Bible Study

Nine Helps for Starting and Sticking to Daily Bible Study

We’ll be getting started on our new Bible study next week.
In the meantime, I thought this might be helpful.

Originally published March 31, 2015

9 helps daily bible study

It seems to be a common dilemma among new Christians, Christians who have never developed the habit of daily Bible study, and even those whose current Bible study methods or materials just don’t seem to be “working.” You know you need to be studying God’s word efficiently and effectively every day, but you aren’t quite sure how to get the ball rolling.

Let me just say right off the bat that getting over that ginormous hurdle between knowing you ought to study your Bible today and actually doing it is normal. Every Christian goes through that at least occasionally. So don’t worry that your flesh balking initially when it’s time to open your Bible means you aren’t saved or you don’t have enough faith, or whatever. But don’t let it stop you either. There are some things you can do to get off to a good start with setting up and sticking to a daily Bible study time. What can you do to set yourself up for success?

Prioritize It

Take a little time to get alone with the Lord, and be honest with Him and yourself. Is daily Bible study actually important to you – something you want to do? Why or why not? Do you feel like you should be studying, but you don’t really have a desire to? Ask God to help you understand your motivations and submit them to Him. Ask him to give you a passion for His word. Ask Him to help you to be obedient to Him in making His word a priority in your life.

Pair It

Pair your study time with something you already do faithfully, and at roughly the same time, every day. Study while you’re eating lunch, during the baby’s nap time, right after you exercise, as soon as you get up in the morning, etc. Piggybacking onto something that’s already built in to your schedule helps you stay faithful and keeps you from forgetting.

Plan for It

Do your best to block off your schedule for your Bible study time and guard that time from interruptions. Turn your phone off and get away from social media. Don’t schedule other appointments or activities that might run long and impinge on your study time. Take care of any possible contingencies that could come up before you get started.

Be Purposeful About It

The Bible should be studied in an orderly way so you can understand and apply it properly. I usually recommend simply picking up the Bible and studying it rather than using Bible study books and workbooks, and having a systematic plan of study is essential, not only to proper understanding and application of God’s word, but also to keep you from wasting time trying to figure out what to study each day. Choose a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and work your way through it, or choose a plan for working your way through the New Testament, Old Testament, or whole Bible.

Pare It

Bible reading plans are great, but some of them can simply require so much daily reading that you don’t have time to slow down, take it all in, and linger over what you need to linger over. You don’t have to read the whole Bible in a year, but if a plan interests you, you could tweak the timing of it or pare it down in some way so you’re not biting off more than you can chew. Go for quality rather than an overwhelming quantity. Many beginners find that a chapter a day (unless it’s Psalm 119!) is just about right.

Partner with Someone

Check in regularly with a friend or your husband and discuss what each of you is learning from God’s word and how He’s using what you’re studying to make you more like Christ. It’s great fellowship and will help keep you both accountable to staying in the Word.

Positively Reinforce It

It’s true that studying God’s word is its own reward, but sometimes disciplining yourself to stick to a schedule needs a little extra boost of incentive, especially when you’re just starting out. How about making a deal with yourself that you can get on social media, watch TV, have dessert, etc., only after you’ve had your Bible study time? Or that if you don’t miss any days of studying your Bible for a whole week, you’ll reward yourself with an ice cream cone, a bubble bath or some other small treat?

Pursue It

Realize from the get go that there are going to be some days when you’re going to forget to study your Bible, or oversleep, or have an emergency, or just plain old give into temptation to skip it. Take a breath. It’s OK. If there was sin involved, repent and ask God’s forgiveness. If there’s still time left in the day, and you’re able, go ahead and pull your Bible out, even if it’s not your regularly scheduled time. If not, just get back up on that horse tomorrow. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Prize It

Above all, whether it’s a day when you’ve had a fantastic time in God’s word or a day when you’ve messed up royally, keep your eyes on the prize and see the long term value in spending time in the Scriptures each day. God is using His word to grow you in holiness and make you more Christlike.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Sanctification, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Abiding in the Vine

Originally published July 30, 2015

abiding-in-the-vine

Ah, the good old summertime! Which, sadly, is rapidly drawing to a close. Summertime brings with it a lot of simple pleasures- a more relaxed schedule, vacations, family reunions, pool parties, and barbecues. But one of the simplest pleasures my husband and I enjoy during the summer is stopping at produce stands to stock up on locally grown fruits and veggies.

In our area, farmers often just fill up the beds of their pick up trucks with watermelons, okra, tomatoes, peaches, or whatever they grow, park on the side of a well-traveled road and sell their wares. As small business owners ourselves, my husband and I like to support other small business owners, plus there’s just something about eating produce that was freshly picked down the road this morning rather than shipped in from across the country a week ago.

Recently, my husband was on his way home from work and ran across a farmer selling cantaloupes. The farmer made him a good deal, so he brought home three of them. Now, my husband loves cantaloupe, but, unfortunately, he forgot that he’s the only one in the family who does. And these were big cantaloupes.

I cut up the first one for him and he finished it in a few days. By the next week he had finished the second one. But by the time I went to cut up the third one for him, there was a soft, mushy spot about the size of a dollar bill along one side.

Nothing untoward had happened to this cantaloupe. It hadn’t been dropped, knocked around, or exposed to extremes of temperature or moisture. The only thing wrong with this cantaloupe was that it had been cut from the vine it was growing on quite some time ago. And the moment it was severed, it started dying.

As I carefully cut away the spoiled area to salvage the rest of the fruit, I was reminded of what Jesus said in John 15:4-6:

purple-grapes-553462_1280

In the first half of John 15, Jesus talks a lot about vines and branches and fruit. The main application of this passage is that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The living, fruit-bearing branches are those who have truly been born again. The dried up branches who don’t bear fruit are people who appear to be or claim to be Christians, but aren’t actually saved. But there’s a second layer to this story for those who are genuinely regenerate Christians: obedience. Walking with the Lord day by day and producing healthy fruit.

I looked over at the little stump of cantaloupe branch I had cut off and thrown away. Because it hadn’t been abiding in the main vine, it had dried up. It was no longer bearing new fruit nor was it carrying nutrients from the vine to its already existing fruit, namely, the cantaloupe sitting on my counter, turning to mush.

The same thing happens to Christians when we disobey God by neglecting our relationship with Him. When we go days without picking up our Bibles or praying or gathering for worship with other Believers, we begin to dry out and shrivel up, spiritually. There’s no biblical nutrition flowing from Christ through us, so we’re not bearing any new fruit, and any already existing fruit we’ve produced starts showing signs of rot.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us:

pineapples-1606852_1280_kindlephoto-18964258

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve skipped my Bible study and prayer time for even a few days, I can tell that I’m not bearing any new spiritual fruit and that I’m less patient, less loving, less self-controlled- more rotten in all of these areas than I normally am. I can tell if my husband is neglecting his time with the Lord, and when my children aren’t having their daily quiet times. I’m surrounded by slowly rotting fruit.

As daughters of Christ, it is imperative that we receive the nourishment He has provided for us in His word, in prayer, through the church, and through obedience to Him so that we can bear good, strong, growing fruit. Because the longer we walk through life at a distance from Christ, the rottener we’ll become. Just ask a cantaloupe.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.

Bible Study, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Nine Helps for Starting and Sticking to Daily Bible Study

Originally published March 31, 2015

9 helps daily bible study

It seems to be a common dilemma among new Christians, Christians who have never developed the habit of daily Bible study, and even those whose current Bible study methods or materials just don’t seem to be “working.” You know you need to be studying God’s word efficiently and effectively every day, but you aren’t quite sure how to get the ball rolling.

Let me just say right off the bat that getting over that ginormous hurdle between knowing you ought to study your Bible today and actually doing it is normal. Every Christian goes through that at least occasionally. So don’t worry that your flesh balking initially when it’s time to open your Bible means you aren’t saved or you don’t have enough faith, or whatever. But don’t let it stop you either. There are some things you can do to get off to a good start with setting up and sticking to a daily Bible study time. What can you do to set yourself up for success?

Prioritize It

Take a little time to get alone with the Lord, and be honest with Him and yourself. Is daily Bible study actually important to you – something you want to do? Why or why not? Do you feel like you should be studying, but you don’t really have a desire to? Ask God to help you understand your motivations and submit them to Him. Ask him to give you a passion for His word. Ask Him to help you to be obedient to Him in making His word a priority in your life.

Pair It

Pair your study time with something you already do faithfully, and at roughly the same time, every day. Study while you’re eating lunch, during the baby’s nap time, right after you exercise, as soon as you get up in the morning, etc. Piggybacking onto something that’s already built in to your schedule helps you stay faithful and keeps you from forgetting.

Plan for It

Do your best to block off your schedule for your Bible study time and guard that time from interruptions. Turn your phone off and get away from social media. Don’t schedule other appointments or activities that might run long and impinge on your study time. Take care of any possible contingencies that could come up before you get started.

Be Purposeful About It

The Bible should be studied in an orderly way so you can understand and apply it properly. I usually recommend simply picking up the Bible and studying it rather than using Bible study books and workbooks, and having a systematic plan of study is essential, not only to proper understanding and application of God’s word, but also to keep you from wasting time trying to figure out what to study each day. Choose a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and work your way through it, or choose a plan for working your way through the New Testament, Old Testament, or whole Bible.

Pare It

Bible reading plans are great, but some of them can simply require so much daily reading that you don’t have time to slow down, take it all in, and linger over what you need to linger over. You don’t have to read the whole Bible in a year, but if a plan interests you, you could tweak the timing of it or pare it down in some way so you’re not biting off more than you can chew. Go for quality rather than an overwhelming quantity. Many beginners find that a chapter a day (unless it’s Psalm 119!) is just about right.

Partner with Someone

Check in regularly with a friend or your husband and discuss what each of you is learning from God’s word and how He’s using what you’re studying to make you more like Christ. It’s great fellowship and will help keep you both accountable to staying in the Word.

Positively Reinforce It

It’s true that studying God’s word is its own reward, but sometimes disciplining yourself to stick to a schedule needs a little extra boost of incentive, especially when you’re just starting out. How about making a deal with yourself that you can get on social media, watch TV, have dessert, etc., only after you’ve had your Bible study time? Or that if you don’t miss any days of studying your Bible for a whole week, you’ll reward yourself with an ice cream cone, a bubble bath or some other small treat?

Pursue It

Realize from the get go that there are going to be some days when you’re going to forget to study your Bible, or oversleep, or have an emergency, or just plain old give into temptation to skip it. Take a breath. It’s OK. If there was sin involved, repent and ask God’s forgiveness. If there’s still time left in the day, and you’re able, go ahead and pull your Bible out, even if it’s not your regularly scheduled time. If not, just get back up on that horse tomorrow. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Prize It

Above all, whether it’s a day when you’ve had a fantastic time in God’s word or a day when you’ve messed up royally, keep your eyes on the prize and see the long term value in spending time in the Scriptures each day. God is using His word to grow you in holiness and make you more Christlike.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Prayer, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ After This Manner Therefore Pray

Originally published March 29, 2015manner-pray-e1432429425730

Prayer. It seems so simple- just talk to God. But when it’s time to actually do it, there can be a million questions. What should I pray about? How long should I pray? Do I have to say “Thee” and “Thou”? Eyes opened or closed? Do I have to be on my knees? Should I speak aloud or pray silently?

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The disciples lived with Jesus. Heard Him pray. Watched Him pray. And they still had to ask Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus graciously answered their request with what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Model Prayer.” There’s one version of it in Luke where Jesus teaches the disciples personally, and another, expanded version in Matthew 6:9-13 in the Sermon on the Mount, the version we’ll be looking at today.

Even after all these years, and after hundreds of books and sermons on prayer, Jesus’ simple teaching is still the best way to make sure we’re “doing prayer right.” When we submit the way we pray to His instruction, we can be sure we’re praying the way He wants us to pray. So how can we follow the Lord’s Prayer in our own prayer lives? Let’s take a look.

Pray then like this:

This may not seem like a very important phrase – after all, it’s not even in the body of the Lord’s Prayer – but it’s actually vital to our understanding of modeling our prayers after the Lord’s Prayer. Notice Jesus didn’t say, “repeat after Me” or “recite these exact words.” He said “pray like this.” The NASB renders this phrase as, “Pray, then, in this way.” KJV says, “After this manner therefore pray.” And the NIV has, “This, then, is how you should pray.”

The point? Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer as an outline for prayer or as a sample prayer, not a specific set of words to recite every time you pray. While it’s fine to sincerely pray – and mean – the exact words of the Lord’s Prayer, we must guard against the “vain repetition” of “empty phrases” Jesus had warned the disciples about just two verses earlier. Mindlessly rattling off the words of the Lord’s Prayer out of habit or so you can check prayer off your daily “to do” list is not prayer. Instead, try using each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer as a guide to how you should approach Him in prayer.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Take some time to worship God and praise Him just for being Him. Contemplate how high and holy He is and how lowly you are in comparison. Think about, and thank Him for some of His attributes that we find in Scripture- His goodness, justice, compassion, omnipotence, wrath, mercy, and grace. You might even want to sing a hymn or song – like “Holy, Holy, Holy” or “God Is So Good” –  that focuses on God’s holiness or other attributes.

Your kingdom come,

Do you long for Christ to return? It’s OK to tell Him that and to take some time to focus on the joy that will be ours in eternity. Christ is coming back (hopefully today!) to gather His people, weary of this sin sick world, to Himself. But remember, He will ONLY be taking people who know Him as Savior and Lord. Is there someone you need to share the gospel with? Someone you desperately desire to see saved? This is a great time to pray for that person and ask God to give you the opportunity, and the right words, to share with her.

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

In Heaven, God is always glorified, always praised, and always obeyed. Wouldn’t it be great if that were the case on earth? Well, it’s not, because of sin. Is there an area of obedience you’re struggling with? Ask God to help you with it. Pray that God will help your children to be obedient to you and your husband. Pray that God will strengthen your husband’s obedience to Him in his areas of weakness. Pray that your loved ones, boss, and elected officials will make the decisions God wants them to make. Ask God to guide your pastor, elders, and church members, and pray that they will be obedient to His word and His leading.

Give us this day our daily bread,

Here, we recognize and thank God that He is our provider. Even the smallest things in life, like a simple loaf of bread, only come to us because God provides them. He wants us to put our trust in Him, not a paycheck, for our needs. A great passage to go along with this verse is Philippians 4:6-7:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God doesn’t want us to worry about the things we need. He wants us to trust Him. When we take our needs to Him in prayer, we are declaring our trust in Him to take care of us – in His way and in His time – and that is where our peace comes from.

Notice, too, the words “this day” and “daily” in this verse. They show us that prayer is an all day, every day affair. God wants us to keep coming back to Him in prayer again and again. It helps us recognize our dependence on Him.

These words also help us to focus our prayers on what we need today. It’s OK to pray about future events, but sometimes focusing on future “what ifs” can tempt us to worry, and, as Jesus says later in Matthew 6, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (34)

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Repentance time. Did you notice that this verse (12) is the culmination of a sentence that began in the previous verse (11)?  “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us…” Repentance for our sin and asking God to forgive us is also also an all day, every day affair. But, praise God, so is His mercy to forgive! Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Take this time to confess your sin and ask God to cleanse you and forgive you. And be sure to ask Him to show you any bitterness you may be harboring in your heart against someone. Forgive that person and ask God to help you make things right with her. Consider the magnitude of your sin against God. If God has forgiven you of your sin against Him, who are you to hold a grudge against someone who has sinned against you?

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Sin. It’s always lurking around just waiting to ensnare us again, isn’t it? Think about the sins you struggle with. Ask God to show if there are any changes you can make in your life to stay away from temptation to those sins. Pray that He will strengthen you to be obedient to Him when you can’t avoid tempting circumstances, and ask Him to show you the godly way out of every situation, which He has promised to provide. Pray for God’s protection from evil people or circumstances and ask Him to protect your family and  church.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The KJV includes this phrase at the end of the Lord’s prayer, but it isn’t in the earliest and most reliable biblical manuscripts (from which modern versions such as the ESV are translated). But since its meaning and intent is thoroughly supported by other Scriptures, there’s certainly no harm in including it as part of the model for your prayer time.

Acknowledge and thank God for His sovereignty over all things, His power, His glory, and His eteranlity. Ask Him to help you live in such a way that others will see these attributes of His. Submit yourself to Christ and pray that God will help you to follow Him humbly and honorably.

 

Eyes open or closed? On our knees or not? Jesus didn’t address those kinds of things, so we have a certain amount of liberty in those secondary issues. Jesus’ desire is that we stay in constant communion with Him in prayer, humbly honoring Him, praising Him, thanking Him, repenting of sin, and depending on Him for our every need. So, let’s pray then, like this.


This article was originally published at SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Bible Study, Blog Swap

Blog Swap ~ When Learning Styles Affect Relationships with God

blog swap

It’s time for another awesome blog swap! Blog swaps give me the opportunity to share other talented bloggers with you, plus offer you fresh content that’s a great supplement to our regular fare here. If you’d like to do a swap, click on the link above for more information.

Today, I’m excited to be swapping with a new blogger, Candice, of Momma’s Wonderings. Momma’s Wonderings has all kinds of great information for mommies of little ones, from cloth diapers to home schooling to fun learning activities. One thing that sets Momma’s Wonderings apart from typical “mommy blogs” is that Candice not only blogs as the mom of a child with physical challenges, but as someone who has a learning disability herself.

With the new year right around the corner, I know many of us will be making resolutions to read the Bible more often or study it more effectively. Candice has found a method that helps her work around her learning disability to study God’s word in an organized yet meaningful way. Whether you have a learning disability or not, this is a method that might be a fit for you.

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Once upon a time not to long ago there was a young girl who thought the reason why she did not fit in with a crowd was because she was not christian enough. She could not memorize a memory verse if her life depended on it…Prayer was something she just did not get…Oh and don’t even mention Bible reading.

Do you relate to this girl/women? Do you struggle with personal time with God?

Head on over to Momma’s Wonderings and check out Candice’s article When Learning Styles Affect Relationships With Godand don’t forget to follow her on social media.

Have you tried Candice’s method of Bible study?
What are some Bible study techniques you’ve found helpful?