Biblical Womanhood · Christian growth · Godly Character Traits

BEST Bible Journaling

Recently when I was using a feature on my iPhone, the person with me said, “There are probably so many features on my phone that I don’t even know to use! This is what they had just heard me say ~

Siri, add ketchup and baking soda to my shopping list.

Alright, it’s added!

It’s so helpful to just speak and add a note to my ongoing shopping list! I need that list when I get to the store because I’ll remember things like milk or chicken, but forget things like ketchup and baking soda!

There’s another “list” that I make as I go through my week that is even more helpful, and that’s what God is teaching me each morning as I read His Word. I keep this list, for the most part, in my journal. It’s written with pen and ink. Why do I do this? It’s truly all glory to the Lord as an answer to a prayer that I asked Him for. It came from this passage ~

Jeremiah 15:16

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

I realized at one point in my life that God’s Word needed to be a higher priority, that I needed to love it more. It was then that I began to ask the Lord to give me a greater desire for it. God will answer a prayer like that, and I’m so thankful! It’s been a blessed journey!

Are you realizing like I did that you need greater doses of God’s Word? How can you know? Well, ask yourself these questions:

The answer for all of these needs is found in God’s Word. Then when we get God’s answers, it’s so important that we do something with those answers…and that includes putting it into a journal – that ongoing “list” so we won’t forget!

Last week I posted about the importance of writing down what God says to us in our Quiet Time with Him. Today let’s talk about some ways to make it easy and fun to write what God is teaching you. There are lots of ideas out there, but this is what works BEST for me. (Note the acronym that will help you remember the tips)

  • Best method – Use the method that works for you. You could use a paper journal, but if you hate to write, then type it up on your lap top on a Google Document. Or as in my opening illustration, you could even speak your note into your phone. “Hey Siri, make a note in my Bible notes.” What do you want to add? “Joseph is a reflection of Christ.” Typically iPhone notes are tricky because of misunderstanding your words, but my point is, look for the option that works best for you.
  • Equipment – Use good tools that will help you. I keep this little pouch filled with colored pens, highlighters, a straight edge for underlining, and a pencil. I buy the tiniest tip of a marker that will not transfer through pages. I also like buying colored ink and a pretty journal to make it more interesting.
  • Simplify – Keep your writing simple. I like to make bulleted points most of the time, rather than writing lengthy paragraphs.
  • Together – Keep everything in a basket, bin or tote so you can pull it together quickly in the morning. Having to go look for your highlighter or your notebook will only serve to frustrate you instead of encourage you.

Take your time as you read; be still before the Lord. It’s not the amount of things you’ve written down, but what you’re learning that is the most important. As you faithfully listen and the note what you’ve learned, you will look in time to come and see that you have grown deeper in your walk with the Lord. You have God’s Word on that!

I Peter 2:2

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”

Did this post encourage you to begin journaling or to pick it up again? I pray so! Let’s keep growing until the day we go home to heaven!

Godly Character Traits · spiritual growth · Spiritual Refreshment

One Thing We Can Do To Grow Spiritually This Year

We are a family of “Foodies.” We plan out our meals. We anticipate them. We enjoy them. We record them. When a new, “successful meal” is complete, I make sure I’ve marked that recipe for future use. I have a written copy of that recipe either on-line, in one of my cookbooks, or in my recipe box because I want to be able to go back and re-do that menu!

I make notes about how I may have tweaked the recipe, a substitution I made, or even what I learned I need to do the next time I make it. I love flipping through my recipes and bringing up old recipes I’d forgotten about! Without that written reminder, it would have been lost forever because we eat lots of meal in a year’s time!

But even more than my physical food, the greatest “food” I partake of each day is the manna of God’s Word – the Bible. It is a feast that is never complete. There’s always more. It’s rich, sweet, and nourishing. I need it. I look forward to it. I remember it.

For many of us, we enjoy the taking in of God’s Word, but we do little in regards to making a memory of what we’ve read or what we’ve learned. Simply put – we don’t write anything down after we’ve read the Scriptures.
Here are four reasons I’m choosing to journal when I read God’s Word this year ~

  • It helps me remember the Truth I just learned. There’s something about putting it in ink that just cements it better in my heart and mind. That leads to the next reason…
  • It helps me meditate on those Truths throughout the day. As I’m driving, I’m thinking about what I wrote down. I talk to the Lord and ask Him questions about the things that come to my mind as I ponder it.
  • It helps me dig deeper into those Truths and add notes – things from commentaries or quotes from other authors that are a blessing.
  • It helps me see my spiritual growth. Just like the physical growth of a child isn’t seen day by day, but you see it when you compare it to last year’s growth chart, neither is my spiritual growth seen daily. However, my journal serves as my “growth chart,” if you will. As I look back a month or a year later on what I’ve written, I see how the Lord has increased my faith, taught me lessons, and revealed more about Himself to me. It’s so encouraging!

I‘ve had seasons when I didn’t journal and I truly feel I didn’t grow like I should have. See if you resonate with my reasons for not doing so. I think there are four basic explanations as to why most women don’t journal ~

  1. I’m not a writer. I think that can mean two things – 1. I don’t enjoy using a pen…it’s just not my favorite thing to do the process of writing. It’s tiring. It’s messy 2. I’m not really good at expressing myself creatively.
  2. I used to, but I’ve just gotten away from it. I got tired of the habit.
  3. It takes more time and that’s one thing I don’t have!
  4. I really don’t feel like I need to do that. I’m good with just reading. I can remember it without writing it down.

As we think back to all the physical meals we’ve eaten this past year, there’s no way we could give a commentary on each one. How could we answer, “What was the best part? What did you enjoy most?” However, if we had each recipe card in front of us, we could be reminded and have something to share, right? Let’s make the analogy – As we think back to all the spiritual meals we’ve been exposed to in this past year, (preaching as well as personal devotions) could we share one truth we learned from each one? Only if we wrote something down.

Oh how much more value there is in God’s Word than our physical food! Job said it well in Job 23:12 ~

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Could you and I really say that? It will show in how we value the Bible. Ask God to give you a greater love for His Word so that you will treasure it more than ever before!

Next Wednesday I’m going to share some practical answers to our four excuses and also share a guide in Bible journaling that can be simple, and effective!

Refresh your response to God’s Word,

Encouragement · friends · Godly Character Traits

For a Lifeline, Call a Friend

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Did you ever watch “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”?  The contestants answered questions, each one getting progressively harder and taking them closer to a million dollars.  If they were unsure of an answer, one option they had was to call a friend.  This would be a person, who, obviously had lots of knowledge and could be their “lifeline,” helping them reach their hoped-for goal of becoming a millionaire!
It would be quite an honor to be asked to be your friend’s life-line!  That would mean the contestant had full confidence in your ability to give them the correct answer at a very crucial moment!
I recently heard a preacher say that at a time in his life when he had to make a decision about whether or not to accept an important position, he spent many hours in prayer.  He weighed the pros and cons.  He talked with friends and associates and asked their advice.  One night after spending time with godly friends, trying to come to a conclusion about the right decision, he came home and found his wife had already gone to bed.  When he laid down beside her, she rolled over and held up two fingers, signifying that she rated the decision he was going to make only a two.

“That was all I needed to hear.  My wife walks so closely to the Lord, I knew that if this only ranked a two, then the Lord would have me not accept that position.”

Talk about being a life-line! This godly wife was so trusted by her husband in her walk with God, that it altered the course of his life!  His story made me stop and ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. Could my husband trust my response to a decision that fully?
  2. Do I walk so closely to the Lord every day that at any given moment I could be asked a question by my husband, my daughter or a friend, and I would give the right answer because it would be God’s answer?
This dear pastor’s wife I mentioned had walked with God.  She’d been faithful to read and study God’s Word.  She’d spent time in prayer.  She was sensitive to His directives in her own life – that’s how she could rightly guide those around her!
It really doesn’t matter that no one has asked me to be their lifeline on a game show.  I’m not that smart!  However, I want to be able to know the Lord’s heart so well that I could be a lifeline to my husband, or to any friend that the Lord brings across my path today.
How about you?  Have you spent sufficient time in God’s Word this morning that even through what you read today you could give biblical counsel?  
Know God so that you can lead others to Him, too!
Psalm 119:1-7
Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,
and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity:
they walk in his ways.
 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
 Then shall I not be ashamed,
when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,
when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
With love,

Godly Character Traits

The Beauty of a Thank You Note

I recently saw a picture of myself from the 90’s and it made me laugh out loud.  The fashion statement in those days was the addition of shoulder pads.  They made my small frame look like I was trying out for some football team.   Not pretty.

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Some things like shoulder pads go out of style, but some things never do – like a thankful heart.  Gratitude is always attractive!  The means to display gratitude is another thing that will never be passe’ and it comes in the form of a Thank you Note.  Thank you notes are a special touch to demonstrate your gratitude for an act of kindness or a gesture of generosity.

That being said, let’s talk a little about when and how to write one.

When should we write a thank you card?

  • When you receive a gift.
    • Birthday
    • Christmas
    • Wedding/Baby Shower
    • Wedding Gift
    • Graduation
    • You get the idea…we get gifts often, and so a thank you needs to be sent…often.
  • When you have been a guest in someone’s home
    • For a meal
    • As an overnight guest
  • When someone has done a kind gesture
    • Helped when you were sick
    • Encouraged you
    • Done a task for you

What should a thank you note say?

  • What the person did
  • Why it meant something special to you
  • How it will be used (if it was a gift)
  • That you are grateful

It doesn’t have to be long, just include the essentials listed above, and do it promptly.  The saying that has stuck with me is,

Swift gratitude is the sweetest!

If you wait until 6 months after your wedding to send Aunt Betty a thank you for the place setting of your china, it’s not going to be received as warmly as it would have a couple weeks after your honeymoon.  So being prompt is key.

I receive lots of sweet thank you’s and it always means so much.  Just that the person would stop to write out their gratitude means a lot.  It’s a social skill that will never grow out of style.  Let’s all try to put on thankfulness and see how it embellishes our personal style far better than those 1990 shoulder pads did!

Are you an avid thank you note writer?  When was the last time you received one?

Lovingly,

Denise Signature 150 px

Christian Life · God's character · Godly Character Traits · trials

Jesus Sees You

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The picture above is Mt. Arbel in Israel.  We had the privilege to drive up most of the way, then hike up to a high point when we were there recently.  As you can see, the views are incredible.  As I stood looking out towards the Sea of Galilee, my mind went to the passage in Mark 6 –

45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.

We don’t know what mountain Jesus went to to pray, but it could have been this one.  I pictured Jesus coming up to a place like this to talk to His Father, perhaps about the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 that had just taken place, and then also praying for the disciples, who were at that time out in the boat, getting ready to encounter a storm.

No matter if it was this mountain or another, Jesus could see them because He is God.  He knew they were rowing as it says in verse 48 –

And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them:

Last week when I was on Mt. Arbel, I could see the water, but it was too far away for me to see people and they certainly couldn’t see me.  When the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee, they couldn’t see Jesus.  I wonder if they asked themselves where Jesus was?  Did anyone say, “Why didn’t He come with us?!”  It doesn’t matter, because

He saw them.  

He cared about their storm.

He came near.

When He came, He revealed Himself as Who He was – the One who had power over the storm.  He was the only One that could help them and He did, at just the right moment.

Do you feel today as though you’re in a storm-tossed boat?  Are you wondering where Jesus is?   Are you wondering if He’s forgotten you?  He hasn’t!  He cannot!  He is God.  He sees, He cares, and He is nearer than you even understand.

And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.

51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure…

Jesus comforted the disciples with His voice.  He encouraged them by telling them He was there.  You have His Word on it too – Hebrews 13:5  I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. See also  Isaiah 43:2 Joshua 1:9.

The world and your flesh may say that Jesus doesn’t care, but you must turn a deaf ear, and listen to the Truth of His Word instead.

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Acknowledge His presence and watch to see what He will do as the God Who is able to do exceeding, abundantly above what you may ask or think.

Denise Signature 150 px