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HIGHER GROUND IN 2012

ONLY CHRISTIANITY GIVES US THE POWER TO TRULY CHANGE

SO IN 2012, WE ARE HEADED TO HIGHER GROUND!

Many of us have made New Year’s Resolutions in the past: to lose weight, to read through the Bible, to read good books and watch less television, to be the kind of woman who is never unkind or sharp, but has a gentle spirit that is precious in the sight of God. Many of you reading this may think: Yes, I have made resolutions — but I’ve always failed to keep them, so what’s the point?

Those of you who have traveled here on this Bible study blog are likely to have more hope — for you have seen change happen right before your eyes — in the lives of your sisters and perhaps in your own life. To name a few, we’ve seen women:

  • Lifted from the pit of depression
  • Rescued from gluttony
  • Delivered from the icy shawl of bitterness, truly released to forgive
  • Freed from a habit that we destroying them and their relationships (in my case, manipulation)
  • Transformed from discontentment to contentment
  • And so much more…

It isn’t a quick fix, it is a long obedience in the same direction, but it really is happening. This week is a prelude, as many are still returning from the Christmas break. We will officially begin next week — so please pray for God to bring those who are ready to move to higher ground and who will be faithful to the journey. Please pray for yourself and for those you feel led to invite.

We’re going to be looking at some key passages that show us how to change, passages that godly people who have changed point to as pivotal.  Every other religion tells you to rely on yourself — but that is like struggling with all your might when you are in quicksand — you will only sink deeper. We need a hand from outside of ourselves to pull us out and take us to higher ground.

We have a God who is as near as our very breath, but because He is Spirit, we may forget He is right there. We will also be studying the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. There has been so much false teaching about Him that sometimes we are hesitant to study Him — yet then we are missing so much power. He is right here with us, even though we cannot see Him. The psalmist says, “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people.”(Psalm 125:2) Sensing His presence will help you have peace and confidence — you really are not alone.

I often thought of Psalm 125:2 when we lived in Seattle, where mountains practically surround the city. The Olympic mountains line the Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier, in all her glory, looms over the city from the south. Most of the time, however, you can’t see any of them! Whenever my parents visited my dad teased me that there were no mountains, that it was just a grand publicity stunt to lure tourists, for this is how the Seattle skyline often looks, and did every time my parents visited!


But oh, hidden behind those clouds was beauty. Sometimes the sky would be the bluest blue, and you’d look out, and there she was — a mountain so big she looked unreal — taking your breath away. She was there all the time, just hidden from sight.

Mount Rainier

Our God is like that, only so much more so. We may move about our day oblivious to His presence when suddenly we are aware of Him, of His GLORY.

Glory. Tim Keller says that whenever you see the word “glory” in Scripture, think “beautiful and important.” He also says the Holy Spirit’s job is to make Jesus real in our eyes, to make Him “beautiful and important.” As you see how real God is, you will be changed. Instead of focusing on ourselves, if we focus on Him, we will be lifted up.

But before you climb a mountain you should count the cost. Are you committed? Are you willing to persevere, realizing that there will be some hard times to push through? Jesus always told people to count the cost, and so I do too, realizing many of you will turn back.

But oh, how I encourage you to seek the things that are above, to press on toward the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. It’s the only life worth living.

This week we’ll have a short study, and I’d also like you to pray for some specific things, using Scripture to help you pray. You who have been with me are such a gift, you have been strong mentors to others, and I’m counting on you to help us start right, by praying, as God tells us to, for Him to guide and uphold us before we begin officially next week.

For those of you with an I-Phone, and I-Pod Touch, or an I-Pad, (must be able to connect to the internet) I have exciting news. Redeemer Presbyterian Church has a much improved and free ap you can get through I-Tunes. There are so many free Keller sermons on it as well as testimonies. Many if not all of those sermons are also available for free on the internet for those of you who don’t have any of those devices, but this is a very easy way to get them and there are also some additional great testimonies.If you have such a device, go to I-tunes and type in Redeemer Presbyterian Church and then download it, for I’ll be referring to resources found on it in future weeks as optional material.

Sunday-Monday   Icebreaker and Reflections

1. Find two things that stand out to you from the above and share why they do. (Don’t go too fast.)

2.  Meditate on this verse and share your reflections:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, we we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

A. Tim Keller says that when you see the word glory, think “beautiful and important.” How does that put new light on this verse?

B. Though we have not seen Jesus in the flesh, for most of you, there was a time when He changed from being in the backdrop of your life to emerging as One who was glorious, beautiful, and huge. Share at least one, and preferably two, times when that happened.

Tuesday

3. Will you join us and be committed to the journey? If so, tell us, and pray that God will become more real and more important to you — that you will see His glory!

4. Ask the Lord if there is someone you should invite to join us. If you are on my e-mail list you will be getting an e-mail invitation you could forward. Pray here.

Wednesday – Friday: Scripture and Prayer

Psalm 125: A Psalm of Ascent

There were fifteen steps to ascend to the temple in Jerusalem, and there are fifteen psalms of ascent (Psalms 120-134) that were prayer songs that the pilgrims sang both as they traveled up the mountains to Jerusalem and then as they ascended each step. Their literal ascent paralleled the ascent we are going to make spiritually. They sang as they went, and so will we, for we have learned the power of praise to rescue us.

Psalm 125 is one of these fifteen Psalms of Ascent. Here is a sample from one song-writer of Psalm 125. Listen by clicking

      here
.  If you have another version you like of this psalm song, please share it.

5. Contemplate

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be moved but abides forever.

Psalm 125:1

A. Christianity offers the hope of change because the object of our faith is not ourselves. To what does the psalmist compare the one who trusts instead in the Lord?

B. What is the word picture meant to communicate?

C. Take verse 1 and pray it for yourself and for those who will travel with us in this journey. Paraphrase it and write it here.

6. Contemplate:

As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people.

Psalm 125:2

A. Why is it that we tend to forget this truth, and how would our lives be different if we remembered it?

Charles Spurgeon comments that the “mountains around the holy city, though they do not make a circular wall, are, nevertheless, set like sentinels to guard her gates. God doth not enclose his people within ramparts and bulwarks, making their city to be a prison; but yet he so orders the arrangements of his providence that his saints are as safe as if they dwelt behind the strongest fortifications.”

B. Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year?

C. Take this verse and pray it for our study, paraphrasing it in your own words. Pray it as well for yourself and your family, perhaps with another paraphrase. Memorize it.

If paraphrasing the prayers of the Bible is new to you — click here to see how one brother did Psalm 125 beautifully: Link

Saturday:

7. What’s your take-a-way for the week?

 

See you tomorrow, January 7th, for the official start of our journey to Higher Ground!

 

 


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  1. C. Take this verse and pray it for our study, paraphrasing it in your own words. Pray it as well for yourself and your family, perhaps with another paraphrase. Memorize it. Lord Help me to remember you like Mount Zion help me to remember that you are surrounding me, Help me not to turn to crooked ways, but to turn to you. In Jesus Name I pray Amen

  2. Thank you so much for your prayers I feel like I made a turn for the better today!

    A. Why is it that we tend to forget this truth, and how would our lives be different if we remembered it?
    For me, I find busyness and stress are factors but really it is lack of communing with God moment by moment. I am learning that if I empty myself in the morning before God and ask Him to fill me to overflowing I have a wonderful day and it’s easy to walk in His ways.

    B. Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year?

    When I surrendered the painful situation to Him and obeyed and sent the letter and gift at Christmastime I felt the trouble and hurt melt away. I no longer have to be resolute in forgiving because God erased all the hurt. I want to report that I received a beautiful card and note thanking me from the person. There is absolute peace. Now that I have gone through it and am at the other side I see that humbling myself and asking forgiveness for not loving well was a wonderful way to overcome the enemy and bring resolution.

    1. Kim,

      WOW! I just read this right before I was going to answer a question and had to comment! So glad to hear how the person you sent the gift and letter to responded! I loved this: “Now that I have gone through it and am at the other side I see that humbling myself and asking forgiveness for not loving well was a wonderful way to overcome the enemy and bring resolution.”- It sure was-praise God!

    2. Kim, I was SO moved by this–WOW. When you had mentioned sending the letter, I have to admit I felt nervous for you. But you had such a heart of grace even then–expecting nothing in return. And now, to hear how He blessed it–I can’t tell you how much this ministers to me. Really incredible to see His hand and how He was glorified in this. I’m really thankful for your example in my life, Kim.

    3. This is so wonderful to hear how the Lord worked in your life making you humble to write the letter and so amazing to hear how your friend responded. God must have been preparing her heart too. Praise the Lord!

  3. 6. Contemplate: As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people.Psalm 125:2

    A. Why is it that we tend to forget this truth, and how would our lives be different if we remembered it?

    —- I think we forget because we can’t see or sense His presence right away. The Lord has his own timing, which usually is not on our same time so our hurry up society wants answers NOW, no one has time any more to wait upon the Lord, but if we would our lives would be so much better and the path that He would take us on would be so much shorter to the end of the race than what we would take. We need to make waiting upon the Lord a priority for 2012 and the rest of the time we have on this earth.

    B. Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year?

    — I’m not so sure that I’ve had much trouble in this last year but I know when I first got divorced I had a lot of trouble with my ex and his “new wife” who was not so nice, I was threathened, accused of being a bad mom, and constantly yelled at by both of them to the point of my oldest son (8 at the time) being so nervous he no longer wanted to go there but due to the laws had no choice. God brought me thru all of that by removing me from the area and being new friends who understood and stood by me and eventually the great guy I’m now married to, they were the strength I needed physically along with the spiritual strength I received from my church family and depending and trusting in the Lord. These new friends that were put into my life were I believe put there by God to help me thru those times. The relationship with the ex has been restored back to being civil and friendly which I know only God had the power to do. I thank him always for my life and friends.

    C. Take this verse and pray it for our study, paraphrasing it in your own words. Pray it as well for yourself and your family, perhaps with another paraphrase. Memorize it.

    — Lord you are the creator of all, the mountains, valleys and hills, all those things that you have put around us in our lives to see the beauty that is in you, you Lord, are all those things and will never fall against the enemy or pass away. You are glorious and strong and you are with us always until the end of time and I just thank you and praise you for strength that you give to me. In Jesus name I pray AMEN.

    1. Julie, I love how you see God’s provision in your church, your husband, your restored relationship with your ex. Your words truly give Him the praise for bringing you through such pain–it’s a beautiful testimony.

      1. Thanks Ladies, that time of my life really brought me closer to the Lord and made me realize the power the Lord has over all.

        This past week is reminding me of that again. With all the great posts each lady wrote to the pictures of the mountains reminding me that Gkd is more awesome than anything the enemy throws at me and I will be shown the way thru them all with the Lord at the head leading me thru.

        I’m excited to get started along this new path He is leading me down along with the rest of yhes great ladies. Thanks Dee for taking the time to do this for all of us!

  4. Dee, I would love to join you ladies in this Bible study.

    1. Welcome, Jean!

    2. Welcome Jean!

      1. Welcome Jean!

  5. 6 B. Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year?

    SHORT version of answer (written at end & inserted): Too hard to separate out the past year. You may stop here!!

    LONG version: Yesterday this question was too hard. Intellectually, it taxed my brain! So, I’ve been thinking about it today. It’s been a hard year, and a “different” year. But God also has removed some challenges. Even though this has been a year filled with grief, God must’ve given me the strength to face it because I’m still here. I do believe that the numbness that comes with grief is a gift from God. I’m very skilled at avoidance 🙂 but the numbness was not avoidance — and sometimes I wasn’t very numb. I was encouraged to lean into Him during the grief; I did — and it still hurt (and hurts) like crazy.

    At the same time, others have observed that I’m much happier than I was a few years ago (and this has been in the middle of grief). I am happier; I’m under much less stress. During the past year, God has shown me how faithful He has been during the past decade. After I survived an extremely difficult period during early adulthood, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the extent of the pain I experienced after I was through it. I have never been able to re-create some of the emotions I experienced then. Similarly, during the last year, I haven’t been able to comprehend the amount of stress I was experiencing, both personally and professionally, during the last 5-6 years. Now I believe that my lack of comprehension was because of the supernatural strength God provided during those extended times. And a very difficult early adulthood prepared me for recent years.

    The reason this question is an intellectual challenge is that although I CLEARLY can see that God has removed some difficult situations, He has been preparing me for others for many years. I am so thankful for work changes, and I do think that the fact that God removed some challenges there helped me get through others. But He provided strength to get through the others. As many of you know well, grief itself can go along with release from draining situations. And care-giving had become stressful; it’s hard to watch someone suffer. Even though this has been hard to write, I have to laugh at some of it… I’m definitely not a paperwork kind of person, and I don’t miss the financial and legal responsibilities of caregiving. God took that away 🙂

    I don’t have any sense of “closure” (whatever that means). But, just as I see that God had prepared me for the past year, I know that He was preparing me for SOMETHING during the past several years. First, He is preparing me for Him. But I also believe He is preparing me for something else. During the past few months, I’ve been aware that this is a time of transition — just don’t know TO WHAT!! (Someone tell me, please 😉 )

    1. Renee, you made me think of a little saying….”If you want a rainbow, you have to stand alittle rain”. I think we will all have a rainbow one day, after God molds us into what he wants us to be.

  6. Q: Has anyone read the book “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction?” I think I might even have it in a box of books from way back when, but I don’t remember reading it.

      1. Just read the reviews. Might be time for me to dig through old books… or buy another new one. Based on the reviews, it may have been a little too much for me when I was in college!

  7. C. Take this verse and pray it for our study, paraphrasing it in your own words. Pray it as well for yourself and your family, perhaps with another paraphrase. Memorize it. Psalm 125: 1, 2

    1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
    2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the LORD surrounds his people
    both now and forevermore.

    Lord, help us here on Dee’s study to endure-to not be shaken by the evil one as he slithers in to bring in doubt, jelously, envy, strife, condemnation..Lord I ask that you would remove this element from Dee’s blog if indeed he slithers in. Sharpen us Lord to discern his hisses and not fall prey-to not be shaken and to endure as we climb your beautiful mountain. Help us to be steadfast in our resolve to draw closer to you and remind us Lord that you surround us and our confidence is in you.

  8. Psalm 125:2
    As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    So the Lord surrounds His people
    From this time forth and forever.

    B. Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year?

    When my father wound up in the ICU close to death, I felt the Lords precense and knew in my heart He had the situation in His control.
    However, I need to stop trying “feel” for God’s presence and just stand on faith that He is there regardless whether I “feel” it or not. This Psalm is a promise that He is there in our backdrop like a mountain. I like the quote by Spurgeon, how we are surrounded by his presence like that mountain, yet not walled in like prisoners.

    My father was back in the hospital around Christmas, only this time in the Pyschitric Unit of the hospital where I work. He was combative and angry insisting the nursing home ( a good one) was trying to kill him. He was refusing to go back.
    I did not place this problem in God’s Hand, instead reacted out of anger. I told my one sisters I felt like he was manipulating the situation and once again like always, we are being controlled by his moods. ( he has since been released and back at the nursing home).

    And once again, the Lord was there like a mountain yet because it was raining and I couldn’t “feel” Him, maybe He is not there. I had to repent for my action and reaction.
    No man or situation can have control over us unless we allow it.

    How kind and gentle is the Lord to stand in our lives like a mountain and offer provisions for our troubles if we will only allow Him!

    I have noticed when God is reigning in my life my faith is solid, yet when I try to take control of the uncontrollable, which are the trials of my life I waver and doubt.

    I don’t write poems, but one morning these words where on my heart and I wrote this poem I posted for some friends. Its not a paraphase for the psalm.

    Because it is the beginning of the year I was thinking of a New years resolution but couldn’t come up with one. I always manage to break them. But the word “resolute” has been on my mind and heart. I want to be Resolute in my walk with the Lord, and the only way to be reolute is to let God reign in our hearts!

    A Spirit Resolute
    by Laura Marie MacDonald

    A place of purpose,
    A place that is full,
    A life that is pleasing,
    Where self-will does not rule,
    A mind that is clear,
    A heart that is full,
    A life to contribute,
    A spirit resolute.

    1. I love your poem. I dabble in a little poetry myself but only when I am at one with the Holy Spirit. It’s His writing in your poem.

      I sympathize with you and your situation with your Father. We just moved our 83 year old Mother to assisted living. My older sister has been with her for the last two years and she is a 54 year diabetic. Ambulance has to be called a lot because at home she sits in chair all the time and because of weak eyesight gets her meds confused. Since going to assisted living she is wearing clothes everyday, walking to eat meals with everyone else, gets her hair done there once a week and has people tending to all her meds so she is not forgetting or skipping. Sometimes what our loved ones want is not always best for them–kind of the same thing when we want God to answer all of our prayers. Our Father knows best for us. Yes, I have struggled with this feeling I should go back home and take care of Mom but with neck and lower back problems I am not as strong and can’t do the bed care it takes with my Father when he was in home hospice 6 years ago but we knew what the time table was and it was my best time with my Father in the whole world. God was all around. I believe he was right with God when he passed because we had our talks and he repeated a scripture to me before the end I believe to ensure me he was fine. Mom is against religion and never let it be discussed in our home–I hope I will still get the chance to help her realize that it is personal relationship and not about organized religion altho we all need a home church so we can be encouraged and uplifted.

    2. Love the poem Laura Marie thanks for sharing it!

    3. Wonderful poem, Laura Marie! I can so identify with EVERY line of it. Also appreciate what you wrote about “feeling” God’s presence.

    4. This was all so good Laura Marie. I related especially to this “I have noticed when God is reigning in my life my faith is solid, yet when I try to take control of the uncontrollable, which are the trials of my life I waver and doubt.” Love your poem too.

    5. Laura, that is beautiful! I especially like this part…”Where self-will does not rule”.

  9. Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be moved but abides forever.
    Psalm 125:1

    A. Christianity offers the hope of change because the object of our faith is not ourselves. To what does the psalmist compare the one who trusts instead in the Lord? Mt. Zion
    B. What is the word picture meant to communicate?
    I believe it depicts steadfastness and a desire to be uncompromising.
    This is what I want my steadfastness to be.

    C. Take verse 1 and pray it for yourself and for those who will travel with us in this journey. Paraphrase it and write it here.
    Lord, may I and every dear lady in this class strive for the steadfastness of Mt. Zion,. I pray that we will not be moved and that we will abide in Jesus as he says, He abides in us. Amen

    As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people.

    A. Why is it that we tend to forget this truth, and how would our lives be different if we remembered it? We have so many layers in our life’s journey that the Lord must help us overcome whether it be loss of others, loss of dreams,loss of health, past mistakes that I believe we sometimes get overwhelmed and do forget that He is round about us to free us and give us liberty to experience His presence more and more with each layer peeled off.
    B. Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year? One of my hurdles right now is chronic pain and fatigue and the fear of being able to commit to any kind of ministry because I’m afraid I will let God and the ministry down. I am one who struggles with perfection and if I can’t do it the right way I don’t want to tackle it and it grieves my Spirit that I’m not partaking in His body in the way I am accustomed. It actually hurts more than the real pain.
    C. Take this verse and pray it for our study, paraphrasing it in your own words. Pray it as well for yourself and your family, perhaps with another paraphrase. Memorize it.

    Lord, I thank you for the beauty of the mountains that you formed and what they can signify to us if we will only take the time to absorb their beauty. We can gather strength from that. Lord, I pray that the reality of you surrounding us will become more and more felt and experienced by my family (where none but me is saved) as well as the women in this class. Amen

    Charmaine

    1. Praying now for your family, Charmaine. That must be so hard.

    2. Praying for you, Charmaine

    3. Thank you for this!

      1. Glad to be here also. I have needed something like this for quite awhile.

  10. Take-away— Hard to limit it to one, but limiting it will help cement it in my brain: “we we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Looking forward to seeing more of His Glory as I know Him better.

    I’m still taking away that He is my Alpha and Omega! Hearing so articulately that He is my Omega fit right in with questions I’d been asking (and used to ask all the time) and lessons I’ve been learning. Coming back to this blog during the Advent Season prepared me for Christmas in a way that opened me to God’s peace throughout the holiday season. It could have been really rough, but I’ve been very blessed. Thanks, Dee, for focusing the study on the Advent Season (although, in a sense, all your studies are related to the Advent season as we seek His coming 🙂 )

  11. “Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year”?

    This year has been alot of trouble with our family. My sister-in-law for 47 years has been like, the sister I never had. Hospice is with her everyday now, as she is getting worse and worse. I pray the Lord takes her home peacefully in her sleep, as she loves the lord very much and would not want to live like this and grieve my brother and their kids so badly.

    God didn’t remove the trouble, so I think he is giving us the strength to face it and become stronger. My brother is the one I worry about the most. He is grieving so bad and has for the last year and a half, since her diagnosis. He won’t hardly leave her side and even sleeps with her and holds her all night. All she can move is her eye’s and they are always fixed on him. Her eye’s follow all of us. I kiss her and tell her how much God love’s her and I love her and say it’s okay. I can’t bear to say It’s okay to go home to God, but I think she understands. We go their almost every nite, as my brother begs us to. The rest of the family stay away. I think it is because they don’t know what to say. If they only knew, you don’t have to say anything, just sit and listen to my brother and cry with him. That’s all he wants. I use to be like that too, untill Dee wrote her book, “The God of all Comfort”. Now I know what not to say (so it’s not like pushing the knife in further and twisting it). I just sit “Shiva”…quietly by his or her side. That’s all we can do, is give our support. So that’s what the last year for our family has been like…horrible, but I know the Lord is teaching me and giving me strength And I pray we will all become stronger because of this.

    1. Oh Joyce, I cried when I read this. I remember how supportive you were even before her surgery… and since then, you’ve had a long haul. You and your family were on my heart even when I wasn’t on the blog (one time I got on to see if I could find how she was/if she was still alive). I’m so glad you know God is giving you strength –and you are open to his strength–through this. You are being refined like gold.

      I’ve seen pictures of networks online that show how concepts (or people) are linked. Dee, I wish we could see an illustration how God has used to to impact people through “The God of All Comfort.” I also was well prepared to “be there” for my mom and for others experiencing grief. In heaven, we will know!

    2. oh dear Joyce, this is so rich, thank you for taking time to share it–I know it can’t be easy even to write out all you are feeling. I just want you to know how much I have learned from you this past year–you have loved your Dennis and Mary Kay so well. I love what you said above: “If they only knew, you don’t have to say anything, just sit and listen to my brother and cry with him”. That is living out what Dee has taught us so well in God of All Comfort.
      I hurt for you that God has not taken away the trouble, as you said above, but I do see how He has used you in it. I don’t mean that to make you feel better now, I know it can’t, I just want you to know I am thankful for your selfless example of love.

      1. Thank you so much, Renee and Elizabeth

    3. Joyce, you minister so well in troubled waters. I am sure that you are making all the world of difference to Dennis and to Mary Kay. Dennis is in so much pain right now but I pray that in years to come your ministry now will be a lifeline that will bring him to the surface again.

    4. Joyce, your family has been on my mind alot lately and I’m grateful for the update. Your sister-in-law is tremendously blessed to have a spouse who loves her so much he never wants to leave her side. I saw the other side last year with two (now deceased) clients whose husbands were cold, cruel, and unfeeling toward their wives suffering. She is also blessed to have you as a sister-in-love. I will continue lifting up your family. Much love flows your way.

      1. Thank you Dear Anne and Tammy. I miss you both so much!

    5. You are such a great example to us, Joyce. Will keep praying for you and Dennis, what amazing love through sickness!

      1. Thank you so much, Diane. You are such a Blessing here, to me and everyone.

    6. Joyce, I’m sorry for all your family is going thru and will be praying that the Lord gives you all the strength and peace you all need. The last year of my dads life was tough to watch as he got weaker and weaker, a man that was so strong and independent my whole life was now depending on all of us to bring him thru each day. I prayed to the Lord every day at the end to take my dad from this earth as much as I did not want to lose him I did not want him to suffer as he was suffering. I loved my dad too much to want him to stay alive for my sake while he suffered and fought so long.

      I don’t know the whole story and don’t mean to be overstepping, but I kept coming across this post and felt drawn to what you are going thru. I can’t offer any more tho you than my prayers and those you will have as long as needed. Stay strong and keep the faith.

  12. 6 B. Trouble will come to the believer, as the rest of this psalm testifies, yet God will either remove the trouble or give us the strength to face it and become stronger. How has this happened for you in the last year?

    This year has seen some highs and lows. During the last half of the year, major relationship struggles have hit our family. First my daughter (married with 3 small boys) went into deep depression. I had to move in with her for close to a month to help with the children. My daughter is doing much better now. Then my brother exploded in anger; cutting off his dad and me from relationship with him, refusing offered apologies, and all efforts at communication and reconciliation. Yes, it has been a tough year.

    The crises caused me to realize that I can’t fix things; only God can. I like to feel in control and I definitely haven’t been. I have had to lean constantly on the Lord, both for strength to do what I needed to do and for emotional stability when I felt that my world was caving in.

    I was assuming that if we lived for the Lord, major family rifts would not occur. I was wrong. The pain and worry and heartache have been intense, but day by day, giving my fears, pain and worries to the Lord has gotten me through. I have come to understand the Rock that our God is.

    You are my Rock in times of trouble
    You pick me up when I fall down
    All through the storm your love is the anchor
    My hope is in You alone.

    C. Take this verse and pray it for our study, paraphrasing it in your own words. Pray it as well for yourself and your family, perhaps with another paraphrase. Memorize it.

    As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people.
    Psalm 125:2

    Thank you, Lord, that you have Your arms around us to protect us and to guide us. Thank you that you have worked in our family this year as we have faced crises knowing You are with us. Thank you that You have proven Yourself real in my life and the lives of my daughter and son-in-law. Continue to do your healing in their lives. Work with my brother, Lord. Bring him to the place that he will turn to You and find You sufficient for his deepest needs.
    Work with the women in this study, Lord. Surround us with Your wisdom, love and guidance. Show Yourself great and mighty in our lives so that we may fully glorify Your name in our families, places of work and to all with whom we come into touch.

    1. I was just thinking of you Diane, and then saw this post. This is all so real, raw, honest, beautiful. You have been through so much, and yet, you do remain, trusting in Him, evidence that He is your hope, your anchor, as you said.

      1. Thanks, Elizabeth. I haven’t been on here much for the last couple of days. My daughter and children are here and life is busy. Hopefully next week will get back to routine, more or less.

    2. “The crises caused me to realize that I can’t fix things; only God can. I like to feel in control and I definitely haven’t been. I have had to lean constantly on the Lord, both for strength to do what I needed to do and for emotional stability when I felt that my world was caving in”.

      Love this, Diane. Thank you for discsribing exactly how I feel too:)

      Praying for you and your family, Diane

  13. Ladies….huge prayer request and praise. Remember I told you that I felt the Lyme lifting? Well it has gotten better each day and seems gone! Then the past few days we have been asked to consider taking custody of a 3 yo boy whose parents cannot right now. It would be with the hope of reconciliation but is exciting. We have always wanted to adopt a little boy and this is kind of like that for a time. However long God sees fit.we will meet him tomorrow for his bday 3 and go to court Thursday. Thx!

    1. Oh wow, Angela! Both are wonderful. So thankful you’re feeling better and will pray for your family, the 3 yo boy, and his parents. Exciting!!

    2. Oh Angela, I’m so thankful you are feeling better…I have prayed so much for you! And what a wonderful opportunity to take care and love that precious little boy that needs so much love and attention right now. I will be praying for you!

      1. Amen!

    3. oh Angela–this brought tears! Such joy over your healing, AND at the thought of your love being poured out on this little one…praying for His protection and blessing over both. Much love to you~

    4. So wonderful that you are getting relief from the Lyme disease, Angela. Praise the Lord. Also, will keep you in prayer as you move forward about this three year old boy, that the Lord will clearly lead you. That would be amazing if it worked out.

      1. Hey all thanks so much for praying!! Things went well with the visit and our family and others involved. So we will know something Thursday when we go to court. This is a crazy situation that just came up out of no where. If it is God’s will then let it be done! Will let you know next week. Now the waiting is hard but I will keep giving it to HIM!

        And so praising God for healing!! Maybe it was for a time such as this.

  14. 7. What’s your take-a-way for the week?

    God gives me freedom and confidence to step out in faith and to trust Him leading me into the unknown-the greatest journey of all-transformation! I have learned, the core of transformation is in yielding myself to Him-letting His power work in and through me and not walking in denial when He brings up a cold stone in my heart-I need to yield to Him in that, which is really a test of faith for me-does he surround me? Can I rest in His providence? Yes, I am safe in His arms.

    I think as I have yielded to Him and turned He gently leads me to hike a bit further up the mountain and into the unknown. I actually have been feeling lately like a little girl inside-big eyed, vulnerable-like the time I put an ‘I love you’ note to Jesus in the offering at my friends church thinking surely this is the treasure He prefers-I couldn’t wait for Him to read it. 😉

    Yet, with each step up the mountain, I think God challenges me to a deeper level and I can easily shrink back in fear as Satan tempts with comfort of the familiar, and fear of the unknown-I am learning I have to choose daily-will I curl around my idols or walk in faith on His arm.

    Right now, God is challenging me to step out in faith. Perhaps in ministry with women- not sure how he will work out this calling. SO many factors come into play with my time constraints, yet I hear His call. Also, I struggle with feeling inadequate- Oh my! So I am waiting, learning to trust-in his time, in his time.

  15. 7. What’s your take-a-way for the week? My take away is this verse:

    As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people.

    I have been trying to remember this verse as i have been lonley and wanting to be with friends, he is round about me!

  16. 7. What’s your take-a-way for the week?
    I really like what Dee said above, Christianity offers the hope of change because the object of our faith is not ourselves.”

    Keller has said “We are not saved because of the quality of our faith but because of the object of our faith.”

    In Oswald Chambers today (Jan 7), he said this “True friendship is rare on earth. It means identifying with someone in thought, heart, and spirit. The whole experience of life is designed to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    I’ve been pondering all three of those wise truths together. If the chief purpose in my life is that I enter into that closest of relationships with Jesus, He becomes more central to all that I think and feel. Others opinions of me have less weight. Daily annoyances lose their grip on my emotions. The quick fix loses its appeal because I want something more, something that will last. I want Him, and it’s all about Him. Relationships gain importance over tasks. Heart issues outweigh productivity. And I begin to believe that real change IS possible, that there is HOPE, that I can be made new—not because of me, not because of anything I can resolve to do better this year, but only and all because of Him. Because HE is the one who I put all my trust in, all my hope in, and He cannot fail. I know what I am capable of—I can cause myself a lot of stress, others a lot of pain, and my ‘good” performance can only last so long before I dissolve in impatience. So if the object of my faith is myself, I have already lost. But thankfully, Christianity offers me a Savior. One Who is fully deserving of my hope, my trust. One who is as secure as the mountains. Unchanging and Infallible. And because it is ALL about Him, my salvation is not determined by even the strength of my faith, nor the quality of it. All rests on Him, His grace, the Power of the Gospel.

    1. Elizabeth, your quote from Chambers reminded me of this that came in my email today. I thought it was very good.

      The Gift of Friendship

      Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive. It is a bond beyond common goals, common interests, or common histories. It is a bond stronger than sexual union can create, deeper than a shared fate can solidify, and even more intimate than the bonds of marriage or community. Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends. Henri Nouwen

      1. I love Henri Nouwen’s writings, and this is beautiful. I especially like this “Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow.” That is so important and applies so well to what we all share even here. So often I can feel unhelpful because I cannot “fix” the suffering of a friend–but this reminder to just be with my friend, even when we cannot “decrease the sorrow”–so good.

        1. Hi sweet Anne, Love to see your beautiful picture! I loved that Nouwen quote!

      2. Love this! Going to share it!

      3. beautiful Anne! I just hopped on and saw your sweet face and it just made me smile–love your picture!!

      4. Anne this is so great, where did this come from? Is it something that I can copy and frame for my friends as a small token of appreciation for their friendship?

    2. Elizabeth, “…my ‘good” performance can only last so long before I dissolve in impatience.” So true for me also!

    3. Elizabeth, love your pondering on friendship, particularly the statement, “Daily annoyances lose their grip on my emotions.” You are a joy!

      1. oh, I’ve missed you Tammy! Great to see you on here, you are always a blessing!

    4. Thanks so much for sharing these quotes about Friendship, Elizabeth and Anne. I’m mulling over these quotes. True friendship such as this is quite rare these days, I think. “The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above,” as the hymn “Blessed be the tie that binds” says. I want my truest friendships to be like this, selfless, sincere and a unity of souls as Nouwen says, while realizing that Jesus is to be our very closest friend.

  17. This week the study has fit so well with God’s work in my life right now. He is so amazing! He fits all things beautifully and I am living the tapestry analogy this week. The quote from Spurgeon helped me to see that the Lord surrounds me not with impenetrable walls and bars but with barriers that have guarded gates. They keep out the bad and let in the good. My freedom is preserved so that I may always stay out of love not confinement.

    I take away the idea that I can ask to see the mountains that surround me. I can ask for a moment of clearing that I may see His glory.

    1. oh Anne, it is such a treasure when you post! I read this twice to let it sink in. I love how you mention the boundaries He sets are positive, for our good, with “guarded gates”, as opposed to something the negatively entraps us. So rich. Thank you for sharing with us.

  18. Dee–I was just thinking of Bonnie and wondering if you have any post-ipod updates, or have gotten to hear what she thought of the Keller sermons?
    The other day I was actually trying to share something “small” with my mom that Keller had said about not having any regrets…(I need to re-listen to that one, really liked it). Anyway, she jumped all over it (negatively), and it reminded me to pray for Bonnie to be receptive. Gospel-centric preaching really is so foreign to many and can feel threatening to some religious people like my mom.
    So this morning I really prayed the Holy Spirit would continue to work in Bonnie’s receptiveness to the Truth she has heard, and that nothing would hinder that.

  19. I’d also love to hear anyone else’s updates on those we’ve been praying for–Dawn’s dad, Susan & Meg’s moms, Diane’s brother, R-Eli?

    Still praising Him for His healing work in Angela’s body–and praying it continues!!

  20. Thanks for asking Elizabeth. My dad is getting stronger every day 🙂 He has been scoped twice and has had to swallow a camera capsule to see if there are any major intestinal bleeds, so far so good. However, he has had to have a catheter for the last 2 weeks and had surgery on Thursday. Of course being as stubborn as he is, he went 3 whole days without being able to urinate before he finally got treatment. He told me “I could stand it, if it didn’t hurt so bad.” Isn’t that the craziest thing? He finally picked a primary physician and saw him last week. He likes him!! This is the first Dr. that my dad has ever had that he actually likes! I am so thankful for all of your prayers.

    1. So good to hear this update Dawn, and that is a huge praise tha your Dad actually likes this new Dr.! Will continue to pray for healing~

  21. 7. What’s your take-a-way for the week?

    There were two statements that seem to sum up for me what I need to remember from this week’s study. First, is that our God is a mountain protecting us from all attacks. Spurgeon says, “[God] so orders the arrangements of his providence that his saints are as safe as if they dwelt behind the strongest fortifications.” Sometimes because of my insecurity and fears, I tend to hide in many ways to guard myself from Satan’s threats. I do not need to because God is my strong guard. As Psalm 23:4 says,

    4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;”

    I can step out into whatever storm God calls me to step into, because he is always with me. I do not need to protect myself because God will protect me. If I could only always remember this!

    “Christianity offers the hope of change because the object of our faith is not ourselves.” Other religions and self-help psychologies teach us ways to change ourselves. But I know I can’t change myself. I do not need to have faith in myself. God is the object of my faith. Only he can truly change me.

  22. I had started to post a “praise” earlier this morning, that my husband is doing really well (this time of year has been notoriously terrible for his bipolar disease). Then I erased it, and thought, I’d better wait until we make it through February. But a little while ago, I was convicted of that. If the object of my faith is my husband’s mental health, then it can waiver, and I am fearful. But if the Object of my faith is Christ alone, He cannot fail. I can trust in Him that no matter what lies ahead, or does not, He is faithful, It’s a challenge, but I want to truly live out what I type here every week! So I praise Him that things have been going so well, for the first time ever for this season. But I praise Him that no matter what, He is the Lighthouse, the Anchor, the Steadfast One Who is the Object of my faith.

    1. Oh Elizabeth how i relate to you on this! I have been convinced this week during my times with God and some talks with friends that I am taking on the “responsability” for our home, and the emotional strain of that is crushing. God have that to my husband and for me to be his helper not the other around. but when you are dealing with illness it is so hard to trust, Paul was going down hill fast but the past two days have been better. and I was able to talk to him about how I have taken his lead roll and that God never equiped me for it, but him. He actually responded with prayer and grace and said he was sorry for making it so easy for me to take it all on. I ask you to pray for me as I let the inner control freak go and enter into the VERY scary ground of trusting Paul to protect and lead our family and place myself as helper, and out of the position of authority and responsabilily in my home!

    2. I so can relate too with my health and the fear of is it really better? Should I share that? You are challenging me and encouraging me every week and I am so glad you shared this. I think we should praise every tiny thing! Even the baby steps! 🙂

    3. So glad you are putting your trust in God:) Praying for you and your family.

    1. I do hope you all feel free to share and continue to stick with us–it’s been a blessing having all the new faces! I love learning from the insight and wisdom from all of you.

      1. You both are so encouraging and welcoming it so easy to open up in knowing warmth that is shown thru out these posts. Thank you All!

    2. Dee I have a question, I went to I-tunes and put in Redeemer Presbyterian Church, but there are quite a few that come up. I do see Timothy Keller as his own download, but nit sure which church to download. Also now that the first week is over what is the next step that I need to do for the bible study?

        1. Thanks Dee, I found it and have listened to all 3 testimonies and read your intro, I will now do the questions. I’m really looking forward to doing this study.

  23. My take away this week is that even tho we can not see Jesus, he is right here, a breath away, with us all the time. Just because we cannot see the mountain, does not mean it is not right there!

  24. What I have taken away from this week’s study is being reminded that “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. The sight of majestic mountains have always given me joy and they are from God. Any step up from the cares of the world is higher ground. We will so to speak be climbing the mountain our whole life but getting to the top of that mountain is not as important as what we become in Christ along the way. I always love to see in my mind that
    We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” and no matter where we are He is present.

    Lord, help me overcome my physical weakness as well as my spiritual weakness. Restore the joy of my salvation. You are an awesome mighty God. Amen

    1. Oh, yes! Love this reminder Charmaine, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” I can get so bogged down by the weeds in the valley rather than focusing on the mountains surrounding me.

  25. I would love to join the bible study if it isn’t too late! I didn’t get a chance to participate in the “preview week” because I didn’t see the email until this weekend. God revealed so much to me at our Women’s retreat this fall (Dee was our guest speaker) and I’d love for this to be the year of Victory.

    1. Michelle–it’s never too late to join–you are always welcome! We’ve started the next week’s study and this one you posted to is last week’s. Go to the Bible Study Blog page on Deebrestin.com and it’ll take you to this week’s study, or see if this works:
      http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/2012/01/we-begin-2012-how-women-get-free/

      Look forward to having you join us!

  26. So glad to see I’m not too late to get started. Thanks Dee for this study. I think it is just what I need to grow closer to Him in 2012.