WHEN LARRY CRABB HAD CANCER,
IT WOULD BE UNDERSTANDABLE FOR HIM TO THINK
CANCER WAS HIS BIGGEST PROBLEM
BUT IT WASN’T.
WE MAY THINK OUR GREATEST NEED IN AMERICA
IS TO GET A PRESIDENT OF CHARACTER AND INTEGRITY,
BUT THE LORD MAY KNOW WE NEED REVIVAL MORE
AND THAT SUFFERING MAY LEAD TO REVIVAL.
ANY KIND OF LOSS HURTS — BUT IT IS STILL A 2ND THING.
THE FIRST THING IS ALWAYS OUR RELATIONSHIP,
OUR PASSION, OUR INTIMACY WITH CHRIST,
BOTH AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS THE BODY OF CHRIST.
EVERYTHING ELSE WILL PASS AWAY.
OFTEN, IF WE GET THE 1ST THING RIGHT, WE’LL GET 2ND THINGS THROWN IN, OR AT LEAST, BE ABLE TO GET THROUGH THE LOSS OF THEM.
When Steve died, that seemed my biggest problem. But my loss pressed me into Christ like nothing else, and He did take me through the river of grief. I didn’t get Steve back, but I will, one day. Just last week I looked at a bush in my yard that I had deemed dead and planned to pull out.
I was shocked to walk by and see it covered with buds.
I burst into tears, because it reminded me:
Steve isn’t dead at all.
My intimacy with Christ is helping me get through the Shadowlands, despite the great losses that occur down here. And it is also true, that often, when you get 1st things right, you get 2nd things thrown in. When I repented of my control and manipulation and allowed God to be in control, I experienced more of Him — and then, He restored my relationships with my administrative assistants and adult children. He gave me the 2nd thing back!
So, how do we concentrate on the 1st thing? I want to share with you a new song (at least to me!) that is based on this Augustine quote but also gives some ideas on how to press into Christ, how to get 1st things right.
1.What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. How does any of this speak to your heart right now?
“You dwell in the songs that we are singing, filling up the spaces between our frailty and all that You are…” This is a truth confirmed by the psalms. As I’ve been dealing with 2nd things (my restlessness between books and my sadness over the political situation) I’m concentrating on the 1st thing. I’m singing and I’m praying. What got me through the river of grief and into the arms of God was singing the hymns rich with theology. So I’ve memorized this week “Immortal, Invisible,” for the great truths press me into Him and help me experience Him. I’m going to suggest you choose a hymn or song that is meaningful to you and begin to memorize it. And this is important: when you sing to Him, alone or corporately, don’t engage in relational sin toward God, but truly think about the Words and praise Him with all your mind, heart, and soul. And for praying, especially for our political situation, I’ve found this helpful from Breakpoint: Six_Ways_to_Pray
3. When you are ready — share what song or hymn you have chosen.
4. Read Psalm 37:1-13
A. What is the negative command repeated in v. 1, 7, and 8 and what reasons are given in each case?
B. We have learned that you cannot just stop negative behavior, you must replace it with positive behavior.
What positive behavior do you see listed in verses 3, 4, 5, and 7?
C. TRY THESE THREE STEPS TO EXPERIENCE DIALOGUE WITH THE LORD:
- REFLECT: As you are still before the Lord, do any of these passages quicken you? If so, that’s the Holy Spirit. So ponder what it tells you about God or yourself in relation to HIm
- RESPOND: Pray this back to Him, for the dialogue has begun.
- REST: Rest in the presence of God.
D. How does verse 4 confirm 1st and 2nd things?
5. Read Philippians 4:4-8 for it gives keys for intimacy with Christ.
A. What commands are we given in verses 4 and 5 and why, according to this passage, should we be able
to do this?
B. What negative and positive command is given in 6?
C. What promise is given in 7?
D. What command is given in 8?
I used to think verse 8 meant to think of wildflowers and butterflies instead of war and suffering, but Keller says Paul is talking about doctrine. We are to think about the promises, and the sovereignty, the goodness, and the faithfulness of God so that we can indeed put our trust in Him. This is why I think memorizing songs of rich doctrine is so helpful. Are you working on a song? Or do you have another plan? If so, list it above.
6. How might you apply this lesson to your biggest problem?
Thursday-Friday: Uncovering Satisfaction by Tim Keller
7. This was filmed at Oxford and is followed by a testimony and Q and A — all of which I think are interesting — but I particularly want you to hear Keller’s 30 minute talk and share your notes and comments here.
8. What is your take-a-way and why?