Tag Archive for Bible Study

Samson’s Slow Fade (and us)

Our Bible study yesterday was over Samson, and Beth Moore really brought it a live in a way I had never seen it before. But what I really got out of it, was a lesson on how slowly your passion for God can fade.

Samson’s Slow Fade

Samson was born into a Nazarite vow. He was set apart for God, and God’s Spirit stirred Him. Yet he slowly faded away from his vow. It started when he wanted his own way (Judges 14:3), then he broke part of his vow (14:6) and kept it a secret. And then he shared his sin with his parents without letting them know (14:9). It just began a slow fade as he broke one part of his vow after another, becoming prideful and full of conceit, until finally, he didn’t even notice when the spirit of God left him (16:20). Yet in the end, when Samson called out to God, God came back to him (16:28). And that is a powerful message.

(You can read Samson’s story in Judges 13-16.)

Samson in Us

As I was learning about Samson, I couldn’t help but think, “Not me. I would NEVER do that, say that, etc.” But even if we aren’t so blatant about our sinfulness and pride as Samson was, I do think we are just like him at the heart of it. At least I am.

I might never mock God by making a riddle out of my sin, but I do still sin.

I haven’t taken the Nazarite vow, but there are still things that I know are good for my relationship with God that I take for granted, and you probably do, too. What starts out as innocent can turn into a slow fade of our passion for Christ.

Maybe one day we wake up late and make the decision to skip our quiet time. We make it through the day okay, and get back into our routine the next day, but then it starts happening more and more often, until we look back and say, “I use to read my Bible…”

And it’s not just Bible reading. It could be with prayer, or anything really. Maybe you make a conscious decision to do something that you know God wouldn’t approve of, but you are just so mad, or excited, or whatever, that you really don’t care in the moment. The next time, it’s that much easier to do the same thing, and slowly we slip away from our great God.

One day we look back and say, “I use to be on fire for God… what happened?”

It’s a slow fade and it can happen to any of us.

Restoration

My favorite part of Samson’s story is the ending. Not the death, or his need for revenge, but the fact that when he called out to God, God heard him.

As long as we have breath, it’s not too late to call out to God.

“Draw me close to You, LORD! Fill me with Your love!”

It’s a slow fade when we lose our passion for God, but He can ignite the fire again in an instant, and we can stoke it to burn continually.

God is good.

I Shall Live

You may or may not have heard of Beth Moore’s Siesta Scripture Memory Team, but I’m taking part in it this year and loving it. The basis behind it is that you memorize two verses a month (on the first and fifteenth). Psalm 118:17 is my second verse for this month, and while I know I’ve read the entire Bible, I don’t remember really seeing this verse before yesterday, but it has hit me hard.

“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
~ Psalm 118:17
(ESV – emphasis mine)

This verse stirs me in a way I can barely express through words. Before Jesus, we were dead in our transgressions, separated from God, but because of Him, we shall live. He has given us a new life (Romans 6:4), and the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Because of Christ, we can live not only in eternity, but we can live a full life here on earth bringing glory to our Savior. We can share about His mighty works. And not only that, but He can live through us and in us through the person of the Holy Spirit.

 John 10:10 says, “A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I (Jesus) came to give you life–life that is full and good.”

Jesus came to give us life. Not just air to breathe, but one where we actively live a life according to what He has called us to. Colossians 3:1 says, “You were raised from death with Christ. So live for what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the righthand of God.”

Jesus didn’t just give us life, He gave us something to live for.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

 Live

A Lack of Trust

Do you ever have issues trusting other people?

I was reading through Philemon the other day and was astounded at Paul’s confidence that Philemon would honor his wishes. I kept thinking, if I were Philemon, would I be quick to forgive the runaway slave, or would I punish him more because he got one of my friends involved? (Not that I believe in slavery, but if I were wronged and the person who wronged me went to a friend, would I be quick to forgive?)

As I re-read the passage, I stopped at the verses where Paul thanks God for Philemon. He had reason to have confidence in Philemon, because he had heard about his love for God and all the saints. Those who love are quick to forgive. They hold no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5).

A Lesson from PhilemonBut not all of us are like that.

Not all of us are quick to forgive, and often we do hold a record of wrongs.

Even with Paul’s confidence in Philemon, and the testimony of his love, I still find myself wondering how that story ended. How did Philemon receive Onesimus? Did he welcome him as a beloved brother in Christ? Did he send him back to Paul? Did he punish him for running away? We don’t know how the story ends, but it still speaks to my heart.

The overpowering question is, does it matter?

Does it matter how the story ends?

If Paul did the right thing, does it matter if Philemon was obedient. Obviously it would have mattered to Onesimus, but what if it wasn’t a person involved? Does the trustworthiness of someone else matter when it comes to doing the right thing?

Should we let our lack of trust in others keep us from offering help where we can?

Often times we justify not aiding others, because we don’t have faith in them as people. We doubt their sincerity or motives. Yet I’m convicted that the right thing is still the right thing, even if we don’t share the confidence Paul had in Philemon. Who knows, maybe our ability to love others could lead them to Christ.

And maybe, just maybe, Paul’s confidence wasn’t in Philemon at all, but in our great God.

Maybe it’s not about whether we trust people or not, but whether we believe God can use all things for His glory.

Will I still be tempted to doubt people? Probably. But it’s whether we allow that doubt to control our actions that matters.

In Case of Emergency…

1334367_53053749Years ago, I came across a unique set of “Emergency Numbers.” Instead of listing the police and fire station, they referenced Scriptures. I loved it so much, I wrote them all in the front of one of my Bibles.

Why am I telling you this?

We wrapped up our study through Hebrews 11 last week, it was a little early, but it was complete. So for this week, I put together some “Emergency Procedures” to look at.

I think it’s important to turn to God when we face problems of all different shapes and sizes. After all, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) and “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

God doesn’t promise us a perfect life as Christians. We will still face heart ache, pain, sickness, and life on earth, but we can do it with Him by our side, with His help, and He can make it bearable.

Emergency Procedures

In case of emergency contact God.
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
Including weekends and holidays

In case of worry, find: Psalm 56:3 or Psalm 23:4

In case of stress, dial: Galatians 1:10 and Psalm 62:1-2

In case of pain, look up: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Psalm 69:29, and/or 2 Corinthians 4:16

If you are lost, call on: Psalm 46:10, Matthew 7:7-8, and Proverbs 3:5-6

When you are insecure, contact: Hebrews 10:35-36, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Proverbs 3:26, and 1 Thessalonians 5:24

What other emergency references would you add to this list?

Share your answer in the comments below!

 

Want to download the PDF? Click here

Did you like this list? You can find several more lists of Scriptures to live by here.

Faith Promises

I was up in the middle of the night last night with my elderly dog. And while I was waiting for him to finish his business outside, I decided to scroll through Facebook on my phone (horrible idea, I know). It just so happens that I came across two different posts that related to today’s study. They were both about faith (or a lack of faith) in the promises of God. So today, I wanted to cover some of the things God has promised us, and a few of the things He hasn’t…

5 Promises from God

1. The Holy Spirit

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,
to be with you forever…”

~ John 14:16

2. God Is Our Strength

“…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

~ Isaiah 40:31

3. Our Needs Will Be Met

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

~ Philippians 4:19

4. Nothing Can Separate Us From The Love of God

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ Romans 8:37-39

5. Eternal Life

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ Romans 6:23

3 Things We Aren’t Promised

1. Everything We Ask For

Philippians 4:19 says God will supply for all of our needs, not all of our wants. James 4:3 says that when we ask and don’t receive, it’s because we ask with the wrong motives. God isn’t a magic genie. We can’t just rub the prayer lamp and have all of our wishes fulfilled. The God of the “Name it and Claim it” gospel isn’t the God of the Bible.

2. Health, Wealth, and Happiness

The prosperity Gospel is prominent in America today. Preachers tell us that God wants us to be happy, that if we give enough money, that we will be blessed beyond measure. But that isn’t found in the Bible.

Preachers will often refer to Jeremiah 29:11 where God promises the Israelites that He has a plan to prosper them. However, most prosperity preachers leave out that the people he makes that promise to all die in captivity. He had a plan to prosper their people after they died for their disobedience. It was a multigenerational promise that included 70 years of captivity.

In all actuality, God promised us that in this world we would have trouble (John 16:33), that we would face persecution (John 15:18-20), and that true riches are heavenly, not earthly (Matthew 6:19-20).

3. Works-based Salvation

Romans 6:23 promises eternal life as the gift of God. It isn’t something we can earn. There isn’t a certain threshold of sin that God tolerates before condemning someone to Hell. All sin has the same punishment, whether you tell a little white lie or go on a shooting rampage. Your only hope is the free gift of God through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no penance you can pay to get into Heaven. There is nothing you can avoid. None of us are good enough to get into Heaven on our own. We all need Jesus.

==> You can download this week’s study sheet here

 

Faithfully Persecuted

For week seven of our study through Hebrews 11, we are looking at prophets and martyrs. While there were several Old Testament examples listed in verse 32, we don’t have to look back at all to see people being martyred for their faith. There is a mass martyrdom going on in Syria, and countless others that don’t always make the news. But being persecuted for your faith doesn’t always mean you are killed.

Here in the US, Christian businesses are being persecuted for not supplying birth control to their employees and refusing to cater to homosexual weddings. But honestly, we often don’t even need to look outside of our own lives to see persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” So if you are not seeing persecution in your life, you might want to look at why not. Below, I have listed some of the ways normal Christians (whatever that means) can see persecution in their lives.

3 Ways Christians Can Be Persecuted in Everyday Life

1. Rejection

This is the most common way Christians are persecuted in everyday life in the United States. We are rejected by our families, shunned by our friends, and often excluded by people that could be wonderful friends if they gave us a chance.

2. Slander

Christians are often misunderstood. There are blanket statements that are applied to everyone who calls themselves a Christian, that aren’t necessarily true. Some people assume that because we are Christians, that we are intolerant, self-righteous, and hateful. And many times people aren’t afraid to say these things about us, even if they don’t know us.

3. Bullying and Peer Pressure

Sometimes we feel rejected because we aren’t invited to a party or event we wouldn’t have wanted to go to anyway, but often times, that is better than the alternative. Christians often face bullying and peer pressure. It can seem like the world wants to test our faith and convictions.

 

How do you see persecution in your life?

==> You can download this week’s study sheet here

 

Faith Lessons

This week in Hebrews, we are looking at the faith of the Israelites. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the faith involved in crossing the Red Sea, bringing down the walls of Jericho, and the way faith changed the life of Rahab.

As I read about the faith involved in the lives of these people, two things stood out to me above everything else

1. God is Faithful

2 Timothy 2:13 says:

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.”

Sometimes, being faithful to what God is calling us to do is scary, or it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I can’t help but wonder how many of the Israelites knew how to swim. If you have ever met someone with a fear of water, walking through the Red Sea, even on dry ground, would have terrified them. Okay, I know how to swim, and it probably would have terrified me! That gigantic wall of water on both sides. You would have had to have a lot of faith to believe that God would (and could) hold it that way until you were safely to the other side. And this was a sea – not a creek. There wouldn’t be the option to run real fast so you make it across quickly. It took some time, and a whole lot of faith (or fear).

Walking around a city for seven days probably seemed a little foolish so some. But the Israelites faithfully did it. They trusted that God knew what He was doing, and they followed through. And God did just what He promised to do, even if there were a few skeptics in the bunch.

Our God is an Awesome God

2. Faith is Powerful

Rahab is the one that I was most impressed with this week, though.  She wasn’t originally an Israelite. She was a prostitute who lived in Jericho and had heard about the LORD, and believed that He had given the Israelites the land. So she acted out of that faith and it not only saved her life, but changed her life. She became an Israelite, married Salmon, and became the father of Boaz, a forefather of Jesus.

Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

So while faith might not always be easy or make a lot of sense, it changes things and changes us.

How has faith changed your life?

==> You can download this week’s study sheet here

 

A Life of Faith

This week in Hebrews, we are look at the life of Moses. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the faith of Jochebed, Moses, and the Israelites during the Passover.

As I read about the faith involved in the lives of these people, several different things stood out to me.

4 Lessons for the Faithful

#1. God doesn’t always make life easy for those who have faith in Him.

Jochebed could have cursed God for allowing the Egyptians to kill all of the Israelite babies, but she didn’t. She had faith in Him to protect her son. She placed her hope in Him, even when the world said that was foolish.

#2. There is a right way and a wrong way to stand up for what we believe in.

I firmly believe that Moses had the best intentions when he killed the Egyptian, but that probably wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. Granted, this was before the 10 commandments were given, so I guess we can’t hold it against him.

#3. Faith doesn’t have to be blind.

Yes, Moses took God at His Word, but he also asked a lot of questions. He didn’t just say yes right off the bat, he took the time to understand his mission and his role. I wonder if we don’t get frustrated so often with our callings… okay, if I don’t get frustrated so often with what I know God is calling me to do, because I don’t stick around to get the details. I just get the first sentence and run with it.

#4. Faith doesn’t mean fearless, and it’s certainly not something you can do half-way.

When I think of the first passover, while they were sitting there in their homes with their children, I would have been terrified. I would have double and triple checked that we had followed all of God’s commandments regarding the preparation of the passover to protect my oldest son at all costs. And having the angel of death come past my door, I probably would have fainted. It would have been terrifying.

Can you imagine if one of the Israelites would have said, “Oh, God’s a good guy, surely He’ll protect us even if we don’t have our sandals on and our belts tucked in. I mean, really, who eats while they are holding their staff?!”

No. They wouldn’t have done that. Not at the risk of their children. Yet so often today, we essentially say the same thing. We say, “Oh, God’s a good guy, surely He’ll let us into heaven, even if we don’t love our neighbors as our selves. I mean, really, who prays for those who mistreat them?!”…Just something to think about.

I want to leave you with my current SSMT memory verse:

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

James 4:17 (NIV)

==> You can download this week’s study sheet here

In the comments…

Which of the four things that stood out to me in this weeks study makes the biggest impact on you? Why?

Share it in the comments below.

 

Multi-generational Faith

This week in Hebrews, we are look at the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

All four of these men believed in the same thing.

They all had faith in the same promise.

God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations through his son, Isaac.

Abraham had to believe that promise when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.

He had faith that God was God and would keep His promises, even when it didn’t make sense.

Isaac blessed his children out of faith that God would keep the promise He made to Abraham and make his children prosper.

Jacob blessed Joseph’s children out of that promise, too. Looking back, He saw all that God had done in his life, and had faith that He would work in their lives, too.

And Joseph looked forward and trusted that God would fulfill His promise to Abraham to settle his children in the promised land, even as they made their home in Egypt. He had so much faith that he gave them instructions on what to do when that day finally came.

They believed in a multi-generational promise.

God seems to like those.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God said, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV).

My pastor calls that a coffee cup verse.

We put it up everywhere and love to cling to that promise.

But that was a multi-generational promise, too.

In verse 10, God said, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.”

God would prosper them in seventy years!

Are you that patient?

I’m not.

Many of the people who were going into exile, wouldn’t live to see the return to the promised land.

Here’s a multi-generational promise that God made to us:

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Revelation 1:3

For the time is near.

Jesus is coming back.

He is coming to claim His people and rescue us from this life.

And He is coming soon.

That soon could be tomorrow, or it could be in another 1,000 years, but He is coming.

He promised.

And we know that God keeps His promises.

Our duty is to trust He will fulfill His promises, and pass those promises on to our children, instilling multi-generational faith.

==> You can download this weeks study sheet here

In the comments…

Are you patiently waiting for God to fulfil His promises, or are you impatient (like me)?

Share it in the comments below.

 

Faithfully UnFaithful

This week in Hebrews, we are looking at the faith of Abraham. One thing that sticks out to me the most about his faith, was how unfaithful he was.

Yes, he was really faithful at moments in his life, but at other moments, his faith was completely lacking.

By faith he obeyed God when he was told to go, but he didn’t have faith that God would protect him and his wife in Egypt.

By faith he believed God would give him a son, but he needed proof that he would take possession of the land.

By faith he obeyed God and circumcised his family, but he didn’t have faith that God would protect Sarah in the Negev region.

By faith he started to obey God when he was told to sacrifice his son, but God was faithful and provided a ram for the offering.

Yet the only thing recorded in Hebrews 11 is his faith.

To me, that’s encouraging.

God forgives our failures. 

We aren’t required to have unwavering faith – that’s why Jesus came. God knows we will stumble.

“…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)

In my life, I can remember some moments when my faith was powerful.

When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I had that peace that surpasses all understanding.

When my first husband left me for another woman, my faith in God got me through it.

Yet, I still stumble.

I am far from perfect.

While I am secure that I have an awesome God, I am insecure in my ability to serve Him – and that’s a lack of faith on my part.

I’m working on it, but it’s oh so good to remember that when we are faithless, our God is faithful.

==> You can download this weeks study sheet here

In the comments…

What part of Abraham’s life speaks to you? Share it in the comments below.

 

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