Prayer Monday

Have you ever been a little stressed about your finances?  Appliances break, the roof leaks, the car won’t start, you don’t get the promotion, the kids need braces… on and on!  Today I would like to post a positive prayer regarding finances. 

Matthew 21:21
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Heavenly Father we thank you for all you have given to us.  We are grateful for the abundance we already have.  You amaze us with your love and blessings we receive everyday without even asking or realizing what we have.  Father, we give our lives today and surrender all our financial concerns to you.  We know that you have told us not to worry or have fears about anything.  You have let us know you will take care of everything and we just need to trust and have faith in you Father.  We completely trust that our finances and debts will be paid in a timely manner.  We want to thank you for showing us how to handle our finances carefully and for teaching us how our finances can be used for your kingdom.  Father, we thank you for all our blessings.  We ask that you continue to give us direction and wisdom in our financial decisions and concerns!  Please pray for the finances to continue for Women’s Life Fellowship!  Please pray for Deanna to have strength and encouragement this week!!  Pray for Meredith to have peace and encouragement this week.

Tracking My Observations

Thirsty Thursdays – Awkward

One of our homework assignments last week was to read the gospel of Mark in one sitting. Can I tell you that it was a bit painful for me?  Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading it but the one sitting thing is hard for me. But I did it and I did make some observations. This post is going to be entirely observations, no meaning or application, just observations.  And questions.

Mark has a way of giving us little tidbits of information without stating the purpose or meaning. For example, one of the first things I noticed is in Chapter 1 verse 6 where Mark mentions John the Baptist’s clothing and diet.  I like the information I’m just not sure what to do with it. It’s just a mention and then he moves into a very important piece of information about John the Baptist’s message.

Chapter 1:9-12 speak of Jesus’ baptism and then quickly slides through Jesus’ temptation with none of the details about what happened other than he was in the desert 40 days and was tempted by Satan.  Yet in verse 13 he mentions that “he was with the wild animals, and angels and attended him”.  Why the wild animals?  What is the significance?

In the very next verse he just blurts out “after John was put in prison” which kind of leaves me hanging if I am only reading this gospel. No other explanation, no lead in as to why he was put in prison.  Just that one phrase and the subject turns to Jesus.

I noticed that the Sermon on the Mount gets very few words.  Chapter 1:21-22 “He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

In Mark’s account of the disciples’ problem with casting out a demon from a boy in Chapter 9:14-29, Mark seems to give more details than the same account in Matthew and Luke. Mark ends this story with the disciples asking why they couldn’t drive the demon out. Jesus told them that “this kind can come out only by prayer.”  I don’t know about you but that makes me a little curious as to what kind of demon that was.

Mark spent a lot of time on the miracles of Jesus.

Ok, this blog was a bit awkward to write.  But that’s how observation feels.  We aren’t used to just observing.  We seem to always want to jump in and figure it all out but we must resist the temptation to short-circuit the process and assign meaning.

So if you are feeling awkward at this stage of learning how to read and study the bible, don’t feel bad. It’s normal!

Now go observe. And ask questions.  Answers come later.

How to Study the Bible This Year by Olive Tree

http://blog.olivetree.com/2015/01/12/study-the-bible-this-year/

We found a great blog we wanted to share with you about studying your Bible. Comment and let us know what you’re learning as you’re studying the Bible this year! If you haven’t already, join us for our current study on “Living By The Book”!

“It’s a New Year. You’ve started your reading plan and are off to a great start studying the Bible this year. My early attempts at Bible study were sporadic and didn’t go that smoothly. I soon learned that I needed a more formalized approach to my Bible study. Here are a few tips & resources that I’ve found that will help you keep your Bible Study on track.

Prepare yourself through Prayer
“All our study is futile without the work of God overcoming our blindness and hardheartedness.” – John Piper, Martin Luther Lessons from His Life and Labor p. 33

There is no substitute for prayer when reading and studying the Bible. Prayer takes the attention off of what we can do and puts the attention instead on what God can do in and through us. Bible study is a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1) in which we present our best to God. We have to remember that this is not just a book we’re reading. We need prepare our hearts and minds for Bible study.

Read the Scripture for yourself
Read and re-read the passage you’re studying. Get familiar with the flow of the passage. If there are terms that you don’t know, look them up in a simple dictionary.

Ask yourself these Questions

Observe – What does the text say?
Interpret – What does the text mean?
Apply – How does it apply to me today?
Asking these questions will keep you focused on the study at hand. These questions are also helpful when preparing, guiding, and leading discussions for small group and Sunday school Bible studies.

Read and Research

1.Bible Study Notes
There are multiple Bibles that have study notes written by scholars and trusted authors that will assist you in better understanding the Bible. I recommend choosing one that corresponds to your preferred translation (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.)

2. Bible Concordances
Concordances are great tools that give you a list of verses that contain that root word in the Bible. However, be careful that you do not JUST use a concordance in your preparation. Concordances are a great place to BEGIN, but are never the END of your Bible Study.

With that “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, I do suggest using a digital Bible with Strong’s numbers integrated into the text for your Bible study.

Recommendations:

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK) – cross references
Holman Concise Topical Concordance
Other Concordances Available
3. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words. They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.
Recommendations:

Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
4. Bible Commentaries
After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it is often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you are reading.

Recommendations:

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary (Free Olive Tree Resource)
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible (Free Olive Tree Resource)
The Bible Knowledge Commentary
Word Biblical Commentary (WBC)
I would also suggest checking BestCommentaries.com. It’s a great site with recommendations for commentaries on each book of the Bible.

Other Resources
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:

How to Study the Bible by Rose Publishing
Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods by Rick Warren
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart
Using these simple methods and tools will deepen your Bible Study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).

What are your favorite Bible Study titles and tools?”

More On Verbs

Thirsty Thursdays – Observation

In our study of Living by the Book, by Howard Hendricks, the first and most important step in the three step process to learning how to effectively read and study the bible is OBSERVATION. To observe the text, you need to look carefully at what is said and how it is said. You ask yourself the question “What do I see” and then you ask these questions of the text: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?  You look at the terms used.  You look at how it is grammatically structured.  You identify the literary structure:

  • is it in the form of a narrative
  • is it told chronologically
  • is there a comparison and contrast
  • is there a cause and effect
  • does it go from general to specific or from specific to general

You identify the literary form or genre:

  • Law
  • History
  • Wisdom
  • Poetry
  • Gospel
  • Epistles
  • Prophecy

Then you try to put yourself into the shoes of the author and transport yourself into the senses of the passage.  Can you see, smell, hear, feel what is going on?  This is the atmosphere of what you are reading.
You become a biblical detective. At this point you aren’t getting the meaning but asking questions that can lead to the meaning or the next step of interpretation.  This is a step that many of us miss but when you start practicing it, it is amazing what you can see.

This week I am going to show you a few examples from Nehemiah, Chapter 2. Quickly, to set it up, Nehemiah was the king’s cup-bearer (which means he was a very trusted and trustworthy man. He was trusted to taste all of the king’s wine to make sure it wasn’t poisoned 8-O ). God put a longing and a vision on Nehemiah’s heart to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall and Nehemiah carried a deep burden to help his fellow Jews in their despair. Nehemiah knew he was going to have to ask the king for help. I had to go back to Chapter 1 to get this information and to get a feel for how Nehemiah felt.

Chapter 2 verse 2 Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid. Normally I might focus on how nice the king was to notice something wrong with Nehemiah and read on through where Nehemiah said he became dreadfully afraid, but now I ask the question “why was he afraid?”  The king seemed to be concerned so why the fear? When Nehemiah came into the presence of the king this time, months of fasting and emotional strain showed on his face. So the king asked what was going on.  You see, the word translated sad could mean emotional or spiritual sickness or it could also describe something as evil or wicked.  So Nehemiah was afraid the king would think something was sinister behind his sad face. He was afraid that the king might think he intended to do him harm  oops This could have been very bad for him.

Then upon a second look at this chapter I noticed that at the end of verse 1, Nehemiah said “Now I had never been sad in his presence before.” You mean to tell me that Nehemiah had never let on to the king that he was burdened or sad? This begs the question “Why is this significant and what does it mean?” We ladies don’t give a second thought to putting our emotions out there for the rest of the world to see, sometimes subtly seeking out someone who would ask us what is wrong so we could then spew out our problems hoping for answers or sympathy.  But Nehemiah kept his feelings to himself and instead spent 4 months in prayer over how to help his people. When the time was right, he was prepared. He knew what to do.  Verse 4 “Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.”  Did you see that?  He prayed before he gave the king his answer. Now Nehemiah, according to the events of Chapter 1, had been praying and fasting for about 4 months about the situation with the Jews in Judah. Yet he still paused to pray one more time. But until that moment he had not shown his intense grief over the situation. We might have something to learn there in just one little verse. I know I do.

Long post, I know. But look what you can find out by just looking.  In just a few short verses. God speaking to me.  To you. Worth the  LrolleyeswinkK.

Really Deanna?! Verbs?!!

Prayer Monday

For those in Bible Study this is our scripture reading this week! Continue to pray over these scriptures and read them again!!

Continue to pray for the ladies attending Bible Study and for the leaders!  It is so amazing to see so many ladies seeking to learn and grow in Gods word !!

PSALM 19

The Perfect Revelation of the Lord
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

19 1The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line[a] has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
6 Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Deanna’s First Steps

What the Creative Process Has Taught Me About God (Donya Dunlap)

Check out my friend Donya Dunlap’s blog and original article here http://www.donyadunlap.com/what-the-creative-process-has-taught-me-about-god/

“As a beginning designer I knew very little about what artists call The Creative Process. When working on a logo, I might sketch out a few ideas, but then I would jump right into my design software and work on flushing out a solution. I skipped several important steps.

Before you can adequately summarize an organization, a person, a product or group into a symbolic representation, research must be done. You need to learn all the various aspects of the its goals, its personality, its people, its mission and more before you will know how to begin a design.

From there you need to brainstorm. Taking into account all the various things you learned in your research, you then begin to consider images that symbolize those concepts and how they relate to each other. You have to consider color and the color meaning, single shapes, complex shapes, and styles. You have to try out a multitude of ideas and from there refine and refine and refine until you arrive at a completed image that adequately represents everything your client is trying to communicate to their audience.

There is a similar creative process that happens in our relationship with God.

Often we are saved and become comfortable at a church then jump right into super-Christian mode and try to serve the Savior without really knowing Him. We skip the learning and meditating parts of getting to know God and try to make Him happy with us based on our performance.

This kind of mentality hurts us and our “audience” in several ways.

We never know what it is like to have a true, deep, meaningful relationship with God
We lack an understanding of who God is and how He views us as His children
We are continually frustrated with our shortcomings, and translate that into a belief that God must not be pleased with us either
We misrepresent God to others by not walking in the Spirit and therefore causing unsaved people to think that Christians aren’t any better than the world which also effects their view of God
I wrote of this in my soon to be released book, Forgetting the Fairy Tale:

We blissfully enjoy all of God’s blessing until He takes away a relationship, or allows us to have a terminal illness, or doesn’t allow us to get married, or anything else contrary to our picture perfect Christian lives, and then we turn our backs on Him. Why? Not because He doesn’t love us anymore, but because we really never loved Him. We never got to know Him. So when He does something that doesn’t match our image of Him we get angry… We become bitter.

God is so far above us and His ways are so much higher than our ways. We will never be able to truly know Him in all of His complexity because we are human and He is divine. But we can continually grown in knowledge of His person and His grace if we “do our homework” so to speak. If we stop the continual motion of our lives and simply sit at His feet, read His Word and listen for His voice, He will reveal Himself to us.

James 4:8 tells us to “draw night to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”

The reason that we struggle so much with what God does is that we don’t know who God is. We need to pause, rewind, and court our Savior. Just like any human relationship, understanding and love takes time.

I encourage you to pull out some paper and colored pens and hang out with Him for a while. Write out His characteristics and what they mean to you. Look up verses that talk about His majesty. Read through the Gospels and write down observations of Jesus’ character and personality that stand out to you. Draw picture graphs outlining truths of who God says He is and who He says we are in Him. Get creative!

What can you do today to get creative with your relationship with God? I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments below.”