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One Simple Way to Engage with Scripture (& A Color-Me Download!)

Photo by Rachel Lynette French on Unsplash

 

Reading Scripture is valuable. Engaging Scripture changes a person.

I know because it changed me. A babe in Christ at the age of twenty-seven, I only knew the basic Bible stories: Jesus on the cross, Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, and The Ten Commandments, thanks to Charlton Heston.

Granted, those basic stories are some of the most beautiful, but God used Precept Ministries and Kay Chandler, the local {and amazing!} instructor, to show me how to engage Scripture for myself.

What I’m sharing today isn’t a Precept method. It’s simply an exercise I stumbled upon while singing “Blessed Assurance” in church. Words describing my own story stood up when I sat down to put pen to paper. This moment is recorded in my post, This is My Story. What’s Yours?

 

Psalm 139:23, 24 became my Blessed Assurance.

 

Two verses begin most of my mornings:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24

 

My searchlight is poorly lit, powered by emotions, a selfish heart, and limited vision.

 

So I pull out my archaic sheet of paper, grab my go-to pen, and write out these two verses in sections. Under each one, I quickly jot down words and phrases that come to mind. There’s no right or wrong way:

 

Search me, O God

as a shepherd searches for a lost sheep, search my heart // penetrate my soul with Your piercing light // in every crevice that seeks to hide my sin // for every particle of pride // for slivers of selfishness // for bits of bitterness waiting to take root in my unsuspecting heart // for sin in every form⏤search me, Father // I want to know what You see // to repent // to turn away // to walk in the freedom You’ve provided.

 

and know my heart

the one that sin soiled // and Jesus cleansed // Knower of my heart // the good // the sinful // the well-meaning but often misunderstood // You created me // You formed me // You know me better than I know myself // I trust Your findings // comfort // peace // joy // confession //

 

test me and know my anxious thoughts

worries masked as concerns // misplaced trust // worries of what people think // or might think // driving // riding // out of control // future // virus // comparisons // feeling invisible // a good wife // grammy // daughter // friend //

 

See if there is any offensive way in me,

any way // sin // pride // bitterness // unforgiveness // grudges // lack of self-discipline // quick words // negativity //

 

and lead me in the way everlasting.

an eternity // my destination // my home // lead the way, Lord // give me wisdom // discernment // choices that point to glory, not to self // help me follow well // quick obedience // loving others selflessly // embracing community //

 

Now, I prayerfully consider the words spilled onto the page, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and the hand writes.

Search my heart: I’m well aware of how easily I can deceive myself and its cost. So, whatever He finds, I want to know it. God already knows my sins and loves me still. Nothing catches Him off guard. His spotlight is welcomed⏤not because I’m confident of what He won’t find⏤but rather, of what He will.

Test me and know my anxious thoughts: I’m not a fan of asking to be tested/tried but this examination goes hand-in-hand with the search. Like the Christmas gift hidden behind the tree and tucked beneath the others, anxiety also has a way of hiding in inconspicuous places.

See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting: One last call for any hint of sin in the heart and a point in the right direction.

 

Psalm 139:23, 24 holds a key that unlocks what we truly believe about our heavenly Father.

For those willing to turn the key, the power and freedom of the gospel await.

 

Maybe the richness of this simple exercise isn’t found in the words we write down, but instead, the heart that is reflected through them.

 

Would you like to try this exercise using Psalm 139? I created a downloadable, easy-to-print (and dare I say colorable?) page. Just click here!

 

 

 

Which section of these verses do you find the easiest to pray, and/or the hardest?

 

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The Scent of A Scripture-Grounded Whisper

by Cathy Baker

 

One thing I’ve learned about the whispers of God this month is that they cannot be manufactured, only experienced. 

So when I felt I was coming up empty for a post, I moved outside for inspiration. 

I inhaled deeply while walking past the scrawny, but intoxicating, Winter Honeysuckle shrub. I thought of my uncle Jim who, in his final months this side of heaven, loved when I would snap off a branch and bring it to him.

I paused at the Red Buckeye Tree nearby, seeing it not so much for what it is now but what it will become in just a few weeks. Panicles of red flowers will greet our giddy ‘hood of hummingbirds very soon!

Winter Honeysuckle Bush

And then there were the white/red striped camellias and daffodils. Both reminded me of my grandmothers. Grandmother loved ole-timey jonquils and Ma-Ma loved the camellias. I grow both as a nod to them and the beauty they brought—and continue to bring—to my life, even though they’ve been in heaven for years. 

As I made my way back to the house, I recalled Isaiah 61:11.

Red Buckeye Tree Preparing to Bud
Daffodil and Camellias from my yard

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to
grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up
before all nations.

Just as His whispers cannot be manufactured nor can His blessings. He uses the picture of a growing garden to show that He alone is able to miraculously engineer a simple seed to bring forth life from the soil. All we can do is make the environment right for the seed to grow to maturity. 

Similarly, we can’t force or make God’s blessings happen but the heart can provide the right environment for His blessings to grow in and through our lives. 

His whispers are always grounded in Scripture. 

There it was, God’s whisper. It’s the beauty of the Word, for if we’re willing to listen, He is always willing to speak.

All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Psalm 66:4

When Encouragement Travels in a Tea Cup

by Cathy Baker

Tea and encouragement. I prayed God would weave them together for a greater purpose. I’d hosted tea parties in my home but sensed God shaping my desire into something even more personal.

One day, while browsing an antique shop in Myrtle Beach, SC, I spotted the answer to my prayer sitting on a shelf, painted in delicate blue/yellow stripes and shaped like a petite one-cup tea-pot. With it, all the other details flowed into place. 

When we returned from the beach, I wasted no time assembling a “Barnie Basket,” Barnie, aka Barnabas,”Son of Encouragement,” from Acts 4:36. 

Each week, I’d pray for God to give me the name of a woman in our church in need of encouragement. On Sunday mornings, I would ask her to meet me at my car after the service. There, I would hand off the basket and point to the enclosed note card for all the details.

In the note, I shared how God had laid her on my heart and that inside the basket was an opportunity for one-on-one tea time with her heavenly Father.

In the basket, I placed: 

  • One answer-to-prayer teapot
  • One teacup, along with an individually-wrapped teabag
  • A journal and pen (the recipient was encouraged to journal about her time with the Lord and to read the entries made by previous recipients.)
  • Homemade cookies, packaged biscotti, or tea cookies
  • A handwritten note
  • Mini-scripture notes written specifically for the recipient

She need only place the teacup, teapot, and journal in the basket to return to me the following Sunday morning. 
 
That was almost twenty years ago.

Five years ago, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. I desperately wanted to lift her spirits as she would soon face a double mastectomy. Then I remembered that this friend was one of the first recipients of the Barnie Basket all those years ago. I searched my shelves for the journal that had traveled home with so many friends and turned to the page of her entry. In it, she shared in detail how she trusted God above all else — no matter what. I carefully removed the page from the journal and framed it for her, presenting it to her a few days before her surgery. It was a special moment, indeed. 

We never know, do we? But God does. 

Tea Maker
Steeped in His Word
Infused with His love
Sweetened by His Spirit
Stirred from above.
-Patsy Clairmont

Living Resolutions

Resolutions tend to revolve around my desire to improve certain areas of my life, resolving to do this or that better…or at all.

I’m actually quite successful in fulfilling my resolutions — that is, until around noon January 1st, when my bubble inflated with good intentions bursts, thanks to a prick of reality.

In 2012, scripture verses will be the focus rather than resolutions—particular verses for life, writing (see below), and struggles. The verses will change throughout the year, but I prefer a fistful of verses fueled by the Spirit than a dozen “I will’s” of my own.

  • Seek first His kingdom. Mt. 6:33 My “job” is to focus heavenward, releasing all the details to God. He has those covered.
  • The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23 Every detail? Live in awe of this most remarkable truth.
  • He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19 Stop limiting God. Too often I settle for cramped quarters.
  • Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Romans 12:11 If I want God to bless my work, I must first do the work. Stop hoping and start typing.

How about you?

-photo courtesy of Ligonier Ministries

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