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Two Months to Victorious Freedom: #1

This year, we have two months before Lent begins, and this blog will be simplified, with less homework, yet I pray, powerful for us. So often we make and break New Year’s Resolutions, because we concentrate on the symptom (eating too much, worrying too much, spending too much) and not the cause. We don’t know how to live the gospel, for the gospel is not just meant to deliver us from the penalty of sin, but also the power of sin. For the next two months, we are going to learn from saints who have experienced victory, many of whom have gone before, saints like Martin Luther, Oswald Chambers, and Charles Peterson. In these few days before New Year’s Day, we will contemplate our helplessness, and areas where we have tried to change and failed. We must first embrace the truth that we are helpless to help ourselves. And then we will dive into Luther’s famous preface to the Galatians, for Galatians is where we are headed, and Galatians helps us overcome the lies about God that cause us to stay in bondage. This year could actually be the year you see progress where you have in the past remained in chains.

Martin Luther had a famous argument with Erasmus, who likened the power of grace to a parent helping a toddler to walk.

Luther said, “NO!” Rather, Luther said, “We are like caterpillars in a ring of fire. Our only help of rescue is from above.”

 

We are wise to look at the lives of those who ran well, who found the power they needed to overcome the lies and the obstacles that cause so many to drop out or give up. Tim Keller put it like this:

Here is a song from Andrew Peterson that I’d love you to pray as you begin this adventure. Pray it for yourself and for the next generation.

Sunday:

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

2. What is one thing you are particularly thankful for from the Advent and/or Christmas of 2018 and why?

The Morning of New Year’s Eve: Reflecting

The insight the Lord has given me is that my New Year’s Resolution needs to deal, not with the symptom, but the real problem. I love the quote from Keller above, and this year my New Year’s Resolution is to continually ask the Lord a line from a song of Sara Groves: “How is it between us, Lord?” That will help keep me in the light, in the Word, and bearing fruit.

3. Where have you wanted to change in the past and failed? Where have you wanted to change and succeeded? Does reflecting on this give you any insight? 

4. Before we begin, do you have any understanding on how embracing the truth of the gospel can help deliver you from the power of sin? If so, share.

 

New Year’s Day, 2018: Beginning Luther’s Preface to the Galatians

This famous preface changed, indeed converted. men like John and Charles Wesley. Tim Keller has abridged and paraphrased it. Print off this pdf, if you have a printer. Then carefully read and underline the first page.

 

The Most Important Thing in the World

5. What is the rock that was shaken by Satan in paradise?

6. Why is Christian righteousness passive in contrast to other kinds of righteousness? 

The Need For Christian Righteousness

7. According to the first paragraph under this sub-head, why do we need to constantly teach this, repeat this, and work it out in practice?

8. According to the second paragraph, what do we tend to do when faced with danger or death itself? And what is the real evil?

9. Share a recent time when you fell into the trap of the real evil.

Wednesday: Law and Grace 

Read the section on law and grace, underlining.

10. How is the law to be used for non-Christians? And how is the law to be used for Christians? (1st and 2nd paragraph)

11. Why should you not despair when you sin?

 

My experience this fall in breaking my hand in pickleball comes to mind. I prayed for wisdom about a doctor, but as I was driving to my appointment, I was overwhelmed with fear that I had made a poor decision. I was living like an orphan, thinking of my failures, assuming God did not guide me. But He whispered to my spirit, “You are not an orphan, you are my child.” I did nothing to become His child so I can do nothing to lose that status. He did guide me, He was with me, and the doctor turned out to be not only a believer, but a good doctor. Whether or not my hand completely heals (but it is healing), God is with me, for me, and will do all things well.

Dee and her friend Lyle — trusting God’s love in adversity! (Our friendTwila posted this on facebook saying we were victims of pickleball but still setting up for Christmas tea.)

12. Can you identify with my story? Do you have a personal illustration?

Thursday: Living the Gospel

Read this last section, underlining.

13. If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie?

14. How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action?

15. Think about a common fear or temptation for you. Now, here, speak the gospel to yourself:

 

Friday: The Wesley Brothers Converted by Luther’s Prologue 

 

Prepare your heart for this article with this hymn by Charles Wesley — one of his most famous! Then read the following brief article.

The Conversion of the Wesley Brothers

16. Share your notes and comments on the above.

Saturday:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. 5. What is the rock that was shaken by Satan in paradise?
    The rock of faith and righteousness in Christ alone…or justification by faith…my righteousness is found only in Christ!
    6. Why is Christian righteousness passive in contrast to other kinds of righteousness? Because it is a free gift…one can do nothing to earn it or by any self-effort gain any ground or “earn points”. 
    7. According to the first paragraph under this sub-head, why do we need to constantly teach this, repeat this, and work it out in practice?
    “Anyone who does not understand this righteousness or cherish it in the heart and conscience will continually be buffeted by fears and depression. Nothing gives peace like this passive righteousness.”
    8. According to the second paragraph, what do we tend to do when faced with danger or death itself? And what is the real evil?
     “Anyone who does not understand this righteousness or cherish it in the heart and conscience will continually be buffeted by fears and depression. Nothing gives peace like this passive righteousness.” We, being human and having a fallen nature, always default to tallying up our own worth as a way to defend ourselves…to make ourselves feel “better than”. “But the real evil is that we trust our own power to be righteous and will not lift up our eyes to see what Christ has done for us!”
    9. Share a recent time when you fell into the trap of the real evil. I a I am in such a time right now…and reading Luther’s words and thinking on these questions has turned on a light for me…I have been living without peace and been buffeted by fears and depression these past few years as never before! I am now wondering if maybe it is because I have come to rely on His righteousness alone for my own sins and known I was utterly helpless to effect any change in my own life…Satan does not rest easy when Christ is gaining ground and being glorified. But he is crafty…so he has been using my husbands behavior to “undo” my dependence on Christ alone and brought me to a place where my idol of control has been thriving…I have been desperately trying to control my husbands behavior! If I could not change my life but had to come to the place of total surrender to His grace then my prayer for my husband needs to be that he will do the same…I have been using the law to beat him up rather than using it accurately…

    1. Oh Lucy, you touch my heart as you share so honestly. The idol of control has been mine in the past and it was so embedded that I never had a clue to what was going on in my behavior. Coming close to the Lord has made me see my total dependence on Him.

      The passive righteousness is a mystery ! I must “constantly teach it, repeat it and work it out in practice” myself.

    2. Lucy, your heart inspires me: “I have been desperately trying to control my husbands behavior! If I could not change my life but had to come to the place of total surrender to His grace then my prayer for my husband needs to be that he will do the same.”

    3. seems I fall into those patterns with my husband too. Faith, peace, Joy. serving, can be hard when not reciprocated, prayer has bridged the crevasse. smoothed rough edges. we still have work to do

  2. Wednesday

    10.  How is the law to be used for non-Christians?

    To show how sinful and condemned they are, that they don’t have the power to be righteous before God, to bring humility and give them understanding that they are sinners.

    And how is the law to be used for Christians?

    It is to be used as a guide for our life.  We can use it, not for our salvation, but for His honor and glory, and to lovingly show our gratitude.

    It really helped me to see how the law should not be used…to be accepted by God through obedience, then Christian righteousness becomes mixed up with earned righteousness in our minds (so true).  Trying to earn our righteousness by doing good deeds, we actually do nothing.  We neither please God nor do we honor the purpose for which the law was given.

    11.  Why should you not despair when you sin?

    Because Christ lives, Who is both my righteousness and my eternal life.  In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death.  I’m a sinner in my own righteousness, but I have another life, another righteousness above this life… Christ, the Son of God, who knows no sin or death!!!  Amen!

    Thank you Dee for your response above and this line of questioning to go with this article…very helpful!

  3. 10. Non-Christians aren’t aware of their sin except by the law which convicts them of their wrongdoing…..How the law is to be used for Christians, since we have made the covenant believing we are Christ’s gift of forgiveness, the purpose 0f following the law is because we honor and glorify in what is holy and good and though we may sin, our sins are pardoned and we aren’t condemned by them.

    11. We shouldn’t despair when we sin because Jesus took our sins with Him to the cross, knowing his destiny, he frightfully~ bravely suffered as a lamb to the slaughter. He loves us so and forgives us because we know not what we are doing and he can see the gift of eternal life and obedient to the Father for us, gives it back to us which was reverses the garden of Eden.

    12. A very profound personal illustration is back when I was raisin my four boys, single mom. My Ex was in jail as a pediphile (now deceased…another story). My sexuality was always calling at my door when I felt I needed a relationship with a man to feel complete. And it seemed when I let myself believe a man to be committed to me, there was my sexual sin then again I was in despair. As God’s child and continually praying for deliverance. The several times I fell back again and had to pray out of it he was patient with me. Blessing and cursing, example after i got pregnant with my daughter, there was a day i felt outer darkness for my non-obedience once again of being loyal on my end to live holy.  A co-worker, Christian friend of mine prayed with me in a letter and my daughter to be…I keep it in my Bible. I saw His light again nd condemnation of the enemy lifted. 2-X’s again I fell into that sin. On my Emmaus retreat and further Christianing with the elements and prayer?support, I began daily Bible study and began praying for my children, three of the boys, troubled teens; changes began happening t me and them, I stayed Chaste for the 6 years until I married my current husband. It was a challenge a few times but I leaned on God with the word was blessed in His Light.

    I’m still on vacation today, but tomorrow, I can still follow study, but likely wont have as much time to fill in blogs, will be shorter…I too have been involved awhile back Dee in your Women of Moderation, and headed up the Bible Study with my church. I was successful with if back then. Life has changed since dating my husband and marrying and menopause, feeding my husband and daughter are new challenge to me and my weight has skyrocketed with all the new health education and lack of time and committment with continued job and pressures has made that aspect very difficult for me. I just wanted to relate with a few of the other women and what I suspect are their recent challenges similar to my experience. Maybe I can find a way back to the Eating plan, half meals etc. help my body to adjust to eat less, coupled with the 9 amino acids I now drink helping my energy levels without nervousness., MyO Health

    Some verses from my other daily Bible studies today tie in with todays lessons from Galations.

    Psalm 21:6 ~ You ave endowed him with eternal blessings(David) and given him the joy of your pressence.

    Phil 4:4 Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again, Rejoice!

    John 14:3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, that you will always be with me where I am.

    Eph 5:15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

      1. I can still hear your sweet voice Dee, while speaking, Women of Moderation and purity bible study with Kathy Troccoli

    1. Kelly…I so appreciated your encouraging word the He is patient with us when we continue to return to our sinful ways! I also needed the reminder of the power of prayer to change the hearts of those around us…even family members ;-)

      1. sometimes the changes my boys made big mistakes to turn a corner, but also God blesses us when we change, and then they recognized it was Him saving them from cruel fate.  I still have a wayward son, I’m clinging to “when he was a child I took him to the Lord and maybe someday he will return with conviction”

        1. My boys aren’t walking with the Lord Kelly, my prayers for them echo yours, they need rescue from above too.

    2. Thank you for sharing your testimony.  I love it and celebrate your wins!!!  I have a friend with a similar story but she has not been able to break free yet. I can’t always relate to her situation but I have very real areas that I struggle with.

  4. 10. How is the law to be used for non-Christians? And how is the law to be used for Christians? The law is to show the non-Christian how impossible it is for them to keep and how they fall short.  For Christians, the law is a guide to honor God.
    11. Why should you not despair when you sin?  The free gift of God is liberating.  God knows we are going to miss it and he desires the intimacy with us to meet our needs and restore our peace.  A great picture is when our child is truly sorry with eyes brimming with tears for a mistake, bad behaviour and letting us down.  There is nothing I want more than to comfort, encourage and reassure them everything will be ok.
    12. Can you identify with my story? Do you have a personal illustration? One of my greatest struggles in times where I need God in my everyday life to make a decision or give specific direction is the feeling that though God is faithful all the time, I might miss his direction because I am imperfect and fall short.  I am learning to saw is I miss it and make a mistake is is ok.  God can redirect me.  There is grace if I blow it.  I always find that I am hard on myself unnecessarily.  

    1. Tami, your posts have been resonating with me..I am really enjoying reading everyone’s posts this morning! Wow has God given us much wisdom and encouragement here. You don’t realize how you have encouraged me this morning Tami, in regard to decisions when I blow it: He will re-direct me..There is Grace if I blow it. :-) I know these are simple Gospel truths I should “have down” by now….but to grow in living the Gospel is a completely different story! We so need to be reminded over and over.

      1. I am so  glad Rebecca!  We truly need each other to grow and move forward. I need to hear how the Spirit is speaking to my brothers and sisters. It is so encouraging!

  5. 1.  What is the rock that was shaken by Satan in paradise?
    Justification by faith. Not by works, thank you God!
     
    2.  Why is Christian righteousness passive in contrast to other kinds of righteousness? 
    We do not have to do anything. Jesus did everything for us.
    Three others are considered active
    a.     civil righteousness public laws
    b.    cultural family
    c.     ethical righteousness from Ten Commandments
    The Need For Christian Righteousness
    3.  According to the first paragraph under this sub-head, why do we need to constantly teach this, repeat this, and work it out in practice?
    It is so easy to fall into the trap that I have to earn my righteousness and not to remember we are justified by faith ALONE.
     
    4.  According to the second paragraph, what do we tend to do when faced with danger or death itself? And what is the real evil?
    We try to examine our worthiness good deeds vs errors and sins and wrongs.
    The real evil is trusting our own power to be righteous and will not lift our eyes to see what Christ has done for us-forgiveness of sins by grace, offered free of charge in Jesus Christ.
     
    5.  Share a recent time when you fell into the trap of the real evil.
    Doing all things “right” so God will answer my prayers
    Or patting myself on the back for having done a “great” job responding to irritations and feeling that I am better than others in doing so. I earned points with God! Oh, my-what an evil thought.
    Have mercy on me, O God. Every right thing I have done was only possible through Jesus’ enabling.

  6. The Most Important Thing in the World
     
    5. What is the rock that was shaken by Satan in paradise? – The doctrine of justification through faith. When Satan deceived our first parents.
     
    6. Why is Christian righteousness passive in contrast to other kinds of righteousness? – Our Christian righteousness is passive because we do not have to do anything for it. We don’t have to give anything to get it, we just get it. It’s ours free and clear. 
     
    The Need For Christian Righteousness
     
    7. According to the first paragraph under this sub-head, why do we need to constantly teach this, repeat this, and work it out in practice? – It has to be repeated because as Christians we don’t understand that it’s ours, it’s free, it’s given to us because we are His. When we don’t get this concept we stumble and fall under pressure or fear.
     
    8. According to the second paragraph, what do we tend to do when faced with danger or death itself? And what is the real evil? – We look at our own worthiness and when we come to the sins we’ve done, we doubt we are righteous. The real evil is that we trust our own power to be righteous and don’t remember the good the Lord has done for us.
     
    9. Share a recent time when you fell into the trap of the real evil. – I’m not sure if this is what you are after, but I had applied for a position at Kids Alive International and felt deep down that I was qualified for the position and felt a peace come over as I submitted my resume and cover letter. The shock to me, was I didn’t even get an interview, though one email I received implied that I would. I was upset at God for a bit, and questioned him ‘why Lord’. I came back to the place where I put my trust back to him to see that there is a reason that he stopped it from happening. I don’t know what it is yet, but I know from past experiences, that He has worked it out for my good.
     

    1. Julie, I’m sorry to hear about that job…I remember your posting about that and knew you wanted it!

  7. Wednesday: Law and Grace 
     
    Read the section on law and grace, underlining.
     
    10. How is the law to be used for non-Christians? And how is the law to be used for Christians? (1st and 2nd paragraph) – This section was a bit confusing to me, but as a non-Christian the law will show how sinful and condemned you are, and to be humbled by the law to understand they are sinners. As Christians we can use the law for His honor and glory and for us to show our gratitude to him in love.
     
    11. Why should you not despair when you sin? – Because Christ LIVES! He is both my righteousness and my eternal life. I have a life in Him, the Son of God, who never sinned and knew no death, He is my eternal life.
     

  8. 10. How is the law to be used for non-Christians?

    For non-Christians the law is to be used as a mirror of sorts to help them see that there is absolutely no way that they can attain righteousness on their own…none of us can keep the law!  The law for them is a tool of humbling showing them the depths of the sinfulness and helplessness.

    And how is the law to be used for Christians? (1st and 2nd paragraph)

    The law, rightly at work in the life of a Christian, is a guide for life as opposed to being a set of rules for attaining right standing with God! The law, in the hands of the “passive righteous” is a way to reflect God’s infinite glory and grace and a way to live out our gratitude to our Savior.

    11. Why should you not despair when you sin?

    There is no need for me to despair because Christ, my eternal righteousness and life…lives! In His righteousness there is no sin, no fear, no guilt, and no fear of death. 

    Can you identify with my story? Do you have a personal illustration? 

    I have felt the Lord’s leading me to learn how to praise Him even when it doesn’t make sense from a human perspective. In that light, he has used Ann Voskamp’s books in a special way. One night I was alone and feeling sorry for myself in my loneliness and decided to praise Him for all His many blessings. After a special time of prayer and praise…my son called “out of the blue” and offered to take me out to dinner! I was fully aware that this was not my “reward” from God for “good behavior” but was simply Him being free to show me how much He loves me.

  9. 13. If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie?
    The only place my confidence can lie, outside of Christ, is in my self! Self-righteousness can never withstand the judgment of a holy God.
    14. How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action?
    Luther tells us to learn how to “speak the gospel” or good news to our own hearts. We must learn to use Scripture to preach grace to ourselves. 
    15. Think about a common fear or temptation for you. Now, here, speak the gospel to yourself:
    Lord, you know how bleak things look right now. But, Your word says that You have come to break the power and reign of sin…even for a Pharisee like me! In Your infinite wisdom, You are working all things for my good and Your glory. If I could fix my marriage then who would have the glory? Lord, forgive me for all my efforts to usurp Your place! I dedicate my heart this day as the seat of Your power from which I ask You to reign as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in righteousness and peace…for You have said that my body is Your temple…Amen.

  10. 10. How is the law to be used for non-Christians? And how is the law to be used for Christians? The law is to show those that think they can achieve righteousness that they cannot, to humble them to see the truth: they are sinners. However, we ourselves as humans cannot force conviction from the law onto someone, only represent and speak truth and make room for the Holy Spirit. The law is not a hammer for our hands, it is a melting tool in God’s hands.

    For the Christian It it is the “greatest guide for your life.”

    11. Why should you not despair when you sin? Because, unlike our default thinking would insist, it does not change our status of “love, forgiven, and saved.” “Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life.” So much changes in this world when I fail: I lose friends, I lose favor, I lose relationship… but I do not lose Christ nor God’s love for me. Salvation is not an ongoing race where my rank is always changing and I have to try to keep pace to stay in the top 10. It is an identity, a covenant. Just like my sons will ALWAYS be my sons regardless of how bad they behave! It’s who they ARE. (Not arguing for bad behavior…)

    1. The law isn’t a hammer for our hands, but a melting tool for God’s hands. I like this metaphor

    2. Jill I am saving your answer to #11 :)

  11. Thursday

    13.  If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie?

    Our confidence will lie in our our own work.

    14.  How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action?

    We need to exercise ourselves continually, building our confidence on the work of Christ, through study, reading, meditation on the Word and prayer, so in times of trial we’ll be able to both inform and comfort our consciences and others, to bring them from law to grace, from active/works righteousness to passive/Christ’s righteousness.  We need to learn to “speak the gospel “ to our hearts when the law creeps into our conscience.

  12. 13. If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie? Our confidence will lie in our works. There is no middle ground we either rely on Christ’s righteousness or our own works righteousness.

    14. How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action? I must “speak the Gospel” to my heart  He also charges me to “exercise continually in these matters through study, reading, meditating on the Word, and prayer so that in times of trial I may be able to inform and comfort your conscience to bring it to the LAW OF GRACE.”

    15. Think about a common fear or temptation for you. Now, here, speak the gospel to yourself. Child, do you not know who you are?! You are freed from the tyrant of disapproval by your adoption to the King! He has sealed you in HIS love which buffets all others. You can rest broken or whole in Him, it does not matter for His hands hold either way. He does not drop that which He has taken hold, He does not leave behind that which He has carried. Soul! Lift up your face, humbly receive His Grace, mercy, and favor. Let Him love and lead you, not because your have earned it or achieved first place but because He chooses to, it pleases Him, as can you in service and obedience in response to His love.

    1. Love your prayer Jill…you can rest broken or whole in Him, it does not matter for His hands hold either way!

    2. Just curious, is this Jill with AJ from the Murfreesboro Oasis?

      1. Nope -sorry!

  13. Thursday

    15.  Think about a common fear or temptation for you.  Now, here, speak the gospel to yourself.

    Since loosing my first child to SIDS I’ve always had a fear of loosing another child (it comes and goes).   

    Dear Lord, as this fear creeps into my conscience may I be reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  The verse that keeps coming to my mind is Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ never the less I live.  Yet NOT I but Christ lives in me.  And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the FAITH of the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”    Thank You for imputing to me Your righteousness and eternal life.

    I’d like to share that I have know this verse for many years and the light bulb went from being dim to becoming brighter in my understanding of it.  God is good!

    1. At the hospital today with Philip so I’m not sure my post will make it, but I wanted to try to respond to Sharon–I am so sorry for the loss of your child, I don’t know if you’ve shared that here before and I missed it, but that is such a painful tragedy. I love your prayer and how Galatians 2:20 has become even brighter to you :)

      1. Thank you so much Lizzy.  I may of mentioned this, not sure.  Both of my children are adults and married now, but the fear is still there and has carried over to my grandson.

        I hope everything is ok with Philip?

  14. 13. If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie? 
     

    Our confidence will lie in ourselves; our own works.

     
    14. How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action? 
     

    We need to study the Word and pray continually so we are equipped with this knowledge when the devil/earthly issues rear its/their ugly head(s) and we need armor.

     

     

    “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”

    ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:13-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    http://bible.com/59/eph.6.13-15.esv

     

  15. One of my favorite confidence builder!!!
    Wednesday: Law and Grace 
    Read the section on law and grace, underlining.
    1.  How is the law to be used for non-Christians? And how is the law to be used for Christians? (1st and 2nd paragraph)
    To be expounded in force.
    I love this!- We can use the law, not for our salvation, but for His honor and glory and to lovingly show our gratitude.
    2.  Why should you not despair when you sin?
    Halelujah for this confidence! Jesus is at the right hand of the Father not to judge us but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness our salvation!
    Although I still sin, I don’t despair, because Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life. Amen and Amen!
     
     

  16. 13. If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie? We will rely on ourselves.
    14. How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action? We need to be  in prayer, in the word and actively walking in the fullness Jesus freely gives us so that in challenging times we may know the truth for ourselves and be ready to share it with others.
    15. Think about a common fear or temptation for you. Now, here, speak the gospel to yourself. You are not an orphan.  You have been bought with a price.  You are not without strength because the greater one lives in you and seeks to show himself strong on your behalf.  You are not alone because He never leaves you.  You have all the counsel that is necessary because He has given you the Counselor. Seek rest for your soul by humbling yourself, looking to Him, for He is our peace and He will exalt you over your circumstance.

  17. 15. Thank You Jesus, for your giving of Yourself. Thank You for sitting next to God and interceding on my behalf. I don’t deserve it, but there You are, caring for me although I am blemished. The world is an awful place. I despair at the problems my family members have created for themselves (including me). We are just a miserable people. The only hope we have is You. The devil “prowels” waiting to pounce and then when he does we cave. We are broken. We need You Lord. There is no other way; please help us. Amen.

  18. 16. The brothers were humble enough to know they needed saving. They searched out those they thought could help them understand. They (Charles, specifically) initially thought their good “endeavors” (works) were sufficient but were quickly re-directed to the idea of grace. It was reading Luther’s doctrine on the justification by faith in Christ alone on Pentecost Sunday that converted Charles. He described the conversion as a warmth inside and he knew God was changing his heart to believe. He said he found “rest to his soul.” He claimed he was in a “new heaven and earth.” He began preaching this but was not well received in the long-standing Anglican churches. The new “Methodists” formed their own groups and were more successful (I presume? The article cuts off but I was a Methodist so I’m guessing their churches stuck (!)).

  19. My entire content vanished. Have Love in the Lord today, creamate enemy advances Joy and peace of our Father, Amen

  20. 13. If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie?
    On ourselves, not on Jesus finished work.

    14. How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action?

    1. To study, read and meditate on the word and prayer remembering the differences between His righteousness & my works/righteousness so that I can inform and comfort myself and others.

    2. Learn to speak the Gospel to my heart. When the law creeps into my thoughts learn to use arguments of the Gospel against it.

  21. 16.  The conversion of the Wesley brothers. Depending on the time frame in history, and the area a person lives, the words used to explain the happening of conversion changes. The Wesley brothers used ‘strangely warmed’ and ‘at peace with God’. Forty years ago people talked about being ‘born again’. Still today people will ask if you have been ‘saved’. Someone once asked me to speak to a friend they were concerned about, if she really understood what being saved meant. When I asked her to tell me about her relationship with God, her voice changed, and she talked about how He was always with her, and was her friend. That wouldn’t have been enough for some, but it convinced me of her salvation. I think for me, it is akin to how do you know you exist. You just know it. And when I came to Jesus, that is what it was like. From that moment on, I knew I belonged to Him. Because it is so difficult to explain, over the course of time the meaning gets lost and people start to think or act as if the motions are enough. Core beliefs get watered down or altered, until it hardly matters at all. That is both scary and sad.

    makes me think of the verse that says someday we won’t need to urge people to know the Lord, because everyone will.  But for right now, we still need to be midwives, helping bring others to that new birth Jesus talks about in John 3.

  22. 8. According to the second paragraph, what do we tend to do when faced with danger or death itself?  

    We want to explain or atone for our behavior, we know we don’t measure up. 

    And what is the real evil?

    I read the whole thing through before coming back to the questions and this line was what I highlighted:

    “But the real evil is that we trust our own power to be righteous and will not lift up our eyes to see what Christ has done for us…”

    I feel the truth of this statement, I so want this penny to drop a little deeper in me, I want to remember to lift my eyes quickly!

    I sent the paraphrase to two of my friends this morning :)

      1. a song I heard today, In the valley, the only way is to look up, So keep us in the valley so we always look up

  23.  Share your notes and comments on the above.

    I have always loved the hymn Amazing Love. This morning the following phrase stood out to me “Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night…My chains fell off, my heart was free,
    I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

    That stanza reminded me of the words of Paul in Acts 26:29 where Paul was talking to king Agrippa and said…“I would to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”

    King Agrippa could sense a freedom and confidence in Paul that was not of this world! It was as if Paul was the one who was free and Agrippa was the one who was bound!

    In the article on the Wesley brothers I could relate to the conversation between Charles and the Moravian Peter Bohler…”Do you hope to be saved? He replied, ‘I do!’ ‘For what reason do you hope it?’ ‘Because I  have used my best endeavours to serve God.’

    I too often find myself bound in the chains of using “my best endeavors”to serve God when all He wants is for me to empty myself of all but love! We are to Be still and know…

     

  24. 5. What is the rock that was shaken by Satan in Paradise?

    The rock is what we call the doctrine of justification by faith.

    6. Why is Christian righteousness passive in contrast to other kinds of righteousness?

    It is passive, not active, because we do nothing for it and we give nothing for it. We only receive it from God.

    7. According to the first paragraph under this sub-head, why do we need to constantly teach this, repeat this, and work it out in practice?

    Because even Christians do not completely understand this passive righteousness, and do not make use of it when troubled or tempted. Not understanding it also leads to being troubled by fears, depression, and lack of peace.

    8. According to the second paragraph, what do we tend to do when faced with danger or death itself? And what is the real evil?

    When faced with danger or death, we begin to examine our own worthiness by first recounting all of our good deeds, but soon our memories of sins and flaws will surface, and we then want God to spare us so that we have more time to make things right. We want more time for active righteousness. The real evil is that we are still trusting in our own power to be right with God and not looking to Jesus and what He has done for us, the forgiveness of our sins by grace, offered freely to us.

    9. Share a recent time when you fell into the trap of the real evil.

    Recently, I reflected back on my life; I’m 54, so more than half of my life is already over. I look back at the “wasted years” before I knew the Lord, comparing myself to others who belonged to Him since they were very young, and these others seem to me to have been so “good”, and I was so bad, not coming to faith until my late 20’s. I wish I could have a re-do and make difference choices. Why do I think that? Maybe that God would see me, too, as “good” or love me more? What I’m really doing is looking to myself for being presentable to God.

  25. 10. How is the Law to be used for non-Christians? And how is the Law to be used for Christians?

    For the Christian, the law is to be used as the greatest guide for your life, and for His honor and glory and to lovingly show our gratitude to God.  It is never to be used as if we could be accepted by God through our obedience to it.

    For the non-Christian, the law must be used to help the person understand that he or she is a sinner and under God’s condemnation.

    11. Why should you not despair when you sin?

    I am not to despair when I sin because yes, in this life I am a sinner (in my own righteousness) but I have another life, another righteousness which is in Christ, and He is my righteousness, and He lives.

    12. Can you identify with my story? Do you have a personal illustration?

    Yes Dee, I can identify with your story! You had a broken hand and were on your way to an unknown doctor; I can identify with that questioning of “did I make the right choice”? And feeling as if you’re all on your own to sort things out. Only a couple weeks after my mom died, I was driving to work when a light lit up on the dash and my car slowed down and I couldn’t go faster than about 40. At first, I felt overwhelmed and terribly alone in the world…what was I going to do? My husband was at work, suddenly I missed my mom and started to cry. I wasn’t too far from the garage when I usually took my car, so I drove it there, they took it right in, and they have a man there who it is his job to drive customers back home or wherever they need to go, so he drove me to work and was so pleasant and kind that I felt much better. But all too often when a crisis happens, instead of looking up, I look around and feel alone and like I have to figure this out myself. I like to think that help is even less than a prayer away because sometimes I can’t even pray when a crisis hits.

  26. 13. If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie?

    The only other alternative to having confidence in the finished work of Christ is to build my confidence on my own work.

    14. How does Luther tell us to put this truth in action?

    Luther says we must continually study, read, and  meditate on the Word and pray. Then, in times of trial we will be able to inform and comfort our own consciences….I think he is saying “speak the truth to our soul”. He puts is like this: “Learn to speak the Gospel to one’s heart”. He gives an example of when the law seems to condemn us….we tell the law to get back to its proper place….”Know your place! You are a guide for my behavior, but you are not Savior and Lord of my heart…..so trouble me not!”

      1. Nazarene, which was an offshoot of The Methodist Church.

  27. Friday

    16.  Share your notes and comment on the above.

    Laura and Mary did an excellent job of summarizing the article on the Wesley brothers.  I have always loved the hymn “And Can It Be”…very rich!

    I belong to a church where John Wesley is rather worshipped and what he says is more gospel than the Word of God. I believe that’s not how he would want it.  We had a man in our church that was afraid of dying because he was afraid he had a sin he hadn’t  confessed and had lost his salvation.  I think now, where was he putting his confidence?

    1. Yes, we are merely men(mankind)

  28. 5. The  rock that was shaken by Satan was justification by faith alone when Adam and Eve desired to be like God by their own wisdom and power.

    6. Christian righteousness is passive for we do nothing for it. We only receive it!

    7. Yet we never completely understand it for when trouble comes or we are tempted we have fear and depression. So we continually have to repeat it and work it out. Only then comes peace.

    8 .The real evil is to trust our own power to be righteous. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, our Savior.

    10. The law  for non-Christians is to humble them and show them that they are sinners.

    11. As a Christian the law is to bring glory and honor to God and to show our gratitude!

    I need not despair but rejoice that Christ lives, who is my righteousness and eternal life.

  29. 9. A time I fell into that trap:

    Well, last week I had an experience of despair and depression. I am not sure if it was related to my idol of control. Someone disappointed me and it felt like he turned his back on me after I had extended kindness. I believe my sin was of judgmentalism, anger, frustration. The whole incident was one that belonged to God and not to me. I tried to tell myself that, yet it was hard to accept it with peace.

    I do get caught up with the kinds of righteousness: political, cultural and ethical. they are gifts of God, but not to satisfy sin or to deserve grace.

    I do constantly need to keep my eyes on Jesus, and not people.

  30. This resonates with my biggest struggle – to keep my heart and mind fixed on heaven and my Father who created everything, who has designed me and placed me in the situation I am in today for His purpose. So hard for me to just lean in and not try to work it myself.

    1. when I’m so nervous I feel almost mad, like in a job interview, feeling slap happy; the clue was that it wasn’t God’s plan.

      When I floated into a job situation,  I felt an assurance it was from the Lord.   I’m never so self assured, but long awaited goals. Praying and hard work.  This is one example…Keep praying

  31. I wanted to share this devotional as it fits right in with this study!

    https://mailchi.mp/portcitychurch/devotional-cleanslate?e=d89c74e9f3

     

    1. washed in the blood, I love it

    2. Thanks Sharon, this was good!

  32. 13. If we are not building our confidence in Christ, then we are trusting in our works alone.
    14. I like the way it says my conscience is the guide to my behavior but not the savior of my heart. I get my joy from you Lord, the King of my heart.
    15. Common fear or temptation is to make my husband PAY for being unhelpful and snide about my daughter. But when I release the stinkin thinkin and pray for him and our situation, the Lord not only changes him, but changes me as well! Lord give me the patience to accept what I cannot change, change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Help me to wait & lean in on you Jesus. I know I cannot change him, and sometimes I have to make my requests known to him Lord; but I am not in control. Be my rock of patience Lord and help me be reverent in speech.
    See if my graviator posts and this post doesn’t disappear again, cut and paste, cut and paste
     

    1. Yes, Kelly, so right about getting rid of the stinking thinking! We used to have a pastor who said that all the time. It is very like Dee’s speaking truth to your soul. Two sides of the same coin.

  33. ?My notes:

    doctrine of Justification by faith in Christ alone and New Birth; I like this terminology

    peace with God and rejoice in hope of loving Christ. Charles, “I was in a new heaven and a new Earth.”

    Taken away my sins and saved me from the law of sin and death.

    His Faith in the suddenness of Genuine Conversion is Refreshing!

    The word Apologetics, …Dee, is that Apologizing and making excuses when or God isn’t living up to some ones expectations? ~ The Church to guard against!!!

    Acts16:11-15 I would like Paul baptize someone after such a short exposure to the Christian Message.

    Christ’s sowing and reaping, Matt 13 and Mark  4

    Supernatural process, Not lowering expectation of God’s power in ihe gospel Rom 1:16

    I know several persons in whim this great change was wrought in a dream or during a strong representation to the eye of their mind, of Christ either on the cross or in Glory.    Wow Wow Wow, I was sitting in church once and I raised my hands to beam pouring down on me, I felt such Joy, I wanted to keep my arms up forever, basking!!!!

    I was very impressed with the healings in the salvation army. in Europe.  In the states, the only knowledge in this article was Extreme Joy, singing and Dancing.

    Yesterday post I tried to enter this morning as I recently did 20 min ago, ish… I re read those notes from yesterday and talking about faith and patience, I started to cry, because after writing that I came home from work, frustrated at my husband again, and was not patient. .

    My Bible studies this morning..

    Tim 1:16 Stir up the gift of God which is in you…Fan them

    Neh 8:10 And Nehemiah continued “Go & celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drink and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and say, for the joy of the Lord is you strength…One of my gifts is sharing food with joy!

    Psalm 66:1-3 Shout joyful praises to God all the earth. Sing about the glory of His name! The world about how glorious he is. Say to God, “How awesome ae our deeds, your enemies cringe before your mighty power

    .Psalm 143:8 Let me hear of  your unfailing love each morning for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk for I give myself to you.

    then I got a text from a church group at 5am, just when I needed it to look up

    Phil 4:7-19…I wont quote the whole thing…Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard  your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And my dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true & honorable & right, & pure & lovely & admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me-everything you heard from me and saw me doing. then the God of peace will be with you. How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again…I have learned to be content with whatever I have.

    I lovingly left Steve(hubby) some notes this morning and the air cleared before I came home, Thank You Lord!

     

    1. Kelly, I used to think the same thing about “apologetics” until I did a bit of research on it. It is NOT apologizing for Christianity. Rather, it is the defense of religious doctrine; argumentation or debate, but not apologizing. My son went to Christian private high school and took a class in apologetics. Good evidence to prove to those who may not believe, like the book “The Case for Christ.”

      1. I will have to look o to that more  thx for the reference reading

  34. I so wish I knew how to put a link in here to Ann Voskamp’s blog from yesterday.  She speaks about the new year, and asks …is Jesus the most useful part of your life, or is Jesus the most beautiful in your life?  It just so melded in with what we’ve studied here over and over, to have an overwhelming love and wonder and awe of Him that surpasses everything… The power of an expulsive love, where we get rid of our sin because we love Him so much more. It just hit me so hard, her asking if Jesus is just useful to us. If we are using Him. I have to confess I do a lot of that. Asking Him to help me, to change me, to fix things in my life. While I should be adoring Him, basking in His presence, so in love with Him that I only want what He wants. No matter what it costs me. After all, He loved me so much that it cost Him everything. I am praying for that kind of love for Him.

    1. I havent heard of Ann Voskamp. Bryan Duncan’s music is so worshipful and Jazzy

      1. Hey, thank you so much, Laura! I always need help ….

        1. I know the feeling!

  35.  
    Friday
     
    “After this Wesley followed Whitefield’s example and began preaching both justification by faith and the new birth in the churches. And one by one, the Anglican church leaders resisted him. “

    This stood out to me, several known teachers over many decades, recount stories of encountering God on a deeper level than what they had prior and shortly thereafter they were asked to leave their home church.

    I know people who have incredible relationships with Christ and they will no longer go near a church. If God’s people are uncomfortable and even afraid to go to church how much more non-believers. It’s very sad and disturbing. I know churches have failed, Christians have failed, but Christ has not failed.
     
    I really appreciate all of the time and hard work that everyone puts into the study here. The wisdom and openness, I apologize for not participating every day and only getting a few of each week’s assignments done. Please forgive and bare with me.

     

     

    1. Dawn, am so glad you are here though you say you are only getting of each week’s assignments done. It is OK. I tell that to myself as well as my job as a teacher keeps me busy. I get works righteousness mixed up with Christian righteousness when I can’t comment daily. Then God reminds me that it is not about checking off a list but am I here to pursue and grow in my love for Him and to enjoy godly friendships as well. Jesus, thank you for loving us.

  36. 1.  Can you identify with my story? Do you have a personal illustration?
    Yes. The times when I should have held my words and I didn’t. I felt bad and would dwell on the situation awhile and berate myself. Then God reminded me that He doesn’t love me less just because I failed. Nothing can change His love for me. If I did wrong, I should confess it to Him, accept His forgiveness, forgive myself as well and move on.
    Thursday: Living the Gospel
    Read this last section, underlining.
    2.  If we do not build our confidence in the finished work of Christ, where will our confidence lie?
    On our work.
    3.  How does Luther tell us to put this truth into action?
    When we are in trial, I should be able to inform and comfort my conscience and other to bring us from law to grace, from active righteousness to passive righteousness that only Christ can give. When the law creeps into my conscience, I should speak the gospel to my heart.
    Inform Law that he has no place in my life but only if it honors God and direct my steps. That Law does not sit in my heart and conscience. It is already occupied by Christ.
    4.  Think about a common fear or temptation for you. Now, here, speak the gospel to yourself:
    Lord, I am yours by your sovereign will. Nothing can separate me from you. I have been justified through faith in Christ. He has finished the work needed for my salvation. I can live in faith, not bound by the law. All of my life is grace. Whatever I accomplish, it is by your power. And when I fail, you still love me. I am fearful at times of the future of my daughter, Ruth. I am tempted to worry about her. But you love me and I know you are answering my prayers in her behalf in a way that I may not understand but I trust you. You are faithful always and may the truth of my secure position in Christ be always before me. As Tim Keller prayed, “Lord, you remember me. Help me remember you and who you are.” In Jesus name, Amen.

  37. Friday: The Wesley Brothers Converted by Luther’s Prologue 
     
    Prepare your heart for this article with this hymn by Charles Wesley — one of his most famous! Then read the following brief article.
    The Conversion of the Wesley Brothers
    1.  Share your notes and comments on the above.
    Charles Wesley’s hymn is such a powerful song to remind us of the greatest love of all. I cry to hear the last verse- “No condemnation”-sweet words to me who often times is works oriented. And such comfort to read about the conversion of the Wesley brothers. True conversion can happen suddenly when the Spirit is at work. I so pray that is so for our daughter, Ruth. I believe she is more of a prodigal rather than a lost person. I pray that the Holy Spirit will do a mighty work in her life and heart to bring her back to Jesus. Let the dry bones come alive, Lord Jesus!

  38. Friday- conversion of the Wesley bros.

    Love reading about their radical conversion!  So very insightful for us today – the challenges of the church haven’t changed!  I love a bold approach proclaiming all that Christ has done vs seeker friendly style.

  39. I haven’t written out all my responses as I like to do but I have read, pondered and gleaned this week.
    I will (I think) retain the image of grace being a rescue from above, of the real evil being my unwillingness to yield to and trust in grace.
    I appreciated so much knowing I wasn’t to only one who failed to commit to pray cards!

    I saved Jill’s answer to #11 and this from Bing:
    John of Landsburg’s classic, A letter from Jesus Christ—“Your own strength will no more help you to stand upright than propping yourself on a broken reed. You must not despair of me. You may hope and trust in me absolutely. My mercy is infinite.”

    I love you ladies and this safe place to be

  40. Reread Luther’s preface this morning and my takeaway for the week is this “But the real evil is that we trust our own power to be righteous and will not lift up our eyes to see what Christ has done for us…” This parallels what I have been reading in Ann Voscamp’s 1000 Gifts devotional…”The remedy is in the retina” meaning we must look up and behold what He has done…behold our salvation…behold that which has been lifted up!

    Murmuring, grumbling and complaining open the door for that crafty serpent to unleash his poisonous venom and it is only when I lift up my eyes and fix my gaze on Christ my savior (who allowed my sin to be imputed to His account in order that His righteousness would be imputed to my account) that I can be healed of all my self-righteousness. Then and only then is the rock (foundation) of my world put back in it’s rightful place and I can fully rest in His finished work. I can cease striving and be still and know that He is God and there is no other!

    1. Amen to your takeaway!

      Though I didn’t complete all the questions I have gleaned much. thank you all and Dee

  41. Saturday

    17.  What is your takeaway and why?

    God never ceases to amaze me in meeting me right where I need to be and most of the time I don’t even know it.  It seemed at every turn God was speaking to me this week about “Victorious Freedom” through my devotionals…I shared one of them above and the title of another was,”We are able to stand before God because of the sacrifice of Jesus.”  Another devotional said this, “Having accepted Christ sacrifice, our salvation is signed, sealed and delivered.  No amount of self-effort can make us earn our spot.  Similarly, no amount of slacking on our part can separate us from His love.”  Then driving in the car, Alistor Begg came on and BAM…he too was speaking on it.  This is no coincidence and so Dee, I thank you for being obedient to the Lord’s leading in doing this study.  I also appreciate all the input from everyone here.  It helps to know we’re all on this journey together!

  42. 17.  What is your take away and why?  It is so necessary to be continually reminded that Jesus Paid the full price for our freedom. Daily that needs to be our starting place. Without careful prayer, studying the word, worship and intimacy with God it is easy to shift over to righteous works.  When we begin honoring God through service it is easy to slip over to a feeling of obediently serving to Lord and others with Christian works and that somehow is tied to pleasing/love/right standing with the Lord. Our enemy would like us to live in that place because we become ineffective. We become bound and truly  ineffective in the great commission of reaching others.   It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1).

      1. Thank you Dee!  You came to our church, Gwinnett Vineyard in Duluth, GA, many years ago and did a women’s conference on your book, Friendships of Women. I believe it was 1996 or early 1997. I bought your book Idol Lies a few years back and a dream I had made me pull it off the shelf and begin reading it again. All that brought me to the study this week. I am enjoying it!

  43. I have not been answering the questions on the blog this week, but I have been following along.

    Things have been coming to me from different avenues that bring me back to the theme of this week’s study. This month’s issue of Tabletalk is all about election and how we are justified by Christ because of Christ not because of ourselves, then I got a bible verse from a phone app today that was 2 Timothy 1:9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

    I know that these are not coincidences and that I am being brought back to this repeatedly because I need it to get from my head to my heart.

    1. Oh yes!!  From the head to the heart!!

    2. Not sure if you have read anything by Margaret Feinburg but she uses the phrase “a sacred echo” for those times when God brings the same message to us from different places😊

  44. I feel you Holy Spirit. Back when the Priesthood Levites were only allowed to enter the MOST Holy Place with sacrifices on our behalf, and we had to travel many miles for redemption of our sins, or look toward the mountain. Christ’s sacrifice ripped the curtain and made it available to our hearts.  We can look within for God made a way for carrying Christ with us. Our Joy is with us Emmanuel, for God is with us, trust and believe that nothing can separate us from the Love Of God and to Cast our Cares upon Him for he longs for our attention and worship. I honor you and seek your word daily, drawing on your strength, less of me and more of you, even if  chaos hits the fan, you make a way. I receive because you give. You gave your all that we may follow you and Live. This gives me Joy and Peace. Let my actions reflect the Living Lord of my life. Read Heb.10:19-23. Wonderful Bible Study Dee, Thankyou