30 October, 2009

~snapshot of week 7 of 10, BHT study~

Snapshot of week 7 of 10, Lesson 6: "Before His Throne" GCC Womens' Bible Study
Submitted by Leah Page on Fri, 10/30/2009 - 4:40pm

Welcoming the Lord's Discipline as his Kindness which leads to Repentance

Intro: "The Two Birds" ~ see previous post for text.

Part 1: We read through the first two chapters of Malachi and the first 5 verses of chapter 3, bringing us up to the verses comprising our study for this past week. Then started in with highlight of Malachi 2:17 ~

17You have wearied the LORD with your words Yet you say, "How have we wearied Him?"
In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them,"
or, "Where is the God of justice?"

Or to put it another way ~
What's the point, God? You let the unrighteous get away with murder!
Why should we even bother with being righteous - what's it gonna get us?
If you were so concerned about justice and righteousness....
[dot dot dot]

(How often do we say, in effect, this same thing?!) These unfaithful ones receiving the Lord's rebuke in the book of Malachi (cf also end of book of Nehemiah for context) dare put the blame back on God! But it exposes their own hearts - in their accusation, they completely ignore the fact of their own unrighteousness, and expose their own sinful hearts - desiring the gifts rather than the Giver. (idolatry)

What is the root cause of their idolatry? (cf Malachi 3:5 ...they do not fear the Lord.)

In chapter three, the Lord begins to move from his REBUKE to his PROMISE, and we see mention of this one who will come to prepare the way of the Lord (Malachi 3:1) - So we visited the New Testament, and took a look at Matthew 3:1-3 regarding who was this messenger to clear the way for the Lord? John the Baptizer - and what was his Gospel message and why: "Repent! for the kingdom of God is at hand!" It is the cry for repentance that is the means by which the people are made ready for the Lord (see also Luke 1:13-17). Said again, Repentance! prepares the way of the Lord. (I think it has been credited to Martin Luther, as no doubt many other faithful followers of Christ, for saying that a believer ought to be "always repenting.")

Part 2: Getting into Malachi 3:2-3, we started to break this down - what is the means by which God (in his kindness!) leads people to repentance?


Disciplines us as sons (Hebrews 12:4-11)
Refines / Purifies us as Silver (James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-9)
Enables us to endure Sufferings as Christ (John 15:8-10, John 16:32-33)

df. "refine"

to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities: to refine metal, sugar, or petroleum.

to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured.

to bring to a finer state or form by purifying.

to make more fine, subtle, or precise: to refine one's writing style.

–verb (used without object)

to become pure.

to become more fine, elegant, or polished.

to make fine distinctions in thought or language.

—Verb phrase

refine on or upon, to improve by inserting finer distinctions, superior elements, etc.: to refine on one's previous work.

df. "purify"

to make pure; free from anything that debases, pollutes, adulterates, or contaminates: to purify metals.

to free from foreign, extraneous, or objectionable elements: to purify a language.

to free from guilt or evil.

to clear or purge (usually fol. by of or from).

to make clean for ceremonial or ritual use.

(used with object)
–verb (used without object)

to become pure.

Lastly - we didn't have a chance to get into this very much Wednesday night, but our week of study lands on Malachi 3:3-5 and I wish we would have had the time to break this down.

Please take a moment to again read these verses, and then ask, "What does the Lord promise to do for his people in these verses?"

Then ask, "What are the after-effects of what the Lord does?"

Here's a hint ~
Once again, we are talking about: what pleases the Lord? what kind of sacrifice pleases the Lord?

And just for good measure, because we cannot repeat this too much, how are we made to be a sacrifice which is pleasing to the Lord? (Ephesians 1:3-8; Hebrews 9:13-14)

Blessings as you continue in your studies this week, ladies!

Groups: Women of Grace

It's Your Kindness that Leads Us to Repentance O Lord

~Grace Gem shared last night: "The Two Birds"~
Submitted by Leah Page on Thu, 10/29/2009 - 9:38am

The two birds

(J. R. Miller, "Finding God's Comfort" 1896)

....To correct, is to set right--that which has been wrong. Surely if a man is going in the wrong way, and God turns his feet back and sets him in the right way--a blessing has come to the man!

Afflictions are 'God's corrections'. They come always with a purpose of love in them. God never afflicts one of His children, without meaning His child's good in some way. So blessing is always intended by God. It is usually afterward that people begin to see and to understand the good that God sent them in their trial. "You do not understand what I am now doing" said Jesus, "but you shall understand hereafter." "No chastening seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." So when we have troubles and afflictions, we may know that God wants to do us good in some way through them.

He is not a true parent, who sees his children doing wrong, and yet fails to correct them for fear he may hurt their feelings. He ought to think of their higher good, and chasten them now--to profit them afterward.

This is the way our heavenly Father works. He never loves us better--than when He is correcting us. Therefore we ought not to despise this chastening. We ought not to murmur or complain when God does not give us our own way--but checks us, lays His afflictive hand upon us, and sends trouble upon us! We ought to have such faith in God--that we shall submit quietly, confidently, and sweetly to his will--even when it brings a heavy cross into our life.

A great many people need to pause at this line--and learn it. They do not treat God's chastening with reverence. Sometimes they are crushed by it, and refuse to look up into God's face with submission and love. Sometimes they grow bitter against God and say hard things of Him! We ought to reverence God's chastening; we ought to listen to the voice that speaks to us in our grief or pain.

The way in which God brings blessing through chastening, is emphasized: "For He wounds--but He also binds up; He strikes--but His hands also heal." Job 5:18. God never smites with both hands at once! When one hand is laid upon us in affliction--the other hand is reached out to help, to uphold, to heal.

Sometimes there is a trouble in a man's body which requires the surgeon's knife. There must be amputation, or cutting away, or cutting into. In such a case the skillful surgeon does not hesitate. He thinks far more of his patient's health for the future--than of his comfort at present. So he uses his knife--that he may cure disease, or save life. He wounds--to heal. He makes sore--that he may bind up. It is just so in all afflictions which God sends. He chastens--that He may deliver from the power of temptation. He hurts the body--that he may save the soul. He takes away earthly property--that He may give true, heavenly riches.

One writer tells of two birds and how they acted when caught and put into a cage. One, a 'starling', flew violently against the wire walls of its prison, in unavailing efforts to escape--only battering and bruising its own wings. The other bird, a 'canary', perched itself on the bar and began to pour forth bursts of sweet song, from its little throat. We know which bird was the wiser and happier.

Some people are like the starling--when they are in any trouble, they chafe and fret and complain and give way to wretchedness! The result is, they only hurt themselves, make themselves more miserable, and do not in any sense lessen their trouble. It is wiser always, as well as more pleasing to God, for us to bear our trials patiently, singing songs of faith and love--rather than crying out in rebellion and discontent.

Job wanted to get near to God in his great trouble; he cried, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" He felt sure that that would be the best and safest place for him to be. We ought not to lose this lesson. When trouble is upon us--the true thing for us to do, is to flee to God! Some people, in their affliction and sorrow--flee away from God. Thus they lose their joy and peace, missing the comfort which they would get if only they kept near to Him. The right way to respond, is to try to find the way to God's very presence. He is the only safe refuge, when the storms of trouble break upon us. The first thing always, in any time of trouble--is to find God and hide away in His bosom, as a child runs to the mother in alarm, or as the little bird flies to its nest. To find God--is to be safe!

God is our truest and best friend! He is our Father--we need never fear to go to Him. He gives heed unto our cries. He loves us. All His omnipotence is on our side. No mother's heart was ever so full of love for her child--as is the heart of God for us, His children!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I received this as yesterday's "Grace Gem" from the website www.gracegems.org, and it was so timely to our study! I pray the Lord would make me (and us) able to "turn back to praise" whatever we receive from his hand, recognizing even afflictions as his GOOD GIFTS, as the fire that ignites a fragrant offering to our God.

Groups: Women of Grace

26 October, 2009

~B4Throne wk 6 of 10: Holding All Things With an Open Hand~

~B4Throne wk 6: BIG IDEAS Outline, and Holding All Things With an Open Hand~
Submitted by Leah Page on Mon, 10/26/2009 - 10:52am

The below "Big Ideas/Personal Application Worksheet" was printed out on paper for our ladies this past Wednesday - just an "at a glance" view of the major passages we've studied and discussed the past several weeks, with room to journal or take notes during our discussion time. The intent was to provide an open discussion in class, to offer room for the ladies to share their personal insights, experiences, convictions, as the Lord has been applying these truths to their hearts and lives as we've worked through the book. (to "pull back on the throtle" a little bit and catch our breaths to make sure we are seeking practically apply what we've been learning)

The "Big Idea" that was our take-away thought for this past week (brought in at the end of the below form) ties in with the theme of the lesson - which had primarily to do with the "unfaithfulness" of God's people, both in terms of marrying "the daughters of foreign gods" and also the practical outworking of that which meant divorcing their spouses and literally intermarrying with these other nations, breaking covenant with God AND with each other.

So our discussion of application of these themes led nicely into talking about what Pastor Krogh (and others) has (have) described as "holding all things with an open hand." What "daughters of foreign gods" have WE "married" (so to speak) in our own lives -

What entices us?
What are we unwilling to give up?
What do we feel the Lord is "withholding" from us?
What steals away our love and devotion to the Lord?
What things might be holding with a tight fist, refusing to give God rulership and sovereignty?

In effect, these things are idols of our hearts, and rob us of our faithfulness to God.

Our discussion recalled a GCC womens' retreat a few years ago where Bette Jo Nienhuis had taught on the very topic of "idols of the heart," and very practically speaking she had shown us how there is a visible progression that occurs:

Hopes --> Expectations --> Demands ("I have a right to...." and "you OWE me this ....")

We were challenged again this past Wed. night to examine ourselves, to see if there are any "good things" that have become "god things" in our own hearts -

What are we NOT holding with an open hand?
What "hopes" as regards the sometimes very good things God gives and/or promises have we allowed to morph into expectations and demands, so that they RULE our hearts, and steal away our first love for God?


“Before His Throne” – 10 week study
Week 6, Lesson 5: Spiritual Faith-less-ness

BIG IDEAS Outline ~ Personal Application Worksheet

I. Our Identity if we are “In Christ”
Eph. 1
1 Pet. 2

II. “the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom....”
Ex. 19
Is. 40
Ps 33
Ps 34

III. God’s first words: “I have loved you”
Malachi 1:1-5 ~ Jacob I have loved, Esau (Edom) I have hated....
Rom. 9 ~ What is “covenantal” love?
(Eph. 1, Rom. 8:29)
end of Rom. 8, end of Eph. 3
Heb. 12 ~ The Lord’s “severe mercies”

IV. Honoring God as Father, Revering God as Master
Malachi 1:6+
Rom. 6
Rom. 8
“Identity in Christ” ~ “X marks the spot” ~ [2 Cor. 10:3-5]

V. What Pleases the Lord (“Right Sacrifice”):
Malachi 1:7-10
Lev. 22
Ps. 51
Rom. 12:1-2
Col. 3 ~ “put off, put on”
Eph. 4 ~ “put off, put on”

1) __Perfection / Unblemished / Firstfruits / BEST _______
2) __Blood offering / Jesus’ blood / Substitutiary Atonement _______
3) __Broken and contrite Spirit / Broken heart / Repentance _______
4) __Living sacrifice / offer your bodies (whole self) / holy _______
5) __Sacrifice of praise / worship _______
6) __Spiritual sacrifices / put off the old / put on the new _______

VI. God’s Great Name:
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain....”
Malachi 1:11-14
1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:22-25, 1 Tim. 6:1
1 Pet. 2:4-5, 9-10 ~ living stones, built up together, made to be a declaration (!) of the excellence of HIS worth

VII. Starting Strong, Finishing Well
Malachi 2:1-9
Gen. 6 ~ Noah’s “ark” / a type of “Christ”
Heb. 11 ~ looking forward to a heavenly city whose designer and builder is God
[Heb. 8-10 ~ Jesus ushers in a better covenant (“identity” / “right sacrifices”)]
Heb. 12 ~ run the race, endure to the end, fix your eyes on Jesus ~ Matt 10:22

VIII. You have forgotten your First Love ~ Adultery / Idolatry
Malachi 2:10-16
Deut 7:1-6, 1 Kings 11:1-8 ~ the sin of Solomon; sin’s consequences
Ezra 9-10
Rev. 2:1-7
[Ezekiel 16, book of Hosea]
Isaiah 44
1 John 5:21
Proverbs 4:20-27

Groups: Women of Grace

~B4Throne: "Practically Speaking...."~

~B4Throne: "Practically Speaking...."~
Submitted by Leah Page on dateTue, Oct 20, 2009 at 8:05 PM
subject"Before His Throne" - Practically speaking....

Good Tuesday evening, Ladies!

I have been very aware of just how much "deep" material we have covered of late, and since this week's lesson has as its very practical theme that of "no compromise" and "faithfulness," I wonder if it would be helpful to us to approach at least the first part of class tomorrow night sharing with one another how the Lord has opened our eyes and hearts in practical ways these past few weeks. Where has the rubber been meeting the road these past few weeks?

For example, How has he revealed his love and affection for you? How has he perhaps shown you a "severe mercy" and discipline, or shown you the "peaceable fruit of righteousness" of such a time? How has he helped you to see the practical outworking of what it means to "fear the Lord aright" in the daily roles and responsibilities he's given you? etc.

I for one tend to grasp deeper "concepts" much more readily than I learn to practice them in my daily life, and would really value your input. Would you be willing to come prepared to share tomorrow night, and encourage your sisters with how the Lord has challenged, encouraged, and even changed you in some way through the Scriptures we've studied?

Looking forward to our time together,

Groups: Women of Grace

16 October, 2009

~Starting Strong, Finishing Well; BHT Study from week 5~

~in class outline from week 5/Lesson 4; originally planned small groups~

Submitted by Leah Page on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 6:39pm

(p1. allow approx 20-25 min.)

Take a moment to greet one another, introduce yourselves. [allow maybe 2-3 minutes at most to ensure we don’t run out of time for the lesson.]

Refer to p. 64 in your books, and read Genesis 6:5-10 and Hebrews 11:7 together.

What are some of the words/phrases you listed to describe Noah, according to these passages? [answers may include: found favor with God, was righteous, was blameless in his generation, walked with God, believed God (by faith), feared God (in reverent fear), obeyed God (constructed the ark), “condemned the world,” became an heir of righteousness]

Have you ever noticed that the most common way we present this story to our kids in children’s books is by teaching them (wrongly!) that Noah was a righteous man, in fact the ONLY righteous man on the earth, and that’s why God chose to preserve him through the flood. But according to the Scripture, what comes first in Genesis ch. 6, God’s favor (same as the NT word we translate as “grace”) or Noah’s “blamelessness”? [see v.8-9]

You could also ask it this way: What came first, Noah’s faith? Or Noah’s obedience?

Read Hebrews 11:1-7 together.

Noah “found favor” with God – Noah was “graced” by God – “chosen” by God. God set his “peculiar affection” on Noah and his family – and he acted on this love by preserving Noah both in his faith and his obedience. Noah and his family were safely delivered from the flood which destroyed the world because God faithfully kept them. Did you know that the “ark” which Noah built is a “type of Christ”? We have talked about what it means to be “in Christ” – as Noah was “in” the ark! Do you remember who shut the door to guarantee Noah’s “preservation”? [see 7:16]

Turn to p. 66 in your books

Studying Malachi 2:1-9, you observed how the first Levitical priests “started well” by walking faithfully in “covenant” with God. You entered information in the chart on this page concerning their attitudes and actions and the results thereof. Take a few moments to share what you observed from Malachi ch. 2.

Did you notice there is kind of an “if/then” pattern as you progress through the chart? Do you see any correlation between these patterns and the promises in Psalm 34:4-10 (see p. 73 in your books)? Do you see any application of this in your own life?

Keeping these things in mind, turn to 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10 and p. 70 in your books.

What words and phrases are listed in these verses to describe our position if we are “in Christ” (remember Ephesians ch. 1 from our first week)?

As we wrap up the 1st half and take a short break, let’s think about this: What is our identity? On what do we base our confidence that we are “In Christ”? (As with Noah, what came first? God’s grace? Or our “righteousness”?)

Now...how do we KEEP our “identity”?

**5 MIN. BREAK**

(p. 2 allow approx 30 min.)

In the first section, you wrapped up by looking at what we are if we are “in Christ.” And we confess, our faith is, in effect, a “strong start”! Considering that CHRIST is our firm foundation, our “Ark of Preservation,” let’s look, now, at what it means to finish well.

Read Philippians 1:6, and turn to p. 74-75 in your books.

Take a minute to skim Matthew 10:17-33, with special attention on verse 22 and refresh your memories as to the context.

Keep a finger in Matthew ch. 10 and read Hebrews 11:13-16, and 11:32 - 12:2 together.

How do you think this might tie in with what you observed in Matthew 10? (feel free to “brainstorm”, using Scripture as your evidence)

Now, take several minutes to carefully read through the following verses (we will stay in Hebrews for now for the sake of continuity):

Hebrews 3:12-19
and Hebrews 4:11-16
and Hebrews 8:8-12
and Hebrews 10:19-25
and Hebrews 10:35-11:2
and Hebrews 12:18-29.

Based on what you have read in the above Scriptures, what does it mean to “endure to the end”? Can we have “confidence” and “assurance” as to our salvation? Why? (or why not?) (Support your answers with Scripture.)

And based on what you have read in the above Scriptures, do you have a stronger picture of what it means to “fear the Lord aright”? (You might want to look back at your notes on p. 74 and 75.)

Finally, sisters! Let us “finish” back where we “started.”

Turn to p. 65 in your books.

Take a few minutes, as time allows, to share some of the “roles and responsibilities” the Lord has given you in your life. Did he show you any specific areas in your life, this past week, he wants you to surrender to him? (Share only as you are comfortable. It can be a significant encouragement to “struggle” through some of these things together!)

Prayer Focus:

· For the Lord’s preservation (keeping) and your perseverance (endurance).
· For any specific things that you would ask of God for the “roles and responsibilities” he has given YOU, that you might be able to “walk in dependence on God’s grace.”

Groups: Women of Grace

14 October, 2009

~review wk 3&4, and preview wk 5: BHT study~

review wk 3&4, and preview wk 5: "Before His Throne" GCC Women's Bible study
Submitted by Leah Page on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 3:05pm
In weeks 3 and 4, we spent a good deal of time in the historical context of the book of Malachi, setting the timeline as to where this “rebuke,” from God the Father towards his people, falls in terms of redemptive history.

(If you haven’t already, take a look at Nehemiah ch. 12 and 13 in light of our discussion about the state of the people's hearts as the OT comes to a close.)

What kind of sacrifice is pleasing and acceptable to God?

1) The Beloved Son whose body was broken on our behalf and
2) a broken and a contrite spirit and
3) a living and holy sacrifice.

We have also settled (somewhat “accidentally”) full-on to this theme of what it means to “abide” in Christ and for God to “abide” with his people (both in an OT sense and in a NT sense). This will take on greater significance as we procede through this study.

Approaching the halfway point of our study, it seems appropriate that this week we begin to look at “beginning strong, but failing to finish well,” and we will look into what it means to “find favor” with the Lord.

(Take a look, in light of all we've learned so far these past few weeks, at Hebrews ch. 8-10 ~ You might particularly appreciate just reading these chapters straight through.)


Groups: Women of Grace

~snapshot of week 4, BHT study~

Snapshot of week 4 of 10: Lesson 3 ~ "Before His Throne" GCC Women's Bible Study
Submitted by Leah Page on Fri, 10/09/2009 - 7:36pm
Before His Throne: Lesson 3 ~ Beholding & Honoring God as Father and Master

1st half – The first indictment God raises against his people in Malachi is that they have not honored him as Father or feared/respected him as Master. We talked through the line-graph in the book, seemingly pitting our relationship with God as “child” (Romans 8) against that of “slave” (Romans 6) when in fact BOTH are true of us. How quickly we swing from one extreme to the other. [We visited 2 Cor. 10:3-5 by way of talking about how when we are merely looking at ourselves, as if to assess how we “feel” about God at any given moment, we are at best limited in our scope, and at worst, subject to lies and our own self-deceit. Rather, we need to “turn our eyes upon Jesus,” and take every thought/feeling captive and make it obedient to Christ.] We need to trust God’s self-revelation which is, in short, that God’s “mastery” demands our holiness, AND God’s “fatherliness” gives us that holiness by giving us his own Son, Jesus, who became our substitute – both as the “perfection” God required and as, then, that perfect “blood sacrifice.”

So we continued the discussion by talking through some of the Levitical requirements for the quality of the sacrifice. We listed the various qualities we found in Scripture: the sacrifice was to be pure, unblemished, not blind, not lame, not diseased, not mutilated, and even the specifics of the sacrifices’ anatomies were attended to (ie: not “unfruitful!”) in God’s requirements. He had given his people everything they needed to know, and repeated himself again and again as if to say, “Ok, let’s be clear! THIS is what I mean by this, and THAT is what I mean by that....” But the people repeat their pattern of rebellion and refuse to worship as God has instructed them. By this time, the people have endured multiple exiles, have returned to the city of God – Jerusalem – and have rebuilt the walls of the city (cf Ezra and Nehemiah), but we find the people still fail to honor God as Father and Master. [note: In Ps. 51 we saw that ultimately, God desires the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart and spirit. Notice, even David, at the end of this Psalm expresses longing for a “rebuilt Jerusalem” because then (finally?!) right sacrifices will be offered.] It was as if the external conditions were about as perfect as they could get, and they still could not “be holy” as God required. And this is how the OT ends, as if the people of God are crying out “Who will save us from this body of sin and death?”

2nd half – We talked about how JESUS is the unblemished sacrifice, the only one that can satisfy God on our behalf. [Sidenote: The Gospel call is NOT “you need to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior;” the Gospel call is to REPENT! God needs to accept Jesus on our behalf!] We talked through what it means, then, if JESUS is the means by which we can know God in that perfect balance as both “child” and “slave” ~ (our “standing” is SURE if we are “in Christ”!) ~ what does God require of us NOW? [“Being precedes function.”] We reviewed Romans 12:1-2, and talked about what it means to be a living sacrifice. This included reviewing our exercise in Colossians ch. 3 ~ putting off the old and putting on the new. We revisited talking about what it means to “take the name of the Lord in vain.” More than mere “apathy” – “taking” is intentional. We are quick to say “Oh, I didn’t mean that,” or “That doesn’t mean anything,” as though these are sufficient excuses for our cavalier attitudes; but in fact, we have just confessed we’ve broken God’s commandment! What, after all, does “vain” mean, but that the thing is meaningless, empty, etc. Instead, what would it look like if we were intentional about living in such a way that ALL we do is “in Jesus’ name.”

In summary:
If we are in Christ, our standing with God is sure – he is both our Master AND our Father – and he lovingly disciplines us and molds us into the likeness of his Son for our good and for our joy. Jesus is the perfect, all-satisfying sacrifice, and in him we have the fullness of life. So now we are to let the peace of Christ rule our hearts, and the word of Christ dwell (abide!) in us richly. Because we ARE (being) children of God in Christ, we DO (function) live wholly surrendered to him out of love. And so, if we do everything we do “in Jesus’ name,” even the most mundane task can be transformed into an act of worship.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face!
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace!”


Groups: Women of Grace

~More Solid Happiness in a Passing Thought of God~

~More Solid Happiness in a Passing Thought of God~
Submitted by Leah Page on Wed, 10/07/2009 - 9:19pm
Octavius Winslow, (neo)puritan writer, in chapter "The God of Comfort" from his book, "Our God" -

The religion of Jesus possesses in the experience of its disciples this remarkable characteristic; there is more true holiness in the heart's thirst for sanctification, and more solid happiness in a passing thought of God, and more real life in one believing look at the Savior, and more perfect repose in one single promise of God's Word, and more of the reality of heaven in a glance within the veil, than this world could ever give, or its religion inspire. Empty, were it possible, the whole world into the soul, and still the worldling's inquiry would be, "Who will show me any good?" .... But let one devout, holy, loving thought of God in Christ enter that soul, and its satisfaction is full, its happiness complete.

Incidentally, I misspoke in class, Octavius Winslow is actually a neo-puritan in that he was writing in the 1800's, rather than the 1600's as I'd originally stated. I still love and recommend him to you. :)
Here is an online link to the whole above-referenced book:

Groups: Women of Grace

05 October, 2009

~snapshot of week 3, BHT study~

Before His Throne: Lesson 2 ~ God's "Peculiar" Affection for His People

1st third - reviewed first two weeks' materials, themes of 1) the blessings we have because we are IN CHRIST (Eph. 1:1-14), and 2) what it means to fear the Lord aright (Isaiah 40, Ps. 33, Romans 1). Intro: Read an article from a medical website I had received that same day concerning "phobias" and "anxiety" - and posed the question how that differs (or does not differ) from what we mean by "the fear of the Lord." When people are "afraid" they tend to run FROM what they fear. But running FROM God in fact exposes our pride - as if we could outrun or escape from God?

We laid out the "big events" timeline from Creation up to Malachi (and Nehemiah ch 13) where the OT ends. Emphasis on repeat pattern all throughout - especially from Judges through the time of the Kings and the Prophets, when the people were brought INTO the land of promise, the land where they were to "devote to destruction" all that was unholy, so that this place, this Jerusalem, this city on a hill, would be a place where God could dwell ("abide") with his people - where they would worship him as he deserves to be worshipped and his glory would be their joy! But instead they time after time after time turned away, doing what was right in their own eyes. We saw that despite the continuous unfaithfulness and profanity of God's people, he continued to promise them restoration and a NEW covenant wherein he would give them new hearts! so they could know him more intimately, and be righteous. We had read through Malachi ch. 1-4 during our lesson time in the week, so we could see that the book takes on the pattern of a rebuke, but even in this is God's PROMISE of rebuilding and restoring and renewing. We noted that God's very first words in this rebuke are, nevertheless, "I have loved you."

2nd third - broke into small groups, examining especially Hebrews 12:7-11 concerning how God's LOVE for his people translates into his discipline of them - for he is treating them as true sons (and not illegitimate sons) and the FRUIT of this discipline, for those who have been trained by it, is the peaceable fruit of righteousness. This small group time allowed for women to have more face-to-face time. Our class is approaching 30 women, so breaking down into groups of 4 or 5 women seemed to be positively received by the ladies as it enabled names to be put with faces, and a more intimate setting for sharing. We talked about God's "severe mercies" in our lives and how what may seem unpleasant at the time is in fact the Lord's kindness. Due to time limitations, we didn't get to explore the 2nd part very deeply - I suggested the ladies may like to take the assignment home and add that to their quiet time. Namely: to review p. 35 and 37 in their books which contained a couple of assignments through other lists of verses earlier in the week, and to read Romans 8:28-39, (and Ephesians 3:14-21) and then come up with a single sentence that summarizes God's love, based on what they learn from these verses.

3rd third - we again came back together as a larger group, revisited the timeline, and talked about the "R's of Redemption" - pointing out the various places on the timeline where the terms seemed best to fit, including: Revelation - Rebellion - Regeneration - Repentance - Redemption - Restoration - Rebuilding - Renewing - Rest - even Remnant, and so forth.

Closed with quote from John Piper's recent blog entry, which was in part our "review" at the beginning of class:

Consider two important truths in Psalm 31:19. "Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!"

1. The goodness of the Lord. There is a peculiar goodness of God. That is, there is not only God’s general goodness that he shows to all people, making his sun rise on the evil and the good (Matthew 5:45), but also a peculiar goodness for “those who fear him.” This goodness is abundant beyond measure. It is boundless. It lasts for ever. It is all-encompassing. There is only goodness for those who fear him. Everything works together for their good. Even their pains are filled with profit (Romans 5:3-5). But those who do not fear him receive a temporary goodness—a goodness that does not lead to repentance, but leads to worse destruction (Romans 2:4).

2. The fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the fear of straying from him. Therefore it expresses itself in taking refuge in God. That’s why two conditions are mentioned in Psalm 31:19—fearing the Lord and taking refuge in him. They seem to be opposites. Fear seems to drive away and taking refuge seems to draw in. But when we see that this fear is a fear of not being drawn in, then they work together. There is a real trembling for the saints. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). But it is the trembling one feels in the arms of a Father who has just plucked his child from the undertow of the ocean.