Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I am going to be out of touch for the next week - a long awaited trip with my husband - so, I have some verses and lessons for you to do on your own for the next seven days. You can do it - this will be good for you to look through the bible and let the Holy Spirit move in you. Come back each day, and just work through this post. Let's pray:
Father, bless each person reading this now. Open Your Word to them in an awe-inspiring, heart-pumping, Holy-Spirit-praising kind of way. I mean, knock their socks off, Lord! Let each person experience the joy of your living Word in a fresh way this week. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Day One: From The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer:
"When Kristen Hendricks and Jamie Scroggs heard Joyce say, 'What you can't stand, you are called to fix,' they decided to use the abilities God had given them. They created Purse of Hope, a program to gather funds to rescue, educate, and heal victims of suffering worldwide."
"I've never cried that much in my life . . . the second the video started, I just started crying and I didn't know why. I was really in shock because I didn't really know that stuff was happening . . . just the fact that it was everywhere, and in America . . . I had no idea. That's when we came together . . . and decided to do something about it." - Michigan Teenagers
"Five teenagers started Relentless Ministries to raise money for world needs. They organized a walk-a-thon and a benefit concert, sold T-shirts, and more. As a result of all their hard work, they raised more than $24,000!
"At the end of the video stories, Kristen Ohlman, one of the teenagers, says, 'This changed my life by showing me that I can do something bigger than myself. When you just give your all to God and just say, "God, use me to do something," He will really use you.'
What does the above mean to you personally?
Is there something you are being called to fix?
Lord, help us to respond to your call to fix things, even if all we can do is make a phone call, pack up some boxes of extra clothes, or even organize a fund-raiser. Help us to not do . . . nothing. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Day Two: Pray with me. Lord, today fill me up with ideas and give me the courage to act on my inspiration! In the name of Jesus, amen.
Since yesterday, what opportunities have presented themselves to you to be a help to someone, to be a part of a "fix," or to get involved in a cause that tugs on your heart?
How can you use your talents and gifts to help in these areas?
Look up three verses in your bible that have to do with helping others and write them here:
Father, as I read Your Word, and discover Your thoughts, I ask you to make it change my heart. Give me a desire to help others, an opportunity to help others, and the resources to help others, in Jesus name, amen.
Day Three: Let's open our bibles and pray for a fresh insight from God: Father, as we read Your Word, change us! In the name of Jesus, amen.
Read Ephesians 4:16
He makes the whole body fit together ________. As each part does its own special _______, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is _____ and _______ and full of _______ New Living Translation
What does this tell you about yourself as a part of the body of Christ?
Lord, help me to be a healthy, working, part of the body. Make me useful and give me a glad heart about it! In Jesus' name, amen.
Day Four: Lord, this week I want to develop a love for all people. It has got to come from you, Lord. Let your Holy Spirit fill me with Your Love this week, like no other time in my life. Thank you, in the name of Jesus, amen.
Read Philippians 1:6
And I am certain that God, who began the _____ ______within you, will ______ His work until it is finally finished on the day when ______ ______ returns. New Living Translation
If God has begun to stir something in your heart, will He complete it and empower You to do whatever He inspires in you? _______________
Father, thank you for assuring me that if You put it into my heart, into my vision and into my spirit, it will be accomplished! In the name of Jesus, amen.
Day Five: Lord, we meet again and thank You for being here with us. You say that whenever two or three gather in Your name, You are with us! Matthew 18:20 There are many of us reading this, meeting here, and so You are here. We thank you in the name of Jesus, amen.
Read Psalm 138:8
The LORD will _____ His _____ for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the _____ of your hands. New International Version
If God gives you a purpose, you will feel it in your heart. If He does, who is responsible to fulfill it, you or God? ____________
Does that mean you should do nothing? ____________
God says we should do what we can for today, and trust tomorrow to Him. So what can you do today?
Lord, help us to be sensitive to what You have given us to do, and give us the will and the excitement to do it! In Jesus' name, amen.
Day Six: Lord, we are nearing the end of this week of searching Your Word and searching our hearts. Help us to find meaning in both. In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, amen.
Read John 14:26
But the ________ (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the _____ _____, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will _____ you all things. And He will cause you to _____ (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you. The Amplified Bible
You are not alone. When Jesus left His earthly body, He gave us a mystical, magical, marvelous gift! He sent God's Holy Spirit to our hearts, to communicate with us, to Love us, to teach us, and to remind us of His Word. You are never alone if you have asked Jesus to forgive your sins, and to guide your life. If you have never done that, do it now.
Just ask, out loud or in your heart. "Jesus, I want you to lead my life. I am so sorry for the way I have kept you out of my life, and I want you now. I can't do this on my own. I give you everything and want everything You have for me. Amen."
If you prayed this prayer, welcome home beloved in Christ! We are all celebrating with angels for you!!
Father, help us all to renew our love for You, and we ask you now to forgive us our sins. Help us to be aware of when we are drifting away from you, and bring us home. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Day Seven: Lord, I can't wait to see what is in Your Word for me today! Thank you for getting all distractions out of my mind and filling me up with all the patience and understanding I need for the day ahead. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Today is the first day of Chapter Seven of The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. This chapter is about discovering what real love is about. Radical love, the kind that "God gives and Jesus lived." I like that!
Read Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own _____ toward us, in that while we were ____ sinners, Christ died for us.
New King James Version
God didn't wait to love us till we straightened up. Thank God!
How does this verse relate directly to The Love Revolution?
How is this an example of radical love?
God didn't have to send His willing Son to die for us. God doesn't have to love us. Jesus didn't have to give up His freedom for us. How did Paul respond to Jesus' act of love? Read 1 Corinthians 9:19
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. New International Version
Lord, give me the fervor of Paul to love those around me radically, so they might be won to Christ! In the name of Jesus, amen.
Photo by Kavita, courtesy of Photoxpress.com
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Today is an easy day, I think. We are going to talk about our gifts, talents, ideas, resources and skills! Hey, who doesn't like to talk about themselves, right? Let's pray and get right to it:
Father, we thank You for this day, the food we have shared, the friends and family we have around us, and the hope we have in Jesus Christ. We thank You for Your Holy Spirit directing this very study, and infusing Your Word into our thoughts and into our responses. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Think for a moment about your talents, gifts, ideas, resources or the skills that God has instilled into your being. What are you naturally good at, or deeply interested in? Who is around you daily, or in your circle of relationships? What education have you undertaken; jobs you have done; experiences that have increased your knowledge base? List them below:
My natural gifts, talents, and skills:
My resources and possessions:
My ideas and creative outlets:
Now, which of the above have you used to serve God or help His children:
Now that you have made your way through about half of this study, based on The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer, which of the above will you now use to reach out to others in everyday life? Explain in detail:
Pick one of your ideas and decide now to implement it tomorrow. Which will you choose and how will you put it into action?
Read Romans 12:9-13
What is God saying here? Don't just say you love people, like it is a feeling or a personal virtue. Love them like you cannot do enough for them - love them like you think they are the most important person in the world to God!
The word for love in verse 9 is agape. It means the highest form of love, a self-sacrificial love. "Let love be without hypocrisy" [hɪˈpɒkrəsɪ] n pl -sies
1. the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc., contrary to one's real character or actual behaviour, esp the pretence of virtue and piety
2. an act or instance of this
I read this as: "Let love be without pretense of virtue! Hate evil, grab onto what is good like your life depends on it! Treat each other like your most beloved sibling, and let the others have their way instead of demanding your own all the time. Serve God with your kindness towards others with a passion!
Get so happy in the hope of Christ coming back and bringing you to heaven that you just about dance in joy! Keep thinking about God's love when things are difficult, hang in there and don't let yourself focus on disappointments because whatever it is, God is working on it! So, keep talking to God in prayer and keep on focusing on helping other people instead of complaining about yourself. Knowing you are important in their lives will lift you up and bring you joy."
We talked about getting real, remember? Stop being kind because it's the "Christian" thing to do, and start being kind because it's your thing to do. You are a kind person because God is kind to you.
If you are not feeling God's kindness, don't just assume His love is not for you, or that you haven't earned it. Get on your knees and tell Him you want His love and you are not moving until you get some of it! He loves you, do you hear me?
When I have not felt His love it has been because I wanted His gifts alone, I wanted money, I wanted things to work out my way, I wanted Him to do something for me. That is not love, that is obedience. God does not obey me, shockingly. But He does love me.
Ask Him for love, just love. Cry out to Him. Tell Him you need some Holy Spirit filled, angel-singing on mountain-tops, take-me-home-to-Jesus kind of LOVE!
Now, you better sit down . . . because it's coming.
Lord, help us to rejoice in our hope in You. Give us the ability to be patient in the middle of trouble. Give us a desire to pray, to help others when they need help and prayer, and an attitude of hospitality. Lord, make us excited to hang out with people who don't know you, but need to. When we feel slighted, let our first thought be to pray for that person, instead of ways we can hurt them in return.
(Now personalize this) Mostly, Lord, let every person who sees me say, "There goes a child of the Most High, for sure!" In Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Your story can be a gift. Read Romans 12:6-8
Our personal histories can be a prophecy, a ministry, a teaching, an exhortation, a gift, leadership, and a mercy to those with whom we share them.
Think about your life, the mistakes you've made, the plans that didn't work out, and what made the difference. Decide to share part of your history with the person God brings into your life just for that purpose today.
Dear Lord, thank you for bringing us out of more messes than we would like to admit. Help us to bless someone else today with our history, our wisdom. Help us to learn from Your wisdom so we will make choices that bring us a joyful future. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Let's get right into prayer and into the Word!
Lord, we hear the term "Get real" all the time. Help me to be a "real" Christian. Help me to live what I say I believe. Help me to determine what I do believe and why I believe it, so I don't need to justify who I am to anyone, anymore. I don't need to say it, I can live it! In the name of Your Son, Jesus who gave His life so I might have mine, amen.
What does that mean to "get real?"
I say it to mean, "Give me a break, don't try to fool me with that," or "Get the blinders off and see what is really happening to you or with this situation," or "stop joking around and be serious," or any number of things.
Mostly I think we say "get real" to either mean to be sincere in our behavior, or in our understanding of a situation, don't you think?
Do you think people in general think most Christians are sincere in our behavior or have a good grasp of their real life situations?
Sometimes we are insincere by not being who we say we are. Other times we are insincere by not saying how we really are, inside.
Try these simple exercises. You will get more out of this study if you take a few minutes and write down your answers, look up the verses, and pray the prayers, I promise.
What is one thing as a Christian that you say you believe, but you haven't really acted out in daily life?
Do you believe this thing, or not? Be honest, there is no right answer. ______
If your answer is yes, will you choose to take one action today to act out what you believe? _______
If your answer is no, why not?
Either way, look in the back of your bible and find three verses that have to do with the subject and look them up. Write them here:
Have you changed your mind? ___________
Either way, you know yourself better now than you did fifteen minutes ago. Now you are getting real.
When your behavior matches your true convictions, you feel genuine and others respond to you with trust and respect.
Try this with anything you find you are not acting out and see if you can determine if the problem is that you just have not taken action on your belief, or that you really don't believe it. Get to know the real you.
Photo by M. Bartosch, courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net
Have you noticed anything different since you prayed the Love Revolution Prayer? Sometimes when you pray about something things will seem easier. Other times, it just seems like you have more opportunity to be aware of your need for God's intervention! It's like praying for patience, sometimes you feel more patient, sometimes you become aware of just how impatient you normally are!
Let's pray now: Father, thank you for being here with each of us in this study. Thank you for hearing our prayers. Give us the will to act on the desires you are placing in our hearts to help others. Open our eyes to who around us needs help. In the name of Jesus, amen.
We have discovered over the past weeks that there are people in our homes that need our love and appreciation, and there are people overseas who desperately need our resources. Who else needs help? How about the people we work with, sit next to on the bus, chat with at church - the ones who answer the question, "How are you?" with "Fine."
Who do you know who has not experienced a loss of some kind? Who do you know who is not secretly hurting about some relationship or other? Who do you know who is not worried about their finances, or their children, or their future?
What are some practical ways you can live out the Love Revolution with these individuals?
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for some ideas.
How about giving someone the benefit of the doubt before biting off their heads over a mistake?
How about letting someone else have the last word, or the last one-up?
What if we sat down at lunch with someone outside of our circle of friends and asked them about their lives?
Can we excuse ourselves when others begin to gossip without condemning them, or simply smile and say, "I promised myself to not listen to, or say, one negative thing about anyone for one day so help me out and change the subject!" ?
Think of one person you can take an interest in today and write their name here:
Now think of one kindness you can do for them today:
Vow to focus on that person tomorrow, and any chance you get, do something kind for them. If they ask you why, say "Jesus told me you needed a friend today, so here I am."
Tell me how it goes in the comments - I can't wait to hear!!
Resources: The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer
Photo by Dmitri Mikitenko, courtesy of Photoxpress.com
Friday, August 20, 2010
Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!
Today we are simply going to take a break because we have been working hard all week with some difficult concepts, for a lot of us. Today I ask only that you join me in a powerful prayer written by Joyce Meyer. This particular prayer also completes chapter five, in The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal.
If this prayer is one you can say whole-heartedly, wonderful. If not, pray also that God will move on your heart so that in time, you will mean it. That's all it takes, a willingness to be changed by His strength, instead of our own.
Pray with me:
"Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I know that I can't live this lifestyle of loving other people, caring about other people, making them feel valuable if You don't help me. Lord, help me be less self-focused and more focused on other people. Holy Spirit, show me when I am not living God's way. Put things on my heart that I can do to show people that they have value. Help me understand that little things make a huge difference. Help ME be that difference. Help me live The Love Revolution in every encounter I have with the people around me. Amen."
What is the most important truth you are seeing in a Good Bible Study, over the past few days? Journal what you feel God's Word is speaking to your heart:
Photo by Lars Christensen, courtesy of Photoxpress.com
Hello! Welcome again to A Good Bible Study - let's get right to it!
Father, thank You for the person who is reading these words. Bless them Lord. You know their heart's desire, and their greatest need. You know what will make a difference today for them. I thank You for opening their eyes to Your love, and hearts to Your message. In the name of Jesus, amen.
I'm going to point you to the Word first thing today. Please read Matthew 25:31-40. I want you to hear the whole context of the message. I think it is important when we are given a scripture, that we read the verses before and also after, and if there are study notes under the passages, read those as well. That way you know for yourself what the verse is about.
Jesus said that in as much as we ______ the hungry, and give water to the ________, and _______ those who need covering, or _____________ the sick, and also those who are in ____________, we have done it to __________.
He also says further on that if we turn our backs on those who are hungry, thirsty, without proper clothing, sick or in prison, we have in essence, turned our backs on Him.
Puts things in a new light, doesn't it.
Does Jesus ask us to question how people got into their predicament to decide whether or not they deserve help? ___________
Does Jesus ask us to follow them around and see if they please us with their use of our gifts? ________
Does Jesus ask us to give them help only if we can spare the time, or are exceptionally wealthy, or know for certain people are innocent of the crime for which they are imprisoned? ________
Can you and I make a pact? Let's choose from today onward to just give value to every person we come into contact with. That's all. Treat them as if they are of value. Treat them as if they are Jesus in disguise.
How are some ways you can treat even strangers with value?
Revolutions are dangerous. What are the spiritual implications of being kind to those who are in need, or ignoring them? Read Matthew 25:41-46
So, does God want you to help people out of fear of His retribution? Absolutely not.
He simply wants us to understand that love is action, not words. God knows if you have a heart to help those in need, it is a reflection of your love for Him; of the fact you truly value Jesus and follow Him in sincerity. If you do not care about hurting people, you cannot sincerely care about Jesus.
If you say you believe that Jesus is God; that you believe God came to earth in a human form for the sole purpose of sacrificing Himself to buy our freedom; that you believe He loves all of us, not just the ones who do everything right, then how in the world could you not care about what He cares for?
Does that mean you give your whole life over to going to the jail in the morning, to the hospital in the afternoon, the homeless shelter before dinner, and the food shelf each evening? Getting out of balance is not loving yourself and we are to love others as well as ourselves, not instead of ourselves.
Give it some thought and tell me what you come up with.
Lord, these are difficult concepts for many of us. All we ask is that you soften our hearts so we can see how giving to those in need, no matter the cause or circumstance, is the same as giving to You. "We do this in remembrance of You." We say those words as we take communion in church. Let us say those words whenever we give to one of your children on earth. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Looking for Jesus in disguise, Karen
Photo by Ann Triling, courtesy of Photoxpress.cm
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Let's get the most out of our time by praying first:
Lord, this study has been challenging me, sometimes it is hard to face the way I have not loved myself as You do, or loved others the way You love. Help me to see that loving others does not mean becoming a person who others take advantage of, or putting myself in unsafe conditions, or any of the other conditions my fear wants to put up.
It just means changing my attitude from judging, to loving. To becoming concerned enough to pray for someone genuinely, or to do something to put them on the right path to help themselves, or to ease one burden today. Give me a kind heart. In the name of Jesus, amen.
I hope you are praying along with me, or praying what God puts on your own heart. We are all more alike than different, and I think often what God puts on my heart to print, is what He is putting on your heart to pray. What do you think?
This lesson was harder for me than any of the others, and I was tempted to skip past it. That's right, I was tempted to just say, "Oh, we don't really need to go there, do we."
I read on because I remembered that God can change anything about me that I am willing to let Him have. I remembered that all He is asking is that I allow Him to soften my heart.
He merely suggested I become open to the possibility that even those who put themselves right into the pit in which they dwell, might want on some level, to get out. And based on that information, what could I do to make that choice a little easier for them?
Joyce Meyer said many churches pray for revival, but the truth is if we actually had one, a lot of people would come into the church who are nothing like us. We would rather stay in our bubble of comfortable homogeneity.
Do you know the history of The Salvation Army? The founders, William and Catherine Booth were born into poverty, and worked to help the poor all of their lives. He was never a rich man by any means, yet it is said that when William died, 150,000 people filed by his casket and 40,000, including Queen Mary, attended his funeral.
Literally millions of people have become Christ followers because of the Booth's love action. They didn't have a sports arena or massive church, they preached in tents, haylofts, and small rooms. Their motto was "Go for souls and go for the worst!" Today the Salvation Army continues to fight the good fight with 25,000 "officers" in 91 countries!
As a believer, up to this point, have you gone for souls and gone for the worst? Whatever your answer is, it's just the truth, not a judgement on your faith or salvation. My answer was certainly not a "yes."
Open your heart and ask yourself this question. Don't consider "shoulds" just be open to "coulds."
What could you do to positively change your answer?
Here is another tough one. If they walked into church Sunday or Saturday morning, would you really be willing to help different types of people, those who have face jewelry, who do not shower, who have a past (or a present), who are a different color, or come from a different value system and don't know how to behave in church?
In what ways do your heart and mind have to change to pop the "bubble," and love without judgement?
Which classes and categories of people have you shut out? I have always had difficulty staying in relationship with those who seem unwilling to do anything to help themselves, to change their circumstances, or to change themselves instead of complaining about everyone else.
How can you reach out to that type of person, to actually bring them into God's kingdom where He can help?
If we are a part of the Love Revolution, we choose to make a heart change. Say out loud with me:
With your strength and love Lord, instead of judging them, I will meet them where they are and help them get to where they need to be. I will let you guide my help, so I am truly a help, not a hindrance. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Leave a comment or email me and tell me what has changed for you, or what you struggled with during this lesson. Do it now before you talk yourself out of it. Love, Karen
Photo by Friday, courtesy of photoxpress.com
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Let's pray right away for God to give us wisdom and understanding as we get into His Word.
Lord, we want to know Your thoughts, show us what is important to You. We want to love what You love, show us who and what You love. Strip away our prejudices and open our eyes to people the way You see them, not the way we've learned to see. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Have you ever had an experience in which you meet someone and think they are so different than you, you just won't have anything in common, then as you get to know them, you see you are so much alike that you begin to believe this could be one of the great friendships of your life?
I had just that sort of experience recently. I met a woman that at first glance, seemed so different than me, from a culture that seemed foreign to my eyes, and who I thought would have no interest in me either. I prepared to dismiss any thought of conversation with her until the Holy Spirit asked me, "How do you think she feels being in a room full of people who look more like each other than they look like her? Wow. I never considered that she might feel alone.
I started a conversation with her and we spent most of the event we were at, laughing and talking like two long-lost best friends. I was amazed at just how much we did have in common, may be not in looks or in background, but in ideas and humor and aspirations. Meeting my friend was one of the highlights of the event.
Isn't it great to know that God created us all so much alike, and it is only our own expectations that make us believe we are too different to relate to one another? If that's the case, we can change, and be blessed by so many more friendships than we ever thought possible, when we thought we had to stick to only those who looked like we do.
Read Acts 10:34-35
Then Peter opened his mouth and said, "In truth I perceive that God has no _____________. But in every nation whoever fears (respect, reverence, awe) Him and works righteousness is ___________ by Him.
Go on to Acts 10:43
To Him all prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him, will receive _________ of sins.
Read James 2:1-4
God only sees our hearts, not the statistically insignificant differences we all seem to think are so important.
Is there someone you have decided is not worth pursuing in friendship because they look different, have different tastes in clothing or hairstyle, wear jewelry anywhere except in their ears, or grew up in a different culture?
What does God's Word say about the way we judge others and decide who is worth talking with, or not?
How can I live out His truths in the way I interact with everyone I encounter, regardless of their dress, way of talking, color, or background?
What do we need to understand in order to be kind and merciful to people?
Let's finish with James 2:13 NIV: Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
Father, open our eyes - teach us to show mercy and kindness to everyone we meet. Help us to let down the self-imposed walls of superiority and see others as they are in Your sight: as our siblings in Christ. Let me accept my sisters and brothers as being in Your care, knowing You are helping them where they are at, which might surprise me to know is often much closer to love, wisdom, and truth than may be where I am at.
Help me to be one person in their life today who accepts them as what they are, someone who is more like me than different. Someone who makes mistakes and also experiences success, who is searching for love and acceptance, searching for a deeper relationship with God, just like me. In Jesus' name, amen.
Photo by Graur Codrin, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net
Monday, August 16, 2010
We are entering chapter five of The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. Let's pray for our hearts to be changed by today's message:
Lord, thank you for bringing us together today, to share in Your love and Your wisdom. We ask you to strengthen our love for You today, and for those in our families. Help us to bless someone in our own home today. In Jesus' name, amen.
Let me ask you: has this study brought about any real change in you so far? ______
Are you more of a love revolutionary now, than when you began this study? ________
John and Abigail Adams wrote more than one thousand letters to each other over the course of their lifetimes. They encouraged each other during our nation's most challenging time. In regards to the Revolutionary War, John Adams wrote: "The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations."
His wife, and our second 1st Lady wrote: "You cannot be, I know, an inactive spectator . . . We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them."
What are some things you have done, or begun to plan to do, to move from being an inactive spectator to a love revolutionary?
During the next week, we will focus on ways to make others feel valuable. Don't you love it when someone does something for you that makes it clear they see you as valuable?
Read Philipians 4:8-9
Based on these verses, what are some qualities in your loved ones that you can compliment?
Is there anything true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent,
absolutely anything worthy of praise - find it and make a big ol' sloppy deal over it! God says to practice these things, and the peace of God will be with you.
Want some examples? Here are some examples of the way our family shows value to one another.
- I love it when my husband has paid attention to my likes and dislikes. He usually buys me flowers to show his love, and I feel especially important when he buys me my favorites, instead of his.
- On birthdays, I make the special person breakfast in bed, their choice, and they also get to choose the dinner menu.
- We pray over each child every night thanking God for their presence in our home and family, and asking for help with any particular problem that child is experiencing.
Photo by AndreyPS, courtesy of Photoxpress.com
Sunday, August 15, 2010
If you are here, it's because you are meant to read today's message. It's the right message for you, at the right time. Let's get ready to receive it with prayer:
Lord, You arrange no coincidences, no chance occurrences, nothing happenstance. You brought me here at this time, for this message. Open my heart and mind to understand what You would have me know in this moment. Thank you. In the name of Jesus, amen.
I was reading my copy of Enjoying Everyday Life magazine, this morning. If you don't already receive it by mail, you can get it for free by signing up for it at Joyce Meyer Ministries. Here is the link.
As I read, I began to circle and underline certain passages, a sentence here or there, marking good quotes and adding my own notes as insights were sparked along the way.
Dr. John C. Maxwell, leadership expert and founder of EQUIP, is a contributor to the magazine, as is Stasi Eldridge, of Ransomed Heart Ministries, and author of the excellent book and bible study "Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul." A common theme through out this issue was attitude - good or bad, everything begins in the heart!
Read one of my favorite verses, Proverbs 4:23. Here are a few different translations:
NLT: Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do. [Hebrew for from it flow the springs of life. ] (NLT - Tyndale House)
NIV: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (NIV - IBS)
ICB: Be very careful about what you think. Your thoughts run your life. (ICB: Nelson)
Joyce Meyer says one of the biggest revelations she has received from God is that our real lives are not the ones everyone else sees, our real lives are the lives we are living inside. I would say that's in our hearts and in our attitudes.
Read Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the _____ in ______, for they shall see God.
The Greek word for blessed is maka/riov or makarios and it means both blessed, and also, happy.
The word for pure means "without corrupt desire," and the word for heart, means the "center of physical and spiritual life."
"See" means not only to see with our own eyes once we have left this earthly life, but it also means to "know from personal experience! "
So, you can also read it "If you want to be happy, then focus on good desires and do not dwell on negative and envious temptations, and you will know God personally, and will see Him face to face!"
How do we walk that out? For one thing, Dr. Maxwell says we have a choice each time we interact with anyone else: we can lift them up, or we can limit them. Are you a lifter or a limiter? _______________________
He adds that the most important asset we can develop is a teachable attitude. Our attitude is the thoughts that springs from our heart. If you're willing to be taught, you can learn something from everyone you meet. If you walk away from any relationship having learned nothing, you wasted a lot of time and energy, don't you think?
Read Mark 4:24 and pay attention to the second part where it talks about those who will hear.
It means that if you are willing to hear God's Word and learn from it, more insight and understanding will be given you. Likewise, if you go through life willing to learn, it's not surprising that you will continue to grow in wisdom and understanding overall.
Sometimes we go through periods of life when we feel like we are the last word on pretty much everything. No one we meet has anything of value to offer us. We are not interested in anyone's opinion but our own. I spend a lot of years like that. I'm sure my family, and probably my friends too, were relieved when God starting working on my attitude of superiority.
Now it seems the more I learn, the more I learn how much I need to learn. Anyone else on the same page?
Andrew Murray was one of the chief promoters of the call to missions in South Africa, and is now best known for his devotional classics. Among these are Abide in Christ, Absolute Surrender, With Christ in the School of Prayer, The Spirit of Christ and Waiting on God.
He said, "Our humility toward others is the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real."
Father, soften our hearts and our attitudes. Make us to be humble and teachable. Above all, continually remind us to guard our hearts, our thoughts, and our motives because we want to be happy, and to know you in a real and personal way. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Photo by Luigi Diamonti, courtesy of Photoxpress.com
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Let’s get our hearts activated with some Holy Spirit prayer:
Father, give us the courage today to ask you to change our hearts to really desire to help hurting people. Help us see our prejudices as keeping us away from real friendship with You. Let us at least be willing to be changed by You, even if we don’t feel we can change on our own. In the name of Jesus, amen.
I can’t believe it, but we are almost half-way through The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer.
In the center of the workbook, there are photos of some of the millions of people the Joyce Meyer Ministry is trying to reach with practical help, like food, clothing, water, and bible resources. She lists some shocking statistics that I almost passed by, not wanting to feel anything about something I can’t do much about, but realized my ignoring it didn’t mean it wasn’t happening.
Praying for God to help me set aside my judgements, and have compassion for people regardless of how they got there, I read every caption. What I found was staggering.
I won’t list them all, but at least have the courage to read the few I share with you, and understand, no one, no matter into what life they were born, wants to stay hungry, be forced into sexual slavery, drink from bacteria and feces-contaminated water, or abandon their children to live off trash in a garbage dump.
If you are living in comfort above what I just listed, you are among the richest 1% in the world. You can afford a few minutes of discomfort to read this:
•Of the 2.2 billion children in the world today, 640 million do not have a sturdy roof over their heads, 400 million don’t have clean or safe drinking water, and 270 million do not have any access to medical services, whatsoever.
•Every two minutes a child, aged 5 and up, is being prepared for sexual exploitation and 1.2 million children are trafficked as new sex slaves every year, adding to the millions already held captive!
•One child across the planet dies from hunger every 5 seconds, about 10 million die before their 5th birthday each year.
•The “Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)” in Uganda has abducted more than 30,000 children to force them to serve as soldiers and sex slaves.
•In Thailand, girls as young as 6 years old are forced into prostitution, with children making up a third of the at least 200,000 prostitutes.
Where is our outrage?
God cares about each of us, from the wealthiest to the poorest, from the strong to the weak and infirm, from the believer to the most arrogant sinner, from the greatest, to the weak. He cares for you.
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. Proverbs 14:31 English Standard Version
If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord — and he will repay you! Proverbs 19:17
New Living Translation
If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.
New International Version
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 58:7 The Message
What are we supposed to do with all this information?
This is real love - not that we love God, but that He loves us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.
1 John, 4:9-12 New Living Translation
God, make us love each other, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Photo by Renata Osinski
Courtesy of Photoxpress.com
Friday, August 13, 2010
Anybody tempted to run back to that prosperity teaching? You know, just keep sending in your money folks, and then go on living your life, business as usual, and don't worry because now God is obligated to open the store houses and return to you a hundred fold for your investment . . .
I have no doubt there are preachers and teachers sharing this message in the proper way, who are not suggesting God will bless us financially in direct exchange for our monetary generosity. And yes, we are responsible to help support our ministers and missionaries so they can concentrate on serving. I'm just saying we can all get real off balance with thinking money is the answer to our problems and that we can manipulate God into providing it.
To tell you the truth, I was right there with you a few years ago. I learned the hard way that God is not obligated to do a darn thing but love me (that's a verb, remember.) He's a good parent. He knows what we need to grow up well.
Did you know God wants you to grow up and be his friend? We all start out as babies with our little mouths open saying, "feed me, feed me!" And everyone loves babies, right? So full of wonder and excitement! But, no one wants to change diapers forever. In addition to listening to preachers and teachers, we need to open those Bibles and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His Word to us personally!
That's why I have you look up verses for yourselves. Because I want to help you get comfortable going to God yourself and learning who He is firsthand.
Jesus says we must keep that quality of excitement and wonder for God, but also grow up and develop the ability to remain passionate through faith, through our own knowledge of the Word, through testing our faith and seeing He is faithful to help us when we call on Him. Let me tell you, the knocks of life can quickly quench the fire of someone new to knowing God, who thinks God will now protect them from all uncomfortable circumstances or pain.
I was that baby Christian and I was sorely disappointed to find out being a Christian didn't mean God would spare me from pain, it meant He would bring me through pain to the other side. I had to grow up and realize I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me - not protects me always, not puts me in a bubble in which I can have no compassion for those in pain because I have never felt pain.
Read Philippians 4:13.
Do you remember the lesson in which we learned that Christ always goes first, then encourages you to follow His example? No matter how it hurts, He felt it first. No matter how much is scares you, keep your eyes on Him and He will show you how to do it afraid.
Christ didn't calm the waves when He walked on water. He just walked on water and told Peter to get out of the boat and walk on the water after him. Read Matthew 14:25-33 for yourself.
A follower of Christ should be in some ways like a child: sincere, eager, trusting in the Lord (faith), and aware of your total dependence on God's strength to live life in joy and with courage. Read Mark 10: 13-16.
Jesus said you must receive His kingdom (His gift of salvation) with child-like belief, open-hearted and with no reservations if you expect to enter His heavenly kingdom one day.
Why do you think that is true? Why not believe just enough to pass in church?
Jesus also tells us He wants us to maintain that child-like belief yet grow up and be a true friend of God.
To whom do you turn for advice? Your friend. Who's opinion do you value? Your friend. Who do you need to have your back at all times? Your friend. Who do you expect to be there when they are needed? Your friend.
What do you expect from a true friend?
Read Exodus 33:11
"So the Lord spoke to Moses _____ to ______, as a man speaks to his _________." NKJV
Read 2 Chronicles 20:7
"Are you not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of _________, Your ___________ forever?" NKJV
What does God say makes a true friend? Read Psalm 17:17 for the answer. Write it below:
____ _______ _________ _____ _____ ________.
Moses and Abraham loved God at all times, not just when God did everything they wanted, in their timing, and according to their demands. They were His friends.
Father, I want to grow up and be your friend. Help me to love you always, not matter what comes. Where else can I go Lord? Who else could love me without condition the way You do? Who else is always working things out for the best for me? No matter where I am when I turn to you, You are already there ready to bring me out of despair and into Your love. Help me to allow you to take any circumstance, no matter how painful, and bring good from it, and from me. Make me a good friend, Lord, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Photo by Andrew Kazmierski
Courtesy of photoxpress.com
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Lord, I am being changed from the inside out because of You and I want to shout to the world, "Finally!" I spent so many years trying to get what I wanted from You, and feeling like a failure. Now, I just want to receive whatever You want me to have and guess what? You are giving me exactly what satisfies me! We are hungry, Father. We pray for what You want to give us. Open our hearts and fill us till we are overflowing with Your good gifts. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Questions used to rule my mind. "What does God want from me? What am I supposed to do? How should I react?" Sound familiar?
As I work through The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer, I realized we all ask these questions, sometimes in earnest, sometimes in anger, sometimes in defeat.
The irony of it all, is that God has told us in a million and one ways what He wants, what He expects, and what He requires from us, in His letter to each of us: the Bible. Let's answer those questions today, once and for all.
Do a search with the term "Define Justice" (or look in your dictionary) and write your answer below:
Have you ever had a disagreement with someone and said, "It's not the _______, it's the principle of the thing?" We all want what is fair, right and balanced, do we not? It offends us to be treated in a manner that seems unfair. We are outraged when we see those who are innocent, underprivileged, or incapacitated, mistreated.
Your heavenly Father feels the same way. Since we are each created in His image, does it surprise you? We're going to journey to the Old Testament today, in the last few books before the New Testament begins.
Read Micah 6:8 for a very simple, straightforward explanation of what God wants from you. Put your name in place of "O man," which means all mankind.
"He has shown you, ____________, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do ____________, to love ___________, and to walk __________ with your God?" New King James Version.
Is this our human nature? Not really. But all we have to do is ask Him for the strength, courage, and ability to be fair and just, be merciful and kind, and live humbly with God, remembering that all good in us and for us comes from Him. If you still believe there is anything good in you that is of you, and not of God, you are in for a rude awakening.
Not convinced? Ask God to open your eyes to yourself. Go on, if you are sincere, He will. When God showed me probably just a small slice of my selfish nature, I was heartily ashamed and sobbed for more than an hour. You know what else I was? Grateful. I am a better wife and mother for knowing what I am without God's Spirit working in me and empowering my love.
It's a lot easier to be merciful, forgive the failings of the people we love and even those we hate, when we get a good eyeball on the measure that God has been giving us.
Jeremiah 22:16 quotes our Lord describing a man named Josiah and says:
"16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD." (New International Version)
To defend is to seek justice: right, fair, and balanced treatment. God says to seek right, fair, and balanced treatment for the poor (no matter the cause of their poverty) and the needy. Who do you see around you that is poor in some way? Are they poor financially, or poor in spirit (unhappy)? Who around you is needy? Do they need a ride to the doctor, help in caring for their children, their next meal, or a good home?
This is where our flesh rises up indignantly and justifies our doing nothing by declaring," I can't save everyone. (You can save one.) It's not safe to bring strangers into my home! (You can find out where the homeless shelter is, and pay for a cab ride, or notify a Pastor or social worker of the need.) I don't have enough money for my own family. (You have clothing you no longer wear that can be donated; you have extra garden produce that can go to a food shelf; you have some time you can give to deliver Meals on Wheels.)
And if there is truly not one phone call you can make, one item you can give, one dollar you can spend, one place you can help, you can sincerely pray for the hungry, the needy, the homeless, the poor. Pray for help, pray for resources, pray for a change in their circumstance and in your ability to help.
What does God want? He wants you to care about the situation of those in your field of vision and awareness, and to act. He wants to you to find out who is poor and needy, and to act. That's it. If you know Him, if you believe Jesus came to save all, if you have let Him sacrifice Himself for you, then God says your heart cannot help but feel compassion for the poor, the needy, the widow and the orphan.
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:8 (NIV)
It can't get any plainer than that.
Lord, help us to know You so well, that we cannot help but act when we see a need. We pray for wisdom so we know how to act with justice and mercy, and to live humbly before You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Photo of people praying in St. Peter's Basilica, by the photoholic. Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
By the way, I am so excited to hear how your day went after yesterday's session. It was a moving, meaningful lesson for me, one of those good crying, praying, loving God loving me kind of moments.
Let's pray for more of those:
Father, I thank you for opening my heart more fully to you. I pray for a soul-searching, heart-wrenching, love-fest kind of session today in your Word, for each person reading this. You know what we each need, Lord. We want it and we want it abundantly! In the name of Jesus, amen.
God has so much for us. The great thing is He does 99% of the work. All we have to do is be willing to be renewed. Are you willing?
If not, what is holding you back?
Say a prayer on your own right now, asking God to remove any obstacles in your heart or mind.
When you're done, begin by reading Romans 12:2 to see what God can do with a willing heart.
"And do not be ____________ to this world, but be ________ by the renewing of your mind, that you prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God." New King James Version
The Message translation says it this way: "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Conformed means to mold or form yourself to the world, which is defined as the current age or era. The Nelson Study Bible New King James version emphasizes that spiritual transformation starts in the heart and mind.
If you are dedicated to following your culture's concerns and values, you will be tossed back and forth by the current of popular opinion. But those who are dedicated to God's truth can stand the test of time. "We can resist the temptation of our culture by meditating (thinking about it frequently and studying what it means) on God's truth and letting the Holy Spirit shape our thoughts and behaviors."
Joyce Meyer, the author of the study I'm in the midst of, The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, calls this verse a "revolutionary war verse."
She says, "Love is the power of the Gospel . . . Jesus died for all, that all those who live might no longer live those selfish, self-centered - me,me,me - lives, but they might live to and for Him. He died so that you would not have to live a life that you are in all alone. Love is the highest form of spiritual warfare." p. 53
Read 2 Corinthians 5:15
Joyce recommends we write this verse down, and take it out throughout the day and read it. Let it sink into your spirit, and commit it to memory. It is why He gave his earthly life, and why He rose from the dead, to demonstrate to all of us who will not believe without seeing, that He is the Christ, the Son of God, able to take the punishment we deserve, and yet have the Authority to transform Himself from death to eternal life.
You know, the historical evidence, aside from the Bible even, is so overwhelming that Jesus lived as a human being, was crucified just as described in the Word, and was raised from the dead to resume His ministry on earth for another 40 days, to demonstrate He did what He said He would do . . . is remarkable. Read books like The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel (for one) that research and document the historical evidence.
Not one writing of the day, not even from His enemies, not one religion (even the Muslim religion) refutes the fact that He lived, was crucified, and rose again on the third day, performed all the miracles in Scripture, and ascended into heaven in full view of the people (Acts 1:3). It would take more faith to disbelieve Jesus, than to believe.
He is real, and you would not be here today if some part of you did not believe that already. He wants to renew you from the inside out. He is renewing me even now. If you have not already, join the revolution!
Lord, thank you for every moment you took on human form and lived as us, and for us. You took the pain that was mine, you accepted the blame that rightly belongs to me. Change me Lord, every day do the work for me so I know it wasn't my effort that made this new creation, it was Your love! In the name of Jesus, amen.
Stay still, read 2 Corinthians 5:15 again, and be transformed.
Photo by Dmitry Remesov, courtesy of photoxpress.com
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
You might have also been experiencing a feeling of fear, or dread, about what might happen if you really give your heart to God, and give His Son, Jesus full access to the innermost recesses of your heart. I know that is what happens to me, all the time. But, what I have learned is that fear of any kind is always from Satan, not God. Satan wants to keep you distracted so you won't experience the power and strength that comes from real love, God's love. I have taken some really good advice from Joyce Meyer and that's "Do it afraid!"
The moment you are tired of being afraid that God is going to change your whole world, (He is, you know, but it's the best ride you will ever have!) and say "Yes, God, I'm afraid but I am more afraid of staying the same, so yes, I want You, I want Your love, I want to love others the way You love!" that is when joy begins for you.
If you want to get very little out of this study, give very little. Rush through, skip the prayers, just read without writing down your responses.
If you want to be changed forever, and love the changes, and have people around you talk about the fact that they don't know why, but there's something different about ______, there's a lightness, something that just makes them want to be around you, how you just don't get upset about the small stuff so much, and how you have something in you that they want, too . . . then start out this bible study time by just telling God you want to be a better person in some way at the end of this 15 minutes or half an hour of spending time in His Word.
Tell Him to not let you waste even one session reading through like it's a task to check off! Try reading the prayers aloud and meaning them. This is not rote prayer, traditional prayer that has lost it's meaning and become something you recite ritually. These prayers are powerful if you agree with them, and you also pray them as your own prayer and request from God. God looks at our hearts, not our outer actions. It is so important to understand the difference.
You can also say your own individual prayer before starting the day's study, asking for what you want to get out of it. Even a simple prayer of "God, overcome my human tendency to rush through Your Word, and help me to get everything out of this study today, that I can. In Jesus' name, amen," is so, so powerful if you mean it.
You don't have to pray feeling some emotion. You just have to pray with honesty. You can even pray for a genuine feeling of desiring to get more out of it. What do you have to lose by trying? Believe me, when God moves on your heart to change it, it is exhilarating, never fearful. Satan tries to block us with fear, because he knows fear is the most powerful weapon he has to distract us from God. Your only way out is to surrender, but to God, not to fear. Tell God how afraid you are, and then surrender.
God tells us the way to Life, is to lose your life. This means the way to His eternal Life of joy on earth and eternity in heaven, is to let go of the things in our life, like pride, selfishness, fear, greed, etc. that we think give us so much, and make room for real power - His strength in us. It's like in all the movies, where the hero realizes that he must sacrifice something he really, really wanted, to save his friends or help someone he loves get what they want and deserve, and he finds out that the rewards of that sacrifice end up being so much better than the prize he thought he wanted!
So, don't let fear keep you from your happiness! God promises if you seek Him first, all you have to do is tell fear (yep, try it out loud) to leave in the name of His Son, Jesus - fear and all other spirits of Satan are required to obey. It might sound weird, and you will never know unless you try it.
Let's pray together:
Lord, I admit I have been holding back because of fear. I'm not going to be controlled any more. I want what You have. I would rather follow You even though I am afraid of what You might change, than stay the same and live with no power at all in my life. I say now, out loud, that I resist fear and all other evil spirits in the name of Jesus, and I know that You promise me that these spirits are required to leave me now, in the name of Jesus. I don't want to leave any doors open for those spirits to return, instead I want Your Holy Spirit to be everywhere in me that fear used to reign. Take me Lord, I am yours. In Jesus' name, I will never be the same, in Jesus' name! Amen.
Stay by yourself awhile and feel whatever it is you are feeling, let it sink in, you are a child of God, and the more you give Him of yourself, the more He gives you of Himself. Love, Karen
Photo by JoLin, courtesy of photoxpress.com
Monday, August 9, 2010
Let's pray: Lord, we all want to be happy. You came to give us abundant life and we want what you have to offer. Show us how, Lord, and we will follow. In Jesus' name, amen.
What's the secret to happiness? If it was available, would you buy it? How far would you go to find it? People kill their futures every day selling their souls for cheap counterfeits: Drugs, pornography, sexual conquests . . . what's your poison?
The secret of happiness is the focus of this bible study. What is it? _____
Did you say love? You are right! True, compasssionate, action-driven, love is an open door to real, fulfilling joy.
Read Romans 12:16-21 It's in a whole chapter on the how-to's of behaving like a Christian, walking the walk.
Sounds great on the page, right? How about in real life?
We've talked before about needing His strength to do all things, remember. Love is a gift from God, and He is the only source of the pure stuff. There are no guarantees that your love will be received or appreciated by your fellow humans, but your acts of kindness are seen by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. All that you do, Jesus says, for the least of your fellow humans, you do for me.
Do you get that? It's not about them. It's about Him.
Let that sink in and let's pray:
Father, keep Your face in front of me whenever anyone rejects my pure acts of love. Let me rejoice even when I am rejected because even if others reject my love, You receive it! In Jesus name, amen.
Photo by Alain d'Ortoli, courtesy of photoxpress.com
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Welcome again to A Good Bible Study, where we are learning and growing together in God's Word. You do not need anything but a Bible to follow this study. You can print off the pages and write in them, copy into a notepad and type in your answers, or answer them in a journal of your own.
The inspiration for the current study is The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. You can get your own copy, if you wish, at the Joyce Meyer website. Let's start out with prayer and get our hearts ready to receive a good dose of the Holy Spirit today!
Lord, whatever you have for me is good, and I want it! Prepare my heart to be changed by Your Word today. Make me a blessing to everyone who encounters me today. In the name of Jesus, amen.
I can hardly believe we are on the fourth chapter already. Each day I feel God is working in me, changing me for the better, and making me more of what He wants. I'm excited about what's ahead!
We have shared quite a bit about the effect we can have on others. Most of the time, our good intentions will be received with joy and appreciation. Other times, not so much. I've run into some people who have been so hurt by others in their past they just don't trust anyone. These are the folks who are going to assume if you are kind, you must be up to something.
Joyce Meyer says, "Hurting people hurt people." Do you have any experience in that? Tell me about it:
Jesus said there is no glory in loving people you like, and who like you back. Real love is being able to separate your action from the response, and love even when you are attacked and criticized for your efforts.
How do we handle it when we suffer because we are trying to serve God?
Read 1 Peter 2:21.
Whose example are we to follow when we are suffering the backlash of someone else's past?
Would you like me to be more specific? Read John 10:10.
Satan wants nothing more than to distract you from God's mercy and love, by convincing you that helping others is a waste of your time, thankless, even dangerous. He wants to steal your joy, kill your future, and destroy every hope you have in your heart. He is your enemy, make no mistake.
What did Jesus come for?
I came that (your name) may have ________, and that (your name) may have it more _____________!
Satan wants to destroy your life, and the lives of anyone you care about. Jesus came to give you Life, so that you may enjoy it with abundance!
My Nelson Study Bible commentary says that Abundant Life includes salvation, nourishment, healing, and much more. "Life here refers to eternal life . . . It speaks not only of endlessness, but of quality of life. With Christ, life on earth can reach much higher quality, and then in heaven it will be complete and perfect."
If Jesus is the example we are to follow, what do we need to give ourselves permission to have? Yes, abundant, joyful, LIFE!
What are you called then to share with others: ____________________
Does that mean to stalk people who have rejected our friendship and insist they let you "help" them?
Jesus didn't force His kindness on anyone. When people rejected His message or His disciples He said to shake the dust off your feet and move on. I recall Joyce Meyer saying once that God showed her that she needed to lovingly stop trying to help those who were not ready, or did not want it, to make room for those that did. Leave the door open, pray for the Holy Spirit to do the work you cannot, and kindly move on and get out of the way.
The way to show love to someone who rejects or speaks harshly to us, or about us, is to avoid being hurtful in return. Some good ways to respond to hurtful comments are:
"I'm sorry you feel that way. That wasn't my intention."
"Well, I guess I can't make you like me, but the door is open."
"I'm sorry I hurt you. I didn't mean to and now that I understand how you feel I will try not to do that again."
Another good tool is to repeat what you heard back to them in a question. It will simply sound like you are taking the time to understand their feelings.
"You're saying that I _____ you and it made you really upset?"
"Well, I'm sorry, I didn't know that."
Practice in before you come into contact with someone you know is going to be difficult, and you will feel more confident. Believe me, this will help if you use it.
Pray with me and let the words be from your own heart and intention:
Lord, I know you will empower me to live an abundant life, and to help others live abundantly as well. Give me everything I need to overcome evil with good, everywhere I encounter it. Anger, strife, and resentment cannot stand up against genuine love, forgiveness and humble giving. I will follow your lead! In Jesus' name, amen.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Father, we want to love what You love, and want what You want. Sometimes it is so hard to know when to help and when to wait; how much is too much, and how much is not enough. Help us to remember to ask You when we are unsure, to read enough of Your Word to know Your thoughts, and to have courage to step up when we are needed. In the name of Jesus, amen.
I'm so glad you have come back to the study today. I know this section has been difficult at times, because we are being challenged at some level to do what does not come naturally, most of the time, and that is to set aside our own plans and do something for someone else.
Does this mean never setting limits or boundaries; never getting rested; never being able to do something just for me? Absolutely not. We can't help anyone else if we exhaust ourselves. This is more about examining our motives for helping and overcoming our selfish nature more often.
Think about what your motives for helping others have been up to this point: has it been to look good and gain friends, serve some misguided notion that kindness is a prerequisite to God's love or to earn entrance into heaven, to show everyone what a giving, tread-upon kind soul you are . . .or is it to spread the love that God has shown you to someone else?
We are told at least eight times in the Bible, to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, what does that look like?
If you make sure that you get time to rest and relax, do you also watch your friend's kids so she can catch a break now and then? If you enjoy heading up to the cabin every summer, have you ever invited a less privileged family for a weekend at your cabin when its unused? As you are harvesting that luscious garden, do you bag up some of the excess and donate it to your local food shelf? Or . . . do you just complain about how much you already do for others without any appreciation in return?
The best way to find out if you are showing love, is to check your motives. What are you expecting in return for your good favor? List some people you help, but with an attitude of resentment for not getting back thanks, appreciation, or a good deed in turn: _________________________________________
My top people would include my own family. Sometimes we need to stop helping people so that they can learn to help themselves. This is one of those times when you might get a thank you later, much later.
For instance, when I find myself screeching that I am SICK of picking up after you people (my husband and kids) with NO thanks, whatsoever(!), I realize I need to stop picking up after them and give them the gift of self-reliance. If your motive behind cleaning up your house is the appreciation of your kids . . . it's not gonna happen, get over it.
A better motive is the intention to raise children who are prepared to live independently once they leave my home. The best way I can help my kids is to lovingly and kindly teach them how to do that along the way, and let them practice right here and now. You try it once:
"No clean clothes? Oh, that's a bummer. Would you like me to show you how to use the washing machine, again?" Smile.
So, now that we are done thinking being a help means always doing things for others, we can focus on knowing when it's time to take action. Who is your neighbor anyway?
Read Luke 10:30-37
In Jesus' day, priests and Levites served God, and should have been the first to stop and help. Samaritans, on the other hand, were despised by the Jews, because they intermarried with foreigners. No one would expect anything good from a Samaritan. Who helped the injured man?
Name all the things the Samaritan did for the man:
When he saw him, he had _________. He ______ to him,
and __________ his wounds, pouring on _____ and _______ (to disinfect and salve); and set him on his own _________, brought him to an _______ and took _______ of him.
On the next day, when he departed, he took out two ____ and ______ them to the
innkeeper, and said to him, "______ care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will ________ you."
Who is your neighbor?
a. Someone who lives next door to you
b. Someone in your church
c. Anyone near where you presently are
d. Anyone you become aware of that is in need
How do we know when it is right to help, and when to wait? I think it is safe to say that if someone is in danger, hurt, lost, confused, hungry, thirsty, etc., we can and should do something. Call 911 if you don't feel safe going out to help, shout out the window that the police have been called, go buy a sandwich for someone you are afraid will spend money on drugs, alert a Pastor if you think someone in your church might be a victim, there is always something that can be done to be a help. If you are not sure if you can do anything, ask.
Finally, read Proverbs 3:5-6.
What will happen if everyone who says they love God, begins to love others as we do ourselves?
In what way have you been challenged as a result of this study?
What is the most important truth you have taken away?
What is one thing you can do today, to live that truth?
Lord, I seek You now and acknowledge You in all of my ways. I want You to guide my thoughts and my actions from now on. Father, show me someone I can reach out to intentionally. Help me to see my neighbors, even those who live far away from me. I ask You to fill my heart with compassion, and to cause me to be sensitive to the true needs of those around me. Give me wisdom to know what to do and how to do it. In Jesus' name, amen.
Please come back, and also tell me in the comments what about The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer, the inspiration for this study, has inspired you!
Go ahead, be the first!
Photo by dabobabo, courtesy of photoxpress.com