YOU ARE MOVING AHEAD IN EXCITEMENT
SENSING THE LORD HAS SOLVED A PROBLEM,
IS LEADING YOU IN A GOOD PATH,
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?
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.
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.
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.
WAVE UPON WAVE CAME TO HIM:
AND IMPENDING MARTYRDOM.
YET HE WAS NOT MOVED.
PAUL KNEW THE SECRET
OF CONTENTMENT IN PLENTY AND IN WANT.
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
This 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
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.
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.
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.
13. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-AWAY AND WHY?