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 Review

on becoming whole.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

 (from relationships by drs. les and leslie parrott)

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.

 

  1. Heal your hurts. Beginning your journey towards wholeness means self-exploration into the places where you hurt. The purpose is to acknowledge & accept your relational pain-no matter how big or small, instead of burying it.
    1. Write down the hurts & make this a life-long journey. You may not think of something right now, but as your practice, you may remember things in 1 week, 1 month, 1 year. That’s okay.
    2. Agree with the Lord & yourself to write down EVERYTHING that comes to your mind & heart that has hurt you. Whether you think it’s big or small, jot it down.
    3. Understand & accept this is a process. Unfortunately, we will never rid ourselves of self-exploration because we can never rid the world of sin. We will continually hurt others & be hurt. However, the more we submit ourselves to this process, the easier we can walk through healing & redemption when it does happen.
    4. Recognize that walking through this process will protect you from repeating the pain of your past in your present relationships.
      1.                          i.   Every relationship gives you another chance to resolve  issues you didn’t get squared away in the previous ones.
  2. Take of your mask. Each of us has a natural, built in, desire to be known, but we often stifle our vulnerability out of fear. We’re afraid of being seen as too emotional or not emotional enough, as too assertive or not assertive enough. We’re afraid of rejection. We all vacillate between the impulse to reveal ourselves & the impulse to protect ourselves. We fear rejection & that no one will love the real us so we slip behind a self-made facade & pretend. Sociologists call it impression management…the rest of us call it pain.
    1. The mask may help us guard against pain, but we’ll never be whole. Which means we’ll never enjoy true intimacy.
    2. When what you do & say do not match the person you are inside, when your deepest identity is not revealed to others, you developed & incongruent or fragmented self. Your outside doesn’t match what’s going on inside.
      1.                          i.   You’re constantly focused on self & your impression. What should I be feeling? (healthy-what am I feeling?) or How am I doing? (healthy-how is the other person doing?)
      2.                         ii.   A shift in this thinking from self to others is a mark of wholeness. Healthy & whole people have the security to focus on how others are doing-not because they want to look good, but because they genuinely care.
    3. What about when I’m tempted to save face? & I put my mask on? It’s a process, remember? Vulnerability generates vulnerability. Once you take off your mask & reveal the real you, your fears, desires, excitement, others are likely to do the same.
  3. Sit in the driver’s seat. It’s easy to be passive. To move through life simply reacting to outside forces is “easier”. Sometimes we plan more for parties than we do for our lives. You don’t catch wholeness from reading a book, listening to a podcast, or going to a conference.
    1. It is earned. It comes from hard work. “Hell is to drift, Heaven is to steer”-George Bernard Shaw in Don Juan in Hell.
    2. Taking responsibility for your past, present, & future means you determine the kinds of relationships you build.
    3. All of your relationships, if they are to be healthy, must be determined on the premise of you having an identity, forging a purpose, having courage, & making commitments to things outside of yourself.
    4. Once you take an active role in the quality of your own life, other people share in your growth rather than becoming responsible for it.
    5. Purpose statement, mission statement, & life sentence.
      1.                          i.   If you are going to achieve a sense of wholeness, you are going to have to set goals, & if you are going to meet these goals, you are going to have to delay the impulse of immediate gratification.
  4. Rely on God. Relying on Him means NOT relying on others to meet your needs.
    1. Personal significance & the desperate need for significance is real. We want to be the most important to someone else. We want to be needed. However, even the most loving relationship cannot quench our deepest need.
    2. Only God can truly love you “no matter what”. Yes, you seek a man who will rely on the Lord to love you like Christ loves the church. But, he will fail. Your family, friends, & ultimately your husband one day…are all sinners & make mistakes. Know & believe God loves you always & unconditionally.

 

 

How are you in the department of vulnerability, self-examination, & accountability? What will you do to improve this area of your journey towards wholeness?

 

What are your masks? What keeps you from being yourself?

 

How would you rate yourself on a scale from 1-10 on your ability to delay immediate gratification? How do you succeed? How can you do better?

 

What do we struggle to rely on God to meet our needs?

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 week 6 preview

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play it smart.

 

Praying about the character of the person you date or how you should act when you date. 1 John 3:24

Making the distinction between ROMANTIC love and REAL love

  1. What is LOVE?
  2. What does Scripture say about love in regards to marriage?
  3. Three drives of Romantic Love.

We will be discussing practical & scripture wisdom concerning relationships as it pertains to dating & marriage. For those who have already made decisions they aren’t happy with and for those who trying to navigate decisions right now, this will be a time of learning and discussion as we seek accountability and help.

Looking forward to seeing you!!!!

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart week 5 review

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adapted from “Lady In Waiting”

Busy Mind, Deceptive Heart

Melissa Sharp

October 3, 2013

 

the alabaster box.

 

  1. History of the alabaster box & it’s meaning
    1. A young woman’s dowry. The size & amount was parallel to her family’s wealth.
    2. When a man asked for her hand in marriage, she would break it at his feet to show her response & honor. This anointed his feet.
  2. Mark 14:3-9 and Luke 7:37
    1. She found Jesus as worthy of such a sacrifice & honor.
    2. Jesus memorializes her actions in Matthew 26:13
    3. She gave her all to a heavenly Bridegroom, the only One who can truly make her dreams come true.

 

What is in your alabaster box? What are you dreams? What do you envision for your future? What are you holding so tightly to because you fear it being taken away?

 

If you have truly broken your alabaster box before the feet of Jesus, it will be reflected in the appearance of His Lordship. Mary’s response in Luke 1:38 gives us an example of an attitude of submission.

 

  1. Ruth recklessly abandoned. She willingly broke her alabaster box & followed the Lord wherever He led her. Ruth 1:16
  2. High price for this investment. Matthew 19:29
  3. Do not make substitutions when get discontent. You will not be complete until you really understand that you are complete in Jesus. Colossians 2:9-10
    1. Completion is Jesus’ responsibility and complementing is a woman’s privilege.

 

“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

 

  1. Does your relationship with Jesus reflect reckless abandonment to Him? Or is it tokenism & superficial effort toward following Jesus?
    1. Are you content to offer Jesus that which cost you nothing? Are you influencing those around you to consider a life-changing commitment to Jesus Christ?
      1.                          i.   The Song of Solomon 6:1 example of the Shulammite
  2. As a single woman, now is the time to establish a relationship with Christ and remove the tokenism of church attendance, verse spouting without heart & belief, & really enter into intimacy with by drawing near to Him Psalm 73:28a

 

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?

 

remembrance::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?

 

alabaster box::what is in your’s? Anything you would change? What will you replace? With what will you replace those things?

 

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 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

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 FALL KICK-OFF

ImageThis Thursday, September 5 @ 8pm we will be kicking off our fall college ladies discipleship study in our home. To say that I’m eager to spend time with our college women would be an understatement. My heart has yearned since Brady came on staff at FBC to be able to spend time with our college women in an environment where I could pour into and invest in their lives spiritually. I have taken opportunities in small chunks in the last 5 years to do this, but we are now in a season where we can make this happen on a weekly basis. Every Thursday through November, there will be college women in our home, desperate to hear and walk through Scripture and what it speaks to them about relationships. I’m fervently praying for them as I know the Lord has already started to permeate my heart about my own relationships and my own attitude towards others. I believe and trust that He will cut through our flesh with Truth and deep repentance and will replace the dross that He removes with compassion, obedience, and purpose. We are praying for fellowship, life-changing decisions, and healthy relationships.

Here’s a peek at what we’ll be discussing this week:::

“By faith Rahab the prostitute escaped the destruction of the disobedient, because she welcomed the spies in peace.” HEBREWS 11:31

How did God use a prostitute to aid in the fall of Jericho? Rahab chose a life of obedience to the Lord which saved her family and aided in the fall of Jericho to ultimately deliver Israel to their Promise Land.

We will be delving into Rahab’s decisions and how they forever impacted her life, giving her a role in the lineage of Christ.

Do you actually believe that you are a part of the expansion of God’s Kingdom, and if so, at least in a spiritual sense, a part of the lineage of Christ?

See you Thursday!