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Introduction

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The Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies are specifically designed for anyone new to the Bible—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing the inexperienced Christian to God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

Just as a newborn baby needs to know the love and trustworthiness of her parents, the new Christian needs to know and experience the love and trustworthiness of her God. Graceful Beginnings: New Believers Guide is the first study in the series, laying a good foundation of truth for you to grasp and apply to your life. The other books in the series can be done in any order.

Some Bible Basics

Throughout these lessons, you will use a Bible to answer questions as you discover treasure about your life with Christ. The Bible is one book containing a collection of 66 books combined together for our benefit. It is divided into two main parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament tells the story of the beginning of the world and God’s promises to mankind given through the nation of Israel. It tells how the people of Israel obeyed and disobeyed God over many, many years. All the stories and messages in the Old Testament lead up to Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus Christ, the early Christians, and God’s promises to all those who believe in Jesus. You can think of the Old Testament as “before Christ” and the New Testament as “after Christ.”

Each book of the Bible is divided into chapters and verses within those chapters to make it easier to study. Bible references include the book name, chapter number and verse number(s). For example, Ephesians 2:8 refers to the New Testament book of Ephesians, the 2nd chapter, and verse 8 within that 2nd chapter. Printed Bibles have a “Table of Contents” in the front to help you locate books by page number. Bible apps also have a contents list by book and chapter.

The Bible verses highlighted at the beginning of each lesson in this study are from the New International Version® (NIV®) unless otherwise indicated. You can use any version of the Bible to answer the questions, but using a more easy-to-read translation (NET, NIV, NIRV, NLT, ESV) will help you gain confidence in understanding what you are reading. You can find all these translations in Bible apps and online.

This study capitalizes certain pronouns referring to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit—He, Him, His, Himself—just to make the reading of the study information less confusing. Some Bible translations likewise capitalize those pronouns referring to God; others do not. It is simply a matter of preference, not a requirement.

Old Testament Summary

About 1700 years after God created everything, He sent judgment on a rebellious race through a worldwide Flood. He later separated the nations with different languages and scattered them from Babel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were founding fathers of the Hebrew people. Sold into slavery, Joseph became a powerful foreign leader. The Israelites developed into a great nation for ~400 years in Egypt, until their deliverance from bondage. Then Moses took the people across the Red Sea and taught them God's Law at Mt. Sinai. Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land after a 40-year trek in the wilderness because of unbelief.

During the transition toward monarchy, there were deliverer-rulers called "Judges," the last of whom was Samuel. The first three Hebrew kings—Saul, David, and Solomon—each ruled 40 years. Under Rehoboam, the Hebrew nation divided into northern and southern kingdoms, respectively called Israel and Judah. Prophets warned against worshipping the foreign god Baal. After the reign of 19 wicked kings in the north, Assyria conquered and scattered the northern kingdom. In the south, 20 kings ruled for ~350 years, until Babylon took the people into captivity for 70 years. Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah led the Jews back into Jerusalem over a 100-year period. More than 400 "silent years" spanned the gap between Malachi and Matthew.

The 39 books in the Old Testament are divided into 4 main categories:

  • The Law” (5 books)—the beginning of the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people; God giving His Laws to the people that made them distinct from the rest of the nations.
  • History” (12 books)—narratives that reveal what happened from the time the people entered the Promised Land right after Moses died until 400 years before Christ was born.
  • Poetry & Wisdom” (5 books)—take place at the same time as the history books but are set apart because they are written as poems and have a lot of wise teaching in them.
  • Prophets” (17 books)—concurrent with the books of history and, except for Lamentations, reflect the name of the prophet through whom God spoke to the nation of Israel.

Elements of Each Lesson

This book covers the lives of several Old Testament women. Each lesson begins with a brief history of a particular Old Testament time period and then covers the lives of 1-2 women who lived then. The lessons are arranged chronologically following the simple Old Testament timeline below.

Historical Period

Years BC

Woman Studied

The Patriarchs

2100 - 1800

Sarah

Israel in Egypt / the Exodus

1800 - 1450

Jochebed, Miriam

Conquest of the Land

1450 - 1400

Rahab

Kingdom

850 - 800

Zarephath Widow

Prophet’s Widow

Shunammite Woman

Work through each lesson, reading the scripture passages that tell each woman’s “Story.” You’ll be encouraged at the end of each lesson to “Journal Your Faith Story,” writing something that relates to what’s learned in the lesson. Your faith walk is your story, your biography of God’s faithfulness to you and your response back to Him. A “Faith in Action” teaching session follows each lesson and gives you help in taking action so you can walk from fear to faith. Every “Faith in Action” section is followed by a “Reflect” time to consider how you will respond.

The Walk from Fear to Faith

Jill Briscoe once said, “Women are a fear-driven, performance-oriented species.” She’s right. Fear is an ever-present emotion with us. Real fears and imagined fears. Is it realistic to think we can live without fear? No!

Fear is a normal human emotion designed by God to alert us to danger so that we will take action against it. Yet, fear can take root in us and cause us to give way to panic and hysteria. God knows this about us. I am so grateful for that! I can remember times in my life when something happened suddenly that caused that creepy-crawly feeling down my back. A car cutting in front of me sending me to change lanes quickly, hoping there wasn’t an 18-wheeler occupying that lane. One night, a feeling of fear my oldest daughter’s safety hit me in the chest. I quickly prayed for her protection. Of course, she didn’t answer her phone when I called so I had to wait until the next morning to hear from her that she was okay. What. A. Scary. Night.

Thankfully, some wise mentors have taught me to trust God all the time, especially when I am afraid. One such wise woman, Vickie Kraft, drilled a couple of verses into my heart and mind.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4)

This wise friend said, “Melanie, the psalmist doesn’t say, ‘If I am afraid.’ He says, ‘When I am afraid.’ When we are afraid, God wants us to trust Him and not give way to fear.”

If fear alerts us to danger so we will take action against it, the most significant action is to not give into fear but to trust God instead. That’s the walk from fear to faith. And we can experience God’s faithfulness through any trouble, danger, suffering, or pain that we face. God is faithful always.

And, in His faithfulness, our God doesn’t leave us guessing as to what this walk from fear to faith looks like. In His enduring, living Word, He has recorded examples for us to follow—women of the past who put their hope in God, did what was right, and did not give way to fear (1 Peter 3:5-6). The writer of Hebrews 11 gave us specific examples who chose to live by faith in the midst of terrifying circumstances.

So, in this study, we are going to look at their lives—these Old Testament women who learned to trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness. They were ordinary females with the same emotions and tendencies to panic that we have. Each one of these women had a story, and that story has been shared over and over and over to millions of eager listeners. You might be surprised how many times the scriptures refer to them actually telling their story in one form or another. You’re going to get to know it as you get to know them. It’s a connection with real women. As we study their lives, we’ll see an ever-faithful God in action, a faithful God whose character never changes.

God is as faithful now in our everyday circumstances of life as He was years ago to them. We can feel confidence in His presence and active involvement, even when we can’t see it. And, knowing this, we can trust in Him whenever we are afraid. Trust is faith. Faith is confidence in God—His existence, His character, and His faithfulness to those who place themselves in His care.

That’s the “Walk from Fear to Faith” — learning to trust God whenever we are afraid.

As we join these Old Testament women moving from fear to faith, we will see consistent truths that we can apply to our lives today in our faith walk. In every case, we know that God loved her. He knew what was going on in her life. He was able to do something about it. During her faith walk, a loving God said “no” to some things. Yet, she chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. And, God rewarded her faith with an outpouring of His blessing in other ways.

Likewise, God may not choose to rescue you from everything that is threatening you. But, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…

#1 God loves me.

#2 God knows what is going on in my life.

#3 God can do something about it.

#4 I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!

Count on these truths and live each day believing they are true. It’s going to be a great journey. And, I’m so glad to be walking beside you! Melanie Newton

Suggested Leader Guide for Group Discussion:

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you want He wants you to know through the lesson.

2. Work through the lesson together, reading the Bible verses and discussing the questions.

3. Discuss Your Faith Walk questions, read the summary paragraph and say the four truths together.

4. Share your response to the Journal Your Faith Story section.

5. Read through the Faith-In-Action section or watch the video on my YouTube channel (search “The Walk from Fear to Faith”). Reflect on the teaching.

6. Pray for the group members – about their fears and decisions to trust God in them. Thank God for His grace and His love for you.

7. Remind each person to do the next lesson before the group meets again.

Enjoy your study!

Related Topics: Faith, Women, Women's Articles

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