Anonymous Bible Study | Week 6

This is our final week for the Anonymous online Bible study. Cindi Wood helped us understand the anonymous women named judged, hurting, ordinary, and shame. Her simple approach helped us understand the biblical importance of these women and their stories. Remember, other women were judges, prophetesses, and church leaders in the New Testament. Women were not “sidelined” in the early church.

These four anonymous women- judged, hurting, ordinary, and shame- met Jesus and were forever changed. He became the foundation of their life story. During our discussion groups, I have shared a few stories about my journey and I have enjoyed hearing about your journey too.

If I renamed these women- Judged, Hurting, Ordinary, or Shame- I would give all four the name BRIDE. When she meets Jesus, she is transformed by the Bridegroom. My prayer is that you are too.

Remember God’s faithfulness in your life. Keep a spiritual journal of answered prayers and words of knowledge. Read your Bible daily so you will know and believe in God. Worship regularly and celebrate the joy of being a child of God. Keep your lamps full…the Groom may return anytime.

Look in your Bible at Revelation 2:17 NIV: Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. 

Enjoy your spiritual journey and your new name.

Beloved, Blessed, Chosen.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

 

Anonymous Bible Study | Week 5

Welcome to the Anonymous online Bible study as we discuss week five. In this study we have learned about the women named judged, hurting, ordinary, or shame. None were anonymous to God and all had a spiritual testimony to tell. Maybe you have a story too!

According to Cindi Wood, “The Pharisees taught about God, but they didn’t seem to love God.” As I thought about this I believe they were spiritually immature. Perhaps that does not imply a lack of love for God. They were intellectuals and perfectionists and had a zealous drive to please Him. My prayer is that we also desire to please God but we do this out of love and not pride.

Many theologians have pondered the story of the Pharisees and the adulterous woman. We often wonder why Pharisees bought the adulteress, and not the adulterer, to Jesus. Perhaps, as some scholars have suggested this was a highly esteemed man. Or a religious man. Maybe he was a politician, and there was some Old Testament corruption or shenigaginas behind the story. What is important as Bible students is that we look ONLY at the biblical text. Let’s not make assumptions and turn these into unproven facts.

Sometimes we are called to discipline others. Taking a hardline approach to doing things right might cause us to dismiss compassion. We probably have stories and regrets where compassion was overshadowed by our negative emotions. We saw this week how “The enemy of God likes to keep a forgiven sin streaming across our minds” (Cindi Wood). Christian therapy, excellent counselors, and intentional healing help us revist these thoughts in a therapeutic setting.

Open to Bible to John 8:6. Jesus wrote on the ground as if He did not hear the Pharisees. This is one of the great mysteries of the Bible. Most theologians have been unable to agree about what Jesus wrote. In historical context, who was able to read words and letters? Was this a graphic doodle? Was it an arrow? A symbol the Pharisees would know? Or the name of a man everyone knew.

The Bible does not answer this question. We can determine from the response of the Pharisees that the message on the ground was effective. Those men saw it and left.

Turn your Bible to Matthew 15:19 NIV: For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. NIV

Here we can see that hearts are deceitful. When someone is judged and accused, this might be character assassination, false testimony, or slander. As listeners…we must guard our minds against drawing conclusions and joining the crowd of accusers. Let Jesus judge because He knows the heart.

According to Cindi Wood, “The accusers who dragged the woman to Jesus did her a favor.”  Well, she met Jesus and became part of history. What a story!

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

 

Anonymous Bible Study | Week 4

Welcome back to online Bible study for Anonymous: Discovering the Somebody You Are to God by Cindi Wood. We started our discussion this week by describing a divine encounter. Divine is godly in my vocabulary, not man-made. Also included in the definition is “when someone encounters a messenger of God delivered through another person.” It could be a school teacher, a salesperson at a store, or someone seated beside you.

As a Bible Cafe Coach, I have shared my personal story about a divine encounter. When attending my very first Bible study, I picked up my workbook from the church desk and walked out. Even though I purchased the book “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” by Beth Moore, I decided to drop the study before it even started. And then, a divine encounter happened.

Lisa, one of my carpool moms, saw me walking out of the church. She stood in my personal space, just inches from my face, and blocked my path. Then she confronted me about leaving and I told her the study was not for me. She replied, “Christine, if you walk out now then Satan wins.” BAM.

After that divine encounter, I stayed and walked back into the church. Lisa didn’t need to hold my hand or join me in the small group. Her words spoken at that exact moment had a lifetime impact on my heart.

Cindi Wood writes, “… to rise above feelings of insignificance in the eyes of others, it’s critical to understand our significance to God.” After that first Bible study group, I started to realize this important point.

In this season of my life, I celebrate my significance by lovingly reading my Bible, doing daily devotions, singing worship songs, attending church, and fellowship with small groups at the Bible Cafe. Other times, when I feel emotionally and mentally fatigued, I turn to alone time with Jesus. It refreshes me to pray in my garden.

If you were blessed to join a discussion group this week, then you talked about greater and lesser sins. This is a common place of misunderstanding in church denominations.  Sin is sin.

In my small group, I told the story about the time I took a prostitute to church. Though she felt uncomfortable, she sat with my family at the church café. Through God’s eyes, she is a family member and a sinner, just like the rest of us. So we welcomed her at our church and our family table.  A few years later, the prostitute died and thankfully had the opportunity to be loved by the Church and to know Jesus.

Open your Bible and look at 2 Timothy 2:22 NIV: Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 

Run away from youthful lusts—pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those [believers] who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22 AMP)

To have a pure heart is to seek spiritual transformation! We seek perfection in Christ. As we pursue holiness we clean the temple of the Holy Spirit within us and put on the character of Christ. My friends, that is a beautiful thing.

How do you feel about having an intimate relationship or conversation with God, where you are alone in His presence? Do you intentionally make time for this, or do you fear it? Think about your answer and write it down. Pray over your obstacles. Be a steward of His words and write them down.

Your story may lead someone to Christ.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

 

Anonymous Bible Study | Week 3

Join us for online Bible studies. We are reading Anonymous by Cindi Wood. Last week we studied the woman who was judged and this week, the woman who was hurting. We’re connecting the dots in womens Bible study.

Looking at the two anonymous women- judged and hurting- I can identify with the woman in the Bible who was judged. As a ministry leader, my words are actions are judged by both nonbelievers and believers. As any human being, I am flawed and imperfect. But for some reason, the “title” of my job implies higher expectations and greater judgment.

Often I hear people complain that we selected the wrong book, wrong author, or wrong Bible version, and it is exhausting trying to please everyone. So I stopped trying to be a people pleaser and focused on Jesus instead. How refreshing for my spirit.

As we studied the women who were hurting, did you think about how you experienced God’s compassion during your hurting seasons? In my suffering seasons, God sent spiritual advisors and friends. We prayed together, I lamented, and they carried me through with the Word and encouragement of God. My prayer is that you will not walk alone if you are hurting. Call a friend, contact a Christian counselor, or visit your local church for assistance. Don’t walk alone.

Open your Bible and read Psalm 139:16 NIV: Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

When I read this Truth and accepted this verse, I stopped condemning myself. I stopped being afraid for my children and family members. I connected my heart to His will and destiny for my life. No shame, no lingering hurts, and no regrets. How does your heart respond to the truth that God knew all about your life before you were even formed?

According to Matthew 1:23, Immanuel means “God with us.” The enemy of God wants to isolate us. He attacks Christians and makes them feel alone. He tries to drive them into caves, into shame, and further from the “sanctuary.” This is a spiritual attack from an invisible war. We do NOT suffer alone as we seek fellowship with Believers of the faith.

Reach out to disciple someone who struggles with spiritual strongholds. Open the door to your home to someone afflicted by religion, shame, or spiritual identity theft. Be the witness for Christ and share your testimony about why you believe.

BE HIS WITNESS!!!

Cindi Wood remembers difficult times when she was “blasting through areas of pride…and ushered into God’s healing.” What might happen if you let go of your stored pride? The most beautiful gift is to surrender your pride and put on humility. Stop struggling for the approval of people. They do not determine if you have eternal life. They do not GIVE the Fruit of the Spirit.

As I think about the bleeding woman in the Bible, she was fearful and trembling after touching the hem of Jesus. In the historical period, religious rules of the day said she was unclean. Because of her affliction, she could not go to the synagogue! A social outcast in the community who should be showing her love during her difficult season.

Cindi Wood’s list of “suffering etiquette” in your workbook is a beautiful reminder about how to help others. Perhaps you can practice some of these with your local neighbors? Be the hands and feet of Christ…in your community.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.

 

Anonymous Bible Study | Week 2

Welcome to our second week of the Bible study course Anonymous by Cindi Wood. This week our focus is on the woman who anointed Jesus and felt judged. This biblical story is relevant for Christians today. We live under the spirit of judgment from others. We discussed this in our small groups at Bible Cafe University.

People are judged for the clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the schools they attend, and such. When my kids enrolled in Christian school the entire neighborhood shunned us and refused to allow their kids to play with mine. The judgment is so “normal” that people don’t realize they are doing this.

Perhaps, this is the result of too many years of reality television. My friends, when our entertainment is centered on judging others- such as singing competitions, dancing competitions, or cooking competitions- we start to view the world through that lens. And so we judge. The worldview acceptance of judging others has become so familiar that we are seeing people unfriended or de-platformed- and we have lost our freedom of speech. Opinions need to fit into a worldview box and not the Christian voice that we have seen historically. These are birth signs of the end times.

We endure judgments and social persecution by keeping our eyes on Jesus and our hearts on God. We look for like-minded people who share Christian values. These people were often gathered in churches. Or small groups. Perhaps they are harder to see because the algorithm has been filtering their content. Like mine.

Refreshing with God in quiet time helps calm the persecution attacks against my mind. When I seek Him through prayer, worship, and my Bible, God “speaks” through His Word. My heart hears Him spiritually, not audibly. As I tend my outside garden I pray and talk to God. I am abiding…in His presence and aware of His love…all the time and more noticeable when I am alone.

Open your Bible and read Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (NIV). How do you feel about receiving God’s authentic love? His love never fails even when mine did. When I ran as a prodigal and tried to hide myself from Him…He was there.

Now turn to Luke 7:41-43: “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.”

Cindi Wood observes, “Although Jesus spoke strongly, I don’t believe He spoke harshly.” I agree with Cindi’s observation. We are instructed to let Jesus measure our debts, not people. Remember what I said earlier about the judgment worldview? Let’s break away from that and adopt the biblical view instead.”

We read in our Bibles this week about the women who poured expensive perfume on Jesus. Not the cheap stuff. She gave Him her best offering. After observing this do you think Simon became a follower of Jesus? As a Pharisee, Simon was blinded by self-righteousness. He created his own rules and expectations for Jesus and the guests. Many people today are still feeling judged and so they keep their Christian faith hidden.

Have you ever experienced an accuser? When I was recently judged, I prayed and then decided to see the accuser through the eyes of Jesus. Looking with a different heart- Christ in me- helped me the brokenness of the person who was judging and attacking me. So I kept my mouth silent and “tamed my tongue” when I was judged.

Cindi Wood writes, “Jesus saw this woman as a forgiven sinner.” What happens when we identify ourselves by our sins or make light of them? Studying the Bible has helped me understand why I sin, and how I am forgiven. One story that helped me is called “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” by Beth Moore. In that study, I was able to see how spiritual warfare is used against the children of God. So I no longer walk in the shame of my past decisions and I walk forward with Jesus as a woman forgiven.

Join me on that journey as you continue to study, connect, and grow at the Bible Cafe!

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.