Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Proverbs 31:20

Proverbs 31:20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.

Extending a helping hand is not only the right thing to do, we as Christians are called to help.  And when we do help we are blessed.

Micah 6:8 No, O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 But if there are any poor people in your towns when you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need.

Proverbs 11:25 The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 19:17 If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD--and he will repay you!


From today's lesson, here are some ways to help:
- the giving of money
- the giving of food
- the giving of assistance
- the giving of help to the elderly or the ill
 
and how we can begin to pursue a heart of kindness:
- begin at home
- keep your eyes and ears open (Proverbs 20:12)
- pray for a heart of love
- err of the side of generosity

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Proverbs 31:19

Proverbs 31:19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.

When I read this I immediately thought of my Grandma.  As long as I can remember she was never without her 'hookin' as my Dad called it.  She was always working on what I now think of as magnificent projects.  There are so many quilts, bedspreads, tablecloths, doillies, and afghans - I think we all have something that she made just for us. At least those of us that were here when she left us - 6 children and their spouses, 16 grandchildren - most were married, and I think there were about 32 great-grandchildren at that time.

But as I was saying, she was always working on something, and it was always for somebody else.  The only photo I have on my computer of something she made is of this bedspread.  She made for my room when I was young. It is still on the bed in my old room and I tried to take it home with me a couple years ago, but turns out that me and my mom have quite a dispute about who it actually belongs to haha!



My Grandma spent hundreds of hours creating gifts and thinking of others.  And knowing her, I am sure she put many, many prayers into every project! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Proverbs 31:18

Proverbs 31:18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

Because of her hardwork she is profitable.  She works hard because of her caring heart and her creativity increases.  Her continuous hard work builds her confidence which helps to improve her skills, further increasing her creativity.  Her desire to do more increases and so does her caring heart.  This continuous cycle revolves around the virtue of caring for others.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Proverbs 31:17

Proverbs 31:17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.

She is strong because she is diligent (verse 13), disciplined (verse 15), and energetic (verse 17).

Our level of energy can be directly affected by our attitude.  These verses can help us increase our energy or improve our attitude...

Nehemiah 8:10 Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!"

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Proverbs 31:16

Proverbs 31:16 She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.

Here we see this women buying property.  She is putting her money to good use and enabling her to earn more money which helps her to better provide for her family.

The lesson put it like this:
"Her virtue (verse 10) led to
her willing heart (verse 13) which led to
her industry (verse13) which led to
her savings (verse 11) which led to
her investments (verse 16) which led to
her prosperity (verse 25).


Or put another way...

Hard work and a love for others
leads to
A heart in pursuit of excellence
resulting in
God's gracious blessings

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Proverbs 31:15

Proverbs 31:15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day's work for her servant girls.

uggg...do we really have to go here! Please can we not sleep in?  What about those of us that are not morning people?  Are you still thinking about the nagging, complaining, crabby wife?  Yeah, me too - because I got up too early!

...sigh... are you also thinking that I need to spend some extra time on this lesson? yeah me too...sigh...

It is actually a very simply lesson really- it is in 3D - diligence, discipline, determination.  hmmm perhaps I should look up the definitions of the 3D's...

Diligence: constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.



Discipline:  punishment inflicted by way of correction and training
  - well maybe that's not the right definition. 
  - How about this instead: activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training
  - although I may need some sort of punishment inflicted to get my butt out of bed earlier in the morning!

Determination - the act of coming to a decision or a fixed purpose or intention

The end of today's lesson hit pretty hard, I'll quote it:
"Just pursue the excellent pattern of the godly woman of Proverbs 31. She heartily sought and developed the disciplines in the...
- practice of early rising
- provision of daily food, and
- planning of the day's work
Who knows what we could accomplish for God, give to others, and realize for ourselves if only we would follow in this godly women's disciplined footsteps!"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Proverbs 31:14

Proverbs 31:14 She is like a merchant's ship; she brings her food from afar.

Today's lesson had a great analogy and question that I will quote:
"Think about the image of a sailing ship and of a 'sailing' woman as she runs her daily errands. What do you think 'puts the wind in her sails' as she runs to and from to gather up goods?"

The 'wind in her sails' comes from a joyful spirit.  She goes beyond just accomplishing the tasks, she does it out of love for her family.  Her joy comes from providing for her family.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Proverbs 31:13

Proverbs 31:13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. (NLT)

Proverbs 31:13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. (NIV)

I chose two translations because it can show two entirely different virtues.  First she is busy, implying that there is always something on the go, she is always busy at something.  But second, and perhaps more importantly, she works eagerly.  She is happy and joyful while she works...still thinking about that nagging, complaining, crabby wife?  yeah me too...sigh...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Proverbs 31:12

Proverbs 31:12 She will not hinder him but help him all her life.

How can you help your husband?  By being aware of what he is doing, what he needs and wants, and providing for him. Showing your love by being observant and thoughtful.

We can learn from Jesus' actions in Acts 10:38 Then Jesus went around doing good

Perhaps we need to shift our focus and put it on what you can do for your family and husband rather than what they are not doing for you.  Shift your focus from being nagging and complaining and instead meet the needs of your family.  (notice that I wrote this point in the second person - this was/is a really big ouch point!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Proverbs 31:11

Proverbs 31:11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.

Let's first have a look at the opposite of enriching his life - these are actually quite funny, probably because we know they are so true...

Proverbs 19:13 a nagging wife annoys like a constant dripping.

Proverbs 21:9  Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. 

Proverbs 21:19 It is better to live alone in the desert than with a crabby, complaining wife.

Proverbs 27:15 A nagging wife is as annoying as the constant dripping on a rainy day.

Okay, pretty clear that we should watch ourselves and be careful not to nag, complain, argue, or be crabby. Yikes!  Probably need to work on this a bit more!

Our husbands can trust us when they can count on us, trust us with information, when we are responsible, reliable, dependable, and they are able to place their confidence in us - no matter what.  That is what we should strive for - that and biting our tongues when we are crabby and wanting to complain!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Proverbs 31:10

I got back into blogging in the middle of this study, but hated to leave it unfinished here on the blog.  So I am backdated some entries so that in case anyone wanted to follow the complete study here you could.

The study is based on Proverbs 31 and guided with this workbook:
We are currently studying Proverbs 31 using this study guide. It is a great workbook and I recommend it for a great study of Proverbs 31. 



Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies.

The term virtuous also means trustworthy, dependable, faithful, strength, noble character.


Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

A worthy wife makes him happy, a shameful wife exhausts him.  Which are you, or which would you rather be?  I would prefer to be precious to my husband - to be considered by him as the heart of the family.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury

A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury

If you are reading reviews then you already know the storyline and you know this is Christian fiction, with characters that pray and read scripture.  I won't repeat all that..

I have never read a Karen Kingsbury book before, so this review is for all of you who also have not experienced this talented Christian author. In a few words, this is a book that you can fall into and let the world go by until you are done. And when you are done, you will be looking for more tissues and more Karen Kingsbury novels because in one book she has become one of your favorite authors.


Disclosure: Thomas Nelson Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program.


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Monday, November 1, 2010

Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan


Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan Special Edition

150 Christmas, Easter, and All-Time Favorite Hymn Stories

The concept of this book is so simple, yet so engaging. Print the hymn, words and music, then tell the story of how the author came to write the hymn. Brilliant!!

It is fascinating and enlightening. First of all, I love that the music is included, and is the biggest reason why I chose this book. However, the pleasant surprise was that every hymn also includes a scripture reference.

The stories are truly inspiring and certainly put a new light on the hymn. For example, the author of The Old Rugged Cross spoke of when he was writing the hymn “It was like seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption.” I will now always look at this hymn with a deeper understanding of its intent.  And for me that is the common theme of the book.  Each hymn I study from this book increases the beauty of the words to hymns I already love!

I was also fascinated by the story of The Star Spangled Banner. First I was shocked to see it included in a book about hymns. Then to read the last stanza, including this line: Then conquer we must when our cause is just. And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.” It is unfortunate that this is not a common part of the national anthem to a country that was founded on Christian values.

If I had one complaint, it would be that I am not overly fond of the torn page edges. I cannot thumb through the book easily which is slightly annoying. Other than that little issue, it has blessed my worship time tremendously so I have to give it top rating!


Disclosure: Thomas Nelson Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James

Love on a Dime – A Ladies of Summerhill Novel by Cara Lynn James

This is a fictional story set in 1899 and is about a young woman who is secretly writing popular novels. Certainly not anything like the type of historical romance I have read before. You know the trashy mind-numbing kind - well this is not one of those. Instead it is a book with a main character that feels that God has called her to write these novels that are different because they have a Christian message and she donates all the proceeds to a Christian mission. Meanwhile the man she does not want to be in love with has purchased the company that publishes her books and the threat of her secret being exposed is greater than ever.


The story itself is interesting and it is easy to get caught up in the character’s passion for writing while trying desperately to keep her secret because it will ruin her family’s reputation. This author’s writing style was refreshing in that she used faith and prayer throughout the book and that all of the decisions of the main character were centered on God’s plan for her. The storyline I appreciated the most was the dilemma of who she should marry and that she made the decision based on whose faith was more compatible with hers.

I was not disappointed with this book but didn’t find it to be a dramatic page turner. It was nice light reading and perfect book to have while I was in the airport and on the plane.




Disclosure: Thomas Nelson Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program.



I review for BookSneeze

why am I always catching up?

So here I am again, months have passed and I have not posted a single thing on my blog....sigh....maybe someday I will get it together.  Any suggestions?  Prayers for me getting it together are also appreciated!!

Anyway, I did find some time while flying to read the book I was supposed review months ago and so I am just now posting that review.  Hopefully I can get back into reading more books and also get back to blogging my bible studies and blogging in general!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

catching up...

I am so far behind!!! We had two weeks of swimming lessons then a week of VBS where I was the games leader, this was followed by a week of sniffles and trying to catch up at the house. In addition to that I received a homeschool catalog in the mail and got very distracted in researching kindergarten curriculums. Unfortunately for anyone who reads this blog (and I am not sure that there are more than 2 or 3 who do) the first thing that always seems to not get done is blogging :( I did complete the homework, I just have not blogged about it. I simply have to go back through my notes for week 4 and 5 to make the posts, and then will backdate the entries until I catch up. Can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Daniel Week 5 - Day 1

Belshazar, Fact or Fiction

Today's homework revealed one of those mysteries that I love to hear about.  A portion of Bible history that was eventually confirmed by world history.

King Nebuchadnezzar (I hope that is the last time I have to type that name - sheesh) has long been gone and the current king is named Belshazzar.  Not to be confused with the name given to Daniel which was Beltashazzar.

According to the Bible, Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon.  However, according to other historic records a man named Nabonidus as the final Babylonian ruler.  For centuries this was considered one of the inconsistencies of the Bible, causing many to believe that it was a fictional story.

But wait!  How cool is this which I will quote from the homework, "Behold the words of researchers since the late nineteenth century: "abundant evidence has come to light that demonstrates not only that Belshazzar did live but that he was both the son of and co-regent with Nabonius."  And this also explains why Belshazzar offered the third position to Daniel.  Nabonius was first and Belshazzar was second.

Daniel 5:7 "Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom."

The Bible is true, complete, and all of it can be taken literally.  Yes, including creation which by the way is so much fun to study with preschoolers!  We are on Day 3 right now and I have beans sprouting on my window sill to show them how God first provided light, then He made dry land and water, then seeds and plants.  It is so cool to see them understand how God gave seeds to put in the ground, and light and water to nourish the seeds to grow.

God reveals answers to Biblical mysteries in His time and for His purposes.  I personally can hardly wait until He reveals the location of Noah's Ark or the Ark of the Covenant containing the 10 Commandments!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Daniel Session 5

The Handwriting on the Wall

Daniel 5:30-31 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain,  and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

Prophecy is being fulfilled!  Babylon falls to the Medes.
 
But what caused the handwriting on the wall?  What was the king doing that caused such a response from God?
 
Daniel 5;3-4 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

During their great banquet they started to drink from the gold goblets taken from God's temple.  The NLT states that they then began to drink "toasts" to the various gods of their culture.  They treated the holy as unholy.  The goblets were holy objects from the tabernacle, everything in the Tabernacle was holy.
 
Leviticus 8:10 Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the Tabernacle and everything in it, thus making them holy.
 
 
This can be applied to us as well, because we are considered holy...
 
Ephesians 1:4 Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
 
What the king did with the goblets is exactly what Satan wants to do with us.  Treat the holy as unholy.  We of course are holy, but he can make us think we are unholy.  He will do everything he can to convince us we are defiled and that there is nothing sacred about us.  It pleases him when he finds something in us that he can draw us to by toasting to it and making us think we are unholy.  But this is just so not true! We are holy!  Nothing can change that fact.  Isn't that simply mind-boggling!  Nothing Satan can do will change it, we simply need to believe in what God tells us so we can stand firm against the enemy.
 
1Corinthians 1:21-22 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Daniel Week 4 - Day 5

Break Off

Another look at Verse 27

Daniel 4: 27 `O King Nebuchadnezzar, please listen to me. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past by being merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.'

 The NKJV uses the phrase "break off".  There are things in our lives that we simply have to break free from or make a clean break from.  The homework said this "Some things - substances, activities, relationships - are so toxic to us that moderation won't work... Some things don't need to be cut back. They need to be cut off."

If you have struggled with alcohol or drug addiction, "just one" may be impossible.  If you have someone in your life that is destructive to you, you may have to use "Tough Love" and cut them out of your life - completely!  If there are things in your life that are keeping you from increasing your faith or getting closer to God - cut them out, break free!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Daniel Week 4 - Day 4

Stripped Leaves and Scattered Fruit

In the homework we were asked to draw a picture of the images in the dream. I can hardly draw a stick figure, so let's do a picture study instead!

Daniel 4: 10-12 " `While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree.

A large flourishing tree reaching to the heavens...
 
 
Wild animals lived in its shade...
birds nested in its branches...


fresh green leaves and loaded with fruit for the whole world to eat...



Imagine the size and beauty of a tree that can feed the entire world!!!

Now imagine it being cut down...

 


But there is so much more to it than that!  God will cut down what needs to be cut out of us but he will not destroy us! As it says in the homework... His desire is to "re-grow us free from the fruit-rotting parasite of pride.  God is not trying to destroy us.  He's trying to keep us from destroying ourselves."

If we have been cut down or hit 'rock-bottom' we can look up and see that all that is left is God guiding our re-growth!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Daniel Week 4 - Day 3

Stubborn Minds

Daniel 4:8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

Nebuchadnezzar still did not believe that God was the one true God.  He still referred to Daniel by the Babylonian name, named after a god, and he used "gods" in the plural form.

It may be frustrating for us when we are trying to share God's Word with unbelievers.  We may even share with and pray for the salvation of loved ones for years and years.  But it that person's salvation and their understanding of the Word is completely out of our control.

Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

1Corinthians 2:14 But people who aren't Christians can't understand these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them because only those who have the Spirit can understand what the Spirit means.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes

Does that mean we should give up?  Of course not, it means that we should try harder and pray more!  God is working through us to reach the lost.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Daniel Week 4 - Day 2

The Lap of Luxury

Today we take another look at this verse.

Daniel 4:4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.

Contented and prosperous.  What do think of when you think of contented and prosperous? Is it happiness, satisfaction, wealth?

The word 'prosperous' is translated as flourishing or luxuriant.  The king was lounging in the lap of luxury.

The word 'contented' is translated as 'at ease, at rest' which is a sense of contentment and security. 

In the homework it states that we can "picture a life that has finally discovered a means of security in which it can contentedly rest."  How can we find that life and achieve that security?  Simple - it can be found with God!

Psalm 62: 1-2  My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.   He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

The purpose of life is not a pursuit of prosperity, wealth or luxury.  True prosperity, and where we find true contentment is only with God.  When we seek a relationship with Him, we are achieving the true purpose of our lives!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Daniel Week 4 - Day 1

Week 4 - Day 1
My Pleasure To Tell

Daniel 4:2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.

This was Nebuchadnezzar's testimony.  A testimony is simply how we share how God brought us to Him and we became Christians or how God has worked in our lives.  A testimony is how we share the greatness of God.  We need to be very careful of being prideful when we share about ourselves, the purpose is to glorify God not to show how well we do something or how well we stay away from sin.  Satan will use any opportunity, including puffing up our own egos as we try to share about God.  

We can take "pleasure" in sharing our testimonies but our intent should always be to glorify God.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Daniel - Session 4

Session 4 - Farewell Lessons from Nebuchadnezzar

Be merciful to the poor

In the session, Beth Moore makes a comparison of verses 4 and 27 of chapter 4.

Daniel 4:4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity.

Daniel 4:27 `O King Nebuchadnezzar, please listen to me. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past by being merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.

King Nebuchadnezzar was living the high life in style and ultimate comfort with apparently no end in sight to his increasing wealth and prosperity.  However, his dream was a warning that he was about to fall and fall hard.  Daniel interpreted the dream and then gave the king a warning in verse 27.  In all his lavish lifestyle Nebuchadnezzar (by the way, it is still not easy to type his name) had no concern for the poor or their needs.

The translation for the word merciful is defined as "to be favorable, be kind, be gracious; to pity, have mercy, to bestow; to complain; to make lovely". The last part of this was interesting in that "complaining" is a form of having mercy.  There is so much poverty in this world but not many stand up and publically 'complain' about it.  Not many stand up and try to make it right.

Beth Moore said something in this session that struck me deeply, "if you can buy a book and be able to read it you are among the rich and privileged of this world".  We are so spoiled in this part of the world that we easily take books and education for granted.   As I recall all the time I spent in the last few days reviewing so many curriculums I am amazed at how many choices there are - and that is just for kindergarten!  And part of why I am homeschooling kindergarten is because Sam cannot start public school until next year - which is a free option available to anyone who lives in this country!  We have so many choices for educating our children,  so why are there so many issues with the education system.  Perhaps in this area this country has become too content living in comfort and prosperity??


The tree dream

Daniel 4:23 Then you saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, "Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven. Let him eat grass with the animals of the field for seven periods of time.

We all know that there are times in our lives when God has to bring us down so far that the only way we can see is up to Him.  This vision of the tree being cut down to the stump is the same idea.  Nebuchadnezzar had to be cut right down until he could recognize God and the one and only God.

But isn't it comforting that God did not destroy the tree, instead he wrapped the stump with iron and bronze.  He would allow it to grow back.  It is comforting to know that we are always protected, being wrapped in His arm, even as we are being conformed!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daniel Week 3 - Day 5

Week 3 - No Smell of Fire

Day 3 - If He Does Not

What is your greatest fear?  Many people would answer that they are afraid of dying.  But when we understand God's desire for us that fear should be replaced with anticipation.  Just as the homework stated "God always abides with us, but we are wise to remember that His ultimate goal is for us to abide with Him".

If we are faced with a trial we may be delivered from it by a miracle or delivered through it.  Either way our faith is strengthened.  But what about those times that seemingly do not make sense, such as when a Christian loses a battle with an illness.  Death is also an end to a fiery trial.  To those of us left behind it is difficult, and that may be a trial we are to endure.  But for the person that is gone from earth they are experiencing something incredibly glorious, he or she is finally in the presence of God! 

So if it seems that He will not deliver you from the trial you are enduring, then praise Him because you are about to be released from this world and join Him!  How glorious and wonderful!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Daniel Week 3 - Day 4

Week 3 - No smell of Smoke

Day 4 - The Heart of Loyalty

I simply love how a study can change your view of a simple word.  Today the homework was about loyalty and how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago did not have to stop to think about the options.  Their reponse to the king was immediate, no more questions needed to be asked - they would not bow down to the king.  Their loyalty was entirely to God.

Okay, I think we all get that they were loyal.  The common definition of loyal is to be faithful or a constant devotion.  But the homework went further and took us to 1Chronicles 29:17 where the word loyal is used.  The word in Hebrew means:
- to be firm, be established, be steadfast, be faithful, be sure, be reliable, be fixed, be certain

This definition fits what I thought of as the definition of loyalty - no surprises there.  The surprise came as the definition continued with...
- to be ready, be prepared, to be determined...signifies initial preparation ot formation, actual preparation for a future event.

Pretty cool!  Our loyalty to God is shown in many ways, but as we study His Word we are getting ready and being more and more prepared for Christ's return.  I love that - don't you?

The homework also asked a question that I wanted to also put here...
"Could any circumstance (such as an unhealed disease, unanswered prayer, loss of a loved one, an incarceration in a country where Christianty is illegal, or other situations) make you renounce your faith in Christ?   How do you answer this question?  My answer is NO!  I know that there is no situation and I also know that the more I study, the stronger that NO is.  I suppose it is because I am becoming more prepared and more loyal!!!

Daniel Week 3 - Day 3

Daniel Week 3 - No Smell of Smoke

Day 3 - The Apple of His Eye

Today's homework made reference to a verse that uses the phrase "apple of His eye".  Of courese, we have all heard this phrase and it is quite common but how well do we know it in reference to God?  So I thought I would explore it...

What do you think about when you hear the phrase "apple of my eye"?   Generally I think about how I feel about my kids - in terms of a great affection, cherished, precious.   But how does the Bible use it? 

Here are the verses where I found the phrase in the NIV.  I have added the end of Deut 32:10 from the NLT to better show how it is used.

Deuteronomy 32:10 In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
NLT he guarded them as his most precious possession.



Psalm 17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings


Proverbs 7:2 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.


Zechariah 2:8 For this is what the Lord Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you--for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye--

These verses are not showing the kind of affection that we have come to view the meaning of "apple of my eye".  Instead it is a term of guarding - a fierce protection!  But can it be both?  I think it can!

Right now we have a stray mother cat and her kittens that have adopted our deck as their home.  The mother cat we call Patches, is perfectly tame and will even seek out our attention any chance she gets.  Her kittens on the other hand are perfectly wild and I can not get near them.  Patches has no concern at all about me trying to be near her kittens, but watch out if one of the dogs tries to get close!  She fiercely protects and guards them against any threat, but allows what she knows as loving affection. 

God fiercely protects and guards us as well as showing us loving affection.

Daniel Week 3 - Day 2

Daniel Week 3 - No Smell of Fire

Day 2 - Another Side of Self-Absorbtion

Today's homework cast a new light on the idea of self-absorbtion.  In previous lessons we learned about the Babylonian mentality with the motto of "I am and there is none besides me".  This can come out as a feeling of superiority such as having others bow down to you.  The other side of this mentality is insecurity or a feeling of inferiority.  The homework states it like this "constantly thinking little of ourselves is still thinking constantly of ourselves."  Change the above motto to some of these and see if it fits you better!
"I am ugly, and there is none uglier than me."
"I am a fool, and there is no bigger fool than me."
"I am untalented, and there is none as untalented as me."
"I am scatterbrained, and there is none as scatterbrained as me."


So how can we get ourselves out of this struggle of insecurity or inferiority?  By doing everything for God.
Matthew 6:33 and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Daniel Week 3 - Day 1

Week 3 - No Smell of Fire

Day 1 - Taller When Others Bow

When someone bows before another, such as before a king, the king appears taller.  How does that apply to us?  Well, this study is about how the Babylon culture also represents our culture.  What is the influence?  Here are some questions from today's homework...
Do we feel more important when surrounded by those we deem important?
Do we feel more important when someone important notices us?
Do we like to be seen with those who seem important?
Are we name-makers or name-droppers?
Even the most timid 'yes' to any of these questions nods its head to Babylonian indoctrination.
I think that we have all been able to say yes to at least one of these questions!  As I was thinking about all of this I was reminded about a comment said to me years ago that still makes me laugh and is so very true.

We were gathered at a nursing home-type facility that I was the Treasurer for.  The big event of the day was when a bigwig government official was to tour the tiny village and the facility.  So we were all standing around waiting for her to make her way down the line and shake hands with all the staff and residents.  The lady that I was standing next to was a true gem.  Her comment was "I don't know what the big deal is, she sits to pee just like the rest of us" 

Well, as you can imagine we had a very hard time trying to keep a straight face as she shook our hands and made small talk!  But what it did do, is put it into perspective - even though she was politically famous and had a big fancy title, at the end of the day she was no more important than me or any of the other ladies in that room! 

We would all do well to remember that we are all created equal and we are all loved equally by God, no one is any more or any less important to God!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Daniel Session 3

Session 3 - No Smell of Fire

sheeesh here it is Thursday already and I have not even posted for the Session dvd!!  Seem to be falling behind a bit - must be the heat, my thermometer just hit 108!!!  Phew it's HOT and me and the heat are not great friends!

Speaking of heat, how about a chat about fiery trials! Most of us know the Bible story about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and how they were thrown into the fire God saved them and they were not harmed.  The entire story is in Daniel 3.  But let's focus on their attitudes right before they were thrown in.


Daniel 3: 17-18 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

In the video, Beth Moore used scenarios to illustrate this point. We were to imagine the we have discovered a mass or a lump and that the doctor first says that in his experience it always comes back malignant. What do you do first?


Urgently pray for deliverance - pray for a miracle.  This is the attitude of Daniel's friends in verse 17.  They knew that God could save them from the fire, that He could rescue them.  We need to have the same faith, and when we are faced with a trial we should pray to be rescued from it until we are told we will have to face it.  In the scenario described by Beth Moore, we have prayed for it to be taken away and it is.  God has performed a miracle, He puts out the fire right before we are thrown in!


Endure through the trial  - What if that lump is not taken away but is proven to be cancerous?  Then what?  Then we have received an answer from God to our urgent prayer.  Much like how Paul prayed for the thorn from his side to be removed, but it wasn't.  We have to endure the trial and remain faithful.  By enduring the trial our faith is refined.   In this scenario, we battle the cancer and survive!

1Peter 1:7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

To die is gain - In the final scenario, we lose our battle with cancer.  This is the attitude in verse 18 - we know that God can, but He may not and they would be in heaven with Him. 

The words "to die is gain" are the NIV version of the following verse, but I prefer the NLT version because it really makes the point! 
Philippians 1:21 For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better.
Yes, if you are a child of God then dying is better than living!  Beth Moore said it beautifully in the video, "the fact that we want to stay here shows our inability to grasp what awaits us.  This scenario should be what we are most anxious for."  She also said something like this "I will believe in God until the last breath and then know that He must be anxious to see me!".   Until that last breath we should be praying for that miracle, praying for healing and understanding.


Understanding
When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fire they were bound in ropes.  These ropes were the only things that were consumed by the flames.  When we are going through a trial there are sins that bind us.  We need to pray for knowledge and understanding of the sin that binds us so that we can be free from that which binds us. 


In His presence
Daniel 3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Beth Moore explained that in verse 28 the translation for the word "trusted" is the only time the word is used in scripture!  The description of the word includes "to lave, to bathe self, to wash self.  The connection is a servant at the temple baths waiting to cleanse.  So to trust to be attended, to be cleansed".  Therefore the best way to trust that you can endure a fiery trial is to literally bathe yourself in God's presence.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Daniel Week 2 - Day 5

Week 2 - A Dream and a Kingdom

Day 5 - Daniel's Interpretation
In the homework we were to label an illustration of a statue with the parts of the interpretation.  So today I thought I would simply post something similar that I found on the internet here.  I like it because it shows the dates of the 4 empires.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daniel Week 2 - Day 4

Week 2 - A Dream and A Kingdom

Day 4 - From "He" to "You"

The homework states that "the highest theme of the Book of Daniel is undoubtedly the sovereignty of God."

The "sovereignty of God" is a term that we often hear, but do we really understand it?  The definition given in the homework is this... "God's sovereignty means that He has supremacy over all things and does whatever He desires with whomever or whatever He pleases.

I thought that I would check this definition with scripture and discovered something very interesting!  I went to http://www.blueletterbible.org/ to do a search for the phrase "sovereignty of God".  This phrase does not exist in any of the translations I searched - KJV, NKJV, NLT and NIV!!

If fact the word "sovereignty" is only found twice in the whole Bible in the NIV translation and both of those are in Daniel.  Daniel 5:18 and 7:27.  I thought that was very interesting. 

Of course God then provided me some wisdom and knowledge and I immediately thought I better do a search for "sovereign".  Well that certainly provided an even more interesting result!
- it does not occur in KJV or the NKJV!
- it occurs 292 times in the NLT and 303 times in the NIV

So what in the world does that mean?  Well, in both NLT and NIV one of the first verses to use the word "sovereign" is Exodus 23:17 Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord.
(NIV). 

So now I am curious to read the verse in KJV! Exodus 23:17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD. Well that didn't help much did it!  Except that I did a Kay Arthur study a few years ago on the Names of God.  In that study I learned how the names of God in Hebrew were translated in different ways into English.  hmmm time to pull out my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible which happens to be for the KJV.

The Hebrew word used in Exodus 23:17 for Lord is adon which according to the concordance means lord, master, one who has authority over another.  It is also used most often with the next Hebrew word...

The Hebrew word used in Exodus 23:17 for GOD is yhwh or as we often say yahweh, which according to the concordance means the proper name of the one true God; knowledge and use of the name implies personal or covenant relationship; the name pictures God as the one who exists and/or causes existence.

Ok, so basically the term "Lord GOD" in the KJV or NKJV was then translated to "Sovereign Lord" in the NLT and NIV. Do you get it yet?  Let's do another one so you can see how words and even how words are written are so important.  Let's look at this verse in the KJV...

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Of course it is verse we all know, even my kids have this one memorized.  But what you may not know is that the Hebrew word used in this verse for God is elohim, which according to the concordance means God but in the plural (plural of majesty; plural in form but singular in meaning,with a focus on great power).  Are you as amazed as I am right now? Plural! Right there in the very first verse of the Bible is the trinity and we did not even know it was there.  Kind of makes me want to study Hebrew!

Wow, that's what you call being led down a path, digging deep, and finding treasure!  Fun isn't it?!  This has truly been an example of the sovereignty of God.  He does whatever He desires with whomever or whatever He pleases. Today He decided to use some Bible reference tools for us to gain a better understanding of who He is.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Daniel Week 2 - Day 3

Week 2 - A Dream and a Kingdom

Day 3 - Praise to the God of Heaven

Urgent Prayer
Daniel 2:18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

Can you imagine the urgent prayers of Daniel and his three friends knowing that only an answer from God could save their lives from execution!


Urgent Praise
God did answer their prayers and Daniel immediately praised god. Today the homework suggested that we use the next several weeks to memorize Daniel 2:20-23.  I am using NIV to be consistent with the workbook.

Daniel 2:20-23
20 Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 
21 He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king."

Once you have these verses memorized you will have the perfect praise response for when God answers your prayers!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Daniel Week 2 - Day 2

Week 2 - A Dream and a Kingdom

Day 2 - Urgent Tact, Urgent Prayer

Tact
In the NIV, verse 14 says that Daniel used wisdom and tact.  The translation of the word for tact also means "to taste, to form an opinion of something based on its flavor".  Daniel responded to Arioch in such a way that it saved his neck - literally.  The executioner allowed him to request more time from the king. 

I am beginning to think that God has answered my prayers for moments related to this study that I can share with all of you.  The question in the homework was "When was the last time you wanted to respond to someone with rudeness?"  Well, how about yesterday!  I was in Costco and of course we have to stop and get the samples!  Love that about Costco!!  I am not sure why one lady decided to put her hand up in my face and shush me but it caused my blood to boil instantly!  Her rudeness nearly caused me to lose my temper completely and normally I think I would have, but instead I put down the sample and walked away.  I
don't know if it was tactful or not, but with God obviously guiding me, I managed to not lose my temper in the face of bad customer service.


Prayer Partners
The homework talked about having prayer partners.  It is interesting to me that the Experiencing God study I just worked on talked about the importance of people within the church building each other up.  Now I am seeing it in this study too! 

1Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up

Isn't that exactly what a prayer partner is and should be?   A prayer partner should be someone that walks along side you in your spiritual walk just as you walk along side them.  You may be in two completely different stages of spiritual maturity, but you can still support each other and build each other up.  A prayer partner should also be someone you meet with regularly to pray with and to discuss your spiritual walk, perhaps how a bible study is going or decisions that you are faced with.

If you do not have a prayer partner, ask God to find someone for you.  I love how Beth Moore put it... "Someone out there needs you for a prayer partner...You are the answer to someone else's prayer."

If you are blessed to find a prayer partner, then what happens next?  Here are some thoughts...
  1. agree to meet regularly, it could be weekly, twice a month, monthly as long as it is regularly. Make it a serious committment and do it!
  2. get to know each other, share things about yourself, your family, your life, and your spiritual journey
  3. when you meet go over praise reports and prayer requests.  Commit to praying for each other daily.
  4. work on building each other up.  Ask spiritually appropriate questions such as
    • Have you been reading the Bible regularly?
    • Have you been praying daily?
    • Have you been honoring your spouse/parents? Sisters/Brothers?
    • Did you attend church this week?
    • Have you been giving God your tithe and offering?
    • Is there unconfessed sin in your life?
    • What are you wrestling with in your thought life?
    • Are you obeying the Word of God?
    • How has God blessed you this week?
    • Do you sense that God is at work in your life?
    • What have you done to help someone this week?

  5. And of course, avoid the temptation for your prayer meetings to turn into gossip sessions!!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Daniel Week 2 - Day 1

Week 2 - A Dream and a Kingdom

Day 1 - A Royally Troubled Mind

Disturbing Dreams
When was the last time you had a disturbing dream?  You know, the kind that wakes you up and you are in a cold sweat and your heart is pounding.  Mine was last night!   I have been thinking all morning that I really should write down everything I can remember from this dream because it would make an awesome scene to a horror movie or a page tuning chapter to a mystery/horror book.  I won't go into the details because, well they are just too disturbing!

As I did today's homework (oops a day late, sorry!) I was fascinated to realize that I could so vividly recall the experience of having a "spirit-striking dream" because it had literally just happened a few hours earlier!  Perhaps that is God's timing!

As I type this I can recall two other dreams that still disturb me to this day.  One happened about ten years ago and I can still recall many of the horrifying details of the dream.  At the time I was reading the book "Red Dragon" which is the book before "Silence of the Lambs".  Not exactly bedtime reading as I found out!  I fell asleep while reading the book and was rewarded with a dream that still haunts me.  I still love a good scary book, but tend not to read them at bedtime anymore!!!  The other dream was so horrifying that I can't even write about it.  The point is that I can relate to how King Nebuchnezzar felt about his dream!


Interpretation
One thing that the homework stated caught my attention.  It said that Nebuchadnezzar (still not easy to type by the way) may have wanted the wise men to tell what the dream was as proof of their supernatural ability or because he could not remember some of it.  There are many, many dreams that I have that are so frustrating because I cannot remember some of the details.  However, after recalling the dreams I mentioned above I personally think that he could remember everything.  He knew how they interpreted from the text books and he wanted a true interpretation of his dream, not just what the books said.

Experiencing God - Unit 6: Day 5

Particularily with my generation the church has become only a building you drive by and admire the stained glass windows.  But what is the church for, what is its purpose?  Today's lesson provided the answers, all based on scripture. 

The church is the body of Christ
1Corinthians 12:27 Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.

Christ is the head of the church
Ephesians 4:15 Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

God places us in a church
1Corinthians 12:18 But God made our bodies with many parts, and he has put each part just where he wants it.

The Holy Spirit gives each member of the church a gift to be used to benefit the church
1Corinthians 12:4,7 Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

Our responsibility is to do God's work AND to build up 
Ephesians 4:12-13 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.


Being a member of a church should be so much more than attending Sunday services.  We should be there to use the spiritual gifts we have been given and also to support each other.  Why then is our church life not more important to us?  Church groups should be a community within a community, but I suppose we are too often too busy with life (and yes, that includes me) to focus on the people within our church.  I pray that we can all make our church a bigger priority in our lives.

Remember that, according to this study, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church.  If we are not visible within the church how is the Holy Spirit going to speak to us through the church?  When we are seeking to hear from God, often we will see that what we hear from the Bible, in our prayers, through circumstances, and at church are all saying the same thing.  When that happens you will know that you are on the right path.

Experiencing God - Unit 6: Day 4

Spiritual Markers

Physical Markers of Spiritual Encounters
There are many instances of people in the Old Testament builing alters after they had an encounter with God.  These are examples of physical markers.

The altars and stones became opportunities to teach about God.

Spiritual Markers
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
God has plans for our lives and to accomplish His purposes He will prepare us by guiding us through life, by developing our character and growing through life lessons and spiritual growth.  Each step along the way can be thought of as a stepping stone along a path.  As we come to the next stone we are focused on that single step, but God sees the whole path.

Spiritual markers are like those stepping stones, it identifies a time of trnasition, decisions, or directions where you clearly know that God was guiding you.  As you come to know these spiritual markers you can confidently take the next step when you are faced with new decisions or a new direction for your life.  The spiritual markers show you what directions God has been leading you, so that when faced with a decision you will know which option is the mopst consistent with His path.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Daniel - Session 2

Chapter 2 of Daniel introduces us to some prophecy as Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar's dream.  This dream is part prophecy, that is prophecy when it was written but to us is now historical events.  It is also part eschatology, which is a big fancy word for the study of end time events.

The DVD session was, as usual, filled with fascinating information and wonderful insights.  I could never do it justice, but I will simply highlight some of the things that really spoke to me.

Daughters of Babylon
Beth Moore talked about how we are in this culture.  We have no choice but to live here, this is where God wants us to be, and until he moves us somewhere else then we need to be a part of this culture.  We need to be culturally relevant and live our lives in some ways so that we fit in with our culture, in the way we dress, transportation, communication, etc.

At this point I am reminded of her comments that Daniel and his 3 friends were the only ones mentioned, all of the others were so absorbed into the culture that they became spiritually irrelevant.  The influence of the culture over shadowed the influence of their spirituality.

How do we relate to this?  We are surrounded by the influences of our culture everyday, but what is the effect of those influences on our relationship with God?  Are we spiritually relevant?  When people see how you live your life do they immediatley recognize that you live a Christian life?  Do we have a spiriutal influence on our culture?   Certainly important questions to ponder!


The Rock
Much of the session dealt with discussing the various parts of the statue in the dream and how the interpretation of the 4 empires was exactly played out in history, just as Daniel prophesied.  Of course I find all of this incredibly fascinating, but she took us down another path that literally gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes!!!

Daniel 2:34-35 and 2:44-45 are about the rock in the Kings dream.  This represents the Kingdom of Jesus.  In the session we learned that Psalms 113-118 are called the Hallel and are read in entirety at Passover.  So while Jesus was celebrating Passover right before his death, He would have read these verses!  He also quoted in 1Peter 2:4-8.  They are important to understanding the power of the coming reign of Christ.

(NIV) Psalm 118:22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
(NKJ) Psalm 118:22 The stone [which] the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

It becomes more clear when we truly undertand the importance of a capstone or cornerstone.  It is the piece of the foundation that holds it all together.  Without this piece fitting perfectly, the whole structure would be unstable.  The Jewish nation rejected Christ because they thought he did not fit what they expected the Messiah to be.  But they will see that He does fit, He fits perfectly - as the final piece, the capstone.  The most important piece, the chief cornerstone.

This is the Day
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Literally one of my favorite verses!  It gave me goosebumps when Beth Moore talked about this verse.  First, when I flipped that Psalm open this verse was already highlighted!!  But then I realized that the bookmark I just bought and have been using to mark Daniel for this study quotes this verse!  And finally, a couple weeks ago we had congragational choice of hymns at our church - guess what hymn I requested!  You got it "This is the Day".  Certainly God is speaking to me through this verse! 

And I have a new love for this hymn!  Too bad I couldn't find a singing audio clip of it for you to share it with me.  However, I did find this version so at least you can have the tune in your head.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfUyuJsZLv4

The first verse lyrics are:
This is the day, This is the day,

That the Lord has made, That the Lord has made.
We will rejoice, We will rejoice,
And be glad in it And be glad in it!
This is the day that the Lord has made,
We will rejoice and be glad in it!
This is the day, This is the day,
That the Lord has made.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Experiencing God - Unit 6: Day 3

Day 3 - The Truth of Your Circumstances

John 14:6 "I am...the truth"

No matter what are circumstances are the truth of the situation is not revealed until the Holy Spirit reveals it to you.  In the midst of any situation we should always go to God, striving to be more God-centered rather than self-centered.  This of course is so difficult to do, but we are deny our selves and follow Him.  The workbook said the following:
When He becomes the Lord of your life, He alone has the right to be..
- the Focus in your life
- the Initiator in your life
- the Director in your life
That is what is means for Him to be Lord.
He will create any circumstance to do His will.  If He is Lord of our lives we will see Him glorified by the circumstance.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Experiencing God - Unit 6: Day 2

Day 2 - God Speaks Through Circumstances

God works in His time and for His purposes.  If we try to look at the circumstance from our perspectives we will always become confused and frustrated.  When we face difficult or confusing circumstances, rather than become discouraged, we need to be looking for the ways that God is accomplishing His purposes. 

The story the author told in the workbook was when his young daughter was having to endure cancer treatments.  They chose to seek the perspective of God through the Holy Spirit and the Word.  Many, many people and groups began to pray and about half way through the treatments she was completely cancer free!!   The answer to prayer was for many of the prayer groups a way that God used to renew their prayer lives.  God spoke to many through these circumstances!


John 5:17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."

God is always at work even when we face difficult circumstances.  Will you choose to be discouraged, or give Him the glory?

Experiencing God - Unit 6: Day1

Unit 6 - God Speaks, Part 2

Important Verse
John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.


Day 1 - What is Happening When You Pray?

Spiritual Concentration
Praying is part of our relationship with God.  It is how we speak to Him and one of the ways He speaks to us.  So obviously prayer is very important.  But what do we do after we pray.  When we say "Amen" what do we do next, many of us simply move on to the next task?

The workbook talked about a "spiritual concentration".  It is what we do after we pray.  After we pray we should anticipate the actions of God in response to our prayer.  What begins to happen during the rest of the day?  Is it a perfect day where everything goes as it should, or are there distractions and events that are not part of what you anticpated for the day.  These distractions and events may be a way that God is trying to communicate with you, a way to give you an answer to your prayer.


The Silences of God
As we learned from Job, and answer from God may be silence.  These times of silence may be to prepare you for a time of great revelation and a deeper knowledge of Him.

Daniel - Week 1: Day 5

Day 5 - Resolve

I thought I would do something a little different today.  There were three words primarly used in today's homework: resolve, consistency, and integrity.  I thought I would simply explore those three words using a dictionary and thesaurus and see what jumps out...

resolve:
as a noun it's meaning: firm or unwavering adherence to one╩╝s purpose
similar words: determination
example: "I admire your resolve to get your project done"

as a verb it's meanings:
1 to come to a judgment after discussion or consideration
similar words: decide
example: "After talking with my friends, I resolved to try out for the play"


2 to find an answer for through reasoning
similar words: solve
example: "resolve the problem"

Can you apply these meanings of resolve to your Bible study?  Let's have determination to stand firm to placing Bible study as a priority.  Let's come to come to decisions on matters of life by considering and reasoning with the Bible as our guide.


Consistent

1 archaic : possessing firmness or coherence


2 a : marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity : free from variation or contradiction b : marked by agreement : compatible —usually used with with c : showing steady conformity to character, profession, belief, or custom

3 : tending to be arbitrarily close to the true value of the parameter estimated as the sample becomes large
 
I personally like the definiation of 2c - showing steady conformity.  In that as we are consistent in our Bible study we are continually growing in our character, growing ever closer to the character of Jesus.
 
 
Integrity
 
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility


2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness

3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness

similar words:  honesty


So the conclusion to my little word study is that if we are resolved to be consistent with Bible study we have integrity.

Or put another way, using other words: if we are determined to have regular and continuing Bible study we are incorruptible and complete.

Of course we are not perfect, but we can strive for consistency and we also have to consider Satan in all of this.  The workbook said is perfectly...

Satan never wastes a fiery dart by aiming at a spot covered by armor.  The bull's-eye is located dead center in our inconsistency.

Let's resolve to make that bull's eye as small as possible!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Daniel - Week 1: Day 4

Day 4 - Renaming and Resisting

Daniel 1: 6-7 tells us that the names of Daniel and his friends were changed from their Hebrew names.  This is another one of those times that I enjoy these kinds of studies.  The meanings of names in the Bible have always fascinated me so today's study was very interesting for me.  The following is from the study, with the meanings of the names in brackets.

Daniel (God is my Judge) was renamed Belteshazzar (Bel will protect)

Hananiah (Yah has been gracious) was renamed Shadrach (inspired of Aku)

Mishael (Who is what God is?) was renamed Meshach (belonging to Aku)

Azariah (Yah has helped) was renamed Abednego (servant of Nego)

All of the Hebrew names referenced God and all of the Babylonian names referenced false gods.  The change to their names was just another way to submerge them into the Babylonian culture and get them further away from God. 

This then reminded me of cult practices now.  Their intention is to pull you as far away from society and outside influences so that the brainwashing is more effective.  Some people view Christianity as a cult, but as I was thinking down this path I realized that being a Christian is the exact opposite of being in a cult.  A cult will intentionally close themselves off from the world, while a Christian is called to bring the Gospel message to all the world!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Daniel - Week 1: Day 3

Day 3 - The Power of Training

The concept of today's homework leads us back to when we were teenagers.  How easily were you influenced as a teenager?  I pretty much stayed out of any real trouble, but certainly pushed some limits - mostly with rebelling against my parents!  I was influenced by my peers, but thankfully most of them had their heads on pretty straight too!

Now that you have reminded yourself of what it was like to be a teenager, think now of Daniel, who was probably only 15 when they were taken captive into Babylon.  The following verses tell us about how Daniel and his friends were selected...

Daniel 1:3-4  Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, who was in charge of the palace officials, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah's royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. "Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men," he said. "Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good sense, and have the poise needed to serve in the royal palace. Teach these young men the language and literature of the Babylonians.
These young men were from royal and noble families so they were likely used to some form of comfort and privilege.  However, not anything like the luxury they were now in!  As I think back to my teenage days I think of the few families that were wealthier than the rest of us.  They had bigger and nicer houses, nicer clothes, and all the reallly cool stuff.  Their houses were the ones that we always wanted to hang out in!!  But this was nothing compared to the luxury of what we saw as we watched our favorite celebrities on MTV!!!

Ok, so I think we get that the luxury was an influence, but what about the training they were to receive? Verse 5 tells us they were to be trained for 3 years, so from about age 15 - 18 years old!  They were trying to replace God and the Hebrew culture with the training in the gods and culture of Babylon.

If you know me, then you know that we do home preschool with our three kids. I have my very own built in preschool class with a 4 year old and 3 year old twins!!!  We have often been asked if we will continue to homeschool and the answer is that we simply have not decided.  But what about how we are teaching them and what we are teaching them?  We are the biggest influence on them right now.  That, of course, will change soon enough and they will be most influenced by their friends and we will "know nothing".  

As I was doing today's homework I started to think about what my kids will be like as teenagers.  Will they be leaders or followers, how easily will they be influenced by their friends, what sort of kids will they be friends with?  As these thoughts were so fresh on my mind,  the study led us to the following verses...

1Timothy 4:7-8  Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives' tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.
Spiritual training in godliness should be the top priority in what we teach our children!  Obviously a topic very far from public school agendas...hmmm one more check in the homeschool column.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Daniel - Week 1: Day 2

Week 1: Day 2 - Ties Between Past and Present

How the book of Daniel is written
One of the reasons I love studies like these is that they show you things that you would never get just by reading your Bible.  Even things that you might not even get by reading the introduction to the book or all the notes in a study Bible.  This is simply fascinating...

Parts of Daniel were written in Hebrew and some in Aramaic.  The quotes are portions of the quote from Edward J. Young used in the workbook.
 
Hebrew portion 1:1-2:4 and 8:1-12:13 ""...used in those portions which interpret for the Hebrews the meaning of the visions of the world empires."

Aramaic portion 2:4-7:28 "... Aramaic being the language of the world is used...to outline the future history of the the worldly empires and their relation to the people of God


This different writing style reminds me of how the gospels have different writing styles, depending on who the primary audience was:
Matthew - written to a Jewish audience
Mark - written to a Roman audience
Luke - written to a Greek audience
John - written to Christians


The Snare of Friendly Captivity

Isaiah 39:1-8 shows us what happened because Hezekiah was comfortable and let his guard down.  His actions led to the prophecy that the Israelites would be taken into captivity.

We too can be easily drawn in.  The enemy knows our weaknesses and will put things before us that appear to make us comfortable.  When we are comfortable we let our guard down and it becomes easier for the enemy to really get intrenched into our lives, drawing us further and further away from living a godly life.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Experiencing God, Unit 5 - Day 5

Unit 5 - God Speaks, Part 1

Day 5 - God Speaks Through Prayer

I think that too often prayer is just us speaking to God.  But do we listen as well?  Prayer should go both ways.  It is the way that God speaks to us, so when we talk to and listen to God then we have two way communication.  We have fellowship.

In the workbook, the author told a story that I thought was a fantastic analogy of how God uses prayer, so I will simply quote it here:

For his sixth birthday, my oldest son Richard was old enough to have a bicycle.  I looked all around for a bicycle.  I found a blue Schwinn, I bought it and hid it in the garage.  Then I had a task - to convince Richard that he needed a blue Schwinn bike.  For the next little while, we began to work with Richard.  Richard decided that what he really wanted for his birthday was a blue Schwinn bike.  Do you know what Richard got? Well, the bike was already in the garage.  I just needed to convince him to ask for it.  He asked for it, and he got it!

What happens when you pray? The Holy Spirit knows what God has "in the garage". It is already there.  The Holy Spirit's task is to get you to want it  - to get you to ask for it.  What will happen when you ask for things God alreasy want to give or do? You will always receive it.  Why? Because you have asked according to the will of God.  When God answers your prayer, He gets the glory and your faith is increased.

 Need I say more!  Well, maybe a little more...

Romans 8:26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

We don't even know how to pray!  Our prayer time should be as much, or even more, listening as it is speaking to God!

Daniel - Week 1: Day 1

Week 1: Day 1 - Not Just a Tale of Two Kings

Goal of the study
Beth Moore states in the workbook that one of the goals of the first part of the series (the first 6 weeks) is to learn how to be like Daniel and "live in an extravagant, excessive culture without being poisoned by it".   And to "develop alarms for Babylon's charms".  Well, that sounds wonderful to me, how about you?


Start with Prayer
A goal of this blog is to grow spiritually through the study of the Word.  Please remember to start your study everyday with prayer! 


Two Kings
The book of Daniel opens with the introduction of two kings.
 - King Jehoiakim is the king of Judah
 - King Nebuchadnezzar is the king of Babylon

by the way, Nebuchadnezzar is much easier to say than to type correctly!  Anyway...

Daniel 1:2 The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah. tells us that God allowed the capitivity of His people.   They had been warned many times to obey God and when they didn't God gave them into captivity.

Obviously we are to obey our God, but this is also a lesson in trusting God.  He follows through with His promises, all of them! We can also trust that if we are in any kind of capitivity He is with us and will deliver us in His time and for His purposes.


Mentality of Babylon

Isaiah 47:8a (NLT) "You are a pleasure-crazy kingdom, living at ease and feeling secure, bragging as if you were the greatest in the world!"

Isaiah 47:10 (NIV) You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.'

These verses of Isaiah are speaking about Bablyon, and are a reflection of our own society.  I thought the term "pleasure-crazy" from the NLT translation was very reflective of our culture.

Verse 10 shows us the mentality of self-absorbtion - it is all about me!  That really is our culture too, isn't it!  It is all about me and what I want, so if I want it I shall have it because I deserve it.  It doesn't matter if it is not beneficial to me or others, I want it and will not give it a second thought.  It is mine, even if I cannot afford it I will just charge it! 

This culture is certainly out of control.  Bankrupty and foreclosure have become an acceptable way to get out of debt.  I read an article recently (unfortunately cannot give credit to where it was) that talked about a young woman who had managed to acculumulate nearly $100,000 in student loans.  Can you imagine!  Why does our society place such an importance on going to the very best schools.  Is she smarter or better prepared for the world than if she had gone to a less expensive school?  Obviously not, she certainly is not in a financial position to start her life comfortably and she certainly is not making a 6-figure salary or even working in her the profession she went to school for!!

But the thing about the article that really caught my attention was that she was not able to get out from all this debt because student loans are exempt from bankruptcy.  What! Our society is so out of control that bankruptcy is so common that student loans have protection.  How many people with student loans claimed bankruptcy before this type of debt was given protection?  Makes my head spin!


Friendly Captivity
In the session 1 video, Beth Moore talked about Babylon being a friendly captivity.  This reflects our society as well, we can pretty much get anything we want.  It is way too easy to become absorbed in this culture and overtaken with it.  But we can learn from Daniel because he resisted his friendly captivity on purpose!

Daniel - Session 1

I just previewed the Session 1 video from Beth Moore's Daniel study!  I am very excited about it and can hardly wait for the rest of the ladies in the group to see it.  I am so thrilled to be a part of this study and hope the ladies who join me are going to be just as excited to dig deep into God's Word!

I have thought alot about how I would blog about this study and still am not entirely sure how I want to go about this.  I suppose I will take the advice of the other study I am in, Experiencing God - pray and wait, watch to see what happens next!  So I suppose I will simply write about the things that spoke to me the most, sort of the Ah-ha moments of the session.  If I am learning anything from the Experiencing God study it is that those Ah-ha moments are the Holy Spirit!  The more I learn, the more I grow, praise God!

I know that there may be a few people who find this little blog that will not be in the study and therefore not have the workbook.  I hope that I can provide information that is true to the study of the book of Daniel so that you can all learn, with or without the workbook.  That being said, if you are following this blog, I highly recommend you get the workbook.  It will only enrich your study of the Word of God in the book of Daniel.  This is also a perfect opportunity for me to state that I have to give credit to Beth Moore and her study for all the blog posts I will be making.  She is certainly guided by the Holy Spirit and many of the things I will be writing about will come from her, in some cases directly quoting her.  So let's get to it, shall we...

Session 1
The first half of the study will be lessons on character and integrity while the second half is studying prophecy and end time events. This first session is partly an intoduction to the study and also jumps right into the first chapter of Daniel.

Babylon represents the enemy
One of the many things I like about Beth Moore is how she makes the Bible relevant to us in our time.  She made is very clear how Babylon represents our world.  She started by taking us back to Genesis 11 to show how God took Abraham out of "Ur of Chaldeans" which is also Babylon.  However, later in Daniel's time they had been brought back into captivity in Babylon.  Therefore Babylon is a representation of what the enemy wants to do with us.  He wants us back, he wants to bring us back from where God leads us, back to the pit of despair. 

Babylon represents our society
Babylon also represents our society in many ways.  Isaiah 47 is about Babylon and in verse 8 states the mentality of Babylon "'I am, and there is none besides me."  This is also the mentality of our current society.  People can be so self-absorbed and only concerned about themselves.

Even though the time period of Daniel is about 605 BC, we can see our society very clearly in the first chapter of Daniel.

Daniel 1:4 "Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men," he said. "Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good sense, and have the poise needed to serve in the royal palace. Teach these young men the language and literature of the Babylonians.
The king only wanted the smart, young and beautiful.  Our society places high importance on these attributes as well.  We need only look to marketing tactics of tv commercials and the front pages of magazines in the grocery aisle to see what our society values.

Daniel 1:5 The king assigned them a daily ration of the best food and wine from his own kitchens.
They were provided with the best of the best - overindulgence.  Much like our society that has access to anything your heart desires - just charge it!  Our society is overindulged and out of control.

So then, what influence does our society have on us? How can we resist becoming self-absorbed?


Daniel's Resolve

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.
Daniel was under the law, given to us in the Old Testament, so there would have been foods provided to him that were considered unclean.  By eating those foods he would have been corrupted, or defiled.  To apply this to our society we need to be like Daniel and recognize those things that will corrupt.  How do we know when to draw the line on the over indulgence of our society. We need to look to the Word for the answers...

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
We are a part of this world, but we do not need to be corrupted by it.  Focus on God.

A lesson in the Food
I am always fascinated by word studies and finding the meaning of a word in the original language.  Verse 12 has an interesting meaning and lesson...

Daniel 1:12 Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.
The Hebrew word for vegetables is zeroa which means "that which grows from sown seed".  This would include not only vegetables, but fruits and grains and breads made from grains. 

The lesson in this comes from 1Corinthians 6:12 where Paul is teaching on the law and how we have been released from the law.
1Corinthians 6:12 "Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial.
Even though we do not live by the law, not everything is good for us.  We can be absorbed by our culture or we can learn to recognize those things that are not beneficial to us so we can avoid them - so we resolve to not be defiled by the world we live in.

Commitment
During the session Beth Moore was very clear, in a way that only she can, that this was not an invitation to a diet of vegetables and water.  However, she had the thought that it was an opportunity to have a physical symbol of commitment to the study of Daniel.  She offered an invitation to join her in an exercise of restraint.  She would be avoiding rich meats for the first half, or 6 weeks of the study.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to go on another junk food fast and avoid chips, chocolate, candy and (oh boy, dare I say) fries! There I said it, so now I have to do it!  What will you avoid, what do you need to excercise restraint with, something you eat, drink, watch, say? What will be a sacrifice to you, but you know will be beneficial to you to avoid?

Whew! I think I have covered the highlights of session 1 that spoke to me the most.  Will you make a commitment to follow me through the end of this study?  I pray that you will.