Overcoming Bible Study Obstacles- Guest Post

I had a fellow writer friend ask about posting her newest blog that helps with Bible study and I jumped at the opportunity. As much as I’d love to claim that I’m the kind of in-the-Word gal as much as I should be, I’d be downright lying. Being in legit quiet time with God comes HARD for me. Its not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I’m lazy, self-centered, and generally am great at finding just about anything else I can complete before spending true quiet time. Ugh. It’s a <thing> for me for sure. I was even more excited to see that this post is heavily based on a writing conference that I attended with her and was a part of. It’s like this crazy, convicting, refreshing, challenging blast from my past. So, again, I was more than happy to oblige Leah in posting her writing. Without further ado, please enjoy! ~Bethany

A few weeks ago, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me some obstacles they faced when it came to studying the Bible.  They echoed some of the same challenges: the Bible is difficult to understand, where do you begin, and an inability to stay focused.  I understood the struggle all to well, until a couple of years ago.

In 2017, I attended conference for writers and speakers in Christian ministry.  A well-known Bible teacher organized this event and took us step by step through her time in prayer, in the Word, and writing.  Two take-aways the main speaker shared were: we had to be in God's Word if we wanted to share God's Word in our world. Also, as believers, we had to know God's Word because the world is constantly going to come against His Truth. If we don't know His Truth we will be deceived.

The speaker continued to give us the tools to create an authentic time of studying the Bible. It isn't magic. It isn't something some believers have, and others don't. In the book of John, chapter 16, Jesus shares with the disciples in His final hours. He tells them He will be going away because if He leave, the Counselor (Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth) cannot come to them. "When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in to all the truth." (John 16:13) Jesus promises that when the Holy Spirit comes to them, they would finally understand. Their eyes would be opened to all Jesus had been teaching for the last three years.

God offers us the Holy Spirit too. When we become believers, the Holy Spirit becomes a part of us. When we open God's word, the Truth comes alive in ways we have never seen to the point that we cannot wait to discover all the Spirit has to show us. The Bible was written through the help of the Holy Spirit, so we need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for help in understanding the scripture. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you." (John 14:26)

Another speaker at the conference addressed which scripture to read.  She recommended reading the Bible in chunks. We tend to focus on a verse or two, which is fine, but to get a bigger picture and understanding of the passage, she said we should read the entire chapter or read through an entire book over the course of several days. To gain understanding, it helps to know who the author is, what perspective he has, as well as the time frame he is writing in. I had never read the Bible this way, but I was determined when I returned home from the conference.

I prayed next time I sat down to study, asking God (through the Holy Spirit) to reveal His truth to me. I asked for understanding.  God led me to study the life of Paul. I started in the book of Acts, reading about his life, his conversion, and ministry. By reading Paul's letters in the order he wrote them, I was able to compare them with details in Acts to see what he was experiencing when each letter was written. My eyes were opened to a greater understanding of Paul and the trials he experienced throughout his ministry. 

Two years later, on May 1st, I published a study on the book of John titled, “30 Days with John: A Journey with Jesus’ Most Beloved Disciple.”  Each day’s study begins with prayer, a full reading of the passage, and then questions to take you back through the scripture to aid in understanding.  The study is concise, yet in-depth, for those who get overwhelmed by longer studies and lack the available time to complete them.  I hope the study I have written will help facilitate going deeper into God's word. We don't have to be pastors or teachers, speakers or writers to love and understand the scripture. Its here for all of us. The more we know God’s Word, the closer we become in a relationship with Him.

There are always going to be obstacles when it comes to reading scripture because the enemy doesn't want you to do it! That is a topic for an entirely different blog post. Don't allow distractions and obstacles keep you from growing closer to God. If you need more focus, pray and ask God. The more He draws you into His Word, you will find those distractions and obstacles won't be a problem for you. I hope the suggestions I have given will encourage you and give you some confidence to reading and understanding God's word.

 

Leah Lively

“30 Days with John” is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble (online). 

 

Born and raised in Virginia, Leah’s faith journey began in a small church in a small town.  She is a wife to one and a mom to 4 along with a sweet female boxer.  Leah is motivated by 2 Corinthians 13:11 where Paul encourages the church in Corinth to “become mature and be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”  She wants believers to grow in their faith and discover a hunger for God’s word.  Leah’s genuine and authentic style of presenting the gospel lays a foundation for readers to learn more of God’s Truths. 

 

www.leahlivelyblog.com

Instagram: @leahlivelyblog

Praying God's Names- A Prayer of Commitment

To finish off our Praying God's Names series... let us end with a renewed focus on all that our great Father is. We have learned and praised Him, begged Him, honored Him over this summer. Now let us commit to Him as never before!  

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Praying God's Names- Jehovah Shammah

Jehovah Shammah The Lord is There

You, my Jehovah Shammah, are the I Am is There – but where is there? As I look to your word, You are revealed. The answer comes.

You are there in creation as you make everything from nothing. You are there in the garden with Adam & Eve. You are there in the Ark with Noah. You are there with Abraham in the Covenant you make with him. You are there with Sarah as she delivers Isaac, the child of promise. You are there with Moses as he leads the people from Egypt. You are there in the tabernacle in the desert. Your glory is visible to all. You are there with the judges who govern & guide. You are there with David, a man after your heart. You are there with the prophets as they warn of judgment. You treasure your people and the pain of their idolatry tears at your heart. You promise forgiveness if the people repent of their wickedness & idolatry and return to worship you. You are there in your temple in Jerusalem – and then you withdraw your presence from the earth. You keep silent for over 400 years.

But, you return!

You are there in Jesus as he walks among us, as he sacrifices himself for us, as he rises from the dead & ascends to heaven. You are there in the disciples and apostles as they spread the good news of life in Christ. You are there in me. Because I have faith and repent, you redeem me and I am yours. Your Holy Spirit lives within me. You are there at the last battle when Satan & all evil are defeated. You are there in the new heaven & new earth when we fellowship & worship face to face for all eternity.

Yes, you are Jehovah Shammah and you are Here.

By Karen Guthrie January 14, 2009

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Tsidkenu

Jehovah TsidkenuThe Lord Our Righteousness

The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. But you, oh Lord, have kept your covenant with us. Sacrifices offered cannot change the heart or make us acceptable to you, only you can do that.

You saw our failure and sent judgment. You are Jehovah Tsidkenu and in you there is hope. In your name are righteousness and the promise of grace.

In your grace we receive a new heart. We can be right with you. We can be more than good. We can be made straight. We can be what you say is right and good. We can live according to your standard.

You write your law in our heart, our innermost being. You forgive our wickedness and forget our sin. You remove our heart of stone and turn us to you. You give us a new heart and your Spirit to live within us. You enable us to walk with you, to follow your statutes and obey your laws.

You, Our Righteousness, gather us to you. You attend to us. You give us wise and able spiritual leaders. You take away all fear. You give us Jesus, who is the Righteous Branch, our Messiah. He is wisdom and justice. He will reign on the throne of David as King forever.

Though Jesus was made sin for us, by believing in Him we are made righteous in your sight. We are given a heart not made of stone. We have a new master. We are cleansed by believing in Him. By receiving Jesus, we are made right with you.

The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked but you are our Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord Our Righteousness.

By Karen Guthrie January 7, 2009

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Raah

He feeds me the bread of life. He gives me rest in Him. He leads me to quiet water so I may drink of Him until I thirst no more. He restores my soul. He guides me in righteousness. I follow His safe paths. His sheep am I.

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An Open Letter from God

Do not fear! I am with you. I love you and walk with you. I will never leave you. Situations and circumstances may change, but I will never change. Lean on me for strength... I will strengthen you for every task. For I go before you. I will not leave you. I know every desire of your heart. I want to be the  JOY of your life. I will satisfy your every need and desire in my perfect timing. I will anoint you. I will show you when to speak and when not to say a word. I love you. You are mine. The plans I have for you are great! Trust me. Every step you take I have already gone before you. Let my shoulder be the one you rest your head upon. Lean on me completely... Do not worry- just trust and pray. Tell me everything. I will guide you and give you wisdom. The things that frustrate you... Tell me and no one else. I will give you insight you need to find resolution. Know that I see you and haven't forgotten you... You are not alone. I am here, closer than you think... As close as your next breath. Do you really need me? Why do you wait so long to find me? Why do you run to others? Am I not faithful? I will be faithful to you... You must first look and want my faithfulness. I've placed you here for this time, this season, at this location. I know it's too much for you to do on your own... But I never intended you to do it on your own. Depend on me. I am here. Lean on me. I will do the work if you'll just be willing to let me. I want you to hear my voice as clearly as you hear me right now. I want to tell you things, but I need you to listen. I need you to find more time to be still before me. When you draw near to me- I will draw near to you... That's when you will hear and find me. You want to hear me... Are you listening? You want to see me... Where are you looking? You want to touch me... Are you reaching? You want to please me? Why do you look for others approval? Transition is coming and I have great plans for you. Yield to me and I will do great things through you and in each area you touch. Do not grow weary, but depend and lean on me. I love you and I am closest than you'll ever know. I know the burdens and worries in your heart. I'm taking care of them one at a time. I'm preparing you for what I've planned and my timing is perfect. You can trust me and put your guard down with me. I know what you really carry, let me carry it for you. Don't forget to dream. Continue to seek new visions, more creativity and ideas for what's ahead. I'm going to move and I am going to use you! I will give you favor and I will do mighty things. I've already started using you in ways you do not see! Trust me. Depend on me. Rest your head on my shoulders and I will carry you. I love you so deeply and I want you to remember that I am closer than you realize. I'm in your heart. I know your insides and outs... I know you deeply, but I want you to know me in the same ways. I love you,

Abba

 

(given to me with permission to share by anonymous)

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Sabaoth

Jehovah SabaothI Am the Lord of Hosts

When I come to the end of my self, When I am at the end of my strength, When I need power for deliverance, Then I rest in You.

When no other way seems clear, When I see no other help, When I am at the end of my resources, Then I rest in You.

You are the One who Delivers. You are the Lord of Hosts.

I come to worship and offer the sacrifice of myself as I plead with You. I know no one else who can help me. I face impossible odds and no one believes I can do what you called me to do. I know you are my power and my strength.

I cannot rely on religion. I cannot depend on icons or symbols. I cannot trust my own strength if I want victory. I must come to you in righteousness.

You are the One who Delivers. You are the Lord of Hosts.

You are my righteousness. You are my deliverer. You are the judge of my enemies. You see my heart and save my soul.

You, Jehovah Sabaoth, are the One who Judges. You, Jehovah Sabaoth, are the One who Delivers. You, Jehovah Sabaoth, are the Lord of Hosts.

By Karen Guthrie December 17, 2008

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Shalom

Jehovah ShalomI Am Peace

True Peace cannot be found apart from You. My peace depends on my relationship with You. When I obey You, I have peace for peace comes as a blessing from You. I rest in You. You hold my future and my hope is in You. Peace comes when I focus on You, when I let go of worry & trust in You.

Your Word – the good, right & perfect way – brings peace. My thankful heart rejoices in You. You hear me & give me peace through Jesus. When I think on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, praiseworthy, when I dwell (which is to live or abide) on these things, peace comes from You.

You promised me the Prince of Peace who is Lord of Lords & King of Kings. Through Him I have peace with You. I have peace, no matter what my circumstances, because of You. It is of your very essence.

You have given me Your Peace, not what this world offers as peace, but peace to my soul when I rest in You.

You keep me in perfect peace when I focus on You. As I am filled with Your Spirit, You give me peace for you are my Jehovah Shalom. You are the Lord is Peace.

By Karen Guthrie December 12, 2008

The Five Letter Word That No One Wants to Talk About

I was at a coffee shop one night, enjoying the luxury of catching up on some adult conversation with a friend while our children were at home. I told her I was writing my first book, and being the supportive friend that she is, she asked eagerly, “What’s it about?” I answered, “Shame.” I was caught off-guard when her smile faded, her eyebrows crinkled into a look of concern. “Oh, Lindsay. Why? What’s wrong?” This was the first of several conversations with other people who responded similarly, as if they wondered, “What terrible thing happened to make you feel ashamed?”

Shame is the five letter word that no one wants to fess up to.

I had had no idea that shame was a problem for me until the Lord revealed it through scripture study. Then, as I studied the work of Brené Brown, I began to understand that though we may not like to admit it, we all experience shame (with the exception of sociopaths).

Shame is the fear of losing connection with others due to our perceived unworthiness. Guilt results from a discrepancy between our values and our behavior (i.e., “I’ve done a bad thing”) and motivates us to change. Shame is when I feel that I am a bad person and am unworthy of love. This feeling is so devastating that it is difficult to move from shame to a change in behavior. Our instinct is to cover up rather than lean into the pain of allowing our shame to be revealed. We use various coping strategies to protect ourselves when we feel ashamed, such as people pleasing, deceit, boasting, feigning apathy, defensiveness, withdrawing, and hustling for worthiness as we place our self-worth in accomplishments. When shame prevents us from dealing openly and honestly with sin, we can’t experience the abundant life God offers.

Hebrews 12:7-8, 10-11 says:

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. …but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Four truths from this passage can help us deal with shame in a healthy way.

1. God is good. This is so simple and overly familiar to seasoned believers, but many of us perceive God as waiting to catch us misbehaving so that He can retaliate. Verse 7 says that He is treating us as his children when He disciplines us. We need to know and believe, deep down, that nothing we can do will cause us to lose favor with the Lord once we belong to Him. All discipline from the Lord is for our good. When we struggle with this, we can ask God to reveal His goodness and we can study His character in scripture. He delights to reveal Himself to those who seek Him.

2. You are not the exception. Verse 8 says, “…and everyone undergoes discipline…” (emphasis added). One of the lies shame tells us is that we are the exception. Other people may experience God’s love and forgiveness, but shame tells us that we cannot or will not, that our sin is worse, our shame runs deeper. Shame does not want to be spoken, so one of the most effective ways to deal with it is to connect with someone you trust who will listen without judgment and say, “Me too.” When we connect with others who are open about their struggles, shame loses its power to isolate us.

3. If you want the inheritance, you have to have the discipline. Verse 8 also says, "If you are not disciplined…then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.” A true son or daughter has inheritance rights. When God reconciled us to Himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we (believers) became coheirs with Christ. We have an inheritance of abundant life that God desires us to experience here and now, but the way to accepting the inheritance comes through the refining chastening of the Lord.

4. Shame does not lead to righteousness and peace. Verse 11 says that though discipline is painful at the time, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Shame keeps us from taking an honest look at our sin and bringing it before the Lord. As we are refined through trials, God allows us to experience the painful process of having our sin exposed so that He can heal and forgive us. This process sanctifies us and moves us toward our inheritance of righteousness and peace.

Though shame is part of the human experience, we can learn to move more quickly to bringing our shame to Jesus for healing as we grow in faith and trust in His goodness.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

-Hebrews 4:15-16

After five years of teaching elementary school, Lindsay is now living her dream of being a stay-at-home mom to two lovely daughters, which is harder, less glamorous, and much better than she had imagined it would be. She teaches adult ESL and co-leads a Be the Bridge group for racial reconciliation. She is embarking on a new journey with the writing of her first book, which draws from her experiences with motherhood, pregnancy loss, and postpartum anxiety/depression. Her book-in-progress explores how shame plays into these struggles and offers Scripture-based insights into how to move beyond shame and into the abundant life Jesus desires for His children. She has a passion for creating safe spaces for women to share their stories and struggles and would love to hear from you! You can find her over at her blog, Rooted in Love: http://blog.lindsayoconnor.com

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Mekoddishkem

Jehovah – MekoddishkemI Am the One Who Sanctifies

You are a Holy God. There is only goodness in You. Sin cannot be in your presence. So, you made a way for me, sinful as I am, to come before you. You set me apart from the world when you saved me. You made me different from the inside out. Now I come to you through grace; the grace of the cross.

Before the cross, the priests were continually offering sacrifices to atone for the people. So many laws, rules & regulations no one could live up to all of them. The Law shows me my failure, my sin. Jesus cleanses me & makes me holy. Jesus is the final sacrifice, the final atonement. Because He is at Your right hand, I am able to approach you freely. I can worship you. I can ask of you. You freely give.

You gave the Israelites the Sabbath as a reminder that they are your chosen possession & are to be set apart from the world. The Sabbath is the reminder that it is You who make us holy. You created the Sabbath for our good. You instructed the Israelites to keep it. Do no work; reflect on the greatness & goodness of God. It is a holy day to be used as rest for the body & refreshment for the soul.

How do I “keep Sabbath”? How do I make it a holy time & not just a day to do nothing? How do I make it a day spent focused on God? How do I focus on His love for me & for the world? I am not under the Law, but still need redemption. Is this law still valid for today? Didn’t Jesus fulfill the Law & do away with legalism? We worship in Spirit, but the Bible calls this an everlasting covenant. If we are “children of Abraham” are we required to keep our part of the covenant even though not physically a Jew?

How do I live a holy life? How do I live set apart? How do I remain a peculiar people? What do I do that shows who You are? I can do nothing on my own, in my own power or strength. All I can do is have faith in You, ask for forgiveness & plead the blood of Christ. You accept my plea & forgive. Through the blood I am sanctified for you are Jehovah – Mekoddishkem, the One Who Sanctifies.

Sabbath Rest for the body A day to remember God A day to worship

By Karen Guthrie December 4, 2008