Saturday, July 31, 2010

Feelings first, solutions second

Welcome back to a Good Bible Study! We are here because we are supposed to receive exactly this message today. What have your discovered about yourself since yesterday? Have you already gotten excited and put any steps into action? Before we go further, let's begin with power, through prayer:

Thank you Lord for bringing us exactly the people we need to be in relationship with at this time, exactly the opportunities that we need to grow and to develop, and exactly the message today that we need to hear. Give us hearts to love you, Lord! In Jesus' name, amen.

At this point in The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, Joyce Meyers suggests we think about what things we have prayed over and asked for a solution, for which we can actually be the solution? Is there anyone in your life that needs help, and you just haven't wanted to get involved, or be inconvenienced by? Sometimes God brings us people in need not just to pray, but because we are the help He intends to provide.

Who are some people that you have prayed over, that you can physically help right now?

What do you now plan to do about it?

If you can't think of anyone, ask God to reveal who He has put in place for you to help, and for you to bless, and ask Him for wisdom in discerning how to best do that. Sometimes it's an obvious answer. If someone is hungry, buy them some groceries; if someone needs help with repairs, get your hammer out and do what you can; you can fill in the blank. Sometimes it's less obvious, but if we spend some time talking it starts to become clear why we are in the path at this particular time.

We often get caught up in not wanting to enable someone with a history of dependence. That's why it's always good to pray first. Listening to someone talk is never a risk. Often, people can come up with their own solutions if we stop trying to fix it and forget it, and just give them a chance to work it out, out loud. Most of us just want to be heard. I always try to remember: feelings first, solutions second.

Lord, if you have given us the opportunity to help others this week, help us to be sensitive to the urging of your Holy Spirit. Help us to help in wisdom and discernment, and most importantly, with generosity. You bless all that we do with a sincere motive of showing love. In the name of Your Son and our Savior, Jesus, amen.

Till tomorrow, love, Karen

Friday, July 30, 2010

Faith in action

Hello, I'm glad you are back with me - it's so good to know we are on this journey together.

Let's begin with prayer so the Holy Spirit can move powerfully in this study, giving us insight and gentle nudges in the right direction: Lord, thank you for bringing us together to study Your Word and Your ways. We ask that Your Holy Spirit direct us in this study. Let each time we meet and seek You in this way, be a life-changing spark of joy, wisdom, and change! In the name of Jesus, amen.

Have you made changes in the way you treat others as a result of this study? I really want to hear about it. There is a comment form at the end of each post, please share with me and if you like, with all of us!

 Today we are going to put our growing faith and knowledge into action. Galatians 5:6 says that it is faith that enables us to put love into action! Sure, anyone can do a good deed, but often it is done in the expectation of getting something in return. Many Christians are kind to others and give to the church and the needy in expectation of a heavenly reward, or earthly blessing. God is very clear that these are "works of the flesh," meaning for ourselves, not for him (no matter our good intentions) and that we are not saved as a result of good works.

Read Ephesians 2:8-9.

Doing good to please God might seem like a tight-rope walk. On the one hand, we know God desires us to help people and it pleases Him for us to do so. However, God strongly warns us that He is most concerned with our motives behind the help, not with the act itself. It is about who we are, not what we do.
Read 1Corinthians 13:1-3.

Look, God can end poverty on His own, in fact, He promises to do so for all eternity when He brings His plan for humanity to fruition with the return of His Son, Jesus Christ. In the meantime, He is not without compassion, but works in each of us to desire to help others out of love.

So, is the good you have done out of selfish motives wasted? Well, no, someone still got helped. But like any good parent, God loves us and is training us to mature in our motives, to have compassion as a function of love for others, not for ourselves.

Look at it this way: if your spouse, child, or friend is always doing great things for you then expecting or demanding you do something in return, do you appreciate (or even want) their good works in the future? No, because no one likes to be manipulated. But, when someone calls you up and says, "I was thinking about you today and I really want to spend some time with you. Can I take you out to lunch and just pamper you today? It would really make me happy to show you some appreciation!" That would just make your day, I bet.

So you say, but I want to obey God and do good things (works) to help other people! If that is your true motivation, great - God loves obedience just like parents love obedience. But, He wants you to obey out of love and respect for Him, not only because He is our authority and we do what we are told.

What about helping other people because it is the "right" thing to do? That's fine but you are doing it to obey a "law" not out of love.

What about doing good works because I can't stand to see other people suffering? Also good but done to make yourself feel better, not out of love.

What about doing good works because God says in His Word that we need to support those who are "feeding" us the Word of God , and making their life work be preaching, teaching, and acting as a "storehouse" to distribute resources to the poor, the orphans and the widows? Also good, important, and necessary, but God says good acts done without love certainly help people, but do not earn favor with Him.

Lastly, what about promises that our financial gifts, our tithes, will be re-payed us ten-fold? I spend a lot of years giving every extra cent to good churches and charities because I not only wanted to please God, but also believed this "prosperity preaching" that was popular until recently. There's more to it, but it leads us to assume God is obligated to reward us financially for any financial gifts we make to a ministry.

Now, who doesn't want to be prosperous? The problem is that I am aware of nowhere in His Word  that God promises financial reward in exchange for every financial gift. Scripture is sometimes, I fear, taken out of context.

Yes, God instructs us to "lay something aside" for the support of ministers and the church work (1Corinthians 16:2 and Romans 12:13); to give to the poor (many verses including Luke 3:11 and Matthew 5:41-42); to visit orphans and widows (the original meaning of this Greek word is "oversee," meaning to look after - James 1:27).

Yes, historically God has prospered multiple people who have obeyed his instructions and followed His ways. However it is important to remember that we were created for God; God was not created for us, or to serve us, or bless us in the way we demand. What we can depend on is that God promises to all of us rewards of His choosing; blessings of His definition; prosperity (financially or spiritually) in His timing. We get into trouble when we think we can manipulate God, even with the best intentions.

Read 1 Samuel 16:7b "For the Lord does not ___ as man sees, for man looks at the __________ appearance, but the Lord looks at the __________."

So, does that mean we are not supposed to try and please God? No, dear heart, it means faith must fuel our desire to be loving, not a desire to get anything in return from people or from God. I want my husband to help me because he loves me, and it pleases him to see me happy, not because he wants me to be obligated to him. Do you feel the same in your relationships and friendship?

Has anyone ever been nice to you in order to manipulate you? Tell me how that felt:

Are you getting yet that God wants your heart, your love, and your passion, not just cold obedience?

In The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, Joyce Meyer asks us to consider what we would do if we had that kind of intensity in our love for God, which then cannot help but be translated into a pure love for other people. I completed this portion of the study a while back, and here is some of what I wrote:

The creative things I'd do to accomplish my goal of being passionate about helping:

1. Create a bible study for others based on my own study of God's Word, in easy to understand terms and personal transparency - this is it!

2. Include my family in bible study, welcome their questions and interruptions, so they can see being in God's Word is a joyful, family activity, not something I do alone. It feels good to know I am building their love bank with my kindness, and allowing them to see bible study does not take me away from them, it gives them a nicer me.

3. Submit (willingly give) myself daily to be helpful first to my own husband and children, and then also to others. It is so easy to forget that our loved ones should have our most loving behavior - not our most inconsiderate expectations - and I want to show my love first to those I love most.

For me, this means intentionally being kind to my husband, even when I feel aggravated by his requests. I honestly don't have the same love language as my husband so some of the things he enjoys from me I find silly. But, that is only because I value different acts of love. God has led me to realize that if I love my husband, I will learn to get pleasure from doing things that make him happy, not just those that are easy for me to do.

God has also prompted me to take an attitude of "why not" towards my kids. In other words, unless I have a really good reason to say no, then "why not?!" For example, "Mom, can we move the swing set to the front yard where there is shade and out of the hot, sunny backyard? Why not." "Mom, can we paint (making a mess on the kitchen table and floor that I will probably have to help clean up)? Why not." "Mom, can we invite friends over? Why not." Get the point?

4. Call or write people I care about, and be less "busy" when they want to talk to me. If someone needs help, and I can help, do it. This doesn't mean getting out of balance and never saying no, it means for me being less self-centered and seeking to show my love by being able to be inconvenienced more often.

5. Be kind and focus on my relationships when I am getting things done. I really need God's prompting here, because I am a task-oriented person, not a relationship-oriented person. Because of my upbringing, and my personality, I feel worth and validation from accomplishing tasks. Cross it off my list, survey all of my completed work, and sigh with satisfaction, that's me!

Sometimes that leads me to be less-sensitive to the feelings of others than I could be. It's not about being mean, I say please and thank you. It's just that when I get into task-mode, I make a plan, and let everyone know how to proceed to accomplish things in the most productive way (my husband calls it "barking orders"). I just want to get it done and get on with it! It's frustrating for me when others hold up the train with petty disagreements, balking at having to help out, or in other ways have to talk about their feelings about it all. Argh - can't we just get it done and talk about it later???

Some of you are right on that train with me, am I right? Well, the problem is that my way can really step on the feelings of people like my husband, who are relationship-oriented, and for whom resolving the conflicts about a situation is necessary before they are ready to take action. It's about believing someone else's needs are just as important as my own. Does he ever step on my toes? Don't get me started. But, the more I focus on love, the less I get offended.

What will you do now? If you don't have a Field Journal, write it here and share it in the comments if you'd like:

Remember that I told you that of the 10% of people who achieve their goals, 90% of them wrote them down? Don't be surprised if you take a look back in a week or two and find you have most of your list accomplished!

Let's say goodbye for now with prayer:

Father, I am so excited about the changes you are making in me and in the lives of everyone in this study! It feels so good to do things that make the people I love, feel loved. I see more and more that I am being blessed ten-fold, in far better ways than just financially. In fact, I feel like I have more money now because I am able to give to others without counting my possible return!

Lord, You do promise that if we seek You instead of worrying about having enough money, enough food, and enough clothing to satisfy our desires, that not only will we find You, but lo and behold, You will make sure we have all those other things as well. Lord, give each of us the faith to stop worrying about the future, and instead seek a deeper relationship with You. Give us the ability to trust You to take care of our needs here on earth. Help us to value what You value: love. In Jesus' name, amen.

Love, Karen

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Seek, and you will find Me

Hello again! Let’s get our coffee or tea and settle in for some time in God’s presence.

Lord, thank you for every soul seeking You today. We want to know you are real and that you care about our problems and our dreams. I ask that today be a day of miracles in each of our lives. I ask you to reveal yourself in an unmistakable way today. Father, give us cause to marvel at Your work in our lives, today. Someone in this study needs you to disturb their calm, meager, relationship with you. Someone needs You to take them off of the fringe of knowing You. Take us out of the frying pan of bland existence and thrust us into the fire of a passionate, spirit-filled, purpose-driven life! In Jesus’ name, amen!

Get ready for God to wake you up! Are you tired of just going through the motions of your routine? Are you wondering what some people are so excited about in their relationship with God? Are some people just over emotional or dramatic? Is there something to their faith that you just don’t understand?

Today we are going to talk about the difference between dating Jesus, and be married to Jesus. Joyce Meyer brought this up during the 2010 St. Paul, Minnesota conference and it struck me as a key element to having a passionate, committed relationship with God.

When you are dating, you’re not quite sure yet of what you want out of the relationship, and you’re not quite sure of what you can expect from your partner, or even what you want to give. Marriage is a whole ‘nother ball game. Ideally, marriage means you are “all in.” You’ve given yourself body, mind, and spirit to another. Your heart is committed for the long haul and you want everything your spouse has to offer. You want it all: passion, trust, team-work, family, support, the list can go on and on. You know what to expect, and you know this is the one to whom you want to give.

So, are you dating Jesus, or are you married and committed? Either way, you can only go deeper in your relationship if you seek intimacy.

Seek; verb; to crave, pursue, and go after with all of your might.

When is the last time you craved, pursued and went after something with all of your might? Was it solving a problem; getting a date; finding a special purpose; or something else? Tell me about it below and in the comments if you like:

Do you remember the intensity of your drive to find what you sought? If you used that same intensity to seek God, what would you do?

Commit to seeking everything you want from God with intensity this week! Make sure you come back and share in the comments what you’ve noticed as a result. We prayed earlier for God to show up powerfully in our lives this week, and He always answers prayers that are within His Will. Expect Him. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Read the following verses: Deuteronomy 4:29; 2 Chronicles 7:14; and Matthew 7:7.

Father, I am going to seek you with all of my heart, mind, body, and soul this week. You promise if we seek you, we will find you, and I can’t wait to see You so clearly this week that I cannot deny Your existence, Your love, and Your importance in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you would like your own copy of The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer, which is inspiration for this study, click on the title to go to Joyce's website to order.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting excited about giving!

Welcome to A Good Bible Study! Let's pray and get right into the Word:

Father, thank you for family, for husbands and wives, children, sisters and brothers, parents, aunties and uncles. Thank you for anyone in our lives who has treated us like a member of their family. I am so grateful that when even our natural family disappoints, we have our spiritual family and you are our Father! What a joy to know that you always accept, always love, always seek our best, always are honest, dependable, and true. Lord, let us be to someone else today, what you are to me every day. We ask you to open our hearts Lord, and let us be blessed by your Word. In Jesus' name, amen.

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. In this passage, Paul describes the church in Macedonia, which was in great poverty at the time. The members of the church were poor and suffering a great trial of affliction (what in particular is not known) and yet they were such a joy-filled community! Paul was amazed at their excitement to give to his mission. Paul says they were insistent that they be allowed to give, even though Paul did not want them to feel obligated because of their desperate situation. Paul says they put themselves "at the disposal of Paul, to be directed by God, giving not only financially, but with their time and expertise as well. Paul was amazed at the depth of their love for God.

Have you ever felt an overwhelming joy and insistent desire to give to a cause, despite being in a difficult situation yourself?

If so, what made you feel so blessed by giving to others?

Joyce Meyer asks an important question in this section of The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal: Can you be saved, but never really give yourself to Jesus?

What have you held back from Him? ________________

If Christians were truly giving ourselves to Jesus, what
would our lives and world look like?

That's a lot to think about, so I will leave you to do that. Let's pray:

Lord, thank you for each seeking heart that is spending time studying Your Word with me today. We give ourselves to you, Lord, and we want every bit of joy that you have to offer! I'm sorry for the parts of my life that I have held back from you. I ask you to fill me with desire to love you and give you my whole life. I ask you to show me anything I have kept back, and any parts of my heart that I have not allowed you to heal and to love, today. In Jesus' name, amen

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The root of the problem: selfishness

Welcome back to a good bible study! Let's get to the root of the problem today: selfishness.

It's only been a few hours since I shared the last lesson with you, but I awoke to the symphony of thunder, lightening, and the loud patter of rain coming in windows. As long we're up, we might as well praise Him who makes the storms that are watering our gardens!

My dear Lord, thank you for the rain and the sun. The grass is bejeweled with wet diamonds and glittering flowers today, reminding me of your love of beauty and new growth! Help us to grow in Your Word, today, Lord. Give us wisdom and let us love what You love. In Jesus' name, amen.

We've made it to the second chapter of The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. So far we have discussed that change only comes when we cannot stay the same one moment longer! We talked about common hindrances to prayer. Next we determined the need to get involved in one thing, one cause or problem, and commited to do just one thing each day to help someone else. We also shared hurtful habits that we must let go of in order to move forward, and ways to make love action-oriented.

Finally, we were reminded that anytime we are learning something new, we will be tested. But after the test, comes the promotion! And since at the end of each chapter, we are invited to journal in what ways God is speaking to our hearts and changing our minds, I shared with you my own journal entry. At any time, I welcome your insight and questions - use the comment form at the end of each post and let me know how God is affecting you through this study.

Now, in this section, Joyce leads us to question Selfishness: adj., devoted to or caring only for oneself, concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

In what ways are you selfish? ____________________________

Read James 3:13-17. Two things come from the devil, and cause confusion, and evil, in our lives. They are _____ and self-______, or selfishness. In comparison, wisdom from God is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

How many problems in your life have been caused by reacting from feelings of envy and self-seeking? Name some: __________________________________________

In looking at every problem I've ever had with others, envy or self-seeking has always been at the core. Why do we spend so much time worrying about what others are blessed with, instead of enjoying what we've got ourselves?

In what ways can you see your life improving if you sought God's wisdom, and all that comes with it, as listed above? _______________________________________

Do you think you would be easier to get along with, and have more joy? Read Matthew 22:37-40 again and write what you find Jesus tells us to do:

The only thing we have to do to fulfill all the commandments at once, is to _____ God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and then to ____ others as well as we do ourselves. If we are loving God wholeheartedly, we can't help loving others and there is nothing that brings more joy and contentment in our lives, no matter our external circumstances, than living in the activity of love.

Share with me in the comments below how this message affects you this week. May God bless this time you spend here in His Word, today and always. Let's end in prayer:

Father, thank you for loving us, even when we don't see it or even want it. Help us to see others through Your eyes this week. Help us to see ourselves through Your eyes. Give us a powerful desire to see selfishness for what it is and cast it as far away from our hearts as the east is to the west! In Jesus' name, amen.

Thank you for meeting with me today, love, Karen

Your love walk

Hello again and welcome back to A Good Bible Study. Currently, our main focus is the Joyce Meyer study titled, The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal. You don't need to purchase the workbook to follow along, but if you'd like to, click the title for a link to the Joyce Meyer website.

Let's pray as we prepare to receive God's Word:

Father, thank you for this time to come together and share your Word. Thank you for giving each of us the insight we need to experience you more. I pray for each person participating in this study, that each day the burning desire of our hearts is "More, Lord, more of You!" In Jesus' name, amen.

By now you are probably getting some thoughts that just seem to come up over and over regarding ways you can show love. Please share in the comments box below what things God is asking you to do, or in what ways you have responded to the call to love. I can't wait to hear what you've been up to!

In this section of the study, Joyce asks us to journal our "Love Revolution." I'll share what I've written:

I realize that while I might want a "mutually satisfying" marriage, there really is no such thing. We have this concept in modern times, that we are making a bargain with our spouse, a bargain that ensures we will each get enough from the other, to make us happy in the marriage.

That's what I want out of marriage now, mutual satisfaction, but that isn't what I agreed to when I got married. When I married my husband, we talked about the various things we each wanted from the other, and we married in agreement of giving those things to each other. So, what happens when what I want changes? Is he obligated to fulfill my new desires, or am I bound to ask for no more than he committed to in the beginning?

My husband and I recently went through a period of time in which we realized we had each, in our own way, been operating under assumptions about each other, and as a result, neither of us was being really honest about our needs. It's difficult to make changes, and the first response is usually to blame the other person for not meeting our needs, instead of accepting the responsibility to first discover our needs, then share that information, and ultimately, do what needs to be done to meet the needs of . . no, not each other so much, but ourselves.

I can blame my husband for putting too much on my plate, but at the end of the day the only person who makes my schedule is me. He can be angry with me for not affirming him in his "love language," but if he hasn't let me know what's important to him, I'm going to keep on doing what I think is right. 

What God has been whispering into my heart, is that I can only fulfill my end. If my husband is not loving me the way I want him to, all I can do is be honest with him, and then let God work out what needs to be changed. If I know I have, with kindness and firmness, let my needs be known, then I have done all I can at that point. I can get out of the way and let God work, or I can keep bringing it up over and over until my husband is determined not to change just to show me who's the boss of him. God reminded me that I am only in charge of my portion: my behavior.

This mutually satisfying relationship is a myth. Sometimes he's satisfied, sometimes I'm satisfied, sometimes we hit a sweet spot and we're both pleased as punch, but that's more often than not, few and far between. If I am looking for my husband to keep me happy I am going to be a disappointed woman a lot of the time, and vice/versa.

God told me this is a sign of strength, not weakness. Let's be clear: I'm not talking about tolerating abuse. I'm not talking about being a miserable doormat. I'm talking about being able to be loving to someone without waiting for them to satisfy us, first.

God tells us to submit to one another in love. That means willingly putting aside your own desires and thinking of how you can make your spouse's day with kindness, taking pleasure in letting your husband or wife have their way, this time. It doesn't mean "you first."

Think on that; I am! And please, share your own journey with us. After all, we are in this together. With love till tomorrow, Karen

Photo by Digimist523, courtesy of

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Are you getting tested?

Hello fellow seekers,

It's a beautiful day outside, one of those days in which you need only look around and see evidence of God's creative mastery in the sparkle of last night's rain on the grass, in the bright, vast, array of colors embellishing flowers and leaves, and even in good, dark, earth! Let's pray.

God, what you have made is good. Thank you for the gift of beauty in nature. There is more mystery in one bloom dusted with life in the form of pollen than in all the volumes of books man has written. I thank you for the bees spreading your creative spark this morning in my garden, and for the rain you sent last night to quench the thirst in my tomato and corn plants. I thank you for the blessings of summer, a sweet respite from the harshness of our cold, Minnesota winters. Who can take in the splendor of your mountains and canyons, your storms and gentle rains, your snow-capped peaks and grassy valleys, and not know there is a God and He is Good! Give each of us more of your goodness today, Lord. Let our hearts be overwhelmed with the generosity of your love today. In Jesus' name, amen.

Did you know, dear friends, that Satan loves to hear us pray for more of anything from God? Oh yes, because it gives him great insight as to how he can tempt us and discourage us. However, God promises that even before the temptation comes, our Father has already given us a way out. Remember the scripture, first "submit to God;" and then,"resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7.

Look up all the scriptures you find on temptation. Write down what you learned about where temptation comes from and what God wants us to do in response to temptation. I'd love to benefit from your insights in the comments section.

It is Satan who tempts us with sinful desires, seeking our downfall. It is God who tests us, giving us opportunity to grow in our faith. Trials and tests are to help us grow stronger and more powerful against temptation. Read James 1:2.

I listened to a wonderful teaching this morning called "Heart Test," by Joyce Meyer. Let me tell you how that came up. As usual, on Sundays, there comes on our family difficulties in getting to our church. Does that happen to anyone else? It makes it more tempting not to go because we live about a half an hour's drive away.

Well, last night my little boys would not settle down and go to sleep until midnight. So, that meant I couldn't start my own settling down to relax and unwind either, and ended up getting to bed about 3 a.m. Now, the thought of taking three tired, grumpy boys to church, then trying to listen to the sermon while poking drowsers, moving quarrelers away from each other, and then having to go home instead of visiting with friends because a certain five year old was going to be determined to be obstinate, well, let's just say I turned off the alarm. I just said, "Well, Lord. If you want us up for church I guess we will be up and pleasant, and if we don't get up, we will just have church right here at home."

Now, I am not saying sometimes we don't just need to press on past our own tiredness and get ourselves to church. Most of the time, that's just what we should do. Just about every time I skip church, the next week I hear what a great message I missed from someone who was there to hear it, and of course, it's always on a subject I would have really been glad to hear. That's why Satan does everything he can to keep us out of church, because that's where we are going to hear the Word of God and get to hang out with positive, God-loving friends.

The long and short of it is that I've just had about 4 nights in a row that I haven't been able to get to sleep before two or three in the morning, and so, I decided I wasn't going to fight it last night and I would trust God to order my day in the morning. This morning I got up about 11 a.m., and the first thought I had was, "O.K., we're going to have church right here."

I got the boys up and surprisingly, everyone got up without complaining and sat down in the living room for "church." While I cooked up pancakes, we popped in the latest CD I received from Joyce Meyer Ministries. It was called "Heart Test." (If you'd like a free CD every month with about an hour or so of Joyce teaching on it, she sends them out with a donation of any size.)

I'm going to share with you the main insight God gave me in that teaching, and let you ponder on it today: How many of us pray for God to 1. let us love everyone; 2. make us to forgive those around us; 3. prosper us; or maybe, 4. let me be Your servant, Lord; or 5. my favorite, CHANGE ME, LORD!

These are good prayers! Which one is yours? Or is there something different you always seem to desire? Write it here: __________________________________

Does He answer  these prayers? You bet He does. But think about this: What happens when you go into to talk to your boss and ask for a promotion or for a raise? You have to demonstrate your qualifications for that promotion or raise, right? You have to have already learned what you need to know to do the job or justify the increase in salary, am I right? You have to pass a test, before you get the prize.

Whether it's a degree in school, a promotion to a higher position, or being given more responsibility, we first need to demonstrate the ability to handle the challenges of that position. We don't typically get the job first, then get the training to do the job. Yes, there are some exceptions, but there always is another cost in those situations, like a reduction in pay until we come up to snuff, right?

So, think about this, if you want to be a loving person, get ready to be exposed to some un-lovable people. If we want to be forgivers, we'll get the opportunity to be hurt so we can practice that skill. May be God will ask us to start with some folks who hurt us in the past, like those who abused or bullied us, as children. Still wanting to be blessed with more? If we want to be prospered, God says we've first got to obey Him with the little we've got.

Let me tell you, He is working me OUT on this one right now, and I don't mean with being a good steward with what I've got because He already did that number on me, but He's leaning on me with trusting Him enough to be generous right now, not when I'm wealthy, and it hurts . . but it hurts more to resist. Anyone out there know what I mean?

The minute I submit, and say, "O.K. God, take it all, take all my resistance, I just want your love, I'm going to trust you because I can't take for one more minute knowing you are speaking into my heart to obey you in this matter, and turn my face away in fear, again."

Now, I'm a crier. Some of you who know me might be surprised to know that, because I love to laugh and I love to make other people laugh with me. But when the Holy Spirit starts working in me, I'm going to be bawling, that's just me. My heart doesn't know what to do with all the love that comes with God. Even when He is letting me know I need to make a change, it's done with such love I can't help but just start blubbering. It's a mixture of sorrow for knowing I've been wrong, and at the same time so full of that tingly, soaring love that I want Him to give me something else to obey in, too. "Change me some more Lord while my spirit is willing!" Please now, give me a comment and tell me you know what I mean by all this!

So pray for growth, but remember there are going to be some growing pains. As we get more comfortable with obeying, the growing gets easier and easier. My five year old has a really hard time obeying right now, so he gets lots of opportunity to practice. Since he is a small child, I shape the behavior I want with plenty of rewards for obedience: points towards PlayStation or computer time, trips to the playground, Popsicles after a successful shopping trip.

My nine year old has much more experience obeying and he does it more gracefully. He no longer needs physical rewards to shape his behavior, and seeks to please me more and more often. Sure, he gets Popsicles, too, after all, who doesn't like Popsicles?! The point is he is not in training on the issue of obedience so much as my younger children, and he has learned his life goes along much more peacefully as a result. 

We are like little children. At first obeying is hard and we struggle, needing lots of confirmation from God that we are doing the right thing. We need lots of instruction in His Word, and lots of promises of His rewards. As time goes on, we learn that life goes more peacefully and joyfully when we choose to obey God, and that the greatest reward is feeling the Holy Spirit pat our backs and say "Well done!"

So, pray! Then gird your loins for the test ahead. The good news is that we only have to pass each test once! But, we do have to pass it, or simply take it again, and again, and again. Welcome the test, because "after the test comes the promotion!" (Joyce Meyer)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I want YOU to join the Revolution

Welcome back! Let's get right into prayer so we can share how God is working in us through this bible study.

Father, we are so thankful for your Living Word. What a delight it is to read the same passage on different days, and get a fresh insight each time. Open our minds to understand what you would have us know, Lord, and soften our hearts so we can be molded with your love into willing, obedient, love warriors! In Jesus' name, amen.

Are you beginning to sense God's desire to equip you to be an ambassador in His love revolution? I am. What opportunities have you discovered in order to make love an action:

If you helped someone with the goal of simply showing them kindness, I can bet you got the same giddy, happy, sensation of joy after doing so, as I do. Am I right? If you are still struggling, pray now for God to release an attitude (or spirit) of love in you today. Ask Him to reveal anything blocking or hindering that spirit.

The workbook on which I am basing this study, The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer, points us to 2 Corinthians 5:20. Read it now.

In this passage, God tells us we are his a_________________s, and that He uses us to make His appeal to the rest of the world. When you see someone poor, diseased, homeless, or in need, do you have an instant desire to help, or do you look the other way? Be honest.

Joyce Meyer has found that common attitudes toward the needy are disdain, fear, or misunderstanding. We may feel their condition has been brought upon by themselves due to sinfulness, laziness, or inferiority. I'll admit I have a hard time watching those commercials showing emaciated, fly-ridden, dirt-encrusted children, without changing the channel, not because I have no compassion, but because beyond sending a small donation each month, I can't do anything to help them. It's overwhelming and depressing to watch. Can any of you relate to what I'm saying?

How do you feel when you see people near the freeway with signs asking for food, or walking down the street in dirty rags, pushing a shopping cart? Share a comment if you'd like, or write it down for yourself:

In what ways do you insulate yourself from the poor?

How is God leading you to let down some of those defenses and attitudes and reach out?

In what ways have you been challenged during this study?

What are some truths you now believe about love, even when people don't seem like us, or worth helping?

What are some actions you will take this week with this new truth?

When I finished this section, I committed myself to writing this bible study. I also choose two places to give financially in addition to my church, with a small monthly donation, and did so. (Your gift of love does not have to be financial, these were two ministries I felt called to be involved in.)

If you've committed to see hurting people as worth showing kindness and love, then you have joined the Love Revolution! Let's proclaim together this prayer from The Revolution:

"God, I've made my decision to become a love revolutionary! I look to you to help me sustain it. I'm finished with business as usual. I'm finished with church as usual. I'm finished with being just a 'normal,' quiet, complacent Christian. I'm going to start my own personal revolution. God, I want You to turn my world upside down, and every day of my life, I want to make a difference for somebody else. By Your grace, mercy, power, and wisdom, things are going to change in the way I live my life! God, help me to really learn what love is and to begin to love other people the way You love them, Lord. I take up The Love Revolution creed and ask You to bring it to pass in my daily life:

I take up compassion and surrender my excuses. I stand against injustice and commit to live out simple acts of God's love. I refuse to do nothing. This is my resolve. I am the Love Revolution. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus' name!"

May God bless this start you've made, love, Karen

Friday, July 23, 2010

Letting go of hurtful habits

Hello friends. I'm glad we are spending this time together seeking God's Word.
Let's pray before we begin:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us access to You through this great love letter we call the bible. Open our hearts, Lord, and change us from the inside out today. We want nothing more than to be in your presence and feel your Holy Spirit guiding our way today. Lord, forgive me for the way I have lived my life selfishly and for my own comfort. Help me to see others as you do, and desire to help them as you do. Amen”

We are mid-way through the first chapter of The Revoluton Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. Some of you are doing this journal along with the Joyce Meyer video; others are working through the journal on your own, then meeting here for more discussion. Many more are simply following along with us online and writing insights and verses in a notebook. I am thankful for each of you! It is not so important how we get into God's Word, but that we do get into it.

However you got here, I am so glad you made it. Get your coffee and let's get started!

Let's read Mark 8:34.

Jesus said in order to follow Him, we must _______ ourselves, take up the ______ and follow Him. To deny ourselves means to forget, disown, and lose sight of our own interests. This in no way means we are to stop caring about our daily needs or hygeine, it means to stop thinking about ourselves first and foremost, and start devoloping a heart of compassion for others.

What is the hardest cross to carry, meaning the most difficult thing to deny in ourselves? _________________________________________________


I wrote: to stop thinking about my own comfort and every day start out praying for the ability to give myself over to God's will and God's desires for my day.

For example, when I am sitting comfy on my bed, laptop just right, cup of tea or coffee all cozy, the last thing I want to hear is “Can you help me with something?”

Normally, my first reaction is irritation. OK, that's still my first reaction. But, I've decided to become a person who can be interuppted with grace. I used to act so put upon when anyone interuppted my writing time. I'd start out with a dramatic sigh, then an irritated stare. If that didn't shame the offender into backing out the door, I'd start in complaining and grumbling as I pushed everything off my lap and got up, demanding to know if there was an emergency or not.

I'm sure my family's favorite reaction was for me to attend to their needs in the midst of a long dialogue about “How come the minute I sit down to write is when someone in this house has to have blah, blah, blah. . .” Sound familiar to anyone? Come on, I know I'm not alone.

Now, I am not suggesting we allow our children to be rude, consistently interuppt others, or accept inconsiderate treatment on a regular basis from our spouses, but I do think we can get out of balance by thinking we should never be interuppted or inconvenienced by our family.

God showed me that although I wanted to carve out time for my own needs (a good thing) and to teach my kids to develop patience and consideration, I was teaching them more about having a spoiled attitude and an unwillingness to be kind when we are inconvenienced. Ouch.

When God revealed to me how I was hurting the people I love the most, I was broken. I was utterly ashamed of my self-centered attitude. I sobbed till my t-shirt was wet and moved on to my husband's.

I'll tell you, it didn't feel good at first, but the thing about repenting, which is realizing you've been wrong and being truly sorry, and wanting nothing more desperately than to change, is that it's really pleasing to God. Think about the times when your kids really understand and feel remorsful about their bad behavior, or when they flat-out go out of their way to be kind to a sibling. Don't you just hug them up and feel so proud?

The second I've confessed my sin to God and asked for His forgiveness, I experience a wave of what I can only describe as a tingling, uplifting sensation of absolute joy! It feels just like a hug from the Holy Spirit. It's like God is speaking right into my spirit words I can only feel, not hear, words that say, “Well done, daughter, I am pleased and I love you.”

If you've experienced what I am talking about, write down what happened:
and if you feel comfortable, share it with us in the comments section. I love to see how God is working in the lives of my friends, it inspires me and reminds me that He is working all around me, even when I'm struggling to see it myself.

Homework: Choose one hurtful or negative habit you will give to God this week. Are you like me, too important to be interuppted? Or are you the one who interuppts others, always wanting everything to be done now, now, now?

I'm giving my habit of _______________________________________ to God and asking Him to change my heart in this area.

It won't be easy at first, but I promise if you confess what you're doing to God every morning, and ask Him to change your heart in this area, He will. By the way, don't be surprised if the first couple of days seem overwhelmingly full of temptation. After all, Satan has enjoyed ruining your day in this fashion for quite some time. He's not going to just let you leave the game without a fight.

Lucky for us – God promises if we seek Him first, all we have to do is resist the devil, and he will flee! James 4:7

Let's prayer together:

“Father, I am sorry for the way my selfish attitudes have led people around me to feel less important and less worthy of love. Give me a desire to love with my attitude and actions, instead of merely my words. Thank for always helping me to become a more compassionate and wise friend to all those I encounter, at home and in the world. In Jesus' name, amen.

Back to beginning of bible study posts

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's your problem?

Hello brothers and sisters of the Revolution! If this is your first visit to A Good Bible Study, welcome!

We currently are reading The Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. You can visit the Joyce Meyer site for the workbook, or just follow along with me here. Catch up to us in the first chapter.

And for those of you who have been following along, welcome back! I'm so glad you are with me as we seek God's presence. We'll get much more out of this time together if we begin in prayer:

"Father, I thank you for every eye on this page, for every heart seeking your love, and your wisdom. We ask you to open our eyes so we may see the truth, open our ears so we may hear Your Word, and open our hearts so that we may receive all the love we so deeply need from you.

Let us show love today to at least on other person. Give us patience with those who frustrate us. Give us understanding for those who don't meet our expectations. Above all, let us reflect Your Son, Jesus, in every encounter we have because we are all hurting, all imperfect, all looking for hope. In Jesus' name, amen."

I love knowing I am about to be blessed by the Holy Spirit when I open the Bible with a desire to be changed, don't you? Let me ask you something. Think about how many times you have said the phrase, "What's your problem?" Usually it's said in response to someone who got out of bed on the wrong side. My answer would be, "I haven't had my coffee or bible time yet, give me a minute."

What if we meant it? What if we said it with a real intention of helping, like "What's the problem you're having today? I'd like to help."

A key phrase of The Revolution is "We must aggressively, intentionally, and on purpose reach out to others daily." What does that mean to you?

There are so many people in need of help in this world, sometimes it is so hard to choose where to give our time or resources, that we end up not doing anything at all. Our workbook states there are an estimated 143 million orphans worldwide; The US alone has over 15,000 certified nursing homes, often understaffed and filled with lonely elderly persons; our prisons are overflowing with hurting people; every few seconds a child is abducted into the sex trade; most of the world's population is living on less than $730 a year; and since 1981 AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide.

The early Christians were faced with a similar dilemma. Paul wanted the followers of Christ to be sincere in their motives and use wisdom in how they dealt with situations. He wrote to the church in Philippi: "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ," Philippians 1:9-10 (New International Version).

The Message says it this way, "So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush" Philippians 1:9-10 (The Message)

God wants us to be thoughtful in our giving, but to give, to help, to do something more than offer our condolences. Perhaps you give to your church and allow your giving to help hurting people under your church leader's guidance. That's a very good place to start. As Joyce Meyers says, we need to give into where we are getting fed the Word of God.

But what about people in your neighborhood, or your city, that you come across in the course of your day? What if you saw a child without proper clothes and daily food. Would you do something now? Would you say a silent prayer and walk on? Would you even notice? Please turn with me to James 2:15-6. Does this verse change your decision, or reinforce it? _________________________

1 John 3:16-18 says, "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. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Unfortunately, more than a few of us in this study are suffering from the effects of the economy. May be you are among the needy right now. I want to suggest that there is so much more of value in you, than simply money. Let's come up with some ideas together, alright?

Make a list of things you can give to a shelter or to a friend in need; a list of talents you can share with someone trying to build job skills; a list of tools or skills you can use to solve a problem in a neighbor's home, or in your church building; perhaps a charity for which you can make phone calls or write letters.

I've always had small children at home (my kids ages range from 22 to 5, currently) so I've tried to volunteer in ways I can either work from home or take my kids along. Some worthy organizations I've enjoyed being involved with are my local church,  MOPSHome Delivered Meals4H , and The Compassionate Friends.  Spark any ideas? Brainstorm some thoughts below:

 God says, "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:12). In other words, do what you can with an attitude of love, and that is more than enough.

I can give or use:_________________________________________

Sometimes we get blocked by feeling inadequate, like our contribution is just a drop in the bucket of need. In The Revolution, Joyce talks about the power of one. One person, Adam, made a very poor choice that brought all mankind into a fallen state of sin, pain, unhappiness and suffering. One man affected the whole of humanity. Well, I can't affect the whole of humanity, you might say. You're right. But you can affect one area: one problem.

Joyce points out that in the 1700's up to 50,000 Africans per year were captured and sold into English slavery. Like in the US at one time, and as is still practiced in parts of Africa and the modern world (can you believe that?!), slavery was seen as a financial necessity. One man, William Wilberforce, worked over the course of 14 years to continually introduce legislation to Parliament to end slavery. Despite government and social opposition, threats against his life, personal sickness, and repeated failures, he believed so strongly in the need for change that he did not give up until he succeeded. In 1807 Parliament abolished the slave trade in the British Empire! The only difference between William Wilberforce and any number of people who agreed with him in silence, was that every day he did something, no matter how small, towards his goal until he succeeded.

What I am suggesting, is that instead of focusing on all we can't do, focus on one thing we can do. One thing today, something else tomorrow, repeat all week long. The only person who is in charge of choosing your "thing" is you. This is not about competing with each other, getting our Pastor's approval, or trying to earn God's love with our good works. This is about deciding we can do one thing to ease one other person's pain in some way today, and doing it.

Homework: Pick a problem to solve or a cause from your list above and take one action. Out of the many worthy causes, pray and ask God to reveal where you are most needed and pay attention over the course of the day or week as to what comes up over and over, or what really tugs on your heart. You don't have to, and cannot, solve every problem. But you can solve one piece of one problem.

Write in the comment section and tell me, "What's your problem?"

Dear Father, thank you for quickening our hearts and giving us strength to take action when you give us the opportunity to see a need. Give us both compassionate natures, and wisdom to know when and how much, and in what way. Above all, remind us that it is you that knows the hearts of those to whom we give, and it is our job to help, trusting you to bless our giving no matter if the gift is used wisely or not by the recipient. After all, when we give to least of us, we are giving to You, Lord Jesus. (Matthew 25:40) Amen.

I'll meet you here tomorrow, love, Karen

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The final five hindrances to prayer

Goten Tag! I'm thinking of learning German in anticipation of a possible mission trip later this summer, and so far I know good afternoon, and good morning, or goten morgen. It's amazing to me how many German words sound very much like their English counterparts. I am so thankful for those who have gone before us to translate God's Word into my language!

I can't imagine how difficult it was for John Wycliffe, and those like him who in the 1380's translated God's Word under great persecution, into English. The Pope was so angry that Wycliffe had translated the bible into a common language, that long after Wycliffe had died, the Pope had his bones dug up, crushed and scattered in the river! In 1517, despite great opposition from the Church, Martin Luther was the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people. Imagine living in a time in which reading the Bible was illegal!

According to  "Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin!" I am so thankful that our Catholic brothers and sisters can now read their bibles without fear!

We really do not appreciate the freedom we have in this country to read the Word of God in our every day language, to teach our children to pray as God leads us, and to attend the churches of our choosing. I wonder if we will still be so free in another 10 years? Let's pray:

Dear Lord, you say in your Word that the devil is like a lion, constantly prowling around seeking someone to devour. Lead us to value your Word, and to protect our rights to openly read our bibles, in our home language and without fear of prosecution. Others have died for so that we can benefit from their sacrifice. Open our hearts now, as we read our precious bibles in your presence, that we will grow in wisdom and in love, amen.

Now, you have been very patient, and I promise today I will complete the final five hindrances to prayer, as discussed in the Joyce Meyer conference. So, let's get started.

Doubt - doubts are initially just thoughts that come up in our minds. They can be accepted and incorporated, or dismissed and rejected. Doubt, like belief, is a choice. God is who He is, or not; God can do what He promises, or not; He is working in our lives, or He is not. What do you believe? Be honest and if you are allowing doubt to rule your heart, ask God to give you the will to believe. Turn with me to Mark 11:23 and record what Jesus said you could do if you believed it with all of your heart: ____________________________________________________________________.

Joyce encourages us to talk back to the devil and tell him to step off! He is your enemy and will use any ploy to get you to doubt God's love as well as the power at your disposal to resist the devil, and win! Don't be a slave to random thoughts. Your thought life is the key to your emotional response, so take charge of your thoughts and tell fear, doubt, anxiety or any other negative spirits they will not define who you are for one more day.Try it now, use authority and righteous anger! Be sure and comment to me your results - I can't wait to hear!

Selfishness - do you ask God what His plan is for your life, then ask Him to give you the strength to fulfill it . . . or do you plan what you want to happen, and ask God to bless it? Be honest. I know for much of my Christian life, I bought into the whole prosperity message that can too heavily focus on material gain. I believed if I was tithing and doing all the things that are pleasing to God, then He would bless me financially. I was speaking my good fortune into being, sisters!

Doing good things is, well, good, but God looks to our heart, to our motives, not to our actions. What about when we do all the right things so everyone around us can see what a good Christian we are? Do you ever catch yourself looking around when you are doing a well-intentioned service for someone else, to see if anyone has noticed? Be honest. I'm ashamed to say I've been guilty more than a few times. Joyce says the best way you can keep yourself straight in this area of approval-seeking, is to check your motives. Are you doing it for people, or are you doing it for God?

Matthew 6:2 says if we are doing things to make ourselves look good to other people, God has no need to bless us, because we are getting what we really want, the approval of people. If we want God's blessing, He wants our hearts. He wants us giving to our churches and to hungry children because we want to make sure we have a place to worship and to praise God, and it breaks our hearts to see children starving and going without. When you are giving because it would offend your heart not to, that's when God is blessing you. Blessings are about far more than money. Too often we see God as a genie who should give us the desires of our selfish, self-centered, greedy hearts, or else we're just not going to believe in Him anymore (now stomp your foot and pout!) Let's be clear: He created us for His plan, we did not create Him for ours.

Read James 4:3 and record here what you learn about why we do not receive answers to prayers that are selfish:________________________________________________ Now read Psalm 37:4.

Does that tell you that God wants you to suffer, or have the desires of your heart? If you are delighting in the Lord, truly loving Him and taking joy in your relationship with Him, what desires are you likely to have in your heart? That's right, the kind He wastes no time in granting!

Lack of love - Have you read the Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman? Part of the premise is that we have a love bank, and it needs to be filled up on a regular basis or we won't have enough positive feelings inside to enable us to give to others. The ultimate love bank is God. Unlike people, God never runs out of love. We can take, and take, and take all the live long day and He will always give more.

If we don't have enough of something, how can we give some to anyone else? That doesn't make sense. Personally, I agree with Joyce Meyer that love is a verb, not a noun. How many times has someone who claims they love you, done something despicable to you?

We want to love, not to feel love. Feelings are changeable creatures, and respond primarily to our thoughts. You want to stop that lovin' feelin' real quick? Start thinking about all the ways your spouse has irritated or hurt you? That's right. Still feelin' it?

Christians are called to be known by the way we treat other people. 1 John 3:18 says, "My little children (speaking to all of us) let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." This means by the way we show love to each other in actions, not just inprayer, and not just while the hallelujah chorus is singing at church. You know what I mean.

I challenge you, the way I was challenged during the conference, to get up each day and ask God, who can I help today? When you see your spouse, ask "What can I do to help you today?" I'll admit, I did that today and I was glad my hubby was on the phone and couldn't see me scowl when he took me up on my offer. Hey, I'm on this journey with you, not because I've got it all figured out!

Despite my sometimes reluctance, I have been putting this into practice, and it amazes me that even though I don't want to inconvenience myself a lot of the time, every time I submit my own selfish desires to God, and go out of my way to help, and I mean without allowing myself one thought of how it could end up helping me later, but just step up and be a help, I get this really cool feeling of joy afterwards. It's like God Himself is saying, "I'm proud of you daughter and I love you." Oh yes, it's good.

Refusal to do our part -  We can pray all day for the Lord to help us out, then go right out the door and start complaining to everyone we meet about how bad things are, gossip about our next door neighbor, blow off bible study, again, and get into a screaming match with the brother-in-law over whose house we'll be holding Thanksgiving at this year, thank you very much, and yet we are surprised when our prayers don't seem to be getting answered.

I'll ask you, at what point is it our responsibility to put on the armor of God and start walking what we are talking? May be we wouldn't have so many problems to pray about if we did more acts of service for our friends and family than acts of instigation. Ouch. What in the world is the armor of God? Let's read Ephesians 6:11 and 6:13, then continue with verse 14 which tells us the armor consists of t_ _ _ _, r_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, the g_ _ _ _ _ of p _ _ _ _, f_ _ _ _, s_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, the sword of the S_ _ _ _ _or the W_ _ _ of G_ _,  and always p_ _ _ ing in the Spirit!

Based on this scripture, what is our part of the bargain, where does our power lie?

The last hindrance to prayer, in this study at least, is a lack of thankfulness and praise. I thought the following was funny when I heard it, but how true it is: "Don't ask for something new if you are still griping about what you've already got." (Joyce Meyer) The best way to get into a spirit of thankfulness and praise, is to start listing, out loud or in writing, all the things that are going well in your life. Recite the prayers that have been answered; list the blessings you've already got.

If you hate your house, declare your thankfulness that you have a roof over your head, and how about that food in the nice cool refrigerator, and that car that gets you from here to there despite the rust on the side panel? Are your kids healthy? I don't know about you, but I've lost a child and I am even more aware of how fragile life is. I thank God every day for my kids and for every moment I have with them, because there are no guarantees in this life, except one day it will end as we know it.

Number two, forgive everyone and anyone who has hurt you. Ick! Now, I didn't say let them hurt you again. I didn't say tell that it is alright that they hurt you. I didn't say have one more thing to do with people that make a career out of hurting others. I said in your heart, let it go and be thankful God will do what needs to be done about them, and hallelujah, they are not your problem anymore. God gave you the gift of forgiveness for you, not for them. You cannot experience joy if your heart is tied up in bitterness. They may have hurt you that time, but if you keep replaying the woe-is-me tape then you are letting them hurt you every day since! Look, I've got some hurtful people in my past, sometimes they try to be  part of my present, but when I start getting bitter, I start praising God, saying,

"Lord, I am so thankful I do not have to be a part of that situation any more. I am so glad you are working that person's heart because when they face You and see what they have done, oh, their hearts will break from shame. Lord, I thank you for setting me free from that situation. Lord I am so glad I am not alone, and I don't have to be afraid, because at the end of the day, the sun is gonna shine, my family and I are going to enjoy the grass and the garden, my dogs are gonna love me and most importantly, God, you love me."

Do you see what I mean? Let God deal with those folks who just don't get it. That's the blessing of choosing who you spend time with and who you just let step. Forgive yourself, too. We don't go through this life without making mistakes, it's in our genetic code. You and everyone else on the planet, darling. Is it going to turn back time to keep on hitting yourself on the head about it? Apologize to whom you need to apologize, make any amends you can make, then learn your lesson and praise Jesus that you don't have to make that mistake again!

Last of all, put the Holy Spirit in charge of your case. Joyce says when we keep on putting our case before God, telling Him what this person did to us, and how they hurt us, and how we can't get over it, it is like we are in a court of law. She says, put the Holy Spirit in charge of your case, and let Him do His job. Get out  of His way and trust that He has got it handled, in the best way. It might not be your way.

Boy, can I get out my book of suggestions as to how God could handle a person or two in my life, let me tell you. Fortunately, God has plans that are much better than anything I can come up with. As much as it might upset our apple cart, God might actually plan to bring those enemies to Christ! Personally, I hope he sets them down a notch or two on the way to the cross, but that's just me. That's what I mean about getting filled up with the Holy Spirit, left to our devices it's just too hard to show love, otherwise. We need to get it, to give it. Read 1Chronicles 16:34 and Psalm 107:1 and finally, Ephesians 5:17-20.

I thank God for you and ask God to bless you each day as you obey Him and seek Him, and rejoice with you as you find Him! Let's pray in closing:

"Father, thank you for this time we have spent together in your Word. Thank you for making sure we have time each day, distractions are dealt with, frustrations diminished, and inner voices calmed, whenever we seek time with You. Please bless the families of each reader, protect them and lead their decisions as they go about their day. Give us the desires of your heart, Father. In Jesus' name, amen.

See you tomorrow, love, Karen

Photo by Jaimie Duplass, courtesy of

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The second hindrance to prayer

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!

In the grainy photo to the left, are Lisa Anderson, myself, and Hazel Van Hove at the Joyce Meyer Conference in St. Paul, MN, which ignited the desire to begin this bible study blog.

We are investing time with each other, and with God, as we move through the Joyce Meyer devotional workbook and "field guide," The Revolution."  Let's start again with prayer. I want the Holy Spirit so deeply entrenched in our study we cannot do anything but marvel in the way He moves our hearts to grow in love, and our minds to gain wisdom!

Father, thank you for reminding us to make time with you, the most important time of our day. I am a much more compassionate and patient mother and wife when I have put time with you first each day. Nothing seems worth being upset about when I am still aglow from the filling of your Holy Spirit! In Jesus' name, amen.

I'm going to break this up over several days or this will just be so long your eyes will cross from reading! Let's get started!

Have you read the book, or watched the movie version of "Persuasion," by Jane Austen? In one scene, Mrs. Croft is describing why she enjoyed being with her husband, Admiral Croft, on his ship. She said the only time she ever "imagined" herself unwell, was the time she crossed the ocean by herself, on another ship. Then she was afraid, but "as long as we could be together, nothing ever bothered me." That's the life we can live when we spend time with God and truly seek His input and direction in our lives.

As long as we are spending time together, talking and praying to God, seeking His guidance, appreciating His help and gifts, finding out what we can do to show Him love in return (that's like discovering His love language!) then nothing much can bother us.

I used to know this in my mind, and had glimpses of it when in sincere prayer and praise, but recently, I am experiencing it in such a way that I almost feel my heart will burst with this strange feeling of just wanting to do something loving for everyone, not just those in my house, but everyone! Believe me, I don't get up feeling this way. It's something that kicks in as soon as I start my morning prayer and am thanking God for all the good things going on in my life, and thanking Him for working in all the things that aren't going so great, and for leading my mouth and my intentions today, etc.

I recently went through a period of time when I wasn't spending time with God every morning. Life was fine, even happy, other than the day to day stressors. I wasn't falling away from God, or having a crisis of faith, I was just coasting. Now, Joyce Meyer is no more or less anointed than any other Jesus-loving believer who is called to share God's message of love, but it happens that going to her conference recently gave me an opportunity to dig into the Bible and listen to sincere, practical teaching about my relationship with God, as well as get caught up in the spirit of joy, forgiveness, and worship that seemed to saturate the Xcel Energy Center - for three whole days.

Let me tell you, getting into sincere bible study, singing and praising God with music, and being around people who are determined to demonstrate character, integrity and kindness cannot help but quicken the heart of anyone with even an ounce of desire to know God more intimately.

Sure, it's easy to have an emotional moment during a concert, or in the midst of thousands of praying believers, but what I experienced was more a personal revival, or a revolution. The Revolution message finally got past my head and into my heart, and that's where real change starts, the heart.

Now, some of you need to hear the reassurance that I'm not talking about being in denial of stressors or problems, I'm talking about being less concerned with stressors or problems and more concerned with connecting with the people I love and actively loving them. I am in no way suggesting we not deal with things that need to be dealt with, irresponsibility is not Godly. However, can't you think of some things that you really can't do anything about, yet you think and worry over them all the time anyway, letting these thoughts steal your joy of the life you are living right now?

Turn to Matthew 6:25-34; Psalm 121:1-2; and Proverbs 3:5-6 and record what you learn about Jesus' instructions to believers about worrying:

Is He saying walk around in the buff and trust God to supernaturally slap some duds on you on your way out the door, a'la "Evan Almighty?" Give me a break. Is He saying not to care if your kids don't have shoes that fit and you don't have a paycheck for three more weeks? No. He is saying ask for what you need, trust that God is working on it, let appropriate people around you know what your needs are so someone can be moved to help, and get on with your day knowing it is alright to be happy in the middle of problems.

Problems do not have to control your mood, your reactions, or your faith in God! Did you hear that? Can you name me a time when your life will not have problems of some kind? Stressors? Disappointments? Failures? Deaths? Conflict? So WHEN, I ask you, exactly are you going to choose to start believing God, believing in His love, receiving it, and sharing it with the people in your life? I'll be happy when is never going to happen, folks.

So, let's be happy today even though there are problems. If you have a chance to be kind today, do it! If you have a chance to do something for someone who cannot do anything in return for you, do it! If you have a chance to be interrupted by a child today, do it! Don't be surprised if you get a little shot of joy in return.

Now, what were those remaining 6 hindrances to prayer that Joyce Meyer talked about? Oh yes, the second hindrance is :

Hidden Sin - Yikes, that hurts. Are you saying God knows the tally I am keeping in my heart of my husband's short-comings??? I'm saying He knows it all, sister! Read Psalm 66:18. It just means that you know if you are holding on to desires for the wrong things, or behaviors that interfere with an honest, meaningful relationship with God. He is going to be more concerned with your seeing it for what it is, and letting go of what is not working so He can  move you forward, than He is with letting you sit in your sin and just making you think it's all O.K.

Look at it this way: when you know your children are lying to you, or doing some things you want them to stop, do you keep blessing them with the car keys or do you set up some consequences to give them an incentive to change?

A common way we sin is through strife in our relationships. Churches have broken up over squabbling and gossip, not to mention friendship and even marriages. The quickest way out of sin is to ask God to reveal to you anything you are doing that is hindering your prayers. If you are sincere, He will show you and when He does, believe me, you will be glad to ask Him for forgiveness and experience the joy that comes with it.

If you have a recurring sin that you have struggled with for a long time, sometimes God sets you free immediately, and sometimes you will gain more from working through it day by day. Start each day asking God for help first thing in the morning. It is often helpful to honestly and openly confess your struggle to a trustworthy Christian friend, Pastor or counselor, and allow them to help you to work towards change over time. Paul suffered with a trial like this, a daily trouble, and he was probably the most influential believer in the Bible! Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Now, ask God if you have been holding on to sin. Ask Him to reveal any ways you have resisted Him in your life. Ask Him to give you a heart ready to change. Write down what you discover here, if you like, and if you have a trusted Christian confidant, tell him or her what you have learned about yourself. Most importantly, tell God you are sorry and ask His forgiveness. It feels so good to release our faults and bitterness, it makes me just want to dance! Let's pray together:

"Lord, I discovered I have been sinning and grieving your heart by:

I am so sorry for the way I have behaved, and now that I know, I am so grateful you have forgiven me and are opening the doors of blessing on my heart! You tell us to first seek You, and then You will give us all the good desires of our hearts! Help me to remember the first step, the most important priority in my life, is to seek You, and then . . . Make me desire what you desire, and I know my prayers will be answered. In Jesus' name, amen."

Have a joy-filled day and thank you for commenting and sharing with me your insights and the changes God is making in your  life as well! Love, Karen

Links to bible study posts:
 A good bible study - intro
Something can and must change - day one
Why prayer goes unanswered? - day two

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why prayer goes unanswered

Hello again, I am so glad you are with me today sharing the Word of God!

Let's begin with prayer: Lord, thank you for this chance to be blessed by your Word. I am thankful that you are working in all the areas of my life, and I can let go of my concerns for now, and give you this time. Let me be sensitive to the ways in which I have held up the answers I so desperately need to my prayers. Let me be open to your leading, Lord Jesus, amen.

Have you ever prayed and prayed about a situation, and it just didn't seem like anything ever happened? I sure have and it can be so discouraging. I've often wondered if there is something I need to be doing different? Is God saying, "No," or "Wait a while," or is He saying, "You've got to pray more, or with more belief, or with more humility," or what??

During the St. Paul conference with Joyce Meyer, I listened to a teaching on just this subject. Seven possible hindrances to prayer were discussed and the first one might surprise you. Of course there are more than seven, and not all seven will apply to your situation, but let's pay attention because if I am doing something to hold up my blessing, I want to know about it, don't you?

The first hindrance was to simply not ask for what you want. Think about it? How often do you just boldly ask God for what you want? I think a lot of time we feel foolish for speaking aloud what we really want to happen (like He doesn't know.) I know I sometimes feel I shouldn't want some things, or may be I should just suffer with a "glad heart," do you know what I mean? Often, we act like "Well, if God wanted me to have it, He would give it to me."

Look in the back of your bible, and find all the verses in which God tells us to ask. I'll help you out with a couple, then you find some, as well.

James 4:2 "You do not have because you do not ask."
Matthew 21:22 "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
Now it's your turn:

Do you ever tell your children, "If you want something, just ask?" I do. Mostly I say it in frustration when they've climbed to get something out of reach and then fallen, or gotten into something without permission that I was saving, but other times, I find out they had a real need for something and didn't ask for it. It might be some new socks or underwear, or it might be one of my rough and tumble young'ns fell and didn't tell me they were really hurt.

My precious nine year old son recently fell and broke his arm at camp (Lake Beauty Bible Camp, Long Prairie, MN) and didn't tell anyone how bad it was hurting for two full days afterwards, because he was afraid he would have to go home and miss out on the rest of camp. By the time he spoke up his wrist was swollen so much he couldn't hide it anymore. Luckily it only took an hour and a half to get it casted and get him back to camp, but it amazed me that he could go so long in need and let his assumptions about what might happen stop him from asking for help.

Do you ever do that to God? Assume you know what the answer will be so you just don't bother asking? Yup, sometimes I just scratch my head that my kids won't tell me that their underwear are falling down around their knees, but will ask me all day long to buy them a sugar-filled Popsicle that is only going to harm their teeth (but it tastes goooood, Mom.) Priorities differ, I suppose. 

I might say no to another Popsicle, but I will jump to get them something good for their hearts, minds or bodies, and I bet you are the same. It makes us feel good to give our children good things, and God tells us He feels the same way.

Read Luke 11:9-13 and record what insights you gain about your own beliefs about what you "should" and "should not" ask from God.

God says He delights in giving us good things. Some of you might worry about abusing God's generosity. Don't. I think it is safe to say that you can pray all day long about a new Ferrari and chances are, one is not going to appear in your garage. I could be wrong - God might want to bless you in just that way, but over all, we can go ahead and ask, and trust God to judge what's good for us. I know my kids ask two or three times a day to play Playstation, even though they know I'm only going to allow them to play once a day, most times. If they've had enough, I just say no. But once in a while . . . So go ahead and ask. If He says no, you're no worse off today than you were yesterday.

Do you want to make sure every prayer you pray gets a resounding "Yes!"? Then, look up the following verses in which God tells us exactly which desires are always granted.

James 4:3 (in fact, just read that whole paragraph starting with 4:1-6. Really, that whole book is chock full of good advice.)
Matthew 6:1-15

Find out what God says is important and worth praying about, and pray that. Jesus promises that if we pray in God's will, our prayers will be answered. Secondly, believe.

You must make a decision to believe God is working in your situation. He hears your prayers or He doesn't. He loves you or He doesn't. He is Good, or He isn't. Make a choice, and stick with it. The phrase I took home with me from the conference, one that stuck, was "I believe God is working on this situation."

I can't tell you how many times over the last week that I have been tempted to start worrying over a situation again, after I have prayed mind you, and that phrase pops up in my mind. As soon as I say it aloud, "I believe God is working on this, I have prayed about it, God heard me, and He is working on it," well, instantly I feel at peace.

I want you to try that today and let me know what happens. And please joinme tomorrow for the remaining prayer hindrances. Let's pray together:

Dear Lord, thank you for sharing your heart and your Word with us today. Change me from the inside out, Father. Let me pray prayers that are in Your Will; give me desires that You would have me want; give me the strength to believe You are working in my situation today, amen.

Links to bible study posts:
A good bible study - intro
Something can and must change - day one
The rest of the story, or the 6 missing hindrances - day three 

Photo by Gina Smith, courtesy of