I am almost to the end of reading the Tree of Life Version (TLV) as the main Bible in my daily reading for 2017. It may be the end of 2017 and time for a new Bible, but I will always use this version when I want to see a word or passage side-by side with another version. I love the TLV. It is a Bible translated by the Messianic Jewish Bible Society and it has opened my eyes, mind and heart to a new way of seeing Scripture. I love the Hebrew language and they often use Hebrew words instead of  English words. The Hebrew language is beautiful and powerful.

Another thing I love about the TLV is that they translate a word or phrase consistently the same throughout the text depending on the context in which the word or phrase is used. When used consistently, you notice when a word or phrase is repeated. Noticing repetition in Scripture is a key Bible Study tool. Repetition can show importance, significance, or emotion. Repetition emphasizes, and it is the best teacher. When God says something more than once, it is in our best interest to listen!

So, as I was reading the Book of Jeremiah recently, I noticed three words consistently used together. I didn’t specifically notice or pay a lot of attention to the words “early and often” until about the third time I saw them (Jeremiah 25:3.) I went back and marked Jeremiah 7:13 and 11:7. I marked my Bible every time I saw this phrase. It is used eight times in Jeremiah in the TLV!  But what really caught my attention are the words that followed them.

“but you did not listen;  Listen to my voice;  but you have not listened;  But you would not hear;,  you have not obeyed; Oh, do not do this loathsome thing that I hate”.

In every one of these verses it is God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah to the Southern Kingdom of Judah just before the exile to Babylon and the fall of Jerusalem into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar. God was warning them of the fate that was about to happen if they did not repent of their wicked ways.

God loved the people of Judah. He loved them so much that he warned them early and often. He wanted so much for them to turn to Him so that he could relent from what was going to happen. He even loved them enough to punish them to get their attention so that they would turn to Him.

God is patient, God is kind, God is love. God is full of grace and mercy, but He is not a pushover. God warns us over and over. He warns us early and often! We need to pay attention to what our hearts hear, listen to the Holy Spirit and obey what He says. He just might be warning us of something in our life that needs changed.  He might be making us aware of a situation, or a prayer that needs prayed. He just might be showing us the signs of the times so that we will be ready when Jesus returns or calls us home.

God loves us!

Our amazing and loving God does not pull the rug out from under anyone saying “Surprise!, I guess you shouldn’t have done that! Or “You should have acted this way or that” and then punishes without warning. His Word tells us over and over how to live successful and prosperous lives, full of the Righteousness of Christ, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. He shows us how to live in authority, power and boldness. He shows us the way to eternal life with Him.

But, He also warns us early and often of the things that will hurt us and things that will separate us from Him forever. He has been doing this for about 2,000 years if you start with the words of Jesus. There will be no surprises, but it will come, and it will come quickly.

Heed the warning. Answer the call.

Jeremiah 7:13

I spoke to you early and often, but you did not listen, and I called you but you did not answer.

Jeremiah 11:7

For I earnestly forewarned your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt until this day, forewarning early and often, saying ‘Listen to My voice!’ Yet they would not obey or incline their ear, but each one walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart.


Jeremiah 25:3-4; 26:15; 29:19; 32;33; 35:14-15; 44:4


God’s Word amazes me! It is wonderful and perfect!

As I was reading from the Tree of Life Version (TLV), by the Messianic Jewish Bible Society, during my morning reading plan, something in Leviticus 14:5 caught my eye. The book of Leviticus focuses mostly on God’s Holiness and His Presence among His people. God is Holy, so in order for the priest and the people to be among His Presence, sin had be covered. Leviticus describes, in detail, the process of sacrifices to cover the sins of the People. Chapter 14 is about the purification of someone healed from Tza’arat (Skin Diseases).

Most versions will state v.5 as “Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot” (emphasis mine). But the TLV says it like this: “The kohen (priest) shall command them to kill one of the birds in a clay pot over living water.”

Living water just stood out like a blinking light to me. That is one of the reasons that reading from different versions is so important in effective Bible study. The various versions all use the original text. However, each of the panels of experts may decide and focus on one meaning of a word over another, such as the use of “fresh” over “living”. The context is the same, the original word is the same but, wow, does seeing it differently make you sit back and praise God.

From previous Bible study and former teachings, I knew that the sacrifices in Leviticus were fulfilled once and for all by the work that Jesus did on the cross. I also knew from John 7:37-39 and Revelation 21:6-8 that Jesus is the source of Living Water.

So, I underlined the words in my Bible and proceeded to go about my day, pondering on the thought that the purification for the healing was accomplished over “living water”. When I got home that evening, I looked up the lemma (root) of the original Hebrew words used in this passage. What I found was truly amazing.

The Hebrew root for the word “living” is hăy : living, alive; life; flowing running; maintenance; to live, to be alive.

God did not desire stale, dead, useless water. He desired fresh, running, living water; water that was alive and active; water that represented His Son. Only living water could wash away the uncleanness! The water for the sacrifice had to come from a fresh source such as a stream. In Revelation 21:6-8, Jesus says that He will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life (NIV).

An amazing thing that I found in Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible is the significance of the priest mixing the fresh water with the blood of the bird. In John 19:34 when we see that Jesus was pierced for our transgression (cf. Is 53:5), out flowed water and blood. We also see in I John 5:6 that Jesus did not come by water only but by water and blood.  He also states that the significance of the birds (like other sacrifices with a scapegoat) reveal that one dies for our sins (Christ’s death on the cross) and one is released (Christ’s Resurrection) to remove them and to bring justification. My favorite Bible teacher of all time, Derek Prince, defines justification as: “Just as if they had never been!” (Can we say AMEN to that!)

The more I read the Bible, even the hard places like the Book of Leviticus, the more I love the Bible! Jesus is everywhere within. Once you begin to open your spiritual eyes, God reveals the way the Scarlet Threads of Christ intertwine in every book. Ask God to show you the wonders of His Word. He will honor your heart’s request.

Open my eyes that I may see

wonderful things in your law.

Psalm 119:18 (NIV)

Open my eyes, so I may behold wonders from your Torah.

Psalm 119:18 (TLV)

Thank you, Father for opening my eyes!


I recently inquired of the Lord, “Now that TOOLS for a LIFETIME has ended for this semester, why am I still stuck in Jonah?”

Jonah was our study material for learning how to study the Bible. I thought that once this semester was over, I would move on to another study topic. But, I can’t. For some reason, I feel something is left unfinished. Undone. Unlearned. Did I miss the call? Did I go the wrong direction? Did I miss what God was asking me to do? Did I miss what he was teaching me?

One of my bad habits, okay, let’s not call it a bad habit, let’s just call it what it is…. a lack of organization.  My study notes are everywhere! A notebook here, observation sheets here and there, and post-it notes and FB posts everywhere else.  Nothing is in the same place.  So, I decided to get it all organized and in doing so, maybe I could find out why I’m stuck and get on to something else.

I bought a notebook, notebook paper, and tabs for each chapter and topic.  As I organize my notes, I am also going back through the Book of Jonah using one of the most remarkable tools available to us, the cross-reference tool in most Bibles. As I started listing and then looking up each of the cross-references from several different Bibles, a new world of wonder was opening before my eyes. Then, God whispered in my heart this amazing thing:

“It doesn’t matter where you are, I will take you where you need to go.”

So, I don’t see myself stuck in Jonah anymore. I am planted here. Jonah is my “home base” and as I venture into the world of cross-reference, God is guiding me through the adventure of a LIFETIME. Seeds of things are being planted in my heart and in my mind. I no longer worry about what God is showing me, where it’s supposed to go or why. I just treasure everything I see, knowing it will all come together in His timing. How do I know this? I know by what He has shown me so far…. In Jonah 1:2. Yes, I am back to square one, but oh, what an amazing new thing! I have been “planted” in Jonah for over a year now. I don’t actually stay in Jonah all of time, because God sends me on wonderful adventures.

As I pondered on Jonah 1:2 and the part of the Scripture that says “for their wickedness has come up before me”, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the verse “for their sin has not yet reached full measure”. (The Holy Spirit is the best cross-reference!)

The verse is Genesis 15:16 where God is telling Abraham that He will give his decendants the land He is showing him, but not until the fourth generation because the sin of the Amorites had not yet reached full measure (complete in the NASB). Without going into detail on the depth of this Scripture and the remarkable timing God gave Nineveh (Jonah Chapter 3), I will say that God’s timing is perfect. He is not going to do things too early and He knows when the time is ripe for harvest. He knows when hearts are ready and He knows when hearts have gone stone cold.

God is so amazing, so wonderful and so patient! He waited 450 years for the Amorites to reach “full measure”. I believe He did this because there were people along the way that would turn to Him. He knew when the time was right for Nineveh to turn from their wicked ways.

He knows when I am ready to learn and most importantly, He knows when I am ready to act and turn in His direction. I will trust Him and stay where I am until He tells me to go. He knows this for you as well. So, get planted in the Word. Where? It doesn’t matter where. Just get planted and let God take you on the most amazing adventure of a LIFETIME.

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”



 In the fourth generation, your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”



I discovered today the benefits of one very important tool in Bible Study. Set an appointment and keep it. If possible, don’t let anything take priority over this precious time with the Lord.

A few days ago I was thinking I needed to set an appointment to use the Bible study methods I have been studying on the “Jonah Project”. I had not spent quality time on either project for a couple of weeks and time is getting short. The fall small group semester will start before I’m ready!

As I was thinking of the time to set aside Saturday morning for God and Jonah, my heart hears “7:00 am.” I thought, “okay, that might work I can get up at my normal time like the other days of the week, drink my coffee, read my daily Bible plan from the One Year Bible, and then run a couple of miles before it gets too hot.” I would be back and ready to sit down and enjoy my time  with God and Jonah  before it was time to mow the yard. Good Saturday plan……. wrong!

Saturday is the only day of the week that I do not set my alarm. Sunday through Friday my alarm goes off just before 4:00 a.m.  However, due to a lifetime of being an early riser, I am usually awake early on Saturdays as well, even without an alarm.  But, oh, not today. I wake up at 6:30 a.m. with only enough time for a cup of coffee and the reading plan before it’s “appointment time”. I seriously thought of pushing it back in order to get a run in before the temperature soared.

Thank goodness for sound teaching from people like Pastor Robert Morris in his book Frequency. You make time for what is important. I knew this time with God should take priority. I wanted it to take priority, so I skipped the run and started reading Jonah, again.

I have read Jonah so many times, I’ve lost count, but I knew I needed to use the methods I have learned in order to teach it to others since Jonah is the Book we will use to practice our newly learned skills.  I needed “living proof” that good solid methods change how we read, study, see, and hear God’s Word. By keeping the appointment today and making it a priority over the busy-ness I had scheduled for the morning, I found that God honors the time we set for Him. God showed up for the appointment and He brought Jonah with Him. I discovered some beautiful truth that I had missed in all the other times I have spent reading the Book of Jonah.

We set aside time for things and people that are important to us. We make appointments to go to the doctor and dentist. We make appointments for car and home repair. We make time for necessities such as work and for mundane tasks such going to the store. We set aside time for family and friends and whether we are single or married, we set aside time for dates and gatherings.

There is another appointment that we should make and one that we should never be late to keep. It should be the most important one in our life and it should take priority in our schedules. What is that appointment? It is an appointment with God. Setting an appointment does not make our time so precious that we need to “assign” time to Him. Setting an appointment with God actually honors Him. It shows Him that He is so important to our daily life, that we value our time with Him.

God even sets appointments. He has appointed times for all things. He gave us time and he knows how precious it is on this earth. In Exodus 19:10-11 God set aside time to speak to the people. He gave them time to prepare. God shows up to a prepared people! He speaks to those to who spend time with Him.

Set aside an appointed time with God every day. Bible study doesn’t have to be daily, but time with God, in His Word and in prayer and worship, should be a priority every day. I promise you, He won’t disappoint.

Exodus 19:10-11 (NIV)

10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Journaling is a Tool

Journaling is one of the cheapest and most effective Bible study tools available. Thoughts just seem to untangle themselves as they travel from the brain, through your heart and out the tip of your fingers.

Bible study requires you to write down what you have observed in the Scripture. It requires you to put on paper your thoughts about what you just read. You can read the Bible without writing, but you can’t study it. If you haven’t written anything down, you really haven’t thought about it.

You might even be surprised after you read what you have written. You will see insights that the Holy Spirit has given you as you think about the verse or passage you have been studying. There may be times when all you write is “I don’t get it”. That is good, too. When that happens, write it down and ask God to give you insight. It might not happen right then, but it will as you continue studying. It might be another verse or another passage, a sermon or a song that causes that “ah ha” moment . God speaks to our hearts, but sometimes we can only hear Him when we write it down.

Journaling isn’t just for Bible study time. I believe everyone should have a personal journal. Unless I’m doing an in-depth study on a particular subject, my personal journal and daily devotional journal are one and the same. One entry may be about the Scripture I read that morning, another one may be about my thoughts on the events of the day, while yet another entry may be a prayer that is on my heart.

God gives us thoughts and insights throughout the day. We should stop and write them down, lest we forget. I don’t mean that you need to carry a journal around with you all day (however, a journal app is very convenient!). I have written down insights on the backs of receipts, post-it notes, important documents (oops), you name it. I have even used the microphone app on my phone when something comes to mind while I’m driving! Sometimes, I just keep as-is, sometimes I transfer them to my journal at a later time.

A journal tracks our emotional, spiritual, and relationship growth.  It reveals our pain and our healing. It encourages us keep fighting for that prize.

So, if you will allow me, I will reveal to you a portion of a very personal side of journaling. In doing so, I hope you see why I believe in this process so much.

Last week, the benefits of journaling became very evident as I skimmed through my journals in preparation for the “Treasure” post. I knew I had written down the words that God placed in my heart about “searching for the treasure”, so I began thumbing through the pages. The timing for this couldn’t have been more perfect. I had been a little discouraged over certain aspects of my life, over changes that hadn’t yet occurred, prayers that seemed to remain unanswered and so on. In reality, I was just down right feeling sorry for myself.

But God, in His wondrous and often not so ordinary way, lifted my spirits through my own words. I saw insights that He has given me and I saw prayers that had been answered. I saw change.

Some of my first entries are actually  quite embarrassing.  They were written by a very emotionally and spiritually broken woman. I saw in these pages a woman desperately seeking love and confirmation.  I saw a woman crying out to her God, a woman turning to the only One who could give her the love and confirmation she so desperately needed.  I wanted to rip the pages from their binding and burn them so that no one would ever see them. But, I couldn’t. They are my testimony of a faithful God who heals the brokenhearted.

As I continued to read, I saw a woman beginning to change. Instead of heartache and, well, whining, I saw a woman reading her Bible, writing down Scripture, applying Scripture. I saw a woman falling in love and conversing with her God on paper. I saw hope for the future and a reassurance from God that everything is a process and that everything happens on His time schedule.

I praise God for all of it!  I am so thankful that I am not the woman I used to be and I know I have a long way to go before I am the one I am meant to be. But, with the evidence of a journal before me, I know God is faithful and I know He will guide me as long as I keep my eyes on the prize.

 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14


As I was researching Bible Study methods for TOOLS for a LIFETIME, something absolutely wonderful and amazing happened.

In 2011, I found myself on a journey towards the biggest challenge to change that I had ever faced. Well, I take that back. I had faced this challenge before and failed, miserably. However, this time, I realized I would succeed only if I allowed  God to direct my path. So,  I began to read the Bible more and attend women’s Bible study. The study on Esther, by Beth Moore literally lit a match and started a burning desire for the Word of God in my heart. I wanted to study it and know it like she did!

It was frustrating. I didn’t know where to begin or even how to start.  So I hunted and hunted for every book I could find on how to study the Bible (still do! ) And I prayed. One day, as I prayed, I heard the Lord say in my heart “Search for the treasure.” Not knowing exactly what He meant other than knowing that I would search for the treasures in His Word, I decided to read the Bible from cover to cover. I started in January 2012 with the NIV One Year Chronological Bible. I highlighted and marked every Scripture I came across concerning any kind of treasure. I found beautiful Scriptures that gave me strength and courage and in September of that year I wrote in my journal:

“I believe the treasures are the hidden things that He will reveal to me as I read, study, and meditate on His word”.

Treasure, is a word to which I still pay close attention, but for the most part, the search had faded after I finished reading the Bible that year. But the desire to study and learn still burned and I knew God would reveal the hidden things to me as I continued in the pursuit of Him.

Then it happened. God, in His own wonderful and beautiful timing revealed the “treasure”. He knew that I needed to be in a certain place in my life, pursuing the dream he placed in my heart,  before I could understand His words to me in 2011.  I read the following paragraph by Howard and William Hendricks in LIVING BY THE BOOK.

“The Bible does not yield its fruit to the lazy. Proverbs 2:4 gives an interesting insight concerning the richness of God’s Word. It admonishes us to “seek (wisdom) as silver, and search for her hidden treasures.” In other words, biblical wisdom is like precious ore. It’s not found lying around on the surface, but at a deeper level.”

In the very moment that I read this  paragraph, I believe my chin hit my chest as my jaw dropped and my heart leaped. I had misunderstood all this time and thought I was looking for the word “treasure” in order for God to reveal the deep and hidden things (Daniel 2:22) he wanted me to see. What God revealed to me  is that personal Bible Study is a treasure hunt! I will find treasures more precious than the diamonds in South Africa or the oil in the Middle East, but I’m not going to find them on the surface. I have to dig.

I find it ironic that I actually had the revelation in 2012 when I wrote in my  journal. It just took a little more digging before I could see that the treasue God has for me is joy of the  treasure hunt, the joy of Bible study and the precious gems in  His Word.



My favorite form of exercise is running. However, due to some bad habits concerning diet and exercise that managed to creep into my lifestyle in the last couple of years, I’m out of condition. I am running again, just not as frequent or as enthusiastic as before.  My current long distance run doesn’t even measure up to my previous short runs.  Not to mention speed… the turtle wins every time!  It seems the more I want to run and the harder I try, the worse the results. It’s frustrating, it’s exhausting and I wonder if it’s time to give up this once favorite form of exercise.

Last weekend, during another attempt to run longer and faster and lacking any great success, it felt as if the Lord whispered something in my ear… “Running when you are trying to get back in shape is like Bible study when you don’t know how or are out of practice.” What?  Then it dawned on me…..


To build back up, I can’ try harder and faster…. It is methodical, it’s planned, it’s slow and steady with intervals of short sprints. It’s running at the right time with the right warm-up and preparation. It’s as much mental as it is physical. Then, as I obtain strength, speed and endurance are natural by-products.


Many of us long to spend more time in the Bible. We want to know what it says and we want to understand it, so we plow ahead fast and furious and end up frustrated, exhausted and wondering if we should just give up.

Effective Bible study is approached the same way as training to run or for any other activity in which we wish to excel. It is methodical, it’s planned, it’s slow and steady with intervals of short sprints. Then, as God begins to open our hearts, eyes, and ears, as we meditate on his Word, we gain the endurance that comes with the knowledge and wisdom God has placed within our reach.

If we read the Bible at all, we often read our daily devotional or current reading plan just to be able to place that check-mark on our to-do list for the day. What happens when we do the dreadful thing and get behind? Well, of course, we read several days’ assignments all at once to catch up! It’s our duty after all to read the Bible in order to be spiritual, right? I know I’m alone here… am I?

What do we actually accomplish with this style of Bible reading because it sure doesn’t classify as “study”? Sure, God blesses us anyway when a Scripture stands out and meets our need at just the right time. He is faithful like that! But, at the end of the day, were we able to put what we read into action? Did the Lord reveal something to us as we read? Did it touch our heart or lead us to repentance? Did we leap for joy at the promises? Did we see an amazing attribute of our God? But most importantly, did we get a little closer to Him today?

Bible study is not a race. It’s not about how fast we can read or how often. Although reading the Bible through every year is great life plan, it’s not even about that. It’s not about how much we get out of the Bible, it’s how much of the Bible gets IN us. It’s not even about information or knowledge for the sake of knowledge.  It’s about transformation.  The Bible will teach us to live prosperous and successful lives, it equps us for all good work. It teaches us righteousness and above all, it brings us into an intimate relationship with the Author!

In summary, the TOOLS for a LIFETIME tip for today: Slow down.

Read smaller portions. It can even be one or two verses that you want to etch on your heart.  Mediate on them (think about them). Take your time until you know them in your heart. It may take a week or more of reading the same passage over and over again. Remember, it’s not a race. Turn them into a prayer. Turn them into praise! If it’s a passage of history, ask God how it applies to you today. Ask Him to show you the timeless truth.  Don’t read just to read. Read to be transformed.

Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.





Father, create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Search me, O God and  know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 51;10, 139:23-24)

I begin this post today  with this  prayer from Psalms . Why? Because, honestly, I’m a little scared. God has placed a wonderful desire in my heart to learn to study His Word. But, the desire is not just for me to hold on to for myself; it’s a  desire to share and teach others what I have learned.

Disobedience to His call will kill the desire, pride will kill the desire, procrastination will kill the desire, doubt, sin, unfaithfullness and many more things will also kill the desire….all of which I am guilty.

God placed A Heart Him on my heart a few years ago as a tool to share the things that I have learned with others. I have not been faithful to the call.  I pray to change that with this wonderful second chance (or is it the third, fourth or hundreth chance?) I may not have been faithful to the call but God is always faithful!

Tools for Lifetime  are tips and methods that I have learned over the last few years from well known teachers. Each teacher has a style and method all their own, but I have discovered that they flow together beautifully. Each method I learn builds on or enhances the understanding of the one before, until BOOM, it makes sense and, above all….it WORKS. Scripture has opened up like never before. It’s mind blowing! It’s exciting! (see the SLOW DOWN post coming soon!)

Tools for a Liftime will be a small group at my church. However, I pray that those of you who read the posts will know that, from the bottom of my heart, the posts are not intended to be an “advertisment” for that group . My desire is that somehow, through these tips that are posted, God will stir a hunger in hearts and begin to open doors for people who want to read his Word and understand what it says.

Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.

I love you all and may God give us hearts that are open, eyes that see, and ears that hear.