Tuesday, June 3, 2014

God is Able, week 1

Happy Summer!  I am anxious to kick off this experience of reading Priscilla Shirer's book God is Able, and I'm anticipating seeing God work big changes in me through Ephesians 3:20-21!  I hope you are coming along for what promises to be a crazy fun ride if we let His word shape us.  I've loved reading Priscilla's writing since I first did her Bible study, Discerning the Voice of God.  Having met her through my work with LifeWay, I can tell you that she's as real as it gets.  Because she's a busy working mom like me, I feel a bit of a connection.  However, as much as I enjoy her writing, my prayer really is that I/we will hear God speak as we read.

This book is really just about the words written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:20-21.  I can honestly say that these are my very favorite verses in all of scripture because I've seen their reality in my life and personal ministry.  These words have shaped much of my ministry in the last 3 years and I could tell you story after story of how God has done far more than I ever thought to ask or imagine in terms of ministry. But I want to see them as reality in my family, in my personal life, and in my "secular" job.  I was to see Him do immeasurable more in my children, in my finances, and in my own church.  How about you?  Do you long to have a fresh experience with His "above and beyond" power in your current reality?  Do you need to be reminded that nothing is impossible with God?  Let's believe it can happen together.

Hopefully you've obtained the book by now.  If not, run out and get it so you can join us.  I hope you will read the first section titled appropriately "First" as well as Chapter 1.  I'll give you a few discussion questions each week and I pray you will actually answer them in a journal or maybe even in your book.  I'd especially love it if you'd comment on this blog or on my Facebook page so that we can encourage each other as God speaks to us! I'll share with you some of my answers to these discussion questions in hopes of spurring some conversation between us.

1.  Here's the obvious question:  What is that "it" in your life right now?  Is there something in your life that has honestly made you wonder if God can do "this"?  I love this paragraph on page 2:

"You'd still like to think He can.  And if you were to spout all your churchy rhetoric, it'd sure sound like you believe He can.  But deep down - down where your soul pulses with doubt and uneasiness - you wonder about that circumstance, that life issue, that dilemma you're facing.  God may be able to keep the stars in the sky, the earth tilted on its axis, and the heavens hung in glorious array.  But can He do this?"

So what's that for you?

For me, it's my children.  Specifically, it's my boys.  I'm starting to wonder if they will ever be serious and passionate about their faith.  I want so desperately for them to live out their daily lives exuding Christ and serious about sharing their faith.  I want them to enjoy church and not just tolerate it because they have to. There, I said it!  I want them to passionately serve God with their talents and abilities.

It's also college.  Will we ever be able to afford it?  Will my two guys get into good schools?  Will they follow God's leading on where to go?  Will they even really consider His plan and pray about it?  Let's just be honest...will they actually graduate from high school without getting into so much trouble?

Finally, will I ever know EXACTLY what He's created me to do?  How could I expect my kids to live out their calling when I'm never really sure if I'm living out mine?  I do love my life, but there's always that goal out there that I've never quite attained.  Is He able to do that, or is that just my goal and not His?

2. If we are going to openly admit that there is something in our lives making us doubt His ability, we really should also remind ourselves of times when He's undeniably shown His faithfulness.  Priscilla shares story after story on pages 6-12 of times when God has outrightly displayed His ability and faithfulness.  Those stories make me get excited about God's obvious ability!  Dear Friend, God is not just able and faithful in Priscilla's world, He moves in those same ways for us!  So, here's the question, do you have a story?  You do, I'm sure of it!  I love the way Priscilla puts it on page 6:

"Time and again, He has proven very plainly to me that He is not held down by what holds us.  He has bowled me over with His capacity and inclination to do the unthinkable, both in my own life as well as in the lives of others.  As surely as He's tested me, He has also given me a testimony.  And it would be a grand cover-up on my part not to tell His part of the story in the same big bold colors."

What's your story of God's ability and faithfulness?

Mine, plain and simply, is my family.  Those same boys that are my "it" are also my testimony.  Fourteen and sixteen years ago God so very graciously allowed us to adopt Caleb and Justin!  God is faithful and able and His plan is unbelievably spectacular!

3.  Please find an index card or two and literally write Ephesians 3:20-21.  Circle the first word: "Now..."
I urge you to keep this card with you all day.  Put it in your pocket, on your dashboard, over your sink, on your mirror, wherever you are.  I'm making it the screen saver on my phone! I also urge you to set an alarm for 3:20pm (or 3:20am if you can't sleep!) to remind you to pray for God to infuse your current reality with His undeniable ability!  Literally pray the verses back to Him.  It doesn't have to be a long prayer, just a minute will refocus and remind you of His ability!

Read several translations of the verse.  Most of you already know this, but a great free app to use for various translations is YouVersion or Bible Gateway.  Which translation of Ephesians 3:20-21 is the most fresh and meaningful for you right now?

4.  On pages 30-31, Priscilla starts to unveil the setting of this letter Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus. What was seemingly impossible about the situation they were in and how God had called them to live?  Does this realization of their reality offer any challenge or encouragement to you?

5.  Where was Paul when he wrote this letter?  How does the term "prison doxology" encourage or challenge you?

It's your turn!  Come on!  Please share with us what God is teaching you through this study!  I'd love for you to connect with us by leaving a comment!  Feel free to share this with someone who needs a Bible study group!

I'm praying for each of us this week to make the choice to connect our "nows" with God's unfathomable ability and faithfulness!  I'm praying you undeniably sense His presence and love even in your "its"!


Angie said...

The 'It's' in my life are behaviors with myself and one of my children, and for my ministry.

I am LOVING this book!

I had claimed, a few months ago, these very verses in Ephesians for Lessons From Aisle 12!

Shauna Willis said...

The big 'It's' in my life right now are 'How on earth am I going to find a job at my age!' And 'how can the church and its school live in love and harmony and unity?' They both seem as impossible as the jews and the gentiles coming together in Christ! So I need the word NOW right now. God is able and He has given me more than I ever thought or imagined ( I didn't even know enough to ask Him for the job and church/school blessings we've enjoyed for the past 9 years!) But what about "now?" God knew I would need this study right now...thanks, Sis, for leading it!

Susan Clabaugh said...

It "it" in my life is my PTSD and working through my "life". Will my life ever be normal again? or as normal as life gets! Will I ever work a real job again? Will I make it through all of my "it"?

Becky McVey said...

After losing 32 pounds about eight years ago, my weight is now on the way back up. Some of it medication related, but some of it is related to how much food I stuff in my mouth. I just can't seem to say no to goodies. Even though I don't buy them, they are everywhere I go. I have never tried turning this over to God; it seems so trivial for God to be worried about. However, there has been a BIG thing going on in my life in the past ten years. Just in the last few months have I seen a resolution to that. I know God is able, if I just trust him with my issues. So, I am going to turn this weight gain over to God. Knee problems and diabetes run in my family. Both are made worse by weight gain.

Knowing Paul was in prison makes me think how sometimes we make ourselves be in prison. We box up our problems and don't share them with anyone, especially God. Calling them out to God, and believing He can do something about them is the only way we can be assured of getting an answer. Now we just need to be ready if that answer is no. It has always bothered me people say that God didn't answer their prayer. Yes, He did. If the answer wasn't yes, it might have been no, or not now. It is never just left in limbo because He didn't have the time or desire to answer it. I am going to challenge myself to let myself out of prison and just trust God that He can and will handle my problems.