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November Online Study-Malachi

Come join a three week study over Malachi! Let us show you how to enhance your Bible intake.

Only one hour once a week for three weeks! Send us an email and let us know you are interested: refiningjourney@gmail.com.

You will be glad you did.

Bible Fitness: Running with Jonah-Chapter 1

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But Johan ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he want aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. (Jonah 1:3 NIV)

When was the last time you had a good hardy workout strengthening your heart? God’s Scripture can provide that very thing. There are times when it delivers a warm-up or even a good yoga stretch session, but not the book of Jonah. It is a full-on run which can condition your heart to love God and love others (yes, even the unlovable!) the way the LORD instructs.

During the month of October, the Refining ministry is conducting one-hour online sessions on Monday nights to provide verse-by-verse studies over this minor prophet’s historical account. Each meeting will include a 10-minute video segment from Erin Mason along with application questions to furnish a true heart workout.

Jonah was a runner! He wore his finest athlete sandals proudly and even was in tune to the voice of the LORD. He had been trained in theology and knew the Torah. He identified himself as being on God’s team (Jonah 1:9). Yet, his heart was in poor condition and the challenges the Father instructed revealed his lack of exercising under full authority of the LORD.

Here are a few takeaways from last night’s study:

VersesGODJONAHQuestions to ask yourself
1-3Coaches Jonah in the direction to run: GO!Runs fast and furious: the opposite directionHow are you running from God currently?
4-6Sends a violent storm message to Jonah’s disobedienceJonah not only endangers those around him, but he doesn’t feel the least amount of guilt instead he sleepsAre there areas of your life where you have allowed your conscience to be like Teflon to obedience to God?
7-10God used the situation to demonstrate His ever presenceJonah claims his identity in God, yet it is the non-believers that have a clear vision of Jonah’s disobedienceAs an identified Christian, are you open to the reproof the LORD sends through a non-believer? Have you ever given this any thought?
11-12God wants Jonah to repent and run the direction He told himJonah feels it would be better to die than to go to Nineveh. He could not stand Assyrians and did not want good to come to them. However, Jonah felt it would be better for the sailors to kill him by throwing him overboard than for him to take his own lifeDo you harbor feelings or stubbornness against someone who you deem unlovable and undeserving? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to let them stay living in darkness where you feel they belong? (Running from obedience)
13-16God stands firm. He patiently waits for Jonah to submit and take responsibility for his actions. He even gains the fear of the sailors and becomes a true Lord to themJonah realized he could not outrun the Lord. Don’t be fooled though-Jonah did not repent and he still had a heart issue against Nineveh. Despite his heart condition, he was a missionary to the sailor. God used Jonah whether he liked it or notAre there times when serving God is a duty and not a delight? Have you carried out tasks to the LORD even though you didn’t want to? (running from God within)
17God’s timing and ways are always planned. 3 days & nights- sound familiar?  (Read Matthew 12: 39-41)Running from God does not bring conditioning and good health. It brings pain and frustration because the effort is fruitless.What will it take for you to run in the direction God directed? What commitment do you need to make to fully obey His calling?

Jonah really believed running away from God’s calling was the best thing for him. He thought his rebuttal was a good one—I don’t like those wicked underserving people—I am not the person for the job. He knew his heart wasn’t in shape to extend grace and mercy to Nineveh so why bother. Seriously? So, not only did he run to avoid the Father’s calling on his life, but he was willing to sacrifice his life! Why? He was determined to never step a foot onto that foreign soil. Could this be pure hatred?

Whether you are running with God’s calling or away from it-what is the condition of your heart? How deep can you really love God and love others?

“Most of us like what God says, until we are called to action.” – Eric Mason

Join us online next Monday night via Zoom for one hour starting at 6:00 pm (CST). There are so many more fitness lessons in Jonah to be discovered. Message us for the link. Feel free to email us a refiningjourney@gmail.com. You will be blessed by it!

Nahum: A Fatal Blow

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

Happy Friday my dear friends. I hope you have an exciting weekend planned. They always go by so fast.

Refining ministries have been conducting short studies over minor prophets via Zoom. We take one chapter a week, read it on our own, dig into deeper meaning through personal resources, and then come together and discuss. This has been a delightful experience.

Over the past three weeks we have been focusing upon Nahum. I know—I hear you—why in the world Nahum? I thought the same thing when we studied Obadiah and now when my mind wonders into the judgement zone, I remind myself of the takeaway from Obadiah. The powerful messages that have surfaced from many overlooked books in the Bible has been transforming thoughts, actions, and hearts!

Today, I would like to share with my learning from Nahum.

Let me start with a bit of history: After studying all three chapters, I was appalled from the evil and violent empire of Assyria. They had become a force to be reckoned with and gained major worldly power and possessions through oppression and direct disobedience to God. Their destruction and deception gained them outward attractiveness because of the status they displayed. Nineveh, the capitol, felt protected by its enormous wall and had allowed their ego to reach great heights. They had overtaken the ten northern tribes and were working on a plan to obtain the two southern ones. Disgusting cruelty and gross acts can barely scratch the surface of the levels they went to gain worldly power.

Nahum warns Nineveh that their time is up. God’s justice is coming and His righteous anger will be carried out in the days ahead. They refused to take refuge in the Lord. They wanted to worship their gods and trust in themselves. In chapter 3, verse 19 Nahum tells them, “Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?” Their lust of being “top dog” and doing whatever it takes to get there has now caused a fatal blow to their existence. OUCH!

Our sweet Father gives us a choice of how we want to live. Also, He is the only one who knows our inner part (heart). His goal is to remove sin in our lives and bring inner peace. (Deut. 4:24; 5:9). So, when I went to the Lord in prayer to get His perspective on Nahum, this is what He revealed to me:

  1. What choices am I making that may lead me to destruction?
  2. Who have I possible destroyed, injured, or scarred with my words or actions?
  3. How can I abstain from allowing worldly ways to creep into my life?
  4. Is Chapter 2 a prescriptive of a pathway I am traveling?
  5. Am I obsessed with power, little gods, or anything else which will lead me to sin and a hardened heart?

OVERALL TAKEAWAY:

Put my trust only in God. (Nahum 3:8-10)

Deal with sin because it cuts off my fellowship with God.

Failure to follow God leads to painful consequences. Possibly, a fatal blow!

Yes, all this from the little book of Nahum. Powerful-life changing wisdom and advice! Come join us June 14th as we begin a new three-week study over Habakkuk. I promise you too will have a mighty takeaway and you will always remember Habakkuk. Major wisdom through minor prophets is worth embracing!

Crown the Sword: Ch. 12-My Affirmation

…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9b-10 (NIV)

Hello friends! First, let me thank you for the opportunity to walk with you through the book, Crown the Sword. This journey has been a fantastic time to grow together. I pray these twelve weeks have allowed you to discover ways to draw closer to God through Scripture. May it spur your Bible intake to new levels and encourage you to study books of the Bible with a small group of like-minded Christians weekly.

I pray the affirmation you find in Chapter 12 will be an invitation to have a candlelight time with God and define your commitment with Him. Dedicate some time to focus on your Bible reliance and revisit the main topics presented in each chapter of Crown the Sword. Think about your take-aways.

What are three things you want to do differently when engaging in His Word? How will you hold yourself accountable?

One quote in this chapter that really stood out to me was “Your growth hinges upon your willingness, devotion, and commitment, which become your personal affirmations.” I had to stop and ask myself, “How dedicated are you to God?”. Often times I feel I have very good intentions, but my follow through is not always up to par. Then I think, “Where would I be today if the Father’s intentions had not been backed by the willingness, devotion, and commitment of Jesus?”. Goodness, that is humbling for me.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

Each week I took some time to summarize my thoughts over each chapter and chose one word which represented the information. Let me share those words with you starting with the introduction chapter of the book: invited, partaker, surrendered, listening, devoted, absorbing, dependent, seeking, attentive, consuming, conforming, transforming, dedicated. These words are helping me reflect upon my own personal affirmation and what I am willing, devoted, and committed to do in the days ahead. I look forward to my candlelight time with the LORD and setting some goals for the next 12 months.

Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men,knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.

Colossians 3:23-24 (Amplified)

May your sincere Crowning of the Sword lead you to a lifestyle completely alive in Christ Jesus. I pray this book has touched you in such a way that you will always be found seeking God and consuming His Word. Be empowered to tell others about your experience. God’s Voice will always be alive and active no matter the generation. I pray this message reaches a thousand generations and increases the desire of hearts for God and His Word. 

I cannot think of a better way to end this study than direct words from His sweet voice…

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:1-17 (NIV)

Until we meet again…

Happy New Year

Welcome 2021

Happy New Year Friends! We look forward to walking through 2021 with you. As intentional partners, we are here to supply encouragement with your spiritual growth posture. Our main goal is to support your personal relationship with God and strengthen your reliance on Scripture. We are preparing for great times ahead in the upcoming months.

Prayers and best wishes from our ministry team and partners! We love you!!

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. Jeremiah 24:7 (NIV)

Overwhelmed? Conquer it with God and His Word

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Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? I have had the pleasure of being there! I have lost count of the number of episodes. However, I can attest to the fact those zany feelings are genuine and definitely stop me in my tracks. It has taken me years to finally address it, call it out, and deal with it.

Two years ago, God was restoring me from an intense pit which lasted half a decade. As He began reconditioning my heart and repairing my life, the Lord had me face one of the largest elephants in the room. (Yes, there were more than one!) This creature had overpowered me several times and left me devastated in handling my very own existence. I even identified myself as one who was best at doing nothing when not knowing what to do. It was time to deal with the paralyzing effects of being overwhelmed.  

My dark valley was a discipline gorge delivering many unforgettable lessons. However, the most impactful discovery was the importance of staying in His Word and paying close attention to His directives. My desperation allowed me to cling to The Spirit of truth, God’s Holy Word, and find hope in His promises.

As I began digging deeper into Scripture, the Holy Spirit began prompting me to apply it to my circumstances. God was basically saying, “It is time to put skin on Scripture my daughter”. The Lord started with my feelings of being overwhelmed and spotlighted the root of the issue. ME! My out-of-control desperation episodes where nothing more than lacking the ability to let go and allow God to drive.

The fight is still real and can be powerful at times. However, I have learned to face the devasting lie from the enemy by humbly surrendering to the directives and promises of God’s sweet words- Scripture. I am getting better at calling out those overwhelming thoughts and placing them under God’s authority than I use to be. And somehow along the way, I found freedom by living life as a passenger and giving up control of the keys.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

Allow me to share three ways I learned to combat the struggle:

1. Surrendered to God: I had to accept the fact life is not about me. As I discovered my purpose through God, it became clear-I had been living according to my plans. I had created blueprints I could not humanly achieve because the truth is: I am a powerless being. God is in control and I am not.

So, as I began humbly surrendering my life to the Lord, those overwhelming moments arose less and less. It became easier to handle the pressures of daily living. Why? Because I was no longer the manager of my life, God was. It still amazes me how giving up the steering wheel allowed my life to be in better working order.     

2. Connected with God: Hindsight is definitely 20/20. My overwhelming episodes could have been lessened had I been in full relationship with the Almighty Lord. God showed me His desire-for me to participate in an environment focused upon Him 24/7.

After admitting to my lack of engagement with God and Scripture, I began making Him top priority. I ran to Him about everything in life-good or bad. He became a power source of strength above anything I had experienced. His connection seemed to block out the enemy’s ability to overwhelm my mind. God gave me peace, security, and satisfaction. I began following His discernment and letting Him lead.    

3. Submitted to the Lord’s text: Putting skin on Scripture started with drenching my life with God’s Holy Word. For years, I had viewed the Bible as talk uttered by God without acknowledging the supernatural force, potency, and capability it possessed. My viewpoint had to change.

God extended His invitation to infuse my life and He welcomed me to a completely different way of thinking and living through His Word. His empowerment lured me to seek Him on a more intimate level and to bring my life under His absolute authority. I began inserting my name in His Word and fighting off those fickle feelings through declaring Scripture.

Now when overwhelming emotions creep up, I go straight to those commanding verses and claim them. I submit to the power of the Father and ask for His help in fighting off the persuading lies. Slowly, I have learned to let Scripture conquer the battle of my mind. I have found the Lord’s text to be a true defensive sword worthy to be called highly effective.

So, now when I begin to experience the feelings of being overwhelmed, I am no longer paralyzed and do nothing. God has given me an action plan and a helpmate: His Holy Word. I am now able to keep moving forward thanks to God’s provision.    

My “Go To” Scriptures when feeling overwhelmed:

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:30 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

I, even I, am he who comforts you. Isaiah 51:12a (NIV)

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114 (NIV)

How do you overcome paralyzing emotions? Share your suggestions and thoughts below. We would love to hear from you!

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