Get Ready, Get Set, for A Fruitful Lent!

 

Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us to practice Lent.

It isn’t an “I ought,”

It’s an “I can.”

This year we will journey together to higher ground.

In the next three days, each of us will ask God

to give us His plan for our individual journey,

and then, this Wednesday, which is officially Ash Wednesday,

we will begin, together, cheering one another on,

picking one another up when we fall,

for we will,

but we will get up and continue in a long 

obedience in the same direction, ending on March 31.

40 days excluding Sundays.

Here is the plan:

Counselor David Powlison explains that “anytime something bad comes out of your life our mouth, a heart idol is operating.” A heart idol is a way you are trying to meet your needs independently of God. For example, instead of running to God for comfort or approval, you find your own means independently and in rebellion against God to have those needs met. Here are a few examples:

You have been legitimately hurt by another, and though you know God asks you to forgive, you do so half-heartedly. Obedience to God is often hard at first, because forgiveness means you pay the price of letting someone off the hook who doesn’t deserve to be off the hook. Even though Christ did that for you, you will not give up control. So you nurse the grudge, thinking about why you are right and this person is wrong, you tell others about the offense, and you complain. This eats away at you for heart idols are not our friends. You are in bondage.

You are stressed by life, and though You know God promises to be your comfort and promises peace if you set your mind on Him, it’s faster to run to food or masturbation, which provides quick temporary relief, but also, put you in bondage. These guilty pleasures become addictive and bring you down.

You feel you have gotten the short end of the stick in marriage, in money, or at work. Instead of trusting what God has allowed and setting your affections on Him, you resent Him and everyone who has what you do not. Your thought life is consumed by jealousy or imagining a different life. Again, bondage.

Our idols lie to us, promising relief but actually bringing bondage. When anything bad comes out of our life, we will be continually asking ourselves:

  • What need am I trying to meet independently of God?
  • How can I turn to God and trust Him to meet this need?

On Monday and Tuesday, I want you to identity a common temptation and besetting sin, and then identify the heart idol beneath the sin. This is where we will begin to practice repentance (turning) and faith (running to God). We want to walk in the light as He is in the light, and as soon as we realize we’ve stepped out, repent and run to Him in faith. By asking our soul what need we are trying to meet independently of God, we will first identify the sin beneath the sin.

We have learned that heart idols cannot be removed, but only replaced by God. On Wednesday we will begin our journey together. We will be in Isaiah during this Lent. We were there last year too, looking at the Servant’s Songs, but we only had time to take a cup of water from this ocean of beauty and wisdom. Isaiah is the gem of the prophets, the book Jesus turned to when He began His ministry, the book that inspired The Messiah, and yet many of have have not plumbed its depth. By spending time with Him in the Word, we are availing ourselves of the strength, wisdom, and love we need to replace our idols. Jesus calls us:

What we long for is for Him to replace our idols, to fill us so up with Him, that we will begin to see real changes in our lives, and that instead of the lame getting out of joint, we will be making straight paths for our feet so that we may be healed. We will come to Him with open hearts and open hands, asking to be filled.

And we will do this together, for two are better than one, and if one falls, his friend can help him up. You can be a silent reader or join in with the group. If you have just joined us, click on the banner about the blog and then on the door for the easy getting started directions. I suggest not using your last name but perhaps something like Sue from Boston or Mary Extrovert. I also suggest you do not check the box for replies for your e-mail folder will explode!

Sunday:

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

Monday: Identifying a Heart Idol

The first thing to do is to identify a common temptation for you, a “besetting sin,” a behavior from which you would like to be set free. Ask the Lord to show you what grieves Him. — and then let this sit for a day and see if this is where you want to concentrate, at least as we begin our journey. It might help you to see the following videos. One is from our own Rebecca, and many of you have seen it before. But if not, it’s a very clear illustration of not just stopping a bad behavior, but allowing God to replace that void. Some common needs we endeavor to meet independently of God are comfort/security, affirmation/approval and control/power.  See if you can identify the needs Rebecca and Rachael were endeavoring to meet independently of God, and then, how they let God meet them.

 

2. What need was Rebecca endeavoring to meet and how did she both repent and run toward God?

 

3. What need was Rachael trying to meet and how did she both repent and run toward God?

 

(Rachael’s firstborn son Jared is fighting brain cancer — would love a prayer for them!)

 

Tuesday: A True Fast

Though the practice of Lent is not commanded in Scripture, fasting is. Fasting is designed to make us hungry for God — in the video above, Rachael fasted from social media, Rebecca fasted from pie — but both didn’t just fast, they turned to the living God instead. You may want to replace complaining with praise, or sowing discord with seeking peace or an hour of nightly television with an hour of reading. The practice of Lent can turn into formalism, ritual without the heart. Isaiah makes it clear this is not a true fast. What we want to begin tomorrow is to fast from our heart idol, but then seek the Lord, truly, to meet our needs and replace that heart idol with Himself, and in so doing, cause us to bear the fruit of true righteousness. You may choose to replace your idol with a good habit, but you must also come to the Lord — do this study with your sisters. I will be giving free sermons, beginning next week, so another idea is to spend time listening carefully to those. Seek God in this. He knows your needs better than you do.

4. Read Isaiah 58:1-5

    A. What is the contradiction in the lives of the Israelites according to verse 2-3?

    B. How is it possible to spend time in church, in the Word — and yet “seek our own pleasure,” oppressing others, enslaving ourselves, and grieving God?

5. What insight does James 1:22-25 give into how to overcome the error of impotent Bible study?

Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day: A PERFECT MATCH!

 

The practice of putting ashes on the forehead, often done in liturgical churches, can be meaningful or empty. It is meant to remind us of our frailty, for we are dust, and to dust we will return. If this is your practice, allow it to penetrate your heart through the day, reminding yourself of your frailty and need for God’s strength.

When Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day, it almost seems like they are fighting. But Scotty Smith suggests anticipating our wedding instead of our funeral. We associate pain with the removal of heart idols, but what we are endeavoring instead to gain is intimacy with God. When you fall in love with your one true love, you give up others that could hurt your relationship. In the same way, we want not just to turn from our heart idols, but to run into the arms of God.

We are getting ready for our great wedding day. How we long to please Him, to be presented as a “pure virgin,” to be beautiful. We want to feel more of His presence, His peace, His joy.If you didn’t see this video, which I posted for the first time last week, please watch — it is from a woman behind bars who despite all the deprivation has real joy because she is, indeed, anticipating her wedding day.

 

 

Prepare your heart with this prayer from Scotty Smith:

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” Mark 2:19-20

     I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19

Lord Jesus, it’s Ash Wednesday—the beginning of the season of Lent. For the next forty days we have the privilege of surveying your cross, lamenting our sin, and resting in your righteousness. For your glory and our growth, we ask you to inundate us with fresh grace in the coming weeks. Convince us again that we are much more beloved than broken.

Indeed, we don’t want an ordinary Lenten season, Jesus. Melt us in your mercies and overwhelm us with your love. Astonish us with your kindness, for your kindness leads us to repentance. It’s all about you, Lord Jesus. It is all about what you’ve done for us, not what we promise to do for you. It’s not about beating ourselves up, it’s about lifting you up.

That’s why we begin Lent today anticipating our wedding, not our funeral; for you are the perfect Bridegroom who died to make us your cherished bride. The work has been done, the dowry has been paid in full, and the wedding dress of your righteousness is ours. The invitations have been sent out and the date has been set. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Over these next forty days give us an insatiable hunger for yourself, Lord. Reveal new dimensions of your love, and intensify our longing for the Day of consummate joy—the wedding feast of the Lamb.

In light of that banquet, we choose to deny ourselves (fast) certain pleasures for this brief season; but we’re not looking to get one thing from you, Jesus—just more of you. Fill our hearts with your beauty and bounty. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.

 

6. Have you identified a common besetting sin or temptation? If you are willing to share, do, so we can pray for one another. Have you identified what need you are trying to meet independently of God?

7. How do you plan to replace the bad habit with a good — and how do you plan to fill yourself with God?

 

8. Read Isaiah 58:6-7. What illustration does God give of the fruit that can come from truly depending on Him?

9. Read Isaiah 58:8 and find the promise for those who endeavor to turn from their sin and walk in the light?

10. What fruit might come from your life this Lent is you can replace your bad habit with a habit that is pleasing to the Lord?

 

Thursday: Not More Love from God, but More Intimacy with God 

God does not love us more when we obey or less when we disobey, but disobedience does quench His Spirit. I love how our Rebecca put it: Intimacy with God is like a stream, and I hate it when the rocks get in the way.

 

11. Read Isaiah 58:9-12 and find the promises of open communication and intimacy with God. 

 

12. Compare this to 1 John 3:18-22. What parallels do you see with Isaiah 58:9-12?

 

13. If you have had a measure of victory over a heart idol in your life, share how it has impacted your life and intimacy with God.

 

14. Read Isaiah 58:13-14 and explain how we are to look at the Sabbath, especially noting the repeated commands.

 

It would be so easy to get legalistic about this, for the default mode of the human heart is works righteousness. J. Alec Motyer, who is considered the surpreme expert on Isaiah, writes: The Sabbath was not a fast but a feast day. The Lord is more interested in enjoyment through obedience than in self-imposed deprivations. The Sabbath is not intended to be a burden but a day of exquisite delight.

15. We have only just begun, but have you experienced any measure of “delight” yet at turning from your idol and turning to the Lord?

Friday: Not Perfection but Progress

16. One of my favorite posts on Lent is this from Ann Voskamp. Read it and comment: 

 

http://annvoskamp.com/2015/02/why-failing-at-lent-may-be-succeeding-at-lent/

Saturday:

17. Reflect on your week. Share any progress or take-away.

 

We’ve only just begun — next week we will begin with Isaiah 1 to get an overview and hear a wonderful sermon. May you continually depend on the Lord for your strength, and not allow the devil a foothold. Look ahead to the joy of real growth and the sweet fruit it brings.

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS (157) Post a New Comment ↓
Reply

So, the downside of this community is that all of the idols each lady mentions seems to be my idol, too!  Some are idols I never thought about before.  But the upside is that I realize all temptations are common to man (woman).  I often feel myself to be the chief of sinners, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.  But how nice to have this community of ladies who love the same God and want so badly to be rid of our idols and instead bearing the image of our precious Lord.  I’m so glad He is not finished with us yet, but still working to conform us to His beauty.  Thank you for the fellowship, ladies!

    Reply

    Yes, in time we realize we have them all — but awareness is so helpful. Glad you are here, Miriam.

Reply

    4. What is the contradiction in the lives of the Israelites according to verse 2-3?
 
Outwardly they seek God but inwardly they were not convinced that He is hearing or honoring their kind of fasting.

Reply

    B. How is it possible to spend time in church, in the Word — and yet “seek our own pleasure,” oppressing others, enslaving ourselves, and grieving God?
These can become a checklist of to do things rather than really seeking God.
 
5. What insight does James 1:22-25 give into how to overcome the error of impotent Bible study?
Act on what I have read and do it sincerely.

Reply

Ugh…I feel so behind I am feverishly typing to catch up! Perhaps my besetting sin is for want of approval?
6. Have you identified a common besetting sin or temptation? If you are willing to share, do, so we can pray for one another. Have you identified what need you are trying to meet independently of God?
First, love the thought above from Scotty Smith- “we should anticipate our wedding and not a funeral.” Hallelujah, praise the Lord! And of course, I love Lucy!
I am still ruminating about a besetting sin. I am like Lizzy. It seems like a combination of several idols-control, approval.
7. How do you plan to replace the bad habit with a good — and how do you plan to fill yourself with God?
I like the idea that Diane have. To write down the 2 questions that Dee gave us. I think I will do that, too.
 
Read the psalms and the book of Isaiah and the book of Philippians that I have memorized before. I have Youversion app in my phone and I can always use it wherever I am to go to the Word of God.

    Reply

    Bing — just do what you can and don’t get down on yourself! I like Dianne’s questions too.

Reply

6. Have you identified a common besetting sin or temptation? If you are willing to share, do, so we can pray for one another. Have you identified what need you are trying to meet independently of God? – Yes, I have posted in a previous day, I need to forgive but don’t want to be the first person to step up, there is a little bit more detail in my other post.
 
7. How do you plan to replace the bad habit with a good — and how do you plan to fill yourself with God? – I plan on praying more about it to God and try to put forgiveness in my heart, even if its a little at a time. I am trying to stay in His Word and fill my heart and mind up with his ways.
 
8. Read Isaiah 58:6-7. What illustration does God give of the fruit that can come from truly depending on Him? – It will loosen the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free and break every yoke.
 
9. Read Isaiah 58:8 and find the promise for those who endeavor to turn from their sin and walk in the light? – Your healing will come quickly.
 
10. What fruit might come from your life this Lent is you can replace your bad habit with a habit that is pleasing to the Lord? – I will have a forgiving heart and be more compassionate and understanding to others.
 

Reply

Attended Crossroads Women’s Retreat and liked seeing and hearing the challenging words again above, so good to be reminded and to be able to refresh some of the material in my mind and heart.

    Reply

    I remember you, Lois. Glad to “see” you here too!

Reply

Pondering the teaching here.  It is so new to me that we don’t have our idols removed, only replaced.  That’s so like the grace of Jesus  Man (the flesh) is always seeking improvement through self-mutilation.  Jesus did that for us on the Cross already.  He is holding out His arms of love to us now.  I forced myself several times today to say the words out loud, “He loves ME!  I am loved by God Himself!”  I then quoted several Scriptures to myself to back up that bold statement.  I’m used to telling my patients all day long that God loves them, but found it hard to tell myself the same thing.  Not that I doubt His Word (or maybe I do), but I simply find it hard to believe there is not some kind of loophole that would prevent Him from loving me – some defect in me that is barring His acceptance of me.  It is so freeing to know that you are loved by God  – and not for any goodness in yourself.  I can rest in the fact that the Son of God loved ME and gave Himself for me.  What powerful love.  And that alone can set me free from my idols, of which I have many.  I want to be ravished with His love so that my idols become smashed in smithereens, and His image is perfected in me.  Thank you for this astounding and freeing truth!!

    Reply

    Miriam, I love this imagery;

     

    “I want to be ravished by his love and my idols smashed to smithereens…”

    Reply

    Love this, Miriam. Yes, isn’t it freeing to realize idols need to be replaced. I am thinking right now of the children’s toy where a child needs to find the exact shape to drop in the “hole”. How so like my idols-they fit into the areas of my weakness ever so snugly and get settled in the seat of my heart. It takes some radical move to get them out from there! (Hah, take the lid and dump the shapes!) Idols need to be dumped (smitehereens LOL) and replaced with Jesus. Pardon the cheesy illustration.

Reply

11. Read Isaiah 58:9-12 and find the promises of open communication and intimacy with God. 
 

You will be taken out of darkness and your gloom relieved. The Lord will guide you and make you strong. He will provide for you and your many generations who will also profit. You will be known as the restorer of your community.

12. Compare this to 1 John 3:18-22. What parallels do you see with Isaiah 58:9-12? 
 

It says that if we ask, and our hearts are right with God, we will receive what we need from Him. It parallels the Isaiah verse in that both verses say we need to walk on the right path and God will provide for us.

13. If you have had a measure of victory over a heart idol in your life, share how it has impacted your life and intimacy with God. 
 

I never understood how how you could make a child (or children) an idol. Many years ago when we were struggling with our teenaged son, I had done just that. My life was miserable. When I decided there was no where else to turn but to God, things changed. He was responsible at that point and I was “off the hook” in solving the problem. I know it was the right thing to do because once I gave up I was blessed; we were blessed. With our daughter it is more messy because there are children involved and now the courts as well. We have obligations that we can’t just walk away from and forget. I try to remember how God helped in the past to look forward to Him helping us now.

14. Read Isaiah 58:13-14 and explain how we are to look at the Sabbath, especially noting the repeated commands.
 

We are to keep the Sabbath Holy, honoring God and not ourselves. When we do this we receive great things in earth including generations that follow us (like Jacob did).

 

Reply

6. Have you identified a common besetting sin or temptation?  Have you identified what need you are trying to meet independently of God?
I have identified a besetting sin of comparing/judging/envy.  I think the “bottom line” is my yearning “to be enough,” i.e., approval.

7. How do you plan to replace the bad habit with a good–how do you plan to fill yourself with God?
My plan is to pray to God to bless whoever or whatever I find myself comparing, judging, or envying…to stop at the very moment of awareness and seek the Lord’s blessing for them.  I plan to fill myself with God through a commitment to this lenten study and to search out bible texts as references, eventually memorizing them.  Any suggestions?

8. What illustration does God give of the fruit that can be from truly depending on Him?
Freedom, generosity, and caring

9. Find the promise for those who endeavor to turn from their sin and walk in the light.
Healing and the Lord’s protection

10. What fruit might come from your life this Lent if you can replace your bad habit with a habit that is pleasing to the Lord?
Freedom–how freeing emotionally and in practical terms, freeing of time and brain use, to not be comparing myself against others, to believe in my heart that I am enough.  To stop focusing on myself and focus on my Lord.

    Reply

    Nanci — perhaps this Psalm comes to mind because I am turning to it for my idol, but I think it would help with comparing and envy: Psalm 16. It not only shows God’s love and approval of us, but encourages us to find delight in the saints of the land.

      Reply

      Thanks much for the suggestion of Psalm 16, Dee!

        :-)

    Reply

    Nanci, I can relate to what you identified in #6….I also can look around and compare myself to others, either feeling “more or less than”, and so quickly make judgments about others just by looking at them-ugh. I also like Dee’s suggestion of Psalm 16. When we studied this Psalm in the past, I wrote above it, “Life Together”, and this quote from Bonhoeffer: “The more meagerly our brotherly love, the less we are living by God’s mercy and love….the more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything between us recede, the more clearly will Jesus and His Word become the only thing that is vital between us.”

Reply

2. What need was Rebecca endeavoring to meet and how did she both repent and run toward God?

 

Rebecca had so much stress in her life, and in order to get relief, she turned to food (pie) and watching the news every night. When one slice of pie failed to satisfy, she ate two or three. The idol she identified was comfort; she sought comfort through food. When she identified this idol, she made the decision to stop eating the pie and to spend her time in the evenings reading books about intimacy with God and reading her Bible. She asked a pivotal question: “Will God let me sit in my pain?” This is huge, because if we don’t trust God to meet our need that we’re crying out to be met, then we will not want to give up our idol. I love what she said at the end of the video, that “He was like a salve to my pain, and I learned that I could trust Him with my pain.” This is like in The Songs, where His name is like a soothing ointment, a salve.

 

3. What need was Rachel trying to meet and how did she both repent and run toward God?

 

Rachel asked herself the questions, “What do you trust, what do you fear?” When she had stress or a problem, she found herself running to her computer – to Facebook, the internet, checking emails, searching for information on how to fix certain problems in her life. During Lent, she decided to fast from doing this, and run instead to God by reading His Word, listening to music, praying. She realized that idols can be invisible.

 

4. Read Isaiah 58:1-5

 

A. What is the contradiction in the lives of the Israelites according to verses 2-3?

 

They appear to be seeking God, eager to know His ways, asking Him for wisdom, eager to experience His presence, fasting, acting humble. These all appear to be the right things to do, yet God says of them that they do these things as if they were a nation that does what is right. In reality, they have forsaken God’s commands and they do as they please; they exploit their workers. So they’re just going through the “religious motions”.

 

B. How is it possible to spend time in church, in the Word – and yet “seek our own pleasure”, oppressing others, enslaving ourselves, and grieving God?

 

It’s possible because our hearts are deceitful and wicked beyond belief. We/I can be so blind to our/my sin, self-deceived, playing at being a Christian while the heart is in full rebellion against God. I also think it happens because there can be a disconnect between what we consider our spiritual lives, and then everything else – how we treat our families, what we do in private, how we may do our paid jobs, what we watch on TV, look at on the Internet, how we speak, our thoughts and attitudes. Not realizing that you cannot disconnect the two, as if you live and move in two separate worlds; they are enmeshed. In Isaiah, that’s why the people could exploit others and do as they pleased in their homes or “private lives”, and yet still do spiritual things. That’s why I can go to church and then come home and be nasty to my husband when he doesn’t meet my needs.

Reply

5. What insight does James 1:22-25 give into how to overcome the error of impotent Bible study?

 

I like this: “impotent Bible study”….I’ve sure done that. It’s so easy to learn and gather more information and knowledge, as James says is “merely listening to the word”. I looked up the definition for “impotent”: unable to take effective action, helpless or powerless; ineffective, inadequate, weak, feeble, useless, worthless, futile. It’s like James says, “Now here’s a novel thought – why don’t you do what it says?” He says to look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue to do this”….I know for myself I can have a million things on my mind and get so distracted that I can have trouble later today remembering what I read and answered here this morning. Maybe even an hour later. The key here seems to be focus and to come back to it again and again. Maybe I need to write some things down on a card, or on my lunch break at work return here to re-read, or in the evening. I wish I could get it all absorbed quickly and one time, but my mind doesn’t retain it that well. James says “not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it”. So the action seems to reinforce the truth. Wow – you could spend all day just dissecting these few verses!

    Reply

    I always love and grow from your meditations, Susan.

Reply

8. Read Isaiah 58:6-7. What illustration does God give of the fruit that can come from truly depending on Him?
 
My life would be evident of my desire to be free of bondage from sin and it will be my desire for others as well. It will be self-sacrificing and considerate of needs around me in capacities of generosity.
9. Read Isaiah 58:8 and find the promise for those who endeavor to turn from their sin and walk in the light?
your light will break forth like the dawn,     and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you,     and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Walking in the light will result in others seeing Jesus in me.
 
10. What fruit might come from your life this Lent is you can replace your bad habit with a habit that is pleasing to the Lord?
Generosity without need for reciprocation
A peaceful pace rather than an hurried and harried one.
 
Intimacy with God

Reply

I am hoping it’s not too late to join in the lenten series!

    Reply

    Not at all, Kelli J — so glad to have you!

Reply

11. Read Isaiah 58:9-12 and find the promises of open communication and intimacy with God. 
 
Wow-the promise of being a good witness for God, His guidance, fruitfulness and of being a person to stand in the gap to bring others to wholeness in Christ.
12. Compare this to 1 John 3:18-22. What parallels do you see with Isaiah 58:9-12?
 
When we know what is true and right and do it, we please God and He will give us His presence and His blessings.
13. If you have had a measure of victory over a heart idol in your life, share how it has impacted your life and intimacy with God.
 
2/16/18 Woke up this morning and was just keenly aware of the circumstances in my life yesterday. Whereas in the past, I would have fretted over the lack of control I felt, I have experienced a Philippians 4:7 kind of peace-a peace that passes all understanding. And I can only attribute that to a closeness or growing intimacy with God. Instead of an oh no! in my spirit, I could say, you and I, Lord. Apart from you, I can do nothing. But with you, nothing is impossible. And along the way, He has brought me a new colleague who has just blessed my heart and her room is next door to me!

    Reply

    Yay Bing! Wonderful!

Reply

I just noticed these were down here…I started this last Sunday and it has already been a real eye opener for me.  Replacing my heart idol…wow, never thought of it that way but it makes perfect sense!  So looking forward to gaining intimacy with my Lord!!

    Reply

    Welcome, Sharon. Yes — the concept is so helpful!

Reply

15. We have only just begun, but have you experienced any measure of “delight” yet at turning from your idol and turning to the Lord?

Well, I decided to go ahead and schedule our dance group for dancing our Good Friday service. I went out on a limb and people responded in agreement! It has been too long. We are rehearsing on Thursday nights and Sundays after church. Last night we had 6 dancers show and had a lovely session together :) We are dancing to Craig Courtney’s “Thy Will Be Done.” Very moving, and yes, delightful in the midst of great pain in my life right now. Here is a sweet high school choir singing the piece.

 

https://youtu.be/4Re917E-a2o

 

 

 

    Reply

    I’m so glad to hear that you are took the initiative to lead in dancing on Good Friday, Laura. And what a powerful song! Chills! I hope you will have it recorded and post it so we can see it! May God bless your courage and efforts!

      Reply

      ♥️

    Reply

    Laura, can’t wait to see your dance! The girls are getting “Lord of the dance” although I would say, the movements and the lyrics are probably as much for me as they are for the kids. I have almost memorized the lyrics and thinking about doing little devotional times with the 7 girls each time we practice. They are doing the dance either on March 25th or April 1. Thank you so much!

      Reply

      So happy about this Bing! The girls have put their own flavor to it I’m sure. It will be a blessing to God and that is what counts 😘. I like the devotional idea. Let me know how it goes!

Reply

11. Read Isaiah 58:9-12 and find the promises of open communication and intimacy with God. – When we communicate with the Lord, he will hear us and answer us. Our darkness will turn to fresh days if we stop pointing fingers and blessing will be pouring over us.
 
12. Compare this to 1 John 3:18-22. What parallels do you see with Isaiah 58:9-12? – that along with asking and speaking to God we need to also do what His Word is saying but from the heart. He will know if He is bigger in our lives then others. From this we will receive what we ask for.
 

 
13. If you have had a measure of victory over a heart idol in your life, share how it has impacted your life and intimacy with God. – I’m still working on the one I put up for Lent, but earlier in the year I released I guess control of my attitude and I can say that my responses are not as harsh and I am eager to get into His Word more, which is only bringing me closer to Him each day.
 

 
14. Read Isaiah 58:13-14 and explain how we are to look at the Sabbath, especially noting the repeated commands. – We ARE NOT to do what we what to do, but refrain from doing anything and just honoring the Lord and His Day. We need to enjoy worshipping the Sabbath and do it honorably. When we do this we will find joy in the Lord and will inherit the kingdom’s blessings.
 

Reply

Dee, we loved hearing about authenticity and idols at the Crossroads retreat!!  Looking forward to this Lenten journey with you.

    Reply

    Kathy — how fun to see you here!

Reply

Will finally try to post…

4. A.They act like a righteous nation,yet they were fasting to please themselves, while continuing to fight and quarrel.

B. We are often no different, seeking our own pleasure. We need to examine ourselves.

5. The insight in James we know is to be a doer of the word, not deceiving ourselves.

6. The need I am trying to meet independently of God seems to be security.

7.I will try to replace my control idol by turning to God: to pray, to work actively on scripture reading and memorization.

8. The illustration that God gives of fruit that can come from truly depending on Him is to share with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house.

9. The promise for those who endeavor to turn from their sin and walk in the light?

Your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

10. What fruit might come from your life this Lent?

I am hoping that I will seek what pleases God and trust Him to guide me when the difficulties overwhelm me. I truly want to forgive and seek to help others.

11. Promises of open communication with God and intimacy with God: The Lord will answer when you call. If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry your light will rise and The Lord will guide you and will satisfy your needs and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden. I love this picture!

12. I John 3:: 18-22 The parallels: As we love with actions and our hearts do not condemn us, we will be at rest in his presence and we will have confidence before   God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands.

The confidence is so key as it signifies the security that we have when we please our Father.

13. Well, I am really not sure that I have had much victory, but I know sometimes I do better at trusting for the things that worry me. The two greatest on my list of fears are health and marital harmony.

14. Isaiah 58:13-14 If you call the Sabbath a delight honor it by not going your own way.

I am still pondering this. I think it means to keep my focus on worship and honoring God, not letting the detractions of everyday hinder me with controversy or gossip.

    Reply

    Good thoughts and heart, Shirley.

Reply

16. One of my favorite posts on Lent is this from Ann Voskamp. Read it and comment: 

 

I normally don’t understand Anne Voskamp’s musings but today was different. I not only enjoyed the photos and writing, I went to her website and printed her Lenten mini- cards to read and guide each day during Lent. So blessed. I encourage everyone to check them out!

Reply

6. Have you identified a common besetting sin or temptation? If you are willing to share, do, so we can pray for one another. Have you identified what need you are trying to meet independently of God?

 

Oh ladies, this is so hard, to narrow it to JUST ONE. The besetting sin that I still struggle with is fantasizing or daydreaming, and I am trying to meet a need for comfort and security. The other “bad fruit” I see in me is FEAR and worry. Most of the time, I try to push it down, but it’s there, lurking under the surface. It surfaces early in the morning when I first wake, and I start to think about my life and the future. I have a lot of fear about the future. I’m sure there’s some approval and affirmation need going on in the daydreaming, but I really feel I have a deep need to feel secure and to have security, and that need, to me, feels so threatened.

I still miss my mom so much, and my dad will be 91 this Sunday, and he keeps saying that he’s ready to go. My daughter and I had a meeting with her college guidance counselor, and we’re starting to think about college and she wants to go away to school. She’s a junior in HS. My sons both moved to other states last May. My husband got a new job which will involve a little bit of travel-international. I am so afraid of being left all alone! My in-laws are approaching 80. I have two sisters and one niece and great-niece. Very small family! My children have been the center of my world for 26 years. When I look into the say, next 10 years, all I see is loss and more loss. I am afraid that I can’t handle life and loss of loved ones and all my children living far away from me. My husband and I are a ways off from being best friends. The daydreaming is sometimes, when my husband disappoints me, I imagine what it would be like to have that “perfect marriage” with someone else, but also I think a lot about the past and memories and try to find comfort in them. Sometimes I turn to food for comfort. Other bad fruit is I lash out at my husband in anger.

 

7. How do you plan to replace the bad habit with a good – and how do you plan to fill yourself with God?

 

I’m not sure….what I described above seems a bit more than just a “bad habit”. I am trying to spend daily time in God’s Word; I’m reading through the Bible this year with a reading plan, doing a daily devotional, doing the study here, and I have also been watching some good FB live videos on Leslie Vernick’s FB site, especially the first one she did this year on “living the intentional life”. She shared a really good tool in which she drew a big circle on a paper, and you decide one or two intentions you want to work on, what are you core values, and what is God calling you to be? Put those qualities in there, even if you’re still working on them. Then, there are two other circles, one for thoughts and one for feelings. She said you never make decisions from those circles. For example, her intention is to get healthy this year and to exercise, but the big obstacle is, “I don’t feel like it”. I am working on setting a couple of intentions in my “big circle”, thinking about the obstacles that will get in the way, and how I can plan to meet them. One of my intentions is intimacy with God, and along with that, to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually whole.

 

I’m also trying to meditate on the truths of Scripture. One night I was thinking about how if God is my portion and my cup, then my cup is never empty, and if I could look into this metaphorical cup, there wouldn’t just be a drop of liquid in it, it would be full to the top, and no matter how much I drink, it never is empty. I know that I need to learn to let God be my comfort and security in life.

    Reply

    I like your illustration from Leslie!

    Reply

    Glad you mentioned Leslie Vernick’s video on living an intentional life, Susan…going to check it out…my word for 2018 is intentionality. :D

Reply

8. Read Isaiah 58:6-7. What illustration does God give of the fruit that can come from truly depending on Him?

 

If I truly depend on God, instead of being needy and needing to get from others, and even trying to control and manipulate my circumstances to get my needs met, I will be able to give of myself and my resources to others.

 

9. Read Isaiah 58:8 and find the promise for those who endeavor to turn from their sin and walk in the light.

 

God promises to heal us. Sin and idols make us sick; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We will walk in righteousness and God will “have our backs”.

 

10. What fruit might come from your life this Lent if you can replace your bad habit with a habit that is pleasing to the Lord?

 

I might experience growth as a person – spiritually, emotionally, to become more mature, and grow in my trust in Him. It would please Him if I would turn to Him for comfort and security and trust Him with my life and future.

Reply

11. Read Isaiah 58:9-12 and find the promises of open communication and intimacy with God.

 

God will hear and answer my cries for help, a spirit of depression and oppression (darkness) will lift, the Lord will be there to guide me and He will satisfy my needs, and my life will be a picture as of a lush garden in bloom. I like the picture of a “well-watered” garden, because often in the summer I don’t water my flowers enough as I should and then they look wilted.

 

12. Compare this to 1 John 3:18-22. What parallels do you see with Isaiah 58:9-12?

 

John says to put love into action, and Isaiah 58:9-12 says to start doing: stop oppressing people, stop your malicious talk, start helping the needy. God knows our hearts and our intentions; He knows we will fail and not do it all perfectly, but He knows when we are really trying to please Him. Then we can have confidence to come to Him and ask for help.

 

13. If you have had a measure of victory over a heart idol in your life, share how it has impacted your life and intimacy with God.

 

A few years ago when I got a different job at the hospital and had to wear more of “casual business” clothes, I felt at a loss….after years of scrubs and jeans I was “fashionably inept”, so to speak. I was searching online for help in how to choose the right colors, clothing, hairstyles, etc…when I happened upon a certain system (I don’t want to name it here). It showed you how to identify your “type” and then know what colors and styles looked good on you. I spent a lot of time watching videos and reading material on this site, and really started to see that underneath it all was a lot of New Age stuff, and realized that it wasn’t good for me to continue allowing this into my life. But, my heart idol of wanting approval and affirmation said I needed this to look my best, so I continued to dabble in it off and on. Recently I made the decision to get this out of my life for good. In the evenings, I used to spend a lot of time relaxing and watching these videos and such, and knowing that it was time that could be spent reading a Christian book or spending time with God. I felt convicted about allowing a “false teacher” into my life, to influence me, and something I thought was harmless, I realized was harming me and turning my heart towards making beauty an idol in my life. I’m not going there anymore! I see now the lies I was buying into.

 

14. Read Isaiah 58:13-14 and explain how we are to look at the Sabbath, especially noting the repeated commands.

 

The Sabbath is God’s holy day and we are to see it as honorable and a delight. It’s not a day to do as we please, go our own way, speak idle words.

    Reply

    Susan, I read through all of your last three postings and feel such a kindred spirit in some of your struggles. I grew up in a culture that no matter what one’s financial status is, we Filipinos pride ourselves in being neat, tidy and good looking(smile-however one meant by that). So when I came here, it was a struggle to be “in” with the crowd. It got to be where I was buying things that perhaps looked good and trendy but I wasn’t comfortable in them. And then I am kind of like the person in the OT where I buy stuff and then say, I shouldn’t have bought that. Hah! Anyway, I understand that ugly head of approval and affirmation rearing inside of us. I sometimes laugh at the absurdity of it all and realized my significance and security is in God alone. And then I have been finding myself asking for his guidance when I am at the store or looking at a catalog-should I buy this, Lord? Then I put the catalog away and guess what-I end up not buying or forgetting about it! Then when I catch a glance of the catalog again, I thought to myself-nah-I don’t need that after all! Thank you, Lord!

    You are not alone and thanks for sharing your struggles. We are beautiful inside and out in God’s eyes and He loves us so much. Ann V. musings on Lent is heartwarming. She, too?

    Reply

    Oh Susan, I so can relate. ..sometimes I can get so wrapped up in my appearance, or should I say consumed.  When I actually stop and think about it rationally, I know that appearance is a moving target, what is considered “fashionable” or “trendy” today measured by the world’s standards can completely change tomorrow…think Marilyn Monroe of the 50’s and Twiggy of the 60’s.  And then I think how self-focused it all is…  Yet, the time will come around again where I see someone who I judge as beautiful and/or together and make comparisons noting all the things I am not…such a trap!  I want once and for all to be done with it.

Reply

15. We have only just begun, but have you experienced any measure of “delight” yet at turning from your idol and turning to the Lord?
 
Yes, Psalms 16 has been a balm to my spirit. “Lord, you are my portion and my cup”. I feel His admonition when I am starting to stray (ask myself Dee’s 2 questions), He gives me comfort when I would rather go to something else other than Him, and He answers my prayers beyond what I have expected.

Reply

Friday: Not Perfection but Progress
16. One of my favorite posts on Lent is this from Ann Voskamp. Read it and comment: 
 
http://annvoskamp.com/2015/02/why-failing-at-lent-may-be-succeeding-at-lent/
Ann is such a poet-one thing I appreciate about her is she is unafraid to put her feelings into words. Though she starts with wandering thoughts, she always end up being a surrendered woman to God’s work in her life.
Saturday:
17. Reflect on your week. Share any progress or take-away.
That I long for intimacy with God just like everyone else and even though there are rocks getting in the way (thank you, Rebecca), or idols usurp the throne of our hearts (thanks, Rachel) let me not forget that God is with me through the Holy Spirit and that I am awaiting a wedding with my Bridegroom. The preparation for that day while here on earth maybe painful, but the Day will be worth it all!
 
 

    Reply

    :-)

Reply

12. Compare this to 1 john 3:18-22, what parallels do you see with Isaiah 58:9-12?
Both speak to genuineness of heart–doing things for the right reasons, with an authentic heart motivation.

14. Explain how we are to look at the Sabbath.
We are to look at the sabbath as a holy day.
In my daily bible reading, I was in Mark 2 yesterday…in Mark 2:27 Jesus is quoted as saying, “the sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the sabbath.”

15. Have you experience any measure of “delight” yet at turning from your idol and turning to the Lord?
I have noticed that when I stop and pray for someone, I feel a softening towards them, my thoughts often turn to the realization that I have no idea what they might be walking through or have walked through, how appearances can be deceiving,…my heart is softened and convicted in a good way.

16.  Ann Voskamp…read and comment.
We are all messy and without the Lord we will remain in the messy, thankfully He doesn’t leave us there [in the messy abyss]…love Ann Voskamp’s vulnerability and authenticity.

Reply

The Lenten post of Ann Voskamp is right on, just where I can relate.She started the meal, then remembered she had intended to fast…I bought a muffin, and as I bit into it, I realized the sweetness of the filling and knew I had intended to fast from sweets!

“The purpose of our sacrificing is that we might become more like Christ in his sacrifice.”

“Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God.”

My take away is desiring intimacy with God. To love in actions, not mere words. To lament my sinful and selfish ways.

I will pray to trust when I am afraid, and to pray for one who offends me when I need to forgive, and not to harbor the negative feelings.

Leave a Comment

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

Name (required)
Email (required)