Thursday, October 16, 2014

Back to the Basics-Study the Bible with Purpose


Study the Bible with Purpose
 

If the thought of Bible study intimidates you, you are not alone. Many people tell me that they fear they will not understand the Bible, therefore they do not even try.
 
You can study the Bible on your own, you can understand it and you can get the message God wants you to hear. To deepen your relationship with Christ, you must read and meditate on the Word.
 
Why should we read and study the Bible?

 Proverbs 4:20-22--Pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body.

John 15:3-You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

John 15:7-If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

Psalm 119:28-
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

Get a Bible that you like. Easy to read--a study Bible with tabs for the books of the Bible if needed. Learn it –touch it, feel it. Study online if that works for you.

If you prefer, you can listen the Bible on CD or download to your iPod. There is no wrong way.
 

There are many “methods” or techniques-below is one to get you started.

1. In this method you will study an entire book of the Bible. A good starting point with a shorter book would be the book of James, Titus, 1 Peter, or 1 John . Plan to spend 3-4 weeks on the book of your choice.


2. Often people avoid Bible study because they feel that they are unable to understand it. Before you start each study session, begin by praying and asking God to open your spiritual understanding. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us "
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.”


3. Read through the book you have chosen several times. Do not be distracted by what you may not understand-keep going. Read through the book as many times as you feel necessary while looking for themes and life application. The book of James, for example, contains the life application of living out the Word instead of just reading or "knowing" it. (Putting faith into action.)


4. Embark on a deeper understanding by reading the book again--this time verse by verse. Use a Bible dictionary to begin understanding the key words in each verse.


5. There are many resources available to help you dive deep into the Word. You do not necessarily have to buy a Bible Dictionary, Lexicon or Concordance. All of these resources are available online and many of them are free. There is a wealth of knowledge available to you.


6. Jesus said in Luke 11:28, "
But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice." Do not study just for study sake, but to learn and apply God's Word to your life. Live it out!


7. Once you've finished the first book, choose another one and follow the same steps. As you go, you will develop your own method and what works best for you.

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Got Guilt?


We have all messed up! It would easy to walk around trapped in guilt and at Satan’s beck and call. But God has forgiven and cleansed us. God did not send His son to condemn us, but rather that we would be set free from sin and its guilt.

Ask yourself this question: Why would God send His only son to die for your sins, if He planned on keeping you trapped in guilt and shame?

The answer is He wouldn’t. He didn’t. But even as a Christ follower, you may find yourself living a defeated life because of guilt and shame.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Guilt can be a motivator and lead us to repentance, which in turn will lead us to accepting God’s forgiveness. But left unchecked, guilt will limit our relationship with Jesus. It will stunt our spiritual growth. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17

 
Get free of past guilt!


Don’t let the enemy keep you in the guilt mode. There is conviction and there is condemnation. Conviction is from the Holy Spirit and is a prompting for us to pay attention.  Condemnation, on the other hand, is from the enemy and is meant to defeat us and keep us oppressed.

Don’t let others keep you in guilt. There may be people in your life who would like to keep you in guilt. They may remind you often of your past mistakes, sometimes unintentionally. Remember fact vs. truth. There are the facts of your past, then there is the truth that you are forgiven. Others are not your judge and jury. Once you have confessed to God and He has forgiven you....you are FREE!

Don’t hold yourself hostage.  Don’t stay in the "I deserve punishment" mode. If you are forgiven, and you are if you have asked for forgiveness, then you don't have to live with guilt! In choosing to stay there you are choosing to stay a victim. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This week, consider the following scriptures. Meditate on God’s word and ask Him to reveal any guilt you are carrying. Repent and ask for God’s forgiveness and truly accept it. Next, forgive yourself. Choose to live guilt free.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24

Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Matthew 3:2

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Col 3:13 

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1Corinthians 10:13

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:2

 















 




 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Integrity-Who Needs It?

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Psalm 119:1

Integrity is the quality, or state, of being complete or undivided. In other words, being the same person everywhere you go. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

As women of God, we should be separate from the "world". We are not to have a superior attitude, or have an attitude that everyone else is "less than". But, we are called to be separate in our character and as Christ followers we should be women of integrity.

Have you ever heard the saying that your life may be the only Bible some people read, or the only Jesus they will ever see? People want to know that integrity really exists and we can show that it does by how we live!

Integrity is not about perfection. A woman of integrity may still make mistakes or poor choices. The difference is that a woman of integrity will admit mistakes, repent and be forgiven all the while keeping openness about her.

In our devotions this week, let’s purpose to live as women of integrity. Read and meditate on the following scriptures. Ask the Lord to reveal to you His truth.

Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume. Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Leviticus 19:35-36

Women of integrity treat others fairly, whether it is in their relationships or business dealings.

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich. Proverbs 28:6

Integrity is more valuable than riches.


By this I know that You are well pleased with me, Because my enemy does not triumph over me. As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And set me before Your face forever. Psalm 41:11-12

Living a life of integrity will be rewarded.


In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility Titus 2:7

A life of integrity will serve as an example to other women

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Our Protection Plan-Psalm 91

Are you resting in the knowledge that the Lord will keep you safe no matter what the circumstance? Do you trust that His protection is both physical and spiritual? God has the ultimate protection plan for you!

Psalm 91 tells you that  God is your refuge, your protection, your place of safety. There may be times in your life where knowing that God is your protector will make all the difference. For devotions this week, read and meditate on Psalm 91. I suggest reading Psalm 91every day and then take a few verses at a time to ponder and study. The verses below are from the New Living Translation.

Verses 1-4
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Verses 5-8
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.
 
Verses 9-13
If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
 
Verses 14-16
The LORD says, "I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation."

Pray!

Pray Psalm 91 aloud and reading this as a prayer, meditating on every word and it' meaning. Take victory over your own personal fears.

Praying Psalm 91 will increase your faith! When you pray this scripture, you actually learn what God says about our protection. And by praying His Word you will see His Results. I’ve heard many stories regarding praying scriptures for healing and people have been healed. Why not pray scripture for your protection?

When we pray Psalm 91, we are turning the situation over to God. You're taking the situation out of your hands, and putting it in His hands. You're releasing it to God.

Commit to praying this psalm everyday this week. Not just reading it or praying automatically, but thinking about every word spoken. Pray it aloud as often as you can. Proclaim the word of God.

Further Study:

Listen to Coffee and the Word 3 part podcast teachings on Our Protection Plan.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 
 






 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Count It All Joy (A Study in James) Lesson 1

 Introduction
• The writer of this letter identifies himself as James. There are at least five men named James listed in the New Testament. Two were Jesus’ disciples and one was His brother. The book of James is thought to be written by Jesus’ brother.

• The letter was written prior to A.D. 62.

• The letter was addressed "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad". He is talking to the Jews scattered throughout Gentile lands, or "Jewish Christians."

Theme--Faith That Works.

Purpose/Content

The book of James is practical and ethical and places an emphasis on duty rather than doctrine. His main concern is that believers demonstrate their experience with Christ, rather than just act "religious". In other words, this is a "walk the talk" book.

James is directing us toward godly living. There are 108 verses and out of those, 54 clear commands are given. The mood of this letter is often described as "imperative" which means absolutely necessary or required. It’s a statement of Christian ethics.

Practical Application

This book is relevant to us because it is describes ethical living based on the gospel. James emphasizes personal growth in the spiritual life and sensitivity in social relationships.

"The message of James speaks especially to those who are inclined to talk their way to heaven instead of walk there." (New Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Christ is Revealed

James recognizes the Lordship of Jesus from the beginning of the letter where he calls himself a "bondservant" (NKJV) or "slave" (NLT) of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a close parallel between the content of the letter and the specific teachings of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. James doesn’t quote Jesus directly, but the instruction is reminiscent of Jesus’ teachings. This indicates a close relationship between James and Jesus and shows the strong influence of Jesus on James’ life.

Read James 1:1-3

Study Questions:

Who is this letter written to?

How does James identify himself?

What are some examples of trials as mentioned in verse 2?

What does James mean when he says "count it all joy" (NKJV) or "consider it an opportunity for great joy" (NLT)?

Think about a time of trial, or testing, you recently experienced. Were you able to be joyful?

How does "testing of your faith" produce patience?

Further Study

Read Chapter 1 several times, looking for the themes.

Meditate on and memorize James 1:2-3
 





  



























Friday, March 28, 2014

Friendship Part 2- Keepin' It Real


I recently read a story about a woman who was in charge of a Sunday school program at a small, rural church. She had been in the position for several years and under her direction, the Sunday school had grown a great deal. This woman drove a big truck and piled as many kids in it as she could every Sunday morning. One Sunday evening her truck was parked in the parking lot of the church and one of the church deacons walked past the truck and smelled something really off. He stopped at her truck and began to look around thinking something might be leaking. What he saw in the bed of the truck shocked him! Empty beer cans, and lots of them! He couldn’t believe what he saw there and went immediately to the pastor and said she must be removed from her position as she was obviously an alcoholic. When in fact she had been collecting cans for the Sunday school fund raiser. She had asked the local bar owners if they would be willing to save their cans so they could turn them in for money.

So far we have been talking about judging women in a negative way.

But what about the women who we judge to "have it all together"? Women who look like they have it all together, but are falling apart on the inside? Often, those women believe that if people really knew who they were, they would not be liked or accepted. There are many women who are hiding behind the I’ve Got It All Together mask at all times.

What is the IGIAT mask? The mask we hide behind so that we do not have to reveal anything about ourselves. Don’t get me wrong—it is okay to walk in a positive light and with a positive attitude. God wants us there. I’m talking about being afraid to let people in, to let them know that we need prayer, have issues with our children or our marriage jobs, etc.
 
Hiding behind this mask is harmful to us, but it is also very harmful to others. When other women see us and assume that all is perfect, they may feel inferior.
 
 
Women need women!
You may have heard the saying "Friends for a season, friends for a reason, friends for a lifetime". Over the past year, I have been contemplating the meaning of this statement. If you are like me, you’d like to keep all of your friends as friends….forever. But that isn’t the life cycle of friendship.

 
Some friends are here for a season…when our children are toddlers, in grade school, in college or when we become empty nesters. Some friends are here for a reason…to encourage, support, listen, or to help us through the tough times. Some friends are here for a lifetime.If we are very, very lucky we will have friends who are friendships that span our lifetime. Those are the women who are like family. They stand by us through all of life’s twists and turns, and we do the same for them. We may lose touch with them for a time, but then we simply pick up where we left off in our relationship.
 

The lifecycle of friendship begins because we have common interests and goals. Over time, it deepens and we find ourselves confiding our dreams, disappointments, and challenges. Sharing fun times and making memories is a part of this stage.
Friendships end for all kinds of reasons. A friendship can end abruptly if there is a major disagreement or argument. I find the more common reason is they simply fizzle out. This can be because life takes us in different directions, or more often, a friendship ends because we don’t nurture it.

 
 
So what does it mean to nurture a friendship? It means that we reach out and make an effort to stay connected. Social media is great, but Facebook isn’t enough to keep a friendship strong! Making time for the other person is what will solidify your relationship. Sharing a cup of coffee, going to lunch, or exercising together are just a few ways to connect. Get creative! What will work for both of you in your current season of life?
 
 

By placing an importance on your friendships, and putting out the effort to keep them alive, you may find more friends for a lifetime than you ever imagined. God does not want us to go through this life without friends as John 15:12-15 states: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."
We all need friends and these women from my example may be longing for a loyal, non-judgmental woman friend who will be there for them. A woman they can share their challenges and victories with. A woman who will pray for them.

Ladies …we need each other!
 
 
Someone asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered that the law and the prophets hang on two commandments: loving God and loving your neighbor.
What does relationship look like in 2014?
 
 
Let’s talk about social media and communication. I am all for the internet! God called me to base my ministry through the internet. I teach 3 times per week on the internet, I counsel on the internet, I proclaim my faith on the internet and I make friends through the internet.

 
BUT, we were meant for more than just virtual friendships. Technology is great, and necessary, but electronic communication is a poor substitute for true face-to-face relationships. Although technology can make our lives more convenient, counterfeit connections are one-dimensional. We can have "friends" on Facebook, email pen pals, chat room buddies, and text messaging conversations—but none of it is real communication. The words are there, but the deeper meaning and intimacy are lost. It really is just an exchange of information.

Jesus was all about connecting with real people. I recently read this:
 
 

What if Jesus would have "Facebooked" the Woman at the Well? She'd have checked her email and found: "Woman at the Well: Jesus has written on your wall." Her wall might say, "Heard you were at the well today. If you ask me, I will give you living water." It kind of loses its meaning. When we read the story in John 4, it was clear that a big part of Jesus' impact was the fact that he was sitting in public talking to: (1) a woman, and (2) a Samaritan. He was risking being seen with her, and he was taking time from his busy life to sit and talk with her. Jesus' life was about people—up close and personal—genuine connection, not counterfeit connection. Technology is a great thing, but overusing it can rob us of real relationships!



 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friendship Part 1--Judging Others


Hello Readers --
Thanks for your patience as we made our changes and adjustments in this blog.
I want to share you with some insight on women friendships that the Lord has given me recently. This series will be divided into several articles that can be used for a devotional time, small group or personal ministry.
Let's begin with a story....
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

'That laundry is not very clean', she said. 'She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap'

Her husband looked on, but remained silent. Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: 'Look, she has learned
how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?'

The husband said, 'I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.'

What does this story tell us? It tells us that what we see when we look at other women is influenced by the cleanliness of our own window!
I have a few questions for you today.

Have you ever felt judged by other women? Have you ever felt that if someone could just spend some time in your shoes, they would not be so quick to judge you? Have you ever jumped to a conclusion about another woman without knowing the facts of her story? I dare say that we all have done or thought these things.

Every woman has a story; a story that involves challenges and victories, pain and joy, and fear and peace. But what if we were able to spend some time in her shoes? Would what see, think or feel about her change?  
Women know when they are being judged and being judged can be hurtful. Most of us are going to avoid situations like that, aren’t we?

Let's read the story of the Samaritan Woman found in John 4.

6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Water was precious and it was often scarce. It was a responsibility of village women to collect the water for each day. Because the evening temperatures were cooler, most women made the trip to the well in the evening.


I think we can assume that the well was a gathering place for the women of the village. They most likely caught up on the news and exchanged information with each other. 

But notice that in verse 6 it says it was the "sixth hour". It was noon-the hottest part of the day. The woman of Samaria may very well been avoiding the village women. Their stares and whispers, or their "shunning" of her, may have been too much for her to take. She chose the parched heat of noon over running into the village women.

Have you ever avoided situations that would put you in contact with a group of women? Can be scary right? And sometimes we avoid it because we believe that they may judge us.

We do not know all that has taken place in the life of the divorced mom who must leave her kids with a sitter so she can work 2 jobs to put food on the table. We might look at her as someone who is more interested in her career than her family. But, perhaps she was involved in an abusive relationship or was deserted by her husband, left alone to take care of her children without help.

Or what about the young mom who is on government assistance and going to college? Are we tempted to make a snap judgment about her? That she is using the system or taking advantage? What if you spent some time in her shoes? We don’t really know until we do.

Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to reveal to you any woman you may have judged without knowing her real story.






 
 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014