THE FINGERPRINTS OF GOD (Bible Study That Transforms)

CHUCK SWINDOLL SAID:

THOUGH GOD IS NOT MENTIONED IN THE BOOK OF ESTHER

HIS FINGERPRINTS ARE EVERYWHERE

YES.

THE BIBLE IS NOT ABOUT US, BUT ABOUT GOD.

AND WE MUST BE ALERT TO SEE HIS FINGERPRINTS EVERYWHERE.

IN SCRIPTURE

AS IN OUR WORLD.

In giving me four grand-daughters from four daughters in one summer

in the intricacy of everything He creates

 

In being fearfully and wonderfully made

In every snowflake (Actual snowflake magnified)

In every storm

This week in our series on Bible study that transforms I want you to be alert to the fingerprints of God in the book of Esther. When we read the Bible as it is meant to be read, with God at the center instead of with us at the center, we read it differently. In the same way, when we look at life with God at the center, and not us at the center, everything changes.

This week be alert to the fingerprints of God in Esther in our study, but also in your life. Take a walk and really see the fingerprints of God in creation. Watch the people in your life and be alert to see the fingerprints of God in them. And even in the hard things in your life this week, be alert to see how God is in them, how He is with you, and how that helps you to trust Him.

It’s a shorter lesson because many of you will be traveling this Labor Day Weekend.

Sunday/Monday Icebreakers

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Share a few ways you have seen the fingerprints of God this summer:

A. In the beauty of the earth

B. In the joy of human love

C. In the storms of life

Monday-Wednesday: Bible Study

If we make Mordecai the hero in Esther, we have to put up with some big chinks in his armor. In fact, we might be tempted to put a spin on his behavior that is a distortion of reality. He’s lived in Susa for most of his life, and no one even knew he was a Jew. What does this tell you?

Some say, for example, that it was noble for him to refuse to bow to Haman. Yet we are told to show respect for those in authority because God instituted the office. Though it is true there are times we are called to disobey because they are asking us to disobey God, it is also true that we are to pray for them and show respect for the office — for it was instigated by God. Daniel models bowing to a king and yet also, when asked to disobey God,  respectfully refusing.

There was an ancient feud between the Agagites and the Jews (note how often it is mentioned that Haman is an Agagite and that Mordecai is a Jew) and most commentators agree it was the feud that aggravated Mordecai’s pride and kept him from bowing. It was Mordecai that caused everything to come crashing down — so it takes a lot of stretching to make him the hero of the book of Esther.

The hero of this story is not Mordecai but God. He is with Mordecai and uses him, not because Mordecai is wonderful, but because God is a God of mercy and grace and faithfulness.

There is so much we cannot cover, for this is not meant to be a study of Esther, but a study showing you how to study the Bible in a way that transforms. I am going to show you glimpses of the real Hero.

3. Read Esther 2:19-23

A. What fingerprints of God can you see in this account that prepared Mordecai to have favor with the king?

B. What does it mean to you that God was with Mordecai and was preparing to use him?

4: Observe these “fingerprints of God”

Read Esther 3:7

It is helpful to know that the roll of the dice caused the date for the planned holocaust to be a long way 0ff — in fact the longest possible. This gave time for the Jews to prepare, to become aware of who there real enemies were, and to fast and to pray.

5. Read Esther 4 s l o w l y!

A. When Mordecai tells Esther to go and tell Xerxes that she has hidden from him that she is a Jew, why is she afraid to do it, according to verse 11. (Find at least two reasons)

B. Then God quickens Mordecai in a very persuasive speech. He is using Mordecai, not because Mordecai is a hero, but because God cares for His people. Read it in The Message and then find all the persuasive points that you can.

When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

What persuasive points do you see?

6. How does Esther respond? What transformation do you see?

7. In Esther 5:9, how does God turn the sin of each of these men into His purpose to save His people?

8. In Esther 5:14, how does God use Zeresh to bring down Haman and his descendants?

9. In Esther 6:1, how do you see the fingerprints of God?

10. What have you learned about the importance of putting God at the center of your Bible reading?

11. How have you seen the fingerprints of God in your week thus far? (In creation, life, or Scripture) Share two ways.

Thursday/Friday: Read the following essay at this link and share your thoughts: Link

Saturday:

12. What is your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (258) Post a New Comment ↓
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This article really has me thinking. The Bible studier profiles are funny because they are true. I know I have done probably every one of them at some time. The really tough point is that women are not learning the Bible but rely on teachers to give them what they need. The problem is that as humans we tend to elevate those gifted by God to positions that only God should inhabit. I notice in myself the desire for a church with dynamic teaching but I am rethinking this lately. A church has to be balanced and the ones that are heavy on teaching can be light on love and vice versa. I remember you taught us about that Dee and I am seeing it. This really makes sense to me that I should learn to get my own teaching straight from personal Bible study.

The last section about the change in definition of disciple really resonated with me. A disciple is first a learner but we define her as a doer. Doing will come naturally out of the transformation of learning but as we humans tend to do, we look for the result and forget the process. The old cart before the horse routine.

12. My take-a-way is a greater understanding of what a treasure God’s word is for me. It is His gift to me, not just for my comfort or enjoyment. It is food for my soul, meant to be ingested to fuel its spread to all that are around me. As I am transformed those around me are affected. Cyndi, it seems like that is what is happening in your marriage.

This week 2 Cor 9:8 has spoken to me and I see how it fits into this concept. We are blessed so that we may bless others.

I have been trying to decide if I should try to do BSF this year. It is hard sometimes to do 2 studies and though they often come together, sometimes I feel sort of split. But this answers my question. It is the kind of study that she talks about in the article. It sends you straight to the word, leaving nothing out and then expounds on it after you have searched it for yourself. I will keep doing 2 studies and Mom’s in Prayer will be my ministry until God leads otherwise.

Dee, this study is life changing for me. You and all of the women here are like family and the best friends one could have, encouraging and praying for each other at all times of the day or night. It is a phenomenal, marvelous and new work of God.

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    I so agree with you Anne, what a wonderful group of woman:-)

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    Anne, I love your word pictures (It is food for my soul, meant to be ingested to fuel its spread to all that are around me) as I am very visual.

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    Anne,

    Great insight as usual, and after reading what you wrote I can’t wait to get to that link! :-)

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    Dee–I’m thinking Anne’s quote here needs to go on the front page of your site!–at least I hope it’s a great encouragement to you–we all echo it: “Dee, this study is life changing for me. You and all of the women here are like family and the best friends one could have, encouraging and praying for each other at all times
    of the day or night. It is a phenomenal, marvelous and new work of God.”

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    Anne — we love having you here so much. I try not to influence you because I really do want you to hear from the Lord — but another part of me wants to persuade you to stay! You are such a joy here.

    I think there is a value in a face to face study because it provides fellowship — at least it often does.

    I know fall is an intense time for Bible studies, so I will keep that in mind with homework.

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      Dee, I was not thinking of leaving this study. That is why I was thinking about dropping BSF. If I dropped one it would have to be that. There is so much good in any study but we can’t do them all. If I have to do just one it will be this for the reasons above and because nothing has ever grown me so much. My testimony on the blog site remains true for me. I am more excited now than ever, especially with this new teaching from Keller. I think God would have me do both for now. That is why I mentioned it. It is part of my take away.

      Thank you for your encouragement. Sometimes I get out in left field and sometimes I say the wrong things. I so appreciate the grace I find here.

        I’m into another bible study also Anne, that’s why you hear less from me, but my heart is with you all here!

        This is so encouraging.

        Thank you, Anne. We are all in left field at times! :-)

        Anne, I agree with Dee, we all get into left field sometimes-I do more than I would like. ;) but you are so loved by Him and us regardless. ;-)

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3. God put Mordecai in the right place at the right time. I find it interesting that he had to use Esther to get the word to the king, why didnt he just tell him himself? I guess not anyone could see the king….
God will use who God will use.

4-7 I see PRIDE everywhere in this story, everywhere. I wonder if God sat up there and just shook his head at all the chest pounding, look at me, see how good I am stuff that went on. first the king gets rid of his wife because of PRIDE then Mordecai wouldnt bow, because of pride(if he was a practicing jew it would have shown) then Haman gets a bee all up in his bonnet because ONE person refuses to bow and Im not sure H even saw this, it was the others by the gate that “told on him” once again, PRIDE….then king X is reminded that there are a people who will not bow to him and THIS HURTS HIS PRIDE and is convinced to kill them all, really, kill them all??? this is a VERY week minded man who is very open to stupid ideas…
Then H goes and brags to all his friends how great he is and complains that none of all the “wonderful things he is” are enough because ONE man will not bow! Then his wife, to pander to his PRIDE tells him to build a monument (75 foot gallows is a monument to his power and greatness) to hang the man who is “steeling his joy”
THEN God does the amazing, he uses all this pride for his own glory….the king cant sleep so what does he do, he has a book about how great he is read to him, makes sense to me, thats what I do when i cant sleep…oh wait, I actually do this bible study:-)

This gives me hope…you see I am a very prideful person, I struggle with it every day and if God can use all the pride that is in this book for HIS glory then I can be pretty sure that he can use me.
I also learn a lot from the way she talks to her husband….first she prays for 3 days and has others pray with her, this is a great model for us as wives to follow when something is really bothering us and we want to talk to our husbands about it, talk to GOD about it first! some times i find that after prayer God deals with the issue, or he applys the Holy duct tape or the kindness filter:-) THEN she butters him up:-) also a really good thing to do if you want the best chance to be heard, then she makes him WANT to hear what she has to say….gives him a reason to come back and I also think they probably where “united” on the first night and it had been over a month since he had been with her so she wanted to remind him why he picked her! which made him more likly to listen on the 2nd night:-) also not a bad thing to do:-)

My take away, God can use anyone! Pride is really yucky! pray before you speak. do not seek to “get credit” God knows and HE has it under control.

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    I just love your insights on pride in Esther (and about pride in ourselves).

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      Ditto.

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    Cyndi, this is great insight about how to talk to our husbands. I am a world famous blurter. I am going to try to do this, not just with him but also with my sons.

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http://www.focusonthefamily.com/popups/media_player.aspx?MediaId={B209F970-997B-4130-BACF-E38B9BA30200}
not sure if this link will work but it is an amazing talk on overcoming pride with RT kendall that goes so well with what we have been learning. if it doesnt work just go to focus on the familys program guide and put in overcoming pride

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    nope, they have the wrong link up, it takes you to an adventures on odysee about being to busy……hmmm wonder if God is trying to tell me something:-)

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7. In Esther 5:9, how does God turn the sin of each of these men into His purpose to save His people?

Haman was prideful-his idol was control and approval and he trusted in his wealth and position to bring satisfaction to him. He was on cloud 9 to be the ‘only one’ to be invited to the feast with the King and Queen. Mordecai, in his pride, still refused to honor him and it made Haman mad.

If Mordecai had shown some fear or respect of Haman during this encounter then Haman wouldn’t have been mad and set up the pole to impale Mordecai.

8. In Esther 5:14, how does God use Zeresh to bring down Haman and his descendants?

Zeresh gave Haman the idea to put the pole up to impale Mordecai.

9. In Esther 6:1, how do you see the fingerprints of God?

Wow..The King couldn’t sleep-(the hand of God)..So, he had the book of Chronicles which is a record of his reign read to him. (typical of someone who is narcissistic, yet God uses it.) God used this time to ready King Xerxes for what Esther was going to tell him. The king fondly remembered Mordecai after reading the Chronicles. He wanted to reward him, so he was in the frame of mind of remembering what a loyal man Mordecai was by the time Heman got to him with his request to be rewarded. The King turned it around on him and had him reward Mordecai.

Xerxes not being able to sleep and then reading the book of his reign is definitely due to God’s hand-God softened his heart toward Mordecai and God did it by Mordecai over hearing the two guards plan to kill Xerxes. Well all of this shows God’s fingerprints. Amazing!

10. What have you learned about the importance of putting God at the center of your Bible reading?

I have learned I miss Him! I miss the beauty and wonder of what He wants to show me about Himself. I miss His quickening. In regard to Esther God is showing me He is the great redeemer, and He is sovereign in the mundane-He doesn’t always come in a burning bush or in the parting of the sea, yet He still can come in huge ways-mostly he is like a shy lover and his fingerprints are in the details of life.

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    His fingerprints in the details. I like that Rebecca.

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11. How have you seen the fingerprints of God in your week thus far? (In creation, life, or Scripture) Share two ways.
Two ways, Scripture and in my life: Reading Psalm 107:9—“He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”—the prerequisite for His satisfying me, for His filling me with good things—is thirst and hunger. He does not say He satisfies those who are not in need of food and drink. He comes to those in need of Him, in our brokenness.
With God at the center of this Scripture, I know that He alone can fill me. I also know that He uses circumstances and trials in me to create a hunger and thirst. Because of His mercy through trials, my thirst and hunger have increased greatly, to a desperate state. I want the Living Water to fill me up. But I must be continually emptied before I can taste Him. I must remember there is no other satisfaction. The pain and struggle is not comfortable. But like time walking through a desert, I am longing for lasting nourishment, hungry for it every morning. Desperate to be filled up anew to have strength for the day. So many things in my world, stresses, threaten to dry me up. Make me weak, hardened, without hope. But if I am filled up first with the Living Water, I am finding that the desert can be a blessing—it creates such desperate desire and leads me to the only One who can provide.

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My thoughts from Jen Wilkin’s essay:
Scripture is living and active and given to us to pierce and transform us. I was thinking—the Word has power because it is God. But instead of letting it have power over us, we treat it as if it is a tool that we can manage and manipulate. It is as if we are trying to use Scripture for our purpose, manage it, rather than allow it to be in its Holy place over us, transforming us.

I like Jen Wilkin a lot and think this article is very insightful. I feel like I have “wasted” much time using these approaches to studying the Bible. Each approach puts me at the center—what can I get out of this? How can I feel better? How can I get my answer? Fill me up quickly because I have things to do! It’s almost as if I am so impatient in reading Scripture that I want to force it to either entertain, avoiding any hard to read OT books, or I want it to give me my answer so I can get to my agenda.

I thank Him that I feel less and less and less this way in reading His Word. It IS His Word. Living and active. It is a gift, from Him. I want to be a learner, a student of His Word. A good Counselor doesn’t give you all the answers on your first visit. I have to be patient, wanting more than just answers—wanting to listen, learn, be transformed–wanting HIM. I want to learn to always read in context, with God always at the center.

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    Good stuff. Many times we don’t even recognize how much “we treat it (Scripture) as if it is a tool that we can manage and manipulate.” It is good recognize the dangers of trying to fit Scripture into our agenda to make us feel good about ourselves.

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      Elizabeth and Diane,
      You both make such good points here. I love your last paragraph, Elizabeth – you sound like a “good student” (and I know you are!) and you so have the heart of a learner, desiring Him above all else.

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4. Observe these “fingerprints of God” Read Esther 3:7

Rolling a dice to pick a date – anyone would think that is totally random and fair.
However, I see God’s fingerprints in that it was the 1st month when they cast the die,
and it fell on the 12th month, giving the Jews plenty of time to react.

5. Read Esther 4 slowly!

A. When Mordecai tells Esther to go and tell Xerxes that she has hidden from him that she is a Jew, why is she afraid to do it, according to verse 11. (Find at least two reasons)

First, she knows that any man or woman who approaches the king in his inner court without being summoned by the king, by law, will be put to death.
Secondly, she knows there is one exception to this law: that the king extends his gold scepter to the one who barged in without invitation, and their life will be spared. However, Esther says, “BUT thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king”.
It seems that she is unsure of his feelings toward her – it sounds as if this is not the usual length of time for them to be apart; maybe she fears that she has done something to fall out of favor with her husband.

B. Then God quickens Mordecai in a very persuasive speech. He is using Mordecai, not because Mordecai is a hero, but because God cares for His people. Read it in The Message and then find all the persuasive points that you can.

Don’t think the king will protect you because you are his queen and you live in his house, that though all the other Jews perish, you will be the only one left alive – you won’t.

If you think your silence will save you, it won’t – you and your father’s family will be wiped out. Then, God will send help and deliverance, but you will have missed your chance to be His vessel; He’ll use someone else.

Think about it, Esther…ponder how you came to be queen. Have you considered that God placed you here for a time such as this? Who really “made” you the queen?

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6. How does Esther respond? What transformation do you see?

She responds by telling Mordecai to gather together all the Jews in Susa, and to have them fast and pray for three days. And Esther, along with her maids, will do the same. At the end of the three days, she will go into the king, even though it is against the law. I love her last words, “And if I perish, I perish”.
The transformation I see is Esther moving from fear to trust in her God, the God that she had hidden away in a box a long time ago, keeping it all a secret. What a huge leap of faith toward a God that she may not have really “known” very well. I can tell it is trust in Him because she does not say, “Okay, here’s what we’ll do….” – it’s not her plan.
It is fasting and praying and throwing themselves on the mercy of God, crying out to Him for help. And she trusts her God enough to say that if she perishes, then it will be His will for that to happen, but she is placing herself entirely into His hands.

7. In Esther 5:9, how does God turn the sin of each of these men into His purpose to save His people?

Both Haman and Mordecai are two really stubborn mules, neither is willing to meet the other “in the middle”. Mordecai, in his stubborn pride, refuses to acknowledge Haman’s presence or give him honor. Haman, in his puffed-up pride, thinks that he deserves even for men to show fear in his presence. Because of their sin, Haman’s anger remains fueled against all the Jews and the plan to annihilate all of them is still very much in motion.

8. In Esther 5:14, how does God use Zeresh to bring down Haman and his descendants?

Haman has been at home, boasting and bragging about all his wealth, his sons, and his popularity with the king and queen. Yet he complains about the one thorn in his side – Mordecai. Zeresh is riding high with her husband and also filled with pride, so she suggests that he build a 75 foot tall gallows on which to have Mordecai publicly hanged.
Little did she know….

9. In Esther 6:1, how do you see the fingerprints of God?

The king could not sleep. Yes, I believe that God can keep a person awake at night. And what thought is planted in the king’s mind? To bring out the book of the record of his reign and have it read to him. (This is funny b/c Xerxes thinks he’s so great but it seems that he thought it would be a boring read and would put him to sleep?) And back in Esther 2:23, it said that it was recorded in the book how Mordecai reported the plot to kill the king – recorded so that it would never be forgotten. Wow. And the king hears this read to him the very night before Haman is going to ask that Mordecai be hanged on the gallows!

Ok my life is crazy so I am skipping to the article part for Thurs. but hoping to get back to the rest of the study when I have quiet slow reading time…

Really like this article and how it exposes wrong ways to read the Bible. It especially stood out to me as how we read the Bible often to serve us not the other way around. The xanax approach is really true and what I see so often. Now when I am in a hard spot I need to quote these kind of Scriptures to myself but I understand the context of them…I don’t need to push this approach on others though…Making disciples is also the way I need to go. I think this was a great article exposing our errors.

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8. In Esther 5:14, how does God use Zeresh to bring down Haman and his descendants?

She is the one who suggests the impaling on the pole.

9. In Esther 6:1, how do you see the fingerprints of God?

The king couldn’t sleep and he read the historical record that professed Mordecai saving his life years before.

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I got my “Idol Lies” book today from Amazon!! Can’t wait to dive in!!!

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    Well — save it to give away — cause you are getting an autographed one, dear one. You were a big part in that study.

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      I got your book to me in the mail today, Dee! I feel so honored, as I don’t participate in the studies like my sister’s do, but that study on Idols has helped me tremendously! I have a whole new outlook on life from this study and I know I will learn much more from reading your book, Dee! I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love, now. Thank you so much!

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    me too Joyce! I ordered for some friends–came in a day! So fun to open the box and see the beautiful cover!
    I noticed too on amazon, you can “like” the book :)

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      Oh I “like” all of Dee’s books! I could not believe how many books/study guide’s you have wrote, Dee! Oh my Goodness..there is alot!!

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10. What have you learned about the importance of putting God at the center of your Bible reading?

I suppose it helps us to learn more about Him. These aren’t just stories with interesting plots. These are stories with deep meaning. We need to study to understand. For me it is difficult. I wouldn’t have known to read keeping in mind it is a satire if Dee had’t told us. Maybe just bringing that forward means I will wonder what “genre” I am reading in the future. I don’t know if I got what I should have out of this study. I missed reading a lot of the discussion posts because of time. I think it would have helped me to have a different perspective. I felt like I needed to read more than just the one verse to understand the true message behind the story.

11. How have you seen the fingerprints of God in your week thus far? (In creation, life, or Scripture) Share two ways.

Well, my daughter and I really “had it out” yesterday. It was a low point. I decided to text her and say I was sorry. As I was texting she called me to do the same.

My husband and I went to new jersey to visit his mother last weekend. The beach was absolutely gorgeous. I rested for a couple of hours just listening to the seagulls and waves. lovely.

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    Great fingerprints.

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In regards to the article, I think it was well stated and definitely something to think about. I haven’t been a person to read the Bible just to read it (in the past). I have been a Christian since I was a young girl though, and read the Bible in church.
I learned a lot of what i knew from teaching VBS in the summers!

About a year and a half ago I decided to join this Bible study because I felt like I needed to learn more about the stories and about Jesus. I admit, I felt at the time that if I died I wouldn’t know what I needed to when I got to Heaven to meet Jesus. I have learned so much in this time and I am grateful to Dee and this blog. The most learning during this time was when Dee would link our Bible study with something familiar to me like a movie. I will never forget the study on how Jesus loves us last summer! She linked the message to Fiddler on the Roof! It was so meaningful and I went around singing the songs for weeks! This helped me remember His love for me! Praise God for Dee and this blog :)

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    That encourages me, Laura-dancer. Thank you!

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    “Do you LOVE me?” I still sing it to myself..thinking of God!

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11. How have you seen the fingerprints of God in your week thus far? (In creation, life, or Scripture) Share two ways.

I was reading in James 4 and stumbled across this passage and I just stayed there. This passage deals with Idolatry and how that grieves God’s heart. God jealously longs for the spirit He has caused to dwell in me. When my heart is divided it breaks his heart-yet there is Grace. When I submit to God, Satan will flee.

Since God has put His spirit in me even if I were stubborn for a while He would melt my heart, compelling me to yield like He did two or so years ago when I first came here. He was jealously longing for me when I was in the arms of my idol and He didn’t stop pursuing me. I thought he must have given up on me-I knew I was still His but that perhaps he was saying to me, okay if that is how you want it then I will just be distant. But look at His passionate love for me as He journeyed to the cross-He was pursuing me then-He was willing to take that humiliation, shame and pain for me-He didn’t stop-He went all the way to the cross, and while that melts my heart-this does even more-He was willing to be separate from God so He could have me. He wants so much more than a shallow relationship-He wants to take me deeper in and higher up.

He is a God who shows grace to the humble and if I have any humility in me it is because He is the one who put His spirit in me to make me Humble. He is the one who convicts, quickens, and redeems me-He is my Shepherd and He is faithful. This is all about Him, not me. OH I NEED TO REMEMBER THIS! Because of my default mode, I tend to stumble just about daily!

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    Good thoughts, Rebecca. Tracing His fingerprints in His pursuit of you. It’s always good to remember.

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10. What have you learned about the importance of putting God at the center of your Bible reading?

I used to read the Bible thinking along the lines that there were “heroes of the Bible” – men like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, etc… I have learned that God is the True Hero behind every story, and that when mere men and women do exemplary things, it is because God enabled them to do them. Now when I read, I approach with the mindset that I am meeting with God. I now anticipate looking for His fingerprints which are all over the place.

11. How have you seen the fingerprints of God in your week thus far? (In creation, life, or Scripture) Share two ways.

I am seeing Him everywhere when I go outdoors, seeing the work of His hands. This is such a beautiful season – feeling the late summer warmth of the sun on my skin, hearing the quiet music of the crickets, mums coming into bloom with their warm fall colors.
I am seeing His fingerprints in the mundane activities of every-day, like Mordecai, when he was just sitting at the gate. Helping my mom by washing her outside windows, being there to listen at the right moment and to carry another’s burdens, the timing of certain events, an open heart to read a book.

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    A keeper comment:

    I have learned that God is the True Hero behind every story, and that when mere men and women do exemplary things, it is because God enabled them to do them. Now when I read, I approach with the mindset that I am meeting with God. I now anticipate looking for His fingerprints which are all over the place.

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    LOVE this Susan “I am seeing His fingerprints in the mundane activities of every-day, like Mordecai, when he was just sitting at the gate. Helping my mom by washing her outside windows, being there to listen at the right moment and to carry another’s burdens, the timing of certain events, an open heart to read a book.”

    Such a good reminder to just open my eyes–He is always present, always working–and as you said, always the Hero.

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    Yes Susan, love, love this post both answers to 10 and 11. :) You are such a beautiful woman inside and out. So honored to be your friend. ;)

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Thursday/Friday: Read the following essay at this link and share your thoughts:

I liked the article on Bible study in the sense that she clearly pointed out what we should not do. It was humorous and well done. However, I wish she had spent more time on how we should do Bible study. Also, I missed the humorous point about Xanax being a drug until one of my family pointed it out as we were discussing the article.

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    I understand what you mean, Diane. I will say, the article first appeared on Jen’s blog (before Gospel Coalition), and there, it had some resources and additional posts within the series that were helpful.

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      Would you have that link, Elizabeth?

        Thanks for the link, elizabeth. I’ll get sure to check it out when I get a few minutes.

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      Thanks for this link. I will look at it later today because I do need clarification and applications for some of the words she used in her last paragraph.

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Would love your take-a-ways!

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OUR BELOVED REBECCA IS FLAT OUT WITH THE FLU — PLEASE PRAY FOR HER!

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    Covering you my sweet sister Rebecca–so sorry for this attack ;(
    Would give anything to be there with soup and lysol!

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    Lord, please be with Rebecca right now. It is so hard to be sick like that but add to it responsibilities to children and family and it is overwhelming. Be with her personally now calming her heart and her stomach. Please let none of the boys be sick right at this moment. May they be united in caring for each other and for Rebecca. I pray for Your presence and Your peace over this household. Amen

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    Oh,thanks so much for praying for me! I feel so much better this morning-a little queasy, but better.

    Yesterday was horrible. I had to take Drew to the Doctor and felt sick to my stomach the whole morning..finally, I had to pull over somewhere on the way home from the Doctor and throw up..then fever, chills and horrible headache all day and night, and wasn’t able to stand up and walk without feeling like I need to throw up..Thankful the stomach flu only lasts 24 hours! I know I need to rest today but have so much to do.

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      Rebecca, PLEASE REST. I know there is so much to do–but it won’t be worth it if you relapse…take care of yourself!

        Elizabeth, you are so sweet! I am on the computer for now..Not up and doing things yet. I will take your advice though. :)

        Glad you are feeling better, Rebecca. Stomach flu is really nasty stuff.

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    Praying for you, Rebecca…please get well soon!!

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    Thanks so much for praying for me! I must say I ended up doing too much today..had to go to the store and now I am feeling kind of achy all over. SO I am going to rest tomorrow. :-) Need to get better at just lying around.

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We have a big family get-together today. My brother and wife from North Vancouver, British Columbia (that’s west, just north of Washington State) is here plus grand-children and cousins and kids from Ontario and Nova Scotia. Of course, my 82 year old father as well. I am in charge of coordinating. I would appreciate your prayers for a good, God-honouring day.

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    Please be with Diane, give her peace — and may Your love flow throughout — I know there have been hurts, but I pray this will be a healing God-honouring day full of grace and blessing for Diane’s 82 year old father.
    In Jesus Name

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    Oh Diane, I agree with Dee in prayer–sounds like a LOT! Praying He will be glorified and for you to feel His peace and strength. Let us know how it goes!

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    Dianne,

    Yes, I agree with Dee’s prayer and will pray your father will be honored and God glorified-such a sweet fragrance that you are honoring him. ;)

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12. What is your take-a-way and why?
I love what Dee said above “when we look at life with God at the center, and not us at the center, everything changes”.

Sometimes it’s easier to see His fingerprints than others. In the sweet things, in nature, in a really good day—I can see Him easily. In the stress of parenting, sickness, and conflict—it’s harder. But the truth that He is still there, that His hand-prints are still all over my circumstances, gives me peace. And by seeing Him more and more in the everyday, it helps me know He really IS there when it’s just harder for me to see.

I read an article from Sally Lloyd Jones on Desiring God, where she said “When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us….When we tie up the story in a nice neat, little package, and answer all the questions, we leave no room for mystery…When we say, “Now what that story is all about is…”, or “The point of that story is…” we are in fact totally missing the point…Because the power of the story isn’t in the lesson. The power of the story is the story.”

It is so instinctive for me to make everything about me. If the kids are disrespectful, surely it is mostly my fault…if I am sick, surely God is telling me something. If a friend seems distant—I wonder what I did wrong. And when I read Scripture, my default is ‘what can I learn from this, how do I apply it to this situation in my life…?’ But when I stop and remember that the world, the Bible, does not orbit around me, I can breathe. I can relax a little and say, I don’t know all the answers. But He does. And I know Him. It takes a LOT of reminding, but it’s getting a little easier…baby steps!

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    Elizabeth, this is a great post! How I want to stop making everything about me. How freeing that seems. The picture of the small child in her father’s lap comes to me right now.

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    Wow! Love what Sally Lloyd Jones says. “When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us….When we tie up the story in a nice neat, little package, and answer all the questions, we leave no room for mystery…When we say, “Now what that story is all about is…”, or “The point of that story is…” we are in fact totally missing the point…Because the power of the story isn’t in the lesson. The power of the story is the story.” But how do we STOP making morals out of the Bible? Sunday School teachers, preachers, everyone interprets. I need to read and think about this. Do you have the link for this as well?

        TERRIFIC ARTICLE — HOPE EVERYONE WILL READ!

        For those who love Storybook Bible like I do–she has a new Devotional for Kids book coming out (can pre-order now) called Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing–looks so good!

        That new devotional should be good. I’m always looking for goood Christian children’s books for my grandkids.

        Yes, I really liked this article too. Teachers, when we need to make application to our Bible lessons, make sure it is about God and not us.

        “That the Bible isn’t mainly about me, and what I should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

        That the Bible is most of all a story — the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

        That — in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him — God won’t ever stop loving his children… with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

        That the Bible, in short, is a Story — not a Rule Book — and there is only one Hero in the Story.”

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11. I have thought a lot about this question and what I want to focus on as a fingerprint of God. Could we not count every part of our lives as orchestrated by Him? Dee, your pictures were very descriptive. The miracle of human creation, and birth along with the love of parents for children is a picture of God’s love for us. I keep thinking of the big things that direct our lives like a ship’s rudder but I would like to break it down to the little things. Only thing is I can’t think of the little right now.

The incident that keeps coming back to me is one that I think I shared a few weeks ago when Joey almost stepped on a poisonous snake in our back yard. It was the dog that alerted him to it. When I think of what could have happened I am so deeply thankful to the Lord. I am amazed by the instinct He wired our Darla with and how seriously she takes her job as protector.

I see the fact that my oldest is now in Brooklyn a fingerprint of God. I can’t see the working out of it right now but I sense such significance in the fact that he is in the place where his father’s family originated from Italy. We will see won’t we?

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    Anne–your last line especially spoke to me-immensely. “I can’t see the working out of it right now but…” and then how you end with “We will see won’t we?”–You are embracing the mystery! And that’s just IT–that is what I must remember–embrace what I cannot see, embrace the mystery.

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      Oh wow Elizabeth! You see it. Thanks for helping me to see it. This is what I mean about this blog. It is how iron sharpens iron.

        Anne,
        I love this: “Could we not count every part of our lives as orchestrated by Him?” I love your insight into the incident with your dog and how she protected Joey, and your peering into the mystery of Al being in Brooklyn. Dee is so right about you, Anne – you are a contemplative, always peering deeply and seeing what most of us often miss.

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12. What is your take-a-way and why?
That we read a lot into the bible that just isn’t there. Sometimes it’s because we are trying to identify with the people so we project on them. Sometimes it’s because of stories that we have heard that make the people of the bible the heroes instead of God. We need to read the bible with God as the total focus. What is HE doing and how does this apply to u in the way of bringing Him glory with our lives.
We do know that regardless of our shortcomings and failures God will redeem us and it is His will that will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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The Essay: I loved it! Especially the last part:

“A disciple is, literally, a learner—one who follows another’s teaching. But the modern church has tended to define a disciple as a “doer” instead of as a “learner.” We have been asked to do service projects, join home groups, find an accountability partner, get counseling, fix our marriages, sing on the worship team, get out of debt, help in the nursery, hand out bulletins, go on mission trips, give to the building fund, share the gospel at Starbucks—but we have so rarely been challenged to pursue the most fundamental element of discipleship—earnest study of the Word. Yes, a disciple does, but we’re motivated to act by love for the God revealed in the Word.

Stop waiting for your community of believers to call you to be what Christ already has. Be a student. Be a good student. Read repetitively and in context, line by line. Keep the God of the gospel at the center of your study. Strive for comprehension before interpretation. Give application ample time to emerge from a passage. Watch ignorance flee and transformation flourish. Study the Word. Master it, master it.”

I have been guilty of all approaches to studying the Bible but have found when i wait for application and see the Gospel at the center-and look at it in context, and background-I can understand more deeply who God is and what He is saying to me. Though sometimes God quickens me in a passage and I stay on that for a while.

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12. What is your take-a-way and why?

How crucially important it is to slow down and spend time in the word-to see Him and not hurry to application. God desires for me to be transformed-that is why He died for me-to be saved from the penalty of sin but also to be saved from the power of sin. Obedience without love is doing all the right things and abstaining from all the wrong things but missing Him in the center. It is me trying to save myself from the power of sin-I am leaving Him out. Does that make sense?

The Bible isn’t a book full of do’s and dont’s or quick fixes to make me happy..I think that is the issue with Christianity today-and I know I am guilty of it too. I have found His peace and contentment when I just gaze my eyes on Him, but when I approach Bible Study as a ‘to do’ on my list for the day-that is when I miss Him.

When we become real students of the Bible and seek to see HIM in every book-not approach it as book of morality, or a book to make us happy and fix our problems, but to approach it with a Gospel Centered approach. We become transformed and the serving and doing will naturally flow-as a fruit of being with Him and as we are with Him our love for Him grows as we meditate on the Gospel-we will truly be transforming into His image. As a matter of fact I wonder if the church might find more people who are less self centered as they serve and more Christ centered-it would really transform the church as a whole.

I am also learning to accept the mystery. I admit I tend to fall into the category of trying to figure out what God is doing, or to comprehend some incomprehensible things about God. I can’t comprehend some things about God-but am learning to rest in the mystery. It is so healing to rest and trust in Him.

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    Good thoughtful response, Rebecca. This is helpful. “When we become real students of the Bible and seek to see HIM in every book-not approach it as book of morality, or a book to make us happy and fix our problems, but to approach it with a Gospel Centered approach. We become transformed and the serving and doing will naturally flow . . .”

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Dee, I am so excited! Thank you for sending me a copy of your book! When Joyce said she got hers today I hoped but thought it would take more time for one to come to me because I live farther away. I went to the mailbox just now and there it was! It has been threatening to rain off and on all day but almost as soon as I came in from the mailbox, the sky opened up. Perfect time to curl up with a good book…

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Diane, how did the party go today?

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    Anne–I just emailed you a question if you have time, no hurry–just wanted you to know it was me ;)

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Diane–how was your get together? I’m amazed you’re here!

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Thanks all for praying and asking. The party went really well. It was so good for extended family to get together. My younger brother was not there, but two of Dad’s sisters and some of their kids were there. The older cousins don’t see each other enough even though most live fairly close and the littlest cousins don’t know each other because they live too far apart. It is so good to have four generations together once in a while. One of my brothers was there from Vancouver and one of my nieces (and family) now live in Germany.

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    Is it the younger brother that we have been praying for (your relationship with)? I’m glad it went well. I think that is really neat and special that you could bring so many together.

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      Yes, it is my younger brother and his relationship with the family that needs your continued prayer.

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Dee, I am just finishing the first chapter and I have to tell you this is excellent! The language is strong enough to wake the dead. I pray that it does. The points are well made and it is infused with your heart. I praise God for what He has done through you.

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    Thank you Anne — from you that means a lot! So thankful for that prayer.

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    Anne – that was an excellent review!

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    Yes, Anne. LOVED your review! :)

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I just got home and got my mail. THANK YOU, DEE! I’ll start it tonight. (Who ever heard of reading one book at a time? ;) )

My take away is that as I recognize that life is ALL ABOUT HIM, my life becomes better — as a side effect. I had a very difficult week at work. As I moved from 1) feeling hurt and angry to 2) wondering what God is trying to teach me to 3) realizing that He in in control and focusing on HIM, I felt more sane. But worshiping Him is not about my sanity; it’s about His glory, holiness, and praiseworthiness.

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Blessings to all — headed to Canada this morning — thankful for your prayers.

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    Praying, Dee. Have a great time.

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      Hi Diane,
      I’m sorry I missed the opportunity to pray about your family get-together, but I’m glad it went so well and the cousins got to reconnect with each other! Family is certainly a gift, isn’t it? Sorry though that your brother, the one we’ve been praying for, did not come.

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I read the essay and thought yes, how many times I’ve been in a Bible study and failed to be transformed. Unfortunately, in the past, I would fearfully conclude that perhaps the reason was that I was not really a Christian, which led to prayers begging God to save me, for real, this time.
I’ve done the “Xanax Approach”, but…okay, if it is not a time that you are doing serious Bible study, is it always wrong? Like when I went through anxiety and fear several years ago, I did turn to passages about fear, and how God is with us, for comfort, even memorizing a passage that really helped me. I know we shouldn’t make the Bible about us at our every encounter with it, but Jesus called the Holy Spirit also our Advocate, our Counselor. So sometimes when I need some “counseling”, or advice, or comfort, I don’t think it is wrong to turn to the Bible for help. Sometimes in my life, it was a big shout for “Help!” – I needed help right then and there. In a way, I think it can still be making the Bible about God, because I’m not trying to solve my problems myself, or with positive thinking, or by calling a friend, but I’m going to Him because I believe He can and will and wants to help me. I learn things about His character and that I can depend on Him.
And it can transform me from being afraid and doubting into resting in His care and provision and love for me.

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    I appreciate your perspective, Susan. I love that you are thinking the issue through.

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