A recommendation: “James: Mercy Triumphs”

“But he gives more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:6-8

I wanted to take a quick second to recommend a bible study to you. I’ve been working through Beth Moore’s James: Mercy Triumphs bible study workbook and I’m really enjoying this study of James. In the past I’ve been a little hesitant about doing her studies because I get distracted by her calling me “Sister” and “Girlfriend” and her enthusiasm is sometimes a little overwhelming. But what God has revealed to me about those predispositions and biases is that I’m judgmental and have pride issues (we all knew that already, right?). I have come to really, truly appreciate her passion for teaching and sharing, and quite frankly, I’ve learned a lot from her through this study.

I’m working through week five right now and I wanted to quickly journal a response to the question she asks at the end of today’s lesson. (This is mostly for my benefit because my hand started cramping from writing so much already today and because my arm is tired from sanding bookshelves yesterday – pictures to follow). Actually, I’ve changed my mind and am diverting the program for a quick second to share an excerpt from today that I really found encouraging – and it’s my blog so I can do that. Muahahaha

“But He gives greater grace.” Don’t rush past those five words. Soak them in like rain on parched ground. Submerge yourself in them like a pitcher tipped and sinking to the bottom of the spring, surrendering to the weight of the water.
For the next little while, you don’t need to be the pitcher so many people in your sphere of influence look to for filling. Simply receive. Say those five words out lough as if they were written just for you.
Think of all that weighs on you: yesterday’s regrets, today’s demands, tomorrow’s plans. Let the pitcher become the cup and don’t just agree to be filled. Sink yourself in those five words until all your fears of failure, inadequacy, unforgiveness, and insufficiency drown.
Don’t come up for air until those fears lay lifeless and cold on the bottom of the sea. Let Jesus lighten your burden until you float to the top, youth renewed, heart restored. He is enough. When you need more, you will have more. When your woes are great, His grace is greater. When our sins are vast, His mercy is deep. We cannot exceed Him. We cannot outrun Him.

I loved that. It was exactly what I needed to hear as I’m struggling with my to-do list today. I work against my own to-do list and expectations and often run myself ragged because I’m afraid of not accomplishing enough in a day. Who puts those pressures on me? No one but myself. I needed someone to tell me to rest and relax in Him. To drink deep and not come up until I’ve let go of the things that burden me. God is bigger and He can do immeasurably more than what I ask of Him.

I’ve really enjoyed doing this bible study because I feel like God has given me this time to prepare for the time to come. I’ve been richly blessed by a husband who is willing to work hard and provide for us so that I can work on putting our home together and prepare a welcoming place that we feel good about entertaining and ministering. I’m proud of him for how hard he works and how brilliant he is at what he does. Sometimes I make it hard on myself by setting up unreasonable expectations for how much I can do in one day without being burned out by the time Mike gets home. Sometimes I can get things done like a machine. And it’s awesome to check everything on my to-list off (I’m such a to-do list person. It gives me much satisfaction to cross things off as done). Often times I fail. It’s hard to see the to-do list get longer when the number of things I can accomplish grows fewer. There are just days when my energy and abilities are not sufficient for the tasks at hand. And all the women with children just laughed because I have no idea what’s in store for me whenever we start having kids.

At the end of today’s lesson Beth lists eight things that God is bigger than to encourage study-guide participants to submit to God as James says in chapter 4, verse 7. She then asks which one most spoke to you and why. I picked three.

  • God knows everything about you and every matter concerning you.
  • He loves you completely and unconditionally and will never let you go.
  • He knows the well-deliberated plan for your life and how all things must fall into place for you to fulfill your destiny.

Guh. The last one is a big one. I would say I’m not fond of surprises and I want to know how things will work out. However, I’m also well aware that if I were to know how every detail in life plays out I wouldn’t need or want to trust God. I would trust the plan, the layout, and rely on the future things I know will happen. As it is, I am day in and day out having to submit my hopes and dreams to the Lord and trust that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” All my life since I’ve walked with the Lord he has shown himself to be faithful and good. My past experiences make it easier and somewhat daunting to place my life in his hands because I know that “to the one who is given much, much will be demanded.” But God gives more grace.

The second is an equally big one because I’m a bit of a people pleaser. I strive to win affection by doing what other people want. And oftentimes I fail. Okay, like 99% of the time I fail. That’s not often. That’s almost always. And I struggle with feeling inadequate. What do I really bring to the table in this home/friendship/bible study/ministry/etc.? I am constantly questioning my worth, my efforts, everything under the sun. But the kicker is this: God has more grace. More unconditional love. More patience. He is good. I am not. He is God. I am definitely not. But I struggle a lot with pride and insecurities (if it’s not one it’s definitely the other), and it’s not a reflection of my relationship with my husband or anyone else. I am just a life-long struggler with these things and a work in progress. I love Psalm 139 for this reason. It gives me such comfort when I am having particularly rough days: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know full well. …All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Anyways, allllll of that to say, I recommend this bible study. I found a .pdf file online that has the answers to the viewer guides at the beginning of each weekly session if you, like me, are too cheap to buy the CDs or DVDs, but want to get just as much out of it. And you will too, if you’re willing to put in the effort. I think it’s completely true that you get out of bible study what you’re willing to put into it. This bible study is organized so that you can commit to different levels of study based on how much time you have. There’s no pressure to bite off more than you chew, but it’s rewarding to sacrifice the extra time you would have spent watching Doctor Who to get more out of each day.

Now I’m going to transition 198 degrees to tell you that I just started season 5 of the new doctor and I’m as surprised as you are to say that I actually really like the new doctor. Nothing and no one could replace David Tennant (Mike knows I have a slight crush on the Doctor), but Matt Smith does an amazing job. I will give him that.

Also, if you would, please pray for a distant friend and his family. I don’t know the details, but I know they’ve just found out the dad (roughly my parents’ age) has stage 4 colon cancer. If you would, please lift them all up praying for peace and understanding, trust in the Lord’s will, wisdom for the doctors and comfort for the dad and the rest of the family. I don’t know what the treatment plan is, but God does, and they are such a wonderful and loving family that I’m sure they are surrounded with support and prayer warriors. I’m sure they covet your prayers as well.

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