In my recent interview with Dr. Dobson, I shared the story of how all my daughters and my only daughter-in-law gave birth to little girls in the same summer and how overjoyed we were, how our mouths were filled with laughter.
I received an e-mail from a neonatal nurse that tore at my heart. She wrote that all of her life she had dreamed of marriage and motherhood, but now she is 66. She asked, “Does that mean God loves you more than He loves me?”
Of course we, and I’m sure she, knows that Jesus doesn’t love fertile women more than barren women, or wealthy women more than poor women, or healthy women more than sick women. If anything, the heart of Christ is compelled toward those with afflictions. It’s all over the gospels.
I also told her about Isaiah 54, and how there was going to be a great reversal in heaven, for more were the children of the barren woman than she who could give birth. While this passage has multiple layers, it should be a comfort to single women who have invested their lives in others out of obedience to God. We have so many stories of Christian single women who invested their lives in eternity, in a way they probably could not have, had they had families to care for: Amy Carmichael, Florence Nightengale, Corrie ten Boom — so many. My e-mail writer had been a neonatal nurse for decades. I imagine, in the new heaven and new earth, that she will need an enormous tent or mansion — for her table will be filled with those so grateful to her for their rescue! I picture them laughing, loving, and filling her heart with joy for all eternity.
But there is something else. His heart doesn’t just move toward those who are afflicted, His heart moves toward the sinner, as the heart of a father moves toward the child with a loathsome disease. How do you think the parents in the days of cholera and smallpox reacted to their suffering babes? Did they not take them in their arms — compelled by love? How much more our God!
Dane Ortland says that we are “apt to think that God, being so holy, is therefore of a severe and sour disposition against sinners, and not able to bear them.” It was Thomas Goodwin,” Ortland writes, more than anyone, who opened my eyes to who God in Christ is, most naturally and easily, for fickle sinners.”
Leprosy, in the Bible, is a picture of the horrors of what sin does: eating away at the flesh, covering the victim with oozing sores, isolating him from others. People ran when a leper came into view. Watch this, from The Chosen, for I think it gives a reasonably good picture of how Jesus responded to leprosy, and can also show you how He responds to your sin.
Next week we will start with the Reformers, who lived before the Puritans, but I wanted to give you a good picture of what we can expect from the Puritans, and again, Reeves will help us catch the essence of Goodwin in a very short clip. It is so pregnant that I suggest you get ready to type quickly and pause him, for I don’t want you to miss anything. Or watch it twice! (I’ll ask you for your notes on Monday.)
On Tuesday, prepare your heart with this.
Sunday: Getting Started
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday: Michael Reeves on Thomas Goodwin
2. Share your notes and comments from the above clip from Reeves on Thomas Goodwin.
3. If you have Gently and Lowly, read chapter 2 and share your notes.
Tuesday: Marinating in Hebrews 5:2
Prepare your heart with Softly and Tenderly above.
Goodwin wrote many commentaries on Hebrews. He wrote 200 pages about Hebrews 5:2! We’ll take it in context.
4. Read Hebrews 4:14-16
A. Who is our high priest, where is He, and how does He feel about us when we sin? (Draw on this and
B. How do you think the experience of being tempted affects Jesus’ feelings toward us when we sin?
C. What conclusion is made in verse 16?
5. Read Hebrews 5:1-2
A. What is the calling of a high priest?
B. How will Jesus deal with us, as sinners, according to verse 2?
C. Why will He deal with us gently? Find everything you can.
6. Either here or in your prayer closet, come boldly to Jesus with your sin and ask Him for help.
Wednesday: Song of Songs and Psalm 45
The Song of Songs can help us see this truth of Christ’s compassion as well as hear it.
7. Read Song of Songs 1:6 and describe how the Shulammite feels when this Shepherd/King begins to gaze at her.
8. All through the Song He is praising her, wooing her, finally wedding her. What does He tell her in Song of Songs 4:7?
9. Do you believe, with all your heart, that when God looks at you, that because of Jesus, He sees you as altogether beautiful?
Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan of great intellect, found so many comparisons between The Song of Songs and Psalm 45 that he said that the Song of Songs can be no common love song.
10. Find, in Psalm 45, a similar thought to the following thoughts in the Song of Songs about our wonderful Bridegroom:
- In the Song, the bride saw her bridegroom as altogether lovely. Psalm 45?
B. In the Song, the bride said his lips dripped with honey (his words were kind) Psalm 45?
C. In the Song the bride said he was fragrant with frankincense and myrrh Psalm 45?
D. In the Song, she looked forward to a lovely home with him Psalm 45?
E. In the Song, she is altogether lovely and cherished Psalm 45?
F. In the Song, there are mighty warriors to protect her Psalm 45?
Thursday: Marinating in Hebrews 13:5-8
11. Why should we keep our lives free from the love of money according to verse 5?
12. Why should we not fear what man may do to us according to Hebrews 13:6?
13. What are we to consider according to Hebrews 13:7?
14. What do you learn about Jesus in Hebrews 13:8?
15. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, you should be able to share a way:
A. He has provided for you so that you do not need to worry about money
B. He has helped you in the midst of trouble
16. Praise your beautiful Bridegroom here.
Friday: Gentle and Lowly
17. If you have the book, read chapter 3 and share your thoughts and comments. (We will skip to chapter 6 next week for those who want to read 4-5)
18. What is your take-a-way and why?