Monday, July 6, 2009

New Bible Study: Live Relationally

I'm so excited to be starting a new Bible study, which is part of a series of studies, the Fresh Life Bible Study Series. This one focuses on Lessons from the Women of Genesis. The first thing that hit me was under the heading of "How to get the most out of this study".

Did you know that abundant life doesn't just add years to your life, but it also adds life to your years?
The section goes on to say that Bible study is vital because God's Word has the power to do His work in our lives. It is the catalyst that revives our hearts, renew our minds, and restores our souls. This makes life worth living!

As I said before, this study focuses on the women of Genesis, who were
often out of sight, but never out of God's plan.
In these lessons, we'll see the firsts of lots of things: the first temptation with Eve, the first matriarch in Sarah, the beginning of the Arabs through Hagar, the first recorded rape in Scripture with Dinah, the first recorded instance of prostitution with Tamar, and the first instance of sexual harassment against Joseph with Potiphar's wife. I'm very excited to learn from these and others!

The first lesson starts at the beginning....with Eve! The Biblical reference is Genesis 2:18-3:24.

Although the Bible does not describe her, there is no doubt that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Why? She was God's masterpiece!...She was the fist wife, the first mother, and the first woman to encounter evil incarnate.

Day 1: Paradise Found

Though God created both humans and animals, this does not mean that they are on equal footing. People are made in God's image, setting us apart from animals in a profound way. We possess a soul. The soul refers to a person's inner life. It is teh center of our emotions and personality.

Whereas animals act instinctively, humans should behave transcendently. I had to look this word up! According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, this means exceeding usual limits; extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience; being beyond the limits of ordinary experience. The study then says that We are God's special creating endowed with the gift of "soul power."

I like that! So when the kids don't behave as though they are thinking about the feelings of others, I can remind them that we have "soul power" and are above such behavior! Awesome!

1. Explain the problem and solution God first spoke about in this passage.

It was not good that Man was alone, so God decided to make him a comparable helper.

2. Describe in detail the task God assigned to Adam.

God gave Adam the task of naming each animal of the sea, sky, and land.

3. Compare and contrast Adam with the rest of the living beings.

Adam had the ability to speak and to name the animals and was to be their caretaker, whereas the other animals were not able to take care of Adam. They were all created by God, and were all living.

4. In your own words, describe how God created woman.

God put Adam into a deep sleep and took a rib from him with which to create Adam.

5a. When Adam met his mate, he made a proclamation. What do you think "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" signified for Adam?

This signifies that whereas the other animals were created separately from Adam, this creation was made FROM Adam, and began as part of him.

b. What did he call his mate and why?

He called her Woman because she was taken out of man.

6. Here we find the first mention of marriage in Scripture. Explain God's intent for marriage.

God intended man and wife to become one flesh in marriage. Each should leave his/her own household and become joined together.

7a. What else do you learn about the man and wife in this passage?

He created both man and woman out of his image, and made us godlike. The sidebar information refers to woman as being dust double-refined. We were created to be lifetime partners.

b. Why do you think this is relevant?

We are meant to stay together forever and help each other, not to be at odds. Both man and woman are godlike, which tells me that God has feminine characteristics as well as masculine.

8a. God declared that man needs companionship. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, and explain some of the reasons why it is better to have a mate to come alongside you.

Partners in marriage can share both the work and the rewards of that work. If one falls down, the other can help him/her up. They will keep each other warm at night. Alone, persons are unprotected, but together the worst can be faced. A cord of 3 strands is not quickly broken.

b. Read the sidebar concerning "Threefold Strength", and talk about how you have experienced God's supernatural strength in your life and/or marriage.

There have been times that, if God had not been part of our marriage, it would have been easy to throw in the towel. One time in particular comes to mind, when I was dealing with depression, had a newborn and a preschooler, working full-time, and I felt very alone. If God had not been with us, it would have been easy to blame it all on Chris and say that he wasn't helping out enough. With God's help, we got through it and are stronger for it!

9. Many women today struggle with the way they look, think, and feel. but when God made Eve from Adam's rib, this was not His intent. When He made you, He made you into the person you are too. With this in mind, journal Psalm 139:13-14 into a personal psalm praising god for making you just as you are.

Lord, you formed my insides--even though they don't always seem to cooperate--and you formed me in my mother's body. I will give you praise, for I am marvelously made! You make all things that are wonderful!

10. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. It's probably difficult to imagine being unashamed about our looks, actions, or thoughts. But Jesus came to free us from condemnation (Romans 8:1). Read the following scriptures, and talk about how we can stand either ashamed or unashamed before God.

Psalm 119:5-6 If my actions are consistent in reflecting God's commands, then I would not be ashamed when I compare my life to what you decree.

Isaiah 41:11 Anyone who had it in for you will end up coming to nothing.

Isaiah 49:23 Kings and queens will treat you as their own child and will treat you as they are your servants, and you will know that I am the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:9 The wise will be confused and bewildered, because they rejected the Word of the Lord...therefore, they have no wisdom!

The day's lesson ends with this quote from Matthew Henry: The woman was formed out of man--not out of his head to rule over him; not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be his equal, from beneath his arm to be protected, and from near his heart to be loved.

This reminds us that we are to be partners again....with love and support, to be one.