There are times when all of us fall victim to the activity trap. If we could just do more, then we will feel better, be more spiritual, be closer to God. Yet, Jesus points out that increased actions do not always lead to increased effectiveness.
Sarah Young leads us through the story of Mary and Martha. Using the Jesus Calling Bible Study Experiencing God’s Presence, we are called to come into God’s presence, to choose the right thing, to be still and know that He is God.
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God’s Presence Invites You
God is present with you. Right now. Do you believe that? Do you believe it in theory, or do you experience God’s Presence as you go through your day?
God yearns to spend quiet moments with you and help you grow more and more aware of His Presence as you seek Him. In this first session, we’ll begin to develop the habit of sitting in God’s Presence, hearing His voice as He speaks through the Scriptures.
1. Have you ever experienced God’s Presence? If so, what did you (or what do you) experience? If you never have, do you believe God wants you to experience His Presence when you read the Scriptures? Why or why not?
2. What draws you to this exploration of God’s presence?
“Come to Me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to old ways as you step into a new year. Instead, seek My Face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to you. I see you with a steady eye because my attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely; My thoughts embrace you in everlasting Love. I also know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Give yourself fully to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My Presence.”
~ From Jesus Calling, January 1
3. How eager are you to be changed? What makes you long for transformation?
4. What, if anything, makes you uncomfortable with change?
5. How do you respond to the thought that God is fully attentive to His children? Do you want that attention? Is it scary to you at all? Why or why not?
“Relax in My healing Presence. As you spend time with Me, your thoughts tend to jump ahead to today’s plans and problems. Bring your mind back to Me for refreshment and renewal. Let the Light of My Presence soak into you as you focus your thoughts on Me. Thus I equip you to face whatever the day brings. This sacrifice of time pleases Me and strengthens you. Do not skimp on our time together. Resist the clamor of tasks waiting to be done. You have chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.”
~ From Jesus Calling, January 2
6. What are some reasons this reflection offers for spending time in God’s Presence? What are some others that come to mind?
7. Listening to what God is saying to you in the Scriptures is a skill that you can develop with practice. But unlike many skills, it doesn’t come by trying harder but by trying softer — by relaxing and just allowing God to speak to you through the Holy Spirit. It also comes from having a right understanding of how the Lord sees you. How do you believe Jesus looks at you right now? Is He frustrated, frowning? Is He delighted with you?
8. In Romans 12:2, Paul writes, “ Do not conform to the patters of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” What do you think “the renewing of your mind” means?
In this section, you will reflect on a Bible passage in which Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha. As you read, it is important to keep in mind that Jesus was close friends with these two sisters, as He was with their brother, Lazarus. Also notice that it was Martha who opened their home to Jesus. In the culture of that time, she would have been expected to provide hospitality to her guests, and she would have expected her sister to help her with the preparations.
9. Read the following passage aloud. Then spend several minutes in silence rereading the passage and picturing yourself in the scene. You can put yourself in the place of one of the characters—Mary, Martha, one of the male disciples accompanying Jesus—or you can be in the room watching.
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” — Luke 10:38-42
Ask God to show you what He wants you to see in the passage. Use your senses to imagine the scene. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Does Jesus look at you? Say anything to you? What do you feel when He speaks to each person? What are His tone of voice and facial expressions when He speaks? Write some notes about what you have recognized through this exercise.
10. When you sat in silence with this Scripture passage, how easy was it for you to relax in Jesus’ Presence? Where did your mind go?
11. If you’re meeting with a group, share your experience. Where did you put yourself in the story? What insights did you have? How was this like or unlike the way you usually approach the Bible?
12. What might Jesus be impressing on your heart through this Scripture passage?
13. If you’re meeting with a group, how can the members pray for you? If you’re using this study on your own, what would you like to say to God right now?
Excerpted with permission from Experiencing God’s Presence from the Jesus Calling Bible Study Series by Sarah Young, copyright Thomas Nelson.
(Source: Faith Gateway)