"You look fabulous!" I marveled when I saw her at the company Christmas party. We had met several months earlier. Since then, she lost weight and styled her hair, dramatically enhancing her appearance.
Like my colleague who had succeeded in making positive changes, don’t we determine to do similar things as the New Year approaches? We resolve to lose weight, resume that exercise program, update our hairstyle and wardrobe. Or maybe it's that bad habit we yearn to break, relationship we long to mend, or better job we desire to land. What is it for you?
For me, New Year resolutions don't stick. I start off strong then gradually slip back to familiar routines that don't work.
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The Apostle Paul asked the same question.
"When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong...What a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" (Romans 7:21a, 24 NLT)
His answer was not a different diet, a state-of-the-art gym membership, a best-selling self-help book, or the dream job.
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:25 NLT)
The answer is not something. It is Someone!
"But how does that work in my life?" you're wondering.
God has left us His word, the Bible, but its purpose is not merely for knowledge. It's designed for life transformation. I have found the best way to turn the Bible from ancient history to relevant news is to make it a group discussion activity, asking questions that apply its words to our everyday lives. After all, that is what Jesus did. He asked the people He met questions about their lives. His goal was not merely to instruct but to stretch their faith in God.
To sit in a circle with others and grapple with questions about the Bible together is a highly effective method for deep life change. Unlike social conversations, Bible study discussions can engage the heart, mind, and spirit, leading us to wrestle with the complex concerns of our daily lives. In this age of technology, we isolate ourselves watching sermons online or get lost in a large worship service. Facebook, Instragram, and Amazon apps distract us, pulling us in too many directions. Something wondrous happens when we find several people to meet with face-to-face to discuss the scriptures and our lives together. All you need are two or three friends and the Holy Spirit will come. I challenge you to do this!
After over 30 years of studying the Bible in groups, I began to create my own study guides to use in our women's small group Bible study. Our group experienced such amazing transformations that I have created a website to share our study questions with others. All study guides are free downloadable PDFs.
Start with the amazing life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of the disciple Peter in the Gospel of Mark. https://barbararuglio.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/gospel-of-mark/
Be encouraged by women of overcoming faith in the Women of the Bible series. https://barbararuglio.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/women-of-the-bible-old-testament/
Discover how faith can work in your life in the Book of James. https://barbararuglio.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/book-of-james-bible-study/
Be comforted with Job as he asks God why bad things happen to good people in the Book of Job. https://barbararuglio.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/book-of-james-bible-study/
Even if you have struggled to understand the Bible in the past, don't believe all of scripture is true, or haven't trusted in Jesus as the Son of God, discussing the Bible together can bring you the peace and joy that you have not been able to achieve.
And did I mention these studies are free?
I can't promise you will lose those 10 pounds, but Jesus did promise us a new life.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
In 2016, may your life be transformed from the inside out into the beautiful women Jesus has always intended you to be!
Barbara is an executive assistant by day but her passion is to encourage women through small groups and mentor engaged couples with her husband Al. She loves the Jersey Shore, long walks in sunny spaces, watching chick flicks with her 20-something daughters and Nick-at-Nite with her grandson. Check out her devotionals at www.barbararuglio.blogspot.com and share the study guides from her new website www.barbararuglio.wordpress.com.