Let’s study Joshua

Let’s study Joshua

 

This month on the blog we are going to explore the book of Joshua. If you’ve never read it, it’s a great time to jump in because one of the major themes of this book is God’s provision. What a better time to read about how He provides, then during harvest time?

The book of Joshua picks up at the tail end of Israel’s 40 years wandering the desert. Moses has just died, and God has commissioned Joshua as the one who will lead Israel to take possession of the land promised to them. However, it is going to be difficult. The promised land is already fully inhabited with thousands of people from many different walks of life.

HOW IT WORKS:

  1. Read 1 chapter per day
  2. Journal what you learn
  3. [Optional] Mozy over to the Tea & Testimony Facebook group and post your favorite thing about that day’s reading

Simple enough, right? I’ll be posting what I’m learning daily through the SOAK method but you can study any way you want. What’s the SOAK method?

(!!!) Disclaimer: Although I’ll be posting what I’m learning, please Don’t take my word for truth! It’s not enough (and potentially damaging) to just read someone else’s interpretation. Read it for yourself, and through prayer and application, God will teach you.

Before you begin, get a better understanding of the book’s context by reading this introduction to Joshua.

May you receive all of God’s Word! Happy reading! See you tomorrow 🙂

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

 

Faith as Fuel

Faith as Fuel

Let’s say you are working in a job that you can’t stand, or have duties/responsibilities that feel more like drudgery than blessing. Some of us have sick elderly parents to tend, or needy friends who constantly take and never give. You don’t feel that the paycheck of your 9-5 job is worth the stress you take home at the end of every shift. What do you do? To which thing or person do you go? What do you tell yourself? For me, it’s Netflix.

First, we should call it what it is. Ok so it’s not turning to the bottle or the needle. I’m not a traditional addict, but instead have chosen a much more “acceptable” way of dealing. I binge watch TV shows. It just wastes time and takes me into another world where problems are solved in 30 minutes. It’s not that bad right? Except that it is just another way of numbing the pain of an underwhelmed soul. There’s no public shame associated with distracting yourself from something you wish would change. Therefore it remains an untouched subject in my heart.

Second, remember that God blesses us in unexpected ways, places, and opportunities. Like I mentioned in my last post, I was enormously depressed because my first job out of college was “beneath my dignity” as a new graduate. Even so, I received many comforts and assurances from God that summer, through my coworkers and managers. (Not to mention a paycheck that got the job done) Then a few months later my favorite aunt invited me to live with her in Maui and work for her company. A job. In Hawaii. With a boss who is invested in my wellbeing. And all the people said AMEN.

What if I had gone straight into a brand new job after college and missed this opportunity? To be sure there are plenty of what-ifs, but this is a big one for me. God’s will for me in this season was the protection and love of family at this time. What might be just around the bend for you?

Third, consult the Lord. He has a plan and a future for you. Can I say it again? He’s on your side. If there’s a chance to make a change, jump for it. Some seasons are inescapable though, no matter how much you pray and try to change it. When we are hurting in this way the last thing we want to hear is an ignorant but well meant “It’s a blessing in disguise”. Let’s skip over those clichés and go straight to the truth.

  1. Pray for strengthened faith

“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’” (James 2:17-18 NLT)

We believe in God’s sovereignty and that his purposes get worked out in his time and specific ways. So consider this trial an opportunity to tending our garden in a special way. (James 1:2-4) When we keep working in the face of trials, our faith is proven and strengthened. Faith is the trust that God will do what he promised. Use your faith as fuel to keep on going and god will direct your path.

  1. Pray for patience

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Read this verse over a few times. Do you notice anything interesting? It says that the Lord is patient toward you, not the other way around. He’s not up on his heavenly throne chatting with the Seraphim going, “Yeah, Molly is really getting impatient with this new plan I’m working on for her. I better finish up quickly so she can get on with it!” Ha! On the contrary, who am I to believe my plans and timing as better than the Lord’s? Let’s not forget either – our ultimate purpose is to love God and love each other. THAT is the calling with multiple expressions. So in this season, if I am stuck with no way out, I can still fulfill my purpose while I wait for something better.

Now all that truth sounds really good and all, but let’s be honest. It’s easier said than done. Just because I believe in God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean I like it all the time. The hard part for me is sucking it up and accepting the fact that I am not the master of my own life. Galatians 2:20 says “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. This is something that each person who follows Jesus must work on accepting but thankfully we don’t have to do it alone.

What do you think? Journal your thoughts as the spirit leads on the verses mentioned above:

  • James 1:2-4
  • James 2:17-18
  • 2 Peter 3:9
  • Galatians 2:20

Thanks for reading this month’s series on Work and Purpose, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to share how the Spirit moved you on the Tea & Testimony facebook page . As a thank you I have created free printables. Print and hang these words of truth where you will see them the most.

The Flawed Theology of Meaningful Work

The Flawed Theology of Meaningful Work

We all naturally want to do work that is meaningful. But what if your work isn’t? Some people have amazing jobs where it seems that the thing that they do for money is also the thing that makes their soul sing. That is awesome and enviable…and sadly not the reality for 99% of the world. If you’re like me, your job leaves you more stressed than satisfied at the end of the week, and you find yourself wishing it could be different. You have an overwhelming sense of dread that you will never be able to find what you are “meant” to do, and face the possibility of dying having only worked for something you don’t care about.

However it would be a mistake to equate your soul’s purpose with personal fulfillment you get from your job. Many people don’t take the time to reflect on what they functionally believe versus what they say they believe. As long as I am living I am liable to take God’s words and twist them into something incorrect. I discovered that I created my own god when I began to operate under the assumption that all my experiences and talents were only created for one job. I was getting depressed because I thought that if miss that one calling I am much wasted as a person. After graduating from college with my B.A. there were no jobs to be found in Santa Barbara. I was forced to take the only thing I could: a receptionist position at a company that fixed copy machines. This was deeply disturbing to me. “Is this why I just went $80,000 into debt?” I thought, “My time is so much more valuable than this.”

Pausing right here, I see a few things in my past self. First, the enormous sense of entitlement and pride of which I need to repent, but also the fact that I’m focusing on that mirage of “the perfect job” rather than seeing God’s purpose for me right then and there. My manager was a devout Christian and ran his office like one. He was always inviting me to his church and praising the Lord right there in the office. (Which I’m sure was more than a little uncomfortable to all who worked there.) I had some really deep conversations about God with my cubicle mate, and of course there was the fact that I had found a job at all in that climate. God was providing for me in droves but I would go home pouting because I thought there was only one dream job available to me and I had failed in procuring it.

When your functional belief is not the same as your actual beliefs, you end up with flawed theology on your hands. Flawed theology is dangerous because we base our thoughts motivations and actions on our personal theologies. If your theology is incorrect you are putting words in God’s mouth. And that has never ended well, just ask Satan!

Watch “One calling Multiple expressions” by Annie Downs. Aside from being one of my very favorite authors, she talks about how our vocations are expressed in so many unique ways throughout our lives. She says “You are not too old to find your calling, and you are not too young that you have not already experienced multiple expressions of it”. I have watched this particular talk probably more than 5 times since I discovered it a few years ago, and trust me friends, when I say it is full of gems. I can’t recommend that you take a few minutes to watch it yourself. And so we find that a shift in perspective is needed.

What do you think? Take some time to journal as the Spirit leads and hear how God is directing your thoughts on this topic

Work & Purpose

Work & Purpose

If you’re like me, your job feels oppressive and pointless – like a necessary evil to get to payday. I think back to my childhood days when that’s how it felt anytime my parents asked me to do something. “Chores are torture!” I would tell my dad. It must have made him think, “Girl, just you wait and see!” I spend 40+ hours per week moping at my desk and working half-heartedly because I don’t care about the work I’m doing.

We live in an individualistic society where we are focusing ourselves more than ever before. Everything is supposed to fulfill you, make you happy, feel good, or else we naturally want to avoid it. In his book Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller talks about this social “disease” of individualism which has caused our sense of community to die in popular culture. Today it’s easier than ever to not have to leave the house and go outside. People don’t rely on each other. Next door neighbors have never even met. It’s common to hear someone say in a jokey way, “I wanted to go out, but didn’t want to put on pants”. It’s funny on the surface, but deeply disturbing when we realize that these “harmless” ways of life are only symptoms of underlying sin. Put simply, when we only want to do what feels good to us and avoid work and responsibilities we are walking by our natural reasoning which the Bible says leads to death.

In contrast, we walk by the Spirit when we consider God’s will and purpose for ourselves to be better. Did you know that God assigned Adam his work before the fall, not after? I was surprised to find that in God’s eyes work is not a punishment, but a special privilege. “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15 NLT). God had just finished creating the whole world from nothing. The Garden of Eden was beautiful but not complete until he gave it into Adam’s care and protection.

We have our own little gardens of Eden to tend and fortunately for me, gardening know-how is not required! It’s our choice whether we water and prune wisdom and fruit of the spirit. When we choose to operate outside of God’s will and purpose for ourselves, we suffer the consequences. Our wisdom withers away and the fruit of the spirit rots on the vine when we do not watch and carefully tend our little plots. But when we work hard at growing our characters within God’s will, we see results. Assurance, blessing, and hope in Jesus are only a few examples of the abundance of God’s garden. These are eternal things which never perish. Jesus tells us that we must labor for the “food” which endures, which can only come from him (John 6:27 ESV). How will we grow our virtues if we only spend time concerned about perishable things?

What do you think? Don’t take my word for it -Spend some time in the word and journal as the Spirit leads on these verses in their specific context:

  • Genesis 2:15
  • John 6:27

 

 

Seeking God: What a relief!

Seeking God: What a relief!
He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep..jpg

Reading: Psalm 121, Psalm 34:22

Christ: Taste and see that I am good. Meditate on Psalm 121 and believe it.

I look up at the vast size of the mountains—
    from where will my help come in times of trouble?
The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains
    will send the help I need.

He holds you firmly in place;
He will not let you fall.
    He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep.
What a relief! The One who watches over Israel
    never leaves for rest or sleep.

The Eternal keeps you safe,
    so close to Him that His shadow is a cooling shade to you.
Neither bright light of sun
    nor dim light of moon will harm you.

The Eternal will keep you safe
    from all of life’s evils,
From your first breath to the last breath you breathe,
    from this day and forever.

Think: Each day brings its own worries that attempt to distract you from the Spirit’s longing embrace. Like the sun which always shines above the clouds, God never ceases to watch over us regardless of how it appears to us down here.

Pray: Lord, we long to know we are safe. Our whole lives are centered around finding contentment. Let us find our contentment in the right places – in you and in your son Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. If we do not chase after You, we are only chasing after the wind. Keep us this day and always, Amen.

Seeking God: Tickled Ears

Seeking God: Tickled Ears

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and wil.jpgRead: Psalm 81:1-13, Mark 11:17

Christ: You have turned my Father’s house into a den of thieves. There remain many thieves and liars in my Father’s house today. I came so that you would be able to tell the difference between a word from them and a word from Me.

Think: If I spend time with Jesus, reading about Him in the gospels, I will get to know his voice. I will learn how he would react to the things going on around me. Like those games of “Who said it?” I will immediately be able to spot out Jesus’s answer.

Pray: Dear Lord, thank you that you do not let us live on a broken earth without you truth and wisdom. Help us to tell apart the sheep from the wolves. Save us from being eager to believe that which sounds good but has no grounds in your Word. Amen.

Seeking God: Humble Victors

Seeking God: Humble Victors

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Read: Psalm 20:1-9, Zechariah 9:9

Christ: I did not need to be born in a palace – I have a heavenly one. I did not need to be handsome and physically impressive – My spiritual stature was far better. I did not need to enter Jerusalem in a King’s chariot with an honor guard and decoration – the colt of a donkey was just fine.

Think: Real victors do not need to shove it in their opponents’ faces. They have already won and it is obvious. It is only when we see people trying to convince others of their status and wealth that we suspect they are trying to compensate.

Jesus has won and as our inheritance is His victory, God commands humility of us:

Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
    though lofty, he sees them from afar.   -Ps 138:6

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said:“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  -Matthew 18:2-4

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”   –Luke 18:13-14

Jesus’s very life on earth was an act of humility.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!   -Philippians 2:8

Pray: Dear Lord, That we must ride a colt in our exile does not mean we are to forget about our victory which awaits us. Help us to remember that our battle is already won. With the war won before it’s begun, we can relax. We know you have taken care of the outcome. Amen.

 

 

Called: An Interview with Lisa Morris of Conforming To The Truth

Called: An Interview with Lisa Morris of Conforming To The Truth

Hello and welcome to anther exciting installment of Called! The amazing stories of ordinary people who respond to God’s call. Today we have an interview with one of our sisters in Christ, Lisa Morris author ofConforming to the Truth.net.

I first came into contact with Lisa through her scripture-teaching blog via WordPress. I was first intrigued by the words Free, Bible, and Study (I guess I’m just a nerd like that!). Her articles are relatable, real, and overflowing with truth. As I saw her posts from day to day, I soon felt an overwhelming need to reach out and say hi. Her accomplishments mirrored my vision for Pure Disciple and I just had to meet her. We have become fast friends over email and she has graciously agreed to allow me to interview her. So here is a little about Lisa. I hope you enjoy and don’t forget to check out Conforming to the Truth!

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What do you do for a living?

I am a stay at home mom. Before I had children I worked as a manager of a Baskin Robbins. Yummy, a great place to work. When Andrew our first born came I worked for a while. Roy and I played tag team. When I was at work Roy had him, when Roy was at work I had him. Then Sarah our second child came along. By this time Roy and I had decided that God was calling us to homeschool. I quit work and have been home ever since. We added our third child Hannah. I have been home with them for 19 years. I would not change it for anything in the world. 

What is the goal of your ministry?
I want to get women of all ages into the word of God. In my Bible Study at home, we have a mixture of ages ranging from 60 years young to 10 years old and all ages in between. Both older women and younger women are sharing what they have learned from the word of God!There is a generation of women, young and younger, who do not know the God of the Bible, nor the precepts that He has commanded. I pray that through these studies and this blog that God will grow a generation of women that know Him, live for Him, and stand on His word!

My desire is to guide women through the Bible using my free lessons. What makes these lessons different is that they guide you through the word one verse at a time through an entire book of the Bible. The Bible is your answer key. 

I also desire that God will raise up women who have a heart for His word and a desire to guide others through His word as well. That they will take this desire and start a study group in their home or church. If you have that desire please get in contact with me and we will pray and see where God leads. 

How did you come to this work? About 20 years ago during a Sunday School class, I was very convicted. The teacher was talking about how important it was to be in the word of God. I was not in God’s word as I should have been. In that moment, God put a great desire in my heart to study and know Him through His word. As time went on He grew a desire in me to teach and guide other women through His word. He opened doors of opportunity for me to be a leader in BSF Bible Studies. After several years in BSF He pulled me out and sent me to Precept Ministries in Chattanooga Tennessee. During this time, there was a growing desire to teach in my church and to start home studies. I taught a ladies Sunday School class for about 5 years. I have also led home classes for around 10 years. I currently hold a class in my home. 

What is the favorite thing in what you do? My greatest joy is to see God grow those who are in His word. I have seen God change and teach so many hearts. There is no greater joy! I also love those “A HA” moments, when a sister learns something about God that she had not understood before. All for His glory!

What is this most difficult part? Waiting and trusting. I desire so much for women who are in the word to grow. Sometimes it seems as if there is no growth at all. It seems that not much has changed in a life. I have to know and understand that in the times that there seems to be no growth that there really is growth. God always works on his time frame. I must be patient and trust in Him and His timing. 

What is one lesson that God has taught you in your career? That I am continually being conformed. When I first started teaching I thought I had to know everything. That sounds so prideful and it is! But, I thought teachers knew it all. I thought they had this direct word from God. They do, it’s His word:)  God is continually teaching me, and that is the way God has designed it. If I knew everything I would be God. I cringe to even write those words but they are so true!  If you ever come across a teacher who claims to know it all, flee! No one knows it all!

What do you think might be on the horizon for you? I hesitate to answer this because my flesh can be so deceiving! I am praying that God open doors of opportunity for speaking so that I might be an encouragement to women who are in the word. It appears He may be doing this. I covet your prayers!

Where did you grow up? I was born in Winter Garden Florida,  next door neighbor to Orlando, Home of Disney World. At the age of 5, we moved to the great state of Tennessee.  I have lived here ever since. I currently live with my family in Bon Aqua, Tennessee. 

What’s the first encounter with God you remember having? 
When did you first come to faith?
If you do not mind I am going to answer the last two questions together. 

I grew up in a Christian home and at the age of 13 God saved me. That would be the first encounter that I had with God. He has kept His promise of continuing the good work that He started in me. Through His grace and mercy, I grow to know  Him more and more each day!

 


Want to know more about what Lisa does?

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope you enjoyed today’s interview!
Please follow PureDisciple on Facebook, leave a comment below or email us at purediscipleblog [at] gmail.com. We love connecting with you! 🙂
God Bless,
Molly

Seeking God: Seeking answers

Seeking God: Seeking answers

Read: Psalm 17:1-5, John 16:7

Christ: My disciples fretted about what they didn’t understand instead of coming directly to me. They went to each other like the blind leading the blind, but I am the Way.

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Think: Is God my first resource for answers? Who or what do I consult for answers before going to God?

Pray: Dear Jesus, lead me yourself. Save me from false information. Where am I getting my information about You and Your nature? Teach me yourself. I will rely on none but you. Amen.