Weekend Walk, 09/23/2011

Hiding the Word:

Are you in a season right now—or are you even just having one of those days—-where you need the encouragement to keep going, to not give up and to persevere even in waiting on God?  I have a verse for you this week!

“Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord”

Psalm 31:24

Maybe you could use some heart-strengthening at the moment.  This verse is my prayer for you this week.  And, to be honest, I’m praying for a little of that for myself, too!

I hope you enjoy meditating on this verse through the upcoming week or find a verse of your own!

Weekend Rerun:

Traveling Companions, Originally Published 04/03/2011

On Tuesday nights, I sit at a table with other women, Bibles open.  We ask—What’s going on in your life?  What does the Bible say?  Where are you headed?  Where have you been?  What do you need?  How can I pray for you?

It’s a safe place, an encouraging place, a challenging place, a growing place, a grace place, a truth place.

I love these women, each so uniquely designed by God with pasts so different, but hope in Christ the same.  They are my traveling companions.

And this is what we need, really.  Community.  Strength from relationships.  Just how far would Naomi have made it in her travels if Ruth hadn’t insisted on packing a bag for the journey, too?  Naomi —A hurt woman, weighed by age and life, far from her homeland, changing her name to Mara—“Bitterness”— and trekking back to her people, her nation, her God.  Widow Naomi.   Now childless Naomi.  Without Ruth, Naomi would probably have been buried along the pathway, lost and alone.  With Ruth, came strength, companionship, blessing.  A new home.  Food from Ruth’s work gleaning in the fields.  Redemption by Kinsman-Redeemer Boaz through Ruth’s marriage.  And a place in the lineage of King David, of Jesus, through Ruth and Boaz’s son.

All because of tenacious friendship, of shared pain and faith, of the self-sacrifice of one friend to another.

Then there’s Elijah.  The bold and courageous prophet who, in the showdown of all showdowns against 450 prophets of Baal, had demonstrated God’s glory before all the people of Israel.  Fire from heaven consumed a sacrifice soaked and an altar pouring over with water.   The people “fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:39, NIV).

Immediately after this victory, Queen Jezebel threatens to kill him and “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.  When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness” (1 Kings 19:3-4, NIV).

Elijah’s mistake was in the traveling alone.  He ran to Beersheba—the southernmost portion of the land—and then he left his servant and ran for another whole day by himself.  Alone.  No companion to speak truth into his heart.  No friend to share his burden and pray with him and point him back to God.  No accountability.  No encouragement.  No truth-speaking.  No love.

It’s what happens when we journey without a traveling companion.

And so Elijah sat on a mountain, dejected, depressed, overcome with fear and grief and bitterness.  God met him in that place, talked him out of the cave and down off the precipice.  The very next thing God did was give him a friend.

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat . . . Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him…Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant (1 Kings 19:19-21, NIV).

Elijah needed Elisha.  Partner, friend, servant, apprentice.

Not just any traveling companion will do, though.  Who we walk with determines where we go.  Some make the journey harder or full of obstacles or lead us astray to shortcuts and paths unknown.

Just ask Abraham.

Abram and Sarah didn’t set out for Canaan alone.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.   Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran (Genesis 11:31-32, NIV).

God called Abram out of Ur, told him to pack his bags and get going on a journey at God’s direction.  And Abram obeyed, taking his father, Terah, and his nephew, Lot.  But, something happened along the way.  It’s a mysterious blank.  We can’t peek into the windows of the family tent and overhear the discussion.  Something happened and they stopped before reaching their destination. 

They didn’t just check in for an overnight rest in the Motel 8.  They settled there.  And when Abram’s dad passed away, that’s when the journey began again.  That’s when God called Abram once more and told him to keep moving forward on the path that had so mysteriously been interrupted.

Sometimes our traveling companions convince us to settle with less than God’s promises.  They look around at what the world has to offer and find fertile land and a good place to dwell. Pitching their tents, they urge us to make this our home.  Not God’s best, perhaps, not all that God has planned for us, but surely good enough.

The Apostle Paul, though, knew how to choose a traveling buddy.  Paul with Silas, singing praises in the prison in the night.  Paul with Barnabus–the Encourager—set aside for ministry to the Gentiles.  Paul and Timothy–building a church, building church leadership.

And Paul and Titus.  In 2 Corinthians 7:5-6, Paul wrote to the church, “For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn–conflicts on the outside, fears within.   But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (NIV).

Paul was the apostle who told us all things work for the good, to rejoice always and again rejoice, to be content in all circumstances, that God can supply all our needs, and do abundantly and immeasurably more than our wildest dreams.

Still, Paul was frightened at times, too.   Just like you and me, he had his moments.  God didn’t punish Paul for lack of faith or chastise his weakness.  Instead, God provided for a need.  Paul needed a traveling companion to bring comfort and encouragement in dark days.  Titus was God’s answer to Paul’s fear.

Paul knew this truly.  He usually traveled in partnership.  He had written: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ… for each one should carry their own load” (Galatians 6:2, 5, NIV).

It seems contradictory at first.  Carry each other’s burdens.  Each one carry their own load.  But there’s a difference here.  Paul says each one of us should do our own daily load of life, the everyday, the things we can handle.  Do it yourself.  Don’t lay your everyday over the back of someone else and kick back and relax while they struggle.

Burdens, though, are meant to be borne in partnership.  In community with each other, we lift up onto four shoulders what is far too heavy for just two.

That’s the way God designed us—to travel together.  Ruth with Naomi.  Elijah with Elisha.  Paul with Titus, with Silas, with Barnabas, with Timothy.  You and me, heading to Canaan, to Christ-likeness, to abundant life, shifting burdens onto backs along the way and laying them down at the cross together.  Alone we will not make it.   Together, though, we journey past obstacles, depression, fear, and discouragement, to our hoped-for destination, our Promised Land.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Online Bible Study: Week Eight (Chapter 15)

Ladies, we have made it to the end of our study of Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God and I’m so thankful for the chance to walk with you for this summer.  I urge you to take the time to comment to this post some time this week and talk about your overarching thoughts of this book or study and what God has been doing in your heart and mind these last few weeks.

For those of you catching up, these pages will remain open and available for you to go back and comment as you read each section.  We don’t want to miss what you have to say.

My small group will be starting a new book in September called Stumbling Into Grace: Confessions of a Spiritually Clumsy Woman by Lisa Harper.  In it, she discusses topics like fear, forgiveness, the importance of community, resting, being less critical and yet more honest, contentment and dependence on God.

I won’t be formalizing that into an official Online Bible Study format, but I will be following along the topics of the book with posts of my own here in this space.  So, I hope if you can’t join in my small group, you can grab a copy of the book wherever you are and read along with us.  I think you’ll enjoy it!

And, for those of you going to Women of Faith this coming weekend, you’ll get to see Lisa Harper on stage at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC!  I can’t wait!

My Thoughts

We have a well problem at my house.

Also a but problem.  And yes, I spelled that right.

I say, “Girls, it’s time to clean up.  Victoria, you put away the dolls.  Lauren, you put away the books.”

And I hear:

Well . . . she was the last one playing with them so she has to clean it up.

But playing with that wasn’t my idea; it was hers.”
Well . . . this is too much for me to clean up all by myself!”

But I’m not ready to stop playing.  I want to play some more later.”

It’s a well and but problem if ever I’ve heard one.

I’ll admit it.  God could likely say the same about me.  Maybe about you also?  God speaks to my heart through His Word, through others, through the heavy urging and impression of the Holy Spirit and I say:

But, I don’t want to stop doing this.  I’ve been doing it for years.  I enjoy it.  I’m good at it.  I’m used to it.  I’m comfortable and (this is the ringer), who else is going to do it if I stop?”

or

Well . . . you may want me to do that, but I’m scared and I don’t know how it’s all going to work out.  I’m not experienced enough.  I don’t see how doing this is going to matter in the long run.  What if I fail and mess it up?  What if I heard You wrong and I wasn’t supposed to do it after all?”

We say we want to hear the voice of God.  We long to know what He sounds like and desire spiritual discernment.

That’s what we say.  Yet sometimes we’re desperately pleading from God to hear His voice and then when He speaks, we argue with Him.  So, perhaps this waiting time, this sitting silent before a currently silent God, is more about our willingness to obey than our ability to hear.

Maybe He’s not speaking because He knows we’re not ready to obeyMaybe He’s waiting for our hearts to stop “well-ing” and “but-ing” and instead say to Him, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands” (Psalm 119:60).

Like Abraham, we should obey “immediately,” “the very same day,” and “early the next morning”  (Genesis 15:10, 17:23, 22:3).

Are you an early riser when it comes to obeying God’s voice?  Or are you more of a lingerer, a wait until it’s comfortable and makes sense, wait until the provision comes, wait until You can’t bear the heaviness of the Spirit any longer kind of child?

Choose to obey in advance of the command.  Set your heart on obedience.  It is the most precious worship to our God, more precious than any sacrifice you could lay at His feet.  “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Chapter Outline:

Chapter Fifteen: The Obedient Response

  • On p. 174, she notes that “God does not speak simply to be heard.  He speaks to be obeyed.”  She goes on to say that if we’re not willing to commit to obedience, He may very well choose not to speak to us.
  • She notes that people who always have an “escape plan” are called “double-minded” in James 4:8.  On p. 177, she encourages you to check your heart for double-mindedness if you aren’t hearing from God.

Your Thoughts:

  • Do you have an example of a time you obeyed God even when it didn’t make sense or seemed silly or confusing, and He rewarded your obedience?
  • How quickly do you tend to obey God’s voice?  Has a delay in obedience ever been costly for you?
  • Do you have any quotes, verses or passages that were your favorite in the conclusion of the book?
  • Have you changed anything in your spiritual walk as a result of this study?
  • What’s the most important concept or thought that you’ll take away from this book?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Start Your Engines: Before Our Online Bible Study Begins

Ladies, we are just a few days away (July 5th) from starting our online Bible study on Priscilla Shirer’s book, Discerning the Voice of God.  I don’t know about you, but I’m more than excited.  I get a fluttery stomach and goosebumps on my arms when I think about walking through this book with you.

So that everything jumps off to a smooth start, I thought I’d cover a few things now so we aren’t delayed or confused on the first day.

Your Mission; Hopefully You’ll Accept It

  • Get a copy of the book.
  • Introduce yourself by commenting on this post with your name and a quick bit of info about who you are.
  • Check back on Tuesday, July 5th for my post on Chapters 1 and 2 of the book.

Where are the Books?

I have a few copies of the books available in the Ladies’ Bible Study room at Newington Baptist Church.  You can also order a copy of the book from Christianbook.com or you can download it to your Kindle or nook.

Who is in the group?

Here’s the exciting part.  We aren’t all from the same church, denomination or state, so we’ll hopefully get to hear the thoughts and ideas from women with different experiences and backgrounds.

But, this will only work if we are all actually posting comments and participating in the discussion.  The worst thing that could happen as we do this is if I or only two or three of us actually say anything in this space.

That means we really need to hear from you To make sure we are all able to post and comfortable doing so, I’d like for us to introduce ourselves before the study starts.

Please take the time to post a comment below with your name and maybe one quick fact about yourself.  I’ll do it, too, to get us started.

You’ll need to click the tiny little check box that says, “Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail” if you don’t want to miss what anyone says.  You can always just check back periodically to see the comments, but following by email notifies you when someone actually posts.

Keep the Discussion Going

Starting July 5th, I’m going to post a discussion starter for the assigned chapter and then it’s up to you—-yes, you!!!—to keep the conversation going.  No awkward pauses at the dinner party or voices trailing off because we don’t have anything to talk about.

Here are some ideas:

  • Tell a story about how this happened or is happening to you.
  • Share a verse that links up with the topic.
  • Post a quote from the book or other source that you find particularly relevant, challenging and/or inspirational.
  • Share a prayer request if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Ask a question about something that just doesn’t make sense.

And then please answer one another.  The discussion doesn’t always have to come back to me.

Ready, Set, Go!!!

Pray for Us, Part I

“Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you”
2 Thessalonians 3:1

Bible Study time done, the group started sharing prayer requests.  Please pray.  Please pray.  Please pray, we ask one another.  For my friend.  For my child.  For my husband.  For my coworker.

For me.

Dialoguing with myself silently there at the table, I jotted down the requests of others and thought, “mine seems so silly, so selfish, so small.  Haven’t I prayed for myself already?”

Surely I had.  Not more than one hour before sitting down at that table to teach others, I had been face-to-face with my carpet, not just on my knees, but prostrate before God.  All stretched out before His throne in humble need (hoping my children didn’t come searching for me and find Mommy on the floor).  Not for cancer.  Not for death.  Not for brokenness.  For a string of bad days, for lack of sleep, for a husband who was away, for knowing that I felt far too ill-equipped to teach anyone from God’s Word that night.  What else to pray, but “help me, God!” and to tell Satan to get lost—in Jesus’s name, of course.

Yet, knowing full well that it matters when others pray for us, that the combined power of saints on their knees works in ways that my private prayers do not, I shared my tiny need with the group of ladies gathered at the table.  “I need the rest of this week to get better.  I need my children to sleep and not wake up grumpy, whining and so quick to fight with each other.  I need no more animal mishaps like 30 of my fish dying from some freak thermostat disaster.  We’ve had such a rough start; please pray for us.”

We prayed.  I went home, chased children around the house with pajamas and toothbrushes, climbed into bed all weary myself.  The next morning I woke up for the first time in months, not to the sound of a child, but just because of morning sunlight.  I awoke to a day that got better and better and a week no longer plagued with sleeplessness and stress.  I awoke to notes from friends and family saying they were praying for me.

We prayed.  God answered.

How often have you sat in your small group, though, looked around at Christians you love and you trust, and not shared your prayer need?

Because you were afraid to share the request you have, maybe even ashamed and embarrassed.
Because everyone’s prayer requests seemed so much bigger than yours.
Because it seemed so selfish to ask for prayer for yourself and much more acceptable to ask on behalf of others.

Remember these things:

We Need Others to Pray for Us

Paul poured out prayers in his letters to the churches, that they would understand the love of God, know His will, and persevere in the midst of trials.  To the Thessalonians, he wrote: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).  Then, he asked for their prayers in return, “Finally brothers, pray for us, that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

There is no question that Paul himself was praying for the effective spread of the Gospel; nevertheless, he requested those same prayers from others.  He knew that corporate prayer has power and the unified petitions of the saints have impact.  So, praying in your own home and in your own car is good and necessary, but you should not be ashamed, embarrassed, or reluctant to call for backup and enlist the prayer support of others.  It is part of the giving and receiving that we do in the Body of Christ.  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

In some ways, Paul was giving the Thessalonian church a gift.  He invited them into ministry partnership with Him, asking them to pray for him and his missionary team as they traveled and shared the Gospel.  We give each other a gift when we invite others into prayer partnership with us.  They now have a part in healing marriages, restoring broken relationships, shepherding wayward children, defeating disease, leading ministries, and redeeming finances.  Not in their own strength, but because they intercede before God on our behalf.  They struggle in prayer and wrestle the Enemy and receive victory in partnership with us.

There are times when our friends must carry us to Jesus, paralyzed as we are like the man in Capernaum.  He could have lain their unable to move and simply hoped that Jesus would notice him on the outskirts of the crowd, but the needs were many and the mob of people overwhelming.  Instead, four friends carried him to Jesus, parting the crowds as best they could and then climbing up on the roof and lowering him down to Jesus’s feet (Mark 2:1-5).  We need friends with such faith, friends who will bring us to Christ’s sandaled toes and request healing for what paralyzes us.

Do you have someone to pray for you and with you?  It could be a small group or it could be one faithful praying friend.  Seek that out so that you do not battle the bad days or the life crises alone.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King


Traveling Companions

On Tuesday nights, I sit at a table with other women, Bibles open.  We ask—What’s going on in your life?  What does the Bible say?  Where are you headed?  Where have you been?  What do you need?  How can I pray for you?

It’s a safe place, an encouraging place, a challenging place, a growing place, a grace place, a truth place.

I love these women, each so uniquely designed by God with pasts so different, but hope in Christ the same.  They are my traveling companions.

And this is what we need, really.  Community.  Strength from relationships.  Just how far would Naomi have made it in her travels if Ruth hadn’t insisted on packing a bag for the journey, too?  Naomi —A hurt woman, weighed by age and life, far from her homeland, changing her name to Mara—“Bitterness”— and trekking back to her people, her nation, her God.  Widow Naomi.   Now childless Naomi.  Without Ruth, Naomi would probably have been buried along the pathway, lost and alone.  With Ruth, came strength, companionship, blessing.  A new home.  Food from Ruth’s work gleaning in the fields.  Redemption by Kinsman-Redeemer Boaz through Ruth’s marriage.  And a place in the lineage of King David, of Jesus, through Ruth and Boaz’s son.

All because of tenacious friendship, of shared pain and faith, of the self-sacrifice of one friend to another.

Then there’s Elijah.  The bold and courageous prophet who, in the showdown of all showdowns against 450 prophets of Baal, had demonstrated God’s glory before all the people of Israel.  Fire from heaven consumed a sacrifice soaked and an altar pouring over with water.   The people “fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:39, NIV).

Immediately after this victory, Queen Jezebel threatens to kill him and “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.  When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness” (1 Kings 19:3-4, NIV).

Elijah’s mistake was in the traveling alone.  He ran to Beersheba—the southernmost portion of the land—and then he left his servant and ran for another whole day by himself.  Alone.  No companion to speak truth into his heart.  No friend to share his burden and pray with him and point him back to God.  No accountability.  No encouragement.  No truth-speaking.  No love.

It’s what happens when we journey without a traveling companion.

And so Elijah sat on a mountain, dejected, depressed, overcome with fear and grief and bitterness.  God met him in that place, talked him out of the cave and down off the precipice.  The very next thing God did was give him a friend.

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat . . . Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him…Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant (1 Kings 19:19-21, NIV).

Elijah needed Elisha.  Partner, friend, servant, apprentice.

Not just any traveling companion will do, though.  Who we walk with determines where we go.  Some make the journey harder or full of obstacles or lead us astray to shortcuts and paths unknown.

Just ask Abraham.

Abram and Sarah didn’t set out for Canaan alone.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.   Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran (Genesis 11:31-32, NIV).

God called Abram out of Ur, told him to pack his bags and get going on a journey at God’s direction.  And Abram obeyed, taking his father, Terah, and his nephew, Lot.  But, something happened along the way.  It’s a mysterious blank.  We can’t peek into the windows of the family tent and overhear the discussion.  Something happened and they stopped before reaching their destination. 

They didn’t just check in for an overnight rest in the Motel 8.  They settled there.  And when Abram’s dad passed away, that’s when the journey began again.  That’s when God called Abram once more and told him to keep moving forward on the path that had so mysteriously been interrupted.

Sometimes our traveling companions convince us to settle with less than God’s promises.  They look around at what the world has to offer and find fertile land and a good place to dwell. Pitching their tents, they urge us to make this our home.  Not God’s best, perhaps, not all that God has planned for us, but surely good enough.

The Apostle Paul, though, knew how to choose a traveling buddy.  Paul with Silas, singing praises in the prison in the night.  Paul with Barnabus–the Encourager—set aside for ministry to the Gentiles.  Paul and Timothy–building a church, building church leadership.

And Paul and Titus.  In 2 Corinthians 7:5-6, Paul wrote to the church, “For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn–conflicts on the outside, fears within.   But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (NIV).

Paul was the apostle who told us all things work for the good, to rejoice always and again rejoice, to be content in all circumstances, that God can supply all our needs, and do abundantly and immeasurably more than our wildest dreams.

Still, Paul was frightened at times, too.   Just like you and me, he had his moments.  God didn’t punish Paul for lack of faith or chastise his weakness.  Instead, God provided for a need.  Paul needed a traveling companion to bring comfort and encouragement in dark days.  Titus was God’s answer to Paul’s fear.

Paul knew this truly.  He usually traveled in partnership.  He had written: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ… for each one should carry their own load” (Galatians 6:2, 5, NIV).

It seems contradictory at first.  Carry each other’s burdens.  Each one carry their own load.  But there’s a difference here.  Paul says each one of us should do our own daily load of life, the everyday, the things we can handle.  Do it yourself.  Don’t lay your everyday over the back of someone else and kick back and relax while they struggle.

Burdens, though, are meant to be borne in partnership.  In community with each other, we lift up onto four shoulders what is far too heavy for just two.

That’s the way God designed us—to travel together.  Ruth with Naomi.  Elijah with Elisha.  Paul with Titus, with Silas, with Barnabas, with Timothy.  You and me, heading to Canaan, to Christ-likeness, to abundant life, shifting burdens onto backs along the way and laying them down at the cross together.  Alone we will not make it.   Together, though, we journey past obstacles, depression, fear, and discouragement, to our hoped-for destination, our Promised Land.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King