Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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So many great quotes – I should have opened a twitter account so I could share them with Uninvitedyou all!  Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely is the most recent of Lysa TerKeurst’s books.  (Others we have loved are The Best Yes and Unglued.)  Lysa is very funny, self-deprecating, honest, and relatable.  She’s like the girlfriend who leans in and tells you her heart struggles, but makes you spit out your coffee from laughing so hard.

Uninvited invites you to consider the power of rejection and its roots, to evaluate where rejection is damaging your relationships today, and to grasp what it means to live fully loved by God.  The book is excellent reading.  In addition, the study guide and dvd series (6 sessions of 15 min) offer you the opportunity to really evaluate yourself, to study relevant scripture passages, and to be held accountable by your small group over a period of time.

Members of our group walked away from the study with many different learning points.  For some it was digesting what the unlimited love and forgiveness of Jesus really means.  For others it was making the shift from walking into a social setting in need of affirmation (a dangerous and unfulfilling game), to being the one who walks into a social setting full of love and able to overflow into the lives of those more needy.  For some it was embracing the pain of the past, but realizing that it does not define their future.  And many of us grasped the lessons of the olive tree – that the hard, crushing times are a key part of God producing valuable fruit in our lives.

Buy two copies, one for you and one to give to a friend who will read it with you!

Uninvited

Prodigal God by Tim Keller

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My husband kept telling me I would love Prodigal God (2008) and I finally picked it up as a study for my small group.  It’s a short book, and extremely powerful.

You are probably familiar with the story in Luke 15 often known as “the parable of the prodigal son”.  Keller argues that we’ve missed 80 percent of the meaning behind this story because we focus on the Younger Brother.  It is rather a story of two sons – both lost, both seeking fulfillment and happiness in ways that are empty and sinful.  Keller says the parable redefines sin and lostness, and helps us understand how the Older Brother is just as lost as the Younger Brother.  Keller explores Jesus Christ as the true Elder Brother, how we long for home and find it so difficult to return, and how our Heavenly Father welcomes us into a feast that is salvation.

Keller writes, “I have seen more people encouraged, enlightened, and helped by this passage, when I explained the true meaning of it, than by any other Biblical text.”  Read it.  Prodigal God book

And don’t miss the 30 minute teaching video Keller did to accompany the book:

Summer and Escaping the Prowling Lion

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Summer is here and our Bible study group is on vacation!  Now, this is a good thing because everyone, including ministries, needs a “sabbath” in order to stay refreshed, focused and energized. Additionally, we need time to plan and prepare for the new session, which starts in September.

But hear this word from my friend Susie Walther —

The bad thing about summer is that too many women choose to fall off their spiritual wagons during the breaks.. Le me ask you this:

Do you know what happens to the gazelle who separates lion-and-antefrom the pack on the African plain? She gets eaten by the lions! Satan is described in the Bible as a prowling lion. Don’t ever forget that. When we stay linked and connected to each other, we can protect, encourage, and spur each other on, but if we begin separating from the “pack” and isolating from Christians who are running hard after Christ, we become easy pickings for the hungry lions.

I want to encourage you to fight hard for a few things during the break. Fight hard for your time with Jesus – reading His Word, journaling your God-thoughts, memorizing some Scripture, and talking to God in prayer. Fight hard to stay with the “pack” by going to coffee or lunch with other women. Some of us go to the same church, so why not sit and worship together and then invite women to join you for the next session of your Bible study group? Stay connected through your ministry’s Facebook page.  Then look around and see if you see any stragglers. If you do – grab them before they become the Devil’s chow! Don’t slow down and for Jesus’ sake, don’t stop or quit!

Why become a spiritual carcass when you could have been spiritually alive and well instead? 

The Wheel

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I shared with the ladies at The River this week “The Wheel” – a wonderful visual illustration of the Christian disciplines necessary for a believer’s growth.  It’s a great point of reference and teaching tool!

If you are a Christian and have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, then the next area of concern is what kind of progress are you making in establishing basic spiritual disciplines?

What are “the basics” of the Christian life?  These are disciplines that growing Christians maintain and that we desire to help others establish in their lives.

Wheel

  1. Christ the Center, “Lordship”. The hub of the wheel is Jesus Christ, He is at the center of a Christian’s life. Discuss – is Christ really Lord of all your life, are there areas you struggle to give Him control over? 2 Cor 5:17, Gal 2:20
  2. Word. One spoke of our relationship with God. Discuss – why to read, what to read, quiet times, daily Bible reading, learning to journal, how to do research, etc. Learn to hear it, read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it. 2 Tim 3:16, Joshua 1:8
  3. Prayer. The other spoke of our relationship with God. Discuss – why we pray, how we pray, what has God promised about praying, etc. Learn to pray more regularly and fervently, maybe keep a journal. John 15:7, Phil 4:6-7
  4. Fellowship. The spoke representing our relationship with other Christians. Discuss – do you spend time with other Christians, why we need other Christians, the role of the church, ways to stay involved and build friendships. Heb 10:24-25, Prov 13:20
  5. Witnessing. The spoke representing our relationship with nonbelievers. Discuss – the witness of our lives, why witness, how to witness. Learn write a testimony, learn an evangelism illustration, reach out to those she knows. Matt 4:19, Romans 1:16
  6. Obedience. The rim of the wheel, the most visible product of a growing Christian’s life. Discuss – why obey, what to obey, areas of struggle or disobedience. Romans 12:1, John 14:21

Adapted from Walt Henrichsen’s book Disciples are Made Not Born, chapter 8.

Angry Words Out Of My Mouth

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“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. … If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” James 1:19-20, 26NoEvil

It was a long week.  Anytime I have to teach on anger and the necessity of keeping your mouth shut, I just know it’s going to be a long week of trials and temptations!  Teaching through the book of James is tough work!

Friends, acquaintances, and random people irritated me all week-long, bless them, and I did pretty well… until 10:30 pm the night before class, when I finally snapped.  And I did it in an email where several other people got a glimpse of my not-so-pretty heart.  Sigh.

I walked into class with a heavy heart.  I took a poll and discovered that I wasn’t the only one who struggled and offended others during the week.  We paused, and everyone made a mental note of whom they had hurt.

We read in James 5:16 that we are to “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  So we sat in small groups and did just that.

We prayed Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me…” because we’ve already discussed that the problem with the mouth starts in the heart! “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

In closing we studied Romans 12:17-18. “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Thank you ladies, for your honesty and humor.  I pray that those you have offended would be as gracious and merciful as my wounded friends have been to me this week.  Courage!

The God Who Sees Me

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Our devotional last week came from Genesis 16.  It is the story of Hagar, the servant of Sarah, who became pregnant when Abraham and Sarah grew tired of waiting on their promised child and so Abraham slept with Hagar instead.  She became pregnant… Sarah hated her for it, mistreated her, and then threw her out of the house.  (In fact, she gets thrown out the house again 15 years later.) If you’re not familiar with the story, you might want to read it again.

There are many lessons that can be drawn from this awful situation, but the one I want you to focus on this week comes out of verses 11 and 13.

Gen 16:11  … the Lord has heard of your misery…

Gen 16:13  … you are The God Who Sees Me (el Roi)… and then the well is named Beer Lahai Roi.

Hagar gives God a name that is only used here in scripture.  He is the God Who Sees Me, the God who hears my story, the God who has noticed that I am suffering.

Whatever your place in life, whatever your struggle – know that God sees you and God hears your cries for help.  He not only knows, He desires to support you and give you further instructions and encouragement.

“The eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Devotional 09/23/14