Friday, September 27, 2013

A Dependent Daughter Study - Depend on God or Man? - There is NO Question!!

Welcome back, I'm sorry for the delay in this post, but have been praying for those of you working through this study. Again feel free to share any thoughts, questions or insights in the comment section of my blog or email them to me. Asking God to speak to you through this week's lesson.

I’ll admit I’ve spent most of my life battling an addiction. I’ve been addicted to the approval of others and have spent years trying to please them. Worries about what others think have consumed me at times. Thoughts about not being good enough and never measuring up have overwhelmed me. By seeking others’ approval, I’ve depended on them to define my worth, affirm my abilities and determine my next step. And friend, when we are depending on someone other than God, we’re not depending on Him. Join me now as we dig a bit deeper into this and seek to understand what makes God so dependable!!

Prayer -
Dear Heavenly Father, You are good, You are powerful and You are loving. You have the desire and ability to give us exactly what we need. We know you are faithful so please Lord forgive us when we depend on others instead of You. This week we ask You to open our eyes to see where and when we are depending on anyone other than You. As we look into Your Word remind us who You are…a loving Father, who knows exactly what we need and provides it in Your perfect timing. Lord, we ask You to strengthen our desire to be Your dependent daughter. In Jesus Name, Amen

Day 1
1. Growing up we depend on our parents, as an athlete we depended on teammates, if we are married we depend on our husband and as friends we count on one another. Make a list of how you depend on others.

2. Now take some time and discuss your list with God. Ask Him to show you if you’re depending on others wrongly, if you’re putting them in a place that belongs to Him.

3. God created us for relationship. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 4:9 that two are better than one; God knew we would need each other, but we must remember our most important relationship must be the one we have with Him. The people we have in our lives are all human...though they are able to help us, they were never created to be our everything and though they may be dependable, we are not to be dependent of them. Read these verses and make note of what makes God more dependable than man -
Psalms 118:8

Isaiah 2:22 -

Isaiah 49:15 -

Micah 7:5-7 -

Proverbs 29:25 -

Psalm 146:3-6

Friends in the verses above we're reminded that God is more dependable than man...I pray those words from God Himself encourage you to turn to Him before others and trust in Him more than you do the people in your life. As I've journeyed through this process of becoming a more dependent daughter, God's shown me I don't just struggle with depending on others, but at times I depend on myself before I depend on God. Is this something you struggle with? Take some time to pray about this now.

Day 2
4. In the next lesson we'll spend more time with this topic but for now take a look at the following verses and make note of what we must do in order to live a life dependent on God rather than ourselves.
Luke 9:23

Proverbs 3:5

1 Corinthians 1:24-25

5. As children of God we are able to depend on God as our Father. I am a parent with good intentions, but too often I fail; God on the other hand in the perfect parent. Read Luke 11:11-13...what picture does this paint of your heavenly Father? How does it encourage you as God's dependent daughter?

6. We've established the fact that we are to rely on God rather than depend on man. Let's take some time and look at a few of the things God has to offer.
Psalms 37:4

Psalms 37:23-24

Psalms 46:1

Psalms 68:19

Psalms 116:6

Proverbs 13:24

Isaiah 40:29

Matthew 6:11

Matthew 11:28

John 6:35

Galations 5:22-23

Philippians 4:6

2 Peter 1:3

Day 3
7. Think about all God has given you in the past; I pray that encourages you as you think about what He will provide in the future. Romans 8:32 provides a picture of His greatest gift and a reminder of His precious promise from Philippians 4:19. Read these two verses...ask God to speak to you personally through them. Make note of what He has to say.

8. In closing, spend some time meditating and praying over the following verses. Ask God to use them to encourage you as you strive to be His dependent daughter.
Psalms 27:1

Psalms 37:23-24

Proverbs 3:5

Isaiah 41:10,13

Jeremiah 17:5-9

Philippians 4:6-7

1 Peter 5:7

9. Close this week's study by writing a prayer of commitment. Share with God your desire to depend on Him rather than man. Ask Him to open your eyes to when you rely on others, or yourself, for strength, affirmation, wisdom... Praise Him for being a Father we can depend on and thank Him for making you His dependable daughter.

Closing Thought - Remember if you're depending on others or your self, you're not depending on God.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From the mouths of babes...

My Little Cookie Monster
My little Jed man is a rough and tough guy who loves life on the farm, enjoys a daily wrestling match and usually prefers grunting over talking! He really isn't a guy of many words and sweet isn't the first word that comes to mind when I describe him, but over the last few weeks he's said some words that are sweet. And they've put a picture in my mind.

Every night at bedtime, after prayers and before I've given him a goodnight kiss, he shares words that have touched my heart. Prior to any words from me, Jed says, "Love you too." For a few days I didn't think too much of this because I know he's simply repeating what he hears his older siblings say during the night time routine.

But the other night, after a day that had found Jed in trouble which led to unwanted discipline, I looked at it a bit differently. My little guy didn't wait for me to tell him I loved him, he started the conversation with "love you too." With those words he not only shared his love with me, but confirmed his understanding of my love for him.

Now perhaps I'm analyzing this a bit too much when it comes to a 3 year old, but thoughts of this has led to thoughts about my relationship with my heavenly Father. Shouldn't I too respond to God with Jed's words? Even on days that have been hard, when I've experienced discipline and even doubt. Those things shouldn't make me question God's love, but instead I need to be sure of it. So much so that before God even tells me He loves me I tell Him, "I love you too."

Friends, I've been reminded God loves you, and me. Though He allows hard things to enter our lives, disciplines us and calls us out of our comfort zone...He loves us. Often He does these very things because He loves us. Though our lives change, we sin and loved ones die He stays the same, never fails and will love us eternally. He is the One who created us, chose us and gave up His Son for us. Why do I question and doubt His love? Why do I worry that I could lose it?

I am so thankful for the words of my Jed-man and even more grateful for how God has used them in my life. I've been encouraged to share the sames ones with God and pray you have been as well.

"but God shows his love for us 
in that while we were still sinners, 
Christ died for us." 
Romans 5:8

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Dependent Daughter Study...Lesson 1 - A Picture of Dependence

A couple of days back, I shared thoughts about how God is working in me regards to my role as a dependent daughter. (You can read that HERE.) Tuesday night at Titus24U we discussed this idea, shared our experiences and looked at God's Word...the conversation could have lasted longer and our learning was not complete, so I'm back to dig a bit deeper. Personally, I've never led a study on my blog, but it's something God is leading me to do so I'm depending on Him and moving forward. 

Friend, I believe God led you here for a reason and I pray He uses this to encourage and equip you in your role as a dependent daughter. Feel free to work through the questions below and if you're led join in the conversation via the comments. We'd love to hear your thoughts and see what God is saying to you! Plans are for this to be a 3 part study, so lesson 1 today, lesson 2 "Depend on God or Man? There is NO Question" on the 26th and the final lesson, "Becoming a Dependent Daughter" on October 3rd. 

Honestly I still struggle a bit with the thought of me putting together a Bible study and then leading it on my blog, but I trust it's something God is leading me to do and if I say I depend on Him then I'd better submit to Him!! I take this step knowing it really doesn't depend on me anyway, God's Word is what speaks to us, equips us and changes us, so friend I look forward to walking through this with you!!

Now onto the study - 

Over the last 10 days I've had a heavy heart...I've learned of the death of 3 young people, which breaks my heart, stirs up fear and reminds me the future is unknown. Thankfully in my study and prep, I came across 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, here Paul says, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us..." 

Friends, I don't know about you, but when bad, hard things, especially death, happen I'm reminded that I'm not in control...God always shows me that I can NOT rely on myself. The other night we looked at this passage and a friend pointed out the reference to God delivering in the past, present and future...He's been there in the past to provide what we need, we can depend on Him to continue to do the same now and in the days to come. As we journey through this study, my prayer is that we will better understand dependence, have a stronger desire to depend on God and thus become more dependent on Him.

Prayer -
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord we come to you now with the desire to better understand our role as dependent daughters. We know You provide for every need and may even say we depend on You for everything, but Lord we want to live like this is true, every moment of every day. We ask You now to help us understand what dependence is and show us what it looks like. Open our eyes to see and our ears to hear, but most importantly our hearts to receive all You have for us. Father, we thank You in advance for what You will do. In Jesus Name, Amen

I held my son in my arms and God gave me a picture, a picture of dependence. At 8 months there wasn’t much Jed could do for himself, but he was cared for and content. The love he received wasn’t a result of his actions. He didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but worry was not a result of that fact. No, this little guy was comfortable in my arms. When he cried, I came. If he was hungry, I fed him. As a Mom, if he had a need, I met it.  

1) That’s the way it should be…parents take care of their children. Make a quick list of all the things a child depends on their parents for…

2) Read John 1:12, if you’ve received Christ, who are you? 

3) The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13, begins with a specific name of God. What name is that? 

4) John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  We refer to God as our Father and He considers us His children, which means we are to rely on Him. Make a list of the things you depend on God for…

5) What does it mean to depend on someone?

6) Think of someone who you depend on…what makes them dependable?

7) Often we depend on the people we know, trust and respect…the same is true of God, the better we know Him and more we trust Him the more we will come to depend on Him. How can you get to know Him more? Do you want to know Him more? Spend some time praying about this…ask Him to give you the desire to abide in Him and grow closer to Him so that you can depend more on Him.

8) Let’s look at a few Biblical examples of dependent daughters. How did each of these women depend on God? What need did God provide? How did He do this?

Ruth - Ruth 1:11-18, to go deeper read the entire book of Ruth

Rahab - Joshua 2:1-24, 6:17-25

Mary - Luke 1:26-55

9) Friends, there is much dependence requires - obedience, trust and submission come to mind. What would you add to the list? In what is often referred to as "Mary's Song" (Luke 1:47-55), she refers to many qualities that make God dependable, what are they?

10) These stories are good, but God's Word is more than information; it is living, active and sharper than a double edge sword (Hebrews 4:12). He can use it to transform us, but we must seek Him. Ask God to show you what lesson He wants you to learn from the dependent daughters we just read about. (For more examples consider - Sarah, Esther or Hannah.) In question 1, we made a list of things children depend on their parents there something you need to depend on your heavenly Father for? Take some time to pray about that now and don't forget to ask God for the desire to apply what You've learned so you too can become more of a dependent daughter!

Closing Thought - It's easy to say we depend on God, but let's commit to living like we really do so that we too can be a picture of dependence.

Thank you for joining me in the this journey and remember to join in the conversation below in the comments. (You don't have to be a blogger to do this....just use the anonymous option.) I look forward to hearing what you have to say and will continue to pray God speaks to your heart as you go to His Word.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Dependent Daughter

I'm a mother of 5 dependents, but lately I've been reminded that I am a child of my heavenly Father. Which means, I am God's dependent daughter. This is a truth God's shown me for years, but something I've dug into deeper this last month. This process began in August when God showed me I was depending on others for approval. Through the years, He has worked in me and I've made strides in this department, but my eyes were opened and I saw it was still an issue.

Upon the advice of a friend, I prayed a new prayer. I no longer simply asked God to take away my desire to please man and gain their approval, but I asked Him to help me overcome this and live to please Him and Him alone. In that process, I was lead to three verses that touch on the subject and encouraged to live a life that pleases the only One who matters!

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galations 1:10

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:43

God's shown me that when I'm seeking approval from other's, I'm not depending on His. (Ouch!) I continue to be a work in progress, but God is changing me. And as He uses His Word to transform me, He's shown me I struggle with my role as a dependent daughter in other ways as well. I'm not only guilty of turning to others for approval, encouragement and a listening ear, I'm also guilty of depending on myself. The last couple of weeks God's shown me times when I trust in my own understanding, rely on my strength and depend on myself.

I've been convicted and encouraged. I've been challenged and uplifted. I've dug into God's Word, thought about it, prayed it and am trying to live it. I no longer want to simply say, "I depend on God for everything!", I want to live like I really do. How about you?

If this role is one you'd like to learn more about, I encourage you to join me on Thursday, when we dig into the topic a bit more. God is leading me to share what He's been showing me and I'd love for you to join us in the journey.

Until then something to think about....
How would you finish this statement - We can depend on God because _______________________.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Baby Jonathon

Baby Jonathon really hasn't been a baby for awhile, but that's how our family has referred to him since day one, and today, the one that marks his last here on earth, is a day that brought tears.

Some may wonder see we never saw this little guy face to face and my children didn't know his family at all, but God created a connection and as a Mom I'm feeling many emotions.

I grieve for his dad, Kyle, a young man I watched grow up years ago when I taught school and he attended, for Jonathon's mom, Sara, a woman I've only met once, but who has ministered to me greatly with her Caringbridge posts and for baby Johnny's big brother James, a little one who undoubtedly loves life and chances are will struggle a bit with death. (Don't we all?)

I am sad because life is hard. In March of 2011, Jonathon was born with heart defects that have impacted him every day since. I would read Sara's posts as my little Jesse, just 4 months younger than her little "J", played and did things little boys do knowing it was only by the grace of God my situation wasn't the same as hers. Every single time I read her updates, God put my life in better perspective. Friend, if your children are healthy you and I have much to be thankful for! Today, rather than taking that for granted will you join me in giving thanks?

I hurt for his extended family...the ones who've personally been touched and blessed by the little guy who had a sweet smile. For them, life will never be the same. This loss brings pain, questions and a void, but I pray they will turn to God for healing, answers and rest.

I am thankful for baby Jonathon's life, a life that only lasted 2 1/2 years, but one that has left a mark. He's a little guy who did things Dr.'s said he never would and touched hearts even though his was broken. I am thankful for the light his parents have nearly every update they shared, God was referenced. It was Him they trusted when they first heard Jonathon's diagnosis before he was even born and I'm confident it will be God they praise when they celebrate their little boy's life and say a "Good-bye" no parent wants to say.

I'm a bit surprised with the tears that are falling yet again as I write these words, but I know God has a reason for them and a lesson for me. I hear Him reminding me, "Jill, I'm still in control and always will be. I have a plan, though it can include hard stuff, it is good. I created baby Jonathon and knew the number of his days...he lived his life to the fullest and made the most of his days, now you do the same. His parents are hurting, but I am holding them. They've lost a son, I did too, I know how to comfort them. You can still trust me. Love your children and remember, really, they are mine. When times are tough and the pain hurts, keep seeking Me...I am strong and have the power to heal. My daughter, don't forget this life is not the end, because you know Me and have accepted my Son, one day you will be with Us for eternity."

Friend, I don't know what your day has held, but I know the One who is holding it. Today will you take a minute and pray for the Lockies, they've been grateful for prayers in the past and will continue to need them in the future. Thank you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

"There's a steal!"

I can still hear my little sister's voice on the old VHS tape from my senior night basketball game. She was excited about my steal and second's later videod a shot of the scoreboard and enthusiastically added, "In overtime!" so we'd remember the final game in Riceville was a thriller.

That moment was the personal highlight of my high school career...who doesn't want to get the steal and make a lay-up in the final seconds? The memory sticks out not only because we won the game, but because it all happened because of defense, which is what my game was all about.

Shooting was not my thing and height wasn't in my genes, so scoring and rebounding were things I did, but not areas where I excelled. But steals that's a stat I always checked!

I hadn't thought about this much lately, but the other day as I heard a speaker talk about Satan - the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy, I recalled my basketball days. The speaker shared how as Christians, Satan does not have the power to kill and destroy us, but friends he can and often does steal things from us.

He often works like I did on the basketball court...he anticipates, takes a risk and attacks when we're least expecting it. And he also prefers to take advantage of our weaknesses, he steals things when we're alone and knows when we are frustrated.

As I thought about this, my mind shifted from memories of myself as a defensive player to ones of when I was trying to protect the ball. Just as I prided myself in high numbers of steals, I worked hard to keep the number of turnovers low. How did I do that?

I studied my opponent. I knew her tendencies. I was alert and tried to be careful and wise with the ball. Friends, we must do the same with Satan. He's not just a quick, aggressive high school player; he's a lion on the attack out to steal from us whatever he can take...things like joy, peace and confidence.

In sports it's often said, "The best offense is a good defense" and I believe the same is true when it comes to faith. If we want to grow as believers we must defend our faith...not just from the world around us, but especially Satan the one who'd love to steal it, and all the good things God wants to give, from us.

Question for the day - What advice do you have to share about defending your faith?

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong. 
(2 Corinthians 16:13)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Prayer for New Beginnings

Dear Heavenly Father,
Lord this morning my heart is burdened for new beginnings. I think of the school year starting, new sports seasons beginning, new relationships and new routines. I also am thinking of those who have recently lost loved ones and their lives will never be the same. As we all move forward into situations and relationships that are new, I ask You to go with us.

Though our schedules, our days and for some even our lives look different remind us Lord that You are the SAME. You were good, faithful and powerful yesterday and will be again today and even tomorrow.

For me, change and newness can create overwhelming thoughts and emotions, take those things away and help me trust You with all of my heart and lean not on my own understanding. Then Lord make my path me clearly see what way to go during this new season of life. I trust YOU to guide and direct me.

Father, as we move forward with new demands on our time, energy and efforts help us cast all of our cares on YOU knowing YOU will provide. Thank You for being the perfect parent. Help us each embrace Your love and discipline believing You have our best interest in mind.

Father as these new beginnings and perhaps even roles unfold may we remember who we are - Your child, one who is dependent on YOU, called by YOU and created for YOU. Help us to bring You glory and shine Your light where ever You lead us to go, or stay.

Finally Father, I ask for wisdom, strength and patience for each and everyone who is joining me in prayer today. Help us to come to YOU and ASK for what we need and then give us humility to receive what YOU offer Lord.

Today as new beginnings take place, we are reminded to look forward to the day when YOU will make all things new! Until then Lord go with us now, fill us with Your spirit and equip us to do Your work.

In Jesus powerful and precious name, Amen