Our own Elizabeth wrote:
I have noticed lately how often I lay in bed at the end of the day and feel guilt. Over words said or left unsaid. Actions I could have taken but didn’t, others I regret taking. But the Gospel has washed away all guilt. Perfect love casts out all fear. I have not only been pardoned, but have been given the gift, a new identity. I am no longer a guilty child, but beloved, though broken, I am His beloved.
Yet Elizabeth would be just as quick to tell you that it is elusive. The gospel is such amazing news that we believe it, and then we don’t. We are like a woman picking petals of a daisy, saying, “He loves me. He loves me not.”
At the end of one message we heard on Job this last Lent, Tim Keller astonishingly says: “My main problem is that I don’t really believe to the core that God loves me.” We look at our lives, our “failing Lents,” and see darkness and think, How could He love me? And when we doubt His love, we feel naked, and want to cover ourselves somehow, so we go back to works righteousness, finding our identity in our success in our ministry, mothering, or marriage. Or we go running to our idols, trying to take the pain away.
In a conversation I had with a good friend named Machelle this week, she said, “Rules are a quick fix — the gospel takes a lifetime.”
In another conversation with a woman who has just been through Idol Lies she said, “We see our idols now — but we all want a formula to solve it!” Oh — so true — we want a formula, a quick fix. But the gospel takes a lifetime.
The one thing we can do is behold Christ and His great love, for beholding is becoming. Being in awe of Christ melts our hearts and helps us trust His love. This week we will behold some of the “love songs,” in Isaiah.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. What idol are you running to now most frequently? What is it that you doubt about Christ that keeps you running to this idol?
BIBLE STUDY: MONDAY-WEDNESDAY (Take two or three questions a day.)
He uses every earthly picture of intimacy that we know, and says that He loves us better. He is the Friend who is closer than a brother, He is the Husband who will never forsake us, He is the Father who stands with open arms, and He is the Mother who cannot forget her baby.
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the
child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
Isaiah 49:14-16 (NIV)
When Johnny was two, he unlocked the door and got outside. We lived on a lake and it was early morning. I ran all over the neighborhood in my nightgown, pounding on doors, asking them to help me, crying, praying, scanning the lake, and falling in a thankful heap when a neighbor brought him home on his shoulders. When Johnny was six and some older boys held him underwater at the pool, I became a lionness, charging them, tearing at them.
To think, God loves me more than that.
3. If you are a mother, or have a child in your life to whom you feel knit, share a time when you were ready to do anything to rescue him, no matter how embarrassing or how dangerous. Or when a parent did the same for you.
4. Read Isaiah 49:13-16
A. In verse 13, what does the Lord tell all of creation to do and why?
B. In verse 14, how are God’s people feeling?
C. What word picture is painted in verse 15? What spiritual, physical, and emotional factors make it difficult for a mother to forget her nursing baby?
D. In the end of verse 14, who may forget — and who will never forget? What does this mean to you.
E. Why, according to verse 16, will God not forget us? Can you see the gospel in this? Explain.
For your Maker is your husband
Many of our bloggers have been forsaken by a husband. There is no greater earthly picture of intimacy than marriage, and therefore enormous pain (which God shows he understands in Malachi) than being forsaken by a spouse. But we have One who will never leave us or forsake us.
In the following picture, we have an earthly image of a young bride who felt the reproach of being abandoned. This echoes Hosea where God does have Hosea withdraw from Gomer for a period to bring her to her senses. God does discipline us for our good, but only for a season. He will always be waiting with open arms. For He is our husband, one who will never break his vows.
6. Read Isaiah 54:4-8
A. What negative emotions is God going to wipe away, according to verse 4?
B. How does He identify Himself in verse 5? (Was there ever a husband like this?)
C. Describe his emotions toward us in verses 6 through 8?
D. How do you see both the truth and mercy of the gospel in this passage?
E. In what ways do you need to repent before Him? Write them here and let him have compassion on you.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
I have told this story in The God of All Comfort, so I will summarize it. My eldest son, J. R. and his girlfriend, Diane, led my mother to Christ the Easter that she was 93. The following September she seemed to be close to death. I asked the Lord to allow me to be with her when it happened. Amazingly, I was. It was three in the morning when I arrived, taking the baton from my sister Sally, who had been at her side. Mother was suffering. Terribly. I couldn’t handle it. I was pacing, crying out to God. I told Him, “Steve was strong in the faith, he could take this, but my little mother is just four months old in the faith. You said, “a bruised reed you would not break.” At five in the morning, Fran, a Christian nurse came in. She was supposed in at six, but God woke her up and told her to come. I lamented to her and said, “I don’t understand why God is putting her through this.”
Fran assessed the situation and said, “Your mother is afraid to die.”
“No! She’s a Christian now. She knows she’s forgiven.”
“We all have our doubts — and she’s just a baby.”
Fran leaned down next to my mother and repeated the truth of the gospel to her. “Mrs Brown. Don’t be afraid. Your sin has been paid in full. Jesus is waiting for you with open arms.”
Suddenly my mother looked up, smiled, and was gone.
What solved her problem? The Gospel.
7. Read Isaiah 42:3
I’ve often wondered where the saying, “God will not give you more than you can bear” came from. I think this is it. He knows our frame, He know what we can take, and He is filled with compassion. How does this minister to you right now?
Luci Shaw once told me of this verse, “It’s for the left-brained person (Come, let us reason together) and the right-brained (A word picture: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”) We all need to drum the gospel into our hearts.
Steve and I sent this verse out our first Christmas as Christians. We offended people, for they didn’t think “their sins were as scarlet.”
Part of the solution to our problems is realizing how sinful and helpless we are. We are more depraved than we could imagine.
Yet — more loved than we dared hope.”
8. How might this aspect of the gospel help you today?
Thursday-Friday: Sermon: Link
9. What are your notes?
10. What’s your take-a-way and why?