Monday, March 30, 2020

April Scripture Writing Plan: But God

Happy almost April friends! 

Want to know what my two favorite words are in the Bible? 

But God.

Why? Because I know that when I read those words, something amazing and wonderful and powerful- something only God can do, is about to happen. 

If you notice, the words But God are almost always said when:

• A situation seems hopeless and there seems to be no way out of it
• Someone is lost and completely unable to save themselves
• There is literally NO way and God makes a way

They are words that are always followed by the gracious and compassionate and loving intervention of God. When we read But God, we know something awesome and amazing is about to happen. I love these words because they remind me of the hope that I can only find in God.

My prayer is that during this scary time of so many unknowns and so many impossible situations, that no matter what this next month brings, we are able to focus on the But God verses in the Bible. That we are able to rest in the fact that God is a redeemer and when all seems hopeless, God is there!



FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

March Scripture Writing Plan: Perseverance



Happy almost March friends! 
The scripture writing plan topic this month is
Perseverance


Perseverance: persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

When walking through something difficult or hard or scary in our lives we have a choice. A choice to pull away from the Lord and give up or to press onward and cling to the Lord. The good news is that if we choose to persevere while clinging to God, He will hold our hand while we wait. He is with us and for us and cheering us in as we wait and persevere. When we persevere in God’s calling and plan for our lives, blessings WILL come, in His timing, not ours.


Thankfully God loves us so much that His word has lots to say about perseverance (probably because He knew we would struggle with it) and that’s what the plan this month focuses on. I pray that as you write these verse you are reminded that God’s promises are bigger and better than the promises you think you should have. I pray that you are reminded to cling to Him. I pray that you are reminded of God’s command to wait and instead of being irritated by it, are comforted by it. I pray that you are reminded that your waiting is so often needed and restores your strength. I pray that you are reminded that when you persevere, it invites you to see that God’s strength is far greater than any strength you could ever muster on my own. I pray that you are reminded that your persevering helps you to see that God is ALWAYS at work revealing His love and grace and that He never waste your patience and your waiting.




FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.




Monday, January 27, 2020

February Scripture Writing Plan: Love

Happy almost February friends! 

The scripture plan this month is over a topic so appropriate for this month: 
LOVE

When I was little I had a dog stuff animal. He was a big white dog with a red shirt that said “Puppy Love”. I loved that stuffed dog so dearly and took him absolutely everywhere. I loved him so much that he grew dirty from being carried around everywhere I went and being slept & played with year after year. He eventually lost an eye and part of his nose- but my love for him did not wane, I loved him still.. After years of being loved hard, he was no longer beautiful to anyone. His fur was grayish, his shirt faded and his features scraggly. If you saw him (he is actually in my attic!), you definitely wouldn’t think of him as beautiful- you’d probably only see his flaws. However, if I looked at him, I’d tell you he was beautiful and wonderful. Not because he is actually outwardly beautiful today. Not because he does anything to deserve that love. I love him because I see him as he was created. In my eyes, he is perfect because I loved him so.


Thankfully that’s how God loves us. He doesn’t love us because we necessarily are beautiful- inside or out. He loves us when we are good and when we are not so good. He loves us when we make mistakes and screw up (no matter how big those mistakes may be). His love is what makes us beautiful. He loves us despite all of our inadequacies and flaws. He loves us- flaws and all- simply because we are His children. 


Think about how a grandmother loves a grandchild. In her eyes, her grandchild is the absolute best of the best. She has their pictures plastered all over her house, on her refrigerator, and carries around photos of them to show to anyone and everyone willing to look at them- friend, neighbor, pastor, postman, check out guy at the grocery store- literally anyone! She brags about that grandchild, sharing their accomplishments (no matter how small or insignificant) and overlooking their flaws because of her great love for them. She lavishes love and gifts and kisses and hugs on that child every single chance she gets. That’s how God feels about us- a grandma’s love multiplied by millions and millions. He set his love on us- not because we earned it, but because He delights in us. 

Ephesians 3: 17b-19 says…
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Did you notice those verses didn’t have a single stipulation on His love. It doesn’t say…..”and deep is the love of Christ IF you do ____ or act _____”. His love is. It’s a fact and there is nothing- not a single thing you can do to change or erase it. NOTHING. When you feel ugly or less than or unloved, God says: You are beautiful because you are mine and I love you. 

No matter what you have done or said, no matter what flaws you have, no matter how big your mistakes- He loves you still. His love is the single thing that you can count on. His love is irrevocable. He will always love you. My prayer as you write the verses this month is that you are reminded that God loves you more than you can ever begin to imagine!


FYI: I made the plan 31 days and plan to do that with
all topical plans in the future so that they can be done any month-
not just the month I write them for.

TO PRINT: You can find a copy of the plan in the folder HERE.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Digging Ditches

Have you ever dug a ditch? I have and I dig them quite often- but probably not the kind you are thinking of. (If you know me, you are probably thinking right now, REALLY? YOU dug a ditch? HA!) I was reading in 2 Kings 3 this week and a story struck me and stayed with me that was all about digging ditches. 

A little back story before we get to the ditches. At this point in 2 Kings, the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom have gathered together and want to fight the Moabites. The problem is that they are stuck in the desert and they have absolutely no water. Zero. No water means they are weak and miserable and not in shape to fight anyone. They send for the prophet Elisha to tell them what they should do. At first, he says no (because he expects they are just like their parents- wicked and don’t believe in God) but finally agrees after they tell him they know his God is THE God. He arrives and tells them that God wants them to dig ditches and that when they do, He (God) would then fill them with water- but NOT from rain. 

Here’s what it says in 2 Kings 3:16-19: 
“This is what the LORD says: I will fill this valley with pools of water.  For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.  This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.”

Ok so imagine that for a minute. He’s telling these miserable, thirsty, dying, hot people to dig ditches- in the desert. Can you imagine how they reacted? They were probably like...Are you kidding me? Why in the world would we do that? It’s hot and we are weak and at the end of it, you aren’t even going to make it rain! They had to be thinking, this is completely nuts. Digging ditches anytime is hard work, but digging ditches when you are hot, dying of thirst and completely miserable would be truly horrible!

This story is such a reminder to me that God sometimes wants us to prepare for His blessing and sometimes that preparation is hard and yucky and painful. He wants to bless us, but we must first listen, be obedient and then get to work! Those things He calls us to do, even hard things like digging ditches, will prepare us for what He will do in the future. He is no doubt going to do His part, but we must do our part! 

Thankfully the people listened, dug the ditches and guess what? They filled with water! God is so gracious and doesn’t just give them a little bit of water- he literally fills the land with it! God often moves us to do things that may not make sense- in the moment or to others- but if we trust Him and follow Him, he will bless us abundantly. 

I kept thinking as I read this story, what if they had been lazy and just dug tiny small ditches? I think in their circumstances I’d have been likely to dig the shallowest ditch ever but when you think about it, the bigger the ditch they dug, the bigger the blessing they would receive. Their obedience brought a larger amount of what they needed- water? Of course, the ditches they dug meant nothing without God’s blessing. We must always seek Him, spend time in His word each day in order to know Him truly and hear when He calls us to dig ditches. 

My question for you today is…what ditch is God asking you to dig today? Whatever it is, get digging friends!

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!