Above Reproach

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This week will be the final bible study of the semester for me with our college women. This semester marks a huge marker in my life spiritually, as well as my life as a wife, mother, friend, and homemaker. This is the first semester I have committed to teaching a long-term bible study since having children and staying home.

Why I Have Been Changed::

*closer relationships with our college women  *using our home to show hospitality  *accountability to read & study  *a few extra minutes with one of my best friends before we start  ***TEACHING IS MY JOY  *discipline in keeping our home clean (we’re home all day, it gets a little ridiculous)  *yearning fervently for myself & our college women to be changed  *edified & challenge by what God speaks  *realizing how POWERFUL it is for our children to watch ministry take place IN OUR HOME–Drake asks “is it Thursday?” “Do you have bible study?” “are those ladies coming over tonight?” (he DOES love him some college girl attention, but he very much understands what is taking place)

How I Have Been Challenged::

*closer (and sometimes difficult conversations) with our college women *accountability to read & study  *the third night in our week we are “reserved”  *discipline in keeping our home clean (along with the conviction that WE LIVE HERE & these girls know I’m human)  *allowing myself some grace when I “FEEL” like a failure in whatever I’ve taught  *allowing myself some grace when I “FEEL” like I haven’t kept up with every single one our college women  *it’s okay to need other people in order to see BIG things happen

Last week at Bible Study (Busy Minds, Deceptive Hearts), we discussed what we’re called to be (I hate ending a sentence with a preposition, but there it is).

Our great discussion looked like this…..

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Overview of 2 Timothy 2:15-21

-approved

Ephesians 1:13 & 4:30 sealed by the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 1:22

-workman not ashamed

above reproach

1 Corinthians 6:19 Body is a Holy Temple

-correctly handles Truth

How? Read & Study

2 Timothy 3:16    1 Timothy 4:15-16    1 Thess 5:19-22 2

-no godless chatter

What is the healthy opposite? Phil. 4:8

2 Cor 12:20 (gossip comes with other things)

Prov. 11:25 be a refreshing water

-teaching will spread
Titus 1:9
Means::Exhort sometimes
Deitrich Bonhoeffer “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”
2 Tim 4:2  Prov. 15:31  Prov. 27:6

*go back to the “correctly handles Truth” to exhort

Bonheoffer: “No man has any right to offer advice who has not first heard God speak. No man has any right to counsel others who is not ready to hear and follow the counsel of the Lord. True moral wisdom must always be an echo of God’s voice. The only safe light for our path is the light for our path is the light which is reflected from Christ, the Light of the World.”

-God’s foundation will stand no matter

-must cleanse/repent (Rev. 3:19)

when He makes a revelation it’s for reform not just to inform

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For the remainder of the week, my conversations revolved around what it means to be “above reproach”. I can’t define that for you in literal terms. I can speak to how the Lord has led and invested Truth into my heart to walk a life that is defined by grace & submission.

1 Corinthians 10 states:

23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his [i]neighbor.

You need to read the context of this to understand and comprehend the terms by which Paul is referencing. However, this has always been a leading light for me where convictions cause me to question my motivations. I think it’s poignant and specific that he ends the statement with the admonition to seek the good of his neighbor. It doesn’t matter if what I’m participating isn’t SINFUL or causing me TEMPTATION. What does it do TO and FOR my neighbor? That peer in your class, that sibling watching you, that parent who doesn’t know the Lord, that co-worker who has asked you questions about Christianity, that professor who challenges you on your faith? When we settle once and for all who we are setting ourselves to be and seek to be steadfast, it becomes less about our flesh and wants and more about glorification and gospel sharing. It becomes less about our rights and our pride and more about love. Above reproach means seeking the best for others. Our will and way diminishes in the light of His glory and grace.

This passage in chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians also states:

13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

I have heard this over and over “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”. The Lord loudly and specifically spoke “LIE” to me when someone shared that with me 2 years ago. I sought Him hard and He quickly answered me why my Spirit was convicted that it’s not Truth.

IF HE DIDN’T GIVE US MORE THAN WE CAN HANDLE THEN WE WOULDN’T NEED HIM. I won’t go into my life’s circumstances as to why this has been a CONSTANT in my thought process lately, but will relate this lesson in being above reproach.

When we want to do something and be a part of something, but have just started a journey towards being above approach, sometimes the “no” feels painful and sacrificial. We want to go out dancing with friends. There is no harm there. However, we have to go to a bar to do that. A bar where the opposite sex is waiting in hopes of “taking someone home” …. a bar where there is alcohol (that in and of itself may not be wrong the over consumption of it is and will cause your body that is a Holy Temple to be compromised). Where others will see us. Their definition of our faith is not the same as ours so we shouldn’t be held to their expectation, RIGHT? In my conviction referencing the previous verse…..it has nothing to do with our definitions/terms or their expectations. It has everything to do with Truth. If I go to that bar what does that speak about my gospel? I can’t answer that for you-only for myself. I may see that peer in my class, that sibling watching me, that parent who doesn’t know the Lord, that co-worker who has asked me questions about Christianity, that professor who challenges me on my faith.

Our temptation and desire to do things is not beyond the ability of Him to meet our needs-in all ways and at all times. Being above reproach is more glorification and gospel sharing. It becomes less about our rights and our pride and more about love. Above reproach means seeking the best for others. Our will and way diminishes in the light of His glory and grace.

I know, because I’ve had this conversation over the last 10 years A LOT and over the last week A LOT. It’s not fair. I shouldn’t have to choose my activities and hobbies and times of fun based on the fact it MIGHT cause others to stumble. I shouldn’t have to choose my words carefully as others should be mature enough to filter them for me.

None of that reflects anything in Scripture. It’s hard to hold our tongue. Scripture commands us to. It’s hard to share the gospel. Scripture commands us to. It’s hard to love our neighbor as yourself. Scripture commands us to. It’s hard to love a wife like Christ loves the church and it’s hard for wives to submit….Scripture commands us to. It’s hard to give up everything to follow and be like Christ (even the fun things don’t hurt us but might hurt others in their understanding of the gospel), but Scripture commands us to.

He will fill us up with far more precious and valuable experiences than the ones we give up to be above reproach. He will give us more valuable and eternal conversations to replace the gossip. He will provide life-giving relationships to replace the negativity and judgement we pass over of others.

Micah 6:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

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Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart week 7 preview “on becoming whole.”

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Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart

Melissa Sharp

10.17.13

on becoming whole.

1 corinthians 1:26-31

Glory Only in the Lord

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”[c]

We cannot seek relationship and maintain relationship the way the world does relationships. We have to be different. We have to care about others. We have security in the Lord so our security doesn’t come from a person here on earth. The world doesn’t understand how we do relationships. They don’t understand how we can love because He loves us. We must process through the sin and hurt in our own lives on a regular basis in order to love others.

There are no shortcuts to personal growth & wholeness. But there are a few suggestions & steps we can take in order to voluntarily walk the road with the Lord of discovering who we are in this life & who we are in Christ.

As we read excerpts from “relationships” by Dr. Les & Leslie Parrott, we’ll discuss what it means to become whole. We’ll walk through 4 steps: heal your hurts, remove your masks, sit in the driver’s seat, rely on God.

There is a process to walk and it’s a life-long process. We’ll discuss biblical and practical direction for these 4 steps and prayerfully consider how we can each gracefully maneuver our self and relationships with regard to becoming and being whole.

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart preview week 5

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“Marriage teaches us that even the most intimate human companionship cannot satisfy the deepest places of the heart. Our hearts are lonely ‘til they rest in Him” –Elisabeth Elliot in Lonliness

Tonight we will discuss the alabaster box that contains all of our hopes, dreams, & priorities and challenge ourselves to fill it with the desires of our heart and recklessly abandon our box before Jesus. We will recall much of Ruth’s journey (our study of Ruth here) as we discuss what it looks like to completely surrender.

offerings::what do you need to walk away from? Why do you need to walk away? You will need help. How will you get help walking away? How will you stick with your abandonment?

rememberance::what Truth do you need to tuck deep inside of your heart? What did you hear tonight that resonates with you but is difficult for you to believe? How will you remind yourself of these Truths? Will you choose to believe God?

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart week 4 review

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such a time as this.

Esther’s parents die & she is raised by her cousin, Mordecai. God ordains her protection.

God ordains her favor. 2:9

Mordecai gives her directions & walks with her through this. 2:10 We must all have spiritual mentors & sensitivity to submit.

God allows for her increased favor 2:15 and she continues follows direction.

Her submission & boldness lead to a throne & she is favored more than any others. 2:17-18

The more she obeys, the more she is favored. The more she is favored, the more her borders for trust & influence are enlarged.

As she gains more influence, more challenges come her way. With more challenges, come more opportunities for faith. 2:21-23

Near genocide of the Jews Esther 3

What is Esther’s heritage? Mordecai?

Esther’s Dilemma Esther 4

She hedges because she knows the ways of the king. But Mordecai speaks truth.

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

She responds with a willingness to walk the path Mordecai has directed, but asks for fasting.

everyone in Susa—-herself & her attendants—–3 days & nights

Her request reveals she has come into her own dependence on God & own understanding of His direction. It also reveals her need for a direction & peace higher than Mordecai.

Esther’s Approach Esther 5

The first step in her process requires the King extending the gold scepter

Next, she threw a party

Then, she keeps the king in suspense

She throws another party

Haman loves the attention & isolation of being chosen by the king. But he can’t get over his hatred of Mordecai.

His friend and wife help him plan Mordecai’s demise.

The end for Haman Esther 6

He neglected humility, so his thoughts were skewed. His answer lacked thought & wisdom.

Esther’s boldness Esther 7

She answers the king. She cannot handle her distress anymore.

Haman dies on his own pole for impalement.

The Jews, Esther, & Mordecai Esther 8-10

Esther receives Haman’s estate

God honored Mordecai’s steadfastness.

The Jews have all right to assemble & defend themselves.

How can we enter the turf of our own enemies, eat with them & encounter the beginnings of understanding?

How is Esther, a young Jewish woman displaced from Jerusalem, having eyes for her people an example to us?

God had her in a place of a foreign king at a time when high ranking officials turned on her people-the Jews.

She made a bold appeal to the king. She approached the king in a very unorthodox manner, one which would bring death to anyone (wife included) unless the king gave clearance. This is a great attachment to Hebrews 4:14-16 and of the fact that she wasn’t even approaching the king for herself. She risked her life to save her people.

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart week 4 preview:: Esther

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God had her in a place of a foreign king at a time when high ranking officials turned on her people-the Jews.

She made a bold appeal to the king. She approached the king in a very unorthodox manner, one which would bring death to anyone (wife included) unless the king gave clearance. This is a great attachment to Hebrews 4:14-16 and of the fact that she wasn’t even approaching the king for herself. She risked her life to save her people.

How can we enter the turf of our own enemies, eat with them & encounter the beginnings of understanding?

How is Esther, a young Jewish woman displaced from Jerusalem, having eyes for her people an example to us?

See you tomorrow night!!!!1

a match made in Heaven…Ruth & Boaz

 

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart

 

Melissa Sharp

 

September 19, 2013

 

 

 

A Match Made in Heaven

The main characters::

 Ruth is a short version of ‘retut’, ‘lovely friend’.
Naomi means ‘pleasant’, but the name she called herself later was Mara, meaning ‘bitter’.
Boaz means ‘powerful’ or ‘strong’.
Mahlon and Chilion mean ‘sickness’ and ‘used up’.
Orpah means ‘back of the neck’; she turned her back on Naomi.
Elimelech means ‘my God is king’.  

 Importance:: Matthew 1 Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus lists four women, & Ruth is one of them.

Map::

 Ruth is loyal to her mother-in-law.  Ruth 1:15-18

 She follows a God she meets through obedience. v.16-17

 Background of Moabites

 She asks to glean what is dropped. There is provision in Mosaic Law for this opportunity. Lev. 19:9, 10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19

 She works hard and without fear. She isn’t looking for a husband.

 Ruth 2:3 says that  ‘as it happened’  Ruth went to the field of Naomi’s rich relative, Boaz.

 She finds favor with Boaz because she chose the Lord.

 The Lord protected her and showed favor on her, through Boaz. HOW? He praises the way in which she presents herself.

She is noble.

 It was called the law of the “levirate” marriage, from the Hebrew word for “brother.” If no brother was available, a more distant relative might be asked to fulfill this duty. But the widow would have to let him know that he was acceptable to be her “goel,” as they called it, her kinsman-redeemer and provider.

 In English, the word go’el is often translated as ‘nearest kin’, but in ancient Judah it meant much more than that.

 

 Ruth 3

 

 She takes action. Lying beside Boaz, Ruth suggested that he, as the go-el of Naomi’s family, should ‘cover her with his blanket’, a euphemism for marriage.

  Spreading his cloak over her would signify his willingness to become her protector and provider. His response was immediate.

 Boaz is honest. He seems to have been at pains to do everything correctly, so that there could be no question about the legality of the marriage. 

 Ruth and Boaz were married, and she had a son, Obed. Eventually, Ruth would be the great-grandmother of King David.

 

 SOME OF OUR DISCUSSION:::

Ruth left everything she knew to go with Naomi. She knew Naomi was older in age and now a widow. Ruth DID THE RIGHT THING. In doing so, she utimately chose God. Moabites were Israelite enemies due to their history and some stereotyping. She walked in faith that all she heard of God from her husband and his family was true and that He would care for her and her mother-in-law. She was virtuous. One of the many reasons Boaz is drawn to her is that she didn’t have affairs with men, rich or poor. She DID THE RIGHT THING. She followed all of the directions and wisdom from Naomi. She walked through this entire journey with faith and integrity.

 

Loyalty. Who is loyal here & why is that important for us?

 

 

 

Submission: Who is submissive here? To whom? Why is that a lesson for us?

 

 

 

Love: In what ways could you give of yourself more sacrificially to improve your relationships?

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what we learned from a prophet & an adulterer

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If you missed Thursday, or just want a review, here are the notes! I was so blessed by your stories of redemption and the positives ways you encouraged one another with what you learned from our time together. Looking forward to this coming Thursday!

Melissa Sharp

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart

September 11, 2013

the pursuit of happiness. lies.

the pursuit of obedience. truth.

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

  1. Gomer is promiscuous.

It is evident that Gomer was a woman who had been exposed and addicted to the moral decay of her society, and God intended to use Hosea’s relationship with her as an object lesson of His own relationship with His unfaithful people, Israel.

  1. Israel is unfaithful.

What God says is wrong with Israel:

God said there was no faithfulness, or kindness, or knowledge of him (4:1); there was swearing, deception, murder, stealing, and sexual vice (4:2); the prophets and priest were corrupt (4:4); the priests no longer taught the knowledge of God (4:6); the religious leaders had become merely opportunists, in their greed profiting from the sins of the people (4:7); there was harlotry, and drunkenness (4:11); the people had become idol worshipers (4:12), and we know from 2 Kings 17 that there were human sacrifices.

  1. God is intentional.

The naming of the children from God’s perspective:

The first child was named, Jezreel.  Jezreel was both a city and a territory located in the heart of Israel, and it was from the heartland of Jezreel that much of the wickedness associated with Israel’s history originated.

The second child was named Lo-ruhamah.  This name comes from two Hebrew words: lo in Hebrew is a negative, and means “no,” or “not,” and ruhamah means, “to have pity.”  So the name “Lo-ruhamah” means, “to have no pity.”

The third child was named Lo-ammi, meaning “not mine.”

  1. God is redemptive.

The story of the book is about how God, who found Israel to be stubbornly faithless and spiritually rebellious, had to allow them to experience the consequences of their waywardness.

God’s purpose for Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to confront Israel with their sin of unfaithfulness.

Hosea 2

Gomer leaves and is unfaithful in her lifestyle.

At some point Hosea came to the realization that providing for Gomer’s needs wasn’t going to help unless her heart changed; in fact, it would only enable her to continue her wayward lifestyle, so he made the very difficult decision to cut off her support. In time the consequences she had been protected from began to roll in. Eventually Gomer’s lover sold her into slavery, and she discovered the sad truth that so many others have discovered: that often what presents itself as an opportunity for self-fulfillment, ends in bondage and despair.

Hosea 3:1-5

We notice that Gomer, though purchased, was not immediately restored to her former status as a wife, and things would remain that way until her heart changed. The same is true with God and Israel. God allowed Israel to experience the consequences of their unfaithfulness.

He’s waiting for a change of heart, and it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to happen. Did you notice when? Verse 5 says, “in the last days.”

Common Themes:

Unfailing love. Who freely gives? Who receives?

Acts of love vs. feeling.  Compare your reactions to the reality of Hosea’s response. What is the difference between reacting & responding?

Redemption. God & Hosea confront & love through rebelliousness & disobedience. How can you follow that lead in your relationships?

Idolatry. How are you idolatrous? How does it affect your relationships?

***If you would like my personal teaching notes with extra information, please contact me at sharp.mrs@gmail.com

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart week 2 preview

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We meet again tomorrow evening! Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 8 pm join us at our house!

We will discuss all the richness we can glean from the disobedience, rebellion, and lack of faithfulness of Isreal. God so compassionately walks with us through Isreal’s waywardness & uses a heart-wrenching comparison of the relationship between Hosea & Gomer to draw us closer to Himself. While drawing us into Scripture, we will be convicted & encouraged in our own relationships.

We will have a time to discuss & reflect the following so come with open and teachable spirits.

Unfailing love. Who freely gives? Who receives?

Acts of love vs. feeling. Compare your reactions to the reality of Hosea’s response. What is the difference between reacting & responding?

Redemption. God & Hosea both confront & love through rebelliousness & disobedience. How can you follow that lead in your relationships?

Idolatry. How are you idolatrous? How does it affect your relationships?