"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Changing as the Spirit Leads

I study my Connect Group lesson all week long before I teach it. I read it on Sunday night, then look over it daily during my quiet time. Then Saturday mornings, I devote at least 3 hours to compile it, I read it out loud and sometimes I get so excited I just have to stand up and give God the glory!

This past week it was all about the authority of God's Word. God's Word being the only book we should search for answers to our problems, answers to questions...and also, if we really want to challenge ourselves...read a portion and dissect it word for word and look the meanings up in the Greek or Hebrew.

I prepared my lesson on the knowledge that the Jewish believers had The Word they knew...the Old Testament. How their parent's made their children--from the age of 5-- memorize the WHOLE Old Testament. And now, in this "New Testament" church, Jewish believers were trying to get the Gentile Believers to adhere to all the laws and rituals that the Jews had, for hundreds of years adhered to (this was their heritage!). After all these hundreds of years it was so difficult...they couldn't conceive how the death of Christ would be an atonement for their sins when the Law that had been set up with Moses had them sacrificing clean animals for their uncleanliness--according to the Word they had memorized.

God, however, put a little 'wrench' in my lesson yesterday. A Jewish woman, who is not a believer came to our class. After she introduced herself... I remembered that I had read a note she had written on one of the first time visitor cards: "I'm Jewish, is it okay if me and my family attend your church?"

...I realized in the middle of my lesson I needed to change my verbiage. I didn't need to soften the Bible's truth, but I needed to allow God to use Truth in the only way He could...and I needed to step aside and just be quiet.

As I'm talking about Paul admonishing Timothy to stop the Jewish people from forcing the Gentiles into circumcision (because the Jews said that that was the only way they would/could receive the Holy Spirit---and that would be evidence that they had received the Holy Spirit) God put a picture in my mind of the torn curtain in the tabernacle. Man performed circumcisions...God Himself ripped the veil.

I was able to take what could have been a very hurtful (Ouida-made) explanation of the Jews behavior and demonstrate through God's illustration of the torn veil, how the old laws had been replaced with the new "Covenant". . . How God allowed His son to come to earth to tear away the old traditions, rules & regulations and become the only atonement necessary for sins. The veil between God and man had been ripped and now the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ took away the "necessity" of the many laws and sacrifices of the Covenant made with Moses. Jesus IS the New Covenant. I explained that this was a new thing for these Jewish believers...having been 'steeped' in tradition for all these hundreds of years... but also, we needed to look at their traditions too, to better understand the brevity of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

We need to be more family oriented like the Jewish people...more traditional in our 'rituals (prayer, family study time, quiet time, bible study)' and less legalistic about rules and regulations that have nothing to do with a true relationship with the Sacrificial Lamb of God.

And we need to seek Truth. Truth...the person of Jesus Christ. Seeking Truth just on Sundays isn't going to fulfill us. Truth everyday... then Truth will certainly set us free from traditions, rules & regulations.

Was any of that in my lesson plan? No. But... it was in God's plan!

She left our class excited...one of the ladies in the class had given her "A New Believer's Bible" and she held that Bible like we should hold the Word of God...like a treasure.

I have so much to teach and so much to give----but I have so much more to learn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Humbleness on the side, please.

It's amazing to me how life weaves patterns that we don't see until God unveils them and it's only then we see how it all fits together.

I decided to take a course in our "University Life" on Wednesday Nights called "Essential Ministry Leadership". It is being taught by two men in our church who also work for a ministry called The Institute of Biblical Leadership... www.iblministry.org

Actually the key take-aways from their course is that God wants certain essentials in His leaders and we need to be willing to capture our heart's thoughts regarding our own life and ministry.

These men travel around the country helping church leadership 'grow up'. Now, those are my words, because that is what I'm seeing in myself as I take their course. I need to grow up.

My prayer this year is that God change my character...and give me the want to to let Him. And WHAM...

A certain person said a major untruth about me in front of some people that I lead as a Sunday School teacher. Just last night I told a dear friend whom I have much confidence in that I wish I could grasp this person around the neck who is causing these problems and give them a much needed shaking.

And then--I hear David Phelan say something like "If your first reaction is to slap the person doing the offending...then you have an integrity problem."

Hm. I got slapped. All I could think was...DANG... WHY CAN'T I GROW UP????

To build a ministry of integrity we must "embrace God's desire with purpose and intent. We must resolve to pursue integrity without consideration to the cost, we must view all relationships and circumstances as being sifted through God's hands and we must honestly define the unique temptations found in public ministry."

I left the class realizing that I have GOT to grow up and be a woman of integrity. I must seek God's face before I react and I must NOT react until I seek God's face.

I need to start seeking God's face about my lack of humility...instead of asking Him to put it aside--to be dealt with later. Would you pray for me?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

18 more days

I continue to read the Bible chronologically and making a note about something that peaked my interest or I discovered.

Jan. 19...God gave Satan permission to challenge Job. "Fire rained down from God in heaven & killed sheep & shepherds." What is that about?

"Should we only accept good things from God and never anything bad?"

Job called God "O Watcher of all Humanity." Another interesting Name of God.

20/21. Job's friends are challenging him for saying he did nothing to warrant what God has allowed to happen to him. With friends like that...who needs enemies?

I can't help but wonder if this is how Joseph felt in prison...he just never recorded it.

22-So his friends are doctors...Job 13:4 Job prays in vs 20 and on...I wonder if God cried as he watched his faithful servant writhe in misery. I wonder if God became angry as Job told him that He destroyed people's hope.

23- "I suffer when I defend myself and I suffer no less if I refuse to speak". Poor Job. "I need someone to mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends."

"My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart's desires are broken."

24-"Even if I have sinned that is my concern, not yours." This is the chapter where the phrase 'skin of my teeth' comes from. Job 19.

25-I knew Job was a righteous man, however I'm wondering if this is the first time he has experienced what the 'poor' experienced and is finally seeing how the other half lives. He now knows loss, hunger, people stealing land borders... And his friends keep yammering.

26-Job 27. Throughout all of his friends' accusations, Job still says "What hope do the godless have when God cuts them off and takes away their life?" I know I've often wondered when going through a tragedy "How do people without God survive these things?" Job's hope was still in God, even with his pain, sadness and 'friends'. "The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding". 28:28

27-Elihu...the 4th friend, younger than the rest challenges Job that no one but God is sinless, perfect and without wrong. He has good points but then again, he's in attack mode.

28-30 Question God long enough...and he will question you!

31- When God says "who" we need to say "It is I." instead of looking for someone else to blame. God rewards honesty. I wonder why God allowed Job's 3 daughter's names to be listed in the Bible but not his sons. Inquiring minds would like to know.

1- Exodus begins about 300 years after Joseph's death. Generations of children have changed things in Egypt. Pharaoh said all boys born to the Israelites are to be thrown in the Nile. Interesting that Moses' mother put him in the same river...in a basket. When Moses was 40 he murdered the Egyptian...and now here he is 80 years old--and meets God in a burning bush. God gives us His ETERNAL NAME: Yahweh. And we continue to see ourselves in Moses' life...he can't believe that God could use him.

2-4 On the way to Egypt at a place where Moses and family had stopped for the night, the Lord confronted him and was about to kill him. [what is this about...just a random verse?]

"Let my people go" seems like every other plague Moses warned Pharaoh, but not about the firstborn.

5-God told them to celebrate this day/event by a 7 day feast. They must present the firstborn of everything to God as a sacrifice. After sacrificing it, they must break it's neck. However God had to put in the rules that they had to buy back each son without wringing his neck. We people are so stupid.

God said "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping His decrees then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you."