Cast the First Stone be Transformed by Grace
Lesson 1: Defining Moments
Lesson 2: The Shame
Lesson 3: The Judgement
Lesson 4: Patience of Christ
Lesson 5: Irrepressible Grace
Did you ever wish you could treat your life like text in a Word document? You simply highlight the moment and press the delete key. Poof! Gone—removed from your life forever. If it were only that simple, right? God disagrees with this concept because He chose you and I to experience the tragedy, or the hardship, or walk through the difficult situations in life for a reason. That is how He molds us into the people we are today.
There are also times in our lives when we think, “Wow God is so good to me. I didn’t deserve His blessing today.” I love those unexpected moments, both good and bad, which define us and help us grow in our relationship with Christ.
Often, we need to look at our past, to see into our future. Every moment from the past has brought you to where you are today. It doesn’t matter if the bad defining moments outweigh the good ones in your life. You are here at this current moment in time for a reason.
Queen Esther is the perfect example of someone who suddenly found herself in the midst of a difficult defining moment. Mordecai requested that she appear before King Xerxes to save the lives of the Jewish people. If Esther requested to see the king when he had not called for her, it put her in a life-threatening position. So, Esther had a challenging decision to make, risk her own life, or risk the lives of the Jewish people. Not exactly the situation any of us would want to be in, but I love Mordecai’s response to her.
Read Esther 4:13-14
After much prayer and preparation, Queen Esther appeared before King Xerxes, and the Jewish people were saved. How was she able to stand strong and confident in this situation? She understood that God would be with her when she approached King Xerxes. Plus, she knew that God loved her and was crazy about her.
Read Isaiah 62:4
In this passage of scripture, Isaiah is praying for the people of Jerusalem. Esther also knew these words to be true, and understood God had chosen her for a great assignment. These words are also a message to us today. A message of God’s unending love for His people.
Regardless of your past or your current situation, “The Lord delights in you.” (Isaiah 62:4 NLT). God is absolutely crazy about you. He loves your smile, your abilities, your idiosyncrasies, and even your flaws, because when you wrap them all together—they make you. Wonderfully, uniquely made you. The person He created to accomplish great missions here on earth.
Read Matthew 10:30-31
Read Psalm 56:8
God knows every hair on your head. He catches every one of your tears! How do these verses change your vision of God’s passion for you?
His love is so deep that all of your bad defining moments will one day be used for good. He has a great plan for your life, and that includes each experience you have had and will have, whether good or bad. Remember, no one else on this earth is exactly like you and no one else on this earth is here to do what God created you to do.
When you reflect on the bad moments in your life, do you understand why God allowed you to go through these experiences?
Some say that bad defining moments should be swept away, hidden, never to be talked about again. But God will change those bad moments in your life into good one day. If you disagree, please don’t toss this study aside. Hang in there with me and you will understand where I’m coming from. I promise.
Do you agree or disagree that there are no bad defining moments in your life? Why?
Read John 8:1-11
The adulterous woman felt like an unworthy outcast. The Bible doesn’t tell us of her sorted past, but there were most likely moments in her life which caused her to become a promiscuous woman. This particular time, she didn’t hide her act of adultery in the dark of the night. She was caught and dragged out into the street in the middle of the day.
Many of us can relate to this woman. We have experienced the shame and humiliation she felt that day. Our sins may not be on public display, but they are very real within our own hearts, where we often hide our deepest pain.
Recall a bad defining moment in your life and how you felt about the situation. (You may or may not want to share this information in a group setting. That is okay, but please focus on the moment and see how God might transform it into good.)
Read Romans 3:21-24
How does this passage of scripture help you understand that God can turn the bad defining moments into good in your life?
As humans we categorize our sins, because of the consequences we face. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. The good news is that God’s grace is available for everyone, regardless of the sin. He doesn’t pick and choose who to forgive or what to forgive. He forgives ALL confessed sins. So, this horrible defining moment in your life is no greater sin than the sin of forgetting to pray, or the sin of over indulgence.
Reflecting of the bad defining moment in your life which you looked at earlier, how can you apply this scripture and understand how and why God will one day turn that moment into good?
Before you answer, you may want to reread Romans 3:23-24.
Yes, the woman caught in adultery had a horrible defining moment in her life which she would rather forget. Being caught and dragged into the street is not a moment to remember with pride and joy. However, this horrible moment will ultimately lead her to the hand of grace. As we continue with this study, we will look more into grace, because grace is the heart of God. But first we need to understand her shame and humiliation in the next lesson.
As I stated earlier, there are both good and bad defining moments in your life. Focus on both before the next lesson. What defining moments, both good and bad, in your life have shaped you into the person you are today? Because, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Mary Magdalene a Woman of Resilience
Lesson 1: A Wealthy Woman
Lesson 2: A Servant of Christ
Lesson 3: A Free Woman
Lesson 4: A Thankful Woman
Lesson 5: A Witness for Christ
I often wonder what it would be like to speak directly with some of the great saints of the Bible. I want to ask Peter how it felt to walk on water. For Paul I wonder, what was the thorn in his flesh? Was it a physical ailment, mental struggle, or a spiritual battle? But of all the New Testament servants of Christ, Mary Magdalene is one who seems the most mysterious to me.
Not mysterious as in secretive. Mysterious because I want to know—where did she find the strength to do all she accomplished for Jesus? We are first introduced to Mary in the Luke 8.
Read Luke 8:1-3
We have no other background about Mary Magdalene, except that Jesus performed a great miracle in her life. What else is there to say? Christ dramatically changed her life when He cast the demons from her. Once Mary discovered her Savior, she was totally committed to Him with a servant’s heart. She became one of Jesus’ followers and part of His road crew, so to speak. She worked behind the scenes and provided financial support for His ministry. Gratitude obviously flowed from her soul as she expressed her love for Jesus.
The scriptures say the ladies who traveled with Jesus and his disciples helped support them financially. This indicates Mary was from a wealthy family. She was so in love with Jesus, that she gave to Christ’s ministry without question.
Which do you feel is more important and why?
Your financial support to God’s church, missions, and ministry—or your compassion, love and concern for others?
Read Matthew 23:23-24
In this passage of scripture, Jesus states that tithing is important, but He puts a greater emphasis on how the Pharisees treated others. Jesus points his finger at their hypocrisy. Jesus is also speaking to us in this scripture. We cannot give financially and neglect doing God’s work. Caring for others within the congregation, the community, and the world is what we are commissioned to do.
There are times in our lives when both tithing and compassion can be difficult for Christians. You may be financially strapped and wish you could support the ministry of the church more. Sometimes your mental state is overloaded due to the stress of life. Many also suffer from Christian burnout due to over commitment.
In those seasons of life when you feel you have nothing left to give, how do you recover? (Examples: Pray, a hobby, rest, focus on nature, you fill in the blank.)
Read Psalm 46:10
How does God tell you to recover?
Read Matthew 11:28-30
Where should you find the strength to serve again?
When you are in a season of financial difficulties, you often feel guilty because you are not able to support the church and missions as your heart desires.
Read Luke 21:1-4
What does this scripture tell you about tithing?
God calls you to tithe, but only if your tithe is with a gracious heart. It isn’t about your financial status or your ability to give large amounts of money. When it comes to serving Christ, and that includes tithing, everything you do is about the heart. There is a huge difference between giving financially and giving financially out of love. Financial giving and serving others—are both about the heart.
Yes, Mary Magdalene, was a wealthy woman, but she also possessed a servant’s heart. In the next lesson, we will dig deeper into Mary Magdalene’s servant heart and begin to understand exactly how she was able to serve others endlessly.
When you tithe, what is the condition of your heart? Spend time in prayer and ask the Lord to reveal the condition of your heart when you give—financially, emotionally, and physically to God’s ministry.
Give It Your All
God calls for us to give our all. Not just financially, but in every area of our lives. I am now convicted every time I read, “For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Luke 21:4).Jesus calls us to give all of our time to serve others. All of our strength for the trials in life. All of our compassion for the hurting. All of our gifts and talents. In every area of our lives, we should take intentional steps to give all we have to Christ.
In these verses, Jesus isn’t concerned about a money issue. He is concerned about a heart issue. The widow wasn’t blessed because she gave financially. She was blessed because she gave from her heart.
Copyright © 2020 Mary Rodman.All rights reserved.