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.

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 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.

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

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!

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.

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...

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.


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.
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 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.

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.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Experiencing God, Unit 5 - Day 4

Unit 5, Day 4 - God Speaks Through the Bible

John 10:4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they recognize his voice.

I have always loved this verse describing Jesus as our shepherd.  Have you ever had an animal that was scared and would only come to you when you spoke to it in a calm way?  I have and it is powerful,  that just your voice can make the animal forget its fear because he knows he is safer behind you!  It is the same with Jesus, we follow Him because that is where we are the safest.

As we get to know God we begin to recognize His voice.  The workbook stated that God uses prayer and the Bible together to speak directly to us. Often circumstances and the church, or other believers, will confirm what God is saying.

The workbook also described a sequence that I will list here:
1. You read the Bible
2. The Holy Spirit reveals its truths
3. You adjust your life to those truths
4. You obey
5. God works in and through you to accomplish His purposes.

It all begins with reading the Bible!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Experiencing God - Unit 5, Day 3

Unit 5 - God Speaks, Part 1

Day 3 - God Reveals

Isaiah 55: 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.

We do not think the same way as God, therefore it does not make sense to try to accomplish God's plans in our our ways.  It simply will not work.  Also, if try to do it our way then we are missing out on seeing the mighty power of what God can do!

God's plans must be done by God's ways.  When God is working through us others will see that mighty power and will be drawn closer to God.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Experiencing God - Unit 5, Day 2

Unit 5 - God Speaks, Part 1

Day 2 - God Speaks by the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 3:16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?

The Holy Spirit comes into us when we accept Jesus into our lives.  We cannot understand the Word of God until the Holy Spirit teaches us, through the Holy Spirit the truth is revealed.  Through the Holy Spirit we are encountering God.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Experiencing God - Unit 5, Day 1

Hooray, I have caught up to where I am actually studying in the workbook.  Now I can write a post when I complete each day!

Unit 5 - God Speaks, Part 1

Verse to remember

John 8:47  He who belongs to God hears what God says.  The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.

Do you hear God speaking to you?  If you do not, perhaps it is time to review your relationship with Him.  Where are you going wrong?  What ways can you adjust you life to be in a better position to hear Him when He speaks to you. 

Day 1 - God Speaks in Different Ways

In the Old Testament God spoke in many ways, such as directly to people such as Abraham and Moses, and He also spoke through the prophets.  In the New Testament God spoke through Jesus and then sent the Holy Spirit.  Now God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church.

As we develop our relationship with God He will reveal His will.  He will also reveal His plan and the direction we are to take.  We should pray and wait, learn patience and depend on God's timing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Experiencing God - Unit 4

Unit 4 - Love and God's Invitation

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. 

Because we love Jesus we want to obey His commandments, and the more we obey the closer we come to God.  The closer we come the better we can see Him when he reveals Himself to us.

Day 1 - Know God

In the workbook there is a list of over 300 names, titles, and descriptions for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Below are just a few of those names, titles, and descriptions.  In what ways have you experienced God?  Has he been any of these to you?  As we experience God we come to know Him better!!

my salvation (Ex. 15:2)
my friend (Job 16:20)

Comforter in Sorrow (Jer. 8:18)
a sure foundation (Isa. 28:16)
our guide (Ps. 48:14)
my confidence (Ps.71:5)
my hiding place (Ps. 32:7)
my hope (Ps. 71:5)
bread of life (John 6:35)

light of life (John 8:12)
the good shepherd (John 10:11)
good teacher (Mark 10:17)

Day 2 - Worship God

Have you ever struggled with how to worship God?  It can be as simple as looking to the Word, look for scriptures that praise His name.  Praising his name is worship. The names of God direct you to understand who He is and what He does. 

The workbook gave a long list of scriptures that describe ways you can direct your worship toward God through His names. Listed below are a few of them. 

Sing unto the Lord, bless his name (Ps. 96:2)

Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice (Ps. 105:3)

I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good (Ps. 52:9)

Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name (Ps. 63:4)

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you (Ps. 5:11)

Day 3 - Love God

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

There is a progression shown here: know, love, believe, trust, obey

You come to know God and in turn love Him.  As your love deepens you believe in Him and trust Him.  As a result you happily obey Him.  The reward for our obedience is that He reveals Himself to us.

Day 4 - God Invites You to Join Him

John 5:17 But Jesus replied, "My Father never stops working, so why should I?"

God is at work trying to bring the lost to Himself.  As He reveals Himself to us it is our invitation to join Him in this work.  He will show us where He is at work and how we can join Him.  This is His revelation to us.

Day 5 - Knowing Where God is at Work

Often we ask God to bless us, but this is backwards.  We should not look for how God is going to bless us, instead we should look for how God is revealing where He is at work.  We will be blessed as we join Him in His work.  We are to pray and watch to see what happens, it may be God speaking to us, revealing His plan to us.

Experiencing God - Unit 3

Unit 3 - God Pursues a Love Relationship

Verse to Remember
Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.

Day 1 - Created for a Love Relationship

The following quotes from the workbook say it all.

From page 43 - He created you for a love relationship with Himself.  That is the very purpose of your life.
From page 45 - He wants you to love Him with all your being.  Your experiencing God depends on your having this relationship of love.  A love relationship with God is more important than any other single factor in your life.

God is Love!  He shows us how to love! In the workbook, the task was to emphasize the word love in the following scriptures.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

1John 4:9-10,19 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. We love because he first loved us.

Day 2 - A Love Relationship With God
Matthew 6:31-32 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 

My mom worries about everything, I have even given her scriptures like this to put in her pocket to remind her not to worry. (p.s. mom, quit worrying about whatever you are worrying about!!) I suppose in a way, I learned not to worry because she worries so much. 
Matthew 6:19-21,33 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The more we seek after God the more we come to know Him, to love Him, and become more like Christ.  Rather than spending time worrying about things we have no control over we should instead spend our time in those things that are lasting through to eternal life - enriching our relationship with God!
Day 3 - Walking with God
Any relationship requires time spent together. My hubby and I spent very little time together before we were married. We did however, spend many, many hours on the phone for several months. In those months before we were married, that time on the phone was top priority!  That time gave us a strong foundation.
So if my relationship with God is the most important thing in my life, then I need to make spending time with Him my top priority.  Every moment I spend with Him I come closer to Him.  The closer I get, the more I love Him, the more I love Him the better I can hear and understand Him when He speaks to me.

Day 4 - God Pursues a Love Relationship

Revelation 3:20 Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.

No relationship with God begins without Him making the first move.  He calls to us and we respond.  As He draws us close to Him, He then begins to open our hearts and minds to understanding. 

Day 5 - A Real, Personal, Practical Relationship

If your relationship with God is the most important part of your life, how much of your day and thoughts is He a part of?  Is He only there when you open your bible or devotional?  Is He only there when you need help and we call on Him in prayers of desperation? 

This is the opposite of where we should be.  God is a constant presence so shouldn't He be a part of every aspect of our lives - the good, the bad, and the ugly!  Perhaps if we seek Him more, pursue the relationship more then we can have joy even through those bad and ugly moments.