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Dots and Dashes by: Robin Gonzales

Photo by Jc Laurio on Pexels.com

Hello friends. Mine is a voice you don’t hear too often unless you join us weekly for Refining’s bible studies online.

I have recently retired from the job I had for what I like to call the second act of life. The first act was my childhood, young adult life, and motherhood. As I begin the third act, I have had a chance to sit back, relax, think, and adjust to the new normal. It is a bit strange, but also very exciting as God moves me in a new direction.

I have realized all of the things prior to now have been my training ground for things to come. . .

Have you ever identified with a Bible character? Refining recently finished the book of Amos. He was an ordinary person who loved God and wanted to share what he had learned. I really identified with him. He was an ordinary guy (farmer of fig trees and goat herder). God called him to go and speak to his people.

Amos was much like people we know: our pastor and his wife, a great prayer warrior, the spiritually gifted song leader or friend. Some of them even fortunate enough to receive specialized training; yet all of them, including you and me, are in the school of the Holy Ghost. A specialized training for God.

As we each receive our training under the Holy Spirit’s authority, He has been given several tasks to ensure our instruction. His job is to purify, consecrate, and set us apart to bring honor to Christ and empower us to witness to others.

You may be asking-so exactly how does He go about this? The Holy Spirit works within you and changes you by the dots and dashes of ordinary life-every situation, circumstance, and relationship.

__ __ * ___ ___ ___ __ ** ** *** * ___ ** ___ ___ ___ ***_ *

The small dots are everyday life. How you react to people and circumstances: putting the grocery cart back where it belongs, stopping when the light turns yellow instead of running it, not interrupting people when they are talking. And maybe changing the things you like to listen to, read, watch, who you hang out with, or the places you want to go.

The larger dashes are challenges in life. Maybe not enough money to pay the rent this month so you have to lean into faith that God will direct and make a way. Or it could be life has gotten really busy, you are feeling stretched, and you are having to lean into God’s peace to help you sort out, prioritize and eliminate what is not essential. Maybe you are wanting a spouse, family, new car, house, or job and God is making you sit in the waiting room because He has not released you to move forward.

Those dashes even include times when we have flat line seasons filled with suffering. You know, those times when it is hard to see more than a few inches in front of you and usually filled with loss and hardship. Death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job, or serious illness. These are the times when we seem to recognize God really showing up and even seeing ourselves grow in faith by leaps and bounds.

Yes, the dots and dashes of life. The training ground for the Holy Spirit. It is these areas in life where we learn to listen, be still, discover perseverance, and grow in relationship with the LORD. But, why does it seem as though the most growth occurs during times of struggle and hardship?

God would love for us to lean into him and grow without the hurt and pain. So, what keeps us from doing so? Maybe the problem is we become “too busy” living life when things are good. We don’t look for God or spend time in His Word. We forget to pray or thank him for all of the blessings we are enjoying. We become complacent and prideful thinking we have everything under control.  

But when God pulls away just a little, and allows us go our own way, we fall very short and things go wrong. It is then we begin to look around and realize we have forgotten our first love, the one who cares for us, and our need for him in all things. THEN…we look up and call out!

And being the good Father that he is, God steps in…

now we are back on the pathway of learning and growing in faith.

As we continue to walk with the LORD and follow God’s leading, our relationship begins to mature. We learn to be good students of a master teacher, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit works within us (and does it quite well I might add) and over time we become people the Holy Spirit can use to draw others to Christ.

When we become aligned with God’s will, we become plugged into the Holy Spirit’s mighty power to turn our dots and dashes into a glorious testimony for God’s kingdom.

Yes, we are all enrolled in the Spirit’s training when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior. There is no doubt, the Holy Spirit is working! When we tap into His power there are NO LIMITS to where God can take us and who we can reach for His kingdom. Every dot and dash along with all the gifts and abilities we have been gifted and the Holy Spirit within us, we can truly do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).

So, during this Pentecost season, let us remember God sent His Spirit to empower us to do even greater things than He himself did while he was in human form on the earth (John 14:12).

Just imagine the possibilities because of our dots and dashes!

__ __ * ___ ___ ___ __ ** ** *** * ___ ** ___ ___ ___ ***_ *

Is TRUE GRIT in the spiritual growth equation?

What do you think of when you hear the words “True Grit”? Your mind might go directly to the movie or possibly a particular person. Regardless, I think we can all agree it is defined as passionate perseverance committed for the long haul and at all costs. True grit has its ups and downs, difficulties, celebrations, failures, and even stagnation, yet somehow success comes in the end.   

Take the human body. How physically evident can true grit be seen when someone changes their eating habits and begins an intensive workout plan. Over time the sweat, dedication, and effort become a reward. The body starts to reflect the hard work and success is seen.

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.” Proverbs 4:25-26

Well, what about our spiritual growth? Does God require true grit? Can we have a close walk with the LORD without it?

As I have been studying the minor prophet books, I am seeing over and over that a walk with the LORD takes work and dedication. It is difficult at best to stay committed to the LORD. Being in God’s remnant goes beyond faith. It requires us to find ourselves in His plan and dig deep within to stay committed and steadfast when everyone around is doing the opposite. Let’s be honest, worldly ways are appealing and have been through human existence.   

Personally, I have found studying the Word of God requires sincere true grit. I haven’t always felt this way though.

It took a deep valley to make me evaluate my core and what made me tick! Yep-getting honest and asking myself, “Are you going to keep living for you or get serious about following the LORD’s road map?” It took some major humility, surrender, and many years of getting it wrong before I realized the importance of living life under the authority of God’s Word.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.'” Lamentations 3:22-24

SO, when I was finally ready, I realized I could not carry out my spiritual journey without truly knowing God’s Word. Now I don’t mean just reading, being exposed, and listening. I mean having true grit to find God in the pages. It took me placing value on this incredible gift-the Bible and realizing I needed help simply studying God’s Word on my own!

Bit by bit, I am learning. I am not by far a scholar!  As I gain knowledge, I am slowly realizing this fact: Scripture is supplying the breath in my spiritual walk and God doesn’t want me living without it.   

You and I are on a pathway of life my friends. No matter the distance we have come or still must go, our sanctification requires commitment, dedication, work, time, perseverance, encouragement, community, sweat, tears, a humble heart, and so much more. It all starts within…a word of faith in Christ’s saving grace and then…TRUE GRIT!

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

How committed are you to studying Scripture? Do you crave it more than the air you breathe? If you knew for a fact it was the only supply of oxygen for your spiritual life, would you learn how to tap into it more?

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Success begins with doing-and yes failing too. Don’t be discouraged my friend. Go ahead-take the next step on the pathway. Keep moving forward. Seek ways to stay motivated, keep learning, and continually growing in relationship with the LORD. And above all-REMEMBER, God loves you far beyond your wildest imagination. He even left His love story written in a book for you to know Him more.

Embrace His Word with TRUE GRIT!

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

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.    

FREE & FABULOUS: Bible Study Tips-Part 1

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Happy Friday Friends! Welcome to our FREE & FABULOUS series to help you discover fresh new ways to strengthen your personal Bible Study. Just like you, we are continually searching for tips to assist our personal study of God’s Word. Regardless of the techniques you incorporate during your personal study of God’s Word, it is always fun to discover FREE online study tools to deepen your understanding.

We love FREE! And-what is better than ONLINE & FREE? Just like you-we understand a limited budget and need for convenience. We invite you to walk alongside of us for the next few weeks as we investigate some great resources available to enhance your quiet time in God’s Word.

Let me introduce Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com/

WHAT IS IT?  A website where you can search, read, and/or listen to various translations of the Bible as well as different language offerings. It provides a variety of ways to study and engage with Scripture, reading plans, mobile apps, keyword search, topical index, signup for daily devotionals & newsletters, audio series, blog posts, recent podcasts, and so much more!  

WHY I USE IT? This online resource is my first go to when focusing on a particular verse which stood out to me each week. (Sidenote: I use a Scripture Notebooking plan) Bible Gateway gives me a quick way to read/listen to another translation outside of my study Bible. I love the ease of use and how readily available numerous translations are at my fingertips.

HOW TO USE IT?

  1. Enter your passage location, keyword, or topic AND select the translation.
  2. You can even select all English translations once the passage is revealed.

TRY IT: type in 1 John 1:1 and select NIV (hit the search button)

You will see the verse and an option to read the entire chapter. Also, you will have the opportunity to view 1 John 1:1 in all English translations. At the click of a button-every English translation is listed on one entire page! 

  • Use the advanced search option to the left and you will be given cross references and footnotes!

This is what you should see:

That which was from the beginning,(A) which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,(B) which we have looked at and our hands have touched(C)—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

Read full chapter

Cross references

  1. 1 John 1:1 : S Jn 1:2
  2. 1 John 1:1 : S Lk 24:48; Jn 1:14; 19:35; Ac 4:20; 2Pe 1:16; 1Jn 4:14
  3. 1 John 1:1 : Jn 20:27
  • Type in keywords and/or topics and choose your translation

This will give you the OT & NT verses which include the word or topic. I will occasional use this feature if a particular word or attribute of God becomes apparent when reading the various translations. I don’t necessarily use this site for word study, but I do use it for cross referencing.

SO, there is your first FREEBIE for our Bible Study tips. Give it a try. See what you like best. I only touched the surface of what the website has to offer. Remember, I am limited in full knowledge of this free resource because I only use it for a quick reference for other translations and cross references when studying a particular Scripture.

Let us hear from you. We would love to know what you find helpful when using Bible Gateway.

Looking forward to sharing more with you soon.

Happy Bible Study journey!!   

3 Major Steps in Maintaining Spiritual Growth

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Joy, peace, faith, hope — these spiritual blessings are ours if Christ lives in us. These spiritual qualities are indestructible because they have their source in Christ, who is always with us. Because we cannot lose Christ, our spiritual blessings are secure. -Ephesians 1:3

In many of Paul’s letters, such as Thessalonians, he encourages believers to strive for spiritual maturity. His words are always precisely written, and his message has a way of spurring others to embrace sanctification.

As I reflect on Apostle Paul’s writings, I find myself measuring my own pathway and process of being purified by Christ. I wonder what Paul’s message would be if he penned a letter to me. What areas would he address? What clarifications would he need to include? Where would he need to reveal reproof?

Have you ever wondered what your letter might include? What comes to mind when you think about your spiritual growth?

Transparency moment: There was once a time in my life where sanctification seemed like a long list of what to do and not to do. The process felt heavy even though I knew God was the one purifying my life.

I didn’t have a problem embracing the deliberate action on my part, but I became overwhelmed with all the to dos. It was paralyzing. (Remember, I am the queen of doing nothing when I don’t know precisely what to do or how to begin!)   

Over the years I have learned that God is more concerned about my relationship with Him and the intentionality of my heart than all those to dos and not to dos. He wants me to focus on who He truly is and direct all my efforts towards His purpose.

Let me share with you three major areas I have found essential in maintaining spiritual growth:

  1. Continually seeking a more accurate view of God. The more I get to know the LORD’s attributes and characteristics, the less I depend on myself. My view of God is so skewed by my human mind’s eye. However, as I intentionally strive to see Him more clearly and grow to understand His holiness, power, and love, I find myself surrendering more and more to Him. WHY? Because a deeper level of trust, intimacy, and worship develops. Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. -1 Peter 1:3-4
  2. Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead. The LORD gave each of us a helpmate living within once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. However, it takes a conscience effort to listen the quiet voice and humble our steps, thoughts, actions, etc. to the discernment of the Holy Spirit. For me, this is essential in my spiritual maturity. I must daily lay down my fleshy desires and permit the Holy Spirit to guide my entire being. This is an ongoing process just like getting to know the LORD intimately.  Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. -Galatians 5:16,17
  3. Spending time in God’s Word. The LORD gave the gift of His words. Throughout Scripture, He reveals Himself to us and provides a life manual for us. Our sanctification progress depends on our deliberate action to read, study, seek understanding, pray, and apply the Bible. …yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. -Colossians 1:22

If you feel overwhelmed by all the “to dos”, understand God never wanted your relationship with Him to be complicated. He is a relational father who is gracious and loving. Take it minute by minute. Get to know Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal who the LORD really is and your role in God’s plans. Stay in His Word and let it transform your life.

If we were to receive a letter from Paul today, I think his main message would be:

Stay consistent-

know God, rely on Him, and live under His biblical authority.

Scripture Praying-Could it be the secret to a Healthy Mind?

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HELLO! It has been a hot minute since I have written. Why? March came in like a lion in many ways-family, friends, health, ministry, etc. BUT GOD! He continues to shine through regardless of the outcome. God is working, directing, pruning, and so much more.

The LORD has been prompting me for quite some time to dig deeper in my intentionality. (that sounds like a token phrase!) Let me jump right to what God has been saying-“You value my word and you know the power of it-why don’t you pray it more? If you believe My word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path-why aren’t you learning how to truly rely on it and allow it to direct your prayers?”

Transparency Moment: When I feel reproof and the Holy Spirit nudging I will do one of two things: 1) Nothing because when I don’t know what to do or how to do it so I tend to do nothing at all, or 2) Jump Right In and give it my all! I know-the two are polar opposite, but this is how I typically respond.

So, in order for me to go forward and keep my YES posture before the LORD, I flat out asked God-WHY? Why now oh LORD when so much has flooded life recently? The only response I kept receiving was WHY NOT?

Today, I want to share with you what God revealed. As I began typing out the words flooding my mind, I thought about the Bible and prayer individually.

Scripture

The Bible is a helpmate given by the LORD. It is a significant resource and assurance of God’s promises. As you grow in scriptural knowledge and explore biblical methods for real life application, these affirmations help build a foundation for your faith and hope in the LORD.

In Isaiah 55:11, we are reminded that God’s words were sent with a purpose and should be highly valued. These assurances are to remind you of the transformational power found in Him and to guide you in building an everlasting relationship through trusting in His word.

Prayer

What a privilege to talk directly to God 24/7. Think about it…total and complete access to the creator of the universe! Not only that, but He desires to be in full conversation with you. WOW!

Then, I placed them together:

As I began to ponder praying Scripture, God said, “Imagine the joy and peace of mind you could have you if you would press into My word and allow Scripture to direct your prayer life. This is a gift, another door to open. I have designed the very words in the Bible to help you learn how to submit to My will in a way you have not intentionally done before. I want you to experience disciplined prayer. I desire for you to display your faith and confidence in Me by praying My Word. Also, I need you to use Scripture to keep your requests in alignment with My plans, not your will. Come learn how to pray Scripture my child. Let it guide your thoughts with My perspective and strengthen your reliance on Me. WHY? Because I love you and want to give your mind peace beyond your current understanding.”

And so, I am on a journey allowing the LORD to direct my focus when I pray. I am reading Scripture with a different viewpoint. As I spend time in the Bible, I am learning to let the Holy Spirit lead and allowing God’s Word to determine the subject of my prayers. I am embracing the growth mindset in the father and trying to learn a strong biblical means to deepen my personal relationship with the lover of my soul.

The peace of mind has been freeing. WHY? Because I am learning how to give up control-but that’s another story!

SIGN UP DEADLINE is July 8th! GOD IS…Retreat in North Carolina

Come to the beautiful North Carolina mountain town of Burnsville for a unique experience deepening your personal discovery of who GOD IS. What better way to expand your spiritual connection with the LORD than to spend a weekend encountering Him in a variety of ways. Your time will be filled with fun, laughter, learning, Scripture, prayer, and so much more. This is your opportunity to getaway, grow in relationship with the Father, and clearly define who GOD IS for you.

Speakers: Kris Swiatocho, Genna Stotts and Robin Gonzales

Dates: July 29th-31st, 2022

Cost: $210 for the weekend; includes 4 meals; Daily attendee option of $75 plus extra cost for meals.

Go to www.GodIsRetreat.org for all the details.

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