We’ve just finished reading our first week of Living Beyond Yourself Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit by Beth Moore. Beth launches us into the heart of God and the gift of the Spirit as we read through the first four chapters of Galatians. By now you’ve noticed Beth is using the NIV bible. I’m using the Life Application Study Bible. Many of you are using online bibles such as Bible Gateway, Bible Study Tools, or YouVersion to research the verses.
Our reading this week started with a view of hardship. Sometimes, we are placed in trials of persecution because His glory shines through us during our trial. We looked at the four major reasons why Christ died for us, followed by a lesson on the major characteristics that make us easy targets for the enemy. When we are unfamiliar with Scripture and not carrying His Word inside our hearts, we’re easy prey.
Look back on your own life when you were lacking in Scripture knowledge and your attempts to battle Satan. Who won the battle then? Later, when you attended a Bible study and learned Scripture, some of you may have become bored and quit the study, easily diverted from a Christian life. Who won your battles during your boredom, you or Satan?
Do not miss the importance of this message from Beth: without knowledge of the word of God, your battle is lost. With Bible study and perseverance through boredom, your battle is won. Place your feet on the path of faith and learn Scripture day-by-day over the next ten weeks of study with me.
One of the most important lessons this week is found on day three, Beth Moore’s list of the “Ten Characteristics of the Crucified Life.” It’s important to understand how and why God gifted us with the Fruit of the Spirit.
The father of lies, Satan, wants us to believe we are not deserving of the Spitrit and that the Spirit would not dwell inside our hearts. Through a covenant with God, we know righteousness, grace thankfulness and joy. These gifts and the gift of the Spirit are not earned by performance or following the law, we receive them through Jesus. We are adopted members of God’s family and Abba’s gift to us is the fruit of the Spirit living inside our hearts.
Please pray for the women participating in this study, that each woman will have a heart’s desire to learn Scripture and defeat boredom. Ask for God’s presence during this study as we learn together.
The enemy will do everything he can to discourage you from allowing God into your heart. -Beth Moore
Assignment For Next Week
- Read Week Two in the workbook
- Listen to the Session Two Audio (optional)
- Listen to the Session Two Video (optional)
1. What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? I would no longer strive to please those around me and seek their approval. I think seeking God’s approval spells freedom.
2. Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why? The 9th characteristic seems to cover all the others. Living a crucified life may be lonely, difficult, and painful but the Father is there with us through it all. I am so thankful he will never forsake me.
3. Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. There have been so many times God challenged me (and our family) to trust him but the most recent time was this past June when my oldest son went through a scary and difficult time. We had to trust God for everything and that scary situation set in motion a course of events that has begun a change me.
4. In your workbook on page 29, or in a journal, create a list of “Garden Tools” based upon each lesson of the day. (see my example in the comments) We will be doing this each week.
My Garden Tools:
Day 1: Hardships can prepare us for a bountiful harvest of spiritual fruit.
Day 2: Surrendering to God will begin the transformation process.
Day 3: Acknowledge that I have been crucified with Christ.
Day 4: Believe in God and his promises no matter what.
Day 5: I am God’s daughter and he is my loving Father.
I thought of the words “erase the past and live in freedom” and realize that when we continue to live as we did in our past, pleasing others and pleasing ourselves, we walk in bondage and strongholds. We know God’s approval when we erase the past through confession of sin, and we live in freedom through Christ.
I like your garden tools 😉
“Surrendering to God will begin the transformation” reminds me of when a seed is dropped into the ground and then waits for the Water and the Food to grow it into a beautiful plant/tree/flower.
Your Day 4 garden tool reminds me of a song, a current favorite – “No Matter What”. The song starts by saying, “running back to your promises one more time that’s all I can hold onto.” goes on to say….”even though I keep asking why, No matter what I’m gonna love you. No matter what I’m gonna need you.” A song with great ministering. Thank you for you input.
From Question 1: To seek only God’s approval for me would mean that I am to place my self in the other person’s shoes and look at myself before doing anything. I’m to acknowledge that HE is God. I’m to also acknowledge that He knows all in my life which would allow me to do things for Him to please Him but at the same time making sure that I’m allowing Him to shine through me in order for others to see Him through me. I’m also to allow the Holy Spirit to show me what to do, convict when necessary, and guide me throughout the day.
Group question: Is this a conscious effort we need to make, or does it flow naturally? How to we ensure that we are opening our hearts for Him to shine through?
For me, I have to check myself to make sure I am letting Him shine through me. When I let life’s business distract me it is harder to let Him shine through me.
For me – it’s this Bible study and allowing Him to use the “Garden Tools”.
Hmmm… The heart, the heart, it’s about the heart. This is something I am going to meditate on this week. If my heart is right His light shines through, but what about not seeking man’s approval? How is this connected to the heart?? Perhaps this might be key. Anyone?
Picture a heart with a line down the middle of it, a divided heart. When the heart is divide the Spirit cannot shine through. Pray for the Lord to reveal any blockage in your heart.
I’m thinking it is a little of both. We sometimes have to make a conscious decision to delve into His word… you know, those times when maybe you say, “I’m really busy” or “I’ve got so much to do” or “I’m too tired for this right now”… but then you go ahead and read your Bible, and the more you do that, the more it flows and the more you want to… Need to! Sometimes it is easy to close off our heart and “pout” at God…like that is hurting Him! But it does hurt Him, because He wants us to draw near to Him…
Still waiting for my book to be mailed, however I read Galatians.
I see the lack of Him shining through when people, judge others in a – oh she’s not cool like us- way. Or that person is a “low life”. Even in church gatherings, certain people just stick with their group, or at my work, someone will treat, who they concider a “low-life” pourly. Some people need to work hard to see others as God sees them. Some naturally, or maybe taught by God through life’s hardships see people for who they are and at the least treat them decently. Then there are times in our life when at that moment we do something un-natural and don’t let Him shine through.
Staying in His word, helps us let Him shing through, no doubt, by keeping us focused on what is important in life.
A time when God called me to trust HIM was when I lost my teaching job. It was at the end of the school year and I was not able to find anything. All summer I filled out apps and went to interviews. GOD had promised to get me a job and I just knew HE would follow through. During the thing I was very calm inside and believed HE would take care of me. Then, miracle of miracles, with only two days to go, I got a job. I just knew in my heart that it was GOD’S will.
When He does something as amazing as this, we feel loved as little children, knowing our Daddy (Abba) loves us so. Great story and congratulations on the job!
the first question is speaking loudly to me. What would it mean to seek only GOD’s approval? I had a long hard night/day (i work weekend nights) first i was disrespected, underappreciated at work, then my 2year old was thowing up and not feeling well, and then my teenage daughter back talked. I was tired of feeling like a peon. Now you have reminded me that it isn’t what the people at work think, or what my daughter thinks it’s what GOD thinks about me. And he knows that I tried my best and took the best care I could of those people that I could. What a boost to a persons self-esteem!
Now to answer the other questions 2. Go outside the camp. I like my comfort zone, it’s safe and warm and I have no fears there. Question 3, When I was ready to give up dating and live single like Paul for CHRIST, GOD heard my heart and I met my husband at church 2 weeks later.
Finally, I hear garden tools, so I’m taking that a different direction and choose the trowel:) we need to dig into GOD’s word to know his direction.
I love the garden tools!
Sounds like you are living the Word as God breathes His message into your daily life at the exact time you need to hear it. Yesterday I was convicted of my own patience as I walked through several trials. In the past, I would have felt the trials were a spiritual attack by the enemy and felt fear. I realize these the trials were an opportunity for God to reveal something inside me, patience, and self-control. I’m unsure why He wanted me to see this…and I wanted to jump ahead to those chapters in the workbook, then laughed at myself for not being patient. So I stay where I am in the book, reading the lessons in order, knowing that I’ve walk with patience and self-control. I heard these words “its easier to follow when you have a place to go” and realize I have a place to go: to patience and self-control as needed! We go to the Fruit of the Spirit living inside us.
Great blog post from beginning to end! Thank you for sharing your week with us.
1. What would it mean for me to only seek God’s approval? It would mean freedom and peace in knowing that I am living how God wants me to live. In this world there are so many forces that try to deter your attention from God. Some of these forces can be members of our own extended family when they feel that your are not living your life how they think you should. If I know that I am living my life for God and through his word. That liberates me. God is what counts.
2. Because He was foresaken, you will never will be. Jesus bore the full force of rejection by humanity. Nothing that I have experienced will ever compare what Jesus endured for me. This year has been a year of rejection for me in my worklife and in my personal life by people who “love” me. No matter how hard I have tried to do what was right. God will never reject me. He has a plan for me and knew me before I was even born.
3. There have been many times when God has proven faithful to me. He gave me my husband and two beautiful kids. He was with us when we moved many times. He has always guided us in difficult times.
Day 1. God wants me to be strong during trials and hardships. To continue on when I am persecuted in my faith.
Day 2. Do not concern myself with things of this earth. To keep my heart and eyes on God.
Day 3. God loves me and will never forsake me.
Day 4. Since Jesus died for me and I have been born again in him, I will be clothed in him and receive the blessings promised to Abraham.
Day 5. God wants me to know that I was chosen by him.
What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? If you walk with the Holy spirit, you know and feel the contentment of God’s love and approval. To seek ONLY him would mean that I would forego my personal rights and that can be very painful. The thought of pain can cause one to live in denial but denial is not the TRUTH. I constantly sees God’s will and he continues to be faithful to me especially during this economic weather. He provides, comforts and even shows me the abundance that I am blessed with.
My Garden Tools:
Day 1: Hardships is a prelude to sweet serenity
Day 2: Surrendering to God is the first step of the healing process.
Day 3: Know that you are deserving of the gift.
Day 4: Believe that God’s will is for your good
Day 5: My Father is my provider and protector
Thuy – your “forego my personal rights” really touches my heart right now – thanks for sharing.
Response to Question 3:
Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you.
The Lord has proved faithful to me everyday however: the last 18 years I have had the joy of seeing physical evidence of his faithfulness through the life of my son. It was 19 years ago, when I was 25 years old… I had lost my mother, my marriage, was single mom to two toddlers and learned I was pregnant. I never believed in terminating a pregnancy but under the circumstances began to believe the lies of satan that I needed to terminate the pregnancy because my husband and I were going through a divorce and I had two small children to care for, without any strong support system. I can vividly recall one particular night, when I spoke to the Lord and laid out for Him all my concerns, my heartbreak, my fears. I spoke to Him about my thoughts on terminating the pregnancy and I know beyond a doubt that in that moment He was there. He reassured me if, I believed in Him and trusted Him there would not be a day that I or my child(ren) would not be taken care of. That was 19 years ago and out of those 19 years, 10 years I spent as a single mom. The Lord has provided me with great jobs ever since and the ability to purchase my own home. My children nor I have not ever wanted for anything. He has been faithful beyond all my expectations and provided us with a life I never thought possible. My son will be 18 on Sept. 27th and honestly, as I write this, there are tears in my eyes…part joy part relief. Because of my Papa’s faithfulness to me and the promises He made we will be having a huge celebration for the life of my son and I know the Lord will be there right there with us!
What a beautiful story of trusting God rather than man or even yourself. Your son is a walking witness to God’s love for us.
Such an inspiring story. Our children are such a blessing but to have that testament behind the child gives me God-bumps and makes the appreciation that much stronger.
Wendy… I love God bumps 🙂 You have given me a word to describe those beautiful moments for which I did not have a word. Thank you
I really do not know if I can answer any question right now. Satan has been attacking me ALL WEEK……saying do this, do that, later study, there is time, so now I am behind because I listened to him and not God. So maybe later in the week I will try and answer some questions. Plus my husband has had a few bad nights and we have been up most of them. Blessings to all of you. Loved reading your posts, and garden tools.
Asking permission to pray for you Sue. The enemy wants you to stay away from the workbook, because the father of lies knows that this study will empower you. Satan does not want you to know the Spirit inside you. So he distracts you, places tiny seeds in your heart, tells you the study it too hard, too boring, etc. Each lesson is about 30-45 minutes of time. Some questions in the book are hard, and if you skip over them, the answer is usually in the next paragraph.
To all the women in the group, when you find this happening do NOT isolate yourself. The enemy wants to keep you from communicating with other Christians so you’ll stay in bondage. If the study is tough or you are distracted, please post a prayer request so we can pray over you.
Praying for you Sue, I have been having some weird problems too. I cant seem to focus and I don’t feel alot of excitment like I usually do about studying God’s word.
I think there are at least 10 more women in the group having the same thoughts. I applaud you both for speaking up, because you show those who remain isolated that they are not alone in their feelings of frustration. Please speak up for those that are too shy to do so…every voice matters here in Bible study. What may seem small and trivial to you can make a big difference in the life of someone else. Speak up!
Oh yes! The attacks are there… Believe me. Stand strong. Sometimes I look at a page and go – good grief I don’t know what on earth this stuff means! I mean, I wasn’t raised in church, how does this make sense? But I press on (i will not throw in the towel, i am still talking about the Ruth study!) and it is amazing how clear things become after I refuse to give up. Ok, once in awhile I have to leave a blank unanswered, but I’m OK with that.
As we were discussing the an attack came right into my home! I prayed through it with scripture verses and for the second time this week God has shown I have self-control and patience. I depended on Ephesians 6 for my battle.
Thanks for the words. I am sorry you are having weird problems also. I STILL CAN NOT FOCUS……been running around all day in the house just to find things to do NOT to study HIS WORD!!!!!!! I will pray for you Joeanna. Lets get EXCITED TOGETHER.
Did week two day 1::: and it clicked. I am EXCITED! The Father wills, the Son speaks to us through His Word, and the Spirit gives us the power to obey.
Yes He does LOL
Thanks Christine, I am just having a rough patch right now…..I WILL NOT listen to Satan……BUT YAHWEH. Thanks for the prayers.
Sue I am right there with you. I have been dealing with a lot of attacks this week. I find that when the distractions and the battles seem the most intense that’s when God has huge stuff in store for me and the devil is doing everything he can to try and distract me. I’ll be praying for you.
Sue I’m so glad you posted. Because as Christine said, at times like these it’s easy for us to isolate ourselves. This way your sisters in Christ know what’s happening and can lift you up to the Lord in your time of need. Hang on to Jesus. He is the answer. I’m praying for you.
To seek only God approval for me would mean that i really need to start paying attention to whos approval i am currently seeking, and then make an active change to desiring only Gods approval. When i think about approval i dont honestly know who i am usually seeking maybe myself. Which we all know gets us in trouble. So for me to seek only him i would need to be more aware and seek him with my whole heart and desire to only please him.
2. Out of the ten reasons currently the intense times of aloneness with God speaks to me. At one point of another all of these points have great validity in my life. For me the fact that “intense” aloneness with God is REQUIREMENT spoke to me for the mere fact that i dont do that. I have mild mannered alone time with God, you know just skimming the surface until i cant think of anything else to say, but this requires intense time with him, something i need to learn how to do.
3.A time when i really had to trust God was when my husband lost his job. He was working for the state and with the budget crisis was one of the many that was cut. When money was getting tight and stress levels were rising i wanted to go out and get a job even though i knew God didnt want me to he wanted me to rely on him and trust that my husband would be provided a job. It was very difficult for me not to go out and get a job but i trusted and God Provided us with an unexpected large sum of money which covered us until my husband was blessed with another job.
Day 1: Hardships are the tempering you need to get into the kingdom of heaven
Day 2: be aware and desire to seek only gods approval
Day 3: Learn to have intense alone time with God he deserves all of your time
Day 4: have faith that God will do as he promises
Day 5: God cares about me and wants me to come to him as Abba
Shaunti – Love your tools
1. To seek God’s approval and only His would mean for me to accept rejection from others, to render criticism ineffective and step out boldly in the things God has called me to do. I thought about how Paul responded to persecution. He always continued in his ministry to take the gospel to the Gentiles. I want to just obey God and not worry if I’m pleasing this one or if that one thinks I’m doing a good job.
2. The characteristic of the crucified life that spoke personally to me was going outside the camp (my comfort zone). Deep down I think I don’t because of two reasons: I don’t want to fail because of humiliation or succeed because of future expectations from myself or others which sets me up to fail. Back to question 1, just obey.
3. God has shown Himself faithful on many occasions, but an ongoing demonstration is in His healing my mind in a very specific way. It has been a long process and I haven’t always wanted to do things His way, but when I do He proves that He knows me much better that I do. His process of healing has taken faith, patience and trust and I haven’t always been a good follower. I had a hard time believing my mind could ever be different and quite frankly, I wanted overnight miraculous healing, not this “let’s take it slow and build character in her” method. But, I can testify that He is healing me!!!
4. Day 1: Headphones to keep out all distractions.
Day 2: A plant guide to know what kind of soil, what depth and how much
Day 3: Patience as I wait for the seed to do it’s thing.
Day 4: Expectaion as I visualize the fruit.
Day 5: A basket to gather in the fruit.
If I’m not mistaken, Paul reacted with JOY when he was persecuted. Pure, sincere, honest JOY. Obeying God with JOY is different then obeying God by dragging my heals like a spoiled child. I’m focused on this and look forward to learning more during our study. I really like your garden tools…giving me good ideas. I’m visual, so the headphones of the Lord are fun to imagine.
I just lost everything I was going to post. i don’t know where it went. What a week i have broncitis and sinus infection. I will write all up again. What a week, u gotta laugh 🙂
Praying for your health. Sounds like God is making you rest and slow down…rebuilding your energy.
Yes,but I am bombarded by negative thinking about all the things I think – haven’t done well. I’m feeling depressed so I put on Praise music and I am learning this weeks scriptures
I have done that…..so my husband came in and rewrote what I asked him to do…….he does it so much faster than me……he is a NERD!! LOL
Get better my prayers are with you. Just pretend I am there and just give you a big hug!!!!!!!!!
Thank You guys.
#1 This is HUGE for me. I am such a people pleaser that Satan uses this easily against me. Some days a person might look at me cross wise and I am convinced I have done something wrong and they are mad at me. Talk about living in bondage! Talk about me being self centered. I love our memory verse for this. I also attended the Beth Moore “So Long Insecurity” simulcast and this matches that nicely.
#2 Hmmm … so many answers. This Bible study just really stirs up a lot for me! 🙂
#3 Oh my gosh, I just came back to Christ 3 years ago and let me tell you this is ongoing and he just keeps setting off fireworks in my direction! He is something so amazing!!! I am one of those people that have been in the pit and now stand on solid ground so my relationship with God is a matter of survival for me. I can’t even list all of the ways he keeps proving faithful to me.
#4 I’m going to have to give the garden tools some thought.
Hey Renee, I was at Beth Moore’s simulcast also! What a great experience! As she said, what if all the women that had attended stood up in their faith! What a change we could make.
1.What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? (page 18)
I would lead a more consistent Christian life…would go to church more consistently, would read my Bible more consistently (this study is step toward that!), would attend small group Bible study more consistently, and that I would live each day more “outside” of myself, being more aware of others and their needs and sufferings; I would reach out to them more and not just focus on myself and my own problems
2.Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why? (page 22)
Well, the hard ones! Like forgoing my own will, desires, and rights, as well as giving up my dignity if need be….not that I don’t want to be able, but it all just seems so HARD…I don’t even do that in a day.
3.Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. (page 24)
Mostly with money/finances
4.In your workbook on page 29, or in a journal, create a list of “Garden Tools” based upon each lesson of the day. (see my example in the comments) We will be doing this each week.
1. God’s glory shines through us during times of persecution and hardship if we remain faithful.
2. Without knowledge of God’s Word, I will be defeated in my battle against Satan….reminds me of the old saying “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” Satan WILL use anything thing to make us fall, which is why we must stand for SOMEONE…The One.
3. You cannot live a crucified life in your own power, but only through the power of Christ.
4. Perfectionism is futile! There is nothing I can ever DO for God or give Him anything He needs; it pleases Him to extend me grace through Jesus Christ.
Katy, I can relate to forgoing my own rights and desires etc. Life can be difficult at times and it seems only natural to hold on tight to our own will. If we release to God… we will get ten folds back but boy is it HARD!
At the end of every day’s homework there is a spot for answering the question, “How does God want me to respond to what He showed me today?” I wrote the same answer everyday! After reading the various verses about the crucified life, all I could think about what the love that demonstrated toward me through a crucified life. All I could think about, in each of the readings, as I read them aloud, was the passion that God has for me. It felt as if everything I read out loud was written right to me and was God trying to persuade me of how very much He loves me. All I could offer as a response were tears and hiccuping thank you’s! It overwhelmed me again and again and again. I began to look forward to reading aloud the Word of God and could hardly wait to open up my Bible study book.
Then I watched the video for week 1. At the end of it, Beth Moore spoke of the people who had instilled within her a love of God’s Word! I began to cry because all I could think of was the first study I had ever done by this woman and her passion for the Word. I weep each time I hear her and think of the countless hours she pours over it and the passion with which she communicates it. I want that same kind of passion for God’s Word and His presence to burn in me. I want His Word to resonate through me when I wake up, when I lay down, when I rise and when I sleep!
As I read about the gardening tools and which ones I thought I might need, after this week of homework, I realized how little I know about gardening. I googled how to select basic gardening tools for the beginning. As I looked over the list and thought of all I had studied this week, all I could think about was how much God had done for me. The video segment talks about pouring out, being poured into, and pouring forth; the only action that I am to do, according to this week is to pour out my confessions of sin and my anxieties and concerns. God does everything else. So, the only gardening tool I would pick up this week would be a watering can…it reminds me to pour myself out before God and in the pouring out, I have made room for Him to pour in =]
Wow. How awesome is God! Thank you for sharing this.
I have posted a little bit more extensive description of my week at http://www.theyneverfail.blogspot.com. Be encouraged ladies! Be in a position to receive. God won’t fail! He meets us right where we are EVERY TIME =]
Loved reading your post from start to finish, thank you for sharing your heart.
#3 Do you know what a huge blessing this on line study is!? Wow wow, thank you God for working through Christine!
Amen!!! Renee, I was thinking the same thing when I read number 3. And I’m brand new to this. But I am already blessed by it!
Thank you Christine for listening to and heeding God’s call!
What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? After spending a lifetime trying to please other people, this spoke straight to my heart. I have spent too much time worrying if people are pleased, happy or angry with me. I seem to be put in situations with very controlling, unhappy people over and over again. I spend all my energy trying to please these people, and end up miserable and exhausted myself. Now I see the lesson that God has been trying to teach me. I need to put God first and only seek His approval. My efforts and energy need to go towards learning and following God’s will for my life. He is the one who loves and supports me. He is the One I want to please. I feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I find myself filled with happiness. I am no longer going to let myself be a slave to people, I will focus only on serving and pleasing God.
Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why?
Number 10 – Because He was forsaken, you will never be. When I think about the awful things Jesus went through so that I will never be forsaken, it immediately brings tears to my eyes. When I think about God sending His Son to die for me, I can’t even imagine that heartache.
1. Remember during hard times that God is working on me.
2. Put God first in everything I do.
3. The crucified life is sometimes lonely and often hard, but keep my eye on God. He will always be there for me.
4. Have faith in God. He is all powerful and loving and will provide everything I need.
5. Remember that God knew everything about me, and He chose me anyway.
I’m writing at quite a disadvantage as I just found this bible study group on Saturday afternoon so my workbook does not arrive until tomorrow. Also, when I got home I wanted to watch the video but didn’t realize it took quite awhile to download. So, I’ve read the first four chapters of Galatians and read through everyone’s comments. At the moment I only feel able to comment on questions 1 and 3 until I can catch up.
1. What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? It would mean complete trust in God, freedom for me and relief from suffering. I have wanted the approval of others for as long as I can remember. When someone is not happy with me I can actually physically feel the hurt deep inside. Then my mind won’t stop – I continually think about it. I am working on this very issue lately and have to remember that I can’t be perfect and will disappoint my fellow human beings here as I go through this life….but that I am perfect in God’s eyes and blips on the radar screens now and then with others are no reason to feel so upset.
3. Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. A year and a half ago my daughter, newly graduated from college, with involved with a 38-year-old convict who physically abused her and stole her belongings to sell. Yet, she clung to him and his “love.” I was at a loss. I looked to God and he gave me the courage to have him arrested (long story) and my daughter – two weeks after that – asked if she could come home and start afresh, words I never thought I would hear. I did not loose my faith in God but I have battled with depression since then…and have battled with feelings of inadequacy as mother i.e. what did I do to cause her have such low self esteem as to allow herself to be in a relationship with someone like him. I am trying to work this through and trying to remember that she is a child of God, under his care. I am not responsible for her choices….and God is guiding her life whether she knows it or not.
Our oldest daughter is 22 and she recently told us some troubling things that she has been into (troubling is an understatement). She only told us because one of her friends came to us. It has been very difficult for me. I feel like crying at the oddest parts of the day and just want to talk to her and talk to her and talk to her and make her do right! I want to assert my control over her choices so I will not be afraid. This is where God met me last week as I told Him how anxious I am for her.
He reminded me of a dream He had given me about my daughter when she was 5 years old. The dream has been so vivid to me all these years that when I think on it I can see all the details as if I am looking at a recent snapshot in my photo album. She is inside of a bar and in the beginning it is empty, except for those who are cleaning and working behind the counter and the dj working on the equipment. She is standing in the middle of the dance floor area and the lights are off with a strobe light bouncing around her. As I looked at her I could see music coming up out of her and I heard the Lord tell me that His song had been placed inside of her and it would always be louder than anything she would hear in the world. I have clung to the fact that this meant she would never get into trouble (hahaha). When I was praying last week the Lord asked me what song I imagined was within her. I didn’t understand, seemed like that would be a personally thing and that all of us sing a different song but then the Scripture came to mind. I knew the song that reasonates through my daughter is the song of the Redeemed and after reading of the crucified life I understand the place she is now in her life. The Song of the Redeemed is waging a war against all that her flesh desires and all that the world is offering her and her continually refusal to yield to the Lordship of Jesus Christ leaves her in constant anxiety and turmoil. The Spirit wars against our flesh and when we are not surrendered to God’s will for our lives, we get caught in the middle of that war because we must choose a side. The Lord reminded me that He is faithful to finish what He starts, until the day His son returns. He placed that song in my girl and all that she is going through is God working within her, to both will and do His good purposes. My constant prayer has been, Daddy, keep my mother’s heart out of the way of Your work. You found me in the darkest place, completely alone, and I know You know where my daughter is also. I trust You because although I don’t desire bad things to happen to her here, I would rather be comforted with the knowledge that I will encounter her at Your throne! Whatever it takes God! I believe, help my unbelief! Then I just give Him praise for the day and His Sovereignty in all our lives. It drives the tears away and the comfort of His word and presence allows me to move from under the cloud of despair and walk in the peace and joy that comes from knowing I am loved.
Oh, the point you made about what you did as a mother…I have often been comforted by the knowledge that I am not a perfect parent but all I have to do is confess the sinful part of my parenting to God and I am forgiven. As for the choices my children make, yes, to some extent they are the product of their upbringing, but then again, God knew my weaknesses and made provision for them through His presence and His grace. He made up for all that I lacked in their lives. Between this and His forgiveness, it reminds me that I am not responsible for the choices my children make. Doesn’t mean I didn’t play a role in it, but the grace that covers whatever I did that may have contributed is something that I cling to.
Press in woman of God. This is a battle worth fighting for, the battle to stay in the study despite the circumstances. God often asks us if we want something for our kids badly enough that we are willing to walk the road first. This means, do I want God to move so badly in my daughter’s life that I am willing to let God move in me? I do! But even more than that…I just want to know Him more. His love, comfort, and continual care draw me.
Thank You that You are with Lois! Thank You that You directed her steps in such a way as to join this study and to find support in fellow believers who will pray with her and stand with her when the going gets tough. Thank You precious Daddy, that even now, this day, You have gathered her in Your arms and hauled her up on Your lap, so close that if she listens she can hear Your heart beat. Thank You for such a nearness that Your whispered words of comfort brush sweetly against her ear and Your hands can be felt gently stroking her head. May Your joy be the continued source of strength from which she draws. I ask that the rivers of living water that You have placed inside of her would flow freely from within her, through the kindness You have placed on her lips and the song that echoes in her heart. May they be a source of life in a time of disappointment, hurt, and despair. I ask that she would find sleep sweet each night and that Your word, when she reads it, would be like a letter written just to her. May her ears be opened with understanding as You declare it over her life. Help her during this season, to truly live beyond herself! May Your word be a living stone within her. In Jesus name I ask all of this, AMEN!
Have a blessed week Lois 😉
Confessing that I didn’t make it through all the days of study, so I’m going to skip the last question…
What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval?
Oh, I long for this! It would probably mean less longing for material things and “stuff” of this earth (WHY does that junk have such a pull on me.. SO PRETTY!!), more risk taking in His name with no fear of being rejected (they wouldn’t be rejecting ME, after all), more desire to look like a “Jesus freak” without concern for how my neighbors or peers see me.
Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why?
“Your intimate spiritual companions will be few.” Yep. I’m there… and so lonely sometimes. I think it helps to know this is all part of the plan, and even to realize that walking like Jesus walked, sometimes I will pray alone in my hardest times like Jesus did. I live in a VERY “Christian” area, yet so few people seem to understand my longings or want to discuss what’s really important. It feels lonely.
Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. Oh, He is SO faithful. Honestly, we are in the midst of a daily walk of that right now, but I confess that He hasn’t yet proven faithful in the way I want (if I knew how, I would put that part in italics… showing that it is pure silliness…). My husband is currently unemployed and with children in high school and middle school, we truly hope to stay in the town/ home where we are, though jobs are scarce here. God continues to prove faithful by providing financial blessings, emotional encouragement, and hope and enough job leads to keep us going (and the means for this study, thank you, Christine). I WANT him to prove faithful by providing THE job, here in town… but right now He is proving faithful by providing. And that has to be enough.
I have MANY more life examples, but this is what is most prevalent in my mind.
Well, I have to begin by confessing that I’m not starting off on a good note with this study because I’m already behind on homework. Praise God!, as of right now I am supposed to be off tomorrow, although that could change any minute…for the time being…if God wills…I am going to catch up first thing in the morning. For now, I will go ahead and answer my question.
3. Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you.
On February 25, 2005 my Grandmother was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia and was given two months to live. She lived exactly four months to date of her diagnosis and the last 86 of her life were spent in the hospital unable to even walk. Before being hospitalized, I had the privilege of getting to take her to get the last hair cute she ever had in a beauty shop. This is a big deal because ya see, she was a woman that wouldn’t dare be caught without her hair fixed and makeup on. I also got to take her to pick out this beautiful pastel pink suit for her burial, and God allowed me to be the only one who ever got to she her in it alive. WOW!!! Still brings tears to my eyes. We were so close and that lead to the last 86 days of her life being the hardest 86 days I’ve ever experienced in my life up to this point. Walking in that hospital room every morning was so HARD (Yet everyday I couldn’t hardly wait to get there). All the way down JR Miller BLVD I would pray, “Lord, Okay…I’m fixing to walk through those doors again and I can not go in there without you. I can not hold a smile on my face and keep myself together without you. You have got to intervene here. Your word tells me to ask and I shall receive, well I am asking here with all I have left in me. Put me together and present me well today to her and my family. Allow me to be the uplifting one of the bunch. Give me the strength and the stomach to do whatever necessary to tend to her today. And above all…allow them to see YOU in me…” Now five years later with tears flowing I can say with every inch of me, “MY GOD WAS FAITHFUL!!!” He provided me with the strength, a strong stomach for once in my life, encouraging words on a daily basis, scriptures that I do not have memorized, filled me with so much love, and a smile on my face. He allowed me to experience moments with her that I will never forget. I got to bath her, laugh with her, hold her hand while watching her sleep so peacefully, listen to her tell about the angels she was seeing, the music she was hearing, and hold her tight with her head on my chest because the pain was unbearable. I say that is more than just a faithful God!!!!
I loved hearing your story of God’s faithfulness. Thanks for sharing. I have been very close to my grandparents, as well.
1)What would it mean to for you to seek only Gods approval? It would mean that I would live for him rather than for myself and others around me. I am always worrying about how other people see me, am I pretty enough, thin enough, dressed well enough etc., rather than living for him.
2) Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you? number 6 “you must go outside the camp” I have always been a follower rather than a leader, I have been afraid to speak my own mind for fear of offending someone else or being ridiculed for my thoughts or beliefs.
3)Share a time when you were challenged to believe in God and he proved faithful to you. Recently I have been given the opportunity to become a work at home mom, as long as I have been a mom I have had to work. I always had faith that if I continued on the path of working and following my instincts that at some point I would get to be at home with my childeren..it has been 5 years since my first son was born and next week I will be starting my new journey as work at home mom, I am so happy and have been praying and thanking God since I found out! 🙂
4) Garden Tools
Day one:Staying true to your beliefs will cause hardships.
Day two:Seek his approval and not the approval of others.
Day three:Jesus gave his life for me, remember to be thankful.
Day four:God makes the impossible possible.
Day five:God loved me before I was born and even before I gave myself to him.
1. I think that for me, seeking only God’s approval would mean not being so hard on myself. I think that I would be able to relax more knowing that God doesn’t expect perfection out of me.
2. The characteristic of a crucified life that speaks the most to me right now is #6 “you must go outside the camp”. This is exactly where my life is right now. Barely a year ago my husband & two kids (ages 4 & 1 1/2 now), moved out of a beautiful home we had been in for barely a year, away from all of our family in Iowa & across the country to Arizona where we knew not a single person b/c that is where God called us to serve at a new church (my husband has been a church technical director for a number of years). I am now packing all of our things for another cross-country move. After barely a year in the desert God has put on our hearts an expanded ministry for my husband, however He has been a little vague on the specifics 🙂 (really, I’m really smiling right now, it’s just so how God works)We are moving back to Iowa to stay with my in-laws for the rest of the year (it’s ok we have a great relationship) to enjoy the holidays with family & plan to move to a more permanent location in January. However, we’re not sure yet where that will be, it looks like either Seattle, WA or Chicago, IL but there has been no official job offer from either location. We are absolutely outside our camp, but it’s ok b/c God has always proven Himself faithful. There is not a time in my life where I can say He let me down, b/c He hasn’t, He is faithful, it is who God is.
3. When has God challenged me & proved faithful? He often has. The most recent major challenge where I have seen His faithfulness is the move we made to Tucson, AZ just a year ago. I am very family-oriented, I like to be home, I like consistency, I’m not always a fan of new things, I don’t like to do things on my own, so a move across the country with two small children was a big challenge, but we made it. God blessed me with one amazing mom-friend here in Arizona & I’m not sure I would have made it without that blessing. God gave me the courage to branch out more than I would have otherwise (I’m even a pro at flying on my own with two small children) & He gave me an amazing husband who was willing to give me more breaks than usual, recognizing that w/o family I needed the extra time to myself. God is faithful.
Lee, your blog was like a smack upside the head for me. I was wondering why I’d been so behind (I was behind with the last week of Jonah and finally finished it.) I’ve found one thing or another trying to get in the way of my Bible study this past week. I still am behind (still have two more days to finish) but I see that Satan is trying to stonewall me. As I sit here, I am saying outloud, “Satan get behind me because I am moving forward! Now MOVE!”
That was a relief. Thank you Lord for the strength and power to stand up to a being that believes he is stronger than You, but I know YOU are the all knowing and all powerful.
Sometimes what seems to be “behind” is actually right where God wants us to be. Maybe He did not want you to read this particular lesson until today, so He diverted your attention. Or maybe he allowed the enemy to send a storm your way to see how you’d manage the waves. In either case, you develop endurance and a craving for more time with God. 😉 This has happened to me more than once, and when I finally sit down and start reading, a message from God appears in those exact pages, speaking loud and clear into my heart.
God is good.
Amen, Amen indeed!
1. I think if we are living just for God’s approval, we will feel a sense of relief. Sometimes it is so hard feeling as though you have to conform to those around you. Knowing that God loves us no matter what… what a great relief that is!
2. Foregoing my rights… because it is so easy to cling to them. Especially when I try to justify and rationalize my bad behavior… it’s my right to feel that way! It’s my right to act ugly just cause I feel like it… but it’s not my right, because I should be crucified in Christ. I wrote that God wanted me to cling to his righteousness instead of my own, cause I have none!
1. I can sow seeds for Christ through a positive attitude.
2. I am a beautiful flower in God’s garden, and it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks I”m beautiful, as long as I am pleasing to Him.
3. God is always there for me, even when I feel like the wind is ripping me up by the roots.
4. God will supply my needs and His promise is always good, I just have to be open to receive it.
5. I am special to my Father in Heaven!
One of the truths that has helped me praise Abba during the storm is by acknowledging the truth of who He is versus who the enemy is. Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites were constantly being attacked by one enemy or another. God used their enemies as instruments to draw His people closer to Him. It’s easy to think that the enemy is attacking you to distract you from the things God has called you to do…the more challenging question to answer is, “Daddy, what is Your purpose in allowing these attacks of the enemy in my life during this season?” In all of the book of Job, Job did not once mention Satan, in reference to all he was going through. In the midst of the most difficult time of His life He attributed it all to God and at the beginning of the book we read that though God didn’t cause those things to happen, He did give His permission for the enemy to attack Job’s life. It gets difficult to ignore something that is very real and eventually tires us out, so instead I acknowledge what is there and ask God what its purpose is in me.
I recently started the process toward licensing as a minister and am working on my Ph.D. in health psychology. My husband and I are also, for the first time, teaching a young adult Sunday School class and he is playing his bass for the praise and worship team. As it gets closer to his retirement and our finishing up some of the prepatory tasks that God has given us to equip us for where He is taking us in the future, life has become more difficult. It was just a year ago that my husband’s father was suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer and died a few months later. He died a couple of weeks after my husband returned from his deployment and just before he received his military promotion. Since that time his work shift hours and responsibilities have become very stressful and his hours vary between 12-15 hour shifts daily; he has also been moved to night shift. This requires him to practice his bass on his own for services on Sunday. As the first session towards licensing has gotten closer, our oldest daughter has become suicidal and been struggling with severe mood swings. The cars have repeatedly broken down, keeping me at home, and costing the money that I need to pay for my licensing process. One thing after the next, I know that it is attacks from the enemy but I also know that God allowed it so that I might learn more about Him and what He has done in me. It has strengthened my determination and resolve to finish these things and not to be swayed or discouraged in the process of it. The instruments of Satan and his kingdom are tools in the hands of my Sovereign King. They are tools for the purpose of destroying my idols and bringing me even closer to the one that has claimed me as His own. When we began the study we gave God permission to allow the attacks because we said we want Your fruit to grow in our lives. It can only be revealed if the circumstances give occasion for it to be exhibited and the glory of God to be lifted up. What an encouraging thing that in all that you are going through you are committed not only to the study and application of God’s word but also available for Him to pour it forth out of you and use it to encourage others 🙂
Enjoyed your encouraging words, thank you Lisa!
This bible study has really led me to see my life in a different way. Yes, I falter a lot of the times but that’s me not taking it to the cross. I have lately been experiencing a lot of changes in my work and learning to deal with my own personal struggles,but I have come to realize that it is God’s time right now to work in my life and for me to see that I have to have a continued faith in Him and just let my life go to him and not worry about what can happen.
To the beginners in bible study:
Feel free to ask questions or reply to comments on the blog. It’s okay if you are not ready to post your answers to the study questions, we’re here to encourage you and we know that some of you are just reading the comments rather than posting your own. That’s fine.
If you have a chance, please just post a comment saying “checking in” because I will be contacting the people this week who are not posting or checking in with the study and seeing if they need a sweet touch of accountability.
So “check in” with a comment!
1. Seeking God’s approval above men, would mean I stop being anxious and trust that He is in control. I don’t have to go around acting like something I am not, I can live in the freedom od being who God created me to be.
2. Foregoing my rights because sometimes I just whine to much. I really act like God is a vending machine. Deep down I have the nerve to feel that I should not go through trails because God is my Father. My thinking is wrong God is teaching me that trails are where we are refined.
3. Everyday God comes through, especially with my anxiety if I trust He comes through
I love this! Especially point #2: I whine to much too! I like the way you phrased it “Deep down I have the nerve to feel that I should not go through trials because God is my Father.” That speaks to me, thank you for pressing in and then being available to share 🙂
I have really enjoyed reading everyone post tonight, they really help me see different ways of looking at things since i am just a beginner i love to read all i can about how everyone sees things in a different but same way.. thanx.
1. Gods Approval.. It would mean I would not have to worry about what to do or what to say, all i need to do is what makes God happy and in turn i will be happy.. and so on.
2. God showed me faithfulness,eveyone else has all these amazing stories about how God showed Himself to be faithful my is so simple I’m embrassed alittle to type it but it really did mean alot to me.. i ask God to watch over my son on his first day of Kindergarden and going on the bus to and from school, I asked to get him a good start to his school career. When my son came off that bus with the biggest smile on his face I just knew God was faithfull to me.. and it meant the world to me.. It was a great day..
3. The characteristics of the crucified life. The one that spoke to me was Foregoing your rights. to be a true beleiver is my goal not to be this person like so many i know that say they believe but do not know the Word of God. I want to know and forego my rights to be fullfilled with the Holy Spirit to know the Word of God.
I know I’m late, but here are my answers:
1. It would mean for me to stop looking for approval and validation from other people. God’s opinion of me is the only one that matters, so I shouldn’t place as much weight on others’ opinions. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had the need for approval from others and the need to feel wanted & desired. I tend to take criticism personally (even if it’s constructive) and I find it extremely hard to express myself & my true feelings. To be honest, I believe it all stems from an extraordinary fear of rejection. I know in my mind that God loves me just the way I am, but most of the time it’s hard for me to truly believe it in my heart (because of things that happened in my childhood). I pray every day that God will heal me from these past hurts so I can move forward and know that what God says about me is the truth.
2. Going outside of the camp – I’ve always been shy and an introvert, so seeing God confirm to me (over and over and over again) about going outside of my comfort zone. God has been dealing with me for quite a while about facing my fears head on & not fearing the changes He is trying to make in me. Yes, it is & will be very uncomfortable (and the thought of it scares me), but in order to fulfill my God-given purpose, I have to go outside of the boundaries I have placed around me (fear of failure, rejection, not being “good enough”). If I remain stagnant, I won’t be able to grow into the woman that God wants me to be.
3. Actually, I’m going through it right now. What God has revealed to me seems a little crazy and it doesn’t make a lot of sense (considering the present circumstances), but I feel that He is challenging me to trust Him and believe that what He says is true. Though is tarries, I will wait for it (Habakkuk 2:3).
1. Spiritual strength to persevere and thrive even under the most trying situations & circumstances
2. Seek Him with all of my heart & stop looking for the validation/approval of people who don’t matter
3. When God directs me to do so, “go outside the camp” without hesitation, fear, or doubt.
4. Trust in the Lord and believe what He says (because He will never steer me in the wrong direction & He will never leave me or forsake me)
5. Know that God created me for a reason. He knows everything about me and He has equipped me for everything I need to fulfill my purpose.
You’re not late….the benefit of online study is that you can post on YOUR schedule, not ours. In a church small group you have one chance to come to the study and chat about the lesson. Online, you can read at your pace and chat about the study when you’re ready 😉 We have several women just starting the study… so post when you can, it helps the entire group when you do. Each comment adds value to the entire group…Thank you for sharing Keia.
1. Gods approval- It would mean that my anxiety would be quieted and I would realize that He is in control and is working all things together for my good. (Not that all things are good mind you.) It would mean I’d catch myself when I started worshiping at the “altar of self”. It would mean I could relax and just do what God approves of. It would simplify my life and thinking. I say I want God’s approval but spend much time thinking/worrying about what coworkers, family, friends, church member and even complete strangers must think of me. It would mean that I would accept his forgiveness and know that He meant it.
When I get stressed or anxious about anything I pray. I ask God to take the stress, worry, & anxiety away. I let him know that I trust in him & whatever happens is what he wants. I have learned recently that when we spend time worrying about how to fix probs or please people then we can forget to hear his message.
1.What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? Life would be more of a blessing than a burden in trying to please everyone. God is the most important that I do please and in doing so I believe I will recieve blessings untold.
2.Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why? I must abandon my own will and agenda. I tend to think I am in control of situations. I need to give everything to God and trust in Him to take care and lead me where he wants me to be not where I want me to be.
3.Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. After my divorce I went back to church after not been faithful in attendance. I had felt God had abandoned me but the love I felt after recommitting was overwhelming and brought such joy and peace of mind.
4.In your workbook on page 29, or in a journal, create a list of “Garden Tools” based upon each lesson of the day. (see my example in the comments) We will be doing this each week.
That tribulation should never deter me but to remain faithful and I will recieve the gift of joy while on this earth. I really do feel much joy each day no matter what the circumstance I just remember God is with me. I know He is because when a hard day comes along a joy will follow.
I am to please God and forget about trying to make everyone happy. It can’t be done. I can please God though if I keep Him as my main focus.
Christ died for my sins. I no longer have to regret or go back in time and go over all those faults and mistakes I have been redeemed by grace.
Learn to not be swayed by weakness but use them to grow stronger.
To remember God is my Father and I can turn to Him for anything and he will bring me through it a stronger person and use those circumstances to at some point bring glory to Him.
3. Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you?
I am in this situation right now…..About this time last year my husband got a stock settelment from an old job. We talked about what to do with the money. Everything from buying a house to investing it. We decided to move closer to some of his family and start a business. It has been a long journey. The business has slowed down & we are broke. Our style of living has changed dramatically to say the least. With God’s help we have learned what we can live with out. We have learned what it truley important. I am seeking employment to supplement & help pay bills, but living in a community with a population of 2,000 makes that hard. I pray every day. I thank God for all the little things I have always taken for granted. The smell of fresh mountain air in the a.m., the food we have in our fridge, the roof over our heads, the clothes on our backs, all the people we have been blessed to have in our lives. The list can go on. I have always prayed, but I think I stared to lose prospective & God is helping me find that. Sometimes things are learned the hard way, so we can learn the most from the lesson. I know that with God we will be provided for & we will not go without.
Response to #1: What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval?
Honestly, I struggle with this daily. I am a people pleaser and I know that this is where Satan tricks me constantly. I am busy running around pleasing everyone from my kids, husband, in-laws, co-workers, strangers…..Every day, EVERY DAY, I am left wondering why I never have any time for myself or the things that would please me. As you can see, I am late on the first post. This first week rang true to my heart and I am so glad I am doing this. I want and need to be a God pleaser.
I completely understand this need as well. It’s a constant battle for me too. Why do we seek approval of those who can really not do anything for us? Part of the sin of pride for me.
I want to please God and only God too!
First of all, as some others have noted, I am behind. First of all because I didn’t find the website until after the study began. Secondly because I just now found out where these posts were. And thirdly I still don’t know where these audio/video lessons are people keep referring to.
However, I finally received my workbook and have completed week one. I admit, I went to a Christian school and was taught many Biblical things there. I did come to a saving knowledge of Christ during that time. I even attended church after I met my husband. But I can’t say that I’ve ever really “felt” like a Christian. It has always felt like other people got more from their Bible reading and church than I did. So the first question is the one I wish to attempt to answer. I don’t know how to say what it would mean to me to attempt to please God rather than man. Because I don’t think I can please God. As I said, the reading and listening never really made sense to me. In school, it was just another subject that I had to memorize the facts involved. In church, it was guilt inflicting speeches. In reading, it was just words on a page. I want to please God because I do believe He is my savior. I just don’t know how. Funny thing is, I don’t feel like I know how to please man any better. So most of the time I just feel like a failure and that I have no purpose in being. I sought out a Bible study in the hopes that I could alleviate these feelings, so we shall see.
Welcome to the online study, please try and keep up…….I am behind because Satan has really had a hold of me this week. I still have not answer the questions…..and will try and do so, but I just can’t get stared this time. This is the third study I have done with Christine and I love it. As she says this is a “no shame zone” Blessing to you. Thanks for joining in.
There are 5 people just starting the study….so you are not alone 😉
Hitting home on the week but how we are still brought thru the toughness. Thru those times, we become stronger on the otherside. This is evident in your posts.
Thank you for sharing.
Of the 10 characteristics, the one that spoke to me personally was #4. Taking time to be with Christ. To focus on God and all He does to protect me. I am doing two studies (one at church and this one) and I can’t seem to get enough alone time with God and I thrive on this more and more as I study. It’s become like an addiction to me and I think of just getting back to my studies as soon as I can.
I need to get better on focusing completely on him and these studies are a blessing for me to go in that direction!
Honestly, I don’t have any answers right now. I know the Lord is with me. I am struggling, but have confidence that with this study and time in the word my life will be more Christ centered. I also am behind, just finished week 1.
Hang in there… and don’t beat yourself up! God is good enough to meet us right where we are at, and when you’re struggling, know that He’s the perfect rope to tie your knot to and hang on!!!
1. What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? (page 18) Seeking only God’s approval would be both a blessing and a struggle. To be brutally honest, it is tough to go through life never committing a sin. To me, that is what seeking only God’s approval is all about. Thinking only thoughts God would approve of is a struggle. Sometimes I have thoughts of jealousy, anger, etc. I struggle not to, but I’m not perfect.
2. Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why? (page 22) You must abandon your will and agenda. Even though this is on the public internet, I am being as honest as I possibly can, because otherwise, I think it’s a futile exercise for me. I still have the hardest time determining what is God’s will and what is mine. I grew up as a willful child and some of that willfulness still exists in me. I battle it and have done a pretty good job as an adult but, I’ve lived with it so long, I’m having a hard time knowing, with certainty, that what I’m feeling is God’s will. (I’m pretty sure it is, because I think my will is what is keeping me from moving forward.)
3. Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. (page 24)
Struggles with my son. I was in prayer multiples times a day because, guess what, a willful child bred a willful child!
4. In your workbook on page 29, or in a journal, create a list of “Garden Tools” based upon each lesson of the day. (see my example in the comments) We will be doing this each week. My garden tools:
1. Stand true in my faith regardless of what cards I’m dealt and how many times I’m “thrown out.”
2. Turn the “soil of my heart” regularly and keep me new in Him every day, seeking only HIS approval.
3. Prayer to give up my will and surrender to His.
4. Remember that I come by faith and do not have to be perfect.
5. God always loves me. Like my birth father, He is there to care for me and loves unconditionally.
I think I’ve figured out why I’m getting so behind. The lessons are longer than Jonah or Ruth and I haven’t had enough time in the morning to do a lesson. My remedy is to get up 30 minutes earlier to get them done!
As humans we all have sinful thoughts and are not perfect people. This gives us a DAILY opportunity to come to the Father, ask forgiveness and ask for His blessing. The bible was written to show us that even the greatest among us has sinned and struggled with it, therefore God sent His son Jesus to earth. He did not send Jesus because we promised to fast from coffee and then drink a cup during Lent we broke a religious rule…he sent Jesus to implant the Holy Spirit inside us so when we do sin, we are convicted of this and we come to the Father in love, not shame.
If you are clinging to control, you need to pray about a divided heart. Deep inside your heart, what bondage holds you from complete surrender to Him. Pray about it and see what the Spirit reveals. The Spirit is like a surgeons knife and wants to find and dig out festering wounds inside our hearts. Sometimes they are so deep, we do not know they exist. Through prayer, the Spirit reveals this and speaks on our behalf. Could it be time for a little “open heart surgery” in your past or present life? Pray and see what happens. Let the Spirit speak to you.
I discovered in adulthood I was a strong willed child, also take heart! You not alone, I can relate to mine bs His will. I look at it this way, God perfectly made us this way! I focus on using my strong will, determination, outspokenness for good!
What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval? (page 18)
When you realize your true value to God, you won’t feel a need for the approval of others. Live for an audience of One! (see also below…Garden Tools)
Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why? (page 22)
In reading the characteristics, I see that they all speak to me personally in some way or another. However the one that spoke most to me was #9 “You must accept that death is painful”. I can recall a time in my life where I was struggling to crucify sinful ways…I was relentlessly praying for a way out. As God was preparing my way of escape, withdrawal was painful; however, it was worthwhile and I am most grateful for His deliverance. The workbook goes on to say, “Never misunderstand pain as permission to forego the will of God”.
Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. (page 24)
As I previously hinted on in the previous answer, there was a time where I was caught up in the flesh. I was a participant of lustful behaviors and I was drowned by the overwhelming feeling of guilt. However, I have always felt a connection with God since childhood and I knew that He had a special purpose for my life. While I was in the world, I battled within trying to figure out how I could escape the mess that I’ve made of my life in order to fulfill the assignment God had planted within me. I was challenged to turn away from the ways of the world, praying without ceasing, calling of the name of Jesus to save me from myself. The Lord proved faithful in delivering me from bondage and I am happily seeking His will daily and thus pursuing a ministerial calling.
Day One–God is a faithful gardener, ready to cut off the things in our lives that don’t bear fruit. Pruning isn’t pleasant, but clears way for new harvest.
Day Two–When you realize your true value to God, you won’t feel a need for the approval of others. Live for an audience of One!
Day Three–““If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John15.18.NIV
I love your garden tools!
1.(God’s appv’l) I will do what HE commands, even if I get teased!
2.(charactoristics) free from love of money, to be content, I will never forsake you.(why?) free is right if desire money-you’re a slave to it. (good thing I don’t love can never seem build up enough to love! :D) to be content: I been “poor”, lived in a runned down neighborhood, live now in a more “affluent” one but have had happiness in both. Home is where your heart is on GOD and family! never foresake: I didn’t “know” God in my eary life, BUT I knew he was there, family become distant, friends leave or turn on you but God has always been there for me!
3.(time when challenge to believe in God) When my step-daughter was kidnapped by her mother. We trusted that God had a reason to let this happen. He did because, we ended up with sole custody because of her “crazy” actions. Giving my step-daughter, Stephanie a solid better homelife. That was when she was like 10, so I can relate somewhat to Beth’s adoption delema, and the influence of the informative years. Today I pray she will appreicate what she was given.
4. (garden tools, I love gardening, thougth this was going to be easy….)
“hardships” – a knee pad, protects our knees from the rocks and such as we get close to the garden, and we need to get on our knees and pray when life presents us with …. hardships knee pad and prayer
“pleasing God” the hand claw, I use it to “dig up” and pull up weeds, weeds get in the way of a plant’s growth and potential. Just like seeking the approval of men gets in the way of our growth in GOD.
“crucified” pruning shears, pruning shears help shape the plant, cut off “suckers” that starve the true plant, and nip off “dead” branches. We need to nip off, snip off that “sin” nature, to be well shaped in God’s image for His Glory.
“righteousness via faith” maybe not a “tool” but a garden needs rain. it’s basic like our faith, my plants, grass in the spring just do better with a good rain. Our walk with God is better, and just not complete without our faith and in turn our righteousness.
“Abba-Father” The gardener, what’s a garden, or tools in the garden without the gardener! We look at our garden, choose the right tool for the time, we use many to perfect our garden. Our father in heaven knows what tools to use on us, to shape us in HIS immage! Praise be to GOD.
Love your gardening tools!
Hi~ I am a week late- However, that is good news as my husband is doing the study with me and we are using the group discussion as our own little “small group”. That is a BIG Amen!! My answers below will only be mine though…
1. Seeking God’s approval in this day is so hard. In the work world we try and please our boss. Sometimes (I am in sales) that is so hard to do. I build my base by honesty and sometimes we are asked to stretch the truth. My answer is to do what is right in God’s word and eyes. I have learned being in his word daily is amazing. The hard part is listening to his still small voice!
2. #5 was a big one for me. We will constantly be on the witness stand. I am learning that sometimes we are faced with this by other Christians more than non believers. That blows me away! I am learning to be prepared! Also #6 stood out to me- God is definetly taking me out of my comfort zone lately!
3. My husband has not been working for a few months. God keeps his promise by being faithful as so far we have paid all of our bills. I have a saying with my husband “Today we are OK”. By the grace of God I have not said yet, we are not OK today….
sorry, I was stumped on the tools…..
Well, I’ll try this again……hit wrong key and lost everything I posted…..or maybe Satan did not like my answers and he did it. LOL.
1. By giving myself totally to God, and not sin anymore. Repent and have approval from God for what I am trying to do change my life for Him, and live for Him. (hard to do for I am a control freak!!)
2. #2 you must abandon your own will and agenda….I spend to much time in worldly things and not in His word. I seem to want to read a good novel, watch,or a video…..instead of being with Him. I need to change my attitude to more God not me, me,me.
3. When my husband was in the hospital having 6-8 hours of heart by-pass ( 5 by-passes) surgery, and the Lord proved faithful to me by bringing him though it. I had to believe God COULD and WOULD bring him though the surgery. HE did and my husband is still alive since 2000, ten years ago, and I thank the Lord everyday.
4. Garden Tools:
Not so sure about these as yet. Maybe next week, I have to do some hard thinking on this.
Blessing to all.
My Garden tools for Week One
1. A container of wisdom to remind me always to consider the power of influence that is my gift and to use it wisely.
2. A megaphone to boldly proclaim and boldly do what Abba has called me to, without once considering what others may think… to live for the audience of One… Jesus.
3. A hammock to remind me to rest in Him, knowing that times of aloneness are orchestrated by Him, not just allowed by Him… and to rest confidently, knowing that He is doing His planned work in me.
4. Binoculars to help me to see that I am clothed in Christ, in armor for victory… to see that God has the power to do completely all that He has promised… and to know that He will.
5. A heart to love Him openly and freely. For that is His love for me.
1. I would tune out others and not care about what they think of me. Focus only on pleasing God and be more bold in sharing the Word.
2. You must abandon your own will and your own agenda. I’m constantly trying to control things and get very stressed out when things are chaotic or do not go the way I plan. In order to serve the Lord I need to give control over to Him and let him take over.
3. I was getting married at the end of June and moving from Texas to Chicago where fiance (soon to be husband) was part owner in a business. I had quit my job and they had hired someone to replace me. About a month before our wedding the company lost its major client and my fiance decided that he was going to get out of the company and move down to Texas. His brother lived there and he was going to live with him. I should have been very stressed out that I was getting married and now had no job and no place to live. I prayed over it a long time and God just gave me a peace about the whole situation. God reminded me that He would provide for me. By the time we got back from our honeymoon I had a new job and we had a place to live. God is faithful.
4. I’m not exactly sure what we are supposed to put for this one so I am putting some thoughts I had each day as I read this study.
Day 1: God may give us more than we can handle, but he will never give us more than He can handle.
Day 2: Focus on God and not on others. Do not let others dictate your mood or actions.
Day 3: Stop trying to control everything. Sit back, relax in God’s presence and enjoy all He has to offer.
Day 4: Grace is a gift given and not something we can earn. It is given without expectation of anything in return.
Day 5: We were chosen by God because it pleases Him. He chose us, we didn’t earn it by simply being born.
Oh Clara! I am like you! I want to control everything! I have such a hard time laying things at the foot of the cross and leaving them there!
I pray that this study helps you as it is already helping me with my control issues! Have a great week!
1. To wake up and not worry about what others think; or what my own mind thinks for that matter…To simply live day by day for God.
2. Abandon your will and agenda: this is what I am working on in my life the most: instead of controlling all around me, I need to practice self-control so that I can do God’s will.
3. When Josh, my husband, was laid off. I had to have faith that God would provide for us during that time and pull us through. And He did!!
4. Day 1) Open my eyes and heart to the fruit of the Spirit. Get ready for a change and realize that life as a Christian means hard work and persecution; but go at it with joy as Paul and Barnabus did.
Day 2) Stop worrying of seeking the approval of man. To only work on gaining approval from God. I ache for His “well done good and faithful servant”.
Day 3) There is so much more to being filled witht he fruit of the Spirit than outward show of change; much inner change has to occur.
Day 4) Don’t stop believing that God has the power to work in my life for much greater things. He is my armor through the “impossible” seasons!!
Day 5) He has given us the ultimate gift. Stop yearning for earthly things. Share the gift of God with everyone so they can enjoy His presence and glorify Him.
Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like
2. Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why? (page 22) The one that spoke to me was A few will understand. Why because there have been challenges in my life and people do not understand me. They do not listen to me, or even mock me for no reason. I just walk away from them when they do that, I normally do not go back to them for help because they are still being not nice to me and that is wrong.
4. In your workbook on page 29, or in a journal, create a list of “Garden Tools” based upon each lesson of the day. (see my example in the comments) We will be doing this each week.
Day 1 Life is what you make it alone. However, with God in your life the hardships are not there.
Day 2 The best way is to make sure you pray to him for all things in life no matter big or small.
Day 3 He died for our sins, thank him each and every day.
Day 4 He was there for so we need to be there for him
Day 5 He is the father of all of us.
Hello everyone. I am just catching up. I finally got my member book on yesterday. I have been reading though.
My answers to the first Group Discussion questions:
1. What would it mean for you to seek only God’s approval?
To feel complete. I know that in Him I have hope and no longer need the false securities of anyone or anythng.
2. Which of the 10 characteristics of the crucified life spoke most personally to you and why?
The 3rd characteristic “your intimate spiritual companions will be few” This touches on what I am experiencing right now in my life. In accepting God’s call into the ministry, there were very few friends and family members who were at a spiritual level to understand my true commitment to God. It was hard a first, but over the past five years, I have watched many of my friends and family move into their own personal relationships with God through the witness of my walk. God knows the plans that He has….
3. Share a time when you were challenged to believe God and He proved faithful to you. —-
This testimony is far too in depth to place here so I’m only going to give you the very meat of my story. In 2004, I left my home in Greenville SC, walking by faith that God had requested of me to quit my job and go to Seminary School in Palm Beach, Florida. I packed my truck with four boxes of perishable food items and left with only faith lining my pockets. I was diverted in my travel to go and visit a couple that I had met only a few months earlier from Raleigh NC. It was strictly a momentary diversion to help them with a business matter. At least that is what I thought. Little did I know at the time, that God was opening a door that would ultimately change the course of my entire life.
My adopted-father and Pastor was very distressed that I was making such a radical move. I remember the tears that filled His eyes as I drove away that afternoon promising to give him a call later in the week. When I arrived at this couples home in NC, they inquired of my plans and to why my truck seemed packed for a long journey. I explained that I was on my way to Florida to seminary school and had left a couple of months early to get settled in.
Now this is where I cut to the very meat… Unbeknown to me, she had been trying to contact me for the past four months. I had quit my job remember. She had no other way of contacting me because I had only been their clerk in their father’s Probate case. The Spirit was heavy on my heart to call them before I left town to help finalize their paperwork as I had promised. It was that same call, on the morning I was leaving town, that had led to my diverting to Raleigh to help them finalize everything. Soon after my arrival, she informed me that she had a job opening and asked if I was interested. She confessed that her husband had told her she was crazy to think I would come from another State to consider her job offer. My call to her that morning was like fate she said. But we all know “Who” was pulling the strings. When I called my father later that week, I would be informing him of some amazing courses of actions that had taken place since I left him only four days earlier. Not only was I not in Palm Beach Florida, but that I was in Raleigh NC; soon to be working for the State with a salary paying three times that amount of my old job; a brand new apartment;(another story) and a couple of newfound friends. It was from there I studied, became a licensed Minister and founded Poetic Word Ministries Inc. in November 2006. Yeah, God showed His Faithfulness to me that day and I will forever be reminded of how truly faithful and just our Holy Father really is….. Amen.
By faith it was credited to him (her). What a great story!