"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path...The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple."
Psalm 119:105, 130
Have you ever been afraid of the dark?
I remember growing up I would never go into a dark room by myself. Even now I am not a fan of dark places. I much prefer rooms with the lights on or walking outside when the sun is shining.
We appreciate the light because in the light we can see. We can see what's around us, we can see where we're going, and we can even see dangers that we might not have seen in the dark when it's sometimes hard to see anything at all. Light is necessary to life.
And this week I wanted to talk about how...
The Word of God is a light for us.
God's Words are light in our spiritual darkness.
Here are just a few ways that the Word of God lights our path:
1) By showing us our sin. The Bible shows us our sin and our need for a Savior. Before Christ we were living in a spiritual darkness. Before the knowledge that we needed Him we could not see, we were blinded in the darkness. God's Word is like the light switch that flips on and reveals all of our dirty stains and then illuminates the gift of Jesus on the cross.
2) By helping us understand how He wants us to live. After we accept Jesus into our hearts, how are we supposed to live? What message should our lives be giving to others that shows we are different from the world? God's Word is the light that illuminates the path of godliness we should be walking.
3) By re-kindling our desire for Jesus. Have you ever felt like Bible study was simply a chore or like Jesus was far away? By staying consistent in the Word of God, it becomes a light that points you back to your love story with Jesus and re-kindles that desire to spend time with Him.
When we stay in God's Word we don't have to feel like we're walking in spiritual darkness. Through the pages of our Bible we find light for our path and words that give light and understanding to our hearts. Cling to Him.
Do you remember a time in your life where the Word of God felt like a lamp shining and giving you wisdom or direction? What did you learn from these verses? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
I have talked a lot recently about how important Scripture memorization is and why you should memorize. I've even talked about what a lot of us miss when memorizing.
But the big question I'm sure you are all wondering is this:
How do I memorize? What are some methods that work for effective Scripture memorization?
If these questions are tugging on your mind, do not fear! You have come to the right place. Today I am going to share with you 4 methods that I have used for effective Scripture memorization. And, let's dive in...
1. Rote memorization. Honestly, this is how I memorize best. I used this method for just about every passage I memorized for Bible Bee. This worked best for me and that's why I stuck to it. Now I understand that rote memorization isn't everyone's cup of tea and if it's not for you I totally get that. However, it is proven to be effective and if you're having a hard time with other memorization methods, at least give this one a try. Basically take the first phrase and repeat it over and over until it's memorized, continually adding more of the passage to it. Repeat this until you have the whole verse/passage memorized. And don't forget to begin and end with the Scripture reference! (A learned Bible Bee skill that I think is helpful so that if you are ever asked where a certain verse is located, you can help point people in the right direction ;))
2. Dramatize your verses. I have used this before and generally this is super helpful for me because I'm a naturally dramatic person (ask anyone). I love to sing and as I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I would memorize verses growing up to the tune of certain songs. Take the verse you're memorizing and sing it to the tune of your current favorite worship song/hymn. Because I have a creative arts ministry where I perform songs in sign language, signing is a big deal to me. During Bible Bee, I learned some of my verses in sign language, which helped me remember the words even better. If you have siblings, act out a certain chapter or story in the Bible. Be creative and have fun with it.
3. Draw pictures to go along with your verses. Let's be clear here. Drama and music I am good at. Drawing and art? Nope. Not. One. Bit. However, one year in Bible Bee we had several verses from the Gospel of John. And the problem was that they all seemed to start the same way or similar. My usual methods for memorizing were not working to help me keep these verses word perfect. To switch things up a bit, I wrote out the verses on index cards and drew pictures to go along with them on the back. Using colored pencils and everything. Totally out of my comfort zone. Anyway, it worked. The pictures helped me distinguish which passage went with which reference. If you're artsy, this could be a method that works best for you. And if your stick figures could use a little bit of help, don't let that discourage you. My stick figures won't be displayed in an art museum anytime soon either.
4. Use an online program. Ever heard of Memverse? I first joined Memverse in 2013 for Bible Bee. (www.memverse.com) Memverse allows you to type in the verse you're memorizing with the whole verse in front of you and slowly they'll drop words out until you're typing the whole verse from memory. It's super fun and easy and really helpful for memorizing. ScriptureTyper (www.scripturetyper.com) is very similar. I didn't use it as much as Memverse but both are good resources.
So there you have it. 4 methods I have used and have seen their effectiveness in my memorization.
And just a quick bonus memorization tip: don't do it alone. Have friends memorize with you. Quiz each other on passages, discuss the meaning and context, check in to see how memorization is coming along, encourage and support each other. Gather your team and get to memorizing.
Hide God's Word in your hearts. It'll be so worth it.
I lay awake in bed, tossing and turning, yet again. Attempting to find a position, where my legs would stop spasming and my back would stop screaming out in pain. My eyes were wet with tears from the shooting sensation coming from my nerves. My pillow soaked sweat and tears as I moaned the only utterance possible, "Please God." Those two words held more weight and meaning than many other prayers I had ever prayed. It was a groan and asking for relief, for rest, for comfort.
This has been my reality for many years. Sleepless nights, wondering if God is near. Asking for comfort.
Nonetheless, even in those moments of weakness, the Lord has taught me many things on His character within my weakness.
Even when I am too weak to pray, He is interceding for me.
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Rom 8:26 (NKJV)
In our weakness, He is proven strong
"And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor. 12: 9-10 (NKJV)
You don't have to be the strong one. Christ is the one with the strength. You can be weak. I personally struggle with allowing myself to be weak, rest, and ask for help. I often have the mentality of, "fake it till you make it." However, this thought is not healthy and goes against the way that Christ has created us. Would we all learn to lean on Christ for our strength?
There is a purpose behind our pain
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. " (2 Cor 1:3-4, emphasis added)
Reader, I know that you might be walking through a difficult season. Your health may be failing you. Your marriage may be down in the dumps. Maybe you hit rock bottom. However, Christ is in the pain with you.
He is carrying you.
Eliza Downer, a teacher by day and writer by night, can often be found enjoying creation or sipping a cup of coffee. She currently resides in Colorado with her parents and 11 siblings. To read more of her writing, visit her website here: Window Into My World.
Yep, I know it's not a typical day I post here.
And honestly this isn't really your normal post anyway.
This is simply my overflow of praise for my Hero, Jesus.
You see, last night I had a book signing. I met several people and had a wonderful time introducing my books and talking passionately about why I write what I do.
At one point, after sharing several of the projects I have worked on over the years in writing and where God has me now, someone I was talking to made the comment that I had gotten a young start and looked to be very successful already.
The first phrase out of my mouth was, "To God be the glory. I feel very honored to have been given this gift with which I can glorify Christ and inspire other young ladies to glorify Him as well. If I have glorified Him at all, that is my greatest joy."
And oh, y'all.
I meant that with all of my heart.
I post on here so regularly and write so frequently, that sometimes I just feel this need to pause and bow. To step out of the light and let Him shine. Because here's the thing:
No success that I have is without Jesus Christ.
And any success that I have is pointless if He is not glorified.
I tell you this, because I want you to get this and understand this. You may or may not be called "successful" according to the world someday. Maybe you'll be cast into the world's spotlight and hear your name on TV. Or maybe you'll wonder if anyone really knows who you are.
I don't care what your "success" is according to the world. I don't care what mine is.
The epitome of success is when the spotlight is off of you and it is shining so brightly on Jesus. The epitome of success is lifting Him higher. Will you lift Him up with me?
It is not my desire for you to read what I write and remember my name. Please, if you read anything I write and someday years from now you look back and remember the words, I want you to remember His Name. I want you to remember Jesus Christ. And if I have had any honor in leading you closer to Him and making Him famous, I consider it a success.
With that being said I wanted to share a song with you (that I claim no rights to at all) that has brought me to my knees as I pray that I would lift Him higher every day.
To God be the glory.
And finally, it is my desire to serve you in whatever way I can. My schedule is all sorts of crazy at the moment, so if I am slow in responses to emails or comments, please forgive me.
However, if there is any way that I can support you in your writing journey or your faith journey, please do not hesitate to reach out.
If you think that one of my books would encourage you or is something that you need right now to get you back on your faith track, but you don't have the money to pay for one, please email me. I'd love to send you free digital copies of any book or resource I have created that may point you to Him.
"Remember the word to your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life."
The word itself is almost soothing.
When going through a rough time, we all long for comfort. When experiencing loss or tragedy, we ache to be comforted.
Perhaps, like me, you've been blessed with incredible friends who are quick to comfort you when you are sad, or cheer you up when you are feeling down.
But if we're honest, we need more than that.
We all crave a comfort that only God can give to us.
And that's why this week I want to remind you that...
The Word of God is a comfort to our hearts.
I can remember specific moments in my life where I was hurting so deeply that nothing anyone said could comfort me. But when I opened the pages of Scripture and read promise after promise from my King, my heart was eased with a comfort that I couldn't even explain.
A lot of times when we're sad or hurting, we try to fill that pain or void with other things. We try to avoid the problem or we try to numb the pain.
The problem is that we're only adding to the hurt.
Nothing else can bring us comfort like Jesus and His words to us in the Bible. The Bible is your direct communication from God and allows you to hear His voice at all times.
When you're sad, run to His Scriptures.
When you're hurting, go back to the verses that have reminded you of His faithfulness time and time again.
Sometimes when I am facing impossible circumstances that have me weighed down, I enjoy reading Exodus and seeing all the miracles that God performed for His people to rescue them because He loved them and had chosen them. This reminds me of His faithfulness to His people in the past, and how He is so faithful to me now today as well. It comforts me.
Psalm 119 itself is a huge comfort, reminding us of the matchless treasure of God's Word that we have available to us at all times. We have access to the Bible anywhere, anytime. What a comfort that is!
Remember that He comforts. His Word comforts.
Run to Him.
How have you seen God's comfort in your life? Do you have a favorite verse from this passage in Psalm 119? Share your thoughts in the comments below and join the discussion!
"Wait, what was I supposed to do again?"
I am pretty much famous for making this comment.
I'm one of the most easily distracted people you will probably ever meet (squirrel...just kidding), and if someone tells me to do something while I am in the middle of something else I will say, "Yes, I heard you," but five minutes later I'll repeat the above question.
Because hearing and understanding are two completely different things.
It's easy for me to hear a command and confirm that I heard it. It's not so easy for me to hear that command and understand it so that I remember it an hour later and it becomes useful information to me.
Because it's easy to collect information in our heads and not comprehend it in our hearts.
And sometimes I think that we make this mistake in our Scripture memorization.
This is our missing link to effectively hiding God's Word in our hearts.
You can memorize more Scripture than you ever thought possible but memorizing words and knowing what they mean are two totally different things.
When I was doing Bible Bee, I had the challenge of memorizing hundreds of verses in a very short amount of time. If I was not careful, I missed this most important step of memorization:
Meditating on what I was learning and understanding it.
For if you are only going to stuff words into your mind and not comprehend what they mean to you, then there is no point in doing it.
The point of memorizing Scripture is to understand, comprehend, and allow the words to transform your life.
Here are just a few of my suggestions for comprehending the passages of God's Word that you memorize:
1. Study context. This is something else that we can miss in memorization. When I was in Bible Bee, I made a point to study as much of the context of the passages that I was memorizing as possible. If you're memorizing one verse, read the chapter (s) surrounding that verse until you have a better understanding of what that verse means. I love studying historical context as well, because this gives you an idea of why the words were written and what life was like when they were written. Totally helps bring the verse or verses to a whole new level of understanding.
2. Apply the passage to your life. A fun way that I would do this is by writing a two-three paragraph article on how the passage I've memorized can change my life. For example, if I'm memorizing Ephesians 4:32, I may write a few paragraphs on forgiveness and someone in my life that I could forgive. Whatever works best for you, whether it's writing it down or maybe discussing it with a friend, apply the words you are studying to your own life.
3. Have an accountability partner. The story of how God blessed me with one of my greatest blessings: He gave her to me as my accountability partner for the 2015 National Bible Bee. Every day we would ask each other the same things: "How many verses did you memorize today?" and "What did you learn today?" Having someone to discuss God's Word with is invaluable. Gather your squad. Find a friend to dive into God's Word with you. Memorize together and always remind each other to live out what you're studying.
4. Think about the passage throughout the day. Allow that passage you've memorized to affect your entire day. For example: You've memorized Ephesians 4:32. Later on in the day, a friend makes some hurtful comments. After confronting them, they apologize (or maybe they don't) and you have the choice to forgive them or not. Think again about Ephesians 4:32 and remember to apply it to your life by forgiving your friend. Keep the verses you are memorizing at the front of your mind.
Don't let your memory verses stay in your heart.
Let them change your life.
Live them out.
"How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes . With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word."
Have you ever felt like reading the Bible was dry?
You know, those times when you pick it up and you read part of Leviticus and you're wondering how it even relates to you. Or you read a few chapters and nothing feels...alive...to you. It feels dry, as if you're desiring to hear from God but you don't really feel connected in His Word.
A few years ago I led a memory challenge to memorize all of Psalm 119 in a predetermined amount of time. In the process of leading this challenge and memorizing these words, something came alive to me.
Something that I think a lot of us miss.
Have you ever felt like reading your Bible was just another chore to check off your list?
Like, wash the dishes, check. Clean the closet, check. Read my Bible, check. Pray, check.
And it just blends in with all the other responsibilities piling up on your plate that you're not even sure you'll get it done for the day.
I work in an environment where I'm surrounded by Bibles daily. I write Christian non-fiction and for my Bible study posts I have a Bible in my hand almost all the time. And the truth is that with the Bible so easily available to me....sometimes I take it for granted.
It hurts to admit that, but I'd also venture to say that you have done the same.
You see, Psalm 119 isn't just a beautiful psalm in the Bible. It isn't just words that we are to put in our hearts or read through every now and then. It isn't just something to marvel at.
Psalm 119 paints a glorious picture of the Word of God.
Every verse includes a reference to God's Word. Every verse reminds us and re-awakens us to the realization that the Bible--the very breath and Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16)--is a gift to be treasured, and not a task to be completed.
My hope through this study is to awaken your heart to the treasure found in God's Word and awaken your desire to know Him more through His Word.
The Bible is a love letter. A love letter for you! What could be more beautiful than that.
I've broken down Psalm 119 in four sections and each week I will draw out one aspect of the Word. Something that I want to remind you of.
This week I want to remind you that...
The Word of God is a gift to delight in.
If you read Psalm 119:1-48 (and really throughout the whole psalm), you can't help but take notice of how many times the Psalmist makes mention of the Word of God being his delight, and rejoicing in those words.
I wish I could include it all here, but since I can't, I hope you will take the time to read it for yourself.
My favorites however from the whole psalm are right here in verses 14-16:
"I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word."
The writer is saying that he rejoices more in God's words than in any riches that the world could offer him. He would rather have God's Word than gold or silver or the latest fashions or the biggest house. What dedication. He then says that he delights in the words of God and will not forget them. They bring him so much joy.
Here's the thing: the Word of God is a gift from the One who created you. It's a gift meant to bring joy, conviction, teaching, encouragement, and salvation.
When did we stop treating it like such?
When we're sad, when did we stop going to God's Word to bring us joy and comfort in His presence? When we're fighting temptation, when did we stop going to the Bible to encourage us to stand strong and fight? When we've sinned, when did we stop going to the Bible to convict us and bring us to repentance?
The Bible should be our go-to for all of these things.
But what about those times when reading your Bible does feel a little bit like reading in a desert? What about the times when you really don't feel like delighting in His Word?
Well, here are my suggestions for those times:
Don't base your obedience off of your feelings.
If you desire to obey Christ and spend time in His Word, meditating on it, delighting in it, and studying it to know Him, you can't always base that obedience off your feelings. Feelings change so fast. Girls especially know this to be true. Whether or not you feel like studying God's Word or spending time with Him in it, you should do it anyway. This is where your true delight will come from. You will learn to truly, unconditionally delight in His words, regardless of what your feelings tell you.
Write a love letter to Jesus, remembering how He redeemed you.
A great way to ignite your desire for God's Word again and delight in Him is to remember. Remember your love story with your King and remember what He has done for you, all the ways He has been faithful and loved you. So write it all out. Tell Him. Tell someone else. Remember.
Memorize your favorite parts.
We all have parts of the Bible that we go to in times of sadness or in times when we need encouragement. We all have our "favorite" verses that bring such comfort to our lives. When you're lacking delight in God's Word, go in and memorize your favorite parts. This will encourage you to keep on loving all of the Word and not just the parts you especially like.
The devil's greatest plan is to keep you out of the Word of God. If he can do that, he can tempt you, deceive you, and break you. Don't let him win. Pray for a desire for the Word of God. Pray for God to help you delight in His words. Fight this battle on your knees.
When you're given a gift on your birthday, you don't put it aside and come back to it later or treat it like just another chore you have to accomplish. No, a gift is something you delight in and are excited for.
So is His Word.
What a gift. What a delight. Thank You, God, for Your Word.
What are your thoughts on delighting in God's Word? Do you remember a specific time when the Word of God came alive to you and you treasured the words you read? What is one of your most favorite passages of Scripture? Share in the comments! <3
Hi friends! I am SO excited to begin a new series on my blog this month. I'll be running a new series on Mondays and a new one on Thursdays but both of them go together!
On Mondays we will be diving into a series on memorizing God's Word. We'll be talking today about why it's important and how it changes our lives. And over the whole month of April I'll be sharing more about the power of God's Word and hiding it in your heart.
On Thursdays we will be doing a Bible study on the treasure of God's Word from Psalm 119. I'm breaking this incredible chapter of God's Word into 4 weeks and each week I will draw out different characteristics of God's Word and how it blesses us. I can't wait to dig into this chapter with you.
So if you're ready and excited like me, let's get started! <3
I have grown up memorizing Scripture.
I remember sitting at our kitchen table as a little girl memorizing Psalm 119:11 while my mom sang it to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me."
When I was eleven and twelve I joined the AWANA program at church. AWANA was focused on studying and memorizing Scripture and I would enthusiastically memorize each passage every week.
But when I was fourteen I experienced Scripture memorization in a whole new way.
As many of you know, I had signed up that year for the 2011 National Bible Bee. On June 3rd I received my study materials--including Scripture cards for 500 memory verses that I had to memorize before testing in August.
I remember I chose one of the passages from Genesis to be the first passage that I memorized for Bible Bee.
Five years later I would memorize a passage from Revelation 22 as the last one I memorized for Bible Bee.
But in between those five years I memorized over 6,000 Scriptures and hid them in my heart, including several whole books of the Bible.
First of all, this article is not a pitch for Bible Bee. (That'll come at a later date, you can't escape it completely.)
I did not write this article to explain to you how Bible Bee changed my life, and I did not write this article to explain why I think you should sign up this year.
I wrote this article to share with you how memorizing Scripture changed my life.
And how I believe it can change yours too.
Although I grew up memorizing Scripture, I never really thought about how much I could memorize until I began Bible Bee. I didn't think that I could store hundreds of verses in my heart in just a few short weeks.
Some of my favorite memories from my years in Bible Bee are the moments when I would sit in my special study spot and recite through all of my passages--a task that could take up to two hours at a time.
As I continued to hide verse after verse in my heart, something began to change.
I didn't just read my Bible every now and then. I was actually hiding the Bible in my heart and the more I recited each verse the more the verses became alive to me.
When I would be afraid of something or feel fear creeping up, my thoughts would go to the verse in my heart, Psalm 56:3-4, "When I am afraid I will trust in You."
When my anxiety would start to stress me out, I would be reminded of Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything."
When I became very sick in August 2015 and was taken to the hospital, my heart kept whispering Psalm 18:32, "It is God who arms me with strength."
When I would wonder if giving up certain things in my life to walk closer to Jesus was worth it, I would tell myself Philippians 3:8, "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
When I was faced with a strong temptation to do something I knew I shouldn't do, Matthew 26:41 would tug on my conscience, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation."
When I would struggle with forgiving someone in my heart, I would be challenged by Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
These verses weren't just words that I read every now and then in my Bible, but didn't know well enough to recall when I needed them. They were verses in my heart that were changing everything about my life because they were there when I needed them.
Memorizing Scripture changed my life because memorizing Scripture made the Word of God come alive to me.
Memorizing Scripture changed my life because memorizing Scripture gave me wisdom, encouragement, and comfort when I needed it most.
And it can do the same for you.
Psalm 119 is one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible because it is all about the wonderful, matchless Word of God. Psalm 119:11 tells us that "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You."
When you have God's Word in your heart, you have the power to fight against the attacks of the devil. You have the power to fight fear, temptation, hurt, sorrow, and any other dart the devil aims your way.
I can't count the number of times I have heard people say to me, "That's great you've memorized so much Scripture! I just don't have that kind of memory though. It's not really my thing."
At the cost of saying something unpopular that you may not want to hear...those are lies and they do not speak truth.
Here's the thing: Scripture is the very Word of God. And the very Word of God will one hundred percent change your life. But if you are not daily in the Word of God and if you do not have the Word of God with you in the moments you need it most, you will not experience that power.
If God has given us the command and the encouragement to hide His Word in our hearts, I guarantee you that you can do it. I may not like praying for my enemies and I may not feel like I can do it. But God has commanded me to do so in His Word, so I must pray for them. You may not feel like memorizing Scripture, but you can do it in His power just as in His power I can pray for my enemies.
First of all, let me be clear. I'm not telling you to go memorize 500 verses in three months. I'm telling you to set a memorizing goal that works for you. Maybe that's one verse a week. Maybe it's one verse a day. I don't need to know your memorizing schedule. I just want to encourage you to memorize.
You won't always have your Bible with you when you need it. Maybe someday you'll be somewhere you aren't even allowed to have a Bible.
But if it's in your heart, no one and nothing can take it away from you.
So, yes, memorizing Scripture changed my life, because that's what the Word of God does.
Memorizing Scripture will change your life too.
Why do you believe it is so important to memorize Scripture? What Scripture verses have you been memorizing lately? Do you recall a time when a verse you had memorized came back to you at just the moment you needed it? Share your thoughts in the comments!
This day. This moment.
This is the greatest hope of all our lives. The greatest gift and the greatest victory. The victory over death.
This is the pinnacle of our faith.
What a glorious hope. What a beautiful love. How can we not rejoice?
Oh praise You, Lord Jesus, for You conquered death and rose again! There is no greater reason to celebrate.
Happy Resurrection Sunday, friends.
He is risen.
"But the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.'"
The guest on my blog today is one of my favorite bloggers and a dear friend. Grace will be sharing with us a special article on how life isn't fair...but that's really okay. I know you'll be blessed by reading and I'd love for you to drop a comment at the bottom to let Grace know what you think! <3
It happened again.
The deadly plague of jealousy and discontentment struck me one night when I found out about something special a friend of mine was going to get to do. I immediately became agitated.
Why does she get to do that? Why not me?
Deep down in the pit of my heart, I was grumbling, that’s not fair!
Ah. But such is life.
Growing up, my mom always said, “Life isn’t fair.” Over and over again, I’ve watched it play out in life. Life is not fair, and that is a truth that many of us struggle to accept. I mean, it just doesn’t sound very right, does it? If God really loves us all equally… why do some get privileges and others don’t?
For instance, why did some of God’s faithful servants in the Hall of Faith overcome overwhelming obstacles and see God perform miracles, while others had to plug through life with seemingly never-ending trials (Hebrews 11:32-38)? Why do some get happy endings and some get sad ones? Why does so-and-so get married but her friend remains single?
On and on we whine, why, why, why?
But again and again we have to remind ourselves, life isn’t fair.
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe life isn’t fair because God never intended life to be about fairness? Let’s think about this for a minute.
Do you think it was very “fair” of God to send His only Son to the earth to die a death for sinners… when He was absolutely blameless?
Mercy trumps justice.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should throw all law and justice out the window, but keep in mind that God gave us the law because He wanted us to realize that we are humanly incapable of keeping it and are therefore totally dependent on His mercy to save us.
We know that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to the world to die for us (John 3:16), and through that He gained victory over death and provided for us an eternal hope.
There’s no reason that God should show us such love and mercy! We were the ones that turned from God and sinned against Him. In terms of fairness, there was no obligation for the Lord to pursue us. But yet He did.
The Lord is just, and one day He will judge; there’s no doubt about it. But being a God of mercy, He wanted to give us a way of escape. A way of hope. Even though we were totally and utterly undeserving.
I could argue that there’s no reason my friend deserves the privilege she got that I don’t also deserve. But the truth is, life isn’t fair.
Jesus has said that there is no temptation known to man that He did not also know on this earth (Hebrews 4:15). And I don’t know any one more deserving – and least receiving – of fairness than Jesus. What a weighty temptation that would have been!
But yet, we know the end of the story. God was faithful to raise His Son up. Everything worked out for good (Romans 8:28); the most beautiful goodness. What Christ accomplished is the epitome of goodness. Fairness? Nope. But goodness? But mercy? But kindness? YES.
Life is not about fairness. And that’s OK.
Life is about glorifying God and serving Him with each breath we take. It’s about showing God’s love to others. It’s about spreading the gospel and making disciples. It’s about enjoying our Lord forever. We get only one life before we are sealed into eternity.
Life is too short to worry about fairness.
Dear Jesus, You know everything; nothing is hidden from You. You know when I’m tempted to become jealous and dissatisfied because life doesn’t seem fair. But yet, You were treated unfairly. You were mocked, and slandered, and betrayed, and oppressed. You endured incomprehensible cruelty for MY sake. You were treated so unfairly to save someone who didn’t even deserve it. Oh, to be like Thee! I don’t need fairness; YOU are all I need. Help me find my satisfaction and my joy in You alone. Fill my heart with Your love, that I may give it to others. Thank you, Jesus, for paying such a price for me. Thank you that You can see past our words and into our souls, because words cannot begin to express what our hearts contain. You are worthy of my love and praise. Make my life an alleluia! In Your precious Name I pray, Amen.
Grace is a teenage daughter of the King with a passion for music, a heart for missions, and an unwholesome weakness for ice cream. She enjoys blogging over at her blog, Grace Notes, playing her five instruments, singing, lettering, writing, making memories with her siblings, and serving the Lord in whatever capacity she can. Her deepest desire is that Jesus Christ would be glorified through her life.
Hi friends! Happy Thursday. Today I am reviewing a book that I really think you would love and a book that I believe every Christian can benefit from. Let's dive in!
What this book is about (according to the back cover):
What does it mean to be a Christian?
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news in history, but we often live as though it has minimal impact on our lives. Being a Christian isn’t just about Sunday mornings, small groups, and studying the Bible. The good news is that Jesus redeems everything.
In the Bible, we read story after story of people meeting God and walking away completely changed. The same is true for Christians today. Being a Christian, by Dr. Jason Allen, shows how Jesus redeems all of life.
Useful for new and mature believers, small group and personal study, Being a Christian walks readers through the gospel’s impact on all facets of life, from your relationships to your resources, from your work to your rest, from your past to your future.
This book was a lot easier to read than I was expecting. And that's certainly not to say that the content was simple or easy, because this book definitely presented truths about the true meaning of Christianity. However it was written in a way that made these deep truths easier to understand for anyone who picked it up. Some books about Christianity can be so full of deep theological terms that a lot of people don't understand what is being said. Not so with this book.
I really enjoyed reading every chapter and I appreciated that each chapter wasn't super long--something that allowed me to read a chapter a day even with my busy schedule. I also appreciated how each chapter ended with, "In Conclusion," which kind of wrapped up each chapter and gave you the main takeaway points.
A lot of times we can think that being a Christian does not affect the smaller aspects of our life or days, like our schedule or our money or our hobbies. But this book did an excellent job of showing how the gospel and Jesus changes every aspect of our lives, including all of the things we think of as small.
Some of the topics discussed were how the gospel relates to our time, money, work, marriage, family, and a lot more. Although the book did seem to be written for the audience of married couples or parents because of the chapters that discussed marriage and family, it definitely wasn't something that an unmarried person couldn't read as well. Since I'm obviously not married, I could not relate to those chapters from a firsthand experience, however they were still great chapters to read for future benefit if that's in God's will for my life.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend every Christian grab a copy. :)
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Happy Monday, y'all! Today I am so very excited to share with you an article from my very dear friend, Dani. This is Dani's first time on my blog and I love this article she has prepared for you today.
This post is the second part of her article "Sick" and I would love for you to also read part one over at her amazing blog, Through Fire and Water.
I will include a link to part one at the end of this post, so don't forget to check it out!
And now, without further ado, here is Dani's article...
Just about everyone out there has someone with a chronic illness in their life. This is for you. I hope it will help you understand your own personal sickie and figure out how to make them feel as good as they can.
If you have a friend who is sick, help them! Pay attention when they’re having a hard time. Understand that something simple, like even talking, can wear them out. Be ready and willing to just sit with them, if that’s what it takes. When someone is sick, it can feel like you’re so cut off from the world. It feels like no one understands, often that no one cares. Being a sickie can throw a person into depression. They need a steady hand to support them, often literally.
Let them know that you’re there for them. Honestly, a text or two on a regular basis can work wonders in making your sickie not feel so isolated. And if you can invent fun stuff for your sickie to do with you sometimes, you’ll probably quickly become their best friend. Just make sure that they’ll avoid feeling clutzy or stupid in the process.
Make tea for them. Find something that they get excited over that they can spend hours on without hurting themselves. Tell them when they’ve done too much and make them stop.
Sick isn’t pretty. I know we all know that inherently, but sometimes sickness gets almost ‘marketed’ as something romantic. SICKNESS IS NOT PRETTY. And no one knows it more than the person who is sick. The person who sees every little random bruise emerge on their skin. The person who watches their own eyes dull, who watches their hair thin and break – or has to cut it because it is too heavy for them to handle anymore. The person who watches the weight that they lose or gain helplessly. The person who runs their tongue constantly over broken teeth. You feel as if your own body is betraying you. You feel like no one wants you because of what the sickness has made you.
Please remember that. Please make your sick friend feel loved. Be ready to cry with them, to sympathize with them. Be ready to encourage your friend over anything they do well, even if it’s getting out of bed and making it that day. WE FEEL WORTHLESS, HELPLESS. Please, please, do everything you can to prevent that!
Especially for family members, make sure that your sickie is eating well, taking their medicine, and getting plenty of exercise and fresh air. If they’re struggling with something, step in and help them. Don’t allow them to eventually break down over the problem – intervene before that happens!
But, for everyone, remember that when you are sick, no matter what kind, there is one Person who can help you infinitely. Jesus will be with you every step of the way, if you let Him. God told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. If you acknowledge that you are weak, and ask Him for His help, His strength, He will give it.
Sickness builds a reliance on God that we wouldn’t have under nearly any other situation. Sickness gives us a reason and a motivation to depend on God.
Sickness is hard. But sickness is also the point where we are so stripped down that all we can cling to is grace.
Praise God for sickness!
Dani is an MK living in the wilds of Alaska. She is a musician who struggles with a currently unknown autoimmune disease as well as several mental disorders. Her severely limited diet inspired her to help people overcome the barriers of their various sicknesses, and she blogs about faith, food, and culture over at throughfireandwater.weebly.com.
"Then God said to Jonah, 'Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?' And he said, 'It is right for me to be angry, even to death!' But the Lord said, 'You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much livestock?'"
Jonah has a bit of an issue with drama.
We saw a bit of his dramatic side in chapter one when he jumped on a boat going in the opposite direction of where God wanted to send him.
But here in chapter four, Jonah first begs God to take his life because God spared the people of Nineveh (4:3). And then he wishes death for himself because the plant that he happened to like a lot is eaten by a worm and dies (4:8).
I don't know about you, but I'd say Jonah is being a little bit dramatic in this chapter with the temper tantrum that he throws.
After all, shouldn't he have been a little bit relieved by the repentance of the people in Nineveh? They were turning from their sins, after all!
When the people repent and God spares them in His love and mercy, Jonah becomes very angry. And he tells God as much too.
"So he prayed to the Lord, and said, 'Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!' Then the Lord said, 'Is it right for you to be angry?'" (4:2-4)
Have you ever gotten really angry or upset about something that you know you shouldn't have gotten upset about? Have you ever thrown a pity party over something that, in all honesty, you were just being dramatic over?
Well, if we're going to confess things I'll admit that I certainly have done so.
Because if you don't know this already, you should know that I am the drama queen in our family. Growing up writing novels only made me more dramatic.
So sometimes I can get angry over things that I really shouldn't. And sometimes I can throw a pity party that looks a little bit like Jonah's.
When Jonah expresses his displeasure to God, He doesn't respond how I might imagine He would. He doesn't tell Jonah that he is obviously being ridiculous and that he needs to get his act together. He doesn't give His reasoning to Jonah and He doesn't tell Jonah His exact purpose for sparing the people of Nineveh.
No. He simply asks Jonah a question.
Is it right for you to be angry?
And at first, Jonah doesn't answer. In fact, he stomps off in his anger and goes to sit and watch the city to see if God really was going to spare them or not.
While he's up there watching the city (and sulking, I'm almost sure), God prepares a plant to cover him with shade. And Jonah, oh Jonah is really excited about this plant. He was very grateful the Bible tells us (4:6).
But just as God prepared the plant, God also prepared a worm to damage the plant. He sent this worm to chew into this plant Jonah loved so that the plant actually withered up and died. Then God prepared one more thing: a hot wind. And this hot wind, along with the sun, beat on Jonah's head until he was ready to faint.
This is the point where Jonah again wishes death for himself. And again, God asks him a simple question.
Is it right for you to be angry?
You see, Jonah had lost his focus.
He had become so caught up in his anger. So caught up in his anger towards the people of Nineveh that he would rather them die than God show them His love and mercy. Jonah had lost his focus on what really mattered and he let anger distract him from all the ways God was loving and merciful to him.
Yet how many times do we do the same?
How many times do we--do I--get angry over something and allow it to lose my focus on what matters?
God had given Jonah quite a gift in his second chance to go to Nineveh. In God's mercy, He allowed a fish to spare Jonah from drowning, He kept Jonah alive inside the fish, and then He caused the fish to spit Jonah onto dry land again. What mercy for someone who had only recently disobeyed his God.
And God does the same for me. The same for you.
He gives us so much mercy every day, mercy beyond what we deserve.
Yet every day, I can struggle against my flesh and get angry. I can be a little too dramatic over something. And in my anger I forget God's mercy. And I forget that I could show others God's mercy too.
The next time you get really angry over something or you're tempted to throw a temper tantrum, consider pausing. And in the pause think of that question God asked Jonah twice.
Is it right for you to be angry?
Sometimes when I read Jonah 4 I'm left wondering. God ended this book of the Bible with a question about mercy. Jonah had pity on a plant. Something so small and trivial. And God asks him if He was not supposed to then have pity--mercy--on so many people He had created. I wonder what Jonah said in response. I wonder if Jonah understood. I wonder if Jonah let go of his anger and returned to Nineveh and maybe even forgave them for their past sins. I wonder if he spent the rest of his life telling an unlikely story that displayed all of God's mercy and love.
I don't have answers to those questions, but I can answer this question for myself.
Is it right for me to be angry about this specific situation? And if God can show mercy to me--a great sinner--should I not also show mercy to those who wrong me?
Next time you're tempted to throw a pity party for yourself, remember Jonah. Sometimes what seems important at the moment is just a distraction to keep our focus off of what really matters:
God's mercy and love.
Thank you so much for studying Jonah with me these past five weeks! I can hardly believe this study is over already. In April we will begin a new study, and I hope you will join me.
What are some of the most important things you learned from this chapter? From studying Jonah as a whole? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Happy Monday, friends! Today we have a special guest on the blog, Sara Willoughby!
Sara is going to share with us some things God has taught her through her battle with chronic illness. Thank you so much for joining us today, Sara. <3
Sometimes, I wonder why God chose to allow this illness in my life. Actually, I wonder why often. I mean, I know that His plans are good, and I see many of the ways He is working in my life through this illness. For one, He is shaping and growing me in so many ways through it. He’s also allowing others to see Himself through it in ways that never would have happened had I been healthy.
But still... sometimes it seems like I would have been able to serve God better had I been healthy the last few years. You see, I have toxic mold poisoning, Lyme disease, and MCS. And it limits the ways that I can interact with the world; the things that I can do.
There are so many things I want to do... I want to be an author. I want to be a missionary. I want to be a wife and a mother eventually. I want to be able to disciple younger girls now. I want to be a good sister and daughter and friend. But so often, my sickness seems to hinder those things.
Maybe you feel the same way I do. Maybe you, too, have a long-term illness of some sort. You feel stuck, unable to do things that “really matter”. Unable to “make a difference”, or pursue your dreams. Maybe you feel like you could serve God more effectively or be a better Christian if you were healthy.
So often I feel like I’m not enough. Like I fail too much.
But today, I want to share something with you that God has been teaching me over and over again the last weeks, months, and years through this illness.
Here it is: God’s grace is sufficient for you and for me. In our weakness, His power is made perfect. When we feel overwhelmed by our weakness, our sickness, our shortcomings, God’s grace is sufficient. When we are physically too weak to tie our shoes, when our bodies cry out in pain from illness, when we can’t think clearly enough to string words together, His grace is sufficient.
It doesn’t matter if we can’t live up to what we think we should be able to. Because God is so much bigger than us. It’s not about us, it’s about Him. When we are too weak, His power is so much bigger than our weakness. When the sickness looms like a huge mountain, God is bigger.
Our weakness actually glorifies God if we choose to rely on Him. When we can’t do it on our own, it shows that it is only in God’s power that we are able to do anything.
So if you are struggling right now, take comfort. God’s grace is sufficient for you. He loves you so much and has given you the power to overcome: His unending grace.
"But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Sara Willoughby is a 16-year-old girl who loves to write and have adventures. She is a TCK, a Lymie, and a B.R.I.G.H.T. Lights leader. She writes for Romans535Blog, FoundWhoIAm, and Th!nk Magazine.
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.