I've just finished leading a very indepth study called "More of Christ". What an incredibly rewarding study and it taught me so much. It is based on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12 in the Bible. It taught us how to become poor in our spirit - realizing our need for God; learning how to mourn over our sin - realizing our sinful state and all our impurities; and learning how to become meek - being gentle and lowly and not proud. After these 3 characteristics empty themselves from our soul, God gives us a hunger and thirst for His righteousness - yearning for what is right and good and pure. Then when God fills us with His righteousness, we become more merciful and less judging of others, we become pure in heart - knowing and wanting what is pure in God's sight, and we become peacemakers - learning to live at peace with others around us. As we do these things, we will become more like Jesus Christ, who is our leader, our guide, our ultimate example of who we are to become like - who we are to follow. Then we become the salt (which is delicious and tasteful) and light (shining - being a star - brightening) in a dark world. But as we yearn to shine light into the dark places of our world, we will be persecuted for what we believe and for the faith that we have. Let's read Matthew 5:1-12:
The Sermon on the Mount - The Beatitudes
1One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them. 2This is what he taught them:
3 "God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.
4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.
6 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.
7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11"God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. 12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.
These are the Beatitudes - a description of what we should be like as Christ's followers. They don't promise us laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity BUT what they do promise are God's blessings! Being blessed by God means the experience of hope and joy, which are the deepest form of happiness, having the hope and joy of the Lord regardless of our outward circumstances. This teaches us to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. God's promises in His Word don't promise us wealth, power and authority like the world does. When we're focussed on the Kingdom of Heaven, there are different blessings and benefits available and there are different attitudes involved. A Christian's attitudes shouldn't be a carbon copy of this world's selfishness, pride and lust for power but should rather reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, our Heavenly King.
WOW! It's just such good stuff - I can't get enough of learning from God's Holy Book - The Bible. Each time I pick it up, I learn something new. I can't wait for the next study!!
I've been leading Bible Studies with women for over 12 years and each time I have been so rewarded with all that I've learned from the Bible together with these studies. So many women have come through these studies and each one has been such a blessing to me. We learn so much from each other when we study God's Word together and have fellowship like this. It's so much more rewarding than just having a "coffee" together. Don't get me wrong, I love having coffee together too, but when you get together with others to discuss God's Word and pray through daily challenges, what a difference it makes in one's life. It is so encouraging to have those wholesome friendships and that prayer support. If you are not involved in a Bible study group, I really encourage you to become involved in one - you won't be sorry. :-)
God bless you!