The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Three

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Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In my previous posts on Verse Mapping, you learned Step One: Context–discovering the context of your chosen verse and Step Two: Other Translations–looking up your verse in different versions and translations of the Bible.

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Step Three: Cross-References

Now you’re ready for the third step in the Verse Mapping process–finding cross-references. A cross-reference is a verse that relates to your verse. It may use similar words or be on the same topic. The cross-references shed additional light on the topic as other authors teach on it.

Martin Luther wrote that “Scripture is its own expositor.” When we have questions about a verse, the best place to go for answers is the Bible. Other passages in the Bible can explain places that are difficult for us to understand. The more we read the clearer Scripture will become. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Word and illumines our comprehension.

One way to find cross-references is to use a study Bible. Often a study Bible will list the cross-references in the middle of the page between the two columns. To find a cross-reference, look for your verse number. The letters indicate cross-references for different parts of the verse, different concepts.

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Using Bible Gateway for Cross-References

Or you can use online Bibles for finding cross-references. On Bible Gateway, once you have found your chosen verse, you click on the gear symbol for “Settings,” and then on “Cross-references.” You will have to make sure that the version you are looking at has cross-references. For instance, the English Standard Version, the New American Standard Version, the New International Version have cross-references available. The New Living Translation and the Amplified Bible do not.

In the screenshot below, note the gear symbol (green arrow). Once you click the gear, the drop-down menu is visible. You can see that the cross-reference box is checked.

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To find the cross-references, I look at my verse–John 15:5–and look for the letters in parenthesis. I can click on one of the letters and a little box with the cross-references will appear:

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Or I can remember the letters in my verse–in this case, J and K–and then scroll down where all the cross-references are listed. You can click on the references and the verses will be displayed.

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Some verses will have many cross-references. Others only a few. Write your chosen cross-references into your Verse Map Template.

Verse Mapping Step 3

From the cross-references for John 15:5, I notice that abiding in Christ is possible because we are united with Christ through His death and His resurrection. John 15:16 tells me that Jesus chose me so that I could bear fruit–lasting fruit. This is amazing to me! First of all, I’m astounded at being chosen and second, that part of my calling is to produce something lasting for God’s kingdom.

Through His Word, God continually teaches me more about being His child. Verse Mapping helps me see things that I might not otherwise notice.

Next Step: If you haven’t done so already, give Verse Mapping a try. Download a Verse Mapping template here. Look up cross-references for your chosen verse.

 

The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Two

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Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In my previous post, we discussed choosing a verse to study, assembling supplies, and Step One of examining the context of the verse.

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Verse Mapping Step Two: Other Translations

Now you’re ready for step two–looking at your chosen verse in other translations or versions of the Bible. This simple step can shed new light on the verse because a different version may translate the original Hebrew or Greek words with different English words that allow you to look at the verse in a new way. You gain new insight, a fresh perspective.

You can do this step with additional Bibles you own. Bible nerd that I am, I own English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), Amplified Bible (AMP), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and The Living Bible (TLB).

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You can also look up your verse in different translations with a parallel Bible which contains several versions side by side.

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But the easiest way to do this is to use an online Bible site. My favorite site for this is Bible Gateway.com. Here is a screenshot of John 15:5 in ESV, NIV, NLT, and AMP.

John 15-5 in parallel translations

My go-to version is English Standard Version because it is one that stays very close to the original languages. NIV is a little more readable. New Living Translation often makes verses easier to understand. And I love the Amplified Bible because it expands certain words, giving additional meaning derived from the original languages.

With my chosen verse of John 15:5, I started out with ESV. But from the other versions, I can see that abide can mean remain. Abiding in Christ is remaining connected to Him. Perhaps remaining is more passive than abiding, reminding me that Christ is holding me. My role is simply not to wriggle away. From NLT I can see that bearing fruit is the same as producing fruit. And the Amplified Bible gives a little more meaning to “apart from Me”–“cut off from vital union with Me.” All of this helps me understand the verse a little better.

Using Bible Gateway

To look up your verse in multiple versions, go to BibleGateway.com and enter your verse in the search bar.

Then click on the “Add parallel” icon (note green arrow below):

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You can look at up to five versions at a time. To change the version, click on the little gray arrow next to one of the versions and a menu of over 100 versions will pop up (note yellow arrow in picture below.) Click on the version you want to look at.

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Now write your favorite versions into your verse map. I chose the Amplified Version and also The Message because they both added new insights. The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible, not a direct translation. Sometimes I think it is way off from the true meaning of the verse, but for John 15:5 I thought it did a good job of catching the meaning and expressing it in a new way.

Verse Mapping Step 2

These versions remind me that apart from Christ, I can do nothing. But joined with Him, I can have an abundant fruit. Even in this process of Verse Mapping, rely on the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you. We cannot do it on our own. But, God loves to reveal Himself in His Word.

Next step: Look up your chosen verse in different translations or versions of the Bible. Choose your favorites and write them in your Verse Map. You can download my Verse Map template here.

 

 

The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step One

The Essential Guideto VerseMapping

You love Scripture. You read it. You listen to it. You meditate on it.

Through it the voice of God speaks to your heart.

But sometimes you wish you could get more out of it.

Enter Verse Mapping.

What exactly is Verse Mapping?

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word.

In Verse Mapping, you look at the individual parts of a Bible verse and then put it back together with the new understanding you have gained. It incorporates all the things I usually do to dig into God’s Word in a systematic way. Through this method, you will grasp the meaning of the verse in a new way that will help you apply it to your life.

Getting Started

To start the Verse Mapping process, you will need to:

A. Grab your supplies for your Bible journey.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all these tools. With each step, I will show you how to use online Bible tools.

 

The EssentialGuide toVerse Mapping

B. Select a verse to diagram

  • Begin with prayer: ask God to lead you to the verse you need right now.
  • Consider a verse from your daily Bible reading plan.
  • Or pick a favorite verse that you have questions about or want to understand better.
  • Copy your verse from your favorite translation of the Bible to the top of your verse map.

To illustrate the process, I will be mapping John 15:5 on my Verse Mapping template:

VerseMapStep 1Verse Mapping Step 1: Context

Now you’re ready for Step 1 of Verse Mapping–discovering the context of the verse. Look in your Bible and find out what was happening before and after the verse. If the verse is part of a story or narrative give a summary. Note who said or wrote the words in your chosen verse.

Context is very important to understanding the big picture. It will help you avoid making applications of the verse that were never meant by the original author.

Verse Mapping Step 1a

Now grab your supplies and start your own verse map. Whenever we open God’s Word, the Holy Spirit speaks to us and teaches us the mind of Christ. Verse Mapping can help us pay attention to His voice.

Download a copy of the Verse Mapping template here.

Next week we will explore Step 2.

Next step: Ask God to help you choose the verse that He wants you to study–the verse you need for spiritual growth. Ask Him to guide you through this in-depth study process.

Revealing the Cover of My New Book

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Face it. Waiting is hard.

Waiting is hard when we have to stand in line to get our favorite ice cream flavor. Waiting is harder when we have to wait for answers to prayer.

Waiting is excruciating when we’ve been praying for a heartfelt desire and all we hear from heaven is “Wait.”

I’ve struggled with my own waiting seasons. Believe me when I say that struggled is the operative word. I’d like to say that I have always accepted God’s timeline for my life with patience and trust, but that is not the case.

That’s why I wanted to dig deep into the subject of waiting. I wanted to find out answers to questions like: What does God say about it in His Word? What Scriptures can guide my waiting times? Are these examples in the Bible of people who waited well? What lessons can I learn from their lives?

What I discovered was: God often made His people wait. Some of them did not leave us good examples to follow. But some waited well.

I concentrated my study on the lives of eight women in the Bible who had a waiting period. Women like Sarah, Hannah, Esther, and Martha. These women taught me so much about waiting that I wanted to share it with all of you!

The result is my new book–Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust. In these pages, you will discover encouragement for your waiting heart. Hope for your soul when God seems to have put your life on hold.

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The Waiting study will be released on June 21. But check out these awesome opportunities to save and receive fantastic free offers!

  • Right now you can click here to preorder and receive some awesome freebies.
  • Or you can wait to buy it on June 21 and receive my new Easy Joy course for free! (This is a $15 value! Find out more about this 12-week course here.) If you are looking for a new study for your small group, tell everyone about this offer and you can all receive the eCourse when you buy the book. (There will be a page on my website where you will enter your order number from Concordia Publishing House or Amazon and your email and then you will receive the course in your inbox!)

May God bless you as you wait on Him!

 

 

 

Book Review: Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply

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If you’re looking for a fun, yet meaningful Bible study, check out Deb Burma’s new book: Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply. This study refreshed my thirsty soul.

Using coffee analogies and word pictures Deb explores God’s Word–especially the topics of God’s refreshing grace and how that grace fuels our everyday lives.

The book has seven sessions:

  • A Clean Cup (forgiveness and renewal in Christ)
  • A Poured-Out Cup (God’s refilling when we feel empty)
  • A Dumped-Out Cup (dumping out the bad–guilt, worry, fear)
  • My Portion and My Cup–Circumstances (contentment)
  • My Portion and My Cup–Relationships (relationships with God and others)
  • My Portion and My Cup–Opportunities (using your gifts)
  • My Overflowing Cup (thankfulness)

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Because I love studying Scripture, I especially appreciated Deb’s different study approaches. In one chapter she outlines the “blended-flavor details study approach.” First, she talked about how the different flavors of specialty coffee drinks blend together to the unique taste sensation. Then she encouraged readers to explore a passage of Scripture, looking at it from different angles, asking questions like:

  • How are you convicted of your sin and prompted to repent?
  • What do you learn about your Savior?
  • Specifically, how are you moved to praise Him and to respond with action, by the Spirit’s power?

Throughout the 7-week study, there are ample opportunities to drink deeply from God’s Word. And as we savor the Word, we receive His peace and joy.

The book also includes personal stories, fun coffee facts, delicious recipes, and even some coffee-themed projects that would be especially fun for groups to complete together.

The imagery in this study helps us grab onto concepts that free our souls and deepen our relationship with Christ. Deb writes,

As God pours His grace into our lives, it’s like a pure, sweet cream poured into the bitterest of coffee. Is the coffee still there? Of course. Will the bitterness of our circumstance remain in our lives, at least for a time? Quite often, yes. But what we taste has changed. By the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us, we are able to see the same situations in light of God’s grace for us in Christ Jesus, who drank the bitter cup of suffering for us, dying in our place to forgive our sins and fill us with faith and trust in Him.

So grab a cup of your favorite cup of coffee or tea, settle into a comfy chair with Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply and refresh your soul through God’s Word. Better yet, invite a few friends to join you!

Find Sip, Savor and Drink Deeply at CPH and Amazon.

Next step: As you enjoy your next cup of coffee or tea, thank God that His Word refreshes our thirsty souls.

Deb BurmaDeb Burma has a passion for sharing Christ’s redeeming love in a creative, engaging style, touching the hearts of women, meeting them in the moments of their everyday lives, and engaging them in God’s Word. She travels extensively as a leader and guest speaker for women’s retreats, conferences, and other ministry events. Deb is a women’s ministry leader and youth ministry volunteer. She is the author of Bible studies, retreat kits, devotionals, and Christian-living books, including her most recent titles, Living a Chocolate Life and Raising Godly Girls. Find out more about Deb at her website, Fragrant Offerings.

Book Review: Forgiveness

Unforgiveness drags joy behind the shed and beats it senseless

Human nature is not inclined to forgive. Instead, it is much more likely to grasp onto grudges and nurse bitterness.

In Forgiveness: Received from God – Extended to Others, author Donna Pyle tells about her own fight with unforgiveness when her husband walked out on their marriage. She responded to her pain by hunting up every passage in Scripture about forgiveness she could find. Now she shares her findings with others, helping all find the freeing path of forgiveness. She walks her readers through the Bible to discover exactly what is forgiveness.

She begins to explain forgiveness by telling what it is not. This dispelling of myths is especially helpful to those struggling to let go of hurt. Forgiveness is not about forgetting and it’s not excusing a sin or a crime. It’s not artificial nonchalance–pretending the actions of others were not painful. Forgiveness is not even about the offender–who may or may not be aware of the offense. Forgiveness is about freeing ourselves from the prison of hate and anger.

The study is laid out in Eight Lessons with each Lesson having five days of readings, questions that lead the reader to Scripture, and opportunities to reflect on the Lesson and apply it personally. I especially appreciated the reflection exercises. The questions help the reader to uncover deeply buried grudges and bitterness. Unearthing them and receiving God’s strength to forgive leads to the freedom only found in grace.

The book could be used for personal study, but would also be useful for groups. Each lesson has suggestions for discussion, corporate prayer, and connecting with group members.

Donna Pyle writes:

Forgiveness is a humanizing, dignifying, redemptive act of God.

Forgiveness frees us from the narrative of hate.

Forgiveness liberates us from our prisons.

Forgiveness moves us toward others to extend the Gospel of grace.

That is why forgiveness is not optional.

Forgiveness: Received from God — Extended to Others is available here and here.

home-donna-pyleA soul-stirring, engaging speaker, author, Bible teacher, and worship leader, Donna Pyle has a passion for studying and teaching God’s Word. Her clear, down-to-earth style encourages women of all ages to wholeheartedly love, serve, and live for Jesus Christ.

Since launching Artesian Ministries in 2007, Donna has scratched out over 20 Bible studies and enjoys the incredible privilege of traveling throughout the U.S. and internationally to speak and teach where the Lord opens doors.

Donna writes regularly on her blog, Hydrated Living, as she seeks to find beauty in the quiet and sacred in the chaos, treasuring that this path is a holy experience planned by God before the beginning of time.

A native, life-long Texan, Donna fuels her incredible journey with the Word, coffee, chocolate, family, friends and worship.

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Practicing Lent: Meditating on Bible Stories

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This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

My favorite novels make my feel as if I’m part of the story. Through the author’s skillful use of word pictures, I can feel the sunshine warm my face or hear the burglar rattle the door. I can see the moon’s reflection on the lake or taste the buttery frosting on a cupcake. I can laugh at the character’s mishaps and cry with her in her pain.

God’s Word is a treasure trove of beautiful stories. Of course, the wonderful thing is that all these stories are true.

Yet Bible stories do have something in common with great novels: they tug at our hearts.

Jesus was the consummate story-teller. In just a few words He helped his listeners envision a forlorn sheep on a bleak hillside or an estranged son returning to his loving father’s arms.

One of my favorite ways to contemplate Scripture is to meditate on Bible stories–especially Gospel stories. Because I’ve known these stories ever since I was old enough to sit on a tiny chair and listen to a Sunday School teacher with a flannelgraph, it’s easy for me to gloss over these well-known accounts and miss their richness. But when I slow down and contemplate them, I notice things I’ve missed before. Jesus helps me see where I am in the story and teaches me truth for my life.

Martin Luther wrote about this way of meditating. He recommended that when we read a Gospel story, we see ourselves as the person coming to Jesus or the one being brought to Him.

When you see how he (Jesus) works, however, and he helps everyone to whom he comes or who is brought to him, then rest assured that faith is accomplishing this in you and that he is offering your soul exactly the same sort of help and favor through the Gospels…Christ is yours, presented to you as a gift. [Grace Upon Grace (p. 102), by John Kleinig]

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Meditating on Bible Stories

To meditate on a Bible story:

  1. Read the text.
  2. Close your eyes and use your five senses to imagine yourself in the story. What might have you seen? smelled? felt? heard? tasted?
  3. Picture yourself as one of the characters of the story. How would you have responded to what is happening? What thoughts would have gone through your mind? What emotions would have bubbled up?
  4. Apply the story to your life in the present. What is the story teaching you about Jesus? How is God wanting you to respond?

John Kleinig, in his excellent book, Grace Upon Grace tells that Luther emphasized two principles in this type of Scripture meditation. One: We are to meditate on the story as the Good News of Christ. Don’t just see the story as a call to obedience. As you meditate on the Gospel story, keep your eyes on Jesus–the giver of grace. Two: Meditate on the story in faith. This is not simply an intellectual exercise; it is a means to grow in trust in our Savior. God’s Word is living and active and works in our hearts to produce faith.

Lenten Meditation

The discipline of meditating on Gospel stories can be especially meaningful during Holy Week. Personally, I want to take the time to “watch” Jesus parade through the streets of Jerusalem. I want to imagine Christ stooping to wash my dusty feet. I want to feel the horror when Jesus announces that one of my colleagues is a traitor. I want to be present in the hush of the Garden of Gethsemane.

Although it might be painful, I want to fully appreciate Christ’s sacrifice for me by meditating on the account of the cross. And I want to relive the joy of the empty tomb and hear the angel say, “He is not here. He is risen!”

 Let’s all take time this week to meditate on the accounts leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through God’s powerful Word, the Holy Spirit will lead us to a deeper appreciation of the Father’s love, the Son’s sacrifice, and the Spirit’s comfort.

God’s Word is more than a novel that takes us to times and places we cannot go. It has life-giving power.

Next step: Click here to access a resource that outlines how to meditate on a Bible story and lists Scripture references of stories relevant to Holy Week. Over the next five days spend some time each day meditating on and receiving grace from God’s Word.

204196 - Copy (2)If you would like more information about Spiritual Disciplines, check out my Bible study book: Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal. It is a great way to find rest for your souls. This book can be used for personal or group study. More information here and here.

Don’t Miss the Bible Study Expo!

Learn About the Bible StudyExpo!

If you love to study God’s Word get ready for a treat! If you lead a women’s ministry or Bible study don’t miss this!

The Bible Study Expo!

It’s happening online this Friday, March 31st. This annual free event is hosted by Marnie Swedberg.  From 2-5 pm Marnie will interview 12 different Bible study authors and highlight their books. Every fifteen minutes she will talk with a different author. So you’re sure to get new ideas for the Bible study groups you lead and for your personal Bible study.

The list of authors includes Deb Potts, Suzanne Eller, Kristi Grigsby, Kathy Howard, Janet McHenry, Lindsey Bell, Shannon Popkin, Cathy McIntosh, Sherry Poundstone, Corey Brown, Liz Curtis Higgs, and one of my favorite authors–Sharon Jaynes. Find out when they’re speaking here. Don’t worry if you can’t listen to the whole Expo. Tune in when you can and also get a chance to win prizes!

Everything you need to know about connecting to the Expo is right here.

In the meantime, Sharon Jaynes was kind enough to share an excerpt from her book that includes a companion Bible study in the back of the book. Here is a sample of Take Hold of the Faith You Long For:

I was alone, or at least I felt that way. Women huddled in happy clusters chatting about first one thing and then another. Some propped babies on their hips. Others clutched Bibles in their hands.

Most wore smiles on their faces. I wore one too. But it wasn’t a reflection of what was in my heart. The upturned lips were simply the camouflage I wore to blend in—to avoid being found out.

That I wasn’t really all that I was cracked up to be.

What I really wanted to do was run and hide. On the outside I was a well-put-together church mom with cute shoes and snappy jeans, but on the inside I was a little girl cowering in the far recesses of the playground hoping no one would notice me.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Why don’t I feel the joy these other women feel? What holds me back from experiencing the confidence and assurance they seem to experience?

Why do I continue to act like the same old me, struggle with the same negative emotions, and wrestle with the same old sins?

I wonder if you’ve ever felt that way.

The problem was I was stuck. Yes, I had professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I knew I was going to heaven when I left this earth.

But I had a niggling feeling He meant something more than heaven when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Have you ever watched a circus performer on a flying trapeze? The aerialist swings out, swings back, and then usually on the peak of the third swing he takes hold of another bar or performer.

That’s when the fun begins as backflips, somersaults, and triples twists wow the crowd.

But what if, when the trapeze artist took hold of the second bar, he refused to let go of the first?

He would be left hanging in the middle. Stuck. That would not be the greatest show on earth.

And that’s where many of us spend our lives…stuck…dangling over “life to the full” but never quite letting go of what holds us hostage to a mediocre “less than” faith.

I know it’s where I spent many years…until God challenged me to take hold of the truth and make it mine.

Her name was Mary Marshall Young–and older, wiser woman in my church.

One day she challenged me to learn about my true identity in Christ.

Then she did something even harder…she challenged me to believe it…to take hold of it and make it mine.

And that made all the difference.

Paul wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

And in order to take hold and make our own everything that Christ has taken hold of for us and placed in us, we need to let go of everything that keeps us from doing so.

If we would grasp and make our own what Jesus has already done for us, and what He had deposited in us, our lives would look very different than the tepid faith of the average churchgoer.

God’s power, provision, and purposes are for “who so ever will” (Mark 8:34 KJV).

Will what? Will let go of all that holds you back from experiencing the abundant life of the adventurous faith and take hold of truth that makes it so.

So here’s what I’m challenging you to do:

• Let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity as a child of God.

• Let go of the scarcity mentality that says that you’re not enough and take hold of God’s abundant promises that say you have everything you need.

• Let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.

• Let go of shame-filled condemnation and take hold of grace-filled acceptance.

• Let go of weak-kneed worry and take hold of sure-footed confidence.

• Let go of comparison to others and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.

• Let go of debilitating discouragement and take hold of your next assignment.

• Let go of timid reluctance and take hold of bold believing.

I know that’s a tall order, but I know you can do it. I’m here to help you get there.

It’s what God wants for all of us.

So today, let’s ask ourselves if we’re hanging on to something that God is calling us to let go of. Shame? Resentment? Condemnation? Unbelief? Ingratitude? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? A false sense of who we are?

If He brings something to mind, let it go, move forward, and live bold.

The faith you’ve always longed for is just a decision away.

 

Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker and author of 20 books, including her latest, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold. She is past Vice President and Radio Co-host for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and co-founder/devotion writer for Girlfriends in God. To learn more visit www.sharonjaynes.com or www.takeholdthebook.com.

 

 

Learn about the

Practicing Lent: SACRED Reading

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This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

One of the most memorable meals I ever had happened in Brussels, Belgium. My family and I were on a European tour–a bargain bus trip. One of those if-it’s-Tuesday-this-must-be-Germany tours.

We arrived in Brussels around 5:00 pm and were informed that we only had the evening to explore the city. Early in the morning, the bus would be on its way to Luxembourg. So my husband and two teenage kids strolled from our hotel to the city center. We had every intention of finding a nice restaurant for dinner, but then I saw it–the famous Leonidas Belgian Chocolate shop. I couldn’t resist a peek inside, thinking I would come back after dinner for dessert. But inside, I saw the hundreds of chocolate possibilities and had the bright idea: Why don’t we have chocolate for dinner?

So we all picked out a bag of our favorites and went out into the city square to savor our chocolate treasures. Each bite was so delicious I wanted it to last forever. I let each morsel melt until it was gone, enjoying each chocolatey moment.

SACRED Reading

SACRED Reading is a way to savor God’s Word like I reveled in those chocolates. It helps us to meditate on Scripture. As we savor God’s Word, it melts into our hearts and the Holy Spirit transforms us.

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To focus on Scripture in this way, I choose a short passage of no more than eight verses and use the word SACRED to guide the process:

Silence your thoughts. Begin by quieting your spirit. Call on the name of the triune God and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your time of listening. At first, your wandering thoughts may seem to crowd out any quietness, but simply bring your thoughts back to the Father and eventually the cacophony in your head will die down.

Attend to the passage. Read your chosen verses. Ideally, you will read the passage out loud. Read slowly. Pause when it seems that God is drawing your attention to a particular sentence or phrase. Let the words resonate in your heart.

Contemplate the Word. Meditate on the passage, especially on any words the Holy Spirit seems to be speaking directly to you today. Do not hurry this time. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring up any feelings, doubts, or fears buried deep in the recesses of your soul. Thoroughly explore your soul for your most genuine response to these words of God.

Respond to the text. After you have taken time to listen, speak. That is, pray, pouring out your heart to God in response to what He has just spoken to you. If the passage inspired joy, offer thanks. If it brought a sense of conviction, confess.

Exhale and rest. Read the text again and rest in the love of God. Simply wait with the Lord who loves you more than you can know.

Dwell in the Word. As you come out of this restful state, ask the Spirit, “What truth can I carry into my day?” Think about a truth or promise you received that will help you live out God’s Word.

SACRED Reading helps me slow down long enough to hear God’s voice. It’s the difference between gulping down a sandwich and letting every bit of a Belgian chocolate melt on my tongue.

Savor and Receive

Let’s savor God’s Word. God longs to speak to us. In His Word we receive His wisdom and instruction for our everyday lives. We receive His unfailing love and His transcendent joy. We receive peace and stillness for our souls.

As we savor God's Word, it melts into our hearts and the Holy Spirit transforms us. Click To Tweet

Next step: Try SACRED Reading for the next five days. Click here to access a resource that outlines the SACRED Reading process and lists some Scriptures that you could meditate on this week.

204196 - Copy (2)This post is adapted from my Bible study book: Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal (CPH). This book examines Spiritual Disciplines as a way to develop intimacy with the Savior and to care for our souls. It is available here and here.

Book Review: Live Full, Walk Free

We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives

Girls, you know I love Bible study. So when I got a copy of my friend Cindy Bultema’s new Bible study, Live Full, Walk Free, I was excited!

Live Full, Walk Free is a study of 1 Corinthians, the New Testament book written by the apostle Paul. During Paul’s time, the city of Corinth was the Sin City of its day–a culture known for its immorality and idolatry. That might make you think: Not so different from the culture we live in.

So true.

Paul lived and worked with the Corinthians for eighteen months. After he had moved on to another city, he wrote 1 Corinthians as a letter to encourage the Christians there to not to give in to the culture. He wanted them to live full and walk free.

In her study Cindy sets out to answer the question, “How do we live full lives in a culture polluted through and through?” Through a detailed study of 1 Corinthians, she helps us discover God’s answer.

Cindy explores the historical and cultural background of Corinth. She examines the challenges these people had and how they apply to our lives. She challenges us to live victoriously in Christ, demolishing the lies Satan throws at us.

But don’t think this is a dry, academic study. Through Cindy’s personal stories and light-hearted humor, you’ll find yourself having fun even while you are learning eternal truths.

One of my favorite study sections was a chart where readers examine what the world says and what God’s Word says on topics like beauty, money, and self-worth. This exercise challenges us to see where we have allowed the world’s perspective cloud the freeing truth we have in Christ.

If you’re looking for an uplifting study that gives you hope in a sin-stained world, try Live Full, Walk Free.

Listen to Cindy’s words:

We have all we need to live fully and walk freely in this time and place. We have all we need, here and now, to be part of the solution and not the problem. We have all we need to cultivate holy, liberated lives, even in Sin City.

Check out the Live Full, Walk Free Bible study and the accompanying six-session DVD!

Cindy_HeadshotCindy Bultema describes herself as wife, mom, women’s speaker, author, hot lunch volunteer, and overcomer.

Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband John and their children Jake, Benjamin, Amanda and Sarah.  When she’s not running a full household, you can find Cindy walking her adventurous dog Rocky, attending one of their children’s sports events, meeting friends for coffee, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.

Find out more about Cindy at her website.

Find Live Full, Walk Free here.

 

live full, walk free