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HOW THE GOSPEL CAN DELIVER YOU FROM THE POWER OF SIN (PART II. PSALM 37)

SUMMER!

HOW WE’VE WAITED FOR IT IN WISCONSIN THIS YEAR!

AND IT HAS COME.

THE WINTER IS PAST,

FLOWERS APPEAR ON THE EARTH,

AND THE TIME OF SINGING HAS COME.

THERE WAS A TIME IN MY LIFE

WHEN MY HUSBAND DIED AND I WANTED TO DIE TOO.

NEVER WOULD I HAVE IMAGINED THAT TEN YEARS LATER

I’D BE SO FULL OF THE JOY OF THE LORD

SO THANKFUL TO STILL BE ON THIS EARTH WHERE I CAN

FEEL THE WARM SUN ON MY SHOULDERS

HEAR THE WAVES LAP ON THE SHORE

AND WATCH SALLY AND HER PRECIOUS GIRLS

PULL DAISIES FROM THE SANDBOX.

THE WINTER IS PAST.

THE TIME OF SINGING IS COME.

My daughter Sally and her four-year-old Sadie and two-year-old Claire cleaning the daisies from the sandbox at my home
Daisy Day. JULY 2014: SALLY, SADIE, AND CLAIRE

 

 AND YET I KNOW, THAT WE ARE NOT HOME YET.

THOSE VERSES FROM THE SONG OF SONGS REALLY POINT

TO THE DAY WHEN WE ARE TRULY HOME.

TO A DAY WHEN THERE IS

NO MORE SIN

NO MORE SORROW

AND NO MORE DEATH.

THIS IS OUR SECOND WEEK IN CONSIDERING HOW THE GOSPEL IS A “DOUBLE CURE,” OVERCOMING NOT ONLY THE PENALTY OF SIN, BUT THE POWER OF SIN. LAST WEEK WE CONSIDERED HOW WE MUST NOT BE IN DENIAL ABOUT OUR DEPRAVITY, FOR WE ARE SO BAD IT LED TO THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST.

THE WEEK THAT SALLY VISITED, I JOINED HER IN PRAYER FOR THE RIVALRY BETWEEN SADIE, WHO JUST TURNED FOUR, AND CLAIRE, WHO JUST TURNED TWO.

SADIE AND CLAIRE TRYING ON HATS AT A TRUCK STOP
CLAIRE AND SADIE TRYING ON HATS AT A TRUCK STOP

CLAIRE HAS BEEN BITING SADIE, LEAVING TEETH MARKS, AND A DEVASTATED SADIE.

YET SADIE IS NOT WITHOUT FAULT.

ONE NIGHT WHEN I WAS BABYSITTING, AFTER I’D TUCKED THEM IN, I HEARD CLAIRE WHIMPERING, BUT DECIDED, UNWISELY, TO WAIT IT OUT. SOON SHE WAS HOWLING AND SO I RAN TO SEE WHY, ONLY TO FIND SADIE, FRUSTRATED WITH THE CONSTANT WHIMPERING, BONKING HER LITTLE SISTER ON THE HEAD WITH HER PAT-THE-BUNNY BOOK.  I SCOLDED AND LAID BETWEEN THEM UNTIL BOTH WERE ASLEEP.

Pat_the_Bunny_image
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

APPLYING THE GOSPEL TO THIS WHOLE PSALM IS CONSIDERABLE HOMEWORK, SO THE SERMON IS OPTIONAL. IT’S ONE MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD BEFORE, CLASSIC KELLER ON THE GOSPEL, BUT ALWAYS GOOD TO REVIEW. IF YOU HAVEN’T HEARD IT, TRY TO MAKE THE TIME.

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.

 

keep-calm-don-t-worry-god-is-in-control

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:

Spring-bible-quote-with-Blossoming-Almond-Van-Gogh

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

Saturday:

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

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333 comments

  1. 1.  what stood out?  Two things:  the part about being not home yet and how I have longed to be home for years now, to never sin again (and know that now I have been given a diagnosis which suggests I may be there sooner than I had originally thought) and yet how we can so enjoy and love this life as well…the things that really matter.  I have loved God’s creation for years now and for years have thought of how I love this so much and yet it is tainted by the fall…how incredible heaven will be.  Also that Sadie looks a lot like Sally to me 🙂  
    2.  I think for me right now, making peace with and sort of continually forgiving people who have even a slightly different opinion or theology than me!  Our understanding of God is probably about on the level of a 3 year old, so who knows if all that I believe is THE right thing and yet I feel a sense of unsettledness and frustration if my close friends and family’s thoughts on things don’t line up with mine! (I feel a little unsettled if someone doesn’t like a food I like!!! CRAZY!!!)  Even though it seems like the root cause of that would be control, I also think it might be a little bit of a security issue (strange as that may sound.)  I want to maintain the closeness, don’t want something to threaten the relationship.  God has been teaching me to concern myself more with just knowing HIM and trusting HIM.  He will take care of the relationships (other people in my life are a work in progress, just as I, also am. He can give them a love for tomatoes if they don’t already love them! ;))  I would like that behavior (or just feeling, wanting everyone to line up with my way of thinking) to be more transformed by Jesus as I press into Him more and more.  

    1. Mary, I struggle with forgiving people who have a slightly different opinion than I do, too! Having you put that in writing and me reading the words helped articulate what I often shove underneath the carpet. Then it just repeats itself without me confronting my sin in the eye. Thanks! Pressing more and more into Jesus so I can be transformed in the heart. 🙂

    2. Mary, I love your perspective — looking forward to never sinning again and focusing on how incredible heaven will be.  You inspire me greatly!

    3. Oh Mary…..your words speak to my heart too.  Forgiving others with ‘slightly different opinions’….how hard that is for me also.  And how you aptly said that we all probably have an understanding of theology similar to a three year old anyway.  When I was camping amidst such beauty of God’s creation, last week, I was also reading and studying the scriptures Randy Alcorn uses in his book, Heaven.  (I’m probably one of the few who haven’t read this book yet…though I’ve read another similar book by him).  I’m reading it with such deep longing as a dear friend of mine is struggling with a late stage cancer.  And heaven seems nearer for him than any of us imagined also.  I want to share this with him and I am praying daily for God’s leading.  The teaching of the restored earth as Alcorn describes is helping me put pieces together that I have always found confusing.   I think I grew up thinking the world as we know it would be completely different or gone in heaven….so to see that it will be there only perfectly restored creates such a huge  longing for that our eternal home.  Bless you for sharing your heart with us.

  2. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    What Sally said, “It is so challenging to reach to the heart!” and what you, Dee said, “The mistake people make with Proverbs, and could make with Psalm 37, is to press the will to try to obey.”
    I struggled relating with somebody last week and the Lord helped me process the situation. It was as if the Lord was asking me, “Bing, do you still love this person despite what she has done to you?” You see, I just finished leading a study by Beth Moore called Loving Well in our church. I thought I have learned my lessons well but I must be going through what Dee called “pressing the will to obey”. My regenerated heart will continually need help being transformed daily so I won’t default to work-righteousness.

    If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
    Vindictiveness especially to those who hurt the ones I love.

  3. 1. What stood out?
     
    Dee said “WHEN MY HUSBAND DIED AND I WANTED TO DIE TOO.NEVER WOULD I HAVE IMAGINED THAT TEN YEARS LATER”–and my heart tightened, not having experienced that kind of pain, but to imagine a glimpse of it, I hurt for you again Dee. And then, somewhat selfishly, I thank Him for the great heart He has made, for what you have allowed HIm to do with your pain–for how it has so blessed me, so many, words fail me. I am so thankful for your ministry.
     
    I also have this image of Dee lying between Claire and Sadie to stop their fighting! Dee’s body offered physical protection for each of them, physically ended the fight between them.But she could not make them obey, she has no power over their hearts. Behavior modification would be a temporary band aid.  But the Gospel will one day end the fighting in their hearts. And I am reminded, that Christ lay between me and my enemies, me and my relationships, me and my trials. He lay with arms outstretched, hands and feet pierced. I imagine myself as Sadie in that bed, and beside me I see Christ, and His eyes, filled with the pain He took for my sin, filled with the love that empowered Him to do it. And I begin to soften.
     
    Praying for you Rebecca!

    1. Beautiful, convicting analogy, Elizabeth.

    2. Very cool analogy, Elizabeth!  Sometimes those hurting us are our own “sisters” (like Sadie and Claire) but Christ lays between us, His heart being to protect us both, not wanting us to continue to hurt each other but to be at peace and share in His love, even if it comes at a cost to us of perhaps giving up on trying to  be understood or have everyone agree with us.  Maybe just being content to each lay next to Him and love through Him.

    3. Love that analogy, Elizabeth.  What an insight.

    4. Elizabeth, this is a beautiful analogy of Jesus lying in between, as Dee did with Claire and Sadie. I think too of how He “lay down between” us and God, when we were His enemies…”He lay with arms outstretched, hands and feet pierced”.

  4. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “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 … but within a very short time I sink. I can’t do it. Who will deliver me?”
     
    Wow! dead center hit… I can see how at times I want change so much that I “press the will” in attempt to keep on the “straight and narrow”… I can see how “Pressing the will” is part of the control idol, i.e., if I can “press my will” to change, conform to a desired behavior, or continue something, then I think I maintain control…urgh!  This is definitely something that I need to be keeping an eye out for.  I can begin with the mindset of trusting the Lord for outcomes, but after a while, when things are going well and I want them to continue in that way, I sometimes resort to depending on self (pressing the will)…really, how silly is that??? 
     
    Other things…
    *Sadie and Claire’s rivalry…little do they know that they will likely be each others’ best buddy later in life.
    *”When my husband died and I wanted to die too.  Never would I have imagined that ten years later I’d be so full of the joy of the Lord, so thankful to still be on this earth where I can feel the warm sun on my shoulders, hear the waves lap on the shore, and watch Sally and her precious girls”
    …lovely testimonial of what the Lord can do in our hearts. 
    *References to SoS…love them!
     
     

    1. Nanci,  what you wrote is what stood out to me, too. Glad you wrote it cuz a pain to do much on cell!
       
      LOVE this study!

  5. I love the picture of the sinking canoe, because the ones not sinking yet seem so oblivious to what is happening! Rather humorous! I am a canoeist and can’t imagine it actually happening that way. But don’t we sometimes ignore the obvious, because we don’t want to deal with the consequences?

  6. Good Morning.    When I first joined in on this Bible Study blog several weeks ago, one of you  (I’m sorry I don’t remember who) made the remark that I would find this blog to be a safe place.  I’m so grateful to you ladies for your open sharing.    Listening to a Jill Phillip’s song this morning called  A Lot Like Me that beautifully describes this group.    These are the final lines of the song: 
    Something about being vulnerableMakes us think we’re setting ourselves up for painBut you won’t find judgment in these listening earsThis is a safe place
    So sit down for a minute and tell me what’s been going on
    We’re all in the same boatSailing on the same old stormy seaIf you look real closeYou’ll find you’re a lot like me
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biNeG0F4UWk&list=PLTaxG7mUYVU2u3JV3n1fih_UP7rz4yWp4&index=7
     

  7. Nila–what great lyrics for us! I’m so thankful the Lord did bring you to this safe place–it’s an unexpected gift to find such a fellowship online. I was never much of an online type, but over the last several years the Lord has used this blog family to bless me in indescribable ways–that is only something He can do! It’s always reminded me too of the hymn “Blessed Be the ties that Bind…Blest be the tie that bindsour hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. Before our Father’s throne we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, our comforts and our cares. We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear, and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear…”
     
    So glad you are here with your rich sharing~

    1. Nila and Elizabeth,   both of those songs are right on target!     I had never heard “A Lot Like Me,”  but I liked it a lot when I listened to it.   Of course, I am very famliar with “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,”  but probably wouldn’t have thought of it at this time without the prompting.   Thanks to you both!

      1. Ditto, Nila and Elizabeth…….such wonderful descriptions of our fellowship here.  

  8. Dee, Elizabeth  okay, wow, now thanks to that analogy I’m actually praying it!  “Lord, Jesus, please lay between me and (so and so) and mediate our relationship so that we can exchange only Your love between us….let our communication come out on each side as love, through You!”  (there’s my plan for help with my current issue!  Let Jesus, Who is the Mediator between God and man, mediate my relationships!!!

    1. oh Mary–as I have prayed for you, it just makes me so sad to hear of those who have been like Job’s “friends” it sounds–those you mentioned with different theology and how they apply it to your health…I’m just so sorry. Do you have a good support system otherwise? I am committed to praying for God’s healing on your body. When is your appt to find out what is going on in your lungs?

      1. Elizabeth, thank you so much.  My next appointment is this coming Wed (the 30th) and I will get another injection to continue shutting down the ovaries (my cancer is 95% estrogen receptor positive, so eliminating that as much as possible will go a long way toward maybe getting into a good, long remission) and my first bone strengthening medication will be given then as well.  Thank the Lord, I do have a good support system.  Two the friends who believe differently than me are in positions of authority in my church, so that makes it even more complicated, but I love them and just want to do what I said, above, allow Jesus to mediate the relationships.  (and I TOTALLY believe that God definitely can and does still miraculously heal people and I’m all for it!  I just don’t believe that He ALWAYS does and that there is something wrong with the sick person’s faith if they don’t get healed, just to clarify!)  Thanks so much for your prayers, Elizabeth.  Talk about a support system!  I’m so sorry I can’t individually respond to all of the precious words of support voiced here!  I truly love you ladies!!!  For now I am not cleared to work (and really, I need a different type of job, more flexible for medical appointments) so I have more time available and I can participate more fully in this now (and am going to help out at my church with some things during the week.)  Oh, and I want to also say that just since the first pellet injection to shutdown my ovaries (about 3.5 weeks ago) I feel almost 100% better!!!! (probably 85% anyway)  At first my pain got worse, but for the past two weeks it has been nearly gone!!! Thanks again for the prayers! 

        1. Mary–thank you for the update, I’ve got the 30th down for you (and Laura D is the 31st). This struck me “I just don’t believe that He ALWAYS does and that there is something wrong with the sick person’s faith if they don’t get healed”–I’ve never experienced anything close to what you are, but in my own health trials, I can relate on a much smaller scale. I was raised around those beliefs and as I have suffered a few health conditions over the years, hard-to-“fix”, auto-immune things…I have had extended family members and friends hint at my sickness being spiritual weakness,  un-confessed sin, some have said “what do you think the Lord is trying to tell you?”, with a tone that I’m being scolded…but I answer that He’s telling me He’s with me and He loves me! Dee’s Steve is an amazing example. Though I didn’t know him, I do know he was an incredibly godly man, and defies any thought that sickness is a reflection of a weak faith. We know you WILL be healed, one day we all will be healed–on this side or in eternity is for the Lord to decide, but He is no less glorified either way. Sorry for this spiel! Oh Mary, the way you have shared your heart here, your true and tested faith–has ministered to me so much. He is bringing true beauty out of your brokenness sister.

        2. Love this exchange between you (Mary E.) and Elizabeth. Thanks for the update. Glad the first injection relieved much of your pain. Praying for your appointments.

        3. Mary……my husband and I were hit with that same kind of ‘different theology’ regarding suffering and healing and if we had enough faith, our daughter would be healed, when our (now 28 year old) daughter was dx with cystic fibrosis as an infant.  My heart does go out to you and you are in my prayers this week too.  May God’s peace that passes understanding prevail amidst the questions.

        4. Mary, praying for you and for your appointment tomorrow. I agree with Dee’s reply to you above…you are becoming beautiful through this trial and I am encouraged by your trust in Him as you walk through this journey of cancer. It makes me sad that some take the position of something being wrong with the faith of a sick person (Jesus certainly did everything right and He still had to go to the Cross). I remember many years ago when I was going through a hard time, being in my doctor’s office and saying that maybe if only I had more faith I wouldn’t be sick, and my doctor, a Christian, said that if that was true, then we’d all be in trouble. I’m so glad your pain is better, too.

  9. and a big “thank you” to Sadie and Claire as well!!

    1. Ditto to Diane’s last remark!

      1. I echo Diane and Deanna…what a wonderful exchange, Mary and Elizabeth.
         
        Mary, thanks for the update…glad that the first injection has given you some relief.  I too have July 30 on my calendar for special intentions for you. (Laura-d, I will be praying special intentions for you on July 31).
         
        Elizabeth, what a great answer…love it! 
        (“I have had extended family members and friends hint at my sickness being spiritual weakness,  un-confessed sin, some have said “what do you think the Lord is trying to tell you?”, with a tone that I’m being scolded…but I answer that He’s telling me He’s with me and He loves me!)

  10. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    I loved the story of Sadie and Claire!   Partly that is because I have two daughters, and I can remember well the sibling rivalry.   Now they are in their 40s, and they share a house (neither is married, but one is engaged).  They watch out for one another  in a way that warms my heart.  

    But recently one of my daughters got a tad upset with me because she thought I had told her sister when my husband and I were making a day trip but neglected to tell her.  I was glad I had a copy of my email that I could forward to her and prove that I had tried to inform her.    However, I said to my husband,  “This is sounding a lot like the old Smothers Brothers routine!”     Tommy Smothers signature line to his brother Dick was “Mom always liked you best!”      Dee, I think you handled the situation with Claire and Sadie very well. Your lying between them gave them safety, but also you were equally physically close to each of them.   They were assured of your love (even if you had scolded).    
     
    2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
     
    How uncanny that Dee mentioned the “potato chips,”  because that is exactly a problem I have been struggling with recently.   I tell myself,  “I’m not going to even buy those anymore, since I can’t seem to leave them alone.”   However, a couple of weeks later, a bag of chips will call out to me when I’m doing my grocery shopping, and I quickly stick them into my cart!!    Honestly,  sometimes I am stuffing them into my mouth while I am composing comments for this blog. Evidently  I have a comfort idol as well as an approval idol (not forgetting a control idol too).   Lord, deliver me!!

    1. Oh Deanna, I can see idol issues in all of those areas for myself as well.  I think as long as we live on this side of heaven those things (idols and the sin that results from them) will always be surfacing but as we focus on our love relationship with Him they really do begin to lose their grip and power.  It’s funny, now that I sense how much more my life depends on doing right by my body I have had much less trouble leaving the junk food alone! I think it is fine to enjoy eating (that, in and of  itself, is not an idol because He “… hath given us richly, all things to enjoy.”  1 Tim 6:!7b)  But it definitely becomes a problem when it (food, or whatever) controls us, rather than us controlling (by the grace of God) it.  I don’t want to be controlled by anything but His Holy Spirit…there is my prayer tonight for each of us…that we be controlled by His Spirit.

  11. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?  Oh, I am so blessed to hear Dee’s statement of joy in the Lord and in rejoicing in the wonder and joy that God’s good gifts bring to us on this earth.  Dee, your honesty about how you felt the year after Steve died and your honesty about how you are able to be so filled with joy now, is completely beautiful to me.  The photo of the canoe sinking speaks to me too.  As well as the examples of sins for which we try to ‘will’ to overcome.  I know it was meant as an example, but those three items are all actually on my ‘list’!  
     
    2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.   Being vindictive…..in thoughts, gossip and passive aggressive behaviors has been something that I have struggled with this past year.  It goes back to what I shared last week.  Someone who, because of similar life circumstances, has been exhibiting behaviors which has been particularly offensive to my family and I have reacted with speaking ill of her to others, of being obsessed with her faults and have had a hard time letting her behaviors not affect me negatively.  Her methods of dealing with something that is a big part of my own life as well has become very personal and very distressing to me.  BUT I have been praying about this.  And there were some breakthroughs last week.  
     
    The struggle isn’t over and I don’t expect it will be for a long time, but I have been deeply touched by the gospel in the past two weeks.  I wasn’t on the blog much last week, because we were away camping for 4 days with no internet.  (yay!…..but I did really miss you all!)  Before I left, I wrote out all the questions from the lesson and I had the most wonderful quiet times amidst the most glorious white pines.  God met me there many times during those few days.  I had several insights and felt God speaking to my heart and answering prayer there too.  I came back last night (Saturday) but it was late to try to share my thoughts on the previous lesson.  I was so grateful for the lesson on Psalm 36,  Yancey’s book on Prayer and Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven.  I spent time in each of them and felt God so near.  This morning, our Adult Fellowship group, concluded an 8 week study of The Gospel Revolution by JD Greear.  I’ve missed every week for various reasons (one of which is my own struggle with things at church which have made me very anxious and torn inside in the past several years) although this was a study I was hoping to participate in.  YET…..the lesson this morning, clicked immediately with me, because of what I’ve been gaining here from this blog.  Our Senior Associate Pastor led the discussion and as the group discussed ‘doing good things’ and what that means for the believer and other aspects in the lesson about ‘Gospel Depth’, Psalm 15 came VIVIDLY to my mind.  When I entered the discussion and began to relay the message of Psalm 15 and that none of us can attain the standard set there…..Pastor stopped me because it was exactly how he was planning to close the session!  (wanted to ‘save’ that till the end of the lesson 🙂 )  I felt humbled and grateful that the gospel really has been molding my thinking.  Things that were unclear to me when I began participating here, poured forth from my mouth and I can see that the gospel has been changing my heart. Praised be the name of the Lord!   (This pastor, who led the study today, has been the ‘light’ in the midst of my struggle at my local church.  And sadly (for us) he is retiring at the end of August.  He has been such a help to me.  My husband and I are still not sure if we are remaining in this fellowship but I AM confident that the Lord will continue to show Himself to us.)  And I am SO VERY grateful for this study that has encouraged me and built me up while clearly pointing me to the truth of my own sin and the truth of God’s enormous grace.  I left church rejoicing this morning, for the first time in a long time!
     

    1. Wanda, thanks for your honesty here. Being vindictive in my thoughts and “passive-aggressive” ways is familiar to me, too. What Dee replied has struck me, too, that talking about a person to others is a way of holding on to unforgiveness.

  12. Oh and I also have to chuckle (though it wasn’t a funny thing that happened) that ‘Sadie’s weapon’ as you captioned it, was such an innocent, gentle story such as Pat the Bunny.  🙂

    1. Ha!

  13. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Firstly, the photo of the sinking boat because it’s taken in Australia! The first clue was the Akubra hats. Then I tracked down that it’s a British ‘reality’ TV show I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of Here, which is filmed in Queensland, Australia (http://youtu.be/CG5ukOywo9Y)
    More seriously, I relate to wanting to die. Throughout my life, I have had periods of deep depression and there have been times when I have been suicidal. The thought of the effect on my family has stopped me doing anything about it, and seeking medical help. I thank God that I have not experienced such deep lows in the last 5 years, and that’s without any medication.
    2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
    I keep trying to provide my own security, rather than looking to God. This flows on to cause difficulty being generous because I think I need that money for my own security. But I think the real issue is not feeling secure, not being able to trust that God will provide.

      1. Dee-so glad you are going to deal with the issue of Depression next week. 

      2. The hats made me think it was Australian, so went looking to find out where! I often get asked “Can you find….” at work.

        1. I’m glad you tracked it down, Kerryn.  I was curious about it myself…..but didn’t do the work 🙂
           

  14. 1.  The canoe photo so many have mentioned…..I can’t help but laugh.  Obviously, the ending was not tragic or there would be nothing to laugh about.  For some reason the man in the middle just makes me think of myself……I’m probably reading something into his expression and body language – but I feel like I’m seeing “oh no….here we go….maybe if I just “freeze” everything will come out alright”!  Sometimes – and yes, lately – I can tend to feel that way.  That “oh no” in the pit of my stomach.  What is “seen” is not good.  The “unseen” rescue is, well, unseen.  (2 Cor 4:16-18).   
    Dee, like my sisters here, I see such a lovely moment in your decision to lay down with Claire and Sadie in the heat of the moment…..until the storm had passed (sleep!).  The way that you were in the middle….that you were touching both Claire and Sadie….that you were giving them the security of your presence…..and protecting them from each other!!  
    This morning, the paragraph or two that I’m chewing on is with regard to you and Sally talking about how hard it is to get to the heart of a child….the need to pray that the Holy Spirit would truly draw them and deliver them from the penalty and the power of sin.  I’ve long been unduly skeptical about childhood conversions…….I’ve just seen so MANY “pray the prayer” (myself included!) when young and yet live lives totally opposed to Christ and the gospel.  I think that now, though, the Lord is chastening my thinking in this regard…..and I’m rethinking this.  I’m thinking of some of the children in my life and repenting of my skepticism.  Desiring to be more on board with daily prayer for their souls.  Remembering that Jesus said to Nicodemus that the “wind blows where it wishes….so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  

  15. 2.  It’s hard to choose just one area.  I do run to food for comfort, no doubt.  It’s simply amazing to me that just when I pinpoint one specific behavior with food – late night ice cream! – even as I’m rejoicing in seeing a “good” week with regard to that, still I see myself overeating at different times of the day…..oh my.  And then I begin to justify that I’m so very “active” all day long with the animals and farm life, etc…….I shudder this morning as I read in Philippians 3 about those whose god is their belly, with their minds on earthly things.  BUT, we are awaiting a Savior…..who will transform our lowly bodies one day to be like his glorious body.  Again and again, turning our eyes to our Savior changes everything and gives us HOPE – even about our lowly bodies!  And we need one another too – as Paul exhorts us to keep our eyes on those who walk according to the example he and the disciples gave us.  We’re truly in this together!

    1. Jackie- I so needed to hear the passage in Philippians 3 that you brought out! It has caused me to question my soul in the area of over eating. I think the lie is that over eating out of enjoyment isn’t necessarily a salve-so therefore it is okay..but it is a salve of some sort! It is feeding my comfort idol. In those moments is His love truly more delightful than wine? 

  16. Kerryn – you have touched on yet another area for me…..”security”.  I think that a lot of us here will be able to relate to that on some level.   The heart issuse of trusting God to provide what we need.  Trusting God to DEFINE what we need!  I think Mary e. is a beautiful example to us all of trusting God to define her true needs.  I’m thinking here of her desire to forgive and let the Lord use her to bring restoration to relationships – to stop majoring in the minors!  To face down her very real and urgent fears and speak to her soul words of TRUTH and confidence in Christ.  I so agree with Dee, Mary – God is surely making you beautiful!  You are being so squeezed by life…..and what is coming out of you is a sweet savor of Christ!  

  17. Read Psalm 37:1-9
    A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?
    Don’t fret because of evil men…. ie don’t even look at what they get up to
    B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.
    Don’t look at them, just look at God. Trust in him and he will look after you.
    C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.
    v7  do not fret when men succeed… v8  do not fret– it leads only to evil
    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.
    Don’t fret about running out of money when you retire. The Lord knows what you need and he will provide everything you need to accomplish all he has for you to do.
     

  18. E. How do you delight in the Lord?
    ‘Delight yourself in the Lord’ means taking pleasure in all that he is, in your relationship with him and in his gifts. Praising him is delighting in him. Spending time in intimate relationship with him is delighting in him. Enjoying creation is delighting in him. Whenever we are focusing our attention on God, we are delighting in him.
    And how do you interpret this verse?
    It’s like the famous quote by Augustine “Love God and do whatever you please”. The rest of the quote is not so famous. “For the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the one who is beloved.”
    When we delight in God, our hearts are changed so that the desires of our heart are the very things God delights to give us.

    1. Kerryn….what a refreshing answer.  I love the Augustine quote and you’re right.  I have heard the first part and not remembered the second.  Wow.  That is a lot to ponder.  ‘…nothing to offend the one who is beloved of God.’   How I need ‘….my soul trained in love to God.’

  19. Sunday Icebreaker
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    I love the caption “Sadie’s weapon….” Dee, you have a humorous heart in the midst of trials! I like that about you; keeping it real. I struggle wondering what I “did wrong” with my kids that they are who they are now. I have had many disappointments. I have calmed myself by saying (to myself) you did everything your thought was right and then the world took charge. I hear my middle son talking about religiosity with me and I SO want to speak the “correct” words, but I’m not very good “on the fly” even in normal conversations. I pray they see the truth soon, before it is too late.
     
    2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
     
    My addictive behaviors such as eating.

      1. Thanks Dee I do not know of that chart. I will check it out!

  20. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    First of all I loved the story of Sadie and Claire-using a Pat the Bunny book made me smile. :)))  It was a great way to start us off on heart issues and Gospel transformation. 
    Secondly, pressing the will to obey versus obedience flowing from a Gospel transformed heart stood out. It is so easy for me to default to pressing the will-yet because of Him living inside me there is always this red flag in my spirit-and because of others with Him inside who love me enough to tell me the truth-they can confirm it! And then there is change…not pressing the will but change flowing out of a Gospel transformed heart.
     
    2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
    Just one??? :)) So God helped me years ago with running to food in regard to stress-He is the sweetest salve. 🙂 Yet the enemy comes in and lies telling me it is okay to over eat when you are enjoying the food. If you aren’t using it as a salve to your soul then it’s okay-yet it will turn around and bite me. So the tumor re-surfaces but in a more hidden and deceitful way and I rationalize. I do long for Gospel transformation in this.
     
    I have a praise report for Sunday-I rested in Him. This is all for Him-He is my audience. Thanks so for praying! I do miss singing-guess He wants me to keep singing. Glad to be back!

    1. YEAH!  I’m glad you were able to lose the nervousness of “performing” and just REST in Him and offer up praise to Him as you audience!!!  I was thinking about you yesterday, praying it would go well.

      1. Mary-you are so sweet-how humbled I am that you thought of me! He is so evident in you-with all you are going through to pray for me in this. 

        How are you doing? Do you have support from the body at your church?

  21. 2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
    Loving in a difficult relationship. I tend to keep a record of wrongs and though I say I forgive with my words, I keep a guard up, protective wall. My actions say I require a certain behavior, condition, before I will freely accept. I have moments when His love for me breaks through, moments when I am so convicted by my own sin , and humbled—in those moments I respond well in a grace-giving love. But my default when I find the mean note, when I hear the hurtful words, is to retract, put up a wall, distance myself.
     
    3. Read Psalm 37:1-9 A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?
    “do not fret”. This is an ongoing “theme” in my life!
    B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.
    Do not worry about your enemies because they are temporal. In light of eternity, they are small. Instead of focusing on my trials and my enemies, replace my thoughts with a greater affection—trust in the Lord. Seek what He loves, find my delight, my joy, my comfort, my security—in Him. Then I will be fulfilled.
    C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.do not fret evil doers; do not fret the evil ones who seem to do well. Fretting only leads to anger. Trust that the Lord will avenge and bring justice.
    D.  
    I will not fret more pain and rejection. I will not replay all the pain as I lay the bricks for the wall between us. I will not fear being “not good enough”, I will not fear having my morals and values rejected. He has clothed me, He has called me worthy. The battle is His. But I am His representative. If I love, God abides in me, and His love is perfected in me. Perfect love casts out fear.

    1. Elizabeth-I can relate with your #2. I do the same thing-but only with my husband! I hate that. As of late I am convicted of my own sin-my own inconsistencies-hypocrisy yet how He has forgiven me and calls me beautiful-I am dark but lovely. He is massaging this deeper in and especially so when I read Dee’s manuscript for her next book on Song of Songs..just from reading her manuscript I am seeing a change in how I love my husband-a small step in Gospel transformation because there is no way I could have softened my heart!!! He did!  I know He has a long way to go in my heart in this-but I am grateful for this first baby step of change in me!

      1. Sooo looking forward to that book 🙂

        1. me too!  Has any anticipated release date been set?

    2. Elizabeth-your #3 also resonates with me!! 

    3. Your answer to #2 also resonates with me, Elizabeth. It’s the ‘tending to keep a record of wrongs” and “my actions say I require a certain behavior, condition, before I will freely accept…my default when I find the mean note, when I hear the hurtful words, is to…put up a wall, distance myself.” Yes, I do this too with my husband especially.

  22. Thank you all for such honest, encouraging words here this morning.   I hope to join in on the discussion tonight.  I am headed to Wyoming today to be with my dad who is suffering from alzheimers.    Also, our 26 year old son has his court date this Thursday morning.    Praying for those of us with adult prodigals.  Praying for you, Mary and asking that you continue to know His Strong peace that passes understanding.   Please pray the same for me.   Thank you.

    1. Praying for you right now, Nila…and for your prodigal. 

    2. Praying for your time with your dad and for your son’s court date, Nila.  ” Lord lead, guide and give peace that transcends understanding to Nila and her loved ones.”

    3. praying Nila

    4. Nila, I’m so sorry to hear that your dad has Alzheimer’s, and I hope that your time with him will be meaningful and precious. My mom also has it. Praying for your son’s court date on Thursday. You have a lot on your plate…may you experience His presence and peace through it all.

  23. I was impressed by the comment about young children being led to Christ.  While my daughter seemed to have a true conversion at a young age, my son’s “also early conversion experience” seems to not have reached his heart.  While he was a religion and philosophy major and has considered going into the ministry, his lifestyle does not match the lifestyle learned in our home.  However, he does have a true heart for the unlovely, the down and out, and those who experience injustice.  Is a Christian?  I honestly do not know, but God does.  We continue to talk with him honestly about his choices, but ultimately, he has to embrace Christ in the way Christ asks him to.  
    We had young adults address our congregation yesterday who are in a very strict Christian-based drug treatment program (that has a fairly high success rate) and one of the men talked about being raised in a church, active, with his mom a lay pastor and he emphasized that while he knew about Christ he had never met Him until he was contemplating suicide in his twenties.  Perhaps the seeds planted while in church finally clicked and he had his encounter with Christ.  I pray this for my son.  This I know for sure – God will continue to encounter my son daily, continuing to give him opportunities to embrace the salvation of Christ if he is not a believer yet.
    My continual issue – effective prayer time.  I do not devote myself to it on a regular basis.  This is one of the spiritual practices that got so out of whack during my last four years of work.  As I continue on my path of retirement my goal is to reestablish meaningful bible study, prayer time, and teaching preparation time.  

  24. Sherryl,  I so identify with your description of your son.  Sounds similar to two of my adult children.  And my son’s wife also.  “Is he a Christian?  I honestly don’t know, but God does.”   This is what my heart cries also.  Though with one of my kids, I see a continuous longing and searching.  Like he’s never turned away from God.  He is still trying to find Him.  My kids also, are very involved with loving the unlovely, the down and out and caring about injustice.  And I think, in some way….this shows that God’s grace is still evident in them.  I have pause in regard to childhood conversions or as when Dee aptly suggested…..when an overzealous VBS leader pushes the issue and the child doesn’t understand.   My church puts white roses out when reports of conversions are made.  I have always been uncomfortable with this and with the emphasis on numbers of people who ‘prayed the prayer’….often after VBS, or another special youth event.   I know God meets us instantly when the gospel penetrates our hearts and yet, it is such a life long process of transformation, that for many, there isn’t that one ‘aha’ moment following the ‘sinners prayer’ or it comes much later.    I agree with Jackie that so many times, a childhood conversion is not followed by a life that bears witness to salvation. And then, for others…as some of our children, during the years at home in jr and high school, God’s working is evident in their lives and then gradually, their lives bear very little hint of the gospel.  So we pray.  And we pray.  And we pray.  But God knows.

    1. and Sherryl……how is your vision?   Did you get good medical help?

      1. Saw a retina specialist.  It is a pulling away of the fluid from the macula, which has a piece of the macula attached.  I am trying to see through that small piece.  There is a 50% chance it will heal without surgery, so I am on a “wait and check back.”  I see the specialist again on September 3.  I hope to know more then.  Thank you for remembering and praying.

  25. 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?
    We will delight in something. It is how we are created. If I do not delight in Him—what will I fill the void with? I know whatever “it” is never lasts. Health or affirmation, relationships. Spurgeon says “Think what He is, and what you are; and at once, both wonder and yield. And what else have you to delight in? what thing will you name that shall supply the place of GOD, or be to you in the stead of him?”
     
    What He is—my source of all. He is my Redeemer, my Savior, the Healer of my sick soul. My heart’s Transformer. I cannot live without Him, and He will not take 2nd place. He has shown me that all else will fail me. But He is faithful, even to the clouds.
     
    To delight—“ A high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy.” To delight requires time—it’s not a quick glance, but dwell, enjoy. To be satisfied in Him. I cannot come to Him when I’ve already tried to get a “snack” from other gods. Satisfied means He alone fills me. There is an emptying of myself that must take place before I can delight in Him—emptying my mind of other thoughts, my heart of other gods. Then I am free and hungry to feast on Him alone and be satisfied. My cup overflows.
     
    The 2nd part, the hard part,  “He will give you the desires of your heart” comes second on purpose! I think of the Garden. Only after I have feasted on Him, do my own thoughts and desires begin to be shaped by Him. And then, because my desire is His will and not my own, He gives. I find that I often still want my own desires and struggle with wanting to fully release. I struggle too with assuming His way is going to be the “worst case scenario” in my mind. But then I have to remind myself, He has already defeated, erased, the true worst case scenario. Oh praise Him.

  26. Here is the Gospel vs. Religion chart by Tim Keller that Dee recommended in an earlier comment.  Concise and so good.
    http://www.breakfreeyouthministry.com/Bible%20Study/Religion%20vs%20The%20Gospel.pdf

    1. Thank you Wanda. I checked out the chart and it is pretty cool. I will printed and post it in my house somewhere, as well as send my son a copy. I need to work on number five about criticism.

      1. Should say “print it.” I need to work on others on the list……

      2. Laura….number 5 stood out blatantly to me as well.  It’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about in a situation I’m in right now.  I do have a printed copy, but plan to make a few more 🙂

  27. 3.
    A.  Theme:  Don’t fret!
    B.  Don’t fret because of evil doers or be envious of them because their days are numbered, their time is short.  You need to just trust in the Lord and delight yourself in Him. (Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or not doing!)
    C.  The repetition of the them is throughout the first 9 verses really vs 1″don’t fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers” then down in verse 7 “…Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes” and verse 8 “cease from anger, and forsake wrath, do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.”  And constantly the other theme is “wait for the Lord.”  
    D.  Okay this one has me a little stumped on how to apply these verses in that way (with the sin I mentioned) but I will give it a try…speaking to my soul:  “Don’t be concerned that some of your friends do not understand you or know your heart well enough to assume the best about you in this situation with cancer.  God knows your heart and you are deeply loved by Him and beyond that, how much else really even matters?  God also knows your needs for close, human relationships and He can supply that.  He put that desire in you to begin with and He can fill it and even when those friends may fail, in the end, there He is….ALWAYS THERE and you are learning that He is enough”
    E.  Key to overcoming:  Delight yourself in the Lord.  Verse 4 has been a long time favorite of mine…as I’m sure is true for many.  In finding our delight, refuge, strength, everything in Him I interpret it that He puts in our hearts His desires.  (not necessarily that He gives us all of the things we want, but gives us His desires.)  I used to think that if he put His desires in my heart that it would be a guarantee that they would then be fulfilled but really it is not, because God doesn’t get all of His desires fulfilled either.  For example, 2Peter 3:9 says that it is not God’s will that “…any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  That is my desire as well (a desire He put in my heart) and yet we know that is not what will happen because Jesus said, in Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” So even if God puts His desires in our hearts, that does not mean those desires will be fulfilled because at least one of His desires (for all to come to repentance) is not going to be fulfilled (as far as we can tell from Scripture.)  Just something I have ponder on in the past.  If someone understands it differently I’m open to gaining insight! 
     

    1. Good thoughts and questions in E. , Mary.  I see it as you do….but would also like to hear from others.

  28. 2. Name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
    I have a tendency to give unsolicited advice (especially to my daughters and a brother)…rather than simply listening attentively, I interject with unsolicited advice, as if I know better than they do.  I justify this action by deeming my intention to be “for their good”.  I think this advice tendency stems from a control idol..e.g., pseudo control over how another should react, pseudo control over decisions another is making, pseudo control over another getting hurt, etc.  In “pressing the will,” I can force myself to shut my mouth, but this isn’t the answer…this has a deeper root than simply the undesirable action of unsolicited advice.

  29. 3. Read Psalm 37:1-9
    A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?
     
    Do not fret.

    B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.
     
    Do not fret because in time the evil ones will get what they deserve, and the righteous will be rewarded “forever” 
     
    C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.
     
    Do not fret because of evil men — Do not fret when wicked schemes succeed — Do not fret because it leads to evil.
     
    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.
     
     
    When I stuff myself with potato chips (sometimes corn chips),  I must be thinking that I must provide for my own pleasure.  I am relying on the “salty crunch” to fulfill my life (temporarily).   The Lord brings pleasures to my doorstep every day, but I don’t always notice them, and certainly am not grateful enough for them.   How can I fret to myself,  thinking that the Lord will not provide and I must produce my own (gluttonous) pleasure.   That is the lie!  
      
    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?
     
    “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”      Of course, if I truly “delight in the Lord,”  I will begin to desire what He desires.    Then my thoughts won’t be selfishly for my own comfort, and perhaps my desires will be to not only “delight in the Lord,” but to also “delight the Lord.”    

  30. 3. Read Psalm 37:1-9
     
    A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?
     
    To not fret about those who appear to be doing wrong but succeeding at the same time.
     
    B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.
     
    The verses say to delight and trust in the Lord. When we are in the Lord, we live in a safe sweet place. Isn’t it crazy how things just seem to go right when you are so in tune with God? I went on a job interview today, and didn’t really prepare very well for it. It’s a part-time job at night teaching at a local community college. I’ve never taught that level and I wondered how it would be to do so. After an hour of talking with the director she told me that she would hire me. It was probably the simplest interview I’ve ever had in my life. These types of occurrences make me think that God wants me in that position for some reason. I did pray before I went….”Your Will Lord…” My husband has been working two jobs now for about a year and he’s really drained. I would like to help support our family a little bit better myself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a lot of work, but I think God must want me there.
     
    Those who are seemingly rewarded here on earth through wealth, prestige, power, etc., in the end will suffer instead of live eternally happy.
     
    C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.
     
    The Lord will bless you when you rest in him. Even your life on earth will be happier.
     
     
     
     

  31. 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.
     
    “Don’t fret because of your addictive behavior, trust that the Lord will be enough for you, if you instead delight in Him, not food or other pleasures of this worldly place.”
     

  32. Hi all! I have 2 family members who are battling cancer. They aren’t really “church goers” and I don’t know if they believe in Jesus either. They were both married in a church. I am praying for their respective illnesses, however I would love to lead them to a Tim Keller sermon; I think they might be receptive to listening. Can anyone who is familiar with the sermon series help me choose a selection for those needing a nudge to think about this? These men are well educated and might be willing to try it out.

      1. PERFECT Dee! Thanks!

  33. Before I begin answering questions.….just have to say that I melted listening to this rendition of Rock of Ages.  I’ve probably sung those words a million (okay……I exaggerate) times, but in the context of what we’re studying here and because I’ve been focusing on Psalm 15 again this week…the lyrics were so profoundly meaningful.  On one  hand, I grew up singing songs like this all the time.  On another, I grew up with messages of ‘pressing my will’ into obedience as well.  When I was in our Adult Fellowship on Sunday, we were discussing this very thing.  When asked “…if a devout Jew, a practicing Muslim, a rock singer who believes all religions are the same, a shady politician, an amoral Wall street ‘insider’ and an evangelical Christian all hear about a massive humanitarian need and all respond by providing aid and energizing their communities to do the same…have these individuals done a good work?”   One person answered that they have all done a good work but only the Evangelical Christian’s work was righteous.  One person said that it’s all in our attitude because God loves a cheerful giver.  One person said that if we obey even if we don’t feel like it, God blesses us.   And these are all people who are in church and Bible study all the time.  I was really taken aback that the message of works righteousness is so prevalent amongst my peers at my church.  Not the labour of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands.  Could my zeal no respite know,  Could my tears forever flow,  All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.    I’m quite sure that each of the people that answered in these ways, knows in their heart that only Jesus blood and righteousness saves us but somehow these default statements of something we can do still surfaced first.  I am so grateful to come here and be continuously reminded that it is only out of the overflow of our hearts, because of God’s all surpassing grace and have come with nothing in our hands….only to cling to His cross.  So grateful for Dee and for everyone here who helps each other understand this more.  

    1. Wanda, I had this very conversation with my husband tonight as I was reading the TK religion vs gospel chart. He grew up catholic and is having a hard time understanding that Jesus died and took it all for us, therefore we are saved  before we even begin! He thinks we must do good on earth and then Jesus will provide. I told him that no matter what we have done, if we believe wholeheartedly that He loves us, and we are His, then we are blessed. It is hard for some people to imagine someone doing such an act for others. Oh the love!

      1. Yes Laura…..’Oh the love’!  So true!

  34. 3. Read Psalm 37:1-9
    A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?    Don’t fret over evil or be jealous when an evil person seemingly triumphs. 
    B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.    Sometimes, it looks like evil is winning.  It may look like someone who rules over others unmercifully with selfish  disregard for anyone else gets all the breaks, the wealth, the fame.  It may look like someone with malicious motives triumphs over someone with a pure motives in the eyes of society.  It may not look at all like ‘the meek inherit the earth’ or the ‘persecuted are blessed’.  It reminds me of the famous line… ‘it’s Friday.  Sunday’s comin’!  That is….for we who live on the other side of Sunday and know that Jesus HAS completely, once for all,  triumphed over sin, death and the devil…..Satan still has some reign in this life.  And yet, what we see around us in our everyday lives is all temporary.  Paul goes so far as to say that the troubles we have here……the injustice, the abuse, the disregard, the pain, are all ‘light and momentary’….and the glory that awaits us far surpasses all that this life offers.  So realize the fleeting nature of what the world calls success.  Realize the temporary aspect of fame, wealth and prestige.  It will all wither away.  Only God’s word stands forever (Is. 40:8) so trust in HIM.  Do good.  (alas, we cannot actually do good within ourselves….but we can do what He has called us to when we are clothed in HIS righteousness).   Also….we will dwell safely.  We will rest in green pastures and by still waters.  Because HE is our shepherd.  When we trust not in what we see around us but in the character, the righteousness of the Good Shepherd, He will give us all that we need and all that we could ever desire. 
    C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.   Don’t fret because of evil men (vs. 1)   Don’t fret when men succeed in their ways of wicked schemes  (vs. 7)  Don’t become angry over evil seeming to triumph because fretting leads us to evil (vs. 8)   
     

  35. 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.         Don’t fret because someone you know is constantly lauded, supported and the recipient of much attention and financial generosity while others in the same or even in a more difficult position, who are humble in their approach to it, are overlooked and sometimes lonely, financially needy and unsupported.  Your fretting has caused you to speak unkindly of the person in focus, to others you know.  You are fretting because you are not believing that God will provide for all.  You are fretting because you are not trusting that the injustice will be brought to light.  You are fretting because you are not trusting that God is enough.  God is your security and He will provide for you and for those whose cause you plead. The attention and generosity of others is fleeting.  Security in God’s provision and knowing His everlasting love is forever. 

  36. In regard to the question on verse 1,
     I had a conversation with a man just this morning who had a minor on-the-job injury when he was in his teens.   Because this was before employment rules were as strict as they are today, the young man had been paid in cash.   When his father went to the employer to get some help in paying for treatment for his son’s injury, the employer denied having used the young man’s services or employing him in any way.   As the person I was talking with concluded his story, he said, “Fortunately, my father….”  As he said these words, I immediately thought he would finish the sentence like this:  “Fortunately, my father threatened to sue him, and the boss paid up.”   But the man ended his story this way:   “Fortunately, my father just decided to let it go, and he paid the medical bill himself.   A lawsuit would not have been worth it.”    I realized the man I was talking to had a much more godly attitude than I did! I thought it would have been “fortunate” to threaten and maybe win a suit.     I am not saying that it’s never right to sue, but we need to weigh these things on God’s scale, not the world’s scale. This man and his father understood the importance of focusing on the goodness of God.
    Ironically(?) the employer in this story died several months later of cirrhosis of the liver.

  37. In regard to the question on verse 1,
     I had a conversation with a man just this morning who had a minor on-the-job injury when he was in his teens.   Because this was before employment rules were as strict as they are today, the young man had been paid in cash.   When his father went to the employer to get some help in paying for treatment for his son’s injury, the employer denied having used the young man’s services or employing him in any way.   As the person I was talking with concluded his story, he said, “Fortunately, my father….”  As he said these words, I immediately thought he would finish the sentence like this:  “Fortunately, my father threatened to sue him, and the boss paid up.”   But the man ended his story this way:   “Fortunately, my father just decided to let it go, and he paid the medical bill himself.   A lawsuit would not have been worth it.”    I realized the man I was talking to had a much more godly attitude than I did! I thought it would have been “fortunate” to threaten and maybe win a suit.     I am not saying that it’s never right to sue, but we need to weigh these things on God’s scale, not the world’s scale. This man and his father understood the importance of focusing on the goodness of God.
    Ironically(?) the employer in this story died several months later of cirrhosis of the liver.

  38. 5 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?
    Seems like I often need to tell myself to slow down just so I can identify something to delight about.   To break away from the rush and confusion of life and allow my mind to ponder.   It sometimes happens best through music.    Pondering this song by Sara Groves tonight:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmrTvDoqvMM
    A friend called me today and described how she has been spending time this summer considering the attributes of God.    Delighting in who He is whether circumstances get better or worse.   She described that it is not always a smooth journey and she is not always successful in choosing this delight…. but it is a means of keeping her eyes on the prize.

    1. Thanks for the Sara Groves song, Nila. And thanks for the reminder that we need to slow down (maybe even full stop) and delight in the Lord. We’ve got to “Keep our eyes on the Prize” (Jesus the author and finisher of our faith). 

  39. Wanda,
    Thank you for the Tim Keller  Religion vs. Gospel  chart.   

  40.  If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the Gospel.
    Sinfully (as opposed to simply) put, impatience and anger.
     

  41. I’m praying, Mary!
     
    3A. What is the theme?
    Don’t worry about the wicked.
     
    B.  The theme is expanded in v. 1-4.
    Don’t worry…trust in God.  Those who are evil and practice wickedness will received their “comeupins” from the Lord.  Those who trust in the Lord will be provided for always and forever.
     
    C. Find the repetition of the them of not fretting in v. 1-9.
    In v. 1, we are told not to worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong, and then in v. 7b, we are told not to worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their evil schemes.  This is saying that in terms of worldly appearances, evil people may look successful, like they are achieving great things despite their evil, underhanded scheming.  The psalm is advising (warning?) that we should not buy-in to this sham, for v. 9a tells us that the wicked will be destroyed.  What the evil people have “won” in this world will be all of their winning for eternity.  Evil will not win in the end, but will be addressed by our righteous Lord.

  42. 1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    The opening; how Dee described the transformation of the winter being past and the flowers appearing on the earth, and how that mirrored how she felt after Steve died – that long winter of grief and sorrow and the “summer” that has come to her and how she is filled with the joy of the Lord. I marvel at how God designed the seasons and how they mirror the seasons we go through in life – emotionally, spiritually, physically. And the story of Sadie and Claire…I know Dee and Sally are praying for true heart change for these two little sisters, yet I couldn’t help but smile at how Pat The Bunny came into the story. OH! I think of the constant picking on his brother my older son did to his younger brother. We are at the beach now, and I remember past vacations when I had to constantly police between the two of them…the oldest would throw sand at his younger brother, dunk him in the water…now, I am watching them hang-out together and share a room and they are the best of friends. Although the younger brother just admitted that years ago when he was being picked on, he would take Adam’s toothbrush and dunk it in the toilet every night as a way to get back at him. I am seeing the “heart change” between the two of them that it was impossible for me to bring about.

    1. Susan,  I laughed at the toothbrush in the toilet! ohhhhhooo…that sounds like something my youngest might do to my oldest.  I so love how you see their heart change knowing it was impossible for you to bring about.  This gives me such hope as a mom with the complexities of each boy of mine! 🙂

      1. Yes…we can laugh about it now! The younger even quipped how he gave it a good scrub under the rim and probably it went a long way in helping the oldest develop a good immune system:))

        1. Susan-I just let out a loud laugh..ewww…Oh my. Boys! 😉

    2. Oh, Susan. This really made me laugh and then cringe. With 5 little grandsons, who sometimes do not get along with each other, we’ll probably never know some of the antics and even passive-aggressive behaviours that go on. 

    3. Love your thoughts here, Susan.  The mirroring of seasons and life.  So relevant to many situations.  (although I do so love and am energized by autumn, especially if it’s been a hot summer….that I think sometimes ‘summer’ is my season of loss and grief.)  Either way……the changing seasons have so much to teach us.  The retroactive toothbrush dunking confession is too funny!  I’m so glad your sons are best of friends 🙂  

    4. Good grief!  I feel like I need to send an inquiry email to my older brother now!

  43. 3. Read Psalm 37:1-9
    A. Kidner says the theme is in the first verse. What is it?
    We don’t need to fret at evil and oppression because he is in control. 
     
    B. The theme is expanded in verses one through four. Expand it.
    This is fixating on Him rather than fixating on the evildoers…There is a contrast: Fretting evildoers vs trusting in the Lord; being envious of evildoers vs delighting myself in the Lord. They will wither in their evil doing-yet because we are trusting in Him-our eyes fixed on Him our desires being transformed into His-we will do good not evil. They will wither in their evil doing either here on Earth but for sure in the futuer-He has this! But He will give us the desires of our hearts because our desires will be His and they will be good. So there is no need to worry or fret. He is in control.
     
     OH THIS IS A BALM TO ME THIS MORNING!!!

    1. Rebecca, I am still praying for your brother, nieces, and you…you are such a light shining in the darkness as you continue to cling to Him!

      1. Susan-I knew you would be! Thanks so much. My sister in law’s name was Diana. Diana’s grandfather committed suicide too so depression and suicide runs in the family.  Pray I know how to comfort my nieces-I am concerned for them. My youngest niece is going to be a senior in high school this year and She is the one who found her mother dead. When my brother told us the story it broke our hearts!! My oldest niece is really struggling right now.

        1. Oh Rebecca, this is so tragic, the family history of suicide, and your beloved niece…senior in high school and she so needs her mom…as well as her older sister. I will keep praying…

        2. Thank you for sharing a bit more of the story, Rebecca.  My heart breaks for your nieces.  Tears are surfacing thinking of one going through her Senior year without her mom.  ‘Oh Lord, give Rebecca and her nieces a sweet bond.  Surround them with many who will love them and let them cry and grieve and ultimately, Lord,  bring them and their dad to a place of peace amidst such tragic loss.  Give Rebecca and others,  wisdom and strength to be there for this family that is hurting so deeply and for such a long, hard journey ahead.’    

        3. Amen to Wanda’s prayer for Rebecca and her grieving  brother and nieces.

  44. 2. If you are willing, name one behavior in you in which you keep sinking, and long to have transformed by the gospel.
     
    Like Rebecca, I ask “Just one?!” I have an entire list. One would be that I so easily am drawn into arguing and bickering with my husband. I can remember my post last week about needing to apply the gospel to our family time during our vacation. Well, we weren’t even out of our neighborhood in the car before my husband and I were quarreling over something. Although I should be first to say I’m sorry, it’s like pulling my teeth for me to say it, which indicates that I hold onto things and harbor resentment and un-forgiveness. Second, but it goes along with the first, is that I can find it so hard to control my thought life. I want my thoughts to be more focused on the Lord and His Word, but my mind can run all over the place.

    1. Susan, me too-and God just brought something to mind that is a bit more applicable at this point in time than the food thing. 

  45. 3 C. Find the repetition of the theme of not fretting in 1-9.
    Fret not because of the evildoer rather: Delight myself in the Lord, Trust in the Lord, Commit my way to the Lord, Be still before the Lord, wait patiently for Him. Instead of fretting over their prosperity and becoming angry toward them desiring wrath-wait for the Lord for they are cut off, we are not. Again, He is in control.
     

  46. 3A.  the theme seems to be not to fret about evildoers…..nor be envious of them!  That got me thinking that there is a clear warning about jealousy here.  Sadly, it seems that our fretting is at least partially because we want what the evildoers have!  Whatever it may be that they have, it surely is NOT a relationship with God!  And so again, here come the idols……if I’m envious of the wicked, then I’m not treasuring my Lord above all else.  Jesus said it so clearly in Matthew 6…..”No one can serve two masters.  For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”  
    I love words.  I also remind myself that, as Proverbs 10:19 tells us….”When words are many, transgression is not lacking.”  Care and contemplation is needed.  But I love that in the next few Proverbs verses we also are told that “the tongue of the righteous is choice silver” and “the lips of the righteous feed many”…….   With that in mind, the word “fret” caught my fancy.  I looked up the Hebrew word – “charah” and found it to confirm the jealousy angle.  It seems to mean to glow or grow warm…. to blaze up with anger, zeal or jealousy.  There seems to be an element of devouring included as well.  Oh boy.  This is serious stuff.  Serious soul warning here.  

    1. Thank you for sharing the Hebrew meaning here, Jackie, that does add clarity and wow, I have definitely experienced this, even recently.  I have some family members who have smoked all their lives (and are in their 70’s now) and at least one cousin who is a drug addict and yet they don’t have cancer. I could “fret” over that at times (meaning really being jealous, feeling like they are getting by with something, while I have never smoked, drank, or used drugs in my whole life) When I allow the enemy to take me down a dark path, I could feel like God owes me better.  That is a lie… but the TRUTH is He has already given and continues to give me, and will one day give me WAY BETTER than I deserve!  Praise Him for His continual mercy and grace!  So I can see where this “fret” could be largely related to the concept of jealously/envy.  I think the next questions even touch on that.  Thanks for your insights, Jackie!

  47. God brought to mind a ‘fret’ I have inside in regard to an employee of mine when school starts this year.  I rarely encounter someone who purposefully causes trouble just because they delight in it.  SO this Psalm is a balm reminding me to fix my eyes on Him-He has this. I will just do what I am supposed to do in regard to warnings, etc..but I don’t need to get angry or frustrated with her, or gossip, or take part in gossip. I need to trust Him and love the ladies there for His glory. I am amazed at how he has moved in my work place anyway. He is good!

    1. Rebecca, this sounds like a person who is dying inside; someone who wants others to hurt as much as she does.

  48. 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?
     
    I love what Nila shared about her friend going through God’s attributes as a way of delighting in Him.  I would echo that as something I’ve done in the past and feel the nudge to be intentional about doing this now again.    For several years, I taught first graders the Desiring God curriculum at Sunday school called the ABC’s of God which goes through each of God’s attributes.  We made a LONG border at the top of the classroom; with the initial letters and names of each of them (hence the name: A,B,C’s…..but it didn’t actually go through the alphabet per se) Omnipresent, Attentive, Bounteous, Love, Merciful, Almighty, Creator,   and on and on and on.  I ‘quizzed’ the kids many times during the year and they got the names all mixed up (they were FIRST graders!) but boy, did this teacher learn a lot during lesson prep!  God’s attributes came to mind readily when I prayed.  I need to go back and go through the list again.  THANKS for sharing this idea, Nila.    I also echo that music brings me into God’s presence so deeply, when thoughts are confused and words don’t come easily.  And reading.  Besides the Word itself, I always have 3 or 4 good edifying and/or teaching books going.  I’m not a fast reader.  I’m a very slow, ‘read some from here and read some from there’ kind of reader.  I can be reading the same books for years because I ponder and compare the thoughts of different writers.  

  49. 3B.  I’ve been trying to answer these questions without reading too much first of what you all are sharing and thus, being a copycat!  But as I said, I do love words and I’m captivated by so much of what is being pondered and shared as I’m scrolling down to answer a question!  I want to be teachable – and no one who is a part of this blog fellowship has not impacted my heart in some way.  
    But on to the theme being expanded in verses 1-4.  Overall, what I see in these verses is an admonition to take the long view of life.  Life is eternal.  This life is not “all” that there is.  That said, this life may not be all, but it IS where we are!  verse 3 in particular speaks to my heart.  Get first things first:  Trust in God, and do good.  I love that He tells us to dwell in the land…..that seems to have the sense of really making your home where you are…..always remembering of course that the whole of scripture reminds us that we are sojourners!  How exciting is that?  The ones who live in light of eternity get to REALLY live…..as Jesus told us , the “abundant life”….  It got me thinking about Jeremiah 29.  Where God, through Jeremiah speaks to the exiles, living in captivity in Babylon.  “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce……..seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile….”   Amazing.  I think God was telling them to take the long view.  He was telling them to settle in and serve.  To fully live.  And then, of course, come the promise…….”I will visit you…..for I know the plans I have for you….”   Trust in the Lord.  Settle in where He has sent you.  And remember the promises!  Amen.