Tag Archives: Bible Study

6 Ways To Make Reading The Bible In A Year Work For You


Our church has decided to read the Bible in a year. 

I’ll be honest, even as a pastors wife, this seems daunting to me. I would probably not do it on my own. But the prospect of reading it as a church family—in communion with God and His people for one full year—definitely motivates me. 

  • What revival within my own heart could this journey provide? 
  • What power could God display through a people pressed in, searching Scripture together? 
  • What spark could ignite through the conversations, the accountability, the vulnerability we present when we are all, literally, on the same page? 

I can’t wait to find out!

If I am going to say YES to this intensive time in God’s Word, and reap the benefits of it alongside my church family, then I need to have a game plan. 

Perhaps these ideas will help you too!

1. Wake up 30 minutes earlier: Studies show its amazing what you can get done if you wake up a half-hour earlier each morning, particularly to accomplish a specific goal. 

2. Skip a day, and let it go: Life happens, and most of us will fail to stay on track. Instead of racking up the missed chapters and lagging behind, stay on track with the group. Its unconventional, but it has power. Briefly scan the missed chapters to catch up, the read the Scripture of the day as planned, along with the rest of your group.

3. Listen to it: Put an audio Bible on in your headphones at the gym, or your car stereo on the drive to work. Hearing names or foreign locations pronounced can simplify how your brain digests certain passages (the book of Numbers, for instance).

4. Bring it up in conversation: Use the readings to spark conversation and pursue great vulnerability with others on the Bible in a Year journey. Share what you are learning, ask tough questions, brainstorm application, and celebrate the wonder together!

5. Replace screen time with Scripture: Download the Bible app on your phone or iPad and click it first before other apps steal your attention (Candy Crush, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) Think of the go-to screen time moments: lying in bed trying to wake up/fall asleep, waiting in the grocery store line, killing time between classes, on the porcelain throne (oh come, on let’s all admit it!) are great opportunities to read a quick chapter from the Bible. 

6. Make it a habit: Sometimes, we don’t feel like reading Scripture. So we don’t, claiming it has no meaning if our hearts aren’t in it. But, we still brush our teeth, eat vegetables, work out, go to jobs, and clean our homes every day, even when we don’t feel like it. These are non-negotiable for our health and citizenship and well being. Why should our spiritual health and heavenly citizenship be any less? 

I am finding so much energy as the New Year approaches! With heart wide open, I pray for the presence of Jesus to flood our awareness as we pursue Him together. 

Download the YouVersion plan ‘CCV: The Bible in ONE Year’. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/m 

For more tips on conquering the most convincing reasons for not reading your Bible, check out my post, “10 Go-To Excuses to Avoid Studying The Bible.” 

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Pumpkin-Spice Quiet Time 

Pumpkin Spice Quiet Time: Delighting in Jesus in Response to His GoodnessThere is nothing like spending time with God in autumn.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8
All around us, the world is preparing for cooler weather. However, as followers of Jesus, we must not let the migration indoors catalyze a hibernation of our hearts.
My suggestion: “Pumpkin-Spiced Quiet Times.”
In the wake of autumn, pumpkin-spice is returning to our favorite coffee shops and packaged food lines (pumpkin-spice Cheerios anyone?), and the fans are going crazy! The social media world has documented our delight over this fall-flavor for years. There is no doubt it–Pumpkin-Spice delights the masses.
I am reading Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman, which I highly recommend. This book challenges readers to have an intimate relationship with Christ–one which requires sacrifice, commitment, and a re-arrangement of the heart. Not just an excitement about Jesus kindred to our excitement about s’mores of pumpkin-spiced chai lattes. To be a Christian, Christ requires the Lordship of our lives, which means HE is in charge, not us.
Idleman repeatedly challenges the “Christian-culture” way of claiming Christianity. I agree, we need to stop being fans of Jesus and truly submit to Jesus as Lord.
However, I do think there is a place for the pumpkin-spice kind of delight we can receive from spending time in God’s Word.
Full disclosure here: I am DELIGHTED by Jesus! I am excited about Him, and IN LOVE with Him. Spending time with the letters of love and truth He wrote for us (Scripture), floods me with bliss. I cannot help but get giddy sometimes.
And you know what!? I actually really appreciate Instagram posts about someone else’s time with God too. Those pictures with the steaming cup of tea and the vase of flowers next to an open Bible… some may label them cliché or staged, but when I see them while scrolling, it’s like the mouth of my soul starts watering. Those posts stir my appetite for some intimate time with my Savior, much like a post about sweaters and s’mores makes me long for sometime cozied-up by the fire with a roasting stick in hand.
Maybe I am shallow (or perhaps I am just incredibly susceptible to advertising). However, I think there is value in the childlike delight over Gods Word that makes us want to document our time with Jesus and share it with others.
I think if king David could have downloaded a social media app, he would have occasionally posted something similar:

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.

 Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.
I am NOT advocating for a self-centered, attention-seeking, find-what-feels-good kind of faith in Jesus. I am not suggesting our quiet times should revolve around how “Instagram-able” the setting is. Delight in our Savior should never replace submission to Him. Rather, delight is a beautiful response to humbly surrendering our wills to our KING!  (Need an example of this? The 2016 film Risen inspired and humbled me with its portrayal of the disciples’ giddy delight in knowing the risen Savior. View it and tell me what you think!)
There is no shame in wrapping up a comforter and sipping a steaming cuppa pumpkin-spice-something-or-another while reading your Bible. You have permission to ENJOY those cozy moments with Jesus this season, filling your soul with good old-fashioned comfort food for the spirit.
And if you feel like sharing, don’t hesitate to document it all on Instagram! Use #campfiregrace to stay connected.
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6 Reasons to Prioritize Time with God in Hard Times: Why Bible study should be the last to go when you are tired, exhausted, sick, grieving, etc.

I recently took about a week of from my study in Leviticus. After spending a weekend at a retreat (which when you are caring for 7 month old twins translates from retreat to “high demand situation”), I found I was losing the battle with a lingering cold. Exhausted, I felt all I could do was care for babies, then crash on the couch or bed while they napped, getting in some R&R myself. I tried to journal and read a little of the Bible during this time, but after a few days of half-hearted devo time, I gave up. After a week of this, I noticed a dramatic change in my attitude, my thoughts, and my actions.

I am convinced my lack of spending time in prayer and reading God’s word had a profound effect on my life, and the lives of those around me. So why is it the first thing to go when my circumstances aren’t normal?

So here are 6 good reasons I found to prioritize my time with God, regardless of my circumstances:

  1. It sets the Symota for the day.
  2. When I put God’s priorities first, He provides time for everything else that is truly important.
  3. It gives me proper perspective of my circumstances.
  4. It reminds me that victory is on its way… I do not have to live as though I am defeated.
  5. “If you skip one day of spending time with God, nobody notices. If you skip 2 days, your family notices, if you skip 3 days, everybody notices.” Unknown.
  6. When I fail to spend time with God, I inevitably replace it with time feeding my flesh. I then begin to display the fruit of the flesh (rudeness, anger, cynicism) instead of the fruit of the Spirit.

How do you notice your life changes when you skip spending time with God?

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You’ll Never Believe How Leviticus 12 Gives Hope and Help for New Moms

Hello, new mama. Welcome to this glorious new role and privilege. I’m not sure I will ever find the depths of beauty and demand to this thing called motherhood. Thankfully, God gives us an impactful hidden treasure in the middle of Leviticus to help us in this transition into motherhood.

I have been journeying through Leviticus for a few weeks now. Today’s reading was long and tedious, I will admit. But with some extrabiblical help, along with prayer and an open heart, I have found great encouragement and strength for my job as a mom.

For this study through Leviticus, I am journaling through 3 prompts (in green) for each chapter. Here’s what God gave me today as I read Leviticus 12:

What thoughts or questions do I have about this chapter:

  • Why did God prescribe different lengths of time for purification?

Does God value males more than females? The different lengths of time for purification might suggest that He does. However, the fact that the same type of sacrifice is required for either a boy or a girl suggests that He doesn’t. We see all over Scripture that God values gender differences and encourages appropriate attention to each specific role, but He does not value one gender over the other.

One explanation is a woman would need to be available to care for her son’s circumcision, and so the time for her purification after the birth of a male was shorter.

  • Why was the woman required to offer sacrifices after giving birth?

The text tells us a woman must offer a burnt offering and a sin offering. We remember that a burnt offering symbolizes the woman giving her whole self to the worship and service of God (more on this below). The sin offering, we remember, was to atone, or pay for, any unknown sins. However, Leviticus 12:7 specifically says the sin offering was to become “clean from her flow of blood.”

Does this mean God disapproves of fertility and childbirth? The laws for purification in Leviticus 12 seem to imply He might.

My study Bible comments on this passage with this:

“Note the use of ‘clean’ rather than ‘forgiven,’ affirming that the issue prompting the sacrifice was not sinfulness.”

“Since life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), any loss of blood called for purification in honoring the sanctity of life.” (“Biblical Womanhood: Why is There a Difference in Purity Laws”, The Study Bible For Women, pg. 133)

We must remember the over-arching theme of Leviticus, to “be Holy as I am Holy.” God requires his people to be different, separate, and other-than the world around them. The calling for women’s rituals after childbirth is another example of a way the Israelites had an opportunity to be holy.

What does this tell me about God:

  • God calls his people to a relationship with Him at every stage of life.

I love that God gives the woman a chance to offer her whole self in worship yet again. Through the two sacrifices, her sins were paid for and her whole self is symbolically given yet again to God in worship.

What a relief that God calls His people back to focus on Him, holistically bringing all aspects of our identities into the singular purpose of worshipping Him. I am a wife, teacher, daughter, and brand new mom, but first and foremost I am a child of the King of kings.

How can I live in light of this:

  • I can worship my way through identity shifts and seasons of struggle.

During my pregnancy, and in the months to follow of caring for newborns, I struggled to stay focused on God. I have no problem acknowledging my hormonal instability during these seasons and how it affects my propensity to sin.

It’s my default mode. My thoughts, words, and actions gravitate to self-focus (even in the selfless act of caring for babies), instead of worship and God-focus. When my flesh is in turmoil, it is so easy to revert from being “holy as God is holy,” into the default mode of being rude, cynical, demanding, doubtful, and idolatrous (putting other things as more important than God).

I am so grateful that God provided for women in Leviticus 12, to commemorate the momentous occasion of becoming a mother. I can live accordingly with my new identity as a mother by daily re-entering into a right relationship with God, and worshipping Him fully in my new roles and responsibilities.

How have you maintained closeness in your relationship with God through identity shifts?

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Leviticus 1: Burnt Offering of Worship

 A Study in Leviticus: Chapter 1

I woke up late today, but as I mentioned earlier, I am determined to study Leviticus. I am confident there is truth in this book that will lead me to a greater understanding of God and therefore, more abundant worship of him.

So I sat my babies down with toys and rattles and a large mirror. My plan to have “Breakfast with Jesus” failed when I downed my egg sandwich faster than I could open my Bible and find Leviticus chapter 1. However, I found the chapter and began reading aloud.

With my handy questions written in my journal, I filled in the blanks as follows:

  • What does this say about God?
    • His interaction with Moses in Verse 1 shows me God is personal and intimate, not aloof and uninvolved. He is in pursuit of a direct relationship with man.
    • He is also direct and detailed in His expectations (whole chapter). I know my husband appreciates it when I am direct and detailed in what I would like for a Christmas gift. (The Bible he gave me wasn’t a spontaneous idea of his 🙂 )Similarly, we can be grateful that God gives us specifics in how to worship Him.
  • How can I live in light of this?
    • The specific details about the burnt offerings remind me that God is worthy of my best. I don’t want to give God secondhand worship. I don’t want to be distracted in my praise of him.
    • When I offer God my heart, time, money, talents, etc… I should be giving him the best I have, as He required the Israelites to do so in Leviticus.
    • Today, I will do that by serving my family as if I was serving Christ, eagerly and cheerfully, humbly and honorably.
  • Does anything else stand out/do I have questions?
    • What is the difference between a burnt offering and a sin offering (which we will read about in chapter 4)?

How did your study time go? Did you pull out some resources or handbooks and go deeper than I did today? What did God teach you? Join the conversation below!

 

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Leviticus: The Outline

A Study in Leviticus: Outline and Overview

Here the whooshing sound? That is the air flying past your ears as you jump, cannonball-style into the unknown territory of Leviticus.

Thanks for joining me, for challenging me, to study Leviticus.

There is encouraging, relevant and applicable truth in this book. And I am determined to discipline myself to discover it. Here’s how I’m getting ready:

Tools:

  • Study Bible: I am using my new Study Bible for Women, HCSB that Shane got me for Christmas. I appreciate that someone way smarter than me has done the homework and research about Leviticus, and included notes, definitions, timelines, and overviews to help me understand the book better. If your Bible does not include study notes, I suggest having your research tools handy for tough questions.
  • Research Tools: If you would like to dig deeper, I highly recommend grabbing one or both of these helpful study books. Personally, I might consult these books once or twice in my study, but not necessarily every day.
    • The Bible Knowledge Commentary
    • Zondervan Handbook to the Bible
  • Journal: I plan to address 3 simple thoughts on each chapter.
    • What does this say about God?
    • How can I live in light of this chapter?
    • Did anything else stand out/ do I have any questions?
  • 20 minutes of time: I take this time in the morning while I eat breakfast, while my 5-month-old twins are at their happiest. They play on the floor as I read the chapter for the day out loud to them.
  • Prayer: I know I need help. This book contains a lot of ancient concepts with monumental significance. “Lord, please open my mind to understand you more clearly, and prepare my heart to follow you more closely through my time studying this book.”

I plan to read one chapter a day. I realize that it is crucial to also take a holistic approach when reading a book like Leviticus. The books of the Bible weren’t segmented into chapters when first written. I’d like to read through the whole book in one sitting, but for now, I don’t have the time or mental focus to do so. Thankfully, I have a few resources to help me grasp the overall content of Leviticus.*:

Outline:

The Study Bible for Women gives the following overview:

3 Major Themes: Holiness, Sacrifice, and Atonement

Overview:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart (1:1-16:34)
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself (17:1-34)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary splits into these 2 sections: 

  1. The Way of Approach to God by Sacrifice (Chapters 1-16)
  2. The Walk of Holiness before God by Separation (Chapters 17-27)

Having different perspectives can be helpful in our study of Leviticus.

 Theme Verse:

You are to be holy to Me because I, Yahweh, am holy.” Leviticus 20:26a

Already, I am getting the chills. I began reading a book for pastors wives about understanding my current role in life. Ultimately, I kept returning to the fact that God calls me to “be Holy as I [God] am holy.” Wow, Leviticus is incredibly relevant to this stage in my journey right now!

I’ll begin blogging tomorrow about my study through Leviticus, chapter 1. It takes a certain amount of spiritual maturity to walk through the books most Christians avoid. I’ve got my big girl shoes on and am ready for the journey. Will you join me?

What resources have you found most helpful as you start to study this Old Testament book?

Feeling less than motivated to join in the study of Leviticus?

Maybe you have just need a few tips. Visit my Pinterest page “Bible Study Tips” for helpful hints and resources for almost every type of non-studier. Or click on the link below:

Bible Study Tips Series

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Why Should I Study Leviticus?

While writing the “Bible Study Tips” series, I asked several people what keeps them from studying the Bible. One of the most intriguing answers was the following:

How does reading Leviticus going to help me manage my time better so that I can maintain my 3.8 GPA while taking 21 credits?

This question definitely has a “me-focus” attitude behind it, which was addressed in the following post:  Bible Study Tips for the #Selfie.

Still, I think the root of the question is, “how does Leviticus make a difference in my life?” Self-focus aside, this is actually a great question!

My first reaction is: “hey sister, I know where you are coming from. Leviticus is b-o-r-i-n-g.”

Most of us think about it as a black hole in the Bible… the book we skirt around quickly to avoid confusion and boredom. Leviticus is like the road sign announcing “Now entering Kansas”…. Ok, wake me up when we get through it. For many, Leviticus functions solely as a launch pad into the New Testament; we hear the words “grain offering” and immediately feel “led by the Spirit” to read the book of John again.

Ah the book of John, so straight-forward, so helpful…

Then I thought about it. What is Leviticus actually about? My curiosity got the best of me and I read a little. Maybe there is something in this book that could teach a truth about God, or remind us of His love… not to mention maybe help with time management.

So, back to the question:

“How does reading Leviticus going to help me manage my time better so that I can maintain my 3.8 GPA while taking 21 credits?”

Answer: Why don’t we read it and find out?

It has taken me a year to start my journey through Leviticus (the twins were a bit of a distraction). However, I am finally going to take the next month or so to study and unpack the book of Leviticus, using all of the tools mentioned in the recent “Bible Study Tips” series. I encourage you to join me. I’ll start posting about my journey next week, a chapter a day. Why not take this time to discover this book for yourself before I share?

There are only 27 chapters, each fairly short (which we can’t say about Psalms, ahem); hopefully we can tackle this book in less than a month. I’ve got my Study Bible ready, along with a journal, and a list of questions to ask along the way, like these:

  1. What does this passage say about God?
  2. How can I live in light of this passage?
  3. What else stands out to me/what questions do I have?

 

So dear friends, what do you say, WHO WANTS TO STUDY LEVITICUS?!

(comment below if you are in.)

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10 Reasons to Study your Bible During Finals Week (Psalms 119)

10 Reasons to Study your Bible During Finals Week (Psalms 119)The end of the semester is approaching fast, and with it, final’s week. So we’ve provided a list of quick tips for studying… your Bible! Don’t forget to engage in some much needed time with God in the next few weeks. Here are a few good reasons why, according to Psalm 119:

1. To finish strong, you will try to study well, avoid opportunities to cheat, and make the most of your last weeks as a student: 

“How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.” Verse 9

2. Unfortunately, there will still be moments you might feel like a complete failure:

“I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.” V. 25

3. Because finals week can lead to some crazy emotions:

“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.” V. 28

4. And there are far too many negative activities to tempt you during a study break, which will only tear you down and distract you further:

“Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” V. 37

5. Snacking on unhealthy foods while studying can lead to an unhelpful sugar crash.:

“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” V. 103

6. When you can’t memorize the standard deviation formula for your Statistic’s final, remember:

“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” V. 130

7. More than likely, you’re going to pull an all-nighter. Lucky for you:

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” V. 105

8. Or, you inherited masochists for group project partners, and they all decided to meet at 6AM to finish the project:

“I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.” V 147

9. In the end, you may have to question an unfair grade, or a professor that overlooked your effort. Do not be discouraged. Remember that sometimes….

“…Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word.” V. 161

10. When it is all over, you’ll want to party like it’s 2000 and Y2K fell through. Remember to give credit to God who helped you through it all:

“I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.” V. 162

Keep your Bible handy these next few weeks. Try reading a section of Psalm 119 every few hours during your study time (there are 22 stanzas, one for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet). You may find the insight and encouragement to be just the right perspective for all the stress and deadlines of finals week.

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Remembering God’s Goodness

Photo by Kristen Shipps/ used with permission.
Photo by Kristen Shipps/ used with permission.

Hebrews 3:6 says this:
“Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”

Later in the chapter, the author describes a group of people who did not hold fast to their relationship with God, who “always go astray in their hearts.”

As I read Hebrews 3 today, I recall how necessary it is to remember God’s goodness. The Israelites forgot, time and time again, how God saved them, fed them, led them. I don’t believe we “lose our salvation” each time we despair, question, or ignore God’s work in our lives. But I do accept the reminder: there will be “rest” for the believers who hold fast to their identity in Christ.

It makes sense really. Like Peter, when we take our eyes off of Jesus and onto the storms in this life, we start to sink into the waves.

May we not forget our great God. Rather, let us remember our identity as children of God in Christ. Like Hebrews 3 says, we should be constantly bringing up the hope we have.

Like a kid who wont stop asking why….

Like a teenager who can’t stop checking Instagram for a “like.”

Like a grandpa who shares the same awkward story at every family get together.

In other words, we have full permission to be restless in reminding our souls, our family, our world, that we, INDEED, have hope!

I find there are 2 effective ways to do this: by remember the journey and just keep walking faithfully.

I spent some considerable time flipping through old journal pages. It is so good to remember where I was, and how God made such amazing things happen in those times.

Jesus has taught me so much.
He has answered so many prayers.
In His grace, I have become a beautiful woman, confident in Christ.

By reading of His faithfulness personally in my own life, I am filled with confidence and gratefulness. It is going to be easy for me to “boast in my hope” today.

In addition to remembering God faithfulness in the past, I believe we are called to walk obediently into our future. Obedience to God is the greatest display of our hope to the world. Do not harden your heart, but listen, follow, and obey…. always remembering His goodness.

How are you remembering His goodness today?

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Getting back into God’s Word

Today, I couldn’t find my Bible.

How embarrassing.

It has been a busy season. What was the first thing to go? My Breakfast with Jesus….. and while we are on the subject, I let go of most of my fantastic habits ;( 

Anyway, since we host many-a-Bible study, we have a LOT of Bibles floating around the house. Another privilege I’ve been taking for granted.

Last  night, I asked my impressively encouraging small group to hold me accountable to reading the Word of God again. And I know they will, because they are just that reliable and awesome.

So I am posting this helpful questions chart again as a reminder and tool and I dive back into God’s precious Word.

chalk bible questions

If you, like me, have been avoiding it, or just forgetting it… Join me to a fresh devotion to truth. We all falter, but Gods grace meets us there. He picks us up, sets our feet sturdy on the path… but it’s up to us to take that first step with Him again.

Oh and for the record, I found my Bible. It was on a shelf beneath my computer screen. I put it there to remind myself to study it. Fail. 🙂

A tool/reminder for study: Use the above picture as a background for your smart phone or desktop. Or copy the questions below and paste to a Word Doc. Feel free to print and make a study binder for whatever book you are studying from the Bible.

  1. What does this teach me about God? 

  2. How can I use this information to worship God in a deeper way?

  3. How does this change the way I think about Jesus?

  4. What am I grateful for regarding this passage?

  5. What don’t I like about this passage? Why?  

  6. Can I trust the God of this chapter as much as I trust the (same) God of the other books of the Bible? Why or why not? 

  7. How does this chapter challenge me?

Happy Studying!!!
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