Posted in Christian Living, Lesson

Which is More Important? Work or Worship


Without workers nothing gets done. And yet God gets pleasure from our worship of Him, and our spiritual man gets grounded and refreshed during worship.

So which is more important?

This isn’t a new argument. In fact, it’s been around since the beginning of time (remember Cain and Abel?) and people haven’t changed much, regardless of all the fancy gadgetry they carry around these days. Continue reading “Which is More Important? Work or Worship”

Posted in Christian Living, Lesson

Ten-Step Study Plan Condensed


Bible reading takes concentration. Effective study time requires quiet and diligence. And sometimes ten steps are too many for the time and space available.

10_step_system

So today, I’m going to share my own five-step study plan for a twenty to thirty-minute interval. You know, when you look at the clock and think, “The kids will be home in forty minutes which isn’t enough time for a nap.” Picking up your Bible during that time is another refreshing alternative to shut-eye.

Find a Study Guide

I heartily believe in independent, self-guided Bible study. But I also know that it takes more time and concentration than what many of us have in our day or week.

Isn’t a guided study of the Bible better than none at all?

I would say a hearty “YES!”

If you’re looking for something to help you live more purposefully, I recommend Finding Focus through the Lens of God’s Word. I know the author, and she’s given you a clear look inside her reality—with all of its ugly struggles.

I’ve also been impressed with study books written by Juanita Purcell, Elizabeth George and the “Becoming a Woman of” series of studies by Cynthia Heald.

A well-written study book will aid you in connecting with God’s Word. It also shortens the number of steps required because you can (hopefully) trust the author to keep things in context (step four) and define terms (step six).

Five Small Steps

Step 1: Is still Prayer. James 1:5 encourages us to ask for wisdom. And Psalm 119:18 can be prayed word-for-word from your heart.

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law – Psalm 119:18

Step 2: Read the narrative from the study book and the verses it uses to support the lesson.

Step 3: Answer all questions in the guide honestly and openly. If you aren’t sure, skip the question and return to it once you’ve finished. Sometimes the author will give more hints as the lesson continues.

Step 4: Select one or more verses that jumped off the page. Copy them onto a 3×5 index card or into a journal. Spend time meditating on these verses each day (until you do the next lesson).

Step 5: Choose ONE action that you can take in your life right that moment to apply something from the lesson to your own life.

Make an Appointment

Like all important things in life, studying God’s Word needs to be scheduled.

You wouldn’t expect your annual doctor’s appointment to “just happen” without you making a call and setting up a meeting. Nor would those semi-annual dental visits occur without planning and forethought.

Take out your appointment calendar. Tap on the Google Calendar application on your phone.

Set aside a fifteen-minute block of time every day (or at least five days per week) and build upon it. Once you get into the habit of delving into the hidden depths of the Bible, you’ll soon find thirty-minute sessions seem too short.

The important thing about a five-step system is to take the first step. If you don’t start, you’ll never make it to the second step.

What system do you use for studying the Bible? Does it have fewer than five steps you can share?

Posted in Christian Living, Lesson, The Christian Man, The Christian Women

When Deep-Scripture Diving Must Wait


Time to be real. Thorough, in-depth study of the Bible takes time, persistence, dedication and a willing heart. If any of those aren’t present, going deeper could prove fruitless, or even perilous.

It’s never okay to set the Bible aside. The words on those pages are from God. Reading them is how we hear His voice in this age.

If you stop having a conversation with Him, you can guess that your relationship will struggle.

However, reading the Bible for a “Word from God” is different than studying it to make discoveries.

We should always read God’s Word. A scripture passage each day should be a minimum requirement. And sprinkle that with focused prayer time.

Life happens. Often it gets in the way of fruitful study time.

Although this isn’t the best scenario, it’s true in the fallen world we live in. Are their reasons to set aside your deep-scripture exploration?

Circumstances

When my mother was fighting cancer, she couldn’t focus her eyes well enough to read. Even if someone read to her, she had a hard time following what was going on in a story.

Disease, grief, hospitalization—all these are circumstances the life throws at us.

And if we try to keep studying God’s Word searching for deep things and uncovering rich truths, we might end up frustrated.

Everyone knows you don’t exercise when you’re sick. Your body needs the energy to fight off the virus or bacteria.

It’s the same for spiritual things. When our body is weak and our mind focused on temporal things, we won’t be able to “get into” a deep study.

This isn’t meant to justify months without Bible study. And there is never an excuse not to read the Bible.

Even in her sickest times, my mother meditated on verses from God’s Word. They offered her the comfort and encouragement she needed. Believe me, those things can’t be found elsewhere.

So if your circumstances make deep Bible diving unrealistic, make sure you’re still investing time in reading and meditating on scripture.

Motivation

Let’s face it, there are days when we wake up and we don’t want to do life. We’d rather just roll over, close our eyes and return to the oblivion sleep provides.

There will be times when we don’t “feel” like studying the Bible.

As Nike marketers have said: Just do it.

“But I’m not getting anything out of it.”

Really?

I didn’t feel like going for a walk today. But I put on my workout clothes, laced up my walking shoes and headed out. Forty minutes and three miles later, I felt a whole lot better.

Did I burn calories even though I didn’t feel like walking? Yes. Did my muscles get a workout? Of course.

In the end, I had a much better outlook on my day because I went for the walk. In other words, I did what was right because I knew it was the right thing to do.

If you’re lacking motivation for Bible study, a self-guided study might fall short.

You’ve got the steps. Going through the motions to check them off isn’t the same as investing your heart and mind.

But do it anyway.

Just do it.

God blesses obedience. It might seem like a wasted effort. Maybe you won’t recall a single verse after you close your Bible.

But God’s Word is powerful. It accomplishes what He intends it to.

Without a Guide

For a new Christian, it can be dangerous to study the Bible without a guide of some sort.

Would you think of crossing the Mojave Desert without a road, a map, a compass or supplies? Of course not! Only an idiot would.

And Satan hopes you’ll forget that exploring God’s Word is even more fraught with danger. He wants you to go it alone so he can whisper in your ear and distract you from finding the real chest of treasure.

Many people have gotten off-track by setting out to “discover” what the Bible has buried deep in its pages.

Why do you think there are so many different Christian denominations? It’s not because they all have the truth. It’s because they all have men who decided the Bible really taught something different than what Jesus left with His Church.

Not having a guide can be akin to opening Pandora’s Box.

So before you set out, make sure you’ve invited the Holy Spirit to be your guide. If you’re not sure what to study, ask someone who is more spiritually mature to suggest a book or meet with you to study.

Don’t get caught in deep water with failing batteries on your light and oxygen tanks with a gage on empty.

There’s no excuse for not studying the Bible. God wants you to dive in because He wants to show you “great and wonderful things.” But don’t get in over your head if you’re not prepared.

Posted in Christian Living, Lesson, The Christian Women

Diving Deeper into God’s Word


Put on your wet suit and dive into the Book of Books. The only way to become like Jesus, the model for our lives, is to learn about him.

In the Bible, you’ll discover His character, actions, attitudes and expectations. More importantly, you’ll find Him and the assurance that He will never leave you to struggle on your own (Hebrews 13:5).

Why?

No one in their right mind would ever ask “Why should I bother studying the Bible?” But if we’re honest, all of us have thought it once or twice.

Because the Bible seems daunting. The laws are impossible to follow. Standards outlined for us are as insurmountable as Mt. Everest.

So, it’s better to not even bother trying to investigate all the secrets in the Holy Bible. Then we can plead ignorance and continue on in our blissful life of non-achievement.

There are many reasons to study the Bible.

  1. They show us the truth that is Christ. (John 5:39)
  2. True love can be found there (Romans 8:38-39)
  3. Astounding promises from God are revealed there (Ephesians 3:20)
  4. It’s the wise course of action (Proverbs 1:5-7)
  5. They show us how to defeat evil (Romans 12:21)

How?

As I mentioned, some people use the excuse that the Bible is too hard to read and understand. So answering the question of “How do I study the Bible?” becomes essential.

During the Women’s Conference in October 2016, one of the speakers taught lessons on this subject. Thanks to Sister Kelli Simonds, you can have a ten-step method to the daunting task of studying God’s Word.

10_step_system

*Note: Her method is nine steps. My lovely daughter came up with the tenth step.

More on my own personal method of study coming in two weeks.

What’s Important?

Thanks for showing me why and how, you might be thinking, but where do I start?

The old adage to start at the beginning might not help you here. Although, Genesis is a decent starting point if you’re unfamiliar with the founding father, Abraham.

But if you’re thinking, “Dry history is not my thing,” then you can start in the New Testament. I recommend the Gospel of John.

Here you’ll meet Jesus at the beginning of his ministry on Earth. You’ll follow him through the calling of his disciples. You’ll experience many of his miraculous acts and life-changing teaching.

Jesus is the foundation of our faith, so starting with Him is like starting at the beginning.

You might also be facing a specific challenge, trial or temptation in your life. If so, starting with what God has to say about that issue might be beneficial, but depending on what it is, it could be difficult to locate specific passages without guidance from someone with more Bible knowledge.

The important thing about diving deep into God’s Word, is to seek a qualified guide. This means praying and inviting the Holy Spirit to reveal things to you.

Often the voice of pastors or teachers can drown out the still, persistent nudging from God’s Spirit. Don’t let it be so. Only God can reveal His Truth to you, and the Spirit is the One commissioned to do it (John 16:13).

So suit up with the Spirit and open the air tanks He provides, then dive deep into the searchable riches of God’s Word. Treasure awaits.

Posted in Christian Living, Lesson

The Ocean of God’s Word


God’s word is an ocean of truth and knowledge. And like the beauty of the ocean that covers 70 percent of this planet, most of those truths aren’t visible without a search.

In fact, our exploration of God’s Word can happen at the same three levels as the examination of the ocean.

But if we want to experience the depths of God’s love and the magnitude of His promises, we’re going to have to dive a little deeper.

Surface

The ocean’s tides can be seen from the shore. It’s crashing magnificence gives onlookers pause.

The same is true for the Bible. On the surface, it’s a pretty amazing book.

bible-promises-small

Or should we say 66 books. Written by over 40 different men over a span of fifteen centuries. And yet it tells a single story: God’s redemption of humankind.

That’s awe-inspiring. But that truth is shallow compared to what we can discover if we dive a little deeper.

Snorkeler

Only five percent of the earth’s oceans have been explored and mapped. FIVE PERCENT!

That’s an incredible amount of square footage. What sort of animals are yet to be discovered? Plants? Rock formations?

And a snorkeler won’t see most of these things.

For one thing, they won’t go deeper than a foot in the water. Their sight is limited in the depths that sunlight can’t penetrate. But there are colorful fish and exotic corals that can be seen if you put your face in the water and keep your eyes open.

sea_quote_14

This is the same sort of enjoyment you get from the Bible when you interact with it in a class. Or as you listen to the sermons delivered week after week by your pastor.

Truth is revealed. Small flashes of color in the darkness of a world that tries to snuff out the Son’s light.

Diver

In order to fully know what’s at the heart of the ocean, you probably need a submarine.

A diver is the only person who can experience the chill and pressure all that water exerts on those animals and plants that live so far from the life-giving sun.

explore

To know God fully, we must dive into His Word, the revelation of his plan and character that He has preserved for our generation.

For the rest of this month, this blog will focus on how to dive deeper into the Bible. How do we discover what’s important and what’s just a flashy sea creature?

Won’t you join us in diving deeper?