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Posts Tagged ‘Bible study’

The soil, still wearing winter’s crust, almost taunts the farmer–daring him to unleash the toothed blade.

Greeting the day before the moon is veiled beyond earth’s ridge, the man drops the tool behind his machine and tills narrow ditches in a quilt-like pattern–overturning dead, useless roots. The untouched soil lifts its face toward the sun, revealing the beauty of burnt sienna enriched by a year of rest.

He releases the promise of a new crop to nestle among the folds of freshly turned ground; miniature capsules of gold contained until nature beckons life from within.

These are the fallow crops dotting the rugged terrain of the Montana prairie. Cared for and tended, they will yield shimmering crops of wheat. But those who refuse to allow the land a season of Sabbath see a diminished return season by season. The ground, stripped of its nutrients, fails to produce in abundance.

Others allow wild grasses to infest their fields. Only distinguished from wheat at maturity, rye mimics the favored crop of the eastern plains. Its stalk bends playfully in the hot, western wind as if jeering at passersby. Who will bend low enough to pluck me from my roots?

But there is no other way to remove the weed before its imposter seedlings spill from their casings and contaminate next year’s yield. The farmer must grasp the plant at its base; his fingers soiled by labor.

In the same way, the problems and distractions of this world can easily choke out our own spiritual growth.

When I forget to rest in Him, my spirit is as dry and dusty as over-farmed acreage. I thirst but there is no relief and the high winds that race across the landscape toss me around as easily as Russian thistle.

If I fail to cultivate the soil of my heart with worship and Biblical study, the unwelcome invaders of worry, fear, and anxiety mark my life. Only in allowing the Master gardener daily access to my inner self am I rid of what must remain rooted out.

Can you relate? Do you, too, need the loving hand of the winnowing Father to separate the plenty from the imperfect?

Some days, the unwelcome weeds stand tall–their presence dripping with possibility and the potential to infect my thoughts and actions. To invade the way I interact with my husband and children. To send anti-truth tendrils into the work God has for me to do.

At times I remain hard and unchanged, unwilling to invite the freshness of God’s word to penetrate my heart and foster newness within. But like a well-maintained field that is harrowed and then remains fallow for a time, the Planter remains faithful to His work.

The seeds are sown. The noxious plants removed. And slowly, meticulously I am being readied for the day of harvest.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often linkup with the following wonderful bloggers.

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

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_...whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” - Copy

The throbbing is real but intangible. Painful but unseen. It’s the shattering of a heart already broken experiencing one more journey in the wasteland. Have you been in this place before? In the same sort of circumstance where your dreams are dashed by reality and hope drifts away like dust in the wind? Are you searching for solace, but coming up dry? Does it seem as if even God is unreachable in this desert place?

The Wasteland

The wasteland is almost uninhabitable; barren of comfort, it lacks nourishment and sanctuary is difficult to find. Even your spirit seeks aimlessly, searching for rest but finding none; lying in the pale sand only to rise up again up with the residue of silt  clinging to it-a a reminder of your unchartered journey.

Some of you may be in a spiritual wasteland or on its horizon; others remember trials you’ve recently experienced-difficult circumstances that led you deep into the arid places of the heart bereft of comfortable routines or reassuring normalcy.

If you’re passing through the refining heat of the desert, there is comfort in knowing those of great faith have also journeyed along the same gritty path.

A King in the Wasteland

Imagine being a man of great wealth and power only to discover your oldest son has betrayed you. Charming and deceitful, he’s convinced some of your closest advisors to turn against you and, as a result, you lose everything-your position, possessions, and prestige.

Discovering a plot against your life, you gather a few trusted men and escape to the wilderness. Nourishment is scarce and the enemy, your son, haunts every weary step. Battle weary, you’ve managed many losses and setbacks. Undeserved hatred. Depression. The death of a beloved child. This is a new heartache…the betrayal of a precious son and separation from your place of holy Hope. The one sanctuary of your life.

While encountering his own wasteland, the shepherd-turned-king cried out to God and scribed his words into song as a testimony for us.

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.                                                                                                                                   But those who seek my life, to destroy it,

Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped. (Psalm 63-NKJV)

 

Are you struck by David’s description of His parched soul? By the yearning he has to be in God’s presence? In these few, beautiful verses the believer reveals a path to joy in the most difficult of situations.

Focus on God’s Character

When I’m surrounded by the brokenness of the wasteland, I often fail to notice the stark beauty of the desert stars shining in an inky sky or the shifting shadows along the face of the rocky terrain. I’m consumed by the situation and begin to compare my unfair circumstances to other believers. Why this issue? Hadn’t I prayed enough? Why does God allow this suffering? The questions keep coming, but there aren’t any satisfactory answers.

Perhaps David felt the same way, but he didn’t resort to comparing or even complaining. Instead, he turned his thoughts heavenward and called out to the one who is unbound by circumstances. David cried, “O Elohim (the one true God), You are my El (the mighty One).”

Neither the barren surroundings nor the lack of protection garnered the king’s attention. God’s character was his focal point. When we find ourselves confused or fearful in unwelcome circumstances, our strength comes from the presence of the all-knowing, ever-loving El Elohim. Removing our eyes from the temporary and redirecting them to our Eternal horizon is the first step in rediscovering hope in difficulty.

Quench Your Thirst

As king, David knew the pleasures of fine feasts, silken fabrics, and celebrations. He was accustomed to being addressed with respect and surrounded by family members and doting servants. Now, David and a few loyal men were rushing from one cave to another without the simplest of comforts, and when crying out for his most basic needs what did he request?

More of God.

Despite his clear physical needs, David’s spiritual needs were far more acute. Body and soul, he longed to commune with God. Lamenting at being separated from the holiness of the sanctuary where he’d witnessed God’s glory, earth’s mighty king bowed before heaven’s King in humble submission asking that the Lord alone would quench his thirst.

What does your soul thirst after, friend? Is it His word? Worship? Communing with Him?  Go to Him for we need never thirst. Jesus said, “whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again”. (John 4:14 ESV)

Remember and Rejoice

Even though David is fleeing for his life, he recalls all of the good God has done for him. He recounts the joys, victories, and protection. Maybe David thinks of his best friend Jonathan, the rags-to-riches story of shepherd boy to king, the unexpected win of teenaged-boy over a ruthless warrior, or the birth of his son, Solomon.

Praise flows like a river from David’s mouth. As he thanks the Lord, gratitude wells up from inside his spirit and joy spills out.

Remembering God’s goodness leads to rejoicing. And don’t we all need more rejoicing-especially when we’re walking through the wasteland?

 

Leaving the Wasteland

Eventually, David was rescued from the wasteland. You will be, too, friend. Our Father promises to be your shield and protector, your rescuer and redeemer. He will quench your thirst and lead you by still waters.

Like David, we can cling to our Lord with steady perseverance and take refuge from any challenge in El Elohim-the one true God, the strong and mighty One.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and Michele, Kingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve read several books in the last couple of months and have been looking forward to sharing them with you. While the list of books I hope to read continues to grow, I never seem to find quite as much time as I’d like to indulge my favorite habit. Can anyone relate?

 

Platinum Faith: Live Brilliant, Be Resilient, and Know Your Worth written by power team, Michelle Medlock Adams and Bethany Jett, grabbed me from the first paragraph. Heart-touching stories written for every woman who ever wondered if she’s worth the fight or believed Jesus might have died for her pretty, put-together-best-friend but really didn’t intend to forgive her hot mess of a life is the book you want to buy now if you need Biblical encouragement from two woman who wrap you in a hug with authenticity. Discussion questions that work well for personal reflection or small-group study are included at the end of each chapter.

Sharing their thoughts throughout the book, Bethany and Michelle alternate as the voice behind each chapter. Sidebars highlighting helpful insights are also included.

This book is Biblically sound and rich with encouragement. It’s a wonderful book and worth buying a few extra copies to share with the women in your life. I cannot wait for these two ladies to collaborate on their next book.

 

 

Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You never Imagined Looking by Anjuli Paschall is a prose-like narrative of different events throughout Anjuli’s life. She addresses everything from self-hatred and loneliness to the excruciating pain of spiritual brokenness and the simple, mundane moments of marriage and family life.

Crafting each chapter like a scene in a play, Paschall draws back the curtain and invites readers to examine the messy areas of her heart. It is in the mire she discovered God’s grace and, ultimately, where the reader will find Him-if one is willing.

If you’re looking for practical tips or action steps, this isn’t the book for you. However, if you enjoy beautiful, lilting prose and want to sit across the table from your best girlfriend discussing vulnerable, raw moments of living for Christ Stay may be the book you’ve been waiting to read.

Available for pre-order. https://www.amazon.com/Stay-Discovering-Freedom-Wholeness-Imagined

 

 

I chose to read Eyewitness to Crucifixion: The Romans, the Cross, and the Sacrifice of Jesus by Stephen Miller because my husband have planned to visit Rome this summer. While our plans may change depending upon the current state of the coronavirus, I did enjoy reading this book. While I felt Mr. Miller’s writing was dry and sometimes disjointed, his research was and supporting documents were topnotch. If you can overlook the writing and enjoy either art or western history, then you’ll be amazed by the research Miller must have done to piece together Eyewitness.

Although I don’t intend to read another of Miller’s books, I’ve passed the book along to my husband who earned an undergraduate degree in history. This might be a good fit for a seminarian or something to read with your teens at Easter as you consider Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

 

I’d love to know what books you’re reading right now. Add to my list! There can never be enough books tucked beneath my reading table.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend Fresh Market Fridays

 

 

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