Y'all ! It has been a BUSY summer! In 3 months I have...
Our church youth participate in a program every year called Lads to Leaders and Leaderettes. The purpose is to train the youth of our congregations in the ways of church participation. There are competitions for Speech, Song Leading, Debate and Puppets just to name a few. There is also a Bible Bowl competition. This year the books to study are 1st and 2nd Corinthians! Our congregation is going to have an Adult vs Youth fun competition to help them study and we can all benefit from more time in the Word. So I put together a simple study journal to help everyone out. The study focuses on one chapter at a time. Some basic questions to answer about every chapter and also space to write down any questions you think could be asked about the passage. My hope is that it will prompt the user to really get into what they are reading and not just skim over. This style of study has really helped me out and I have poor study skills.
If you are interested in the journal or have a youth group in the L to L program yourself, the journal can be found using this link.
The journal is standard 8.5" x 11", unlined. Use the margins to doodle, draw, make notes and references. I highly encourage everyone to explore different methods of study, and find what works for you. I hope you will find this one helpful! If you do try my new journal, would you consider leaving a comment or review? I would like to hear how it works out for everyone.
That's a good looking laundry room isn't it? Clean, spotless, orderly; and absolutely not mine. The fact is, I am so ashamed of anyone seeing my laundry room that I sought out a beautiful photo representation from the web instead of snapping one of my own. It's bad y'all! I have to admit that I'm organized in my heart but I fail at putting ideas into practice. We are all a work in progress though, right? Right. Moving right along.
As I dried off after my shower this morning, my first thought was, "We need new towels". Then for some reason, I laughed at my 20 something-years-ago self and how excited that bride-to-be was about picking out towels in a certain color scheme. They had to be BLUE. Blue was our theme color! I want to go back and tell that girl, "Save yourself some time and go with solid white. You can wash them all together with bleach and you will just have to buy new ones in a couple of years anyway." Ah well; live and learn.
I started thinking about those towels and how they are like our lives. Stay with me here. Think about it. We start out all fresh, clean and new. Then as we go through our everyday lives, the world starts wearing on us; makes us dingy if you will. Sometimes we make mistakes, get a stain, and try like the devil to get that spot off so no one sees it. You see the stain, but no matter how much you try, the stain doesn't quite go away, there is still a remnant. Pretty profound thoughts for 6 AM right? The mind is a mystery.
The good news is, God can completely erase those stains. He makes us brand new, shiny and clean! Here's how:
If you are a believer and DO know what I'm talking about. Keep in mind that we are spotless before HIM. Sometimes I need a reminder. The devil wants us to see our lives like the stained, never-will-be-white-again towels when God want's us to remember he cleansed us. MADE US SPOTLESS. That's fantastic news all day long.
I love❤️ when my "Life" and "Bible" section overlap! It means I am more mindful of God in my everyday and am actively noticing His hand in my life. I feel like that is a growth marker in my spiritual life and it makes me happy! This shirt (photo above) was one of those moments when I felt God was trying to get me to listen. Let me tell you why...
Every once in a while, my mind has a way of hijacking my life. There may be a clinical term but basically, a thought crosses my mind, I obsess about it, it grows into multiple other thought tracks and before you know it, I am full out worrying or bluesy at best, depressed at worst. It can last for days or weeks until my inner dialogue works it out. It's exhausting and a time-suck. The thing is, I usually don't notice until I'm looking back. Anyway, work in progress right?.
Last month I had one of those times. Something crossed my mind and before I knew it, I was worried about a series of possibilities ( well if x happens then I have to be ready for y and z, how do I get to y and z ?!?!? ) I could not snap out of it. I was good while I was busy with work or kids but when things got quiet, the devil went to work. One day scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across a post from @crosstrainingcouture that caught my eye. It was a photo post ,( part of their #featuremectc promo), of a new mom that was feeling down about her new mom body and how her "Be You Tiful", CTC shirt that she put on that morning made her feel better and put things in a better perspective. It's really a beautiful post, you should follow them and read it. I clicked through to the Cross Training Couture website to look at their other offerings and the above shirt just spoke straight to my soul in that moment.
Based on Proverbs 31:25 - " She is strong and respected by the people, She looks forward to
the future with Joy."
She laughs without fear of the future!
I know, I KNOW, that there is no use in worrying. God does not want us to worry and HIS Word tells us
I bought the shirt! I am so glad I did. It is a reminder that I am not in control and if I live in HIM, I can face anything. So lets laugh without fear of the future and remember what Jesus said in John 14:1 - " Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me."
During Fall break this year, I had the bright idea to build a swing set for our kids. (That story coming soon!) I had the idea, my patient hubby had the muscle and after 2 days of work the kids had a play structure. Two days of getting materials, digging holes, setting concrete, trips back to town for more materials, sore arms, yada, yada, yada. Finally, it was done! After a brief exploration of the items on the structure, my little dude runs to the shed where we have piled broken outdoor toys to be thrown away, hauls them back to the new play area and proceeds to play with the old stuff. That was, well, less exciting than I thought. I looked at my dear hubby and said, " You know what this is? This is the kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning and playing with the box all day!"
In the spirit of trying to be more "in the moment", I just enjoyed the sense of accomplishment, high fived my guy and we played outside with our kids. As the day went on, and since I have been trying to be more mindful of God in the everyday things, I recognized a parallel. My mind worked like this :
Parents + gift + children = children + box the gift came in - gift
God + gift + children = children + box containing gift - gift
Christmas Day is now right around the corner, so my thoughts are back to gifts and wrappings. God our Father, gave us the best gift ever, Salvation! I think we all can agree on that. Sometimes though, do you think God watches us, going about our day, posting our cute Bible verse cards on Pinterest or FaceBook , showing up for church but barely opening our Bibles in the times between and thinks to himself, " You're just playing with the wrapping, not cherishing the gift." This was a "take stock" moment for me. I sometimes get so busy, go through the motions of day to day that I forget priorities. I like to say God is first, but is He more of an afterthought? Am I guilty of opening a gift, setting it to the side and playing with the outward wrappings? Do I want to hit the highlights of God's Word or do I want to dig in and find answers to my questions and have a relationship with the Gift Giver?
As always, I am examining my own heart. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can encourage. There is always room for improvement in our walk with God but we are not guaranteed time. Let's encourage each other every day to pick up our gift and not toss it to the side.
I am currently reading the book of Judges for Bible study. The point is to read and meditate on one chapter daily using the SOAK method. I highly encourage you to study the Bible daily and for people like me that never learned how to study, the SOAK or SOAP method has done wonders! Now… back to the Israelites.
God had lead His people out of Egypt. There were hardships and complaining but they finally arrived in the Promised Land. Now, in Judges, we find these people forgetting their way. To me, they seem a bit ungrateful and a whole lot forgetful. God has done all these great and wonderful things, and you now think you can just do what you want and pick and choose when to listen to Him. In case you haven’t read Judges yet, here are some examples.
Judges 1 – the Israelites need help fighting off the Canaanites. God delivers.
Judges 2 – the angel of the Lord tells the Israelites, “I will never break my agreement with you. But you must not make an agreement with the people that live in this land. You must destroy the altars.”
The Israelites did not obey.
God tells them, “But you did not obey me. How could you do this? Now, I tell you I will not force out the people in this land. They will be your enemies, and their gods will be a trap for you”.
The people served God during the lifetime of Joshua and during the time of the elders that came after him but…
“After those people had died, their children grew up and did not know the Lord or what He had done for Israel.” They did what He said was wrong and God was angry with them. He handed them over to robbers that took their possessions. When they went out to fight, they were defeated. The Israelites suffered.
God sent them Judges to bring them back to the Way.
The book of Judges is filled with disobedience and rescue time after time. To the point that a rules oriented person like myself started thinking, “What is wrong with these people?” “God clearly said don’t do this and you did it anyway! How could you forget so quickly what He did for you? How do you think you got where you are?” I was getting pretty ticked off at these people and their behavior, it made no sense! I imagine God watching me in that moment the way I watch my own kids when they are trying to think something through and realization strikes. It hit me, we are old-school Israelites!
Does God clearly lay out for us what to do and what not to do? Of course, He does! The Bible, His instruction manual to the world.
Do we always do what He says? If you are honest. That’s a big NO. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard- Romans 3:23
How could you forget so quickly what he has done for you? Ouch! Count your blessings. Seriously, right now, count them. I can look back over my life and see where God has intervened. I can see how if I don’t keep God’s Word alive for my children and teach them how to teach their future children, there could be a lost generation just like in the days of Judges.
How do you think you got where you are? Good question self. How did you get here? Why did you zig when you might have zagged? Can you look back at where you were and see what was present or missing to put you where you are now?
Lots of self-reflection for me after judging the Israelites. Hind sight is 20/20 as they say. It is so important to spend time in God's Word every day! We need to constantly read and study so we can be ready to heal, teach and practice what God wants us to. So, let’s not be old-school Israelites but let's learn from their mistakes and try our absolute best not to repeat them. It is also worth remembering that God was there for them every time they messed up. He will do the same for His children today.
Remember when you were young and played outside till dark. The darker it got, the more your eyes adjusted so you could see better. Then someone switched on the porch light and your eyes were drawn to that brightness. When you looked back to the yard , you couldn't believe it was so dark.
Last week our Bible study group covered Proverbs 6 - 10. In these chapters it dawned on me how pleasing Satan has made sin look. We read of how the lying woman uses her "beauty" and "pleasing words" to capture in Proverbs 6:20-23. We are told how she decorated her sinful bed with "colored coverings" and "perfume". The devil has had ages to perfect his pitch and he is still ensnaring us today the same way as in Bible times.
If we think of these warnings as they apply to our everyday lives, not only marriage, we see many instances where we are deceived into venturing outside of our relationship with God. Do we not let the allure of TV and pleasing words of a good book keep us from time we could spend in Scripture? Do we not let many "colored coverings" of the world distract us from knowing and telling others HIS truths? God gave us a great big, wonderful creation to enjoy, but not at the expense of our relationship with HIM. We have all sinned and fallen short. Everyone will at one time or another venture into the darkness of sin, the important thing is NOT staying there. Don't let your eyes become adjusted to the darkness.
Sadly some souls have spent so much time in the dark that they can see pretty clearly there.
Last week I wrote a blog post about the chapters we were covering and it never made it to the page. I tried three different times to upload the post but on the last try, I completely lost the whole thing. I was upset about it but then Friday happened. With one decision the Supreme Court caused division in our nation and sadly even out churches. Maybe I was supposed to write my post from this perspective, I don't know. I do believe that God has a purpose for everything. I am thankful that a year ago I somehow stumbled onto a page that led me to the Good Morning Girls Bible Study. I am thankful that I have learned a way to study the scriptures that works for me. I am thankful that I am right now studying Proverbs with the GMG's so I had HIS words on my heart when my heart was angry about the decisions of the world. There is hope. There is light.
For all the warnings of Proverbs, the book also gives us advice to obey HIS commands ( 7:2 ), guard HIS teachings (7:3), write them on our heart (7:3). Wisdom is "shouting to all people" (8:4), and what wisdom says is "right" and "refuses to speak evil',(8:7). One of my personal favorites in light of recent events is Proverbs 6;20-23, it says ...
My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart;
fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,
There are many souls playing outside in the dark. The more time we spend in HIS word , studying HIS teaching, the brighter "porch light" we can be to others. How wonderful would it be if we were so charged by God's Word that our "porch light" shone so brightly that the eyes of those playing in the "dark yard" of the world were drawn to the Light and were no longer able to see in the dark! It can happen! I sincerely urge you to spend time in HIS word everyday so you can be a bright light to a dark world.
My name is Joni...