Walkin' n Talkin' with my Savior

Walkin' n Talkin' with my Savior

Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road...? Luke 24:32

Carter and I have this thing goin' -- walkin' n talkin'...n talkin' n walkin'...n walkin' n talkin' n....on and on and on.

It's pure delight for both of us, because Carter is 3-1/2**...and I'm Carter's Babci (Polish for Grandma).  I know it won't last forever -- he'll grow up and become interested in many other things.  But for right now, we have each other and walkin' n talkin' n talkin' n walkin'!

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The Gift of Pain? {two Non-negotiables}

Tears
Tears

Surely goodness and steadfast love shall follow me all the days of my life... Psalm 23:8 PAIN!

Bloody! Cutting! Unrelenting! and Soul-numbing...or is it? 

For me, pain has a way of sifting through the non-essentials of life!

And I find my soul awakened abruptly from its numbing slumber to longing, loss, grief, confusion, perspective...

...but most importantly, the presence of GOD.

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.   C.S. Lewis

In pain as in joy, I'm learning to hold onto two truths that are my "Unchangeables," my non-negotiables:

GOD IS GOODThe LORD is good...

I AM LOVED...and His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

And it seems the enemy of our souls always assails at those two points with hislies.  It happened in the Garden, and it happens every day in my life and in yours.  We are just dull to recognize it.

But I'm hear to affirm by faith...

God is GOOD!

God's character is often bought into question when we face the "hard things" in life, like sickness, death, broken relationships, financial reversals, and so on.

reflections on Christ - crucifixion
reflections on Christ - crucifixion

When our son and daughter went through serious health problems (cancer and what turned out to be benign tumors) within months of each other, it threw me into incredible pain and confusion: "How could this be happening to my children!?  What kind of toxic waste dump have we been living in!?" 

And I struggled on...for a long time!  Finally, it was Jesus' words to His disciples, the night before He died, that stabilized me:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

But why all the suffering?  God's Word tells us that because of the Fall, everything and everyone has been suffering:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:21-23

God's plan hasn't been stymied because of man's fall into rebellion.  God is weaving all things in our lives into His eternal plan in Christ.

tapestry, front & back
tapestry, front & back

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  For those

God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29

As Bible teacher Kay Arthur says,

Everything in our lives is filtered through fingers of Love!

And that brings me to my second "Unchangeable"...

I am LOVED and you are too!

We all are seeking perfect love...loving and being loved in a real and deep way.  This is God-given.  But I get myself into trouble when I expect perfect love from another person, or I try to live up to others' expectations simply so that they will love and accept me.

The realization that I am loved with an everlasting love by the Lover of my Soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, enables me to let others off the hook.  It also frees me to admit and repent of my failures to love...and then forgive myself.

house
house

Maybe this is part of what we each must go through in adulthood in coming to grips with our "parent issues." 

In a perfect world, all of us would have been parented by perfect parents who met all our needs.  But in reality, none of us has...though some of us have had some pretty darn good ones!

But in finally coming to grips with our grief and loss, we can forgive others for not loving us as only God can.

It's at that moment that you and I can fully embrace God's incredible, perfect love for us...and embrace our life, choosing to love with the love with which we have been loved by God.

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Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing,... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing— nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable —absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:35-39 MSG

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Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 ESV

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Walking in Present Risenness

mom & me walking
mom & me walking

When I was at the University of Arizona in the late 60's & early 70's, the "Jesus movement" was in full swing.  A song that we always sang during praise time at our Christian student meetings in those days was "He Lives". This song grabbed me!  The concept of a living Christ who intimately related to me on a daily basis was just beginning to dawn on me.  Look at the words to this glorious song:

I serve a risen Saviour He's in the world today; I know that He is living, Whatever men may say; I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him He's always near.

Chorus: He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and He talks with me Along life's narrow way. He lives, He live, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives: He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care, And tho my heart grows weary I never will despair; I know that He is leading Thro' all the stormy blast, The day of His appearing Will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, Lift up your voice and sing Eternal hallelujahs To Jesus Christ the King! The hope of all who seek Him, The help of all who find, None other is so loving, So good and kind.

road to emmaus
road to emmaus

Brennan Manning has a phrase that I love...living in Present Risenness.  In his precious book The Rabbi's Heartbeat, he says:

We are not cowed into timidity by death and life.  Were we forced to rely on our own shabby resources we would be pitiful people indeed.  But the awareness of Christ's present risenness persuades us that we are buoyed up and carried on by a life greater than our own.

The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation.  He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails.  He is our life, the most real fact about us.  He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.

Meditate on this glorious thought:  The Resurrected Christ is alive in your world right now.  The Living Christ lives in you today.  And this same Lord Jesus Christ lives His resurrection life through you as you walk in Present Risenness...every day!

Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1:27

...you have died and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory. Col 3:3-4

...to those who are the called,...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1Cor 124

Now enjoy this simple, sincere rendition of "HE LIVES"...


Morning Prayers

morning
morning

LordAs I begin this day, and as I continue throughout the day, I invite you to walk around in my body, love with my heart, speak with my lips, and think with my mind. I thank you that you promised to do greater things through me than you did when you were here on earth. John 14:12-14 By faith, I acknowledge your greatness, your power, and your authority in my life, and I invite you to do anything you wish in and through me today. Amen.

(author unknown)

HOLY SPIRIT, LIVING BREATH OF GOD Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend © 2006 Thankyou Music

Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, Breathe new life into my willing soul. Bring the presence of the risen Lord To renew my heart and make me whole. Cause Your Word to come alive in me; Give me faith for what I cannot see; Give me passion for Your purity. Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.

Holy Spirit, come abide within; May Your joy be seen in all I do— Love enough to cover ev'ry sin In each thought and deed and attitude, Kindness to the greatest and the least, Gentleness that sows the path of peace. Turn my striving into works of grace. Breath of God, show Christ in all I do.

Holy Spirit, from creation's birth, Giving life to all that God has made, Show your power once again on earth; Cause Your church to hunger for Your ways. Let the fragrance of our prayers arise. Lead us on the road of sacrifice That in unity the face of Christ Will be clear for all the world to see.

celtic cross
celtic cross

St Patrick's Breastplate

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the Threeness, Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

The 'Mysterious' Will of God

The will of God is a mystery (in Bible terms),...but is it really mysterious?  I love these thoughts from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest:

Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. (Psalm 25:12). At first, we want the awareness of being guided by God. But then as we grow spiritually,we live so fully aware of God that we do not even need to ask what His will is, because the thought of choosing another way will never occur to us. If we are saved and sanctified, God guides us by our everyday choices. And if we are about to choose what He does not want, He will give us a sense of doubt or restraint, which we must heed. Whenever there is doubt, stop at once. Never try to reason it out, saying, “I wonder why I shouldn’t do this?” God instructs us in what we choose; that is, He actually guides our common sense. And when we yield to His teachings and guidance, we no longer hinder His Spirit by continually asking, “Now, Lord, what is Your will?” (June 3)

The disciple who abides in Jesus is the will of God, and what appears to be his free choices are actually God’s foreordained decrees. Is this mysterious? Does it appear to contradict sound logic or seem totally absurd? Yes, but what a glorious truth it is to a saint of God. (June 7)

So it seems we make it mysterious because of our struggle and confusion, doesn't it?

When we were studying Paul's epistle to the Colossians, we found that the will of God is a much more glorious thing than we usually think.  And we are one with His will through our union with Christ.

In a post from that study, I tell a little bit of my own struggle and search.  Maybe you'll see some of yours there.

Let's take a look and rejoice in our God who enables us to "get it" about His will in His Son:

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When I was a young child, my mom would sit me next to her on our couch and "read" to me from our family Bible.  You know the one:  leather, thick, heavy with gold-gilded edges and red and black print.

I knew this was an important book, because it had pages that recorded births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths of family members.  But more than that, I knew it was important because of the full-page, glossy, color "holy pictures."  I remember how Mommy would tell me "God's stories" from God's book using those beautiful pictures.

It was during those times, that I fell in love with God and Jesus and heaven and spiritual things...and something else...the Will of God!  My mom would constantly say that the most important thing in life was to do the Will of God.  So this became my my goal...my paradigm...my mantra, at a very early age -- to do the Will of God!

What a mysterious thing, the Will of GodMY journey (and at times, search) took me through obeying the rules of my church (as God's will), to several years in a convent (believing it was the best thing to do for love of God), to searching the Scriptures to see what GOD (not man) said, to exchanging one to do list for another until finally the burden was so hard and heavy, I gave up!  Really!

And you know what?  That's when I discovered the True Will of God...Christ Jesus my Lord -- WHO He is and WHAT He has done!  Oh, I already knew Him...but I needed to KNOW Him truly!  And in knowing HIM truly, I came to realize that HE is the Will of God!

If you've been following along with us in the letter to the Colossians, you've discovered the heart of Paul's prayer in the first chapter.  His main request is that the believers would be filled with (be controlled by and absorbed with) a true, deep, accurate knowledge of God's Will:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives... Col 1:9 NIV

This Will of God is a much bigger thing than what we think.  We usually assume it refers to what we do today or tomorrow, who we marry, where we go on vacation, what car we should buy, etc.  Now these all may be affected by our knowing the Will of God.

But primarily the Will of God has to do with His good pleasure in His Son Jesus Christ and the Father's Plan carried out in and through HIM!  That's good news, because it's all about HIM!  I reap the benefits, but I'm I also empowered (through His indwelling) to make my choices according to this HUGE, AWESOME WILL of GOD!  What a privilege to be part of something bigger than myself!

OK, you say...chapter and verse, please!  The cool thing is that Paul wrote another letter to a church not far from Colossae.  In fact, he wrote it at the same time and sent it by the same messenger.  So we would naturally assume Paul would have the same thing in mind when he wrote to the church in Ephesus,

With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:8-10 NIV

That's it!  His pleasure and purpose in Christ!  Did you notice as you read and looked for the references to prayer in Colossians, that Paul wasn't the only one who prayed this way.  Paul says of Epaphras, the young pastor of the Colossian church,

He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Col 4:12 NIV

Why did Paul and Epaphras pray for the believers to really "get it" about God's Will in Christ?  Paul prays on...

...so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Col 1:10-12 NIV

Paul knew that getting it about Christ is the only paradigm that can produce a God-pleasing, fruitful Christian walkNo Christian "to do list" can produce this!  It's a work of illumination/revelation by the Spirit of God.  Thus Paul's prayer!

And so, dear friends, when we pray for ourselves or for someone we love, why not start out with the heart of all prayer?  Our deepest need is to be filled with (and so controlled by) a true, heart knowledge of God's Will in the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This absorption, this getting it about Christ will then have an explosive and expulsive effect*-- changing our thinking, our attitudes, our affections, our choices, and thus our behavior.  And it will result in a life worthy of and pleasing to the Lord!

THE PERFECT WISDOM OF OUR GOD

Revealed in all the universe: All things created by His hand, And held together at His command. He knows the mysteries of the seas, The secrets of the stars are His; He guides the planets on their way, And turns the earth through another day.

The matchless wisdom of His ways That mark the path of righteousness His word a lamp unto my feet His Spirit teaching and guiding me And O the mystery of the cross That God should suffer for the lost So that the fool might shame the wise And all the glory might go to Christ!

O grant me wisdom from above, To pray for peace and cling to love, And teach me humbly to receive The sun and rain of Your sovereignty. Each strand of sorrow has a place Within this tapestry of grace; So through the trials I choose to say: “Your perfect will in Your perfect way.”

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2011 Thankyou Music & Getty Music

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL3MabWr5cM[/youtube]

 

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A challenge for those who want to go deeper:

Read this sermon by Thomas Chalmers (19th century):  The Expulsive Power of a New Affection This is really long, and it's not for the faint of heart.  But it's right on target!

Here's a short synopsis:

The best way of casting out an impure affection is to admit a pure one; and by the love of what is good, to expel the love of what is evil. We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart, than to keep in our hearts the love of God - and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than building ourselves up on our most holy faith. Dr Ray Pritchard

The Rest of the Gospel: Songs of the Week {Be at Rest...Rest}

sheep at rest
sheep at rest

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10 ESV

Enjoying God's rest...what a peaceful thought.  Jesus Himself is our Rest.

And as we bring our summer book club to a close this week, I thought it appropriate to share two beautiful songs.

Relax and enjoy your rest, thanks to your union with our Lord Christ, who is our Sabbath Rest.

Be at Rest

Be at rest, be at rest once moreO my soul, for the Lord has been goodBe at rest, be at rest once moreO my soul, o my soulBe at rest once moreFor the Lord has been good to you

For You, O LordHave delivered my soul from deathMy eyes from tearsAnd You, O LordHave delivered my feet from stumbling

Words and Music by Jeremy Johnson © 2005 Van Ness Press, Inc. / ASCAP

Rest

Rest, the Lord is nearRefuse to fear, enjoy His loveTrust, His mighty powerFills every hour, of all your days

Chorus:There is no needFor needless worryWith such a SaviorYou have no cause to everDoubt, His perfect WordStill reassures, in any trial

Rest, the Lord is thereLift up your prayerFor He is strongTrust, He'll bring releaseAnd perfect peace, will calm your mind

(Chorus)

Call HimIf you grow frightenedCall HimWith loving careHe'll lift the burden and you'll

Rest, the Lord is nearRefuse to fear, enjoy His loveTrust, His might powerFills every hour, of all your days

Rest, the Lord is nearRefuse to fear, enjoy His love

Lyrics and Music by Phill McHugh And Greg Nelson

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-W3B3OUkN0[/youtube]

The Rest of the Gospel: the end of the book club...the beginning of walking in fresh revelation

Thank you, precious friends, for journeying with us these weeks.  I pray that the Lord has spoken to you in life-changing ways as He has to our little group.  We have met together on Tuesday evenings to discuss some of the same questions I posted on this blog...and to sing some of these songs also. I have a few closing thoughts, but I will save those for the next blog or two. I will also be posting some related topics for the next couple of weeks.  So continue meditating with us on these life-changing truths.

If you would like to share how the Lord used this study in your life, I would be thrilled to hear it.  Email me at jan@abranchinthevine.com or post a comment below  :)

Many blessings till next time One with you in HIM Jan

The Rest of the Gospel: Entering God's Rest (Chapter 25)

Chapter 25  Entering God's Rest Key Verses:

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. Heb 4:9-11 ESV

Read Chapter 25:  Entering God's Rest

1. Is your life characterized by an inner rest? What does your answer tell you about the degree to which you are trusting Christ as your life?

2. Does being at rest mean that we will cease having any soul fluctuations? Explain.

3. According to Hebrews, what is they key to entering God’s rest? What might that look like in your life? Use a specific example from your life this past week in your answer.

4. What is the prerequisite for entering God’s rest? Give some examples of how this operates in our lives.

5. What does Dan mean when he says to turn your spiritual eye inward? Is this a self focus or a God focus? Explain.

6. What role does communion with God play in experiencing God’s rest?

7. What happens to the externals on the path to God’s rest? How is God making this happen in your life now?

8. In what ways are you seeking for God to give you something beyond Himself? In what way is He insufficient for all your needs? What is God saying to you about this right now?

9. What did Barbara mean when she told Dan to only talk about the unseen? What message is there in that for us?

The Rest of the Gospel: Loving God (Chapter 24)

CHAPTER 24: LOVING GOD Key Verse:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27 ESV

Key Question:

Who is my point of reference, God or myself?

Read CHAPTER 24: LOVING GOD

1. What did the story Dan told about his daily experience in South Carolina have to do with loving God?

2. Your life is probably quite different than Dan’s was then. Nevertheless, what might God want to say to you through Dan’s experience?

3. What does it mean to love God in the way that He loves us? How might that look in your life?

4. What does the fact that God has already poured His love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5) have to do with loving Him back?

5. What role might suffering play in this process of purifying our love for God? How has God used suffering in your life this way already?

6. How would it change our lives if our main objective was simply to love God?

7. Write a summary statement about God, the One who loves. How does keeping the object of our love in constant focus affect our love toward that person? What does that mean for you personally?

The Rest of the Gospel: Poured Out (Chapter 23)

CHAPTER 23: POURED OUT Key Verse:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6-7 ESV

Key Question:

How is God's love manifested through us?

Read Chapter 23: Poured Out and answer the following:

1. What is the difference between God’s kind of love and human love?

2. How has God’s love come to us? What does this say about how we will live out His love?

3. In what ways does the flesh deceive us into thinking that fulfilling selfish desires will bring us life? What does God say will bring us life? What is God saying to you concerning this truth now?

4. Why is it vital for us to know that Jesus is our need-meeter?

5. How does seeing ourselves as God’s asset, not His liability, release us to be poured out for others?

6. How has God individually made you as His vessel, to manifest His life to others in ways different from other believers?

7. How do Dan’s comments about operating in your own world affect the way you think about Christ living through you? In what ways have you thought differently before? How did these different views affect your Christian life?

8. As He lives through you, what is Jesus most interested in? What does God have to say to you through this truth now?

9. What does it mean to be expendable for the kingdom? How was Jesus expendable? How does God want you to be expendable?

10. In the sense that Dan uses the word, what does it mean to be an intercessor on someone’s behalf? Is there someone Jesus wants to intercede for through you?

11. Reread the last paragraph of the chapter. Why is it so important that we know we are loved?

The Rest of the Gospel: The Gift of Misery (Chapter 22)

Chapter 22  The Gift of Misery Key Verse:

...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... Philippians 3: 10 ESV

Key Question:

How has misery been a gift from God in your life?

Read chapter 22 and answer the following:

1. How does God use misery in our lives? Give an example of how God has used misery in your life.

2. How does Genesis 50:20 apply to our lives? Is there a situation in your life right now in which you need 50:20 vision?

3. What does the story of Moses tell you personally about God’s use of misery?

4. The story of David?

5. The story of Peter?

6. In what ways are you still seeking a fix for your problems, instead of God Himself?

7. How can you look at a past episode in your life differently as a result of this chapter?

8. How can you look at a present episode differently?

9. What does God want you to trust Him for concerning the topic of this chapter?

The Rest of the Gospel: Detached Living (Chapter 21)

Chapter 21  Detached Living Key Verses:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

Key Question:

Are you wholly attached to Christ or is He just "a piece of the pie"? Read Chapter 21: Detached Living

1. In what ways have you tried to make Jesus part of your life pie, instead of Him being the entire pie?

2. When you look at your life, how have you resembled the seed sown among the thorns, letting the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things crowd out God?

3. How are these ways of living (from #2) antithetical to living the reality of Christ in you?

4. Ask God what aspects of your life He says subtract from true life, rather than add to it?

5. How might God be calling you to reorient your life, so that “Christ in you” is a lifestyle, not just another piece of the pie? What in your life, from God’s perspective, may not be necessary?

6. If we truly give ourselves to our passion, what does our life as we currently live it say about what our passion is? How can we make God more our passion?

7. How does Dan define detached living (bottom of page 217 and top of page 218)? How did Christ’s life demonstrate detached living?

8. What struck you about what Dan said about the desert fathers?

9. At this point in your walk, how could you press right in on Jesus? What would that look like?

The Rest of the Gospel: Song of the Week {Before You I Kneel -- A Worker's Prayer}

images-2
images-2

It wasn't long after hearing for the first time this haunting melody (Johann Sebastian Bach's melody "Wachet Auf" played on folk instruments) and the accompanying song, that I started playing it in my car on my way to work each day. It moves me to think that the Lord Christ uses the work I do each day to glorify Himself and build His kingdom.

That's because He lives His life through us His children, His disciples, His instruments.

I particularly love one of the lines:

May we...Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days...

It reminds me of what Paul said of King David in Acts 13:36:

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep...

Oh Father, may I serve your purpose in my own generation!

So this is my prayer --please join me!

Before You I kneel, my Master and MakerTo offer the work of my hands.For this is the day You’ve given You’re servant;I will rejoice and be gladFor the strength I have to live and breathe;For each skill Your grace has given me;For the needs and opportunitiesThat will glorify You great Name.

Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodnessTo cover the work of my hands.For patience and peace to shape all my labor,Your grace for thorns in my path.Flow within me like a living stream,Wear away the stones of pride and greed‘till Your ways are dwelling deep in meAnd a harvest of life is grown.

Before You we kneel, Our Master and Maker;Establish the work of our hands.And order our steps to seek first Your kingdomIn every small and great task.May we live the gospel of Your grace,Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,Then our lives will bring eternal praiseAnd all glory to Your Name.

Before You I Kneel (A Worker's Prayer), Keith & Kristyn Getty


The Rest of the Gospel: Making Decisions (Chapter 20)

CHAPTER 20: MAKING DECISIONS Key Verse:

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33 ESV

Key Question:

How do we know the "will of God?"

Read Chapter 20: Making Decisions and answer the following:

1. Through his own personal story, how does Dan challenge the notion of trying to find “the perfect will of God”?

2. In your own life, how have you thought you missed God’s will, only to find out the route you took was the route He used for His own purposes? Give an example.

3. Look up Romans 11:33. How does the knowledge that God is in everything affect our perspective on making decisions?

4. How does living out of a sense of separation adversely affect our ability to make decisions?

5. How does living out of our union with Christ help us have confidence in making decisions?

6. What is a decision you are facing in which you are living out of a sense of separation, not union? How could that change?

7. What does it mean to “trust Him to live His life spontaneously through us?” How might that look in your life right now?

8. Think about Dan’s illustration of the baby learning to walk. In what sense is this chapter taking a long-term view of Christian growth? What does that mean for you?

The Rest of the Gospel: Hearing God (Chapter 19)

CHAPTER 19: HEARING GOD

Key Verses

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:3-5,27 ESV

Key Question:

How do we hear God?

Read Chapter 19: Hearing God and answer the following:

1. What does it mean to us personally that Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice?”

2. What does it take for us to live in the reality of that statement?

3. How do we learn to hear God? Where are you in the process? How does God want you to learn to hear Him more?

4. What does hearing God have to do with Christ living in us? How has God set up the Christian life to be led by the Spirit?

5. How can we give both the written Word of God and the voice of the Spirit their rightful place in our lives?

6. How do you distinguish between the Spirit’s voice and your own thoughts?

7. What role do external results in our lives play in validating whether we heard from God?

8. What are three practical things that Dan mentions concerning hearing God? How might these work out right now in your life?

The Rest of the Gospel: Temptation, a Faith Opportunity (Chapter 18)

Chapter 18  Temptation: a Faith Opportunity Key Verse:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:2-5 ESV

Key Question:

How do temptation and faith interact?

Read chapter 18 and answer the following:

1. Why are we inclined to confuse temptation with sin?

2. What does Jesus’ experience in the garden tell us about temptation in our life?

3. How do you experience your swing being over on the “evil” side? When that happens, according to James 1:13-14, is that temptation or sin?

4. What does it take for temptation to turn into sin?

5. How does the Holy But come into play in this matter of dealing with temptation?

6. How will it affect our ability to handle temptation if soul is the deepest reality to us?

7. Why is temptation a necessary prerequisite for the operation of our faith? How does God want to use temptation in our lives?

8. How can you avoid putting yourself under condemnation for having tempting thoughts and feelings?

9. What does hearing the Spirit within you have to do with living in the freedom of Christ?

The Rest of the Gospel: The Holy But (Chapter 17)

Chapter 17  The Holy But Key Verse:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 ESV

Key Question:

How does the "holy but" cause us to see our circumstances, good and bad?

Read chapter 17 and answer the following:

1. What are some negatives in your life that God wants to use to teach you to exercise faith in a certain area? How does your soul feel about each of these negatives?

2. For each of these negatives, what truth is God asking you to believe?

3. Write out each of these areas as a Holy But sentence (e.g., “I . . ., but God . . .”).

4. How do these Holy Buts “allow Christ to respond to situations through you with His life”?

5. Have you tried to escape the external situation in each of these instances? What has been the result?

6. Think of an example when you operated the Holy But in your life. What was the negative? What was God’s truth? What internal shift did the Holy But produce in you?

7. Rewrite Galatians 2:20, substituting your name in the verse. Read it out loud. Consider posting it someplace and reading it aloud daily.

8. Is there someone you could partner with to speak aloud God’s truth about you? Consider doing it regularly.

The Rest of the Gospel: Will not Hunger (Chapter 16)

Chapter 16  Will Not Hunger Key Verse

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35 ESV

Key Question

How can we say that Jesus is our total sufficiency?

Read chapter 16 and answer the following questions:

1. What are some ways that your soul is still hungry?

2. What does it mean that Jesus is your total spirit sufficiency in these areas (from question #1)?

3. What is the implication for your life in saying that you have all of Jesus you’ll ever have?

4. What does the statement in Question #3 not mean?

5. Are there needs in your life that you think God isn’t meeting? What are they?

6. What dangers does doubting God’s sufficiency in these areas (Question #5) open you up to?

7. Are there any areas in your life in which you feel desperate at times for an answer? Has God always provided a temporal solution? If not, what might be the reason? What specifically does He want to teach you?

8. In what ways are you inclined to live in the past or future, instead of the present? What effect does this have on you? What does God invite you to do instead?

9. What does it mean that the answer is always a Person? Apply this to some specific problem area in your life. What is God calling you to?

The Rest of the Gospel: Song of the Week {I live, yet not I...}

Gal 2:20; Col3:3

Gal 2:20; Col3:3

My UNION with Christ...I live, yet not I...Christ with and in and through me.  This song brings me to my knees in humble gratitude for this awesome truth:  I am not separate!  I am not alone, trying to do my best with God's help if I believe hard enough and ask Him correctly.

He and I are ONE!  You are ONE with Him too, O believing child of God!  Hallelujah!

Let's sing out this truth...

CRUCIFIED with CHRIST

As I look back on what I thought was living I'm amazed at the price I chose to pay And to think I ignored what really mattered Cause I thought the sacrifice would be too great But when I finally reached the point of giving in I found the cross was calling even then And even though it took dying to survive I've never felt so much alive.

CHORUS:

For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live Not I but Christ that lives within me His Cross will never ask for more than I can give For its not my strength but His There's no greater sacrifice For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live

As I hear the Savior call for daily dying I will bow beneath the weight of Calvary Let my hands surrender to His piercing purpose That holds me to the cross but sets me free I will glory in the power of the cross The things I thought were gain I count as loss And with His suffering I identify And by His resurrection power I am alive

And I will offer all I have So that His cross is not in vain For I found to live is Christ And to die is truly gain


The Rest of the Gospel: God's Process of Growth (Chapter 15)

Chapter 15  God's Process of Growth Key Verses:

I am writing to you, little children,     because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers,     because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men,     because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children,     because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers,     because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,     because you are strong,     and the word of God abides in you,     and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2: 12-14 ESV

Key Question:

What is Christian growth?

Read chapter 15 and answer the following:

1. Have you been tempted to believe that Christian growth occurs in only one certain How did that look to you?

2. What was the result of trying to put a box around God’s process in you?

3. Dan talks about three stages of growth from First John 2:12-14. What did God say to you through this description about God’s process of growth?

4. What does it mean to you that “God takes us in love” (p. 168)? What is God saying to you through that statement right now?

5. Think of two or three difficult circumstances in your life right now. Have you accepted that God is working on you to your benefit in each of these, or are you resisting God’s work? How does He want you to respond to Him in each circumstance?

6. Is there a contradiction between Christ living in us, as us, and Dan’s call to obedience on page 168? Why not?

7. Are there any areas in which God is calling you to be a responder to Him, to be obedient? If you have not yet responded, what has that done to your windowpane?

8. On pages 169 and 170, Dan says that God causes us to grow as He “uses the storms in the soul” to drive us to a place of inner rest. In what areas of your life are you not at rest? How is God telling you to respond to Him in those areas?

9. In what ways is your soul still turned outward, its attention on the body and the world? Is there an area or two in which you hear the wooing of God back to Him? What would it look like for you to respond to His wooing?