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THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT (PART I OF A TWO WEEK STUDY)

YOU ARE MOVING AHEAD IN EXCITEMENT

SENSING THE LORD HAS SOLVED A PROBLEM,

IS LEADING YOU IN A GOOD PATH,

AND THEN:

blockingthepath

THE PATH IS BLOCKED

I have felt that this summer. Since I will be moving to my cottage in Wisconsin  full-time in 2014, I have been seeking a strong church, one that is alive in the winter as well as the summer. FINALLY I FOUND ONE! A loving church with a humble pastor with a heart for people and great expository preaching. I’m loving teaching adult Sunday School. I thought: Thank you, Lord, I can now make it as a widow in the winter in the Wisconsin woods! I am overflowing with gratitude and relief. This is the church I will make my home.

But discord came to this idyllic church. This Sunday the pastor said he will be resigning the end of August. It seemed best for the Kingdom to him.

This was not my plan at all.

IT’S HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.

AFTER YEARS OF INFERTILITY, ELLIE GOT PREGNANT.

AND THEN SHE MISCARRIED

THIS WAS NOT HER PLAN.

HOW CAN GOOD COME FROM THIS?

MISCARRIAGE

OUR OWN JOYCE, WHO IS CARING FOR A DISABLED ADULT CHILD

HAS BEEN SO THANKFUL TO HAVE HER SON TREVOR NEARBY

BUT TREVOR IS MOVING TO ANOTHER STATE.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

THIS WAS NOT HER PLAN.

HOW CAN GOOD COME FROM THIS?

*

IT HAPPENED TO THE DISCIPLES TOO.

THEY FINALLY FOUND THE MESSIAH.

AND THEN HE WAS CRUCIFIED.

FEAR

*

THIS WAS NOT THEIR PLAN

HOW COULD GOOD COME FROM THIS?

*

IF PEACE IS BASED UPON CIRCUMSTANCES,

WE ARE IN TROUBLE.

PAUL WAS  A ROCK, NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

9566325-waves-crashing-over-rocks-in-the-pacific-ocean

WAVE UPON WAVE CAME TO HIM:

BEATINGS,

PRISON,

AND IMPENDING MARTYRDOM.

YET HE WAS NOT MOVED.

PAUL KNEW THE SECRET

OF CONTENTMENT IN PLENTY AND IN WANT.

SUNDAY/MONDAY ICEBREAKERS

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

2. Where is there trouble in your life or a path that seems blocked?

MONDAY/FRIDAY BIBLE STUDY

LindaandDeeThis last week I’ve been with my friend Linda Strom, who is the “Charles Colsen” to women’s prisons. We’ve been going over a Bible study I wrote for women in prison to accompany Linda’s biography of Karla Faye Tucker.

Linda faces SO MANY ROADBLOCKS. She can be blocked by a surly warden who decides her team shouldn’t come in and do a Bible study that night. Or she can see a woman on death row utterly transformed by Christ, and yet kept in solitary confinement for years and then executed. Yet Linda is mellow. She said to me, “It’s a lot of work to try to rule the world — to feel like my prayers are responsible. I’m so glad God is in charge instead.” And oh, how I have seen God open door upon door for Linda. And yet, we have both also seen trees fall and we must go another way. Linda knows the secret that Paul knew.

THE CHARACTER OF PEACE: NOT THE ABSENCE OF TROUBLE BUT THE PRESENCE OF GOD

READ PHILIPPIANS 4:4-13

3. As you read this whole passage, do you have any clues on the secret of peace? (You may change your answer at the end of the two weeks of this study — but go for it!)

4. As you mediate on verses 4-5, you can see first see the edges of the secret in verse 5. What is it?

When Luther’s friend Philip Melanthon would despair, Luther would say, “Let Philip cease to rule the world.”

5. What do you know about God that can help you surrender circumstances to Him?

TIM KELLER GIVES US THREE KEYS TO THIS CONTENTMENT: THINKING, THANKING, AND LOVING

THINKING

newthink

Philippians 4:8 was the slogan of my alma mater, Northwestern University. Perhaps they understood it once, but not when I was in school. I think they interpreted it as thinking on lovely things such as the beauty of Lake Michigan, on which their campus was built, or the autumn leaves that turned crimson on the campus each fall, or the beauty of knowledge itself. Yet their most esteemed professor ripped up a Bible in a lecture I was attending one day. He said, “It is full of contradictions. At one place Jesus says he brings peace — at another place a sword. Which is it Jesus?” That man did not look at context or know the Lord, or he would have seen that Jesus does say he brings peace to the believer but a sword between believers and unbeliever. Northwestern’s view of knowledge was man’s wisdom. Instead Philippians is talking about the wisdom, the doctrine, of God!

What is true? Jesus died for our sins, and the debt is paid. What is lovely? God’s great love for His bride. What is pure? The Son of God who was without sin so could pay for our sin. What is of good report? The resurrection of our Lord!

Let me consider my roadblock: the church I thought was home is different than I hoped. But though Satan may be at work, I also know that God is so excellent and so good that Satan is only used as His instrument. I know His love is lovely and I can trust Him with this roadblock.

6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.

THANKING

ineverything

Two weeks ago my friends Ann and Sylvia were here. Last week I mentioned briefly an incident Sylvia told me about a friend who has been through a series of devastating circumstances — a husband’s cancer, a child’s mental illness, and other enormous struggles.  Sylvia told me, “You know what, Dee — she’s been so discouraged for so long, but she’s changed, so I pressed her as to why. She said she has been thanking God for what He was going to do with each devastating circumstance. Dee — it’s remarkable, the peace she now has.” This reminds me of Ann Voskamp’s journey, and how friends began to say to her, “You’re different.” I want to make it clear that I am NOT advising you to tell friends who have just experienced loss to thank God, for that would be hurtful. But I think each of us can receive this truth when it doesn’t come so personally, but through a teaching in a sermon (or I pray, a blog) — and there is a time it easier to receive that in the midst of high-tide grief.

It’s hard to thank God in devastating circumstances. It takes trust in His sovereignty and character.

7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?

8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?

9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

Since this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us, we must do it. So I am thanking God for what He is going to do with my pastor’s resignation: in my life, in this church, and my pastor’s life, and in the community here.

10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known — not telling God what to do — but to act — and then thank Him.

LOVING

Jesus

11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?

12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.

 

NEXT WEEK WE WILL LISTEN TO KELLER’S SERMON ON THE ABOVE AND COMPLETE PHILIPPIANS.

SATURDAY

13. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-AWAY AND WHY?

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387 comments

  1. 5. What do you know about God that can help you surrender circumstances to Him?

    Unlike many of us at times, God not only listens to our concerns but hears what we are saying. He knows our hearts better than we do. So in actuality, He understands my problem and struggles better than I even do. He knows how He made me so He knows it is difficult not to have a church to call home right now. He also knows that I am fully aware that He knows the outcome and that we will walk through this together. He is patient with me. He loves me even when I drive Him nuts with my inability to just make a decision. He knows, like I know, that He gave me an earthly husband who would ultimately let me choose where I want to be to make me happy but that I also want Him to be in the place where He can thrive and continue to grow into an even stronger man of God, husband and father. Which is why we all know we are still here just stuck in this place. This roadblock. I know without a doubt that God cares about the big and little things. And I know that He is a completely personal God to me who wants to be with me in my circumstances but also with the rest of the world in their own circumstances. It’s His love and kindness that allows to trust me with the big and little things of life. He is never the reason I hesitate to yield it all to Him because I am completely are of His desire and ability to take it, or at least walk beside me through it. If ever there is a reason I don’t surrender it is because I think I can control my life. It is in those moments, I pray I can quiet myself enough to hear Him beckon me to His feet.

  2. 6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.

    “Now to Him who can do immeasurably more than we could ever hope or imagine…” I will praise Him because there is more than I even know that will come out of this roadblock. It’s really neat to think that God isn’t just going to answer my prayer for direction, but there is a promise of even more. That’s powerful and exciting and brings me peace. Instead of worrying about the struggle, I can rejoice knowing that there will be fruit that comes out of this process. Thinking about this I also remember the important truth that “I must become less so that He can become more.” Perhaps Jesus, Himself can be my more in this circumstance if I would only humble myself let Him have control.

    1. Praying for you today in this Leah, that you will clearly hear His voice and know that ‘this is the way’ and you will be empowered to walk in it and not doubt.

  3. 4. As you meditate on verses 4-5, you can first see the edges of the secret in verse 5. What is it?

    The Lord is near. (He is going to return soon…and He is with us now through His Spirit)
    I have to believe this by faith. In bad circumstances, it feels like He is very far away.

    5. What do you know about God that can help you surrender circumstances to Him?

    What’s that saying…”people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care?” It really doesn’t matter what I “know” about God – that He is sovereign, good, all-knowing, everything is part of His story, etc…unless I know that He loves me. When I doubt His love for me, I falter every time. That’s why things like the Keller quote that Elizabeth posted this week are such good reminders. The lady who spoke at my Sunday school class last week emphasized that He loves us. I need to hear this A LOT.

    1. Me too Susan.

  4. 6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.
    
I guess mine is more of a road opening than a roadblock, a road I must travel like it or not. It brings physical symptoms and great anxiety when I anticipate walking it.
    
So I am remembering (sometimes more quickly than others) to turn that immediately to prayer, to know He is near, to know that He cares about me, me, he really cares about me, I am more than a speck of nothing to Him. He has promised power to overcome, He has defeated the enemy. My hope is in Him and He will not fail me. Nothing happening in my life is a surprise to Him. He ‘hems me in before and behind, He lays His hand on me’. Underneath me are the Everlasting Arms.

    1. Love your number 6 Chris

    2. Chris, A road opening-but oh yes, a scary path rather than a safe path. Beautiful to see Him comforting you and strengthening you as you take each step. Love you-and am praying.

  5. 9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

    Sylvia’s friend seems to have complete trust in the Lord, but has really struggled to get there. I totally understand this. Most of you know my Sarah story. It has taken me a very long time also to get to this place as well. What you don’t know is the story of one of my older sons. I too, have had many struggles at the same time, not physical sickness, but mental health problems mostly. I continue to struggle with trusting God with my son, but I do believe He will prevail and take care of my son one way or another. He seems like a hopeless case to me though. It is a sad situation and it is hard to handle several issues at once when we are only human. Although we have different circumstances, I know what feeling Sylvia’s friend had, because we ALL have “stuff” that we have to handle in our lives that is tough. She let go and let God take her burden. For me, it started about 5 years ago listening to Nancy Leigh Demoss and then Dee’s book on idols has finished it off. I AM NOT IN CONTROL. I am not THAT good to “handle” everything. I NEED God. He wants me to use Him. He CAN handle ALL of it. Thank you Jesus!

    As far as actually being thankful for the situation, I suppose I could thank Him for helping me grow with each difficult thing that happens. Sometimes it is hard to see good in a bad occurrance. My older son is confused and needs to learn self control, as well as being content in all situations. He is not being very nice to his family right now. I guess I could say he is the roadblock between me and my husband. What is the growth? I guess I can say my husband and I are learning to be a united front and working together? Not sure, but God knows. We may know eventually; or not. I need to be at peace either way. God is good. Sylvia’s friend is strong and faithful.

  6. 10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known — not telling God what to do — but to act — and then thank Him.

    Thank you Lord for the opportunity to work with my husband to help our son find his way in life. Not only do we need to learn to walk together, but we also need guidance in how to help him. What is the best thing to say? To do? Sometimes my pea brain doesn’t catch on very quickly! You made me though, so you already know this about me 🙂 I need to be hit over the head with the solution, if it is me that is to do the “helping” with our son. My husband needs to be humbled, Lord to help our son. Thank you for helping us understand. Amen.

    1. I will pray for your son, Laura. What is his name?

      1. Joyce you are kind. His name is John. I sent him keller’s free sermon on “peace” tonight. So good, but I’m not sure he will listen. He was raised in church but has not been in many years. He is almost 23 and a lost soul; frustrated, angry, and hard to be close to these days. Thanks for prayers!

    2. Oh Laura I can feel the pain in this post and will be praying for all of you. For peace and contentment for your son John and for you and your husband to have God centered in your lives so you can both clearly hear what The Lord wants you to do with the situation.

      1. Thanks Julie! I feel that we have similar situations here….

  7. 7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?

    To not be anxious about anything, but instead in prayer make our requests to God and thank Him. Then receive the peace of God.

    8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?

    Pray and give thanks.

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

    I’m sure, if a person really could come to the point where they gave thanks in the midst of devastating circumstances — that would change the person. Notice my speaking in the third person here. If I were to speak of it in the first person, I would have to take a big, deep breath first:) I really WANT to get to that point, but I am still a work in progress. To be honest, it doesn’t come naturally yet!

  8. http://youtu.be/z0LV_p3HQQI

    Love this song……..”I’ll praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands that you are who you are, no matter where I am. Every tear I’ve cried, you hold in your hand, never left my side, though my heart is torn, I will praise you in his storm”….

    1. Thanks so much for this song, Joyce. Really needed that.

  9. This is in the news today….

    Pope: Resist ‘idols’ of money, power, pleasure

    “It is true that nowadays, to some extent, everyone, including our young people, feels attracted by the many idols which take the place of God and appear to offer hope: money, success, power, pleasure,” he said. “Often a growing sense of loneliness and emptiness in the hearts of many people leads them to seek satisfaction in these ephemeral idols.”

    1. Sounds as if he may be listening to Keller sermons!

      1. Or read Dee’s book!

        1. Yea!

  10. It has been two days since I have been able to check this blog and I just need to say how much reading all your comments on this study on contentment is a BALM to my soul. Keller’s quote that “everything that God lets thru must be necessary to build me up or grow me” and phrases like “I do know he loves me, he loves me, he loves me.” and Chris’ comments on her “road opening” that she must travel like it or not, plus Laura dancer and many other sharing about their struggles, just give me a rope to hold onto today.

    I know many were praying for my daughter Krista and I, as she had a court appearance today. Well, things went not too badly but we did not get what we had hoped for at this point. She STILL does not have completely unsupervised access yet, but hopefully that will happen soon. Without going into details, we do hope that the judge persuaded Krista’s ex-husband to go to mediation instead of a lengthy and costly and very adversarial trial to hammer out custody of their three sons. If this all has to go to trial, it won’t happen until March 2014 at the earliest, and that is very discouraging. I am physically and emotionally exhausted after spending two days with her active boys plus a stressful day and stressful life that seems never ending. Like Chris, I did not choose this road opening but I must travel it.

    Sorry to sound so “down”, I know you want to know how things went. Wish I had better news. It’s hard for me to see the upside of this right now.

    Anyway, your comments here have been helpful in refocusing me toward a God who is loving and trustworthy. I know that many others have suffered much more than I, and that God never does anything without a good reason, even if we do not understand it. Dear God, I do not understand. Help me to trust when I do not.

    1. oh Diane. My heart truly aches for you, Krista, the boys–all of you, so much pain. Thank you for taking time to update us on today’s meeting. PRAYING.

    2. It is okay to sound down when you are down Diane.
      It is heartbreaking what has happened in Krista’s family, God hates divorce too.

      Praying still for Jeff’s heart to soften, for him to see his sin in all of this too, for him to accept mediation and for the hearts of the boys to be protected.
      Hugs to you sister.

    3. Diane, I was hoping for an update of todays court. I wish things were better…I feel so sad for all of you. I’ll keep praying and praying.

      Nanci, how was court for your daughter today? praying for her also.

      1. Thanks for praying, Joyce. She didn’t have court on July 24, her parenting plan was due to the Family Court Commissioner that day. Now the proposed parenting plan copies will be distributed (i.e., my daughter will see a copy of dad’s plan and dad will see a copy of her proposed plan); we are hoping (and praying) that the plans are fairly consistent which should make mediation an easier process. (It is if they come to an impasse in mediation then the court will become involved in the decision making with a Guardian ad litem, home inspections, etc.) I’m thinking that when the copies are distributed, a mediation day/time will also be sent. We are presently waiting…waiting for the copy of his proposed plan and mediation.

        1. Thanks Nanci, now I kinda know how to pray better~

        2. Oh, Joyce, thanks for being the prayer warrior…
          We received the copy of his proposal yesterday; unfortunately there appears to be little consistency between the two…yesterday was an extremely emotionally difficult day; my daughter is feeling quite distraught, discouraged, etc. Mediation should take place mid-August.

        3. Oh Nanci, this will be so hard…praying for all of you.

    4. Oh Diane I’m sorry for all that is happening and will continue to pray for you, Krista and your family. How is Krista doing otherwise. I haven’t seen her on lately.

      1. Krista has been doing well, though I know she is discouraged from court delays of yesterday. She is had the boys with her this week and they are coming out here to be with us beginning tomorrow. Unfortunately, her computer seems to have broken. She can’t get the internet. She can read things via her iphone but apparently cannot reply. She loves to put stuff on the internet and she is really frustrated with this. I would appreciate your continued prayers for her. This is a tough time for her, especially now that she knows there is no way she will get the boys before school starts in the Fall.

        1. Diane, thanks for updating us on how court went yesterday so we know better how to pray. I will pray for mediation to be agreed upon instead of having to go to court. I’m so sorry for the continual pain you are all enduring. You had said before that Krista was to have the boys for 4 weeks this summer – is that still happening?
          And I agree with Chris – it’s okay to sound “down” when you are feeling that way. You don’t have to put on a mask here…we all love you and are praying for you.

        2. Praying for them Diane~

    5. Diane, I know you are physically exhausted with the grandkids. Krista is so lucky to have such a caring, loving mom to help her through this wave. I too am running back and forth from my brothers house to the rehab, cooking healthy meals, and trying to find the strength to exercise my mom as much as possible (and sometimes she is grumpy!). I keep telling myself we won’t always have this time together and I need to ENJOY cooking (yuck) and ENJOY being on her schedule, and ENJOY making her exercise when she is not always excited about it. It is hard, but I am leaning in to the moment. I will pray you feel more rested and energetic for the kids 🙂 and for Krista to have peace no matter what the final decision.

    6. Diane, I can so relate…”physically and emotionally exhausted”. My heart just aches for Krista; I will continue to pray for all of you and add the special intention of a mutually agreeable resolution reached in mediation that will keep the best interests and well-being of the boys at the forefront.

  11. 7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?
    
Do not worry, in everything pray and be thankful, Gods peace will be mine (this is no small thing) He will guard my heart and mind as I turn my anxious thoughts into prayer

    8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?
    
To Pray & Give Thanks

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

    It comforted me to see that Sylvia said she thanked God for what He was going to DO with each circumstance.



    I don’t need to expect myself to rejoice that an evil act took my son’s life, but I can be thankful for the positive things that have taken place since then.
    
I can be thankful that I was blessed to be Daniels mom in the first place.

    
 I can rejoice in knowing that sometimes God uses things He hates to bring about good things for those He loves.

    1. “I don’t need to expect myself to rejoice that an evil act took my son’s life, but I can be thankful for the positive things that have taken place since then. 
I can be thankful that I was blessed to be Daniels mom in the first place”
      OH CHRIS. I am in awe of Christ’s work in you, dear sister. Praying much for you especially this week.

      1. Elizabeth, you are always the tender hearted one, thank you.

    2. Chris, you tear at my heart looking for things to rejoice about concerning Daniel’s death. I know if Daniel could tell you, he would say he’s rejoicing because you were his mother…the best there ever was…and he’s waiting for you.

    3. Chris, So true-“not rejoicing that evil has taken place but rather rejoicing knowing that sometimes God uses things he hates to bring about good things for those He loves.”-and then how you are thankful for the positive things that have taken place since then and in being blessed to be Daniels mom in the first place. I agree with Elizabeth-in awe of Christ’s work in you sweet Chris.

    4. Oh Chris, I am reminded of something Joni Eareckson Tada said…something like giving thanks, not “for”, as you say, the evil act, but giving thanks “in” the midst of it. But I hate the evil, as you do, and we know God hates it, too.

    5. Chris, you are so special.

  12. Okay, ladies, I have a confession to make. Remember I said how I am not known to be gentle? Well I proved it today, much to my dismay. Lord, I really failed to bring honor and glory to your name today. My boss told me to do something, and I needed the log in name and password to an account. He is on vacation and he told me where to get what I needed. The log in failed. I finally found out that the only person who has the correct information is our IT guy, who has always had an attitude with everyone in the organization.
    I emailed him with a cc to the boss and Mr IT responds that the boss hasn’t authorized him to give me the information. I responded that the boss gave me authority for 2 1/2 months while he was out sick to make any decisions and I am not trying to do something behind his back, he has authorized this and the boss isn’t responding because he is on vacation. Anyway, I got a very rude email back saying he wished he would never have to work with me again. I was so angry, trying to do what I was told to do and a road block… and I surely didn’t have a gentle spirit that Paul wrote to the Philippians. Oh Father, forgive me for responding in my flesh. I surrender to you and ask that you transform my heart.

    1. It’s okay Terri, your not the only one who ever got angry!

    2. terri,
      Praying for you and empathizing with you. Seems like more work energy goes into (what I think are) unnecessary roadblocks than into the work itself. I wish someone would get out of my way and let me work. But the roadblocks are what remind me to get out of the way and let Him work!

  13. 6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.

    I initially skipped #6, but now I am going to give it a try. I choose the doctrine that God is the creator of heaven and earth, is sovereign and all-powerful. God therefore not only allowed that tree to fall blocking the road, but he actually started that seedling tree with the plan that sometime later that tree would need to fall across my path. Meanwhile I am born and grown, encouraged and nurtured. I learn to appreciate trees in the upright position, and enjoy the benefits of shade, oxygen, and fruits. So when I encounter a tree lying horizontal instead of upright, (causing me to detour) I should realize it is part of God’s plan. The tree will not lie there forever — eventually it will be moved, and it will decompose and nurture more living things — all a part of God’s sovereign plan.

    Now, the tough part: My roadblock — one fractured sternum, not healing correctly, complete with thoracic surgeon about to be involved. Sovereign, Creator God knows what is going to develop. The thoracic surgeon may read the CTs for himself and say “This isn’t as bad as others have thought.” Or, of course, he could say “This needs surgery to correct.” Either way, Sovereign, Creator, all-powerful God has plans for my improved state. I may learn some things along the way. I am already learning how to let others do things for me (I have always been the Little Red Hen — the doer). My calendar of activities that I have planned may need to give way (like a decomposing tree) to nurture a new direction. This may sound rambling, but it is my best shot!

    1. Deanna, I’ve been wondering when you hear from the Dr. about what needs to be done. I’m praying for you…this has to be so stressful for you:(

      1. July 30th is my appointment day with the thoracic surgeon. I really appreciate your prayers, Joyce!

      1. Thanks for the encouragement, Dee!

    2. Funny, Deanna, I skipped #6 too! Having a hard time with it and have been thinking about it all week.

      A roadblock for me is my children, specifically my son John. He gets between me and my husband. I need to remember that God wants us to raise up our children so they will know how to live as adults. The doctrine I found is in Proverbs:

      “Start children off on the way they should go,
      and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

      I guess this is what Dee wants us to do?

      The other thing I was thinking is about praying for him to have peace and contentment, but I need to as well. I need to trust Jesus because He gives us the story of Paul in prison who finds peace even there. We need to be peaceful about our road block. It will work it’s way out eventually; in God’s time, not mine.

  14. This week (again) is SO timely. Reviewed Phil 4 today in order to face hard stuff.

  15. 3. As you read this whole passage, do you have any clues on the secret of peace? (You may change your answer at the end of the two weeks of this study — but go for it!)

    I am not sure, however the rejoice in the Lord, let our gentleness shine through, remember that the Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything phrases all point to the Lord.

    I have a question, that I am trying to work through kinda related to the study, but perhaps not. As I work through the studies on peace and contentment, I think I let things go, give them up to the Lord, yet lately I have been unable to sleep, when I do sleep I wake up tired, so that I really didn’t get a good nights sleep. Last night even though exhausted I barely got 3 hours of sleep. My question is that if I am not sleeping well, then have I really reached that peace and contentment level? If I am at peace then shouldn’t I be able to sleep well? When I go to bed, I listen to the bible on my iPod. I try to turn my thoughts to the Lord rather than things that are going on in my life and I think I am doing okay, but if I am not sleeping, am I missing something? This lack of sleep/rest is starting to irritate me, which isn’t helping the “giving it up” or being content. I know that there is a huge number of things that are going on around me, things I need to deal with, but I also know that i do not control the outcome of any of it and that it is all in His hands, not mine, but I still am not sleeping. What am I missing?

    1. Mary how hard this must be for you. When my two boys were little I would pray with them before they want to bed and I asked The Lord to give the a sweet sleep. It seemed to calm their spirits not sure if this will help you but you may want to pray that The Lord give you a peaceful nights sleep.

    2. Mary, have you talked to your Doctor about your not sleeping? I know how frustrating that can be…when you can’t sleep. Praying for you.

    3. Mary, I also think it wise to talk to your doctor to make sure there’s not a physical reason. Some studies suggest avoiding all electronic media at least an hour before bedtime (TV, computer, video games, etc.) or exercising in the evening. Not getting enough sleep is hard on you. Praying for you.

    4. Mary, I know that is a miserable situation. Another thing to suspect would be medications. Some medications, if taken too close to bedtime, can disrupt sleep. I guess this is another scenario to discuss with your doctor. Will be praying for your peace, physically and spiritually.

      1. Mary,

        I struggled with sleeping for many years. I literally had to reteach myself to fall asleep. Find a routine and try to stick to it. There are times even now when I physically cannot fall asleep but it happens much less often. Sometimes I think we can be doing everything right like renewing our mind and rejoicing and giving thanks, but our bodies still manifest a physical anxiety at times that can cause things like lack of sleep.

        I sympathize with you – it’s such a hard thing not to be able to sleep!

  16. 6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.

    This is a hard question. So many roadblocks…but I’m wondering…some are truly roadblocks, but how many do I create because (and this is from Elizabeth) “Fear and discontentment only come when I have my own plan thwarted. IF ONLY I LAY DOWN MY OWN IDEA OF WHAT WILL BRING PEACE – and rest in His idea…”

    My thoughts are often focused on what I think will bring me peace, happiness, or contentment. For example, I struggle to live in contentment within my difficult marriage, thinking how is it possible when he is not a believer, or he does this or that, or we don’t have a marriage like ‘so-and-so’. How am I supposed to be ‘happy’?
    I see how I want things to be MY WAY. I want people to behave like I want them to. I have high expectations that I bring into situations-family, church, friendships, and when it is not as I anticipated, then I’m unhappy, sad, depressed.

    I’m also seeing that I create roadblocks even in my relationship with Jesus. I am excessively hard on myself, dwelling on my past and especially how un-lovely and self-centered I was (and still can be).
    So, what is true? Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He gave His life-everything He had, to have a relationship with me. He hung-out with “sinners” and loved them-not their sin-but them. He said from the Cross, “It is finished”. Jesus also invites me to come to Him to find the kind of peace the world cannot give me, that other people cannot give me.
    It’s a big clue that I’ve turned things or people into idols when I feel blocked from peace and contentment.

    1. Susan,

      I relate to everything in this post!

  17. We sang this in Sunday school a few weeks ago. The lyrics talk about regret, which is a peace-stealer for sure. Maybe this will help someone else, too.

    HELLO MY NAME IS (by Matthew West)

    Hello, my name is regret
    I’m pretty sure we have met
    Every single day of your life
    I’m the whisper inside
    That won’t let you forget.

    Hello, my name is defeat
    I know you recognize me
    Just when you think you can win
    I’ll drag you right back down again
    Til you’ve lost all belief.

    These are the voices, these are the lies
    And I have believed them, for the very last time.

    Hello, my name is child of the one true King
    I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free.
    Amazing Grace is the song I sing
    Hello, my name is child of the one true King.

    I am no longer defined
    By all the wreckage behind
    The One who makes all things new
    Has proven it’s true

    Just take a look at my life
    What love the Father has lavished upon us
    That we should be called His children
    I am a child of the one true King.

    1. Great song, Susan. It is sad how much we ruin our day by letting the voices in our head cause us to live in regret, defeat or fear. we need to live as a child of the King lavishly loved and cared for – not a care in the world.

    2. Thanks for sharing this, Susan. So true, so good!

  18. This teaching has been very helpful to me. As Dee knows, I am experiencing the same disappointment regarding the little idyllic church in Wisconsin. I was just getting happily settled in up there, and “boom”, the tree falls across the road, so to speak. So, I have a choice to make. I can whine, complain, gossip and fall into all sorts of sinful patterns. Or I can choose to lasoo my thought life and bring it back in line with Scripture. I will chose to press on my heart the words from Phil. 4:5, “The Lord is at hand” and 6, “Do not be anxious about anything”, and focus on what a contented person has learned to focus on, the words of vs. 8. It is a choice I’ll have to make minute by minute.

    Of course, this is not high tide grief, just major disappointment. And I am so thankful you have been teaching our Sunday School, Dee. It is such a blessing to have you there!!

  19. 6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.
    Tonight I am viewing this question a little differently. My “road” is a certain relationship, that seems to continually get “cut off” by “trees” that fall in the way. They block the chance at intimacy, growth. So as I was praying today, I asked the Lord what my road block is, what it REALLY is. I think the answer is fear of rejection, masked by self-righteousness. The only way, in my mind, that the tree can be lifted, is if this other person finally comes around and loves me in the way I believe they “should”. I did this with my now-deceased dad too. I waited and waited, and the tree never got out of the way, intimacy never came.
    The doctrine that melts both my self-righteousness and my fear of rejection, is one of Keller’s oft-quoted truths (in my own words)—I am so depraved and sinful that He had to die for me, and so absolutely, undeniably loved—that He did it willingly.

    1. Oh, elizabeth, you touch my heart with your honest sharing. Love this paraphrase of Keller “I am so depraved and sinful that He had to die for me, and so absolutely, undeniably loved—that He did it willingly.” It even rhymes LOL!

    2. Elizabeth, thank you for sharing this with us. I also can identify with what you said, “The only way, in my mind, that the tree can be lifted, is if this other person finally comes around and loves me in the way I believe they “should”.”
      Now, I will put a different “spin” on this – our road to God was blocked by a tree we had no hope of moving. Thankfully, He didn’t wait for us to come around and love Him the way He deserves to be loved. Instead, He removed the tree and loved us the way we were. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

  20. 7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?
    He commands me to not worry—about anything. Instead—pray about everything, and give Him thanks. Ask for His help, surrender to His ways. And His peace will protect both my heart and my mind. This makes me think specifically of protection from idols—my wants, derived from my heart, and my ways of going about getting my wants met, comes from my mind. If I continually submit my ways fully to God, He will guard me against the lure of idols.

  21. 8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?
    Pray about everything; Give thanks—always!

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

    “thanking God for what He was going to do with each devastating circumstance” This can be harder than I want to admit. And yet, I have seen Him bring beauty from ashes—over and over. I think it must be a choice—choosing to offer thanks, for all the possible outcomes, out of full trust in who He is, and what He has promised.

    10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known — not telling God what to do — but to act — and then thank Him.

    All-knowing, all-loving, perfect God, I surrender my will, my aches, my fears, my pain. I choose to trust You because You are worthy of all trust. Your ways are good, and I thank You for that. I thank You that no matter what the outcome, I can know it is what is best. I thank You for Your power over every detail. I ask, Lord, that You would take my heart—cleanse me, break me, re-make me. Be glorified in this relationship, Lord. I thank You that nothing is impossible with You.

    1. ………..”All-knowing, all-loving, perfect God, I surrender my will, my aches, my fears, my pain. I choose to trust You because You are worthy of all trust. Your ways are good, and I thank You for that. I thank You that no matter what the outcome, I can know it is what is best. I thank You for Your power over every detail. I ask, Lord, that You would take my heart—cleanse me, break me, re-make me. Be glorified in this relationship, Lord. I thank You that nothing is impossible with You”…….Elizabeth, I am going to save this prayer and keep praying it over and over, as it is like you wrote it for me…oh how I needed this, thank you so much!!

  22. Just want to share a “kiss” from God with you ladies. I shared how discouraged I was last night. Well, of course, much of my worry is for those little boys and their future. Well, they have been attending “Backyard Bible Clubs” this week and Krista has been aware that the middle one, Josh (almost 5) has been understanding more and more about Jesus. Tonight as they were discussing the booklet about Jesus, Josh said that he wants to be like Jesus and wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. Krista had the privilege of praying with him about that. I know he is young but it is still an important and miraculous step toward God and a great reassurance to me that God is still at work in the midst of all this mess that is going on with the family. Thank you precious Jesus for your amazing love though we are such great sinners and for opening the heart of a little child to receive You.

    1. oh Lord, THANK YOU–for calling precious little Josh–thank You for this ETERNAL blessing amidst such immense struggle and strife here. Thank You Lord for the evidence of Your presence–and the reminder that all of this here is temporary–but you are preparing our eternal Home–without tears or pain. Thank You that Josh will have the shelter of Your wings for the road ahead of him. You know the plans You have for him, and I pray he will grow up to be a man after Your heart, Lord. Thank You for this huge kiss!!

    2. Oh Diane…this must really thrill your heart (and Krista’s, too)! God is at work in your family!

    3. Diane, I seen this on facebook from Krista and I am so happy for little Josh and all of you!!

  23. 11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?

    Money and people, including myself 🙁

  24. 6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.

    My current major roadblock is my own doubt. I have dreams and desires for my life, many of which have turned into idols. I lose sight of the fact that not all of my desires come from God; even good desires can be fleshly. I default to trusting my own plan and not God’s. I fear that if I don’t make things happen, life will pass me by. I see others following these same dreams and desires and I am triggered by their apparent fulfillment. This world doesn’t fill me and I really need to rejoice in that truth (I am a child of God!), but oftentimes it grieves me. I need perseverance and character and hope. I need to remember that my life is not my own; I have been bought.

    I am meditating on four truths:

    God gives what is best.
    God knows what is best.
    God is what is best.
    God does what is best.

    Also, Psalm 34:10-
    The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek The Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.

    In the end, I really do trust Him. I now have to appropriate that on a moment by moment basis.

    1. I’ve bought into dangerous slogans like “follow your dreams” and “you deserve better.” But “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” He became nothing for me. He gave up his rights to save Himself and I am called to give up my rights to seek to get my needs met by the people and things of this world.

    2. Great truths to drive down deep, Laura. Thank you. I need to meditate on this too.

      “God gives what is best.
      God knows what is best.
      God is what is best.
      God does what is best.

      Also, Psalm 34:10-
      The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek The Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”

      Right now, I am going through something that does not seem good for me or my family, but it is part of the mystery of God doing what is best and I must believe and trust Him. I believe this is part of the “hard mercies” of God. Some days, though, this is very hard. My selfish nature rebels against this. I need to die to self.

      1. Diane,

        I’ve often found myself miserable throughout the day when I focus on being dead to sin. If all I do throughout my day is fight sin and reckon myself dead to the world, I can be pretty unhappy. I’m missing out on the second half of the gospel – that I am alive to God through Jesus. I sometimes struggle with seeing how this can become a reality in my daily walk. How do I focus my day on being alive to God? For me, it’s the whispers that I get to help someone or give someone a ride or whatever small way I can express love through faith. When I say yes to these things, the constant battle to say no to the others slides into the background. And I realize that I really am a new creation with new desires.

    3. Good stuff Laura.

  25. 7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?

    If I have a problem, any problem, don’t sit and “stew” about it, or worry, or be anxious. Instead, talk to God about it. I looked up definition of petition. It means to make a request of a very powerful person. Paul also says to pray and petition God “with thanksgiving”. He says it is in this way we are to “present your requests to God”.
    When I think of people who are excellent hostesses, they just don’t serve you the meal, it’s all about the presentation, too. (I’m not too great at the presentation part:)
    So in my mind, the “thanksgiving” part is kind of like a beautiful china plate that I place my prayers/requests on to present them to God. Many times I forget that part, and my prayer/petition time becomes a griping, complaining, whining session. Even if I can’t give thanksgiving about a certain situation, I can focus on thanking God for His good attributes and qualities.
    If I do this, I will receive God’s peace in my heart and mind.

    8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?

    Pray and give thanks – in ALL circumstances.

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

    Sylvia’s friend endured one tragedy after another. We would all nod our heads in agreement that she had a right to feel discouraged. And her discouragement went on for a long time. She could’ve stayed that way, but she made a decision to begin to thank God for what He would do with each circumstance. She probably didn’t “feel” like doing that, but the change in her was remarkable. She has a peace now that others notice.

  26. PRAYER REQUEST
    If you have time, please pray for my husband, Jeff. Details are too long, but work is very stressful right now – he’s doing required appraisals of people who work for him, meeting with people, some difficult decisions to be made, pressure on him from those higher-up.

    1. Susan–so sorry I couldn’t comment earlier–but I did see this and have been praying!

      1. I’m very late but am praying now for Jeff and the pressures at his work. Will keep praying too.

  27. 12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.

    He will never abandon me, ever. I am His, he takes ownership, unlike the worker who leaves. When you own something, you care for it. He knows me best. He loves me furiously and would die for me. I am His.

  28. 6. It is your turn. Consider a roadblock you are facing. Now take a doctrine, think on it, and apply it to your roadblock.
    Jeremiah 29:11…Matthew 6:25-33
    The Lord is good, faithful and trustworthy. Life is not always the easiest, but the Lord is in charge and always has the last “word”. The Lord has my granddaughter’s well-being and best interests in mind…He loves her with a love incomprehensible to the human mind. Trust…I must trust that the Lord has this well-in-hand; my perception and comprehension is limited. He knows my granddaughter’s part in His story…with a storyline of His providence, i.e., wisdom, care and guidance provided by the Lord.

    7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?
    “Worry” is a waste of time and energy, it has no “useful” purpose. Rather than worrying (which is fruitless) realize that the Lord has all well-in-hand…thank Him for His provision and providence. When I surrender my “worry” to the Lord, trusting in His provision and providence, I will experience the Lord’s peace, His peace of mind and peace of heart.

    8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?
    pray…be thankful to God in all circumstances.

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.
    I was struck by “thanking God for what He was going to do with each devastating circumstance”…it reminded me of Ann Voskamp’s “all is grace”. It brings me to terms such as “trust” and “surrender” and questions…”do I really trust the Lord?…trust in His provision?, trust in His providence? trust in His sovereignty?, trust in His goodness? “Worry” speaks louder than the words to answer these questions…I fall short and find myself praying more often than not, “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief”…Lord I trust You, help me to trust you more.

    1. Praying with you Nanci and for your sweet grandbaby.

      1. thanks, Joyce…much appreciated.

  29. Here is the road that has opened up that we must travel, it was announced yesterday that 2 people have been indicted in Daniel’s death. We have known this was coming for almost a month, but were not at liberty to talk openly about it.


    http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2013/07/26/news/doc51f181efd5760007008518.txt?viewmode=4

    10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known — not telling God what to do — but to act — and then thank Him.



    My prayer:
    May Bill and I will walk forward in a way that honors You Lord, that your power will be displayed through our lives in a way that draws people to You. Please guard our minds and protect our unity as a couple, help me to resist retreat into aloneness, make us gracious with people who don’t say the right things.

    I ask that we will think clearly and as You would have us to think about the crime and the criminals. 


    May I be free to remember Daniel now in a way I have felt blocked from doing, lead us in how we should honor his memory. Thank you for gifting us with Daniel, he was an exceptional person.

    
Please Please Lord draw our children to you, let us see how we can shine your light into their lives.


    Thank you for our pastors, our church family, our friends, the support we have had from the community and here on the blog, thank you for my sisters in Christ who have helped carry the load. Thank you for so many ways in which you have already answered these prayers, Bill is so changed, the old is gone and the new has so clearly come in him. Thank you for protecting us in ways we will never know and all the answers to these prayers that we have yet to see.

    Thank you for an answered prayer that this seems to be a rock solid case, Not a painful path that will lead to them going free. Thank you for Your timing in all of this, our response when people asked us was always that You knew what had happened and if and when it was time for us to know You would bring it to light. Thank you for this.


    Thank you most of all for the promises of eternity in heaven, no more tears, no more broken bodies, no more evil, no more suffering, may we begin praising and glorifying you now in a way that lasts forevermore.

    1. Oh Chris, wow! So heavy! Words fail. Praying, precious Chris, for you and your family.

    2. OH–the articles, the faces–just BROKEN for you, with you Chris. Praying your prayers with you–been praying much for you and Bill. Love you Chris

    3. Oh Chris, just saw this in my inbox-read the article-and tears-Oh Daniel’s sweet precious face, and those evil men’s faces-oh… My heart is just breaking. Love you so..wish I could be there with you.

      1. Chris,

        Just the other day I asked God to show me what fruit looks like in a believer. Sometimes it’s hard for me to distinguish between real fruit and the fake stuff. In this post, you just showed me and everyone else here what authentic fruit in a mature believer looks like. Thank you. I am amazed by your courage and perseverance.

        Praying for your family.

    4. Chris…I don’t have words…I am so sorry for all that you have endured…I will pray for you and Bill in all the special intentions you requested. I echo Laura…”you just showed me and everyone else here what authentic fruit in a mature believer looks like. Thank you. I am amazed by your courage and perseverance.”

    5. Chris, my heart is so heavy for you, and I’ve been praying for you and the rest of your family. Thank you for sharing your personal prayer so we can pray it with you. I agree with Laura and Nanci…I am amazed at your courage and perseverance in the face of this evil that was done to your son. Love you, Chris.

    6. Chris, I also weep and pray with you and your family. This will be very difficult for you in the months to come, but be assured that God is for you and we will all be lifting you up in prayer. Love you Chris.

      1. 11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?



        This shifts around for me, sometimes I trust in food to comfort me, I trust in my husband to make me feel okay, I trust in my ability to manage our funds, I trust in our church, none of these are inherently wrong things, but I know can rachet up what I desire/expect to an unhealthy level and then idolatrous level pretty quickly if I am not abiding in Christ.

        12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.



        “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”



        14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep” They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

        

Jesus willingly laid down His life for us…for me
.
        He promises that we will know Him, I will know Him, I will hear His voice, I will follow Him.
        
It is good to me to dwell on the of the unity of one flock, one Shepard, no divisions, no strife, perfect leadership, perfect peace.
        

It stood out to me, I am sure because of our path right now, that so often Jesus spoke plainly but the hearers did not understand. Sometimes He is leading us, speaking plainly to us and we do not understand. But we can trust that He is completely good, willingly laying down His life to save and protect us, we can follow Him without fear.
         

      2. Thank you all, I know that the prayers of you righteous women have been an instrument God has used to sustain us in this whole ordeal, and that will continue to be true.
        Once again I think of the image of us all here on Dee’s blog together in a boat with our arms linked together so no one is lost to the sea. If God is for us who can be against us?

        1. Once again I think of the image of us all here on Dee’s blog together in a boat with our arms linked together so no one is lost to the sea. If God is for us who can be against us?

          Love that thought, Chris!

    7. Oh my Chris! I just read this crying and thanking God for the authorities who linked the pieces to this awful crime. I read the article with my dear Sarah, who was confused on why I cried. I explained that we had been here, on the blog, for several years together and hurt along with you; how it must be like losing a part of yourself. She asked why they would do such a horrible thing. I said there is evil in the world and our males 18-25 need real mental help (my opinion on the state of the shootings over the past few years). Your story and statement made to the newspaper has ministered to us today (and over the years), Chris. Sarah and I heard your faithful words and love of Christ. Thank you, and thank God for making these people pay a price for what they did.

      1. Laura, I feel that the statement made to the newspaper by Bill and Chris is going to minister to so many…it does come through so strongly, their love for the Lord.

    8. Oh Chris,
      No words for this — the pain, the evil
      I am praying for you and Bill as you continue to cling to Him.

      Your description of Daniel — especially the part about being Irish, liking that he looked Irish (so true) and the tiny hint of a smile your pastor showed when he read that part — provided such a vivid image of LIFE and such a contrast with the evil/darkness that took his life.

      May you feel His loving presence during the days and months to come.

      1. I think the sheriff was ready to break down and cry any second too:( How hard this is for all the community I’m sure. Chris, were these two evil guys from your town or just passing through? Praying for all of you Chris.

    9. Oh Chris! I just read this and I am praying. Oh LORD, may Your strong arms undergird Chris and Bill as they walk this most difficult road. Thank You for the growth You have accomplished in Bill and also in Chris. We know Lord that You have prepared them for this moment and that You are with them. Show us how to pray. Thank You Lord, Amen.

  30. Had to post this, it so relates to our study (to me!)–we’re singing it Sunday–it’s long, so I’ll condense:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=327SwiM1qMA

    Pensive, doubting, fearful heart,
    Hear what Christ the Savior says;
    Every word should joy impart,
    Change thy mourning into praise:

    Yes, he speaks, and speaks to thee,
    May he help thee to believe!
    Then thou presently wilt see,
    Thou hast little cause to grieve.

    “Fear thou not, nor be ashamed,
    All thy sorrows soon shall end
    I who heav’n and earth have framed,
    Am thy husband and thy friend

    I the High and Holy One,
    Israel’s GOD by all adored;
    As thy Savior will be known,
    Thy Redeemer and thy Lord.

    For a moment I withdrew,
    And thy heart was filled with pain;
    But my mercies I’ll renew,
    Thou shalt soon rejoice again:
    Though I scorn to hide my face,
    Very soon my wrath shall cease;
    ‘Tis but for a moment’s space,
    Ending in eternal peace….
    What a God of love can do.

    1. Elizabeth, that was so pretty and the words just touch my very soul…thank you.

  31. I think I missed welcoming Leah and Toni–so glad to have you here with us!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! It’s been good to be here this week!:)

  32. 7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?

    Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?

    Pray continually (in every situation), Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for me in Christ Jesus.

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

    She went through a period of discouragement due to the tragedies in her life-but when she started thanking God for what He was going to do with each devastating circumstance she began to change and have His peace.

    I don’t think she was looking for God’s peace necessarily, rather she was wanting to be with God and she met with Him and thanked Him for what He was going to do with each circumstance and I really think she was confident He was going to do something with these-that these were in His will for her. As she let go and let Him have these issues she began to experience His peace.

  33. 10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known — not telling God what to do — but to act — and then thank Him.

    I have a few-I will choose one for now. In the middle of something not devastating, but hard.

    Lord, as you already know- I have taken refuge in my comfort idol again for I have been anxious. I am discouraged because this has affected the security I once knew and I am not trusting you as my security in this-so I am on my knees admitting I am a wretch and I have failed to trust you again yet your precious blood covers me. Please mess with my heart for you are more beautiful than anything here-any security. You are my security. Thank you that because of this trial I could sense your presence in Elizabeth and my conversation yesterday. Thank you for what you are doing with this already. I don’t know how this will turn out but I thank you for how you have moved in this trial helping us see how much you love us for you provide every breath we take-every piece of bread we eat whether in plenty or in need. Help me to lay down and let you have me in this. I am grateful your hands have never left my clay. You are my redeemer, my rescuer, my savior and I am grateful for how you have provided even though I wasn’t trusting you..just like the Cross-you are unchanging God! You took on my rejection and sin on the cross so that when I fail I wouldn’t be rejected. You are savior and I ask that as you mess with my heart-redeem me from myself again though this. I ask you to act on our behalf and give us some relief from emergencies so we can have time to re-build with a goal to honor you in that. Help us to have the motives-not for our comfort but for hospitality and of being able to give back to you everything we are, everything we have. In Jesus name, amen.

    1. My prayer as well, Rebecca…well said…
      “Help me to lay down and let you have me in this. I am grateful your hands have never left my clay.”

    2. Praying this prayer for you and your family Rebecca.

  34. 11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?

    Trusting in the comfort of security of provision.

    12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.

    OH WOW…Verses 11-13 became radioactive: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”

    I am probably not interpreting this right but my comfort idol seems to be this ‘hired hand’-and the wolf is satan. He runs away when satan is near and lets satan have me because he doesn’t care one iota for me.

    BUT JESUS DOES. I CAN TRUST MY SAVIOR-JESUS CHRIST. Here is why: Verse 14 first and then 10: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP….10. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I HAVE COME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.”

    -HE brought me into the dance-He knows me and I know Him just as the Father knows Jesus and Jesus knows Him. I am His sheep and He is my shepherd. He will never abandon me when the wolf comes rather He lays down His life for me. My idol will let the wolf in to destroy, but I am in Jesus and He in me and He has come that I may have life to the full. So I can run to Him and trust Him to turn around for good whatever this wolf tries to do to me.

    When my idol flees and the wolf whispers God doesn’t care-the truth is He is my shepherd and is carefully attentive to my ways every second of the day! AND HE LAID HIS LIFE DOWN FOR ME! Jesus is carefully attentive and will rescue me from the wolves sickening whispers. Jesus, who is all powerful, all knowing-will crush satan in the end- loves me, my idol doesn’t.

    Knowing this truth-how can I run to the hired hand to fight for me? He will take off. Jesus has laid His life down for me so that I could be His, rescued eternally from His wrath-yet also He is rescuing me daily from myself, from satan’s whispers and from that hired hand who gives me a sense of faux security.

    So I want to weave this reality into my heart throughout the day today-for satan will battle my thoughts-but Jesus has won again…so sweet

    1. To clarify what I meant in the 5th paragraph: When my idol flees and the wolf whispers (in my ear) “God doesn’t care”.

  35. 10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known — not telling God what to do — but to act — and then thank Him.

    Lord, You know my limited perception and comprehension…all I can see is X’s shortcomings, a lack of interest and maturity, misguided priority; I see his deceit, his manipulation, his self-focus. Through this lenses I see only faults…I allow myself to dip into the pit of bitterness and resentment, hardening my heart… Lord, I trust that You know what is best for my granddaughter and have all well-in-hand. What looks to me as only darkness does not see/consider “Your light”…Your provision, Your providence, Your goodness… Lord, may Your perfect will be done. Thank You for Your plan, Your story, Your providence…I trust in You, help me to trust You more.

    1. Amen

  36. 11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?
    my own abilities to figure things out, to get things done, to make things “right”…my parents’ guidance…my husband’s abilities, point of view, discernment, provision.

    12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.
    “He walks ahead of them (His sheep)”…”I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.”…”I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep … I know My own sheep, and they know Me, just as My Father knows Me and I know the Father.”

  37. 13. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-AWAY AND WHY?
    My take-away is the realization of my lack of trust in the Lord…yes, in my head/heart I think I “know” that God is all, everything, completely trustworthy, yet I so often fall into “self” strategies to try to figure it out/reconcile circumstance/make things “right”…how often I lose sight of who is really in control…whose story it is…rather than resting in the Lord’s character, providence, and grace, I once again become the “doer,” trying to figure it out, make it right, etc. This week’s study once again highlights my control idol that unfortunately is still alive and well (discouraging…).

  38. Jay update from Bridget dated July 24…

    “Today, Jay played on a playground for the first time since his cancer diagnosis. He had a blast!! We finally got the ok from his doctors for him to do some normal kid stuff and we didn’t waste any time. His favorite things were the slides, which he could have played on for hours. He also found the other kids fascinating, probably because he could never be around other kids due to infection risk. It was wonderful to see him so happy….we have waited so long to chase him around!!”

    1. Nanci J. So excited to hear this! How awesome to have gotten to enjoy this wonderful moment with him. I can’t imagine how hard this has been on him. It is sweet to hear this!

    2. I’m so happy to hear this about little Jay!

    3. Nanci–the best news of my week! What a wonderful answer to prayers for sweet Jay! Thank you for letting us share in this journey and be encouraged by God’s work in it. 🙂

  39. 12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire.

    Oh, I love this passage. I didn’t get to verse 4 before I got that choked up feeling in my throat. I know these are familiar verses, and yet—with the ongoing trial we seem to be under at home, I am struck anew by verses 3 and 4.
    v. 3: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Reminds me of Isaiah 43:1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are Mine”. He calls me by name—specifically. He knows me. He leads me out of the pit, to Him.
    v. 4: “He goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” “Before me”—means that I must get behind Him. Follow, submit, allow myself to be led.

    13. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-AWAY AND WHY?

    My take-away is Chris’ story. Oh, why can I not type for 5 seconds without the tears! Our study this week, on finding contentment despite circumstances–God’s timing amazes me. Chris is our own Paul. “A ROCK, NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES.” And we know she will continue to weep, to mourn, to break. She is real, honest with her pain. But she has not turned away from Him. She has endured the worst of the worst—the one nightmare I believe any of us would have—the loss of a dear loved one in a horrifying way. And yet. HE IS GREATER. I see that. I can believe it because of her model before me. And yes, honestly, her trial makes every thing I deal with seem terribly small. But when I see that she is drawing ever nearer to her Savior, when I hear how she and Bill have together drawn near and allowed God to use this to strengthen them, rather than tear them from each other. It is real-life-in-front-of-my-face proof that OUR GOD is greater. He is the Rescuer, the Redeemer, the Victorious King on the white horse. I wish I could write more, but I am mush.

    1. Elizabeth, when i read your comment in my email box I lept inside. I feel the same as you-my takeaway is Chris’ story-her authenticity and His changing her..I can’t get her transformation off of my mind.

      You said this so well: “It is real-life-in-front-of-my-face proof that OUR GOD is greater. He is the Rescuer, the Redeemer, the Victorious King on the white horse. I wish I could write more, but I am mush.”

      I couldn’t help but notice God came with justice this month in July. Then the month they were led to the suspects was in July 2012 due to a burglary. And the map Dee posted last week? God’s fingerprints are all over this. Like what you said-He knows his sheep-He knows Chris’ heart. God deeply cares and He is coming to her in her grief. He is our unchanging God who is our victorious King on the white horse. so good.

    2. I fully agree with you about Chris, Elizabeth.

    3. Elizabeth, at the beginning of this week, I pondered the “silence after the crash (of the tree)”, the “then what do we do?” Your last paragraph is pure GOLD…and it’s all about Chris (and Bill). It is real life, living proof, that our God is greater. Every word you write about Chris is true, and is truly amazing and beautiful how God is working in her, how she hasn’t turned away from Him and is enduring with His help. How Chris is living this out is the answer to the “then what do we do”.

    4. Thank you, Elizabeth, for so eloquently expressing the thoughts and feelings of so many of your blogging sisters regarding Chris…
      “She is real, honest with her pain. But she has not turned away from Him. She has endured the worst of the worst … And yet, HE IS GREATER. I see that. I can believe it because of her model before me.”

  40. 7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?
    The only way to protect our hearts from feeling anxious is to go to God in every situation and let Him give us peace.

    8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?
    All circumstances. Again, we neglect to take things to Him and praise Him in all circumstances, big and small, which means we are leaving Him out of our lives. We must take Him along in everything. The acknowledgement of His presence is the secret and reiterates the verse that says, “the Lord is near” proceeding the “do not be anxious” verses.

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.
    I hope I can say I could do the same thing. My prayer is that when faced with the multiple trials I would respond to God by giving thanks. I feel like I have been able to thank Him when faced with little trials. I just look to the many amazing women in my life who have endured and can still give God thanks and pray their example will help encourage me to do the same, just like Sylvia.

    10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known — not telling God what to do — but to act — and then thank Him.
    Lord, I thank you that You have established so many beautiful bodies of Christ that I am now finding it difficult to choose one to regularly serve with. I am thankful for this circumstance because I see it is a good problem to have because it means You are working so mightily in so many churches around me. I thank you Lord, that You are doing a mighty work in my community and I know I will be blessed wherever we end up. I will continue to trust You and my husband as we walk forward each day and eventually find ourselves in the right church home for us.

    11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?
    Perhaps, I am just placing my trust in each church that I attend while in this transitional phase. But Christ is the
    Head of my Church. He is enough. Each time we walk into a church,rather than trying to derive the answers from the body, I should be looking to the Head and trusting Him to be my answer.

    12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.
    I loved meditating on these verses at the beginning of the week. As I have been thinking and meditating more on the current circumstances I realize that every other voice has the potential to let me down because it is not the voice of my Shepherd. I need to remember this so I don’t get caught up in the decision. I need to just keep spending time with Him and listening to Him. And trusting Him.

    13. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-AWAY AND WHY?
    Just draw near to Him. It is what I know but need to do. I also think I need to do more drawing near to Him with my husband which sometimes is hard because we experience God differently. I also know that I must continue to be thankful and as I focus on God and not on the circumstances, I will be able to remain thankful.

  41. 11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?

    I feel like a fraud. Some “next steps” seem so obvious to me that I trust in my own ability to plan, implement plans, and do what is “right.” The roadblocks remind me that He is near and that He loves me. It’s as if He is using the roadblocks to say, “Renee, rest in me. You don’t have to bear the burdens alone. I am with you.”

    12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.

    part of v 10 from The Message “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

    13. Take-away

    I desire to honor Him — and often forget about Him at the same time. Sometimes I act as if I’m trying to be SuperWoman, going off to fight evil and injustice, assuming that I am doing God’s work.

    As difficult and exhausting as roadblocks have been for the past year, I’m starting to see His love in the roadblocks. This summer, the roadblocks became too extreme for my brains and whatever tree-moving equipment I brought in. The roadblock still is there; each time I see a way through, another barrier shows up. I also am seeing that with each barrier, I am turning to Him more quickly and I’m not as distraught. I wonder if it’s because I’m too tired to care; but I don’t think that’s it (I’m not as exhausted as I was a couple of weeks ago).

    My take-away is what stood out to me earlier in the week — The Lord is near. When I fully grasp that and trust Him, life will be more real and better than I ever dreamed. Because He is near, I can rejoice that He has allowed the roadblocks.

  42. I wrote my take away several days ago and I agree that the world seems changed in light of Chris’ news. I share it because I can’t think on it anymore. It is adequate and it is done. I don’t mean that in a bad way but rather that I am ready to move on. I want to think about these new things and pray.

    12. I have come to the place where I am a little skeptical of formulas but this week I will take one away. I think that dependence on God is the path to peace and the thinking, thanking and loving is an action plan to stay on that path. One of my greatest treasures is a list of attributes of God and some verses to go with each one. These help me to think on who God is and understand what great treasure I possess in Him. This practice shifts my focus off of circumstances and onto Him. Thanking we have talked much about and it has changed my life. So how can I not love Him when I practice these things? He is removing the walls that separate us and I trust Him with that.

    1. I hope the comment about formulas does not sound critical. I’m sorry. It is not meant to be.

    2. I agree, Anne…
      ” I think that dependence on God is the path to peace and the thinking, thanking and loving is an action plan to stay on that path. … This practice shifts my focus off of circumstances and onto Him.”

  43. 10. Now it’s your turn. Consider a hard circumstance and thank God for what He is going to do. Let your request be made known – not telling God what to do – but to act – and then thank Him.

    Lord, You know how much I depend on others to make me feel secure. I feel the most comfort and security when I’m surrounded by my family. Perhaps I also feel like I have some sort of control over life, too, when we are all together. I am lonely in my marriage yet I know that even if I wasn’t, I shouldn’t put my trust in anyone other than You to fulfill me. Most of the time I turn to flesh and blood people for comfort. I see two of my children pursuing paths in life that may one day take them far from home; I see my aging parents; I see my husband and me living more like roommates sharing a house and I am so afraid of ending-up all alone. Please help me to enjoy and love my family but not to keep chasing after substitutions for Your love and companionship. I am always seeking that kind of love, but often in the wrong ways. I want to thank You for drawing me to Yourself in the first place – I didn’t know you and I wasn’t looking for You, either. That shows me that I was the object of Your love and You wanted me. I would like You help me experience and understand in a deeper way the love You have for me and for You to fill up the empty places inside. I can thank You already because I know You have the power to do this. Thank You for being merciful, caring, and compassionate, and thank You for Your promise to never leave me nor forsake me.

  44. 11. Our tendency is to put our trust in the transitory. What are you trusting that is transitory?

    I didn’t pay attention previously to that little picture of the ocean with the words, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever”. We didn’t get to go on vacation this summer, but like last summer, every time we get to the ocean, I can’t wait to get down to the beach and see the ocean, and it’s always faithfully the same as it was in my memory-the water coming in and out, the sound of it, the smell of the saltwater. We go to the same area every time, and I love the sense of the familiar, of knowing where everything is. I think that is the longing of my heart – for things that are unchanging, lasting, familiar, predictable, dependable, and how that comforts me.
    I guess I trust in “life as I know it” and my family to make me feel secure. But everything in this life truly is transitory, is changing. People grow and change…they move away, they die. It is painful to put trust in the transitory.

    But when I read way back in Genesis about the God who talked face-to-face with Abraham – He’s still the same God I can talk to today – it’s Him! Jesus isn’t transitory…He’s the only One I can truly rest in.

  45. 12. Meditate on John 10:1-18, one picture that is painted of our unchanging God. Press some phrases into your heart until they catch fire. This is a God you can trust.

    I see a lot of emphasis on the words “listening” and “voice”. That’s an important question to ask myself – whose voice am I listening to? I believe Satan tries to trick us all the time to listen to his voice (lies).
    As far as trusting in the transitory, the hired hand runs away when the wolf comes; he let the sheep down in a big way.
    The Good Shepherd, Jesus, is committed to us, forever. I can trust Him to care for me.

    13. What is your take-away and why?

    I don’t know if I have one. The past few weeks, I feel a sense of momentum, of something building. I’m thinking about God’s timing with that map, the “You are here”, how that was where Chris and Bill were sitting outside the hospital. That wasn’t a coincidence. Now the two men who brought so much evil and pain have been caught, and Chris described it not as a roadblock but a road opening up that they must travel. God is moving, and He will bring Chris and her family forward. I have every confidence that at some point in the future, Chris will not feel like she’s in the same place on that map.
    God gives each of us that same hope – we may be “here” on our journeys, but He is moving us where He wants to take us.

    1. Susan–this is gold “God gives each of us that same hope – we may be “here” on our journeys, but He
      is moving us where He wants to take us.” Also the emphasis on listening–so good.

  46. 7. Meditate on Philippians 4:6-7. What does it say?

    When situations in life come where we can feel anxious, we are to stop and go to God: to be thankful that He is in control and ask Him to act. When we put ourselves so completely in His hands, then His peace will protect us from fear and more anxiety. I appreciate that the verse says God’s peace will protect both our hearts – which I take as our emotions and our minds – our very thoughts. Both our emotions and our thoughts can pull us away from God.

    8. Compare this with 1 Thess 5:16-18. What commands are duplicated?

    Rejoice always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances

    9. Comment on Sylvia’s testimony about her friend above.

    When we begin to be thankful for the trials that God gives us, it shows a trust in Him that surely is pleasing to Him. He knows the deep pain that some of these trials bring and is so willing to work good through them.