Rebecca Duvall

Home » Posts tagged 'Bible Study Fellowship'

Tag Archives: Bible Study Fellowship

Sayings of Agur

Proverbs 30 rock badgerProverbs 30

Sayings of Agur

The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.

This man’s utterance to Ithiel:

“I am weary, God, but I can prevail. Surely I am only a brute, not a man; I do not have human understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One. Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know!

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

“Do not slander a servant to their master, or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.

“There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers; those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among mankind. “The leech has two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ “The eye that mocks a father, that scorns an aged mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures. “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman. “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’ “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat, a contemptible woman who gets married, and a servant who displaces her mistress. “Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; hyraxes are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks; a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces. “There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing; a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king secure against revolt.

“If you play the fool and exalt yourself, or if you plan evil, clap your hand over your mouth! For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Vs 1-33

Proverbs 30:8

The beginning of this chapter is very odd. It opens by stating it’s the sayings of Agur, an oracle. One definition I found of an oracle in the dictionary is a person who delivers authoritative, wise or highly regarded words. This definition would be fine and dandy, but Agur’s opening words tell us he is ignorant of men, has not learned wisdom and does not know the Holy One. He goes even further by asking if anyone could tell him the name of God and His Son Jesus. This does not sound like something an ‘oracle’ would say. It sounds to me like his elevator doesn’t quite go to the top floor.

Then in verses 5-6 Agur makes a bold statement about God; His words are flawless, He is a shield to those who seek Him. He continues by saying Gods words are not to be changed and if we attempt to change them the truth will come out and we will be punished.

Agur then asks God for two things: keep lies far from him and only give him what he needs daily. He understands that have too little or too much can cause him to turn from God.

The next section talks about those who: curse their families, only do good in their own eyes, those with scornful eyes, who use their mouths as weapons, and the family of the one who uses others for personal gain will be takers, not givers. I think this is meant to me a brief warning to stay away from people like this. Do you know anyone like this? Will you say a prayer for them?

In the remainder of this chapter we are given riddles in lists of 3’s and 4’s:

  • The grave, the barren womb and land are never satisfied and the grave, the barren womb the land and the fire never say “enough”.
  • The way of an eagle, a ship on the seas and a snake on a rock he finds amazing. Yet he does not understand the way of an eagle, a ship on the seas, a snake on a rock or a man with a maiden.
  • A servant who becomes king, a fool who is full of food and an unloved woman who is married are three things that make the earth tremble. The fourth, a maidservant who displaces her mistress, the earth cannot bear.
  • The ant, coneys (rock badger aka hyrax), locusts and lizards may be small, but they are also extremely wise. (That sounds like the beginning of a good joke….an ant, coney, locust and lizard walk into a restaurant…)
  • A strutting rooster, a he-goat and a king with his army around him are elegant in their stride, but a lion also moves with majestic bearing.

I think three and four must have been Agur’s favorite numbers. Which of these analogies spoke to you and why?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for reminding us Your Word is flawless. I pray You would speak to us through your Word as read it daily, Amen

Proverbs 30:5

Is The Grass Greener?

greener grassHave you ever felt like everyone had ‘more’ or ‘better’ than you? My husband and I have, and were recently about to go down a path that we thought would be beneficial to our family. We felt it was a financial move we needed to make so our family would be better off. I even made the comment to someone, “We need to look out for our family, because no one else will”.

I have to say, I am extremely thankful for Jesus and what He did for me, and you, on the cross. His death on the cross, gave me, and you, direct access to God and the help of the Holy Spirit while hear on earth. When I say direct access, I mean through prayer. We can take all of our questions, concerns or comments, no matter how small or large, to God. We can ask Him for guidance or help with anything! Believing He will answer us. Isn’t that awesome?

Prayer is exactly what my husband and I did as we were mentally preparing for the move we thought we needed to make. I can honestly say, my prayer, which was for clear direction this was His will, not our own, was answered, but not in the way I expected. I was expecting a simple sign, any sign that would show us whether or not He wished for us to stay or go. Instead, I felt conviction. A very uncomfortable conviction.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been studying the life of Moses in the BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group I’m in. We continually read how the Israelites grumbled and complained over and over again to God. They were thirsty, they were hungry, they didn’t want to do things God’s way, they wanted different food, they didn’t like who God appointed as their leaders, and a few others I’m not mentioning.

As I prayed and worked on this study, God showed me how we’re acting in a way similar to the Israelites. Us thinking we needed to move ourselves to a different place so we could give our family more, was telling God we were not happy with what He had given us. God brought to mind when the Israelites complained the manna was no longer desirable and they wanted quail. God gave them the quail, but so much that they became sick from it. What they thought they needed, they didn’t, and God knew it. What God was giving them was sufficient. What they thought they needed only made them sick. (Numbers 11)

In this weeks BSF study (Numbers 20) Moses and Aaron lose the blessing of leading God’s people into the promised land filled with milk and honey. Moses and Aaron failed to trust God and honor him as holy. When I read this verse, Number 20:12, I became very sad for Moses and Aaron. They had done so much and had dealt with a lot. Then I thought, how could they be so stupid? Why couldn’t they keep it together just a little longer? They were so close!

As I was beginning to get angry with Moses and Aaron, I realized I was acting just as bad as they were, and probably much worse. We were complaining about where God had placed us, as if we could possibly know better. I suddenly felt ashamed and embarrassed of even thinking we knew better than God, what was best for our family or that we could go out and get it on our own. God loves our family and us more than we could imagine or comprehend. God has exactly what we need. We couldn’t possibly get anything better than what He has for us. The last thing we want is to lose a blessing God has planned for our family.

Be still Psalm 46 10

When my husband and I began talking about the blessings we have received from God, I became overwhelmed, seeing God as omniscient and powerful. I realized God has provided my husband and I with a unique life so we’re able to serve Him. We went through a few trials to get here, but I can see how it’s all to be used for God’s glory. We must simply trust and serve as He leads. I find it hard, at times, to be content when the world around me tells me I need more or better. The Lord has blessed my family and I with much. Will you please pray for my husband and I? Please pray that we would remember to be thankful for all we have and act accordingly. Also, that we would look to God for all our needs and desires trusting He will provide.

To answer the question in the title of this post ‘Is the grass greener?’, I strongly believe ‘no’ is the correct conclusion. No matter where you are or what you have, you will experience trials in your life. Some small, with little effort needed to get through. Others can be, and probably will be, life changers that will take everything you’ve got, emotionally, mentally and sometimes even physically. Trust God has you exactly where He needs you and let Him use you right where you are for His glory. Let Him bless you so you can be a blessing to those around you.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for all you give us, even though we are not deserving. I pray we would act in a way that shows others we trust You and see You as holy, Amen.

He Is Holy

sunrise‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy’ ~ Leviticus 19:2

This statement, among a few others, have been stuck in my head for several weeks now. It’s convicting. It made me realize I don’t treat God as a holy God. I always see Him as a healer, a loving God, a God of grace and mercy. I see Him as a God with the perfect plan and timing. He is a God of detail and perfection. He is almighty and powerful. I can go on and on.

It’s weird, now that I think about it, how I never really thought of Him as a holy God. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it makes Him seem unreachable. Like I could never measure up to a holy God. It’s easier to think of God as a friend, teacher or Father, than holy.

In Exodus 31:13, One of the many things God tells Moses to tell the Israelites is, ‘I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’

There is nothing I can do to make myself holy. God desires me to be holy and God alone can make me holy. How does God make me holy?

Over the past few weeks in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) I’ve been reading and learning about the many sacrifices the Israelites had to make daily and The Day of Atonement sacrifices that needed to be made yearly. I’ve also learned how they all pointed to the one sacrifice made on our behalf by God’s Son, Jesus Christ. He was the perfect lamb, sinless, who died for our sins.

So how does this help us to be holy? This made a way for us to have direct access to God. Jesus, the Son of God, interceded on our behalf. Because God is holy, we as sinners could not have direct access to God. Only the High Priest, once a year, could go before God, after several sacrifices were made. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for me and for you, for everyone!

Now that we have direct access to God we can go before him day and night. We can call upon him 24/7. As we do this, He will change our hearts. He will fill us with His desires. He will equip us to do His will. This is how He begins to make us holy. Reading his Word, the Bible, and studying His Word with others will also help us become more holy. The Bible is the living word of God. Reading and studying it will help us understand His heart and His love for us.

During the lecture last week at BSF, the teaching leader said something that completely changed the way I pray throughout the day. She said “You can’t just saunter up to God, you must do things His way.” After hearing this, I could hear God saying to me ‘because I am holy’.

Many times throughout my day, while driving, getting ready for the day or cleaning, I would start praying for people, places or circumstances. I would put thought into who or what I was praying for and try to be as detailed as possible. I figure, the more detailed I am the easier it will be to see when a prayer is or isn’t answered. I never gave any thought, really, about who God was. I simply started praying, believing prayers would be answered and He was listening. I didn’t think about what God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit did for me so that I could have the relationship with them that I had. I had completely taken it for granted.holy holy holy

I no longer wish to saunter up to God. I want to go before God clearly understanding how Holy He is. I want to go before God with a grateful heart. Grateful to be in a close relationship with Him. Grateful to have Jesus who continues to intercede on my behalf. Grateful for the Holy Spirit that lives within me and guides me throughout my days. I wish to go before God praising and thanking Him for all He has done, before bringing my requests to Him. Even if I only have a few minutes to pray, praise and thanksgiving should come first.

We will never be as holy as God, but God can begin to make us holy by us first remembering He is a Holy God and treat Him as so. This is a choice we must each make in our heart. What does your heart say?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, you are holy. You are the maker of heaven and earth, our creator and provider. Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus, who You sent to intercede on our behalf. I pray Lord, we remember, throughout our days, how holy you are. I pray this transforms our hearts and minds so that we may be holy, as you wish us to be, Amen.

Plugged In

chairsNot to long ago, I read a devotional that said only God can change someone or a circumstance. I think the point was for us to tell God how we wished for a person or circumstance to be different. In other words we should pray about it.

This got me thinking about the importance of prayer and how sometimes I feel like I’m hitting my head upside a rock when I pray. Sometimes I’m so upset, sad, frustrated or angry that I can’t find the words or desire to pray. Sometimes I feel like my prayers are being unheard. That’s not true, I do believe God hears my prayers, but sometimes I don’t see or hear anything happening. It could be because it’s simply not God’s will for what I’m asking at the time. As frustrating as that is, I get it. God has a much bigger and better plan.

So then what do you do when you want to hear from God but feel at a loss when praying? Get plugged in! No, I don’t mean get on your phone, computer, gaming system or television. I mean get plugged in to people.

Recently, I’ve been upset, sad, frustrated and angry regarding my husband’s health issues. I’ve been praying continually for God to be in the details and to receive His peace while waiting for things to get figured out. I then realized I had become numb to the prayers. My prayer was set on repeat, with no emotion or even expectations.

I needed help. I needed the prayers of others. I needed others to be praying for my circumstances, my husband and especially me. Along with prayers, I also needed the encouragement of others. I needed to hear that others cared for me, loved me and would pray for me. I needed to be reminded that all would be well. I needed to be reminded of the light because I felt as if the darkness were closing in.

This past week I received the help I was in need of. How? Through the groups of people I am plugged into. I reached out to the people in my small group Bible study as well as the ladies in my BSF leaders group. It’s wasn’t easy, but I knew I needed their prayers to help get my heart and mind back on God and His almighty power. Sometimes it’s hard to share your fears and/or failures with others and ask for help, but that’s what being in a group of friends is for. Sometimes you come along side someone to offer help and support and other times it’s you who will ask for help and support. It’s just as important to be the receiver as it is to be the giver.Encourage one another

If you are not in some type of small group with your church, or maybe you don’t attend church, I strongly urge you to find a way to get plugged into one. It’s a wonderful thing having others lift you up in prayer. A small group is a safe place to share the trials and triumphs of your life. It’s a place to grow with others. It’s a group of people who will have your back when you need them and who will look to you for help as well. If you need help getting plugged in in your area, please send me a message through my contact page. I would love to help you find a place to get plugged in.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of receiving answered prayers from others. I pray we have the courage to ask those around us for prayers when we are feeling discouraged, sad and frustrated, Amen.

Calm To Chaos

calendarThis year was the first time ever I didn’t want the school year to start. I know it sounds crazy, but we have had the most wonderful summer. We didn’t go anywhere fancy like Disneyland, Hawaii or even on our yearly summer trip to Tahoe. We just stayed home and hung out. We had many late nights watching movies followed by many late starts to the day. There was a little shopping here and there, but mainly staying home and connecting as a family. It was a calm summer and I wasn’t bored once! Usually, I can’t sit still and need to be working on something.

Since school has started, we are now on day 17 (not that I’m counting or anything 😀 ), it’s been one chaotic situation after another. I tell you, when it rains, it can most definitely pour! It feels like the kids have been in school for months! Usually, when school starts we slip immediately into a routine. Not this time. I haven’t had two days the same yet. Each day has brought something chaotic, unexpected and unwanted into my day. My calendar is continually changing and I feel like I’m lost in a maze!

The end of last week I snapped! I felt completely overwhelmed and inadequate for what was needed of me. My instinct was to run. Run far far away. This was the kind of overwhelmed feeling that ‘calgon’ couldn’t even fix.

It was the night before BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) training. This is going to be my second year as a group leader. I was literally freaking out! I told myself there was no way I could take on this kind of responsibility this year. There were too many things going on and to many unknowns. I called the BSF teaching leader and told her I couldn’t do it. I had to quit.

She listened to me explain my situation and give her all the reasons why I couldn’t continue to be a leader. She then tried to help me look outside the box at the situation in a couple different ways. That wasn’t helping. It only caused more panic. Then she began to ask me questions.

  • “Did you pray at the end of last year whether or not God wanted you to be a leader again?” My reply “Yes”
  • “What do you believe God’s answer was?” My reply “Yes, I had a very strong desire to be a BSF leader again.”
  • “Do you believe God knew about everything that was going to happen once school started?” My reply “Yes”
  • “Do you think God would have given you that desire if He didn’t want you to be a leader again?” My reply “No”

As I was being asked these questions, I realized I had expected to figure out and deal with each of these chaotic situations on my own. I knew God was there, but I wasn’t looking to Him for any answers. I was acting as if I alone had to work out my schedule, as well as everyone else’s. I assumed everyone around me had expectations of me that I didn’t think I could live up to.keep calm

I then began to remember all of the amazing things God did for me during the previous BSF year. He always gave me special pockets of time to get my study done even when I complained that I didn’t see how I would get it done because I was to busy. But that’s the key; I talked to God about it. Well, not really talk, more like complain and whine. But still, I communicated to God what I was going through and looked to him for the answers. This time I kept it all in my head and tried to figure it out myself. Why, you may ask. Well, I’m not sure, but I do feel like a stupid idiot for letting myself get all worked up about it.

Thankfully, by the end of the conversation I had with my BSF teaching leader I realized I needed to bring God back into the mix. I had some how forgotten to include Him in my chaos. I can’t tell you that things magically got better over night. There are still some chaotic things going on in my life. What I can tell you is, I feel calmer and at peace in the midst of my chaos.

I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Romans 12:12, as our prayer for today, which God has reminded me of recently.

Be joyful in hope (Believe God is there in the midst of your chaos)

Be patient in affliction (Trust God in His timing)

Be faithful in prayer (Always talk to God)

JoyfulPatientFaithful 2

Bittersweet

BittersweetThis has been a very emotional week for me.  One minute I’m celebrating how God has enabled me to serve, and then the next minute I’m crying because this chapter of serving is over.  Yes, I’m a crier and always need tissue on hand, but usually fail to have it.

A year ago God called me to be a BSF leader at the end of my first year participating.  To be completely honest, I was excited to see what God would do with me, through me and for me as a BSF leader.  I was also terrified.  Terrified I would fail God and not meet the expectations of others around me.

As I sat with my group for the first time back in September, I found myself feeling unprepared to teach this wonderful group of ladies.  During my freak-out moment I told God (quietly in my head) He had made a mistake.  I told him I didn’t know enough.  To calm me down and help me focus on the ladies in front of me, God whispered “Shhhhhh.  Rebecca.  I will teach, you will lead. Now pay attention.”  Or something like that.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:24

I had forgotten that God promises to enable us for all He calls us to.  God knows me better than I know myself.  He knows what I am capable of. All He needs from me is a willing heart to follow His lead.  From the moment God calmed me during that first day as a BSF leader I have listened to my ladies and guided them through the lessons while relying on God’s prompting.  This has been an amazing year full of growth and blessings.  I’m sad it’s now over. This time is truly bittersweet.

Today was my last day as a Group Leader with this particular group of ladies.  Over the course of the last 9 months I have grown to love each of them.  I have learned a lot from each of them.  They each shared their trials and triumphant moments with me.  We prayed together and for each other.  We studied God’s Word and grew closer to God, together.  Each of the beautiful ladies in this group helped me see and appreciate life in a new and magnificent way.

The extra bonus to being a BSF leader is the remarkable women that lead alongside me.  They each have such a heart for God.  They help me remember, every week, that we don’t do this alone.  God is there for us and will guide us through it.  We are there to encourage one another.  We share our struggles with being a leader and life.  We also praise God together as He answers our prayers and reveals Himself to us.  We study the Word of God together and share what we have learned.

I am incredibly thankful for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship).  If it wasn’t for this program I probably never would have meet all of these warm hearted women.  They have each helped me be a better me.  I will miss each of them over the next few months.  I believe God will give me another amazing group of women in the fall and we too will grow together as we study God’s Word.  I’m looking forward to the next chapter of this journey.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the people you place in our lives that draw us closer to You.  I pray we show our gratitude and thankful heart to encourage those who help us in our time of need, Amen

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:16-21

 

Fellowship, Worship, Teachings, Praise God!

worshiping togetherThis past weekend was the mountain top experience I mentioned in an earlier post, Up On The Mountain Top. It was absolutely amazing.  There were 3100 BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) leaders from Hawaii, California and Nevada.  It was truly a special gift to have this time of fellowship with the leaders in my BSF group.  It was also wonderfully exciting to meet and chat with leaders from other areas.  The time we had to worship together as the body of Christ was incredible! I can’t put into words what I felt when we all stood and sang Hymns.  I was brought to tears almost every time we sang together.  The Hymn ‘Ancient Words’ was my all time favorite.  It danced in my head during the trip home and throughout Monday.  Then we sang it together as a group during our BSF leaders meeting.  I had to fight back the tears it was so moving. (Yes, I’m a sap!)

As I also mentioned before, God had something to teach me during this mountain top experience.  I was excited to see what God wanted to teach me through this experience.  I was excited to use what He taught me and put it into action where I was already working.  I must admit, I did tell God not to dare call me to do something new.  I didn’t want to give up anything I was already doing and I definitely didn’t have time to add something new to my list of responsibilities.

About a week before I headed up the mountain I found a Spiritual Gifts test I took about 3 years ago.  As I read through the results and how those gifts could be used I thought ‘Wow, that’s a big responsibility and would take a lot of time and energy.  I think I’m good doing what I’m doing’.

During the morning on the last day of the retreat we had alone time to be with God. We were given Scripture to look up and pray about, meditate on.  I felt how much God desired for us to read His word when I read Isaiah 55:10-12.  As it says in the passage, we will be filled with joy and peace.  The mountains will burst into song and the trees will clap. What a beautiful picture! A smile came to my face and tears filled my eyes.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do it not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:10-12

A little later I looked up 2 Timothy 3:15-17.  I felt as if God was telling me he had already given me the tools I needed to do His works.  The Holy Spirit and His Word, the Bible.  With these tools He would equip me for all He calls me to do.  At that moment I thanked God for these tools.  I told God that if He did have another call or a new call, for my life, I would answer.  God knows my fullest potential, so I will trust in His equipping me for whatever He asks of me.  Will I take on any and every job that comes my way?  Absolutely not!  I will take each thing to God.  I will pray for God’s will and guidance to help me know what He wishes me to do.  I’ve been outside of God’s will before (more times than I would like to admit), and it wasn’t pretty.

and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-17

When I returned home from the retreat my husband told me the Sunday Sermon was on fruits and gifts of the Spirit.  Our Pastor even gift in handrecommended a spiritual gifts test to take, which I did after listening to the sermon.  The results were pretty much the same as 3 years ago.  Huh, I wonder what that means?  I think, I hope, I’m making good use of my gifts.  If I’m not, I believe God will let me know.  I think it might be time for me to step things up a bit though.  How about you?  Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?  What are they?  How do you use your God given gifts in your daily life?  Please share, I would love to hear how God has equipped you to use your gifts.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the precious gift of the Holy Spirit and your Word which equips us for all You call us to do.  I pray we take time daily to read your word so we may use it to teach, rebuke, correct, train and equip others for Your good works, Amen

Up On The Mountain Top

mountainI recently had an opportunity to spend a weekend with a few friends up in Nevada City.  We found a cute 2 room cottage at the Nevada City Inn.  It was nice, clean and far from home, so it was all good!  Throughout the day we laughed and cried as we shared our stories.  Stories of our past and current frustrations; recent failures;  pain from being hurt; desires for our families; hopes of the future; dreams of what may be.  Each of these stories had a common thread….God.

Later in the evening we spent some time praising and worshiping God by dancing and singing to some of our favorite music.  I think Mandisa’s song Stronger was the theme for the night.

“The pain ain’t gonna last forever

And things can only get better

Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger”

I’m always looking ahead to the next trip, when I’ll get to escape from my daily routine.  Whether it’s with friends on a retreat, a family vacation or alone with my husband.  Then as the trip comes to a close I find myself wishing the experience wouldn’t end.   So much so that I put myself in a negative mood before returning home.  This was definitely the case this past weekend.

At BSF we’re studying the book of Matthew.  This week’s study was on Chapter 17.  When Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus transfigured up high on the mountain.  What an amazing thing to be a part of.  As we discussed at BSF today, I don’t think Peter wanted this ‘mountain top’ experience to end.  So he suggested putting up tents or shelters.  It could have been because he didn’t know what to do and felt the need to do something, but I think he didn’t want this moment with Jesus, Moses and Elijah to end.  But then God steps in and basically tells Peter to stop and listen.  He needed to pay attention to what was going on to help him be better prepared for what was to come.Potter clay

During the BSF lecture today I heard “Mountain top experiences are not meant to be long term, they are simply preparation for what is to come”. I felt like Peter up on that mountain.  Like God was telling me to stop, listen and pay attention when on the mountain top.

I always looked at the mountain top experiences (time away) as time to unwind, relax, have fun and refresh.  I never saw it as a time to learn something and I certainly never wanted them to end.  I can’t get “preparation for what is to come” out of my head.  It makes me excited for my next ‘mountain top’ experience!

Thankfully I’ll be attending the BSF Retreat in a few weeks.  I am definitely looking at this differently now.  This will be more than a time to escape the daily routine of life and connect with fellow BSF believers.  This will be a time to listen.  This will be a time God will use to prepare me for what is to come.  Oh, I am so excited!  Not for the retreat, well, yes, I am of course excited for the retreat.  I’m even more excited to come back to see what God is preparing me for.  To see how I will get to use what I learn.

I refuse to worry about what God might be preparing me for.  Whether it be a difficult trial or an amazing opportunity, I know God will equip, is equipping, me for all I need.

How do you come down from a ‘mountain top’ experience?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, I thank you for the opportunities to break away from our daily routines. I pray we take time to be still and listen for You during these precious times given to us by You.

Seeking His Will

Over Here no this wayHave you ever stopped to look around and wonder how in the world you ended up doing what you were doing?  Well, I’ve been doing that a lot over the past few years.  Not in a bad way, a good way.  Actually, in more of an exciting scary kind of way.

A few years ago the Pastor at the church we attend, Covenant Community Church, did a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer. He walked us through each line of the prayer so we would understand what we were praying, saying to God, each time we said it.  The line “Your will be done” hit me hard.  I realized I was asking God for His will to be done in my life, but did I mean it?  How would I know if I was doing God’s will or my will?

I started praying for God to show me His will for my life, give me the desire to do His will and to see the opportunities when they came.  Since doing this my world has changed, dramatically.  I have discovered that God’s will for me is way outside of my comfort zone.

God usually gives me the desire, a heads up, to do something before the opportunity comes up.  Probably because I always bring up the The will of Godfollowing points with God why He’s nuts to think I could do such a thing.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this creates some interesting conversations with God.

  • I’m not important/popular enough
  • I’m not smart enough
  • I don’t have enough experience
  • I’m to weird/spazy
  • I’m to busy
  • No one wants ME to do it

Once I get through all of the above points and God is still pointing me in His direction and the opportunity comes about, I’m usually ready to move forward with His will.  Sometimes this takes longer than others, depending on what God is putting in front of me.

Recently, I was telling a friend about my experience being a BSF Group Leader (Bible Study Fellowship).  I was trying to express how much I enjoyed it and especially how I was blessed by the ladies in my leaders group and the ladies in the group I facilitated. The more I talked the more she seemed confused and displeased.  By her comments I got the impression she thought it was a group with too many rules and no place for God.  I began to get frustrated but determined to help her understand that was not the case.  After a quick silent prayer I told her about the compliments I had received since becoming a BSF leader.  She now had a confused look on her face and said “Rebecca, you are one of the spaziest people I know.”  I smiled, looked at her and said “I know”.  After a few moments she said “It’s the Holy Spirit”.  Yes indeed, it was the Holy Spirit!  I am a complete spaz just as my friend had said.BSF-logo

Before I was asked to be a BSF leader God put the idea in my head.  I of course went through the above listed discussion points with God and then dismissed the idea.  A few weeks later I was asked to consider, pray about, being a BSF leader.  I knew then this was Gods will for me. Over the summer as I continued to pray about it I told God I had no idea why He picked me for this or how I would accomplish the task.  I also told Him I completely trusted He knew what was needed to be a BSF leader and wouldn’t let me mess anyone up.  I believed with all my heart God would give me all I needed each and every time to accomplish the task He had put before me.  I have to admit, it is a lot of work, but God provides the time, the understanding family and blesses me for being willing to do His work.

With each new desire God puts on my heart I know I do not have what it takes to do it on my own.  I also know God will work with me and through me, with the Holy Spirit, to accomplish everything He desires of me.

To do listWhen you pray, do you give God a list of things you wish He would do?  Or do you ask God to show you what He would like you to do and how to do it?  Ask God to fill your heart with the desires He has for you.  I promise you will find yourself accomplishing some wonderful things if you do.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the example of Jesus, the Holy Spirit which guides us and your never ending love. I pray we see the opportunities to do Your will and have the courage to act on them, AmenLords Prayer

Reflecting

reflectionThe last few days I’ve been looking back over the year.  At first I thought I hadn’t done anything worth remembering.  Since the previous year I gave my husband a kidney, I thought it would be kind of hard to follow that.  I had to pull out the calendar to help me remember the past year.  This has truly been a year filled with many blessings.

This is my 2013 in a nutshell:

  • January ~ I started writing a book & Robert started the Chaplain academy
  • February ~ I attended a Women’s Retreat at Bayside Church in Granite Bay
  • March ~ I was the speaker for our local MOMSnext group
  • April ~ I attended the Revolve Tour with my daughters
  • May ~ I became a BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) Group Leader
  • June ~ Our oldest daughter graduated High School and we took a family trip to Disneyland
  • July ~ I helped teach the songs & dances for VBS (Vacation Bible Study) & went to Reno with Robert, alone
  • August ~ We had our annual family trip to Tahoe & I started blogging
  • September ~ Robert graduated from the Chaplain academy and my daughter & I walked in the Avon Walk, San Francisco
  • October ~ A friend and I volunteered at the Women of Faith, Sacramento
  • November ~ Robert and I had another trip, alone, to San Diego
  • December ~ it’s been a wonderful relaxing time with family & friends2 timothy 1 7 blue

Many of the things listed above I would never have guessed I would have done this year, or any year.  I was always afraid to try new things.  I was afraid I wouldn’t do it well, or I would some how or another make someone upset for not doing it the way they thought it should be done.  My fear was holding me prisoner.  My fear was keeping me from doing the things I wanted to do.

Through prayer, I turned all my fears, and desires, to God.  I continue to do this regularly too.  I make sure God knows my desires and my fears behind them.  This way, when an opportunity or situation comes my way, I believe it’s from God.  I have faith God will be there with me.love greater than fear

The past few summers I thought the person jumping up and down to the VBS music, teaching the kids the dance moves was the luckiest person there.  It looked so fun and I wished I could do it.  So when I had the opportunity to help with it last summer I couldn’t say no.  I have to tell you, I cannot sing and I do not pick up on dance moves quickly, but I sure did have fun! I’m looking forward to doing it again next year too!

Every week the Pastor of our church recites John 15:5 ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’

I love hearing this each week.  It reminds me God doesn’t expect, or want, me to do anything without Him.  He wants to be a part of every detail of our life & everything, anything, is possible with God.vine branches

So I encourage you.  No…..I double dog dare you!  Spend some time with God, telling Him your desires and fears.  Maybe even write them down.  Then pay attention, because next year is going to be an amazing year with God by your side!

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I thank you for the Holy Spirit which dwells within us. I pray you reveal to each of us your will for the coming year.  I pray we each take more quiet time to hear your will and act quickly when we do, Amen

%d bloggers like this: