FRUITS OF PERSONALITY

As we mature as Christians, we begin to display The Fruits of the Spirit, at least we should anyway!

As I was reading Galatians 5:22-23 it occurred to me the “fruit” described in these verses could also be used to describe the Holy Spirit. As we mature, we become more like Him and we have the same personality traits.

The Holy Spirit is love.

The Holy Spirit is joyful.

The Holy Spirit is peace.

The Holy Spirt is patient. (forbearance.)

The Holy Spirit is kind.

The Holy Spirit is good.

The Holy Spirit is faithful.

The Holy Spirt is gentle.

The Holy Spirit displays Self-control.

EARLY AND OFTEN

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.

OTHER REFERENCES

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

JONAH REVEALED

God is faithful! When you earnestly and humbly ask Him for an answer, He will answer. It may not be in an audible voice at the very moment you ask, or even a whisper. The answer may come in small segments as you piece these segments together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When that last piece goes into place, suddenly, the answer arrives.

This is how it happened most recently for me. Did I just say most recently? It has taken three years for that last piece of the puzzle to be set in place. But the beautiful thing is…….it feels sudden.

If you have read through any of my Facebook or blog posts, you know that I have considered myself “stuck” in Jonah for quite some time. I just couldn’t get past the thought that I had left something undone. I have read the Book of Jonah, containing only four short chapters, 48 verses and about 1200 words (depending on the version) about 100 times. I honestly don’t think I’m exaggerating. I’ve read it in several different versions and translations.  I’ve listened to it in audio versions and I have even hand written it in a journal.  Still, I just couldn’t get a grasp on what God was wanting me to see or what He wanted me to do.

Legalism and pride told me it was my own disobedience that needed to be corrected. Friends and loved ones told me it was a book or Bible Study that needed to be written. So, again and again, I would sit down at my computer, with Bible in hand and just stare at them. Nothing. No insight, no direction, nothing.

In the meantime, the women’s small group I attend did the revised version of Priscilla’s Shirers Discerning the Voice of God and my puzzle pieces started lining up. She made a profound statement that caught my attention. In a discussion about hearing the voice of God and our desire in knowing His purpose for us, she warns us that if we aren’t careful with these good intentions, they can become idols over the most important thing, knowing God Himself.

A brief time later I read Mark Batterson’s book, Whisper. In it, he states that most of us read the Bible completely wrong! We read it like a history book (which it is). We do not read it to know God Himself.

So, I prayed, again. I honestly desired to be obedient. I wanted to know what God wanted me to see in Jonah. What am I missing? I asked Him to show me. I apologized for being so thick headed and I fervently asked Him “what am I supposed to do? I’m stuck, God. I’m stuck not only in Jonah, but it seems like I’m stuck in everything.”

Then, that final piece shows up in John Bevere’s book and Bible study, Killing Kryptonite. Without revealing the good parts of the book for those that haven’t read it, I will paraphrase. He describes a prayer that he prayed every day. It was a long prayer, full of godly desires and sincerity. He wanted to be used by God. He wanted wonderful things to happen through his ministry and so on. He wanted released from a bondage that haunted him. But the answers didn’t come. the release didn’t come.  Until one day, after a time alone with fasting and prayer, God told Him. John was focusing on these good desires. What God wanted, was intimacy with John.

That’s what God wants with me as well. It’s not a blog or a Bible Study to be written. It’s not even a book. It’s Him. Although those things may come when my focus is right, God wanted me to see Him.

So, I read Jonah with new intentions. I looked for God, to learn about Him and to know Him. He is my prize. He is my answer.

The amazing thing about the Book of Jonah and any other book in the Bible for that matter, is that the things God reveals about Himself in one Book, are inexhaustible! There is no limit, so here are just a few from my good friend, Jonah.

  • He speaks, and He speaks to people.
  • His Word is active.
  • He is sovereign, yet He chooses to use people to accomplish great tasks.
  • He made the land and the seas and everything in them.
  • He commands and calms storms.
  • He limits.
  • Fish obey Him.
  • He disciplines.
  • He protects.
  • He saves.
  • He is merciful.
  • He is patient, even with wayward prophets.
  • He desires that all come to repentance, even the wicked.
  • He relents from destruction.
  • He gives second chances.
  • He gives life to the dead.
  • He shows compassion.
  • He is love.
  • He provides.
  • He protects.
  • He teaches (sometimes by taking away).
  • He challenges us to be the image of Him.

God wants an intimate relationship with you as well. Seek Him and you will find Him. 

You will seek me and find me, when seek me with all your heart.

                      Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

A NEW LENS FOR MY HEART

I recently had cataract surgery on both of my eyes. For a two-week period I had one “good” (right) eye and one “bad” (left) eye since most eye surgeons do not perform the surgery on both eyes at the same time. It was challenging during that two-week time frame because I could no longer wear my bifocal glasses.  They had been rendered useless the first day. My left eye is the dominate eye so it still needed them, but my right didn’t since I had upgraded to a multifocal lens that would eliminate the need for glasses for the most part.  I read a lot for both work and pleasure so I still needed my reading glasses to read my Bible and other really fine print for my left eye to be effective and because my right eye was still healing and adjusting. I didn’t need glasses at all for distance or for using the computer.

I often found myself covering up one eye and comparing it to the other eye. The difference was quite remarkable. I would tell people it is like the difference between regular TV and HD. However, the most notable difference happened last week while I was getting a pedicure. I must have been bored because I found myself covering my eyes one at a time to see how they compared after almost two weeks.

Thank goodness, I was there early on a Saturday morning and there weren’t a lot of people looking at the crazy lady covering her eyes one at a time while uttering “whoa” out loud in complete amazement.

When I covered my left eye, I could see bright white walls, sparkling color and HD like definition to the things around me. When I covered my right eye, it was looking through a golden-brown filter that left everything looking dull, dirty and fuzzy. Letters were often in double vision.  I was stunned by the difference. I hadn’t noticed the stark difference until I looked at the light-colored walls under the light of a brightly lit nail salon.

Then on Sunday, during my evening “prayer walk”, I thought about the upcoming second part of cataract surgery to replace the lens on the left eye. I thanked God for the success of the surgery on the right eye and I prayed that the second surgery would be just as successful. After a slight chuckle over my antics at the nail salon the day before, I remembered my optometrist trying to convince me over the last few years that I needed the surgery. I kept putting it off telling him I was “too young” and that I could see just fine as long as I had new glasses. He said that new glasses wouldn’t do any good since it was the presence of the cataracts that was impairing my vision. He said, “You will be surprised after you have the surgery. You have just gotten used to not being able to see clearly.”

As I pondered this, my prayer changed from my physical eyes to the eyes of my heart. Have I been walking with a cloudy, golden-brown filter that distorted what my heart could see? Have I become accustomed to not being able see the things of God clearly?  Am I confused by  double vision? 

So, I prayed Psalm 119:18.

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

Oh, Lord, give me a new lens for my heart. I want to see things fresh, new, bright and clear. Open my eyes to see the hidden treasures in your Word. Remove the cataracts of my heart and help me see the world through your eyes under the bright light of Jesus.

 

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A VERSION MAKES

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!

HELD FAST

For some, the focus of a new year begins with a word, a Scripture, a resolution, or some other thing that will usher in change for the coming year. Last year, for me, it was the book of Jonah. This year, it is Psalm 139.

This beautiful Psalm contains more than I can post at one time. But two things have grabbed me so tightly that I can’t help but speak of them.

Verse 5 (NIV): You hem me in, behind and before. You lay your hand upon me.

Hem: In this context, the word means to form an edge or border, on or around.

Verse 10 (NIV): even there your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast.

Hold me fast: In this context, the Hebrew root word means to seize, to be caught, grasped, to enclose, take hold of, to fasten. In the dictionary, fasten means to attach firmly or securely in place; fix securely to something else; to make secure; to enclose securely; to direct (the eyes, thoughts, etc.) intently:

I agree with David. This is too wonderful for me. Too lofty for me to attain (v 6). God surrounds me. He has formed a border around me. He holds me securely within His grasp, He has enclosed me within His hands.

Oh, just imagine His big, beautiful, strong, right hand, where you are held so tightly and securely that you become etched in His palm. Oh, how this comforts me and gives me strength! You would think that knowing God held me so tightly would be constricting and confining! But just the opposite is true. It gives me the freedom, courage and strength to walk out this life knowing I am held within His everlasting grasp.

Isaiah 49:16 (a) (NIV) See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

STUCK OR PLANTED?

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.”

JONAH 1:2 (NIV)

 

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

GENESIS 15:16 (NIV)

EPHESIANS 4:29

EPHESIANS 4:29

I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. this past Wednesday morning with the Scripture reference Ephesians 4:29. That’s it. Just the Scripture reference. Of course I tried to go back to sleep, but that was a crazy idea! Since it was not a verse I had committed to memorization, I needed to look it up.

As with other Scriptures that the LORD has placed on my heart upon awakening, it was very appropriate for my current situation. I have been dealing with a sensitive situation and I needed this verse to remind me how it should be handled as far as it concerns me.  Okay, let’s just be honest, here.  I needed this verse to remind me how I should handle my own mouth!

I decided to use two of the tools that we have acquired in our small group, TOOLS for a LIFETIME, to study this verse in detail. I printed the verse in columns on a piece of paper in three different translations (NIV, ESV, NASB) and I used the “I see” method.  Then I summarized the results. Below, you will find my journal notes to Ephesians 4:29. “I see” is noted in italics. What follows, in regular font, are my thoughts to what I saw. After the summary, I have noted  references to Scriptures that came to my mind as I worked through this verse.

Ephesians 4:29

NIV

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

ESV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

NASB

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

I SEE

I see- Do not let; let no: Allow. This means what follows in this verse or passage is under my control.

I see- unwholesome talk, unwholesome words: Foul language, offensive slang, hurtful words, gossip.

I see- corrupting talk: Infected, dishonest, death, decay. Corrupt in the Bible means death.

I see- come out of your mouth: The words I say.

I see- but: This means what comes next is what I should say or do.

I see- what is helpful, what is good: What will benefit someone. What is right.

I see– building up, edification: What encourages, strengthens, supports, lifts, instructs, teaches.

I see- according to their needs:  Every need is different.

I see- as fits the occasion, according to the need of the moment: Not only is every need different but the circumstance is different as well. How I speak depends, not only on the need itself, but also on the situation and the person who is in need of helpful words. The words I want to say might not fit the moment. If moment is not right, don’t say them.

I see- that it may, so that: The reason my words should be helpful and good are for desired results. I think it also means that the words I say, although good and helpful, might not be received by the other person as such.

I see- Benefit, give grace: I say words that give value. I say words of mercy. I say words of forgiveness (according to the moment).

I see- those who listen, those who hear: The words I speak can be heard. The words I speak can be heard not only by the person to whom I am speaking, but to any person who is within earshot. It also means that just because I speak and the other person hears, they may not actually listen.

SUMMARY

I have control over what I say. I shouldn’t use foul, hurtful, or abusive language. I should refrain from saying things that hurt, slander, hear-say or gossip. I should never allow myself to say things that tear another person down. All of these things bring death. The words I say can be heard by anyone. The words I say are heard by God.

The words I say should not be idle, they should fit the moment and they should always be spoken in truth with a foundation of love.

My words should build up and not tear down.

Sometimes my words may not be what a person wants to hear, but if the moment is right, my words may be what they need to hear. I must understand and accept that the other person may not receive. I must also understand and control my words when I know that they will not be of benefit at this moment. Sometimes, it is best that they remain unspoken. However, I must also understand that sometimes I must say words that I know will not be well received but there is benefit and grace in saying them. Whatever the moment,  love is the foundation.

RELATED SCRIPTURES

Proverbs 18:21 (NASB)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

2 Timothy 2:14-16

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

Matthew 12:34-37 (NASB)

34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

APPOINTMENTS

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