Bible Study: Caught Up

On Wednesday nights, I co-lead a women's bible study.  Tonight, I was able to put together a Bible Study lesson about something I've realized really affects me, and I'm guessing it affects a lot of people.  It's about getting caught up in things . . . often too caught up in things.  Feel free to use this Bible Study for yourself, a group, or for a church.  God bless!

“Caught Up”
by Brooke Shambley

Today, I was thinking about how I get so caught up in things.  This morning I was caught up in an online contest, then later I was completely consumed by getting the church’s commercial range on Craigslist.  Sometimes it’s the computer that has me caught up, sometimes the TV, sometimes life and circumstances.  Bottom line, I know I get way too caught up by things.

Name something that you’ve been caught up with today, or within the last week.

I’m so caught up in __________________________________________ right now.

This really got me thinking, what does the Bible say about getting “caught up”.  What does it mean to be “caught up”, what does it relate to?

There are a few Hebrew and Greek words that mean “caught” or “caught up,” here are their English equivalents:  stolen, seized, take hold of, took hold, spoil, stolen, take away, catch away, handle, lay hold, prevailed upon, grasp

Two main meanings stand out from the Biblical idea of being caught up: 1. Taken forcibly and 2. Grasped or caught

My first question has to do with the first meaning, taken forcibly.  Here are some questions to get you thinking:

1.      What is taking hold of your time?

2.      What is taking hold of your children?

3.      What is taking hold of your money?

4.      What is taking hold of your life?

The answer might be material things, other persons; maybe you are taking hold of it all.  Anything that holds control in our lives without our making a decision to give it control has taken it, seized it, and stole the control.  We even seize the control of our own lives often selfishly, but God is the one who ultimately controls our lives and we should submit to his authority.

Examples of things being stolen or seized (containing the Hebrew word we are studying):

Ecclesiastes 9:12 - Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:  As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

Numbers 31:32 - The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep . . .

Deuteronomy 22:28 - If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found . . .

Just as fish are caught in a net, plunder is taken from the conquered, and at times virgins are seized and put through things they would never choose, so our life and circumstances are at times out of our control.  Things are forcibly taken in our lives, our time, our resources, and for some when their own bodies were taken.  Getting caught up in this way, we have no control over the circumstances, but we do have control to whom we relinquish our heartache.  God still has a plan when our lives seem caught up by something we can’t control, and He can and will restore our lives.

My second question has to do with the second meaning of “caught up”.  Sometimes our time, children, money, and lives are being caught but not by force.  Sometimes it can seem like we are caught up in a wind or a storm, but are we getting caught up forcibly or are we giving ourselves over to things?  Is it seizure or abandonment?

We must recognize God’s power over our lives and our sin.  We can’t simply put up the white flag before the battle even starts.  Satan doesn’t want a battle; because he knows that God will win every time.

Proverbs 7:13 - She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him . . .

I’m guessing this fellow in the Proverbs example isn’t putting up much of a fuss.  He’s giving himself over to the adulteress.  Joseph’s example is quite different; he’s the example for how things should go.

Genesis 39:12 – [Potiphar’s wife] caught [Joseph] by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

Notice that Joseph recognized what was being taken and stood strong in God by actually running away.  How easy it would have been for him to get caught up and simply give in to her pressuring!  No matter what tries to catch us up and pull us in, we must seek to take hold of God instead of being taken hold of by other things.

We shouldn’t let other things seize control of our lives nor should we seize the control for ourselves and we shouldn’t allow things to catch us up due to inattention, then how can we deal with the “cares of this world”?  What should we do when everything seems to overtake us and demand of our time?  God has the answer and offers to take hold of our problems, etc.

What specifically has God offered to take care of in our lives?  Can He stand strong in our storms?

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Psalm 55:22 - Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Matthew 6:30-32 - If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

So God can take care of our problems, but how can we take hold of God?  Specifically, how can we hold fast and cling to God instead of getting caught up by the world?

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Deuteronomy 4:29 - But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

1 Timothy 6:11 - But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Philippians 3:7-14 – But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I love the synonyms provided by Blue Letter Bible on the Greek word for “Press on” – run to, run swiftly, run after, press on, pursue, seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire

What are you caught up with?  Are you chasing after things or are you chasing after God?  Are we letting things run our lives, or are we standing firm in God?

If you aren’t caught up by God, what are you caught up by?


Growing Like a Tree

Numerous comparisons can be drawn between a tree and the Christian life. Here I will focus on the aspect of personal growth. 

A tree is first a seed buried deep within the fertile soil. The sun and rain fills the land in which the seed is sown and it begins to grow roots sprawling down deeper into the soil. It will depend on the height and strength of the tree just how far down these roots must travel and strengthen. Over time it will begin to grow into a seedling, then a sapling, as it begins to form above ground. It grows in height, width, and greenery. Eventually, it will bud or bear fruit depending on the species of its kind.

It is safe to say that each year it grows it will look differently than the last until it reaches full maturity. The same is true of the healthy Christian. Each year or season of our life should have distinct aspects of growth that looks different than the prior season. If five years have passed and we are in the same place in the Lord as we were five years prior, we have reason to question our progress. We need to check to see that our seed is planted firmly in Christ. We need to examine whether we are receiving proper Sonlight and nutrients.

The Sonlight only comes from the Son. Conforming to His image and likeness is the only way to become more and more like Him. We do this by spending quiet time with Him, beholding Him and getting to know Him. This is not just a time for petitionary prayer, but for relaxing in His Presence. Prayer is communion with Jesus. This is two way spirit to Spirit communication. Words are not required, and often divert our mind from Him to our own needs and internal dialogue rather than truly communing with Him.

Nutrients come from a variety of sources and yet all of it comes out of Christ. This is to say that we water the seed in multiple ways of receiving what Jesus is saying. The most popular and most universally accepted manner is reading the Bible and meditating on the words of Scripture. This is enhanced when the Holy Spirit is involved for it is the Spirit that gives life. The Word without the Spirit can create legalism and religion whereas the Holy Spirit brings liberty and frees us into being true sons and daughters of Christ. 

However, nutrients also come from the teaching of those who are mature in the Lord, specifically but not exclusively those who are five-fold leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers). It is important to learn from others who have been called by the Lord to equip the saints in the work of the ministry (Ephesians 5).  This happens, or ought to happen, in our local church, but also on a larger scale from regional, national, and international equipping ministries. We need to learn from a diverse spectrum of the body of Christ to be healthy. Reading books or articles, listening to podcast or sermons from such ministries or attending local or regional conferences are great ways to receive these nutrients. Just as each Christian needs a community of Christians to grow in Christ, each community needs continual and regular contact with other communities to grow as well. 

We cannot grow in a bubble. We cannot stay cloistered in our local church without tasting of the fruits of the larger Body of Christ. We need each other and we need to seek out and honor the giftings God has placed in other ministries. When we honor the other groups by learning from them that which we honor begins to grow in our own life. This is how the Body grows into the fullness of the stature of Christ.

Another way to access these nutrients is to be in relationship with a prophetic community. This means being around people who hear from God and see people through the eyes of Jesus. When people can see the treasure God has placed in you and call it out of you, you grow at an accelerated rate. There is nothing like encountering prophetic ministry. It speaks to who you are in Christ and helps you see what Jesus has put in you. It gives you the confidence to begin to release that dormant gift or to use the gift in greater measure than before. 

To return to the illustration of the tree, when we grow in Christ we find out what sort of tree we are and we begin to grow out our branches into the areas of influence God has called us into. Once firmly rooted in Christ, we stand firm and reach out beyond our previous territory and then we see our branches laden with fruit that we can give away. We get to watch the glory of God become revealed through us and into that which we put our hands to. We can all grow like a tree if we are first planted into the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ. 


Introducing Our Blog: All of My Strength

My family is a family of writers.  Whether as amateurs or with multiple degrees backing up their expertise, my family has a history with the written word.  The family history book that was passed down from generation to generation has a continuing section of poetry that tells the tale of our family from the crossing over the Atlantic from Europe before the Revolutionary War all the way into the present.  My mother, Patty, has written beautiful poetry and instructional material.  My sister, Karla, was a journalism major in college and has now published apologetics articles supporting her faith in Jesus.  Currently, she is working on her first book.  I am the younger sister and I also love to write.  I write songs, poetry, and I love to write about Interior Design, my family, and my faith.

Due to our rich history with writing and our desire to team up as a family and have a joint venture, my mother, my sister, and I have decided to write a blog together on topics that are relevant to our lives and yours.  We each will work on different sections of the blog.  My sister will write on matters of the faith, but she will also write on topics relevant to couples.  My mother will be our health and family writer.  Her knowledge  and expertise as an RN will be an invaluable resource.  I will write on matters related to the home and family.  As a military spouse, interior designer, and mother of one, I plan to share about military life, how to design the home, and share about my experiences as a parent.

Antique Family History Book
Karla Perry - Apologetic (Faith) and Couples Writer

Patty - Health and Family Writer

Brooke Shambley - Home and Family Writer

Please come along side of us as we begin our journey together as a family of writers.  We are going to enjoy sharing our lives and expertise, and we would love to have your feedback along the way!

God bless!