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Bible Study 5-3-09

Hmmm... well, as you can see, i've been somewhat delinquent in my keeping everyone informed of what’s going on in our bible study. I figured if i got the ball rolling, that it would explode, and we would be fighting for turns to update the forum on our bible study discussions.  I've been wrong before, too.  It isn't that nothing’s been going on. In my mind, it has been quite full of mind-boggling discussions, shared acknowledgments of God's loving grace, and a feeling of sincerity/security in-group participation of finding eternal answers from God.  We've had as many as 7 to 8 peeps, to a whopping 3 last Monday.  I tell you though, last Monday was still very good, even considering it was just Josh, Seth, and I.  Need I say where two or more gather in His name?  I talked to Mike Smith last night who's in Conn. and he asked me if the bible study was dieing.  I said somewhat- jokingly that I hoped so; with death we all know, new birth can arise.

Our group is talking about the fundamentals and history of Christianity.  This discussion was suggested by Ian (who has not made it back since, come on dude-work smirk(joke)), and we've decided to keep on this topic as long as we feel needed.  I know that these discussions are interesting/important to Josh, Seth, and i who've been in the faith for quite some time, but imagine how great it would be to share the knowledge of God with those who are searching, yet continue to smash head first into walls of uncertainty? (i've spent much time here as well).  Josh has been extremely insightful in the historic story of the passing of the Holy Spirit, declaring witnesses of Christ throughout the generations. We also have been talking about how the Bible came about, how certain books were elected, and so on.  It's been really affirming to my faith, and i encourage any dialog or participation from all; either on this site, or making it out to the studies.  Josh also brought to my attention something that i believe is a fundamental responsibility we have as believers, and that is to help those in need.  We are open to ideas here, if anyone in this forum knows of anyone in need, that we could pray for, help financially, physical labor, or someone soul searching, let us know.  Michael, Josh, Ian, etc... feel free to add or reprove anything here that needs attention. Our group could also use prayer for insight, perseverance, knowledge, and wisdom in God's Will. Peace


I am encouraged by your discussions and wish I could attend.  It's good to have others with similar faith to feed off of.

One topic worth discussing at a future study could be how God works even when it feels like He's not around.  God works near and around us through others when our faith tank is running on empty.  He lifts others up while we're down and lifts us up while others are down.  His timing is always perfect, and we need to be willing to accept His will once we ask for His will to be done.  

Just a thought.  If it sparks future conversation, great.  If it doesn't, it's still an interesting topic of conversation in my book.

your right on Steve, and i believe our group has talked about having "How God works through people" as one of our topics.  I appreciate your ideas, interest, and prayers, and let The Force continue to be with you-G Force

just an add on

Grant -

It's awesome how these discussions come to be.  Some time last week i was discussing with rev (Josh) about the Apocrypha and that i was curious to read some of it.  In your post you talked about how the Bible came to be...what books were chosen and so on... that's really interesting to me.

Steve -

you mentioned God working even we don't know it.  This is a major battle for me to be able to express.  As you may or may not know i lead a youth class on wednesday nights at our church with the seniors in high school.  This topic has come up more than once.  The main question that comes up is "i pray and i pray and i never SEE Him answering".  It's amazing where answers to these types of questions... or maybe not answers but insight... come from.  Not long after one of these discussions i was watching a couple of random movies that just happened to be on TV.  One of them gave a quote of "when you pray and ask God for patience, if God gives you patience, or puts you in a situation where you learn patience. If someone asks for courage, does God give them courage or put them in a situation where they can become courageous? Does God give you family togetherness, or does he put you in a situation where you pull together as a family?"

I think this speaks very loudly as some people are always out there looking for that bright neon flashing sign that tells them, "DO THIS" or "DON'T DO THAT".

Keeping on that topic of God speaking to you in random times and places... i was struggling with the concept of "i know i am a good person, but i don't always display that in my actions".  Once again i stumbled onto a quote that said:  "it is not who you are, but what you do that defines you".  This hit me hard because i was finally able to put pride behind me and realize that no matter how good i tell people that i am (smile) it is my actions and outward appearance that sticks with people.


You are right.  What we do speaks much louder than what we say.  We all struggle with being, not speaking.  We get distracted, we become caught up with what others think of us, and we lose focus of the bigger picture.  I think it's safe to say that people struggle with this most of their lives.  Accountability happens one situation at a time, and it takes some good friends, a good family, and a forgiving God to keep us on track.  

In regards to your youth group meetings...People say they "pray and pray and never SEE Him answering"--I bet that is one of the most difficult things for newer or struggling Christians to understand (I'm not implying that anyone in the youth group is a newer or struggling Christian).  I think it's difficult for strong Christians, faithful Christians who feel the need to be reaffirmed that God is near and God is with them.  

He has a perfect plan, and I believe that one of the foundations of His plan is to put us in situations where we need Him.  Just the same as He seems to put in situations where we'll praise Him.  In either case, we're thinking of Him.  

It is also one of the more difficult things for me to communicate, but as we grow in life and as we mature as humans and Christians we realize that we don't have it all figured out the way we thought we did in high school.  Every day brings new challenges that remind us that we don't have it all together...that we're not perfect.

How often when we pray do we pray for ourselves?  
How often when we pray do we pray for some result?

I would bet that 95% of the time we pray for one or both of the above.  It takes a lot of faith to make us feel comfortable genuinely taking our eyes off ourselves and putting our focus on others and God before us.  We usually want something out of the deal.

Finally, I appreciate you writing on here...I hope you're able to gain some different perspectives from different people sharing similar struggles and beliefs.
Erin Macklom

Hey guys!  Just wanted to throw something out there.
Michael, when you metioned the seniors in your Wed. night class, it reminded me of this.

 I was reading in  Romans this week and ran across something that reaffirms the Holy Spirit's role in us.  

"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will."  Romans 8:26-27

Personally there have been times when I have sat or literally fallen on my face before God...speechless.  No words, nothing.  Without a word to God from me, He answered prayers I didn't realize I was praying.  Probably b/c, looking back, it was the Holy Spirit interceding for me "with groanings that cannot be expressed in words".  

To me, the important thing I have to realize/remember each day is that the Holy Spirit searches my heart and soul.  He knows things that I may not know yet myself.  That same Spirit (some of you may have heard this before.  If you have, sorry to repeat myself) searches God's soul. The Spirit that lives in me is the same Spirit that searches even the depths of God.   Wow.

One more thing, God's time table is not necessarily the same as ours.  I think we try to put Him in a box all too often in order for His ways and His timing to make sense in our minds.  But that's another discussion....

Glad to have you contributing to the discussion.

In response to your comments:

God's time table is definitely not the same as ours and I agree that we usually want to fence in God, His timing, and His will for us.  It's more convenient that way.  Go out to the field, walk up to our fence, say "hi God" and feed him some grass.  Make sure He's doing okay.  Make sure He's got enough water to drink.  Then walk back to wherever it is we came from.  

We'll go visit God here and there, then one day we'll just step outside our door and look at Him from a distance and think "yeah...He's fine..."  No need to go up there and talk with Him today.  He's got everything He needs.  Maybe I'll make it there tomorrow.  

Enough for wearing out my analogy, but it's amazing to think how much we take God for granted.  Knowing He'll be there when we need Him.  What causes the complacency in our lives?  
Is it routine?  Do we get bored too easily?  Is it God's will for us to be bored?  Sheep get bored.  

If someone would have been watching the past weekend's events from a tower 1,000 feet above C-Street, what would it have looked like?  A bunch of sheep: Some grouped together, some on their own, some wondering the street, coming and going.  Eating, laughing, staring, listening.  

I conclude that sometimes in our relationship with God, we are guilty of thinking that God is the sheep.  Fenced in, in the field, doing just fine.  We forget that we are not the Shepherd.  

Amazing isn't it?  Sometimes we actually want to lead God and bring Him down our path.  What an arrogant flock He created.  I'm glad that we have His will and timing to bring us back to reality.

Steve, well said and what a wonderful journey within the imagination, thank you.  Also Erin, Michael, Grant you all encourage my heart with your words!  

What we say vs. what we do, brings to mind the age old grace vs works.  

How do we reconcile James 2:20 "faith without works is dead" with Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God"?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is identified as the Greek logos (translated word).  According to Strongs Concordance "logos" can be equally translated as word or work.  What Jesus says and what He does is one in the same.  In our life, the marriage between what we say and what we do often becomes estranged or even divorced.

We know when we receive Jesus as our Savior we take on a new identity (we become married to Him).  But what of receiving Jesus as Lord?  There we submit our life to His will.

So today it is common to say yes and do no.  Remember the two sons of Mathew 21: 28-31?  It is better to say no and do yes, however, it is best to say yes and do yes.

The marriage between what we say and what we do will bring light unto the world.  

Certainly, we must be sober in regard to what we say.

Footnote from Andrea to Steve in response to his analogy of the sheep fencing God in: "Baa...Baa..." (Translated means "Amen, Brother!")  And to stretch the analogy just a bit further, there are so many fencing materials these days....fear, pride, doubt, confusion, guilt, slothfulness, etc.  God came to destroy the faulty materials to set us free to roam the green pastures and to drink from the cool waters. Why don't we?
Joshua James

"i pray and i pray and i never SEE Him answering"

... and sometimes He did answer, but I don't want to accept the answer He has given.

Thanks for pushing that analogy forward Andrea.  Especially the "baaa's" were well timed!  Hahaha.

Josh---I think we can all agree with you on the reality that we don't want to accept the answer He has given (much of the time).  Sometimes our personal arrogance leads to our spiritual blindness or deafness to God's answering.  I think we should follow up our prayer with "God...please allow me to hear your answer and see your will be done...regardless of the answer."  If we ask for His will with open arms, maybe we should receive His will with open arms.  Our minds will never be able to explain God's timing, we just need to submit to and understand that we are along for the ride.  It doesn't mean we're not walking forward and doesn't mean that we can't be proactive.  It simply means that we "can't stop the world from turning so we can climb off."

(To give credit where credit is due...that last quote is taken from the Irish group Aslan in the song "Crazy World")

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If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. --C. S. Lewis