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FICKLE FEELINGS CH 3: FAITH FOR FEAR

After my first manic episode, I was filled with fear.  I was afraid of the mania returning.  The saddest part of all was that I was afraid of being happy.  Every time I felt joy or laughed, I was certain that the mania was returning.  I cried out to God for help.  He met me right where I was and carried me through that tumultuous time.  It took quite a while before this fear of being happy subsided.  It took several times of crying out to God for His strength to get me through this time.  On the other side, I look back now and thank God for bringing good out of the bipolar disorder, by filling me with faith instead of fear.

MEMORY VERSE

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Fear…

Fear is “a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger…timidity” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “to be afraid or apprehensive” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “cowardice and timidity” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

Faith…

Faith is “unquestioning belief in God” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgment of God’s revelation or truth” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

Fear can cripple us when we are in the midst of a trial.  We may not know how to deal with this fear.  The good news is that we can cry out to God for help and strength in the midst of the trial.

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).

Read Joshua 1:9. What did the Lord command Joshua?

What did God not want Joshua to be?

What comforting promise did God give to Joshua?

God will indeed be with us wherever we go.  In this, we draw strength and courage.  We need not fear for God is with us.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, NIV).

Read Psalm 27:1. How did David describe God?

What did David not be?

What is the Lord as of David’s life?

How did David end this passage?

We have nothing to fear as God is indeed our light and salvation.  As a stronghold, the Lord gives us strength instead of weakness and fear.

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6, NIV).

Read Hebrews 13:6. How did they speak?

What was the Lord in this passage?

What will he not be?

What question did the author of Hebrews ask?

Man cannot harm us if we draw strength and faith from God.  We need not fear man.  Instead, we can approach God for His power.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NIV).

Read 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. What was Paul’s message not with?

What was Paul’s message with?

What should our faith not rest on?

What should our faith rest on?

When we rely upon the Holy Spirit, we will reach others in power.  Our faith is strengthened when we rest on God’s power instead of our own.  I had to learn to rely upon God’s wisdom instead of my own during the trial of bipolar disorder. 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).

Read Hebrews 11:6. What is impossible to please God?

How must we come to Him?

Who does God reward?

We must earnestly seek God in faith and belief instead of cowering in fear.  Faith gives us strength and resolve to face whatever comes our way.  When we cry out to God in the midst of our trials, we can rely upon His strength instead of our own.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22, NIV).  This is an encouraging promise for those who believe and have faith.  However, we must realize that God will give what we ask for in prayer if it is His will.  God knows what is best for us.

Name a trial in your life when you experienced fear.

How did you cry out to God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did God’s presence and direction turn your fear into faith?

How did this strengthen your relationship with God?

“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV).  We indeed live by faith.  The world relies upon sight and feel empty.  The world has no answer to the fears which intimidate them.  However, we have the good news that God gives us faith to face whatever comes our way.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, I surrender any fear I am experiencing right now.  Fill me with faith to believe that with You, all things are possible.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Faith attracts the positive.  Fear attracts the negative.  Author unknown

Fear imprisons, faith liberates.  Fear paralyzes, faith empowers.  H.E. Fosdick

Fear forces love leads, faith follows.  Keith Moore

The right fear comes from faith, false fear from doubt.  Blaise Pascal

Fear looks; faith jumps!  Smith Wigglesworth

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FEAR NOT CH 6: LIVE BY FAITH

“The cancer has spread to your liver.”  The words from the cancer surgeon were unexpected.  However, I was amazed at the peace I experienced as I heard the news.  I realized that I was in God’s hands.  I was doing His will by writing the Bible study blog.  God gave me the verse “to live is Christ and to die is gain” as I started going through this trial.  I realized I was in a win-win situation.  I actually felt joy as I knew that God was comforting me.  My faith in God had been strengthened through the many bipolar episodes I experienced.  Now my feet were on a solid Rock on which I stand.  I thanked God for filling me with His peace that passes understanding as I faced the trial of cancer.

MEMORY VERSE

“Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because the righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Faith…

Faith is “unquestioning belief in God” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  Faith is “a firm conviction…a personal surrender to Him…a conduct inspired by such surrender” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).  Faith builds our spiritual muscles.  As we God through trials in our lives, we learn to live by faith.  Faith is not in the seen but in the unseen.  God is right there for us in any trial that we face.

“The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!’  He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Matthew 8:25-26, NIV).

Read Matthew 8:25-26.  What did the disciples ask of Jesus?

What did they think would happen as a result of the storm?

How did Jesus respond?

What did Jesus do?

We all have storms we go through in life.  We may feel overwhelmed and anxious.  The good news is that God is right there to provide peace.  When we cry out to Him in the midst of the trial, we will build our faith in God as He proves Himself faithful.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2, NIV).

Read Romans 5:1-2.  How have we been justified?

What do we have with God?

What have we gained access by faith into?

What do we boast in?

Early on in my Christian walk, I would boast of my accomplishments.  However, God humbled me through the bipolar disorder.  I drew near to Him and He strengthened my faith.  In the same way, we can boast in the hope of the glory of God.  We can praise God for being there for us through it all.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV).

Read Ephesians 2:8-10.  How have we been saved?

Through what have we been saved?

What is it not from?

What is it not by?

Why is this so?

What are we created in Christ to do?

Faith is not by our own works and deeds.  God freely bestows this gift on His children.  When we believe in God and His Word, we will draw near to Him.  We will realize how God freely strengthens our faith through the trials that we face.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV).  The world operates in the seen realm.  They say, “Seeing is believing.”  However, God desires for us to live in the unseen realm.  When we look to God by faith, we will have strength to face whatever comes our way.

Name a trial in your life where you felt overwhelmed.

How did you cry out to God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How was your faith strengthened?

How God give you the strength to overcome this trial?

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV).  Faith remains.  We have the hope of heaven as we place our faith and trust in Christ.  We can praise God for being there in both the highs and lows of life.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being there for me during my trials.  Increase my faith in You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

We can never have more of true faith than we have of true humility.  Andrew Murray

I do not want merely to possess a faith, I want a faith that possesses me.  Charles Kingsly

A living faith is not something you have to carry, but something that carries you.  J.H. Oldham

Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.  Andrew Murray

The secret behind getting more faith, is to get to know God more.  Lester Sumrall

AT THE CROSS CH 6: FAITH

I remember thinking that I didn’t have enough faith to battle the bipolar disorder.  I felt overwhelmed, especially after my first manic episode.  I made foolish choices which I was embarrassed about.  This doubt of faith was only accentuated by a woman at church who told me that if I had enough faith, God would heal me of my disorder.  However, something happened as I continued in dealing with bipolar disorder – the trials increased my faith.  As I laid my burdens at the foot of the cross, I came through victorious no matter my circumstances.

MEMORY VERSE

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Faith…

Faith is “unquestioning belief in God” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  Faith is “a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth…a personal surrender to Him…and a conduct inspired by such surrender” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  We are saved by faith.  We can indeed live by faith as God changes us from glory to glory.  We have a strong anchor in Christ.  We can praise God for the priceless gift of His Son.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18, NIV).

Read 1 Corinthians 1:17-18.  What did Christ not send Paul to do?

What did Christ send Paul to do?

What was his preaching not?

Why is this so?

What is the message of the cross to those who are perishing?

What is the message of the cross to those who are saved?

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV).  Faith, hope and love are the foundation of our relationship with God.  The message of the cross gives us hope and acceptance by God.  God will give us power through the cross to do His will.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV).

Read Colossians 2:6-7.  Who did they receive?

What should believers continue to do?

Who are they rooted and built up in?

What were they taught?

What do we need to be overflowing with?

We can live daily in strength and power which comes from God.  God desires for us to depend upon Him.  We can cast our cares so that our faith will be proved worthy as we take one day at a time.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV).

Read Hebrews 12:1-2.  What are we surrounded by?

What are we to throw off?

What so easily entangles?

How are we to run?

Who are we to fix our eyes upon?

Sin can indeed entangle.  The good news is that God is ready to forgive us when we repent.  We can then run the race with perseverance.  When we fix our eyes upon Jesus we will be strengthened in our Christian walk.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV).  People in today’s world believe by sight.  “I have to see it to believe it.”  That is a saying that comes out of their mouth.  However, the righteous will live by faith.

Name a time when you struggled with a sin.

How did it affect your relationship with God?

How was your faith affected?

How did you come to God for forgiveness?

How do you now walk by faith and not by sight?

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).  Faith is seeing things that are unseen.  We have the assurance that God is right there for us.  At the cross, we can lay down our sins and be set free through repentance.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to die on the cross for my sins.  Help me to live by faith and not by sight.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM       

Feed your faith and starve your doubts to death!  Andrew Murray

Faith is not believing that God can, but knowing that God will!  Author unknown

Faith is like electricity.  You can’t see it, but you can see the light.  Author unknown

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.  Oswald Chambers

The secret behind getting more faith, is to get to know God more.  Lester Sumrall

PURE RIGHTEOUSNESS CH 7: LIVE BY FAITH

“If you had enough faith, God would heal you of the bipolar disorder.”  A lady told me after a church service.  I was devastated.  When I got home, I cried out to the Lord.  God comforted me during a trying time in my faith walk with Him.  God helped me to see that it was indeed a faith walk – one step at a time.  A few years later, I praised God for strengthening my faith in Him through the trials I faced because of the bipolar disorder.  I still had bipolar disorder but it didn’t have me as I lived by faith and not by sight.

MEMORY VERSE

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Romans 1:17, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Faith…

Faith is “unquestioning belief in God” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

Faith is of vital importance to enter into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Salvation is given only to those who believe that Jesus died for our sins.  The righteous will indeed live by faith.

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile” (Romans 3:22, NIV).

Read Romans 3:22. How is this righteousness given?

Who is this given to?

What is there no difference?

Although Jews and Gentiles came from different backgrounds, there is no difference between them in Christ Jesus.  We can praise God for uniting us together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

“What then shall we say?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith” (Romans 9:30, NIV).

Read Romans 9:30. What did the Gentiles not pursue?

What is the righteousness by?

The Gentiles received righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ.  I thank God for saving me as I believed in Christ.  Although an outsider, Jesus brought me into the fold as I believed in Him.  “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’  The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, ‘The person who does these things will live by them” (Galatians 3:11-12, NIV).

“And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith.  And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back’” (Hebrews 10:38, NIV).

Read Hebrews 10:38. How will the righteous live?

What does He take no pleasure in?

Faith is so vital in a believer’s life.  We can praise God for the righteousness we have by faith.  We can be set free from our sins as we repent of them.  God is quick to forgive us.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).

Read Hebrews 11:1. What is faith?

What is faith the assurance about?

Faith breeds hope.  It is based upon what we do not see.  The Spirit shows us unsearchable things found in God’s Word.  It illuminates Scripture and increases our faith in Christ Jesus.

“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” (James 2:22-24, NIV).

Read James 2:22-24.  What of Abraham was working together?

How was his faith made complete?

Who did Abraham believe in?

What was it credited to him?

What was Abraham called?

How is a person considered righteousness?

A person is considered righteous by faith alone.  However, in these verses, faith and works work together.  We must not just merely read the Word but do what it says.  We can perform good works out of gratitude to all God has given to us.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5, NIV).  We can trust in God to be there in the good and bad times.  It is during trials that our faith is increased.  We live by faith and not by sight.

Name a time when your faith was tested.

How did you respond?

How did you reach out to God?

What was the result?

Our faith is tested during trials.  It is in trying times that we reach out to God for His strength and comfort.  When we reach the other side of the trial, we can praise God for being there for us.

How do you view righteousness?

How do you live by faith?

How has this drawn you closer to God?

We can draw near to God and He will draw near to us.  We can praise God for being there for us through it all.  We can live by faith in the One who is always there for us.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the righteousness I have in living by faith and not by sight.  Increase my closeness to You as I turn to You in prayer each day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

The secret behind getting more faith, is to get to know God more.  Lester Sumrall

By faith we are convinced that fellowship is possible with our fellow man and with God.  B.F. Westcott

It was a Person that God gave, it is a Person that we need, and it is a Person that we accept by faith.  Walter Lewis Wilson

I do not merely to possess a faith, I want a faith that possesses me.  Charles Kingsley

A simple, childlike faith in a Divine Friend solves all the problems that come to us by land or sea.  Helen Keller

BIBLE BLESSINGS CH 6: INCREASED FAITH

“If you had enough faith, God would heal you of your bipolar disorder.”  The words spoken by another church member hurt me deeply.  It caused me to doubt if I had any faith at all.  I had already been shaken to the core because of the bipolar disorder.  However, as time went on, I discovered a definite change in my life.  I discovered that when I had bipolar episodes, I leaned more heavily upon God to get me through the trial.  I discovered that I actually had more faith due to the bipolar disorder.  The trials actually became blessings in my life.  I knew God in a special way that I could never have known without the bipolar disorder.  Digging deeply into God’s Word helped give me the strength to endure the bipolar episodes.  I thanked God for His hand at work in my life to increase my faith during the episodes of bipolar disorder.

MEMORY VERSE

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Faith…

Faith is “unquestioning belief in God” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “belief and trust in and loyalty to God” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “a firm conviction, producing a full acknowledgement of God’s revelation or truth…a personal surrender to Him” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

Faith is the cornerstone of our Christian walk.  When we believe in Christ by faith, we are saved.  We can then start our faith walk with God leading the way.  Faith strengthens us in our trials.  When we dig deeply into God’s Word on a daily basis, our faith is increased as well as our wisdom.

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17, NIV).

Read Romans 10:17. Where does faith come from?

How is the message heard?

The Word of God is vital in the life of a Christian.  We can walk by faith as we learn to keep in step with God through the Holy Spirit.  We can align ourselves with God’s will as we dig deeply into the Scriptures.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV).

Read 1 Corinthians 13:13. What three things remain?

What is the greatest of these?

Faith is strengthened in our daily walk with Christ.  This is especially true when we face trials.  We can then reach out to God for His help and read His Word for strength.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22-23, NIV).

Read Hebrews 10:22-23. How are we to draw near to God?

What does faith bring?

What are we to hold onto?

What is He who promised?

Faith brings assurance in our Christian walk.  God is faithful to those who believe and reach out to Him.  He will grant us strength to face whatever comes our way in our walk with Him.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV).

Read James 1:2-4. What are we to consider pure joy?

What does the testing of our faith produce?

Why are we to let perseverance finish its work?

I was confused by this Scripture for many years.  When I faced trials, I was anything but joyful.  I now know that God desires for us to have joy in the midst of our trials.  I realize this now as I ask God for wisdom and lessons I can learn in my trials.  This strengthens my faith in my Christian walk.  I can then praise God for bringing good out of my trials.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV).  In today’s world, the motto is to rely upon what is seen.  However, as Christians, we walk and live by faith.  Our faith is increased as we rely upon God and His Word.

Name a time when you faced a trial which tested your faith.

How did you reach out to God?

How did you read His Word?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did this strengthen your faith?

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14, NIV).  We are not saved by works but we naturally want to do good works when we walk by faith.  When we dig deeply into God’s Word, we will find the perfect example of Christ who shows us how to walk by faith and do good deeds.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for increasing my faith during my trials.  Help me to read Your Word on a daily basis and give me understanding.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

A simple, childlike faith in a Divine Friend solves all the problems that come to us by land or sea.  Helen Keller

I do not want merely to possess a faith, I want a faith that possesses me.  Charles Kingsley

We can never have more of true faith than we have of true humility.  Andrew Murray

Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.  Andrew Murray

The only way to learn strong faith is to endure great trials.  George Muller

BLESSED FAITH CH 8: NEVER GIVE UP

It was one of the most difficult years in my life.  I had my first manic episode followed by two severe depressions.  I felt like giving up.  I cried out to God for help.  I realized that when I focused on this stressor in my life, I easily became overwhelmed.  However, God helped me to see the importance of taking one day at a time in order to not be anxious and overwhelmed.  As I focused upon God instead of the bipolar disorder, I made it through that difficult year with increased faith that God would always be there for me.  I just had to never give up on God and His provision of peace and strength for my life.

MEMORY VERSE

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Perseverance…

Perseverance is the ability to “continue in some effort, course of action…in spite of difficulty, opposition” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “to persist in…an undertaking in spite of…opposition or discouragement” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). 

Endurance…

Endurance is the “ability to stand pain, distress, fatigue…fortitude” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity…the ability to sustain a stressful effort or activity” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “to bear up courageously” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36, NIV).  When we persevere, our faith is increased.  When we focus upon God instead of our troubles, our faith is increased as we draw closer to God.

“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.  Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:6-9, NIV).

Read 2 Corinthians 12:6-9. Why did Paul refrain from boasting?

Why was Paul given a thorn in the flesh?

Who was the thorn a messenger of?

How many times did Paul plead with God to take it away?

How did God respond?

What did Paul said he now boasted in?

Whose power would rest on Paul?

I had difficulty with this verse as I faced the bipolar disorder.  In the midst of the pain, I doubted if God’s grace would be sufficient for the pain I was experiencing.  However, God came through in magnificent ways to draw me closer to Him and increase my faith.

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the face, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV).

Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8.  How is Paul being poured out like?

What was near for Paul?

What was in store for Paul?

How is the Lord described?

Who else will receive this crown?

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12, NIV).  We can persevere and never give up in the midst of our trials.  God will always come through for us as we focus upon Him instead of our circumstances.  We can then praise God for increasing our faith after the trial is over.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).  I was always a “good girl” who always tried to keep the peace in the midst of a home filled with strife.  However, I learned a different type of doing good which God richly blesses.  This goodness came from God.  It may be tempting to give up, but when we persevere in doing good, God will bless us.

Name a time when you became weary in doing good.

How did you persevere?

What Scripture spoke to you in the midst?

How did doing good set you free with peace in Christ?

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”
 (James 1:4, NIV).  Perseverance strengthens our faith and walk with God.  We all desire to become mature and complete.  However, God often uses trials to finish this good work.

Name a time when you were in the midst of a trial.

How did you cry out to God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did this trial strengthen your faith?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw of everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV).  We all have a race marked out for us.  God has an individualized plan and purpose for each of His children.  When we draw close to God, He will reveal His plan for us so that we can persevere and finish the race victoriously.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for increasing my faith in the midst of my trials.  I pray that You grant me the strength to persevere in the midst of the storms in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.  Walter Elliott

Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.  Benjamin Disraeli

Slow and steady wins the race.  Aesop

Energy and persistence conquer all things.  Benjamin Franklin

Only a sweet and virtuous soul, like seasoned timber, never gives.  George Herbert

BLESSED FAITH CH 7: COURAGE

UPDATE: Hello fellow readers. In order to keep up with writing and posting these Bible studies, I am going to have to post 3X’s a week (Monday-Wednesday – Friday). Thank you for your understanding. Jodi

I was facing my past emotional pain of my brother’s suicide and being sexually abused as a child.  I felt as if I would be swallowed up in the intense emotional upheaval in my soul.  Anxiety filled me as I tried to avoid the pain I knew I must face.  I cried out to God for help and He instilled courage and strength in me as I faced the pain little by little.  I realized that I had tried to hurry up the healing process by facing too much at once.  I found out that when I faced the pain a little at a time with God’s help, I was not overwhelmed with the gift of courage God instilled in me.

MEMORY VERSE

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Courage…

Courage is the “quality of being fearless or brave” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). 

HIDDEN GEMS

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1, NIV).  When we have a strong faith, we can indeed be as bold as a lion.  There is no need to doubt God’s commands.  His Word is faithful.  This builds up our faith so that we will quickly obey God when He asks us to do something.

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.’  ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’  ‘Come,’ he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:25-31, NIV).

Read Matthew 14:25-31.  How did Jesus come to the disciples?

How did the disciples respond?

What did they think Jesus was?

What did Jesus tell them?

What request did Peter ask of Jesus?

How did Jesus respond?

What did Peter do?

What happened when Peter saw the wind?

How did Jesus respond?

The wind in this Scripture can be applied to our life when we lose our focus on Christ and look at our circumstances.  Stressors can be magnified in our mind the more we focus upon them.  We will begin to sink in anxiety.  However, when we focus upon Christ once again, we will find peace.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, NIV).  Like Peter and John, we can speak and act courageously in Christ.  When we do, others will take notice.  It is then we can share Jesus with them.

Name a time when God asked you to act boldly for Him.

What did He ask you to do?

How did you respond?

How did doubt or courage rule your thoughts?

How did God strengthen you to obey with courage?

What was the result?

“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12, NIV).  Each time we obey God, it strengthens our faith and increases our trust in God.  We can follow God on the next step He has planned for us.  When we follow God step by step, our faith will increase as we see God provide what is necessary for the step we are on.  “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV).

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me courage and faith to obey You.  Help me to obey You promptly as You give me the strength to do what You call me to do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.  Baltasar Gracian

The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.  Robert G. Ingersoll

One man with courage makes a majority.  Andrew Jackson

God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right, even though I think it is hopeless.  Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Courage consists, not in blindly overlooking danger, but in seeing and conquering it!  Jean Paul Richter

BLESSED FAITH CH 6: FAITHFUL SCRIPTURES

I was depressed and in the hospital.  I remember feeling as if I was in a deep dark place.  I was lost and afraid of never getting over this depression.  As I cried out to God, He began reminding me of Scriptures that I had hidden in my heart and could access in my time of need.  I remember saying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  “God will never leave me nor forsake me.”  As I remembered the Scriptures God placed upon my heart, my faith was strengthened and I was given new hope that this depression was only temporary.  I released the battle that I was facing to God and felt immediate relief.

MEMORY VERSE

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105, NIV).

HIDDEN GEMS

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does” (Psalm 33:4, NIV).  The Word of God builds our faith.  God’s Word gives us strength to face whatever comes our way.  It gives us direction in a world of uncertainty.  We can praise God for His right and true Word.

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:10-11, NIV).

Read Psalm 119:10-11.  How did the psalmist seek the Lord?

What was his request not to do?

Where had he hidden God’s word?

Why did he do this?

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45, NIV).  In the same way that Jesus opened the minds of the disciples, the Holy Spirit teaches us and opens our understanding of Scriptures.  We can praise God for the priceless gift of wisdom and discernment as we understand the Scriptures we read. 

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11, NIV).

Read Acts 17:11. How were the Berean Jews described?

How did they receive Paul’s message?

What did they do to see if Paul’s message was true?

In the same way the Berean Jews examined the Scriptures to make sure what Paul spoke was true, we also can search the Scriptures to make sure the messages we receive in church and elsewhere line up with the Word of God.  When we do this, we will have peace in knowing we have heard the truth.

“For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).

Read Hebrews 4:12. How is the word of God described?

What is it sharper than?

What does it penetrate?

What does it judge the thoughts and attitudes of?

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23, NIV).  We can praise God for being born again through Christ dying for our sins.  It is indeed imperishable seed through the Word of God.

“But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is made truly complete in them.  This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:5-6, NIV).

Read 1 John 2:5-6.  How is one who obeys God’s Word described?

How do we know we are in him?

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17, NIV).  We must obey God’s Word in order to live a fruitful life.  We are sanctified by the Word of God.  We can allow God to do a work in us to become like Christ more and more each day.  We can praise God for the priceless gift of the Bible.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says” (James 1:22, NIV).  It can be tempting to go to church and hear the pastor preach from the Word of God and then forget about it the rest of the week.  However, when we ask for the Spirit to quicken our memory so that we can live out the Word throughout the week, He will indeed direct us in the way we should go.

Name a trial in your life when you didn’t know what to do.

How did you reach out to God for help?

How did Scriptures comfort you?

How did Scriptures guide your decision making?

How did you take what you learned from Scriptures and do what it said?

How did this strengthen your walk with God?

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17, NIV).  In the Bible, we are given spiritual armor to fight against the enemy.  We can praise God for giving us this armor to fight the good fight of faith.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the priceless gift of Your Word.  Help me to dig deeply into the Bible on a daily basis and apply it to my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

I would sooner a hundred times over be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the Word of God.  C.H. Spurgeon

It is extremely important to declare what the Bible holds, and be silent where the Bible is silent.  Billy Graham

It’s not what you think, it’s what the Bible says.  Rodney Howard-Browne

The Bible is the portrait of Jesus Christ.  John Stott

When the Bible speaks, God speaks.  B.B. Warfield

BLESSED FAITH CH 5: PATIENT IN GOD’S TIMING

I was so excited to finally hear the calling God had on my life to comfort others in the same way He had comforted me (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  I thought I would go right out and help others through the writing and teaching God had given to me as gifts.  However, God had to do a work in me in order to do a work through me.  This came in the form of bipolar disorder.  I had a shaky foundation and it crumbled under the extreme highs and lows.  I cried out to God for help.  He asked me to trust in His timing.  God indeed did know the best way to work out His good purposes for my life.  My foundation was then built upon God and His Word.  I thanked God for His perfect timing for my life.

MEMORY VERSE

“My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me” (Psalm 31:15, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Patience…

Patience “implies the bearing of suffering, provocation, delay, tediousness…with calmness and self-control” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  “Patience perfects Christian character…and fellowship in the patience of Christ is therefore the condition upon which believers are to be admitted to reign with Him” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, NIV).  When we wait upon God, we can be strong in His Presence.  We can trust that God’s timing is best.  It may not come as quickly as we would like but God has the whole picture in mind.

“Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.  But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.  So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.  The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (Genesis 39:20-23, NIV).

Read Genesis 39:20-23.  Where was Joseph placed?

What did God do when Joseph was in prison?

What did God show Joseph?

What was he granted in the eyes of the prison warden?

What did he have Joseph do?

Why was this the case?

What did the Lord do?

Joseph is a prime example of trusting in God’s timing.  Being falsely accused and placed in prison had to hurt Joseph.  However, Joseph chose to follow God no matter the circumstances.  Because he followed God, Joseph was given favor wherever he went.  In the same way, we can wait upon God and His timing which brings us hope and contentment.  “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:25, NIV).

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV).  There is indeed a season and time for our lives.  It can be tempting to become impatient with God’s plan.  However, when we are patient with God’s plan, we will be blessed.

Name a time when you became impatient with God’s timing.

What did you do?

What was the result?

How did God draw you back to Him?

What was the result of waiting upon God’s timing?

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1, NIV).  God will indeed hear our cries as we wait patiently for Him and His timing for our lives.  We can then give God the glory due Him when blessings flow from our lives when we surrender to God’s timing.  “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for granting me strength and patience.  Help me to see that Your timing is always best.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Waiting is God’s school, wherein we learn some of His most valuable lessons for us.  Author unknown

Patience carries a lot of wait.  Author unknown

The greatest power is often simple patience.  E. Joseph Cossman

He who waits on God never waits too long.  Chuck Wagner

Patient waiting is often the highest way of doing God’s will!  Jeremy Collier

BLESSED FAITH CH 4: STEP OUT IN OBEDIENCE

What will people think of me?  I asked myself as God was prompting me to start a Bible study blog.  He had given me the format and how He desired to have them done.  However, I was filled with fear.  I was paralyzed with fear.  I knew God desired for me to share my experiences with mental illness.  I liked keeping silent.  However, God never gave up prompting me.  I finally overcame my fear and obeyed God.  Oh, how I praise Him for granting me this privilege to glorify His name.  I realized that satan didn’t want me to start this Bible study blog and caused fear to paralyzed me.  When I overcame my fear, God has blessed me and set me free from what other people thought of me as I glorified His name through the Bible study blog.  I found a comfort and strength as I encouraged others with mental illness.  I learned a valuable lesson on stepping out in obedience as God called me.

MEMORY VERSE

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Obey…

Obedient “suggests a giving in to the orders or instructions of one in authority or control” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is being “submissive to…the command of authority” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  Faith is “the initial act of obedience in the new life” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

It can be easy to become paralyzed with fear when God asks us to obey Him and to move beyond our comfort zone.  The fear of the unknown can shake us.  However, God tells us to be strong and very courageous in His Word.  We can go to God in faith as He directs our steps.  When we step out in obedience, we will be blessed.

“Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7, NIV).

Read Joshua 1:7. What two commands of encouragement did God give Joshua?

What did Joshua need to be careful to obey?

What promise was given to Joshua if he obeyed God’s law?

The Word of God is full of promises.  We like to stand upon promises that bring us hope.  However, we must be careful to obey the entire Word of God.  When we obey God and His Word, our life will be blessed beyond measure.  “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’” (Luke 11:28, NIV).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV).

Read Ephesians 2:8-10.  By what have we been saved?

Through what have we been saved?

What is it a gift of?

What is this grace not by?

Why is it not by works?

What were we created in Christ Jesus to do?

It can be so tempting to think that we earn grace from God by good works.  The world operates this way.  It rewards those who do good works.  However, God desires for us to accept His grace freely.  Good works will be the result of obeying God and receiving His grace.  “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13, NIV).

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14, NIV).  Good works will be the result when we obey God’s promptings.  Our faith is strengthened as a result.  We have nothing to fear because God has the best in mind for us.

Name a time when God asked you to step out in faith.

What was your response?

What was the result of your obedience?

How did this strengthen your relationship with God?

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says” (James 1:22, NIV).  The Word of God is our guiding light in our lives.  When we read God’s Word daily, it will shine the light of the path we are to take that day.  When we draw near to God through prayer and His Word, we will be blessed.  We can then apply God’s Word to our lives and do what it says.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your guidance and direction.  Help me to step out and obey You promptly when You ask me to take action.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.  C.S. Lewis

I was not born to be free.  I was born to adore and to obey.  C.S. Lewis

When God gives a command or a vision of truth, it is never a question of what he will do, but what we will do.  Henrietta Mears

I know the power of obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible.  Teresa of Avila

The test of progress is obedience.  A.E. Brooke