Philemon Week #2

Dear Ladies,

     I just want to camp for a little while longer on Philemon vs12 "I am sending him-who is my very heart-back to you"   In the New Living Translation it goes "I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my heart". God has a way of linking believers' hearts together in a way that the world can never quite understand. I believe that we need to experience the intensity of God's love for ourselves before we  can truly love as He intends. After that it gets so much easier. I feel like I'm at a point now when I can love people that I don't even really like. 

    That's a statement only a fellow believer can understand. I could love the girls my sons brought home even though I knew they were  going to break their little teenage hearts. I can love the drunks that spit and swear at me just as easily as I love the sweet little 4 year old who swallowed a penny and 3 legos. 

     The love God instills in my heart let's me reason with the unreasonable, even after they start tugging at my last frayed nerve. It also lets me bend down to my pregnant daughter-in-law's belly and whisper words of love to my future granddaughter. That's right ladies' Emily's having a girl. Little Aurora Grace Gaucher already occupies room in my heart and she won't even be here until July. 

     All this to say I understand Paul's anguish as he's releasing Onesimus back to his owner. It permeates each word in this letter. It's not like when you tell your kids that stray puppy has a real home. Onesimus came as a runaway slave. His owner has every right to have him stoned to death just to discourage his other slaves from following suit. Paul doesn't know what he's sending him to but he's leaving as a new creation in Christ. Paul has come to depend upon this man to serve his own needs as well as those of the body of believers. It's easy to understand the desire to keep him around. Good Christ-filled brothers and sisters are hard to find and even harder to let go of. Take time today to thank God for each one that he's placed in your heart and cherish every moment you have together. 

     Love, as always, Renée 


Now on to this week's lesson

Read 2 John

Memory verse 2 John :6 " Love means doing what God has commanded, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you have heard from the beginning"


1. Some scholars believe the "Lady" John wrote to is actually the church. Do you agree or disagree? Support your answer. 

2. What one command does he have for this woman?

3. How loving is your own walk?

4. Other than Christ on the cross, what is the most meaningful example of love that you've ever seen?

5. John cautions against false teaching. How confident are you that you can discern truth?

6. How willing are you to be a woman who boldly corrects false teaching?

7. Ephesians 4:15 commands us to speak the truth in love. Have you ever leaned so far on the side of love that you shied away from truth?

8. When have you spoken solid truth but missed the boat on love?


For personal growth:

We read strong words in vs 10. "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching do not take them into your house or welcome them"  Othe translations say don't allow them in your meeting. John goes on to state that anyone who welcomes them shares in their wickedness. Are you silently condoning faulty or false teaching because you're afraid to speak the truth in love? What would you do if the pastor misspoke from the pulpit? How likely is it that you would confront him or call him out? What if falsehood came from your neighbor's mouth? What if it struck closer to home? What if your own child or sibling is the one who brings false teaching? Would you be able to turn them away? What are the consequences if you don't?


For the good of the group:

Who do you know that walks the line between truth and love especially well?

Philemon Week #1

Dear Ladies,

     Sometimes life is just unfair. People hurt us and no one seems to notice or care. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the world just keeps spinning. It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking it doesn’t matter what we do. When we see the rich and powerful succeed no matter who they hurt, step on or completely disregard it can be so darn frustrating. 

     I think we grow frustrated because we want human justice. We fail to comprehend divine perfect justice which gets meted out in God’s perfect timing. 

     By the time Obadiah comes around the feud between Israel and Edom is centuries old and God has lots of reasons to be angry over how the Edomites have treated His chosen people. Mostly, I believe He’s saddened by their perpetual hatred of each other. Hatred between brothers is always sad. It’s made worse when it’s passed along to children, grandchildren and each subsequent generation. 

     I once had a pastor tell me that the Hebrew word for extreme blood-thirsty violence is “chamas”. This might be a stretch on my part but it sounds a lot like Hamas, the violent sect of Palestinians whose life mission is to wipe out the Jews. Interesting that this is where Esau’s descendants settled. 

     I’m not suggesting that every sibling rivalry will eventually threaten world peace. What I am saying, and so is Obadiah, is that there will be a day and time when God will say “enough!” to this sibling rivalry. That will not be a pretty day and I don’t think any of us wants to be around to see it. But that day is coming. When God makes a promise He always keeps it. His plans cannot be thwarted and His justice will come in His way and in His timing. 

     In Micah God tells us to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. It’s kind of sad that Esau never learned that lesson. Hopefully we can. 

     Love as always, Renée 


Now on to this week’s lesson. 

Read Philemon 

Memory verse:12 “I am sending him-who is my very heart- back to you”


1. How well do you demonstrate love for your fellow believers?

2. How can you be a source of love for the women in this group or for our fellow church members?

3. What would need to change in your life before others considered you to be a source of joy?

4. Paul, writing from prison, likely faced discouragement. Who is God calling you to encourage right now?

5. Can you think of a time when you had the power and authority to force someone to succumb to your will, but instead allowed them to make their own decision? Describe those circumstances. 

6. How easy was it for you to set aside your will in that instance?

7. How confident were you that they’d make the right choice?

8. How might God be using you right now to encourage another believer to let go of someone or something that they love?


For personal growth:

Paul mentions Epaphras in his closing. This is the same Epaphras who shared the gospel with the Colossians. How cool is it that rather than wrapping himself in bitterness, he used his time in prison to tell Paul about the body of believers in Colassae?  What  is your attitude like when life doesn’t turn out the way you imagine it should?  What imprisons you?  How can you be a bold spokesperson for your own church?  What does your church do especially well? Where does it need to grow?  How willing are you to be an instrument of change in your church?


For the good of the group:

Who is most likely to refer to you as their beloved co-worker as Paul does if Philemon?

Philemon

Dear Ladies,

     Sometimes life is just unfair. People hurt us and no one seems to notice or care. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the world just keeps spinning. It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking it doesn’t matter what we do. When we see the rich and powerful succeed no matter who they hurt, step on or completely disregard it can be so darn frustrating. 

     I think we grow frustrated because we want human justice. We fail to comprehend divine perfect justice which gets meted out in God’s perfect timing. 

     By the time Obadiah comes around the feud between Israel and Edom is centuries old and God has lots of reasons to be angry over how the Edomites have treated His chosen people. Mostly, I believe He’s saddened by their perpetual hatred of each other. Hatred between brothers is always sad. It’s made worse when it’s passed along to children, grandchildren and each subsequent generation. 

     I once had a pastor tell me that the Hebrew word for extreme blood-thirsty violence is “chamas”. This might be a stretch on my part but it sounds a lot like Hamas, the violent sect of Palestinians whose life mission is to wipe out the Jews. Interesting that this is where Esau’s descendants settled. 

     I’m not suggesting that every sibling rivalry will eventually threaten world peace. What I am saying, and so is Obadiah, is that there will be a day and time when God will say “enough!” to this sibling rivalry. That will not be a pretty day and I don’t think any of us wants to be around to see it. But that day is coming. When God makes a promise He always keeps it. His plans cannot be thwarted and His justice will come in His way and in His timing. 

     In Micah God tells us to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. It’s kind of sad that Esau never learned that lesson. Hopefully we can. 

     Love as always, Renée 


Now on to this week’s lesson. 

Read Philemon 

Memory verse:12 “I am sending him-who is my very heart- back to you”


1. How well do you demonstrate love for your fellow believers?

2. How can you be a source of love for the women in this group or for our fellow church members?

3. What would need to change in your life before others considered you to be a source of joy?

4. Paul, writing from prison, likely faced discouragement. Who is God calling you to encourage right now?

5. Can you think of a time when you had the power and authority to force someone to succumb to your will, but instead allowed them to make their own decision? Describe those circumstances. 

6. How easy was it for you to set aside your will in that instance?

7. How confident were you that they’d make the right choice?

8. How might God be using you right now to encourage another believer to let go of someone or something that they love?


For personal growth:

Paul mentions Epaphras in his closing. This is the same Epaphras who shared the gospel with the Colossians. How cool is it that rather than wrapping himself in bitterness, he used his time in prison to tell Paul about the body of believers in Colassae?  What  is your attitude like when life doesn’t turn out the way you imagine it should?  What imprisons you?  How can you be a bold spokesperson for your own church?  What does your church do especially well? Where does it need to grow?  How willing are you to be an instrument of change in your church?


For the good of the group:

Who is most likely to refer to you as their beloved co-worker as Paul does if Philemon?

Obadiah Week #1

Dear Ladies,

     I have loved this study in Ruth. Where else in the Bible can we start in Sodom and end by climbing up a few branches in Christ's family  tree? I always thought Ruth was a fluff piece, a girly study. It's one of those bible books women have to study because the main characters are women. I like that I'm wrong. 

     Our journey through this book revealed a lot about the strengths that each character possessed. Naomi lost her husband and two sons, ironically in a land they fled to in order to save themselves from dying of starvation. Ruth lost her beloved husband and presumably the stability of her home. The Bible is silent about her past but it's safe to assume no man no money. She also lost the support and kinship of her sister In law Orpah who opted to stay behind in Moab. And Boaz himself was likely a widower or he may not have been available to marry Ruth. 

     These are the kind of losses that park people on a psychiatrist's couch. Instead we learn about strength. We see Naomi's marvelous plan to protect Ruth, see her cared for and her family's inheritance re-established and maintained. We know that loss and grief broke Naomi but she didn't stay broken for long. I love that her persistent trust in Boaz, his character and his willingness to do right by his dead relative brings us to Obed, Jesse, King David, and King Jesus. This is a powerful reminder for each of us to move beyond those life circumstances that threaten to break us. 

     God surely knows the sorrows we face and just as surely places loving sisters in Christ to help us face them. I am grateful to have each of you by my side, especially now,  and look forward to our time together in our next study "One Hit Wonders". We'll be studying each of the Bible books that have only one chapter. It'll be fun to see how much wisdom God packs into just a few short verses. 

     Love, as always, Renée 


Read Obadiah

Memory verse Obadiah 17 " But on Mount Zion will be deliverence; it will be holy and Jacob will possess his inheritance "


1. What do you recall from past studies or sermons about the relationship between Jacob and Esau? ( for hints skim Genesis 25:19-24, 27:1-46, 32:1-21 and/or 33:1-17)

2.  Which  nations did each of them  father and what do you recall was the relationship between these two nations?

3. Read Numbers 20:14-21. How does this passage further explain why God might be unhappy with Esau's descendants the  Edomites?

4. Obadiah verse 3 says " the pride of your heart has deceived you", which sounds remarkably like words we've all heard before " Pride goes before a fall". When has pride caused a fall in your life or in the life of someone you know?

5. How have you been humbled by God?

6. God promises that everyone in Esau's mountain will be cut down in the slaughter. When you read about whole nations being destroyed what thoughts go through your mind?

7. Verse 15 warns " as you have done it will be done to you". Does this concern you or comfort you? Why is that?

8. What character trait of God stands out after reading this book and how have you seen that in your own life?


For personal growth: 

Jacob and Esau shared a womb but that's where their similarities end. How closely do you resemble your own siblings? Which of them brings you the most joy? What is it about them that you admire most? How well do you communicate your love to them?If you are estranged, what caused that rift and how willing are you to resolve your differences? How much of the fault lies at your own feet? How might God be calling you right now to be the peacemaker? When you consider the downward spiral that started as a simple disagreement between two brothers, what steps are you willing to take to avoid disagreements between you and your siblings?


For the good of the group:

Where would you like to see justice prevail in your life?

Ruth Week #5

Dear Ladies,
     It seems like so long since I posted our last lesson that I almost forgot what happened in our passage. Naomi had the right idea when she sent Ruth towards Boaz but I have to wonder about her thought process. So yes- pretty her up a little, make her a more enticing package, but no to the whole laying at his feet part. What was she thinking? Boaz and all his men were celebrating the harvest. I’m pretty sure a successful harvest was celebrated with a generous amount of alcohol. There’s nothing scriptural to support my imagining but I picture Ruth as sweet, young, pretty and vulnerable. It bothers me to see Naomi pushing her into a room full or drunken field hands. 
     When I imagine those ugly consequences it’s because I forget that she’s pushing Ruth towards Boaz, the man who greets his servants with their daily blessing. Just look at the way he greets her. He’s startled out of a sound sleep and rather than being irritated he’s curious. “Who are you?”
     Ladies I confess that my reaction to getting startled out of a sound sleep is anything but kind. How about you? How do you respond to life’s little interruptions ? Can we all just agree that Boaz sets a good example-inspiration vs irritation. As soon as he hears her name he acknowledges her kindness and noble character. He lifts her up and protects her reputation by sneaking her off the threshing floor. He shields her from groping hands and wagging tongues. Rather than taking the first woman who quite literally throws herself at his feet he protects her reputation for the one man who rightfully deserves first dibs. 
     I love that we get one more week to watch this drama unfold. I look forward to our time together.
     Love, as always, Renée 

Now on to this week’s lesson 
Read Ruth 4 with Deut 25:5-10 and Lev 25:23-23
Memory verse: Ruth 4:6  At this the guardian redeemer said “then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it”

1. From what you read in Leviticus and Deuteronomy describe a guardian redeemer (AKA kinsman redeemer)
2. Where do you see Boaz’s wisdom?
3. Why do you think he held back from revealing that Ruth was part of the deal?
4. Why do you think this other redeemer backed out when he found out Ruth was included?
5. How was the blessing of the elders prophetic in vs 11-12?
6. Google name meanings and search for Obed. What does this child’s name mean?
7. What other names branch off this family tree?
8. How does it encourage you to learn that your Saviour has a guardian redeemer in His family line?

For personal growth: A guardian redeemer was a close influential relative to whom members of the extended family could turn for help when the family line or possessions were in danger of being lost. It is God’s plan that families take care of each other. So what do your relationships look like? Are your family ties unraveling? How well do you honor your parents? Is there someone whose calls you duck? Texts you won’t answer? Do you avoid giving money because you’ll never see it again? Have you considered that perhaps you have that extra $20 specifically because God knew your daughter-in-law needed gas in her tank? How generous are you with your time when it comes to  family? Are you a willing babysitter? What are you doing to eliminate spiritual poverty in your own family?

For the good of the group: Who is the greatest source of wisdom in your family?

Ruth Week #4

Dear Ladies,

     It's so interesting to me that we're studying Ruth during a time when our own sweet Ruth is so heavy on our hearts. It's funny how life works. She was the whole focus of our closing prayers on Monday. 

     I just love when our lessons give us a glimpse into God's heart. Gleaning law's do more than simply providing for the poor. They show God's willingness to rescue the powerless. And Ruth was the picture of powerlessness. She was a foreigner, a widow, with no possible brothers in law to marry. Her only friend was another widow broken by life's circumstances. Neither of these women had hopes of rescue from their situation but God doesn't let them stay hopeless for long. 

     Ruth could have wandered into any field in Bethlehem, but somehow she wanders into Boaz's. He not only  allowed her to stay, he blessed her. He positioned her among the other women who worked for him. He not only warned his men not to lay a hand on her, he also instructed them to pull and drop extra stalks for her to gather. He shared his food and wine and then pack up all his leftovers for her to take home. 

    What I love so much is that he noticed her. It would have been easy to overlook this stranger. She's a nobody. She couldn't have been more vulnerable. Ruth's life was hard and there was no reason to hope it would improve. She certainly didn't think it would. Look at her question to Boaz in verse 10. "Why have I found such favor in your eyes?"  She must have been blown away when Boaz had a ready response. "I've been told all about what you've done for your mother in law....May you be richly rewarded". He knew her story. He knew her needs. What a picture of God's lavish love and care for us. 

We each have our own story and our own needs. Like Ruth some of us try to hide behind our sorrows but God notices us. He notices our heartbreak and our vulnerability. He alone knows the best way to meet our needs and He has a plan to do that for us. 

     Perhaps right now you're a lot like Ruth or maybe God's calling you to be someone's Boaz. Will you ask God to help you notice the poor, welcome the outsider, protect the meek and speak kindness where it's needed most? Let's strive to be God's hands and feet to those he places in our "fields"

     Love, as always, Renée 


Now on to this week's lesson:

Read Ruth 3

Memory verse Ruth 3:5 " I will do whatever you say Ruth answered"


1. From our study last week we learned that Ruth gleans after two separate harvests -wheat and barley. What do you imagine Boaz learned about her during all that time together? 

2. How willing are you to allow others to learn who you are?

3. What is Naomi's greatest concern for Ruth and why do you think she pushed Ruth on Boaz?

4. Has anyone ever tried to set you up with a man? How did that end up?

5. How did their motivation differ from Naomi's for Ruth?

6. How does Naomi's plan for Ruth nearly backfire?

7. How do we see Boaz protecting Ruth?

8. Who might God have placed in your life to bless and protect?


For personal growth:

This encounter between Ruth and Boaz seems so strange  to me. I wonder if it seemed strange to Ruth as well. How do we see humility in Ruth's approached to Boaz? Where might God be calling you to a position of humility? She approached Boaz bolstered by Naomi's trust. Who has God placed in your life to push you in the right direction?  How willing are you to follow their prompting? How easily do you place your trust in someone else? Where might your hesitation to trust others rob you of potential blessings?


For the good of the group: whose advice are you most likely to follow and what is it about them that has caused you to trust them? 

Ruth Week #3

As you well know I am expecting grand baby #3 in July. Emily just started her second trimester, things are going well and she feels like she can relax and enjoy dreaming of this little one. And with those dreams comes the naming of the baby. So much time and thought goes into choosing the perfect name. Why??? Seriously I'll never know because when you need to quickly catch their attention you can never recall that perfect name without listing two or three other kids first.

In our culture we choose names because we like them. We like the way they roll off our tongues. Maybe they're family names. We name kids after movie stars, or cities or flowers even. In biblical days names had deeper significance. Your name identified who and what you are. This is why it saddens me to hear our sweet Naomi tell her friends and neighbors that her new name is Mara. Naomi means pleasant, beautiful, delightful. I can easily imagine her as all 3 of these. I believe that was part of what drew her daughters-in-law to her. True delight is attractive and I believe that her pleasant nature shone in the way that she cared for her husband, her sons and the women they chose for themselves.

The name Naomi fit well until life wasn't so pleasant anymore. Then she wrapped herself so tightly in bitterness that she couldn't imagine life without it. Ladies, I ask you the same question I ask myself. When life tries to beat you down, what do you wrap yourself with? Are you bitter too? Do you turn into a big black cloud that rains on everyone's parade?

I'm telling you now that this is not what God chooses for you. He no doubt allows painful circumstance in each of our lives. Those trials are a way He calls out to us. "In this world you will have trouble". The first half of John 16:33 doesn't sound too comforting until you finish Christ's sentence "... but take heart, I have overcome the world". Note that he says HAVE overcome , not will. It’s a done deal, past tense. That's a promise we can wrap ourselves in.

Love, as always, Renée ( which means reborn by the way. What a great name for a Christian to have)


Now on to this week's lesson:

Read Ruth 2

Memory verse: 2:5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters "who does that you woman belong to?"


1. Who was Boaz and why was it important that he was part of Ehimilek's family?

2. How is he described in this passage?

3. What does his greeting to and from his workers reveal about him?

4. What do you recall from past studies or sermons about the practice of gleaning?

5. What do these gleaning laws reveal about God's heart?

6. When have you had to rely on the kindness of others and how can you now see God's hand in that?

7. Unconquerable kindness seems to be Boaz's greatest trait. What do others see in you?

8. What do you want them to see?


For personal growth: Gleaning was a way of protecting widows and children and those who would otherwise have been unable to provide for themselves. Call it God's own welfare system. How does this mirror our own welfare system? What is your attitude like when you find out that someone's is receiving some type of government assistance? Do you look down on them? Do you doubt the legitimacy of their claim? Is there a part of you that gets angry when you see what they do and buy with your taxpayer dollars? What do you think is the right response and how far away from right are you? How is God speaking to you about this and what do you plan to do about to about it?


For the good of the group:

How can we pray for you to be more cognizant of the needs of those around you?


Ruth Week #2

Study #2

Read Ruth 1 with Judges 21:25

Memory verse Ruth 1:16b "Where you go I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God"

 

1. The verse from Judges reflects the time period that leads into Ruth. What do you imagine life was like then?

2. Describe the circumstances that bring Naomi to Moab.

3. What was life like for her there?

4. What brought her back to Bethlehem?

5. Why didn't Naomi want her daughters-in-law to travel with her?

6. Why do you think Orpah stayed in Moab while Ruth chose to continue on to Bethlehem?

7. Ruth vows to remain with Naomi forever. What was it about Naomi and/or her faith that was so attractive?

8. In verses 20-21 Naomi pours out her bitterness with her old friends. Who has God placed in your life that can share both your blessings and your sorrows?

 

For personal growth: 

Naomi's faith was attractive enough to Ruth that she was willing to leave everything familiar and safe to stay with Naomi. How well do you walk out your faith? Do your words and actions enhance Christ's image or detract from it? Imagine you are the only believer in your family or circle of friends (for some of us this is a reality). How might others see God through the way that you face adversity? Where do you usually turn when life turns on you? How might things be better if you were to accept Christ's challenge in Matthew11:28 "Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest". Which burden might God be asking you right now to turn over to Him?

 

For the good of the group:

What is your relationship like with those who are married to or dating your children?

 

Walking Strong in 2019/Ruth Week #1

Study #1

Read Genesis 19 with Deuteronomy 23:3-6

Memory verse 19:37. The older daughter had a son and she names him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today

 

1. Who was Lot and what do you recall from past studies or sermons was the reason he ended up in Sodom?

2. What do you know about the culture of this town?

3. How deeply do you think Lot became entrenched in that culture?

4.  What goes through your mind as you see the lengths he'll go to in order to protect his visitors while simultaneously throwing his daughters under the bus?

5. Why do you think Lot was hesitant when it came to running for the hills?

6. Why did God spare Lot?

7. Describe Moab's conception and birth?

8. How does this series of events help clarify why Moses may have forbidden contact with Moabites or Ammonites in Deuteronomy 23:3-6?

 

For personal growth: 

We sometimes struggle with the idea that a just God would wipe a whole region off the face of the earth.  How horrible do you think a place would have to be before it should be wiped out? How much sin do you think God should tolerate? Are there particular sins or categories of sins that you wish God would overlook? What makes you want to excuse them? How likely is it that you will accept sin simply because it has widespread acceptance in today's culture? Where do you think God is asking you to draw the line?

 

For the good of the group:

How do you think today's reading will give you deeper understanding o the book of Ruth?

Jonah Week 2

Dear ladies,

     In this first chapter in Jonah we see two completely different mindsets. On the one hand there's Jonah. He clearly knows who God is, clearly heard what God asked of him, and just as clearly chose to go his own way. On the other hand we have a whole crew of sailors. They knew only enough about God to be afraid, but not enough to be obedient. They knew His power but not the power of His love. In the end they were all literally in the same sinking ship. 

     Just as there's two different views of God in this passage, there are two different responses to Him. The sailors only had fear. They didn't know God. They didn't know that God doesn't wipe people off the face of the earth for personal gain or entertainment. Their response to God was to beg for mercy and hope for the best. Perhaps if they begged and bribed their way into His favor things might still work out. Their fears were confirmed as they contemplated Jonah. If God was this angry at one of His own people what hope would there ever be for them?

     And then there's Jonah. He trusted God's loving nature enough to sleep through a raging storm. That trust shows in the way he accepted the penalty for his disobedience. He understood that sin comes with a cost and he was willing to accept the price, even if it meant death. He allowed himself to be sacrificed to save the others on board that ship. He knew God and trusted in His fairness. 

       Ladies,  sometimes God calms the storm, but only sometimes. More often He lets the storm rage and calms the child.  Clearly the better choice would have been obedience right from the start, but it took the storm to bring Jonah to the place that we meet him in this week's lesson. So this is where we move forward. 

      Love, as always, Renée 

Now on to this week's lesson

Read Jonah 1:17-2:10

Memory verse 2:2 He said " in my distress I cried out to the Lord and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called out and you listened to my cry"

1. Why do you think God provided the fish for Jonah?

2. What was Jonah's response to his new accommodations?

3. Jonah is quick to acknowledge that God is responsible for his trip overboard, because he deserved it. How likely is it that you rightly identify the cause of your misery?

4. When has God used someone else or some circumstance to change your heart to make it align with His will? 

5. How long do you think it took Jonah to pray as he did in this chapter? How long would it have taken to bring you to a place of humble acceptance?

6. Which verse or verses in Jonah's prayer mean the most to you personally? Explain your choice.

7. Where do you find hope and encouragement?

8. In verse 8 Jonah says that those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. Do you think this was a judgement of the sailors? Why or why not?

For personal growth: what worthless idols do you cling to? What is it that takes up the greater part of your time and energy? What occupies your first waking thoughts and/or your last before going to sleep? What might God be asking you to let go? What needs to change in your life in order for Him to occupy His rightful place in your heart? 

For the good of the group: it's not clear how long it took Jonah to come to repentance but God's response was restoration. Can you tell of a time when He restored you? 

Jonah Week 1

Dear Ladies,

     What a journey this has been as we've spent the last 12 weeks delving into the Sermon on the Mount. Who could have imagined where this would take us? This past week was no exception. 

      I really love this lesson because Jesus makes it so simple. He once again explains what holy living looks like and then leaves His audience with a choice- take it or leave it. This is still our choice today. We can either continue on the broad smooth path that leads to destruction or we can accept Christ's invitation to join Him in Heaven. 

     It's not easy. Jesus promises that few find their way. So I ask you this question that I often ask myself. How confident are you, how confident am I, that that you and I are heading the right way? If you are in doubt I encourage you to speak with one of the pastors, with one of the elders or with me about how you can be certain that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. I want all doubt to be erased. I can promise you that I've walked down quite a few wrong roads, and made choices that didn't honor God and yet Jesus( aren't those the sweetest words my friends- and yet Jesus) in full love, set me back on the right path. Sing it with me "I once was lost but now I'm found". Ladies, let Him find you too. 

     I love how our next study so perfectly illustrates God at work, loving His wayward child Jonah back onto the right path. He did it for Jonah like He continues to do it for each of us. I can't wait to explore this new book with each of you. 

             Love, as always, Renée 

Now on to this week's lesson

Read Jonah 1:1-16

Memory verse 1:9 He answered " I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and dry land"

1. A little history here. What does this passage tell you about who Jonah is? List as many facts or conclusions you came to after reading this chapter. 

2. It's easy to point out Jonah's failures. What are his admirable traits and which of these do you share with him?

3. And now a little geography. We aren't told where Jonah is from, but we do know  where God asked him to go and where he chose to go.  Find the following 3 places on a map - Joppa, Nineveh and Tarshish. About how far is Nineveh from Tarshish?

4. How do we know that Jonah knew exactly from whom he was running ? 

5. What's the farthest you ever ran from God and what was the outcome?

6. What was the sailor's response to the storm and how does that compare with your response to life's storms?

7. Jonah told the sailors exactly what they needed to do to calm the storm. Why were they hesitant?

8. How likely is it that's any of these men grew to follow the one true God? Would that experience have been enough to convince you?

For personal growth: when chaos was breaking loose on board the ship Jonah was sound asleep below deck. So not only did he deliberately disobey God, it seems that he was at complete peace doing so. When you choose to disobey, how does that sit with you ?

Are you able to sleep at night? How drastic are the measures that God used to bring you back into obedience?  As we look at the potential risk to a full crew of sailors- how big would the fallout have been from your disobedience. Have you thanked God for protecting you and those who may have been affected by your poor choices?

For the good of the group: Jonah allowed himself to be thrown overboard not knowing the outcome. How well do you accept God's discipline?