Today

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
∼Matthew 6:33-34

Today

Today is my journey.

Today is not a race or a destination.

Today is a journey to be experienced and enjoyed.

Today is a teacher
imparting wisdom for tomorrow’s part of the journey.

Today is a disciplinarian
training me for the next leg of the journey.

Today is a cheerleader
encouraging me on through the rough sections.

Today is a photojournalist
recording the journey to help me remember
where I’ve been,
what I’ve done,
and what I’ve learned.

Today is an opportunity.

Tomorrow is full of possibilities.
Tomorrow is the hope that pushes me through today.

 

I found this little gem in my journal recently and thought it was appropriate in light of all the uncertainty in the world right now.

What journey are you on today?
Who is with you?
Who is waiting to be invited along?
What is there to enjoy today?
What is tomorrow’s possibility?
Have you been learning anything today?
Are there any special memories to be stored up?
Have you taken advantage of any opportunities today?
What hope for tomorrow is pushing you through today? Why?

 

 

 

 

 

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.™

6 S’s of Salvation

 

Summarizing the journey of faith is impossible because we are all so different. Despite those differences there is still only one way to God. (John 14:16) The 6 S’s of Salvation below show how all our different journeys share the same one way. We all begin at the same place…

 

SIN

Sin is doing what God has told us not to do (1 John 3:4) and not doing what He has told us to do (James 4:17). Doing what He told us not to do covers a litany of sins from lying to adultery to using the Lord’s name in vain. Not doing what He has told us to do can be more insidious. It is failing to honor our parents, failing to offer hospitality to others, or failing to love Him with all our hearts. Simply put: sin is disobedience to God. (Check out Defining Sin.)

Sin is the state we find ourselves in when we aren’t 100% devoted to God. Since none of us can claim to be 100% devoted 100% of the time, we all live in a state of sin. (“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23) That state of sin separates us from God.

 

SHAME

Shame is that feeling we have when we realize our sinful situation. Feeling mortified by our actions or attitudes, feeling humiliated by our situation, feeling worthless because of our choices or situation, and feeling powerless to change any of it, all bring intense shame. It is a shame sorrow that should move us to seek forgiveness from a loving God. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

 

SURRENDER

The only solution to our sin and shame situation is to surrender to Jesus – to repent of our sin. God will not force Himself on us. He waits for us to want to change and to want to be with Him. God waits patiently for each one of us to surrender our sin and shame to Him. (1 John 1:9; John 3:16-18) (For a more information, see Define Repentance.)

 

SALVATION

Once we surrender everything to God by repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus as our Savior, we enter His salvation. Laying all our sin and shame at the feet of Jesus and asking Him to be the Lord of our lives, brings forgiveness. (Romans 10:9)

 

 

SANCTIFICATION

Sanctification is the process of becoming holy (set apart) for God. Sanctification (as it refers to salvation) is a one time deal. When you ask God to forgive you and apply Jesus’ sacrifice to your sin, you are forgiven and receive salvation. You are immediately made a part of his holy people. (1 Corinthians 6:11) But salvation is just the beginning of the process of sanctification. It is through that process that we become more and more like Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23; John 17:17)

 

SERVE

Finally, the Christian is expected to serve Christ by serving one another. And not just serving one another, but doing so with love (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10; John 12:26; John 13:35)

 

ONE WAY

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  ∼John 14:6

The only way to God is through Jesus Christ. That path takes us from a place of sin and shame through surrender to salvation and sanctification and is seen through our loving service to others.

 

 

 

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.™

3 Important Questions for Bible Study

It is easy to get stuck in a routine without even realizing it has happened. If you have a routine that includes reading your Bible, has it become just that–routine? Don’t forget that this book is alive and each word was inspired for a reason. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself whenever you read a passage of Scripture. Asking these questions will elevate your study time from routine to challenging. Give it a try!

How does this passage apply to me?

Whenever you study God’s Word, you should ask Him to show you how it applies to your own life. That is your first (and most important) task. I challenge you to not only ask how but to do the work of appling the lessons you learn from studying God’s Word.

How can I use this passage to encourage another believer?

How can you use today’s lessons to encourage a fellow Christian. Did the passage you read today talk about the Jesus who overcame? How can you use that to encourage another believer? Was the passage about worry? Who can you share the lessons with? Take the time to widen your vision to include others.

How can I use this message to introduce someone to Jesus? And who will it be?

Finally, I challenge you to ask God to show you someone who does not know Jesus and to show you how you can share what you learned with them. Use the things you are learning to introduce others to the Jesus they don’t know.

Pray through each question!

Spend some time each day praying that God will reveal how your current study text applies to you, who you can encourage with it’s message, and who you can introduce to Jesus using what you have learned. Then, act on those discoveries.

I’m praying for you!

 

7 Tips to Improve Your Bible Study Time

Do you need some help starting a Bible study journey? Have you been on the journey for a while, but find yourself in a Bible study rut? Are you between Bible study sessions and just need some direction? Wherever you find yourself, here are 7 Tips that will help improve the time you spend in God's Word.

1. Pray

Always begin your time in prayer. Recognize the One who inspired and preserved His Word for you. Ask God to help you understand what you are about to read. Ask Him to help you have a teachable spirit so you will be able to learn and apply what you discover. Thank Him for placing His Word in your hands.

2. Read It Intentionally

Slow down and pay close attention to what you are reading. Try reading it in a version you are not familiar with. Force yourself to slow down and pay attention. Consider hand-copying what you are reading.

3. Read It Straight Through

Read the book (or passage) you are studying from start to finish. Don’t stop. Don’t look at commentaries or other study aids. Just read it.

photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash[/caption]4. Read It Again

When you read it the second time, note any interesting facts, record your personal insights, and jot down any questions you have.

Photograph by Bev Pomering5. Choose a few verses to memorize.

Concentrate on verses that summarize the theme of each passage.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplas6. Seek Answers

Now that you have read through it and written down the interesting facts, personal insights, and questions, seek more information. This is when you can look at the notes in your study Bible, commentary, or Bible study guide. A concordance and lexicon are also great tools for topic and word studies. Pastors and Bible teachers are also valuable resources. Try using resources from various theological viewpoints to challenge yourself to think about what you believe and why.

7. Read It Again

Now what you have answers to questions, and you have thought about what the passage means, read through it again to see if your understanding of the whole passage has deepened.

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.

 

 

 

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!

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