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Do You Have The Joy of a Gospel Transformed Life?

In October, Eugene Peterson, known

best for The Message

and for his inextinguishable joy,

went home to be with the Lord.

On his passing, the family wrote:

During the previous days, it was apparent that he was navigating

the thin and sacred space between earth and heaven.

We overheard him speaking to people we can only presume

were welcoming him into paradise…

Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go.’

And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up

to his blessed end, smiling frequently.

In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence.

But if you have to say something say this: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’

From where did Peterson’s joy come?

If you wonder what happened to all the joy you once had,

you probably have lost your grasp on the gospel.

Peterson’s son joked at his funeral that he only had one sermon,

just dressed up in different ways. The thrust?

God sees you through and through and still loves you to the sky.

Peterson, as The Message might say in colloquial English,

got Galatians!

He wrote this commentary on Galatians:

 The cover shows a man fairly floating over this world,

because Christ has set him free from the idols that enslave:

free from the approval of man,

free from needing to have power or be in control, 

and free from engineering his own comfort & security!

How did he get set free to experience such joy?

In this commentary, Peterson reflects on Galatians 1:3-4 (KJV):

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father,

and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for our sins,

that he might deliver us from this present evil world…

Peterson writes: 

The key word “deliver” (exaireo) denotes not a removal from,

but a rescue from the power of…

The rescue is not from the world, but from sin,

which separates us from God.

Peterson gives documentations of deliverance in the lives of 

Joseph, Peter, and Paul.

Hearing these stories strengthens us to release our own idols,

trusting God in the momentary pain,

tasting freedom, and pressing on for more!

You have stories too,

and together, we’ll encourage one another to press on,

for it is for freedom that Christ set you free.

 

Sunday:

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

2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.

Monday: Will God Just Let Me Sit In My Pain?

It was our own Rebecca who so honestly asked, in her struggle with overeating, that if she stopped, “Will God just let me sit in my pain?” We could ask the same question for any sin: “If I truly forgive from my heart, will God just let me sit in my pain?” “If I say yes to God every time, will my life become too hard?”

Rebecca decided God was good and trusted Him. By faith, she put away her nightly guilty pleasure of hiding out in her bedroom from her four “crazy” boys, eating pie in front of the news. Knowing idols cannot be removed but only replaced, she began to read spiritually edifying books. “It wasn’t a quick fix,” she says, “But in time God met me. I experienced His presence.” Rebecca has His joy!

We have to face that there is going to be initial pain, and our idols will put up a fight. Take forgiveness. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that when you forgive, you have to pay a cost that someone else deserves to pay — and that hurts. But freedom follows. Freedom came for Rebecca, for freedom is waiting, after the pain. 

Although the following is a parable rather than a historical story of deliverance, Jesus was definitely making a point on what will happen to those who trust God enough to repent!

3. Read Luke 15:17-22

    A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?

    B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door?

4. Read Luke 15:25-31

   A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness?

   B. What do you think his life was like afterwards?

5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?

Tuesday: Peterson and Spurgeon on Joseph

Peterson uses Joseph as a “documentation of deliverance,” illustrating Galatians 1:3-4.

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father,

and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for our sins,

that he might deliver us from this present evil world…

In his youth, Joseph was not without guilt, and certainly unwise in flaunting himself above his brothers. Yet their sin against him is astounding. Joseph turned to God again and again, trusting His goodness even when everything seemed stacked against him. Through these trials, God shaped him into a great heart, and we see his increasing strength and Christ-like character.

Peterson writes:

Remembering the Joseph story, we realize that no pit or prison is inaccessible to the freeing, delivering, rescuing power of God, and that freedom, once established even in one person, extends itself even into political and social relationships and cultural movements. (Traveling Light, p. 24)

Borgeous: Joseph Recognizing and Reconciling with Brothers

In my life, one of my greatest sources of joy is seeing how the dynamite power of the gospel which I have experienced ripples out to others. As John explained in his 1st letter, that when the fellowship they have experienced ripples out to others, it makes their joy full. (See 1 John 1:3-4) When I see you growing, experiencing more power and freedom, it does indeed make my joy full. I feel the same when I see it with friends and family. I stand in awe and feel like I’m being born again all over again!

6. Can you think of a way the freedom you have experienced has rippled out to others? Share one illustration if possible, and how it has given you joy.

Read the one page sketch on Joseph by Charles Spurgeon here and share how God summed up Joseph’s life:

7. Read Genesis 39:1-21

A. Summarize this account.

B. What do you learn about Joseph from verses 2 and 21?

C. How did Joseph speak to his soul when he faced temptation according to verse 9?

8. What can you learn from this documentation of deliverance to apply to your specific pits and temptations? Be specific.  

 

Wednesday: Stephen, the First Martyr, on Joseph.

The sermon that led to Stephen’s stoning showed how Joseph had inspired him.

9. Read Acts 6:8-15.

A. What do you learn about Stephen in verse 8?

B. What sin did the “Freedmen” commit against Stephen?

C. What did the members of the Sanhedrin see in Stephen? (vs. 15)

10. Read Acts 7:9-16

A. What does Stephen remember about Joseph in verses 9-10?

B. How did Joseph’s rescue speak to the Pharaoh and ultimately to his family?

    C. Why might have Joseph’s story been particularly helpful to Stephen as he faced martyrdom?

11. Challenge Question: This is deep, but important — and we will go more deeply into it the week we reach Galatians 3. But see if you can see, from Galatians 3:1-2, how Stephen applied the secret of deliverance from sin by means of the gospel.

Thursday-Friday: Keller Sermon

      Rescue - Timothy J. Keller

12. Share your notes and comments.

Saturday:

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

 

 

 

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130 comments

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

    What stood out to me was that Peterson’s life evidenced that if we grasp that “God sees you through and through and still loves you to the sky” & that we’ve been rescued from the power of sin, the fruit in our lives will be joy.

    2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.
     
    I re-read in the Message and in the Amplified Bible. It stood out to me that no one explained the gospel to Paul yet he began immediately, according to Acts 9:22, “to prove that Jesus was the Christ”

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

    I have a similar response as Chris.   That “God sees you through and through and still loves you to the sky.”   This is the truth that I often speak to my soul to combat the murmur of accusations (both true and false) against myself that can occur at any given moment.

    2. Read Galations 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.

    The final verse says,  “That man who once persecuted us is now preaching the very message he used to try to destroy.”  Their response was to recognize and worship God because of me!    What stood out was that Paul’s story called attention to God Himself and that that was what Paul wanted.    

    May our stories call attention to what God does in our broken lives.

     

    P.S.   Here is a link to a beautiful 18 minute link in a recent interview with Eugene Peterson, produced by Navigator Ministries.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaMgIvbXqSk

    1. Nila, thank you for the link to E. Peterson. I love the kingfisher story – it gives me encouragement not to give up on prayer and my job as a teacher.

    2. I enjoyed watching this Peterson video. It gave a sense of who he was as a person.

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

    “the thin and sacred space” between this life and Heaven. When I imagine those who I love who have passed this life, that they have journeyed that “sacred space”–there is just something about trying to imagine how very sacred and sweet that space must be, to connect us from here to Home.

    Also this, makes me yearn to experience the same in my life: “Christ has set him free from the idols that enslave, free from the approval of man, free from needing to have power or be in control, and free from engineering his own comfort & security!”

    I also thought of this from Peterson’s “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, speaking of joy:

    “Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience… We can decide to live in response to the abundance of God and not under the dictatorship of our own poor needs.”

    1. How powerful:  “We can decide to live in response to the abundance of God and not under the dictatorship of our own poor needs!”

  4. 1. What stands out to you?
    a. “…was navigating the thin and sacred space between earth and heaven.” Praying this would be an experience for me when the Lord calls me home. It makes me not fear death.
    b. “The key word “deliver” (exaireo) denoted not a removal from, but a rescue from the power of…not from the world, but from sin, which separates us from God.” To me, this means that while I am here in this world, there will always be a struggle within me to either sin or choose the things of God. But I can be thankful that the salvation I have received in Christ which rescued me from the penalty of sin will carry me through and through the temptations and sins of this life until I see Him face to face. I am not left alone powerless to live a godly life because Christ is in me and I can do all  things through Him who strengthens me. and the One who made this promise is Him who is faithful.

  5. I feel like I kind of abandoned this group without any explanation but over the recent months life just got very involved for me and as much as I appreciated this study group I didn’t have time to enter into it. This afternoon I saw the email for this and decided to see where the study was going now.  Actually my time has been greatly involved with the care of my Aunt who was my mother’s youngest sister. I was involved with moving her to an assisted living facility and then the dispensing of most of her things.  At age 86 Aunt Alice went home to be with Jesus the week before Christmas. Being reminded here of  Eugene Peterson’s death reminds me of the sweetness of my Aunt’s passing away. I had the privilege of being with her during her last days and moments. She had never married or had children of her own so her care fell to me over the last couple of years. Because of our relationship over the years it wasn’t a burden but a natural thing to help her as she navigated breast cancer and a mastectomy. Interestingly that isn’t what caused her death but other age related health issues. She had accepted Jesus into her life as a young girl through the influence of a godly mother (my grandmother) and her Sunday school and church attendance hearing the Gospel taught. As I sat with her the last few days of her life she was in that “thin and sacred space between this life and Heaven”.  I feel it was a great privilege to be there and I tried hard to be a listener.  I wrote down little bits of what she would say.  She was in and out of a dream like state and her thoughts seemed to be related to as if she was going somewhere. On 3 different occasions the day before she died she looked at me and said “Did you hear that?”  The room was very quiet and I said “No”. She would answer “I did!” And then she smiled at me very contentedly.  She also seemed to talk with some others in the room that I couldn’t see.  Her peace was amazing to me and her mood was never troubled. She would randomly smile or even chuckle.

    The day she passed away she was quiet and peaceful sleeping most of the day until she slipped away while we were all out of the room. It was about 10:00 pm when I came back into her room by myself. The rattling was gone, she had stopped breathing and it was perfectly quiet. I took her face in my hands and she was still very warm. I exclaimed Alice you are gone!  You have gone to be with Jesus! The peace of her dying still amazes me. She had hand written her own obituary a couple of years ago and on the top in bold letters she had written “GONE TO LIVE WITH JESUS!”  I loved the reality of that.  I am now involved with still dispensing of things and her estate so my time for now is still quite full. I can only hope to finish as well as she did. I just had to share in light of what I had read  here today. 

    1. Bev,

      Thank you for sharing these moments from your aunt’s last few days of life.   Beautiful.

    2. That was beautiful Bev and you have been missed. I hope you’ll be able to jump back in soon!

    3. Oh, Bev!  This is an absolutely beautiful account of your dear aunt’s homegoing to live with Jesus!  What certain hope the Christian has!  Thank you for being there for her to the end.

    4. Oh Bev, I’m sorry for your loss and will pray for peace to come to you. Your Aunt Alice sounds like a lovely woman and you were blessed to have each other as long as you did.

    5. Thanks for sharing your beautiful testimony, Bev.

    6. oh Bev, this is just lovely….tears and more tears. I have never been good at hard things like this but your experience makes it seem so sweet. I have heard that is just how people “would like to go;” in their sleep. It make me think of those who have no one like you to help them through. It makes me fearful of my daughter and her circumstances; will she be alone and die (she does not take care of herself). I have never been with anyone as they die. I don’t know how I would react. But, you are helping me understand that it does not have to be the way I have heard it can be. I have heard that sometimes death is not so pretty at the end. Thank you for this imagery.

  6. 1. What stands out to  you from the above and why? Freedom! It’s the running theme. So many people think that Christianity is rules, regulations and restrictions when in reality it is simply freedom.

     

    1. I love this simple summary, Dawn!

    2. Yes, Dawn! One word!

  7. 1.  What stands out is the line: releasing our own idols, trusting God in the momentary pain, tasting freedom…. I’ve never thought of idols as something I could set free or release. Somehow I’ve always seen them as having a hold of me. Lately I’ve very much seen them as an addiction, something I need to be set free of, rather than something I set free from me. Then, momentary pain. Momentary I’m pretty sure I can handle, but the stuff that lingers, that’s a problem. I’m afraid of lingering pain. But I do want to taste freedom. Guess I need to keep pressing in and pressing on.

     

     

  8. Sunday:
     
    1. What stands out to  you from the above and why? – I just love the joy that Eugene Peterson had all the way through is death. He never skipped a beat on his joy received from the Lord. I love that Galatians will teach us how to be free from everyone and everything that is not needed in our lives, but will lead us to the peace of God.
     
    2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you. – What I see tonight as I read Galatians one is how some that we are around in today’s world are trying to pull us away from the one True Gospel. They interpret the scriptures in a way that suits their needs. I also love too, and I think I mentioned this yesterday too, is that Paul was not following the Lord in the beginning of his life, but God was waiting for his eyes and heart to open. He was still used later in life. There is hope for all of us and our unsaved family members and friends.
     

    1. Julie, So encouraging what you saw in Galatians 1 and so true..and you made me think..yes and even in church with what we are being taught-can spark our works righteousness bend. I love also how you tied it up, “…is that Paul was not following the Lord in the beginning of his life, but God was waiting for his eyes and heart to open. He was still used later in life. There is hope for all of us and our unsaved family members and friends.”

      1. Yes, I saw that and was excited! Yes..pray! We have someone who is a new believer coming. It is totally cool how God gave us a whole new group of women who signed up for this study..Deb and I don’t know most of them which is wonderful. So much like God to do the unexpected! He is going to move. I just know it. We start tonight and I am introducing it and giving my testimony of how He Calls impacted me. Deb and I are alternating leading each week. My ADHD brain must keep my testimony short and focused which is a challenge so I have been working on it. 🙂

        1. He Calls Bible study update: It went so well although I think I talked too much when introducing Dee and giving my testimony but they did have good questions, so God redeemed it. 😉 The women who came are all beautifully unique and have such sweet natures. After Reeves introduction to The Song you couldn’t hear a pin drop. So this week is the first chapter and next week we will go over it and watch the first video. Thank you for praying!

  9. 1. What stands out to you from  the above and why? Honestly, the thing that stands it to me is Eugene’s friends/family reaction to his passing… it is the final fleshed-out testimony of his faith in this life. Beautiful. I also am struck by a sadness that I would have liked to have met this man before he departed. When we meet people such as these it is like meeting Jesus, for He is in them and shines through them and it is lovely…

  10.  
    Sunday

    What stands out from the above and why?

    “Because Christ has set him free from the idols that enslave: free from the approval of man, free from needing to have power or be in control, and free from engineering his own comfort & security!”
    I never thought of anything in this quote before. A free from list, what a great idea.

    Why? I can replace the idol of self-focus, and stop being beaten up by my circumstances, by changing my perspective. Instead of focusing on the problem or obstacles, I need to meditate on the above list of what Christ has freed me from, and get my eyes and heart on Him.
     
    Galatians 1:10 ESV “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ouch that hurts, guilty.
     
    I used to be full of self-loathing, and fear of man. Those two sins together can be a deadly mix. I didn’t realize that most of my day is spent trying to please man, God forgive me.
     

  11. Bev, thank you for sharing the beautiful picture of your aunt’s passing.

    My mom passed away at age 93 this year after a short illness with cancer. She visibly struggled in her final days with almost “arguing” and saying “no” with clenched teeth.

    She was a believer, but liked to be in control. Thoughts on what was taking place?

    I am a peace, trusting she was “working through something”. It has troubled my sister.

    Any thoughts, Dee? Or anyone?

    1. Kim, I agree with Dee that if your Mother truly believed she is with Jesus and you can trust her to God’s good hands.   Your being at peace is significant and if she was hanging onto control then it would seem natural she had “to work through something” in her final submission to His plan. I would say many are not ready to die and let go but my Aunt clearly was. She was not hanging on to anything in this life.

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

    Love Eugene Petersen…his smile.

     
    2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.
     

    Paul’s astonishment at the end that people who knew him prior to his conversion, later knew God because of him.

     

    “And they glorified God because of me.”

    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    https://www.bible.com/59/gal.1.24.esv

    1. Me, too, Laura.  I find myself just looking at Mr. Peterson’s photo many times.  Such kindness and peacefulness emanates and I long to be like that, too.

  13. 3. Read Luke 15:17-22 
        A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?
     

    He was embarrassed; he would have to admit he was wrong to leave.

     
        B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door? 
     

    His father’s love and joy that he was home.

     
    4. Read Luke 15:25-31 
       A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness? 
     

    He was was stubborn and jealous.

     
       B. What do you think his life was like afterwards?
     
    Sad and angry…always remembering that time; haunted by it.
     
    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?
     

    If I give up the sin, admit I am wrong, I will feel the joy and love of Christ in my life. Otherwise I am haunted by my refusal of giving it up.

    1. I love this, too, Laura. Put succinctly. If I give up the sin, admit I am wrong, I will feel the joy and love of Christ in my life. Otherwise I am haunted by my refusal of giving it up.

  14. 1. What stands out to  you from the above and why?
    Eugene’s joy radiating from his face. Freedom!
    2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.
    That God, through Paul, was desiring to rescue the Galatians from their idolatry-from the power of sin-for they were going back to works-righteousness via being tempted and adding it to the Gospel-what they knew before via judaism-maybe stemming from their control idol. They weren’t trusting in Jesus finished work. I firmly believe satan tempts us in our weaknesses with idolatry but to me this is clear how much God loves them even in their idolatry for He sent Paul to rescue them. This so encourages me, that He won’t give up on me-even if after he rescues me from an idol, I stumble again..He will pursue my wandering heart. He loves me that much. Makes me not want to wander!

  15. 3.a.  The pain for the prodigal would be humiliation. Humbling himself to be a servant only.

    b.  The father reinstated him fully.

     

    4.a.  The older son refused to forgive, or even repent of feeling that way, because his pride was riding him. He thought that he was better. To repent and forgive, in his mind, made him equal with his brother. Possibly he even thought it would make his brother above him, because a party had been thrown for him, but none for the older brother.

    B. The older brother is the one with the lingering pain. The whole thing had to continue to rankle him.

     

    5.  Application to a besetting sin. Lord, I am the exact same as an alcoholic or drug addict. I want food and more food. I’ve chosen food over You time and time again. I have no power over this. No ability on my own to make a change. I know You want me to work at it, but I need help. Everything grinds to a halt without You. I’ve been here before, confessing to You and then not knowing where to go next. Please be my next, Lord, and lead me in Your ways.

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

    The death of Eugene Peterson, who wrote the Message and a Long Obedience in the Same Direction, is both sad and glorious. I had read the words about how he died at the time; and they were awe-inspiring. I want to die like that.

    Also, I am aware again and again of my need to be freed from my idol of control – a chain that seems embedded so deep that it affects almost everything I touch. How I need the freedom that Christ offers when I release my idol to him.

  17. 1. What stands out to  you from the above and why?
    Last January, the Lord began to impress on me the words found in Galatians 5:1. It is not enough to think on all the things I have been set free from…but it is more important to think on those things that I have been set free for or set free to do! I have now been set free to forgive myself and others, I have been set free from slavery to live the life of a freed man…if the Israelites had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness as part of their process of learning how to live free…why am I surprised when I too find myself wandering the same training grounds?
    2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.
    What stood out to me this morning from Galatians 1 was the fact that after Paul’s conversion and time in Arabia (his own personal wilderness) and his time back in Damascus…who did Paul go and see in Jerusalem? He saw Peter and Jesus’ brother James. My guess is that the Lord had given Paul a fresh word of grace for these 2 specific men or it would not have been important to include them by name! 

    1. Lucy, I love this way of thinking, “not just set free from but set free for or set free to do!”  It is the heart of the gospel…freely you have received, freely give…The focus becomes not just about me but about others!

  18. Sunday

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

    Freedom!!  “Tasting it and pressing on for more.”

    2.  Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review,and share anything that stands out to you.

    Verse 7b, “You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.”  This is how I lose my freedom…I’m fooled and not always by someone with flesh!  This is an on going battle that I must fight by standing firm and putting on the armor of God…Day by day, moment by moment.  I may lose a battle here and there but I must get back up and remember, Christ has already won the war!

  19. 2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you. Two things. 1. That he differentiates between “pleasing man” and the “approval of man”… The Message puts it this way, “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave.” And 2. The last verse about how people heard of his transformation and gave worship to God. God has been using the stories of people’s transformations to encourage other Christians in their faith for millennia!

  20. 3. Read Luke 15:17-22

    A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself? His transgressions would have been obvious to all those that knew him at home. He probably left quite haughtily, perhaps bragging how he was going to “get out of this town” and do something amazing, do what he wanted to do! And now to eat his words and admit, not only failure in his goals, but failure in life…. in front of all who knew him at his father’s estate and close by as he walked home…I imagine he would have experienced the pain of humiliation, shame, regret…he also anticipated becoming a slave which I am sure was somewhat painful, too, in his mind anticipating the probable ridicule that would come within daily service. But it strikes me that mentally he knew that to be on his father’s estate in any position even if his father happened to be mad, was better than being anywhere else!

    B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door? I have a note in my Bible (probably from Dee or Keller) that on the other side of repentance was not just a restoration of “what was” but an elevation beyond the younger brother’s former standing. Just like the father in the story God is not reluctance nor resentful.

    4. Read Luke 15:25-31

    A. Why, do you think, did the older son refuse to repent of his lack of forgiveness? I suspect he was blinded so much by his plan for life being upset that he didn’t even see his actions as sin, but justified. Keller points out that someone had to pay the price for the younger son to be accepted back into the family, the younger brother would have to be the one to bear the financial cost, giving up a big portion of his rightful inheritance….of course this leads us to the true “older brother” in Jesus…. but this older brother was operating on a works based system. He deserved the inheritance for his works, the younger brother did not so the older brother felt justified in not celebrating nor accepting the younger brother. He was blinded to his sin.

    B. What do you think his life was like afterwards? I would like to think he had a Hollywood ending… eventually softening and empathizing with his younger brother till the relationship was restored both with his father and brother. In the immediate time after the celebration his life would have been burdensome… competing with his younger brother for his father’s approval…feeling jilted everyday…finding fault in all that was around him because it is unfair and now he is expecting unfair loss rather than giving thanks for he does indeed have. He would have been heavy, sad, confused, constantly warring with himself and those closest to him.

    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin? I may be blind to my besetting sins…I need to be in the Word and prayer everyday asking, as Dee said, “How is it between you and I, Lord?” I need to see my behavior as not a problem to be fixed but a flag for heart issues to bring to the Lord. It is why we do things that is much more important that the what we do. I need to be grateful for all things brought into my life, even the ‘bad’ things and give thanks always for He writes my story and, whatever chapters I have drafted, His will be better and I need to put my pen down and just rest and obey.

  21. 1. What stands out to  you from the above and why? That when Galatians mentions deliver from this evil age, it means not removal from but rescue from the power.  It is truly for freedom that Christ has set us free  

  22. 2. Read Galatians 1 slowly, as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.  Twice Paul says that any changing of the gospel, man, angel or himself shall be cursed by God. Stating to be cursed by God is very strong but how much more emphasis is Paul placing on the twisting of the gospel when he says it TWICE. 

  23. 3. Read Luke 15:17-22 A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?  He expected to lose value with his father and was prepared to be treated as a slave.   B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door?  Full reception and celebration sparing no cost.

  24. 3. Read Luke 15:17-22
     
        A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself? – humiliation, condemnation, unforgiveness from his family.
     
        B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door? – forgiveness, his family, a new life, repentance. 
    4. Read Luke 15:25-31
     
       A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness? – because he had been working for his father all the years his brother was gone and did what was required of him. He felt justice was not being served against his brother who took off and threw away his inheritance in a wild way.
     
       B. What do you think his life was like afterwards? – He probably had a lot of anger, unforgiveness still building. Resent against his brother and probably his father. He was living a miserable life because of all of it and yet his brother was probably happy again. He was only hurting himself by acting in this way.
     
    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin? – I need to realize that I am not God, I am not even his assistant. He is the one that took our pain and suffered so I can be free from all sin so I need to open my heart to those who hurt me and forgive and move on. I need to let God bring the truth of the matter to light when he sees fit, not when I do. If I don’t do this, and I know it won’t be easy, and won’t even probably be something that happens today, I will be living a life of misery and pain. I need to free my heart from it and let my heart be able to focus on the things from above.
     

  25.    A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?
    Hopelessness, fear of the father’s wrath and rejection
        B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door?
    Open arms of the father and an undeserved welcome banquet; restoration to the family
    4. Read Luke 15:25-31
       A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness?
    Pride and the sense of being owed something because of his works; self righteousness
       B. What do you think his life was like afterwards?
    I would like to think that he repented of his pride but most likely resentful for the rest of his life that he did not get what riches or inheritance he deserved.
    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?
    That I should go to the Father and confessed the besetting sin of self righteousness and ask Him to help me humble myself before Him. Not to judge others and always be thinking that all that I have is a gift, a grace dispensed not of works or anything I can boast of. God does not owe me anything and yet He lavishes His love on me. He will finish what He has started in me.

  26. 3. Read Luke 15:17-22
        A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?
    Perhaps the initial pain of turning. Letting go of pride and admitting we are wrong can be very painful..and the pain of facing his Father, his brother, and his community after what he did..I am sure he probably knew his older brother would reject him..will his Father reject him and leave him in his pain?
        B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door?
    His father ran to him before he could repent in words. His father didn’t snub him or turn away or punish him, rather he did the WAY the opposite..He ran to him, forgave him and lavished him with a party and everything his heart desires. I can’t get over the dual picture here. When the younger son ran into the arms of his comfort idol it only brought pain via dishonor and rejection including the total loss of any type of comfort but when he ran into the arms of his Father it brought renewal, honor, healing and comfort truly satisfying his soul. So the party he was having with his comfort idol was by far more of a dump heap than the party his Father had for him.

    4. Read Luke 15:25-31
       A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness?
    Pride. He wasn’t willing to endure the pain of turning for he would have to give up what he thought were his “rights” – what was “just” for he was the good boy who did everything right.
       B. What do you think his life was like afterwards?
    I am not sure, but I think he most likely became a bitter person.
    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?
    If I don’t turn, and trust God with the pain in turning and in handling the what if’s behind the pain, then the sin will take me deep into a spiritual desert and slowly eat me alive inside. I will totally miss out on being filled with His Joy.

  27. 6. Can you think of a way the freedom you have experienced has rippled out to others? Share one illustration if possible, and how it has given you joy. 
     

    I think smiling is an easy way to show joy. I have had some people comment that I am always smiling. What they don’t understand is that it comes from knowing Jesus; the root of my smile!

     
    Read the one page sketch on Joseph by Charles Spurgeon here and share how God summed up Joseph’s life:
     

    “The Lord was with Joseph.”

     

     

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

     

    Well, my heart always “leaps” when I see Eugene Peterson’s name and eyes-all-crinkled-up smile….I so admire him. Now I am curious about his book on Galatians. I am reading the book you mentioned, Dee, by Rose Marie Miller, about being a “spiritual orphan”, and it is very good and I would recommend it to anyone here. I can identify with a lot of her struggles of living like an orphan.

    “If you wonder what happened to all the joy you once had, you probably have lost your grasp on the gospel.” I sometimes wonder why I can’t get back to where I once was, spiritually. I also love what Eugene’s son said about how his father had but one sermon, dressed up in different ways but all had the same “thrust”: God sees you through and through and still loves you to the sky.

     

    2. Read Galatians 1 slowly as a review, and share anything that stands out to you.

     

    What I see is that Paul really, really believes and is convinced of the truth of the message he is preaching. It stands out to me that he can so freely speak of his past, how he used to persecute the church and tried to destroy it, and admits that this is his widely-known reputation. Yet he can speak of it and it is not his identity and I see this “dual truth” where Paul says in verse 15, “But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace….” this stops me….Paul was set apart from before his birth, and God let him live his earlier life steeped in man’s traditions, zealous, a Pharisee, and persecuting and trying to destroy the church – yet Paul was already God’s! God was waiting until His timing to “reveal His Son in me”. This is astounding to me. As Eugene Peterson said, God sees you through and through and loves you to the sky; so it was with Paul. He can speak openly of what he was, what he did, because he rests in Christ’s love for him and that he was rescued from above.

    1. Susan…what a great point you make, that Paul was able to freely talk about his past includimg his reputation yet not be defined by it!

      1. I agree with Lucy Susan, it made me think of a teaching I heard on Romans 1:16 when Paul said I am not ashamed of the gospel. He said we rightly apply that in understanding Paul wasn’t ashamed to preach the gospel, but Paul also wasn’t ashamed of his need for the gospel.

  29.    A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?
    I imagine he feared rejection, public humiliation, and the way his older brother would treat him. It is humbling, coming to the end of yourself, admitting you need mercy.
    I wonder if he thought much about how greatly he had hurt his father.
        B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door?
     
    Unreal grace!
    Something beyond his wildest imagining. He was not just restored but given the best the father had.

  30.  A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness?
    He felt justified by his righteous behavior. He felt qualified to judge his younger brother, he also found the fathers judgement to be lacking.
       B. What do you think his life was like afterwards?
    It is easy to imagine that he was bitter and jealous of the younger brother who now saw and valued the father’s love.
    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?
     
    I want to see and value the Father’s love in a way that guards my heart from seeking comfort in ways that are destructive. I don’t want to listen to men enemy who tells me I NEED ____ I don’t want to dishonor and disregard the adoption and grace that has been so lavishly given me. I want to stay near to my Lord.

    1. Chris…I love how you worded your thoughts about the older brother feeling justified by his own righteous behavior which then made him feel qualified to judge…that is the very heart of my own sin! Thank you for putting it so clearly.

  31. 3. Read Luke 15:17-22 
        A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?
    The pain comes from wounded pride that “doing things my own way” didn’t work. 
        B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door? 
    Restored relationships and full fellowship.
    4. Read Luke 15:25-31 
       A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness? 
    He refused to repent because it felt so unfair! His own “better thanks” got in his way.
       B. What do you think his life was like afterwards? 
    On the surface it was full of smug self-satisfaction but down deep it was full of loneliness and bitterness.
    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?
    Lord, you know how often I have been consumed with my own “better thans” and my own sense of entitlement. I have done whatever it took to avoid feeling the deep weight of the shame of my sin. I have justified myself so completely that I am afraid that I have become immune to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.

  32. 6. Can you think of a way the freedom you have experienced has rippled out to others? Share one illustration if possible, and how it has given you joy.

    When I read this “In my life, one of my greatest sources of joy is seeing how the dynamite power of the gospel which I have experienced ripples out to others.” My eyes teared up, I thought yes, I can see how this is abundantly true in Dee’s life, Lord may I begin to see it true in mine too, thinking especially of my worldly children. Only to see your request that we think of a way we’ve seen this already…

     
    Okay after reading those 1John verses, (which had the flavor of community me) here was what came to me.
    I have recently been in a study of David Powlison’s book God’s Grace in your Suffering with a small group of women who’ve all had significant hard things of varying kinds. We have had real fellowship weeping and sharing deep struggles. I shared with them, as I have here before, that when I am grappling with the desire to make sense of earthly circumstances that I often go back to imagining what it was like for Mary to be present at Christ’s crucifixion. No matter how she had tried to make sense of her son’s life- I doubt very much that that cross looked, in that moment, like God’s plan.

    This gives me the freedom to be small, the right size, when I try to make sense of what is happening around me. I need not listen to my enemy who wants me to wrestle endlessly with things that are too high for me.
    Some of those ladies said that was helpful to them.

    1. Chris ~

      Life-giving words that you posted here, born out of deep grief.   Thank you.

      This gives me the freedom to be small, the right size, when I try to make sense of what is happening around me. I need not listen to my enemy who wants me to wrestle endlessly with things that are too high for me.

      It is so true that the enemy of our soul would have us wrestle endlessly and that our heart would be wrung out.   How we need  to remind ourselves to take refuge often in the Lover of our Soul.

       

    2. I love your idea of picturing Mary at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion when grappling with the desire t make sense of earthly circumstances.  I especially love, “This gives me the freedom to be small and not wrestle with things that are too high for me”.

    3. Chris, this is very, very profound: “No matter how she had tried to make sense of her son’s life – I doubt very much that the cross looked, in that moment, like God’s plan. This gives me the freedom to be small, the right size, when I try to make sense of what is happening around me. I need not listen to my enemy who wants me to wrestle endlessly with things that are too high for me.”

  33. Summarize this account.

     
    Joseph sold as a slave to Potiphar a powerful Egyptian, was given success by the Lord prospered and was given all authority by his master because he saw the Lord was with him.
    Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, Joseph resisted her saying “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” She persisted and when he refused she pretended to have been attacked by him. Joseph was put in prison but the Lord was with him and there to he found favor with the keeper of the prison.

  34. C. How did Joseph speak to his soul when he faced temptation according to verse 9?

     
    He acknowledged that to indulge in the sin before him was to sin against God. He valued the trust Potiphar had in him.

  35. Monday

    3.  Read Luke 15:17-22

    A.  What initial pain might the young son have experienced in humbling himself?

    Fear of the unknown and admitting failure.  I could relate, that when he came to his senses, self-talk kicked in, trying to convince himself of the what, why and how of what he needed to do and say.

    B.  What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door?

    A father full of compassion, forgiveness and restoration!

    4.  Read Luke 15:25-31

    A.  Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness?

    His pride kicked in and he became focused on himself and his works.

    B.  What do you think his life was like afterwards?

    Miserable, full of bitterness and imprisoned in his unforgiveness.

    5.  How can you apply this to a besetting sin?

    Just this morning in my quiet time with the Lord, He exposed the ugly sin of selfishness, being easily aggravated and short with people.  I cried out to the Lord for forgiveness and to give me strength, grace and love for others.  He brought the passage of Philippians 2:3-5 to my mind…”Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit (through fictional motives, or strife…dispute, conflict, friction, argument), BUT with an attitude of humility (being neither arrogant or self-righteous) regard others as more important than yourselves.  Don’t merely look out for your own personal interests, but for the interests of others.  Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus (look to Him as your example in selfless humility),”  The fearful part of admitting this, is failing, but I know I have a compassionate Heavenly Father Who loves me even in my imperfections and will forgive…I just need to trust in Him.

  36. 6.  How has my freedom rippled out to others? My freedom from anger has meant there is peace in our home, not stress. When others comment on the peace they feel here, and I talk about what the Lord has done and is doing, it gives me great joy.

     

    Spurgeon on has so many great insights on Joseph. That he not only prefigured Christ, but that the benedictions given so many churches is the same said of Joseph- the Lord be with you. How important it is to answer affirmatively God’s call on our lives, however it comes. In all of Joseph’s troubles, God was with him, and will be with us. Even when Joseph needed to say “how can I do this great evil and sin against God”, God was with him. If our soul dwells with God, then God is always with us. We show that to the world by diligence in whatever God has given us to do, like it or not. Show it by His love towards others thru you. Speak little, and less than that in tearing anyone down. Show it by being faithful. The result of God being with us may be spite and hatred from people. But when God is with us, we fulfill our special destiny.

  37. 8.  Application the my temptations.

    A.  Recognize that every sin is primarily against God.

    B.  Run away from it as strongly as possible. I need to figure out what that looks like today in my house.

  38. 6. Can you think of a way the freedom you have experienced has rippled out to others? Share one illustration if possible, and how it has given you joy. – I think the most joy I received was when my oldest son realized that what I had been saying about God being in control and has us in a certain spot/place at a certain time was brought to his attention. He had come back from serving in Afghanistan and got in trouble when drinking and driving. Because he was a Veteran he was put in a Veteran’s Court program our town implanted. He was assigned a mentor, had to go to AA and once completed the very strict course the offense would be removed from his record. This mentor he was assigned was a very compassionate and helpful man and knew a lot of people and helped my son find a job and got him back on track with his life. When my son finally saw how things fell into place, he said to me, “Mom I see what you mean about God having us in a certain place at a certain time. I get it now”, oh what joy this momma’s heart felt.

  39. Read the one page sketch on Joseph by Charles Spurgeon here and share how God summed up Joseph’s life: – “God was with him”, oh how I want this to be said about me. I hurt knowing that my inner me is not lined up with God’s will or promise for my life. I need to work through my struggles and keep my eyes focused on just what God, Jesus, did for me and work on removing the ick from my inner life so I can have others see the One True God come from within me.

  40. 7. Read Genesis 39:1-21
     
    A. Summarize this account. – Joseph was favored and watched over by the Lord. He was put in charge of everything that Potiphar had and his wealth grew because of Joseph. Joseph was loyal to his master and to God. Potiphar’s wife tried to lessen Joseph’s worth by lying to her husband about him and he believed her. Joseph was put in prison, but was still favored by God and the Lord protected him in prison.
     
    B. What do you learn about Joseph from verses 2 and 21? – The Lord was with him and he was favored and given much wealth.
     
    C. How did Joseph speak to his soul when he faced temptation according to verse 9? – He reminded himself of what he had and was given not only by Potiphar but by God as well and could not sin against God because of all he was given.
    8. What can you learn from this documentation of deliverance to apply to your specific pits and temptations? Be specific. – I need to remember that no matter where I am in life, God is with me, I am HIS. I need to remember all the blessings and promises His Word says are mine. I need to keep my eyes on things of above and not those here on earth. The Lord will continue to be with me and lead me through the trials I may have going on, because of my own ignorance in doing what is against Him or if put on by the Lord to teach me and cleanse me.

  41. 4. Read Luke 15:25-31
       A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness?  I think there are several reasons such as pride, judgement, jealousy and anger.  I think he was puffed up in his attitude regarding all that had happened ie. the younger brother’s bad choice, his return and their father’s overwhelming response.  I think he was jealous that his right choices didn’t warrant a lavish celebration.  I bet he judged his father and called is response poor judgement.
       B. What do you think his life was like afterwards?  I think bitterness and jealousy plagued the older brother.
    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?  Our emotions indicate the condition of the heart.  When anger flares, take time to examine where it is coming from.  Just like the older brother wouldn’t come to the party but his father came to him, our father is ready and waiting for us to deal with the condition of our heart.  He wants to free us from the world that enslaves us but we need to let him.

  42. 7. Read Genesis 39:1-21
    A. Summarize this account.
    Joseph sold to Potiphar, captain of the guard to the Pharaoh
    He was made in charge until he became the overseer of Potiphar’s household and field.
    Potiphar’s wife seduced Joseph; Joseph refused her
    Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of rape
    Potiphar sent Joseph to prison
    B. What do you learn about Joseph from verses 2 and 21?
    The Lord was with him. (Lord, please be with me always)
    C. How did Joseph speak to his soul when he faced temptation according to verse 9?
    How can I sin against God? (Lord, help me remember you always in times of temptation and that to give in is sin against you)
    8. What can you learn from this documentation of deliverance to apply to your specific pits and temptations? Be specific.  
    To pray that I will be made aware when temptation come
    Example: when pride starts to come in and I start thinking I did something on my own strength and knowledge.
    To cry out to God for help
    To wait on Him and acknowledge His help
    To thank Him for seeing me through the temptation

  43. 7. Read Genesis 39:1-21
    A. Summarize this account.
     

    Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelite’s who then brought him to Egypt where an officer named Potiphar bought him for the Pharaoh. Pharaoh grew to admire Joseph for his sense and because he knew the Lord was with him. Pharaoh made him a servant in charge of his house and trusted him with all he had. After awhile Joseph was repeatedly bothered by Potiphars wife who wanted to lay with him. He tried to escape her advances but the final time he ran away, his clothing was torn off and left in her hand. She claimed he was trying to rape her to everyone to explain the clothing left behind and her husband through him in jail. Even the jailer knew Joseph was favored by God and gave him important positions in jail.

     
    B. What do you learn about Joseph from verses 2 and 21?
     

    I learned that the Lord was with Joseph.

     
    C. How did Joseph speak to his soul when he faced temptation according to verse 9?
     

    He asks how he could do this “great wickedness” and win against God.

  44. 8. What can you learn from this documentation of deliverance to apply to your specific pits and temptations? Be specific.  
     

    I need to speak to my soul when I am tempted. I need to remember God is with me and loves me; I may not see the good He is doing in my life, because my definition of what is good and right is different than His. Knowing and trusting Him is what I need to do.

     

    9. Read Acts 6:8-15. 
    A. What do you learn about Stephen in verse 8?
     

    He was full of grace and peace. He was doing great things among the people.

     
    B. What sin did the “Freedmen” commit against Stephen? 
     

    They lied about him.

     
    C. What did the members of the Sanhedrin see in Stephen? (vs. 15)
     

    His holiness; he looked like an angel.

     
    10. Read Acts 7:9-16
    A. What does Stephen remember about Joseph in verses 9-10? 
     

    He was sold into slavery but God was with him.

     
    B. How did Joseph’s rescue speak to the Pharaoh and ultimately to his family? 
     

    It gave him favor and wisdom for Pharaoh and he was made head of the household.

     
        C. Why might have Joseph’s story been particularly helpful to Stephen as he faced martyrdom?
     

    Joseph was “persecuted” again and again. But, God was always there with him. A long road of holy persistence. Lord, please give me this persistence in my life. Help me know You are always there.

  45. 6. Can you think of a way the freedom you have experienced has rippled out to others? Share one illustration if possible, and how it has given you joy.

    While I wonder how in the world God could use my testimony above, he has and it gives me joy when I hear how other women like me who were completely blind to the idol that causes us to over-eat are seeing it now. That is a first HUGE step and then turn to Him and begin the process of healing and growing in Gospel freedom. There are and will be set backs..going back to Egypt, as I like to call it, but there is progress and growth. One surprise was how Eunice Arant, the one who read Idol Lies for Dee’s audio book, said God used it in her life to open her eyes. Opening eyes to what is blocking our stream of intimacy is a huge first step to Gospel freedom, and God is faithful to do that!

     

      1. Dee, Since He has helped me be aware of this idol, now I have to also ask him to help me not to justify running to it instead of Him. Yikes!

    1. Rebecca, thank you for this. Opening eyes to what is blocking our stream of intimacy is a huge first step to Gospel freedom, and God is faithful to do that! Lord, help me open my eyes so I can have this freedom.

      1. Julie, so good for me and all of us really to go to God with what you asked him every day..I love that.

  46. 10.a.  Stephen remembered it was jealousy that landed Joseph in slavery, but even there God was with him.

    b.  God’s wisdom and plan spoke through Joseph and preserved them all

    c.  The story reassured Stephen that even while being martyred, God was with him and using it.

     

    11.  Since Stephen was depending on Christ and not the law, that put him above the men there – even while being stoned.

  47. Spurgeon summed up Joseph’s biography using the oft repeated words of scripture “And the Lord was with Joseph”.

    What can you learn from this documentation of deliverance to apply to your specific pits and temptations? Be specific.  

    Lord, against You only have I sinned. You who have been my constant and faithful companion, how could I do this great evil and sin against You? Teach me to keep silence as Joseph did and stop rehearsing all the many hard things that have come into my life as though these gifts are stones and snakes…instead let me rehearse or speak aloud of Your great love for me and Your great deliverance! This is the gift of daily bread.

    Teach me wisdom as You taught Joseph. The following words of Spurgeon were a comfort to me this morning…Carry Christ’s cross and you shall wear Christ’s crown! Go with Him through the mire and through the slough, and you shall be with Him in the palaces of glory! “The Lord was with Joseph”—O Lord, be with us! O You, whose name is Emmanuel, God With Us, be with us from now on and forever! Amen and Amen!

  48. 3. Read Luke 15:17-22

    A. What initial pain might the younger son have experienced in humbling himself?

    The son didn’t know beforehand how his father would react to his reappearance; he could have faced public humiliation in front of his family and the hired men if his father had scolded or rebuked him, saying something like ‘you got what you deserved….now you come crawling back to me….’ Or, what if his father had turned him away, telling him ‘you are no longer my son’? When we humble ourselves to ask forgiveness, we often risk feeling embarrassed, ashamed, or the other person reacting with harshness.

    B. What waited for him on the other side of the repentance door?

    Open, loving arms just aching to embrace him; full restoration, REST.

    4. Read Luke 15:25-31

    A. Why, do you think, the older son refused to repent of his lack of forgiveness?

    I believe the older son felt justified in his unforgiveness of his younger brother; he saw himself as ‘good’, and little brother as ‘bad’; he was the righteous one who always did what he was told, worked hard, and felt unappreciated and unrecognized for it, and now, here comes his brother who took their father’s wealth and squandered it; he brought shame and disgrace to their family, and what….he gets a party, not punishment, as he deserves? He needs to pay for what he has done!

    B. What do you think his life was like afterwards?

    I think he was eaten away on the inside, day after day, with resentment, jealousy, and unforgiveness. He likely didn’t speak to his brother, or if he did, it was short, rude, and sarcastic. He may have talked about the matter with others who agreed with him, nursing and feeding his grievance. When he came to the family table, perhaps there was a sudden chill in the room. He likely held his father at a distance, too.

    5. How can you apply this to a besetting sin?

    Well, it’s not hard to make the application, nor was it hard for me to imagine what the older brother’s daily life was like, because when I refuse to forgive, I too am eaten away on the inside. I think that might be what Jesus meant when he told the parable of the unforgiving servant who was thrown into prison to be tortured because after being forgiven himself, he refused to forgive. Resentment and unforgiveness lead to a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual torture. The key is, the older brother didn’t understand that he, too, was in need of those open and forgiving arms of the father. So am I, but I believe a lie when I feel that the other person doesn’t deserve my forgiveness (or God’s).

    1. Love #5 Susan. I’m right there with you and struggling to stop it.