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BECOMING HUMAN AGAIN (The Gospel According to Philippians)

















Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.   (C. S. Lewis)



 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh. (Eze 36:26).


 …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

for it is God who works in you,

both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

(Philippians 2:12-13)

This is a challenging passage. Many have stumbled on it, misunderstanding it. But when you understand it, you learn the secret of growth, and hope fills your heart that you really can grow, you really can become His masterpiece, reflecting His image again.

Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

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

2. In Sarah Wimberly’s testimony above, how did you see God at work in her life? How did her responsiveness to Him aid in the process?

Monday/Wednesday Bible Study


palace  I so often pray that God will help me stop eating, to give me more patience with my grandchildren, to help me not to lose important things. I want deliverance from these sins that pester me. I want remodeling into a sweet little cottage.

 But He wants so much more. He wants me to share my    bread with the hungry, bring the homeless poor into my house, when I see the naked, to cover him, and not turn away from my own flesh and blood. He wants to turn me into a palace that reflects His glory.


Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

(C. S. Lewis: Mere Christianity)


3. Often we want to change to get rid of a bad habit that bothers us, but The Potter has much more in mind than that. Reflect: What change do you have in mind for yourself, and what change do you think The Potter has in mind?

4. Read Philippians 2:12-14 in your own translation slowly. What stands out to you and why?

5. Some have thought Paul is telling us to work for our salvation, similar to Buddha who said “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Explain, from the context, why this is a false interpretation. How would this interpretation go against the gospel?

6. A parallel passage is in the last chapter, Philippians 1:6. Listen to Steve Green sing it and let it permeate your heart and share reflections if you like.



7. Read Philippians 2: in The Message and then share if you see anything new.

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.

9. What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13?

Here is how my son J. R. answered this when visiting me on Mother’s Day:

The enemy lies to us, telling us if we do what His Spirit leads, we will be unhappy. But the truth is, as we join His Spirit, we are like the seagulls who fly with the wind, gliding in joy and peace. One of my favorite quotes from the great John Stott is:

Our love and our hatred not only reveal if we are in the light or the darkness, but actually contribute to the light or darkness in which we already are.                                 


Thursday/Friday Listen to the Sermon: LINK

This is an excellent sermon by Jeffry White at Redeemer. Share your notes.


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

Leave a Comment

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  1. 4. Read Philippians 2:12-14 in your own translation slowly. What stands out to you and why?
    God is working in me…working in me so that I will desire to do what pleases Him. The Lord doesn’t give up on me, even when I appear to give up on myself in judgement, fear, and/or despondency…HE gives me desire and the power to do what pleases Him.

    5. Some have thought Paul is telling us to work for our salvation, similar to Buddha who said “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Explain, from the context, why this is a false interpretation.
    The Lord provides all…Eph 2:8 tells me that the faith I have is a gift from God…”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”. God provides me with faith, grace, desire, and power to do what pleases Him. God is all good and His plans are best, pleasing Him is in MY best interest…it is a gift from God.

    How would this interpretation go against the gospel?
    We do nothing to earn, deserve, etc. our salvation…in no way is our salvation any of our doing; it is completely God’s doing; a gift of grace from beginning to end.

    6. A parallel passage is in the last chapter, Philippians 1:6. Listen to Steve Green sing it and let it permeate your heart and share reflections if you like.
    God begins, continues, and will finish His good work in me…it is ALL God’s doing; I am ONLY the undeserving, incredibly fortunate recipient.

  2. 4. Read Phil. 2:12-14 in your own translation slowly. What stands out to you and why?

    Working out our salvation is an issue of obedience, not just a nice suggestion. Also that the work is both God’s and mine. This may sound silly but when I was thinking about this verse, the words, “work out” made me think of those awful math problems we had to do in school. I can’t remember if it was algebra or geometry but you had to show your work to prove that you knew how to actually do the problem. I know Paul wasn’t thinking of math but it made me think that working out our salvation (the ups and downs, the success and failures) actually shows how we are living out our faith. Not earning our salvation, but growing in strength and depth.

    1. I like this Jill “an issue of obedience, not just a nice suggestion.”

    1. I like the drawing, Dee. 🙂 I see it as being made new in Him; His light shining out.

    2. You’re not alone ladies – When I first looked at the picture of the crumbling body I thought it was pretty creepy, but then looking more deeply into it I saw a body that was breaking away the “old unbelieving” body to make room for the “new skin” or “new shell” of a believer.

    3. Dee, I love the picture, not because it is beautiful but because of the truth it conveys. I love looking at it and digging for that truth. Truth before beauty.

    4. Praying for you, Dee.

      I think I am starting to “get” the picture. If, before we know Christ, we are a unhuman (creepy, hellish) creature, then when Christ’s light enters, He starts to remake us into, as Dee says in her intro, something human. In Christ, we are “becoming human” when before we were some kind of alien. I have never looked at myself this way before. Christ puts our unhuman body together again with a true pure human body that God originally intended before the Fall. I am still pondering but that is what I am thinking at the moment.

    5. praying for you Dee! And sisters, I still don’t see the alien, but I guess the beauty of art is that we each can see something different–and still see the truth it conveys, as Anne said.

  3. 8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.
    This image just came to mind, of the Lord handing me a gift. He has given me the gift–the gift of His Spirit within me. It is everything I need to do the tasks He has given me. And yet I respond as if I don’t have the tools. I get frustrated, angry, impatient. I act as though I need something else, like He forgot to give me something and I must find what I need somewhere else. Read books on patience, or just try harder. Sometimes I take the cop out of “I’m just not good at patience (or some other fruit of the Spirit).”
    For me to live in responsive obedience is the respond to the gift He has given. I have everything I need to use edifying words instead of criticism. To let gentleness flow from my presence instead of frustration. To believe the best instead of assume the worst. Walk in hope instead of fear.

    1. This is really good Elizabeth, I thought of two things as I read your thoughts, one was :
      1 Peter 1:3
      “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. ”

      The other was the words of Elijah to the people of Israel at the battle with the prophets of Baal:
      1 Kings 18:21
      “Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
      But the people said nothing.”

      How often I waiver between two opinions and live as if I don’t have everything I need to lead a life of worship.

      1. thank you Chris–especially that 1 Peter is so clear–we have no excuses, He continually tells us we have everything we need. The thought started honestly when I was watching my husband trying to fix a broken piece on our deck. He was really frustrated because he thought he had what he needed, but was missing a certain tool. I thought about how often I get that same frustration with situations–that same annoyance at what doesn’t go the way I want it to. But I DO have the tools, I have all that I need to respond in obedience. I hope that by meditating on the truth of that, I will be less likely to forget in those moments.

    2. Elizabeth – I love this image of God’s gift to you of His Spirit. I remember one of Keller’s sermons where he said that how did Jesus face everything He had to face, including crucifixion? Jesus relied on the Spirit, the same Spirit we have in us. God has not changed. “And yet I respond as if I don’t have the tools…I act as though I need something else, like He forgot to give me something…”
      This is really, really good.

  4. 7. Read Philippians 2: in The Message and then share if you see anything new.

    I think the part that grabbed me was “Do everything readily and cheerfully — no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night….”

    I do a fair amount of service, but unfortunately I can’t claim to always doing it “readily and cheerfully!” If I did, my service would probably carry a far greater amount of impact on others. It would be like being “a breath of fresh air.” What a mission that would be, if done right, “providing people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God!!” I liked this passage a lot — to me it sounds like it is the beginning steps of living out the Great Commission.

    8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.
    It would mean being aware of God’s leading throughout each day, not questioning what I hear, but “just going ahead and doing it!” I regret to say there have been times in my life that I missed great opportunities for obedient servanthood, because I just couldn’t believe I was hearing the Lord’s message correctly. I identify with the story of Gideon, saying “Now Lord let the fleece be wet and the ground be dry, and then secondly, let the fleece be dry and the ground be wet! (Judges 6:36-40) I guess I was waiting for some great sign!

    9. What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13?
    I would be more likely to pray the prayer of the father who brought his son to Jesus to be healed: “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) Or perhaps, Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”
    However, I was impressed by the way J.R. used Philippians 2:13 as a prayer!

  5. 6. Phillipians 1:6 This passage is so very comforting because it assures me that the work in me is His work. It’s completion is as sure as His attributes. It is not that I have no part in it but that the changing me is not it. Obedience is my part. Dying to self is my part. Not that I am alone in this struggle for He is right here, as close as my cry for help.

    When I watched the Steve Green video I thought a lot of my children, especially my oldest son. It is so wonderful to know that He will complete the work He began so long ago is his heart.

  6. 7. I want to meditate more on this one but have to go to work now. Here is what stood out this morning. Have a blessed day everyone.

    Yesterday I sensed a call to memorize Ephesians 3:16-19. I can’t believe how it fits here, how it is the source for this calling.

    I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through the Spirit,

    That is as far as I have gotten but how it fits here. It stands out to me that Paul doesn’t just say strengthened but strengthened with power. That is power not my own but His power in the inner woman of me.

    1. I am so glad you are ‘back’ Anne, I really missed you ‘inner woman’!

      1. Thank you Chris. I miss being here when I am not.

        1. Dee, thank you. I feel very loved here.

  7. For those interested, here is what happened last sunday. Otherwise feel free to skip 🙂

    Sarah asked to visit the cosmetology school in NY where she wants to attend school. I agreed because I wanted to get her excited about going. It is really time! We drove down and visited on saturday. It wasn’t in such a bad place, more suburban than city. It made me feel a bit better. She asked to go into the city on Sunday to walk around but I really dislike NYC. I agreed but said I wanted to go to church on Sunday there. She said ok! We tried to make the 9:15 service, but getting up, battling traffic in the Lincoln tunnel, and finding a parking space was all a bit daunting! We got there at the end of the service and wouldn’t you know I heard that familiar voice over the speakers in the foyer! I was so sad. I thought surely he wouldn’t preach 2 services in a row. I asked around to see if anyone knew if he would preach again (admitting I was a “groupie!”) but no one seemed to know. Sarah was willing to walk around (in the rain!) and go back at 11:15. we went and guess what?! He was preaching again 🙂 I was never so happy! He preached on Acts (for Penecost); being friends and really knowing each other well. So good. I think it was one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. My daughter is growing up! She actually didn’t mind hanging out with her mom..Thanks be to God!

    1. Yay, Laura dancer! This is SO cool! I guess I have to admit I am a groupie too. I am in awe of Keller. I would LOVE to hear him live! Thanks for the report!

    2. I LOVE this story, Laura!! I can’t stop smiling. After all our prayers for you and Sarah–I LOVE your support of her, I love your persistence to hear the Word, I love her willingness–wow. Such HOPE.

    3. Laura I’m so happy you and Sarah had that special time together!

    4. I am really glad for you and Sarah Laura, that your time together was blessed. I will pray right now about her, that God will be wooing her, and that her inclination to go to school will be blessed.

      When we were in NYC, we went to one of the Redeemer services, but another pastor brought the message. The website says he typically speaks 4 out of the 8 services on Sundays, they won’t say which ones!
      I still felt so blessed to be there. The congregation was so diverse.

    5. How wonderful, Laura…so glad that you had such a great weekend and nice connecting time with Sarah. Thanks for sharing…:)

      1. 🙂

    6. This is so wonderful Laura-dancer. I am very happy for you and for Sarah. I am praying now that she will find joy and satisfaction in school and work in cosmetology. My hairdresser loves her work and it shows. She loves the creativity of it. I’m so glad that Sarah enjoyed being with you and that she went to church. It sounds like the sermon was very fitting for her, being about friendship. I pray that it will bear fruit in her life. You have done a wonderful job of trusting The Lord with her.

  8. 5. Some have thought Paul is telling us to work for our salvation, similar to Buddha who said “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Explain, from the context, why this is a false interpretation. How would this interpretation go against the gospel?

    The gospel tells us there is nothing we can do to “make” it to heaven. It is by God’s grace we get there. No manner of filling this criteria or that criteria will get us there. We must love Jesus and love one another. We need to try to be Christ like in all we do. Each of us has a requirement to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

  9. 7. Read Philippians 2: in The Message and then share if you see anything new.

    “RESPONSIVE OBEDIENCE”- He is the energy deep within me transforming me and I need to be sensitive and reverent to God as He is in me willing and working at what will give Him the most pleasure. What is new to me is SO ENCOURAGING because I sense Him every day-and what is also new-and I couldn’t wait to get to JR’s video-is that when I do sense Him I can go to him honestly if I don’t see a way..or want to obey- and tell him that and ask him to move in me and turn my will around.

    1. This is so encouraging and true, Rebecca, “I can go to him honestly if I don’t see a way”. It is SO great that I can just cry HELP when I want to do His will and can’t seem to figure out what it is. Deep down I often want to do His will but my idols are screaming for relief or control and it is hard to listen to His still, small voice. I really liked what JR shared. Change my heart, O God.

  10. Read Philippians 2: in The Message and then share if you see anything new.
    “that energy is Gods energy”

    That when I am “reverent & sensitive before God”
 there is energy-power-supplied by Him, to do His will.
John 7:38
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

  11. 8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.

    As I prayed about this, repenting of my waivering between two opinions and my double mindedness , I felt a flood of relief, knowing that these things grieve me only because He is working in me, that my grief over my sin is His doing. That He won’t ever leave me or forsake me, makes me even more grieved about my sin.


As I have become more aware of the enemies lies, I see that sometimes I know the truth but choose the lies (that I am not worth it, that I am beneath other believers, that Gods favor is removed from me, that I have nothing worthwhile to offer, that when I open my mouth I say too much, that people merely tolerate me, that I am not worthy of love…I have no trouble seeing myself as a wretch or a worm, but as a loved child?…that is tough for me!), it seems to afford some sort of false refuge for me. It is hard to take off those things, stuff I thought my identity, and really embrace who I really am in Christ.


One area I have often not been responsive in, though I have made progress, is when I know God is tenderly asking me to get up very early to be with Him, and I choose to go back to sleep. 

    I want to be useful for whatever He would have me to do, I am not going to be if I am letting the lies take up residence in me.

    What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13?
    I can ask that He will so inflame my heart with love for Him that I won’t be deceived that sleep, or any earthly thing, is better.

    1. Chris, I have had wonderful victory in the area of getting up early. I say that because I found it to be m y most wonderful blessing. For quite a few years I have taken some time in the morning to pray or read the word. I got a lot out of it but was very frustrated because I often could not stay awake. I would end up with neck pain thinking I should have just stayed in the bed. Well now I have to leave home at 5am. For 2 years I thought it would be impossible to do my study questions in the morning but by the time I got home from work my brain was just too tired. Last fall I got inspired (somebody was praying) to add 10 min to my 15 that I already had carved out and do my study questions in the morning. It was wonderful! The questions kept me awake and God met me every morning. As the day wore on I would get bogged down and forget His word to me but still I had a wonderful start.
      I hope this inspires you and I will pray. Another thing I do is set my alarm 15min before I intend to get up and hit the snooze a few times. That doesn’t work for everyone but it does for me. If my husband was there he would not be able to tolerate it but he’s in the other room. He’s a big time snorer.

      1. Thank you Anne for this encouragement.
        The amount of time you set aside for your disciple is do able. Sometimes I make things too big, feeling like it needs to be an hour at least and very early, I make it overwhelming.
        I like that your is 25 minutes, that I can do.

        I have peri menopausal sleep issues. Sometimes I am awake in the night and seem only to begin to sleep soundly towards morning. That is often an ‘reason’ I give myself for not getting up. But when I do get up, I never seem feel the loss of sleep during the day. God supplies what I need when I come to Him.

  12. 3. Often we want to change to get rid of a bad habit that bothers us, but The Potter has much more in mind than that. Reflect: What change do you have in mind for yourself, and what change do you think The Potter has in mind?

    Wow, I can think of a whole list of changes that need to be made in me, including giving up long-held jealousies and resentments, having a critical tongue towards certain people, being ungrateful, unwilling to cooperate. I’m great at extending myself for people who love me and I love them, but it’s much harder for me to do the same for someone who I perceive doesn’t treat me as I “deserve”. I was really convicted in Keller’s sermon last week about serving others to meet my own needs, that I have to move-in to the Trinity before I move-out into other people’s lives. At my core, I desperately desire the love and approval of others and so I make them my “bottom line”, rather than God. That goes back to the Keller sermon on Paul and how for Paul, “for to me to live is Christ”…nothing could touch Paul’s “bottom line” because though he loved what he did and he loved his friends, they were not his life-Christ was his life. Because of my approval idol, I can have a very hard time making decisions and often look to others for their reactions to see if what I want to do is right.

    So what does The Potter want? I don’t want to claim that I know how He thinks but I would think that He wants me to be centered in Jesus Christ, to make Him my “bottom line”, and when I am utterly and weakly dependent upon Him, it is then that I will find true strength and wholeness and soundness of mind.
    Right now in my life, He is shaking and rattling my bottom lines, and I know they will be taken away. When I take my eyes off Him, I feel like with what is happening with my parents we’re on a runaway train heading for certain disaster. If I can’t rest my feet upon the solid Rock, I’ve got nothing to offer them to hold onto.

    1. Susan this is so honest. I know The Lord will meet you. I will pray for you. This flesh is so hard to kill. It just keeps coming back to life. Makes me think if our painting, the fire will kill it. I still struggle too, not with quite the same things but I just have not been able to get victory. I guess really it is the same thing. I am not treated as I ‘deserve’. Different symptoms, same disease.

      How is your father?

  13. 8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.
    It would mean holding all thoughts not of the Lord or inconsistent with the Lord’s truth captive…exposing them for the lies and sin they are, and “flushing them” appropriately while replacing them with His truth. It would mean being sensitive and obedient to the Lord’s promptings, even when “outside of my comfort zone” or seemingly odd.

    9. What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13?
    Lord, I know that You are working in me to give me the desire and power to do Your will…please help me in “whatever circumstance I don’t want to do” to change my attitude; give me a desire to be obedient, knowing that You will equip me to do Your will and trusting that Your plan is best.

  14. This is an excellent sermon by Jeffry White at Redeemer. Share your notes.

    God is at work, intimately involved in the details of my life. Often His ways are hidden, but He is faithfully working. Salvation rescued me to safety from sin and its consequences. Sin is anti-creation force and salvation is a recreation forces. He has rescued me to restore me. I am never so bad that I am beyond the reach of grace, yet never so good that I am beyond the need of grace.

    We think we are in charge of the change that must take place, but God is at work. My responsibility is to work out what God has put it—let it be manifested, change my ways to be in keeping with His law.

    We are set free from the fear of failure because God is at work in me. The formula of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility: God does 100%, we do 100%. He is sovereign, in control. But my choices matter. I am not a robot or a puppet, I am responsible for my response.

    Because God is always at work in me, I do not have to despair or lose hope. But I am also called not to be apathetic. Every day, when I look at the tasks before me, my response should be: ask Him for help with what He has called me to; expect Him to answer; thank Him for His help, seek pardon, ask for more help. It is a continual cycle of repentance and faith—seeking His help and responding in faithful obedience.

  15. 10. What is your take-a-way and why—I have a house guest coming tomorrow, so I’m finishing up early.

    I keep coming back to the “all things without grumbling”. I can be a grumbler. I often justify it by calling it ‘telling the truth’ about a situation. I’m not a candy-coater. I like to hear the blunt honest truth. I feel the need to address the truth of a given situation, however bleak, in order to accept it and move on. It’s part of my processing. The problem is, in my attempt to be “real” I can go a long way down the path of grumbling.

    In thinking through this command to not grumble, I was reminded that Jesus was no Pollyanna and that is not what He is calling me to be. Jesus never candy-coated pain. Lazarus’ death. Gethsemane. On countless occasions Jesus was “real’ about the darkness of a situation, and yet, He never grumbled. He turned to His Father. I can be honest and yet continue to have the trusting heart that Jesus showed at the Cross. I can ask my Father “if there is any other way…”, followed with “not my will but Yours, Lord”.

    1. Thanks for the sermon notes, elizabeth, and for your thoughts on Jesus not being a grumbler, but also not “candy-coating” the tough stuff of life. Have a good time with your house guest.

  16. 5. Some have thought Paul is telling us to work for our salvation, similar to Buddha who said “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Explain, from the context, why this is a false interpretation. How would this interpretation go against the gospel? – I do believe that I am the only one that can work out my own salvation with The Lord, but I also believe that you need others to direct you or hold you accountable to what the scriptures are saying. Everyone’s salvation is different and personal and God uses those that may be close to you to make you see where you are in error. Than it is up to me to take that constructive criticism to heart and make the necessary changes to bring me closer to The Lord

    6. A parallel passage is in the last chapter, Philippians 1:6. Listen to Steve Green sing it and let it permeate your heart and share reflections if you like. – WOW what a great song and the pictures they chose to go along with the lyrics made it that much more impenetrable to me. The cloud shaped like a heart shows his love for us, the grasp of the arm pulling me up from the murky waters is showing he will never leave me in a mess, the rainbow in the sky is our promise that just like the beautiful flowers that started from an ugly seed will become beautiful when he is done helping us grow. This verse is very helpful to me right now that I can cling to Jesus and his promises and have peace in my heart.

  17. 7. Read Philippians 2: in The Message and then share if you see anything new. – This passage is saying to me that it shouldn’t matter who is around, who sees what I’m doing because none of that matters. I should regardless be living my life in a Godly way all the time in every area and be content in knowing that God sees what I’m doing. He is the only one I should be trying to please and show my love to and in so doing I will be pleasing and loving others as God has instructed me to do.

    1. Julie–I really like what you see here. Great reminder to me that His eyes are the only ones that matter.

  18. I also really loved the picture of the potter and the clay. As I dropped my kids off at school, I prayed for their day and that He would mold them to be all He created them to be. And then I thought–I do not want MY fingerprints on them–I want HIS. I rest in that peace. His hand is stronger than mine, and He will correct the places mis-shapen by my attempts to control the outcome of my children.

    1. Wow Elizabeth! That is so beautiful and profound! Your children are indeed fortunate.

      1. thank you dear Anne. In the drawer of my bedside table, I have something you wrote almost a year ago…of the importance of focusing more on our children’s hearts than their outward behavior. I have been so blessed by your wisdom. So thankful you are here.

  19. Hey friends, just dropping in for minute….the dark clouds have set in…would like to request some prayer. I am seeking some new treatment options and need wisdom about which direction to go, any and all prayers that you could provide would be greatly appreciated! Will catch up when I can…it is wonderful to read your posts…thank you!

    1. Oh dear, Rhonda…you can count on my continued prayers. Thanks for checking in…take care, friend.

    2. I have missed you Rhonda–thankful you have come to ask for prayer.
      Dear Father, we lift up our sweet sister Rhonda to You now. Please be her comfort and guide in this storm she is facing. Thank You that You are at work. You are present with her in it, and You have a clear path for her. Please grant her wisdom Lord, open her ears to hear Your voice. Please protect her from the enemy’s lies. Hold her close. In Your Name~

    3. Praying that God will meet you in your dark clouds. Miss you, Rhonda. Amen to Elizabeth’s prayer.

    4. Will be praying for God to lead you.

    5. Will pray for you Rhonda

    6. Amen to Elizabeth’s prayer. Rhonda we love you and will miss you. You’re presence here has been so sweet. Please come back as soon as you can.

    7. Dear Rhonda, I am putting you in my prayer app for every day this week. Unless you sense a definite call away from us would you consider staying with us at least to check in so we know how to pray.

      1. Yes, Anne…I will. Today I keep thinking of the words in John 5…where Jesus says to the man at the pool of Bethesda. “Do you want to get well?” The answer seems obvious and my answer is YES but I am learning that some times that means you have to bite the bullet and go drastic. I want to be well more than anything…and I’m gonna let Him lead me in that. I try to get up on my feet and just haven’t been successful at maintaining the balance or duration. I know there is work to do…and I plan to do it…I just have to get through this obstacle..thank you all so much for your kind words and prayers…I will stay present!

    8. Missing your sunny posts Rhonda. Will pray for your choices to be right for you. Take care my friend.

    9. Rhonda,
      As I look at your lovely picture and your bright sunny smile, I hate to think of dark clouds over you! I’m sorry you’re going through a dark time and I will be praying for you. Your posts here are always so uplifting and encouraging to others…may God send those around you who will lift you up during this time…we’ll be doing that here, through prayer!

    10. Thank you all…you are all so dear!

    11. Rhonda, Sure! You got it-You are missed here! I will pray you sense His leading with the new treatment as to which option to take.

  20. 8. To live in responsive obedience, I have to be connected. It is response to the leading of the Spirit not a list of do’s and don’ts. That is so easy to do when we are in the honeymoon of being a new believer but we tend to complicate it with ’the rules’. The word simply in the first sentence of this passage stands out to me. It is simple but we complicate it by trying to ’grow up’. Wow. This is the maturity of the flesh, not the Spirit. True maturity is to remain childlike in many ways. Sorry for rambling but this is a lot to digest.

    Lord, help us to be reverent and sensitive to Your leading. Strengthen us with power in the inner woman through Your Spirit.

    9. If I do not want to do what the Spirit is leading me to to I can pray for God’s energy to will and work at what will give Him the most pleasure. In that moment, cry ’help’. My tendency in the moment is to look inward and never think to pray. I gaze on what is missing in me rather than what are the abundant riches of His glory.

    I love what JR said. It is so wise and so simple. It is important that he mentioned repentance for we must repent of our own willfulness.
    Dee, it was great to meet JR in the video. He is very well spoken.

    1. Anne,
      I like your whole answer to #9. “In that moment, cry ‘help'”. Yes – how often I, too, look inward, and only see what I lack. The truth is, if we rely on the Spirit, we truly lack nothing-He gives us everything-“the abundant riches of His glory”.

  21. 8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.

    This is interesting to mull over. I tell my children that if they follow goodness (God) instead of evil (devil) they will have joy in their lives. Their lives will be less complicated and difficult. They will spend less money and have peace in their beings. Life will be better for them.

    To be obidient you have to humble yourself a tad. Then you can be willing to listen so you can then respond. For some of us just getting to this point is the hardest part! Once we reach the listening phase we can respond accordingly. Sometimes our responding takes an effort we don’t wish to accomplish. We need to understand He is with us always even in the hard times. We shouldn’t be afraid, but pray for His help in following through with the task we don’t want to do.

    1. Will be listening and praying. Can’t wait.

    2. Praying for your live Midday program today, Dee!

      1. Me too! Sorry, I am not on Facebook — still holding out 🙂

    3. Dee, REALLY??? IDOL LIES!! WOW!! Oh you have to tell..about the amazing stuff! I so want to hear! 🙂 🙂

    4. Yes sisters, I hate to put my 2 cents in but wanted to encourage you-if you can go to FB and share that would so encourage Dee and the women listening who haven’t done the study yet. I have had emails come in where women heard testimonies and that encouraged them to get the book and do the study and God really met them there! 🙂

      1. I wish I could but I’m not on FB!

  22. 4. Read Philippians 2:12-14 in your own translation slowly. What stands out to you and why?

    “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for (because) it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”
    Just before this, Paul remarked that the Philippians have always obeyed – not just when Paul was around – but they continue to do so when he’s not there. Now he seems to be making a strong statement to them that they have God Himself living in them and that is to be their motivation to keep working out their salvation. I am thinking that “working out our salvation” may be cooperating with the Spirit as He molds, shapes us, making us holy …sanctification? And the “fear and trembling” – we should never lose the awe and wonder that God has made His home in us by His Spirit.

    5. Some have thought Paul is telling us to work for our salvation, similar to Buddha who said “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.” Explain, from the context, why this is a false interpretation. How would this interpretation go against the gospel?

    Paul doesn’t say “work for your salvation”, or “work to get/earn salvation”. He speaks of something we already possess by a gift from God. We are to work it out, but it is God who is working in us, showing that we are dependent upon God, who Scripture says is the author of our salvation. He writes the book, from beginning to end. Ephesians 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

  23. 8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.

    I think the picture Dee posted-“be born in us today” beautifully applies to this. 🙂 It truly is arresting! His energy in me willing and working out His good pleasure. He is the maker of the beautiful fruit and He is the Stonecutter. It is both hard and beautiful-like our life-there is suffering yet beauty and peace as He transforms us! Like God bringing life to dry bones, as Dee mentioned. I see the person in the picture in a fetal position-which means closed up and scared-yet letting Him do His work in her-He is faithful and will complete the work He has started in her. His radiance explodes out of her and it is more beautiful than her flesh-yes our sin nature/flesh is like a horror movie-creepy indeed but the horror-the ashes- He turns into beauty. 🙂

    What would that look like for me today?

    I looked up the word reverent and it means to be in awe-to love, worship and honor..So it means for me today to be reverent and sensitive to God’s promptings-in whatever area in life-whatever His desire is that bubbles up inside-to be sensitive to hear Him and then out of a heart of reverence to kneel down and obey.

  24. 9. What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13?

    I couldn’t wait to get to this question. J.R.’s testimony really impacted me. Of course I have to say first-He so reminds me of John! I am putting the pieces together of what Steve must have been like. Wow.

    J.R.’s testimony impacted me-as I got done listening I thought-so powerful with such few words. When I don’t want to obey-I don’t shrink back for fear of rejection from him, hallelujah I can move toward Him in reverence because I am His-and He is in me and He loves me unconditionally-He isn’t going anywhere. 🙂 If I go to Him as JR said and really mean it telling him I don’t really want to obey and that I need Him to will and work in me for His good pleasure-to align my heart with His-HE WILL! HE WILL DO IT! I think of that picture again-it might not be pretty as I lay there all ugly and chipped up in my ‘I don’t really want to obey’ state, but oh the beauty as His fire burns away these ugly pieces.

  25. Great sermon. Any change that takes place is His gift to you! Love that!
    Work out because it is God who works in you. His working is the cause of our working. Not 50/50. It is His work that underlies every aspect of the work we do. As we become more Christlike it is a gift of grace. God will change you. It is His gift and promise. If you belong to Him He is at work and you will change. If you are really His He will accomplish it. Maybe now or later. Change is always grace.

    NOT Working FOR your salvation. Let your new salvation come to expression. Let it be manifested. With the goal Jesus had. When realize God’s work underlies your work it gives great hope in effort you put in.

    God is in control and our choices matter. It is hard to mesh those together but it is both true.

    1. Angela, I had to explain this to my son yesterday who is struggling with some things..I have told him when we do things in our flesh-it is just hard to ‘just say no’..we can’t. It is good that He is sensitive to God’s conviction of his sin.
      Over and over I have told him that only Jesus can change him and he must go to Jesus, but this time-after hearing J.R.’s video-I told him when you go to Him you need to tell him you don’t want to obey him in this area and ask him to help you change, THEN trust that HE WILL change you, because HE WILL- you have to choose at the same time to obey-but trust Him to turn your heart against this sin. I also confessed I am learning to trust Him in this too-after all these years! 🙂
      It is just hard to communicate this to someone with Autism. 🙂

      1. I love when you share the conversations you have with your boys Rebecca, it is cool to see you walking out Deuteronomy 6:7:
        “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

  26. 8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today. – Responsive obedience sounds to me like doing what I feel The Lord is leading me to do RIGHT THAN. Not the next hour or next day, but as soon as I feel the tug I need to stop what I’m doing and follow that lead from God.

    9. What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13? – Lord I cry out to you in those times that I don’t heed your call or tug. Help me Lord at those times to remove myself from my inner being and let you be the center of my core. Help me to trust in you at all times and not in myself as my heart can be misleading when you are not the center of it. Thank you Lord for your guidance and love in Jesus name AMEN!

  27. Hello Dee and Friends,
    I’m sorry I haven’t been able to comment on the Bible Study because my mind is just in so many places right now. But the Word has been encouraging and I enjoy reading all comments by everyone. sincerely Phyllis.

    1. Thank you so much for the update, Phyllis…I have been praying frequently all day for Megan. I will continue to pray for her recovery and future treatment. You all take good care. Were you able to pray with her on Monday as you had hoped?

    2. Oh Phyllis, I’ll still be praying for dear Megan…what a awful long road for such a young person.

    3. Phyllis, I’m so sorry to hear all Megan is going thru but know that God is a healing God and will hear our cries for help. Will be lifting you all up to Him.

    4. Thank you for the update on Megan and will be praying for her recovery…yes, she does have a very hard road ahead.

    5. Praying that the medication will do just what it is supposed to do, and the Megan will be drawn to Christ as she fights this battle.

  28. Good news!

    Jay was discharged on IV fluids and IV medications every 6 hours, which Bridget and Travis are administering. Jay has to go to the clinic on a daily basis and Bridget and Travis are to stay in constant contact with Jay’s doctors. Jay, Bridget, and Travis are staying with family in the Milwaukee area. Praise God for this respite from the hospital and Jay’s encouraging progress.

    1. That is good news. Will continue to pray.

    2. Oh this is such good news Nanci, all that you shared about Jay seemed so overwhelming, I am praising God. So glad they are out of the hospital.

    3. Nanci, thank you for sharing the good news concerning Jay. We praise God for the direction in which things are moving. I will still continue to pray for him and all of you.

    4. Wonderful news Nanci! Still praying for him.

    5. Thank you dear Lord, for giving this earth stressed family respite from a very difficult situation. We cry help! Please help Jay’s condition to improve. Thank you for watching over him and his family during this challenging time. Thank you for the doctors who have helped him, and for strength for the family. I pray in Your Holy Name, Amen.

      1. Lovely prayer, Laura. Thank you to all for being “prayer warriors” for Jay and his family.

        1. So glad to hear this report Nanci will continue to pray for them…

  29. 7. Read Philippians 2: in the Message and then share if you see anything new.

    I feel like I’m seeing Paul’s heart for these people. He commends them for living in responsive obedience while he was living among them, but he is tenderly careful not to let them be dependent upon him…he wants them to depend upon God, and he gives God all the credit as being the One who is working in them and giving them the energy, the ability, to live God’s way. He doesn’t want them to flounder because he isn’t there or to think they can’t get along without Paul.
    I think this models what healthy Christian friendships are like. I should never seek to make someone dependent upon me, nor should I have that dependence upon a friend. We are to encourage, love, and support each other but always point each other to Christ.

    8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience”? Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.

    Thoughts not yet clear on this….thinking about the difference between responding (throughout my day to circumstances) and reacting. Reacting means not seeing God in the midst, defending myself, trying to fix my own problems, live life on my own power. Reacting is haphazard. On the other hand, being responsive means having to pay attention to the presence of God, looking to Him first for advice and direction, having a soft heart that desires His leading, seeing myself under His protective care at all times, keeping the lines of communication open between me and God. It means listening, asking the Holy Spirit for help, guidance, direction, dealing with sin quickly instead of my usual sweeping it under the carpet-I’ll deal with it later…
    Rich metaphors in Scripture that can help are a bride (me) being responsive to my Bridegroom (Jesus) and letting Him lead me, or making myself like a small child, reaching for my Father’s hand.

    1. Love the analogy of the bride and bridegroom Susan! Thanks for the image.

  30. This is an excellent sermon by Jeffry White at Redeemer. Share your notes.

    *Transformation does not come about merely by human will, it requires God’s work. God is in charge of change…His work underlies EVERY aspect of the work we do.

    *God is at work and He will accomplish His work of change and growth regardless of our level of awareness.

    *”Sin” is an anti-creation force…dehumanizing and enslaving.
    “Salvation” is a re-creation force; rescue from a state of misery.

    *The sole basis of salvation is Jesus’ work (sacrifice) on the cross (plus nothing).

    *Christian life is initiated by God’s grace and His grace continually sustains and keeps us in a state of acceptance.

    *We are never so bad that we are out of reach of God’s grace; we are never so good that we are beyond the need of God’s grace.

    *We work out what God has worked in…we rely on God, but give our full effort…we are called to God dependent effort.

  31. 9. What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13?

    This question really hits the mark for me – a very wise, mature, godly friend of mine once said that it isn’t a question of (in regards to obedience to God) “I can’t” – it’s really saying, “I won’t” (in other words, “I don’t want to”). When I think of how good God is, how loving towards me, it makes the reality of my heart all the more uglier – that often, I simply do not want to obey. I can think of times when, during an argument with my husband, I was harsh, and later, when asking God’s forgiveness, having to honestly tell Him, “I know I was wrong but honestly I don’t FEEL sorry right now”.

    I think I am beginning to understand this: “We can resist Him or yield to Him”. He is there, working in me, binding me with His cords of love. My prayer, then, should be for Him to melt my heart more and more, to love Him and desire Him above everything else, to see Him as my Hero, my Bridegroom, the Lover of my soul. Only this will counter my wanting to throw-off the yoke that I see as restricting me. How foolish, though, that what I often consider “freedom” is really a journey into bondage and misery.

    1. Yes, Dee, Midday Connection went very well! I wasn’t able to listen to it live, but listened to it this morning. I should have waited a bit to try to listen, as I didn’t know you were going to give the link, and I had to work just a tad to come up with it on my own. Next time I will be able to do it quicker! 🙂 I was very struck by your comment about the “persecuted church in prison.” I would not welcome religious persecution, but I can see the silver lining; perhaps some of our churches have it a bit too good for their own good at times.

  32. Lovely read on (in)courage by Ann Voskamp…

    1. Dee, so good-His life in those imprisoned vs. His life in us outside the walls-how that so relates to this week’s study and sermon. I don’t have that amount of LIFE but I can be glad that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.

      You put so well in such few words what I was babbling in ‘excitement’ to my husband on the phone this morning after i heard the sermon..my poor husband. ;~)

    2. So good Dee. The church in prison stands way out to me. I see a tent going up and some of your poles within it.

  33. Sermon Notes:

    How do we change: What is true is we always bend to God-He doesn’t bend to us. When we go to try to break a habit-we end up finding we needed a painful renovation of our entire character. Maybe you can change a small area in your life, but according to the scriptures-if you are trying to change one habit you are far too low. We all need a radical transformation of our whole character. More than our effort-but only God can do it.

    If we are going to change deeply, radically-God needs to be at work in our lives
    aware that God is in us and continue to work in our lives we are called to strive to change as well-God is at work and we are at work.

    Sin is the anti-creation force. It seeks to destroy God’s good creation. The energy at work in our own lives that causes us to take God’s place, and does great damage in our lives. It enslaves us, dehumanizes us. Sin becomes sins own punishment.

    When we come to know Jesus He implants His spirit in our hearts-it is initiated completely by GOd’s own favor-a gift to us. We did nothing. The Cross plus nothing.

    We can easily tend to say: God has initiated the Christian life for me so now it is up to me to remain in His acceptance-but that isn’t Grace. God’s grace sustains me and keeps me in His acceptance regardless of what I do.

    We often believe that the continual growth and change is our work. We are in charge of the change that is meant to take place in our lives. I can’t imagine a worse person to be in charge-me. I have seen how weak my own will is, how many times I fail. Even though I know what the right thing is to do I run in the other direction. That isn’t what this passage teaches. God is in charge of the changes in our life. It says-work out your salvation because it is God who works it out in you. It is His work that underlies every aspect of the work that we do. He works all the way. It is justification and also sanctification.

    God WILL change us-it is His gift and His promise. You can’t thwart his purposes. If you really are His He will accomplish it-maybe now or maybe later. It is by Grace, under Grace.

    When you realize God’s work underlies your work then you rely on Him more.

    The bad neighborhood in Baltimore example: They had the confidence to go into that neighborhood because they believed God was already at work there so they trusted Him that great things could happen. IT was only because they believed God was already at work that his work underlined every aspect of their work. That sets you free from the fear of failure as you try to change.

    Work out your fear with trembling and fear-with a sense of respect and awe that God is already at work in you-tremble at the amazing things going on inside you-the very spirit of God lives in you. Stand before that reality of reverence and awe and live in keeping with that of the amazing things He is doing in me.

    God does 100% of the work and we do 100% of the work. Not 50-50. God is sovereign-but it also teaches that man is responsible, that your choices matter-that it makes a difference. We aren’t robots or puppets. We are real human beings who make choices. It prevents us from falling into despair when we are having a hard time changing in an area because we know God is at work regardless.

    There may be habits and things I want to do differently and I am not sure when I will experience deliverance, but don’t lose hope-God is at work in me. Don’t say, God will break that habit when he breaks it and in the mean time I will indulge-God says to work out your salvation with fear and trembling..But that is it-the more we work at it the more obvious it is that He is in us.

    When we look at the duties we have for the day-we pray and ask God for help in accomplishing those duties understanding apart from Christ we can do nothing fruitful.

    It is a cycle of prayerful God dependent effort. Pray for the tasks ahead and ask God for help in getting them done. Thank God for help received-seek pardon for where I have failed and ask God for more help in the next task in front of me-the pattern of our life. That is how change is wrought. We are called neither to self reliant activity-not praying at all, we would be activists, nor are we called to God reliant passivity. We are called to God dependent effort. We can’t rely on our-self, we need to rely on Grace. We need the life of God in us-Him to give it to you if you are going to change.

  34. Excellent sermon! Sharp with truth.
    As I listened it occurred to me that my choices are a framework for God’s work in my life. I see a tent going up, growing, bumping up here and there as poles go up from the inside. The framework is made up of my choices. They are only sticks but God breathes life on them and there is the awe that brings fear and trembling as I watch what He will do with my dry bones.

    10. My take away is really a question for myself. Do I want to live in the swamp of choices that indulge the flesh, or do I want to begin a framework for God’s glory to be revealed in my life and the world around me?

  35. 10. My takeaway: Walking in faith today that He WILL complete His work in me-that He IS working in me and I see now what this passage means by trembling in awe of Him in me-and know that maybe not now, but at some point He will complete His work in me so I don’t need to get discouraged. Not meaning for me to be passive, but it is a cycle of prayerful God dependent effort.

    Also, as I am sensing God’s leading in helping the poor-I am praying for sensitivity to Him on timing.

    Lord, sharpen my sensitivity to you today as I walk with you, as I make choices. Forgive me for I don’t often fall on my knees in awe of you in me-of the work you are doing in me-I don’t, but am thankful because of the cross I haven’t lost your approval and that nothing I do will lose your favor and approval of me. Thank you..Help me to hold this day ahead of me in prayerful dependence on you as I work, as I make choices, as I go to my dad’s get together at his home. Remind me of the reality that you are at work at my dad’s life and you are at work in the City Union Mission and you are at work in me and you will complete it. Thank you for Grace-Thank you that my growth is fueled by you-thank you that you are in charge and not me-remind me of this today.

  36. So, I listened to the sermon today. It does speak a lot to reliance and responsibility. In my time away, time of reflection and contemplation. I have come to some conclusions. The sermon was helpful as a confirmation. I have new life and I am FREE in the work that God has done and is doing in my life, are there situations where I feel bound by circumstances…YES…but that isn’t the reality in the Kingdom. In the sermon he said, “Let the new life come to expression, let it be manifested” to me this statement speaks of VOICE…I think as I have attempted to engage on this blog, I have done just that…and frankly, this latest episode of heaviness has been nothing but a direct attack of the enemy based on my forward movement. I cannot tell you how painful it has been the last few weeks (especially since I have started engaging publicly). The fear has continually been creeping in, a belief that my vulnerability would once again make me a target. It has been debilitating for me. But I do not want to live there…I am FREE…and God has been and is working out my salvation both through my reliance and through my responsibility. I realize that I still have work to do in regard to healing…learning how to put the past behind me and entrust that to God. I know part of that is being still and another part is being active, I am praying for wisdom to know how to incorporate both into my life. I am very grateful for your prayers. Standing up and stepping forward is so incredibly hard for me, yet I also ache when I stay seated…it is a painful paradox and it will require a life and strength and power beyond my own. In my own strength…I am weak…His strength is my only hope!

    1. Rhonda, glad to hear you are still moving forward. I understand how “standing up and steeping forward is so incredibly hard.” Do not believe Satan’s lies. When he lies he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies. God’s strength is our only hope and He has set us free. I will continue praying.

      1. I have to add one more thing that I am learning here that…there are levels of healing. I think there is a level that allows you to do daily life. Then there is a level that allows you to move further into calling and the freedom of abundant life. I am seeing that there is healing that comes for both placements…I’m somewhere in the middle of those two right now. I came to this realization this morning….it is life long process!

        1. Yes, a lifelong process to levels of healing. I too am functioning, but service and joy are a difficult stretch right now. Did I mention how much I have missed you? I know your situation and mine are very different, but we seem to speak the same language.

        2. Yes, we do…I think pain and hurt takes many different forms but it is common to all (various trials) and with it comes many of the same life lessons experiences, etc… I do find that kinship in you! I have missed you too! Missed you all!

      1. Thank you for the prayers Dee…this battle requires the full armor of God for sure…

  37. Jeremiah 20:9 –
    But if I say, “I will not mention his word
    or speak anymore in his name,”
    his word is in my heart like a fire,
    a fire shut up in my bones.
    I am weary of holding it in;
    indeed, I cannot.

  38. There was a lot to be gained by the study this week. I began by gaining an awareness that every decision I make is important, coming from the C.S. Lewis quote:

    “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature….”

    But I will take comfort in the knowledge that “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.”

    I am starting to have some serious computer problems, so if I disappear for several days, you will know that is what got me! 😀 It has something to do with a Java plug-in (I don’t understand that) and it is not letting me edit or change what I write, among other things!

  39. Friends, just want to ask for continued prayer. We have had a discouraging set back in efforts to regain custody of the boys. We do not understand what God is doing. It is hard to sing in the dark, yet I believe that God is at work and He knows what He is doing. “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” This is true even when the good work is hard to see because the evil is so obvious.

    I was encouraged by the example in the sermon of the man with a sexual addiction who prayed for 10 years to be freed and God was silent until the 1000th request. “Always pray and never lose heart.” Luke 18:1 Lord, give me the strength and hope to do this.

    1. Lord, You know my strength is weak today but I am grateful that supernatural movement doesn’t depend upon me. I ask on behalf of Diane and her family (and especially the boys)…finish what You started, please finish what You started…

    2. I’m so sorry Diane…I’m praying

    3. Diane–I was so thankful for that part of the sermon as well–it is hope, He is always listening, always working. Oh how I continue to pray for you all. I am so sorry.

    4. Thanks, ladies, for your continued prayer and concern, for seeking the Lord together with me. It is hard to keep asking for prayer with no visible progress to report. I trust God is working behind the scenes, but I am discouraged. I spent some of yesterday reading articles and listening to sermons online about how to deal with waiting and found this good article by Paul Tripp.

      God’s Will for Your Wait (Part 1)

      Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plans for us to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future. I cling to that Hope.

  40. Just wanted to check in with you all. I’ve been a little off these past couple of weeks. So much going on around here, fortunately good but busy. Plus we have had trouble with the computer too. But I have been following and listening to the sermon and hopefully I’ll be back on track soon. I could use some suggestions though. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a study that takes so much thought and I think I’m getting overwhelmed. I’ll take 2 days to be thinking about one question and then come on and see 50 more posts and I’ll try to read your posts and then realize I don’t have time to write my own. So I end up days behind! So I feel like giving up. I’m sure this is the enemy attacking since he does not want me to grow but how do some of you do this? I get up early anyway to spend quiet time with God. I’d appreciate your help.

    By the way, Dee, thanks for your suggestion of The Blessing. I was able to get it from the library and it has been so helpful.

    1. Jill, I definitely hear you…I struggle to keep up too! I don’t know if you have this luxury but I have been taking a period of time(usually ends up being Sunday afternoons) and kinda, sorta work through the questions, giving my initial responses. I then save that in a word file (as an overview) and as the week unfolds go back and revisit the questions based on the days of the week, adding any additional thoughts or just cutting and pasting if nothing else additional comes to mind. It seems to let me work the brunt of the information out as a chunk (getting a large overview of the whole study) and then only having bite sized pieces to work with during the week. I don’t know if that makes sense to you but it has helped me cut down on the intensity during the week so I can focus a bit more on some of the posts that are more personal in nature.

      1. Thanks Rhonda. That makes a lot of sense. I will give it a try this week.:)

  41. Rhonda…so glad that you are checking-in…you are missed; I will continue to pray for your peace and discernment.

    Diane…so sorry to hear of the set-back regarding Krista and custody of the boys…:( I will continue prayers for you all. Any news on the job front for Krista and/or Joel?

    10. My takeaway:
    I really (REALLY) needed the reminder that God is at work despite our level awareness and to hear that He underlies ALL aspects of our work… I am SO VERY thankful that God is control.

  42. 7. Read Phil 2 in the Message and see if you see anything new.

    The word that jumps out at me is energy. I think of life, alive, action. Real faith has energy to it and that is shown in energetic service. For me, I can do something because I think I should rather than it is what God wants me to do. Then my service becomes draining, not full of energy.

    8. What would it mean for you to live in “responsive obedience?” Ask the Lord what that would look like for you today.

    For me, it means doing what the Spirit tells me to do without reasoning and pondering. I have a big tendency not to believe what is in front of me. I often think, “Oh that can’t be the whole story” or “That’s not what they mean”. Then I spend time trying to figure out what may be behind what I’ve seen. I think Rhonda has used the term conditioning and that is probably true for me. I grew up in a family where communication was not open and honest, where you were told what the other person wanted you to hear. So I accept that the past but God wants me to trust Him. He will not lead me into confusion. I can feel in my heart that God wants me to do something but then I jump to, “He can’t mean that. I wonder what He really means.” Oh Lord, help me to trust Your voice. Like the sheep know their shepherd’s voice and follow, let me come to know and trust Your voice and follow what you tell me to do.

    9. What if you do not want to do what His Spirit leads you to do? How could you pray verse 13?

    Again, I can reason myself out of doing what I may not want to do. Abba, forgive my doubts and fears. Forgive my wanting to protect myself. Fill me with your Spirit and lead me in your way. Show me what you want me to do and where you want me to go. Fill me with the courage to obey and the desire to obey.