Jesus Calls

  Does He truly want to be be near someone like ME??

For many of us, this is a  concern that stop us from drawing closer to our Father.

The remarkable fact is that He truly does desire for each one of us to come to Him.

Through these lessons we will discover that Christ sincerely longs for us to draw closer to Him each and every day.

Let's Look closely at both Jesus' words and actions to help us to see this.

Focus Scripture:

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)

While on earth- Jesus welcomed everyone to draw closer to Him and to the LOVE of God (He especially welcomed sinners!)

13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. 14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.

15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

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Biblical History

Matthew (Levi) in the Bible came to be one of Jesus’ disciples.

Before Matthew became a disciple of Christ, he was a tax collector .

Matthew aka Levi ( in the above verses) are the same person.

Tax collectors, like Levi, were hated by the Jews because they worked for the Roman government.  The Roman government at this time in history was an enemy of the Jewish people. Even though the Roman government was against both the Jewish faith and lifestyle, some Jewish men chose to work for them as tax collectors. These Jewish men did this as a way to get wealthy.  These Jewish tax collectors not only worked for the "enemy", but they were oftentimes very dishonest individuals. These men would very often demand more "tax" money than what was owed in an attempt to cheat their neighbors. Because of these reasons, tax collectors were known to their Jewish neighbors as horrible people and terrible sinners.

Since Matthew (Levi) was a tax collector, he was looked upon this way by his community. Religious people stayed clear of people like Matthew.  A "good" Jewish person would have never been seen dining with a tax collector.

These negative opinions and dirty details did not concern Jesus. Our loving Savior was not worried about what the so-called religious people thought.  He loved Matthew (Levi) even in his sinful state.

The fact that Jesus invited Levi (a sinful tax collector) to draw nearer to Him is so amazingly. God loved Levi. He loves each one of us with that same mighty passion. Even though we sin and fall short on a daily basis,  God truly does want each of us to come closer!

This is INCREDIBLE!!

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Thoughts from Leslie

Our sins do not keep God from longing to be near to us.

This is so beautiful to me! :) :)

Our human minds cannot comprehend the powerful emotion that God feels towards us. He deeply desires for each one of us to draw nearer to Him. He truly does long to be close to us each and every day! This is so incredible!

Think about the strongest feelings of Love that you have ever experienced.  The feelings we have felt are only a din shadow to the amount of love that God feels for us on an ongoing basis.  Remember....God IS love!

Monday:

Follow- (verb)  to walk or proceed along <follow a path or person> 

original word:

ἀκολουθέω

properly, to be in the same way with,

i.e. to accompany (specially, as a disciple)

Connection to us:

We need to be so careful who or what we are "following". When we allow another person to lead us we are in essence accepting their desires as our own. It is human nature for a person to seek their own personal desires. Knowing this should help us to see just how dangerous the act of "following" can be. Before we decide to follow someone we need to have a clear understanding of just WHERE they are going!  I wonder if any of us truly take the time to consider the deep impact that following the wrong person can have on our lives! This can change our entire destiny! As children of God, we KNOW where Jesus is headed. He is always moving toward His Father!  We also know what He desires, He desires for each of us to follow Him as He leads us nearer to His Father, God. He is continuously traveling and continuously leading us in the direction where true LOVE is found! He is calling us to FOLLOW Him! This is so beautiful! Are we ready to truly say yes to our Savior?

Tuesday:

Arose- (verb) to get up

Original Word: ἀνίστημι- to stand up (literal or figurative)

Connection to us:

Jesus wants us to be an active participant in our faith walk with Him.  Growing nearer to our Lord is something that we must actively pursue to achieve. It is by no means something that happens by chance. In order to pursue it, we must be willing to STAND UP, be an active participant, and actually MOVE.  Before we can follow our Lord and Savior where He desires to lead us, we must ARISE!

Connect this theory with the app, "Couch to 5K". This running app helps non-runners train and exercise in a slow and steady way.  Notice it is titled COUCH to 5k. The first step to accomplishing the ultimate 5K  goal is to first ARISE off of the couch! It is the same in ANY area of your like that you are wanting to GROW in.  You must first ARISE!

Are we ready to ARISE?

Wednesday:

Dining- (verb) to eat a meal.

Original Word: κατάκειμαιto - to recline at a meal

Connection to Us:

When we look at the definition for the word dine, it is easy to miss the significance of this simple act.  The fact that Jesus dined with sinners is extremely important! When people dined together in Biblical times it was a very meaningful event. It was a way of showing both love and acceptance. When Jesus chose to dine with this group of people in essence he was announcing to everyone in that town that He LOVED and accepted these people. He was not saying that He agreed with their lifestyles, but He is saying that He LOVED them in spite of their lifestyles!

Think back to when we were in high school.  Who we sat with at lunch was very important. Our " table mates" had a HUGE affect on how the rest of the school population viewed us. Who we sat with would immediately put us into a certain category:  we were immediately labeled as a jock, a nerd, a popular kid, etc.

This was kind of the same silly thinking back in Jesus' day. Him choosing to dine with "sinners" put Him in a VERY QUESTIONABLE category. Because He was choosing to dine with sinners...  did this make HIM a sinner???  This was the question that was running through some "religious" people's minds.

Jesus did not worry Himself as to what people thought about Him.  He LOVED these "sinful"people and He DEEPLY desired to spend time with them. He feels the same towards each one of us today!  This is true LOVE! This is so incredible!

Are we ready to invite Jesus to spend time with us today?

He is eagerly waiting to "dine" with us!

Thursday-

Call: (verb)  to command or request to come or be present

Original Word:

kaleó: to call

Original Word: καλέωPart of Speech: Verb Definition: (a) I call, summon, invite, (b) I call, name.

Connection to Us

Jesus does not command any of us to come to Him, but He does CALL  for us to come closer.  This is so incredible to me! Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the light." He could simply stand at a distance watching us and thinking to Himself, "Those silly children. They should  KNOW I will lead them to my Father. They should KNOW I will lead them on the path toward true love!  If they choose NOT to follow me, that is their own sad loss!  It is no 'skin off my back.' I am just going to stand here and watch them wander in darkness."

But Our Savior DOESN'T say that!!!!

Our Messiah actually DID give skin off of His back the day that He chose to die on the cross for our sins! And now He does not ideally sit by and look down on us whenever we roam around in darkness- He continues to CALLS TO US to follow Him.  He is lovingly leading us toward the LIGHT!!! It is up to us to FOLLOW!!!!

This is so beautiful!!!!

Are we ready to answer His CALL today??

Sinners Wanted!

https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/463/

By

Deborah Ann

Sinners Wanted by Douglas Shelton free photo @5722

Sinners Wanted by Douglas Shelton free photo @5722

A job posting that is always open . . .

Sinners wanted, inquire within . . . looking for those willing to die to sin.

Experience needed, in both greed and pride looking for those eager to be My bride.

Seeking those skillful, in lying, murder, and stealing looking for those who need a spiritual healing.

Knowledge appreciated, in selfishness and conceit looking for those who need a Savior to meet.

Practice in immorality, isn’t the only must looking for those who want to conquer every lust.

If you are interested, come right on in . . . I have been wondering where you have been!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matthew 9:13King James Version

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desiremercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come tocall the righteous, but sinners,to repentance.”

Copyright 2013 Deborah Ann Belka

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Jesus saw Levi sitting in his tax collection office and called for him to come to Him. Levi was a "sinner" and Jesus still wanted to be close to him.  How does this fact help you understand the love of God?
  2. Levi was so excited about Jesus coming to His house that he invited all of his friends to come to dinner too.  Have you invited your friends to spend time with you and Jesus lately?  If not, what do you feel is stopping you?
  3. Instead of Jesus entering the tax office and eating with Levi there He directed him to "follow him." This required Levi to leave the tax office.  What do you think is the relevance of this?
  4. Levi gave up his tax collector job and his wealth and followed Jesus.  What is the hardest thing you have given up or are trying to give up to fully follow your Savior?

https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-closer-we-are-to-jesus/

The Closer We Are to Jesus ~

By

Deborah Ann

~ CHRISTian poetry by deborahann ~ no-regrets

~ CHRISTian poetry by deborahann ~ no-regrets

The closer we are to Jesus, the less likely we’ll fall into sin the nearer we are to Him the more power, we’ll have within.

The faster we repent, the closer to Jesus we will be the sooner we find His grace the more of God’s mercy, we’ll see.

The more we know Jesus, the less, we will have to fear the nearer we grow to God the farther our regrets, will appear.

The quicker we turn to Jesus, the sooner we will find God’s peace the earlier we believe in Him the sooner our faith, will increase.

The closer we follow Jesus, the nearer He will be to us . . . the closer we draw to God the more in Jesus, we will trust.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

James 4:8

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.Cleanse your hands, ye sinners;and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

King James Version by Public Domain

Copyright 2014 Deborah Ann Belka

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Fellowship Strategy

Intentionally sit and reflect upon today's lesson.

Ask God to help you release all of your problems to Him- even the ones you are not aware of at this time.

As you relax your mind and body, start coloring this week's coloring page.

Intentionally seek God's presence.

He is right there beside you!

Talk to your Heavenly Father.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Thank Him for loving you in such a deep and meaningful way!

Meditate

The purpose of this study is to move us closer to the love of our Heavenly Father. Once we move closer, our goal is to remain there.

Spending quiet time reflecting and meditating on God's goodness can help us to

achieve this goal.

Are you ready to relax and remain at the feel of Jesus?

If so, this lesson is for you!

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Focus Verses

Philippians 4:6-8

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.

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As we continue to discover the deep and loving nature of God, we will not only be growing in our faith, we will also be getting more and more comfortable sitting at His feet.

It is human nature that people usually feel a little bit uneasy sitting really close to people unfamiliar to them. Think about the last time you went to the movies or even sat on a church pew.  Unless you knew the person you are about to sit by, you probably chose to sit away from them.

Before we sit at the feet of someone, we must first really KNOW them.  We must not only KNOW them, we must also have a sense that this person actually cares for us. Why else would we choose to sit within "kicking" distance of someone's foot??!!??

As we sit at the feet of Jesus, He wants us to know that He truly does care about us!

He sincerely desires to be fully KNOWN by us!

The Lord wants us to feel absolutely comfortable and totally willing to draw near to Him!

We learned through a previous devotion that in order to honestly know and trust who God is, we should both behold and reflect upon the Lord's past provisions in each one of our lives.

For this reason, this week we will be writing lists of all of the ways that God has proven His love to us. We will write down all of the ways that God had shown us that He loves and cares for us.

To help us learn how to meditate, let's keep these lists near to us throughout this week and look at them often.

Before we go any farther, let's grab a pencil and paper and begin our lists now.

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Key Words

anxious- (verb) drawn in opposite directions; "divided into parts"

Original Word: μεριμνάω Definition:  anxious, distracted

Nothing- pronoun, no single thing

Original Word: μηδείς-  not even one (man, woman, thing)

Usage: any (man, thing), no (man), none, not (at all, any man, a whit), nothing.

Connection to us

It is so easy for us to make exceptions to rules especially when those rules involve us and our emotions.  This verse is literally telling us to not be anxious about ANYTHING!  There are no exceptions to that. Be anxious for nothing means exactly that- NOTHING!

God is completely aware of every issue that we are dealing with at any given time.

There are NO issues which would be an exception to this verse.

God wants us to hand over ALL of our worries to Him.

He does not want our minds filled with anxiety over ANY problem or issue -

no matter how big or small.

This is sometimes difficult for us, but we can do it!

Let's ask our Heavenly Father to help us!

**  challenge activity for today**

  1.  Write down every worry or concern that you can think of.
  2. Color code each statement.
  3.  Choose one color to underline (code) the "big" worries and another color to underline (code) the  "small" worries.
  4. After you have "coded" each issue, choose a third color.
  5. With the third color completely cross out each statement.
  6. Finally, using this same third color- write GOD WILL HANDLE THIS  beside each statement.

Pray again and THANK God for His continuous protection and provision in your life.

mediate- (verb)

KJV Dictionary Definition

To dwell on any thing in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.

Connection to us

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for our eyes and minds to wander towards our problems?

This can be a very dangerous thing!

What our minds wander towards we are often tempted to act upon.

It is kind of like driving down the road and getting distracted by signs. For example, we see a sign, our mind begins wandering toward the image we see and then we are tempted to act upon it.

One common example is when we see the famous "Hot Now" sign glowing at the local  Krispy Kreme!

Although we did not feel hungry before we saw it, after we gaze upon our mind begins tasting that delicious treat and we are then tempted to ACT!  We immediately feel like we MUST have a scrumptious doughnut.

Notice how easy our gaze affected our action.  We went from not feeling hungry to feeling starving and tempted to pull through the Krispy Kreme drive thru all from a 3 second glance!

What we gaze upon can alter our thoughts and actions in very powerful ways!

This can be dangerous with doughnuts but it can really be dangerous when our "gaze" turns towards our problems and off of God.

In these verses, God is not telling us to discount our problems, instead He is reminding us to not be distracted or pulled off course because of them. When we feel anxious over something even something very small it is easy for us to make a rash and  oftentimes bad decision to try to remedy the issue.  Our ACTIONS can many times lead to even more anxiety!

Our focus verses for this week were written to help us with this.

When the scripture says to be anxious for nothing, it literally means NOTHING! In these verses, God is reminding us to not focus our gaze on ANYTHING but Him!

It is up to us to direct our gaze, thoughts, and actions!

Let's begin by turning our gaze away from worry and back toward peace.

Let's intentionally meditate upon God's amazing LOVE!

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Biblical History

The book of Philippians was written by Paul. He was one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all times.  At this time in history it was very dangerous for a person to spread their beliefs regarding Jesus. During these early years of the church, there were several groups of powerful people who wanted to end the spread of Christianity. Because these people desired to destroy the early church, it was  not uncommon for early Christian leaders to be both tortured and even imprisoned for their faith. Paul was one of these targeted leaders. He had been both beaten and imprisoned more than once for his missionary work. Throughout  all of this turbulence and hardship, Paul never lost faith in God. When chapter 4 of Philippians was written, Paul was actually being held in a prison cell.

What kept Paul strong throughout his many prison stays was reflecting and meditating on God's great LOVE and protection for him in the past.

In this chapter,  Paul was writing to a group of church members in  Philippi. He was in prison, yet Paul was writing to encourage his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  He was encouraging them to not be anxious.  This is incredible!!!  Paul had every reason to be both anxious and worried, yet he chose to be the opposite. He chose to meditate on the positive and look to God's prior love and provisions to uphold him!  In doing this he was able to remain steadfast in both his joy and faith.

We can learn a powerful lesson from Paul!

Our focus controls our outlook!!!!  :)

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https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/meditate-on-me/

Meditate on Me ~

By

Deborah Ann

Come all weary by Jason Harper free photo # 3244 Creationswap

Come all weary by Jason Harper free photo # 3244 Creationswap

Meditate on Me, put aside some time to spend alone and ponder Me.

Moan to Me, groan and whimper and express your heart to Me.

Mutter to Me, sigh and cry and whisper your love for Me.

Talk to Me, hum sweet words and murmur your praise to Me.

Pray to Me, beseech and plea and implore your need for Me.

Meditate on Me, put aside some time and lose yourself . . .  in Me!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Psalm 19:14 King James Version

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Copyright 2013 Deborah Ann Belka

Discussion Questions

  1.  Would you describe yourself as an optimist or a pessimist?  Why?
  2. Do you find it easy or difficult to control  your thoughts?  Why?
  3. If you let your mind run wild, what are you most likely to think about?  Do these thoughts cause worry or peace?
  4. How can mediating our the list of God's provisions help you to have a more positive outlook?

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Sitting Strategies

For the first few minutes, meditate on your list which you created at the beginning of today's lesson. Take time to personally thank God for each of these examples of His LOVE.

Next, ask Him to reveal more past examples of His provisions for you.

Add these new examples to your list.

For the remaining moments, simply enjoy the calming presence of Jesus as you sit as His feet and color.

Listen to your favorite Christian songs.

Allow yourself to feel God's Love and Peace flow inside of you.

Your Heavenly Father LOVES this quiet time with you!

Mary and Martha

The purpose of this study is to help each of us draw nearer to the loving arms of God. Are you ready to move closer?

If you are reading this study, I am assuming your answer is YES!

Moving closer to our Heavenly Father can sometimes be overwhelming.

Satan will often fill us with silly thoughts and questions such as:

Does God truly want me to approach Him?

Won't I need to work and continuously prove myself to remain in His presence?

For many of us, these are the concerns that stop us from moving closer to our Father.

The goal of this study is to help us to see past these lies of Satan.

Through biblical evidence we will see that our amazing Heavenly Father truly

does want to be close to us.

He is waiting with arms open wide for us to draw near.

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Focus Scriptures

Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

Mary and Martha

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

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Biblical History

Jesus and his disciples often traveled. As they traveled, they would often stay at the homes of fellow believers. During each visit, Jesus would fellowship with the families He stayed with. Jesus had stayed with Mary and Martha on other travels before. He cared for their family very much.  Earlier in His ministry Jesus had actually raised their brother Lazarus from the dead.

Mary and Martha both loved Jesus very deeply.

Meaning behind their names:

Marthameans ‘lady of the house’. Mary means ‘wise woman’ or ‘lady’; it is a Greek form of the Hebrew Miriam or Mariam.

I think it is interesting that the sister with the "wise" name was the one who showed true wisdom in this situation.

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Thoughts from Leslie

It is important to note that God deeply desires for each one of us to draw nearer to Him. We saw this as we read the story of Mary and Martha.  Our Heavenly Father truly does LOVE us. He sincerely wants to be close to us.  This may seem like a small detail at first, but it is not. This is a HUGE and VITAL realization! Think about it, why would any of us choose to move closer to someone that does care about us? I  don't know about you, but I never want to intentionally move closer to someone if they do not want me near to them.  I never want to feel like I am a burden or imposition on anyone.  Knowing that my Lord and Savior truly does want me near to Him helps me be both willing and eager to spiritually move closer to Him.

Let's reflect upon the story of Mary and Martha 

Reflection Number One:

God WANTS us near to Him.

Jesus has come to the home of Mary and Martha.

What is His purpose in being there? Let's look closely to find the answer.

Jesus and His disciples are traveling.  They do not own houses in the different towns in which they travel, so they choose to stay with other believers.

It is important to note that Jesus does not NEED to stay with anyone as He travels.  He is the Son of God!  He actually created the entire world and everything in it simply by speaking it into existence. Reflecting on this fact helps us to realize that Jesus could have chosen to simply speak the words and He could have provided food and shelter for both Himself and His companions at any time without needing to stay with anyone.

Not long before arriving at the home of Mary and Martha, Jesus had fed 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.  This should prove to us that He definitely had the ability to personally provide everything that He and His disciples would ever need during their travels in the same exact way.

It is imperative that we understand that Jesus chose to abide with others not because He NEEDED to, but because He WANTED to.  He invites us to abide with Him today for the same reason.

This fact should help us realize that Jesus truly does DESIRE to STAY CLOSE to us.

Reflection  Number Two:

We do not need to "earn our spot" before we draw nearer to God.

Jesus wants for us to stay close to Him not because He needs our hands, but simply because He desires our heart.

It is important for us to realize that  there is nothing that we can do to earn our spot near Jesus. This realization is sometimes difficult for us to believe. In this crazy world, we begin to believe that LOVE is something we must earn.  This warped thinking tricks us into believing that the one who works the hardest for Jesus is the one who will be chosen to abide in His presence.

It is this thinking that makes most of us relate to Martha in this story.  As we read these verses many of us find ourselves feeling sorry for hard working Martha and maybe even a little angry at her sister Mary.

Isn't it sad that as women we tend to believe that acts earn love? Women, as a whole, grow up thinking that that the best way to make someone love them is by serving them more and more.

Serving others is definitely important.  The problem comes when we try to base and grow a relationship simply through works. Relationships are built through quality time spent with another. Doing things for people should never replace quality time spent with them. This is the big takeaway from the story of Mary and Martha. Serving will never move us closer to someone,  it will only make us feel more needed.  God doesn't need any of us.  He desires for each of us to abide with Him, because He loves us not because He needs us! Because of this, drawing closer to Jesus can only be accomplished by becoming less like Martha and more like Mary.

As we continue in this study let's focus our attention on  reflecting upon the beliefs and actions of Mary.  Like Mary, we must first believe that Jesus truly does desire to be near to us. She believed that Jesus wanted to spend time with her so she intentionally chose to move closer to Him.

Next, let's take note that Mary did not try to earn her spot at the feet of Jesus. We must realize the same. To truly be  near to Jesus, we must focus less on work and more on fellowship. It is important that each of us truly understands that it is God's LOVE that calls and allows us to come to Him.  We do not earn our new spot by the work of our hands!

Our God longs to have a personal relationship with each one of us just as He did so many years ago with Mary and Martha. He is reaching out for us to come closer.

Isn't this AMAZING!!!!

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Important Words:

Monday:

Welcomed: (verb) toreceiveoracceptwithpleasure;regardaspleasantorgood

Original Word: δέχομαιPart of Speech: Verb Short Definition: I take, receive, accept, welcome Definition: I take, receive, accept, welcome.

Connection to us:

Martha "welcomed" Jesus into her home.

She did this by physically inviting Jesus in.

Many of us today also "welcome" Jesus into our home.

We do this by purchasing Bibles, devotion books, prayer journals, and the like.

Like Martha, we truly desire to spend time with Jesus.

And like Martha, we easily become distracted.

With every new day, our Savior is calling for us to move nearer to Him.

We can do this by spending time with Him reading His Holy Word and meditating on His love.

Will we move nearer to our Savior today?

Will we momentarily leave our distractions behind to accomplish this goal ?

Jesus is waiting with open arms.

The next step is up to us!

Tuesday:

Heard: verb,tolearnbytheearorbybeingtold;beinformedof.

original word: ἀκούω: to hear (in various senses)

Connection to us:

Mary did not just listen to Jesus speak , she HEARD His words.

This is vital for us to understand.

Hearing involves learning!

Mary learned from Jesus.

This should be our goal today.

Let's strive to  intentionally be like Mary each and every day.

Let's open our ears and hearts and allow Jesus to teach us!

We can do this as we actively read God's Word and reflect upon it.

By READING God's truths and then REFLECTING and APPLYING them, we can be like Mary in our daily relationship with Christ!

Are we ready to LEARN from our Savior?

Are we ready to be filled with the LOVE of Jesus?

Let's spend some quiet time reading and meditating on God's Word today!

Wednesday:

Distracted: (adjective) to be drawnawayordiverted,asthemindorattention.

Original word: περισπάω- to drag all around, i.e. (figuratively) to distract (with care)

Connection to us:

As women, we consider ourselves to be  "masters" of multi-tasking.  But the truth is, when we use this mindset in our relationships, we are actually "masters" of none.  When we focus our attention on more than one thing at a time nothing or no one is  getting our FULL attention. In our busy lives this is often necessary, but can be harmful in our relationships. Relationships are about giving yourself completely to another person. We cannot give ourselves completely to another person if our minds are diverted during "quality" time spent with them. Mary knew the importance of devoting a few minutes out of her day completely focused on Jesus.  It is vital that each day we find time to do the same. Our Savior desires a DEEP relationship with us. He wants us to come to him each day (even for as little as a 15 minute time period.) He wants us 100% completely focused on Him.

Are we ready to schedule 15 minutes of time each day completely in the presence of LOVE?

Let's take a few minutes now to quietly meditate on the truths found in this week's scripture.

Thursday:

Serving: (verb)   furnishing or supplying  with something needed or desired

Original Word: διακονέω-to be an attendant, i.e. wait upon (menially as a host, or friend)

Connection to us:

As women we tend to show love by serving or  "providing".

We begin this habit from an early age.  As children we show love to our parents and friends by "making" them things: crafts, notes, desserts, and doing things for them.

We continue these habits as adults.  The more we LOVE someone, the more we tend to want to DO for them.

Sometimes we even judge how much someone else loves us by calculating how much they "do" for us.

This is not how Jesus determines LOVE!

Jesus does not NEED us to provide for Him to prove our love for Him.

What Jesus most desires is US!

He simply wants us to spend time each day in HIS presence!!!

This is so AMAZING!!

Jesus simply desires us to be NEAR!

Are we ready to draw nearer to Him today?

Discussion Questions

  1.  What is keeping you from moving closer to God?
  2. Do you feel like you need to "earn" your spot at the feet of Jesus?  If so, why do you think you feel this way?
  3. Can you connect more with Mary or with Martha in this week's scripture? Why?
  4. What "falsehoods" do we learn about love that keeps us distanced from God?

______________________________________________________

Jesus is calling us to draw closer!

https://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/come-unto-me-2/

Come Unto Me ~

By

Deborah Ann

Come To Me by Marian Trinidad free photo

Come To Me by Marian Trinidad free photo

Come unto Me, My child . . . such sweet music to my ears Come unto Me, Jesus calls . . . O’ how these words, I love to hear.

Come unto Me, My daughter . . . such tenderness, Jesus has for me Come unto Me, His words are like . . . sweet nectar to a honeybee.

Come unto Me, My beloved  . . . such comfort in three little words Come unto Me, Jesus whispers . . . O’ the sweetest phrase, I’ve ever heard.

Come unto Me, My little one . . . such compassion, hope and love Come unto Me, Jesus tells me . . . sweet syllables falling from above.

Come unto Me, My child, andI will give you rest. . . Come unto Me, Jesus calls O’ how my soul, these words bless!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Strategy for this week :  Moving Closer

Drawing nearer to our Heavenly Father is the ultimate goal of this study.

We learned through the story of Mary and Martha that God truly does want us near to him.

Now that we know He desires us to come closer, let's consider what is needed to actually accomplish this.

We see through the actions of Mary that quiet fellowship with our Lord is what is needed on an ongoing basis to help us to move closer.

For this reason, our strategy for this entire study  is  fellowship

But before we can fellowship, we need to clear our minds.

To help us to do this, we can color.

There have been many studies completed recently which prove that coloring can actually quiet a person's thoughts.

Knowing this, Bible Stories from the Heart provides a coloring page at the end of every lesson.

Feel free to color the picture provided, or simply quiet your mind and doodle :)

Are you ready to begin?

Grab some crayons let's get started!!  :)

As you color:

Allow yourself to  fellowship with Jesus.

As you create your beautiful art, focus your thoughts on God's love for you.

Allow yourself to move closer to His loving presence.

Listen quietly as He reveals new truths to you.

Thank Him for his burning LOVE for you!

Love Quest Art

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Nature Walk

nature walk coloring cover 3  

NEW STUDY!

Check out our new 4 week devotional study titled......

Nature Walk:

The purpose of this 4 week "art inspired" Christian Bible Study is to help you experience God's love in a bold new way- through nature! Each weekly devotion includes the following: a focus NKJV Bible scripture, a brief history lesson on that scripture, a connection to our lives, a related coloring page, discussion questions, a beautiful poem, and a SOAP reflection sheet. This study begins with the creation story, and the remaining weeks focus on other key scriptures related to nature. As we read and reflect upon these verses we will begin to experience God's amazing love in powerful new ways! Are you ready to have a deep and loving relationship with your Savior? If so, this study is for you!

 

This study is now available on Amazon

Amazon- click here

Or as a pdf printable file

PDF file purchase link

We would LOVE for you to join us on Facebook:

Facebook Group

 

 

Exodus Week 5

 

 

 

 

 

Step One:  Read Exodus 17

Focus Verses

Exodus 17: 1, 5, 6, 8

1 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim but there was no water to drink. …5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it,that the people may drink.”  And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.

Thoughts from Leslie

The Children of God are continuing their journey to the Promised Land.  Along the way they begin complaining to Moses once again because they are thirsty. Moses turns to God for guidance and is told to strike a rock with his rod. Moses does so, and WATER FLOWS OUT OF THE ROCK! As they are drinking the Israelites are attacked by their enemies. God KNEW that there was no water where He led them- He knew that they would have to DEPEND on HIM to quench their thirst!  He also knew they would be attacked at Rephidim. God was aware of this even BEFORE He led them to this spot.

Reading this chapter prompted these questions:

Why would God lead His children to this area knowing what would happen?

Didn't God want to keep them safe and well provided for?

In lesson five we will discover the answers to these questions...we will come to realize that these events were SO MUCH MORE than just a drink of water and a battle--these events once again were Lessons of LOVE!

History

The Amalekites in the Bible were enemies of God.  They were descendants of Esau, who chose earlier in the Bible NOT to follow God. Esau and Jacob (who was later named Israel) were twin brothers and the grandsons of Abraham. We learned earlier in this Bible Study that God first gave His blessing and promise to Abraham in the book of Genesis.  God promised to bless Abraham and make his descendants a great nation. He then passed the blessing on to his son Isaac. Isaac then passed the blessing to his son Jacob.

According to the custom of that day, Esau being the older twin was entitled to a special blessing. Jacob valued God and the blessings that He had promised His people, Esau did not.  Esau thought so little of God and valued this future blessing so little that he willingly gave it up for a bowl of soup! (Genesis 25: 19-34)

God did not want the Amalekites to be His enemies, but He does not force anyone to LOVE Him.  People are born with a choice to make. They can either choose to love God and follow Him, or they can choose to not love God and follow themselves instead. Jacob chose to LOVE God and as a result his children, the Israelites, loved God. Esau chose to only LOVE himself and hate God and as a result his children, the Amalekites, hated God.

Symbolism Behind the Rod

God wanted His children to realize how vitally important it was for them to look to HIM for their strength and provision.  The Lord knew that Israelites would face both evil and "droughts" in their lives. He needed them to learn how to handle both of these situations. God WOULD always be with them, BUT they had to CHOOSE whether or not to DEPEND on Him for their STRENGTH and PROVISION. Through these events, the Israelites would learn that in both their future battles and desert journeys, they must rely on GOD'S MIGHT and RESOURCES to rescue them! They must learn to HOLD ONTO GOD’S STRENGTH- just as Moses HELD onto the rod!

The Battle Begins

As the Israelites were drinking their water, The Amalekites came up from behind and attacked them. Thus, the battle began. We see from these few verses in Exodus that not much was mentioned about the battle strategies or fight plans of the Israelites.  This was because those details were NOT important!  What was important was GOD'S POWER and PROTECTION over His children.  This is symbolized in this story through the rod.

The rod that Moses held during this battle was the same one he held out so many times before.  This rod had been involved in several of God's miracles before.  It was used to part the Red Sea and again to close the Red Sea (Genesis 14) it was the rod that was JUST USED to cause water to flow out from a rock! This rod represented POWER!!! More than that, it represented God's POWER!!!!  When Moses held on to the rod and followed God's commands, God's power flowed through Moses!

As this battle was fought, the Israelites noticed something huge about the rod and its connection to Moses. They noticed that every time Moses lifted his arms (and rod) to the Heavens they would win that part of the battle. They also noticed that whenever Moses lowered his hands and the rod, they would begin to lose the battle. The Israelites recognized this early on and chose to KEEP THE ROD (God's Power) lifted up!

When Moses' arms got too tired to remain raised, two of Moses' companions helped! Aaron and Hur held his arms up- one on one side-one on the other. These two men continued raising Moses' arms until sunset when the battle was over!

Exodus 17:  9-13  

9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”  10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek.  And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.  12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and

put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.  13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

God gives us an AMAZING hands-on lesson! Through this visual God was showing His children that in order to be victorious, it was imperative for the Israelites to stay focused, obedient, and connected to Him! They MUST depend on His strength not their own!  They must keep God lifted up above EVERYTHING ELSE!  The Lord allowed this altercation with the Amalekites so that His children could learn this valuable lesson!

God knew that His children would encounter many enemies in their lives. He wanted them to know early on how they should handle future attacks. He needed them to understand that they would have a choice to make.  In future battles, they could either depend on God's strength and instruction and be led to victory, or they could look to their own strength and plans and find defeat. The lands around them were filled with enemies of God. The Lord wanted His children to be ready for any evil that they may encounter!

Connections to Us Today

FIRST -

Our lives will not always be easy.  Just like the Israelites, we will be led into "deserts" at different points in our lives.  IF GOD IS THE ONE who leads us there, we can be guaranteed that He is doing so OUT OF LOVE!  If we NEVER had to walk through a desert......  how could God possibly ever build our trust and faith in HIM??We must also realize that sometimes Satan leads us into deserts as well- THAT IS NOT OUT OF LOVE.  We must be careful who we are following.

 

SECOND -

We STILL have enemies of God today. We may call them by different names other than Amalekites, BUT we are surrounded by people and groups who are EVIL. We cannot defeat evil by our own power. We can ONLY defeat the darkness when we are LOOKING to God and depending on His strength and direction. We MUST hold His rod in our hands and keep our focus on our Heavenly Father!

It is vital to be surrounded by strong Christian friends.  Moses had friends on either side of him to lift his arms when he was no longer able.  We NEED friends like that in our lives!  If we do not have anyone like that, we should intentionally LOOK and PRAY for God to bring us some! The battles and deserts are REAL! We do NOT need to enter them alone!

 

Poem/Discussion Questions

 

You Are a Blessing to Me ~

By deborah ann

 

Have I told you lately, you are a blessing to me have I expressed how much in you, God’s grace I can see.

Have I let you know recently, how much I appreciate you have I conveyed in actual words my gratitude for all you do.

Have I voiced my pleasure, of just having you around have I said, you lift me up whenever I’m feeling down.

Have I uttered my thanks, for your kindness and love have I spoken I believe . . . you’re my angel from above.

Have I told you lately, what a blessing you are to me have I expressed just how much of Jesus ~ in you, I do see!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copyright 2014 Deborah Ann Belka

 

This lesson we read about the battle between the Lord's children and the Amalekites.  For the Israelites to win the battle, Moses had to keep his focus on the Lord.  He demonstrated this by keeping his arms and rod lifted to the heavens. During the night Moses grew tired. He was unable to keep his arms lifted on his own. Aaron and Hur saw his struggle. These two friends chose to help. They stood on either side of Moses and lifted his arms for him! They remained there all throughout the night. With their help, Moses was able to keep the rod raised until the Israelites were victorious.

If it weren't for these two friends, the story may have ended in a totally different way!

Questions:

  1.  Who is your best friend and why are they special to you?
  2. Why is it important to have a good friend?
  3.  What qualities do you look for in a friend?
  4.  How many of those qualities do you have?
  5.  Could you be depended during a spiritual battle?
  6. If you felt yourself heading into a spiritual battle, who could you depend on to keep focused?
  7. What is your big “takeaway from this week?

Exodus Week 6

Scan Scan0003

 

Step One:  Read Exodus chapters 18- 20

Focus Verses

Exodus 20: 1- 17

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Ten Commandments

And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. 12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

 

Thoughts from Leslie

Chapter 20 begins with Moses receiving the 10 commandments.  Moses climbs to the top of Mt. Sinai.  It is here that he meets with God Himself.  God gives Moses 2 stone tablets- each containing commandments written by GOD'S OWN HAND!  This is AMAZING!  God Himself wrote the commandments down for His children to read! God's own hand writing only takes place 4 times in the Bible:

In His Own Hand

A look at the four times God wrote in His own hand.

  • Law: Ten Commandments. Exodus 20: 1-17
  • Judgment: King Belshazzar feast, handwriting on the wall. Daniel 5
  • Forgiveness: Accusation of the adulteress, Jesus writes on the ground. John 8: 1-11
  • Life: The Book of Life, writes the names. Revelation 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; 22:19 (Exodus 32:32-33; Psalms 69:28; Psalms 87:6; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3)

These stone tablets were kind of like "Israel's Constitution" authored by the Lord Himself!  God had led His children out of captivity.  The Israelites were about to become a GREAT nation.  God Himself was their "government" - He was using the two stone tablets to establish the grounds on which His new nation would be built!

As you continue reading about these very important words of God, you might find yourself bothered by something- the word commandments.  It sounds so negative and harsh. It surely DOES NOT sound very loving.   It makes us visualize a very strict, UNLOVING dictator.  That is not what we want to visualize!  As you study and pray realize something amazing- the commandments aren't HARSH RESTRICTIONS- they are RELATIONSHIP STEPS!   We know that God is LOVE.  We also know that everything God does is out of LOVE!   The 10 commandments are just one more example of how much God truly LOVES us!

 

History

Our Bible was not always contained in one leather-bound book.  At one time it only existed written on various ancient scrolls. They were translated and compiled into the Bible of today.  The scrolls containing the first 5 books of the Bible are called the Torah.  In the original wording, the word "commandments" is not mentioned.  They were originally called either Aseret ha-D'varim or Aseret ha-Dibrot. The words d'varim and dibrot come from the Hebrew root Dalet-Beit-Reish, meaning word, speak or thing.  In the Bible’s original wording "the 10 commandments" are more accurately translated as the Ten Sayings, the Ten Statements, or even the Ten Things, but not as The Ten Commandments.

Knowing the original wording was not commandments but actually statements should help us to see God’s love in these verses even deeper.  The 10 "Statements" ALL centered on RELATIONSHIPS. Judaism teaches that the first tablet, containing the first five declarations, identifies duties regarding our relationship with God, while the second tablet, containing the last five declarations, identifies duties regarding our relationship with other people.

Think about what a person needs in order to be truly happy, and now look at these again:

The 10 Commandments List, Short Form

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

 

Connection to Us

What do these 10 statements have to do with LOVE? They all deal with us having healthy relationships, which lead us to happiness! God is in essence providing each one of us with 10 ways of HOW TO FIND HAPPINESS in our lives here on earth.

  • We all YEARN to be loved.
  • In order to be LOVED- we need to be LOVING ourselves!
  • God demonstrates His love to each one of His children.
  • If we want to be more loving, then we must learn from the LOVE GURU Himself, God!!

To be truly happy we must have healthy relationships. We must be satisfied with what we have.  We must have goals to reach for. We must continue learning and growing.  We must take care of ourselves both mentally and physically.  And, most importantly we must realize we are a part of something BIGGER!

We are relational beings. God created us to connect with each other. He knows that developing and maintaining LOVING relationships is where TRUE HAPPINESS and LOVE comes from, both with HIM and with other people.

The 10 Commandments SHOW us how to have a relationship FIRST with God and THEN with our fellow man. Both types of relationships are important!  BOTH are centered on common ideas:  trust, honor, and faithfulness!  When you seek a LOVE relationship with another person don't you NEED those 3 things (trust, honor, faithfulness)? God is helping us "weed out" the people who cannot provide us "healthy" relationships. He is giving us guidelines not only for us to follow but also to USE.

 

 

 

 

Poem/Discussion Questions

Bleeding-Hearts ~

By deborah ann

We search for love in all the wrong places we seek acceptance in strangers faces.

We go to chat rooms, join a dating service hoping our soul mate comes to the surface.

We go to nightclubs, we party, we dance scanning the crowd for a little romance.

We wish and we hope, we beg and we pray our truest of loves will come our way.

We are often foolish, unwise and soft-hearted and our bleeding-hearts are often discarded.

So, if you are looking, for someone you can love just open up your heart and look up above.

Jesus loves you, like no one else ever will . . . the emptiness in your heart His grace will quench and fill!

 

  1. What is the best relationship that you were ever a part of? What made it so wonderful?
  2. Do you think respect is important in a loving relationship, why or why not?
  3. If a person does not honor and respect God, do you really think they will honor and respect you??!!??
  4. What would you consider a "healthy" relationship?  What are some basic truths that it is built on? If someone you love broke one of the 10 commandments against YOU- would your relationship with that person suffer?
  5.  Is there anything in this life that brings you more happiness than LOVING relationships?
  6. Is there sin in your life (a commandment that you are breaking) that is keeping you from having a loving relationship?
  7.  What insights did you learn about God and His commandments from this lesson?
  8. What is your big “takeaway” from this week?

 

Exodus Week 4

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Step One:  Read Exodus 15 & 16

Focus verses

Exodus 16: 2-5

2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. 5 And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Thoughts from Leslie

  • WHY would God choose to give HIS chosen people bread-like flakes for food?
  • WHY in the world wouldn’t He give them something more delicious?
  • Didn’t He love them? (Exodus 16)

History

As we continue to study Exodus we read that Moses is continuing to move God’s people toward the Promised Land. The Israelites have left Egypt and are now basically on their own.  They are LEARNING to survive without "masters" to care for them.  Remember up until this time the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. Slaves do not make their own decisions.  Slaves pretty much depend on their "masters" for their survival. They are not taught how to provide and care for themselves.  Because of this the Israelites needed to be taught some basic life skills. They desperately needed to learn how to survive on their own.  This is where our lesson begins. God is about to TEACH His children, the Israelites, their first life skill.  Their Heavenly Father was about to give them a CRASH course on SURVIVAL 101!

Step one in their survival training was to LOOK TO GOD to be FILLED! This is where MANNA comes in. IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST FOOD! In Hebrew it was called Man hu- which translates as "what is it??"...so basically this heavenly "bread-like" substance did not have a true name. From this moment forward try to think of MANNA as FLAKES OF LOVE!! It is used by GOD to teach His children HOW to DEPEND on HIM for their every need! God uses it to show them How to TRUST their LORD and seek Him DAILY to be FULFILLED.

While in Egypt, the food and drink of the Israelites were produced by human hands.  The three main staples of that area were bread, porridge, and beer. None of these items were naturally found.  A person had to DEPEND on the work and actions of others before these foods were ready to consume. God DID NOT want His people thinking they needed to depend on ANYONE or ANYTHING but Him!  He LOVED them so much!!  He alone could provide for them and keep them FILLED. He needed them to learn this BEFORE they entered the Promised Land!

Manna was ready to eat the minute it fell to the earth!  The Israelites did not have to do ANYTHING to prepare it for consumption. All they had to do was ACCEPT it!  Each day they were given their daily manna from God.  God is not only teaching them that HE alone can provide for them, He is ALSO teaching them to LOOK to HIM on a DAILY basis!!!!

Notice that manna was also used as a test to see whether God's children were ready to truly FOLLOW Him and truly TRUST Him. This test was SO VERY IMPORTANT!  The Israelites were going to be unsure about the road ahead. They would not always know what obstacles they would face. There would be times when all they would have is THEIR FAITH. They were going to HAVE to trust God enough to FOLLOW Him and RELY on HIM ALONE to guide them on their journey. Up until now they had not done very well with this. Even though they had seen God's power when He delivered them from their Egyptian enemies, they still doubted God.  When they found themselves without food they immediately grumbled and wanted to go back to their old masters! In essence they were saying that they would rather be SLAVES to their enemies than be FREE and rely on their God to provide for them! God wanted to fix this! He desired for them to have FAITH in their heavenly Father even when their needs were not instantly met.

The Israelites also needed to see the importance of restoring their FAITH in God on a DAILY basis! They needed to know that one day's faith would NOT carry over into the next day. God used manna to illustrate this. By seeing yesterday's manna rot (except on the 6th day), God illustrated to His children how their "faith" in Him could also rot. He wanted them to realize that faith in God one day would not be sufficient for the next day's needs. Just as the manna would rot and become inedible, so would the Israelites faith in God if not restored DAILY. God wanted them to see that their faith in HIM MUST be established fresh and new each and every day!

Their Lord also desired for the Israelites to place their trust in their God instead of in a human, Moses. Remember when the Israelites were hungry; they turned to Moses instead of turning to God? To demonstrate His ultimate ability to provide for His children, the Lord caused the manna to fall with absolutely no human interaction in the process. Moses had NOTHING to do with the heavenly bread falling. It was TOTALLY provided by God Himself. God did not have Moses raise a staff into the air, hit a rock, or climb a mountain in order for the food to fall. The manna fell EACH and EVERY morning simply because God said that it would!  God's Manna was a TRUE gift of LOVE! It was the perfect symbol to show that God would provide for His children simply because He SAID THAT HE WOULD!

 

Connections to Us

We are reminded HOW important looking to HIM for OUR DAILY BREAD by reading the Lord's Prayer:

 

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer (traditional)

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.

KEY VERSE:  Give us this day our DAILY BREAD!

There are so many distractions that can keep you from turning to GOD for your DAILY needs.  Your Heavenly Father knows this.  He truly desires for us to begin each day WITH HIM....  You should be dependent on HIM and HIM ALONE. You must ASK HIM to fill you for THIS DAY'S NEEDS. And you should ASK THIS EACH and EVERY DAY!!!!!

Just as we are distracted by our busy lifestyles in today's world, the ancient Israelites were as well. God knew that once they entered Canaan it would be more difficult to teach the Israelites. There would be so many things to pull their eyes off of their Heavenly Father. The Promised Land would be full of so many new and wonderful things. Many amazing things that the LORD himself was preparing for them!  The Lord DID want them to enjoy the ample gifts that He would give them in Canaan, BUT HE needed to teach them how to be SATISFIED in HIM first! God understood that it would be easier to teach His children this lesson in satisfaction while they were still in the desert where there were fewer distractions!

Think about this in your life. Do you think God sometimes leads you into a "desert" time because He needs to teach you something and He wants your full attention?

Isn't it amazing how the heavenly bread (manna) was freely given to anyone who would accept it?

The Bread of Life, JESUS, is also freely given to ANYONE who will ACCEPT HIM!  The manna was provided simply because God said that He would provide it...JESUS IS provided SIMPLY because God SAID that He would provide HIM!!!!

THIS IS LOVE!

Poem/Discussion Questions

 

To God Be the Glory ~

By deborah ann

Lord, I want to bring You glory, I want to do right by You . . . I want the light of Your salvation in my life to shine brightly through.

I want to be the salt, the flavor of Your grace I want my soul to reflect the wonder of Your face.

I want to move mountains, to part the ocean wave I want to be Your soldier for You, Your Gospel slave.

I want to taste Your manna, sip the nectar of Your vine I want to be Your branch I want our lives to intertwine.

I want to be Your vessel, the clay upon Your wheel I want to see Your image, to know Your godly will.

Lord, I want to bring You glory, I want to sing Your praise . . . I want the world to know that for You, my heart’s ablaze!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copyright 2014 Deborah Ann Belk

 

This lesson we learned the importance of God providing His children manna in the desert. The desert was a good environment for God to teach His children important lessons on LOVE and TRUST. God knew that there would be fewer distractions in the desert. While reading this poem a few questions popped up...

  1.  Could this poem be read as a PRAYER to the Lord and be truly meant and felt??
  2.  Would you willingly follow God into a "desert" if you KNEW your faith in Him would grow as a result?  Would you??
  3.  If you were given the choice of either spending a year in the desert with God and only eating manna or spending a year in a beautiful castle surrounded by all the riches and food you could ever dream of BUT GOD NOT COME WITH YOU....  which would you seriously choose???
  4. What are some of you biggest distractions that keep you from spending time with God?
  5. Why do you think it is so easy to get distracted away from quality time spent studying God’s Word?
  6. What have you learned about God and His LOVE through this lesson?
  7.  What is your big takeaway this week?

 

Official Website

I finally created a Bible Stories from the Heart official website. Do you all mind checking it out and giving me feedback??

It is the first website I have EVER created...  I REALLY value your opinions :)

 It only took me about 1400 hours... lol!!!

me

me

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://biblestoriesfromtheheart.net/

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Exodus Lesson 3

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Step One:  Read Exodus chapters 7-14

Focus Verses for this lesson

Exodus 13: 20-22

20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

Thoughts from Leslie

It is in these chapters that God shows His POWER and PROTECTION to the Israelites. This is where God orchestrates the 10 plagues to fall upon the Egyptians.  It is also where God destroys the Egyptians and then leads the Israelites through the wilderness. For time's sake, this lesson will not focus on each plague and Godly sign individually, but refer them as a whole.  It will also lead you to discover the purpose behind the various plagues:  For God to Prove HIS LOVE for His people!!

History

Before God led His people through the wilderness, He had to help them escape their bondage. They were being held captive as slaves in Egypt. It was time for God to save His children. God had the perfect plan for their escape. Through the destruction caused by the 10 plagues, God would demonstrate His power to the Israelites. He would show both His children and the Egyptians that He alone was the ONE TRUE GOD!  (Exodus chapters 7-12)

Remember, the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. During their time in Egypt they were immersed in Egyptian customs and worship. At this time in history people believed that there were MANY gods. Each area and group of people had their own gods; many had several.  The more "gods" an area declared, the more prestige that group of people had. God knew this. He was aware that His children, the Israelites, even believed this.  He needed to change their thinking.  To do this He would need to demonstrate that HIS power was stronger than any other "god" of that time.

He had a plan. He decided to use the 10 plagues as a way to show the Israelites who He truly was.  He WAS and IS the only ONE TRUE GOD!  He wanted to SHOW His children this!  He knew that it would mean more to them to SHOW who He truly was than if He just TOLD them.  God was aware that actions speak louder than words!

Because the Israelites were so important to God, It was vital to God that they SEE His power and LOVE for them before He brought them out of Egypt. He wanted His children to be able to trust Him. The 10 plagues and other Godly signs were Yahweh's way of introducing Himself to His children as being the ONE TRUE GOD!

It is not until later that God commands His children to ONLY worship Him. Don’t you find this incredibly loving?  The waiting on God's part demonstrates so much LOVE.  God took the time to PROVE Himself to His children BEFORE He asked them to follow Him out of Egypt.  Next He waited a little longer before He commanded them to ONLY worship Him. He wanted them to KNOW Him before He gave this command.

LATER in Exodus:  20: 3-5:

3“You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.

God Led His Children

After the Israelites escaped from Egypt they then began their pilgrimage to the Promised Land (Canaan). It is important for us to see that God NEVER left His children alone on this journey. He was with the Israelites in the wilderness every step of the way.  He was there right beside them and He wanted them to know this. Just like any loving father would, He wanted to reassure His children. He wanted them to feel safe and confident on their journey, so He created a special way to let His presence be known. God used a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide them. The Israelites could look up anytime day or night and see that God was with them! Do you see His love?

The presence of the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night is INCREDIBLE!! Knowing that God was WITH His children EVERY step of the way should give you SO MUCH comfort!  If He was with them that means He is with YOU!!! GOD NEVER CHANGES! :)

Exodus 13: 20-22

20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

 

Important FACTS we should not miss from these verses:

  • The verb "went" in Hebrew is "halak" which means to walk...  at times it can mean to carry also.

God LITERALLY walked with them, sometimes even carried them.  Isn't this amazing!

  • The word "cloud" comes from a Hebrew word “anan” which means to cover or protect.

God was not only leading them...  He was also PROTECTING and COVERING them!

  • The word "pillar" in Hebrew is "ammud" which is a noun for a column or pillar which stands firmly never-changing. The verb form "amad" means literally to stand.

God continuously stood firmly with them.  He never sat. He never rested. He was constantly protecting and guiding them.

 

Connection to us

Just as the Israelites were on a journey to their promised land (Canaan),

You too are on a journey to our promised land --Heaven. 

God provided the Israelites with a pillar to lead and protect them.

He also provides you with a pillar: The Holy Spirit!

 

The Israelites' pillar was always standing- always leading and protecting them.

Likewise, the Holy Spirit is always standing and is always ready to lead and protect you.  

God never left the Israelites alone on the wilderness road; day or night He was there.

In the same way, He will never leave you on your wilderness road. He never sleeps. Day or night, He is always there!

He walked with them and carried them-

He will do the same for you!

The Israelites had to stay alert and FOLLOW His lead. They had to stop when their pillar guide stopped, and move when it moved.

You must do the same!  You must intentionally STAY on God's path!  You must not walk ahead of God and not lag too far behind God! 

Following right behind God is sometimes difficult to do. Even people who have put their faith in God for years struggle with this. The key is patience. For most the hardest part is WAITING.  God rarely gives people a clear sign of what to do at the onset of a situation, but He has a SET PLAN. His plan usually involves GROWTH before MOVEMENT. In God's plan He has things He wants to teach us and show us BEFORE He asks us to move. Most people struggle with this.  They think that God's lack of direction in their lives means one of two things: either God isn't listening; OR He is wanting them to figure it out on their own. Neither is the case.

In most cases, if you do not get a direction from God to move- DON’T MOVE! This is the hardest thing for many people!  The majority of individuals are not good at WAITING.  People have barged through many WRONG doors and have regretted the consequences. Praying is essential. Staying IN HIS WORD is vital.  WAITING on Him to direct you is critical! Even if you have been a Christian for many years the act of waiting is probably still difficult for you.

God sometimes leads people by CLOSING wrong doors on their paths.... Jobs they should not take, houses they should not buy, people they should not date, etc. When God closes doors we must learn to look at those shut doors as BLESSINGS. The Lord has something BETTER in store for us- we just have to WAIT on Him!!

 

 

 

 

Poem/Discussion Questions

 

When God Shuts a Door ~

By deborah ann

 

 

When God shuts a door, He’ll open another one and you can rest assured He has for you, the right one.

For God won’t let you enter, if it isn’t, His desire for you though you may have thought it was what, you should do.

When God shuts a door, make a mental memo to pray about the reasons you’re in a state of limbo.

For God wants you to learn, to wait on Him and be still so you can find what is His good and perfect will.

When God shuts a door, He’ll open one to go through and you can rest assured Jesus will be waiting for you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Copyright 2015 Deborah Ann Belka

 

 

Many Christians still struggle in their walk with God. It is sometimes difficult for us to stay right behind Him.  We tend to want to run ahead of God on many occasions.  This is a grave way to live our lives.  By running ahead of we are acting like we KNOW more than HE does!!!  This will quickly lead us to disaster.

The biggest problem for many is that we don't always KNOW what God wants us to do! He does not always VERBALLY tell us! For me, I have only heard The Lord's voice 3 times in my life.... Mostly God leads me by shutting and opening doors along my path.

  1.  How do YOU know God's will?
  2.  Have YOU ever heard God's voice?
  3.  Has He ever led you by closing and opening doors?
  4.  What do YOU do if you are not sure of God's will in your life?
  5.  Do you ever rush ahead of God and then regret the outcome?
  6. Did God bring anyone into your life to comfort you and lead you closer to Him?
  7.  Do you find it easy or difficult to let God have your pain?  Why?
  8. How has God grown you through a painful experience?
  9. What is your big "takeaway" from this lesson?

 

God's Love :)

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Have you ever felt desperate for LOVE?

Here is a TRUE fact:  You will only feel TRULY LOVED when you look to God to FILL you!

I learned this the hard way.... I searched for love in all the wrong places.

I do not want you to make the same mistakes I made!

God wants you to know that you do not need to live one more day feeling EMPTY or UNLOVED!

He is waiting with ARMS OPEN WIDE to FILL you with HIS ALL POWERFUL LOVE!

God filled me with HIS love and called me, a fourth grade public school teacher,to begin a LOVE INSPIRED Christian Ministry.

Driven by HIS LOVE, God led me to begin writing EASY art inspired Bible Study for adults.

And..............Bible Stories from the Heart was born!!

On this Father's Day and EVERYDAY.... I am BEYOND grateful that my HEAVENLY FATHER  is leading and blessing this ministry is such INCREDIBLE WAYS!!!!

I can not wait to see what this next year will bring!!!!

Our Heavenly Father LOVES US SO MUCH!

It is up to us to SEEK HIS LOVE :)

Our  mission at Bible Stories from the Heart  is to help adults everywhere SEEK and FIND GOD'S LOVE through our easy to follow art driven lessons :)

 

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Exodus: Lesson 2

   

 

Here are videos for Exodus lessons 1-4

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Step One:  Read Exodus Chapters 4-6

Focus Verses

Exodus 6: 6-8   

Therefore, say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.”

Thoughts from Leslie

Last week you learned how God is always with you just as He was always with the Israelites. Knowing God’s intense love for His children could then lead you to ask the following questions:

  1. Why would God allow the Israelites to be SLAVES anyway?
  2. Would God allow this if He TRULY LOVEDthem???
  3. And for you today:  Can God bring good out of the tragedies that we cause or experience?!?

Searching for the answers to these questions will once again LEAD us to God's LOVE…

History

Meaning of the word "PURE"

In this lesson when it mentions that the Israelites need to remain PURE, it is referring to their HEARTS :)

 

 

What Is It to Have a Pure Heart?

  1. Living by the rule of God, living a life that is pleasing to God.
  2. Living for the purpose of God, having a single-minded devotion to God.

Remember from our previous lesson that God created a separate people in the Israelites. He set them aside for a SPECIAL purpose. God wanted them to be a MODEL nation. In the early days of false gods and idol worship, the Israelites were the ones chosen to teach the other nations about the ONE true God.  They were the prophets and priests of Biblical times. The Israelites were also the direct ancestors of Jesus. Because of all this, God needed them to remain "PURE."

When scripture says that God needed them to be a PURE nation, it refers to their HEARTS.

God directly commands this PURITY for the Israelites later in Exodus 34: 12-16

12 Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.  13But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images  14(for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),  15lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice,  16and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.

This lesson’s Bible history will answer the following questions..........

  • How could YOU bring something good out of something as horrible as slavery?
  • Having your children be SLAVES in a foreign land sure DOES NOT seem very loving. Why would you allow that to happen? (Genesis 15:13)

First of all, God did not want His children to be slaves. The Israelites made some very bad decisions while living in Canaan and as a result they were taken into captivity by the Egyptians. This tragedy was a direct consequence of their sins. Even though they had sinned and were suffering the consequence of their sins, God still loved His children dearly. He continued to be with them even during their bondage in Egypt.

God did not wish this bondage upon His children, but He was able to bring something good out of this terrible situation.

This time spent in Egypt allowed the Israelites to remain pure of heart, to reproduce, and grow in numbers and strength.

Their bondage in Egypt was not good, but it was good that the Israelites would have a chance to both grow and remain pure. They could use this new strength in their future quest to take the Promised Land from its current evil inhabitants.

Before they were taken out of Canaan, the Israelites were outnumbered by the evil people who lived there. These early inhabitants wanted to corrupt and harm God’s children.

Just like in our world today, not everyone at that time was good. God gave everyone free will to choose. Some of the earliest people decided to go against God. A large number of these people lived in the area of Canaan, the original name given to the Promised Land of Israel. Many of these early inhabitants worshiped false Gods and did wrong in God’s sight.

The Israelites were outnumbered in Canaan, so it was hard for them to defend themselves. What made it really dangerous was the fact that some of the evil men of Canaan were attracted to the Israelite women. Earlier in the Bible (Genesis 34) there is a documented case where an Israelite woman was raped by one of these Canaanite men.

The Egyptians would not try to procreate with the Israelites because the Israelites were mainly shepherds and servants and the Egyptians looked down upon them, so this captivity in Egypt could be used by God to bring about a positive result for His people. Since the Egyptians did not consider the Israelites as their equals, the Egyptians wouldn’t be tempted to “lay” with them. During the years spent in slavery, The Lord’s army could GROW and stay Pure!

 

 

Connection to us

  • It is easy for us to see God's love in the Exodus stories because we are able to SEE the FULL picture.
  • We cannot always do this in our own lives. We do not have the full picture- NOT YET!
  • We see things happening to us and we question "What Good could come of this?”

I am sure the Israelites also wondered how something good could come out of their bondage. Even after their release they may not have TRULY understood the answer, but we can.  Since their story is documented for us in Exodus, we can understand all aspects of it and learn from their past story!

  • We may NEVER get answers to all of our questions in THIS lifetime.
  • Things may happen to us that we never FULLY understand.
  • This is where FAITH in GOD comes in: Faith is the belief, trust, and loyalty to a person or thing.
  • It is VITAL that we in TRUST God.
  • We MUST remain LOYAL to Him.
  • We must BELIEVE that He TRULY LOVES US!!!
  • Faith is BELIEVING that GOD has our BEST interest at HEART even when we DON'T yet see the FULL picture :)

My prayer is that through our continued Exodus study that God will speak to you. That by diving into His Word together your FAITH will become EVEN STRONGER both now and in the future!  We live in a FALLEN WORLD - sometimes bad things happen for NO OTHER reason than that EVIL exists. And sometimes bad things happen to us as a RESULT of our bad decisions. DEATH, PAIN, and SADNESS do NOT come from God. The Lord CAN USE bad things for HIS GLORY, but He does not CAUSE them to happen.

God LOVES EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

God wants to GIVE YOU PEACE

Unanswered questions tend to cause us unrest. God does not want us to live a life full of "unrest.”

HE wants us to have PEACE!

  • Where does PEACE come from?
  • How in the world can you ever feel peacewhen you still feel such pain!
  • When you STILL have UNANSWERED QUESTIONS?!?!
  • The answers to ALL of the above are................. THROUGH GOD!

Steps to PEACE

PEACE, like any other emotion, must be "fed" in order to exist and grow.  We are reflective beings. This means whatever we FOCUS on affects us! If you desire to have a life full of PEACE: you must intentionally control your focus!  Peace comes and grows as you focus more and more on GOD and less and less on your pain.

Have you ever noticed that when you are angry, you become angrier if you focus on the cause of that anger? Have you also noticed that when you are hungry, you will become hungrier if you think about food?   What we FOCUS on AFFECTS us!  Now, let's relate this to PEACE- God is LOVE, God is ORDER, God is PEACE! If we intentionally put our focus on GOD - our PEACE WILL GROW!!!

HOW TO FOCUS ON GOD

Step 1:  Be honest with God! TALK to HIM from your heart!

  • When you are hurt, tell Him! When you are angry - tell Him!
  • Even if He is the one you are angry with- TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT!
  • After you share your pains, ask Him to comfort you. ALLOW HIM TO TAKE YOUR BURDENS FROM YOU! You must release them to HIM!

 

This can be done ANYTIME day or night! Some of us have VERY DEEP wounds.  We may need to pray these things several times per day at first....  that is OK!!!  God is willing and ready to listen! God does not want you to deal with your pain alone!  More than ANYTHING, each one of you needs a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  No relationship can exist without being open and honest with the other person!

Step 2:  Intentionally focus on Peace!

  • Listen to peaceful music.
  • Read peaceful Bible verses; like this good one: “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
  • Take the time to notice the LITTLE things that bring peace into your daily life: flowers blooming, birds chirping, rain falling, etc.  Thank God for these things!  Ask Him to use them to fill you with His PEACE!

Step 3:  Be in charge of your sadness.

As humans, we are blessed with emotions. Emotions can be WONDERFUL things, but they can also be overwhelming!  One emotion can sometimes take over our lives and rob us from feeling other emotions. Don't let this be the case if you are feeling extreme sadness.  None of us ever want to stop feeling - that is for sure, but on the same note, none of us want to be CONTROLLED by our emotions either!

Pray to God that HE will help you "budget" your sadness! Ask Him to help you determine an appropriate amount of time every day to focus on your sadness AND THEN let it go for that day!

This week we read how God will sometimes allow difficult things to happen to His people for their own good. We learned that God allowed the Israelites to be slaves in Egypt as a way to protect them and keep them "pure."  We also discussed how at other times difficult things happen simply because we live in a fallen world.  In both instances, God approved or not, God CAN use the experience to GROW us.

GOD CAN CREATE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL OUT OF OUR PAIN.

 

 

Poem/Discussion Questions

 

Beauty for Ashes-

Is your heart heavy, are you in pain do your troubles . . . fall like acid rain?

Are you in mourning, is your heart broken do you feel as if . . . time has been frozen?

Are you in despair, haven’t a notion are you just going . . . through the motions?

Do you feel hopeless, times hitting you hard has anguish left you . . . despondent and scarred.

Well don’t you give up, don’t fall into a heap joy will come after all the tears you weep.

God’s making something, beautiful out of you . . . just give Him your cares and all things He’ll make new!

~~~~~~~

Copyright 2014 Deborah Ann Belka

  1. Is there a time in your life when you did not understand something that God allowed to happen?
  2. During this time how did you react to God?  Did you run towards Him or away from Him?
  3. If you were mad at God, did you tell Him?
  4. How did God react to you? Did you sense that He was trying to tell you something?
  5. Did God bring anyone into your life to comfort you and try to lead you closer to Him?
  6. Do you find it easy or difficult to let God have your pain?  Why?
  7. How has God grown you through a painful experience?
  8. What is your big “takeaway” this week?

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