Advent Bible Study Review Week 4: LOVE

It’s been a super crazy day! Thank y’all for being patient with me in getting the post up!

Today we are reviewing our final week of Advent! I can’t believe we have come to the end of our bible study. I don’t know about you, but I really have loved doing this and I know that I will definitely do it again next year.

Day one, God Loved, God Gave.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17

God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins. We all are so familiar with verse 16, but like our book said, “many people would find greater comfort if they read John 3:16-17 together. Jesus is reassuring us that God’s motives are good. His motive isn’t to judge, but to save us through His son. After Adam and Eve sinned, God could’ve said, “oh well” and went about His ways. But instead, He made a way for us to be saved. All because of His great love for you and me.

Day two, Love Was God’s Idea.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12)

“God is the author of order, not chaos, and the sending of His Son into the world was not an act of random happenstance. God planned it from the beginning of time; it is rooted in His loving and unchanging character.”

On page 112 it talked about the two reasons that God sent His Son. He sent His Son for the purpose of satisfying the penalty for sin, but in 1 John 4:9-10 it says that it was also because He loved us.

I also loved how it reminded us that God’s love isn’t passive love. We don’t receive it once and that’s it. His love is forever.

Day three, Love is Action.

God’s love was shown through the action of sending his Son, Jesus. He laid his life for us so that we could be saved. There is. no action greater than that.

Day four, Christ’s Love Compels Us.

Once we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of our lives, the Holy Spirit lives in us and we are made new. Also, Jesus dying on the cross gave us direct access to Him. We don’t have to go through a priest to talk to Him. We can talk to Him wherever we are and whenever we want.

As a new creation, we are told to go out and make disciples. Because we have received His love, we are to share it with others. This week was big on this. Ask God to place someone on your heart that needs to hear the good news.

Day five, The Wonder of His Love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)

What if we saw Jesus’ birth with the same sense of wonder as the shepherds and wisem men did? The last couple of weeks, Advent has helped me really think about that moment and how amazing it must have been. Can you imagine?

I’m just speechless and in awe thinking about it. And it gives me chills to think that all of that happened because of God’s love for us.

I don’t know if you’ve ever received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, but I can’t end this study without sharing this with you. God sent His son to die on the cross for you. He loved you that much. You, too, can have eternal life with Him by receiving Him as your savior. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are lost without Him and destined for a life apart from Him. Heaven is real and He wants you there. But He’s not going to make you. He gives you the choice.

If you want to know more or if you would like to receive Jesus today, contact me. You can comment below or email me at don’tlookbackbabe@gmail.com. I would love to talk to you more about it.

The last four weeks have been so good for me. It has truly been exactly what I’ve needed. I shared that Christmas, for me, is always a time of stress and dread. I focus on all the things that the world offers instead of focusing on the ultimate gift which is Jesus. I hope these weeks have also helped you and encouraged you.

Thank y’all for doing this with me!

XO

Advent Bible Study Review of Week 3: JOY

Happy Monday, friends!! One more week of school and then we are out for Christmas break!

Today I am reviewing week 3 of our Advent study. I can’t believe we are starting our final week. It’s been such a good study for me personally. I hope it has for you, too.

This week we studied about the source of joy and how we can have joy in every circumstance that life throws our way. We also learned how we can be bearers of joy through service and our lives.

Day One, Joy In Our Shepherd’s Care, began with taking about unmet expectations. I particularly loved the following quote that said,

Expectations can be an idol, and joy is not based on my circumstances but in the choice to live in God’s extravagant grace.”

Have you ever had a time when you experienced unmet expectations? How did you respond?

I know for me, I like to have a plan for everything. So when my expectations are not met, it throws me for a loop. I can let my emotions get in the way and ruin an entire day if I’m not careful.

I’m sure Mary and Joseph had so many expectations of how life would be. Never did they imagine that she would be giving birth to Jesus. Yet, Mary and Joseph both, chose to trust and walk in the Lord’s plans for their lives.

You may be in the middle of a difficult season with unmet expectations and unfilled desires. But the Bible tells us that we can have joy in midst of all of that.

Psalm 23 tells us that we have a Shepherd caring for us every step of the way.

We can choose to be a joy-giver and not a joy-taker. I really loved the descriptions on our book of these two.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a joy-giver!

“A joy-giver is confident in the Lord, content, likes being around positive people, seeks to be obedient to the Lord, enjoys celebrations, and rests in the Lord’s plan for her life.”

“A joy-taker exhibits self-pity, focuses on comparison, is a complainer, is a negative influence, is overcommitted, and is even constantly exhausted.”

Day two, Joy May Come Through Suffering, is pretty self explanatory. Our culture today believes that if we do the right thing, we will earn a comfortable life. But if we do the wrong thing, we’ll earn a life of suffering.

“In the upside-down way of the kingdom, though, suffering isn’t merely a form of punishment reserved for the disobedient. In fact, Scripture is clear that the obedient will suffer, and that their suffering is actually a sign of their status as children of God.”

Even Jesus suffered. Being God’s son didn’t disqualify him from going through hard times. He is the High Priest who is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” because being tempted in every way, He never sinned.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Day three, Serve With God, we all know Matthew 20:28 that says that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.

We are called to serve and love others. Yesterday our pastor said it best, Christmas is about Jesus and people.

How can we serve those around us? Let’s pray every day for God to send us opportunities to show the attitude of Christ even in the inconveniences of our days.

Day four, Joy Comes in the Presence of Jesus.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

David found fullness of joy in the only place it can be truly found-with God.

There is no joy apart from Christ. God knew this and that is why He sent us His son so that we could experience eternal joy with Him.

“Choosing to find joy in Christ and not in what the world offers can be hard. Hurrying off to spend time in His presence when the world is full of so many appealing distractions is challenging.”

Just as Martha chose the good portion, we should do the same. Don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle. Take time to spend time in His presence every day.

Day five, Joy is Contagious, reminded us that when we are joyful we can’t help but share our joy with others.

This season and every season, let’s be joy-givers. How can we experience more joy ourselves and also give more joy to others?

And that’s this week’s review! I hope you have a wonderful day. This week we are studying about love. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.

XO

Advent Bible Study Review of Week 2: PEACE

Good morning!

I hope you all had a great weekend! If you are following along with our Advent Study, today we are reviewing week 2.

And just in case you missed last week’s post:

Advent Bible Study Review Week 1: HOPE

Let’s get started!

This week we talked all about the Prince of Peace and how we can wait for the second Advent with hope and peace.

“No one needs to be convinced of our need for peace. Wars, natural disasters, political unrest, violence, prejudice, famine, and disease plague us, just to name a few headlines. Each of us has inner battles as well. We’re fighting chaos of different kinds internally–sins, temptations, fears. The world can seem very dark.” (p.39)

This bible study was written last year, but how true is that quote today? 2020 has definitely not been a year of peace for many.

Day one, Peace with God, reminds us that at the beginning of time there was peace. Peace meant being near to God. God walked with His people in the garden and all was as it was meant to be.

But as we talked about last week in Genesis 3, “peace with God and unrestricted access to His presence were interrupted when Adam and Eve sinned and were sent away from the garden of Eden.” (p.43)

And today, we are in that same place they were. We are also separated from God because of sin and do not have peace with Him. Romans 3:23 says that we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And in Romans 6:23 it says, that the the wages, the punishment or right payment of sin is death. But God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus. God made a way for His people to be near to him again and experience the peace that only He can give.

Before Jesus came to earth, God met with His people through a High Priest. “Sin was confessed and sacrifices were made. God sought to give his people peace with Him as they trusted Him to keep His promise to send a Messiah. The Messiah would make all things right again and restore peace throughout the earth.” (p.44)

Because Jesus came to earth and died for our sins, we have direct access to God’s presence and the peace that He gives. If you’ve received Christ as your Savior, you have peace with God. And that peace isn’t the peace that the world gives. It’s God’s peace, His presence in our lives. His peace doesn’t change with our feelings and circumstances, it isn’t temporary. “God is peace, and He is unchanging and unmoving.” (p.46)

Day two, Peace in God, reminds us that even in hard times, we can have peace in God. Walking through tragedy and disappointing seasons of life, it can be hard to feel God’s peace.

Have you found yourself holding your breath or pushing through hard seasons without peace? How would your circumstances or day-to-day living look different if you were experiencing the peace of God?

God promises peace to us all throughout the pages of scriptures. When we can’t feel God’s peace, it’s important to go to His word and remind ourselves of His promise.

Romans 5:1 says,

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Because God sent His son to earth and He died and rose again, we have been justified, declared righteous in His sight when we place our faith in Jesus. We belong to Him. We are His. And because we are His children, we can have peace no matter what trials come our way.

God’s promise of peace is for all of those who have placed their faith in Jesus. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with our situation and feel like His promise isn’t meant for us.

“When I doubt God’s promise of peace, I know it’s because I’m trying to walk through a situation in my own strength. And if I’m honest, the “peace” I often seek is a solution to my difficult circumstances, not a quiet heart in the midst of the storm. But God’s peace is more about the promise of His ultimate victory through Christ. It’s so much bigger than my circumstances. I can have peace in waiting, knowing that God already has the victory.”

John 16:33 reminds us that we will have trouble and suffering, but we can have peace because He has conquered the world.

Christ conquered death. He has victory over all those things that worry us. He is in control, and He is working for our good. Romans 8:28 reminds us of this promise.

How do we embrace the promise of peace in God? By fully trusting in God. By being completely dependent on Him to provide for us and walk through this crazy life with us.

Isaiah 26:3 says,

You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.

We must surrender to Him. Give Him all of our worries and pain. Throughout the Bible it reminds us to bring our cares to Him because He cares for us. His Word tells us to present our requests in prayer with thanksgiving and to pray constantly.

There is nothing too big or too small to bring to Jesus. He wants us to boldly bring our requests to Him. Our doubts and fears don’t scare Him. He can handle our pain, our burdens, frustrations and hardships. We are messy and difficult, but He can handle all of it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)

This season and every season, bring all of your worries to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to help you trust in Him and experience the peace He promises throughout His Word.

Day three, Peace on Earth, We read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. You can read it in Luke 1:5-25. Zechariah was well along his years as the bible says. He was a priest married to Elizabeth and they didn’t have children. The Angel appears and tells Zechariah that his prayers have been heard and his wife was going to have a son and he would be named John. “God broke His silence with news that He was paving a way for all of His people to have peace earth and peace with Him” (p.52)

Luke 1:26-38 tells us of the Angel, Gabriel appearing to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was young, probably between twelve and fourteen. The Angel tells her to not be afraid and that she is highly favored. He tells her that she will conceive and bear a son and He will be named Jesus.

There are so many lessons in this passage, we could unpack so many things but the one main thing I took from this is that nothing is impossible for God. And that Mary was willing to allow God’s will to be fulfilled through Her.

The Angel also appears to Joseph and tells him what’s going on. He tells him to not be afraid, this all seems crazy but Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit and she is going to give birth to a son named Jesus who is going to save people from their sins. His name will be Immanuel which means God with us.

“All of these angelic messages boil down to this: The great Rescuer, the One who will save people from their sins? He is now with us. The silence is broken! Peace has arrived!” (p.54)

Just as God used the Angel to break the silence, He wants us to do the same. He wants us to share the Good News with those around us.

How can we break our silence and share the news about our great Rescuer with those who don’t know Him?

Day four, Peace, God’s Gift to You, reminds us that God’s peace is given to us. It’s not something we have to try to attain or achieve, it’s a gift. Peace is one of the fruits of the spirit. It’s given to us when we trust Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and receive His Holy Spirit. “One of the manifestations of the Spirit in us is peace (Gal.5:22-23). (p.57)

John 14:27 says,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

God doesn’t give as the world gives. All of those things that we are looking to to fill our needs and our void they return to us empty. God’s word will never return void. It will always accomplish what God desires. His promises are not empty promises.

Whatever you are going through, whatever is keeping you up at night, take it to Jesus. Trust in Him. Ask God to overwhelm you with His peace today. It’s His gift to you.

Day five, Becoming a Peacemaker, reminds us that Jesus came to earth to bring peace to a chaotic world. He gave us peace with God and peace with others through the Father.

Jesus doesn’t just give peace; He is peace. It’s because He shed His blood on the cross that we can be at peace with God.” (p.60)

God gives us His peace so that we can have peace with ourselves, but also with others. I wrote about experiencing the peace within us a couple of years ago. You can read the post, here.

I love the way pg. 60 says, that “being a peacemaker doesn’t mean being a doormat and steering clear of conflict. A peacemaker is someone who is actively seeking to reconcile people to God and to one another. Peacemakers show grace and look for goodness. When they walk into a room they bring with them the sense of calmness, love, mercy, wisdom and patient. Peacemakers glorify God and exemplify His character. They mediate disputes, improve understanding, and seek reconciliation. Peacemakers bring unity:”

Colossians 3:15 says,

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Now that will preach!

We are all different. We will disagree with each other and that is totally OK to do respectfully. But as followers of Christ, we shouldn’t let those differences in opinions cause us to sin. A verse that I remind my kids of a lot, but also remind myself of is Romans 12:18 which says, that “if possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Paul is telling us if possible and as far as it depends on us, we have the responsibility to live at peace with everyone. Peace isn’t always possible. We can choose to live at peace with someone, but if they do not want to do the same, unity is not possible. And the Bible says that’s ok. I believe that’s when boundaries come in. But that’s a lesson for another day.

Because of the sacrifice of our Savior, we are a new creation in Christ and no longer are we separated from God. His peace is given freely to us and we can be at peace with ourselves and those around us.

How can you be a peacemaker in your world today?

This was such a good week. So needed for me as I found myself being overwhelmed with the busyness of the season and asking for peace on the daily.

I hope that you were encouraged this week. If you have any questions or anything you want to discuss, feel free to comment below or shoot me a text/email like some of you have done!

Thank you for joining me! I hope you have the BEST day. May you feel His peace all day!

XO

Advent Bible Study Review of Week 1: HOPE

Morning, girls!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving week and that your Monday is going great! I was a little sad to send my kiddos back to school today. I loved having them home this week. I am definitely ready for Christmas break!

If you are following along during Advent, today we are reviewing week one. This week also reminded me of an old post I wrote last year about being in a waiting season of life. Click here to read it.

Alright, let’s get started!

Week one was all about hope.

Day one talks about waiting with hope. We started off reading Genesis 3, a story we all know well. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge annnnnd we all know what happens next. Sin came into the world and we were separated from God.

Advent means “the arrival.” During this season we remember what it was like to wait for Jesus. Did you know that God’s people waited for 400 years? I don’t know why that number just surprised me when I read it. I cannot fathom waiting for something for that long. It literally blows my mind.

When Adam and Eve ate from the tree, the 400 years began. Something that I found interesting was that when Eve had Cain, scholars believe that Adam and Eve thought he was the deliverer who would defeat the serpent that God promised in Genesis 3:15 (p.14). Can you imagine the disappointment when they realized their deliverance wasn’t coming through Cain? As the book says, their hope was deferred. How many more times would their hope be deferred? Many, I’m sure.

It makes me think about my personal waiting seasons of my life and how many times my hope was deferred. I know that I’m not the only person with hopes and dreams that seem unfulfilled right now. We are all waiting for something. And when we are in a waiting season, it can be hard to see God’s love for us especially when we feel like we can’t see Him working in our lives. Waiting seasons often make us feel like God isn’t near, like He’s pushed us aside and forgotten about us.

I love the quote share on pg. 16 by A. W. Pink that says,

“Though you cannot now harmonize God’s mysterious dealings with the avowals of His love, wait on him for more light. In His own good time He will make it plain to you.”

Our book puts it perfectly,

“In seasons of waiting, even if you can’t see it, God is working on your behalf. He is formning you into His image. He loves you, and He wants you to know Him more intimately. Though it’s challenging, let’s allow these seasons of waiting to strengthen our faith and fuel our hope in the coming Savior.”

Day two is all about having hope in the unexpected.

Isaiah 55:8 says,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

Plain and simple, we are not God. We were made in His image, but we are not God.

“Where we have partial or limited information in any given situation, God has complete understanding and is always working with the full scope of the facts. He knows what we don’t know, He sees what we can’t see. He takes into account things we never knew were there.”

Jesus works in unexpected ways and we have to trust that His ways are better than ours. I know that it’s easier said than done. Especially for someone as impatient as me, but I have to remind myself that He is working things out for my good. If He says wait, then I wait. If He says go, then I go.

In what area of your life have you forgotten that the God you serve is the God of the unexpected? How can you remind yourself of this truth? And what unwelcome or unexpected circumstances do you need to surrender to God fully, trusting that His ways are higher? (p.18)

Because of sin entering the world, we were in need of a Savior. And we see during the waiting period how His people turned their backs from Him. They gave up. Probably tried to do it themselves.

But I love what’s written on p.29,

Basically that if left to us, we would’ve tried to bring ourselves back to God in a million different wrong ways. But Jesus came to reconcile us to God through His sacrifice which was dying on the cross for you and for me.

“After all, it doesn’t seem like blood would make a person clean. Nor does it seem logical that wounds would heal or that death would produce life. yet this is the case with the Gospel–God, in His higher and heavenly wisdom made a plan to bring lost children back to Himself in a way that would turn all human expectations upside down. Instead of letting us be trampled for our treachery, Jesus came into our world, born as one of us, died on the cross, and took the trampling for us. There was simply no other way to reconcile us to God.”

And that is the Gospel. And that is why we can place our hope in the unexpected.

Day three was about praying with hope. Because Jesus died for us, we have direct access to God. We don’t need an in between person to take our prayers to Him. He hears us right where we are. He came to earth and lived like one of us. He knows the suffering and pain and temptation that we endure because He endured it Himself, yet was without sin. (p.23). Think about His life. He was betrayed, persecuted, mocked, ridiculed…yet never once did He speak up to defend Himself.

Instead He cried out to His Father. And because He died on that cross, we can do the same. In moments of hopelessness. In moments when we are mocked, ridiculed, betrayed, we can go directly to our Father.

He meets us right where we are. We can pray bold prayers. We can take Him at His Word. Because the Bible says that His Word will not return void. It will always fulfill its purpose in our lives.

“God is faithful to meet us at our point of need; He never leaves us empty-handed. His grace and mercy are abundant and present, no matter what.

Day four we read about Hope in the silence. All God’s people heard for four hundred years was silence. Can you imagine? Maybe you feel like God is silent in your life right now…don’t lose hope.

It’s in those times that God is working in ways that we can’t see or understand. A lot happened during the four hundred years before Jesus’ birth. A lot changed. Hope and faith were low and they were convinced that they only thing that could save them was the Messiah.

“God, in His supreme wisdom, had the world primed for the Messiah. After years of not hearing from God, the Hebrew people were set up for the Word to come alive.”

Literally come alive. That just gives me chills to think about!

God was still working during all of those years. He was preparing His people for the Messiah. He was at work even when it seemed like nothing was happening.

In times of silence, we can be strong and courageous. Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us that the Lord our God is the one that goes with us and He will never leave us or abandon us.

John Piper wrote,

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”

I promise that in God’s time, His purposes and plans will be fulfilled. Don’t lose hope.

Day five concludes with The light of Hope. After not hearing from God for four hundred years, His people experienced a lot of uncertainty and confusion. They needed hope and in Isaiah 9:2 they are told of a great light that would be coming. Isaiah’s prophecies were messages of hope for the coming of a light. And that light is Jesus.

Jesus said in John 8:12 that He is the light of the world and that anyone that follows Him will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

And just like Jesus is the light, we can also be the light to those around us. Many times we feel incapable or not equipped to share the Gospel, but the truth is we are most definitely capable and equipped.

Yesterday at church our pastor reminded us that people don’t care about what we know, they just want to know that we care. We can make a difference right where we are. Right where God has us.

God didn’t use perfect people. He used the most imperfect ones. The ordinary ones. A prostitute and a murder he used. Don’t think for a moment that He can’t use you.

You can be a bearer of hope for people.

This week was so good. I really soaked it all in and even this morning when we met, there was more that God showed me. I would love to know what impacted you the most this week.

This week we are talking about Peace. Feel free to answer any of the following questions in the comments!

What from last week’s personal study was particularly impactful for you?

What do you think of when you hear the word peace? A lack of conflict, chaos, and confusion? A feeling of serenity or stillness?

We live in a world fraught with tragedy. Do you think it’s even possible to have peace in this day and age, when things seem so out of control?

In 2 Thessalonians 3:16, Paul wrote, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way” (NIV). Does knowing peace is available to you at all times change your view or what peace is?

As you close in prayer, ask God for a fresh perspective of His gift of peace. Pray for those in a particularly turbulent time, for God to grant them His peace that passes all understanding. 

Thank y’all for reading! I hope your Monday is going GREAT!

XO

Advent Bible Study Week 1

***This post was supposed to go live this morning, but I’ve been having some crazy technical difficulties. My video I did this morning isn’t uploading and then my blog wouldn’t upload either. Ugh. It’s not wanting to cooperate at the moment so I decided to go ahead and publish this post. Keep an eye out on my Instagram for the video. It’s been uploading for a couple of hours so maybe at some point it will finally post.***

Good morning!

I am so excited to start this study and I’m happy that you’ve decided to join me. Whether you are joining me virtually or in person, I pray that your hearts will be prepared for this season of Advent. I pray that whatever season you find yourself in, that God will renew your hope and faith in Him.

Each week includes an introduction, five days of personal study, activities to do with kids, teens or friends and family and group discussion questions that we will go over each week.

On Mondays, I’ll write a recap of the week, make a short video and include the group discussion questions on the post. I encourage you to to answer the questions you feel comfortable answering in the comments each week. If you are local, we will discuss the questions in person, but I encourage you to comment on the post as well to hopefully create a discussion with the ladies joining us virtually.

This is the first time I’ve ever done an Advent Bible Study. To be honest, I never really thought about Advent until this year. So I had to look up what it meant and why it was celebrated.

Advent means arrival. And it’s where we remember how God’s people waited for the promise of the coming Messiah.

Traditionally, it begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and goes until Christmas Day. There’s a guide in our book on page 142 if you want to do it with your family. Each week it tells a different part of the Christmas story leading up to the birth of Christ.

Below are this week’s discussion questions. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below.

Group Discussion Questions

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?

Are you familiar with Advent? Did your celebrate it growing up? Do you celebrate it now?

During Advent we remember how God’s people waited for the promise of the coming Messiah. When have you experienced a long season of waiting? What emotions did you fell during that time? Anticipation? Impatience?

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Describe a time when your hope was deferred. What did God teach your through that experience?

I’ve posted a short video recap and prayer on Instagram, today. You can watch it here once it uploads, But other than that, I am so excited that you are joining me!

I hope you have a GREAT Monday, friends!

XO

Trying Out Something New

Hi everyone! My blog post is super late today, but I guess better late than never right?!

I am so thankful for all of you who take the time to read my posts. I truly feel like this is what God has called me to do and I am trying my best to be consistent with it.

I’m not worried about my little blog going “viral,” honestly I’m just being obedient to what I feel God is calling me to do.

I love to encourage and empower women to live a life of freedom through Jesus Christ. And I also love to share my stories and struggles in hopes that it will encourage others.

So thank you so much for following along. Also thank you to those that have texted or messaged me when something I’ve written has encouraged you. This means more than you know.

Today I recorded a video to prepare for our upcoming Bible study. I shared all about it yesterday and you can click here to read the post.

I’ll be posting weekly recaps and thought it would be better on video than written.

So here’s a short little clip!!

I hope you’ll join me!

Have a GREAT Tuesday, girls!

XO

Advent Bible Study: Do You Want To Join Me?

A week or so ago, I shared on my Instagram stories that I was going to do this bible study during the Advent season and asked if anyone would be interested in doing it with me. A couple of you said yes and went ahead and bought the book. I am really looking forward to this!

I love hosting bible studies. I love teaching and encouraging women to see God for who He is. It is truly my passion and I believe it is my calling.

Advent traditionally starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas and goes until Christmas Day. I am going to start a week early so that we are finished the week before Christmas. I know how busy it can get during that final week!

We will start on Monday, November 23rd and end on Monday, December 21st. For the local ladies, I am happy to meet with those that feel comfortable meeting at our local coffee shop at 9:30 am. We will meet for about an hour. But for those that are not local, I am planning on doing either a pre-recorded video or maybe a live stream along with a blogpost where you can comment and interact with one another.

To be honest, I’ve never really celebrated Advent and haven’t looked too much into it until this year. But after the year it’s been, I just felt led to truly get into the Christmas spirit this year. It does not come easy for me, I have a tendency to stress about all the gifts I have to buy, gatherings I have to attend or plan, making sure my kids get what they ask while staying under budget. December is also our anniversary and we normally travel somewhere to celebrate so I stress about getting it done before we leave or when we get back.

Stress is the name of the game for me in December and to be honest I’m over it. I’m done letting the standards of this world steal the joy, peace, hope and love that this season represents.

And I couldn’t think of a better way to focus on the true reason for this season, than to study God’s word together.

If you are interested, click here and order the book this week and follow me on instagram.

I’m looking forward to this, girls!

I hope y’all have a GREAT Monday!!

XO

Be a Good Friend Mags: Session Five

Good morning ladies!

I normally try to kick off the week with a video post, but that is not going to happen.  Let me give you five words….Kids are out of school. Ha!  Everytime I tried to start the video there was a scream or a fight beginning between the kids and then I would hear a “MOMMMMMMM!!!!!!”  So I gave in and decided to write a post instead.  The screaming and “Moooommmmmms!” are still happening, but at least now you can’t hear them. Let’s just say all electronics have been taken away and they are in their rooms indefinitely!

I really do enjoy my kiddos being home.  This morning was so amazing.  We turned the fireplace on and the girls played nicely while I read and watched session five’s video.  But then they turned into evil monsters and decided they were going to hate each other for a couple of hours.

But such is life with kids right?

Enough about that, let’s kick off session five!

I am so excited for this week.  I always struggled in the friendship department.  For years, I would beg God to give me a friend.  A person who I could hang out with, be close with, do life with.  I went through a very lonely season a couple of years ago.  I didn’t really have any close friends and I remember dropping Mary off at Pre-K one morning and crying the whole way home.  I specifically remember asking God to help me be ok with being alone in the girlfriend department.  I remember repeating through my tears, all the way home, “You are enough, You are enough for me God.”

And that season lasted a couple of years, but God truly worked in my life, teaching me to enjoy my husband and my children.

But as women, we all need our girlfriends.

In the last couple of years, God has brought some pretty amazing women into my life.  For years I tried to force friendships.  I would put up a front and pretend like I loved everything you loved because then I felt like you would think I was the best person in the world ha!  If you loved pink, I loved pink.  If you loved to craft, I loved to craft.  Newsflash…..Maggie IS NOT crafty!

During that lonely season, God taught me to be ok with me.  He taught me to be happy with the life He blessed me with and be content with what I had.  It took many years, many tough lessons, but I finally learned to be content.  Now that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with contentment, because one of my biggest struggles is comparison and jealousy.

I loved Melanie’s video and I took a lot from it.  It is so important to have friends.  People in our lives who we can relate to and feel normal around.  People who know the real us and still love us.

God places people in our lives on purpose.  Just like He brought David and Jonathan together, He does the same in our friendships.  I loved how she made mention that Jonathan not only chose David over his father, He chose David over himself!  Wow!  In this season of life, God is really teaching me to be selfless in my relationships.  As a wife, mom and friend.

Being loyal and trustworthy is so important when it comes to friendships.  We’ve all been burned.  Even Jesus was hurt by one of His disciples.  He knew what it felt like to be betrayed.  I’ve been there too.  This is why I kept that wall up for years.  When I would feel myself getting close with someone, I would sabotage the friendship because I had been hurt so many times. In the last couple of years, God has challenged me to work past this and has allowed me to have some pretty amazing frienships.

Our friendships should be a safe place.  We should love our friends as we love ourself.  This being said, Melanie talked about comparison and jealousy.  We all are unique, we have our own gifts and we are walking our own journey. But with social media these days, it’s so hard to not compare our lives with others.  Melanie says, “And I know for me I never get more distracted than when I start looking at somebody else’s life and what they’re doing.”

Isn’t that the truth?  We can be going about our day so happy with life and what God has given us.  But then with a tap of our finger and a scroll through Facebook we can go from content and happy to thinking we are the worst wife, mom, friend ever.  Why?  Because we compare ourselves with the best version of others.  All while not knowing what they are battling because you better believe they have struggles.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side…this is something that has taken me years to learn.  We are all human.  Life isn’t perfect no matter how perfect it appears.  We have struggles and hardships.  Every single one of us.

Theodore Roosevelt said it well when he said, Comparison is the thief of joy.

Ladies, do you want to know when I am the happiest?  When I am not worried about what everyone else is doing and I am focused on walking my road.  When I set a limit on my social media time. When I invest in the people around me.  When I try to bless others and make someone else’s day better.  When I focus on my home and getting things done. This is when I’m the happiest.

We all want to know the secret of being happy.  We are constantly reading books about being happy and not comparing ourselves with others but it is simple.  Look to what God gives you.  Walk your walk.  Be happy for others.  Realize that your friends’ successes take nothing away from yours.  You are you.  Focus on what God has given you and realize that the life you are living right now, is the life God intended you to live.  He wants you to be happy with what you have.  Look around, name your blessings, thank God for those blessings and be happy for others.

And lastly, our true friends should strengthen our grip on God.  Melanie says that friends are small everyday miracles that God gives us.  Every person in our life is in our life for a reason.  We need friends who are also walking close with God.  Friends who are like-minded and will encourage us and pray for us.  Friends we can do life with.  Girlfriends that will cry with us, laugh with us, rejoice with us.  Friends who will be there for us no matter the time of day.  Friends who show us the love of God through their actions.

You know…God has taught me so much in the last couple of weeks.  But one thing He is teaching me currently is that He restores.  We learned last week that nothing is too far gone for Him.  He heals us and uses the broken pieces of our life and makes us whole again.  He can do this for you and for that relationship you’ve given up on.

There is nothing more beautiful than letting God work in our lives and our relationships with others.  Nothing, absolutely nothing is too far gone for God.  Maybe you need Him to restore a relationship in your life.  Ask Him to help you.  You may find out that He wants you to work on you first.  This is what happened to me. Maybe there’s something in your life that prevents you from being a good friend.  Like me, you may struggle with comparison and jealousy.  Ask God to heal your heart.  Ask Him to help you be content with the life He has blessed you with.

What is God revealing to you about your friendships?

Dear God, I ask that you will be with us this week as we talk about friendships.  You show us throughout the Bible how important it is to have people in our inner circle.  People who will pray for us and encourage us, but that will also challenge us.  Lord I ask that you will help us look at our frienships and reveal to us what you want us to see.  Help us be better friends to those around us.  Whatever our struggle may be that seems to sabotage our relationships, I pray that in Jesus name you take it out of our life.  Help us focus on the race you have set before us.  The journey you are having us walk.  Help us stay focused on the blessings in our life so that we can be happy for others.  Help us be genuine, intentional and happy for others’ successes.  Thank you Jesus for being the perfect example of what it is to be a friend.  There is no friend like you.  Help us be more like you.  In Jesus name…

-Maggie

A Word Fitly Spoken: Session Three

Session three!  We are halfway there ladies.

Last week was very encouraging…this week is very convicting ha!

In all seriousness though, this week is something that I struggle with…my mouth!  Am I alone here?  I hope not.  I am one who speaks before thinking and then feels awful about what I said.

I have asked God to do a mighty work in my life.  I have characteristics that I’ve settled with.  I’ve basically said, “well this is who I am and I’m never going to change.”  But in reality, it’s because I’m still hanging on to those characteristics.  I haven’t given them to God.  I want control and I have a hard time letting go of it.

So this week I am asking God to help me think before I speak.  To remind me that the words that come out of my mouth our powerful.  It’s hard for me to write this post y’all.  It’s hard because this is not a strength of mine.  This is probably one of my biggest weaknesses.  But I am believing that God will work in my life this week.  I am asking Him to help me be more aware of my words before they come out of my mouth.

Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  

This verse reminds me that I must store up good in my heart.  I must fill my heart with things of God.  It is so important for me to read His word, to go to church, to surround myself with like-minded people.  Not because this saves me or is the reason that I will go to heaven.  Not at all.  It’s important because I need it.  Because it encourages me and keeps me accountable.  His word is a reminder of what I want to be.

Our words are powerful.  They have the potential to ruin lives, relationships.  Just as our words affect others, the words spoken to us do the same.  How have words spoken to us affected our lives?  I love what Melanie said about not letting the rest of our lives be determined by words that were spoken to us in the past.  Whatever words you are believing in your life right now, rebuke them.  Rebuke them in His name and ask Jesus to fill you up with His Words.  You are worthy, you are beautiful.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are worth His life.  He died for you.  You can do all things through Him.

Don’t let past words determine your future.

I think about my childhood and how I was affected by words.  And it makes me think about my kids and how quick I am to say negative things to them.  Who else is going to encourage them if not me?  My words should uplift, encourage.  The same goes with my spouse.  How often I am quick to shoot out negative words?

I am praying that God will help me start within the walls of my home.  I want to be a safe haven for my children.  I want them to know that I am proud of them no matter what.  I want them to feel loved and accepted.  I don’t want them to have to look for that somewhere else.  They are at such a crucial time in their lives.

Goodness…this is a tough subject.  But one that is much-needed.  I am thankful for this conviction and reminder.  If you want to watch my video recap, you can visit my Facebook page here.

I am praying for all of us this week.  May we be an encourager to those around us!

-Maggie

 

We are Created for a Reason: Session Two

Good morning everyone!  I am so thankful for this week.  This video session spoke so much truth to my heart.  If you have not watched it, go watch it now.  If you didn’t sign up for the study, you can watch it too.  Let me know and I’ll send you the link.

I don’t even know where to begin.  Everything Melanie talked about resonated with me.  I love how she reminded us that we are God’s masterpiece.  He made us carefully and thoughtfully.  We each have a purpose in this life.  If you are alive and breathing, there is a reason you are still here.

We go through life wondering if we are significant, wanting to be accepted.  We spend our time looking for meaning and purpose in all the wrong things when we know that Jesus is the “thing” that fills us up.  All the other things only bring temporary fullness.  But with Jesus we are eternally full.

But life is hard.  And finding acceptance in the worldly things brings us instant pleasure.  Sometimes filling up on Jesus means being patient and going through hardships.  It’s not easy to choose Him over things that bring us instant gratification.  I know I’m guilty of it daily.  It requires discipline.

Sometimes it means going through a period of time where we find ourselves in the “pastures” of life.  Seasons where we feel lonely, forgotten and insignificant. Those lessons are some of the hardest.  Those seasons are tough.

Melanie talked about how God sometimes teaches us the biggest lessons through obscurity.  I looked up the word obscurity and it means unknown, unimportant.  How often do we go through life wondering if anyone even notices the things we do?  As moms, I know, this is big.  We do so much for everyone and at times it can be exhausting.  We go through life making sure all of our children’s needs are met.  Wondering at the same time if we are even doing a good job.  We have different things pulling for our attention every day.  Work, bills, laundry, lunches, homework, deadlines…

But friend, God sees you.  He sees you in those hard, lonely times.  When you feel lonely, unworthy and like you can’t measure up.  He sees you trying your best to balance work and home life.  God sees us even when the world has forgotten us.  And it’s in those seasons when God is preparing us for the big things in life.

God called David to be king.  He wasn’t even in the line up when his dad presented his other brothers to Samuel.  He was a shepherd.  He was ordinary.  To the world probably insignificant.  But to God he was perfect.  He would use this ordinary shepherd to do extraordinary things.

Before David became King, he spent his days as a shepherd in pastures.  Probably alone with just the sheep.  I’m sure he had moments of feeling forgotten, insignificant and alone.  Wondering if anyone even noticed him.  My sweet friend, it’s in those pastures of life where we grow and come to know God in a more intimate way.  If you are like me, I tend to pull away when moments get hard.  I pitch a fit.  I really do.  So this reminder was huge for me.  To know that God sees me.  He hasn’t forgotten me.  The Bible says that in this life we will have troubles.  We will.  But God tells us to find peace in Him.  He tells us to take heart because He has over come the world.

God has a calling for your life.  And no calling is insignificant whether it be public speaking to a sold out crowd or washing dishes and laundry.  He has a purpose for each of us.  Going about your day, working hard in your job, being nice to the new kid.  All of those things are callings.

But maybe God has called you to something that you are not quite ready for.  Maybe you feel that uncomfortable feeling.  That feeling of wanting to say, “no Lord you chose the wrong person.”  The feeling of wanting to run away and say, “why don’t you call so and so.  They would do a much better job.”  Or maybe you know your calling, but God is asking you to be still and wait.

And the waiting….oh the waiting is sometimes the hardest part.  Melanie said something that really stuck with me.  She said that we are called to be faithful and trust even when we don’t want to.  That was such a real and raw statement to me.  I know there are days when I just don’t want to trust.  I don’t want to be faithful.  I want to fix things myself because some days I feel that will bring a quicker result.  But then that would be settling.  Settling for something under God’s plan.  And if we settle sweet sister, think of all that we are missing.  God has big blessings for you.  But when we settle we miss out.  Our pastor said something on Sunday that has stayed with me this week.  He said that God calls us to aim higher.  God doesn’t call us to settle.  Aim Higher girlfriend!  Shoot for the stars.  Embrace the woman God has made you to be and aim higher.  Don’t settle.

This was a hard post for me.  I started writing it on Monday and just felt like it wasn’t finished.  I let it sit for a couple of days and God turned it in a completely different direction.  Maybe someone needed this encouragement today.  Maybe you are in a lonely, feeling forgotten season of life.  Take heart.  God is there.  He sees you sweet friend.

Or maybe God has called you to do something you don’t want to do.  Aim higher and do it.  Experience the blessings God has for your life.  And if you are in the waiting season of your calling, be patient.  I know that’s easier said than done, but slow down and be still.  Enjoy life, even in the waiting.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Take heart friends and experience His peace today.  I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday.

 

-Maggie