We expect so much of ourselves. We want to be the best daughters, moms, and friends that we can be. We try to act in ways that are pleasing to God and set standards that are hard to maintain. All too often we fail in our efforts—and end up feeling disappointed, discouraged, and convinced things will never change. In this study, readers will discover that this isn’t God’s plan for our lives. No matter what mistakes, errors, or blunders we have committed in the past, He will redeem us and set us on a new path! The best part is that we don’t have to wait to awaken to this grand new day. As we connect with God, He will reveal His plans for us today!
About the Author
Margaret Feinberg, one of American’s most beloved Bible teachers, speaks at churches and leading conferences including Catalyst, Thrive, and Women of Joy. Her books, including Wonderstruck, Fight Back With Joy, and Scouting the Divine and their corresponding Bible studies, have sold more than one million copies and received critical acclaim and national media coverage from CNN, Associated Press, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and more. She was recently named one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today by Christianity Today. Margaret savors life with Leif, a pastor in Park City, Utah, and their superpup, Hershey.
Read an Excerpt
Awakening to a Grand New Day
By MARGARET FEINBERG
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Margaret Feinberg
All rights reserved.
The Wake-Up Call
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22 — 23
The phone rings early in the morning. You reach over and pick up the receiver. A familiar voice simply says three words: "Were you sleeping?"
Though it's a simple, straight-forward question, all of us have probably struggled to answer from time to time. We may tell the person asking that we were "just resting our eyes" or "nodding off." But we still know that we weren't wide awake when the person called.
Just as a friend can wake us up with an early morning phone call to let us know something important, God invites us to wake up to the reality of Him every day. It's true. Whether you recognize it or not, you received a call from God this morning. The Bible says that God's mercies are new every morning. And that's a piece of news you can't afford to miss.
God invites us to wake up to the reality of His presence in our lives each and every day. He may get our attention through all kinds of unexpected ways. He may speak through a passage of the Bible you're reading. He may answer a prayer you've been waiting on for weeks, months, or years. He may share a much-needed word of encouragement with you through a friend. God is incredibly creative when it comes to awakening our hearts to His love.
So the question is: Did you receive the wake-up call today? Or did you roll over in bed? Were you tempted to push snooze? Or have you had your heart awakened to the amazing love God has for you and the reality that He wants to do so much more in your life than you can possibly dream or imagine?
God is issuing you a wake-up call — even if you're not a morning person. He is worth getting out of bed for and getting to know. He has a grand new day planned for you and it begins today.
1. Do you tend to be a morning person or a night owl? Explain.
2. Are there any areas of your life in which you feel God has been trying to awaken your heart?
3. Are there any areas of your life in which you feel God has been trying to awaken your heart but you have been trying to roll over and go back to bed?
Throughout the Gospels, we read incredible stories of Jesus offering a grand new day to those He encountered. He often performed miracles, and in the process of healing and restoring lives, Jesus offered a wake-up call not only to the people who were healed but also the surrounding communities. This was particularly true when Jesus encountered a paralytic.
4. Read Mark 2:1 — 12. What was the wake-up call that the paralytic received from Jesus in this passage (verse 5 and 11)? How did the paralytic respond? How do you think his life was changed?
5. Other than the paralytic in this passage, who else received a call that God was doing something new? (See verses 3, 6 — 7, and 12.)
The greatest wake-up call in the New Testament, the grandest of all grand new days, is the moment when Jesus arose from the dead. When the news of Jesus' resurrection spread, it sent shockwaves throughout the surrounding community and eventually around the world.
6. Read Matthew 28:1 — 20. How does the Bible describe Mary Magdalene and the other Mary's response to the angel's news of the empty tomb (verse 8)? How does the Bible describe their response to Jesus' appearance (verses 9 — 10)? Now take a few moments to imagine how you would have responded. Describe those feelings in the space below.
7. After rising from the dead, Jesus gives His disciples a very clear commission in verses 19 — 20. Write that commission in the space below:
8. Have you ever had a time when God awakened you to the reality of Him and then called you to do something specific as a response? If so, explain.
It's amazing to think of all that God has done in people's lives. Read Mark 10:46 — 52. Spend some time reflecting on the story of a blind man, Bartimaeus, and his encounter with Jesus. Does anything strike you as particularly compelling from this story? Why do you think it's so important to tell God what we want or need from Him? Why do you think Bartimaeus's response was to follow Jesus?
Ponder & Pray
The opening scripture for this lesson comes from Lamentations 3:22 — 23: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." In what ways have you found this passage to be true in your own life? Why do you think it's important to pursue a relationship with God every morning?
Trinkets to Treasure
At the close of each lesson, you will be presented with a small gift. Though imaginary, it will serve to remind you of the things you have learned. Think of it as a souvenir! Souvenirs are little trinkets we pick up on our journeys to remind us of where we have been. They keep us from forgetting the path we have travelled. Hide these little treasures in your heart, for as you ponder on them, they will draw you closer to God!
This week's gift is an alarm clock, to help you remember to wake up to the incredible opportunity God invites you to every day: the incredible reality of His presence in your life. Did you receive a wake-up call today? Have you awoken to the amazing love God has for you and the fact He wants to do much more in your life than you could imagine? God has a grand new day planned for you — and it all begins today!
Notes & Prayer Requests
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Have you ever listened to a great motivational speaker? They probably made you feel inspired, ready to take greater risks or work even harder. But studies show that all too often these effects are short lived. People may get excited in the moment, but all too often the energy fizzles out if it isn't focused in a particular direction or initiative.
So now that you've received the wake-up call, the invitation to a grand new day, how do you respond? What do you do next? How do you move from just having your heart awakened to actually helping awaken in the hearts of others?
The truth is there is no one-size- fits-all answer! Everyone responds to God's presence in their lives differently. For some, embracing a new beginning may mean reconnecting with family or friends where those relationships have long since faded. For others, it may mean getting plugged into a faith community for the first time ever or the first time in many years. For still others, it may be found in a change of heart about a situation or person. But the key to embracing that new beginning and starting fresh is making a change! Whether that change manifests itself in your attitude or your actions, it's one of the signs that you're moving forward and embracing all that God has for you.
That's the beauty of a grand new day — it's available to every person in unique and fresh ways. We all have one awaiting us. That may mean choosing to do something new or try something different. It may mean making time for something we chose to hurry by before. All of us will embrace our grand new days in different ways, and they're all worth celebrating.
1. How do you respond to change? Do you tend to enjoy it or try to avoid it?
2. Think about a time when you made a major change in your life and embraced a new opportunity. What were the circumstances surrounding that change? What compelled you to make a change?
3. Throughout the Gospels, we read of many women and men who Jesus encountered and offered them a grand new day. He gave them the opportunity to start fresh and live their lives in a whole new way. One of those was the woman who was caught in adultery. Read John 8:1 — 11. What is the most powerful aspect of this story to you?
4. After the crowd left and Jesus was left standing alone with the woman, He told her to do something specific. What were His instructions (verse 11)? Why do you think this instruction is so important when it comes to embracing what God has for you?
5. Do you think it's possible to embrace the grand new day God has for you if you willingly choose to continue sinning? Why or why not?
6. Read John 4:1 — 42. How would you describe the woman in the well? On the lines below, make a list of adjectives describing the woman at the well.
7. What was the woman's response to her initial interaction with Jesus (verses 28 — 30)? What was the Samaritans' response to the woman's story (verses 39 — 41)?
8. The woman at the well experienced a grand new day because of her encounter with Jesus, but she didn't keep the news to herself. She returned to her hometown to tell her friends and family. As a result, many of them encountered a grand new day themselves. Why do you think it's important to share the stories of your encounters with God and the grand new days He gives you with others? Have you ever had an experience like the Samaritan woman where you shared your faith and others came to know Jesus as a result? If so, describe them below.
God wants to do amazing things in and through all of our lives. Read Mark 2:22. Why do you think it's important to be ready and willing to respond to God's nudges in our lives? Why is it important to be willing to make a change in our personal and spiritual lives? What changes do you feel God is calling you to make in your own life?
Ponder & Pray
The opening scripture for this lesson comes from 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" How have you found this passage to be true in your own life? Are there any ways in which you feel like you are holding onto your old life? Is there anything stopping you from embracing the new?
Trinkets to Treasure
This week's gift is something to help you begin your day in a refreshing and sweet way: a glass of orange juice! Let this trinket remind you to embrace the fresh new beginning God has for you this week. The beauty of awakening to a grand new day is that it's available to everyone. You have a new start just waiting for you, and it is worth celebrating.
Notes & Prayer Requests
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again.
Author and teacher Tony Campolo tells a compelling story of a homeless man he met in Philadelphia. The man had not bathed and was covered in soot, but his most distinguishing characteristic was his long beard that was matted with food. While walking by, Campolo heard the man offer him some of his coffee.
Slightly caught off guard, Campolo accepted the offer as a kind gesture, but guessed the man probably had ulterior motives. He asked what compelled the man to share. The homeless man explained that the coffee seemed particularly good that morning and he figured that if God gives you something good that you should share it with others. Figuring the man was going to solicit him for money, Campolo asked him if there was anything he could give him.
Unexpectedly, the man asked for a hug.
The homeless man proceeded to bear hug Campolo. It felt like the man was never going to let go. People began to stare. But suddenly, the awareness of others transformed into an awareness of God and the words of Jesus, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me' (Matthew 25:35 — 36).
For Tony Campolo, loving God on that day in Philadelphia meant giving a homeless man a hug. The experience forever changed his perspective on what it means to truly love. While not as dramatic, all of us have God-designed experiences that change the way we understand and interact with the world around us.
Sometimes the grand new day God gives us isn't visibly spectacular on the outside, yet there is something significant that shifts inside us. We find ourselves thinking differently, responding differently, and living differently. We find that the grand new day has not overwhelmed as much as snuck up on us, but it still changes us forever. Indeed, some of the most amazing things that happen to us can't be seen on the outside, but only on the inside as we shift our perspective to align more with God's own.
1. Have you ever had an experience like the one described with the homeless man — one that changed the way you see others?
2. Have you ever worked with the poor or those in need? What lessons you learn from them about life? Faith? God?
3. When was the last time your perspective changed on an issue or situation? Did the change result in more or less compassion for others? Explain.
4. Read Ezekiel 11:19. Do you think your heart is currently more stone or more flesh? Explain.
5. Why do you think it's so important to have a "heart of flesh"? In what ways did Jesus demonstrate what it looked like to have a "heart of flesh"?
6. On the road to Emmaus, two people had an unexpected encounter with Jesus that changed their lives and their perspectives on faith forever. Read Luke 24:13 — 34. Do you think the two people on the road to Emmaus were in a good place to encounter Jesus in their journeys and conversations? Why or why not?
7. What were the disciples' responses to what Jesus shared to them (verse 32)? Have you ever had the "burning heart" sensation described?
8. Though nothing changed specifically on that day on the road to Emmaus, something significant happened in those two men's hearts. They encountered Jesus and they simply could not be the same. How do you think those two men's lives were different after the encounter with Jesus? How has your own life been different since you encountered Jesus?
One of the greatest shifts in perspective that we can have is knowing who we are as children of God. Read Hebrews 10:20 — 22. How does it make you feel to know that God has made a way for you to draw near to Him? Are you actively pursuing a relationship with God or holding back? Have you embraced all the forgiveness, grace, and mercy God has for you? Why or why not?
Ponder & Pray
The opening scripture for this lesson comes from Acts 9:18: "Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again." The story of Saul who became Paul is a compelling one. Read his conversion story in Acts 9:1 — 31. If God can transform someone like Saul, do you think there's anyone who is beyond his redemption? Explain. Is there anyone on whom you have given up hope who God is calling you pray for or reach out to?
Trinkets to Treasure
The trinket for this week will remind you of the humble gift of the homeless man in Tony Campolo's story: a cup of coffee. Tony's experience in Philadelphia transformed his perspective on what it meant to be able to truly love someone. This week, let this small gift remind you that when you awaken to the grand new day God gives you, it isn't always visibly spectacular on the outside. Yet there is always something significant that will shift inside you — and your perspective could be changed forever as well!
Notes & Prayer Requests
The Beauty of Redemption
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
There once was a boy who took his small handcrafted boat to the local river. He placed the boat in the water and smiled widely as the boat sailed smoothly along. He kept a long string on the boat, so he wouldn't lose his precious creation. Holding the string, he felt the warm sunshine on his face, and enjoyed the sight of his boat floating along in the water.
Without warning, a strong current caught the boat. The young boy tried to hold onto the string, but it broke and the tiny boat was carried downstream. Though the boy tried to keep up with his boat by running along the shore, the current was too fast and it disappeared in the water. The young boy searched everywhere, but finally gave up and returned home.
Several days passed. On his way home from school the young boy decided by chance to look in a store window, and was amazed when he saw a boat just like his. As he got closer he recognized the vessel — it was his boat. The young boy told the store manager that he had made the boat that was in the window and it belonged to him.
The manager explained that someone else had brought it in that morning. If the boy wanted it, then he would have to buy it for one dollar just like any other customer. The boy ran home and gathered all his money. He had one dollar exactly. He returned to the store and purchased his boat. Walking out of the store, he said, "You're twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you."
The story is a wonderful illustration of the idea of redemption. God did not just make us but He purchased us for a price — the death of His own Son, Jesus. Through that one act of extreme sacrifice, we can become His forever and enter into a relationship that lasts for all of eternity. That means that no matter what you've done or what you've left undone, you can be forgiven. You can move into all that God has for you. Redemption is a gift from God you don't want to miss!
Excerpted from Awakening to a Grand New Day by MARGARET FEINBERG. Copyright © 2009 Margaret Feinberg. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Wake-Up Call, 1,
Chapter 2 Awakened, 9,
Chapter 3 Fresh Perspective, 17,
Chapter 4 The Beauty of Redemption, 25,
Chapter 5 The Fuel of Forgiveness, 33,
Chapter 6 Pressing the Gas Pedal, 41,
Chapter 7 Praying for God's Best, 49,
Chapter 8 Coming Alive, 57,
Chapter 9 A Contagious Hope, 65,
Chapter 10 Ongoing Renewal, 73,
Chapter 11 Your Beautiful Story, 81,
Chapter 12 A Grand New Day for Others, 89,
Shall We Review, 95,
Leader's Guide, 98,