Saturday, January 4, 2020

First-hand Faith

The God who created the universe has written your name on the palms of His hands. It’s a permanent tattoo, engraved, not written in pen- it’s carved into His palms.(Isaiah 49;16) He knows your name. He knows every thought in your head and every desire in your heart. He knows your deepest secrets, your biggest fears and every dream in your heart. He knows every hurt in your heart and every scar in your soul. He is crazy about you and He wants to know you- personally and intimately. He wants a deep and real relationship with you. And the only way for that to happen is for you to read the book He wrote just for you- the Bible. To know Him, you must spend time with Him and in His word, to get to know him personally and intimately. The Bible is a book by God about God. It clearly reveals who God is on every single page from Genesis to Revelation. We must shift from studying the Bible to learn about ourselves and what we should do and instead read it learn who God is.

First hand: from the original source or personal experience; direct.
Second hand: owned or used in the past by someone else: learned or heard about from someone else rather than directly from the person involved. 

Your faith can’t be second hand. Your faith can't belong to your pastor. Your spouse. Your friends. Your parents. Your Bible study teacher. Your Church. It must be yours and yours alone. Instead of imitating others, we must own and believe our own faith.

What has radically changed my faith and made it my own is the process of reading God's word chronologically as it is written and doing so with a group of fellow believers to discuss it with. My sweet friend Christy Jordan (from the awesome Southernplate.com) has a group that I started back in October that does just that. My post recently about 2nd hand faith received more comments and messages on my blog, Instagram and Facebook than any I can ever remember. Clearly there are many of you who long to make your faith first hand and get to intimately know our heavenly Father. After getting Christy's blessing and praying about it, I've decided to start my own Bible reading group, First-hand Faith on Facebook.

How will First-hand Faith work? 
New members will be added with membership for the year closing at the end of month. A new plan will be posted prior to the beginning of a new month. Each morning I will  post with the reading for the day along with some of my notes and links to the reading online as well as a few other resources. Members will do the reading each day and then share their thoughts, questions and ah-ha's for the reading in the comments of the daily post. Once (or more) a week I'll post a Live video with some of my thoughts about our readings for the week. I'll also post all the plans on my blog here:
http://www.swtblessings.com/p/first-hand-faith.html

How do I join First-hand Faith? 
If you are interested, just go to First-hand Faith on Facebook, answer the three short questions asked and apply to join the group. Once I've approved you, you'll be in the group where I'll start adding information, helpful hints and details over the next few days.

When does the Bible Reading Plan start? The first day of reading will be next Saturday, January 11, 2020.

What do I need to join First-hand Faith? 
A willing heart that is seeking to know the Lord first-hand, a Bible and the commitment to spend time with Him daily is all that you need. We make time for what is important to us so although it may be difficult at first, it's a daily practice you'll ultimately grow to love and wish you had more time for each day. We have every moment of time we need to do all that God is calling us to do. So if God is calling you to commit to this, you'll find the time in your day!

Are the readings EVERY single day? 
Yep. No days off because honestly, do you want God to take a day off loving and caring for you? I sure don't so we will read every single day. If you get behind, not worries, just start again. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

2nd Hand is Not How God Wants Us to Experience His Word

I have a confession to make. For many years I got the majority of my knowledge about the Bible second hand. I read devotionals, did Bible studies, read blogs, listened to sermons and podcasts all about the Bible but all from other people. In the last year God clearly and specifically reminded me that His word was written to and for me and I needed to be reading and studying it myself.

I was also convicted last year that I wasn't consistent about studying God's word for an extended period of time each day. Now I read God's word but it was when I had time instead of making it a priority and putting it first. I was getting the majority of my Bible and knowledge of God's word second hand and that is NOT how God intends it. He wrote the Bible for us and our job is to read it and study it and learn it and live it. And if I'm getting it second hand from someone else- that's not ok. If I'm getting it from Bible study leaders, devotional writers, pastors and podcast hosts- even wise ones- it's still second hand and that's not how God intends.
2nd hand is not how God wants us to experience His word
So many times I had been simply reading a devotional each day including the verse listed without cracking my Bible open and considering that time in God's word. Never reading the verses in context and truly studying it- instead just reading the words someone else wrote in a book other than the Bible. I love devotionals and think they have a place but they (nor anything else) should not replace our time in God's word.

Spending time in God's word helps your know Him intimately. You learn His voice. You see His hand. You wouldn't get to know a friend by ONLY hearing about them from someone else would you. NOPE. That's ridiculous. You must experience that for yourself and take time building that relationship. To get close to someone you must spend time with them and cry and laugh and pray and live life with them. Why don't we think of God the same way? Why are we so often content to learn about our precious Lord and Savior solely from other people? It's truly crazy when you think about it.

I  have a suggestion for you. If you do one thing differently in 2020 do this:
Commit to spending time in God's word every single day- just you and Him and your Bible
Make time every day to spend in God's word- whenever and however that looks in your life. For me I get up earlier than normal so that I have 1 1/2 to 2 hours to spend studying God's word using a chronological plan. It's not easy and is something you definitely have to commit to and make a priority. But truthfully friends, we make time for what is important to us. Sometimes it just means cutting out something else in our lives. Spending time in God's word is the best investment you can make. Second hand is NOT how God wants you to experience His word. Learning it first hand can and will radically change your life!