We’re on a journey toward freedom from the idols that enslave us. It’s only the second week — not too late to join in. I can’t resist using this favorite picture of my grand-daughters and imagining Martha and Mary as babies. Last week we looked at Luke 11:38-42 when Martha was very angry with Mary but also with Jesus. We identified her deep idols as control or approval.
MARTHA & MARY AS BABIES
We are learning how to cooperate with the Spirit in turning our heart of stone into a heart of flesh. The first step is identifying the idol, and, as many of you have seen, being willing to let God remove it. The book I’m reading now is the Beck Diet Solution, which isn’t really a diet, but a way to talk to your soul when you are tempted. The author encourages you to be prepared with a thought: “Yes, I want that chocolate, but I want more to be thin, to be free, to feel great!” It really adds power to be prepared in your mind, whatever your idol. The battle begins in the mind.
The idol I want removed is control. When I want to control, for example, an adult child, I am saying “Yes, I do think I know what is best in this situation, but I want more not to get between this child and God, so I relinquish him to God, who loves him more than I do.”
Let’s begin with this week’s study. It is a little longer than usual, so you may want to take a couple of questions daily instead of doing it all at once. But it’s up to you.
1. How has the Lord been moving in your life since this study began?
2. Has the Lord shown you a stone that He would like to work on? What deep idol do you think it is related to? (Comfort, approval, control, power) Could you pray here that you would want to have it removed and to be responsive to the promptings of His Spirit?
3. Imagine that your idol is approval. (An idol we all probably have to a degree.) Prepare what you are going to speak to your soul when you are longing for approval or self-conscious about possible disapproval. What will you say?
4. Now take whatever idol you have identified and list at least two things you can say to your soul when you are tempted to run to your idol.
We are now going to move to the next time we meet Martha, which is in John 11. Sometimes God’s Spirit speaks softly to us, sometimes He speaks passionately, as when Jesus said, “Martha, Martha…” and still other times, He comes in like a hurricane, where control is ripped out of our hands.
Read John 11:1-6
5. The Setting
A. How does John set up the story in verse 1?
B. In verse 3, what does John describe the sisters doing? When you read between the lines of this message, what do you think they thought Jesus would do? Why?
6. The Mysterious Ways of Our Lord
A. What seems paradoxical about Jesus’ statement in verse 4? How do you think the sisters’ interpreted it?
B. Many translations use the word “So” to begin verse 6. The translation of the Word Biblical Commentary is “therefore.” This is striking, in context. Read this:
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. When therefore he heard that he was ill he continued to remain in the place where he was for two days.”
Since you know the end of the story (or if you don’t, read the whole chapter) why was His delay actually an act of love toward these three siblings? How might it have impacted Martha and helped to break her idol? How did it glorify God?
C. Share a time of suffering in which you actually grew closer to the Lord because of your suffering. How did this time of suffering glorify God?
Joni Eareckson Tada says, “God is not so much interested in making us healthy, or wealthy, or even happy — but making us conformed to the image of His Son.”
7. Read John 11:17-28
A. Describe the scene in verses 17-19.
B. Who is the first out, according to verse 20? How is this consistent with what you already know about Martha?
C. What does Martha say in verses 21-22?
D. CHALLENGE QUESTION: Some have interpreted verse 22 as Martha believing that Jesus will raise Lazarus immediately– but look at verse 39. What do you think she is saying in verse 22?
E. Describe the dialogue between Jesus and Martha in verses 23-27.
8. When Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life,” He is using the term “EGO EIMI” which is saying I AM twice, the same name that God gave Moses when He said “I AM WHO I AM.”
R.C. Sproul says this is a clear claim to Deity. He is the great I AM. Whenever Jesus identifies Himself as the great I AM, his friends are in awe and his enemies want to kill him. (As you will see, at the end of this chapter, they want to do.) He is asking Martha if she believes He is the great I AM. How does she respond?
9. “Beholding,” John Piper says, “is becoming.” We are transformed when we see Jesus for who He is. When we understand this fully, when we cling to this, we can let go of our idols, for no idol can compare to the love, the the power, to the wisdom, or to the comfort of the GREAT I AM. Martha has not yet seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead, but she is willing to let go of her control and trust Him. What does she do in verse 28 that is the opposite of what she was doing in the Luke 11 passage?
10. What are some truths about Jesus that you can tell yourself to help you let go of your idol? Get them ready by listing them here.
11. Share with your accountability partner, and also with us, any change you see in your “stone.
HERE’S A HAPPY NEW YEAR VIDEO I LOVED — TO PUT YOU IN AWE OF YOUR CREATOR: