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A Power From On High To Rescue Us

If all Jesus Christ can do is tell me that I must be holy,

His teaching only causes me to despair.

Oswald Chambers

This is how Christianity differs from other religions.

Other religions tell you to follow the steps,

walk through the pillars, keep the rules.

And the world does the same, singing to us:

Don’t worry, be happy.  

 

Great advice, if we could do it, but we cannot.

We are drowning, and we need a rescue from on high.

 

Remember, we are, as Luther said, “caterpillars in a ring of fire.”

Our only hope of rescue is from above.

And so the book of Galatians begins, not with good advice, but with good news!

Luther says this verse sums up Galatians.

We know how it works to be rescued from the penalty of sin.

We agree with God that we are sinful,

and repent and receive His payment on our behalf.

But how does this rescue from the power of sin work?

That’s where we are headed.

I’ll begin with an illustration from my life, and then ask you for some of your own.

This will be our drumbeat these two months, for Galatians

was written to rescue us from a multitude of sins.

My Sin: Lack of Genuine Forgiveness from the Heart

When someone hurts me or someone I love, I know God tells me to forgive, but that is not my natural reaction. In “What’s So Amazing about Grace,” Philip Yancey says the reason grace is amazing is because it is not natural. What is natural is to want to hurt back or to withdraw. It is not natural to let it go and to love our “enemy.”

The opening of Galatians shows us that we are prone to believe lies, to “turn to a different gospel,” the spurious gospel that tells us we can save ourselves or help God to save us. One of the lies that I believe when I struggle to forgive, is that I want this person to be dealt with, and I don’t think God will do it the way it should be done. I also think I will feel better if I can justify myself, instead of trusting in Christ’s justification. When I believe these lies, this is my scenario.

I withdraw from that person and nurse my hurt, going over why he/she was wrong, and I was right. I justify myself internally and I imagine conversations with this person that will show him just how wrong he is.

Our own Diane from Canada wrote last week:

 I can relate to Luther’s “Preface to Galatians” where he speaks of people seeking many ways to redeem themselves, defend themselves. The preface is worth several rereads and ponderings. We definitely spend a huge amount of energy justifying ourselves – both to ourselves internally and to others.

So, how can I let Christ rescue me? First, I must admit my need, just as I had to admit my need to be rescued from the penalty of sin. I need to cry out to God from my ring of fire. I know I should forgive but I cannot! Help me, O Lord!

I remember doing this when I was standing in front of my jewelry box, realizing Niki, who cleaned for me, had stolen the emerald jewelry my late husband has given me. I knew the rule: forgive. But I couldn’t do it, so I cried out from my ring of fire. Many of you know this story, and how God brought this scene from Les Miserables to my mind.

With this, God reached down and reminded me of the gospel. That helped melt my heart and I began to forgive Niki. Another woman she had stolen from pressed charges and she went to jail. I sent her a Bible and studies. But I didn’t go see her. I needed more help from above. That happened when I met with her when she got out of jail. I was overwhelmed by the Spirit who did in me what I could not do. I was able to forgive her from my heart, to ask her forgiveness for my hard and unforgiving heart, and lead her to the Lord. The peace and freedom that came was amazing.

 

I am gaining wisdom with this particular sin. I know that when I am hurt by someone, I must make a conscious decision to stop nursing my own hurt. I can do that by melting my heart with how much I have been forgiven, and reminding myself I have a God who will deal with that person. When I do this, freedom and joy comes. Often I must do it repeatedly, but He always helps me. It is, as Eugene Peterson put it, “a long obedience in the same direction.” And eventually, I really do feel free of the burden. I can truly try to be at peace with that person, have compassion instead of hatred, and in time, no matter their response, God does in me what I could not do. He causes me to “let it go!” He will do all things well in His time.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

In the book Educated, the author had to overcome a childhood of terrible abuse. After a mental breakdown she began therapy. She said, “There was not one session that I could look back on and say: “that session changed me,” However, the cumulative effective did heal me.” So often we want a quick change, but I encourage you to stay with this for our two months, for the cumulative effect will lead to freedom.

Sunday:

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

2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

Monday: Rescued from This Present Evil Age

3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully.

4. Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter.

    A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it?

    B.  Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin?

    C. Keller makes a point that he doesn’t say, “according to your merit or righteousness.” What does 

        he say and why is this significant?

Tuesday: A Different Gospel

False teachers had come to believers and told them that they needed to add to what Christ did to be saved — they were being told they also needed to be circumcised and to abstain from certain foods.

5. How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin. They say you need Jesus plus _____________ to be saved (give an example.)

6. Now — let’s make this personal.

A. You are facing a trial, and you feel alone because you think you need Jesus plus your own merit. Speak to your soul.

B. You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are are going to help God deal with him by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in. Speak to your soul.

C. Your life is stressful. To relieve the stress, you think you need Jesus plus (sugar, shopping, sexual immorality, gossiping to another…) How might you flee temptation and speak to your soul, melting your soul with the gospel?

7. Read Galatians 1:6-9

A. Describe Paul’s tone.

B. Why is this righteous indignation?

C. What do verses 8-9 say should happen to a person who preaches a different gospel?

In The Solid Rock, we sing:

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness I dare not trust the sweetest frame But wholly trust in Jesus’ name

8. Apply this to being saved from the power of sin.

    A. Where do you tend to run, other than God, when you are stressed, bored, or depressed?

    B.  Now, in this situation practice melting your heart with the gospel.

Wednesday: Is Your Religion Manmade or from God?

9. What does Galatians 1:10 say? How could this help us stand firm on the gospel?

10. What does Galatians 1:11 say?

Last Thursday we had our first Bible study using SonShip, which is based on Galatians. We have unbelievers in our group. How I long for them to see that Christianity is not a manmade religion, as are all the others. I had prepared these questions if it came up — but it didn’t:

  • Do you think it is possible that some religions are manmade and therefore prone to error?
  • Do you think, if there is a God, that He might be capable of revealing Himself and His truth?

11. What question might you ask those who feel it is wrong to say there is only one way to God and that is is Jesus?

Thursday: Paul’s Testimony

12. Read Galatians 1:13-24 and outline Paul’s testimony.

13. What particularly stands out to you and why?

Friday: Oswald Chambers on “his Son in me.”

Print off and read, underline, and mediate on this one page essay from Chambers:

14. What heredity do we have as believers which makes obedience possible?

15. Why must we come to the end of ourselves to receive this power?

16. What stands out to you from this essay and why?

17. Share a time when you experienced this power at work within you.

Saturday:

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

 

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190 comments

  1. Sunday

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

    So many times we start out the new year looking for advice or ways in how to change or better ourselves.  Sometimes we may stick with it for a few weeks, but then in my experience, it falls by the wayside and we’re back right where we started.  This is why your statement, “And so the book of Galatians begins, not with good advice, but with good news.”  It’s only this “good news” that can really change us… “rescue us from a multitude of sins.”  

  2. Sunday:
    1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Oh, Dee! Your introduction really pierced my heart I started crying. I need rescuing. You, too? A sin of mine is also lack of true forgiveness in my heart many times. Reading your illustration put detailed words to my sin. And the words from Diane is so true in my life. “We definitely spend a huge amount of energy justifying ourselves – both to ourselves internally and to others.”

    From you: “First, I must admit my need, just as I had to admit my need to be rescued from the penalty of sin. I need to cry out to God from my ring of fire. I know I should forgive but I cannot! Help me, O Lord!”

    This is a crucial step which I believe I often skip! I try to do it on my own and then frustrated I can’t do it, rush through it so I can say, “I have forgiven such and such done by _______.” I need to name the cause of my hurt, ask the Spirit to help me not nurse the hurt.

    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

    I totally agree with Eugene Peterson’s  “a long obedience in the same direction”. I have this student who has been a source of frustration for me. All of first semester, I have prayed and struggled within, frustrated I couldn’t seem to get a handle on our relationship. And this may sound petty but he has this cackling laugh that is so piercing and inopportune for the most part. I often give him the look LOL and has talked to him about it. Late in December, I sensed a change in him and most of all a change in me! And this week, they were having just some group time and I heard that laugh again. Granted I was with another group of students, but I realized that laugh did not get a rise from me anymore. And I believe it is the long obedience in the same direction-me asking God to help me be loving and forgiving. In fact, now the laugh is more cute than irritating! Only the Lord can work in my stubborn heart to make this so.

     

     

    1. Bing–love this example with your student. You have such a soft and teachable heart, but I relate to it feeling stubborn!

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

    The concept of “a long obedience in the same direction.” This is huge.

    Also the facial expressions on Jean Valjean’s face as he processed what the victor was giving him… disbelief, forbidden hope, desperation to trust and wish for better  – could a new life be real?! How often do I feel the same time and again reading this Gospel of love that He pursues me, walks with me, guides me … I fail and He is still there and my face mirrors Jean Valjean each time …

     

    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

    My “yet to conquer” stretches out before me so far that I have trouble seeing succes … Ha! But there again I have made it about ME! O God, when will my pride die to self?! He has taught and retaught the Gospel to me …

    i have been a slave to approval for as long as i can remember. Some of it stems from my personality type (a helper type who just wants to help everyone be “ok”) and some of it stems from trauma in my journey thus far. BUT the lie that the power of the Gospel is begining to truly dawn on (for mentally I have known it but my heart has continued to walk the beaten path) is “everyone must like and appreciate you and your contribution or you are worthless.” Indeed, the Liar is so cunning that he will even attach the Divine  to it – you must be liked and appreciated or you are failing God Himself and His plan for you.

    God has begun to work in me – small things in small ways … this is how most of His children serve and it pleases Him.

    1. Jill, I can relate=”I have been a slave to approval…” Me, too. The Lord has been helping me take baby steps to get rid of this idol. Letting it go again and again and again, as Lizzy says below in her own comment.

      What a comfort to know that we here in the blog have common struggles but have a common SAVIOR who will rescue us from our sins and ourselves.

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

    Your humility and honesty about your struggle with un-forgiveness. Your words could have been taken from my prayer journal. Forgiveness, when the wrong doing is not acknowledged, becomes a Romans 7:15 battle for me! But I love this: “when I am hurt by someone, I must make a conscious decision to stop nursing my own hurt.”

    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

    I do see BABY steps in overcoming my sin of un-forgiveness, especially with a few major relationships in my life where there has been much pain and no acknowledgement of wrong. The lies I am slashing in my mind are the ones that say ‘I don’t deserve this!’ or that I am better than them. The truth I am clinging to is that I am absolutely no better than they are, and whatever they have done to me, the Cross was big enough to cover. Also that He is a God of peace, and of justice, and He will take care of it for me. It also helps me to pray for them, I pray for reconciliation, and for truth, and then I let it go, again and again and again.

     

  5. 3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully.

    He is an apostle, appointed by God, through Christ.

    4.    A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it?

    He has rescued us from our sin and the “present evil age”, by giving His life for our sins.

    B.  Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin?

    Recognizing what Christ did for me, giving His life, frees me from the sin of trying to control my own life (or others), because it  is not my life—my life is His, bought with His blood.

    C. Keller makes a point that he doesn’t say, “according to your merit or righteousness.” What does he say and why is this significant?

    According to the will of God. God is Sovereign and His will cannot be thwarted. My salvation comes from Him, not me, it is based on who God is, not who I am, and on what Christ did, not what I have done.

    5. How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin. They say you need Jesus plus _____________ to be saved (give an example.)

    Jesus plus good works/church attendance/Bible study…other disciplines, which are good things, but are fruit of faith, not a requirement to salvation.

    6. Now — let’s make this personal. A. You are facing a trial, and you feel alone because you think you need Jesus plus your own merit. Speak to your soul.

    Father, I have had moments where my “good merits” were questioned and I was accused of things I have not, nor would not, do. You have reminded me in those times, even the most recent devastating one, that my reputation lies in being Yours. You are a shield about me, You are my defense, and my protection.

    B. You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are are going to help God deal with him by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in. Speak to your soul.

    On the Cross, Christ prayed for those who persecuted them, “forgive them, for they know not what they do”. I want to be like Christ more than I want those who hurt me to suffer. You have taken their sin, my sin, You speak forgiveness, I will follow You.

    C. Your life is stressful. To relieve the stress, you think you need Jesus plus (sugar, shopping, sexual immorality, gossiping to another…) How might you flee temptation and speak to your soul, melting your soul with the gospel?

    Just yesterday I was pondering how stressful and just “full” my life feels! But then the thought came that most of my duties are service for others which is where my sinful selfishness gets whiny, but I realized that if my life goal is to be like Christ, and it is, then every time I serve, it is purposeful, it is leading me to my goal—whether it’s laundry, meals, long hospital days with my son, or my job. I don’t need a “relief” from the stress, but rather, re-framing of it to see it’s purposefulness in my life.

     

  6. Sunday:
     
    1. What stands out to you from the above and why? – WOW, the whole thing stood out. How hard it is to forgive when you have been hurt. Like the song says, forgiveness is the hardest thing to give away. Lord I need help in this area. The hurt plays with my mind and the groaning and mumbling start.
     
    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you? – The lies I’m overcoming our those that have been said against me. I’ve been bashed on social media, multiple times, not by name, but those that know the person that said it, know who they are speaking about. This sits heavy on my heart and forgiveness toward this person has not happened yet. The truth that I’m speaking is reminding me how God revealed the truth of something that was said about in years ago. Someone was bad mouthing me, but God had placed my cousin in that exact place at that exact time and defended me against this person. The lie was stopped in it’s tract. God continues to remind me that he is there for me in the lies, he is there for me in the hurting times. He reminds me of that time where the lie about me was stopped. This helps me to know that in time, the truth will be revealed and eyes will be open to that truth.
     

    1. oh Julie–lies and slander are SO hard to forgive, I do know that pain. Praying for you too

  7. 3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully – Paul has authority from God. He was sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father and was raised from the dead.
    4. Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter.
     
        A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it? – He can rescue us from the evil of this world and our sins. It was done by him giving himself for our sins.
     
        B.  Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin? – It tells us over and over that our sins have been forgiven. That we are loved by God and that he will never leave us or forsake us.
     
        C. Keller makes a point that he doesn’t say, “according to your merit or righteousness.” What does he say and why is this significant? – It is according to the will of our God and Father. It is all God, we can do nothing that will make God love us more or less.
     

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

    Galatians 1:4 is a comforting verse and also a challenge. “Our Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.” We so need deliverance from our sins and from this present evil age. And that is why Jesus came and gave himself. Do we really understand the implications of this? Most likely we do not or we only have the slightest glimpse of what this means.

    I am living in that deliverance and living in victory; or am I wallowing and perhaps drowning in my own sin and in this present evil age? Just today, someone from our church was bemoaning the seeming indifference of Christians to the word of God, to own own individual sins and to the evils being perpetrated in this world. Are we so dulled, blinded that we do nothing while the world is dying? Thank God not all Christians are; but in North America it is happening too often. God forgive us.

     

    1. Diane…for me it is not that I am blinded or indifferent to the dying world so much as it is that I am wallowing or drowning in my own circumstances instead of choosing to live in the victory that is mine. Then, I think, what do I have to offer the world when I am not doing so well myself!

  9. 2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

    Bing’s confession of irritation with one of her students triggers a similar memory in me. One of my grandsons that we have in our home regularly tends to push my buttons. His bounce and mischievousness tends to irritate. He seems to be constantly pushing limits. I tend to be a rule keeper. Long story, but the Lord has been convicting me about my attitude toward him and slowly I sense my heart changing, growing in love, in patience. I’m starting to enjoy him more.  Baby steps. I’m praying this continues.

    1. Diane–praying with you now in that situation, definitely sounds hard! but I love how you are turning to Him and seeing your heart soften.

    2. Diane, it is so comforting to find you here. I find as a pastor wife( and you are, too), it is a temptation for me to put up a front and give my audience  a “well put together pastor’s wife”. People expect certain speech and actions from me and it is easy to get sucked into the idol of approval. To be able to acknowledge that I am as sinful as the next person to me and in need of rescue from God is humbling-no works righteousness can ever save me. And the reality that God loves me in spite of myself is such great news and spurs me on to honor Him with my life. Baby steps no matter how small our “progress” is.  I count in Him and for Him!

    3. I will pray for you in this instance Diane. I really understand the patience thing here!

  10. Sunday

    2.  None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming temptation.  What lies are you overcoming?  What truth are you speaking to your soul?  How has God reached down to you?

    My sin:  Critical spirit.  I really struggle with this, because it seems when I take two steps forward with some success, I then take two steps back whenever it creeps back up.  I find myself critical of what people do or how they do them, thinking they should do this or not do that.  I really see my insecurities rear their  ugly head with this sin.  I need approval, that horrible idol, so I think critically of others to make myself look better…ugh😏!  The truth I speak to my soul is or I should say the truth I need to speak to my soul is, the only approval I need is God’s, to know He loves me and put my focus on Him, not on tearing others down.  I feel God reached down to me in just writing this out.  I really don’t think I’ve ever been really honest with myself about this sin!!  I humbly ask for your prayers!

    1. Sharon–I identify with what you wrote along this line ” I really don’t think I’ve ever been really honest with myself about this sin!!  I humbly ask for your prayers!” It is often uncomfortable for me to be honest and name my sin for what it is. I tend to minimize my sin and start comparing it to the “bigger” sins of others. Lord, indeed, have mercy on us.

    2. Sharon, I’m praying for both of us regarding this grievous tendency! I too am so critical in my heart. I love thinking of the passage that says God’s word is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunderor the Somali and spirit…His word can separate even those things that seem to be inseparable…I.e. even my spirit and it’s critical nature!

  11. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? This sentence is what stood out to me…One of the lies that I believe when I struggle to forgive, is that I want this person to be dealt with, and I don’t think God will do it the way it should be done. I am very much stuck in the place of wanting to either hurt this person or to completely withdraw. I want grace but don’t feel like extending grace!
    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation.
    What lies are you overcoming? The lie that forgiving someone is the same as “excusing” them. The lie that if I forgive then everything will turn out just as I want it to. The lie that I can nurse my hurt and still forgive! 
    What truth are you speaking to your soul? God is all powerful-even in this; God is for me and not against me; God alone is wise; God is in control and all sovereign. God can use even this for good.
    How has God reached down to you? He has sent down his son to save me…even from myself. He came to forgive me and has set me free to extend this forgiveness to others. 

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

    That you are focusing in on the particular sin of unforgiveness for it is at the “crux” of our daily life.   Often.  Regularly re-surfacing.  And the original word “crux” in Latin referred literally to an instrument of torture, often a cross.    So, the crux of our life has to do with choosing and living out forgiveness.  The crux (cross) of dying to myself and making the hard choices of forgiveness.

    I am currently reading Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and so it is no coincidence that you mention it here this week.   I believe it was our Lizzy here on the blog that suggested reading it once a year.    So I am finally taking her up on the challenge and have been deeply encouraged.   Thank you Lizzy!

     

     

     

     

     

     

  13. 1.  Dee, when you said “I also think I will feel better if I can…”, that is it exactly. For me, the sentence ends, ..if I am full physically. So I eat more, to feel better. Except I don’t. You talked of forgiveness being a process that took time. And that during that time, you needed to make a conscious decision to stop doing what comes naturally. You do that by reminding yourself you have a God. Then you said you needed to do that repeatedly. Indeed, a long obedience. I just saw a blurb talking about the secrets of learning a new language. The four points were find a way to make it fun, look for the method that fits you, make a plan, and have patience/stick to it. It seems these points also apply to what we are talking about here. I’m a little stymied on the first one, because staying away from food doesn’t sound fun to me. But the others are all well doable.

     

    2.  I can’t say I’ve had any recent successes. But I can list out the truth I need to say to myself: Gal 5:1 it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

  14. Just WOW!  God knew I needed this so much!  I must admit that when I found out 2 weeks ago that we were starting a series on Galatians, I felt a bit disappointed.  But how rich this is already!  I’m just so thrilled that God is still taking time and care to teach me even in my 50’s!  I so much want to learn my lessons before I die!  :)  It is also encouraging to see that I am not the only one that struggles with these issues (idols!) as I often feel that I am the most sinful in all the world. I so much want to be like Lizzy said, to be like my dear Lord Jesus Who forgave even from the cross in His own utmost of suffering!  Thank you so much for this fellowship of grace where we can share our wounds and our sins and point each other to Christ and His gospel of grace and forgiveness.

    1. oh Miriam. As I read your post, I feel a mixture of anger at those who hurt you and deep empathy and sorrow for you. This is SO hard. I can’t pretend to have forgiveness figured out or that I don’t still, daily, struggle to forgive especially family members. Time has lessened the sting, but it’s still hard and a conscious thing because like you, I was suffering physical effects of the emotional pain. I’m praying for you this morning, so glad you are here, and are so tender & honest, praying for His healing.

      1. Thank you so much, dear Lizzy.

    2. Miriam, I don’t see your extra paragraph here giving your example of why you are so hurt and having even your heart condemn you, but be assured that God loves you. I agree with Lizzy that hurts by family are the hardest to forgive. I can clearly see the prodigal sons (both the older self-righteous one and the younger one who ran away) in your story. I too am a recovering self-righteous prodigal (with a little bit of despicable worldly prodigal mixed in). Praying for you that you will continue to run to the Mercy seat and find love and forgiveness there!

      1. Thank you so much, Diane.  I actually asked Dee to delete parts of my story as I felt so guilty for even writing about someone who I feel has wronged me deeply.

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

    “ I want this person to be dealt with, and I don’t think God will do it the way it should be done.”

    This stood out to me, I thought of Jonah.

    I can relate strongly at present. I need to mentally get off of the throne and pray more fervently about the things that concern me trusting that God sees.

     
    It also stood out to me that a shift happens when I lay down my efforts to fix things my self, when I acknowledge my helplessness to change my messed up heart and “make a conscious decision to stop nursing my own hurt” 

  16. 3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully. 
     

    Paul is an apostle. He was chosen by Jesus and gives us the information that Jesus wants us to know. This is important.

     
    4. Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter. 
        A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it? 
     

    He he rescued us from our “present age” and He did it by giving Himself.

     
        B.  Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin? 
     

    When you know God you want to please Him. Committing sin pulls you from Him. When you draw near to Him you pull away from evil.

     
        C. Keller makes a point that he doesn’t say, “according to your merit or righteousness.” What does he say and why is this significant?
     

    He says He rescues us according to the will of the Father. It means God wants to do this for us. This means he wants us to be saved. It reminds me of the other times in the Bible when people needed to be rescued; Noah specifically. Sometimes the rescue isn’t pretty, but it is needed.

  17. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Dee doing the unnatural! How He came to help her after she cried out with the scene from Les’ Miserables which was a beautiful way to melt her with the Gospel. It’s sweet when God melts us with Scripture put into stories, pictures and art this way.

    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

    For me the sin issue is the sense of never being good enough and the temptation is to back away from God and not trust that because of His death, burial and resurrection I am. Because of what He has done-nothing I have done. I think it stems from this performance = acceptance thing I have ingrained in me..maybe from a child hood where my dad left us and therefore left me with that (unintentionally) as a way to cope somehow? not sure. I just know it is a bend of mine but God is bending me back. Whenever I feel this way I hide myself in Him instead of the what happened before that made me feel that way-wow..hiding myself in anyone or anything other than God is SO dissatisfying and hopeless.  I have been sensing these small but amazing moments of freedom and confidence I haven’t experienced quite as full before. God reached down to me with something Dee said that Luther said, I am simultaneously sinful and loved. This is melting me. It is a process for I am definitely not there yet but am so glad He is moving.

  18. 2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

    I am feeling low, I wanted to find something recent, as I thought I realized some areas of struggle that I have been content to ignore, I will pray about those things.

    I have an ebenezer that I have shared on the blog before, but it is good to ‘remember’ 
    I looked up the meaning of remember and found this article, that explains that the Hebrew word implies action:
    http://www.chadbird.com/blog/2016/8/20/the-one-hebrew-word-you-dont-want-to-forget
    Fourteen years ago I had 4 children, the oldest had moved out. We guardianship of two of my husband’s siblings ages 11 and 13 in the summer of that year. At Christmas time that same year my husband’s son, who was born as a result of an affair, also came to live with us full-time. I was so naive, thinking ‘more people to love’ but they had come from hard backgrounds, they didn’t trust adults. They didn’t love me and I began to sink under the weight of my self-pity. I became convicted that I was the sounding gong of 1 Corthinians 13. Some of the lyrics to the Moody Blues song Question seemed to fit and also convicted me
    “And when you stop and think about it
    You won’t believe it’s true
    That all the love you’ve been giving
    Has all been meant for you”

    I wanted to be well thought of for what I was sacrificing for these kids, details I won’t go into were working the opposite effect. I wanted these kids to adore me, they didn’t. I wanted to love them, I knew they were broken and needed love, but my resentment grew until what I felt was nothing close to love. All my righteousness was filthy rags and I knew it. 
    I tried to talk about this in a Moms in Touch group, they didn’t get it, my confessing my lack of love. They pointed to all I was doing for those kids and the practical ways of showing love, that wasn’t helpful.

    I had a break down in the shower, I cried out, I had been convicted about my lack of love and I knew I was utterly powerless to change it. I prayed for rescue, I told the Lord that I knew those children needed to be loved but what I felt was something closer to the opposite of that. I said if something is going to change, you will have to do it, I had been trying so hard and utterly failing. It is hard to describe but when I admitted my powerlessness I felt a warmth come over me, a peace… I relaxed. I began to do what I did for those kids as a way of serving Christ. I stopped anticipating that they would express gratitude. The happily ever after I imagined in the beginning never really came to pass, but things did get better, gradually, especially in me. ‘Remembering’ this helps me to lay down those things I need to now

    It occurs to me, that I received Christmas gifts from three of our 6 living children, two of them were from these ‘bonus kids’ :)

    1. Appreciate so much your sharing! I totally get where you’ve been. The link you shared has been very good for me. Thanks for sharing it again.

    2. Chris–I love what you shared here, it really resonates with me–learning to really love those kids, rather than the dutiful actions, “I began to do what I did for those kids as a way of serving Christ. I stopped anticipating that they would express gratitude. “

    3. Wow, Chris! Thanks so much for sharing. That’s a powerful story of how God worked in a desperate situation. I can so relate to you in feeling unappreciated and resentful and crying out to the Lord.  Bearing so much of the responsibility for rearing my grandsons weighs on me in a similar way. I have been convicted about my attitude – that I need to do as you did – “I relaxed. I began to do what I did for those kids as a way of serving Christ. I stopped anticipating that they would express gratitude.”

    4. Chris, so loved this!! What a hard situation but the scene of you crying out and Him coming- wow.

  19. 3.  Paul was chosen not by men, but by God, to be an apostle. He writes with the agreement of other believers. Because its in the Bible today, we know it is the inspired word of God. That is why we should pay attention.

     

    4.a.  Christ rescues us from our sin and the present evil age.

    b.  One picture of how this can happen. Dee, your story of the stolen jewelry. And not only were you rescued, but the result was also the rescue of Nikki.

    c.  It isn’t our merit or righteousness, it is the will of God. If it depended on me, it could fail -and probably would. But because it depends on God, I can be sure of it.

  20. Monday: Rescued from This Present Evil Age
    3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully. 
    Paul states his credentials by saying he is an apostle…I looked up that word which means…an envoy, ambassador, or messenger commissioned to carry out the instructions of the commissioning agent. Paul further let’s us know who has commissioned him…Jesus (The Lord is salvation) Christ (Annointed One/Messiah) and God the Father. Paul, knew what he had been…persecutor of believers and who had saved him…Jesus Christ his Lord. Just as those who were awaiting the Messiah in those days had a misperception that their Savior was coming to save them from their “present evil age”  (I.e. Roman government) is it possible that I too have a misperception of what my Messiah has come to deliver me from? 
    4. Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter. 
    Jesus came to “give Himself” for our sins in order to deliver us out of this present evil age…or this fallen state in which we have struggled ever sinc Eden. Man has struggled to save himself ever since the fall and after thousands of years it should be all too apparent to us! It’s as if I have been kidnapped and I am desperate to pay my own ransom…but do not have access to any resources since I am locked and bound up. Thanks be to my Redeemer who has come to set me free!
        A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it? 
    Christ can rescue us from our own sin nature which flourishes under the law. He came to save me from all my futile efforts to save myself…to save me from my own self-righteousness!
        B.  Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin? 
    The good news or gospel can rescue us from the power of sin as we identify our false beliefs (I can do it myself, things will never change, if only my circumstances were that way then I’d be ok) and admit that we are helpless to change and surrender our lives to the One who can change us.
        C. Keller makes a point that he doesn’t say, “according to your merit or righteousness.” What does he say and why is this significant?
    Our deliverance is “according to the will of our God and Father”. Paul knew on the Damascus Road the fullness of his sin and his inability to change…Lord, may I too see the fullness of my sin and admit my inability to change! For that is the only way the process of transformation can begin. Amen

  21. 3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully. He is an apostle, not from man’s decision or command but by and through Christ’s naming and command. Christ, not man has sent him to speak so we should listen.

    4. Meditate in Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter. God’s will was/is to have us delivered, to His glory, from this present evil age (which may be referring to both the eternal and the immediate rescue from sin’s consequence and power).

    A. What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it? He rescued us from our sins by giving himself … this also delivered us from this present evil age.

    B. Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin. The Gospel removes the weight of ‘having to do it all ourselves’ which is exhausting and can perpetuate the behaviors we long to be freed from. Accepting passive righteousness frees us from that ever-present burden and actually opens our eyes, frees our hands, and unshackled our feet from the “obligation unto hell” and TO dancing in joy, serving in gratitude, and worshiping the only one who is worthy.

    When we HAVE to do something it is crippling but when we GET to do something (because our fate does not rest on our works but His sacrifice) we are free and find joy…

    C. Keller makes a point that he doesn’t say, “according to your merit or righteousness.” What does he say and why is this significant? He says, “According to the will of our God and Father.” This, again, shows our salvation and rescue is NOT dependent on us but on HIM.

  22. CHRIS- the article you posted on “remember” is amazing! Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Jill, I am glad, I echo Dee, I love your “have to” vs “get to”

  23. Monday

    3.  Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully?

    Paul was an apostle.  We should listen carefully because he wasn’t commissioned and sent from men through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead.

    4.   Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter.

    A.   What can Christ rescue us from and how did he do it?

    He rescued us from our sins and from this evil world in which we live in by giving His life…this was God’s plan!

    B.   Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin?

    I look at Paul’s life.  He went from resting on his laurels and persecuting Christians to being greatly used by God!

    C.   Keller makes a point that he doesn’t say, “ according to your merit or righteousness.”   What does he say and why is this significant? 

    He rather calls it an “active righteousness” which we may receive without danger, as long as we attribute to them no power to satisfy for sin. to please God, or to deserve grace…these kinds of righteousness are gifts of God, like all good things we enjoy.  (Not sure if this was the answer you were looking for…a little confused?)

  24. 3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully.
    Paul was sent by Jesus and God the Father first as well as the brothers and sisters who were with him.
    4. Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter.
        A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it?
    From the evil age by giving Himself up for our sins.
        B.  Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin?
    Long time ago when I was a newbie nurse, I made a mistake that caused additional pain to a patient I was taking care of. I was a young Christian then, unsure of myself and was so horrified! My immediate supervisor was very understanding but I had such a hard time letting go of my failure. It took a few years for me to be able to look back at that incident and forgive myself. If I were to fast forward it today knowing who I am in Christ and justified through Him, I would tell myself that I can do everything I can do to redeem the situation, let go of my pride(I should not make this type of mistake, I know better etc) and confess my sins of pride and idol of approval, pray Satan away as he whispers lies (who are you anyway? See, you are not fit to be a nurse! Etc etc). God will work out everything for good because I am His and He will also help me to be the best nurse I can be. I can move forward and learn from my mistake and not let it hinder the good that I can do with God’s help.

    1. I love your illustration, Bing, and can definitely relate.  It really is the sin of pride and idol of approval when you boil it down – at least it is for me when I criticize and beat myself up for every mistake I make as if I was perfect like God, or something!  Love you, sister!

    2. Thank you for this story, Bing. I never thought about when I beat myself being pride. I do this often. When I teach the courses at the community college students fill out evaluations of the class. I tend to not read them because I am scared of what they say. I have to wait until WAY after the course is over to take the constructive criticism of my students. Now you have made me think it might be my pride. Need to chew on this awhile.

      1. Missy and Laura-I was so blind to my idol of pride. And the thing about it is when I looked at the word prIde, the letter I is in the center of it! It wouldn’t be called pride if it were not for the I in it! So it is about I, me, my, mine. So humbling. And I need to remind myself that everything I am good at or think I am good at is all grace. God’s Riches AT Christ Expense.

  25. I had to think about this for a bit to answer. I answered out of order this time…

     

    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you?

     

    I am trying so hard to let God take over for me (!) with respect to my daughter. I tend to want to jump in and save her from herself and each time I have that feeling I am ignoring it and praying to God that He intervene in her life some way. I literally am talking to myself and saying things like, “God has this,” “He will come through,” “Have faith,” “He loves Sarah and she is His,” etc. If I even try to make contact with her she twists that into me doing something for her (usually giving her money) so I have to be careful. She uses me.

    I’m not sure He has reached down to me. It feels awfully lonely down here…the other day I caught Cooper staring out the window. I asked him what he was doing and he said looking for mommy. It broke my heart 😩. She has NO idea what she is doing to her kids AND if I tell her this story she will twist it to say that it’s our fault it all happened! I really wish I could know even one little inkling of the outcome to this, but I just have to have faith that God loves us all and is working on her heart.

    1. Oh, Laura. This breaks my heart. Praying for you and for Cooper. I can relate. I remember the tears and anguish both for Krista and for her boys when their Dad was refusing to let them spend time with her during the ugliest part of the divorce. I will cry to God for this situation.

  26. 5. How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin. They say you need Jesus plus _____________ to be saved (give an example.) 

    Works? I’m not sure about this. Maybe I am the false teacher? I argue in my mind that I should do this or that, when really I just need to focus on Christ.

     

    My husband and I are starting the Daniel fast next week and I’m hoping it helps me not focus on food for comfort. I want to focus on Him.

    6. Now — let’s make this personal. 
    A. You are facing a trial, and you feel alone because you think you need Jesus plus your own merit. Speak to your soul. 
     

    Oh Lord, You are the only one that can help me with my sins. Thank You for loving me and saving me!

     
    B. You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are are going to help God deal with him by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in. Speak to your soul.
     
    Lord help me not get in Your way as You do Your work. Help me have confidence that although I am here in the midst of the fire and You seem far away, truly You are in charge and will see to it that those who deserve Your wrath receive their just due. Thank You Lord Jesus for being my rock and my redeemer. Amen.
     
    C. Your life is stressful. To relieve the stress, you think you need Jesus plus (sugar, shopping, sexual immorality, gossiping to another…) How might you flee temptation and speak to your soul, melting your soul with the gospel?
     

    God tells me that I ask and I will receive. He says I am His and He is mine, so obviously He will love me and take care of me! Just because I don’t see His efforts doesn’t mean He isn’t working. I just need to have faith. By conceding to Him I am following what He desires for me and I will be rewarded in heaven, as He came to Earth to let us all know. Thank You Jesus fo dying on the cross for my sins.  I can’t imagine the cost to You. Thank You Lord. Amen.

     
    7. Read Galatians 1:6-9 
    A. Describe Paul’s tone. 
     

    Paul seems to be warning the people.

     
    B. Why is this righteous indignation? 
     

    Because Paul believes the people are not abiding in the ideas Christ left behind (no more special food, no more circumcision, etc.) and therefore he is angry with respect to Christianity (or because of what is right and good; the idea of grace which Christ left behind when He ascended).

     
    C. What do verses 8-9 say should happen to a person who preaches a different gospel?
     

    He says they should be “accursed.”

  27. 8. Apply this to being saved from the power of sin.
     

    If I put my hope in Christ then I will be saved.

     
        A. Where do you tend to run, other than God, when you are stressed, bored, or depressed? 
     

    Definitely food or friends.

     
        B.  Now, in this situation practice melting your heart with the gospel.
     

    Lord, thank You for going to the cross for me. Because You did that I know I will reap the benefit and sit with You in heaven forever. Thank You. Help me know You are here with me, that I am not alone in this battle on Earth. Although I know it is faith in which I walk, sometimes I need a little extra nudge to keep my chin up and move on. Could You please nudge me today so I don’t give up? I tend to be a hard head and don’t know that it’s You when it happens, Lord. Please make it very clear to me today. Thank You for You never ending, wreckless love of me. My hope is in You. Amen.

  28. 3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully.
    Paul wasn’t sent by man but by God.
    4. Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter.
        A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it?
    The power of sin in us. Jesus gave Himself to rescue us from the power of sin in us. I see it like He willingly let Himself be taken captive by sin on the cross-with no rescue for Himself knowing there would be no rescue- so that we would never have to be without rescue.
       

  29. What stood out to me?

    Well, the need to be rescued from the penalty of sin. As I read again the story of Dee’s situation of the stolen jewelry and think of the hurt and what she needed to do to forgive from the heart, I know it is only the Holy Spirit that can work that change.

    I can so relate to this problem of nursing my hurt and justifying my own action. For years I was the codependent spouse and did what was right in my own eyes. I was so blinded to my part in the relationship.Trying to control subtly, working on perfection, justifying over and over. Only the Holy Spirit could point these sins to me. It is so easy to fall into self-righteousness and so hard to forgive and have compassion.

    In Galatians 1:1,2 Paul states “I am an apostle through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead. It was not a position he obtained through men or earned, but by the blood of Jesus.

    Verse 4 Through Jesus, I am cleansed from my sin and I am set free from this evil age. This gospel is my truth that I come to daily, reminding myself that only by the grace of God am I able to walk in the light and be a light in my world. The battle is intense at times as I am tempted to react, to lash back when accused, to feel proud and to judge. Yet I am like the caterpillar in the ring of fire.

  30. 5. How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin? They say you need Jesus plus _____________ to be saved (give an example.)

    Some say you need Jesus plus living a certain way (Amish). Some say that there are other gospels that need to be believed and followed (Mormons). Some say that the Bible needs to adhere to the laws of science. Science is the ultimate to them.

    6. Now — let’s make this personal.

    A. You are facing a trial, and you feel alone because you think you need Jesus plus your own merit. Speak to your soul.

    We are going to have to make a radical decision on housing within the next year. The idea of buying a house almost panics and paralyses me because I want a certain size/quality of house and feel we cannot afford it. I feel trapped. Here I am feeling I need Jesus plus money. It is hard to trust on this issue.

    B. You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are going to help God deal with him by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in. Speak to your soul.

    A friend has hurt me deeply. For months I have been cool toward her, not trusting or truly forgiving. God is speaking to my soul that it is time to stop hiding. It is so hard to trust and confide again.

    C. Your life is stressful. To relieve the stress, you think you need Jesus plus (sugar, shopping, sexual immorality, gossiping to another…) How might you flee temptation and speak to your soul, melting your soul with the gospel?

    Being prediabetic is a very stressful thing. I know that as the disease progresses, it will kill me slowly. I have already radically changed my diet to lower my blood sugars significantly (back into the normal range) to try everything I can to slow the progression; but now I am reading about a type of diet that will cure my insulin resistance, in other words, cure diabetes (in some, maybe in me?). I am sorely tempted to follow it blindly if it will heal me. I need caution and wisdom. Is it a temptation or is it a cure? Do I think I need Jesus plus this diet? We know that a good thing can become an idol if we look to it for salvation, if I feel I must go this way, if I am putting my physical health above God. Complicated issue, I know.

  31. My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

    I dare not trust the sweetest frame But wholly trust in Jesus’ name

    8. Apply this to being saved from the power of sin.

    A. Where do you tend to run, other than God, when you are stressed, bored, or depressed?

    Facebook, TV, food, some other distraction

    B.  Now, in this situation practice melting your heart with the gospel.

    Jesus, you are my only hope — not a perfect family, not a cure for diabetes, not the perfect house. Help me to rest in You and find peace. Help me to be still and know that You are God. Help me to trust in You for You have always proved yourself trustworthy, even when I cannot see the big picture of my life or what lies ahead.

  32.  
    3. Read Galatians 1:1-2 and explain Paul’s credentials and why we should listen carefully.

    This is a struggle for me right now. Our pastor (who recently resigned) had been preaching from 2 Corinthians, it was obvious to those who knew of the conflict (which were few) that he was identifying himself with Paul’s being misunderstood or maligned but having a clear consious because he was conducting himself with the utmost integrity.

    This was really hard to listen to when you knew the behind the scenes stuff.
    I have not had an easy time with some of Paul’s teaching in the past, this recent history renewed that struggle. I really don’t want to lean on my own understanding, I am praying for fresh eyes and a soft heart.

    I took this from John Piper:

    “I will assume that we accept his claim. But what an assumption! Do you see what it means? It means that when you read Galatians, you are hearing Christ. An apostle speaks with authority the message of the one who sent him. Galatians is the very word of the King of kings. O how many of us are tempted to cry out to Jesus for some message, some revelation, some dream or vision, but make almost no serious effort to understand the deep things of Scripture, the very Word of Christ. “

    1. Christina, what a great challenging quote from Piper. “O how many of us are tempted to cry out to Jesus for some message, some revelation, some dream or vision, but make almost no serious effort to understand the deep things of Scripture, the very Word of Christ.” So true. How lightly we take the Word of God! We need to repent and make take the Word of God much more seriously. This is one of the reason I love Dee’s blog so much. She focuses on Scripture and a good understanding of it.

  33. 4. Meditate on Galatians 1:4 which Luther says sums up the whole letter.
        A.  What can Christ rescue us from and how did He do it?
    The power that this present evil age wants to have in our lives.
    He sacrificed himself, he allowed the will of the Father to determine his path. 
        B.  Give one illustration of how the gospel could rescue someone from the power of sin?

    The understanding that all sin is against God before it is against any of us, coupled with the gospel understanding that none of us deserves the grace and forgiveness Christ offers allows a person a different perspective on sins done against them. 
     
    Either the offending person will ultimately be a fellow undeserving recipient of grace whose sins, like their own, are covered by the blood of Christ or they will choose to reject Him and be judged accordingly.
    We have a real enemy, it is good to remember who that actually is.

    The gospel thought through, allows a person to be small, and lay down the demand for earthly justice, realizing that real justice would fry us all to a crisp.

    This made me think of the quote, a favorite of mine:

    “Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners.
    But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion — without transposing the enemy from the sphere of the monstrous… into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness.
    When one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.” 
     
    ― Miroslav Volf
     

  34. 5.  False teachers today still say you need to behave better and/or believe some teaching from outside the Bible.  These teachings are not found in the Bible, and are often the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches. Another reason why it is so important to be in the Bible and really know what it says. They teach bank tellers to recognize counterfeit money by studying the real thing. So thank you, Dee, for helping us study the real Word of God.

     

    6.a.  When tempted to rely on self, (which is constantly!), speak to your soul words like Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding… Cry out to Him for mercy and help. Lord, I am at home today with all the leftover Christmas candy and I know I am vulnerable. I believe You want to train me in self control. You are well aware of my record. Please bring to my mind a different way to combat this, since my methods haven’t worked. I want to love You so much more than food….

  35.  
    5. How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin. They say you need Jesus plus _____________ to be saved (give an example.)

    I have seen people who seem to rest the weight of their salvation more on their theological soundness than on the person and work of Christ. I think truth and knowledge are good and to be sought after, but they don’t save anyone.

  36. 1. What stands out?
    I wasn’t going to participate at all this time around because I don’t like to drop out, miss weeks, etc. and I’m trying to avoid the computer more.    Sigh, but I have about 10 minutes now between commitments and clicked on here…  :-)

    Quote from Diane from last week, the idea of gradual change/example from book Educated, and caterpillar in a ring of fire (Luther).

    SO… maybe you’ll “see” me around, but probably not consistently :'(

    2. What lies?
    One of them is related to self-sufficiency.  And maybe something related to consistency (!) and/or pacing myself.  That’s why the gradual change part jumped out at me.  (I just started explaining, but too crazy and would get too long so deleted it).  So, anyhow, I see this as fitting right in to how God currently is working in my life.

    1. Good to see you, Renee. You are welcome to drop in any time! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing! I too can’t always participate as much as I would like. Some is better than none!

    2. ” I see this as fitting right in to how God currently is working in my life.”    Me too, Renee   :)    

      (And it is so good to see you here.)

  37. Tuesday

    5.   How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin? They say you need Jesus plus_____ to be saved ( give an example.)

    Follow these rules…no smoking, drinking, playing cards, dress a certain way and attend church every Sunday etc.  I believe that legalism is a false doctrine cause it always adds works.

    6.  Now – let’s  make this personal.

    A.   You are  facing a trial, and you feel alone because you think you need Jesus plus your own merit. Speak to your soul. 

    Its funny because when I’m facing a trial I don’t outright think that I need Jesus plus my own merit but subconsciously that’s how I act.  Putting our house back together after Florence and asking questions like, why us and what did we do to deserve this?  It’s interesting that it comes to being about “us”, what we did or didn’t do or what can we do to make it right.  An old song comes to my mind…Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters.”  He is my righteousness, He is my deliverer, He is my provider, He is ALL I need.  I must look up from this ring of fire where my hope of rescue comes from.

    B.   You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are going to help God deal with him by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in. Speak to your soul. 

    I have experienced that getting revenge hurts me more than the other person and letting God take care of the situation is so freeing.

    C.   Your life is stressful. To relieve the stress, you think you need Jesus plus ( sugar, shopping, sexual immorality,  gossiping to another …)  how might you flee temptation  and speak to your soul, melting your soul with the Gospel? 

    Cry out to the Lord, asking Him for strength and deliverance rather than relying on my own.  Thanking Him for His sacrifice and dying for my sins once and for all!!

  38. 6.b.  You’ve been hurt. It is hard for me to know what is holding it against them, which is wrong, and what is protecting yourself from being hurt over and over again. Obviously, it is right to put your trust in God. Not so sure about putting trust in a person who has shown themselves to be unreliable. Or am I just excusing myself?? What do all of you think?

    c.  Relieving stress…Jude 24-25 to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

    1. Mary…I often argue myself in circles about forgiving vs excusing vs protecting myself. But, Dee is right…forgiving another does not mean I should tolerate ongoing poor choices or bad behavior. Unforgiveness however, chains me more tightly to the person who has wronged me…while forgiving them sets me free to love them even if it must be from a distance.

  39. 7. A. Describe Paul’s tone.

    He is shocked, upset, “astonished”.

    B. Why is this righteous indignation?

    In a way, it is similar to Jesus’ anger at the Temple being turned into a place of business (Matt. 21:13). The Galatians had received the Gospel by God’s grace, but they were distorting the message, by requiring works for salvation.

    C. What do verses 8-9 say should happen to a person who preaches a different gospel?

    They should be cursed. Something strikes me as I read these verses. I’ve always read them and thought, ‘I would never listen to a false gospel’—and yet, so often I listen to my feelings or thoughts which are, as Dee would say, “so NOT the gospel!”.  While I may never listen to someone preach the false teachings, I fall into the sin of forgetting the gospel in my own thoughts and feelings.

    8.     A. Where do you tend to run, other than God, when you are stressed, bored, or depressed?

    I was praying about this just last night. I needed to make a decision about whether or not to say something to someone and my first action was asking my husband what he thought. Then I felt frustrated because I didn’t feel like he put much thought into it and I questioned his wisdom. This is a recurring cycle for us! Once I realized I was doing it again, I went and prayed and decided not to do anything and wait for God to tell me.

    When I’m stressed, I whine and want someone to pity me, and help! I don’t usually feel too bored, but depression can lead me to vent (again!) or spend too much time online—I’m not really a social media person, and for the most part my reading is good, it’s just still running.

    B.  Now, in this situation practice melting your heart with the gospel.

    In each of these scenarios, I am craving, searching relentless for, the same thing. I want assurance. Like an insecure child, I want to know that everything is ok, and will be ok, and I am loved, accepted, safe. There is only One who can tell me that, the Father, and there is only One whose righteousness on my behalf made it all more than “ok”, Jesus. So now, remembering this truth, I RUN, only to You, and I rest, safe, at peace, making my home in Your arms. Help me remember to always come here first, Lord.

     

    1. Lizzy,    I could have written the same response to your 8-A.   May the Lord remind us who to run to.   Thank you for your words here.

  40. 7.a.  Paul’s tone. He says he is astonished that they are so easily being led astray, and is very strong in his statements.

    B.  It is righteous indignation because it is not Paul who is being threatened. It is the Gospel and the eternal lives of the believers that are at stake.

    C.  vs 8-9 say that those who preach a different gospel should be eternally condemned.

     

    8.a.  When bored or depressed, my first place to go is food. Next is some type of escape, like fiction or games. When stressed, I know I pull up inside myself, but then I turn to God.

    b.  Practice… Gal 5:1 it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    this is so fitting, because God desires for me to be free of depression, free of boredom, free of the idols. He wants me to live in His freedom. Lord, help me see the chains and reject them.

  41. Tuesday: A Different Gospel
    False teachers had come to believers and told them that they needed to add to what Christ did to be saved — they were being told they also needed to be circumcised and to abstain from certain foods.
    5. How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin. They say you need Jesus plus _____________ to be saved (give an example.)
    Get baptized.
    Go to a particular church.
    Abstain from certain food.
     
    6. Now — let’s make this personal.
    A. You are facing a trial, and you feel alone because you think you need Jesus plus your own merit. Speak to your soul.
    Lord, there is nothing I can do with regard to this trial. I don’t have to do anything to merit your help-I trust that your help will be because you love me and you will be my defense. Even if it hurts, you will work out all things for good. Jesus will walk with me through this trial and in the process be more like Him.
    B. You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are are going to help God deal with him by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in. Speak to your soul.
    Lord, I surrender my hurt to you. I will not withdraw or find ways to get back at the person. I will pray for that person and ask the Lord to help me love that person.
    C. Your life is stressful. To relieve the stress, you think you need Jesus plus (sugar, shopping, sexual immorality, gossiping to another…) How might you flee temptation and speak to your soul, melting your soul with the gospel?
    Come to me you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Instead of talking to other people about my stresses, I will go to God and cast my burdens on Him because He cares for me. He has given Christ to me and He will be my peace. To Jesus, Calvary was worth my salvation and freedom. And to Him who has conquered death, can He not provide whatever I need? Psalm 23

  42. Chris,

    The Miroslav Volf quote is so good.   Thank you.

  43. Sunday
    1. What stands out to you from the above and why?  I completely agree with this statement, “We definitely spend a huge amount of energy justifying ourselves – both to ourselves internally and to others.” This is so true in my life. I found if I wanted to get free, I had to be honest and allow God to show me what I couldn’t see.  Ouch! Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  I definitely held unforgiveness in my life but was blind to it.  Instead of just moving on, forgetting without forgiving, God began to show me a way I can actively move into forgiveness.
    2. None of us have arrived, but there may be an area where you have had a measure of success in overcoming a temptation. What lies are you overcoming? What truth are you speaking to your soul? How has God reached down to you? When I begin to rehearse scenarios in my mind, dwell on things others have said, or justify myself in my own mind, it is a sign that I need to forgive someone.  I had a sticky situation with my daughter-in-law Carol that resulted in her hanging up the phone on me.  She was unhappy that I was unable to do something for her. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that she hung up. I was disappointed in her and hurt.  Unfulfilled expectations had colored this new season in our family and here was one more issue.  How could she hang up?  I would never do that to my mom, mother- in- law and my sons have never done that to me.  She never apologised or brought it back up.  I silently  resented this but didn’t know how to get passed it. God in his goodness totally set me up to overcome this.  I started feeling that God wanted me to thank Him for things I had never thanked Him for.  One day in prayer, He asked me just that to thank him for things I had never thanked him for.  I began pacing in livingroom, “God I thank you for music, the sunshine, the change of seasons.”… After a minute I ran out of things to thank him for (I know that is completely ridiculous).  I asked Him to remind me and help me think of things.  Immediately, ideas popped into my mind one after another.  This was becoming fun and God was helping me!  I kept verbalizing all this gratitude and thanksgiving.  I then began to thank him for my daughter-in-law Karen.  She is beautiful inside and out, an amazing wife and mother and a true gift to our family.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  Still pacing in the living room, God said, “thank me for Carol.”  I stopped in my tracks and immediately saw my heart (wicked and unforgiving).  I began to recite things that I could truly be thankful for…she loves my son, she is a good mom, she loves to have fun, she keeps an amazing house, she loves family, she comes from a wonderful family…I just hung out there thanking God for Carol.  All of a sudden God gave me a picture of a lawn that was hard, dry and in need of aeration.  I felt like he was saying the heart and forgiveness is like the lawn that needs tending.  I could see a bullseye in the lawn that represented the wound my daughter-in-law had caused but everytime I verbalized thanks it was like core- aeration.  Every word I spoke of thanksgiving was surrounding the center wound and penetrating the hard soil. I didn’t have to be thankful for the hurt she caused but there were many other areas to be thankful. I had a picture of rain, sunshine and oxygen able to penetrate the hard lawn and make it healthy.  Thanksgiving penetrates the hard places of our heart and brings life. As I continued to thank God for her, I immediately began to be free. My daughter-in-law has never apologized and she doesn’t need to.  I began to step up and reach out to her and our relationship in now solid, healthy and loving. If God wants us to pray for our enemies, how about truly expressing thanksgiving for the imperfect people that are gifts to us.   I am now beginning to recognise unforgiveness and thanksgiving plays a huge part in keeping my heart healthy and pure before God.

    1. So beautiful, Tami. And such a good example for all of us!

  44. 9.  Gal1:10 says to seek God’s approval, not anything else.

     

    10.  The Gospel is not something man made up. I think it is obvious that all other religions are man made. They all focus on what we must do to earn a better life. God, on the other hand, reached down to us from the very beginning, telling us about Himself, what He has done and is doing to give us Himself.

     

    11.  A question for those who say Jesus is too narrow a way.

    Generally, what do you think of Jesus, and how would you describe Him?

    With that view, what do you do with the passage in scripture where Jesus said He is the only way to God? John 14:6

  45. soul.
    B. You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are are going to help God deal with him by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in. Speak to your soul.

    Seeking to ‘get even’ isn’t really an area of weakness for me, but withdrawing totally is. If I think I am unwanted I will just disappear. When I am hurt I get quiet. I do not find it easy to risk trusting the other person with a knowledge of my emotion, safer to retreat and be alone.
     
    I know that we are designed to be in community, the enemy likes it when I am alone, he works me over best in isolation. To be honest community is still kind of scary to me but as I have worked to overcome my fears the Lord has been kind to give me some face to face connections that feel pretty safe. 

  46. 9. What does Galatians 1:10 say? How could this help us stand firm on the gospel?

    “If I am still trying to please man, I am not a servant of God.” Wow! For those of us who are natural people pleasers, this is a tough one. We have to firmly disregard what anyone else might say and focus on what we know God wants us to do. And how do we know what God wants us to do? By studying God’s Word, by prayer, by careful listening to God and to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. Yes, we should seek advice from godly people, but that is not the only or first resource. We examine our motives to ask ourselves, “Am I doing this to please _________, or am I doing this to serve God?”

    10. What does Galatians 1:11 say?

    Paul declares that the gospel he preach was “not man’s gospel”.

  47. 11. What question might you ask those who feel it is wrong to say there is only one way to God and that it is Jesus?

    Tough question. In essence, I think this is an issue of “what is truth?” If there is such a thing as “truth”, than there has to be other things that are untrue. Jesus claims, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through me.” Either he is the truth, and what he says is true completely, perfectly, or he is a liar or a lunatic. Based on that, what question might I ask?

    What do you think of Jesus?

    Then I would listen carefully and try to point out Jesus’ strong statements about himself in a gentle manner.

  48. Dee, can you give me some more information on Sonship? Is this a good teaching tool? Is it designed for young believers or unbelievers specifically? What do you think of it? Is there a web site?

  49. 5. How do you see false teachers doing this today in regard to being rescued from the penalty of sin. They say you need Jesus plus ______ to be saved (give an example). The one I run across most is Jesus plus good doctrine or the “right” rules. Their mouths will say that all you need is Jesus but they strongly imply you need to think as they do in order to be a “true Christian.” I feel there needs to be grace for those journeying along (as I am one of those!) figuring out doctrine and wisdom for how to live life… when I am wrong it doesn’t mean I am not a “true Christian” I am merely “still growing!”

    6. Let’s make this personal.

    A. You are facing a trial, and you feel alone because you think you need Jesus plus your own merit. Speak to your soul. Lay down your burden, tired soul. Walk hand in hand with He who carries your yoke. Know His joy of redemption and rise up to work with the one whom saved you and lifted you from the mire, He who makes space to breathe. Do not worry about tomorrow, it is in His hands. Take today and find joy in obedience of this task right here and right now. Praise Him O my soul for He is your rock.

    B. You have been hurt. You feel the person that hurt you should suffer, and though you may not think it consciously, you are going to help God deal with him/her by withdrawing or finding ways to drive the knife in, speak to your soul.  This one is hard for me. Because I have had people tell me to not be their friend anymore…this hurts…but I respect their wishes and withdraw because they don’t like me… I never thought of this as “dealing with” the person… however I cannot say that I don’t nurse that hurt either…

    Soul, so they don’t like you – how incredibly hurtful, however, God did not call you to be liked but to serve. Your worth is in your identity as His child, He calls you Beloved, He has purpose for you. It feels like you have failed but He allows it so that you come back to Him and His friendship. You press in to Him. It is a part of your story and He will not waste your tears. Be tolerant of others as they were not tolerant of you, know that your long-suffering is precious to those you meet. Find joy in walking His story for you, not the story you envision yourself.

    C. Your life is stressful. To relieve the stress, you think you need Jesus plus ____. How might you flee temptation and speak to your soul, melting your soul with the gospel? Soul, consider the world around you. The sun, moon, and stars, the green grass, the beauty of your children’s eyes, the birds flocking to seed, the wind bending the trees…This is your God! O Soul, well up with a Hallelujah! He writes your story, day by day, minute by minute! Breathe deep the breath He gives you and know He watches the details. Just keep swimming and trust Him for He IS ABLE! (Not to do things the way you want but to be your help and comfort as you do things in the story He writes for you.)