As 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.
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!