October 2023 Bible Study: God’s Given Gift of Rest

By Major Karen Schmig
St. George, UT Outpost – Intermountain Division


I’m not sure if you have trouble observing Sabbath in you daily lives? According to research based on Lifeway Research, seven in 10 churchgoers take their Sabbath on Sunday. Few take it on Saturday (5 percent), Friday (1 percent) or Monday (1 percent). For 23 percent, they don’t take a day of rest. I can testify that I am one of the 23% that typically do not take the time to have a sabbath day of rest. If I do take a day off from the business of the Corps, I will find something else that needs to be done. Anything from housework to shopping. I am good at finding something to do to keep me busy. In this Bible study we are going to explore what “Sabbath” really means and by reading scripture we will find out why God says it is so important to practice it in our daily weekly routine.

Read Hebrews 4:1, 9-11.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

According to Britannica.com the Sabbath is defined as:
“The Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath (from Hebrew shavat, “to rest”) is observed throughout the year on the seventh day of the week—Saturday. According to biblical tradition, it commemorates the original seventh day on which God rested after completing the creation.”

Sabbath was introduced to us from the very beginning when God created the Earth. We read in the book of Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth in six periods of time, which He called days: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2–3).

The factor, or the thing that the Sabbath was pointing to, is Jesus Christ. He is our rest. It doesn’t matter whether you go to corporate worship on Saturday or on Sunday, or your choice of a day during the week, because that’s not what really matters. What really matters is that you find your rest in Christ!

We take sabbath to acknowledge that we need God, we need time dedicated to him. A time to rest. This doesn’t mean that all we are to do on a sabbath are pray and sleep, though prayer and rest are central and needed. It can also be time with family or hobbies. So many times, we’re burning the candle at both ends. So busy with work that we don’t stop to really appreciate God’s presence in our lives.

Let’s Read Luke 10:28-42 NIV

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In these we read that account of Mary and Martha. Martha just going and going on her own trying to make things just right to the point frustration. For most of that have a servant heart that is very easy to get caught up in. Keeping ourselves bust serving others and making sure everything is done in all our power to help and please others. Jesus reminds Martha that Mary had chosen what was right, to rest at Jesus’ feet, to bask in his presence and his love.

Sabbath is an act of humility before the Lord.

Matthew 5:3 (NIV) says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Being poor in spirit”, we are like paupers, relying on God and only God to fill us. It is a sin to think we can just keep going and going without acknowledging God and our need for his help. It’s silly for us to think that we are too busy for God, the one who gives us all of our provisions in the first place. Sabbath goes beyond just one day as well. We need dedicated time daily to rest in Him.

Even Jesus needed time with his father, who are we to act as though we don’t. Make a plan today, put it on your calendar, in your day timer. Schedule time for God, be intentional about it. Start learning also to say no to others if that is your crutch to not taking time to rest in God. This is of central importance to our spiritual health. Make a date with God, pray to Him, take in his word and grow in him daily. May God bless you as we all go through this great adventure, we call life with a great Savior who never fails us.

Questions to Reflect On:

  1. Are you taking a weekly Sabbath?
  2. Are you taking time daily for the Lord?
  3. What can you do differently in your daily/weekly schedule that will allow you to take a Sabbath?
  4. What does God have for me in my day of Sabbath, through this day of rest?
  5. What do I have for Him in my Sabbath day, through this day of rest?
  6. How will this be lived out with others in gratitude, joy and celebration?

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September 2023 Bible Study: The Battlefield of our Mind

By Major Beth Desplancke

A Bible Study on the Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)


  1. We have lots of funny sayings related to our head. What do these common head sayings mean?

⦁ I always keep my head (Meaning: I never lose control of my emotions)
⦁ It never entered my head (Meaning: I never even thought about it)
⦁ I brought matters to a head. (Meaning: I made sure something had to be decided)
⦁ My head is in the clouds (Meaning: I’m not a practically minded person).
⦁ I can’t make head nor tails of this (Meaning: I don’t understand it at all).
⦁ I’m in way over my head (Meaning: I’m involved so far that it’s out of my control)
⦁ I could do it standing on my head (Meaning: I find it really easy).
⦁ The fame has completely gone to my head (Meaning: I’ve let my feelings get out of control).
⦁ She likes to keep her head down (Meaning: She avoids attracting attention)
⦁ They’re still scratching their heads (Meaning: They’re finding it hard to understand the results).
⦁ That joke just went over my head (Meaning: I didn’t understand the joke).

  1. What other head sayings or idioms can you think of? (examples: airhead, head start, to bang one’s head against the wall, head over heels, keep a cool head, like a chicken with its head cut off).

Although they are funny sayings, we know that protecting the head is very important to our health and well-being. A head injury can be dangerous and life threatening. That is why there are certain sports and activities where wearing a helmet is vitally important, such as playing football or riding a bicycle.

Getting into the Word:

In Ephesians 6, Paul writes about the fact we are in a spiritual battle, …not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). He then goes on to list a spiritual armor that Christians should be figuratively wearing so that we can stand up against the devil’s schemes (v. 11).

Read Ephesians 6:10-20.

Although Paul doesn’t start with the helmet first, we are going to start there, because we think a lot of thoughts all day long. According to a study from psychologists at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, the average human has 6,200 thoughts per day (https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/how-many-thoughts-per-day/). For Christians, the biggest battlefield is our minds. When the enemy attacks, he usually attacks our minds because he knows if he can influence the way we think, he will influence the way we act.

A Roman soldier’s helmet, called a galea, was basically a skullcap made of iron, typically covered with bronze. Its primary function was to protect the solder’s skull and brain from the swing of the “broadsword”- a 3-to 4-foot-long sword with a massive handle that needed to be cradled by two hands to hit its target. One strategically aimed blow could completely crush the soldier’s skull, incapacitating him in a split second.

Over time, the soldier’s helmet was redesigned to be even more comprehensive in its coverage. Pieces were added, including a flared neck guard and hinged cheek guards. It protected not only the head but also the neck and shoulders. When the helmet was strapped in place, it exposed little besides the eyes, nose and mouth.

  1. How does Paul describe the helmet? Read also Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  2. Why do you think he used that word connected to the helmet?
  3. What does salvation mean?

According to Easton’s Bible Diction, salvation is the word used for “the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13), and of deliverance generally from evil or danger. In the New Testament it is specially used with reference to the great deliverance from the guilt and the pollution of sin wrought out by Jesus Christ, “the great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).”

The salvation experience is often reduced to something that only affects a person’s eternal destiny – heaven or hell. For some, salvation is just a “get out of hell free card.” And to be clear, the fact that it does affect the outcome of eternity gives us incredible hope. In fact, part of what it means to wear the helmet of salvation is to live every day in light of eternity, and the promised future that we have. Doing so will, without a doubt, change the way we live in the present.

While the future implications of our salvation are critical and give us astounding hope, this is not the totality of what it offers. If salvation was only meant to give us a ticket to eternity, what good would it do us now while we’re still on earth? Do we just sit around waiting, living out our days until some future moment when the Lord returns or when we go to heaven, whichever comes first?

No, salvation – yours and mine – was meant to come with more than future benefits. It was also supposed to exert a startlingly clear impact on our present, daily life. But this impact will only be experienced to the extent that we apply the benefits of salvation to our everyday lives.

Receiving salvation is not the same as applying salvation. The first redeems us; the second restores, protects and shields us daily from the attacks of the enemy.

  1. Read Romans 5:9-10. What does justification mean?

Justification is a legal term signifying acquittal. It means we’re released from having to pay the debt we owe for our sin. But our salvation doesn’t stop at the foot of the cross. If you’re amazed at what His death accomplished, imagine how much more is accomplished through “His life.” The fact that He lives means our salvation flows into the everyday experiences where we live.

“I’m saved” isn’t just past tense; it also has past and future implications. As we live underneath its blessing, we enjoy a vibrant, living, daily reality in the present (sanctification). And this is not just a one-time occurrence. Sanctification is a process by which we are continually delivered from the wrath of God on earth, fortified against the enemy’s attacks, and molded into the image of Christ as our minds are renewed. And Salvation includes glorification – 0ne day we will be saved from the presence of sin – that’s our eternity in heaven.

  1. The enemy is a liar (John 8:44) and he wants us to doubt our salvation. What is the best way to combat the lies of the enemy (see Romans 12:2)?

Getting Practical:

Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that we are to put on or take up the helmet of salvation. How do we do this practically? How do we live out this passage, since it isn’t a literal helmet that we are putting on?

Using the word “hat” as an acrostic, we can remember how to take up the helmet of salvation.

H – Halt errant thoughts.

  1. Read 2 Corinthians 10:5 What do you think taking our thoughts captive means?

When the enemy sends his lies to our mind, we need to immediately stop thinking about those lies. Just because the enemy puts a thought in our head, doesn’t mean we have to think about it. We need to halt the errant thought, take every thought captive, and make it obedient to Christ. Remember, it is the helmet of salvation; the enemy is going to attack our position in Christ. He will get us to question whether we are saved or not, or doubt that the last sin we committed is the one that God won’t forgive, or he will try to get us to think that we are too bad for God to love or forgive us, or that we have failed God one too many times. Whenever those thoughts come to our mind, we need to halt thinking about them.

As the saying goes, “You can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can sure keep them from building a nest in your hair!” Taking thoughts captive means controlling them instead of allowing them to control you. It means actively replacing the enemy’s thinking with God’s thinking at every opportunity.

A – Adjust your thoughts and accept your identity in Christ.

This means, instead of thinking about the garbagy thoughts the enemy puts in your mind, think about who Christ says you are in Him. Focus on your identity in Christ.

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 2:16. What does having the mind of Christ mean?

Since we have the mind of Christ, we need to think Christ-like thoughts.

Besides offering protection, soldiers wore helmets as a means of identification. Often the name of the soldier who wore the helmet was inscribed inside of it. Our salvation identifies us with Christ. The enemy loves to get us to doubt our salvation, as well as our identity. He tries to get us to focus on the things we do (or don’t do) rather than who we are.

  1. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:1-10. What do these verses say about our identity in Christ? (We are chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, included, marked in Him and sealed by His Spirit, we have been made alive in Christ, and we are His handiwork). What identity speaks most to you today?

T – Think the right thoughts.

  1. Read Philippians 4:8. What kind of thoughts are we to be thinking? What do all those words mean?

If a thought doesn’t fit into one of these categories, we need to stop thinking it immediately. The lies of the enemy and the garbage he spews at you has no place in your life. Choose what fills your mind – if it fits with Paul’s grid then it is worth thinking about. Fill your mind with God’s Word and you will have no room for Satan’s lies.

Having a helmet is a confidence builder. It provides the security of protection amid the battle. The good news for us is that we never have a reason to be without it. The price for our helmet has been paid in full by our Savior. Re-read Ephesians 2:8-9.

What a shame if we ever go into battle again without taking full advantage of it – and the full benefit package that comes with it. Your identity is your weaponry. Taking up and putting on the helmet of your salvation is akin to knowing who you are in Christ, fortifying your thinking with it, and living in a way that is congruent with it. When you do this, you break the enemy’s stronghold and tap into the power to deflect future attacks.

Personal Reflection to H.A.T.: (these questions are for personal thought and meditation)

  • What recurring thoughts do I need to take captive?
  • What lie about my identity does the enemy like to whisper in my head?
  • What verse can I use to combat the specific lie of the enemy?

Closing Prayer:

In closing, read this prayer together as your commitment to put on the helmet of salvation.

Lord of my life, I dedicate myself to You this day.
Today I will read the Word of God.
Today I will pursue godly thinking.

Thinking godly thoughts protects me from sin.
Thinking godly thoughts build strength of character in me.
Thinking godly thoughts grows my integrity.
Thinking godly thoughts increases my love for others.

I realize that…
Thinking godly thoughts, reading the Word of God, putting on Your Armor,
And choosing godly actions and attitudes will make me a strong, victorious Christian.

I dedicate my mind to you today.
I will meditate on godly things.
And reject ungodly thoughts this day. Amen.

By Beth McLendon of Inspirational-Prayers.com

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November 2023 Bible Study: Gratitude

By Major Kim Williams
Administrator for Program
Phoenix, AZ Adult Rehabilitation Center

Read Daniel 3:1-30 NIV

Question: How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego show their faith and belief in the God they served?

How many times have you heard, “Have an attitude of gratitude?” Is that before or after morning coffee? Is it even possible to have gratitude in all situations? I have a friend that is now with the Lord, and she would give praise to God for the “Good, Bad, and Indifferent.”

It is so easy to praise the Lord when all is going your way. The coffee is perfect, the bills are paid, little Johnny got all A’s on his report card, and you just lost another 10 pounds on your diet. I don’t know whose life this might be, but it sure isn’t mine.

Mine is more like I set the coffee pot before going to bed but forgot to turn it on, little Johnny has detention and I gained 10 lbs. on the diet.

We can find it in our relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit to have a heart of gratitude when the good seasons seem to be in the distance and the bad is like a dreary cloud hanging over us for a season.
You get bad news from the doctor, children are having difficulties, grandkids are being too exposed to worldly decay, the car breaks down, or you’re having personal relationship problems.

Is this the time we reflect and give thanks in all circumstances? Are we rejoicing always? What is our prayer life like at this time? (see 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Here is the thing – life is going to happen, the good, the bad, and the indifferent!

The Good News

No, the great news is that we have this amazing gift as followers of Christ, that in spite of the chaos, hurts, and thunderstorms of life, we can still be filled with gratitude and joy because of the abundant love God has for each one of us.

It is His mercy that God shows our broken selves and the grace that He pours into us is reason enough to dig deep in those valleys of life and be able to live with a heart of gratitude. When we take time to be mindful and see the amazing works of God, we can be prompted by the Holy Spirit to overflow with gratitude, joy, grace, and mercy.

Question: What can you do to begin the daily process of recognizing the goodness of God so you can life with a grateful heart during the good, the bad, and the indifferent?

Start a Gratitude Journal. Here are some ideas of what you can include:

  • Write your prayers of thanksgiving.
  • Contemplate the chorus, “Count your blessings, name them one by one and you will see what the Lord has done.”
  • Look up scripture about rejoicing, gratitude, mercy, joy, etc.
  • Read Galatians 5:22-23. What fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life? What fruit of the Spirit do you need more of right now?

Learning to live with sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading and embracing a life of gratitude in the good, the bad and the indifferent is not looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. This is a gift and treasure from God that comes through His Son, Jesus, when we seek to follow Him and His word found in the Scripture.

We may not receive all the answers we want, the way we want them answered, but we can still be filled with a grateful heart through anything, if we have the same attitude as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had along with the confidence they had in God Almighty.

Daniel 3:14-18
And Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Question: Are we so firm in our relationship with Christ, that when the indifferent comes, we are able to enter the blazing furnace with gratitude, joy and confidence in who we are in Him?

We can have that attitude of gratitude because of our relationship with Christ.

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December 2023 Bible Study: The Lamb Who Was Slain

By Captain Victoria Mercer
Kaneohe, HI Corps
Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division

Before reading the passage of Scripture, it is always important for us to look at the context of the whole book of Exodus. We should look at who wrote it, why did they write it, to whom did they wrote this for, any key themes in the book and what was the culture like back then. The reason we should do this is because it can be very easy for us to look at a Bible passage and try to relate to it from our current culture and our own understanding, when really, back then, culture was very different, and this will help us to see why God did what He did and how it can relate to us today.

Exodus was written by Moses, whom God used when He set the Israelites free from their long 400 years of slavery to the Egyptians. The audience that this was written for was the people of Israel, and it was written to record the events of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their development as a nation. It was written in the desert during Israel’s wanderings (somewhere in the Sinai peninsula). The key theme we see is Redemption in the book of Exodus.

God sent Moses and Aaron (Moses’ brother) to speak to Pharaoh and for him to let God’s people go (anyone else thinking of the movie Prince of Egypt and the song? No…just me…haha). Pharaoh’s heart becomes hardened, and he refuses. He refuses not just once, not just twice, but nine times! One, that shows how hardened his heart was and two, it shows how many chances God gave him. There were nine plagues that hit Egypt before our passage: the plague of blood, the plague of frogs, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague of livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of hail, the plague of locusts and the plague of darkness. This is a good transition for us to read our passage of Scripture for this study.

Read Scripture: Exodus 12

What about Jesus
You may be wondering what the Passover has to do with Jesus being born (it is Christmas time after all). Also, what does it have to do with the spiritual discipline of celebration that we are talking about this month? It has so much to do with it!

Our God is so amazing! Before He created our world, He knew His amazing plan of redemption. During the time of the Exodus when God saved His people from slavery to the Egyptians, He knew His plan of ultimate redemption from our sin. All along, He orchestrated every detail. How did He do that with regards to the Passover? Passover was a Spring holiday that took place between March and April and was followed by the Unleavened Bread Feast and the First Fruits Feast (all took place three days within each other). The way the blood was placed on the door looked something like this:

Blood was placed at the top and the sides of the doors, sort of looking like the shape of the cross (hmmm…I sense a foreshadowing coming on!). Passover took place on a Friday and then the other two feasts took place on Saturday and Sunday. How does Jesus fit in with this? He was the Passover Lamb for us! He was perfect, God Himself, and He willingly chose to come and be fully human (tempted as we are yet He did not sin) and die a criminal’s death, taking on so much physical, mental, and emotional pain on our behalf. It doesn’t end there. He also took on the FULL wrath of God against the sin of the whole world! And, as someone wrote on the festivals of the Jews: “…the Passover pointed to the Messiah as our Passover Lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening,” (Holy Land Site).

Now we see how Jesus fits in with Passover, but what about our theme for the month on the spiritual discipline of celebration? Where does that fit in with all of this? Simply put, our God is a God of Joy and Celebration. He is the One who created it! It was His idea all along. The people of Israel had many holidays and feasts they were told to celebrate, and they always did it in community. The focus of all of these was God Himself, whether that meant giving to others, remembering all He has done for them or sacrificing sin offerings for the wrongs they have done. In Nehemiah, when the walls were built and he was leading the third group out of captivity, Ezra read the Law of the Lord and the people starting mourning and grieving: “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” …Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” …Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly,” (Nehemiah 8:9-10, 18 NIV).

In The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, a quote that really struck me was this: “The world is filled with reasons to be downcast. But deeper than sorrow thrums the unbroken pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eternal day,” (29). Throughout God’s Word, we see how delightful His commands are, how He gives abundant life, to rejoice always, to always give thanks, and to praise the Lord. The more we dive into His Word, the more we get to know His character and who He really is and not just what we think we know about Him.

Other Passages to Read:
Some other passages to read and dive into that discusses more on the festivals and holidays, delighting in the Lord and His Word, and rejoicing are these (this is not a full list of all that there are): Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy 16, Psalm 48, 106, 119 and 150, Philippians 4:4-8, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Christmas can be a hard time for some of us who have lost loved ones and has been a time of grieving. For any of you reading this who have lost someone you love dearly, I am so sorry for your loss and know that you are not alone. When we look Biblically, the people celebrated together and not alone and we see celebration happening regardless of circumstances, such as Paul when he wrote the letter Philippians and was in prison (the main theme throughout it was joy). Here are some questions for all of us to ponder:

  1. Where do I see the character of God in the Exodus 12 passage? What characteristics do I see?
  2. What was the importance of Passover to the people of Israel?
  3. Why was it so important for them to observe Passover annually?
  4. Why was celebration a community thing and not to be done alone? What does this say of God’s heart?
  5. How do I see true joy found throughout the passages discussed above?
    Now, some personal application questions to ponder:
  6. Is my focus on Christmas on God and all He has done and celebrating Him, or is it about something else?
  7. Why is it important to celebrate with others? What good would it do not only for my faith, but also my relationship with others?
  8. Has the true Christmas story of Christ coming become habit and routine, or do I see the how amazing it really is? (Something that may be helpful for this is not just looking at the passages from the New Testament about His birth, but also looking throughout the Bible to see the whole picture and all God orchestrated for Jesus to come at just the right time and just the right way).

I hope and pray this was helpful for those reading and that God uses it to give all of us a deeper love of Him and His Word, and a deeper gratitude for all He has done for us. God bless.

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August 2023 Bible Study: Flourishing in the Drought

By Major Noelle Nelson
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Golden State Division

Bible Study – 1 Kings 17:1-6

“Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, ‘As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!’ Then the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.’ So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook.” 1 Kings 17: 1-6 (NLT)

The desert is a dry place. Just the word, DESERT, evokes images of dry, cracked earth. Unbearable heat. Parched throat and dry lips. Oceans of sand, with miles and miles of unstimulating brown and tan landscape. Tall, looming saguaro cactus. The occasional scruffy shrub. The desert appears to be in a perpetual dry season with no apparent life forms, other than the cacti and shrubs. And maybe the occasional snake or lizard.

Have you ever experienced a dry season in life? A period in your life when it seemed like few things seemed to be going right? A time when your connection with God was beginning to wane? That feeling of being spiritually disconnected and dried out? Maybe you are there right now. Like a literal drought, we can experience spiritual droughts. It may be because of a traumatic event such as loss of a job, relationship problems, medical issues, grief over the loss of a friend or loved one. Sometimes it is the result of not listening carefully to God’s will. At these times all we see in our heart is a vast desert. We feel desperately dried out and perhaps abandoned. How can we not just survive, but flourish in the dry seasons of our lives?
The prophet Elijah found himself in such circumstances. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was called to be a prophet during a time of moral and spiritual collapse in Israel.

Read 1 Kings 17:1
(“Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, ‘As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!’ ”)

Many of the Israelites had ceased to follow God. Some even began “hedging their bets” by worshipping many different Gods, just to cover all the bases. The King of Israel was desperate to appease a variety of gods, so he married off his son to the high priestess of Baal. The nation had turned to gods who claimed to have control over the rain clouds. In the midst of all this, God required Elijah the prophet to be the bearer of bad news to the people: There would be no rain or dew in the land until God’s people turned back to Him.

This horrible drought was not a surprise out of left field. God had been urging His people to follow Him, yet they chose their own path. This literal desert season was a result of their own disobedience.

  • Think of a time when you chose your own path, even though you sensed that God was leading you in a different direction. How did that go for you?
  • At what point did you sense that there would be consequences for your choice?
  • Did you see the consequences as a punishment? Or as a way for God to open your eyes and shake you back into reality?

It’s true. Sometimes we bring these desert seasons into our own lives because we aren’t following God. Maybe we find ourselves becoming complacent, just going through the motions. Or, similar to Elijah, we may be surrounded by people who are turning away from God, and we are fighting not to get swept away in despair. It’s during the dry times that we can learn to trust God and not allow negative feelings, discouragement, or temptations to run our lives.

Emotions are powerful things. But our faith can be even more powerful. Ask yourself these questions:

⦁ How much of my faith is based on emotions? Is this a good or bad thing? Read James 1:6.

(“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”)

It is important to have a firm footing in your faith so that fickle emotions are unable to shake you loose when difficulty arises.

  • What is true about God even when I don’t feel it? Read Romans 5:1 & 2, and Hebrews 13:8

(“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom. 5:1 & 2)

(“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8)

Sometimes our emotions get the better of us. But God is merciful. Through Elijah, God demonstrated His merciful provision and unmatched ability. God was looking for people who would walk with faith and look to Him. Elijah, and everyone else who heard God’s message, had exactly two choices: they could put their faith in God to carry them trough the dry season, or they could choose not to. The King, Queen, and many Israelites chose to not trust in God, turning to other gods and their own intuition to try and save themselves. Elijah made the right decision by turning to God and relying on Him. He set the example for the nation.

Most of us don’t turn to other gods when things are difficult, but I’m not sure we can always say that we truly trust in God 100%. Humans tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to these things.

  • What do you usually do when your spiritual life is going through a dry spell?

Let’s revisit the question from earlier in this study: How can we not just survive, but flourish in the dry seasons of our lives?

Elijah knew what to do during this drought, and he came through. We can follow his example by doing these things:

  1. Stay in the Word. Elijah listened to God. It is especially important that we keep our ears open during dry times. Even when it doesn’t appear to be influencing anything in our lives, keep reading God’s Word.
  2. Stay Faithful. We need to follow God even when we feel unenthusiastic or unmotivated. Look back at 1 Kings 17:3. Elijah went to the Kerith Ravine simply because God told him to go. Obedience leads to blessings.
  3. Stay Calm. We all have times that are dry spiritually. So, don’t panic. God has not forgotten about you. Like Elijah, rest in this truth.
  4. Stay Open. God might have an unusual way of providing for you. Elijah was willing to be fed by ravens! Don’t ignore His small blessings and His unlikely resources.
  5. Stay Thankful! In the midst of the drought, offer praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Do not let your feelings rob you of the opportunity to praise and thank God even when the times are hard. It’s easy to praise and thank God when things go well, but true women of God praise Him through the trials as well.

Do you feel yourself languishing in a dry season? Is your soul parched and crying out for some living water? Trust in the Lord. He has not left you or forsaken you. He WILL bring you through this drought!

Prayer: Almighty God, you know how much I need you. On my own, I can get caught up just following my feelings and being overwhelmed by my circumstances. Please help me to think clearly and made good decisions. Thank you that you always care about me and you can provide in any spiritual drought. I want to stay receptive to Your solutions, directions, and promptings. I give You the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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July 2023 Bible Study: Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty

By Lt. Helen Reyes
Executive Administrative Assistant – Women’s Department
Del Oro Division

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “wait? Rush hour traffic, waiting in line from a popular shave ice store, waiting for test score perhaps, or waiting for an expectant child.” The word “wait” is used in the Bible which means “to look forward to.”

I am sharing my daughter-in-law’s personal experience in waiting; read below.

I tend to be a very anxious person.  When I want or “need” something, I’m not one to sit and patiently wait for it.  I always feel that I must seek it and obtain whatever it is as fast as I’m able to. 
In high school, a great friend of mine gave me a copy of his book of prayers.  It was a little blue book that was titled “Pieta” and on the cover was Michelangelo’s Pieta statue depicting Mary holding Jesus in her arms, close to her heart.  My friend’s hope was that I’d find solace and peace in the prayers found within that tiny booklet. 

Since then, that little book has been my talisman of a sort and it’s something I keep close with me.  In it, I have a tiny sheet of paper that lists all my prayer requests and as I peruse through that little book and pray, I’m reminded to lift my supplications to God and to pray for others as well.  It’s been about 20 years since I’ve received that book and that list has gone through many changes.  Through the years, I’ve prayed to God for guidance through college so that I could make my parents proud; I’ve prayed for my marriage, and I prayed to God for the gift of my rainbow baby after suffering a loss.  I prayed and I continue to pray.  I review my list of supplications from time to time and much of what I’ve prayed for has been answered, many of which have been beyond my wildest expectations.    
As I reflect on this now, I’m reminded of the cover of my little booklet of Michelangelo’s Pieta.  Michelangelo’s masterpiece symbolizes peace and hope.  That statue on the cover is fitting then, in that when I take those quiet moments to pray, I’m filled with God’s peace and faith in His perfect timing.  That, while I am anxious and always eager, God already has a plan in store for me and most, if not all, of what I’ve prayed for has been answered.  All that’s needed is a little bit of patience, a little bit of hope, and complete faith in God’s promise. 

In Genesis, we find that Sarai needed patience, a lot of hope and complete faith in God.

Read Genesis 11:27-32.
The writer introduces his readers to the early life of Sarai. What do you learn about Sarai from these verses?

Using the following verses (Genesis 17:15,16, Genesis 11:30) write a short description of Sarai.

Read Genesis 16:1-6.

Verse 16:1-3 How does this verse speak to you about Sarai’s decision who gave Hagar to Abram as a substitute wife? Discuss her idea and the emotions she might have experienced.

In verse 3 Sarai took matters into her own hands by giving Hagar to Abram. Due to Sarai’s lack of faith came a series of problems. What happens when we take over for God? Time was the greatest test for Abram and Sarai’s willingness to work in their lives. Sometimes we too must simply wait.

Verse 16:5 Although Sarai arranged for Hagar to have child by Abram, she later blamed Abram for the results. It is often easier to strike out in frustration and accuse someone else than to admit an error and ask forgiveness. (Adam and Eve, the same thing in 3:12,13.)

Verse 16:6 To whom did Sarai took out her anger? Were her actions justified?
Review and re read the verses above, in what specific way does the testimony of Sarai minister to you?

Read Genesis 17:17-21.
What covenant did God give to Sarai and Abram? God changed Sarai and Abram’s name – what is it and what does it means? What changes in Sarah’s life after her name change?

Read Hebrews 11:11-12.
Sarah’s faith enabled her to be strengthened to conceive and deliver Isaac in her old age.

Read 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Sarah’s faith resulted in a changed life when it came to her relationship with her husband.

Tell Your Story: In what areas of your life have you learned greater trust of God? Describe one area more fully in the space below. Please consider sharing this with your ladies at your corps.

Think About It: Someone once said, “God’s plan is completely different from what you could ever imagine and much more glorious than you would ever expect.” Have you noticed this in your life? Is anything really too hard for the Lord?

In the Psalms we find a repository of prayers to God, many of them ask God for help. For example, consider these passages and notice the relationship between waiting on God and finding strength in God.

“Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” Psalm 31:24

“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 62:5

Quiet patience is an important part of waiting, for it should drive us to hope in God.

Fear can be a helpful response to dangerous situations. But it can also be something that overwhelms us and takes our eyes off of Christ. No matter our situation, however, Scripture shows us that a part of waiting upon God involves avoiding being controlled by fear and worry. The remedy to our fears is God himself. 

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

Here we see the importance that a proper view of God plays in our practical lives. We need to acknowledge God as he is.

After reading and reviewing the study, take a few moments to pray for someone you know to hang in there and never give up. Our Lord God is never late – He is always on time, and He will never forsake you! Reach out for support from your corps officers, and other godly women around you. You are never alone! God loves you!

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Others – IHQ Bible Study 2023

On 14 June 2023, international Women’s Ministries launched a Bible study collection, Others. This publication is a collection of 24 Bible studies developed by women from different parts of our Salvation Army world. Others follows a strong line-up of Bible studies produced and released over the past four years, Time to be HolyLet Justice Roll and More than Conquerors. Since 2020, over 90 women have accepted the invitation to share what is on their hearts and minds as spiritual leaders, teachers and women of faith!

Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World President of Women’s Ministries, writes:

I am delighted to be able to present to you the 2023 Bible study collection from international Women’s Ministries, Others. It is my firm belief that God is calling us to walk with others; in confidence, courage, trust and resilience. Our hearts will stay connected to God, but our hands must reach out to women and girls, men and boys, across our world.
Loving others is God’s call to action for our lives! Much more than just talking about others, we must actually step out and join with them in a spirit of intentional community, hearing people when they voice their struggles and their joys.

Go to https://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/news/others-bible-study to download the English Bible study. Translations in other languages will be coming soon.

June 2023 Bible Study: Flourishing in Times of Uncertainty

By Major Rachel Chouinard
Anchorage Citadel – Alaska Division

Flourishing means to grow in a healthy and vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.  At first thought, I picture flowers so beautiful and fragrant, but that could be because my brain wants to grab the most obvious first two letters of both words! 

Flourishing flowers are lovely, but with deeper thought, I think of my most favorite spot on planet earth (so far!) the Redwood Forest on the coast of California.  This forest is home to some the world’s tallest and oldest trees. Many of them more than 2000 years old and reaching heights well beyond the Statue of Liberty.  Just standing at the base of one and tilting your head back as far as you can looking up, up, up, gives perspective to the height of these trees which touch the heavens.  It is a sight to behold!  The still-standing trees keep growing 3 to 5 feet a year, though they have no mind of their own to do so, they were meant to be a tree unlike any other! They began the size of a tomato seed and wowie! to see one now, one will think, how could you have ever been so small and insignificant?

Some of the most memorable trees to me since my last visit were the ones still standing amongst the devastation of their tree community.  Trouble was not so far from them, some had scars of trouble themselves, lightning struck, disease struck, burl poachers struck, lovers with a pocketknife struck, or strong wind that huffed and puffed till it blew them down.   The trees still standing just kept doing what they do, grow, grow, grow and get this; it’s origin is from about the size of a tomato seed!  From seed to tree, it remains on the same trajectory- to become a Redwood tree!   The only way it was able to remain the same yet flourish was by growing into the gigantic wonder it was meant to be. This is flourishing! 

God intends that His creation grow and flourish.  Every foundational truth in the Scripture is meant for our flourishing. Redemption in Christ, and abundant eternal life through Him.  The forest around us may be uncertain, and at times full of trouble, but we know what we are meant to do! Flourish!

In this Bible Study, I will like to guide the participant through 3 spiritual foundations given by Scripture that promote flourishing in times of uncertainty.      

PART ONE: (Surrender) 

When I stand at the bottom of a Redwood tree, looking up and seeing the tops of the trees bend and sway with the wind I wonder what would happen if they didn’t?  The force of the wind would break their tops off. But instead, they surrender, they let the wind blow as it will and when it is over, they are still standing, still growing, still flourishing.  They have surrendered to the process.  As Christ so lovingly calls us to surrender as well.   

READ Isaiah 45:9.  What does this verse indicate about the way in which God flourishes us? 

READ Jeremiah 29:11. Describe the flourishment that comes from surrendering to God’s plan.  

READ Romans 12:2. In what ways does conforming to the world hinder our surrender to God? Describe what flourishment comes from a mind transformed by God? 

So much of life is us growing without any say in the matter whatsoever.  Can a baby keep herself from growing? Can a mid-life adult stop herself from aging?  I see more spiritual, emotional and mental growth in myself from my surrendering to the process far more than my trying to “fix myself” or “figure it out”.  When we are doing this, we are relying on ourselves, not Christ.  It is vital that not only seek God’s will and way, but to surrender as well.  Surrendering can feel like a precarious place to be, but it is an act of faith which leads to our flourishing!   

“He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:6  

PART TWO: (taking Dominion) 

The seed of a Redwood would not have grown if it had been thrown on concrete, instead, in a damp and nutrient rich forest, protected from danger, it flourishes!  Flourishing happens in a favorable environment.  The opposite must happen in an unfavorable environment.  Biblically, we can track that flourishing is the way life is supposed to be!   In the beginning, God pronounces everyday of creation leading up to the creation of mankind GOOD! And every day topped the previous day, culminating with the creation of man, and then the Garden of Eden where he placed His final creation- woman.  God created the Garden of Eden as the perfect home for His children to thrive and flourish. He charged them to be fruitful, multiply, and take dominion.

It is evident that God has granted us freedom to exercise our sovereignty over our little corner of the world through His charge to mankind.  Why wouldn’t you do the best you can to create an environment for yourself in which you can flourish in?  I mean, if a Redwood tree had legs, do you think it would plant itself in the middle of Death Valley.  Sometimes we do this! We ignore Gods intention for us to flourish and instead go off and suffer on purpose that we may be a martyr-a victim. I think often of the Scripture of which Jesus says “greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world”  As we grow in consciousness by His light in our lives, we become increasingly aware that choosing flourishing, choosing to thrive, and choosing to be victors in our lives will very often be regulated by our ability (or lack thereof) to take responsibility for as much as we are responsible for.   We have the power and the responsibility to set-up our lives to thrive and grow in the best soil possible.   This also means that we are responsible for our soil as well.  I choose as much as I can to fill mine with the Holy Spirit, with discipline, with good friends and family, with purpose, with learning, with creativity, and with plenty of play!  This is a flourishing environment for me.  What is a flourishing environment for you in which you can take dominion?  

READ Genesis 2:4-25. Describe the environment, or home, that Eve was in?  In what ways was she set up for success? 

READ Psalm 23.  Describe the flourishing relationship taking place in this passage between David and his Shepherd.  
PART THREE: (support of one another)

The Redwood trees flourished because they were in a complex community of other living things.  Every living thing played their part. We flourish when we help others flourish! 

READ Jeremiah 29:4-7. In which way must God’ children surrender here?   Describe the environment they are creating.  What two things must they seek and what is the benefit? 

READ Matthew 6:1-4. Who is flourishing here?  Why? What will hinder the flourishment? 

In closing, discuss what additional Scriptures came to mind during this study. Share the evidence of flourishing (vigorous growth) and thriving in your life.

Pray for one another.

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May 2023 Bible Study: Processing Grief

Submitted by the Southwest Division

“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. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

We know that God never promised that life would be easy. Never in scripture do we see The Lord and creator of the universe communicating that if we accept and love Him that we would coast on easy street. Our logical brains know that to be true, but so often our emotional brains start to creep into the mindset of prosperity gospel and that if we love Jesus’ life should be exclusively full of blessings and sunshine and prizes.

When I was a teenager the first time I heard God communicate with me through scripture was in reading from the beginning of Romans 5 that I should “rejoice in my suffering because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope”. Context matters, and in this context in my life I was a 15-year-old kid in foster care and my birth mother- the only family I had- had just kicked me out of the house. I’m sitting on the bed of my group home; I turn to this passage of scripture, and this is what I read.

My 15-year-old brain thought that if God was real, he was either a jerk or a joke. If he could see me, know me, love me, and want the best for me- why would He point to this passage? I am thankful that God is so good. That He knows just what we need in the dark night of the soul, even if it’s drastically different than what we might think we need.

The Lord was telling me that my struggle was not just mine, and that I wasn’t the only one with struggle. That God can use our grief, and pain, and suffering for His glory; but for that to happen we have a part to play in addressing the struggle. We can’t ignore it. We must look our grief and pain dead in the eyes and say, “I belong to the Lord. You are real, and you hurt, but you do not define me, and you cannot separate me from my creator”.

We can’t just “pray it away”. We might need to talk to a trusted person or go to a professional counselor. We must be honest about the struggle, move through it, and on the other side we will find healing, a strengthened character, perseverance we didn’t have before, and a hope that God really is who He says he is. That is a promise we can hold tight to. I’m glad that God showed me that truth in my adolescents because it has shaped my whole life. It’s not too late to claim that truth in your life as well.

Questions for reflection:

  1. What are some things in your life that cause grief, pain or sadness?
  2. How does the Lord fit in those tough seasons?
  3. What do we need to do to partner with Jesus in the healing and restoration of those things?
  4. How can we use those situations to be a support to the body of Christ?

Jesus never tells us that we will be without struggle or grief, but He does say that He will be with us in the storm. With Jesus, life will for sure still be hard, but we will never ever be alone again.

April 2023 Bible Study: Living in the Fullness of God

By Lt. Melissa Jones
Seattle, WA Social Services – Northwest Division

On a recent trip to New York City very early in the Spring, I went to one of my favorite gardens in Central Park. However, I was a few weeks too early to see the garden as it began to bloom. Yet as I sat down, I began to notice that the buds on the trees had just a hint of green in them. From a distance they could appear dead and lifeless, but the trees, and plants and flowers were all very much alive. They were simply being prepared to properly bloom. In the same way God uses the various seasons of lives to prepare us for the full lives he intends all of us to live. When God chose us as His children he always intended for us to grow and develop into the fullness of all He has for us and the Church. In Ephesians 3:14-19 we find a beautiful prayer by Paul for the development of the church body. While he sent this prayer to the churches in the city of Ephesus and the southern region of Asia, this is a prayer we can all pray and take note of for ourselves and the global church.

Paul’s Letter to Ephesus
The book of Ephesians is one of Paul’s many letters to the churches he planted and discipled throughout his ministry. While Paul never met Christ, his conversion experience was so powerful that he became a primary apostle, church planter, and disciple of the early church. Most of the books or letters in the New Testament were written by Paul, and he played a major role in the development of the early church at its theology. His letters were often for encouragement, discipline, or to address a specific issue within the church, but Ephesians was very general. Although it was specifically titled to the church of Ephesus, most scholars believe that the letter was intended to be passed around to all of the churches in the region surrounding Ephesus. Ephesus was a major hub of the Roman Empire, similar to a major city like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York, and had a major influence on the surrounding areas. So sending this letter to such an influential place was very strategic. Paul also knew that the people of Ephesus and the surrounding areas would need this letter and this prayer so that they could withstand both the external and internal struggles that they would face. Please take some time now to read through Paul’s prayer for the church so we can begin to discern what it means.

Paul’s Prayer – Ephesians 3:14-19

  1. Read through Ephesians 3:14-19 once. Then read it again taking careful note of words, phrases and ideas that stand out to you.
  2. Write down the parts of the prayer that stand out to you, give you hope, or resonate with you the most.
  3. What does Paul do before he begins this prayer?

There are two major parts to this prayer, but before Paul begins, he does something very significant, he bows his knees before the Father. There are many prayer positions that are mentioned in the Bible. Many Jewish prayers take place standing up, while others are mentioned lying prostate on the ground in full surrender, and David is seen dancing and praying before God. Daniel, who prayed three times a day to the Lord while in Babylonian captivity, also knelt before God each time he lifted up a prayer. In The Salvation Army you may find our members and soldiers kneeling before the Lord at the mercy seat as an act of surrender and repentance, and that is likely what Paul as doing here. Before bringing his petition before God, he knelt in surrender acknowledging his power and majesty. Paul also mentions that the Father is the source from which every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, to reiterate that Salvation is for everyone.

Paul’s Prayer – Ephesians 3:14-19

  1. Read through Ephesians 3:14-19 once. Then read it again taking careful note of words, phrases and ideas that stand out to you.
  2. Write down the parts of the prayer that stand out to you, give you hope, or resonate with you the most.
  3. What does Paul do before he begins this prayer?

a. Paul first prays that – according to the riches of God’s glory that we may be strengthened in our inner being with power through the Holy Spirit. The main thing he asks is for the church/people to be strengthened in power, but how is that accomplished? First, we can see that the power is according to the riches of God’s glory. Think for a moment about how powerful, vast, all knowing, and all containing God is. Imagine everything God has created and spoken life into. This is the same power that God is strengthening us with. Second, we are strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third part of the trinity and has always been present, but until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we could not be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. And now Paul is praying for this power to fill us and strengthen us to do mighty works for the Lord.

i. Have you experienced the power of the Holy Spirit?
ii. Read Acts 1:8 to hear Christ speak of the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit.

b. Secondly Paul asks that Christ may dwell in the hearts of believers as they are rooted and grounded in love.

i. Read John 3:16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Luke 10:27 – what do these scriptures say about love?
ii. Why is it important that Christ Dwell in our hearts? Before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the presence of God only dwelt in a physical temple. During the reign of King Solomon in the Old Testament the temple, or The Tabernacle was built according to instructions from God so that His presence could dwell there. When King Solomon built the temple, the Spirit of God powerfully descended upon the temple, filling it and even overflowing out of it. But God’s presence remained in the physical building accessible to only a select few. God is now offering us this same gift and presence. When Christ died the curtain that separated us from the presence of God in was torn in two, and it became possible for Christ to dwell in all of us. We, both individually and the church body, are now the temples or Tabernacles where God dwells, representing God here on earth. But we must be prepared for Christ to dwell within us, offering Him a Holy and surrendered place.
iii. Do you feel as though you are offering Christ a holy place to dwell in? If not, what changes can you make in your life to help you get there? (Ephesians 4:17-5:5 has some suggestions if needed)
iv. Why do you think it is important for the church to be rooted in love? Do you think Christians show love like we should?

Part 2 – Ephesians 3:18-19

  1. Read Ephesians 3:18-19 – slowly and sit and bask in the depths of God’s love and power.
  2. This is the second part of Paul’s prayer and in it he illuminates the majesty, power, might and glory of God. Why do you think it was important for the church fully comprehend, experience and know the breadth, length, height and depths of God’s love and power?

Earlier it was mentioned that Paul wrote this prayer to help strengthen the church from both internal and external factors that would come against it. Ephesus was a major influential city in the Roman empire, and it was also a center of Pagan worship. Ephesus was deemed the guardian of the temple for the pagan god Artemis, and many of the converts to Christianity used to practice some form of pagan worship. Which meant that they purchased icons and statues, and spent money on other forms of worship. And when they stopped buying those items, the people that profited from their sin became very mad. So mad that an angry mob chased Paul out of the 25,000 seat stadium in the temple for Artemis several years before he wrote this letter. While Paul left, the churches and Christians who had converted had to remain in this hostile environment every day.

In addition to the people in and around Ephesus, Paul knew that the church would also have to live through the persecution of the Roman government. Paul was writing this letter while sitting in a Roman prison for preaching the gospel, and many other Christians had already been tortured, imprisoned, and even killed for preaching the gospel. The Romans saw themselves as gods, and any devotion that came before devotion to Rome was a threat to them and Pax Romana, or Roman peace and control. And the Ephesians and south Asia would not be spared from their violent rule.

Lastly, Paul prayed this prayer so that the church might be unified where there once had been discord. Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles, but many Jewish people had converted to Christianity and were not always welcoming to the Gentiles. Prior to Christ there as a lot of hostility between the Jews and Gentiles and this did not disappear once they were converted. Some Jews thought the gospel was just for them, while others expected Gentiles to continue to uphold strict Jewish rules and principles in order to become Christians. Paul had to remind them that they were one in Christ, brothers and sisters under a new Covenant. They were under one God and one Church, and that the old had to pass away as they became a new family.

And this new family, this new church of believers needed a prayer and a reminder of the all powerful, all knowing, expansive God that they served. They needed to know in their minds and hearts that their God was bigger and more powerful than any human or pagan god could ever be, and that they needn’t worry about these earthly attacks. There was no government authority, ruler or business person that could stand a chance against their God. They needed to live and breathe that truth from the depths of their being so that they could withstand the trials and tribulations they would face. They also needed to deeply know and experience the love of Christ in a way that would make every division amongst them fall away. Because when you act out of the overwhelming love of Christ it changes you. Paul reminds them that the love of Christ is so vast that we will never understand it, but we must try. Especially when it concerns our brothers and sisters in Christ. And Paul reminds us that we can and must pray for these things.

  1. What are some of the issues facing the church today? How can this prayer help them?
  2. Take some time now to contemplate the vastness of God’s power and love. Sit in it, reflect upon it, experience it in a mighty way. Let it overcome and overwhelm you until it cannot be contained. Let this love be your driving force as you grow deeper and deeper in Christ.

Questions for Reflection & Summary

  1. As you read through this prayer again, what one thing stands out to you the most?
  2. After reading this prayer, have you realized areas in your life that need to change? Have you been influenced by the world too much lately? Are you letting outside forces weaken your faith? Are you upset with another brother or sister? How can you take these to God in prayer?
  3. How can you pray specifically for our country and the Church to be more loving and kind, more filled with the power of God, and a true place for Christ to dwell?

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