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JOURNEY TO FREEDOM IN 2011

set-freeAs we begin this exciting journey together in The New Year, I know God is able to change our hearts and set us free in areas where we have been bound.

Because of our depravity, we are bound in many areas. Last week, as a “preview,” I asked women to begin to pray about “one stone” instead of a whole quarry. Some of you have identified one, others are anxious, because you are not sure. Some of you have honestly said, “Will this really help?” Even though I pray and read my Bible, two hours later, I’m bound again.

It won’t be a quick fix, but we rest on the promise of God that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion. If we cooperate with His Spirit instead of resisting Him, we will, indeed, experience more freedom, more joy, and more intimacy with Him. He is the one who remove stones, and gives us a new heart, so we must work with Him.

By the end of this week I am asking you to have identified one stone, at the very most two, that you would like to see taken from your heart. The other goal is to find an accountability partner.

The first baby step is seeing the stone God wants to remove. We are in a battle, and one of the enemy’s main devices is to keep us from seeing. If you do not see your sin, the enemy has already won. Many of us may see the surface sin, but I want you to look deeper,  pondering the deep “idol” that is behind the sin, the stone in your heart. In Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods, he identifies them as control, power, approval, and comfort.

For example, if you struggle with gluttony, your deep idol may be comfort; with rage, your deep idol may be control; with procrastination, it may be comfort; with contentment, it may be comfort or approval. In each case you think there is something other than God that can meet your deepest needs. This is not just a journey in having a stone removed, but a journey toward intimacy with God, so that you can discover that He, and He alone, can thrill your soul and satisfy your deepest longings.

I’ll share the rock I want removed.  I often fail to give grace. I am judgmental. I find myself thinking and sometimes saying a “sideways” comment instead of simply speaking the truth in love. This is manipulation. This is not loving well, not loving as Jesus loved, and grieving the Spirit of God. It affects not only my relationship with these family members, but actually pushes away the God with whom I so long to be intimate.  What is my root idol? CONTROL. I must give up “control” and turn them over to God. I long not only to refrain from hurtful comments, but to truly have a heart of grace toward them, seeing what is lovely in them instead of always the thing that is wrong. I am listing five reasons why I want that big rock of CONTROL taken from my heart. I am reading them over daily.

Idols seem to be good Gods, but they destroy you. It is never enough to let go of an idol, we must run to the one true God. We can do that with singing, with spending time in the Word, and using the Word as a springboard for prayer, and by allowing the Word to truly direct our days.

Take a question a day, or more if you like.

Let’s begin with a story, of a rock in the heart of Martha, and how the Messiah took it out. It can happen for each of us too. Her surface sin was anger, but her root sin was probably approval or control. But Martha the Manipulator met the Messiah — and as we go through her story in the next week, you will see a heart of flesh appear.

MARTHA THE MANIPULATOR (The root sins of control and approval)

(Sermon Resource: Jim Om on Redeemer.Com   Sermon title: Models of Manipulation – worth every penny of the 2.50 MP3)

It’s a familiar story, but Jim Om gave me new insights. Go slowly, meditate, and allow His Spirit to speak to you.

marymarthajesus

Read Luke 10:38-40

1. Describe the setting in Luke 10:38-40, contrasting the two sisters. Find adjectives that describe each of them. Read carefully. Does the Vemeer painting to the left ring true — or how do you imagine the scene?

Vemeer pictures Jesus being alone, which I think was the situation because of the pronouns “he and him” in verse 38. If that was true, Martha’s anxiety seems particularly out of order. Chuck Swindoll said, “Martha, Martha, chips and dip would be fine.” But even if all the disciples were there, she is still out of line. Let’s look for the deep idol in her heart, and perhaps we will also see our own.

2. Jim Om says there are two signs of manipulation — and at least one is always present in manipulation. Here, in Martha’s words to Jesus, see if you can find:

A. Trying to use guilt:

B. Giving an order:

3. When we get anxious about something, it is often a red flag that our idol is operating. We are afraid we are not going to get what our idol promises. In Martha’s case, she really may have been thinking about her reputation as a hostess. This was an important guest and she wanted people to notice — so it could have been approval. Because manipulation is involved, it may also have been control. She thought she knew better than Jesus what was needed. What do you think was her deep idol? Do you identify in any way with longing for approval or control? If so, share.

4. When you you tend to get anxious? This will help you identify your idol.

Read Luke 10:41-42

5. When a name is spoken twice in Scripture, there is always passionate emotion. David said, “Absalom, Absalom — oh my son, would that I could have died instead of you. Jesus said, ” “Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem –would that I could have gathered you under my wings like a mother hen, but you would not listen.” And at the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” When Jesus says, “Martha, Martha,” he is intensely concerned about her just as he is intensely concerned about us when we run after our idols. To me, He would say,

“Dee, Dee — you are trying to control the situation — let go, and let me take care of this person.” What would he say to “Susan, Susan…Tracy, Tracy…Anne, Anne…Renee…Renee, etc.

Be still and listen.

Have you identified a deep idol that is behind your surface sin? If so, what would Jesus say to you?

6. What is the better thing Mary has chosen? (This is not a negative comment about serving, nor is it a separation of the sacred and the secular. It has to do with the heart and with the object of worship.)

7. It is never enough to allow a stone to be taken out, we must run to the real God, as Mary is doing, developing her love relationship with Jesus, “hanging” as The Message puts it, “on His every word.”  How might you “practice His presence,” even as you are getting ready in the morning, driving to work, caring for children…

Next week we will start chipping at the stone you have identified. Have you found an accountability partner yet? Rebecca, Jess, and others have — let us pray and find someone!

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180 comments

  1. 4. I get anxious about finances and the future of my children. I get very anxious about my mistakes and failures because I fear results that I know I deserve because I failed. I make a lot of mistakes even though I try very hard to be careful and I wonder if the Lord allows this because He wants me to see that He loves me and will love to rescue me. I can’t think of a time when I prayed and He did not rescue me.

    5. I think Jesus would say to me, “Anne, Anne, fear not, for I am with you.” I think my deepest idol is comfort and that He would tell me to fear not because He is with me no matter where I must walk.

    6. The better thing that Mary has chosen is the Lord Himself. She is looking at Him and listening to Him.

    7. There are many wonderful things we can do to practice His presence. We can focus on an attribute; read verses describing that attribute and praise Him. We can pray the Psalms or study portions of scripture. In busy times we can imagine Him right beside us, send up prayers for assistance and keep our eyes peeled to see evidence of His presence with us. I wonder though if we focus too much on ‘doing’, not remembering to stop and listen. That is what Mary was doing, just looking at Him and listening.

    Once the Lord told me to be still, and know that He is God. I remember Rich Mullins saying that when he and his friend traveled they ‘practiced silence’ in the truck rather than listening to sermons or music.

    1. I love the idea of practicing silence. I also love the wisdom that Rich Mullins expressed!

  2. 4. There is one thing I get more anxious about than anything and it feels so selfish to admit, but it is my health. I do have some medical disorders that were diagnosed all around the same time in my mid twenties, so there is a some reality that my fears stand on, yet Satan has frequently attacked me in this area with a terrifying fear of things that do not end up happening.

    I think He would say to me, “Elizabeth, Elizabeth, fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, and you are Mine. Never will I leave you nor forsake you. My plans for you are for your good. I love you.”

    1. Elizabeth I can relate here too! For 13 years now I have struggled with undiagnosed debilitating illness. It comes and goes but no real diagnosis. It can be fearful in not knowing…Oh that is when Christ has to be enough and trusting anything allowed through His hand is for our good. Such a hard thing. Never will I leave you or forsake you is one of those Scriptures that has gotten me through it. Praying for you now.

  3. She thought she knew better than Jesus what was needed. What do you think was her deep idol? Do you identify in any way with longing for approval or control? If so, share. I can so identify with Martha for her longing for control. I also, as I look deeper, see the same sin as Martha had, thinking I know better than Jesus does about what I need.

    Have you identified a deep idol that is behind your surface sin? If so, what would Jesus say to you? My deep idol would be control, and I think Jesus would say to me, Mary, Mary, you are worried and fretful about many things, trust me Mary, look to me, I love you and the plans I have for you are for good, I will never leave you alone. I am the fountain of living water.

  4. 4. I get anxious when I’m very tired, and my thinking can get whacko when I haven’t gotten enough sleep or have forgotten to eat. When I feel anxious, I do need to consider whether I am hungry or very tired. I learned that what appeared to be full blown panic attacks was a lack of protein 🙂 Most of the time, anxiety I experience is due to being hungry or tired. But sometimes being hungry and tired is related to priorities being out of kilter.

    I think I was anxious about this Bible Study… maybe I still am, although I don’t particularly feel anxious at the moment. That anxiety was/is related to the standards I set for myself. It’s hard for me that I can’t focus and produce “good” responses. Some of that is because I hadn’t been able to focus at work and now I’m catching up (and it involves some pretty intense thinking). For a few months, I’ve also wrestled with how intellectual abilities are related to spiritual growth. When my mom was dying and shortly afterward, I was very aware that my spiritual well-being is not dependent on my cognitive abilities (if it were, my mom’s relationship with God would have been negated, and I’d be in deep trouble if or when I develop dementia). But my life and work is SO cognitive. (and I love & miss other parts of life, too). For me, it’s such progress and I am so blessed when I allow myself to learn one small thing and meditate on it.

    I am SO blessed to be participating in this study. Part of the issue, another stone, may be approval. But even more, I think the stone is related to how I perceive myself — I like to be dependable, to do a “good job.” And I am not doing a “good job” answering questions here, yet God is blessing me and teaching me through all of you — and I am thankful! Yet, I am having a hard time with the idea of “partially” participating (even though my brain and energy won’t cooperate to do better). Another stone is self-sufficiency.

    5. “Renee, Renee,” the Lord would say, “you are upset that you might not study about ME in the ‘right way.’ I knew you before you were born, I’m here with you now, and I’ll always be with you. You do know me. I love you. Now enjoy me, and rest, and you will know me better.”

    1. So glad your here Renee – said a prayer for your today! 🙂

      1. Thank you 🙂

    1. Dee you helped me realize I forgot to do #5..

      5. Jesus would say to me, “Rebecca, Rebecca rest in my love and keep your eyes on me..I have given you a heart for me and a voice to sing praises.. I delight in you.Just trust and persevere, I haven’t left you..no i am drawing closer so just press into me sweet Rebecca and trust me..choose the better thing..I love you.”

      Wow.. that was hard to say..To think He loves me that much..It is hard to fathom it..But I need to rest in Him..

  5. Welcome Angela!!! Glad to have you here and what encouraging insight! 🙂

    1. Thanks Rebecca and love your statement above. It is hard huh? So glad God is breaking us free.

      1. Angela, yes sometimes the truth is really hard to see that Jesus cherishes me and calls me His beloved bride..sweet Rebecca.. I don’t feel ‘sweet’ that is for sure! I focus on the ugly most of the time..:) The stone hasn’t been broken just yet and is still in the way, but God is chipping away and I am starting to see Him a bit clearer-but not there yet.. growth IS a process, that is for sure! Looking forward to next week..One more step forward..pressing on..:)

        1. I cannot help to think about how much lighter we will be when this is all said and done and some heavy stones are broken. Glory! Cannot wait!

  6. Still thinking and praying about my stone, my thought life. Trying to make a list of 5 reasons why I want to put more edifying thoughts in my mind and stop daydreaming/fantasizing and entertaining negative, ungodly thoughts.

    #1. Is my verse from Proverbs 23:7, because “For as (Susan) thinks in her heart, so is she.”

    Around 1:00 am this morning, I really felt I was being attacked with very tormenting thoughts about my nephew who died. I just couldn’t get a handle on all the terrible thoughts going through my mind. So I got my CD player, and put in Amy Shreve’s CD from The God of All Comfort, and laid on the couch and listened, really trying to focus on the words to the hymns. I didn’t make it through the whole CD, I fell asleep!

    I still don’t know who my accountability partner will be, though.

    1. Lifting you up in prayer right now. I love how praise music is great for refocusing our minds on HIM!

  7. Thanks for the welcome everyone…Because of this sin I believe God is asking me to go off of Facebook and Twitter for bit to deal with this issue. I have some ladies who are not doing this study but I am speaking to here about accountability in this. Praying for each of you. I think seeking God’s heart alone is the first step.

    BTW having a hard time seeing older comments..maybe I need to open a new browser.

    1. Thank you for your prayers, Angela. My nephew died in 2009 from a drug overdose and we all (family) still dealing with the fallout.
      BTW, I don’t think your sin is silly (how it bothers you that you feel ignored on Facebook)! I struggle, too, with wanting to be “noticed” and payed attention to.
      I am struggling with my thought-life, but for mine, and all of our, sins, what encourages me is that the Bible tells us that there is no temptation that seizes us that is not common to all man (and women!). But God will provide a way out for us!

      And, welcome, I’m glad you are with us!

      1. Thanks Susan! So sorry for your loss. I struggle with thought life as well. Praying for us both. Let Him renew our minds with His word.

  8. I have too many stones! I know one is control, but I am seeing more a stronghold of fear in my life that may have comfort at it’s root. I get anxious about anything that may disrupt my comfort zone–both in areas of ministry, and things like my health.

    7. practice His presence. Today when I read the verses, what stood out was “Martha was distracted…” “Elizabeth was distracted.” Oh how I don’t want that said of me towards Him! Thank you for calling me to You Lord, I will practice your prescence by reading Your word each morning, even if only a few verses at a time…and by offering thanks continually.

    I am a pray-er, I love to lift up prayers continually, and I do feel His presence daily in that way, but I do long to be better at reading His word daily and listen to Him, not just talk!

  9. I, too, become anxious when I think about the future. I fear what life will be like after mom and dad are not here anymore; what I will do when my last child is grown and leaves home; what kind of relationship I will have with my husband (since we struggle now). I think I fear having no purpose or direction in life, having no one who needs me anymore. Maybe I fear being alone, too. I am sure that other people in my life can easily become my idols, as I depend on them more than I do on the Lord.

  10. Dee, I am signed in now…
    Hello to the others on this blog 🙂 I am a long time friend of Dee Brestin and this is only the second time I have been a “blogger”…

    I like to think about Martha and Mary because I can identify with both of them and I am encouraged by their confident/loving relationships with Jesus. AND Jesus loved them. Wonderful thought!

    1. Jean, Hi!! So glad you are here! :0)

    2. Hi Jean! 🙂

  11. what an amazing blessing to be on this journey with all of you! thank you for all your honesty. i could have writen many of the posts that you all have. its amazing how so many of us have similar struggles. Here is to getting rid of our “stones” together!!!

    1. Hi Cyndi, it’s funny I was just thinking the same thing. I don’t think there is one post I can’t relate to or haven’t done. I’m with you Cyndi – here’s to getting rid of our stones together! Lord, we need you! 🙂

  12. I so agree with you Cyndi and Mary. Here’s to dropping those stones out of the wagon. One for each of us.

    I have another response to #7 that I would like to share.

    7. My new favorite musician is pianist/composer David Nevue. His music goes straight to my soul. In this piece called The Vigil I think I can see the story in the music. In the beginning are clear rather disconnected notes that are the call to wakefulness. As the music begins to come together I imagine the beginning of talking with God. It is the beginning of a dance with Him. As the music swells to great beauty and recedes I imagine dancing with Him, moving toward Him and then away. Then as the piece ends the notes get softer and farther apart until the return to sleep. To me it is very much a way of practicing His presence. Here is the connection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgGt8kxtwfY

  13. Welcome to everyone new here, it’s so wonderful to read all your thoughts and prayers and being open to one another, and to know we are all sisters in Christ.
    Dee, I love your new profile picture!
    Elizabeth, I’m with you, I will practice your prescence by reading your word each day and offering thanks continually and by being a prayer warrior for all of you and others in my life.

  14. I have missed Dee’s Bible study very much over the past few months and I am ready to join in once again.As some of you know my husband died last Jan. and it has been a tough year. But my heart has yearned for your company. I need your prayers as my eldest daughter and her husband are getting a divorce, they are the parents of two teen-age boys, my youngest daughter and her husband and five year son, Gabriel, are doing well and expecting another baby in June. Well, on to the study. Exciting to be back.
    Judy

    1. Judy,

      So very sorry for your great loss and for what your family is going through with your oldest daughter and her husband getting divorced.

      My husband left us last Christmas. I have two teenage children (my son is a freshman in college this year and my daughter is senior in high school). We, by God’s grace alone, are making it through. I know first hand how devastating divorce is: for me, for my children, for my parents and for my husband’s family as well.

      I will be praying for your daughter, her sons and her husband –

      Paige

      1. Paige, My husband left me and my three kids ( disabled newborn, 5yrs, and 8 yrs) almost 24 years ago now and it was devastating and still hurts my older kids. When they are little it’s easier, but when they aren’t it’s damaging to them. It worked out for the best for my baby and I as God found a much better husband and father for us, but the two older kids are still dealing with problems with their dad. I am praying for you and your kids.

    2. Judy, I am so glad you are back. I will pray for your family, especially your grandsons.

    3. I’m glad you’re back, too, Judy 🙂

  15. Judy, I have missed you so! I have prayed for you, knowing you lost your husband and how hard it is for you. I’m so sorry about your daughter and her husband divorcing. The teenage boys will suffer so, through it all. I will be praying for you and all of them. So glad your youngest daughter and her family is doing good. So glad your back!

    1. Joyce,
      You are such an awesome prayer warrior!

    1. Dee, Thanks!! and, AMEN sister! Thanks for the link..It will help me as I have embarked on this recently..You are right, it does have power…

    2. Thanks for that link Dee, it’s very good! I too, think your new pic is great! 🙂

    3. Thank you, Dee

      1. (For the redeemer link above)

    4. Dee, thanks for this link. I loved the contrast of the 2 commentaries on the same Psalm. I prayed Psalm 5 which is rather long when you add in the prayers. Out of the verses when David cried out for judgment of the wicked I saw something different than I expected. From Isaiah I have learned that with God even judgment is really mercy. I think I can see that David may not have been only self serving in his prayers for judgment on the wicked. While his emotions don’t seem to really be seeking good for his enemies, I think God could turn it around.

  16. Would pride have approval at it’s core? In my Bible reading yesterday I read Matthew 6. I was struck with vs 1-2 :Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets…
    It has always seemed to me that pride is at the root of all of my sins. I do feel so ready for Him to carve it out!

      1. It is discouraging that I am 39 and still struggle so much with the same sins that never seem to go away…I know there is grace, but I want change! Even looking back at what I’ve written here i see my own pride and need for approval…it feels inescapable! But thank you for this study, I am committed!

        1. Oh, Elizabeth… I’m sorry, but I both empathized and laughed when I read your response. 1) I’m older than you are and recently said the same thing 🙂 2) I know some people who are twice your age and would say the same thing. 3) I think this is a lifelong issue; even when the power of some sins is reduced, other sins “pop up” that seem as if they have been lifelong, too. 4) when I (full of emotion) blurted out a similar statement in a group last month, someone reminded me that I was in good company, considering what Paul said in Romans about wanting to do what is right, but not doing it.

        2. Bless you Renee, and I know you are so right, even after typing it I remembered saying the same thing to my YoungLife leader in high school!–I just oh get so weary and “home-sick” for the REAL home sometimes!
          Thank you for your encouragement-fellowship is so good!

  17. Thank you Dee for the wonderful Redeemer link!
    Psalm 36: 5-9
    5 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
    6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
    7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
    8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
    9 For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

  18. Does anyone have any thoughts/wisdom on “organizing” one’s prayer time?
    For example, I know I need to spend time reading the Bible. And just worshipping God without asking for anything, and listening to Him.
    Then there’s needing to ask forgiveness for my sins. Add in praying for my children, parents, other family, friends, and other prayer requests…..sometimes I get overwhelmed and do the wrong thing – which is not to pray because I’m stressed about the entire thing!
    If I would commit to 5-10 min. a day, time to spend with the Lord, what should I be doing during that time? Then when does all the other stuff get scheduled in?

  19. Hi everyone! I have an idol, and maybe you could help me see more clearly, the splinter or log in my eye is clouding my vision. I read your blog quite regularly and like Renee said sometimes I don’t write because I don’t believe I have alot of great answers, or the things I think have already been said.

    And Renee, by the way, I just want to say, I love your humor! 🙂

    Here is my story and maybe you can help me see a little better, I think I know what my idol is but there are some things I seem to be a bit fuzzy about.

    Last January, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. (I know someone else on this blog also had cancer.) In Feb, I had surgery and I had some complications after that so I had to wait until May to start chemo and radiation. I’m single, so I went to live with my sister and her husband while I was recovering. Now, it is time to move on, and I feel very lonely and very alone. Sometimes, I feel like, I don’t want to be alone. Before, all this happened, I didn’t always like being alone, but I was O.k. with it. God took me through mighty things and he has always been faithful to me. I just have an intense struggle in my emotions right now and I need help to see more clearly. My idol, I believe, is maybe looking to others instead of Christ to meet my needs. But sometimes, I feel, I need a flesh and blood Christ. Did not God say, he would set the solitary in families? I know this sounds kinda pathetic, but this is where I am at now, these are my raw feelings. I feel like I want to belong, and be in that place where I do belong and are welcome, where I am needed and wanted. Maybe, that is in serving Christ, maybe that is the answer to the question. I don’t know why these feelings are so strong right now – I would welcome your thoughts!

    1. Welcome, and praying for you…glad you are “here”

    2. Welcome, Anon 🙂 Thanks for the humor comment! From what you wrote, I’m not sure your desire not to be alone is an idol. In fact, your desire may be God-given!!

      As you’ve indicated your emotions are strong right now — and may be related to all you’ve been through physically. Will come back here (have to leave now) & write more, but before I tore outta here, I wanted to get on and caution you not to “convict yourself” (vs. letting the Holy Spirit convict you). You might not be doing this, but then again…. just thought I’d mention it given what you wrote and what I don’t know about you.

      Praying for you!

    3. Anonymous-

      I’m currently editing a book, written by a friend of mine. I don’t know when it will be published… but it isn’t in print just yet (sorry).

      However, your post reminded me of the things he recommends we do when we find ourselves in emotional recovery. That is to allow the emotions to flow through us completely (even the negative and painful ones), realizing that the emotions we experience will change. He recommends to think of emotion more like clouds…. today they might look beautiful or they maybe ugly and stormy but don’t concern yourself with that. Your job is to simply give your heart permission to stay in them and express them fully for the time that they last.

      The point of doing this, is to allow your heart to fully experience the emotions that you were unable to express (for many reasons) during the physical healing process. I would even venture to say there might also have been difficult emotions in diagnosis and determining how to move forward that were also not able to be expressed until now. You had to use your energy for a time on other things, so the emotions needed to be set aside so that the necessary could be done.

      The positive side of your sharing this story here is that this author actually asked me just yesterday if I personally knew of situations that publishing this book would be helpful in. I hadn’t answered yet because I couldn’t think of any examples I could share with him without risking confidentiality but I absolutely KNOW his writing is important. I can now go back and encourage him…. with a perfectly safe example and a strong “YES, the message you carry needs to be shared”. So, even if the small nugget I’ve offered you doesn’t help much, I still hope you find a little encouragement in knowing that your sharing has encouraged someone you may never ever know.

    4. Anonymous,

      Welcome!! You are prayed for and loved here! I can’t imagine what you are going through!! What I see is a woman who is in the midst of a trial most of us have never had to endure, but I see you running to Jesus.

      I am not sure because I don’t know your heart like God does, but I don’t think your desire to not be alone reveals that your dependency is on man rather than God..I think that desire to not be alone is God given. God made us that way..I see you struggling right now during this transition and you do need a flesh and blood Jesus or two in your life to walk along side you and encourage you, and perhaps they need encouragement as well.

      Have you tried praying through the Psalms yet? I have just started and it is unexplainable the healing God can bring..Cling to them, praise Him and in the process cry out to Jesus..He will hear and answer you..

      He will bring you other believers face to face to be your ‘flesh and blood’ Christ..

      Lord, wrap your loving arms around this sweet sister..Thank you for giving her a heart after your heart..She so wants to please you that in the midst of these deep waters she is desiring to see if she has any idols in the way..Lord show her if she does and help her pinpoint what it is so you can begin giving her a heart of flesh and we know Lord in your great mercy you will do it in your time when you know she is listening as you so faithfully do with all of us..Lord, sustain her and help her to continue to persevere and cry out to you..Lord surround her with some good friends who can be your arms and legs to her in the flesh..Who can encourage her and keep her face toward you..You are the great healer of hearts Lord and in your grace and mercy you have not only given us your counselor the Holy Spirit, but you have also given us one another..for you know our great need for fellowship and in building one another up..Thanks for this sister’s heart, and we thank you for the work you are doing in her..To you be the glory Lord Jesus..

  20. I’m sure others have more wisdom on the subject–but one thing that has helped me since I was a teen is the acronym ACTS–adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. When I feel overwhelmed by the needs around me (kids, work, etc…)it helps me to write as I have my time with Him, and I actually write out the acronym, and then journal on each. For me too it helps if I first read the scripture I’m on (right now I am doing just the NT of my One Yr Bible–never have made it completely through!) before I begin journaling..otherwise my Bible reading can seem to get squeezed out 🙁
    Sorry, don;t know if that helps at all, I’m sure others have better thoughts.

    1. Sorry–I meant mine to be in response to Susan! 🙂

    2. Glad you posted that 🙂 I learned that when I was a teen, too — and it does help, partly because it is embedded in my thinking (a lot of the stuff I learned as a kid was very effectively hammered into me!)

    3. Moms In Touch uses a format similar to the ACTS. I love it and it works so well for group prayer. In my private prayer time I often use their list of attributes to focus on the character of God so I can begin with praise. But I find that I can get down on myself if I am led in another direction. Sometimes that is lack of discipline on my part but sometimes it is by the leading of the Spirit. I just have not found a formula or pattern that I can use all the time. For all of my Christian life it has seemed to me that I have been on a seesaw. If I was consistently in the word, my prayer life was lacking. When I felt like I was spending a substantial amount of time in prayer, I lacked consistent time in the word. The best balance I have found is what Dee suggested and that is to stop as I read and pray as the Lord reveals Himself in His word. I don’t use a prayer list anymore. I try to pray for needs as they come up and then again if they come to mind. I’m not sure that praying for the same thing over and over brings better answers. I do use a prayer book for my children that has written prayers by subject.

      1. Anne, you made some great points..God is teaching me that praying goes much deeper than we know..I mean sometimes it is as simple as when we make a wise decision..and as deep as when we are in fervent prayer on our face on the floor in the middle of the night..or in the word as we are studying, stopping and praying and seeing how God reveals Himself. The water He gives is so refreshing and new every time..It amazes me when I try to satisfy that thirst with temporal things and to think that it is even a struggle.. It is like drinking pop instead of water..pop doesn’t quench your thirst..I hate my flesh!

        Prayer books are awesome so you can see how God has answered and more important to share with others so they can see Him moving..I haven’t kept one with the boys, but I have TONS when I was single..I need to do that again..

  21. Dee, I am coming late to your study. My friend, Rebecca was sharing with me what God is doing in her life thru your study. I checked it out and wow! God is showing me answers to the questions I have been asking in my own quiet time. I have identified the source of my depression and anger (control and approval). Now, I can begin the work of having God remove these stones. Pray for me that I will be able to relinquish all control to Him who is more than able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day. In Christ alone, Rhonda

    1. Rhonda, Andrew’s mom, Is that you?!?!?!? So great to see you here!! Welcome and hope you can catch up or perhaps I will meet you in our study for this week? Regardless, I am so glad God led you here. I can so relate to what you are going through at this season in the depression/anger arena..I am so there, and God is so here for us rescuing us from our idols. Love you. 🙂

      1. Yes, Rebecca…it’s me. Thank you for sharing with me. God has used your transparency to minister to me. I spent the day going back and reading the past lessons and reading/praying thru the scriptures. As always, God speaks right to where I am. I’ve had control issues in the past, but was able to achieve some measure of growth. I seem to have back-slidden now that I have kids with ADD and ADHS issues. I go from frustrated and angry to sad and concerned. Even though it’s out of love and concern, sometimes, my responses are not filled with the fruit of the Spirit. I want to fix or control the circumstances instead of letting my heavenly Father take the burden from me. Some of the discipline issues I have to deal with now, stem from the time of my chemical depression when I let too much slide and now I have to retrain my kids and myself. Pray that God will give me the strength and wisdom to do what is right in His eyes and my responses would be Spirit-led.

        1. Rhonda,

          Praise God! Yes, I will pray for you. I want to encourage you that I really believe He will free you from this. Since I started this study online for the past six months or so, Jesus has really freed me from the depression and anger I was being defined by and believe me it defined me, yet I know I must be on my knees every day and also I know I will fail, but I am resting assure that I am His and He is faithful and will never forsake me, and to be free from this these past few months has been HUGE. It could only come from Him, and yet I know as time goes on there is more He is going to free me from.

          Anyway, I will pray for you right now..