Today is the day we officially launch the six-week The Longing in Me Online Bible Study with Sheila Walsh – and it’s not too late to sign up and join us!
But before I tell you about this, let me tell you a little about how we got here…
As most of you know, each Sunday here at Bible Study of the Week we feature the first session of a popular video Bible study to give you a taste of the study and introduce you to new Christian authors and teachers. Many of you are small group or ministry leaders, or simply passionate about Bible study, and you often use these first sessions to make decisions about future studies for your groups or personal use. If you like the study, there are options to purchase the study guides or DVD — or sign up for the Study Gateway online video streaming option. We love being able to serve you this way!
Then something changed.
About a year ago we started hearing from many of you that you wanted to go through the complete study online, with other Christian readers at the same time. Many of you were looking for community, or a deeper dive into a study, either because you weren’t plugged in to a church or because your schedule didn’t allow you to participate in Bible studies outside the home. (As a former megachurch small group leader, now full-time working Mom with a toddler and two tweens, I could completely identify!)
So we got to work building a great online Bible study program, and every 2-3 months we select a new study that we’ll do together as a group, with a team of FaithGateway leaders and moderators here to walk you through each session week by week. People are really enjoying this type of experience — a mix of personal study with accountability and online moderators and facilitators!
Most recently, our friends at Study Gateway joined in and started offering limited-time access to these special study videos. Yes, that’s right. When you sign up for one of our online Bibles studies you get access to ALL the online video sessions for FREE.
I can’t express how excited I am that this day is finally here.
So if you’re looking for an online Bible study this spring, we hope you will check out The Longing in Me and sign up today to join 15,000 others in our community going through this study together! Got questions about how all this works? We have all the FAQ about learning to get started after registration.
As a sneak peek, below is a look at the complete Session One: The Longing to Be Chosen.
That’s it for this Sunday… stay tuned for another “Bible Study of the Week” next week!
Jaime Guthals, Director
FaithGateway Online Bible Studies
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. ~ C. S. Lewis, Made for Heaven
Watch Session 1 Video of The Longing in Me.
We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T. S. Eliot
Play the video segment for Session 1. As you watch, use the outline provided to follow along or to take additional notes on anything that stands out to you.
- The human heart longs for closure and understanding. It longs to change the ending of those things in our lives that have scarred us badly.
- David was known as “a man after God’s own heart,” yet he made choices that cost him and others dearly.
- We all long to be chosen. But when those longings are unmet, what do we do? Even more, when those longings are met, why is there an even greater ache that remains?… No matter how great your longing is for God, it will never, ever compare to His longing for you.
- God chose the things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. — 1 Corinthians 1:28
- These words exactly describe David, the man God chose to be king over Israel (see 1 Samuel 13:14).
- We’re drawn by charisma more than character. But charisma cracks under pressure, while character doesn’t.
- The God who created you has chosen you as His beautifully loved daughter. Because of that, you can take rejections in your life in stride.
1. What part of the teaching had the most impact on you?
Betrayed by Longing
2. Sheila pointed out that our high school years often rank near the top of the scale when it comes to intensity and longing. She described herself as an “awkward girl” in this season of her life and shared a painful story about how “popular girls” used her longings to torment her. As you reflect on this same era in your own life, which of the following high school stereotypes come closest to describing you? Place a check mark next to your top two or three.
□ Star athlete
□ Good girl
□ Mean girl
□ Popular (A-list)
□ Popular (B-list)
□ Band geek
□ Angry girl
□ Party girl
□ Invisible girl
□ Depressed girl
□ Fat girl
□ Skinny girl
□ Drama nerd
□ Other: ____________________
Stereotypes can be true to a point, but they can also obscure truth. In what ways do the words and phrases you checked represent something genuinely true about your high school self? In what ways do they also obscure something true about who you were?
How would you describe the deeper or hidden longings behind the words and phrases you checked? For example, the deeper longing behind being the overachiever might be a need for significance, affirmation, or self-worth. The hidden longing behind being the fat or skinny girl might be a need to be seen as desirable or to be noticed for something other than body size.
In what ways might the longings you described also be an expression of the desire to be seen and chosen?
Sheila described the devastation she felt when she realized what the popular girls at the dance had done. She was angry at everyone, but most of all, she said, “I was angry with myself… my longing had betrayed me.” In what ways, if any, do you relate to this response? How would you describe the purpose of punishing or blaming ourselves (or our longings) when we are hurt by someone else?
3. As the youngest of eight sons, David was up against a big stereotype — the no-account little brother. And while it was true that David was last by birth order and therefore considered least by most people — including his father and brothers — the stereotype also obscured a larger truth about who David really was: “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). We get a better understanding of what this statement about David’s heart really means by listening in on a heated conversation between the prophet Samuel and King Saul, who has blatantly disregarded a command from God:
Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”
Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”
“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” — 1 Samuel 13:11-14
When deep need alone is the driving force behind our choices, we’re almost guaranteed to end up in a place we’d rather not be — a ditch or worse. Seeing how this plays out with Saul is not difficult. First, he rationalizes his behavior by pointing out his dire circumstances, and then he skirts responsibility for his foolish choices by blaming Samuel. Saul essentially says, Look, things around here have been going downhill fast. If you’ d shown up when you were supposed to, I wouldn’t have been forced to take matters into my own hands. I didn’t want to do it, but you left me no choice.
Now contrast this illustration of Saul’s heart with the apostle Paul’s description of David:
God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.” —Acts 13:22
Based on the passages from 1 Samuel 13 and Acts 13, how would you characterize the differences between Saul’s heart and David’s heart?
What does it mean in practical terms to be a person “after God’s own heart”? In other words, in the course of everyday life, what thoughts or behaviors are a tip-off that you are or are not living as a person after God’s own heart?
Saul is actually somewhat of a sympathetic character in this story. Given the same circumstances, most of us wouldn’t consider it unreasonable or sinful to show fear or to take action. The problem came when Saul put his deep needs in the driver’s seat. Saul did have a choice — he could have looked to God to meet his needs. Instead, he chose to meet his needs on his own terms without regard for God.
In what ways do you relate to Saul? In what circumstances are you most likely to make choices that effectively say to God, Look, I have a hard situation here, and since You’re not coming through for me in the way I’ d hoped or as quickly as I’ d hoped, I don’t have any choice but to take matters into my own hands?
How would you describe the ditch you end up in—the familiar place you’d rather not be—when your deep needs or longings are in the driver’s seat of your choices? What is the lesson you can’t seem to learn about this area of your life?
4. In 1 Samuel 13 we learn something about the difference between Saul’s heart and David’s heart. In 1 Samuel 16 we learn about the difference between another pair of hearts — the human heart and God’s heart. In rejecting Eliab, David’s visibly impressive eldest brother, God says to Samuel:
The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. —1 Samuel 16:7
Understanding the meaning of the word heart helps us to grasp the significance of this statement. We tend to think of the heart primarily in connection with emotions, but the ancient Hebrew understanding of heart was both broader and richer. To speak of the heart was to refer to the “entire inner life of a person”1 — everything we might describe as psychological, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional. In its purest state, the heart was the bright and unique essence of who God created a person to be.
It was no secret to God that David would one day make choices that cost him and others dearly, and yet He still chose David and deemed him “a man after my own heart.” How does the ancient Hebrew concept of heart help you understand some- thing about what God saw when He looked at David’s heart? About what He sees when He looks at your heart?
In what ways does this truth that the Lord looks at the heart both challenge you and encourage you?
5. In the video, Sheila described how God has already chosen you — a choice based on His heart of love and longing for you. “No matter how great your longing is for God,” Sheila said, “it will never, ever compare to His longing for you.”
Take a moment to reflect on both your longing for God and on God’s longing for you. How would you describe your awareness of both?
Your longing for God. When are you most aware of your longing for God? Is your longing for God the strongest it has ever been, the weakest, or somewhere between? Why?
God’s longing for you. Author Brennan Manning writes, “Christians find it easier to believe that God exists than that God loves them.”2 To what degree might this be true of you? When are you, or when have you been, most aware of God’s longing for you?
6. In addition to studying together, it’s important to also be aware of how God is at work among you — especially in how you relate to one another and share your lives throughout the study. In each session, you will have many opportunities to speak life-giving — and life-challenging — words and to listen to one another deeply.
Excerpted with permission from The Longing in Me by Sheila Walsh, copyright Sheila Walsh.
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Enjoyed this Session?
We’re so excited for our next online Bible study with Sheila Walsh, The Longing in Me: A Study in the Life of David. This is a brand-new six-session study. Who’s in?
>> Sign up today and get access to six sessions of The Longing in Me study videos from Study Gateway.
We officially get started this week!
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