Monday, May 17, 2010

Trusting God When You Have A Lot To Lose

In almost coming to the conclusion of our 12 week Bible Study on "Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God" by Shelia Walsh, we pick up this week on # 11, Trusting God When You Have A Lot To Lose. Won't you join me in this study today?

I want you to imagine a scenario where you are interviewing a large group of women who have no involvement in the church. Your question to them is this, "When you hear the word Christian, what images come to your mind?" What kind of responses do you think you might receive? The answers might vary some by location. But if you took a slice out of all the responses you received, I'm sure you would hear a few of the same words:

  • Judgmental
  • Hypocritical
  • Legalistic
  • Out of Touch

A long list of what we are "against".

It is a sad indictment when we are defined by what we stand against. What if we were instead known for the same passionate love that compelled God to send Christ to a broken world, a world beyond repair apart from him? I think at times we have lost the heart of the gospel, which is the love of God, and held on to what we perceive to be correct behavior.

I used a hairdresser for almost a year before he acknowledged that he had known from day one who I was. "I know that you were on Christian television, and I assumed I wouldn't like you. But you're not what I expected." I asked him what he expected. "Someone who judged me," he answered quickly. "But you accept me, you make me laugh." I took that as a compliment.

When Christ stepped into Nicodemus' world he was not what Nicodemus expected. It shook every preconceived idea that he had. Wouldn't it be a glorious challenge to step into our world today and not be what a watching world expects?

FIND ~ There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, "Rabbi, we all know you're a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren't in on it." ~ John 3:1-2 MSG

What are some things you see happen that you know are the result of God's work in the world?

We are still seeing people giving their lives in altar calls all over the world, missionaries are still being called to spread the gospel of Jesus, and lives that were once shattered are now be healed and made complete again.
Read John 3: 1-17

John 3

Born from Above
1-2 There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, "Rabbi, we all know you're a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren't in on it."

3Jesus said, "You're absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it's not possible to see what I'm pointing to—to God's kingdom."

4"How can anyone," said Nicodemus, "be born who has already been born and grown up? You can't re-enter your mother's womb and be born again. What are you saying with this 'born-from-above' talk?"

5-6Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the 'wind-hovering-over-the-water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.

7-8"So don't be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be 'born from above'—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God."

9Nicodemus asked, "What do you mean by this? How does this happen?"

10-12Jesus said, "You're a respected teacher of Israel and you don't know these basics? Listen carefully. I'm speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don't believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can't see, the things of God?

13-15"No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

16-18"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus spoke the most famous verse in the Bible. Why did Nicodemus need to hear those words?

Because I believe that he was expecting something different than what Jesus was. Even though Jesus was performing all kinds of signs and miracles and do all kinds of things in love, he still didn't know it was him.

Why do we need to hear those words?

Because so many of us are just like Nicodemus. We read the word but how likely would we recognize Jesus if he were to appear just like he did 2000 years ago. Would we be expecting something more?

The people in Nicodemus' time had strong ideas about what the Messiah would look like and do. What are people looking for today?

I believe they are looking for someone to come down and completely solve all of life's problems and provide world wide peace. They are looking for suffering to come to a halt and for life to suddenly be heaven-like.

What is your responsibility when it comes to delivering the Messiah to the world?

I personally believe that we have to let the light of what God's been doing in our lives to mirror Jesus dwelling within. We need to live our lives as representatives of the work he has done and will continue to do in our lives. The fruit we bear is the sign of what is going on within us.

FEEL ~ Jesus told Nicodemus that a person must be born again to see the kingdom of God. How did you feel when you were first born again?

I personally felt like everything I had ever done wrong in my life was gone. I finally felt at peace and loved unconditionally. Just like a new creation!

How has that feeling changed through the years?

The feeling really hasn't changed much but as I have grown in my spiritual maturity, I have never lost sight of God, but there have been times, I have walked away, content to handle life on my own for awhile. It's taken some rough roads to travel on, but I have noticed some growth in my life as well. I realize when I walk with God, the road is easier and when I walk on my own, the challenges are more than I can bear alone.

The first followers of Jesus had to give up everything and follow him. Today, many people view their faith as an add-on to an already busy life. What is the difference between giving up everything and viewing faith as another activity. Which description bets fits you?

Faith is not just another activity. Like I stated previously above. My life is easier to handle when I am walking in faith with God, the day to day things go much smoother, my stress is easier to manage. It's like being with a friend or your hubby everyday and having to deal with the challenges of life, is so much easier when you have someone to help you with it. Jesus is our someone to help us bear the burden and share the load. What are impossible challenges to us, become possible with His help.

The people of the first century had specific expectations of the Messiah. What do you expect the Messiah to do in your life?

I would say, I wouldn't expect God to make my life any easier and remove all my sufferings and storms, but rather to strengthen me through them and help me to grow so that I can become a better person, a reflection if you will of Jesus working through me.

Have you ever been in a place where you knew you needed to speak up for Jesus? How did you feel and how did you respond?

This happens almost daily. My new first response is a quick prayer, seeking Jesus' guidance and words to speak. My intentions are only to speak the truth in love and kindness and do seek the will of God. In doing so, I feel that I can give God the glory and not me personally.

The earthy followers of Jesus were criticized and threatened because of their faith. How would persecution affect your faith? Would it be stronger or weaker as a result?

Jesus told us in His word that we as believers would all face possible persecution. So if I were to find myself faced with that challenge, I would like to think I would stand true in the face of it. Being joyful because I would know I am doing something worthy for God and thus my faith would be increased because of it. I know Jesus will be with me in all things and He will never ever let me go through anything alone. The word also states that He will never put us through any circumstance that we are not prepared to handle. So if I am in the middle of something, I trust God will bring me through it, not abandon me in it.

FOLLOW ~ Nicodemus and Joseph had to leave behind everything they knew to start again in a new city, but they were starting with the experience of having seen Jesus with their own eyes and knowing Him as the risen Son of God. What if you were called to follow God, too, leaving behind everything you have - but the call was your first introduction to the truth that God is real and personal? Would you start to trust him when you have no history with him? Why or why not?

In my baby beginnings as a Christian, I would say I would be more likely to give it all up and follow because I remember that strong flame of knowing God and wanting to do everything and anything for him. Now, I know that nothing I own belongs to me but is blessed and given to me by God, so losing it would be nothing. It all belongs to him anyway. He can take it back any time He wants as well as increasing what I already have. You have to willing to lose it all and take up your cross and follow him. That is the sign of spiritual growth in your life, when you realize that everything we own belongs to God anyway.

If you were certain your life would reach its full potential if you gave total control to Christ, would you be willing to give him control? Why or why not?

Its not so much expecting anything, its realizing that everything we have right now, our homes, cars, jobs, families, material possessions, everything belongs to God. We are nothing without Him, and once we can come to terms with that, we can truly know what it is to serve God and love Him unconditionally.

Summarize the instructions of John 3:16, by completing the following statement:

Because Jesus said, whosoever believes in Him shall not have perish but have everlasting life... I will, believe in Jesus that He is who He said He is, and is the Son of God, and believe that He came here to save us all so that we can have eternal life.

Now write a prayer asking God to continue to remind you of your commitment to him and his promise of eternal life. Use this prayer as a part of your daily time with God and as a reminder that the most meaningful life you can live is the life lived for God and His purposes.

Abba Father, I truly place all my faith and trust in You and Your Word. I believe that whosoever believes in You shall not perish but have everlasting life. Everything I have belongs to You. I want everything I do and say each day to reflect the life of You living within me and to surrender my heart, my mind, my soul and my strength to You and let everything glorify Your Name. Please use me in whatever way You need me to further Your kingdom and to do Your will. I am willing! In Jesus' Mighty Name ~ AMEN


Denise said...

Such a wonderful post my friend.

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christy rose said...

It is so true that everything we have belongs to Him anyway, so how can we lose anything.

Great post Kat!!

NanaNor's said...

Hi dear sister, Loved this post-makes us stop and really think about our lives. Love your prayer at the end as well. Have a blessed day.
Hugs, Noreen

Darcie said...

What a great study this has been Kat, and how wonderful that you can share so much in depth with all of us. Thank you my friend!

Mich said...

Great post...

Happy Monday!


I taught another study by Sheila Walsh but I just love the title of this one:
"Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God" by Shelia Walsh, because that is exactly what has been happening in my life - especially over the last 4 years when I began to TRUST God with my whole heart in a whole new LIGHT!

God has an obsession to be TRUSTED! And it took me a long time to understand what that meant. I'm just beginning to peel back the layers of it now! But I am a living example of what beautiful things do happen when a woman trusts God!

Choosing JOY,
thanks for sharing her heart!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

Great post! Some good truths here.