An Empowering Secret To Overcoming

It was the secret to the victorious life of Jonathan Edwards.

It is a secret our own Chris shared two weeks ago.

It is a secret hidden in Galatians 5 and clearly proclaimed in Romans 12:1.

What if you approached everything:

eating, shopping, sex, forgiving, home-making…

not as denial, duty, or drudgery –

not as a means to satisfy your soul (for it won’t),

but as an act of worship to the One who laid down His life for you?

Credit: fotolia. Jaren Wicklund.

 

What will rise, after the initial pain of a little death, is a glorious resurrection:

the fruit of the Spirit expressed in Galatians 5.

Our own Chris expressed this secret so beautifully in regard to food:

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)

as an act of worship. 

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.

Galatians 5 puts the same two choices that Chris expressed,

showing how they reap joy or sorrow, freedom or chains.

Romans 8 teaches the same.

But in Romans 12:1 we are told how to be led by the Spirit:

This could be a life-changing week for us, so let’s go!

Sunday:

Monday: Jonathan Edward’s Approach To Life

Tim Keller says his two main mentors have been C. S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards, which was enough to intrigue me to learn more about Edwards. I knew Edwards fell in love with his wife, Sarah, because of her continual delight in God. Edwards wrote of her:

They say there is a young  lady in New Haven who is beloved of that almighty being…who comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him…

Sarah had been seized by the power of a great affection, and so Jonathan knew he had found the one to be his life’s companion. Edwards looked at everything through the eyes of a worshipper. His writings are challenging, but I’ve been helped by this little book:


It contains a brief but fascinating biography, and then paraphrases some of his most famous writings into easier prose. Though made famous by his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” most of his writings are on the excellencies of Christ. He reminds me a lot of Spurgeon in his love for the Lord, his verbosity, and his word pictures. In nature he saw a typology of God — something Scripture does as well — but he took it further. For example, he saw a message in the growth of a rose, for proceeding the lush flower are many thorns. He loved nature, family, food, sex, ministry…but didn’t worship any of them — but instead, allowed these good gifts to lead him to worship God. That worship was expressed in thanksgiving, but also, in receiving these gifts according to the boundaries the Word and the Spirit impressed on his heart.

To apply this, let me give you a few illustrations.

Because I struggle with over-eating, I loved Chris’s words two weeks ago. She talked about how just the sheer variety of beautiful food (not just manna) can lead her to praise God.

When she eats to satisfy her hunger instead of to try to satisfy her soul, it is an act of worship. The result? Joy!

 

But if she eats to try to satisfy her soul, she falls into a pit — and God is not there. Only slavery.

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

4. Are you familiar with Jonathan Edwards? If so, how has he impacted you?

Tuesday: It is for Freedom that you have been Set Free

5. Meditate on Galatians 5:1

    A. For what purpose did Christ set us free?

    B. Why does Paul tell us to stand firm?

    C. If we apply this not just to being set free from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin,

        can you give an illustration from your life on how doing it your way leads to bondage, but God’s

        way sets you free?

6. Read Galatians 5:2-12

A. Read it slowly and summarize Paul’s main point.

B. Does anything jump out at you from this passage, and if so, why?

Wednesday: An Application to Sex

When sex is used according to His Word and Spirit, it can bring great joy. Edwards understood The Song of Songs, and saw the earthly marriage bed as a greater pointer to the joy we can have through oneness with God. Keller, drawing upon Edwards, said that the primary purpose of sex is to renew our marriage vows, to give us a fresh start. When sex is used as God intended, within marriage, and to serve the other person, it is like a beautiful river that refreshes, renews, Outside of those bounds, like a flood, it brings death.

Recently I counseled a young woman who wished her husband did not want to make love quite so frequently, for she is weary with work and little children. And though I do think there are times to abstain and to speak the truth in love, I also think there can be great joy in “laying down your life” as an act of worship. After the pain of a little death, comes joy! Sex within marriage is like a beautiful river that refreshes, renews, and brings life. When we can serve our husbands in love this way, we are worshipping God. This young woman told me later: “It’s true. It means so much to him. After a night when we made love, he wakes with a confidence and joy in his step, and that gives me joy!”

For those of us who are single, our abstinence is a way to worship God — and that does lead to joy and peace. Philips paraphrases 2 Corin. 4:17 as: These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain.

7. What stands out to you from the above? Is there an application for your life?

8. Read Galatians 5:13

    A. What does Paul tell us not to do?

    B. What does he tell us to do?

    C. How is serving one another an act of worship?

    D. How could you apply this in your life?

Thursday: The Entire Law Summed Up

The law does not have the power to save us, but it does have the power to drive us to Christ, For remember, we are caterpillars in a ring of fire. We can’t do it, but the gospel and His Spirit have power. If we melt our hard hearts with the gospel, and live by the Spirit, we will experience the power to obey.

9. Read Galatians 5:14

    A. What single command sums up the whole law?

    B. How do you show love for yourself?

    C. How could you show this kind of love to the people in your path today as an act of worship?

10. Read Galatians 5:15

      A. When we give into the flesh, it may seem like an answer, but it leads to destruction. How is this

expressed in this verse?

 B. How is it an act of worship to forgive and to love the one who has hurt you?

 

Friday: The Expulsive Power of A New Affection

Because idols cannot be removed, but only replaced, it is vital that we follow Romans 12:1 with Romans 12:2.

The main ways I renew my mind are through Scripture, music, reading good books, listening to good sermons and fellowship. It truly has been good for me to read the thoughts of saints who have gone before, and to see their common thread of living a life of worship. We’ve looked at many saints during this journey, and we are not done.

11. We’ve looked at Luther’s preface to Galatians, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaeffer, and Jonathan Edwards. Share one thought from one that you found very helpful.

12. How do you renew your mind? How could you do better?

Saturday:  

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

 

On a personal note I’m filming The Jesus Who Surprises Monday and Tuesday in Columbus, Georgia. Speaking at their church Wednesday night. Please pray for:

  • Anointing for all of us: me, the cameraman, the 21 women giving testimonies
  • Protection from the enemy
  • That we would truly glorify God
  • If it pleases Him, so good weather for outdoor filming along the Chattahoochee river.
  • Traveling mercies home

I’m writing this in the Atlanta airport, waiting for flight to Columbus! I am thankful for you!

COMMENTS (165) Post a New Comment ↓
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11. We’ve looked at Luther’s preface to Galatians, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaeffer, and Jonathan Edwards. Share one thought from one that you found very helpful.

I have found the rescue from above, the caterpillar in a ring of fire very helpful, there is nothing I can or need to do to add to my salvation. The coupling of the focus on Galatians here on the blog and reading Galatians for You has moved my heart closer to the truth, of my standing as a child of God.
 
 I do confess to still struggling with the idea that I am so sinful God cannot look upon me, but that he sees me to the bottom and loves me…my finite mind sometimes tries to connect these dots. 

    Reply

    I’ve always thought the so sinful God could not look upon me as before I was declared righteous and clothed in His pure garment — am I missing something?

      Reply

      I am clothed, but under the white garment, I still sin…
      God sees all and loves me anyways
      God can’t look on my sin
      I struggle with this

      It helps me some to think about the parts of me that are spirit and flesh. The part of me that is created in God’s image will live on in eternity, that’s the part that was created to respond to God, but my flesh cohabitates in my person. Sometimes I can worry these things too much in my mind.

       

        Chris and Dee, I am pondering this conversation between the two of you, and this idea that “God can’t look on my sin” and “God could not look upon me before I was declared righteous….”

        I am wondering….I understand that before we become His child, it is impossible to have a relationship with Him because of our sin, and we would never be admitted into heaven. Yet, God is the one who pursued us while we were yet sinners, so, doesn’t that mean that He did, indeed, “look on our sin” or “look upon us”, desired relationship with us, and went after us?

        My other thought may be a rabbit trail, but the idea that under the white garment, I still sin….I was thinking the other day about the meaning of how we grieve the Spirit when we sin, because of how I hurt my daughter when I got angry with her and she told me that it “really hurt me at my core”. I thought about how God feels when we sin. Paul wrote “don’t grieve the Holy Spirit”….and He lives right inside of us….like “seeing from the inside out”, so there’s no “covering” because He’s right there! (Don’t ask me to explain that one!) Does it make sense to say that the Spirit experiences our sin because He lives inside of us? My daughter also said that my words “made things feel different between us”….and I thought that is what sin does between me and God. There is a barrier there until I come to Him and own up to what I’ve done. I didn’t lose my relationship with my daughter, but I had to ask forgiveness and make it right before we were restored. Since the Spirit lives inside of us, and never leaves, can God ever turn away from us?

        I really appreciate your thoughts Susan and the specificity and honesty of the story you shared.
        Thinking about these things led me to re-read this which Diane shared recently. It is helpful to me, to get a right view of my identity in Christ and the idea of putting to death the sinful part of me:

        https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/your-identity-in-christ-means-war

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12. How do you renew your mind? How could you do better?
This blog, listening to sermons and podcasts while I work in the kitchen or while driving. Approaching my study time as an opportunity to connect relationally to the Lord of the universe (sort of blows one’s mind!) Conversing with a friend about the truths I am pondering are all ways I renew my mind.

 
One way I am trying to do better is in assessing my perspective. I am in a book group which is reading Even Better than Eden by Nancy Guthrie. One of the statements from the first chapter was that Eve allowed the serpents perspective to shape her own. That stayed with me and has been helping me assess my thought life. 

    Reply

    I can’t reply to you just above this, but I had printed off that article that Diane shared but hadn’t read it yet, and before I got on here this morning, I read it. It’s really good!

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11. We’ve looked at Luther’s preface to Galatians, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaeffer, and Jonathan Edwards. Share one thought from one that you found very helpful.
Since I struggle with works righteousness every day, Luther’s preface to the Galatians stood out to me the most. It was kind of in my face reminder put into words but said with the most kindness and truth. And it helped to know that we all are in the same boat. And with the very same forever help in the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
12. How do you renew your mind? How could you do better?
By reading the Word, listening to Christian music, reading Christian books and other worthwhile ones (I love to read children’s books), Scripture Memory.
I love the idea of John Piper on one of his podcasts. He said that when he reads a passage, instead of trying to recall all he focuses on a word or phrase only. Then he works on recalling that word or phrase throughout the day. I tried it these past few days and I find it more doable.  Yesterday was on Philippians” not to think only of your own interest but the interest of others”. Whoa-sure is humbling and challenging.

    Reply

    As Diane said, that preface is worth many re-readings!

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7. What stands out to you from the above? Is there an application for your life?

I like Keller’s perspective that sex is a way to renew our marriage vows and to have a fresh start. Personally, this has always been a very difficult area for me and a little too personal to share here. What is my sticking point is the difference between “sex”, and “making love”. When a marriage relationship, overall, feels disconnected, strained, and burdensome, it becomes just “sex”, and I don’t like how that makes me feel.

8. Read Galatians 5:13

A. What does Paul tell us not to do?

Don’t abuse your freedom in Christ….it is not an excuse to do what you want, to indulge your flesh.

B. What does he tell us to do?

Serve one another in love.

C. How is serving one another an act of worship?

I like to think that “behind” the person I am serving, helping, encouraging, or listening to, is the Lord – whatever I do for a person, I am doing for Him. This also ties into the passage in Romans about offering your body as a living sacrifice. That can be my hands as I bake a special treat for a loved one, or my body as I am scrubbing a floor to keep my home clean for my family to enjoy.

D. How could you apply this in your life?

Remember that freedom never means to ignore the great sacrifice that was made for me by Jesus! As Max Lucado wrote, He became the beast so that I could become the beauty. What I need especial help with is that little part of my body called the tongue. Are my words a sacrifice of worship, or a weapon to wound and hurt when I am angry?

    Reply

    Your answer to 7 has me pondering — so hard — I’m asking God for wisdom. I may also ask my friend Twila who is so wise.

    Reply

    Susan — been praying about your struggle with intimacy with an unbelieving husband – how when you don’t feel cherished it feels more like sex than lovemaking. THIS IS SO HARD. Two things that may or may not help.

    1. My dear friend “T” recently had to be nurse to her husband after an illness, and was feeling resentful of the demands upon her, and then feeling guilty about feeling resentful, and then felt herself going into a depression. Her sister awakened her by telling her to get rid of the “guilties” for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It helped her immensely. I honestly think any godly woman would find this hard, but get rid of the guilties, knowing you are doing your part, forgiving and loving and keeping the covenant, even though you don’t feel cherished. You can do it as unto the Lord and not feel guilty about not enjoying it.

    2. This act of obedience may have an effect on melting his heart, but in any case, it is pleasing to God.

    All that said, it is hard, though God sees your sacrifice.

      Reply

      Dee, thank you for your praying about this, and asking your friend, too. This stands out to me: “You can do it as unto the Lord and not feel guilty about not enjoying it”, and “….but in any case, it is pleasing to God.” I know this is an area that I need to work on with much prayer. We have always struggled in this area, often going very long periods of time with no relations.

        Love you, dear one!

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5. Meditate on Galatians 5:1.

A. For what purpose did Christ set us free? For freedom. (Freedom from the law in Christ, as he said in chapter 4.) Not for slavery.

B. Why does Paul tell us to stand firm? So that we will not put on the yoke of slavery (again). Interesting… freedom is NOT passive. We must be willing to DO something (stand firm against slavery) in order to keep it. (Not to be confused with passive righteousness.)

C. If we apply this not just to being set free from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin, can you give an illustration from your life on how doing it your way leads to bondage, but God’s way sets you free? Parenting. If I do it my way it not only leads to bondage for myself but for my kids, too. If I just focus on getting them to do “what is right” for MY sake it leads to anger and frustration. But if  I continually forgive and act in love (gentle but firm) we all can see the Gospel, if I lay myself down Christ can love and guide them through me by guiding me. Selfless parenting….

6. Read Galatians 5:2-12.

A. Read it slowly and summarize Paul’s main point. By allowing even one point of the law to obligate us (and therefore swing us to works-righteousness) then we are responsible for all the law and have sold ourselves from grace to legalism.

B. Does anything jump out at you from this passage, and if so, why? “If you accept circumcision, Christ will be no advantage to you.” I cannot clothe myself in Christ’s Grace but put ornaments of works on, ‘just in case.’ I can only wear one garment and whichever I choose (by the Holy Spirit) makes the other useless to me. Oh, God that I would clothe myself in Your righteousness alone! I believe, help my unbelief.

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9. Read Galatians 9:14

A. What single command sums up the whole law?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

B. How do you show love for yourself?

I am trying hard to remember what C.S. Lewis said about this when we studied his book, Mere Christianity. I believe he made a good explanation of this. I can be pretty hard on myself and beat myself up when I sin or make mistakes. I show love for myself by trying to take care of my body/health/spirit.

C. How could you show this kind of love to the people in your path today as an act of worship?

I can show love by asking for forgiveness when I have been wrong. I did that just this morning. I had sent packages to my sons, one in FL and one in TX, for Valentine’s Day, with cookies for one and a pound cake for the other. They were to arrive Wednesday. My son in FL received his on Wednesday; my son in TX had asked me to send it to his work address. He didn’t get his on Wednesday nor Thursday, which he let me know as I was getting off work yesterday. He said that it was probably in the mail room getting sorted….I was frustrated about the cake being fresh and texted him back, saying why can’t you go down to the mail room and ask for it? I communicated my irritation and he texted back, please stop. Then, as I was driving to meet my husband for dinner, my daughter called me and told me she forgot the dessert to take to a team dinner. I had texted her and reminded her to not forget the angel food cake on the kitchen counter, and the berries and cream in the fridge. She forgot the cake. I lost my temper and yelled at her over the phone. When she came home last night, she said I’d really hurt her feelings. I apologized and we talked, but in the moment it all seemed so monumental, and later, so inconsequential. This morning, I prayed and talked to God about my sinful anger, and my self-centeredness, idol of control (which I have no control over things such as when packages get delivered), and asked for forgiveness for my words, anger, temper. I was then going to text my son and apologize because he’s got bigger things on his mind….his company has been sold and he might lose his job soon. I heard my phone across the room buzz, and I walked over and looked at it. There was a picture from him of a piece of my cake on his desk. I had just finished telling God that though I talked it all out with Him, I didn’t feel much better.  Perhaps the timing of that text was a “kiss from Him”? I texted my son and told him he wasn’t going to believe it, but I just finished asking God to forgive me for my selfishness, self-centeredness, and wanting to control everything, and I know he’s got bigger things on his mind, and I am very sorry. He replied that it was a nice surprise for him this morning, and thank you. I have also asked my daughter for forgiveness. I believe this is an act of worship to admit when I am wrong, making no excuses (well if only you wouldn’t have….) before God and man.

    Reply

    oh Susan–so appreciate your honest repentance in your last paragraph. I relate to those situations where in my trying to do something nice for someone, but when they ‘don’t cooperate’ and I get frustrated that my plan to bless doesn’t go through–I realize I am more concerned with me looking good than really loving them! It is convicting–but love your apology to your kids, that ministers to them so much more than the care packages & cake!

      Reply

      Yes, “where in my trying to do something nice for someone, but when they ‘don’t cooperate’ and I get frustrated that my plan to bless doesn’t go through….” You are right – then it becomes more about me, than them! It’s the “Don’t you appreciate what I did for you?” I see that even my motives for doing good are tainted.

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    Oh Susan — what a beauty you are.

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I’m answering 11., 12.,&13 in one.

It is for freedom that Christ HAS set us free. It is a finished work. I would dearly love to keep that rendering of the man floating free above the world in my mind’s eye. (Eugene Peterson) free from the idols of approval, power, and control, no chains of slavery tying me down to the world. Peterson says that the word “rescue” or “deliver” in Gal 1:4 is not a removal from but a rescue from the power…the rescue is not from the world, but from sin.

But I can experience that freedom only as I submit my body as a living sacrifice and renew my mind with the Word. I like what Dee said about melting our hard hearts with the gospel and living by the Spirit.

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Thank you so much for all your prayers  – and for grace at not being more present this week!

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7. What stands out to you from the above? Is there an application for your life? I heard Keller a few years ago talk about sex being a renewal of vows and it changed how I looked at it. Here is what comes to mind as I consider my struggles and read others’ struggles with a marriage bed that isn’t all peaches and roses… Tho I am not wise at all … I can’t help but think that the way some think of their husbands is how God  would have the right to think of me and yet He comes with a fresh promise to us every day (His mercies are new every morning) not because we have made Him feel loved or that we have done all to please Him and so He feels like being committed. Renewing vows isn’t done because we “feel like it” (speaking of sex as well as any relationship here) we renew vows because we are committed, however broken that may look. Heaven knows I am LoUSY at my end of the covenant between God and I yet He does not withdraw His love. Indeed He patiently keeps committing until it begins to melt me.

i know there are hurts (I have experienced severe ones in my marriage) and there needs to be wisdom but as woman, who usually use sex to say “I feel loved” (vs men who use sex to say “I love you,” according to Emerson Eggrichs) we need to see the immense value in just saying “I love you” through sex not *because* of anything but just because we choose to. Keller once said that it is much more powerful and meaningful to say I love you just because I choose to than to say I love you because of a, b, and c. A, b, and c show conditional love. Loving just because show unconditional love.

Just my ramblings…I do hope I do not offend…I hoped to encourage….🙏 preaching to myself more than anything!

    Reply

    Good thoughts, Jill. I replied to Susan about this too.

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    Jill, I very much do think that you are wise, and your words do not offend me. They give me a lot to think about. This is wonderful: “I can’t help but think that the way some think of their husbands is how God would have the right to think of me and yet He comes with a fresh promise to us every day….not because we have made Him feel loved or that we have done all to please Him and so He feels like being committed. ” “We renew vows because we are committed, however broken that may look.” I wish we could have coffee together and talk! I am turning over and over in my mind the “however broken that may look”….a lot of what I offer to Him is broken, yet He honors my feeble efforts. I just got a picture in my mind of when my children were preschoolers and the pictures they would draw for me – stick figures and scribbles, yet to me, they were masterpieces of fine art, and I couldn’t have loved them more!

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    I don’t think I’m offended Jill, but I’m not so sure I understand what you are saying. I want to understand. Do you mean that we should have sex because it is showing a commitment to our covenant of marriage?

      Reply

      Laura (I hope you see this)- Keller has a sermon in which he says sex is a renewal of our marriage vows. If you haven’t heard I can try to find it for you… changed my perspective immensely, I highly recommend it! I did indeed take this to mean that when I engage with my husband in sex I am renewing my marriage vows to him and to God. I think there is much more to say on this and I certainly am not an expert! The one thing I will say is that even though it is easy to say it it not easy to do but as I have pondered this for myself and my marriage this week I have seen that my comfort idols are embedded deeper than I realized. When I am brutally honest before God my struggles in this area are about idolatry, which makes it harder😩. It is not easy, it just isn’t, but as Dee said, after a death in me joy comes. Maybe not immediately or immensely but it comes.

      Thank you, Susan and Laura for reassuring me that my words didn’t offend. I truly was preaching to myself tho our situations are somewhat different I think many fight the same battle in varying degrees of intensity. I am praying for you both as I pray for myself! ❤️

      Reply

      One last addendum: Every marriage is different and many have issues that outsiders cannot see nor fully understand so please, please don’t let my comments communicate obligation or judgement. This is a sensitive struggle that should be resolved only with the Holy Spirit under guidance from our merciful God. I DO wish we could all sit down to coffee and pour out our hearts in conversation and prayer! Supporting one another in prayer will have to do, for now.

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9. Read Galatians 5:14    A. What single command sums up the whole law?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

B. How do you show love for yourself?

I try to care for myself, protect, defend, want the best for myself.

C. How could you show this kind of love to the people in your path today as an act of worship?

Listen better, without assuming I know what they are thinking or feeling. Serve willingly, without complaints of weariness. Withhold criticism. My big one–release the desire to control others. Small scale version of what I do: Sunday in church my sweet 12 year old was sitting next to me, fiddling with his pens. Everything in me (or my flesh) wanted to tell him to stop, but I realized no one seemed distracted, he wasn’t bothering anyone (but me!), so I let it go. Baby steps :)

10. Read Galatians 5:15 A. When we give into the flesh, it may seem like an answer, but it leads to destruction. How is this expressed in this verse?

If you give into flesh, it will overcome you.

 B. How is it an act of worship to forgive and to love the one who has hurt you?

It is dying to the sense of “rights”, killing the desires of the flesh to take revenge, showing trust that God will avenge and recognizing my own need of His forgiveness, that I am not better than others.

11. We’ve looked at Luther’s preface to Galatians, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaeffer, and Jonathan Edwards. Share one thought from one that you found very helpful.

Sorry, it’s two thoughts, but both from Luther:

“Yet there is another righteousness, far above the others, which Paul calls “the righteousness of faith”— Christian righteousness. God imputes it to us apart from our works—in other words, it is passive righteousness, as the others are active. For we do nothing for it, and we give nothing for it. We only receive it.”

“Therefore we must be careful to use the law appropriately. If we used the law in order to be accepted by God through obedience, then Christian righteousness becomes mixed up with earned/moral righteousness in our minds. If we try to earn our righteousness by doing many good deeds, we actually do nothing. We neither please God through our works-righteousness nor do we honor the purpose for which the law was given. But if we first receive Christian righteousness, then we can use the law, not for our salvation, but for his honor and glory, and to lovingly show our gratitude.”

12. How do you renew your mind? How could you do better?

Music–always my best go-to, especially when I don’t have the words to pray and feel my weariest–especially hymns, draw me Home. I like listening to sermons–getting new truths in my head to over-rule my own thoughts! Journal-ing my prayers. I also really like to write out Scripture for entire books, verse by verse, word for word. I am terrible at memorizing, but writing out each verse helps keep me focused on the Word and keeps my thoughts from drifting.

I could do a lot better in all of these areas, and especially with reading His Word.

 

 

    Reply

    Great quotes from Luther and love your writing out Scripture discipline, Lizzy.

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Friday

11.  We’ve looked at Luther’s preface to Galatians, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaffer, and Jonathan Edwards.  Share one thought from one that you found very helpful.

The following quote from Schaffer is one I found very helpful.
“The reality of living by Faith, as though we were already dead, of living by Faith in open communion with God, and then stepping back into the external world as though we already were raised from the dead, this is not once and for all, it is a matter of moment-by-moment faith, and living moment-by-moment. This morning’s Faith will never do for this noon. The Faith of this noon will never do for supper time…To believe Him, not just when I accepted Christ as Savior, but every moment, one moment at a time: this is the Christian life, and this is true spirituality.”
12.  How do you renew your mind?  How could you do better?

I was having a bad morning on Monday…nothing seemed to be going right and I was frustrated and angry.  While driving to pick up my grandson at school I realized this is not a place I wanted to stay so I started to have a conversation with the Lord.  I started with just asking His forgiveness for my rotten attitude and then started praising Him for who He is…Lord of lords, King of kings, Provider, Sovereign, etc.  I prayed through Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is if good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy if praise, dwell on these things.”  God renewed my mind.  I could do better by getting myself to do this sooner rather than later.

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    So good, Sharon. I see you applying, moment by moment.

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    Sharon, love your answer to #12 and how practically you worked through a bad Monday morning feeling frustrated and angry.

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His Word, is life to me!  “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever!”  As I read His Word and the comments in the testimonies my heart was drawn closer to Him as it all spoke love, promises and everlasting life giving reason to share it all with others.  Thank you!

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    So good, Deborah. Welcome!

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    Welcome Deborah ~   this blog group is live-giving to many of us.   So grateful for how Dee leads us here.

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In doing the readings this week and answering the questions mentally, this thought has kept coming back to me…in our culture, not being under the law equates to “lawlessness” which has self at the center. Grace is being set free from not only the law, but lawlessness, I am finally set free to be like Jesus…free the fulfill the law and the prophets or love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and my neighbor as myself!

I so want this not to be a process but to be a one and done…that’s where I get so stuck😊

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    Lucy,
     
    Your words:   I so want this not to be a process but to be a one and done…that’s where I get so stuck.
     
    Me too  :\ But that is life this side of heaven.   This week I’ve been listening to a daily 12 minute broadcast entitled The Struggle is Real.     It is in a discussion format and there was a point in yesterday’s discussion that centered around lost moments.    They vulnerably addressed the lost moments we have along the way when we are right back with the same issue we have faced so many times and we say to ourselves,  “I’ve been through this before – I know how to do this.” But then it all gets worse, it gets harder, it gets more intense to where those moments of lostness and feeling isolated just become almost paralyzing.
     
    One of the hosts to this program said,  ” I don’t know why it is that I am always stunned – that here I am again  – lost. I think part of my problem is that I think the last time I was here I figured my way out of it so I’ll never have to go back there again.    But the reality is that we return over and over again to issues in our lives…….. So, rather than being frustrated or ashamed that we are returning to a lost place we can actually see it as an opportunity to know God in a deep way again, to actually call on Him in our distress –     So, a lot of being lost is a chance to be found again. ……. So that when we find our self lost again we say, ‘I know what to do ~ Help, Jesus. ‘ By embracing the reality of feeling lost we take that very moment and call out to Him rather than saying I need to fix this. ”  
     
    Here’s a link to the 12 minute discussion from Feb. 15th on Day of Discovery:
     
    https://discovertheword.org/

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      Thank you Nila…learning to lean came to mind as I read what you have shared.

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      Thanks for this encouraging reminder. I did go to the link and listen. Definitely feeling the weight of lost moments as well as times of being overwhelmed. Great podcast!

      Also appreciate the imagery of leaning in Chris! I took a walk this morning in the rain and cried out to God from my hurt places. Then just began reciting out loud all the things I know to be true…it was so helpful!

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11. We’ve looked at Luther’s preface to Galatians, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaeffer, and Jonathan Edwards. Share one thought from one that you found very helpful. 
 

I have spent pend the last day reviewing what we have done the last few weeks and have come out with a few words that encapsulate what we have discussed.  The words are grace, freedom, and joy. 

 

There is a phrase that has been helpful as well; “A long obedience in the same direction,” from Eugene Petersen. Persistence.  Not giving up.

 
12. How do you renew your mind? How could you do better?
 

I renew myself, including my mind, by dancing or exercising. It helps to clear my brain of all the extra things that are floating around up there! I’m not sure how I could do better? Maybe rest more? I do think deeply on my drive to work. That tends to clear my head also. Oftentimes it is praying for others, so that is good too.

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    I guess I misunderstood this question after reading others’ responses…I do TONS of bible study, morning and evenings. I listen to Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth podcasts and Tim Keller sermons. I read devotionals in my bible app. I listen to Christian music and dance scripture and to music. I do an online bible study on Facebook with a few people in my church. I pray a lot; talk to God all during the day. I guess I could cut back and go deeper with some things to get more out of them. I tend to forget because I’m not one to write things out or record what I have read and studied in the Bible. I am not that way with other studies.

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      Actually Laura, I think your first answer to #12 was beautiful–He has blessed you with the gift of dancing and I think when you are dancing, you experience the “renewal” He brings when we are living out what He created us to do… He renews us when we enjoy Him and how He created us. You made me think broader on this answer myself. I probably feel most renewed when I get outside and enjoy what He gave in nature! Or when I take time to be creative, which I rarely do these days, but lately I’ve been teaching myself to crochet, and it’s been a sweet time of letting go of everything else, and just enjoying something that I may not exactly be gifted at, but I still enjoy and thank Him for! just my thoughts ;)

        Oh Lizzy! I love to crochet and I love nature too! I didn’t think of those!

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Found something I wrote during Christmas 2017 which shows how long I have been struggling to grasp and keep hold of grace…The human spirit is so easily made a slave to sin because I (God) created you to be joined to me in the joyful union of service. Instead, when sin entered, it created a separation of your spirit and mine giving birth to the constant craving to fill that void. And so, your soul is given willingly to idols of your own making as a way to fill this void. Over time, you have been enslaved by these idols and must work ever harder in the vain effort to please them, and this feel fulfilled. This is man’s effort to effect his own salvation. 

But, the ask be to. God for His indescribable gift! The gift of freedom that His salvation brings. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. 

Come away with me, my beloved, only when your spirit is fully joined to Mine, can you experience this freedom in its fulness. This is what I (God) designed marriage to reflect. 

My great dissatisfaction in life comes when I keep trying to push, pull and manipulate my husband into being to me what only God was meant to be. Lord, I repent, but cannot change, thank you for coming to rescue this caterpillar from her ring of Fire.

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    This is great, Lucy! “Instead, when sin entered, it created a separation of your spirit and mine giving birth to the constant craving to fill that void. And so, your soul is given willingly to idols of your own making as a way to fill this void. Over time, you have been enslaved by these idols and must work ever harder in the vain effort to please them and thus feel fulfilled.”

    I could take your sentence and fill in something very specific; for example: “And so, your soul is given willingly to ‘your children’ (or your career, money, beauty, food, material things) as a way to fill this void, and so, being enslaved by _____, you must work ever harder in the vain effort to please them and thus feel fulfilled.” I’m going to save this. How many times have I labored in the vain effort to please my children in order to feel fulfilled when they reciprocate with love, approval/affirmation? And when they don’t, I feel hurt and angry and sad.

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      Hi Susan…I was struggling so much that Christmas with feeling hurt, angry and sad and was reading Romans 6 about freedom and the above was what I heard the Lord whispering to my heart about why life, marriage, and family were so hard even though it was for freedom that He came to set me free!

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10. Read Galatians 5:15

A. When we give into the flesh, it may seem like an answer, but it leads to destruction. How is this expressed in this verse?

This verse gives the idea of two wild animals attacking each other – “biting and devouring”. It’s sounds vicious. One or both are going to die. Death may be immediate, or a slow dying from mortal wounds.

B. How is it an act of worship to forgive and to love the one who has hurt you?

It is an act of worship to lay down my ‘right’ to feel hurt, angry, offended, resentful, at the feet of the One whom I hurt, offended, and sinned against, and who did not exact punishment and vengeance upon me but chose to take my place, the place of the sinner, and die for me. When I ‘see’ the wounded hands, feet, and side, how is it that I can clench my fists and refuse to forgive someone who has hurt me? This truth is going deeper into me right now. I so need this.

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11. We’ve looked at Luther’s preface to Galatians, Oswald Chambers, Eugene Peterson, Francis Schaeffer, and Jonathan Edwards. Share one thought from one that you found very helpful.

They are all so good; I’d have to say that I found Schaeffer the most difficult to grasp. What has stuck with me is Luther’s explanation of grace (different from Erasmus who said that grace is like a parent helping a child to walk….and if I am correct, I believe Catholic teaching is a bit like this in that things like taking Communion and participation in other sacraments somehow give you more grace to help you)….the “caterpillar in a ring of fire”, which Rose Marie Miller also explains in her book From Fear to Freedom, which I am almost finished with. The other day, I was sitting on my bedroom floor talking to God, and I used my finger to draw a circle around myself on the carpet so I could see myself in that circle. My only hope is rescue from above.

I also found Brennan Manning’s short message that we watched very helpful, and am anxious to start reading his book, Abba’s Child, when I’m done with Miller’s book.

12. How do you renew your mind? How could you do better?

I renew my mind by listening to sermons and podcasts while driving or doing housework, reading Christian books, and doing our studies here. I don’t often turn to music, and I think this might help me, especially the hymns or songs like Andrew Peterson’s Is He Worthy, which remind me of such great truths. I could do better in that when I feel stressed or bored, especially in the evening, I am quick to reach for my Iphone and browsing on the internet. I need to put that phone away and reach for a book instead, or meditate on Scripture.

13. What is your take-away and why?

I wish we could start all over at the beginning of this particular study and go through it again! There are particular take-aways for me from Lucy H, Jill, Dee, and Chris. I want to continue to think about how everything can be an act of worship instead of a duty or drudgery. Even forgiveness as an act of worship. I want to remember that the minute I start to think of myself as anything but a caterpillar in a ring of fire, I am trying to justify myself, I am alienating myself from Jesus and falling away from grace. I just thought of a great quote from Dee’s book Idol Lies from Jonah (I think?) “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

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12.  How do you renew your mind?   How could you do better?

By re-minding myself about what is true about my God and about who He says that I am,  for the battle for my mind can be fierce and accusations (both true and false) can assail at any moment.    Like Lizzy here, I saturate my life with music that speaks the truth (while I’m cooking, cleaning, driving….).    In sleepless moments I sometimes re-direct my thinking by listening to a podcast or sometimes simply peaceful instrumental music.

So much of this comes down to replacing thoughts with new thoughts, asking the Lord’s mercy to interrupt my thinking.

John Piper writes about this Battle to Remind :

  One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises. Reminding is a great ministry. Peter and Paul both said that they wrote letters for this reason (2 Peter 1:13Romans 15:15).

If we don’t “call to mind” what God has said about himself and about us, we languish. Oh, how I know this from painful experience! Don’t wallow in the mire of godless messages in your own head. Messages like: “I can’t . . .” “She won’t . . .” “They never . . .” “It has never worked . . .”

The point is not that these are true or false. Your mind will always find a way to make them true, unless you “call to mind” something greater. God is the God of the impossible. Reasoning your way out of an impossible situation is not as effective as reminding yourself that God does impossible things.

To read or listen further to this three minute encouragement go to:    https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-battle-to-remind

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    Nila, thank you for the RE-MINDING and that it is a struggle. he point is not that these are true or false. Your mind will always find a way to make them true, unless you “call to mind” something greater. God is the God of the impossible. Reasoning your way out of an impossible situation is not as effective as reminding yourself that God does impossible things.  I love the last line particularly.

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Anyone else having trouble posting this morning?    I posted a response to # 12 and it isn’t showing.

Thank you.

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    For some reason I had to approve it, Nila. Probably because of the link. It’s a mystery!

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      Thank you Dee!   Sorry for causing you extra work :\

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Saturday:  
13. What is your take-a-way and why?
Renewing my mind requires discipline and investment of time in the Word of God and prayer. I have not been consistent in this. The reminder to do everything as an act of worship sure has encouraged me to be diligent in reading His word securing a time and having a plan so I do not get distracted. The tendency to focus on works rather than the person of Jesus Christ is a moment to moment struggle so help me God.
A kiss from the King: I went for my 6 month eye check up and my doctor told me that my eyes are actually getting better! Whoa, I told her that I thought my eyes will just get worse as I get older. And she smiled and said that my condition probably have been exacerbated by stress. And then she asked, I presume you have lesser stress these days?” And I said, “well, maybe. But I probably have the same stress level but able to manage things better.”
I share this because I believe that investing in the study here has helped me cope with the challenges of life. I have sensed a deeper peace brought about by truths of God’s Word like who am I in Christ and that He loves me no matter what. So thank you, Dee and all of you in this blog for being my Barnabases (Barnabettes???)

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    Hahaha Bing! Barnabettes!! ♥️♥️

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      Laura, glad you liked my  new word. Yes, you are, you really are one of my Barnabettes!  ” As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Ironettes? LOL Now you have gotten me started.

        You’re such a teacher!

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    Great news and an encouragement! :-)

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Read Galatians 5:14
    A. What single command sums up the whole law?  
Love you neighbor as yourself.
    B. How do you show love for yourself? 
Feed myself, rest, schedule fun and downtime and forgive myself when necessary.
    C. How could you show this kind of love to the people in your path today as an act of worship?
 Today I am at the mall, so noticing people and giving common courtesy instead of ignoring people. On the home front, preferring others more than myself, being quick to forgive and hardly noticing when others do wrong. Grace, grace, and more grace.
10. Read Galatians 5:15 
      A. When we give into the flesh, it may seem like an answer, but it leads to destruction. How is this expressed in this verse? If you bite and devour one another, you will destroy one another  
 B. How is it an act of worship to forgive and to love the one who has hurt you?
When we by pass our natural desires to hold a grudge and remain angry by withdrawing friendship and love, our behaviour is not pleasing to the Lord.  When we obey the Lord and choose His away, inspite of hurtful, wrong circumstances it becomes our highest worship unto the Lord.
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

Isaiah 29:13

 

 

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11.  I would say Luther statement that Galatians 1:4 sums up the whole book

“who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father”

it is clear to most Christians that Christ has rescued us from penalty of sin but the will of the Father is for us to be delivered from the power of sin.

BUT,

John Stott asked the question, “Who is your mother? .  I fully understand Abraham is my father but I will never think of Abraham as being my father without asking the mother question.  Is my mother Haggar, the slave or Sarah the free woman?  This question will help me examine myself…am I enjoying my freedom or am I acting like a slave?

12.  How do you renew your mind?

I attempt to rise early around 5 and go to a quiet room in our house (it has been named the prayer room), turn on worship music and pray.  I keep a journal and write my impressions every time I pray.  I can look at yesterday’s and read what I wrote down.  It takes me to the very place or feeling I had the day before.  By doing this I find a pattern, I can see and hear what the Lord is saying to me.  I read my Bible and write down any scriptures that stand out.  I often feel like the clouds have parted over me and God is raining down on me. If too many days go by, I become my attitude begins to slip.  This is my renewal and my safe haven!

 

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    So good, Tami.

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Just have to say I have loved the interaction here this week….everyone has shared so richly and honestly!

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Saturday:  
13. What is your take-a-way and why?
The idea of worshipping God with my whole life. Sacrifically serving those around me with an attitude of love, overlooking faults and calling out to God for wisdom and strength and overcoming power. This week,  I had a work situation that I was dreading and I spent a little extra time with God baring my soul, asking for forgiveness  for my selfish attitude and praying for all concerned and their attitudes.  God met me, and my day was pretty good!

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So good, Tami. And Amen, Susan!

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My take away this week…what if I approached forgiveness not as denial, duty, or drudgery – not as a means to satisfy your soul (for it won’t), but as an act of worship to the One who laid down His life for you? Forgiveness has been such a struggle for me in a marital situation…what if I allowed God to rescue this catapillar from the ring of fire and this catapillar began to worship her rescuer by being willing to follow His lead in loving her husband out of her deep gratitude?

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