Recently when I was spending time with the Lord, I read Matthew 5:8 and it really stood out to me. I began to wonder what it meant to have a pure heart, so I did some digging! When I looked up the word pure, I found that the word means not mixed or altered with any other substance or material; or uncontaminated. So how do we protect our hearts from becoming contaminated by the ways of this world? I believe that this means that we are to be in the world, but not of it. A more practical way of saying this is that we must put a guard on the portals to our heart, which are our minds, eyes, and body.
When it comes to putting a guard on our minds, the Word of God gives us very simple but clear instructions on how to do so. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” And as we can see…there’s that word “pure” again!
When we stop and take inventory on our thoughts, we will be able to see if we are in fact lining up with God’s Word. We can ask ourselves, am I thinking on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report? If not, it is time to think about our thinking! When we redirect our thoughts from our situation to the Word of God, we will be in agreement with what God says about our situation, rather than what the world has to say. This my friends is the most crucial part of keeping our minds pure, which will in turn protect what goes into our hearts.
One of the strongest tugs on my heart for our generation is guarding our eyes. With all of the images displayed on the media, movies, and advertisements these days, one does not even have to be intentionally seeking out something evil or corrupt in order to see it. Despite the culture that we live in however, I am convinced that there are steps that we can take to put a guard on our eyes.
Recently, I stopped in to a well known undergarment store at the mall (I won’t name the store, but I’m sure you can probably guess which one i’m speaking of). The images displayed at every turn made my heart so incredibly sad. In fact, there was no safe place to look except to the floor. Now, you may be wondering why I chose to look away, especially since it was other women I was looking at. Well, for me personally, this is a part of guarding my eyes. I have learned that these images can create a distorted image what women’s bodies should look like. When we look at the images that portray women in a way that God did not intend, and it can produce comparison, insecurity, and even body image distortion if we do not guard our eyes. This one simple act of looking away, (or clicking the exit button on the screen or television) is a choice that we can make when it comes to protecting our hearts.
The last thing that I want to touch on in relation to our hearts is the purity our bodies. In today’s society, modesty is certainly not the norm. In fact, it seems to be that our society is becoming more desensitized to seeing skin and even nudity with each passing year. Although we may not be able to stop how others are portraying themselves, we can certainly make a choice on how we present our bodies.
The bible also has quite a bit to say about this topic, and I think it goes without saying that it encourages modesty. One of my favorite verse on this topic is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” This scripture shows us that our bodies are not our own. They are a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, and God paid a high price for them. When we keep our bodies pure, dress modestly, and take care of them properly, we will honor God and protect our hearts from so much of the pain and evil of this world.
Not to mention, I can honestly say that the most confident and beautiful women I know are those that know they are valuable without revealing their bodies. There is something to be said about the beauty of a Godly character that is spoken of in Proverbs 31, for this type of beauty never fades!
Being an Example of Purity
Being an example of purity starts with guarding our own mind, eyes, and body, and finding our worth and value in who God created us to be. When we find our identity in Christ, instead of this world, we will find more fulfillment, peace and joy than one could ever imagine.
Sisters, I want to encourage you today…No matter your age, background, or your story, you can choose to be an example of purity in this world starting today. Not only will it bring glory to our heavenly Father, but it will protect your own heart, and bless the hearts of those around you.
Have you ever looked at someone’s house, beauty, business, or family that seems to be ‘ideal’ in your mind, only to leave you feeling less than? I am sure that these scenarios of comparison and perfection ring a bell for most, if not all women in some way…and I’ll be the first to admit that I have certainly been tempted with these things myself! Whether it is comparison with others or the pursuit of perfection, I have found both to be a dangerous trap.
I often describe the pursuit of perfection as something dangling in front of us that we will never be able to catch. The faster we run after it- the faster it moves just a few steps ahead of us…always remaining out of our reach. This chase always leads us to running a race that we were never meant to run, making us worn out, exhausted, and the ultimate purpose is to get us off track, too tired, and too busy to run the race that God has set before us.
I believe that the Lord has created each one of us to be so incredibly unique, and that He gave us specific gifts and talents to fulfill our destiny. These individual qualities that make us so different are the very gifts that God has bestowed upon us. Those blessings are the very things that God can and will use to draw people to Him, if we choose to use them for His purposes.
When start to strive to be something that we are not our gifts will remain dormant, and we will find ourselves run-down and exhausted with nothing left to give at the end of the day.
I believe that the only way to effectively deal with this never-ending chase is to shift our focus daily from our flaws, our weaknesses, and the very things that make us feel ‘less than’ to the one who IS perfect- Jesus Christ.
You see, from the moment that we give our lives to Jesus, He comes to live on the inside of us, which means that we no longer have to strive for perfection, because the hope of glory, the perfect Great one lives in us and through us. When we get our eyes off of ourselves and our own imperfections, and get our eyes on Christ, then we are freed up to think about others and how we can bless them.
Each one of us has so many different unique qualities that are intended to be used to build up and bless others. Let us make the choice this day to see the beauty, gifts, and blessings that the Lord has placed in our lives instead of looking at the things that we wish we could perfect. When we shift our focus onto Jesus, we will shine His love to the world around us in a more beautiful way than any physical quality ever could. We will be more content than we could have ever imagined.
If you would like to join me in ‘letting go’ of this never-ending pursuit of perfection, please join with me in saying this short and simple prayer.
“Lord, I thank you that you have created me wonderfully unique. Thank you for the gifts, talents, and blessings you have poured into my life to shine your glory to the world around me. Forgive me for striving to be something that you never intended me to be, and for comparing myself with others. Today I choose to focus on the beauty that you have placed in my life, instead of the things that seem to be my shortcomings. I thank you that today the pressure is off- I am content in being who you created me to be, nothing more, nothing less!”
For more devotionals like this, be sure to check out my new devotional book: Devotions for a Healthier You!
The Word of God has plenty to say about eternity! We understand from God’s word that while this life is a gift, we are simply visitors passing through on our way to our final and perfect home with Him. But, how often do we really live that way? It is easy to forget that the Lord looks at the heart and find ourselves being overly focused on our bodies – our weight, our size, our cellulite, I could go on and on!
It’s especially hard because the world is obsessed with the body! Just walk through a bookstore and it won’t take long to realize that we truly are living in a body obsessed world.
To be very candid with you, this has been a struggle for me recently too. As a health coach and a publicly outspoken voice on exercise and healthy living, I find myself easily getting sucked into the pressure to look a certain way. Now, don’t get me wrong, our bodies are the dwelling place of the Most High God, so it is important for all of us to care well for them, but it’s so easy to go overboard and accidently hop on the body-obsessed bus with the rest of the world.
The Lord has been captivating my heart lately with a strong awareness of just how important it is for me to be purposeful about living for the Spirit, for heaven, and with eternity in mind! After all, these bodies will pass away – they will – and what will matter, all that will matter is what we did with the name of Jesus.
That’s why starting January 8, 2015, I’m inviting all of you to join me in a commitment to be spirit focused this year! I am praying that with this commitment God will do incredible things and move in huge ways in the hearts and lives of His children! Will you join Katie and I as we commit to a Fit Spirit in 2015? Stay tuned for more details!
I wrote this book study to help readers dive deeper into the devotions in Devotions for a Healthier You. It is my hope that through this study, the devotionals will become more than words on a page, but rather a life giving study that will bring revelation of each person’s identity and value in Christ.
To use this study, simply go through one session per week (for ten weeks total), pairing it with the daily devotional reading. The daily devotions found in the book are simple and straight to the heart of the issue, focusing on one or two verses each, which will allow you to walk away with a ‘bite size’ morsel of the Word to chew on throughout the day. This book study was designed to take you deeper, with one session per week, focusing on subjects such as finding your value in Christ and getting spiritually and physically fit!
Each session begins by reading the lesson, and is followed with the questions to get the discussion flowing. You may do this study by yourself, but it was intended to do with a group of women, since iron sharpens iron. As you study, discuss, and share what God says about you in His Word, while reflecting on the great promises He has made to us, I pray your eyes are opened to greater revelation.
I hope this devotional book and book study are helpful resources in your journey to health, and finding out how greatly valued, treasured, and loved you are by God! Blessings~ Katie
1. Change Begins on the Inside
2. How do You See Yourself?
3. How Does God See Us?
4. Changing the Image on the Inside
5. Finding the Beauty in Being You
6. Overcoming Insecurity
7. Do You Struggle with Comparison?
8. Getting Spiritually Fit
9. Getting Physically Fit
10. Is it Too Late to Get on Track?
Christmas is a time that has been set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but so often the meaning of Christmas is lost in the hustle and bustle.
God gave the ultimate gift of His son Jesus, so that we could have everlasting life with Him, and be called son’s and daughters of God (John 3:16-18, 1 John 3:1). This gift was given out of the heart of the Fathers great love for us, and it is too precious of a gift to keep to ourselves!
This year, instead of making Christmas all about the decorations, the treats, and the gifts (although, all of those things are ok in their proper place), let’s shift our focus onto sharing Jesus with others, by showing them God’s kind of love.
Jesus said that all men would know that we are His disciples by the love we show to one another. (John 13:35) If we truly want to make Jesus the reason for the season, let’s give the gift of God’s great love to others this Christmas!
Here are some fun ways you and your family can celebrate Jesus, and spread God’s love to those around you:
1. Make Jesus the focus of your Christmas celebration with your family. Before opening gifts, take time to pray together, and read the account of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:1-12, and Luke 2:1-20).
2. Give the gift of joy to those around you by getting a group together to sing Christmas carols! Some of the best places to visit are nursing homes, hospitals, and even your own neighborhood!
3. Make a birthday cake for Jesus, and sing to Him! This is fun especially if you have little ones, and it puts the focus on Jesus’ birth, and celebrating Him, rather than the gifts and toys.
4. Give the gift of time by volunteering at your local food bank, shelter, or salvation army.
5. Find ways to bless families in your community. Whether you give the gift of toys, gas or grocery cards, or even make a warm meal for someone, a simple act of generosity can show the love of God in a powerful and tangible way!
6. Visit, send a card, write a letter, or call someone who may be lonely or experiencing grief during the holiday season. It may not seem like much to you, but this one simple act of kindness may be the brightest moment in that persons darkest hour.
7. Donate a portion of the funds that would typically go to buying Christmas cards (or gifts) to a charity. Someone I know introduced me to this idea a few years ago, and it has blessed my heart ever since!
8. Pay for someones meal, coffee, or groceries. You never know how this random act of kindness may make their whole day, and it will most likely leave a lasting impression of God’s love.
9. Go through your closet (or kids closet) and donate clothes, boots, shoes, and coats to local organizations or shelters.
10. Invite someone who may be lonely to one of your Christmas celebrations. Sure, it may be breaking tradition a bit by having someone new join, but I am convinced that there is no greater way to show God’s love than to bring them into a house full of love when people need it most!
I hope this filled you with some great ideas to show God’s love that you can incorporate this Christmas, and maybe even make some of them your new Christmas traditions! When we turn our focus to others, and care for them in simple ways, we are essentially giving them the ultimate gift- God’s love!
On a final note about giving, I want to take a moment to thank each one of you for your generosity! If you support Dashing Dish, you have been a part of giving this past year in a HUGE way! Last year, we started an extension of Dashing Dish, called Dashing Delivery. God put it on our hearts to put the ‘Dashing’ into Dashing Dish by delivering groceries and grocery gift cards to those in need. Thanks to you guys, we have been able to give over $6,000 in groceries and grocery gift cards to families in need in one years time! Every month, we pray and ask the Lord where to give, and He is more than faithful to connect us with families. We also donate to our churches food pantry on a monthly basis, who not only feeds the hungry, but shares Jesus with them! I am sharing this with you today, because if you have supported Dashing Dish you are also a part of this ministry. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support, and for helping us spread the love of God in a tangible way!
The Fruit of Self Control
The holidays are officially upon us, which means a time for gathering with family and friends, and a time for feasts and treats! This wonderful time of year can also be a time of temptation to overspend, overeat, and over indulge. This may seem harmless in many ways, until January comes, and the reality of bills and weight gain sets in.
If this sounds familiar, I have good news…It doesn’t have to be that way this year, or ever again for that matter! If you have received Christ as your savior, then the Spirit of God lives inside of you. When he came to live in your heart, He came bearing gifts…a “fruit basket”, if you will! The fruits that the Spirit of God brought with Him are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). That means that each one of us is able to have self-control in any situation if we choose to be led by the spirit.
God’s Kind of Self Control
Now, before I say anything else on this topic, I do want to clarify a few important things relating to this topic of self-control that could easily be taken out of context. First of all, I will say that I know from personal experience that for some people ‘self-control’ can be taken to dangerous levels when it gets over into a ‘controlling’ mindset.
If you have found that this is the case with you, be sure that you are aware that you are following the Spirit of God inside of you, and not just trying to ‘control’ things on your own. This can and will always lead to failure and can even be dangerous because God never intended us to depend on our own strength. Following the Spirit of God will produce ‘self control’ in a balanced way and it will never be based out of fear or obsession. Remember, god calls us to be balanced (1 Peter 5:8), which means we can enjoy all things in moderation, which means enjoying a cookie at times!
Not by Might but By the Spirit of God
Now that we got those two very important points established, you may be saying to yourself, “I just don’t have self-control in the area of eating and exercise, especially around the holidays. Every time I try to resist the Christmas cookies, it is only a matter of time before I end up eating the entire batch!” Or, in the area of exercise, you may be thinking to yourself, “I hate exercising. The moment that I begin an exercise program I do good for a couple days, and then fall off the wagon completely! There is no use in even starting!”
This, my friends, is where self-control comes in! Think about it…no one can make you eat something, or force you to sit on the couch instead of exercising! Only YOU have the ability to make the choice to be led by your ‘flesh’ or the ‘spirit’. When you make the choice to be led by the Spirit of God, the fruits of the spirit will then be produced naturally. It won’t be long that the fruit of self-control will be so abundant in your life that you won’t even have a problem saying no to that second or third cookie or yes to being active!
The great thing is, He is the one who strengthens us to walk in the Spirit! Ephesians 3:16 says “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” This is just one of the many promises that the lord will strengthen us by His Spirit when we depend on His power, rather than our own might.
Why Use Self Control?
Not only do we have the ability, but God’s word instructs us to use self-control! 1 Peter 13 says, “Think clearly and exercise self-control.”Proverbs 25:28 tells us that, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” The Word even talks specifically about using self control in relation to food. Proverbs 25:16 says, “Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!” It sounds to me that God wants us to use this gift that He has given us for our own peace and protection.
In addition, If we want to fulfill the purpose that God has for us here on this earth, we need to be in good health! In order to run the race God has set before us with full strength and vigor, we need to use wisdom on how we treat our bodies. This includes getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise.
How do We Draw out the Fruit of Self Control?
Now, all this being said, how do we actually apply all of this? It comes down to making the choice to submit to God and be led by the Spirit of God that is in us every single day. (Romans 12:1) And believe me, it is a daily choice! Another way to do this is to build ourselves up in the spirit so that we do not easily give into the desires of our flesh. This can be done by praying, fasting, and studying and meditating on the Word of God (Romans 12:2). When we do this, the fruit of self-control will naturally be produced. We never have to ‘make’ the fruit appear or muster it up in our own strength, it will just grow as we grow in the Lord. The more we are led by the Spirit, the more that fruit will be produced…It’s that simple!
So in order to be led by the Spirit, we must first of all believe that He is inside of us and that He is leading and guiding us into all truth (John 16:13). By putting our trust in what God says about us in His word, making the choice to listen to that still small voice inside of us, and choosing to lean on His strength, we will walk by the Spirit. It can take some time to learn to walk by the Spirit if you are accustomed to giving your flesh whatever it asks for. Some practical tips on strengthening your ‘spiritual muscles’ are praying, spending time in the Word, and fasting- which is one of the most powerful forms of denying the flesh.
Now please hear me when I say it may not be easy to apply all of this, especially at first. The Bible tells us that, “Discipline is never pleasant at the time, but that in time it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”(Hebrews 12:11). However, once you have made the choice to consistently be led by the Spirit, the fruit of self-control will be so abundant in your life that you will find that it is easy to resist eating that whole plate of Christmas cookies that was at one time screaming your name!
Progress Not Perfection
Having said all of this, it is important to note that we are all on a journey, and none of us are perfect. We will all have moments where we do not walk perfectly in self-control. So, what do we do if we do slip up and eat more than we should have, or one too many cookies? Do we have to go around guilty and depressed? Absolutely not! After all, the Bible tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Therefore, when we do “miss the mark” so to speak, we simply repent before the Lord and keep running our race with our eyes fixed on Jesus, rather than our past mistakes.
It is also important to note that our failures do not change the way that God sees us. The Word tells us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5:8). It is important to remember that God’s love for each one of us is unconditional and unchanging. He knows each of us individually and loves us with a love that has no beginning and no end, simply because He IS Love.
So, the message for today is that if you have found yourself trying to ‘work up’ self-control in the past only to find that you always seem to ‘give in’, just know that the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to lead and guide you in all areas of your life! All you have to do is make the choice to walk with Him and follow His leading! As you make the choice to be led by the Spirit, His fruit will grow and mature inside of you, and you will find that self-control will come without any effort! Remember, the Holy Spirit who is inside us has everything we need to live a victorious life. All we have to do is make the choice daily to believe this and choose to submit to His leading!
Prayer: Lord, I ask that you would help me to see my body as your dwelling place. Strengthen me to be disciplined and well balanced in order to properly take care of my body. Help me to make healthy choices and to be wise enough to know when I am no longer operating in the fruit of self control. Help me to be motivated to exercise and to get enough sleep and rest so I can have the energy needed to run my race with strength and endurance! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
For more devotionals like this, be sure to check out my new devotional book: Devotions for a Healthier You!
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.~Proverbs 22:6
If your family is anything like ours, busy is the word that seems to describe your schedule most of the time. Something I’ve really taken to the Lord lately is my concern over busyness pushing out time for my kids to enjoy time with the Lord. My heart’s desire is that my kids will learn early to love their time with the Lord, to desire it and to prioritize it. Of course, I have to model that for them, but I really needed the Lord to show me ways for THEM to spend time with Him amidst their busy schedules. He’s been so faithful, I hope some of the ideas God’s given me bless your family too.
Homework – my son attends public school so he don’t have bible time, but he does have homework! He is required to read for 40 minutes per week. So, the Lord showed me to make his reading time his Bible time. First thing in the morning at breakfast, he reads to us for 10 minutes from his bible or a daily devotion. He is meeting his homework requirements, improving his reading skills, hiding God’s work in his heart first thing in the morning, and it’s been an unexpected blessing to me too! I get something out of HIS time with the Lord every day!
Technology – Admittedly, I am not a huge technology person. I timidly tip-toed into the Apple store when I could no longer deny that I may in fact be the sole surviving flip-phone owner. However, I do love that technology makes the Word of God so accessible! Blessed are those who HEAR the Word and obey it. My kids love to listen to the Word before bed, it’s a great way for them to wind down and to cover their minds and hearts before they fall asleep. My daughter is only four, so she does best with a Bible Stick (BibleStick KIDZ Bible is available at www.faithcomesbyhearing.com), an amazing little tool that’s simple to use, and she LOVES it. My son uses an Ipod so I can download so many amazing options for him to enjoy. Some of our favorites are:
Ultimately, my prayer is that my kids will seek out God’s word because they LOVE it, because they desire it and because it truly is alive and real in their lives. I am so thankful for God’s creativity and faithfulness to provide fun ways for our kids to be led into all truth as they hide His word in their hearts. I hope your family is as blessed by this as we have been. xo Sarah
There are varying opinions about how to handle Halloween, but there’s one thing we can all agree on –there will be candy! Lots and lots of candy!
When my son turned two I sought the Lord about how to handle Halloween in our home. At that point he was toddling around with tiny steps and there was a huge part of me that really wanted to put him in some crazy cute get-up and show him off to all the neighbors! I had such fond memories of fall evenings running with friends from house to house on that night. Then, rushing home with excitement to revel in the bounty I’d collected. It was a good, pure memory for me and one I desired for my own kids.
I really needed the Lords guidance though to help set a precedent with our kids for Halloween. I don’t believe there is any one “right” way for everyone, but what the Lord showed me has been a blessing and is still the way we approach Halloween six years later. The kids know that their costume choices have to follow the Philippians 4:8 rule (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.) and be “silly” in nature – nothing scary or “dark”. And, we are very, very careful to “guard our gates” (an awesome article about this here, http://sarahbessey.com/guard-gates/). In other words, we are very careful about what our little eyes see. We intentionally choose to get candy from homes where the “light is on” both literally and figuratively.
I had great peace about how we would handle Halloween, but in the early years of seeking more balance in my health, Halloween posed another source of stress and anxiety for me. The candy, oh the endless, endless candy! I simply did not want all that temptation, nor did I really feel that my kids should be eating that much candy for seemingly months on end. So, again, I sought the Lord and as always He was faithful with an answer that has blessed me ever since. I want to share it with you in hopes that it helps bring more peace and balance to you this year!
The kids collect as much candy as they want to, after all the collection is half the fun. We all sit down together and sort, and ooh and ahh over the amount, then we ALL pick our three favorite pieces to enjoy right then and there. I participated in this right from the get-go. I want to model balance for my kids and let them see that it’s ok to enjoy something like small amounts of candy once in a while without it leading to disordered eating. Then, they are given the choice to trade in their candy or keep it. They can “trade” their candy for an experience (I did toys the first year, but quickly realized that wasn’t the best option). They hand over the remainder of the candy, and in trade I give them an IOU for a trip to the museum, or the zoo, or the movies, any healthy experience they choose.
So you may be thinking, ok great Sarah, but what if they choose the candy!? I know! Admittedly, I still wait for their answers with bated breath hoping it’s never the candy. If they choose the candy, they get to keep as many additional pieces as they are in years (four pieces for my four year old, eight for my eight year old, etc.). Can I be honest though? They never have! I think there is almost a tiny, albeit, denied part of them that almost feels relieved to have that much abundance controlled for them – I think it’s overwhelming even for kids!
As for the rest of the candy, I either offer it to my dry cleaner to hand out throughout the year, or friends, I simply toss it. It’s ok. I’ve let go of the guilt. I really think it’s ok to just let that one go – guilt be gone in Jesus name! I pray this blesses you and your family and may THE light of the world shine on you this fall season!
What are the Benefits of Studying the Word of God?
Over the past few years, I have received a lot of questions and emails from people who asking how to study the Bible. I want to begin by saying that the great thing about spending time in the Word is that we get to spend time with our Father, and He wants to speak to us through His Word even more than we want to hear from Him! He loves us more than we could ever imagine, and His love letter to each one of us is the Bible!
I wanted to start by saying, because I truly think that if we go into studying the Word of God with the mindset that it is something that we ‘should’ or ‘have’ to do, it sucks the life right out of it! Instead, if we approach the Word as time to be with our Father and fellowship with the creator of the universe, we will see this time as a treasure, rather than a religious duty.
Not only is time spent in the Word a time to receive the Lord’s great love for us, but it is also the road map to our lives, guiding us and leading us into all truth and showing us the way to go. It also builds us up in our faith, gives us direction, renews our minds, lovingly corrects us, gives us wisdom, and brings true peace, joy, and fulfillment… and the list goes on. An important thing to remember is that the Word of God has the answer to every situation we will ever face in this life, and it will nourish and satisfy us like nothing on this earth ever could!
How do we Study the Word?
Now that I have laid a foundation for the benefits of spending time in the Word, the second thing I want to say about studying the Bible is that it is not a simple answer because the Word is Alive (Hebrews 4:12). It is different than any other book, because the Holy Spirit wrote it through people, and it is the Holy Spirit that brings each word on the page alive to each one of us as we study it. Therefore, the study of the Word and time spent with the Lord will look a little different for each person. It may look different each day and season of our lives because there may times/days when we really just need to spend time studying one passage or scripture for a period of time while asking the Lord to reveal it to us in a deeper way and bring it to life to us. There may be other times, however, when we read a whole chapter in one day and the Lord uses bits and pieces of it to speak different things to us. However, that being said, there are some truths that are constant and remain the same when it comes to believers reading the Word.
Here are the five things that should stay the same and apply to everyone in their time spent studying the Word:
1. Give God’s Word First Place. When we put God’s Word first place, everything in our lives will be built upon a firm foundation. John 8:31-32 tells us that if we abide in the Word, then we will be His disciples. We will know the truth and the truth will set us free. If we want to walk in the freedom that God has for us in every area of our life, we must make it our first priority to spend time with the Lord each day. If you feel that you don’t have time early in the morning, I would encourage you to try going to bed earlier so that you can set your alarm to wake up earlier! You can always study during your lunch break, at night, or any time throughout the day, but I personally have found that my whole day gets off to the right start when I make time to fellowship with Him first thing!
2. Go into Reading your Bible with Expectancy. When you spend time with the Lord, begin looking at it like getting to know your best friend. When you spend time with that person, they rub off on you a little more and soon you become like them. That is the way we should go into spending time with God. That takes away any tendency that someone might have to spend time with God out of ‘duty’ or obligation. When we expect to hear from Him, we are walking in faith that He will speak to us. This kind of attitude not only pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6), but it opens our hearts up to receive what He is speaking to us!
3. Pray Before you Read. Ask the Lord to bring the Word alive to you, to bring you revelation, and to give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to receive what He is saying to you. I always ask the Holy Spirit to give me insight and understanding when reading the Word. The Holy Spirit was sent to us to teach us, counsel us, and remind us of the truths of God’s Word. He is also the one who inspired the people who wrote the Word, so He is the best teacher of all! (John 14:26)
4. Seek and You will Find. If you have a question, something you are going through, or just want to know the Lord more, know that when you seek, you will find, and that the Word has the answer to everything we have need of in this life. (Matthew 7:7)
5. Meditate and Pray the Word. I personally love journaling while studying the Word. When I write down scriptures, it allows me to think about each word and think about how it applies to my own life. I also love praying the Word, because I know that I am praying God’s perfect will when I am praying in alignment with what He said! I also love writing and praying scripture based prayers, because it increases my faith in His promises and it allows me to look back and reflect on His faithfulness!
Where Should I Start Reading?
As far as where to start reading or what Bible to read, I would say that it is important to read both the Old and New Testament equally. However, if it is your first time reading the Bible, I would suggest starting with the New Testament because this is where you will find your identity about who you are in Jesus. The New Testament is composed of The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke John), which were written by the disciples, sharing their encounters with Jesus when He was on the earth.The Epistles – (Acts-Revelation) were written for the Christian church instructing us on how to live and carry out the ministry of Jesus today, while teaching us who we are in Christ. The New Testament is beneficial to us today because as Christians, we are saved by what Jesus did for us on the cross. For that reason, we are now under a new covenant with God, which means that we are no longer subject to the punishment of God and we don’t have to offer sacrifices for our sins. Jesus came as a sacrifice once and for all for all and carried our sins in His body so that we could be born again and have a personal relationship with God (1 Peter 2:24).
The Old Testament is also equally important because it is the foundation for the New Testament, teaching us about who God created us to be from the beginning. It also contains countless prophesies of things to come in the New Testament that could only be fully understood if you read the Old Testament. It has powerful life lessons that provide wisdom, insight, and understanding to our lives today.
What Version Should I Read?
I personally like the NKJV and the NLT. However, it is important that it is a version that you can understand. The NIV, NKJV, NLT, Amplified, and The Message are all versions I have studied in the past. I would say that it also helps to have a dictionary to help you understand certain words and/or a concordance to study the Greek or Hebrew root words and their meanings. Some other additional study guides that I have found helpful in learning my foundation of who I am in Christ are, The Believers Journey by Chris Palmer and The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. I also wrote my devotional Devotions for a Healthier You in hopes to help women find their true fulfillment and identity in Christ based on what I have studied and learned over the years.
I hope this helps! This topic can go much deeper than one post can explain, but I hope this encourages you to explore and study the Word if you haven’t already started! I truly believe that God’s Word is the foundation for our lives, and it will be our rock- firm, steady, and never changing through all of life’s seasons…But most of all, it is God’s personal love letter to you! xo Katie
Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to guard our heart ABOVE ALL ELSE. There must be a reason that God put’s it as a top priority…which makes me think it’s important to pay attention.
As I began to think about my heart, and the ‘issues’ that affect it, I immediately thought about the ‘obvious’ things that would affect me. I know better than to watch certain movies and shows that demoralize women for example…but as I began to talk to the Lord about this issue, He showed me that it is often the ‘little’ and subtle things that come in and affect our hearts.
It may be different for everyone, but I know for me, I have to guard my heart against scrolling on social media pages (FB, instagram, etc.), which can lead to comparing and jealousy without even realizing it. I also try to filter through the music and lyrics I allow in my ears, for I have learned that it eventually goes into my heart. I also try to be aware of the magazines I flip through- I try to ask myself, does this bring forth thoughts that come from God’s identity and worth/value, or does it send me down a negative spiral making me feel like I need to do 5 more things before I feel ‘good’ about myself?
I know it may seem silly, but the Word of God says that we need to be alert, for the devil roams about like a lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), which tells me that it is the little subtle things that pull us into a trap. Sure, we may fill our minds with the Word of God in the morning, but if we allow 100′s of other ‘messages’ to come in throughout the day, we will be left confused and unaware of who we truly are. If we take a look at the ‘issues’ in our lives, and if they have anything to do with a lack of self-worth, there may be a chance that we can trace them back to something we have put in our hearts.
Let’s be alert and aware of the things that we allow in our hearts, whether it be a show, a movie, a magazine, music, social media- you name it… If it is not promoting and esteeming who God says you are, I would challenge you to lay it down at His feet! I can say from my own experience, it may ‘seem’ hard at first, but nothing that He leads us to give away isn’t returned to us with something better (often it’s the simple gift of peace and joy!) I pray someone is encouraged and blessed by this today, and that we begin to guard our hearts as women against what this worlds says we should be, and that we come into a revelation of who God says we are, and Who’s we are~ His daughters! xo Katie