More Beth Moore.... I'm glad I decided to put these up. I'm having some additional reflections, and it's nice to expand a bit on what I wrote and let God do a bit more work in my life.
In retrospect, can you identify times when you proceeded in a certain direction because of a hunch rather than the confirmed will of God? I certainly have! At times I have asked God's direction, then assumed my first hunch was His will for my life. I'm learning to be more patient and allow God to be more specific if He wishes. No matter how long we may wait for direction, we are wise to ask before we advance. (workbook, p. 90)
A good example is my hunch that I was to move back to Indiana... I actually waited. My hunch was right, but the timing was not right and I experienced the benefit of moving at the right time. I was present in Florida for a work that God intended to do in my life (exposing me to specific teachings via the Foundation Stones class).
Beth's method for testing God's will:
I acknowledge my specific need for direction. Example: "Lord, I have been asked to serve on the pastor's council. I need to know whether or not this council is Your will for my life at this time." I almost always write my question in a journal so that I can keep a record of God's activity in the specific matter. I continue to pray daily and study His Word. I ask Him to help me recognize His answer. He usually helps me recognize His answer by bringing His Word and the Holy Spirit He has placed within me into agreement over the matter. In other words, I resist reading into my situation everything God's Word says. I specifically ask Him to confirm with His Word and His Spirit what He desires to apply to my life. One or two weeks later I might be studying a particular passage of Scripture and His Holy Spirit will draw my attention to it and remind me of my question. The Holy Spirit almost seems to Say, "Look, Beth, that's it!" I ask for a confirmation if I have any doubt.
Yu might ask, "What if the Holy Spirit still hasn't given you an answer when the deadline comes?" I usually assume the answer is no. What works for you? How do you most often receive specific direction from God? (workbook, p. 92)
I appreciate reading this. So often it is tempting to just pray and expect God to confirm an answer by striking peace in my heart, giving me some feeling that I just can't explain. Certainly there are times when He does this--I can point to a couple of them in my life. But generally this is how He works with an immature believer, much in the same way that He answers the unbelief of an immature believer in order to grow the person's faith and wisdom. The fact that Biblical figures cast lots in order to make decisions does not mean that this is now how we do things. We are given their example so that we may learn from it and live with even greater wisdom! Do we throw this treasure away so that we can live with "ease?"
Your life may presently seem unsettled. Perhaps your husband's job keeps you on the move or you're living in an apartment with half your things in storage, waiting on a permanent home. You may even be new to the area, and you can't seem to feel at home. Whatever the reason, you just may feel unsettled.
In what ways could Psalm 119:19,54 be an encouragement to you whenever you feel unsettled? (workbook, p. 93)
I've felt pretty unsettled here in Anderson. I want to settle here, and in my heart I feel that God has promised that this is to be my home. I don't really understand it. Anderson is a dying town with nothing to offer people with disabilities. But it is a church town. I don't have any notions about being called to lead Anderson; but I do feel that this is where Iam to live and this is where my ministry is to be located, that Anderson is to become a welcoming place for people with disabilities. How this is to come about I don't know. It can only come about through God's power.
Few experiences offer the opportunity to reflect on the past like finally settling down and establishing some roots.
I asked you earlier if you ever felt unsettled. Describe how it felt to finally settle into a home, job, church, place of service, or relationship after a long season of unrest. (workbook, p. 93)
I'm not entirely sure that I know. I think I have always felt unsettled, even when it appears on the outside that I should be settled. I have a place to live and a church to attend right now. But my place to live does not feel permanent--it can change based on my parents' decisions regarding the building. I don't feel "settled" in my church, although I'm making very small steps to change that. People point to my activity in the choir, the fact that a lot of people in church know my name, etc. But those things don't make me feel at home in the church. I don't connect with any of the people in the choir on a spiritual/emotional basis; and that makes me very sad. When I was in the hospital, not one of them called or stopped to see me. So choir is something that I do because it's a place of service--and right now I'm not entirely sure it's the right place of service, so I'm taking a break.
Second Samuel 3:1 provides evidence that time plus conflict equals change. We are told that "the war ... lasted a long time. David grew stronger ... while the house of Saul grew weaker." You and I have fought some pretty tough battles in our journeys-battles with temptations, strongholds, doubts, fears, addictions, and compulsions. Some of them have waged for years. No matter what the cause of our battles, time will pass and change will come. Just like David and the house of Saul, we will either grow stronger or weaker. We cannot remain the same after a severe and long battle. We rarely stay the same in times of war. We can't always choose our battles, but we can certainly make choices to affect our outcome. We want to learn to make choices that will cause us to grow stronger rather than weaker.
One of the most repeated themes in the life of David is warfare. One of the most repeated themes in our lives is warfare. The battles of David came as a result of the ultimate overthrow of an old authority
Read Ephesians 2:1-3. What source of much of the warfare we experience does the passage describe?
The Word of God makes us aware of three different enemies we have as Christians. Each of these unite under our old authority and seek our allegiance.
- Galatians 5:15-16
- Ephesians 6:12
We will fight these enemies to varying degrees for the rest of our lives. Sometimes we become discouraged because we see no progress, but we can be assured that time plus conflict will equal change. (workbook, p. 95)
This is like a lightbulb in my mind. I have beat myself up so often because I just don't learn! I keep fighting the same battles over and over! Isn't life about overcoming and someday not facing these old things anymore? Isn't that what it means to be a new creature in Christ? Hmm... How can I be proved a new creature in Christ if I don't face the old things and overcome them?
According to 1 John 2:20, how could Psalm 20:6 apply to Christians?
Psalm 20:6 says that God will "save his anointed one." 1 John 2:20 says, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth."
Compare verses 1 and 9 of Psalm 20. God is so anxious to answer us when we are in distress, but an answer requires a plea for help. In other words, we must call out to Him in order for Him to answer us. (workbook, p. 96)
Often I don't call out. I try to overcome by my own strength and call it the strength of God. I am not proud to admit this, but it's true. I think that because I call myself a Christian, I should have some kind of supernatural strength for overcoming. That is nothing but pride, failure to acknowledge my dependence on God in the area of my greatest need (spiritual battle)! I must decrease, and He must increase.
Meditate on this truth for a moment: God could rescue us with or without our cry for help. Why do you think He wants us to call on Him before He rescues us? (workbook, p. 96)
If He simply rescued us without our calling on Him, we would NEVER realize we COULD or SHOULD call on Him.
Are you aware of ever picking a fight which was not the will of God? Really think about it. ... If your answer is yes, when was it and what was the outcome? (workbook, p. 96)
I won't share all the details here, but I will say that not only did I not win the fight; but my ability to speak to the person about the things of God was hindered because I was rightly viewed simply as an argumentative, opinionated, and even judgmental person.
Violence breeds violence. No matter the country or corporation, when there is a power struggle the most important question seems to become, "Whose side are you on?" Every person seems to look out for his own neck and attempts to pitch his tent in the camp of the one who can do him the most good. Remember, God never comes to take sides. He comes to take over. Joab and Abner were both Israelites. So were Ish-Bosheth and his murderers. What a shame. We're not likely to draw actual swords and thrust them into the bellies of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but how God must be grieved when we use the Sword of the Spirit to unnecessarily wound our brothers and sisters. The Word of God is to be used as a sword against the Evil One, not against our own brothers and sisters.
Peter, one of Christ's disciples, once used his sword to cut off the ear of another. Can you think of ways we could use our Swords-our Bibles- to "cut off the ear" of others? How can we wrongly use the Bible to cut off someone's hearing rather than invite her to listen?
When Peter wrongly used his sword, Christ quickly rebuked him, "Put your sword back in its place" (Matt. 26:52). Christ commanded that we love one another" (John 13:34), speak ... the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15), restore ... gently" (Gal. 6:1), and forgive" (Col. 3:13). Oh, God of Heaven and Earth, help us to "put your sword back in its place." (workbook, p. 99)
In the group, we talked a lot about this passage and how it is common for people to use Scripture in judgmental ways. I know that I have very strong opinions about certain topics; and lately I have actually felt that God is restraining me from speaking too quickly about some of these things--not because I should not share my beliefs but because I need to be wise in HOW I share them. My words can hurt people badly. I know this--I've been on the receiving end. It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, not mine; yet I often want to help Him along just a bit when my "righteous anger" flares up.
What flocks has God entrusted to my care? Cierra; my email groups; cats and Meg; my friendships.
You may be going through a confusing time right now. You may not know how God is going to use a situation in your life or why certain things have happened to you. But you can be encouraged and strengthened by recalling what you know about God in the midst of uncertainties.
Complete the following sentence as it applies to your life: I may not always know what God is doing in my life or why He works the way He does, but I always know ... (workbook, p. 102)
This is one thing that prompted me to write the title track for my CD. I was thinking about people who have questions about suffering, including myself. I was imagining the me who is full of faith talking to the other me. I was wondering what I would say... How do I get through these crises? How do I keep going? What do I know?
I believe that He is real, I believe He wants to bless you. I believe in His Power, And I believe that He is good all the time.
Sometimes we stand to learn the most about God from the situations we understand the least. (workbook, p. 103)
True, like my disabilities.
Surely all of us have experienced an unexpected, uninvited emotional dive. ... Devastation is always heartbreaking. Devastation that should have been celebration is almost more than we can take.
Have you ever experienced devastation when you thought you were going to experience celebration?... Surely all of us have experienced an unexpected, uninvited emotional dive. I have a friend who was left standing at the altar on her wedding day I have another friend who was told he was being considered for a promotion, but when his boss called him into his office, he was laid off instead. Still others have joyfully expected a baby and miscarried instead. Devastation is always heartbreaking. Devastation that should have been celebration is almost more than we can take.
Have you ever experienced devastation when you thought you were going to experience celebration?(workbook, p. 103)
I moved to Florida to work as a contractor for an adaptive technology company and was told unofficially that I would be considered highly for a technical writing position if one should open up. When one opened up because a blind person was leaving, a sighted person was hired instead and I was told that I wasn't what the team needed--because I was blind and could not do screenshots! I was hurt beyond description! I couldn't replace a blind person! I felt that I had been lied to. Not only that, but within a month I stopped receiving contract assignments. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was all over, and I knew it; but when I inquired about it, I was told that irregular work was part of being a contractor. After the third month with no work, I contacted the supervisor again and told her that a week or two or even three I could understand; but three months was a bit ridiculous. That was when I learned there would be no more work. I was stuck in St. Pete with not enough experience to get more technical writing work and no chances of getting other jobs: the same problem I have here in Anderson. Yes, I was upset and angry with God. Didn't He care about me? Or was I just supposed to take society's crumbs? I sent my resume to company after company in St. Pete. I dressed nicely, haven't engaged in dreaded "stereotyped behaviors" since I was a teenager, have been refused referral to job coaches because "your interview skills are fine and your resume is very professional." I've done so much volunteer work that I've had to learn to set boundaries so that I'm not taken advantage of in the name of "getting experience" or "proving I can do the job or be dependable." Why should I have to prove those things anyway just because I happen to be blind? It isn't my fault I was born this way. If I express any of this aloud, society (and even my own family) says I have a chip on my shoulder. But yes, I am angry. I'm angry because it hurts. I want to yell at God, and at the same time I don't because I don't believe He gets His kicks out of this. And ultimately, getting mad at God serves me no purpose. I have to pick up the pieces and keep moving. Otherwise I can miss what He DOES try to provide for me.
I consider what happened in Florida a sin committed against me by another person. Christ died for these things, and he bled for them in Gethsemane. He didn't just agonize over the pain when God turned His face away because Christ took on the sin. He agonized because he took on the pain of those sins being committed against him. He was betrayed and denied, too. He was despised and rejected, acquainted with grief, much more than I ever could be.
And so I must cry out to God, ask for the strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to go on and reach for the blessings He has for me. He is not a God who would leave me hungry and alone.
Take another look at the two emotions David felt toward God in 2 Samuel 6:8-9. Did you feel either one or both of these emotions toward God?
David felt anger and fear toward God, yet Scripture calls him "a man after God's own heart." I think one reason David remained a man after God's own heart was his unwillingness to turn from God, even when he felt negative emotions. David allowed his anger and fear to motivate him to seek more insight into the heart of God.
Attempt to follow David's example by allowing our questions and confusion to motivate us to seek God. At first consideration, the account of Uzzah and the ark is hard to swallow. God almost seems mean-spirited. In times like these, we find out whether we have based our faith on who God is or on what He does. Because His ways are higher than our ways, we cannot always comprehend what God is doing or why He makes certain decisions. When we sift His apparent activity through the standard of who He is, the fog begins to clear. Basing our faith on who God is rather than what He appears to be doing is crucial to our spiritual health. ...
What is 2 Samuel 6:1-11 trying to tell us about who God is? Scan the text one more time. In the margin record any words used to describe God in these 11 verses.
God is not trying to tell us He is harsh in these verses. He's trying to tell us He is holy.
The words represent a big difference, although sometimes our limited understanding leads us to confuse them. The key to viewing the ark correctly is found in verse 2. (workbook, p. 104)
There is a huge difference between "holy" and "distant," especially for a person who is blind. I don't want to bring too much blindness theology into this discussion here, but I do wonder how much blindness affects my reaction to these verses. When a blind person is told, "Do not touch," the thing ceases to exist. The ark had a visual benefit to the people of Israel. What did God do to relate to a blind person of the day? What does God do to relate to me as a blind person? There was good reason for Jesus to say, "Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe!" No wonder he asked, "Who touched me?" No one had been permitted to touch God or even to touch the container where He had made His presence known!
Read 1 Samuel 6:7-8. How did the Philistines transport the ark?
Do you see what Israel had done? They had copied the methods of the Philistines many years before when they returned the ark to the Israelites. How careful we must be not to think that God is less holy because others seem to get away with irreverence! At times when my children have been scolded for particular behaviors, they have each said to me, "But _________________ does it!" or "_______________ says it!" I say the same thing to my children you probably say to yours: "Those are not my children. I expect something different from you because of who you are and what you know." We are sometimes tempted to measure our respect for God by the lack of respect surrounding us. The godless, however, are not our standard. God is. Through the pen of King David, God told us to "praise him according to his excellent greatness" not according to public opinion (Ps. 150:2, KJV). ...
God wanted His kingdom to be established on His Word. The Israelites had made the mistake of transporting the ark by the same method as the Philistines without consulting God's designated commands for its transportation. At the time David's kingdom was established, David certainly had access to the "Books of Moses," the first five books of the Bible.
Read the instructions they should have read that day: Exodus 25:10-16 and Numbers 4:5, 15. How was the ark supposed to be transported?
God masterfully designed the transportation of His glory to literally rest on the shoulders of His revering priests, not on the backs of beasts. Do you see any ways in which we could apply this prindple to ourselves? Believers in Christ make up the priesthood today.
God was teaching the relationship between blessing and reverence. God revealed the relationship through the effects of the ark on Obed-Edom and his household. God desires His presence and His glory to be a blessing, but reverence for Him is the necessary channel.
Hard lessons learned well undoubtedly usher in a fresh respect and new freedom. As strange as this statement may seem, the more we learn about and the more we fear God, the more freedom we have to worship Him! We'll see this principle at work in David's life as we continue with our second and concluding reading assignment for today (workbook, p according to 1 Peter 2:9. 106)
Oh, how I hope that I can learn my hard lessons well! The above lesson about moving on from the devastation that was to be joy has been especially hard. There have been other such devastations in my life... Twice I have begun the process of taking classes for licensure as a foster parent, which would lead ultimately to adopting a child through the foster care system, only to stop due to health problems or financial difficulties--and just as I stopped the process I found out that my sister was pregnant. It's so hard to rejoice over her child when I see no way of turning my devastation to joy--and I know that the child I had my eyes on will age out of the system soon! Yes, I will love her child. But it is a very bittersweet experience for me, and it is hard to explain to family members who perceive it as merely an issue of jealousy. It isn't jealousy. It is simply a reminder of devastation that was to be joy... People like to think that it's easy to forget those things. It isn't, even when we do move on. Moving on is sometimes a very painful process, especially when there is very little progress toward a new goal.
Has any one ever made fun of you or insulted you because of your outward expressions of love for God?
I think it has always been a bit of an embarrassment to my mom that I tend to weep openly. The way my uncle explains it, my family just doesn't express their emotions openly. So I have fought an inner battle for a long time, on one hand trying to quell the urge to weep and on the other trying not to quench the Holy Spirit in my life.