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Religion, self-salvation strategies, kill.

The gospel, the GREAT I AM, gives life.

This week is a golden chapter in John.

Jesus does not mince words with the religious Pharisees.


When we, like the Pharisees, revert to religion, to “works-righteousness,”

it is because we are forgetting who Jesus is and what He is like.



The chapter begins when a couple is caught in the act of adultery.

Jesus saw the injustice of the Pharisees bringing the woman alone,

as Hosea 4:14 prophesied He would.

If He didn’t have her stoned, they thought, He would be disobeying the law of Moses.

If He had her stoned, they thought, it would seem lacking in compassion.

They thought they had Him. Our own Mary E. found this from Michael Card:

What the Pharisees didn’t know, didn’t accept, didn’t embrace is that











And so we must ask our hearts:

Do I know this?

Do I believe this?

Do I embrace this moment by moment?

For if I do, I can be set free of my chains!.


Now that I understand heart idols, I’m sure the Pharisees were fearful of losing their power, what they saw as their security. But if they had known who Jesus was, they could have trusted Him to be that.

Two weeks ago our own Elizabeth shared an incident with her strong-willed child: her fears, yet faith’s victory. 

One of my children has a very strong willed, stubborn nature. The Lord will use it for good one day, I am trusting that! But in the strain of it today, the old Prodigal Son story breaks me again. True love, real love, does not have one ounce of performance attached to it. Because my child so stubbornly challenges our authority—I have the chance, the privilege even (!) , to give love before there is repentance. I used to think I would be the welcoming father once this child “returned”—but it is the now that matters. And so I told her this, just now. I told her how I fail to show it but that it is true, she is loved, just as she is. I pray for obedience because He commands it, because it is best for her, for all of us, but I told her she must know, she must never doubt, that she is fully loved whether she obeys or not.


 So stepping out as I did just now, though she is young—required that faith. Faith that if she uses my confession against me someday, if she continues to do her own thing at school—He will carry me. And He did. She wrapped her arms tight around me. As I said how I had failed to model His love, her squeeze got tighter, and the enemy tempted me to feel judged and pull back, but I couldn’t…He’d taken me too far. I will stumble again, but to keep going back to repentance, and then trusting Him to catch me, is the only way. Otherwise my pride, my fear, will keep me from ever moving forward. I thank Him for this trial. …I thank Him for how He is using this to mold me. To learn in micro-steps, how to love like He does. She smiled big and skipped away and I knew that she felt His love, through me, in that moment. 



 Note: Next week Lent begins and I’m counting on you who have been with us in Part I. to welcome and encourage and mentor newcomers! We will need to begin with a review lesson, and I hope I’m not tiring you with repeats, but I am SO grateful for your input. Next week is similar to what I have just submitted as the overview chapter for this guide to a publisher. Appreciate prayers and always, input.

Sunday Icebreaker:

1. What stands out to you from the above?

2. Where are you afraid to trust Jesus with your idols? Which of the above truths about Him could help you?


Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

3. Watch the video below, verbatim from John, and comment on anything that strikes you.



It was during the Feast of the Tabernacles, and the four huge candelabras, as tall as the Temple walls, were lit. The Temple itself was built on the highest point in Jerusalem, so these flaming torches could be seen right across the city. Jesus stood right in front of the candelabra that represented the light of the Messiah and said: 



Let your heart worship Him with this:


Whenever Jesus makes an I AM claim it is a claim to Deity, for it is the same words God the Father spoke to Moses when Moses asked His name. Whenever He makes such a claim, His friends are in awe and His enemies want to stone Him.

I AM chart

3. Read John 8:12-20.

A. What is Jesus’ promise in verse 12 and how is this relevant to your walk today?

B. What is the objection to this claim from the Pharisees and how does Jesus refute it?

4. Read John 8:31-38

A. According to the words of Jesus here, what does sin do to a person, and what can the truth of the gospel do?

B. Do you believe this and how is this relevant to your walk today?

Prepare your heart by listening to Michael Card:


5. Read John 8:39-47

They claim Abraham is their father, but Jesus says they have another father. What is His supporting evidence? Find everything you can.

6. What do they accuse Him of in John 8:48-52?

7. What sarcastic question do they have for Him in John 8:53?

8. Describe the dialogue and actions in John 8:56-59.

9. I want to go back to the ice-breaker question. Where are you struggling with idolatry and how can the truth of this chapter set you free?

Thursday-Friday: Keller Sermon

This is not free, but too wonderful not to share. If you can listen, share your notes.



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

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  1. John 8:48-52  In calling Jesus a Samaritan they are indeed using what we would call a racial slur.  That was a demeaning term in that period of time and in their culture.  
    John 8:53 Obviously they did not comprehend the difference between physical and eternal life.  
    John 8:54-59  The key in this part of the passage is Jesus using the phrase I am.  This is a reference to YHWH, (Exodus 3:14) the reference God made to Moses when Moses asked God who should I say sent me?  Here Jesus Christ claims to be God, fully and completely.  The one who was from the beginning and the one who is without end.  
    This is why there can be no surprises for God.  What I am troubled by, distressed by, happy about, etc. has always been known to Him.  He is above and outside the physical world, so He knows and sees all.  He crafted me before I was in my mother’s womb, so He is intimately knowledgable about me and all my insecurities.  This is why He can tell me that in no uncertain words, to cast all my issues on Him, so He can carry them for me.  In other words, I have been brought into this world so that He can shine through my life.  Nothing can prevent this except me choosing to ignore Him.  
    May I be ever reminded that He walks with me daily, holding my hand, leading me through good and tough times, for this is when His light shines brightly to all those around me.  May I lift His light higher and higher, so my neighbors will be drawn to Him.  Amen.

  2. My midweek post 🙂
    4. Read John 8:31-38
    A. According to the words of Jesus here, what does sin do to a person, and what can the truth of the gospel do?  Sin enslaves us.  The truth sets us free when we know the Truth, Jesus.  The slavery of sin also causes scars, scar tissue that remains even after we have been freed.  But, oh the joy when the Light therapy, ABIDING in truth, dissolves even the scars.
    B. Do you believe this and how is this relevant to your walk today?  oh, I do believe (and the photo of Jesus & the little child has been helping that soak in)…but sometimes I forget.
    HOW IS THIS NOT RELEVANT?? 🙂   This whole question jumped out at me, and I decided that this is a good time to post.  I have been absorbing this lesson so far this week, including walking in the light, the source of light, abiding, truth, even the title.   
    He is the God of my distractions.  Sunday, I was so distracted that it was difficult to write a coherent post.  I read the verses about light, and smiled.  He gave me peace, and I also experienced the warmth of His light.  When a picture of a Sunbeam appliance popped up online, I listened to and started analyzing the lyrics of “I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus.”  “I’ll can if I but try” ????   I guess I’m not a very good “tryer.”
    Monday: a meeting — not usually at my best in these.  This was better than usual but still discouraging.  I have been seeking the Light, and I went into the meeting seeking the light.  Then this morning, I read, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth…”  I do have gaps in my moment by moment abiding; yet the God of my distractions has wired me in such a way that when I saw the question about “I am the light,” everything I knew about Him being the light came swirling in to sustain me. Not even sure I read the entire question!

    As I thought about the title, I realized that I don’t argue with the great I AM as often as I argue “for” Him, in the darkness, trying to be a sunbeam for Jesus 🙂   But the battle for truth, justice, and mercy is not mine to win.  My Redeemer, the one who rescued me from slavery and is restoring me, already has won the battle.

    I also realized that when I don’t feel as if I am winning the battles (control idol!!) and become exhausted from the stress, I tend to seek different situations, exchange what seems like total blackness for one that is less dim, rather than seeking the light.  I have the Light available to me, yet I am burning myself out trying to find glow-in-the-dark stickers (and we know how long they provide light).   This is huge for me…also helps me realize the wisdom in metaphors (I can’t post the details of the actual situations here!).I get a glimpse of the Sun/Son.  I stop waving my sunbeam in the darkness and stop my frantic search for glow in the dark stickers (for a few seconds anyway).  He runs to me and, as in the picture, I am in His arms.  At that point, I am too relieved and too tired to argue with the Great I AM.  (And after awhile, the whole sequence repeats).

    Tuesday:  I often am not sure when to label something as spiritual attack/battle, but even I could see that yesterday morning was all out warfare.  I was working at home, then getting reading to go into the office for the afternoon and evening.  And the hem needed fixing on the pants I wanted to wear.  Found the needle, but couldn’t find the thread (I haven’t used needle and thread for almost a year).  Within minutes, “couldn’t find the thread” turned into being a horrible person who deserved to die…and emotionally, I felt that way, a painful scar from the past.  The strength of my thoughts and emotions startled me.  And He came running, over the mountains… and a few minutes later, I was smiling while I used a stapler and tape to fix my pants 🙂   The power of knowing the Truth, believing the Truth, and resting in the Truth.

    And Wednesday:  during today’s events, the Master Weaver will continue to work:  a Brady Bunch episode, an opportunity for God’s grace and mercy, a national group related to religion, HIV, in a 15-30 min conference call.    ONLY GOD can focus this scattered brain into that story 🙂    

    1. Renee!   I loved the above post so much.  You made me laugh (multiple times)  The Sunbeam commercial being a segue for the lyrics of the children’s song, the stapled hem etc.   And yet, underneath it, so much depth, as always.  Seeking a ‘less dim solution’ instead of going right to the LIGHT.  Convicting.  ‘glow in the dark stickers’  an apt illustration.  I’m rushing off to work again, but wanted to grab these thoughts before i did.  Your ‘Wednesday’ post made me chuckle too.  Because I know that ‘this scattered brain’ is synthesizing it all and will come out with another great heart lesson.  

    2. Renee – “And He came running, over the mountains…” Yes. So glad to hear of your “rescue” and to be reminded how He bounds to us. Thank you.

    3. One more thing from your post, Renee.  You mentioned not arguing ‘with the great I AM’ but ‘arguing FOR Him’ and the realization that no matter how we ‘try’ we can’t win the battles for truth, justice and mercy.    They are already won by our Redeemer.  I have been thinking about this very thing in regard to the big emphasis on apologetics that has been happening in my local congregation for the past few years.  I question putting Christians on the defensive all the time.  Jesus IS the Truth….I keep thinking we should be emphasizing getting to know HIM and how to trust in Him to fight for us.  Your words are helpful to me.   And in my Exodus reading today,  ‘The Lord will fight for you.  You need only to be still’  Ex. 14:14

      1. Wanda – amen and amen to your post!!!!  🙂  And….isn’t it fun to be reading in Exodus so soon after that incredible documentary??? 

        1. Yes, it IS Jackie!  Was thinking of that again this morning.  I was also glad to leave Genesis with the multiple stories of sexual perversion.  Some of them I had forgotten.  Oh so much to take in and yet to see the character and glory of the Living God in the whole of the Bible.

  3. 9. I want to go back to the ice-breaker question. Where are you struggling with idolatry and how can the truth of this chapter set you free?  Two birds with one stone 😉  Kinda answered that as well as I can without being two descriptive:  HE CONTINUES TO SET ME FREE from idolatry, from the enemy, the pit of hell   (I had severe nightmares Monday night/Tues am — that only seems to happen with med or  spiritual battle; very rare for me to nightmares now).  In the nightmare, something bad happened related to current life situation — He won in the nightmare and showed me that even the “worst” can be for my best and His glory.

  4. 3. Watch the video below, verbatim from John, and comment on anything that strikes you.
    I probably am reading things into movements but it looked as if the woman had the urge to kiss Jesus after he told her to go and do not sin again. But she thought better of it. This makes me ponder that old habits are hard to break. She looked like a hardened, scared woman, forced into prostitution by desperation of poverty whose main thought at that point was to get away. She never smiled for a moment and wasn’t sure even at the end that she could really get away from her accusers. 

  5. 4. Read John 8:31-38
    A. According to the words of Jesus here, what does sin do to a person, and what can the truth of the gospel do?
    Sin enslaves. The gospel sets free, true freedom.
    B. Do you believe this and how is this relevant to your walk today?
    Daily I see how sin enslaves me, though sometimes I am blind to see how much it enslaves me. My natural inclinations are self-centered, inward focused. My only hope is to focus on Christ, walk his path and allow Him to free me. I am a slave of sin, just as truly as the adulteress was a slave, and as deserving of condemnation. Oh wonder, that Jesus says to me each moment and each day, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

  6. 9. I want to go back to the ice-breaker question. Where are you struggling with idolatry and how can the truth of this chapter set you free?
    This question stirred my heart today. In the past week and a half, 4 different instances have occurred that made me “look bad”, and they honestly were someone else’s fault, but only myself and the other person would know that. I was tempted to prove myself, I had the “proof” to, but I couldn’t. With each instance, I knew the root of my anger was my approval idol. The mistakes were not mine, but appeared to be—and I struggled with wanting the other person to step up, wanting to explain it myself—wanting to justify myself. It was hard because in these cases, I really wasn’t at fault! UGH. I have struggled to be freed, praying for forgiveness of this idol-worshiping, but still feeling bound by my frustration, the “injustice”.

    But today–OH this passage spoke to my heart so clearly. I asked Him ‘how do I follow You in this Lord, show me the path of Light out of this, help me to fully release my desire to be justified.’ And then I looked back at the verses just prior…just before He tells us He is the Light, He is the One to follow, just before this, He models what it looks like to follow Him. He says  “Neither do I condemn you”. OH how much I have to be condemned of. Oh how much He has forgiven me. And so to walk in His light, is not just to follow behind Him, but to be transformed by the light–to be like Him, to imitate Him. And He has just shown me—this is what you do—‘forgive as I have forgiven you’. It’s gone. There are still frayed ends, things people may question now and I will try to explain but I feel peace that I am resting in following His model. The Light transforms. When all this came up I wanted to alter my circumstances and try to keep it from happening again—but I know that isn’t the answer. The answer is not external “fixing” but internal transformation, the power of the Light within. 

    1. Elizabeth,  LIKE!

    2. Elizabeth, my husband preached Sunday on situations such as yours and used the following passage:  I Peter 3:13-20.  If I understand correctly, you willingly suffered as Christ suffered for us.  This sacrifice of yours allows the light of Christ to shine through you to others.  Perhaps even conviction will occur as a result and the Holy Spirit can bring change in the others involved in your situations.  But, even if that does not occur, Christ saw your heart and your willingness to follow Him into suffering for His sake.  He is ecstatic by your demonstration of a Christlike walk.

    3. Elizabeth – wow!  I can’t do better than to “copy” Renee, Sherryl and Liz!  I love how Sherryl brought in a connection with 1 Peter 3:13-20.  So, so true.  These situations you have found yourself in are HARD.  Your choices to seek Jesus in them, BEAUTIFUL.  Thank you so much for sharing this!  🙂

    4. Elizabeth, this is beautiful…”the answer is not external “fixing” but internal transformation, the power of the Light within.”
      you are an inspiring woman…thank you for sharing this experience and your revelation.

  7. Elizabeth sounds like some powerful internal transformation going on inside but outside also a light shining. I cannot help but think of what “the other person” who knows is seeing in you even if perhaps you will never know that. Not justifying ourselves takes oh so much power and strength and I believe impossible without Him!

  8. 4. Read John 8:31-38
    A. According to the words of Jesus here, what does sin do to a person, and what can the truth of the gospel do?
    Jesus was telling “the Jews who believed in Him” that if they remained faithful to his teaching, then they would know the truth and the truth would set them free.    I think this conversation that Jesus was  having with this group of Jews had sort of an ironic twist to it.   The following verses end up proving that they weren’t faithful, and were set free by the truth.   They seem to miss the point of what He was saying, and even go so far as to say they had never been slaves.   Hello?!!  Even if they had misunderstood what Jesus was saying –Don’t tell me they had forgotten the long enslavement of the Jews in Egypt.   However, Jesus was actually talking about how sin can enslave a person.  It is sort of like a person who tells a lie.  Then they spend their time telling more lies to try  cover the original lie they told.   Sin is like that — it compounds itself as it goes.  If we truly believe Jesus is the Messiah and He is the Lord of our Life, then we hang on His every word, and the truth of the Scripture compounds itself as the meaning of one passage builds on the foundation laid by another.   So we are clearly moving in a different direction.  We are set free — free of the chains of the world that would bind us.   We are free to view the world from a heavenly perspective.  
    B. Do you believe this and how is this relevant to your walk today?
     This certainly affects my walk!    I definitely relate to Renee’s post when she asked “How is this NOT relevant?”   I feel that same way.  However, I also identified with her previous line, “…but sometimes I forget.”    I would say, “If I can stay focused, that is.”    Same thing.   I know none of us are 100%.     I  can recall  times when the teachings of Jesus come to me in the midst of a situation, and I can actually think “This is what Jesus would have me do.”   In those times, I am set free — don’t have to think it through — have the answer immediately.   When that happens, it feels so good!     This is not all of the time, however.   

    5. Read John 8:39-47

    They claim Abraham is their father, but Jesus says they have another father. What is His supporting evidence? Find everything you can.


    Jesus says whether they claim Abraham as their Father or that God is their Father, either way they are wrong, because  they are wanting to kill Jesus — Abraham would not want to do that.  If they were children of God, they would love Jesus.   He tells them their father is the devil.  He says that God’s children listen to God’s words, and they don’t listen to Jesus because they are not God’s children.   

    1. Deanna – after reading your post here again – I couldn’t help but be reminded of how you chose to focus on the Scripture passage we had memorized together from John, chapter 1 when you were enduring a medical test that had you feeling very concerned and a bit unnerved.  To me, that sticks as a perfect example of what you are sharing above!  🙂   Another thing I remembered about that instance was how excited you were about it!  God was so good to show you the power of His Word in a fearful situation! 

  9. I just want to leave a little note here:    Dee has been encouraging me to check out with Redeemer  to see if I could send a check and purchase a gift certificate, so I could use it to purchase sermons when they are not free.   I had indicated my reluctance to use my credit card to do that.   I have received word back from Redeemer that I can, in fact, do just that.  So I am dashing off a check tonight. 
    Just in case someone else would want to go that route as well:    The instructions are to make the check out to Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and in the memo section add that it is for the “Sermon Ministry.”   Also need to include a brief note along with the check that explains that the check is for a gift certificate.   Then mail to:   Sermon Ministry,   Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 1359 Broadway, FL.4,  New York, NY 10018.      They say you will still need to create an account to use the gift certificate, but it is free and will never ask for credit card info, if you are using a gift certificate.   

    1. Good to know, Deanna.  Thanks for researching this out.  

    2. Thank you, Deanna for letting us know.

    3. Thanks, Deanna

    4. Deanna I too appreciate this info. Thanks for sharing and thanks to Dee as well for the suggestion

  10. Hello, dear blog friends. I am so tired and brain almost dead 🙁 but want to add a few thoughts here. I feel so behind here although I appreciate the exchanges and en-light-enment I am receiving. Read the passages in John and did not really grasp the title Dee gave this week’s topic until I finished. By golly, those Pharisees are arguing with the GREAT I AM! Then it dawned on me, I am so like them. I argue day and night with the great I AM in the sense that I am often beset with the “what ifs” of life. Instead of trusting the Word of God, I allow my circumstances or those I love to BLINDside me. I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD-what a great statement of Jesus to banish all the dark and futile musings of my heart. I let the seemingly overwhelming news of my sister’s Grace’s cancer recurrence or unsuccessful response to radiation CLOUD my trust in our great I AM. Remembering who Jesus is right now and seeing the picture of the child wrapped in Jesus’s arms-they are a source of joy and hope to this discouraged soul.

    1. Oh Bing,  do you mean this last round of treatment she had when she had to be away from home was unsuccessful?  Praying for both of you.

    2. Ernema The news about your sister is so hard I am sure. I pray you feel His arms wrapped tight. Praying the Lord encourage your discouraged soul. .

    3. Oh Ernema, dear sister, our Lord understands…this is SO VERY hard.

    4. Oh Bing, sad news…praying for the Light to shine bright for you (and your sister) today, for joy and hope to increase.

    5. Ernema – my heart is sorrowful for your heartache this morning.  Truly, there are seasons of life where the burdens seem impossible to bear.  So thankful our God is the God of impossible things!  I am so hoping you have gotten a chance to peruse Kara Tippett’s blog “Mundane Faithfulness”.  Oh my.  Jesus is pouring Himself out to so many through this battered, broken woman who loves Him through it all.  There is huge comfort to be found as His Spirit shares her journey through the valley of the shadow of death.  🙂

    6. Dear Bing,  My heart aches for you and for your sister!   I pray that God will lift that CLOUD you speak of, and that He will give you both a great big hug.  If I lived closer I would do it also!    

  11. 8. Describe the dialogue and actions in John 8:56-59.
    Jesus claims to have been there with Abraham in the beginning. The people do not believe him because of his young age.

  12. 4. A. According to the words of Jesus here, what does sin do to a person, and what can the truth of the gospel do?
    Sin makes a person a slave in bondage; truth is freedom. 
    B. Do you believe this and how is this relevant to your walk today?
    In years (months?) past after a difficult work day or meeting, I would “treat” myself to shopping on my way home, perhaps a stop at one of the resale shops along the way or the Walgreen’s cosmetics counter.  It wasn’t that I had any “need”, it was merely a way to “comfort” myself after that difficult day and/or meeting, or so I thought…  The ugliness of this is the materialism and idolatry…the purchasing of things that I don’t need in an effort to “make myself feel better”.  More often than not, what ends up happening is when I get home and look at an ample closet of perfectly good clothes or my cosmetic bag with a variety of stuff there is guilt and remorse; I feel regret that I gave into purchasing more of what was not needed/necessary, and truth be known, sometimes not even that great.  The lie is that buying, getting something new or different, will make me feel better, but the truth is that it doesn’t and often in the end makes me feel worse. 
    More recently after a difficult work day and/or meeting, I find myself resisting the urge to stop and instead converse with the Lord about the difficulties of the day/meeting on my 20 minute drive home, or listen to music that puts me in a different place (e.g., Krista Wells, Sara Groves), or practice mindfulness…often coming to a new perspective.  I see this shopping as a heart idol tied to comfort…truth is that the comfort I am seeking can only come from the Lord. 

    1. Nanci – reading your post this morning is like reading a morning devotional.  Beautifully written and straight to the heart application of the Scriptures.  This so reminds me of Romans 12:1&2.  One of the Bible versions words it something like not being squeezed into the mold of the world.  The world constantly encourages us to “treat” ourselves.  But you are showing us how to practically practice Romans 12:1 – sacrificing all of your desires to His!  Love, love, love your words this morning!  🙂

      1. Romans 12:2…renewal and transformation…Amen.
        Thanks for your encouragement Jackie and Wanda!

    2. Really good application, Nanci.  So relevant.  

  13. I finished Week 3 this morning. I am so amazed at how God is leading you, Dee…each and every week is so powerful, so relevant, and I am learning and gleaning things I never have before. Listening to Keller’s sermon The New Birth, I never realized the verse in John 16 where Jesus talks about a woman giving labor is talking about Jesus’s labor to give us new birth. Wow. I wonder as to my own selfishness and tendency toward self-preservation. Would I be willing to die in labor or would I want to save myself? Jesus was willing. Did anyone else wonder after listening about “praying the prayer”? Keller said that no one can give himself birth…you don’t tell a baby to go be born. He said to be careful not to try to create your own experience; the Samaritan woman and Nicodemus’ new birth experiences were different, and He speaks to each of us uniquely.
    The exercise of answering how I have looked to people to fill up the emptiness in my life brought me to tears. That was hard and humbling. In thinking about what the gospel promises and applying it to my everyday life, I have to remember that when I am empty, needy, failing, I need to remember that Jesus says “Come to Me and drink”. I must make a choice. Will it be Jesus, or food; Jesus, or shopping, Jesus, or someone else? Choosing Jesus allows the  Spirit, invites Him, to come to my rescue. Turning to idols is like building a dam that stops-up the living waters.

    1. Susan – just wrote a reply to Nanci’s post……and I then read your post and thought “ditto”!!!  What gold you have shared.  Thank you. 

    2. Susan:  I have long wondered about ‘praying the prayer’ and the nuances of how being born again it is taught.  Keller’s teaching did strike that thought in me as well.  A baby doing nothing to be born.  The labor and gift of life all coming from the mother, as does the gift of eternal life come from our Savior.  I really liked how he emphasized this.  I’ve never heard it the way he put it together: physical birth and spiritual birth.  

    3. Susan, thank you for articulating this so well…
      “I must make a choice. Will it be Jesus, or food; Jesus, or shopping, Jesus, or someone else? Choosing Jesus allows the  Spirit, invites Him, to come to my rescue. Turning to idols is like building a dam that stops-up the living waters.”
      I’m right there with you, sister.  How is Ian doing these days?

  14. 8. Describe the dialogue and actions in John 8:56-59. I do not understand v. 56, that Abraham “saw it and was glad” … was this when God made the promise to Abraham? Or does this refer to when Abraham died, went to heaven, and Jesus saw him there?
    The Jews are skeptical of Christ when He makes claims that are superhuman, and then Jesus declares Himself as “I Am” which is the name God gave Himself (is that the only name God gave Himself? Most of the other names I can think of off the top of my head are names that others gave to God…)  Then the try to stone Him but He “hid himself” … I wonder if this was a 0-0-7 move or if He supernaturally was not able to seen? I had always imagined it as ducking behind the columns or sneaking out a side door, but effecting their eyes so they couldn’t see Him for a bit seems possible, too.

    1. Jillwithaj, I think Christ is referencing the fact that Abraham had faith to see God beyond the physical world.  I also think the reference Christ makes about Himself is that as the great I AM he is always present, so He had experiences with Abraham both in the physical and spiritual realm.  Many scholars believe that the man who came to inform Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son, even in old age, was actually God the Son, as his job is to be the word or spokesperson for the Godhead.

      1. Sherryl – thank you! I appreciate the insight, very helpful. i had forgotten about the visit to Abraham – I have heard that, too.

  15. 5. What is His supporting evidence? 
    (v. 39) They don’t follow the example of Abraham; their thoughts and actions are not in line with Abraham’s.
    (v. 40) They are wanting and seeking Jesus’ death.
    (v. 41) They are doing the works of the evil one. (v. 44) They practice what is characteristic of the evil one (e.g., lust, self gratification, lie).
    (v. 42) They have no love or respect for Jesus and do not welcome His presence.
    (v. 43) They cannot hear/understand Jesus’ message; they cannot bear His truth.  (v. 45) Because they cannot bear truth, they do not believe (trust, rely, adhere to) Jesus.

    1. Nanci – we have been on-line at the same time each (?) morning this week. =) How fun to “do study” with you. Blessings today!

      1. Oh likewise, my attentive sister…:)

  16. 9. I want to go back to the ice-breaker question. Where are you struggling with idolatry and how can the truth of this chapter set you free? “… and the Truth will set you free.” So many applications of this but this week I am seeing again, the need to come to God in repentance daily (even more than daily). Someone called out what I thought was “secret sin.” I know I struggle with pride, but I thought I hid it well… sounds ridiculous now that I ‘say’ it. This lie that I have convinced myself of that I am good enough comes back again to haunt me, the lie that I have to impress people in order to gain approval in order to live life and be happy.
    So the Truth that sets me free is not only that I have approval through Christ alone but the truth in my repentance sets me free. When this individual called me on my sin I expected to be hurt and wounded and have to “process” the conversation but in all reality my heart has been full of joy ever since – another moment of “setting free.” It was so very humbling and brought me again to confession before God that it was … right. Do not think I am articulating this very well but in essence: A moment of Him working in my heart, Him decreasing ME and increasing HIM.

    1. Jill – I was so touched by this:  “I expected to be hurt and wounded…..but in all reality  my heart has been full of joy ever since.”  Reminded me of Rosaria Butterfield stating that “there is no shame in repentance” for repentance is just agreeing with God that He has been right all along!  You are exemplifying that there is no shame – rather, freedom to fly!  🙂 Amen.

  17. Asking for some prayer right now. The reality of the direction of my almost 30 year marriage is painful Perhaps because it has been an idol. I just need Jesus right now.

    1. Liz – as you know, my prayers have been and will be continuing with you in this.  🙁   He knows.  He holds your future in His hands. 

    2. Praying right now, as I just saw this, Liz.  Will write your name where I see and remember you.  So very sorry for this pain.  

    3. My heart aches for you, Liz. Praying. God is doing a miracle in your heart; praying He will do a miracle in your marriage.

    4. oh sweet Liz–Lord, I pray that You would come in , with the warmth of Your Light, cover Liz. Heal her broken heart as only You can, Lord, hold her with Your arms around her–let her feel Your love overwhelm her, amen

    5. Liz – praying now. So very painful…

    6. Ache, Liz. For you.

    7. Liz ~ I just saw this.  May you know that you are not alone in this place of pain.
      LORD, we often come to you broken.   Please help Liz.

    8. Liz, I have been married 25 years and have had one of the hardest just this past year; not the hardest, but right up there. I am praying for all of our marriages right now. Peace, sister.

    9. Oh, Liz…may the loving, comforting embrace of Jesus be a reality to you this very moment.  Marital difficulties are painful and draining…praying for you.

  18. 3.  Watch the video below, verbatim from John, and comment on anything that strikes you.
    Well, I’m often struck/stuck on beginnings.  I’ve been thinking on this all week long.  The very first thing that strikes me is my long time confusion about this very passage.  I’m sure that all of our Bibles have a little something at the beginning of the passage  – mine says this: “The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53-8:11.”  I wasn’t able to research a lot, but what little I did seemed to point to near-unanimous agreement that, indeed, this passage was added to John’s gospel a long while after John had died.  Nonetheless, John Piper, for instance, says he teaches on this passage about once every 10 years!  Many other reliable voices join in to say that there is nothing in the passage that contradicts sound doctrine – but caution that doctrine should not be extracted solely based on this passage.  But isn’t that how we should approach all of Scripture?  Every passage lifted out should be in agreement with the whole of Scripture!  Hmmm.  So I guess I think that, by stating plainly that this passage was an addition to John’s gospel, that’s a little like a sign saying “HANDLE WITH CAUTION!”  
    In that spirit, the first thing I note in this passage is where Jesus came from just prior to teaching in the temple:  the Mount of Olives…..a place drenched with significance all throughout the Scriptures….but particularly in Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Gethsemane is there, the Transfiguration happened there, Jesus departed this earth visibly from there….and so much more.  Clearly it is a place of prayer and worship to Jesus.  How sweet it is to note that Jesus was at the Mount of Olives just prior to the incident with the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery!  Just a gentle reminder again to us that, although Jesus’ heart was ALWAYS right with God, He opens the window for us to see what that path looks like…..prayer, worship…time alone with the Father. 
    What a contrast was the pure heart of Jesus with the testy, legalistic heart of the Pharisees!  How utterly brilliant and wise was Jesus’ response!  He did NOT say the woman had not sinned….but He effectively leveled the playing field with just a few words and actions.  WOW!!  The response to Jesus that we DO get to see is the response of the Pharisees.  They were “busted” – left without a leg to stand on.  We know from Scripture that they went away, not to ponder the words of Jesus, but to plot again and again to kill Him.  Their hatred for Him is growing with every single encounter.  And then of course, Jesus sends the woman away with these parting words:  “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”  This takes me right back to the words Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, that we just were looking at:  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”   Interesting thoughts on condemnation.  Every human being born is helplessly in that condition.  The Pharisees didn’t see it that way!  But Jesus certainly reminded them of that fact in this story! 

    1. Jackie,  I’m so glad to see you on the blog this morning.  (I was missing you and also hoping you were alright.)  I noted the same comment from my Bible about this story not being in the earliest manuscripts.  But I didn’t do any research as you did.   I wonder under what conditions or who decided that it was added later.  But, nevertheless it is here and it is a tremendous comfort.   Yes, John 3:17!   Thanks for quoting.
       “What a contrast was the pure heart of Jesus with the testy, legalistic heart of the Pharisees!” ”    
      The above statement of yours, so stands out.  It’s what struck me the most too.  And I found myself feeling angry with the Pharisees.  Yet, Jesus remained calm and as you said, ‘leveled the playing field with a few words.’   We gain so much from this story.  I can’t help but think of the scene from the movie/book ‘The Kite Runner’ in which an Afghani woman was stoned in an auditorium.  I can’t remember, but maybe it was for the same reason, of adultery.   It was so disturbing to visualize this practice taking place in our own time.  And how stark the contrast.  To contrast Jesus with the accusers in that scene made the depth and power of Jesus’ love and acceptance of us as sinners, all the more powerful.

  19. 6. What do they accuse Him of in John 8:48-52?
    Basically, they are calling him names.   The term “Samaritan” is a bad word in their vocabulary.  They accuse Jesus of being a Samaritan and of having a demon.    The commentary in my study Bible (CEB) says Jesus is a “Jewish man” to the Samaritans and a “Samaritan” to the Jews — yet also the savior of the world.   

    7. What sarcastic question do they have for Him in John 8:53?
    “Are you greater than our father Abraham?”    Abraham was revered more than anyone by the Jews.  If Jesus answered “Yes” that he was greater than Abraham, they would have considered it tantamount to heresy.  

    8. Describe the dialogue and actions in John 8:56-59.
    Jesus says that Abraham was overjoyed that he woud see Jesus’ day, and that he saw it and was happy. The Jewish leaders countered, saying Jesus wasn’t even 50 years old, and how could He claim that He saw Abraham who had died years ago.  Jesus tells them that He preceded Abraham, that he existed at Abraham’s time as Abraham’s God.     The response of the Jews was to pick up stones to hurl at him, but Jesus hid from them and then departed from the Temple.   

  20. Return to Ice-breaker question:  My need to justify my actions, which should excuse my behavior that is in question, is not necessary.  When I justify sin, I dim the light of Christ.  When I willingly face my sin and ask forgiveness, I am free.  When I am free, more of the light of Christ shines in the darkness of the world.
    Case in point:  I began this week sharing about my giggling episode while playing a board game.  Since the neighbor I might have offended was working, I sent an email apology.  I was careful to not justify my giggling, but to only apologize and ask for forgiveness.  When I saw the neighbor later this week, we had a good laugh over the incident.  I had not offended at all, but I am sure the relationship is stronger because I was willing to seek forgiveness with no justification.  
    Another God-directed impact:  My choir is singing Lift Your Light this Sunday and every time I sing “Lift your Light” or variations of the phrase in the song, I found myself reinforcing internally our study this week.  I won’t ever think of this song or the children’s song This Little Light Of Mine, which is embedded into the choir piece, without remembering the significant work of Christ in my life.

    1. Sherryl–this is gold “I am sure the relationship is stronger because I was willing to seek forgiveness with no justification”

  21. 2. Where are you afraid to trust Jesus with your idols?  Which of the above truths about Him could help you?  (I know I’m terribly “out of order here, but that seems to be the way I’m processing this week’s lesson!!)
    I’m sitting here in a little bit of shock to see plainly that I have once again fallen into serving my idol of control.  I’ll try to be as brief as possible here.  Last week a job abruptly opened up that is textbook written to be the perfect job for my husband.  It so happens that both of my sons work on this particular horse farm in the afternoons, riding young horses.  They alerted him to the fact that the “searching for a farm manager” process was beginning and that he would be perfect for the job….my husband has been working SO hard this winter (2 jobs, 80 hrs per week) and I truly was so hoping he would at least check the job out.  He told me the first day that he was planning to “throw his hat in the ring”…..but he changed his mind over the next couple of days.  I was LIVID.  I was SHOCKED at how angry I was too!  I managed to walk away after our conversation – and didn’t express my rage to him at all…..but I had to leave the house for awhile!!  It’s been several days now and I’ve really had to examine my heart – like dominos, once the Lord had my attention with this over the top reaction that I experienced, He gently began to point out so MANY areas in my life where I had been innocently manipulating situations.  Of course, there is no innocence in manipulation – but I had managed to convince myself that was the case!  It continues to be beyond humbling.  And strangely thrilling.  Serving the idol of control is very hard work – with no good payoff whatsoever!! 
    I keep returning this week to the thought of Jesus as the Good Shepherd…..I’m so very drawn to this place of true rest and restoration.  I love this picture in Isaiah 40:11  “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”  And of course the incomparable Psalm 23.  How I need to stay in the place of TRUST in my Shepherd.  I guess that this growing older woman wants to be like that child in Jesus’ arms in the picture! 

    1. Jackie, SO good.  Speaks to me, too:

      He gently began to point out so MANY areas in my life where I had been innocently manipulating situations.  Of course, there is no innocence in manipulation – but I had managed to convince myself that was the case!  It continues to be beyond humbling.  And strangely thrilling.  Serving the idol of control is very hard work – with no good payoff whatsoever!! 

    2. Jackie:   You are not alone.  I had an ‘over the top’ reaction to what I perceived as insensitivity and harshness in my husband this week, and I did express the rage.  Not a moment I care to remember.  My response caught me off guard too and I’m still sorting through and pinpointing the root of why that part of my heart is unyielded to God.  I think I’m making some progress.  
      Oh, I love Psalm 40:11.  You may remember the story of my dad dying and telling us he was the ‘lamb in Jesus’ arms’ when Satan tempted him to be afraid.  Yes, the ‘growing older’ woman feels as you do.  Blessings and peace to you today,  dear Jackie.  Prayers for peace as you’ve been going through so much.

    3. loved this Jackie “I guess that this growing older woman wants to be like that child in Jesus’ arms in the picture! ” and SO relate to this ‘Serving the idol of control is very hard work – with no good payoff whatsoever!! ” 🙂 Amen!

    4. Jackie,
      Thank you for this post.   I too, had a “reaction” of anger, disappointment, exasperation and frustration over a decision my husband made this week…… I too had to leave the house and let the dust settle in my heart.   I’ve had to examine my heart as well and face the control idol.          You said it so well:  “Serving the idol of control is very hard work – with no good payoff whatsoever!”
      Sometimes we just need to be held by the Shepherd, quieting us with his love (Zeph 3:17).

  22. Sermon is EXCELLENT:  I strongly encourage listening AND taking notes.  I was going to wait for Deanna’s notes 😉   Then decided to download last night to listen  on road today.  I checked last night, mostly to make sure it was working.  Listened AND took notes this morning (except for taking notes on very end).

    Metaphor of the light is so much richer than I ever suspected.  For me, hearing and taking notes helped it soak in.  The structure of the sermon itself was very helpful in absorbing the passage.  No time to edit/post notes now.

    1. Sorry, Renee, you have to give my check time to get to Redeemer before I can access a sermon that is not free.   I just mailed it today.   So you don’t want to wait for my notes!!   🙂     I need someone else to post notes so I don’t miss out completely.   Hopefully by the next time a sermon needs to be purchased, I will be in good shape.   I should have started sooner!   

        1. 😀   😀    😀

    2. Agree–sermon is really good (have I ever NOT said this of a Keller sermon?) I listened Monday but hope to re-listen–I did take notes, will try to edit & post them later

  23. I hesitate to even post these notes as they will likely only make sense to me–not my best work! But in case it encourages anyone else to get the sermon (it’s worth it):
    I am the Light-Time Keller- John 8:12-18 | 
    I am the Light of the world (v.12)—a metaphor, claim, and call
    METAPHOR: Light of the World
    People had a poor grasp of the metaphor—but we know the wonder and danger of the light. 
    Wonder of light:
    Light is a source of life. We would die without it—no plants, no fuel, no life.
    Light is a source of truth. The light gives information about our reality—allows us to see.
    Light is one of the most basic sources of joy. 
    Danger of light:
    Unmediated sunlight burns, destroys, kills. 
    Unmediated light takes away sight, truth, ability to see, blinds. 
    Unmediated light will take away joy. We see “too much” of what we look like. 
    We need light for life, truth, joy–but it can kill us, blind us, rob our joy. Jesus claims He is the Light of the world. John tells us that He said this in the treasury, a certain part of the temple, and was not killed. John knew the weight of Jesus’ claim. 
    CLAIM: Jesus stands in front of the candelabra, representing the missing glory of God, and says “I Am the Light”.  He claims to be the fulfillment—the very glory of God. 
    Jesus is the ultimate Source of eternal life. When He becomes my life, I begin to change. He is the Source of ultimate truth. He is the ultimate joy, ultimate beauty. 
    CALL: He also says He is the Mediator. We want not just to see beauty, we want to be united to it. Jesus says if you follow Me, you will have the Light. The Light of God directly would kill us not only because we are too weak for it, but we are too sinful. The Light of the World—the thing we most need, but if we get will kill us—only through Christ, can we finally have it. 
    And He says “follow”.  What does this mean? A call to live with absolute consistency and integrity—not doing things “in the dark”—hiding things from others. Jesus sees it all, and the light will come up, and all will be revealed. Live in light of this, with integrity—be the same in the dark as you are in the light.
    Live with integrity. Live attractively. Live courageously.  We are the light. Jesus is beautiful—what about me? *How I treat others, how I handle criticism, all opportunities to reveal His Light within. Light exposes. 
    How do I know if the Light is dawning in me? Light rouses. If I feel fear, anger, wonder—this is good, they are signs of life. If there is no feeling, the light isn’t illuminating. 
    How do we get Christ in our life? How does one become a Christian? 
    Spurgeon story—hears an elder preach a sermon in a church not his own. He reads Scripture and repeats it—“look to Me and be saved”. We can’t DO anything—just look at Jesus. The man points to Spurgeon and says, you will be miserable until you obey this text. Spurgeon had been struggling through moralism, mysticism, nothing worked—but this text, illuminated—look to Jesus, that’s it, look to Him and be saved. 

    1. Thank you very much,  Elizabeth!    Your notes are so appreciated!   

    2. Great notes Elizabeth! I have it downloaded and am going to listen today. Can’t wait.

  24. 8. Describe the dialogue and actions in John 8:56-59.     This portion begins with Jesus telling the Jews,  “your Father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day.  He saw it and was glad.”  This grabbed my attention.  What is Jesus’ day?  How did Abraham see it?  Obviously, Jesus was born hundreds of years later than Abraham’s lifetime.  I haven’t consulted any commentaries or looked at what others have said,  but I think He is referring to ‘the promise’.  The promised Messiah.  Jesus was a direct descendant of Abraham and when God promised Abraham a son and then showed him the stars in the heavens to display the vast magnitude of his descendants, it all pointed to the Savior.  Matthew 1 gives the geneology of Jesus traced back to Abraham.  And from the description in Matthew 1: 17, we know that Jesus arrived 42 generations after Abraham.  Yet, the promise had been given and Abraham rejoiced in ‘that day’.   The Jews again looked at Jesus only as a man.  They didn’t see His divinity.  So the absurdity of Abraham rejoicing in Jesus’ day was what they saw.  “You’ve seen Abraham?  Ya, right.  You’re not even 50 years old!”    They could only see the literal meaning of His words and not the spiritual significance.  They had also just accused Him of being demon possessed for saying that those who ‘kept His word’ would not die.   In their fixation on the literal, they concluded that since even Abraham and the prophets had died, surely everyone dies. When Jesus declares that He WAS before Abraham.  When He made the incredulous statement using the name , “I AM” : the holy, personal name of YHWH, it was too much for them.  They knew that “I AM” belonged to YHWH alone and that Moses had encountered “I AM” in the desert.  Jesus surely must be a blasphemous imposter to say this.  So they picked up stones to stone Him.  Amazing.  This chapter begins and ends with the religious leaders wanting to stone someone.   And weren’t these the same men who had just heard Jesus declare that ‘he who is without sin may cast the first stone’?   I thought that when they quietly departed after what Jesus had said in regard to the woman’s sin, that they were perhaps leaving because they knew their own sin.  I guess I don’t know if that’s true.  Seems they were a confused group who were so determined to cling only to the Law and to what ‘had always been’, that they were completely blind to ‘what was’.   Jesus slipped away.  His ‘hour’ had not come.  

  25. 9. I want to go back to the ice-breaker question. Where are you struggling with idolatry and how can the truth of this chapter set you free?
    Approval is a heart idol that is operating in me when I struggle with the feeling that I need to have some ‘outside presence’ telling me what I’m doing matters, This past year especially, I keep fighting with this feeling that I need a specific ‘discernible purpose’ for what I do every day.  Maybe, because I’m no longer in the ‘work force’ or actively parenting, something is missing.   I was only 50 when I resigned from my work as a Children’s Ministry Director.  When I’d run into people several months later, who would ask me, ‘What are you doing now?”, I think most of them fully expected that I had found another job.  I’d usually say, ‘Whatever I feel like.”  and laugh  to derail the conversation so I didn’t have to open the subject of  no longer having an identity in my work.  I didn’t look for another permanent job (very burned out) but had the opportunity for casual seasonal work and also began caring for a friend’s school age children before and after school 3 days a week.  I do feel loved and appreciated by this family. Also do some community volunteering.  So, why isn’t it enough?   I enjoy the extra time I have for some projects, reading, hobbies and I constantly hear my ‘working’ friends say they wished they could retire.  So why can’t I feel fulfilled?  I can now see that It’s a powerful approval idol that robs me of peace and contentment when I look to others to give me affirmation instead of finding my peace in Jesus alone.   And specifically, it’s seeking the approval of others I know who work at what I see as meaningful or full time jobs.  I can get pretty good at the comparison game and then feel like I should have  more to ‘show for’ my days.  This lesson and John 8 helped me see some truth.  Jesus didn’t have the approval of others.  He especially didn’t have the approval of the religious establishment.  After all, one would think that if you were an ‘aspiring spiritual Messiah’ you would want to have the endorsement of the ‘spiritual leadership’ in the community.  He had the exact opposite.  The rulers and Pharisees falsely accused him, they went around trying to trip him up, they twisted his words and fueled anger toward him.  They made him out to look like an enemy and a threat to the kingdom of God; a liar claiming things that only God could claim.  When in fact, He WAS God.   The eternal, living God, their very creator.  But, ‘He came unto HIs own and His own received Him not.”   He had to forbear their verbal abuse, their skepticism, their abhorrence of Him.  WHY then, should I think that I need to have the approval of my peers or of some ‘perceived authority’ ?   Jesus, who IS perfection, righteousness and TRUTH embodied says that I am loved by Him.   ‘If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.   I am His beloved and  approved by His Father, redeemed and clothed in His righteousness.  “Lord, forgive my shortsightedness.  I am like the Pharisees who can only see what is in front of their face and not what is deep down.  I have let  false expectations and false perceptions come before You and the TRUTH.  Exodus 20:23 says, “Do not make any gods to be alongside me.”  Cleanse my heart and renew my worship of You alone.”

    1. Wanda, this is SO good..How you pointed out that Jesus continually faced disapproval by man, and you made me think further.  He kept pointing out to the Pharisees how they didn’t know Him-they aren’t His so they are blind to who He is and are bound by their father-satan’s lies. Just pondering…This passage clearly shows He came not to condemn us for our sins but to rescue us from the power sin has over us..for sins power is to blind us to His furious love for us. 

  26. 9. I want to go back to the ice-breaker question. Where are you struggling with idolatry and how can the truth of this chapter set you free?

    My idol struggle: Psalm 18 is my Psalm for I am a pretty broken person and I am not talking just a little sin here and there, I so easily start drowning in the lies of the evil one-“God really doesn’t love you-you are a failure. You fail Him over and over again. See, you screwed up again being selfish toward your kids and husband..there is no hope for you.”  I am reading Abba’s Child and doing the blog study and He is moving. 

    My heart is really too messy and complicated for me to unwind the cords right now-only He can and He so faithfully is. . So in a nutshell, I am on a journey with Him for He is unmasking my imposter. It hurts but it is good. Just to know He is mourning and grieving with me and LONGS to heal me. He wants me to be with Him even closer still. That brings me to tears and makes me want to replace the lies with His truth.

    I am encouraged in this passage because #1. I am His and therefore can hear Him-Hallelujah! 2. He is God..Before Abraham was born I AM. Jesus knew me before I was born. Jesus wanted me before I was born and He came and died on the cross and rose from the dead so He could ravish me with His Love. In 1988 He sealed me as His and clothed me in His beauty and oh my how many seasons of being unfaithful I have had with Him-Yet He is faithful and loves me in my weakness’. He WILL finish His work in me..He has given me His Holy Spirit inside which illumines His Word so that He can draw out the scary lies and replace them with truth of Who He is and who I am in Him. It is the lies that hold me back from really experiencing His presence!

    This morning Psalm 18 is a balm and it helps to praise Him in this way:
    “I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

    1. LOVE this Rebecca–“Just to know He is mourning and grieving with me and LONGS to heal me.” and how you model speaking truth to your soul, truth that silences the lies–prayers for you~

      “He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy” psalm 18:16-17

    2. Rebecca:  Agree with Elizabeth,  what a comfort to know He mourns and grieves with us.  Longs to heal.  And he does not condemn, as you pointed out in your comment to me above.  And also, ‘I am his and therefore, I hear His voice.”  
      His love and grace, so evident in these thoughts.  How He comes near and never forsakes us.

  27. Sermon was wonderful as per usual!  Listened in bed (having major body aches/energy zap today) so didn’t take notes.  But the imagery was sooooo rich.  I especially took mental note of the references to Exodus since the things he mentioned (water from the rock, pillar of cloud by day) were part of this week’s chronological readings.  I SO love how the whole of the scripture comes to life in this kind of teaching.  Jesus, standing in front of a large, unlit candle holder, at the end of the feast, the moment of feeling that the glory was gone until the next year when it was celebrated and  boldly declaring ‘I AM the light of the world!”    How dramatic must that have been!  And oh, I love the verses from Hebrews 3:  Jesus is the EXACT representation of His GLORY.  The only One who, (unlike other religions who claim to reflect the glory of God) IS the GLORY of God.  I wasn’t familiar with the conversion story of Charles Spurgeon and found it an intriguing way that the Lord brought his searching to it’s end.  I pray that for my loved ones who have been seeking other spiritual avenues.  His application statements about Christians living in such a natural expression of the light, that they expose the darkness in their day to day jobs is convicting and encouraging.  

    1. oops.  thats’s Hebrews 1:3.  

  28. Back near the time when I first joined this blog, and when I first became acquainted with the whole concept of “idols,”   Dee asked us to make twin posters concerning our idols.   On one poster was to be the statement of what our idol is, and the other poster was supposed to state how we were replacing our idol with God.    She asked us to make the posters, photograph them, and then send the photos to her by email.    My first poster said:   My idol has been “approval by others”, worrying that I might not be accepted.  My second poster said:   I am replacing it with the assurance that I am loved and accepted by God.  
    Now, if only that was all there was to it!!    That exercise, although helpful, did not permanently cure me of my approval idol.    But I have a recurring reminder.  I have a screen-saver on my computer.   Whenever I am idle on my computer for 3 minutes, the screen-saver kicks in and begins showing all my photos in random order.   I did not get to choose the order.   However, the first photo to show up on my screen saver is the photo of those above-mentioned posters!!   Personally, I think that is a God-incidence!  
    As I have studied John 8 this week, it occurs to me that I am not that different from the Jews who were arguing with The Great I AM.   When I persist in revering my approval idol, I am not acting as though I am a child of God.   A child of God would be putting Christ first, would be basking in the love of my Beloved.  My approval idol wants to enslave me.  In fact, it frequently succeeds, causing me to say and do things to grovel for the approval of other humans.   Christ is trying to win me over.   Participating in this blog is one of the ways I am corrected and reminded.   Another way is for my screen-saver to flash a message to me.  🙂  Christ says He is the Truth — and the Truth shall set me free!

    1. Deanna I have only been on this blog for a relatively short period of time but I really feel strongly that I have seen something different in you in such a very sweet way that I know the Lord is doing a great work.  I know we do not see each other face to face but my spirit senses it in yours:) it is totally beautiful and exciting to see this in words on a blog

    2. Deanna-I agree with Liz–your transparency lets Him shine even more through you–thank you for sharing so honestly. I see His beauty in you~

  29. Thanks, Deanna.  I’m only beginning to be familiar with the teaching about heart idols too.  And I find that every time someone here shares their experiences, it helps in my understanding.  And in my own battle.  What a good screen saver reminder you have 🙂  

  30. I just wanted to thank everyone for your prayers. The last 2 days were so heavy. I knew the channel in my mind had to be changed. I know your prayers helped. I feel the heaviness lifted!!!!!! I really am not sure where my life is going here at the moment but I trust the Lord does and I have regained my peace as I have regained my focus  I am praying the Lord help me keep it on Him. The darkness is NOT going to overtake the light. Jesus is the Light of the World!
    I just wanted to share i had sent my Pastors an email asking for prayer and just wrote “This Mountain just seems so big right now” within minutes our Jackie sent me a message mentioning this song and the Scripture Psalm 46:1-3. I just had to share it with you. I felt the Lord really used her for that moment and again I thank all of you for your prayers. So much love here my heart swells:) Please listen if you have time and be Blessed back as much as you have blessed me!

    1. Oh Liz–so thankful you feel the heaviness lifted and I LOVE how the Lord used our dear full-heart Jackie to minister to you in your darkest hour–such a beautiful testimony to our “blog family”! And of course LOVE LOVE the Rich Mullins Hold Me Jesus!

    2. Liz, so thankful that the Lord’s peace and calm has enveloped you.

  31. When I was listening to the sermon, the structure stood out to me.  SO, I put the skeleton of my notes in table form (need a little structure in my life 🙂  ).

     I soaked in the visuals this week, especially the pic of Jesus holding the child.  Putting the sermon in a table structure may help it soak in further, too.  Will post it in FB because methinks I’d create a gibberish mess if I tried to paste it here.  I guess I’ll wait to be more dependent on Deanna until another week, although Elizabeth did help meet my dependency needs with her notes 😉

  32. As I was reading my bible passages for the day today, I was distracted by the acacia wood that was used to make items in the tabernacle, especially the ark of the covenant. I’m not a big biologist, or botanist (I’m an earth scientist), but I do have an appreciation for unique situations in the wild. I remembered that acacia has a mutualistic relationship with some insects; notably ants. I had also heard that without the ants the tree would actually die. Not all species of the plant have this relationship however. So, I had to go looking for more information, of course. I wondered about this mutualistic relationship with respect to God. Was there some reason he chose that particular wood to create the Ark of the covenant? 
    I was right, ants do have a relationship with the tree; in exchange for its sap, the ants protect the tree from other trees and their root systems, and other predators such as wild animals who might want to eat the tree. The tree is found in many places around the world mostly in Australia, where they call it the wattle tree (Kerryn may have some input here). However it’s also found in eastern Africa. Some of my sources said that the reason the items of the tabernacle were made with this type of wood was because it was readily available during that time period. It was a dense hard wood, making it good for insects to live in and good for building things. The people of that time would bring it for offering also, so it must have been prolific. 
    So, I guess there’s no hidden meaning behind it in regards to God. Anyone else have thoughts about this topic? That’s your science lesson for today!

    Here’s a link to a picture of one in Israel.


    1. Laura ~  Your post caught my attention because I’m in a women’s bible study right now that is studying the tabernacle.   Just this week, we discussed the acacia wood and its significance.  I learned that acacia wood was known for its incorruptibility.  It resisted decay.  Some scholars think that this unique wood represented the humanity of Christ.   (Isaiah 53:2, He is called “a root out of dry ground.”   John 15:1 calls Him “the true vine.”)   Scholars say that, like the acacia wood, even though He was “cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8), His body never decayed (Ps. `6:10).    Another significant similarity between acacia wood and our Lord, was that it bore heavy, sharp thorns.  Since the acacia wood was the very wood used to construct the alter, its parallels to Jesus are stunning.

      1. Laura, that’s really cool!!! I was thinking more on those lines but couldn’t find anything to back up my thoughts. I did read about the thorns, as well as it’s healing properties (used in medicines). Too interesting……Jesus heals us, right?

    2. Really interesting information and significance thereof of the acacia wood/tree, Laura and Laura…thanks for sharing.

    1. Dee,
      Do you know the source of the painting of Jesus holding the child?   Thank you.

      1. Nila, Took some searching (through google images and blogs).  I found it:  Security by David Bowman.  Here is the link:deseretbook.com/Security-8-x-10-David-Bowman/i/5012401.  Not usually where I shop so now I am curious about the history of it.

    1. Hi Dee! I will pray. I suspect there’s many reasons why people don’t hang in there during the Lenten study, and other studies for that matter. It could be technology issues, time, or plain old commitment. Your studies are awesome and deep. I do think if people aren’t used to the depth of this type of study they can get overwhelmed. I know I do sometimes and I’ve been with you for a very long time! I love how you break it up with movie clips, videos, and songs. It helps the distracted (me) keep focused! Thank you for your effort and guidance!

    2. praying Dee. So we are starting the week before Lent begins (begins on 18th, right?–or at least I always just thought it started with Ash Wednesday, guess I’m off 😉 I will be praying for His preparing of hearts and for what He wants to do here in this special season–exciting! And Laura, you make great points–ditto all you said!

        1. Dee–so sorry–I started to say something when I first read the post Sunday–but I don’t think anyone else would care or notice–we just love your teaching and the more preparation for Easter, the better 🙂

    3. Praying those God is leading here, Dee!  I think a lot of people are used to “Bible Studies” in which people don’t study the Bible… They just show up, quickly read a passage in a group, and provide opinions. I’ve experienced that anyway.  You’ve got me spoiled 🙂  But I’m sure it could be a hard transition for someone who is looking for something quick.

    4. Praying today Dee.

  33. Saturday: 10. What is your take-a-way and why?
    hmmm… the pic of Jesus holding the child prepared my heart (though now I’m a little distracted.  When looking for info on the painting and artist, I watched/listened to a catchy rap video called Mormon Jesus.  It was pretty funny.)

    I’ve been thinking about the sermon for a couple of days & listened a few times.  I “get” (though don’t fully comprehend) the magnitude of the metaphor and the claim.  This week, the Light has shown me the magnitude of my shame.  It’s easy for me to get stuck there. The magnitude of Jesus’ mediation is greater than the magnitude of my shame. The magnitude of the call is SO FREEING.Earlier this week, the study reminded me of the chorus:


    The painting of Jesus holding the child also makes me think of the song “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.”  I associate that song with life-threatening illness, dying, and death.  But this week’s study has helped me to see that I AM SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS EVERY SINGLE DAY AND NIGHT — He is a constant who transcends life’s circumstances.

  34. This morning I surfed into this site:  http://www.simplyjesusgathering.com/ppv_event_archives/simply-jesus-2013/
    I listend to several of the previews of the sessions, including ones by Yancey and NT Wright.  Yancey said Jesus is complicated, and someone else said “he isn’t complicated; he’s simple.”   Wright agreed with both. Then he said,

    There’s a false simplicity where you just go to some subject and pick the one little bit that happens to resonate with you.  (You say, ‘It’s basically simple; it’s just about this.’) True simplicity is when you’ve taken on board all that complexity as much as you can and lived with it and soaked yourself in it and then you’ve come back and you say this is really where it’s at.  And we’re all striving after that simplicity.
    How has our western culture conditioned the way we look at Jesus?…

    I realized that during the years on this blog, I have been taking on board so much complexity (some of it is complex because of who I am and my experiences) and living with it and soaking myself in it.  For the last year to two years, I have been coming back and seeing “this is where it’s really at.”  Western culture and Western church culture has affected and does impact how I look at Jesus.  Yet, now it so so clear that my view of Jesus has changed, and as I see Him, I am transformed.  He clears out the clutter of my life.

    Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
    Hail the Incarnate Deity
    Pleased as man, with man to dwell
    Jesus, our Emmanuel

    Dee, thank you for your long-term faithfulness to and consistency on this blog.  For some of us, it takes awhile for everything to soak in.  As I have been posting less frequently, I have been soaking more:) But my posts haven’t gotten shorter!!

  35. My take-away: Well, I have not had a chance to post this week. I am pleased that I have been on to read as often as I have. The posts this week have been so honest and have meant a lot to me. Early in the week I had cataract surgery and related so much to the Light of the World. I was blessed to have the Prologue memorized and it was the way I remained peaceful through a challenging situation. As I lay under the dark drape and saw the bright lights shining through I knew I was in His hands and would have a good outcome.
    Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. This is relevant for me as I trust Him in every circumstance of my life.
    As I meditated on the questions what does sin do to a person and what can the truth of the gospel do?
    Sin separates one from God. It allows temptations to draw one further and further away. The truth of the gospel frees one from the bondage of sin.
    My struggle with idolatry continues to plague me though I am experiencing freedom. My freedom comes by focusing on Jesus and knowing that my affirmation comes from my Savior. The approval of others becomes less important as I know that only God’s acceptance is unconditional. He loves me as I am. How freeing to know Him and see myself in his embrace. The picture of Jesus holding the child is a special image. Thanks to each of you for the sharing you have done.

    1. Shirley–so good to read your post–I hope your surgery went well. I love how you tied that in to our study here, the Light of the World–so powerful! “Sin separates one from God. It allows temptations to draw one further and further away. The truth of the gospel frees one from the bondage of sin.”

  36. First of all, thank you for your prayers for me and for my sister. AS of this time she has opted not pursue chemo anymore. She wants to spend her remaining earthly life in relatively “good” health to be able to enjoy her children. She said the first chemo incapacitated her to where she wasn’t able to spend time with her kids. She also thinks she couldn’t handle another round of chemo and if the cancer has spread anyway, the chemo won’t help-it will just be a Band-Aid. For whatever time she has left, she’d rather have it spent with her kids and her husband, Roel. We are still praying for a miracle and have not given up asking God for that.
    My take-away: 1. The picture of the girl in Jesus’ arms. I looked at the caption of the print on the website that Renee mentioned here and found that the author actually used a father and daughter to pose for the portrait. That was sweet! Oh, God how you long for us to stay and feel safe in your ever capable arms. Thank you for your loving embrace the last few weeks after we heard of the discouraging news of the recurrence and spread of my sister’s cancer. There is no better place to be.  
    2. The approval idol was hounding me this week and I keep on reminding myself I am loved by God no matter what I do and don’t do. I have an audience of One. And this One loves me no matter how I perform in the stage of life. Loved even before I have repented (Thanks, Elizabeth!). May my love be more like Christ’.
    3. A play on Deanna’s word “God-incidence”. Yes, our circumstances are God incidence and not “coin-cidence. I thought oh yeah. The latter can be like flipping a coin-it is a heads or tails or good luck. But with God, it is always God-incidence! Thanks ,Deanna! 🙂 I hope this is not too corny or dumb. 🙂
    4. Dee, thank you for leading us. I have committed myself to staying on even if I can just comment sporadically. God is in this cyberspace fellowship.

    1. “God is in this cyberspace fellowship.”

  37. Enema praying for that miracle as well. .