Martha and The Messiah

funny-mia-and-sadie-picture1We’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:

COMMENTS (130) Post a New Comment ↓

Tackling the first four today…
1-SO excited to tell you all this. God has showed me something HUGE! The area of life He is leading me to serve in has put me in a place where I am networked with many others in this same area of service. Some look so successful, etc. I listen to voices of those people who say things like “you have to build a platform” to be successful. Then I watch those who seems to be successful say things that are ungodly yet they still publicly serve the Lord and handle His word. It does not add up to me. Then here I am, not perfect at all, but weep over seeing those things. We serve a holy God and His words says teachers will be judged more strictly and not many should be teachers. SO I take that so seriously. My strong stand on the Word has brought vast rejection and persecution. Then I look at these other ladies in the same field and see how popular they are. It hurts my heart. So thus desire for approval. GOd has shown me He has fully approved me and I am to keep following Him no matter what others are doing or saying I should do. He is the one who moves and builds up and tears down. Sorry that is so long but it is so excited to see root in this!! :) Progress.

2-Approval-Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. Help me behold your glory alone so I do not look around and think other ways are better or right.

3 and 4- Will speak these things:
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:15-16

3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 1 Thess. 2:3-5

17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Cor. 10:17

This is helping me be free!! Still taking time off Facebook and Twitter though.

    Reply

    Angela — I think it’s very hard for a speaker not to want approval, and sometimes those who long to speak have that as their main idol — so it is good you are aware of it. Tim Keller says that often when he stands at the podium he must to his soul about those listening, saying, “You are not my life — the Lord is my life.” I see a huge difference between speakers — some lead me to worship because they are worshipping as they speak — others, not so much…

      Thanks for helping me feel “normal” I am going to write it all down to meditate on that. The Lord is my life NOT anything else. I so yearn to be the speaker that inspires worship of God nothing else.

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1. He’s called me to look honestly at my heart and the way I spend my time with Him. He’s showing me some things I’ve rationalized as OK, that truly do not glorify Him.

2. Stone-wanting my husband and kids to do things “my way”. Deep idol: control. Lord, I do long to have You carve out this stone from me, I lay it at Your altar. Create in me a clean heart, and a gentle spirit.

3. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Any good that is in me is Christ alone. Die to Self, Live for Him.

4. Am I bringing Him glory with my attitude?
Get an Eternal perspective. Is it really that big of a deal?
Release it, make every effort to keep the peace.

5. A. Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, was sick. He was from Bethany, less than two miles southeast of Jerusalem on the road to Jericho
B. They went to Jesus and told Him the one He loved was sick. I think they thought Jesus would drop everything and run with them to Lazarus because He loved him.
6. A.He said the sickness would not end in death. Life would conquer death, just as it would through Christ for all of us.

B. It allowed Lazarus time to die, providing a way to show His power over death. This would later give them hope in His resurrection. This would also help break Martha of her idol of control by allowing her to see His perfect provision an plan—He has it all under control, and He loves us.

C. My father died in my twenties. We had never been close, he was an alcoholic and our relationship was painful. His death brought a certain, strange peace, but also more pain and questions. It was definitely a time I felt more than ever the Lord reminding me He is my Abba Father. He is more than all I need, He loves me perfectly. Since then it has been years of praying, crying out, recognizing my sin in the relationship, and ultimately allowing Him to take my Dad shaped hole and fill it. I still have lapses, but have been able to see His love for me in ways I don’t think I ever could without that trial.

7. A. Lazarus had been dead 4 days. Many had come to visit Mary & Martha. When Martha heard Jesus had arrived, she ran out to meet Him, but Mary stayed home.

B. Martha. She’s a busy-body, anxious type.

C. If you had been here, Lazarus wouldn’t have died, but I know even now You can do anything.

D. Reminds me some of “I believe, help my unbelief’ (the man in Mark 9:24, I’ve always related to!). She seems to have been meaning Jesus would raise Lazarus on Resurrection day.

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    This knowledge about your dad’s death when you were so young helps explain your depth, your intimacy with the Lord. Glad you are here. Elizabeth.

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      Thank you so much Dee, I’m really thankful He led me here, and your obedience to His call on your life–what a blessing to me!

        Welcome Elizabeth “She who is consecrated to God” -Hebrew meaning of your name)

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1. How has the Lord been moving in your life since this study began?

I’ve been so thankful for each of you and how honest and vulnerable you are. I’ve been more aware of the depravity in my heart concerning control.

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?

The stone I want removed, or at least cut down enormously, is control.
I often want to control one of my adult children. This Christmas I did keep my mouth shut, but I realized how often I think of something to say that shows my desire to control. I long for Him to not just help me keep my mouth shut but to give me grace toward this child, and to believe, truly, that God will work in his life without my help!

Lord, please help me to love and show grace as You do, and to surrender those I want to control to You. I cannot change my heart, O Lord — please help me.
In Jesus Name

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    Praying for and with you Dee! Thanks for your vulnerableness with us as well.

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Dee, I’m sorry if you have already explained this and I missed it, but what is the expectation from an accountability partner? Should she participate in the study or just meet with me regularly to discuss my goals and how I am doing with them?

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    Either is great. I think it’s good for each of us to have someone we know personally to pray and hold us accountable. It’s great if she wants to come on, or just read, or just hold you accountable.

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Last night I had a good conversation with Leslie Vernick, an author and counselor. She talked about lifting up the idol of our heart to God, giving it to Him, when tempted == and asking Him to fill us with Himself. A simple exercise I’m doing today when I begin graceless thoughts.

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    What a great suggestion,Dee! Thanks for passing along! I now see I have an idol of control and I have to surrender. I met a nice lady at a Discipleship Walk who I became acquainted with. We hung out once after the Walk and later discovered she lived 2 blocks from me! However, with me being a single mom of two, working and going to school I wasn’t able to keep my word to her to visit one day. As far as I can remember, I told her I couldn’t make it that day. She has since moved and I sent her an encouraging email the other day after not talking to her for some months. (again just busy in life). She sends a crude email back telling me how rude I was not to visit while she was so near and how she felt I was undependable. Now, I have to be honest. I did answer her first email back to let her know that I felt she was being selfish to jump on my case and not even know the things I was going through at that time (breakdown of vehicle, 2 deaths of young people in my family w/n 2 weeks apart, financial stress). And she made no efforts to come to my home to check on me either.However, I did apologize to her for offending her by not being the friend she thought I should have been. I also felt like maybe she was going through something, so I offered to pray for her. She responded back that everyone needs prayer but basically I couldn’t pray for her because God is blessing her abundantly. She again rehashed that she thought I was undependable and she didn’t need or want that in any of her relationships. This was a person I met one time and enjoyed over a weekend retreat. I’m not trying to bash her, just thought it strange that she reacted the way she did. So, I did speak with my accountability partner, Msy. Louis, and she advised me that if people want to leave me then I can’t make them stay. She advised me to figure out where I was going in life and if I felt this woman was beneficial in getting where I need to be. She also informed me (and my ego..)that people are evaluating where they are in life and sometimes they may cut even (lil’ ol me..:-) out of their lives and that’s their perogative. After hearing her sobering advice and wisdom, I decided to delete the final email I was going to send her. It was hard and it is now, to surrender. It hurt and bruised my ego..but I had to give up the idol of controlling or make someone be in my life when they have a right to go. And I have to let go and tell God “Thank you!” Sorry, sounds like I’m still venting..Lord, help me to show grace to those who choose to walk out of my life!

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    I am on board with this – God showed me my idol is control. I am very simple in my belief and know if EVERYTIME my idol shows up – the show down is the Lords but I have to give it to him, knowing I do not have control anyway and learning I don’t need to have control. I love that you use the word “relinquish”. My thinking is I can either clinch my fist in resignation (I will control this) or I can willingly and open handedly relinquish it to my Lord. His way is soooo much better.
    “For nothing shall be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37.

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when I begin to get anxious because my house feels out of control i will choose to believe that it is not a reflection of WHO I AM IN GOD. or my worth as a person.
I will say to myself “you are in control Jesus, not me and My home and family is not a reflection of my worth in you!!”
I will step back and know that God is in control not me and let go of the emotion behind the need to have a clean house/make sure my kids are perfect (said with a wink because they are all far from it:)
I have realized that I can take care of my family by doing all the house hold stuff without letting the NEED for it to be in order control my mood. I feel SOOOO free!!!
today is a very busy day, and I will need to have it ordered for all to get done, but I don’t feel like if I “fail” and don’t get it all done that it will be a reflection of my worth….and that is making all the difference
thanks Dee
i am keeping a journal for all my answers and will just give a small snap shot here since we are all very busy:)
cyndi

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    So good.

1. God has slowly been putting the pieces together over time and this bible study was one of those pieces that God used to take my eyes in the direction of looking at the idols in my heart and how I have been in avoidance mode for so long because my eyes have been on my circumstances-wrong place to fix my eyes. Yesterday God used our bible study in 2 Kings at church to help prepare me for ‘the change’ he is going to take me through..Oh, our study is called ‘Change’..God is good!

2. Stone: Too nervous to sing on stage at church & nervous to offer insight into scripture in class, it has evolved into being nervous talking with new friends God has put in my path..WEIRD how bad it has got in the last three months. It is so bad that this idol has me not liking my voice anyway, believing everything I do and say is idiotic and everyone who hears it believes that too so I might as well keep my mouth shut. Idol: Approval..
Prayer: “Help me to figure out which one is at the forefront and Lord quicken my heart to respond to the Holy Spirit’s red flags and leanings in this area. Lord I want to be like you and I need to grow so that I can bring you glory. I am scared because this will be painful..Help me find my comfort in you and remind me that I live for you, not for others approval.”

3. I like what Dee offered that Tim Keller said.. Also, “Lord, I sing to worship you and by worshiping you in song YOU WILL minister to the hearts of others.”

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.

* “Keep your eyes on Jesus..Rebecca you live for Him, NOT for others approval.”

I am still sifting through this gals..Still wanting to wade in shallow end, yet afraid of how cold it will be. I wonder how God will ratchet things up in my life to get me into the water. I hate this hesitancy I am noticing coming out. God may have to come in like a hurricane..I think I am holding onto this too tightly.

Lord, you are the creator of the universe..Lord you breathed life into man, Lord you change the hearts of men, Lord you have broken the strongholds of idols in Martha’s life..Why can’t I trust you to do that in my life. I hate this idol, and I want it gone, but I can’t change so I give it to you..Lord, unpry my fingers, take this idol from me.

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    Lord, please bring Your peace to Rebecca’s soul right now. Help her to trust You with her very life and give her a vision of life as a free woman. This is what she has to look forward to. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

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Rebecca’s thoughts are a good model.

I e-mailed Leslie Vernick and asked her to articulate in writing what she said to me on the phone, and I think it will be helpful to each of you. She says to pay attention to our bodies, for tension is often a sign that an idol is involved. This is what she told me to do — I’m going to try it and i’d love for you to try it as well and report back:

1. Focus on the feeling in your body, becoming aware of it is the first step. Sink into it. (might be tension in one’s chest or belly, clenched jaw, etc)

2. Welcome it. Our intention here is to consent to the Presence and action of the Holy Spirit and embrace what is happening in this present moment (exposing our idolatry) instead of fighting it or trying to ignore it

3. Let go – We say, “I let go of my desire for security and comfort right now. I let go of my desire for approval and affection, power and control. I let go of my desire to change this feeling or this situation. I will be in this moment with you Lord.”

    Love this! Am writing it all down. So ready to be free of this.

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    Oh NOW I see this! lol..Good info! I’m taking it down in writing also to keep in eyeview. Tell Leslie I said thanks also!

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After more prayer and reading this, I am back to identifying my stone as approval. In a way, it is easier for me to call it control–that is so identifiable, and almost “normal” in my mind as a woman. As a daughter of a true Martha, I almost idealized the idea of a hard working martyr type. BUT, my husband (also my best friend since we were 16), said he really sees approval in me more and my life long desire to be heard.
This stone actually touches a deeper place in me, a painful place.
Dee, when you mentioned paying attention to how our bodies respond…this is what got me. It’s harder for me to look at this place of wanting to be heard, valued, thought of as having anything of worth to offer.

He would say to me–I love you, I made you perfectly. You are mine and you matter to me.

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1. How has the Lord been moving in your life since this study began?

Opening my eyes more and more to look beneath the surface of my sin. To search for the root idol that is in my heart, which is causing me to think, or behave, in ways that I know are sinful.
I believe there are many things in my life the Lord is (gently) trying to pry loose from my grasp – people or things that I cling to to meet my needs for love and approval.

I love what Elizabeth posted about God taking her “Dad shaped hole” and filling it. I sense I have an empty space in my heart, too, that needs to be filled by Him – by getting to know Him better, drawing closer to Him, filling my mind with His Word and His promises, learning HOW to experience His love.

Thank you Dee and those of you who gave helpful advice on managing prayer time – I like the suggestion of using the Scripture I may be reading that day as a springboard to lead into prayer, whether for myself, or others.

5- Sets up who they are…etc
v.3 I think they would assume Jesus would come running to them. Their close relationship to Him, etc.

6. A-Interesting how He says it will not end in death but for God’s glory…But he does die. Would be a great misunderstanding indeed. But what a great privilege to be the one who was part of this being raised to life. Reminds me of Ephesians 3:20…no way they could have imagined this amazing thing God was about to do.

B – Love because they got to experience something greater than just quick healing like everyone else. Then breaking her idol for control. She thought it had to be done now on her timetable when God says no on my timetable is perfect. Glorified God because it brought glory to Him through a great miracle.

c – I have suffered with chronic undiagnosed illness for 13 years now. It started with Lyme disease and now it is unknown. Possible MS or who knows what else. So through these years I have struggled through suffering and the privilege of sharing in His sufferings and how they do indeed make us more into His image. I often long for health yet He tarries. I do trust it is for His glory. Joni Earickson Tada often encourages me in this because I know she can relate to illness or body being limited.

Praying for each of you as we journey together. Will be back to answer more later. :)

Oh and God gave me a remission of about 3 years of healing. I proclaimed that then something similar hit again. That was really hard to work through with Him and not think I did something wrong. But I have such a good relationship because I had to reason through those things and His word provides amazing answers and some remain unknown yet I just have to trust. He is enough.

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    Angela, I will keep you in my prayers, just keep trusting God, your are so precious in his sight, and to us.

      Thanks Joyce! I appreciate it!

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1. Last week I was a silent sister and was greatly encouraged to see all the newcomers. Welcome y’all!! You have blessed me tremendously with your posts.

1. Last week, Dee shared that when a name is spoken twice in Scripture it is spoken with much emotion. Well, our Lord has spoken some words to me twice and I’m paying close attention. The two key words are MAKING DECISIONS. The lesson in Sunday School last week was about making decisions and Charles Stanley InTouch sermon for last Sunday was titled ‘The Key to Wise Decision Making. Through that sermon God let me know I cannot live my life by my likes, dislikes, and desires, i.e. my preferences. If I want to live life as God intends-the obedient life-I have to live by his principles. I appreciate Angela’s honesty and want to confess that I too have a hard time sitting in a Bible-Study class with a leader who is not gentle in speech and does not allow the freedom to express an opinion which differs from hers. However, I can’t use that as an excuse to not participate in a great Bible Study.

2. As I shared on the pre-study blog, the stone I want God to remove is the stone of procrastination. I cannot keep putting off dealing with my reality. I am a new creature in Christ and can’t use my past as a crutch. I’m reading through Isaiah right now and was amazed when I read verse two of chapter five, ‘He (God) dug it (a very fruitful hill) up and cleared out its stones…’

Father God, I confess that my deep idol is comfort and I thank you for giving me the courage to face this truth about myself. You know my preferences and still you want to have me. What an awesome God you are! Lord no matter how painful the process I want this idol and its stone removed for it brings you no glory and honor. All it does is keep me bound to sin. I greatly desire to become the woman you created me to be.

    Your prayer is precious to me and I am praying it too in agreement. Cannot wait to see all God does! :)

      Reply

      Thank you Angela. Looking forward to growing with you and everyone during this study. I’m praying for you too.

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    Oh Tammy, you too tug at my heartstrings…..I am praying for you!

      Reply

      Thank you Joyce. You have such a beautiful heart!

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I have found and accountability partner and I am so happy about that. When I first prayed about this she was the first one that came to mind and that is why I really think this is the Lord’s leading. Her name is Kina. I hope that she will have time to be on the blog with us.

1.As I have prayed and considered the many things I would like to change about myself, God has opened my eyes to things about my self that I have been blind to. Other people can see us so much better than we can see ourselves. God gave me insight into something someone said to me at work that changed my direction. Actually it started before that with a conversation here and I really can’t remember who it was between.

2. Someone here commented on how she hangs on the approval of her comments here on the blog. Someone else said she does that too and I thought ‘I do that too!’ Then someone at work made a comment that seemed to see right into my soul. So I have decided that my idol is approval. Lord, You know that I am looking at this for the first time right now. I have no idea what to do and it is painful. I want to be cute and I want to be smart and I want to be efficient and I have to thank You that I am none of these things. Thank You for stopping me. Thank You for allowing me none of my idols for I would have replaced You with them! I don’t want them Lord, I just want You. Help me please to want only You. Please show me how to get free of this need. If I do not live for the approval of others how life changing that freedom will be. How pleasing to You.

4a. I can say to my soul that I am beloved of the Lord. Nothing that I do or don’t do can change that one bit.
4b. What can I do that will bring joy to Him? I am already approved of by Him because I wear the righteousness of Christ (thank You Lord!). If I have sinned what more can I do than to repent and receive forgiveness? This is all that He asks.

    Anne,
    I am encouraged by your words and honesty and vulnerability. I am so glad that others relate to my issues too. I am excited to be able to root one another on in success in HIM! There is a balance of receiving encouraging words with grace and needing them. I am trying to be still to find this balance. Praying for you too in this and I cannot wait to see what God does with us all. :)

    Reply

    Praise God, praying for you, Anne

7A-The scene was a time of mourning and sorrow. Death grieved everyone.

B-Martha is first out-Control-a go get it done kind of girl.

C-If you were here my brother would not have died but I know even now God will give you what you ask.

D-Gotta love Martha and her concern for the odor! If she thought He would raise him right away then she would not have said that probably. Unless He did it with the stone in place which would seem odd.

E-conversation is interesting. She believes Jesus and who He is and what He can do but maybe just not in this situation. Sometimes I believe what God can do and all the miracles He can do for everyone but me. Lord, forgive my unbelief.

8-She believes He is I am…but seems to not expect to see a miracle now.

9-She goes and defers to her sister. Giving her permission or even blessing to spend time with Jesus. Luke 11 she was irritated by this. She is learning.

10-God is the one who approves me. He is the one who even allows compliments. He is enough and He is all I need. Especially if this ministry is all for Him. Lord forgive me for shifting focus and looking around at what seems to be everyone else.

11-Have been seeing it loosen up. Went through twitter and stopped following some of those who make me feel that certain way tempting me to need their approval. I refuse to be clickish-period. Have not ventured to Facebook yet to set up similar things but will do it this week. God has shown me I need to have a balance with these things in time as well. A large part of my ministry to others takes place there so that is good. However there is a need for balance.

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    Angela — love your insightful contemporary responses and so glad you are with us.

    What do you think of Leslie Vernick’s thoughts on listening to body language and lifting that idol to the Lord? I found that helpful.

      I found it so helpful. I do feel that jaw tightening thing. So helpful to stop and process with God letting the Holy Spirit do His work in me. I am so encouraged. I actually got on FB today (cuz we are snowed in again! :)) I went through and made some adjustments to help as well. So thankful to you for constantly being a reliable godly mentor to me. Thanks for your obedience to Him.

Ladies,

Here is a song I am working on as I am going through this..God used Anne and Dee to inspire me…I am thankful to God for how He is moving in this study..This will be tweaked as time goes on when I meet with a friend in Mo. who wants to work on it with me.. Anyway, this is it so far:

V1. This journey has been good..

But life can sure get hard at times

But I know you’re here,

Walking this road with me

V2. I like to think I’ve got it down

Knowing my next move

To fix, this hardened heart of mine

Lord, help me wait on you..

Chorus: G, D, Em, C

Yeah You, you set me free

I can gaze upon your beauty, and sit at your feet

Because of you, I won’t faint

I don’t have to fix my heart or chisel the stone away

My Jesus, my savior, I will trust in you

Bridge) Let your grace and Mercy flow

Through my weak and weary soul

Take this idol off your throne

Make flesh this heart of stone,

And I’m breakin’ free Lord..The chains are gone..i will trust in you

V3) It’s not over yet

When tomorrow comes, I might forget

so stir, my stubborn soul

and help me trust in you..

Chorus to end..

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    Becca can’t wait to hear the music. Our Lord has given us this precious gift through you.

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    So beautiful, Rebecca

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    I think the Lord caused me to return to this Bible study. The two stones I have identified are fear and the desire to be
    comfortable or feel okay in every situation. I have dealt with much fear since my husband’s death. Little things such as when can get my grass mowed. I would love to do this myself but I am 66 and have been diagnosed with severe degenerative scholiosis which is also affecting my ankles and making me not be on my feet as much as I would like. Both my daughters are incrediably helpful as is one of my son in laws but this have jobs and houses and children.I little voice in mind says,” You can’t do all this, you can’t ask anyone to do it for you and you can’t afford to pay for it. I do have retirement put back but I don’t know how long I will be here. I am working full time because I feel this is what God wishes me to do. But than I worry and lack peace. I think this is lack of faith and that is the root. I have to have trust that God knows what He can and will send into my life. But I want more faith and to get rid of the rock of fear which is weighing me down.

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      Judy, I like how you put words to ‘the desire to be comfortable in every situation’. I see that in myself. I expect to be comfortable in every situation and if I am not then I decide it is not where God wants me. It is almost subconscious.

      About your grass, I suggest that every time the concern crosses your mind, ask the Lord to provide for it, then dismiss the thought. Let’s see what He will do.

      Love you. So glad you are back!

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    Beautiful Rebecca and so descriptive of who He is to us. I know you wanted to find someone to work with you on it. So glad the Lord has provided.

Dee,

I listened to my body language last night, and even amidst the noise of this household and the continuous interruptions, God revealed to me that I have two idols..Comfort and approval..Comfort being a bit higher than approval right now. I found I clinch my teeth a lot!! :) I think it is something that needs to be done every time I feel my body tightening up or my teeth clinching..THIS WAS SO HELPFUL! I was aware of my body doing this but ignored it in the past. Now I know it is a red flag that I have an idol I need to deal with and I need to go before Jesus and give it to Him.. This idol is still not totally eradicated yet, but I know in time Jesus will set me free from it.

Oh, and I think as God is freeing me from these approval/comfort idols, I will be freer to go to the next step which is Keller’s step..”You are not my life, the Lord is my life.” I really think how the approval idol got on God’s throne in my heart was a slow, deceptive process brought on initially by a barrage of condemnation from Satan a long time ago that I allowed to take root. I used to serve freely saying what Keller said in my heart, but over time it changed.. So..off with the history and on with persevering and healing, and being set free!! :0)

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    HURRAH — SO EXCITING TO SEE THIS WORKING!

Here is another account of using Leslie’s method of identifying idols..I had to jump on here to share:

This morning I was talking with my husband in regard to a decision that needed to be made that will take me out of my comfort zone..As we were talking my teeth clenched and my shoulders raised/tightened..I didn’t catch it until afterward when I got in the shower..Then I realized I just clenched my teeth while talking with my husband..The stone: putting off this decision, idol: COMFORT..I also realized I am real good at putting up ‘what if’, ‘this will probably happen if I…” as ways my idol has trained me to run after him..

Instead of running to him, because of paying attention to the body signs I was able to identify it..THEN I gave it to God in the shower..One victory, but there are many to go in regard to this idol..God is in the process of breaking it down..PRAISE HIM!

Then a little bit after that, I was thinking in my mind what I was going to say to a friend of mine about something then my teeth started clinching and my body became tight. I was unknowingly stressing about what she would think or how she would ‘hear’ it if I said it..The idol: APPROVAL.. WOW, BOY DO I CLENCH MY TEETH A LOT! No wonder the dentist asked me a few months ago if I clench my teeth..:0)

So, I gave this idol to Him and I am learning it is a breaking down process. I can see as time goes on I will become more dependent on God than my idol, but I have to see the body signs first when it happens..

I do have to admit that when Dee first mentioned it I thought, I don’t know, these two idols have a strong grip..it is going to take more than a moment of giving it to God, but then I realized it is a process and it is crucial to constantly go to God with it but I can’t if I miss the red flags..

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3. Soul-the only words of approval you want to hear are the words of your Master and Savior Jesus Christ. Yearn for his WELL DONE for no human creature will ever fully approve of you.

4. Soul it is better that you offend yourself than God.
Strengthen yourself in the Lord.

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    Good words. Thanks Tammy.

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I have been gone from this site for a few weeks and have read through several of the postings. There is so much material here that I scarcely know how to respond. I am trying to identify my “stone.” I haven’t been able to put a name on it yet. Lately, I seem to be in a period of suffering losses repeatedly and I have been wondering if God is trying to tell me something but I am not exactly sure what. Am I holding onto things too tightly, with clenched fists? My marriage ended in October, my car is beyond being able to be fixed and I somehow need to find another, my neighbor announced that she is going to be moving in a few months, my adult kids have new-found romantic relationships, a good friend of mine has cancer again, and with all of this I now wonder, is there a stone involved causing me to want to clutch at it all the tighter under the false hope of holding it close to me. I guess this would relate to control, of which I have none whatsoever, but also I think comfort. Yes, I am sore in need of comfort. Though I don’t know what the name of the stone is, I believe that comfort and maybe control are the roots. I will have to do some more thinking as I chew on all of these nuggests.

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    Deb — I think that when this amount of suffering comes into one’s life that it may not be the time to search for a “stone” but to run into the arms of God. Suffering takes the stone of control from us, a stone we all have to a degree, and Satan tries to convince us to back up from God. I think if you can avoid that through staying in fellowship, in the Word, and telling the truth to your soul, you will be doing amazingly. We will pray for you. I don’t know if you have read The God of All Comfort, but it might help you. If you haven’t, and need a copy, call that ordering number on my website and tell Nancy Dee said to send you one.

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      Why bless your heart, Dee! How kind and thoughtful of you to offer me a copy of your amazing book. But there is no need; indeed, I have a copy of it and it has been as a good friend to me. I have read it cover-to-cover 5 times now and refer often to the parts I have underlined. I have no doubt that Satan buffets me but it is my Saviour who has kept me strong, who keeps me going. Five years ago I was trialed beyond anything I could ever have imagined, one loss after another and just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. That was when I learned of the Book of Job and took great comfort from what I learned there. I believe now that God was preparing me that I might be strong in this trial. Jesus is here with me. And Dee, I wanted especially to share the following with you since you had mentioned in the book about a scripture God had given you in the night: My husband of 25 years divorced me and in a night of terrible grief and loneliness, after having been separated for 5 years (across the country) from my hsb yet believing we would reunite, I went to bed begging the Lord finally to just let me die and be over my grief, and here is the scripture the Lord gave to me, it was this past Christmas: “For your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit–a wife who married young, only to be rejected, says your God.” Isaiah 54:5-6. The Lord God could not have spoken more clearly and more personally to my heart. That has touched me so deeply, so tenderly. And now, I must press on and continue learning what I can through this newest study on Martha and Mary, two of my fav ladies. I am going to try to diligently study too because I have a sense that God is preparing something in my life and I hate being caught off-guard (being unprepared). Thank you, every single one of you reading this! If God can recognize an uneducated, plain WI gal such as me, he can see you too in your hour of need. I believe it with all my heart.

        Deb
        After I read your inital post I began to ponder how I could encourage you. Then I read this post to Dee and you encouraged me instead. I still want to share with you what I did in my darkest hours. I would put in my NIVBible on DVD, lie in bed and listen to Max McClean read it to me. Such a soul soother.

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    OH Deb, as i read this my heart breaks for you and i wish i could give you a huge hug! I pray that during this very hard season of your life you will feel the loving arms of our sweet Jesus holding you tight! I am praying for you to be comforted and that you will have someone in your life who can be Jesus with skin on for you today.
    cyndi

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      Thank you Cyndi! Prayers are so very welcome. Your comment extends the warmth of love of Jesus to me. Blessings to you!

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I could use some prayer. I am really struggling with this stone and on top of that I got way too tired today and must get up very early tomorrow for another long day.
Thanks so much to all of you.

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    Deb and Anne, you are in my prayers (All of you are!)

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      Amen.

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    Jesus, a sister of ours, Anne, struggles with the weight of her stone. Please help her to manage the load. You told us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 Show us the way to be encouragers to her on her journey. Thank you, Saviour. Amen.

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so good to with you all again.

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2. Has the Lord shown you a stone He would like to work on? What deep idol do you think it is related to?

The stone (though this is so, so hard to pin down just one, as I see so many!) is my thought-life; in particular wanting to escape the reality of my circumstances through daydreaming and fantasizing.

I believe the deep idol may be comfort; this pattern of thinking has been a way for me to comfort myself when I feel unloved, rejected, lonely, or discontent with my circumstances. I’m sure the idol of longing for approval is there, too.

Lord,
I need Your help to remove this stone from my life, I can’t do it by myself. Please show me more and more of Yourself and meet me in my daily life, in all that I do. Help me to focus my thoughts on You, and to run first to You when I feel empty, unloved, or alone. Please pour out YOur love for me through Your Holy Spirit into my heart. Please teach me and show me that really, You are all that I have, the only One I can really hold onto.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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3. Imagine that your idol is approval. 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?

Oh Soul,
you are anxious within me; you long to be cherished and cared for, to be loved sacrificially. Yet you feel empty, you feel the sting of rejection, the wounds of unkind words. You are insecure in the love you perceive others to have for you.
Oh Soul,
Put your hope in God! Be secure in His love for you! The Lord Your God is with you, He is mighty to save; He takes great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love, and He rejoices, yes, rejoices! over you with singing. You have One who rejoices over you, who tenderly cherishes you; One who will never drive you away when you come to Him.
Believe this truth, Soul. Live in the reality of this truth.

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    So good, Susan.

I have been working through the Martha/Messiah lesson the last couple days. Now thinking again how some stones “seem” so small, always hard, but can be so easy to bury…and later dig them up again! When I was with some people last weekend, I was reminded that one of my stones must be a need for approval mixed with control…felt myself falling into it again. I liked Dee’s comment from the Beck Diet book about talking to our souls and preparing our minds. That was a focus , in another study I did, and it has been a good help…trying to think prepared!
Dee points us to truth in question 8…Jesus saying I AM twice. Ah, Victory in Jesus! :) Resting in this!

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    Thank you for this post; I can relate to it.

Read John 11:1-6

5. * Lazarus was sick, Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus Lazarus was sick, but Jesus stayed where he was at two more days.

B.* The sisters sent someone to let Jesus know Lazarus was sick..They thought Jesus would hurry right away because He loved Lazarus.

6. * The paradoxical bend here seems to be Lazarus’ death bringing glory to Jesus because Jesus will bring Him from death to life, like He is going to do spiritually for us. The sisters most likely interpreted it literally not spiritually.

B. * While they believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus wanted to encourage them in their faith and show how much He loved them. If He would have come immediately before Lazarus died their hearts wouldn’t have been broken down enough for them to receive His love and their faith wouldn’t have been encouraged by God being glorified.

How might it have impacted Martha and helped to break her idol?

* Lazarus’ death was out of her control..It was in her timing to have him healed before he died..She was running to her control idol, but Jesus intervened by waiting two days… It was necessary for Lazarus to die to help Martha release her control idol. Jesus wanted her to let go of that idol because true freedom and being truly loved is found in trusting Jesus and her idol would have ended up destroying her. In her case Lazarus’ death was necessary for her to run to Jesus.

How did it glorify God?

* Only God can raise a dead man, and Jesus prayed and thanked God out loud so that others would hear him and know that God was the one who sent Jesus..

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5. A. John sets up the story by letting the reader know that a particular man Lazarus, who was the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany, had fallen ill.

B. The sisters send Jesus news of their brother’s illness because they believed he could just speak the word from where he was and Lazarus would be instantly healed.

6. 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?

* My time of suffering is now with this never ending trial, BUT I am growing closer to Jesus! I have no control over my circumstances which has really been good. This trial is what I need. Because of this God is breaking my desire to be in control..It is still there but not as strong as it was..I am broken but it is good. Phil 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – I STAND ON THAT TRUTH..God WILL perfect His work in me until the day of Jesus..He didn’t say maybe, but that He WILL..It is guaranteed..He will do whatever is necessary..allow or craft trials..He will do it..:0) So I can have His peace and confidence that this trial is necessary to fashion me into His image and to bring me closer to Him..HE could have intervened but had He I wouldn’t have seen His power in my life bringing me victory and bringing me closer to Him..That is how God is being glorified in the midst of my suffering..

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Martha and The Messiah

1. How has the Lord been moving in your life since this study began?

A= The Lord has made it clear (through several recent situations) that my idol is control with possibly a secondary stone of comfort (If I’m in control I’m not uncomfortable even if my decisions are bad ones)

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?

A = Heavenly Father, my heart is hardened. I think I’m in control and somehow believe I need to have control. I need Youabove ANYTHING else. Only You can create a heart of flesh in me. Lead me, show me, teach me how to constantly relinquish my heart, my life, my will over to You. Amen

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?

A= Speak scriptures, Proverbs 3:6, Phillippians 4:6-7, John 14:27

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.
a- It is very difficult not to jump in and exercise control over this situation and/or circumstance. But GOD is truely the one in control and HE knows what is the VERY BEST. I relinquish this (situation, circumstance, email, letter) to HIM and HIS perfect plan for this person. Person= spouse, adult children,, family, friends

Read John 11:1-6

5. The Setting

A. How does John set up the story in verse 1?
certain man, sick, Lazarus, Bethany, town of Mary and Martha. Answer= The information about Mary and Martha is at the end of the passage perhaps making it less significant.

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?
Answer= Thought He would come immediately and heal Lazarus because He loved Lazarus

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6c. My body language is definitely butterflies in the stomach. I have been dealing with them for some months. They have been so intense that I have actually lost weight, which is a first ever for me. But for the last week or 2 they have improved. Then yesterday something happened that was terribly humbling and I just gave it to the Lord. I said, Lord, no matter what happens, no matter who I lose favor with, I know that I have favor with You and that is all that matters. I asked for prayer here and from Kina and things just smoothed right out today. We are safe and secure in the arms of our sovereign Lord!

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5a. John sets up the story introducing Lazarus, a sick man and the brother of Mary and Martha whom we already know.

5b. The sisters sent for Jesus telling Him that ‘the one He loves is sick’. Without really asking, they assumed that He would heal Lazarus because He they knew that He loved him and they knew that He was able. It seemed very logical to them.

6a.It seems paradoxical to me that death could bring glory to God. While Jesus states that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death, he did in fact die. I think the sisters expected that Jesus would heal Lazarus and that he would not die. However, they never expected that He would let him die and then raise him from death!

6b. Because of Jesus love for Martha He did not come in time to prevent Lazarus from dying. I think that in all that happened here Martha saw that Jesus’ way was better than hers. She saw that no matter how hopeless things seemed in her plans, Jesus was able to save Lazarus (her) from death. God was glorified not only in the raising of Lazarus but also in deliverance of Martha from her idol of control.

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    Love that last line, Anne — glorified in delivering Martha from her idol of control. May that be true with each of us!

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      Amen!

7. A. *Jesus came to the tomb where Lazarus had been for four days and there was most likely weeping and many Jewish people were around the tomb consoling Martha and Mary.

B. *Great question..Martha was first..She was a go getter, a worker who was always the first to start..first to go out, first to greet, first to be hospitable. Not bad qualities if your idol of control is off the throne.

C.* If Jesus would have been there Lazarus wouldn’t have died, but regardless of whether he came in the past or now she was professing her faith that whatever Jesus asks of God, God will give Him in His timing. *WOW, just saw that..

D. CHALLENGE QUESTION:
* She is saying that the timing doesn’t matter..He could have been in there a year and if Jesus asks God to raise him, God will. She believed Jesus is the son of God. **Would have spent more time on this but my eldest needs me to get off the computer and do something for him. :) He is up early this morning.

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    I rarely find someone who keeps my hours, Rebecca — but you do! Guess your eldest too!

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I’m going to add the stone of comfort to be sensitive to the Spirit about — especially in regard to food. Love your prayers…and Jean, dear accountability partner, I’ll be talking to you!

Have to share a funny kind of stone I did not know was there because of long years of suffering and surrendering control I have been able to give up to some degree. But it is control…We have been iced in for four days now. During Christmas it happened in Gatlinburg also. So we are at the mercy of God to allow this weather to melt the ice on our very steep driveway. Many people can get out now and go wherever but that is not the case for us. Started feeling the tensing up again…CONTROL. Just wanting to melt the ice. It got so strong in a moment i was tempted to take the blow dryer to the drive. Then I realized the signs and surrendered it and asked God to help me conform to His image in it and trust. HA! Funny huh? God is doing some neat things with our family through it too. Just had to share. Love that method…as long as we can all recognize it. Praying that for each of us! :)

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    oh Angela–I just prayed He would melt that ice! I was born & raised in south TX and now living where they call it the South but there are actual snowed in days, just kills me! I empathize with your cabin fever–it is a time to be thankful for music, laughter, and internet “friends’ ;)

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Angela’s comment about her ice just reminded me of something. I am still looking to find my body clues to when I am trying to protect an idol, but I have noticed the reverse: when I get physically too cold, I become just awful, edgy, irritable! It reminds me of how our hearts are like ice, stone cold, hard ice…and only He can melt the ice and make them warm and soft, to reflect His

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7a. In verses 17-19 Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. The Jews were there to comfort Mary and Martha. When they heard that Jesus was coming Martha went out to meet Him bur Mary stayed in the house.

b. Martha was the first out because she was a busy type A kind of person.

c. Martha confesses faith in the Lord. She believes that He can do anything. She is wounded that He did not come and heal Lazarus but there remains a seed of hope in her heart for what He will do.

d. In verse 22 I think she has faith in Jesus and the very tenuous hope that we all have. It waxes and wanes. She knows something is up and dares to hope, not knowing what the Lord will do.

e. In verses 23-27 Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will live again. I think Martha is afraid to hope so she says the safe thing, yes she knows that in the resurrection he will live. Jesus tells her that He is the resurrection and the life. I love this scene and these words from Jesus. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever.” She obviously missed the spoken power as evidenced in verse 39 but Jesus made it so real when He raised Lazarus.

8. Martha responds by saying that yes she believes that He is the long awaited Messiah. This makes me think how powerful the spoken word can be. She knew He was the Messiah but how much did she know about what that really meant? How much did her faith have to do with her brother’s healing? How much of it was given to her by God? All of it I am sure, just at the time she needed it.

9. She brought Mary into Jesus presence in verse 28 but in chapter 11 she wanted to remove her from His presence.

10.
1. His purposes are beyond my comprehension.
2. All that He does is for good, no matter how painful it is to me.
3. His power is over all of creation. In other words He can do anything.
4. He loves me and I must remember that He loves all people as much as He loves me.
5. He is the bread of life. My idol is junk food.
6. I am not the center of the world. This sounds simplistic but I tend to think that I am and that His purposes are all about me.

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    Love your responses to 10.

    I am thinking that Martha’s faith, though wonderful and exciting to see, had very little to do with the raising of Lazarus, as that was part of a much bigger plan. Thoughts?

      Dee, In answer to your question, after doing up to question 9..I think Jesus’ plan was to show them He was God.

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    In my small group we have kind of an inside bit of humor with Calvinism. Our leader is convinced Calvin was right but we have trouble getting our minds wrapped around it and he can’t always defend it. We have spent almost our entire meeting time stuck on predestination. But what I was thinking was that while Jesus planned all along to raise Lazarus, Martha’s faith was necessary and He provided it for her. I was thinking He was leading her to a statement of faith in their conversation.

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      I hope this does not come across as critical. I did not mean for it to. See how I get myself in trouble all the time? I love my small group and think that our leader does a wonderful job.

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The sharing about icy hearts and only Jesus melting them is excellent. Reminds me of Aslan breathing on the stone statues in Narnia.

I’m hoping everyone, whether you have got through the whole lesson or not, will go to the last questions — particularly 8. Here they are again — I think you will sense the warm breath of Aslan as you look carefully at this.

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.

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    Dee, when you mention Aslan breathing on the stone statues I am reminded of this that I recently read:

    “The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable….

    This word {YHWY} is the sound of breathing.

    The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.”

    ~Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

    To me the implication is that even as we breathe we call out His name. So when we stop and take a deep breath as Cyndi did we begin to call on Him.

7E. Describe the dialogue between Jesus and Martha in verses 23-27.

martha believed that lazarus would rise in a ‘last day’ resurrection..She believed the world would someday all come to an end and he would rise, but didn’t yet understand that Jesus was the resurrection and the life..That those who believed in Him although they die they live, so while she had faith in a sense, she still didn’t believe until Jesus explained to her who He was, then she said, “yes I believe.” I think she realized Jesus was God too.. I wonder why she went back to Mary and referred to him merely as a teacher?

    9. 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?

    * She went to Mary to tell her that Jesus wanted to see her, She was focused on Jesus in this passage rather than Lazarus being raised from the dead!! WOWW.. She has really changed. In Luke 11 she was totally focused on hospitality or the task at hand and not on Jesus. Now she has gone away from the task at hand of raising Lazarus and puts it in Jesus hands and goes and gets Mary..

    *You know, i just noticed that Mary and Martha were just different in personality..Mary seems to me to be the introverted or non-task master, kind of contemplative type. Martha is the task person always ahead of things..I am sure Mary had some idols too. I wonder if in this passage Mary had a comfort idol going on and perhaps that was why she didn’t go to Jesus first? Who knows..Just speculation.. In this passage Martha’s idol was broken MAJORLY…To see the shift is tremendous..SHE GETS MARY TO GO BE WITH JESUS, what a difference. :)

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    Good question!

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?

* She believes Jesus is God..She says, “”Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, ‘even He who comes into the world.’”

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yesterday the stone of control was about to take over. I had a post placement home visit with a social worker for one of my adopted children, i was sick and i woke up to a TRASHED house. my teenagers have exams this week and i guess they thought that meant they did not have to do any of their chores:)
I got out of bed at 8:30 (2 hours late for me) and had to go get the big kids at 10:30 and the social worker was getting here 5 min. after we got home….I was about to lose it and start screaming at the little girls when i remembered…..
this house is not WHO i am. Therese (the social worker) knows i have 5 kids, my house does not have to be perfect.
that might not sound like much, but let me tell you, for me this was nothing short of divine intervention!!
so i did what i could (with the wonderful help of the youngest 2) and we could see the floor and the counters and the bathrooms were no longer a health hasard before we had to leave!
there was no yelling, no stress in the home and what NEEDED to get done got done.
thank you Jesus, thank you Dee for this wonderful study!

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    Cyndi, I like your observation that what needed to get done, got done. Isn’t His ‘to do’ list often different than ours? His burden is so much lighter. I think it is wonderful that you were able to take a deep breath and call on Jesus!

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      thanks:)

        Cyndi, so awesome!!!!

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    Soooooooo proud of you! Wow.

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      thanks Dee:)life if wonderful and crazy around here and I am determined to enjoy it if it kills me:) looking at old christmas cards that i made throughout the years and can not believe how much my kids have grown! it goes sooooooo fast and i don’t want to miss it while worrying about how i look to others!!!!

    So encouraged by your experience! How else can we walk this out without times of testing. :) Love it.

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    I love this: “My house is not who I am”. So encouraging, Cyndi! I often feel judged by certain people over the order, or disorder, of my home.

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Read John 11:1-6.

5. The Setting

A. How does John set up the story in verse 1?

There is a man named Lazarus who is sick, and he is from Bethany, the village where Mary and her sister Martha live.

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?

The sisters are sending a message to Jesus. That message is, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” I think they thought that upon receiving this message, Jesus would come right away to see Lazarus and make him well. They are counting on Jesus’ love for Lazarus, and I am sure they have heard of His many miracles He has performed, including healing sick people. They are confident that Jesus can help their brother.

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?

That sickness, or even death (though Jesus said here that this sickness would not end in death) could be for the purpose of God’s glory and for God’s Son to be glorified through this.
I don’t suppose this was the “cut and dried” response the sisters were expecting. Like, what does Lazarus being so seriously ill have to do with God being glorified? Perhaps this response confused them.

I think Mary and Martha may be like the rest of us; when we suffer, we want it to be done with quickly; at least for me, the first question I ask is not likely to be how can my suffering glorify God?

B. 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.

Why was His delay actually an act of love toward these three siblings?

This is showing me that my tendency to rush in and “fix” people’s problems, trying to bring immediate help and relief, is not always in that person’s best interest. It may be better to pray and ask God to bring that person to the point where they have nowhere to turn but to Him. It doesn’t at first seem loving that Jesus delayed; but His actions really put their faith to the test; would they continue to love Him and hope in Him even though he wasn’t answering their request the way they had hoped and expected Him to?
He knew He was going to do something awesome and amazing that would seal in their hearts forever who He was; but first all had to be stripped away from them.
Suffering, and even death, don’t mean that God has abandoned us or that He does not love us.

How might it have impacted Martha and helped to break her idol?

Martha had an idol of control and approval. This was a circumstance she could not control; she couldn’t make her brother well and she also couldn’t control Jesus as to when He would come. Peeking ahead to verse 37, some of the Jews were critical of Jesus for letting Lazarus die. If Martha had an idol of approval, of wanting others to think well of her, would she continue to be Jesus’ friend and love Him even if others were against Him? She did, and Jesus helped her through this to be free of these idols.

How did it glorify God?

God is always glorified when we choose to trust in Him instead of clinging to our idols, or losing hope.

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Dee, I just noticed that there was a video link at the bottom of our questions. I went to it and it was beautiful! All of the wild animals reminded me of the scripture that says ‘He opens His hand and they are fed’. It is in the Psalms, I think but don’t have time right now to look for it. But here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x91rBzNKvlc

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6. 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?

I’m thinking of the time after my daughter was born when I was suffering from depression, real physical illness, and mentally and emotionally I was in deep waters. I turned to God. I clung to certain verses. I looked forward to meeting with God in prayer every day. I prayed a lot. In one particular circumstance, I chose to do something God’s way instead of the way I would naturally go about making a decision, and He honored it. It honored Him that I turned to Him and depended on Him for my very life.

7. Read John 11:17-28.

A. Describe the scene in verses 17-19.

Jesus arrives in Bethany to learn that Lazarus has already been in the tomb for four days. Many of Martha and Mary’s friends from Jerusalem have come to comfort them in their loss.

B. Who is the first out, according to verse 20?

Martha was the first to go out and meet Jesus.

How is this consistent with what you already know about Martha?

Martha is a take-charge, woman of action. She doesn’t need to think much before she takes action.

C. What does Martha say in verses 21-22?

She says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She still has some hope of something being able to be done, though, when she tells Jesus that even now, God will give Him whatever He asks.

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?

I’m not sure… she may have hoped beyond hope that Jesus can bring Lazarus back; she seems to be expressing deep faith here when she says that “God will give You whatever You ask”, yet there is the harsh wall of reality that after four days, her brother’s body has begun to decompose and smell. Perhaps her hope and faith were soaring – until Jesus said to move the stone. Then she was confronted with what seemed an impossible reality.

E. Describe the dialogue between Jesus and Martha in verses 23-27.

Jesus is showing Martha that her understanding of the “resurrection at the last day” is right in front of her, literally, when He tells her that He IS the resurrection and the life. He narrows her focus to see that it is He who needs to be the object of her faith, and she confesses that she believes He is the Messiah, the Son of God, spoken of by the prophets.

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 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. He is asking Martha if she believes He is the great I AM. How does she respond?

“Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

When Jesus says “EGO EIMI” He is saying I AM twice. We learned in the last lesson with Mary and Martha that when Jesus said, “Martha, Martha…” that when a name is repeated twice like that it implies passion – so I am imagining the way that Jesus said to Martha, “I am the ressurection and the life.” I imagine He said it passionately – like that “deep calling to deep” we learned about in the Psalms – He was speaking to her very soul to see, really see, who it was who stood before her.

I like Dee’s imagery of Aslan breathing on the stone statues, making them come alive. Yes, you can sense the warm breath on Martha’s heart, and as she realizes who this Jesus is, and believes in Him, she becomes spiritually alive!

Thank you Dee, for helping me to sense the warm breath of Aslan by really looking carefully at this passage! Perhaps this was the first time Martha lost all awareness of who she was and her worries and concerns, and was completely caught up in total surrender and focus on Jesus.

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I love what Anne posted above that YHWY is the sound of breathing – that was so interesting what Anne posted about the name of God. I’m also thinking back to Genesis where God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

I think this may have been the time when Martha was born-again, as Dee mentioned above, that Martha’s faith had very little to do with Lazarus being raised from the dead; it was part of a much bigger plan.

Wow, this is exciting stuff!

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I have been “sitting” a few days with question 9. I love Piper and always need to just sit with his insight a bit!
I keep thinking on 1 John 3:1-3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

I believe Martha’s heart was softened, thawed a bit. She was submissive to Him and then cared outside of herself. Instead of wanting to put Mary down in His presence as before, maybe out of jealousy the way “we” can do, she went to get Mary, and even told her Jesus had asked for her–encouraging the relationship between them, not jealous of it. She had seen Him, and she was more like Him.

The truth that I am His child is more than enough to transform me, to drop the idols from my grip, to somehow reflect Him. If I moment by moment take hold of who He is and who I am, in every situation….I would be “dumb” to not release. But in my hurried-ness, I neglect often to stop long enough and remember who He is. And once again I am tempted to place my Self on the throne.

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    Elizabeth, Thanks for this! Very encouraging.

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    I love your insight, Elizabeth…”The truth that I am His child is more than enough to transform me, to drop the idols from my grip, to reflect Him…” Very insightful wisdom!

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      Thank you for your encouraging words–I really needed the lift at the moment I read them!
      Blessings to all of you–and thank you for so graciously welcoming me to this group.

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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.

1. He is my Provider “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. “. Philippians 4:19.

2. He is capable to keep me from failing in temptation to my idol! “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” Jude 1:24

3. Victory! “but thanks be to God, He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57).

4. All things work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully (Romans 8:28).

5. He is My Abba!”The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to Sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:14

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    Elizabeth, I love how you used verses to speak to your soul! I think I should change my list and memorize the verses so I can speak scripture to my soul.

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      Thank you too Anne for the encouragement. I was just feeling last night like I really didn’t have much worth sharing here, I think maybe it was just Satan attacking me! as I have re-read the blog, I feel encouraged by so many of you on this journey with me!

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Please finish up today — I am so encouraged by changes I see happening in your life and in mine! I’m excited about tomorrow’s post too.

Eager to hear your final thoughts and applications!

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8. Martha responds with full surrender.

9. In my mind’s eye, I see Jesus holding Martha’s hand as he maintains eye contact. The tone of his voice is gentle and sweet. After their conversation, Martha begins to connect the dots. She now understands why Mary yearns to sit at the feet of the Master Teacher. Now, instead of wanting to keep Mary from Jesus, Martha seeks her out and encourages her to go to her Lord. Martha has learned that Jesus is the only balm for a broken heart. A friend of the wounded heart.

10. Two truths I can tell myself are:

Jesus wants to hear about my struggle with my idol. He knows what it is like to be tempted with pleasure, power, and self-centeredness.

Jesus will never tell me to be quiet because he’s already heard it all before. He prays for my transformation.

11. I’m not putting off getting up and meeting with God as much as I use to. I now find myself ready to get up and share private time with him. I am not by nature an early riser but I have learned that before dawn is indeed the best time to get up. If I miss my time I’m off kilter all day.

The pace of life has picked up alot for me and I miss being able to spend the afternoon hours on the blog as I once did. I realize that time was a special season of my life when I needed to focus on alot of internal healing. I have a Blackberry now and read your posts as they come into my message center. What an amazing piece of technology! One of the blog sisters connected with me recently on FB and inquired after my well-being. She shared that she missed my posts but she knew I was there with you all. And I will be here with you all posting as I am able and reading your posts throughout my day.

This month marks three years that my former spouse threatened to end my life. It also marks three years that I participated in my first on-line Dee Brestin study. (Women of Moderation via Midday Connection) I thank God often that I followed his leading to that study. I see now that it was my fasting during the study that gave me the spiritual strength to fight those strong forces of darkness-the one’s Jesus said can’t be defeated except by prayer and fasting.

Blessings to all. I prayed for everyone by name this morning. I thank God for each one of you!

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    Tammy — so thankful for you. I have seen how much you’ve grown. You have a depth of insight. You are a joy.

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    Thank you so much for your prayers Tammy.

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