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TRUTH AND MERCY HAVE KISSED

JESUS IS THE RADIANCE OF THE GLORY OF GOD

HE IS HOLY, HOLY, HOLY

AND CANNOT TOLERATE SIN

HE IS THE TRUTH THAT MADE THE WHIP

TO CLEANSE THE TEMPLE

 

BUT HE IS ALSO THE MERCIFUL GOD

WHO MADE PURIFICATION FOR OUR SINS

WHO COVERS OUR SHAME AND BROKENNESS

WITH COMPASSION AND FORGIVENESS

 

EACH DAY YOU MUST BE OPEN TO BOTH

HIS WORD OF TRUTH SO YOU ARE QUICK TO REPENT

AND HIS WORD OF LOVE SO YOU ARE RESTORED

ONLY IN CHRISTIANITY DO MERCY AND TRUTH MEET TOGETHER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eunice Arant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week I called my dear friend Eunice Arant who first involved me in prison ministry. She is one of the most beautiful radiant believers I know. She is also the one who reads the audio version of Idol Lies — and I had to call her to tell her what a wonderful job she did — that she made the book live. Then she proceeded to tell me how the book had impacted her.

First, she told me that the piercing sword of the Word had cut her about her own idols. “When I would get unhappy about circumstances or people in my life, I would eat. Never before did I see that as a comfort idol. But now the truth was right in front of me. Rebecca’s story so moved me. I had the same fear: ‘Would God just let me sit in my pain?'”

Rebecca’s testimony encouraged me that He would lovingly meet me. And He did. Slowly, He came to me and brought me comfort that food could not. Not only have I lost seventeen pounds, but I am experiencing that intimacy and joy again.

Truth and mercy come together in our Wonderful Counselor. He convicts and He forgives. He pierces and He heals. There is no one like Him.

This week’s study is rich — and Keller is at his best. He even makes Melchizedeck easy! (I have studied Melchizedeck at Seminary, listed to D. A. Carson carefully, and felt my brain twist. One simple sentence from Keller — and I got it.) This is going to be a great week!

I am also going to be on Midday Connection on Moody Radio on Thursday live for an hour at noon central time. We are doing chapter 2 of Idol Lies. (Spiritual Blindness) You can call in or text or go to their Facebook page and make a comment! But most of all, please pray! You can also listen after the fact:

http://www.moodyradio.org/middayconnection/

Sunday/Monday  Icebreakers

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. Share a time this month when you were you responded to truth and experienced mercy.

Monday-Wednesday  Bible Study

It almost feels like whiplash. After the warning that the Israelites, through disobedience, had their bodies scattered in the wilderness, and after telling us that we must not be like them and harden our hearts — suddenly, everything becomes tender. For we are told that Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses, and therefore we can come boldly to Him in our time of need.

I’ve been doing an Idol Lies study at my cabin this fall with women in leadership from this area — pastors, pastors wives, and leaders of ministries. It has been a joy to me. One of the young women said this week, “I am really seeing how I need to run to Jesus first before anyone else.This week, a really busy time in our lives, I got the news that our rental house sold out from under us. I was so worried and upset. I had  my hand on the phone to call my sister, and then I thought, No! I’m going to give Jesus the firstfruits of my lament. She went boldly to His throne to receive mercy and find grace to help her in her time of need. And He calmed her anxious soul.

3. Read Hebrews 4:15-16 (This is the second Hebrews passage we are memorizing — so practice!)

A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin?

B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day?

Only in Christianity can we come boldly — because we are forgiven. But it is not that God does not look with anger upon sin. Our sin was so bad it took Him to the cross. The cross is where truth and mercy meet together. We see both this terrible and wonderful truth repeatedly in Hebrews. This is the chiasm of the cross.

4. This is hard to do electronically, but trace with your finger the word in the first line of Psalm 85:10 that parallels the word in the second line. Then make another line to find the second word in line 1 that parallels the word in line 2. These two truths make a cross.

Lovingkindness and truth have met together;

Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalm 85:10


5. Read Hebrews 5:1-4

A. Why could the priests of the Old Testament deal gently with the sins of their people?

B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude.

 

Read Hebrews 5:5-6 (Melchizedek!) Then read Genesis 14:17-20.

Since this is a brain twister, let me give you the Keller insight. A King is associated with rule and authority and truth. A Priest is associated with mercy. In the Old Testament, you could not be both King and Priest. But there was one very mysterious exception, and you find him briefly and only in the Genesis passage above. He was king of Salem, yet he was a priest of God Most High.

6. What, therefore, do you think the author of Hebrews means when he says Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek? What two qualities are combined together?

7. Write out what you have memorized of Hebrews 4:15-16.

THURSDAY- FRIDAY  GREAT KELLER SERMON

SERMON LINK

8. Tim Keller gives several illustrations of Jesus being a “terrible/wonderful” counselor. He talked about Mary and Martha and also the woman taken in adultery. Did either stand out to you? If so, comment.

9. What notes do you have?

Saturday

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

Leave a Comment

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238 comments

  1. Good morning all!

    I am excited about starting this study! I haven’t yet been able to get Idol Lies but it is awesome to see what it has been able to accomplish with the leading of the Holy Spirit.
    This past week I was so richly blessed with the Lords truth and mercy. I was very stressed out, felt the weight of the world on my shoulders……I couldn’t do anything right. It also seems like people I depend on have been really letting me down, that was a great disappointment bc these people have been able to count on me when they needed extra support. My frustrations with them were real and I believe many of my points were technically right. These issues were compounded by my own insecurities as I transition to a new way of life in a new town….and it was the perfect storm. So I slipped at some point from being injured to feeling sorry for myself and though I hate to admit it there was some self righteousness Mingled in there. I prayed on Friday morning, which is the day it all culminated….and I instantly realized I had been belieeving lies of the enemy…focusing on negatives…feeling sorry for myself and therefore focusing on others sins rather than seeing my own. Ugh, it hit me like a punch in the stomach…I asked for forgiveness and just as I began to feel sooo unworthy I realized it was another lie to think that The Lord wasn’t willing to forgive me. Thankfully last weeks church sermon was dedicated to that very subject. I decided at that moment that I was tired of being a victim of the devil. I claimed the power of Jesus Christ and have felt better since. I’m excited about the power I feel in The Lord, but also recognize that it is a daily struggle when you are faced with hardships…to focus on good and not the negative….focus on truth only! This subject is right on for what I need. Can’t wait.

    1. You give a really good example here, Sarah, of how you are working this into your own life, the truth of the gospel to combat the devil’s lies!

    2. I read your post again, Sarah, and this time, this stood out to me, “I was tired of being a victim of the devil….” I think this is something to ponder, and a reason to run to God in our struggles. I picture running to Him, then, turning to face the enemy with Him at my side. He is our Shield, Defender, Refuge, Protector.

  2. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    the necessity of truth and mercy meeting. The meeting place of truth and mercy is such a big concept that I can’t completely grasp it. But I do see that I often err toward either truth or mercy, rather being in the space where they meet. I see the truth and beat my self up, or I try to seek God’s mercy while hiding from the truth. The safety of God’s mercy allows me to face the truth. That’s when He can change me.

    Thought of the song “When Truth and Mercy Meet” when I saw the title.

    2. Share a time this month when you were you responded to truth and experienced mercy.

    I’m experiencing it right now as He is showing me the truth: that I often attempt to separate mercy and truth; I don’t want to skip over the truth that I’ve sinned against Him.

    Not thinking too clearly right now, and am praying for clarity. There may be a couple areas of my life in which I need to ask for help (acknowledge the truth) in order to fully experience God’s mercy. I’m good at denial — which is usually a sign of fear. (one area is health-related, and I’m on my way back to bed soon)

    I can think of a recent “small” interaction at work this week: I was partially responsible for a miscommunication at work, acknowledged it, described what I said, and the response was “no problem, no worries.” I guess I do respond to truth and experience mercy in many of life’s daily events. But I think I’ve separated truth and mercy in some areas of my life that seem scarier.

    I’d like to see and respond to truth earlier, before I get hit so hard that the pain seems unbearable, but even more, I want to respond to truth as soon as He reveals it because it hurts Him when I don’t — and I don’t want to hurt the One who loves me so much and is waiting with arms of mercy.

    1. Love this one: The safety of God’s mercy allows me to face the truth. That’s when He can change me.
      That is so true

    2. Such a good post, Renee. I especially like “The safety of God’s mercy allows me to face the truth. That’s when He can change me.”

    3. Renee your first paragraph is so good, especially the part where you say “But I do see that I often err toward either truth or mercy, rather being in the space where they meet.” Oh I love this. I need to find that I intersection myself.

  3. Second pic by Martin French also stands out to me…love, safety, protection, and the sin isn’t hidden

  4. My comment here is finishing-up from last week, combining my notes on the sermon and my take-away. I really struggled last week with understanding much of Hebrews 4, but Keller’s sermon “The Rest Giver” really helped me. I can see in my life my struggle, since I was a child, of hearing that “inner murmur of self reproach” – you’re different, you don’t quite fit in, you’re not quite normal, people don’t like you…..and I am learning that that inner rest is being at rest with who I am – not a kind of self-discovery or self-talk kind of thing, but resting in the love and approval of God.

    I was thrilled to see, for the first time because I never really caught it before, though I’d read Hebrews before, the gospel in verses 12, 13, and 14. That ordeal, as Keller says, you have to go through to enter that rest. The ordeal is that I am spiritually uncovered before God, and that is frightening, but the Good News is that Jesus was laid bare -“trachelizo” – as in how the animals were sacrificed in the temple, their necks pulled back and slit. Jesus, my great High Priest, was laid bare, was sacrificed, was cut-off, and said, “it is finished” – the work that every human heart is trying to do is finished.

    My take-away is Keller’s last illustration of the fire. I do know what it’s like to sit in front of a warm fire. The rest of the house can be cold, but I don’t know it. But when I walk away from the fire, I feel the cold. Instead of jumping around, I need to return to the fire. This is what I need to speak to myself when I feel myself getting cold – feeling down, despondent, reacting to criticism, trying to cover myself with ‘fig leaves’ – go back to the fire, go back to the gospel.
    This quote sealed it, from Richard Loveless (and I personalize it here), “If I start each day with my personal security not resting on the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but on my present achievements, such arguments will not quiet the human conscience and so I am inevitably moved either to discouragement and apathy or to a self-righteousness or some form of idolatry which tries to falsify the record to achieve some sense of peace. But the faith, the gospel faith that is able to warm itself at the fire of God’s love, and at what Jesus has done for me, instead of having to steal love and self-acceptance from all these other sources, is the very root of grace.”

    Keller’s sermon has helped me see the true Hero in the book of Hebrews. Once again, this part of Scripture is not primarily about me, but about God, and what He has done. I am excited to see the gospel here in a new way, talking about being at rest.

    1. Susan, I could ditto your third paragraph…:) Keller’s illustration of the fire was an excellent metaphor for me…when I get cold keep returning to the warmth of the fire…when I stray, keep coming back to the gospel of mercy and grace. The use of the fig leaves symbolizing what we use to cover our sense of inadequacy was another really good illustration. Last week’s sermons really helped me as well.

  5. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    It is so encouraging that Eunice Arant was helped by Idol Lies. And it is so great that you are leading a Bible study for leaders on Idol Lies – I wish I could sit in on that group.

    Also, I love the juxtaposition of the pictures of Jesus with the whip and Jesus covering the adulterous woman. That is the crux of a lot of issues we have. It is hard to reconcile the wrath and justice of God with the mercy of God. We tend to either bend toward one side or toward the other. I know I do.

  6. 1- This image of Jesus with the whip is very strong. What a comfort to see the next image.
    “EACH DAY YOU MUST BE OPEN TO BOTH”.
    I was meditating on this phrase. I had spoken to my husband before reading this study: If we have to choose between justice and grace (to resolve a situation with someone), we must choose grace. Read this study broke my line reasoning. Because in truth, my concept of justice is what is reported here about truth. In my current context I was thinking a few minutes ago, we would have to choose justice or grace in a particular situation.

    2- My experience is a little different from the question. I experienced God’s mercy when I read this study. I have the impression that my week was a week of tests. Hard tests! This week when I meet someone from my church I was very offended. She was angry with me about a situation. I had my reasons, but she did not give me a chance. So, I listened to everything in silence. I tried to see through her eyes. I tried to really listen. And yet not agreeing with her posture, I apologized, told her to calm down and then asked her to pray with me. I felt relief, but at the same time that justice had not been done. But I was glad to have resolved the question according to the Word. In the same week, one of my best friends suffered an injustice. I wanted to protect her. I was just trying to solve. And despite being educated, the other person said that was very sad with me. I was depressed. My pride (to consider myself someone wise to resolve situations) was hurt. I knew there was another way to solve. But I preferred to be just (my justice). So, I wondered, when I decided to Grace was better than Justice (despite my feelings of Justice). I feel the Lord is saying to me that He is wise and that I should trust HIM to solve everything. I know that I trusted myself.Can you understand my feelings? I felt guilt, without wisdom…

    So when I saw the picture of the whip and then the second image of the embrace, I cried. The truth and mercy of God brings healing.

    1. Hi Polly,
      So glad to see you here! I am glad the picture of the embrace helped you in your situation from last week, that it brought healing to you.

    2. So glad to see your smiling face Polly! It seems you and Dee and I have had angry people lash out at us last week:-( Sometimes it’s for a good reason..maybe to find truth and mercy.

        1. Polly,

          Oh how I love your sweet face and your humble heart. I just don’t see how anyone could ever be mad at you-especially another sister in the Lord. unloving confrontations-OH they hurt! I will pray! It is so beautiful how God is coming to you in your pain.

        2. Dee, I thank God for letting it happen because it’s caused me to search deep down in my heart, because I was feeling like…”How dare you speak to me like that..I am a christian”! I felt anger and my heart is deceptful and corrupt. I’ve given it over to the Lord and am feeling peace and comfort now and am praying for that lady to be filled with the spirit and give her heart to God if she hasn’t already. No, I’m not more gentler than you!!
          I’m praying for you and Polly too, so we can all respond to God with truth and mercy and feel comfort.
          I dreamed all night about truth and mercy and trust too! I kept waking up and felt God’s presence with me and I kept asking him to enlighten me about truth and mercy and to trust him completely for everything in my life! It was a good dream, but didn’t get much sleep..but it was so worth it:)

        3. I don’t know why my comment has this request at the bottom and I couldn’t recheck it either (for spelling,strange! It also says it is waiting for moderation!

  7. Dee, how are you feeling? Praying that God will continue to heal you and be with you as you are recovering. Love and hugs! (good thing for virtual hugs because a hug from me right now might not help your recovery)

    1. Hope your feeling better, Renee

      How are you Julie? Have people started to come live with you yet?

      1. LOL Joyce thanks, but right now I just have the four of us and a puppy, but Kyle and his wife and the baby when he arrives will be coming once Kyle gets home from the army for good, which could be by the beginning of December. Oh my that is close!

    2. Praying for you Dee…for complete healing!

  8. Love this: ONLY IN CHRISTIANITY DO MERCY AND TRUTH MEET TOGETHER
    They do NEED each other!

    I am so glad, that God not only gives me truth but mercy also and I hope I can change into a person that uses both in the same way that God does!!! Way to often is the truth more important to me 🙁 …

  9. HIS WORD OF TRUTH SO YOU ARE QUICK TO REPENT

    AND HIS WORD OF LOVE SO YOU ARE RESTORED

    I liked these words above.
    I also liked what Eunice had to offer about her idol..that was awesome.

  10. “The Quilt Holes”

    As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that was our life.

    But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

    I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich colour and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

    My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

    Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries.. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise.

    My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times.. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

    And now, I had to face the truth: My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

    I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

    Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an iMage: the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, ‘Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles.

    ‘Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.’

    May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

    God determines who walks into your life…it’s up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay and who you refuse to let go.

    When there is nothing left but God, that is when you find out that God is all you need..

    (Got this from a friend on e-mail and thought it had some very reals truths to it!)

    1. Oh, Joyce. This is very good. I certainly feel pretty threadbare right now. It is hard to walk by faith and not by sight, when life seems to be falling into a precipice of great darkness. I need a miracle. Pray for us.

      1. I’m praying with Dee now, Diane. My heart is heavy for you and Krista and all involved. Your quilt is so beautiful and Jesus’s face shines throught it:)

      2. Diane will be lifting you all up in pray!

  11. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    I LOVE the Martin French paintings. I noticed in the painting of the one where Jesus has a whip his belt is red and there is a red drop under his hand..I am thinking Mercy and Truth here too? I don’t know, just something that stuck out to me.

    Hearing Eunices story was an encouragement to me-a humbling balm as well. I so love her heart, and was thrilled inside to see God move through Idol Lies again drawing her nearer to Him and setting her free. 🙂

    2. Share a time this month when you responded to truth and experienced mercy.

    When my husband was pouring out to me in regard to some frustrations he was having and inwardly I was seeing how he was magnifying all these things in his life way too high. I was having thoughts like this: ‘don’t you see-this is not what really matters’, ‘why aren’t you willing to see what God is trying to show you?’-these thoughts were on my lips, but my heart was ugly-critical-not showing empathy and love toward my husband in a vulnerable moment. My heart is pretty wretched! I was ready to say these things to my husband even though I knew the timing was off and he wasn’t ready to hear them. But God came and exposed my heart as my husband was talking. My motive was to open his eyes but only God can do that! I prayed, God help him see! Yet God wanted me to see my motive-my control idol and that I forgot the Gospel. That said I am still His what a blessed assurance. I felt horrible and repented and turned and experienced His warm blanket of mercy.

  12. 3. A. Jesus has been tempted in all ways, He has felt our pain and exhaustion…our disappointment.msuch a comfort to me this morning.
    B. to come BOLDLY beforenthenthrone of grace….I have not done it nearlynasnoften as I should. I think too often I wait until I’m pushed to the ropes to cry out for help. I am praying that the Holy Spirit stays with me and helps me to rely on Him…to come to Him throughout the day and I must remember to come boldly not timidly!

    Help me Lord….to remember the Power I have in You and the special access I have to my Kings throne! Amen.

  13. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why? Loved the pictures of Jesus. The artist sure has a gift!

    2. Share a time this month when you were you responded to truth and experienced mercy. This example is all God piecing things together but truth is that you fight for what you love and treasure. Been struggling with this and little mans mom, why she says she love but will not fight. Then God showed me the mercy of it…The Israelites in Egypt while enslaved handed their babies over to be killed without a fight when the law went through to kill all baby boys. All of them except Moses mom. Why did they not fight? They were enslaved to falsehood instead of truth. They were willing to accept death instead of what God stands for life. Little mans mom is enslaved to other things but I see it now how she is powerless to fight without depending on God.

  14. 3. Read Hebrews 4:15-16 (This is the second Hebrews passage we are memorizing — so practice!)

    A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin? because He lived in skin like us and experienced temptations like us.

    B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day? Draw near the throne of grace with confidence. I do not do it nearly enough!

  15. Share a time this month when you responded to truth and experienced mercy.

    When my daughter was home, I responded to her non-belief with a hurt and angry heart, but held it inside of me. I couldn’t believe those words were coming out of her mouth! I wanted to pretend I didn’t hear it, but the truth prevailed. The truth is, the evil one has his gripe on my daughter and her husband and my son. Everyday I pray for mercy and must trust God to lead them to him, in his own timing. All I can do is pray and I’m starting to experience his love and mercy in this.

    1. Peace to you, Joyce. I continue to pray for your daughter, son, and son-in-law.

    2. so sorry Joyce, praying as well!

      1. Thank you so much!

    3. Father, we again lift up our sweet Joyce to You. I pray that You would draw her children and son in law back to You–that You would pierce their hearts and break up that rocky soil. And Lord I pray You would comfort dear Joyce, bring peace to her heart. Thank You for the model of faithfulness and unconditional love she is. Thank You for her humble heart. Amen

      I am so sorry Joyce–you are so loved here!

    4. Will be praying Joyce for the seeds you planted to be watered and mature.

    5. Hi Joyce. I thought of you while listening to this podcast with Nichole Nordeman on Susie Larson’s Live the Promise…I think it might give you some solace regarding your kids. Hope so…pray so. 🙂

      1. Would probably of helped if I would have provided you with the link…
        http://www.faithradionet.com/2012/love-story/

    6. Moms, grandmas, aunts, sisters, we are all prayer warriors!

  16. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The gift God gives in providing us with witnesses…Rebecca’s witness through Idol Lies to Eunice gave Eunice hope in her struggle with her heart idol of comfort.
    I really like the second picture…I love the vision of being safe and secure under Jesus’ robe.

    2. Share a time this month when you were you responded to truth and experienced mercy.
    In Keller’s “The Rest Giver” sermon, Keller clarifies that there is nothing wrong with work; what is wrong is the motivating factor(s) for our work (actions). He went on to say that if our actions are done for self-justification (i.e., trying to conjure up a feeling that I’m alright, I’m enough; a desire to be noticed; a desire for approval), this is what is wrong. With ANY amount of this self-justifying attitude motivating our actions, actions done “unselfishly” are REALLY selfish. This was a direct hit to my heart. (truth) I have been pondering this in my mind and heart since hearing and digesting it… The mercy that God provided is the awareness of my true motivations and His gentle work in maneuvering change. He is moving me away from the bogus motivators toward (as Keller said) reassigning ultimate value to Him…He being my base motivator.

    1. Nanci-I love your testimony-your heart. I can identify with your struggle with motivations, and I loved that you pointed this truth out: “The mercy that God provided is the awareness of my true motivations and His gentle work in maneuvering change. He is moving me away from the bogus motivators toward (as Keller said) reassigning ultimate value to Him…He being my base motivator.”

    2. Nanci,
      That part of Keller’s sermon convicted me, too. It can be uncomfortable to examine our motives, the real ones, for doing what we do.

  17. I recently received some potentially bad news about someone I love. As I’ve thought about it periodically, I realized the situation is not THAT likely to be serious. But my initial reaction gave me a taste of truth and mercy working together. This is someone who at times has been self-centered and definitely not dependable — and I (and others I care about) have been hurt by this person. Yet, that doesn’t erase my love. The love is part of who I am, as well as the relationship. Neither does the love erase the hurt. But if this person does need me, I will be there — that’s just the way it is — can’t really explain it.

    I wonder if my love and commitment despite being hurt isn’t a tiny taste of how God’s truth and mercy “work” toward me. God IS love; that doesn’t mean that my sin doesn’t exist. Nor will denying my sin make it go away or decrease the hurtfulness of it. He even makes me aware of my sin because He loves me; yet He won’t abandon me because I’m slow to admit it. Sometimes I act as if ignoring something (sin) is the same as it not existing. It’s pretty obvious that’s wrong — if I see the impact that others’ sin has had on me, and how denial made it worse, I get a TINY glimpse of the hurt that my denial of sin gives to God. I can’t even begin to comprehend the emotional and spiritual pain that Jesus experienced on the cross (I can’t imagine the physical pain either, but I’ve heard more about that)

    1. ” But if this person does need me, I will be there — that’s just the way it is — can’t really explain it”. Love this about you, Renee…praying for you!

  18. Sunday/Monday Icebreakers
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    I have been pondering that while it is possible to have truth without mercy—and there is much pain in that thought—you cannot have mercy without truth. Mercy requires an honest look at the offense, or else it would not have the weightiness it holds.

    Webster’s “MER’CY, n. [L. misericordia.] 1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.”

    I was also struck by what the woman from Dee’s cabin study said “No! I’m going to give Jesus the firstfruits of my lament.” I have thought about needing to go to Him first, before others—but never considered my going to Him first as an offering, giving my firstfruits—that really impacted me. He wants me to go to Him first, He is pleased and honored when I do, even with, maybe especially with, my laments.

    2. Share a time this month when you were you responded to truth and experienced mercy.

    I want to come back to this one if I can, but will share this. It has been an especially difficult few days—don’t want to go into details, not looking for sympathy—just to say this. When I made it to church yesterday I was weary. I have never been through a season such as this, and it has been long. But as I looked at the worship songs… ‘Jesus Lover of My Soul’, ‘Arise My Soul, Arise’, ‘God Will Take Care of You’ (a new to me hymn with amazing lyrics), and then my life long favorite verse to song-‘Isaiah 43’. Honestly, I turned to my husband and jokingly said ‘you special requested all these just for me?!’ and he said ‘no, but even sweeter, He did.’ Oh, I cry right now even typing that, and that is what it was. Sweet, tender mercy. Poured out on me.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your sunday experience. I love how Jesus does this for us and love how your eyes where open to see it!!! Praying for you.

    2. Elizabeth, I wish I could hug you or could just sit with you. LOVE to hear how God is ministering you-Elizabeth you are so special to Him and I get so encouraged hearing how He meets you. I am so thankful you are sharing these moments with us. Dee’s response in that Christian article about experiencing intimacy with God and all the ways He comes to us, for some reason has stuck with me-and I see this in your life-He comes to you in so many ways through your husband, your children, through music, through the Word. He is faithful and if we are His we will experience a sweet intimacy with Him here-thanks for honoring Him and encouraging us by giving such sweet testimonies of How He meets you. 🙂

    3. This is beautiful, Elizabeth, how the Lord met you through the hymns at your church, and what your husband said, “He did”. Yes, He had those hymns sung just for you!

    4. Dear Elizabeth, that was so precious of him. I’m praying for you, sweet sister.

    5. you all are so amazing–thank you for these sweet words of encouragement. Rebecca–I feel your hug 🙂 The other sweet part about Sunday was that our sermon was technically on Ruth 3, but it was called “A Redeemer’s Promise” and our pastor referred to Isaiah 43 the WHOLE message. It was a special thing for me because the Lord gave me that passage in 8th grade and it has always been my favorite passage,even inscribed inside my Bible. Over and over our pastor repeated “do not fear”. And I am staying with that. It is a COMMAND. No options. And the best part–is that so often we will say to one another “don’t worry’…or ‘it’ll all be okay’, and that used to really bother me because I’d think ‘how do you know?!’. But for the Lord to tell me “do not fear”–He has the power to say that! I can trust Him. I think right now, I just need to say that to every situation, over and over…do not fear.
      …sorry I spieled 😉

    6. Elizabeth, I’m happy you made it to church to hear what God had prepared for you. You could of so easily stayed home and fell into the enemy’s trap, but you overcame that evil with God’s goodness. Praying for you!

    7. sweet, tender mercy provided from the Lord through your husband…:)

    8. Elizabeth, I loved that your husband done that for you!

    9. Elizabeth, I just LOVE your sharing on this. I love the definition of mercy and the way God is meeting you during your suffering. Thanks so much for encouraging me during my struggle.

      “Sweet, tender mercy. Poured out on me.”

  19. 3. Read Hebrews 4:15-16 (This is the second Hebrews passage we are memorizing — so practice!)

    A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin?

    He was tempted as we are tempted.

    B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day?

    To approach the throne of God. Well, if you mean pray, I talk to God all the time because I need Him often. If you mean receive mercy and grace, I suppose I receive it also often, but whether I choose to accept it and “live” in it is another story. I find it difficult to understand how God is merciful and how I am blessed with grace from Jesus “just because.” it seems too easy. Shouldn’t I “do” something to receive such a gift?

    My husband really struggles with this because he was raised Catholic. He has learned you need to do good works to have the gift of grace. I was not raised in this faith, but I can see his point. I, too, feel like I should “do” something to earn my place. It is not that way because of Jesus.

    1. Laura-I do understand where your husband is coming from–and how easy it is to get caught in that trap. I recently came across this quote from Blaise Pascal, and you reminded me of it “It is good to be so tired and wearied by the futile search after the true good, that we may stretch out our arms to the Redeemer.”
      I am praying now for your husband, and for you to rest in grace.

  20. 3. Read Hebrews 4:15-16 (This is the second Hebrews passage we are memorizing — so practice!)

    A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin?

    Jesus was tempted in every way like we are yet He didn’t sin. This may be a rabbit trail, but I just realized Jesus had everything thrown at Him. Every temptation or invitation to worship Idols. Approval of man, Comfort and Control, but He consistently yielded and rested in God’s approval, God’s comfort and God’s control. Jesus can totally sympathize with our weaknesses. I was thinking how much more his heart was broken than ours when we are tempted-I mean He is Holy and had to deal with this sin being thrown at Him.

    B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day?

    To come boldly before God because we are His and forgiven. I love how Dee said it is the terrible and wonderful truth of the Cross. Sin is not to be taken lightly just because we are His and forgiven-quite the contrary-it is so ugly God had to come and die for me! When I sin-like what Keller said-not just the bad things I do but when I suffer a self righteous attitude-when I am not showing love and mercy toward others, and when I am so self absorbed on any given day that I don’t care about what He cares about, I grieve His heart..I offend the Holy Spirit..So when I sin it offends the Holy Spirit and deeply grieves Him-and God is faithful, there is mercy at the cross! He gives me hints-red flags of my sin, and then I need to choose to yield, turn and go to the cross where I will find Mercy.

    How often do I do this every day..Oh my..not as often as I should, although since doing Dee’s studies God sure is opening my eyes so there has been more yielding and going to Him than before but I am SURE I miss opportunities. I have noticed my issues are more inwardly and God is faithful to reveal them to me daily-yet I don’t pay attention sometimes and it grows inside-I hate it when I don’t because I have seen the beauty when I do and I have seen Him tearing me down and building Himself up in me over the years..It is painful though because I have to turn from my pride and let Him have me-like Eunice in Aslan. I really want to grow in that tearing down of me and more of Him because when I get a glimpse I see God has so much more work to do in me!

    1. so good Rebecca “I was thinking how much more his heart was broken than ours when we are tempted-I mean He is Holy and had to deal with this sin being thrown at Him.” This has struck me lately too–to realize how much He HATES sin, He abhors it, and yet He put it, ALL of it, on Himself. It just deepens it all to such a humbling level…

      1. Elizabeth, Oh yes, it sure does!

  21. 5. Read Hebrews 5:1-4

    A. Why could the priests of the Old Testament deal gently with the sins of their people?Because he himself is weak. Never saw this before! Love that.

    B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude. I am probably harder on myself than others can be. Thus I am hard on others around me. God is helping me find balance and rest. Probably parenting is the area that most stands out. My oldest is an outward conformist. Always has been. So outwardly she appears so together and well behaved and I thought I was a great mom. Yet it was not me. I criticized parents whose kids they could not “control”. Then I had my second non conformist child. And with all her issues. That opened my eyes tons! Someone said I needed to learn how to discipline my child once regarding her and I just laughed because I too said the same thing about others before. I have learned many times you cannot rightly judge another’s situation unless you have been there.

    1. “I have learned many times you cannot rightly judge another’s situation unless you have been there”. This is very wise, Angela.

    2. oh Angela–I agree with Susan. Such wisdom in those words. Too often I have regretted the way I treated someone when I just did not really “get” what they were going through–but later understood when I felt it myself.

    3. So true Angela about not judging.

    4. One time that this became apparent to me was how I looked down on people who let their kids have pacifiers and bottles (now sippy cups) after they were a year to 1 1/2 years old. Then I heard about a 4 year old who has been undergoing radiation treatment since she was an infant. Her mother said that some people make rude comments about her having a pacifier, but it is a comfort to her, her mom doesn’t know if she’ll even survive the year and isn’t about to take it away from her. After that, I always tell myself that I don’t know what they’re up against and I don’t have negative feelings about it any more.

  22. 6. What, therefore, do you think the author of Hebrews means when he says Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek? What two qualities are combined together? So interesting…looking forward to the sermon on it. What stood out to me was how M brought out bread and wine which represents Jesus body and blood in the NT. Probably significant. And what an amazing blessing that this mysterious figure who came to bless could have been Jesus pre birth??? God’s love for Abraham in this is astounding to me. Mercy and Truth meet. Love that.

  23. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    EACH DAY YOU MUST BE OPEN TO BOTH
    HIS WORD OF TRUTH SO YOU ARE QUICK TO REPENT
    AND HIS WORD OF LOVE SO YOU ARE RESTORED

    This is important, because I think it is easy to get off-balance, and end up on one extreme or the other. I can either be so focused on His love and grace and yes, He loves me, so I ignore or cover-over my sin, refusing to deal with it. One thing I need to improve on is to keep short accounts with God. Or, I go the other way, feeling like I can’t go to Him when I know I’ve messed-up. I need to keep this in balance. Keller and Dee have encouraged us throughout our studies to look into the gospel, to behold Jesus. I behold and see His great love, His sacrifice, in order to melt my heart, but I mustn’t forget that the Cross happened because sin demands a payment, God is Holy and cannot tolerate sin. He is the True Lover of my soul, the One who knows I am infinitely more depraved than I can even comprehend, and He hates sin, yet He loves me, and went to the Cross to restore me to Himself.

    Also love the example of Eunice, recording the audio for Idol Lies and being confronted with her own idol of comfort. How Rebecca’s testimony spoke to Eunice and how God met her in the same way He met Rebecca.

  24. This does feel like whiplash, and I’m not sure if I’m getting the connection. Is this it?
    4:12-13 The word of God reveals everything, including — especially (?) our sin. We can’t hide anything, even our thoughts.
    4:14 Because of sin, we need a High Priest to take that sin before God. Jesus is that High Priest.

    3. Read Hebrews 4:15-16 (This is the second Hebrews passage we are memorizing — so practice!)
    A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin?

    Jesus can empathize because he was tempted in every way human can be tempted. He “moved into the neighborhood” in human form and experienced it all, but still didn’t sin.

    B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day?
    “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” I often do it in more of a reactive way (God, I’ve messed up; get me outta this) than in a way reflective of a relationship with Him (the result would be more proactive/preventive, but I’m not so sure that would be my primary intention if my conscious desire were only for Him)

      1. Thanks! Seems like such an abrupt “transition.” I was trying to figure out how the author was connecting/transitioning between truth and mercy. But maybe there is no such thing as a transition between the two because there is such a great contrast (hence, the whiplash)?

  25. B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude.

    In this whole area of depression and anxiety. While I sympathized with the people that I knew that had depression, because I had suffered from it as a teen before I came to know Christ as my Savior. When it came to Christians with depression and anxiety my thinking was that they had a heart issue, that they were not trusting God and his perfect will. It was sin.
    That’s why I fought getting treatment for many months when I was hit with it. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. After all, I knew how to trust God. I wasn’t going to allow that sin in my life, but it went way beyond what I was able to handle without treatment.
    It has been both a humbling and growing journey that I am still on and may be throughout this earthly life. I am learning to trust God more, I am more honest about what I am thinking and feeling. I am and will continue to deal with my sins and heart issues as I know there is no limit to the depths of my depravity and no hope without Christ.

    1. Dawn–this made me tear up. I am so sorry for all the pain you have struggled through–but I am also thankful for ones like you. Christians who do admit their struggle, seek help, humbly admit it is a journey. OH, you have such a testimony to help others. I can relate to all you have said above–and now I just have to be careful not to judge those Christians who still treat it like I used to! But I just so appreciate your heart and see how He is and will continue to use you to minister to others struggling with these issues.

    2. That was wonderful, Dawn!

  26. Share a time this month when you experienced mercy.

    Last year I was in a sailboat that capsized. The current was strong, and I needed to hold on to the boat in order not to be washed out to sea. As time wore on, I realized with alarm that I did not have sufficient strength in my upper arms to hold on for much longer.

    The sailboat incident is a parallel to a year full of challenges. I need to trust God and hold on to Him instead of going back to my idols. But I found myself lacking the strength to trust Him. My strength was being depleted by self-reproach and a sense of worthlessness. I experienced mercy when God showed me a way to build up my strength.

    My trainer’s name is John, and he gave me this workout: 3 sets of 16 reps, like this: “For God loved [insert your name] so much that He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” God is merciful.

    1. Becky, what a neat trainer you have!

      1. I agree. What happened? How did you get rescued? Don’t keep us hanging. 🙂

        1. Becky
          Awesome comparison….but seriously ….what happened?

  27. Diane, I’ve been praying for Krista and I remembered the book that helped me get through the hard time, when my husband left my 3 kids and I. I pray this doesn’t happen, but you really need to read James Dobson’s “Love must be tough” book, if you haven’t already, as it pulled me out of the dumps back then and gave me hope and respect for myself again. I know it’s a old book, but it’s the very best for this situation. Amazon still carry’s it, very cheap. Praying for all of you!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation of this book, Joyce. You are sweet. I have read many Dobson books over the years but I don’t think I have read this one. Great to hear that it helped you back in your difficult days. My husband has an extensive library. I will check to see if he has this one and, if not, maybe I’ll try to buy it.

  28. Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

    1. What stood out to you from the above and why? – Oh man that first picture is so mean looking I don’t want to do anything that will make my path cross that. I am still not feeling well and think I may have over did it this past weekend. I can feel my attitude slipping away to annoyance. I have to get my mind-set back on the comfort of God to know that he will be my comfort if I Iet Him be. I have to stay focused on those things that are good and pleasing and not on the little annoyances that are creeping in to my mind.

    2. Share a time this month when you were you responded to truth and experienced mercy. – this is a come back to question.

    1. Praying you feel better soon, Julie

  29. 3. Read Hebrews 4:15-16 (This is the second Hebrews passage we are memorizing — so practice!)
    A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin?
    There is nothing I will ever experience that Jesus did not face before me. I love that the Word tells us this—hugely different than if we had a God who was impermeable, who was so far removed, above, that He didn’t know what it feels like—but He knows. He knows the struggle, the pain, the loneliness…all of it, and to such a deeper degree than I will ever experience.

    There is such love here. We benefit from the fact that He suffered—not just in the way we think of the Cross, but we benefit on an emotional level. He didn’t just die and make amends for our sin, He FELT it, ALL of it, so that we are not only forgiven, but understood.

    B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day?

    Go to the Throne with confidence, with trust, with firm belief. I definitely go, a lot, in prayer. But with confidence? It’s mixed. I have full confidence that He is there, and He hears. I believe He is good, and knows what is best. But then my fear begins to creep in…what is His besting this, and will it be hard? I trust He will be in it with me, no matter what—but lately, I’ve just wanted to catch my breath before we continue on this road. Still, I know Him—and I have to move forward based on the Word and not my circumstances, not my feelings. And so THAT’s what’s so comforting about vs 15—even though I must learn to not let my feelings override what is True, He understands my feelings.

  30. 5. Read Hebrews 5:1-4
    A. Why could the priests of the Old Testament deal gently with the sins of their people?
    They identified with them and were humble about their own weaknesses.

    B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude.

    Well, before I became a parent…I did a lot of childrens’ “stuff”—I was the Children’s Ministry assistant at our church, taught preschool, babysat, etc…and ick, it’s so humbling to admit this now, but I generally viewed “problem children” as being the fault of the parent. I had a million suggestions, thankfully NEVER voiced, about what the parent should/shouldn’t do and how that had likely caused…whatever the issue was.
    So, now that I have kids, instead of assuming the woman in WalMart with the screaming child has failed in her parenting technique, I pray for her when I pass.

  31. B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude.

    When I was a teenager, I use to hear an ambulance or a fire truck and I was curious of what happen or want to follow them. After I had teenage kids out at night, and heard those sounds, I would worry so bad about my kids.
    Sometimes I spent all night in the ER with them, after an accident or a fight or something, and that is a mom’s worst nightmare. So now whenever I hear an ambulance or helicopter, or whatever, I always say “Dear Heavenly Father, please be with whoever needs help”.

    It’s just a small thing, but it’s all I could think of right now:)

  32. 2. Share a time this month when you responded to truth and experienced mercy.

    Oh this happens almost daily, with something or other. Last week I was frustrated with my daughter, and said unkind, critical words to her. I was convicted, I was wrong. I apologized and she forgave me.
    I saw the truth of my true desperate predicament last week in Hebrews 4:13-14. Nothing I have done or thought or said is hidden from God; everything will be uncovered and laid bare. I will have to give an account to God one day. His mercy comes in the next verse, that by His grace, I have a great High Priest who will intercede for me.

    I was having a hard time upon learning that my parent’s home might be sold, and the anxiety and tears and sadness revealed to me that idols of comfort/security were being threatened. I admitted to God that my hope and security were in something other than Him and I knew it was wrong. He is helping me, giving me more peace, and as I’ve been reading again about the life of Joseph, who had the comfort and security of his home taken away, I find mercy in how God was with him and prospered him in a foreign land. Joseph, when he came to power, could’ve gone back home, but he chose to stay where he was.

  33. 3. Read Hebrews 4:15-16 (This is the second Hebrews passage we are memorizing – so practice!)

    A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though He did not sin?

    Jesus came to earth and became human, so He experienced all the things we do in our weak,limited flesh and blood bodies (except for sin). He was tempted in every way just as we are. Rebecca pointed out above that Jesus was tempted to worship idols – comfort, the approval of man. Now that I think about the time Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, it makes sense. Satan wanted Jesus to turn the stone into bread because He was hungry – power/control – take matters into His own hands, comfort – eat something, God can’t really comfort you, do a miracle – get the approval/affirmation of men. Jesus does understand the temptation of our idols.

    Yesterday, I was listening to Family Talk, and I heard a woman by the name of Stephanie Fast giving her testimony, and she said this about Jesus:

    “You sit there holding things from your past because you think you have a right to. Jesus didn’t die on that Cross because He was sympathetic for you, He died on that Cross so that He could IDENTIFY with you. You need to understand the difference between sympathy and identification. Jesus hung on that Cross because He wanted to identify with me. He became sin, He became me. It’s like He came into my body and He knew everything that I was feeling and going through because He’d been there too.”

    When I heard that, I thought of this passage, and I know the writer uses the word “sympathize”, yet I think it is, as Stephanie says, so much more. Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for us. He can identify with any pain, hurt, temptation, or suffering we endure because He has been there too.

    1. I love what Stephanie Fast shared. He doesn’t just sympathize with us in the normal understanding of the word, God “identifies” with us. That thought helps so much.

    2. Oh Susan, this was so helpful..something I am going to think more through- a compelling thought. Sympathy or Empathy? I am kind of stuck on that for some reason..He does empathize with our pain, but it is because He wanted to identify with us.

      OKAY so I looked them both up:

      Empathy: Understanding what someone else is feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes.

      Sympathy: Acknowledging a person’s emotional hardships and providing comfort and assurance.

      Jesus, who is Holy-without sin-WANTED to put himself in our shoes so he could identify with us..wow.

  34. 5. Read Hebrews 5:1-4

    A. Why could the priests of the Old Testament deal gently with the sins of their people?

    Because they were just like the people and were just as weak. They didn’t take the honor of being high priest on them self- their position was given to them not because they deserved it but because God called them-I am sure this humbled them.

    B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude.

    I judged other parents before I had a son with Autism. I would see kids screaming in stores and mothers unable to control them and I would judge harshly. Then we found out our son had Autism at age 2. Talk about screaming fits because he couldn’t tell us what he wanted..and screaming fits because his sensory issues were affected by light, by textures-he was in pain but couldn’t tell us and so he screamed.

    This is an example of how God changed me-I am not telling you this to lift myself up but it is a change only God could do. There was a gal walking out of Isaac’s church preschool and her daughter was in her arms uncontrollable-screaming and flailing her arms and she dropped her papers and her purse spilled out all over the floor.. It appeared to most walking by that this little girl was just being a brat and her mom should just take her in the bathroom and spank her. God had me go over to her and ask if I could help..I told her that I SO understand and my son does this too! Then we began to talk and I noticed her daughter was tip toe walking, flapping her hands, didn’t have eye contact with me, and not responsive to me trying to get her attention..I knew it was possible she too had autism. Anyway the lady started telling me she thinks something is wrong with her daughter but her husband is on the fence about getting her daughter seen. God opened doors for me to help her with some referrals to get her daughter help as well.

    1. I love this, Rebecca. I love how he has changed your heart. It is wonderful that you were able to give referrals and support to this harassed mom. Oh, God is good.

    2. God put you there for her at that time, Rebecca…Praise God

    3. I agree, Rebecca – God “intersected” you with this woman and you were His woman at the right moment!

    4. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca. Kudos in being obedient to God’s nudge in this God-incident.

  35. I’ve been reading several CCEF articles lately and this quote from Julie Lowe reminded me of something we’ve discussed here before: “…all of us, think,interpret, and draw conclusions about life based on life experiences. …we are interpreters. We try to make sense out of our world, ourselves, and our experiences. And we are meant to do so. But it is a second fundamental truth that we cannot accurately make sense of our world without reference to the One who made us and who correctly interprets our world for us. As human beings, we were created to understand life based on what God says about Himself, our world, and ourselves. Without that reference point, we draw faulty conclusions about ourselves, God,and our life experiences. We become the center of our own world and act accordingly.”

    So it is human nature to try to make sense of things–but only with God as my reference point, my center, is there Hope. The faulty conclusions got me–how often I try to “think ahead”–but if I am not keeping Him center, my conclusions are faulty. Maybe it even ties in with mercy and truth…the truth of our circumstances are what they are–but with God as the reference point, we remember there is mercy to be found. As we approach the throne with the truth of our sin–we find His mercy and grace extended in it.

    1. Oh my goodness…love that quote. I’m going to write it down now. It’s very true.

  36. 5. A. The priests were human and therefore prone to the same struggles.

    B. on many occasions I have judged something I don’t understand. I have been put in check on so many of those judgements…that I do try to not judge others. Like many others mentioned, though, becoming a parent has been the most eye opening experience!

    6. Jesus is ALL. He is King of everything…king to me in in light of Kellers point means law enforcement, authority, judge and jury. So The Lord retains this power and also the mercy of a priest who can relate to our struggles because of His own humanness!
    Wow it just really clicked for me!

  37. Being way behind schedule, and contemplating whether I should first try to catch up, or just jump feet first into the new week, I vaguely remembered reading something in the Introduction about it being ok to take time to “chew”, but when a new week arrives, to jump in. At times I’ve been chewing, but for the most part, I’ve been procrastinating. Until this week.

    As a believer, it is sometimes easy to walk right over the verses without giving them much thought because the words have become all too familiar. John 1:14 tells me that Jesus is full of grace and truth. John 1:17 says that grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Ok, that sounds logical. But, this week, I read these words by Andy Stanley in his book, Deep and Wide:

    “I love that. ‘Full of grace and truth.’ Not the balance between, but the full embodiment of. Jesus did not come to strike a balance between grace and truth. He brought the full measure of both. John had seen this firsthand. He had watched Jesus apply the full measure of grace and truth to each individual they encountered…….Jesus didn’t try to balance grace and truth. He didn’t water down the law. He didn’t put a condition on grace. He gave her (referring to the woman caught in adultery) a full dose of both. In Jesus, we get as clear and as close a look as we will ever get of what grace and truth look like in an otherwise graceless world that has turned its back on truth. In Jesus, there was no conflict between grace and truth.”

    Those were eye-opening words for me! How often have I experienced internal conflict simply because I was trying to strike my own balance between grace and truth….. no wonder it never worked. It is so much easier to separate the two, maybe because I don’t want to have to deal with the reality of the truth, especially in relation to what and how I communicate to those around me.

    Grace alone – easier to digest? Probably.
    How about a loving dose of truth to go with it? Something I have to work on.
    He continually challenges me, and his timing never ceases to amaze me. What a mighty God we have!

    1. Yes glad you jumped in anyway! 🙂

      1. Thank you, Angela.

    2. Thank you for sharing the quote by Andy Stanley. I like how he says it, that Jesus doesn’t balance grace and truth, but gives the full measure of each to each person.

      1. You are welcome Susan. It just touches something deep down in my soul when I consider how perfect Jesus is, and how I long to be more like him. Even a little bit more like him each day would be great. So thankful that he not only convicts me with his truth, but loves me with his mercy and grace…..and without condemnation. Hard to comprehend.

  38. I know that I have not been on much these last days so I thought I would pop in to say how much I appreciate your prayers. This is a public blog so please understand that I hesitate to go into detail here, but Krista has given me permission to say that we continue in crisis. However, some changes have been made in her situation. We have had some extended family meetings and interventions over the last couple of days. Krista has come to stay with us for a while and other family members (her husband’s family) are staying with her three small boys for now. Krista’s husband will be at home with them as well. Krista will continue to be fairly actively involved with the boys, but from a bit of a distance, and with grandparents and other concerned extended family very involved in decision making and care giving as well. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to get Krista the help she needs (which we realize may take a while), make decisions for the boys, and as we pray for long term marital reconciliation. The chasm is wide but God is in control.

    This is all heart-wrenching to us, as you can imagine, but God has given me an amazing sense of wisdom and peace during very stressful, tense times for the last few days, for which I am so grateful. The road ahead appears very steep and dangerous, but I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11.

    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

    I have sensed truly a peace that passes understanding during these days.

    Philippians 4:7
    And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    We know that our prayers and the prayers of His people make a difference. May God’s glory be displayed both short term (as Christian family members interact, intervene and participate in this situation), and long term (for Krista and her precious family, whom God loves).

    1. oh Diane, I prayed for you this morning and will just continue.My heart is so heavy knowing you are walking through such a difficult and long journey–truly a valley as Dee said. It does sound like you all are being so wise, so thankful she has you and your husband’s support. Much love and prayers to you all~

    2. Diane, I’m just praying and praying for Krista and the boys and for you both and all involved…my heart is heavy also for all of you. Love you, Diane and Krista

    3. Praying Diane!

    4. I’m sorry things are so tough for your family right now, Diane. Am continuing to pray for all of you. You are truly an inspiration, though, in how you keep clinging to God and His promises and His hope. Your spiritual maturity and wisdom, I’m sure, will be invaluable in this situation.

    5. Oh Diane, am praying-have a heavy heart for both of you. It so encouragws me to see you pressing into Him.

    6. Praying for you Diane, and for Krista and her family.

    7. Dear Diane and Krista,
      I’ve been praying for both of you and Krista’s family. I read this earlier this morning with a tremendous sense of relief and peace about the wisdom in your decisions and your perspective.

      Please know that I continue to pray for you. Depression is hard on entire families. Because this is such a public forum and because discussions on the Internet are so easy to take out of context, I’m hesitant to write much. I do want to share some things that were helpful to me; but if they don’t fit, PLEASE ignore!! (I do appreciate your long-term perspective).

      Helpful things people said/did over the years:

      -From a psychiatrist: -Depression (with or without anxiety) is a commonly used term — and often causes misunderstanding among others who also have been depressed (even “clinically depressed,” on medication, etc.). It seems that depression not only varies in severity, but also in nature or quality. He told me there should be a different term.

      I wonder, from your posts and reading Krista’s blog awhile back, if Krista is experiencing the “different term depression,” rather than depression related to life events or who knows what. I’m not an MD and may be very wrong (Bold that last sentence!). I also don’t know if the approach to treatment is that much different with different “types” of depression; I do know that if Krista is experiencing that “other depression,” you may hear advice that doesn’t seem to impact the depression much (though it could be beneficial in other ways).

      -from same dr: new meds are being developed all the time

      -From a pastor (I was scared to death of a particular experience): “I can’t promise you that you won’t experience ______, but I can promise you that God will be with you through it” (and God was faithful).

      -Friends and family who were there for me unconditionally (even when they couldn’t “fix” me).
      -Professionals (that I trusted) who were hopeful. I could believe that the “depression” would get better because I trusted them, not because I felt hope.

      The only thing I want to write about what is not helpful is to beware of good advice from well-meaning people. Some advice, indeed, may be VERY good. Our views of God, our thoughts, behaviors, etc are very important in the long-term; however, it’s very possible to “do everything right” and the depression will continue (The good news is that those beliefs and behaviors will be helpful in the long run). People may assume that if the depression doesn’t lift that you’re doing something wrong (or that family has deep, dark secrets). NOT TRUE (and harmful if you believe that stuff when you’re feeling desperate). So much of God’s work is hidden from us; don’t compare yourselves to people who “were depressed, did (fill in the blank), and then got better.”

      Again, please disregard if the above isn’t helpful. I’m praying for you even if my suspicions are wrong 🙂

      I am trusting God’s faithfulness and praying that His faithfulness will be “in your face” as you continue to seek Him, and that the reminder of His faithfulness THROUGH the pain and confusion will encourage you to lean into Him.

      1. Thanks for your advice, Renee. I know that you have been through a lot and will make sure to discuss what you have said with Krista. We too suspect that her depression is “different”. Sometimes she seems calm, focused, functioning completely normally and other times she completely panics. She can’t explain to us what causes it. There are deep issues but possibly a chemical cause as well. We are pursuing seeing a psychiatrist but they are telling us that it will be at least two months before she even sees one for the first time. (Deep sigh!)

      2. Renee, thank you so much for your words, I truly appreciate them!

    8. Diane, such good things here. Thank God there are so many family members who are helping and want to be involved. We don’t have that situation in my family. Praying for all of you.

    9. Thanks all for your prayers. God has given us a few days of relative calm after the recent storm but many difficult days are ahead as Krista transitions to a different kind of life (for now).

  39. A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin? – Because although he chose to obey God’s will for his life and did not sin, he was tempted by sin in every way and knows how hard it is to not allow sin into our lives.

    B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day? – We are to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so we can receive his mercy and grace when needed. I do find myself saying to myself, which I guess God can hear, that whatever I did at that time was wrong. But I’m guessing I should just verbally and out loud tell God I’m sorry and ask him to forgive me and not just assume he knows I’m asking for forgiveness when I mumble to “myself”. He is just waiting for me to open up to him and come boldly to him to seek his grace and mercy that’s waiting for me.

  40. I’ve only heard 10 minutes of the sermon but already want to replay it! I think it really will minister to all of us right where we are…looking like a new favorite!

  41. Thank you, so much, ladies for all of your encouragement and prayers. I really can feel them.

  42. 3. A. Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses, even though he did not sin?
    Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses even though He did not sin because He faced all the same testings.

    B. What exhortation are we given in verse 16? How often do you do this throughout the day?
    The exhortation we are given is to come boldly to the throne of our gracious God to receive His mercy and grace.

    Side note, I really loved the reminder (from one of the young women in the cabin study) of running to Jesus first before anyone else. Sometimes I wonder who can/should I talk to about different situations or dilemmas..Jesus should always be first…not Mom, sister, or friends…Jesus.

    5. A. Why could the priests of the Old Testament deal gently with the sins of their people?
    The priests of the OT dealt gently with the sins of their people because they were one among them, subject to the same weaknesses.

    B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude.
    Several weeks ago, for about a week my daughter laid around watching DVDs or sleeping; she would go to work and then the balance of her time was spent watching DVDs or sleeping. She told me that she wasn’t feeling well…a cold? I thought that she was probably just being over dramatic about not feeling well…”buck up, buttercup, it’s ONLY a cold”. Well, let me tell you, when I came down with the cold and did nothing more than go to work, sleep, or lay around the house, totally exhausted and feeling crummy, for two weeks straight, my insensitivity came front row and center. I am happy to say that the realization allowed my attitude to do a complete 180.

    6. What, therefore, do you think the author of Hebrews means when he says Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek? What two qualities are combined together?
    Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek because He rules and has authority (King) and is merciful (priest); Melchizedek is the only king/priest mentioned in the bible.

    Dee, thank you for providing explanation of king/priest and Melchizedek…in all the times I have heard or read these passages, I had no comprehension of the connection. I look forward to listening to Tim Keller’s sermon.

    1. oh Nanci!, your “buck up, buttercup” made me smile! I may have to borrow that one! But wow–what a great example. Until about a year ago I had been strangely spared from experiencing the “upper body version” (sorry!) of the stomach bug. My husband gets that a LOT and I was always less sympathetic than I’d like to admit. Until, I too, experienced it last year. I must have apologized to him 20 times that day, for all my past insensitivity!

  43. Read Hebrews 5:5-6 (Melchizedek!) Then read Genesis 14:17-20.

    Since this is a brain twister, let me give you the Keller insight. A King is associated with rule and authority and truth. A Priest is associated with mercy. In the Old Testament, you could not be both King and Priest. But there was one very mysterious exception, and you find him briefly and only in the Genesis passage above. He was king of Salem, yet he was a priest of God Most High.

    6. What, therefore, do you think the author of Hebrews means when he says Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek? What two qualities are combined together?

    WOW…I never saw this before in this passage! Mercy combined with rule, authority, and truth.

    7. Write out what you have memorized of Hebrews 4:15-16.

    For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he didn’t sin..

  44. 5. Read Hebrews 5:1-4

    A. Why could the priests of the Old Testament deal gently with the sins of their people?

    Because they were also sinners.

    B. Share a time when you were not particularly sympathetic toward someone who failed or was hurting — but then you failed or you hurt in the same way — and it changed your attitude.

    Sometimes I am less than understanding when people are feeling low. An example would be when my husband was working in the yard fixing a fence. He, stupidly, had no shoes on and dropped a two by four on his foot. He came to show me and I said, “suck it up!” i didnt realize how bad it was at the time. the next day I noticed his foot was black and blue and said “what happened?” he said “I dropped the two by four on my foot.” i said, “wow that looks bad!” oops…..believe you me, he reminds ms of that time every time I physically hurt myself!

    Sorry to be so absent this week….my mom is still critical in ICU, in fact she coded on the table in surgery the other day as they were trying in insert a trach tube to get her off the ventilator from her brain surgery 2 weeks ago. My life is too hectic and I can feel the devil prowling. It is unsettling. I need prayers. What’s new? I have misplaced papers at work, can’t seem to have energy, and can’t seem to focus on important things right now. I can’t find a decent priced plane ticket and we can’t really afford it any way. I can’t decide if i should go be with mom or not. I’m not sure it’s time yet.

    1. oh Laura–I am SO sorry. I am just now seeing this, but I am praying for you right now.So so much–I am sorry.

    2. Praying, Laura-dancer. Sorry your mom is so sick. Be gentle with your absent-mindedness. You are under tremendous stress. I can relate.

    3. Praying Laura…I am so sorry

  45. I may be rabbit trailing, but I have been pondering this study this week and I have thought that I can easily concern myself a bit too much with me-I can concern myself with what is going on around me and it clouds reality-HIM and my intimacy with Him. So I ask myself-what does God REALLY desire? He wants me to fall deeper in love with Him and be Holy. This is all that truly matters-this is why He made me and this is why He went to the Cross to redeem me-He is my King and High Priest. Is He really all I need? He is saying, “Do you love me?” Even though I say a hearty yes in the depths of me, I can easily fall to temptation in an instant with a circumstance, or a thought that leads to worry. He is all I need-my satisfaction, yet I will still have flaws, weaknesses and selfish sin issues while I am here, but I am learning that is a good thing-for His strength is perfected in my weakness-and His Holiness often draws me to my knees clinging to His mercy.

  46. I have two things that happened this week and wanted to share but didn’t have time!

    My dad is sharing deeper things with me a lot lately. He doesn’t share these deeper spiritual issues with my brothers-so God is opening a door. I think my dad is open now. Susan, I know you are praying!
    Pray for our next conversation-My comfort idol is avoiding engaging with my dad about this Psychic lady on t.v. that he likes so much. He brings her up every time we talk and inwardly I am tired of it-I keep coming back with scripture-the demonic aspect, but my brother encouraged me to go to the cross. (hello?) 😉 Jesus died on the cross so that we can talk with God, we can have a relationship with the living God-we don’t need to go to Psychics. 🙂

    This situation is the opposite-as far as I know I didn’t have an idol operating. I had a chance to share the Gospel yesterday with my boss at work. Her daughter is struggling with an addiction to heroine and OH my boss is in such pain-I WOULD BE TOO! I had a hard time not crying with her in the office as she was telling me conversations she is having with her daughter. Her daughter is going to church trying to stay clean-she is in her 40’s. Yet her mom is worried she will die-oh the pain. God gave me the opportunity to tell her the truth about all of us-we are all flawed and need Him-then I went to the cross and told her that God isn’t pointing his finger at her or her daughter rather He died on the cross for her, and He loves her so and wants her to find refuge in Him. I told her of how God came to me in my depression. Her response was that she thought her daughter had a Bible and maybe they should pull it out of the trunk and give it to her to read. God opened my eyes to see that He was moving, not me and I rested in Him the whole conversation.

    1. love hearing how God is using you Rebecca–in so many lives around you. Praying too for your conversations with your dad–love how you are going to Him with all of it–He is at work!

    2. Rebecca,
      This is phenomenal – God is moving and He’s moving through you. I will pray for both your dad and your boss and her daughter.

      1. Amen. That’s great, Rebecca. God is moving. Praise the Lord!

    1. Oh yes, Dee will do. I will be at work but will listen to the replay!

    2. praying dear Dee!!!

    3. I think I can listen on my cell 🙂

    4. Wonderful job Dee! Every ear that hears you is blessed by you and the gift God has given you.

    1. ok, closing my office door now and going to my knees 😉

    2. PRAYING!

  47. Still not so healthy. I have a “thing” about dependability and get annoyed with people when they seem chronically undependable. Between my health and hard drive that crashed a couple weeks ago (that contains everything; it’s backed up, but I need another Mac to restore it), I feel less than dependable. Time for truth and mercy with this. I’d wish for truth and mercy from others right now, but I’m not sure that people are paying enough attention to care right now (or they are glad to get out of some stuff because I’m way behind!). SO, this may be a moment of truth and mercy from God: The truth is that I am fully dependent on Him and that my “dependability” is zip; dependability ONLY comes as a result of His grace. Mercy: I do experience mercy from Him daily, but He also is creating mercy for me in the “circumstances” of other people.

    1. Praying Renee you feel better soon.

      1. Thanks, Julie! How are YOU?

        1. I’m doing much better but the Yuck is still hanging on. I’m hoping soon it will be gone.

    2. Renee,
      Sorry to hear you’re still not well…I will pray for you. Also, I really thought you spoke with much wisdom (the hard-earned kind) in your post above to Diane and Krista.

      1. Thanks, Susan, for your prayers and for your comment on my post. I felt miserable when I left work this afternoon (thankful that I could work from home for part of the day).

        I appreciate your comment on my post (yeah, it was a hard-earned perspective 🙂 ). I had some doubts later today about “butting in.” Even though many things have changed in the last decades, I still see some of the same things in Christian literature as when I was a kid and my mom was diagnosed with depression. People care, and want to help, but often “good advice” (even when it leads to some positive change) that doesn’t “fix” the depression can be devastating.

        Now, when people give simplistic advice, I tend to mentally roll my eyes and think “How dumb do you think I am?” — because if the advice is half-ways credible, I’ve tried it. But in the past, that advice led to more pain. When someone feels desperate to get rid of the pain and already has meditated on Scripture, listened to music, exercised, taken medication (blah, blah, blah), more advice seems to imply that one needs to DO more or do it better. (a soapbox there!?!)

        Anyway, Diane and Krista, I’m proud of you for the decisions you have made and the courage you have and am praying that God will continue to strengthen you, give you wisdom, and lead you to wise, experienced professionals — the “right” people at the right times. Glad you will continue to be involved with your children, Krista! I’m praying for them and your husband, too.

        1. 🙂 It is so encouraging to see your discussion and how much you care, Renee and Susan. I respect your hard-earned advice, Renee, even though I do not know exactly what you have been through. Your words have a ring of truth and mercy. 🙂 Many are praying for us and we know they care. It makes a tough time seem not so hopeless.

  48. PRAYING FOR YOU, DEE, ON MIDDAY CONNECTION – GETTING READY TO LISTEN NOW!