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WORD PICTURES FROM YOU TO HELP YOU CHANGE

LAST WEEK WE BEGAN TO STUDY HOW TO USE WORD PICTURES

TO SPEAK TO OUR SOULS

DRAWING UPON THE PICTURES WE SEE “PAINTED” IN

SCRIPTURE AND IN GREAT HYMNS


WHEN THE WEEK HAD JUST DAWNED

YOU WERE THERE WITH YOUR PICTURES

I CANNOT MENTION THEM ALL — BUT HERE ARE SOME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANNE HAD BEEN IN PSALM 18, WHEN “GOD HEARS OUR CRY FROM

HIS TEMPLE AND COMES THUNDERING DOWN TO OUR RESCUE”

AND DIDN’T WE SEE THAT LIVED OUT BEFORE US WHEN OUR OWN TAMMI WAS MISSING

AND THEN FOUND? OUR CRIES WENT OUT TO GOD — AND THEN OUR REJOICING!


Elizabeth  remembered this picture of Jesus from Revelation 19, when He returns. She wrote, once, on this blog:

This picture moved me to tears. It brings this passage in Revelation to life. It is His coming to me – not just on that great day, but NOW. When I look up these verses I feel Him hoist me up on the horse, holding me, carrying me through my pain – out of my lost-ness and fulfilling that deep deep longing in my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.redbubble.com/people/aleonart/portfolio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renee remembered this portrayal of Aleonart from

The Song of Songs, “Awake South Wind” — and of God’s love for her

This amazing passage talks about thanking Him for the warm south wind (His Love)

and trusting Him in the cold north winds (Because He died for us we can!)

Angela, who has suffered so with Lyme’s Disease

remembered how God came to Job

in William Blake’s painting

Job portrays the Gospel —

for centuries later there was a greater Job who also suffered

but was not delivered

He did it for us

Julie told of putting Psalm 62 up near her desk when her husband was in Afghanistan

drawing strength from its word pictures: He is our rock, our salvation,

our fortress, our refuge

How can you see The Gospel in the truth that He is the Rock?

THERE WERE SO MANY MORE FROM YOU

BUT I WANT TO CLOSE WITH THREE — BECAUSE THEY HELP US “PEER INTO THE GOSPEL”

WHICH IS THE SECRET OF HELPING YOU TO

TRULY “PUT OFF” AND “PUT ON”

THE VERSE WE ARE INTENTLY HIDING IN OUR HEART

SO THAT WE CAN BE MADE NEW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan mentioned this portrait of Hosea, who was a Christ-figure, covering Gomer,

who was unfaithful to Him. Such a good picture of the Gospel and how Christ covers us.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rembrandt: Return of the Prodigal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kim, who has been so freed by “peering into the Gospel” said this Rembrandt portrait impacted her so. God accepts her as He did the wayward younger brother, and even as He accepts the hard-hearted older brother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAURA-DANCER, WHO KEEPS TELLING US  SHE HAS NO IMAGINATION,

FOUND HERSELF MOVED TO TEARS IN CHURCH

AS SHE CONTEMPLATED THE WORDS TO THE SONG “ABOVE ALL”

JESUS WAS TRAMPLED LIKE A ROSE — FOR US!

SO HOW CAN WE NOT LOVE HIM?

A common thread in all of your pictures, was longing to trust God’s love. We are going to continue in Ephesians, the book in which Paul prays that we might “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of Christ.”

It is in the Gospel that you see the height of His love — and peering into the Gospel can change you.

If you are new, follow the directions on the right on this homepage. You’ll need to be approved the first time. Then you’ll be able to make comments whenever. Many copy this into a word document and type their answers there first, then copy them here. I’ve made suggestions for how to move through the week, but you are free to go at your own pace.

Some of you have asked about how Tammi is doing. When she walked into the sheriff’s office, she was disoriented and didn’t know who she was. She is now hospitalized near her step-father and mother in Alabama. Please continue to pray for her as doctors try to understand what happened and for the Lord to heal and comfort her.

Sunday-Monday  Icebreaker

1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go-to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior?

2. Challenge question (If you are just beginning, you don’t have to do this.) We are in the book of Ephesians, in which Paul prays we will begin to comprehend the height, the depth, the width and the breadth of the love of God. That can happen by “peering into the Gospel.” The pictures above are various reflections of The Gospel, and they are all based on various passages of Scripture. Amazingly, the Gospel can be found from Genesis to Revelation. Now — focus on the picture you chose (or another), find the Scripture behind it, and see what you can glean about the Gospel from it.

Monday-Tuesday: Review (If you just joined us, you may want to read last week’s post and listen to the free sermon.)

Putting Off and Putting On

Another way to say this is repentance and faith. There are two steps. This is from Tim Keller:

A. (Putting Off or Repentance)

Hating the sin/or itself. “Lord I see how repulsive this idol is. Lord, the thing itself is not what is evil—it is what my heart has done to it—elevating it—that makes it evil. I refuse to be controlled by it any longer. It wreaks havoc in my life. You justify me, not this. You are my master, not this. I will not be controlled by this. This is not my life (I don’t have to have it), but CHRIST is my life (I only have to have him.)”

B. (Putting On or Faith)

Rejoicing in the grace and work of Jesus. “Lord, I have been trying to earn my own salvation and weave my own righteousness. But you are my salvation and righteousness. I am accepted in your Son! All my problems come because I am forgetting how loved, honored, beautiful, secure, rich, respected, embraced, free in Jesus. And all other ways of finding honor, etc. are vain. Let me be so ravished with your love of me that no other love can control me.”

Meditate on this poem by John Donne. Make it a prayer —

Take me to you, imprison me.
For I, except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

 

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE FROM MY LIFE OF HOW I AM APPLYING THESE TWO STEPS TO ONE OF MY NEGATIVE BEHAVIORS. THEN I WANT YOU TO DO THE SAME WITH A  NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR IN YOUR OWN LIFE

I wake earlier than I should and begin to worry about various things. I know we are told not to worry — so what do I do?

A. I must discern the idol and hate the sin. I am worried because I don’t trust God to be in control of my children, my ministry…

I ask myself, “What is the lie I am believing?” I think I can handle things better than God so I am trying to figure things out — a nice term for worry. But I can’t just stop worrying, even though I have discerned it is negative behavior and hate it. I must move to step B.

B. Philippians tells me to have no anxiety about anything but in everything, with thanksgiving, make my requests to God. It also tells me to set my mind on that which is lovely… Therefore, I can ask God to help me sleep (I often will pray Psalm 127:2: It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives His beloved sleep.) But I also need to set my mind on that which is lovely — and the Gospel helps me with that. Many of the actual pictures above come to mind, as well as lines from hymns or verses. Usually, I do find myself turning from my control and resting in Him and going back to sleep. If I still cannot, I will continue in a classic I’m reading from my Kindle on my nightstand, and that can help me set my mind on Him.

3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off)

B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on)

Wednesday-Friday: Bible Study and Download Sermon. This sermon is 2.50, but well worth it.

Sermon Link: Link

If you cannot afford that, here is a substitute free Vimeo video that has some of the same points.  Free Vimeo Link

Read (or say by heart) Ephesians 4:22-24

4. Putting off without putting on is ineffective and even dangerous. Give an example, hopefully, from your own life of why this either doesn’t work or actually can be hurtful.

5. There is a link in this passage between putting off and putting on in verse 23. What is it and what do you think this means?

6. Putting on without putting off is dangerous too. In the sermon, Keller talks about the danger of passivity, giving the example of masturbation. If you just ask God to take it from you but are not willing to die, what is likely to happen in time?

7. For those who have journeyed with us, give an example of a sister from this blog who you have seen put off and put on.

8. Listen to the sermon and share:

A. What does Keller say is unique about Christianity and why?

B. Keller talked about stealing as an example. Jay Adams asks, “When is a thief not a thief?” What is the answer and what does this illustrate?

C. Idols are an attempt to solve a problem. Give an example of this and how Christ is a better solution.

D. What else stood out to you from this message?

Saturday

9. What’s your take-a-way and why?

If you can watch the movie Courageous in the next two weeks, we’re going to talk about its strengths and weaknesses in light of Gospel Transformation.

Courageous Movie Poster

 

 

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318 comments

    1. Lord, I agree with Diane and we pray that you would bring to remembrance the Tim Keller sermon she listened to and Lord we ask that you would continue to soften her heart to respond to your wooing her. Lord we don’t know what is best for Bonnie, but you do-so we will trust you with her heart both physically and spiritually. Thank you for Doctors, for medicine and how you have done so much through them to care for Bonnie. In your precious name..

      1. Praying for Bonnie, Dee.

    2. Dear Father, we lift up Bonnie to Your arms tonight. Lord, we pray for peace for her now, that can only come from You. I pray You as the Great Physician, would bring both physical and spiritual healing to her heart dear Lord.

    3. Lord I lift up Bonnie to you and I ask Lord that you give her peace and comfort as she has this surgery. I ask Lord that some how this surgery and. Time in the hospital open up her eyes and soften her heart to having an everlasting relationship with you. I ask that you give the doctors and the nurses who will be around her the wisdom they need for this procedure. May your mighty angels be around her in these doctors and nurses that she just can’t get away from the presence of you Lord. I pray for strength for her family tomorrow during and after the surgery. In Jesus name AMEN.

  1. Father, We know you are right there with Bonnie. Hold her in your arms physically and spiritually. Use the doctors’ skills to fix her heart and speak to her of Your love. Amen.

  2. Lord I pray for Bonnie and I ask you to woo her and bring her to yourselve.

    Amen

  3. Ladies I also came On here to ask prayer for my mom who is having surgery on Tuesday she is getting her gallbladder removed. Also I am going in a cruise from feb 24th through march 4 th with my mom, stepdad, stepsister and stepbrother and my stepdads parents please pray for that time together. They r not saved so I know it’s going to be difficult!

    Thanks

    Love you sisters!!

    1. Father, I pray for Meg’s mom and the surgery on Tuesday. Lord, take care of her and help her to sense you are there and loving her. Be with Meg at this time too. Thank you for her faith in you. Use her in the lives of her family to speak your truth and love.

    2. Praying for your mom, Meg — and that you will enjoy each other on the cruise.

    3. Praying for your mom Meg–and your time with them

    4. Meg I will be praying for your mom’s surgery and for all of their hearts to soften as they see the will of God in your life come thru so strong that they want to know what you have and how to get it. I pray for a peaceful time with all on this cruise.

  4. Dear Heavenly Father, I ask for your healing touch with Bonnie and Meg’s mom also. Heal their body’s and fill them with your spirit and love for you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus

  5. I will be in prayer, too, for Bonnie’s heart ablation (and her spiritual heart, too!),
    and for Meg’s mom and their vacation together.

    Dear Lord,
    We have so many needs, needs for healing, for protection, for relationships, for safety, for comfort and strength. Thank you for being the God of compassion and comfort, who never turns us away when we come to You for help.

  6. 1. I have chosen three pictures that help me see the love of God.

    1. Martin French’s Bridegroom warrior – I have been pondering Jesus as warrior king. Nowadays, Christ is usually portrayed in churches as love but not justice. When I feel under attack by Satan, even emotionally attacked, it helps to picture Jesus riding in on his white horse. It is SO HELPFUL to know that God will rescue me from Satan’s attacks.

    2. Aleonart’s “Awake the South Wind” – I found the picture intriguing and went back to the Dee study where you had dealt with it from the Song of Solomon. I read the blog and found imagery interesting. I quote from the blog: “In the Song of Songs, the Beloved says to her Lover: “Awake north wind, and come south wind! Blow upon my garden that its fragrance may spread abroad.” (Song of Songs 4:16)Throughout Scripture, including the psalms, we learn how the Lord would have us respond when He brings the north wind (the hard things of life) and also, when He brings the south wind (the sweet things of life). The purpose of our lives is to glorify God, to let His fragrance be spread abroad. That can happen when our heart is right, whatever weather He ordains.” These are thoughts definitely worth pondering.

    3. Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal” – I read Henri Nouwen’s book on this picture. It was amazing! I certainly can identify myself both as the prodigal son and the critical older brother.

  7. Dee, I am praying for Bonnie, for her safety tomorrow, healing and for her salvation. Is it possible to get a poster or print of the Warrior Bridegroom? I don’t see it on his website and I don’t find him at all on Amazon.

    1. Anne, I just copied Dee’s picture’s on this week’s study and they print out nice. Hope that’s okay to do that.

      1. Thanks Joyce

  8. 1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go-to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior?

    I picked the picture of the rose — and got an education. This one captured my imagination the most this evening — My mom was known for her flowers and gardening. I remember how hurt I felt a few years ago when someone dug up/stole her favorite perennial.

    First, I thought of Jesus as the Rose of Sharon, and it turns out that is NOT in the Bible, at least not directly. “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys” was said by the Shulamite woman. It seems to refer to the bride, not the bridegroom. I read that hymn writers got confused, and the word “rose” was brought into the picture with the KJV. The term may more literally translated “crocus” — or else it is a gladiola! Here’s a pretty picture of what might be a rose of Sharon: http://www.biblestudy.org/question/does-rose-of-sharon-symbolize-jesus.html

    Next clue from the song “Above All:” “Like a rose trampled on the ground, You took the fall and thought of me.”
    I do know how to get the best smell out of flowers; that is by squishing the leaves or petals (I go a little bonkers in the herb sections of greenhouses). Trampling would release the fragrance. Eph 5:2 “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” In the OT, offerings to God frequently were associated with burning fragrant incense. Jesus, the ultimate offering, was trampled for us and was the most sweet smelling offering. His sweet aroma is a big contrast with the stench of my sin.

    2 Cor describes the “putting on:” “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

  9. Dee, Thanks for the update on Tammy. I keep looking here to see if she has posted yet.

  10. 1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go-to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior?

    I still love Martin French’s painting and this blog is the first place I ever saw it. Since it has been refreshed in my mind the past few weeks, I have gone to it many times in my mind. I applied this today to my control idol kicking in about a particular situation. He is coming on that white horse, He is ready for battle against my idols, He comes to lift me up onto that horse with Him, on to victory—but I do have to bend my knees to be able to get on there! You know? I can’t just stay stiff-legged, insisting my own way. I have to bend—confess, admit my weakness. Then I have to look up to Him–and let Him grab hold of me, and lift me up to ride with Him through the battle.

    I also have always loved Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son. Ever since reading Nouwen’s book over 10 years ago, I have been moved by it—and even prior to that the story has been one God has continually used to break me, to open my eyes to my true identity. For years I thought I was only the older brother—though I felt justified in being that, and even lied to myself that I was content in that. When God showed me my sin was my own pride, I realized the need to become the younger son, and the overflow of love an acceptance, always available to me—just waiting to be received. When I am tempted to defend myself, to blame someone else…I can call to mind this scene and remember I am desperate for His grace, and I WANT to be the one at His feet. I want to uncross my arms, fall to my knees in confession, and believe in His love for me, His perfect provision for my life.

  11. 1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go-to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior?

    For some reason Rembrandt’s “The Prodigal” struck me. This time though it is in the contrast of the response to the Father-the younger son vs. the older son. It doesn’t matter what they did before-I just see one collapsed in the Father’s lap accepting His caress’ and love, and then the other one is far off in the background-far away from the Father rejecting Him even though the Father’s has extended His love to Him.

    I am like the Older brother when I allow a negative behavior to take root, and like the younger brother when I throw it off and turn to Jesus accepting His love-loving Him back.

    1. Rebecca, studying the story of the prodigal and this picture was a turning point for me. I was in real life the “elder brother” to my baby brother who went out into the world and lived for the devil for awhile. After I repented for thinking more of myself than he I began to be full of compassion towards him. He will never know how much the picture and story changed me. I love him so much deeply b/c of seeing myself in this new light.

      1. Kim, I love your story and how God used the prodigal story-how awesome. YOU are a GREAT picture of how the older brother should have responded to God, but instead he kept his hand up and backed away. I never get the chance to tell you Kim, but as He transforms you it has brought so much glory to Him-and it encourages me so.

        You know, I guess before coming to Dee’s blog I didn’t consider the older brother as being prodigal too. I think it is because the younger brother is always focused on-I don’t get that as it is clear as you read on the older brother sinned with his anger too and there is a contrast in the response of both. I would think most teachers/pastors would want to expand on that, but over and over when I hear it taught I don’t hear much taught about the older brother and the mercy the Father has on him even in his anger. Interesting.

        1. Yes, yes! They are missing a most important teaching. Neither brother loved the father-both wanted something from him. I believe this was when my eyes first began to open to how sinful I am so it’s a very important part of MY story.
          Thank you for the encouragement, I have such a long journey ahead but have come so far!

      2. Kim, I caught myself as the older brother just last Friday. God pointed it out to me and I am so grateful. It is progress for me because I saw how hard my heart was. Painful but progress.

        1. Yes, even though I feel totally free from God and forgiven, I will have to keep my attitudes in check.

  12. I am so thankful for the study and love using word pictures. I had a very busy week with taxes on my business and a friend moving so I will catch up on the sermon tomorrow.
    1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go-to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior?
    I am going to go-to the powerful Martin French picture: Warrior Bridegroom. It fits perfectly with Anne’s PSALM 18, “GOD HEARS OUR CRY FROM HIS TEMPLE AND COMES THUNDERING DOWN TO OUR RESCUE”. I also am drawn to Julie’s picture when I am in tumult.

  13. This is my first posting here, though I have been reading the blog off and on for awhile.
    I have been going through a particularly lonely season since around November. The picture that captured my attention tonight is the one of Hosea & Gomer. I went through a divorce 3 years ago, and healing is coming in layers. We’d been married close to 30 years and he decided to leave. God has allowed 3 of my dearest friends (most of what I would call my “support system”) to be unavailable in the last few months. The holiday season was rough this time around, and I found myself not having anyone I could really share my pain with. I am beginning to see Jesus as my husband at a much deeper level than even when I was going through that painful year of divorce. It would still be nice to have a sister to be able to call on the phone and share with, but I have been working on leaning towards the Lord more, and allowing Him to spread His cloak around me in this stormy gray season. Blessings to you all, and thank you, Dee, for creating this forum for fellowship and encouragement!

    1. Welcome, Pam. So sorry for your pain.

    2. Pam, I too am sorry for what you have gone through and thankful the Lord is near the brokenhearted. WELCOME!

    3. Welcome Pam I understand what you are going thru and will be praying for God’s love to full you to capacity.

    4. Pam, I am praying for you. I’ve gone through what your going through and it is very painful. I love what you said here, Pam…”but I have been working on leaning towards the Lord more, and allowing Him to spread His cloak around me in this stormy gray season.” You have been leaning in on the Lord, I can tell. Praying!

    5. Welcome, Pam. I am so glad you found comfort in the painting of Hosea and Gomer, and how you see Him spreaking His cloak around you in the storms of your life right now. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    6. Pam, I am so sorry for what you have been through. You are so right to lean on Jesus because you are His beloved. I pray that as you lean into Him you will find yourself surrounded by loving, faithful friends.

  14. Sunday-Monday  Icebreaker

    1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go-to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior? – All of the pictures were so good and eye opening but as far as getting over a negative comment or thought I have to say I used My Soul Finds Rest Psalm 62 a few times last week. It was an emotional time as my son Kyle who is now stationed in Kansas called crying and was so ready to blow from the pain and pressure he’s under in and from the Army. He has now said twice being killed would have been much better then what he is going thru now. He is on the fence to what he believes but he did go talk to the chaplain finally but in my eyes was a little disappointing as the chaplain told him to go back to the mental health Drs. I was so hoping that he may have opened Kyle’s eyes and heart to see the love he can find in Jesus.

    1. Julie, I will be praying for your son, Kyle. I am so sorry.

    2. Oh, my, this must be very difficult for you, Julie. My prayers are with you and Kyle. I have a son in the military as well here in Canada. He has never been overseas yet.

    3. Thank you all for the prayers and for lifting Kyle up to the most High.

    4. Julie, I had to skim the comments earlier so I missed this. I am so very sorry for this situation and commit to pray for Kyle. Love and hugs.

    5. Julie, I am so sorry. I cannot imagine what that must feel like to hear your son going through something so incredibly hard, and know that you cannot rescue him from it. I will commit to pray for Kyle, Julie–writing it down!

    6. Julie, my heart goes out to you. I pray that Kyle will know from this experience how the Lord walks with him through this valley. I pray for his deliverance and complete submission to the Lord.

  15. Thank you,, sisters, for your welcome and prayers!

  16. 2. Challenge question Now — focus on the picture you chose (or another), find the Scripture behind it, and see what you can glean about the Gospel from it. – I have always liked the Prodigal Son parable as it reminds me that we all able to return to the only One that loves us unconditionally. When we repent and see our wrongs that we have done Jesus will welcome us home with open arms, no questions asked. I haven’t read the book by Henri Nouwen on the prodigal son but I have read The Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur and in it, it says, “we are all prodigal sons and daughters. We are all guilty of self-indulgence, dissipation, and unrestrained lust. We have been heedless to the consequences of sin and reckless in the pursuit of evil. Apart from God’s restraining grace, every one of us would have long ago sold our birthright, wasted our lives and squandered every blessing God has given us–trading away His bountiful, daily goodness in exchange for a brief moment of cheap self-gratification.” God is so loving and forgiving I just want to continue to search out his promises and teachings so I can please him and live a life that is worthy of being a Christ follower.

      1. Thanks Dee, I will have to go back and find them. I did see them last night someplace but can’t remember where I was on the site.

  17. This is my favorite picture of all. I want Jesus to come for me like this.

  18. 1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go-to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior?

    I am choosing the picture of Gomer in Hosea. I love the way he is putting the cloak on her to comfort her when she feels so inadequate.

    2. Challenge question (If you are just beginning, you don’t have to do this.) We are in the book of Ephesians, in which Paul prays we will begin to comprehend the height, the depth, the width and the breadth of the love of God. That can happen by “peering into the Gospel.” The pictures above are various reflections of The Gospel, and they are all based on various passages of Scripture. Amazingly, the Gospel can be found from Genesis to Revelation. Now — focus on the picture you chose (or another), find the Scripture behind it, and see what you can glean about the Gospel from it.

    Of course, I pick the picture that is difficult to interpret the scripture (in my opinion)! Hosea was a person whom God spoke through; as my Bible says, a Christ-like figure. God was punishing Israel (again) because she wasn’t listening to His commandments. He tells Hosea to marry a promiscuous women because like an adulterous woman, the land has been unfaithful to Him:

    Hosea 2:
     2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.”

    The Lord wanted to punish Israel, but to also praise Judah, the southern “kingdom” for her faithfulness to Him. Ultimately, Christ would come (a foreshadowing is here) and bring the two, and all of us, gentile and Jew, together.

    11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.[c]

    So, Hosea, putting the cloak on Gomer, reminds us of the Lord taking care of us when we are yet sinners. We don’t deserve it, but we are loved regardless.

    1. Wow praying that all goes smoothly and well – The StoneCutter.

      Praying for Bonnie as well! Praying Docs see clearly and all done gently.

      Praying for you too Meg with your mom’s surgery and all going well and your cruise. May the light of the gospel shine strong through you as you love and are an example of HIM.

    2. Praying for Bonnie again this morning, Dee – please let us know how she is doing!

      1. Yes Dee, I’m also praying for your sister and for your “Stonecutter” book.

    3. I will be praying for you this week in finishing Stonecutter. I know you have been a published author for a long time now, but this must be nerve wracking … and exciting at the same time. What all is involved in the publication process?

  19. 2. Challenge question-Now — focus on the picture you chose (or another), find the Scripture behind it, and see what you can glean about the Gospel from it.

    I have been busy lately so I couldn’t expand above, but I have to say before I came to Dee’s blog I didn’t think of looking at paintings or pictures and meditating on them. Dee has opened up a whole new world to me of ways to worship Him..I am so grateful!

    Mine is the Prodigal Son painting-That has always stuck with me from our study. That one and the Martin French-Warrior Bridegroom.

    Luke 15: 17-31 is where God quickened me this morning.

    I JUST PICKED UP ON THIS! WOW! The younger brother applied the Gospel to his idol issue which could have been comfort-He saw the idol as the beast bringing him starvation in contrast with his father’s amazing love in how his father always had more than enough provision for his servants. He saw the TRUTH about The Father’s love through his over abundant provision and comfort which compelled him to repent and go to Him. Wow!

    The older brother in contrast should have seen His Father’s great, love and unmerited mercy toward his younger brother and embraced the Gospel and turned from His anger embracing The Father’s love, but instead he clung to his approval or control idol or which ever it was. Even after the Gospel was reiterated to Him by the Father when He said in v. 31 “My son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours.” -he didn’t apply the fact that The Father lavished on Him sonship, and all His riches and wealth-THE HONOR OF BEING HIS SON. Instead of allowing it to melt his heart-he put up his hand and backed away. He refused to repent and turn and fall into His Father’s arms.

    The responses of both sons is stark and a perfect picture of how we can be both. My heart flipped to think that even when I respond like the older brother-God says to me-“Rebecca, you are my daughter, you are always with me and everything I have is yours.”

    1. I agree, Rebecca, that Dee has opened up a whole new way of using pictures and paintings to meditate on God and worship Him… loved your answers here!

    2. Wow is right. Good quickening. And, maybe some power idol for wanting his father to make the younger pay for his sins. Maybe control idol for wanting to make sure his own estate was intact?
      This has become my favorite parable. So glad the Lord was gracious to me and showed me myself as I “peered” into the gospel.

    3. Great thoughts, Rebecca.

  20. 1. Of the above pictures from your sisters on the blog, choose one, possibly two, that help you see the love of Christ for you and explain why. Could one of these become, as Elizabeth said, your “go to” picture this week to help you in overcoming a negative behavior?

    The painting of Hosea, who represents Jesus, and Gomer, who represents, in my imagination, me, helps me see the love Jesus has for me. I was the guilty, ashamed, sinful woman, dressed in scarlet. Gomer looks “closed”, her arms held close to her body and her hands clasped, like trying to cover her shame. She looks at the ground; at this point, she is unable to even respond to him. There is such sorrow on her face. Yet Hosea moves in so close to her, spreading his white cloak over and around her, a look of compassion and love on his face; there is tenderness in him. Yet, it also speaks to me not only as a picture of Jesus’ forgiveness of my sins, but the times when I am sad, grieving, lonely, afraid; He gently invites me in, He spreads His garment of comfort over me. And when Satan throws my past in my face, with accusations, Jesus protects me again under that garment of His white, pure, righteousness. He is my Defender. It reminds me that when God looks at me, I am under the shield of that garment; Christ my righteousness. Reminds me of the line from Jesus Lover of My Soul – “Cover my defenseless head”. That’s what he is doing in this painting.

  21. 2. Focus on the picture you chose, (or another), find the Scripture behind it, and see what you can glean about the gospel from it.

    Hosea 3:1-2

    The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved
    by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites,
    though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.
    So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of
    barley.”

    Gomer is on the auction block, and God tells Hosea to “go…love again”. The gospel can be found in Genesis, when the first man and woman sinned, and again and again, in the history of the Israelites, they continually forget about God, ignore Him, turn to other gods, act as adulteresses. Yet, God loves again, and again, and again. In Hosea, God speaks of how He will restore Israel, leading her to the desert, speaking tenderly to her there. He speaks of how “you will call Me ‘my husband’, you will no longer call me ‘my master'”, and He says “I will betroth you to Me forever…in righteousness and justice, love and compassion”.
    On the Cross, God’s love and justice were satisfied. Jesus made it possible for us to be betrothed to Him forever – an unbreakable covenant. Jesus said He would make us free, we would no longer be slaves to sin – we would be sons and daughters. In Hosea, the gospel is shown in the metaphor of marriage. Jesus is “behind” Hosea – Hosea purchased Gomer with silver, Jesus purchased us with His blood.

  22. I am always pleased when God brings confirmation through various unrelated sources. Like Rebecca, I have never contemplated paintings or (for me) poetry, I’m not the artsy type. However, all last week I was listening to a radio program on my way home from work that was focusing on using your imagination to bring you closer to God. It so closely relates to this week’s blog that I know I need to pay attention.
    The picture that stood out to me, was the picture of Gomer and Hosea. How he is loving her and protecting her even though she isn’t worthy of it and the thing that was going through my mind was (this is in bad taste, but it is honestly what I was thinking) “O.K. I’m out here cold, naked and alone waiting to be rescued. I’ve been waiting so long that I am probably going to die from exposure. Does God come and rescue me? No, I’m still waiting. Along comes temporary warmth and comfort from another. They want me (for a little while) they’ll take care of me (at least make me feel better for the moment). Yes, I am letting myself be used, but at least I won’t die while I’m waiting to be rescued.” I went to bed wrestling with whether or not to put this on the blog and thinking that I probably wouldn’t.
    This morning as I am sitting here praying and reading the blog, God revealed to me that I’ve been listening to and believing lies. I’m not waiting and abandoned. He is here, His blanket and arms are wrapped around me. It’s taking me a while to warm up because I have been “chilled to the bone”, but I am in warm loving protection. He came as fast as lightning to rescue me. I just have to look up, reach out my hands, move in closer and get what I want and need. I have to quit looking around and wandering off. Just stay put!!

    1. Dawn–this is an INCREDIBLE post! I was just coming home between errands and saw this–I am running out the door but HAD to respond. This is just beautiful–I am so moved, and praying–praying you will feel the warmth of His arms around you as never before–WOW.

    2. So glad you decided to post this, Dawn…so good:)

    3. This is very good, Dawn M.S. “God revealed to me that I’ve been listening to and believing lies. I’m not waiting and abandoned. He is here, His blanket and arms are wrapped around me. It’s taking me a while to warm up because I have been “chilled to the bone”, but I am in warm loving protection. He came as fast as lightning to rescue me. I just have to look up, reach out my hands, move in closer and get what I want and need. I have to quit looking around and wandering off. Just stay put!!” I needed to hear this too.

    4. Dawn,
      I’m glad you chose to post your thoughts because we are all benefitting from your honesty and what God is showing you! This is really remarkable. I love how you write “along comes temporary warmth and comfort from another. They want me (for a little while) they’ll take care of me (at least make me feel better for the moment).”
      So true of our idols – they lie! And then how God revealed the lies to you and replaced them with truth! This is awesome!

    5. Where’s the like button! Very good picture.

    6. My dear Dawn, I have been struggling tonight wanting to make pancakes-sweets except for special occasions are not in my plan. I thought I had better do something before I give in to temptation so I came here first and when I read this my heart melted by your sweet testimony of what He revealed to you. You said, “They want me (for a little while) they’ll take care of me (at least make me feel better for the moment). Yes, I am letting myself be used, but at least I won’t die while I’m waiting to be rescued.” Pancakes would have only made me feel better for a moment and then BAM! the guilt of turning to them instead of Him for satisfaction would have hit me. Thank you for sharing and helping me turn to the only one who truly satisfies for the long haul.

  23. Now — focus on the picture you chose (or another), find the Scripture behind it, and see what you can glean about the Gospel from it.
    The Martin French picture has captured my imagination and apparently the Father is aware of this 😉 for last evening I went to the frig and saw Jesus on that stallion rescuing me!
    As I ponder the picture I would love to ask Mr. French if he intended the set of eyes at the top behind Jesus. I also see the profile of a mean bearded being in the bottom half (left). Jesus’ hand looks ready to snatch me out of trouble.
    Excited to glean from Revelation and have new revelation.

    1. Kim, I see the eye, but I’ve been staring at the bottom left corner to visulize “the profile of a mean bearded being in the bottom half (left)”. Does anyone else see it? I just love all of his paintings.

      1. Yes, I saw the profile of a mean bearded man in the bottom left too. But then when I went back later to look for it again, I couldn’t see it. 🙂 Glad to know I wasn’t just imagining!

        1. The left stirrup is the eye!

        2. Thank you, Diane…I think I see it now!

    2. I see the bearded man….it is the entire left side of the bottom of the painting. It is his profile; his nose sticks out to the left 🙂

    1. oh Dee, just came to check for an update–we are going to Him again on our knees now

    2. Praying right now, Dee. Just like we cried out for Tammy, we are crying out for Bonnie! God is hearing – He will rescue.

    3. Dear Lord, you are all knowing and you know what the condition of Bonnie is right now. Please help her heal. Dee is trying to help her come go know you Lord. It is important that we find ways to impress on others your grace and love. Please give Bonnie the chance to know you Lord. Thank you for your loving kindness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

    1. Will continue praying, and thankful she is improving!

    2. Praying, Dee.

    3. This is good news – keep us posted and we will keep praying!

    4. Jesus we lift Bonnie to you and your care. Please touch her with your healing hands and give her more time to find you as Savior. Calm her family and loved ones. Your perfect will be done as we trust how much you love her and long to bring her to yourself.

    5. Will keep praying till all is well including her salvation.

    6. Dee, got this yesterday while driving around 5:30 ish and prayed-will keep praying! Oh my hope is she will turn to Him, of course even more so is His desire! Thanks so much for posting these updates!

  24. 2. As I said above, The Prodigal Son story has been a profound tool God has used over and over in my life. While I’m the baby of my family, I lived as the older son in that I believed my good deeds should earn me a higher standing with my parents than my rebellious sister. I remember feeling inside my parents should at least “like” me more, because, gee, I was just so good—especially compared to her! My idol of “fairness” stuck with me for YEARS. I guess the biggest Gospel application for me in this story now is that I cannot earn my own righteousness, nor can I lose it. I am His child, I am loved, and it is not dependent on my actions—it is dependent on His, on what He already did on the Cross. I just have to repent when I forget this truth, and believe.

  25. I’m asking for prayers for my husbands cousin Rose who has been put in a coma. Her organs are shutting down and right now does not look good, but I know we have the most powerful healer there is. Thanks Ladies

    1. Praying, Julie.

    2. Thank you for the prayers for my husbands cousin Rose. I just wanted to update that she passed away Wednesday morning and the memorial service is tomorrow. Please pray for strength and comfort to all of her family and friends during this time. I may not be on the rest of the weekend but sill try to keep up with this weeks study.

  26. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off) – Complaining, mumbling, grumbling. I have to stop myself from being in these situations. I need to cleanse my mind and heart of of these impure idols. Lord please clean my mind and heart out of all these issues like cleaning out the guts of a pumpkin to make room for the candle, the light that shines, your light Lord.

    B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on) – Lord, I come to you for help please help me to know that you are all I need to focus on. Your truth, love, grace and mercy are mine for the taking. All I have to do is come to you in repentance and believe that I am forgiven. Your Word says that “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8 MSG)

    1. love that from the Message Julie–really brings it home

  27. 2. Challenge question
    I am so glad I chose Revelation 19 for it is so full and overflowing with the Gospel!

    On His head were many crowns: The last time this earth saw Jesus He wore a crown of thorns. This is the gospel that He wore a crown of thorns so that I could become the bride of a King.

    I found this from Spurgeon:
    On that day, everyone will see the church for what she really is: the precious bride of Jesus. “The Bride of Christ is a sort of Cinderella now, sitting among the ashes. She is like her Lord, ‘despised and rejected of men’; the watchmen smite her, and take away her veil from her; for they know her not, even as they knew not her Lord. But when he shall appear, then shall she appear also, and in his glorious manifestation she also shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.” (Spurgeon)

  28. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.
    Behavior: Worrying about the future makes me think about going to the frig to eat when I’m not hungry. Idol: Comfort and security.
    This happened to me tonight. I wanted to comfort myself and make pancakes b/c life is difficult and scary. While I didn’t give in I see worry leads to this behavior- my mom is causing me emotional pain, my sister is facing surgery, my brother is facing divorce, the taxes on my seasonal business are very high and I wonder where the government is headed. I wonder if these are the end of days and what the future holds for my children and future grandchildren.

    A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off) Lord forgive me for worrying about tomorrow. I waste waste my time and expend my energy wondering what the future holds. When worry takes hold it makes me think about food and want to eat to comfort myself.

    B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on)Let me remember and count the promises you have kept concerning me in the past. Lord, you say to fret not so I will sing the word to my soul in the form of a favorite tune that says, “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there. He’s charting the course you’ll take, He sees each hidden snare… http://youtu.be/BuBZLJ31Xc4
    Dee, I can see the great benefit of putting off and putting on. This has helped me today and I thank you.

    1. Thanks for sharing the music. It`s a beautiful song.

  29. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off)

    Lord, I suppose that worry is also an idol for me right now. I worry I won’t accomplish everything I need to for my deadlines for my two classes plus my real job. I worry that I am not being attentive to my family. I worry that I am overloaded and can’t possibly do it all very well. This is NOT how you want us to live at all! I realize this and am trying to make sure I get my sleep, which helps me to focus. I also refuse to give up this Bible study because it keeps me grounded in what is truly important in life, You. Thank you lord for helping me keep a perspective that is truth.

    B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on)

    Lord, you are always watching over me. You know we are not strong when it comes to idols like worry. Thank you for providing clear, lucid thoughts when we begin to feel the anxiety inside and the worry beast over comes us. You are King and can handle anything for us, we just need to believe You will hold us up no matter what. The next three months may be a crazy ride for me, but You will be with me, guiding me and helping me along. When I work I know you will keep me focused on work. When I study, I know you will provide a clear picture of what I need to know. And, when I am attending to my family, you will help me to remember the important parts of what I am doing to help the family member in their need. I will continue to study your word and pray because ultimately you are the prize. You are all I really need to get me through, in this set of obstacles and others that come to me in the future. Thank you Jesus. Amen.

  30. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off)

    Negative behavior: Worry and fear. “what if I do have a cold coming on and I am scheduled to sing this Sunday?” I am singing a special this Sunday and have only this week to learn the song as the date was moved back to this Sunday because the drummer that does the song has to be able to do the drum part which is difficult. I am not comfortable with it yet because the vocals are challenging in some spots. I also feel like a cold may be coming on. My idol is Control and Approval.

    B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on)

    Lord I confess that I am not believing you are in control and that I am approved and beloved by you-I am holding up approval of others and control of the situation as more ultimate than you-more weightier. I am forgetting the honor of being in your bosom-what you have lavished on me is so far superior than this concern. I think I can handle this better than you. Lord I hate this idol and I am so sorry I didn’t trust you with this. I am throwing it off and turning to you, creator of my very breath. Lord you are my control. As sure as the Holy Spirit hovered above the chaos of creation-so you hover over the chaos in my life. You are my control. You made me and my voice for you-to worship you-you are my life and you will move in your timing on this song.

    1. your heart is so beautiful Rebecca–just love you! I’m praying you don’t have a cold coming on–and for Sunday! –or was this just an example?–either way, praying!

  31. Ladies

    My mom is in surgery now! Please pray!

  32. Dear Heavenly Father,

    I ask You to be with Meg’s mom in surgery, guide and direct the surgeon’s hands and the hands of all who will be caring for her. I pray and ask for an uncomplicated surgery and for healing. Please be with Meg and her family and comfort them. Please let this time in Meg’s mom’s life turn her thoughts to You.
    Lord, I also pray for Julie’s husband’s cousin, Rose. Please be with her, Lord, and I pray for Your intervention in this situation.
    Lord, I pray and ask also for Dee’s sister Bonnie, that her condition is stabilizing and that You would use this in her life to invade her thoughts and turn her heart to You.
    In Jesus’ Name, Amen

    1. Oh Yes Father, I pray for Bonnie, Rose and Meg’s mom. I will keep them in my heart and pray for them continually as God draws my mind to them, through out the day and week. Please let us have updates on them.

  33. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    The negative behavior is self-pity, just a downward spiral of self-pity.

    A. (Discern idol and repent – putting off)

    I believe underneath are the idols of wanting approval/affirmation, and comfort/security, but especially the first. Okay, here goes. This was me one day last week – sitting on my kitchen floor, sobbing, crying, complaining to God why do I have to be so alone, to feel alone and lonely, to not have more close friends, to not have intimacy in my marriage, to be “losing” two of my children as they get older, losing their companionship; losing my nephew; it just went on and on and I was having a really big pity party for myself.
    Last week we were thinking of pictures from Scripture, songs, or art, so I was crying and asking God to please give me a picture because I need one right now! After I calmed down some, I began to think of some words to a song we have sung in church – “…He is mighty to save…the Lord our God takes delight in you…He will quiet you with His love….He will rejoice over you…if you could only hear His voice, you would hear the Lord rejoice, rejoicing over you, with singing”.
    I thought, “Yes, if I could only hear his voice. How can I hear His voice through all this crying?” Then, I remembered what Dee shared in her book, The God of All Comfort. One night she was crying, too, and wondering how she could feel close to a God she couldn’t see. She remembered a time when she tried to nurse her baby but he was screaming and fussing so much he wouldn’t latch on. Finally, he calmed down, found her, and nursed. She thought, “I was right here all along!” And then Dee said it was like God was saying the same thing to her, “Dee, I’m right here!”
    I thought of the psalm we were looking at, Psalm 46, and how it begins with a lot of noise – quaking and roaring and nations in an uproar – but then, God says “Be still and know that I am God”.
    On Sunday in my women’s group, our leader shared what she has been gleaning from 2 Corinthians chapter 1 – the chapter that calls God “the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” She had looked up the meanings of “comfort” – healing comfort, solace, refreshment, encouragement, exhortation, persuasive discourse. The God of all comfort knows exactly which kind of comfort we need at the moment.
    God is also called “the Father of compasssion”. She said “compassion” means – mercy for the hopeless sufferer.
    At the end of class, she played a CD of the hymn “Be Still My Soul”. By that time, I just lost it, but this time, the tears were different than the ones I cried a few days earlier.

    God must just shake His head at my very thick skull! I learned a lot from Keller’s sermon in which he gave the example from Elisabeth Eliot’s book on Loneliness. He explained that putting off means refusing to indulge in the self-pity.

    I need to put-off self-pity and it’s cohorts – bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, indulging in fantasizing to try and comfort myself, turning to food for comfort – all these negative behaviors that result from my feeling blocked from receiving approval/affirmation and comfort/security from people other than God.
    God is trying to get my attention to show me that He is here for me and He is all I need.

    B. (Move toward Him in faith – putting on)

    When I am tempted to despair, to give in to the above self-pity and all the rest, I need to recognize I am believing the lie that God does not love me and cannot meet my needs. I need to counter that with the truth – read, meditate on, say it out loud passages from Scripture that tell me He loves and cares for me. I could put 1 Cor 1 into my own words, “Lord, I praise You, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that You are the Father of compassion, You have mercy on me, a hopeless sufferer, but You do not leave me hopeless – You are the God of All Comfort and You will comfort me in all my troubles and You know just what I need. You can comfort me better than a fantasy, better than a cookie, better than friends and family.”
    I can put off by singing some of the great hymns and praise songs I know that tell me these truths. Keller also said that putting on in the case of loneliness, is to put on obedience. What can I do, perhaps, to help someone else, to comfort them?

    1. oh Susan, thank you for your amazing heart–so vulnerable, so real.
      I read this in my reading today and I thought of you–
      Psalm 25:12-17 “Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.His soul shall abide in well-being,and his offspring shall inherit the land.The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.Turn to me and be gracious to me,for I am lonely and afflicted.The troubles of my heart are enlarged;bring me out of my distresses.”

      Your eyes ARE ever toward Him, Susan, I so see that in you.
      –And I want to join you & Dee on that walk…someday, somehow! 😉

    2. Thank you for your honesty and working so hard to turn your face toward the Lord in your loneliness. My situation is different than yours but I can so identify with your struggles with self-pity and its cohorts. I’m praying for you, Susan, and I wish we could meet face to face and be friends too. I want to join that walk.

    3. Susan, your not the only one who has pity parties! Then I feel so quilty, because we are so blessed! I know he is all we need…so why do I have to keep reminding myself of that? I wish I could give you a big hug:) You are loved here very much and I will be praying for you!

      1. I wish we could all get together and have – not a pity party – but a very much different kind of party! Where we could share and have fellowship with each other – and I would bake the cake!
        By the way, Joyce – how is Dennis doing?

  34. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off) I have been taking the advice: Don’t gossip, don’t complain, and don’t defend yourself. I have to admit I have been pretty quiet at work because of this. The idol I am putting off is acceptance and approval. If I tear other people down and defend myself, I will fit in more with my coworkers. If I get my friend to see how much better I am than the other people at work she will like me more.

    B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) The Lord’s approval and acceptance is all I need. My friend is going to like who she likes for her own reasons. If I am really a good friend I’ll want to draw her toward Christ, not myself and definitely NOT Satan.

    1. I guess putting on would mean that I compliment others and find the good things about my job to talk about.

  35. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off)
    I find myself being defensive and thinking critical and defensive thoughts toward a friend. My idol is wanting more of her time and attention; fear of loneliness. This results in anger toward her. My step of faith is to stop trying to control her and the situation. This is hard to do. My mind is racing, busy trying to defend myself and fix the situation. I want to do the perfect thing in this situation, but I also want my own way. I think I know best.

    I deliberately stop to breathe deeply and desperately try to figure out a verse that applies to this situation. “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 I picture Peter sinking in the waves after stepping out the boat to walk on the water toward Jesus. Jesus reaches out his hand to him and pulls him up. I remember Dee’s words, “I think I can handle things better than God so I am trying to figure things out — a nice term for worry.”

    B. (Move toward Him in faith — putting on)
    Lord, I cannot stop my racing brain – worrying, trying to fix, trying to get my way. Help me to trust you, to know you want what is best for me. Help me to know that Your ways are better. I’m sorry for fighting You. Lord, I give up my controlling ways. You hold the future in Your hands. Help me to remember that you delight in me. Turn my eyes to You, Lord. You are wooing me and holding me. You care more deeply for me than I can possibly imagine, much more than I need or deserve.

    1. Amen.

  36. 3. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    It took me a while to choose—I have so many options ;0

    Negative Behavior: Worry about what others think of me, if I’m understood, how I’m perceived. Closely related is comparing myself to others…which quickly leads to criticism and judgment to make myself feel/look better. I get jealous of how other people are viewed by those I care about—if I measure up or not. We’re in a great couple’s Bible study at church—and would you believe we just started a new study…on idols! Oh so humbling to see how much I need to learn this stuff—God just keeps putting it in front of me! The other women are beautiful, godly women—I find myself jealous of how they may be perceived verses me…and does anyone care what I have to say…do I have anything worthwhile in me at all?

    A. My idol: approval—gee,it sure wears a lot of hats in my life! The lie I am believing is multi-faceted: one, that I am not AS “fearfully and wonderfully made” as others, and that I need to prove myself, I need to construct a really good phrase, or deep thought—and prove I have something to share. Two, I let myself believe the LIE that the goal is to get their approval, and I may not have it, so I better work at it.

    B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on)
    Lord, I confess that I continually go back to this idol, trying to gain my own righteousness by how liked I am. The truth is that I AM “fearfully and wonderfully made’, and that no, I do not have anything valuable to share -except for that which You, Lord, have done in me, and You IN ME gives me value. You, my Creator King, approve me. You actually understand me fully, You “get” me, and You really love me. Thank You for Your gracious love towards me. You are my Source of Living Water Lord, forgive me for trying to fill up my broken cistern. Forgive me Lord for trying to get this need for love met through other people instead of letting You fill me up so that I may engage and love freely, without holes that are seeking filling elsewhere.Forgive me for forgetting that my goal is not to see myself raised up and glorified, but YOU, alone Lord–YOU are what I want others to see. I want You to have the attention, the praise, the glory. Amen

      1. Oh Dee–this is all REALLY helpful, so wise. I usually pray before a study–just that I will hold my tongue!..but I’m forgotten in that one lately.
        I don’t know how much my desire to speak is to be thought of well or just this aching “need” to be known. I’ve never been able to fully articulate that. My life growing up I always felt mis-understood, a bit put in a box–told I was shy and I took the role of wall flower. As I have gotten older, I want to be known, so I want to share…but sometimes the desire is too strong and it overtakes wisdom to be quiet and let others’ share. It’s after I share that I wonder–do they understand my heart?
        It’s this longing to be known that makes Jesus, Lover of My Soul one of my favorite go-to songs. He knows me, so I try to remind myself of that…and let it be all that it is, more than enough, if I let it fill me.
        oops-i spieled a bit!
        –oh-curriculum, it is loosely on Gospel in Life–our Church has done that study in the past, but in this setting so far mostly just looking at various scriptures on idolatry and discussing our own idols.

        1. I like this discussion between you and Dee about sharing in Bible study. This is really good and wise advice, and I like how you are thinking through your needs and desires to share, to “be known”, versus the desire to speak to be thought well of.
          I think I discerned that in myself a couple weeks ago when I just felt I had to share something in my women’s group (because I had this better insight due to being in this study!) and as I was talking, I could just sense my words were “falling flat”, and I know it was because I didn’t have the right motive.
          But I see the same thing in you that Dee does, you are careful with your words.

        2. I appreciate this discussion about sharing in group bible studies as well. I lead a study and need prayer that I would say the right things and always strive to glorify God. The old “approval” idol comes into play with me as well and sometimes makes me clam up or sometimes makes me say something with the wrong motivation. I also pray that I may “engage and love freely, without holes that are seeking filling elsewhere.”

          Also, I have one person in the group who is constantly talking. I wish she would learn to be more quiet and let others share. I try to steer the conversation by encouraging others to talk as well, but it is sometimes awkward. Should I talk to her privately and if so, what might I say?

        3. Diane, Me too. Love this discussion-Dee gave very wise advice. I struggle with the same thing, but am STILL learning-and God is so patient and full of Grace. As Dee says we have to be cognizant that we are in communion with God waiting on Him to speak, or not to speak.

          Elizabeth, You would have SO MUCH to offer in a Bible Study-I would love to be with you in one face to face and see how God moves through you. It doesn’t surprise me God has you participating in one on idols! 🙂

        4. In a face to face bible study you can’t just scroll down to the next comment 🙂
          You have to think on your feet. You can’t mull something over all day before you comment, like you can here.

        5. oh, I am just finishing up at work and jumped on here and found this wealth of wise conversation going on! Susan–you nailed it for me, too–so often I don’t think I have the right motive. And then there is just that desire to be known and understood…and I believe that is from Him, but for Him–for Him to fill in me, if that makes sense.

  37. My moms surgery went ok.. she wasnt doing well earlier this afternoon.. but when i called around 3 cause i was going to go back up to see her, she said she was being discharged! Thank you for your prayers!

    1. wonderful praise Meg!

      1. So glad, Meg:)

    2. So glad your mom’s surgery went well. Praise the Lord. I hope she recovers quickly.

    3. Glad to hear your mom is doing well!

    4. Yes Meg, so glad to hear!!!

    5. So glad to see the post. Sorry for the delay in replying.

  38. 4. Putting off without putting on is ineffective and even dangerous. Give an example, hopefully, from your own life of why this either doesn’t work or actually can be hurtful.
    I think what is so dangerous for me with this, is that when I put off without putting on Christ, I do put on something—just a new idol. When I was first married, almost 18 years ago, I threw myself into being the perfect Proverbs 31 woman—reading a certain book with all the “how to’s”—until I nearly drove myself, and my husband, crazy. It wasn’t “working”—it wasn’t fixing the problems we had, and it was giving me the “reward’ I thought I would get—and I was really bad at it, I failed, I couldn’t measure up. When we had kids, I exchanged one worn old coat for another—and being the ideal mom became my obsession that would surely bring that “reward”. Since my kids aren’t perfect, my relationship with one is especially harder than I dreamed it’d be– I’ve spent a lot of time in angst over what I must be doing wrong, and how to fix it. I lose my patience, respond with exasperated “gasps” over small infractions to my ideal scenarios. It’s ineffective, and robs joy from my life and those around me.

    This cycle could continue forever—trading one old coat for another, unless I chose carefully what I put on when I finally take something off—and it’s nothing I can find in my (old self) closet! The only way to break the cycle is for me to put on Christ—put on Who He is—humble, serving, gracious, gentle, loving…it’s the only way. It’s so easy with anything I try to put off—gossip, jealousy, complaining…to just pick something else up instead, trading one idol for the next. There is a NEED—something in me that is lacking, is in need. The ONLY satisfiable option is found in Him. So how do I do that? With my kids, I catch myself worrying about how they’ll turn out, or if they’ll ever get what I’m trying to teach, if we’ll stay close and have a good relationship…none of which I can control. But I can go to the One Who is in charge. I can confess that I have tried again to take the reigns, and I can ask for His blessing, for Him to take this burden from me. I can ask to be the one who is shaped instead of trying so hard to shape them. I can ask to be broken and made into who He designed me to be, instead of trying to make them into my creations. I can trust that He is here, He sees, He understands, and that Love covers a multitude of my mess-ups. I can call upon His Grace.

    1. Elizabeth, I feel you stuggeling so, too. Just keep giving it over to God, over and over again..that’s what I do, untill I feel the burdens lifting from me. We can do nothing on our own, but trust in him:) Praying for you!

    2. Elizabeth,
      This is so insightful – should go into a book! Your wisdom here is so right, “When I put off without putting on Christ, I do put on something – just a new idol….I exchanged one worn old coat for another” This is a wonderful word picture, to imagine returning to the same old closet for another old coat – our “old self closet”, instead of putting on Christ. It’s just trading one idol for the next.

    3. Elizabeth, I can relate to this too: “When I was first married, almost 18 years ago, I threw myself into being the perfect Proverbs 31 woman—reading a certain book with all the “how to’s”—until I nearly drove myself, and my husband, crazy. It wasn’t “working””. 🙂 I did the same thing too. I had all my ducks in a row even as a single I was known as the woman with the Franklin Planner-don’t ask Rebecca to do anything outside her “set schedule”-oh my. I was so inflexible, so God gave me four boys, two on the autism spectrum and a 1/2 flegmatic husband. 😉 I am soooo flexible now, it is amazing what God can do. God has turned me around and reminded me my life is not my own-it is His-I was made for Him and I want him to keep reminding me of that when I start turning the other way. 🙂

      1. LOVE this Rebecca! I needed that today–I still need a LOT of work on my flexibility though…kinda like my schedule 😉 BUT, God has been showing me that over and over and now reading this from you–I’ve had so many friends say I’m too unavailable…and my husband would like me to be a lot more flex with time, that’s another worn out coat I can put on…with a big old clock embroidered on it!

      2. Rebecca–what was sad too about that time is that I let the study I was in and the book we were doing leave me with such a bitter taste–I had a hard time liking the Proverbs 31 passage for a little bit after that! But I know God’s intent was never for me to get caught in the idol of performance. The other night my husband was confessing his idol of work performance…and we joked that he was falling into the “Proverbs 32 man” cycle 😉

        1. Elizabeth, LOL! Were you tempted to tear that page out of Proverbs? 😉 Oh how I can relate. I used to be so dogmatic about methods of disciplines my mentor taught me when I was single-great methods, great disciplines but they are just that ‘great methods’ not to be held up as ultimate. We aren’t cookie cutter Christians. I went through a time where I didn’t memorize with anyone as my accountability partner for years because I didn’t like that whole performance temptation, but I realized later that the methods weren’t the problem, I was. I guess you saw that too and left that page in! 🙂

    4. This whole dialogue reminds me of the topic that my former bible study group kept coming back to and that is that all of the bible is filled with balance. There are extremes at both ends of everything. Schedule overly regimented to chaos, obesity to anorexia, strict disciplinarian to “anything goes” non-discipline, “perfect” house to hoarder, Pharisee to pagan. I raised the bar so high for myself that I finally just wanted to throw it on the ground and give up trying, but I have to find the balance, God’s perfect will.

      1. That’s an interesting insight, Dawn. I am somewhat obsessed (ironically) with balance! I grew up with a lot of chaos and now I never want to do anything too much or too little–sometimes it bugs my husband when I won’t add one more event to our schedule, but I know my limits…and usually know his sooner than he does, so he appreciates it in the long run! I think that’s why I couldn’t keep up the pace of perfect homemaker, etc….or why I don’t have my kids in any after school activities yet. Other people can handle SO much more on their plate than me, and graciously–but that lifestyle just pushes me way off kilter. I always picture those old timey balance scales–I like it right in the middle 😉
        Sorry–all this talk about not talking too much and here I am spieling! :0

        1. Elizabeth, I love your “spiels”.

  39. 5. There is a link in this passage between putting off and putting on in verse 23. What is it and what do you think this means?

    I think the link is “….which is being corrupted with it’s evil desires.” it is reminding you why you want to get rid of the old self. If you do then you can be closer to Jesus. When you are corrupted you are unknowingly far from the Lord. We are trying to be more Christ like, that is our goal. We must not forget and get side tracked which is so easy for us in this earthly skin. Focus on the goal – Christ.

  40. Elizabeth,

    This is so good!

    “This cycle could continue forever—trading one old coat for another, unless I chose carefully what I put on when I finally take something off—and it’s nothing I can find in my (old self) closet! The only way to break the cycle is for me to put on Christ—put on Who He is—humble, serving, gracious, gentle, loving…it’s the only way.”

    Thanks for the great example! I was struggling on this one 🙂

  41. Hi dee,

    I listened to about 8 minutes of the free sermon and then it cut me off saying i don’t had the authority to view the file?

    1. Dee,
      Glad to hear Bonnie is at home and stabilizing. Yes, we will continue to pray for her and that’s wonderful that you see a little softening.
      I would continue to ask for prayer for my mom. My dad told me yesterday that she came to him and asked him, “Do you think I’m losing my mind or that I have Alzheimers?” She is beginning to see the deficit in herself now, whereas a few months ago, she didn’t. She has trouble remembering how to cook, for example, meals that she has prepared hundreds of times. I told dad that now that she admits the problem, they need to go together to see their family doctor and let him know what is going on. Yet the greatest need is for her salvation. I find myself waking in the middle of the night and praying for her.

      1. Glad Bonnie is doing better and that the Lord is softening her heart. Also, Susan, I will pray for your mom’s salvation. I didn’t realize that she had Alzheimers. This is hard. Do your parents live near to you?

        1. Diane,
          We don’t know yet specifically what the cause of her forgetfulness is – she’s almost 85 but now that she realizes what is happening, I feel she is ready to go see their family doctor. There’s such a broad umbrella of symptoms under the heading of “dementia”, and Alzheimers is its own disease. Yes, I am about 25 min. from their house, so I see them a lot.
          Thanks for praying! I am continuing to pray for your brother and that situation, too.

        2. Sorry Susan. I didn’t mean to jump to any conclusions regarding your mom’s forgetfulness. I pray that she will get properly diagnosed and treated. The coconut oil treatment sounds interesting. I have heard that coconut oil is good to use for lots of things. I use it in grilling, sometimes, for heart health.

          And, thank you for your continued prayers concerning my brother. There seems to be no movement on his side. We have had no contact since the October crisis. I’m not sure what to do. We frequently summer vacation a few hours from where they live and I am not sure if I should contact them to see if they want to see us or not. Should I keep trying or leave it alone?

      2. This must be very difficult and I continue to pray for your parents. Great advise to your dad. They are making advances all the time. Joyce sent me an email about the effect Coconut oil has on Alzheimer so much that I am cooking with it for its cholesterol benefits.

        1. I got that email too from Joyce – I am going to show it to my mom. Unbelieveable that something like coconut oil can help!

        2. It is really good when grilling anything and it’s flavorless.

      3. Oh Susan–I just saw this and will continue to pray. I am so sorry–I can’t imagine how hard that is on you and your dad, your siblings, your kids.

        Lord, we lift up Virginia to Your arms. Father I ask that You would pull her to Yourself. Please break through the walls of pain, or fear, or all that keeps her trying to protect herself…Lord I pray she would break from all of that and fall into Your arms, fully trusting You with her heart. I pray to Lord for Your healing in her mind. I ask that You bring her to go to a Dr if that is what’s best. I pray for wisdom there, and I ask for Your super natural healing. Thank You for her precious daughter Susan and the love she has for her mom–I ask You to use this all for Your glory Lord. Amen

    2. Dee, so glad to hear this update!!! I will keep praying for her heart and praise God for the softening you see!

    3. Dee, did the ablation work?

    1. Love this story of Steve, my hubby would agree and probably do the same. Funny how men engage so differently than women.
      So glad for Bonnie’s progress. I prayed for my step grandmother to be saved some thirty years and she accepted Christ on her deathbed. Funny, looking back I believe God gave me the gift of faith for her maybe to keep believing and praying-I don’t know.

    2. …PRINT and SAVE. This is SO good Dee! And oh, how I love Steve!

    3. Thanks for the suggestions, Dee. Going directly to someone to ask them to talk less would be hard for me. Perhaps it is that old approval idol. 🙂 I am afraid of hurting her feelings, but sometimes I sense that others are tired of her talking all the time.

      And the story about Steve is HILARIOUS!!! 🙂 Guys can be so direct and some only understand directness. If someone said that to me I would never talk again, and might not ever come back!

    4. Dee,
      These are really great guidelines for sharing. I also loved the story about Steve – he was certainly direct, and precise, and didn’t beat around the bush! I think men have that over women – they can speak their mind and they usually don’t hold grudges or react sensitively!

        1. Dee, Your story about Steve cracked me up! I know I talk too much sometimes, so have appreciated this discussion. A couple years ago I was in a group and I was concerned that I was talking too much or asking too many questions. So, later I asked the leader if I was talking to much (or told him to tell me to be quiet if I was talking too much). His response: “You’re not talking too much. ____ is the one who is talking too much!”

          Aaaaghhh… have to catch up here. I kinda forgot I have a job 🙁 so have to spend some time there too! Good thing I like it (at least at this time of the semester).

  42. 1-I love the warrior bridegroom. I love the story behind this as well how the artist thought it too holy. Oh but it is amazing and I love it because that is my Savior. The one many young girls desire when they are young, the prince coming to our rescue.

    2-Challenge question. Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.

  43. Your turn: Name the negative behavior, discern the idol, and then your step of faith.

    A. (Discern idol and repent — putting off) I think it is still an approval thing or control but I am flustered again that I am unreliable and dont want others to think poorly of me because of it. Today is an example we were going to serve in the ESL ministry and when we get there my daughter says, I feel sick. I dont think I can do this today. 2 hours earlier if she told me I could have called but this was just minutes before and as we arrived!! I was so angry. I was asking what that was about and I think it is approval. Also considering we just added this little boy to our home so I was all flaky the first time 3 weeks ago and last week I had a high fever so could not go. Really though God has it all under control and knows who needs to be there. I just hate being the one considered unreliable and take my commitments very seriously maybe even too seriously.

    B.(Move toward Him in faith — putting on) I prayed in pinpointing what was really going on. I asked my daughter for forgiveness because I was not kind to her. I asked my husband to pray for me. He did. I run to Scriptures on this. His grace is sufficient for His power is perfected in weakness. So though I cannot understand and have to let people down He understands and has a purpose in even that. I need to minister to my family in love.

    1. great example Angela, I really relate–and you gave it over to Him beautifully–and as you said, He understands and His grace is sufficient.

    2. Angela,
      I think part of ministering to your family in love is how you willingly asked your daughter’s forgiveness for being unkind in the situation. This models a most wonderful thing for her.

    3. I love how you asked your husband to pray for you. I ask mine all the time in fact I asked him today and the prayer was answered. Many times I get relief from headaches when he prays where I might not get an answer without him. A wise man once told him to take the authority over the devil on anything concerning me and we have been blessed by this truth.

  44. oh and as I have been doing this study over the past several months I continually talk to my husband about it. I pray for him too because I see his idols but I want him to discover them. So yesterday he found one and said he was going to make a commitment to run to the Lord over it. I am so thankful for that.