Tips for Memorizing Scripture

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you….
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
(Psalm 119:11, 15-16)

Knowing God’s Word helps us

…when difficult times come,
…when sin threatens to overwhelm us,
…when others question our faith, and
…when we want to share with others.

I am so thankful for the ability to search for scripture on my phone, tablet, or laptop. However, sometimes we lose our phones, have dead batteries in our tablets, and leave our laptops home.

Sometimes we need a verse to use immediately, and even the delay of a minute to look it up may cause the momentary need to pass. I don’t want to miss those opportunities.

We should be ready with God’s Word when we need it. Although technology helps, it is not always reliable or available. The best way to keep our minds focused on God and to be prepared to use scripture is to commit it to memory.

Start small.
Choose a favorite.
Review some you already know.
Enlist a memory buddy.
Use an app.
Make it a priority.

Want some tips to help you memorize scripture? Download our Memorize Scripture graphic.

 

 

 

When We Finally Decide to Pray

Today we are honored to have my friend, Julie Shirkey, as our guest blogger. Welcome, Julie!

When We Finally Decide to Pray
About Our Problems

When do you reach the point that you fall to your knees and pray?
Is it when you are desperate and everything else has failed?
When all the wisdom from your family or friends has failed you?
When you have no where else to turn?
Is this when you finally pray?

In the book of Jonah we see a man who was disobedient to God and thought he could run from God’s sight. You see, God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them of His upcoming judgement against their wickedness and the need for the people of Nineveh to repented. What did Jonah do instead? He ran to a boat that was going in the opposite direction from where God wanted him to go.

Did God ignore Jonah?
No, He didn’t.

Jonah faced a great storm on this boat. The crew on the boat asked why such a storm was happening and why Jonah was below deck sleeping! They inquired of Jonah and after casting lots it fell on Jonah to explain. Jonah confessed it was his fault and they should throw him, a prophet of The One True God, into the sea and the storm would end.

Wow! What did the crew do? They tried with all their might to row back to shore, but the storm was too great, the waves too high and the wind too forceful to row against them. They finally relented and threw Jonah overboard. But to everyone’s surprise, especially Jonah’s, a big fish swallowed him whole. Now I believe this not only shocked each person on board but probably Jonah the most! The crew on the boat believed this was the end of Jonah, and the storm ceased.

This might seem the end of the story,
but, alas, it is not.

What I find most fascinating is it took Jonah three days before he prayed while in the belly of this fish. Yuck! But if Jonah wasn’t praying before about where to go, which city, which boat or what direction, I’m sure it never entered his mind to pray about this fish!

How about you?
Do you pray about what you might face today?
Has it entered your mind to pray over any situation you might face?

There are many situations I have faced that I never thought to pray about. Oh, we all say those blanket prayers: for safe travels or like some like to say “for travel mercies.” Or to protect us as we go about our day, “put a hedge around it.” Keep my family safe. These prayers are all good, but when God gives you instructions, it’s best to do those instructions rather than not pray about it and run from God.

Back to Jonah…

can you imagine what might be in the belly of that fish? It’s lunch from that day, digestive fluids, darkness, and the stench? And Jonah waited three days to pray! But that’s what Jonah did. “And he said: ‘I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction. And He answered me.'” (Jonah 2:1-2 NKJV)

Do your circumstances seem like Jonah’s?
Are you in a smelly, messy, dark situation because of your disobedience?

We all have been there, don’t deny it. And some of you are there now, in the stench and mess of disobedience, in a smelly fish belly of your own. But you know what?! God heard Jonah in the belly of that fish! Wow! Isn’t that great!

God heard Jonah,
and that gives us hope that God hears us too.
Even in our mess.

How desperate are you for help? Have you hit the bottom and all you can see is a dark hole?

It doesn’t matter the mistakes you have made,
God will make a way.

What a sight we must be when we emerge from our dark hole. I can see Jonah, vomited up on the beach by this big fish, bleached white from stomach acids, seaweed dripping from his head and shoulders. He must have been quite a sight. “The waters encompassed me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head.” (Jonah 2:5 NKJV) And yet, God still used Jonah for His purpose. God still sent Jonah to Nineveh. “Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.” (Jonah 2:6 NKJV)

When we pray, we might still be in our mess.
We might look a mess.
We might be a mess,
but when we truly pray and are obedient, we are victorious!
What is keeping you from obedience and praying?
Don’t wait until you are in a great mess to cry out to God.

 

Julie and her husband Steve reside in Jacksonville, IL. They enjoy the outdoors, working on their cars and seeking and sharing Jesus Christ through their ministry. Julie is not only a Christian author, she is also an audio technician, is self taught in the art of stained glass, and enjoys building her own furniture. Steve is an over the road truck driver who he enjoys hunting, fishing, and drag racing. (And helping Julie move her big, heavy, homemade furniture!) Their goal is to reach the world for Christ by sharing their testimonies and God’s Word. Visit julieshirkey.com/ to learn more about Julie’s ministry and to order her book, A Life in Christ: Seeking God’s Will.

Announcing:
ELIJAH is Available on Amazon

 

I am giving away a FREE copy of my new Bible study!

To be entered for the drawing simply comment below by midnight tomorrow
(4/24/19 11:59 pm CST, US addresses only, please.)
The winner will be drawn at random and contacted tomorrow.

Please help get the word out by sharing ELIJAH on your social media!

#ELIJAHLessonsonGod

Receive a sample (2 lessons) of
Elijah: Lessons on God and Godly Living from One Flawed Human to Another
ELIJAH Sample Download
To Purchase a copy of
Elijah: Lessons on God and Godly Living from One Flawed Human to Another
visit here.

The Struggle

Him [Jesus Christ] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

-Colossians 1:28-29

Serving God may require toil, the kind of hard work that wears us out. Doing God’s work can be a struggle because we are fighting an enemy (Satan) and overcoming obstacles.

Throughout our work for God, throughout the toil and struggle of our labor, we also know that it is God’s energy that keeps us going. He will work through us during our labor in a powerful way.

We must persist in the work of the Lord because others need to know the One who saved us and who is able to save them!

 

 

[Adapted from ELIJAH: Lessons on God and Godly Living From One Flawed Human to Another by Trisha L. Knaul.]

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

Fear

There is so much to fear in this world. If we let it, fear can paralyze us and render us useless. And rendering us useless in God’s battle plans is exactly what Satan is hoping for. He is a master at sidelining us. Sometimes we do not even recognize it.

For a long time I let fear paralyze me. Once I realized that fear was a problem, it took months to identify and deal with the different fears that were haunting me. The fact that I completed writing and publishing the ELIJAH study is proof that God is bigger than all our fears.

What do you fear? We worry about everything from our health to natural disaster. We worry that we can, that we can’t, that we will get hurt, that we will hurt others, that we will fail, that we will succeed. Our lives are filled with “what-ifs.” What if we followed Paul’s instruction to the Philippians?

…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Paul tells us not to be anxious. Instead we are to make our requests known to God. This is more than just listing our problems for God. It includes prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. We are to talk with God, sharing our wishes with Him—that is prayer. We are to ask for His help—supplication. We are to do it all while thanking Him.

The Greek word used here for everything is pás. It “means ‘all’ in the sense of ‘each (every) part that applies.’ The emphasis of the total picture then is on ‘one piece at a time.’” When we are anxious, worried, and afraid, we feel torn apart, and our loyalties become divided. Paul encouraged the Philippians to place each part of each fear into God’s hands.

That’s exactly what I had to do. Now it is your turn. What are you afraid of? Take time to analyze your fear. Is it really more than one fear? Identify the different parts. Take a few minutes to place each of your fears into God’s hands. Do not forget to thank Him for all He is doing.

When we place our fears into God’s hands, God will replace that fistful of fear with His peace. Surpasses is the Greek word huperechó which means “to hold above, to rise above, to be superior.” The kind of peace that we will receive in exchange for placing our fears into God’s hand is a peace that rises above our fears. By holding us above our fears, God guards our hearts and minds. So as you place each part of each fear into God’s hands, allow His surpassing peace to hold you above your fear.

We would love to hear your stories of overcoming fear in your life with God’s all-surpassing peace!

 

 

Today’s post was adapted from ELIJAH: Lessons on God and Godly Living from One Flawed Human to Another by Trisha L. Knaul (Week 2, Day 4). 

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

What Do You See?

Do you see what is in front of you? Or what you want to see?

Several years ago my daughter-in-law and I went on a trip with Kids Around the World. On our way to our destination, we had a long layover in Paris and took the opportunity to visit the Louvre.

By Victor Grigas [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

After roaming the halls filled with beautiful artwork for several hours, we came to a crowded room. At the end of this room, surrounded by people taking pictures and selfies, was the Mona Lisa. We didn’t even try to get through the crowd for a close look. I remember thinking it is smaller than I expected (a common first impression, apparently) and it isn’t anything special (sorry, art lovers).

What really blew me away though was what I saw when I turned around. On the opposing wall being virtually ignored by all those Mona Lisa worshipers, was a massive painting (22′ 3″ x 32′). Impressive in size, The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Veronese depicts Jesus’ first miracle where he turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkytheneoncat/4208121163

While I won’t get into the historical accuracy of the painting, it is a beautiful work of art. Much more impressive that the Mona Lisa. Yet, people flock to the Louvre to see her and have their picture taken with her. Then, the vast majority of them walk out of that room giving Veronese’s work little or no notice. The whole scene (in the room, not in the painting) just struck me as ludicrous. People were so intent on a tiny painting of an average woman that they couldn’t see (or didn’t care about) the larger painting.

The scene in that room at the Louvre made me wonder how often I do the same thing. Do I only see what I want to see about God? Do I focus on some tiny, unimportant detail in my life? Do I miss the larger picture? Do I miss Jesus in the midst of the big picture or the problem? Do I fail to see what He is doing because I’m hyper-focused on some detail that really isn’t all that big? Or do I take time to sit and look at Jesus and wonder at what He is doing within the larger painting of my life?

Luke tells us of a time when Jesus visited Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). During his visit, Martha was distracted by all the things she had to do for Jesus and his disciples. Mary took time away from those very same preparations to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. Mary was totally focused on Jesus. Martha was more than a little put out because her sister wasn’t helping so she went and complained to Jesus. Jesus recognized that Martha was worried and upset, but he also let her know that Mary’s priorities were right–only one thing in that home was necessary. Jesus.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [the things you need] will be give to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Like Martha, do I get so caught up in the details of my day that I forget Jesus? Or am I like Mary who focused on Jesus and his words? Do I focus on the things of God first?

How about you? Do you only see what you want to see about God? Do you focus on some tiny, unimportant detail in your life? Do you miss the larger picture? Do you miss Jesus in the midst of the big picture or the problem? Do you fail to see what He is doing because you are hyper-focused on some detail that really is not all that big? Or do you take time to sit and look at Jesus and wonder at what He is doing within the larger painting of your life? Do you seek the things of God first?

 

 

 

 

Broken

In my family we have experienced four broken arms, a broken finger, a broken hand, and even a broken skull. We have also had over a hundred stitches between us. There have been multiple x-rays and the occasional CAT or MRI. Sometimes we rush to the immediate care or emergency room. Other times we postpone the trip far longer than we should because someone is in denial about the severity of their need. As a general rule, however, when we feel as though something is broken, we seek medical attention.

As humans we treat our souls much the same way. We rush through life, never dreaming we might need to ask for help. Eventually something happens to cause us pain. Many times we recognize that the hurt is because something within us is broken. Occasionally we seek help. Yet, more often than not, we wait until the pain of our brokenness is unbearable before we seek the attention of the Great Physician–God Himself.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
–Psalm 51:1-2

Psalm 51 was written by King David when his sin of adultery was confronted. He was broken. He didn’t seek God until his brokenness was made obvious. In this psalm, David cried out for mercy and healing. His brokenness led him to God.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
–Psalm 51:10-12

David didn’t just ask for healing. He asked for restoration. He knew that God’s salvation would bring joy–in spite of his brokenness. He recognized that he needed God’s help.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
–Psalm 51:13

Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
–Psalm 51:15

When David asked God to heal his brokenness, he wanted both joy born of salvation and a willing spirit to sustain him in the future. With that sustained joy and willingness he would then teach other broken people about the Physician who could heal their brokenness, too.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
–Psalm 51:17

David’s sacrifice–the thing he would give to God–was his brokenness and newly humbled heart. With those he pleased God. With those he received healing. With those he would share God’s salvation with others in need.

Read Psalm 51.

Are you feeling broken?
Are you in denial about the seriousness of your need?
Have you taken your brokenness to God?
Are you experiencing the sustaining joy of salvation?
Are you willing to be used by God to tell other broken people about the God who can heal them?

 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Coming Soon: Elijah

Coming in April!

Elijah

Lessons on God and Godly Living
from One Flawed Human to Another
by Trisha L. Knaul

 

I have met with woman after woman who struggles with the same issues that brought me to a personal study of the life of Elijah. Many times I was approached by women who thanked me for being vulnerable and for the lessons they had been studying, especially in the areas of identifying their idols, of exhaustion (depression) and burnout, understanding their value and purpose, and recognizing the God who is in control. I was truly overwhelmed by the response.

People are hurting, are burned out, and do not recognize their value. Through this study I hope to help them recognize their Enemy’s lies and walk in the truths they learn about God and themselves from Elijah, “a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17, ESV).

This is a 6-week Bible study with 5 individual lessons per week and designed to be discussed in a weekly small group setting. Topics include: identifying and tearing down personal idols, discovering what God can do with flawed humans like us, returning to and walking with God, trusting God to provide for our needs, getting our priorities right, recognizing God in our circumstances, serving God by recognizing His gifts and using them, dealing with exhaustion and burnout, our identity and purpose, the value of our work, and more.

Visit here for more information on Elijah: Lessons on God and Godly Living from One Flawed Human to Another.

Stay tuned for ordering information!

Subscribe to the Bible Study Journey blog to receive a free sample lesson (PDF).

 

Moving Forward


Looking back makes it impossible to effectively move forward.

As our young sons enthusiastically ran out the front door to meet their grandparents, grandpa said, “I’m going to get you!” and took off running toward them. Michael quickly changed directions to run away. When he looked back to see how close grandpa was, he ran smack into a rather large tree. He hit the tree so hard that he fell backwards onto the ground and (I’m told) lost consciousness. Looking back made it impossible for Michael to safely move forward.

Another time, as we were hiking in the woods, our oldest son Steven turned around to tell us something as he continued to walk backward. As he went to turn back around, he hit the side of his head on a tree at the side of the path. Looking back had made it impossible for him to see the path ahead.

Jesus told his disciples: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

In order to ensure his plow would make a straight line, a farmer would fix his eyes on a point in the distance and aim for it. If he took his eyes off that point, his plow would begin to veer off course. A distracted farmer would have a field full of crooked rows. If he wanted the job done right, he kept his eyes pointed straight ahead and aimed for that fixed point.

In order for us to be effective workers in God’s kingdom, we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is our fixed reference point. If we look back (or around) at our problems, our lives and work will veer off course. We might even run into a few trees!

As we begin to think about making New Year’s Resolutions, we need to look to Jesus for direction. While it is okay to look around (and, yes, even back) in order to evaluate the last year and make plans for the next. Once we’ve done that, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, begin moving forward, and not look back.

As you walk through this next year, may you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Remember that looking back will make it impossible for you to effectively and safely move forward. May God bless your journey this coming year!

 

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2016 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.