Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 3, Day 2

Welcome back! In our last study, we read 2 Kings 6:8-23.  This is not necessarily the easiest passage to read and understand,but I'm glad you are sticking with me.  Today we are going to INTERPRET the meaning of the text.

Read through 2 Kings 6:8-23 slowly, absorbing what the words say.

Read through it again, and answer the following questions:
  1. In verse 11, what was the King of Aram enraged about?  What did the King think had happened?
  2. In verse 14, what did the King of Aram decide to do about the prophet Elisha?
  3. In verse 15, how did Elisha's servant react to the army?  How do you think you would have reacted in the same situation?
  4. Verse 16 is a key verse to this passage.  What do you think Elisha was saying here?
  5. What did Elisha pray for in verse 17? In verse 18?
  6. What is the last sentence of verse 23?
Our next study will be the APPLICATION - my favorite part of studying the Scriptures.  I hope you will come back and study with us!

To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 3: Day 1

Monday, January 30, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 3, Day 1

Welcome back to our study of Encouragement.  We are beginning Week 3.

This week we are going to be talking about 2 Kings 6:8-23.  Right now, take the time to read through the text one time and OBSERVE what it says.  Don't worry about trying to understand it, yet.  Just OBSERVE it.
Now the king of Aram was warring against Israel; and he counseled with his servants saying, “In such and such a place shall be my camp.” 
The man of God sent word to the king of Israel saying, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Arameans are coming down there.” 
10 The king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God had told him; thus he warned him, so that he guarded himself there, more than once or twice.
11 Now the heart of the king of Aram was enraged over this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you tell me which of us is for the king of Israel?” 
12 One of his servants said, “No, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 
13 So he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and take him.” And it was told him, saying, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 
14 He sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.
15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 
16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 
17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 
18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Strike this people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. 
19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria.
20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 
21 Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” 
22 He answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” 
23 So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

Now, read the text again, and mark it using the following marks:
  • Mark the key players: color the King of Aram (and all pronouns) orange; draw a blue Star of David around the King of Israel (and all pronouns); mark Elisha, man of God, prophet (and all pronouns) with a green megaphone.
  • Mark all references to God with a purple triangle colored yellow (color all pronouns yellow)

Now that you have marked the text, read it again (I know, three times...trust me, it's worth it!) Take the time to read through the text and note who the people are.

2 Kings 6:16 is a key verse to this passage of Scripture.  Copy this verse into your notebook.

In our next study, we will begin to INTERPRET what this passage of Scripture means.  Remember, sisters, we are studying about encouragement.  Verse 16 is a great reminder of who our God is!

To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 2, Day 3

Welcome back to our third day of studying through Joshua 1:1-9.  This is the day that we APPLY what we have studied to our lives.  This is the day that we take everything that we have observed and interpreted in the text, and make it real and relevant to us.  I'm so thankful that you have come back today, on this most important day of study.

Take the time, one more time, to read through the text of this week (Joshua 1:1-9).

At this point in Scripture, Joshua is getting ready to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan.  This is a mighty task for Joshua, one that surely would bring about fear and trepidation, if Joshua did not have the Lord directing his every step.

Look at verses 2, 3, and 5.  Earlier this week we wrote down what God said about Himself.  Review this.
  1. I am giving.
  2. I have given.
  3. I spoke to Moses.
  4. I have been with Moses.
  5. I will be with you.
  6. I will not fail you.
  7. I will not forsake you.
If Joshua had any worry in his heart about his upcoming adventure, this should have surely taken it all away.  Joshua could look back at the times when Moses was in charge, and see how God fulfilled His promises to Moses.  God is using Moses as an example to Joshua to show how faithful He really is.  We also have Moses' example to look at (Joshua's, too...) to see God's faithfulness to His people.  God told Joshua that He was with him, He would not fail him, and He would not forsake him.  We can take these promises to the bank!  God is always with us, He will not fail us, and He will not forsake us!

God is comforting Joshua by telling him how wonderful and powerful He is.  Be strong and courageous.  Don't worry about anything.  I've got this!

Look closely at verses 7 and 8.  Joshua is given another command - to follow the law and do what it says.  Joshua is told to follow the law so that he will have success wherever he goes.  Joshua is told to meditate on the law day and night.  Why? So that he is careful to do according to all that is written in it.  If Joshua takes care to do this, he is told that he will be prosperous and successful.  This is not talking about being prosperous in a monetary way.  This is talking about being prosperous in a successful way.

There is so much to take in from these two verses alone.  I am passionate about studying my Bible.  I am convinced that God gave us 66 books that He expects us to know, understand, and do.  That is part of the reason why I am so excited about this online study.  I think that Bible study is so important to a Christian's daily walk, and I am so happy to lead you ladies through this study.  The command that Joshua is given is applicable to our lives today.  We need to "be careful to do according to all the law".  How can we be careful to do what the Bible says, if we don't take time to study the Bible?  We need to be careful to, "not turn from it to the right or to the left." We are commanded to follow the Bible exactly as the Bible says.  We have to know what is in the Scriptures, so we can know how to follow the Scriptures.  So how are we to accomplish this?  Verse 8 lays is out clearly for us: "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall mediate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it."  We are to be thinking about Scriptures day and night.  In our first day this week, I suggested that you mark time phrases with a green clock.  Day and night are time phrases.  They tell us exactly when we are supposed to think about the Scriptures - all the time!!

I talk to people who say that studying the Bible is an overwhelming task.  I agree that studying the Bible can be tough at times.  It takes dedication, and it takes time.  You and I have to make that time each and every day to study the Word of God.  Why? Because we are commanded to do so.

And just as Joshua was told that he would be successful, we will be, too.  This doesn't mean that we will have everything that we want, that we will have all the money in the world, that we will always have the perfect job, etc.  It means that if we remain faithful to God and His Word, then He will remain faithful to us.  We will be successful in all of the things that God has in store for us in our lives.

Be strong and courageous!
Do not fear or be dismayed!
The Lord is with us!
The Lord will not leave us!
The Lord will not forsake us!
Meditate on the Scripture!

Studying the Bible is the way to stay in His Word. Getting into the Scriptures, reading them, pondering them - the more more you are in His Word, the more important His Word will become to you.  You will see the world from God's perspective.  You will begin to appreciate the things of God more and more.

I am so glad you are on this journey of encouragement with me.  Be strong and courageous, my sister.  The Lord you God is with you wherever you go!

To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 2, Day 2

Welcome back for another day of studying Joshua 1:1-9.  Before we start INTERPRETING the text, read through it slowly.  Take time to absorb with the text says.

Read through the text a second time and answer the following questions in your notebook:
  1. In verses 1-5, who is talking?
  2. Who is He talking to?
  3. What event is about to happen?
  4. What does God say about Himself in verses 2, 3, and 5? (seven things)
  5. What does God command Joshua in verses 6 and 9?
  6. What command does God give to Joshua in verses 7 and 8?
  7. In verse 7, the words "so that" answer the question Why.  Why is Joshua to follow the law carefully?
  8. In verse 8, what is Joshua to do with the law?  Why?
  9. In verse 9, why can Joshua not tremble or be dismayed?
Doesn't this make you want to jump through the roof with excitement?  Look at how God is leading Joshua on his journey into the Promised Land.  God is in control, and He is going to lead Joshua into success, if Joshua continues to remain faithful to God.

In our next study together, we will look at how we can APPLY this passage of Scripture to our lives.  See you then!
To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1

Monday, January 23, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 2, Day 1

Welcome back for our second week of studying about encouragement.  Today's reading is going to piggy-back off of what we read last week.  If you'll remember, we read about Moses and Joshua, and the command of Israel being passed from one to the other.  Joshua was told to, "be strong and courageous".

Today we are going to read through Joshua 1:1-9.  The first step in studying the Bible inductively is to OBSERVE the text, and that is what we are going to do today.  Read through this passage of Scripture slowly.
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, 
“Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. 
Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 
From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. 
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 
Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 
Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

Read through the text again, and use the following markings:
  • Mark all time phrases with a green clock
  • Mark "for" and "so that" with a red circle (these words answer the question "Why?")
  • Mark Lord and God with a purple triangle colored yellow, and color all pronouns of God yellow
  • Mark "law" with a black book/tablet drawing

Re-read the text slowly, taking time to absorb what it says.  Write a thought in your notebook from today's time with the Lord.
You are done for today.  Aren't you already encouraged?  I sure am!

Our next post will be on INTERPRETING what we observed today.
To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 1, Day 3

Congratulations, ladies!  You have made it to the third day of our study.  Your faithfulness to God and His Word is amazing!  I hope today's study will be beneficial to you. Today is our APPLICATION day.  This is when we can really grow in God, as we apply His Words to our lives.

Once again, read through Deuteronomy 31:7-8 & 23.

Review the commands that Moses gave to Joshua in verses 7-8.
  1. Be strong and courageous
  2. Do not fear or be dismayed
Joshua was getting ready to become the leader of a nation (think President of the United States, think boss of a major company, think leader of [fill in the blank]). I'm sure that Joshua was trembling inside because of the major responsibility that he was going to have.  Have you been in a leadership role where there was some fear and trepidation because all of the decisions were placed on you? That was Joshua.  Yet, in spite of this new role - which wasn't just the leader of a nation; it was also lead the people into the Promised Land that was already conquered by other people groups, and conquer it - Moses was telling Joshua to stay strong and don't be afraid.

Moses didn't just leave Joshua hanging.  He gave Joshua four good reasons why he could be strong.  Review the four things that you learned about God in our previous lesson.  Because of these things, Joshua had nothing to dread. Think about your current situation.  Are you in fear of something? Are you in a leadership role and have second guesses about it?  Just as the Lord was with Joshua, He is with you!

Look at those four things again:
  1. He goes ahead of you.  The Lord knows what you are going to get into before you do because He is there before you are there.  He is Sovereign and already has your future planned out.
  2. He will be with you.  Not only does He go in front of you and see what is going to happen to you, He is going to be right with you throughout every aspect of your life.  You have no reason to fear or panic about what is happening because God is right there with you.
  3. He will not fail you.  There is no one on this earth that you can say this about.  People are human; we all have faults.  God is perfect; there is no fault in Him. He will not fail you, no matter what.
  4. He will not forsake you. God will not give up on you.  He is right with you all the time, step by step, every day of your life. No matter what, God is there for you.
Look at verse 23 again.  Not only did Moses give this word of encouragement to Joshua, but God gave the same word to him!  Moses said, "the Lord will be with you."  God said, "I will be with you." Let's just pretend that Joshua didn't quite catch the message the first time (although I sincerely doubt this was the case).  God wanted to make sure that Joshua knew the truth.

The Lord God is with us, my sisters!  Do not ever forget it! No matter what you are facing, no matter what trial or tribulation, no matter what project is in front of you, no matter who is around you grumbling or complaining, God is always with us. That is a promise from Him, and the Lord never breaks His promises!

Be encouraged in this Word, and live your life daily knowing that God goes ahead of you, God will be with you, God will not fail you, and God will not forsake you.

To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 1, Day 2

I am so glad you came back for a second day of encouragement! Last time we OBSERVED Deuteronomy 31:7-8 & 23.  Today we are going to INTERPRET that same text.

Read through the verses again, and answer the following questions in your notebook.
  1. In verses 7-8, Moses starts and ends with two commands.  Write these commands in your notebook.
  2. The word "for" answers the question Why.  Why did Moses tell Joshua to be strong and courageous.
  3. Verse 8 tells four things about the Lord.  Write these in your notebook.
  4. Look at verse 23.  Who is talking in this verse?
  5. Coloring the pronouns yellow help to distinguish who is talking.  What did God say about Himself to Joshua?
Aren't you already more encouraged than you were when we got started!  What have you learned about the Lord today?  Perhaps you already knew these things, but what an amazing reminder about the God that we serve.

I am excited to get to the APPLICATION part when we meet again.  That is when we really get to grow in God - we use His Word to live our lives.  I look forward to learning more with you!


To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1


Monday, January 16, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 1, Day 1

Welcome to our journey of Encouragement!  I am so excited that you have decided to join me in this study.  We are going to take the next six weeks to go through an awesome set of Scripture verses, and as the title implies, I hope you find encouragement through this study.

We will be looking at one passage of Scripture this week - Deuteronomy 31:7-8 & 23.  Only three verses this week, but three verses full of a powerful message that we will constantly return to during this study.

Here is some background on what we are going to read about:

Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent by God to check out the Promised Land. (You can read about this in Numbers 13 & 14.) He and Caleb came back after 40 days of scouting saying that the people of Israel could conquer the land because the Lord was on their side. They were overthrown by the other ten spies who got the rest of Israel to grumble and complain. Because of the people's overwhelming lack of faith in God, God punished them to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (one year for each day the spies were in the land). God also punished them by making sure that everyone who was 20 years old or older would not be able to enter the Promised Land. Those people would die in the wilderness.

The two exceptions to this were Joshua and Caleb.  Because of their faith in God, they were rewarded with being able to enter the Promised Land. Joshua was even made Moses' successor, to lead the people after Moses died.  Our reading picks up at the place in time where Moses is handing the reigns over to Joshua, and the people of Israel are getting ready to enter the Promised Land.

We are going to use the inductive Bible study method as we study these Scripture passages together.  Today we are going to OBSERVE the text. Read Deuteronomy 31:7-8 & 23. Take time to read slowly, and absorb what the verses are saying. You may want to read them several times before moving on to the next step.

Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. 
The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
23 Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.” 
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

MARK your text using the following markings (these markings are only suggestions - it is how I mark my Bible.  You can choose to do this however you see fit.)
  • Circle the word "for" in red.  The word "for" answers the question Why?
  • Mark the name "Lord" with a purple triangle colored yellow. Color all pronouns to the Lord in yellow.

Now go back and re-read the text for more clarity.  In your notebook, write a thought from today's time with the Lord.

This is all we are going to do today.  Our next study will look at INTERPRETING the text, and we will conclude with how we can APPLY the text to our lives.


Friday, January 13, 2017

The Widow of Zarephath

On the second Saturday of every month, I teach a women's Bible study at my church.  I have considered writing these up as blog posts for awhile, and I feel now that this is the most appropriate time for me to begin this work.  My first online Bible study officially starts on Monday, and this is not related to that, but I still would like to put these out there for anyone to read, and hopefully receive a blessing from.  These will not be written as the online Bible studies are written.  These will be more like true bog posts - the Scripture with my thoughts attached.  As always, I challenge you to study the Scripture verses on your own.  Always check the Bible before you assume that what someone else says is accurate.  If you find something that sounds questionable in this post, please write me a comment.  I am always looking to grow more and more in my spiritual life, and I know that I am far from perfect in my interpretation of the Scripture.

All that being said, today's post talks about the Widow of Zarephath.  Her story is told in 1 Kings 17:1-24.
Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’” 15 So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah.17 Now it came about after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 So she said to Elijah, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!” 19 He said to her, “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed.20 He called to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.” 22 The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived. 23 Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
 Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The first few verses in this passage give us some background knowledge on who one of the key players was in this story, and the circumstances that he was living in at the time.  Elijah was the prophet during this time in history.  He presented a word of the Lord to Ahab, the king of Israel, that promised a major drought to the land.  After that word, Elijah was told by the Lord to go eastward and hide near the brook Cherith.  The Lord promised Elijah that he would be able to survive by drinking the water in the brook, and that ravens would bring him food.

Let's stop for a minute and talk about the Lord and His provision.  In a miraculous event, the Lord kept Elijah alive and well by bringing his food to him by birds.  Birds!  The Lord has promised to take care of us and our needs in life.  He showed His great power by using birds to bring food to Elijah.  More specifically, God had the birds bring bread and meat to Elijah every morning and every evening.  We haven't even talked about the Widow of Zarephath, yet, and already the Lord is teaching us a valuable lesson through His Holy Word.  God will supply our needs!  Philippians 4:19 makes this quite clear.
19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Not some.  Not one.  All!  He knows what our needs our before they even arise, and He is faithful to us to make sure that we have what we need.  Once the brook that God told Elijah to drink out of had dried up, God didn't forget about Elijah and let him die there.  Instead, God used His miraculous sovereignty to provide for him again.  This time, the provision was going to come in the form of a person, not a bird.

God told Elijah to go to Zarephath.  God said that He had commanded a widow to provide for Elijah.  Can you imagine being that widow and hearing God's command at that time?  This was not a happy time in her life.  We go on to read that she is at the brink of starvation, and she is preparing for her final meal with her son (which isn't going to be much), and she was planning on dying very soon.  This widow was miserable, starving, thirsty, and most likely lonely.  She didn't have much to her name, and she had very little, if any, hope.  God spoke to her, and commanded her to take care of His prophet Elijah.  Before Elijah came to Zarephath, I could imagine what her response to God was.  "How am I supposed to take care of this prophet when I can't hardly take care of myself?"

When Elijah gets to town, he finds the widow.  She is very honest with him, and tells him that she has no bread, and just a small amount of flour and oil.  She tells Elijah that she is getting ready to prepare her and her son's final meal before they die of starvation.  She is in a low, low place in her life.  Elijah the prophet tells her to not be afraid, and to go ahead and prepare a bread cake for him, for herself, and for her son.  He then tells her that the Lord God of Israel has promised that her flour and her oil will not run out during the entire length of the drought that is in the land.

At this point, the Widow of Zarephath has two choices:
  1. Obey God and live.
  2. Disobey God and die.
Oh my sisters, isn't it just as simple as that for us, too?  We have two choices in this life.  We can choose God, or not choose God.  One way leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death.  I pray that you have chosen to obey God and have eternal life.  If you haven't done this, please get in contact with me or someone else that you trust, that can lead you to knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior.

In this story, the widow did not hesitate.  She didn't ask any questions.  The widow had faith that her needs would be met by God, so she went and did what Elijah had her do.  Because of that choice, she and her son continued to have as much flour and oil as they needed to survive.  The Lord supplied the needs of the Widow of Zarephath because she chose to trust in Him.

Once again, we could stop here and have heard two great lessons from the Bible.  However, the widow's story doesn't end here.  After all of these things happened, after the widow obeyed the Lord and took care of Elijah, after the Lord took care of the widow and supplied her with food to last throughout the drought, her son becomes deathly ill.  This is her only family.  Her son is all she has left on earth.  And now, he is sick to the point of death.

When things were going right in her life, she trusted in God.  When tragedy came, she immediately placed blame.  She blamed Elijah for her sons sickness.  How easy is it for us to immediately place blame on someone or something when tragedy hits?  It is so easy!  But, we have to remember that God is in control of situations in the good times, and God is in control of situations in the bad times.  God is sovereign.  He knows what is going to happen before it even happens.  God knew that the widow's son was going to get sick.  We have to remember in the good times and in the bad times that God knows what is going on!  We have to continue to trust Him, and believe that His will will be accomplished in our lives.

Elijah intervened on behalf of the widow and prayed for the healing of her son.  The Lord heard Elijah's prayer and healed the son.  God showed His faithfulness to her by healing her son, and her faith in God was renewed.  If you have lost faith in God, please return to Him!  He has not left you, He is just waiting on you to come back.  God is faithful, just and true.  God may do things that we do not understand, things that may not fit pretty into our plans, but God's ways are always better than our ways, and we have to continue to trust in Him, no matter what.

There are so many things that we can take away from this passage of Scripture.  We have learned that God will supply our needs, even when things seem so dim for us.  But I think the major lesson from today is about God's faithfulness.  God is faithful to us and He will supply our needs.  It is important for us to remain faithful to Him, even when we go through tough times.  For this widow, it took a major tragedy and a major miracle for her to really trust God.  What does it take for us to really trust Him? A huge tragedy? A minor hiccup?  Or do we trust Him every day knowing that He will do the right thing for us, according to His will?  Oh sisters, trust God!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Norms

In coming from the world of public education, establishing norms for meetings, professional learning communities, and collaborations is the thing to do.  Norms keep everyone focused on the task at hand, and help people know what is appropriate and inappropriate.

I felt like it was important to establish some norms for this blog.  The purpose of the blog is Bible study.  This is not just a blog to read for pleasure, although I cannot stop you from doing that.

Here are the norms I have come up with:

1.  Always start with prayer.  Ask God for clarity, wisdom, and discernment as you study His Word.

2. It is okay not to know! If you come up with questions or become confused as you read the Scripture, try these things:
  • Write down your questions.
  • Re-read the section.  The more you become familiar with the text, the more it will make sense to you.
  • Continue reading. A lot of times you will get your answers, or gain clarity, as you read through the text.
3.  Be prepared to study.  You will need the following things:
  • your Bible (of course) 

  • a notebook to write in (I use cheap notebooks from Wal-Mart or Kroger.  They style doesn't matter.  It will be filled with questions, answers, thoughts, verses, and other things as you study your Bible.)
  • some colored pencils (I recommend Crayola Twistables, but any kind will work.)


















As we go through the Scripture together, we will be using the inductive Bible study method.  Do not be intimidated, we are walking through this together.  The steps of inductive Bible study are: OBSERVE the text in it's context, INTERPRET the text using the text itself, and APPLY the text to your life.

For more information on the inductive Bible study, read My Purpose blog post.  I will show you how to do the steps of inductive Bible study as we go along.  The colored pencils are used in the observation step.  My Bible is full of markings, and this has really helped me see the text in a whole new way.  If you do not want to mark in your Bible that way, you can print off a copy of the texts we are using (I will be including the text in the first post of each week), use an alternate Bible, or use an app that allows for marking the text (such as Logos by Faithlife).  Whatever you use is up to you.  If you choose to not mark the Scriptures in this way, I encourage you to continue to read the Bible and do the rest of the studies with me.  Even if you feel uncomfortable marking your Scriptures, you can still study along!
4. Respect everyone that reads this blog, comments on this blog, or comments on the private Facebook group made for this study.  Bible study is is a personal, intimate thing.  As we interpret the Scripture together, we may have differing opinions.  Let's not let that get in the way of our time together and with God.

5.  Have fun, encourage one another, learn, and grow in God!