Bible Study: Digesting God’s Word

bibleStudying the Bible is a fundamental practice that you simply cannot afford to skip. God’s Word is power. It is medicine to heal your wounds, and it’s a weapon to fight spiritual battles. If you believe you are “too busy” to study the Bible, then it’s time to reconsider what role, if any, your faith has in your life. Saying you are a Christian who is “too busy” to study the Bible is like saying you are married but “too busy” to live with your spouse. Jesus didn’t call us to warm a pew for an hour on Sundays. God wants a relationship with you, and an integral part of that relationship is getting to know God by studying His Word.

I would like to share a method for studying the Bible that I learned from Tony Evans and Joyce Meyer. Tony Evans taught me that God’s Word needs to be “digested.” We don’t just read it – we “chew on it” and invite it to become a part of who we are. Joyce Meyer taught me that a great way to do this is by really focusing on each word in a passage. Don’t just skim through the words, but really focus on what they mean and how you can apply them to your life.

I recently did this with the following verse and was so blessed by the process that I would like to share it with you. If you are a “big picture” person, you might find this process to be a bit tedious, but I encourage you to follow along, anyhow. Just as I was blessed to read the entire Bible despite being a detail-oriented person, you will be blessed even though this method might not fall within your comfort zone.

Here is the Bible verse we are going to digest together over the next several blog entries:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

For now, read the verse in its entirety. Think about what it means to you, and consider writing down your first impressions. Then, tune in tomorrow as we digest this wonderful verse a little at a time. I promise you – you will be blessed!

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace reading the Bible. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Never Tire of Doing Good

so_tiredToday was a hard day. Without going into detail, in more than one area of my life, God has called me to stand up for other people at a cost to myself and my family. These are situations that I did not have to get involved in. I could have chosen to ignore the pain of others because those situations did not have to “become my problem.” However, I chose to get involved (after prayer) because I felt God calling me to be a voice for people who had no voice themselves.

Here’s the kicker, though … Some of those people do not appear to be grateful for the sacrifices that my family and I have made for them. These are people who are in pain, which I know can “drown out” the bigger picture. As this is something I have struggled with myself, I am hardly in the position to judge. Nevertheless, when my family and I make big sacrifices for people without receiving so much as a “thank you,” it can cause me to question whether I should have bothered. Thankfully, the Bible provides us with the answer to that question:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

Doing the right thing would be easy if we always reaped an immediate harvest. If every time I did what was right, I received an immediate blessing, it would be very easy for me to keep making right choices. However, sometimes God calls us to do the right thing, but there is no immediate reward. There might not even be a long-term reward in this lifetime. In fact, sometimes instead of a reward, we suffer for doing the right thing. How do we keep going when we seemingly get nothing out of doing the right thing other than suffering, pain, and rejection?

The Bible tells us in James to…

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1:2-4

When you are growing weary of doing good, don’t give up! Remember that your delayed blessing is building perseverance, growing you toward maturity and completeness so you will lack nothing. God says a harvest is coming. Believe Him, even when you do not see it.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking exhausted under the words, “So tired.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Promised Land Living: Importance of Effort

effortContinued from here.

In my last blog entry, I answered Walking in the Now’s question about what I mean by God’s holy energy versus Satan’s unholy energy. I emphasized that we must choose to receive God’s holy energy and refuse to allow Satan to push in his unholy energy to experience true Promised Land living. Now, I would like to focus on the effort required by Christians to do this. Today’s graphic zooms in on that effort.

Note that Grace is not going about her life passively. She is actively using two pieces of the Armor of God. She is using the helmet of salvation to reject Satan’s negative energy and send it to the cross. For the negative energy that she winds up digesting, she is using the breastplate of righteousness to ensure that she doesn’t pass that negative energy along to anyone else. Put another way, she is putting forth effort into changing the way she thinks as well as the way she behaves.

For some reason, many Christians mistakenly believe that no effort is required to serve God. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. To quote Dallas Willard:

Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”

The Bible is clear that we are to bear one another’s burdens. A burden is something you cannot carry on your own, such as our salvation. We could never be “good enough” to reconnect with God, so Jesus bore the burden of our sins for us. However, Jesus isn’t going to carry your load – that’s your job. You carry your own load by doing what God tells you to do, such as by controlling your own thoughts and actions, and that takes effort.

Everything that God tells us to do in the Bible is for our own good. Every single instruction helps you pull in more holy energy and shut out the negative energy. As God sees you putting forth effort to be obedient to Him, He will empower you to do what you cannot do on your own. He won’t do His part until you do yours, and that requires effort.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace showing her role in using the helmet of salvation and breastplate of righteousness. She uses the helmet of salvation to send negative energy to the cross. The helmet of salvation limits unholy thoughts pushed in & digested. The breastplate of righteousness enables her to offer much more holy energy freely to others and push out much less unholy energy. Courtesy Grace Daniels and Bitmoji.]

Promised Land Living: Choosing Between God’s Energy and Unholy Energy

holy_unholy_energyI recently wrote a series about Promised Land Living. To help explain my points, I included graphics showing how we have to choose between pulling in God’s holy energy or allowing Satan to push in unholy energy. Today’s graphic zooms in on that part of the illustration.

I received the following question from a reader via email:

When you talk about unholy or God’s energy on your blogs, what does that mean? Please explain.” ~ Walking in the Now

Because God is holy, He is only capable to giving holy energy, such as love, joy, and peace. God gives freely without pushing that holy energy into anyone. So, while he makes His holy energy available, He will never “force” you to receive it. If you are a Christian, you have access to all of the love, joy, peace, and contentment you could ever want and more, but you must reach for it to receive it. This requires effort. If you do nothing, then you (sadly) won’t receive the holy energy that God offers you.

Unlike God, Satan is no gentleman. He actively pushes unholy energy into us, such as anger, bitterness, and strife. The unholy energy he offers is the opposite of God’s. Here’s a rundown of fruit of the spirit (holy energy) that God offers versus its opposite (unholy energy), which Satan pushes:

Holy Energy Unholy Energy
Love Selfishness
Joy Despair
Peace Discontentment
Patience Impatience
Kindness Rudeness
Goodness Evil
Faithfulness Disunity
Gentleness Harshness
Self-control Overindulgence

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope this helps explain what I mean by holy versus unholy energy.

In our flesh, our default setting is passivity. We don’t “pull” holy energy from God. Instead, we passively allow Satan to push all of this unholy/negative energy into our souls and then wonder why we feel so miserable all the time. On her TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, Joyce Meyer words it this way: “Stop letting Satan use your mind as a garbage dump.” I’ll explain more about this in my next blog entry.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace receiving holy energy freely offered from God but also Satan pushing unholy energy. She is wearing the helmet of salvation, which enables her to send unholy energy to the cross. The helmet of salvation limits unholy thoughts pushed in & digested. Courtesy Grace Daniels and Bitmoji.]

More Reflections after Weeks of Illness

life_is_hardContinued from here.

When I was in physical pain, it felt like it would never end. During the 17 days of illness, it felt like I always had been – and always would be – in pain. I used to feel that way when I was in therapy for the childhood abuse as well. I couldn’t remember that I had ever known joy or believe that I would ever know it again.

I kept trying to remind myself that what I was going through was temporary. When I couldn’t believe that, I broadened the perspective to this life being temporary. Even though I felt every minute of pain across those 17 days (and across years of healing from the trauma of childhood abuse), this temporal experience in this one life on earth is just a drop in the bucket of eternity. I cannot allow the screaming of my flesh in this moment to drown out God’s truths of eternity.

I was also ashamed of some of my poor behaviors when I was sick. Ever since I did the Love Dare to my husband in 2014, I have been mindful that I choose my behavior. It doesn’t matter how I feel — I can choose love, and I can choose grace. That’s not what I chose at various moments when I was sick (although I certainly made imperfect progress from prior illnesses). No matter how much progress I make or how much success I have experienced over a long period of time, I remain vulnerable to allowing my flesh to drown out the Spirit’s leading.

On Joyce Meyer’s TV show, Enjoying Everyday Life, she shared a story about a man who was facing the death of a loved one. His prayer was, “Help me do this right.” He knew that in his flesh, he would be unable to stay faithful to God, so He needed God to show him … and empower him … to do it.

That will become my prayer the next time I am sick (and was for the last few days after I heard this) because I am painfully aware that, in my flesh, I don’t have a chance of remaining faithful to God. Regardless of my best intentions, I cannot do it on my own. The cries of my flesh are too strong, and in the turmoil of physical pain, I have trouble hearing God’s still, small voice guiding me through “doing this right.” However, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Through God, I can “do this right.”

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on a coach with her hand on her head above the words, “Life is hard.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Reflections after Weeks of Illness

i_cant_evenI am writing this blog entry of Day 18 of being sick, and today is the first day I am feeling hopeful that I will fully recover and resume my fast-paced life. While my body is still healing, the “heaviness” of illness has lifted, so I want to reflect upon lessons I have learned during this season of illness so I don’t forget them in times of health.

All of us wrestle with the pull of our flesh (our natural inclinations) versus the Holy Spirit’s leading. I am disciplined about engaging in the seven fundamental practices regularly, which helps make the Spirit’s voice “louder” and drown out the cravings of the flesh. However, when I am sick, I am unable to engage in some of those spiritual disciplines regularly.

As I am in this transitional state of moving from sick to well, I am much more acutely aware of just how “loud” my flesh becomes when I am unable to engage in the seven fundamental practices. The pain in my body was drowning out the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, making it much more difficult for me to listen to God’s voice.

Throughout my illness, I forced myself to say multiple times a day: “I know that God loves me. I know that He is good. I know that He is here with me right now. And I know that He is in control.” The longer I was in physical pain, the less I believed this. On some days, I could not say those words without crying, and I now realize that my tears were an expression of my internal battle to believe God despite everything my body was “screaming” in my physical pain.

I always engage in praise and worship before writing for this blog. Tonight, this experience was such a joy, and yet for the last 17 days, praise & worship was a chore that I did not enjoy. I did not “feel” the Spirit’s presence as I did today.

This helped me realize that loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength is not a feeling – it’s a choice. I did not feel like I was getting anything out of praise & worship while I was sick, but I still chose to do it anyhow because I love God. Perhaps that’s what Bible means by a “sacrifice of praise” – when we choose to honor God, even when we really don’t feel like it, because we love Him more than what we prefer to do or not do.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lying on the floor under the words, “I can’t even.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Notes to Myself for the Next Time I am Sick

cheer_upContinued from here.

In my last blog entry, I shared that I keep a journal (as recommended by Priscilla Shirer) in which I write down helpful tips for keeping the faith. Here’s what I added to help me the next time I am sick and having trouble standing my ground in my faith:

WHEN YOU ARE SICK:

Satan knows this is your Achilles’ heel. He is powerful but has no authority over you. He will try to deceive you that you cannot access God’s joy because you are sick – cannot sing praise & worship or go to church or Bible study. THIS IS A LIE!

God is inside you, and He IS joy, so you have access to unlimited joy at all times, even when you are sick.

Humble yourself. Satan will tempt you to grow larger – to become full of yourself because you feel sick. GROW SMALLER. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. Grow smaller to access joy, peace, and contentment, even when you are sick.

Fight back: It is written…

  • Greater is the one who is in me than he that is in the world. ~ I John 4:4
  • No weapon forged against me will prevail. ~ Is. 54:17
  • In this world, I will have trouble. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world. ~ John 16:33

This is a test! You are being tested in preparation for being promoted.

GOD IS BIGGER.

Satan is lying to you. DO NOT BE DECEIVED. He has no power over you. The grave is empty. He is a defeated foe.

This season is temporary and WILL END. God is with you. Satan has no power over you. The grave is EMPTY! Big tests come before big promotions. You are surrounded by songs of deliverance.

The next time I am sick, I will read the notes I wrote to myself so I will remember how to fight back. And then, perhaps the juice that comes out of the squeezed fruit will be sweeter.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace on a sticky note with the words, “Cheer up” and a smiley face. Courtesy Bitmoji.]