Motivation · Power Thoughts · Rick Warren

POWER THOUGHTS: The Key to a Balanced Life: Jesus

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“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NCV)

If you want to live a truly balanced life, you can only look at one person in all of history as a model: Jesus. If you put him at the center of your life, your life will be more balanced.

Think of your life like a wheel. The center of the wheel is a hub. All of the spokes of your life (which represent your relationships, your family, your career, your goals, etc.) come from that hub. We all build our lives around some sort of hub. The question is, what will be your hub? Will it be your family? Will it be your career? Will it be money?

Or will it be Jesus?

How do you do know what you’re building your life around? Take a look at whatever you think about the most. That’s what is driving you.

The center of your life is critical to developing a balanced life. A solid center leads to a solid life. A weak, flimsy center leads to a weak life. When I hear people tell me that their lives are coming unglued, it usually means one thing: They have a faulty center. Something other than God has taken priority in their lives.

Not only does the hub create stability, but it also controls and influences everything else about your life. Whatever you put at the center of your life will also be your source of power. The power of a wheel always emanates from the center outward — never the other way around.

Make Jesus the center of your life, and he’ll provide the stability, control, and power you need for your life. The Bible says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well” (Matthew 6:33 NCV).

Don’t worry about making Jesus first in your life. Put him in the center of your life. Let him direct your life, influence it, empower it, and give it stability.

Do that and all the other areas of your life — from your family to your career to your goals — will find balance in Jesus.

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Love and joy to you all,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

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Blogging Thru The Bible · Numbers · The Bible

BLOGGING THRU THE BIBLE: Book of Numbers {Resources for Numbers 26-30}

Numbers Resources 26-30

Welcome back girls  to Week 6 of Bible Study Book of Numbers.

Before we look at this week’s resources, it’s time for a schedule update and the announcement of our first 2 books to study in 2016!

Schedule Update

December 14th – Go On Break – Have a Very Merry Christmas!

December 28th – Regrouping Begins.

January 4th -New Bible Study Begins…Drum Roll…

The Book of Job 

This will be such an encouraging study as we remember that God knows our trials, knows our limits and we can rest in His sovereign grace.

February 26th – The book of Job ends and a one week break begins.

March 7th – The Easter Study Begins…Drum Roll…

The Book of Mark

I love studying the gospels during the days leading up to Resurrection Sunday!

The journal for the book of Job will be available around the middle of December…so watch for it coming soon!

Now let’s get back to this week’s study and finish strong!!!

If you are new here – jump in with our reading this week and catch up on the weekends.  All are welcome to join anytime – there are no enrollments or sign-ups!

 

Here is this week’s Bible Reading Plan:

This week we will look at:

Chapter 26:  A Census Taken of the New Generation and the Promised Land Divided

Chapter 27:  Joshua is Chosen to Follow Moses as the Next Leader of Israel

Chapter 28: A Focus on Offerings

Chapter 29:  A Focus on Offerings -continued

Chapter 30:  A Woman’s Vow and the Weight of Her Words

Here are this week’s Group Discussion Questions

{If you do not have a group, use these for a personal time of reflection.}:

26
27
28
29

30

To print the 36 Discussion Questions for Numbers – click here.

The Verses of the Day:

I encourage you to choose which verse you’d like to memorize or meditate on.  The printable below includes all 5 verses of the day — for the entire week!

Print and cut them out and put them in the bathroom, kitchen, beside your bed and computer and use them for meditation throughout the week.

Num 26-2[1]
Numbers 27
Numbers 28
Numbers 29
Numbers 30

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Click HERE to print the Verses of the Day for Numbers 26-30

For Those Who Are New Here

You can join in our FB study group too here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/724894230988215/

We use SOAK Method for our study:

92H

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I’m so excited you are here!  Do not get discouraged if you fall behind . Don’t give up! Have a wonderful week.

**WAVES**

Happy studying girls.

Peace be with you,

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Blogging Thru The Bible · Christmas · The Bible

BLOGGING THRU THE BIBLE: Advent Study {Resources Week 1 – Hope}

advent study

As we prepare for Christmas and the wonderful season as it is because of our Saviour, let’s start this blessed Advent study today “Keeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus”.

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(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ EVERYDAY¤★•**•. ★

  • Read the daily morning passage listed on each page. You can do this alone or with your children.
  • Light a candle- one candle for the first week, two candles for the second week etc.
  • Play Christmas music in your house.


{Week 1}– Hope Devotional

We live in a day where people are searching for hope in their lives.  Some turn to money, thinking possessions like having the right house, right car, right clothes or large bank account will give them the hope, peace and stability they are seeking. Some turn to politicians with their promises of hope and a better life only to be later disappointed in the outcome. While others seek relationships or drugs to fulfill the void that God’s hope offers. What they don’t realize is hope is here.

Our hope came wrapped in swaddling clothes and was placed in a manger that very first Christmas. The Christmas story is more than just a story about the birth of a child into our world, but about the birth of the world’s Savior, the birth of hope entering our world that long  awaited night so many thousand of years ago. What was God’s gift to us that very first Christmas? The gift of His precious Son……our Redeemer…..our Savior……..our hope for a better tomorrow. God gave the hopeless world the gift of hope that first Christmas…..and He continues to every year after.

Looking at the story of Christ’s birth we see hope came even when our world wasn’t perfect, and it still does. Even when things don’t seem to be going our way……the gift of hope that only Christ can offer is still here.Take a peak with me at the night our sweet Lord was born. What do you see? A husband and his young wife, nine months pregnant and about to have a baby, both of them tired from traveling late into the night. Poor Mary and Joseph….nothing seemed to be going their way. Traveling nine months pregnant I’m sure wasn’t on Mary’s list of things to do before she delivered Jesus…..especially riding on a donkey. Giving birth in a stable with “no where to lay His head”….not exactly what she had envisioned either when the angel appeared to her that special nights nine months earlier.Mary’s life was messy.

But God loves to do His greatest miracles in the middle of our messes, and that’s exactly what He did that special night thousands of years ago. 7
Hope came into our world!

Hope…..that God can still use this broken life and make something beautiful out of it.
Hope…..that we don’t have to be perfect to be loved by Him.
Hope…..that the best is yet to come.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” ~ Romans 15:13  

Join me this Christmas season and focus on the beautiful gift of hope we have through the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

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(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ HOPE SCRIPTURE¤★•**•. ★

Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And,behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

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(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ SOAP¤★•**•. ★

First Advent Sunday:  John 1:1-4

Monday: John 1:9-12

Tuesday:  Jeremiah 33:14-15

Wednesday: Isaiah 60:19-20

Thursday:  Romans 15:12-13

 

First Advent Sunday – Light the first candle representing Jesus is the “Light” of men. Explain to your children that when we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly and falling into sin. Jesus lights the path ahead of us so we can see how to live. What ways can we allow Jesus’s light to shine through us.

Monday – Light one candle- Talk about how as Christians, we are to reflect Jesus’s light to the world. What are some ways we can do that?
Use a mirror to show your children how we are to reflect Jesus’s light to those around us.

Tuesday – Light one candle- Not only is Jesus the Light of the world, but His arrival was planned by God thousands of years before. What does that tell us about God?

Wednesday – Light one candle- Sing the song Jesus, Light of the Word (http://www.lyricstime.com/third-day-jesus-light-of-the-worldlyrics.html) or Here I am to Worship. (http://www.lyricstime.com/ir-here-i-am-to-worship-lyrics.html)

Thursday– Light one candle- How does Jesus’s light in our world give us hope?
• Read the book: The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg and James Bernardin
Or
• Read the story about  the Candy Cane (http://www.noelnoelnoel.com/trad/candycane.html)

Be blessed.

Happy Advent Sunday!

For Those Who Are New Here

You can join in our FB study group too here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/724894230988215/

We use SOAK Method for our study:

92H

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I’m so excited you are here!

Be blessed,

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Family

FAMILY: What Comes After Thanksgiving?

Family

Thursday brings another Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving begins the end of another year. The United States will collectively pause over turkey and stuffing to ponder the good things in life, and many of us will give thanks to God. And it is always good to give thanks to God (1 Thessalonians 5:18). After all, he “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25).

The holiday presents itself as a fitting resolution to the year’s highs and lows, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. It’s timed perfectly to allow for restful reflection before the generally happy chaos of Christmas. But what if Thanksgiving was meant to be a beginning, and not just another over-fed ending?

Thanksgiving isn’t ever the end in the Christian life because gratitude cannot bear the weight of that responsibility. Gratitude is good — and a means to something greater. It’s meant to fuel our faith in God and deepen our love for God, the Giver. Gratitude does look back, but it’s only a matter of time before it has the Christian looking forward. John Piper says,

The Bible rarely, if ever, motivates Christian living with gratitude. Yet this is almost universally presented in the church as the “driving force in authentic Christian living.” I agree that gratitude is a beautiful and utterly indispensible Christian affection. No one is saved who doesn’t have it. But you will search the Bible in vain for explicit connections between gratitude and obedience. (Future Grace, 3)

God means for our appreciation for all he has done to propel us to believe in all that he will do, and to live more fully for his glory as your greatest treasure. It’s the whole shape of the Christian heart and life. God does not bless you simply so that you’ll be filled with thanks and give him recognition, but so that you’ll be filled with faith and joy in him.

Receiving Is Believing

One great danger in gratitude is our temptation to thank God and then attempt to pay him back. Piper writes elsewhere,

First, it is impossible to pay God back for all the grace he has given us. We can’t even begin to pay him back. . . . Second, even if we succeeded in paying him back for all his grace to us, we would only succeed in turning grace into a business transaction. If we can pay him back, it was not grace. (Godward Life, 36)

What does Thanksgiving do to shape your view of God’s grace? As you look back, remember that every single thing you’ve received is another undeserved gift from the well of God’s mercy toward you (James 1:17). Have thoughts of entitlement or familiarity or indifference crept in to diminish or color your gratitude? If we knew how much we have sinned against God, and how little we deserved from him, and how much good he has lavished on us — from the smallest, least memorable provisions to the largest, unforgettable answered prayers — we would thank him differently.

And as you look forward — and you should on Thanksgiving — remember that any good that lies ahead rests entirely on that same grace. You will not deserve anything you receive in the next year anymore than you ever have. Nothing you will do next year will make you any more saved. You cannot meet any of God’s needs, because he has none (Acts 17:24–25). Our gratitude should inspire us to move forward in throwing ourselves more fully on his grace, rather than to try and rebuild or repay on our own what he’s already freely given us. Receiving is believing, not achieving.

Better Than All His Gifts

Faith in God for the future is not enough, though. Many of Thanksgiving celebrations will express real, genuine gratitude on Thursday, and yet will be horrifically offensive to God. Why? Because the gratitude has nothing to do with God at all. Even when it’s offered to him — often in some trite, ambiguous, once-a-year way — it has little, if any, regard for him beyond his gifts. No affection, and no allegiance.

Piper writes, “God is not glorified if the foundation of our gratitude is the worth of the gift and not the excellency of the Giver. If gratitude is not rooted in the beauty of God before the gift, it is probably disguised idolatry” (Godward Life, 214). He goes on to say that appreciation without devotion treats God “like a tool or a machine to produce the things I really love.”

As you give thanks, ask where your deepest affection and appreciation lie. Is it with God himself? Is he the greatest gift you received in the past year? Or is it with your family — your spouse, or children, or children’s children? Or is it your career — the one you have, the one you want, or the one you had? Or is it comfort — the size of your bank account, or the condition of your home, or the technology in your pocket? God gives us a lot of good things laced (because of our sinful hearts) with a poisonous potential to become gods.

With our gratitude, let’s keep the gifts as gifts, and God as God. Be specific with your gratitude —child, home, food, and phone — but also be personal. Follow every gift back to God himself, and let it be a reason to fall further in love with the Giver.

Plead for More (of Him)

This Thanksgiving, see your gratitude to God through to greater faith in him and greater love for him. We’re prone to a wait-and-see kind of gratitude, instead of a see-and-believe kind. Instead, receive God’s grace and plead for more — more of his grace, and more of him.

Here’s one biblical pattern for gratitude that pleases God: “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12–13). Ask him for more. He’s the kind of Father who loves to give good gifts to his kids (Luke 11:13), and he always knows exactly what you need (Matthew 6:32–33). He created the universe and governs your life “to show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward [you] in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

Let your gratitude to God this Thanksgiving be just a window into the storehouses of all he’s offered you through Christ. And let this be an occasion to lift your eyes in faith above every gift to your all-satisfying, never-failing Father in heaven.

God Bless,

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(Source: Marshall Segal)

Motivation · Power Thoughts · Rick Warren

POWER THOUGHTS: The Cost of Misplaced Anger

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“A hot-tempered man … gets into all kinds of trouble.” (Proverbs 29:22 TLB)

Anger has a price tag. When you realize that truth, you’re more likely to control the anger in your life. The Bible tells us, “A hot-tempered man … gets into all kinds of trouble” (Proverbs 29:22 TLB). Most of us have seen someone do something really stupid because that person was angry.

The Bible is very specific on the cost of anger. The Bible says:

  • It causes arguments (Proverbs 15:18).
  • It causes mistakes (Proverbs 14:29).
  • It causes foolish things (Proverbs 14:17).

You’ve probably seen all of these results from your own anger and the anger of others. The Bible is also clear on the ultimate conclusion of our inappropriately expressed anger. Proverbs 11:29 says, “The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.”

Think of the impact anger has on your family. As parents, we’re often tempted to use anger to motivate our children. It works in the short-term. When you get angry, you put the fear of God (or the fear of you) into your children. Your kids may give you short-term obedience, but you’ll lose in the long-term.

The end result of misplaced anger is alienation. You alienate the very people you love the most. Eventually, you’ll get more anger back and finally just apathy. No one wants to be around you.

The truth is, you always lose when you lose your temper. You may lose your reputation, your job, your children, or the love of your husband or wife when you don’t control your anger.

And it’s never worth that price tag.

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Love and joy to you all,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivate Me · Motivation

MOTIVATE ME: Five Truths About Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is more than a day off. It is more than eating mashed potatoes and gravy, watching football, and taking a wonderful turkey-induced nap.

Thanksgiving is a pervasive and essential concept in Scripture. And although it is good to set aside a Thursday each November to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, the Scriptures have more to say about giving thanks than one day a year can handle.

Here are five biblical truths about thanksgiving.

1. Thanksgiving Is Trinitarian

The typical pattern of thanksgiving in the New Testament is that God the Father is the object of thanksgiving, God the Son is the person through whom thanksgiving flows, and God the Holy Spirit is the source of thanksgiving. Paul models this in Romans 1:8: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” And Colossians 3:16–17:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The very presence of thanksgiving points to the Holy Spirit as the source of thanksgiving because without the work of the Spirit it is impossible to please God (Romans 8:5–8).

Christianity does not call for vague thanksgiving to a vague deity. Our God is triune and, as a result, thanksgiving has a Trinitarian flavor. Thanksgiving flows to God the Father, through God the Son, from God the Spirit.

2. Thanksgiving Replaces Sin

When Paul commands believers to stop sinning, he also commands believers to put thanksgiving in its place. Paul writes: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4).

Paul knows that we are always acting. We either act with sinful, thankless hearts which leads to foolish talk or crude jokes, or we act with thankful hearts and thereby please God with our speech. John Piper explains,

The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry. (“Violence, Ugliness, and Thanksgiving”)

3. Thanksgiving Sanctifies Creation

How should Christians think about God’s good creation? Paul says that it should be received with a heart full of thanksgiving: “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4).

Paul teaches that creation is good and should be received with thanksgiving because it is made holy through the word of God and prayer. Piper explains the connection between the goodness of creation, thanksgiving, and prayer,

[T]he word of God teaches us to taste food as a communication of his diverse goodness and his supreme worth. And when we taste food as a communication of God’s goodness and worth in the eating of this food, we offer up our prayers of thanks, and ask him to give us the fullest possible feast of his supreme worth. And we pray this in Jesus’s name, knowing that every lasting blessing was bought by his blood. (“What God Made Is Good and Must Be Sanctified”)

4. Thanksgiving for the Gospel

We should aim to have our thanksgiving rise in proportion to the value of the object for which we give thanks. Therefore, we should be most grateful for God’s work for us in Christ because it unites us to our highest joy – God himself. Paul writes, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4).

Paul never tired of giving thanks for the grace of God in Jesus’s person and work. And neither should we. God has showed his love for us even when we were enemies of God (Romans 5:8); he called us out of darkness and made us heirs of God (Romans 8:17); Jesus bore the punishment we deserved, and we receive his perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

5. Thanksgiving in All Circumstances

One surprising aspect of thanksgiving is that it’s for all circumstances, not just one big meal a year. Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).

Giving thanks in all circumstances is especially difficult while undergoing suffering. How can we be thankful when there’s something that hurts so much? We can give thanks in the midst of suffering because it is meant to enlarge our faith, not as punishment (2 Corinthians 4:17–18), and because it is redemptive, not random.

Our suffering is not punishment for our sin — because Christ has borne our punishment in our place (Romans 3:25). The demands of justice have been met. And our suffering is not random — because God is sovereign over it, and through it God is conforming us in the image of his Son (Romans 8:28–29).

 

Be blessed,

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(Source: Joseph Scheumann)

Family · John Piper

FAMILY: Thanksgiving, Thanksfeeling, and the Glory of God

Family

Thanksgiving, Thanksfeeling, and the Glory of God

Now and then, it needs to be said that not all thanksgiving is thanksfeeling. We can make ourselves (or our children) say, “Thank you,” whether we feel it or not. But it’s not a good habit, especially in relation to God.

Jesus warns against “vain” worship. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me” (Matthew 15:8–9). Thanksgiving without thanksfeeling is empty. It does not count with God.

An Act of the Heart

Genuine thankfulness is an act of the heart’s affections, not an act of the lips’ muscles. It is not willed, but awakened. It is not a decision of the will, but a reflex of the heart. It happens to us. We become aware of good will toward us, and either we feel gratitude or we are ungrateful.

It is not an inference; it is an experience. If the response of our lips is a mere logical deduction, it’s not heart-thankfulness. (Premise 1: Someone is willing my good. Premise 2: One should say thanks in such situations. Conclusion: I will cause my lips to say thanks.)

Now let’s relate this to the glory of God the way the Bible does.

To the Glory of God

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me” (Psalm 50:23). This offering of thanksgiving which glorifies God is not merely external. It is gratitude truly felt in the heart. That is the only kind of sacrifice that pleases him.

“You will not delight in sacrifice . . . you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16–17). This is the kind of heart that can truly feel gratitude for grace.

So the sacrifice of thanksgiving that glorifies God is the offering of contrite and broken-hearted thankfulness for undeserved mercies. This makes God look glorious — it glorifies him.

Similarly Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:15, “As grace extends to more and more people it increases thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” The sequence goes like this: God’s grace is experienced as wonderful and undeserved; heartfelt thanksfeeling rises in the heart; this true thanksfeeling overflows with thanksgiving; thus God is shown to be glorious — he is glorified.

Implications:

  • God is glorified more fully when we feel thankfulness, not when we only say, “Thank you.”
  • Authentic heart-feelings are not in our control. We can’t make ourselves feel thankfulness. If our hearts are not moved by God’s goodness, we are ungrateful. Thankfeelings are a work of grace.
  • Therefore, as fallen sinners whose hearts are often dull, we should regularly pray for God to overcome our sinful hardness, and cause us to see his goodness and feel thankful. (Psalm 51:10–12)

So the manifestation of the glory of God depends on 1) the appearance of God’s good will toward us in some undeserved benefit; 2) our eyes seeing it as from God; 3) the awakening of a sense of our being undeserving; 4) the awakening of the sweet thankfulness for being loved like this; 5) the expression of our thanksfeeling in thanksgiving.

May the God of great grace work these miracles in you this Thanksgiving.

 

God Bless,

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(Source: John Piper)

Bible Study

BIBLE STUDY: Letter to a 13-Year Old Asking How to Go Deeper in Bible Study

bible study

When I read this letter, I was touched. And it was too good not to be shared. Happy reading, hope this letter helps you in your bible study.

Dear […………..],

I got your note about going deeper with your Bible reading. Thanks for asking.

First, let me say that I am really encouraged that you take the Bible so seriously. Sometimes I hold it in my hand and feel the wonder that it is the very word of the Maker of the universe. Amazing.

You are right to read it every day and seek to let it permeate all your thoughts and feelings. When Paul says it is all inspired by God and that it is profitable so that you will be equipped for every good work, I believe he means that even the parts that are hard to read, or even sometimes confusing, will in the long run have an effect on your mind and your soul that will shape you into the kind of woman who can stand strong all your life for Jesus, and sniff out the errors of the world, and love all that is truly good and beautiful.

Here are a couple ideas for going deeper.

I think it is good to always be reading through the Bible as a whole. It sounds like you are doing that with the four book marks. That’s good. I used the Discipleship Reading Plan for about 15 years and am now using McCheyen’s Bible reading plan. It takes you through the whole Bible in a year plus the Psalms twice and the New Testament twice. If you wanted to try that sometime you could find it by just googling it.

In addition, it is good to focus on some unit of Scripture for going deeper, like a book or the Sermon on the Mount, or Romans 8. To go deeper, one way is to memorize it. I did that with the book of Philippians a couple years ago and then recited it in my January sermon on the importance of the Bible. Few things take you deeper into God’s word like memorizing large portions of it. Here’s a booklet you can download to show you how to memorize long passages.

Another thing to do with that special part of Scripture you are focusing on for a while, is to write it out longhand slowly in a note book. I do this with almost every sermon I preach. I don’t fully understand it, but there are “eyes” in my pen. I see things when I slowly write the text. I see things that I see no other way. Another advantage of writing it out is that I can circle words that are repeated. I can underline phrases and draw lines between them. This helps me see connections in the passage. And connections are the key to meaning.

I think you should invest in a very good study Bible, like the ESV Study Bible, or ask your parents to get you one for your birthday. Or maybe just because you help wash the dishes! Then read the introduction to the part of Scripture that you are studying. And read the notes. Don’t assume they are always right. Only the Bible itself is always right. But let it stir up thoughts that you can trace out for yourself.

With regard to prayer, this is absolutely crucial and I am glad you are doing it. God hears our prayers and helps us be humble enough and alert enough and in-tune enough to grasp what he says.

I use the acrostic I. O. U. S as I come to the Bible.

I. Incline my heart to your testimonies. Psalm 119:36 (Since my heart is inclined to sleep and to work and to lots of things other than the Bible.)

O. Open my eyes to see wonders in your word. Psalm 119:18 (Since my heart is so often dull and blind to the wonders of the word.)

U. Unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11 (Since my heart is often divided and distracted in many directions)

S. Satisfy me with your steadfast love. Psalm  90:14 (Since my heart is so tempted to be satisfied in other things.)

Besides these prayers, practice praying the prayers of the Bible. Besides the Lord’s prayer my favorite is Ephesians 3:14–19. These prayers weave into our desires the kinds of desires that God taught us to have.

I hope that helps.

Grace be with you! Stay in the word!

Did you ever notice that every letter of Paul has near the beginning the words, “Grace be to you” and near the end it has the words “grace be with you.” I think the reason is that as we start reading the letters he knows that God’s grace is coming to us through the letter. And as we get ready to leave the letter and go to school or to work, he knows that God’s grace will go with us.

So as I close, I say with Paul, grace be with you. But that’s because grace comes to you every day as you read the Bible. Keep it up. You will never regret it.

Pastor John

Letter to a 13-Year Old Asking How to Go Deeper in Bible Study

 

(Source: John Piper)

Bible Study · How To · Prayer

HOW TO: 8 Tips to Get More out of Your Bible

HowTo

 8 Tips to Get More out of Your Bible

Are you discouraged with your Bible reading? Find it hard to be consistent? Want to get more out of the Word? Here are a few tips that have helped me to be more consistent and enjoy my devotions more over the years.

1. Prepare the night before

Every night before going to bed, I grind some coffee, put a filter in my Aeropress coffee maker, put my coffee cup on the counter and fill my Hot Shot with water, so all I need to do is push a button to heat the water for my morning cup o’ joe. I make sure everything I need – Bible, marker, journal, Kleenex – is on the stand next to the couch in the den. This saves me having to scramble around wasting time in the morning, and I can get reading more quickly.

2. Pray

I usually spend a couple minutes praying before I read. I thank my Father for his love and the gift of sleep, and for protecting my family and me during the night. I also thank him for his gracious invitation for me to enter boldly into his presence through the merits and blood of Jesus. Then I often pray John Piper’s I-O-U-S: “Incline my heart to your testimonies,” “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your word,” “Unite my heart to fear your name,” and “Satisfy me with your love.”

 

3. Same time, same place every day.

Find your best time, when you can concentrate and have the least number of distractions. For me, it’s first thing in the morning. The house is quiet and no one else is up. If I start in on projects or reading the news, I never get to reading the Bible. In the evening I’m too distracted and tired. For some, evening is their best time. The important thing is to find a time when you are least distracted and can concentrate.

I read in the same place every day. As I said earlier, I keep my Bible, marker, journal and prayer notebook on the end table next to the couch in the den. That way I don’t have to waste time searching through the house for things before I read.

4. Keep track of what you read

After reading, in the back of my journal I write the day, date, and the passage I read. That way I don’t have to try to remember where I left off the day before. You can use a bookmark as long as it doesn’t fall out and you lose your place.

5. Write in your Bible

Don’t hesitate to underline, write in the margins, or circle words. Underlining and writing helps us concentrate more on what we’re reading. My favorite marker is a light blue Sanford China Marker. You can underline lightly or darker and it never bleeds through the page.

6. Read consecutively

Don’t skip around or play Bible Roulette. Finish one book before going to another. One way to consistently read through the Bible is to read through Matthew, then Genesis. Then Mark, then Exodus and so on. If you are keeping track of what you’ve read, you’ll eventually work through the whole Bible. Nothing is more discouraging than picking up the Bible and reading at random every day.

7. Use a journal

I’ve used journals for years in my devotions. I like Moleskine lined journals. As you read, write down any verses that stand out to you or any thoughts you have about the passage. Writing slows you down and helps you focus. I usually try to look for one key verse or passage that stands out to me from that day’s reading to record in my journal.

8. Respond to what you’ve read

After recording one key verse or passage in my journal, I usually write a prayer in response. This prayer will sometimes be worship and praise to God for the truth I’ve just read about him or it may be supplication for him to change me to conform with his word. I keep the prayer to one, maybe two pages at the most. It takes me about ten minutes and propels me into my prayer time.

Whether you use these approaches or you have your own, try to build consistent habits of reading the Bible. There’s no better way to fellowship with Jesus and delight in him.

 

Be blessed,

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(Source: Bible Study Tools)

Motivation · Power Thoughts · Rick Warren

POWER THOUGHTS:THINK Before You Speak in Anger

PowerThoughts1

“Stupid people express their anger openly, but sensible people are patient and hold it back.” (Proverbs 29:11 GNT)

Anger confounds many people in our world today. We simply don’t know how to handle our anger like we have in the past. One of the Bible’s simplest yet most profound answers for our anger comes in Proverbs 29:11: “Stupid people express their anger openly, but sensible people are patient and hold it back” (GNT).

Think before you speak. Delay is a tremendous remedy for anger. You don’t need to delay indefinitely. If you’ve got an issue you need to deal with, you need to do so. Anger delayed indefinitely becomes bitterness. That’s worse than anger. Bitterness is always a sin; anger isn’t.

If you respond impulsively, you tend to respond in anger. If you wait to talk about whatever conflict you’re dealing with, you’ll be more rational and reasonable when you do. The longer you hold your temper, the better your response will be. Give yourself time to think.

When conflict arises and you give yourself time to think, what should you think about? Consider these five questions:

T: Is it truthful? Is what I’m about to say the truth?

H: Is it helpful? Or will it simply harm the other person?

I: Is it inspirational? Does it build up or does it tear down?

N: Is it necessary? If it’s not necessary, why do I need to say it?

K: Is it kind?

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Love and joy to you all,

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(Source: Rick Warren)