One of the most beautiful things about Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) International is that it is a place where ladies from all stages of life and many different denominations come together to study God's Word. The pearls of wisdom being thrown around the place are incredible.
For this reason, it is extremely difficult to summarize all that I learned through this year's study of Genesis. But as I sat in our final meeting of the year listening to stories of women whose lives had been touched by these first fifty chapters of the Bible, I felt desperate to formulate my own bottom line from my study of this great book and these great characters.
Genesis opens with life, specifically the creation of all life, and ends with death, specifically the death of Joseph, one of the greatest characters of the Bible. We barely have time to enjoy the description of how God so graciously sets all of creation into being before humanity's sinful nature comes into play. From the various genealogies, we learn about the formation of a family, God's chosen people, also known as the Patriarchs. There are stories of men and women living with expectant faith and willing obedience (Noah, Abraham, Joseph), but just as many stories of those who couldn't seem to heed God's warning and were consumed by their own sin (Cain, Lot, Simeon).
Toward the end of the sharing time at our final BSF meeting of the year, a 90-something lady by the name of Claire (come to find out she is a long-time BSF participant) made her way to the front. I was inspired as she struggled to get to the microphone with her walker to share what she she had learned. She said something that has helped to sum up the study of Genesis for me, “The Patriarchs weren't perfect, but there was progress.”
Genesis is full of mess-ups and mishaps but God's Grace, when we choose to accept it, has the power to redeem it all. One of the main purposes of Genesis was to reveal and record God's plan of redemption from the very beginning. Adam and Eve messed it up for us all with a bite of the fruit and Judah defiled his daughter-in-law, Tamar but this did not keep God from choosing to send his only Son to earth through the line of such sinners. The cross was in the plan from the very beginning and He used His people, despite their failures to bring it all about.
Favorite “Pearls” from this year's teaching:
- Light is God's answer to darkness throughout scripture.
- We were created to find our fulfillment in our work by sharing in God's work.
- Accomplishments without faith have no eternal value.
- Every year of our life counts.
- God's timing is not my timing, but it is still perfect.
- God will not allow wickedness to go on forever.
- Noah's children were born into “the weird family”.
- Expect what you do in moderation to be done in excess by your children.
- Passionate faith results in intimacy with Christ, the fullness of the Spirit.
- Take a minute to build an altar of what God is doing in your life now.
- Don't look at our circumstances and make conclusions about God. We can create bad theology.
- A spiritually mature person takes the initiative to address conflict and makes personal sacrifices to resolve conflict.
- The disciplined person is always prepared.
- God meets us where we are not where we should be.
- You have to trust what you know and expect God to take care of the rest.
- God holds nothing back; therefore, we should not hold anything back from Him.
- Write God's commandments on your own heart and then inscribe it on the hearts of your kids. Help them to think Biblically.
- God answers specific prayers with specific answers
- The way we respond to what is going on is way more important to God than what is going on.
- Man's sin can never frustrate the will of God, but it can fulfill it.
- The proof of a changed life is the work of God being carried out through us.
- A good friend mourns with you, a best friend rejoices with you.
- God-focused people are able to handle success.