March 2023 Bible Study: Faith to Tackle the Storms

By Major Nancy Halverson
Denver Citadel, CO – Intermountain Division

It was 4:31 a.m. on January 17,1994 when the scariest “storm” of my life jolted us awake. It was an earthquake that caused a lot of damage throughout Southern California, and a lot of damage to our sense of security. As we felt the shaking and heard the groaning of the house, for a moment, I was scared we weren’t going to survive. For days we felt the effects of that earthquake with numerous aftershocks, it was a scary time that affected us emotionally and mentally. Luckily, the physical cleanup at the house was not too hard for us, but the emotions and fear left behind was harder to sweep away. We had to turn to our faith in God to walk us through the aftereffects of the “storm”.

Storms, trials, struggles, are a part of life that we all experience. Do you hold onto your faith through them? Do they make your faith stronger for the next storm? Are you walking through a storm right now where you need to put your faith into action?

As a Christian God is deeply invested in your spiritual growth. He uses the storms of life to wean you from dependence on yourself. He’ll intentionally put you in situations where you need to trust Him more fully.
Consider three passages from Matthew as you consider how God is trying to build your faith through the storms of life.

1. Faith that Follows where Jesus leads

As we grow up, the best way we learn is by following the example of someone else. In many cases that is our parents. When we learned how to tie our shoes, or cross the street safely or to cook, we likely didn’t do it on our own, but followed closely as they showed us what to do. In this text the disciples are learning and growing in their faith by following where Jesus leads. They followed Jesus as he led for three years, but in this instance, it was into a storm.

Read Matthew 8:23-27

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 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. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Jesus led the disciples onto the boat. At this point they believed in Him, and they obviously trusted him to lead them, otherwise they would not have followed. It is one thing to believe in something, it’s another to trust and even more to obey. We need all these to follow Christ. We must be willing to trust and obey Christ as Lord of all things in our lives. Our faith is built up when we follow where Jesus leads no matter where that takes us. Sometimes it is into a storm, but our faith tells us that Jesus is there with us in it. In this passage Jesus was asleep on the boat. This is an example that we can live by.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

  • Is there somewhere right now you’re afraid to follow Jesus because it might be into a storm?

2. Faith that Follows when Jesus Tells you to Go

The beginning of our faith journey is like learning to walk as a baby. We depend a lot on our parents to help us, pick us up and keep encouraging us to try again. When we’ve been walking in our faith for a little while we become like teenagers. As a teenager, sometimes we just need to listen to what we are told to do because it’s what’s best for us. Now we look at a time after the disciples have been walking with Jesus for a while and He sends them out without Him.

Read Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus MADE the disciples get into the boat without Him. He knowingly and purposely sent them into the storm, it was no accident. They could have refused but instead they obeyed the word of the Lord. During this storm they did not have the luxury of waking Jesus to help them because he wasn’t there. He let them struggle in the storm for hours in their own strength before he came to them on the water. When he showed up, he did not explain anything, he just offered his presence in the storm. Here he showed them his power over creation and control over chaos not just from within the boat but outside the boat as well.
When they realize that it was Jesus, Peter makes a bold move and asks to meet Jesus in the tumult. Jesus tells him to come but doesn’t calm the storm for Peter. In faith and obedience Peter walks on the water, but then he becomes scared by the wind. He takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. Jesus asks Peter why he doubted, He does not question Peter’s faith, for he stepped out of the boat and obeyed Jesus’ words.

Here, Jesus is stretching and growing Peter’s faith through his obedience. The disciples are slowly learning to trust when Jesus is with them in the boat AND now when they are unaware of his presence in the storm. This story holds the promise that Jesus comes to us during the storm and reminds us we need not be afraid because He is present with us. We need only to trust and obey.

This is the story of every Christian. Our story too, as we move back and forth between doubt and faith, sometimes focused on the storm and sometimes focused on Jesus.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

  • In what situation in your life do you need to put your faith to work and step out in obedience?

3. Faith that is Tested

How do we know when we’ve truly learned something and grown in our knowledge of a subject? In school we had tests to determine whether we were learning and growing in knowledge. Sometimes we did well and sometimes we did not. Do you recall a time when you did not pass a test?

So, too, as we grow in our faith, we will be tested in many circumstances. The disciples faced many kinds of tests of their faith during their time with Jesus. As they’re nearing the end with Jesus, they will face one of the biggest tests of all.

Read Matthew 26:31-35

31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[a]
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” 34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

The disciples had been growing in their faith as they travelled with and served alongside Jesus. Peter’s walk of faith is shown throughout the gospels as he tries, learns, and fails. In this Scripture portion we see his confidence in himself, but he seems to forget that on his own he is weak. We, too, must learn to trust God’s strength for help in every situation. Our faith is consistently tested as we weather the storms of life. We can be confident only when we look to Him for our strength.

God allows testing because He knows we need trials to deepen our roots and our relationship with Him. If things are easy, we are quite content to just drift along. We go to church, pick up our Bible now and again, and hang out with others who call themselves Christians. We consider ourselves strong, mature, and a prize among God’s saints. However, our roots are actually shallow. Unless we are tested, they will remain shallow. If you talk to people who have been through great trials, they will often tell you how much their faith grew during that time. When they were at their weakest, they had to trust most fully. And that is when they found the Lord to be most faithful.

Recently, I experienced a time where my faith was tested. May of 2020 my husband and I were told that we would be moving to a new appointment. It was in the beginning of COVID, in the height of uncertainty and fear. I asked God over and over to change this situation. When moves were announced nothing had changed, so we began preparing to move, yet hoping that God would change the outcome. I had to either accept that God wanted me to walk in obedience and faith on the path that lay ahead of me or step out of that path toward something else. It was a decision we struggled with and though we accepted that path we continued to struggle with the decision. I’ve felt like a caterpillar during these past two years. I’m in the cocoon where I’m supposed to be but struggling with the process before turning into a butterfly. I feel like I’ve been battered a bit by this storm, but God continues to work in my life as we go through it. He has shown His presence in it and I’m thankful because I couldn’t do it without Him.

Peter went through a serious testing as Jesus was taken away. He had been so confident that he would never desert Jesus but when the time came, he gave in to fear and denied the Lord. Peter wasn’t the only one who faltered that night. The other disciples ran away. This test of faith was a hard one, but it brought the disciples to even greater faith that would lead them to do great things for the building of God’s kingdom and the church. Even when we fail, God is there to restore us when we come back to him. As long as we don’t turn our backs completely, if we repent, God will restore us and our faith will grow stronger through the storm.

Song #498 in the Salvation Army songbook talks about different aspects of faith. Verse 4 says:

“The faith that cannot fail,
That makes salvation sure,
Anchored within the heavenly veil,
The faith that will endure.”

  • Can you think of a time when your faith was tested? How did you hold up, did you fail or come through it stronger?

No matter what storms you might be going through, hold fast to your faith that cannot fail. It is a faith that will endure and will be strengthened by the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. With God, your faith can tackle any storm, nothing is impossible with Him.

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February 2023 Bible Study: Flourishing in the Valley

By Lt. Amy Lewis
Caldwell, ID Corps – Cascade Division

In our Christian walk I have heard the path we travel as we navigate life described as having mountain tops and valleys. Mountain tops are when everything is going well – we have that “top of the world” feeling. Our valleys are seen as our low points in life, when things are hard, and we feel separated from God. I can relate to these feelings as I look back over my life, but I am not quite sure that we look at them with the right perspective.

Let’s Pray

When I think of hills and valleys in nature, a couple of things come to mind. In the ocean, the hill tops are warmer safer places nearer to the surface, but valleys are often dark and cold, where the large dangerous creatures live. Contrary to this when I think of mountain tops and valleys when it comes to hiking, they take on a completely different meaning. Mountain tops are usually barren. Trees and vegetation become more and more sparse the higher you go, and you can often find yourself exposed to the elements on a mountaintop. Valleys, on the other hand, are an area where thriving vegetation and wildlife can be found. Streams and rivers flow through the valley, and trees provide shade and protection. Often, abundant growth is found in the valley.

Mountain tops are usually barren.

Scripture is a funny thing. The words never change, but our application of a scripture can change over time. For example, Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my Rock and Redeemer.” Originally, this scripture is what I used to clean up the language I spoke and to help me turn my heart to line up with God’s heart. Now, its meaning has taken on a new depth of aligning my heart with God so the words I say are pleasing to Him.

Early on I was drawn to Romans 5:3-5, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” I could relate to this scripture because of my struggles with alcoholism and addiction, and all that a life such as that entails. I felt that this scripture gave validity to the struggles that I experienced that eventually drew me to the place of complete surrender, and it then pointed me to the hope that comes from that surrender.

  • Take a moment to think about your walk of faith
  • Can you see your high points and low points?
  • Where do you see the most growth as you look back?

In our culture we seem to believe that growth is a straight line traveling in an upward direction on a graph. But if we look at our lives, isn’t it really just more of a trail of twists and turns, ups and downs, steps forwards and backwards, moving in a general direction of growth?

In studying the passage, Romans 5:3-5, it is important to start at the beginning of the chapter with verses 1 – 2, which build the foundation for verses 3-5.

Read Romans 5:1-2

  • What is Paul revealing these verses about the believer’s relationship with God?

The nature of justification comes through faith, and He is assuming that the reader has responded in faith to the good news. This isn’t a call to believe and be saved.

  • What does “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” mean from Romans 5:1?

We are either God’s child or God’s enemy, it is through our Lord Jesus Christ that we are no longer at war with God. We are at peace with God, no longer living in fear of judgement. God is no longer behind the veil; we have access to Him.

  • Do you live your life knowing that you are at peace with God?
  • Do you realize the free access that you have?
  • Do you use it?
  • Are you living your life based on the hope that is the promise of our future in glory?
  • I challenge you to examine your life, where are you at this point? Do you know these things more than just to read them on the page? Do you live it out in your life? Are you living in a way that shows you truly know, accept, and believe these to be true?

Read Romans 5:3-5

The audience Paul was writing this letter to would certainly understand suffering. During this time, as people became believers there was an almost immediate backlash from those around them and Paul understood what it meant to suffer for the faith. In this country today we do not face the same suffering or threats for our faith, but in many parts of the world this is still true.

  • What does this passage challenge us to do?

As God’s children we begin to recognize that the path of our trials, when traveled with perseverance, improves our character. The beauty of this suffering, and where the rejoicing comes in, is that it draws us closer to Christ. There is not any suffering that can separate us from Christ, and in our suffering, we become more like Him. Our suffering helps us to remove that which we don’t need from our lives, to draw closer to Christ.

We do need to be careful when we are going through trials, tribulations or suffering, not to question if God’s love for us is real. None of these negate the power and completeness of His love for us, His children through Christ. God is using these times to strengthen our character and deepen our trust in God, giving us greater confidence of the future with Him. Another caution is not to mope about, bragging about our suffering. We are to draw closer to God, rejoicing in Him and thanking Him for the opportunity to grow each day through the annoyances and frustrations that come our way. God is good, and He is the source of the strength we need to face each struggle.

We are to rely on God to guide us through our times of struggle. We are to accept His love and guidance for us, knowing that He loves us. How we live out our struggles will also be a witness to others of the power that Christ has in our lives. Our ability to respond differently, allowing dead growth to be pruned gives new growth an opportunity to occur. Our challenges, struggles, difficulties, or sufferings and the way in which we manage them, will show others that we belong to Christ. This is the biggest challenge for all Christians. We need to take steps to make sure that our words, actions, and characteristics draw others to Christ, and we don’t become a deterrent or a stumbling block for someone else.

  • Looking back over your life, can you see the valleys?
  • Can you see how God has used them to prune the dead growth from your life?
  • What are ways that you can live this out in your life?
  • What is a way you can commit to living this out in your life this week?

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January 2023 Bible Study: Flourishing in the Stillness

By Captain Jan Pemberton
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Cascade Division

When we have periods of stillness in our lives, we can get complacent. This is when we need the Lord the most. This Bible Study will discuss how to remain connected to our Savior in times of stillness and peacefulness. We all know it is easier to stay connected with the Lord when times are tough, but in peaceful times, we can sometimes become lazy and disconnected.

This is a four-week Bible Study on Being Still. It is designed to be done in a small group. Group studies are essential to our church mission, to grow saints, and have a better understanding of the Bible.

Why Small group Bible Studies? Why is it important to be in a group setting?

How to Have Discussions on Flourishing During the Stillness of Life

Discussion Guidelines:

Have easy questions that everyone in the group can answer. We will dig deeper throughout the study, but this is a good starting point. Have fun with it, and laughter is encouraged.

Read the passages of scripture together. Have the group discuss the passage read and give feedback. Encourage several members of the group to share.

Relate the passage of scripture to what is happening in the world today. Unpack it to see how it affects those worldwide and our communities. What do others, both believers and non-believers, think or believe?

What is going on in your world and the world around you? How can the group apply the scripture to their current lives? Be honest and be real. Give examples if our group feels comfortable enough.

Prayer is the best way to end a conversation during our study together. Also, give praise reports as well.

Small-Group Guidelines:

How to stay connected to God during the still periods of our lives. Connect, grow closer to the Lord, and learn more about the Bible. These are essential to grow spiritually and transform lives.

Regularly attend meetings to increase trust within the group.

Safe Environment to share:
It provides a safe place to share deep feelings and ask questions a person may not feel they can invite others. It provides a safe space to avoid judgment.

Like providing a safe space, no judgments, do not share the struggles or worries with others outside the group.

Spiritual Health:
We are encouraging one another to live a God-honoring life.

Participation and Encouragement:
Find the value for everyone’s unique contribution. Help one another by encouraging everyone to find a way to participate.

Build Relationships:
Find ways to pray, serve the Lord, and enjoy each other’s company.

Week 1: Keeping our Souls Recharged

We do not do well when we run on empty. This week is about keeping the flame of our faith going in the quiet periods of our life.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation; I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalm 46:10 NLT

  1. Take a turn to answer: What are the top 3 things we need to keep our momentum going?
  2. Read aloud Exodus 14:14, Psalm 37:7, and Isaiah 32:17. What theme is present in all of these verses?
  3. What do people in the world do in their peaceful times or stillness? Is this any different than what we as Christians do? If so, why?
  4. What one thing could we change in our life this week to help us keep our souls at peace? Please explain.
  5. How do you flourish in the still times of your life?
  6. How do we pray for each person this week?

Week 2: Relying on Others to Help Sustain our Flourishing Life in this Still Period.

How can we help others in our Corps stay grounded and dedicated to relying on God?

Let all I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. Psalm 62:5

  1. Share about a time when you were going through a peaceful period of your life, and someone came alongside you to offer guidance?
  2. Read aloud 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Psalm 5:3; Psalm 62:1; Psalm 62:5; Zephaniah 3:17. Why is being still and hearing the Lord’s voice so important?
  3. 1 Samuel 12:7 Now, stand still that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous deeds of the LORD that he performed for you and your fathers. How can we help others flourish in their lives? How can we flourish while being still?
  4. How do friendships help our Corps flourish?
  5. Is there anyone you would like to reach out to and thank for their support and encouragement?
  6. Does anyone have any answered prayers since our last meeting? How do we pray for each person this week?

Week 3: Retaining Balance When Faced With Adversity. How to Remain Still.

We need to help the people in our Corps focus on the things that matter most. Those who are stressed and overwhelmed may feel that all is lost, and their peacefulness could be jeopardized.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

  1. If we had extra time this week, what would we do with it?
  2. Read aloud Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; and John 16:33. What is the way you kept your peacefulness this past week?
  3. Why is it important for Christians to obey the 3rd Commandment?
  4. Out of all the things we have on our plates daily—work, family, health, friends, and spirit— which one is the most likely to intrude on our peace? Why?
  5. Which one is most likely to be dropped by us if we are in turmoil and not at peace?
  6. Have you ever reached your limit of any of the following: physical, emotional, mental, space, or time? Why is it essential to examine the priorities in your life?
  7. How can practice one of the tools of your faith– prayer, journaling, worship, reading and studying the Bible, participating in a Bible study discussion group—help us with the limits and juggling?
  8. What are 1 or 2 things you can do this week to maintain the stillness or peacefulness in your life?
  9. How do we pray for each person this week?

Week 4: Holding on to our Peacefulness

When discouragement enters, we may feel our peace is lost. This session is designed to help everyone in your Corps let go of the things causing the loss of peace.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on God’s full armor so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10-11

  1. What things, when they enter our lives, cause us to lose focus on peaceful living?
  2. Read Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 11:28; and 1 Peter 5:7. How do these verses tie together? Which one speaks the most to you?
  3. Reviewing this four-week study. What was each individual’s favorite week, and why? Can it be put into practice?
  4. What prayer does each of us want to be lifted by the group for our future?

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December 2022 Bible Study: Flourishing in the Busy Season

By Captain Angela Morrow
Vancouver, WA Corps – Northwest Division

Take a moment to stop all your activity for a few minutes. Pause and imagine you are sitting beneath a cool and refreshing flow of water on a hot day. During the Christmas winter months, when we are cold, busy and tired, let us imagine the relaxation of basking in the cool-refreshing springs and drinking fresh-cold-water to quench our thirst.

Let’s come to Christ and allow the Spirit to breathe life through the scripture.

Read John 7:37-44

Engage the Scripture:
As you read the passage, reflect on the words and phrases within the text.

Engage the background:
The feast that is being referenced in this passage refers to the Feast of Tabernacles. During this feast, there was a ceremony. A priest would draw water from the Pool Siloam and lead a processional to the Temple. The priests would pour out the waters at the altar. The symbolic significance behind this ceremony was twofold:

  • To remind God’s people of their wilderness wanderings and how God quenched their thirst and sustained them with life.
  • It was significant to remember that the scriptures would be fulfilled. There is the promise that living water would flow from the Temple as promised in Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 47 (Walton, John. Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, 2016, pg 1825).

In this passage, Christ is conveying that He is the source of the living water. All refreshment comes from Him, and as we drink from the well of Christ, out of God’s people will flow rivers of living water. Living water doesn’t remain stagnant, it is constantly receiving so that it can continue to pour out. Living water cleanses and quenches our deepest thirst. The water saturates the driest ground and satisfies our deepest longing.

The text conveys that the Spirit will be poured out and will become the source of the living water from Christ. It is the Temple of God’s people in Christ, (Walton 1825), and from Christ flows life, refreshment, and healing.

Ponder the Text:

As God’s people, we are in a continual state of dependency on the Spirit of the Living God. The symbolic imagery of water reminds us of God’s Spirit. The Spirit of God flows through those who have come to Christ as the source and is water to the thirsty. It brings refreshment to the weary and healing for those in need of the hope.

In verses 40—43, we read that those who witnessed this were confused. Many are seeking to understand Christ. Many are searching for hope and refreshment. Some ponder Christ and wonder who Christ is and what is His purpose. This text reminds us that Christ, not only saves us but brings refreshment and life. What a blessing that we can thrive in this and flourish as we bring life to others.

Applying the Text:

  1. Remain in a state of dependency
    As God’s people wandered the wilderness in need of refreshing streams of water, they were thirsty. During the busy season of Christmas, the source of our service is to be channels from whom flows rivers of refreshment, rivers of healing and rivers of hope. The only way to thrive in the busy season is to stay connected to the source of our healing and refreshment. We remain in a place of receiving so that we can give.
  2. Givers of Life
    God’s people are called to pour out streams of living water to the world. As we remember our calling. We are called to be a place of refreshment for others.
  3. Fruit of Transformation.
    Finally remember, where the Spirit is, through Christ, there is life. Where there is life, there is fruit and change. Do not grow weary. Remember that as you thrive and allow the Spirit to work through you, there will be transformation. There will be fruit and there will be seeds that will produce fruit.

    Remember this: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season, we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Summary: If we are to thrive this season, let’s remember our source and the “why” as we do what we do. We serve during this season to be the receivers and givers of the refreshing waters to a world in need of hope.

We will thrive as we remain in the source.

You who are thirsty, come! Come and receive from Christ, for you need Christ to fulfill your calling to bring refreshing springs of living waters to other, so that there might be life.

Closing Prayer: Christ, our Lord, I pray that all who are reading this today might find refreshment from you during this season. I pray you might bring life this Christmas season so that we can rest in the knowledge of fruit and change from the waters of your Spirit. Amen.

Spirit of the Living God
Fall afresh on me
Spirit of the living God
Fall afresh on me
Break me; melt me; mold me; Fill me.
Spirit of the Living God
Fall afresh on me

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November 2022 Bible Study: Flourishing with Contentment Right Now

By Lt. Jen Liggett
Administrator of San Francisco & Oakland, CA Adult Rehabilitation Centers

Every single one of us goes through seasons…seasons where everything seems to flow and radiate goodness, and seasons where we feel like we can’t catch a break. Seasons that feel like sweater weather and seasons where we can feel the warmth of God’s love on our face like the summer sun. As God’s beloved daughters, we will experience them all. In order to develop the strength of character that God desires to produce in us, we must learn to be content and flourish through them all. Paul gives us an example of contentment in all circumstances in Philippians 4:11-13 when he proclaims:

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

Paul is actually penning these words to the Philippians while he is in prison. He is in the middle of a season that has left him broken, beaten and weary, wondering if each day is going to be his last. So, what is Paul’s secret? It’s actually no secret at all. He reveals his source of contentment, when he writes, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). Paul flourishes in this dark, damp season because of his faith and hope in Christ.

  1. Have you been a season, or are you in one now, that has you feeling broken and weary? Are you able to find contentment and flourish in this season? How has your faith in Christ carried you through?

There are times in our lives when we are in the middle of the fire and the only thing to do is remember that everything has to pass through the hand of God. In other words, we can flourish and find contentment in all circumstances, because we know that God only allows things to happen to us that He can use for His glory and our good. In James 1:12 we are assured that:

“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.” (NIV)

When we press in and press on through our most difficult seasons, our heart and spirit are being refined and prepared for our eternal destination. The knowledge that we are citizens of Heaven enables us to flourish during seasons of trial.

  1. Are you in a season of trial and testing of your faith? Do you find strength in the promises of God? How does the knowledge that God wants to refine you help you to find contentment during these times? Are you able to flourish under fire?

There will also be seasons when we feel like we are walking on sunshine. Almost as if we can hear the roar of the ocean waves and feel the warm sand slipping through our toes. These are the times when we might have less difficulty flourishing and finding contentment. The psalmist expresses the beauty of flourishing when he proclaims in Psalm 1:1-3:

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (NLT)

These are the times when all of God’s promises seem to be materializing and coming to fruition right before our eyes. It is imperative to remember that all good things come directly from God, and we are flourishing as a result of His good pleasure. Our contentment should begin and end with deepening our relationship and creating a space of intimacy with our God and King.

  1. Are you in a season of beauty and harvest right now? What kind of fruit is being produced in your life? How are you cultivating that intimacy with God?

In all seasons we can flourish and find contentment when we put our hope in the One who created us. He has seen fit to call us His daughters. He stands at the beginning and the end of the road. There is nothing that we will experience that is a surprise to Him. When we put all of our faith and trust in Him, we can flourish in any kind of weather. Psalm 92:12-15 reminds and reassures us that:

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.” (NIV)

We can flourish in the season we are in when we trust in “the Rock”. As we close this Bible Study time together, let’s say a prayer to remind ourselves to focus on God’s goodness during every season.

Father, help us to remember that your love is unconditional during every season of our lives. That no matter what our circumstances are You are with us, You are for us, and You will never leave us or forsake us. Please help us to flourish and find contentment in every season, as we trust in You and Your plan and purpose for our lives. May we remember that rough times produce strength of character and smooth times remind us of Your goodness. Father, may we always remember that there is nothing that can separate us from Your love and that You only allow us to experience things that You can use for our good and Your glory. We claim contentment and victory through every season in our lives in the might matchless name, the name above all names, the name of Jesus. Amen.

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October 2022 Bible Study: What Are You Wearing?

By Captain Jessica Stevens
Family Care Director – College For Officer Training

Small talk about wardrobe, what to wear, etc.

  • How many of us have been going out with a group of friends, and called or texted first to see what everyone was wearing? What’s the wardrobe going to be for the evening?
  • Casual? Business casual or California casual?
  • If I’m going to a conference, I want to know about the dress code: Fatigue uniform? Civvies? Full tunic required?
  • Salvation Army corps retreat: Are we making corps T-shirts? Do we need hiking boots?
  • Fancy date with your spouse? Are they wearing a dress jacket? Is it a maxi dress and sandals kind of thing, or a heels and little black dress kind of thing?
  • What’s your favorite type of clothes to wear? What makes you feel most comfortable and most at home? Are you a jeans and screen printed t-shirt kind of girl, or a bit more formal?
  • What kind of clothing makes you most uncomfortable? Where do you feel ill at ease?

In our Scripture today, Paul talks to the Colossians about qualities that need to be “taken off,” and then gives them a new wardrobe, one that needs to consciously be “put on.”

Read Colossians 3:12-17 out loud together.

Questions for reflection and discussion:

  • What is one quality of your personality you wish you could change? Why?
  • Which of these qualities listed in verses 12 and 13 are areas of growth for you?
  • Which feel more natural?
  • Has there been a time in your life when you needed to be treated with “tenderhearted mercy” and instead you were met with rigidity or judgment? If you feel comfortable, describe the situation to the group. How could the outcome have changed if mercy reigned?
  • Think through the last week, when could you have worn different clothing? (When could you have been kinder, gentler, or more patient).
  • What personality types are hardest for you to deal with? What can you learn about these personalities? How can you ask the Spirit to reign in the interactions you have with these people?

Wrap Up:
One thing we hear in The Salvation Army, as officers, is the phrase “tunic is always appropriate;” meaning that, if you don’t know what form of uniform to wear, or even what to wear, you can’t go wrong wearing a tunic. In Southern California or Seattle, some might say Birkenstocks are always appropriate. 12 We might go back and forth when choosing an outfit for a date or a afternoon out with friends; but we have no need to do so when it comes to putting on the qualities of Christ. Our lives in Jesus must include the qualities we read about today. These verses tell us that love binds all the others together, in essence, love is the perfect accessory. As 1 Corinthians reminds us: our accomplishments or actions are without depth or significance if we are unloving. Love is always appropriate, regardless of the weather, or what others are wearing. We can wear the love of Jesus in every situation.

Closing Options:

  • Have each woman choose an attribute from verses 12-14, and pray specifically for more of it in their lives. “Jesus, I need your tenderhearted mercy in my life. Help me see others the way you see them.”
  • Anagrams: Provide notecards and make anagrams out of the attributes. Use sticky notes to stick on the attributes onto one another. For instance, if you see gentleness in someone, you put a sticky note on them that says “Gentle” or with a note of affirmation included.

Scriptures for Further Study:

  • Galatians 5:22-26
  • Ephesians 4:17-24

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September 2022 Bible Study: Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Sunday School

By Major Cathi Boyd
Las Vegas, NV Adult Rehabilitation Center

“Share your crayons,” “Don’t take cuts in line,” “If you make a mess, clean it up.”
These are the simple rules we learned in Kindergarten, and according to Robert Fulgrum in his book, Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, these rules that served us well as youngsters will serve us just as well as adults. The secret of the book’s back to basics appeal is in a return to a kinder, gentler time when right was right and wrong was wrong; and even if you disagreed with your neighbor, cookies and milk would make everything better.

What rules do you remember from your kindergarten days? Do you agree or disagree that living by these kinds of principles would make life better today? Why or why not?

Life today can be very confusing. What once was right is now called wrong and vice versa. I recently saw a cartoon where a man complained to his neighbor, “The trouble with kids today is that they don’t play by the rules.” The neighbor replied, “How can they when we grownups keep changing the rules!”

As Christians living in a complicated world, we look to God’s Word for rules to live by. The book of Micah shares some of these back-to-basics principles. Micah was a prophet living in the country of Judah, a country that appeared strong economically, but had fallen to the depths of spiritual depravity. The rich grew richer and lived the lush lifestyle seemingly unaware or uncaring of the impoverished people living around them. People went to the Temple to be seen worshipping God, but practiced all sorts of idolatry and lived their lives doing whatever pleased them. A nation that once proudly called itself the people of God had in fact turned its back on the One who has founded it.

Do you see any parallels between Judah at the time, and America today? What sorts of things do people idolize (put in the place of God) today? What things in your life might be called an idol?

When bad things happened to the people of Judah they began crying out about injustice. They asked questions like: “How could a loving God allows children to die of hunger?” “Where is God when brother is killing brother in the streets?” “Why did God allow my wife to suffer with cancer?” “I’m a good person, I’ve worked hard all my life, why won’t God cut me a break?” Questions that people are still asking today. “What does God want from me?” The prophet Micah had an answer for the people then and for us today. He shared three principles that are so simple that even the kindergarten Sunday School class could understand them:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humble with your God.” Micah 6:8

Micah tells us plainly that God requires three things of us: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Let’s look at each of these three.

To Act Justly. To do the right thing regardless of circumstances or situations. To do the right thing when no one is looking. (Actually, that’s not true, because God is always looking. I almost stole a candy bar when I was a little kid, but our Sunday School memory verse came to mind: “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 33:18) I didn’t understand that to fear God meant to revere Him, but I sure was afraid of Him seeing me take the candy and telling my mom. She was the one whose wrath I feared!).

To act justly is putting into practice the Golden Rule all the time, towards everyone, even when it doesn’t seem fair. It’s seeking to be pure in thought as well as deed; pure of motive as well as action. No white lies, no sneaking things from the office, no saying one thing to a person and stabbing them in the back to the another. It means speaking truthfully, keeping our word, and standing up for what is right even when it is unpopular. It’s treating all people with dignity due them as fellow creations made in the image of God. Acting justly is what sent Jesus to the cross.

Can you think of a time when Scripture helped you make the right choice?
Justice is a hot topic. Here are some other verses from God’s Word that talks about justice. Which one speaks to your heart today? Why? Isaiah 1:17, Amos 5:24, Romans 12:19, Isaiah 30:18, Jeremiah 23:5.

To Love Mercy. The story is told of a mother who sought from Napoleon the pardon of her son. Napoleon said it was the man’s second offense and justice demanded his death. “I don’t ask for justice,” said the mother, “I please for mercy.” “But” the emperor said, “he does not deserve mercy.” “Sir,” cried the mother, “It would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask.” “Well then,” Napoleon replied, “I will show mercy.”

What a clever mother. Mercy is not something any one of us deserves. God, however, is full of mercy towards us. Another translation of the word mercy is loving kindness and the Bible speaks often of God’s loving kindness towards us. (see Psalm 63:3, Psalm 117:2, Isaiah 54:8, Nehemiah 9:17). Eternal salvation is ours only through the mercy of God and this underserved, unearned gift is given freely to all who ask (see Titus 3:3-5).

We in turn are to show mercy, loving kindness to others from the overflow of gratitude we have for what God has done for us. We love because He first loved us. Yet this idea of mercy is more than feeling. Loving kindness is a verb, an action word.

Read Mark 12:29-31. How do the word of Jesus fulfill the words of Micah? How can we live these words – how do we love mercy with our actions? What can you do this week?

Loving justly and loving mercy go hand in hand. Without mercy, justice becomes intolerant, harsh or self-righteous. Without justice, even handedness, and the ever-present sense of who we would be if God had not forgiven us, mercy becomes self-serving smug do-gooding. But neither of these has nay lasting meaning with the third thing God requires.

To Walk Humbly with Our God. Walking with God is the driving force behind all we do. To walk humbly literally means walking with attentiveness, thoughtfulness, and watchfulness. We need to follow closely in our Father’s footsteps. It is, like Jesus said, loving the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It is also growing to know God so that you can know how He wants you to live each day.

My husband is 11 inches taller than me. After 41 years of walking together we have learned to compromise. He shortens his stride and I walk a little faster. When we hike, he takes the lead to warn me of hidden roots or slippery places, and he stops and lends a hand when I need it. When we went cross country skiing, he broke the trail through the snow because I was the weaker skier. Can you see the connection to walking with God? Sometimes He will seem to be ahead of us, showing the way, breaking the trail, and warning us of dangers in the road. We can listen and avoid trouble, or we can be stubborn and face the consequences. He will always be there to pick us up if we fall. As we grow to know Him, we begin to match strides with Him. We begin to know instinctively the way He would have us go. And as the popular poem Footprints suggests, when we look behind us and see only one set of footprints it will be because God was carrying us during a difficult time. We know we are never alone when we are walking humbly with God.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21

Have you ever sensed God was telling you what you should do, or which way you should turn in a particular situation? Did you pay attention, or did you go your own way? What happened? Was there any lasting change from this experience?

So, everything I needed to know I learned in Sunday School. What does God require of us? To act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. And yes, milk and cookies are still a good way to smooth things over with someone with whom you’ve had a disagreement.

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August 2022 Bible Study: To Be Seen By God

By Jacqui Larsson, Territorial Social Justice Ministries Director
Territorial Social Justice Department

Hagar might not be someone who stands out to you from scriptures, but her story has always stuck with me. She was a slave who was held in a situation she hadn’t asked for or wanted with no other options or choices available to her, and after being forced to become a surrogate for Abraham and Sarah, Hagar finally got to the point that she was so tired of being treated badly by her mistress, Sarah, that she fled. She soon found herself alone and desperate, without food or shelter… and pregnant! It would be an understatement to say that she felt scared, alone, and unloved – wondering, in her despair, if anyone cared about her or her unborn baby.

You can read Hagar’s story in Genesis 16:1-13.

Maybe we can relate to Hagar in our own lives, and we can certainly relate her story to trafficking victims who are forced into situations against their will every day! But we’ve all experienced feelings of fear, loneliness, and feeling unloved – maybe you have been abandoned by people you love, betrayed by a friend, been laid off or furloughed from a job, neglected or abused as a child, or just overlooked for the hard work you have completed or the time you have put into a project. Maybe you’ve wondered the same as Hagar when she found herself alone at a desert well: “Does anyone actually see me? Does anyone really understand what I’m going through?” Perhaps you’ve even wondered if God sees you.

But praise God! Just as Hagar cried out to God, we can cry out today too and know that, as with Hagar: God sees us!

God Sees You
Have you ever wondered whether, out of approximately 7.7 billion people in this world, does God really know that you exist? Could he single you out as an individual, or are we all just seen as a mass of humanity? Scripture tells us that God knows the number of hairs on our head (Matt 10:30), and if he cares for the sparrows, how much more will he care for us? (Luke 12:7). We were formed in our Mother’s womb and each of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made – all of His “works [that’s you & me!] are wonderful” (Psalm 139:13-14).

He loves you so much, that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to die a horrific death for you and your sins, so that you could be forgiven and reconciled back to God, because He wants a relationship with you (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). You are his “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10), and he can use your past, your present and your future to do his work here on earth. He knows your strengths and weaknesses…he knows your name!

God Knows Your Name
Did you notice that in this short passage every time Sarah or Abraham mentioned Hagar in their conversations, she was simply referred to as “my slave” or “your slave” (Genesis 16:2, 5, 6)? She was seen as an object, a means to an end, with no value other than what she could “do” for them. I’m sure we can all think of times when we have only been appreciated for what we have done rather than who we are, and just like those being trafficked are simply used as commodities and objects to be bought and sold, Hagar knew that she had no value in their eyes other than someone to be used for their Masters’ selfish gain: to provide an heir. Can you imagine how demoralizing that must have been for Hagar?

But God did not see her as a commodity or a means to get things done in his grand plan, when God found Hagar at the well, the first word out of His mouth was, “Hagar” (Genesis 16:8). When no one else cared enough to show Hagar any decency, God saw her, made himself known, and called her by name.
People being held in trafficking situations are often “branded” with tattoos to demonstrate to the world that they are owned, that they are an object that belongs to someone else. I recently read of a twelve-year-old girl who had been tattooed with the name of her trafficker… on her eyelids! This meant that every time she looked in the mirror or was with someone else, they would know she was a “claimed possession”. But scripture tells us that, not only is our name known to God, our name is engraved into the palm of his hand (Isaiah 49:16). Being engraved carries a deeper implication than being written with ink or even a sharpie – our names are there forever and will never fade or be washed away as if God is “washing his hands of us” but will remain permanently in his hand!

In trafficking situations, the victim/survivor will often be given a new name or come up with a “street name” in order to create an alternate persona, mentally escape and remove themselves from their tragic reality, but God does not call us by this name, or the names others give us based on how they perceive us – God calls us by our own name and we are his beloved child. If you are in Christ—if you’ve believed in his name, having accepted the free gift of grace through faith – then your name is immortalized forever, because it is written in The Book of Life.

Later in the story, Hagar is so thankful to know that she is seen in this circumstance that she gives God a name: El Roi, the God Who Sees (Genesis 16:13).

God Sees Your Situation
God, or El Roi, does not turn his face away from your painful situation and although sometimes we behave in ways that we wish God would not see – he sees our hurts, our disappointments and knows exactly what is happening to you every second of the day – good and bad. We have all taken turns in our life that we are not proud of, and just like us, it is very common for survivors of trafficking to struggle with the concept of forgiveness and grace – they will often blame themselves for their experiences and question how can God see the situations I have been in and still really love me? They have often been let down by life’s circumstances, hurt by others who should have loved them, and abused by those who claim to rescue them – so the concept of the Creator of the Universe actually caring about them is almost impossible to grasp, but God knows, sees and still unconditionally loves.

“When Hagar is removed physically from those who control every aspect of her life, a personal identity and relationship materializes. As a socially marginalized woman, her most intimate relationship, it turns out, is with God.”

God Sees Your Need
I love the fact that God, or El Roi appeared to Hagar in her time of need. He saw her struggling and at that time reassured her that things would be alright! Hagar was seen, loved, and not forgotten. She was comforted and reassured that her unborn son (Ishmael meaning “God hears”, whom God named personally) would be cared for. God did not only see Hagar and appear to her, he comforted her and guided her in her next steps. God didn’t show up, wave a magic wand and fix the situation, he took the time to be present and reassure her in her time of despair. It is during your greatest times of need that El Roi pours out His grace and mercy upon you (Hebrews 4:14-16).

God sees you! He sees exactly what you’re going through, because, to quote Hagar, “You are [El Roi] a God of seeing. Truly, here I have seen Him who looks after me” (Genesis 16:13).

Jesus was the perfect example of how we should go out into the world to see those around us who are hurting. May we be God’s hands and feet in our communities as we intentionally look out for those who are in need – some of those needs may be in plain sight, but I pray that God will open our eyes to see the needs of those who are hidden in the darkness, for those who are sold in the night, for those who toil for endless hours, days, years because they have no escape.

Lord, we thank you that you see us today and everyday – that you not only see us, but you are present, you shower your love over us, comfort us and show us your plan for our lives. Open our eyes Lord so that we may see the vulnerable people around us who may be at risk from dangers, such as trafficking, and help us to shine your light into the darkness where men, women and children are being forced into slavery and sold within our own communities. Help us to see the signs and share your love!

Note: Check out this month’s devotional, Eyes Wide Open, and this month’s craft, Lights Shining in the Darkness, that coordinates with this devotional. Also check out the resource Red Flags and Responses.

July 2022 Bible Study: Shine Like a Star

By Major Beth Desplancke
Territorial Women’s Ministries Program Secretary

A Bible Study on the Book of Esther

Summer is here and the sun is shining. What about the sunshine do you enjoy (or perhaps don’t enjoy)?
Jesus is the light of the world, and He tasks His followers, believers, to shine His light to others (Matthew 5:14-16). What does it mean to shine?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines shine as: 1. To emit rays of light; 2. To be bright by reflection of light; 3. To be eminent, conspicuous, or distinguished; to perform extremely well; 4. To have a bright glowing appearance; 5. To be conspicuously evident or clear.

When Jesus calls us to shine it is because He wants us to be world changers. A beautiful example of someone who shone brightly and changed the world is Esther.

We probably know the story of Esther, but basically, King Xerxes banished his wife, Vashti, and he needed a new queen (Esther chapter 1). A beauty pageant was held to find the next queen.

Read Esther 2:2-4.
After 12 months of beauty treatments, Esther was able to go before the king and ultimately, she was chosen to be the queen of Persia. Yes, she was beautiful on the outside, but that is not what made her shine.

Haddasseh was her Jewish name; Esther is her Persian name. Esther’s name means “star,” and she shines brightly in dark circumstances; God used her dramatically to save the Jews. Let’s look at four “star” qualities that Esther had, that we too should have in our Christians lives, as we shine brightly for the Lord.

Her Faith.

Read Esther 2:5-7.
⦁ What do we learn about Esther and Mordecai in these verses?

In these verses we see the first ray of light in a pagan, godless land. In chapter 1 we see scenes of wealth, pride, drunkenness and gluttony, betrayal, rage and conniving politicians. Then suddenly we meet the cousins Esther and Mordecai. They are Jews; they are God’s chosen people. We too, live in a dark, sin-filled, world, and today our world, our communities need the light of Christ.

⦁ What does Ephesians 5:8 challenges us to do?

Esther demonstrated faith in her God, no matter what she experienced. She was taken from her home, to live in the palace. Despite not being surrounded by other believers, and being surrounded by the life of the palace, nowhere do we see Esther compromise in her lifestyle. We don’t see her acting like the others

Read Esther 2:8-10, 15, 17.

⦁ What did Esther not do?

⦁ Two times in these verses what does it say about how people responded to Esther (v. 9, 17)?

She won their favor; it wasn’t because of who she was, it was who she had shining in her and through her – the Lord. She is remaining distinct, and without revealing her Jewish identity, people see something different in her. She never panics when taken from her home, or when difficulty arises. She trusts in God and that is all she needs. Her faith in the Lord carries her through, and it is her faith in the Lord that helps with her next star quality.

Her Courage.

⦁ How would you define courage?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Bethany Hamilton, the professional surfer who lost an arm to a shark attack said, “Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”
Esther was such a woman. In chapter 3 we discover an evil plot – Haman wants to destroy all the Jews. In chapter 4 we see that Mordecai hears of this plot and is mourning. Esther hears of Mordecai’s distress, and she too becomes upset, and wants to know why Mordecai is so distraught.

Read Esther 4:5-16.

⦁ What does Esther learn from Mordecai?

⦁ Why was Esther hesitant to act at first?

⦁ What was Mordecai’s wise words to Esther?

⦁ How did Esther act courageously?

This is a dark world, and bad things will happen, but we don’t need to be afraid. We have the Lord who journeys with us, and He has already defeated our enemy.

⦁ What does 1 John 4:4 tell us?

⦁ What does Peter tell us in 1 Peter 3:14-16 about facing difficulties?

⦁ What words of comfort does Jesus offer us in Matthew 10:26-31?

I have read that there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible – one for each day of the year. We need not fear anything or anyone, if we have God on our side. And the best way to shine the light of Christ, is not to be fearful when the world around us seems like it is spinning out of control. In her faith, Esther trusted God and knew that God was in control. Because of her faith, she had courage to act. Part of our shining as lights is having the wisdom to know when to act.

Her Wisdom.

Esther demonstrates wisdom over and over again, by listening to Mordecai’s advice and guidance

⦁ What does the book of Proverbs tell us about listening to wise advice? Read Proverbs 12:15 and 13:20.

Esther’s wisdom comes through prayer. Esther didn’t panic in face of danger, and she didn’t rush ahead without thinking. She showed wisdom by waiting to act.

Read Esther 5:1-4.

⦁ How long did Esther wait to act?

⦁ What had she been doing according to chapter 4 before she approached the king?

Prayer should always be our first response; not worrying. We can shine the spotlight on the Lord if we are people of prayer rather than people of panic.

⦁ What does Philippians 4:6 tell us to not do and to do?

So, this wise woman invites the King and Haman to a banquet, and then the king asks her what she wants.

⦁ How does Esther respond to the king’s question (Esther 5:7-8)?

In chapter 7 we see Esther holding the second banquet, and this time she acts and speaks up and tells the king what Haman is plotting.

Read Esther 7:1-8.

⦁ This time when the King asks what Esther wants, how does Esther respond?

The king issues a second decree in Esther 8, allowing the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves. Through Esther’s wisdom, the Jews were spared, and God’s light was shone to a dark world.

Her Speech.

Nowhere in 10 chapters of Esther’s story will you find anger or agitation, violence or panic, rashness or reaction. Esther knew that out-of-control emotions wouldn’t help her avert disaster. She chose gentle, persistent, persuasive and sweet speech.

⦁ What does Proverbs 13:3 say about our words?

Notice what words are not recorded about Esther; not once is she recorded as moaning and groaning or complaining about her situation.

⦁ What does Paul advise us to do as believers in Philippians 2:14-15?

God needs bright lights shining for Him in this dark world. Things aren’t any brighter than in Esther’s days. And God calls all of us to shine, to be a star – not a star that says “Look how great I am,” but a star that points others to God.

Jill Briscoe writes, “Have you ever looked at your particular situation and realized that God wants to use you on the stage of history in a way similar to the way He used Esther? People are dying in the darkness, and He wants to hang us up like stars at night to bring attention to the Light of the world – Jesus! What a sense of worth it brings us, to realize that like Esther we are center stage in God’s thinking… for just “such a time as this!’”

Questions to Ponder
⦁ How can you shine your faith this week so others will see God?
⦁ What courageous task is God calling you to this week, where you can shine Him?
⦁ How will you shine God through wise decisions this week?
⦁ How will you shine God and His love through the words you speak or the words you choose not to speak this week?

In closing pray this prayer of joyful surrender by Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with
may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus. Amen.

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More Than Conquerors – IHQ Bible Studies

More than Conquerors is a collection of 23 Bible studies developed by women from different parts of our Salvation Army world. Unlike previous collections, Let Justice Roll and Time to be Holy, the 2022 studies are written exclusively by women under 40-years-old, providing an intentional platform for younger voices.

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

Being ‘more than conquerors’ is not about pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and trying harder, neither is it about coming up with the right plan to make something happen. It is not about us at all! Paul declares in Romans 8:37 that we are ‘more than conquerors through him who loved us’. Being ‘more than conquerors’ is recognizing Jesus is with us even in the grit of the battle and that it is only with his help that we pull through and keep pressing on. Jesus is true to his promises as he lifts our heads and helps us see beyond the giants, the obstacles and the trials that loom before us.

Go to For the Bible Studies in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swedish. Tamil and Swahili.

Also check out previous IHQ Bible studies: Let Justice Roll (2021) and Take Time to Be Holy (2020)