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PREPARING FOR LENT! (WE BEGIN NEXT WEEK!)

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

A HUNGER GROWS

FOR COLOR,

FOR LIFE,

FOR THE LIVING GOD

WINTER

There’s a paragraph from Willa Cather’s “My Antonia” that Steve and I came to love, especially living in Nebraska:

…the painted glass windows shone out at us as we came along the frozen street. In the winter bleakness a hunger for colour came over the people, like the Laplanders craving for fat and sugar… we used to linger on the sidewalk outside the church windows when the lamps were lighted early for choir practice or prayer meeting, shivering or talking until our feets were lumps of ice. The crude reds and greens and blues of that coloured glass held us there.

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I can hardly wait to begin Lent — a time on this blog where God has met us in the bleak midwinter. I am as eager as a runner at the starting line to begin, for I have a hunger for Him like the hunger for spring on these cold, cold days. I want you to prepare your heart this week, asking Him, if you do not have it, for that hunger — and for the wisdom to know if you should join us. I am so excited about what we are going to do, for I do believe the Lord has come to me and quickened me. Let me tell you and then you can pray about joining us. I’ll warn you now — there will be a cost. In order to have the time to do the study, you may need to give something else up. Some weeks (as I am this week) I ask you to listen to a sermon mp-3 that costs 2.50. To afford it, you may need to give something else up. So it is good to count the cost before you decide to commit.

I have been meeting with a small group of women in Kansas City, and we have been talking about how the gospel is the solution to every problem. Tim Keller says, “If you think you understand the gospel, you probably don’t. If you think you are just starting to get it, you might be.”As one of the women in my small group said, “This is like a second birth.” It is. Understanding this is akin to understanding idolatry — and will lead to enormous spiritual growth. Understanding how the gospel applies to everyday life will change the way you mother, the way you respond to hurt, the way you confront, and the way you face every problem. I will repeat some of this next week, but without apology, for as Luther said, “We need to drum this into our heads until we get it.” And then we need to keep doing it, for ice tends to reform on our hearts.

One element of the gospel is that it should humble us, for Christ’s necessary death shows us how bad we are. Another element of the gospel shows us how loved we are, for He did die for us. Let me give you an everyday example of how this can give us the power to have better relationships with others.

As I have shared in Idol Lies and with you, one of my heart idols is control, and the bad fruit that comes from that is side-ways comments — guilt trips — manipulation. I am so much better but this idol regenerates. This Christmas was going to be “my” Christmas in that it was the year all the children came to me instead of their in-laws. And honestly, it was so sweet to have them. The day after Christmas we had a photography morning as we had the four little girls who were born all in the summer of 2010 together.

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Katherine (Beth and Seth’s) Miabelle (Anne and David’s) Tavie (Julie and John’s) and Sadie (Sally and Phil’s)

My daughter Sally’s in-laws live right in Kansas City, so of course she was going to spend some time with them as well, for Sally and Phil flew all the way from Washington D.C.  with their two little girls. But when it seemed that Phil’s family was getting a lot of time for it being “my” Christmas, I began to get irritable. (I know — this is embarrassing.) When Sally told me she’d be spending the last two nights with them — I did it — the look — the guilt trip. It took me a half hour, but God did bring me to my senses, for I am seeing so much better this sin in my heart — and I told Sally I was sorry.

She thanked me but was also angry and reminded me of my past. As she was doing that, I had to cling to the truth that I was loved by God, that He was changing me, and that He would bring good out of this pain. Then she felt badly and apologized for not making it clearer that she and Phil had decided they should divide their time, for they probably wouldn’t be coming back often anymore.

This may seem very petty — but it is everyday life — irritations with the people we love the most. How does the gospel help us face these daily irritations that come, even with those we love the most, because of our sin natures?

        The gospel produces humility. It helps us be more aware of our own sinful hearts and to be quicker to own them.

       The gospel gives us strength. When we are unjustly accused or treated unkindly, we can cling to God and His love.

        The gospel gives us courage. We can speak the truth in love, knowing God wants us to confront wrong, but do so as He did.

        The gospel gives us hope. We know, no matter how the other reacts, that God has the power to bring good out of it.

All this is played out in a very short passage at the end of Genesis when ice is reforming over Joseph’s brothers’ hearts, and he must forgive again, speak the truth again, and cling to God again.

Sunday/Monday Icebreaker

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

2. Have you begun to understand that the Gospel is the A to Z of Christianity? If so, share a way that has been true for you. (Looking for some great examples here!)

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study: Ice Returning to the hearts of Joseph’s Brothers

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 3. Read Genesis 50:15-21

A. What fear did Joseph’s brothers have when Jacob died?

B. So what did they decide to do? Do you think this was the truth? Why or why not?

Derek Kidner writes: The manner of telling the story strongly suggests it was fictitious. It was this, surely, along with the arm’s length approach (vs 16 — they sent a message) telling its own tale of fear and mistrust that moved Joseph to tears.

C. How would you feel if you were in Joseph’s place?

D. How do you see humility in Joseph’s response to them in verse 19?

E. How do you see Joseph clinging to the goodness of God in pain in verse 20?

F. How do you see the mercy of the Lord in Joseph in verse 21?

4. Ask the Lord to show you a relationship in your life that could be improved if you applied what you have learned about the gospel to it. Share here what you could do or will do.

Thursday/Friday: Listen to Keller’s A Prime Minister’s Forgiveness (Link)

5. What comments do you have on the above message?

6. Will you pray for our Lenten study — for me as I write, for your own heart and commitment, and for God to bring those He chooses to commit with us?

Saturday

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

Leave a Comment

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324 comments

  1. So behind this week
    3. Read Genesis 50:15-21
    A. What fear did Joseph’s brothers have when Jacob died?
    That their brother would take revenge on them for all the stuff they did to him earlier.

    B. So what did they decide to do? Do you think this was the truth? Why or why not?
    They got together and invoke the word of “Dad”. If Dad said to do this, then Joseph should honor it. My first impression when reading this again was that they are still manipulative. They had a meeting of the brothers, excluding Joseph and set up a situation to manipulate their brother…again.

    C. How would you feel if you were in Joseph’s place?
    I would be hurt because Joseph had forgiven them, told to go get papa and come back and welcomed them and their families. He treated them well, took care of them and their actions showed that they didn’t truly trust Joseph.

    D. How do you see humility in Joseph’s response to them in verse 19?
    Joseph first said not to be afraid, then he said it was not his place to judge, but God’s. He gave up the control of the outcome to God.

    E. How do you see Joseph clinging to the goodness of God in pain in verse 20?
    Joseph knew the pain of his brothers actions, but he was able to see past that and recognize that God was in control and that what his brothers intended was taken by God and turned around for God’s purpose.

    F. How do you see the mercy of the Lord in Joseph in verse 21?
    The mercy worked through Joseph by him agreeing to take care of his brothers and their children.

  2. E. How do you see Joseph clinging to the goodness of God in pain in verse 20?- He goes back to the gospel and searches to find God in the situation his brothers put him in.

    F. How do you see the mercy of the Lord in Joseph in verse 21? – He told his brothers not to worry that he would take care of them and reassured them again that there was nothing for them to worry about. They did not deserve to be forgiven, but because Joseph loved The Lord and was a great obedient servant of The Lord he followed the laws of God and forgave them and showed mercy to them.

  3. 4. Ask the Lord to show you a relationship in your life that could be improved if you applied what you have learned about the gospel to it. Share here what you could do or will do. – I would have to say the biggest relationship that is very strained right now is with a girl at work. I’ve mentioned her before, but things really aren’t any better. I hear The Lord telling me to say hi or to be nicer to her, but I am sinning and not listening. I need to be the bigger person and ignore her snide remarks that she makes, some which are implied against me and other times against other co-workers. I need to grant her mercy just like Jesus would have done, but I just am so tired of dealing with her and her ways. This is something that I need to work on big time because it affects my attitude in a big way.

    1. Julie, seems like there is always one person like that in the workplace…just smile and be nice (as your gritting your teeth)….I’m praying for you.

      1. Thanks Joyce, I remembered your post and thought of you as I came into work today, so I am doing my best. Thanks too for the prayers on this.

  4. 2. Have you begun to understand that the Gospel is the A to Z of Christianity? If so, share a way that has been true for you.

    Oh I truly hope the light is growing in me! Seeing that I was/am so bad that Jesus had to die for me…I had an experience on Wed. that hasn’t happened to me in a long time – one of my children, because of the way they were acting; and it wasn’t a bad behavior, it was that I was getting frustrated with them – I felt such a rage building inside of me I could feel it, and I like wanted to punch a hole in the wall, and the thoughts that were going through my mind – I deserved a hanging for them. The next morning I felt so guilty – how could I have had that kind of rage inside of me, those thoughts…
    I asked God to forgive me, and I had to cling to the truth that even though I can be so terrible on the inside, the blackness of my own heart, that Jesus loved me enough to die for me, and I asked Him to help me to hate my sin as He hates it but the gospel means that He has separated my sin from me; He doesn’t hate me and punish me for it, though I deserve it a thousand times over. I thought of Karly Faye Tucker saying how God had pulled those roots of violence out of her heart – that’s the power of the gospel to free us from the power of sin; I pray for Him to rip those awful things like feeling rage out of my heart, too.

    1. Wow, that was powerful Susan…so good.

    2. Susan–you said here “Oh I truly hope the light is growing in me!”, but having just read the “challenge” you are taking on for your marriage–yes, I affirm MUCH beaming light shining through you 🙂

  5. 3. Read Genesis 50:15-21

    A. What fear did Joseph’s brothers have when Jacob died?

    That Joseph still bore a grudge against them and has been biding his time…now their father is dead, and they are afraid Joseph is going to pay them back in full for the things they did to him.

    B. So what did they decide to do? Do you think this was the truth? Why or why not?

    They invoked Jacob’s protection from the grave, so to speak. They send a message to Joseph saying that before he died, Jacob charged Joseph to forgive the sins of his brothers against him. I do not think Jacob really said this before he died. The blessing that he gave to Joseph was so glowing – he saw how God had been with Joseph and he knew that Joseph was a godly man who would not be vengeful.

    C. How would you feel if you were in Joseph’s place?

    I think I would feel very, very hurt by this. I would have thought that we were building a good relationship, that they knew my character by now – it would be like a punch in the stomach. Here they are so afraid of him, they are hiding from him, keeping a safe distance, trying to placate him with a false statement from their dead father.
    I see this as an example of how God must feel when He did everything to show me that He loved me even to the point of dying for me, and then I doubt his feelings for me and retreat from Him.

    D. How do you see humility in Joseph’s response to them in verse 19?

    He tells them to not be afraid of him – he says “am I in God’s place?” He is telling them that he has given up any “right” he had to punish them.

    E. How do you see Joseph clinging to the goodness of God in pain in verse 20?

    What his brothers did was evil, but Joseph only sees God as being good. He sees that God allowed their evil into his life, but God’s intentions were good all along. What a privilege God gave to Joseph, that he was able to glimpse the “big picture”, kind of like seeing it all from God’s viewpoint. We often say, “Well, when I get to heaven, then I’ll understand….” Joseph got to understand a great deal of the “why” while he was still living on earth!

    F. How do you see the mercy of the Lord in Joseph in verse 21?

    That in the shadow of the Cross, we sinners are invited to draw near to God! Joseph tells them not to be afraid, that he will provide for them and for their children; he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

    4. Ask the Lord to show you a relationship in your life that could be improved if you applied what you have learned about the gospel to it. Share here what you could do or will do.

    Okay – so I listen sometimes to Nancy Leigh DeMoss on the radio, and I signed up to do her 30 day challenge of encouraging your husband. For 30 days, I can’t say anything negative to my husband – to him, or to anyone else about him. And for every day, there are practical suggestions on how to give encouragement. I had to start-over twice because I blew it. But this has to be something more than just a 30 day plan. I need the power of the gospel to help me do this, day by day. I have to admit, it’s kind of easy because we actually don’t see each other that much b/c he works so late and/or goes to work-out in the evenings after work! But the verbalizing encouragement – the first day, I sent him an email to express what I wanted to say.
    Joseph’s story and how it portrays the gospel encourages me because of how Joseph models forgiveness – he started out as a tattletale and the favorite of his dad (and he knew it), but is so transformed because he forgives and he looks to God. Had he been bitter, there would’ve been no restoration of his relationship with his brothers and they would not have changed, either. Also – when I sin by being disrespectful, negative, and critical of my husband, I’m not just breaking the rules – it breaks God’s heart – He doesn’t want to see me, His child, become a bitter, hard-hearted person. I have to see how much I’ve been forgiven and how much I am loved so I can do the same to my husband.

    1. So good Susan…I’m going to google her as I need to do that too. I can always think of plenty negative things to say, but not positive. Why is that I wonder? Kendra and I would be so lost without him. Thanks for posting that…praying for your 30 days!!

      I found it already…just put in 30 day challenge and her name!

    2. Susan–WOW. This (affirming your husband) is really a beautiful offering to the Lord–I will pray, as you said “I need the power of the gospel to help me do this, day by day”

    3. Hello Susan

      Thank u for sharing.
      I am going to try that.
      To just encourage.
      Sometimes I belittle my husband and I get stuck in the past instead of remembering this is a brand new day.

      Mellany

    1. Looking forward to hearing from those from GPC! 🙂

    2. Thanks for reminding us to pray for you as you prepare the Lenten studies as well as for the Lenten time. Sometimes we are having such a good time being blessed by this study that we forget that we are only blessed here because of God’s protection and that is warfare going on.

  6. Singing this Sunday on W.T. soloing “Walk With Me” by Kim Walker Smith (Jesus Culture). So love this song.. Please pray for my murky heart to not get in the way-that I would not be worried if they remember to use their capo’s on their guitars to play in the right key for if they forget it could be disastrous-baritone low like disastrous! 🙂 We worked it out last night in the right key-I so love the bridge where I can cry out to Him and fly free before the throne-there is nothing quite like that..it is a wonderful blessing-so pray for hearts to worship-for Him to be so present and for us all to sense His presence.

    1. oh sweet Rebecca–I’m at work but just saw this in email and had to jump on–I will be praying for you this Sunday. And a video clip/recording is long overdue 😉 ~if you’re able to get a recording–I’d love to see & hear!

    2. I would love to hear you sing this. What a powerful song!

    3. Elizabeth and Diane, Thanks so much for praying!! 🙂 Elizabeth-you are so sweet! Diane-you amaze me with how you think of others while going through such a storm in your life right now. 🙂

    4. Will be praying Rebecca and please post a video on the solo. Would love to hear you.

  7. I’ve been offline for the past few days due to a cold…life has not been much more than going to work and to bed/sleep. I’m at home working today…
    Today is Thursday…my day for Krista and family focused prayers throughout the day.

    1. Nanci–so sorry, praying you are well soon! We miss you

    2. Hope you feel better soon. Praying for that.

    3. Thanks gals…I am fortunate that I was able to work from home today. I slept a good deal of the late afternoon and evening, now I am wide awake…thought I would catch up on the blog posts with kleenex in hand.

  8. I have this characteristic I guess I will call it…sometimes drives me and my husband nuts…especially when we are doing a project. I have to see the “whole picture” and to investigate every different way it can be done before I come to a conclusion. Kinda time consuming! But on the positive side it has saved us from re-doing many a project too.

    So regarding Joseph I had to go all the way back to chapter 39 to read his story. What a fascinating story it is. Not only put in the well by his brothers but also put in jail by Potiphar’s wife… just for sticking to his moral principles.

    What struck me most was when he first recognizes his brothers (on their first journey to Egypt for food) he does not just reveal himself and gush all over them and have forgiveness flood right off his fingertips in a sense, but cautiously, wisely, lets this play out….He (remembering the dreams he had dreamed of them) accuses them of being spies – “You’ve come to look for our weak spots!” But they deny that. He isn’t convinced however (he needs to check out their heart motive before he reveals who he is) and says “This is how I will test you. As Pharaoh lives you’re not going to leave this place until your younger brother comes here. As Pharaoh lives I say you are spies”. And he threw them in jail for 3 days. Then he instructs them saying “If you are as honest as you say you are, 1 of your brothers will stay here in jail while the rest of you return home and bring your younger brother back to me to confirm the truth of your speech.” Ah ha…they get it! They talk amongst themselves saying “Now we are paying for what we did to our brother”…Reuben breaks in, “Didn’t I tell you Don’t hurt the boy? But no you wouldn’t listen”. Now Joseph was using an interpreter so they did NOT know he could understand every word they were saying. “He turned away from them and cried. When he was able to speak again he took Simeon and had him tied up, making a prisoner of him while they all watched”. He sends them on their way with their sacks full of food, puts their $ back in the sack which later frightens them even more when they find it.
    The story continues with more instances where Joseph’s actions cause them to confront their past sin (just the fact they have to return with Benjamin – and the whole ordeal that starts with their father and his anger at them for now having to relinquish yet another youngest son and the fear he will never be returned to him – ) wow! What a rich story in the complexity of forgiveness.

    Forgiveness is very complex. If we cheapen it and just say…sorry… and believe everything will be alright if we just “stuff” the feelings, gloss over the actions, and let’s “Move on”… forgiveness isn’t complete. These brothers were made to live “on edge” for quite some time in circumstances Joseph thought wise to put them through in order that he might correctly assess their hearts. And then, only when he was convinced they were truly penitent for their past sin, did he reveal himself and offer his love, protection and provision for the rest of their lives. Just as Christ Jesus does for us. When I was first “saved” I was put through many a test…to see if my heart motive was “real” in desiring transformation…. or if I was just looking for a quick rescue/ready to return to my past sin with NO regard for My Savior’s extreme sacrifice for me.

    And just like Joseph’s brothers I took it back (the sin)… having a hard time believing someone could truly truly forgive me completely and totally and forget what I had done in my past to disappoint my God. Just like the brothers I pushed grace back to God saying…No I am not worthy…. Which of course made it about me, my performance, rather than Christ’s sacrifice of Love and Forgiveness.

    What an absolutely Beautiful story of God’s redeeming Love through Jesus Christ our Lord for each of us. Thank you Dee for pointing us to this passage!!! Joseph named his oldest son Manasseh (which means Forget) saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home”. (Quotes are from The Message) Wow! I pray that for me… and you… if you desire it. I think that statement is really profound.

    1. Wow, Mary Beth. Thanks for putting the picture all together for us, together with part of your own testimony. This is very powerful.

    2. This is so good Mary Beth–so insightful on forgiveness

    3. Mary Beth, this is wonderfully convicting…

      “Forgiveness is very complex. If we cheapen it and just say…sorry… and believe everything will be alright if we just “stuff” the feelings, gloss over the actions, and let’s “Move on”… forgiveness isn’t complete.” … “I was put through many a test…to see if my heart motive was “real” in desiring transformation…. or if I was just looking for a quick rescue/ready to return to my past sin with NO regard for My Savior’s extreme sacrifice for me”

      …thank you.

    4. I agree so much.

      Thank u for sharing.
      I never quite understood the story like that.

      Thank u
      mellany

  9. Dee, i guess I was able t figure out what happened that I got this announcement of a new study but it looks like it has been going based on all the blogs.

    I would like to share that I loved what you wrote and the honesty about your life. We cannot grow and move from point A to point C unless we can be honest about where we are at. That IS where the gospel then comes in with hope, strength, humility and courage.

    I am so excited about the things in my life and the lives of those I coach, that God in His undeniable mercy is giving them eyes to see. What an expression of HIS incredible love for us and how it motivates me to do everything and for the love of HIM. If we can’t see God in the hardships we will never really understand His passionate love for us through intimacy.

    Blessings

    1. HI NANETTE! So glad to see you here! LOVE YOU! 🙂

    2. Welcome Nanette–glad you’re here!

    3. Welcome aboard Nanette, glad to you have!

  10. I wrote and sent my letter. I do not want a response, but I ask for prayer for God’s perfect will to be done.

    1. You’ve got it, Dawn….I will be praying.

    2. Praying Dawn MS!

    3. oh Dawn–I almost asked you about this the other day but didn’t want to pry. I am praying now. I’m humbled by your courage–through Him alone.

    4. Prayers will be offered, Dawn.

    5. I hope that you understand that I meant that I’m not looking for a response from my uncle. I love your responses especially your prayers.

      1. absolutely…prayers are offered for whatever the Lord has in mind from your obedience. Take good care, Dawn.

  11. Mary, or Mary Beth? Not sure which one. 🙂 I received your call and would love to help you! I understand you may not be able to receive calls so I am unable to call you back but if you would email me at rebecca@deebrestin.com, I would love to help you! In the meantime, maybe this will help in regard to the Gravatar issue you were having: http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/getting-started/ Just go there and at the bottom of the page you will see an FAQ-that will tell you how to get an Avatar and get your picture up! 🙂 Thanks so much!

    1. Rebecca that was me (unless Mary Beth called you too). Thank you for the info and the link, I will attempt to make it work. If I have any problems I will let you know. Since my name is now causing an issue, I will think of a distinction so that I am not confused with Mary Beth and vise versa.

      Thanks Rebecca.

      1. Thanks Mary. 🙂 This happened in school too… there were 3 Marys in one classroom so we were asked to use our middle names, thus the “Beth” 🙂 Otherwise I usually go by Mary also.

        1. Well my middle name is Jane so I got razzed whether I used my full name or first name only. Mary had a little lamb was regularly used, second only to Mary how does your garden grow. Since I am Canadian, I will change my name to Mary-Canada which should hopefully be enough of a distinction between us to avoid further confusion.

      2. Mary-Canada, So glad this worked for you-I love the picture you put up-it is beautiful. 🙂

    2. Thanks Rebecca for the help, it worked.
      The picture is one I took on the way home today with my iPhone. I had a bad day and on the way home I was needing to feel God’s presence and I walked part of the way to wind down. I was walking across a field close to my house and this was the sky that God shared with me. When I see a cool sunrise or sunset, to me it is like God is sharing with me His presence. He is just saying “hey, I am here”. On days like today that makes a difference to me.

  12. I came across this the other day and it encouraged me:
    from Spurgeon’s sermon “Thy Redeemer” on October 4, 1857:
    “I will help thee.” That is very little for me to do, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee, my beloved! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee. I have done more, and I will do more. Before the day-star first began to shine I chose thee. “I will help thee.”

  13. dee, this is the first time that i have done a bible study through you and i think this looks like a great preparation for easter. i am anxious to start this next week or as i see alot of responses, do i need to get this study done this week or next??

    1. Welcome bjs!! So glad you are here! 🙂

    2. welcome bjs!

  14. Krista-I am praying for you today (and Diane, and the family). This was in my daily readings and I’m praying ot for you all-
    Psalm 31: 14-17: “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand;rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!Make your face shine on your servant;save me in your steadfast love! O Lord, let me not be put to shame,for I call upon you;”

    1. Thanks so much for your prayers and the verses, elizabeth. It is so touching and encouraging to know others are praying for us. And thanks to all others praying here without posting that you have.

      These next few days are very important. I am as nervous as if I was having to meet the Queen (or the President, for you Americans). We have to deal (a bit) with Jeff and his family on the weekend, and then meet a lawyer on Tuesday. The Sunday plan is for me to go to church with Krista and the boys. Because we will have no vehicle, Jeff’s family will be picking us up and taking us home. Krista still attends the same small church as Jeff’s family so we can’t completely avoid them. Yikes! I was reading an old article by Ann Voskamp about “walking toward your fears” with the Lord by my side. That is just what I am trying to do. I need to remember that the Lord goes before us and fights our battles. He also calms our storms and gives us peace in the midst of the storm. Lord, give me peace that passes all understanding.

      1. oh Diane–this is big. I’m writing down to specifically pray for Sunday and for the meeting Tuesday.
        Isaiah 43:1-4:
        “But now, this is what the Lord says—He who created you, O Jacob,He who formed you, O Israel:“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; YOU ARE MINE.
        When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
        When you walk through the fire,you will not be burned;the flames will not set you ablaze.
        For I am the Lord, your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I LOVE YOU”

        1. Thanks so much for this reminder, elizabeth. This verse was very precious to me in another tough time in my life. Thanks for bringing it to my mind again.

          I love the word pictures of walking through the flood and fire. But I think too of Keller’s word picture of the ice reforming on the hearts of Joseph’s brothers. I am finding it hard to fight the icy grip of fear. I need to focus on God’s words that I am His, summoned by name, precious, honored and fervently loved by a protecting God.

      2. Oh I’m SO happy that I am reading this now..I am praying!

    2. Elizabeth, your words and verses truly lift me up. I can feel His arms wrapped around me through them. He is right here with us, always! Thank you again. God bless you!
      Yes, my boys are coming tonight. I am sooo looking forward to it! And thankful my mom is staying here the weekend as well. I’m so blessed with wonderful parents! 🙂

  15. Just joining y’all, looking forward to the lenten study.

    1. Welcome Melissa! So glad to have you! 🙂 My brother Jim and his wife Angie attend GPC-Love GPC! 🙂

    2. Melissa–glad to have you join us!

  16. I deeply felt the sermon by Keller concerning Joseph’s forgiveness of what his brothers had done to him and I was also reminded of something my Sunday School teacher said probably 15 years ago. I always asked a lot of questions in really trying to understand God’s plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). This teacher suggested that I need only to have a flashback to my early years of being out on my own and some of the things I got myself into. What of those times when things didn’t go as I wanted them to. Can I now say that things are so much better in my life because a mighty God was in control and not me. Many of the things that happen are in preparation for what is to come and I just need to have the faith of mustard seed that as He takes me through the fire I will survive and be a better person for it. I remember how I felt then as these words are still on my heart today.

  17. 5. What comments do you have on the above message?

    I listened yesterday and this morning and this is packed! I will try to narrow it down.

    Wow to find out why Joseph was weeping first of all was because the note the brothers sent was a lie and Joseph knew it. Jacob knew Joseph wasn’t a vindictive person. Also he weeped because ice formed over their hearts again.

    Also, the crux-what God desires for us is becoming like Him-micro redeemers, but we can’t unless we are willing to repent and we have to constantly go back and remember that we have been forgiven by Him-yet God is faithful and will remove any ice that settles in our hearts with truth: (harshness) and love which is the same way Joseph approached his brothers for Joesph’s desire was that as Kidner put it: “As the alternative Son in frost broke them open to God, they changed”.

    I had to cut and paste this from Keller:

    “Joseph was saying, even though what you did was evil-I have a God who is working all things out for my good.” unless you realize He is a God of grace and looking out for you it will be difficult to forgive.”

    Then Joseph says, Therefore, don’t be afraid I will provide for you and your children. Keller said: “If you are having trouble forgiving-remember your poverty-you have been forgiven, remember your wealth-God has given you everything you need.”

    “Lastly he repays evil with good-Joseph says I am not going to treat you in an evil way-I am not going to think ill of you. Forgiveness is granted before it is spoke. When you forgive you aren’t saying all my anger is gone you are saying I am now going to treat you the way God treated me. I remember your sins no more doesn’t mean I cant’ recall them but I am not going to act on the basis of them. They aren’t the controlling reality in my life. What is the controlling reality of my life? The grace of God and the way in which out of love He controls all things is the controlling reality of my life. He is the God of truth and Love-He is the God who weeps..and He is the God who says if you understand that-you can be like my son, Micro-redeemers filled with his confidence and poverty that will enable you to go out and through grace change others into his likeness.”

  18. Application of the sermon:

    I need to really chew on this-still processing..and this is so deep-the penny is dropping but hasn’t totally yet in regard to me really grasping the depth of God being truth (harshness) and Love-and that He is shaping me to be a micro redeemer like Him. I am weak in the area of truth-harshness due to fear of hurting someone else or perhaps it is also fear of rejection-approval idol. BUT is it really loving someone when I don’t speak the truth also? You can’t truly love without both truth and love.

    I think for me it goes back to the beginning, remembering my wretched heart yet His forgiveness. The reason God puts me through harsh things is because God has forgiven me and it is because He graciously accepts me that he deals with me harshly. He is not punishing me I am already forgiven. Keller said: “God saves us by Grace that he can put us through years of frost and sun to break us open.”-God wants to break me open because He loves me-He weeps when ice forms on my heart.

    If God hadn’t forgiven me he wouldn’t put me through things to chisel me to become like HIM! I also need to remember that He has given me everything I need. These truths lead me to repentance but I need to remember this daily!

    So when I am in a situation where I am struggling to truly forgive-I need to go back to the cross. First I need to remember my poverty for I have been forgiven. Secondly, that He is a God of Grace-the harsh times he gives isn’t a punishment but a gift. Thirdly that God has given me everything I need to extend the truth (harshness) in love to others-If I really grasp these three truths in my life then my hearts motive for giving others truth won’t be out of selfishness but out of forgiveness and love for them and a longing for them to know Him and to become like Him, mini redeemers and to be set free.

    I long to mature in being filled with His confidence and poverty at the same time so that my true desires for others will line up with His-and really this starts with me taking up my cross and following Him-to be a repenter first. Taking up my cross and following Him happens at converson-yes, but I am learning it is a continual walking in repentance and faith..Keller said, all the redeemers in Scripture had to be repenters first.

    1. This is good…

      “If God hadn’t forgiven me he wouldn’t put me through things to chisel me to become like HIM! I also need to remember that He has given me everything I need. These truths lead me to repentance but I need to remember this daily!”

      Thanks Rebecca 🙂

  19. Clarification: “I am learning it is a continual walking in repentance and faith.”… To clarify, once I came to know Him it was sealed- I am His even when I don’t walk in repentance in faith-what I do or don’t do won’t change that-what I meant is that walking in repentance and faith shouldn’t stop once I am saved from the penalty of sin-it is crucial in the process of Him transforming me because I need to continually be willing to lay down and let Him remove the scales on my heart. 🙂

  20. 5. What comments do you have on the above message?

    So it took me all week to decide if I was going to buy the sermon. Since it has been snowing for the past 24 hours, cleaning is getting old, and I can’t bear to think of grading papers (sad to say all this came before I decided to make the purchase), I have listened to TK’s sermon and am mulling. I have to listen again this afternoon as i shovel the 3 feet of snow off my driveway! Exciting to say the least (I mean this with sincerity because I “kill three birds with one stone” when it snows like this….. I clean the driveway, I do my Bible study AND I get exercise 🙂 the sermon is jam packed with such great info and I will probably listen to it 2 more times. I need to do like someone else did this week (can’t remember who right now) and go back and re-read the entire scripture of the story of Joseph. I need the details!

    Anyway here is what I am thinking so far:

    The point of this week is forgiveness. I have always thought of myself as a forgiving person, so I didn’t think I needed help in this area. Uh-oh, there’s a problem right there! I am in the midst of a very big challenge and didn’t think forgiveness would be part of the process just yet. You know, someone wrongs you and at the END you forgive. I never thought about someone wronging you over and over again, in a cycle, and you forgiving during that continuous cycle. I think this is what happened to Joseph. Here’s what I mean……

    My daughter has been gone since Thursday afternoon. I don’t know where she is and she hasn’t called. Major blizzard for the last 24 hours. We do know she spent money in a nearby (15 miles) city, so we are fairly certain she is with the awful girl who always gets her in trouble. Drugs mostly. After listening to TK this morning I began to realize I have to forgive Sarah for her actions now. The “end” may never come. He said that’s what Joseph did. He forgave the brothers well beyond the actual event of them coming to him to ask.

    Sarah used to spend time at a nasty apartment complex in our town. I never knew where she really was. She wants so badly to be away from us. I’m not sure why. I gave up worrying a few years ago. We are often firm with her. For example her phone is turned off because she spoke very rudely to me a few weeks ago. You may ask why she has a phone? Well it was my only way of keeping track of her. Remember, she has an 80 IQ and Aspergers tendencies. I turned it on yesterday so she might be able to call us if she needed a ride before the snow got really bad. she never called. Is this what TK meant when he said we must give others the truth AND love? I fear she may never change. We live in a nice neighborhood and have a decent life. She is drawn to drug addicts and people who are not interested in being productive in life. These people do not know God. Sarah was raised in church, but does not know God now. She does think she will go to heaven though. Weird. This brings me to the most pressing question i have after the sermon…..

    When Jesus asks God to “forgive them for they know not what they do,” are the people actually just forgiven by God? Do we know any more about these people who are responsible for Jesus’ death? We know the centurion seems to repent right there at the cross, but what about the “regular” Jewish people who egged the process along. Were they forgiven? Did they repent or did they just go on in life as if nothing happened? It seems like Josephs brothers continue in their mean lives and then Joseph asks forgiveness for them “for they know not what they do.” they are lying right up to the end! Do they EVER repent? Or, are they automatically forgiven because they have Joseph in their corner? If so, why worry about being a Christian if you can be a parasite on the “coat” of someone else?

    1. Laura-dancer–I think this was really good, says so much about your growing heart: “After listening to TK this morning I began to realize I have to forgive Sarah for her actions now. The “end” may never come. He said that’s what Joseph did. He forgave the brothers well beyond the actual event of them coming to him to ask.”

    2. Laura-Dancer,

      I read this this morning and wasn’t able to respond but oh..like I told you, you are growing and I have learned from you is to be frank and to be honest-to seek the truth about myself and my situations regardless.

      This is one thing I love about you: “I need to do like someone else did this week (can’t remember who right now) and go back and re-read the entire scripture of the story of Joseph. I need the details!”, and when you said this: “The point of this week is forgiveness. I have always thought of myself as a forgiving person, so I didn’t think I needed help in this area. Uh-oh, there’s a problem right there!”-Does God have your heart or what!? 🙂 Love to see this pondering and objective self examination you do-and we get to see Him in the middle of it-so encouraging.

      I can relate to what you said about Sarah sinning over and over and you needing to forgive-I have struggled with that too..After listening to TK this morning, I started to really see myself as the brothers-how I mess up over and over and how ice can form on my heart and I can grieve God and make Him weep. I guess what is sticking with me today is Joseph weeping over the ice forming on their hearts and I see mine and see some icy places that need His breath! That is for sure!

  21. 5. What comments do you have on the above message?
    God is a God of truth and love, and wants me to forgive just as I have been forgiven. Keller says the text asks 2 questions—why did Joseph weep, and what did he say.

    1-Why did Joseph weep?
    Because what his brothers said to him was a lie. His brothers made up this story about what their father had said because they feared what Joseph would do to them. He wept because he saw the ice forming over his brothers’ hearts again.
    He recalls the past: Joseph was Jacob’s favorite—and this poisoned the family. His dreams he shared of how he would rule over his brothers only stirred the jealousy fire. The brothers attempt to kill him and then sell him into slavery.
    But Joseph rises up, he is changed. He becomes a man of integrity, the Prime Minister.
    When his brothers come this time, they don’t recognize him. He puts them through 2 years of hell. He calls them spies. He forces them to bring him Benjamin. He plans a scheme to keep Benjamin—placing the stolen cup in his bag. One more time their father’s favorite will buy them something, this time their freedom. But Judah has changed. When Judah realizes his father will now lose his favorite, again, he offers himself in Benjamin’s place.

    2- What did Joseph say?
    He reveals his identity “It’s me, how is our father?”
    Kidner: “At first sight, the rough handling has the look of vengefulness”. Before the harsh pose in Joseph was a deep, uncontrollable affection, overwhelming kindness. The kindness broke them. Judah had completely changed, and Joseph could reveal himself.

    God is a God of Truth and Love. If Joseph had only acted in truth—or only in love, there would be no drawn out process. But the growth, the healing, never could have happened.
    Because he was a person of truth and love—he wept. And there was redemption, change in character. *Our God is a God who weeps—He is both Truth and Love.

    God sends tough things into our lives not because He doesn’t forgive us, but because He does. He cares about our heart, our character, our Christ-likeness.

    Just as Joseph forgave his brothers before they repented—God has forgiven us before we repent.

    The pattern of saviors, deliverers is that the people the deliver is sent to, is rejected by the ones they save. Joseph died to his own vengefulness while a slave, so that he could save his own. Joseph points to Jesus. All deliverers point to the ultimate Deliverer. Jesus, the One who gave up His life, to set us free.

    We so easily forget that we are forgiven, saved by grace alone—and Jesus weeps when we forget. **We need to constantly go back and be reassured—continually go to Him and let Him reassure us.

    If you have trouble forgiving-
    1) Remember your spiritual poverty-humility. Ask, “am I in the place on God?” I must always remember my own sin. If I am bitter, then I’m basically saying I am in the place of God. I must remember how much I’ve been forgiven. If I don’t forgive others—I need to repent.
    2) Remember my spiritual wealth—even when evil is done against me, God will use it for good.
    3) God will give me everything I need

    Repay evil with good. Forgive before it is felt. **What is the controlling reality in my life? My hurts, or God’s grace?

    1. I especially agree with your #2 Elizabeth, “even when evil is done against me, God will use it for good.” Periods of my life have not always been easy but even if I could I would not change a thing about it. There is a song written by Smokie Norful called “Dear God” which reduces me to tears every time I hear it for it mostly says that Lord I thank you for my life in spite of the fact that I almost went crazy. Now in every situation I ask God what am I to learn from this?

      1. Annette–(LOVE your name!)-you have such wisdom “even if I could I would not change a thing about it”. Being able to thank God for each part of our story is hard. It says so much about your deep faith and really encourages me, to remember He works ALL things for His purpose. I’m really thankful you’ve joined us 🙂

  22. 7. What is your take-a-way and why?
    This is a bit hurried—and not as much thought as I’d like—just my simple thoughts. I love that my God is a God of truth and love. His truth makes Him worthy of all trust, honor, awe. His words are TRUE. Anyone who knows me well, knows I’d rather have the harsh truth than any candy-coated version, or anything swept “under the rug”, and left unsaid. I crave truth—sometimes to a fault, in relationships. But He is not just truth—as deep as His truth, His love runs. His love is the door that calls me to continually go back to Him for re-assurance—that He really loves me, that I’m forgiven—that nothing can snatch me from His hand.
    I am incredibly humbled that He chose me. So incredibly thankful that He calls me His own. And He gives me the honor of being able to reflect His ways in relationship. I see more the beauty of being made in His image. It allows us to really show others Jesus by how we live.
    I don’t have anyone on my “list” that I am holding a grudge against. That wasn’t always true of me. But I am seeing more and more the depths of my own sin. My thoughts, my re-actions. And that I must constantly go back, repent, and be re-assured of Who I belong to. It’s hard to be critical of others when I really see how much I’ve been forgiven.

    1. Elizabeth,

      🙂 “But I am seeing more and more the depths of my own sin. My thoughts, my re-actions. And that I must constantly go back, repent, and be re-assured of Who I belong to. It’s hard to be critical of others when I really see how much I’ve been forgiven.”-so good..I can’t say it any better than Dee but this is Gospel transformation! I see this so in your life.

  23. Hello!

    1. Hi Amy from Mississippi–glad to have you join us!

    2. Hello Amy, I’m new too but already I am completely humbled by the spirit of this group.

    3. Hi Amy! Welcome…

  24. My head is spinning–in a good way. Finally made it to the theater and saw Le Mis this afternoon….what a story, what beauty, passion, message!! (there were at least 15 people in the theater too so I am not the last person in Illinois to see it) Then came home to listen to TK a second time. I wish I could download it to my iPod as then I could list a few more times but since I can only listen on my desktop computer (because it is a MP3) I haven’t found time to sit down one more time. So much to ponder….love the combination of truth and love that TK talks about. I grew up in and then created a family that avoids confrontation at all cost and so speaking the truth has been hard, especially when you know the truth and it needs to be said even if not popular so that was convicting.
    Forgiveness is gigantic. I have referred to our son who was adopted at age 7, created havoc in the family, eventually totally rebelled ended up in prison, when he got out rejected us and searched and lived with his birth mother. Now he has reconnected with us, for my husband and I the forgiveness has come, but the rest of our kids still are very angry and bitter. He lives out of state so there is no issue of his coming by or to family events but it still is hard to see their bitterness, as it actually causes them more harm than him. I feel such thankfulness that we have been able to forgive even if the rest can’t. But I have other relationships that I struggle a lot more with forgiveness.
    (I will try to put up my picture tomorrow. It will challenge my computer skills 🙂 Tomorrow we start our Lent study..so excited…been praying for you, Dee, and can’t wait to see what God has given you.

  25. 7. What is your take-a-way and why?
    One of the things that keeps coming back to me is when T Keller said Joseph can forgive because he knows who he is in Christ and that we are all sinners! This situation with Joseph’s brothers was not the last trial that he went through where no matter what happened to him, what the consequences would be, he continued to trust God for his deliverance. Even while in prison the Lord was with him. That is my prayer that no matter what happens in my life if I know God will never leave me nor forsake me I will be okay.

  26. What an incredible sermon…
    I remember being told that the portion of the Lord’s prayer “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” meant that if I held any unforgiveness in my heart that meant that God would show me the same unforgiveness that was in my heart…a truly frightening thought when you do in fact hold unforgiveness in your heart and some that you aren’t even consciously aware of but comes and slaps you in the face to let you know that it IS still there. I now understand this in a different context; in my unforgiveness whatever the capacity or circumstance is my not knowing proper repentance (i.e., I am a sinner through and through only saved by the sacrifice and grace of our Lord; I am NOT in the God’s judgment seat…that seat is reserved EXCLUSIVELY for God)…I cannot hold a grudge and ask for forgiveness at the same time…

    I am going to keep the listing of what I need to remember regarding who I am in Christ to refer to when unforgiveness rears its ugly head…
    (the copy/paste courtesy of Elizabeth…:))

    1) Remember your spiritual poverty-humility. Ask, “am I in the place of God?” I must always remember my own sin. If I am bitter, then I’m basically saying I am in the place of God. I must remember how much I’ve been forgiven. If I don’t forgive others—I need to repent.
    2) Remember my spiritual wealth—even when evil is done against me, God will use it for good.
    3) God will give me everything I need

  27. Hello Ladies! I have never participated in a blog before, so I hope I do this right.
    The total story of Joseph is one of my favorites. Poor Joseph — his brothers taunted him, stripped him of his beautiful robe, threw him in a cistern, and then retrieved him so they could sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites going to Egypt. You have to admit, there was not much more they could have done to show their total rejection of Joseph. Even though they were so cruel to him, I think he missed his family all that time in Egypt. I feel sure he didn’t want it to end that way.

    Just focusing in on the few verses in Genesis 50 brought some additional reflections to mind. Even though Joseph was demonstrably forgiving of his brothers, they never seemed quite sure of his forgiveness. Perhaps they thought he was just being on good behavior in deference to his father, Jacob; so when Jacob died, they were worried again that Joseph might get revenge. I definitely feel the brothers created the supposed last message from Jacob to Joseph. However, I think that Jacob would have wanted all of his offspring to get along peaceably, and he would have delivered a message encouraging Joseph to be kind, if he had felt it was necessary. I just came home from an Ash Wednesday service
    tonight. There it was noted that we often continue to worry about our sins even after God has forgiven us — as if we believe we can never be forgiven.

    I think the reason for Joseph’s ability to forgive his brothers is stated more than once: God had a purpose for Joseph, and Joseph knew his hardships had helped him fulfill that purpose. How different the results would have been if he had never been delivered to Egypt. He probably would have stayed at home, continuing to be his father’s “favorite,” and his siblings’ resentment would have persisted — And multitudes of people would have starved to death during the famine! Hopefully during this Lenten journey, we each can see the purpose of our life clarified.