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Week 3: Threshing

The past two studies, focused on the action of planting, sowing, and harvesting. This study is a little different. It takes us to the Judges 6 where we find Gideon threshing wheat in the wine press.

Day 1: Consequences

Read Judges 6:1-2 and Judges 6:10

1. Because the Israelites had done evil in the eyes of the Lord, how long were the Israelites in the hands of Midian?
2. Reflect on anything you feel has you and think about whether or not it is an outcome/natural consequence to sin.
3. Where did the Israelites seek shelter and why do you think they chose that environment?
4. What would be some advantages and disadvantages of that location?
5. How have you tried to adjust to an uncomfortable or unwanted situation?

Day 2: Looking Down on the Impossible

Read Judges 6:3-5

During this seven year period, their harvest was being attacked.

1. Who was attacking them?
2. What were they attacking and doing?
3. Was this year round or for a season and how do we know that?
4. Based on the description, list what shows this to be an impossible hopeless situation.
5. If you notice, the Midians are attacking the Israelites food source. What might this force the Israelites to do?
6. Although the Midian’s goal was to “leave no sustenance” somehow each year the Israelites were able to sow and had livestock available to kill. How do you think this was possible?

Day 3: Breaking Point

Read Judges 6:6-10

1. The Midians were attacking the Israelites’ Harvest for seven years. Look back on verse 4-5 and list what the Midians would do. How did this affect the Israelites emotionally?
2. How did they react to this low point?
3. Reflect back on some of your low points where you cried out to the Lord.
Read verses 8-10
1. How did the Lord respond?
2. How would you describe the tone of the prophet?
3. What does the prophet remind them of?

Day 4: Gideon Threshing in the Wine Press

Read Judges 6:11-14

It’s interesting that the prophet is talking to the Israelites and scripture does not show or say their response. To me, it’s kind of like a mic drop: speechless. There is nothing to say to that.

However, It shows us that Gideon was not with them. He was separated from them because he was trying to save wheat by threshing it in the wine press.

Even though, the Midians were attacking the harvest, somehow Midian has salvaged some. And some how, the past seven years despite the fact that the Midians aim to leave no distance or sheep, is, or donkey, they have been able to eat because they are still surviving.

1. What did the angel of the Lord do under the tree? I find this interesting because Gideon is working hard while the angel sits.
2. In verse 12 the angel of the Lord then appears to Gideon and the first thing out of his mouth is that the Lord is with Gideon and calls him a valiant warrior. How would you respond if you are going about your business doing normal work and someone came up to you and called you a valiant warrior?
3. Notice in verse 13, Gideon responds but makes no mention of the label he has been given. In fact, describe in your own words his response?
4. It’s interesting, the first thing he mentions is what the prophet had told the Israelites. But rennet, Gideon wasn’t there. The prophet of the Lord had to remind them who their Lord is. Gideon on the other hand knew. It fact, it’s as if he had been dwelling on it as wondering where is there miracle. Gideon knew God’s character so he is wondering why has God abandoned them? Have you ever prayed for a miracle that falls inline with God’s character, but frustrated that you aren’t seeing it? Have you ever cried out to God, “Where are you in this?”
5. The angel of the Lord does not respond like the prophet did stating the reason why. From scripture that comes later, to me this shows that Gideon was obeying God.

Day 5: The Calling

Read Judges 6:14-19

1. In verse 14, what was God’s directive to Gideon?
2. Who looked at Gideon and how would you feel if that was you?
3. Describe the conversation between them in verses 15-18.
4. Why do you think Gideon wanted a sign that it was God he was speaking to?
5. Think back to the beginning of this chapter. How would you describe the availability of food and livestock.
6. Reflecting on that and Gideon’s immediate desire to give an offering, what can we learn from Gideon here?

 

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In My Presence

My dogs Watson and Savannah love playing fetch, running off of the leash, and swimming. Today was one of those days they were able to do all three.

I took them to one of my favorite spots that has a pond that is nestled just enough away from the encroaching new subdivision.

When play time with me was over, I sat myself up against a tree, leaned back and closed my eyes. Now this transition into quite time wasn’t necessarily smooth. My dogs approached me expecting me to still play fetch. I had to repeatedly tell them no until they got the hint.

Today in particular, Watson scampered off to dip into the pond and run around while Savannah dropped her ball beside me and took a few steps back and waited.

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Savannah has always been obsessed with playing fetch. She will just stare at the ball intently while she waits. If I don’t get it, she picks it back up and tries again. She repeats this until she realizes that it “ain’t gonna happen.” At that point she takes her ball and leaves.

Today was different though. She didn’t leave me.

Instead, she let the ball stay and positioned herself at my feet and relaxed and stopped focusing on the ball.

I can’t explain the joy I felt to have her just want to be near me. It caused me to actually pay more attention to her.

I then realized this is how God feels.

We tend to want to be in His Presence when we have a prayer request. We drop the prayer and wait. When it’s not answered we pick it up and go about our business and then give it back the next day in prayer. How many times are we in His presence wanting something: a sign, answered prayer, encouraging word.

Those aren’t bad things to do or want, but do we ever just want Him?

Is HE really enough for you?
Or is he only enough because you know He can provide, bless, and answer prayers?

If he couldn’t do those things, would you still want a relationship with Him?

You see, God doesn’t need anything from us.
He doesn’t want a relationship with us so he can get something from us. And yet he still wants to be with us.

He doesn’t love us, based on our actions or displays of affections.

It’s about company and companionship. The feeling of joy, peace, and love that exists because we are near each other.

As I write this, he is speaking to me. The walk over to the pond, I was sharing with Him a bit of sadness. Last night I may have experienced some premenopausal symptoms: night sweats.

This saddened me, and I went into strategy mode. “Maybe I could get some of my eggs frozen,” I thought. Then I started thinking about God’s promises he gave me, and scriptures that confirmed I would have kids from me, and now it seems IMPOSSIBLE.

Forty, divorced, and being called by God to stand and wait for marriage restoration makes it all more disheartening.

But…..at the end of the day, God is enough for me so I just can’t focus on those things anymore. I just have to let go, relax, and sit at his feet.

One night crying I asked God, ” Why didn’t you save my marriage before divorce?”

He answered back, “Aren’t I enough?”

Luke 10:38-42 NASB

Martha and Mary
38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.40 But Martha was distracted with [q]all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

 

Week 2: Harvest

Three Harvest Times:

1. Barley Reaping (April/May)
2. Wheat Harvest (June/July)
3. In gathering of the Fruits -Tree/Vines (Sept/Oct)

Festivals occurring during each of those harvest times.
1. Passover
2. Pentecost
3. Tabernacles

Main Scripture

Galatians 6:7-10 NASB
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Monday: Get Your Ground Ready!

1. Read Proverbs 24:27
I’ve included three different translations.

New International Version
Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.

New Living Translation
Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.

English Standard Version
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

The first thing that needs to be done before you have a crop to harvest is to get a field ready. However, not just any field will work. Each plant grows best in a certain type of soil. Soils vary by region which have different climates and precipitation. Fields also need to be plowed and made ready. If a seed is not planted in the right type of soil or an unplowed field, then its growth is not fruitful or nonexistent.

It’s kind of like humans. We live in different places with different cultures. But, our heart and our minds are like fields. Everyday we see, hear, and experience things that are planted in our mind, vision, desires, and emotions.

Because of that, last week I asked, “Where do you plant your presence?” A blessed man plants himself in the Word God. However he chooses this. He is not being forced. Therefore it shows his heart/mind or field is ready for the seed of God to be planted. His field has been plowed and made ready

If he was being forced to be in the presence of the Lord or had minimal exposure, his heart/field isn’t plowed well enough for the seed to grow strong roots. Therefore the seed is received, but will fail to reach the maturity of being harvested.

We got to get our field ready so God’s seed grows and remains in us.

1 John 3:9 NIV
No one who is born of God will continue to sin,because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.

So to start off today, I want to ask some questions that will have you reflect on the status of your field/heart before moving into the study.

1. How often to you plant yourself in Bible reading?
2. Answer only the question that pertains to you:

A. What keeps you from attempting to read the Bible? Explain any past attempts that did not succeed in becoming a Bible reader.

B. What keeps you from reading the Bible regularly? Think about how you can create some type of system that works around those challenges if they are not going to go away. Think about which challenges are actually distractions, therefore becoming a priority in your schedule over reading God’s Word.

C. If you are reading regularly, have you thought about deepening your understanding by incorporating Biblical resource books? What would you like to know more about?

Now read Galatians 6:7
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

A man reaps what he sows. The acting of sowing requires effort and energy.

A. The person has to physically take seed out and intentionally sow it somewhere.
B. The amount of harvest and the type of harvest depends on what the sower sowed.
C. The amount of seed sown depends on the size of the field.

Based on what has been written up to this point, reflect on Galatians 6:7.

1. Where do you sow your seed? Where do you invest your energy in besides work?
2. Reflect where do you sow into sin.

For me I sow into emotional eating. Eating is not bad, but when I eat to calm my emotions I’m sowing to the flesh. And trust me, my body will not be mocked. It shows!

3. How often are you sowing into your sin?

Tuesday: Sowing

Galatians 6:8 NASB
8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 5 16-13 (NASB)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, [d]factions,21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1. Galatians 6:8 says if you sow to please the flesh then you will reap/harvest destruction. From Galatians 5, list the 15 things that are deeds of the flesh. List them straight down your paper leaving room to write on the side of them.
2. Next to each deed, give examples of ways that either you and/or others sow into that particular deed. (This is between you and God. Don’t be afraid to confront anything or even place a question mark on things you are not sure fall into that category but you think maybe do.)
3. Now, for each deed write whether or not the secular world thinks your examples will lead to destruction.
4. Now from Galatians 5, list the nine fruits of the Spirit in the same way you listed the deeds of the flesh.
5. Next to each fruit, express where you feel you are with that fruit. You can even give yourself a ranking using a 1-10 range. One meaning not there at all. Five is neutral, and 10 would represent as close to humanly possible at reflecting that fruit.
6. Can you think of any situations God has grown you in a specific fruit or is challenging you to grow in a specific fruit?

If you have time, reread Psalm 1:1-6 from last week. It reemphasizes these scriptures.

Wednesday: Sowing and Growing

Matthew 13:3-8 (NASB)
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell [a]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

1. First notice there is one intentional action and three unintentional actions.
2. All the seeds are in the presence of the sower, but some have either slipped through or fallen out when others are intentionally being sown.

There are many things that can put us in the presence of God.
1. Going to church
2. Listening to Christian music
3. Listening to an online or radio sermon
4. Reading a devotional
5. Praying
6. Reading the Bible

However reading the Bible and prayer are the only two that require just you and God. It’s that 1:1 personal relationship and it is first hand information.

Remember in week one of this study, the Word says the blessed man meditates on the law of God day and night. Where is that first hand information? In the Bible!

In this parable, there are four types of ground.
1. Side of the road
2. Rocky places
3. Thorny ground
4. Good soil

Here is the danger. Every single person has a heart/ground. If it’s only being “plowed” with Christian music, online sermons, or just attending church, your heart will not be plowed to the point that your ground can get to the point of good soil. Good soil reaps a harvest    .

We usually start by going to church etc., but to never move to reading the word of God for ourselves, along with praying, leaves you missing out a great relationship. Plus, the Word transforms us from the inside out. It’s how God speaks to you directly to grow you to maturity. Maturity that can be harvested and multiplied. You don’t want to have stunted growth

This is why many people think that they will go to heaven because they attend church regularly, believe in Jesus, and try to be a good person. People think the activity is the relationship.

Let’s compare this to a real relationship.

If you spend time as a couple going to a movie, concerts, and believe the person is your spouse without talking or “listening” to what that person has to say to you first hand would that be a real relationship?

No.

You have to talk and share your thoughts, concerns, and beliefs. And these conversations need to happen with just you and your spouse. Not with a middle man or receiving second hand information.

So why do we think not having this intimacy with God is ok?

God shares his love, thoughts, character, beliefs through his Word. We have to read it for ourselves to get to know Him. We have to pray so we can share our thoughts with God. He wants to listen.

1. Out of the four ground types which one(s) do you most relate with?
2. Based on the parable, what is happening to God’s seed when it lands on your ground.

Notice that each ground type is receiving the seed just like many people hear about Jesus and are even believers of Jesus. But, do all the seeds reach the point of harvest?

3. The difference is the ground. Once you receive God’s seed, is your heart/ground able to provide an ENVIRONMENT for the seed to grow in you and transform you? Are you staying as a seedling or are you growing in Christ to point that your flesh is becoming dead?

A harvested plant is a dead plant.
1. Yet it’s in its death that it feeds others.
2. It’s nourishment that allows others to grow.
3. It also gets to a point where it is creating many seed. The plant must die for the new seeds to be planted.

All plants die, but not all make it to a mature enough state that reproduces, multiplies, and can be used for a service.

Thursday: Sowing and Growing Continued

Let’s flip the script. Yesterday we looked at the scripture as if you were the ground with the ground representing your heart and how it may or may not be getting plowed well enough for the seed to grow to the point of harvest.

Today let’s think about you being the seed. All people belong to God. Yet some choose by the depth of their relationship with HIM to stay in his presence. These are the ones that are in His hand the entire time and get sown in good soil. The other ones are falling out of his hand or coming out too soon.

1. If you are the seed falling onto the side of the road, what real world situation could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?
2. If you are the seed falling onto rocky ground, what real world situation could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?
3. If you are the seed falling onto thorny ground what real world situation could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?
4. If you are the seed being placed in the good soil, what real world situations could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?

Friday: Harvesting

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

1. For the barley and wheat harvest, “the corners of the fields were no to be reaped and the scatterings of the cut grain were not to be picked up.” (Zondervan Pictoral Bible Dictionary)
2. “With a new orchard or vineyard the fruit could not be gathered for three years, and the fourth year’s crop had the given entirely to the Lord. So the owner had to wait until the fifth year to get any fruit for himself. (Zondervan Pictoral Bible Dictionary)

For the grain fields, the instruction to leave the corners and not pick up what had fallen or scattered was to benefit the poor.

1. Putting on your business cap, why would this good deed be an inconvenience?

2. If you were the owner of a new vineyard or orchard, what would be difficult about your situation based on the information above?
3. How does that scripture impact you now knowing the harvesting customs of that time?
4. What situation/crop have you been investing yourself in through action and/or prayer that has not come into fruition yet?
5. Is there a blessing others are able to receive because you are working and tending to your situation/crop even though you don’t see your harvest?
6. What emotions does God acknowledge you are going to go through while you wait?

Let’s think back to the past two days. God knows we get weary. Maybe he does too?
However, he keeps sowing. He does not stop, because he wants everyone one of us to repent and grow in Him and into an image of Christ.

He wants a crop of Christians that can be harvested and sent out to “feed” the world and multiply.

Matthew 13:8
And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

Galatians 6:10
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

7. How do you feel about your situation now?
8. What action steps will you take to either incorporate Bible reading, become more consistent, or gain a deeper knowledge?

Have a blessed week!

 

 

 

Surviving on Higher Ground

Today I went with my youngest sister for our daily walk in the rain. It’s a time we count our blessings that this little area has been spared so far. However, we take pictures of the increasing water behind the house as we toss a toy with the dogs. They have been the few to not mind the rain since it has given them plenty of off leash time and easy access swimming.

On our way back today, my sister noticed a bunch of empty snail shells in the crevices between the sidewalk and the landscaping off to the side.

We began to gather the empty shells and it reminded me of what is happening now during Harvey. So many empty homes whose inhabitants have had to flee. There the shells lay on the ground submerged under a thin layer of water surrounded by debris.

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We tried to rescue a few that were still alive but underwater. Like the rescue helicopters, our hands reached down to pluck the ones that had life. We then began to stick them to the trees to try and give them a chance to survive. My sister then realized, that other snails had made their way up those trees on their own clinging to higher ground.

I love when God reveals himself in nature.

What I was getting from this little observation is, how do we survive the storm? It doesn’t have to be an actual weather storm, but any major disruption in life that is unexpected and can be catastrophic. It upsets and challenges our soul and spirit. Emotionally we can be swept away or in a rage. Or we can rise above to higher ground and be an overcomer.

Again, the question is HOW?

Jesus Christ!

By constantly being in His Presence through the reading of the word and prayer, the Holy Spirit equips us to supernaturally survive when by the world’s view we should be drowning.

It gives you the ability to love unconditionally who you are rejected by.

It gives you the ability to forgive those who don’t even ask for forgiveness.

It gives you the ability to go outside yourself to be helping hands.

It also gives you the knowledge that you are not a victim of your circumstances. Instead you are a victor in Christ.

Matthew 7:24-27New International Version (NIV)
The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

To God be the Glory

Planting: Where Do You Plant Your Presence?

Week 1: Planting

Worship: Endlessly-Bethel

Psalm 1:1-6
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+1%3A1-6&version=NASB

Day 1: Psalm 1:1
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

As we begin this study, I want you to notice that verse one starts with the word “How.” Normally, this is used to start a question, but here it is not. In fact it is using an exclamation point. Keep that in mind as we dig into this blessed man in verse one.

1. There three groups of people listed in verse one not including the blessed man. Who are they?
A. Wicked
B.
C.

2. What are the three things associated with each of these groups?
A. Counsel
B.
C.

3. What are the three things that the man, who is blessed, not do with them?
A. Walk in the counsel
B.
C.

Notice all three of these scenarios have to do with people and a close proximity. They have more to do with a form of companionship or a personal level of involvement.

The blessed man doesn’t WALK IN, STAND IN, or SIT IN their presence.

If he would plant himself in their presence, he would be greatly outnumbered. 1:many

4. What could happen in he planted his presence in an outnumbered situation?

Reflect:

1. Where do you plant your presence?
2. Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel outnumbered in your values?
3. If so, is this by choice or due to circumstances?
4. Is this a struggle? If so, how? If not, how?

Day 2: Psalm 1:2
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

1. In verse 1, where do the wicked, sinners, and scoffers find their delight?
A. In their own counsel
B.
C.

2. Where does the blessed man find his delight?

3. When does he find his delight?

I want to point out that this is a 1:1 ratio. I also want to point out that he is making a decision to meditate day and night on the law of the Lord. The outcome is that it is delightful which is a blessing.

I also want to point out that the scripture doesn’t say he is blessed because:
1. He walks in the counsel of Godly wisdom.
2. He stands in the path of righteous.
3. He sits in the seat of a pleasant person.

Although, those are all good things, the man is not blessed by keeping good company. He is not blessed because of humans.

He is blessed because he plants himself in the presence of God and delights in it.

4. In verse two it uses the verb meditate. What kind of conclusion can you come to when comparing meditate to the other verbs: walk, stand, sit?

Reflect:

1. Where do seek delight?
2. When you seek to delight in the word of God, do you notice a difference in your day?

Spending time with God in His Word allows you to be blessed by His Presence.

Day 3: Psalm 1:3
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Verse three is stating the blessed man is like a tree.

What do we notice about this tree.
A. It is firmly planted
B. It is near a fresh water source, which is needed to survive.
C. It bears fruit.
D. It bears fruit in the season that is appropriate for that tree.
E. It’s leaves do not wither, which is not natural. Therefore it is operating in the supernatural.
F. Since the leaves do not wither, photosynthesis is constantly occurring. That is a key process for plant survival.
G. Day and night has its sources for survival: moonlight/sunlight for photosynthesis and the stream.

As an elementary school teacher, when I read this verse I think of erosion. Streams, naturally erode the banks and if you have ever been to a river, you can see tree roots exposed along the banks.

Although erosion is exposing the roots, the firmly planted trees help prevent massive erosion. The plant roots help secure and hold down the soil along the bank along with any other kind of plant life.

So if the blessed man is like this tree by the stream:

1. He multiplies at the right or appointed time.
2. He is able to be nourished day and night because he is planted by a stream which is the law of God.
3. He is always able to grow because he is able to access light, the law of God, since his leaf does not wither.
4. He is able to be firmly planted, because he is rooted in the law of God.
5. Therefore, he prospers because he is always a tree that will bear fruit.

Reflect:

1. How deep are your roots?
2. What are you rooted to?
3. Are you bearing fruit?
4. What does this say about where you plant your presence?

Day 4: Psalm 1:4
The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Now the focus has shifted from the blessed man to the wicked. The wicked are compared to chaff which is the inedible part of the seed that is removed during the threshing process.

1. What are your thoughts about the chaff being removed from the seed compared to fruit bearing tree which therefore produces many seeds?

One of the ways the chaff was removed was by tossing the threshed wheat with a winnowing fork up in the air. The chaff would then be blown away by the wind since it is light while the rest would fall.

2. What are your thoughts about the chaff being so easily blown compared to the firmly planted tree?

3. It says that the wind DRIVES the wind away which means a force is separating it. What force separates the blessed man from the wicked, sinners, and scoffers?

Reflect:

1. Is there a process of separation or a driving out of the chaff in your life?
2. Whatever your answer is, how does it correlate to the time you spend meditating on the law of the Lord day and night.

Day 5: Psalm 1:5

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous  

The switch continues here. Verse one told us what the blessed man does not do. Now we are seeing what the wicked and sinners will not get to do.

*The wicked will not stand in the judgement
* Sinners will not stand in the assembly of the righteous.

If they won’t stand in judgement, then they cannot receive mercy. If they are not in the assembly if the righteous, then they are far from people who are blessed and could witness the delight of the Lord.

1. Go back to verse four. What is causing this separation?

2. Go back to verses 1-2. What keeps the blessed man separated from the wicked and the sinners?

Reflect:

1. What is the opposite of blessed? Cursed!
If the blessed man would keep company with the wicked, sinners, and scoffers what intentional and unintentional curses could he receive?

2. Notice the wicked cannot stand in their own circumstances. The will be blown away. The blessed man chooses not to stand in the presence of the wicked. Instead the blessed man is planted in God’s presence day and night. What is the difference between standing and being planted?

Day 6: Psalm 1:6
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

The blessed man meditates on the law of the Lord day and night.

1. Therefore, what is the instruction manual for the blessed man whose way is righteous?

2. Who created those “ways?”

3. Reflecting on the two questions above, explain why the Lord knows the way of the righteous?

4. Describe the relationship that exists between the Lord and the blessed man based on verse 2 and 6.

The way of the wicked has no source of life. The wicked, sinners, and scoffers don’t necessarily find their way in the same source. There is only one source and one way that brings delight and life. It works for everyone when we are in relationship day and night with the Lord.

5. If your source of delight is nothing, what do you become and what happens to you according to verse 6?

Reflect:

Notice the blessed man is one and chooses not to plant himself in a situation of wickedness or sin. He chooses not to be in a group where he is outnumbered by them.

However, by the end, the blessed man is like a tree producing fruit in season. Those fruit were a part of him. He is a multiplier.

Sometimes, we seem alone in this world as a Christian, but if you are meditating day and night with the Lord you become a multiplier. You get to stand in the judgement. You get to be in the assembly of righteous.

The wicked only have death to look forward to. Perish is defined in several ways: sudden death, rot, decay, complete destruction.

This should concern you when we think of unsaved people, prodigals, or apostates in our lives.

Their own sin will eventually separate them from the assembly of the righteous. But, being in a righteous crowd does not make anyone blessed.

Only being in relationship with Jesus Christ brings true blessings. 

Pray that their heart turns to the Lord and they seek delight in the Word of God and pray that you continue growing roots by meditating on it day and night.

Note:
(This Study is not saying that we don’t reach out through ministry or mission based outreach. Sometimes going into enemy territory is necessary, but it is typically within a group setting, has been bathed with prayer, and has a purpose of speaking truth in love and not sharing/partaking in an experience of sin or wickedness.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of IT: Marriage

In my life there have been certain focuses and strongholds that have falsely formed my value and self-worth. Therefore, this series is a sort of testimony on each area before and after coming to Christ.

This IT has definitely been the one I put all my hope in instead of Christ. However, the Power of this IT placed in its proper order allows me walk in obedience to the covenant despite being divorced.

Before Christ:

As a little girl I remember picking white flowers in the backyard pretending that they were my wedding bouquet. As I grew up, I couldn’t wait to get married, love my husband, show him he was special, and have fun together. For the most part, when dating, I was always looking for someone who was marriage material.

The first time I saw my spouse walk into a class in college my mind went, “That’s him. That’s who I’m suppose to marry.” It was like this little checklist in my head of who he was and what he looked like just appeared and the only one who new the list was God. This is going to sound funny, but this was the list: Mexican-American guy (but a “coconut” like me), 5’10, hair on arms (I like fur but not on the back), looks good in a baseball cap, athletic, reserved, disciplined, morning person, hardworking, hardworking, hardworking, parents that are around the same age as mine, comes from a similar family background, believed in God, and had similar values.

Now of course, all of this I didn’t know the first time I saw him, but it’s like I knew it was all there. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that we started dating.

What was going on when I came to Christ.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but entering into the marriage I was already committing a very dangerous sin. I was idolizing my husband and also the institution of marriage.

How did this affect the marriage:
1. It put an unspoken pressure on him that he was perfect and could do no wrong.
2. My self-worth was deeply connected to how my spouse chose to love and treat me.
3. My value rested on whether or not I had a man who loved me.
4. Number #2 & #3 also put an unspoken pressure that he existed to meet all of my emotional needs.

Once I became a follower of Christ, the idolization of my spouse diminished, but not the institution of marriage. Christ alone wasn’t enough for me. I needed my marriage to be healed. I needed my dream to materialize. I needed to feel like enough which was through the status of being a cherished and loved wife.

I did learn how to lean on God and walk through the fire during the storms, but my method of choice in dealing with some major marriage issues made me an enabler and allowed toxic things to become deeply rooted in the foundation of our marriage.

I needed to be willing and ready to shut the door on the enemy instead of allowing him to linger. But I was afraid of losing IT: my spouse and marriage.

How is God working in my life today:

If I could go back just this past year, I would have suggested to myself to separate with a long-term mindset. Under the circumstances, I would need to start functioning independently of my spouse and focus solely on my relationship with God and let God take full control. This would be necessary and would have been better than divorce.

My six month separation followed by filing for divorce in hindsight wasn’t really long enough after eleven years to allow the Holy Spirit to workout and undo the damage done. Not because It couldn’t, but because as humans we are stubborn. Plus, it was a little late in the game for me to make such a strong stance of “enough is enough” and expect the mountain to start moving.

Ultimately, my situation today would not be too different except that maybe we would still have some communication.

It’s hard that I regret making that decision, when I was constantly seeking God, seeking out knowledge, and had pastoral guidance. I know that I had every right to move forward and was always out to only do God’s will. But, being emotionally detached from the relationship now, I have a clearer picture that long-term separation was an option instead of a divorce.

Filing left my spouse even more vulnerable to the devil’s schemes. Sure, he made his decisions and acted in his free-will, but there is a spiritual battle at play and at the root of the divorce.

Conclusion:

Today I still feel called to pray for my spouse and marriage reconciliation. This hasn’t always been easy. First, when I think about the entire situation, I don’t really want to. Second, I know what I’m dealing with and it is quite an impossible situation. It will literally take an act of God and a miracle to resurrect and restore the covenant legally. But if it does, it will be rebuilt on the foundation of God for His glory.

At this point I just have to trust and rest in God’s character determined to do His will.

1. God weighs all sin the same.
2. Therefore, one spouse’s sins are not greater or less than the others.
3. None of us are worthy of God’s love, because we all rejected the death of His son Jesus Christ in our habitual sinful nature before becoming saved.
4. Therefore, there is not another person more or less worthy of my love as a wife then the spouse I married on August 14, 2004.
5. We are called to become Christ like and His love is not withheld because of our sinful behavior. We choose not to accept His love when we continue to sin. Therefore, I will not withhold my love if an opportunity for restoration presents itself.
6. God is in the business of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation.
7. God loves my spouse more than I do and is pursuing him daily.
8. Sin causes a breakdown in a marriage. Who caused that? The devil.
How? Through temptation and deception
Why? To make a mockery of the marriage covenant and prevent us from becoming witnesses
9. God has already defeated the enemy and given me power over the enemy. I just need to activate it and engage in the battle no matter how long it takes.
10. Being single does not make me less valuable or desirable. It allows me to spend more time working for God’s kingdom.
11. A restored marriage makes a greater impact for the kingdom of God.
12. “It takes two to save a marriage: one spouse and God.” https://www.rejoiceministries.org/

Now, what IF I’m wrong and I am misunderstanding God. Well the following things are happening.

1. I’m seeking, searching, learning the power of prayer.
2. I’m learning to exercise my authority over the enemy.
3. I’m focusing on me and the areas that need to be refined and removed: pride, jealousy, competitiveness, lack of discipline in some areas, and food as a source of comfort.
4. I’m learning to find my value in Christ.
5. I’m challenged daily to view things from God’s truth and not what appears to be.
6. I’m learning to be complete outside of a relationship.
7. I’m developing into who God intended me to be. It’s like He is tearing everything down that was shaped by the world and starting to build me back up into what He desired all along.
8. I’m learning patience. Grrrrr 🙂
9. I get to share restoration resources I have found as an option to others who feel the same calling as I do.
10. God is and will always be my unfailing husband.

Am I really losing anything if I’m wrong? No, in fact I’m gaining so much. It’s a win-win situation for me no matter the outcome. My spouse, no matter what path he takes has someone praying for him with specificity that no other person can do because I know the battle he is under and how the enemy attacks him.

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

1 Corinthians 7:34-35
….An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Proverbs 21:21
Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

To God be the Glory

 

The Power of IT: Abortion

In my life there have been certain focuses and strongholds that have falsely formed my value and self-worth. Therefore, this series is a sort of testimony on each area before and after coming to Christ.

Before Christ:

I remember a distinct memory from Girl Scouts. We were making a clear ball ornament and decorating it with puff paint. I chose to create three babies holding hands. There was a peach, light yellow, and a baby blue one. I wrote across the bottom, “Save the Babies.” I have faint memories of abortion and women’s rights protests on TV which must have been the motivation of me choosing a side. Sometime between the age of 11-13, it just didn’t seem logical to kill a baby inside a woman’s body. Fast forward to my first couple of years in college; I felt the same way.

However, one day I realized I was “late.” After softball practice, I sat in the dorm community restroom taking a pregnancy test while a teammate waited by the sink to hear the results.

Very quickly two pink lines appeared indicating I was pregnant. Panicked, I told her, “I’m pregnant and I can’t have this baby.” Like that, my position changed because it was happening to me.

Many things raced through my mind at once:

1. Why is this happening to me? I’m a “good” girl. (To my false standards)
2. I’m going to lose my softball scholarship.
3. I don’t want to go back home and live in Houston.
4. I don’t want to become a teacher. (I don’t know why this popped in my head because I was an international business major.)
5. I don’t want to be single forever. Who is going to want to marry me if I have a child already? I want to be married. (Keep in mind I was 20, and having a child outside of marriage was uncommon to me.)

I called my boyfriend immediately and told him that I was pregnant, but was having an abortion. I never asked what he thought or for his opinion. It was a done deal. When I told my coach, she said that she knew this was going to happen. However, I was the last person she thought it would happen to.

The day of the abortion I was wearing black jeans and a gray shirt. My boyfriend drove me in my Ford Ranger to Corpus Christi which was 45 minutes away. I cried the entire way up there. I sat there hoping he would ask me to marry him so it would be “ok” in my mind to have the baby. As we sat in the lobby, I cried uncontrollably. Selfishly, adoption wasn’t an option because I knew if I had the baby I wouldn’t let it go. A lady from the abortion clinic told me that if I didn’t stop crying then the doctor wouldn’t perform the abortion. At some point, I gathered myself together and had it. At that time, they didn’t do an ultrasound, so I just convinced myself at six weeks of pregnancy that it was just a blob.

Following the abortion, I just picked up and moved on with life not giving it too much thought unless I was getting into a serious relationship. That information was always difficult to break and always received with some hesitation and disappointment.

What was going on in my life when I came to Christ:

Again, I was married during this time, but not in a hurry to have kids. I wanted everything to be perfect in my career, our finances, and our quality time. As I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord in Savior, I began to read the Bible and that’s when I was convicted again of what I had done.

I remember reading Jeremiah 29:11 and realizing that everything would have been ok had I had the baby. I also realized had I read the Bible, then I wouldn’t have made that mistake. Fear wouldn’t have dictated my decision. Instead, God’s truth would have and I could have rested and held onto that comfort.

I didn’t know it at the time, but later I struggled with infertility. Many times I would hear testimonies from women who also had abortions and their emotional struggles and scars. However, their testimony always ended with, “But God blessed me with kids.” My story wasn’t having that result and I started to wonder if God loved me less.

My Life Now as a Follower of Christ:

Although I am forgiven, I still struggle with that decision. However, there were three things I was trying to avoid that happened anyway.

1. Living in Houston.
2. Being single
3. Being a teacher
(I happen to actually really love teaching.)

Going through a divorce, one thing that also sticks out is that I would have never met my spouse had I not gotten an abortion. That decision ended up being course altering.

Conclusion:

The truth is, an abortion was a way for me to control my consequences not my body. I exercised my bodily rights/freedoms when I engaged in intercourse. It was a false sense of control much like the deception Eve fell for.

Psalm 139:13 NIV
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:15 NLT
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

To God be the Glory

 

 

The Power of IT: SEX

In my life there have been certain focuses and strongholds that have falsely formed my value and self-worth. Therefore, this series is a sort of testimony on each area before and after coming to Christ.

Before Christ:

I think of all of the human components that have been a part of my life, this has been the most detrimental, although I didn’t realize it until after coming to Christ and going through a divorce.

I remember at a very young age being exposed to pornography or pornographic images (unintentionally I believe and not by my parents).

I remember pulling up my socks high in the back of the daycare bus at the age of 5 because I wanted to be sexy like the girl in the Legs video by ZZ Top. I remember after seeing a Playboy at a slumber party at the age of 6 wanting to be that girl when I grew up and being upset when the city of Corpus Christi wanted to take down the huge bigger than life stripper cutout that towered above the strip club by the freeway. There are several other memories, but what is sad is that these are just some of earliest ones. I hadn’t even made it out of first grade.

Luckily, I had lovingly strict parents, so although this seed was planted at a young age it really couldn’t blossom into action beyond the occasional late night sneaking around trying to catch a glimpse of something on TV with my hand strategically on the remote (or knob) in case my parents woke up and some other boundaries I should not have crossed.

When I got into college, I was really naive and planning on waiting until marriage. Unfortunately, I put myself in a situation and around the wrong type of person and lost IT. I remember crying afterwards and feeling so devalued and ruined and the guy had the nerve to ask me, “Why are you crying?”

I turned on God that day.

From that point on, it was ok as long as I was in a long term relationship. As a marketing major my motto was, “sex sells.” As the president of my college’s American Marketing Association chapter, I hosted a best chest (shirts on for females) contest as a fundraiser. My dancing at clubs definitely didn’t Glorify God and I would say I finally relinquished that playlist from the not so glory days about 3-4 years ago.

What was going on in my life when I received Jesus Christ:

When I received Christ I was married, but carrying this warped image of sex to the point that a lot of my value was tied into it. I would fall for the lies/tricks that the magazines such as Cosmopolitan promoted to supposedly make me irresistible and make the marriage fool proof. Satan knew this, and knew exactly how to destroy the marriage and my self-worth. But, around the third year of marriage I found Christ. My relationship with Him, put me on a trajectory that continues today in discovering that there is only one foundation that sustains a marriage and my value cannot be based off of being enough or not enough for my spouse.

My life now as a follower of Christ:

After being divorced this year and single, I knew that SEX was going to be one of the litmus tests that would show if I’m really a follower of Christ. At first, realizing this after filing for divorce was a double gulp.

But, being in a relationship with Jesus Christ and being able to see in hindsight the damage premarital sex had on me before and after marriage, I saw the truth about SEX and any form of the “everything but sex” category.

1. Anything outside of marriage or the marriage covenant is a cheapened form of the beauty it is intended to be.

2. Sex before marriage or outside the marriage covenant focuses on the flesh: pleasure, performance, ego, control, and lust. In its proper Godly relationship, it is about communion, oneness, unity, and peace. These things bring a deeper pleasure beyond the flesh, because it was not driven by romance as an exchange of “being in love.”

3. Sex before marriage cheapened me and lowered my self esteem when the relationship ended. Was I not good enough to keep him?

4. Those experiences prior to marriage mentally filter their way in, do not prepare you for marriage, or make you better in the bedroom for your spouse. In fact you compare even when you don’t want to. It’s a sort of rolodex of memories that interferes. This includes pornography.

Conclusion:
I’m a sinner saved by grace, but still have to rely on God to keep me protected and pure in this area. Although I have never been addicted to pornography, I know it’s the area that can take me down if I even start to entertain it. I have to guard my eyes from things on the internet and TV. I’ve actually become quite sensitive to things because I’ve gone without TV for over a year. I have had to repent when my finger scrolled back up or slowed down to get a longer glimpse of something that I saw on Facebook that I shouldn’t have. I have also had to unfollow some people due to the images or videos they post that I know can be a stumbling block to me.

Why?

Because it does not glorify God in THAT context and in the end is short term, a quick fix, and an empty void in the long term.

It also devalues me and devalues women. It also communicates to men that our purpose is to be looked at, lusted after, and purely for pleasure first.

God created women (and men) in his image. So to be viewed through the lens of lust is a defilement. Instead we should be viewed through the lens of dignity which respects, lifts up, and protects.

Galatians 5:19-21

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

To God Be the Glory

 

Just Me

In early June of 2016, I had filed for divorce. It was my worst nightmare and a decision I had put off for many years in hopes that God was going to do a needed miracle in order for me to remain. Unfortunately, I had to let go of my dreams and my husband who I dearly loved.

I cannot begin to explain the loneliness I felt during the separation, the frustration of the “mountain” not moving, and the desperation for God to fix it. Emotionally and mentally, the entire scenario and the process afterwards proved to be a hurt that challenged my worth and value as a woman and as a Christian. Many situations would bring me to tears and a breakdown. Sometimes alone in my apartment and sometimes in the arms of my mom, but always in the presence of God.

Today, I am so thankful that God is my anchor. He has healed me mentally and emotionally in so many ways that I find it quite unbelievable. There is no bitterness or hate. By all worldly standards, there should be. I should hate all men. I should hate marriage and I’m sure the enemy would have loved it if I turned on God.

But no! God during this process has revealed himself so brilliantly. His covenant with me remains. He has blessed me abundantly and has proved His Word to be true. He has truly positioned me to be exactly where I am today and is bringing me into deeper relation with Him.

How?

1. He has shown me to have Agape love towards someone who has hurt me.
2. He has shown me how to be a concrete image of Jesus Christ’s love no matter what sin has been done against me because it has first been done against Him.
3. He is redirecting me to find my value in Him and not man.
4. He is challenging me to believe that His promises are for me too.
5. He is asking me to trust him and have faith.
6. He is calling me to intercessory prayer and stand in the gap, so that I can believe that prayer works.
7. He is asking me to believe in the impossible miracle that will show His Glory even if it’s just me believing in it.

8.  He is showing me what it means to take up my cross if I am going to follow Him.

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

To God Be the Glory

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