How To Get More From Bible Studying With Mapping

How To Get More From Bible Studying With Mapping

Getting all uptight searching for clarity, insight, and a bit of wisdom from your Bible  study lately? Sitting peacefully in the bright sunshine listening to birds chirping in the spring air, is most assuredly not what I have felt when studying the Bible at times. Getting all wound up and struggling to grasp the content shouldn’t be happening. A sense of calm and enlightenment is the hope when quietly sitting with my BIble and a cup of tea.  That’s how my mornings should begin…in peace and solitude with God.

I’m here to tell you, there is a better way than getting yourself all twisted up! Sometimes us girls just need a bit of direction and guidance…a map to follow directing our paths.  Mapping is just that tool.  Mapping brings focus to the blurry, clarity to ambiguity, and narrows focus from the broader picture.

Over the next several blog posts some tools are explained that will take your Bible study from drab to fab.  Learn how to break verses down, and get to know key people. These tools will challenge, inspire, and energize your study time.

So let’s get to ready for Mapping.

Today I want you to make a TRAVEL PLAN. You wouldn’t drive across country with out a map or GPS would you? So Map It Out.  What will it look like for you?  Is it going to be a time of scrambling and throwing things together to sit down and have quiet time…. for me that would already cause frustration. You wouldn’t leave your necessities for the trip behind would you? So make that packing list out,  and gather things you will need to study (Bible, Journal, pens, commentaries).

Next, where will you study?  Is it right in the middle of the living room with the TV on? No! Find a place that is as secluded as you can get, comfortable but not so much that it will make you curl up and nap.

Thirdly, Etch the time in your calendar. Think it and ink it! If you think mornings are best get it written in your calendar  Go ahead and set an alarm to remind you that this is the time you have dedicated to God.

Prepared to begin the adventure? Nope, not yet…..open your study time with prayer.  This is the # 1 tool with the biggest impact on your study time!  Prayer works to relieve the frustration and fear of not knowing enough and enables you to begin your quiet time free of any angst. The Holy Spirit, who is there right now with you; is waiting for you to ask for guidance, for understanding, and for discernment on how to apply the passage to your life.  Isn’t that an amazing gift?

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order that we may know the things freely given to us by God,  things which we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

Now that we have our Travel Plan made, let’s put it into practice each day.  Do you have a Travel Plan? What is it that would derail your travel plan?  Here is your free Travel Plan

 

Stay tuned to the blog for upcoming posts on verse, word, and character mapping.

Give Up

Give Up

Why giving up chocolate isn’t enough.

Ok, so maybe in my carb craving mind it is indeed a huge choice to give up….as I am quite literally sitting here snacking on a chocolate covered macaroon.  Two days before Lent and my mind immediately goes to the need to give this habit up. This year, I want us to consider this season and what it means to us and what it may mean to God.

The season begins with Ash Wednesday, a day many “give up” something for Lent, but what is another word for “give up”? Sacrifice. What did Jesus do? He sacrificed himself for mankind.

Have you considered giving up or sacrificing something?

I remember the days when I would give up chocolate…and thought that was indeed a sacrifice and I miserably failed at it! 

Thinking back on those “sacrifices” I made (and many never completed), I realized they were done not for Him but for me. I gave up things because they were bad for me or I wanted something in return – like to get healthy. With that also came this realization  –  God has never made a promise and not kept it.  Ugh! How guilty can I be of unkept promises each Lent!

Be encouraged to spend time and think on what your gift of sacrifice can be for Him; yes, give up something of yourself, just as Jesus gave up of himself.

You might be asking what part of myself can I give up? What about some of your Time, Talent and Treasure?  Things like: committing to start each day with prayer, or Bible reading, commit a random act of kindness each day, or serve a local charity, even increase your giving to the local church is an option of how you can sacrifice for Christ.  Just using our time, talents and treasures for His glory and not our own is a step in His direction. God wants a relationship with us and what better gift can we give than ourselves.

Give up
Give up to the One who gave it all

Be compelled to commit to the One who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf; for we would never be able to sacrifice enough, nor humble ourselves enough, to ever earn our way into His presence. Whatever it is, be sure your reason for your sacrifice is not for you but for the sake of Him who called us to be His own by His shed blood.

I would love the opportunity to see how you plan to sacrifice this Lenten season.   When you share your commitment in the comments,  I will commit to praying over you this Lent.

With the Love of Christ, 

JoAnn

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Love At First Sight

Love At First Sight

Divine providence and prayer, sounds kind of wonky if you don’t believe in a supernatural being – but it’s a good thing God is not a make believe character In a fairy tale.

Looking through the story of Rebekah and Isaac we see God’s mighty hand aligning the events from promises & prayers, to kneeeling camels & thirsty servants at a well, to the servant searching for just the right woman for His master & the unsurpassed generosity he experienced by Rebekah’s kindness, followed by the servant who gifts her with jewelry & the recognition of God’s role in the provision of a wife for Isaac.

Then we have this scene:

“Now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he dwelt in the South. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming. Then Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel; for she had said to the servant, “Who is this man walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took a veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭24:62-67‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
http://bible.com/114/gen.24.62-67.nkjv

 

How romantic!  It’s like a scene from a romance novel with the soon to be lovers locking eyes for the first time.   From beginning to end, the bride and groom were destined to be together by our Divine Creator who orchestrates even the movement of the stars.

Love Finds Joy
Love At First Sight – even the heavens have been arranged by Him

And yet we sometimes question His influence over our lives.  Why? Why would we question where God places us? Do we not have the faith that enables us to have joy in every situation?

 

Love in the Beginning 1983
Our Wedding Day of 30 years ago

The excitement in Rebekah and Isaac’s eyes as they encounter one another for the first time would make any wife envious of such a relationship. But think how stressful meeting a total stranger must have been for her. She was offered a groom she had never met, her family even had given her an opportunity to decline the offer, yet she boldly stepped out in faith to meet her groom with expectation and joy. The result of all these choices was the recognition by them both that this was a match made in heaven. Rebekah and Isaac had faith and did not deny that God had his hand over them. There were no questions, just acceptance and faith in their God.

 

 

This Valentine’s Day I would challenge you: to think on your spouse as the predestined man of your dreams, look upon him with eyes of excited joy and choose to recognize him as your match made in heaven. For it is in our choosing of the path laid out by God where we find the lasting love of our lives. May you see your spouse with new eyes this Valentine’s Day.  I would love to hear from you! In what ways can you seek to see your spouse with new eyes?

My Love Ed
My Love My Life My Husband for Life
Finding Joy in the Season of Change

Finding Joy in the Season of Change

I know! I wrote about finding hope in a season of change back in September and then promptly disappeared from the blog by the end of the month.  Not quite what I had planned but it was very necessary…..well at least it was for the maintenance of my sanity.

God had so much in store for my husband and I, and it was with rapid fire succession that it arrived.

We completed the sprucing up of our home, moved out of it, moved in with our daughter, staged our house, and then listed it with our awesome real estate agent

– all in the same week in October.

But before this was done, enormous amounts of prayer went in to it.  Prayer by friends, by our church family and ourselves. We trusted God to handle it all.  Have you ever found yourself in extremely stressful situations but found that you had peace and joy deep with in? Well I sure was not expecting that level of amazing blessing we received from trusting God to handle it all.

He handled it all and made sure we had a huge dose of joy to go through it all with.  

Our home went under agreement within 4 hours of it listing! We eventually closed on the house the day before Thanksgiving and celebrated with tremendous gratitude for God’s great blessing.

But He wasn’t done with us quite yet! Our plan was to build an in-law apartment at our daughter’s home but God saw fit to reveal a better plan, one that would enable us to live mortgage free in another home.  Who knew better then Him what our needs would be?  We were continuing to pray fervently for God to provide and He did!  A home we liked was not available initially and we settled on making an offer on another…yet God knew where we should be and the offer didn’t go through but, the  first home we liked became available to us within hours!  And so we bought it just before Christmas and now we are mortgage free and have been so appreciative of this great blessing that our God provided.

The Scriptures are full of examples of how God answered prayer.  Our requests may not be as big and powerfully needed but even the simplest request when spoken to God is heard.  

The best answers to prayer come when we wait with expectant joy, trusting in Him to provide the answers.

How has God answered prayer in your life? I think it would be wonderful to fill the comments with praises for answered prayers!

My Top 3 Beginner Bible Art Journaling Sites

My Top 3 Beginner Bible Art Journaling Sites

I know! You are freaking out at the very thought of writing in your Bible, well calm down Betsy 🙂   We live in a brave world where writing in your Bible is approved of, so why not get creative with your notes and journaling?

I started writing notes in my Bible way back when I became a Christian in the early 1980s… no I am not dating myself…much. My student Bible is chock full of various colored pen inscriptions and I treasure all the notes. Each entry marks my growth and understanding of scripture, it adds to the grounding of my faith by anchoring my thoughts on His written word. As my faith increased so did my notes; they grew to be color coded, then too many to write in the tiny margins of my study Bible and so I opted to stick note paper in between the pages. My Study Bible is well worn and even has had to be rebound. I treasure this book and hope to continue to add to it.

So with notes in my Bible being acceptable and useful, I suppose the natural progression was to illustrate in my Bible and it’s messages being revealed to me.  Back in November 2015 while doing a Google search of Bible verse coloring pages, I ran across beautiful pictures of other women being creative with their Bible journaling.  This intrigued me so much that I immediately looked at my collection of various Bibles to find an appropriate one to try this out on but nothing seemed appropriate and I ordered one online at Christian Book . I was so excited and waited patiently for it to arrive. But let me warn you, illustrating in your Bible can be addictive. I found that once I started, I was spending more time in the Word. The readings in my quiet time became a beautiful time where the Spirit would flow and help me focus on the verse I was illustrating and thereby often memorizing it. What a tremendously useful avenue to take in the study of scripture.

The journaling Bible arrived and bam! I couldn’t bring myself to draw in it.   I struggled, and I worried that I was not going to be good enough to illustrate in it and eventually ruin it by drawing in it. So I continued to scroll through Pintrest posts gleaning inspiration from hundreds of pins of women who were courageously drawing in their Bibles. That is when I ran across an entry from Lauren at the Thinking Closet blog titled  Permissions Page. and so this is the #1 site I would recommend starting at. Not because of beautiful pages (there are those), but because you may need to give yourself permission to be imperfect, to express what you are led to illustrate. It was a very freeing exercise and one that I periodically go to when I come across another area that I need to give permission for. I need to frequently remind myself that I am not an artist but I do love being creative and that is just fine and perfect enough for me and it is one of the ways I can worship my Creator God.

The 2nd site I love is Rebekah R. Jones Blog. I spent many months on her site.  Yes, I did say months. I found that her tutorials were what I needed to lead me to the creativity that lurked just below the surface. Her website has access to “challenges” from 2015 to present. These challenges offer video tutorials along with a chat about the passage being illustrated. I learned an incredible amount from Rebekah and cherished the time I labored over my Bible during my grandchildren’s naptime. Learning about journaling was not all I gained… so be warned! My Journaling supplies increased from Crayola colored pencils to Prisma Pencils, from kids watercolor pans to Inktense blocks and pencils and oh so much more!

geocaching grandkids
photo of my dear grandkids geocaching

After a while I realized that by doing these challenges – I was doing one every day for a while, that it became more of a list I was checking off and I did not want God’s word to be a list that I checked off. So I reverted back to doing my devotional readings and Bible studies.  From my regular quiet time I began to illustrate on my own as the Spirit moved me, and that felt right and good. That is about the time when I came across Shanna Noel’s Illustrated Faith Blog site. This 3rd site has devotionals, videos, supplies and more. I ordered a booklet devotional called Beautiful and began to use the devotional booklet to journal. Many of the contributors to this blog use vivid color, print and paste add ins, and stamps. You will enjoy the upbeat and heartfelt ladies here as they share their experience with you.

So, there you have it. The 3 sites I have frequented most for inspiration and tutorials. Be not afraid to embellish the pages of the Word of God with your creativity, after all the Gutenburg Bible had spaces set aside for “illuminated” decoration. If you would like to see more posts on Bible Art Journaling leave a comment below, or if you have a favorite site you turn to for inspiration please share it in the comments below. I would love to see what others are doing in their study time with this worship art form.

***just a word of wisdom: if you are using someone else’s design be sure to link back to the original artist and give them credit where credit is due.

colored pencil drawing from photo of grandkids
my blond grandchildren added to the pages of my Bible with colored pencils
Finding Hope in a Season of Change

Finding Hope in a Season of Change

Just write they say.  But what do you write about when your life is in a bit of a tumultuous season?  That season of course. 😊

I am in a season of change, much like the Fall we are just entering into here in New England. Some people have very strong feelings about entering into Fall…they see the trees loosing their leaves and the world around them turning brown, dark and cold. They fail to see the crimsons, and deep oranges that light up the trees or the refreshing breeze wafting through those leaves. The season of change is upon my husband and I… and I am choosing to look for the life giving joy this season will bring.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Our Fall is the process of prepping our house of 20 years for sale. Who knew so much needed to be done to a home we were comfortable in? Painting to flooring, landscaping to decluttering. It’s exhausting!  But this season is one I am excited about even if we are not sure where our next home will be or even what it will look like.  Wherever we may go to, I have one expectation and that is – I will be trusting in God to provide for our needs, prosper us and not harm us. I can focus on the emotional “loss” of our home through this sale, or I can focus on the blessings I experience every day and those I’m sure are yet to come in our next season.

This season is a beautiful season of change.  I choose to see the vibrant colors waving in the crisp Autumn breeze, I hope you do as well. If you liked this article, please feel free to share it on your social media accounts and I look forward to hearing about the season of life you are in.

How To Live Life Changed

How To Live Life Changed

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2 NKJV

What a great reminder to read…maybe everyday ..since I often need to be reminded if I fail at something.

It’s sometimes hard to grasp the concept that we are given a new life even though we are never perfect, since we are always sinning in one way or another. But the study I’m doing called You Are Forgiven is really opening my eyes to the fact that once a sin is confessed and we repent, it is gone – gone for good! Knowing this deep in your heart and mind makes you want to be different, you want to be who you were created to be. We were all created different, so you don’t have to try to be someone else, or do more to receive love and forgiveness. We only need to be the child  of God, the child he made us to be. Our loyalties now belong with a new Master, a new hope, and a new future. Our thoughts, our words, and our actions should reflect this.

“This ought to be the care of all who profess the Christian faith, that they be new creatures; not only that they have a new name, and wear a new livery, but that they have a new heart and new nature. And so great is the change the grace of God makes in the soul, that, as it follows, old things are passed away—old thoughts, old principles, and old practices, are passed away; and all these things must become new.” (Matthew Henry)

This brings me to another point that makes me think.
Are the results of God’s forgiveness evident in our lives? Do we look, and act, and talk like we are part of this world and comfortable here? I hope not! Because this world is not our true home and only God’s supernatural act of grace has the power to change the human condition. By being changed we now have been given the ability to know what is within the pleasing and acceptable will of God. Our job since being transformed and having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is to be obedient to the will of God. Easier said than done since I know that my base nature is corrupted by this world. Yet, I feel a deep compulsion to strive to improve my thoughts, words, and deeds; making them be acts of love for Christ.

Do you struggle with accepting forgiveness? Are your thoughts, words and deeds reflecting the world or God’s principles and practices? Please share with us in the comments, I would love to read your thoughts on it.

Praise be to God. The old has gone, the new is here!

Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass

I have often wondered what it would be like to see in the mirror an image being reflected back that is pleasing to me. You see, I had always been looking at my reflection and criticizing it;

I’m too plain,

I’m too fat,

I’m too short, 

and the list goes on of things I’ve told myself over and over again. That small voice in my head would always spout off about some perceived inadequacy being reflected and in time gave me a warped sense of myself.

My perceived self image began to be the truth that I saw each day. It wasn’t a pretty image. Many harsh feelings would swell up in me and made me long to be pretty, and skinny and oh…so smart. My husband and family often tried to give me praise for something but  I saw that as them trying to just bolster my mood.  I didn’t see what they saw.  More importantly I didn’t see what God sees.

Then, over this past year or so I have facilitated many bible studies for Love God Greatly and the scripture studies slowly but surely improved my vision. Verses began to sink in through the muck clouding my mind’s eye, causing me to reconsider who and what I am.

Our study of Ephesians gave me the ability to see I am created by God for good works. Ephesians 2:10

Our study in the books of Peter brought me to 1 Peter 3:3-4 where I learned that it was not about my exterior appearance and being able to adorn myself with jewelry, or painted pink toes but more about being respectful, gentle and quiet in spirit.

Our study on David brought me to 1 Samuel 16:7 where the bible tells us that the Lord did not consider David’s appearance when choosing him to be the appointed king but instead chose him for his heart.

How great is it that we were created by God for good, that He specifically chose us for this good thing on the sole basis of what is inside and not our outward appearance!  We are told from the very beginning that we are created by God in His image, an image that is good. So when you see your image in the looking glass consider just who you are criticizing, for God made you and He is the almighty One. Your looks, your talents, and your spirit were all fearfully and wonderfully made.

What do you see reflecting back in your looking glass? Are you willing to forgive yourself for the negative self-talk and accept the truth of who you really are? I invite you to share this post and share your thoughts in the comments about your walk through the looking glass to the other side where you see your true self.

Beginning August 29. 2016 the study “You Are Forgiven”  by Love God Greatly starts and I hope you can join us in this study. I have had the pleasure of being a member of the launch team where I was able  to read the book by this ministry before it became  available on July 28th, 2016…all for just an independent review. This 8 week study will take us through how Jesus obtained our forgiveness, what it means in our everyday lives and how it transforms us. I am excited for the message of forgiveness, so come and join us! You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Never forget, you are forgiven. Embrace that truth; let it soak down deep into your heart and let the truth change you from the inside out. Being thankful for what God has done for you, do the same for others.

-Love God Greatly

 

Swaying Trees

Swaying Trees

Bible Art Journaling isn’t new, but it is popular and trending right now. It is a form of worship where you take a passage that you’ve read and studied and let your creativity go to capture the message being revealed to you. I have come to be quite fond of the time I spend journaling during my devotions.  I find it beneficial as I’m dwelling on the passage the entire time I’m creating.  Don’t get me wrong, I am no artist, but that’s the beauty of it – you don’t have to have an art degree to get your creative side going, after all we were created in the image of God the Creator.

A group of women from my church gather together to study, create and have some fellowship.  We are all budding artists and braving the world of Bible Art Journaling. This month we took on Judges 9:7-15.

The major point of Jotham’s parable was that worthless people seek to lord it over others, and  worthy individuals are too busy doing the will of the Father to seek out positions of authority. The trees were seeking a king but were turned down; by the oldest -the olive tree, the most common – the fig tree, and the staple -the vine. All these, were busy serving and fulfilling their purpose. So, in desperation they turned to the bramble. Bramble was useful for kindling, it also frequently caught fire and spread through out the farms. The only requirement the bramble put out was that the trees seek its shade. Jotham uses  irony in this statement, for the shrub hardly casts a shadow. What Jotham was pointing out was that by making Abimelech their king they were appointing a worthless man and if what he said was true that they would be cursed. And so it came to pass that Abimelech ended up with a disastrously short and violent go at being King.

Lessons to learn from the trees:
1. There was no occasion at all for the trees to choose a king; they are all the trees of the Lord which he has planted ( Psalm 104:16 ) and which he will protect. Nor was there any need for the people to have a king for the Lord was their King. We are His people.
2. We lose our sweetness when we seek to elevate ourselves to positions of vain power
3. We must seek to be useful rather than to be great. Those that are useful are the true servants.
4. Who is your King? Is there something in your life that is elevated to the status of kingship?

I invite you you to comment below about your experience with Bible Art Journaling and share this post with others.

*Artwork done using pan watercolors on a page prepped with clear matte gel medium.

Running Like Jonah

Running Like Jonah

Oh Lord Have Mercy On Me! That’s what I was crying out to God when He started leading me towards writing. I’m a Registered Nurse by trade and so writing was not something I was fond of…in fact I like computer documentation where you check off the box and write a sentence or two. That is my style, easy and simple.

So,  like a good Christian soldier I ran like Jonah. But just like Jonah, I heard God calling to me again and again, so this time I set up a Facebook page that I would occasionally post some cute sayings and verses with equally cute pictures. Not quite what God was calling on me to do. For a time this was good and comfortable for me. So I let it ride like that for several years. Until now, this past month when I heard and felt a strong push to write. God never promised me it would be easy, but He promises to be with me through it all.

Now that I am done with my running I can listen to God closely. Do you have ears to hear Him? Do you hear him calling to you, pushing you forward?  I can honestly say discerning God’s voice is difficult to do when your eyes are off the Holy One. I learned that from many difficult times I had while running from God’s calling on my life. The lesson I learned from my running is this: that if you humbly present yourself before God, you will be changed into the person He wants you to be. Just call upon the Lord.

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