A New Group in Fifty Days

The majority of the changes in our lives started with a pivotal event. Some were good experiences such and graduations, marriage, birth of children or new jobs. Some of these pivotal experiences were painful such as job loss, divorce, or death of love ones. Whether the experiences were positive or negative, all of these key events started a series of processes which took our lives in new directions.

As we come to the end of the week of the celebration of the death of Christ and His resurrection we are reminded of the greatest changes within any group in history. When Jesus first appeared to the 11 disciples after The Resurrection (Judas committed suicide Matthew 27:3), they were hiding in fear behind closed doors (John 20:19). With the help of Jesus opening their minds to the Scriptures (Luke 24:45), by Pentecost they became the excited voice of the fulfilled New Covenant (Acts 1:15-16).

Like the change of the 12 disciples (Judas was replaced by Matthias Acts1:26), through the pivotal event of the death and Resurrection of Jesus, we also should experience a change when we accept Jesus as our personal savior. This transformation of accepting Christ, not only affords us a personal relationship with Jesus but also should change our lives to always pursue a life-pattern of service to God according to His perfect will (Romans 12:2).

In the months following the celebration of the Resurrection, let us remember to continue to celebrate with the renewal of our life to Jesus the Christ.

(Reprint from Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry, Facebook, May 2011)

Advertisements

Rebekah Bible Study, 10 Points for Bible Study 4/11/2015

For our lesson of Rebekah, Genesis 24; 25:19-34; 26:1-28 on pages 28-31, in our main text Women of the Bible by Jean E Syswerda.

1.  Her name probably means “Loop” or “Tie”. (2, pg.28.)

2.  Her character: Hard-working and generous, her faith was so great that she left her home forever to marry a man she had never met.  Yet she played favorites with her sons and failed to trust God fully for the promise he had made. ( 3, pg. 28)

3. Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel, Abraham’s nephew, sister of Laban, wife of Isaac,and mother of Esau and Jacob. (1, pg. 14)

4. Genesis 24:1-9Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4. but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.(Ft. nt.Gen. 24:2-chief servant in his household. Probably Eliezer of Damascus, see note on 15:2).  Put your hand under my thigh, Near the organ of procreation, probably because this oath was related to Abraham’s last will and testament and called for faithful implementation on the part of his son, Isaac must accept Abraham’s and God’s choice (see also Genesis 47:29 and note). 5. The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land?  Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” 6. “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7. “The Lord, the God of heaven,  who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me an oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’– he will send his angel before you so that you can get  a wife for my son from there. 8. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9. So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter. (2, pg. 56)

5. Genesis 24:10-12 – Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master.  He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water. Then he prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.(1, pg 56.)

6. Genesis 24:15-18Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.  She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.  The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her.  She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. (1, pg. 57)

7. Genesis 24:50-51Laban and Bethuel answered, this is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.  Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed. (1, pg 58)

8. Genesis 24:66-67Then the servant told Isaac all he had done.  Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah.  So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. (1, pg. 59)

9. Genesis 25:21-23Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren.  The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.  The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?”  So she went to inquire of the Lord. The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two people from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”(1, pg.60-61)

10. Genesis 25:24-26When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in the womb.  The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment, so they named him Esau.  After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.  Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. (1, pg. 61)

1. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Volume Four R-Z, In Four Volumes, Abingdon Press, New York 1962.

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

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

Competence Through Christ – 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

2 Corinthians 3: 4-6 (NIV)

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

One of the many messages that I have received from study of scripture is that as we grow into mature Christians we become as Paul states “ministers of a new covenant”, made competent by God. From this original posting and even up to now, I sometimes feel quite the opposite of competent, very immature and lacking confidence. These negative thoughts and feelings are heightened by the belief systems of others. I read a chapter in a book by Jetola Anderson entitled Presumed Incompetent in which she depicted a black woman wearing a suit getting on a plane who was assumed by some as being the flight attendant.

As a woman and African-American I too have had a large share of other’s assumptions and presumed incompetence. There are times when I do feel confident, valued and competent but what I am learning is that relying on my own skills and talents will only take me so far.  The assumptions that others make about my abilities, the erroneous presumptions by others are also traps that take me away from the real mission. Jetola Anderson suggested surrounding oneself with positive people, uplifting literature and I wholeheartedly agree. To become ministers of this new covenant I have to surround myself with God the Father, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit and to do this by reading the word of God. It’s here that I am learning that it’s not about my abilities, talents or skills. Boasting, getting or receiving recommendations or praise are not the important factors. Recognizing that my competence comes from God, that the Holy Spirit has enabled me and “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”; Philippians 4:13. My mission is to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.

At my church (Pinellas Community Church), we have a card that I think states how the mission can be put into practice. It reads: “Dear Lord, Today as I go about my everyday life, help me see how my passion, for You can make an impact for good.”

Originally posted June 2010

Women of the Bible – Priscilla– 03/28/2015

Priscilla is our twenty-second study in our series from Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Jean E Syswerda. The study of Priscilla is found on page 221. The Bible Study will meet 4:00p.m. to 6:00 p.m. For complete information contact Glenda at 727-542-4683.

Our Spring Pot Luck and Open House is scheduled for April 11, 2015. If you have not attended one of our Bible Studies, this is a good time to come and see what we are about. We welcome all visitors, no participation on the Pot-Luck items required, Come and be Our Guest.

For information contact Glenda at 727-542-4683.

God’s love for us never gives out!

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, power is made perfect in weakness” I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

In all circumstance, victorious or adverse, remember that God’s Grace is all we need. God’s ultimate purpose will always win out, but God’s love for us never gives out.

The Shunammite Woman – 17 Key Points for Bible Study 10/25/2014

From our lesson of  The Shunammite Woman, 2 Kings 4:8-37; 2 Kings 8:1-6, here are some important points. The points do not directly answer the questions on pages 127-129 of the text, but may help you in our discussion of the Saturday Bible Study 10/25/2014

1.  No name was found for the Shunammite Woman during this research.  She was described as a well-to-do Woman.  (2 Kings 4:8).

2.  She was generous and hospitable, she was a wealthy and capable woman who showed great kindness to one of God’s prophets. (3, pg. 127)

3.  She said to her husband, ” I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God.  Let’s make a small room on the roof and put a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him.  Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.  (2Kings 4:9-10 and NIV footnote)

4.  Moved by her kindness, Elisha inquired, through his servant, Gehazi, whether he could use his influence with Israel’s King on her behalf.  But the woman wasn’t looking for favors at court, so Elisha pressed his servant, saying, “What, then, can be done for her?”  (2, pg. 227)

She replied, “I have a home among my own people.” (2 Kings 13 and NIV footnote)

5.  Gehazi merely pointed out the obvious: the woman and her aging husband were childless, without an heir to carry on the family name.  So Elisha summoned the woman and made an incredible promise: “About this time next year you will hold a son in your arms.” (2, pg. 228)

6.  The Shunammite Woman’s response: “No, my lord, she objected.  Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!” (2, pg. 228)

7.  But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha told her.  (2 Kings 4:17)

Unlike so many of her female forebears—Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Tamar, Hannah— the Shunammite Woman seemed content without children.  Elisha’s promise, however, was an arrow homing straight to its target, fulfilling the unspoken desire of her heart.  (2, pg. 228)

8.  The child became ill and died, the Shunammite Woman and a servant travelled, with her husband’s knowledge,  to Mt. Carmel to find Elisha.  (2 Kings 4:22-23)

She rushed to him,  exclaiming, “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?  Didn’t I tell you, “Don’t raise my hopes?” (2, pg. 228)

9.  Elisha instructed his servant to go ahead to Shunem,  and how to restore the boy to life in his absence.  The servant followed Elisha’s instructions, but was unable to restore the boy to life.  (2 Kings 4:31)

10.  Elisha arrived at the house of the Shunammite Woman, He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord.  He was able to restore the boy to life.  The Shunammite Woman was told, ” Take your son,” She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out. (2 Kings 4:32-37)

11.  She was warned by Elisha to “go away with your family and stay for awhile wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years”. (2 Kings 8:1)

12.  She followed Elisha’s instructions, by staying in the land of the Philistines for seven years. (2 Kings 8:2)

13.  She returned to Shunem, and went to the king to beg for her house and land. (2 Kings 8:3 and NIV footnote)

14.  At the same time the king was talking to Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. (2 Kings 8:4)

15.  Gehazi told the king how Elisha restored the dead to life. (2 Kings 8:5)

16.  Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son who Elisha restored to life.” (2 Kings 8:5)

17.  “Give her everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.” (2 Kings 8:6)

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

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

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