TRYING TO COMPREHEND HIS COVERING OF LOVE FOR US

GOMER WAS UNFAITHFUL

BUT WHEN SHE WAS NAKED ON THE AUCTION BLOCK

HOSEA, OUR CHRIST FIGURE

COVERED HER

 

 

Part of “getting the gospel” is understanding how deeply we are loved. We doubt His love because we know ourselves, our sin, and can’t imagine how Someone so wonderful could love us so deeply. But that is the gospel — the same God that loved Gomer the prostitute and Jonah the racist loves us. He sees  us as covered in His righteousness. Anne helped us with that last week, talking about the covering, and showing us it visually through Rembrandt’s painting. (Nouwen said to look at the father’s cloak — like wings, that cover us.)

I have so enjoyed having Diane, our Canadian, with us on the blog. This is also a chance for you to get to know her a little. Diane has a rich Christian heritage. Her parents were missionaries in India when she was a little girl, and she sometimes writes of how thankful she is for the way they loved and modeled Christ. Diane lives, as I believe as her mother did, a life of quiet service. I remember when Jesus said of Nathaniel, that he was without guile. I sense that sincerity and purity in Diane, and am so thankful for her.

From the stories she has told of her husband Aubrey, and just by looking at his face, I told her he looked like a gentle man. She said he was very gentle. What a gift! Here they are, in their beautiful country of Canada. O Canada!

 

AUBREY AND DIANE

As God is on the move here, revealing idols. He is helping Diane see how her idols block His love. People can never love us the way God love us, even the gentlest of hearts pale in comparison to God’s GREAT HEART for us. Diane tells a simple every day story with which I think you will identify, based on the verse:

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Sometimes it is in the petty annoyances that God whispers His lessons of grace to us. Keller defines
grace as “an undeserved gift from an unobligated giver.”

It is easy for me to forget God’s grace and slip into fear that I am not good enough. I fear being
criticized. Recently, it has fallen into my lap to type the bulletin for our small church. I constantly make
mistakes or omit something. Last Sunday, several people came up to me to point out an error in the
bulletin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TYPOS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a joke at the time about it keeping me humble, but inwardly I was upset. I personally
hope someone else volunteers to do the bulletin soon, but I am learning that God never wastes a
pain. Now I am wondering what God is trying to teach me about my fear of not being perfect. God
is whispering His love to me in spite of my failures and insecurity. I don’t have to be perfect. I am
unconditionally passionately loved by God, even though I don’t deserve it.

Dee’s Reflections

Diane’s story convicted me — for I realize how often how quick I can be to point out an error. I did that in side-ways ways to my administrative assistants, and it beat them down. Little things I should have just covered, as God covers me, for love covers a multitude of sins (or typos)! We are all fragile, and we all need grace.

Diane also is a model of speaking truth to her soul — something we need to constantly do. We fail all the time in little ways and big ways. And the closer we get to the Lord, the more His light illumines our impurities. Often the godliest people are the hardest on themselves. George Whitefield said, “I sin when I pray, I sin when I preach…” It is good to see our sin, for it helps us repent — but if we do not also comprehend His GREAT LOVE, His covering, we are beaten down. We run to our idols for we fear He will not be there for us.

The Gospel shouts His love.

Sunday/Monday Icebeakers

1. What thoughts do you have on the above and why?

2. How have you grasped God’s love, His covering, for you this week?

Tuesday: Diane points us to an interesting passage.

3. Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-27

A. Describe King Jehosphat’s crisis.

B. Describe his honesty.

C. What did Jehosaphat know about God that helped him pray strongly? (Look at his praise.)

D. Take a part of this prayer and pray it for whatever little or big crisis you are facing.

Wednesday-Friday  Last thirty minutes of Keller teaching on Jonah. Here is his outline (for the last thirty minutes) for your note-taking

Gospel Communication — with these sub-points

    • What does he say about intelligibility?
    • About Credibility
    • About plausibility
    • About intimacy

Gospel Formation

Gospel Incarnation

 

Link: Click Here

Saturday

What’s your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (247) Post a New Comment ↓
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I was unable to hear the sermon after 3 tries yesterday. Is it something I have to pay for?

    Reply

    Kim, I went to the link and I think I see what you are talking about. Instead of clicking on ‘listen’ you need to click on ‘download audio’. If you click the ‘listen’ button it won’t play for some reason, but if you download it, it will. Hope that helps! :)

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Thank you for your excellent notes Rebecca,they are most helpful.

Glad to know Dee that they will offer downloads and apps, I am just entering the world of apps, and I find them confusing,please enjoy your time with your house full of those you hold dear.

I prayed that I wouldn’t miss God showing His love to me yesterday, and He did, through my sweet husband and through all of you, thank you for praying for me, I am doing much better today.

    Reply

    so thankful to hear this Chris, praying you continue to feel Him

    Reply

    So glad you are feeling better. I knew you could do it. God is gracious.

      Reply

      So glad — I know this week has to be so tough.

    Reply

    Chris, So glad to hear how God came to you with his comfort and love. God loves and cares for you so deeply that He lays you on our hearts to pray for. :)

    I remember after you first came on you were so honest-so willing to lament and open up to God-oh my did God lay you on my heart that you would keep being honest before Him and keep moving toward Him..Yet in my heart as I prayed for you I knew that was a struggle for me! :) I so admired you for how you did move toward Him, and how you still do in the middle of the worst storm imaginable to a mother. You could have chose not to.

    I can’t say I would respond like you but I hope I would! His timing is different how long it might take some of us to turn when the bottom falls out-but at some point we must..I hate that i bend toward being slower to turn-it is pride! I want to be more willing to let him strip me of it. You stated once that your pride and everything had to be stripped and God used this storm to do that in your life-goes well with Keller’s teaching this week. His power is perfected in weakness-and this is my takeaway this week. Cool how God puts all the pieces together over time in what He wants to show us. :)

    You have said over and over it is all Grace and not you, and I so agree, but you did have a choice to be honest with Him-to not back away, and be willing to be stripped of your pride. Even now when you struggle you are willing to yield, to be stripped of pride. Even when you fail and back away from God you see it and admit it and turn eventually. I know you don’t want the glory and I don’t mean to give you the glory..I just want to tell you that His life in you encourages me. He is using you..

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Saturday
What’s your take-a-way and why?
When I opened this week’s study and saw the passage—I thought it might be a mistake. I wasn’t too familiar with Jehosaphat. Now I’m thinking this is one of my favorite passages. I was so taken by Jehosaphat’s faith. He hears terrible, frightening news of imminent danger and the first thing he does is turn to God with praise. He remembers God’s history of power “O LORD, God … you alone are the God who is in heaven… You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!” And he humbly admits his complete weakness in v. 12 “We are powerless…We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” It reminded me of the first step in a 12 step program—admit your powerlessness.

His heart the night before the battle really spoke to me. Instead of wrestling with fear—he bows down in prayer and worship and the others follow his lead. So through Jahaziel, God lets Jehosophat have the assurance that he doesn’t need to be afraid—“for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

I think it was Jehosophat’s obedience through humility, prayer, fasting—that allowed him to hear God say to him—‘don’t be afraid’. I know that every battle I face, God fights for me. He has promised to walk through the waters, the fires with me. But so often it is hard to hear that voice, hard to really believe it. I love Jehosophat’s example—of surrendering all, of speaking truth to his soul amidst the fiery circumstance—and the reward he received, not just of success in battle, but peace from God that God had it. Peace that let him praise Him through the night, amidst the storm.

    Reply

    I am glad you found studying Jehosaphat encouraging, elizabeth. His story really encouraged me too. Even if God doesn’t answer our prayers as swiftly and as positively as J’s, God is still just as much there and we need to learn to trust Him just as much.

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I am sort of distracted today (in a good way). My oldest son, Nathan, and his wife, Sandra, just had their second baby this morning. His name is Samuel Gideon. Baby and mama are doing fine, though Sandra had a c-section and will be sore for a few days.

    I’m soo looking forward to pictures! Wish they lived a little closer, but I know it won’t be too long before we get to meet him. :) I just adore his name, I think it’s soo sweet!

    Krista

    Reply

    Congratulations, Diane, on your new grandson, Samuel Gideon! Do they live close so you will get to see the new baby?

    Reply

    Congratulations to you and hubby and Krista!

    Reply

    How wonderful for you Diane & Krista, and what a wonderful strong name they have chosen, congratulations!

      Reply

      Great name!

    Reply

    Congrats Diane! I hear it is wonderful being a grandma, and God just keeps blessing you! So happy for you all. :)

    Reply

    Oh so happy for all of you. Enjoy!

Sorry I am so behind in this…

A. Describe King Jehosphat’s crisis.

They were going to be attacked by a huge army.

B. Describe his honesty.

Even as a might King he knew the they need God’s help. He know they were powerless without Him.

Like he says in verse 12, “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

C. What did Jehosaphat know about God that helped him pray strongly? (Look at his praise.)

He knew that God was always faithful to those who look to Him. He truly believed in God’s power and miracles.

D. Take a part of this prayer and pray it for whatever little or big crisis you are facing.

God, help me to remember with you all things are possible. You created me and my mind. Help fill my thoughts with Your thoughts. Calm my anxieties and bring peace in its place. Let your joy overcome my depression. Let Your light shine through me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ok well I found out I am not going to the visit after all!!! One day it will happen but not this month! :)

    Reply

    Angela, Will hold you up in prayer! Thanks for updating us!

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3. Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-27

A. Describe King Jehoshaphat’s crisis.

He was told that “a vast army is coming against you”, and they were approaching quickly.
It was the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites coming to make war on Jehoshaphat.

B. Describe his honesty.

I love his prayer in verses 6-12. I once heard a parenting expert say that if you are the parent, even if you don’t know what to do, act like you do, act like you are in charge.
Well, King Jehoshaphat is the man in charge, yet he stands up in front of all the people and says “…we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

That seems like the wrong thing to do, one would think that the king would want to inspire his people with confidence – in him…yet Jehoshaphat is doing the right thing by admitting his powerlessness and inspiring the people to put their hope in God. Honesty is admitting you are powerless in and of yourself.

C. What did Jehoshaphat know about God that helped him pray strongly? (Look at his praise.)

*are you not the God who is in heaven?
*You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations
*power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You
*You drove out the inhabitants of this land and gave it forever to Abraham’s descendants
*When we cry out to You in our distress, You will hear and save us
*God is the Judge

D. Take a part of this prayer and pray it for whatever little or big crisis you are facing.

O Lord, I know You are the One and Only True Living God, the God who is in heaven. Power and might are in Your hands. You are the One who delivered me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, grafting me in, making me one of Abraham’s descendants.
God, I often feel like I have a vast army attacking me from every side. Attacking my faith, my beliefs, often I feel like my very sanity is under attack. The weapons are usually words, but they cut like swords; being misunderstood, rejected, ridiculed. Angry voices, disgusted expressions, being turned away from. I feel often like the enemy is winning, and my children and husband are slipping further and further away from You.
I am powerless, but I can pray. I do not know what to do, but my eyes are upon You. O Lord,
truly, the battle for their souls is Yours. Help me to not be afraid nor discouraged. Give me the courage to face each day knowing You are with me. Help me to remember to praise You, especially when everything looks bleak. Make my heart praise You, as they praised You in the Valley of Beracah. I praise You for the splendor of Your holiness!

    Reply

    Great and fitting prayer for me right now. Thanks. Amen.

      Reply

      Praying for you right now, Laura. I know you have a lot of heartache concerning Sarah and you have an older son, too (?) not walking with the Lord.
      As I pray, I think about the “vast army” we are up against today, how the battle is His, and how Jesus Christ WON the battle on the Cross.

    Reply

    What a wonderful prayer Susan, I had chill bumps as I read it. You are a light shining in a dark place, I am praying for the Spirit to empower you to love your family well even as they mock you, modeling Christ to them.

      Reply

      Thank you, Laura and Chris. I re-read that passage in Chronicles last night after everyone went to bed and after another unpleasant confrontation occurred.
      I didn’t think it was so “big a deal”, what I said….my husband, son who wants to get into med school, and I were talking. My husband was, I thought, being focused on the negative, that even with our son’s good MCAT scores, he has about a 55% chance of being accepted. I know it’s hard to get in, I’m not making light of that. But I said something to the effect of…come on, let’s not focus on all the negatives, but on the positives. Remember “Who” we are asking (or I am asking) for help – our God is a big God! Immediate response of distaste from my husband – I said what is wrong with praying for God to open doors in this matter – he says “You just always have to throw God in people’s face, no one else does that”. My son left the room exasperated. It’s just very discouraging.

      I am also, now, “worrying in God’s direction” about my other son, and need prayer for him. He’s been on long-term antibiotics for cystic acne, and I make sure he takes a daily probiotic, but he doesn’t eat well – resists veggies, etc…and his work schedule makes for irregular meals. He’s been having abdominal pain/cramping and loose stools every day now, usually once daily. Had his physical this past week, doctor ordered blood work – checking for gluten intolerance and for irritable bowel disease. He’s leaving for college in less than a month, and I’m worried about his health. We’ve stopped the antibiotics for over a week now, and he’s improving some with diarrhea less watery and at least very soft (sorry, being a nurse, it doesn’t bother me to talk about this…hope I’m not offending!)
      Should have blood test results early next week.

        oh susan–will definitely pray right now for all of this–so sorry. you do have a “vast army attacking” as you said–but i will pray your prayer with you–He is mighty

        Susan, Loved your prayer and thanks for sharing this encounter you had last night with your husband and son. Your faith amazes me-totally glorifies God-His power in you.

        Lord, we cry out on Susan’s behalf-continue to give her wisdom on how she should handle these confrontations. Give her your strength and we ask for a reprieve from them somehow in whatever way you would lead her. Help her to hear you. Comfort Susan’s heart in regard to her son and we ask you would move in a mighty way to show your power in this-for your glory. We thank you Lord that you tell us to ask of you these things and we ask for healing for her son, and if you choose not to that she would continue to go to you and trust you in the mystery. We pray for her husband and other son that you would woo them to you and soften their hearts. We thank you for how we have seen you move between Susan’s husband and daughter, how you have wooed her dad and saved him. We praise you for you are faithful and you are good. In Jesus name, amen.

        Thank you Elizabeth and Rebecca.

        Susan, I loved your prayer too! You are in the midst of spiritual warfare and we will pray for you. I have been reading over, trying to catch up and I am amazed at how appropriate this post is for what you are facing. Good for you for continuing to speak truth in the face of such opposition. His strength is certainly evident in you, though I know this causes you much pain.

        Susan, what a beautiful testimony. Praying for you as you deal with such painful put downs. Wish I could give you a hug! Praying for your husband and both sons too, especially the one who is sick.

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Continued Keller Sermon:

I answered ‘intimacy’ above. (basically sharing the gospel the old way doesn’t work in today’s post modern culture-we often share the gospel in 2-3 minutes then jump to intimacy and we have lost them because they don’t have the Christianized background we assumed they had.)

Gospel Formation

Ferguson said: “When Jonah goes back a second time to preach to the Ninevites he is a broken and humble man. Singular ferguson said: God brings life out of death. We may think of this as the principle behind all evangelism-you could call it the jonah principle. … fruitful evangelism is a result of this death producing principle. Out of Christ weakness his power is born and when his power is demonstrated in our weakness, others are drawn to Him. This is exactly what is happening to Jonah.”

“When you share about a weakness in yourself, personal problems you are going through and how Christ is your strength. You will become someone who has more credibility and plausibility to those who hear you.”

“Here is how you know you have really met God-you limp. Unless something comes into your life that breaks your pride and self righteousness, you may say you are a sinner saved by grace but you don’t really believe it. The Gospel hasn’t formed yet inside. He will break you down if he is going to use you.”

Gospel Incarnation

“When the sailors went to Jonah they were saying basically you don’t love us. You were so concerned with your own issues. Look at you, you are asleep. Jonah went to the city but he didn’t love the city. That is how we are with this post modern world. We don’t love them, we turn our nose down at them. It is crucial for non Christians to hear us talking assuredly about truth, but also they need to hear us talking about how hard it is to believe because faith is a gift.

How do we get that kind of courage and love? Remember when Jesus was on the cross and was thrown into the real storm. He literally said on the cross, ‘All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me for I am cast out of thy sight.’ He did that for us. If you see him doing that for you then you have both the power and you have the strength and the weakness, both the power and the compassion to pour yourself out to the city.”

    Reply

    Really appreciate your notes, Rebecca. I haven’t had the chance to listen to all the sermon, but it sounds really good. I was feeling a little bogged down in the sermon. It is a little hard to understand at points, but I will persevere listening and taking notes, as I have time. We are at someone else’s house and I don’t have much time right now to be online. Vacation is good and fun, but there is no usual routine.

      Reply

      Diane, I understand. It one of those where you have to piece it out which is why i like that Dee
      Split it up into two parts. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time! Sometimes it can be so
      Refreshing to get out of routines, yet it can be sweet getting back into them when the vacation is over. :-)

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Sisters, I would love your prayers. I am singing on worship team tomorrow morning leading the first song singing wise and I am also singing a special.

Pray my mind would be set on Him-that this is about Him not me. Pray for a good time of focus and quiet with him before I sing. It is difficult to do that when I need to get the boys ready in the morning and get out the door-and they may fight and putter around. I don’t like to have a rushful, stressful morning and not have any time of intimacy with him before I sing. Pray for sustainability during the first song I sing-I belt it out and that it would not be worn out by the time I sing the special.

Thanks so much!

    Reply

    wrote it down rebecca–will def. be praying! wish i could be there :)

      Reply

      Amen!

        Thanks Dee and Elizabeth, I am so thankful for you-I know you will pray. :)

      Reply

      Thanks Elizabeth, I so wish you could be there! :)

    Reply

    Praying for you, Rebecca!

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God just showed me my takeaway for this week as I was reflecting on Chris’ life as well as our studies lately.

Keller sealed it for me in his sermon when he said: “Here is how you know you have really met God-you limp. Unless something comes into your life that breaks your pride and self righteousness, you may say you are a sinner saved by grace but you don’t really believe it. The Gospel hasn’t formed yet inside. He will break you down if he is going to use you.”

I don’t want the bottom to drop out-I don’t! But I have this pride that needs to be broken and Lord I want you to come and break it-it has fleshed itself out in so many ways this week..do what you must Lord. I would rather have you and be transformed into your image than hold onto this pride that bars me from going deeper with you. You are more worthy than Gold, than anyone or anything on this Earth-may I live to praise you.

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    Wow Rebecca! Pure gold take-away! What crosses my mind is a question. Do I trust Him enough? I mean enough to allow Him anything I see as mine. My children, husband, home or lifestyle. Would I still feel safe if He took any of these? Would I feel they were safe in deep or troubled waters? You have shone a bright light to the heart of idolatry.

    Reply

    Rebecca — this is one of your best take-a-way statements.

    Reply

    Oh, Rebecca, I love your heart. Love your take-away. That quote from Keller really struck me to. I feel that is what God has been doing in my life, especially this past year. I definitely limp most of the time now.

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I just heard from Al. His flight is delayed because of a lockdown in New York. We may have to go back and pick him up. I don’t know what is going on, neither does he. They are supposed to update them at 5.

    Reply

    I don’t know if anyone had a chance to pray but he texted me about 20 minutes ago that they are boarding. Thank You Lord.

      Reply

      Glad for this news!

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Anne, what you just said is exactly what God has been impressing on my heart! I want to get to a place where I will more readily yield to his chisel.

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1. In this post I understand why it is so hard for me to believe that He loves me. I am full of well deserved guilt. I sin regularly and I have make trillions of mistakes. I think I expect from God the same that I often get from people (and sometimes give). Condemnation. My own heart condemns me. Grace can be like a language that we seldom hear and foreign to us. But, Oh! Grace is beautiful! It is Jesus in the gospels and Paul in the epistles! Didn’t Paul limp more than any of the other apostles? Peter too. It does inspire me to give it. I want to hold onto that because it is so easy to lose in the midst of day to day living. I pray Lord that I will be able to hold onto this grace and give it freely every day that is left to me.

2. I have experienced His covering every time He answers my prayers or brings an unexpected gift even though I have failed in so many ways. He treats me better than I treat my beloved children. Showering good things on me whenever possible and supporting me through discipline and growth. This week He has covered me with grace from forgiving children who love me in spite of my mistakes and imperfection. Though much of the time they are somewhere on the spectrum of, irritated with Mom. But the most profound covering I have experienced is when I make mistakes and He protects me from serious repercussions from them when I pray. I have never been failed by Him on this. Perhaps it would be different if it were willful sin, that may be different, but with mistakes I have always been delivered.

    Reply

    “Grace can be like a language that we seldom hear and foreign to us.” You give a great analogy here, Anne. I love your post.

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    Oh Anne — this is my heart so much. So it ministered to me.

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    Love this, Anne. May God’s grace become more and more real in all our hearts.

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My take-away for the week is the passage from 2 Chronicles. It was such a great reminder that it’s okay to throw up my hands and say, “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You, Lord”. I could insert so many daily battles into the “vast army” part, and the passage gives an example of honest prayer, humility, and reliance on God. I also love the phrase about praising God for “the splendor of Your holiness”. It’s a good thing to meditate upon.

    Reply

    Yes — love that verse too, Susan.

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Rebecca and Anne…loved your take a ways!!

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