THE ENSLAVEMENT OF NON-GODS

Every time something bad comes out of our mouth or life,

it is because we are giving in to a “non-god,” to an idol.

Martin Lloyd Jones preached 66 sermons on 1 John,

and his final sermon was on the last verse

which he said summed up the whole book.

What is that verse?

Tim Keller says this sermon turned a light on for him,

and Keller turned a light on for me,

so that finally, in seeing the sin beneath the sin,

I could be set free from the idols that were enslaving me.

This summer we have been looking at Jesus

and His Gospel in the Old Testament.

Last week we saw how idolatry

motivated Sarah to make the wrong choice

in bringing her servant Hagar to Abraham’s bed.

Sarah and Abraham’s choice continues to bring pain,

suffering, and wars to our world.

Our idols are not our friends, they only seem to be at first.

But if we instead, identify our idol,

the sin beneath the sin,

and choose instead to trust God,

and do it His way, we will, indeed, be set free!

Did Jesus take the two on the road to Emmaus back to this story of

Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar to help them grasp the gospel?

I don’t know, but Paul takes us back there,

using it as an allegory for the gospel.

In studying it again

I saw how the gospel can free us both from legalism and idolatry.

Let’s go!

Sunday:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Think about your last time of sinning and identify the sin beneath the sin. Share only if you like — but it is good to identify this in your mind so that you can be set free.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

God wants to be our comfort, our control, our security, our approval — but if we do not trust Him, we run to other things, even good things like food or money or friends — but when we turn them into gods (for they are really non-gods) they cut us to pieces. Watch this video and see how women identified their idols. (The Korean woman is my daughter Annie — I laugh when she calls me “Dee” but she did it for the video.)

3. Comments on the above?

Galatians 4:8 -Galatians 5:1

Since idols cannot be removed but only replaced, prepare your heart with this:

4. Read Galatians 4:8-11

Legalists had come to the new believers and told them that they were saved by faith in Christ but they also needed to observe certain laws. Personally, I think I am set free from the legalism that Paul describes here, but I do know the default mode of my heart is to revert to works righteousness, thinking God will love me more if I do everything right. I must speak to my soul and remind her (souls are feminine in Scripture) that my sin is paid in full, He loves me as He loves Jesus, and my motivation to do right should be out of gratefulness rather than trying to earn His love.

A. Formerly, what were the Galatians enslaved to, according to verse 8?

B. When we place our confidence in something other than god, whether it is a legalistic system to rescue us, or a gift such as food or friends, why does Paul call it a “non-god?”

C. What do non-gods do to us according to verse 9?

D. Can you share from personal experience how a non-god has enslaved you?

E. Have you been set free from any kind of legalism? If so, looking back what do you think was the sin beneath the sin?

The Allegory — an allegory is when a story is told to illustrate a specific truth

Paul takes this historical story of Sarai and Hagar, and makes an allegory. It has an application both to legalism and to idolatry — for in fact, legalism is a form of idolatry. We are trusting in obeying the law instead of what Christ did at the cross. This is a challenging passage, but go slowly and you’ll discover power.

5. Read Galatians 4:21-31

A. Whom do the children of Hagar represent and why? And whom do the children of Sarah represent and why?

B.  Which children are slaves and which children are free?

C. God delights in using the weak, the barren, the despised. How do you see this in Sarah’s story?

D. Paul is quoting Isaiah 54:1 in verse 27. He is saying that the barren, poor and marginalized can be more fruitful than the fertile, rich, and popular. We may not have the resources of some of the people we are prone to envy, but there is a promise here we must embrace.

1) What is the promise?

2) What makes you feel “marginalized,” or less than others?

3) How could abiding in Christ actually make you more fruitful than those whom you might be tempted to envy?

E. Those born of the flesh will persecute those born of the promise. How do you see this in the story of Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael?

F. How have you been mocked for holding on to the truth of the gospel? How can you speak to your soul?

I found the following on the internet from Benny Phillips, a pastor of Redeemer church in Nona Lake, Florida. I thought he had excellent applications. Please read and comment:

Pastor Phillips writes:

We need to hold onto the freedom of the gospel. Legalism robs us of the promise of God. It’s choosing to go back and live as a slave. It will kill you.

There are four side-affects of legalism:

  1. Ignorance of the gospel of grace. You and I are no longer bound by a system that condemns us. We are free in the Son of God.
  2. Man-pleasing fear. When we are bound by others’ opinions of us, it can affect how we communicate the gospel. We don’t want to offend others, so we alter the message. Paul says you can live and eat with those you’re trying to witness to, but don’t change the gospel.
  3. Hypocrisy. Don’t live with your identity wrapped up in external things. Legalism puts us into that trap because it makes us responsible to perform to merit righteousness, to obey God. Legalism is bondage.
  4. Loss of joy. In verse 30 it says “Get rid of the slave woman and her son.” Literally, it says to “cast out,” to repent from a self-focused way of relating to God and allow the power of the Spirit to fall upon you. Recognize that we are free.

6. Do any of the above help you to apply this passage? If so, how?

Thursday-Friday:

Keller’s sermon on this is excellent, but it is 2.50. I hope you’ll listen. 

Enslaved to Non-gods – Timothy J. Keller

9. Comments on the above?

Saturday:.

10. What is your take-a-way for the week?

COMMENTS (76) Post a New Comment ↓
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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Just His love..If His Spirit weren’t inside me I wouldn’t be aware of my sin beneath the sin and so He helps me see-not to induce guilt but to set me free. (I bend toward beating myself up until He helps me come to my senses.) So when He reveals my sin and the sin beneath the sin-my idol..I have a choice to respond by letting go of my idol and trusting Him. His desire is to free me from the chains and the destruction of it for He was chained and destroyed by it for me so that I could be set free-oh. He knows my capacity to bend away and not trust Him so that is why He gave me His Spirit for He knows I can’t “just say no”.  What love.:)

 

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    Rebecca, I totally get that feeling of guilt when I am made aware of my sin. It is as if I did not expect myself to be a sinner. Like I should be good and not have done that, or said that, etc. “His desire is to set (us) free. What love, indeed!

    Good to be back here after a week of a whirlwind at school. I need this reminder.

      Reply

      Bing — was it you who needed Discipleship Unlimited’s address? I’m not sure — but if it was you, you can give through their website by clicking on donate — it’s http://www.discipleshipunlimited.com

      Or you can send a check to Discipleship Unlimited right to Linda and she can take care of it for you

      LINDA STROM

      2313 MISTY MORNING LN

      TEMPLE

      TX

      76502

       

      If it wasn’t you — sorry — I am such a poor administrator of details!

        Thanks, Dee for this address as well as introducing us to this wonderful lady. She sure is an inspiration.

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2. Think about your last time of sinning and identify the sin beneath the sin. Share only if you like — but it is good to identify this in your mind so that you can be set free.

Oh I do have one I have identified a few weeks ago and He is helping to set me free. Though once I put it in His hands, and a week later the issue comes up again I start bending away again to the what if’s and worry, but He keeps revealing this unsettling inside and He keeps coming! He is so long-suffering with me.

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Rebecca, are you saying worry is your issue? I think we can all identify with that — and yes, it takes an active of the will and faith to let it go and give it to Him!

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What stands out to me is how God repeats and reemphasizes his teaching in my life in what Dee presents here on the blog and what I heard at church this morning. The preacher at our church is doing a series of sermons right now which is an over view of the Bible. He has called it The Story Of The Bible In 11 Weeks.  This morning he addressed the Abrahamic covenant and the stories of  Abraham & Sarah and their descendants Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. He called it “Faithfulness In The Midst Of Our Mess”. By looking at God’s unconditional covenant to Abraham we can see in spite of the mess they made for themselves He was absolutely faithful to his promises for their lives. And the gospel is clearly illustrated in the stories of their lives. The comment “I saw how the gospel can free us both from legalism and idolatry. ” is such encouragement.  Earlier in my life legalism choked out much of my joy. Today I see God exposing my idols to further set me free from the sin beneath the sin.

I could go on & on about the goodness and faithfulness of God. (-:

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    Bev, I love it too when the Holy Spirit keeps repeating the same stuff :)

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What stands out:

“Our idols are not our friends, they only seem to be at first.”

It disturbs me how easily we are deceived. If something looks good, is pleasant to the eye, appeals to the senses, it often does not matter if we have been warned against it, we are caught in the idol’s web. When we are being tempted, we think “just a little won’t hurt”, and then we are caught. It is much harder to get out of the trap then to get into it. Lord, help us.

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 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

“Our idols are not our friends”–and yet, they are so comfortable. I love the picture with the Galatians 4:7 verse–when I really stare at it, I laugh–it looks fun, lively, wild…and a bit scary. That’s the part that makes it hard for me to deny my way and yet, God is not a God of fear, but of life-giving joy and love. I just have to trust Him enough to brave a baby step, and He is full of mercy and grace to help me.

 

2. Think about your last time of sinning and identify the sin beneath the sin. Share only if you like — but it is good to identify this in your mind so that you can be set free.

I’m glad you asked this here, I didn’t get to answer the question like it from last week, but I need to. So most of the time, I am (shockingly) handling this new chaotic life fairly well for my type-A-nature, but there are moments where I decide the slightest deviation from MY plan just should not happen and that I need to be consulted on everything! I have done a lot of subtle blaming, and side-ways comments when someone (like my very, very well-meaning dear husband) does not do something (bed time routine , etc…) exactly the way I want it done. OH. I am so exposing myself right now! So my sin beneath the sin is my control-freak-ness, and I think really a fear. To let it go, again, and again in 5 minutes, and a million times tomorrow…it is so freeing. Even sharing it here, I could almost do that Galatians jump, if I wasn’t quite so sleep-deprived!

This week looks so good–thank you Dee!

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This question of sinning is pointing a finger at me tonight. I became very angry when I was spoken harshly to, instead of speaking kindly and honestly.

It made me feel so desperate as I now need to ask forgiveness when I feel wronged…Probably my idol of control is the sin below the sin.Since having a hip replacement I have been out of control because I need to ask for help in household chores that I usually handle. It brings up the worry also that I may continue to need to ask for help at times. I witnessed  this in others who didn’t want to ask for help and never imagined I would be in this position.

So I come humbly to Jesus to ask forgiveness and to trust him in my circumstances.

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    oh Shirley–thank you for your honesty. I so relate to the difficulty in asking for help–it is very humbling and stirs such a feeling of loss of control. Praying for you now to have His peace.

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3. Comments on the above?

The common thread is that they were able to see the symptoms in order to identify the idol so that they can turn and trust God whereas before they didn’t see and were stuck in the arms of their idols.

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4. Read Galatians 4:8-11
A. Formerly, what were the Galatians enslaved to, according to verse 8?
Idols
B. When we place our confidence in something other than god, whether it is a legalistic system to rescue us, or a gift such as food or friends, why does Paul call it a “non-god?”
Because it has no power to rescue us.
C. What do non-gods do to us according to verse 9?
They enslave us.
D. Can you share from personal experience how a non-god has enslaved you?
Running to food for comfort. I know I said in my testimony that I found temporary comfort in over-eating but I have learned the comfort isn’t real comfort-the real momentary comfort I feel from staring at my son’s beautiful face, or receiving a hug from my husband. It is faux comfort because underneath it is this ferocious monster of misery that wants to chain me to the cycle of over-eating and depression.  The faux comfort is how he gets his claws in me. This empty god who can’t rescue me but rather who will destroy me.
E. Have you been set free from any kind of legalism? If so, looking back what do you think was the sin beneath the sin?
Oh yes! This is probably why I loved the Brennan Manning movie so much and why I am a fan-and why I don’t care what my legalistic friends say about him.  :-)  I was very legalistic about verse memory and leading  people  to Christ-weird to be legalistic about that but I was and at first I think it was out of the overflow of His Love in me but over time this legalism grew. So much so that if someone wasn’t memorizing I wondered how dedicated they really were to Christ. After all He tells us to meditate and chew the cud of His word-over and over, and I had a method that I thought was THE method. Oh my. Until a brother confronted me and asked me where in Scripture does God say we have to memorize a verse a week? Why not a passage? Why not a book? Why not a verse or set of verses every few weeks? I am embarrassed sharing this but it is true. I was also legalistic about women teaching  men and told my brother once that women should never be president or the CEO of a company, etc.  OH MY.

The sin beneath the sin for spiritual legalism was God’s approval and the older woman who was discipling me’s approval. I was solid on Jesus plus nothing but as far as resting in His approval no one ever taught me He loves me as I am for I am not as I should be yet.  No one taught me that I have His pleasure because Jesus took on His disapproval of me on the cross so that I would never face not having it.  It was mostly intellectually based teaching I was used to where the Gospel was preached-solid teaching- but it was to get an understanding so I can make right choices and please God instead of gazing at the Gospel and His Love melting my heart to obedience. I can’t edit! I have to get ready for work. Sorry so long!

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    You have such insight. Could picture of “getting claws into me”

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    I love you legalism example Rebecca, and the passionate way that you have of sharing it.

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What stands out to you from the above and why?

The painting, their expressions, it bought home how icky it really was for Sarah to have taken matters into her own hands and for Abraham to have gone along with the plan.

And the image of the breaking of the chain, that the gospel sets us free from idols AND legalism, how we need this!


 
2. Think about your last time of sinning and identify the sin beneath the sin. Share only if you like — but it is good to identify this in your mind so that you can be set free.

I had a time recently when in a moment where I felt the cost of something began to choke me. It wasn’t a huge amount of money but I wasn’t the one making the decisions and it was happening very fast. I felt great anxiety, bordering on anger. I was praying as it was happening because I have come to be able to see when the enemy has me where he wants me. I can make being practical with money into a god.
I need in those moments when my emotions rise in ugly ways to reorient my hope and trust off of my own wisdom and back to trust in the Lord and then do the next right thing.

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    I appreciate how you appreciate great art and really look at it, Chris.

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      I don’t feel that I usually get as much from visuals as others may, but your choices this week spoke to me.

        When someone sees something in a visual, it helps us all to see it too. I love that.

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3. Comments on the above?
it was a delight to see one of my daughter-in-law’s good friends on this clip.  Just met her last year.

They all were identifying the symptoms of their idols and recognizing the need to let Christ have His place and control in their lives for their good.
4. Read Galatians 4:8-11
A. Formerly, what were the Galatians enslaved to, according to verse 8? 
Idols. So called gods that do not even exist NLT
B. When we place our confidence in something other than god, whether it is a legalistic system to rescue us, or a gift such as food or friends, why does Paul call it a “non-god?” 
Because he says they are weak and worthless.  They are powerless to fulfill our true hearts needs.
C. What do non-gods do to us according to verse 9? 
They enslave us and become our master.
D. Can you share from personal experience how a non-god has enslaved you? 
Food, approval, control  have all disrupted my life.  After 50 years of marriage I look back on many times that I  tried to control my husband and it never ended well for either of us
E. Have you been set free from any kind of legalism? If so, looking back what do you think was the sin beneath the sin?
I think I was looking for security from legalism. I was not confident in my decision making process and legalism gives answers and rules to be followed. I looked for security in those boundaries tather than putting my trust in God to care for me and be my security.

 

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    Which friend is that of your daughter-in-law? I know all those dear young women.

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A. Formerly, what were the Galatians enslaved to, according to verse 8? They were slave to “by nature, not gods.” Wow- I have created a  god out of something that was not meant to be a god to start with!
B. When we place our confidence in something other than god, whether it is a legalistic system to rescue us, or a gift such as food or friends, why does Paul call it a “non-god?”
They were “by nature not gods”. In essence, they serve purposes other than what we are considering them to be. They can be gifts like food and friends, perhaps, even the law can be a gift to us since it helps us discern what is right and wrong? Then if they are gifts, then it is to be received with thanksgiving and not allegiance? For our allegiance can only be to our One True God alone.
C. What do non-gods do to us according to verse 9?
 
They enslave us.

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B. When we place our confidence in something other than god, whether it is a legalistic system to rescue us, or a gift such as food or friends, why does Paul call it a “non-god?”

Paul says that they don’t “exist”. They offer us to rest our hope on them but their is no substance, no realness, to them.

C. What do non-gods do to us according to verse 9?

They enslave us.

 
D. Can you share from personal experience how a non-god has enslaved you?

Comfort has been a big one for me. I have felt that if I could just be alone, and eat my favorite things, in peace and quite, and then sleep as much as I want wearing the most comfortable clothes then I would be free from stress…I would be happy.

When I worked and had 5 teenagers at home I would fantasize about going to a hotel on the way home from work where I would sleep uninterrupted, no one asking me for anything, they wouldn’t even know where I was…It was a favorite daydream for many years. I also dreamt of just driving away, letting them fend for themselves, then they would be sorry, then they would appreciate me. Comfort and Self Pity had their hooks in me pretty deep.

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E. Have you been set free from any kind of legalism? If so, looking back what do you think was the sin beneath the sin?

I think a subtle for of legalism for me is when I believe I understand a spiritual thing or concept at a deeper level than someone else. I can begin to feel superior, or this is pretty icky…closer to God than that other believer who I don’t think is “getting it”

This verse seriously convicts me :
1 Corinthians 4:7

 
“For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

If I have any discernment in spiritual things it is because God has graciously allowed me to see. There is nothing I can stand on except Christ, the same Christ my brother or sister who I am attempting to feel superior to stands on.

I suppose the sin beneath the sin would be pride?

I have grown a little in my understanding of the corporate nature of the Body of Christ.
I try to see this rising in me and quickly turn to praying for both that person and myself to see truth, understand it and be changed.

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    Chris, pride-ouch, soooo resonates with me! Have you ever looked back to things you said or did in your  journal? I have-oh my! ;-)

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAREST DEE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!!! OH HOW VERY VERY LOVED YOU ARE! PRAYING FOR A WONDERFUL, JOY-FILLED YEAR!

    Reply

    Happy birthday, dearest Dee. Today I am reminded of these verses which remind me of you:

    “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon

    They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God.

    They bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,

    to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (Psalm 92:12-15)

    We are so blessed to have you mentor us. We are just some of your fruit. Please don’t be insulted by the reference to old age. You are so wise and young at heart. :)

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    Happy Birthday Dee!!  (thanks, Lizzy!)

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Happy Birthday to you dearest Dee, our most excellent leader and role model!
We love you so very much!

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    Happy Birthday dearest Dee!! I love you to the moon and back!! I can’t agree more with Lizzy and Chris! May your day be filled with joy and your year with a deeper sense of His presence. I love you, love you my friend.

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5. Read Galatians 4:21-31
A. Whom do the children of Hagar represent and why? And whom do the children of Sarah represent and why?
The children of the slave, Hagar, represent being born of the flesh because they were conceived through Sarah not trusting God and trusting her idol instead. The children of the free, Sarah, are born of the promise-The Abrahamic Covenant-that they would have the land and their descendants would be many, and God promised He would give them a son in their old age.  Hagar and Sarah represent two covenants.
B.  Which children are slaves and which children are free?
The children of Hagar represent slavery to our flesh and the children of Sarah represent freedom from our flesh.
C. God delights in using the weak, the barren, the despised. How do you see this in Sarah’s story?
Sarah was unable to conceive for she was barren and was despised yet God made from her womb a nation that would be his people.
D. Paul is quoting Isaiah 54:1 in verse 27. He is saying that the barren, poor and marginalized can be more fruitful than the fertile, rich, and popular. We may not have the resources of some of the people we are prone to envy, but there is a promise here we must embrace.
1) What is the promise?
To stretch it out-that He is our prize and that we who are desolate according to the world will be full and free because of Him-He grafted us into this covenant via the cross and resurrection. We are His-His people and He is fighting for us-His banner of Love is over us, and the promised land is something way more grand than a mere piece of land. :)))
2) What makes you feel “marginalized,” or less than others?
I have this dear friend whose husband travels and brings in a lot of income and he can do that with one job which didn’t require a degree. :) Their children have been able to experience things my boys will never experience and their expensive home is usually very nice and clean all the time. They have it altogether all of the time and as far as I know their children are following Christ. They are active in their church and husband is a deacon. It is so easy for me to feel less than or want their life for my husband can’t be active and I struggle to be consistent in the ministries I serve in due to the needs of my family and extended family here.
3) How could abiding in Christ actually make you more fruitful than those whom you might be tempted to envy?
I love that He loves the weak, the despised, the outcast. I love that He loves me as I am in all my weird-ness and inconsistencies. I love the reality that having everything isn’t everything.  That He is everything and that His riches are truly satisfying never leaving me empty.  So whether I have a lot or have nothing, whether I am active or not active in church, whether we are looked upon as having it altogether doesn’t make me more or less delightful in His eyes and that is what really matters. This is what melts me to abide closer in Him. Abiding in Him is His delight and His fruit flows from me which is more valuable than anything this world puts out as desirable.

 

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    Your vulnerable answer to 2 and your beautiful answer to 3 moved my heart, dear Rebecca!

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I see birthday greetings are in order for today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEE! May God richly bless your day as you have so blessed all our lives with your teaching and care. 
 

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Thank you all for your birthday greetings. Each of of you is a treasure to me.

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5. Read Galatians 4:21-31
A. Whom do the children of Hagar represent and why? And whom do the children of Sarah represent and why?
The difference is law and grace. Hagar’s children represents the old covenant of law and the practice of legalism according to the flesh.  Trying to please God with acts performed by self.  Sarah’s children represent the new covenant of grace as a result of promise. Faith must be placed in the promises of God to obtain the freedom that Jesus Christ gives us in our salvation.
B.  Which children are slaves and which children are free?
Hagar’s children born as a result of fleshly bondage but Sarah’s children came as  a result of promise  and out of freedom.
C. God delights in using the weak, the barren, the despised. How do you see this in Sarah’s story? 
God uses amazingly unlikely circumstances to bring about the birth of Isaac. Sarah had been completely unable to have children through out the child bearing years and now was in old age completely through menopause.  In the Jewish culture to be barren was a huge stigma.  It meant you were somehow defective and worth less than the woman who could have children.  A heart breaking place to be in.  But God comes in keeping His promise to give her and Abraham a child and defies those things and shows Himself strong and brings freedom and joy to Sarah’s life.
D. Paul is quoting Isaiah 54:1 in verse 27. He is saying that the barren, poor and marginalized can be more fruitful than the fertile, rich, and popular. We may not have the resources of some of the people we are prone to envy, but there is a promise here we must embrace. 
1) What is the promise? 
The promise is that God can take any circumstance and redeem it for His glory and our good. He brings freedom to his own.
2) What makes you feel “marginalized,” or less than others?
I think bevause of age and experience I don’t feel that now in any great measure like I have in years past. I find great comfort in God’s Word and base my worth on those promises He richly gives.  But there was a time when I felt very marginalized by a church and set aside as less than others.  It was a painful time past but God has done his good work over time.
3) How could abiding in Christ actually make you more fruitful than those whom you might be tempted to envy?
Abiding in Christ very much involves being in the Word and prayer.  It brings all that we need to live and grow in a more fruitful way.  Jesus completely satisfies the heart set on Him.
E. Those born of the flesh will persecute those born of the promise. How do you see this in the story of Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael? 
Hagar was cruel to Sarah in her barreness and Ishmael picked on Isaac.  Even in giving birth to a son by Abraham did not change Hagar’s status as a slave.  The sin of resentment probably ran deep in Hagar.  And I’m sure Ishmael felt displaced by Isaac in his father’s affections as well as feeling his mother’s resentment and acted out those feelings of jealousy.
F. How have you been mocked for holding on to the truth of the gospel? How can you speak to your soul?
I haven’t experienced out and out mocking personally  but I feel it in our culture. The values and biblical principles I have built my faith and life on are being blatantly rejected and ridiculed in our society today.   I again go to the Word of God and let it speak to my soul to ground me in it’s wonderful truths and find encouragement.

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4.   Galations 4:8-11    Eugene Peterson puts it this way in The Message:

Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them. But now that you know the real God—or rather since God knows you—how can you possibly subject yourselves again to those paper tigers? For that is exactly what you do when you are intimidated into scrupulously observing all the traditions, taboos, and superstitions associated with special days and seasons and years. I am afraid that all my hard work among you has gone up in a puff of smoke!

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Happy Birthday, Dee  :)    Thank you, for your vulnerable heart that has taught me so well for these past three years.  I am so grateful.

Today would also be my mama’s 88th birthday.  So, my sister and I will spend the day together to commemorate her life.  She was a woman full of gratitude and humility.   I miss her every day.    I’m so grateful that she was my mom.   And I know I shall see her in that better country some day soon.

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    Fun to share the day with your mama!

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F. How have you been mocked for holding on to the truth of the gospel? How can you speak to your soul?

This person in my family has told me before that  I am crazy. A few weeks ago he told me it is unhealthy how deep I am into Jesus and the Word. I sincerely asked him how? What unhealthiness has he seen in me from it? I sincerely wanted to know. He couldn’t answer. I guess speaking to my soul was fighting against the lies of the evil one in my responses to him. I told him my experience is the opposite-I would be SO unhealthy without Him and how He has come in my desperate days to comfort me, and in other days to rescue me from myself. I then gave examples of how He has helped me change from some very selfish thoughts and actions I wanted to take. Some which would have affected me and everyone around me for the worse had I continued.  I told him without Christ I don’t want to think about where I would be right now. Knowing Jesus has been the most “healthy” thing for me.

OH and what is so wonderful about this was God turned satan’s attack around by massaging the Gospel deeper in me as I recounted the ways He has been good! Which comforted me and strengthened me in my faith even more. I didn’t back down because He was strengthening me! Isn’t He wonderful how He turns satan’s attacks around?

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    Rebecca, you responded so rightly to this criticism that was aimed at you! You didn’t get defensive, angry, or argue. You sincerely asked to have him explain. I love how you said that God turned satan’s attack around by massaging the Gospel deeper into you as you recounted His goodness!

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    Asking him to support claim is so much better than you having to do it! Wise woman.

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    What a wise response to a person who criticized your faith, Rebecca. Love it.

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      Whew..let me tell you..in this journey the past year my responses at first to his criticism of me and my faith weren’t good for I was defensive because my heart was hurting and I believed the lie that his turn was my fault-like I have that much power to melt and make his heart thirsty for God. :) It wasn’t until God led me to repentance and I turned and trusted Him that I was able to truly listen and love and let His spirit do the work in our conversations. He is good ALL the time. This person’s journey is not mine. :) :)

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Dee, I do hope you had a lovely birthday yesterday! I hope you know how much we appreciate your faithfulness to us, each and every week, your wisdom and guidance in our lives!

My daughter and I took a trip to Niagara Falls and just returned yesterday. We had many examples of God’s goodness and kindness. We drove my daughter’s car, and about 40 minutes from our destination, the car began to vibrate and I was wondering what is going on when I heard a big noise and knew immediately that a tire had blown out. I was able to safely pull off to the side of the road and it was the left front tire. A young man immediately stopped and offered to put the spare on for me, but I wouldn’t let him because he’d be so close to the edge of the road and I told him I didn’t want him getting killed trying to change my tire! We have AAA and I called for assistance and within 15 minutes a tow truck came and the man put on my spare and gave us directions to take another route so we could stay off of the highway. The next day, Monday, my husband called the Goodyear store in Niagara Falls and ordered a new set of tires for the car, and we dropped off the car. I asked the manager there where the bus stop was that could return us to our hotel, and he said that he would drive us back. He was so very kind to us, and by that afternoon we had new tires and he called and arranged to pick us up and take us back to the store to get our car. He showed us the tire – there was a defect in the tire and it had separated (he said that’s what caused the vibrating) and then there was a big hole and he said that could have been very dangerous. I am thankful that it wasn’t my daughter out driving alone and it had happened to her! So we still had a wonderful time and God kept us safe, and we even got a look at the eclipse when a man let us look through his eclipse glasses (my daughter asked him if they were “certified”) and that was really neat!

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    Wow, the Lord was your Protector.

     

    And yes — I do know I am blessed — and feel your love!

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

 

That every time something bad comes out of my mouth or life, it is evidence of an idol underneath. At first I thought of “big sins” – telling a lie, getting angry, saying a bad word or being critical or harsh. But it can be those pervasive attitudes, feelings, and emotions, too, like FEAR (that’s been problematic for me, fear of the future), self-pity, unforgiveness, being overly self-focused and introspective, needing others too much. I tend to be too dependent upon other people for my sense of well-being; when they don’t “come through” for me, I can be crushed.

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4 A. Formerly, what were the Galatians enslaved to, according to verse 8? 
 

Other “gods.”

 
B. When we place our confidence in something other than god, whether it is a legalistic system to rescue us, or a gift such as food or friends, why does Paul call it a “non-god?” 
 

I guess because it is not of God?

 
C. What do non-gods do to us according to verse 9? 
 

They make us weak and enslaved.

 
D. Can you share from personal experience how a non-god has enslaved you? 
 

I am a slave to exercise and diet. I am also a slave to my kids.

 
E. Have you been set free from any kind of legalism? If so, looking back what do you think was the sin beneath the sin?
 

I’m not sure I understand what you mean by the term “legalism.” Is this following rules instead of God? If so, then yes, I tend to make heart decisions instead of what some would call being logical. It appears that I am not following the rules of this world, which are harsh, but I am (trying to) following the way He wants me to be instead. I have been released from caring about what others think about me and my family (for the most part). It is difficult though. I guess the sin would have been approval?

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    Laura raised a good question: “What is legalism?” I’d love to  hear some of your answers!

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    Legalists like a list of rules that they follow, holding up their performance, comparing it to others in order to feel justified. The heart of the legalist isn’t soft towards the reason the rule was given by God.
    We can all turn our moral inclinations into matters of right and wrong, elevating our ideas and  preferences into moral judgement of others. Like the older brother in the prodigal story, our rule keeping can make us quick to deal judgement on another.
    Writing this out was harder than I thought it would be!

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5. Read Galatians 4:21-31
A. Whom do the children of Hagar represent and why?
 

The children of Hagar represent those who are enslaved because Ishmael was born of man; he was contrived by Sarah.

 
And whom do the children of Sarah represent and why?
 

The children of Sarah represent those who were created  free because God gave Isaac to Sarah and Abraham when they were very old and really couldn’t physically have children.

 
B.  Which children are slaves and which children are free? 
 

Hagar’s are slave and Sarah’s are free.

 
C. God delights in using the weak, the barren, the despised. How do you see this in Sarah’s story? 
 

Well, Sarah was barren, Hagar was despised (after the event) and since she was a maidservant prior to her pregnancy; weak, and Abraham was weak. These were those who struggled in one way or another and needed a Savior to save them.

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6. Pastor Phillips… What helps me is: 

Loss of joy. In verse 30 it says “Get rid of the slave woman and her son.” Literally, it says to “cast out,” to repent from a self-focused way of relating to God and allow the power of the Spirit to fall upon you. Recognize that we are free.

Legalism, or adding to the Gospel-Jesus plus anything-does lead to loss of joy for how much will be enough before we gain His pleasure? We will always be in doubt, we will always never be truly satisfied and full. Also it points our faces toward ourselves and our own strength instead of his which He gives us via His Holy Spirit. How I needed to hear this because the foxes that are hiding in my vineyard are popping out their heads right now! Those background thoughts!

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Rebecca gave a wonderful answer to Laura’s question: “What is legalism?” I’d love to hear some more responses for it is key to understanding this passage.

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A. Whom do the children of Hagar represent and why? And whom do the children of Sarah represent and why?

Hagar’s children represent those struggling to be right with God by keeping the law, Sarah’s children are right with God because of the new covenant, justified by the blood of Christ

B.  Which children are slaves and which children are free?

Hagar’s children are slaves, Sarah’s are free

 
C. God delights in using the weak, the barren, the despised. How do you see this in Sarah’s story?

Sarah had a long life of barrenness. That must have been monstrously difficult. She like most of us was a person who sometimes trusted God and sometimes ran ahead taking matters into her own hands. It is comforting to see that God was in control, that he loved Sarah and gave her an honored place in his story in spite of her flaws and weaknesses.

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I’m behind this week, we were in Charleston all day yesterday for appts.–but Laura’s great question caught my eye this morning! I want to ponder it more, but my gut-level response when I read it –I instantly visualized a completely wrong equation (love math) for the formula to true freedom. We know that the Gospel gives us freedom by repentance and faith alone, but legalism says that following the rules and doing things “right” buys freedom, which it never will, it only enslaves us more–we end up on an endless treadmill of trying harder but never getting anywhere. Yet it is so easy for me to fall into legalism in subtle ways–with feeling better about myself for a “good” act, people pleasing and trying to do do things “right”. I was raised with a lot of that. Years ago, doing the World Harvest Sonship material, I remember uncovering my thank-you-note-righteousness! Little things like that I was so trained to do the right thing, and i felt I was slightly better because of it. But the older I get!, the harder it is to pull off all my “good works” and the more I am falling into full reliance on grace–like falling into a hammock overlooking the lake at the end of a long day–it is restoring to my soul to rest in what He has done for me and who I am because of Him. He has paid it all and given me status as His own. There is nothing more to be gained by any of my feeble attempts at “good deeds”! Sorry–another jumbled spiel of an answer!

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    Lizzy, not a spiel!! Great answer. Reminds me of what I just heard in Keller’s sermon! His sermon is wonderful..helped me understand that legalism is making good things a god enslaving us to those things and OH it operates in us daily.. we can even make “Christianity” a god an over-desire for something good created by the enslavement of an idol.

    OH and Keller read something they found with Hudson Taylor after he died.   “Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me A living, bright reality; More present to faith’s vision keen than any outward object seen; More dear, more intimately nigh than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.”  I have printed it and am going to carry it with me asking Jesus this-AND putting it up on my desk at work for that is where my approval idol most calls out to me. :) :) I SO NEED THIS.

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      That quote from Taylor is such a beautiful prayer — and I love the thought of you carrying it with you!

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      You are so right, Rebecca. What a beautiful prayer! It would be a good one to carry close to our hearts!

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1) What is the promise?

That we matter, even if by the worlds standards we are of little account.

2) What makes you feel “marginalized,” or less than others?

This has changed. I don’t worry as much about physical appearance or status symbol type things as I once did. What grieves me, makes me feel less than, is when I see families that have children who love the Lord and walk with him. I feel ashamed, I wish I had done a better, more intentional job of raising my sons. For most of those years Bill was either not a believer or a marginal one, but still I made a lot of poor choices. I wonder how things might have been different if I had done better.

 
3) How could abiding in Christ actually make you more fruitful than those whom you might be tempted to envy?

I suppose my worldly sons make me rely on God in ways the cookie cutter Christian family may not have to. By drawing near to Him for peace and comfort, for refuge from my fears for my sons, I am changed, these changes are evident and do bear fruit.

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    Such wonderful vulnerable reflections, Chris.

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    Chris, I can so relate to your post…. “What grieves me, makes me feel less than, is when I see families that have children who love the Lord and walk with Him. I feel ashamed, I wish I had done a better, more intentional job of raising my sons (children)….I made a lot of poor choices. I wonder how things might have been different if I had done better.”

    Then, I like the hope in your answer to #3.

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D. Paul is quoting Isaiah 54:1 in verse 27. He is saying that the barren, poor and marginalized can be more fruitful than the fertile, rich, and popular. We may not have the resources of some of the people we are prone to envy, but there is a promise here we must embrace. 
1) What is the promise? 
 

We will be children of the free woman.

 
2) What makes you feel “marginalized,” or less than others?
 

When I seem to have less than others or a harder time; not as smart, not as “lucky.”

 
3) How could abiding in Christ actually make you more fruitful than those whom you might be tempted to envy?
 

Christ is the key to our salvation. We are accepted into heaven because of Him. We have long term reward.

 
E. Those born of the flesh will persecute those born of the promise. How do you see this in the story of Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael? 
I’m not sure about this. I need to think more.

 
F. How have you been mocked for holding on to the truth of the gospel? How can you speak to your soul?
 

I can actually do this to myself sad to say. Since I am not hearing anything from Him in this terrible time my family is enduring, it seems as if He doesn’t care at all. It makes me sad and angry too. Why won’t He answer?? I wonder if He cares? I wonder why I must go through this awful time? Why do I even believe, if He doesn’t care?? I have asked myself and all these things in the last few days. I have also reminded myself of Job (speaking to my soul), and of times when He came through for me in the end. It is SO hard to go through the trial though! Nancy DeMoss Wolglemuth reminded me the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years! My several weeks of hell pale in comparison, but He knows my pain.

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9. Comments on the above?

Tim Keller Sermon:

Who are the non gods?

Slaves to principals of the universe. The word Stoicea is the spirits behind every created thing that was worshiped. Paul is saying any basic thing can be worshiped, treated as a god. The only alternative to the Gospel is idolatry. Nobody is an unbeliever. There is no such thing as a secular or irreligious person, if you don’t worship God you are a slave to idolatry. 

If you want to understand the foundational nature of idolatry look at the last verse of 1 John. 1 John 5:21 Little  Children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. John is saying if you ever fail to live in light, live in love, or live in God it all comes from idolatry. John is teaching us that the greatest enemy that confronts us is idolatry. All the scriptures start with the greatest danger-idolatry. Why are we failing to love, to be honest, to be generous, to be kind..it isn’t because I am a sinner but because something is an idol. What is it that is in the place of God that is causing me to do this? Something besides God you are adoring. Idolatry is under every sin. Anything that is central to me or seems to me essential or absolutely necessary.  Idols are not bad things or sins. Idols are good things made the best. Something you gotta have..something that screws you up. It is why you are the way you are. 

How do they enslave us?

In the Bible there is a greek word epithemia. Gal 5:16, Eph 2:3, Eph 4:20 1 Peter 4:11, etc. The word means over-desire. The old translations translate it as lust which we translate as sex which isn’t the true meaning. Lust means an over-sized desire for something good and idols create it. You lust after fame, love, achievement, children to be happy. An idol says if you have me, then you’ll be happy. It turns good things into chains and makes you a slave. if you feel like you are having to sin-always look for the chain of an idol.  I  am bitter I can’t help it. I have tried to get rid of the anger and it is burning me up..but the reason you are bitter and enslaved it isn’t what that person did to you but what your heart is making of the thing you lost. It is because what you lost you have to have and you can’t forgive this person for what you lost.

Some people say I hate myself, I have this low self esteem. I know God forgives me but I can’t  forgive myself. The reason you are locked into failure,  low self esteem isn’t because of what you have done. It is because of what your heart is making of the thing you failed. If you failed because you blew a relationship, the idol of your life that says if you could do this or that. It is what your heart is making of the thing you feel you have to have. Lust isn’t a desire for something evil, it is an over-desire for something  good created by the enslavement of an idol. 

You have to realize that the Galatians were pagans before.  They were licentious people-populating with everyone. They were worshiping  statue idols. Hating and being hated, etc. They are now being tempted to believe in Jesus plus something else-legal  moral-ism. Now they are about to go into a rigorous program of obeying Scripture to earn God’s favor.  Being moral, correct doctrine,  sexually pure that you will be just as enslaved as when you were out there fornicating in the streets. You can make an idol out of your body, family, etc. you are being your own lord and savior, or you can get moral-religious doing  the same thing. Instead of following Christ you are following Christianity-just as enslaved.

 

How can we be free?

You know God or are rather known by God.  Paul isn’t saying you don’t really know him, he is saying what is primary. What makes you a Christian isn’t that you pray, you study scripture, etc. It is that God knows you, that God loves you, chosen you and put his grace and mercy on you.

Paul is saying the Gospel is that your performance, popularity means nothing. What is important is how God sees you in Jesus Christ. The important thing is not that I know God but that He knows me. God says I will never ever forsake you.

Ultimately it isn’t enough to tell yourself the gospel over and over..it is not enough to tell your idols i don’t need you, i got Jesus. But ultimately you have to know God. You have to experience God’s love in your prayer life, in your heart. You have to experience his love to where when idolatry tempts you you say, forget it. Everything  He has ever done is so that you can know him. only by knowing him can you say forget it to your idols. 

When Hudson Taylor died they found a loose piece of paper on him. “Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me A living, bright reality; More present to faith’s vision keen than any outward object seen; More dear, more intimately nigh than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.” 

 

I didn’t have time to edit this down to a few strong points though I bolded what stood out to me so I hope this helps those who were unable to download it. :)

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    Beautiful notes, Rebecca.

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    Thanks for the notes, Rebecca. I really do not have time to listen to Keller now, but I am sure the notes will spur me on to follow Christ more closely.

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SUSAN!!! I had a post written yesterday to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! and got pulled away & then never back here to finish! Please forgive me! Thankful we do NOT live by legalism because my birthday-remembering-skills are getting challenged these days and I’m not doing as well as I’d like ;)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR DEAR SUSAN! You model compassion in such a beautiful, godly way–I am inspired and challenged by the way you have loved your family, your parents, your patients, US!, so richly. You have the gift of listening with a compassionate heart–such a beautiful friend! Love you!

 

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    Happy belated birthday, dearest Susan. You’re gentle honesty here has been a help to me here. May you have a blessed year!

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Happy Birthday, Susan. You have been so faithful and so loved here. I love your contemplative spirit and giving ways! You also have made yourself so vulnerable — and that’s how we get truly close.

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Happy birthday Susan!

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Happy birthday Susan, a day late! Thank you as always for being so honest in your sharing here.

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Rebecca, thank you for your good notes on Keller’s sermon. “if you feel like you are having to sin-always look for the chain of an idol.  I  am bitter I can’t help it. I have tried to get rid of the anger and it is burning me up..but the reason you are bitter and enslaved it isn’t what that person did to you but what your heart is making of the thing you lost. It is because what you lost you have to have and you can’t forgive this person for what you lost.”

Often than not, my busyness keeps me from a heart health check up. I know I should not do too much introspection to an unhealthy point but when I do not process what is in my heart, I move on in life not addressing the idol that chains me. I think my idol is self approval-I want me to approve of me. wow-very dangerous. I have made myself an idol to myself if that makes sense.

Thanks be to God that I do not have to live this way. Freedom comes through Christ and in Him and when my idols start clamping on me, I need to look to Jesus for my sense of worth, approval, security. He is in control and I do not. He will work things out for good. I have to speak truth to my soul.

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    I am pondering this too, Bing, “but the reason you are bitter and enslaved it isn’t what the person did to you but what your heart is making of the thing you lost.” Or, I would add, the thing you want but can’t have, or the person can’t or won’t give to you.

    I find I have an underlying “simmering” anger against my husband. It is most always there. What is it that my heart wants? A happy marriage, intimacy, closeness, to FEEL loved and affirmed, to have a “best friend” husband. So I must look into my heart as to what my heart is making of what I don’t have? And that I have unforgiveness towards him?

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      That’s good Bing and Susan! Oh my! Applicable to all of us.

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      Susan, this so struck something in my heart-What is it that my heart wants?. For the longest time, I resented my husband for not being the “romantic” kind-you know the roses and chocolate kind of guy. LOL  As the years went by (and more acutely since I have been on this blog and have read Idol Lies) I realized I was expecting my husband to speak in my own love language which is gift giving. I tend to forget what he has “given” me on a daily basis-making sure everything mechanical works, helping with laundry, doing dishes etc etc. Managing our finances conservatively which am often not good at. Also the reality that although I love roses and chocolate, it is a camouflage only of what I really want-to keep up with my other friends whose husbands do the chocolate and roses! Hah, the sin beneath the sin. This one, too-So I must look into my heart as to what my heart is making of what I don’t have?  I tell myself I have Jesus and acknowledge no human being can ever fill the empty space meant for God alone. I love you, sister and thank you for being so honest.

        Bing, its so funny that you mention the thing about “love languages” because truly, when I posted this morning I thought of the book The Five Love Languages and was wondering if, when our love language isn’t being met, can that become a heart idol? I like how you say that though your husband isn’t the roses and chocolate type, you appreciate the other ways he shows love, instead of being angry or resentful.

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Thank you for the birthday wishes! I haven’t even had time this week to begin the study….and it looks so good. I will try to go through it on my own. I’ve pulled Idol Lies off the bookshelf and am reading it again; I never outgrow my need for it!

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