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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

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165 comments

  1. 1. What stands out to you and why?  The passage of Isaiah 57:1-2 about the Godly passing away young and it’s because God is protecting them.  That brought tears to my eyes, thinking of my friend, Rick, and my younger brother (both already gone) and grappling with my own terminal diagnosis.  Not too long ago you had us listen to a Keller message and the message was not about this, but in his opening he talked about God being our protector and said something to this effect, “So if something that seems bad is happening to you (even death) you have to believe it is because God is protecting you from something worse, because He is a protector, that’s who He is.”  That spoke to me then, but I never thought of this Isaiah passage, which confirms it!  
    2. God put the singers at the front of His army. If you have a song that goes with this week, share it!  Well…I hope I don’t steel what Diane would use, cause she is the one who shared this with me in an email a while back, then I looked up the history behind it.  When Rick was near death (with metastatic breast cancer, same diagnosis I have) Diane emailed me an old hymn, re-worked by Audrey Assad, Abide With Me.  I looked up the history of it…the man who wrote it was dying of TB and died just a few days later.  That made it take on an even richer meaning:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84YASWe3_2Q  THANK YOU, DAINE!  

    1. 1. What stands out to you and why?
       
      Two things stand out to me:
      Dee’s battle against Satan at the retreat. Satan hates for us to tell others who he really is. I am so glad that God moved in a mighty way in response to prayers! Thank you, Dee, for showing us how to battle the enemy of our souls!
      Secondly, “We battle every day against the enemy, against the darkness of our own hearts.” The last few days I have been battling a heaviness, a temptation that leaves me discouraged. Why do certain temptations come back again and again? I am so weak. I love the Solzhenitsyn quote: “The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” Lord, rescue us!

    2. You’re more than welcome to share this old hymn, mary e. The history of Abide With Me is amazing as well as the comforting words of the song itself!

    3. Mary E, I never knew the story behind this song.  It sure made listening to it a different experience!  Thank you for sharing.

  2. Oh, and DEE!!! So, so glad the Lord showed Himself mighty on your behalf!  This even goes with Reeves message from last week.  He mentions that someone who loves Jesus does not say, “look at me, look at me” (to the church) but rather points the bride of Christ, back to her groom and your example is perfect for that, you rallied the entire Body there at the retreat to implore the Groom on your behalf and His Holy Spirit came through in a big way, and GOD(the Trinity) was glorified as a result!  So the next song Audrey also has done:  IT is well with my soul (though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for me soul!!)

  3. 1. What stands out to you and why?
    This post has come as a huge comfort to me. Thank you Jesus for coming like the Spring rain here..again. 
     
    This stood out first, satan preys on the wounded, seeing them as easy targets, just like the lion goes after the wounded wildbeest trailing the herd.. to take our eyes off Him. I think my husband and I are the wounded wildebeests trailing the herd in this season. YET: 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.  
     
    This is the song. It describes how He is and has been my refuge in the midst of trials..So expresses what I cannot! satan is causing havoc but Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth and He has me and my trials. Audrey Assad song: https://youtu.be/Li2hddmy63U?list=PLESPEsJxNjZ7999zUhXaASkYQb3zlYmtU

    1. “What tho the darkness gather round, songs in the night he giveth”. Thank God that he gives songs in the night! Rebecca, my heart goes out to you! You and your husband are now among the “walking wounded” as I have heard suffering Christians described. The picture of the lion on the prowl for wounded or weakened wildebeests is a poignant one for me, ever since I have seen wildebeests for myself in their natural habitat on the plains of Kenya! How Satan loves to pick off the trailing ones who are limping and separated from the herd! So glad we are never alone and God is our protector. My prayers go with you, my friend.

  4. I had another thought..  I was thinking how in Dee’s story-how God meets us in spiritual warfare in all three of these areas sometimes..not merely coming to our rescue to solve  the problem to make everything easy and definitely not to feed our idols. He didn’t ‘fix’ the sound system problem but He could have. satan messed with the sound system and pounced on Dee who was already struggling with her back and the fear of things not working right…but God turned satan’s attempt around for His Glory. He brought His body together clinging to Him in warfare, and the women sensed Him in a way they might not have before, and He strengthened Dee by saying, Dee not by your health, not by your audio-visuals, but by my Spirit. HOW MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL COULD THIS HAVE TURNED OUT TO BE? God took what satan did and watered Dee’s garden along with the women there. 

  5. While it’s hard to read about the attacks of the enemy, on your retreat, on the woman sitting in the front row..yet, He is greater, and He shows Himself so–and that is so praiseworthy and comforting. 
     
    I love Isaiah 57, that His name, His very identity, is Holy “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy”. He is perfect and just and always victorious, always “for” us. 
     
    Before coming here, I was reading this morning in Luke 7:12-14, of the widow whose only son had died, and “when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her” and says to the dead man “Young man, I say to you, arise.” He revives the dead. And to come here and be reminded of Isaiah 57:15, He dwells “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”, I am struck by His compassion towards us, His mercy and power. Oh if we truly believe it, nothing can extinguish our hope. 

  6. What stands out to you and why?
    I was struck by the passage from Isaiah 57:1-2. I have always wondered why good people pass away early. Isaiah 57:1-2 helped me understand this better. I didn’t think about how God is protecting them from evil until I read these verses today. I think of a friend of mine whose child died at age 11. I was confused and angry at God at the time. How could He take away a child? While I haven’t been angry at God for many, many years, it wasn’t until today that I could finally see His hand at work. The child was overweight and was the ridicule of all the children at her school. Now, I know that God was protecting her from the hurt that she was enduring and probably would have endured the rest of her life. 
    God put the singers at the front of His army. If you have a song that goes with this week, share it! 
    The song that I want to share is “Even If” by MercyMe. I think it speaks so well to the trouble we face on a daily basis. God is our only hope when Satan is trying to get us off course.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6fA35Ved-Y
     
     

    1. Great song, Laurie.  Thanks for sharing it.  It came to my mind later as I was working on the lesson, that even if He doesn’t remove the suffering and pain, He alone is worth it.

    2. Laurie,   that song was new to me, and I loved it!    Thank you for sharing that one!

  7. 1. What stands out to you and why?
     
    oooooh satan is evil!
     
    2. God put the singers at the front of His army. If you have a song that goes with this week, share it!
    https://youtu.be/FY4DCG-nFBI
     
     
     

    1. Love that song, Laura!  We sang it at my younger brother’s funeral! 

      1. ?

    2. Laura,  I love your choice!   I have loved it for a long time.    Long years ago,  I saw the movie, “A Man Called Peter,”  about Peter Marshall’s life.   “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was the theme song playing in the background throughout the movie.     The movie and the hymn inspired me greatly — one of those mountain-top experiences!

      1. I feel like Dee had a clip from that movie one time? It reminds me of the church I grew up in. I do love the “classics.”

  8. Just in case anyone else would like it, here’s the transcript of Piper’s sermon Dee gave: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-lofty-one-whose-name-is-holy

  9. I posted a long response here and then when I read it again realized she didn’t want me to post it — so it was up for about ten minutes and I’m sorry — but I have removed it. Pray for this sister whose troubles have led her to the brink of suicide.

    1. I will pray.

    2. Oh Lord, hold our sister in Your loving arms, allow her to know and sense Your unfailing love and support. Squash the lies of Satan that are screaming in her head. Give our sister Your peace that defies our understanding. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

    3. B. VanNoord–praying with Laura & Nancy for your friend tofeel His love for her and find hope

    4. B VanNoord Praying the Prince of Peace comes in
      https://youtu.be/kc0DKzPdv44

  10. Well, this song is not directly about fighting against the darkness, and yet, to me, I think it is because it reminds us of Christ’s Ultimate Victory over Death and our place as His Bride, and well, we sang it this morning and it’s a favorite so I’m sharing! Sandra McCracken (William Gadsby hymn) The Sands of Time https://youtu.be/uh4iC4Jxdu8 
    The words are SO rich:
    The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks; The summer morn I’ve sighed for, The fair sweet morn awakes. Dark, dark had been the midnight, But dayspring is at hand, and glory, glory dwelleth In Emmanuel’s land.
    The King there in his beauty Without a veil is seen; It were a well-spent journey Though sev’n deaths lay between. The Lamb with his fair army Doth on Mount Zion stand, And glory, glory dwelleth In Emmanuel’s land.
    O Christ, he is the fountain, the deep sweet well of love; The streams on earth I’ve tasted More deep I’ll drink above. There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand, And glory, glory dwelleth In Emmanuel’s land.
    The bride eyes not her garment, But her dear Bridegroom’s face; I will not gaze at glory, But on my King of grace, Not at the crown he giveth, But on his pierced hand; The Lamb is all the glory Of Emmanuel’s land.
    O I am my Beloved’s, And my Beloved is mine! He brings a poor vile sinner Into his house of wine.I stand upon his merit, I know no other stand, Not e’en where glory dwelleth, In Emmanuel’s land, In Emmanuel’s land, In Emmanuel’s land.
     

    1. Oh my, what beautiful words to this song, Lizzy. I especially like the verse about the bride having eyes for no one and nothing but “her dear Bridegroom’s face”. May all else fade but His dear face!

    2. I’ve always loved that old, old hymn, Lizzie, especially as a middle-aged single woman who has never known earthly love.  I long to see my Bridegroom, my Beloved, and it does seem that many deaths lie in between that meeting. 

  11. Here’s one of my songs for this lesson. There are so many good songs but sometimes we are just “worn”.
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulKcYItKIA

    1. oh Diane–LOVE this. praying for you now dear sister, with your discouragement, and feeling “worn”, love to you~

    2. Diane, thank you so much for this song.  It really spoke to me.  “I know that you can give me rest…let me see redemption win…I want to know the sun can rise…”  Yes!  This, coupled with the Mercy Me “Even If” is where I am at.

    3. That is beautiful, Diane!  Adding my prayers for you with Lizzy’s!

    4. Diane,
      Thank you for this beautiful song here tonight.  What a mysterious thing this fellowship of suffering is.

    5. Diane Praying a refreshing of the Holy Spirit to blow in your life. Life can certainly wear us down!

    6. Oh Diane! I am so moved this morning by this song! Thank you for posting it. I may have heard it once before, but not too much; the lyrics speak to me. It’s exactly how I am feeling these days ?. “…giving up the fight…” will pray for us both.

  12. 1.  What stood out?  Is 57:1 reminds me of the rapture, God taking His righteous ones to Himself to spare them from that evil time.  If you are pre-trib, at least.  I know in context the verse is speaking about the death of saints.  Ps 116:15 says the death of His saints is precious to God.   There are other verses as well, talking about the same concept.
    have really soaked in all the songs people have shared.  It has made the whole day very worshipful.

  13. 3.  Overall reading of the text.  What I got first is that in all the trouble and sorrow of life, God is separate from it; He is Other.  Yet He chooses in vs 15 to live “with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit”.
    The bookends of vs 2 & 21- there is rest/peace for the righteous, but no rest for the wicked.  We quote that last in our culture as a joke, an excuse for our endless busyness, but God has in mind a different kind of rest, an eternal one.

  14. Powerful story Dee!  I am going to share it with my students tomorrow to remind them again that “there is no neutral ground in the universe….every split second, every square inch is claimed by Christ and counter claimed by Satan.”  Thanks be to God, that Christ “finished” it on the cross and the victory is won.
     
     

  15. Dee, as I was reading the study today I was reminded of a message I heard at church this morning of how we ask amiss.  We always ask God for things to make us healthy, or more comfortable, or happy, etc, but when we ask for bread He doesn’t give us a stone.   That is, He doesn’t always give us what we ask for, but instead He gives us His Holy Spirit to draw us closer to Him.  It just blessed my heart to know that what we really need is not audio visuals that work, good jobs, healthy bodies – ultimately what really need is more of Him!  And that is just what He gives us as we go through deprivations and disapppointments in this vale of tears.  Oh, I long to have more of Him, and less of what I perceive as needed in my life.  This life is so short, and then eternity – I need to practice enjoying and craving the presence of Christ now!  Thank you so much for pointing us to Christ. 

    1. Miriam I had the blessing of popping in here tonight and what you wrote made me think of what my sister sent me today by Paul Tripp
      http://us11.forward-to-friend.com/forward/show?u=509ecea52119cbd6842d93ff8&id=3b5d6d8e74

  16. Hi Dee & sisters…I just got back from my 3 week trip to Aussie! 🙂  It was a rich & wonderful time with my family there. Trying to get over jetlag & am hoping to get back into this blog study. Dee, thank u for sharing that incredible story of victory over Satan. I so quickly forget that he is alive & active in the world. Praise God for how He delivered you. Yes Satan hates us exalting the name of Jesus. May the Lord give us all grace & boldness & passion to keep shining for Him in the darkness!

  17. 1. What stands out to you and why?

    The way the Lord showed himself strong, directly through weakness, conquering in spite of fear. That moved me

    The woman in the front row, I don’t have words, but my heart beats with hers. That she was in the front row speaks to me too.
     
     
    “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”
    And that we need to walk in repentance.

    Dee you commented on a post last week regarding fear of the Lord and perfect love casting out fear. I want you to know that I saw it, I am cogitating, but my thoughts are muddy. I bought a book by Jerry Bridges some time ago “The Joy of Fearing God” I think it is time to read it 🙂

  18. The song, and all your comments, tears in abundance this morning. I am thankful for this place, for the heart redirect

  19. 3. Isaiah 57…summarize.
    The Lord explains that death is freedom from future strife; those who die early in life are spared earthly troubles, death is a blessing. He states that people have fallen away to sin, but He differentiates between those who are unrepenting and wicked and those who humble themselves and are repentant. Those who are unrepenting are doomed…their mindset casts them into darkness. For those who are humbly repentant, He will forgive and provide for them.

  20. 4.  God takes the righteous to Himself to spare them from evil.  That is a comfort when someone godly dies young, but my mind says, what about those who were not taken and still see/experience unjust evil in their lives?  Probably just my sinfulness rearing its ugly head, but it does come to me.
     
    5.  vs3-4 the first phrase, But you – come here…even while God chastens the wicked, He holds out His hand, asking them to come to Him.  And even when I am sinning and chasing my idols, He holds out His hand to me, offering me something much better – Himself!

  21. 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 between the contrite and the wicked and how God will show mercy to the contrite but will let the wicked’s own evil ways devour him. God will not contend with the contrite’s chasing after idols forever nor will he always be angry for he will do something v.17 and will then restore him and comfort him and his mourners. v 18-19. But in verse 20-21 for the wicked there is no restoration or peace. 
     
    4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
    To keep them from calamity-the evil in the world. 

  22. Dee, this song “Clear the Stage” is the one that our dear Jackie emailed to me when she decided to not participate in blog discussion and facebook a few months ago.  This song speaks to me of motive and in particular of my idol of approval.  
     
    This idol has long been a part of my fabric.  I wanted my parent’s approval and always tried to stay out of trouble.  I wanted my teacher’s approval and strived for perfection (high school valedictorian, summa cum laude college).   I even want approval here on the blog :/    Lord, have mercy.
     
    So, as I have had to admit and confess failure along the way, as I  have not been approved by significant people in my life, I have realized that this idol of approval can kill the heart.   
     
    And I often remind myself that there is One who is the perfect and  true lover of my soul.

    1. Nila I too have that struggle. Praise God He is working. I am decreasing so He can increase. The self does not die easy!!!! What seems impossible to us all things are possible with Him!!!
      Clearing the Stage and may we only have an audience of ONE

  23. 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.
    In times of trouble the wicked, and even God’s people, turn again and again to their sin and idols. God lets this go for a time, but not forever. He will rescue those that are his. He offers refuge for those who will turn to him.
    What stood out to me was even if he gives you up to your sin for a time, it will not be forever or you might faint away.
    4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
    To get them out of the evil of this world and to his eternal peace.
    5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
    When you are sinning (turning to your idols) who do you think you’re mocking?
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
    It talks of burning with lust, getting into bed with your idols, looking upon them with lust, offering all that you have to them.

  24. I might be getting picky here and I don’t mean to offend, but I always see danger when we speak of what would have happened if someone had lived.
    There is no if with God. He knew and ordained exactly how long everyone would live even before he laid the foundations of the earth.
    That’s not to say that we can’t look at what that person was spared from in terms of what is happening in this world, but to say that “this might have happened to them” or “that might of been where they ended up” always strikes me as speaking untruth because there never was a second ending to their story.
    Again I don’t mean to sound harsh and I hope it didn’t come off that way.

    1. And if you have any insight as to how I may be looking at this wrong, please don’t hesitate to share.

    2. Dawn, I don’t think you’re being picky, you are wrestling…“but to say that this might have happened to them or that might of been where they ended up always strikes me as speaking untruth because there never was a second ending to their story.” I remember that you lost your niece at a young age, and also a nephew? I wrestled with this, too, when my nephew died of an overdose at the age of 21. I wonder, was God sparing him from the awfulness of living with addiction? A family we know is going through that with their daughter, now in her late twenties….being arrested, jail time, rehab, overdoses. Then again, might not my nephew have been delivered from his addiction? These are hard questions. I try not to presume to know the mind of God. It could also be that we can’t pull this verse out of Scripture and then apply it in this way. We need to keep it in the context of the whole.

  25. 4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
    The Lord was sparing them from evil and disaster.
     
    5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
    The Lord is asking the wicked who they are making light of. 
     
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
    v. 5, “Who inflame yourselves [with lust in pagan rites] among the oaks (terebinth trees), under every green and leafy tree,”
    v. 7, ““Upon a high and lofty mountain you have [openly and shamelessly] made your [idolatrous and adulterous] bed;”
    v. 8, “Indeed, far removed from Me, you have uncovered yourself, and have gone up and made your bed wide.  And you have made a [new] agreement for yourself with the adulterers, you have loved their bed, you have looked [with passion] on their manhood.”
     
    The above texts refer to lust and adultery in in the context of idolatry.

  26. 7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?
    Oh Nila, how well I can relate to your speaking of your approval idol. 
     
    I struggle with feeling “good enough.”  For as long as I can remember, I vied for my parents’ affirming attention; I would be the “good” and “compliant” daughter to manipulate being “fed” affirming words.  In school, I so wanted to be “pretty” and included in the popular group; despite some successes in school, more times than not I still was left feeling “less than.” This has been a struggle for as long as I can remember.  How easy it is at times for me to be lured to take the evil one’s baits of comparison, self loathing, and discontent. 
    The Lord has allowed me a greater awareness of the lies; when I recognize comparison, discontent, etc., many times I am able to speak truth to my soul.  Additionally, He has given me insight into my “true” motivations.    
     

  27. Just a note:    Deanna, I saw your note last week, that you didn’t get notes taken on Reeves.  For once, I did!  I am not QUITE finished listening, as I got interrupted before I could get it all done…..but IF I can finish it and type those notes, I will post them on THIS week or at least let people know they’re there.   I have benefitted so many times from your notes.  I’m struggling to even get this week’s lesson started as suddenly, there are too many deadlines in my life.  
    But maybe I can contribute by finishing and posting those notes from last week.  I personally, copy/paste/print and keep them in my Bible study binders…..Of which I have three now, since I began this study 3 years ago 🙂  

  28. 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 wicked is VERY wicked. I was squirming reading it using The Message. I feel this wickedness around me often. Unfortunately too close to home ? 
     
    I think the last line is what I’m taking away from this passage. In the message it says there “…is no peace…for the wicked.” I sometimes feel like I have no peace in my life. I guess I am wicked. It is hard to be peaceful when chaos is all around you, when others live the wicked world and not in the world of light. It’s depressing at times. God is far away and this world is too close.
     
    The other verse is where God says He will put new life into those who are disheartened. The Message says those with crushed spirits. That is me right now, but I don’t feel a new life in me at all. He is far.

    1. Dear Laura, you write, “I sometimes feel like I have no peace in my life. I guess I am wicked.” Remember that because you are a child of God, clothed in His righteousness, God doesn’t see you as wicked. The wicked are those who are god-less; living a life minus God. Unfortunately, the wicked often affect us by their actions and that steals our peace of mind. It is hard to be peaceful when chaos is all around you. I am praying that you will experience God’s tender care, as He is close to the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit. I know it can be hard to feel it….speak truth to your soul, Laura….He has put a new life in you already and may He revive your spirit today! Praying for you!

      1. I guess I am feeling pulled into the mire of darkness because I am so close to people who don’t believe as I do, or who might believe but are lying to themselves that they can believe but not lose anything (idols) and still have the benefits of heaven and such. I feel dirty ?. I’m trying to be the one God wants me to be and it’s SO difficult. It’s bringing me down. i know I’m having a “pity party;” I hate Satan! I will try to do what you say and speak truth to myself. Thank you for caring enough to remind me of this, of God’s truth.

    2. Oh, dear Laura, my heart goes out to you. I am just seeing this now so I don’t know if you will see this or not! You are walking such a difficult road just now. Remember that God is with us whether we feel him or not and whether we feel loved or not! Don’t trust your feeling – especially when you are tired and discouraged! I am including an excerpt of a prayer posted by Scotty Smith as my prayer for you right now!
       
      “Please pour fresh and copious amounts of your love into the hearts of friends who are tired and weary, spent and used up, vulnerable and easy targets for the lies of the enemy. By your Holy Spirit, give them a supernatural sense of your hand and heart at work. Instead of feeling abandoned in life, may they sense their adoption in Christ. Turn their cries of “Why me Lord?” into “Abba, Father.”
      … you’re promised us something much better than relief; you’ve promised to be with us and for us. May it be, Lord, may it be. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus mercy-full and grace-full name.”
       

      1. Agreeing with this prayer for you Laura

      2. Praying this beautiful prayer for Laura this morning!

  29. 1.  What stands out to you and why?
    Your testimony of what happened at the retreat 2 weeks ago. Satan sure prowls like a roaring lion ready to pounce on us. Thankful God provided and protected.
     
    2.  God put the singers at the front of His army. If you have a song that goes with this week, share it!
    John Michael Talbot and singers  “The battle belongs to the Lord”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7uRX4srnsM
     
    When the enemy presses in hard do not fear
     
    The battle belongs to the Lord…

    1. Bing–great song for this week! It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it–powerful reminder of truth!

  30. 4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
     
    God is protecting those who have been faithful to Him.

  31. 1. What stands out to you and why?
     
    The passage from Isaiah 57:1-2 brings me comfort.   I want to disagree with it just a little — I think sometimes people care and question why.   I know I have done that, and have heard others question why someone died early.  Of course,  we probably have no right to say someone died early, as there is no promise that we will leave this earth in chronological order.   However, it is comforting to picture God retrieving us mercifully before things get worse.   

  32. 2. God put the singers at the front of His army. If you have a song that goes with this week, share it!
     
    Here is a hymn sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford.    I was a little disappointed that he skipped the fourth verse:
    In the midst of persecution, stand by me                                                                                                                                                                                               In the midst of persecution, stand by me                                                                                                                                                                                               When my foes in war array undertake to stop my way                                                                                                                                                                           Thou who saved Paul and Silas, stand by me
    I apologize for such a lengthy link — I was afraid to shorten it for fear it might not work.  🙂
    http://search.aol.com/aol/video?q=stand+by+me+hymn+youtube&s_it=video-ans&sfVid=true&videoId=C8391CFDA24428E6F472C8391CFDA24428E6F472&v_t=client97_searchbox-ac

  33. 1. What stands out to you and why?
     
    Wow Dee – that was quite a story about your retreat! I thought as I read, the greatest preachers, like Spurgeon, didn’t have audio visuals, and we still have their sermons today! You had an important, powerful message to give, and it was by His Spirit that you gave it! What struck me was the woman there who had lost her husband and daughter – the fact that she was there. After such tragedy and devastation, she was there. She hadn’t turned away from God, but she was one who definitely needed to hear about God’s comfort and the lies of Satan when we are suffering.
     
    How Satan attacks us brought back a memory of several years ago at my former church, I took a little step of faith and signed up to teach a Sunday school class for four year olds. The first Sunday, I tripped going out the door into my garage and fell flat on my face – fortunately there was a mat there! My then teenage son was giving me a really hard time that day – he was mad at me about something, followed me into my classroom, and wrote something mean onto the white board (the kids weren’t there yet). I felt so discouraged that day, like just wanted to give up.

      1. As I remember, it went okay, but it sure was a rocky start!

  34. 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.
     
    I see a great contrast between the righteous and the wicked, almost like two bookends are verse 2, “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death”, and verses 20-21, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” I would summarize that the reason given here that the wicked cannot find any peace is because they are consumed by their idolatry and have forgotten the Lord. God warns, in verse 13, “When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you!” That speaks to me right now. Let your collection of idols save you – your idol of approval, the things you seek comfort and security in that are not the Lord, your attempt to control, the momentary pleasure of buying something…all the things you turn to instead of me for help.
     
     
     

  35. 5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
    Whom are you mocking? Against whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue?
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
    Wow..I didn’t see this bigger picture here before but yes He does! 
    It seems like their idol worship progressed-their passion for it progressed: They burned with lust under every green tree…sacrificing their children to their idol, building a lofty wide bed up high, letting more in-gazing on nakedness,  making a covenant with them entering into their bed and loving it. Even when they grew weary with it they made a new way with it so that they would not grow faint. So they had totally forgotten God and were in bed with their idols. 
     

  36. 7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?
    This is one example-simple- it just happened so it is fresh, but I have to say the temptations are daily and my idol calls can be sneaky so they can come in a deceitful way. 
    SO..I am at work and my supervisor disclosed something confidential to me. I didn’t say a word to anyone.  A week goes by and somehow someone found out. He didn’t tell anyone else there. I was shocked when he told me someone else found out. There is someone I know who does get information from a friend who is higher up. So that might be how it got out. I am not sure. He didn’t accuse me but after we talked I began to worry what he thought of me.. Is he blaming me? Will he be able to trust me? Then I thought, so what if he thinks I did. God knows the truth that I kept it confidential and Psalm 8 came to mind: When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that you take thought of him and the son of man that you take care of him?  He became bigger, and my comfort, and He helped me to rest in His approval. 

    1. Rebecca, this is such a good example of what most of us are faced with in the workplace. We know we’re doing what’s right, but we worry that others think we’re doing something wrong. It’s good to remember that God knows the truth and that’s the most important thing!

  37.  
    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 imagery of broken vows and adultery, that we are made to be faithful and we are determined not to be. I have experienced the crushing heartache of infidelity. When it actually happens it wounds so much more deeply than one can imagine it might when merely pondering what ifs. 
     
    To think that my sin weighs this heavily on the All Powerful God of the Universe…it puts more weight on my willingness to see my sin and makes me long to be done with it for real. I truly don’t want to be unfaithful, I don’t want to cause that depth of pain to Christ.

    I liked reading this in the Amplified Bible, I love that the Lord will not be angry forever, that his plan is not to destroy us, but to reward, and give unmerited favor, to those who take refuge in Jesus.And I loved this:
    “19 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]” May the Lord cause MY lips to blossom anew with speech in thankful praise!
     

    1. Chris you’ve given me something to really think about. I have been betrayed also and while I know the great pain that it has caused me, I have never equated it to what I have done to God in such a way with my sin and my idols. (My auto-correct turned idols into idiots, how fitting!)

      1. I am sorry to know that you have also experienced this Dawn (a similarity I would rather not share with you!) but the identification with the suffering of Christ in this is a helpful image for me. When the affair happened I would feel really physically ill when I thought of it. The level of wrongness, the way it made the whole world feel upside down, I never could have anticipated that.

        1. Chris, the betrayal wasn’t an affair, but it was broken trust that was severe and repeated even after I thought we had worked through it and were beyond it. When it happened yet again I seriously was planning on leaving the marriage when my youngest son turned 18. 

  38.  
    4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
     
     
    Because he sees everything from beginning to end, he is acting in the best interest of his people. His purposes are accomplished in spite of how evil, at times, seems to have the upper hand.
    At Daniel’s funeral Bill read some things I wrote, I think I took it from John Piper, though I am not certain of that, but it said something about it being clear that at times ‘God allows things he hates in order to accomplish things that he loves’.

    1. I am so looking forward to meeting Daniel some day!

      1. He is pretty excellent 🙂
         

  39.  
     
    5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?

    Take stock, do you know who you are, what you deserve, and who it is that you are mocking?
    Sobering thought

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

    I have driven a lot of junky cars over the years. I have, at times, felt ashamed of my junky cars. I drove one for years that had a cracked windshield, a coat hanger for an antenna, and if you lifted the floor mat, you could see the road whizzing by!
    I now have a newer, nicer car. When I am shopping in an affluent area, I can imagine that I am perceived in a better light by those who see my more acceptable car. God has shown me that when I let my thoughts rest here, on the approval of man, I am drawing my identity from how others perceive me. I am committing idolatry. There isn’t anything wrong in having a nicer car, it is a good gift from my Father, the wrongness is in drawing my identity from it. This is a small practical example, this fear of man repackages itself in myriad ways in my heart.
    As the Lord reveals my sin to me, I am quicker now to realize that my feet are on sinking sand, I get to repent, speak truth to my soul and get back into the light.
    That  picture of our Prodigal God, running to meet us when we come back to him has had a profound impact on me in this. He bears the shame and covers undeserving me in robes of righteousness. Why would I want to stray from that kind of love?

    1. Chris, I had to smile when I read this….the car I’m driving now is my dad’s old car that he didn’t need anymore (since my mom stopped driving 4 years ago, they went down to one car). It’s an older Chevy Impala, and we needed it because my minivan finally died-really fell apart! But my husband and boys tease me that I’m driving a “glorified rental car” or that it’s an “old person’s car”. At times I look longingly at the newer SUV’s I see on the road, but then I try to remind myself that this car gets me where I need to go!

  41. Sunday;
    What stood out to me were these comments:
    “Of 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.” 
    Those thoughts coupled with the quote by Solzhenitsyn
    “The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man” 
    These speak to the great struggle we all experience but as Dee points out God promises to be with the humble and repentant heart. I am so grateful He does not leave us on our own but has provided a way out of our sinful wayward ways  because of Jesus. He will revive us. I often need reviving.
    One of my favorite hymns is  
    BE THOU MY VISION.  
    The 3rd verse is one that we rarely sing but it speaks to God as being my battle shield, shelter and tower.   The last verse encouraged me that by Him my victory is won. 

    Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
    Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
    Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
    Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
    High King of Heaven, my victory won,May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

     
     

    1. Bev, I had never heard the third verse before, but it is great!  

    2. Bev, that was beautiful.

  42. 5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
    God asks:
    Are you mocking me? 
     
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
     
    The Israelites have their sinful behaviors; as if they are “lying in bed” with them. This is how I read the passages.

  43. 6.  Idolatry as adultery:  we had a pastor who said that the giving of any affection that belonged to your spouse to someone else was a form of adultery, leading you toward following down that path.  In these verses, when we give our time, attention, money, or praise to anything other than God, it is adultery/idolatry.  It is especially evil, because as in verse 8b, He is available to us, but we forsake or ignore Him.
     
    7.  Struggles in my own life.  I think I find it particularly hard because when I flee to Him, He doesn’t rescue me as I expect or want.  I want an ultimate relief; to have a big change happen in me where I quit looking to that idol for anything.  Yet what He gives is just a quiet, understated grace for only that moment.  But it is not the deliverance I want, so next time I am not as quick to seek Him out.  Shame on me.  He is able and He is there.

    1. Mary, your words are so true. I find myself in that place. I have to choose to be content with the moment, when what  I really long for is to be completely and permanently delivered.

    2. Well put. I know this feeling too.

    3. I was thinking along the same lines this morning-taking refuge in him- it doesn’t provide the immediate rescue from circumstances we feel like we need when the worst things are happening. But when we surrender to his sovereignty, there is a peace on the other side of it that really is that anchor for our soul.

      1. Amen, Chris.

    4. Mary, I agree that you put this struggle we al have really, really well. “He doesn’t rescue me as I expect or want. I want an ultimate relief….” Oh why is it that I think that things in this life will fulfill me?

  44. 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.
     
    God is calling for repentance.   He has seen his people ignore Him and lavish their attentions on idols.  He compares the relationship with His people to a marriage.   It is as if they so tossed His righteousness aside and sought sin and idols that it resembled prostitution and adultery.   But God continues to love His people and He plans to guide them and restore their comfort.  
     
    The final 2 verses are  the ones that impacts me the most.  “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.  “ There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”    Sin does gnaw at a person, giving no peace.   Even when we don’t fully acknowledge it, we feel the constant pressure to repent 
     
    4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
     
    God is mercifully taking the righteous to Himself, so as to prevent them from experiencing deeper evil.    
     
    5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
     
    Who are you mocking?  At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue?    
     
    6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
     
    “You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill.”    Worship places were supposed to be in high places. “ Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into and opened it wide.”      They didn’t even try to hide it – their sin and spiritual adultery was done publicly. 
    The worship of Molech (an Ammonite god) may have involved prostitution and child sacrifice.   

  45.  
         8. How does God try to open our eyes to the futility of our idols in Isaiah 57:13?

    He wants us to see that the things we run to, the things we think are so very important, they are empty of help and shown to be completely worthless to save us when we the storm comes. I know this to be true, I have experienced it.
    He promises real, lasting, eternal deliverance for those who take refuge in him. 
     
    Hebrews 6:19
     
    We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into he inner place behind the curtain”

  46.      7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?
     
    Well, this question is tough for me. although there have been times when I knew God was in charge, I have had many times when I felt He didn’t care at all. I am in that place currently. Nothing seems to be in His hands. 
     
    That being said, and since you seem to want a current issue, I will describe the one small thing I see in my life now. A few weeks ago I left a prayer for our prayer team at church. These are various ages of women who get together on Tuesday mornings and have read my prayers and prayed often for my family. I rely on them because my mom is gone and I have always felt that grandmas and mothers are vigilant in this regard. My prayer was for me this time. I was feeling down and blue, to the point where I wasn’t caring about too much of anything in my life. A pity party….so focused on myself (the idol part). Usually I can burst through these low feelings but this time was different. I didn’t care if I danced, if I went to work, or much of anything really. Several of those women have reached out to me and that has felt soothing. I am having tea and dinner with one next Tuesday. Thank you Jesus. I decided to start taking vitamin d (it is really time to be warm again with sunshine in my face; winter has been long this year and because I am a southern girl I never truly get warm enough (naturally – lol) here ?). Thank you Jesus. I also helped start an exercise class at my work after school 2-3 times a week. Another colleague has really pumped me up by co-teaching this with me and making it actually happen. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus for helping me get through by sending these angels to cover me.

    1. Laura looking forward to our visit. Please feel free to reach out for prayer anytime. It has been a long Winter in NH. Spring is coming though and there is no stopping it.

      1. Thanks Liz. Will see you tomorrow!

  47.      8. How does God try to open our eyes to the futility of our idols in Isaiah 57:13?
     
    The idols of our lives are fleeting. He is not fleeting – they cannot save us – He promises us His Kingdom.