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Everyday Obedience – Join the Online Study Group

My latest Bible study, Everyday Obedience—a 4-week study of Colossians 3:1-17is my favorite of the Everyday series. Why? Because this passage is FILLED with critical theology that must take up residence in our heart and minds if we want to experience life-long transformation and intimacy with God. Truths that will truly transform your spiritual life.

I’ve said it again and again, and I’ll say it as long as I have breath—the greatest measure of spiritual growth is NOT what we look like on the outside. The yardstick of maturity in Christ is how accurate our view of God is. Because, actions can be faked. Behavior can be modified. But seeing God for who He truly is? It alters us. Understanding the truth of all He’s done for us so that we can be in His presence and enjoy Him forever? That is life-changing.

In Everyday Obedience, I’m not going to waste your precious time by piling up more commands for you to heed. I have no desire to give you yet another list of rules to follow. Besides, I’m assuming you already have more than you can manage. Throwing more obstacles into our path will not help us toward victory. More rules do not intrinsically lead to more obedience. Simply trying harder doesn’t work.

You and I can never obey perfectly. Ever. The rule-following, try-harder life leads to either burnout and frustration, or self-dependence and man-made righteousness. Neither of which leads to the abundant life Jesus promises.

In this easy-to-use, 4-week study, you’ll learn how to let go of the lifestyle of guilt-based behavior and discover the secret to a joy-filled, shame-free, everyday obedience. Each day’s work can be completed in as little as 15 minutes a day and it will teach you how to study the Bible as you work through it.

I’ll be leading an online group through Everyday Obedience and I hope you’ll join me! I’ll have daily check-ins for you and live videos to cheer you on along the way. There is a thriving, amazing group of women in the Bible Study Hub—a private Facebook group I’ve created to encourage and equip you to ENJOY God’s Word. All you’ll need to do is join the Bible Study Hub (I’ll send you right to it once you fill out the form below and confirm your email!) then grab a copy of Everyday Obedience. You can purchase one at your local LifeWay store (call ahead to make sure they have it in stock!), on Amazon (Prime ships QUICK!!), as well as several other online retailers. Nook, Kindle, and ePub versions are also available for immediate download.

Links above may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks for your support!

Join the Online Study Group

  • WHAT: Studying through Everyday Obedience (4 weeks – 5 days a week – 15 minutes a day!))
  • WHEN: October 23rd – November 17th
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form, and then purchase a copy of Everyday Obedience.
  • BONUS GIVEAWAY!!: Leave a comment below and share this post with a friend! I’ll pick a random commenter and social media sharer to receive a package of goodies!!

 

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Free Ephesians Reading Plan and Scripture Print

There are two needed ways to study the Bible, and it’s important for us to engage in both types of study.

  1. The Bird’s Eye View – This is where we get a quick yet needed lay of the land. This “arial” view grants us the big picture of the Bible. The goal here to enjoy the book as a whole. It is NOT time to glean everything out of it that we can.
  2. The Bug’s Life – This is where we can dig in and dissect the parts, notice the details, and begin to process what it all means.

Reading plans are designed to provide us with The Bird’s Eye View. Both perspectives are needed over time, but it is important that we keep the goal of each in mind.

Many of you are already a part of the Bible Study Hub, a private group for those wanting extra accountability and encouragement to get (and STAY!) in the Word on a regular basis. I’ve been mapping out opportunities for BOTH of these ways to study the Bible. As one who tends towards The Bug’s Life, I’ve really enjoyed the addition of these smaller Bird’s Eye View reading plans to my study time.

Join 12 Days in Ephesians

I’m excited for this new study tool! The 12 Days in Ephesians reading plan is simple, flexible, and geared toward helping us get a quick overview study of the book of Ephesians.

  • WHAT: Reading through Ephesians (15 minutes a day pace)
  • WHEN: October 9-21 (Includes a day of CONTEXT)
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

Once you sign up and confirm your email, I’ll send you a welcome packet via email which includes:

  • 12 day reading plan through Ephesians
  • BONUS: Printable reading plan bookmark
  • BONUS: Free 4×6 Ephesians Scripture print
  • BONUS: Printable Journal Pages tailored for the Pauline Epistles with study options if you want to go deeper

 Are you in? Have you studied Ephesians before? What do you enjoy the most, The Bug’s Life or The Bird’s Eye view? Share with us in the comments!

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How do I forgive when I don’t feel like it?

I’m excited to share about the next online study for the Bible Study Hub—a thriving online community of women encouraging one another to get in the Word! This study is written by my good friend and ministry partner, Lara Williams. I would probably not be writing Bible studies today if it were not for Lara. Back in 2011, I asked her if she would co-author a book I had on my heart but felt unable to write myself (I had a LOT of learning to do about the craft of writing). She said yes and 8 months later, we published Savoring Living Water (affiliate link). About a month after that, we finally met in person. Crazy how the internet connects.

Lara is an incredibly gifted writer, but she also walks with intimately with Jesus and this is evident in all her projects. All that to say, I’m super-excited to dive into Life Giver next week and I would LOVE for you to join me. In this 4-week Bible study, Lara teaches us how we can be life givers in our relationships. Below is an excerpt from this study.


We can probably all agree that forgiveness is best. Forgiveness, even of those who wrong us deeply, proves to be freedom for us. But there’s one little thing that often gets in the way: our feelings.

I’m a girl. And let me tell you. As a girl, I’ve got lots and lots of feelings. And I’ve got feelings about those feelings and feelings about those feelings. Ad infinitum. So, when someone wrongs me, lots of feelings come to the surface and beg my attention. They typically insist that I act vengeful with fingers pointing and a few “how dare you(s)” thrown in for added drama.

But the thing about feelings is that even though they are very real, and often justified, they don’t always lead us to the right action. Remember what Jeremiah said about our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, I don’t think my feelings have ever told me to forgive my enemies. Ever.

Yet Jesus commands forgiveness, for our good and His glory. And He means for it to be an act of our will, not necessarily an act of our emotions.

Forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. — Colossians 3:13

We have a choice. Regardless of our feelings, in Christ we have the choice to forgive even when we’re desperately hurting. And that choice will bring soul-blessing.

God gives us boundaries and commands to protect us. He loves us – perfectly and fully. He knows us – perfectly and fully. And because He designed us, He knows what will lead us to our most blessed existence. When it comes to relationships, we will give life to others when we choose to forgive, regardless.

How Do I Forgive?

The question becomes, “How do I forgive, especially when I’m hurting?” The answer? We turn to the One who forgives out of His amazing grace. We pray. We press hard into our Lord — the Forgiver of all sin. We seek refuge in Him and trust His covering. We meditate on what He says about forgiveness. We live authentic lives, allowing others to walk with us down the tearful road of releasing the debt we want another to pay. And then we believe God to do the heart-healing work that only He can do.

Feelings take time to line up with the willful forgiveness. But feelings eventually come. They will come. But until they do we command our soul towards obedience.

Forgiveness sets us free to love. It sets us free to give of ourselves without the need for others to do anything in return, because we’ve found fulness in our Lord. We see that everyone is the same — needy for a Healer and Redeemer. And when we see people through the lens of grace, unforgiveness has no place.

Moving Forward

Spend some time in honest conversation with the Lord. Confess any harbored unforgiveness. Tell God your honest feelings – He already knows. Then speak truth over those feelings. Declare the verses we meditated upon this week regarding forgiveness. You may want to seek out a trusted friend to pray for you and with you as you walk the road of forgiving another. But however you get there, release others from a debt that’s already been paid. Grace is the only road to becoming a life giver.


Join the 4-week Life Giver online study group!

  • WHEN: 9/10/2017 – 10/6/2017
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub
  • HOW TO JOIN: Purchase your study for as little as $4.99, join the Facebook group, and dive into the conversation beginning next week!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want the physical workbook, order your copy ASAP so you can get it before the study starts on Monday!

Who’s in? Who’s excited?!

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What do I need to know about the book of Proverbs?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #4

From the ideals promoted in the “Proverbs 31 Woman,” to the promise of Proverbs 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.) there is much we can glean from the book of Proverbs. Yet many struggle to understand exactly how to apply these wisdom sayings to everyday living. In this 15 minute podcast episode, we chat about some of the important principles to keep in mind as you study this book of wisdom.

What do I need to know about Proverbs?

  • Proverbs is one of the books of Wisdom Literature
  • AUTHOR: There are several authors
    • First 29 chapters were written or collected/adapted/grouped together by King Solomon
    • Proverbs 30 – written by Agur
    • Proverbs 31 – first half written by Lemuel
  • AUDIENCE: Fairly broad audience. Solomon was a collector of wisdom, and spent much time collecting
  • AIM: To provide wisdom from God for everyday life.
  • INTERPRETATION NOTES:
    • The wisdom found in Proverbs is intended to be general principles, not guaranteed promises.
    • The Proverbs should be read like poetry, with imagery present. Not everything can be taken literally.
    • Make sure any potential interpretation from a proverb can be confirmed by the rest of Scripture.
  • Listen in to the podcast for more tips!

SERMONS ON THE BOOK OF PSALMS:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

 

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FREE Colossians Reading Plan and Scripture Print

I’m excited to announce the arrival of a new reading plan!

Join 9 Days in Colossians

It will be simple, flexible, and geared toward helping us get a quick overview study of the book of Colossians.

  • WHAT: Reading through Colossians (at a 10-15 verses a day pace)
  • WHEN: September 1-10
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

Once you sign up, I’ll send you a welcome packet via email which includes:

  • 9 day reading plan through Colossians
  • Printable reading plan bookmark
  • Printable Journal Pages tailored for the Pauline Epistles with study options if you want to go deeper
  • Free 4×6 Scripture print

 Are you in? Have you studied Colossians before? Share with us in the comments!

 

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What if I don’t enjoy studying the Bible?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #3

Ever been in a place where you don’t have a desire to study the Bible? If this is you, you are NOT alone. This is a common struggle every Christian has dealt with. In this quick 15 minute episode, Chris and I share a few reasons WHY this might be the case, as well as several practical steps to take in order move forward!

What if I don’t enjoy studying the Bible?

There are many potential reasons for why we may not enjoy reading the Bible, but here are three of the most common reasons why many find it hard to open the Word.

  • Running and hiding – All too often, our response to our failures is to run away from God. Instead of experiencing the mercy of God by drawing near to the throne of grace, we believe the lie that it would be better to hide our sin and keep our distance.
  • Spiritual pride – Some get to the point where they feel they’ve read it all and have answered all the big questions they’ve had about the Bible. The felt need for learning more and knowing God better has diminished.
  • Comparison to a past spiritual high – Sometimes we open our Bible and we feel God speaking in incredible ways. This often happens when we first come to Christ, or while attending a conference or retreat. It is exciting to feel the sudden stirrings of a truth that changes everything for us, or a much-needed comfort of a promise delivered during a time of need. But these “feel-good” moments do not occur every time we approach Scripture, and it is easy to get stuck feeling like time in the Word is not worth it if we don’t immediately feel something.

So, we’ve all been there. Now what? Here are 6 actions to take if you find yourself lacking a desire for Scripture.

  • Be encouraged! The fact that this lack of desire bothers you is a good sign. God is working in you!
  • Pray. It is God’s will for you to be in the Word. If you ask Him to grant your heart a longing for time in the Bible, He will answer that prayer because that request is in line with God’s will.
  • Act in faith, not on your feelings. Feelings are deceptive and poor guides. Move ahead in obedience, with the expectant faith that God will answer your prayer to stir up a passion for His Word.
  • Quit comparing. In the age of Pinterest, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling that our time in the Word needs to look like so-and-so’s. Though it can be helpful to see how others spend their time in the Bible, we must not give into trying to one-up what everyone else is doing.
  • Manage your expectations. We must let go of the thought that our “quiet times” must be a certain length, depth, and with a particular ambience to be worthwhile. Have 1 minute? Take it. Not exactly sure what to study? Start somewhere. Have no idea what you just read? Trust that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to what you need to see, when you need to see it. His Word does not return void. Any time in the Bible is good.
  • Remember. Recall what is true about God and who you are because of Christ. God is not going to reject you because you don’t always want to open your Bible. His acceptance of you is not dependent on your actions. Preach the gospel to your heart and remember that you are loved unconditionally.

HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

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Recommended resources for studying the Psalms

When God opens your eyes you’re going to see things you never saw before, you’re going to hear things you never heard before, you’re going to know things you never knew before because God the Holy Spirit is going to teach you. — Adrian Rogers

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. — Psalm 119:18

I’m gearing up for an overview study of Psalms, which will be the beginning of an in-depth study of several individual Psalms. Whenever I get ready to study a passage in depth, I always zoom out and start at the “bird’s-eye-view” first.

Typically, I’ll listen to sermons from teachers I trust (DesiringGod.org, The Village Church Resources, and Radical.net are my go-to’s.) and also purchase a few books and commentaries. Sometimes I’ll listen and read before I start any sort of study, just to prime the pump for the big-picture themes to look out for, but I try not to get too in-depth before I study for myself. I’ll also listen and read as I go, using the commentaries when I hit sticky passages that I’m not sure of their meaning.

What do I need to start studying the Psalms?

First off, start with prayer. Whether you have a Ph.D. or haven’t set foot in a seminary class, the most important action to take when we approach Scripture is to pray. Every time we open God’s Word, we ought to declare our need for the Spirit of God to open our eyes to the meaning, it’s implications to our lives, as well as our desperate need for grace.

Beyond the spiritual preparation, there is much we can do to arm ourselves with a few tools to help with the journey. Here are some resources I’m investing in (or already have) that you might be interested in as well.

Here are some blog posts and/or podcasts on praying through the Psalms:

How do you prepare to study? Have any resources to add to the list?


Join the 31 Days in the Psalms Online Bible Study Group

  • WHAT: Reading through the Psalms (at about a 5 Psalms a day pace)
  • WHEN: August 1-31st, 2017
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

 

 

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Five ways to study a large portion of the Bible

“I rejoice at every effort to see the big picture of the Bible. The whole story. The narrative from creation to consummation. The clearer the whole, the clearer the parts. And the more clearly we see the parts, the more accurately we will construe the whole.”  — John Piper

There are two needed viewpoints when it comes to Bible study. The one I most often talk about and love to teach people how to use is what I liken to Disney’s A Bug’s Life movie. Seeing the world at that zoomed-in perspective allows us to see details that cannot be enjoyed at a normal vantage point.

However, there is another important perspective we can use to study I like to refer to as the “bird’s-eye-view.” If you’ve flown on a plane and enjoyed a window seat, you know a new appreciation and knowledge of a city can be gained by viewing it at that altitude. You can see the structure and order (or lack of order) in the way the roads are situated, and how the city moves along the river, mountain, and/or other prominent features.

As I get ready to approach the Psalter once again—in view of diving deeper into a select few—I want to be able to see the collection of Psalms as a whole. In general, this is a great practice to incorporate into preparation for any deep study, especially if you are not super-familiar with the big picture of that portion of Scripture. Even if it is familiar territory, there is typically more to see and enjoy on every subsequent trip through the Bible. I brainstormed several options for this bird’s-eye journey through Psalms. These can also be used for another other large portion of Scripture.

How do I study a large passage of Scripture?

Here are five ways to approach a large section of the Bible. Any one of these would be great way to get an overview of a book of the Bible. You might start with the Psalms, Acts, any of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), for a new perspective on more familiar territory, or give yourself a challenge and use this through one of the major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.), Revelation, or Old Testament Narratives (Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Judges, etc.).

  1. Read and Underline – Grab a reading plan and a pen or Bible highlighter, and just mark anything that stands out to you.
  2. Read and Write – This is a great way to slow down and enjoy each word. If you don’t have time to write out the entire passage you plan to read, just pick out one or two verses from the day’s passage and write them out in your journal.
  3. Read and Pray – Turn the words on the page into a prayer as you read. When you come across a truth about God, praise Him for who He is. If you find a command, proclaim a resolve to follow it and invite the Holy Spirit to enable you to obey. When the author records his own prayer or godly desires, agree with it in your heart, or consider writing it out in your own words as a cry of your own soul.
  4. Read and Observe – This is a deeper option, and will take a bit more time. As you read each chapter, wear one pair of “glasses” to help you begin to observe that one topic. Choose one color of pen to represent each layer, or create a simple chart in your journal to record what you find. Here are a few great layers to look for:
    1. Character of God – Who is God? What does He do?
    2. Covenant promises – What about God and the good news of the gospel can I cling to?
    3. Commands to keep – Are there any attitudes and/or actions to adopt and/or avoid?
  5. Read and Memorize – The memorization part will most likely carry on for much longer than the period of time in takes you to read through the passage. However, memorizing key portions of a book of the Bible can really unlock the meaning of the rest of the book. For example, I memorized Romans 8 several years back and anytime I read or study parts of Romans, I tend to see the important connections to the truths expounded on in chapter 8.

Consider trying one (or all) of these out on a smaller book of the Bible first. This will give you a better idea for how long it will take you to get through a larger book, as well as let you see which is most enjoyable to you. We all learn differently. Find what works for you. Tweak it. Make it your own.

Let me know how it goes!

Have you studying an entire book at one time? If not, which would you like to? If you have studied a book like this, which one did you go through? How long did it take? What was your experience like?


Join the 31 Days in the Psalms Online Bible Study Group

  • WHAT: Reading through the Psalms (at about a 5 Psalms a day pace)
  • WHEN: August 1-31st, 2017
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

 

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31 Days in the Psalms FREE Reading Plan

“The other Scriptures speak to us, but the Psalms speak for us.” — Athanasius (AD 296–373)

My heart has been drawn to the Psalms lately. I’ve memorized several over the past few years, and plan to do more. I’ve been so grateful for the truth, comfort, and alignment they’ve provided for my soul. I’ve been tossing around the idea of creating another FOCUSed15 series, similar to the Everyday series, but all centered around a small Psalm. They would be stand-alone studies, but complement one another.

But before I can get there, I really want to re-read through all 150 Psalms first. Getting a good “bird’s-eye-view” is always a good first step to deeper study. I put a feeler out on social media to see if anyone would be interested in joining me in a quick overview of the Psalms. The response was huge and I’ve been planning ever since.

Join 31 Days in the Psalms

I’m excited to announce this new resource, which will provide a structure to follow together. It will be simple, flexible, and geared toward helping us get a quick overview study of the book of Psalms.

  • WHAT: Reading through the Psalms (at about a 5 Psalms a day pace)
  • WHEN: August 1-31st, 2017
  • WHERE: The Bible Study Hub Facebook group
  • HOW TO JOIN: Fill out this form!

Once you sign up, I’ll send you a welcome packet via email which includes:

  • 31 day reading plan through the Psalms
  • Printable reading plan bookmark
  • Printable Journal Pages tailored for the Psalms and filled with study options if you want to go deeper
  • Free 4×6 Psalm 119:33 print


Are you in? What’s one of your favorite Psalms? Why? Share with us in the comments!

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Three tips for establishing a regular quiet time routine

One of the excuses I often hear (and have given myself!) for not having a consistent quiet time is, “I’m too busy for Bible study.” Truly, you and I know this is not quite true. We all have discretionary time—we just don’t always use that time as well as we could.

Life is a journey, and so is the road to consistent time in the Word. One of the biggest hurdles to staying in the Word is NOT busyness, but it IS lack of a habit. If we can develop a routine that includes Bible study—even if it is just minutes a day—we will reap the benefits of a deeper walk with Christ. Having a rhythm in our days that naturally leads us into the Word is one of the most fruitful pursuits we can spend time on. I’ve found one such fruit of establishing a Bible study habit is a greater HUNGER for more time in the Word and a deeper DESIRE for meaningful Bible study.

Here are three tips that have helped me in establishing (and keeping) a regular time for Bible reading, study, and memorization.

Three tips for establishing a regular Bible study routine

  • Find a trigger. When I have coffee, then I read my Bible. That’s my trigger. Instead of trying to make 6 AM or 11PM my hard and fast quiet time, I’ve had much more success in folding Bible study into the rhythm of my day. So whether I wake up at 7 AM or slept in until noon, my Bible study is part of my morning routine.
  • Find a space. Once you carve out time to sit and study, it’s helpful to have everything ready and waiting in an inviting place for you to start. This will help keep you from wasting time looking for a pen or your Bible. Whether it be an armchair in your bedroom or the living room sofa, have a basket or drawer filled with all you might need to spend time with God. If you have multiple copies, consider designating one Bible for this space and another for Sunday morning sermon notes. I have a Sunday bag that has everything I need for the service, including my journal Bible which I only use for that time. This frees me up to have other resources handy on the shelf near my “quiet time” space in my home office.
  • Find a group. This is especially helpful if you are trying to build momentum and need accountability and encouragement. The first few weeks of a new habit are always the most difficult, and groups—whether they’ve been online or in “real life”—have been just the catalyst I’ve needed to keep going after the excitement wears off on day two of my endeavor.

What has been helpful for you when establishing a new routine?


There is a new resource out—Refresh Your Routines from Homemaking Ministries—that will help you develop the daily habit of time with God (and other important elements of your routine). This quick and easy FREE e-course includes 4 video sessions, a flexible (non-dated!) printable Bible reading plan/checklist, daily disciplines checklist, a 31-day habit tracker, and more!!⠀

Consider downloading these FREE printables, find a trigger, a space, and then gather a few friends to try it out together. (I’m planning to host a group through The Psalms in August, so you can join me then, also!)