Who Are You Anyway?
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of faithfulness. Even when we fail, You never let us down. You have said that where two or three are gathered in Your name, You are there with them. As we gather together as women today, we are grateful that You are in our midst. In everything we do together, we pray that our eyes would remain on You and we would listen carefully for Your voice. To you be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Lesson Four Part Two: Adversity Leads Us To Self-Examination
Mr. Stanley wants us to see how adversity can lead us to self-examination, and that we should do it in an ongoing and regular way. In 1 Corinthians 11:28 Paul tells us “Let a man examine himself. “ He reminds us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we need to keep the rubbish of our past from building up in our lives. It’s important for us to let go of old hurts, old habits, and destructive behaviors. When we let these things stay in the forefront of our minds, by pressing the replay button, they stay in our present, they become our truth. By sending us adversity, God sends us a wake-up call for introspection and forces us to choose a fresh path. It is away for Him to look into our hearts and see what secrets we are hiding there.
Read Psalm 139:23-24
3. Mr. Stanley asks us after reading this verse, “What does the process of God’s searching your heart involve?” At times our hearts are not as godly and spiritual as we would like them to be. The Bible talks about the heart around 946 times, and the Bible uses the heart to mean everything that is going on inside of us. When we think of the heart, we tend to associate it with our emotions. But the Hebrew understanding was wider than that. It included the emotions, but it also involves the mind, the conscience, and the will.
God uses the pressure cooker of life to prepare us for the responsibilities He has in mind for us in His Kingdom? When our mind and our heart are challenged by employment difficulties, financial distresses, relationships with others, health concerns, God may step back for a while to see how eager we are to deal with these issues according to His will. How we handle hard times tells God a lot about us and how much we are learning to think like He does. And how our actions could reflect the mind of Christ or our own selfish, carnal responses. When you feel like your back is against the wall, stop and ask God how should I react, what would You want me to do? This might just be a test of your willingness to obey God’s voice.
Read Proverbs 17:3 and Jeremiah 17:10 Lamentations 3:40-41
4. We just read Lamentations, and Mr. Stanley wants us to think about “how a person can search out and examine his ways?” He wants us to list practical examples. So, what steps should we take to make sure our hearts are spiritually healthy in the sight of God? I just recently heard from an old friend and she said that I am very different from who I used to be. And she didn’t think it was a good change. Her statement started me thinking about what she might have meant. As Mr. Stanley reminded me, I am called by God to make a thorough self-examination to see who is the real Vickie? To answer this question, I came up with this short check list.
1. Check on your behaviors. In my case this friend and I used to spend our Saturday nights out dancing and carousing, staying out too late to get up the next day for church. Now I rarely miss church, and even look forward to my time with the Lord.
2. Check on your language. I have used offensive words in mixed company in the past. I cannot defend the use of these words, but I can admit that I no longer feel the need to express myself in this way and understand how badly using these words were on my character.
3. Check on the things you think about. I confess that I was preoccupied with the thoughts of earning of money, and of how the lack or the plenty of it would affect my life and family. I never would have shared money without thinking how it would benefit my situation. Now, I firmly believe in the act of tithing and giving my time and talents to help others. I have learned that God is the true provider of everything I will need.
After analyzing this check list, it hit me my old friend was exactly right, I wasn’t that same girl anymore! Although I know that I am far from perfect. And just because I have done things in the past, that I am not proud of, and now I am a Pastors wife, does not make me a hypocrite. I know that God is still working on me. I have many other sins, but I have confidence that He will continue to send me trials and tests to bring me closer to Christ. And until then I can be a witness that God’s loves us sins and all. What she had intended as a slap in my face, was really a pat on the back, for all the lessons I have learned so far.
Read Psalm 69:5 and Romans 4:8 NIV John 3:17 and Mark 2:17
In question five Mr. Stanley asked us to give practical examples for what we think it is to lift our hearts and hands to God. This seemed on the surface to be an easy question to answer, but the more I thought about what that meant, the more it eluded me. I saw an image of my sister who raises her arms and hands during singing and in praise when she is here in church with us. She does it so easily and securely, but when I try to do it, I feel uncomfortable. And because I appear so reluctant, with my tentative stiff small arm raised I wonder if people think it is just for show. Do I look like a faker, just going through the motions? The feelings of love and gratitude I have for everything that Jesus has done for me is very real. But yet, I feel uncomfortable making a public spectacle of my love. I did some research and found that there are quite a few passages of scripture about raising our hands in worship. Psalm 63:4, Psalm 28:1, Psalm 88:9, Psalm 119:48, Psalm 134:2 please don’t think it’s only in the beauty of the Psalms that we are called to worship with raised hands, but in 2 Chronicles 6:12–13, Ezra 9:5, Nehemiah 8:6, 1 Timothy 2:8. So with all this biblical instruction why is it so hard for me? Is it hard for you? Let’s take a minute and list some of the ways you lift your heart and hands to God. Here is my list:
I sing out during worship: My greatest privilege is to be the one who selects the hymns we sing on Sundays. Before I start to make my choices, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me. I love music and I truly believe that in singing we are sharing and expressing how we feel about our Lord.
I place my hand on my heart: When my hand is on my heart, I am making my pledge of allegiance to the Lord. I guess this is my comfortable way of raising my hands.
I bow my head against my daughter’s in prayer: A long time ago I made a promise to God that if He granted my request to be a mother, I would raise my children to know Him, and worship with them together in His presence.
I say Amen out loud: It’s not boisterous or meant to be heard by anyone other than God. I learned that Amen is a Hebrew word that is essentially an affirmation of truth or agreement, meaning something like ‘so be it’, ‘it is so’, or ‘it is true’. I can’t help but say Amen when I want God to know I have heard Him and know what He said was true.
Read Psalm 88:9 and Psalm 119:48