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

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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: 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?

The Rest of the Gospel: Revelation -- God's Way of Knowing (chapter 11)

Chapter 11  Revelation: God's Way of Knowing Key Verses:

 ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe... Ephesians 1:17-19a ESV

Key Question:

What is the difference between "knowing" something spiritually and "knowing about" something spiritually?

Read chapter 11 and answer the following:

1. Has God brought you to the place where in your heart you know that you can’t live the Christian life on your own?

2. In what ways are you still seeking flesh answers to flesh questions (p. 123)? What is the answer to all spirit questions?

3. What are you trying to produce that you are incapable of producing? Or, to put it another way, how are you still trying to live out of your own effort? Are you ready to stop trying and trust God to do it instead?

4. Are you still expecting yourself to succeed at trying to live the Christian life? Does God see you as a failure when you are unable to? What is His perspective on your failures (p. 123)?

5. What is the practical meaning to you of “know-about means we must earn; know means we understand it’s freely given”?

6. What are some things the Spirit of God has revealed to you, things you know, that you can’t be shaken from?

7. What is the good news in the fact that true knowing comes by revelation of the Spirit, not our analysis?

8. Can you be content with where God has you in His process? How might He want you to trust His timing in your life? What does He want you to stop being anxious about?

9. What are some things God is telling you to believe? Review the three things Dan beginning at the bottom of p. 129. What is God saying to you about these three things?

 

The Rest of the Gospel: God's Precious Assets (chapter 10)

Chapter 10  God's Precious Assets Key Verse

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves... 2 Cor 4:7 NASB

Key Question

Am I an asset or a liability to God?

Read chapter 10 and answer the following questions:

1. How does seeing ourselves as God sees us, above the line, free us to be usable assets to God?

2. In what ways are you an asset to God?

3. What are some things about your humanity that God uses as His asset in the world? What does this say about the uniqueness God has given you?

4. Name some ways that God manifested Himself through you this past week.

5. If you were to suddenly disappear, how would certain individuals miss Christ living through you?

6. What is it like for you, as the vessel, to try to become the contents of the vessel? What is that experience like in your life? Give an example from this past week.

7. How has God used your unique background, seemingly good and seemingly bad, to make you into the vessel of His choosing?

8. If you are the vessel and God is the one living through you, who is the pressure on in this Christian life – you or God? In what ways does God wants you to take the pressure off of yourself?

The Rest of the Gospel: The Real You (chapter 9)

Chapter 9  The Real You Key Verse

 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5:21 NASB

Key Question

What is the flesh?

Read chapter 9 and answer the following:

1. How is Dan using the word flesh, or false self? Define these terms.

2. Does flesh always produce things that look bad on the outside? Why or why not? 3. How is focusing on ourselves, instead of on Christ as our life, flesh-based?

4. When God looks at you, what does He see? What is His point of reference in looking at you? Is He pulling the wool over His eyes when He looks at you, or is this the way you really are?

5. What does it mean to stop trying to become who we already are? What does this mean for you personally?

6. What are some things already true about you as a new creation in Christ? Will these things ever change?

7. How does knowing our true identity help us understand that there is no condemnation?

8. How does knowing our true identity enable us to live with a Christ-consciousness instead of a self-consciousness? Why is this important?

9. In what ways do you still attempt to draw your identity from externals? How is that dangerous to you and others? What is God’s solution to that problem?

10. What does it mean for us to focus on the spirit, instead of primarily the soul?

11. What is your true identity as a child of God?

12. What is the prayer Dan suggests regarding your identity at the end of the chapter? Would this prayer be an appropriate one for you to be praying?

The Rest of the Gospel: Union with Christ {a summary}

When I walk through the “gate” of salvation, I am thrilled with the revelation that my sins are forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  I am now reconciled to (at peace with) God my Creator. Not only that, I am His child, born into His family (John 1:12). But it doesn’t take long before an important question/problem comes up:  how do I live the Christian life?  Because of the kind of teaching/mentoring I am exposed to (legalistic)…and/or because of the simple fact that “my flesh likes to work,” I start out on the road of trying in my own strength to live the Christian life.  Of course I try to do it to please God, seeking God’s help…hoping I have enough or the right kind of faith (because without faith I can’t please Him, Heb 11:6) and hoping I ask (pray) correctly.

But sooner or later, I start failing, getting confused and frustrated, maybe even despairing and giving up.  This goes on for years!  Finally, the truth of what has been true all along begins to break through:

I can’t live the Christian life!

         I was never meant to live it!

         Jesus is the only one who ever lived it!

         This same Jesus lives in me!  Col 1:27

         He will live the life through me, as me, if I let Him!  Gal 2:20

         That’s faith.  It’s my consent, my yielding to the Risen, indwelling Christ to live His Life in and through me as me.

It’s then at my point of desperation that God reveals to my heart that  in the eternal, unseen realm, He had immersed me (baptized me) into Christ.  My old man (my sinful self inherited from Adam) died united to Him, was buried united to Him, and arose a new creation in Him (2Cor 5:14-21).  At salvation, I had become a new person in Christ, free from the power of sin, free from the law (the legalistic, to-do list Christian should’s and ought to’s), and free from the selfish self that makes me my frame of reference for all things.  I died to all of that.  I also died to the world (the earthly system in rebellion against God), the flesh (the pull of sin within that is in rebellion against God), and the devil (God’s evil, lying, rebellious enemy, the father of all unbelievers). Romans 6, Colossians 1&2, Galatians 4-6.

Once I realize that and begin to live from that truth (“Wait a minute!  I died to __________________!”), I am then free to live in newness of life right now: the Resurrected, indwelling Jesus united to my spirit in and through my earthly life as me (Gal 2:20).  I am His vessel, His container, His instrument to show forth the life and glory of the Father in this world.

OK, that’s all well and good.  But what about the fact that I don’t feel dead and free from sin, temptation, the pull of the fleshly, material part of me?  It feels like I’m two people or someone with two natures:  a godly one that wants only Him and an ungodly one that only cares about myself and my desires and “appetites.”

The problem lies in the fact that I still have a temporal, earthly, human existence in a world suffering the consequences of sin  (Romans 8). My humanness (body & soul) is changing, fluctuating, being pulled this way and that because it is connected to the seen & temporal realm.  The sin principle still indwells my body and soul, my “members” on this earth (Romans 7). My spirit (who I really am), on the other hand, is fixed, complete, righteous, holy because it is one with God in the unseen, eternal realm.

What I still suffer while on this fallen earth are the consequences of sin:  sickness, physical death, disappointment, grief, negative emotions, etc. and the pull of sin indwelling my fleshly human nature (body & soul).  But all of that is not who I really am.  It feels like me, but it’s not!  The real me is united to Christ.  My life is hid with Christ in God in the eternal realm (Col 3:3).

God uses all of these trials and fluctuations in my soul and body to teach me to live by faith and not by sight.  Now by faith I reckon (“count on”) being dead to this sin, that lie, the other ungodly pull…and alive to God and His will!  Reckoning doesn’t make it true.  I count on it (reckon it) to be true because it is true.

And I chose to live from the truth of who I am in the eternal realm.  Then my Lord Christ can have free reign because He is my life and I am His instrument!  Hallelujah!

 

The Rest of the Gospel: One Nature (chapter 8)

Chapter 8  One Nature

Key Verse

 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. Galatians 2:20-21  NASB

Key Question

Am I one person or two?  Have I one nature or two?

Read chapter 8 and answer the following questions:

1. What is the theological rut that most believers fall into? What negative effect does this rut have on us?

2. How does the Line help us understand our true nature?

3. What is external appearance and experience going to always tell you about your nature? How trustworthy are these indicators?

4. Of all the examples Dan uses from Scripture concerning how we can only have one nature, which one spoke to you the most? Why?

5. Is Dan teaching sinless perfection in this chapter? Why not? What is the essence of what he is saying?

6. Why is it vital to understand that we only have one true nature? What effect might believing you have two natures have on you?

The Rest of the Gospel: One Spirit (chapter 6)

Chapter 6 One Spirit Key verse:

But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 1 Corinthians 6:17 ESV

Key Question:

How do we live in union?

Read Chapter 6 (the old ch 7) and answer the following:

1. What is the significance to you that you are one spirit with God?

2. What does it mean that you and He remain distinct beings, yet function as one?

3. How might knowing you are one with God affect a tendency toward self-conscious living?

4. If you are the manifestor of God’s life, not the source of it, what does that say about how God wants you to live the Christian life? Cite a specific example in your life and show how this truth would apply to it.

5. How do you try to reproduce life through your own effort, like a female without a male? What fruit does it bear? Give a specific example.

6. Think about Dan’s story on pp. 82-83 about his union with Christ and his cancer. Is there a parallel situation in your life, a difficult external circumstance? What are you tempted to think about it? What does God say about it?

7. Think about this statement: “You are dead as a point of origin. Christ in you is the point of origin. He will live the life in you as you.” What is God saying to you personally about this in your life?

8. What does this chapter imply about how God loves and cherishes you?

9. Read the next to last paragraph of the chapter. How might this be an encouragement to you?

The Rest of the Gospel: Doublecross {Christ lives in you}, chapter 5

Chapter 5  Doublecross {Christ lives in you} Key Verse:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:10 ESV

Key Question:

Who lives the life?

Read Chapter 5 and answer these questions:

1. How in the Passover did God provide a picture of both the blood and the body side of the cross?

2. Give examples from your life of how, after coming to Christ, you have continued to live in Egypt.

3. How is it that Jesus is all we need to live the life? If that is true, what about the Christian disciplines? What role do they play? How does Jesus being the life affect the way we “do” all things in the Christian life?

4. What does Dan mean when, on page 59, he says that Jesus lives His life “in you, through you, as you”? What does he not mean?

5. Summarize what the Gospel of John says about the process by which Jesus lived His life. What relation does this have to how we are to live our life?

6. What does it mean to see ourselves as our point of origin, or source of life? What does it mean to see Jesus as our Source or point of origin?

7. How does seeing Jesus as our Source work in our lives? Pick something you struggled with this past week, a trial you had. What does seeing Jesus as your Source in that circumstance mean? How does that work out in your life?

8. Of what significance is it to us that the life that Jesus lives, He lives to God (Rom. 6:10)? What does it mean for us living the Christian life?

9. Why is it important to see ourselves as vessels that contain God’s life?

10. Review page 62. How can you cooperate with God in experiencing the reality of Christ as your life?

Next:  Read through chapter 6, but we won't study it until next week.  This week we will do chapter 5 & 7 together according to the authors' suggestion.

Coming Soon:  Summary of Part One -- Union With Christ (chapters 1-7)

 

The Rest of the Gospel: Doublecross {what you died to}, chapter 4

Chapter 4  Doublecross {what you died to} Key verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God... 2Cor 5:17-18a NKJV

Key question: What did I die to?

1. Why is it difficult to accept the fact that we died with Christ?

2. If we think that we didn’t really die with Him, what are we looking to that tells us that? What tells us we have died with Christ? Which is more reliable?

3. What does it mean that you died to sin?

4. Look up Romans 7:22. In your deepest being, do you want to be obedient to God, or do you want to sin?

5. Because of the body side of the cross, what is your true identity now?

6. Why is having died to sin critical to you living the Christian life?

7. What does it mean that you died to the Law?

8. Why is that critical to you living the Christian life?

9. What does it mean that you died to yourself as your point of reference?

10. Why is that critical to you living the Christian life?

For an excerpt and ordering information, click here:

The Rest of the Gospel: Song of the Week {Revelation Song}

...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  Revelation 13:8 NKJV How could we have died in Christ 2000+ years ago?  Because that death happened in the eternal realm...before time began.

Does that blow your mind?  It does mine.  Aren't we glad that we have a God bigger than our finite minds can grasp?

As we seek to ponder these mysteries, let us lift our hearts and voices in worship:

Revelation Song

Worthy is the, Lamb who was slain Holy, Holy, is He Sing a new song, to Him who sits on Heaven's Mercy Seat

(Chorus)

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty Who was, and is, and is to come With all creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings! You are my everything, And I will adore You…!

Clothed in rainbows, of living color Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder Blessing and honor, strength and Glory and power be To You the Only Wise King,

(Chorus)

Filled with wonder, Awestruck wonder At the mention of Your Name Jesus, Your Name is Power Breath, and Living Water Such a marvelous mystery

(Chorus)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDJjHOJw5bM[/youtube]

For an excerpt and ordering information, click here:

The Rest of the Gospel: Doublecross, Part 1 {you died in Christ}, chapter 3

Chapter 3  Doublecross {you died in Christ} Key Verse: For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3 NIV

Key Question: When & where did I die?

Read the chapter and explore these questions:

1. Why is Christ dying for us only fifty percent of the gospel What is the other half?

2. Why is the first half of the gospel insufficient for us to live the Christian life?

3. What happens when we try to live the Christian life on only half of the gospel? Tell the group what that experience has looked like in your journey.

4. What is the difference between sins and sin? Why is the difference critical to our understanding of the gospel?

5. Why does death end our relationship to sin?

6. We know what happened to Christ on the cross. Explain what happened to you on the cross. What significance does that have for you living the Christian life?

7. How is that we died with Christ and yet are still living? How would you explain someone’s death with Christ to them?

8. What was the old man? What happened to the old man? What significance does that have for you as a believer?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLy8ksqGf9w[/youtube]

To read an excert and get ordering info, click here:

We Are His Hands and Feet {Patty's story...and ours}

Patty Renner
Patty Renner

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV

"I get it, Janet!  That's why I'm crying...I get it!"

So ended a recent phone conversation with my sister-in-law Patty. What did Patty get, you ask?  Let me back the story up to the beginning.

Early this past summer, a long time friend of Patty's was diagnosed with cancer.  The prognosis for Ellen was not good from the start.  But Ellen went through some rounds of chemo and other treatments.

quilting fabrics
quilting fabrics

In the meantime, not long after learning about Ellen's diagnosis, Patty began hearing the still, small voice of her Shepherd (John 10:27):

"I want you to make Ellen a quilt.  I'll tell you how to put it together.  And I want you to give her a message from Me."

So Patty (who by the way is an incredible seamstress and works at a quilt shop) set out to choose the fabric and make it according to the promptings of the Spirit.  The whole time, Patty knew she was God's instrument, His messenger.

Later in the summer, my husband & I  stayed with Patty and my brother Conrad.  It was then that she told me the story and showed me the almost-completed quilt.

The quilt was incredibly beautiful (see below).  In fact, it almost took my breath away!  Patty's choices of fabric, colors, design could only have been done by inspiration coupled with gifting.

And the most wonderful thing -- God had a message for Ellen.  And the Lord's message was embedded in the quilt itself -- a heart at each edge spoke of LOVE, HOPE, FAITH, COURAGE!    The quilt was to be a reminder that He was wrapping his arms around her and would be with her always.

A few weeks ago came my phone call from Patty.  She told me the rest of Ellen's story.

Quilting-225x300-2
Quilting-225x300-2

Patty had finished the quilt, delivered God's message, and prayed.  Patty wasn't sure if Ellen understood the message she had delivered.  But when she heard that Ellen wanted the quilt buried with her, Patty knew she had understood.

Several weeks passed.  Then came the news...

Ellen had gone home to her loving God.  She had lost her battle with cancer, but she found the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:42-46).  Now she was wrapped in the real, loving arms of God...she no longer needed the quilt.

And Patty was in tears...why?

She got it...that the resurrected, living Lord Christ lives within her, His child.  The Lord had reached out and loved her dying friend Ellen through her...as Patty, the gifted seamstress and outgoing friend that she is.  All she had to be was willing.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves... 2 Cor 4:7 NASB

The same is true for us, dear brothers & sisters in Christ.  The living Lord lives His life through us, as us, to manifest Himself to the world.

But you may say, "I'm not gifted like Patty or like ______________!  I'm broken!  I've had a rough background!  I'm no asset to God...in fact, I'm a liability!  All I seem to do is mess up, even though my heart is to honor my Lord."  And on and on...

Listen to what author Dan Stone says:

earthen vessels
earthen vessels

As earthen vessels, we are a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, appetites, interests, and energies.  The bottom line is that we're always operating from what a friend of mine calls the Holy Wink:  to others, it looks like us, but we know it's Christ in us.  We are at peace in our spirit union with God, knowing that our outer humanity is God's perfect instrument.  It is the means by which God touches the world.

Thank God for your humanity.  Thank God for your parents, even for the difficult things you inherited from them.  God used them to make you the perfect instrument you are.  Thank God for your warts.  Praise God for them, because He's going to make them a blessing in someone else's life.  Take back your humanity as the dwelling place of the Most High God.  Make peace with you...

Let it dawn on you that you are no longer a liability to God.  You are God's wonderful and beautiful and necessary asset.  You are the vessel by which the world drinks.  You are the means by which the world sees the love and life of God. The Rest of the Gospel, p. 118

The Lord Christ lives through us; He loves through us; He serves through us...in the unique us He made each of us to be.  We are His instruments, His messengers to each other and to the world.  Whatever your personality, your background, your gifting...just say "Yes" to Him, listen for His voice, and follow.

Perhaps you would like to pray this at the dawn of each new day:

morning
morning

Lord, As 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.

We are His Hands White Heart

We are His handsWe are His feetWe are His peopleChildren of the LordWe share the hopeWe share the dreamBelievers in JesusChildren of the King

His Spirit lives within usFlowing like a riverFilling us with strengthSo that we can reach out for our brotherHelp one another

Some of us build, some are teachersSome can sing like angelsBut all of us can loveLike He loved, pure and simpleSo warm and gentle

 

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