Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sharing Our Study

                This morning I am going to share with you a little bit from the study our women’s group is doing in the book of Acts. We have come to the point in Acts where Paul was arrested in the temple at Jerusalem, being accused of allowing Gentiles to enter into the holy place of God. The Jewish leaders create a large mass of disruption and get the attention of the Roman guards because of it. Paul is taken into custody, after he has been beaten by the people, and asks to give a defense to the crowd before him.

                Paul stands up before this great mob of people and gives his testimony. He tells them about who he was before becoming a Christian, tells them how the Lord met him on the road to Damascus, and then tells them about the ministry the Lord has given him. This all begins in Chapter 22 of the book of Acts. So, if you have some time today, I want to encourage you to get your bible’s out, get a notebook out and do this part of our study for yourselves. I am going to share with you my answers and perhaps, if the Lord chooses to use these words of mine, perhaps they will encourage you, as they have encouraged me.
                We begin by reading Chapter 22 of the book of Acts. After you read through this chapter, I want you to go back and focus in on verses 3-5 of chapter 22. The question the Lord had me ask the ladies in our study was this; “Think back to who you were before you came to know Christ. What are some areas that the Lord has changed in you?” Take a moment and write down in your notebook who you were before you came to know Jesus. For me, personally, I was a selfish woman. I cared for no one except me. It was all about me, and it was all for me. I did not care who I hurt along the way, as long as I got what I wanted when I wanted it. I was a drug addict, and alcoholic, an adulterer, liar, manipulator and just about anything else you can think of- that was me. But almost instantly, the Lord Jesus Christ came into my life and took away all these sins. He took away my need for drugs and alcohol, restored my marriage and family that had been broken by sin, and gave me patience and compassion for others. It was no more about me, but about them. This was a huge change for me. So, take a minute, and answer the question from our study- “Think back to who you were before you came to know Christ. What are some areas that the Lord has changed in you?” (Go ahead, I will wait)
                The next question the Lord led me to write and ask was about the time in their lives that they were new Christians. We read Acts 22: 6-16. I asked the ladies this question; “Think back to the day when you gave your life to Jesus Christ. Were there any particular scriptures that the Lord gave you during that period of time that you still treasure? Spend some quiet time with the Lord reflecting on the work He has done in your life.” For me, this took me back to some times in my life when I was struggling in my relationships and in my personal walk.
                Some of the scriptures that the Lord reminded me of are ones I still go to today when I find myself back in these same issues. The first one that really hit my heart this morning was Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”
                This scripture the Lord used and still uses to remind me not to look backwards, but to always keep looking forwards. I struggled with my past sins greatly after I came to know the Lord. I struggled with the person I had been, the people I had hurt and the destruction that sin had caused in my family. But the Lord kept reminding me that my past was gone. It was not only gone, but it was forgiven and forgotten the day that Jesus was nailed to the cross. He showed me that every time I look back at the past, and at the life that I led, I was walking backwards. I don’t know if you have ever tried to walk backwards for any length of time, but usually, when we walk backwards, we fall, and we stumble. He showed me to put my back to the past and my eyes on Him, that was the only way that He wanted me to walk. By looking at my past, all I was doing was reliving a life that He had taken me out of. I still to this day, use this scripture to help me get my focus back on Him, instead of my past.

                Another scripture that really spoke to me at this time of my life was Psalm 45. Pretty much the whole Psalm, but mainly verses 10-11. “Listen, O daughter. Consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house; so the king will greatly desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, worship Him.” When I became a Christian, my husband was an unbeliever and I was in a constant battle with my mother and other family members. When I became a Christian, my whole family freaked out. I had left the “holy mother” (Mary) I had denied the Catholic Church, I had walked away from God and walked into a cult. I was threatened by my mother and my sister, threatening to take away my children if I did not stop this “Jesus” nonsense. My mother sent me a copy of her will with my name marked out in red marker. I was cut out of her life, and her future. My heart was hurting, but the Lord never left me.
               That is when the Lord showed me this scripture. He showed me that the only person I needed to live to please was Him. He used this scripture to show me that I was His one and only, and He was my one and only. He showed me that I needed to let go of all their threats, all their hurtful words and just walk my life out before Him. He was the only one that mattered. He would take care of me, He would provide for me, and all that I had to do was worship Him. This Psalm helped me to let go of those who would not accept who I was in Christ, and allowed me to embrace the Lord more and more. So, what about you? What are some scriptures that the Lord has given to you that have spoken to you? Spend some time with the Lord and let Him encourage you and strengthen your walk with Him today.
                The last question was a difficult one for me, because it is something that I have struggled with quite a bit over the years. We are now into the last part of Chapter 22 in the book of Acts. We have listened to Paul give his testimony, and now, he gives the reason why the Lord has saved him from the life he was living. Now, Paul goes on to tell the people why God chose him. Take your bible out and read verses 17-29 in Acts chapter 22. The question the Lord asked us ladies was this: “What do you believe the Lord is asking of you today? Is there a particular ministry, area of service that is on your heart and mind? Pray and ask the Lord to show you what it is He has called you to do. In what ways can you begin to walk in the calling He has placed on your life?”
                When I wrote the study, the Lord had been speaking to me about the calling on my life. Listening to Paul talk about how he was chosen to go to the Gentiles to preach the gospel spoke to my heart. Even though I am not an evangelist, there is a desire within me to give women the opportunity to know Jesus for themselves. My best sister in the Lord, she is the evangelist. I joke with her that if she catches them, I will clean them. We are co-fisher women for the Lord. She evangelizes them, gets them to the cross, and then I come in and give them the Word. However, the Lord has shown me that is what He wants me to do. Now, if you have read my blog recently, you will know that for me, “a calling” is the same across the board. We all have the same calling. (For more on this, click on this link for my blog- http://proverbs3110-hiswoman.blogspot.com/2014/08/called-to-be-a.html) But, in the same sense we have all been given specific gifts and talents to use to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. It does not matter where we do it- it only matters that we do it. So, I ask you- is there a particular ministry, an area of service that is on your heart and mind? Take some time with the Lord today and pray and ask Him to show you what it is He is asking you to do to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have all been called to do it; we just might not do it the same way.
               I pray today that the questions that we have been asking in our study will encourage you as well. I know for me, personally, being able to go back with the Lord from time to time and look over the changes He has made in my life and the scriptures He has used to bring about those changes has strengthened me every time. I pray today that each one of you will take some time out of your busy day to answer these questions and to be refreshed, encouraged and strengthened as well. I pray also, that you would be encouraged to draw nearer to the Lord today. It is also my prayer that the scriptures the Lord gave me will also be an encouragement to you. I pray all of this in Jesus Name. Amen and Amen.

Here are the questions and scriptures again, in case you missed them.
Read Acts 22:3-30
His Early Conduct: (Before Christ) Read vs. 3-5
Think back to who you were before you came to know Christ. What are some areas that the Lord has changed in you?

His Conversion: (Paul’s testimony) Read vs. 6-16
Think back to the day when you gave your life to Jesus Christ. Were there any particular scriptures that the Lord gave you during that period of time that you still treasure? Spend some quiet time with the Lord reflecting on the work He has done in your life.


His Calling (Paul’s Ministry) Read vs. 17-29
What do you believe the Lord is asking of you today? Is there a particular ministry, area of service that is on your heart and mind? Pray and ask the Lord to show you what it is He has called you to do. In what ways can you begin to walk in the calling He has placed on your life?