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My daughter Sally and her four-year-old Sadie and two-year-old Claire cleaning the daisies from the sandbox at my home















Sadie’s weapon

I told Sally the next morning and she asked, “Was it a hard cover book?”

“Yes. Pat-The-Bunny.”

Sally cringed.

I confessed to my daughter: “I didn’t handle it well. Not only should I have gotten in there sooner, but then I immediately made Sadie say she was sorry to Claire, and she screamed ‘SORRY’ in anger. I definitely didn’t get to her heart.”

Sally responded, “It’s so challenging to get to the heart!”

That afternoon Sally and I hiked through the woods and talked about why godly people pray that their children will receive Christ early — not at all meaning they should be pressured, for we want it to be real — and we don’t want some eager beaver VBS teacher to lead them in the sinner’s prayer and for them to go on to doubt that they really meant it.

But we can pray for that hunger in their hearts, and for His Spirit to draw and illumine them early, for indeed, it to be real. We want that, not just to overcome the penalty of sin, but to overcome the power of sin. I know little children who are indeed born-again and have very tender hearts toward God. As Proverbs say, Even a child can be known by his doing.

A gospel-transformed heart leads to better behavior. We can’t make it happen, but we can pray.

And we can pray for our own hearts, hearts that are regenerate but tend to default to works-righteousness, to pressing the will instead of allowing the Gospel truths to transform our hearts.

This is why I want to take Psalm 37 and ask ourselves, “How can we apply the gospel to this? How can the gospel penetrate our hearts so that we can overcome sin?”

I chose Psalm 37 because, as Derek Kidner says, it almost seems like a chapter from Proverbs, and in fact, many verses in Proverbs parallel these verses. The mistake people make with Proverbs, and could make with Psalm 37, is to press the will to try to obey. But that method always leads to failure for our hearts are defective and deceitful, like a leaky boat, and will go down before long. I find I can sail off, determined to press the will (I will not eat those potato chips, I will not harbor vindictive thoughts toward the person who hurt me, I will not get anxious…) but within a very short time I sink. I can’t do it. Who will deliver me?nadine-dorries-boa_2394809b


So let us consider how to apply the Gospel to Psalm 37.

Sunday Icebreaker

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

2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.

Monday-Thursday Bible Study


Prepare your heart by singing along with this:

3. Read Psalm 37:1-9

A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?

B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.

C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.

One way to approach this psalm would be to talk about why we should not envy the wicked, why we should not fret, why we should not lose our tempers, and why we should be generous to those in need. All those admonitions are true. But because we are approaching this psalm through the lens of gospel transformation, I’d like you to take the command, “Don’t fret” and apply it to the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker with which you frequently wrestle. I think that the reason we run to our idols instead of God is because we are worried that He won’t meet us. What I’d like you to do is to take that fear in relation to your struggle, and talk to your soul. For example, I can rush in my time with the Lord because I feel like I’ve got so much to do. So I would say:

“Don’t fret because of all that is on your plate, trust that the Lord will give you the time you need if you slow down and delight in Him.”

D. Now you do the same, taking a besetting sin and getting to the root reason you are fretting — for indeed, it is a lie. Speak the truth about God to yourself.



E. A key to overcoming is in verse 4. Ponder this. How do you delight in the Lord? And how do you interpret this verse?

4. Read Psalm 37:10-16

A. Find reasons we should not envy “the wicked.”

B. Now, let’s apply the gospel to the sin of envying. Instead of pressing the will and saying, “Stop it,” consider the heart idol that causes you to envy. Then consider what you know about Christ that would help you to wait on Him instead of running to your heart idol.

5. Read Psalm 37:16-29

A. Contrast the wicked’s man approach to generosity with that of the righteous.

B. Now, let’s apply the gospel to generosity. First, instead of pressing the will and telling yourself to be generous, consider what idol tempts you to withhold. Then consider what you know about Christ  — even ways He became poor so you might become rich, or ways that give you confidence he will meet your need.

C. I have puzzled over verse 25 and would love thoughts on what it means, for it doesn’t seem to be true in experience. I know the founder of World Vision said, “David may not have seen this, but I have.” Eager to hear your thoughts!

6. Read Psalm 37:30-34. If we are put to death through persecution, how can the gospel help us guard our tongues?

7. What contrasts do you see between the wicked and the righteous in Psalm 37:35-40.  What gospel truths do you see that we could use on our hearts from this passage?

8. Reflect again on the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker. Have you been able to apply the gospel truth to it this week and experience progress?

9. Reflect on Psalm 37:23-24.

A. How do you see from this passage that the Christian life is a fight?

B. What hope do you see in this passage?


I have found it is indeed a daily battle, and yet I am also experiencing more victory and more sense of the presence of God, of Him, “upholding my hand.” Yet I do look forward to the day when he will remove the names of the idols from my mouth — and all their power over me. That is the day, I know, when He will say to each of us:


Friday: Optional Sermon

This is classic Keller, free, and many of you have heard it before. But it is worth a re-listen if you have time. Listen and share your notes.

Click here: http://www.gospelinlife.com/sermons/christ-our-life.html


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

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  1. Thank you for your prayers everyone. I went to my doctor today and she was not concerned. She said that radiation can cause bone pain and that I was probably suffering from that. I still have swelling from radiation, which I completed at the end of February. Both the oncologist and the radiologist said I could have symptoms up to a year. So, I believe what she is telling me and have faith that she knows what she is talking about. She and I thought some physical therapy might be helpful for the swelling, so she is referring me to the PT department. Seems like a good idea! thanks again for all your prayers 🙂

    1. Oh, great report, Laura. Praise the Lord! And hope the PT helps.

    2. SO RELIEVED Laura! what a praise!

    3. YEAH!  Glad to hear the doctor feels good about this…and I sensed it might be something like that as well, but I’m glad you brought it up to her.  Radiation is a lot of trauma to the body and so is surgery and it certainly has lingering effects.  Praying the PT will help tremendously!

    4. That is such wonderful news, Laura!   So you are going to do PT — then we will have something in common, as I just started PT for arthritis in my hands and knees.   Hopefully it will work for both of us!

      1. 🙂

    5. So glad to hear this!  Laura.

  2. Laura,   Grateful that the doctor gave you encouraging news.    
    Thank you for praying for my son and myself while we were in court this morning. The judge is giving him one last chance to complete a court-ordered class. If he doesn’t, he will go to jail. He has one month to complete the class.  He is also being allowed to do the class online, which is a new alternative, not offered to him in the past.   I see it as mercy.   So grateful.    

    1. That’s great that the judge gave your son another chance. Yes, mercy. I hope your son is appreciative and does the course.

    2. It does sound like mercy, Nila.  I pray he can see a picture of  God’s mercy in this.

    3. Nila, I am so glad your son had a merciful judge!    Now we will pray that he completes the course on time!

    4. So glad for that extra measure of grace for your son, Nila.  Prayers that he will persevere and complete the task.  Glad he has the online option.

    5. So glad for your son’s situation!……will pray for his submission to the court order.

  3. 8. Reflect again on the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker. Have you been able to apply the gospel truth to it this week and experience progress?
    Well,  I won’t try to rave about my progress.  However,  I haven’t given in to my comfort idol and had a snack of chips this week, and I don’t have any of my kind of chips in the house (my husband’s low-salt ones are too blah to tempt me).   I went to the grocery twice this week, and the chips definitely called out to me, but I muttered a prayer under my breath (Lord, please get me out of here!).   It worked, as I made a dash for the cashier without any chips in my cart.   

    9. Reflect on Psalm 37:23-24.
    A. How do you see from this passage that the Christian life is a fight?  
    I think the best indication of the fight is in verse 24, “though he stumble, he will not fall….”     I have certainly known my share of stumbling — false starts, when I head out the wrong direction, and then the Lord brings me back before I get too far gone!     I think the tough part of stumbling is that sometimes it makes me too ashamed.  I think “Oh I have just blown it!”    What I need to do is just get back up and do an about-face!
    B. What hope do you see in this passage?
    The most hopeful part for me is “for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”    That’s the very best scenario possible!    Nothing can get too bad, if I have my hand in His.   

  4. Deanna – I had to laugh……”I muttered a prayer….and made a dash for the cashier!”   I really need to write that down and I can see it becoming a classic!  You did a GREAT job of  showing us biblical thinking…..prayer and flight!  Fleeing temptation is one thing, but you FIRST recognized that you were helpless even to get that far without the Lord’s power – thus, prayer.  Lovely.  
    Laura – how thankful we all are along with you for your hopeful news!  It sounds like you can communicate so well with your doctors – hugely helpful when fearing bad news.  So good to be reassured that you are well within the range of “normal” for all you have been through……..and how fantastic that the path of P.T. is open to you as a possible option for some relief.   “This is the day the Lord has made…..we will rejoice and be glad in it!”    Sounds like a time to dance, Laura!  
    Nila – how WONDERFUL!!  Mark has been shown MERCY.  I hope you will have a window of opportunity to share with him that this merry band of women have been storming the gates of heaven on his behalf of late!  Even if he doesn’t fully appreciate that right now, he might “tuck it away” for later pondering.  I know your heart must just be bursting and singing with joy to your Abba Father tonight!  

    1. Funny you wrote “this is the day that The Lord hath made….” I danced to that once….maybe I should again 🙂

  5. My heart is singing, you ladies bless me so. I am doing the study but I am writing it all out in my journal. I really struggle with approval, so I won’t respond here . I feel I’m not quite ready yet, I might “love” the responses to much or “dislike” them so much, that I just may spiral out of control. Ladies,  please pray for me as I understanding more and more each lesson. I am still so afraid, but my trust, in The Lord is much better . 

    1. Roshanda – I struggle with even replying after your comment!  Just wanted you to know that late last night I was on the blog and wondered where you were…..good to hear that you are following along and the Lord is growing your trust in Him!  I “get” what you are saying, for sure!  I’ve found that the affirmation here though is so rooted in Christ.  Somehow it spurs me on while still being humbling at the same time.  One thing for sure:  He’s going to meet you wherever you are, with your hungry heart!

    2. Roshanda–couldn’t help but reply and it’s great to see your beautiful face! Praying for you in this journey~

    3. Hi Roshanda…so nice to see you…:)  Please know that you are not alone in the struggle with approval; I too struggle with approval issues (as well as control and comfort in certain senses)…as Dee said, good discernment of what is best for you at this time.  I will add you to my prayer list…you are definitely on the right path (“I am still so afraid, but my trust, in the Lord is much better”).

      1. Good morning ladies, thanks for the prayers and encouragement. Yes, I am here soaking up all of your wisdom and Jackie, I love your response, and you’re so right the affirmation here is rooted in Christ, but for some strange reason I still might want to steal just a little of His Glory. 🙂 I’m still new to this process, and covet your continual prayers. Thank you beautiful sisters. 

  6. 5. Read Psalm 37:16-29
    A. Contrast the wicked’s man approach to generosity with that of the righteous.
    The wicked hang on to all they can get for themselves. They take; they do not give. The righteous give freely from what they have been given.
    B. Now, let’s apply the gospel to generosity. First, instead of pressing the will and telling yourself to be generous, consider what idol tempts you to withhold. Then consider what you know about Christ  — even ways He became poor so you might become rich, or ways that give you confidence he will meet your need.
    This connects with an answer earlier in the week. I think that it is my need for security, my inability to trust God for my future, but rather to provide for my own future, that tempts me to withhold. Yet it does not matter what I do, I cannot guarantee my own future. Only God can do that, and Christ has already done it. My future is already guaranteed. 4 years ago, a lady who did not know my circumstances gave me Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. At the time, the future did not exist in my thinking… I couldn’t think about more than the coming week, so this verse brought me to tears. So now I am thinking about the future, but I’m still not trusting God with it. Not really, because I’m fixed on the thought that I need to save all I can so I can retire one day. That’s me providing for my future, not trusting God.

  7. C. I have puzzled over verse 25 and would love thoughts on what it means, for it doesn’t seem to be true in experience. I know the founder of World Vision said, “David may not have seen this, but I have.” Eager to hear your thoughts!
    I don’t read this as a promise – if you do this, then this happens. As mentioned in the intro, this is very much like Proverbs which I also read as general wisdom or wise observations on life, rather than promises. Craigie writes in his commentary on Psalms

    The teacher inserts a personal observation, drawing on the length of his experience of this life to make a point; God does not abandon his people, but provides for both them and their children after them. But he could only proffer this wisdom from the perspective of age, for in the short run it might often appear that the righteous were forsaken.

    1. Good insight and reminder, Kerryn.  Thanks for the quote from the commentary.

  8. 5. Read Psalm 37:16-29
    A. Contrast the wicked’s man approach to generosity with that of the righteous.
    The wicked borrows but does not pay back, the righteous is generous and gives.
    B. Now, let’s apply the gospel to generosity. First, instead of pressing the will and telling yourself to be generous, consider what idol tempts you to withhold. Then consider what you know about Christ  — even ways He became poor so you might become rich, or ways that give you confidence he will meet your need.
    Comfort/security tempts me to withhold my time, treasure and talents. Jesus didn’t withhold-he stripped himself of his glory to come to earth so that I by his poverty might become rich. I can’t help but think of the Doctor with Samaritan’s Purse who has the Ebola virus-His life so mirror’s Jesus. He is generous! I have read about him and the other one, Nancy, am so inspired! Dr, Brantly gave the only dose of the experimental serum to the other one who contracted it.

  9. C. I have puzzled over verse 25 and would love thoughts on what it means, for it doesn’t seem to be true in experience. I know the founder of World Vision said, “David may not have seen this, but I have.” Eager to hear your thoughts!
    I am puzzling over it too! So i will take a stab.maybe regardless of the calamities and the suffering we go through God will never forsake us. He has always pursued David and the Israelites. He has always been faithful to me and in the big picture we will never beg for bread or be in want for our future with Him is sealed. 

  10. 7.  in verse 35, the wicked can SEEM to be well-rooted.  Spreading and growing like a lush tree.  Their lives may give the APPEARANCE of permanence!   However, the clear contrast I see is in the FUTURE.  In the future, the wicked will be “cut off”, will “be no more” and “will not be found”.  The righteous?  There is a future – salvation and deliverance!  
    The gospel also teaches us that our eternal life has already begun – we are living both in the “now” and the “not yet”.  Even though perhaps even much of our deliverance from evildoers will be in the “not yet”,  in “the now” we can take refuge in the Lord.  Right now (today!) He is our stronghold in the time of trouble – so we have a shelter in the storm and a very real hope for our future!

    1. Good answer Jackie.   A dear pastor friend of ours uses the phrase ‘now and not yet’ a lot.  That does help clarify a lot!

  11. 8.  Even in a rather whirlwind of a week, God has patiently been probing my heart and helping me to live mindfully.  I know that sounds a bit new age, as we used to say – but I think living mindfully is scriptural.  “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”, “but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” are but a couple of examples.  I do see progress here!  That said, one night I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and ate it all in one sitting……ugh.  And that happened to be AFTER our summer wednesday evening fellowship at church – which has been phenomenal!!  Immediately after I left church I had to stop at the gas station…..you guessed it…..the siren call of the ice cream began……”they have lots of Ben and Jerry’s in there…..you’ve been SO GOOD this week……you just had a marvelous time of praising God and fellowshipping with you brothers and sisters…..” All true statements.  Either neutral or good things.  Grotesquely distorted to fill an empty spot in my soul.  While I was at the fellowship gathering, one of my boarder dogs was being picked up by my clients – and my husband was handling the transition.  I already had a message on my phone from the client about how wonderful my husband was…….and in just that two minutes between my church and the gas station I began to ponder, to chew……thinking about my husband…….and just like that, the battle was lost.  Before I was even “mindful” that there was a battle!  I knew I was thinking!  BUT……my thoughts has been turned into lies!  IN THAT MOMENT I was not being transformed by the renewal of my mind…..or having the mind of Christ.  BUT, it was a learning experience.  Yesterday was a tender day…..and He opened my eyes and drew me near.  He is amazing.  My heart is singing the song “Lord I’m Amazed By You” this morning!  

    1. Jackie–your transparency is a ministry to me. Wow. How you just poured out your heart–the details of the “high” from fellowship, the whisper of the enemy in your thoughts, the turn, and the turning back to Him-it helps me “di-sect”my own struggles and see more clearly that place where my thoughts turn from trust to self-preservation. Praying for you today~

    2. “God has patiently been probing my heart and helping me to live mindfully.  I know that sounds a bit new age, as we used to say – but I think living mindfully is scriptural.”
      Jackie r, I love this…I recently attended a meditation and mindfulness meeting at a church in my home town (my aunt’s church, UCC denomination).  The pastor and adult education coordinator are leaders of the group…it was WONDERFUL!  The topic covered that evening was mindfulness and strategies for being in the present moment; we also ended the evening with a loving-kindness meditation.  Some may call it “new age,” but I think it is all dependent upon how it is practiced.  I find myself praying for strangers (family and friends) spontaneously, e.g., someone driving really fast and somewhat frantically, I pray that they may be safe.  I am looking forward to attending another meeting mid-August.  I can see the Lord using this to help in transforming my thoughts…I think I am becoming more calm and compassionate.  I know that I still have a long way to go, but as you said, “I do see progress here!” 

  12. 9A.  Many years ago, in a traumatic season of life, the Lord used these two verses to bring GREAT calm and peace to my soul.  Oh, the richness here.  He does seem to be saying that we can be delighting in the Lord and He is the One who is establishing our every step – and yet, WE FALL!!  It makes me think of a young child learning to walk…….hand in hand with the papa……rolling along……laughing, delighting in the partnership……and then, boom!  the child falls.  but NOT flat out wipeout!  Why?  Because papa has hold of his hand.  Papa (Abba) lifts him up ……and on they go together…..laughing…..loving life…..growing…..learning…..
    Mary, I just have to pause here and say that I really see you and Jesus in verse 24.  You are NEVER going to be “cast headlong”, for He is upholding your hand!  I know that learning your cancer had returned had to knock you off your feet.  But He NEVER LET GO OF YOUR HAND……do you know that song, “Oh no, You never let go…..”   

    1. Jackie, I do know that song and I love it but your description of a baby learning to walk made me think of the untitled hymn (AKA “come to Jesus” song) by Chris Rice.  Have you heard it?  I just LOVE it, even more now, because every single verse ends in the words “AND LIVE.”

    2. Jackie R, that is exactly the picture that was in my head. I don’t recall having walks with my earthly father, so I imagined Jesus and I walking, but with the same description  you shared! Love it! Thanks for sharing.

  13. 7. What contrasts do you see between the wicked and the righteous in Psalm 37:35-40.  What gospel truths do you see that we could use on our hearts from this passage?
    I have an eternal future. The Lord is my salvation and He is my strength in times of trouble. He delivers me when I take refuge in Him. I do not have to rely on ,y own ways—scheming manipulating. I can run to Him and hide under His wings and be safe from my enemies.
    8. Reflect again on the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker. Have you been able to apply the gospel truth to it this week and experience progress?
    I still struggle with a strong default mode of “pressing the will instead of allowing the Gospel truths to transform our hearts”. Dee said “we run to our idols instead of God is because we are worried that He won’t meet us”. This morning even that is hitting a deeper place in my heart. I was remembering what Dee has taught (Idol Lies and prior) that when there is a problem in horizontal relationships, it is a red flag that there is a problem in our vertical relationship with God. I don’t “feel” a problem between God an I and yet, if I dig—there it is. That quiet whispher “will He meet me?”. If I risk loving, will He hold me in the face of disappoinment and rejection? If I step out in faith in this other area, will He uphold me in the unknown? My head knows the Sunday School answer, but it takes more. Remember His faithfulness in the past. Look where He has brought me, and what He has brought me through. Remember the Cross. That wasn’t just for “everyone” and I gotthrown in the mix—He sees ME, He chose me. The Cross—before my life began, and yet He already knew all the hurtful things I would do, He already knew my specific sin, and He died for me. It’s convicting to remind myself that when I am struggling veritcal, or in a situation—it’s an alert that something’s off horizontally. In one relationship, I’d rather make it all about the 2 of us and say on the side I’m doing great with God—UGH! Denial has so many (ugly) faces. Trust. Real love means trusting Him, abiding in Him. Perfect love casts out fear.

  14. 6. Read Psalm 37:30-34. If we are put to death through persecution, how can the gospel help us guard our tongues?
    I don’t think I understand this question….I’m going to have to think about it. I supposs since we know Jesus “has our backs,” we really shouldn’t feel compelled to say anything to our persecutors. We are covered. Is this what you are getting at here?
    7. What contrasts do you see between the wicked and the righteous in Psalm 37:35-40.  What gospel truths do you see that we could use on our hearts from this passage?
    The wicked seem to flourish, but also disappear without a trace. They have no future. The upright do have a future. The righteous are saved by The Lord; they are helped and delivered by Him.
    So I found these passages in 1 Corinthians….
    “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭7-8‬ NIV)
    Jesus took the sin and set us free! We need to do our best to honor Him, in thanksgiving for his selfless act. He loves us!
    8. Reflect again on the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker. Have you been able to apply the gospel truth to it this week and experience progress?
    I try to run to The Lord when I am feeling weak. I do believe I am getting better at that! Whether it is playing praise music, reading a passage, or answering questions on the blog, I am trying to keep Him in my vision all day long. It really does help! 

      1. I think Laura’s perspective is valid.  Jesus DOES “have our backs” and often silence under persecution is where He leads us.  v. 34 says “wait for the Lord and keep his way”…..this is cross referenced with Psalm 27:14…..”wait for the Lord, be strong. and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”   There’s great strength that comes from actively trusting and depending upon the Lord in the moment (ie/courage!).  

      2. Yes, Dee, Jackie explains well……I got hung up on the “put to death” phrase and couldn’t see that it isn’t literal. I am so black and white in my thinking sometimes! When people persecute, it is easy (and human) to jump in and speak up, try to “fix” a problem, or “do” something. I have been learning to wait For Him the past few years. This is what the gospel says (as Jackie quoted). It is hard, but He does answer! And, Jackie is correct, it takes courage. We must not forget that He is involved in our lives and seeks to guide us; we must give in to Him; let Him do His work on us. We should expect His offering to us. I often forget He is near, and need constant reminding. That’s why I have taken to listening to praise and worship music on Pandora radio every minute of every day! It’s a constant reminder of Him. They tend to play the songs in a “block” and repeat them, but I don’t care! It makes me learn the words so I can sing on my own at times too. 
        Dawn posted this week about her awful work situation this past year. What grace she showed in her moving her schedule around to avoid the persecutors instead of  having to deal with them! She is also praying (and most likely prayed about the situation long ago) and sure enough, the persecutors are going after each other! She is protected by Him! She is covered!!!
        I also, had a situation this past school year that I explained when it happened…..two students who were basically bullying me. I didn’t want to enter my classroom that block. They questioned my ability because they were top students and wanted more from the class. The class is an elective where the range of abilities is from high to low. I have to teach “the middle” to reach all. I decided to pray instead of confront them. I waited a couple of days and then received the blessing of answered prayer! The response to my prayer was to ask them to take the new material and have them teach the class the difficult concept! I allowed them to use a class period to come up with the lesson, and then they taught it the next day. It worked! They lightened up and things were not great, but they were definitely better. 
        It it is best to wait on The Lord.

  15. 6. Read Psalm 37:30-34. If we are put to death through persecution, how can the gospel help us guard our tongues?
    The Gospel helps us wait for God-not to try to take control-but yield to His control. 
    7. What contrasts do you see between the wicked and the righteous in Psalm 37:35-40.  What gospel truths do you see that we could use on our hearts from this passage?
    The wicked is ruthless and he has no future. (I am thinking satan too.) The righteous are men of peace and we have a future. The wicked will be cut off in the future, the righteous won’t. God is our salvation in suffering-the wicked are destroyed in suffering. We take refuge in God in suffering and God delivers us. I am taking this as meaning he delivers us not necessarily from the event or the suffering but we can have His joy in the middle of suffering? I am thinking that might be the point about verse 25? Not totally sure. Until Jesus comes back to restore a new heaven and  new earth we will go through suffering and may not be delivered but we can be delivered internally-soaring with Him through it-experiencing His joy as He walks with us in it-and that is a process too.
    8. Reflect again on the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker. Have you been able to apply the gospel truth to it this week and experience progress?
    Yes. Jesus was spilled out on my behalf. His whole life was Him pouring out himself for others rather than clinging to earthly comfort. When I think of how Jesus clung to God-how God meant more to him than earthly comfort that is a balm to me and makes it easier to say no to more food-because I am His and His desire is to make me more like Him-He can and will empower me to overcome this temptation and be able to moderate.  I tend to over eat for many reasons-and when I don’t moderate it means I am not hiding in Him as my satisfaction and joy. It is really that simple. In my testimony I said I hate it when the rocks get in the way-this is a rock but it isn’t a wall for He broke that down! I am so unworthy and so grateful. :)))))))) So the stream is flowing and He is removing the rocks one by one. He comes and rescues me again and He will take me higher with Him. He pursues me, helps me shew away the foxes and tends my vineyard. Where would I be without HIM!.  
    Lord God I confess I have ran to my idol again and listened to satan’s hiss. I am sorry I didn’t find you more satisfying than my earthly comforts! How I can so easily make mountains out of a loss of, or even the fear of the loss of something that makes me comfortable! God I can’t live without you-I don’t know where I would be had you not shed your comfort for me-MELT MY HEART FOR YOU so that I am willing to shed my comfort for you. My heart hurts that I can be so cavalier toward you and forget you! Melt my heart today for you are my stronghold in this battle.

  16. 9. Reflect on Psalm 37:23-24.
    A. How do you see from this passage that the Christian life is a fight?
    Two things stood out to me, “though he fall”—the reminder, acknowledgment, that we WILL fall. But…(to “B”)
    B. What hope do you see in this passage?
     the Lord is still in control and will not let us be overcome, defeated “he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

    I fall—too many times in a day to count. My selfish heart that demands my perceived “rights” and “entitlement”. I defend my hurts, I criticize others. I react not with the love my Father gives, but in response to how the other person makes me feel. If they make me “feel” loved, then lucky for them, they get my love. But those who can leave me feeling small—oh, it is hard. I fall. I am humbled.
    I am seeing glimmers of hope though. Because lately when I fall, He has been so gracious to help me really fall, to my knees. Sometimes it takes me longer than others, but I do see baby steps. He is patient with me. And when I let my “fall” take me to my knees—the perspective changes. I remember how desperate and needy I am for His love—and it’s very hard to point my finger at another when I’m really on my knees. And then He takes my hand, and lifts me back up. Gradually I am losing all sense that I can “do this”. I can’t. I am needy—of a Savior. Oh that I would stay there and not turn to self-righteousness. So thankful for His mercy and grace, His eternally love towards me.  Thankful for the truth that He is committed to transform my heart. Help me Lord hold on to this as my motivation, my deep desire, to love others as You have loved me. And I thank You that You not only command that I love, but You supply it!

  17. 8. Reflect again on the sin you mentioned in the ice-breaker. Have you been able to apply the gospel truth to it this week and experience progress?
    Answer:  By His grace, yes!  I truly have been able to let go of bitterness with regard to the different views of some of my friends about my cancer coming back and really the analogy of Dee laying between her granddaughters helped!  That started the healing process because I would go to bed at night and lay there and my mind might slip to some of those comments and I would then envision Jesus laying right next to me, the other person (my sister in Christ) on the other side of Him and I would whisper into Jesus’s ear “please let our communication be filtered through You, Jesus, and come out as love on the other side.” So I went to Wednesday evening prayer meeting and two of those sisters were there and it went beautifully.  I hugged both of them and we all shed a few tears during the prayer time.  I know that I will just need to be careful about what I discuss with them but I can love them, through Christ.

    1. Appreciate your response Mary…is helping me right now.  So so sorry that your cancer is back.

      1. Just said a little prayer for you right now, Renee.  How come your face is not showing up in your bubble? (gravatar)

  18. I love how you picture yourself whispering in Jesus’ ear, Mary E.
    The sin that I need the most help with is very hard to define. After an extremely close (and unhealthy) friendship with a coworker she turned on me and betrayed me when I was struggling with deep depression and medication issues. She refused to talk to me, told people my private business that I had shared with her in confidence, and spread lies about me until no one on that shift would speak to me. I ended up going to another shift and it has been a year of struggling to keep from being bitter and wanting to repay those who have harmed and hurt me.   
    I have made a point of not discussing it with others at my work and have been praying for and doing good to those who caused me the most pain.  Now everyone on that shift  has turned on each other, the hostility toward one another is very plain for everyone to see. And deep down I’m glad about it.  One woman came to me and said that she’s feeling the “karma” from what she did to me and while I told her that I understood what she was going through, inside I hoped it would continue. 
    This week I have found myself realizing more and more how my “natural” response is not acceptable to Christ. That it is taking the beauty of his forgiveness and grace and turning from it and from him in my mind and heart.  Although outwardly I am unaffected by it all, inwardly I’m a mess and just beginning to have a light shone on my darkness and depravity.

    1. Dawn MS, I am impressed by your honesty and I’m sure it indicates God is working in your life. I know you have had a rough couple of years with this difficult situation. Praying for you.

    2. Oh my Dawn! Nightmare for sure….can’t women be so “catty?” I find it easier to work with the males in my school versus the females. I recently heard a report that bullying is more prevalent in girls than in boys; interesting, huh? You made a wise choice to shift your schedule around. Good for you! When I walk into a room where people are gossiping I turn around and leave. I just can’t be around it; it’s not cool. 

    3. Dawn, thank you for your honest and transparent heart. I can see how you are working through this situation, admitting honestly your feelings (and deep down I’m glad about it)…I too can identify with having feelings like that, and your honesty before the Lord and before us shows that you aren’t trying to hide it and are willing to having God work on this in you. I also think that your behavior at work is going to win the respect of your co-workers.

  19. Dawn MS, I’m sorry to hear all that you have been through in that unhealthy relationship.  It is sure sad how immature adults can be.  You expect that sort of thing when you are in Jr. High/middle school but now in the work place.  It sounds like the Holy Spirit is already doing His work in your heart…and He is pretty much a genius at it.  I will pray right now for the situation and your ability to forgive and dismiss the thoughts of it as it comes to mind.

  20. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but my focus to answer each question this week, has been fading.  I have read the psalm many times.  And I’ve learned from it, from those adding comments to the blog and from the excellent sermon by Keller (commented on it on Thursday).  I don’t feel like I have anything else to add to the questions per se.  But there is a thought that has been surfacing each time I read Psalm 37.
    A theme that repeats itself over and over is eternity.  And an eternal inheritance of ‘the land’.  Could this mean the New Heaven and New Earth?   vs. 9: … “those who hope in the Lord inherit the land.”   vs. 11:  “the meek inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”  (Jesus quoted in the Sermon on the Mount).  vs. 18..”the days of the blameless are known to the Lord.  Their inheritance is forever.  vs. 22..”those the Lord blesses inherit the land.  vs. 27:  ‘Those who turn from evil and do good will dwell in the land forever.   vs. 28: .. “The faithful are not forsaken and protected forever.  vs. 34;...”Wait on the Lord.  He will exalt you and you will inherit the land.”    vs. 37:....”There is a future for a man of peace.”    
    All through the psalm we see God’s hand over the righteous.  And we know that the righteous are those who are clothed in HIS righteousness, having none on their own.    We see how they are held up, protected, provided for, and blessed in many verses.
    In contrast, the wicked.….though they seem to reign now in many ways, are a ticking time bomb.  They will not remain in control.  ‘In a little while”  vs 10  The shortness of time,  speaks to the certainty of their doom.  
    This psalm comforts and gives hope in the here and now to be sure.  But I see SO MUCH of Heaven here too.  There’s no where else where we will we be enjoying great peace and inheriting the land FOREVER!

  21. 9. Reflect on Psalm 37:23-24.
    A. How do you see from this passage that the Christian life is a fight?
    It is SO easy to fall….we are bombarded with earthly “life” everyday and it is HARD to stay focused. This passage promises that we may “stumble but won’t fall…” if we remain faithful to Him.
    B. What hope do you see in this passage?
    He lifts us up! Thank You Lord! It’s good to know I have a back up!

  22. Excellent sermon!   I had not heard it before now.   Sorry my notes are so long.  It was like one long strand of spaghetti — I couldn’t figure out where to cut it 🙂
    Life in Christ – sermon by Dr. Timothy Keller
    Based on Colossians 3:1-4
    There is an aspect of Christianity which is not well known and often sneered at.  Paul says it twice: Set your mind on things above, and then set your heart on things above.   Be heavenly- minded.   This is pretty unattractive.   All of the following phrases are associated with a positive outlook: Getting down-to-earth, having your feet on the ground, being in touch with reality.   Heavenly-minded people are out-of-touch, they are people who aren’t really able to live life as it is. Paul says that most heavenly-minded people do the most good and have the most freedom.
    Need of heavenly-mindedness:
    All of the myths, legends, epics, and adventures feature heroes who are ordinary people who live in ordinary places.  Then something moves them to a different place or a different time.   The place they came from was all in shades of grey, but in the new place things are vivid – either they are good or they are evil – everything is larger than life.   But there is always redemption. Then when they come back to the old place, now they are the ones who are larger than life, have freedom, laugh, are tender, are sweet and courageous.    They are able to see beyond the small world.   In the other world, they saw greater danger and saw it dealt with.  They saw kings and queens and nobles who were virtuous and wise.    They want to be true to their memory, so the heroes are tender, self-sacrificing themselves.    In these epics, someone always died to save them – it wouldn’t be a good story otherwise.   They remember the one that died for them and that makes them very tender, sacrificing, and noble with those around them.   They remember that outside this world, there are sources of power, beauty, and truth that are so strong nothing in the world overcomes them.      They move through life like a red-hot knife moves through butter.   Because they saw great fires quenched, and terrible diseases healed, nothing phases them now.   
    Paul says this is how Christians ought to be.  Christians should live like they have died, gone to heaven, and have come back.  Christians live with their mind seeing great things.   Christians are people who to some degree, by faith, have their imagination captured.  To the degree that you as a Christian are captured by the one who is beautiful beyond bearing, by the one who died for you, by those incredible realities, to that degree you will move about with freedom and power.   
    Elisha says “If God is for you, what can be against you?”  You see all of reality, not just a part of it – your eyes are opened.   Only if you can see that other world, can you live with greatness in this world.   As Paul has said, “Those who are the most heavenly-minded do the most earthly good and can live with the most freedom and power.   
    Keller tells of a humanist association in New York that had a half-hour show on cable.  The theme was:  one of the worst things for society has been a belief in heaven and an after-life.  That has been terrible for us. Until we realize that this world is the only one we have, we will not be able to make this world as it should be.   We will never take care of it. 
    If this is all there is, it will eventually burn up in the sun.    If this world is all there is, it doesn’t make any difference how I live–with compassion or with terrible cruelty.   
    Nature (What does it mean to set your mind on heavenly things):

     What is heaven like?   After Jesus’ resurrection, he ate fish.  We might say there will be great food and concerts.   However, that is not the main thing.  
    In verse 1 “Since you have been raised with Christ…”  Think of yourself as there.  In verse 4  “Since you died in Christ…”     Paul says there is something that you must know before you can have a life of freedom and power.   You need to know and you need to believe that you have died and have been raised with Christ.    The essence isn’t that I am emulating, listening to, obeying Christ, admiring Christ, or even loving Christ.   The essence of being a Christian is that I am in Christ–My life is in Christ.  
    Paul says the heart of the gospel is that everything that  is actually true of Christ is legally true of you, if  you are a Christian.   You died – God treats you as free from guilt of your sins as if you had died on the cross and paid for it in torment yourself.   You did – He did it.  As the essence of sin is me substituting myself for God and doing the things only God has the right to do, which is being in control of my life, the essence of salvation is that God substituted Himself for me by putting Himself where I deserved to be – on the cross!  
    You died, but not only that, you were raised.   What does it mean to be at the right hand of someone?   On the same level and in a place of intimacy.   Why did Christ go to the right hand of the Father?   When the Father saw the Son, His heart burst with love for Him.  Look at what the Son did.   The Son emptied himself out of love to go to earth, emptied Himself out of His glory, and lived the perfect life. 
    The Father treats you as if you lived the life the Son did, died the death that the Son died, as if you had made the sacrifices.  If you are the kind of person who says “Lord Jesus, I am a Christian, and please answer this prayer, because I am trying my very, very best to live a life like you have asked me, I’m trying my best to ask you to forgive my sins,” then you really haven’t gotten it.   To be a Christian is to say, “Lord Jesus, accept me, hear my prayer whatever because of what you did.   To be a Christian you have to humble yourself to realize you need this, but you have to open your heart to the joy.     Anyone who understands it, never gets tired of hearing it. 
    Practice (How do you do it?)
    There is a negative and a positive side to it.    
    Negative:   Verse 2 “Not on earthly things.”   Paul says you have to stop thinking on earthly things – set you mind on heavenly things.   Verse 4 “Set your mind on Christ who is your life.”  
    To set your mind on something is to make it your life.    
    Two diagnostic questions: 
    (1) What things in your life, if you were to lose them, would make you feel like you didn’t have a life left? 
    (2) What things do you turn to when things get difficult?   What drives you?  What do you rely on?  
    You have to do the negative before you can do the positive.  
    Positive:   Set your mind on things above.   Set your mind on Christ who is your life.   
    Keller tells the way it works for him:   He can only do that when one of three things are happening: when he is experiencing a negative emotion like anger, despondency, or fright.  
    There are two approaches when difficulties arise:
    (1) the moralistic view: I must have done something wrong.
    (2) the self-esteem-istic one: my needs are not being met. 
    Something has become my life and I am being controlled by it.   You have to look at the thing and say to it “You are not my life and joy; Christ is my life.   To the degree you can do this, you will be able to move through life with freedom and power.  

    1. I love that your notes are long, Deanna.  That strand of spaghetti happens with Keller’s sermons!  I end up pausing and writing nearly every word. But I didn’t get notes taken and I am grateful for yours.  If you don’t mind, I will copy and paste into my file as it’s so nice to have the written text when I listen again.  Bless you for all of your work here!

  23. After reading through the blog here tonight, this song expresses some of what I’m thinking.   That He can and does change us.      Miracle  by Sara Groves.    

  24. Maybe I’m too tired to be posting tonight!  I just posted the wrong song (although I love it….. He’s Always Been Faithful to Me, Sara Groves).       This is what I meant to post:    Miracle  by Sara Groves      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TN5EYsmiDA
    He is the one who is at work in us here this week.   Thank you for the encouragement.    

  25. 9. Reflect on Psalm 37:23-24.
    A. How do you see from this passage that the Christian life is a fight?
    Daily I struggle with my idols and their power over me yet because of His Holy Spirit inside I desire Him and desire His power over me. I can’t explain that very well but it is true!
    B. What hope do you see in this passage?
    That when I run to him, delight in Him he upholds my hand! He helps me to experience more victory in the battle even though I won’t fully experience victory until I see Him face to face. 

  26. Sermon response and takeaway:
    My takeaway is firstly that I am with everyone here! My bend toward keeping my eyes on earthly things is there-SO THERE..it is a daily battle! Yet the key is daily setting my mind on Christ who IS MY LIFE for I am hidden in Christ. As Keller said,  to the degree I am captured by the one who is beautiful beyond bearing, by the one who died for me and by the incredible realities of the future with Him, to that degree I will move about with freedom and power.   

  27. In reading some of the comments I noticed that many of us have prodigal children in our lives. I have a book of prayers that has been very helpful to me. Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks. Another thing that comes to mind is to pray for reverence. Pray that they will fear God. That can make so much difference when they are faced with temptation, even if they are not seeking or thinking about Him.
    The comments are really good and I thank all of you for sharing. I can’t always read but am so blessed when I do. I relate to the sister who said that she has to be careful commenting because of an approval idol. That is true for me too. That is why I am often scarce but I do love and appreciate all of you so.
    I am down in my foot again, back in a boot. There has been some talk about Hinds Feet on High Places in my small group. I have never read it so had ordered it. Last night as I began to read I realized that the main character is crippled in her feet. I was such a touch from The Lord for me 🙂

    1. Thanks for that Anne!  I do have prodigals and I’ve prayed with “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” in mind often.  I appreciate your reminding me of the book, Prayers for Prodigals, that I meant to check out some time ago….as soon as I read your post, I went and ordered it!  There are days – many days – when I could use some help!  Also, so thrilled to hear of the Lord’s tenderness to you in such a personal way as you are suffering with your foot.  He is good.

      1. Jackie, I pray that you will be strengthened as you pray through it. it seems that the book has helped my own heart more than anything. I think you will be encouraged.

    2. Anne, Hind’s Feet on High Places is a REALLY good little analogy book (and that is coming from someone who still has not developed a love for reading!)  Poor little “much afraid” has to go through horrific experiences (which the Good Shepherd leads her through) but you’ll like the ending…ENJOY. =)

      1. 🙂

    3. Anne:   I appreciate the book recommendation.  I am adding it to my ever growing list!  Another good one is Prodigals and Those Who Love Them by Ruth Bell Graham.  I also really liked Franklin Graham’s biography Rebel With a Cause.  At the time I read it, I found it helpful to read of  Ruth and Billy’s responses to Franklin’s rebellious ways.  But as every  person’s story is so different, it doesn’t seem to relate so well to me now.  The prayers surely would.  Thanks.

      1. Wanda, thanks for the recommendations. I think I have read them but it has been so long ago. i need a revisit.

  28. My takeaway: 
    My takeaway is one line from Keller’s sermon — I want to hold onto it:   Christians should live like they have died, gone to heaven, and have come back.  As Keller pointed out, it makes a big difference in a person’s lifestyle and demeanor.   We will be more tender, compassionate, sweet, courageous,  and will move with freedom and power.   

  29. “Toured” a new modern church today.  Both architecture & art within were designed to “lift up our heads,” to point to our longings for the Eternal.
    Missing all of you.

  30. Anne,   thank you for the book suggestion.    And I too have hesitated sharing here recently because of the potential approval idol.   Your comments were surely refreshing to me this afternoon.  Thank you.   It really does help to know that we are not in this battle for our kids alone.     Thank you to all of you who have shared about your precious prodigals.    
    I love this quote from Ruth Bell Graham’s book Prodigals and Those Who Love Them:  “There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot, from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good.  He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today.”

    1. Nila that is an encouraging quote. Thanks.

  31. UGH!  Wanted to listen to the message but I don’t have an MP3 player and it makes me choose a formate, either MP3 (which I guess is free) or CD (4bucks) and I’m guessing if you choose the CD it is something they have too mail to you?  I wish I could just get it from iTunes on my mac.  Oh well, I sure like the quote Deanna mentioned, “Christians should live like they have died, gone to heaven, and come back.”  sounds good.

    1. Mary, It does seem a bit confusing at times I know! You should be able to download the mp3 for free on your Mac. You don’t need to have an mp3 player to play it on-that can be misleading. You can download it straight onto your Mac and it should play on your mac after you download it-just click on it and it should start playing. SO, here is what you do:  Just choose the mp3 version, then click ‘add to cart’, then ‘proceed to cart’, then ‘check out’. If you have registered and haven’t signed in yet, it will prompt you to sign in. If you have already signed in then click ‘continue’, and then ‘continue’ again. Then click‘place order’.  Then click on ‘my downloadable products’   You will see it on the top-just click ‘download’ and it will download it onto your mac. You should just click or double click and it should play for you. 🙂 
      As far as registering…it is free but you will need to register. I hope this helped! Let me know!  

      1. Thanks Rebecca! I’ll give it a try.

    2. Mary…..You don’t need an MP3 player!  I had the same question when I first looked at the site…..but if you choose MP3,  and download it, you can listen to it through itunes on a Mac.  That’s what I do!  

      oops….now I see that Rebecca answered your question much more clearly. Good!

  32. 9-A     Psalm 37:23-24   How do you see from this passage that the Christian life is a fight?
    Read an article from World Magazine recently that quoted C.S. Lewis:  “Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is.  Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”