Thinking of Spring

Is it a coincidence that Easter is in the spring?  Of course not!  The symbolism is staggering.  The rebirth of the land; flowers, new leaves, planting season… the proverbial spring lambs and chicks, birds nesting… Ah, Spring!

What is the symbolism to a Christian?  The resurrection, the “born again” experience, (necessary for believers) and baptism, are all symbolic of the righteousness of Christ and fulfillment of God’s promise.  What we do with this and how we view the promise is up to us.  Our free will is constant in our walk towards Christ.  Sanctification is a continual process, one in which our participation is not just needed but required.

How are we sanctified?  This process of growth is a willful freeing of ourselves from the world around us and our daily immersion in things of God.  Sanctification comes when we read God’s Word, when we pray, when we study and council with other believers. It is the work of the Holy Spirit.  It comes when we stop struggling against a habit or a thought and turn it over to God.  It is the place we stand, when we are in that valley experience, and still cling to the truth that God is with us.  Sanctification and spring, each comes in their season, each comes with a predictability that blesses us with abundance.

It is for that abundant life, the renewal of the earth and our spirit, that we wait.  We are told in scripture to wait on the Lord, to walk, to run, to sit, to stand and most importantly to know.  Do we?  Do we, through sanctification, renew our spirits, rejoice in the spring time of our lives that comes when we look, and see, and know that God is?  He has given us so much and in this season of new hope, let us look at the abundance around us.  Along with the new buds and spring flowers, do we see, with joy, the gifts that are around us?

We are wealthy beyond our dreams.  Look around.  Is that house, big or small, a blessing?  What about the clothes you are wearing; the job that you have, can you see the blessings the abundance that you live in every day?

Look at the people in your life and see how abundant they are.  Friends, family, brothers & sisters in Christ, each bringing who they are to you, to fill you up with their love and joy and needs and opinions and pain.  If they allow you to know them, if you strive to know them, you will be sanctified.  Christ came knowing all of us.  He knows our every need and he sees us as we are, can we do less?

Be sanctified and with each step you will be given the abundance of a life full of God’s gifts.  Be sanctified and the pain that you suffer today will be the gift you can give to another in the future; help them understand and show them God’s grace.  Be sanctified and rest in the abundance of this very moment.  Rejoice in today, tomorrow and in the eternal abundant future with Christ.   Look, see and rejoice!

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Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals And Groups – 2016 Schedule

Schedule for Homewords  Bible Study 2016

Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Jean E. Syswerda 2016.

Elizabeth – 01/09/16

The Woman of Samaria – 01/16/16

Herodias – 01/30/16

The Syrophoenician Woman – 02/13/16

Salome, Mother of the Zebedees – 02/27/16

The Widow with Two Coins – 03/12/16

Dorcas – 03/19/16

Leah – 04/02/16

The Woman Who Lived a Sinful Life – 04/16/16

The Woman with the Issue of Blood – 04/30/16

Joanna – 05/14/16

Michal – 05/28/16

The Woman of Endor – 06/11/16

Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups – Schedule Update 08/29/15)

Updated Schedule for Homewords Bible Study.

Women of the Bible : 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Jean E. Syswerda 2015-2016. (We will cover the 28 Women in the book that were not covered in 2014-15)     (Updated 08/29/2015)

Hannah – 09/12/15 – The Woman of Endor (Rescheduled for 06/11/16)
The Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah – 09/26/15 (Fall Pot-Luck/ 10th Anniversary)
The Widow of Zarephath – 10/17/15
Athaliah and Jehosheba – 10/24/15
Huldah – 11/07/2015
Gomer – 11/21/15
Esther – 12/05/15
The Woman of Proverbs 31 – 12/19/15
Elizabeth – 01/09/16
The Woman of Samaria – 01/16/16
Herodias – 01/30/16
The Syrophoenician Woman – 02/13/16
Salome, Mother of the Zebedees – 02/27/16
The Widow with Two Coins – 03/12/16
Dorcas – 03/19/16

“When You Pray to God, What do You Expect to Happen?”

Matthew 11:9-13
“So I say: Ask and it will will be given unto you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

If you then, though you are evil, know to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

When you pray to God, do you really expect a positive response?  Do you expect a response at all? If you are unsure how to answer this question, like many of us may be, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the kind of relationship you have with the heavenly Father.

When is the last time you really talked to God?  When was the last time you really listened to God?  Maybe your prayer-style has not been a conversation where active-listening was used at all.  Here’s an example, a family member comes to talk to you,  the person immediately starts to apologize for not coming sooner or more often.  The person talks about how badly they now need your help with a list of favors, immediately. They further explain their desperation and their need for help as they urge you to get busy answering their requests.  Is this example close to your/family member prayer style?

This would be the time to guide this family member through prayer, because it’s God’s guidance, through you that’s needed. It does little good, I feel, to say to someone who’s wings of faith are in their infancy, “just pray about it!”

Blackaby and King tells us in their book, Experiencing God If you do not have clear instructions from God in a matter,

-Pray and wait

-Learn patience

-Depend on God’s timing

-His timing is right and best.(pg. 75)

Now, we are not God, nor do we understand the mind of God or His Ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).  God is however, availing Himself to us, each day through prayer.

“Prayer is a Relationship to a Person.”

“Prayer is a two-way fellowship and communication–you speak to God and He speaks to you.  Prayer is not a one-way conversation in which you merely list everything you want God to do.  Your personal prayer life may have been primarily one-way communication–you talking to God–but we now learn that prayer is much more than that.

” Prayer includes listening.  In fact, what God says in prayer is far more important than what you say. God already knows what you are going to say.  You, however, do not know what God is thinking.

Prayer is a relationship, not just a religious activity.  Its purpose is to adjust you to God, not align God to your thinking.  God doesn’t need your prayers. but He does want you to pray because of what He wants to do in and through your life as you pray.  God speaks to His people by the Holy Spirit through prayer.” (1, pp 107-108)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing each of us the privilege of communicating with you through the gift of prayer.  We don’t take this gift for granted, but use it to stay on-task with you as we constantly receive your guidance for our lives.  Enrich our prayer life, we pray.  In your name. Amen.

 

1. Blackaby, Henry & Richard, King,Claude, Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing The Will of God.  Lifeway Press 1990. Revised 2007.

2. Scripture from: The New International Version Study Bible, Zondervan, 1973.

 

Originally in Homewords News,July 2011

 

 

Priscilla Bible Study Key Points – for Bible Study March 28, 2015

For our lesson of Priscilla, Acts 18-19, Romans 16:3-4, I Corinthians 16-19, Timothy 4:19 on pages 221-224, in our main text Women of the Bible by Jean E Syswerda.

1.  Her name, diminutive of “Prisca”, means “worthy” or “venerable.” (1.)

2.  Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned six times in four different books of the New Testament and they are always named as a couple and never individually. (See number 4)

3. Of those six references, Priscilla’s name is mentioned first, four times, which is unusual for such a male dominated society.  (2.)

4. Through out Scripture the man is usually named first: Adam and Eve, and Ananias and Sapphira, making the four appearances of Priscilla’s name first, a notable exception.  Examples:

A. Acts 18:2-3: “There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.  And because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.”

B. Acts 18:18: “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time.  Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.  Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.”

C.  Acts 18:26: “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.  When Priscila and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”

D.  Romans 16:3-4: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.  They risked their lives for me.  Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.”

E. I Corinthians 16:19: “The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings.  Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.”

F. 2 Timothy 4:19: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.”

5. While this view is not likely among scholars, some scholars have suggested that Priscilla was the author of Hebrews.  Hebrews is the only book in the New Testament with author anonymity. (3)

6.  Paul met them in Corinth, Acts 18:2: “There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Cladius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.  Paul went to see them.”  Priscilla and Aquila were tent makers, as was Paul.  Priscilla and Aquila had  been among the Jews expelled from Rome by Roman Emperor Claudius in the year 49.  They ended up in Corinth for many months.

7. Priscilla and Aquila were among known the earliest known missionaries. Acts 18:24-26: Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus.  He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately”.

1. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999, pg. 221.

2. Beyond Sex Roles:What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family, Gilbert Bilezikian, Baker Academy, 2006, pp 200-201.

3. NIV Study Bible  (All Scriptures)

Lydia – 10 Key Points for Bible Study on March 14, 2015

Lydia – A Woman of the Bible

by Lisa Jones

Our Lesson on Lydia comes from Acts 16:6-40 in our main text Women of the Bible by Jean E Syswerda. Here are some important points. These points may not directly answer the questions on pages 219-220.

  1. Her name signifies that she was a woman of Lydia, a region in Asia Minor.
  2. She was a Gentile adherent to Judaism.
  3. She is described as a successful businesswoman; because she was a dealer of purple cloth. Purple cloth was expensive and valuable as a sign of nobility or royalty so she was a wealthy businesswoman.
  4. As head of household she was either widowed or single.
  5. So strong was her faith, that her entire household followed her example and was baptized.
  6. She extended hospitality to Paul and his companions, even after their imprisonment.
  7. From the city of Thyatira. This small city was known for its commerce in Asia Minor. It was in an area noted for its abundant crops and the manufacture of purple dye.
  8. A worshiper of God. This term was used for Gentiles who believed in the Jewish God, Yahweh. Although they believed in God, they were not yet believers in Christ.
  9. A woman whose heart God opened. Paul shared the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and through God’s divine work, she believed. She apparently was baptized right away along with the members of her household. Lydia’s household probably included children and servants. Whether the entire household believed or not, they now lived in a Christian home.
  10. A willing servant. When God opened her heart, she believed wholeheartedly. She became a servant, tending to the needs of the missionaries. Later in Paul’s mission, he returned to Lydia’s home where he met with believers. Lydia had apparently become an active member of the church.

Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups – 2015-2016 Schedule

Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups – Schedule

Schedule for Homewords Study

Women of the Bible : 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Jean E. Syswerda 2015-2016. (We will cover the 28 Women in the book that were not covered in 2014-15)     (Updated 08/29/2015)

Rebecca – 04/11/15 (Spring Pot Luck)
Rachel – 04/25/15
Leah – 05/09/15 (Rescheduled for 04/02/16)
Tamar, Daughter-in-Law of Judah – 05/23/15
Potiphar’s Wife – 06/06/15
Rahab – 06/20/15
Jael – 07/11/15
Naomi – 07/18/15
Ruth – 08/01/15 (Rescheduled for 08/29/15)
Hannah – 08/15/15 (Rescheduled for 09/12/15)
Ruth – 08/29/15 – Michal (Rescheduled for 05/28/16)
Hannah – 09/12/15 – The Woman of Endor (Rescheduled for 06/11/16)
The Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah – 09/26/15 (Fall Pot-Luck/ 10th Anniversary)
The Widow of Zarephath – 10/10/15
Athaliah and Jehosheba – 10/24/15
Huldah – 11/07/2015
Gomer – 11/21/15
Esther – 12/05/15
The Woman of Proverbs 31 – 12/19/15
Elizabeth – 01/09/16
The Woman of Samaria – 01/16/16
Herodias – 01/30/16
The Syrophoenician Woman – 02/13/16
Salome, Mother of the Zebedees – 02/27/16
The Widow with Two Coins – 03/12/16
Dorcas – 03/19/16

MARY OF BETHANY —10 KEY POINTS FOR BIBLE STUDY ON February 14, 2015

BY PETRA VAUGHN FEBRUARY 14TH, 2015

Our Lesson on Mary of  Bethany, comes from Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 10:38-42 & John 11:1-12:11, here are some important points. These points may not directly answer the questions on pages 199-200.

1. Mary of Bethany, her name may be “Bitterness” page 196 Women of the Bible.

2. Mary of Bethany, is the sister of Martha and Lazarus, not to be confused with Mary, Jesus’ mother or Mary Magdalene.(John 11:1-2) Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus lived together in Bethany, a village less than 2 miles from Jerusalem.

3. Mary stepped outside of the Cultural expectations of the time by sitting at the feet of Jesus with the men. Luke 10:39, She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

4. Mary annoints Jesus head with very expensive oil in a Alabaster Jar.Matthew 26:7, A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he as reclining at the table. Mark 14:3b a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. John 12:3, Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

5. Jesus took up for Mary, due to her kind gesture of pouring the oil on him, since the gesture seemed to cause an concern for one of the Disciples( Judas Iscariot). Matthew 26:10, Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”Mark 14:6 “Leave her alone” Jesus said, ”Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” John 12: 7, “Leave her alone,” Jesus said, “It was intended, that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.

6. Mary will always be remembered for her gesture of love torwards Jesus. Matthew 26:13 & Mark 14:9, “ I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she had done will also be told, in memory of her.”

7. As Mary sat listening to Jesus, her sister Martha wanted Jesus to make her help her serve. Luke 10: 40-41, But Martha was so distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

8. Mary and her sister sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. John 11:3, So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

9. Mary waited expectantly for Jesus to come while her brother was sick. John 11:28-33

10. Mary wept at the death of her brother Lazarus John 11:32-33

1. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan 2008 Edition (All scriptures)

2. Women of the Bible 52 Bible Studies for Indivuals or groups: Jean E Syswerda

Martha – 10 Points for Bible Study 01/31/2015

From our lesson of  Martha, Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-12:3 , here are some important points. The points do not directly answer the questions on pages 192-195 of the text, but may help you in our discussion of the Saturday Bible Study 01/31/2015.

1. Martha, her name, the feminine form of “Lord”, means “Lady”. (4, page 355)

2.  Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus (John 11:1-2) lived together in Bethany, a village less than two miles from Jerusalem (John 11:18). 

3. All three were intimate friends with Jesus (John 11:5).

4. Martha was the pratical type: the mistress of the house (Luke 10:38; John 12:2) impatient over her sister’s contemplative bent (Luke 10:40) and collected enough in her bereavement to meet Jesus on his approach to Bethany and explain the situation concerning her brother Lazarus’ death (John 11:20-27). (2, page 287)

5.“Distracted with Much Serving ( Luke 10:38-42 ) “This story of Martha and Mary, one of the most exquisite in the Gospels, is found only in Luke. One can no more than guess as to why it is given its particular location in the narrative. Is it because the writer or his source rushed to caution against a conception of Christian life which would make it consist alone in deeds of the benevolent, like that of the good Samaritans? This has been suggested, but is at best doubtful. Still a major point of the story is undoubtedly that service of others is not enough; indeed, that it is possible to be distracted with much serving. It is possible to lose one’s soul in a program of highly useful activities.Our services to others must be in a relation of contract alteration or rhythm with our sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to his word (1, page 197)

6. Martha knew that Jesus had the power to heal (John 11:21).

7 She felt free to ask Jesus for favors (John 11:21).

8. She believed in the resurrection of the dead on the final day (John 11:24).

9. She felt that after a person was dead for 4 days, even Jesus could not raise them from the dead (John 11:39).

10. Jesus visited the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus shortly before the Passover and His death. Martha served a dinner in his honor. (John 12:12).

1. The Interpreter’s Bible, In Twelve Volumes, Volume 8, Abingdon Press, 1956

2. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Volume Three K-Q, In Four Volumes, Abingdon Press, New York 1962.

3. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995. (All Scriptures)

4. Women of the Bible,  One Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture, Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan, 2007.

5. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999.