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Bible Study

We can come to our father and say I don't have it all together Lord but I know that you can help me. You can still heal me. You can still use me. You can add to what little I have.

The father instantly cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief" (Mark 9:24, NLT). 

In this passage a father comes to the disciples of Jesus asking for healing for his demon-possessed son. The disciples could not heal the boy. Why? They had done it before in 6:13. They cast out demons on their mission trip to the villages.  

Maybe the authority was just for that trip. Maybe their faith was faltering.  

Mark's story shows us that the battle with the enemy of our souls is an ongoing struggle. Our power can become depleted when we do not allow the Lord to fill us back up again.  

After the disciples efforts to heal the demon-possessed child failed the man took the boy to Jesus. The New Living Translation records the father saying to Jesus, "have mercy on us and help us if you can" (vs 22b). I love the way Jesus asks, "What do you mean if I can? Anything is possible if a person believes." 

The fathers reply has baffled me for many years. He cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief." 

How is it that the child's father believed but needed help with unbelief? 

The father had been previously disappointed by the disciples attempt to heal his son so much that he even questioned if the Lord could do it.  

Haven't you been there? I have. The circumstances that have surrounded situations that I have found myself in have snatched much of my faith and hope. I have struggled with my faith because of the size of the battle or how close I was to it like if it involved one of my babies.  

I've been left sometimes with barely a mustard seed worth of faith. Just enough maybe to believe one more time.  

But this father gives us the right idea. He confessed to God that he was having trouble believing the way he should. Then he asked the Lord to help him with that unbelief.  

That is so beautiful and powerful.  

I believe the Lord was touched by the father's honesty and vulnerability.  

We can do this same thing you know. We can come to our father and say I don't have it all together Lord but I know that you can help me. You can still heal me. You can still use me. You can add to what little I have.  

Jesus is the ultimate helper and He can help you if you struggle with unbelief.  

Prayer 

Father, we struggle sometimes with our faith. Sometimes we have just been through so much that it can be hard to believe one more time. But now through your Word we know that You are not mad at us if when our faith is weak but more than anything you want us to come to you. Give us the mind and heart to come to you honest and vulnerably asking, "help my unbelief".  

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Bible Study

Last week in our featured book, Live Your Calling, the authors Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck defined Personal Mission Statements. Your personal mission statements, priority goals and action plans build a bridge between the vision of your calling in the future and your reality today.

Last week in our featured book, Live Your Calling, the authors Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck defined Personal Mission Statements.  

Personal Mission Statements 

Mission statements include word pictures,or descriptions of your God-sized visions in your life.  

Mission statements help you get what you really want in life. They are designed to help you think through what you are aiming for in each of your callings.  

Mission statements help you focus your energy.  

Priority Goals  

Identifying your priority goals is the next key step for incorporating your mission  statements into your day-to-day life.  

A goal is a clear, specific objective. Goals personalize and particularize your mission statements. Setting goals is the catalyst for bringing your God-inspired visions to life.  

Action Plans 

Your action plan is a tool for translating your mission statement into priority goals and action steps. 

 

Action Strategies for Living Your Calling 

         1.Develop Personal Mission Statements 

  -Mission Statement for your primary calling. 

  -Mission Statement for your secondary calling.  

         2.Set priority goals. 

         3.Create your action plan. 

 

Your personal mission statements, priority goals and action plans build a bridge between the vision of your calling in the future and your reality today.

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General

Hard days, we all have them. Because every one of us is different we all need different things that help us get through tough days.
Some people need quiet time while others may need to feed off the energy of a crowd. Some of us may rely on food or shopping to try and preoccupy us from whatever has happened.
Ultimately, most of us hope that at some point we will talk to someone that cares enough about us to encourage or comfort us through their words.


 Coffee for Your Heart 150

Happily linking up today with  http://holleygerth.com/coffee-for-your-heart-love/} for Coffee For Your Heart.

 

What My Heart Needs to Hear on the Hard Days

By: Ann

Hard days, we all have them. Because every one of us is different we all need different things that help us get through tough days.

Some people need quiet time while others may need to feed off the energy of a crowd. Some of us may rely on food or shopping to try and preoccupy us from whatever has happened.

Ultimately, most of us hope that at some point we will talk to someone that cares enough about us to encourage or comfort us through their words.

As an encourager it brings me great joy to make people smile or feel better if they are feeling down. Ironically, I found that when I had hard days myself instead of being understanding or encouraging I use to belittle myself in my own mind. Furthermore, I had trouble believing and receiving compliments or uplifting words from other people.

What was this? I could believe great things about other people but not believe great things about myself? How could this be?

I poured my heart out to the Lord about this issue and He revealed to me that I somehow thought that as an encourager I should be able to handle hard days better than others which unknowingly unsurfaced the sin of pride and a weak self-worth.

So now on the hard days I need to hear that …….

I don't have to compare myself by what I think I should be, by what I think I should feel or how I compare to other people.

2 Corinthians 10:12, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise". (NIV)

I need to hear that…

I am not a mistake. God made me and loves me just the way I am.

Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful and I know that full well." (NIV)

I need to hear that…

Regardless of how I may feel that I have messed up or failed badly, and maybe sometimes I have, God's love for me is still and will always be unfailing.

Proverbs 19:22a, "What a person desires is unfailing love." (NIV)

What about you? What do you need to hear most on the hard days? Remember, God is waiting to uplift your heart. Nobody knows what you need better than him. Not even you.

Prayer

Father, thank you for your comfort and love on hard days. Thank you that we do not have to be overtaken by difficult circumstances or difficult days because we have you. You are our ultimate comforter in any and all situations.  We love you always. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Related Resources

Happily linking up today with  http://holleygerth.com/coffee-for-your-heart-love/} for Coffee For Your Heart.

****PLEASE LOOK IN OUR BOOKSTORE TO PICK UP A COPY OF THE NEW BOOK BY HOLLEY GERTH, "YOU'RE GOING TO BE OKAY"



Getting it in Your Spirit

Look for scriptures that encourage your heart and write them in your journal or on an index card. Keep this with you where you can easily access them on rough days.

What do you desire to hear on hard days? Share your comments here on post them on Facebook.

 

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Bible Study

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

"David replied to Abigail, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands" (1 Samuel 25:32, 33, NLT).

If someone that were close to you were interviewed how would they say you handle heated or rough situations? Are you wise and level headed or are you the one that get things started?

Adverse situations can often tell a lot about where we are in our Christian walk. We all fall short sometimes according to the situation. But what does our Christian behavior say about us to the world the majority of the time?

Are we different? Do we inspire people to want to know more about Christ so they can learn how to handle life better? Let's look at Abigail.

David and his army of two hundred men marched toward Abigail. They were probably filthy and hungry from being in the desert. They were probably also pretty angry.  Abigail was very courageous to come out to meet them and beg David for forgiveness. Nabal, her husband, was the cause of a terrifying threat of revenge against her entire household.

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

Some men don't deserve their wives. Abigail was probably the best woman Nabal could afford and he got more than he bargained for when he arranged to marry her. She was beautiful and more suited than he was to manage his wealth. But Nabal took his wife for granted.

In spite of his shortcomings, Nabal's household did what they could to keep him out of trouble. This loyalty must have been inspired by Abigail. Although her culture and her husband placed a low value on her, she made the most of her skills and opportunities. David was impressed with her abilities, and when Nabal died, he married her.

Abigail was an effective counselor to both of the men in her life, working hard to prevent them from making rash moves. By her swift action and skillful negotiation, she kept David from taking revenge upon Nabal. She saw the big picture and left plenty of room for God to get involved.

Whether in favorable circumstances or in harsh ones, the challenge is the same: to use our wisdom and abilities in the service of the will of God.

Do you, like Abigail, look beyond the present crisis to the big picture? Do you use your skills to promote peace? Are you loyal without being blind? What challenge or responsibility do you face today that needs a person under God's control?

Abigail's strengths and accomplishments

  • Sensible and capable

  • A persuasive speaker, able to see beyond herself

Lessons from her life

  • Life's tough situations can bring out the best in people

  • One does not need a prestigious title to play a significant role


 

(Partially adapted from Women of Faith Study Bible, NIV and Life Application Study Bible, NLT)

Prayer

Father please help us to be the kind of people that use our gifts and influence for good. No matter what situations we face in life help us to bring out the best in people and direct people to You by our behavior and the way we live our lives.

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General

In order to release the hold that fear has on us we have to saturate ourselves in God's love. Here are scriptures for you to meditate on when fear tries to overtake you. I have also included books on fear. I pray that these resources will help you to conquer fear in any and all areas of your life. I also pray that you will be filled with Godly courage to fulfill your dreams.

By: Ann 

In order to release the hold that fear has on us we have to saturate ourselves in God's love.  Here are scriptures for you to meditate on when fear tries to overtake you. I have also included books on fear. I pray that these resources will help you to conquer fear in any and all areas of your life. I also pray that you will be filled with Godly courage to fulfill your dreams.  

The Lord is the remedy for a fearful heart.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all of my fears (Psalm 34:4).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5:7).

Focus on what is real and true, not the fear.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things ( Philippians 4:8).

The Lord is with us in every situation we face.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

If there is a problem with fear, there is a love problem as well.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (I John 4:18).

For when there is a fear of the future.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

When you fear the past.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:18-19).

When you fear that there will be no protection.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart (Psalm 91:4).

 

References

Patricia Miller (2002), Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI

(Scripture taken from the New International Version, 1984)

 

 

 

 

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Bible Study

This past week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do?

Last week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do. The answer is sometimes He will not be specific.  

The authors, Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck explained that the Bible does not always give us definitive instructions about our secondary calling to work. It does not give us specific answers about which career path we should choose or volunteer opportunities we should undertake.  

Instead, the Bible gives us principles for making decisions within God's will.  

This was a great conformation to me because I was one of those Christians that thought I should be hearing from God or seeing some sign that told me specifically what I should do. I was always running into fellow Christians that seemed to be constantly hearing from God in an audible voice. It's not that I do not believe that God speaks to people; I just believe that God guides and does not speak audibly on every matter.  

The Brennflecks further stated that in the absence of direct supernatural guidance, we need to assume that God wants us to decide prayerfully and thoughtfully which work or volunteer alternative is the best choice. According to Bruce Walke, It is possible to pray, read God's Word, seek counsel, and still not feel led by God. That's the time to rely on sound judgment.  

What will make your judgment sound? Reading the word of God.  

Toolbox of Strategies for Making Life Calling Decisions 

  1. Comparing options with your design-This strategy allows you to compare each of your career or volunteer ministry/service possibilities with your core work values, transferable skills and compelling interests (See Options Comparison 8.1 Grid in your book) 

 

  1. Assessing pros and cons: Writing down pros and cons for a particular decision enables us to identify what our most important criteria really are so that we can rationally evaluate them (See the pros and cons grid Table 8.3) 

 

  1. Evaluating Career Options in light of Biblical principles-the third strategy give you the opportunity to apply the life calling compass principles (keeping your primary calling primary, using your gifts to meet needs in the world, and being a proactive steward of your gifts) to career and volunteer options you are considering (See Evaluating options in light of Biblical principles, Table 8.5). 

 

  1. Defending your decision- in this exercise, you will develop a defense for each of your career or volunteer options. In this mental role play you create a defense for each, seeking to persuade someone who is not convinced it is a wise choice. This strategy helps you in critically examining your possible alternatives.  

 

As we use sound decision-making strategies and seek God's guidance through His Word, prayer, the Holy Spirit, and wise counsel, we position ourselves to partner effectively with Him in discerning and living our callings.

So what do you think? Is it okay to use Biblical principles to make decisions or should we wait to hear from God specifically?

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Music

I listened to SADA K.'S NEW ALBUM "LONG STORY SHORT" this past week. Her voice is beautiful and the songs promote an uplifting message rooted in perseverance through Christ.

 

I listened to SADA K.'S NEW ALBUM "LONG STORY SHORT" this past week.  Her voice is beautiful and the songs promote an uplifting message rooted in perseverance through Christ.

Sada K. was the female lead vocalist with the band Press Play and she recorded 2 albums with them under Dream Records/Universal Music Group.

She is creating a sound all her own by writing songs that spread the message of the love of God, her faith in His majestic power, and the beauty and strength that awaits all of us within the lessons of life.

It is Sada K.'s heart's desire to create music that guides people to hope and provokes her listeners to be encouraged & persevere, no matter what they face in life (www.sadakmusic.com)

I have already picked out a few of my favorite songs to share with you.

My favorites are:

Live Love Laugh

All About Love

Stand Up

Check out the video for "Stand Up" and let me know what you think.    

More information about Sada K. and the album can be found on her official website, www.sadakmusic.com

Sada K.'s New Album is now available on iTunes, Amazon , Google Play and all other major digital distribution outlets.

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General

Thereafter, Hagar referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as "the God who sees me," for she said, "I have seen the One who sees me!" Genesis 16:13 (NLT)
This Bible story starts off like an episode straight out of Young and the Restless. Sarai was not able to give her husband Abram any children. So she decides to give him her servant, Hagar, to have sexual relations with so that they could have a child through her.

By: Ann 

Thereafter, Hagar referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as "the God who sees me," for she said, "I have seen the One who sees me!" Genesis 16:13 (NLT)

This Bible story starts off like an episode straight out of Young and the Restless. Sarai was not able to give her husband Abram any children. So she decides to give him her servant, Hagar, to have sexual relations with so that they could have a child through her.  

I was almost angry with Sarai when I first read this because I thought, Wow you are giving your husband permission to make love to someone else.  Now that's desperation.This is not going to end well.

But after further research I found that this was a custom back then for women that were unable to have children. I am no prophet but I still could predict this blowing up in Sarai's face because Sarai and Abram were already promised a child by God.

After Abram slept with Hagar she got pregnant and the Bible says that she began to have contempt for her mistress Sarai. Sarai immediately blamed Abram. How many times do we blame others instead of noticing that sometimes it is us?

She went to Abram about Hagar's behavior and he basically said it was her idea and Hagar was her servant so she should handle it. Sarai began being so mean to Hagar that eventually she ran away still pregnant with Abram's child.

I love the way God handles the whole situation. He goes to Hagar in the wilderness and asks her where she is coming from and where she is going. He lets her open up and tell Him all that had happened even though he already knew. I imagine her telling Him how unfair this was. She never asked for this. She was caught in the middle of a desperate situation between a wife and her husband without much of a say in the matter.

The Lord listened but then he asked Hagar to return to her mistress. In spite of how things started the Lord promised He was going to give Hagar a son, Ishmael, which means "God hears," and she would have more descendants that she could count.

Hagar was so amazed at God that she used another name to refer to the Lord. The Bible says she referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as "the God who sees me," for she said, "I have seen the One who sees me!

As I read this I realize that sometimes I blame others instead of looking at myself. Sometimes I won't wait on God and I act in desperation by trying to manipulate a plan for myself. Sometimes I get caught up in everyone else's expectations or sometimes I am caught up in my own. Sometimes I feel like nobody knows or seems to care how I feel, what I need or what's really going on with me. Sometimes it is not their fault because I often wear a mask to make it look like to the world that I am so strong and confident. Because now and days it's almost seen negatively if you are "emotional" even as a women.  

But as I look at how God handled this situation I know that I can go to Him when I am feeling vulnerable or when the world's expectations overwhelm me.  I don't have to feel desperate or try to manipulate things in my own favor. God sees me. He sees you. But the question is do we see Him as Hagar did?

God cares and he is listening. Not only that but He is the only one that can make a negative situation work out for our good regardless of our own mistakes or some else's mistakes. Sarai took matters into her own hands because she was having trouble waiting on God. Abram went along with Sarai's plan and he didn't help when things got out of hand and Hagar ran away.

This was a messy situation but God still showed them all great love by giving them everything that he had promised. Sarai and Abraham still received the son they wanted and Hagar's problem was solved as well.

Let's start being more deliberate in learning to trust God and try not to take matters into our own hands when He promises us something. God has allowed situations to come where I had no other choice but to trust Him because no one else could help me. All I had was Him and He delivered me or He gave me miraculous peace until the storm was over. One way or the other things always work out for my good. Now I choose to trust Him on my own more often. I am not always acting in desperation.  Let's carry ourselves like we have someone that sees us, knows us and loves us anyway.

Prayer

Thank you Father that you are a God who sees us. Thank you that you truly know us and you love us anyway. Thank you that you are there for us in a way that no one else can be. Help us to trust you more. Help us to hide your Word in our hearts for when we are tempted to act in desperation and take matters into our own hands. We love you Father. In Jesus Name, Amen

Reflection

Do you have trouble trusting the Lord?  Do you sometimes feel that no one sees all that you are going through? Are you sometimes tempted to act in desperation by taking matters into your own hands instead of waiting on God? Write in a journal a time when you acted against the will of God and how it turned out. Also write about a time when you waited and trusted God. In either situation record how things worked out for your good. How do you keep yourself from acting in desperation when difficult situation arise. Follow the conversation on Facebook.

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

3 "God blesses those who realize their need for him, a for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.  

4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.

6 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.

7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. "

11 "God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.

12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too."

                                                                                                  Matthew 5: 3-12, NLT

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society's typical way of life.  In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each of these if found in Jesus Christ Himself.

Being "blessed" by God means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

If our goal is to become like Him, applying the Beatitudes will challenge the way we live each day.

                    (Adapted from Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation, 1996)

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality.

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred to in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality. 

Chapter 4 

A vision of what God is calling you to do may start as an interest, a tiny idea or a fleeting thought. It can be inspired by the following catalyst: 

  1. Need-driven, an individual sees a need that he or she wants to help meet.  

  1. Design driven, a person begins picturing possibilities or looking for opportunities to use particular puzzle pieces of his or her design.

  1. Experience driven- a person has had a particular life experience and wants to help others who are going through the same thing.  

Chapter 5 

Strategies for stretching your vision: 

  1. Envisioning your God-Empowerment life-How can you use your God-given gifts to meet needs in the word? 

 

  1. Envision possibilities through brainstorming-Brainstorm about work and volunteer ministry/service options. 

 

  1. Look for volunteer opportunities in your church and community. 

 

  1. Use career resources to envision career possibilities (for example use The Occupational Information Network database, (O*Net) 

Chapter 6 

Strategies for Reality Testing your Options: 

  1. Use career-specific resources to gather information-local libraries and bookstores can help you with information about different career fields. Also career books and resources for people that want to become entrepreneurs like www.Entrepreneur.com or www.sba.gov. 

 

  1. Use professional organizations to gather information. 

 

  1. Interviewing and shadowing-talk to people who are doing the kind of work that you want to do. Shadowing-spend time in a  particular work environment watching one or more people do the job that you are considering.  

 

  1. Volunteer-try out a number of volunteer activities at a church or other non-profit organization to explore your gifts and interests, develop new skills and meet new people.

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