Friday, December 16, 2016

Lesson 5, Week 4: Review and Study of Lessons 1-4, Week 4


Today’s Scripture Focus:  I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Psalm 121 KJV

What I Learned
            Lessons 1 & 2

What is the most meaningful verse you read in lesson one?

_______________________________________________

_______________________________________________

Buy a notebook or journal to record your personal list of affirming
Scriptures. Remember, feelings are just feelings and they will cycle
depending on the circumstances in your life.

Recording affirming Scriptures will stabilized your feelings so you
won’t constantly be cycling. You will be steady because you will
have God’s promises within you.

Remember, depression happens and God has made away for us to
be healed, even if it requires seeking medical care.

What three points did you learn about grace?

1.________________________________

2.________________________________

3.________________________________

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  Romans 8:1 KJV

Who is our accuser?___________________________

Does God condemn us?________________________
Why not?__________________________________

Lesson 3 & 4
Sometimes we accept God’s forgiveness, but we can't forgive ourselves.

What does Isaiah 43:18 tell us to do? ________________________________

______________________________________________________________

How do we live in the present?_____________________________________

Can senior citizens live useful lives even if they have physically slowed down?

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________ 

How can we turn off our minds at bed time?___________________________ 

______________________________________________________________ 

Does God ever awake us for His purpose?  Name such a purpose__________

______________________________________________________________




______________________________________________________________



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lesson 4, Week 4: Getting a Good Night’s Rest


Today’s Scripture Focus:  And in the night His song shall be with me. A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8 NIV

*Before you begin, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study God’s Word.

One thing about it, as we age, sleep often becomes a problem. What do we do when we encounter sleepless nights? What causes the tossing and turning and how can we overcome the bouts of sleeplessness?

First of all, it is often poor sleep hygiene. That can easily be corrected by eating dinner at a reasonable hour, no caffeine in the evenings, and winding down to prepare our body for rest. Lots of seniors find that going out at night to a meeting or a party will keep them wound up for hours and sleep will elude them.

I’m not a sleep specialist, but I have been sleepless. I’ve had to seek help to address this problem. I would highly recommend going to a sleep clinic if you struggle with sleeplessness. They can help you determine the cause and how to address your particular sleep problem.

But in addition to this, my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know what the Scriptures had to say about sleep and God’s song being with me.

Think on These Things

Read Psalm 121
Today, we are going to look at verses 3-4. “He will not let your foot slip—
 he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” NIV

We are told that God never slumbers or sleep. Now, we can sleep easy for God is watching over us. Sleep is not a requirement for Him. Worry can keep us awake and because of that I never listen to the news before retiring for the night. Instead I have a prayer box and inside it I keep some rocks or pebbles I’ve collected. I name them according to my worries for that day and place them in the box for God. I choose to let Him have my worries. This literal act helps you to give Him your worries mentally. You'll soon find it gets easier and your faith will increase.

Turning off the mind is a major problem for some of us. When our thoughts threatened to run off in several different directions, we need to reel those thoughts in and think on the following verses: Proverb 3:24 (NIV) When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Matthew 8:24 (NIV) Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.

Psalm 4:8 (NIV) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

If your sleeplessness is not a constant problem, then maybe God has a purpose in your occasional wakefulness. Sometimes, he wakes us up to pray to Him for others, or to converse with Him.

Read Psalm 63:6 (NIV) On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.


What I Learned

--God wants me to have rest.
--A lack of sleep may be caused by poor sleep _____________.
--When my thoughts wander, I can ____________________
--God who never sleeps is _____________ over me.
--God wants me to feel His ___________.
--Sometimes God may wake me because He wants me to _____________________________________________.



How I Will Apply What I Have Learned

1.      I will have my sleep assessed and see what is causing my problem.
2.      Then in prayer, I will ask God to guide me to the truth.
3.      The next time I am awaken, I will listen to God to speak within my heart and mind.

Dear Lord,
            I turn my sleeplessness over to you. I give you all my cares and worries. I ask Lord that you will help me focus on You and mediate on Your Word. Lord, if I need help in assessing my sleep problems, then guide me to a sleep clinic that can help me. If You want me to spend time in the night praying to you and meditating on Your Word, make that clear to me. Help me to hear Your song in the night. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lesson 3, Week 4:  Living in The Present
Today’s Scripture Focus:  The LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime. Psalm 42:8a NIV

*Before you begin, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study His Word.

Whenever we see the word daytime, we think of it as referring to the hours of daylight we have in every twenty-four hours. But often, in biblical times God used “daytime” to refer to our life with the meaning that He will command His loving kindness in our lives.

Yesterday, we talked about putting the past behind us. If we have truly done that, then we can live the rest of our lives baggage free. We can live freely in His presence. That’s what it mean in John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” When you understand that you are truly forgiven—past, present, and future sins—then you can live unencumbered in the present.

Think on These Things

Read Isaiah 43. Focus on verse 18, The Good News Bible.

“But the LORD says, ‘Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago.’”

I know we discussed this verse yesterday, but I want you to focus on it again with an eye to the future. In this passage God was talking to His chosen people, the Israelites. He was telling them He was going to make a way where there wasn’t any way. God had forgiven them their sins and was already doing a new thing.

What does this passage tell us today? It is telling us in no certain terms, don’t cling to past mistakes. You’ve confessed them and now it’s time to let go of them and move on. God already has, and he wants you to do the same. You have permission to never beat yourself up again over “should haves”and “shouldn’t haves.” Always, God forgives us when we ask Him, but often we don’t forgive ourselves.

Isaiah 43:19 goes on to say, “Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now.”

But as a grandparent, a senior citizen, you may be asking, There aren’t too many more years of my life, why would God be doing a new thing now?

The answer is because God has a PLAN or your life, in EVERY SEASON of your life. Don’t underestimate the living God.  Jeremiah 29:11 states, "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. Plans for good and not for evil; to give you a future and a hope." (NIV)

In Isaiah 46:4 we are told “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.(NIV)

God is going to be in our day with His loving kindness, watching over us and guiding us. The Lord willing, I’ve always said, “I’m going to live until
I die.” By that, I mean I choose to make my days count until I go home to be with the Lord. So, let’s live in the present being the hands and feet of Jesus.

What I learned

What does God want us to do?____________________________

If we are truly forgiven and have received God’s grace, how can we live?

_____________________________________________________ 

God has a plan for our ___________________ in every ___________ of our __________________.

God has made a promise regarding our senior years. What is it?

______________________________________________________

We can live in the present because God is ____________________

___________________________________ Isaiah 43:19

How I will Apply What I Have Learned

I will pray about the activities I do to be sure they are in line with God’s will.

I may have to slow down, but I’m sure I can do something such as pray for the sick, send cards to the sick and to the shut-ins, or take food to someone. Prayer is the most important thing we can do.

I will listen more to God, and not over schedule myself. Then I can hear and recognize his voice.

Dear Lord,
      
Since I’m free in Christ, through the precious blood you shed on my behalf, I can make the most of my days. Don’t let me think that because I am a senior citizen, a grandparent, my days are to be lived without meaning. Instead, remind me that the most important thing I can do for my family and grandchildren is to pray for them. Guide me, show me, how you want me to live out my senior years. May I reflect Your loving-kindness in my days. Let me live until I die. Amen





Lesson 2, Week 4: Getting Pass the Past


Today’s Scripture Focus:  Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls, all Your waves and billows have gone over me.  Psalm 42: 7 NIV

*Before you begin, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study God’s Word.

A group of neighborhood women had completed a Bible study on God’s grace.  The key point had been that we are saved by grace and not by works.  Throughout the study all the women had seemed to understand.  But as they were winding up their final summer session, one of the ladies said, “Well, I sure hope I make it to heaven, I’m trying to do right.”

Her comment revealed that while she had shook her head at the right times and said she had understood; she still hadn’t grasped the concept of grace.  Sad to say, there are many more like her who are missing the joy of their salvation.  They are still trying to earn their way to heaven.

Think on These Things

Read Zechariah 3:1-9
We can learn many things from this passage, which relates Zechariah’s vision of Joshua the High Priest.  In the vision, Joshua is standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan is present, accusing Joshua of many things.  The Lord rebukes Satan and tells him to quit accusing Joshua.  The Lord says he has decided to be merciful to Joshua and his nation, that they are like a burning stick He has pulled from the fire. 

We are told that Joshua’s clothing were filthy rags, but the Lord gives him clean new garments and a turban. Then the Lord gives Joshua a charge to walk in His way. 

What does this passage say to us?  We, too, stand before the Lord in filthy rags (sin).  Satan is always there accusing us.  But we must choose to accept the garment of Jesus’ Righteousness, which He gives to us when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.  Jesus is Righteous (without sin).  If Jesus is our Savior, when we stand before the Lord, God no longer sees our filthy rags (sin), He only see Jesus’ clean garment of Righteousness.   To believe this, is to believe that the shed blood of Jesus had the power to get rid of our sins. 

I used to teach when purple ditto machines were “the copiers.”  Any teachers of this era know that the purple ink would get on everything, especially our clothes.  One day I had gotten a big blotch of purple on the sleeve of a silky blouse.  A fellow teacher told me to apply hairspray to the paint and it would come right out.  When I went home that evening, I tried it, and watched as the purple stain disappeared before my eyes.  I thought, that’s what the Blood of Jesus does to our sins—makes them disappear as if they had never been. 
Let us return to Zechariah 3:9 and the phrase, I will remove the sins of this land in a single day.  The single day that sins were forgiven was the day Christ died.  On that day, sins past, present, and future were wiped away for those who accept Jesus as Lord.  To refuse to believe that Jesus’ one time sacrifice washes away all our sins-- past, present, and future--is to deny the power of Jesus’ Blood.  We must choose to accept the gift of God’s grace and no longer listen to the accuser (Satan) who wants to steal our joy by filling our minds with doubts. 

God commands us to, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! (Isaiah 43:18-19)  Again, we see God’s Wisdom, for dwelling on past sings and regrets will poison us and make mental wholeness impossible.

O Lord, have mercy on me in my anguish.  My eyes are red from weeping; my health is broken from sorrow.  I am pining away with grief; my years shortened, drained away because of sadness.  My sins have sapped my strength; I stoop with sorrow and with shame. 
(Psalm 31:9-10 GNB)  Here we have a picture of how we can cause our own mental affliction by refusing to obey.

Points about Grace:

v  We don’t deserve it—“There is no one righteous, not even one.”  Romans 3:10 NIV
v  It is why Christ came—Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law, rather through the law we become conscious of sin.   (Romans 3:20 NIV)
v  We accept God’s grace by faith—This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  (Romans 3:22 NIV)
v  It is the good news (gospel)—“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  (Romans 3:23-24 NIV)

What I Learned

Who is our accuser?_____________________
When were our sins (past, present, and future) forgiven?_____________________________
In regard to the past, God commands us____________________
but look________________________________.

What is grace?______________________
Who deserves it?________________________
How do we get it?_______________________
We accept the gift of grace by ________________________
Why is grace the good news?__________________________

How I Will Apply What I Have Learned

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He quoted Scripture and Satan went running.  I will choose to do likewise.  When Satan accuses me, I will refute his lies with affirming Scriptures, such as
Romans 8:1 NIV Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Begin now to gather affirming Scriptures that state you are saved by grace and forgiven by the Blood of Jesus. 

I will refuse to cling (to dwell) on the events of the past.  I will mentally choose to let go of past regrets and dwell on the truths of God’s Word.  I will claim His promise in Joel 2:25 RSV, I will restore to you the years which the swarming locus has eaten.

Both of these actions of faith will become easier with practice.  We don’t change a lifetime of negative habits overnight, so forgive yourself if you stumble.  But each time you choose to obey God’s principles for mental wholeness, you will become mentally stronger.

Dear Lord,
            I choose by faith to believe in the power of Your Blood to cleanse me.  I am saved by Grace.  I forgive myself, and others for past sins and release the regrets I am holding.  I will obey Your command to not cling to the events of the past, but to look to the new thing You want to do in my life.  Your mercies are new every morning.  I will walk in mental wholeness because of Your gift of
Grace.  In Jesus name, Amen.   







Sunday, December 11, 2016

Week 4: God’s Blessing of Mental Wholeness; Lesson 1, Week 4: Overcoming Depression


Scripture for the Week:  My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.  Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls:  all your waves and breakers have swept over me.  By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.  Psalm 42:  6-7 NIV

Lesson 1, Week 4:  Overcoming Depression
Today’s Scripture Focus:  My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount MizarPsalm 42: 6 NIV

*Before you begin, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study God’s Word.

My mother was being admitted to the hospital for overnight observation.  “Hi, I’m Laura,” said one of the nurses.  “I’ll be your caregiver for the night.”

The comforting image of someone ministering to one’s emotional and physical needs filled my mind.  “Caregiver?  That sounds wonderful!  I could use a caregiver,” I laughingly told them.

The truth is we could all use a caregiver at times.  The accumulation of the “pains of life” often piles up to become “the pain” called depression.  If we let our minds wallow in disappointments and despair, then despondency is bond to follow.  We must choose to lift up our eyes to the heavens and allow God to lift-up our spirits.  He is longing to give us mental wholeness.

Think On These Things
Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance that we are born with.  At other times, living with too much pain or stress over a long period of time brings on the chemical imbalance.  Stress tends to deplete the supply of serotonin in the brain. 

Even though we are the ALIVE generation of seniors, aging does open the door to changes that can affect our mental health.  Many medications for blood pressure, heart, cholesterol, and others conditions, cause depression as a side effect.  Life changes may rapidly occur as we lose a spouse, elderly parents, or friends.  Our children and grandchildren may live several states away, and we wonder who will take care of us when we become physically impaired.  We have no desire to uproot from our church family and friends to relocate.  We may also have to cope with vision and hearing losses, which complicate our lives even further.  We try not to think about it, but we’re on the home stretch, and the years are speeding by.  Loneliness and anxiety may threaten our peace of mind.    

Sometimes, an antidepressant may be medically prescribed for depression, but it needs to be carefully monitored with other medications.

 Our generation tends to think any illness that affects the mind is a sign of weakness. Yet, this is not true.  Many of God’s chosen people mentioned in His Word experienced depression. 

Read 1 Kings 19:1-18 about one of God’s special prophets, named Elijah.  Elijah was a sensitive caring person whom God loved very much.  When he was depressed, God did not ignore him.  Instead he ministered to him.  We can draw comfort and strength from this passage, which shows how much God cares about our emotional pain. 

King David, another of God’s chosen, gives evidence of his bouts with depression in the numerous psalms that he wrote.  I have selected four for you to meditate upon today:
Read Psalms 22, 42, 55, and 69—Note how David’s attitude changes as he prays.  At first he is consumed by his feelings of pain and expresses a desire to escape is agony.  But as David begins to focus on God, he asks for God’s intervention, and ends by praising God.  We see David’s trust reactivated as he expects God to act, and his burden is lifted.  That is what prayer can and will do for us when we take our anxieties to God. 

Today, we are blessed beyond measure.  God in His wisdom has allowed and enabled medications to be developed that will restore the chemical imbalance in the brain.  Another blessing for our generation is the establishment of geriatric psychiatry.  This specialty addresses the needs of the 50+ generation.

If depression hangs on, or if we have resisted treatment for a long time, then medication may be needed.  We may also benefit from Christian counseling.  We need to ask God to lead us regarding these matters.  

I know many resist taking medications for depression, yet these same people would not hesitate to take an antibiotic for an infection.  This resistance reminds me of a man who resisted rescue efforts during a flood:
When a flood was threatened, officials told everyone to evacuate the area.  Buses were sent to each residence.  One man refused, even though the water was rising.  He said he had prayed and God would rescue him.

The water kept rising, and later, some men remembered the man and went back to get him in a rowboat.  Again, he refused, explaining that God is faithful and would rescue him. 

The floodwaters rose even higher, and the man was forced to climb upon his roof.  In another attempted rescue, a helicopter flew over and threw down a lifeline.  Still the refused, saying he would wait for God. 

The waters completely covered the roof and the man drowned.  Upon entering heaven, he asked God why he didn’t save him.  God replied that he had sent a bus, a boat and a helicopter, but the man had refused all three of His rescue attempts. 

When we ask God to heal our depression, we may be looking for the heavens to open.  We may expect Him to literally reach down and pluck us to safety—but sometimes God uses the ordinary to do an extraordinary rescue of healing.  God can choose to heal with an instant touch.  But generally it’s a journey where He wants to grow us in some way.  Always, He is with us each step of the way.

Sometime God may use a medical prescription along with Christian counseling, but always He uses a spiritual prescription. 

We put faith in God to save us, and we must continue to trust His promises.  We can fight depression by:
1.      Make a list of affirming Scriptures
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18  NIV
2.      Praise and Thanksgiving
My soul is downcast within me: therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.  Psalm 42: 6 NIV
3.      Meditating on the Scriptures
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.  Psalm 19:7 NIV
4.      Prayer
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12 NIV

The heaviness of spirit during a depression may make you feel like you can’t pray.  During those times, hang on, and persist even if the only prayer you can utter is “Jesus.”  There is power in the name of Jesus.  Remember, too, that we have a great High priest and the Holy Spirit who are both interceding for us.

But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them  Hebrews 7:24-25 NIV

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Romans 8: 26 NIV

If the tentacles of depression entrap us, let us remember that we are not alone.  God sees our suffering and will use it for our good. He wants to heal us, for He desires that we become mentally whole.  The Apostle Paul tells us that Suffering produces perseverance:  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:4-5 NIV

What I Have Learned
Depression can be caused by
1.
2.
3.
4.

Two spiritual giants that suffered depression were ____________ and ___________.

When Elijah sought to run away from life, what did God do for him?


How does David’s attitude change when he pours out his heart to God?


God may use a medical prescription and even counseling, but always, He uses a ________________ prescription. 

Spiritually, we may fight depression by:

Making a list of affirming ___________.
______________ and thanksgiving
______________on the Scriptures
and_______________.

Suffering produces_______________:
perseverance, ________________
character,___________________
hope does not _______________us
because God has poured out his ___________
into our hearts by the __________ __________
whom he has given us.  Romans 5:4-5

I Will Apply What I Have Learned

1.      If I am depressed I will pray and ask others to pray with me regarding my method of treatment.

I will seek direction from God’s Word.

2.      If I have a friend experiencing depression, I
       will pray for them and encourage them to seek help. 

3.      To insure mental health, I will make a personal list of
     affirming Scriptures such as Zephaniah 3:17, inserting my
     name in the selected verses. 
    
 I will praise and thank God daily for His blessings.  I will   meditate upon a psalm per day.  I will make prayer a daily priority.

Heavenly Father,
            You are our caregiver.  When we are depressed, You minister to our needs, as You cared for Elijah and David.  You hear our heart cries, and You do not waste our suffering.  You use our pain to draw us closer to You and to strengthen us in our spiritual walk.  You renew our hope.  We are mentally restored because You have poured Your love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Great are Your mercies toward Your children.  In Jesus Name, Amen. 

  










Thursday, December 8, 2016

Lesson 5, Week 3: Review and Study of Lessons 1-4, Week 3


Use as an individual review of the week.

Today’s Scripture Focus:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.  2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

* Pause and remember to ask the Holy spirit to reveal His truths to you as you Study His Word.

What I Learned
Lessons 1 & 2:
What are the eight positive things that Philippians 4:8 tells us to fill our minds with?
___________, __________, ___________, __________,
_________, ___________, ____________, __________

If we can’t literally erase bad memories and wrong thinking, how
can we renew our minds?


 How will reading and meditating on God’s Word help us to do this?

Whose attitude will we acquire if we are meditating on God’s Word daily?

Whose attitude will we acquire if we insist on filling our mind with worldly things?

According to the writer of Psalm 119, name three things that God’s Word did for Him.



Choose and write a verse from Psalm 119 that was especially meaningful to you.

Write how you have established or are attempting to establish a daily quiet time of study.

Friends often talk via email, phone, or in person.  How can daily prayer strengthen your relationship with your Heavenly Father?

Jesus prayed when He needed _______________. Matthew 14:13
He prayed _______________________________. Matthew 14:33

Complete the following statements:
1. Studying God’s Word helps me become spiritually whole by
___________________________________.

2. Spending time in prayer with God, helps me become spiritually whole by __________________________________.

Have different members of the group share their thoughts. 

Lessons 3 & 4:
Why are we told not to forsake going to church?

What can other Christians do for us that we can do when worshipping on our own?

Is the mind-set that we are to retire from church service and ministry after a certain age biblical?________________

Each person in a church is a part of the ___________of Christ.

The Holy Spirit has given everyone at least one ______________.

How will being about the Lord’s business and joining with other believers on Sunday, prepare us for the work week?

Christ came not only as our _________, but as a ___________.
We are to be _____________of Christ.

The attitudes of sin that must be confessed and overcome are ________, ___________, and ______________.

We are not to think more __________________________
___________. Romans 12:3

Jesus gave a commandment:  _____________________
_____________.John 13:34

The diligent’s (worker) soul is __________.  Proverbs 13:14

Obedience of God’s principles always brings blessings.

Prayer and Bible study are two proponents of spiritual wholeness.  But _____________________and ________________within my home, church, and community will complete my spiritual wholeness. 


Gracious Father,
            We long to be spiritually whole.  This week we have studied in Your Word, and learned how this can be.  Father, we lift each member of this group to You, asking that in our weakness, Your strength would shine through. 
            Redeem our time, and make us sensitive to Your nudges to come apart with You.  Help us to so identify with You, that we see our families, and this world of people through Your eyes.  Prompt us to be Your legs, arms, and heart of compassion in this cold, cold world.  Give us the desire to serve.  May all of our service glorify You, as You lead us into spiritual wholeness.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 




Lesson 4, Week 3: Becoming Spiritually Whole By Serving Our Family and Community


Today’s Scripture Focus:  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.

*Pause and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you read and study God’s Word.

Serve?  Been there, done that!  We’ve worked hard to provide for our families, and we’ve done our stint in community service.  We been classroom helpers, chairpersons of the “Beautify our Town” projects, and served on every conceivable drive.  Now it is time for the younger set to move into the passing lane and head on down the thoroughfare of life.  We’ll just relax and set the control on cruise—thus, goes the thinking of many seniors.  Surely this thinking has sprung up from the psychological jargon of the last few decades, which is “look out for number one.”

But that is not how it has been, nor how it is meant to be.  I’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child, and there is a lot of truth to that statement.  The popular TV series, the Waltons, showed us the benefits of involving the grandparents. Extra hands are always a blessing.  Expertise, resulting from years of experience, can make the pathway smoother.  Years ago, grandparents supplied these needs by living near, or with, their married children and their grandchildren.

Today, grandparents are still needed. Moms, dads, and children of all ages, race through life as if on roller-blades.  Parents race to job, then home again to evenings jam-packed with family and community activities. 

Grandparents are often called in to assist, whether they be near or far. Long distant grandparents may be called on to catch the next flight out and assist with whatever needs have arose.  Nearby grandparents may be called on to baby-sit or chauffer. 

In addition to our family’s needs, community service still beckons because (truthfully) the younger generation is working long hours and striving to be good parents and spouses.   Grandparents are needed.  Would we have it any other way? 

Think On These Things

But how can serving help us become spiritually whole?  It all has to do with one word, “obedience.”  Christ came not only to save mankind, but He came to serve.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be gasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  Philippians 2:3-7 NIV

When worldly wisdom is telling us we’d better look out for our needs, and we are not feeling up to par, these verses reverberate seemingly impossible demands. 

God is not asking us to be doormats—to do all the work while others sit.  Nor is He asking us to ignore wrongs, or calling us to “just” busyness.   But He is asking that when we see a need, we not be above fulfilling that need. 

The greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  Matthew 23:11-12 NIV

Three things that can keep us from serving others:

1. Prideful spirit—a sense that it’s not our place and that we are above having to stoop to such service.

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Romans 12:3 NIV

2.  Self-love—a sense of focusing on our needs rather than others.

“A new commandment I give you:  Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35 NIV
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth.  I John 3:18 NIV

3.  Laziness—The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent is made fat. Proverbs 13:4 KJV

The truth is we will never become spiritually whole until we surrender these faulty attitudes.

Read Matthew 12:15-22

Christ was not above being a servant.  We are called to be imitators of Christ.  Our walk must match our talk.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 4:1-2 NIV

What I Have Learned
Christ came not only to save, but to ________________.
Our attitude should be the same as_______________.
Jesus tells us that to be great we need to _______________.
To be a servant, we have to be willing to ___________Jesus’ teachings.

Three mind-sets that serve as roadblocks to service are:
1.
2.
3.

Whom are we to imitate?_________________

How I Will Apply What I Have Learned

  1. I will prayerfully examine my heart and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal my faulty attitudes concerning serving others.
  2. I will pray for God to show me places I can serve and where He wants me to serve.
  3. I will pray for God to help me prioritize my life. 

We must remember that the key in service is balance.   We must not neglect our families while pursue community service.  One person is not called to fulfill all needs, but every person is called to serve some need. 

Father,

      I pray for a teachable heart.  Reveal to me any wrong thinking regarding service to my family and your children who make up my community.  May I confess any sins of pride, self-love, or laziness that 
have taken up residence within my mind and heart. May I see people and their needs through Your eyes.  Show me which needs I am to fulfill and how.  You’ve called me to serve; and Father, help me to do it willingly.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lesson 3, Week 3: Becoming Spiritually Whole Through Church and Ministry


Today’s Scripture Focus:  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.

*Pause and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you read and study God’s Word.

One of my favorite memories from childhood is of picking wildflowers.  The morning glory vines would anchor themselves to the metal fences dividing our fields.  Their megaphone blossoms of purple, pink, and white decorated our fencerows.  Honeysuckle, intertwined just as firmly on the metal arbor and sweetly perfumed the air.  Clustered along the bottom of the fencerows, sweet peas blossomed in hues of rose.  A wild rose bush could generally be found nearby, and always there were the hearty dandelions, which I called “dots of gold.”  After picking the bright blossoms, I would set my pail aside and run off to a new adventure.  I remember the disappointment I felt when I returned a short while later and found my flowers drooping their heads, totally wilted.

How vibrant and alive the wildflowers had been when connected to their source of nourishment. But, oh, how quickly they withered when separated.  Believers are like that, too.  They attend church and receive nourishment from meeting together.  God’s seed is multiplied among the worshipping fellowship and the body of believers grows.  But when a believer breaks off from their source of spiritual nourishment, they loose the strength and encouragement that they receive from other believers. 
They, too, will experience a wilting in their spiritual life.

Think on These Things

Almost everyone below fifty years of age would predict that the second half of life is bound to be a “slow-down” period.  They envision every day of retirement as being filled with leisurely activities. But for those of us who are living in the autumn and winter of life, we know better.  Much to our surprise, when we arrived, life just picked up speed.  The rockers are empty for this ALIVE generation, for we are “out and about.”

We are more involved with family, friends, and worthy causes.  Many of us have lived in the fast lane for so long that we don’t have a clue about how to slow down. We may feel healthy and even work occasionally to supplement our retirement.   Besides, we want to live the American way—to embrace it all, including our dreams of travel and leisure.  Our lives are filled to the brim and at times, we may even be tempted to pass “church” and move on down the road to family activities and recreation.  In fact, it can even become a habit.  The Scriptures explain why we must not let this happen.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage—one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrew 10:24-25 NIV

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and through all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV

Read I Corinthians 12:12-31 regarding the importance of each believer. 

Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. I Corinthians 12:1 NIV

  There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  I Corinthians 12:4 & 7 NIV

Read I Corinthians 12: 7-11 to better understand why each believer is given one or more gifts from the Holy Spirit.

Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.  Deuteronomy 5:12 NIV

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.  Genesis 2:2-3 NIV

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed. 
Exodus 23:12 NIV

God knew what man has a hard time grasping; a man needs a time of refreshment and refueling.

What I Have Learned

One reason we meet together is to __________one another.

What might a church or individual member to for a fellow believer
--during sickness?_________________
--during a period of grief?____________________
--during a time of financial problems?____________
--during a spiritually dry period or struggle? _______________
What other situations come to mind where one Christian could encourage another?___________________________________

Who makes up the body of Christ?___________________

What do all believers share?________________________

The Holy Spirit gives each believer one or more gifts. The gifts are to be used for what purpose? ___________________

After reading the Scriptures regarding the Sabbath, give two reasons why you think God wanted man to keep the Sabbath holy and for man to rest from his labors? 

1.
2

How I Will Apply What I Have Learned

  1. I will make it a priority to join with a band of believers in weekly worship.
  2. I will pray about my spiritual gifts and choose to serve actively in my church. 

(Scripture never mentions a time of spiritual retirement—more on that subject later in our study. Your church ministry will be a witness to the younger generation.)

  1. I will choose to spend my Sunday worshipping the Lord and in restful activities.  I will use this day as a time of restoration both spiritually and physically.

Father,
      Thank you for teaching me the importance of joining together in fellowship with other believers.  May I encourage as well as receive encouragement from them.  Father, may I love them with Your love.  May I overlook their faults and forgive their shortcomings.  May I remember to bear their burdens in prayer