be a vicissitude of conditions with us, sometimes in a way of prosperity and sometimes in a way of affliction?
“Consider that we have but little time in this world. If you are godly [saved] you will never suffer except in this world. Why, do but shut your eyes and soon another life is to come, as that martyr said to his fellow martyr: ‘Do but shut your eyes,’ he said, ‘and the next time they are opened you shall be in another world.’ Consider, we have not long to live, it may be over before our day is at an end. But supposing it should not, death will put an end to all, all afflictions and troubles will soon be at an end.”