Tag Archives: Book of John

The 4 Wills of God — Book Review

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Most of us at some time or another ask the question, “What is God’s will for my life?”  According to author Emerson Eggerichs, the correct question, the one we should be asking, is simply, “What is God’s will?”  He asserts that there are four statements in the Bible which specifically identify a behavior as God’s will:

  1. John 6:40 — Believe in Christ
  2. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 — Abstain from sexual sin
  3. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 — Give thanks in everything
  4. 1 Peter 2:13-15 — Submit in doing right

Dr. Eggerichs asserts that as long as we are keeping these four “foundational” commands we can be assured that we are acting within God’s will and are free to make other decisions based on our best judgement.  He also believes that:

“As the apostle John told us in 1 John 3:21-22, when we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight, then whatever we ask–as individuals in specific circumstances– we receive from Him.”

I have several issues with this book.  First, I’m not convinced that Bible verses which include the phrase, “this is the will of God” should be singled out as the only, or even most important instructions concerning God’s will.  Paul, in his letters to the churches, lists many examples of appropriate and inappropriate behavior for Christians.  Aren’t these God’s will for us as well?

The 4 Wills of God: The Way He Directs Our Steps and Frees Us to Direct Our Own by [Eggerichs, Emerson]

Second, original sin renders us unable to perfectly or completely follow God’s will, no matter how good our intentions.  If we could do that, we wouldn’t need a Savior.  Our decisions will always be tainted.  Doing our best, or trying, won’t cut it, and doesn’t insure that our motives for decision-making will be pure.

Third, I feel that Dr. Eggerichs comes close to saying we can manipulate God.  If we follow these rules, we’re pleasing to God, and He will give us the things we want, often in surprisingly miraculous and unexpected ways.  Although he is careful to point out:

“Our omniscient God knows what is wisest and may countermand our conclusions”

and

“(we don’t) receive miraculous interventions like this every time (we) pray…”

he gives example after example of God supplying the right amount of money or intervening miraculously to fulfil the need of someone who has prayed and who is “within God’s will.”

The bottom line is, this book may actually damage the faith of some who are disappointed by decisions that don’t work out as they hoped or prayers that seem to be unanswered.  It also promotes a legalistic view that assumes our failures stem from insufficient faith and obedience.

If you would like to learn more about this book and author, follow the link below:

http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/the-4-wills-of-god

P.S.  In case our readers are wondering why I would post a review of a book I do not recommend, the Lutheran Ladies became reviewers for B&H Publishing some time ago.  We receive free books to review in return for posting the reviews on our blog and on other venues.  This is my first negative review.

 

 

 

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All the Loves

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“He who does not love does not know God;  for God is love.”  1 John 4:8

The other night I asked my husband, a pastor, which of the Greek words for love best describes God’s love for us?  Of course, we first thought of agape love.  God loves everyone, regardless of our looks, ethnic background, temperament, intelligence, or worthiness.

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

However, we realized that God’s love is also eros.  In a number of places in the Bible, Israel, and later the church (the new Israel), are referred to as God’s wife or bride.

“Return faithless people”, declares the Lord, for I am your husband.” I will choose you–one from a town and two from a clan–and bring you to Zion.” Jeremiah 3:14

The fact that God is our father, and Jesus our brother,  exemplifies storge, or family love.  Jesus teaches us:

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have a Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 23:9

“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy, are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  Hebrews 2:11

Of course, philia is part of God’s love nature as well, because through the incarnation, Jesus became our friend.

“I no longer call you servants. because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

So, God no only is love, His is all the loves, and we find every love and everything there is to know about love in Him.  What a wonderful gift!  Remember, He loves you and so do I!

 

 

The Wrong Bread

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“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”  John  6:27

These words of Jesus are to the crowds who follow Him after he feeds 5000 people with five barley loaves and a few fish.  Who wouldn’t follow?  Free food for life, and all I have to do is listen to this rabbi.  What a deal!  Jesus sets them straight.  This food will only fill us up temporarily;  the food we really needs leads to eternity.

Times have changed, but people haven’t.  Human beings are focused on the needs they perceive as primary, starting with food and shelter, moving on to love, self esteem, and other things that make life worthwhile(remember Maslow’s Hierarchy?).  We spend our time chasing after them, only to find in the end we’re still not completely fulfilled.  That’s because, as Saint Augustine said:

Sometimes we also seek Jesus for the wrong reasons;  we think Christianity will make our life easy;  we want to have “nice” friends; we want to be admired and respected for our piety;  we may even think God will bless us by making us successful in a worldly way. These things aren’t only wrong, they aren’t even necessarily true.  We need to seek Jesus because of who He is:  the way and the truth;  the bread of life;  the only one who can truly satisfy all our hungers.

 

What is a Cha?

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“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also out to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15

If you go on a Via de Cristo (or other type of Cursillo) retreat, you will find a group of people who are there just to serve you for the weekend.  They bring you drinks, supply any need you many have (tissues, snacks, aspirin, etc.), run errands for you, and so on.  In Via De Cristo we call them the chas, which stands for Christ’s hands in action.  Everybody loves their cha, and often say they wish they could take their cha home with them!

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Well, guess what?  You don’t have to be on a retreat weekend to be a cha.  Of course, it’s true, we all have many responsibilities and we cannot dedicate all of our time to fetching and carrying.  We can, however, be Christ’s hand and feet and voice in the world every day to the people with whom we interact.  We can help a neighbor carry her groceries, we can give up our place in line to a harried parent, we can say “have a blessed day” to the cashier who rings up our order, we can serve dinner to our family with words that are kind instead of complaining.  Jesus gave us an example when he washed the feet of his disciples — he didn’t have to do that.  It wasn’t expected, and it wasn’t his “job.”  He did it to show us that good stewardship means using our time, our bodies and our minds to serve others.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all became chas?

 

Jesus, Our Friend

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“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing;  but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

Joseph Scriven, author of the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” lived a rather tragic life.  He immigrated to Canada in 1845 following the sudden death of his fiancée.  He fell in love again, and this time his intended contracted tuberculosis and also died before they could be married.  Joseph poured himself into ministry and charity work, living a simple life.  This story is written about him:

“Until a short time before his death, it was not known that he had a poetic gift.  A neighbor, sitting up with him in his illness, happened upon a manuscript copy of “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.”  Reading it with delight, and questioning Mr. Scriven about it, he said that he had composed it for his mother, to comfort her in a time of special sorrow, not intending that anyone else should see it.  Some time later, when another neighbor asked him if it was true he composed the hymn, his reply was, ‘The Lord and I did it between us.'”

I hope you enjoy this hymn, as I always have, and use it as an opportunity to meditate on the wonderful gift we have:  friendship with Christ.

Scriptures to Remember

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What God Has Done

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“The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away saying ‘Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.’…”Luke 8:38-39

This was part of our Bible study on the book of Luke this week.  After Jesus healed a demon possessed man, he in effect, sent him back to his home to become a missionary.  He didn’t have any extensive instruction or education.  All he had to do was tell others what Jesus had done for him. It reminds me of another similar story in the book of John.  Jesus heals a man who has been blind since birth.  The man is brought to the Pharisees who try to manipulate him into saying that Jesus is a sinner. Exasperated he tells them,

“…One thing I do know;  that though I was blind, now I see.”  John 9:25

As witnesses, all we need to do is tell about our own life and how Jesus has changed it.  We don’t have to be eloquent or persuasive.  We don’t have to worry about the outcome;  that’s up to God.  We just have to state the  facts about God’s action in our life; and it can be as simple as this:  “I was blind and now I see”.

 

Open Your Eyes

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“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest.”  John 4:35

I’m a pastor’s wife and I’m retired.  Most of the people I come into regular contact with go to church.  Who does God expect me to witness to?  This sounds like a good excuse, doesn’t it?  I’m sure many other Christians feel this way.  We keep ourselves busy with “church work” and “church people.”  It’s all we can do to keep our little piece of the Kingdom functioning smoothly–isn’t that enough?

Well, actually, it’s not.  This kind of attitude is treating the church as our club, our community organization, or our circle of like-minded friends.  Jesus didn’t stop after sharing His message with the twelve disciples.  He touched people in His daily life, all kinds of people;  tax collectors, Samaritans, lepers, widows, you name it!  He wasn’t annoyed to be interrupted or inconvenienced.  Each encounter became a divine appointment.  We have those too, if we would just open our eyes.  What about the cashiers at the store, the workers at the library, the beautician or barber?  I am guilty of going about my everyday errands without thinking about the people involved.  Jesus never forgot.  He stopped.  He had compassion.  He asked questions.  If I pay attention, maybe I can do that, too. I may not “convert” anyone.  They may never join my congregation.  But by my words and action, my witness, maybe I can be one link in the chain that leads them to Christ.

“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  Matthew 9:37

 

 

Send Me

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This has always been one of my favorite hymns, and it certainly assures us that we can all do something to reach the lost.  Here are it’s story and words:

This hymn was written…while the author(Daniel March) was a pastor in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. On the 18th of October he was to preach, by request, to the Christian Association of that city. At a late hour he learned that one of the hymns selected was not suitable…In great haste, he says, he wrote the hymn, and it was sung from the manuscript.

Hark, the voice of Jesus calling,
Who will go and work today?
Fields are ripe and harvests waiting,
Who will bear the sheaves away?

Long and loud the Master calls us,
Rich reward He offers free;
Who will answer, gladly saying,
Here am I, send me, send me?

If you cannot cross the ocean,
And the distant lands explore,
You can find the lost around you,
You can help them at your door;
If you cannot give your thousands,
You can give the widow’s mite;
What you truly give for Jesus,
Will be precious in His sight.

If you cannot speak like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
You can say He died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked,
With the judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children
To the Savior’s waiting arms.

If you cannot be the watchman,
Standing high on Zion’s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven,
Offering life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your bounties
You can do what heaven demands;
You can be like faithful Aaron,
Holding up the prophet’s hands.

If among the older people,
You may not be apt to teach,
Feed My lambs, said Christ, our Shepherd,
Place the food within their reach.
And it may be that the children
You have led with trembling hand,
Will be found among your jewels,
When you reach the better land.

Let none hear you idly saying,
There is nothing I can do.
While the lost of earth are dying,
And the Master calls for you;
Take the task He gives you gladly;
Let His work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when He calls you,
Here am I, send me, send me.

 

At All Times

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“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

I was a little upset with a friend a few days ago.  Do you know what terrible sin she committed?  She didn’t agree with me, and she told me she didn’t. Now I certainly wasn’t furious.  But I was hurt. I got defensive.  I felt frustrated.  I didn’t see why she couldn’t “get” my position.  I don’t like conflict, and even this minor disagreement made me feel out of sorts for the rest of the day.  Sunday of all days.  How annoying.

This morning I remembered this verse and I got over myself.  You see, the Bible tells us to love our friends at ALL times.  Not just when they’re supporting us.  Not just when they’re behaving the way we think they should. Not just when they follow our advice.  Not just when they AGREE with us.  So I wrote my friend a note. I still don’t agree with her, but  I told her I cared about her and valued our friendship (I do).  I told her I appreciated all that she does for me and our community (I do).  I realized that loving each other doesn’t depend upon complete agreement.

Here’s the bigger lesson in all this.  In John 15:15 Jesus says,

“No longer do I call you servants….but I have called you friends.”

Jesus is my friend, and he loves me at all times.  Not just when I am being “good.”  Not just when I’m paying attention to Him.  Not just when I’m praying or praising Him, but all the time.  I‘ll fall down and disappoint my friends.  I’ll get annoyed and say angry words without thinking.  I’ll be inconsistent and bull-headed.  Jesus won’t do any of those things.  He is my one constant, yesterday, today and forever.  And He is my friend.  How wonderful is that!  What does He ask in return?  Just this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:  just as I have loved you,  you are also to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 12:34

What does this loving friendship look like?

“Love is patient and kind;  love does not envy or boast;  it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way;  it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

If Jesus is my friend who loves me at all times, shouldn’t I try to be the same kind of friend to others?

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