Tag Archive | Bible study

Wonderstruck – the journey

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A journey is always exciting.  But it comes to an end.

Our Wonderstruck Bible study ended Wednesday with celebration.  We climbed the stairs to the upper room once more to open God’s Word and discover His wonders.  As we reviewed our weeks together, we found that we were living with eyes wide open more now than when the journey started.

Here is a recap of the weeks of our study.

  • The wonder of rest was challenging for us.  We are a busy people with schedules to keep and places to go.  Carving out time and space for rest is not something we are accustomed to.  But it is a wonder God gives us ever week.  Though each of us are in different stages of our lives, from young mothers with small children to widows living alone and all the in-between, we can find a season to refresh.  The fact that our bodies and minds need rest reminds us that we are not gods who can keep going 24/7.  Our Heavenly Father is the One who keeps watch in the night.
  • Prayer is still a mystery to me though I’ve studies it for years.   The chapter on the wonder of prayer gave us a fresh vision of the Lord’s Prayer.  As we examined the prayers of Jesus, I was amazed at His confident words, His brevity at times, and His last prayer before the crucifixion when He prayed for me.  For me!  What a wonder!
  • As we studied the wonder of friendship, I agreed with Margaret Feinberg that friends are Heaven-sent gifts.  We treasure and nurture them, and sometimes we must have The Difficult Conversation in order to repair the friendship and allow it to flourish.
  • I confess that I was convicted during our week’s focus on forgiveness.  As I continue to learn about the wonder of forgiveness, I realized there were still areas that needed my attention.  Amazing how the Holy Spirit will shine His light into the dark areas of our lives to clean out, clear away, and bring His fresh breezes into our hearts.

I always get so much from a Bible study where women (and one brave man) gather to learn, to share, to open their hearts to God and one another.   Relationships are born and friendships are strengthened.  It is melancholy when it is too quickly finished.

Wonderstruck taught us to look for the wonders of God all around us, everyday moments when He reveals Himself, sometimes merely whispering and other times astonishing us with His power.

We have been changed.  We long to behold the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Isn’t He wonderful?

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Just a few of our study partners.

This is my life

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I’m sitting in the waiting room at Bob Montgomery getting the oil changed in the little black Honda while the Today show on the TV keeps me company.  Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb are talking with a physiologist about a new phobia she said is sweeping the planet.  It is called Fear of Missing Out.  FOMO for short.

In this information age, we can look into other people’s lives in a way our parents never thought of.  This I not gossip over the neighborhood fence. Social media is available on demand to investigate everyone’s business literally, at my fingertips.

I see what so-and-so is doing and wonder why I’m not doing that?  Someone bought a new car.  A friend and her family are on vacation, and look at all those fabulous pictures on Facebook.  Another person is headed out of state to see the grandchildren, and wasn’t she just there last month?

I fear that I’m missing out.

FOMO is envy of every other person who is doing something I want to do.

There is so little time and so many options!  And my time is running short.

The result is a bad case of malcontent, of wanting another’s experiences and possessions.

If I dwell on it too long, I risk letting it evolve into jealousy, known to be cruel as the grave.  Because jealousy keeps one from living one’s own life to the fullest.

If I am constantly looking at other people’s lives and comparing theirs to mine, I miss my own present season.  I do not enjoy the gifts God gives to me today.

I think it has something to do with learning contentment.  I’ve been thinking about contentment lately.  Perhaps because I have struggled to really be content.

I’ve said it out loud to myself lately.  “This is my life.”  I say it sometimes with resignation, when I am tired, discouraged, feeling left out of the fray of the action.  It’s a sad case of FOMO.

I need my vision checked.

When I stop looking at “what isn’t”  and the “have nots” and instead turn my focus to the “what is” and the “haves,” I take on a different perspective.

When I count the gifts I see all around me, the grace and mercy stored up for me each morning, I realize I am blessed beyond measure, more than I deserve.

I am queen of Quite-A-Lot.

So I determine to keep my focus turned upward, to look for gifts and grace falling down from above from the Father of lights who gives because He is good.

For the last several Wednesdays, twenty plus women and I have gathered in the upper room at Little Flock Baptist Church to practice.  We are learning to count.  We are doing a small group Bible study together, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The study has challenged us to look for grace, the gifts the Father gives each of us moment by moment.  And then we give thanks, listing them in simple notebooks, counting to one thousand and more.  We are learning that in the counting there is joy.  And as Voskamp asks, who doesn’t want joy?

By counting gifts, I notice the small things, the simple everyday things that I overlook on too many occasions as I am rushing this one life of mine.  Taking notice of all that God has given me, I slow down to enjoy and find I have more than enough and then some, that I am not missing out on a single thing He has planned for me.

This is my life!  God designed and planned it before I was born.  He handpicked my family.  He guides where I liveMy steps and stops are directed by Him.  He purposes my experiences to form and mold me.

I have this one beautiful life to live to my fullest.  It is a gift.  I receive it with open hands, lifting my eyes Heaven-ward to the Giver of all good gifts.

Counting to one thousand and more . . .

. . . chicken pot pie with Sweet William and a dear friend

. . . red cardinals at the feeder on a grey day

. . . hot coffee

. . . geese on winter pond

Are you counting with me?  I’d love to know and hear about your list.

Passover, the hour has come

Several times in Scripture it says of Jesus that His “hour had not yet come.”  But on this night, His night of Passover, John 13: 1 records, ” . . . Jesus knew that the hour had come . . .”  For this hour He came into the world.   

Jesus and His disciples met together for a final Passover feast.  He knew all things. He knew these men.  He knew their weaknesses.  He knew the betrayal that lay dormant in their hearts.  And yet, he said to them, “I call you my friends.”

I tremble at the thought that Jesus knows my heart also, knows my weakness, knows the things that lay dormant within me.  And yet He has called me into fellowship with Him.  I will never understand how someone Who knows me so well, loves me so much.

At the Passover meal, the participants would drink four cups, four times the fruit of the vine would be lifted.  And each one was significant and was given a specific title.  Exodus 6:6 and 7 provide insight.

” Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

  • The first – Cup of Sanctification – “I will bring you out . . . “
  • The second – Cup of Deliverance – “I will deliver you . . . “
  • The third – Cup of Redemption – “I will redeem you . . . “
  • The fourth – Cup of Completion – “I will take you to be my people  . . . “

At the first cup of Sanctification, the dinner guests would remember that they had been called out by God.  They were a chosen people through whom God would reveal Himself.

The second cup of Deliverance provided the retelling of their deliverance from Egypt and all of the plagues brought about by God’s hand.

Just before it was time for the third cup, the Cup of Redemption, Jesus took unleavened bread, blessed and broke it, and gave to the disciples saying, “Take, eat; this my My body.”

Now it was time for the Cup of Redemption, and Jesus “. . .  took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.   And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many,” (Mark 14:23-24).

The last and final cup was the Cup of Completion.  Scripture does not mention this group of men drinking any more at the table.  But recall the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.  “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis mine).

I suggest that the fourth cup was “drunk” by Jesus on the cross.  It completed God’s plan for salvation.  Jesus cried with a loud voice,  “It is finished,” and the work was completed.  The fourth cup, the Cup of Completion was accomplished in the death of Jesus.  It made possible our friendship with a holy God.  Now we may come into His presence clothed in the righteousness of the sinless Christ.

Passover is more than a Jewish celebration or day of feasting.  It is a picture of God’s plan for salvation – for all those who will receive it.

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!” (Ephesians 1:4-8, The Message)

Amen and hallelujah!

It was a good day

When I got up this morning, while it was still dark, I saw a sliver of the moon in the pre-dawn sky with a star-like planet glowing close beside it. It was the start of a good Saturday.

I anticipated the “No Other Gods Bible study women” coming to our house at 8:30. After my own quiet time and coffee, I showered, dressed, and made muffins and a fresh pot of coffee. I peeked my head out the door and saw the sun shining and felt its warmth, a welcome relief after so much cold and snow.

The women came bringing their smiles and their Bibles. We shared a sweet time of fellowship and what we had learned during our week of study. There were some tender moments, some “yes, I know what you mean” moments, and some prayerful moments.

After the ladies left, Sweet William and I went to pick up my little black car and found that Bob Montgomery Honda is true to their word in giving good service. We were satisfied. Since I was only a hop, skip, and a jump away from my Dad’s house, we stopped for a short visit. He and Esther were glad we had come.

Afterward, Bill and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, China Garden, for lunch. It has been a special place for us since we were first married.

I got a chance to go to the Dollar Tree, a place that has a little of everything and where I could spend a lot more than a dollar if I let myself.

I managed to resist going by a thrift store, my personal addiction, because I really don’t need anything and I’m trying to save money instead of spend it.

When I got home, the day had turned so beautiful that I opened my kitchen window for some fresh air as I typed at the computer.

Daylight was fading but I still had time for a walk. I took our Maltese along, who has become a chubby buddy through the winter. Let’s don’t talk about his owner’s weight.

I donned my walking shoes and grabbed Buddy’s leash. It felt good to be out moving. As I passed a neighbor’s house, I watched the mourning doves doing some sort of dance in the air. A dozen or so of them twittered as they flew from one tree to another, from one yard to another. I wondered if they were enjoying this day like I was.

On the walk back to my house, a flock of Canadian geese flew overhead, honking at me below.

After a good stretch, I was happy to have made it almost two laps of my lane. Supper and a movie finished me off for the day. My snugly warm PJ’s feel good now.

My grandson, Ethan, has a standard phrase with which he starts his bedtime prayers when he spends the night. Tonight I’d like to echo them.

It’s been a good day.    

 

 

Please leave a comment and tell me about your day.

A fresh word

 

This is my first week of the new Bible study, No Other Gods, by Kelly Minter.  I admire this young woman who writes Bible studies and is wise beyond her young years.

Today, as I was reading a verse from the study, I had an epiphany.  I know I have read 2 Corinthians many times. Why is this verse is not highlighted, circled or in some way marked as choice tidings like so many other verses in my Bible?  But it wasn’t. It lay there on the page as a fresh Word to be discovered and assimilated.  Perhaps it struck a resonating chord today because of the conversation I had last night with two sweet young friends.

After Little Flock Celebration Choir practice last night, two young women came into my office where I was gathering my coat and bag. They came just to chat with me.  I can’t began to tell you on paper, I mean on computer screen, how very dear these young friends are to me.  At my grandmotherly age, having young women who want to hang around and talk is a treasure I hold close to my heart.

As women will do, we talked here and there and everywhere.  It was one of those conversations that would be hard to keep up with unless you possess the xx chromosomes of femininity.  (Please guys, don’t take offense.  It’s just the way we girls are made.)

The conversation turned to trials and troubles, our own and those of others.  We all have them.  Problems are no respecter of persons or age categories. And we wondered why they come and must be endured?

Don’t you wonder why sometimes?  I certainly have wondered and questioned and felt the frustration of not getting the answer.  I’ve had to settle with knowing my God has His reasons and that one day, in a place far better than I am now, He will explain, or either I will be so overwhelmed and delighted in His presence that I won’t even care to know anymore.

And so I wake this morning to find a nugget of gold in my Bible study.  Second Corinthians 1:9 records Paul’s counsel to the church and to me, and perhaps to you.  Under inspiration from God, he wrote:

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God  who rasies the dead.” (NIV, emphasis mine)

An answer to my question has been right there all the time.

I can attest to and confess that I have tried relying on myself quite a number of times, only to realize I was not up to the task.  When I turned to my Father, after attempting and failing, I found He was more than able and His grace quite sufficient.

I am encouraged this morning by the words of a loving God who cares about my quandaries.  He spoke directly into my heart today. I won’t say much more except to give one more companion verse I found while looking for the other one.  I looked in First Corinthians 1:9 before I realized I was in the wrong book.  It is equally good, and for me, follows on the heals of the other one.  It says:

God, Who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”

Faithful! Oh that word conjures up memories of His faithfulness to me in the past, time after time after time.

Wow, I just want to shout “glory” this morning!  There is a purpose in my trials and troubles.  He has not left me alone to struggle by myself.  He has called me into fellowship with Jesus.  And He is the faithful God who will do what He has promised.

I am filled up with courage today. I hope you are too.

 

Please leave a comment.

Tell me how God has been faithful to you in your trials. I want to rejoice with you.

Left to wait

 I learned something not long ago. Actually it was revealing. Let me tell you about it.

I waited for someone the other day. I made an appointment, called and confirmed the time and place. Normally, when I know I may have to wait for any length of time, I bring a magazine or book so I am not “wasting time.”

But this day, I didn’t think to bring anything with me.   So there I sat at McDonald’s on Blue Lick Road, drinking coffee while watching and waiting for her. But she didn’t show up, nor did she call to tell me why.  I was disappointed, hurt, frustrated.

Here is the revealing part. I thought of how many times I had left my Lord waiting for me – the One who redeemed me from my debt of sin, paid the ultimate price for my soul, and offered me His friendship. Many times, I made plans to meet Him, then I let something else get in the way, or simply forgot.  I have canceled too many appointments or put other things first.

Other things. How many times have I let other things get between God and me?

I have just started a Bible study by Kelly Minter (remember her from the Ruth study?). The title is No Other Gods.  Today’s study got me to thinking about any functional gods I have let become too important in my life.

What other things could be more important than my relationship with Jesus? The way that relationship deepens and grows is by spending time with him.

David said, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longs for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is . . .” (Psalm 63:1)

The priority of keeping my early morning appointments with my Savior and Lord cannot be stressed enough. Especially as I  consider the incredible thought that He looks forward to meeting with me.  I do not want to disappoint Him again.

 

Please leave a comment.  I enjoy getting to know you when you put your thoughts into words.

A gentle reminder

 

This week I randomly picked the book of Ephesians to read at my early morning quiet time.  

When I’m not in a group Bible study with a particular passage to survey, I am free to go where the Spirit leads. I came to a halt at verse 12 of chapter 1. This is how it read in my Amplified Bible:

So that we who first hoped in Christ – who first put our confidence in Him – have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of His glory.” (emphasis mine)

I was struck down by those words and began to meditate on them. Right there at that very verse, I had penciled in a date, 1-23-10, almost exactly a year from this day.

Hum, the same book of the Bible and the same verse captured my thoughts in January. Something is up. I wanted to go back to last year’s journal writing and see what was going on with me then.

Sure enough, on January 23, 2010, I had recorded my thoughts. Here is a portion of what I wrote:

What would it look like if I lived out my daily activity for the praise of His glory?

I’m stumped and stymied by that heart question this early morning. I try to be pleasant and put on my best face and behavior at work and with my piano students. My work and performance evaluation reflect my attitude for sure, and I want a good reflection. Even one of my goals is to ‘leave them smiling’ whether that’s a checkout person at Kroger or the optical assistant at Lens Crafters. What if I did that in the deeply intimate confines of my home – with Bill each day? What if I determined to leave him smiling each morning and came home with my most cheerfulness each evening. What if he so looked forward to my home-coming because I reflected the joy of the Lord within me?”

It would seem that I am still a work in progress; otherwise why would the Holy Spirit bring me back around to that mountain again?

I must confess there are long days at work, and I come home weary and worn out. I’ve given the best I have to other people. Sometimes when I come home, I’m just given out. I’m not sure that is a good enough excuse to allow me to grump and grumble as soon as I walk into my home.

Home should be a refuge, a safe place, a sanctuary for Sweet William and me. Admittedly, sometimes it’s a tilt-a-whirl and a roller coaster.  

So once again in January 2011, I pray a prayer from last year.

Oh, Father, I pray for a Son-shiny day in my heart today. I can determine all I want to, but unless Your strength is exerted in me, I am helpless and hopeless. I am asking for bread this morning, not candy or frivolous stuff. Bread that gives strength and nourishes my very soul. Bread that only You can supply. Bread that will make my inner woman strong and able to live a life pleasing to You all day long.”

And I add one last request this Janaury 2011.

Let me live for the praise of Your glory!