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I’ve been slowly working on our backyard. Though it is nice and green and beautifully paved, I’m not in love with the arrangement of plants.

Whenever I get a few moments of free time in the early evening, once the Florida heat begins to lessen, you can find me digging up and replanting plants. Some of them are growing great but have outgrown their spot. Others are struggling because they are not getting enough sun. Some are getting too much. So I keep my hands busy in the garden, giving attention to each plant to find the perfect situation for each, but always keeping in mind the big-picture view.

With the same intentionality and care, each of us have been hand-placed by God exactly where we are. You and I are part of His big-picture garden plan. A purposeful planting. The work of His hands. As individuals, we are precious to God . . . but we are also a part of the whole. He did not plant us in isolation. And we are not the center of His world. The end goal of our planting is not simply for our own enjoyment and prosperity. Our place in history and location in geography is no accident. You and I have been personally planted and perfectly placed exactly where we are for a reason: to display the glory of God to those around us.

We see this truth way back in Genesis through the command to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). He gives it again in His covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1) and with Israel (Genesis 35:10). To Abraham, God promised to make him extremely fruitful (Genesis 17:6). And at the heart of the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law given to Moses for God’s people, is for the thriving of both the individual and the nation. And while this charge to be fruitful and multiply certainly includes the bearing and raising up of children who know and love God, this command is not primarily one of physical fruitfulness. It is a spiritual fruitfulness. The heart of the commands of both the Old and New Testament is that of our spiritual growth. God has given us the recipe for living a spiritually fruitful life, in order that we would be fruitful followers of God. His plan has always been for our flourishing and so that He may be glorified. This is why we exist, to give God glory with the way we live our lives, because it is through the beautiful blooming of the Happy Soul that others see her heavenly Father.

The Spirit of the Lord God is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives

and freedom to the prisoners;

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

and the day of our God’s vengeance;

to comfort all who mourn,

to provide for those who mourn in Zion;

to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

festive oil instead of mourning,

and splendid clothes instead of despair.

And they will be called righteous trees,

planted by the Lord

to glorify him.

Isaiah 61:1–3

The Old Testament is filled with prophecy, the foretelling of truths to come. These verses foretold much about Christ, the promised Messiah who would come to earth to rescue His people.

Jesus will bring good news to the poor.

Jesus will bring healing to the brokenhearted.

Jesus will bring liberty to the captives.

Jesus will bring justice, comfort, beauty, rejoicing, and hope.

We are the poor, the brokenhearted, captives in need of great help. This is the point where many teachers and preachers, books and blog posts might tell you that Jesus loved you so much that He gave up everything to come to earth and rescue you. And He did. But this is not the end of the story. There is more. And while Jesus indeed loves us with a great love, and this love was one big factor for why He came to earth, it is not His primary motivation; it is not His ultimate purpose. What Isaiah foretold as the purpose of why Jesus came (and the purpose Jesus himself stated again and again for coming) was for the glory of the Lord our God.

Do you see it there, tucked away at the end of this Isaiah passage? It’s the very last part: “to glorify him.” The good news is proclaimed to us—the bound and the mourning, the faint and the brokenhearted—so that we might be a “righteous tree, planted by the Lord,” so that we can “glorify him.” God has rescued us from our hopeless state, gifted us new life, and firmly planted us. All this for His glory.

The end goal of Jesus’ coming was not our rescue.

The end goal of our salvation is not our salvation.

The end goal of becoming a Happy Soul is not simply being a Happy Soul.

The end goal of Jesus’ coming was God’s glory.

The end goal of our salvation is God’s glory.

The end goal of becoming a Happy Soul is God’s glory.

The Happy Soul exists to bring God glory.

This is the piece we often miss. Yes, we are recipients of mercy. Yes, we are beneficiaries of grace. But the implications of these truths are not to simply give us a healthy self-esteem. What is true of us because of Christ is not the end of the story. All of what God has done for us is for a greater purpose than just our salvation. The rescue of our souls from sin and the bestowing of every spiritual gift was all done for His glory. We have been saved to be a reflection of our Savior. The Happy Soul gets this, and it shapes everything she does—and doesn’t do—because the Happy Soul exists to bring God glory.

I am a recipient of deep mercy.

I am a beneficiary of glorious grace.

I exist to bring glory to God.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.

Hallelujah!

Psalm 150:6


This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.

Secret #1– The Happy Soul is FOCUSED on God

Secret #2 – The Happy Soul is RESOLVED to follow God’s Way

Secret #3 – The Happy Soul is ATTACHED to God’s Word

Secret #4– The Happy Soul is DEPENDENT on God’s provision.

Secret #5– The Happy Soul is CONFIDENT in who she is.

Secret #6– The Happy Soul is SURRENDERED to her King.

A few years ago I was invited to speak at a women’s conference in my hometown in Southern California. Since my family relocated to Alabama a few weeks after I graduated from high school, it had been decades since I’d been in that town. I arrived a bit early to visit with family, catch coffee with a few high school friends, and wander around my old stomping grounds. It was an extremely emotional trip for me as I remembered the girl who grew up in that town and all God has done for her since then.

The conference was hosted at a church just a few miles from where I attended high school. During the break on Saturday, I drove my rental car over to the school campus so I could walk around campus a bit. It’s a small private school, and it was basically the same as I remembered it, with a few additions. The same small chapel stood where I used to hear God’s Word taught every Friday. The same beige lockers lined the outdoor hall of the high school wing. The same left-behind sweaters, assignments, and notebooks were strewn about, cluttering the hall. As I walked the hall, smiling as the memories flooded over me, one locker stopped me in my tracks.

On top of that locker was a Bible.

Scribbled on and dog-eared.

Pages torn and spine destroyed.

Abandoned until Monday.

Awaiting to be flippantly thrown into a backpack and brought to Bible class.

It looked just like mine had when I was there. It was being treated just like mine had been. And, most likely, the owner of that Bible lacks a love for their Bible just as I did. For so long I saw the Bible as just another textbook. A chore. A roadblock. A burden of guilt. As I type, I am weeping at the memory—that I ever had such a casual distain for the Word of God, that I forfeited so much time with Him and took on so much trouble without Him when I could have been enjoying the benefits of being a Happy Soul. Deep down, I had been re-named a Happy Soul. I could feel it. I knew there had to be something more but I had no idea how to obtain it. I didn’t know how to enact change. My view of God was off. I could follow the do’s and don’ts, but I didn’t know how to get closer to God himself. And I certainly didn’t love God’s Word.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Perhaps you are there right now. Your Bible may not be as physically neglected as the one I saw that Saturday afternoon, but it is neglected nonetheless. It gathers dust on a shelf, sits on the floorboard of your car throughout the week, or is lost somewhere in your bedroom. Or perhaps you are opening your Bible but are just going through the motions. You read. You check “read Bible” off your list. You close your Bible. You keep walking. There’s no attachment to the Word of God. No true closeness to God. There’s no awe and wonder. There’s no overwhelming love and feelings of delight. You’d rather be enjoying the next Netflix episode or clinging to your Facebook feed instead of spending time with God through His Word.

… Most of us don’t have a delighting problem. We delight in and enjoy many things just fine. God has created us for pleasure. Just think about it. God created our bodies to enjoy things! Eating food is primarily about keeping alive, yet we’ve been given taste buds and a variety of sweet and savory food to eat. Functionally speaking, sex is about keeping the human race going, yet God has wired male and female bodies to enjoy one another. There is no room for doubt: God created us to experience deep delight. 

… Jesus made this clear in a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. We don’t know her name, but we know that Jesus saw her at the well and knew her emptiness. It is likely that she’d been mistreated and cast aside most her life. As Jesus pursued her broken heart, he chatted with her about the well water: “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life” (John 4:13–14). Not long after this encounter, while addressing the crowds of people, Jesus claimed, “I am the bread of life . . . No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again” (John 6:35). Jesus taught that only He could satisfy our deepest desires. And the Bible shows us how to come to Jesus with our cravings. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37–38 ESV).

Our salvation brings a quenching to our soul that we will enjoy for eternity. But as we pursue to work out our salvation—as we resolve to make our internal identity become an external reality—we have to keep drawing from the well of the Word, which grants us the way to the One who can satisfy our souls. God’s Word gives us perspective, instructions, and parameters needed to navigate this sin-stained world. It is our protection. Our hope. Our guide. Our grace.

I have your decrees as a heritage forever;

indeed, they are the joy of my heart.

I am resolved to obey your statutes

to the very end. — Psalm 119:111–112


This is an excerpt from my book, Secrets of the Happy Soul.

Secret #1– The Happy Soul is FOCUSED on God

Secret #2 – The Happy Soul is RESOLVED to follow God’s Way

Secret #3 – The Happy Soul is ATTACHED to God’s Word

Secret #4– The Happy Soul is DEPENDENT on God’s provision.

Secret #5– The Happy Soul is CONFIDENT in who she is.

Secret #6– The Happy Soul is SURRENDERED to her King.

I woke up this morning to discover that today, March 20, is the International Day of Happiness. I don’t usually pay much attention to the many, often obscure “holidays” (March 20 is also Extraterrestrial Abductions Day) but this one caught my attention. Since I just wrote a book on happiness I can’t help but notice our obsession with it.

My husband and I recently enjoyed watching the PBS mini-series, The Durrells in Corfu, and many times the main character, the widow Mrs. Durrell exclaims to her children, “I just want you all to be happy.” If her children are happy, then all she has endured for them would be worth it. As a mother, I can understand that sentiment.

Examples of our great desire for happiness abound. We all want to be happy. We may disagree on what actually provides happiness, but the desire for delight, peace, and satisfaction is ubiquitous.

Since 2012, the World Happiness Report arrives on this happy day. Utilizing data from the Gallup World Poll, nations are evaluated and ranked by the happiness of their people. I’m still learning about this report and I haven’t yet read it in it’s entirety, but it seems as if they’ve determined that social, physical, and economic environments contribute to our happiness. Finland was determined to be the happiest nation in the world for the third straight year. (Interestingly, a huge percentage of the top 10 happiest nations are Nordic.)

The report emphasizes the correlation between trust and happiness: if we can trust the people around us and the public institutions tasked to serve our community, our happiness will increase.

On the surface, there is much to observe from this report. However, as Christians, we have been given a different measuring stick for happiness. A different set of values. A different starting point.

Being a Happy Soul is something that is gifted to us through Christ. That’s the starting point.

Happy!

This is my identity. Already complete. Completely fulfilled. Fruitful. Resilient. Known. Righteous. This is your identity too. And as we choose to believe this to be true—regardless of how we feel and despite what our circumstances demand—our inward identity becomes our outward reality more and more and more. When we follow God in surrender and serve Him with all that we have, we make the choice to live as if God is indeed our King. As we recognize our need for the powerful, protecting presence of God in our every moment, and as we choose to hide ourself in Him as our home, we can confidently declare with the psalmist that “all who take refuge in him are happy.” — excerpt from Secrets of the Happy Soul

Yet our environment does indeed matter. But it’s not primarily physical, social, or economic factors that determine our experience of the happiness Christ died to bring us. It is our spiritual environment that must be measured.

When we are thriving spiritually, our physical, social, and economic situations don’t have so much pull on us.

They affect us, yes. But they don’t shake us.
They are important but not vital.
They can be all out-of-whack while our souls stay serene, steady, happy.

Why? Because there is a big worldview difference between those who rest in the salvation found in Jesus and those who do not. This difference is this: our end goal is not happiness. Our aim is to know God better, trust Him deeper, and enjoy His presence nearer. Happiness is merely a by-product of knowing Him.

In Secrets of the Happy Soul we start off with seeing that those who are in Christ are already Happy. It is our new status, our name. Happy is who we are. Yet we have work to do to make our new identity become an external reality. So, also, do we have the privilege and responsibility to share about the One who has made us Happy.

The Bible has much to say about our minds and how we are to use our minds to know and worship the God of all wisdom and insight. Here are eight truths found in Scripture that ought to inform and shape our thoughts.

There is a battle for our thought life and we must engage this battle.

2 Corinthians 10:3–6

[3] For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. [4] For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. [5] We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, [6] being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (ESV)

Romans 7:22–23

[22] For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, [23] but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (ESV)

Our minds can be hardened and blinded.

2 Corinthians 3:14–16

[14] But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. [15] Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. [16] But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 4:3–4

[3] And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. [4] In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (ESV)

Our minds need reforming from the default of this world.

Romans 12:2

[2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)

Christians are given the mind of Christ and spiritual understanding

1 Corinthians 2:16

[16] “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (ESV)

Luke 24:45

[45] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (ESV)

1 John 5:20

[20] And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (ESV)

Philippians 2:5

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (ESV)

Christians are to set their minds on the things of God.

Romans 8:5–6

[5] For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. [6] For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (ESV)

Mark 8:33

[33] But turning and seeing his disciples, [Jesus] rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (ESV)

Colossians 3:2

[2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (ESV)

Our worship to and love of God ought to include the use of our minds. (Worship is not merely emotional.)

1 Corinthians 14:15

[15] What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. (ESV)

Mark 12:30

[30] And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (ESV)

There is an expectation that we grow in the area of our thought life.

1 Corinthians 14:20

[20] Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (ESV)

There is a relationship between our thought life and our experience of God’s presence.

Philippians 4:6–8

[6] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [7] And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [8] Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)

Lamentations 3:21–23

[21] But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
[22] The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
[23] they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (ESV)

Isaiah 26:3–4

[3] You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
[4] Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. (ESV)

It’s a downright fight for me to remember the reason for the season: celebrating Emmanuel, God with us. Amidst (what seems like) endless parties, shopping lists, and family gatherings, the season gearing up to Christmas Day is typically rushed and stressful. Beyond this busyness is a constant temptation to indulge. From grandma’s cooking to the latest and greatest gadget, the inclination of my heart and flesh to be gratified through toys and treats is given continual opportunity to think about self. My wants. My wishes. My will.

So, yes, busyness is a problem. Excessiveness and self-gratification, too. But the biggest hurdle in the way of celebrating and honoring Christ this Christmas is not primarily in the external distractions—it’s in my propensity to want what I want, how I want it, when I want it. I forget that life is not all about me. Christmas surely isn’t either. I must be intentional to remember that Christmas is, indeed, about Christ. It’s not primarily about celebrating time with family, making memories for the children in our lives, or showing love through gift-giving. Christmas is a celebration of Christ our Savior.

The actions you and I take during this Christmas season (and every other day of the year) are important. We exist to worship God. Yes, God has given us good gifts to enjoy, family to love, and a community to serve. But every party we attend, conversation we engage, and shopping trip we make ought to have an attitude of worship as the undercurrent. A desire to honor and glorify the God who sent His only Son for us should permeate our days. As we enter this Christmas season, let’s do so with a view toward worship and turn our hearts toward the glad tidings the coming of Christ bring to our souls.

p.s. If you are looking for a study to help you to just that—point your heart toward the significance of the coming of Christ, join me for this 12-day journey. Let’s set our gaze on Christ this Christmas!

Christmas Bible Study

December is buuuuuusy. This Christmas study will help you remember the reason for the season through a Christmas hymn and  two timely passages a day.

Learn more here.

 

A few months ago, I got invited to do a podcast interview for At the Table with Jacki King, a part of the ministry of the SBC Women’s Leadership Network. Super excited and honored, I agreed and we began working to schedule a time to chat. When I received the questions for the interview, I was actually quite surprised. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but most of the questions were geared toward being a Bible teacher. I guess it surprised me, because there are so many women she could have asked to talk about this topic that are more seasoned than me.

One of the questions she asked was about the barriers I’ve faced as a woman Bible teacher, and through the process of preparing for that question, I’ve realized that my biggest barrier has been me, myself, and I. The self-doubt and limitations I’ve placed on my own calling and ministry in so many ways. Even the fact that I was surprised that Jacki would want to chat about these things with me points to this reality.

Yet the more I prepared for the interview, and the more we chatted, I realized I do have something of value to say and maybe I’m not as green and inexperienced as I think I am. Now, I certainly want to err on the side of caution and humility over thinking I have it all together. But I am excited for this episode to arrive. It is very different than most of my podcast interviews. It is geared for a specific audience: women of the Southern Baptist Convention, but will apply to any woman who has considered the calling to teach the Bible to other women.

You can catch the full episode here.

Here is an excerpt.

What are some of those first steps to really developing as a Bible teacher?

It absolutely starts with learning how to study the Bible and walking with God on your own.

If you’re thinking you want to get on a platform and teach the Word you better know how to study the Word. Teaching is a heavy responsibility. Gratefully, we have the Spirit of God within us and I fully believe He changes words that come out of my mouth when needed. None of us is perfect. But teaching the Word effectively has to start with learning how to study the Bible. If you don’t feel like you know how to go to the Bible, open to any page, and know the steps to take to study correctly, then I feel we have no business putting ourselves out there as a Bible teacher.

As far as sharpening our skills, for me it is watching my husband. I’ve been watching him preach for over 10 years and my teaching style very much matches his because I learn so much from him. Watch the people that you learn from and mimic their structure as a starting point.

One book I’ve read that was helpful early on as I was learning the skill of crafting a teaching talk, is Preaching with Bold Assurance by Hershel York Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! . You’ve got to figure out your own system, but it helps to have a starting point. There are tons of books out there that actually teach you how to teach the Word.  I think some seminaries also have classes on teaching the Bible that you can audit, so that could be an option. It would be a much bigger commitment than reading a book, but you’ll learn a lot more from a seminary class.

I’ve figured out my own system over time. The more you do it, the more you’ll figure out what works for you and what your style is.

Listen to the full episode here.

Are you interested in taking the next steps toward speaking, writing, and/or leading online communities? I will be piloting a coaching course in 2020. Head here to get on the waiting list.

Ok, so this in no way is going to be able to be comprehensive, but I get asked all the time about my favorite tools for Bible study, so here is my attempt to round up those resources into one place!

The ESV Study Bible

A solid study Bible is an excellent first step toward better Bible study. My favorite study Bible is the ESV Study Bible. I’ve had mine for at least a decade AND it came with the e-version which I use at least weekly. I love having this amazing resource at my fingertips! Read more about my the best Study Bible I own here.

best study bible

Staedtler Pens

In the same post as above, I touch on why I love these Steadtler pens. I love the color choices, especially, and they fit perfectly with my FLEX 3-6-9 method of Bible Study. Here you can see how I use these pens. Read more about the pens here.

DaySpring’s Illustrating Bible

I looooooove this Bible. I put off buying it for a full year, because it is certainly an investment. But I have not had one ounce of buyer’s remorse! I used birthday money and a coupon to grab it from DaySpring. It is also available on Amazon. Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! I wish I had purchased it sooner! I really, truly love everything about it.

 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Galatians 2:20-21

Why we need to study the book of Galatians

The book of Galatians is filled with truths about the gospel—the good news of what Jesus has done to redeem us so that we can enjoy His presence for eternity. At first glance, it may seem that talk of circumcision and the Law is not applicable to us, but the motivations and mistakes hidden behind the traps the churches in Galatia found themselves in, also abound today.

Here is an excerpt from the Galatians Study Pack, where we study Galatians together. I have daily coaching videos to help you start out on the right foot and understand the cultural background behind the words we see on the page. Indeed, the book of Galatians holds much for each of us today.

One huge key to living a Christian life

So if you and I are trying to become right by any other means than depending on Christ righteousness on our behalf, we are denying the crucifixion of Christ. We are saying, “Jesus what you did on the cross was pretty awesome but I’ll take it from here because I gotta get I gotta clean myself up.”

We gotta quit this notion that I gotta clean myself up before I can come to Christ. We’re never ever ever gonna be able to clean ourselves up enough to come to Christ. Ever.

We come to Christ because we are broken.

We come to Christ because we are dirty.

We come to Christ because we are unrighteous.

And what does He gives us? He gives us grace. He gives us mercy and he gives us our very righteousness.

Go look up 2 Corinthians 5:20. It says that, “He made Him—Jesus—who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of Christ.”

He takes on our sins and then gives us His perfect righteousness. That is the only way to true justification. That is the only way to true righteousness. It is a gift that is given to us. It is not earned.

Then, when we really get that we have been given the righteousness of Christ, it is amazing motivation to worship and honor the sacrifice of Christ with my life.

Because God has made me righteous, I choose to live a righteous life.

Because God has made me perfect, I choose to walk in holiness.

I mess it up all the time but when I mess up, I have to turn right back and keep my eyes on Jesus and remember that he is given me righteousness and then it fuels me right again to continue in righteous living.

See what’s going on here is that we have this internal, inward foundational truths about us as Christians. Jesus has made me righteous. Jesus has made you righteous. If you have trusted him for salvation, if you trusted him to take care of your sin problem, he’s done it. He’s taking care of your sin problem. Your sin has been paid for and now you have His righteousness. That is true of who you are at the deepest part of who you are. You are righteous.

And so our work here on earth is sanctification. We get to join in what God is doing to make those inward truths become external reality so that over time I look more and more like Jesus. That is the working out of our salvation.

We already have salvation. It is within us. We have been given everything we need to live a godly life. We get to spend
the rest of our life working those truths out since they become more and more and more true of our everyday living.

Galatians Bible Study

You can access the rest of this teaching video and jump into the Galatians Bible study pack. Through this customizable Bible study through Galatians, you will better understand the gospel and the freedom we have in Christ. Whether you are brand new to Bible study, or a seasoned veteran, this Bible study pack will help you take your next step toward better Bible study—even if you have a busy schedule. All from the comfort of your own home!

Have you heard any teaching about strongholds? About taking your thoughts captive? Paul teaches us about strongholds in the New Testament:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”
2 Corinthians 10:3–6 ESV

Paul was writing to a very unhealthy, immature church in the very sin-filled city of Corinth. Sin had also permeated this church family … and with what seems like very little resistance. Paul has written to correct the church numerous times, and this last section of 2 Corinthians in the most severe of all. He is desperate for them to change and experience the joy of obedient christian living, and he attempts here to clue them in to the fact that they have a great enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy them through their disobedient actions AND thinking.

Here are two actions we can take when it comes to strongholds.

Recognize the reality of spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare can seem scary and overwhelming. Yet it is a reality often mentioned in Scripture. Here in 2 Corinthians, Paul teaches us about the “weapons of warfare” we are given through Christ. Since there is a spiritual battle all around us (Ephesians 6) we must ENGAGE the battle. He tells us of these weapons, not so they can be hung on a wall as trophies. They are to be employed! Specifically, Paul tells us here in 2 Corinthians 10 to use the weapons of warfare in order to destroy strongholds. These weapons are not of the flesh and they have divine power to destroy the strongholds in our lives.

Identify the strongholds

But what are these “strongholds?” Paul gives us three actions to take to help us identify the these dangerous strongholds in order to fight in the spiritual battle.

  • Destroy anything that is raised against the knowledge of God
  • Take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ
  • Be ready to punish every disobedience that pops up in our life

Strongholds in the Bible (Video)

In this video, I take a look at 2 Corinthians 10 as well as a bit of what the Old Testament has to say to help us understand the word stronghold in the Bible.

Resources mentioned in this video about strongholds in the Bible

Enter the video discussion here.

The Bible is not an easy read. Yet so many Christians approach the Bible as if they ought to be experts at what it contains. They believe that just by nature of being a Christian, Bible study should come naturally to them. I believed this lie for the longest time. I’m not sure I would have ever vocalized it as such, but my experience proved it. Instead of being a source of joy and delight, opening God’s Word was an activity filled with guilt and failure. It paralyzed me and left me feeling less-than for not having the amazing “quiet times” everyone else around me seemed to be having.

If you find yourself scratching your head when it comes time for Bible study, know that you are NOT alone. In fact, you are probably in the majority. But just because you’re in that boat doesn’t mean you have to stay there. The Bible is the primary way we can know God and the purpose He has for our lives. It is God’s revelation to us, His very words which tell us who He is and who we are because of Christ. It is a gift of grace, a treat to be enjoyed and savored. The Bible is filled with the spiritual nourishment our souls crave.

Here are 8 actions to take when you have no idea what you are reading:

1. PRAY.

2. ZOOM OUT AND GET THE BIG PICTURE.

3. BE SURE YOU ARE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

4. PHONE A FRIEND.

5. READ A COMMENTARY AND LISTEN TO A SERMON ON THE PASSAGE.

6. INVEST IN RESOURCES.

7. KEEP GOING.

8. REMIND YOURSELF OF THE END GOAL

Read more about each in my blog post over at LifeWay Voices.