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CONFIDENT AND UNASHAMED AT HIS COMING

THERE ARE RICH PARALLELS BETWEEN WEDDINGS IN BIBLICAL DAYS

AND THAT GREAT DAY WHEN CHRIST COMES FOR US

 

THE FATHERS WOULD BARGAIN OVER THE BRIDE PRICE


FROM "THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW" COURTESY OF FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

 

THEN A BETROTHAL TOOK PLACE, A PERMANENT COMMITMENT

BEFORE THE SON WOULD GO AWAY TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR HIS BRIDE

 

FROM "THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW" COURTESY OF FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

 

 

ADDING A ROOM TO HIS FATHER’S HOUSE

WHEN THE FATHER SAID ALL WAS READY

 

FROM "THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW" COURTESY OF FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

 

 

THE SON WOULD COME IN A GLAD PROCESSIONAL

AND A SHOFAR HORN WOULD BLOW

AND HIS BRIDE WOULD KNOW

MY BRIDEGROOM IS RETURNING FOR ME

 

FROM "THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW" COURTESY OF FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

 

 

EVERY BRIDE WANTS TO BE BEAUTIFUL

FOR HER BRIDEGROOM

TO DELIGHT HIM

TO BE CONFIDENT AND UNASHAMED ON THAT GREAT DAY

 

Dee’s Mother

 


IT IS HARD FOR US TO IMAGINE

HOW WE COULD EVER BE CONFIDENT AND UNASHAMED

WHEN OUR HEAVENLY BRIDEGROOM RETURNS

YET 1 JOHN 2:26 HOLDS OUT EXACTLY THAT HOPE

 

THE WEDDING GARMENT IS SYMBOLIC

OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WE ARE GIVEN

WHEN CHRIST BETROTHS US

IN A PARABLE JESUS TOLD, THE GUEST

WHO TRIED TO COME TO THE BANQUET

WITHOUT A WEDDING GARMENT

WAS CAST INTO OUTER DARKNESS

 

WE CAN BE SO THANKFUL CHRIST PAID OUR BRIDE PRICE

AND COVERED US WITH HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS

FINE LINEN WHITE AND CLEAN

 

FOR THOUGH OUR SINS ARE AS SCARLET

THEY WILL BE AS WHITE AS SNOW

AND WHEN WE  CONFESS OUR SINS

HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE US

AND TO CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS

 

WE KNOW HE IS PREPARING A PLACE

WE KNOW HE WILL RETURN

HE SAID, “IF IT WERE NOT TRUE, I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU.”

ONE DAY A TRUMPET WILL SOUND…



JOHN TELLS US HOW TO BE READY

HOW TO BE CONFIDENT AND UNASHAMED

AT HIS COMING

 

In my studyguide on 1 John, “A Woman of Beauty,” I show how this amazing letter is like a great orchestral symphony, tying together three related themes of truth, light, and love. These themes, as in a musical piece, ebb and flow into one another, strengthening one another, building, creating a masterpiece. You also cannot separate them. If you truly believe Christ is who He says He is, if you truly know Him, then you will walk in the light, then you will love your brother — because His seed is in you, and that is how He is.  Reflecting on these three themes will also help you grow into a beautiful bride who is confident and unashamed at His coming.

Yet our tendency is to forget the wonder of our Bridegroom, as Jeremiah said:

Does a maiden forget her jewelry,

a bride her wedding ornaments?

Yet my people have forgotten me,

days without number.

Jeremiah 2:32

 

John urges us to “continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) How do we “continue in him?”

We continue in His truth by staying in the Word, allowing it to penetrate our hearts. This last week you gave me good input and I long to be helpful to you. Lord willing, I will post weekly, and I think you would be wise to do a little each day. (I’ll give suggested days, but you must determine what is best for you.) David has shaded my comments, but at this time, he cannot shade all of the latest comments so I suggest if you want everyone to see your comment, to put it at the end. I’ve shortened the lessons as many of you are in other studies.

We continue in His light by turning from the darkness as soon as we see it and, in faith, turn to the light. Elizabeth provided a wonderful model for us last week and I will review that in this lesson and ask you to incorporate it into your own life.

We continue in His love by practicing His presence, not forgetting Him, but allowing Him to guide us in each interaction and to open our eyes to our brothers in need. Truth and light culminate in love and the “new commandment” which Jesus pronounced at the last supper when time was running out. Important things are said when time is running out. I know that. I was at the death beds of my father, husband, and mother — and important things were said. Time is running out for John — and he is also remembering what Jesus said when time was running out for Him. This lesson is important. Go slowly, breathe it in, and put it into practice.


SUNDAY/MONDAY (Read the opening, do the ice-breaker, the review, and get the sermon or sermons downloaded on your Ipod or computer so you are ready to listen when a time is good. This week the best fit is:

Loving and Growing Part I by Tim Keller: Link

A free sermon that is related more to our last week’s study, but is excellent is: Link

ICEBREAKER:

As you reflect on the opening pictures on this post, what parallels can you see between weddings in Jesus day and that great day when He returns?


What comments do you have on the opening and why?


Review

1. What are the three great orchestral themes of 1 John?

 

2. CHALLENGE QUESTION: See if you can find all three of them in 1 John 2:7-11. How do you see them related?

3. DON’T FORGET:

A. The truth of Who Jesus is. Find truths about Him in 1 John 1:1-4

B. The light we are called to and why. Describe God and our responsibility in 1 John 1:5 through 1 John 2:2.

C. The love we must walk in and why. Summarize 1 John 2:3-11.

 

BIBLE STUDY AND APPLICATION (TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY)


4. Read 1 John 2:12-14 and find the three groups of people John addresses that show three stages of growth in the Christian life. List them.

It should give you confidence that if Christ is in you, that you will continue to grow. When a child is born, he or she is an eternal life. Nothing can change that. Likewise, a seed that has been planted will grow. You may not be able to see it when it is beginning, but it is growing.  He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. Your responsibility is what Larry Crabb calls  “dependent responsibility.” Turn from the darkness and to the light. Read carefully what Elizabeth wrote last week in her take-a-way:

I love what Dee said-“We do have a responsibility to hear well — and that means repentance and faith — I see the repentance as turning from the darkness and the faith as turning toward the light.”

I asked myself what does that look like in my life right now? Repent of the criticism, bitterness, un-forgiveness I feel towards others. And the faith part—trust my newly exposed heart in His care. When I let down my guard, I’m more vulnerable—trust Him in faith—seek Him, rest in Him.

I’ve been thinking about what a heart of flesh looks like—the soft, tender, play-dough-ness of it.
In his sermon on Ezekial 36, Spurgeon says hearts of flesh “repent even at the very thought of sin” , he also says, “The heart of flesh says—‘Thou know’st I love thee, dearest Lord, But oh! I long to soar Far from this world of sin and woe, And learn to love thee more’

I think, a fleshy heart is teachable, tender to God’s leading, sits shiva with those who hurt. A fleshy heart repents, and a fleshy heart gives grace because it is so aware of the immense grace it has received. A fleshy heart sees God’s gifts poured out around us and is thankful.

I think on these things and I’m reminded of the parts of my heart that are still stone. I am still quick to hold a grudge with certain people, to want to make them pay for an offense, instead of taking it on myself. I am still quick to anger and criticism. And so back to repentance. Letting Him chisel hurts at first—I so often cling to my self-righteousness. But, Schaeffer said, we are called to love even when it costs us something, for me, it is usually my pride. But He is FAITHFUL. I’ve seen Him work patiently in me–my heart towards my mom has changed so much, I have even found myself missing my her since she went back home!

I remind myself this Truth: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

5. Now — and this is the most important part of this study, I want you to be still before God and ask Him what turning from the darkness in repentance and toward the light in faith looks like in your life. You may want to think about this in terms of an idol or a particular relationship. But make a plan and ask God to help you live into it all week. What is it?

 

6. There are three things that John urges believers to remember, to “not forget!” Keller gives us the alliteration of  POSITION, POWER, AND PERSON.

A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you.

 

B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b (b means the second part of the verse) and comment on how you have experienced this power.

 

C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week.

 

7. Important things are always repeated, which John does in 1 John 2:13c through 14. Find the Position, Power, and Person again.

 

THE SERMON (Thursday, Friday)

8. in Keller’s message Loving and Growing Part I, what did you learn about:

A. How we can know our sins are forgiven?

B. How children are, and how Jesus responded to the disciples when they were like children in the storm:

C. Keller gives insight on what John means when he tells young men that “the word of God” lives in them so they have the power to overcome sin. What does Keller say “the Word of God” means and on what basis does he say that?

D. What else stood out to you from this sermon and why?

E. How might you remember these things, value these things, so that you can become a beautiful bride?

 

9. If you listened to the free sermon, what stood out to you from that and why?

 

TAKE-AWAY (SATURDAY)

10. Look back at your answer to question 5. How are you doing?

 

11. WHAT DID GOD IMPRESS UPON YOUR HEART THIS WEEK AND WHY?

 

COMING UP!

NEXT WEEK WE WILL GET TO KNOW OUR BLOGGER TERRI!

IN NOVEMBER, WE’LL BE DISCUSSING A MOVIE! WISH WE COULD ALL GATHER AND WATCH TOGETHER, BUT WE CAN WATCH SEPARATELY AND DISCUSS TOGETHER!

My daughter and I watched what I think may be the best movie I’ve seen in years!

The Tree of Life

 

It so relates to the study we did on The God of All Comfort and to our current study of The Stonecutter. I want to assign it to you and have us discuss it mid-November. It will be out on Redbox and Netflix by November 8th inexpensively. When I speak on the close of Job, I do visuals — but oh! I have never seen the end of Job done so well. And the whole story is captivating and will lead to such rich discussion. The father in the story has a deep idol of power, and there is so much of value  to ponder and discuss. Sally and I had a rich discussion, and I know we will too — because you are wonderful women who bring so much to the table.

So plan to rent it come November — and watch it sooner if you like!

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312 comments

  1. A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you. My sins are fogiven on the account of Christ.

    B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b (b means the second part of the verse) and comment on how you have experienced this power. I belive that my purity in the last 3 weeks has been overcoming the evil one.

    C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week. I believe these last three days, with the sermon from my pastor and then making myself have a little but of a quiet time yesterday and a good one today, these past few days all i have felt like doing is crying.. not a sad crying but a lamentish kind of crying. JUst tonight, I was upset becasue i got a call stating that i wasnt needed for babysitting in the morning meaning that i am not going to see my friend before she leaves for a few days. I started bawling.. But then i said Lord I dont feel like feeling like this I dont want to be clinging to other people please help me and I stopped crying!

    1. Great speaking to your soul, Meg!

  2. 7. Important things are always repeated, which John does in 1 John 2:13c through 14. Find the Position, Power, and Person again.

    I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one. (Position)

    14 I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father. (Power)

    I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning. (Person)

  3. 3. DON’T FORGET

    A. The truth of who Jesus is. Find truths about Him in 1 John 1:1-4.

    Jesus is God. He was from the beginning. He is the Word of life. He is the Eternal life. Jesus was with the Father, and He appeared to men. We can have fellowship with Him.

    B. The light we are called to and why. Describe God and our responsibility in 1 John 1:5 through 1 John 2:2.

    God is light, in Him there is no darkness. God dwells in light. God is a faithful and just God, forgiving our sins when we repent, purifying us from unrighteousness.
    Jesus speaks to the Father in our defense; He is the Righteous One. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Our responsibility is to walk in the light as He is in the light. We are responsible to be honest and confess our sins, coming to Him for forgiveness.

    C. The love we must walk in and why. Summarize 1 John 2:3-11.

    When I got to this question, I thought back to what Francis Schaeffer said about how a true Christian can violate the command of Jesus to love, and not bear the mark.
    But John clearly states that not doing what Jesus commands and claiming to know Him are antithetical. God’s love is only made complete in us as we obey Him.

    We must walk in love in order to walk in the light, and in fellowship with God. Slipping into hatred means we give up the light and break fellowship with God.

  4. 4. Read 1 John 2:12-14 and find the three groups of people that John addresses that show three stages of growth in the Christian life. List them.

    Children
    Young Men
    Fathers

    This shed some light for me on this passage – I never “got it” that John was addressing believers in the stage they are in in their growth! I always thought of this passage as a kind of strange interlude!

  5. 6. There are three things that John urges believers to remember, to “not forget!” Keller gives us the alliteration of POSITION, POWER, AND PERSON.

    A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you.

    I was thinking ‘because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name’ is a pretty big statement. Because Jesus died for my sins, I identify with Him now in his death, buriel and resurrection and I also share in the victory on the cross. So, sin no longer has to ‘rule’ over me.

    B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b (b means the second part of the verse) and comment on how you have experienced this power.

    I am thinking this is the stage of growth where we have ingested scripture for a period of time and have grown in wisdom and God strengthens us against Satan’s attacks. He is the word and the word is powerful, sharper than any two edged sword and we are able to use His word as a weapon against Satan’s lies.

    Well, I was thinking in regard to this approval idol. Whenever Satan attacks, which he tends to increase his attacks as God is pulling the thickest parts of the weeds out, I smack him over the head with truth. The lies enter my head and I start speaking the truth to my soul. Such as-I made a HUGE mistake at work-totally overlooked something. I knew the right thing to do was to bring it to my boss’ attention and show her. I did. Told her I was sorry and will never do it again. She was disappointed..I was SO TEMPTED, SO TEMPTED to beat myself up and worry. I was leaving and she said, “Rebecca, now don’t beat yourself up over this mistake, just don’t do it again.” Yikes! I immediately thought, thank you Lord she is being gracious, but what fragrance am I leaving? She thinks I am too hard on myself. Maybe I am? hmmmm…So, as I was driving Satan was attacking BIG TIME. All kinds of thoughts-loser, you can’t even do this job, now your boss doesn’t like you…SO..I applied the Gospel to the lies. God loves me SO much that He chose me before I was born and He went to the cross so that I could wear His righteous robes-not on my merit at all-not based on my performance. He approves of me 110% without me having to work for it-I am righteous without works- and my identity is in Jesus Christ alone, not in my job, my performace, what others think of me and it doesn’t depend on whether or not I make mistakes. I am not going to allow Satan to even start making me worry about what my boss thinks of me being hard on myself either. That is God’s job to work out in me and I trust He will. God tells me to not be anxious about ANYTHING. He means what He says and He doesn’t want me to worry because He wants me to trust Him to care for me in everything-to work out these things in my heart to His pleasure-not my boss’ pleasure.

    C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week.

    I experienced it with God as I was rubbing my son’s feet the other night-it was His power in me to stop and engage with my son and love him.

    I think it is also weaved in and out throughout the day-since I work with unbelievers, I am around stuff all day which is good for me-sometimes gossip, just being around unregenerate people-yet what is sweet is God reminds me throughout the day I am nothing without His sacrifice for me and He makes it easier to love them and not judge them for the things they say and do, for where would I be without Christ? Yet, when my eyes aren’t on him and I forget, is when their behavior can bother me, and Satan’s lies slip in, but this past week I have been reminding myself all throughout the day of the truth. God has been speaking to me a lot-from Scripture. I have lots of opportunities to pray as I work, and talk with God, sing to myself-to keep my eyes on him, and just love the ladies there. It is a river-i forgot the references used as far as experiencing intimacy with God-it isn’t title waves every day, but like a flowing river more so. I do think when my approval idol was really at work three weeks ago was when I forgot and really struggled at work with my thought life.

  6. (Dee, I wanted to say I like how you divide up the days for the week. It really helps this busy mom-and is divided in such a way as I can meditate on it daily.)

    7. Important things are always repeated, which John does in 1 John 2:13c through 14. Find the Position, Power, and Person again.

    Position-Because of Jesus’ death buriel and resurrection, we can know Him.-wow- this time he adds for the children that they know the father. Because their sins are forgiven-they know God. Since the Fathers also ‘know God’ I am thinking it is a deeper intimacy than the child. hmmm…

    Power-This stage of growth-young men are strong because of the word of God living in them and they have overcome the evil one.

    person-This is the one, The Father, who has practiced what the young men have for a longer time perhaps and because they have been in practice of overcoming the evil one, they are really, really closer and intimate with God.

    I think I get the flow now! WOW! This totally makes sense in regard to the stages in our life of intimacy with God, BUT there is the dependant responsibility here as well in order to experience the intimacy that Father’s experience! repent and turn to the light-use His word to combat the lies from Satan as we ‘practice’ this we grow closer and closer to Him in intimacy..I am SO ENCOURAGED THIS MORNING to press on!

    1. Me too! Sure, I would love to be your accountability partner in this. This is a weak area for me.

      I too want to care about what God cares about. I have noticed the last few times you have prayed on this blog, it has been different-I can tell you are focusing on this- It was a great model for me too. When I prayed for Anne’s son, I used your prayer as a model.

      I think I am going to get Yancey’s book on prayer on my Nook and read it. What you have shared is SO rich.

    2. I just ordered Yancy’s book (after reading this)–he’s one of my husband’s favorite authors, but we don’t have this one–looks great! Prayer has really been on my heart lately–I think really since you had us listen to Nancy Guthrie. I felt like I needed to look at the motivation/heart behind my prayers–thank you for this book recommendation.

      And I will pray for you and with you Dee–I love this, and so agree “asking continually in faith for Him to search my heart and to care about what He cares about”.

    3. I love this and am praying for you!! I may have to read that book too! I loved A Praying Life By Paul Miller. So good too.

  7. I wanted to sincerely encourage you Dee, but I didn’t want to write a book-oops. 🙂

    My husband told me the other day when they found that thing in my chest that even though I was scared for a day, he said the way I handled it was totally different-more so how I was processing through it. He said he has seen so much growth in me this past year since I have been doing your studies. I guess I don’t see my ‘growth’-more so I see how I am like a 5 year old still and have a long way to go-But what I have experienced is a greater intimacy with God, yet I am by far not at the Father stage yet.

    I haven’t yet encountered a female author who has written Bible studies that have had as much of an impact on me as God has through you.

    I did a study on depression-getting out of the pit-great study, great author, great truths, but no impact in my life. I came away believing and beheld the truths but there was a block there. Later, through your study I found out I had an idol problem and layers of lies that had taken me out of intimacy with God. So, how could I apply the truth that he loves me to my depression when the intimacy I was engaged in was with my comfort idol, and I was believing lies? I was out of fellowship with God-hated it, and didn’t realize what was blocking it, yet I longed to be back in intimacy with Him-it was a really hard place to be in.

    I will stop here and say that God is on the move through you Dee in a powerful way in the lives of all of us women here on your blog. As Steve said, you are truly flying. Thank you for the time you spend on preparation for you books and for us here on this blog. You are a such gift to us!

      1. Dee,
        Everything Rebecca said about you is true – God is using you in a very great way and I think we can see the way you have grown and changed since you begain these internet studies – has it been almost two years now come January 2010?! The Spirit is definitely moving in you and through this study you are writing on idolatry. I want to also thank you for the time it takes you – I often don’t think about the preparation you must do to put together our studies, and then to keep up and read all of our comments! So thank you and I hope you have a blessed day!

        1. Oops – I meant 2012!

    1. Rebecca–this made me smile. The other day I was convicted to apologize (again) for how I correct so much of what my husband does around the house, and he said “you really haven’t done that in a while”, and with a smile added, “that was pre-Dee”! Knowing of course, it is Christ who removes the stone, but so thankful for how He has equipped Dee and brought her into my life. I agree with you, I used to say Gospel Transformation was my favorite study, and it’s good, but nothing has brought the Gospel to life in my heart like Dee’s teaching–so personal, so real. And meeting friends like you on the journey–is almost too much to take in 🙂

      1. Elizabeth, I so agree-you too!! The sisterhood on this blog is so wonderful. Again, a well He is blessing us with. 🙂

    2. Rebecca,
      I really like how you piece all of this together, and how you see that after doing the other study on depression, and learning the truths that could help you, you could not apply them because “when the intimacy I was engaged in was with my comfort idol, and I was believing lies.” This is so powerful, and so helpful for all of us, for me. I can think back to Bible studies I’ve done, in particular the ones about being a wife/marriage, and even after learning all the truth, being unable to bring about any change in myself or in my role as a wife. Thanks for helping me turn on the lightbulb! Yes, it is definitely the idols that are in the way, as we are seeing here.

      1. Susan, Yes! 🙂 I don’t want to sound critical or unreasonable, but some studies I have done go like this-here is the problem, here is the verse, apply the verse to the problem and you will have victory over it-we must remember we were made to have victory! The process of discovery and intimacy with God is missed. We were made to be closely intimate with God-and this process we are learning in the Stonecutter is crucial. I could be totally wrong and I am open to being corrected-but could it be that in our culture we are turning more toward motivational type Bible Studies? Not sure.

        Anyway, I have to tell you something funny-when I was single-oh about 17 or so years ago, I read a book called “Yes” by Kiemel-I LOVED that book back then, but the author was single at the time she wrote it. It was a lot about being single from what I recall. I remember my room mate and I walked around the house saying ‘had a bad day? Say YES TO GOD!!”.. “Single? don’t fret, Say ‘YES God’!” 😉

  8. I had extra time and went ahead with the sermon! And sorry, I did try to edit my thoughts, but it’s still a bit lengthy ;0

    Keller’s message Loving and Growing Part I, what did you learn about:
    A. How we can know our sins are forgiven?

    Our sins are forgiven on the account of Christ. We draw on the value of His account—so we have guaranteed forgiveness, not just access to it. Repentance receives forgiveness, but does not earn it. There is not a level of “sorry-ness” we need to grasp—we cannot earn our forgiveness by being “more sorry”. It is granted on the basis of Christ alone, not me. To be uncertain of our forgiveness is sin, because we are devaluing the payment of Christ.
    Applying this truth to my #5 relationship, when I feel discouraged as a mom, I want to remind myself my position in Christ. I am forgiven, my children are forgiven– there is enough grace to cover my mistakes. And enough grace to share.

    B. How children are, and how Jesus responded to the disciples when they were like children in the storm:

    Children tend to worry, get anxious over things, and have little faith. I was also thinking how naturally self-centered children are. They don’t think “oh, I don’t want to wake you…” they are just concerned with their need!

    I loved the example of the storm—Jesus has fallen asleep and the great storm hits. They wake him up terribly afraid, and He first responds to them “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”; and then calms the storm.

    Again applying to my #5, Sometimes I get like the disciplines in the boat and just break– “please, Jesus, do something—this is too much for me to handle! I can’t do it” I forget that He is in that boat too, and knows all, sees all. He understands my limited childlike perspective. I am reminded of His words ‘let the little children come to me’. He does not judge when my faith wavers. He reminds me the Truth of Who He is, and His power to calm my storm.

    C. Keller gives insight on what John means when he tells young men that “the word of God” lives in them so they have the power to overcome sin. What does Keller say “the Word of God” means and on what basis does he say that?

    The Word of God is the Holy Spirit. Keller uses parallel scriptures to prove this. Ephesians 5:18-be filled with the Spirit, Colosians 3:16-filled with the Word of God—both cause the same effect in us. He also cites John 3 & 1 Peter 1-talking of the imperishable seed.
    The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth—we are partakers of the Divine nature. God’s very nature, His spiritual DNA is implanted in my soul. When we say “ I just can’t change”, we are forgetting that we have the Holy Spirit’s POWER within us.

    D. What else stood out to you from this sermon and why?
    What stood out to me, is really just how much I need to remember these truths.

    God has been telling me this over and over since first reading God of All Comfort—I need to remember—remember His faithfulness in the past, remember He is Who He says He is. He is Faithful, Just, Loving. Keller said, when we are discouraged, we have forgotten basic truths. I tend to be someone who wants to learn something, check it off my list and not have to re-visit it. But God’s Truth is different. My sin nature is prone to forget it—so I must remind myself. And it has to be a daily thing. Like the manna and the Israelites—I need to go daily to the Source for my food. But that is also the beautiful part—the way we experience intimacy.

    Another key point to remember is that Christianity has stages–if I stay in His Word, I am always growing in Him. Reminds me of those t-shirts ‘be patient-God isn’t finished with me yet!’

    Also, the personal communion we have with God. We have access to personal knowledge of GOD—that is amazing. And that we are known and fully loved. I think honestly, that is my greatest desire—to be fully known, and fully accepted—and by Christ, I am. He understands, He doesn’t judge me, but He is with me and strengthens me. I have felt Jesus say to me, ‘I know this is hard for you, and I knew it would be a challenge. But I am with you, and I know what I am doing.’ Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

    1. With Keller’s sermons it’s impossible not to be lengthy!

  9. I just finished listening to Keller’s sermon from last week, “Born Into Hope”. By the middle to end of it, I saw how this so closely parallels our study on idolatry. Keller asks, “What is your living hope?” The examples he gave from Viktor Frankl, the Jewish psychoanalyst interred in Auschwitz, who observed four types of prisoners who responded to their suffering, helped me to understand the things I often make my living hope, even though I wouldn’t SAY they were my living hope.
    One group of prisoners became brutal, cruel, hard. When my living hope (idol) is threatened, I can say very cruel, critical, harsh things. My thoughts toward the person can be brutal, mean.
    One group just gave up all hope. When my living hope is in things that are going unfulfilled in this world, I have days where I give in to despair, sorrow, hopelessness.
    One group hoped for the day when their hopes would be restored. I find myself longing for times past when things were pleasant, or longing for the day when things will be better. These prisoners were hoping to have their health, family, professional success, and wealth restored to them, but after their liberation and what they had hoped for was so different and did not compensate for their suffering, many became depressed or killed themselves.

    Only one group found a hope that suffering and even death could not destroy.

    Keller said Frankl was essentially saying, Do you know what really is the foundation of your personality? It’s what you are living for, your hope. And if these things are not a living hope, then when you lose them or can’t attain them anymore, you’ll become brutal, or hopeless, or cynical and disillusioned.

    One of my “silly” hopes is to have a perfect home. I look at the magazines like Better Homes and Gardens and think if I could only have this perfectly put-together, color-coordinated home and have it be immaculate like in these pictures, then I’ll have what I want. The reality of my less than perfect home often makes me get harsh and critical of the “mess-makers”, or feeling hopeless about it, or like my life just can’t be right until it’s like the picture in the magazine. I’m looking to this idea to make me happy instead of to God. This is how I saw this sermon as being not just about dealing with suffering, but recognizing those idols in my life that have become my false living hopes.

    The end was the kicker for me: what is it that melts our hearts (makes them like playdough)? Reflecting on how I was Jesus’ living hope, His joy; and that is what makes Him my Living Hope. “Because the living hope is not mansions in glory, it is your Shepherd, your Brother, your Prince, your King, (my Bridegroom), at the end of time, arms open, ready to treasure you, ready to change you forever.” “The approval you really want that you’re sucking out of everybody else…is in His heart, and it’s going to come down on you and finally you’ll have what you were built for. Finally.”

    The things I look to for comfort/security, approval/affirmation, power/control are not what I was built for. They are not living hopes.

    By the way, I got the piano yesterday. I called my mom after the delivery, and here she had been crying since it left her house. Not over the object, but about all the memories associated with it. On holidays, especially when the grandchildren were small, we’d be in the living room and usually my older sister playing the piano and the kids dancing around the room. When I really looked at the piano, now in my house, I was crying, because there was just something about it being given to me that made me sad to think that I will have this piano but someday not my mom, or to be able to go home again to all those memories. It’s hard for me to see mom giving some of her things away, because I know why she is doing it.

  10. 4. Read 1 John 2:12-14 and find the three groups of people John addresses that show three stages of growth in the Christian life. List them.
    Little children: Their sins are forgiven for his sake. Fathers: Because they know God. Young people: Because they have overcome the evil one, the word of God is in them and they are strong.

    I may need correction here but for me this seems to tie in with the parable of the sower from last week. Dee, you state here that John is addressing three stages of growth in the christian life, correct? So children like a baby christian, need to be reminded that their sins are forgiven, they are saved even though they sin (I remember as a child going to the altar to make sure I was saved). Young men here represent the maturing christian since they are in the Word, strong and overcoming the evil one. Fathers represent those who know God intimately. They have fellowship with God. The father’s don’t just know God exists but know him. Their hearts are soft.
    Last week I felt frustrated at not understanding the parable of the seed but asking God to show me what it meant. I concluded to myself that ultimately Gods Word validates itself and other parts of the Word would reveal truth whether or not I understood the parable. If I am not reading into it too much it seems that this is tying into the parable. Am I making sense?

      1. Okay great, Dee. That is just what I thought. Last week I felt uncertain and afraid I might be believing wrong again. I knew God would help me clear it up if I was patient. I want to say that all those years I believed wrongly about my salvation wasn’t b/c I didn’t have scripture to back it up- I did but the scriptures were misunderstood. Now I am very cautious wanting to be sure. Last week when the parable could be interpreted two ways and say I might not have been saved as a child it thew me a curve ball. I am overly cautious. Even so, the Lord was good to help me and assure me that He will always bring me to truth as I trust Him. Thank you for the help.

  11. 5. Now — and this is the most important part of this study, I want you to be still before God and ask Him what turning from the darkness in repentance and toward the light in faith looks like in your life. You may want to think about this in terms of an idol or a particular relationship. But make a plan and ask God to help you live into it all week. What is it?

    Over the past four months, there has been a series of crises of strained relationships in my life; strains between me and others, and also between one loved one and another. All of these have had a major impact on me as friend, mother, daughter, sister, etc. I feel like one tidal wave after another has swept over me. In the past such strain has caused depression needing medication. However, God has been teaching me to rely on Him first, and trust Him, as well as not to depend on relationships as idols or to look to my comfort idol for help. As I am more and more fully secure in Christ, then the storms don’t shake me to my core, because I know in the deeper way that He is my Rock. Still, there are times when the fears, rejection and loss of security shake me deeply. I appreciate the support and concern I have received here and the spirit of honest seeking of the Lord is so precious.

    O righteous One, be my rock. Help me to keep my eyes on You and not the waves.

    1. Diane, I read this in my car before I came home from work..So good. God is really moving in your life, yet I want to give you a hug..This has to hurt coming from your brother-especially when you have a clear conscience. I don’t know if this will encourage you or not-It is PAINFUL what you are going through, yet it is also something that I know God will use to draw you closer to Him-there is hope sister, and we are here for you praying for you and have ears to listen and words to hopefully encourage you! 🙂

      1. Thanks, Rebecca. I appreciate your kind words, the verbal hug and your prayers. They do encourage me. This is a hard road, but it is drawing my closer to Him.

        1. Praying for you Diane!

        2. Thanks, Meg.

      1. Dee, I didn’t mean to say that depression medication is my comfort idol. Thanks for pointing out that it seemed that I was saying that. I was referring to my other comfort idols such as food or sleep. I have had a few different kinds of depression medication over the years, but have found that I am able to go off them after a while, and realize that even with meds, I still definitely need to deal with my issues and learn to lean on the Lord. Pray for me that I will have the wisdom to know if I need medication again. The last depression med left me feeling neither joy nor sadness – just nothing and that was depressing in itself. Life is complicated isn’t it, but I certainly didn’t mean to imply that depression medication wasn’t a useful tool. It is. I know many people need them. Sorry if I hurt anybody’s feelings by inadvertently implying that it was an idol. I struggled long and hard before asking for medication the first time I needed it and know this is a sensitive issue. I agree with you Dee, that it is like insulin for a diabetic. Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance. We don’t expect a diabetic to just “buck up” and not take medicine that they need. I couldn’t agree more, but I do realize that emotional depression is not well understood and many are embarrassed about taking medication for it.

        1. I am praying for you also Diane. And also just wanted to personally thank both of you for clarifying for anyone “out there” just reading along with us that we do not know. Recently in another study I am in, I nearly came out of my chair when someone did say they see medication as a crutch. I am on 4 prescriptions myself–for thyroid, blood sugar, cholesterol(bad genes!)…but I always tell my husband who takes ant-depressant and a mood stabilizer–his is no different. Our bodies are not perfect after the Fall, and I am grateful to God for providing the wisdom to doctors, and the discovery of medicine.
          Sorry–my soap box ;0

          Did want to quickly add–Diane–my husband has had to change medications over the years, it took a lot of trial and error to find the right match for him, we are all so intricately made! I will pray you and your doctor have wisdom about if to use medication and if so, which one.

          Sorry this got so long–and to eavesdrop–but I do appreciate this discussion.

  12. 4. Read 1 John 2:12-14 and find the three groups of people John addresses that show three stages of growth in the Christian life. List them. I am reading in the NLT right now so it breaks them up this way which I found interesting.
    1-God’s children
    2-mature in faith
    3-young in faith

    5. Now — and this is the most important part of this study, I want you to be still before God and ask Him what turning from the darkness in repentance and toward the light in faith looks like in your life. You may want to think about this in terms of an idol or a particular relationship. But make a plan and ask God to help you live into it all week. What is it? This is what it is looking like for me. This is what I have been living out in rooting out this approval idol – 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4. It has been so helpful to really remember and live. It is freely.

    6. There are three things that John urges believers to remember, to “not forget!” Keller gives us the alliteration of POSITION, POWER, AND PERSON.

    A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you. God’s child. Knowing securely He is our Daddy can be enough for us to rest securely.

    B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b (b means the second part of the verse) and comment on how you have experienced this power. Won battle with evil one. Though it is continual, each time my health fails I get an opportunity to rest even more securely in His grace and power. THough the enemy wants to use it to destroy, God lets me see Him even more intimately in it.

    C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week.Christ – I experience intimacy whenever I am in the word and my stomach and heart flip flops over something new He teaches me or shows Himself to me. Like as I have been studying deeply the book of James He is showing me more and more of His character and how I am to respond. I love these times! I am getting more of them because I have been having a LYme disease flare and am on antibiotics. This is causing me to slow down alot.

    7. Important things are always repeated, which John does in 1 John 2:13c through 14. Find the Position, Power, and Person again. He repeats God’s children, Christ, and the battle won again. Again this is all NLT. I do think I like ESV better.

  13. Elizabeth and Rebecca,

    How are you doing regarding your children this week? I know both of you asked for accountability in this area.

    Also I had a very hard day today.. did ALOT of crying.. If you think of me.. please pray thanks!

    1. oh Meg, I am praying for you right now–that your tears will draw you closer to the One who loves you so, He is at work in you, stay the course–you are fighting and persevering…one of my favorite verses comes to mind for you–Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who has promised is FAITHFUL! Hebrews 10:23

      And thank you so much for holding me accountable–it has only been 3 days, but I truly feel so much HOPE at what He is doing in my heart. My husband has been out of town and my daughter and I have had some great discussions, lots of hugs…I feel really good! Praise! The key I think for me is remembering God made her perfectly just as she is, different than me-yes, but I don’t need to think anymore the answer is to make her like me (as if that’s a good goal!)… He has her, He brought us together on purpose–for His glory, He knows what He’s doing and I am encouraged! (Sorry to go so long–but thank you for your prayers!)

      love and prayers to you Meg~

      1. Thank you Sweet Elizabeth! Every time i read something from your or anyone who has kids and say they cuddle with them or whatever.. I get jeolous cause i so long for that cause i never had that growing up i never got tucked into bed or anything.. so now i am sooo longing for it and its HARD!

        1. Meg, Last night I stumbled-Eli came out 1/2 hour late out of church. He lost track of time. I was in my socks in the van so I couldn’t go in and get him. I let Elijah know how displeased I was. After that we got home and I decided to go downstairs and spend time with him. Listening to him, talking with him-we listened to Unshackled together as it came on the radio. It ended well.

          The best part is I went to the Lord and paid attention to how I was praying-I am focusing while I pray on remembering what He really desires..I thanked God for revealing the darkness in me last night-and deep inside I knew I sinned in ‘how’ I handled it, although Eli needed to be taught-and God led me to repent and turn.

        2. Rebecca

          This never came through on my e-mail so i am just barely reading it on the blog! I am sorry you stumbled but i am glad that you were able to spend some time with him and then the Lord, I will keep praying for you sister!

        3. I love how God is changing us into His image. Unfortunately it is a painful process sometimes. The neat thing is that after we go through a learning experience as you did, we don’t fail as often in that area- we catch ourselves going in and turn before we fall completely. Praise Him for your progress!

        4. Rebecca–I just saw this post of your to Meg and wanted to encourage you. I know what it feels like to stumble, but as I read this–I am more taken by your love towards him, and I’m thinking he was too. This morning a friend reminded me “love covers a multitude of sins’ (1 Peter 4:8). The video Anne gave me–said we all are most open to influence, when we feel most accepted. I applied that to my situation, and your example is what I’m striving for–to allow our children to really feel accepted by us, as they are–and it is then that they are most open to His truth. So I am thankful you listened to Him tell you to go to Eli–your humble example to him of living out of your own grace.

        5. Ladies, Thanks so much for your encouragement! I am so grateful for sisters like you!!

    2. Meg, Thanks so much for asking! Although it hasn’t been long – I know it will be a process, but God is on the move. I will definitely keep you updated.

      I hate to hear you are hurting right now. I will pray for you on the way to go get my boys from church tonight. :-)Much love to you sister!

      1. meg, sorry this looks weird..I am in a hurry to leave to go get my boys from church and I didn’t want to sound hurried-but I am going to pray for you!

        1. Thank you sweet Rebecca 🙂

    3. Praying for you, Meg:)

  14. 6. There are three things that John urges believers to remember, to “not forget!” Keller gives us the alliteration of  POSITION, POWER, AND PERSON.

    A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you.

    Jesus atones from on high. He is in control.

    B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b (b means the second part of the verse) and comment on how you have experienced this power.

    The young people have overcome Satan. They are in a good position of power at that time.

    C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week.

    Well, he is talking about the fathers in the community at the time, I suppose. These men were true believers since the first time they encountered Jesus. Since I don’t have a father, I have to look to other older men who are upstanding in the community or church for this guidance. I suppose you could look to God the Father for help as well.

    There hasn’t been any “intimacy” that I am aware of this past week with any “fathers” that I know of. If you are talking about THE Father, I have prayed a lot for many people who surround me and are in great pain because of their life on earth. I have friends in very strained relationships, children who are making bad choices, and health issues.

    I’m not sure I am getting the point here, can anyone help?

  15. Sure, I think there were other idols involved, but my comfort idol was the strongest. I am trying not to write a book so I have wrote-erased-wrote erased. 🙂

    I was struggling with depression because I was out of fellowship with God, and my idol was comfort and control to a certain degree. Over indulging on food became my near sin. Carbs and sweets brought me instant comfort from the stress and pain. Food satisfied me more than God. I was at the point where I thought if I gave up overeating at night before bed, then what could satisfy me? I would rather die than give it up. I became intimate with food basically. When something bad would happen or I had a stressful day, I would just down sugar and have two portions for dinner-satisfaction for now. Soon the food portions increased as a little wasn’t enough to satisfy anymore-It grew into a monster basically eating me alive.

    I didn’t want to face the fact that I was choosing food over God and finding satisfaction in the arms of another rather than God and I certainly didn’t want to repent and turn to God because then that means I would have to give up control of this vice for easing pain in my life-then my heart would be ‘out there’ and I wasn’t sure God would take away the pain as fast so that means I would have to uncurl around it, and be vulnerable and in pain for a while. I was afraid to let go and trust God with my pain.

    I hit rock bottom, and my portions grew along with my weight and my depression deepened. I knew I needed to get back in fellowship with God and my brothers and sisters in the Lord. SO, God had me come to Dee’s blog. I have to laugh-she got into this idol thing and my first thought was-whew, this should be easy, I don’t have an idol problem. 🙂 I also didn’t think over-eating was bad-but OH when we got into the study and Dee admitted her idol problem..I thought oh my if she has a problem I KNOW I have. God used Dee to wake me up.

    This is becoming a book. I went into the healing process, but that wasn’t what Dee wanted to focus on for now so I erased it. 😉 I hope this answered your question and I didn’t rabbit trail too far off. 🙂

      1. 😉

        1. Oh, i forgot-food along with political shows on t.v. and radio -and I am sure there were other comfort items that were my replacements for intimacy with God- I had them way out of balance-they were the ultimate, instead of having them in their proper place. I didn’t want to go into detail about politics-You guys certainly don’t need more detail from me. lol! 🙂

    1. Rebecca

      I idenify with you in that i suck my thumb.. and as you said if you gave up over eating before bed what could satisfy you. Well that is what i think of my thumb sucking.. I know that i need to give it up( Its a comfort idol) but i say if i stop doing this what is going to satisfy me as i go to sleep? I listen to music every night while going to sleep.. and i have tried to stop sucking my thumb several times and just listen to my musci while going to sleep and i had the hardest time going to sleep.. cause i am so used to sucking my thumb.. can you pray for me in this area? Thanks! Love you Sister!

      1. Meg, sure..Do you like to read? Perhaps you could replace it with something else more spiritually edifying. Dee suggested that to us as we were going through this process-Some read spiritually edifying books, went for walks, some jogged, biked and enjoyed intimacy with God while doing that.

        1. Rebecca,

          I love to read! I usually read a little before i go to bed.. I am reading a book called boundries right now, and then i have a night time devotional.. but when i lay down and am trying to sleep if i am not sucking my thumb then i have a HARD time falling alseep. Just pray for me in this area. Thanks!

        2. Meg, Will do!

      2. Oh, Meg. It really speaks to me that you are so honest with what you are dealing with. May the Lord bless you and fear you from your comfort idols. You have such a tender heart toward the Lord. I can see Him working. It is so beautiful.

      3. Bless your heart, Meg. I tell you as you expose these things and get us agreeing in prayer on your behalf you are going to overcome! Our pastor said Sunday that we are only as sick as our secrets. I join the prayer chorus. Lord, we ask that you reveal to Meg exactly your plan to aid her in overcoming this self-comfort of thumb sucking. Show her that you want to comfort and lull her to sleep. I have just found lately that I can fall asleep very quickly by praying thanksgiving. Hugs!

  16. Just downloaded Philip Yancey’s, “Prayer-does it make any Difference”, book on my Nook reader. Hope that is the right one. I am assuming it is. Looking forward to it!

  17. I just want to touch base before I head off to work in twenty minutes. I feel as if I am lagging behind but with my current schedule I am unable to study and post on a daily basis. I don’t have computer access at nite and most nights I am in bed by 7:30 or 8 pm. However, I am pondering these great truths, writing down my answers to the questions so I can post as able and reading your comments so I can stay connected. The pace of my life has increased little by little but it is helping me to stay focus and press on in God’s word for that is now top priority. I can’t live a single day away from His word. I know we are free to come and go here but quite frankly I don’t want to go.

    Dee prayed for me to gain wisdom concerning my getting proper rest a couple of weeks ago and an answer has come in an unexpected way. One of my clients had to let me go because of financal difficulties owing to illness. I told her I understood that she and her husband had to do what was best for them and I shared with her that I had been praying myself about cutting back on my day schedule since I was working at night. It is hard when I have been up all night with my nite client to clean two houses the next day, which is what I did yesterday, but I did pray for strength to face yesterday and God granted and He also gave my nite client and myself sweet rest last night. Anyway, now I will no longer be cleaning two homes every Wednesday since the client that let me go was my Wd afternoon. She and her husband gave me a month’s pay as a gift so I would not be caught in a bind next month with my expenses. God is always surprising me with his favor! Well sisters, I have to run. Thanks to all who pray for me. Y’all are always with me! BLESSINGS AND MUCH LOVE!!!

    1. Tammy,
      I’m happy to see how God answered prayers for rest for you and cutting back on work. Keeping you in my prayers!

  18. I am responding to Dee’s question to me above, asking me to give specific example: I wrote how in the past I’ve done Bible studies on marriage/being a wife and had difficulty applying the truth I learned. So Dee wanted to know how is this study helping me?

    At the beginning of the marriage Bible study, we were given a checklist of things to mark if we were doing them and if we thought it was sin or displeasing God. Examples of things I marked were my husband is not my number one priority – I am critical verbally of him – I don’t respect him – I talk about his faults to others…. We had verses, of course, that were truths we were to apply to these areas about respect, how we talk to our husbands, our tone of voice, nagging, not gossipping. I had so many items checked on this list that was several pages that I felt totally overwhelmed and didn’t even know where to begin. I would try to pray, and stop because I thought how will God even want to hear me when I have this big list of SIN? I was convinced I had to erase the checkmark and clear my record first, but I didn’t know where to start. I got really discouraged. I felt like a mouse on one of those little wheels; running but going nowhere!

    This study is different because Dee has taught us that behind our sin lies an idol. I am seeing now that when I criticize or undercut my husband, behind is the idol of wanting power and control. I have seen through this study that I do desire power/control, and at first I didn’t think that was my problem. Often I get angry at my husband because he is not meeting my need for approval/affirmation – if I am tempted to discuss his faults with someone else of course, it builds me up – I get approval. Even the nights when he comes home late and I am already tired and resting on the couch and I don’t want to get up and fix him something to eat – the idol of comfort, wanting my own comfort, is there. I saw my power/control idol at work when I tried to go behind his back and get new carpet and paint for the living room – I wanted my own way!
    Keller’s sermon from last week helped me to see the idols in a new way, too – they are things that have become my “living hopes” and the sin that follows is the symptom of it.
    I can identify with Rebecca with using food for comfort (the sweets); or spending money to buy something that I think will bring me satisfaction; or having my living hope be my children and what I covet is their love and approval of me.
    This thought of my being Jesus’ living hope that helped Him endure the Cross is really resonating with me.

    1. This is so good Susan, really helpful for me, I’m sure many of us. You identified the difference so well. I too have been in so many studies that seem to almost use Scripture as some type of band-aid for my “issue”. If I do this____, then I should remember the verse on….Instead, Dee’s studies use Scripture, not as a band-aid, but a TOOL–to identify the root, lead me to surrender that to Him, and allow Him to begin to break and re-make me to who He created me to be. And to rest in the comfort of His delight in me–to let it fill me up to overflowing. But first, there must be surgery…and His Word the tool.

    2. Susan, this is so good! I have felt hopeless for so long. I think I go back and forth between blaming myself and blaming him. We are on the brink of true healing!

  19. I just listened to the free Keller on How To Change. I promise not to over load with my notes, but I really found it encouraging. I loved that even in the wintertime, Spiritually speaking, we are always growing. Once a seed is planted, it continues to grow…we don’t see the growth while it’s happening, and we don’t feel it–it is gradual, it is internal, but it is inevitable. It was a hope-giving message for me personally right now–and I will never look at an acorn the same way again 😉

    1. I listened to that too when I was down and it really helped.

  20. Icebreaker:
    In Jesus’ day weddings did not happen without agreement between the fathers. I think the first picture is a bargaining session between the fathers. It may be my imagination but I think I see in each father concern for the welfare of his child. They are not just bargaining over the price of a donkey. The bride’s father holds out for a higher price but also does not want to push too hard for he cares for his daughter’s happiness. The groom’s father wants to keep the price down because he knows that financial burden will compromise the happiness of his son.

    The first parallel that I see is that the wedding does not happen until the father says that it is time. The son works but the father makes sure that all necessary things are accomplished. Neither the groom nor the bride knows when that time will be so each must work to be ready.

    I think the betrothal is the opposite of parallel (can’t think of the word). Jesus paid the price before we ever committed ourselves to Him. But that is not true of Old Testament believers who looked for Messiah. So maybe it is parallel after all.

    My first comment on the opening is on the pure white wedding garment. Wives must be pure to wear white and in most cultures a woman is unfit for marriage if not pure. What hope have we with our idolatrous hearts of ever being pure? Absolutely none! But God the Father made a way for His son to pay the ultimate, highest price for us. And Jesus paid it! He provided our pure white garment of His righteousness. This just thrills my soul and the picture of pure white pearls, petals and lace is perfect.
    Oh, and I just noticed that some of the petals have yellowed~we are not quite there yet~but working.

  21. 9. If you listened to the free sermon, what stood out to you from that and why? This is what stood out to me:

    The reason we get addicted to things is because we dont have joy! Yikes!

    We dont see dramatic changes overnight.. I often get frusterated casue i want things to change overnight and dont have patience whatsoever. But God is teaching me to be more patient..

    Either trouble come of difficulty comes. There will be troubles and difficulties in this world. Every winter i think man i think that i will move to Florida where it doesnt snow and there is always hot/nice weather but then i got to thinking that they could have a hurricaine or whatever.. so no matter where you live something could come up!

    We need to know the nature of the change
    The Pattern of it
    The process of it.

    Something that i need to get engrained in my head: Growth is gradual!

  22. The 5k is Saturday morning so please pray for me! That i wouldnt back out and that i would do well and have a good attitude about the whole thing and not get worked up if my time isnt what i wanted it to be.

  23. I wanted to give a quick update on my #5 before I forget!
    Today the teacher called about an incident of my (8 yr old) child lying to her at school (it’s public, so it’s pretty bad if a teacher calls!), so we had a long night ahead. I’ll skip to the best part! The major theme we come back to with this child is their seems to be no conviction of sin, no real remorse, just anger at getting caught. She can probably quote more Scripture than me, but my husband and I do not see it really penetrate her heart—just seems like a lot of surface performance.
    I was at a loss for what to say and just felt totally discouraged. All that came to mind is what I have come across in all different places 4 times now in the last 2 weeks—including my son wanting me to read it to him just last night…The Parable of the Sower! I told it to her in my own, very basic words, starting with seed falling on a good soil heart that takes it in and grows. When I got to the shallow, hard heart, before I could get the rest out, she started bawling. I reached over and held her. I cried too. And told her Jesus was holding her too. We talked a while and she seemed more “real” than I have seen in a long time. I honestly do believe this was a REAL breakthrough, oh I pray so, I pray the Spirit has broken through.

    1. Oh thank You Lord! Elizabeth what a wonderful breakthrough! This brings tears to my eyes. Lord, how can I ever doubt You by being afraid? You are all powerful. You love our children so much. Thank you for leading Elizabeth and that she was faithful to speak the words You gave her. What precious treasure we possess in You.

      1. oh Anne–THIS is fellowship, isn’t it? Your joy for what He is doing in my life fills me with such encouragement–thank you–this is what He loves to give, you have blessed me with your wisdom and encouragement.
        I’ll share this too–a few minutes ago she just came down again and said “Mamma, I was thinking–when I do something wrong it’s like my heart is one big block of metal. And then when I admit it, it feels like a squishy pillow”! I hadn’t even talked with her about the heart of stone He turns to flesh!

        1. Anne–any update on your oldest? and good Christian friends for Joey?

        2. Yes! And it is joy! This truly is a life changing breakthrough for your daughter. I get so excited when I see God move hearts like this.

          There is nothing that I can really see in my boys right now but I know that God is at work because He is faithful. I am going to listen to the Guardrails message when I can. I like what you are sharing about it.

        3. About friends for Joey. My friend that told me about that message also has an 11th grade son who had a heart call like your daughter. Iv’e heard it called a ‘Moses’. Which I understand to mean an encounter with the Living God. Anyway Joey knows him and if he has opportunity he may invite Joey to their youth event. That is something I am praying about.

        4. Oh I will pray this too Anne! It’s good to have a specific like this–praying!

        5. Thank you both. As I pray about it I realize that Joey’s heart needs some real prayer because he is stand offish from this boy. I’m not sure why but I think this group is where he really needs to be.

        6. Oh my, this is too wonderful, Elizabeth. This gives us hope as parents. I want to break out into song “…our God is greater, our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other!” Father, thank you for this breakthrough with Elizabeth’s daughter. We give you all the praise and invite you to breakthrough to all of us and our children. Amen.

    2. Elizabeth, WOW!! I just got on this morning and read my e-mail and found this wonderful news! This is so good! I am rejoicing with you sister! You are such an incredible mom-Jesus’ fragrance through you is all over your daughter and God is on the move in her! You do inspire me in so many ways as a mom- and a wife I might add! Love you!

    3. thank you ALL for your encouragement and joy with me. I don’t want “my part” to sound too rosy–I daily say things to her I regret–and the start of yesterday was no different…but I have been encouraged by Anne & Dee’s wisdom on seeing her communication style is simply a whole different language, not an affront to me, if that makes sense. And so encouraged by Rebecca going back to Eli after she felt like she had messed up…that’s what I’m seeing in me, when I want to sit and “marinate” (the only word I can think of) in my anger/bitterness…that is when it’s starting to hit me, I need to get up and lean into grace to cover all. I used to sit in that place, wait for the offender to come apologize…my retreating. But especially with my children, I must get up and model this access to His amazing grace we have. She even said after I hugged her “I thought you’d be too mad to hug me” I said, “I was, but Jesus did it for me, and I’m glad”. Probably shouldn’t have said that, but…I over-do the truth-telling sometimes!

      Sorry for the spiel–just wanted to say thank you for the encouragement. I know this will be a life long journey, but thankful for the glimpses of Light shining through!

      1. Elizabeth, Oh no, I think you should have told her Jesus loved her through you. Remember what you said, I forgot the exact words. You quoted something that stuck with me-Eli needs to feel accepted for who he is, warts and all. It is the acceptance thing. That is love-like Jesus did for us on the cross-he wanted us, warts and all enough to shed his blood and die for us so he could have us-so we could be accepted.

  24. 1. Truth, Light & Love are the three great orchestral themes of 1 John.

    2. This one is rightly named: a challenge. V.7-8 Love is the command and it is true in Him and in me. He is the true light? The darkness is passing away and the true light is shining. In the 70’s it was said God is love. I think that may be what this is saying. He is Truth. He is Love. He is Light. You can’t have any without all three.

    3. DON’T FORGET:
    A. Jesus is eternal. He is real, visible and touchable, discernable with our senses. We can know Him and in that relationship is true joy. He is the Word of life. He is with the Father.

    B. If we do not love we dwell in darkness and there is no darkness in Him. So if we do not love we do not dwell in Him. If we dwell in Him we have fellowship with Him and with each other. I think our responsibility in 1 Jn 1:5-2:2 is not to deny our sin but to bring it into the light, confess it and repent of it.

    C. Summarize 1 John 2:3-11.
    We can have assurance that we know Him. If we know Him we keep His commands, we love His commands because of our love for Him. The command is that we love one another. This is the 2nd half of the first commandment. I wonder if it is not more important because if we do not keep this one, we can’t keep the part about loving Him. If we dwell in darkness how can we love Him.

  25. I am missing you so much this week. I have had really long days and for some reason, I have been extra tired, crashing early–just no time to study and post, so have been studying only. But i do want to ask for prayers, two of my sisters are coming to visit me for over a week. My sister Susan is arriving tomorrow, she is not a believer, but we have a really loving open relationship and have had some good times of sharing honestly in the last few years. I always pray that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and not miss any opportunities to speak the truth as well as live it before her. I will appreciate any prayers for our time together. My other sis Dawn arrives on Tuesday, she is the one who started on the blog, but I think she was overwhelmed because of her unfamiliarity with computers. She and I ave had a close relationship for all of our adult life and she has a close relationship with the Lord. I don’t know how much time I will have next week on the blog, because I still have to go to work.

    1. Terri, I will pray. How blessed you are to have 2 sisters that you are close to. I will pray for Susan’s salvation specifically.

    2. I pray too, Terri. Lord, draw this sister to yourself. Give her a hunger for you as Terri and Dawn walk out their faith before her. Bless their time together. We praise you in advance for her salvation. Amen.

  26. 5.5. Now — and this is the most important part of this study, I want you to be still before God and ask Him what turning from the darkness in repentance and toward the light in faith looks like in your life. Make a plan and ask God to help you live into it all week. What is it?

    Two weeks ago I saw and understood the truth of 1 Jn.1:8 and 10. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
    I was in a church from age 18-44 that taught we must not sin. We can and must live above it b/c no sin can enter in (heaven). I lived all those years moralistic, hoping I was good enough to go to heaven. Due to fighting in the church my husband and I left that denomination 5 years ago to attend the church we are now in. This church and Dee’s study began opening my eyes to truth. Recently I have experienced the joy of knowing I am going to heaven but had not yet faced my sinfulness.
    Last week when I read these verses I really embraced how terribly sinful I am for the first time. You see, when it’s up to you to make it to heaven, you dare not look too closely at your sins b/c you’ll figure out you cannot live up to the standard and you spend your days constantly asking forgiveness or quit altogether. These verses showed me that every fiber of my being outside of Christ’s righteousness is sinful and outside His help there is NOTHING I can do to stop sinning. I felt the full weight of my sin as never before but then I embraced the joy of His righteousness upon me.
    Armed with this new understanding I began changing my approach to conquering idols. Keeping in mind how sinful I truly am I began starting my day with God’s word and I pray something like this: “Father, empower me to live righteously, help me die to my flesh, I offer myself as a living sacrifice. I rest in you for the victory. I can’t do it but you can. Give me energy to serve you”
    To finally answer the question, my plan is to start my day with Him, turn from idols and bask in His favor with each victory.

    1. Kim, wow! This post really encouraged me!! God is certainly working in your heart!

      1. We tried a few churches and landed at E-Free. It was the closest to our doctrine or so we thought at the time.
        I am seeing more clearly even this morning. I had to categorize sin in that doctrine to sins of omission and commission. The sins that would send me to hell were sins that I was openly defiant-shook my fist at God, so to speak. Oh, and isn’t it interesting how kind God was to open my eyes to my security in Him before opening my eyes to my idols? Otherwise how could I have handled the penalty of those sins.
        I will ask again for prayer for my husband to see the truth. I shared my new understanding with him over supper a couple of weeks ago and he seemed hurt and disappointed in me. I keep in mind that he was raised in this from birth since his dad was a pastor.

        1. praying for your husband Kim!

        2. Kim, I love how you are ‘keeping in mind’ that your husband was raised this way from birth-that is truly
          .having compassion on him and loving him

        3. Kim , what is E Free?

        4. Evangelical Free
          Basically a Bible believing, evangelical church.

  27. 8. in Keller’s message Loving and Growing Part I, what did you learn about:
    This sermon was another great one. I love these sermons on knowing God-I haven’t heard this delved into anywhere else yet-so it was real encouraging to me-this so resonated with me.

    A. How we can know our sins are forgiven?

    On account of Jesus’ name. We draw on the value of the account of His name, not on the value of our repentance-the quality of our repentance, etc.. We will never be sure this way.

    B. How children are, and how Jesus responded to the disciples when they were like children in the storm:

    The disciples come in and they pray to Jesus saying, Master, we are going to drown-don’t you care? Jesus called it little faith. Yet he dealt with their childishness-he responds to it. Jesus says, little faith, lousy faith, then he says be still. He responds to them. God is aware of the growth process. Put your hand in his hand and he will lead you to full maturity. HE knows it takes time. He will work with you. Don’t be discouraged, you have forgiveness.

    C. Keller gives insight on what John means when he tells young men that “the word of God” lives in them so they have the power to overcome sin. What does Keller say “the Word of God” means and on what basis does he say that?

    Keller said ‘The word of God ‘ and the Holy Spirit are interchangeable -used throughout scripture. Having the spirit of God abide in you and having the word of God abide in you. The spirit of God is the spirit of truth. When the spirit of God comes into your life it brings the truth of God into vitality-bringing the truth of God as a spiritual substance. We are partakers of the divine nature.

    God’s spiritual DNA gets implanted in the root of your soul when you become a Christian. The nature of God is planted in your heart. Because he is truthful it will make you truthful, because he is love you will love.
    The word of God abides in you and you are strong-the Holy Spirit. The Holiness of God has come in you and it is like Acid-it eats up sin over time. It’s inevitable with this power that you will overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.

  28. D. What else stood out to you from this sermon and why?

    I loved this: “Christianity is not just a function of deciding to do things-Here is a code and regimen and I pick them up and do them. Something outside has come into you and is messing with your insides. It intervenes. Your life gets messy. It is not a function of your power and planning-something has come in from the outside is remaking you and changing you and you can tell that is what a Christian is. For you to say I can’t change means you have forgotten it.”

    This is what makes us frustrated in thinking we can’t change. When we are taught or encouraged to do this or that and we will change. This is what I have been trying to articulate-something that has been bugging me for a while in the way we tend to approach our life in Christ these days-Not sure but I often hear do this and then you will have victory-‘intentional living’ I guess is the new buzz word. Nothing wrong if intentional living is meant as dependent responsibility, or perhaps the discipline of getting up and getting in the word every day, but my sense is it might be used in some instances as a function of deciding to do things as a regimine as Keller suggested-BUT I could be wrong. But I have asked myself-where is the genuine love of Christ that comes out of us as a fruit of His seed growing in us? Keller said, because he is truthful you will be truthful and have integrity, because he is love you will love. I hope I am articulating this well, not sure. I am very clumsy at articulating my thoughts most times! I apologize also if I am mis-characterizing the intentional living thing-feel free to straighten me out- it is o.k. if I am wrong-that doesn’t bother me that much anymore as I have been mistaken a lot and have needed the correction! 🙂

    E. How might you remember these things, value these things, so that you can become a beautiful bride?

    I don’t want to get discouraged and forget-rather I want to remain encouraged as I am now-to keep my eyes on the Gospel. What really, really encouraged me was when keller said God knows what stage of growth we are in-and He loves us through those stages like Jesus did in the boat with His disciples. SO when i stumble, which I will and have, I won’t be discouraged because I am forgiven-first of all..and I also know this: “It’s inevitable with this power that you will overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.” He will complete His good work in me.

  29. Dee

    How are you doing regarding your praying? I am praying for you!

  30. 10. Look back at your answer to question 5. How are you doing? I am doing really well, with the self gradification, I have been getting up and doing something else.. or whatever it has been good 🙂 I am enjoying seeing my own progress!

    11. WHAT DID GOD IMPRESS UPON YOUR HEART THIS WEEK AND WHY? To care what he cares about, This past sunday when our sunday school class was watching our beth moore teaching.. she had pictures up of her somewhere i think Haiti not sure but she was feeding the children, and teaching them songs, and sharing the gospel with them.. I was thinking i wish that i could help in some way like sponser a child or something but finances are not allowing me to right now. But i prayed God help me to care about what you care about, alot of times, i “forget” and then i when i see these vidoes i am reminded of how lucky us americans really are.
    I hope this doesnt sound too scattered!

  31. 6. There are three things that John urges believers to remember, to “not forget!” Keller gives us the alliteration of POSITION, POWER, AND PERSON.

    A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you. I am forgiven!!! This is my position. This is everything. Because of His work on the cross for me I can face tomorrow, all fear of hell is wiped away. On His account I am clean. Nothing I could ever do would be enough to save my soul and out of gratefulness for His payment and love for Him I bow my knee and do everything in my power to please Him.

    B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b (b means the second part of the verse) and comment on how you have experienced this power. “Because you have overcome the wicked one.” We have victory. One commentator said we have abiding results. I experience this as a result of allowing God to be on the throne of my life. The minute I get on the throne I am powerless over my idols.

    C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week.
    Last week after I had truly grieved my sinful state and asked God to empower me to victory in my eating I was tempted to nibble as I made my husbands lunch one evening. God spoke to me clearly and reminded me how much better it would feel for His favor to shine on me than the taste of food. I felt in that moment empowered to please Him and the temptation was easily managed.

  32. Ok my take away and how I am doing…
    Well this was my –This is what it is looking like for me. This is what I have been living out in rooting out this approval idol – 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4. It has been so helpful to really remember and live. It is freeing
    Okay so I am having to really press into this because my daughter was excluded from a party this week. All the girls in her class were invited but her. She is the one with aspergers so she asked if she could come and the girl said she ran out of invites. So she said it is okay I can ask my mom and if she says yes I can come I dont need an invitation. The girl was silent for a while so my baby said, it is okay for you to say no. If you dont want me to come just say no. So the girl said no. My baby is okay with this. She really does not hurt about situations like I do. I know this is a gift about aspergers. Me on the other hand hurt so badly for her and the situation. I am tempted to be angry with the mother, etc. So anyway we exchanged some grace filled words over the week by email. Though she never responded back to mine and I am hoping she is not angry with me but I have to trust it does not matter what she thinks of me. I will love and be Christ like anyway. Only God is my judge. On Tues we will see each other. So we will see.

    My take away, I am just so encouraged and cannot wait for the day that we will meet Him in our fine linen bright and clean. Where we will be like Him. Oh how wonderful it will be. 🙂 Walk in the light til then it is a process and we grow all at different places. Grace

    1. Angela, I know this hurts. I am so sorry. I remember girls like that and your daughter will never be that way. She is way ahead of them. I am praying for special blessings for her. I finally got to see Temple Grandin. I was pretty much blown away. What impressed me the most is that while it may seem that something has gone very wrong in autism, God is Lord over even this and He brings much good.

    2. oh Angela, I hurt for you reading this. But I agree with Anne’s beautiful words, and pray too God’s blessing on your daughter. You said “She really does not hurt about situations like I do. I know this is a gift about aspergers.” I too struggle with my idol of approval, but I thought–what a lovely model she is of living out the freedom of not having the approval idol.

    3. Angela, This is so painful, I can’t imagine but I can pray. Hugs to you and your sweet girl.

    4. Angela, I am so sorry and I know how much it hurts. My daughter has been treated that way for a long time by mean people. Sarah doesn’t act like she cares either, but I feel the pain that she doesn’t. Sarah has never been truly diagnosed with aspergers but she shows lots of the signs.

      That’s why I am so thankful God brought this new girl into sarahs life. She is a blessing and from a sad life. I can tell she likes our family. I will pray for your daughter. I will pray that God brings a sweet friend just for her. It only takes one person to make a difference.

  33. OK here is my #5. It is my relationship with my husband. My attitude has not been that of Christ Jesus toward him. I want to gain victory in this area. I know that I must. This relationship affects everything in my family but it is so much deeper than that.

    Lord I love You. And because I love You, I love Your commands. But this is where the ground gets loose for me. I am afraid to let the walls come down. In fact I just don’t know how. But I know that You do and so I place my hand in Yours and ask You to lead me out of this wilderness. In my mind I hear “Do you really think He can do this? This is the way you are.” I say yes! Not because I can see myself changed but because I know You, and You are able.

    Sisters, I covet your prayers. This is the deepest scariest place in my heart. I have no idea where to begin for I have tried for over 20 years and have all but given up. I just don’t see how it can be done. So I know that the Lord will have to show me step by step. As He reveals each step to me I will have to share with you so that you can hold me accountable.

    1. oh Anne, your transparent, honest heart so humbles me. I am committing to praying your beautiful prayer with you dear sister.

      1. Elizabeth, thanks! I should trust and not fear but I’m not there yet.

    2. Anne, I’m praying for you too. Your prayer was so honest and beautiful. I was so touched by the words,
      “I place my hand in Yours and ask You to lead me out of this wilderness. In my mind I hear “Do you really think He can do this? This is the way you are.” I say yes! Not because I can see myself changed but because I know You, and You are able.”
      I do not know your situation but I so empathize with your wilderness and love the way you are putting yourself in His hands knowing you are not able but He is. Amen. Lord. I agree in prayer with Anne’s prayer.

    3. I am praying, dear Anne.

      1. Diane, Dee and Kim thank you for praying. You give me such hope.

        1. Praying for you too, Anne

  34. Ladies! Please pray! I am not feeling well and the 5k is tommorrow! Please pray that i will either feel better by tommorrow or if i dont feel better not to do it at all and not push myself to do it! Thanks! Love you all!

      1. No Run for me 🙁 I am down with the flu 🙁

    1. Sorry you are ill, Meg. Praying for you.

  35. Ladies, please pray for me. Part of me wants to call my brother and try to begin to resolve things and part of me is terrified. I am so afraid of disapproval that it almost paralyzes me. I need to remember that in Christ I am fully accepted, but this is hard.

    1. Lord, I lift up Diane to You right now, please comfort her in her fears and anxiety over this relationship. I pray Lord You will be her strength, that she would rest in Your great love for her, and be filled up with Your approval. I pray You will soften her brother & s-i-l’s hearts. Lord I pray for healing in these relationships, for Your glory. In Your Name I pray~

      1. Thanks for your prayers, Elizabeth. And I was working on my study and God gave me 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 which speaks so comfortingly about resting in Christ’s power.
        “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10)
        Isn’t Jesus so precious in reassuring His weak children!

    2. Father I pray for this situation. I pray for restoration. I thank you for Diane and her walk with you. Thank you for the verse to encourage her and help her rest in your perfect timing. Put your words in her mouth and let your love flow from her heart.

  36. A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you.

    My sins are “forgiven on account of His name”. I am forgiven not because of anything I have done but because of his character which does not change.

    B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b (b means the second part of the verse) and comment on how you have experienced this power.

    “… you have overcome the evil one.” Not in my own strength. When I am weak, then He is strong. My weakness opens the way to humble myself so that I realize His strength is enough. I need not fear my weakness, only trust His strength.
    “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10)

    C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week.

    “because you know him who is from the beginning.” The reference is to Jesus. As John 1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

  37. 9. If you listened to the free sermon, what stood out to you from that and why?

    In Keller’s free sermon I learned that we can’t MAKE ourselves be loving to others, or kind, or anything good (like Jesus). The only way to procure these traits is to truly have them in our hearts by knowing Him deeply within ourselves. We just then exude them whether we are trying to or not. People will automatically see these qualities are part of who we are and want to be near us naturally.

  38. 10. Look back at your answer to question 5. How are you doing?

    It is going so well on my end as far as showing my son love despite his issues-yet still holding him accountable for responsibility. I don’t think there is a ‘being there yet’ as I have stumbled too, but there is victory and I am SURE there will be over time. I am not looking toward the fix rather I am just wanting to delight God in it.

    This is SO where God had me last night when I met with some gals at our church for dinner. It was a great time-but God was helping me to love and show Grace, reminding me of the grace he has given me. I guess at some point true fellowship is encouraging one another in the Lord and I attempted that a few times with a couple of gals and it came back with silence. It was weird-nothing, no interest in discussing what the Lord is doing in her life. I didn’t get a chance to talk with the gals who would have engaged with me-but the point is that God kept whispering in my ear to show grace-to love. I had to repent right there at the table of being critical-and turn to the light.

    11. WHAT DID GOD IMPRESS UPON YOUR HEART THIS WEEK AND WHY?

    Love and Grace. I didn’t realize how far off I was from loving like Jesus does and showing Grace. The bottom line or what has fueled this has been the Holy Spirit in me-teaching me, helping me to remember the Gospel, and then empowering me to live it out. Also, God has often put on my heart the example of the lives of Dee and Steve. Steve forfeiting his own ‘rights’ to extend grace to others.

  39. I am really behind – on Friday I was gone all day on another college visit with my son in PA! So here goes…

    6. There are three things that John urges believers to remember, to “not forget!” Keller gives us the alliteration of POSITION, POWER, AND PERSON.

    A. Find the Position in 1 John 2:12 and comment on how this can strengthen you.

    Positionally, with God, I am forgiven; my sins have been paid for by Jesus. Seems like a back to basics reminder, but John knew we needed to hear it (I did already listen to the Keller sermon). John is giving us a tall list of things we need to live up to – loving like Jesus did, walking as He did. I fail every day at some point. It’s easy to get discouraged and to feel the weight and guilt of sin pressing in. I just heard a speaker on the radio describe it this way: when we fail, when we fall, we can look up to God, and He is still smiling at us; He helps us up. He’s not angry, not scolding, not shaking His finger at us.

    B. Find the Power in 1 John 2:13b and comment on how you have experienced this power.

    The Power is “you have overcome the evil one”. I take this to mean that it is not ME who has overcome the evil one, but JESUS Who won the victory and overcame the evil one, and because He lives in me, I share in that victory. In and of myself, I can’t overcome temptation to sin, or hopelessness, or despair. I have to remember that since I am in Christ, I have the power, His power made available to me. I have experienced this when I have relied on Him to help me turn from sin.

    C. Find the Person in 1 John 2:13a and comment on any way you have experienced intimacy with this Person in the last week.

    The Person is Jesus Christ. I had a good time of prayer yesterday morning in the car, driving to PA. My son was sleeping (we left at 6 AM), and it was really foggy. I talked to the Lord for a long time, and really poured out my heart to Him. (When my son woke up he asked me who I was talking to, and I told him. He has a very, very dry sense of humor, plus he’s the one who is so turned-off by “religion” right now – he told me that if I insist on “talking to the air” or talking to myself like that, I’m going to give myself a mental disorder)

    7. Important things are always repeated, which John does in 1 John 2:13c through 14. Find the Position, Power, and Person again.

    John continues to stress that “you have known the Father” which is only possible through Jesus His Son; “you have known Him Who is from the beginning” the Who being Jesus; “you are strong and the word of God lives in you” the “Word” is Jesus, and “you have overcome the evil one.”

  40. Elizabeth,
    I want to tell you I read of the way the Lord is working in you and your daughter – I could not believe (well, yes I could!) how she got that when she does wrong her heart feels like a big block of metal and when she admits it her heart feels like a “big squishy pillow”! Out of the mouth of babes….I mean, where did she get that wisdom – from the Lord, of course! Your daughter just gave me a great word picture of how I know my heart feels like when I sin, and what it’s like to confess!

    1. “Like” 🙂

  41. 5. Dee and everyone, I have been praying about what would be my answer to this all week; in fact, it’s what I was talking to God about alot in the car yesterday morning. This is something that goes way beyond, of course, just giving it one week as I know it is for all of us!
    My answer is similar to Anne’s. It is my relationship with my husband. Just to make a few statements about our marriage, and not to blame him or to say who is to blame for what:
    We have no intimacy. It is like we live in the same house as roommates. We do not work as a team. Conversations can be painful. I don’t “feel” love for my husband and have not for a very long time. He probably feels the same towards me.

    Another huge area for me in turning from the darkness back toward the light should look like in my life has to do with sexual intimacy in my marriage. I will not elaborate as this is very personal, I have never shared this. When I was young, I don’t remember specific age, maybe 11 or 12, I inadvertantly saw a scene in a movie that portrayed sex in a certain way that I know was the beginning of very wrong thinking about sex. It has “shadowed” me even until now. I also came into marriage with baggage b/c my husband was not my only partner and I had sex before I was married. I have almost shut this area down in my life. I don’t like sex and I have trouble not seeing it as somehow dirty and bad. I need to turn from this darkness, which is what I talked with God about, and into the light of taking a step of faith in being willing to give myself freely to my husband and to have God’s view of married intimacy as good, pure, and yes, holy. However, due to the strained relationship and lack of just basic intimacy, sexual intimacy seems like a huge mountain to get over.
    I also talked to God about turning back to light, where He is, because if I am out of fellowship with my husband then I can’t really be in close fellowship with God. I told Him that I know I can’t be “right” in the other areas like I go to church, do Bible study, read the Bible, even serve and love others, but if I am not in right relationship with Jeff then I can’t be walking in the light with Him. I know love is not just saying the words “I love you”. Schaeffer said this love must be observable. I am asking God to help me show visible love to my husband in even small, practical ways. I don’t hate my husband but my heart has grown hard and indifferent.
    I, too, like Anne wrote above, am not sure I know how; I need God to show me.
    I am ashamed to write these things because I know this should not be my situation and my being a Christian. I remember vividly several years ago, during an argument with my husband, that he said to me “Satan is more of a Christian than you are!”
    I think I’ve wanted to ignore how badly our marriage is deteriorating. I don’t think we would ever get divorced, but to continue on in this way is just as bad. Driving through this murky fog yesterday helped me picture how there can be just a little light ahead that I can see to follow but everything is sure distorted and it’s scary, too. Then when it would suddenly break and disappear, what a relief to be able to see where I was going.
    Being in the darkness is a lonely, scary place to be and I know that’s not where God wants me in my marriage.

    1. oh dear Susan. I read this and my first thought was to tell you I love you. I ache for this pain you are in, like physically, my stomach feels sick for your right now. Sorry–I have no wise things to say, I just read this and so badly wanted to hug you and weep with you, I had to respond–but you know you are in my daily prayers.
      And I am praying for God to erase from your mind the lie your husband said in your fight. oh, I am so so sorry.

    2. Susan, this is a deep and tender place. I can see the Lord working in your heart so much. Many of us who are married walk or have walked through difficult marriage struggles as well. Lord, please help Susan as she walks through the darkness with you. Encourage her in knowing that you are with her and hold her hand as she walks in faith toward Your light.

    3. Dear sweet Susan, I am so thankful that we have a safe place to share these hard things. I am so glad that you did. I feel like I can really pray for you now and I commit to it. Lord Jesus, I thank you for Susan, for her love for you and desire to love her husband and turn towards your light. Shine your love and light so she can so live before her family that they will want what she has. Enable her to do what you have called her to do. Help me to pray faithfully for her. Amen.

      1. Susan, I got a phone call and I forgot to pray this, I pray that you would be comforted by the Holy Spirit and not believe words spoken in the heat of the moment.

        1. Thank you Elizabeth, Kim and Diane for your kind words and prayers. Elizabeth, I didn’t mean to make you feel ill – oh! You are so kind and loving. I’m sorry to share something so heavy. I think the first step may be my husband and me just learning how to be friends again.

        2. Don’t ever apologize for sharing heavy–one of the most beautiful things about you Susan, is your honesty. I have walked a rocky path in my marriage, before my husband’s bipolar diagnosis, and I don’t begin to compare our paths, but I know something of that dark, lonely place.
          I love what you said below to Anne: “I think even the desire we have to come out is from Him.” I agree and have enough hope for you and your husband, even if you can’t quite find that hope yet. Love to you dear friend~

    4. Susan,

      I totally understand everything you wrote because you described my marriage too. I wonder if there are a lot of “us” out there? It is difficult to admit the things you did here. I relate to all of them. No intimacy, no sexual intimacy, just blah. Never think of getting divorced, just muddle through. I want it to be better too.

      I didn’t answer number 5 because j think I was overwhelmed with how many issues I have! I didn’t know where to start.

      What is the answer? I’m not sure but as I am trying to be more Christ like maybe it will flow into my marriage…..

      1. Laura, I am so glad you shared this so that I can pray specifically for you. I offered up a prayer for you and others in a later post. I commit to pray for your marriage. Love to you!

  42. Diane,
    I wanted to tell you that I heard a powerful message by Sheila Walsh on Focus on the Family’s radio broadcast on October 18th and she spoke on her struggle with depression and also talked about her need to take antidepressant medication. You can go to their website and even type in her name on the search tab and you can listen to this past program online. It was really a powerful and encouraging message and it may speak to you on what you shared above.
    I too will pray for you about you and your brother!

    1. Thanks for this suggestion. I will try to find it. Thanks for prayer as well.

  43. 10. Look back at your answer to question 5. How are you doing?
    A week ago, I would have answered this based on how my child’s behavior was at the current time, and my reaction to it—which has it’s ups & downs. I think the key here for me to learn is the “you” in this question above. I have been convicted this week of how I have analyzed all the problems with my child, and tried to “fix” her. The same way I did years ago in my marriage, dragging us to counseling because I knew “he” needed it, the way I have critiqued my mom and tried to change her in the past. What I am convicted of is this—I do not want at the end of my life, for them to say “she fixed me”. I want them to say, “she loved me like Jesus”. So, with that in mind, I am beginning to focus more on my behavior, my heart, my response…and I am encouraged by what He is doing in me.

    11. WHAT DID GOD IMPRESS UPON YOUR HEART THIS WEEK AND WHY?
    My position, forgiven, leads me to not try to justify or hide my sin—to stay in the Light. The intimacy I have with Jesus—He is with me, He understands the hard parts, but He loves me tenderly, and wants me to show others that love. The power of the Holy Spirit to change my heart—we are never without hope, always growing, and this applies to others as well. I am often quick to judge or put someone in a box—but growth is gradual, and for a Christian, inevitable—there is always the hope of Spring blossoms.

    I just feel really filled with Hope. I can’t articulate it very well, but I’m seeing things I was wrong about this week, and instead of feeling guilty—I feel His grace. I feel His hope, that this is part of the process. He has humbled me, I have been able to admit my sin to my daughter—which was always hard in that relationship. I have felt she and I are both on a growing journey in Christ—all of us are, at different stages, but growing—and I just feel encouraged.

  44. My take away is: there are different stages in a Christian’s walk, just as there are stages of life. We cannot and must not look at another person and judge his salvation. Baby Christians are just as saved as mature Christians. Only God knows the end from the beginning. Revelations 13:8 states that the Lamb was slain before the world was created. He took care of ALL sin before we even existed. We are to work out our own salvation.
    While all sin does not affect us on earth the same (we like to categorize big sins and little sins) it affects God the same. So while it may be hard for us to grasp the possibility that Adolf Hitler may be praising at the throne right next to Mother Theresa (or you), only God knows.

    1. This is so good, Dawn. Thank you for sharing. I want to walk in this way, not judging but praying.

  45. Anne,
    I keep re-reading your answer to #5 and you’ve been in a painful place for a very long time – 20 years is a long time. I also really love your tender prayer for God to take ahold of your hand in the wilderness and lead you out.
    It makes me think that even when we get into the darkness, we don’t always have the ability to get ourselves out. I know God doesn’t dwell in the dark, nor is there any darkness in Him, but surely He will come for us when we are lost and can’t find our own way out. I think even the desire we have to come out is from Him.
    I’ll be praying for you, Anne.

    1. Susan, yes! He does give the desire, I see that now. My lack of desire has come from a bitter root that is being pulled up. If I’d had the desire I would have overcome this years ago. Maybe the healing had to come first.

      It is important that this happen now, when my older son is at home. He was so affected by our relationship when he was in Middle School. He was sure we were going to divorce. It would really be good if the healing began while he is here.

      Thank you so much for your prayers. I will also pray for you. The Lord will lead us step by step.

      1. Lord, Thank you for the playdough hearts you have given Anne and Susan. Thank you, you are blessing us with the opportunity to come to you on their behalf. Lord to see your majesty-your light so ominous yet so quiet penetrating the darkness in their hearts and ours. we are so thankful Lord when you do this with us, and yet in the midst of the pain of the turning you are the God of all Comfort-Lord as they are wide open to you like a lake, I pray you would comfort them. Lord, we give you the praise for Susan and Anne’s hearts-what you have done and what you are going to do to draw them even closer to you- to desire the things you desire. Empower them to love their husbands as you have loved them, and Lord if their husbands don’t respond, as Dee said, quicken their hearts to know you are so pleased with them, and we thank you Lord for the work you will accomplish in their hearts and for how you are their glory. Thank you! In your holy name.

    2. Susan and Anne, thank you for being so open and honest, as I too share in alot of the very same problems. I will be praying for you.

  46. 8. We can know our sins are forgiven because of Jesus name, on the account of His name. We are forgiven because of what He did, not anything that we do or do not do. It is a fact and the transaction happened, past tense. Jesus met the disciple’s need even though their prayer was childish and not eloquent.
    Keller says that the Word of God is called the Spirit of God in other references. As I study Acts I am learning about the person of the Holy Spirit and what He means to me. In my notes this morning I read something that spoke to me and I remember a chorus we used to sing in church because the words were directed to Him. It says: Spirit I adore You, lay my life before You, how I love You. It made me think how I never really talk to Him and that I should. I should recognize His presence within me more. He is the One who brings us inward joy no matter of our circumstances. And wow! His presence within is where we find the strength to overcome sin.
    One thing that really stood out to me is when he said that the Holy Spirit is like acid on our sin. If we cultivate the Spirit within us we can’t help but change, we can’t help but love.

    If I remember my position I will never fear or despair. I must cultivate the presence of the Spirit within me and in Him I will find the power to overcome evil and I will find joy.

  47. 11. This week is amazing! God led me to the brink of my most besetting sin. He showed me my powerlessness to overcome it myself. Then in #8 He gave me the first step I must take. That is to cultivate the presence of the Holy Spirit within me, to know and enjoy Him. Lord, please show me how to do this in my thought life and my prayer life.