An Ancient Path to New Beginnings Bible Study Message/Lesson
Scripture References: Isaiah 40:4-5; Mark 10:17-27; Matthew 19:16-26
Spiritual Life Fitness Challenge: Pull out the resonating words from Isaiah 40:4-5. (Read both the KJV and the V translations. Make note of the similarities and differences in the wording.)
Spiritual Enrichment Exercise: Answer the following questions.
- What is the text revealing, from an Old Testament perspective? (Ask yourself the following…Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?)
- How do the resonating words you identified in the aforementioned challenge relate to your spiritual life walk at present? (Are you in a valley of fear? Are you stuck behind a seemingly insurmountable mountain? Do you have to deal with a situation or relationship that is rough and unpleasant? Is your faith such that it seems like you don’t even have the strength to word up a prayer to the LORD?)
Ancient Path -> Isaiah 40:4-5 (The Resonating Words with Definitions)
Resonating words based on the King James Version:
- Valley: a low place; any period, place, or situation that’s filled with fear, gloom, foreboding, or the like; an elongated depression
- Crooked: not straight (bending/curved); not straightforward, lacking honesty
- Mountain/Hill: a large mass or incline, especially in a road; something that is hard to get up, around, or over
- Rough Places: uneven, not smooth; disorderly; harsh or difficult; a place requiring exertion or strength; the unpleasant part of anything
Resonating words based on the Voice Translation:
- Steep Valleys: low places, so low in fact that it’s like having to face a vertical pitch or slope
- Treacherous Descents: characterized by a faithlessness or instability; unreliable; insecure; a falling down or going from a high place to a low place
- Dizzying Heights: a bewildering, confusing or thoughtless, foolish high place
- Potholes and Gullies: a deep pit or hole; a small valley, ditch, or gutter
- Rough Places: a difficult or unpleasant place
- Shoulders: an inclined or raised area
Self-Examination Exercise: My Life in the Real -> Identify the following…
- Your Personal Valleys and Pits (the place where your fear and depression dwell)
- Your Hills and High Places (the place where your foolishness and pride dwell)
- Your Rough and Treacherous Places (the place where you lack strength and/or faith)
Scripture Blessing: Matthew 11:28-29 AMP (Read these Scriptures and personalize them. Speak the word of God over your life. Pray for the LORD to meet you there.)
- Can we walk into, jump in, or dig out our own pits?
- Are we pushed or pulled into a valley experience more than we are led into a valley experience due to our own choices?
- Can we knowingly carry an idol on our journey and allow it to lead us right into a valley or low place?
- Can we contribute, in any way, to how rough or treacherous a valley or mountain is and make it ten times worse due to our own unwillingness to allow God to handle the thing?
New Beginning -> Mark 10:17-27; Matthew 19:16-26 (The Rich, Young Ruler)
Lesson Objective: Consider where a valley, mountain/hill, etc. might be indicated in this story. (Refer back to the resonating word list and the indicated definitions as you reflect on the lesson objective.)
Study Points to Consider:
- Who is immediately evident in the verses? (Note: 3 perspectives -> the young man, the disciples, and Jesus)
- How does the young man posture himself in relation to Jesus?
- What was the young ruler seeking?/What question did he ask?
- How does Jesus respond to the young man? (Note: Be as specific as you can be with your response.)
- How did the disciples respond to the rich, young ruler’s story?(Note: Notice the number or times the Scriptures indicate their reaction in response to what happened.)
- What lesson did Jesus teach His disciples regarding the young ruler?
- How was the glory of the LORD revealed, ultimately?
- Are there any immediate or obvious Almost Let Go, But God lessons in this story that stand out to you? (Note: Consider the unique perspectives of the ruler and the disciples.)
Spiritual Life Fitness Challenge: Say the title of this lesson out loud. At the end of each rendering, refer to it with the following…? (a question mark), ! (an exclamation mark), and … (an ellipsis). Consider the question from the perspective of the young ruler. Consider the exclamatory from the perspective of the disciples. Finally, consider the ellipsis from the perspective of Jesus (the glory of the LORD revealed).
- How are you most like the rich, young ruler? (Refer back to what you uncovered about him from the study text.)
- Did the young ruler seem like he might be headed for a valley experience? (Refer to the quick questions section as you answer the next few questions.)
- Did the rich ruler carry an idol or seem to have something set upon a pinnacle?
- Did the ruler demonstrate a lack of strength or conviction as it related to the LORD?
- Did the rich, young ruler almost let go, but…?
- When the LORD indicates that you would benefit from releasing, surrendering, and/or sacrificing something, how do you typically respond?
- Do you go through or experience any of the stages of grief when you are directed to, “Go, sell, give, & follow?”
- Is God’s grace sufficient even in your lacking?
- How are you most like the disciples? (Consider the faith issue that the disciples had and make note of how Jesus reacted/responded to them when the rough and treacherous came up time after time.)
- Do you tend to forget the faithfulness of God?
- Is it difficult for you to remember how the LORD has delivered you from one season of your life to the next? Why?
- Do you demonstrate any doubt when it comes to God’s strength and power? (What does the Bible say about God’s grace and sufficiency?)
- What does the word believe mean to you? (Spiritual Enrichment Exercise: Complete a word study on the word believe. Refer to the Hebrew and Greek definitions, as well. You may also refer to commentaries and other such resources.)
- How is the “glory of the LORD” revealed in this New Testament story?
- How is the glory of the LORD revealed in your life?
- Is anything too hard for God? (Can the LORD deal with your valleys and pits, your hills and high places, and your rough and treacherous situations?)
- What does Psalm 34:1 say?
- Is it possible to praise God with a top of the mountain praise even in the valley experiences of life?
- Is it possible to praise God even when we inadvertently place ourselves and/or our idols in high places?
- Can God deal with you right where you are?
Top of the Mountain Praise Points:
- God can take any place or situation where you are to give you a better view of Him.
- The revelation of the LORD can be found when you stop looking at self and start looking for the true treasure that comes by way of the Truth and Life – Christ Jesus.
- The LORD will always give you the answer you need based on His unwavering truth.
- The LORD consistently invites each one of us to come.
- Humbling yourself before the LORD will always bring you to a place of sacrifice, dependency, and completion. (Going Deeper: Lowering yourself before an idol will always bring you to a place of lack where you will want more and never be satisfied.)
- A living faith believes to the death no matter how high, how low, how dark, how wide, or how deep the shadow of the night stretches.
- You can bless the LORD at all times! Seek Him and He will answer you.
Going Forward (Come So That You Can Go…Forward, Beyond, Around, Above, Through):
- Identify your personal Almost Let Go, But God lessons.
- Read and reflect on Psalm 34.
- Repent and confess before God.
- Pray to God about what you have discovered on this journey.
- Keep studying the Word of God. Be mindful of your God, who is the Most High, your fruit, and your inheritance.
- Commit to a relationship in the real with God. Embrace and fully believe and accept that God’s grace is sufficient, no matter what.
- Praise the LORD daily for being your personal Savior, LORD, strength, etc. (Spiritual Enrichment Exercise: Study the names of God and gain a deeper understanding of His character. Personalize what you discover.)
This Bible study message was presented, in part, at the 2015 BCOC Ladies Retreat. The event’s theme was Top of the Mountain Praise Through a Valley Experience. The working Scripture that I was given was Isaiah 40:4-5. For accessibility purposes, I have converted the message into an online study format for those who have expressed an interest in having the material. If you have any questions or comments or want to speak with me directly, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless!