I want to let you know that this study was placed on my heart yesterday morning during the message from my Pastor. I was particularly struck by the correlation between his message, based on Revelation 2 & 3, and the picture and devotion that I shared before church yesterday.
In case you missed the devotion…I will post it again here.
“Reaping What You Sow (Matthew 13:1–9)
In this haunting parable, Jesus depicts four different groups of people exposed to the Word of God. First come the insensitive. They hear the Word, but it does not speak to them interiorly. The unseen world does not exist for the thinking man. The tales of the Bible are nice for children but not for mature adults. Faith is an outdated conception for those behind the times, a relic of the Middle Ages. After all, you can’t pay the rent with religion . . .
Next, Jesus describes the superficial.
These are the open people—too much so. They are ready to receive everything, but nothing takes root. You meet them at every level of the church’s life, exponents of change for the sake of change. Ardent champions of renewal and reform with a lusty contempt for anything written before 1963. These are the butterfly types who sip on a thousand different blossom cups . . .
The third group are the defeated. They may have fought long and struggled honorably for their faith. They had principles they wanted to live by. A Christian ethic was presumed, a week without worship unthinkable. Their high ideals, however, ran into competition from “the real world.” Love of God got swallowed up in mundane concerns. The thorny preoccupations are many—career, romance, military induction, geographical displacement, progeny, security . . .
Finally, Jesus speaks of the victorious—the seeds that fell on rich soil. But even here Jesus distinguishes three levels of productivity for the kingdom, three different degrees of faith commitment among genuine hearers of the Word of God.
Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible”
Our church is having a Revival beginning next Sunday and our pastor is preparing us for personal revival within each member of the congregation, as well as the church as a whole. I know that I personally need a revival within me and that I need to work on my relationship with God and others.
There are hindrances to personal revival and he named four…
1. Uncontrolled anger
I know that I am guilty of harboring each of these sins in my heart and that is unacceptable to God. God finds all sin an abomination!
I MUST repent…truly repent and turn from these sins!!!
You will find that the word “repent” is used many times in the messages to the 7 churches…well to at least 5 of those 7. So, if you have not read Revelation 2:1-7, do that now, and then look over the questions, below the scriptures, and answer them as you go along.
I am looking for personal revival, how about you?
To the Church in Ephesus
2 “To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
1. Each letter is addressed to “the angel…” (2:1a). Who is this? Why do you believe this to be true? Who is “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand” and “walks among the seven golden lampstands?” What are the seven stars and seven golden lampstands (2:1b, see 1:20)?
2. What did the church in Ephesus have going for it (2:2-3)? What did Jesus have against them (2:4)? Summarize these strengths and weaknesses in your own words.
3. Why does Jesus use three similar words (“deeds,” “toil,” and “perseverance”) to describe the Ephesian church (2:2a)? What else does He say about this church (2:2b)? How does 2:3 relate back to 2:2?
4. What does it mean to abandon your “first love” (2:4)? Is it hard to keep your first love for God? What causes you to lose your first love? What was it like in the early days of your relationship with Christ? At what point in your life were you most excited about Christ? What were the specific outside influences that contributed to you living a life on fire for Christ? What decisions did you make that resulted in you feeling on fire for Christ?
5. How does the metaphor of a couple’s first love for one another relate to our first love for Christ? Why does the “first love” tend to grow cold? If we do the things we did in the early days or our courtship, will we come to feel as we initially felt? Do feelings follow behavior, or the other way around? If we did the things we did in the early days of our relationship with Christ, will we come to feel the way we felt at first? Again, do feelings follow actions or the other way around? Is this first-love issue primarily an issue of feelings or behavior? Is Jesus concerned with our behavior, or how we feel about Him?
6. Is living a life on fire for Christ largely within our control? Is being on fire for Christ something that God or someone else does to us? How do we stay on fire for Christ? How can we help each other stay on fire for Christ?
7. What did Jesus ask the Ephesians to do about this first love problem (2:5a)? What would happen if the Ephesian church didn’t follow Jesus’ counsel (2:5b)? Is this verse a threat to the doctrine of eternal security (“once saved, always saved”)? If not, what is this verse teaching? Does God punish Christians? Why or why not?
8. Who are the “Nicolaitians” (2:6)? What deeds did they commit that were worthy of hatred? What group or teaching could serve as a contemporary parallel?
9. Each of the seven letters closes in the same way: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” What is being said here? Why is this so important as to bear repeating?
10. How will you ensure that you will be one who “overcomes” (2:7b; cf. 2:25-26a)?
11. If Jesus was writing to our church, what positive qualities might He commend us for? What do you think He might scold us for? On the whole, what kind of grade do you think our church would get? What is the most glaring need for improvement in our church? What can you do to be a part of the solution?
I did not sit in front of my television last night and watch the full Bruce Jenner interview, but I have watched short videos of his interview with Diane Sawyer, and I am struck by these words, “I am living MY truth!”
Therein lies his problem!!!
AND it’s not just his problem, it’s my problem, it’s your problem…it’s the world’s problem!!!!!!
We allow the world to define how we should live our life. We become our God!
The “I am” statements that come out of our mouths are all about me, Me, ME!!!!! Jesus is no longer “I am” in our lives, when we allow ourselves to follow a “truth” that IS NOT biblically sound!!!
Bruce Jenner went on television last night and mocked God! God will not be mocked!
Each of us has our own cross to bear, our own individual sins to overcome! Giving into those sinful desires is not brave, it is cowardly and it is no longer trusting in God’s strength to see us through.
We have to fight the battle, we have to persevere!!! We cannot give in to living in this world by our personal definition of truth.
Jesus is the only way! Jesus is the only truth! Jesus IS LIFE!
I will be praying for Bruce that he begins living his life in God’s truth and not his own.
Very well written article and it contains truth that should set many people free from those chains that they are allowing to bind them! True freedom from all addictions is only found in living your life with Christ!
It has been just over one month since I have been to church; 5 weeks to be exact! I have been struggling for quite some time with the dynamics of the church we have been attending over the past five years. I guess I felt a loyalty to them, since they provided me with sanctuary and the blocks that I needed to build back up my relationship with God, after being so far from Him for so long.
When I first walked through the doors back in September of 2009, Faith Church was at the beginning of a membership explosion. They were still relatively small in comparison to the number of members who attend today, and I think they have just grown too big for me and my family.
It’s funny, but right about the time that I began having my doubts, my grandchildren, who attend with us, also became disinterested in attending the children’s services that they had loved so much. Over the past five weeks I have been walking around like the lost soul, I once was; worrying over so many things and, lacking focus and direction.
I know that I should have shared this burden with all of you sooner, but my pride got in my way. About 2 weeks ago, I felt God pushing me to look for a church and so I began researching churches in our area…I had a list of criteria that I wanted in a church. A church whose doctrinal views are in align with the Bible, a church that is financially transparent, a church that has a Saturday evening service time, contemporary worship, and a strong youth and children’s program.
I didn’t think that I was asking for much, but it was pretty difficult to find a church that covered all our wants, it seemed that compromise was going to be needed or maybe the word is concession. One church stood out to me! Great location, and it met almost all of the other requirements, except the service time. We made the decision to attend this weekend and the grandchildren were willing to try it out too, another one of my worries alleviated…I was concerned that they were no longer interested in church.
We were welcomed with open arms ready to give us a hug and tour of the church. We had our own personal guide, who walked us and the grandkids through every step of the way. The kids were nervous, but our guide was able to introduce them to children their age and we were able to leave them happy and ready to worship. They even placed their Bibles on the front row, to save their place for Children’s Church.
Peter and I enjoyed the worship team and the sermon from the Pastor, it was one that I really needed to hear. I will share about the message in another post this week. All in all this was a positive experience for my husband and I. The seal on the deal or the whipped cream on our sundae, was the reaction we received from our youngest grandchildren…Avery and Joshua LOVED their service! They were so excited to share the message from their service with us and I am thrilled for them.
I believe that we have found our new church and I am looking forward to this next phase of this journey with and His will for our lives. Would you please pray for our family as we seek God’s will for us?
I am going to finally share my reflections on Delilah in our Women of the Bible Study and here is the link to the Bible reading….
The reading in the book is found here…
It has been three weeks since I worked on or read the pages in the Women of the Bible study, I have allowed myself to lose focus. I have been concentrating on exercise and healthy eating more than anything else and the last week has proven to me how far I have strayed in the wrong direction. Not that my health is not important, it is, but it should not come first in my life…that is God’s position!!
Much like Samson in today’s story I have allowed other things become more important to me than spending time with God, reading my Bible and praying. My days, lately, have been a series of difficulties that, at times, have overwhelmed me just like the Philistines were able to overwhelm Samson. I know it is because I have let time with God take a backseat in my life, when He should be the navigator of my journey.
Samson knew what was expected of him by God and he still broke all of them. But God did not abandon him or forsake him, when Samson called upon the Lord…the Lord became his strength again.
Delilah proves that God will use evil to bring about something good in our life. I loved this paragraph from today’s reading and will be focusing on it many times during the week. I might just print it off and tape it on my mirror as a reminder for me…I don’t want to get off track like this again!
“If anything, Delilah’s role in this sordid tale assures us that God will use anything and anyone to accomplish his purpose. Even our sin. Even our enemies. Our deliverance is purely a matter of grace. But how much better if we become people set apart for his service, whose inner strengths match our outer strengths, enabling us to live out our destiny assured of God’s pleasure.”
11 “Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.
12 When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14 And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15 And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot.16 And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.
17 But Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18 And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 And he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him.20 And he said to her, “Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’” 21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died. 22 And behold, as Barak was pursuing Sisera, Jael went out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went in to her tent, and there lay Sisera dead, with the tent peg in his temple.”
“Lord, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled
and the heavens dropped,
yes, the clouds dropped water.
5 The mountains quaked before the Lord,
even Sinai before the Lord, the God of Israel.”
24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
25 He asked for water and she gave him milk;
she brought him curds in a noble’s bowl.
26 She sent her hand to the tent peg
and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet;
she struck Sisera;
she crushed his head;
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 Between her feet
he sank, he fell, he lay still;
between her feet
he sank, he fell;
where he sank,
there he fell—dead.
I put this post together last Wednesday and never posted the draft version to my blog. Today is Monday, May 12th and I opened my emails to read a few devotions, after reading this weeks assignment on Delilah, and found that God still has something for me to learn about Jael.
|Monday May 12, 2014|
|Most blessed among women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. May she be blessed above all women who live in tents.|
|Judges 5:24, NLT|
|Wars often invade homes, and battles are usually fought in someone’s backyard. The differences between soldiers and civilians are not always clear. Allegiances shift. Sometimes people in the same family choose opposite sides of a war to support. When Israel declared war with Canaan, Heber the Kenite, a descendant of Moses’ father-in-law, was on “friendly terms” (Judges 4:17) with the Canaanites. But apparently his wife Jael wasn’t so sure.
During the decisive battle of the war, Sisera, the Canaanite commander, abandoned his post and fled for his life. He sought refuge in Heber’s camp, and Jael invited him into her tent. He let down his guard and went to sleep, trusting Jael to keep watch. Instead, she drove a tent peg through his temple and killed him. When Barak, the leader of Israel’s forces, came looking for Sisera, Jael presented him with the body.
Jael’s actions were probably not premeditated. She could not have known beforehand that Sisera would run to their camp. She was faced with a terrible dilemma–Sisera and his army were supposed to be her protectors, not the reverse. Sisera’s presence put her family at risk. Killing Sisera was probably the best plan she could think of to ensure the safety of her people from the conquering forces of Israel. If so, the plan worked, because Deborah commemorated Jael’s action as a hero, ridding Israel of a ruthless oppressor.
The Bible includes Jael’s story as an illustration of one way God accomplishes his will even when the primary actors don’t cooperate. Barak hesitated in trusting God, and therefore his triumph was partial (Judges 4:9). When we fail to obey, others are sometimes placed in harm’s way. Jael serves as an example of desperate courage, but the central lesson in these events is the need for decisive trust in God. Others may not follow through with their duties and roles before God. They can’t be our excuse. We must respond as well as we can to the opportunities God places before us.
1. What was God’s role in these events?
God orchestrated and ordained these events. These things happened in order for God to fulfill His promise to His people.
2. Use three adjectives to describe Jael before she kills Sisera. Pretend you don’t know what she is going to do and describe her just from 4:17-20.
3. Why do you think Jael did what she did? Do you see her as brave, treacherous, fearful, desperate? How much do you think her life experience in a brutal culture had to do with it?
4. Why do you think Deborah praised her for such a savage deed?
5. What do you think God wants you to take from the story of Deborah, Barak, and Jael, and all of the death woven within it?
As I sat this morning reading the Tuesday assignment in my book, I was stumped about how to reflect upon the direction our authors were taking in this study. They were giving a history lesson on the vessel that Jael used to give Sisera a drink of milk.
The link below discusses the problems with wineskins…
I more I thought about these wineskin bottles the more I felt that my focus needed to be on this verse that was referenced, both in the Tuesday reading and in the link above.
17 “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17
As I shared with you all yesterday, I am working on living healthier and it all starts with a new attitude. I am not going to succeed in this commitment I have made if I continue living in the “old” mindset of the past 2 years. I need to look at my body and my health in a “new” way, it is the only way I am going to “preserve” this body I have.
I need to remember that this body I have been given is not just mine, it is houses a gift from God and was bought with a very high price.
19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I am no longer living as a slave to myself and my next food craving. I need to give control of the foods I put into my mouth back to God. I know this works, He got me through this once before and I know He will get me through it this time. I just need to get a new attitude and allow God to do a work in me.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
Our Women of the Bible study for this week is focusing on the story of Jael in Judges 4-5, the other woman in the story we read last week of Deborah. Jael killed the leader of the Israelite’s enemy just as Deborah had prophesied to Barack and today we are going to look at this story through the eyes of Jael.
Key Scriptures ~ Judges 4-5 (Click on the link below to, once again, read the scriptures from last week and really focus on Jael’s role in this account).
Now let’s see what our authors have to say about Jael, by clicking the link below
“Behind the story of Jael and the death of Sisera is a God who promised never to forget his people and who holds to that promise. When hope seems dim and the prospect of victory seems close to impossible, God is at work, bringing about his plan.
The people of Israel during the time of the judges must have worn God to exasperation with their continual wavering. When times were good, they easily forgot God and went their own way. But as soon as times got tough, they went running to him for deliverance.
Sound like anyone you know? The story of the wavering of God’s people continues even today. We so easily move forward on our own, thinking we can handle it all, until we run up against something too hard for us. Only then do we run to God for help.”
I am so guilty of this; I wait until the going gets tough and then call out to God for help. Instead I should be defaulting to God, at all times! I should be completely surrendered to Him in every area of my life and the truth is, I should not make a decision without first consulting Him.
God should be my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. He should be in my thoughts all the time. I am supposed to be talking to him throughout the day, asking for His help as I work towards accomplishing the goals for my day.
Right now I am working towards living a more healthy lifestyle. I allowed stress to control my eating habits over the last two years, which is a really bad idea, and I have gained back the weight that I had lost during Made to Crave, plus more. I know that I can count on God to get me through the moments when “my hope is dim and the prospect of victory, over my food cravings, seems close to impossible.” I know that He never forgets me, even when I forget Him, and if I am going to win this battle of the bulge…I need to keep God in the center of my struggle.
I can do all things through God, WHO is my strength!!!
- 30-day Summer Psalm Study
- 93-Day Chronological New Testament Reading Plan
- A Confident Heart
- Bible Verses to memorize
- Commit to be Fit with Us
- Fit for My King
- Focus ~ One-word resolution for 2014
- God's Truth
- Inspired deals
- Jesus Calling
- Made to Crave
- Many Strands of One Accord
- No Murmuring May – 31 Day Challenge
- Passionate about God
- Seeking God's Wisdom for 2014
- The Power of a Woman's Words
- Trusting God
- Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband
- Women of the Bible
- Women of the Bible ~ Eve