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THE CHRISTIAN’S SECRET OF A JOYFUL LIFE (The Gospel According to Philippians)

REMEMBER HOW YOU FELT THE LAST TIME YOU GOT GREAT NEWS?

 

YOU GOT THE JOB!

Got-the-job

YOU FOUND THE MAN!

black-couple-wedding

YOU LOST THE WEIGHT!

2SCALE

 

We as children of God have news that outshines all earthly treasures. We have something that can never be taken from us. The one true God left paradise for us. He stumbled to His throne for us. We are His beloved. He woos, He wins, and one incredible day He is coming back to wed. He will put to death all enemies of His children and take us to be with Him forever.

I never tire of Martin French’s drawings. This is my favorite, and when Kathy Troccoli and I commissioned him to draw this one from Revelation 19 for Forever in Love with Jesus, he was hesitant, feeling it was too holy to try to catch. But finally he felt free and it always takes my breath away, and helps me believe: this is true, this is really going to happen. Just as He came to earth as a baby, just as He rose from the dead, just as He ascended into heaven, He is also coming back.

What can change us into joyful Christians? Believing the Gospel not only for forever, but for the here and now.

believing-the-gospel

Philippians 2:5-11 is a passage so worth your time in memorizing. Pastor Henry Brandt told his grandchildren that if they could recite it word perfect every time he came, he would give them five dollars. He knew it was one of those passages that had life-transforming power. This week’s passage is the peak mountain of Philippians.  It will help you gaze into the gospel and believe His love for you. It’s an important week to be with Him. The Christian’s secret of a joyful life? Believing the Gospel for the here and now. As we do that, His mind will be in us, we will look to the interests of others, and we will see rivalry fade. We, with His Spirit unquenched, though we will know sorrow, will also experience unquenchable joy.

Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?
2.  What is some of the best earthly news you have ever received? Do you remember how you felt when you knew it was true?

Monday/Wednesday Bible Study: The Mountain Peak of Philippians (Philippians 2:5-11)

mountainpeak
Philippians 2:6-11 is the mountain peak of this beautiful letter

3. Using your imagination, what do you think it was like for Jesus before He emptied Himself of His rights, when He was with God the Father and God the Spirit in heaven.

4. According to verses 6-7, what was Jesus like before He came to earth, and what did He do in order to come to earth and be with us?

When we are told He emptied Himself, it is important to know He did not empty Himself of His Deity, but of His rights. In the Greek, as Keller will emphasize, it is “being God, He also became human.”

5. According to verse 8, how did Christ further humble Himself?

6. Christ went from the highest to the lowest. In what ways was a crucifixion the greatest humiliation?

7. What was the one thing that the Lord did not have that made Him willing to make such a sacrifice?

J. D. Greear writes, in his book, Gospel:

Every day Jesus says to us, “You are My Beloved child. I am well pleased with you. Now live that way.” Satan, on the other hand, says, “Look at you. Look at the condition of your circumstances. Look at how poorly you’re living . There is no way you are God’s beloved child. Which voice are you going to believe?

ACTION ASSIGNMENT:

Today, silence the voice of the enemy with the voice of truth each time he hisses at you.  Come back here and report, at the end of the day, if you  did this and how it impacted you.

Report:__________________________________________________________________________________

8. According to Philippians 2:9-11, what has God the Father therefore done for God the Son? How is this a return to the highest position?

9. What name is given now to Jesus? (Find it in verse 11.)

The initiative for exalting Jesus was all on the part of the Father. The “gave” is “freely gave” (echarisato)

10. To understand what verses 10-11 mean, read Isaiah 45:23-24 and explain the passage.

The emphasis of this passage however, is not exaltation over His enemies, but that Christ will be LORD over all creation.

11. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage.

Thursday/Friday  Listen to the free Keller Sermon. Share your thoughts and answer the following questions (LINK).

12. Keller talks about the “earthiness of God.” We do not have a far off God, but a God to whom matter matters. He made a man out of dirt. He humbled Himself and took on a human body. He had a real resurrected body. There are going to be real bodies, real music, and real food in heaven. There are many applications of this to us. Consider:

A. The earthiness of life matters to God, and we can lift our mundane earthy chores of washing dishes, changing diapers, and digging in the garden to Him in thanksgiving. Does this permeate your life? Explain.

B. Because matter matters to God, He is concerned about the poor, the hungry, and the hurting. If we have the mind of Christ, so should we. Is this growing in your life? Explain.

C. Because matter matters, in heaven we will have real bodies, real food, real trees — comment on this.

13. Because Jesus was also fully God, people always had extreme reactions to Him. (John Stott) They were never “lukewarm.” Open your Bible to a Gospel and give an example.

14. What other notes do you have that you’d like to share?

Saturday

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

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355 comments

  1. This is a test. I changed my cookie setting and now am having trouble posting.

    1. It’s working Diane

  2. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? I will never get tired of seeing that picture of Jesus. I love it. It reminds me that His alone is vengeance He will see justice play out on the earth in His time.
    2. What is some of the best earthly news you have ever received? Do you remember how you felt when you knew it was true? Well I love that little man is ours! It was a high. 🙂 But I know God was in it all along. Waiting is hard but best!

    Just got to finish last weeks Keller sermon, so very good. Thank you for referring it to us!

  3. 3. Using your imagination, what do you think it was like for Jesus before He emptied Himself of His rights, when He was with God the Father and God the Spirit in heaven. Wow! Hard one here. He was in a perfect relationship filled with love. He had all power, glory, everything.

    4. According to verses 6-7, what was Jesus like before He came to earth, and what did He do in order to come to earth and be with us? Though He had all things He did not see a need to cling to that.

    When we are told He emptied Himself, it is important to know He did not empty Himself of His Deity, but of His rights. In the Greek, as Keller will emphasize, it is “being God, He also became human.”

    5. According to verse 8, how did Christ further humble Himself? obedience to God and humbled Himself to a criminals death on a cross. Criminal’s death for the perfectly innocent.

    6. Christ went from the highest to the lowest. In what ways was a crucifixion the greatest humiliation? almost naked, hung before all others, mocked, shamed, Horrible. Not suitable for human beings.

    7. What was the one thing that the Lord did not have that made Him willing to make such a sacrifice? A perfect people. A perfect love in them. A perfect holiness in them. All broken when sin entered in. Now restored as He was broken.

  4. ACTION ASSIGNMENT:

    Today, silence the voice of the enemy with the voice of truth each time he hisses at you. Come back here and report, at the end of the day, if you did this and how it impacted you.

    Report: I hadn’t really heard from my “friends” at work since I’ve been off other than a one sentence text from my “best” friend that pretty much said glad you’re getting help but I don’t want to hear the details.

    And I had called the friend that I carpool with to let her know that I wasn’t going to be at work for a while and when I didn’t hear back from her I started thinking of how she must be sick of me and glad that I’m not going to be there and that I really am nothing to anyone, things along those lines, but then I started taking my thoughts under control with the truth. She never said those things or even implied them. The first part of Philippians 4:8 says “…whatever is true…” Was what I was thinking true? No. I know that I am loved and accepted by God and that I mean so much to him that Jesus died for me so am I nothing to anyone? No. I kept this up all day (and will continue to) and I’ll tell you I have had peace and calmness that I haven’t had in a long time. Plus my carpool friend did call me back both at home and when I didn’t answer, on my cell 🙂

    1. That’s a great report, Dawn MS. Good job fighting the voice of the enemy with the truth!

    2. I love this Dawn! Gospel Transformation of your thinking!

      I wrote this down in class last night:
      ‘the lies we believe fuel our behavior and impact our relationships’

      I am prone to negative assumptions, thinking I know what others are thinking and feeling (mostly bad stuff about me)
      After that Keller Spiritual Warfare sermon, I have been more willing to come against the lies in my thought life. I realize too when I succumb to it how useless I am, I am so caved in on myself I can’t see other people at all.

      I feel really joyful for this in you Dawn!

      1. Chris, I could’ve written what you wrote myself-I do the same thing and am prone to making negative assumptions, thinking that I know what others think about me (that they don’t like me, think I’m stupid, etc…) and yes, when I give in to it, I’m so down on myself I can’t see others at all.

    3. Still praying for you Dawn

    4. Dawn this is great! Such a wonderful breakthrough! I am praying for continued victory. Your Love by Brandon Heath is a good song to sing to yourself. I think it’s Brandon Heath.

      1. I like that song, Anne.

    5. Dawn, great job at replacing those lies with the truth of God’s love!

    6. Dawn, This is HUGE for you..and an big encouragement to me to see Him moving in you with truth and you obeying and bending to him-believing the truth over the lies..I am learning just how destructive the lies from the evil one can be-these little seeds can blow up and cause devastation inside..but yesterday you believed the truth that you are loved-DEEPLY LOVED by God-beyond any love we experience by flawed humans. So to cling to His approval and love is believing ‘whatever is true’..So good. WHen I think of the enemy being a murderer and a liar-I am starting to see just how he murders-from the inside out-tormenting us with his lying hisses and most times it is hard to pick up on-I am finding more and more how CRUCIAL it is that I hide His word in my heart-take refuge there in His Word.

    7. Oh Dawn, this is a battle report…and you are walking into the battle in truth…beautiful!

    8. Dawn, remember when you feel the evil one’s attacks…you are probably on the right track with God.

    9. Good job, Dawn!…way to turn the thoughts of the accuser away and turn to the Lord. Yeah to peace and calm!

  5. 3. Using your imagination, what do you think it was like for Jesus before He emptied Himself of His rights, when He was with God the Father and God the Spirit in heaven.

    Supposedly it was a state of heavenly perfection, the trinity was functioning as one, and there was no pain or sorrow, only joy.

    4. According to verses 6-7, what was Jesus like before He came to earth, and what did He do in order to come to earth and be with us? Jesus was equal with God and the Holy Spirit. In order to come to earth, he emptied himself of his rights, he took human form and became like a servant. He didn’t give up his deity, however.

    5. According to verse 8, how did Christ further humble Himself? He became obedient unto death — dying for our sins so we would not have eternal death.

    6. Christ went from the highest to the lowest. In what ways was a crucifixion the greatest humiliation? Crucifixion was reserved for the worst of criminals. Jesus was sinless, blameless, and did not deserve to be punished at all, much less in such a cruel and demeaning way.

  6. 3. Using your imagination, what do you think it was like for Jesus before He emptied Himself of His rights, when He was with God the Father and God the Spirit in heaven.
    It is very hard for me to imagine even though I have some description of the glory of heaven in the Bible. I think it was much harder for Him to be separated from the Father than to leave the glory. Even on the cross He uttered no cry against the physical pain, at least none that is recorded. He was lead as a lamb to the slaughter. His spoken agony was to being forsaken by the Father.

    My mind is overwhelmed with trying to imagine this relationship. I think that our relationship with Him can be very similar.

    I think the relationship was pure joy in creation but marred by the fall and separation from man. And the love-I can’t even imagine. The love that brought Him to us and to the cross. My heart swells with it…

  7. 4. According to verses 6-7, what was Jesus like before He came to earth, and what did He do in order to come to earth and be with us?

    He was all God yet in the image of man. He was humble.

    5. According to verse 8, how did Christ further humble Himself?

    He emptied Himself of His deity. He endured all the suffering we deserve, and submitted to death on the Cross so that we might have the life only He deserves.

    6. Christ went from the highest to the lowest. In what ways was a crucifixion the greatest humiliation?

    He is King. He is Lord. He is God. Yet He was crucified as the worst of sinners because of His deity, and because He loved us.

    7. What was the one thing that the Lord did not have that made Him willing to make such a sacrifice?

    I may not be answering this correctly, but the question drew me to v. 3-4—His mind lacked selfish ambition or vain glory. He did not think only of Himself, but of us.
    It is hard to admit how often I listen to the voice that calls attention to my imperfect circumstances. I do know that I am His and that He loves me, but so often I let my circumstances weigh heavier on my heart than His truth.

    1. Elizabeth, it is so hard when the circumstances are so heavy. Praying for you now.

    2. Oh Elizabeth, you are carrying quite the load….prayers are with you friend!

    3. You put your finger on it right here, Elizabeth, “…but so often I let my circumstances weigh heavier on my heart than His truth”. That is our struggle, isn’t it? And when we do that, we feel that heaviness, too.

  8. ACTION ASSIGNMENT
    I was tempted to skip this one, but Dawn’s example inspired me to be honest. The enemy’s voice today has been more of a yell than a hiss. I feel very overwhelmed. We’re still dealing with some hard “stuff” with each child—though “for some reason” I feel slightly less entrapped/worried about all of it—so that’s good! But in the last week we decided to willingly add a bit more stress to life and put our house on the market. I won’t list all the “to-do’s” that have suddenly been thrown on me, all while my husband is on a work trip—but I have that feeling I get when things are so chaotic—-I am afraid. It’s why I don’t like the ocean as much as a lake. I feel overwhelmed and out of control, and the enemy is saying I will crumble. I will break. My pain will come back even worse. I can’t do it. I can’t I have said that at least 25 times today. So when I read this question, I thought—aha! It’s him—the enemy. But God speaks too–He speaks truth to me, if I do not give attention to the enemy and listen for the still quiet voice. God knows that for me to be conformed to His likeness, I need interruptions in my perfectly planed chaos-free life. He continues to break down my attempts at peace-my-way.

    I will call upon these truths:
    Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

    1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

    1. Elizabeth, Your scriptures are fabulous! Yes! We will pray and we will watch.
      Lord, I pray that You will enable Elizabeth to leave this problem with You. Lead her into each thing that she needs to do, one at a time and at a pace she can handle. Help her to focus on You and on the next thing, not the whole problem. We rely on You completely Lord and rejoice in what You will do for we know it will be far better than anything we can think or ask, much less do.

    2. Elizabeth you picked a couple of powerful verses. Lean on God and take it moment by moment…don’t be anxious for tomorrow or sad for the past…God is holding your hand right now! You are so loved here…I’m praying for you sweet one.

    3. Oh Elizabeth, yes, your plate is very full…with your children and now putting your house up for sale. And in a way, when you say, “I can’t do it”, you are right, and then you feel overwhelmed and out of control. I think that is how we feel when we look at the mountain in front of us and think how can I get over it and then we conclude, “I can’t do it”. But…thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone-we have One who gladly shares our burdens. Here’s another verse for you:

      “Come to me, Elizabeth, when you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
      Praying for you, too.

    4. Elizabeth-have already and will pray for you-life is so hard and you have a lot to deal with but it encourages me to hear “though “for some reason” I feel slightly less entrapped/worried about all of it—so that’s good!” God is molding you through the trial with your children..each trial, each day-He is with you each step of the way and doesn’t leave when you stumble. 🙂 So glad you were aware of the enemies lie but turned away and listened to His quiet voice. So true what you said-interruptions are necessary for God to conform us to His likeness, and it is also true that it can be a painful, yet a beautiful process. You are such a gift.

    5. Elizabeth, like I told Dawn above, if the evil one is attacking, you probably on the right track with God.

      1. Joyce–you are filled with “nuggets of gold”. I am SO thankful for you. Your words always bring peace to my heart.

    6. thank you ALL for the prayers and encouragement. I felt like a bit of a squeaky wheel, but you all helped me refocus on truth. My one child with some health related issues is doing much better, I feel really day-at-a-time-ish, but today all is well, and I have not run the path a fear anymore–which is a miracle itself! My other child with more spiritual-heart related stuff–hope there too from some changes in the last few days–finally! And my husband canceled his trip (on his own!) minutes after Anne’s prayer 🙂 so…while I am being stretched for sure, it’s been a rough 2 years especially–I feel Him with me, answering that long-ago prayer to be molded into who He created me to be. I didn’t expect it this way, so uncomfortable, but as Becca said, I need to just hold His hand, release all to Him–not try to control, manipulate or fix!

  9. 4. Jesus existed in the form of God but instead of using that for His own gain, He emptied Himself and took on the form of a slave.

    5. He became a slave obedient to death, the most humiliating of deaths.

    6. This has been well covered. The only thing I would add is that death is always humiliating. It is ugly, always, and on a cross it was slow and He was elevated where all could watch. Not only that but many enjoyed it, taunting Him. It makes me so sad.

  10. 6. Crucifixion was the greatest humiliation in that it was a most public display of the crimes one committed and the punishment delivered. It was torture and the purpose of prolonging the torture and pain added to the shame. It was further humiliating because the friends and family were often present to endure harassment as an extension of the shame. Christ had to witness his loved ones, His earthly family mocked based on their relationship with Him. I have been in situations were I was accused of something I was innocent of and I felt so frustrated and embarrassed. I wanted to scream “I am innocent” and attack those who attacked me. I have also witnessed my children wrongly being blamed for something, feeling so helpless.
    Christ bore our sins and guilt as His own. He didn’t just say “I am innocent and wrongly accused”- He took my sins and as He spread His arms to take the nails in his hands He loved me and loves me like no one but my perfect God could. What an amazing gift I have been given. He took on my humiliation, my separation from our Father God, in order so I can be in a relationship with Him. I am always amazed and overwhelmed thinking of this.

  11. Just wanted to share something that struck me today… My husband has been trying to help me though my emotional low and I looked at him through tear filled eyes and said “dear one, stop talking and just hold my hand”. Immediately after saying it I felt God repeating that to me… I keep praying for this or that to happen and I needed reminded that I just need to cling to His hand and give it over without trying to control, manipulate or fix anything. Oh how silly I feel when I catch myself telling God how to fix my life that I royally messed up on my own! On Good Friday my church had an amazing prayer service where the sanctuary was open and communion was available, a cross was on the altar with post it notes for us to write our burdens and lay them on the cross. What a freeing experience, I need to do that daily not just on certain occasions.

    1. That’s a very good idea Becca…hope your feeling better.

    2. I like this bit of wisdom Becca…sometimes the best thing to do is “stop talking and just hold His hand”…thank you for the reminder…

    3. This verse came to mind as I read your post, Becca, “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
      It also sounds like you have a very caring, understanding husband who tries to help you feel better!

  12. Answered prayer: my medical leave was approved. Thank you, God!!

    1. Wonderful Dawn!

    2. Yes! Thank You Lord! 🙂 So glad to hear this Dawn….

    3. Oh thank you, Lord, for answering prayers for Dawn!

    4. this is such an answered prayer Dawn–wow! So encouraging to see how you are submitting in humility, letting Him mold you through your pain–such beauty in your heart. I am thankful you have shared with us, it’s really been encouraging for me to see Him working so strong in your life.

  13. 7. What was the one thing that the Lord did not have that made Him willing to make such a sacrifice? I would say “sin”; that is why he was the “unblemished lamb” capable of making atonement for our sins.

    I should have looked ahead and noticed the action assignment, but didn’t. I will try that for tomorrow, so for now I have to skip that and come back to it later.

    8. According to Philippians 2:9-11, what has God the Father therefore done for God the Son? Exalted him to the highest place.

    How is this a return to the highest position? God the Son began at the right hand of God the Father, and so when he was exalted, it was a “return” to the place He had left when He came to earth.

    9. What name is given now to Jesus? (Find it in verse 11.)
    Lord — “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

    10. To understand what verses 10-11 mean, read Isaiah 45:23-24 and explain the passage.

    I am not sure that the following is right on target, but it is my best take on the question: The passage in Isaiah is one in which God is telling Israel that He is the only God. Israel was to be the means through which the whole world would come to know God. Jesus, the Messiah, fulfilled Israel’s role and gave all people the opportunity to follow God. Very similar words are used in the Isaiah passage and the Philippians passage: “every knee will bow and every tongue confess….” Because Jesus had obediently fulfilled this role, God exalted Him to the highest position where everyone would call him “Lord.”

  14. ACTION ASSIGNMENT:

    Today, silence the voice of the enemy with the voice of truth each time he hisses at you. Come back here and report, at the end of the day, if you did this and how it impacted you.

    I think the message I hear over and over and over again…is “there is no way…” some times it seems like the obstacles and hurdles get more looming with every step…remembering a particular “I AM” statement by Jesus…”I AM THE WAY”….is helpful for combating this thought. It is a subtle lie but it packs a heavy punch, especially when I am severely fatigued…

    1. Just gotta finish the truth statement today (as a reminder to myself today)….”I AM not only the WAY but the TRUTH and the LIFE”…

    2. Rhonda, I haven’t thought of that before-“There is no way” being a subtle lie-but it is.

      Wonderful how God reminded you that Jesus is the way the truth and the life- so you can rest in Him. Regardless of the circumstances or obstacles-you are His and He cares. This helps to rest, and also to wait to move until we sense His direction. 🙂

      1. So good Rebecca, thank you…

  15. 11. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage.

    Dear Jesus, thank you for being so kind and showing us how to live our lives. I think of you washing the disciples’ feet; how awkward and personal an activity that was. It showed them you would never ask them (the disciples) to do something you weren’t willing to do. It showed them how to love each other and that nothing was beneath them. Help us to model your actions so we demonstrate your love to those who may not know you so they want to know you more. I pray in your holy name, Lord, amen.

    1. Amen to your beautiful prayer, Laura-dancer.

  16. 10. To understand what verses 10-11 mean, read Isaiah 45:23-24 and explain the passage.

    Isaiah 45:23 says “By Myself I have sworn…a word that will not be revoked: before Me every knee will bow…”
    Then in Philippians I see “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow”. I would say then that the Bible is making it perfectly clear that Jesus IS God. I see a shadowy image, then, of Jesus in the Isaiah passage, and the shadow removed in the Philippians passage.

    11. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage.

    Lord Jesus, only You are worthy of my love and adoration…yet how often do I bow down in my heart to my idols, thinking they can satisfy me. I bow down in my heart to people, wanting their love and approval. But it is only to You that my knee should bow to, and only You deserve to be reigning in my heart. Be Lord of my heart today, Lord Jesus and help me to love you more and more. Surely the beautiful rising sun this morning and the birds singing are confessions that Jesus Christ is Lord!

    1. oh you all are so wise! I needed to catch up on all these great truths. Love this Susan “But it is only to You that my knee should bow to,”

  17. ACTION ASSIGNMENT:

    This is hard because I am ‘in process’ daily of fighting lies, and there are many- but here it goes: Fear has been difficult this week for me due to our current family crisis-Fear of losing my sister in law whom I have known for over 20 years, awakening to the hard reality of tragedy and results of living in a fallen world.

    The hiss: “Way to go Christian-you could have done something.” Along with other condemning thoughts came to mind of my failures to spend more time with her-even though I loved her she felt judged-even though I didn’t judge her. The Hiss: “She couldn’t come to you-you are supposed to be a refuge like Jesus-why couldn’t she come to you-great refuge you are!” The truth-Proverbs 21:1 ” The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” GOD IS IN CONTROL OF HER HEART, NOT ME.

    Another thing God is showing me..that even though satan hisses, GOD only gives him enough rope to hang himself for God uses those hisses to grow me-because when I choose to not believe the lie and believe God instead-out of these doubts, trials, and hisses from the enemy come more of a clinging and trusting God in areas I may not have been before-He is using this tragedy and satan’s hisses to transform me and prepare me for the future: 2 Corinthians 12:9,10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

    2 Corinthians 4:17: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison..”-take that hammer, satan.

    1. Rebecca–this is so good “-out of these doubts, trials, and hisses from the enemy come more of a clinging and trusting God in areas I may not have been before”–praying for you dear sister

  18. ACTION ASSIGNMENT:
    Today, silence the voice of the enemy with the voice of truth each time he hisses at you. Come back here and report, at the end of the day, if you  did this and how it impacted you.
    Report:

    This isn’t from just from today, but as I have stated previously I am taking a class at my church in hopes of doing some lay counseling. Sometimes I feel really hopeful, like this is the path to doing some of the good works prepared in advance for me, like this is what I am made for.
    The enemy comes at me saying, ‘you don’t know enough scripture to be equipped for this work, your prayer life is to weak, you are too selfish, you struggle with depression yourself how can you imagine that you can give hope to others, you hate conflict, you are disqualified, you haven’t dealt with your own grief, how can you possibly take on the grief and pain of others.’
    Sometimes I have listened to the point of thinking of quitting the class.

    I silence him when I remember that the battle belongs to the Lord, that I am not going to be to leaning on my own understanding.
    My job in councelling (if I get the privilege) is to be willing to suit up in the whole armor of God and show up. The Holy Spirit is the one who will do the real work. 
His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
    I am promised that if I thirst and satisfy that thirst with Christ out of me can flow rivers of Living Water, that is what I hope for, I would like to be useful, but even if I am not, I am still loved.



    I have an over the top fear of spiders, one was in the car with us the other night my husband was driving, the spider was on my window…on the inside…where my protector husband couldn’t reach it!

    I smashed it, screaming in terror. Bill was laughing at me. I knew it was dead but I was still scared of it, I smashed it repeatedly and couldn’t wait to get out of the car.
    I thought about how satan is already defeated, Christ has smashed him yet we live like he still has power, I want to hold on to this idea as he whispers his lies, that he really is powerless, I have a Protector, I need not be afraid.

    1. Oh Chris….love the truth you are speaking to yourself…so like the enemy to make you believe you could never counsel or help anyone. I am so glad you are fighting his lies and did not quit the class! Love the spider metaphor, too…”Christ has smashed him yet we live like he still has power…”
      (For me, it’s not spiders but those “thousand-leggers” things:)

      1. You girls, make me laugh! I love your comparrision of the spider to satan, Chris…I hate spiders too, so made a home made spider spray I read about, that called for vinegar, water, oil, dish soap and pepper, but they didn’t mention that the pepper won’t come out of the spray bottle, so I was spashing it everywhere I thought spiders might get in! Now our house smells like vinegar and pepper! Maurice was laughing at me too!

    2. so wise Chris “yet we live like he still has power”. And my husband would feel a bond with you on the intense fear of spiders. We have a neighbor that puts one of those gigantic ones out every year–I almost asked them not to for my dear husband–he was having nightmares from it!

    3. Chris–the Lord just brought you to mind so I just wanted to jump on and share–though I can’t word it right–you said the enemy has attacked you in the area of proceeding with the lay counseling ministry and I just feel so strongly that you are so gifted in this area–and of course that’s why the enemy is attacking! But when I have sought counseling–from friends or a professional counselor, even my pastor–my honest first thought is ‘what have they been through?’. I seek out those who have weathered the storms. I’m not saying this is ‘right’, but I value their wisdom above others. I was drawn to Dee when I read about her loss of Steve–I know how the Lord uses such tremendous suffering to bring about godly wisdom far beyond my reach. I have to run–but that had been pressing on my heart and I wanted to strongly encourage you. I will pray for Him to give you the strength and courage–I can’t imagine how hard it must be–but you have such a beautiful soul, enriched by your great loss–and I would hate for others to not benefit from you.

      1. Thank you for the encouragement Elizabeth, though you are going through your own hardships right now, you always see to take time to remember all of us here and speak comfort or confidence, according to the need.
        My son is afraid of spiders too, I feel for your husband, I think it is harder for a man with a phobia. I know my son takes a lot of derision for it from time to time.

  19. What name is given now to Jesus? (Find it in verse 11.)
    
I liked Wesleys notes here:
    
“2:11 And every tongue – Even of his enemies. Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord – Jehovah; not now in the form of a servant, but enthroned in the glory of God the Father.”


    The initiative for exalting Jesus was all on the part of the Father. The “gave” is “freely gave” (echarisato)
    To understand what verses 10-11 mean, read Isaiah 45:23-24 and explain the passage.

    
This is true, it is unshakable, that Jesus is Lord over everything, at the sound of His name those who have trusted Him will bow in adoration, those who have set themselves against Him will bow in terror. But all will bow, everything is in subjection to Him.

    I thought of the lyrics to Shout to the Lord as I read the passage:

    
”Shout to the Lord, all the earth, Let us sing
    Power and majesty, praise to the King;
    Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
    At the sound of Your name.
    I sing for joy at the work of Your hands,
    Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand,
    Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.”

  20. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage.

    Lord Jesus, that you let go of what is rightfully yours in heaven, leaving behind your beauty, your power, the worship of the angels and unity of the Godhead to be a helpless baby, obedient to sinful parents, to experience hunger and exhaustion with no place to lay your head, to be tempted as we are, yet never giving in to that temptation. To be misunderstood, taunted, mocked, spit on, beaten, and crucified by sinful people. Obedience beyond my power even to imagine.

    
I bow now, heart and mind and soul before you, may I always do so at the sound of your name. I am so grateful that we can be sure that all will one day be finished, that we who have put our trust in you will join in the heavenly chorus of praise to you our only wise King. Singing Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come!
    
In Jesus mighty name Amen!

    1. Love your prayer, Chris…may I join you in using it? I’m not very good in using the right words that my heart feels.

    2. oh Chris–this is another “keeper” of yours for me–beautiful

    3. Chris, YES! This made me jump inside-true worship!

    4. Oh, Lord, Amen and Amen to Chris’ prayer!

  21. Action Assignment: You are a good mom according to Christ’s righteousness. He has made you perfect for the task at hand and loves you completely. You cannot mess them up because He does use all things to mold and form them. Keep your eyes fixed on the One who completely loves you!

    8. According to Philippians 2:9-11, what has God the Father therefore done for God the Son? How is this a return to the highest position? He died completely then God elevated Him to highest honor.

    9. What name is given now to Jesus? (Find it in verse 11.)Lord

    The initiative for exalting Jesus was all on the part of the Father. The “gave” is “freely gave” (echarisato)

    10. To understand what verses 10-11 mean, read Isaiah 45:23-24 and explain the passage.That is powerful in light of Isaiah. Love this! Many years before He would be prophesied. Love this! Love GOd’s plan from the beginning because He knew we would need a Savior. He knew we were but dust and in love chose this way of sacrifice. Super amazing. I cannot even comprehend it! No wonder angels long to look into these things. He is the source of all my righteousness and strength. The great exchange. Every one and thing will bow to Him. Amazing!

    The emphasis of this passage however, is not exaltation over His enemies, but that Christ will be LORD over all creation.

    11. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage. Lord, thank you so much for your sacrifice of love on our behalf. Oh Lord you see us for what we are and sacrifice anyway. We spit in your face and you lay down your life. Lord, it is so great, too great if it were not true! I love your ways! Lord let your glory be spread across the earth and bring in all who are yours. All will bow those who are yours and those who are not. Lord I stand in awe.

    1. Angela–loved your action assignment answer–great help for me!

      1. Thanks friend! You are always so encouraging to me! Like that profile pic you have up too!

  22. ACTION ASSIGNMENT:

    Today, silence the voice of the enemy with the voice of truth each time he hisses at you. Come back here and report, at the end of the day, if you did this and how it impacted you.

    Father God has done so much in my life and my marriage. I do not want to go into detail b/c I want to cover me and my marriage with the love of Christ and when I do share I feel like I am violating what God has done.

    It is ironic Dee that u r friends with Leslie Vernick b/c about 3-4 years ago she was on 100 Huntley Street and she used an example: While she was talking she would gently touch the other person and after awhile the other person would notice and ask her not to do that.
    She said that is what pain is like in our lives or sin or whatever. We notice something is wrong but we r not sure why.

    I remember my marriage was absolutely horrible to the point of marital rape instead of consenual sex or mutual sex. It was horrible. Our marriage was based on lies and fear. I remember writing to her for help and she answered. It was a start. I was able to speak up for myself, cry out to God and just pray. I was hobbled by wrong thinking patterns. I still am in alot of ways but in so many ways I am free.

    I know that Father God does not like secrets Satan does. I accepted abuse and would not speak out. Then what Leslie said freed me up in a way. It did not end my marriage but I could cry out. I could talk to God about it but no one else. It was shame based of course b/c of my past. I confused punishment/abuse with suffering. That I needed to suffer b/c I had been bad. B/c I had lived together with Chuck before marriage etc. etc.
    God was punishing me etc. I consciously never realized that it took God gently showing me His love and me accepting His love.

    God is still showing me that I am a valuable woman in His sight. That He took the punishments for my sins. I do not need to suffer in silence. Fast forward to today(3-4 years later) and we are not having sex and if we do it is mutually satisfying, we are regaining trust, we are learning to communicate, we are learning to appreciate each others differences, to have date nights. To pray together. It is not perfect by far but God is in the picture. I do not know what God has in store for me but I know that it is good things not bad things.

    My husband is not evil, I am not evil but we grew up in very abusive homes and our understanding of love and how to love and accept each other was very warped to say the least. We did not understand that b/c everything was normalized for us but God is teaching me and my husband that perfect love caseth out fear b/c fear has to do with punishment and God does not punish or condemn. He convicts and asks us to trust Him and to rest in His arms. I am learning to do so. When I do my husband sees the difference and follows.

    I am learning to rest in God. To accept His love, to speak out, to not suffer in silence. Whether or not people believe in what I say is irrelevant. God does. God knows all the sins I have committed and He still loves me. I say that to myself daily. I say I am forgiven. I acknowledge my sin. I do not disagree but not I include the fact that I am loved, forgiven, understood. That I have a protector. That I do not need to suffer in silence.

    I do not know where I will be in a year from now except I know that I will be believing God that He loves me:). That punishment is not part of love and neither is punishing myself or others. I think I am finally understanding what abuse does to a human being and how awful it is to come out of the thinking patterns that it created in me.

    But God is good. As I cry out to Him, stand on His word, believe Him and also not keep secrets God works in miraculous ways. He changes situations, circumstances, people, everything. I do not know how He does it but when u bring God into the conversation He cleanses, redeems, adopts, encourages, and brings freedom.

    Freedom reigns in this place. Full of glory and grace.

    God is teaching me to forgive myself and not beat myself up emotionally or anything. To come to Him for forgiveness and accept and not punish myself or others. Just to accept His glory and grace and to rest in His love and rejoice in His love. It is good to celebrate God’s goodness.

    That is what I meant and still mean. That the precious Holy Spirit (my unpaid comforter and counsellor) has stood by me all these years. I do not know why I submitted to such abuse or why abuse happened to me or my family. All I know is that God redeemed me and He loves me and as my husband puts it “I do not need to internalize things” or beat myself up. I need to trust God and believe Him for the victory and the freedom.

    So what I am trying to say is this:
    It is a daily battle with me. But God lives in the present. He is the great I AM. He is not in my past or my future but hear right now with me.
    I thankful for this blog, I am thankful for the Word of Christ, I am thankful for the breastplate or righteousness, I am thankful that I am trusting God and steping out. I am thankful I am going to church. I am thankful for my daily devotions. I am thankful for my beautiful garden. I am thankful that I exercise now and leave the house. I am thankful that I am not frozen in fear anymore in my house.
    I am thankful that I can open doors literally, figuratively, emotionally, spiritually and Christ will be there.

    I cannot wait to see Him or thank Him personally for all that He did for me.

    Love in Christ
    Mellany and
    Many blessings:)

    1. Mellany, your post is so brutally and beautifully honest. Thank you for trusting us with your walk. None of us ever knows how our past, our wounds will be used by God to heal others when we are open enough to share. I join with you in praising God for all that He has done to walk with us through dark places.

  23. ACTION ASSIGNMENT:
    I’ve been learning to speak Scripture when I feel the attacks of Satan, which are often. He doesn’t know everything but he does seem to know when I am weak and open to attack. If nothing else, I recite the 23rd Psalm. It may sound dumb but it really helps.

    8. According to Phil. 2:9-11, what has God the Father done for God the Son? Exalted Him to the highest place.

    How is this a return to the highest position? Jesus was with God and was God from the beginning. Because of his obedience, He was restored to His place with God.

    9. What name is given now to Jesus? Lord.

    1. Jill, it does not “sound dumb” to recite the 23rd Psalm when under attack. I do it too. That Psalm has been a great source of comfort to me over the last few months. I am coming to appreciate this “common” psalm on a much more profound level. God has allowed me to meditate on it and gain new insights and much reassurance from it. He has truly blessed me from it. Sometimes the simple, familiar things are really the most profound.

  24. URGENT PRAYER REQUEST PLEASE!

    Please pray for my dad – he is in ER, bleeding profusely from the rectum…I am on my way to hospital.

    1. Yes, Susan, we will pray! My husband had that happen to him twice. The second time was a lot worse and required surgery. I will pray that God will send a wise doctor to come to his aid, and that God will guide all of his treatment. Please keep us posted, Susan!

    2. SUSAN–SO SORRY!
      Oh Father, we come before You now for Susan’s dad. Lord over all–please grant Him Your mercy. Please give doctors Your wisdom, comfort Susan, her mom, her sisters. Lord we ask for healing. In Your Name~

      1. Amen…praying, Susan.

    3. Praying, Susan. I pray the doctors can find a healing solution. The Lord says, “Do not be afraid for I am with you.”

    4. OH NO SUSAN!!!! This must be so scary for you! Oh God, amen to Elizabeth’s prayer-please help this family..

    5. Father, I pray Suan and for her father (specifically)…I ask that Your presence would be known to him and to all their family. I ask for peace in the midst of the unknown and I ask for wisdom for the doctors. Thank You for allowing us to bring these crisis moments to You…thank You for hearing…

    6. Oh my Susan! Just seeing this :/ update?

      Dear Jesus, Please hold Susan and her father in Your powerful hands. I request this in your name, Lord. Amen.

    7. Praying Susan for him and your mom and you

  25. 8. According to Philippians 2:9-11, what has God the Father therefore done for God the Son? How is this a return to the highest position?

    God has lifted Jesus up above all. He has given Him the place of worship and sovereignty, power over all things.

    9. What name is given now to Jesus? (Find it in verse 11.)
    Christ, the Lord.

    10. To understand what verses 10-11 mean, read Isaiah 45:23-24 and explain the passage.

    I am thinking (and this is risky b/c I haven’t slept much in a while!)—but I am thinking that at final judgment day—ALL, saved or unsaved, will acknowledge Christ’s Lordship. Every knee will bow. His Lordship is not dependent on what we believe—it is Who He is.

    11. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage.

    Lord, thank You for Your un-changeableness. You cannot be thrown by the waves. You cannot be caught off guard. There is no insecurity in You. You are Lord of all. Not even a leaf can fall from the tree if You do not will it. Oh I find such comfort, such peace in that Lord. You hear my cries. You answer my prayer for a parking space. You answer my cry for my child’s health. I see You here. I feel You at work in my life and t humbles me. Yesterday the enemy hissed loudly, but today—I hear You over all. Reminding me through my child’s words that You have said “do not be afraid”. You never leave me. Your way is perfect. Thank You for holding me. Thank You for forgiving me. Thank You for daily grace.

  26. 3. Using your imagination, what do you think it was like for Jesus before He emptied Himself of His rights, when He was with God the Father and God the Spirit in heaven.
    Perfect union…perfect companionship…intimate conversation. I see beauty beyond comprehension and love radiating. Jesus had it ALL…power, love, knowledge, creativity, etc….perfect peace.

    4. According to verses 6-7, what was Jesus like before He came to earth, and what did He do in order to come to earth and be with us?
    Jesus was one with God/divine…He gave up His divine privileges.

    5. According to verse 8, how did Christ further humble Himself?
    He died a criminal’s death on the cross…crucifixion.

    6. Christ went from the highest to the lowest. In what ways was a crucifixion the greatest humiliation?
    Crucifixion was an excruciating suffering to endure, reserved for the worst of criminals. Jesus hung from a cross, ripped to shreds, taunted and ridiculed. He suffered incomprehensible physical pain in addition to the anguish of separation from God.

    7. What was the one thing that the Lord did not have that made Him willing to make such a sacrifice?
    Pride.

  27. 10. To understand what verses 10-11 mean, read Isaiah 45:23-24 and explain the passage.

    Everyone whether believer or not will be humbled because they will see that He is Lord over all Creation. That IN HIM ALONE is deliverance and strength.

    This is probably off the reservation a bit-but I am thinking as we see that HE is Lord over all creation we will see compared to Him the worthlessness of the idols we ran to-the things we ran to for deliverance and strength-compared to running to Him-LORD OVER ALL CREATION-In HIM ALONE IS deliverance and strength.

    11. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage.

    Lord help me to grasp this passage better, deeper-help me to be honest with myself daily-Can I today truly see you as Lord over all Creation? I know you are but I don’t act as if I do daily-but you didn’t die on the cross for me to not draw closer to you each day and grow in trusting that you alone are my deliverance and strength-but it seems so elusive to me being on this Earth distracted so every day. Help me to cling to your Promise that you will take these distractions and turn them around-you are all powerful, all knowing and I trust that you have me and are preparing me for this day. For today Lord help me to walk with you resting in you alone and as my flesh bends the other way-remind me of this passage God! In Jesus name..

    1. Love your prayer, Rebecca…

  28. ACTION ASSIGNMENT:
    Today, silence the voice of the enemy with the voice of truth each time he hisses at you. Come back here and report, at the end of the day, if you did this and how it impacted you.

    I have not been able to concentrate to do the lesson this week, and writing down my jumbled thoughts seems impossible. It has been a week of intense thoughts and meetings and of a strong hiss of Satan at times, but there has been a steady note of peace and quiet hope as well. I just want to say that I so appreciate Dee’s direction here and I have focused on repeating to my soul that Jesus says to me, “You are My Beloved child. I am well pleased with you. Now live that way.” Oh, Lord, help me to embrace this with my whole heart. I am trying to memorize this and repeat it over and over to myself during the day. This has been helpful in reminding me that He loves me so much and everything, even what seems evil that happens in my life, is NOT out of His control and He is working all things for His good, which is ultimately MY good. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”

    We have our daughter, Krista, and grandchildren visiting this weekend, which is a long weekend in Canada. I hope to listen to Keller’s sermon today.

    1. Diane, I understand not being able to concentrate…I think I’m gonna take some time to rest, may be away from the blog for a while…just need some down time to rest my mind. I would be appreciative of your prayers…

        1. Thank you for prayers…

        2. Praying for you Rhonda

      1. Praying for you, Rhonda. Is it possible to just follow the blog silently and yet still listen to the Keller sermons? There is such depth to Keller’s sermons. I am always nourished by them.

        1. Yes, Diane…that is what I plan to do, blog silently…I did listen to the sermon this week…it was very good…spent some time researching the word, “with” yesterday (a suggestion from counsel)…as in God “with” us, from what I could find…I see it God WITH us is indicative of His consistent presence (Past, In the midst and in the future)…He is and was in it all…He came to be “with us”…and He still is, He goes behind, in the midst and before.

          Also, the part about the integrity of body and soul was good for me…I need to take care of my body and mind right now (some self-care) it is vital and it helped to hear that this is God’s heart towards me.

          Also, I looked through the gospels and found the “love/hate” idea in many places…I noticed John 9…where the blind man is given sight. He (the blind man) loved Jesus while the Pharisees hated him because He messed with their law…

          John 17:12-13 – Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about Him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, He deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about Him for fear of the leaders.

          John 6:66-69 – From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

    2. Oh Diane – I do so hope that you and Krista and the boys have a great weekend together! And what you posted about your jumbled thoughts…yes, but the Holy Spirit can make sense of our jumbled thoughts and inability to focus and intercedes for us and yet you have this undercurrent of peace – this is from Him.

    3. Diane–this defines you to me “a steady note of peace and quiet hope”. I see this in you–a light-house amidst a turbulent sea. He brings you to mind every morning lately as I lay in bed and I continue to pray.
      Lord, cover Diane with Your peace, remind her it is never too late or too much or too messed up for You–You are always at work, and nothing is impossible. I ask that You give Diane a respite–a touch from You, let her just rest in being Your beloved.

      1. Oh, Elizabeth, such a beautiful prayer. Thank you. Your heart is so tenderhearted! I am often not full of peace, but rather pessimistic and worried. I so long to be a beacon of peace and hope. Thank you for reminding me of what God has for me when I lay my urge to control down.

  29. Thank you all for praying….as I was laying in bed last night staring at the ceiling, I was so comforted to know I had sisters praying for my family!
    This bleeding happened about 3 years ago to my dad – at that time, he was in the hospital for 3 days before they did colonoscopy, and by then the bleeding had stopped. He has diverticulosis, and they thought maybe some intestinal bleeding had come from one of those problem areas.
    They did a bleeding scan last night and it was positive – his hemoglobin is a little bit low but not too bad, and the bleeding seems to be slowing now. He has been admitted. I stayed with my mom last night at their home as she shouldn’t be left by herself. I ran home this morning but will head back to pick up my mom and we’ll go down to see my dad.

    I’ve been thinking about our “Action Assignment”…had a couple of times in the past two days where one of my sons was giving me a hard time – I wrote down what Becca wrote and used it to combat the sinking feelings of when I feel like I’m losing approval/affirmation – “Your value is not in how your children view/treat you as a mother, but in that I created you and you are Mine!” God loves me, even when I “drop the ball” as a mom. I never lose His approval – I never earned it in the first place.

    Lies of the enemy are mainly coming at me just feeling a kind of despair over my circumstances – going into my parents’ house last night – pictures are gone off the walls, things are in more disarray as they are preparing to move…I feel so uncertain of the future – they have plans to move near me into a small condo, yet if something were to happen to my dad, my mom cannot live alone anymore. It’s mainly fear of the unknown, worry, sadness, loss – I feel like I’m already grieving in some way. But I’m trying to hold onto the truth that “You are my beloved child” – and that means God will not abandon me or let me somehow “fall through the cracks”. I know He has my dad – I got to pray with him last night. Praying for my mom to receive Jesus as her Savior. Last night I looked in my dad’s Bible at what he wrote that on June 24, 2010, he accepted Jesus as his Savior – that gives me such comfort and I want the same for my mom!

    1. I am so thankful to see this update from you Susan, and grateful that the bleeding is slowing. I will continue to pray for wisdom and thoroughness from his doctors, and for your mom, for clarity and that she will understand her need for her Savior.
      It is such a blessing that you are right there, and able to help your parents, that you don’t live hours away or have a job that you can not step away from.

      I think this is gold:
      ” I never lose His approval – I never earned it in the first place.”

      1. Thanks, Susan, for the upbeat update! Will continue to pray.

    2. Susan, so glad to hear that he is receiving help and responding to treatment…I’m sorry for your grief…you will be in my prayers!

    3. Susan–so thankful you read again about the date marking your dad’s salvation. You are clinging to what matters most. I do think of how weary you must be–you minister so well to your mom and dad, your own family–I pray you will feel His strength and encouragement. You have been so faithful. None of us is perfect–but you have been entrusted with much and are SO faithful. I pray you can continue to release it all to Him and let Him hold you, carry you, as His beloved.

    4. Susan I’m so thankful your dad is getting better. I will keep praying for him and your mom. When my mom had dementia so bad and she had not shown any signs of accepting Christ into her heart, someone had told me that God knows her mind is not normal now and if she had ever had a time where she was alone and had ask for forgiveness, God does not forget that… because her mind is ill now. That helped me a lot. If you ever have someone who can pray with her, like a nun or aid or relative, have them pray with her…sometimes it’s easier for her than a close family member too.

    5. Susan, I understand your struggle with fear. All of our parents are gone now and I have witnessed God’s faithfulness times 4. My father in law went first and honestly, his death was the most traumatic to me. He was a believer though Catholic so I did not really understand. He had saved a good bit of money over his lifetime. My mother in law lived well on it. When it ran out her kidneys failed and she refused dialysis. There was less than a thousand dollars left when she died. Maybe it is strange but I see God’s provision all over that. She was also a believer. My mother had dementia and if it had not been for that I doubt she would have ever come to faith in The Lord Jesus. My father was able to take care of her at home until she died, she had such a fear of nursing homes for both of her parents died with dementia. My father had the same aversion to long term care and he died in his sleep at home but not without warning that it was coming. Both my sister and I believe that he came to The Lord only days before his death. Oh, and there was the time The Lord asked me at communion what was the desire of my heart and my knee jerk reply was for my unsaved parents, even though I had an unsaved husband. He orders all things in His time, even our prayers.
      These are the things I think of when I am afraid. Especially in regard to my children. God is so faithful. I am so thankful for your father’s salvation and I pray that he will be there for your mother for as long as she needs him. If God has another plan we will still trust Him. Praying for you to be strengthened in your faith dear sister and for your mother’s salvation. Even with dementia there is hope for a childlike faith.
      Sorry for the book and for repeating myself…

      1. Susan–I agree with Anne and have thought this before about your mom “Even with dementia there is hope for a childlike faith.” And Anne speaks from first-hand experience–I am thankful the Lord has given you someone here who truly does understand–I feel like the Lord wants to encourage you with her words “My mother had dementia and if it had not been for that I doubt she would have ever come to faith in The Lord Jesus”.

  30. 11. Write a prayer of praise based on this passage.

    Dear God, My Heavenly Father, Creator and Controller of all the universe: How much I love, admire, and am awed by all you have created for us. You not only have seen to our basic needs to live, but you have made it enjoyable for us as well. You could have delivered our food in little black boxes, but instead you have made it to grow on lovely vegetation, fruit to grow on beautiful flowering trees. When I think about all the intricacies of the way our bodies work — it is mind-boggling, dear God, for you are a God who sees to all the details!! I find comfort in that fact. But above all, your plan for the salvation of our souls is the most spectacular. It is difficult for our minds to grasp that you would allow your Son to suffer such pain and agony to redeem a bunch of wayward, seemingly ungrateful, unloving sinners. Then You lifted Jesus to the highest place to once again sit with You and the Holy Spirit. Help me to lift Him into the highest place in my life — into the center of my focus–and keep Him there! Help me to fulfill your plan for my life. Please teach me how to be the servant that you would want me to be! May I be an instrument in the coming of your kingdom, so that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!! In Jesus name, Amen.

  31. As usual, a very profound sermon by Keller. Much to ponder about what our attitude should be toward the physical which Jesus has redeemed, and why we should be servants in following Jesus’ example. Things that stood out to me in Keller’s sermon:

    1. We are the only religion that knows that God does not think of the physical as more important than the spiritual or the spiritual as more important than the physical and that changes the way we deal with things. Look at the Bible itself. The first picture you have of God in the Bible is God with his hands in the mud creating the world. God is not afraid to get his hands dirty. He is involved with matter. The last picture of God in the Bible is God cleaning up the natural universe of the toxic waste of evil and sin, and rehabbing a beautiful new urban home for Himself. And in the very center of the Bible you have got the two main [events in the life of Christ]– they are about the physical. At Christmas God became human – took on the physical. And at Easter, God redeemed the body. God created both the soul and the body. He redeemed both the soul and the body. And that means that they are both important to Him. Jesus did what it took to let body and soul live in integrity.

    2. Only Christians talk about saving the soul and cleaning up the neighbour. We can do it with integrity. That’s what Jesus is about. He came in order to let body and soul in integrity. And that is your future – a spiritual body. You are not going to be a disembodied intelligence in heaven. You will eat and drink and hug in heaven. Sing, food, bodies but they will be spiritual. Christians can be just as concerned about the poor, as they are about evangelism and saving somebody’s soul.

    3. Jesus made Himself nothing. We want to be somebody. We want to be kings.
    Therefore, because Jesus made himself nothing, God has highly exalted him. Irony: We try desperately to be somebody, our own god and therefore God lets us fall to the bottom and we don’t even know who we are.
    Jesus found his name by losing it. Jesus got up by going down. Jesus got his identity through service. Jesus became somebody because he served something bigger than himself. He showed us what it means to be a human being.
    What does that mean for us? The way to become saved is you’ve got to go down.

  32. 12 A. This is an area in which I am still in process. In the past, I have felt guilty when I spent time tending the mundane matters of life, as I felt it was taking time away from the spiritual aspects of my life. I am growing gradually in this respect, trying to dedicate whatever I do to God, and it helps me not feel like I am doing drudgery. However, I am far from 100%!!

    B. My church formerly was part of Interfaith Hospitality Network (more recently known as Family Promise). It is a national program, so those of you who have been involved with it will know instantly what I am talking about. For those who haven’t had that experience: our church was one of eight churches that banded together to run a homeless shelter. Each church was responsible for our homeless guests for a week at a time, and the guests were transported each week to another church. For nine years, when my church hosted, I was the one in charge. Unfortunately, city-wide our network had to close because of financial shortages, so we are no longer doing that work. Now I have switched to the “hunger” arena, encouraging my congregation to donate food to Feed Your Neighbor, then I deliver the food to the food pantry, and once every two months I work at the distribution center to help hand out food.

    C. I believe that there will be real bodies in heaven(but maybe not the same kind we have had on earth). If we need food, there will be real food. I am not so sure about trees, but it is a possibility. We are told some things will be quite different in heaven/eternal life. For instance, in Matthew 22:30, Jesus tells us “At the resurrection, people will neither marry or be given in marriage, they will be like the angels in heaven.” I was happy to hear Keller say that matter matters to God, however, I also know that God can “think out of the box” in ways we can’t even begin to approach!

    1. Deanna, I think it is wonderful how you help with the donations and delivering the food!

  33. 13. Because Jesus was also fully God, people always had extreme reactions to Him. (John Stott) They were never “lukewarm.” Open your Bible to a Gospel and give an example.

    This is what I found:

    He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'” “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. (Luke 4:16-30 NIV)

  34. C. Because matter matters, in heaven we will have real bodies, real food, real trees — comment on this.

    I read a book by Randy Alcorn called “Heaven”, as I cared for my mother when she was dying 6 years ago. It took the view that heaven would actually be this earth made new; a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ’s presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it. He quoted from the verse in Revelation where the New Jerusalem comes down to earth with Jesus as King. I was a very interesting book and I found it very comforting and stimulating.

    Here is a clip where Alcorn talks about teaching about heaven to our kids and His book “Tell Me About Heaven”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG8r0D7p–8

    1. Diane, thank you for that clip. I had read that book a long time ago and loved it and helped me alot to understand heaven better.

  35. 13. Because Jesus was also fully God, people always had extreme reactions to Him. (John Stott) They were never “lukewarm.” Open your Bible to a Gospel and give an example.

    Matthew 9:1-8. Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to is own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the Paralytic, “Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.” At this some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk.” But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe, and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

    This story gives both an extreme negative response and an extreme positive response.

  36. Unexpected and urgent cry for help Friday morning altered my weekend. We have the grandchildren for a few days. Wished I was able to clone myself so I could be with my daughter as she seeks serenity., play with the babies and 3rd me -spend time with my Bible studies.

    1. Praying for you, Becca. I have grandkids this weekend too. I understand the wishing to be two or three places at once. Hope you have a good weekend. Hope your daughter finds some serenity, too, and that you also are able to have some time with God.

  37. Hello Dee and all the Dear Friends on this blog:
    Action Assignment: I’ve been very weary in my body and mind this week and I’ve been reciting my memory verses 3 times a day even when I don’t feel like it, obeying what Psalm 55:17 NKJV says “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Turning to the Lord when I hear the hiss.
    Thank you for this Bible Study, even though I don’t often comment I love reading the scripture references and reading how others see it. All the comments bless my heart.
    PRAYER UPDATE: MEGAN FLIES WITH HER MOTHER AND FATHER TO HAMILTON ON TUESDAY MAY 21, HAS HER PRE-OP ON WED. AND HER SURGERY ON THURSDAY MAY 23. THIS IS A VERY HUGE OPERATION TO TRY AND REMOVE AS MUCH OF THE CANCEROUS TURMOR IN HER ABDOMIN AS POSSIBLE. WE ARE HAVING A SMALL FAMILY BARBAQUE IN OUR BACK YARD ON MONDAY AND I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRAYER WITH HER PERSONALLY BEFORE SHE LEAVES. SHE WAS RAISED CATHOLIC, BUT I DON’T THINK THEY HAVE BEEN TO CHURCH IN YEARS. HER MOTHER TOLD ME YESTERDAY THAT MEGAN IS STARTING TO FEEL VERY ANXIOUS ABOUT THE SURGERY, WHICH IS ONLY NATURAL. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE PRAYERS ON OUR BEHALF, SINCERELY Phyllis.

    1. Praying for Megan, her family and for you that you will be a witness to them whether verbally or non-verbally.

    2. Phyllis, I’m so glad you came on and gave us a update about Megan…I’m praying for her. I hope you can pray with her.

    3. Thanks for the update, Phyllis…I’ll mark Thursday on my calendar for Megan’s surgery and continue to pray for Megan’s overall wellness/healing as well as her peace of mind. I will also pray for the opportunity for you to pray with Megan…how cool would that be???

  38. 12.

    A. The earthiness of life matters to God, and we can lift our mundane earthy chores of washing dishes, changing diapers, and digging in the garden to Him in thanksgiving. Does this permeate your life? Explain.

    -Yes, it does! It is easy for me to feel like it is a waste of time to do chores because things get dirty again the next day, but when I see that it matters to God and that when I do the mundane it is serving and loving my family and others. Not to meet my needs but to meet theirs primarily. Knowing this and that He cares and has given me the privilege of caring for my families material and spiritual needs-it is huge.

    B. Because matter matters to God, He is concerned about the poor, the hungry, and the hurting. If we have the mind of Christ, so should we. Is this growing in your life? Explain.

    -Yes, it is-my time is limited due to the needs at home and elsewhere-but God opens doors for me and recently they have asked me to sing again at the City Union Mission homeless graduation ceremony..so I will go for I almost prefer singing and serving them and this is God growing this in my life.

    C. Because matter matters, in heaven we will have real bodies, real food, real trees — comment on this.

    This is amazing to me and I love to know this because His handiwork amazes me right now-so to know we can experience these wonderful things that we experience here in heaven is a balm-yet it will be perfect.

    13. Because Jesus was also fully God, people always had extreme reactions to Him. (John Stott) They were never “lukewarm.” Open your Bible to a Gospel and give an example.

    IT is all over the Gospels..There are no luke warm reactions it seems..Most are either hot or cold.

    In Matthew 9 Jesus healed the paralyzed man and the Pharisees called Jesus a blasphemer because Jesus said his sins were forgiven. They were always cold in their reactions. Then you have Jesus asking Matthew to follow him and Matthew got up and followed-a hot reaction-no if ands or buts-contrast to the rich man in Matthew 19 who was unable to follow for his wealth meant more than Jesus-he couldn’t worship both so his reaction was cold. He knew he couldn’t be luke warm..

  39. ACTION ASSIGNMENT: Today, silence the voice of the enemy with the voice of truth each time he hisses at you. Come back here and report, at the end of the day, if you did this and how it impacted you.

    Report:
    I would like to report that all went well…it didn’t. I noticed many assaults from the enemy throughout the day and into the night. In the morning I was pretty vigilant in awareness of the enemy’s ploys and could fairly well dispense with them, but by evening when I was tired from the day (most vulnerable), I allowed myself to give way and be taken in…it was truly horrible what I allowed myself to believe. On the bright side, there was (is) awareness… I got out of bed and took a couple books off the book shelf (“Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices” and “Spirit Warriors”) and read pertinent portions; in hindsight, it should have been the bible that came off the shelf first, but these books did have specific scriptural texts that were very helpful. I have been reading “Radical Well-Being” and was to a part regarding messages infiltrated into my consciousness by the evil one (God-incidence?)…it has been very helpful. I have become acutely aware of the many (MANY) messages of “I am not enough” that the evil one keeps pinging at me in various ways. The Lord has been helpful in showing me “lights” in this darkness. I have written reminders (scripture and quotes) to help me remember that I am a beloved daughter of the King, bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus, when I have a tendency to give way. I feel like I am in the midst of a mighty battle…could I really have been so unaware previously, or is this something new because of awareness? I guess I should be grateful, as mentioned previously, if I was not making some headway, the evil one wouldn’t be pinging me so.

    1. oh Nanci–such transparency and pain in your words. I love your heart. I am praying for you right now–to really feel Him holding you as His beautiful, beloved daughter–strengthened in your weak areas by His incredibly strong love for you.

  40. 12.
    A. The earthiness of life matters to God, and we can lift our mundane earthy chores of washing dishes, changing diapers, and digging in the garden to Him in thanksgiving. Does this permeate your life? Explain.

    This is incredibly helpful. My nature is to believe none of the stuff I do—the cooking, cleaning, errands…none of it matters. But to know that it matters because God says it does—He gives it value—it changes my perspective and fuels me in my daily tasks.

    B. Because matter matters to God, He is concerned about the poor, the hungry, and the hurting. If we have the mind of Christ, so should we. Is this growing in your life? Explain.

    I have a heart for the poor, especially the orphans. But there is so much more I want to do—and I know often the needy are those right before me. I pray my eyes will be like His—to see the needs, see the hearts—but move out into their lives to give love, rather than just feel better about myself for doing it.

    C. Because matter matters, in heaven we will have real bodies, real food, real trees — comment on this.

    Dee had mentioned a while back about Randy Alcorn’s book, I had a copy and began reading it. It’s huge (for me) so I have mostly “scanned”, but what I did read changed my thoughts on Heaven completely. I had always put off thinking about it—assumed it would be great, but not much interest. All the theories of rapture, etc…I just knew I’d be with Jesus and that was enough. But as I read Alcorn’s book, so much came to life—and I realized it does matter that I think about it. He will redeem this earth! He cares about this earth! I am still so ignorant on the topic, but I imagine all the most beautiful places in the world—in utter perfection. My son asks me if certain things will be there—and I just say “if you want it to be there, it will because there are no tears in Heaven”. I think when we are there, our “wants” will be like Christ—so there will never possibly be disappointment. Then He asked if we would have the sun, moon and stars, or would Jesus shine so bright we wouldn’t see them? I had to claim ‘I don’t know’ on that one! But I think all God cares for ALL that He created, and all will be with us, perfected. I’m one of those who believes dog will be there too 😉 Rambling-sorry!

    13. Because Jesus was also fully God, people always had extreme reactions to Him. (John Stott) They were never “lukewarm.” Open your Bible to a Gospel and give an example.

    I think of the woman who washed His feet with her tears “and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” Lk 7:38; and then I think of Jesus saying “18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” in John 15:18, and the ultimate hate crime of the Crucifixion.

    14. What other notes do you have that you’d like to share?

    There never has been a time when God was alone. God did not create in order to meet a need for love and relationship—not to get love but to give it. We tend to move out into other people’s lives more to meet our own needs than to meet theirs. When I feel like I am constantly getting my feelings hurt, or am trying to control others, then I am moving into relationships more for myself than for others. This is destructive. I am to have the mind of Christ. The only way to do this is to first go into the Trinity—claim my identity and acceptance through Christ alone and then move out to love others.

    Christianity believes that both the spiritual and the physical matter to God—not one more than the other. He shows us through Christmas—God became human. And at Easter-God redeems humanity. We should not worship the physical, nor ignore it—but care about the poor, the broken—because it matters to God.

    Jesus is human—so He does understand whatever I am going through. And whatever it is, He has been through it and much worse. But He didn’t just become a man, He became a servant. He had equality with God and let He released it. We will never have it, and yet we grasp for it—trying to make a name for ourselves, trying to be kings.

    To be saved, we must go down, rather than try to go up on our own righteousness. I was also struck by the question—how have I dishonored God’s power in my life with my low expectations?

  41. Hi Everyone…here’s an update on my dad. Thankfully he was released today and he and my mom are staying with my sister Chris and her husband until Monday. But…last night was frightening. He had been doing better yesterday until about 2pm when he passed more blood, but the surgeon came by and said this may take a little while to resolve-we’ll keep watching, monitoring…
    I got a call at 9pm last night from my sister saying dad said he thought he was dying-losing blood. Here he had got up to the bathroom and passed a lot of blood – got so weak-he made it back to the bed but kept bleeding and almost passed-out-very pale, could hardly speak or use his limbs. He thought he was dying. Staff came in and were more concerned about cleaning him up-he kept telling them to get him some help but they just kept saying “You’re okay…”
    My sister who is also an RN called the room and they put dad on the phone and he told her he felt like he was dying-losing so much blood. She got there and when I got there the room was full of doctors…he ended-up having another bleeding scan, two units of blood, and a colonoscopy this morning. I stayed with him last night and when everything settled down around midnight, I just prayed and prayed for no more crises-no more bleeding for the rest of the night. We got through the rest of the night without incident – so thankful.

    Bleeding has stopped-they didn’t really find anything on the colonoscopy except for he has bad diverticulosis and they figure the bleeding came from a vessel in those areas. Just continuing to pray it will stop for good! Dad said he did a lot of talking to the Lord last night – amazing, he never seems to doubt that God is near and present.

    1. oh Susan! Wow-I am so thankful he has you and your sister both being nurses. It sounds so terrible I was surprised they released him–but will just continue to pray for healing. And what a HUGE blessing that he is only drawing nearer to the Lord in all of this. I imagined he has said many prayers for your mom too–such hope.

    2. Thanks for the update Susan. I can’t imagine how scary that was for all of you…so glad he’s doing better. Praying!

    3. Praising God that he is seeking the one true healer! we will continue our prayers for you all.

    4. Oh how frightening Susan! I’m so glad help came in time. It sounds like his b/p dropped low. I hope they will watch him closely until this thing calms down. Wonderful how he knew The Lord was with him.
      Lord thank You for Your comforting presence during this crisis. Thank You that help came in time and that there is no cancer present. Please touch this bleeding place with Your healing in Jesus’ name, amen.

    5. Susan, My heart goes out to all of your family and especially your father. As I said in a previous post, my husband went through that about five years ago, and it was a nightmare while it was going on. It was diverticulitis also. We will all keep your father in our prayers. So many people were praying for John, and I have always said that it was the prayers and God’s mercy that got him through it! How wonderful that your Dad is talking with the Lord!!

  42. C. Because matter matters, in heaven we will have real bodies, real food, real trees — comment on this.

    I have always found a sense of anticipation in 1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

    Not only will we have the things that we are familiar with, we will also have things that we never could imagine. I believe that since God is the Creator that there will be no end to what He creates. We can live eternally and never see the end, because it is a kingdom that never ends and He never stops creating.

    1. So awesome to imagine that, Dawn!

  43. A. The earthiness of life matters to God, and we can lift our mundane earthy chores of washing dishes, changing diapers, and digging in the garden to Him in thanksgiving. Does this permeate your life? Explain.

    It does in that I can see the miracle of God’s renewal in many chores. We mess things up and our Father comes in and as with the wipes we use to clean up- His life and blood gives us a new clean start. Just as we change a diaper and toss out the bad. He doesn’t keep looking at our past as dirty and smelly- He sees us as new creation in Him.

    In gardening I feel joy working in the soil and the therapeutic aspect is so healing. I pray while gardening for two reasons- One it is quiet, peaceful and I am in awe of Gods creation and two because my fear of snakes. I sing out loud in my yard- God has not given me a spirit of fear…but of Power and love and a sound mind. Usually I do not see any snakes and I am thankful for Gods protection of my mind. If I see one I will tend not to go outside and work in that area again.