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.
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.
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
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved but abides forever.
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.
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?
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
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!