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Hungry for God’s Word?

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Happy October! What a beautiful change this week. Our highest temperature was in the 50s yesterday. I am sure the first freeze is upon us soon, but for now I have enjoyed the cooler weather.

It seems this time of the year makes me really think about food. Pumpkin pie, zucchini bread, homemade soup, quiche, flavored coffee, etc. All things warm and cozy. Comfort! I can feel the fall hunger within me. The question is what will really satisfy my seasonal craving?

As we continue our fall study in Jeremiah, the subject of hunger appeared this past week. Jeremiah introduces a hungry soul and what can satisfy it. In Jeremiah 15:16 he states, “Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear your name, O Lord.” (Living Bible)  

Jesus encouraged followers to feast on God’s Word. (John 8:31-32) He clearly wants us to not only build a relationship with the Trinity but with Scripture as well. Why? Because there is power in the word and He clearly illustrated this with His encounter with the enemy.

I think I can safely say we know an essential element in our spiritual walk is interacting with the Bible. Over and over, we are reminded of the substance it delivers. It gives us insight to the character of God, His desire for our daily living, and a multitude of sweet promises for His children. In chapter 20 of Jeremiah, we find Scripture can even ignite a fire within us to boldly witness without worry of persecution.

Do you crave God’s Word? Is it something you cannot live without? Do the words comfort and satisfying come to mind when thinking about your relationship with Scripture? Does it seems like a lot to take in much like the image above? Is it hard to “take a bite” on your own?

Much like discipleship training, we all need biblical literacy guidance. Often our Bibles are underutilized because we are unsure how to independently interact with God’s Word. I know this was very true for me.

Rick Warren once said, “…hungry Christians need to be taught how to feed themselves from the Word of God.” It takes time and training to grow in proficiency when building a relationship with Scripture. There are tons of strategies and methods, but regardless they are useless if they don’t resonate with you.

The main factor is consistency and commitment. Then read with purpose. Start with three areas of focus:

  1. Who is God?
  2. What does He want me to do or stop doing?
  3. What promises does God make?

These three areas alone can furnish us with a firm foundation to interacting with Scripture. This approach is an open invitation to carry out James 1:22-becoming a doer of the Word and stepping out in faith more and more as you get to know God deeper, discover His commands and cling to His promises.

Challenge yourself to read with intentionality. Spend time digesting books of the Bible by taking it one chapter at a time. I read this week that it is beneficial to read a chapter a week and read it at least five times during the timeframe. WOW! Also, it was suggested to set aside an hour twice a week for deep study. What great advice especially when we take God’s Word bite-by-bite, verse-by-verse.

So, what will you do differently this week as you grow in Scripture proficiency and biblical literacy? What can you add to your daily or weekly routine? How can you incorporate the three areas: Who is God? What are His instructions/reproof? Are there promises made in the passage?

We would love to hear from you. If you are seeking for an online group to assist you in Bible study skills, let us know. We meet online every Monday night via Zoom for one hour starting at 6:00 p.m. (CST). We will be happy to share the group link with you! We would love to have you join us as we learn how to grow in relationship with the Word of God together.

EXCITING NEWS!

Excellent resource to document your personal Bible journey after a sermon, small group, devotional, etc.

Several have requested a Bible study journal to assist them in their independent study through books of the Bible. We have heard your need and have been diligently working on providing this for you. Exciting news–this is now available AND you have two selections!

Here is the primary information about each option:

Beautiful lined notebook supporting deeper understanding of Scripture when studying the Bible independently. The journals will introduce readers to a simple Bible study method entitled A.M.P.S.

A- Attention                  Allowing God to focus your attention
M- Meaning                   Studying Scripture for full contextual understanding
P- Perspective of God   Pausing to hear and consider the LORD’s point of view

S- Saturation                 Applying Scripture into your current circumstances and daily living

100 pages

2 pages explaining the AMPS format

6 x 9 with soft cover and good quality white paper contents

Fits easily in tote, purse, backpack, etc.

Amazing gift for friends and family

Floral option: http://bitly.ws/uKS8

Black botanical option: http://bitly.ws/uKSd

Something in the works…

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Maybe the title should say…something in the words once you here what is coming!

Let me beginning by saying, this book illustrates an imperfect writer striving to point others to the one and only perfect author, God!

After writing Crown the Sword, I honestly never dreamed of writing another book. I know, I know the book ends with the words “until we meet again”. Maybe I thought God would have me writing short devotion books or something of that nature.

I have started this book several times and then stopped. It didn’t feel just right or the direction was off somehow. He kept drawing me to it though. I knew God wanted me to write about being intentional with Scripture and tips on increasing a relationship with Him and infusing of His Word. Are you kidding God? I am not an expert on anything, especially this!

All I can share is my experience and discovery. I can witness to my own journey in reading, studying, and applying the Bible. It turned my life upside down. I went from being a surface level believer to a God fearing, sold-out lover of Him and His Word. When I finally surrendered to His authority, the living resource I found through Biblical text changed everything. It even birthed the Refining ministry!

I have accepted the fact that God has called me out and asked me to step into a spiritual maturity ministry helping others go BEYOND, to the best of my imperfect ability. Look, I do not have all the answers, but I am willing to share my experiences and gained knowledge. The LORD has impressed upon me the importance of helping others discover effective ways to read, comprehend, pray, and infuse Scripture on an individual level. He wants every believer to be fully equipped, including YOU!

The book is in its rough draft form currently. I would ask you to pray for the days ahead and its revision. Pray that each word within this writing will encourage others to go BEYOND their current Scripture intake level whether it be an occasional visitor or daily reader. May it be an invitation to go BEYOND what people say about the Bible to letting GOD speak a personal message directly to readers through His Word.

If you on own a quest to find an individualized plan to in-depth Bible study and desire to sit at the feet of Jesus absorbing His perspective above and BEYOND all else, this might be the book for you.

May the journey from rough draft to full publication be directed by the hands of the Almighty Father only. Please pray for a hedge of protection in the process because this will impact someone’s life in the days ahead.

Until we meet again…

Noting the Promises of God

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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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (NIV)

In all of your earthly relationships, who do you place the most trust in? Do the words loyal and faith describe their character? Do they primarily have remarkable follow through with their promises to you? Have they or will they let you down at some point?

I once was advised by a church leader to never have expectations of humans, then I would never be disappointed by them. Well, as much as this appears logical, how could one ever develop an intimacy and deep friendship with no expectations?

I am of the opinion most people choose their circle of friends, you know-those beyond acquaintances, based on trust and dependability. Why would you ever entertain a close association with someone if you didn’t have some type of faithful expectations? How could you truly believe what they said or promised if there wasn’t some level of trust?

Good news-you never have to question the promises of the LORD. He is forever constant in fulfilling and has proved this over and over. Just compare Old Testament prophecy to New Testament fulfillment.

His character is steadfast. God is the only relationship delivering constant, dependable trust. It is His character-loyal, faithful, devoted, and reliable. What a privilege to call Him friend.

When reading Scripture, search for those promises made directly by the father. These guarantees and assurances furnish hope on a big scale. Why? Because you can count on it, my friend! Believe it, trust it, and know it will happen. They are oaths made by the LORD himself.

These promises enter our minds as only information as we read and discover them. But, if we take the time to study each one intimately, God exposes His love for us and declares truth we can certainly hang our hat on. (Oops, that might have come from my Texas upbringing) It provides an insight of eternal hope and builds an even greater scale of confidence in the creator of our soul, Elohim.

As you find the promises of the LORD in your independent reading, decide what your plan will be.

  • Will you highlight them a different color than everything else in your Bible?
  • Will you write them in a special journal filled with nothing but God’s promises? (I call this God’s victory file. It comes in handy on those days the enemy is larking and working overtime. It helps call him out for who and what he is, a liar!)
  • Maybe you are a prayer journal lover. You can write the verse/s of promises directly in your prayer journal book with complete reference. Then pray out the promise/s into your life and those around you.

These three ideas are only the beginning to honoring the promises of the father. Each promise is a revelation you can expect to happen. They embody a powerful force, capable of crushing the attempts of evil. (Think about Jesus’ responds when tempted by the enemy.)

I would encourage you to devise a promise plan right for you. Determine a method of noting these assurances. Highlight them, write them, pray them, use them to encourage others, and cling to them for a lifetime. You may already have a strategy working for you in this area. How could you possibly enhance it?

You can always trust God’s assurances to be prevailing, mighty, effective, impressive, and everlasting! Who else delivers such guarantees?

Oh yeah, one more thing-have expectations of the Father. They will always be fulfilled BEYOND human standards and in accordance with His immaculate plan. Pinkie promise! 

GOD IS…

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Have you ever wondered how many names are associated with the LORD? I’m sure there is research out there to solidify a certain number. However, I choose to believe GOD IS…beyond human description. The LORD is so much more than what the human mind cannot comprehend.

One thing I have found is GOD IS…personal for everyone. Although, we all would agree on the “token” names such as Wonderful, All-knowing, LORD Almighty, etc., the LORD wants to be known individually by each person. Our pathways are different and unique no matter the similarities and therefore, GOD IS…defined uniquely for each of us according to His plans and will for our lives.

Many years ago, I was craving to know the LORD beyond what a list could provide. I read book after book written by amazing Christian authors which defined God and His attributes by leaps and bonds. I loved hearing their experiences and life stories BUT, many of these characteristics of the LORD seemed foreign to me. I wanted background, personal understanding, and true encounter with these attributes. I needed God to be real within me and my familiarity to be on a deeper personal level.

So, I stopped reading a lot of those close associations to God’s Word and went straight to the source of truth, the Bible. Let me just say—I found myself crying out to the Holy Spirit over and over for wisdom and discernment. Why? Because I had become very reliant on others to interpret Scripture for me and tell me who GOD IS… I had to learn how to comprehend the Bible on my own and I quickly discovered one deficiency hindering my personal discovery of who GOD IS…

Since 2018, my study habits have immensely evolved. The LORD answered my cry with a simple method to digest His Word and document my discovery of Him. Chapter by chapter, verse by verse, word by word, I am uncovering attributes of the LORD so personal and intimate to me. GOD IS…revealing Himself on such an intense plane. The breakthrough for me is beyond my wildest imagination and my humble plea.

Through intentional study, a true desire to know God more, and a unique note booking discipline, my spiritual life and relationship with the LORD has deepened.

Today, I would like to share with you one small aspect of my approach to discovering who God is. As a work through the Bible book by book, I document my journey by using Scripture Notebooking. (It goes beyond Bible or Scripture journaling) Although I am continually searching for promises, commands, keywords, etc., my focus is discovering who GOD IS… to me within the verses.

This approach is not always direct and many times I find myself pondering a chapter for days. However, God proves faithful in every encounter with His Word. The Holy Spirit guides my thoughts and reveals the LORD to me on a personal level. (some times I have to wait for it longer than I want)

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

I would encourage you to define GOD IS…on a personal basis for you by approaching Scripture differently. Let your journey through the Bible bring you closer to the LORD and give you a description of Himself beyond the token answers. Grab your Bible and simply start. God is waiting for you.

WHY ONLINE BIBLE STUDY?

Our online Bible studies are created for women JUST LIKE YOU! Why? Because we know the struggle of staying motivated and actively engaged with God and His Word.

Refining provides you simple and practical ways to not only interact with the LORD and His written voice, but to also grow in relationship with Him. If you are ready to spiral deeper into God’s Word and discover creative elements to getting to know the LORD, then come give us a try!

We invite you to find community with women just like you. This is a safe & confidential place to thrive with a group of like-minded friends and the added plus is it does not matter where you live! You are invited to corporately study with us as we spend one hour a week in Scripture on Zoom sharing and learning together. Bonus feature-It is FREE! Even our snapshot sheets like the one above! No charge.

Ladies, you have many options when it comes to online Bible study and many choices are cost associated. Refining Ministry simply exists as a service to you. The online Bible studies are strictly here to assist you. Let us show you how to design your own Scripture plan and develop your skills with proven tips, tools, and methods we have found beneficial on many levels.

Our next study begins June 6th! Come give it a try. Email us at refiningjourney@gmail.com for the link, handout, and details.

FREE & FABULOUS: Bible Study Tips-Part 4

Hello & Happy Holiday weekend! Before we jump into the FREE & FABULOUS series, I feel it is necessary to take a moment to pause…

The sorrow, pain, disbelief, anger, fear, and heartbreak are overwhelming. Locally, the week began with two less people and now the week ends with the loss of over 20 lives on a state level. For me, I have very little words-the grief leaves me speechless. While studying Amos this week, I read “prayer is a powerful privilege” and that was made evident through the prayers of Amos. I will cling to the faith that our prayers for all involved and effected by these shooting incidents will be provided the greatest level of comfort, healing, and hope. Father God, hear our prayers.

It was through loss and trials for half a decade that brought me to the place where I am today. Although I never want anyone to experience the deep dark pit and pain, it produced an amazing treasure and drive. It developed a steadfast love for God’s Word like never before and sparked a spiritual maturity ministry, Refining. May the LORD be glorified in all things!

Thanks to technology-we have plethora Bible study aids at our fingertips! Some are simple, easy to find, and user friendly while others take a little more know how.

We have been taking a few minutes after our Monday night online Bible study classes and investigating one resource a week. This week I shared a complicated website I use for Greek/Hebrew word study. Once I saw their reactions, I knew Bible study tip #4 would NOT be this one. 😊    

So…drum roll please…Tip #4 has a fun name-Bible Hub! This study source has over 15 versions of the Bible. It has NIV, NLT, AMP, and ESV, most used ones by our online participants. It is also a multilingual resource!

Let’s dig in.

WHAT IS IT?  It is a great FREE website, or you can download the FREE app. They refer to themselves as an online Bible study suite because they have concordances, commentaries, encyclopedias, dictionaries, sermons, timelines, atlas, devotionals, etc. Bible Hub promotes its site as a quick reference to topical, Greek, and Hebrew study tools. The resource itself is elementary in its layout because everything offered is represented on the main page. Don’t be afraid of the acronyms-just hover over them and they reveal exactly what they are.

What captures me the most is their mission:

1) Increase the visibility and accessibility of the Scriptures online.
2) Provide free access to Bible study tools in many languages.
3) Promote the Gospel of Christ through the learning, study, and application of God’s word.

WHY I USE IT? This website gives me an easy-to-use online resource to ‘unfold’ the main verse I want to research more throughout my week. First, I select SUM to read the complete summary of the book. Next, I click on OUT and receive a complete outline of the book. How easy is that! This provides me an understanding of where this verse falls within the overall layout of the message on the Bible book.

Then, I compare versions of the passage on one page by selecting Parallel. It also provides context and cross references for the selected verse. Finally, there is the word study option. You will either see Hebrew or Greek as an option. Once I click on this, the entire verse breaks down into word parts and the original language, spelling, and meaning appears. (WHAT? All on one site!)

Of course, the website doesn’t stop there. There are sermons, concordances, atlas, commentaries, etc. available to help deepen your understanding.

I have grown to love this site because it aligns with my spiritual discipline of drilling down into a verse to discover meaning, cross references, original language, Biblical examples, attributes of God, and direct personal understanding. (Sidenote: I am invested in Scripture Notebooking) It is a wonderful supplement to my study Bible and is not complicated to utilize.

HOW TO USE IT?

TRY IT: https://biblehub.com/

  1. Go to the site. Click on your preferred translation. Then type in Zechariah 1:3 in the search box. Hit enter.
  2. Now click on the word Parallel. You will see different versions, context (verse before and after), cross references, a commentary, then the verse broken into the original language/meaning (Hebrew).

What do you think? Can you believe it is all in one place? Don’t forget to try the SUM and OUT features. Remember the Bible is NOT in chronological order, so the TIM feature will give you a timeline so you can quickly see where the Bible book falls accordingly.

No special training needed for this my friends. All you need is a little time to click and discover. There is much more to investigate but I am happy to find this website mainly because of the word study it provides.

Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you intentionally drill down into a highlighted verse each week. I would encourage you to approach God’s Word daily by expecting a beautiful revelation of hope, a loving guidance to life, and a new depth of understanding of GOD, the one who loves you the most.

Hug those in your life…find joy in every moment…treasure your relationship with the LORD!

Happy Bible Study journey!!   Until we meet again.

Personal Study of the Bible: I Don’t Know How!

Is there a deficiency in teaching when it comes to Bible Study skills?

Have you ever wanted to do something, but didn’t know how? Think about it-roller blading, swimming, driving, etc. For me, I have always dreamed of ice skating. However, I don’t know how! AND I don’t dare try to do so on my own! WHY? I feel incompetent and inadequate.

I would dare to say most of us have to experience some basic type of instruction and training to learn a new skill. Think about this…We attend school most of our childhood to simply become a productive citizen and function in society. Seems as though this alone takes 13 to 17+ years!

So why do we just assume people know how to study the Bible on their own? God’s Word is the #1 life manual, yet there is little emphasis placed on training others how to study the Bible in many churches past and present.

NO matter our level of knowledge or experience, we are forever students of Scripture, growing in relationship with the Father, and strengthening our faith day by day. Therefore, why not come together in unity and share how to study God’s Word? When will we see the importance of teaching others basic Bible study skills? Will it be time consuming? Could it take more than a year? Is it time for a change?

TRANSPARENCY: I have been in church all my life. Never was I taught how to truly study the Bible and utilize it as a helpmate. Even as an adult I struggled with digging deeper, knowing how to go from text to life transformation, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead, infusing God’s beautiful guide into my everyday living, and so much more… I didn’t know how! I heard the suggestions from the pulpit, but no one ever got down to the “nitty gritty” and shared their strategies nor took the time to teach the “how to” of personal Bible study.

Out of sheer desperation for half a decade, I searched high and low to teach myself how to study and infuse God’s Word. I watched videos, enrolled in “how to” courses, read a ton of books, and tried a multitude of things! I refused to accept my deficiency and I took full ownership of my training needs.

The realization of my lack of training has placed a fire within me for others who struggle knowing how to study the Bible on their own. I never want anyone to experience my feelings of inadequacy and lack of skills.  

Please understand—I am NOT an expert in the field by far!!! I am just an ordinary person with lots of experience-failures & successes, who has a heart to walk alongside others and share some of the tried-and-true methods to studying the Bible on your own. This is how Refining Ministry began.

Refining Ministry strives to bless others by showing them how to go beyond the text. We know the importance of sharing simple Bible study tools and methods to assist in transitioning from accumulating knowledge to living under Biblical authority and encountering a true and lasting transformation the LORD promises!

We would love to hear from you and your thoughts. It is our hope that you will prayerfully approach this subject and ponder its importance regarding growing in relationship with God for all levels.

Does your church offer “How to Study the Bible” classes? Is this something you can facilitate? Would you like to increase your own “how to” knowledge? How can we each take ownership in a change for future generations?

Come join one of our retreats, workshops, or online Bible studies. Reach out to us if you might have an interest in sponsoring a workshop in your area. Let us share with you some of the ways we have found to go beyond the text and keep the spiritual journey fresh and personal.

We believe GOD IS…the most valuable investment along with His Word!

We cannot wait to equip you with ways to enhance your personal Bible study.

FREE & FABULOUS: Bible Study Tips-Part 3

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And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (Colossians 1:9 ESV)

Welcome back to our FREE & FABULOUS series! I might should have entitled this Part #1/2 so it would line up in number order in which I typically use these tidbits to study. 😊  SOO…with that being said-we hope you enjoy this series of Bible Study tips and use them in any order you like.

Tip #3 (or tip #1/2) is for anyone who wants a general overview to begin a study for an entire book of the Bible. I enjoy having a brief introduction to the author, timeframe, location, original audience, etc. Since the Bible isn’t in chronological order, I tend to need a bit of background information and overview to get started. Thanks to technology and wonderful resources, these things can be available at a click of a button!

Let me introduce BibleProject About BibleProject | BibleProject™

WHAT IS IT?  It is a great FREE resource for a quick overview to any book of the Bible by going direct to their website. Also, they are easily assessable through YouTube OR you can experience these animated snapshots through the YouVersion app on a mobile device.

These videos are valuable resources because they are understandable, quick, and engaging. This non-profit organization created a simple way for Scripture to be introduced without any religious denominational twist. The visual storytelling resource has only been around since 2014, but their audience has grown tremendously to over two-million viewers!!! WOW!  

WHY I USE IT? I am far from a history buff! As a matter of fact, it is one of my least favorite things. However, once I began my journey of strengthening my relationship with God through the authority of His Word, my outlook on Biblical history changed completely. The quick summary helps me connect with the passage by knowing the purpose of the book, the main message, a short outline, and the writer’s delivery. These animated stories allow me to visualize the Scripture, the theme, and details which I feel I might otherwise miss through just reading through the book on my own.

It sets the tone for me. My mind begins to ask questions and my curiosity delivers motivation to dig deeper. Honestly, it is like a trailer to a new movie for me! It seems to always be action packed with a plot which leads my heart, eyes, ears, mind, and spirit to Jesus.

HOW TO USE IT?

  1. Click on Watch: Bible Book Overview Videos | BibleProject™
  2. Choose Old or New Testament
  3. Select the book of the Bible
  4. A short-written summary is given for each overview. If the video goes a bit too fast for you. Pause it-replay it-take notes-remember this is a study resource to use the way you need it.

TRY IT: Choose Amos

-Did you picture Amos looking like this?

-Can you feel the complacency from the way Jeroboam was displayed?

-What were your thoughts when the chapters were broke into three categories? Will this help you digest the material?

-Were there unknowns or concerns the video exposed?

This is what you should see:

Now this is just the beginning to Bible Project’s offerings. They have information on how to read the Bible, themes, word studies, visual commentaries, book collection videos, podcasts, bible studies, and so much more!!!

EXAMPLE OF A BIBLE STUDY: Since we have been on a journey in 2022 Discovering God Beyond the Text with our retreats, workshops, and online studies, the bible study concerning God’s attributes captured my attention. Here is the information given on the website, “Would you and your group like to learn more about God’s faithfulness? Download the BibleProject app and explore the Character of God Study, where we dive into five attributes of God that are repeated throughout the story of the Bible.” After reading this introduction, Refining may need to plan a Fall Kick-Off with this study! Would you be interested?

Once again, here is another FREE resource jam packed with a visual type of learning based solely on God’s Word! For me, it is always a welcoming way to gear up for another full book study of the Bible. It has been extremely helpful in our Major Wisdom through Minor Prophets series.

Do you have a consistent group where you strictly study God’s Word chapter by chapter each week? Share these Bible study tips with them.

If you are looking for a group, email us at refiningjourney@gmail.com. We meet every Monday night via zoom for only one hour beginning at 6:00 p.m. (CST) TOO BUSY to interact-driving home from work during this time-delivering kids to events-cooking dinner-no problem-hop on and listen. The LORD knows life can be demanding, but He loves it when we are creative and intentional in the ways we choose to know Him more.

We are truly here for you. It is our desire to walk alongside you and grow in knowledge and faith with the LORD.

Happy Bible Study journey! We will chat soon.    

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