Pause. Breathe. Reflect

Tonight’s sunset is a great reminder to Pause. Remember who God is and that He has not abandoned you in your season of transition. Thank Him for His unfathomable love and constant care. Breathe. Take a few deep cleansing breaths to clear your heart and mind while leaning on your Father for endurance and strength. Ask Him to refresh and restore your heart, mind, body, and soul. Reflect. Reflect on where you have been, all God has done for you, and where He is leading you. Reflect on His promises, even if you are in a season of uncertainty. Rest in His presence and care. 
This may sound simple, but as I watched the sun sink lower in the sky and the colors reflect off the water, I did just that. Did my situation change? No. Did my perspective? Yes. Do I feel more in balance? Not even. Do I trust The One who is? Absolutely.  Did I get the answers I am searching for? No. Did my resolve to follow where my Savior leads strengthen? Definitely. 
Blessings!

Transition: On the Banks of The River, Intro. To Deuteronomy, part 1

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The sun is mercilessly beating down on you as you stand on the banks of the river. A bead of sweat runs down the back of your neck, but you don’t notice. Nor do you notice the people passing by or those swinging on the rope, plunging into the water. All your attention is riveted to the old man’s message. His last. You love this man. You respect him. He has been your leader, your shepherd, all your life. And you know his final words are going to equip you for victory and success, despite the conflicting emotions tumbling around inside. So you listen intently—because you are on the banks of the biggest transition of your life…

Transition. Did you wince at that word like I did? But if a transition is simply the passage from one state to the next, why is this word so distasteful, abhorrent, and even offensive? Is it because it’s BFFs with the word change? And nothing instills fear like the unknown. Or because change and transition have a bad reputation? Granted, they’re rarely smooth and easy. They have dips, bumps, blind-spots, and washed out roads. But they also have peaks, paved surfaces, dazzling vistas, and purpose.

Like puberty, transitions are a necessary part of life. And life isn’t stagnant. It’s constantly moving. Transitioning from one day to the next; one event followed by another.

I’m currently in a state of transition, and if I had to guess—you are too. For me it’s a change from designing landscapes to writing, blogging, and speaking about Jesus. To revealing the Vibrant Relevance of God’s Word in our day-to-day life. What’s your current transition? Are you on the edge of it, in the midst of it, or stepping out of it? What are you anticipating the end result to be? What are you excited about? Afraid of? Hoping for?

Some transitions are planned and have time to evolve and develop—beginning a new relationship, transferring schools, starting college, changing majors, and graduation. Others are abrupt, unexpected, and unforgiving—breakups, rejection letters, test failures, illness, divorce, or death of a loved one. No matter how or why transitions happen, they tend to bring fear, frustration, and difficulty with them—even when they’re for our benefit. BUT transitions have a way of shaping us and our character like nothing else can. They build into our integrity and refine our faith. They enhance our dependence on God as He guides us through. They also solidify our trust in His perfect control instead of our own. When we rise to occasion; transitions instigate growth, development, and maturity.

Think back to some of the transitions you’ve survived. Were they easy? Scary? Exciting? Adventurous? Challenging? Smooth? Were the end results worth it?

Deuteronomy is a book all about transition:
It’s Moses’s Swan Song to the Israelites before handing to baton of leadership to Joshua.
He’s speaking to Gen II; the children of the Israelites freed from Egyptian slavery.
The 40 years of wandering are over, and they’re on the east side of the Jordan River in view of Canaan, the Promised Land.
Joshua us about to lead them across the river to take over and settle in the Promised Land.

In this devotional we’re going look deeply into Moses’s messages to this young generation—and us: To remember what God had done for us so we will have confidence in following Him. To remember who He is and what He has done for us so we will love Hi completely and submit to His expectations of godly living. To learn what He has to teach us so we will be equipped to possess the Promised Land He is leading us to.

The generation that came out of Egypt believed IN God, but they didn’t trust Him. Their refusal to BELIEVE Him, caused their bodies to litter the wilderness for 40 years as opposed to living in the Land of Promise. Beloved, Deuteronomy is all about committing ourselves to God, and out of that commitment–loving, trusting, and obeying Him, even in the state of transition.

Bible Study Tips

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This is how I started studying God’s Word

and how I still do my Quiet Times now.

  1. Get a Bible, the actual book if possible
    1. If you don’t have one, that’s ok, there are many free Bible apps available. But when/if you can, get the actual book.
      1. Apps are awesome, but I don’t use mine when I study because I’m too easily distracted by notifications. They derail my train of thought and interrupt what God is trying to speak to me about.
    2. Plus having the book allows you to highlight verses and write margin notes—creating a journal of sorts to record your growing relationship with Jesus through life’s ups and downs.
  2. Get a notebook or journal
    1. I prefer a spiral bound journal and pretty colored pens. However, my boys prefer notebooks and black or blue ink. Either are perfect.
      1. My preference for journals is two-fold:
        1. They have heavier pages that don’t tear out easily making them last for years
        2. They can be fun, pretty, motivational, have verses in them, etc.
    2. I go back to my journals when I restudy a portion of Scripture.
      1. I always learn something new each time I restudy Scripture because as life changes, different things resonate with me that didn’t resonate before.
      2. Other times, I have to relearn something—get it driven by the Holy 2×4.
      3. But every single time I look back at my journals, I’m blown away by the contrast of where I was and where I am now. Of how God has changed me. Of how His grace has made me new. And then I fall in love with Him all over again.
    3. You can type your notes, but again, you have to take into consideration those pesky notifications. Plus—there’s something deeply personal in the act of putting a pen to paper in response to what God’s telling you.
      1. I retain things better and longer when I write them down as opposed to typing them. I also ponder more about what I’m writing and internalize it. And that, Beloved, is when change happens! I firmly believe journals are critical to your growth!
  3. Read the Scripture passage and record its address at the beginning of your new journal entry with the date.
    1. Example: Sept 1, 2017—Luke 1:1-4
  4. Summarize the passage in your words and engage with the passage.
    1. What are your thoughts, reactions, and questions
    2. How can I apply this to my life?
    3. If it doesn’t directly apply to my life, what instruction can I benefit from this passage?
    4. What new information can I glean about who God is and how He cares for His people?
    5. How did God blow your mind, bless you, call you out, challenge you, refine the direction and purpose He has given you, etc. ?
  5. Read the devotional and record your thoughts, reactions, and questions
    1. What is God saying to you?
    2. How is He blessing, encouraging, challenging, convicting you?
  6. Write a prayer to God
  7. It is only after this I consult any of my commentaries, lexical aids, or other books and resources.

I hope this helps. Blessings, Dear One!

Scripture’s Vibrant Relevance

 

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Have you ever opened your Bible knowing you should be reading it, studying it, engaging with it; but are not sure how or where to begin? This is a common predicament among Christians. And it’s causing an epidemic of Biblical illiteracy and weakened faith among many in the Church because it’s easier to clap The Book closed and turn on Netflix than to wrestle with the uncertainty. I know, I’ve been there. However, I no longer believe Satan’s lie that the Bible is hard to understand, archaic, and irrelevant. And it’s my ambition to teach you how to study God’s word so you can you stand firm in your faith and look that snake in the eyes and call him a the liar he is (Jn. 8:44).

In Ephesians 6, Paul teaches about The Armor of God (vs 10-18). This is our defense against Satan’s evil schemes, and it ensures our victory when we’re earnestly seeking God in prayer—no matter how difficult the battle is. At the end of the list he says, “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” This my friends is our one offensive weapon. And it’s the same weapon Jesus used to defeat Satan while being tempted in the wilderness (Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12-13; Lk. 4:1-13). Beloved, if our sword is dull we’re limited in our ability to fight back against Satan’s tricks and subterfuge. So let’s sharpen it and learn how to wield it.

I know studying the Bible can be challenging. Things like the differences in time, culture, and language are very real barriers to fully understanding it. And knowing how to read the different types of literature recorded in the 66 books that make up this cannon is another. But as we go through devotionals together, I will teach you how to break down those barriers to reveal the Bible’s Vibrant Relevance in your day-to-day life.

Consistent Bible study is like fertilizer to your faith. It enhances significant growth and development, allowing you to become strong and deeply rooted in your faith and relationship with Jesus. And as you fall in love with your Savior and follow Him more closely; your trust in Him will explode, you will discover your purpose here on earth, and will overflow with the Holy Spirit’s power—which is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:19-21). Are you ready to join me in this adventure?

 

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