Faith: God’s Gift to Man

Icebreaker:  What do you consider a great reward?

Text:  Genesis 15:1-6

1)  Even though Lot and Abram parted ways, Abram comes to Lot’s rescue when he and his family are kidnapped.  There was still the covenant of blood between the two.   Q:  Have you ever had to help someone that you’ve decided to back away from?

2)  In doing so, Abram came against several kings and armies, and won.  However, he may have created many enemies for himself.  The king of Sodom expected Abram to keep the spoil from this skirmish, but Abram refuses.  This next chapter begins with God telling Abram not to fear, but that He is Abram’s shield, AND that He is Abram’s reward.  Perhaps Abram was afraid that by protecting Lot, he had opened a can of worms politically for Himself.  Perhaps He was second guessing his decision not to take any of the spoil, but here God tells him that He is his reward.

3)  Abram responds with “What will you give me?”  He understands that God means to bless him.  He sounds like he’s reminding God of His former promise.  Q:  Have you ever had a child remind you of something that you’ve promised them?

4) God decides to give him a point of contact…the stars in heaven, so that whenever he sees these stars, his faith can be encouraged.  I  have a friend whose husband had to go out of the country for three weeks.  His two year old daughter was starting to lose sight of how long it would be before daddy would be home.  So, she made her daughter a chart.

My friend gave her little girl a picture of faith…something that she could look at when she started to believe that Daddy would never come home.  Q:  Has God ever given you a visual so that you were able to keep the faith?

5)  Richard Foster says:  “Faith in the promise itself is also a gift of the Promise Maker.  Even our faith is a gift from God!  We can ask God for more faith.  He will encourage us when we feel weak in faith.

6)  Now, God says that Abraham believed, and He counted it as righteousness to Abraham.  There still was no proof that God would do what He said, but Abraham believed nonetheless.  He trusted God at His Word.  Hebrews 11:1-2 and 6 says, 1Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. 2God accepted our ancestors because of their faith…6No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Here we see again reward and faith spoken of together.  a)  We must believe in God.  b) We must believe that God is a rewarder.

7)  Hebrews 11:8 says, “Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going. ”  Faith causes obedience to God’s instructions.  God’s instructions lead to an inheritance (or reward).  Faith leads you to the unknown.  Q:  Tell of a time faith has led you to the unknown.

8)  By faith Abraham stayed and waited for the promise  according to Hebrews 11:9-10.  I am sure there were many times Abraham looked up at the stars for encouragement.  Q:  What can we look to for encouragement in our faith?  Romans 10:17

9)  Q:  How can we increase our faith?  In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith.

10)  Jude 20 says that praying builds up our faith.  Let’s pray and ask God to build our faith the way He did for Abram.  Remember:  Faith in the promise itself is also, a gift of the Promise Maker.  Richard Foster

Settling Strife and Deciphering God Purposed Relationships – Blogger’s Bible Study

Icebreaker:  Tell of a time when a sibling or your children had a disagreement over an item?

Text:  Genesis Chapter 13

Looking back to the end of the last chapter

1)  After God told Abram which land belonged to him, he traveled there to find that the land was occupied and then there was a famine.

2) Abram went to  Egypt (even farther from his “Promised Land”) with his family to escape the famine.

3)  Abram became very rich there.

4)  Abram returned to the place where he celebrated God’s goodness…to the altar where he acknowledged what God had done in his life.  Genesis 13:4  Q:  What kind of “place” can we return to after hardship, and circumstance make things look as though God’s promise will not come through?

5)  Abram sought to end the strife between Lot’s workers and Abram’s workers.  In his desire to put an end to the strife, he offered Lot his choice of land.  When seeking to end strife, it is important to keep the other person’s best interest in mind.  Q:  What kind of strife do you find yourself in?  How can this be resolved?

6)  So Lot chose the best for himself.  From the beginning, Lot has not been a blessing to Abram.  Perhaps this is because Abram was told to leave his family, and Lot came along.  Now he chooses not to honor Abram with the kindness of giving him the best of the land. He also chose the cities and the cultures that were existing rather than the plains.  This choice plays into Lot’s life later, because he seems to never have left the culture of his past.  He moved as close as he could to the most evil city around, and according to verse 13 surrounded himself by sinners.  Q:  What happens when we surround ourselves by an evil culture and sinners?

7) Dr. Robb Thompson says, “If God wants to bless you, He brings a person into your life, if Satan wants to curse you, he brings a person into your life.”  Q:  Tell of a time when either of these things has happened in your own life.

8) The Lord reaffirms His promise to Abram after the strife, and Lot are away from his life.  It is possible that Lot was keeping Abram from all God had for him in some way.  Q:  What are some circumstances that you’ve witnessed either in your own life or the lives of others where a person has held someone back?

9)  Dr. Robb Thompson also says, “There are rules both to enter into and remain in relationship.”  Q:  How does the story of Abram and Lot exemplify this? QWhat does this story teach us about changing the proximity of a relationship?

10)  The people we allow access into our lives make a difference.  This week, inventory your relationships and decide which relationships are there as a blessing, which are there for you to be a blessing, and which are there to distract you from His purposes.

Taking Courage When Leaving the Comfortable – Blogger’s Bible Study

Icebreaker:  Tell about a time that you moved from one place to another.

Read:  Genesis 12:1-8

1.  Abram left his country, and his patriarchal family.  There would be different language, culture, geography and gods.  Everything Abram had known would be left behind.  

2.  God was asking Abram to go to a land he had never been to before.  He could have been moved by the fear of the unknown.

3.  “God cares more about your character than your comfort.”  John Bevere  Q:  How does this relate to Abram’s story?

4.  God promised a blessing with obedience.  Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.  This was definitely an IF/THEN situation.  God didn’t make any promises to Abram in his place of comfort.  Abram would have left a permanent home in order to become a nomad.  Once he got there, other people were occupying this land…and there was a famine.  Q:  Have you ever obeyed a leading God has given you only to have the promise delayed?

5.  Abram built an altar.  As an act of faith and a reminder of God’s promise Abram built an altar in the place God had given him.  Q:   What are some ways that we can build an altar on a promise God has given us?

6.  Share something that you feel God is asking you to do in faith.  Matthew 16: 24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

7.  Prayer:

God, thank you for speaking to me about this instruction you are leading me to fulfill.  Give me the faith of my father, Abraham, so that I can please you.  Help me to obey you with willingness.  Make me more interested in the building of my character than in my comfort.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

The Blogger’s Bible Study – Temptation – Genesis 3:1-12

Icebreaker: Have you ever had a bad habit that you just couldn’t break? What is that habit, and if you are free from it, how did you break it?

Read: Gen 3:1-12

1. Scripture doesn’t say that God said not to touch the tree. Either God spoke with Adam alone, and Adam exaggerated what God said in order to keep Eve away, or Eve exaggerated to the serpent.

Question:  Have you ever exaggerated in order to keep someone away from evil? What might be the danger in this?

2. In verse 5, the serpent says that God knew that if Adam and Eve ate the fruit that they would be like God, but we’ve already learned that Adam and Eve were already like God, they were made in His image.  Satan tempted them to believe that God hadn’t done enough for them, that He was withholding something good from them.  He sowed a seed of ingratitude.

In the book 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp says, “Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

The temptation Satan gave Eve was to believe that God hadn’t given her enough, that God is not good and does not have our best in mind. Isn’t that our temptation today? To believe that God is not good. That He doesn’t care about us or our worries and fears, our problems and temptations?

Question:  In what area have you been tempted to think that God hasn’t done enough, doesn’t care or doesn’t understand?

3. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

How did Jesus resist temptation?
Luke 4:1-12

Jesus was tempted in his body, mind and spirit.
a) Body – food, lust, hunger, fulfillment
b) Mind – riches, power
c) Spirit – Whom will you worship, God, Satan, self?

At each point Jesus used Scripture to fight temptation. Satan used Scripture as well, so not only did Jesus have to know Scripture, but He had to understand it’s intent.

When Jesus was tempted at Gethsemane, how did He resist?

He gave up His right and His will. He trusted that God’s plan had His best in mind…Mankind’s best in mind.

So then, as our example, Jesus shows us that the key to overcoming temptation is to know what God said and to submit to His will.

Eve knew what God said, but she added more to it. When confronted with the fact she wasn’t good enough, she didn’t submit to the fact that God had given her all that she had need of and she didn’t submit to fact that God is good, but instead believed that perhaps God was holding back goodness. She knew what God said, but didn’t trust Him (Jesus successfully resisted this in the Wilderness).   She didn’t submit to His Will (Jesus successfully resisted this temptation in Garden of Gethsemane).

Dr. Robb Thompson says that we must be careful to apply our life to the Word, not the Word to our life.

Question:  What is the difference between these two thoughts, and how can they help us in the area of temptation?

4) When confronted with their sin, Adam blamed Eve and ultimately God, and Eve blamed the Devil. Adams said, “It was this woman, and YOU gave her to me. It’s not my fault.” Eve said, “The Devil made me do it!”

Question: Do you tend to blame others, God or the Devil when you are confronted with wrong choices?

5) “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll ALWAYS be there to help you come through it. I Cor 10:13 Message Bible

When we find ourselves overwhelmed by temptation, we can ask Jesus to help us. He was tempted in every way, He can sympathize with us. He understands.

Application:  This week find Scripture to help you in any temptation you are facing and practice humbling yourself to submit to God’s will concerning that area of your life.

What do C S Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and Desmond Tutu Have in Common?

In the past few years, it seems everything I’ve read has an Anglican connection.  From C.S.Lewis, famous apologist, author and professor, to Madeleine L’Engle, author of Newberry Award winning A Wrinkle in Time, to the endearing Father Tim character in Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

These authors mention The Book of Common Prayer, and Morning and Evening prayers regularly in their writings.  It made me curious.  Being raised in the Salvation Army (similar to Methodist doctrine), and then moving to a Pentacostal upbringing and now landing in what my pastor likes to call a Bapticostal church, the mysticicism of a “high church” order and liturgy has always intrigued me.  After all, what is the difference between reading the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer everyday and reading the Prayers That Avail Much?

I wondered what style of daily disciplines C S Lewis, George Whitefield and George Washington used to enhance their spiritual growth.  Thus began my journey.  A journey towards epiphany. A journey which I am now including you if you are interested.  Because my determined purpose is that I may know Him…

Our christmas tree

This was my very first post here, and though the methods may have changed, the quest is still the same. This year, I will be adding a new tradition to my celebration of advent. I will be going through the devotional that dear Ann has written. I will be doing this primarily alone, even though it is written as a family devotional..although I will be sharing weekly with my Neighborhood Bible Study. Won’t you join me? The devotional is free and available here.