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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rambling Thursdays

The gardening season is amping up and my green thumb is tingling. Daffodils are blooming. Flowers are coming up. I love to watch everything come to life after the winter. 

I have a lot to do to prepare for the summer. A lot of things to keep track of. Now what did I plant here? What is this plant coming up? What should I buy and plant this year? 

It can be daunting and a journal helps mightily. I bought a Moleskine a few years ago and love it. It has helped so much to tie up the loose ends. 

This journal has five tabbed sections you can personalize anyway you like. The journal includes stickers and a hinged compartment at the back. 

I glued pictures of flowers I planted and keep tabs on how it grew for me and other key information about the flower. 

There’s a gridded design section I use for planning new gardens and keeping track on where I planted stuff. I even use one section for the weather. I can tell you when our first snow fell three years ago. Vital information! Okay, I’m a weather geek too. 

I love this journal. If you aren’t as passionate about gardening as I am, don’t worry, Moleskine carries a wide variety of journals for any passion you may have. I have a friend who loves antiques and bought a journal to keep track of what they bought and where they shopped. 

I hope you are enjoying this Spring. Stop and enjoy the flowers. Plant some and the butterflies will come. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Six helpful Bible study tips

How do you study the Bible in practical terms? How does it work in real life? 

In my last blog I shared how the Word of God transformed my mind and even changed the course of my life. I received a great response and so I would like to elaborate on this further. 

*Choose a Bible you can understand. 
There is an array of different Bibles and it can be a bit intimidating. Also there are so many translations. So I’m sure there is a Bible that will fit you. Try it online first. Go to a bookstore and look at them in person. Ask your friends what they like. 

My favorites are: NIV study Bible. I’ve had one for many years and it’s great for in depth study. There are cross references in the middle and commentary at the bottom. The NIV is very easy to understand. 

ESV (English Standard Version), is a new version that I am enjoying. It is a smaller Bible I take to church, my Bible study and I use it when I teach or speak. Since I am a writer I love words, and the ESV is written beautifully. I’ve been very pleased with it. 

The Message Bible. This Bible reads like a book. I use it online from time to time to better understand a verse I’m pondering on. 

These are the ones that I am very familiar with. Again do your research and I’m sure you’ll find one to your liking. 

*Choose a theme, book, or person to study. 
I realize this could be intimidating also. What to study? Which book of the Bible? What studies should I use? 

I’ve used many Bible studies over the years. There are wonderful ones in book form or online. A few I am familiar with are:  She reads Truth is an awesome Bible study you can follow online. Proverbs 31 ministries have online studies. I love Kay Arthur’s Precept Ministries. She has online studies and wonderful study books. I use them for my Sunday School class. 

You could also choose a person in the Bible to focus on. Choose a theme, such as faith, prayer, etc... Focus on a certain book of the Bible. There is no set way to study the Bible, just get your spiritual pick and start mining the truths of God’s Word. There are gems there for the diligent and seeking heart. 

*Set aside a time and place to study.
Make it a special place. I have a study/office. My desk faces a window that looks out on my bird feeder. This is my special place every morning. Now  you may not have a place like this. It doesn’t have to be fancy. But just make it your place to meet with Jesus. Moses had his Tent of Meeting in the wilderness where he had his “face to face” with God. 

Now as for the time, that is totally up to you. My best time is in the morning. Yours may be different. It may not be an easy thing to set aside time. There will surely be plenty of distractions to pull us away from that “good portion.” Luke 10:42  

*Use Bible online study helps.
I have two sets of commentaries on my bookshelf and I treasure them. I have The Pulpit Commentary and Matthew Henry. If you don’t have any, there are plenty for you to dive into online. Bible Study Tools is a wonderful website that has access to commentaries and different Bible versions. Kay Arthur’s Precept Ministries study website is my favorite. You will find an endless supply of commentaries and sermons. She also has some verse by verse commentary. It’s my frequent source when I study. 

*Know that “no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

In 1 Corinthians 2:11-14 it tells us:  For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

Commentaries, sermons, Bible studies are all wonderful sources we can dive into when we study. But there is no substitute for our teacher, the Holy Spirit. 

He will “open your eyes to the wonderful things in the Word” Psalm 119:18. Pray before you study. Ask Him to teach and show you “the great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3. 

Take your time. This doesn’t have to be about reading a chapter a day or the Bible in a year, although these are great things. You’re not speed reading. Remember you are mining the gems of His Word. The Holy Spirit isn’t impatient. Ponder and meditate on what you are studying. Sometimes I will camp out in a chapter for a few days. 

Also we need to realize that we are all in different seasons of life. I’m a empty nester who works nights. So I have the day basically to myself. You are probably in a totally different place. 

Whether you are a young mother, a working mom, a empty nester such as myself, whatever stage you are in; this time in the Word is vital like food. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

I still have to make an effort, a choice to get off the couch and away from the TV and social media to study the Word. 

*Write down your thoughts.

I mentioned in my last blog that I keep a journal. I have found this to be invaluable. I love to write anyway, but it’s also very practical. If I don’t write down my thoughts, I will forget them later. I can look back on something I studied a few months ago and the Lord can encourage me through that entry. It’s been a great tool for my blog and for teaching. 

Lastly I want to recommend a Bible podcast that I am loving. Daily Audio Bible. I’ve been telling all my friends about this. I listen everyday. Brian Harden will take you through the Bible in a year. He has such a soothing voice. It’s very calming. He usually shares from his heart at the end and always ends with a prayer. You will love it. 

I hope these ideas are helpful and encourage you to study the Word. I guarantee you the Word will change your life and renew your mind. Please feel free to leave any comments on how the Word has changed your life, or if you have further questions on this. 

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Living and Active Word

March 20, 2001. On this day I began journaling. Since I love writing, it’s only natural that I would delight in writing down my own “Notes Along the Journey”. Yes, that is how I came up with my blog name. 

I have five journals now. Five journals full of rich treasure that range from Bible study insights, special days, anguish, dejection, encouragement etc... As you can see, my journals run a spectrum of emotions I have experienced  over the past fifteen years. 

I remember clearly the day I sat down and wrote my first entry. I was approaching the end of a raging storm that was battering me and threatened to destroy my marriage.  

Of course I wasn’t aware of that at the time. Hind sight and all. At that time I felt like I was right in the middle of it. Yet I had peace and a settleness deep within that came when I surrendered and handed over the controls to the Great I Am. You can read about my story here.

At that time I worked nights. I would get up in the morning and go about the business of the day just like I did everyday. But Jesus began to lead me in another direction. I felt Him drawing me to His Word. To really study it, immerse myself in it. 

Now up to this point sadly, I was hit and miss when it came to my “alone” time with Jesus. He was now drawing me deeper. So on the morning of March 20, 2001 I sat down at my kitchen table with my Bible, the Matthew Henry commentary, (a gift from my brother) and my journal. 

My first entry was from Ezekiel 47. From that point on I studied the Minor Prophets, Daniel to Malachi. My life was never the same again. I was especially broken when I got to Hosea. Hosea will do that to you. 

The Word changed me as I immersed myself in it. It got in my spirit, and transformed my mind. I grew by leaps and bounds. My marriage was healed and restored. I even began to teach Sunday School and eventually led the Women’s group. And now a blog and occasionally speak. 

One memorable entry in my journal is on August 17, 2008. My women’s group had a weekend retreat. It had been an amazing weekend. A woman who I haven’t seen for a long time joined us. 

She told me something so incredible. “What happened to you while I was away? I am amazed at how you have changed and how God is using you.”

I was flabbergasted. It blew me away. I believe God gave me that moment to show how I had grown. To show me the wonder of His handiwork. I’ll always treasure that moment. It proved how powerful God’s Word truly is. 

Beloved, when you take in the Word, when you immerse yourself in it, when it becomes vital soul food, I guarantee  it will change your life. Because it isn’t just words on a page. It’s God breathed. 

“It’s a lamp to your feet”, “It will not return empty”, “It is living and active”, “It’s living and abiding”, “It will remain forever”, “It will renew your mind”. 

It’s not just simply reading it that will change your life. It’s believing it and settling in it. I encourage you today to get alone with Jesus and allow your Teacher, the Holy Spirit to “Open your eyes to the wonderful things in the Word.” 

Leuchtturm is a journal that I am loving. It’s soft covered, it has numbered pages with a table of contents in the front, which is very useful. There are different sizes and colors. I love the paper. At the back is a hinged pocket. Also there are stickers included.