Welcome back to online Bible study at Women’s Bible Café! This week we will be discussing Unit Two of Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby entitled “Looking to God.” Our daily lessons this week included:
- God-Centered Living
- God’s Plans Versus Our Plans
- God Takes the Initiative
- God Speaks to His People
- God Speaks with a Purpose
Such fitting lessons to have studied in the beautiful country of South Africa, amongst a people who have such a different view of God and way of worshipping Him than does the typical American. I found myself so taken by the demonstations I saw of God-centered living, total dependence on God’s provision day to day and week to week. Of worship that exhibits such dependence and the thankfulness that goes with it. For seven days I witnessed the words of the Blackabys coming alive before my eyes. For those seven days, it was all about “Experiencing God.”
Now I am home in the United States, trying to keep that feeling and way of life alive, but failing miserably! I am trying to hold on to what I saw and apply it in a totally different environment, one where “God-Centered Living” looks quite different and “Our Plans” trump “God’s Plans” even amongst the most devout Christians. I believe that I can hear God speak…but can I apply what He is telling me?
Have you ever felt that way? That God is telling you something, but you can’t figure out how to implement it? Or that perhaps you are not strong enough to do what it takes? That you are swimming against the current? I know I have, and not only after spending a week observing God at work in another culture!
Our unit study covered the difference between a self-centered life and God-centered life. We learned the importance of God using ordinary people for extraordinary purposes. There are many examples of this is Scripture. We often ask a fun question in small groups: If you could meet anyone from the Old Testament who would you want to meet and why?” When you look at the answers, you realize these were ordinary people walking in God’s will. They often prayed, waited and then acted on God’s direction. We have the same opportunity today when we yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through us and in our lives.
At the end of our study this week we learned how God speaks and how to respond. Pay attention to how He is speaking to you. If you are uncertain about hearing Him, use your spiritual journal and write down your thoughts, Begin with the sentence “Today God spoke to me when He…..” and complete the sentence. Examine your heart and mind to see where He is working and speaking in your life. While His voice is not audible, it does exist. Learn to recognize it as you journal daily. Write down any frustrations you have with this concept and share your thoughts in small groups this week, or post a comment below.
In the coming weeks lessons we will delve into these concepts more deeply as we study the 7 Realities of Experiencing God. Are you ready? Are you excited? I know I am!
Flashback – March 24, 2015. Flight 200 from Atlanta, Georgia to Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight reached cruising altitude and I settled back into my seat to work on my Experiencing God lessons. I could see my seatmate, a middle aged black South African gentlemen on his way home to Johannesburg, watching me. Eventually he started asking me questions – Why was I reading and writing about God? What did I expect to learn by doing that? Why was I going to South Africa? What was I going to be doing there? What did my church hope to accomplish by bringing all of us there? He got rather loud and excited, and started drawing diagrams in my book about how churches try to help people and fail. I did my best to answer his questions but I wasn’t sure what his angle was or what he was after. It was a relief when the flight attendant delivered our dinners and the conversation ended as we ate, then drifted off to sleep. Fifteen hours later, we landed in Johannesburg. My seatmate shook my hand and wished me well on my journey. His parting words to me were “Remember to be patient, Carla. Remember to wait for God.”
ASSIGNMENT FOR THE WEEK:
- Join a small group for study and fellowship.
- Complete Week 3 in your Experiencing God workbook.
- Optional: Watch the Session 3 video or listen to the audio
- Record your thoughts in your Spiritual Journal (see pg. 271 for instructions)
BIBLE STUDY TIPS:
Sometimes we all fall behind in our Bible study lessons! Life can take unexpected turns. Satan would like nothing more than to have you just give up, but PLEASE DON’T! You can get caught up and stick with this study until the end. Every weekend, make sure you are caught up from the week before. Try doing one lesson in the morning and another in the evening until you are caught up (yes, we know the book says not to do that…but that’s an ideal… better to do two lessons a day than none!) Make Bible study a priority, giving up other activities like television and social media until you are caught up. Use your weekends to catch up since there are only 5 workbook assignments a week and no weekend assignments. Carry your workbook with you and use those spare moments we all have to catch up in your workbook. If necessary just choose a point to “start fresh” – wipe the slate clean and start a new week’s lessons. Pick up where you are supposed to be. You can always go back and do the lessons you missed later – this is not ideal but it is better than abandoning the study altogether. Finally, contact your small group leader if you are having trouble – she will be happy to share some ideas with you and keep you accountable.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK (answer in your small group or post your answers here):
- In your own words, define “self-centered” and “God-centered”. What is the key difference between the two
- Blackaby says” If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the heart of your Christian experience.” On the surface, that is a pretty harsh statement! What is your reaction to it?
- What are four ways God speaks? When He speaks what does He reveal? What is the key to knowing God’s voice?
- Can you think of a time when God probably wanted to use you in an assignment and you chose not to follow His leading? Describe the situation.
- Do your actions acknowledge Christ as Lord of your life? If so, how? If not, what response should you make to right now to His claims on your life?
I hope that you are loving this study are much as I am! Exciting things happen when we “Experience God” – hold on tight and enjoy the ride. This is just the beginning.
See you next week!