Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Week 4: Hebrews 4:14*-16

{Therefore, since we have a high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet is without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" Hebrews 4:14-16}

Our assignment for this week as Hebrews 4:15-16 ..but because I had a bit of a hard time with the context, I added vs 14 for my own study time. I feel like it was necessary to take in the full meaning of the passage ..though I cant say I am totally confident that I understand every level of this wonderful verse. 

Taken by itself, I feel like the words are a wonderful affirmation of God's provision and willingness to draw us near to Him. The concept is simple and a powerful statement of the blessings we have in Christ. 

The context of the entire chapter is throwing me off a bit, though...not that the passage doesnt mean the same thing, but does it have an even great meaning by looking at it in the bigger picture?

I had a hard time seeing this section fit into the previous chapters or verse preceding it. Which, if you arent looking hard you may be tempted to not do. Part of that is because the NIV starts a new section heading with vs 14. It seems based on the division, that it is the intro to the section on holy priesthood ..which it certainly makes way for. 

But, its that little "therefore" in vs 14 that made me look a bit more  ..."Therefore" implies that it is there was an argument previous to this concluding point. It says, "now, having said ALL that.." It says, "here is the take away" 

After looking for the reason for that "therefore" I found myself a little like the minion on Despicable Me ..."whaaat?"  :)

Thankfully, I was with my scholar daddy at the time, and he helped me find it - and I feel like it has helped me appreciate these promises even more. ..

The "therefore" concepts start at the beginning of the book, but especially in chapter 3 - the Hebrew writer is talking about Israel (this book, dont forget is written for the Christian Jews) and their issues with unbelief. He uses the mistakes of their ancestors, who struggled with believing in God's promises and how they faltered constantly. Their lack of belief lead them to missing out on one of God's most precious of promises for them, and now us ..that we would "enter His rest". Their lack of obedience and commitment lead them, instead to a lack of "rest" in God. 

He encourages the Hebrew Christians, then to "..hold on to your courage and hope for which we boast" 3:6 and then "hold firmly til the end the confidence we had at first." 3:14 ..He reminds them that the rest that their forefathers denied themselves is still available through our obedience in Christ.  He warns them against disobedience, and even provides for them the way to know what God expects of them now..."For the word of God is living an active. Sharper than any two edged sword..." 4:12

Then, he brings it all back around by again admonishing them to,  "Therefore, since we have a high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess (because those before you DID NOT)"  4:14 ...because of this faith, you have the confidence and boldness to approach the throne of grace, with mercy. 

The "therefore" , implies that by doing this, they are able to enter into God's rest that their fathers before them forfeited. We can be at rest, when we confidently approach Him. We are at peace, because of the faith we profess and the grace that empowers us. 

Doesnt that make you feel more at rest already? :)

If you would be interested in joining a group of godly women on this journey through the bible this summer, please see the sidebar for a full explanation and all that you need to get started! :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Week 3: Ephesians 2:8-10

{For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and its not from yourselves. It is a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV}

For me, this has been a timely verse to study.  Mainly, because I believe that God has revealed some 'good works' that he has prepared for me to do ..and I MUST remember how works are simply a part of the plan that He has already set in motion when He covered me with grace.

I have nothing to boast about ..indeed! ..the work is only through the faith in Christ that I have chosen, that I have been given grace that has moved me to doing these good things. These good things are nothing without God's grace. 

I am so amazed with the active nature of this 'grace' we are learning about! 

How inspiring to consider how our faith in Christ leads us to the blessing of grace, which then leads us to a life of good works created for us by our Father! ..it resounds so beautifully with the 'power' of grace we learned about in 2 Corinthians and the 'teaching' we learned about in Titus!  Through faith, we have grace that gives us power (2 Cor 12:8-10) to say 'no' to ungodliness (Titus 2:11-13), and frees us up to do the good works he has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:8-10)! ..what a wonderful order of things!

If you would like to join about 100 women (not quite, but we are close) on a study of these wonderful words of God, please join us at Women of Grace, Hope, Peace and Faith on Facebook. We have already learned SO much, and would love to benefit from your insight as well!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week 2: Titus 2:11-13

{"For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ will be revealed." Titus 2:11-13, NLT}

Having had such a wonderful week last week of study in 2 Corinthians, I was near giddy to get to start on a new scripture this week for our Women of Grace, Hope, Peace and Faith bible study!

This one, though feels a little more difficult on the toes!

The wording in this scripture is so proactive, so "get out there and do it!".  Last week, we were encouraged to allow our weakness to be overwhelmed with the POWER of grace. This week, grace  is TEACHING us (NIV), INSTRUCTING us to actively bring to life our convictions in the form of rejection of ungodliness.

I love the common sense ...salvation is for everyone (including me!), so you turn away from ungodly things, replacing those with things of God, all the while waiting for salvation to have its pay off with His return! Very simple ..sorta.

Its HARD simple, but simple.

This week, my prayer for me is that I am instructed through grace to recognize the ungodliness around me, so that I am aware of those times when I am called to "turn from" those things. I must fully rely on that power of grace that he promised in 2 Corinthians 12 ("my power is made perfect in weakness" vs.9), because living in this world in" righteousness" isnt that easy of a job!

I pray the same for you, as you live in this "evil world."

Are you convicted by certain ungodliness in your life? ...if you are, then allow this place to be a place where you assert your resolve to live a righteousness life while you "look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ will be revealed!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

True Study for Kids ..#2

After a little inspiration yesterday from Heather, I created a scripture worksheet that will work well for my little man...I am really excited to work on this with my eldest!

Children's Scripture Worksheet

This one is for elementary ages, for children who are reading and writing well.

My friend Heather has another great one for the same age, but covering a greater range from preK-3rd grade because she has added a drawing element. I think this is a GREAT idea, and perfect for those little kinesthetic learners.

Scripture Memory pK-2nd Grade

These are some great ways to help our children learn to truly study God's Word, and apply it to their lives!

It WORKS FOR US ..to teach our little ones that these words are a "light unto {their} path" Ps 119:105

True Study for Kids

If you have been part of our Women of Grace, Hope, Peace and Faith study thus far (we arent even a full week in!) but already God is using His own words to inspire a deeper understanding of His grace!

Using the worksheet you can find here we have worked together to delve into 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 this week.  I have found this method of study to be wonderfully simple, but powerfully effective in meditating on God's word.

One of our WoG members (and a dear friend) sees potential in using this method with her children! She has shared with me an adaptation of our worksheet for her older elementary children. I absolutely LOVE it..I know you will too.

She is working on an ones for her younger elementary and preschool age children as well, so stay tuned for those. I wanted to go ahead and share this though, because I know you are going to want to get started right away!

Thanks so much, Heather for sharing!

Scripture Memory for Kids

Monday, May 9, 2011

A State of Weakness

{"Three different times I begged the Lord to take (my thorn) away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now, I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, I am strong." 2 Cor 12:8-10}

As the Women of Grace are studying this verse,  I have been particularly thoughtful about the idea of "weakness".

I have always read that verse to mean a 'weakness' in terms of a character flaw, or a temptation we struggle with. A friend posed the question,  if God is made more powerful in our weakness then does that we mean that we are not to attempt to fix those areas of weakness?

It has lead me down a path of thought and a conclusion that I find very comforting and that fits so well with a number of personal situations where God's power is needed ...

One thing that I am doing alot of with this method of study, is that I am defining alot of words. I have learned a TON in the process! In this passage I looked up the meaning of "weakness" and found that it means, "a lack of strength."

That certainly applies to character flaws, but the meaning is much bigger than that!  Consider that 'weakness' in this passage may be referring to state of "lacking in strength".  A state where you are less than capable, where your strength is less than is needed for the task at hand. Consider that it applies to any situation where you find yourself at a loss for resources, where you have given what you can and it is beyond your ability to manage.

I especially am drawn to the last portion of this scripture ..."That is why I take pleasure in insults, in hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ." vs.10   ..all of these are things that beyond ones ability to control. Can you relate to any of them?

Also, look at the verse previous to our focus passage ..."So to keep me from being proud I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep from being proud." vs. 7  ..hear the lack of ability to have impact on his situation?

Then, in vs 8 he demonstrates his lack of control when he states "three times I begged the Lord to take it away."

Many have taken it as a task to determine what 'thorn' Paul was referring to. There are suggestions of physical limitations, deformities, and various character weaknesses. One woman on our WoG Facebook group suggested that "since he considered himself the chiefest of sinners, perhaps his "thorn" was the struggle to forgive himself."  Any, or all of these may place Paul, or us, in a state of "lacking in strength"!

Are you in a state of weakness? ...are you lacking in strength in any particular area?

*Perhaps you struggle with an addiction that you simply do not have the strength to overcome.
*Perhaps you are the victim of someone's misunderstanding, lack of forgiveness, lack of love, or of their sin.
*Perhaps you are in a situation that you have done all you can to restore a relationship and forgiveness is still withheld, or simply cannot be resolved.
*Perhaps your body is struggling with an illness, and you simply do not have the strength required to fight it.
*Perhaps your marriage is lost beyond your ability to restore, the hurt is too great.
*Perhaps you have less than you need in the area of finances and you are unable to provide for it
*Perhaps you struggle constantly with the same sin, over and over again and you keep ending up back in the same place over and over again
*Perhaps your default settings are simply too much for you to fight.
*Perhaps you are a victim of natures' fury over the last few weeks, and you have lost everything physical. 

Perhaps you are weary, tired, out of strength...

You are weak.

In this state of weakness, this state of "lacking in strength" you find yourself in the arms of a God who has all the strength you need.  He has all you need. His grace is sufficient for you. In this state He is made the most powerful because we resist the least. We allow the most. We give over the best.

Here, in this state of total loss we see where God stands in contrast in all His fullness.

And, so we rejoice! We "take pleasure in the hardships, insults, persecutions and troubles..."  Because, when we are weak, then He is strong ..and He in us makes US strong!

"When I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:10

Friday, May 6, 2011

Women of Grace: 2 Cor 12:8-10

Our focus scripture of the week is 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 ...

{Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.'  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, that I am strong.}

As I start this week's study I am struck with how much there is here!  So many different ideas to ponder, and so many thoughts that are swimming around in my head ....what are my weaknesses? what is the power of Christ ...is it His Spirit, or His grace ..or both? Do I rejoice only in the insults, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer FOR Christ..or all of them? 

Overall, I feel a general sense of wellness and peace when I realize, I dont have to be perfect for God to work in me. In fact, the less perfect I am the better God can work in me!
One way of looking at the overarching idea of this verse is from the perspective of a nurse who cares for patients on a ventilator ...

My patients often require the assistance of ventilator, a breathing machine. It does the work that the body is not able to do. It steps in where a patient is weak (define: lacking in strength).  It is a strong machine, able to do the work the body is supposed to do for itself. A ventilator can keep a person who has NO brain function alive for an extended/indefinite amount of time. It does the work of the lungs, providing oxygen to the entire body, often being the only reason a person is able to survive.

Its effectiveness, though is dependent on the allowance of the patient to let it work.  Truly, the weaker the patient is, the less able to resist they are, the more effective the vent is.  Patients who constantly fight the work of the vent find themselves in a miserable experience and when the two forces (person and the vent) oppose each other the effectiveness is greatly diminished.  

In order for the power of the vent to be realized, the patient has to (voluntarily or not) totally submit to the work the machine has to do. They have to submit, or we have to help them submit through use of sedation ...becuase unless they stop fighting, they will not breath effectively. 

I see the correlation between the work that God does in us, and the work that a ventilator does to keep a person alive. It is powerful work! ..without it, we would die.  With it, we can live indefinitely. The more resist, the less power is used to that end. The weaker we are, the greater the work and effectiveness of this Life line. 

I pray that God speaks to you through this scripture this week ...when He does I would love for you to share. You can share here, on the LPLS Facebook page, or the Women of Grace, Hope, Peace and Faith Facebook group.    I hope you will!  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Women of Grace ..true study

The "Discovery" method of study is a way of exploring, and truly studying a section of scripture.  This summer, as we are looking to TRULY study God's Word, one possible tool is the attached worksheet that is based on this method.

According to Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline, he says that to truly study a given thing we need to repeat, concentrate, comprehend and reflect. We study God's word because when you study something, your thoughts naturally gravitate towards your topic of study ..and we want our thoughts to be pure, lovely, praiseworthy and true.

The worksheet is very easy to fill out ...but is best done thoughtfully, over time and to add to it over the week. Foster says that aside from studying the material itself, that when we study we identify with the topic through observation, experience, supplementation and discussion...We girls are REALLY good at discussion!

We will going through a series of verses this summer on the topic of grace, hope, faith and peace. The women I worship with and I will be meeting to discuss these things in person once a week. Of course, we cant all do that but along with them but we will be doing alot of discussion here throughout the summer, and your insight would be a blessing!

Also, a group of godly women will be meeting together via a Facebook group ...Women of Grace, Hope, Peace and Faith (please note that any discussion there that is not encouraging and uplifting will be removed)...we would LOVE to have you there!

The "Discovery"  idea is basic and easy to remember, whether you have the worksheet or not. For our purposes we will be using a series of columns (think, a piece of paper turned landscape) that will help us explore these passages. Just remember:  WRITE, REWRITE, SO WHAT and WHAT ELSE?

WRITE the verse ..first column, write it out. Write it in different versions, write it word for word. Write it index cards and put it everywhere ...in the car, on the mirror, above the kitchen sink, everywhere!  What about FACEBOOK? ..use your status to write it out then you are REPEATING that verse for your sisters in Christ as well!

REWRITE ...second column, write it again. This time in first person. Use 'me', 'my' and 'i' ...make the verse speak to YOU very specifically.  Then, paraphrase it ...wrap the passage up in one sentence or idea.

SO WHAT ..third column, so what are you going to do about it? After really considering the words that has spoken to YOU ..how does that apply to you? Be general AND specific ..consider what challenges you are now required to make if you believe His words?  What commitments will you make?

WHAT ELSE ..last column, questions/thoughts/references/prayers ...whatever else you feel like you need to continue to study this passage. I enjoy defining words or clarifying ideas here.

The worksheet we will be using is available here ...please feel free to view, print and use this resource to help you in your true STUDY of scripture!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Discipline of Study

{study produces JOY. Like any novice, we will find it hard work in the beginning. But the greater our proficiency the greater our JOY. - Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline}

Do you study? I mean really study?  You may be surprised that you do, even if you are not a big "book person".   Based on the defining characteristics that Foster offers in his explanation of true "study" in Celebration of Discipline..you may be studying any number of things on a regular basis. 

According to him, to study something means that you return to a thought/idea/book/topic over and over again. Study is firstly defined by repetition in a given area. As you repeat an idea to yourself you begin to concentrate on it.  By doing those things you then start to comprehend the topic/idea/words you are studying. To really study you then reflect ..ponder, consider, mull it over, or as my daddy says "put in your hum box."   

What is in your "hum box" ..what are you "studying"? Think about it ...
  •  what ideas, thoughts, blogs, books, shows do you find yourself going to over and over again? What topics do you find yourself "repeating" ....organization, homeschooling, history? Think about what shows you watch ...if you return to the same type of shows, are you okay with the fact that you are "studying" their content? 
  • what do you concentrate on..what do you think about? What directs your thoughts? 
  • what do you feel like you understand? ..do you have a good grasp on organization, teaching small ones, the world news or the way a criminal mind works?
  • Finally ...what do you reflect on ..what do you ponder, consider or really think about on an ongoing basis? 
Studying is a natural thing for most of us, even if we dont realize it!

Foster challenges that "ingrained habits of thought that are formed WILL conform to the order of the thing being studied. WHAT we study determines what kind of habits are formed, which is why Paul urges us to focus on things that are true, just, pure, lovely and gracious."

{"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - think about such things." Phil 4:8}

How important the topic of our true study! 

Starting today, I am blessed to be part of a ladies bible class this summer that focuses all our "study" efforts on God's Word. We will looking at 17 passages from scripture,  on the topics of grace, peace, faith and hope.

I would LOVE for you to join us in that journey! We will be using a method of study that covers all the areas of true study. I will be sharing this method with you over the next few days, in hopes you will have a great tool to truly study these precious truths. 

{"All scripture is inspired by God ..to teach us what is true, to make us realize what is wrong in our lives, it corrects us when we are wrong and it teaches us what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do his good work."  2 Tim 3:16-17 NLT}

{all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  NIV}
Tell me..what do you STUDY?! 
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