Tag Archives: Bible Study

This is the Art I Live Everyday

Have you ever had one of those moments when you were just completely and utterly overwhelmed by the Gospel?

By its truth, by its fullness, by its richness, by its completeness, by its beauty, by its perfection?

Last night, I had just such a moment.

Yesterday was my birthday (yes, my birthday is on Halloween), and it had been a pretty wonderful day full of life-giving words and thoughtful blessings from friends and family. I mean, my brother wrote me a poem. In Middle English. More-or-less about the Sovereignty of God. Which I love! And he mailed it to me on stationary. He also included a Starbucks gift card…he knows me well.

I’m a words girl. Word of affirmation is my love language. My heart was full!

this is the art i live everyday

But as I arrived at Bible Study last night, I had no idea how my heart would be so full to overflowing by the end of the evening.

To begin with, my Bible Study group of women that I love dearly surprised me with a cake…complete with candles, y’all! And when I say I was surprised, I am so not kidding. I did not see that one coming!

But then as we continued our study of John (we’re on our third consecutive semester, Precept style), as we looked carefully at John 14 and how through Jesus Christ we have full and total access to God the Father, I was literally blown away by the truth and the reality of the Gospel.

I know this sounds ridiculously simple and basic, but this Gospel is just so eternally complete and perfect.

And to realize that we can’t DO anything to be saved through this Gospel, that all that is required of us is to ask and believe, yet it compels us, out of pure love and devotion, to know Christ, to trust Him, to please Him, to obey Him (because obedience is HIS love language)?

I can barely even begin to wrap my mind around it! It’s just THAT good!

So I found myself praying this prayer…

God,
We know You are good, and You are faithful, and You are true.
Thank You for loving us first.
Thank You for providing the way of confident and sure access to Your throne.
And thank You for that way not being an accident nor a surprise to You.
You have a purpose and a plan from beginning to end.
And we know it is perfectly complete … carefully crafted and thought out and executed.
And we praise You for that!
Thank you for Your presence that goes before us and walks with us.
Help us in our everyday as we lean into You, as we trust You, as we follow You, as we obey You.
Thank you for Your radical grace. Thank You for Your presence. Thank You for the new covenant through Your Son, Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice.
May the truth of Your Gospel never cease to overwhelm and amaze!
Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief!
In Christ’s Name,
Amen

This Gospel.

THIS is the art I live everyday!

“Every step we are breathing in Your grace.
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise.
You are faithful, God, You are faithful.”
– Never Once by Matt Redman

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we-will-make-art

*linking up with Emily P. Freeman of chatting at the sky for we will make art*

Crazy Love

crazy love

And just like that, with a weekend trip to Northern Virginia and some poor planning thrown into the mix, this supposed-to-be-up-on-Friday post turned into a Saturday post.

But before I headed the 6.5ish hours north yesterday, one of the Bible Study groups that I’m in this semester met Thursday evening to discuss chapters 5 & 6 of Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

Towards the end of a great discussion about the central themes of the chapters including following Christ with our all, desiring an intimate relationship with Him first, loving Him above all else, being willing to give up everything in pursuit of Him, and selflessly serving and loving His people as a result of our love for Him, as our conversation shifted to acknowledging we can’t do any of this on our own, someone said this:

“Asking God to help you love others is a really scary prayer.”

And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since.

Yes, asking for God’s help to love others is scary. Because we know He’s a God who hears and answers our prayers.

And praying that particular prayer requires much of us. It requires that we set aside our own selfish desires for His glory, and it requires a willingness to obey when He makes His answer obvious. But scary or not, oh, how I want that to be the prayer of my heart. I want to love well and love more. And I need Him to do it.

“Is loving God – and, by extension, loving people – what you are about? … Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives.” (Crazy Love, p. 102 & 104)

Photo of the Week: Thirty Five

This past Saturday, I spent most of the day watching the Living Proof Live Simulcast 2012 from my home office (and yes, I was totally in my pajamas) … hearing Beth Moore teach a powerful message straight from the Word (from 2 Kings 4, to be exact) and being led in worship by Travis Cottrell. The message of recognizing our desperate need for the Lord whether we have almost nothing or almost everything, of putting faith back into our faithfulness, and of overcoming fear with faith was such a blessing and a timely exhortation. Such a God thing!

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“The Lord speaks; many, many women spread the good news.” – Psalm 68:11

Photo of the Week: Thirty Two

This past weekend, I spent all day Friday and Saturday in a Bible Study Leader’s Training Workshop with Precept Ministries. So, Thursday night I spent some sweet time in the Word in my hotel room finishing one of the homework assignments: an overview of 2 Thessalonians … with a caramel frappuccino from Starbucks for good measure.

It was a fabulous weekend filled with good teaching, powerful truths, and sweet connections. Such a God thing!

——

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

2 Thess. 3:5

 

Discouragement, Zombies, & Truth

It’s been a hard few days. Not exactly bad, but hard.

I ended last week completely, mind-numbingly, feel-like-a-zombie exhausted. Then on Sunday afternoon, as I was finalizing preparations to teach a Bible Study lesson on marriage last night (which as a single, is not exactly my area of expertise), I was battling some intense and inexplicable frustration. Then yesterday, as the pace of incoming work was so insane that I could barely keep up and my mind could barely process the cases that needed attention, I was left feeling overwhelmed. And bonus, my fridge died (gross!) and this morning I had an oh-so-fun orthodontist appointment that ended with my orthodontist saying to his assistant, “Stop. This isn’t going to work and we don’t want to hurt her or pop the bracket off or make her teeth any more sore. We’ll just finish it next time…”

In short, I have been dealing with some fierce and pervasive discouragement.

But y’all, in the moments when the zombie-like exhaustion and crippling discouragement have threatened to take over, God has repeatedly shown up (as if He ever left…)!

Not in dramatic or everything-immediately-becomes-so-much-better-and-easier ways, but in ways soft and subtle and full of truth

Through the prayers and assistance of a sweet new friend at just the right time,

Through the constant reminders to pray when I have felt most out of control (just to be clear, that is NOT my typical first reaction, and the conviction in this regard has been poignant),

Through an encouraging Valentine’s Day card from the preschool ministry at church,

Through a thought-provoking and meaningful night of Bible Study despite the prior frustration and feelings of inadequacy, which ultimately led me to wholehearted dependence on Christ (which, ironically, was a huge emphasis in the study in regards to striving for a Biblical marriage),

Through a “Happy Valentine’s Day” text from a dear friend,

And even through a Skinny Mocha from Starbucks.

Yes, the past several days may have been hard and I may have been battling discouragement, but God is faithful and loving and SO good, and by His grace, I am not in this battle alone!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

It’s Not About Me

Sometimes, I think way too highly of myself.

Although not necessarily a conscious choice, in practice, I tend to [wrongly] assume that others should do things in my way, on my timeline, and to my standard.  In short, I tend to assume that everything should revolve around me.

But that whole mentality could not be further from the truth.

 

 

My women’s Monday night Bible Study just recently completed Kay Arthur’s Precept study on Covenant.  Although there were several aspects of this study that left a deep impact, one of the themes that stood out the most was the clarity of the big picture.

 

Ultimately, this study pointed us (again and again) to the Covenant relationship we have entered with Jesus Christ…

 

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead

the great Shepherd of the sheep

through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,

equip you in every good thing to do His will,

working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ,

to whom be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

Hebrews 13:20-21 (New American Standard Bible)

 

…but throughout the entire 11 lesson study, while pouring over the details of the Abrahamic, Noahic, and Davidic covenants, and of ancient near eastern covenants in general, we were also led to see this beautiful, awesome, compelling, and powerful Covenant in the context of God’s “big picture” story.

 

Tracing the beginning of the Covenant promise back to the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis all the way to the promises in the book of Revelation, while coming to a greater understanding of the details, we also observed how faithful God was (and is) to His Covenant promises throughout the span of thousands of years.

And it’s from that perspective that I have found myself becoming intimately and acutely aware of the reality that I am one, small, miniscule part of that big picture.

 

Recently, I have spent a considerable amount of time contemplating, studying about, and praying over the difference between my dreams and my God-given callings, how to reconcile the two if/when different, and as a result, how to discern where God is leading.  It has been awesome (in the truest sense of the word). And it has been hard.  And in some ways has left me with more questions than answers.

But through this study of Covenant, the one over-arching, all-encompassing truth I keep returning to is this:

 

It’s not about me.

 

And in considering my dreams and God’s calling for my life, I have come to the realization that I have allowed the sins of fear and pride to advance and have therefore allowed myself to think that if I take a wrong turn in discerning God’s calling, I have somehow not only thwarted, but completely and utterly ruined His eternal plan.  

 

Umm. . .not likely!

 

Do I participate in the covenant relationship? Yes.

Does it require certain things of me? Absolutely.

But does it depend on me? No.

 

When I allow myself to become all-out consumed by what MY dreams are and what MY calling is and what MY direction should be (not that those aren’t good things to consider), I lose sight of what GOD is purposing and where GOD is calling and how GOD is leading.

So, I am beginning to not only realize, but take hold of, that the best thing I can do to discover and stay true to my God-given calling (which by the way, I don’t think I’ve really discovered…at least not in full…I’m sort of on the one-step-at-a-time plan), is to keep:

 

 my heart grounded in the truth of the Lord,

my soul in a constant state of unwavering trust in His promises,

my mind focused on Him alone,

and the strength of my whole being seeking hard after HIM.

 

Because it’s not about me.

But it is all about Him.

And He is faithful.

Do you trust the truth of that promise?

Favorite Devotional

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

James 4:8 (English Standard Version)

I have read and interacted with a variety devotionals (and devotional-type materials) over the past several years.  Some have been great and others have left something to be desired, but I’d like to think that at least most of them share a common motivation:

 

To encourage the reader into a deeper relationship with Christ

through a brief challenge from His Word

that results in further study, reflection, and change.

With that purpose in mind, one devotional has so significantly challenged me that I find myself going back to it over and over again:

 

My Utmost for His Highest

By Oswald Chambers

Organized into a 365 day format, the short daily readings (which were compiled by his wife after his death) convey a message of the absolute truth found in God’s Word, passionate conviction, and a sincere love for people.

While I do have (and often refer to) this “updated edition” in “today’s language”…

 

 

I actually very much enjoy the older version as well.  Something about the complexity of sentence structure and depth of words not often used continues to captivate me.

 

What devotionals have been the most meaningful to you?

**09.16.11 Update: If you’re here from Kelly’s Korner Show Us Your Life: Favorite Bible Studies/Devotion Books, welcome! I am constantly involved in and/or leading Bible Studies and could name several that have both challenged my faith and assisted in deepening my walk with the Lord. A couple of other devotional-type books I would highly recommend are Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon and The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of Puritan prayers. 

One of my favorite Bible Studies continues to be Beth Moore’s A Heart Like His based on the life of David. I also reference three of Kay Arthur’s Bible Studies here, here, and here.

Ultimately, though, some of the best, richest, deepest and most challenging Bible Studies I have ever been a part of are the ones where a group of us have gotten together (usually over coffee…) and just studied God’s Word. . .reading Scripture verse-by-verse, asking countless questions, praying for wisdom from the Holy Spirit, seeking answers from trusted commentaries, and committing ourselves to simply seeking after and knowing God.**