By far the best decision I ever made in my teenage years was to spend time in the Word of God.
I grew up in a Christian home, by the grace of God, and my mother always made Bible time a first priority in our household. Being homeschooled, Bible lessons were the first task of every day.
However, I believe that it is necessary and extremely vital to every young person's life to learn how to develop good Bible study habits on their own. It's important to create a quiet time between just you and God to actually study His Word and learn more about Him.
You can never expect to grow in a relationship, unless you invest in that relationship. If you don't invest in your relationship with God, you will not grow to be more like Him.
With that being said, the question remains: How do you study the Bible on your own? What does true Bible study mean? And where can you get tools to study on your own?
To help answer these questions, I've put together a small list of tools to help you.
1. Blue Letter Bible. If you get nothing else out of this post, at least notice this. Check out Blue Letter Bible. Like seriously, just do it. I discovered Blue Letter Bible my last year participating in the National Bible Bee (more about that later), and it is incredible. Although I used it for my study during the competition, I have continued to use BLB since in my own study, especially since I downloaded their app on my iPhone. BLB has access to so many different resources, Greek/Hebrew words and definitions, commentaries, etc. Check them out.
2. Bible Study Tools. This website resource is a great help because it has devotionals, blogs, reading plans, study tools. You name it and you can probably find it on Bible Study Tools! I use this resource a lot when studying topics for my books/articles.
3. Sermon Audio. Sermons are a great way to enhance your Bible study and help with your comprehension of what you're learning. I use Sermon Audio a lot, because you can search on the website whatever topic you're studying and it will bring up every sermon they have on that topic. Super easy to use and super fun too!
4. Commentaries. Very similar to sermons, but commentaries are more for those who prefer to read instead of listen. I love commentaries and my favorites are from Warren Wiersbe and John MacArthur. You can check out your local Christian bookstore or search online to find their commentaries.
5. YouVersion Bible app. I love this app! If you have a smart phone or other electronic device and want a great Bible app, download YouVersion. You can read the Bible in your version preference and even highlight your favorite parts. They have a "verse of the day," and you can make picture art with the verses too. My favorite part about the app however are their reading plans from some of the most popular Christian authors today.
6. Get connected. This may not necessarily be an exact resource, but it is a tool that you need in your spiritual walk and as you grow in your Bible study. In order to succeed in your resolve to develop daily spiritual disciplines, you are going to need to be connected with others seeking the same goals. Join a Bible study from your church, get your friends together for ice cream and Bible discussion, join an online Bible study community. Do whatever works best for you, but make sure you get connected with others so you have that accountability to keep pressing on.
7. The National Bible Bee. Of course, you knew it was coming. Could you really get through a post on Bible study from Isabella Morganthal and not hear about this? ;) Participating in the Bible Bee was not only influential, but also monumental in my walk with God during my teenage years. If you are between the ages of 7-18, get involved with the Bible Bee next summer and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.
I stared at the email and felt my stomach drop.
Not again...I blinked back tears as I sank into the pillows on my bed. I had tried so hard, only to fail. Again.
I had just received a rejection email from a popular online blog/forum where I had submitted an article in hopes of getting published and growing my platform. It was my seventh rejection between a few different online platforms, and the rejection stung.
I've tried so hard. What am I doing wrong? I wondered to myself. In frustration, I sighed and whispered aloud, "Maybe you're just not meant for this after all."
But the truth is that, what I saw as a failure and rejection, is actually God's preparation for what comes next in my life.
And you too, friend.
That dream you think is a failure, and you're too afraid to try it again because you don't want to fail twice? Or that rejection you thought would shatter your heart if you were faced with it again? They are merely God's way of preparing you for whatever wonderful thing He has coming next. And trust me, it's going to be wonderful.
I know it can be easy to want to give up. I know it can be easy to just walk away from your dream or your calling. But here are three reasons why you absolutely can't do that...
1) Your breakthrough is coming. It's been said that Thomas Edison failed around 1,000 times before his invention of the light bulb worked. Can you imagine what would've happened if he would've given up after 100 or 700 or even 1,000 times right before it succeeded? He never knew what would happen with his next attempt. Maybe he would fail again, or maybe it would be the time he would succeed. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty glad he never gave up. Same with you. You have no way of knowing if your next attempt at that dream, or that plan, or that calling, is going to be the time you succeed. So you can't give up now. Your breakthrough will come. You just have to hold on long enough to reach it. Maybe it won't look the same as you planned. Maybe the success will be completely different from how you dreamed. But God does have a plan more perfect than you could ever imagine. So keep fighting for it.
2) Failure makes us appreciate success that much more. Earlier this summer, I was having some health issues and we wondered if it was related to a food allergy. Because of this I went on a gluten and dairy free diet for two weeks. During this time, I could not eat any of my favorite foods (which all happen to include cheese or bread. Pizza anyone?), and instead I had to learn to eat foods I wasn't really thrilled about. But you know what? At the end of the two weeks, when I was able to go off of the diet and eat my favorite foods again, that pizza never tasted so good. So it is with your failure and your success. If all you did was succeed and achieve every goal you ever set, you would not appreciate it nearly as much as if you fought for that success. Perseverance in the face of failure is so hard, but the best part? When that dream or that plan finally comes true, your celebration is going to be sweeter than anything you've ever imagined.
3) Someone is counting on you to fulfill your calling. If God has placed a dream or calling in your heart, I can guarantee you that He did not place it there by accident. I can guarantee you that God did not just give you a calling or vision for some random reason. He knows what He is doing in our lives. He knows what He's doing in your life. If you face rejection or failure with the dream or vision He has given you, please don't give up. Someone in this world is counting on you to do exactly as God has called you to. Someone out there needs to hear what you have to say. Someone out there needs to receive the encouragement you have to offer. Someone out there needs to be reminded that they matter and maybe you will be the only person to remind them. So when you're ready to give up? Think about that someone. And then keep pressing on. In spite of the failure. In spite of the fear. In spite of the hurt. In spite of the rejection. Keep going.
Don't you dare quit now.
I'm cheering you on.
Today I have a super exciting, special announcement for all the girls following my blog!
*Tosses around some confetti and hands you a cupcake*
First of all, if you've never heard of Morning Glory Ministries and their blog, please go check them out now! Second of all, Morning Glory is getting ready to release their first ever devotional e-book, "30 Days of Surrender" releasing on AUGUST 21, 2017!! Whoo-hoo! I'm so excited about this release because I had the honor of being a part of this project and contributing to the devotional!
30 Days of Surrender is a daily devotional e-book created for teen girls to encourage them to surrender every area of their lives to Jesus. Each day the writer of that day's devotional talks about an area of your life to give over and surrender.
Being a part of this devotional project really touched my life, by working in my heart through the writing I contributed to the project. I'm so excited, I can't wait for release day, and I hope you will join us on this 30 day surrendering adventure by buying 30 Days of Surrender when it releases on August 21!!
To get you even more excited for the release day, today I have a special interview with the founder of Morning Glory Ministries and the mastermind behind this project, Anastasis Faith. :)
Bella: Welcome to my blog, Anna! I’m so excited to have you join us today. To start off this little interview, please share with us just a little bit more about yourself, so readers can get to know you better!
Anastasis: Thanks so much for having me, Bella! My goal is to seek to know my Savior. Because of that, I am passionate about encouraging girls to pursue Jesus with their whole heart. A promise in Scripture that gives me so much hope is Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” What a joy to know that God promises to be found by those who seek Him.
Bella: Please, share with us a little bit more about your ministry, Morning Glory. Why did you start it?
Anastasis: I believe I was nine when I decided I wanted to do teen girl discipleship. ;) Obviously I was too young, but God grew me through those years until I started the Daily Devotional three and a half years ago. It grew exponentially from there, leading to the start of the blog about two years ago. I started it because I wanted a platform through which I could encourage teen and tween girls with my writing.
Bella: That's wonderful! When did you first get the idea to begin the 30 Days of Surrender E-book project? What has been the most important thing you have learned through the process of leading this project?
Anastasis: Last Christmas I was brainstorming ideas for an ebook. That one popped into my head. I emailed my friends to see if they were interested in collaborating. No one seemed interested. Then I re-emailed over spring break and since then God has been working miracles to bring this to fruition! The biggest thing I have learned—shocker—is the importance of surrender. When things were moving slow with this project, when this summer turned out to be INSANE, when I was working full time, God taught me surrender. I wanted this project to launch. I wanted to have time to work on all these things. Often, after long days at work, energy was my biggest prayer! God has been teaching me most about surrendering my plans and my time. My original hope was for a June 1 launch. That sounds hilarious now. But God has taught me so much. What a ride it has been!
Bella: What is the most important thing that you want readers to take away from this daily devotional?
Anastasis: My biggest prayer is that readers will learn to trust and obey. That’s what I’m learning. Humanity’s biggest problem is chronic unbelief. We do not believe who God says He is. If we truly believed that He is who He says He is, our lives would look very, very different. Surrendering is about trusting that God is who He says He is and then obeying, despite our ideas of what is best.
Bella: That is so powerful! Thank you so much for sharing. Now, what is your favorite Bible verse and why?
Anastasis: Jeremiah 29:13 is one, as aforementioned. Also is Philippians 1:6, which promises that God will finish what He started in me. I need that promise so often! :) And finally Psalm 119:10, “With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments.” That last verse is my daily prayer. Jeremiah 29:13 is my daily promise. And Philippians 1:6 is my daily hope.
Bella: To end, please share with us links to connect with you on social media, as well as a link to your website, and where readers can purchase the 30 Days of Surrender e-book when it releases. :)
Anastasis: Definitely! Thank you so much for interviewing me!
My website is MorningGloryPursuingJesus.blogspot.com and 30 Days of Surrender will be available there.
My Instagram is @AnastasisFaith. Thank you!
Bella: Thanks so much for joining us today, Anna! I can’t wait to see what God does with this special project. ♥
Don't forget to purchase your own e-book copy of 30 Days of Surrender on August 21!!
Growing up, I went through so many phases of different things that I wanted to be when I "was older."
A professional ice skater. Thankfully, I realized I was too clumsy for that.
Show jumper on my own horse in the Olympics. I held onto this one a bit longer, but this too I eventually let go of when my horse obsession faded, and God placed a special calling on my life.
A lawyer. Nah, too much college.
A chef. That is until I realized I not only can't cook, but I also strongly dislike it.
So many different ideas, goals, and ambitions.
But the one thing I've always wanted to be in the depths of my heart that has never changed?
I decided that from the moment I held a pen and discovered that I could use it to create stories and worlds that were my own. I knew it from the moment my creativity first got the best of me and I ached to develop characters that only my mind could see. I understood it more clearly from the first time my fingers touched my shiny new keyboard of my first laptop.
From the time I was eight years old, I knew God made me to write.
Of course, I've been writing pretty much since I could hold a pen. But when I was eight? Well, everything changed.
A simple creative writing assignment for homeschool turned into a story that I couldn't get enough of. I had to write more, I had to tell more about the life of this girl I had created on my own. Would anyone read it? Probably not. But did I care? Nope. All I cared about was writing.
Soon enough, however, I ached for others to read my writing. I dreamed of the day I could write and hundreds of people would read it. I dreamed of the day I could type out a blog post and get a response. I dreamed of the day people would hold my words in printed form, the way I held and cherished others books. I dreamed of the day when my writing would not only impact other's lives, but inspire them too.
And if you would've told my young self that I would be standing here today, I might not have believed you.
Writing has been my life and my dream for so many years, that it has become a part of me. Writing is no longer something that I do. But being a writer is who I am.
I'll be the first to tell you...although it is the love of my life, writing is far from easy.
Writing is hard. Writing is messy. Writing is frustrating. And sometimes writing makes me want to give up.
For anyone who thinks that writing is a simple, easy, or small task, you are wrong. To think that writing is an easy job is to be severely misled. Writing is the hardest job that I've ever had.
Yet I would never trade writing for any other job in the world.
With that being said, this is for you...the writer. These are my words to remind you why what you are writing is so very, very important.
You see, maybe you feel like giving up. Maybe you feel like your writing isn't important because you honestly aren't reaching that many people. Maybe you assume you could never make money off of your writing, so you should pursue something else instead. Maybe you think your writing doesn't really matter in the end.
And you, my friend, would be wrong.
Writing is going to take everything you have. But it's going to be worth it.
Yeah, maybe not many people do read what you write. But you know what? Write anyway. You have no idea the impact you could make on the person who does read what you share.
Your writing is important, because writing is a gift from God.
God is the Master Storyteller. He has written the greatest Story of all time throughout history and He made you a part of that story. He is the King of creativity. If God has given you the gift and the calling to write, you must realize the importance of this calling. Every word you right has the possibility of changing someone's life. Sometimes you may hear about the impact your words made, but often you won't.
Your writing is important, because it is your responsibility to give back to God what He has given to you.
He has given you this gift. He has given you this calling. Using your writing for anything less than His glory would be a shame.
Your writing is important, because you have something to say.
The burning message in your heart that you want others to hear? That matters. The words you ache for others to read? They matter. Don't let anyone--especially yourself--tell you otherwise.
I'm telling you right now...what you have to say is important.
So go out and say it.
Isabella Morganthal (20) is a homeschool high school graduate who loves Jesus with all of her heart. She is a drummer, writer, creative arts director, and modern-day abolitionist.