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HOW WE CHANGE

WHEN I ARISE 

IN THE MIDWINTER 

THE SKY IS AS BLACK AS MIDNIGHT.

BUT THOUGH IT IS BITTER COLD OUT

IT’S THE SWEETEST TIME IN.

 MY TIME TO BE WITH HIM.

I ANTICIPATE HE’LL MEET ME.

ONE MORNING LAST WEEK

HE TOOK ME BY SURPRISE,

FOR GLANCING UP I SAW THE SUN

CATCHING THE EARTH BY THE EDGES —

AND GLORY!

BEAUTIFULSKYKC
From my Kansas City porch last week

I WRAPPED MY FLEECY BLANKET AROUND ME

AND  STOOD ON MY PORCH

WORSHIPPING.

LUCI SHAW SAYS THAT

CREATION ECHOES THE TRUTHS IN HIS WORD.

JUST AS THE RISING SUN CHANGED EVERYTHING

WE NEED HIS POWER TO RISE UPON US,

TURNING OUR DARKNESS TO LIGHT.

WE HAVE NO POWER OF OUR OWN TO CHANGE.

WE NEED “THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH TO VISIT US.”

(FROM ZECHARIAH’S SONG IN LUKE 1:78)

In just two weeks we will be beginning Lent. I’m excited to tell you what we will be doing — for this has always been an amazing time on this blog.

We’re going to be “peering” into the gospel to better understand how the gospel is the answer to every problem we face. The gospel is not just the power to be saved from the penalty of sin, but it is also the power to set us free from our idols and to strengthen us for every problem we face. The gospel can change how you mother, how you face suffering, even how you confront people.

He is leading us here — I have truly felt like we are in a kayak in His gently moving river. He is carrying us.

kayak_in_the_river-wide

Pray about joining us during Lent. These next two weeks, as we complete where God led us during Advent, you will get a taste of where we will be going during Lent. For every story in the Bible is really a story about Jesus — and hidden in Jesus is the gospel — and the gospel is the mystery that can help us face every problem.

God cares most about developing our character. Though it pleases Him to bless us with health, wealth, and happiness — that is not His primary concern. When you study His family in Genesis, you see He is the Hero for His children are terribly flawed. He is the Potter who is gently molding them over the fire. We saw it with Jacob, with Leah, with Judah — and as we close Genesis, this story continues. Though Joseph ends nobly, he began as a spoiled brat. His father favored him and he was anything but subtle in letting his brothers know that he had a favored position. What changed Joseph into a man of character who reflects our Lord Jesus Christ? The mystery of the gospel. We’re going to look at this and then (and continuing into next week) consider how we might apply this to our own intimate family relationships.

 

Sunday/Monday Ice-breaker

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

2. If you have been on this blog during Lent in the past, could you share a word of testimony on how you felt about it or how it impacted you so I can possibly share it with others? Specifics are wonderful, if you can remember.

Monday-Wednesday: Bible Study

3. How do you see a lack of wisdom in Joseph in Genesis 37:5-11?

4. How did the brothers respond in Genesis 37:18-20?

5. Read Genesis 37:25-36

A. What callousness do you see in verse 25?

B. What callousness do you see in Judah in verse 26?

Derek Kidner comments: Judah will later develop some fine qualities, but at present there is nothing more than self-interest. Profit is a harsh monetary term like “loot,” or “rake-off.” The force of the phrase “and conceal his blood” is two-fold (from man, and by avoiding actually bloodshed, from God).

C. What callousness do you see in the way they confront Jacob?

Derek Kidner sees a parallel between “your son” of Genesis 37:32 and “this your son” of the elder brother in the story of the prodigal sons in Luke 15:30. This was not “their brother,” but “your son.”

Joseph points us to Christ, for like Christ he was betrayed by his brethren. Like Christ, he forgives and rescues his brethren. Charles Spurgeon “The Prince of Preachers,” was considered so, I believe, for he was a master of showing how Jesus is the center of every story, and the gospel hidden in it as well. He has several wonderful sermons on Joseph from which I will quote. (You would be blessed to read them!)

6. Read Genesis 49:22-24 (This was Jacob’s dying blessing to Joseph)

A. How does Jacob describe Joseph’s life? Find everything you can.

In “Joseph attacked by the Archers,” Spurgeon preached:

Oh! the agonies he felt—parted from his father, losing his brethren, without a friend, dragged away by cruel man-sellers, chained upon a camel it may be, with fetters on his hands. Those who have borne the gyves and fetters, those who have felt that they were not free men, that they had not liberty, might tell how sorely the archers grieved him when they shot at him the arrows of their envy. He became a slave, sold from his country, dragged from all he loved. Farewell to home and all its pleasures—farewell to a father’s smiles and tender cares. He must be a slave, and toil where the slave’s task-master makes him; he must be stripped in the streets, he must be beaten, he must be scourged, he must be reduced from the man to the animal, from the free man to the slave. Truly the archers sorely shot at him. And, my brethren, do you hope, if you are the Lord’s Josephs, that you shall escape envy? I tell you, nay; that green-eyed monster, envy, lives in London as well as elsewhere, and he creeps into God’s church, moreover. Oh! it is hardest of all, to be envied by one’s brethren.

B. Yet out of Joseph’s sorrow came beauty — he became a “fruitful bough.” The secret as to how that happened is revealed in Genesis 49:24, and again, in Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:19-20. It is a two-fold secret — see it you can find it.

 

Joseph has to be humbled, to see the truth about himself. But he also had to be confident

in God’s love for him. The gospel is unique in that two seemingly contrasting qualities

have “kissed” at the cross. (Psalm 85:10)

bigmercyandtruth

Do you see?

We are so bad the Jesus had to die for us. (The truth about our sin)

Yet we are so loved that He did die for us. (The mercy of our God)

7. Now — I want you to apply this by showing how you might use these two truths of the gospel to confront someone you care about in truth and in love. You may have a real scenario or you may need to imagine one.

A. How might you humble yourself in coming, admitting, without excuses, any sin in yourself?

B. How might you speak truth in love?

C. If he or she does not respond as you hope, how might you forgive in your heart through the power of the gospel?

This may be hard to understand, but that is because the gospel is both simple and very complex. We’re going to keep peering into it.

Thursday/Friday

Read or listen to one of these Spurgeon sermons and share your comments.

1)  Joseph Attacked by the Archers (I quoted from this one above): Link

or

2). Rough, But Friendly

Spurgeon shows how the way Joseph dealt with his brothers is the way of Christ. He is rough with us at first, to bring us to our senses, but then shows great mercy. You can either listen or read:

Listen for 99 cents: Link or read it: Link

SHARE YOUR INSIGHTS FROM YOUR READING OR LISTENING TO THE SPURGEON SERMON YOU CHOSE

Saturday

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY AND WHY?

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258 comments

  1. 6. Read Genesis 49:22-24 (This was Jacob’s dying blessing to Joseph)

    A. How does Jacob describe Joseph’s life? Find everything you can.

    Joseph was a fruitful vine….I hate when I have to interpret analogies. Not a big fan of poetry. Sometimes I am lost in the bible. So, I guess this means he produced a lot? A lot of what? I know the basic story of Joseph (from Donny Osmond of course). I know he went to Egypt and ended up being an assistant of sorts to Potiphar. Potiphars wife had a crush on him (I think). Potiphar trusted him because of a dream I think. So back to Joseph. He produced ? He spread ? Not following with just these 2-3 verses. I suppose I will have to read the entire passage to answer?

    The archers were those who tried to harm him I guess. Maybe his brothers? He went with the flow and ended up a leader in Egypt.

  2. B. Yet out of Joseph’s sorrow came beauty — he became a “fruitful bough.” The secret as to how that happened is revealed in Genesis 49:24, and again, in Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:19-20. It is a two-fold secret — see it you can find it.

     Joseph was saved and so would others be saved (?).

  3. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    The photo of the sunrise is gorgeous. I remember many years ago a gal sharing with me her awe in God allowing us to see all the different colors of the spectrum…the truly awesomeness of it didn’t really sink in at the time, but now I can see the incredible and generous blessing God provides us with allowing us to see all the different colors, to hear all the various sounds, to taste all the vast flavors, etc. The photo of the sunrise is another reminder of His gifts…truly mind-boggling how extravagant our God is… What also stood out to me is “The gospel is …the power to set us free from our idols and to strengthen us for every problem we face.” and “God cares most about developing our character.” I’m thankful that God doesn’t grow weary of me; He continues to work in me to transform my heart, mind, and soul.

    You all have a blessed Wednesday!

  4. 5. Read Genesis 37:25-36

    A. What callousness do you see in verse 25?

    They sat down to eat a meal while Joseph was in the cistern-I am sure Joseph was scared, screaming, feeling a horrible betrayal by his own brothers, yet they treated him like an animal and didn’t care-very callous.

    B. What callousness do you see in Judah in verse 26?

    He could care less about killing Joseph but about what he will gain if he does or doesn’t. His mind is totally void of love or empathy-and on his idol-He could care less about God and that is the real issue here-He is so entangled in his idol that he is trying to pull a fast one on God-if we don’t kill him then God won’t kill us.

    C. What callousness do you see in the way they confront Jacob?

    What they said to him when they handed him Joseph’s robe- is this “Your son’s” robe? There is distance, not truly caring and they didn’t truly comfort or grieve with him either. I do think we can tell if someone is sincerely grieving with us or not.

  5. How does Jacob describe Joseph’s life? Find everything you can.

    Jacob sees that God made Joseph strong, in spite of being attacked, because I suppose also because of his hardships, he remained agile and grew, and his life bore much fruit, reaching over a wall of hardships he blessed and preserved the lives of many, many people. Joseph certainly does display kindness gentleness, self-control, and above all love.

    B. It is a two-fold secret — see it you can find it.
    I am not sure this is what you hoped we would see but I see that it was God who strengthened Joseph, God preserved Israel through Joseph. Joseph refused to put himself in the place of God. His hardships taught him humility and Gods plans were accomplished.

  6. Now — I want you to apply this by showing how you might use these two truths of the gospel to confront someone you care about in truth and in love. You may have a real scenario or you may need to imagine one.

    I have been praying about and thinking about the conversation I need to have with my sister, God provided a podcast which I randomly played as I was driving yesterday.
    I came home and listened more carefully to the portion which dealt with having been hurt by someone, I made these notes:

    From Tim Keller sermon-The Community of Jesus

    Jesus on how we treat our enemies

    INTERIOR WORK:
    Pray for those who mistreat you

    Engage in an inner disciple by which I drain myself of any ill will towards that person

    Pray-See them as someone who is just in much in need as I am
    Bring myself to a place where I want their flourishing rather than their pain

    “Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of
humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners, but no one
can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without
overcoming this double exclusion — without transposing the enemy from the
sphere of the monstrous…into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from
the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When
one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that the torturer will not eternally
triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and
imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows [as the cross demonstrates]
that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of
God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.”
    ― Miroslav Volf

    I am forbidden to think of myself a superior to them, I am to will their good.

    OUTER WORK:

    In my actions I must do good
    If someone has truly wronged me, once I have drained myself of ill will, I am to confront them
    Turn the other cheek, does not mean I offer myself up for further abuse
    I must try to talk to, to confront them without the smallest desire to hurt, belittle, or humiliate them

    Two approaches most of us have when we are hurt/wronged

    Go after revenge, hurt them back
    More often we say, Forget it, don’t worry about it (oh this is me!)

    Both of these responses are, selfish and are about me, what I am comfortable with

    The best thing for the other person is to have their eyes opened
    But if I try to do the outer work (confronting them) without having done the inner work (seeing them as needy, completely draining myself of superiority, draining myself of ill will, desiring to see them flourish)

    If I don’t do the inner work, the outer work will fail

    Jesus promises to give me the resources, the power, to look even at my enemies not as inferiors but as people who I want to see flourish

    This is the kind of community the Christ died to create, we need to be under His Lordship, t the degree we do that He can create this among us

    WHERE DO WE GET THE POWER FOR THIS:

    Revolution in our understanding of sin and evil

    We are wicked

    Redefine our understanding of sin to experience the power of Jesus Christ

    Our understanding of sin is breaking the rules

    Jesus shows us we better go deeper, sin is a self salvation strategy
    Trying to be our own savior instead of letting Him be savior

    Religious moral people behave so God will have to bless them, their self righteousness becomes a conduit for evil in the world

    The irreligious person living however they want to also has a self salvation strategy, it just looks different, they are also conduits for evil

    The history of really evil people in the world, some are atheists but some are religious, no one group has cornered the market on evil

    I need to see that my heart is really no different from anyone else’s…at all..I am a sinner…I am evil

    When I receive His mercy I see that though I am evil, I am a dearly loved child, thats the key!

  7. How might you humble yourself in coming, admitting, without excuses, any sin in yourself?

    I can first of all beg that God will supply the grace I lack, I can pray for the power to forgive her for her lack of understanding, and empty myself of the right to receive something from her. I do want to see her flourish.

    These lessons on Jacobs family have helped me to see how our mothers favoritism of me must have hurt her, she wanted moms approval so badly. I can acknowledge her pain.

    How might you speak truth in love?

    This is hard, I need to tell her the things that were painful, that have driven a wedge between us. I don’t like conflict, I don’t like to see others be made to feel uncomfortable, but discussing this will be uncomfortable, in my weakness I will look to Christ to show himself strong here.

    If he or she does not respond as you hope, how might you forgive in your heart through the power of the gospel?

    I can leave it all with Christ, the mess of it all. I don’t have to make it all perfect, I just need to follow what I believe He is calling me to right now. I can continue to pray for my heart and hers.

    This may be hard to understand, but that is because the gospel is both simple and very complex. We’re going to keep peering into it.
    How might you humble yourself in coming, admitting, without excuses, any sin in yourself?

    I have sinned over the years by my reaction to being sinned against by saying ‘just forget it, don’t worry about it”. I haven’t been brave enough to fight for real relationship, I was comfortable with just letting it go. I thought that I was being loving in that, but I was really being a coward.
    This is the worst part, the root of bitterness that defiles many, I have I fear said things to her adult daughter that have been fed by this root of bitterness.
    I have been angry with her and have at times fed that anger, but haven’t been honest enough to face her with my hurt.
    This is hard stuff, I have asked her to go to lunch with me next week.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to put this up, Chris. I so need it today!!

    2. Wow Chris, thanks for letting us see inside your feelings…it helps me see my own.

    3. Chris, what you’ve posted here is so helpful to us all. “I haven’t been brave enough to fight for real relationship, I was comfortable with just letting it go. I thought that I was being loving in that, but I was really being a coward.” This is so powerful.

    4. How did I miss This post, Chris? 🙂 I am reading now.

    5. Oh Chris, this is so good and isn’t He good? 🙂 You aren’t alone sister..

      Lord thank you for Chris, for her play dough heart that she is willing to take up her Cross and listen to you in seeking reconciliation with her sister-Thank you for your Grace, that you forsook mercy on the cross so that Chris could be smothered in your mercy and walk in your Grace-thank you that because of your passionate sacrificial pursuit of us, Chris can extend Your great Mercy to her sister. We humbly ask that you would go before Chris and soften her sister’s heart-remind Chris of the Cross as she meets with her sister next week, and empower her with your love and wisdom and we ask that her sister would be blown away by YOU in Chris. In Jesus name, amen.

    6. I just find this post about your long-term struggle with your sister extremely challenging and humbling, Chris. It is so powerful to see God working in you. Thank you for being so brave to post this here and be assured of my prayers as you meet your sister.

  8. B. Yet out of Joseph’s sorrow came beauty — he became a “fruitful bough.” The secret as to how that happened is revealed in Genesis 49:24, and again, in Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:19-20. It is a two-fold secret — see it you can find it.

    I’m taking great comfort from this right now-

    1) Joseph recognized his great need; he recognized that God used the hard stuff to humble him so that God could use Him mightily. It wasn’t just that God used the situation of bringing Joseph to Egypt, i.e., changed his location; but God also developed his character through the process of slavery and imprisonment.
    2) Joseph recognized that his strength and stability was God’s hand upon him.

    Q: Is Jesus showing up in Gen 49: 23-25 or am I imagining/wishing ??

  9. I was looking up some songs on YouTube to encourage me this morning, and I came across this song. So beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes. It’s by Travis Cottrell (definitely my favourite singer right now) called “Come Home”. I came Home, into my Abba’s loving arms, November 19th of last year while I was in the hospital. I wanted to share it here:

    http://youtu.be/pR06kf5D4r4

    1. That is such a beautiful song, Krista.

      1. Thanks Mom. I’m definitely going to write down the words in my journal so I can keep going back to it and read it.

    2. So beautiful, Krista

  10. 7. Now — I want you to apply this by showing how you might use these two truths of the gospel to confront someone you care about in truth and in love. You may have a real scenario or you may need to imagine one.

    A. How might you humble yourself in coming, admitting, without excuses, any sin in yourself?
    I had not spoken to my sisters in 6 years.
    About 2 years ago I sent Christmas gifts and I asked for forgiveness
    I have been experiencing a move of God in my life.
    I am calling out to Him again.
    My sisters and I are now speaking. One sister accepted the Lord and attends church in her hometown. She is going for counselling.
    My other sister I can speak to and discuss God but she still sees Jesus as a moral teacher not God that she needs to submit to and follow.
    My other sister is lost to the family but we do know that she lives with a woman that attends the Salvation Army. She needs the help b/c of the horrific abuse she suffered as a child.
    My brother and I are still not talking but he does talk to my sisters.

    B. How might you speak truth in love?
    I asked for forgiveness for my actions. I had to let things go and I still do. I want all my family saved. I am not afraid to talk of Jesus but I do need to temper my words with love

    C. If he or she does not respond as you hope, how might you forgive in your heart through the power of the gospel?
    Reading the word and crying out to God.
    Somtimes I write something down and date it b/c then I can go back to that and say outloud that I did forgive them. It seems to help.
    I must admit I struggle with my husband more. I did ask for his forgiveness. He says just don’t do it anymore. I do love him but I cannot trust him. We had a heart to heart the other day and we prayed together. I am going for counselling on the 4th of Feb. I also know that I need to attend a church. I am praying about that. Thank u again for all of your kind comments. I am praying for Krista b/c I have been there. Blessings upon all of u and this blog. I consider this my church family:)

    This may be hard to understand, but that is because the gospel is both simple and very complex. We’re going to keep peering into it.

    1. Mellany, I am so glad to hear that you and your husband had a heart to heart talk and prayed together! And your going for counceling…I’m so proud of you! I will keep praying for you and also for your sister’s and brother to all come together in peace.

    2. Glad to hear about your upcoming appt. for counseling – will pray that you’ve found a good counselor and that it will be helpful for you. Also for your search to find a church home – you’re taking some positive steps!

  11. B. Yet out of Joseph’s sorrow came beauty — he became a “fruitful bough.” The secret as to how that happened is revealed in Genesis 49:24, and again, in Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:19-20. It is a two-fold secret — see it you can find it. – Well I’m not sure if this is what is being asked but I see that in Genesis 49:24 God spared Joseph’s life. He was with him the whole time. God had him right where he wanted him no matter what the plan the brothers had in mind. And in Genesis 50:19-20 Joseph knew that what had happened to him was God’s plan, his life was spared by God so in turn Joseph could do what God had planned to save the lives of others.

  12. Just wanted to thank all of you for posting such great wisdom, I have kept up on reading and although I am wanting to participate – just on empty..absorbing so much. Trying to really dig deep inside is exhausting. School is overwhelming me.

    Krista- praying for you. I was so moved by your honest open post about the situation and I really was taken back to where I was over a decade ago. Hang in there girl.I love your courage!

    1. Becca, I wish I could give you hugs! I wish we could just sit and talk. Much love and prayers being sent your way! (((hugs))) <3

  13. Please pray for Krista. She has had another difficult conversation with Jeff. He is making her access to the boys very difficult. She is hurting and so am I. I am also very angry at his cruelty.

    1. Thank you, Mom. I think I am more angry at him right now then hurt. Go figure, DivorceCare last night was on anger, and how to deal with it in a positive way. With prayer, writing it down, exercise, and so forth.
      Going to go to bed very soon, spending time with God first, though. Truly hoping tomorrow is a good day. Plan to spend most of it with my 4 year old, Josh. He is at Jeff’s parents’ for a few days.

      1. Hugs, sweetie. Have a good day!

        1. Thanks. 🙂 Night Mom. <3

        2. Oh you two are so sweet…I love you both and so sad for your situation Krista. I’m lifting you up in prayer.

  14. Like Becca, I’ve continued to read daily….and will eventually get up to speed with posting, Lord willing.
    Krista, I enjoyed praying for you on Tuesday. Sounds like it was a HARD day. Praying for you on Tuesdays is a gift to me as well…..I sense that the Lord will use these prayers to weave me into the group in His way. As so many have commented, thanks for your honesty.

    1. Thank you, Jackie, I truly appreciate that.

    1. Praying for Annie and for you, Dee. Safe travels, safe baby and mother.

    2. Father, we lift up dear Annie and her baby to You–put Your steady hand upon them Lord, surround them with Your blessing and protection.

      For Idol Lies today–that it would be used to stir hearts and draw them to You–that You would prepare those now who You know will hear–that the program would glorify You Lord.

      And for Dee’s time with Beth today, Lord-that it would be sweet, that Beth would feel blessed by it, that Dee would have peace in going

      Thank You Lord~

      1. Amen to all of this!

        1. Amen

    3. God comfort Annie and David in this scary time-thank you that you have given Annie an attentive and sensitive husband to care for her-that is you! We ask that you would protect the baby and give Annie rest, and we ask for the program on Midday today-we are thankful for how you are moving though Idol Lies and are confident you will move in the hearts of those listening today-we ask that you would continue to move like a storm through this book for this is your will and we are thankful. Give Dee wisdom on where to go this morning-where you would have her go. In Jesus name, amen.

    4. Just saw these requests, Dee…I will pray for Annie and the baby, and for your time with Beth. I happened to catch Midday in the car today…I prayed during the program that the examples from today’s program would help some woman or women listening to get out of the trap they might be in – especially the trap of emotional adultery.

    5. Saying a prayer for Annie & baby! I hope all will be alright.

    6. Praying for all. You were awesome on Midday Connection. Know it blessed many

  15. 6. Read Genesis 49:22-24 (This was Jacob’s dying blessing to Joseph)

    A. How does Jacob describe Joseph’s life? Find everything you can.

    Joseph is a fruitful vine near a spring whose branches climb over a wall-I am thinking of that passage how God prunes and takes off dead fruit-Joseph had some dead fruit of pride that God pruned and it was painful-Joseph could have not clung to God during this but he did-Joseph clings to God’s love through his suffering and He is bearing good fruit because of it.

    He was unjustly attacked by bitter, envious men who shot arrows at him-was stripped of everything-his father’s lavishing favor on him, his comfort, security, approval. Joseph’s strong arms turned limber but He was steady because he was resting in God-He knew although he was alone he wasn’t really alone for God loved him and he clung to God-God carried Him and he allowed God to use this to cut at his stone of pride and mold Him.

    B. Yet out of Joseph’s sorrow came beauty — he became a “fruitful bough.” The secret as to how that happened is revealed in Genesis 49:24, and again, in Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:19-20. It is a two-fold secret — see it you can find it.

    His strong arms became limber-He had to lay down and humble himself before God-let God have him, yet he also was confident of God’s love-“Am I in the place of God-you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”

  16. Crying to the Lord this morning. This song ministered so soothingly to my troubled spirit this morning in the midst of the storm. “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiZ9xXoZ1Mk&feature=youtu.be

    We are having an outward wind and rain storm today here that matches our internal one. It reminds me that the Holy Spirit is also God’s wind.

    1. Diane–praying with you and for you all, right now–continuing to cling to hope for all of you–I am so sorry

    2. I’m glad the song helped, Mom. I hope your day got better. I know things aren’t easy, but remember, we have God. I know you worry about me, but God is with me, always. I keep hanging onto Him seeking His voice. And my precious boys are in His hands, too. I need to remind myself of that.

      Love you,
      Krista

    3. Diane, Thanks for sharing this with us and how it ministered to you in your storm-the worship and the words-oh my..ministered to me too. Thanks so much.

  17. 7. Now — I want you to apply this by showing how you might use these two truths of the gospel to confront someone you care about in truth and in love. You may have a real scenario or you may need to imagine one.

    I have to say this first, I think before God had me experience these two truths of the Gospel through Idol Lies I wouldn’t have been much help to anyone else-I experienced His Mercy and Truth meeting in the middle when I came to know Him, and while I was growing in knowledge of scripture and applying His Word to my life I hadn’t grown in my confidence of His love because I remembered the Gospel as the power to save from the penalty of sin and didn’t really peer into it layer by layer deeply. As a result, I grew distant in my confidence of His love. Confidence, or surety, is much more than just ‘knowing’ he loves me!

    Scenario: A woman I know who is controlled by a few idols-bitterness has set in over the years and when anyone steps on her she can become frustrated easily, and when I don’t ‘get’ something she is saying or if I disagree with something she might say politically because this bitterness is like a cancer she gets frustrated with me-sometimes can get angry.

    I think she is afraid to lay down before God and suffer the pain of letting go-yet I can relate to that scary place. She has been through so much pain in her adult life-tattered and abused by sin and the world. Yet I say this with a great conviction because I too was there-was blind to my idols and am sure am still blind to layers of my heart He has yet to reveal-so when i see her I don’t see her as less but as someone loved and adored by God-someone who God wants. I love her so and I see this eating her alive and it breaks my heart for I know what it is like to be in the grasp of an idol-and I know this breaks God’s heart.

    A. How might you humble yourself in coming, admitting, without excuses, any sin in yourself?

    God has been slowly opening doors. I have a treasure trove daily of sin we talk just about every day and I have admitted sin in my life to her.

    B. How might you speak truth in love?

    With her, it is unloving to be direct as her personality isn’t like that-she gets defensive-so to love her is to really “hear her”-discern what is going on-knowing where she is at and being sensitive to that.

    I can easily find something I have struggled with that is similar to hers because I am also a ragamuffin-so I can say, “I was so angry yesterday when this or that happened, and I ended up taking it out on my husband-and I realized I broke God’s heart and I let this incident or person have me instead of God-i am laying down before this person instead of laying down before God! Creator, almighty God-the Holy One who made the Universe yet humbled himself and became man to suffer and die for me-and I am angry over this willing to let it grieve the One who died for me?”

    When I have approached her like that-she responds usually always with-“I am like that too and I know I have grieved God.” Then I have said, “But He loves you-there is Grace. He hasn’t abandoned you and He wants to change you just like He wants to change me.”

    I may not say it exactly like this but it is similar to what I would say and have said to her.

    C. If he or she does not respond as you hope, how might you forgive in your heart through the power of the gospel?

    Well, she does call me back asking for forgiveness when she snaps at me. She doesn’t have one cruel bone in her body-it is more like she just gets less patient and frustrated more than in the past. She has said she wants to come to my study when I facilitate Idol Lies in my home. She hasn’t really laid this down before God yet and hasn’t responded as I would hope when God opens her eyes, but I can forgive easily when I look at the cross-she is not perfect, He is- yet He took on my sin and my sin is just as ugly as hers! When I speak this truth to my soul it helps eradicate the lie that because she has treated me this way I need to pull back from her for God didn’t pull back from me.

    Sorry this is so long-I don’t have time to edit it. I had a bad attack of acid reflux last night and woke up late again this morning..I sense satan waking me up at night so that I have to sleep in-I don’t like sleeping in for I miss deeper times with Him in the mornings!

    1. This is all really good, Rebecca – that will be great if this lady comes to your Bible study and you can walk through this together!

  18. Shout out to Susan….how are you doing?

    1. Hi Chris,
      I’m doing okay! I’m just behind this week…I am now in a Bible study at my church on Tuesday mornings…we are using a book by pastor Pete Wilson called Empty Promises, and it is about idolatry – I need to learn and re-learn – it’s a never-ending battle!
      I ran out of gas after I took my daughter to school Tues. am – thankfully, a couple of kind parents helped me and I was on my way in no time – wasn’t even late to my study!
      I’ve been kind of feeling depressed off and on…last night watched a movie with my daughter called The Tale of Despereaux, and after the movie ended, and she went upstairs, I started to cry really hard – still not sure what came over me? I think part of it is I miss my sons.
      I read above about Cosmo – I feel so bad for him, but glad you’re loving on him and making him feel secure and loved. I’m sure it’s really hard for you and Bill, though.

        1. Yes Father put your arms around Susan and also Chris in this difficult time. Susan I understand about you missing your boys and Chris, I’m so sorry for you and Bill and little Cosmo.

          And please be with Anne and David and the baby Oh how I lift you all up in prayer.

      1. Oh Susan, I read this the other day and was quickened to pray as God brought you to mind. You are truly a sweet sister and so full of Him and His Grace-I hate to see you sad in any way-perhaps you may be grieving some things? I think a lot of us can relate. 🙂

        Lord I agree with Dee-come to Susan and be her husband, her friend, her comfort.

  19. Rough, But Friendly

    Spurgeon shows how the way Joseph dealt with his brothers is the way of Christ. He is rough with us at first, to bring us to our senses, but then shows great mercy. You can either listen or read:

    Listen for 99 cents: Link or read it: Link

    SHARE YOUR INSIGHTS FROM YOUR READING OR LISTENING TO THE SPURGEON SERMON YOU CHOSE

    First of all, all I could say was WoW!
    What a writer and it is written in 1913
    God spoke to me b/c of all my life circumstances and all of the sin in my life that I caused or was caused by others. I printed off the sermon and I will keep it.
    I know that I have been tested and failed and tested and passed. I am not being arrogant or acting like a child here but the Lord is teaching me that yes I do love Him but I must have fruit.
    I can see so many answers to my prayers and others who have prayed for me but I need to make a decision that Jesus is Lord of my Life. That I need to go to him for everything.
    I agree with spurgeon when he states that but a trial and a high degree of spiritual joy are usually wedded together so that when u get one —u may look out the window for the other.
    Just to know truth in my most inward parts today is good.
    In this world u shall have trials and tribulations but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.
    I know that I am saved but I need to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I need to repent. Turn the other way and follow Jesus.
    I am asking God to change me not change everyone else which is what I used to do.
    I am learning that I can trust Jesus and that He does not withdraw His love from me if I mess up.
    Sometimes my heart just soars with His love and other times I just want to hide
    I have felt God’s power in my life and His strength but now I just crave His love.
    I don’t need to pretend anymore.
    I can say I just don’t understand or I can say I just can’t do this or I do want to do this but I need your help.
    I can ask for help.
    That is so freeing.
    When u grow up in an abusive home like I did u were never taught, u were never encouraged, I used to pretend I understood when I did not. I used to have to submit when I did not want to. And remember this was submitting to abuse.
    My concept of the word submit was pretty warped but my love for Christ was so immense.
    I wanted to please Him so I would pretend.
    Now I do not need to
    I can trust Him with my life
    I can submit to Him with all my life, my children’s lives, my mistakes, my sorrows, my fears, my idols, esp. control, anger, bitterness, resentment, doubt , despair, depression
    I always thought I had to be good.
    But God wants an authentic relationship.
    To boast in the Lord not myself.
    Boast in what He has done.
    I want to put a smile on God’s face and not always be thinking of me.

    1. Wow, Mellany. It is so great to see God speaking to your heart. Thanks for sharing your notes.

      “My concept of the word submit was pretty warped but my love for Christ was so immense.
      I wanted to please Him so I would pretend.
      Now I do not need to
      I can trust Him with my life.”

  20. Thank u

    I feel like I am beginning a new journey with Jesus.

    blessings
    Mellany

    1. Praying for you Mellany and you do put a smile on God’s face because he loves you so much!

  21. Well, what started as a search for something to encourage Laura-dancer…I found this and thought of Diane, Krista, Dawn, Chris, Susan, myself…and then really all of us. I know it’s long, but thought it worth posting–feel free to skip, but hope it encourages some:
    A Prayer for Affirming Hope in God’s Unfailing Love-Scotty Smith-gospel coalition
    “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.” Ps. 33:16-18

    Dear Jesus, though it’s not fun, it is a good thing to come to the end of ourselves—to be in situations where all of our resources, all of our strength, all of our wisdom are simply not enough. Indeed, it is a gospel thing to feel the pain of realizing that whatever worked in the past is not working in the present moment; to feel the confusion of not knowing what to do next; to feel the helplessness of being out of control.
    For only in those times do we fully abandon ourselves to the God who alone can part Red Seas; overthrow whole Midianite armies with three hundred gun-less soldiers; take down Goliaths with a pebble; feed multitudes with a few fish and pieces of bread; raise a dead man for the salvation of his people and the transformation of the cosmos.
    As much as we’d like to be, we’re simply not enough on our own. Being our own savior is doomed to failure, Jesus, so we abandon ourselves to you today. For you are that dead man who now lives; the King who now reigns; the Bridegroom who is returning.
    Jesus, you are the One who is redeeming his bride and making all things new. It is your unfailing love that we can, and must, hope in. There is no other supply sufficient to the need. There is no other strength sufficient for the task. There is no other balm sufficient for the pain. There is no other rest sufficient for the exhaustion. There is no hope sufficient for the crisis.
    We bring our broken hearts to you. We bring our struggling marriages to you. We bring our divided churches to you. We bring our conflicted relationships to you. We bring our wayward children to you. We bring our unbelieving friends to you. We bring the needs of our community to you.
    We bring our out-of-job, out-of-time, out-of-knowing-what-to-do selves to you. We bring it all to you, Jesus. We will trust in you and your unfailing love. You have never failed us, never. Astonish us by bringing much glory to yourself. So very Amen we pray, in your merciful and mighty name.

    1. “As much as we’d like to be, we’re simply not enough on our own. Being our own savior is doomed to failure, Jesus, so we abandon ourselves to you today. … We bring it all to you, Jesus. We will trust in you and your unfailing love. You have never failed us, never. Astonish us by bringing much glory to yourself. So very Amen we pray, in your merciful and mighty name.”

      Amen. Astonish us by bringing much glory to yourself, Lord Jesus.

    2. OK, Elizabeth….this is the first time I popped on here today, and this is the first thing I see (I always start at the bottom and go up)….thank you for posting this awesome prayer – it does speak to each one of us here!

    3. Thank you, so much, for this Elizabeth!

    4. Elizabeth, this prayer is beautiful and fit’s us all so well…I pray it with you for all of us, thank you for it.

  22. Hi Ladies 🙂 How is everyone doing 🙂

    1. Hi Meg! Hope your doing great!

    2. Hi Meg! Hope you are doing well. 🙂

      1. Hi Rebecca and Joyce

        Yes I am doing well… I just got diagnosed with Aspbergers back in August.. but i am making really good progress i think with interacting with people etc.. I just went Gluten Free casue i heard that Gluten can have effects with Aspbergers. I have one year bible so i am reading that and am enjoying it and my jobs are going really well praise God!!

        Rebecca- How are your boys?

        Joyce- How is Kendra

  23. This is a non study question. Is there anyway to mark where you stop reading. I read when I can but get behind then I spend a lot of time figuring out where I left off. I tried the e-mail notifications but that loads up my e-mail. Any suggestions??
    Also a big thank you to all. It is so wonderful to be part of this loving accepting group.

      1. Sorry, I just do a whole lot of scrolling down the page. When I scroll, I see others’ responses to the original post 🙂 But I’ve been doing that on my phone lately, and I’m am not good at typing much on that. I guess I could speak into it — and you’d see some pretty wild responses!

    1. As far as picking up where you stopped reading last–the best I can think is to control F the DATE and or TIME–like if you last read on Wednesday, you could search for “January 31…”; or search by time. The date/time stamp at the top right corner of each comment will actually come up in your search…that way you can see all new posts, including “replies” that were added to something you read earlier–since replies are “squeezed in”–if that makes any sense.

  24. 3. How do you see a lack of wisdom in Joseph in Genesis 37:5-11?

    Starting in verse 2, I see Joseph working with his brothers, taking care of the sheep, and “Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.” Tattling on his brothers would hardly have encouraged brotherly love toward him. Verse 4 says that after Joseph received his special tunic, and his brothers saw that he was the favorite son, “they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.”

    So Joseph was well aware of their feelings toward him. It was unwise of him to add fuel to the fire by telling them of his first dream. Their reaction: “They hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” So when Joseph has yet another dream….he is really foolish for telling them again. Makes me wonder if Joseph was not enjoying himself, aggravating his brothers.

    4. How did the brothers respond in Genesis 37:18-20?

    The brothers see Joseph coming to them in the distance, and their hatred is stirred immediately. Those dreams are obviously still eating at them, for they say, “Here comes this dreamer! Let us kill him…then let us see what will become of his dreams!”

    5. Read Genesis 37:25-36.

    A. What callousness do you see in verse 25?

    After throwing Joseph into a pit, the brothers sit down to eat a meal. I’m sure all the while, Joseph was crying and begging them to let him out. His distress and what they were doing to their own brother didn’t affect their appetites. I find it intriguing that this verse mentions the spices being carried by the camels, one of them being myrrh. Isn’t myrrh one of those used for burial? There’s going to be a “death” here.

    B. What callousness do you see in Judah in verse 26?

    That he can talk so harshly, without any emotion, about their plans for Joseph – the decision is between killing him and covering up his blood, but what profit is that, he asks. Why not get rid of Joseph and have some silver in their pockets? There is great irony and sarcasm in verse 27, when Judah says “Let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” How “brotherly” to condescend to sell Joseph into slavery.

    C. What callousness do you see in the way they confront Jacob?

    They’ve hated and been jealous of Joseph, and finally gotten their revenge on him…the brothers had to have harbored bitterness against their father, too, for having loved Joseph more than them, and being so obvious about it, too. How awful and shocking to present their father with Joseph’s bloodied tunic, and that phrase, “Haker na”? Do you recognize this…is this “your son’s tunic?” Their eyes are blind to their own sin – they don’t recognize their wrongdoing. Now they’re “sticking it” to their father by asking him to identify Joseph’s tunic, and he does, and they let him imagine the worst, that Joseph was torn to pieces by a wild animal.

  25. 2). Rough, But Friendly

    This sermon couldn’t have come at a better time. It is a kindness on God’s part that He would deal roughly with me that He may compel me to my knees-to cry out to Him in prayer. Yet while He deals roughly with me He gives me provision so that I may be able to bear His roughness and endure difficulties to come.

    A few of these provisions have resonated with me! I also thought of how Rachael in her testimony in Idol Lies says that trials are her friends for out of them He takes us closer in and higher up with Him.

    He has given me stones of remembrance of how He has come to me and showered me with His mercy, Grace and Love in the middle of suffering-and now with this ongoing trial I recall His faithfulness and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He will finish the work he has started in me and will come to me. He also gave me a wonderful sense of His love-this is how God sustains me.

    God also gave me a joyous view of the covenant of Grace-I hadn’t fully understood the deeper doctrines of Grace until I went through these trials, and came here to Dee’s blog to delve deeper into the Word. Yet the beauty of this is that I know I have only brushed the surface there are deeper layers I haven’t discovered yet.

    I think the thing that is the core of all these provisions is the Gospel-what I am learning lately from Dee and Keller- and as Dee said it is complex yet simple-is to focus on the Cross-to peer deeper into the Gospel. As Spurgeon said in this sermon:

    The saints of God have also had this provision by the way. In their sufferings they have enjoyed a sight of the greater sufferings of Christ: (this is peering into the Gospel)

    “Why should I complain of want or distress,
    Temptation or pain? He told me no less.
    The heirs of salvation, I know from His Word,
    Through much tribulation must follow their Lord.
    How bitter that cup, no heart can conceive,
    Which He drank quite up that sinners might live!
    His way was much rougher and darker than mine—
    Did Christ my Lord suffer, and shall I repine?”

    “A sight of the steps of the Crucified One has often checked the tears which have been flowing, while the enraptured child of God would stand and sing in holy wonder—”

    “Christ leads me through no darker rooms
    Than He went through before—
    He that into this Kingdom comes
    Must enter by this door.”

  26. Dee–update on Annie?

  27. Ladies…I need prayer. On top of everything going on with Jeff, who is still refusing me equal access to our boys, I’m going to a women’s retreat this weekend. A good thing, right? I am looking forward to it…but I’m also a nervous wreck. 🙁 You see, a woman is going to be there as well who I used to be very close with. Our friendship ended, very bitterly, mid November, because of wrong-doing on my part, yes, but also majorly based on Satan’s lies. We go to the same church, have the majority of the same friends, and she ADORES my boys, yet still will not speak to me! It absolutely breaks my heart. 🙁 She was the dearest friend I’ve ever had, truly an answer to prayer, but Satan’s ugly lies, which we both believed, broke us apart. She is a Christian, and truly has a beautiful heart, so sweet and caring, but with the situation that happened between us I believe it truly brought up some deep things from her past. I am willing to give her the space she needs, but yet it still very much hurts. She was (still is) very dear to my heart. I still pray daily for her & her family, pray for blessings on them, and for healing for us.
    Anyway, we are both going to be at this women’s retreat this weekend. I know we both need this time away of refreshment and healing.
    Her name is Sherry. Please pray for wisdom and God’s peace for this weekend!
    Thank you.

    Krista

    1. Oh Krista–I have been praying especially for you today–and so thankful to have this so I can pray even more through the weekend. Wow–sounds very heavy, but I’m thankful you are going–that is brave. I’m so sorry for this terribly painful relationship, but I hear such kindness in your heart towards her–says so much about you and your walk with the Lord. I will pray for protection over your time–and for healing that only the Lord can bring. Hold unswervingly to hope–God is the One of all power–and He longs to heal your wounds, completely.

      1. Krista, I’m praying for your week-end to be great and maybe you and Sherry will come together again, through Christ.

    2. I will pray also.
      I know when Satan lies and the damages it can cause.
      But God is bigger and He is able to heal and redeem relationships.
      Father God hold Krista and her friend in your mighty arms of healing.
      At this retreat I pray that the Holy Spirit will pour in the healing balm of Gilead.
      That it will saturate and fill every hurting and broken heart and all bondages will be broken.
      I will pray all w/e
      Blessings
      In Christ
      Mellany

    3. Thank you so much Elizabeth & Mellany. That brought hope and peace to my heart. God bless you both! I leave in just over an hour.

    4. I will be praying too, I agree that your heart seems so admirably soft towards this friend.
      ‘A gentle answer turns away wrath’, may God provide healing and reconciliation here.

    5. Praying, too, Krista.

      1. Praying for Anne and baby, Dee, any news?

    6. Thank you, all for praying. You know, it’s strange (though of course not to God), though we didn’t speak I could truly feel the walls coming down between us, especially yesterday. We just were ourselves. She seemed fine around me, for the most part, even kind of smiled at me a couple times, and held the door open for me as I happened to be coming and she was going out of a room at one time. But a big thing that happened was last night one time when her daughter & I happened to be together briefly when her mom wasn’t there we talked a bit. Not about her mother, about something else that was going on, but it meant a lot to me. She was very sweet, and she knew what happened between her mother & I, but she seemed fine with me and was very kind. So that definitely gives me hope that Sherry’s daughter talked to me. Sherry & Chastity (her daughter) are VERY close. Sherry had her when she was 17. Chas is actually my age and she has 4 young children, similar ages to my boys. I always would say to Sherry she does NOT look older enough to be a grandmother! 😛 She’s in her mid 40s, but doesn’t look it. MAYBE late 30s…maybe. She became a grandmother when she was 39 and has 5 grandkids now! Crazy! I remember her bringing her oldest granddaughter to church when she was just DAYS old and seriously Sherry looked like she was her mom, not grandmother! 🙂
      Anyway, I got side-tracked. Really, it was good. It was odd, we didn’t speak, I truly wanted to respect that, but we were okay. I truly have hope, and I keep taking her to God. And I did find out from someone else Sherry really has been praying about the situation that happened between us and she *will* come to me when she feels healed. I respect that. So, I just ask that you keep praying for Sherry, and for the healing she needs in Christ. Not for my sake, that would just be a bonus, because I truly want her to feel healed and so loved by God. I want her to have freedom and feel peace that can only come from God!
      Thank you again, for your prayers. I did have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

    1. So excited to hear how everything went with Annie, Beth, and Midday! I am going to listen to the program today-can’t wait!

      I LOVED what you wrote about Julie and Beth on your author Facebook page-brought me to tears. I was in the van picking up the boys when I read it! 🙂

  28. 6. Read Genesis 49:22-24 (This was Jacob’s dying blessing to Joseph)

    A. How does Jacob describe Joseph’s life? Find everything you can.

    He describes Joseph as a fruitful bough by a spring or a well, with branches that run over a wall. The archers (his brothers) attacked him, shot at him and harrassed him, yet Joseph remained firm, and his arms were strengthened by God.

    As a sidenote, something I noticed before when reading the story of Joseph, is how in Genesis 37:2, Joseph (at age 17) is described as “still a youth”…pasturing the flock with his brothers and bringing bad reports about them to his father.
    In Genesis 39:2, after being sold to Potiphar in Egypt, it says “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man.”
    His age didn’t change, but his character surely did. It was through his sufferings that he became a man, and I think of how he was in a foreign land, away from his culture, family, friends; there was no one there who knew his God, yet Joseph held tightly to God and his faith increased. With the reference to his being a fruitful bough, he was like a branch that was transplanted to a different land with a different climate, yet he flourished.

    B. Yet out of Joseph’s sorrow came beauty – he became a “fruitful bough”. The secret as to how that happened is revealed in Genesis 49:24, and again, in Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:19-20. It is a two-fold secret – see if you can find it.

    In 49:24, it reveals that the only way that Joseph was able to survive what his brothers did to him and to not only survive, but thrive, in Egypt, was because of God. I see a shadowy figure in this verse, that Joseph was strengthened by “the Mighty One of Jacob…the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel”.
    In 50:19-20, Joseph’s heart of forgiveness and humility is revealed – he holds no ill-will towards his brothers, because it has been revealed to Joseph that it was God who placed him in Egypt and He even used the brothers’ evil intentions to do it…and Joseph understands that he was put there in order to preserve their lives.

    Another rabbitt trail…but I’ve always wondered about how when Joseph was made second only to Pharaoh, and he had the freedom to go throughout the land, that he CHOSE to stay in Egypt…he could’ve slipped away and returned to his home. I wonder, since God gifted him with the ability to interpret dreams, if God didn’t reveal other things to him…that he needed to stay, that the plan was to bring Israel to Egypt.

  29. My takeaway..

    This is hard to nail down because it is ongoing really..I feel so brand new-like a 6 year old-well maybe a 2 year old when it comes to peering deeper into the Gospel and applying it to my daily circumstances-yet I believe this is ‘key’ to truly being set free- so I need fellowship with sisters who long to peer deeper into the Gospel-hence this blog! I am looking forward to seeing how God moves among us-God has opened my eyes this week to how NOT longsuffering I can be with my husband-how I can easily not forgive when he is impatient with me. How I forget the cross in those moments-but I know, I KNOW due to remembering how He came to me when I was here three years ago-He is coming to me right now-just exposing it is Him coming to me-and Dee having us peer deeper into the Gospel.

    Lord, you are good-you are faithful and I am a wreck! Help me, help us as we peer deeper into the Gospel-as we gaze and gaze like the Angels do-yet even deeper. Help us to apply the Gospel to our suffering, to our injustice and sear the Gospel deeper into our hearts. Forgive me for forgetting and thank you-thank you that you suffered and went without comfort in your hell so that when I suffer I wont have to experience complete and utter hopelessness-loneliness. You are my hope forever-sealed-and the climax in the future oh my..

  30. 7. This is a lot to think about. I can think of a couple of things I need to confront with another person, but the details are too lengthy and private to post here. But I like this model…to begin first by being real about myself and my own sin…and it is really, really hard to just SAY my sin, or my own part of the blame without making excuses, but that’s what needs to be done – no excuses. Speaking truth in LOVE is a challenge, too – it needs lots of prayer to see the other person through the eyes of God. And to examine my own heart to make sure I’m not trying in any way to cause pain. If the response is not favorable, I could quickly feel like a clod but I need the gospel to remind me that God loves me, and that the gospel is for the other person, too. We are BOTH so bad that Jesus had to die for us, yet BOTH so loved that He was willing to.

    1. OH SUSAN–I am covering you with prayer

    2. So good, Susan. Praying for you as you work through this hard situation.

  31. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY AND WHY?

    Matthew 5
    Love for Enemies
    “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    To love and pray for my enemies, (those who have hurt me) I need to engage in an inner disciple by which I am drained of any ill will towards that person. To pray asking to see them as someone who is just in much in need as I am.
 Come (or perhaps really, allow myself to be led) to a place where I want their flourishing rather than their pain
    In my actions I must do good. If someone has truly wronged me, once I have been drained of ill will, I am to confront them, help them see.

    Turn the other cheek, does not mean I offer myself up for further abuse.
I must try to talk to, to confront them without the smallest desire to hurt, belittle, or humiliate them
    Jesus promises to give me the resources, the power, to look even at my enemies not as inferiors but as people who I want to see flourish

    When I receive His mercy I see that though I am evil, I am a dearly loved child, thats the key!

    Matthew 7:11
    New International Version (NIV)
    “11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

    God is in control, even in the worst things that happen He is active and working out His purposes.
    Even when brothers betray one another, even when things seem incredibly dark, He can be trusted.
    
I am his child, in spite of my imperfections, my self centeredness, He has set His affections on me and paid a great price to redeem me (this makes me feel undone with gratitude)

    He has promised to provide what I need as I gratefully trust Him and ask. I don’t want to think too small, to pray too small, to leave my relationship with Christ, my dependency on Him in a box, only taking it out during certain times when I want or need it.

    I am meeting with my sister on Monday, I am asking God to be up to something here, to be at work in me and her in a way that matters for eternity.
    I feel a bit excited, I have no power to change myself or my sister, but I have a God who promises to be at work and to make me more like Christ as I submit, so though I am sure I am doing it imperfectly, I want this change, I desire to be submitted and obedient. To have real relationships even if that will be costly.

    1. God bless you, Chris, as you meet with your sister. And thank you for letting God uses you to challenge many of us here who have estranged relationships that need God’s work to happen in them as well.

    2. Praying Chris–I can only imagine how hard this is–your confidence in Him is inspiring

  32. My take-away this week: on Sunday I always promise myself that I will get absolutely all the “assignments” done and every week life keeps me from reaching that goal and then I feel a little guilt about it. This week was no different except I felt God’s pleasure in what I did spend time doing, especially truly looking at my bitter roots and the need to speak the truth in love. It also gave me an opening to talk to my husband about the bitterness and anger we struggle with in relating to our daughter and ex-son-in-law and the parents to three of our grandchildren. Like so many, 4 yrs after the divorce they still spend so much time putting the kids in the middle. We struggle letting the damage being done to the kids color our attitudes toward them. I am convicted at my bitterness at this situation and using this info from this blog was able to have a good discussion with my husband about the bitterness he has as well. How awesome is My Lord to lead me to this study with Dee’s gift of teaching and all of you who share your hearts and lives. I start my day with thankfulness.

    1. We are so glad to have you here learning with us. It is great to see God touching your life.

  33. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY AND WHY?

    I have felt a whole lot like what Spurgeon describes as “That stone on the lapidary’s (gem cutter’s) wheel has been cut and cut and cut again.” It seems that the archers’ arrows keep coming and coming and coming until I am spinning, unable to deal with anything. I stand open-mouthed, astonished that God could be so “rough.”

    I am beyond my capacity to cope and certainly beyond my capability to control or fix any of it. This trial cannot be because of my sin because I am just suffering the fallout of others’ actions and circumstances. I thought I had fully accepted that I had come to the “end of myself,” but the arrows keep falling. I am hardly sleeping. The parade of anxious thoughts and possible solutions keep my mind whirling late at night and early each morning despite every effort to turn them off.

    As I listened to Spurgeon’s sermon “Rough but Friendly”, he mentions that when God causes the rough trials to come he often sends provisions to help you bear it. He describes different provisions:
    Different according to different need –
    • Strong sense of divine love, or
    • a joyous view of the covenant of grace, to understand the deep doctrines of the Word;
    • delightful outlook to the end of their sorrows (foretaste of heaven);
    • recollection of past experiences (faithfulness of God in the past)

    I cried, “Where is my provision, Lord? Help me, lest I perish!”

    And the Lord has gently laid His hand on me yet again and showed me that I am still striving to control and fix, that I had not been resting in His promises, that I had lost sight that He is in control and I could trust Him. He is bringing me through His Word, (thanks to Dee, Keller and my fellow learners on this blog) what Spurgeon calls “a joyous view of the covenant of grace”. But I must let go of my stubborn pride to want things my way. It is not easy as a friend described it “to fly blind”, yet in this situation, I must, trusting that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”

    The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27)

    Keep me on my knees at your feet, dear Lord. My urge to fix is a sin that keeps me from trusting You and letting You do Your work. Keep me crawling on my knees with my eyes on You, for I see that I am too arrogant to walk yet.

    I sense this recommitment is to be a daily thing and that I will fail again and again. Yet, hopefully, I am learning to trust sooner and believing God more deeply.

    “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

    1. So good Diane. Praying this for you “my soul finds rest in God alone” psalm 62:1

  34. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY AND WHY?
    There is so much to be learned from the Spurgeon sermon. Most importantly, I need to quit fighting back and let God handle it. Not to be walked over, but to rest.
    “Mark well his quietness. His bow “abideth.” It is not rattling, it is not always moving, but it abides, it is quite still; he takes no notice of the attack. The archers sorely grieved Joseph, but his bow was not turned against them, it abode in strength. He turned not his bow on them. He rested while they raged.”

    I’ve also been thinking about: Joseph was such a great man and a foreshadowing of the Christ to come, yet he was not chosen to be a forefather of Jesus rather Judah was and he wasn’t even the firstborn of Jacob. The other great people in the bible are in Christ’s lineage. Why not Joseph? He always gave the glory to God. In Judah’s story there is no mention of God, not even when he was admitting that he had done wrong by Tamar.

  35. Saturday
    WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY AND WHY?
    Oh, I’m really behind. I have enjoyed the sermons, but have not been able to take notes. Several quotes stood out to me, a few I’ve posted above—but this one sums up a lot of what I gleaned: “When it shall be so, when you are forever with the Lord, if you could be ashamed, you would be ashamed and confounded to think that you ever murmured, or ever entertained a thought of complaint against the kind and gracious God who ordered all things for the best for you to promote your profit and His Glory!”

    I have a few different relationships that have caused me much pain. One friendship that ended with a lot of false statements made to me—accusations, fed from gossip of an admittedly jealous mutual friend. It wouldn’t be right for me to hash out any of that here. But we have tried to make amends and it was me harshly—yet I do feel peace. I have also been deeply hurt by 2 of my sisters. I try to not think about—but Chris’ humble story of her sister brought it to the surface again. A few months back I tried to speak truth about my pain and was met with a lot of excuses, defense, followed a few weeks later by a candy-coated glossed-over “reaching out” from one sister. Hard to respond to that. Yesterday we found out my daughter has been lying to us again for a long time about an issue we have taken great lengths to work with her on–this time from her teacher. I can’t explain that here at all—but it was pretty bad.

    All that to say—I am not without hope. This week’s lesson reminded me of the importance of speaking the truth to my soul. The first truth being to recognize my own desperate, sinful, dependent heart. The only good that comes from my life is what Christ has done in me and through me. I do honestly feel more and more aware of my own sin everyday. More aware of how easy it is for me to defend myself, to make excuses, to complain or compare. When I see it in myself, I want every time—to sit with it enough that I say ‘but He LOVES me’. It is so hard to feel loveable when I am face to face with my sin—but He does. I am His Gomer, He can’t not love me—because it is not dependent on me, but Christ. Amazing that I can be so quick to blame, when Jesus took all the blame, willingly. It really does “level the playing field” when I acknowledge my own desperate need of grace.

    “God cares most about developing our character.” Parenting our own children, we have had to take away some privileges, enforce discipline, or allow the natural consequence of their bad choice—but always, our goal is not behavior modification, but to shape to shape their character to honor Christ, to reflect Him. The pain in my own life—some the direct result of poor choices, some the result of sin in others—but always He will use it to refine me. Always He is with me.

  36. I am so very behind this week… I have been doing the study but have not been able to keep up…I will try to get to the sermons yet today, but I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog. I prayed for Krista, Jeff, and their boys on Thursday and will continue to do so.

    Last Saturday our youngest daughter (20, unmarried) told us she is having a baby…she knew for sure in December but was scared to tell. She hadn’t yet been to a doctor when she told us; I gave her the phone number of a woman OB/GYN that is very nice, we confirmed insurance coverage, etc. and she had her appointment midweek. Our daughter moved out with a girlfriend early last fall; she has a lease on her apartment until next September. She is trying to decide whether to try to sublet her portion of the apartment, or not… My husband and I have been loving, helpful, supportive but not enabling or overbearing, if that makes any sense. This isn’t what we envisioned for her and we are disappointed, but thankful that she didn’t terminate the pregnancy which is her legal option in this country. The Lord knows that we all have made plenty of decisions we wish we could have back…”there but for the grace of God go I”… The baby is due very early April…

    We found out that little Jay will need to undergo a bone marrow transplant in the next 4-6 weeks. Doctors believe this most likely to be the only option at this point.

    1. oh Nanci, will be praying for your daughter and for Jay and his family. As I read about your daughter I was struck by your example of unconditional love “The Lord knows that we all have made plenty of decisions we wish we could have back”. She is so blessed to have you.

    2. Thank you, both…

      I will try to be a more active participant in the coming week and re-read this week’s blog to get updated on what I might have missed.

  37. Morgan, from Perrysburg Ohio would like to join 🙂

    1. Hi Morgan! We’d LOVE to have you join us. This is an old blog post, though. Here’s the link to this week’s: http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/2013/02/older-brother-ishness-melting-hearts-moving-toward-easter/