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Are You Experiencing Your Abba?

It is one thing to know legally, that you are a son of God

because of what Jesus did for you on the cross.

It is quite another to experience the love of God

because of the Spirit entering your heart,

and to have the confidence to cry out ABBA

which Tim Keller says is literally DADA.

That’s how intimate He wants to be with us.

This week I want us to reflect on what it truly means to be adopted,

and to cry out to God to help us not just to believe in our heads,

but to experience it daily in our hearts.

Steve and I were privileged to adopt two daughters from overseas orphanages,

both of whom experienced the love of their earthly father vividly,

and through him, the love of their heavenly Father.

This is our beautiful daughter, Beth, today.

We adopted her at the age of twelve.

She had been abandoned as a newborn, left to die,

bleeding in a field, her little arm severed.

She grew up without love in an orphanage.

When she was in college in our town, her speech teacher called me after Beth’s 1st speech.

She told me she would never forget Beth’s short speech.

Beth set up a little tape recorded with a song from Point of Grace called Who Am I?

She began:

When I was a baby my parents cut off my arm and left me to die.

But I didn’t die. Someone found me and rushed me to the hospital.

Then Beth pushed play on the tape recorder and they heard the beginning of Who Am I?

(Listen to a minute and six seconds)

 

Then Beth stopped the tape and continued:

In the orphanage, people hurt me. I was sad and cried.

God helped a man in Nebraska hear my cry.

He came and rescued me and adopted me.

Then she pressed play, to play the next verse and chorus

and then sat down.

The teacher told me:

“It took less than 3 minutes but I and the class will never forget it.”

 

 

Sunday: Reflecting on Our Adoption

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

2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?

Monday: Let Me Put This Question To You

Let me put this question to you.

How did you new life begin?

Was it by working your heads off to please God?

Or was it be responding to God’s message to you?

Are you going to continue this craziness?

For only crazy people would think they could complete

in their own efforts what was begun by God.

(Galatians 3:2-3 MSG)

My friend Sylvia said it took a while for the penny to drop for her, for she always thought the gospel was the way into Christianity, but then you tried very hard to obey God in her own strength. She didn’t understand how the same gospel that delivered her from the penalty of sin could also deliver her from the power of sin.

3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?

In Galatians for You, Tim Keller explains how this works with forgiveness: He says if “we don’t forgive, something else has become our functional savior in place of Jesus. …We are looking to something else as a hope, to some other way to feel good and complete.”

4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?

5. How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving?

6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control?

7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.

Tuesday-Wednesday: Abraham Believed God

This truth may take a while to drop to your heart, so let us all pray for one another!

8. How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3?

 



9. Take a stumbling block in sin for you. There is something you are failing to believe about God. What do you think it is?

 

Cry out, “Abba, Father — I believe — help my unbelief!” Let the Gospel melt your heart. One way you know the Spirit is at work in you is that you are fighting this sin and not just surrendering.

10. Read Galatians 3:6-14

A. How can we be blessed along with Abraham according to verse 9?

B. The Message paraphrases verse 10 like this: “And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.” Have you experienced the difference between living by your own effort and living by faith in the power of the gospel? If so, explain.

C. The Message paraphrases verses 11-12 like this: “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” What do you think this means? Be specific.

11. Read Galatians 3:15-25. (This is a challenging passage, but I want you to get just a few things from it)

A. What came first — the law or the promise? Why is this significant?

B. What is the purpose of the law according to Galatians 3:24 and how does it do this?

Last week in our SonShip study we were given a tongue assignment. For a whole week we were not to complain, gossip, boast, or defend ourselves, but only encourage and share Christ with others. Of course the point of the assignment was that we couldn’t do it. Indeed, we are caterpillars in a ring of fire, are only hope of rescue is from above.

Thursday-Friday: Sons and Heirs, According to the Promise

I’ve been reading a biography of Jonathan Edwards that is helpful, in that the author has taken some of the weighty writings of Edwards and made them easier to understand. One helpful perspective from Edwards that illuminates what it means to live in the power of the Gospel, is from his writings on The Nature of True Virtue (published in 1765) Edwards explains that when we truly believe the love God has for us, we become focused on honoring Him out of deep gratitude. I know, in my own life, a transformation has come because of my growing sense, especially since Steve died 15 years ago, of God’s love and care for me despite my sin. Indeed, I realize as Luther said, I am simultaneously loved and sinful. That is not like human love, and I am so very grateful for it. Edwards was vividly aware of the love of God as revealed through His grace and meditated daily on this. Prepare your heart with this song from Andrew Peterson:

 

 

 

12. Read slowly Galatians 3:26-4:7.

A. What is the main theme of this passage?

B. Challenge question: Do you know why it is a good thing that women who believe are declared “sons of God?” rather than “daughters of God?”

C. What did God do for those who believed in His Son, according to Galatians 4:6?

 

13. Read also Romans 8:9-17

     A. What do you learn about the Spirit in verses 9-11?

B. Jonathan Edwards said that those who live for the Lord out of gratitude, shine His beams back to Him and the world. They grow stronger and stronger. How can you see this in verses 14-17?

Brennan Manning wrote “Abba’s Child,” and sums up what he thinks is most important for us to know in the following video. It fascinates me that Brennan Manning has such an impact on Rich Mullins, who had such an impact on Andrew Peterson. All of these men understand how important it is to realize God’s love for the sinner and to  live in gratitude to the One who adopted them out of love.

14. What stands out to from the above video and why?

 

I have promised not to give too much homework, but for those of you who wish to go deeper and grab hold of this truth, purchase Keller’s Message “The Experience of Adoption.” One of the reasons Keller is so good is that he stands on the shoulders of many he has researched. In this sermon alone he quotes Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd Jones, Jonathan Edwards, and many more. If you do listen, share your notes and comments. It’s a wonderful message.

https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/the-experience-of-adoption-5903/

 

Saturday: Take-A-Way

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

 

 

 

 

 

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199 comments

  1. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Beth smile in her photo, she is so beautiful!
    Sorrow for the brokenness of our world, for unloved babies and children in orphanages. That Steve heard Beth’s cries, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
    Beth’s bravery also stands out to me, she picked a such a personal topic. Sharing such things is costly.

    Re-reading I realized I skipped over the individual application, I have grown, but acknowledging God’s personal care for me still makes me squirm sometimes.

    1. I have been thinking about this since yesterday, I am not certain as to the why. I sometimes think my reaction is somewhat normal, people who encountered angels or God in the bible were afraid and often fell down.

      But there is some shame in me that goes back as far as I can remember. I remember being in kindergarten, the girl whose desk was next to mine used to kick me hard on a daily basis, my leg was bruised all the time. I never told anyone. I felt like she probably had a legitimate reason for disliking me so much. I felt unacceptable as a child, in many ways I still do. I have felt like I don’t want God to look directly at me. Even writing that out makes me feel really emotional.

      I was praying about this and the idea that pride plays a part came to mind, maybe I don’t want to need grace? Maybe admitting I really am that unacceptable and yet chosen is my sticking point…I don’t know. I am willing to hear. I have moved some towards being a trusting child, but I would like to move a lot in this direction.

      I am digging into this study, I had purchased Kellers Galatians for You at the CCEF conference, I am reading that and I downloaded some of his Galatians sermons. During this time of strife at my church, I am grateful to have this safe place to be fed.

      1. Chris,

        Thank you for processing so vulnerably right here on the blog.    It is very helpful to me.

        Sometimes I feel as if I am in the same room with our Lord, but not able to look directly His way or closely……

        1. Nila,

          You had posted this sometime back, I saved it:
          C.H. Spurgeon says, There is no entering the kingdom of heaven without leaving the kingdom of darkness. We must repent of sin, or we cannot receive the blessings of salvation. Of every man, whoever he may be, whether outwardly moral or openly wicked, repentance is required. It is the door of hope.

          Nila
           
          And this repentance, this turning away, always means turning toward and facing Jesus.   And though my shame and guilt might fight to keep me from turning to the One I need, as soon as I turn,  His love rushes in to cover my sin.  And sometimes His hands cup my face so that I know it is safe to look at Him.   And so these moments of repentance become glimpses of heaven right here in the daily messiness of my life.

      2. Chris, yes – thank you for being willing to process here….this shame that you (and we) can carry with us….you mention a wounding you received in kindergarten (and it was not only a real physical wounding but an emotional wounding as well)….we can carry these early experiences around with us well into adulthood. I can relate to your feeling that you were unacceptable as a child. In first grade, I had two ‘friends’ who said, as we were walking home from school, that they wanted to play a game. They told me where to stand, they took their places, and then, at the same time, they shouted “We hate you!” and ran away. In sixth grade my desk was next to a boy that I hardly knew and had never really talked to. One day he told me he wanted me to know just how much he hated me. It doesn’t hurt to remember these incidents, but I have never forgotten them, and I had a feeling then that there must be something very un-likeable about me. I still struggle at times to really believe that God even likes me.

  2. Sunday

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

    The speech Beth gave.  Yes, it was short but so impactful…brought tears to my eyes. So grateful she had the experience of an earthly father who loved her so and “through him the love of their Heavenly Father”.

    2.  What does it mean to you that God has adopted you?  What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?

    It thrills my heart to know that He loves me for who I am and that I am His child forever!  Amazing love, amazing grace!

    The parallels I see is, just as Steve heard Beth’s cries…God heard mine and saved me from the miry clay.

    Prayer Request…Justin, my son-in-law, got news early this morning that his father passed away from a heart attack.  It was sudden and unexpected!

      1. Thank you Dee!

    1. Sharon, I’m sorry to hear about your son-in-law’s father….praying for them.

      1. Thank You Susan!

  3. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? So much…the title itself is a piercing question, one that I have been haunted by for months now…indeed, it is why I came back to the blog. I feel as though I have been walking beside and in front of God  but not looked Him in the face for o so long. I, like Chris, squirm a bit when I think of full intimacy, not sure her reason but mine is still connected to my unworthiness…perhaps when I do a little better I will be able to accept His care without a guilty conscience for not deserving it. (All not in line with the Gospel, I know, but that is my honest answer, and why I continue to press in and practice soul talk.)

    I am also struck by this as I read, “Is there someone’s cry that I could hear, Lord?” I do so want to adopt someone who the Lord has for our family…

    Dee – May I ask, how old were you and Steve when you adopted your girls?

     

    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see bewteen the above adoption story and your own?  That He chose me and chose to have me as His own.

    Beth had no power or ability to “become adopted,” it was in the hands of the Brestin’s to pay and complete necessary actions to make adoption a reality. So, too, I have/had no power or ability to “become” adopted, it was all in God’s hands to pay and complete tasks necessary to make adoption a reality.

    1. Arrested by Jill’s comment, “I’ve been walking beside and in front of God but have not looked him in the face for o so long.”  So poignant and also the cry of my own heart.  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.”

      I’m a Nurse practitioner working in hospice and also in primary care.  I often take my patient’s hands and whisper sweetly in their ear, “Jesus loves you so very much.”  I was shocked recently when a patient replied, “He loves US.  He loves you, too!”  Oh, I wanted to run out of the room and burst into tears!  I love to tell of His love for others, but often find it hard to believe in my soul that He actually loves ME!  Unworthy ME!!

      As an aside, Jill, I adopted a teen from another country at age 51, as a single woman.  So many odds stacked against that arrangement, but God has taught me so very much through this adoption.  Often people speak of how marriage is a wonderful picture of our relationship with Christ, and indeed it is.  But to me, adoption is more realistic and powerful.  Nobody EVER marries someone who doesn’t love them and has some hope of gaining for his/herself something from that relationship.  Adoption is the adoption.  The child didn’t choose you.  The child has no merit other than need.  The child brings nothing to you (and those who adopt should never expect something from the child, as in returned love – a mistake so many people that adopt make, and I can understand as we all long to be loved by the one we have rescued) and could never repay you for your underserved love of him/her.  Oh, it has made me realize just a taste of the intense love of Jesus who gave His all for unworthy me and thus adopted me as His very own daughter!

      1. Miriam, what insight you have about adoption as a picture of God’s relationship with us. How often we assume that an adopted person owes love to the person who adopted them. But that is not so. “The child brings nothing to you (and those who adopt should never expect something from the child, as in returned love – a mistake so many people that adopt make.” And we often do not love God in return for all he has given to us. Yet, God loves us anyway! Wow! Praying for you as you relate to your adopted daughter!

    2. Jill ~   So much of what you said in your response to number one could have been my own words.    Thank you for sharing so honestly right here.

      This part of Dee’s introduction also struck me:    “Is there someone’s cry that I could hear Lord?”      Several churches in our city gathered last Sunday evening to be informed and to pray about the problem of human trafficking in our city.   I was stunned to learn that we are 5th in the nation (per capita)!    This is Montana with the big sky and beautiful mountains ~   There are two major interstate highways that intersect here and that feeds into the problem.      They are asking us to be sensitive at gas stations near the interstates where we might identify someone caught in the terrible web.      Needing the Lord to help me “hear the cry” and “see” what I don’t see~

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

    Imagining Beth’s courageous and beautiful presentation as I listened to Point of Grace moved me to tears.  Such an intimate song of His awareness and care for me in all the moments where I may feel forsaken or abandoned.     I am the staff person at our local Ronald McDonald House this weekend as I have done for the past twenty years.    Since August we have had a young couple staying with us here whose baby was born with serious mulitiple heart problems.   He is dying.  He is eight months old.   They seemed especially drawn to me when I told them of the loss of our baby girl from similar heart problems.    Today, I am asking the Lord for courage to sing a song with my guitar for them (needing courage for the fear of man can paralyze me).    It is called He Knows My Name.     These are the lyrics:

    I have a Maker
    He formed my heart
    Before even time began
    My life was in his hands

    He knows my name
    He knows my every thought
    He sees each tear that falls
    And He hears me when I call

    I have a Father
    He calls me His own
    He’ll never leave me
    No matter where I go

    Link to song:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bj-rlGcj8M

    1. Praying, Nila.

    2. Praying right now, Nila.

    3. oh Nila–I am still so grieved for your great loss but what a testimony of His grace that He has you ministering to this couple in a way no one else could. He has not wasted your pain, and is using it for His glory as promised. Thankful for the example for me of your willing heart.

    4. This song is so appropriate for what we are studying this week!  What a ministry opportunity you have, borne of your own deep sorrow.

    5. Nila-so sweet of you and I admire the way you have used your pain to help others. I  think of Sara Groves’ song, I saw what I saw and see how God is using your pain to show Himself to others. You have a beautiful testimony of inspiration, hope and courage.
      …Something on the road, cut me to the soul
      Your pain has changed me
      your dreams inspire
      your face a memory
      your hope a fire
      your courage asks me what I’m afraid of
      (what I am made of)
      and what I know of love

      1. Yes Bing  ~  I love this song too.

    6. Nila, I can see you in my mind’s eye playing your guitar and singing for this heartbroken couple, and doing it so humbly, and how it will minister to them so deeply. Bless you.

    7. Just seeing this Nila. How did it go?

      1. Thank you for your encouragement ladies.

        When I saw this young couple early Sunday morning I told them that I had a song I would like to sing for them sometime that day.   They were on their way to the hospital to be with their baby boy.   As it turned out, they were not around the Ronald House very much that day.   I didn’t sense that it was the right timing and didn’t push it.   But, that may have been my great lack of courage.

        1. I admire you for volunteering at Ronald McDonald House, I have pondered Bill and I doing the same, I haven’t been back to that hospital, I am not sure how I would do.
          I love your heart, to be vulnerable with those hurting parents.

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

    Oh, where to begin? It ALL jumps out! Like Chris, I am struck by Beth’s beauty, the life that beams from her smile. I also always love the part when she says “God helped a man in Nebraska hear my cry”. That tender “man in Nebraska”, whose heart was so in tune with the Spirit, listening…that so ministers to me.

    Even after 3 adoptions, the weight of the picture they illustrate of my own adoption is not lost on me. All three adoptions were so different, but for each–there was a moment they passed from their old heritage to the new. Philip lived 3 1/2 years in an orphanage without ever hearing Jesus’ name and then in one moment he was placed in my arms and I was so scared and nervous, all I could think to do was whisper “Jesus Love Me” over and over in his ear. I sang the song, whispering in his ear, the entire drive from the Consulate to the hotel. That first night with him, we found some Christian kids songs on Jon’s phone to play, and after a few songs, “Jesus Loves Me” came on–Philip looked at me and said “mama”. His life forever changed, he is listed in a will, he has a family, an inheritance, legal and binding. It’s a beautiful picture–but how much MORE I have been rescued, given a family, and my eternal, un-shakeable inheritance, not because I had anything to offer, or any significance of my own–but simply because He chose me, He loves me, and could not let me go.

    I missed being here last week, but I’m excited for this study–this looks so good for my heart!

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

    Beth’s adoption story – It is so amazing that Steve heard her cry through the Holy Spirit and went to rescue her. The song is amazing as well. That first verse is so powerful in the context of Beth’s story.

    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?

    I was lost too. The Father called my name and I heard the call and answered. I was only about 8 but the call was clear. My eyes were opened, my heart melted. When my heart aches, seeing others wandering, and lost, I sometimes despair of anything ever changing until I remember it is God who does the calling and rescuing. I need not fear and despair.

    1. Love this ,Diane “until I remember it is God who does the calling and rescuing. I need not fear and despair.”

  7. 1.  What stood out was Beth’s picture. Reading her story, all I could think of is the impact it would make back in her country of origin. For women to see her now and realize that they, too, have a Father who hears their cry and wants to adopt them. Has she ever considered going back and speaking there?

    I guess it stands out to me because I keep encouraging the college student I mentor that the day will come when God will want to use her story of pain to help someone else move closer to the throne. It so redeems our pain when we can share it with others. Not because we are ripping off the scar, but because God has healed it and we want others to know this miracle working God.

     

    2.  What does it mean that God has adopted you? I think a lot about God choosing me and the wonder that is, but I don’t think a lot about having been adopted. I remember a preacher saying once, “HE made you, HE redeemed you, HE chased you down, and now you get up and tell people ‘I found the Lord’. That is closer to how I feel about my story. God relentlessly pursued me until I had no where else to go. Ps 139:5 You hem me in behind and before; You have laid Your hand on me… The same preacher said God will keep blocking us as we run from Him, before us and after us, until He is able to bring His hand down upon us. We dread it because we don’t understand it, but He brings us into life and not death. Once we give up all the fighting and fleeing, we start to discover new life in our forever family.

    Parallels. Somehow, Jesus knew that once I stopped running I would really want Him. And in that way, He heard my cry. But even then, it was He who put the ability to cry, and the want of Him, within me. It is really all of Him.

  8. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? – A grateful heart! WOW, what a testimony Beth has. Her situation growing up could have turned her heart to ice for people and God. But God was with her the whole time and was molding her as He saw fit. Dee for you and Steve to follow the Lords voice that led you to Beth is amazing. The situation as she was growing up could have been so much worse, even death, but thanks to the people the Lord put in the necessary places, she was saved in more ways than one.
     
    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own? – I was chosen as well. Chosen as one of God’s children. People were put in place to plant the seeds needed and some were put in place to water them. To be adopted by God is the ultimate gift. To know that  you are not alone as you walk the path chosen for you. I am amazed at those that think they don’t need God. How do they get through the issues of life without Him, and not have any thought of their lives after they take their last breath. To not know where you are going would be scary to me.
     

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

    I never get tired of hearing Beth’s story, Dee! I also remember that you told us that when Steve would pray about adopting another child, he told you that he heard a child crying. Wow. Your family and little Beth were thousands of miles apart, and yet God was already orchestrating her adoption into your family. And the title to this week’s lesson, “Are you experiencing your Abba?” I’d like to say yes, but I am not experiencing Him in the way I’d like to. I had a very hard time with the end of last week’s lesson, about practicing Galatians 2:20 all day long. Although I know God is real, a very real, living reality, most of the time in the world that I inhabit, He seems not so real….is it because I spend most of my time among those who don’t share my faith?

    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?

    My first thought is, I don’t deserve to be God’s daughter, in His family. I didn’t do anything to earn my place there. It surely wasn’t me seeking after Him, because I didn’t know anything about Him. I don’t really remember anyone “introducing” me to Jesus when I was young, so it was ALL Him. Beth had been cruelly hurt by her parents, left to die, and abused in the orphanage. As a spiritual orphan, Satan had bad plans for my life and caused confusion and hurt for me. I needed a rescuer, just like Beth. Dee, you and Steve are examples of the mercy and love of God extending itself to those the ‘world’ might overlook.

    1. Susan, I was in and out of practicing Galatians 2:20 as well. It was a discipline, indeed even as I was cooped up at home with my husband. lol He said something and then I frowned inside. Then I think of Galatians 2:20. It was hard but I am hoping it will get easier for us as we practice it (with God’s help)? I know what you mean about being around those who don’t share your faith-I experience that as school. So we will see how tomorrow will be like as I go back to school after 5 no school snow days!

      1. Snow days! We’ve had a couple of those, too. Yes, we’ll keep practicing, with His help!

  10. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     It is one thing to know legally, you are a son of God. It is quite another to experience the love of God…that’s how intimate He wants to be with us! In my middle aged self, I don’t always remember the intimate moments of parenting. However, it is such an intimate relationship. Just the other day I was thinking about the similarities of being pregnant and having a child growing inside your body and being “in Christ”. 
    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? I guess to me it means He has given me His name and a new identity. Adoption has not had a very positive connotation for me as my Dad was adopted by extended family and while they did provide a home they were not warm people. He went to live with them at the age of 3 or 4 but was not adopted until he was much older. It was kind of an odd situation and did not leave a very favorable impression on me. 
    What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?
    Now that both of my parents have passed away and I do feel like an orphan so often…in very difficult circumstances with no one who knows me as well as my parents do to call on…I have come to experience my adoption in Christ in a new and fresh way. God certainly knows me better than even my parents did and He loves to hear me calling Abba…

    1. Lucy, love to you. I did not know that both of your parents are gone now. Yes, we have our Abba-available 24/7.

  11. 1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?
    a.  Beth’s picture and story made me cry. What a beautiful story of the Great Shepherd taking care of one of His sheep. “I cried to Him and He heard my cry.” And Steve…sensitive to the voice of God.
    b. I love adoption stories.
    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you?
    He chose!me in eternity past. He knew of my past and future messes but even then, He chose me. And the “papers” were signed with the blood of His Son. Praise the Lord!
     What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?
    I was not adopted. I was born to my own parents. Bu there was this longing to belong, this unfilled space in my heart. And I believe this was God’s way of wooing me. When I became a Christian in my late teens, I reveled in my new found faith and thankful to belong to the family of God. And to later realize that I did nothing to deserve such grace fills me with gratitude more and more each passing year.

  12. 3.  I see the concept here, that the same power that saved me from the eternal consequences of sin can save me from the current power of sin in my life. But I don’t know how that ability to deliver me happens, or what it looks like. I’ve seen and heard of people instantaneously delivered from you-name-it. But mostly I see people who continue to fight their sin, just from a different standing. We fight, not so that God will say we’ve earned the right to come in to Him, but because we want to be closer to Jesus and know we want to be rid of it.

     

    4.  I am missing something here. I don’t see in these verses anything about forgiveness as a requirement for the forgiveness we’ve been granted. I agree that we should forgive because we have been forgiven, and because it is better for us in the long run. I am looking forward to hearing what others say about this.

     

    5.  When I hold onto bitterness, I am looking to myself and my own thoughts about what is right and good. When God doesn’t do things my way, or on my timing, it is easy for me to become bitter at Him. In that I wound mostly myself.

     

     

     

     

  13. 6.  Looking at Jesus on the cross reminds me that sin is so much more than when I transgress a law. It is my every selfish motive and attitude. Proverbs says you can grind a fool finely and still not remove his folly from him. That’s how I feel about my sin. It is in my very DNA. When I really see that, I know I have no ground on which to stand in accusing anyone else. This is where, if I refuse to forgive, in truth I’m asking God to not forgive me.

     

    7.  Worry. Anxiety. When I let those emotions rule me, I am again believing that I only know what is good. I need to repent of this sinful mindset and ask for forgiveness and cleansing.

     

    8.  Food. Sex. Shopping. The truth here is that Jesus is enough, despite my frequent feelings to the contrary. In the last year I’ve had some very small successes by meditating on specific scriptures and asking Him to fill me, satisfy me. I resist doing it because it seems like so much effort, and doesn’t always work. I know I am trapped. On one hand is my idol of pleasure and on the other is my idol of approval. Any movement doesn’t feel like victory, but just inching closer to some new maladaptive behavior. I believe there is help. A different way to see this. But I’ve yet to find real help.

  14. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    Beautiful Beth! Wow what a great shot of her! Also the story of the speech…I think we have heard it before, but it still resounds. Her story is so sweet; although it doesn’t begin that way (her as a newborn losing her arm, ugh). The ending is though, I suppose that is what we should focus on for our own lives as well.
     
    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?
     

    I’m not really all that familiar with adoption, or the adoption process. God has taken me as His own, just as I am. The same was true for Beth; Dee and Steve adoptee Beth just as she was.

  15. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Beth’s adoption story and her most beautiful face, and spirit. That her story was pointing to Him not her. That He was the one who rescued her.
    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?
    Beth was a baby, helpless to save herself, and couldn’t pursue God but He pursued her, and pursued Steve to adopt her, and she responded and went with him when they came to pick her up. I was helpless, not His, and not able to save myself by doing anything other than responding to His pursuit of me. He put desire inside me for Him and I just responded.

  16. 3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?

    That we have been crucified with Christ..reminds me of that verse, that it is no longer I who live but He lives in me and His Spirit is sealed in me. That was nothing I did or could add to. V. 3 sticks out when he asks do we think we can start by believing and finish by works? (God said HE will finish the work he began in us.). I think what trips me/us up is that yes, His spirit empowers me/us to overcome the power of sin in our life but we want it overcome now..Once I experience a step of victory I tend to be relieved thinking it is over but then when I sin in that area again I forget, get discouraged and try in my own strength. As He becomes better than whatever vice holds my heart the more I am finding I rely on His power and not mine. Yet I am SUCH a babe for I slip up and He has so much more work to do in me but am glad when I see me doing something less often than before. That is HIM. The more victory, over time, I have over that sin though never completely gone until I am face to face. There should be growth though.

  17. 3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5? 
     

    Stop trying to believe that you are the reason you are saved. Christ is the reason you have new life. You have the Holy Spirit because of Him, nothing else.

     
    4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?  
     

    I think we look for the person to be punished. That would make us complete.

     
    5. How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving? 
     

    Knowing that He suffered for the worlds sin means that the sin the other person committed is already paid for and I not need worry (easier said than actually done). My husband is really struggling with Sarah’s boyfriend in this manner. He wants so bad to be the judge and convict him for all the awful things he has taught our daughter. Earthly judgement 😟.

     
    6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control? 
     

    I would be wondering how I could solve each worry myself (boy have I done this before…). Talking to myself and even pulling out my bible and reminding myself how He is the One who knows all, sees all, and orchestrates all. He has my back and won’t let unjust prevail. In the end, the story is complete without my “help.” I would have to say this over and over because letting it soak in is SO hard. We are here, He is it physically with us, so we MUST have faith He watches and knows. This is hard.

     
    7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.
     

    i have been doing the Daniel fast the past 2 weeks, and have one week to go. It is a more spiritual thing where you focus on God, not yourself (including food). I am very proud of how I have literally been at a couple of gatherings where there was plenty of refreshments and actually did not even take a bite of anything. I have given up coffee, wine, etc. and only had water to drink! Unheard of for me…coffee??? I have felt a real peace about it too. Not that I have studied the Bible any more than usual, but our church is studying Phillipians and here we are studying Galatians, and boy oh boy, it is a good thing to look at two books written by the same man, Paul, at the same time! Very cool. I am making connections. I think I am drawing closer to Him during this time. I am trusting He will get me through. I also think being with or talking to like minded people helps in the journey; community is important when your defenses are down since they are who you actually can see and feel pain with in your down times. I feel more energetic and am also getting more sleep. These are all good things and I attribute it to Christ helping me focus on what is truly the most important thing; Him. As Paul says (paraphrased), whatever helps advance the gospel then so be it.

     

  18. 3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?
    Paul is trying to get us to understand the absolute futility of being saved by faith but then trying to live by works or the law. It’s all about relationship. Vs. 5 Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? 
    In Galatians for You, Tim Keller explains how this works with forgiveness: He says if “we don’t forgive, something else has become our functional savior in place of Jesus. …We are looking to something else as a hope, to some other way to feel good and complete.”
    4. Can you resonate with the above?
    Yes, it does resonate with me and while the verses we just read don’t initially seem to connect to forgiveness…I do follow the train of thought…for the Galatians were creating all kinds of functional saviors  by reverting to a works mentality. It sounds like Keller is saying unforgiveness in a way becomes our savior.
    When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?
    When I hold on to bitterness I think I am holding on to my own rights which have been violated. I want to be the one to execute my own vengeance but scripture makes it clear that vengeance does not belong to me…it cannot…because I did not die on the cross for the sins of others…that was the cost to buy the right to execute vengeance. Only one who knows all the inner workings of a heart could ever bring about both justice and mercy. 
    5. How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving? 
    I must meditate on the cross…and celebrate the fact that I was not required to hang there to save myself. (Nor was the person who has wronged me).We are both indebted to the one who voluntarily chose to die in our place. He alone knows the true condition of our heart and how to best effect its redemption and healing. My withholding forgiveness only hinders my own healing which is what I desperately long for.
    6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? In this instance I would say my functional savior is control…I tend to worry when life seems out of control. 
    How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control?
    Lord, I refuse to worship this problem! I refuse to negate your death on the cross with which you bought my freedom. I release these circumstances to you which are beyond my control. You never intended me to carry such a heavy burden! Your willingness to die in my place shows me clearly how much you love me and how deeply I can trust you. Amen
    7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? Lord, you know how loudly the flesh cries out when it is troubled for you are our great high priest who has been tempted in every way that we have. How I long for my flesh to cry out for You…and You alone! Instead, my flesh cries out for my own way. I tend to withdraw into my work for it is there that I feel most affirmed. But Lord, my work is a wearisome task master…never letting me be still and know! The emails are always there, there are always contracts to be monitored and always questions waiting for an answer. Lord, you don’t care about answers as much as you care about sitting with the questions. Teach me to wait with you.
    If you have had success here, share what you have learned.
    When my flesh cries out for food, drink, sex…it helped to remember that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I did not want to desecrate His temple. Now that I turn from Jesus to my work most often…I am struggling to learn about the Sabbath and what that really means. Learning how to rest. It seems as if rest should come naturally but it requires a deep dependence which is what in essence is hard for me as I am fiercely independent by nature. Lord, grant me a teachable heart! 

    1. Lucy you articulate these struggles well, loved your prayers 🙂

    2. Lucy, coming back to read through your post again this morning….you have great insight as to how the verses in Galatians tie-in to what Keller is saying. Both the Galatians, and we, create all kinds of functional saviors. Your sharing of your struggles is helping me to work through some of my own!

    1. Yes,  just read Lucy’s responses here.     So very helpful.   Thank you, Lucy ~

    1. Prayers for safe travels!

        1. Hoping you are safely home tonight, Dee.

  19. 3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5? He reminds us of CHRIST’S sacrifice and asks how then was the Spirit received? He is trying to drive home the realization that they (we) could do/can do nothing to manipulate the Spirit. God does not give salvation nor work miracles in response to a job well done. It is by faith.

    4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete? Yes. I think bitterness can be a wall of protection, a means of deflecting further pain and hurt. Someone has to pay the price and absorb the pain…bitterness ensures it’s not me. I am looking to lack of pain and conflict (disapproval of me/my action) to feel good and complete.

    5. How could looking to Jesus, and to His crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving? I don’t know how to articulate it but when I look to Jesus, it just doesn’t matter anymore…not to belittle the offense but His blood absorbs it, His sacrifice opens the perfect forever where there are no tears and the offenses of this world are healed, His love assures my soul/heart in the only way that can *truly* meaningful…it’s a safe place for this oft-hurt, abondoned, introverted, scared-of-what-people-will-do-next girl. Words fail, commitments get broken, people change their minds, but Christ’s sacrifice and love IS.

    6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry.  You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control? The functional savior is the outcome…the avoidance of pain and struggle. I serve the god of ‘pain-free” with all I have sometimes. And while I think it is absolutely appropriate to ask for God’s mercy I have to do so with knowledge that I am His. He has purpose for me and my story so through every chapter I cannot serve the pain-free idol in an attempt to escape hardship…I must instead serve Him during my pain that He may be glorified and His work in me accomplished. This does not make things easier but allows the Spirit to give purpose and strength in my desert…and keeps my heart in line with the Gospel.

    Keep seeking Christ and His Word. The number one danger of pain and hardship is that it would distract me from Him, my relationship with Him, and seeking Him continually. To just keep living one day at a time verbally committing and practically stepping in His Grace. Just do the next thing and trust the outcome to Him, which often means not knowing what will come…

    7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. … How could you melt your heart with the Gospel, and trust Jesus for His love and control? See above. Trusting Him and His sacrifice… I have learned that it must be functionally  “easy” to seek Him during temptation and in between. I have written scripture that resonates with me on cards to have close by and work on memorizing. I have Gospel in Life app on phone to listen as I go about my day. I keep a Bible by the table (not by bread alone) I keep my Bible and journal in living room, ready… I keep His Word accessible in order to do battle. I write things where I can see them frequently to remind me of the choice to be made, in the place that the choice must be made and make a Christ-seeking alternative readily available.

    I can only melt my heart with Gospel if it’s readily available in concrete format (which can include memorization) …I cannot trust my easily deceived brain to preach it to me or my soul when needed! 😂 #truestory

      1. Life-giving, practical words from you, Jill.

        Yes, true story for me too  :\

  20. Monday

    3.   What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?

    He’s telling us to stop trying to be perfect by our own human effort.  We didn’t receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law but it was a result of hearing the message of Christ, with faith, believing it.

    4.   Can you resonate with the above?  When you hold onto bitterness, what do you think you were looking to in order to feel good and complete?

    Yes.  I was looking to be affirmed in my actions , stroking my hurt, and justifying it,

    5.   How could looking to Jesus, into His crucifixion, help you to trust his love and control and release the person you are not forgiving? 

    What Jesus did for me, forgiving my sins through His blood on Calvary…shouldn’t I in turn be forgiving as well?

    6.   Let’s try it with the sin of worry.   You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust his love and control? 

    I think my functional savior is wanting to be in control.  I would cast all my cares upon Him…I find that during these times Scripture verses really help me in bringing things back into perspective.  Listening to His voice is oh, so sweet and calming.

    7.   Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for his love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned. 

    Again, to think of what Christ has done for me, how much He loves me!  My desire should be to obey Him out of love not because I’m trying to earn it.

    What I have learned is, it is a daily and continual process that helps in making small strides towards success.

  21. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?  People often discuss their salvation experience from the place that they discovered God.  The truth is God rescues us and adopts us.  It is all his doing!
    2. What does it mean to you that God has adopted you? What parallels can you see between the above adoption story and your own?  I found myself in leadership positions and everyone around me seemed more significant…youth pastors, speaking at churches, missionaries or when newer people entered the church that had ministry experience they were sought after and desired to be more involved.  I found myself serving around ministry experienced people and I felt I didn’t belong.  God showed me I had an orphan spirit and brought me to this scripture…”Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
        “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;and let not the eunuch say,    “Behold, I am a dry tree.”4 For thus says the Lord:“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,    who choose the things that please me    and hold fast my covenant,5 I will give in my house and within my walls    a monument and a name    better than sons and daughters;I will give them an everlasting name    that shall not be cut off.

    I clearly saw my wrong thinking and since then the truth of my adoption is now part of me.

  22. Hi ladies…I  am back from Aussie after a month of precious time with my family. We had a beautiful memorial service for my mother who died Dec 15th. I miss her so much but know she is with Jesus. Just in time for the big Midwest freeze!!

    What stood out to me was Beth’s adoption story. Oh the grace of God in rescuing her & placing her in Dee & Steve’s loving family.

    To know I have been adopted into God’s family gives me comfort & security. I s’pose I need frequent reminders to take in that it was all God’s doing, & that He loves me & wants me that much!

    I’m going back to work tomorrow, so will be on here when I can. Love to u all.

     

    1. Hi Jenny, glad you’re back safely and that you had time with your family to honor your mom, though I know you miss her so much!

      1. So glad u are back safely Dee! 🙂

      2. Thank you, Lord for watching over Dee.

  23. 3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?

    The Galatians had forgotten their first Love–they had forgotten the truth of the Gospel that it is a gift of faith, not works. They had allowed themselves to become deceived, foolish in their thinking. They were caught in the cycle of fighting for their own self-righteousness rather than relying on Christ’s righteousness alone.

    4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?

    When I gold on to bitterness, I am looking to my own “goodness” to give me righteousness. I am claiming that I “deserve” better or to be treated better, I am turning a blind eye to my own sinful depravity and claiming to have a righteousness of my own.

    5. How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving?

    When I turn my eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face–my eyes drift away from the others’ sin towards me, and my own sin and unworthiness before Him, comes into focus. He has forgiven me more than I can even comprehend, really, so I have nothing I can hold against another.

    6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control?

    In those times of anxiety, my functional savior is my own comfort/peace and control over the situation. But when I look at Him,and remember who He is, that He is all good, all pure, holy, and just, all powerful–where else can I go? Laying it at His feet, brings a peace the world cannot offer me, the only peace that lasts.

    7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for His love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.

    Lately when things have felt hard, I have noticed my tendency to run to busy-ness. Sometimes I’ll search for heavy medical reports to read (I know I’m weird but fascinated by learning more of my son’s condition), or I’ll busy myself with housework–not “bad” things in themselves, but I know my heart and what it’s doing. In those moments, I don’t want to stop and sit with Him, I don’t want to write in my prayer journal or really talk to Him. And I was reminded this week why. It’s when some things are not going as I want and some prayers feel unanswered, again, that I feel hurt and I don’t want to talk to Him about it…and I was reminded what my heart is saying is that He doesn’t feel “useful” in certain areas and I’m frustrated. My frustration leads to avoidance–not all-out, I mean I still do my study and Church…but my heart is a little cold. So to melt my heart with the Gospel–to gaze on Him, what He has done, His love for me–the relationship is restored, and my acts of “duty” are replaced by the draw of His beauty* (*as Keller has taught).

    1. Lizzy…withdrawing to busyness is my default in this time as well. I have recognized that part of it is the hurt I have experienced in this season of marriage but when I read your comment I realized that it is also my disappointment with God that sends me running to busyness or work. I don’t want to talk to Him…love the phrase my acts of duty are replaced by the draw of His beauty!

    2. Lizzy, I too am drawn to your answer to #7.  I too can avoid stopping to “sit with Him” because I am hurt and when God doesn’t feel “useful”. What truth you are preaching to your soul to desire “His beauty” instead of “acts of ‘duty'”.

  24. 1.   What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?
    To start with, I did not come to Christ on my own. He chose me…despite me…while I was yet a sinner. So how could I believe that after being saved without having to do anything to earn it I can do life on my own?
    Lord, living life in my own strength is impossible. Yet the struggle to live it in my own strength is very real every day. Lord, help me. I need to let go and trust you. Just like Francis Shaeffer said the life of faith is trusting God moment by moment.

  25. 3.   Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?
    I am holding on to pride. “I don’t deserve this. If only the other person did not say/do this or that. And worse: If only God did not allow this to happen.” Instead of trusting God to take care of my circumstance, I let it lord over me. And then it eats at me-that search for feeling good and complete then never comes.
    4.   How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving?
    When I am reminded of the cross and what Jesus suffered for me, how can I hold on to un-forgiveness in my heart? I deserve that cross but Jesus took my place. He did say, Father forgive them. Shouldn’t I be like Jesus? I have been forgiven much, how can I not forgive others?
     
    5. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control?
    Myself, Me. I am believing that I have the answer to whatever concerns me. That God needs my help. I need to remember that He works out all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. That He loves that person I am concerned about even more than I do. That He is all knowing and all powerful and can do the impossible.

  26. 8. How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3?

     

    He believed; he had faith.

     
    9. Take a stumbling block in sin for you. There is something you are failing to believe about God. What do you think it is? 
     

    Probably that I would be happy with just God and not food, drink, earthly pleasures.

     
    10. Read Galatians 3:6-14 
    A. How can we be blessed along with Abraham according to verse 9? 
     

    By having faith.

     
    B. The Message paraphrases verse 10 like this: “And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.” Have you experienced the difference between living by your own effort and living by faith in the power of the gospel? If so, explain. 
     

    Oh yes, many times, many ways for living by my own effort. Raising my children is a good example. Much of that time was only by the effort of myself, even though we attended church and raised the kids that way. In my later years I learned that God has the power, not me. Isn’t that sad that it took me so long to learn that point, even though I had gone to church all those years growing up as a child?  Then, I taught my kids the same thing; you go to church and be a good person and you will go to heaven. Yuck! I did used to say to them “I love you no matter what,” but I don’t think they learned that God loves them no matter what. We are breaking the pattern with Cooper and Grace our grandkids. We are/will teach them the gospel; that God loves them “no matter what;” the gospel.

     
    C. The Message paraphrases verses 11-12 like this: “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” What do you think this means? Be specific.
     

    I think this means that we must embrace all situations with a satisfied heart, no matter how terrible the circumstances are to us. If God allows it in our lives then it must be good in some way. For example, our daughter is lying about us and the grandkids. Even though the court (the judge) knows she is mentally challenged, he is entertaining the idea and we are getting ready to embark on a journey we never wanted to take, which means we will be investigated by the state. The whole situation is so unfair but here we are. My husband is tired. Please pray we can remain strong through these trials. Please pray we can find the good in this situation.

  27. 3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5?

    Paul is asking us to think….how did our salvation come about? Was it by observing the law (by works), or was it by believing what we heard – that Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins? What did we “do” to deserve salvation?

    4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?

    Yes, I do resonate with Tim Keller’s thoughts about looking to something (or someone) else to feel good, to feel complete. I most often do this with people rather than with material things, though I can get that ‘lift’ from buying something new. I believe I have a bit of insecurity about myself, and I look to others for validation that I’m “okay”.  As to bitterness….I never understood the root of it until we studied idolatry here. I remember one of Keller’s sermons in which he told about two women: they both had husbands who mistreated them and negatively affected their sons. Because the one woman’s idol was her son, she wasn’t able to forgive her husband for his actions. So in trying to flesh this out in myself, when I hold onto bitterness, it must be because something or someone is threatening my idol(s). I am angry and bitter because I am not getting the approval/affirmation I want, because my security and comfort is being taken away, or because I am not in control. I have struggled with this when I feel someone has hurt one of my children, or when I feel I have been left out in favor of someone else. I can also just have a general attitude of “this isn’t fair….I deserve better!”

    5. How could looking to Jesus, and to His crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving?

    I suppose that “looking to” Jesus and His death is to realign my thinking, as Paul said to Peter, “you are not acting in line with the truth of the gospel.” First, what or whom have I given the place in my heart that Jesus alone should occupy? Who was it that died for me? And if He died for me, did He not also die for the person that I am bitter towards? Does His love not extend to them as well? And if I’m feeling the ‘not fair’ thing, I need reminded that the one thing that was really not fair was that Jesus, who was innocent, died a sinner’s death and took my punishment. His love, and my dependence and trust in it, is the only thing that will fill the deep insecurities in me that I try to fill with other things, and then get angry when they don’t. He demonstrated His love in the greatest way – on the Cross.

     

    1. Susan…I didn’t do the study on idolatry so your explanation about bitterness taking root was so helpful to me. I have struggled to understand the “root of bitterness” and it makes so much sense that it takes root when one of my idols is threatened. Lord, help me to root out any idols I have and expose them for what they are…nothing but my own attempts to effect my own salvation!

  28. 8. How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3?

    Love how The Message reads for these 2 verses… “He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.” and “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.” 

    9. Take a stumbling block in sin for you. There is something you are failing to believe about God. What do you think it is?

    I have recently come through a long and intense decade of caregiving. We are now empty nesters and I have been longing for this time of relative freedom to have more time to focus on marriage and quiet times. But, my husband has turned to his idols and shut me out. This has gone on for the last 3 years. He is a believer as am I. We have done all the right things…sought counsel- separately and together, prayed, kept on going to church, etc…but no improvement. In my honest moments…I ask God…how could You.? After all that I have done, don’t I deserve better? I have turned back to Him again and again and prayed that He would help my unbelief but I have yet to sense His nearness in this situation.

    Lord, let me begin, like Abraham, to enter into what You are doing for me. Lord, let that be my turning point. I choose this morning, noon, and night to trust that You are setting me right. I confess and repent of the sin of trying to be right on my own. Lord, please,draw near!

    1. Lucy–your post gripped my heart. Praying now for you & your husband–healing and renewal

    2. Lucy, may our Lord’s mercy be recognizable and soothing to your hurting heart~

       

    3. Lucy, this post also gripped me. I will pray for you and your husband – that God will melt your hearts, that rescue will come. How hard this must be.

    4. Lucy, I’m so sorry for your painful marriage situation; it’s hard to feel lonely in the midst of your marriage. I do not know what your husband’s idols are, but to help you, you may be interested in the ministry of Leslie Vernick. She is a Christian counselor and has many free resources online. She is on FB and you can also go to her website: http://www.leslievernick.com. She has written several books, and on her FB page, she has several videos that she does from her home that you can watch. I have found her teaching very helpful.

      1. Thanks so much Susan!

  29. 4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete?

    I am not given to holding onto bitterness, but in the midst of a situation in which I desire to find someone to blame I think my desire is to have control and sometimes I can begin to feel superior to the person I deem to be at fault.

    5. How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving?
    I have recently been thinking about the parable of the wheat and the tares:
    Matthew 13:24-30 New King James Version (NKJV)
    The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
    24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”
     
    There are some people involved in the conflict at church whose lack of self-examination is cause for concern as to whether they are actually in Christ. I don’t know, and I don’t have to figure it out.
    I can pray if they are in Christ that the Spirit will move and if they are not that they will be rescued as I have been. God in his wisdom knows what is best for his people, he won’t root out enemies at the cost of destroying his children, but he will, in the end, make those judgments. I don’t have to.

    Does this seem right, they way I am thinking about this?

      1. Thank you Dee, I love you too…so much 🙂

  30.  
    7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.

    This is my weak spot, I don’t like to be stressed out, I avoid situations in which there is a chance I will feel inadequate, I desire ease, my soft clothes, my couch, solitude, I want to eat something delicious and I want to be alone while I do. I want to be alone too much.

    I have made progress for sure, the Spirit keeps impressing on me that our faith is grown in community, that is evidenced here on the blog.  I am far more likely to say yes to face to face opportunities, even when it means that I will be busier than I would choose or I may not be able to keep my house as I would like to because of them.

    It is weird how much the conflict at church, the thought of leaving has heightened the importance of people and relationship to me, even the ones I don’t really prefer, I wouldn’t choose the idea of never seeing them again. And the ones who are dear to me, well I realize that isn’t something to be tossed lightly aside.
    I have grown in recognizing that taking care of my body is a responsible act of worship. I can enjoy delicious things (real food in reasonable amounts when I am hungry) also as an act of worship, I often thank God that we get so much variety…more than manna 🙂

    When I am indulging the flesh I don’t get the satisfaction that my craving promises, it is a bottomless pit with an insatiable me at the center. I am quicker now to see when I am thinking that stupid pit looks like a good idea.  God isn’t in that pit.

    1. Chris,- eating as an act of worship. Wow-that sure puts things in perspective. What a holy experience that would be instead of the rush and dash I do when I eat at times. Either chocolate or broccoli-an opportunity to commune with God.

    2. Thanks Dee for directing me to Chris’ post. This is good. If I make eating, satisfying my cravings as an act of worship, and knowing that I’m to take care of the temple the Lord gave me, will help me make better choices in what I put in it. Loved too that God isn’t in the pit. Chris this was good!

  31. 8. How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3?
    By faith…

    This makes me want to see the places where really unbelief rules me.
     
    I then launch into self reproach about my unbelief…it is helpful to me to remember that Abraham believed God, but wasn’t perfect in this, he also had times where he didn’t.

      1. Thank you Chis and Dee ~   “big faith and big lapses” ~   So helpful and timely.

  32.  Tuesday-Wednesday 

    8.   How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3?

    Abraham became right with God because of his faith.

    9.   Take a stumbling block in sin for you.   There is something you are failing to believe about God what do you think it is?   

    I think what I am failing to believe about God, is that He truly accepts me just the way I am.  I know I didn’t earn my salvation and nothing I do makes God love me any more.  I say this because of my sin of having a critical spirit.  If I pick apart what others do or say for whatever reason…why should God accept me the way I am?  Seeing how this all ties together makes me realize how deep seeded this sin is in my life.

    Oh God, Abba Father, I ask forgiveness for my sin of a critical spirit.  I want to believe that You truly accept me the way I am and that You’re not sitting up there picking apart everything I do,  but loving me in spite of everything I do- help my unbelief!  May I love others and see them as You see me.

    1. Sharon–I appreciate and relate to what you shared here in #9. You speak wisdom here to me too–there is a tie between being critical of others’ weakness, and believing God accepts our own. Thank You Lord for Your abundant grace~

  33. 8. How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3?

    He believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.

    9. Take a stumbling block in sin for you. There is something you are failing to believe about God. What do you think it is?

    Always my same area–wanting to control. There’s a situation right now that I want to work out a certain way. I have zero control over it. I pray. Sometimes I get impatient and then I get pushy.  Still, I can’t control it and if I linger on the possible outcome I don’t want coming to fruition, I get anxious and frustrated. I am failing to believe that whatever God allows IS best–I know that in theory, but I also know He allows things I don’t think sound good… but it’s then that I must cling to the truth. His ways are higher. He DOES know best. He is for me. He will carry me through whatever He allows,  and if that ends up being the very thing I don’t want, He promises to use it for His good purpose–to refine and strengthen me… to bring Himself glory. Believe Him, and rest. The trials will make me more sweet or more bitter–the only thing I can control is releasing my grip of fear, and trusting Him. Oh please Father, help my unbelief!

    https://youtu.be/U-BK4SVi9HI

    1. Thanks for sharing Lizzy…”Help my unbelief, my help must come from Thee!”

    2. Lizzy,   Thank you for posting this beautiful song/prayer.    Taking my guitar to visit grandchildren and I hope to learn this song while I am there this weekend.

  34. 8.  Abraham became right with God when he believed God. The Amplified says “Abraham believed, and adhered to and trusted in and relied on God, and it was reckoned and placed to his account and accredited as righteousness – as conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought and action.”

     

    9.  Stumbling block in sin for me. What am I failing to believe about God in it?

    Lord, I cry out to You again about my besetting sin. I don’t know what I am falsely seeing about You, but I want to see it so that I can confess and repent of it. I want it all brought out into the light so that You can deal with every part of it. I’ve cried out often and long enough to think that I’m deceived and there is no issue here, that the devil is using this to distract me from You. Or that it is even bigger than I think, and You are working toward the time I can be delivered and I’ll be able to see Your hands all over it. I want You to be glorified in all of my life, and to use every bit of my pain and failures to influence others for You. Help me to keep fighting and searching for Your answers.

     

     

  35. 10. Read Galatians 3:6-14 A. How can we be blessed along with Abraham according to verse 9?

    By having faith in Christ, believing God.

    B. The Message paraphrases verse 10 like this: “And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.” Have you experienced the difference between living by your own effort and living by faith in the power of the gospel? If so, explain.

    Yes. The truth of the elder brother in the prodigal story hit home to me and my efforts at “goodness” in college, but it’s still a default mode for me to try to present myself well or think my merits carry weight. Having that image marred out of my control last year to a devastating point, has changed me though. I was sharing with a group today, now that I feel stripped bare, I actually feel less insecure than I did before–my identity has been re-aligned to it’s proper source–not my works, but His. Thankful for that grace.

  36. 7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.
     I have a sense of entitlement at times when it comes to the flesh. But always, I mean always it never has brought satisfaction. I am not saying that the 3 S’s are wrong in themselves but I can always tell when any of these 3 become my functional savior. You get it and then you say, is that all? LOL But when it comes to looking to Jesus, when I really, really seek Him and make Him Lord, the satisfaction is beyond explanation it brings me to tears. And the funny thing is when sugar, sex and shopping are engaged in in light of who I am in Christ, it does bring a sense of satisfaction, if just a hint of that which I will experience in Heaven.
    Example: I love to read and have a list of books to buy. I mean real books, not the Kindle kind. Lately, I have been learning to put things on my wish list instead of buying it right away online. I pray and “sit” on it for a while and then if after so many days, I still feel the nudge to buy it, then I go ahead. There is also that sense of awareness that if I am meant to have it that in God’s timing, I will be able to get the book I want. The waiting is often the hardest part.

    1. This resonates with me Bing:

      “when sugar, sex and shopping are engaged in in light of who I am in Christ, it does bring a sense of satisfaction, if just a hint of that which I will experience in Heaven.”

      It is different when I enjoy good gifts as if the Lord is present with me than when I am greedily trying to fill that emptiness in me with my face turned away from him.

  37. 3. What is Paul telling us in Galatians 3:1-5? – that we are trying to control our situations on our own, thinking we are doing it by ourselves instead of seeing that the Holy Spirit is the one guiding us and giving us what we need.
     
    In Galatians for You, Tim Keller explains how this works with forgiveness: He says if “we don’t forgive, something else has become our functional savior in place of Jesus. …We are looking to something else as a hope, to some other way to feel good and complete.”
     
    4. Can you resonate with the above? When you hold on to bitterness, what do you think you are looking to in order to feel good and complete? – I can relate to this. Holding on to bitterness or unforgiveness I’m holding on to my self. Thinking that I deserve to have an apology said to me, for someone to say they are sorry to me. I’m not remembering what God has done for me, by giving his one and only Son for me. I need to look to him for my reward and happiness. The person I’m waiting for is not the one hurting but I am, they don’t know and may not care. So for me to hold this grudge is only hurting my witness to those who may be watching me.
     
    5. How could looking to Jesus, and to his crucifixion, help you to trust His love and control and release the person you are not forgiving? – I think I answered this question in my above answer, but I need to remember how much was given up for me, yet I did not deserve one bit of it, so for me to not forgive is making the sacrifice Jesus mad all for nothing.
     
    6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control? – This just happened to me as I could not sleep thinking of the surgery I just had Monday. I was worrying about how good the person would be putting in the IV, I was worried about getting sick from the anesthesia. What I needed to do was give the procedure to Jesus and let him carry me through it. I needed to put Him in control of it and not my worry. Once I was in the preop room, I kept praying Lord you got this, make everything be ok. And of course He did. There was no issue with the IV being put in and no sickness from anesthesia at all. I need to not worry but make my request of my issues be known to Jesus.
     
    7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned. – I am following a health couch to help me get on track to make better choices in my food. She is a Christian and her thoughts about beating your cravings is to pray, wait 5-10 minutes and drink some water. This will help you to focus on the Word and not your cravings. This is working for me, so I try to hold off on rushing to the things that will hurt me and turn to the One that won’t
     

    1. Julie…holding onto bitterness or unforgiveness I’m holding on to myself…so powerfully deep to me this morning!

  38. 8. How did Abraham become right with God according to Galatians 3:6 and Romans 4:3? – He became right because he believed God.
    9. Take a stumbling block in sin for you. There is something you are failing to believe about God. What do you think it is? – I think I doubt that God will hear me, because I fail every day. I fail at praying until the end. I fail at being observant to those around me. I fail so why should he help me? But God sees past those faults of mine and is there to help me anyway. He is always there even in my doubting times.
     
    Cry out, “Abba, Father — I believe — help my unbelief!” Let the Gospel melt your heart. One way you know the Spirit is at work in you is that you are fighting this sin and not just surrendering.
     
    10. Read Galatians 3:6-14
     
    A. How can we be blessed along with Abraham according to verse 9? – We need to have faith like Abraham did.
     
    B. The Message paraphrases verse 10 like this: “And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.” Have you experienced the difference between living by your own effort and living by faith in the power of the gospel? If so, explain. – When I try to handle my situations on my own, I mess it up every time. I put my own stumbling blocks in the way. I jump to soon and the timing is all off. When I put God in my situations, everything falls in place in His timing. Kind of like dominoes lined up just perfectly and when the first one is pushed, they all fall in line. I need to learn to pray, wait and listen for the go ahead.
     
    C. The Message paraphrases verses 11-12 like this: “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” What do you think this means? Be specific. – I’m thinking this means that we think we are doing right when we do things that WE think we should be doing for God instead of searching our spirit to see how HE is leading us to the plan he has already laid out for us. We need to take his path at the Y and not ours. 
     

  39.  

    11. A. What came first — the law or the promise? Why is this significant?

     

    The promise came first. He says it can’t be broken.

    The promise is an inheritance whereas the law is the reflection of our sin. Jesus took this sin as part of the promise, so the promise could be fulfilled and we would be forever inheiritors of the promise of forever salvation.

     

    B. What is the purpose of the law according to Galatians 3:24 and how does it do this?

     

    It was our guardian until Christ came to take over. It was protection until we had faith. Once Christ came it was no longer necessary.

  40. 10.a.  How can we be blessed along with Abraham?  It is the same believing faith that puts us into place to receive blessings, just like him.

    b.  The two years or so before I came to Jesus were filled with misery for me. I knew God had what I wanted, but I was powerless to behave in such a way as to earn it. Once I came to Him, surrendered, really, I began to know that He had earned it for me. That He was willing to let me claim it in His name, though I didn’t deserve it.

    c.  The Phillips version made sense to me. “No one is justified in God’s sight by obeying the law, for, the righteous will live by faith. And the law is not a matter of faith at all, but of doing.” I think it means we have one of two choices in regards to righteousness with God. We either try to earn it or we receive His gift of it.

     

    11.a.  The promise came before the law. This is significant because it shows the law was all about showing us how much we needed the promise. We couldn’t do it on our own.

    b.  The Living  says the law was our teacher and guide until the cross. I had pretty much answered this in A before I read B.

  41. 6. Let’s try it with the sin of worry. You are anxious and unable to sleep, going over concerns in your heart. What do you think is your functional savior? How could you release this to Jesus and trust His love and control?

    One of the things I worry the most about is future loss, being alone, missing my daughter when she goes off to college and it’s just me and my husband in the home. Without them – my children, I somehow feel less than a family, lacking meaning and purpose in my life. So, I’d have to say that my children have been my functional saviors, giving me purpose, meaning, identity. My marriage has been disappointing, lacking closeness and intimacy. My daughter and I are much closer than I am with my husband; we like to talk, do things together and just enjoy each others company. I have always been dependent upon others to feel loved and secure. I need to learn how to lean on Jesus, and how to be secure in my identity in Him. I’ve heard lots of good sermons about this topic, but still hard to put it into practical action steps.

    7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping….your functional savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for His love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.

    Of those three, I would run to shopping. Not a big purchase, but even the little ones add up. In a way, I hate the cell phones we have now – it’s so easy, when relaxing at night, to pick up that phone and do some browsing on the internet, and the next thing….I just saw a really cute top that I really don’t need, but….Not that buying something is always a sin, but when I do it because I am bored, avoidance of dealing with a problem, or trying to find comfort and security, or even approval (if I look nice, won’t others notice?), I should be picking up my Bible or reading an edifying book instead. What melts my heart is to think about what Jesus has done for me, who He is, the relationship that He offers to me is so much better than anything this world or money has to offer. And, like Mary who sat at His feet and listened to Him, and Jesus said that what she had would not be taken away from her, so it is if I choose to spend time with Him rather than turning to an idol.

  42. 10. Read Galatians 3:6-14 
    A. How can we be blessed along with Abraham according to verse 9? We must live by faith.
    B. The Message paraphrases verse 10 like this: “And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.” Have you experienced the difference between living by your own effort and living by faith in the power of the gospel? If so, explain
    When my oldest son was born, I felt strongly led to offer him to the Lord and did this when I was home alone by symbolically holding him up and praying a prayer of offering. I wrestled with that decision for several days because it felt weighty and risky. I had struggled with infertility and I felt like this was staking my claim that my son would not be an idol to me. In the ensuing years (he is now 29) I have tried lots of parenting “by the book” for this strong willed son of mine. That did not go well at all😊 He has gone down and continues to go down many hard paths and some of those out of anger at his parents. At one point he was in such a difficult place, I knew only the Lord could intervene. My sons life has been spared in several very bad car accidents and other encounters with his choices and I know it is the Lord’s doing. My son grew up on scripture and hungered for it even as a young boy reading the Bible through at the age of 8-9. I think I have been able to leave him in God’s hands because I surrendered him in his first weeks of life and I have had peace about him and can enjoy him when we are together. It has not been easy by any stretch and I have certainly reverted back to using my own efforts to change him many times but God has given grace! 
    C. The Message paraphrases verses 11-12 like this: “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” What do you think this means? Be specific. 
    I think this means that in order for me to be rightly related to God, I have to embrace the cross as the only way of salvation…there is absolutely nothing I can do to save myself. If in my actions I am unconsciously doing them for a reward then I am still stuck in my old nature…but if they flow from a heart overflowing with love and gratitude then my new man is flourishing. When I am treated unfairly or suffer injustice I no longer have to react in anger and bitterness because I have a higher authority than myself who is my defender. I no longer have to defend myself!
    11. Read Galatians 3:15-25. (This is a challenging passage, but I want you to get just a few things from it) 
    A. What came first — the law or the promise? Why is this significant?
    The promise…came 430 years before to Abraham…even earlier to Eve! 
    B. What is the purpose of the law according to Galatians 3:24 and how does it do this?
    The law was to be a guard that kept us until the time our faith was to be revealed. The law was a tutor, teaching us of God’s holiness in order to introduce us to Christ that He might confer on a right relationship with He who created us. God’s own sense of justice is much deeper than my own and to be in His presence requires a holiness beyond my comprehension. Only the blood of Jesus was sufficient to justify the penalty for my sin and allow me back into His presence. Love how the Message illustrates this passage!

    1. Lucy,

      Your response to 10B is heart rending. I too have a 30 year old son whose life has been spared more than once.  I have been learning to entrust his life to God.   It isnt easy but our God has given me grace and much mercy.
       

      1. It is encouraging to here stories from others in similar circumstances. Thanks for sharing! May we keep pressing in to our big God!

  43. 7. Let’s try it with indulging the flesh. You want to run to sugar, sex, shopping… your functional Savior. How could you melt your heart with the gospel, flee the temptation, and trust Jesus for HIs love and control? If you have had success here, share what you have learned.

    Please indulge me in a longer post to answer this. This is what I am learning, not what I have learned but I can’t figure out how to shorten it.

    When life gets tough, most of us run to something to comfort us – some “small” indulgence to make us feel better, such as food, shopping, sex, entertainment. As an old ad sings, “You deserve a break today, so get out and get away at McDonalds.” However, we all know deep inside that our indulgences do not satisfy. Yet, “you deserve a break today” is a deep-seated assumption in our culture. However, it is the devil’s lie. We need a stronger medicine. We are sick with no cure. When the emotional pain screams within us, it is only death that will work – death to the sin within us. It is not our circumstances that cause our pain; it is that the circumstances bring out the sin within us.

    “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body [sin], you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

    John Owen says, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”

    I read an article last week in the Desiring God website by Rachel Jankovic that hit me between the eyes. It is called “Your identity in Christ means war”. I am still pondering it. I posted the link late last week, but here it is again.

    https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/your-identity-in-christ-means-war?fbclid=IwAR38mTZttPjT9MZpi1w27yjEtdiTh8VIkq-bsFzGYSyUF3KxQlVRMLTkV48

    She suggested that, instead of our identity in Christ being a warm cozy blanket of indulgence, it is a cold steel sword by which we are meant to fight a battle against our flesh, to die to sin. What if, instead of indulging ourselves when we are tempted, we hear the battle cry and FIGHT? We stand up and scream NO to our desire to pamper ourselves with more food, more minutes of sleep, more screen time, more whatever? Or, conversely, we refuse to keep running on the hamster’s wheel to earn our own salvation?

    Jankovic says, “When you are true to your identity in Christ, you must be the enemy of sin in yourself. You must hate those cold hands on your neck enough to make them captive to Christ, enough to cry out to your Savior in the confidence that he will see them dead.”

    “Jesus loves you, which is why he would kill that part of you that loves sin. If we want to live well, we must learn to die in him. Your identity in Christ is what gives you the courage, the ability, and the desire to do this. In Christ, your sin cannot rule over you. In Christ, you do not want it to. In Christ, we have the strength to fight it. And in Christ, we will ultimately have the victory.”

    1. I read this right before bed last night Diane, I have been pondering all of it since then.
      What you have shared is rich and convicting…thank you for calling us to arms.