(Please read II Kings 4:8-37 and 8:1-6) If at all possible, read it in two different translations for a better understanding.
1. Who was this Shunammite woman?
2. What was her response when the prophet wished to repay her kindness?
HONEST REFLECTION: How would I have responded?
3. What was her response when told she'd have a son?
4. How do you think she felt when her son was born, and she actually held him for the first time?
5. What happened to the boy, and how did she respond?
HONEST REFLECTION: How would I have responded?
6. When told of the famine, and that she and the boy should leave for seven years, what did she do?
HONEST REFLECTION: Would it be hard for me (whether wealthy, like her, or not) to leave my home and earthly possessions, just because someone said to?
7. When she returned, how did the Lord (through the King) reward her obedience?
Please read: Hebrews 11:17-40 and Job 1-2
8. What is the common thread between these people?9. What can I take to heart from this lesson, and apply to my daily life?
The following is from the book All of the Women of the Bible, by Edith Deen:
"From the beginning to this dramatic conclusion, the Shunammite's life is an example of victorious living. Her peculiar charm is her serenity in moments of trial, her firmness in affliction, her calm yet energetic prosecution of her son's rights before the king, and her unselfish endurance, amid anxiety and anguish. She won every claim to greatness, because at the sudden death of her only son she could go forward and seek the man of God, who she knew could heal her son. And when he asked how it was with the child, she could answer, 'It is wel.'.
"In the gallery of Bible women there is no better example of positive faith. The Shunammite did not allow negative ideas to enter her mind because she had such sublime confidence in the power of God."
AFTERTHOUGHT: How can I develop this kind of 'trusting faith'?
Hebrews 11:1&6 Romans 8:28 Psalms 25:10 Revelation 3:10
(Please read all 4 chapters of Ruth) If at all possible, read it in two different translations for a better understanding.
"The book of Ruth gives us 'a realistic portrait of life with ist's struggles and tragedies, yet describes how the faith and faithfulness of godly people enable God to turn tragedy into triumph and defeat into redemption' (from the Full Life Study Bible (c) 1992 Life Publishers International)"
1. How did Ruth, a Moabite, end up being involved with a Jewish family?
2. After the death of her husband, Ruth was free to remarry among her own people. Instead, she chose to go along with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem. What do you believe influenced her decision?
3. In your own words, write out your perception of Ruth. Her character.
4. What was Ruth's attitude towards Naomi? Towards Boaz?
5. What was Boaz' attitude towards Ruth?
6. Reread Ruth 1:16 & 17, then read Matthew 10:39 and Ruth 4:13-17. Explain, please, how Jesus' words were proven true in Ruth's life.
HONEST REFLECTION: Have I laid things aside in my own life to humbly serve another? or have I hung on when I felt the Lord's gentle leading to let go? Be specific!Do I alow my love for the Lord to show by reaching out across the 'barriers'? (racial, financial, social, denominational)
7. In what ways did the Lord reward Ruth for her faithfulness?
8. What do you think is the significance of Ruth becoming the mother of Obed (father of Jesse, father of David?)
The following excerpts are from All the Women of the Bible, by Edith Deen: "By her perseverance and faithfulness, she had achieved the seemingly impossible. She had been lifted out of obscurity and poverty to influence and plenty." and "Love had worked the miracle in Ruth's life. She was beloved by all because she was so lovable. She had proved that love can lift one out of poverty and obscurity, love can bring forth a wonderful child, love can shed its rays, like sunlight, on all whom it touches, even a forlorn and weary mother-in-law. Ruth's love had even penetrated the barriers of race."
The following excerpt is from All the Women of the Bible, by Herbert Lockyer: "The firm decision of Ruth to follow Jehovah, and to completely identify herself with His people, brought her a rich reward when she became the ancestress of the Savior who came into the world to save idolaters and sinners of every race. With her surrender to the calims of God, Ruth's 'beauty of heart, generosity of soul, firmness of duty and meekness' were sanctified, and were used to place her winsome portrait among the immortals. There are thousands of Christian parents whose heavy load would be lifted if only their unsaved children would come home one day confessing 'Thy God shall be my God, thy people my people.' The miracle happened in the heathen heart of Ruth, and God is still the same today as when He won the young widow of Moab for Himself."
AFTERTHOUGHT: How is it possible for me to learn to walk in this kind of faithful obedience and service?
Proverbs 2:1-11 Proverbs 3:5 & 6 Matthew 6:25-34 Matthew 19:29 & 20:26 Jeremiah 29:11-13
(Please read all 9 Chapters of Esther) If at all possible, read it in at least two different translations for a beter understanding.
1. From Chapter 2, tell who Esther was.
2. What was the secret that Esther withheld from the King, and why?
3. Explain Esther's acts of obedience to her cousin (her acting father), Mordecai.
4. What were the possible risks involved with these acts?
HONEST REFLECTION: Today, we might not face the possibility of death, but we all have times where we could face possible rejection and ridicule. If I was asked to help in such a way that I would face risks like these, would I be able to have the faith to do it?
5. What was God's respone to Esther's faithful obedience?
"As an historical character, Esther is the supreme heroine who delivers her nation from disaster: as a woman, she is that rare indificual, a mixture of charm, strength and guile: a human being whose character is secure from the rot of wealth, prosperity and power." (from All the Women of the Bible, by Herbert Lockyer)
6. What important lesson can we learn from Esther in Chapter 4, verses 15-17?
7. Did Esther do all that she needed to do by herself? Explain.
HONEST REFLECTION: When faced with difficulties in my own life, do I 'jump in' and try to conquer them myself, or do I seek the Lord through prayer asking others to pray with me?
8. What do you feel are the importnat lessons to be learned from Esther's life?
9. Is there anything I just don't understand about this special Queen? (if you answered yes, of if you have any questions, just email me at email@example.com)
AFTERTHOUGHT: Life often seems bleak, without answers, full of disasters at every turn. How can I obtain the strength to face such adversities with obedient faith as Esther?
2 Timothy 1:7 & 12 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 and Philippians 4:5-7 may help you on your journey!
(an often misunderstood servant)
Please answer question # 1 before reading the scripture references.
1. Who do I think Mary Magdalene is?(Please read: Matthew 27:56 & 61, 28:1; Mark 15:40 & 47, 16:1-19; Luke 8:2-3, 24:10; John 19:25, 20:1-18) If at all possible, please read it in at least two different translations for a clearer understanding.
2. After reading these references, do I still feel the answer I gave to question # 1 was correct? Explain:
Mary "The Magdalene" was from the town of Magdala, a thriving town on the coast of Galilee about three miles from Capernaum (according to author Herbert Lockyer) and was always identified in scripture as Mary Magdalene, just as Christ was often referred to as Jesus, the Nazarene. It was a normal way of describing someone to 'tag on' their home town, or occupation.
3. Mark 16:9 and Luke 8:2 tell us what happened to Mary Magdalene when she met Jesus, describe:
The number seven (in scripture) suggests 'completeness' (again, according to Lockyer)and implies that when the evil spirits dominated Mary, the suffering was extremely sever.
We do not know what these spirits (or demons) were, or what symptoms exactly they caused, however we do know from other passages in scripture where possessios occurred, there were a lot of demented activities; ie: cutting oneself, throwing oneself into the flames, nakedness, violence, screaming, foaming at the mouth, just to name a few (see Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew 17:14-18, Luke 4:33-35, & Mark 9:14-27)
4. Out of her deepest gratitude to Jesus, what was her response?
5. Whenever she is named, it is usually with other women, however her name is most often listed first, what does this tell you about her?
6. Mary Magdalene was (it appears) always on the forefront of Jesus ministry, pouring out her support in several ways. After re-reading Luke 8:2-3, what ways do you see here support being shown?
"Mary's home town had dye works and primitive textile factories which added to the wealth of the town. It may be that "The Magdalene" was connected with industry of the town for it would seem as if she was not without means, enabling her to serve the Lord with her substance." (Lockyer)
HONEST REFLECTION: Do I, out of my gratitude for all that Christ has done for me, give back to Him my all? Or, do I say 'thanks' and go on living my own life (perhaps giving some, so I don't feel too guilty)?
7. Where was Mary Magdalene during the trial and crucifixion of her Lord?
8. Because of her faithful devotion to Jesus (before, during and even after His death), how was she rewarded?
AFTERTHOUGHT: Am I 'faithfully devoted' like Mary Magdalene, or do I tend to run and deny, as Peter (see Mark 14:66-72)?
How can I obtain a "servant's heart" like Mary Magdalene? 1. By reflecting on all He has done for me in my life, and in the life of my family (example: The Psalms of Assents - Psalms 120 - 134 - each year as the people headed for Jerusalem for the sacred feasts, they would sing these as a reminder)
2. By remembering His mercy to us and His healing of our past 'demons' (or hurts, sins, or whatever He has delivered us from). Romans 3:1-2, Romans 10:9-13
3. By remembering His greatest commandment: Matthew 22:37-40
4. By remembering His example: John 13:1-17 & 34-35
Please read Luke 7:36-50) If at all possible, read it in at least two different translations for a better understanding.
This unnamed woman shares with us a beautiful, heart tugging story of repentance and gratefulness for the forgiveness that Jesus offers us all. Jesus used her actions to tell us about receiving and giving pardon in our own lives.
1. What do you suppose went through this woman's heart and mind when she heard that Jesus would be nearby?
2. What actions did she take to see Him?
3. At what risk?
HONEST REFLECTION: When I realized the forgiveness that Christ offered me, did I relate in total abandonment as she? Or did I hold back (at times, with certain people) for fear of how they'd react towards me?
4. What were the responses of the Pharisees to her actions?
5. What was the response of Jesus towards them?
6. What was the response of Jesus towards her?
Please re-read verse 47. The following excerpt is from tne NIV Full Life Study Bible (c) 1992 Life Publishers International:
"SHE LOVED MUCH. Real love for and devotion to Jesus must come from a deep awareness of the sinfulness of our past condition, His love for us revealed when He gave Himself on the cross, and the inner assurance that we are now forgiven and cared for. Faith that is not based on these foundations will not endure."
AFTERTHOUGHT: What can I take from this example and how can I apply it to my life today?
1. Jesus accepts us now, today, the way we are. All we need to do is to come to Him with our repentance and desire for a clean, fresh start.
2. Even if the world looks on us with scorn for the things we may have done in the past, Jesus love is pure and all encompassing. He does not laugh at our tears, nor does He ridicule our pouring out our hearts before Him as an offering; in fact, He delights in our coming to Him.
3. In Jesus Christ, our forgiveness is complete and there is no longer any condemnation. We can stand, bold, whole and totally cleansed. A new creation in Him.
Ps 119:59 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Ps 147:11 & 149:4
(Please read all Genesis 16, 21:9-17, 25:12-18 and Gal 4:24-25) If at all possible, read it in at least two different translations for a beter understanding.
1. Where was Hagar from, and what position did she hold?
2. What did Sarai ask her to do?
3. What was Hagar's attitude towards Sarai, afterwards?
HONEST REFLECTION: Is there someone in my life, whom I used to serve (or respect) that I now despise?
(The Word despise is Qalal (Kaw-lal) which means to bring into contempt, to make light of, to lightly esteem.) With this definition in mind, what is my HONEST REFLECTION?
4. What do you think caused Hagar's attitude change?
5. What was Sarai's reaction to Hagar's new attitude?
When someone's attitude for me changes, do I react negatively? Or in God's Love, do I truly pray for that person?
6. What did Hagar do when faced with Sarai's reaction? Describe what transpired.
- " by="" god's="" promise="" to="" us="" we="" can endure all things. He alone is our hope, our source of strength." (an excerpt from Women of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer)
7. Another 'attitude' reared it's ugly head fourteen years later through Ishmael and Hagar. . . . "mocking" . . . the word used is tsa=chaq (tsaw-khauk'), meaning to laugh outright, make sport of, mock, scorn. The results of this episode brought forth her banishment by Abraham and Sarah. Describe what happened.
- "Hagar's extremity became God's opportunity."
"Abraham had given Hagar a bottle (emphasis mine) of water, but it was soon empty. God gave her a well (emphasis mine) and the lad drank and God was with him, and he grew and became an archer in the wilderness." (Lockyer)
AFTERTHOUGHT: What lessons can I learn from Hagar's life?
- My own personal thoughts on this notation from Lockyer (and from my own life experiences) is that no matter what life offers me,and by life I mean 'man' or 'jobs' or - you fill in the blank, that it is soon empty. Only true fulfullment comes from drinking from the well that springs out of my walk with the Lord!
1. Daily "attitude" checks - Eph. 4:22-24
2. Clinging to God's promises above all else - Joshua 23:14, Psalm 145:13
3. Walking in obedience - Psalm 119:59, Daniel 3, Acts 4:18-20 and 1 Samuel 15:22
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