For Such a Time as This: Women of the Bible Who Made an Impact

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God uses ordinary women to impact the lives of others so that their Creator can use them as He designed.
That's the story of this study: God using ordinary women to impact the world. Just as God raised up Esther to act in a particular time in history for His purposes, so He has raised us up as women in our day to make an impact for His kingdom.
From participants and leaders of the study:
I really enjoyed learning more about the women of the Bible and God's timing & work through them. I learned God can use me, too!
Each lesson helped me focus on areas of my life that need work. Overall I'm more focused on God and His will for my life and more aware of areas of my life where I have potential for growth.
It was exciting to see how these women displayed the traits of obedience, submissiveness, graciousness, and worshipfulness even in difficult circumstances. God was intimately involved in their lives, orchestrating and unfolding His Kingdom purposes, just as He is today, if we but seek and follow.

 

Focus passages:
Lesson 1: Deborah and Jael
Lesson 2: Ruth
Lesson 3: Hannah
Lesson 4: Abigail
Lesson 5: The Widow of Zarephath
Lesson 6: Esther, Part I
Lesson 7: Esther, Part II
Lesson 8: Esther, Part III
Lesson 9: Mary, the mother of
Jesus
Lesson 10: Mary of Bethany
  • Download Word Document Click here to download the student workbook for this series.
  • Click here  to purchase printed version of the workbook.
  • Download Word Document Click here to download the leader's guide for this series.
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Introduction to For Such a Time as This

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Introduction

I have taken the words from Esther 4:14, “for such a time as this,” as the theme of this study. Just as God raised up Esther to act in a particular time in history for His purposes, so He has raised us up as women in our day to make an impact for His kingdom.

Wherever you are, whatever your situation, God has a plan and a purpose to use you for His kingdom work at this particular time in history. You are not here by accident and your life is not random. God is at work around you and through you. Sometimes all you have to do is pay attention and look for Him because He is constantly busy on kingdom business.

God invites us as women to be part of His work. As we study the stories of these women of the Bible, consider how God may use you right where you are at this time and for His purposes.

Do you want your life to make an impact? Learn from these women to let God use you where He has placed you. I am excited to see how God will use His word and the small groups to challenge and encourage each of us week by week!

Kay Daigle

How to Use this Study

Come with an Attitude of Prayer

We can understand spiritual truth only as God reveals it to us. If your desire is to have the Holy Spirit show you the truths and applications in these Scriptures, go to God each day and ask Him to illumine your mind and open your heart to His message.

Study Daily

This study is designed to lead you personally to the word of God so that your life is transformed. Each lesson is divided into five days of study so that daily time with God becomes your habit and you will be available for the Lord to speak to you each day. You have five days of work and one day of class each week, totaling six days. Do not hurry through the lesson, but allow the Holy Spirit to move in your heart.

Use only the Scripture to answer the questions

As you work through this study, use only the Scripture itself to answer the questions unless the lesson instructs you to use outside sources. If available, use one of the literal translations (KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB) instead of a paraphrased Bible (such as The Living Bible). A paraphrase is someone else’s interpretation. Give God time to teach you instead of running to other people for your answers. There is nothing more exciting than seeing it for yourself! When you come to class, you will have opportunities to learn more from your small group and from the lectures.

Special types of questions

Sharing questions are designed help you consider how the truth applies to you specifically. It will be your choice whether to share your answer with your group.

Digging for Diamonds are optional questions because they are designed for those of you who wish to take more time and really dig into the Scriptures. Your group will not discuss these but feel free to add your insights when time allows.

Responding to God questions ask you to make a response based on the lesson. Often you write a prayer. You will never have to read your answers to this question.

A Precious Word from God

Each week we will focus on a verse, or part of one, from our lesson. I encourage you to look at it early in the week and memorize it so that God can use it in a personal way.

Stories from Real Women

Each lesson includes a true story that applies the principles of that lesson. I love reading these real stories from the lives of real women! Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty!

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1. Deborah and Jael

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the student handout for this lesson.

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the manuscript for this lesson.

Download Power PointClick here to download the PowerPoint for this lesson.

A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this studyI want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.


 

War is not something we like to think about, especially as women, and we certainly don’t want to participate in one. As a country we weigh the issues carefully to determine whether the goals are lofty enough for us to sacrifice our men and women, and even our own lives. As there were times when Israel had to fight for God’s kingdom, today we battle also, but our opponent is an unseen enemy. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 NIV). As soldiers in the battle, we can learn from these who fought for God in the days of the judges.

Our verse this week is part of Judges 4:14. It is a promise God gave to Barak, but the application is to us as we follow the Lord when He calls us to move out in faith.

A Precious Word from God

“Behold, the Lord has gone out before you.” Judges 4:14 NASB

Historical background of the book of Judges:

After God brought the children of Israel into the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership (c.1405 BC), He did not give them a king, but He Himself was to be their king. This time of Jewish history is called the age of the judges. The judges were those periodically raised up by God to deliver the people from their enemies and to administer justice. Deborah was the fourth in the series of judges, and scholars approximate that the events we will read concerning her occurred in 1237 BC, or around 168 years after the Jews entered their land.

Day One Study

In order to be sure you understand the context of the story, the first thing you should do is to read the narrative of Chapter 4. If you are familiar with this story, read it as if you have never heard it before. As you read, look up the locations on your Bible maps or atlas.

Read Judges 4:1-24.

    1. Describe your first impressions of these events, both your thoughts and your feelings.

Good Bible study skills begin with observation. It is crucial to read carefully and see exactly what the text says before attempting to understand it.

    2. If you were a reporter, you would want to answer the “5 w’s and an h questions” about any story: who, what, where, when, why, and how. This is a good way to be sure you are observing the text carefully. Write down what you learn as you consider those questions.

    3. What surprised you about Deborah or the events of this story?

    4. Sharing question: Describe a time in your life when times were difficult or when you were overcome by hard circumstances, as the Jews were at this time.

    5. Responding to God: Ask God for the courage of Deborah as you face trying times or as you face God’s enemy. I find it helpful to actually write out my prayers so that I think through what I want to say. It also gives me a record of what I prayed at certain times of my life. I can go back to a study of this kind and see how faithful God has been to answer prayers that I may have even forgotten!

  • Diamonds in the Word: Use your commentaries or your Bible reference books to study the general period of the judges, but not specifics about Deborah.

Day Two Study:

Read Judges 4:1-5.

    6. Who were the enemies of the sons of Israel at this time (4:2) and how were they treating God’s people (4:3)? How did the children of Israel respond to this treatment? (4:3)

    7. Sharing question: Share the story of a time in your life when God used a difficulty (person or situation) to cause you to turn your attention back to Him. What did you learn from this or how did it change you?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study these enemies of Israel and find out what you can about their culture and their history.

Read Judges 4:6-10 and Exodus 3:7-4:17.

    8. In these passages God called Barak and Moses to special tasks. Evaluate both God’s words to them and their responses to Him. What do you learn from them, both positive and negative?

    9. Sharing question: Is there any area of your life today where you are failing to trust God to fulfill His responsibilities and promises to you? What do you need to do about it?

    10. Sharing question: Consider our Precious Word from God for this week. Write down the story of a situation in your life when you saw God go before you and give you the victory.

    11. Responding to God: Spend time thanking and praising God for going before you in the situation you named above or in a situation with which you are currently dealing.

Day Three Study

Read Judges 4:10-16.

    12. Specifically, how did God fulfill His promises to Barak?

    13. Look up the following scriptures. How do they relate to the story of Barak? How can they help you when God calls you to complete a task for Him?

      a. Psalm 33:4

      b. 1 Thess. 5:24

      c. 2 Timothy 1:7

      d. Heb. 10:23

    ·Diamonds in the Word: Look up more verses that focus on God’s faithfulness. Memorize the ones that you find most meaningful.

    14. In 4:6-7 and again in 4:14, what did Deborah do? What does this reveal about her? What do you learn for your own life from Deborah’s example?

    15. Sharing question: Is there any situation right now in your life where you need to speak up for God to a believing friend who is failing to follow God? Or are you the one reluctant to obey? Share with your group what you need to do. Ask them to pray with you about it.

    16. Responding to God: Write a prayer for the faith and courage that you need to move forward with God in the situation that you just described in the previous question.

Day Four Study

Read Judges 4:11, 17-24.

Possibly the events here are new to you. I do not remember being taught about Jael as a child in Sunday School. I’m sure you can see why!

    17. Who was Jael and why did Sisera trust her? (4:17)

    18. Tell the story of how God fulfilled the prophecy of 4:9.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Look in your commentaries for information about what peace between parties or families meant in that day.

    19. What insight do you gain about Sisera’s death from Judges 5:31?

    20. Sharing question: Is there any enemy in your life that is controlling you as the enemy here controlled Israel? It may be a habit, a sin, or simply lacking the discipline to pray and prioritize your life. If God reveals something to you, what can you do to destroy it, as Jael did?

    21. Responding to God: Write a prayer for the courage and faith to take the action needed to be rid of this enemy.

Day Five Study

Read Judges 5:1-31.

 

As you read, keep in mind that this section is a song; therefore, it contains some figurative language, just as poetry always does. Read it slowly and carefully, considering its message. Do not worry about understanding every line. We will focus on those points that help us with our lesson.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Use your concordance or topical Bible to look up New Testament scriptures about war and battle. What do you learn for your own life?

    22. What seems to be the main point of the 1st stanza (5:2-5)? To determine what is emphasized as a main point, notice what is repeated.

    23. Sharing question: What applications for your own life do you see in the answer to the previous question?

    24. Sharing question: Deborah was a leader. Where has God placed you as a leader—in your home, at your work, in His church? What do you learn about godly leadership from her?

Week after week we will be looking at the lives of women and discovering how they impacted their worlds as God used them for His purposes and in their own time. As you consider how God was working in these situations, think about His timing and His purposes in the woman’s life, as well as His purposes for His people and the world. Prayerfully, meditate upon these possibilities with each character studied.

    25. How do you see God use Deborah for His purpose and time?

    26. How do you see God use Jael for His purpose and time?

    27. Responding to God question: Write a prayer for God to use you, an ordinary woman like Deborah and Jael, for His time and for His purposes.

Leslie’s Story

I had a very eye-opening experience recently where I was able to stand up for the Lord with some friends of mine, who live nearby. In getting to know them better over the last few years, I had come to believe that they had a personal relationship with Christ and were living for Him alone.

We enjoyed meeting occasionally to catch up and enjoy some adult conversation. At this particular lunch, our conversation turned a little deeper, and we started talking about spiritual things. Although, their idea of “spiritual things” was nothing that I had ever heard of or at all believed in. They started talking about a strange Asian belief of arranging your furniture a certain way in your house to obtain a better balance in your life, which would bring about prosperity, love etc. I was about to come out of my seat when I heard them talk in agreement about it and that they were both doing it and had been doing it for years. I really felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to speak up for the Lord’s sake and interrupt their excitement about this strange religious practice they were doing in their “Christian” walk. So I said, “Do you think God is bringing about these positive things, by you placing your furniture in a certain way?” They both looked at me and laughed and said, “NO! It’s just energy between the furniture that does it.” There was a bit of tension building between us, as the conversation turned to the person of Jesus, the core of the Christian faith. The Lord filled me with His boldness and I said “What about the divinity of Christ?” I told them that the only way to the Father is through His Son Jesus and that this life is our only chance to accept Him or reject Him.

I was able to stand up for the Lord that day and share the truth with these precious women friends. It was very uncomfortable to do it, but I knew I had to please the Lord and not man. I realized that day what it meant to be blinded to the truth of the gospel. They think they are “doing” the right things to earn their way to heaven. That is such a heavy burden to hold being imperfect humans. Praise you, Lord that you took that burden upon yourself and have saved me and set me free from trying to earn my way into heaven.

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2. Ruth

We tend to look at our physical circumstances and resources as indicative of how much we can do for God. Surely, He uses those of power and wealth to impact the world! But God’s word tells us the story of Ruth—a widow, penniless, living in a foreign land, sole provider for her mother-in-law—who makes a great impact for God’s kingdom! Learn from her story about yourselves and your God!

A Precious Word from God

“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” Ruth 2:12 NASB

Historical background: Read Ruth 1:1 to learn about the setting for Ruth’s story, probably in the last half of the 12th century BC. Look in your Bible or Bible atlas to discover the location of Moab.

Day One Study

Read Ruth 1:1-22.

    1. Naomi faced much tragedy. What happened in Moab?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the culture and religion of Moab at that time.

    2. In order to understand much of what happens in this book, it is necessary to read about the laws concerning redemption. Remember that they were given by God to protect the widow and to keep the inheritance in the family. What do you learn from these verses about these laws?

      a. Deut. 25:5-6

      b. Lev. 25:23-28

    3. In your own words explain Naomi’s argument to her daughter-in-laws in Ruth 1:11-13, relating her points to the laws of redemption.

Naomi literally means “my pleasant one” or “my lovely one.” The name Mara (1:20-21) means “bitter.”

              From NET Bible notes p. 464 and p. 467

    4. In light of this information and the whole chapter, how did Naomi’s tragedy affect her? How would you have felt if you were Naomi? If you were Ruth?

    5. Reread Ruth’s words to Naomi in 1:16-17 in light of the attitude that Naomi had at the time because of the tragedies she had endured. What insights do you gain about Ruth?

    6. Sharing question: Consider Ruth’s words in 1:16-17. Do you have that kind of committed, unconditional love for those in your family? What if they are hard to love because of sin, bitterness, depression, or illness?

    7. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem regarding your desire to love others as Ruth loved Naomi. Include confession for your lack of love for those who are hard to love.

Day Two Study

Read Ruth 2:1-23.

    8. How does Deut. 24: 19-22 relate to Ruth’s activities to provide for her and Naomi’s needs? (2:2-3)

    9. What principles and applications for the modern Christian do you glean from God’s Old Testament plan to provide for the needy?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the New Testament principles of helping the poor by using a concordance or topical Bible.

    10. Sharing question: Has the need ever arisen for you to humble yourself in taking care of the needs of your family? Describe the situation. What did you learn from the experience?

    11. What do you learn in this chapter about Ruth’s character? As you answer this, be sure and explain either what she says or does which reveals each quality.

Ruth 2:20 describes Naomi’s relationship to Boaz. The note in the NASB margin calls him their “redeemer”. The NIV says, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.”

    12. Review Lev.25:23-28, the laws of redemption that you read yesterday. Then look in a regular English dictionary and write the definition of the word redeem or redeemer. What insights do you have about the relationship of Boaz to Naomi? You might want to mark these words in your Bible as you continue through the book of Ruth because they represent a significant theme in the story.

    13. If you were Ruth, what feelings may you have had after the encounter with Boaz, considering the situation?

    14. Sharing question: The Old Testament laws of redemption involve the principle that we have responsibility for extended family. How are you caring for your extended family’s needs?

    15. Responding to God: Write down your prayer asking God to show you one particular way to care for the needs of your extended family.

Day Three Study

Read Ruth 3:1-18.

    16. Summarize the events of this chapter.

“While Ruth and Boaz did not actually have a sexual encounter at the threshing floor, there is no doubt that Ruth’s actions are symbolic and constitute a marriage proposal.”

              NET Bible note p. 471

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read the notes in your commentaries on Ruth 3:2-4, 7 only.

    17. As you meditate upon the chapter, perhaps rereading it, write down any insights you have into Ruth’s character and what in the chapter leads you to these conclusions. What do you learn from her?

    18. Sharing question: Ruth obviously trusted Naomi’s judgment because she quickly followed her counsel. Who in your life do you turn to for wise Christian counsel? If you have no one, what plan do you have to find a wise, older woman to be a friend and mentor?

     

    19. Sharing question: Has God spoken to you through the life of Ruth regarding your family relationships? How?

    20. Responding to God: Write out your prayer for a strong and wise relationship with an older Christian woman. Talk to God about the women whom you know as possibilities.

Day Four Study

Read Ruth 4:1-22.

    21. Tell this part of the story in your own words.

    22. How did Ruth’s life impact Naomi’s?

    23. Sharing question: What is God saying to you about your own life as you look at Naomi’s?

    24. As we consider God’s purpose and timing in the life of Ruth, what other insights do you have? (Be sure and consider Ruth 4:18-22.)

  • Digging for Diamonds: Read a summary of King David’s life in your Bible encyclopedia or dictionary.

    25. Sharing question: Share with your group what you do to encourage an older woman who is in your life.

    26. Responding to God: Spend time listening to God. Write down what He says to you about your relationship with older women. Commit to follow what He tells you to do.

Day Five Study

Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer, an Old Testament picture of Jesus as our Kinsman-Redeemer. Read the following verses and write down word for word what is said which answers the given question. Make it a practice to write the scripture word for word as often as you possibly can because it helps you hide the word of God itself in your heart, rather than causing you to focus on your own words.

 

    27. Read Hebrews 2:14-15. What did Jesus have to do to become our kinsman? Why?

    28. Read 1 Peter 1:18-19.

      a. From what did Jesus redeem His people?

      b. With what did He do this redeeming?

Have you been redeemed like Ruth? Jesus is available to be your Kinsman-Redeemer. Right now you can ask Him to redeem you from your sins, recognizing that you can never redeem yourself. He is there waiting to purchase your freedom from sin with His own blood.

He, who was eternally God with the Father in heaven, chose to come to earth as a man to die for His relatives, including you. He bore the penalty of death that we should have borne for our sins (Rom. 6:23) when He died for us on the cross. God showed the world that He accepted that payment for our sins when He raised Jesus up on the third day. Now we can be free to be God’s children, assured of life with Him forever. Simply believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be and rely upon His redemption to make you His very own forever.

    29. Responding to God: Write down your prayer asking Him to be your Kinsman-Redeemer, or write down your prayer of thanks for His redeeming you.

     

     

    30. What parallels do you see between Boaz as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer and Jesus as our Kinsman-Redeemer?

    31. Our Precious Word from God this week focuses on God’s protection and provision for us. This is pictured in taking refuge under the shelter of His wings. Review the story of Ruth. How was God faithful to be her refuge by providentially working in her circumstances?

  • Digging for Diamonds: Look in your concordance for other uses in the Bible of redeem/ (Hebrew gal’al) is used. Look up the verses to add to your understanding of this concept.

    32. Sharing questionIn what areas of your life do you need to come to God and make Him your refuge? Perhaps you are trusting in other things or people instead of God. Perhaps your eyes are on the situation instead of the wings over you. Write down your thoughts.

 

    33. Responding to God: Spend time in prayer thanking God for being your refuge in those particular ways. Use Psalm 91:1-4 as your guide.

We have two stories this week. The first one is about reaching out to neighbors and impacting them. It is a great encouragement to us to work at relationships with new people, especially those nearby in our everyday world.

The other story is from a woman embraced by the women in our NBC Bible study. Because she was moving to Pennsylvania, she wrote this to thank them for the impact that had on her.

Just as Ruth was accepted by Naomi and Boaz into their family, so we should accept others.

Michelle’s Story

My husband and I moved into our first home six years ago. We were excited to have a place to call home with the hopes of one day starting a family. That day came for us three years later and it was then that my life took on a new and different look. I no longer had the nine to five job, but a twenty four hour “mommy” job. Staying at home was something I always wanted to do but the time had come and I found it much harder than I ever thought it would be. This new job had different demands for me: it required a lot more time, less sleep and no connection with the outside world. Staying at home was definitely not looking like what I had dreamed about, until I started to meet my neighbors!

As I began to build relationships with these women I found it to be so encouraging being in the same stage of life. Our friendships deepened and grew but something was missing in one of the girl’s lives: a personal, growing relationship with God. As I spent time with her and learned her story I realized that she had grown up in church, knew the Lord but once she became married she no longer was in church. I had the opportunity to invite her to our summer Bible study at church. I was a little nervous as to what she might say, but to my surprise she was so excited that I asked and she came regularly that summer. Her family now attends NBC on Sundays. It is so exciting to see her girls come to Sunday school and learn about God, and to know it all started with a simple question, prompted by God: “Would you like to go with me this summer to a Bible study at my church?”

Debbie’s Story

Because each of you has been in my life since coming to NBC, I want to share something with you. In the fall of 2001, I was encouraged to go to NBC on the advice that, faith is not a solo activity. I intellectually knew/believed that God's Son came and was crucified for our sins. Though I was thankful for His sacrifice, I lacked true understanding of the how, why and the 'for whom'-collectively. Not to mention the trust, counsel and relationship waiting for me with/through Him. I was what you might say, a spectator Christian. My friend saw this and wanted more for me.

For starters, I had never attended a Bible study or a Sunday school class or prayed out loud with anyone else in the room; I didn't know about the covenants and promises from Genesis to Revelation; I had never sung a hymn other than those one would hear on the radio, such as “Amazing Grace.” I was also very resistant to trust people-particularly those who I believed shared nothing in common (divorced parents, blended family, first-generation college educated); oh yes, and don't forget about 'being independent!'

"Fellowship" was not a familiar word. WOW!

My first group leader was loving and kind, another loving inquisitive heart sparked more interest, and a third member of my group was quick to invite me to a Sunday School class which somehow led to being a Munchkin at the Women's retreat meeting many wonderful folks there. So, how did I go from seeking the Lord to dressing up as a Munchkin so quickly? I can't say, but it could not have happened without Him. Then the following session my new small group of women continued to break my resolve to 'go-it-alone. Here were more independent godly women I could relate and did I mention, asked the hard questions.

All that to say, I've experienced many firsts in the past four years... as you know. The Holy Spirit has a way of opening one's heart-- to understanding, trust, and a willingness to receive not just His love, but to receive love through others, then the courage to return/pass it on.

I cherish that many firsts and some hardships were experienced along side a group of ladies such as you. I can only pray that I continue to keep an open mind and heart about the future. You are in my heart and prayers-with love always, Thanks again!

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3. Hannah

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the student handout for this lesson.

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the manuscript for this lesson.

Download Power PointClick here to download the PowerPoint for this lesson.

A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this studyI want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.


 

Have you ever had hopes and dreams that did not turn out as you planned? Perhaps you find yourself single when you desire a home and family. Maybe your career has bottomed out, or you are bored with your chosen profession. Although your dreams may be different from those of Hannah, you will identify with her feelings of disappointment and hurt.

A Precious Word from God

“For it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails” 1 Samuel 2:9c NET

Historical background: Hannah lived during the period of the judges, just as Deborah and Ruth did. Her story occurred toward the end of this time during which Israel had no king, approximately 1120 BC. Eli was both the high priest and the judge of Israel at that time.

Day One Study

Read 1 Samuel 1:1-8.

    1. Describe the situation in Hannah’s home.

    2. How would you have felt in Hannah’s situation?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Use your Bible references to read about the importance of children in that culture.

Read 1 Samuel 1:9-18.

    3. Write down the ways that Hannah dealt with her emotions. (1:10, 12, 15)

    4. Sharing question: How do you usually handle your emotions? What can you learn from Hannah?

    5. How did Eli encourage Hannah?

     

    6. Sharing question: Has there ever been a time in your life when God sent someone to encourage you to believe He would answer your prayers? If so, write down some specifics of what happened and how God used that encouragement to impact you.

    7. Responding to God: Write a prayer asking God either to send you someone to encourage you that He hears your prayers or to send you to encourage someone who needs it.

Day Two Study

Reread Hannah’s vow in 1 Samuel 1:11.

    8. What was Hannah’s vow?

    9. Read Numbers 6:2-8 concerning the Nazirite vow and answer these questions:

      a. What was the main point of the Nazirite vow? (Num. 6:2, 6, 8) FYI—To see the main point of any passage, look for repeated words, phrases, or ideas.

      b. What were the outward identifications that someone had taken this vow?

      c. What parallels do you see between the Nazirite and Hannah’s vow that would suggest that her son would be a lifelong Nazirite? What doesn’t seem to fit?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find other biblical examples of Nazirites.

    10. Consider the significance of Hannah’s vow. Why do you think she was willing to make such an extreme promise?

    11. Sharing question: As a believer, you are set apart, or dedicated, to the Lord for the rest of your life, similarly to Samuel. In what outward ways should others be able to identify Christians? Can others so identify you? Why or why not?

    12. Responding to God: Through a poem, a picture, or a written prayer, describe your dedication to the Lord.

 

Day Three Study

Read 1 Samuel 1:19-28.

    13. Summarize what happened.

    14. Read these verses and write down what you learn about vows:

      a. Deut. 23:21-23

      b. Ecc. 5:1-7

      c. Matt. 5:33-37

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find other references to vows and promises. Compare them with these others in the previous question.

    15. Sharing question: What vows have you made before God? Considering the previous verses, how important is it to fulfill them?

    16. How does Psalm 15, especially v. 4, apply to Hannah?

    17. How would you have felt if you were Hannah, knowing that the time would come to deliver your son to the tabernacle to fulfill your vow?

    18. Responding to God: Ask God for the integrity to follow through with your promises (your word), even when it hurts to do so.

     

     

Day Four Study

Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

    19. Describe Hannah’s attitude as she left Samuel. (You might review 1 Samuel 1:24-28 also.)

    20. What insights do you receive from Hannah’s words that help you understand how she could have this kind of attitude at such a difficult time?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the sovereignty of God, either in your resources or by finding cross-references.

    21. Sharing question: Which of these truths about God do you need to remember right now in your present situation? Why?

    22. Look back at the Precious Word from God for this week, from Hannah’s words here. How did Hannah prevail in her life? What do you learn from her about prevailing in your life?

Read 1 Samuel 2:11, 18-21.

    23. How did God bless Hannah’s faithfulness to Him?

    24. Responding to God: Write a prayer of praise for something God has done for you this past week.

Day Five Study

Review Hannah’s story. Read 1 Samuel 2:12-34; 3:10-21.

    25. Record any insights you have as to God’s purpose and timing in giving Hannah her son Samuel.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read in your reference materials about Eli and his sons.

    26. Describe Hannah’s character traits. Give specific examples of each.

    27. Sharing question: What is God saying to you personally through the story of Hannah?

    28. Responding to God: Write a prayer responding to God’s message to you.

Lisa shares her story of relinquishing something to God that was precious to her.

Lisa’s Story

When I first came on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, I really desired to go somewhere new and leave Colorado. On my placement request form I put any where in the Midwest. I felt I had a lot of good reasons to support my desire: my dad was living in Ohio, I had several good friends on staff with Crusade there, and I was ready for a geographic change. So, the day of receiving our placement came and I very “spiritually” took my sealed placement envelope to the prayer church, prayed, opened the envelope, burst into tears, and threw the paper across the pews!

Instead of my placement being in the Midwest, it was Colorado State University (CSU) – an hour away from home! So much for my desires! It was the last place I wanted and thought I needed. I was so shocked, frustrated, and disappointed. And really mad at God. After some long discussions with the people who did my placement, I understood their reasoning behind keeping me in CO, but I still wasn’t happy about it. I finally realized that I needed to yield to God and trust in my leaders’ wisdom and the fact that God was working through them, even though I couldn’t see it at the time. Shortly after I got to CSU, I realized how God had me in the perfect place with the perfect boss; a man that to this day is one of my heroes and the first person in authority in my life to ever show me grace. His friendship and leadership has had a huge impact on why I am the person I am today.

http://feeds.bible.org/kay_daigle/forsuch/daigle_forsuch_03.mp3
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4. Abigail

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the student handout for this lesson.

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the manuscript for this lesson.

Download Power PointClick here to download the PowerPoint for this lesson.

A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this studyI want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.


 

Relationships can be hard, and there may be none more difficult than marriage. What God designed to reflect the unity and intimacy of the Godhead does not often look that way. Abigail dealt with an overbearing and verbally abusive husband. As you read her story, consider how difficult her life must have been and how she handled it.

A Precious Word from God

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom. 12:21 NASB

Historical background: Samuel was the last of the judges. Saul became the first king of Israel, but he was disobedient to the Lord. As a result, God had Samuel anoint David as king. Although David continued to be loyal to King Saul, the king became jealous of him and sought to kill him, forcing David to flee for his life. With hundreds of followers, he journeyed about the land attempting to avoid the king and his soldiers. Our story this week takes place during this period of flight, in approximately 1030 BC.

Day One Study

Read 1 Samuel 25:1-13.

    1. What do these verses tell you about Abigail?

    2. Describe the situation between David and Nabal.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Scan 1 Samuel 20:30-24:22 to put this story into context.

    3. What insights do you gain about Nabal’s character from the descriptions of him and his treatment of David?

    4. Read Romans 13:7-10. How do the principles here apply to this situation?

    5. Responding to God: Ask God to give you the names of people to whom you need to give thanks, praise, or honor. One may be someone who impacted you; yet, you have never thanked her. It may be someone to whom you should express honor for something he has achieved, but you find yourself jealous instead. Write down the names and what you owe them. Why have you failed to do so up until now—pride, stubbornness, unconcern, laziness? Talk to God about it.

    6. Sharing question: Contact at least one of those you listed in the previous question and share with your group what happens.

Day Two Study

Read 1 Samuel 25:14-35.

    7. What was the testimony of Nabal’s servant concerning David and his men in contrast to what he said about Nabal?

    8. What do the servant’s actions tell us about Abigail? Why?

    9. Why was David so angry with Nabal (25:10-11, 21), and what did he determine to do about it (25:22)?

“His name was Nabal (i.e. fool); this was hardly his proper name, but was a surname by which he was popularly designated on account of his folly.”

              C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch
              Commentary on the Old Testament vol. 2
              William Eerdmans Publishing Company

    10. What do you learn from Abigail about dealing with a fool? About dealing with an angry person (David)?

    11. Do Abigail’s actions show love and loyalty to Nabal? Why or why not?

    12. Sharing Question: Share with your group a story of a time when love forced you to act for the person’s best interest even if the person did not understand your actions.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find some biblical examples of ways that God shows love to us when we do not understand His actions.

    13. Responding to God: Ask God for the courage to act in love when it’s hard.

Day Three Study

Read Proverbs 31:10-31.

    14. Compare the description of the excellent wife with what you know about Abigail. Obviously, you will not know how she rates in some areasJ

    15. Sharing question: If you are married, what are some specific changes you need to make today to fit this description of the excellent wife in Prov. 31:10-31? If you are not married, what do you learn here about being a wife?

    16. Consider Ephesians 5:22. Would you consider Abigail submissive to her husband? Why or why not?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the Greek word for submission in Eph. 5:22. Compare it with the word in Eph. 6:1. Write down your insights. Feel free to study the word in your reference materials.

    17. Sharing question: When is it hard for you to submit to a husband or a boss or any other authority over you? How do you change your attitude in those cases?

    18. Responding to God: Write a prayer of confession as you consider how well you are doing in submitting to those in authority over you, not just outwardly but also in your heart!

Day Four Study

Read 1 Samuel 25:36-42.

Most commentaries interpret what happened to Nabal as a stroke of some kind.

    19. Read Rom. 12:17-21. List what we are to do when we have been wronged.

    20. Sharing question: Which of the above instructions is hardest for you?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find cross-references for the passage in Romans 12. Write out a summary of what God would have us do when we are wronged.

    21. Sharing question: Share about a time in your life when you planned something that would have been the wrong thing to do but God sent someone or something to stop you. Did you listen or not? If that has never happened to you, have you ever seen someone considering a wrong action and warned her? What happened?

    22. Read and copy Proverbs 11:31. How does this proverb come true in the lives of Nabal and Abigail?

    23. Responding to God: Pray for God to protect you when you are determined to do the wrong thing. Thank Him for the times when you know He has done this in the past.

Day Five Study

Reread 1 Samuel 25.

    24. Describe Abigail’s husband. Sharing question: How would you feel if you were Abigail and had to deal with Nabal?

    25. Write down any insights you have into the ways Abigail was used by God for His purposes.

    26. How do you see Abigail fulfill the instruction for our week’s A Precious Word from God?

    27. Prayerfully consider Abigail’s character. Write a description of her qualities and record what she did to reveal each attribute.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a. Study the words in your Greek dictionary. Write out what you learn about love and how it applies to Abigail.

    28. Sharing question: If you are married, there are surely some qualities in your husband that you would love to change. (Some of you may have more than one you would change!) However, instead of trying to change him, what do you learn from Abigail about being the wife you should be? If you are not married, what can you learn about expecting God to change your boss, your parents, etc.?

    29. Responding to God: Write a prayer asking for the grace to love others when they are not who you want them to be.

We have three great stories this week. Jan, Penny, and Nan share stories of dealing with difficult people with God’s wisdom and love rather than with their first reactions.

Jan’s Story

In New York, we lived on a wonderful cul-de-sac with about 12 homes, each with many children. I felt convicted to start a neighborhood Bible study there, but only about 5 neighbors came. My neighbors all said they learned everything they needed to know in Catechism classes as a child.

We all got along well until a new neighbor with 5 children moved in. One day her 10 year old son hit my son and then ran back to his house. My son chased him and pushed him down. His Mom called the police who came to our house and warned me to keep all of the neighborhood children off their property as she was a crazy lady. That same day she called me up and began screaming and cursing at me without even allowing me to talk. I finally had to hang up on her, but felt terrible since earlier in the week, I had invited her to our neighborhood Bible study. I wrote her a note of apology, even though my husband and neighbors all thought I was crazy to do so. Several days later, she got mad at some other children on their bicycles and tried to run over them in her car, even driving up on some neighbors’ lawns. Her husband called their priest and she drove away.

Hours later she returned and found my note in her mailbox and called me up sobbing. She asked me to help her and said she wanted to come to the Bible study which she did. She was so transformed that the other neighbors decided maybe there was something in the Bible they had missed and they too began coming to the study. We met every week for 3 years until my husband was transferred to Texas 32 years ago. Most of us still stay in touch.

Penny’s Story

I was once faced with dealing with a difficult person in an unlikely place, my children’s Christian school. This person did not seem to understand the necessity of some of the conservative policies the school had in place. She was a very vocal person with an abrasive personality. Because I felt like I was defending my faith and the beliefs of others, I was quite aggravated that this person would disagree with the policies and traditions of the school. It got to the point that I did not even want to be in the same room with this person.

One day, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I decided to work with this person on a committee. Over the year, as we were working toward the same goals, I was able to appreciate her good qualities. I also feel like I was able to influence her in a more positive way as a friend than as an adversary.

Nan’s Story

When I was in middle school I was having a slumber party. Once it became dark, we ran across the street to the home of a neighbor, whom I didn't particularly care for, and toilet papered it. When the neighbors arrived home later that evening, the mom rushed over to our house, banged on the door, and threatened to call the police if my mom didn't answer. Once my mom came to the door, the woman screamed and yelled and cussed, and screamed and yelled some more. Needless to say, it was a bad situation. Instead of yelling back, my mom was patient and listened and was kind. I was mad. I didn't like this neighbor already because she had cheated my mom out of some money earlier in the year. But instead of getting even or holding a grudge, my mom started to serve this woman and her family. She mowed their yard for them unexpectedly, delivered meals and loved them despite their behavior. I thought she was crazy for doing so and didn't understand; I wanted justice. Over the years they eventually became friends, despite their differences. This friendship led to my mom sharing the gospel with her and her accepting Christ. To this day they are friends.

Later, once I was out of college and working, I found myself in a situation where I was in extreme disagreement with the CEO of a company I had founded. We could not see eye to eye on some key issues, and I found myself becoming angrier and angrier at him. I felt he had wronged me and it needed to be set straight. The longer it was drawn out, the more frustrated I became, and the anger began turning into bitterness. Finally one day I was reminded of my mom's example of loving the unlovely and serving others as a livelihood not just when they deserve it. I realized I had to start serving and loving regardless of the situation because my relationship with Christ was more important than being right or being understood or feeling heard. Over time the CEO and I were able to resolve our differences and even come to an appreciation for the different skills we each brought to the company. At the time, we were attending the same church and a few years later he and his wife joined our community group. I am forever grateful that I was able to watch my mom turn to Christ for her answer so that later I would be convicted to do the same. To this day he and his wife remain good friends of ours.

http://feeds.bible.org/kay_daigle/forsuch/daigle_forsuch_04.mp3
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5. The Widow of Zarephath

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the student handout for this lesson.

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the manuscript for this lesson.

Download Power PointClick here to download the PowerPoint for this lesson.

A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this studyI want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.


 

Few of us in the United States today know what real need is. Even when our personal resources run dry, there are agencies, churches, and governmental programs that at least provide some food. Imagine a situation where you are about to eat the very last of your food, and there is no hope of any more.

A Precious Word from God

“She went and did as Elijah told her; there was always enough food for Elijah and for her and her family.”

1 Kings 17:15 NET

Historical background: The events of this story occur in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab. As you read, be sure and look on your Bible map for locations of the places mentioned.

Day One Study

Read 1 Kings 16:29-33, which will give you important information about this time period. Today we simply consider the historical background during the widow’s life.

    1. What do you learn about King Ahab and his reign over Israel?

    2. How did Ahab’s actions affect God?

    3. Why does idolatry upset God so much? Read these verses and consider how they help us answer that question.

      a. Exodus 20:2-6

      b. Jeremiah 2:20-25; 3:1-3

      c. Mark 12:28-30

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read in your Bible resources about Ahab and his reign.

    4. There is not as much outward idolatry in the U.S. as there was in Ahab’s day; however, it is among us in a more unseen way. What insights about idolatry do you get from Eph. 5:5? What behavior suggests that something has become an idol?

    5. Sharing question: What tends to take God’s place in your life? Possessions, husband, children, position, power? Often good things become idols because we take our love for them to an extreme. Share what God reveals to you about loving someone or something more than Him.

    6. Responding to God: Confess your idolatry before God and enjoy His promised forgiveness. Write out your prayer.

Day Two Study

Read 1 Kings 17:1.

    7. Read James 5:16-18, which was James’ commentary on this verse and the surrounding events. What did James think we should learn from Elijah?

  • Diamonds in the Word: The topic of prayer is huge and you can’t possibly cover it in the time you have, but study verses that deal with prayer and God’s will by using a topical Bible or concordance. How do these verses apply to Elijah?

    8. Imagine that kind of drought. What would be the results to the land and its people? How would you feel toward God if you were in that situation?

Read 1 Kings 17:2-6

    9. How did God provide for Elijah in the early part of the drought?

    10. Sharing question: Share about a time when God provided for you when things looked hopeless. It may have been emotional or spiritual provision rather than physical provision.

    11. What do you learn about God’s provision from these verses?

      a. 2 Cor. 8:13-15

      b. Phil. 4:15-20

    12. Responding to God: Praise God that He is your Provider. Write your prayer or poem below.

Day Three Study

Read 1 Kings 17:7-16.

    13. Why and how did God change the way He provided for Elijah in the midst of the famine? (17:7-9)

    14. Read our Precious Word from God for this week. Knowing that Elijah was a prophet who spoke from God, what can you learn from the widow’s actions for your own life?

    15. How do you see God at work throughout this story? Be specific.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find verses about God’s provision.

    16. What insights do you have about this widow from the story so far?

    17. Read Psalm 146:5-10. How does it apply to our story?

 

    18. Sharing question: What is generally your first response when things look hopeless? Faith, fear, resignation, optimism? Share an example with your group.

    19. Responding to God: Write a prayer for the faith to trust God today for the specific provision that you need.

Day Four Study

Read 1 Kings 17:17-24.

    20. What happened while Elijah was staying with the widow?

    21. What was the widow’s first reaction? (17:18) How would you have reacted?

    22. Sharing question: Have you ever been angry at God when something bad happened? If so, how did you get over it?

    23. How did the answer to Elijah’s prayer affect the widow?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read your commentaries on 1 Kings 17:17-24.

    24. Hebrews 11:35 may be a reference to this widow. If so, what does it tell you about her? (Read the context of this verse, the paragraph from v. 32-40.)

    25. Responding to God: Pray for the faith to trust God when it hurts and even when your prayers are not answered as you desire.

Day Five Study

Review the story in 1 Kings 17:7-24.

    26. God would surely have provided for Elijah another way if the widow had not given him the last of her food, but what are the possibilities for the widow?

    27. How did the widow exemplify Matthew 6:31-33?

    28. How did God use the widow of Zarephath for such a time for His purposes?

    29. Read Luke 21:1-4, and compare the stories of two widows. Write down any insights that you have.

  • Diamonds in the Word: What principles do you learn from 2 Corinthians 9 on the topic of giving?

    30. Sharing question: How does your giving reflect your faith or lack of it? Give an example.

    31. Responding to God: Ask God for the courage to give away whatever He asks and the faith to believe that He will provide for whatever you really need.

Nancy’s Story

About twenty years ago, when our son David was fourteen, a lady in our church came to me needing to borrow $1500. That was a large sum of money at that time. After talking with my husband and discovering that our saving balance was $350, it seemed as if we would not be able to help her. Then I thought about our son's college account. I asked my husband if I could loan her that account and he agreed. Although he said never expect to see that money again....she will never pay it back, I loaned her the money, interest-free and told her she would have four years to repay the loan. I suggested she pay me $25 monthly. The first month I received $25; then she stopped talking with me and they moved to another church. My husband said "See, when you loan money, you never get it back" I promised him, I was sure we would get it back to meet our son's need. Well, we certainly did, but not in any way I could ever have dreamed.

When our son applied to SMU four years later, he received a letter telling him that he had been selected as a University Scholar and would receive $1500 a year as long as he maintained a B average. Wow......the exact amount, but this was each year for four years (total $6,000.00). Then when he was junior, he was selected the outstanding student in economics and received an addition $3000 (total now $9,000).

When we loaned the money, it was necessary the loan be repaid because otherwise we didn't think we would have enough money for college. Four years later, by the time he went to college, the Lord had blessed so much financially, we didn't really need the money (although it was a help). We could afford to send him any place he wanted to go.

As I think back, I cannot imagine that I loaned money without knowing what she needed it for. I am so thankful I did because I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on seeing God's hands at work in our lives. Isn't it just too wonderful that He made it the exact amount each time just so I wouldn't miss it! Wow, what a mighty God we serve!

http://feeds.bible.org/kay_daigle/forsuch/daigle_forsuch_05.mp3
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6. Esther, Part I

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the student handout for this lesson.

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the manuscript for this lesson.

Download Power PointClick here to download the PowerPoint for this lesson.

A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this studyI want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.


 

Have you ever lived with prejudice because of your gender, race, education, or social status? We can hide some of these factors in an attempt to be accepted. Open your heart to the plight of Esther and the Jews, foreigners living with prejudice among their captors.

A Precious Word from God

And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her. Esther 2:15 NASB

Historical background: After last week’s story of the widow of Zarephath, both the northern and southern kingdoms were eventually taken into captivity because of their idolatry. The southern kingdom of Judah was defeated by the Babylonians. Eventually, the Persians conquered the Babylonians, and it is this Persian period of empire during which our story takes place. After the Israelite Exile of seventy years, a remnant returned to their land with Persian approval. The sad fact, however, was that the majority of God’s people chose to remain in the land of their captivity instead of relocating to the land of God’s promise. Esther and her cousin Mordecai were among this group. The events here occurred between those recorded in Ezra 6 and Ezra 7 and extend over a decade of time, from 483 BC (Xerxes’ 3rd year, Esther 1:3) to 473 (the end of Xerxes’ 12th year, 3:7). The king involved was Ahasuerus or Xerxes, who reigned over the Persian Empire from 485 to 465 BC.

Day One Study

Read the entire book of Esther.

Read the book just as you would any story. We’ll go back and begin looking at specifics concerning our story tomorrow. For today, just enjoy it!

    1. Write down your first impressions of this story.

  • Diamonds in the Word: This assignment covers this entire week. Make a book chart or outline the book of Esther.

    2. Responding to God: Write a prayer that God will make this story real to you over the next three weeks.

Day Two Study

Read Esther 1:1-22.

    3. Describe the events of this chapter. Answer who, what, where, when, why and how about them.

Refusal to obey the king was risky even for a queen in the ancient world. It is not clear why Vashti behaved so rashly and put herself in such danger. Apparently she anticipated humiliation of some kind and was unwilling to subject herself to it. In spite of the obvious dangers, there is no justification in the biblical text for an ancient Jewish targumic tradition that the king told her to appear before his guests dressed in nothing but her royal high-turban, this is, essentially naked.

                Note in NET Bible p. 744

    4. Explain the reasoning behind the decision about what to do with the queen and your thoughts about the logic.

    5. Describe the King’s character from his words and actions in chapter 1.

    6. Sharing question: Describe a situation where someone put you in a position of embarrassment. How did you handle it?

    7. Responding to God: Write a prayer for the wisdom to handle yourself in a way that brings glory to God when you face embarrassment.

Day Three Study

Read Esther 2:1-11.

    8. What was the plan for replacing the queen? (2:3-4)

    9. What insights do you gain about Esther and Mordecai’s relationship from 2:10-11?

    10. Sharing question: If you are a believer, the One who has adopted you into His family and become a father to you is God Himself. Parallel your relationship with Him to that of Esther and Mordecai. Do you measure up? Write down your thoughts and pray.

Read Esther 2:12-18.

By comparing 1:3 with 2:16 we see that it has been about four years since Queen Vashti was deposed.

    11. Explain the process all the women went through in the harem. (2:12-14)

    12. Think about this situation from Esther’s perspective. This is not a Cinderella story where she meets the wonderful and loving prince, the man of her dreams, and desires to marry him. She is in the king’s harem. Consider what you already know about the king from the first chapter, as well as what you learn here about Esther’s future life. What could her life look like from here on out? What emotions do you think you might have if you were Esther?

    13. Responding to God: Thank God that He is with you even in the darkest of places, no matter how lonely or hopeless it seems.

Day Four Study

Read Esther 2:19-23. This event will be crucial later in the story!

That Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate apparently means that he was a high-ranking government official. It was at the city gate where important business was transacted.

              Note in NET Bible p. 746

    14. Reflect upon Esther Chapter 2. Write down any insights you have into Esther’s character so far. Be sure to give specifics as to why you describe her as you do.

    15. Sharing question: Consider this list of Esther’s qualities. Which of these do you need to work on in your own life? Write down any thoughts you have about them.

    16. Read these cross-references, and relate them to the events of Esther 1 and 2.

      a. Hannah’s words in I Samuel 2:7-8.

      b. Daniel 2:20-21.

    17. Sharing question: How can these truths about God from 1 Samuel and Daniel give you comfort today in a particular situation in which you find yourself or someone near and dear to you?

    18. Consider our Precious Word from God for this week. After studying these two chapters, what do you think it was in Esther that caused her to find favor?

All of us desire in some way to find favor with others. Yet, as Christians, we are to seek the favor of God, not people. Consider the lengths to which these women went in order to gain the king’s approval. As Christians, we are totally accepted by God because of what Jesus did for us. Nothing we do can change that. However, we do want to please the One who so graciously gave us this acceptance, which we could never earn.

    19. Sharing question: Read Gal. 1:10 and 2 Tim. 2:3-4. Prayerfully meditate upon these thoughts. What in your life is not pleasing to God? What do you need to change in order to make your life more pleasing to the Father?

    20. Responding to God: Thank God that He doesn’t determine our acceptance based on beauty, outward charm, or even our works. Thank Him that we are accepted because of what Jesus did on our behalf.

Day Five Study

Read Esther 3:1-6.

    21. Now we meet the villain of our story. Identify him and his position, and explain his feelings toward Mordecai and his reasons for them. (3:1-5)

    22. Centuries before this, God had given Abraham a promise concerning the treatment of Abraham’s descendants, the Jews. Copy it below from Genesis 12:3.

    23. Sharing question: God is faithful to His promises to us, just as He was to Abraham. In II Peter 1:4 Peter calls them “precious and magnificent promises.” Consider some of these promises to you of which you are aware. Write down one promise that is especially precious to you at this time of your life. If you can locate the scripture reference, write it word for word so you can begin to memorize it if you have not already done so. Share how and why it impacts your life today.

    24. Responding to God: Spend time with God meditating upon one of His promises.

Becky dealt with prejudice of a different kind than Esther. Read her story of how God worked in her situation.

Becky’s Story

I graduated from college in 1972 with a BS in Chemistry, and went back to my home town of Houston thinking that with all of the chemical and oil industry companies there, getting a job in my field would not be a problem. I knew that my choice of major was considered unusual for a woman, but I was optimistic. I looked in the want-ads, and called the likely opportunities. I got no interviews. "We don't think a woman can do this job," and "Are you calling for your husband?" were typical reactions. I have to admit that I was discouraged, but my professor had warned me that not everyone would be willing to take a chance on hiring a woman. ("She'll just get married and quit.")

I finally took a dead-end, shift work job at a medical instrument manufacturer in quality control. It was a job anyone with high school chemistry or biology could have done. However, the people were mostly nice, and we had time to talk to one another, and I was able to speak to several of them about God. After six months there, I got a job at UT Medical School in Houston, as a lab technician for one of the professors. He decided that I looked strong enough to work with the centrifuges, and that I hadn't dressed up so much for the interview meant that I wouldn't mind getting my hands dirty. This was a good job, not so much the money (the academic world never pays well), but it was very interesting and challenging. I enjoyed it. While working closely with the people there, I was able to be an ambassador for Christ in a way probably not so possible in the world of industry. God knew what He was doing. And I worked there until I got married and quit. The whole lab came to the wedding.

http://feeds.bible.org/kay_daigle/forsuch/daigle_forsuch_06.mp3
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7. Esther, Part II

This entire study is based upon the theme that God uses women in their time for His purposes. This was clearly Mordecai’s feelings about Esther, and I believe the same of each of you. God has a plan and a kingdom purpose for putting you where He can best use you!

A Precious Word from God

Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this?

Esther 4:14b NKJV

Day One Study

Read Esther 3:7-4:3.

Esther 3:7 is a bit confusing. Apparently they cast lots (pur was the word, from which Purim comes) to see which date the Jews would be destroyed. The executions were planned to occur almost a year after the lot was cast. By comparing 2:16 with 3:7 it seems that about four-and-a-half years have elapsed since Esther became queen.

    1. List the reasons Haman gave the king to destroy the Jews. (3:8, 9)

    2. Observe the edict carefully. Answer the “who, what, when, where, why, and how questions” as if you were reporting on it for The Susa News. (3:12-13)

    3. What did the King and Haman do while the command was issued? Contrast their response to that of those in the city from 3:15. Record your thoughts concerning the King and Haman from their actions in 3:15.

We can look at the king and Haman with judgment; however, perhaps we need to consider our own actions. What awaits people around you who do not know Jesus Christ? (See Rev. 20:11-15.)

  • Diamonds in the Word : Find other verses that describe the final judgment and the future that awaits those who do not know Christ.

    4. Sharing question: Does this knowledge affect your actions or do you go about life as usual? What do you need to do about it?

    5. Responding to God: Pray for God’s heart of love for those who refuse to bow the knee to Him. Confess any feelings of judgment or lack of concern toward them. Write down your thoughts or prayer.

Day Two Study

Read Esther 4:1-14.

    6. How did Esther’s relationship with Mordecai play into her learning about the edict?

    7. What feelings did Esther exhibit when she originally replied to Mordecai’s message (4:10-11)?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find references to wise counsel. Why is it necessary?

    8. Sharing question: Has there ever been a time in your life when you did not do the right thing because of fear? Perhaps you feared other people’s rejection, the consequences to your job, or the sacrifices required. Write down what happened and how your decision has affected you. Go before the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness and for the lessons you learned in that situation.

    9. Although Mordecai never mentioned the name of God, what evidence in his response suggests his belief?

    10. True faith affects our actions. We respond differently when we trust God. Record James 2:26 below. Sharing question: Share an action or response you have made that proves the reality of your faith. Without your faith, you would have behaved differently in the situation.

    11. Responding to God: Write a prayer or a poem expressing your desire to trust God more and your confession for failing to trust Him in one situation this past week.

Day Three Study

Review Esther 4:12-14.

    12. Review our Precious Word from God for this week. Explain Mordecai’s point to Esther in your own words.

    13. You, too, have come to a kingdom. What purposes for kingdom people are mentioned in the following verses?

      a. 1 Peter 2:9-10

      b. Rev. 1:6

  • Diamonds in the Word: Look in your concordance or topical study Bible for other cross-references about the kingdom. What more do you learn about your purposes?

God has brought you to His kingdom to be part of His church. It is no coincidence that you are exactly where you are at this particular time. God has placed you here, just as surely as He did Esther. Prayerfully consider these truths before God.

    14. Write down your evaluation of the situations around you at this time—in the world, in our nation, locally, in your neighborhood, in your church, in your family, on your job, etc.

    15. Sharing question: Has God impressed you with any thoughts concerning your purpose in the midst of the situations mentioned above? Write down what you are thinking at this point.

    16. Responding to God: If you had an answer to the previous question, pray about it. If not, spend time with the Lord telling Him that you are available for Him to use as He sees fit for the sake of His kingdom in such a time as this. Record your prayer below.

Day Four Study

Review Esther 4:10-17.

    17. What was the worst case scenario for Esther? How did she prepare before going to the King?

    18. There are several times in Esther where fasting is mentioned. Look up these and the other references to fasting listed. Write down any insights you have into the purposes of fasting by recording when it was done or what other actions accompanied it. You will need to look at the context of the verses to find some of this information.

      a. Esther 4:3

      b. Esther 9:31

      c. Is. 58:5-10

      d. Dan. 9:3

      e. Joel 2:12

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find some resources on fasting and read about different ways that people fast.

    19. Sharing question: If you have ever participated in a fast, either as an individual or as part of a group, share your experience.

Read Esther 5:1-8.

    20. Relate what happened in these verses.

    21. Sharing question: What are some areas in your life where you tend to rush in without waiting for the right timing? What can you learn from Esther’s example?

    22. Responding to God: Pray for God’s wisdom instead of impatience to rule the next time you face that situation.

Day Five Study

Read Esther 5:9-6:14.

Some very interesting events take place between Esther’s two banquets.

    23. What happened that reveals the unseen hand of God at work in this situation?

    24. Sharing question: Often we are not privy to what God is doing behind the scenes in situations in our lives and in answer to our prayers. Think of a time when the Lord was at work in answer to your prayers behind the scenes, so to speak. Share this encouraging story with your group.

Read Esther 7:1-10.

    25. For Haman it just got worse and worse until he received justice for his actions. There are many ironic events in this story. Review all that happened to Haman. God truly dispensed justice to him for both his thoughts and actions. Record the ironies you see and your insights on this subject.

 

Haman was an individual who allowed a slight to build up inside him until he was eaten up with anger, revenge, and bitterness. This can happen to us as well.

    26. Read Heb. 12:15. What does bitterness do?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Find verses about forgiveness. Explain how they impact bitterness.

    27. Sharing question: Has there ever been a time in your life when you have seen the effects of bitterness? If so, describe its consequences.

    28. Responding to God: Go before God and prayerfully consider whether there is anyone in your life toward whom you are holding anger and/or a heart of bitterness? If so, bring it before the Lord and ask Him to help you apply these verses. Write down your prayer.

Read Beth’s story of God’s putting her in a place where she could impact others for Him.

Beth’s Story

After college, I had the opportunity to work for a group of radio stations in my hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico; I knew it was a God given opportunity because of the sudden appearance of it after a very specific prayer, and the eight years that I worked there.

I was in a community where 99% of the population openly criticized and discriminated against me because I did not belong to their denomination. I was also in the middle of the celebrity world, interviewing artists and developing advertising for not so godly companies. Foremost, I was immersed in a very superficial, materialistic and sinful environment.

At the beginning I was really afraid because of the open rejection of coworkers when I turned down invitations to bars, parties and whatnot. Then I was very confused because of the everyday task of developing advertising campaigns for business that I didn't agree with their morals. But I had the conviction that God had a plan for me there even though I couldn't see it at the moment.

I felt really bad and rejected when those at the office referred to me in a pejorative way or were joking aggressively because I believed differently. Nevertheless, I kept working and giving my best effort to make things work out without compromising my position as a believer. After a year of hard working, lots of mistakes and difficulties, I made some friends and got more responsibilities, which I never looked for but for some reason, I felt I was being trusted.

After two years I became the head of the creative production department with several people under my management; I reorganized the area and apparently this was a breakthrough. The CEO and the board of the company noticed the way I was working with the team and they knew there was something different this time. They could trust that work would be done effectively and on time, and they started to wonder why. I was totally unaware; I was just trying to do a good job.

During the following years we as a team got recognized citywide and were awarded with several prizes for different advertising campaigns and radio jingles. We became an influence in the style of radio advertising in the city, but all this brought a lot more trouble in personal relationships at the office. I had to pray every day for wisdom and patience and intercede for all of those who were against me.

All I can say is that thanks to my walking in faith through that valley of death, I learned a lot. I had the opportunity to share in multiple occasions the joyful life in Jesus without opening my mouth, or even being conscious about it, but always through my attitude and principles of life, and without knowing what big influence I was going to be.

Years later I knew about several people who turned to Christ and how much things changed in that period of time in that area of the company; I like to think that it could be perhaps the result of the seed of hard work, truthfulness and a life with Jesus that I had, against all odds, humbly and unknowingly planted in the work field.

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8. Esther, Part III

Have you ever longed for justice, but it eluded the situation? There is something inside of us that desires a fitting end to every story. We want the good guy to come out on top and the bad guy to pay for his evil. That sense of justice comes from God, who someday will put all things right.

A Precious Word from God

“If I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16 NASB

.

Day One Study

Review Esther Chapter 7; read 8:1-8.

    1. Review the Precious Word from God and their context in chapter 4. Throughout history God’s people have taken stands for the Lord and His people in the face of dire consequences. Record any insights into this from the following verses:

      a. Hebrews 11:24-27

      b. Hebrews 11:32-39

      c. Rev. 12:11—what was the key to their ability to take a stand?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the story in Daniel 3 of those who determined to stand for God.

    2. Sharing question: If there has been a time in your life when God gave you the grace to stand for Him despite the possible consequences, share the experience as an encouragement to others in your group.

    3. What was Esther’s request to the king and how did he answer her? (8:5, 8)

    4. Contrast the relationship between King Ahasuerus or Xerxes and his subjects (Esther 4:11; 5:2; 8:4) and God’s relationship to His people from these verses:

      a. Heb. 4:16

      b. Heb. 10:19-22

    5. Sharing question: How do these truths affect you personally?

    6. Responding to God: Come into His presence with thanksgiving and boldness! Write out your prayer.

Day Two Study

Read Esther 8:9-17.

    7. Reread the original edict in 3:13. The new edict did not revoke the old one. How did it deal with the previous edict? Why did it not just revoke the first one?

 

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read in your commentaries or Bible resources about edicts in that day.

    8. Contrast how the Jews and the others reacted to the news. (8:16-17)

Read Esther 9:1-17.

    9. Reread 8:15-17 and then read 9:1-17, looking for repeated phrases. Repeated words and phrases help identify important points or the theme of a passage. What do you discover from these repeated phrases and words?

    10. Add any ironies you see from these verses in addition to those you saw in last week’s lesson.

    11. Sharing question: What has God done in your life that you should remember year after year?

    12. Responding to God: Pray for God to show you how to remember His blessings and answered prayers. Thank Him right now for some of those.

Day Three Study

Read Esther 9:18-32.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the modern Jewish celebration of Purim, perhaps online.

    13. Who, when, why, and how was Purim to be celebrated?

    14. Where did the name Purim originate? (You may need to refer back to the note at the top of Day One Study of Lesson Seven.) What is ironic about the Jews naming their holiday Purim? (9:23-26)

    15. Why would you say celebrations like this are important?

    16. From the example of Purim, do you learn anything that you can apply within your own family?

    17. Sharing question: Share with the group an occasion you celebrate with your family which is particularly meaningful.

    18. Responding to God: Pray that you will always celebrate the blessings of God. Thank Him for a blessing that you are enjoying today.

Day Four Study

Read Esther Chapter 10.

    19. What would you consider the secret of Mordecai’s greatness?

    20. Read God’s comments about various Old Testament people in Hebrews 11:1-31. Which story speaks to you about how to achieve greatness? Why?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Use other resources to look up Mordecai.

    21. Sharing question: If your life were over tomorrow, what would be your epitaph? What specific steps can you take in your life today to increase the possibilities that you would be remembered as great?

    22. Responding to God: Write a poem or prayer about your epitaph.

     

Day Five Study

Review the book of Esther.

    23. What qualities did you see in Esther and how were they evidenced in her life?

    24. How did you see God use Esther in His timing and for His purposes?

    25. Sharing question: What do you learn from Esther to apply to your own life?

    26. What does the book of Esther teach you about God?

    27. Responding to God: Take the time to praise Him for each truth you wrote down about God.

As we think about remembering God’s great work in our lives through celebration, Dakan shares her story of a family wedding that reminded them of God and His care and work.

Dakan’s Story

Eleven family members (ages 6 months to 84 years) traveling together to a foreign country to join 70 friends for my son’s wedding. Stress is high! I WANT to be in control of travel schedules, hotels, restaurants, clothing and even our snacks!! Months into the organization, I realize I must release this to the Lord. I wanted Him to be a part of it, but I had to step back, ask Him and allow Him. I had to have trust and faith in God’s desire for this wedding celebration – not mine. He deserves such glory for reveling Himself in our family times together of a never before closeness. He opened closed eyes and gave light to darkened hearts. The words at the ceremony spoke to young friends who desire a Godly foundation for their lives. Leaving the country after the wedding festivities, I was in awe of how our Lord was so faithful, how His hand had touched so many people and how we had received a peace and abundant blessings because of His care of us.

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9. Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Imagine being thrust into a situation far beyond anything you ever sought or imagined! What if God needs to change your life in order to use you for His purposes in such a time as this? Will you be ready and willing, as Mary was?

A Precious Word from God

“The Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.”

Luke 1:49 NASB

Historical background: We now jump into the New Testament from the story of Esther, an approximate 500 year span. As you study, look on your maps for the locations of the towns mentioned.

Day One Study

Your assignments include all of the accounts where Mary appears, but they will focus more on the ones that reveal the person of this woman, Mary. The passages are in chronological order so you can follow the events more easily.

 

Read Luke 1:26-38.

    1. The miraculous and the impossible were to occur in Mary’s life. Write Gabriel’s words that explain to Mary how this can happen. (1:35-37) Why may Gabriel have used the term “Most High” as the name of God in this situation?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Look up the term “Most High” in your Greek dictionary and find other references to this name of God.

    2. What do you learn about Mary from her reactions to Gabriel’s message in 1:29 and 34?

The note on 1:38 in the NET Bible explains that the word for servant (NET, NIV) or bondservant (NASB) is traditionally translated “handmaid” (KJV). It goes on to explain that “the word does not bear the connotation of a free woman serving another. . . . The most accurate translation is ‘bondservant,’ sometimes found in the ASV for doulos, in that it often indicates one who sells himself or herself into slavery to another.”

                NET Bible p. 1791

    3. What does the use of this word for servant reveal about Mary?

    4. Sharing question: Can you truly call yourself a bondservant of Jesus Christ? Why or why not? What would you have to change in your attitude to make it so?

    5. Sharing question: Share the story of a time in your life when something seemingly insurmountable was put before you, and yet it was accomplished by the power of God.

    6. Responding to God: Write a prayer of praise to the Most High God, basing it on Mary’s words (1:38).

Day Two Study

Read Luke 1:39-45.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study Luke 1:5-25 to learn about Elizabeth’s background.

    7. What do Elizabeth’s words reveal about Mary? (1:42, 43, 45)

Read Luke 1:46-56.

    8. This passage contains most of the recorded words said by Mary. Do not hurry through this passage, but carefully read it, considering this woman. What do you learn about Mary herself from what she says here?

    9. Compare Mary’s words in Luke 1:46-55 with Hannah’s words in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Record any parallels you see. What insights about Mary do you gain because of these parallels?

    10. Sharing question: Which truth about God mentioned by Mary in Luke 1:46-55 is most meaningful to you today? Why?

    11. Responding to God: Go back through Luke 1:46-55 truth by truth, praising God just as Mary did.

Day Three Study

Read Matthew 1:18-25.

    12. 12. How would you have felt about God’s plan if you had been Mary? About Joseph?

Read Luke 2:1-20.

    13. How would the shepherds’ visit have affected you if you were Mary?

    14. Again, how would you have felt through these events if you were Mary? Consider how she may have felt about God and about the situation.

    15. If you have any insights into Mary from these verses, record them here.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the Luke story from your commentaries. What other insights into Mary do you receive?

    16. Sharing question: How do these very familiar stories impact you today? What is God’s Spirit saying to you personally?

    17. Responding to God: Sing a song of praise to God for the birth of Jesus. You may want to sing a familiar Christmas carol, but be sure you think through the words so that the song comes from the heart.

Day Four Study

Read Luke 2:21-40.

    18. Write down what the occasion was, where it took place, and when.

 

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study the Jewish Old Testament laws behind this event.

    19. Why might Simeon’s words have been a shock to Mary?

Read Matthew 2:1-18. Again we have one of the most familiar of all the Bible stories. You may have believed that it should go before the last story thinking it happened at the manger, but a careful reading of the story indicates otherwise.

    20. Because the story is so well known, just record any thoughts you have about Mary and the events.

Read Matthew 2:19-23.

    21. Record any insights that you have about Mary from these verses.

    22. Sharing question: Describe a time in your life when God put you in a situation where you could later see His hand at work.

    23. Responding to God: Praise God that He knows the future. Express the trust that you feel knowing this.

Day Five Study

Read Luke 2:41-52.

    24. What do you learn about Mary from this passage?

Read John 2:1-12. About eighteen years has elapsed since the last time we saw Mary.

    25. Write down any insights you have into the person of Mary from this story.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Study this miracle, which was Jesus’ first miracle, and consider Mary’s part in the story.

These next passages involve Mary but she is only a background character. Read 1 of these 3 passages: Matt. 12:46-49; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21.

Then read John 19:25-27.

    26. Write down any thoughts you have about Mary from these two events.

Read Acts 1:1-14.

    27. Record what you learn from this final glimpse at Mary.

    28. How did God use Mary for His purposes and in His time?

    29. Sharing question: What have you learned from Mary for your life?

    30. Responding to God: Review our Precious Word from God. Join Mary in praise to God for the great things He has done for you.

Just as Mary’s faith was strong because of the Scriptures that she knew, so Jane’s faith increased as she read God’s Word and applied it to her situation.

 

Jane’s Story

When I was beginning to grow as a Christian, I was having issues with a guy I was dating. I don't remember the details, but I remember having that constant dull ache in my heart.

At the time, I was in a Bible Study where we were studying a book about dealing with emotions. I remember sitting on my bed and picking up the book, wondering if it would have anything to say about my situation. So I flipped through and came across Romans 5:3-5, which says, “…We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

I got so excited when I read that. I thought, "Wow - this trial has a purpose!" And my pain was literally replaced with joy. I'm sure the dull ache eventually crept back in, but now at least I knew where to go for a cure!

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10. Mary of Bethany

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the student handout for this lesson.

Download Word DocumentClick here to download the manuscript for this lesson.

Download Power PointClick here to download the PowerPoint for this lesson.

A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this studyI want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.


 

Mary’s story is one of love. From the first time we meet her through her last appearance in the gospels, we see the impact that she makes because of her love for Jesus.

A Precious Word from God

“And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 NASB

One of those who had the privilege of knowing Jesus personally while He walked on the earth was Mary of Bethany. Look at a Bible map in the back of your Bible or in a Bible atlas to discover the location of her home Bethany.

 

Day One Study

Read Luke 10:38-42.

    1. Contrast Mary and Martha’s actions.

    2. How did Martha try to manipulate the situation? (10:40)

    3. Put yourself in Martha’s place. How would you feel about Mary? Why?

    4. Read John 15:4-5. How do these verses relate to Jesus’ words about Mary?

    5. Read the commendations and criticisms that Jesus gave the church at Ephesus in Rev. 2:1-7. How do they relate to Mary and Martha?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read through all the letters to the churches in Rev. 2:8-3:22. What is God saying to you as He speaks to the churches?

    6. Sharing question: You may have studied this passage many times; however, it is easy to fall back into old sins. Meditate upon Jesus’ comments concerning both Martha and Mary. At this point in your life, are you a Mary or a Martha? What is God saying to you personally?

    7. Responding to God: Confess your tendencies to be Martha rather than Mary.

Day Two and Three Study

Feel free to study this all at once, or divide it after Question #12 and take two days.

Read John 11:1-16.

    8. What crisis occurred and how did Mary and Martha’s respond?

    9. How do you reconcile what 11:5 says about Jesus with his delay in going to Bethany in light of His words in 11:4, 15?

    10. What do you learn from this passage about God’s timing in answer to prayer?

    11. Sharing question: Share with your group a story of a delayed or unexpected answer to prayer. How did you feel through that situation?

    12. Responding to God: Talk to God about the ability to see kingdom goals to prayer as more important than immediate relief from the situation.

Read John 11:17-44.

    13. Write down any insights you have into Mary’s words to Jesus in this passage.

    14. Knowing that He was momentarily going to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus wept. What seems to move Him to weep? (11:33, 34) What does this reveal concerning Him?

    15. Sharing question: Share about a time in your life when you dealt with a time of weeping or grieving. What was your attitude toward the Lord at that time? What do you learn from Jesus’ weeping here that will help you next time you grieve?

    16. What does this story reveal about Mary?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read what your commentaries say about John 11.

    17. Sharing question: This experience surely changed Mary in some way. Relate an experience in your life when God’s activity resulted in a permanent change in your relationship with Him.

    18. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem praising Jesus as your resurrection and life.

Day Four Study

Read John 12:1-8.

    19. Describe the scene and Mary’s actions.

    20. Sharing question: Sacrifice comes from deep love. Assess your love for Jesus. Do you love Him so much that you are willing to sacrifice as Mary did? Why or why not?

    21. Contrast the reactions to Mary’s actions.

Read the other accounts of this story in Matt. 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9.

    22. What additional details do you learn from these passages?

    23. Compare Paul’s words in Gal. 1:10 with Mary’s actions.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Compare the story found in Luke 7:36-50 with this one. What details suggest that these are two different stories?

    24. Sharing question: What do you learn for your own life from Mary’s sacrifice?

    25. Responding to God: Ask God for such a deep love for Him that you would sacrifice anything.

Day Five Study

Review all the passages about Mary.

    26. Looking back at the order of the stories, do you see any progression in Mary’s spiritual journey? How?

    27. What qualities do you see in Mary? Be sure you give specific examples of each.

    28. Review the A Precious Word from God this week. Mary sacrificed an expensive possession to honor the Lord, and everyone there was impacted by what she did. Record any additional thoughts you have concerning her actions.

    29. How do you see God working in and through Mary’s life for His timing and His purposes?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Is there another woman of the Bible whom you think we missed (and we probably did!)? Look her up and think through how God used her.

    30. Sharing question: Review the table of contents and skim the lessons. What has God done in your life through the study of these women of the Bible? Spend some time assessing what God has done.

    31. Responding to God: Thank God for the ways that He has spoken to you through the study of women of the Bible. Ask Him to use you for His purposes in such a time as this.

This story is about being public with faith, as Mary publicly anointed Jesus. In Jane’s case she received a positive response!

Jane’s Story

One time I was on an airport shuttle bus. I was the last person off, and as I left I gave the driver a gospel tract and said, "This will tell you how you can know for sure you're going to heaven when you die." She took the tract and kissed my hand!! I said, "I assume there's a prayer request behind this." She indicated that there was, but didn't tell me what it was. I assured her I would be praying for her. When I got to the airline terminal I turned around to acknowledge her again; she was looking my way and we exchanged smiles. The whole situation was so touching; it was definitely a divine appointment.

http://feeds.bible.org/kay_daigle/forsuch/daigle_forsuch_10.mp3
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