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THE BATTLE AGAINST THE DARKNESS

Sometimes I do not know if trouble is in my life because I live in a fallen world, because I have sinned, or because I am experiencing spiritual warfare. But two weeks ago, when I was giving a retreat, it became clear, Satan did not want me giving the message I had planned for Saturday night. It was on overcoming the lies of Satan during suffering. Friday night and Saturday morning, everything went smoothly. But Saturday afternoon I wrenched my back somehow and could hardly stand up, but I was going to set my face like flint and power through. Then, just before I was to speak, my complicated audio-visuals refused to work. Even the mike failed. The women at the retreat were mature and I told them I thought it was spiritual warfare since the message was on overcoming Satan. I asked them to pray while I worked on the audio-visuals. For ten minutes they prayed fervently and the room was filled with their voices. I too was crying out to God. But despite all that, the audio-visuals would not work. My mike, however, began working. So I told them, “We will do this without audio-visuals and God will be with us.” I returned to the stage.

Just a few times in my life have I experienced the kind of anointing of His Spirit that I experienced for the next forty-five minutes. I felt it, the women felt it, and we knew Satan had only been given enough rope to hang himself. I didn’t even notice my back (and it felt completely better by the next morning.) When I sat down I marveled at what God has done, for I am always so afraid that the audio-visuals will not work. It is my biggest fear at each speaking event. I felt the Lord was reminding me of something I should know, but had forgotten:

Dee,

not by your health,

not by your audio-visuals,

but by my Spirit.

We all sat in silence for a few moments, for God had met us. I was also told that so many women in their congregation were in the midst of intense suffering. One beautiful woman who was seated in the front row had a particularly tragic story. Two years ago she had been hiking with her husband and her daughter when a sniper shot all three from a bridge. Only she survived. I thought, Satan is so evil. He did not want her to be comforted. He preys on the wounded, seeing them as easy targets, just like the lion goes after the wounded wildbeest trailing the herd.

We live in a world under the spell of Satan. He is the prince of this world for now, and he is taking many captive to do his will. But though he may win some battles, He will never win the war. That has already been won. Satan bruised Christ’s heel, but Christ CRUSHED Satan’s head. The True light overcame the darkness of Satan at the cross.

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Indeed, this is the picture in the song of Isaiah 57. The Israelites themselves have fallen under the spell of Satan. God is taking the righteous to Himself so that they could be spared from that evil time. That is how bad it was!

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 The Israelites have turned to pagan gods, sacrificing their children to Molech, committing sexual immorality to please these “gods” in hopes those “gods” will in turn make their land fertile. God is angry, and hides his face. Yet for those who are of a contrite spirit, He will come. Even though God sees their evil ways, He plans to heal them. That is how good He is. He laid down HIs life for us when we were yet sinners.

IhaveseenhiswaysOf course it isn’t just the Israelites that ran to other gods, we do too. We battle every day against the enemy, against the darkness of our own hearts. But He promises that though He “dwells in the high and holy place, he also is with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15) We must continually search our own hearts and then turn to God in repentance.

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SUNDAY:

1. What stands out to you and why?

2. God put the singers at the front of His army. If you have a song that goes with this week, share it!

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY

Prepare your heart and fight the enemy with this powerful song:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6smGew7dGto

3. Read Isaiah 57 in one sitting to get the big scope of the power of evil and the power of our overcoming God. Summarize what you see and share anything that particularly quickens you.

4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.

5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?

6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?

I think it is so easy to point our fingers at the Israelites. A young woman who did Idol Lies shared the following:

Dawn Salyer – Oh my gosh, I’m a whore.

     7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?

     8. How does God try to open our eyes to the futility of our idols in Isaiah 57:13?

9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 57:14-19? (Go slowly and keep these in your heart.)

10. What is the final warning of this song in Isaiah 57:20-21?

AShipInStormySeasBibleTHURSDAY-FRIDAY SERMON

You can choose one or both by two wonderful preachers: Tim Keller or John Piper. The sermons are both on this Song of Isaiah 57, but they are very different. Keller’s is not free, but some of you have already purchased it. Piper’s is free.

Here is the link to get Keller’s message: http://www.gospelinlife.com/to-revive-the-spirit-of-the-lowly-6057

Here is Piper’s Message:

John Piper – The Lofty One Whose Name Is Holy

11. Share your notes or comments.

SATURDAY:

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

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.

165 comments

    1. praying Dee! for safe travels, for the women’s hearts, and for God’s blessings to overwhelm!

      1. Yes! for God’s blessings to overwhelm! Amen & Amen!!

    2. Praying, Dee.

    3. Praying a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit for your retreat Dee. BY HIS SPIRIT

    4. Prayers for God’s abundant blessings…?

    5. Praying, Dee!

    6. Praying for you daily, Dee.

  1. 7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?
    A very recent struggle; in fact just yesterday and today. I encouraged my students to help with a fundraiser; actually I voluntold them  J ; if I ask for volunteers, it will be the same good kids. So I divided the task equally and had 6 of 30 students completely blow me off! Not even 1 single item and their goal was 5. Doable. I seethed inside with the attitude of the same rotten kids. Oopps…did I just say that word? I had to seek my heart and been confronted with my idol of control and comfort. Control so I can be proud of my management capabilities and comfort because I do not want to have these negative feelings ruling my head and my day.
    Moreover, it humbles me to realize how much venom I am capable of in my thoughts when my plans don’t go as I envision them to be. Indeed what Solzhenitsyn said is true: The battle between good and evil runs through every human heart.
     
    God is helping me through His Word about love in I Cor 13, guidance from Prov 3 and peace from Philippians 4:6-8. I also felt He is always available to listen to my rants and help me rein in my emotions and remind me I am loved by Him no matter what. The fact of my union with Christ propels me to seek Him so I can have victory over temptations and sins in my life. He is able-more than able!

    1. “The fact of my union with Christ propels me to seek Him”:)

  2. 3. Read Isaiah 57 in one sitting to get the big scope of the power of evil and the power of our overcoming God. Summarize what you see and share anything that particularly quickens you.
    The contrast of God’s grace for his own and a promise of peace but verse 21 “there is no peace says my God for the wicked”. 
    Also the contrast that “the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity. whose name is Holy:  who dwells in the high and holy place is also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.  Our amazing almighty God lovingly condescends from his high and holy place to be with me if I have a repentant spirit and heart. And He revives me. I am never without hope. God will always revive (lift up) the hurting who call on HIm. 
    4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself. 
    It would seem God is sparing them from the evil around them. 
     

  3. 5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
    God seems to be saying “Listen here, children of sin and evil who do you think you are when you are really children of sin and Satan. He calls them offspring of liars. Satan is the father of lies. 
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultry. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
    The Israelites who were God’s chosen bride had unfaithfully gone after idols literally thinking they were better and more fulfilling than God.  In otherwords they loved someone else more than God.  When I believe that something is better than God, more fulfilling than God and I love something else more than God I become like the adulterer who thinks another person is better, more fulfilling and loves them more than their spouse. 
    The testimony of the young woman who did idol Lies is a powerful reminder of my own propensity to love something else more than God and fail to give Him first place in my commitment to Him. 
     

  4. What stood out? Well my heart broke to hear that woman’s story. I cannot even imagine. I pray the Lord will use such a tragic thing in her life for His Glory in a powerful way. 
    We have a ladies retreat this weekend and the forecast of MORE large amounts of snow  which is supposed to begin to get heavy just around the time we are starting  Friday and ending on Sat just about the time we were supposed to stop.  Actually not sure what the decision will be as far as holding it. I am organizing worship and I am praying no tech issues. I can so relate Dee.
     

  5. I cannot help but read Isaiah 57 and not think of my past and the life I lives in my days of rebellion. My promiscuous lifestyle as I was running after idols to fill what only the Lord could fill. Praise God He got me to a place of a contrite heart for my wicked ways.
    I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,19 Creating the [p]praise of the lips.Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,”Says the Lord, “and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:18-19
    He continues to remove my obstacles!!!!!
    I AM SO THANKFUL FOR HIS HEALING POWER WHEN WE TURN TO HIM. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR HIS AMAZING GRACE
    May I always grant to others what He has given me. May I always share this good news!!!!!

    1. So thankful for his healing power when we turn to him.
      AMEN, yes I am praising him, and too, hope to grant to others what He has given me!

  6. 9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 57:14-19? (Go slowly and keep these in your heart.) 
     
    The Israelites will return to God by way of a road built for them.
     
    He lives with all of us, those with high and low spirits.
     
    He lifts the low spirited up; to get them on their feet again.
     
    He won’t be angry forever. He won’t judge us without an end. He doesn’t want us to lose heart. He doesn’t want us to give up.
     
    He will give us a second chance to do better.
     
    He will heal, lead, and comfort. He brings peace to us.
     
     
    10. What is the final warning of this song in Isaiah 57:20-21?
     
    there is NO peace for the wicked.

  7. 4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
     
    The passage says that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil; they enter into peace and find rest.
     
    5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
     
    These are the questions: “Whom are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars?” I think the unspoken answer to the first two is that God’s people are mocking Him. Their rebellion is against Him.
     
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
     
    God says of His people that they “burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree”, and “You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill….forsaking Me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked on their nakedness.” So there is a lot of imagery here about being in bed with other lovers and lusting after them….a really powerful image in the one about climbing into your bed and opening it wide.

  8.  
     
    9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 57:14-19? (Go slowly and keep these in your heart.)

    Our pastor returns frequently to several  stumbling block passages in Ezekiel when discussing idolatry here is one of them: 14:7
    “For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the Lord will answer him myself.”

    Verse 14 in our text says
    “14 And the word of One shall go forth, Cast up, cast up, prepare the way! Take up the stumbling block out of the way [of the spiritual return] of My people.”

    The word of our ONE shall go forth, preparing our way to be devoted to him alone.
    Can we even imagine how wonderful it will be to no longer have the constant battle of our flesh and our idols? To be pure in our devotion?

    God dwells in a high Holy place, but also with sinners who hate their sin, who run to him with dirty feet, trusting him to make them clean. 
    It brings to mind the picture of the wedding from Reeves sermon-she brings her shame and reproach he just loves her bringing and sharing with her all his infinite worth, reviving her spirit, wiping away tears, giving a new name, clothing her in righteouness.

    ‘I will not contend forever’ feels different in the light of his having removed our stumbling blocks, he knows we are dust, that we need rescue. He will rescue us, he has a purpose in creating us that will not be frustrated. We are made by him and for him.

    He sees our sin, he will lead us and heal us in spite of our ways. He will comfort those who mourn, his vengeance against evil will prevail.
     
    Isaiah 
    The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
        because the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor;
        he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim liberty to the captives,
        and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
        (and the day of vengeance of our God;
        to comfort all who mourn;
     
    66:10“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
        all you who love her;
    rejoice with her in joy,
        all you who mourn over her
     
    I love verse 19 in the Amplified Bible:
    “Peace, peace, to him who is far off [both Jew and Gentile] and to him who is near! says the Lord; I create the fruit of his lips, and I will heal him [make his lips blossom anew with speech in thankful praise]”
     
    The Lord will bestow peace. I would like clarification on the far and near, I thought of my kids who feel far from the Lord to me.
    I love that He will create the fruit of our lips :)
    He will heal us- making our lips blossom anew with speech in thankful praise…I love this!

  9. 4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself. He’s sparing them of more evil and allowing them to enter into peace.
    5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?  Who are they speaking against
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10? 
    They seemed to seek out nearly anything but God for help and even when things continued to go downhill for them, they didn’t give up hope in their false “gods” but “found renewed strength” to just keep right on pursuing the idols!  (and how easily we can be exactly this way, even with His Spirit living in us!)

  10. 7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?
    For many years food was my comfort.  I ran quickly to it to try to satisfy the emotional hunger I had from a low self esteem. I won’t go into the reasons behind why I felt unloved but a few years ago God showed me that I doubted his love for me. And that I was sinning by doubting Him. That was a major catharsis for me personally. It was through His Word and prayer that God clarified these things for me. Idol Lies and the study of the Song of Solomon led me to clarify some these issues. And it is by the Word and prayer that I am reminded and strengthened to live apart from lies that would undermine my relationship to my Lord.
     

  11. 7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?  I have definitely shared on this blog before (I think 2 or 3 times) about my struggle with relationship idolatry but recently what I’m noticing is that I definitely have used comfort foods as an idol as well.  I’ve been on a no refined sugar, no refined flour, no meat, no dairy diet for right at 4 weeks now and wow…this is HARD.  I knew I had a love of sugar but I actually miss cheese even more!  For the first 3 weeks I literally felt like “if I have to eat this way to maybe reverse this cancer, it’s not worth it, I think I’d rather die!”  I’m so ashamed to admit that I felt that way.  I was literally extremely depressed about not being about to eat what I want.  Finally, this past week has been a little better!  But those kind of feelings (depressing over not being about to eat what I want) were a red flag to me that really that was a huge idol.  Now, I have no clue if this diet will truly work to reverse the cancer, but my current oncologist said that if he were in my situation, he’d be doing exactly the same thing.  

    1. “this is HARD”
      Oh dear, Mary, what an understatement…:) 
      Leave no stone unturned; praying that this diet will make a difference.

    1. will be praying, Dee! 

    2. Dee:   Praying for your safety, your guidance, and especially for the technology to work smoothly.

  12. 8. How does God try to open our eyes to the futility of our idols in Isaiah 57:13?
    He tells the people to go to their bogus idols when they are in truly in need and see what help they receive…NONE.  He tells them that He is the only provision, shelter, and help in storms of life.
    My song…”In the Eye of the Storm”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZB0ReTpA6Gg
     
    9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 57:14-19?
    (From the Amplified Bible)
    v. 14, “remove the stumbling block out of the way [of the spiritual return] of My people”
    v. 15, The Lord dwells not only “on the high and holy place, but also with the contrite and humble in spirit”
    v. 15, He will “revise the spirit of the humble and .. revive the heart of the contrite”
    v. 16, He “will not contend forever, nor …always be angry” 
    v. 18, The Lord “will heal” those who have turned away and backslid.
    v. 18, He will “lead …and restore comfort”
    v. 19, The Lord creates “the praise of … lips”
    v. 19, The Lord “will heal … [making … lips blossom anew with thankful praise].” 
     
    10. What is the final warning of this song in Isaiah 57:20-21?
    There will be no peace for the wicked; the wicked will be “tossed” to and fro.

    1. Love this song Nanci! 

    2. Nanci–I love this song too! Never heard it before, but it’s really good!

  13. A great sermon by Keller (as usual) I will have to post in two pieces because of length (as usual) :-)   
     
    Sermon notes on Dr. Timothy Keller’s message: To Revive the Spirit of the Lowly
    Isaiah 57:1-2, 13-21
     
    The salvation we get from Jesus is by no means an exemption from the same brokenness that everyone else here is experiencing.   Rather the salvation is wonderful because it gives you the resources to face it in a way you could never face it without it. 
     
     
     
    WHAT WE FACE: 
     
    Vs. 1 says the righteous (that is, people who are right with God) perish.  The 3rd clause says the devout are taken away.   The word perish is a word that means sudden death, tragic death, early death.    So here is someone who is filled wit God’s love and gives to others God’s love, and yet they are cut off like this.  
     
    In John 11, Martha the sister of Lazarus sent Jesus a message, because Lazarus, who was a good friend of Jesus,  was dying. But John 11:5 says, “Even though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed exactly where He was until he died. Sometimes we cry out “O Lord, help us” and God comes through, and other times people that God loves get sick and die. 
     
    Isaiah says “No one ponders.”   The word for ponder means to think about something – meditate on it – until you grasp it and understand it.   
     
    Jesus, in John 9, is asked about a man born blind.  “Rabbi, was this man born blind because of his own sin or because of his parents’ sin.   Jesus says “Neither, because God has a purpose for his blindness through which He is going to manifest His glory.  
     
    Abandon your linear thinking.  Linear thinking is “If I am good, things should go good; if I am bad, things should go bad.”  But that is not the way things work.  Maybe the only way for a person to be equipped and fitted for greatness and usefulness in life is through some kind of suffering and disaster.   Every approach to suffering but the Bible’s is flat and one dimensional by comparison.  
     
    Vs. 1 – God says when a good person is cut off, suddenly dies, you don’t realize that there is some kind of evil that you don’t know about that I am sparing him or her From your point of view, things are untimely and terrible, but only I can see the whole thing.  
     
    Here’s how you can ponder:   You need to look down, look in, and look forward. 
     
     
    Look down
     
    Vs. 15  – “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit to revive he spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.  Contrite means to be penitent today, but the Hebrew word means “to be crushed.”  One of the qualifications to have God just infusing your life is usually trouble.  The second characteristic is not just contrite or crushed, but lowly.   The Hebrew word means a person who does not promote himself.    And this is strange, because these two things do not go together.   When you are crushed, that doesn’t make you unselfish; frankly trouble tends to make you more selfish, more self-centered, more thinking about yourself. 
     
    In the psychotherapy world, there are a couple of little aphorisms that go like this:”Hurt people hurt people.”  Another is “Abused people abuse.” which is statistically true.   People who abuse physically usually were abused physically.  
     
    The suffering will either make you more selfish or less.  It won’t leave you alone.   If you are going through a tough season right now, beware!   Here is what could happen, however, instead of it making you harder and more selfish.  When you lose something big:   your job or your career, someone you loved, or your health, your first stage is always anger.   You are angry because you are helpless and because you feel out-of-control.    And you are right on the verge of going down this road which makes you more selfish, but there is a fork in the road and another way to go.   What if you suddenly said “Wait a minute – I thought I was in control, but I never really was in control of my life.   The suffering didn’t put me out of control, the suffering has revealed that I was never in control.  
     
    Without God at the very center, you are in trouble.   You can’t do it.   If you start to realize that, and instead of getting angry you realize you were living in an illusion, you start to turn towards God   A friend of mine once said “You don’t realize that Jesus is all we need until Jesus is all you have.”  Until these other things that seem so important get stripped away, and if, instead of it just angrying you and turning you cynical, if instead you turn toward Jesus, you find you are shocked that He is enough.   Because life is cyclical and a lot of the things you have lost start to come back, you will find they are not nearly so important to you as they were, and they don’t control you as much as they did.  
     
    When Jesus/God is at the very center of your life instead of on the periphery, then as John Newton says, “The best times of life are leaveable and the times of life are bearable.: When you are crushed, instead of just wailing, say I’m being humbled.   If you humble yourself like that, if you look down, that the first thing that will take you through the suffering, out to the other side, a better person instead of a worse person.  
     

  14. KELLER SERMON NOTES CONTINUED

    Look In:
     
    Vs. 13 “When you cry out for help, let your idols save you.”  A lot of you in this room say “I don’t have any gods, as a matter of fact, I’m not even sure I believe in God.”  The Bible says everybody is living for something.   Whatever it is – it is your god.   The way to understand your heart is not when the sun is shining – it is in the storm!   Because only when suffering comes that you realize what is the true God and what arre the false gods.  
     
    One example – Injury.      Joni Eareckson had an accident when she was about 18 – a diving accident, broke her neck, and ever since she has been paralyzed from the neck down.   She’s in a wheelchair.  Quadriplegic.  What was she living for before that.   She tells in some of her books.  She was very athletic.  Loved to ride horses and do other things.She lived for athletics – she lived for guys – and for the possibility of a career.  If you are living for these things, none of them can come into the wheelchair with you.    But if you live for God – just believe in God,   If you live to please him, if you live to enjoy His Love,   if you live to know Him better and better, and know his ways better and better, you can do that in a wheelchair. 
     
    Second example – Surgery.     Keller says in 2002, he had surgery for cancer.   When they wheel you back – do you know how lonely that is    All your family has been with you, saying “We are with you!”   But when they take you into surgery they all leave.   They don’t come with me.  I go in there alone.   Well…there’s doctors in there, but they are the problem.   They are going to cut me open.     Only the true God can go with you.   Any other source of love, strength, and meaning abandon you at the surgical door. 
     
    Third example – Grief.     Keller tells of listening to a sermon by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  It was recorded on tape in the 1950s.  It was on Jeremiah 2.  “Where are your gods, O Israel, that you have made – let them come and save you.”   One of the things he said was this:   False gods can’t follow you into the suffering, and they cannot help you in grief, when someone you love dearly has died.    When you are looking at him or her in the coffin and your heart is breaking, can your career help you?   No!    Worse – what if the person in the coffin is the person who was the main source of love and meaning in your life?  
     
    Fourth example – Failure.   It is one thing when people say “Oh, I believe in God!”   But what really matters is your moral excellence, because you know you are a really good person; and that’s how you look at yourself in the mirror every day.   Or because you are a good parent, or because of your professional achievements.  
     
    Your career can’t die on the cross for your sins.   If you fail in your careet and that’s the main thing you’ve been looking for.  False gods cannot forgive you for your sins, they can just punish you for your sins.    God is the only God you can’t lose.   You will lose your loved ones, you will lose your job/career.   You will lose your looks.   You will lose everything.     When you are stripped away of everything, so Jesus is all you have, and you begin to find He is enough, then even when the other stuff comes back, they are not idols anymore.  
     
    Look Ahead:  
     
    Vs. 1 & 2 – The righteous perish and no one ponders it in his heart.   Devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.   God says no matter what is happening in your life – look ahead.  
     
    Sudden, tragic, untimely death – if you are in a right relationship with me and something terrible happens, it is always because I am trying to spare you from something worse.   Even if I let you die in some kind of tragedy, it is because there is something out there that you would have experienced that would have been worse.  And only I can see it. 
     
    He says further in verse 2:   and besides that, if you are right by me, I have you by your hand, and you have me by the hand, then even death when it comes upon you will only bring you rest.  From the New Testament perspective, we know even more than Isaiah – it is rest and then eventually resurrection.  
     
    In Mark 5, Jesus is brought into the presence of a dead little girl.  He sits down, takes her by the hand, and He says “Talitha cum.”Basically he is saying, “Honey, it is time to get up”   And then he pulled her.  Jesus Christ is facing the most implacable, inexorable foe, opponent, power, enemy that the human race has – death!   Jesus says to the whole world, “If I have you by the hand, even death is like a nice night’s sleep.   
     
    How do we know God will take us by the hand, despite the fact that we are going to mess up a lot?   In vss. 16 & 17, He says, “I will not be angry forever.  I have seen man’s ways, and I will heal him.”  Because Jesus Christ was crushed and was abandoned, now when you are crushed, God will stay with you. 
     
    From the time Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the religious leaders sought to kill him.  Jesus knew the only way to bring Lazarus out of the tomb was to put himself in.   It’s not just for Lazarus, it is for us.   God says “I will heal you;  I won’t crush you when you are crushed.”   If you know what He did for you on the cross, then even when you are hurt, you will become not a hurt person who hurts people, but you will become a hurt person who learns to be a healer.  
     

    1. Deanna–I will say it every week. Your faithful note taking is a ministry of service to us–thank you!!

  15. Mary E.   i hope you have the opportunity to listen to Keller’s sermon this week.   As I listened,  I kept thinking of you in several portions  of the sermon.   It would be better to listen to Keller than to just read my notes, but I hope you at least do that.   I kept thinking that if I were in your situation, this sermon would be very comforting. I certainly hope that is the case!    <3     

    1. Thank you, Deana!  I will make it a point to try to do that.  (and check out your notes!)  

    2. just read your nots and wow, it certainly resonates with me in a big way and is comforting.  I heard him allude to this idea (when God allows something that seems bad to happen to you -even death- it’s because He is sparing you from something worse) but all the other points here I had not considered.  Makes me want to listen even more now!

    3. Deanna, thank you again for your detailed notes!

  16. Prayers for your travels, talk, and the technicals of course! Satan get behind us all.

  17.      8. How does God try to open our eyes to the futility of our idols in Isaiah 57:13? 
    He speaks to the fact that when you have a need or crisis our idols are powerless and weak. They are empty shells easily blown away. In light of that it is sad that I give idols any weight of influence over my life.  
    9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 57:14-19? (Go slowly and keep these in your heart.) 
    Verse 14 Building up.
    A way prepared for me. 
    Obstacles removed from my path.
    Verse 15
    God dwells with me.  (Consider who He is! The awesome One above all others high and lifted up, who is eternal, whose name is Holy again who dwells in the high and holy place.)
    He will revive me whem I am down and broken.  
    Verse 16 & 17
    He removes his anger and condemnation that would crush my spirit but discipline and correction come from his hand for my good even when when my heart is bent on it’s own way. 
    Verse 18 & 19
    He promises healing, leading my life, restoration of comfort, a voice to praise Him.  He gives peace. 
    I see this as salvation that comes to us through what Jesus did for me on the Cross. In being contrite (repentant) over my sin and giving up my idols I am saved. I am built up, God’s way is prepared for me and obstacles are removed from my way. And I have peace with my God.
    I serve a God full of grace and mercy!!
    10. What is the final warning of this song in Isaiah 57:20-21?
    The life of the wicked and unrepentant heart is full of striving and trouble stirred up by their own  ways and they are with out peace that comes only from God through Jesus Christ. 

    1. Bev–this is so good: “our idols are powerless and weak. They are empty shells easily blown away”

  18. 7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?
     
    I see how much of my idolatry also stems from pride. In the past, when I made a mistake, I wanted to cover it over, fearing losing the approval of others, fearing embarrassment, fearing getting into trouble. I have a new job as a home care coordinator at the hospital. I am almost to the end of my orientation and there is still a lot to learn! A couple of weeks ago, I had a small assignment by myself, but with backup, of course. I got a patient all set-up for home health care. I reported to the nurse who is orienting me, and her face fell a little, and she said, concerning the start date of care, “That’s out of the 48 hour window….if they can’t start her within that window, you’ll either need to notify the doctor or find another agency.” I had forgotton and the agency I had lined up could start in 72 hours. So, I had to call that agency back and cancel, explaining that I made a mistake. I had to find a new agency, and then I went back up and explained to the patient that I was still learning and that I had needed to change the agency that would be seeing her. In this new job, I want to do things right and not be ashamed to make a mistake, and to admit it, and correct it. I want to rest in His approval and not worry about what others think of me.

  19. 8. How does God try to open our eyes to the futility of our idols in Isaiah 57:13?
     
    God tells us to go ahead and try to run to our idols for help; let them save you! He know they can’t, but He lets us find out for ourselves. He know that they might give us a temporary feeling of relief, but even that will be snatched away. He says, why not make Me your refuge instead?
     
    9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 57:14-19? (Go slowly and keep these in your heart).
     
    God says that He lives way far and above me, in a high and holy place, but He is willing to dwell with me when I am contrite and lowly in spirit.
    If I am honest with Him about my sins and failures, and confess also my pride, then He will revive my spirit and my heart. This tells me that I should be willing to allow Him to bruise me to bring me to repentance, because He will not leave me crushed, but wants to revive me.
    God says that He will not accuse (man) forever, nor always be angry. He knows that if He did, we couldn’t bear it.
    God says that He has seen man’s ways. He sees me through and through and He knows everything about me. Yet, He says He will heal, guide, restore, and comfort. Instead of mourning, He will create praise on our lips.
    God extends His hand to us in peace. Amazing.
     
    10. What is the final warning of this song in Isaiah 57:20-21?
     
    The wicked described here are never at rest or at peace. I am thinking that they are those who refuse God’s gracious offer described in the above verses. They refuse God’s offer of healing, forgiveness, and peace with Him. After reading the entire chapter, I feel that I also fall into the category of the wicked, or I did fall into that category, as it says in Romans that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But He gave His Son Jesus so that I could be at peace with God through having my sins forgiven because of Jesus. Now I have peace with God and He does not see me as wicked anymore. I am amazed at His offer: “I have seen his (Susan’s) ways, but I will heal him (her).” It is no wonder then that people stay in a state of turmoil when they refuse to come to God.

    1. Susan–this is so good–He ha seen our ways, but He heals us. Amen!

  20. What is your take-away and why?
    I take comfort in knowing that God gives peace to everyone including me through His son, Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can remove any obstacles I face, acquit my sins and give me a heart transplant. When I lose something big or am suffering, I can go one of two ways:

    I can be angry or
    I can realize I was never in control. This is when I need to turn toward Jesus because He alone is enough. When I am suffering in some way, I must tell myself that I am being humbled, and I must look to Jesus when I cry out for help because my idols won’t save me. I must live to please God and know His ways more and more because He is the only one there whenever I need Him. Only the true God can save me from my sins and help me get to the other side of my suffering with a change of heart.

    Instead of facing my suffering with anger, I know there is another choice, Jesus. I choose Jesus.

    1. Laurie, yes, Jesus is our choice. Here is a song that continues to minister to me. “Let it be Jesus” by Christy Nockels.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2h9Hm9JZho
       

      1. Thank you for sharing that link. I think I want this song to be my anthem.

    2. Laurie–such good truths to speak to your soul!

  21. Deanna, thanks for your notes. You are so good at it!
    Listened to Piper and my personal take away is the word” far”. Oh how He loves you and me! Unworthy am I, Lord but thank you to Jesus for imputing in me the worthiness to be called a daughter of the King.

  22. 12. What is your take-a-way and why?
    Isaiah 57 has taken me to a continued surety of the depth of the love of God for His people and that includes me. Yesterday was a very stressful day for me but I can feel the power of Christ in me infusing through the dark places of doubt, weariness and a what could have been a downward spiral to gloom. Praise be to Him for His indescribable gift of Jesus who is in me.
    I am about a third through Wilbourne’s book and my cold heart is thawing brought about by the warmth of God’s truth. Marvelous, matchless Jesus Christ living in me. 
    Though I know the struggle with idols will continue in my life, I have victory in Christ and never alone. He will provide what I need.

    1. Bing–so sorry for your hard day yesterday, but thanking Him for His rescue to you–allowing you to feel His presence, His power through your weakness! So thankful He provides all we need. 

    1. Lord, please speak through Dee, as Your faithful vessel. Bring just the words You desire these women to hear. Pierce their hearts to hear Your truth. Please bind the enemy from attacking the mike or any other means. Thank You for this retreat and these women who desire to grow their faith. Thank You for Dee’s faithfulness. In Your Name we pray~

  23. Amen to that prayer Lizzy! Thank u Deanna for your extensive notes. I admit that I got way behind again this week. I was getting over jetlag & went back to work, but I’m missing my Bible study. I need to get back into my early morning time with the Lord. Reading these recent posts is so inspiring & challenging. Thank you all for your faithfulness to the Lord & eachother!  :)

  24. Hi Dee. My name is Deirdre Blackburn. Your opening words jumped out at me because  as a devout woman of God I battle with Satan every single day. My husband died on January 4th 2018. I was evicted from my home less than four months later , The IRS  wants me to pay back almost $13,000 dollars; the list goes on etc. I’ve had my good and bad moments with the ongoing calamities, but through it all I know that God loves me. I know that God is Sovereign. I know that my life is in His Hands; and that absolutely nothing happens to me outside of His Will that is both Righteous and Perfect I know that I am blessed . I remember Job. I remember Jesus up on the Cross, and am poignantly aware that nothing I have endured can begin to compare to what our Lord and Savior endured. I continue to preach and encourage others. I continue to use my job as an insurance agent as my ministry. To comfort the many lost souls who are downtrodden and in need of a word. I continue to be homeless, but all the more humble. I remind myself daily to have gratitude with the right attitude. At the risk of sounding repetitious, how often I remember Job who said in Job 14 vs 14 “ Shall a man die and live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait until my change comes.” And also his sublime heart wrenching  heartfelt words in Job 13 vs 15 “Though He slay me, I will yet trust in Him; but I will maintain my own ways before Him.” Again some days are better than others. I just hold on to His Hand and stand on His Word that I know to be infallible and without error. I thank you for your words, your work, your devotion to The Lord and the women you seek to help in your ministry. I have a book of prayers that I want to get into the hands of people period.  In today’s critically flawed world people need and are looking for. Comfort and hope. Thank you again for your anointing voice that mirrors the image of what God would have each of us to be. Sincerely, Deirdre Blackburn

  25. Hi Dee. Deirdre Blackburn here again. Just wanted to say as an afterthought to my previous comment, I actually stumbled upon your sight while researching Isaiah 57 on my own. In all that I said to you earlier in that million Word comment what I wanted to really say is this, what really keeps me going amidst all the chaos and calamity that Satan continues to throw my way, what shores me up most and gives me bouancy is not just the fact that He actually went to Calvary, but the awe inspiring fact that He rose on the third day; because DEATH could not hold Him down.! Yes, He is the Risen king. He is seated in Magesty! He has won THE Victory! Hallelujah He did it all for you and me!. It is mind boggling. Even amidst my worst financial nightmare. I am grateful. I am humbled. I am alive and well. My children are alive and well. Even in all of my poverty I am rich in Christ Jesus. Thank you Lord. Thank you sister Dee! Hallelujah ‘ Amen! I love you, Lord.