WELCOME TO WOMEN JUST JOINING US FOR OUR STUDY ON JESUS AND THE IDOLS OF OUR HEART! WELCOME! WELCOME! AND A HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS BLOGGING WITH US. MAY GOD’S FACE SHINE UPON YOU IN SOME WAY THIS MOTHER’S DAY. We’ve been on this path of overcoming idolatry for several months, but for the sake of newcomers, and because review is good for all of us, I want to first go over some of the central concepts, asking for help from women who have been on this journey, and then take a turn, taking us down a fresh path. The more I study Scripture, the more I see how this theme of idolatry is EVERYWHERE. Yet we have often missed it, because we think of idolatry as “Old Testament” where people worshipped statues of gold or stone. In fact, 80% of Americans say they have never done it! But idolatry is much bigger than that. Idolatry is putting anything in the place of God. Idolatry is about worship, about loving something so much that you feel you have to have it. Often what we love most is ourselves, our control. Or, we may fall in love with something the Creator made. We make His good gifts objects of worship, we make them our foundation, our security, our identity, and our comfort. So if we are honest, we are all idolaters. We take gifts like friends, food, and family and trust in them, expecting them to fill the emptiness in us, to never let us down, to be what only God can be. These idols are stones over our hearts that keep us from our heart of flesh. Jesus, the Stonecutter, is in process of chipping those stones away so we can experience real life. Anne, of of our regular bloggers wrote: We began our study on idolatry with a picture of a heart of stone with a small part chipped away revealing a heart of flesh underneath. That heart was mine and I so wanted the one underneath. We learned that idolatry hardens hearts. I set out eagerly on this journey and while it has been far from easy, I have reaped great blessing. I’m going to ask the bloggers who have been doing this study to help in the review, though newcomers are free to comment. Everyone should do the second part of the lesson. The way the study works is that you can go at the pace that works best for you. Some of our participants do the whole study at once, others a question at a time. We also pray for each other when important needs come up. Because this blog has women from many different denominations, we may have different viewpoints on peripheral issues, and even at times the core issues. But when we disagree, we express our thoughts in love, and we listen respectfully to one another. God is using believers from all kinds of Bible-believing denominations throughout the world, showing us the richness of the body of Christ. We can definitely learn from one another. In the last post, for example, election came up, because it was part of the passage we studied, and some may want to continue to talk about that from various viewpoints. One of the beautiful things about an internet study is that we can use the internet for resources — and often members will suggest a You-tube song or other resource. I usually suggest a sermon to listen to as well – a good review and free sermon would be this one by Tim Keller called “Removing the Idols of the Heart.” Just click here and listen when you can. http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/removing-idols-heart Finally, each week I want you to meet one of our regular bloggers, someone who has been with us for several months. This week you will be meeting Rebecca. Rebecca has many wonderful insights because she is so seeking God, but she is also a great encourager. One time she wrote: Every time someone here writes about their marriage, their life with their children, their struggles, I can totally relate..totally..I have to say I have NEVER been in a bible study like this with women this honest about their lives and their struggles and in giving testimony of God’s great working in their hearts. It IS so beautiful. 🙂 You’ll meet Rebecca in Part III and also have a chance to bless her. So – here we go. Again, WELCOME! PART I. REVIEW In the opening lesson we differentiated between surface sins and deep idols. For example, you might have a problem with a bad temper or anxiety, but the deep idol is CONTROL/POWER. Or, you might have a problem with overspending, overeating, or oversleeping, but the deep idol could be COMFORT/SECURITY. The usual solution is to attack the surface sin – perhaps a better budget, a better diet, or a better alarm clock – but because you have not addressed the deep idol of COMFORT/SECURITY, and allowed God to be your comfort, your security, that idol will cry out when restricted and win. The three most common deep idols are A. CONTROL/POWER B. COMFORT/SECURITY C. APPROVAL/AFFIRMATION 1. Please give an example of a surface sin in your life and the deep idol from which it springs. Explain how understanding this has helped you. 2. During the forty days before Easter, we practiced different habits of discipline to say no to an idol and yes to God. Share an example of something you did and how it helped you. PART II. SIN IS BREAKING GOD’S HEART The path we are turning to now is the picture the Lord gives again and again of Himself as a broken-hearted Bridegroom and us as His Bride. He wants us to see that when you choose your idol, you are not just breaking a rule, you are breaking His heart. He longs for intimacy with us — but we push Him away. This drawing by Martin French is of Hosea, the broken-hearted bridegroom who, indeed, is a Christ-figure. (Hosea means Savior.) God told the prophet Hosea to marry Gomer, an unfaithful woman, to be a living testimony to Israel of how they were breaking His heart. Gomer has left him shortly after the wedding. 3. Read Hosea 2:5. Why did she leave Hosea? What was her thinking? Later, we read: “She went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord.” (Hosea 2:13) Hosea, as well as the prophet Jeremiah, where we will camp out for a few weeks, uses an intimate sexual metaphor. Does it shock you that God would use a sexual metaphor to help us understand our relationship with Him? When I facilitated a Bible study with a small group of women on live Moody Radio, I brought up how the sexual fidelity that Hosea longed to see in Gomer was a picture of the fidelity He longs for from us. Much to my surprise a young Australian group member cried out: “Oh Dee – don’t mix God and sex!” I was able to respond that I would never dare to use a sexual metaphor to refer to our relationship with God, except that He does it repeatedly. He does it from Genesis to Revelation, but particularly the poets, the prophets, and Paul keep using this vivid sexual picture to illuminate several key truths about our relationship with God. One of my favorite quotes is from Derek Kidner, an esteemed Bible scholar: It is a bold and creative stroke by which God, instead of banning sexual imagery from religion, rescues and raises it to portray the ardent love and fidelity which are the essence of His covenant. Derek Kidner But please remember this is a metaphor. For example, when Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said He wished He could gather her under His wings, we must not press the metaphor to ridiculous lengths, but to grasp His heart for His unresponsive people. Basic hermeneutics (the art of interpreting Scripture) will tell you to interpret prose according to prose (you can press every word) and poetry according to poetry (look for the central meaning). 4. What is the purpose of a metaphor in Scripture? 5. In Hosea, God explains why he is asking Hosea to make his life a painful living metaphor. Find it in Hosea 3:1. Camp out here for a while and reflect. What phrases stand out to you? How does this speak to you in your life? MEMORIZE THIS VERSE. Continue to share your thoughts on it. In this new path you will find that Scripture uses the sexual metaphor both positively and negatively. When Scripture uses the sexual metaphor – and I feel a foolish even saying this, but know I must because of the e-mails and letters I have received, it certainly doesn’t mean we are engaging in a sexual act with God, like some ancient and modern cults say, but that as we increase in our love, trust, and intimacy with the Almighty, as we willingly put ourselves in His arms, that our lives will have a fruitfulness that can only come when we fully yield to the Spirit of God. Conversely, when we run to our idols, we are “getting into bed with another lover,” breaking His heart, and grieving Him, pushing Him away. Just as infidelity can grievously wound a marriage, so sin grievously wounds our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit is a Person who can be wounded, grieved, and will withdraw. As Philip Yancey writes: The prophets proclaim loud and clear how God feels: he loves us. Of the ancient gods, Israel’s God alone stooped to admit love for the flawed, two-legged creatures who roam this planet. God’s cries of pain and anger are the cries of a wounded lover, distressed over our lack of response. Metaphors can reach into our heart to help us understand the heart of God. 6. How does this metaphor of marital intimacy help you understand the heart of God? 7. Read Jeremiah 2:1-2. A. How does God describe Israel, His Bride, when she was young, and He had just rescued her out of the slavery of Egypt? (verse 2) B. This is a positive intimate image, a picture of a bride so in love that she will follow her husband anywhere – a “whither thou goest, I will go” bride, who is content as long as she is with him. Were you ever a bride like this to an earthly husband? If so, share how you felt. C. Can you remember how you were when you first came into a relationship with the Lord? Did you experience euphoria, first love joy, a honeymoon time? This is how God remembers Israel in the beginning of her pilgrimage, when He first rescued her, when the Red Sea closed over her enemies, she took up her tambourine and danced, ready to follow this wonderful God anywhere. Derek Kidner writes: There is a freshness of spring in the Lord’s first words to Israel, recapturing the ardour of young love – that readiness of the beloved to go anywhere, put up with anything, so long as it could be shared with her partner, and on his side the fierce protectiveness that would brook no rival, no assault to her honor. And yes, He did protect her, a knight wielding his sword for the honor and protection of his princess. 8. How did the Lord defend her according to Jeremiah 2:3? So why did she turn from Him? Why did she run into the arms of other lovers? If we understand this, we may gain insight into our own fickle souls. That’s where we are headed next week! 9. Did you listen to the message by Tim Keller? What stood out to you? 10. What is your take-a-way this week? PART III. MEETING OUR BLOGGERS MEET REBECCA! Rebecca has been one of our most faithful bloggers, cheering everyone on, contemplating the Word, and sometimes singing for us. She is from the Kansas City area. ABOUT ME: My name is Rebecca and I have a been blessed with a wonderful husband , four wild and rambunctious boys and a beautiful step daughter who is married to a wonderful doctor soon to be doing his Fellowship. My husband is a godly man and works hard to provide. I am richly blessed to have a husband like him. I came to know Jesus in 1988. My oldest brother Jim was the one God used to bring me to Him. The passion God has given me is in growing closer in intimacy with Jesus and making Him known in every sphere of my life. My ministry is with everyone God brings in my life. God has given me varying platforms over the years such as being a mom, singing at church, facilitating Bible studies, one on one discipleship, mentoring other women, teaching children, and at the workplace. ABOUT THIS STUDY: God’s people struggled with idolatry in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament we see believers warned not to have idols. I didn’t think I had an idol problem until Jesus brought me to Dee’s idol study. His light exposed the truth about the grip a couple of idols had on my heart. I found the answer to the cause of my depression and my issue with over eating. This study gave me the tools to see the signs when I am starting to move toward my idols and also exhorted me to go to Him-His word -so that He could peel back the layers of lies and replace them with truth. As a result I have become more intimate with Jesus and He has given me opportunities to spread His fragrance around. BLESSING REBECCA! 11. IF YOU’D LIKE TO TELL REBECCA SOMETHING THAT SHE SAID THAT IMPACTED YOU, OR SOMETHING THAT SHE IS THAT ENCOURAGES YOU — HERE’S YOUR CHANCE!
 Derek Kidner, The Message of Hosea, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, 1981, p. 33.  Philip Yancey, The Bible Jesus Read, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mi. 1999) p. 179.  Derek Kidner, The Message of Jeremiah, (Intervarsity Academic, Downer’s Grove, Il, 1987) p. 30.