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Big Dream Ministries exists to help people understand the Bible as God's amazing Word and help them apply Biblical truth to their daily lives. We do this by offering studies that drive people to the Scriptures for answers and equipping leaders with excellent resources to reinforce learning.
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Written by Kellye Rickman

 

Mary, a humble girl, was told she would be a part of God’s plan to send Jesus to earth. Imagine with me what that must have been like for her to experience Jesus, God Sent.

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you had to make a choice between having faith or giving way to fear? Have you ever dreamed dreams for your life only to realize that God may be writing the story of your life differently than the way you had planned?

I certainly have.

My name is Mary and I am going to share an incredible story

My name is Mary and I am going to share an incredible story of when I had to choose between having faith or giving way to fear.

As a Jewish teenage girl living with my parents in northern Israel, my life was pretty ordinary. One day as I was doing my daily work around the house,sweeping my room and cleaning the floors, I began to daydream about my future. I was feeling so much joy and excitement, as I was thinking about my engagement and wedding day that was quickly approaching. I was going to marry the man of my dreams. Joseph was the most honorable and amazing man I had ever met.  I was still amazed by the great blessing God was giving me in a husband. As I was thinking about Joseph, who was most likely already hard at work in his carpentry workshop,I knew that he would be a devoted provider for our family.  I was dreaming about the home we would make, the children we would have, and what a wonderful life it would be.

And then– all of a sudden, the most amazing and unexpected thing happened!  An angel of the Lord appeared. Yes, an angel from heaven standing in my room right before my very eyes.  I was instantly terrified to the point of trembling. Probably much like you, I had never seen an angel.  The experience was magnificent and completely breathtaking. The angel Gabriel had come with a message specifically for me.

An angel visiting a small-town girl like me?

Who would have thought? An angel visiting a small-town girl like me? The angel spoke and said, “Mary, you have found favor with God and the Lord is with you!”

My mind was reeling.  It was hard to take it all in much less understand what this message meant. But the angel Gabriel spoke again and said for me not to be afraid, because I had found favor with God. He had come to deliver a message to me from God.

He went on, saying, “You will conceive in your womb and have a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

As my mind was trying to process what the angel was telling me, I was feeling confused because I knew that I was a virgin.  It was hard to fathom how this would be possible.

Then the angel revealed the answer.  Gabriel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon me, and the power of the Most High would overshadow me.  And the child that would be born to me would be called Holy- the Son of God.

Would I choose faith? Or fear?

Wow! This day had certainly taken a turn that I didn’t see coming. I was envisioning our wedding day and my life with Joseph. And then the angel appeared and revealed a different direction for my life. I had a choice to make in that moment.  Would I choose faith? Or fear?

I knew that faith was believing without seeing.  It was so much to take in, that I would be the one to carry the Messiah, the long-awaited One, the One who would redeem Israel – the One sent by God. And I could already sense the great love that I would have for this child, my first child, my own son, the very Son of God.

Even though this seemed impossible, somehow I knew deep within in me that every word he had spoken was true.  I trusted and believed all that the angel was speaking over me. I knew that my God was the God of the impossible. He starts with impossible and shows the world that all things are possible with God.  My God always keeps His promises even when His plans are different from mine. That day I chose faith and trust over fear and worry.

However, as any girl would, I began to think about what this might mean for my future, the future I longed for with Joseph. What would he think?  What would he do? What would my parents think? What would the neighbors say?

How was I to move forward in confidence of this beautiful revelation that had been spoken over me? I had more questions than answers. But I had faith.  I truly believed that God would be with me as the angel had said. I chose to trust God with my future, and I knew in my heart that God was the One writing the story of my life.

I really didn’t know what to do at this point

I really didn’t know what to do at this point. So, I packed a bag and left to visit my relatives Zechariah and Elizabeth.

I had heard the story of Zechariah in the temple.  I heard that an angel of the Lord met him there revealing to him the Lord’s plan for their lives, even in their old age. I heard that Elizabeth was now pregnant as the angel had spoken over them. And in my heart I knew that I needed to go be with them.

When I arrived at their house and walked through the door, Elizabeth was completely overjoyed to see me. She was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out with a blessing over me. She said, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”

Elizabeth was completely overcome with immeasurable joy.  She knew what was happening.  The Holy Spirit had revealed it.  The mother of the Lord Jesus had come into her home. And perhaps the most surprising of all was that the baby in her womb leapt for joy. This baby, John, knew the joy of the presence of the Lord even from the womb.  This child would be the one to prepare the people for the Messiah to come.

My heart was so full at that moment that I felt like it could burst wide open. And the only thing I could do was to cry out in a song of praise to the Lord for His goodness to me and His blessing over me.

I wasn’t quite sure how Joseph would respond when he heard the news. Would he be angry and upset about the situation? I knew that he was a kindhearted and good man and felt certain that he would do the right thing.

Joseph decided to end our relationship quietly

Joseph decided to end our relationship quietly as to not bring any shame on me. As he was making plans to that end, he too was surprised as an angel appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” The angel revealed to him that the baby in my womb was from the Holy Spirit and that I was going to have a Son and His name would be Jesus.  This child would be the One who would save the people from their sins.

Joseph was a wise man with great faith. Joseph also had a choice to make.  He too chose faith over fear.

He believed the angel and chose to trust God with his future.  He chose trust over fear even when the plan was different than he thought it would be. He quickly took me to be his wife.

In nine short months I would give birth to a son and we would give him the name Jesus, Emmanuel – God with us.

My story continues as Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus decided to take a census of his land to count the people. Everyone was required to return to their hometown.  Although I was great with child, we would be heading to Bethlehem, the city of David.

When we arrived in Bethlehem, the city was jam packed with people.  I had never seen anything like it.  The streets were so crowded you could barely pass through.  We made it safely, but there was a problem. All of the inns were full, and we had no place to stay.

Finally, we met the nicest man who had a cave that he used to give shelter to his animals. He said we could stay there for the night. We gladly accepted, as this was truly our only option.

As I laid my head down on a pile of hay, exhausted yet joyful, I began to replay my story over again and again.  I pondered every detail in my heart.

The prophet Micah had spoken about the Messiah

Then the thought came to me.  The prophet Micah had spoken about the Messiah, that out of Bethlehem would come One who would be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.  I began to feel the pain and knew this baby was coming tonight.

It was amazing to realize that God had orchestrated every detail, and I was about to give birth to the Son of God, fulfilling prophecy as the angel revealed in the City of David.  And that night, the very first Christmas, Christ was born.  God sent the Messiah into the world to make a way for redemption for all people through His one and only Son.  It was miraculous and it was the most beautiful night of my life.

For Mary and Joseph, life didn’t exactly turn out the way they had planned.  There were certainly bumps in the road and big things they didn’t see coming.  We have a lot to learn from them about choosing to trust God with the unknowns of our lives.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we had imagined.

We will each face unknowns.  Life doesn’t always turn out the way we had imagined. But we can go forward with confidence knowing that it is God who is writing the stories of our lives.  God created each of us uniquely and He has a great plan for each of us.  We can choose to trust His plan for our lives with confidence; not confident in ourselves, but confident in the One who is able and always faithful.

Will you choose faith over fear?

“Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:13-21)


A Father’s Masterpiece

A son, grieving the loss of his father, began the arduous task of cleaning out his father’s German home and art studio. His tiny home was crammed with the treasures of his craft – paints, brushes, canvases, and books. Willy Wiedmann developed a style of art called polycon, a unique flowing art form with straight lines and sharp angles using vibrant colors woven together to tell a story. His son always admired his father’s work and appreciated his contribution to the art world, but he was not prepared for the discovery of his father’s masterpiece in the attic – the entire Bible painted in his iconic polycon style.  The pages for each book of the Bible were folded in an accordion fashion and then individually bound. His son, overwhelmed by the beauty of the Biblical artwork, shared the collection with the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. Understanding the rare treasure in their possession, the museum curators created a special exhibition to showcase the work.

One-of-a-kind Bible is over a mile long

Recently, our family traveled to the nation’s capital to visit the museum and had the opportunity to participate in the unfolding of this one-of-a-kind Bible. Each of the Bible books had been connected together and loaded on a specially designed cart. Hundreds of volunteers were arranged around the Lincoln reflecting pond at the National Mall as the organizers slowly pushed the cart, unfolding the illustrated Bible as it was distributed to the waiting volunteers.  All stretched out, the Wiedmann Illustrated Bible is over a mile long.

All of the participants were trying to pinpoint the section of the Scripture they were holding. Because of the unique and somewhat abstract style, it was hard to say, especially without the ability to see the whole context of what was in our hands. Across the reflecting pond, we could see the mixture of colors the artist used, vibrant colors mixed with deep dark tones. We were grateful the museum had a team in place to answer our questions. It turns out that the vibrant rainbow of colors represented the garden and Psalms. The bright light colors expressed the work of the Holy Spirit, while the deep, dark tones indicated sin and pain. Collectively, it was absolutely striking! Not one section could be eliminated; each panel was necessary to tell the beautiful and complete story.

It was a magnificent story of a son revealing his father’s work.

It took over an hour to unfold all of the pages of this unique work of art. However, when the last panel was given out, there were loud shouts of victory. We had remained to see the whole project completed. Wiedmann’s son was present at this historic event in Washington D.C. to see his father’s artwork shared. It was a magnificent story of a son revealing his father’s work.

But more than that, seeing the illustrated Bible fully unfolded gives us a glimpse of our heavenly Father’s view. It is the whole story of redemption – the light and happy events of life interwoven with the deeply painful moments, unfolded to reveal His complete story of redemption in our lives. Our stories remain incomplete until the Son reveals His masterpiece in our lives.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

 

Learn more about the Wiedman Bible at https://youtu.be/0kxXiqb5upU

Written by Pat Harley

The timing was all wrong for sure. There was something more exciting on the other side of the room and so I had lost my audience.

It was Christmas Morning and, as is our tradition, each one of my family including my husband and our then-young two young daughters, gathered early to give our gifts to Jesus. This always comes first before we dive into our own Christmas presents. Now this is not a complicated thing. Beloved had written a poem, Jenna had learned a violin piece and Cameron ( the youngest) had drawn and colored a picture  of the nativity scene. I had written a story entitled Meshed and the Messiah. (more…)

Libby came into class beyond excited! Now she could see! She could see what her husband was talking about. She could see what her friends were talking about. She grew up attending church and heard all the Sunday school stories about Jesus, but she could not see what the consuming passion for Him was about. In fact, Libby was pretty annoyed with Joseph’s new found love for Jesus. Joe had been challenged to read through the gospel of John with a co-worker who practically dared him to stick with it until the end. Libby didn’t hear her husband talk much about his time reading the Bible, but she definitely noticed some changes in him. He was a bit more patient with their boys; he was a bit more helpful around the house, and he was a bit less sarcastic – and she was not complaining! However, Libby was dumbfounded when Joe returned home early from work one day and announced that he was born again. She just couldn’t see what he was talking about.

At Joe’s urging Libby reluctantly joined the women’s Bible study at a local church. They were teaching The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ so she thought she would start there. Now, 9 weeks after she reluctantly started the Bible study, she could see Jesus for who He is and the sacrifice He made on her behalf. She was no longer confused; her eyes had been opened so that she could see the truth of Jesus.

 

Jesus’ Disciples Couldn’t See

Following Jesus’ resurrection, His followers couldn’t see the truth about Him either. Cleopas and his friend had been in Jerusalem for Passover when the city was reeling with the news about Jesus’ crucifixion. These men were His disciples; they had known His teaching and they believed and desired Him to be the long-awaited Messiah. The problem was that they only saw what they wanted to see about Jesus. He said He was coming back after three days, yet instead of anticipating His arrival and waiting in Jerusalem, these two disciples were heading home to Emmaus. When Jesus joined them on the road, they didn’t recognize Him (Luke 24:13-16).

Jesus, always a teacher, questioned the travelers about their conversation, drawing out all that they knew about Him and the events that had taken place. They relayed the facts accurately, even the women’s report of Jesus’ body being missing. Yet, the two still could not see Jesus right in front of their eyes (Luke 24:17-24). When they had finished their account of the events surrounding the weekend, Jesus spoke to them.

       “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to enter into His glory?”    ~Luke 24:25-26

Jesus Uses Scripture to Open Their Eyes

Then Jesus reviewed all the Scriptures written by Moses and the prophets – highlighting how they pointed forward to Him. What a Bible study!  Even with the detailed exposition of the Scriptures, Cleopas and his friend still could not see Jesus. It was not until later in the evening when Jesus broke bread with them, that they were able to receive not only the bread, but their spiritual sight – they could see Jesus and couldn’t wait to share the news. Once the men moved beyond knowing only the facts about Jesus, to receiving Him, they were able to see.

Bible study teachers have the privilege of walking students through the Scriptures, pointing to Christ along the way. The Bible is more than a historical narrative of what has occurred; it contains the very words we need to know about Jesus.  When we teach the Bible with the purpose of knowing the Lord better, every book, every chapter, and every word will point to Christ. As we see Christ portrayed, His heart is revealed over and over again – and the Holy Spirit will affect a person’s heart and open their eyes.

 

Bible Studies Are a Lens to See Jesus

Everyone attending Bible study needs to see Jesus in a fresh and comforting way. Students attend studies for different reasons. Some are committed to learning more about Christ. Others come to satisfy their need for companionship or curiosity. We have heard countless testimonies from people taking The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book or The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ that the truth of Scripture and Christ is revealed to them as never before.

Let us never to be so accustomed to Scripture that we only learn the facts, but rather approach each and every study with the prayer, “Open my eyes that I may see!”

 

 

Are Your Arms Open or Closed?

Josh was stunned. He imagined so many scenarios of how the reunion would go, but never did he imagine the response he got. He had been a young boy when his mother remarried and moved away from his paternal grandparents. The college years were busy with studies, working, and friends, and time slipped away from him. Now, as a young 20 something, he was making his first visit to their home. A surprise visit, he had not spoken to them in years. Nothing hurtful or wrong, just overly involved in his new life.

He waited at the curb by their house until he saw his grandfather arrive home from work. Josh got out of the car and slowly walked to the door, with every step feeling heavier with the weight of the distance in their relationship. After ringing the doorbell, the black wooden door opened slowly and there stood his grandfather, silently staring at him. Josh’s heart pounded hard as he uttered the words, “Hi, Grandpa.” Then, without saying a word, his grandfather slowly closed the door. Josh, confused, stood at the closed door for an unusually long time before returning to his car. He never imagined the stony silent reception. If his grandfather was not going to welcome him back into his life, he would have preferred a heated argument, a good fight to at least feel justified in the strained relationship. But now what? Was restoring the relationship worth the hurt?

How we respond to others when they hurt us is a big deal to Jesus!

The morning after Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city on the back of a colt, He was traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem and teaching the disciples about the power of faith and prayer.  He shared that whatever they asked of the Father and believed would happen, it would be granted. But then Jesus added this very crucial key for prayer, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25).

Our prayers must not be offered from an unforgiving heart.

It is easy to see the harsh and unforgiving reaction of Josh’s grandfather, but harder to see our own heart as unforgiving. Yet what is our response when our neighbor lets their dog roam through our freshly planted flowers or when someone swiftly pulls into the parking space we have been patiently waiting for? How do you respond when you run into the woman you once called a friend until she shared your very sensitive and very private situation with others?

Jesus knows that forgiveness does not come naturally for us.

So much of Jesus’ teaching was about forgiveness. He taught that we are all sinners who have been forgiven and that when we recognize that hard truth, forgiving others should be our overflow response (Matthew 6:14-15).  He elaborated that we should be prepared to forgive others often and repeatedly (Matthew 18:21-22).  And, he knew we would be quick to point out others’ faults when he taught, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.” (John 8:7).

Jesus modeled the way of forgiveness.

At the crucifixion Jesus’ arms were nailed wide open on the cross in the ultimate act of forgiveness. He laid down His life in order for sinners to be reconciled to the Father. Every sin, every time, has been forgiven for those who have faith in Jesus’ work on the cross (Ephesians 2:8).

This Easter let’s celebrate His Resurrection by opening our hearts and our arms to embrace those who we need to forgive – open the door to restoring the relationships that need restoring.

Written by Traci Martin.

 

A Testimony from Rachel Coward about The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book
I spent most of my quiet time in the summer of 2015 asking God for real connections with other believers. We had found a church home at Gateway’s Southlake campus, but I still felt like a random face in a sea of faces. I had been saved for many years but after having my daughter, I started pursing God with a new passion. I wanted more than church on Sundays, and I wanted friendships that were centered around God. Week after week, I made my requests to God – Lord please send me friends who desire to know you more…who will be real…who will accept me.
Each week at church, I would hear the senior pastor say – get plugged in – find a small group… so in a big leap of faith and discomfort, I decided to flip the switch, turn off my pride, and go where I felt like God was leading me.
On a Tuesday morning in September 2015, I walked the sidewalk to a complete stranger’s door and pulled up a chair. I sat in a room full of people I didn’t know, and God happened. I knew instantly that while I might not “know” these ladies it was clear that I was in the right place. I can tell you with complete clarity that I didn’t see myself doing a full study of the Bible. In fact, once I found out it was a 3-year study, I quickly felt overwhelmed and a little out of my element. Some days I would show up and it felt like I knew nothing, but I kept reading and pressing in to God’s word. Each week I learned something about God, myself, and how I saw God.
During the first year of TAC, I wrote these words in my Bible – Return from Exile. As I studied more of God’s word, I knew he was speaking to me specifically about my mother and the pain and rejection I felt surrounding her illness and death. God was changing things in my heart and part of me wanted to run. Instead, I kept reading…
In the final year of the study, as we read 2 Timothy and Paul’s instructions on endurance these words from one of the daily lessons stood out to me: Both community and solitude are used by God in our lives to fashion us into the kind of people he wants us to be (Workbook 10 at page 61). And there it was…the thing that had caused me to separate and isolate myself from people was the thing that God used to heal me. Book by book, word by word, He put the pieces back together. Those 3 years played out differently for everyone, but many of the women from The Amazing Collection study have become close and dear friends – truly answered prayer.
It is hard to put in to words what reading the Bible and working through The Amazing Collection study has done for my life, my walk with God, and my desire to be n God’s word. It is a true study of the Bible, but it’s so much more. From the workbooks, to the personal testimonies shared on the videos each week, the curriculum leads you through God’s word in a way that connects the dots.
I am currently leading year one of The Amazing Collection, and I am excited about the Bible in a way I never dreamed possible. The Bible is so much more than an interesting collection of stories. It’s my prayer that more women can experience a revival in their love for God’s word. The Amazing Collection facilitated that for me and I am thankful that I can do the same for others.
For information about Gateway Church, visit their website at gatewaypeople.com

For information about The Amazing Collection: The Bible, Book by Book visit our preview page at https://www.bigdreamministries.org/preview-materials/the-amazing-collection/

Written by Traci Martin

The need for discipleship

Jesus is amazing, but when I moved to the south, He was not on my mind. In fact, I don’t really think Jesus was on my mind even when I was in my childhood church. But that quickly changed when my husband and I transferred to Georgia. We were surrounded by Christians! They were everywhere, or at least it seemed so. As I observed them doing life, they seemed different to me. There was a positive outlook at the way they approached issues; they called it joy. There was an assurance that everything would work out for the best even when they were in crisis; they called it peace. And they talked about Jesus and to Jesus as if He was sitting right there with them. How they lived was attractive to me and I wanted what they had.

One night as I was home alone, I told Jesus that my life was His and it was a sweet time with the Holy Spirit. But then what? The only thing I knew to do was observe the other Christians in my life – and mimic their behavior. I fell right into the trap of legalism. Just tell me the rules and I will do or not do accordingly as a Christian. However, I did not need rules; I needed to be discipled.

Decades later, as I mentor young women who desire to grow spiritually, I recognize that discipling others is to teach them how to walk with the Lord.

But what does discipleship look like if it is not about adjusting behavior?

Jesus modeled how to disciple when He said to Simon Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He was not inviting them to learn the “Christian rules” but to join Him in what He was doing. He started with the invitation to follow Him with the purpose of being redefined from “fishers of fish,” to “fishers of men.” Did they really understand what that meant? I don’t think so. We don’t read about Jesus implementing a rigorous training program; instead Jesus took them to a wedding where they witnessed His miraculous power of turning water into wine (John 2:1–11). They watched Jesus respond with godly authority when He cleared the Temple of money changers (John 2:13 – 25). And in amazement, the disciples observed Jesus offering hope to an outcast woman in an outcast city with the simple gesture of stopping at a well for a drink of water (John 4:126).  

Belonging

As Jesus was expressing His power, His authority, and His hope, he was giving the disciples a sense of belonging. They wanted to be with Him, but more impressively is that Jesus wanted them! These fishermen and tax collectors and other seemingly undesirable members of society were given an elevated status of belonging to this rising leader. As Jesus taught about the kingdom of God, they inferred that Jesus would be the one who would squelch the Roman occupation of Jerusalem; He would be the one to set them free. They did not understand the full picture of what Jesus was teaching until He explained the deeper meaning of the parables – only to His followers and disciples (Mark 4:10–12).

Believing

Jesus provided opportunities for His disciples to apply the lessons He had been teaching them. He healed the leper and then sent him to the priest to be declared clean (Matthew 8:1–4). He healed the centurion’s servant from afar with just a word (Matthew 8:5–13). And He healed Peter’s motherinlaw, and then she got up and served Him (Matthew 8:14–15). Think of the faith progression in these healings: the Hebrew disciples were not going to get close to a leper to examine his disease; they would leave that for the priests. They didn’t actually see the centurion’s servant, so they could not verify the healing for themselves. But Peter’s mother-in-law was a different story. She got up without any residual symptoms of the fever, and tended to Jesus’ needs. Even though Peter was an eyewitness to the healing power, he and the other disciples still had to grow in their own belief. When they thought they were perishing on a boat in a storm, Jesus rebuked them for their “little faith” (Matthew 8:23–27).

Fast-forward toward the end of Jesus’ discipleship training; the disciples are once again in a boat with choppy waters and high winds. This time Jesus was not in the boat with them.  Peter’s belief had grown tremendously as he climbed out of the boat to walk on the water towards Christ. While it was a short walk before Peter’s fear took over, it prompted the disciples’ declaration that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 14:22–33).

Behaving

Believing Jesus as the Son of God changes how we respond to the authority of the Bible and the teachings it contains. Jesus gave many sermons on how to live, how to interact with fellow mankind, and how to interact with God. He regularly chastised the Pharisees for their outward appearance of piety; in other words, their behavior was only religion (Matthew 23:27). But He offered grace and forgiveness for the sinner (John 8:1–11).

Believing in Jesus and knowing we belong to Him changes everything about us, including how we respond to people and situations in our lives. It is the difference between the Peter who denied Christ three times (Luke 22:54–62) and the Peter who was arrested for boldly preaching about Jesus (Acts 4:1– 20). Peter started as a Christ-follower and became a Christ-proclaimer; that is discipleship.  

Walk this Way

As we come alongside of new or emerging believers to disciple them, we are, in essence, teaching them to walk with Jesus. They may want a list of dos and don’ts to know “what would Jesus do,” like I did. Or perhaps the exact opposite is true and their life does not resemble anything godly. Our temptation is to try a “fix” their behaviors first.

Behavior is not the starting point for walking with Christ. Discipleship begins with understanding who Jesus is and who we are in Him. It must start with belonging – knowing they are loved unconditionally and there is nothing that can separate them from His love (Romans 8:35-39). For some, depending on their background, it could take a while for them to have assurance of this fact. However, once the love of Christ penetrates people’s belief systems, it changes them through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is then that the Bible becomes amazing for them and it is then that they want to obey the Word as an overflow of what has been done inside of them. Discipleship that works helps believers feel a sense of belonging, increases their belief, and thus, affects their behavior.

For more information about our engaging Bible Studies and teaching resources, visit us at www.BigDreamMinistries.org or email us at CustomerCare@TheAmazingCollection.com

 

 

 

 

Almost daily we receive questions about our newest study, The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ. It is exciting to hear how many people are looking forward to learning more about Jesus.  We are making the study available to you as soon as it is ready.

Status by Product

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Workbook – Part 1

  • Status: Currently in stock with thousands more being delivered the first week of August

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ DVD Set – Part 1

  • Status: Currently in stock

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Digital Streaming – Part 1

  • Status: Currently available on bigdreamministries.org/product-category/digital-streaming

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Workbook – Part 2

  • Status: Limited quantities of the first edition are currently in stock.
  • The final round of copyediting is completed and will be delivered to the printer by the end of July.

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ DVD Set – Part 2

  • Status: The filming is complete and post-production edits are anticipated in autumn.

The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ Digital Streaming – Part 2

  • Status: The videos will be uploaded for streaming following the post-production edits.

Pricing for the Study

  • Workbooks

o   $24.50 direct from Big Dream Ministries

o   $25.99 online from Amazon

  • DVD Sets – 12 video lessons and 1 workbook

o   159.99

  • Digital Streaming

o   $7.50 each lesson

You are going to be blessed by participating in this study. Reach out to us if you have any further questions about The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ.

Bible study “season” is upon us and soon, women from every stage in life will walk through the doors of our churches and homes for an encounter with the living God. We will experience so many needs and personalities; it could almost be overwhelming – a lot like a puzzle when you first dump it out on a card table.

It takes patience and time for those pieces to start to make sense. Some frame the scene, others bring color, still others make up the background you don’t always notice right away. Wherever the specific piece fits, it’s undeniable each one is needed, or the picture is not complete.

As leaders of women and ministry, we already know the “big picture” – that God’s Word is the key to our relationship with Jesus. But we may not realize how important each little “puzzle piece” is to our growth in Christ.

The body of Christ is about more than just getting together on Sundays and drinking coffee, singing songs, hearing a sermon, and going home. We have deep, eternal, significant work to do when we are together – any time we are together. It is mysterious and at the same time, completely tangible.

We need Truth. And we need to know and love God more. But we also need each other. Did you know that? No one likes to be needy. And sometimes, we don’t want to be needed! But, we need each other because of what – and Who – is inside us. We have a gift to give and that gift can only be given and received when we are together. (Facebook and FaceTime don’t count. This means face to face!)

Peter explained this truth for us in 1 Peter 1:3-7:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This is a beautiful reminder of who we are and where we are bound. But let’s focus on the word “various” in verse 6 … in “various trials.” Various in the Greek is poikilos and means “existence in various kinds or modes, diversified, manifold, variegated, many colored.” Even “woven or embroidered.”

 We see this word often in the Gospels, when Jesus healed the sick with various diseases. His grace and power were sufficient for every single one. The word is also used secularly, as a descriptive in nature. The spots on a leopard. The plumage of a peacock. The glint of granite. It can also describe the character of something or someone that’s complex, clever, or resourceful. This is a beautiful concept layered with meaning.

We are promised trials many times in Scripture. We aren’t told how often or what kind, but we do get to know something of the greater purpose. Verse 7 tells us we are grieved by these various trials, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Greater future glory for Him and for us!

Peter leads us onward in 4:10, where we receive our “horizontal” high calling:

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

There’s that word again. Varied, various … poikilos. So, our trials are various –multicolored, diverse, complex. Could it be that Peter is saying God’s grace is as well? Yes. That is exactly what he is saying.

Here’s William Barclay’s thoughts on this:

“To speak of the grace of God as poikilos means that there is no color in the human situation which the grace of God cannot match. And no possible problem can arise to which the grace of God cannot supply the solution. There is no possible set of circumstances, no possible crisis, emergency or demand through which the grace of God cannot find a way, and which the grace of God cannot triumphantly deal with and overcome. There is nothing in life with which the grace of God cannot cope. There is a grace to match every trial, and there is no trial without its grace.”

But wait – there’s more! Note the context of “varied” in verse 10. Could this mean that we are somehow involved in dispensing the very grace of God to one another? Scripture could not be more clear.

You have a treasure inside you – a gift given at the moment of your salvation. But unlike presents under the tree, this isn’t a gift for you. It is a gift for everyone else. Someone needs the grace that has been entrusted to you. And each gathering is a joyful opportunity to give it away.

So when you come to Bible study each week, you are so much more than a participant or a leader. As a believer, you are a steward. An ambassador. An overseer. A custodian.

As stewards of God’s grace, we should show up anytime we meet as believers – or anytime we meet with anyone – and instead of thinking, as we are all prone to do, “Here I am! Who’s going to say hi to me? Who’s going to ask how I am? Who’s going to notice me?” our spirit-led attitude and renewed mind must think instead, “There you are! I’m going to reach out first; I’m not only going ask how she is, I’m going to listen to what she says. Humble me, Lord. Use me and the grace you have deposited inside me to love and encourage and point someone to Your Son today.”

His Spirit is dwelling in and among us even now. And each of us possesses a supernatural gift, provided by our heavenly Father, intended to strengthen other believers with His sovereign grace. I need you. You need me. We need each other. We can choose each day to participate in His beautiful plan of restoration and blessing. What a privilege to be a vessel through which God’s infinite, abundant grace is poured out unceasingly on His people!