Tag Archives: Bible Reading

6 Gifts God Gives in the Wilderness

desertscape

Sometimes I imagine a conversation between an Israelite woman and a foreign guest in the Promised Land. The Israelite woman (whom we’ll call Sarah) was among those who spent four decades in the wilderness, and her new companion (we’ll call her Fatima) has recently trekked the same territory. They are eager to swap stories and compare experiences:

Sarah: Remember the sandstorms?

Fatima: Yeah, there’s nothing like being sand-blasted by hot, wind-driven sand. We had some days we couldn’t journey at all until the wind died down.

Sarah: Exactly. We had to watch for when the cloud or the pillar of fire moved from over the tabernacle.

Fatima: What? (She gives a suspicious glance and wonders if Sarah is okay.) We didn’t have a tabernacle. And we definitely didn’t have pillar of fire with us.

Sarah: That’s too bad. I mean, there were days I wanted to go forward when we couldn’t and days I wanted to stay when we had to move, but all in all, I was thankful for God’s presence with us.

Fatima: And you say this…this presence was in a pillar of fire? Continue reading

6 Practical Ways to Increase Your Hunger for God’s Word

goat-kids

I purchased my first goat as a thirteen-year-old fresh out of the city suburbs. I had no idea what I was in for.

I named my new pet Sarah Jane, but my mom called her, “the big, black villain”—mostly due to her size and color. Mostly.

Exactly one day after my purchase, Sarah Jane had four kids. And I had my hands full. Sarah Jane nursed two of the kids, and I bottle fed the other two.

Bottle feeding goat kids is fun. They’re energetic, cute, and always look like they’re up to something. Healthy kids attack a bottle the moment it’s within leap reach. They drain it quickly and use every trick they know to coax for more.

But one morning, when the kids were two weeks old, one of them showed no interest in her bottle. Zero. Her ears drooped, and she made little effort even to be petted. I remember the concern that gripped my heart as I called the farm where I had purchased her mother. Continue reading

The Most Important Thing We Forget about the Bible

2Peter1

Every week, I have the exciting opportunity to sit across the table from a young Christian and study God’s Word during our church’s discipleship time. At the end of each lesson, I usually ask the lady I’m studying with what stood out to her the most and if she has any questions we didn’t already answer.

I’ll never forget the time when, after our lesson on the Bible itself, the new Christian across from me answered my first question with, “I didn’t know God wrote the Bible.”

What?! 

She came from a background that accepted religious tradition for truth, so, in one sense, her answer wasn’t surprising. But still…

A few days later, I relayed the conversation to a friend. Her response struck me with as much food for thought as the young Christian’s. “Sometimes,” she said with tears in her eyes, “I think we forget that too.” Continue reading

Your Journey to Victory in 2015

winter-sunrise

I woke up this morning with the keen realization that 2014 is almost over. It’s a lazy sort of morning with few plans, so I took several minutes to reflect on the incredible blessings of God’s goodness and grace this past year before peeling myself out from the covers.

It’s been the sort of year that makes me deeply thankful to belong to the Good Shepherd. As I think back over the months, they’ve had their challenges, but each month has been overflowing with God’s grace and kindness.

As I opened my Bible for my morning reading, vital dots began to connect between the blessings of 2014 and the book in my hands. Continue reading

Good Christians Have Big Struggles

Bible-and-journal

Sometimes we say things because they sound good. Or because they seemed true when we viewed them through a given lens.

I did that once. Okay, I’ve done it lots of times. But there is one time in particular I’m remembering now.

I was teaching a lesson on Bible reading, and I repeated something I had heard someone else say. He had said that he had never met a teenager who had significant personal struggles who was regularly reading the Bible in a personal way on a daily basis. He had counseled a lot of teenagers, so I didn’t mind repeating him. And I even gave him credit for the quote, which turned out to be a good thing. Continue reading

And the Verse Is for You

Bible

I don’t generally read my Bible standing in the stall of a public restroom, but I did on one occasion.

I was in sixth grade, and my family was at a conference at Park Meadows Baptist Church (a church that would later become our church home). After one of the sessions, I asked Pastor Davis to sign my Bible. He did, and when he handed it back to me, he said, “And the verse is for you.”

My Bible had many signatures in the front flyleaf. Many of those signatures had Scripture references with them—presumably the life verses of the signers. Sometimes when I was bored, I would even look up some of the references. But, to that point, no one had told me the verse was for me.

Suddenly, I sensed an urgency to know what this verse said. I thanked Pastor Davis, tucked my Bible under my arm, and made my way to privacy—the ladies room!

Without even looking, I still remember what verse it was: Continue reading

The Book that Transformed My Walk with God

journal

Next to the Bible, the book that has helped me the most in my walk with the Lord is a book I wrote. Actually, it’s an eight-volume set.

Before you think I’m boastful, let me give two clarifications:

First, these volumes are unpublished, and I trust they always will be.

Second, I’m confident that they would not be a help to you. That is, mine wouldn’t help you. But yours of the same type would help you.

You’ve probably guessed the volumes I’m referring to—my journals.

I began journaling in a purposed way when I was thirteen. And it was all due to my older sister’s influence. I looked up to everything Michele did, so when she began keeping a devotional journal, I did too. Eight volumes later, I’m so glad I did.

Keeping a journal transformed my walk with the Lord. The immediate results were life-changing, and the long-term benefits have been rewarding. Continue reading

Book Review: A Word to the Wise Daily Devotional

a_word_to_the_wise-devotional-1

Just this week, Striving Together Publications released a new daily devotional by Pastor Chappell: A Word to the Wise: Practical Advice from the Book of Proverbs.

With a devotional reading from Proverbs for every day of the year, this book is perfect as your daily devotional or as a gift. (Through Wednesday of this week, if you purchase the hardback, you receive the ebook free—so it can be your devotional and a gift! Also through Wednesday, if you purchase multiple copies, you receive further discounts. These are release week bonuses only, however. So hurry!)

Each day’s reading begins with a text from Proverbs followed by a brief action-orientated application. Although the devotions are all drawn from Proverbs, there are support/cross-reference Scriptures all throughout the book. Additionally, each page of the devo includes further reading that will guide you through the Bible in a year. Continue reading

Renew & Revitalize: 10 Tips to Renew Your Heart for God and Revitalize Your Time with Him

sunflower

All of us come upon times when our time with the Lord is not as fresh as it could or should be. Below are tips I shared with my Sunday school class last week. They were a blessing to me to compile, and I hope they’re helpful to you. Perhaps you could pull just one or two of these to incorporate into your time with the Lord.

1.         Rise early to avoid distractions.

There is no better opportunity in my day to give my undivided attention to God’s Word than early in the morning before my day gets underway.

Early will I seek thee.—Psalm 63:1

If you want to add freshness to your time with the Lord, try spending time in His Word before the distractions of the day pile on.

2. Reflect on the greatness of God’s invitation to know Him.

I love the heart-level response of David to God’s invitation to know Him:

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.—Psalm 27:8

What an invitation is ours—that we can seek God’s face! Personally. Intimately. Daily. If you’re struggling to spend time with God, reflect for a few minutes on the gracious invitation you’ve been given.

3. Praise God—sing.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.—Psalm 11:4

I hope you have a hymnal. If not, make a list of songs about the Lord or to the Lord, and sing them to Him.

4. Ask God to make Himself real to you.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.—Jeremiah 29:13

If you feel you’re in a rut where you are reading God’s Word out of duty, ask God to make His Word come alive to you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a personal way.

5. Use a Bible reading schedule.

When the Israelites gathered manna in the wilderness, there was a structure to how they gathered.

And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.—Exodus 16:18

God’s Word is spiritual nourishment, and I believe we are wise to have a structure to how we consume it. Reading by a schedule allows me to systematically read all the Word of God—not just several favorite passages. It also adds a layer of accountability to my Bible reading that helps to keep me faithful through the “dry times.”

6. Journal your growth.

My devotional journals—going back to when I began as a young teenager—are a treasure to me because they record years of God’s faithfulness to reveal Himself to me through His Word.

We easily forget what God has done in our lives. We grow used to His workings. A journal helps us keep it fresh. And it gives us a tremendous reference point to reflect on when we grow stale.

7. Ask questions.

Ask questions about what you read in God’s Word. It will incite your curiosity and therefore heighten your discovery.

8. Apply truth.

Seeing what happens when we apply God’s truth gives us a hunger for more!

It’s all too easy to fool ourselves into a false sense of contentment in our Christian life because we hear God’s Word, but we never apply it.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.—James 1:22–25

9. Fast

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.—Matthew 5:6

I know of no sharper spiritual discipline than fasting to increase my hunger for God. When I sense my heart for God growing cold, setting aside a meal (or a few) to purposefully seek God’s face and ask Him to renew my hunger for Him often rekindles my heart. Fasting is like the poker’s sharp jab to a diminishing fire.

10. Stay right with God.

Sin hinders the work of God in our lives—even when we are going through all the right motions.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.—James 4:8-10  

Regularly ask God to search your heart, and be responsive to Him.

11. (Bonus) Share what you learn with someone else.

There’s nothing more encouraging than sharing something God taught you with someone else. Keep it fresh by sharing it!

Too Valuable to Waste

Four years ago tonight I received a startling phone call from my grandma.

“Pray for Amanda,” she began. “I don’t have all of the details, but she was in a skiing accident—hit a tree, I think—and is being rushed to the hospital.”

Amanda (pictured above, left, with her sister Allison) is my cousin—my mom’s sister’s daughter. Sixteen years old at the time, she was with her high school ensemble on their way to sing at a youth conference. En route, the group stopped for a planned skiing activity.

A few minutes after that first call, Grandma called again. Before she could even say it, I knew. Through a tight throat and tears she said what none of us ever wanted to hear, “Our Amanda is in Heaven.”

That was four years ago, and I still miss Amanda. Just this past Christmas, as our extended family gathered, I thought of Amanda and her bubbly enthusiasm that would have been overflowing into every activity, every conversation, every event that she engaged in. Continue reading