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Bible Study

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

"David replied to Abigail, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands" (1 Samuel 25:32, 33, NLT).

If someone that were close to you were interviewed how would they say you handle heated or rough situations? Are you wise and level headed or are you the one that get things started?

Adverse situations can often tell a lot about where we are in our Christian walk. We all fall short sometimes according to the situation. But what does our Christian behavior say about us to the world the majority of the time?

Are we different? Do we inspire people to want to know more about Christ so they can learn how to handle life better? Let's look at Abigail.

David and his army of two hundred men marched toward Abigail. They were probably filthy and hungry from being in the desert. They were probably also pretty angry.  Abigail was very courageous to come out to meet them and beg David for forgiveness. Nabal, her husband, was the cause of a terrifying threat of revenge against her entire household.

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

Some men don't deserve their wives. Abigail was probably the best woman Nabal could afford and he got more than he bargained for when he arranged to marry her. She was beautiful and more suited than he was to manage his wealth. But Nabal took his wife for granted.

In spite of his shortcomings, Nabal's household did what they could to keep him out of trouble. This loyalty must have been inspired by Abigail. Although her culture and her husband placed a low value on her, she made the most of her skills and opportunities. David was impressed with her abilities, and when Nabal died, he married her.

Abigail was an effective counselor to both of the men in her life, working hard to prevent them from making rash moves. By her swift action and skillful negotiation, she kept David from taking revenge upon Nabal. She saw the big picture and left plenty of room for God to get involved.

Whether in favorable circumstances or in harsh ones, the challenge is the same: to use our wisdom and abilities in the service of the will of God.

Do you, like Abigail, look beyond the present crisis to the big picture? Do you use your skills to promote peace? Are you loyal without being blind? What challenge or responsibility do you face today that needs a person under God's control?

Abigail's strengths and accomplishments

  • Sensible and capable

  • A persuasive speaker, able to see beyond herself

Lessons from her life

  • Life's tough situations can bring out the best in people

  • One does not need a prestigious title to play a significant role


 

(Partially adapted from Women of Faith Study Bible, NIV and Life Application Study Bible, NLT)

Prayer

Father please help us to be the kind of people that use our gifts and influence for good. No matter what situations we face in life help us to bring out the best in people and direct people to You by our behavior and the way we live our lives.

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General

In order to release the hold that fear has on us we have to saturate ourselves in God's love. Here are scriptures for you to meditate on when fear tries to overtake you. I have also included books on fear. I pray that these resources will help you to conquer fear in any and all areas of your life. I also pray that you will be filled with Godly courage to fulfill your dreams.

By: Ann 

In order to release the hold that fear has on us we have to saturate ourselves in God's love.  Here are scriptures for you to meditate on when fear tries to overtake you. I have also included books on fear. I pray that these resources will help you to conquer fear in any and all areas of your life. I also pray that you will be filled with Godly courage to fulfill your dreams.  

The Lord is the remedy for a fearful heart.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all of my fears (Psalm 34:4).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (I Peter 5:7).

Focus on what is real and true, not the fear.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things ( Philippians 4:8).

The Lord is with us in every situation we face.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

If there is a problem with fear, there is a love problem as well.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (I John 4:18).

For when there is a fear of the future.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

When you fear the past.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:18-19).

When you fear that there will be no protection.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart (Psalm 91:4).

 

References

Patricia Miller (2002), Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI

(Scripture taken from the New International Version, 1984)

 

 

 

 

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Bible Study

This past week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do?

Last week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do. The answer is sometimes He will not be specific.  

The authors, Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck explained that the Bible does not always give us definitive instructions about our secondary calling to work. It does not give us specific answers about which career path we should choose or volunteer opportunities we should undertake.  

Instead, the Bible gives us principles for making decisions within God's will.  

This was a great conformation to me because I was one of those Christians that thought I should be hearing from God or seeing some sign that told me specifically what I should do. I was always running into fellow Christians that seemed to be constantly hearing from God in an audible voice. It's not that I do not believe that God speaks to people; I just believe that God guides and does not speak audibly on every matter.  

The Brennflecks further stated that in the absence of direct supernatural guidance, we need to assume that God wants us to decide prayerfully and thoughtfully which work or volunteer alternative is the best choice. According to Bruce Walke, It is possible to pray, read God's Word, seek counsel, and still not feel led by God. That's the time to rely on sound judgment.  

What will make your judgment sound? Reading the word of God.  

Toolbox of Strategies for Making Life Calling Decisions 

  1. Comparing options with your design-This strategy allows you to compare each of your career or volunteer ministry/service possibilities with your core work values, transferable skills and compelling interests (See Options Comparison 8.1 Grid in your book) 

 

  1. Assessing pros and cons: Writing down pros and cons for a particular decision enables us to identify what our most important criteria really are so that we can rationally evaluate them (See the pros and cons grid Table 8.3) 

 

  1. Evaluating Career Options in light of Biblical principles-the third strategy give you the opportunity to apply the life calling compass principles (keeping your primary calling primary, using your gifts to meet needs in the world, and being a proactive steward of your gifts) to career and volunteer options you are considering (See Evaluating options in light of Biblical principles, Table 8.5). 

 

  1. Defending your decision- in this exercise, you will develop a defense for each of your career or volunteer options. In this mental role play you create a defense for each, seeking to persuade someone who is not convinced it is a wise choice. This strategy helps you in critically examining your possible alternatives.  

 

As we use sound decision-making strategies and seek God's guidance through His Word, prayer, the Holy Spirit, and wise counsel, we position ourselves to partner effectively with Him in discerning and living our callings.

So what do you think? Is it okay to use Biblical principles to make decisions or should we wait to hear from God specifically?

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Music

I listened to SADA K.'S NEW ALBUM "LONG STORY SHORT" this past week. Her voice is beautiful and the songs promote an uplifting message rooted in perseverance through Christ.

 

I listened to SADA K.'S NEW ALBUM "LONG STORY SHORT" this past week.  Her voice is beautiful and the songs promote an uplifting message rooted in perseverance through Christ.

Sada K. was the female lead vocalist with the band Press Play and she recorded 2 albums with them under Dream Records/Universal Music Group.

She is creating a sound all her own by writing songs that spread the message of the love of God, her faith in His majestic power, and the beauty and strength that awaits all of us within the lessons of life.

It is Sada K.'s heart's desire to create music that guides people to hope and provokes her listeners to be encouraged & persevere, no matter what they face in life (www.sadakmusic.com)

I have already picked out a few of my favorite songs to share with you.

My favorites are:

Live Love Laugh

All About Love

Stand Up

Check out the video for "Stand Up" and let me know what you think.    

More information about Sada K. and the album can be found on her official website, www.sadakmusic.com

Sada K.'s New Album is now available on iTunes, Amazon , Google Play and all other major digital distribution outlets.

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General

Thereafter, Hagar referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as "the God who sees me," for she said, "I have seen the One who sees me!" Genesis 16:13 (NLT)
This Bible story starts off like an episode straight out of Young and the Restless. Sarai was not able to give her husband Abram any children. So she decides to give him her servant, Hagar, to have sexual relations with so that they could have a child through her.

By: Ann 

Thereafter, Hagar referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as "the God who sees me," for she said, "I have seen the One who sees me!" Genesis 16:13 (NLT)

This Bible story starts off like an episode straight out of Young and the Restless. Sarai was not able to give her husband Abram any children. So she decides to give him her servant, Hagar, to have sexual relations with so that they could have a child through her.  

I was almost angry with Sarai when I first read this because I thought, Wow you are giving your husband permission to make love to someone else.  Now that's desperation.This is not going to end well.

But after further research I found that this was a custom back then for women that were unable to have children. I am no prophet but I still could predict this blowing up in Sarai's face because Sarai and Abram were already promised a child by God.

After Abram slept with Hagar she got pregnant and the Bible says that she began to have contempt for her mistress Sarai. Sarai immediately blamed Abram. How many times do we blame others instead of noticing that sometimes it is us?

She went to Abram about Hagar's behavior and he basically said it was her idea and Hagar was her servant so she should handle it. Sarai began being so mean to Hagar that eventually she ran away still pregnant with Abram's child.

I love the way God handles the whole situation. He goes to Hagar in the wilderness and asks her where she is coming from and where she is going. He lets her open up and tell Him all that had happened even though he already knew. I imagine her telling Him how unfair this was. She never asked for this. She was caught in the middle of a desperate situation between a wife and her husband without much of a say in the matter.

The Lord listened but then he asked Hagar to return to her mistress. In spite of how things started the Lord promised He was going to give Hagar a son, Ishmael, which means "God hears," and she would have more descendants that she could count.

Hagar was so amazed at God that she used another name to refer to the Lord. The Bible says she referred to the LORD, who had spoken to her, as "the God who sees me," for she said, "I have seen the One who sees me!

As I read this I realize that sometimes I blame others instead of looking at myself. Sometimes I won't wait on God and I act in desperation by trying to manipulate a plan for myself. Sometimes I get caught up in everyone else's expectations or sometimes I am caught up in my own. Sometimes I feel like nobody knows or seems to care how I feel, what I need or what's really going on with me. Sometimes it is not their fault because I often wear a mask to make it look like to the world that I am so strong and confident. Because now and days it's almost seen negatively if you are "emotional" even as a women.  

But as I look at how God handled this situation I know that I can go to Him when I am feeling vulnerable or when the world's expectations overwhelm me.  I don't have to feel desperate or try to manipulate things in my own favor. God sees me. He sees you. But the question is do we see Him as Hagar did?

God cares and he is listening. Not only that but He is the only one that can make a negative situation work out for our good regardless of our own mistakes or some else's mistakes. Sarai took matters into her own hands because she was having trouble waiting on God. Abram went along with Sarai's plan and he didn't help when things got out of hand and Hagar ran away.

This was a messy situation but God still showed them all great love by giving them everything that he had promised. Sarai and Abraham still received the son they wanted and Hagar's problem was solved as well.

Let's start being more deliberate in learning to trust God and try not to take matters into our own hands when He promises us something. God has allowed situations to come where I had no other choice but to trust Him because no one else could help me. All I had was Him and He delivered me or He gave me miraculous peace until the storm was over. One way or the other things always work out for my good. Now I choose to trust Him on my own more often. I am not always acting in desperation.  Let's carry ourselves like we have someone that sees us, knows us and loves us anyway.

Prayer

Thank you Father that you are a God who sees us. Thank you that you truly know us and you love us anyway. Thank you that you are there for us in a way that no one else can be. Help us to trust you more. Help us to hide your Word in our hearts for when we are tempted to act in desperation and take matters into our own hands. We love you Father. In Jesus Name, Amen

Reflection

Do you have trouble trusting the Lord?  Do you sometimes feel that no one sees all that you are going through? Are you sometimes tempted to act in desperation by taking matters into your own hands instead of waiting on God? Write in a journal a time when you acted against the will of God and how it turned out. Also write about a time when you waited and trusted God. In either situation record how things worked out for your good. How do you keep yourself from acting in desperation when difficult situation arise. Follow the conversation on Facebook.

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

3 "God blesses those who realize their need for him, a for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.  

4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.

6 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.

7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. "

11 "God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.

12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too."

                                                                                                  Matthew 5: 3-12, NLT

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society's typical way of life.  In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each of these if found in Jesus Christ Himself.

Being "blessed" by God means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

If our goal is to become like Him, applying the Beatitudes will challenge the way we live each day.

                    (Adapted from Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation, 1996)

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality.

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred to in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality. 

Chapter 4 

A vision of what God is calling you to do may start as an interest, a tiny idea or a fleeting thought. It can be inspired by the following catalyst: 

  1. Need-driven, an individual sees a need that he or she wants to help meet.  

  1. Design driven, a person begins picturing possibilities or looking for opportunities to use particular puzzle pieces of his or her design.

  1. Experience driven- a person has had a particular life experience and wants to help others who are going through the same thing.  

Chapter 5 

Strategies for stretching your vision: 

  1. Envisioning your God-Empowerment life-How can you use your God-given gifts to meet needs in the word? 

 

  1. Envision possibilities through brainstorming-Brainstorm about work and volunteer ministry/service options. 

 

  1. Look for volunteer opportunities in your church and community. 

 

  1. Use career resources to envision career possibilities (for example use The Occupational Information Network database, (O*Net) 

Chapter 6 

Strategies for Reality Testing your Options: 

  1. Use career-specific resources to gather information-local libraries and bookstores can help you with information about different career fields. Also career books and resources for people that want to become entrepreneurs like www.Entrepreneur.com or www.sba.gov. 

 

  1. Use professional organizations to gather information. 

 

  1. Interviewing and shadowing-talk to people who are doing the kind of work that you want to do. Shadowing-spend time in a  particular work environment watching one or more people do the job that you are considering.  

 

  1. Volunteer-try out a number of volunteer activities at a church or other non-profit organization to explore your gifts and interests, develop new skills and meet new people.

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Ann Gant • Music

The song, Real Thing, touched me personally so I keep it on repeat. It reminds me of how before Christ I use to chase after so many things that were not real, things that did not satisfy but my soul agrees with the words that Jesus is the real thing.

 

Recently I had the pleasure of listening to the group called, Unspoken. I absolutely love their self-titled album, Unspoken. The entire album is a blessing. After listening to each song I was encouraged to fall even deeper in love with Jesus. My belief was re-established that I should continue to give my everything to HIM. 

I love the entire album. But my favorite songs include: 

In Your Hands 

Real Thing 

Call it Grace 

Tomorrow 

Walking Away 

Who You Are 

Real Thing touched me personally so I keep it on repeat. It reminds me of how before Christ I use to chase after so many things that were not real, things that did not satisfy but my soul agrees with the words, Jesus is the real thing.   

The lyrics say, " we need a love that will last. What we need is the real thing, something to believe in. A love so strong it cannot be denied. More than a feeling. No we're not dreamin. We wake up and find the promises of new life. Jesus is the real thing.  

I thank the Lord that I know that now. I hope you do too. 

Please check out About US on the band's website, www.unspokenmusic.com for more information about the group and what influenced the words to the songs on the Unspoken album.    

Check out the lyric video for my favorite song, Real Thing before you go. I know it will bless you too.

Make sure you leave comments or a message on Facebook or Twitter to tell me what you think.  

The album is available for purchase in our Finding Ourselves in Christ Bookstore.

Until next time, Ann

 

 

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Ann Gant • Devotional

The truth is giving up and doing nothing is easier. But I believe that it hurts more to give up then it does to keep going. Besides if I am going to feel some pain it might as well be while I am on my way to my destiny.

By: Ann Gant

 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,(Philippians 3:13 (NLT)

 

My husband, Michael, goes to an alternative school once a week to speak to kids. What is an alternative school you ask? It is a school for kids who have been taken out of regular public school because they have gotten in trouble too many times.

Many of these kids do drugs, sell drugs, get into fights often, and have had numerous troubles with the law. This is the last chance for them to get their lives on track or they could lose their opportunity to go back to public school.

My husband and his brother in Christ go to the school to try and speak life back into these kids. They do not always use pretty words but they try to shake up and wake up their souls so they can say, " I have got to get up from here".

It's very sad to see a young person give up on themselves before their lives have really started.

Not only are these kids giving up on their lives but some of us adults are too. You see I heard that there are some fates worse than death and I believe that would include the walking dead. Not zombies like in the movies but a person that just walks around waiting to die.

This person has no purpose, no passion for life and no direction. I believe that ultimately this person has abandoned their hope in God which has led them to give up on their destiny or purpose.

I've been in a place where I would not go forward or backward. I had a sense of God telling me to move but I felt too overwhelmed to even try. Like I was told about those kids in alternative school sometimes we feel that doing nothing is just easier. But chasing dreams and striving for God's purpose in our lives takes effort.

The truth is giving up and doing nothing is easier but I believe that it hurts more to give up then it does to keep going. Besides if I am going to feel some pain it might as well be while I am on my way to my destiny.

We are never alone. God is always with us. He promised that He would be even to the end of the age. That's forever.

Prayer

Father, we give our lives to you and everything that we are. Lead us and guide us to our destiny. Don't let us give up because when we give up on ourselves we give up on You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

For our Bible Study/Book Review last week we took assessments which the authors stated was designed to help give us a map of our God-given design which identifies the gifts we have to invest in the world.

(Taken from our review of Live Your Calling by Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck, Chapter 3, Spiritual Gifts) 

For our Bible Study/Book Review last week we took assessments which the authors stated was designed to help give us a map of our God-given design which identifies the gifts we have to invest in the world.  

This section included six assessments which included transferable skills, core work values, preferred roles, personality type, compelling interests, and spiritual gifts. We also used the assessment information to fill out our life calling map.  

For this week's chapter review I would like to go over spiritual gifts and their meanings along with the Biblical references. The Brennflecks explained that the purpose of the Spiritual Gifts Inventory is to help expedite the process of discovering and confirming spiritual gifts. Understanding these gifts can enable us to discern our callings more readily and fully.  

Spiritual gifts develop through training and use. If you think you have a particular gift look for some low-risk opportunities to try out using it. No inventory can give you absolute answers about your spiritual gifts because discovering your gifts is a process.  

***Important Note: The authors state that they realize that different denominations and churches differ in their views on spiritual gifts. Those marked with an asterisk are ones in particular about which churches may disagree. Please complete this assessment in accordance with your own beliefs about spiritual gifts.  

Spiritual Gifts  

Administration-the ability to understand the goals of a small or large group, and organize information, people, and other resources to accomplish them ( I Corinthians 12:28). 

Discernment-Ability of know whether a message or behavior that is alleged to be of God is truly of divine origin ( I Corinthians 12:8-10). 

Evangelism-Ability to bring others to faith in Jesus Christ; passionate about presenting the gospel effectively to others (Ephesians 4:11). 

Exhortation/Encouragement-Ability to help others by listening attentively and providing comfort, encouragement, and wise counsel (Romans 12:6,8). 

Faith-Ability to discern what God wants done; trusts in God to overcome apparent impossibilities; exhibits a faith that is contagious to others (I Corinthians 12:8-9) 

Giving-Ability to give money or material possessions to God's work with great delight; may be rich or poor; tends to prefer giving anonymously (Romans 12:6,8). 

Helps/Service-Ability to accomplish practical and often relatively unseen tasks that support the ministries of others; tends to prefer immediate tasks more than longer-term responsibilites ( I Corinthians 12:28).   

Hospitality-Ability to demonstrate God's embracing love in tangible ways by offering food, lodging, and as sense of belonging to others (I Peter 4:9-10). 

Intercession-Ability to pray for sustained periods of time; sees many answers to prayer (there is no specific biblical text about the gift of intercession, but there is much evidence within the Body of Christ that the gift exists). 

Knowledge-Ability to understand and use information to benefit the body of Christ ( I Corinthians 12:8). 

Leadership-Ability to set goals for the future, and to influence and direct others to accomplish God's work (Romans 12:6,8). 

Mercy-Ability to understand and minister compassionately to those who suffer from physical, mental, or emotional problems (Romans 12:6,8). 

Shepherd/Pastor-Ability to nurture and direct the spiritual growth of a group of believers (Ephesians 4:11). 

Teaching-Ability to comprehend and communicate biblical truths, enabling listeners to learn and apply God's word. 

Wisdom-Ability to apply spiritual knowledge and insight to specific problems and needs; consistently provides good counsel ( I Corinthians 12:8). 

*Apostleship-Ability to start new churches or ministries; may work in either one's own culture or a foreign country; possesses spiritual authority that is recognized by Christian leaders (Ephesians 4:11; see also I Corinthians 12:28). 

*Healing-Ability to be used by God to bring supernatural healing of physical, emotional, or spiritual problems ( I Corinthians 12:8-9, 28). 

*Miracles-Ability to pray for, and be used by God to bring about supernatural acts that glorify him ( I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28). 

*Prophecy-Ability to declare God's truth and to proclaim how God wills things to change; wants people to align themselves with God's will (Ephesians 4:11; I Corinthians 12:8-10, 28). 

*Tongues and/or Interpretation of Tongues-ability to receive and speak a message from God in public worship and/or pray privately in a language one has never learned. Interpretation-ability to explain what someone else says while speaking in tongues ( I Corinthians 12:8-10).

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