{July 9, 2017}

 

July 9 – 15, 2017

 

{Lay It Down: Into the Wild}

By Michael Maybee

Have you ever had one of those spiritual dry spells? Life crowds out the time you want to spend with God? Or perhaps after following Jesus for a long time, suddenly nothing spiritual seems fresh or new or even interesting? Maybe you recently experienced a spiritual high like getting baptized or some other victory. That often paints a target on your back for the enemy. Sound familiar?

I, like many of you, have experienced such short-term dry spells. But what I have experienced lately isn’t that. Recently, actually for several months, I have been in the desert. Spiritual maladies such as doubt (about God, my own faith, my self-worth, etc.), discouragement, and despair have plagued me. For months it seemed that something in me was fighting against God, resisting doing the things that filled me and helped me feel God’s presence. God knew I needed some time in the desert, so He let me go.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. My own brokenness led me there. And the enemy of my soul definitely attacked me in the same areas he attacked Jesus, ambition, appetite, and approval. I listed those in ascending order of importance for me. Your list, if you have one, will be different.

My attacker appealed to my ambition. Because I am retired that was less of an issue for me than it might be for others. Still there are areas where I aspire to fill a leadership role, and he attacked those areas, creating in me a sense of failure. He found more weakness when he appealed to my appetites for things of this world. I allowed my unmet expectations of life to lead me into self-pity.

But the big one for me was approval. My need for approval is unhealthily high, especially from those to whom I am closest like my wife and family. And since I was feeling like a failure, and feeling sorry for myself over that and a few shattered (or at least deferred) dreams, I frankly was behaving in ways that should not meet with approval. So, what’s a fella to do?

My first response was, “Try harder.” You know, work harder to fulfill my ambitions of being a leader, do more “fun things,” and gain approval through effort, even from God. I even tried forcing myself to study my Bible and pray. None of it really helped.

Here are a few things that did help. I talked with people I trust and also know me well. I stepped back from some leadership areas, at least temporarily. I saw a Christian counselor. I confessed things that needed confessing. And probably one of the biggest things was I quit trying so hard. I laid it all down, including my faith walk. I asked God to lead me and to restore my thirst for Him and His Word. I can feel it coming back.

Today as I write this, I see ahead the end of the desert. I look back at the desolate landscape behind me only to remind myself of what I have learned. I learned that even in the desert I am safe and I am loved.

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” –Psalm 63:1

{sunday 7.9.17}

Read 1 Peter 5:6

Observe, Reflect, Apply: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6. Laying down whatever God knows you need to lay down is humbling, isn’t it? What does that phrase, “…in due time” mean to you? Why do you think waiting on God is frequently mentioned in Scripture? What might you be waiting to lay down at God’s feet?

 

{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE to check out an awesome summary of Ephesians from The Bible Project!

 

{monday 7.10.17}

Read Ephesians 4:17-28

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What does it feel like, to be hopelessly confused? Think of a time you have been there. Now, what might it look like if I/you have a closed mind or a hardened heart toward God? What problems might that stir up in our lives? If you find yourself struggling with hopeless confusion, a closed mind, or a hardened heart, take your thoughts and struggle to a trusted friend and invite them to help you process and make a plan to move beyond this state.

{tuesday 7.11.17}

Read Ephesians 4:29-5:7

Observe, Reflect, Apply: As you read these verses, not the one thing that jumps out at you as being true of yourself. If it is a negative (bitterness, rage, harsh language, unkindness, evil behavior or unforgiveness) think about a plan to change your thinking and behavior to the positve or reverse of that isse. Ask a friend to help hold you accountable for your plan to change. Pray that God would meet you in the change, and help turn your words or actions into good.

{wednesday 7.12.17}

Read Ephesians 5:8-20

Observe, Reflect, Apply: What would it look like for you to live more by the Holy Spirit’s power than by your own? How can you claim the power in these verses for your own life today?

{thursday 7.13.17}

Read Ephesians 5:21-33

Observe, Reflect, Apply: If you are married, how can you love and honor your spouse in the ways taught in these verses? If you aren’t married, how can you be preparing your heart, your behavior and your life to some day love and honor a future husband or wife? What about these verses causes you to struggle? Who can you process those thoughts, questions or doubts with?

{friday 7.14.17}

Read Ephesians 6:1-9

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In our modern day setting, how can the instruction in these verses improve our relationships as children (be it adult child or young child), as parents, and in our roles and relationships at work, with bosses, coworkers, and those who report to us? What is one thing you can take away today to improve one of these relationships?

{saturday 7.15.17}

Read Ephesians 6:10-24

Observe, Reflect, Apply: OK, how about a challenge here? As you read these verses, visualize yourself bearing the armor of God. Perhaps sketch that out in an illustration. What piece of God’s armor do you need most today? What piece of God’s armor can help you love the difficult person in your life more today? What piece of God’s armor do you need to see yourself in every day, so that you can be ready to invite someone far from God to your table? Let’s pray for one another this week, for breakthrough in using our armor for good.

{group discussion ideas}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as an Heartland group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters for The Journey.

  • Can you name an ‘takeaway’ or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?

 

{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE for more on how to use the observe-reflect-apply approach to getting the most out of your Bible reading.

The Bible App Get a free Bible for your phone, tablet, and computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

Bible Gateway Provides advanced Bible searching capabilities, which allow readers to find passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.

 

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© 2017 Heartland Community Church 12175 S. Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062 (913) 341-5820.

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