Bible Study 101

You know, it’s a bad habit of mine to not return to a topic that I said we’d get back to next time I post. Totally unintentional, but let’s be honest- my recent news about our twins was worth the interruption!! 

I have every intention of getting back to sharing basic Bible Study helps because I really want to see a generation of women who are spiritually thriving in a world that helps us to be anything but. Without God’s Word, we really can’t have the abundant life He promises. 

We live in an amazing time. Information is at our disposal with a touch of a screen. Hey, we don’t even need to touch, we can just speak. (“Siri, how do I get my sanity back?”)

This information bounty is both a blessing and a curse for people serious about studying God’s Word. A blessing, because there is no lack of tools and study helps out there. We can get a strong grasp of passages because of the boundless resources at our disposal.

On the other hand, there are loads of books, websites and commentaries that are filled with error. Even worse, sometimes it has some great writing and even a good premise, but error is still the foundation of the writing. It can be hard to find trustworthy information. 


What’s a Christian to do? I think of the Bereans, who after hearing Paul preach went back to the Scriptures to make sure that the things he was saying were truth. (Acts 17:10-12) We must always come back to the Bible to verify what outside helps we read, or even what we hear preached. Not in skepticism, necessarily, but in an attitude of confirmation.

We must also pray. The Holy Spirit living in us will guide us into all truth. (John 16:13) That truth will never go against His Word. He gives us discernment to know what to “take in” and what to reject. 

So as I share some places with you in this post, keep these things in mind. We are to be Bereans. We are to let the Holy Spirit guide our discernment. We are to use Scripture as the foundation and truth indicator. 

Now to the nitty gritty.

A good, solid study Bible is always a great place to start. I call mine my cheat book, because I often find language meanings and historical context written in the notes, which is always helpful. Not to mention, cross referencing, indexes, maps, etc. get a lot of use. I have a Ryrie Study Bible, which I think is great in its information balance. My husband has a MacArthur Study Bible. I use his if I want information overload, because the notes are much more extensive.

Then there are online Bibles. YouVersion is a super app. You can choose translation. You can follow one of their many reading plans (use discernment) and it will help you stay on track. You can even add friends to heighten your accountability factor. It features highlighting, sharing functions, and note taking. My daughter loves the image maker- you can take a verse and create your own subway art in the app itself.

 
Whew! Are you getting overwhelmed? I hope not. As I mentioned, there is a LOT of stuff out there. I won’t be much longer, I promise. 

In the advent of social media and online boom, a plethora of Bible study groups have popped up. If you are looking for accountability and discussion when you have time, these are a good place to meet. You can even start your own group with friends.

I have been using the She Reads Truth app. They have plenty of plans- some are free and some you purchase. What I like about their app is the Bible reading is built in everyday, and it isn’t just a few brief verses. I can choose translation and the devotional that goes with the reading is usually meaty- not feelings based but Bible based.  On the weekends, they give a grace day to catch up on what you might have missed and a verse to memorize each week. 

This is just the tippy top of a ginormous iceberg. The blogs, books, readers, and podcasts… my breathing is getting short just thinking about it all! Let’s not get overwhelmed though. Simply opening your Bible and reading is never a bad place to start. 

In Everything…

God does not always allow us to walk in a rose garden. Sometimes, we must walk on a dark, rocky path. Sometimes, the light He shines gets very dim. Sometimes, He doesn’t seem as near as He has been. And frankly, it stinks. I am tempted at those times to fall into a pity party, and just shut myself up in my room for however long it takes for the storm to pass. Okay, I do shut myself up. It isn’t right.

I was reading a blog this morning, and she talks entirely about living a life of Thanksgiving to God. Every day. And today, she was talking about thanking God for the hard gifts. The ones we really are not thankful for. That takes work, doesn’t it? To say, “Lord, thank You for the conflict going on right now. I know that You are going to use this for Your glory.” That is difficult. Yet, it is what we are to do.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~I Thessalonians 5:18

The verse doesn’t just say, “In the good things give thanks…” It says in EVERYTHING give thanks. That must include things that we don’t see as good. Job knew this when he said:

Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? ~Job 2:8


That word evil means “disaster” in this context. We like to think that God brings good into our lives, but there are indeed times when He allows disaster in as well. Why? For His purposes. 


Have you ever been doing something for a child, and with each step they ask “Why are you doing that?” I have. And I cannot always answer them, because the step is part of a process that they don’t understand. I am a person who likes to know why things are happening the way they are. God is often trying to tell me, “I can’t tell you all the ins and outs of what I am doing, but just trust Me. Trust that I am doing what is right for you.” 


So sometimes, God brings disaster into our lives. Do we thank Him for it? 

We Christians like to quote Romans 8:28 all the live-long day, but I don’t think that most of us let it fully sink in. 


And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.


That does not mean that all good things are going to work together for good. It doesn’t mean the end result will meet our human definition of good. Remember, God’s good is far better than any good we can come up with. We often call things bad that God calls good.

Our tire goes flat – bad. Our hair goes flat – bad. Our hair goes – bad. People go – bad. That’s how we see it.

God sees it differently. He sees all things completely and fully. He sees that flat tire, or flat hair, or loved one gone, and He says, “Good.” He can, because He knows it is part of His process.

Are we willing to trust His ways completely, so that we can thank Him for all things?

Another thing: this isn’t just a rote idea of “I gotta do it”, but rather “I want to do it.” As we give thanks for all things, God will use it to cultivate thankfulness in us. We may not mean it fully at first, and we should be honest before Him about that. But as we give that thanks to God for all things, He works with what little sincerity there is. He knows that we want to be thankful, even if we are not. He will work in our hearts to the end that we will eventually mean it with utmost sincerity when we thank Him for the hard things in life. You have to start somewhere.

And so do I.

*Rocky Path picture used with permission from traveladventures.org. All rights reserved.

Thoughts and Resources for the New Year

I must admit, when I go to my in-laws church, I have a hard time focusing on the sermon. You see, they have a bookstore, and when I am there my mind is reeling over what I want to purchase for my personal library. I have never been disappointed by the selections that are made there, as many of them are hand-picked by their pastor. Although, I am not sure he reads all the womens material. Probably not.

Anywho!

I found this book called Becoming God’s True Woman, edited by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I love her radio show and love what she is doing to try to reverse the feminist movement that has overtaken not only our society, but our churches too. It’s a burden of mine for women to return to the desire that God has given them, to the role God has ordained for women. I still struggle with things that I have been taught throughout my life concerning femininity.

This book is kind of the starting point of Nancy’s campaign for Biblical femininity. These authors are very easy to read, and there is a study guide in the back for further reflection and meditation. Several things have really stuck out to me so far, and I thought that  I would share them with you.

First thing is this: Women should love their homes. Not necessarily a house, but their homes. This has sooo many implications that I am still trying to work out in my little noggin, but it includes things like taking care of the home, creating the right environment at home, and enjoying being at home. Being a homemaker is not an easy job, and the more I have thought on this, the more I realize this: women who are working outside the home have a hard job, but most of them (I said most – not all) do not focus on making a home in their house. This truth also made me think about what I have done or not done to make my home. Like I said, I am still trying to wrap my mind around all of it.

In another section, Mary Kassian discusses how it is important that we view God as our Father, and how that will motivate us in our daily lives. She says, “The Father appreciates your obedience. He appreciates your disciplines of prayer and fasting and being in the Word. He appreciates your service. But more than all these things and at the center of the gospel is this: the Father wants your heart. He does not want rote obedience, conformity, service, sacrifice, and ceaseless ministry from you. If He does not have your heart, these things mean nothing to Him. Living in a love relationship with God is the key to enjoying and delighting in Him and experiencing His delight with you. If you truly understand this and take it to heart, it will revolutionize your life and will allow you to begin to experience the joy and victory that Christ has already won for you.”

She goes on to explain that when we view our relationship with God in this way, the things we do for Christ will be done with the right motive and with the right perspective. We will repent, because we have hurt our loving Father. We will evangelize, because we want people to know our Father. We will do Bible study, prayer and meditation because we have a longing to know our Father better. Our Christian service will be lead by our Father’s plan for us, and not the “pressure to perform.” We deal with trials and suffering because we know that our Father is taking care of it all and has our best interests at heart. It is truly amazing how our relationship with God changes when we view Him as the loving Heavenly Father that He is, and not a distant dictator that needs appeasement.

I have also found this excellent blog called Women Living Well. It is a real encouragement for women who are committed to being all they can be for Christ in their homes. Courtney has been featured on the Rachael Ray show as a “1950’s wife”. She also is an on-line Bible Study leader, and that site is called Good Morning Girls. It’s hard to explain, but it is a really neat concept. I am planning on following along with their James study, but not “registering”. If  you are interested in a serious relationship with Christ, and encouragement from meat and not just milk, both these sites are for you.

As we enter into the new year, my prayer for myself, those around me, and anyone reading this blog is this – that we would daily search our hearts and let the Lord change us into His image. I have been and continue to pray for real, lasting revival in the lives of God’s people. That we would move beyond our comfort zones and live our faith in tangible, radical ways; motivated not by any selfish desires, but by the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.
~ Ephesians 5:1-2

Keep On Keepin’ On

So, I am sorry I missed our appointment. It crept up quickly! But I am still here, and will remain.

But enough about me. On to bigger and better things!

On today’s docket: Resources
I love finding superb resources on the internet. Especially good Christian resources. So here are some that I hope will be a blessing to you in one way, shape, or form.

1. June Kimmel.com – June is a ladies’ speaker and author and Pastor’s wife at my home church in Plymouth. She is a sweet lady and a wonderful challenge to be around. Anyways, her site has some short devotionals and good Bible study tips as well. Her desire is to see women digging in to God’s Word daily, and this desire is evident in everything she does.

2.Church Works Media – For anyone looking to find music that is doctrinally rich in text and a joy to sing, you need to visit this site. Their music is free for congregational use, but if you want something with more to it, they do have arrangements for sale as well. Also, ladies, they have a wonderful devotional book called Gospel Meditations for Women that I highly recommend.

3. Sacred Sandwich – Have you ever heard the expression “If I don’t laugh, I’m gonna cry”? That’s how I would describe this site. It is Christian satire that is very funny, but at the same time too true. There is serious stuff on the site too, but it is mostly comical. I go to this site anytime I need a good clean laugh. I will be using one of their pictures in an upcoming post.

I think that is it for now.

Novel Things

I am always on the lookout for something novel. Last night, a friend and I were discussing how we are not plain jane types. We like color. We like originality. Sometimes, it is hard to find. Othertimes, it isn’t. I must admit, though, that there are things that are outside my realm of novel. Somethings are too wacky, even for me. And that’s okay to have different tastes and such – just as long as it is not offensive to God and His Word.

All that to say in the midst of the winter blahs, I have been on the lookout for novel things. And let me tell you, I have found some that I just LOVE and want to share with you.

1. Goat Milk Soap
My Mere and Ethan have eczema, and despite all the things I have tried to heal their skin up, nothing has worked. I saw an ad from another blogger for goat milk soap. So I looked it up. I liked what I saw so I bought some. AND IT WORKS. My kiddos skin looked better almost instantly. Ethan had a break out a few days ago, and I gave him a bath with their Purity soap. He’s doing much better. I bought extra bars for myself and Stephen, and they are great for dry itchy winter skin. Check them out at www.goatmilkstuff.com.

2. Etsy
This is such a hard site to describe, but it is basically an online crafters bazaar. You can buy almost anything on here, and it even has options for shopping local. Each crafter or artist has their own “store” that you can shop from. My favorites so far? Definitely briar.claire for hair accessories for my babes (they are on sale right now, by the way). Their furniture is great and sells at a reasonable price. The fabric I find on there is stuff you won’t find at JoAnn’s. But BEWARE – You will spend countless hours browsing once you get started! www.etsy.com

3. PBS online
Okay, so this isn’t novel, really. But it is about novels! Go to pbs.org and they have shows you can watch online. Nothing new, I know. BUT right now Masterpiece Theater Classic is running several excellent miniseries, like “Return to Cranford” and “Emma”. As a matter of fact, they will be running quite a bit of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens in the coming weeks. So if you like classic literature put to film, which I do, check out pbs.org. You pay for it anyways!

Have fun!

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