we thank You for Dvora who has put so much work into this workshop….
we ask Your mighty blessings upon her and her teachings today….
open our hearts, spirits and minds to the Biblical truths you would have us learn…..
Bring healing to everyone who comes here today…..
in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
DvoraElisheva It’s hard to believe this is our last workshop… it has gone fast, at least for me.
Today is the fourth and last workshop for this series: Connecting the Dots of Our Disconnected Lives. Before I dive into today’s workshop, I would like to briefly review what we’ve learned so far.
The title I would give our first workshop is “There are Disconnects in Our Lives and It’s OK.” We learned that God has already prepared an answer for the disconnects in our lives. He is not surprised by them and all He asks of us is to start by facing the fact that they are there. Just as we can’t seek a doctor if we don’t know we are sick, we cannot begin on the path to healing unless we admit EXACTLY WHAT we need healed of.
Our second session looked at “Finding Healing Through Cooperating with God.” We learned that while our salvation is not related to works, only to faith; the life we live is very much dependent on our choices and effort—empowered by God. To understand how this related to the healing of our hearts, we looked at 2 Peter 1, particularly verses 3–7 and what is known as the “Ladder of faith.” Interestingly, climbing that ladder is based on two things: Our foundation—the Knowledge of Jesus our Lord, and the promises of God which we cling to. These combined, enable us to make the effort to climb that ladder and grow. By focusing on these things, we grow and are empowered by God to receive the healing work He wants to do in us, for example, to forgive the unforgiveable.
Last week, we talked about “Finding Hope When Life Feels Like GOD Has Betrayed Us.” We looked at the difficult issues of betrayal and grief, and how our feelings can color our view of God. We took an in depth look at Romans 8:28, and were challenged to truly believe that God works ALL things for good to those who love Him and are called by Him. We focused on what it meant to love Him and to be called by Him, to see that this applies to believers in Jesus, and therefore this is a promise we can cling to. (One of the promises of the ladder we are climbing.)
Before I continue, would anyone like to ask a question or comment on something they have learned over the past 3 weeks?
Ok, then I guess I will continue 🙂
This last workshop could be called “The Joy in Being a Blessing—One Dot at a Time.” Because it’s the last one it will be a little long. So we may go a bit overtime.
Most of the time, when we approach God, we are in some way seeking HIS blessing upon us. In other words, we are asking HIM to do something that will contribute to our own personal happiness or welfare.
However, is this all that there is to blessing? Have you ever stopped to consider that YOU, your story—makes YOU— a blessing! Your mess, your failures, and your successes, your tears and your joys, are a blessing. Your past, and everything that happened, becomes a blessing as you let God work all things for good.
Last week we looked at one aspect of God working things for God—how that personally impacts us, how we will be ultimately blessed.
But there is a lot more to being a blessing than this.
To help you see what I mean, I’d like to share a few details with you that I didn’t share in my book.
I wrote that every time things were difficult during my marriage, I felt like God was saying to me, “It’s not about you.”
I would cry out to God, pour out my complaints and my hurt, and over and over, His spirit ministered to me, “It’s not about you.”
What were my complaints and hurt? Were they minor? I’ll let you decide.
One of Rich’s children always had to find a way to insult me and mock my time in Israel. The two that were living at home were in constant rebellion and against me, and always accusing their father of not loving them. I was caught in the middle.
Rich was far sicker than I realized. Even though I had a background in nursing, I did not understand that he was profoundly depressed and that between his physical problems and depression, it was all he could do to function. Some days he would spend the entire day in bed, only to be up half the night sitting and staring at a computer. He was in that condition, when he told me he believed God was leading him to run for Congress—and then I felt the prompting of God’s spirit that I needed to encourage Rich in this!
No one was interested in knowing very much about my life before I married Rich. As much as the people in our church liked us, very few families ever asked Rich and I over to visit, and the one person I confided my frustrations to told her daughter, who told Rich’s daughters, who then accused me of hating them.
Our home needed major repairs, and we couldn’t afford them. I had difficulty finding work, and most of the work I had was via computer—at home. Rich needed major medical care, and we couldn’t afford it… and the list goes on. All my savings (that had been targeted for my retirement) went into caring for Rich and my step-children.
Into that situation, every single time I cried out to God about what was happening, the thought would come, gently yet forcefully in a way I knew was from God, “It’s not about you.”
How do you think I felt when God would say that to me?
Member #1_ I would feel rejected in a way
Member #2 helpless?
Member #3 nods
Member #4 relates
Member #5 tired, at the very least
Member #1_ Like…then what is??!??
Member #6 hopeless
DvoraElisheva Exacatly… all of this.
I will be honest. I had absolutely no idea what He was talking about. But here’s the odd thing. That thought would silence me and suddenly I’d sense His peace being offered to me. I could accept or reject His peace. I wish I could say I accepted His peace every time, but even when I did accept that peace, there were times when I still struggled. I had no idea what God wanted from me.
It would take Rich dying, the girls moving out, my having to give the house to the bank, and filling my car with what I needed and driving out to Colorado to stay with friends for a while, before I’d understand the full message. Today, my challenge is to live out that answer…
One Sunday, not long after Rich died the words of a sermon broke through my grief. The pastor stepped down off the platform and began walking among the people in the congregation. Over and over he repeated, “It’s not about you.” He probably didn’t do it on purpose since I was a guest, but He looked at me a few times.
“It’s about God.”
I literally wept in silence as I finally understood. EVERYTHING that had happened, was happening at that time, and that would happen later was all part of a much bigger picture.
Member #4 ptL
DvoraElisheva What are your thoughts as you consider this for yourself? It is possible that EVERYTHING that has happened in your life is part of a bigger picture?
Member #1_ YES
[Jan 28, 2017 1:12:52 PM EST] [188.8.131.52] Member #7 yes .. for sure
[Jan 28, 2017 1:13:13 PM EST] [184.108.40.206] Member #6 absolutely
[Jan 28, 2017 1:13:21 PM EST] [220.127.116.11] Member #2 yes
DvoraElisheva However, the bigger picture is sometimes very hard to grasp.
When we are struggling with abuse or addictions, when we feel betrayed, or overwhelmed by grief, sometimes hearing about God can make us feel frustrated and even angry. This is because we often view glory based on how people glorify themselves or each other. Therefore, when people say that this will work out for God’s glory… I catch myself thinking, “Glory for God? Really?” Again, I can only speak for me, but often when I’ve heard people say that I was created for God’s glory, I’d tune out. It made me feel small, it made me feel—used.
What about you? What do you think?
Member #1_ Made me wonder…..
Member #3 I can identify with that…. hurting so bad and then people say it’s for God’s glory or will…. made me be angry with God…except that I needed him so bad
Member #1_ Still does
Member #7 felt unaccepted
Member #1_ Yes
DvoraElisheva It’s hard. To be truthful, I never could understand those smiling people who’d count their losses and then say, “Well its all to God’s glory.”
Somewhere along the way, I realized something was wrong with my thinking. So I set out to study God’s glory.
What exactly is “glory?” Here are some of the definitions I found in Webster’s dictionary:
1a : praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent b : worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving 2a : something that secures praise or renown b : a distinguished quality or asset 3a (1) : great beauty and splendor : (2) : something marked by beauty or resplendence b : the splendor and beatific happiness of heaven; 4a : a state of great gratification or exaltation b : a height of prosperity or achievement
I won’t take up time to get into the Hebrew. Enough to say there 10 different words or phrases translated as “Glory” and their meanings are all similar to Webster’s definitions. I checked, so that we could all be 100% certain about just what the word “glory” means.
Is there anything NEGATIVE in these definitions?
Member #1_ NO
Member #2 no
Member #6 no
DvoraElisheva Good, so now I need you to put on your analytical hats: Do you notice anything else about these definitions?
Member #2 they all make me feel good
DvoraElisheva Very good, what else?
Member #1_ A state , a height ,something that’s Marked
Member #5 they are all qualities that in our human state, we are not
DvoraElisheva let me give you a clue
Is the glory proclaimed or observed?
Member #8 both
DvoraElisheva (BASED ON THE DEFINITIONS)
Member #1_ Yes
Member #3 observed
Member #6 observed
Member #3 even given (as in praise)
DvoraElisheva Member #8, how would you call it “proclaimed” (Just want to follow your thinking)
Member #8 maybe didn’t think carefully enough
DvoraElisheva So you mean, proclaimed by the ones observing?
Member #1_ I think I’m thinking of a verse in the Bible about proclaiming the glories of the Lord
Member #2 me too
DvoraElisheva Ok, excellent, the HEAVENS declare the glory of God.
Member #4 me 3
DvoraElisheva But does GOD declare the GLORY of GOD?
Member #1_ Yes
Member #8 mostly those wroshippnig him do
Member #3 nods…
Member #3 God doesn’t really CLAIM it as in proclaim he is “somebody”
DvoraElisheva Think about it, does he say “I’m wonderful, I’m glorious, I’m beautiful? ”
Member #3 He just IS
Member #1_ No
Member #3 nods
Member #8 no
DvoraElisheva Exactly, you see, GLORY is NOT unidirectional.
Member #8 maybe
Member #3 nods
DvoraElisheva In other words, if something (or someone like God) is glorious, that glory cannot be recognized if there is no one to observe or respond to it.
Member #1_ Yes
Member #3 He never ever MAKES us worship Him…
Member #8 right
DvoraElisheva Now think about this: Thus, glory IMPLIES relationship.
Member #3 We do because He IS
DvoraElisheva But here is the interesting thing, as we discussed, there is nothing NEGATIVE about glory.
Member #1_ YES
DvoraElisheva This means, that for God to gain glory from us, there must be something about Him that is so wonderful, that we can only respond by giving Him glory.
Member #8 yes
DvoraElisheva You see, we are not the only ones struggling with disconnection. We live in an upside down, disconnected world. Disconnection is not in and of itself a glorious thing. It is not beautiful, splendid, or honorable, and I doubt of if any of you ever considered your struggles to be an asset. This is the wonder of being made to give God glory. [See 1 Peter 4:11 … in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.]
IF glory implies relationship (and it does), and IF there is only something good, worthy, honorable, and beautiful that can be glorified, then nothing makes more sense than to glorify God and to be created for Him because the only way God can be worthy of being glorified is by loving us!
In the words of John Piper: “God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimately loving act. For him self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things “for the praise of his glory” as Ephesians 1 says, he preserves for us and offers to us the only thing in all the world which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now, and always will be, for himself.” (Let me know when you’ve read this and had a chance to digest it)
Member #1_ Done reading
Member #3 done
Member #8 ok
Member #7 done but not digested 🙂
Member #8 really
Member #1_ Me too lol
[Jan 28, 2017 1:26:11 PM EST] [18.104.22.168] Member #6 digesting
Member #4 chewing
DvoraElisheva It’s Ok, we’ll look some more at this. Why? Because this is why the message—It’s not about you—is very good news. It’s about God and what He is doing in this world to reveal His love to EVERYONE, not just you.
God’s glory, put simply, is about Him loving us, so that His glory can be seen. It is integral to who he is.
Member #8 yes
DvoraElisheva Once we understand this, then something else that is a hard pill to swallow becomes understandable. When my husband died, one of the elder’s of my congregation told me, “O Debbie, how very much the Lord must love you.”
I sensed the truth of this, but I didn’t understand it, until I had a better understanding of God’s glory!
Member #1_ yes
DvoraElisheva And this is where I and YOU become a blessing, one dot at a time. Now think about this, you or I may not FEEL blessed, but we become a blessing.
Before I continue, would anyone like to try and take a guess at how this can be?
Member #2 !
DvoraElisheva Yes Member #2?
Member #2 it is when I go through hardship that….
I can relate to others going through the same things….
and I can share with them at their level….
that way I am not blessed but because of what I have gone through….
I become a blessing to the next person. done
Member #8 yes
[Jan 28, 2017 1:29:26 PM EST] [22.214.171.124] DvoraElisheva Excellent! Yes Member #8?
as Member #2 said hardship can bring others hope
if Im suffering others can know their not alone thatGod understands their pain
that if they come out well I could too done
Member #5 agreed with all that has been said. in addition…
regardless of the depth or breadth of hardship, sometimes I think that just the mere courage to share honestly becomes a blessing….
Member #7 yes
Member #1_ yes
Member #2 agree
DvoraElisheva oh yes
Member #5 particularly in this day of “filters” Done
Member #1_ Sometimes I am sharing a hardship, and it gave others hope, that I didn’t even have yet (done)
DvoraElisheva Oh yeah, I know that one! 🙂
Member #7 yes
DvoraElisheva Anyone else before I continue?
Today, when I find myself struggling, or starting to complain, or questioning what’s happening in my life, I remind myself of what I call “God’s economy.” In other words, what is a good return on God’s investment in us? In the world we want a strong economy. We look at how we invest money to do this. Obviously, the more “money” available, the stronger the economy. So what is God’s economy to gain glory through loving us?
Member #4 to bring glory to His Son
Member #1_ Yes
Member #7 His Kingdom grows
DvoraElisheva true, but let’s look at how that looks in practicality
I’d like to share with you what the people in Rich’s church, others who saw the situation from afar have seen, and what I have learned—looking back at the three years of my marriage. (This will be a bit long but it is the “short list”)
1. Through everything I experienced, I finally understood how important it was to forgive and move on—in regards to my path, and also regarding Rich and his family. I gained a deeper appreciation for God, and my hope was redirected fully on what is to come when I go home to Him because to Live is Christ and to die is gain. However, I also realized that since to live is Christ, then as long as I’m alive, God has something here for me to do.
2. Because most of my work was at home, I had more time to be with Rich than if I’d worked outside of the home. It was time I now treasure.
3. If I had not married Rich, he probably would have died sooner.
4. If I had not married Rich, he would not have paid his bills and would have lost his house; worst case he would have ended up in the streets. Best case, he and family would have split up to live with various family members or friends.
5. If I had not become the step-mother of his girls who were at home and being poorly home schooled, one would never have completed her GED and gotten some college training; the other would never have finished high school and gone on to get her BA in Animal Science.
6. The son who still battles me whenever we meet, and still has little positive to say, would have continued to refuse to take life-saving meds. Today he is healthier, and despite his negativity he listens to me.
7. Rich would never have run for congress. He was a testimony to literally 100s of people and people who refused to enter a church came to his funeral and heard the gospel.
8. I’ve shared the gospel with many Israeli’s who otherwise wouldn’t listen, because of what I experienced.
9. Today I still have an influential role in the lives of all of my step-children. Not an easy role, but they listen to me, and God is working in their lives. They refused to call me mother or step mother, but they all insist their children call me “Grandma” and today, they do call me “mother” on their FB pages!
Now it’s your turn. Let’s take a minute or two for you to write in your notebooks anything that comes to mind that you never before considered could be a blessing.
DvoraElisheva This is God’s economy: He did not think it wasteful to ask me to give up everything I had in Israel so that He could bring me to the USA, to be a blessing to Rich and His family—even though they didn’t know it at the time. And He wasn’t concerned at all about my humanity—the fact that I would fail at times, succeed at others, and that everyone around me would see when I succeeded or failed (for example, lost my temper, cried, gained weight from stress, failed in getting a job I was qualified for, etc.).
Why should I be surprised? This is the God who allowed Joseph’s brothers to betray him so that decades later, God could use Joseph to save that very same family, as well as many other nations, including Egypt.
This is the God who allowed a famine to fall on Israel so that Elimilech would take his wife Naomi and his two sons to Moab. This is the God who allowed two Jewish men to take wives from among the Moabites, and then took the lives of the father and sons, leaving Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth as widows.
This is the God who became flesh—in Jesus—whose mother was Mary—a descendent of Ruth!
This is the God who paid the price for our sin through Jesus. The God who left the glory of heaven, took on human form, and lived and died to save us—because He loves us. Because He is for us.
Think about the life of Joseph. Every single dot of his life made no sense. Betrayal, over and over. From the pit to the prison. It wasn’t about Joseph—in the big scheme of things, it was NEVER about Joseph. It was about what God was going to do THROUGH Joseph. It was because of what Joseph experienced that He became uniquely equipped to be a blessing to the very ones who had betrayed him. This is amazing!
Think about Ruth. We know really very little about her story. But she surely knew what grief was. If you try to think it through rationally, why on earth would Ruth choose to follow the God who took her husband from her? Hers is the mystery of faith, and through her life, and many others in Scripture, we see personal tragedy turned to redemption.
Now here is the thing, sometimes we want to HEAR from God. We want a vision, a revelation, something that is going to help us through. Joseph had his dreams… but it was his dreams that led to his betrayal! Now, yes, we see the bigger story… but perhaps it could have happened differently. There are other ways God could have gotten Joseph into Egypt without betrayal. But God knew the brothers would betray with Joseph and He worked for GOOD in all their lives, despite their terrible deed.
But in the story of Ruth, while the name of God is mentioned more than a dozen times, God never performs any miracles. The dead are not raised. There is no vision from heaven or an angel with a message of hope. God seems to be silent. Yet Ruth heard God in the silence.
She was aware of His presence through an orchestration of events that spoke to her. In Ruth 2:3, Ruth “just happens” to find herself in the field of Naomi’s relative. Ruth asks him why he is treating her well, and in verse 11, Boaz tells her:
“All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me.”
Ruth and Naomi thought they were alone. Naomi wanted to be called “Marah” which means bitterness. Certainly Ruth missed her husband. Certainly she had no idea how the Jewish people would receive her. She had no idea that everyone was talking about the good things she had done for Naomi, despite the death of her husband.
Everyone was watching Ruth. She didn’t know it. And everyone, including angels and spiritual principalities and powers, are watching you and I.
For you and I, there is so much more to our stories than anyone of us will EVER know. The time you got angry at a clerk, and then apologized. The time you collapsed emotionally, and others had to help you out. But your collapse was different from that of non-believers and impacted a doctor or a nurse or another patient. You may NEVER know how what happened to you changed another person’s life for the better. Or about the person who years from now will accept Jesus because of something you said or did.
When you are willing to be God’s blessing to a hurting world, you become empowered to live on the side of redemption as an overcomer. Overcomer becomes your identity: rather than the popular identity in the world of being a victim and living as a survivor.
Thoughts/comments before I continue?
Member #6 !
DvoraElisheva Yes Member #6
Member #6 This is a very important point….
the culture in the United States if of people always being a victim…..
whether of the state, religion, public opinion, etc…..
Member #1_ yes
Member #6 the Bible stresses we are overcomers in Christ…..
the point is, what we do with our circumstances….
if we choose to remain a victim …
that is what we will always be….
if we choose to see what God can do with our circumstances…
and turn our will and life over to him….
things change and we are no longer victims. [done]
DvoraElisheva Amen, Member #6, you are SO right!
Member #3 thanks Member #6
Member #5 completely agree Member #6. This contrast of overcomer v. survivor is spot on. Survivor implies victim which is damaging.
Member #4 tyfs Member #6
Member #7 ty Member #6
Member #1_ Yes
DvoraElisheva God NEVER sees us as victims. Think about that!
Member #1_ YES
DvoraElisheva This is why Romans 8:28 is not just about us being blessed, part of all things working for good is how YOU become a blessing to others.
Why one dot at a time? What I’ve written in my book is my story up until 2016. But my story isn’t over yet. Neither is your story over yet. There is so much more ahead, and we can be assured, that because God is for us—who can be against us?
I am going to post Romans 8: 31-39 here. As you read it, I’d like you to consider ALL that has happened to you in light of these verses.
Member #1_ Amen
DvoraElisheva 31…If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Rom. 8:37 No, in ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If anything in particular is speaking to you about your situation, please write it in your notebooks now, before you forget.
We are almost done, so please let me know you are ready to continue.
I hope that you have been blessed through these workshops. But I can guarantee you one thing—YOU have each been a blessing to me. You have encouraged me, by participating, by asking questions, by sharing, by allowing me to share with you. I needed this time as much as you did. If you have been a blessing to me in the brief time our lives have overlapped, how much more is God using you to be a blessing to others in your life?
Member #4 i feel that He uses me to be a blessing to others as long as i’m in His will
DvoraElisheva Member #4, you know the amazing thing? HE makes a blessing of you even when you think you are NOT in His will! That is how much God loves you!
Member #3 NODS
I think that anyone in recovery can identify with your lesson today….
there were many days when I was in the middle of my addiction that I would…
have said were NOT in God’s will…
Member #1_ relates
Member #3 but as you said… He has worked it all together for His good….
Member #8 right
Member #3 And sometimes only when looking back…
seeing how God has put my life together am I able to see…
that not only was I never alone/abandoned…
but He has worked all that for me to be useful to Him today.
I am a grateful recovering alcoholic…
DvoraElisheva Thank YOU Jesus!
Member #3 if I’d never been an alcoholic I don’t think I would know and seek God like I do today. Praie God!
Member #5 I also feel this same way and what I have recently come across is this…
our inability to conceive of God’s full omni-everything is particularly limited regarding time…
we experience and perceive time in a straight line but God isn’t limited in that way….
Member #4 understands
Member #1_ Yes
Member #5 so even when we are blatantly acting out of His Will, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t have a purpose for it…
Gary Stearman of Prophecy Watchers has a great study on this concept of time for God that sheds great light on this.
DvoraElisheva It’s truly awesome!
Member #4 tyfs
Member #3 thanks Member #5!
DvoraElisheva Would anyone else like to share something before I close in prayer?’
Member #7 i was just thinking how many times God has blessed me through people who don’t even know Him or have rejected Him
Member #1_ Relates
DvoraElisheva Me too! Hundreds of times!
Member #4 tyfs Member #7
Member #5 same
Member #1_ I just want to say I have found each of these individual workshops as Rich, and all of them together has been incredible
DvoraElisheva Praise God… thank you!
Our precious heavenly Father,
Thank you — O thank you that you made me, made us for Your glory. We never realized before what an awesome thing it is, because it means we were made to be LOVED by You. It means we were made for a relationship with You.
As we look around us, there are so many people whom You made and whom You love, and they just don’t get it. But it has taken us a while to understand just how wonderful it is to be loved by you too.
Lord God, we ask that You would let Your economy have its full work in our lives. Make us a blessing to others. Wherever we are in our lives and in our healing, make each one of us a blessing to those around us. Take ALL that has happened to us and turn it into something that we will look back upon in awe, amazed at how what the evil one meant to destroy us, you grabbed a hold of, and turned into a blessing.
Member #1_ Yes
DvoraElisheva Thank you that in all these things WE are more than overcomers regarding what has happened in our lives. Lord, we are secure in you, we are safe in your love, and Your love really is big enough and powerful enough to get us through.
In Jesus Name WE pray….Amen