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GOD WITH US

IMAGINE THE TERROR OF THE OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS

WHEN GOD CAME NEAR

 

THE SHEKINAH GLORY

 


WHENEVER HE CAME

THEY WERE FILLED WITH FEAR


 

MOSES TOOK OFF HIS SHOES AT THE BURNING BUSH

 

PLOUCHARD: BURNING BUSH

 

ISAIAH CRIED WOE IS ME


 

JOB WAS FLATTENED WHEN GOD CAME IN A WHIRLWIND

 

WILLIAM BLAKE: JOB

 

 

AND AFTER FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OF SILENCE

ON THAT HOLY NIGHT

THE PRESENCE OF GOD AGAIN STRUCK FEAR

 

"The Annunciation of the Shepherds" Benjamin Gervitsz Cuyp Dutch (1612-1652)

When I was young, long before most of you were born, I loved watching television Christmas specials: Perry Como, Andy Williams…and though there were plenty of songs about chestnuts and winter wonderlands, they always had sacred songs as well, often closing with the spine-tingling O Holy Night, where you were reminded of the holiness of Christmas.

This year I watched a few and thought how different this world has become. Michael Buble’s 1st Christmas special did not have one sacred song. The New York Rockefeller Special with the lighting of the tree became pornographic and had to be turned off. No fear. No sense of the holiness of God.

But before I get too critical of the secular world, who does not know Jesus, let me turn this searing light on myself.

Early in our marriage, Steve and I came to love this simple Christmas chorus:

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
His name is called
Emmanuel.
God with us,
Revealed in us,
His name is called
Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
Your name is called
Emmanuel
God with us
Revealed in us,
Your name is called
Emmanuel.

When we realize that God is not only with us, but revealed in us, it should change our relationships with even the difficult people this Advent. Last Sunday after church, doing dishes with my dear daughter-in-law Julie, I told her I had an ethical dilemma. I told her of a new neighbor who was a believer, but whom I perceived might be difficult, and whom I feared  could consume me. She had been calling and e-mailing frequently, asking to get together. Frankly, I was afraid if I opened the door I might be swallowed up. I was looking for support and agreement from Julie, but I didn’t get it. She said, “Mom — don’t you think Jesus would have you be open to her? Just be honest with her about your time. Set boundaries — but don’t close the door.” I protested, but Julie was firm, repeating her stand.

So, I got home, called the neighbor, and told her I had an hour. She came right over, and the poor lady put her watch on the coffee table so she wouldn’t stay more than an hour. She is a widow, talkative, and I asked God to help me listen, to be His love, yet I was antsy. Obedient on the outside but shutting up my compassions on the inside. But then God began to break through. She had been talking about Joel Olstein and how much she loved him, and I realized she had been under false teaching. She suddenly stopped talking and asked me if I liked him too. She was flustered when I said I did not, but she also was very open to finding out why. She listened. Then she told me she was trying very hard to live for Jesus so that she could be in heaven one day with her husband.

SUDDENLY GOD’S COMPASSION FOR THIS WOMAN WELLED UP IN ME. I stopped her, said her name, and pled with her to listen to the assurances Christ gives us. God was with us. She wept. Then suddenly she saw her hour was up and jumped up to get her coat and respect my boundary.

 

 

SHE WASN’T DIFFICULT AT ALL. I WAS.

I was not fearing God. I was not being the presence of God to my neighbor.

I was shutting up my compassions from one in need.

God with us. Revealed in us. Our Lord is called Emmanuel.

This week I want to begin with the free Keller sermon where he simply takes these three words: God with us.

It is an amazing phrase. It was first spoken by the prophet Isaiah, proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds, and should be the amazement of our lives. Keller said that when John Wesley was dying, his last words were: “The best thing is God with us.”

Yet Keller spends most of his sermon just on the first word, GOD, before he gets to what he calls the “soft” part, that He is with us.

Sunday/Monday

Icebreaker and download free sermon (I’m sorry the other link did not take you to the free sermon): http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/

 

1. Of the paintings above, comment on one and how you think the people or the individual felt. Have you ever experienced that kind of fear? A God-quake? When?

 

2. Comment on Dee’s story with her neighbor. Could you identify? How is God calling you to be His love to someone this Advent?

3. We are half-way through Advent. Have you sensed the presence of God? When?

Tuesday-Friday

4. Listen to the Keller sermon, “God with us” and record your initial thoughts.

5. The bulk of the sermon was on the Word God

A. Jesus is God. Look at Isaiah 9:6 and find evidence from those names that Jesus, indeed, is God.

B. Keller differentiates between a general knowledge of God and an experience of God. He gives examples of Old Testament saints that experienced God.

What stood out to you from this and why?

C. Pray for yourself and each woman reading this blog, that she might have a sense of the holiness of God this week.

 

After all the terrifying experiences when God came near, why, Keller asks, would He now present Himself to us as a helpless baby?

 

REMBRANDT: SIMEON

 

WHAT IS MORE HELPLESS THAN A NEWBORN?

JULIE BRESTIN AND NEWBORN OCTAVIA

 

OR WHAT IS MORE APPROACHABLE THAN A NEWBORN?

YOU CAN’T KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF A NEWBORN BABY!

BIG SISTER TIKI (TEAGHAN) WITH TAVIE (OCTAVIA) AND BABY SADIE IN BACKGROUND

 

6. Keller talks about why, when Christ came, God suddenly becomes approachable. He tells a story of his wife Kathy in traffic court coming with all kinds of pictures and charts — and winning. But that is not how we will approach God on that terrible judgment day. What will be our defense?

7. Read Matthew 1:21-23

A. According to verse 21, why is this baby given the name “Jesus?” Explain how this great truth allows God to be approachable.

B. Approach God now in prayer, knowing He hears you, knowing you are clean in His sight because of the Savior, and ask Him to be near to you this day. Ask Him to help you walk in the light, to be His love.

C. What was the prophecy of Isaiah according to Matthew 1:23, and what does the name Immanuel mean?

 

frankincense God with us

 

Last week at church we sang a new Getty Christmas carol that talked about the prophetic meaning of the gifts of the Magi. Gold meant He was King, and myrrh meant He would die, and frankincense meant He was God with us.

Though I find the fragrance of incense too pungent, I love either the fragrant Christmas balsam candles or the balsam oil you can put in a burner with a tea candle underneath (from Bath and Body) The fragrance wafts up, filling my living room, reminding me:

God is with me.

God is with me.

God is with me.

This will be my first Christmas where the children will all be with their in-laws. (I know I’ll still get to see several sometime during that week.) But I will not be alone. God is with me.

Truly, He is. His presence comes to me through the body of Christ, through the music and fragrance of Christmas, through His glorious Word, and through His Spirit which will never leave me nor forsake me.

God with us.

8. What else impacted you from Keller’s message and why?

 

Saturday

9. How has God been with you this week?

10. What is your take-a-way and why?

Leave a Comment

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330 comments

  1. A. Jesus is God. Look at Isaiah 9:6 and find evidence from those names that Jesus, indeed, is God. Everlasting Father stood out to me. He was always came down and always will be. He is Alpha and Omega. So amazing. He Was and Is and Is to come.

    B. Keller differentiates between a general knowledge of God and an experience of God. He gives examples of Old Testament saints that experienced God. Not remembering old testament at the moment. Remember him talking of all the experience of God appearing and being unapproachable like with Abraham…

    What stood out to you from this and why? So interesting the people who lived with Jesus were willing to die for Christianity. Every other religion says morality and religion is enough. Christianity is unique Son of God had to come and die for you. So different.

    C. Pray for yourself and each woman reading this blog, that she might have a sense of the holiness of God this week. I am going to keep visiting little by little to lift each lady up by name however now Lord, please renew a sense of aw in all of us here for you. Help us see you in your holiness. Help us see you as you are. Help us be inspired to just worship and know we are only clean in You. That You love us so much that You came to make us whole and clean. We love you Lord.

    After all the terrifying experiences when God came near, why, Keller asks, would He now present Himself to us as a helpless baby? God came as a baby because this time He came to die and take the barrier. So interesting. Not as a destroyer but the gentle lamb to take the punishment. WOW! Amazing.

    6. Keller talks about why, when Christ came, God suddenly becomes approachable. He tells a story of his wife Kathy in traffic court coming with all kinds of pictures and charts — and winning. But that is not how we will approach God on that terrible judgment day. What will be our defense? Ha no defense. Our only defense is Christ died in our place. God with us.

  2. Oh just got it! The smoking pot, whirlwind, Moses seeing the backside…His face was shining so brightly from that. Can you imagine if they heard the story of Christ coming as a babe. How exciting to know you can meet God!!! This is what they were waiting for! We have that. That is so amazing. I love that. Now God is with us truly living in us by His Spirit when we accept what He has done for us. Amazing!

  3. Initial sermon notes:
    Before Jesus, God showed up in terrifying ways. When Jesus came He came as a little, intimate, completely open baby and everyone is drawn to a baby. Jesus came and took away the terror, the sin, the fear, the barrier between us and God. Luther moved from a general experience to experiencing God and we must as well.
    The word “with us” was new to me and I love what I saw for the first time. We who come must come without references, without agenda’s but shepherds at heart. It has to do with the way we come before Him. The “us” is always shepherds. If He’s God with us we must get rid of the cynicism. Christmas is all about getting near Him. Whatever it costs to get near Him it will never come close to what it cost Him to come be near us.

    Jesus I pray that what ever it costs me and my sisters to get near you this Christmas that you will enable us to do what it takes. Dr. Keller said we may have to get up early, we may have to give up something but it will be worth any cost. I pray too that this will be a Christmas like never before for each one of us. We invite you to show up as never before and thank you in advance. Amen.

    1. Yes, Thank you, Lord in advance! Thank you, Kim for that:)

      1. This is not me, it is Frankie, my friend that just died. The story is below:)

        1. It is me again!

  4. Maybe you noticed I was absent for several days. A friend at the nursing home died at age 71, sunday. Kendra and I met her like a year and a half ago, because we were visiting my sister-in-law, Mary Kay there so much. Mary Kay is at home now with 24 hr. care, and hospice, but we kept going back to visit Frankie alot and I would bring lots of 12 packs of Coke to her that were on sale, various places. It hurt my bad back, but I never complained, as she was addicted to it for 40 yrs and was her only bad habit and she had to pay someone to get it for her out of an expensive pop machine there. then I was getting her some of her favorite foods and etc….spoiling her pretty bad! But Kendra loved her so, like her grandma she lost,(my mom) and I love her also, because we both loved the Lord so much and would pray and talk about spiritual things. Frankie loved Kendra so much also, because of her mentally challenged mind of a 5 yr. old, very sweet and precious.

    Anyway, over the months of helping and visiting her, I recieved several comments from people at the home that I was being used and caught up in her trap. She had only come there just a few months before we met her. The workers there didn’t like her because she had her mind yet. They like the ones that they can just put to bed and not complain…that don’t know anything. (please forgive me if I’ve stepped on anyone’s toe’s by saying that), but I found that to be very true. Frankie was a very educated women and a direct desentent of Jonathan Edwards…the pastor from the 1800’s famous for his sermon on Hell, still being preached to this day. I learnt so much from Frankie and I think that us meeting was a divine apointment from God.

    I have a very tender heart towards needy people and tend to get myself in alot of trouble sometimes…because they are so needy! My husband warns me all the time, too! I’m the one who will pick up a stray cat or dog, too! Anyway, many people warned me to not do so much for Frankie, but what they didn’t know, was that Frankie was the one doing so much for me:) She told me about her life and all her pain, sorrows, lessons learned, regrets and joy and happiness in her life. Kendra and I both were intriged by her…she was very interesting. She never had kids with her husband and had no family left.

    She has been in and out of the hospital a couple time in the last few months and we would be there for her. I went over and beyond, paying for her cell phone and helping her in other ways. She was like family to us!

    Frankie was very obese and her heart just couldn’t keep up. She suffered with so much pain from a very bad back and could never get comfortable and couldn’t move herself and needed repositioned all the time. She called for help all the time and the CNA’s would not come in for 2-3 hours after her light was on. I was there and know. She would be soaked in urine from an overflowing cathator for 3 days sometimes. I seen this for myself and reported them. I couldn’t help her get comfortable, because my own back is so bad.

    They didn’t like me there so much, because I interupted their gossip, laughing, time, just a few steps away, trying to get them to help her. My heart hurt so bad for Frankie. She collected Nativity scene’s and Angels and Cross’s and books and Christmas time was her favoite time of the year:( She left everything to Kendra and I. So I have been very busy, clearing out her packed room,(with the help of my husband and brother, Dennis) since she died and her funeral is tommarow, 90 miles away, to be buried with her sweet husband. (He was a parapaledic) (sp?) My husband will take Kendra and I to her funeral. All she has is a few friends there from her home town.

    Sorry this is so long, but I needed to tell you all about her. I was sitting with her as she suffered and died for the last 2 days. I read from her bible to her, even tho she was in and out of conciesness (Psalms 119….very long, but she had it yellowed about everywhere in that chapter, so she must of loved it). I remembered she told me about a close friend of her’s that died and she was the only one there for her and Frankie ask her, “Can you see the Angels coming for you?” and her friend opened her eye’s and looked up and died the most peaceful death she had ever seen. She said it was so beautiful. I ask Frankie the same thing, and she looked up also and smiled. But she didn’t die untill the next day. They cleaned her up for me (tubes out and etc) so I could go in after she died and see her. She looked so peaceful and I felt the precence of the Lord and Frankie watching over me. It was a beautiful experience, but we lost a very dear friend. But I know she is no longer in pain or sorrow, and no more tears and death no more. She is with Jesus and in the presence of God! Praise God!!

    I have a houseful of boxes now to go through, of Frankies, but it is a pleasure. What I don’t want, I will donate to friends and the sister’s at the home, as it is a catholic home and the sister’s loved Frankie. So I am rejoicing for Frankie, because she is with our Lord and Savior!!

    1. this touched my heart Joyce, thank you for sharing this story about Frankie!
      I have one suggestion, because Frankie collected so many figurines of angels, maybe in honor of her memory give a figurine to a special person in need on your visits to nursing homes?
      I know if someone gave my father one, he would put it on his dresser with his pictures of family, and would always mention about that person that came to visit him.

      just a thought…God Bless your love for others! Your are an example of “God with Us”!

      1. Thanks Laura, that is a very good idea!

    2. Thanks for sharing this story, Joyce. God bless you for such compassion. Such a sad story about the way the nursing home treated Frankie. Unfortunately, I have seen such callous attitudes and neglect in other nursing homes and in hospitals. We need to pray for and care for our fellow Christians who are in nursing homes and hospitals. We also need to pray for Christians who work in nursing homes and hospitals that they will not give in to the hardness of heart that is around them. Only God can give ongoing compassion in difficult, demanding working conditions such as these.

      1. So true, Diane. And this nursing home is one of the best here:(

    3. I have been wondering where you have been Joyce. I have missed you. Our prayer warrior. I amso very sorry for your loss. What a wonderful example of a woman who finished well even under all the suffering endured. I know she was thankful for you. I cannot even imagine that kind of life. I know it was good for Kendra too. Such a great example. Praying for you now. May God comfort you all and may you have wisdom and discernment as you sort and may your back be in good shape to do it. Love to you.

      1. Thank you, Angela…hope your having better days.

    4. Joyce, we have missed you. I thought maybe you were busy with Dennis and Mary Kay. I am really sorry about Frankie. It is just horrible that she was treated as she was. You and Kendra were wonderful blessings to her. I am glad for the way you stood up to those nurses for her. I am sure that her care improved after they saw that you were watching. What a wonderful friend you were for her.

      1. Who did you report them to?

        1. Thank you, Anne. I just looked on google where to report abuse in nursing homes in NE and it popped up, State of Nebraska nursing home abuse hotline.. I reported them and the head administrator was fired and also the head nurse and things are much better now with the new people running it. Frankie never got to see that it was improving tho as she was in so much pain the last couple months, she didn’t notice.

        2. Joyce, you did a very good thing. It is hard when people lose their jobs but that was abuse. Just think of the helpless people who will not suffer as Frankie did because of your faithfulness. I’m glad too that it did not close because then where would the sisters go? God’s hand is evident in the whole affair from you and Kendra meeting Frankie to new management for the home.

      2. We visit Dennis and Mary Kay every other evening also, just 14 miles from us. Tonight Dennis was especially sad and weiry and lonly. I keep praying I will see a difference in him, but I know he is devistated watching her slowly die. I just want him to have hope of being with her in heaven and just trust in God. I keep praying for him and all our special ones we picked for those special prayer’s:)

      1. Thank you so much, Dee. Today was draining, as we went to her funeral and Kendra took it pretty hard (too close to losing grandma) I know it’s a good experience for her and we talk about heaven, but her sadness is painful for us to see:(

        Thank you for your prayer’s, everyone, as I need them so much. I am helping a very needy 17 yr. old girl who has a 1 yr. old boy and pregnant with the same drugy boyfriend’s baby (due in June), who just got out of jail and is in rehab now. She has no car, job or anything. She’s bleeding me dry, emotionally and everything else:) I need to listen to my husband and just say “No”, but I can’t!

  5. I wanted to mention that the sister’s at the home have no say anymore about anything. They started the home a hundred years ago ane would do all the work themselves, but it was sold several years ago and is run by a Company, but the sister’s stay there free and just pray for other’s and have mass and whatever else they do. Frankie was kinda methodist and catholic towards the end. The sister’s could see what was going on with Frankie’s neglect, but couldn’t change anything…they tried. But my point is….I was told to not help Frankie, as she was too needy, by lots of people, but like Dee and her neighbor, I felt the Lord pulling me to her and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the others. This is a picture of Frankie on her 71st birthday party May 11th of this year.

    1. Bless your heart, Joyce and Kendra for reaching out to this lonely woman. Thank you for sharing this with us. Won’t it be wonderful to meet her as a whole person in heaven someday? What a reunion.

      1. Yes Kim! Praise God!!!

    2. Joyce, What wonderful examples of sacrificial love you and Kendra are!

      I’m glad you added that the Sisters didn’t have anything to do with the care. I’m appalled at the treatment Frankie received…. Sounds like the place needs to be sold again, shut down, or have major changes.

    3. you truly amaze me Joyce–such an example of selfless love. I am so sorry Frankie suffered as she did, what a gift God brought her in you–pulling you in to care for her and let Him love on her through you until she could go Home. He truly used your giftedness of compassion to bless His child, just as He uses you in Kendra’s life. I will continue to pray for you Joyce–you must be exhausted emotionally.I’m so glad you’re back here though~

      1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Frankie requested no photo’s of her and no flower’s or lunch, but it was a sweet and simple service. Just one red rose and her rosery in her hands. She looked beautiful and peaceful. Guess what song they played? I cried, when a man sang, “Amazing Grace” and “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL” I thought of all of you and what we learned about how that song came to be, from you, Dee. And when Steve was ill and how painful that song was for you and the kids, Dee.

  6. 6. Keller talks about why, when Christ came, God suddenly becomes approachable. He tells a story of his wife Kathy in traffic court coming with all kinds of pictures and charts — and winning. But that is not how we will approach God on that terrible judgment day. What will be our defense?

    I did nothing on my own to achieve God’s righteousness-to meet His standards of holiness, so I will have nothing of my own merit to bring to him to gain his acceptance. God will accept me only because of what Jesus Christ has done for me.

  7. Okay, this is the 3rd time I have tried to post this message….frustrating.

    A. Jesus is God. Look at Isaiah 9:6 and find evidence from those names that Jesus, indeed, is God.

    6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    My dad died when I was 13. I just found out that he was an alcoholic and I don’t want to ask my mom to confirm because she is old and I don’t want to bring her anymore pain. Dad was also a professional musician, believer and the choir director at our church. This verse reminds me of him because he always had Christmas performances. here it is on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS3vpAWW2Zc

    The 2 minute mark is awesome!

    Thank you Lord for beautiful music, musicians, and choirs.

    1. Laura-Dancer, This was just beautiful!!

    2. I love this song! It gives me chills!

      I got the opportunity to attend a presentation of Handel’s Messiah for the first time in my life last Saturday. Live orchestra and mass choir as well as professional soloists. It was absolutely amazing! A live orchestra and huge choir was so, so beautiful. It was held on the campus of a local Christian University in a small town that does not usually have such big, well-done productions. It was an AWESOME! I had listened to Messiah previously several times on CD and have heard bits and pieces of it since childhood as my Mom used to always listen to it every year. But this live presentation was in another league altogether.

      Another GOD MOMENT for me this Christmas!

      1. Awesome!! Your message brought tears to my eyes…I love that we can have memories that are vivid. God is good! My dad used to play the piano (we always had several pianos in the house) and I would walk in the door from school to him “belting out” something like Mozart or Schubert on the baby grand. It was amazing.

    3. I saw a performance of Messiah this year for the 2nd time. The first time it was a little long and not all of the music is beautiful. Only this time did I realize that it is all scripture put together to illustrate the coming of the Messiah in music. It is a work of contrasts between the dark hopelessness of human condition and the light of God’s glory in providing redemption. A yearly tradition is possible for me because of where I live and I plan to do it. It is something that can really help you focus on the Lord at Christmas.

      1. You know, silly ms never thought I could go hear it for “real!” it was always my dads work only! I guess I never thought about it much until Dee brought me back to it this week. Thanks Dee! I live near Boston. Surely some entity puts this on? I need to check now! But, the problem I find is that everyone rushes to Christmas and things are usually all done by now. My husband and I have our 22nd wedding anniversary next week and it would be so nice to go to a performance.

        1. Hope you find a place that offers the Messiah. You may be right that you are too late to go this year. Anne is right in saying that most of the words are right from Scripture. The depth of the Scripture meaning with the classical music is very powerful.

        2. Guess what?! I mentioned to my husband how I would like to go to the Messiah this year and he jumped on yesterday and found a church in Manchester (Nh) that performs it every year! It’s Sunday night, so we are going! How fun, I can’t wait 🙂

    4. thank you for this Laura dancer–beautiful!!

    1. Dee! LOVE LOVE the idea of video blogs! Wow! Sorry for my over-enthusiasm, but that is a great idea. Also, love how they picked up on the title Stonecutter and how most don’t see they have stones that need cutting-or idolatry. Great insight. God is really moving to make this book more approachable for women-so they will be gently drawn into this truth. God knows hearts and is leading you to how He wants it done! Wow, God is with you indeed-so exciting!

      1. Oh, and so happy for the date- October 23rd, 2012! Yeah!

      2. Ditto to what Rebecca said 🙂

    2. This is so exciting, Dee. I, too, like the idea of Video blogs that women can download. That even works for small churches such as mine that does not have internet hookup. It could be downloaded at home and played at the church! Also, this is more affordable that expensive CDs.

      I will be in prayer about the title. God knows what the title should be and may he lead.

    3. This all sounds so good! What a praise!! Now praying for it all to come to completion and the process, title, etc. For I know this next part will be as equally tiring.

  8. 6. Keller talks about why, when Christ came, God suddenly becomes approachable. He tells a story of his wife Kathy in traffic court coming with all kinds of pictures and charts — and winning. But that is not how we will approach God on that terrible judgment day. What will be our defense? Jesus Christ and the blood that he shed for me!

  9. I have been able to read and pray for you all, but this week is so busy—I started the sermon but haven’t gotten through it yet, though I am eager to!

    Joyce—I am so sorry to hear about Frankie, I remember you mentioning her before, and the connection to Jonathan Edwards, and the special bond you share with her. I’m so sorry.

    Dee, I am THRILLED at the report—seeing God’s blessing on you and your words, their receptiveness–wow. We will continue to pray. I loved the Stoncutter title when we discussed your ideas months ago—because I love that the title references Christ right away. I liked that it didn’t sound like self help or something we could do–it is about HIM, He is the Stonecutter, it is His name! (If you changed the name, I’d still fully support–I’m just a little passionate about it 😉
    And oh, the videos?! THAT part gave me goosebumps–you have such a gift of speaking so warmly, so gentle but firm, a tender warrior–your videos make me want to come closer, listen deeper…I SO see God’s blessing on this!

    I wanted to share something with y’all I just learned today—it has blessed me. Many of you may know this already, but I just read that in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” the Greek word for “handiwork” there is poiema—where we get our English word “poem”. We are God’s poem. I loved that—a poem is such a powerful outpouring of the soul—and we are that to Him. Just lingering on it & wanted to share.

    1. Elizabeth, have you ever heard this song by Michael Card? http://youtu.be/ofaLGuviY5w

      1. Anne, I like Michael Card. The link is slightly incorrect.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofaLGuviY5w&feature=youtu.be

        (How do I get a link onto my comment without ‘copy and paste’?)

        1. oh WOW–THANK YOU! I love Michael Card–but have never heard that before–he always brings me tears, beautiful lyrics.

        2. Love that, Diane!

    2. I love that picture that we are His poem. WOW

      1. We are His “poem” … Beautiful!

    3. Love that, Elizabeth!

    4. I love your Revelation of Ephesians 2:10! I would like to share it with some of my friends on FaceBook.
      My Pastor last night asked to see a show of hands on who is independantly doing Bible studies…very few raised their hands. He said this made him sad because they are only doing their ownselves harm to not read and seek out God through the Word. How are you ever going to have a full knowledge of God?
      That is why I enjoy reading this blog and doing independent study, then sharing with someone. Your have to have a “hunger” for His Word.

  10. I just heard that The Toronto Film Critics Association has named The Tree of Life as the best film of 2011, and its maker, Terrence Malick, as best director. I still haven’t seen it but its good to see that it is being recognized.

  11. hey all–this is hard–i don’t want to take attention–but we need prayer coverage. i just found out as in 5 min ago ,though this morning we were aware something was up–oh help, i really don’t feel i can write details right now–please pray for my 8 yr old daughter.please pray–thank you all so much, don’t want to be dramatic, just need prayer, wisdom, we may need to see a counselor on this issue, and i am resistant, so pray my husband and i will be wose–am waiting for him to get home

    1. Praying Elizabeth!

      1. Elizabeth, Prayed for you as soon as I woke up this morning.

    2. I’m praying right now, Elizabeth. God, give Elizabeth your peace in this situation. Help her and her husband to be wise. Be with her daughter in this crisis. Do your work, Lord Jesus. We give it to you.

    3. Elizabeth, I am praying for you and your 8 year-old daughter, I have copied below some wonderful Scripture-based prayers which have been so helpful to me in difficult situations, I pray they will be a comfort to you at this time…

      PRAYING GOD’S WORD–TOP TEN NEEDS—HOW TO PRAY SCRIPTURE CONCERNING THEM:

      SALVATION. Romans 10:9–that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. Romans 10:13–for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
      “Lord, I confess with my mouth Jesus as Lord, and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. I am calling upon Your name alone to save me.”

      DIRECTION. James 1:5–But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
      “Lord, I don’t know what to do in this situation (name the situation). I don’t have a clue. But, I am asking You to show me what to do and how and when to do it. Thank You for answering my prayer and allowing me to keep coming back to You for direction.”

      FORGIVENESS—GETTING IT FROM GOD. I John 1:9–If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
      “Lord, I am admitting my sin to You (Name the sin/sins). I take full responsibility. I blame no one but me. Thank You that You are faithful every time to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from what I have done wrong. Help me to never do this again.”

      FORGIVENESS—GIVING IT TO OTHERS. Mark 11:25–“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.
      “Lord, I come to You and I choose by an act of my will, to release (name that person) from my unforgiving grip. I give up my right to hurt (name that person) back. Thank You God that You now have the freedom to forgive me.”

      FEAR. John 14:27–“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. Isaiah 43:2–“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. II Timothy 1:7–For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
      “Lord, thank you for giving me Your Peace in the midst of my fear storm. I know I can’t find it anywhere else. I refuse to let my heart be troubled and filled with fear by all I see. I believe that when I pass through the waters of trouble, You will be with me. I believe that when I go through the flood of trials, I will not drown. I believe that when I walk through the fire of adversity I will not be burned because of You. I know that being afraid never comes from You.”

      WORRY. Philippians 4:6–Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. I Peter 5:7–Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.
      “Lord, I choose not to worry about (Name what you are worried about), because You told me not to. I trust You. I trust Your timing. Instead of worrying, I am going to worship You and ask You to take care of this. I thank You for the answer in advance. Thank You for how You are going to deal with this. I roll all my worries over onto You. I give it to You and I leave it with You.”

      TEMPTATION. I Corinthians 10:13–No temptation [trial, testing] has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted [tried, tested] beyond what you are able, but with the temptation [trial, testing] will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
      “Lord, Thank You that no temptation can come my way that is new to You. Thank You that You will not allow more temptation into my life than I can—in Your power—say “No” to. Thank You for always making a way of escape—placing an Exit—over every temptation. Help me to look for those ways of escape.”

      HEALING. Jeremiah 17:14–Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For Thou art my praise. Psalm 103:1-3–Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases.
      “Lord, You alone have the power to heal me of (you fill-in-the-blank). I praise You and thank You for all the benefits You offer. You alone can heal disease. I am asking You to heal me (you may insert someone else’s name) completely. I therefore, put my condition (or condition of the one you are praying for) into Your hands. I trust whatever You decide. No matter what, I will look to You.”

      DELIVERANCE. John 8:32–and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:36–“If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
      “Lord, I accept the truth of Your Word. I agree with You about the mess I am in. It is my own fault. I am now acting upon the truth of Your Word, believing it will set me free from these chains of bondage. Jesus, I believe You alone can and will deliver me.”

      NEEDS. Matthew 6:33–“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Philippians 4:19–And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
      “Lord, I seek You and getting totally right with You first. I make You number one in my life. Therefore, I am trusting You to bring everything together to meet my needs. You know my need for (you fill-in-the-blank). I am depending upon what You said concerning meeting my every need because of what Jesus has done. I am enthusiastically looking for Your answer.”

      1. Beth, I didn’t get a chance yesterday to thank you for this–saw it late last night, and printed it out–what a treasure–and so helpful, especially when I feel I can’t even find the words, it’s so great to have these truths ready. I’m going to keep it un-filed and easy to find 😉

    4. Praying Elizabeth!

    5. I’m praying for you and your family, Elizabeth!

    6. Oh dear sweet Elizabeth. I am so sorry for this trial you all are experiencing with your sweet 8 year old. I am glad whatever it is has been brought to light, that you will be able to get through this in HIM. Praying you and your husband will be of one mind and united. That you will have wisdom and discernment. That you will have peace from the Prince of Peace. That He will comfort you. That you will know His love for you all through this. So sorry. Interceding for the life of your child now. Crying out to God. My heart hurts for you. I can feel your pain through your words. I wish I could just sit with you. Keep us posted.

    7. Praying Elizabeth!

      1. Me Too:)

  12. Dee you had a manager a while back who left to go on the mission field. I think it was a small country maybe in the middle east…I forget the name I know it will come to me eventually. Well, she comes to my mind off and on now and again and I wondered have you heard from her? Is she doing ok? Thought I would ask since God brought her to my thoughts again. Sometimes I believe our sole purpose of interactions are for prayer support. I knew I would probably never see her again but she was a treasure and God still brings her to mind, cool huh?

      1. Thanks that would be great!!

  13. A. According to verse 21, why is this baby given the name “Jesus?” Explain how this great truth allows God to be approachable.

    “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”

    Well, I suppose we want to be near Him because He is so gifted. We know we need help and He is the only one who can help us in our dire circumstances so we cry out to Him and hope He hears us.

    B. Approach God now in prayer, knowing He hears you, knowing you are clean in His sight because of the Savior, and ask Him to be near to you this day. Ask Him to help you walk in the light, to be His love.

    Dear Lord, I need you always. I want you always. I am faithful but not perfect. I am a sinner. I know you are forgiving and love me no matter what. This is good and undeserving. Please continue to guide me and love me. Be with me. in the quiet of the morning remember my goodness and walk with me through the day. Show me your presence and help mento know your power. Thank you Jesus for being a forgiving, loving God. Amen

    C. What was the prophecy of Isaiah according to Matthew 1:23, and what does the name Immanuel mean?

    23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

    1. Laura-dancer–your heart’s prayer is beautiful–seeing so much of Him at work in you

  14. 7. Read Matthew 1:21-23

    A. According to verse 21, why is this baby given the name “Jesus?” Explain how this great truth allows God to be approachable.

    His name is Jesus because he will save us from our sins. God is holy and can’t be in the presence of sin so we are unable to approach him, but because Jesus took on our sins on the cross and covered them, we can!

    B. Approach God now in prayer, knowing He hears you, knowing you are clean in His sight because of the Savior, and ask Him to be near to you this day. Ask Him to help you walk in the light, to be His love.

    How I need to pray this way this morning. Thanks so much!

    C. What was the prophecy of Isaiah according to Matthew 1:23, and what does the name Immanuel mean?

    The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son and He will be called Immanuel. Immanuel means “God with us.”

  15. 7. Read Matthew 1:21-23

    A. According to verse 21, why is this baby given the name “Jesus?” Explain how this great truth allows God to be approachable. Becasue he will save us from all of our sins. God cant be approachable when we sin.. he cant be near sin.. so when we are living in the light.. he is approachable.

    B. Approach God now in prayer, knowing He hears you, knowing you are clean in His sight because of the Savior, and ask Him to be near to you this day. Ask Him to help you walk in the light, to be His love. Lord, I pray that you would help me to walk in the light to be your love especially to my mom Lord I am having such a hard time with her.. please soften her heart Lord and mine also, Help me to be loving to her.

    C. What was the prophecy of Isaiah according to Matthew 1:23, and what does the name Immanuel mean? The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel which means “God with us”

  16. 7. Read Matthew 1:21-23

    A. According to verse 21, why is this baby given the name “Jesus?” Explain how this great truth allows God to be approachable. Well it means God with us and he will save His people from their sins. That makes Him approachable.

    B. Approach God now in prayer, knowing He hears you, knowing you are clean in His sight because of the Savior, and ask Him to be near to you this day. Ask Him to help you walk in the light, to be His love. AMEN! God please be near. You are near the broken, you are live inside your people. Help me and the others sense your presence in a new way. Help me and the others walk in your light and be your love.

    C. What was the prophecy of Isaiah according to Matthew 1:23, and what does the name Immanuel mean? God with us. A virgin will conceive and give birth to a son. So amazing!! 🙂

    Love experiencing this anew with the kids as we read advent Scriptures together. Their sense of wonder helps me see it too. I keep thinking of that when Keller spoke of this familiar story how we need to pray to sense it anew.

    Dee I know being alone will be hard for Christmas but I love that you clearly see God is with you so you are not alone. Praying this for you. I know it is not the same but my husband feels some rejection from his family asking him not to come for Christmas this year as he planned. He cried talking to them. They are going through rough times now and are not believers. They cannot handle the company but my husband desperately wants to comfort them. I will remind him too God is with you. Different situation but both can feel like rejection if we let them.

    Please pray for me today if you read this. At 1:30 a 7th cavity supposedly is going to be filled. A real source of mouth pain. It is most likely lyme related. It is suspicious on the xrays they are not certain what they will see exactly. It is around the nerve that is super sensitive to air, cold, etc. Last time when working on that area it did not numb and I felt the drilling, filling, etc. I cried in the chair. HORRIBLE! Pray all goes well this time. I have a pain pill to take before hand this time though so atleast it will take care of some of it. And of course I have anxiety about it. I don’t want it but I do. Bad experiences seem to do that. Trying to give it to God though. 🙂 Love you all!!

    1. I am sorry for your husband. I am praying God comforts him. I am also concerned about you. I cannot fathom what you are suffering. I hope it comforts you to know that at different times of the day God impresses me to pray for you. He loves you so, Angela and I just wanted to remind you of it. Sending love, prayer and hugs.

      1. That means so much. Thank you for telling me Kim. Sometimes I ask God to dispatch intercessors on my behalf….I know it sounds strange but I know scripture says Paul was helped by people’s prayers.

    2. oh Angela–how did it go? Praying for you dear friend. I have to tell you, there is a car in my neighborhood that has a bumper sticker that says something about lyme awareness…anyway, I have prayed for you ‘extra” every time I see it, which seems to be more and more! love you so~

      1. Thx for asking. It nt real well. All numbed and taken care of. Gave some ideas as to rebuild teeth and fix sensitivities. Hopeful.

        1. Great answer to prayer!

  17. Angela, I’ve been praying for you this week and will continue to pray. That lyme is some very nasty stuff when it becomes chronic. And from what I understand, it takes almost as much perseverance to find a physician who understands it as it does to put up with all the pain. Am praying, too, that you have found/will find some treatment to slow or stop its progression.

    1. Thanks so much Renee. You are right. I am 10 hours away from a lyme literate doctor. I am doing this on my own now. It is kind of scary. But God provided a lady to walk through it with me. I am doing natural antibiotics. for 6 mos then if it does not help going back to the doc that is 10 hours away. Gotta find someone to work with him here though. Another obstacle. Plus I really need to test my kids because I birthed them while sick and now evidence is coming out that it passes on through placenta. Such a big mess. But God is in control. The teeth and jaw are the major issues now. The doc in Missouri said there is an infection that gets in the jaw line that they are now seeing that can cause these cavities. This will be my 7th. Never before had them til Lyme. I eat pretty well too so it is insane. Anyway, it is frustrating and long drawn out journey! I appreciate the cares and concern so much. Many don’t understand at all. I look “well” on the outside so people just don’t get it and get real impatient. Like crossing the street and stuff. My legs are not working well and I am slow. People want fast…It is funny really and I was so like that until I was forced to be slow. 🙂 Thanks for the time to vent. 🙂 Look forward to getting to know you more Renee.

      1. Thanks for giving more information on your struggle with Lyme’s and doctor search. I will be praying for you today that you will not have too much pain at the dentist, and that you will rest in the Lord. My heart goes out to you.

      2. Angela, Regarding lyme…I know someone else with it: jaw, cavities, arthritis, various organ systems — and horrendous pain. They did track down a treatment which reminds me of “mad scientist” stuff! I could post my email address if you want more info. So sorry to hear that it might have passed through the placenta.

        I don’t think the ticks had figured out lyme disease yet in Jesus’ day!! But so good to know GOD WITH US now.

        1. Yes let me know your email address.

        2. reneeo at brookings dot net 🙂

  18. Hoping to be on here tonight or tomorrow night. A few days ago, I looked at several of Blake’s pieces on Job a little more (I thought some of it was creepy). Have listened to Keller’s sermon a couple of times, and God is using last week’s posting on the Alpha and Omega to re-orient my thinking.

    Yesterday I spent 13 hours straight finishing up grading a set of papers (I did move to put something in microwave). Meetings back to back all day today. Right now, living in the day of Jesus and walking everywhere sounds good 🙂 I’m not into using work to avoid anything, but I’ve had a taste of Christmas-related grief popping through. I don’t know if all the work is good or bad, but I’m very thankful for Emmanuel in the work. And thankful that work will lighten up in the next few days!

    1. Praying you will find rest in His arms and comfort. Yes living in Jesus day does sound good. 🙂

    2. Renee what do you teach? I am also a teacher and dread grading papers! I can’t imagine 13 hours straight! Are you already on Christmas break? Lucky you; we only get 1 full week this year because Christmas falls on a Sunday. Also, these days there are so many other breaks, so they shorten the typical holidays (unfortunately).

      A typical weekend is about one full day working. This weekend is pretty light – only 200 papers plus lessons for next week. I have learned to do my work in bits or I go crazy. I have 300 that I left at work because I actually would like to spend some time with my family this weekend! I won’t do this job too much longer; it is way too hard as I get older. That’s why I am working on my masters in geoscience. I was a geologist before I was a teacher and I plan to go back to the field.

      Merry Christmas Renee!

      1. Laura, I teach human development and gerontology related courses at a university. I didn’t have much choice about the 13 hours 🙂 I’d already graded half of them, and I knew the only way I’d get through them was to “just do it!” Sometimes, this is an assignment I enjoy reading, but this semester more students waited until finals week to decide they needed to pass a class. I’m almost done grading for the semester, just waiting for some stray portions of assignments to be submitted.

        One of the things I like about teaching is that semesters have a start and end date. A couple years ago, I decided that the only way I was going to survive was to buy myself out of some of the teaching by getting some grants. During break, I’ll catch up with some other parts of my job. But I try not to work as much during weekends when I’m supposed to be on vacation.

        I think geoscience and geology sound VERY interesting! My background is pretty diverse, partly because I love to learn and find so many disciplines interesting. This could be interpreted as “I’m very unfocused” or “I don’t know what I want to do” (and those interpretations have sometimes been true). But now, I’m seeing God is using all that variety to bring me to settings & situations for which I’ve been well prepared. No single degree could have prepared me!

        Like you, I wonder if I’m too old for the teaching/grading, etc. When I see colleagues start to think this way, it’s not too long until they retire. I know some people who have started counting the days until retirement when they start jobs! This past summer, for the first time, I calculated how many years until I might qualify for early retirement (it was long enough that I didn’t bother to try to remember). But I’ve been blessed with variety at work, just sometimes can’t keep up with the sheer amount that I get myself into.

  19. 4. Listen to the Keller sermon, “God with us” and record your initial thoughts.

    Things have been so busy here that I have only just listened to Keller’s sermon. My initial reaction is the amazing comparison between how God appeared to people in the Old Testament as terrible, frightening and that they might fall down as though dead, compared to how God appeared in Jesus as a helpless little inviting baby. Sometimes I think we need a little more of the fear that they had in the Old Testament because we do not take Jesus seriously enough. But the terror of God in the OT did not change their hearts. However Jesus came to die for us and came into our hearts and change us so that we might approach a holy God with confidence and worship Him and live for Him with eager joy and gladness. It’s so amazing!

  20. B. Keller differentiates between a general knowledge of God and an experience of God. He gives examples of Old Testament saints that experienced God.
    What stood out to you from this and why?

    Because I grew up in a Christian, very religious family surrounded by primarily religious people, I can really relate to how a person can have a lot of knowledge about God and think that they are serving God, doing all the right things, and yet not really KNOW God. I have heard the message of salvation by grace, and yet am seeing it new again through this Bible study. I think I believed that salvation is by faith alone, but that living here and now is by hard work, doing the right thing (in other words, MY responsibility). I did not have a true sense of resting in God, allowing HIM to do the work through me. There was always a sense of not being good enough. Oh, how hard I tried, but always felt I fell short. My view is beginning to change. Now I pray for guidance and rest in Him that he will use me. Whether there is success, by my definition, does not matter. God is at work and I am his helper. I don’t need to see the whole picture. I can submit to His wisdom and not always strive to control the outcome.

    1. Wow, Diane, this is a huge breakthrough! He is giving you a heart of flesh! 🙂

  21. just wanted to say thank you all so much for the prayers–I realized last night this may be the quake I have been praying for in my little 8 yr old–lots of disobedience, sneaking… has come to light, but also lots of brokenness, and tears–for both of us. I was just thinking how when God brings a quake there is this period (now) when we feel like our whole world has been shaken up, things I wanted to deny are brought to light–we are exposed, raw, vulnerable–but then, that is where we become mold-able, isn’t it? Where the dried up play-dough is made soft again and He breaks and re-makes…it’s just the in-between, the now, is so unstable feeling, all day I keep saying “God with us”…He is here, in this, and He heals.
    I finished the sermon just now–timing was perfect for me to hear it. Love you all

    1. Will keep praying, Elizabeth, for you and your daughter. I understand perfectly what you mean by a quake being a shaking time when you feel raw, vulnerable and moldable. That is what has been happening to me too. It is scarey but God is With Us. He is always working. Rest in Him.

    2. I am learning quakes are so crucial to our growth and God uses them to refine us as you stated so well, yet God is with us in the midst of the pain-He comforts too, as He refines. You are special to God Elizabeth-a delicate, beautiful flower He has crafted-and I know He will protect you and hold you up in your vulnerability and in your loneliness of being at a loss as to how to proceed, and it is so encouraging to hear how you are speaking truth to your soul and not closing up-but being vulnerable before him-letting him have you-such Grace-He won’t forsake you, yes He is with you! 🙂

      1. thank you dear friends, and I am praying for you too Diane. Rebecca, you are so wise–these quakes are crucial to growth. I just keep noticing it’s so easy to fall down in the midst of them–but maybe that’s part of the Plan–get us low, humble, on our knees!

        1. Elizabeth, OH I can SO RELATE! I need Jesus so much. I am always one step away from falling down in the midst of our struggles with our boys and my husband’s two jobs and I am so thankful for how He enters into the middle of my messes, as he is yours right now. I am also thankful that we can hold one another up in prayer. 🙂

    3. Love that perspective Elizabeth still praying

  22. 4. Listen to the Keller sermon, “God with us” and record your initial thoughts.
    Oh this was so timely.
    1. Jesus is GOD. The Creator King, He owns us. And every sin we commit is against Him—which is why only He can forgive every sin. He claimed to be God, and His followers believed—proof that He is who He says He is.
    Every other religion says morality and goodness is enough—but Christianity says no—we need a Teacher, not just teaching—we need HIM.

    Ok, side tangent here,and don’t laugh, but my husband and mine’s (sorry–terrible at grammar) latest nightly TV escape (used to be home shows) is now the Waltons—we’re hooked. There is an amazing one about an orphan boy and the final scene, he looks at the dad and says “I want HIM!”…sorry, but it’s been on my heart throughout this—he trusted in the dad and felt safe, accepted…his passion was for him only. And as I heard this sermon I kept thinking—I want Him!

    2. God is WITH us—we have a personal relationship with Him. When God showed up as Jesus, He did not come as a blazing bush, but a completely accessible, vulnerable, baby. Jesus takes away the barrier!

    3. God is with US. This implies a narrow exclusivity—it is not “God with all” or ‘God with moral people’…the “us” are the shepherds, the humble, the outcasts, those with no credentials, no reason to be accepted.

    This was the big part for me right now–if Jesus is God with us, this takes off the limitations we put on Jesus. Our problems, our struggles, this major icky issue we’re dealing with in my daughter—He is bigger, weightier, God is with us. And then even more important—how am I drawing near to Him—or what am I letting get in the way? Sometimes it’s lack of discipline—I don’t feel like a quiet time because I want to be more productive (ha!-what am I thinking?) sometimes I’m tired, I’m impatient and just want a “nugget” from Him that will solve my problem….sometimes I want Him to just fix it more than I want to just sit with Him in it.

    But lately, He seems to be bring me to THIS place—where I am today—emotionally spent, eyes dried up from trying to read up on this latest issue and crying so much…I am weak, and all I really can do today is sit.

    About 2 hours ago, I was doing just that, kneeling beside my bed, too spent to have words to pray, but tears fell, and I turned to go out to find my daughter and there she was at my door, watching me. I held her a long time. I told her I wish I could give her enough love to fill her up so she wouldn’t want to do what she’s been doing anymore…it just came out, but then I prayed in my head that He will do that—and He does have enough love to fill to over-flowing.

    So maybe that’s what I need to get—as we keep learning, I’m just S L O W to get it—go to Him, just to sit, just to take Him in, not for some fix for my problems, not to check it off the list, not even to answer my study, but to be with Him, and let Him love on me. He wants that—that tender relationship with me—that’s why He came.

    About 2 hours ago, I was doing just that, kneeling beside my bed, too spent to have words to pray, but tears fell, and I turned to go out to find my daughter and there she was at my door, watching me. I held her a long time. I told her I wish I could give her enough love to fill her up so she wouldn’t want to do what she’s been doing anymore…it just came out, but then I prayed in my head that He will do that—and He does have enough love to fill to over-flowing.

    So maybe that’s what I need to get—as we keep learning, I’m just S L O W to get it—go to Him, just to sit, just to take Him in, not for some fix for my problems, not to check it off the list, not even to answer my study, but to be with Him, and let Him love on me. He wants that—that tender relationship with me—that’s why He came.

    1. Elizabeth, I’m in that same S L O W club. But isn’t it wonderful that He is so patient and loving? Your description is so clear — just be with Him. Emmanuel, God with us.

    2. That was so precious, Elizabeth:) God intented that to happen.

  23. Oh my-so sorry! I had left off the last 2 paragraphs initially, and when I went to add them, it repeated everything–feel terrible, so sorry, one of those days! :[

    1. Elizabeth, that was worth repeating! It was beautiful. I have found God so faithful with Joey’s heart but it seems I have to get to the end of myself first. I like what you said in an earlier post about the cycle of crisis followed by the Lord coming near. I wonder if the surrender opens the door to Him. I am sorry about your pain but excited about how the Lord is coming near. Oh, and I love the Waltons too.

  24. Oh, Elizabeth, you are teaching me so much. “Go to Him, just to sit, just to take Him in, not for some fix for my problems, not to check it off the list, not even to answer my study, but to be with Him, and let Him love on me. He wants that—that tender relationship with me—that’s why He came.” I pray with you.

    1. Diane, YES!!! Loved what Elizabeth wrote here too! Love seeing her respond in drawing nearer to God-God with us- and He wants her to respond back to Him-Elizabeth is responding back to Him, letting Him have her in the midst-how the Gospel is transforming us.

  25. I’m working on my lesson, but want to skip ahead to 5 C–I was just listening to this and this is my heart’s prayer, for all of us:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfcMGOWUD4w

    Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

    1. Come Thou long-expected Jesus
    Born to set Thy people free;
    From our fears and sins release us,
    Let us find our rest in Thee.
    Israel’s strength and consolation,
    Hope of all the saints Thou art;
    Dear desire of every nation,
    Joy of every longing heart.

    2. Born Thy people to deliver,
    Born a child and yet a King,
    Born to reign in us forever,
    Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
    By Thine own eternal Spirit
    Rule in all our hearts alone;
    By Thine all sufficient merit,
    Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

    1. Thank you! Every line is powerful. I listened to the more traditional tune a couple of times, too. Charles Wesley — amazing how God works through people in ways that last for centuries (and not just people from Bible times!)

  26. I wanted to give everyone an update on my daughter Sarah. She is about 20 days away from being finished with high school however she was suspended today for being “in contact” (twitter) with a girl she isn’t supposed to be in contact with at all. Sarah told me the girl was “tweeting” her repeatedly and she didn’t know who it was. I told her she shouldn’t answer at all but she said she wouldnt stop and it was driving Sarah crazy. She showed the dean the messages and the girl was suspended as well. It is frustrating because Sarah doesn’t know how to be adult like and just ignore; she gets caught up in the drama. I told Sarah that when I get a call from a number I don’t know that i just don’t answer it and they can leave a message if it’s important. She is young and social issues are a problem for her; she just doesn’t know how to react to situations appropriately.

    Anyway, we are nearly done with this thing and I can’t wait! It is a daily struggle. Please pray that Sarah makes it through the end (she has an important essay to write as well for graduation) and she realizes how important the diploma is to her life. Pray she will want to find a job ( and listen to her parents ) so we will know she is serious about cosmetology school. This is my husbands’ requirement for us to spend the money on the school. Sarah doesn’t think she should have to work. I figured out the daily fee for the school is 80 dollars so we thought if she didn’t go to school one day she would have to pay the money for the day.

    1. Will be praying Laura-Dancer!

    2. Praying, Laura-dancer. You need so much patience. I like your ideas of giving boundaries for Sarah concerning the cosmetology school (her working and paying you if she does not attend school). Concrete consequences, I like it.

    3. Praying Laura. I just keep thinking about how God will make things right one day. People don’t understand special needs so often especially if you cannot see it.

    4. Praying Laura. That is a good idea and I am praying for more wise ideas for how you can motivate her. Does she think that she should not have to work while going to school or that she should not have to work at all?

    5. Laura, I am praying for you and Sarah…only God knows the answers, so sorry.

    6. Laura Dancer, I wanted you to know I am praying for Sarah-I prayed for her and you this morning.

      With my son Isaac I can relate with the social issue thing. I recall you saying Sarah struggled with friendships in the past in her Naivety-so does my son Isaac. He too doesn’t react to social situations appropriately. 🙁 It is something that when I think about it, it breaks my heart for him. I can’t understand why other kids don’t just love him, but my husband reminded me last night that I can’t be so hard on other kids. He does do weird things stemming wise and even though we have trained him not to do certain things in public, he still forgets he is in public and does them every now and then. This turns kids off to him. They don’t know how to respond to him. One really cool thing is God has given him a gift with his Autism and it is his memory. We think he might be savant in that.

      You are an awesome mom Laura and while our situations are different, I can relate to the stress, and other things so I understand. We aren’t at the high school graduation phase with Isaac, but I won’t allow myself to think about it yet! 🙂 If he is like he is now-oh my! He will have to have assistance just to keep his apartment clean. That child would be happy never having a shower and never cleaning a thing.

  27. I wanted to share this. I am sensing His presence this week, and it is definitely a bubbling brook but it might be going a level deeper-by His Grace. I am thankful Dee posts Tim Keller’s sermons! The Holy Spirit keeps percolating these truths in my mind, but anyway, these are things God is laying on my heart lately:

    When we went Christmas shopping this week, I thought what if all this was taken away-what if we had to scrounge for food-there are millions in this world who do-would Jesus be weightier than all this? He is God with Us-do I forget? Yes.. and I am not content with that answer-it is weighing heavy on my heart.

    Then, this morning I woke up amazed that He chose me from before the foundation of the earth and that He would die for me-Holy, fierce God, creator of the universe, all powerful yet gentle as a dove. He chose me-why? I am a worm-yet He chose me from before the foundation of the earth, plucked me from the muck and mire of my sin and covered me in His blood and brought me close into His chest. I had nothing to do with that and I don’t think it is because I am more special-quite the contrary-it is just because-a mystery-I don’t know why he chose me, but he did and I overflow with Joy inside when I reflect on the gravity of how He made Himself vulnerable for me.

    I think this morning for some reason it hit me deeper than it ever has before-my only response was to fall down on my knees inside and pray in adoration. I really do want to study the names of God for I want to adore him more often in more ways.

    Sometimes I wonder why God doesn’t just strip me of the things that distract me from Him, sometimes I ask Him to, but I wonder if God finds pleasure in me choosing Him over these things-in those moments of decision-worship my idols and the things they offer, or worship and love Him over and above everything else-this is God’s desire that I would daily choose Him as weightier than these things. I am secure in His love, yet I still can’t fathom the depths of it-I find in those moments of choice, when I remember His sacrfice for someone like me, I am compelled to choose to worship Him.

  28. Ladies

    My doctors appt is this morning so can you please pray and also i have come down with a cold and i am supposed to go to my dads on Sunday to celebrate Christmas and bring my grandparents with me and i have to drive.. so pray for strength! Thanks!

    1. Lord, help Meg to be bold and honest with the doctor. Give the doctor wisdom to see the cause and cure for her health concerns.

  29. Laura Marie, This really struck me hard “I like to call myself an independent spirit, but God knows different. I tend to be rebellious.” I need to have that printed on a tee-shirt.

  30. 6. Keller talks about why, when Christ came, God suddenly becomes approachable. He tells a story of his wife Kathy in traffic court coming with all kinds of pictures and charts — and winning. But that is not how we will approach God on that terrible judgment day. What will be our defense?

    Jesus, God’s only son, died for my sins.

    7. Read Matthew 1:21-23
    A. According to verse 21, why is this baby given the name “Jesus?” Explain how this great truth allows God to be approachable.

    Jesus will save his people from their sins. This means that the sin barrier is gone once and for all. The veil between God and us is torn. We can enter the throne room of God with confidence and find grace and mercy to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) It’s like running to mommy or daddy’s lap for help and comfort in time of trouble. This is so amazing, beyond words really. That the unapproachable God, who is so glorious and holy that he could only show Moses his “hind parts”, now is gentle and humble and approachable like a newborn baby.

    B. Approach God now in prayer, knowing He hears you, knowing you are clean in His sight because of the Savior, and ask Him to be near to you this day. Ask Him to help you walk in the light, to be His love.

    Holy God, Father, what can I say? I stand here, a child in spotless white inside and out,only because of You, because of what Your Son has done for me. I need You today, be near me, walk with me. Help me to walk always focusing on Your light and love, just like a bride walks down the aisle with her eyes fixed on her only beloved. I love You.

    1. I’m headed to a wedding this morning–I love this Diane “just like a bride walks down the aisle with her eyes fixed on her only beloved. I love You.” I will be pondering that this morning!

  31. 5. The bulk of the sermon was on the Word God

    A. Jesus is God. Look at Isaiah 9:6 and find evidence from those names that Jesus, indeed, is God.

    Wonderful Counselor-He is due all wonder and awe, and He is perfect in His counsel, advice
    Mighty God-He is all powerful, having the utmost strength
    Everlasting Father-He is the Father of eternity, He has no beginning, He was never not in existence
    Prince of Peace-He is the author of peace, He rules in peace. We cannot have real peace, in any situation, without Him.

    B. Keller differentiates between a general knowledge of God and an experience of God. He gives examples of Old Testament saints that experienced God. What stood out to you from this and why?

    I loved when he talked about Moses—and what Moses’ response would be today to Jesus. The OT saints got the fear and trembling part—they understood God’s deity, holiness, His weightiness

  32. I’m praying for all of you and your requests….love you all!

  33. 6. Keller talks about why, when Christ came, God suddenly becomes approachable. He tells a story of his wife Kathy in traffic court coming with all kinds of pictures and charts — and winning. But that is not how we will approach God on that terrible judgment day. What will be our defense?

    We have no defense, no papers, photos, proof…When I hear people take about what they want to ask God when they get to Heaven, and I’m not saying that it’s wrong—we all have questions, but I always think—ask Him? Speak? I just imagine falling face down, weeping at the reality finally sinking in that I am in His presence, I am holy, I am saved, I am seeing Him face to face—How Can It Be?!

    And see there, I write that, I MEAN that, but oh how I want to really “get it” more and more NOW. I haven’t gotten to read through all the posts yet, but I saw where Rebecca said “He is God with Us-do I forget? Yes.. and I am not content with that answer-it is weighing heavy on my heart.” I so agree. There are so many distractions, and problems with kids, health, relationships that come up every day…and I turn to all kinds of sources for wisdom, praying too, but also reading online…and I know He uses doctors, and wise teaching, I’ve been blessed by it, but do I really let my prayers—my seeking Him, give me more peace, more assurance, than anything I read or hear elsewhere? He is WITH us, today, we are His, we are chosen, because He wants us. Sorry, I’m beginning to journal here—but so thankful to grow and learn with and from you all, everyone of you teaches me daily—I am thankful He never stops working in my heart!

  34. A. According to verse 21, why is this baby given the name “Jesus?” Explain how this great truth allows God to be approachable.

    Because He saves His people from our sins. He breaks down the barrier—He removes the terror, the guilt, the vacuum between us and God—His death fulfills all the requirements—we are freed by Him. He is approachable, He is full of grace, He is full of compassion, of understanding, of forgiveness.

    B. Approach God now in prayer, knowing He hears you, knowing you are clean in His sight because of the Savior, and ask Him to be near to you this day. Ask Him to help you walk in the light, to be His love.

    Oh my Abba, how I love You! I could not breathe without You. I don’t deserve Your presence and yet You pour it all around me so that I cannot hide from You—nothing is hidden from You. Nothing can thwart You, surprise You, or out-weigh You. You hold me, always, You hold me. My stubborn will does not always sense it, I try to fix something my own way, or I try to distance from You because I don’t know if You’ll really do what I want—but OH, how I THANK You that You do not just give me what I want. You are too gracious for that—You know what is best, and You lavish me with it. I can trust You Lord. I can rest in You. Thank You. Thank You for wanting me close so desperately, so jealous, so sacrificially—that You gave Your Son to die for ME, so that I could enter in to Your presence. As often as I want, all the time, every day…You welcome me, You never turn away, You arms never at Your side—always open, always holding. Help me to run to You, to be quick to come to You, to trust in You. Thank You my Abba King.

    C. What was the prophecy of Isaiah according to Matthew 1:23, and what does the name Immanuel mean?
    Mary would bear a Child, Immanuel, meaning GOD WITH US!

    1. Your prayer is so beautiful and trusting, Elizabeth. “Nothing can thwart You, surprise You, or OUT-WEIGH You. You hold me, always, You hold me. My stubborn will does not always sense it, I try to fix something my own way, or I try to distance from You because I don’t know if You’ll really do what I want—but OH, how I THANK You that You do not just give me what I want. You are too gracious for that — You know what is best, and You lavish me with it. I can trust You Lord. I can rest in You. … Help me to run to You, to be quick to come to You, to trust in You. Thank You my Abba King.” Amen.

  35. 8. What else impacted you from Keller’s message and why?
    I think what’s hitting me right now is a couple of things. One, the humbling reality that He chose us. That Christianity IS exclusive, but that we were selected—why? I always love when Keller has said when we think it isn’t fair that He doesn’t save all—remember what isn’t fair is that He saves any of us.
    And so what follows my recognition of His graciousness, is my own brokenness at my sin which keeps me from coming to Him. It cost Him EVERYTHING to come to me. Wow—how do I ignore how sought-after I am? How wanted and loved, cherished. I get all busy with my own agenda, thinking I can’t squeeze in the time to sit with Him, to read His love letter to me…how can I so tightly guard my time, my schedule, my plans—calling them my own, when He gave up ALL for me to have Him?

    I’m going to listen again to the sermon, but wanted to answer now so I’ll have a chance to read through posts–always learn so much!

    1. Elizabeth,
      I read about your struggles with your daughter, I am praying, too. I thought it was so beautiful how she watched you praying, and how you held her and spoke those words to her. You are an awesome mom and Jesus is in you and it shows.

  36. 4. Listen to the Keller sermon, “God With Us”, and record your initial thoughts.

    Initially, I thought about maybe it would’ve been a good thing if I, like the Old Testament saints, could have had an experience of being in God’s presence like they did, where it was terrifying. Then it would be that much more amazing to me, and I would not take it for granted, that He comes near through Jesus. Like Keller said in the sermon that if Moses had heard that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, he would’ve been jumping up and down in excitement, saying “this was the very thing I was denied!”

    5. The bulk of the sermon was on the Word God

    A. Jesus is God. Look at Isaiah 9:6 and find evidence from those names that Jesus, indeed, is God.

    These are names befitting royalty, a King – Wonderful Counselor, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, Prince of Peace.
    This child to be born is Mighty God, the Everlasting Father.

    B. Keller differentiates between a general knowledge of God and an experience of God. He gives examples of Old Testament saints that experienced God.
    What stood out to you from this and why?

    In these examples of God appearing like a whirlwind to Job, or a smoking furnace to Abraham, or a pillar of fire or when His glory filled the temple, the people could see Him but not get near Him, they had to keep their distance. You can’t touch a pillar of fire. If someone went into the holy place in the tent of meeting when His glory was in there, they died. God was there but He was not approachable.
    I liked his recounting of how Martin Luther was busy being religious, and he was experiencing God but the day he really met Him was when he realized that righteousness was a gift.
    The convicting part to me was when Keller talked about what Jesus did to be with me. What am I doing to be with Him? Keller said, “What’s keeping you from being near Him, is it a habit you don’t want to give up? Is it a simple lack of discipline? Are you just too busy? You say you wish you had more time. What you mean is it will cost you. But whatever it costs you is nothing compared to what it cost Him to get with you.”
    That hits me right where I live. I so struggle with self-discipline. I will say I am going to start spending time with God every morning at a certain time, or follow this certain plan for prayer, and keep at it for a few days, and then I don’t follow through. Then I start again… I feel under alot of pressure to get things done during the day. My husband hates it when the house is not picked up or the laundry is piling up, and I’m not real good at getting alot done quickly; I tend to clean very thoroughly so I’m not one of those who get the whole house done in a day. When I’m up at 5am with my son who has to be up for swim practice, and I don’t sleep well at night (which is why I’m up right now, trying to utilize this time if I can’t sleep!), I am tired by the time my daughter goes to bed at night and I fall asleep almost immediately. I feel so weak in my flesh. I feel so sinful in the way I relate to my husband – my critical tongue, keeping him at arm’s length, feeling irritated by him. One thing Keller said, if I really believe this is GOD with me, the Creator, is any habit of mine, even a deeply ingrained one like how I interact with my husband, any match for Him?
    Keller said that if this is really GOD with us, then “your lukewarm and tepid response to Him is not rational”. I don’t know why, but thinking about this sermon made me think of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler. And I asked myself, would I have been like that young man? He asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus is so brilliant here, he tells him he must keep the commandments, and the young man says okay, I have….I love it Jesus doesn’t argue with him, He just asks him a very revealing question that shows that he does not really keep the commandments; He tells him to give away all his stuff. And the young man goes away sad. He can’t give up his stuff for Jesus. I have to ask myself, what is it that I have been unwilling to give up, what is “my stuff”, have I really turned everything over to His Lordship because He is GOD. It is this provoking question of He is God so why do I so often think I can disobey Him and not submit to Him? I think this must be one of the deepest, most stubborn roots of original sin; it is wanting to stay in control, to be on the throne, it is rebellion.

    C. Pray for yourself and for each woman reading this blog, that she might have a sense of the holiness of God this week.

    I’m going to sign-off now and before I try to get back to sleep, pray for all of us that God will make the message of Christmas fresh and new; the holy God that Isaiah saw in his vision is the same God who came in the form of a vulnerable baby.

    1. Susan, I can relate so well to this heart cry I hear from you. You have a beautiful heart but I think you are too hard on her. Lord I pray that You will help Susan and every one of us on this blog to bask in the truth of what we have in Christ. May all of the things that we want to be for You come as we do that!

      What you said about perhaps needing the terrifying experience of His presence reminded me of something I read in Hebrews 12:18. It stood out to me a few years ago and I am understanding it a little better now. “For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. (Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, for they could not bear what was commanded:And if even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned! And the appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am terrified and trembling.)Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.” Then the next verse says to see that you do not reject the One who speaks which is Christ, the living Word. The crushing weight of His presence which brings judgment to all sinners is what is spoken of here, but we who are covered in the blood of Christ will never come to that but to the festive gathering and all the rest described in that verse. What I am trying to say is that I don’t think we, who are in Christ, can experience the terror of His presence. We must instead bask in the good things we have in Christ.

      I am still in the trying to understand this concept and what it means to me stage. I would love to hear from others about it because I really don’t want to say anything incorrect or misleading.

    2. Susan, I love your honesty. So often I read your words and feel it could be pages of my journal–I relate to many things you’ve shared. But reading it objectively, I see Him just holding you–covering you with His grace, knowing your heart, your real love for Him. Praying you feel encouraged by His grace on you today

    3. You express yourself so well, Susan. I too can relate to your heart cry about needing God to change your habit of irritability with your husband. Why do I hold him at arm’s length so much?

      And as you say, “I have to ask myself, what is it that I have been unwilling to give up, what is “my stuff”, have I really turned everything over to His Lordship because He is GOD? It is this provoking question of He is God so why do I so often think I can disobey Him and not submit to Him? I think this must be one of the deepest, most stubborn roots of original sin; it is wanting to stay in control, to be on the throne, it is rebellion.” Rebellion! Oh, God, help me.

    4. Susan, I was going back to catch up on comments I missed. I felt like you were writing my story here! I have the very same problems as you!! I pray the Lord helps us! love you:)

  37. 1. Of the paintings above, comment on one and how you think the people or the individual felt. Have you ever experienced that kind of fear? A God-quake? When?

    I have purposely waited on commenting on the paintings because I didn’t really know what to say….none really spoke to me. I decided to comment on the “Annunciation” after looking at each of them for a week. In this painting , the shepards are woken up by the angel(s). Most are frightened, but a couple are seemingly being drawn into the light..they are on their knees and reaching toward the light. The sheep even seem afraid! I would love to have an experience like this one, but I suspect people nowadays wouldn’t believe me; kinda of like when UFO’s are spotted.

    I don’t think I have ever had a God-quake, but I do believe God is with me often. It started when my dad died years ago. I knew in my heart god would help me always; I didn’t know why though. I was just a kid, but I knew in my heart He was with me. I suppose the years I spent in church paid off! I continue to be blessed when I don’t know how I could be due to circumstances….but I always am. The job that fell into my lap as a geologist, the friends that didn’t leave when they should have, the good grades that I always received in school, the healthy babies/children, the understanding spouse, the helpful director of math and science at school, I could go on and on. He has always been there and I have always known.

    I struggle with day to day chores, work, children, husband, commitments, etc. I have made God a priority this year and believe it or not, the important things get done! I don’t understand it. Of course, my house isn’t clean or the laundry done, but is it really important in the scope of things? I tell my children that the most important thing is how you treat people. So why should I fret about the cleaning? I don’t anymore.

    I was listening to Nancy Leigh Demoss this week and she had a study on hospitality. I don’t have too many people over to my house because I would have to clean if they came! She suggests that we are expected to host people at any time regardless of the cleanliness of our homes! Wow….not sure I can do that, but I guess I am missing out on a key bit of scripture. Will need to ponder for awhile.

  38. I think I answered 9 and 10 above, but my takeaway is that the study this week has taken me a level deeper into Him!

  39. 9. How has God been with you this week?
    I read this and thought honestly, how has He NOT been with me this week? I have felt Him carrying me more profoundly than I have in a really long time. This was the most difficult, at least as a mom, weeks I have ever had. From Tuesday through Friday new major things came to light and each day I considered either calling a counselor, a doctor, desperate for answers. My daughter’s actions went from one extreme to the other and she talked about wanting to die—just letting you all know the severity. But God IS at work. I did talk with some specialists, just to assure you all, and I do believe God has been moving in her as never before. He has broken me down—I haven’t had my “spiels” or parenting book dialogues—I’ve just been honest and broken before her, and He has used that. The last few days she’s been pouring out EVERYTHING to me, and that is bringing healing. I know without a doubt it is His power, His answering our prayers, His deep love that has sustained us, upheld my husband and I and kept us “on the same page’ throughout all of this. Oh my God has been so gracious, so faithful.

    10. What is your take-a-way and why?
    That He really IS with us, ALL the time, He never leaves, He never “checks out”, He is active and awake and moving and HE IS STRONGER THAN THE EVIL ONE!

    1. I love how God came shining through for you and your family this week, Elizabeth. It is a testament to the power of praying women on this blog who dearly love one another.

    2. Praying for you, dear Elizabeth.

  40. 9-How has God been with you this week? I mean in so many ways, the things that need to be done in His grace He provides the strength. It is supernatural and I know it is Him. I love that. I know He is there. Things that I don’t need to do well that is another story. There is enough grace for the needs. That is fine. He is good and I need to accept what grace is given with thanksgiving. 🙂 He shows up everywhere! I am establishing organizing systems to help my family keep things in order that will help me too since I cannot go and pick up after all of them. God has given me an inspiration and time to do this and it will train my daughters to be good keepers of the home something i have not taught well. All God. 🙂

    10. My take away. I cannot get that picture of Job out of my mind. It is so comforting. To know I am in the grips of the enemy yet God is close. It is what is permitted. I cannot will or turn the other way from this illness I could not even control in the first place, I mean it was a tick. 🙂 I did not do it to myself it was given me. Out of the many people it could have been I was chosen. So I have a thorn that is permitted. Yet God is right there. He is over every detail and never permits anything more than I can bear. He is refining me and in the fiery furnace with me. It is making me more like Him and hopefully one day I will be restored like Job and the enemy will have to leave. Until them I wait. Like Hinds Feet on High Places I take the hands of my companions and journey to the High Places and follow after my Sheppard who is always with me. He is making my feet like deer’s feet. In the end the enemy will only have helped Him. 🙂

    1. Angela, God bless you as you walk through your suffering with the Lord. Amen to your prayer. Hind’s Feet on High Places is such a challenging, touching book. I listened to it on CD again this summer. It touched me deeply. I can’t remember both of the initial names of the companions in the book, but I remember one was “Suffering”.

      1. How did your dental appointment go this week, Angela? Were they able to fix anything?

    2. Even in all you are going through you are training your daughters to be good keepers of the home. Again He brings beauty from ashes.
      Love too the last line,”He is making my feet like deer’s feet. In the end the enemy will only have helped Him.” Great book-a favorite of mine.

    3. Praying for you, Sweet Angela

  41. It has been a hectic but wonderful week with Melody’s college graduation and party.
    My take away: God is faithful to reveal even the “small sins” to me so I don’t move from His presence or stagnate my growth. These sins seem so huge to me now and really bother me so that I can’t bear to allow them to continue.

  42. 8. What else impacted you from Keller’s message and why?

    The astounding difference between how God is portrayed in the Old Testament as a terrifying unapproachable God and a completely humble, approachable baby Jesus is a marvel to consider. Keller makes his point about how amazing that God became a baby, made himself vulnerable and touchable to die for us because he loved us so much and then he asks, “Where is your joy, amazement?” Where indeed? As we really understand his amazing love for us, anything less than joy and amazement is possible.

    Saturday
    9. How has God been with you this week?

    At one point this week, I was feeling overwhelmed with my responsibilities and frightened by my insecurity when I felt criticized. I was able to cry out to God and he helped me see that I am secure in him and I do not need others’ approval if I am serving Him the best I can. He is responsible for the outcome of what I do and of my reputation.

    10. What is your take-a-way and why?

    I just am learning so much from this study, from Keller and from all my blog sisters. I am so grateful.

  43. I was thinking today about the questions posted here like #9., how has God been with you this week? Also, I heard a message this week by Charles Stanley where he was talking about experiencing God’s presence. My thoughts were, I know God is always with me, always present. I can’t get away from His presence. He promises to never leave nor forsake me. Yet early this morning, I prayed for Him to come, to let me feel His presence. I’m not sure I felt anything different. Dr. Stanley was talking about times when, totally unexpected, he just had an overwhelming sense of God’s presence. I am thinking that I can pray and ask for God to let me sense, feel, and experience His presence, but I can’t control when it will happen. He is “Aslan”, good, but not safe. He doesn’t have to jump when I ask. I can pray to be more sensitive, more open to His presence, for awareness. But I feel it will come when He wants it to.

    One of my take-aways for this week is what Keller said about “withness” of God. I want to spend some time to just be with God, not asking for anything, but just coming to Him to be with Him. Remembering what He did to be with me.

    1. Susan, I read your answer just before I ran out the door to attend a Christmas concert— and have been thinking about it all evening. I’m so glad for the reminder that God is always with us. Re: awareness of His presence “I feel it will come when He wants it to.” Sometimes those God-quakes are so overwhelming that I’m glad they are not an everyday thing! I’ve been wondering exactly what “awareness of His presence” means.

      I am becoming more conscious of His presence and during the past few months have been learning to rest in Him. I’m a slow learner 🙂 He knew I needed a few months head start to ponder this! I think I’d rather have an abiding knowledge that He is with me. While I appreciate those “mega-moments” when (I think) I am blown away by His presence, now I’m questioning the difference between a hyper-emotional state and awareness of His presence. Any ideas, anyone?

      1. The sermon got me to consider your question as well, Renee and while we can’t control His presence we certainly can invite it. In fact I have found it to be true when I make a move towards Him, say in fasting or giving up television for a week or taking time to worship and adore Him, He shows up. I think He is teaching me on this right now b/c He has been quiet lately and when that happens I become the pursuer. I do not like Him to be quiet with me I much prefer a constant awareness of Him with me talking to me and mutual sharing.

  44. I had intended to write out answers to questions tonight. I injured my right hand a couple months ago — and it’s hurting like crazy right now (too much writing and typing this week). But I am thankful for God’s grace, for all of you, and for the opportunity to be back.

    I’ve been thinking of Emmanuel, God with us, all week and saturating myself in music that contains the name “Emmanuel” or “Immanuel.” The Alpha and Omega is with me!

    One thing that just popped into my brain this evening: I’m beginning to “get” that God is with me, but now I want to move on to God with US, in the collective sense. Seems like there is more to it than God with a bunch of individuals. What are the implications of “God with us,” His church?