5 Undeniable Reasons To Start Bible Journaling

5 Undeniable Reasons To Start Bible Journaling
Reading the Bible shouldn’t be a fad diet we quit in 2 weeks. Nor should it be another box on my to-do list. It’s about relationship and personal growth. No time table or deadlines; one day at a time, moment by moment I’m learning to walk God’s joy-lined path.
Through journaling I can take my tangled-up thoughts, feelings, and realities and realign them on the page according to God’s truth. Journaling is the ability to take scripture and make it meaningful and relevant in your life. It’s great if I hear people say that the Word is living and active, but without application I’ll never personally know that for myself. In my journal I can literally write TO God. Ask Him questions, argue with him, argue with myself, be silly, stupid, cranky, spoiled and selfish. No matter how it goes, He’s still God and I’m on my knees.
Everyone learns and responds to scripture differently. I prefer to write down my thoughts in the large plain Moleskine notebooks for my journaling. The plain pages give me the freedom to doodle and write however I want. Bible decorating is another thing that is getting tons of attention lately. In the same way that adult coloring books have been all the rage for relaxation, you can ponder the scriptures while decorating it to your heart’s content. Go ahead, give yourself an excuse to go shopping for some new art supplies. 😃 Just look what people are creating.
Have you ever tried journaling through the Bible? I think everyone ought to give it a try at least once. But if you’re still not convinced, here are 5 undeniable reasons to start journaling:
  1. Journaling helps information stick. Ever notice how a new idea tends to “pop up” everywhere? When you engage with scripture, your mind will naturally recognize what you are learning in everyday situations. Better decisions come from an informed conscience.  Be a doer of the Word not just a hearer(James 1:22)
  2. Journaling allows us to discover for ourselves. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. As well meaning as pastors and bloggers are, we are human! Don’t be a victim of bad theology – make sure you know what you believe. Journaling will help you to look closely at the source and know what you believe. (Acts 11:17)
  3. Journaling helps us apply God’s word. The word is living and active and meant to change us from the inside out.Of what use will the Bible be if you read but immediately forget what it says? (James 1:23) Make the connection by writing it down and owning it.
  4. Journaling is better than cramming. Studies show that we learn best in little spurts. A little bit of journaling (studying) will go a long way. Remember, there’s no heavenly scantron to look forward to. This is real life and the fruit of our discoveries is relevant right now. Inaccurate recall of the scriptures can cause us to operate under false wisdom and may even lead others astray. (Galatians 5:7-12) Not good.
  5. Journaling can be whatever you need it to be. Maybe you want to study a specific verse or even a whole book of the bible. Write your thoughts and prayers as your go verse-by-verse. Had a hard day and need to vent? Write about it and listen for God’s response in the scripture. Need to forgive someone but it’s too hard? Look up verses related to “forgiveness” and ponder them in writing. There is no wrong way to journal. It’s a perfectly wonderful way to invite God into your “here and now”.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have I sufficiently inspired you to try  journaling for yourself?

Want to see more? Let me know on the Tea & Testimony Facebook page and share what you have created!

Thanks for reading, Molly

 

Want to read Proverbs with us?

Want to read Proverbs with us?

Dear friends,

The beginning of the year can really feel like a drag sometimes. To me January feels like the Monday of months.  No more parties, no more presents, no more excuses to double on christmas cookies. It’s back to reality and it’s oh-so-bleak.

That’s why we wanted to do something extra special for our readers, to encourage and equip each other in the power of God’s Word.

So throughout the month of January, we will be reading a chapter a day in the book of Proverbs, together as a community.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Read 1 chapter a day starting on January 1
  2. Select 1 verse that stands out to you
  3. Post that verse on Puredisciple’s Facebook page

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Now I know what you’re thinking… Allow me to explain why your participation will not only be worth the time, you might actually see yourself transformed in the process.

Reasons you should join us

  1. It’s easy. Only 1 chapter a day. So what if you miss a day? You can return to it any time.
  2. It’s good for you. We need God’s Word like we need oxygen (Mat 4:4).
  3. We’re all in it together. As the body of Christ we are meant to build each other up (1 Thess 5:11). There will be fellowship!
  4. By the end of the month, you’ll have read an entire book written by the wisest man who ever lived. How’s that for a conversation starter?

All are welcome and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for us this January!

Love,

The Pure Disciple Team

What to do when a sermon tests your faith

What to do when a sermon tests your faith

 

On my way home last night I decided to listen to a Christian radio channel. They usually air sermons which I like to listen to while driving. Some of my most profound thinking time happens in the driver’s seat.

However, last night I was surprised to encounter a message focusing on Nazis, Syrians, the wrath of God, and hellfire. Where was the story of brokenness, forgiveness and redemptive love? I still am wondering about the context of that message.

Now, please don’t misunderstand: I’m not advocating that we should never focus on the reality of God’s justice and wrath which will come swiftly (Deuteronomy 32:35). A gospel of feel-goodery is just as incorrect.

However it saddens me to think that someone somewhere might have flipped on that channel, and presumed misunderstand the meaning of that message, further spreading ignorance and incorrect beliefs.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:11 NIV

 

That’s why I draw such encouragement from the Bereans. They are a perfect example of how we as Christians are to receive something we don’t understand. Paul would later exhort the Thessalonians to take the same attitude:

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 MSG

So, how do we respond when a message leaves us with more questions than answers?

  1. We must be humbleDon’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t assume you have all the answers.
  2. We must be open-mindedDo not despise prophecies. You don’t know if this is a message from the Lord or not.
  3. We must be cautious: Check out everything and hold to what is good. If the message you hear doesn’t immediately agree with the basic truths of Christianity, suspend judgement and seek help.

This is where being plugged into a local church community helps. Make an appointment with a trusted elder or pastor. Ask them to pray with you and help your understanding. There’s an old Russian saying that goes “There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.”

Sharing A Seed

Sharing A Seed

Tonight I met up with a dear friend who lives abroad, but with whom things never seem to change no matter how long between visits. We shared the stories of the past 8 years of our lives over two enormous vanilla lattes. (I’m convinced that I could die happily in a cozy corner of a coffee house sipping a latte with a friend.)

As we chatted, the conversation organically turned to faith. While she’s not a believer, she was a genuine and ready listener. I silently asked Jesus to give me His words wherever the conversation went.

She wanted to know why Christians follow some parts of the Bible like Jesus’s commands in the new testament, but other parts were ignored, like the temple laws in Leviticus. Amazingly, I was able to launch into an explanation of the difference between old and new covenants, and how Jesus changed the game upon his arrival. And consequently, very fitting for the Christmas season!)

Afterward, I was astounded by how much I actually understood. As much as we downplay our abilities to “got out and make disciples”, we often know more than we think we know. Most of the apostles were simply ordinary guys. Jesus proved to us that you don’t need to hold a degree in Biblical Studies in order to share God’s truth.

Tonight I shared a tiny seed of truth into God’s purpose and plan with a friend. Even if I never get to see it, I know for certain that it will not fail to produce fruit somewhere, somehow.

Read

10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Isaiah 55:10-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

Think

Have you ever shared the gospel of Jesus with anyone?

Did you leave feeling satisfied that God would use your efforts?

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Pray

Dear Jesus, Thank you for the opportunity to share your truth with another one of your children. I pray that as we go out into the world “ready to give a reason for the hope that we have”, we would always remember that it is YOUR words, not our human ideas, that are being communicated. Help us to keep your word in reverence and to immerse ourselves in it daily. We love you and praise you because you are. Amen.

 

Don’t (necessarily) follow your heart: Making faithful decisions that agree with the will of God

STRICTLY

Commonplace stock phrases like “follow your heart” are so prevalent in our culture that e don’t think twice when we see them plastered on greeting cards, posters, and children’s clothing. They sure sound positive, upright and true, but Jesus says something different. The sins that defile us, actually start with your heart.

“Out of a person’s heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mark 7:20-22).

The heart loves comfort & convenience above all

In school I had a friend whose parents were divorced, but had agreed to live together until the kids graduated. From where I was standing, they loathed each other and the air inside the house was fraught with tension. Their reasoning was that it was easier than having to deal with custody and cheaper than living apart. It may have seemed to work on the surface, but the arrangement still left deep wounds on the whole family. The heart does not want to be challenged or disturbed, and that shuts out any possibility for redemptive, albeit painful, work to be done. 

The heart can be blind to its own sin

Jeremiah 17:9 calls the human heart the most deceitful of all. Jesus talks about this too, in Luke 18:9-14 when he tells the parable about 2 men who prayed at the Temple. One, a Pharisee, proudly stood in a place of importance and prayed like this: “God, thank you that I am not a sinner like everyone else. I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I fast twice a week, and I tithe 10%.” The other man was a despised tax collector. He prayed with eyes glued to the ground and beating his chest in sorrow like this: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus explains that it was the tax collector, and not the Pharisee who stood justified and innocent before God.

The Pharisee’s blindness to his own sin came from within in the form of pride and foolishness. I believe that the Pharisee honestly believed himself justified, but that’s not enough. By fully trusting his own heart’s judgement of himself (we always tend to minimize our sins to ourselves, don’t we?) he lost an opportunity to be made right before God.

To be successful, our hearts need solid truth for direction

The basis of the gospel is that we (and our hearts) are not good or innocent by default (Romans 3:10). Thus, we cannot be trusted to follow our hearts unless what we desire matches up with God’s will for us. How does one do that, exactly?

  1. Believe First, take heart! (ha) Remember that God has said, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”(Ez 36:26). He can do amazing work with our old broken hearts.
  2. Commit There is a decision facing you today. It may be large or small, but to the Lord, size doesn’t matter when it comes to obedience. Make a commitment to seek the right path to take. “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
  3. Seek The first place I go when I’m seeking wisdom from the Bible is usually the concordance in the back of my Bible (many popular bibles have them). Biblegateway.com and openBible.info are also excellent for quickly finding what you need.
  4. Ask This one sort of goes together with #3. Often it’s not the finding of the information that’s difficult, it’s the application of it. Even if you are pretty sure you know what you’re doing to do, it’s important to check yourself with the wisdom of another older believer. Stay in fellowship with one another through a church, a small group, and/or with a spiritual mentoring relationship with an older and trusted believer. I’m personally so thankful to have several such wise men and women in my life to whom I can go for direction.

Do you have a person or church family you trust for support? If not, I challenge you to reach out this week to someone like this. Remember that we all get off the path and need the support of our church family. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

God’s Word never changes and “all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 timothy 3:16).

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Prayer: God, we praise you for your mercy on poor sinners like us. We pray that your Holy Spirit would help us to discern the difference between your direction and our own sinful direction for our lives. Show us how to recognize our need for your mercy. Let our hearts consistently move forward toward that perfection that we will have in Heaven with You.

Application Question: What decision is facing you today, and how are you going to search for the right way to go?

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

Morning Light Devotion: Meditation on the Acts of the Apostles

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10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

The opening lines of the book of Acts teach us something very important about how to live our lives here on Earth. Jesus had just told the apostles that they were to “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And then he was gone ascended into Heaven, just as miraculously as he came.

What a disappointing blow it must have been for them. This enchanting, irresistible encounter with  the real person of Jesus. For 3 years in ministry together, these men had eaten, slept, traveled, preached, and spent enormous amounts of time together in community. They had probably shared, argued, and joked around with Jesus, who is God — and like any human being, they probably didn’t appreciate any of it until this very moment as they stood staring up into the clouds.

It doesn’t say how long they were standing there looking hard into the spot where they last saw Jesus disappear,. It might be that the 2 men were sent there to gently nudge them down to reality before they began to dwell too hard on the sorrow and confusion of his leaving. Where would the rest of us be if those apostles had given into despair and refused to return to the pressing matters of reality and selfishly hoarded the gospel?

I confess that I do this all the time. I am so focused on my own discomfort and sorrows that I spend most of my time staring up into space after Jesus, that I forget that there are people all around me to be ministered to. Kind words to be said, gentle forgiveness to be given, serving to be done. Reality.

Thank you Jesus for granting us the power of the Holy Spirit when we first believed. We believe that the Spirit that lives inside us is the same that brought you to life again. Because we have this wonderful power, we pray in your will that we would not refuse to use it intentionally and constantly. Not that we ourselves are powerful but that you are powerful, and are able to work out any miracles you want.

Hearing God’s Voice Loud and Clear

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I wanted to share an amazing little tidbit from this book I’ve been reading, Attitudes of a Transformed Heart by Martha Peace. It’s about Guidance.

Every minute of every day as fallen humans we require God’s guidance. We are again and again told that we must understand what is the will of God, and seek His knowledge and wisdom. What we are exhorted to seek is not some abstract concept of wisdom that is mysterious and wholly foreign to us who believe – in the Bible, God is speaking about seeking wisdom that he will give to us.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  ~James 1:5-6

The actual wise counsel of the one true God is completely attainable to you and me!

But how do you usually hear God’s voice? Through a scripture, or quiet time, or a tiny voice in the back of your head? Sometimes what you think is God’s voice, is really your own misinformed conscience. It’s really easy and very dangerous to take for granted just any old “voice in the back of my head” for truth, and God-spoken words.

We must start with what we absolutely know for certain, that is that we are to be Spirit-filled, morally pure, submissive, and that it’s God’s will that you suffer as a Christian. We also know that God somehow works through everything, “supernaturally arranging our circumstances and thus is guiding our way” (p. 105).

If you are uncertain of how to move forward in a certain aspect of your life today, I encourage you to hold up the situation to God and see how your options fall in light of the above convictions. For me personally, I’m struggling with doubt and fear about what will happen to me in the next year or so, and how I am to deal with my obstacles. After reading this chapter, I sat down and wrote down everything that was worrisome and overwhelming to me. Then I copied down these notes and it was immediately clear how I am to act.

It doesn’t matter that these Biblical certainties don’t actually answer any questions for me or you. They are not going to tell me that I need to quit my job or get a new career. Instead, these certainties recalibrate my will with God’s will.They give me the confidence I need to keep walking through another day and know for sure that I am inside of God’s will, and he is taking care of me. And whatever changes or circumstances happen as a result of walking in His light, are just blessings.