Hidden Treasures

GE DIGITAL CAMERAToday my sweet friend and fellow Yahoo Bible study member, Beth Farley, is back talking about a verse I have long loved. The Word of God is unlike any other book we will ever encounter. Hebrews 4:12 tells us it is “living and active,” and I’ve found this to be quite true. When we open God’s Word, the Holy Spirit comes along 40762_reading_the_bible_1side us, making our reading a two-way communication between us and our Creator. At times, certain verses will appear to jump out at us, drawing our hearts or pricking our conscious. At other times, a passage will evoke a strong desire to stop what we are doing and pray. And yet other times, a verse or passage will prick a curiosity–no, more like a yearning–to go deeper, searching for the truth and heart of God. Our time in Scripture can become many things, but it is never, never intended to be a solitary or mindless affair. To the contrary! It is to be an intimate love affair between us and our Creator.

Hidden Treasures by Beth Farley

QuestionmarkI have to admit, that I feel very unworthy in sharing on this scripture because I must admit, that I don’t know what it really means? It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. NKJV

I did some digging and I can only pray that I am on target. For you that are participating in this study, if I am way off, please forgive me. If I am on target, Yay! Please, please share your comments.

Let me try to break it down. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing – This has been understood as referring to the revelation of God’s will in his word. We have been talking every week and praying that we would all seek out God’s will for our lives and do what He wants. There are some things that are hidden from us such as parables, allegories, metaphors so that we will continue to seek but His will is always readily available for us to see…if…we open our eyes and hearts.

In order to know God’s will we must really spend time with HIM and really get serious about studying HIS word…Before I became ill, I went through another rebellious time of not being serious about staying the studyingWord of God. I read it from time to time, but I was not intent on studying it and applying it. I know that being in God’s Word is His will for my life, no matter what! I am really ashamed of how I can get so lethargic in spending time in the Bible. When raising my kids, I was in the Word every morning. My children would wake up and find me on the couch, by the fire, with Bible and paper in hand. Now that they are adults they comment about it in positive ways. Back then though, they didn’t like it because it was taking time from them. I am thankful that I never gave up on that time with Him when they were in the house.

When I got divorced, and let me tell you, God was right there with me as I went through that difficult time in my life; He didn’t give up on me, but I gave up on being in the Word. When I had to move, I struggled finding a new trustworthy church that I could step into and they would not judge me because I was divorced. I carried that “D” on my forehead. I carried it way too long. I rebelled and stayed away from the Bible. I was hurt, broken, lonely and scared. How would I have ever known what he wanted from me if I didn’t seek him daily? His will was to know that I was walking in forgiveness and no condemnation. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

I don’t know why I have through my rebellious times. It irritates me. I am not proud of the few times that I have turned my back on God. I was not ever angry, just lazy, stubborn and scared. Come to think of it though, I can think of more times that I have remained in the Word than times when I shut the Word out. That’s a good thing. I guess I shouldn’t dwell on the negative here but rather the positive.

So again, if I am off on my interpretation of the verse, please set me straight. I am not one that is so prideful that I can’t be set straight on things. I am one that wants to learn as much as I can about God and stay committed to Him; allowing Him to reveal His will for me each and every day. How about you? Do you have times when you’ve taken a dive in your commitment to reading and studying His word? If so, what helped put you back on track? I know we are coming to an end of our study shortly, and I want to remind you that the prayer board is still open. If you have something you would like for us to pray about, please let me know; if you have a personal request and would like to just share it with me, I would be honored to pray. I can’t tell you what I would have done without the many who have prayed for me over the years at different times of my life. The power of prayer; it’s a beautiful thing. The power of the WORD; it’s a beautiful thing.

Beth Ann Farley is a dear friend of mine and one of our Yahoo Bible Study group members. She is married with three grown children. She lives in Kansas City, MO where she serves as librarian. She loves to read, write, decorate and spend as much time as possible outside with her Peek-A-Poo. Beth is a lover of the Lord. “He is my-everything and I can’t start a day without visiting with Him.” Beth came to know the Lord when she was 30 years old and has served Him on committee’s such as Missions Outreach, Local Missions, Diaconate Committee, Youth Committee, and was a church secretary for several years. Beth loves Women’s Bible Studies, has hosted several in each one of her homes that she has lived in and has led a few as well. Beth is now taking time in life to move forward with her writing in whatever way God directs her.

Visit her online at: http://firsthalfday1.wordpress.com/

Let’s talk about this. When reading your Bible, do you allow yourself enough time to really absorb what you are reading? To pray over what you have read? What are some tools you use to dig deeper into a passage?

Here are some tools/tricks I’ve learned to get the most out of my Bible reading time:

1. Begin with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to use His Word to speak to you, guide you, correct, and grow you, then, read expecting God to communicate with you.

2. Ask questions: Who was the original audience? Who wrote the passage? What might the passage have meant to the original audience? (Sometimes these questions lead to a bit of a historical investigation.) What is the universal and/or timeless truth revealed in this verse or passage? What does this verse or passage show me about God (His character, heart, desires, etc)? What does this verse or passage show me about myself? Is there a specific action I can take or that this verse or passage points to?

3. Follow bunny trails. 🙂 Many Bibles have foot notes or verse references in the inner or outer columns of the text. If a passage mentions a previous account or character in the Bible, take the time to review the event/person referenced. If you notice a verse reference in the text, footnotes, or inner or outer columns, take time to read the correlating/supporting verses.

4. Read the passage in a few different translations. (You can find alternate translations online at Biblegateway.com or Biblos.com

5. If a particular verse stands out to you, look it up in the Lexicon. You can find a Lexicon on Biblos.com

6. Read a commentary or two expanding on the verse or passage. You can find commentaries on Biblegateway.com

(If you would like help using any of the above tools, please, shoot me an email at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com. I’d love to walk you through it!)

Do you have any other tools or resources you like to use to go deeper into Scripture? Tell us about them! 

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on Living by Grace, or join our online Bible study. We’d love to have you!

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Don’t Worry; Be Happy!

Picture2The Bible is full of admonitions not to worry, not to be fearful, to rejoice in the LORD, and to accept Christ’s peace, but how do we do that in the day to day? And what do we do when our emotions rebel against our head? 😉 Today I’m thrilled to have my dear friend, critique partner, and fellow Christ to the World writer back with us sharing her heart on how she believes we can maintain a joyful heart.

Don’t Worry; Be Happy! By Tanya Eavenson1120282_laughter

Do you remember that song by Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry. Be happy?” Instinctively I start to sing the next line before my lips can follow along, landing somewhere along here:

“Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo,  don’t worry  oo-oo-oo-oo   be happy now  Oo-oo-oo”

There’s just something about that song that makes you want to sing and smile. You can’t help yourself.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Wow, I like the cheerful heart better than the crushed spirit. Don’t you? But sometimes things happen in our lives or the lives of others around us, causing a chain reaction that is out of our control and affects us in some way.

What do we do? Do we humble ourselves and pray, or do we worry?

Philippians 4: 6 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Scripture tells us we should pray; when we do, “7 …the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God will give you peace in every situation and it’s not just any peace, or one we create for ourselves the lasts one minute and is gone the next. But a peace that we can’t understand that calms us to our very core, one that comes from the Father, reassuring us that we aren’t alone.

At the beginning of Philippians 4, scripture very clearly calls us to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” I know it’s not easy to rejoice all the time, but God is saying to choose to rejoice in any and all circumstances. Not because of your circumstances, but to rejoice in Him– Who He is, His love for you, for your life in Him. Rejoice! For the Lord is near!

If we take a step back and look at our lives, not our circumstances, but what Christ has done for us and His grace, we can only rejoice. And if you’re rejoicing, your heart is a cheerful heart and good medicine for your soul.

Which do you choose?

Tanya Eavenson and her husband have been involved in ministry for fifteen years teaching youth and adults, and doing counseling. Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes for Christ to the World Ministries sharing the Gospel around the world.

Visit her online:

Website: http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/111621198804346509165#111621198804346509165/posts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Tan_eave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanya-Eavenson/129609683872033

Blog: http://guidedgirls.blogspot.com/

And check out her debut novel, a beautiful story of God’s unconditional, ever-reaching, ever-healing love:

Unconditional:

Elizabeth Roberts can’t remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to Unconditionalforget her infant daughter’s death, her husband’s affair.

When his wife’s coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can’t erase his betrayal, but with God’s help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost.

She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s unconditional?

Let’s talk about this:

When talking about fear vs. faith, worry vs. prayer, I often think of the verse Tanya referenced, Ephesians 4:6-7. Read it again, taking notice of the words in bold:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When you present requests to God, how often have you paused to thank Him for what He’s done? I’ve found, when I do so, suddenly, my current problems diminish in light of His power demonstrated by His faithful acts. For example, if I’m concerned about our finances, when I pause to thank Him for all the ways He’s provided for our family in the past, I remember He’s always provided for our needs, so why should this instance be any different?

I’ve often found negative thinking breeds negative thinking and fear, if left unchecked, begets more fear. But how can actively determining our thoughts, or, as the Bible says, taking our thoughts captive, help us combat fear?

What are you worried about today? What aspects of God’s nature combat that fear? I encourage you to write ten things you know to be true about God. Keep those written attributes with you, and when you begin to feel fear creeping in, pull them out and pray them, thanking God for being who He is.

(If you struggle with fear and/or anxiety, you might find the following article helpful: Battling Anxiety.)

***

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on Living by Grace, or join our online Bible study. We’d love to have you!

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Living in Love

PamToday, Tyndale author Pam Hillman expands encourages us to root our actions and emotions in love.

 

Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins.” KJV

 

 

In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.

With the ranch now under Slade’s careful eye, he will unearth more than he ever imagined as a devious plot of thievery, betrayal and murder threatens more than the well-being of the ranch, endangering the lives of those who hold it dear. With days dwindling until the rest of the Donovan clan arrive to the Lazy M ranch, Mariah and Slade must rise above the resentment of their fathers and see their true feelings before greed alters their futures forever.

 

The above description is from my latest book, Claiming Mariah. Slade and Mariah are imaginary characters in an imaginary world, but their Claiming Mariahtroubles aren’t too far removed from the strife I see in real-life friends, families, neighbors, and far-flung countries. Discord in the work place. Tensions stirred up by hatred, harsh words spoken in anger, real and imagined hurts blown out of proportion until even minor infractions become full-blown warfare.

 

Hatred.

 

What a harsh, bitter-sounding word. Even the syllables are hard, unforgiving. It is a feeling that Satan has delighted in embedding in the hearts of humans for centuries, stirring up trouble, strife, and anger. There is only one antidote to the hatred.

 

Love.

 

Love has a soft, pleasing sound. In a mere four words, Solomon tells us love covers all sins, not just some of them, but all of them. Jesus forgave those who nailed him to the cross. He died for them, for us, for me. His love covered all sins. Big ones. Small ones. All is forgiven.

 

Can I do less? Can I forgive minor infractions against me? Do I hold on to unwarranted anger and bitterness? What about deeper sins against me? What if someone takes everything I own? What if someone takes the life of someone I love? Can I forgive them? Through Jesus, I am able to forgive all.

 

Because love covereth all sins.

 

 

~

Pam is thrilled to announce the release of her second novel,

Claiming Mariah

 

 

To celebrate, Pam is giving away two eReaders

(choice of Kindle Wi-Fi, 6″ Display, or Nook Simple Touch)

Two Winners: One on facebook. One through Pam’s Newsletter.

Facebook Drawing: Kindle/Nook Giveaway

Newsletter: Pam’s Newsletter.

 

Registering both places is not required but will double your chances of winning. Also keep in mind that you will receive updates more often being connected on facebook than through the newsletter. Just sayin’

Contest runs from January 1st until March 31st, 2013.

 

And….that’s not all! There will be prizes offered randomly throughout the tour.

This week’s giveaway:

Mississippi Made

Handcrafted Mango Butter and Goat’s Milk Soap

Giveaway sponsored by Magnolias & Sassafras

  

 

Click for a Complete List of Stops Along the Tour

 

www.pamhillman.com

 

Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel. www.pamhillman.com

 

Oh, to be Wise in 2013!

If what we say flows from the heart (Matthew 15:18), then, I propose, what’s in the heart flows from our minds–what we focus on, think about, believe to be true. Perhaps that is why God commands us to take our thoughts captive–to actively choose what we think about (2 Corinthians 10:5). Not an easy task, but possible, with God’s help.

946930_praying_for_you-1One afternoon, after a few days of feeling generally unwell, a Scripture in Proverbs captured my attention:

Proverbs 10:14 “Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.”

In a way that can only come from the God of creation speaking through His written Word, this verse struck me. Knowledge. Wisdom. Right thinking.

My thinking had been anything but “right.” In fact, I’d become quite preoccupied with myself–how I felt, how I wished I felt, prayers asking for better health.

Sadly, my preoccupation with self began to overshadow my life’s purpose–knowing God and making Him known. As I prayed over this verse, a verse that penetrated deep into my heart, God showed me not only the errors of my what-ifs and what-nots, but also how to center myself, once again, in His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9, emphasis mine).

Think on these things, put them into practice, or in other words, live them, and then God’s peace will come.

Friends, there is only One who is good, honorable, true, and worthy of praise, and that is God alone.

Right thinking comes when we avert our thoughts off ourselves–what we want or don’t want–and focus instead on God, His nature, and His will.

This is what I long to do–choose to do–in 2013, and I invite you to join me.

I’ll be going through Proverbs, the book of wisdom, focusing on one verse I plan to put into practice each day. I’ll also post, with the help of other writers, devotionals expanding on certain verses or passages further. Because like James 1:25 reminds us, But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

The more we look at, soak up, and meditate on God’s perfect Word, the more He will bless us with right thinking, joy, contentment, and peace.

Let’s talk about this.

Join me at Living by Grace as we talk about living intentionally for our risen Savior.

I’ve shared my plans for 2013. Now it’s your turn. What are some changes you’d like to make in the coming year? What are your spiritual goals? What steps do you plan to take to reach those goals? Have you enlisted the help of an accountability partner?

Join myself and some of my writer friends in January as we take a leisurely yet intentional stroll through Proverbs!

If I wanted knowledge and wisdom–right thinking–I needed to think on those things that were lovely, right, pure admirable and worthy of praise.