Day Nineteen – Opening the Prison Gates
1. From page 194, “What is the single greatest gift that God has bestowed on humankind? There can be no doubt that it is the forgiveness of all our sins in Christ. John MacArthur, Jr., says it well: ‘There would be no salvation, relationship to God, entering into heaven, no usefulness to God, and no relief of guilt, without the forgiveness of sin.’ Further, there would be no indwelling presence, no experience of His comfort and peace without the forgiveness of sin. We would be shattered by the awareness of our own sin without the revelation that we are now complete in Christ.” Respond to this quotation. How do you personally feel about the “single greatest gift?” Ponder it for a few minutes and journal your response.
Right now, God seems to be showing me so many things in my character he wants to change. I am brought to tears each day as I taste of the heartache of my pride. I can’t imagine being any more disappointed…convicted, saddened by all I have to offer. I think it is a bit like Isaiah in chapter 6 of his book where he says “Woe to me. I am a man of unclean lips…” And his guilt was taken away…and he was called to go forth. God’s amazing grace….grace for forgiveness, but grace to turn from sin, too. Grace to press forward in the newness of the forgiveness granted to him.I am so thankful for God’s gift. It gives such depth of meaning to the phrase “He is the lifter of my head.” Without Him lifting my head, I would be “undone!” I am also so thankful that he walks with us, step by step, enabling us by His Spirit.
2. On pages 194 and 195 there is a discussion of confession and repentance. How do you feel about what is taught here? How do you feel about the comments that the “observation” we have been doing is actually confession and the “correction” we have been doing is actually repentance? Compare this to what you have been taught previously about repentance. What does scripture teach leads us to repentance? Is it fear of God lowering the boom? Or something else? What?
God’s kindness leads me to repentance. It seems odd to me that humans can turn even repentance into something we take *pride* in. I am convinced that there is nothing protected from the insidious effects of pride. I want to be diligent not to allow pride to sneak into my worship, my prayer, my journaling, my speaking, my thinking….I know it does. It seems so ridiculous! Where does it come from? I have *nothing* to take pride *in* save Jesus….I don’t get it.
Anyhow, agreeing with God brings freedom. Observing my behavior with His eyes of holiness *and* His eyes of grace causes me to respond more in humility and be *willing* to correct. The same grace that brings salvation teaches us to say NO to ungodliness and wordly passions. (Do I sound like a broken record? God is really writing some things on my heart and on my life…it is painful, but also wonderful!)
4. On page 196 near the bottom, Debra shares her story. How can you identify with what she shares? Can you use her solution? Why? Why not?
I hit an emotional bottom yesterday. God revealed something devastating to me….it so hard. I came up to the house in tears (I had been out with the horses). I went to my room and cried and cried and cried. I can’t ever remember being in such a low, dark, sad place that felt so enveloping when I *didn’t* turn to food or at least think about food….I actually found myself praying, begging God. He has been using music a lot lately to minister to me….what came to my mind was “I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from. My help comes from you, Maker of Heaven, Creator of the earth, oh how I need your love….etc….” It was amazing. It wasn’t until later that I saw what He had done in me…causing a song in my heart to be a prayer to Him. But after that, I ended up doing some exercise time with the Dance Praise program on the computer. Thirty minutes later and I felt much better….This was nothing short of miraculous from where I sit. This wasn’t me. It was Him. It really was. If you know me at all, you know that this isn’t Heidi…nope….It is Christ in me, the hope of glory…I get that now. Because He is doing things in me, there really *is* hope. Not just an “I think I can I think I can pull myself up by the boot straps” sort of hope–but hope that is all about Jesus who shows up and transforms us from glory to glory….wow…Anyhow, I guess God was my means of coping with the pit I fell into yesterday. 🙂 Yay.
6. On page 198 you were encouraged to be very deliberate about forgiving yourself for anything that the Lord laid on your heart. How did this exercise go for you? What thoughts surfaced? What insights did you glean from this exercise?
I will be honest…and I was with Judy when I told her about this…I felt like it was hollow for me. I needed the exercise of forgiving myself or receiving God’s forgiveness for things I had done to be followed with a challenge or a reminder to repent of behaviors that will need me to do this exercise again. Without a turning from destructive behaviors, the forgiveness is somewhat short-lived. I know it was touched on in the chapter, but …well…it is touched on again following, but I think a written exercise about positive things I will do instead in the future. Like if something I needed to forgive myself was slothfulness, then I needed to be challenged “If grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present evil age, then what will you do differently?” or something like that. God asked me these things later, so it was ok, but until I figured out what was missing for me, it was very empty. Maybe because I rushed too much. I would say this was very significant for me.