Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Earthen Vessel Speaks

I'm going to post the studies I put together to share with my cousin this weekend. I don't know how much of them I'll be able to use, but Dr. Roff (one of Brian's professors) always urged his counseling students to prepare and study and then pray that the Lord would allow to be sensitive and able to adapt. That seemed wise to me, so that is the model I'm trying to follow.

Study 1: The Human Predicament & the Divine Rescue


Prayer for illumination


Does God get angry?
What things make God angry?
Does God love me?
How do you think we can get to heaven?
-or- If God asked you why He should let you into heaven, what would you say?


God’s anger against Israel’s sin:
Isaiah 1:1-4 “My sons have revolted against Me”
Isaiah 3:16-26 punishment for the daughters of Zion
Isaiah 8:9 “be broken, be shattered”
Isaiah 8:13-15 “the Lord is your fear and dread”

The cause of God’s anger:
Isaiah 5 the pride and rebellion of Israel
Isaiah 10 more wicked deeds of Israel

We have all sinned (Romans 3:23, 3:10 Psalm 51:5 Romans 6:14-15) and deserve God’s punishment (Romans 6:23).

Sin is disobeying God. It takes many types and forms. (Exodus 20, Matthew 22:36-40, Galatians 5:19-21) Because of sin, no man can please God. (Hebrews 11:6, Isaiah 64:6-7) Even our experience teaches us that. This is a world of wickedness and death. Truth, good, and beauty are rare and hard to find. So is God angry with everyone? No. He is not angry with Christ and those who believe in Him.

There is hope:
Isaiah 9:2-3 “people who walk in darkness will see a great light”
Isaiah 9:4-7 the reign of justice and righteousness
Isaiah 50 the power of the Lord to accomplish His purpose
Isaiah 53 the suffering servant

God does love us. He sent His Son to be the peacemaker and scapegoat for us.

The overwhelming love of God for the repentant:
Isaiah 42 “A bruised reed He will not break”
Isaiah 43:1-7 “Do not fear, I have redeemed you, I have called you by name”
Isaiah 44:1-9 “the Lord made you and will help you”
Isaiah 49:8-16 “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands”
Isaiah 61 “The oil of gladness instead of mourning”
Isaiah 62 The restoration of Jerusalem
Isaiah 64:8-12 God is the potter
James 4:6 “He gives grace to the humble”
Psalm 130 “if you should mark iniquities, who could stand?”
Matthew 26:26-29 “This is My blood of My covenant”
Acts 10:43 “the prophets bear witness…forgiveness of sins”
Colossians 2:13-23 “He rescued us from the domain of darkness”


Now is the time to repent:
Isaiah 48:4 “I know that you are obstinate”
Hebrews 3:7-12 “Today if you hear His voice…”


Study 2: One Door and Only One

Prayer for insight

Is the Bible the Word of God?
Are Christians different from other people? How?
Is Christianity the only true religion?
How do you think we can get to heaven?
Can you know for sure that you are going to heaven?
How can I know God’s will for my life?

The trustworthiness of Scripture:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “all Scripture is God-breathed”
Hebrews 4:12 “the Word of God is living and active”
John 1:14 “the Word became flesh” (The Bible is a reflection of God’s perfect character—in it is everything that we need to know and believe)
Matthew 4:4 the Word defends us against temptation and the devil
Luke 16:17 the word does not fail
Isaiah 55:11 “it will not return to Me empty”
Psalm 119:105 God’s Word guides believers
Matthew 5:18 even the smallest portions of Scripture are important
Revelation 19:13 “His name is called the Word of God”

The Bible consists of 66 books written over a period of 1,500 years by a varied collection of authors: kings, fishermen, shepherds, a tent-maker, a physician, and priests. Yet it is a unified, whole book. It is complete, deep, rich, and does not contradict itself.

Either Jesus is a liar and the Bible is false or He is the Son of God and every word of the Scriptures is true.

Christianity as the unique and true religion:
John 10 the story of the Good Shepherd
The Good Shepherd loves and knows His sheep
Christianity is the only religion where the leader does the work for you.
The hired hands (false teachers) do not care for the sheep and don’t sacrifice themselves for the sheep.
Belief in the Lord Jesus is the only way to heaven. If you try to enter by another way, you are a thief and a robber.

Jesus guarantees the salvation of His sheep:
No one can snatch them out of His hand.

Knowing God’s will:
His sheep know His voice (we learn to recognize His voice by studying the Word—that is how He speaks to us today)

The first step to knowing God’s will for your life is to get to know the Scriptures. There are many commandments and principles that tell us how to live in the Bible.

Psalm 23 the sheep’s perspective on the Good Shepherd


Study 3: The Heart of the Christian

Prayer for understanding

What one thing do you love the most?
What does it mean to be a Christian?
What is the purpose of life?
In what way are Christians different from other people?
How can a Christian learn and grow?
How do you break bad habits?
What should you do if you disobey God?
Our desires reveal what we love the most:
Matthew 6:19-20 “where your treasure is there your heart will be”
Luke 18:22-25 the rich young ruler
James 4:1-2 “what is the source of quarrels among you?”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “you shall love the Lord your God”

Christians are no longer living for themselves:
Ephesians 6:19-20 “bought with a price”
Romans 12:1-2 “living sacrifices”
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 “so that the name of Jesus will be glorified”

Our purpose in life is to serve God, which ultimately brings joy:
Revelation 4:9-11 elders casting crowns at Jesus’ feet
John 14:23 if you love me, obey my commandments

The life of the Christian should be very different from a nonbeliever:
Galatians 5:16-24 fruit of the spirit, fruit of the flesh
Ezekiel 36:26-29 heart of flesh, not heart of stone

No one can change without God:
James.1:5 -7 pray for wisdom
Matthew 6:33 seek first the kingdom of God
Psalm 1 meditate on it His word day and night

We are in a body of sin. We will disobey. But we must repent:
Romans 7:15 what I want to do I don’t do
Psalm 51 David’s prayer of repentance


God is patient. He forgives:
1 John 1:5-10 Faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us
Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work in you will be faithful

Prayer of repentance

Study 4: The Immense God of the Universe

Prayer for humility

Does God hear us when we pray?
Does God always answer prayers the way we want Him to?
Who is in control of the universe?
Why does God allow bad things to happen?

God does hear his people:
James 5:16 prayer of a righteous man
Romans 8:26-27 the spirit interceding with moaning
1 Samuel 1-2 Hannah’s prayer

He does answer our prayers. Sometimes the answer is no:
2 Samuel 11-12 David and the baby
James 4:2-3 ask with wrong motives
Romans 8:28 all things for good
Isaiah 55:9 My thoughts are higher than your thoughts
Lamentations 3:38-40 “why should any mortal offer complaint”

God controls all things:
Isaiah 36 the defeat of Sennacherib
Proverbs 21:1 the heart of the king is water
Mark 2:1-12 the paralyzed man
Psalm 97:1-6 Mountains melt like wax

To be God is to be absolutely free. He decides what is right and wrong:
Romans 9:14 “there is no injustice with God”
Romans 9:21 ignoble and noble vessels
Job 40:6-14 God’s rebuke to Job
Job 42:1-6 Job’s repentance
1 Colossians 1:16-22 “in Him all things hold together”


Study 5: A New Citizenship

Prayer for hope and faith.

What can a Christian expect life to be like?
What is the Christian’s hope?

The Christian’s life is one of struggle and trial:
Ephesians 6:10-18 spiritual warfare
John 15:18-27 “if the world hates you, know that it hated me”
Matthew 22:33-41 the parable of the Son and the vineyard
2 Corinthians 10:24 Paul’s trials
Hebrews 11:37-38 the trials of the godly men of old
James 1:2-4 consider trials a joy

The Lord is with His children:
Romans 8:31-39 “if God is for us, who can be against us?”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 weak things to shame the wise
Luke 12:4-7 “do not fear those that can kill the body”
John. 14:26-27 “peace I leave with you”
Hebrew 13:5-6 “I will never desert you or forsake you”

And one day this world will pass away!
Revelation 21:1-7 “and He will wipe away every tear”
Hebrews 11:8-10 Heavenly city, author and builder is God
1 Peter 1:3-9 obtaining an imperishable inheritance
Philippians 3:20 “for our citizenship is in heaven”
Romans 9:15-19 “fellow heirs with Christ”

Prayer for patience

Monday, January 24, 2005

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:10

That is one of my Mom's special Bible verses and probably the first verse I learned by heart. Back in the days when she had no money and was studying to get her nursing degree, she was a living example of trusting God to provide your bread daily.

Truly, the Lord is faithful. He cares for His own. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. He knows the number of hairs on our heads, and cares for us more than the sparrow or the lilies of the field.

How richly He blessed us this weekend! We had a gorgeous day for our second yard sale. We were supposed to start at 8am, but there were cars there by 7:15. It took us until 9:00 to get everything out of the house because we were so busy selling things to people. The street was so full of cars that it was obstructing traffic and my Mom's lawn and driveway were covered with items for sale. Some friends came by with 14 beautiful hanging plants to sell that they had raised themselves. Those sold in a heartbeat. People were waiting in line to pay for stuff!! It was 10am before Mom had a chance to put up the yard sale signs. I gave out a ton of brochures for agency and met several people who had adopted or who were thinking about adoption-- I even met one woman who had Ava (our agency's director) for her caseworker 11 years ago! Mom, Brian , and I were busy from the moment we began taking stuff out until 12:30 or 1. After that, it was about time to clean up. We made 460.11! I never dreamed we could make that much! And I didn't want to have a second yard sale. The Lord always provides just what His people need, and I'm so happy that He has seen fit to provide for us to adopt. It is yet again a wonderful confirmation that this is the path that He has for us.

But His blessings are not over yet. Yesterday at church a mother of a large family gave us $100 to put towards our adoption fund! That brings it to 560.11. Plus the $150 we made from our first sale. So that brings it to 710.11 that we have earned from the generous gifts of our friends. And we are definitely having a third sale on February 12, because we have a room at our house full and a room at the church full of stuff that we didn't haul out to Coral Springs to sell. Plus, we still have people telling us that they have more that they want to give us. It is absolutely mind-boggling. What a tremendous blessing from God. If you are reading this and you donated something for us to sell: THANK YOU SO MUCH! You were a means of grace to us and we love you dearly!

We know that in all times and all things whether they seem good or bad to us "that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose." He truly cares for His people and we are so thankful to Him for His abundant provision!

Friday, January 14, 2005

A Tiara in Exchange for Tears

Sometimes I get so excited thinking about the day our baby will come home! It is so nice to be able to think that we will have a baby someday. Going through the adoption process has brought balm for the pain of infertility in some ways. Although I have a dead womb, God can still bring new life into our family!

And that is just like God. He always takes the least expected route. He comes into the world not as a King, but a peasant. He takes that which is decayed and rotten and makes it pure and lovely.

Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Isaiah 55:1

That's grace. It's too beautiful for my clumsy words to express. That's what art was made for. I really wish that the church had more artisians. But that is another topic. :)

I guess that is part of the reason that I started this blog-- because I want to share the gracious work that God is doing in my life with others. I sure do stumble a lot, but He is so very patient. Please feel free to comment and share how God has been gracious in your life. It can be an experience, a Bible verse, a comment that was shared at just the right time. Let's encourage one another and build each other up! Even if you don't have a blog, you can comment. Just enter your name and e-mail address. I would like to hear from you!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

On a Brighter Note

I can't remember what I wrote about our first yard sale, but it was a success. We raised over $150 for our adoption fund, and people were very generous in donating old things to us.

Well, that was the only one we were planning on having, but many people came to me afterward and said they had more stuff to give if we wanted to do another one. I was reluctant (being the lazy girl that I am) but my Mom said we could have it at her place and it seemed like it would be despising the means God was providing not to have another one. So we are having another yard sale. I have even higher hopes for this one, because so far we have about 3 times more stuff to sell than we did for the last one! My Mom's house is on a much less busy street than ours, so I hope that we get enough traffic to sell a lot. We're putting ads in a few local papers, so I think that will help. I was completely overwhelmed when we went to her house to price and sort Monday night because there were two rooms full!! But after we worked sorting and repacking and pricing, we managed to fit it into one room, with space to spare.

So the sale is Jan 22, the stuff is rolling in, and we're actually managing to keep it relatively organized. I'm excited about that, and it is good to be doing something constructive while waiting for baby. I keep reminding myself that we haven't really been waiting that long! If you take Dec 8th (the day our home study was finalized) as our "conception date", then we wouldn't have a baby until September anyway.


That's one thing God seems to be trying to teach me. And I want it, but I'm really not enjoying it. Esoterically speaking, humility conjures up images of piety, of fasting-starved nuns praying, of the poor man coming first into the kingdom of God. But that's just my fevered imagination's perspective. The rest of me can testify that it is going around smelling like urine-- someone else's urine. It is pulling one thing out of a drawer for an impatient person only to find that it is tangled up in a bunch of other stuff. It's being chastised for someone else's mistakes. It's never being trusted to do anything important. It's being treated rudely just because you are not in a high position. It's having to sit naked in a doctor's exam room for an hour. It's having drug testing and fingerprinting done, your finances from the past 3 years examined, your home inspected, your marriage peered into, and your friends questioned in order to do what everyone else does naturally. It is having justify wanting to go through all the time and expense to people who would be thrilled if you told them you were pregnant. It is being deficient and diseased.

I'm learning that in order to become humble, you have to go through this process called humiliation. And that pride that you are praying so hard against? It really doesn't like it. It whispers in your ear "You deserve better than this. How can they treat you that way? Why do things always happen to you?" I want that pride to die so badly. I want to be like Jesus.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Ps. 119:89

I'm listening to one of the psalm CDs that Brian got me for Christmas and it is so wonderful. There is nothing like scripture to realign a quickly skewed perspective. I'm going to (hopefully!) be adding some recommendations to my blog from time and time and I highly recommend Psalm recordings. You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the words are true-- and it is comforting beyond measure. Often I've heard songs or hymns that express a beautiful sentiment and I think to myself, "Gee, I'm not sure about that. I hope that is right. I wish I could be confident of that." No matter how shocking or too-good-to-be-true it sounds, you can cast your anchor in the words of scripture. The psalms are soul comfort.