Archive for January, 2009

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Esther: Week 3

January 29, 2009

This is the link for Session 2.

When you click on the link “Session 2” (above) it will open a new window with the download instructions. Click on “WMV” (to the left of the question mark) to launch the video. This video download is only available for members of this Bible Study. To participate, you will need the Member book.

We will meet again for discussion at 6:30pm, February 4th. We’ll watch the Session 3 video at 7pm.

Please post your comments/thoughts about this week’s video, the study material or on the book of Esther. This forum provides a way for us to share our ideas and opinions as we move through, and are moved by, our studies.

Links to previous sessions:

Esther: Week 1

Esther: Week 2

posted by Fran.

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Finding Favor with the King: Week 2

January 26, 2009

LORD,

Strengthen us in our search to understand and apply what we learn about Esther and how she was shown her life’s purpose.  As we seek a closer intimacy with you, give us the patience to wait for your timing for our lives.  Help us to stay focused on the true meaning of worship.  Also help us to see your hand at work in the world around us.

Amen

 

WOW!  Our second meeting was so rewarding!  I think we all walked away with such a feeling of God-centered renewal.  The meeting actually began rather slowly as we opened with prayer and then began to look at the questions for Chapters 1 & 2.  I actually jumped over to the Chapter 2 questions because I felt driven to discuss what I’m being called to pursue in this season of my life.  Once I opened the floor to this question, the talk began to flow about what we were each being called to do or seeking to pursue now.  It is reassuring to know that there are others out there that are moving into new and unknown (to us) territory.  I just want to thank each of the ladies who participated Wednesday night for their candor and their trust. 

What follows now are some of the answers we gave to the questions for Chapters 1 & 2.  Please add your comments below to any or all them you would like to share with us.  Also the questions for Chapter 3 & 4 follow.  These were questions I wrote because Tenney’s site only contained study questions for the first two chapters.  Because one of the things that we wanted to accomplish during this study was to refocus our lives and strengthen our relationship with God, I tried to write questions that would draw from both the book and our own lives.

Chapter 1

1. Do you have a “fascination with transformation“?  Are you irresistibly interested in rags-to-riches stories and peasant- to-princess sagas?   Why?

            Every little girl feels drawn to this type of story.  It seems to inspire “hope” that dreams really can come true.

2.  On page 14, Tenney reveals that the Book of Esther reveals “the way God overcomes human weakness and failure to elevate our position and rank all the way to His throne room.”  Do you feel this could really apply to your life? (Explain your answer, but do not change it.  Use it as a marker of the heart.  The Scriptural revelation in this book will confirm your answer or demonstrate a truth you need to embrace.)

            Anyone who has accepted God into his or her life and made HIM the center understands how He, through repentance on your part, can lift you from what seems the pit of despair and refill your heart and soul with love and hope.  Those of us who have become too driven, too busy, too smug, or even too disheartened may suddenly find ourselves taking a hard look and a deep listen to His words in order to re-center our worlds around His purpose for our lives.

 

3.  What makes people who do not know Jesus “incompatible with the glory of the King”?  How can any of us become compatible with divine royalty?

            The people who don’t know Jesus have a hard time discovering the Lord’s purpose for their lives because they have a harder time finding an intimate relationship with Him.  Because they haven’t allowed themselves to become God-centered, they can’t openly seek His face.

 

4.  Whether you are married or currently single, what went through your mind and heart when you read, “It costs you something to prepare for the single most significant day of your life“?  Admittedly, some people make their marriage ceremony somewhat of a joke or fast-service formality…could this possibly say something about the depth of their commitment to one another?

            There’s definitely a reason why such a commitment shouldn’t be a “quickie” thing.  If a person truly feels that this is a lifetime commitment you are making to another person in marriage, then it should take some preparation.  The same can be said for a person’s commitment to the Lord.  The call may be like lightning when it strikes, but the lifetime commitment is a day-to-day striving to learn what makes Him happy, what makes Him feel more loved, to see to His needs, to please Him and seek to be closer to Him.

 

5. Do you believe repentance (pictured in Esther’s six-month cleansing in baths of myrrh) is important in the Christian life?  Is it a one-time act, or a life-long process of transformation for you?

            Repentance is absolutely necessary in the Christian’s life because humans are not perfect and are going to make mistakes and seeking God’s forgiveness when we do err is just part of the life-long process that we will make because we love God and truly want to please him.

 

Chapter 2

 

1.  Whatever impresses you attracts you, and whatever you pursue becomes your purpose.  What impresses you the most ?  What are you really pursuing in this season of your life?

            The boundless love and forgiveness God has for us is what is so irresistible.   This is the question where we began our really heartfelt discussion about how God seemed to be showing us what His purpose for our lives is at this time.  For some it seems pretty clear, for others it seems to definitely be a transitional, searching time.  We talked about listening to God and then finding the strength to do what He is telling us, even if it doesn’t seem to be what “we” intended for our lives.

 

2.  Think about your church life for a moment: Do you attend church primarily for the social benefits, friends, music, or peace of mind it brings?  Or, do you go to celebrate and worship God with your friends, through music, while focused your thoughts and affections on Him?  (If honesty forces you to lean toward the first list, understand that those things are not “bad.”  However, it is better to seek the King first over the benefits of His house.)  Journal your thoughts concerning these questions and thinking points.

            The point that we all have to remember is to stop and focus on God.  If we work from our God-center, then we should travel in the right direction.  We talked about how our lives can become driven by all sorts of external forces and internal, emotional needs and how we can sometimes lose our way.  Having just read Fran’s story in January’s Guideposts, it reminded me how sometimes God steps in and takes over when we are speeding along life’s highway, and He puts the brakes on our life to help us refocus.

 

3.  “You can find God in some of the most interesting places.”  Describe an interesting “God place” or divine encounter in your own life or in the life of someone you know.

            This question really got the discussion exciting as we revealed some different and even amusing ways that God speaks to us and lets us know what His purpose is for our lives.  I hope that the ladies that were there on Wednesday will share their individual stories with you on this page.  I will leave that to their discretion. 

 

4.  “One day of favor can be worth more than a lifetime of labor.”  How may this principle apply to your life?

            That one defining moment when you recognize that God is in your life is what makes all the labors seem insignificant to that reward.  He gave us His favor on that day, and it is a joy after that to strive to please Him.

 

5.  Esther realized that without the king, the king’s place was just a big empty house.  Imagine “church” without God’s presence for a moment, and describe your feelings about investing your time attending meetings in such a place.

            Church would become this building, this shell, where people had meetings, but what would be the point of the meetings?  Without God’s presence, those meetings would become “outer” centered and would never be very fulfilling.  The place would always seem deserted and desolate like one of the ghost town buildings, there might be people coming and going but there’s no “life.”

 

 

Study Guide Questions for Chapter 3 & 4

Chapter  3 – Protocol of the Palace

You Cannot Worship What You Dethrone

 

1.  Do you consider yourself a temporary traveler, a guest, or an intimate in God’s Palace?

 

2.  Do you feel “fear” in God’s presence?  Why or why not?

3.  How much time have you spent waiting to have an audience with the King?  Was the wait worth it?

4.  Do you feel your work and activities in and for your church bring you closer to God , or do you feel that some work and/or activities seem to be keeping you from seeking God’s presence?

5.  Do you need your destiny altered?  Would you like to see your future changed?

Chapter  4 – Intimacy and Influence

How Relationship Trumps Protocol

 

1.  Do you understand God’s purpose for your life?  Have you ever questioned what his purpose for your life is or the direction it seems to be headed? 

 

2.  Have you tried to circumvent what seems to be God’s purpose for your life because of fear or uncertainty?  Why?

3.  Are the choices that you make about your life centered around God and his purpose for you?

4.  Do you feel there are other people who seem to have a more intimate relationship with God than you do?  Describe them?  Why do you think they might be more privileged than you?

5.  What can you do to increase your intimacy with the King?

posted by Bonny

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Esther: Week 2

January 22, 2009

This is the link for Session 1.

When you click on the link “Session 1” it will open a new window with the download instructions. Click on “WMV” (to the left of the question mark) to launch the video. This video download is only available for members of this Bible Study. To participate, you will need the Member book.

We will meet again for discussion at 6:30pm, January 28th. We’ll watch the Session 2 video at 7pm.

Please post your comments/thoughts about this week’s video, the study material or on the book of Esther. This forum provides a way for us to share our ideas and opinions as we move through, and are moved by, our studies.

Links to previous sessions:

Esther: Week 1

posted by Fran.

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Finding Favor with the King: Week 1

January 13, 2009

The Study of Esther: Week One

 

LORD,

 

As we begin this study of Esther, give us the strength to understand the meanings and messages behind this story.  Help us to reflect on this story and how it affects our own lives as we seek to fully appreciate the favor you have bestowed on each of us.  Help us to understand and better observe the protocols of your palace that we may discover even more the light of your shining understanding and forgiveness.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

 

On the first night of our bible and book study of the Book of Esther we gathered together in the library for a few moments to socialize and swap information about this exciting new addition that we are adding to W2W.  If you’re reading this, then you already know that we will be blogging each week about Esther and the two books that we are reading to help us uncover some of the many treasures of wisdom that Esther’s story contains.

 

I, personally, am very excited about this opportunity to more fully explore my thoughts and to share those thoughts with even more members of our church, and all women who are simply interested in bible study.

 

For the Tommy Tenney book Finding Favor with the King, we had a small group of three ladies, but I think it made such a warm and inviting beginning for our journey!  I made notebooks for each participant so that we could not only answer questions with each chapter, but we can also take extra notes, and I even included a journal page to go with each chapter.  I am hoping that every one will take the time to write about how the part of the story we are currently studying connects with them personally and affects their lives.

 

I also gave each participant a book mark on which I had dotted a spot of oil of myrrh.  I wanted everyone to be able to smell the fragrance that Esther had to submerse herself in for the first six months of her preparation to meet King Xerxes.  Hopefully, it will remind them each time they open the book, and in the future, the smell will remind them of our journey together.

 

As we began our discussion this first night, I started by asking us to discuss what we already knew about the book of Esther.

 

Some of the things we discussed were:

·         Haman wanted to kill the Jews

·         Mordecai worked in the king’s court

·         Esther was kidnapped into a beauty pageant

·         Xerxes’ queen Vashti was called to come before a banquet of drinking men wearing “her crown.”  We speculated whether that was all she was supposed to wear.  Irregardless, she refused. 

·         The king decided Vashti would no longer be able to see the king’s face.  Again, we speculated whether that meant she was banished from his sight or she was swiftly executed.

·         King Xerxes was a war-time king and not a nice guy!

 

From here we then began to discuss what we wanted to know or gain from this study of Esther.

 Some of the ideas we proposed were:

  • A disciplined bible reading/reflection program
  • A change (transformation) in life
  • To begin a preparation for a spiritual change
  • To refocus the spiritual journey, to come closer, to move beyond the intellectual relationship and really seek God’s face
  • To come closer to uncovering the true purpose of God’s plan for each of us

 

It was at this point that we turned to Tenney’s book and decided that we would read two chapters a week and answer the questions (about five for each chapter) because the book is a fascinatingly easy read.  Because one participant did not have the book yet, we took turns reading the first chapter. 

 

This book is one that I first read last spring/summer and to which I really felt a positive connection.  I was able to vividly connect with Tenney’s description of the relationship with God that we should all strive to achieve.  It is hard for me to picture a time when I did not feel toward God the same way I felt toward my own father.  I was able to clearly picture myself climbing into God’s lap where he wraps his strong arms around me and pats my back with his large work-roughened hands and tells me that he knows I will be able to solve whatever problem it might be.  Or just having that gentle smile as I tell him how much he means to me.

 

Tenney makes it very easy to follow his ideas about the fascination that almost every little girl has with the pauper-to-princess story.  He is so on the mark when he wrote about girls preparing for a prom or their wedding day and how the significance of the day is reflected in the amount of preparation it takes to get ready for it. 

 

I thought it was intriguing when he told us that the Nazis banned the Jews in the concentration camps from reading the book of Esther.  They were afraid of the powerful messages that Esther had buried in her story just waiting to be discovered.  I especially liked Tenney’s phrase, “it [Esther’s story] reveals divinity’s solution for humanity’s confusion.”

 

How many of us stop to think about having one encounter with the King?  How many of us spend time preparing for that one encounter?  How many of us get so swept up in the multitude of insignificant details that flood each and every day that we just end up bobbing along with the current and wear ourselves out if we try to make it to shore?  Or we only have time for the King when we need something, or we have a problem that we want Him to solve for us, or we rant at Him because of some injustice we feel has been done to us?

 

Tenney helps us to understand why the preparation was not only important for Esther, but how it is important for each of us.  He gives the reader a revealing insight into the oil of myrrh that was used on Esther and the parallel with its use on Jesus and how it is a metaphor for the purification process of repentance that any Christian who hopes to meet the King must experience.  Can you smell the fragrance of repentance right now?  He also explains how frankincense is another herb that was used on Esther during the second six months of her preparation process and how it only releases its fragrance when burned.  Again his statement, “Sometimes worship releases its sweetest fragrance when offered from the fires of trial and adversity,” illustrates the metaphorical fragrance of repentance.

 

If you haven’t become just the tiniest bit interested about this book, yet, just know it keeps getting better.

 

I’m going to share the study questions with you for Chapter 1 & 2 (see the following page) if you are joining from the web so that you can share your thoughts during the week as we read and reflect.  I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I have and am again.

 

In closing for now, I would like to share this prayer with you:

           

LORD,

 

We pray that you will help us to more fully understand what your purpose is for each of us so we may begin to truly live.  We want to thank you in advance for the gift of time each day that you are granting us to read, write, and reflect on your words, your story, and your message that speaks to our individual hearts.  Thank you, LORD, for giving us this opportunity to come together and share your love. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

 

Finding Favor with the King  

(from godchasers.net)

Study Guide: Chapter  1 – From Peasant to Princess

What a Difference a Day Makes

  1. Do you have a “fascination with transformation“?  Are you irresistibly interested in rags-to-riches stories and peasant-to-princess sagas?   Why?
  2. On page 14, Tenney reveals that the Book of Esther reveals “the way God overcomes human weakness and failure to elevate our position and rank all the way to His throne room.”  Do you feel this could really apply to your life? (Explain your answer, but do not change it.  Use it as a marker of the heart.  The Scriptural revelation in this book will confirm your answer or demonstrate a truth you need to embrace.)
  3. What makes people who do not know Jesus “incompatible with the glory of the King”?  How can any of us become compatible with divine royalty?
  4. Whether you are married or currently single, what went through your mind and heart when you read, “It costs you something to prepare for the single most significant day of your life“?  Admittedly, some people make their marriage ceremony somewhat of a joke or fast-service formality…could this possibly say something about the depth of their commitment to one another?
  5. Do you believe repentance (pictured in Esther’s six-month cleansing in baths of myrrh) is important in the Christian life?  Is it a one-time act, or a life-long process of transformation for you?

 

Chapter  2 – The King or the Kingdom?

The Palace or His Presence

  1. Whatever impresses you attracts you, and whatever you pursue becomes your purpose.  What impresses you the most?  What are you really pursuing in this season of your life?
  2. Think about your church life for a moment: Do you attend church primarily for the social benefits, friends, music, or peace of mind it brings?  Or, do you go to celebrate and worship God with your friends, through music, while focused your thoughts and affections on Him?  (If honesty forces you to lean toward the first list, understand that those things are not “bad.”  However, it is better to seek the King first over the benefits of His house.)  Journal your thoughts concerning these questions and thinking points.
  3. “You can find God in some of the most interesting places.”  Describe an interesting “God place” or divine encounter in your own life or in the life of someone you know.
  4. “One day of favor can be worth more than a lifetime of labor.”  How may this principle apply to your life?
  5. Esther realized that without the king, the king’s place was just a big empty house.  Imagine “church” without God’s presence for a moment, and describe your feelings about investing your time attending meetings in such a place.

NOTE: If you would like to view only the posts specific to the Tommy Tenney Study, please select “Tommy Tenney” under the “Categories” heading (in the column on the right side of your screen).

 

posted by Bonny

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Esther: Week 1

January 13, 2009

UPDATED LINK:

This is the link for the Introduction. When you click on the word “Introduction” it will open a new window with the download instructions. Click on “WMV” (to the left of the question mark) to launch the video. This video is only available for members of this Bible Study. You will need the Member book.

We will meet again for discussion at 6:30pm, January 21st. We’ll watch the Session I video at 7pm.

Please post your comments/thoughts about this week’s video, or any of the week’s study. That is the purpose of this forum.

If you would like to view only the posts specific to the Beth Moore Study, please select “Beth Moore” under the “Categories” heading (in the column on the right side of your screen).

Peace,

posted by Fran

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Christ Episcopal Church: Woman to Woman in Christ

January 12, 2009

This blog is an outreach of the Women’s Ministry at Christ Episcopal Church. There are two studies on Esther beginning Wednesday, January 14th @ 7 p.m. Fellowship begins at 6:30 p.m.

If you are not able to join us at the CEC facility, you will still be able to participate. Choose your study below:

Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman, by Beth Moore

Finding Favor with the King, by Tommy Tenney