August 30, 2018

Time to Cultivate {guest post & giveaway}

Happy Thursday! I’m excited to introduce you to my friend, Jill Beran. She has poured many prayers and words of encouragement into my life through the years, for which I’m so grateful. Jill is a mom and wife and lives on a farm in Iowa. One of my favorite things about Jill are the Bible teachings she shares from life on their farm. Her stories bring God’s Word alive for me in fresh ways.

It’s been a joy to watch Jill grow and develop her gift as a Bible teacher. Today, I’m delighted to share one of her lessons from the farm and share her new Bible study, ReNEWal Road – The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus.

Jill is giving away a copy of her study so be sure to enter to win below!

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ReNEWal Road – The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus. A Bible study by Jill Beran.

It’s cultivating time here on the farm. If you were to stop by, you’d find my husband busily cultivating the beans we’ve planted in the field. It’s a task I associate with Iowa soil, and one I know involves work and takes time. Though you may not live on a farm, cultivating is something we all should do! Yours just might not be in a field in Iowa!

Because of the easy access to chemicals and fertilizers, many farmers find they don’t need to cultivate their fields. They take the easier and faster route. But, since we’re raising organic crops, chemicals aren’t an option. My husband must engage in the tedious task of cultivating 12 rows at a time, using equipment that churns up the dirt and removes the weeds, so the crop can grow.

While I watch my husband cultivate our crops, I picture God doing the same with my heart. Cultivating my heart takes time. It involves work and requires effort on my part. It isn’t something that happens with the flip of a switch; it’s hard work, but it brings results!

Cultivating the soil removes weeds from our fields just as cultivating our hearts removes lies, bad attitudes and wrong thoughts from our minds.

Cultivating also tills up the soil, so new growth can occur. Just as at times it would be easier for my husband to use chemicals and raise our crops conventionally, it’s tempting for us to pursue an easier way to connect with God. But, God desires a personal relationship with us. A deep and abiding relationship. There’s no quick way to make that happen, and no one else can do it for us.

In order to do his cultivating, my husband needs a tractor and a cultivator. We need two things as well … quiet time and God’s Word. Our Bible is the main piece of equipment we need – it’s our most powerful tool. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God’s Word can do more work than my husband’s John Deere will ever do, but we have to open it and be receptive to what He has to say!!

Finally, God also brought to mind that my husband cultivated the same field last year, and his dad did the same many years ago. Each new year, the work had to be done again. Cultivating isn’t a task we do once and consider it done, and the same is true for our hearts. Each season, actually every day of every season, we need to cultivate the soil of our hearts. Only then will new growth take place.

Every year my husband’s goal is to produce a better yield than he did the year before. Shouldn’t we do the same as disciples of Christ? If we want to grow closer to Christ and do more to glorify our Abba Father, our hearts must grow closer to His, and that won’t happen unless we get the cultivating done!

The Giveaway

Giveaway now closed. Jill was so blessed by all of your comments that she is giving away two copies of her book! Congrats Vonnie Kronk and Heidi (hamoth). Please check your email for more information from my assistant, Kim Stewart.

Are you looking for a study that will get you into God’s Word and allow Him to do some cultivating? We’re giving away a copy of Jill’s study, ReNEWal Road – The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus. Leave a comment with a verse that God has used to change your heart or simply say, “I’m in!” and we’ll enter you in the drawing! U.S. Addresses only please. Winner will be announced here on Friday, September 7.

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Jill Beran is a farmer’s wife, homeschooling mom to 5, and Bible teacher. When she’s not picking rocks or pulling weeds, she enjoys coaching basketball, serving in women’s ministry and writing. You can connect with Jill at Titus24U.

August 23, 2018

Back to School Thoughts and a Prayer

Are you like me as the first day of school draws near? A myriad of emotions overwhelm me each and every time. First it was elementary school. Then middle school. Then high school. Now it’s college.

Part of me is ready for my kids to head back to school … to have a routine again … to have time to myself again. But, the other part of me misses the lazy days, trips to the beach, movies in the middle of the day, lounging by the pool, staying up late playing games, and just plain being together.

Yesterday, my youngest, Bo (almost 21), started his junior in college. My oldest, Lauren (almost 25), works full time in Atlanta and just got engaged! I can’t believe I’m the mother of a bride, ya’ll. Really, girls, I don’t feel that old!!

Time has gone by so quickly. It seems only yesterday, I was pushing them around Target in the shopping cart … Lauren in her princess gown and sparkly shoes and Bo donning his Bob the Builder tools.

As September presses in, my heart finds itself divided again. Joy filling one half for the good things that lie ahead for both my babies this year. The other half aching for that which will never be again.

But, over the years, I’ve learned to trust God’s ways. Mama’s sending their babies off  is the way it’s supposed to be. God loans them to us for a time, and then they’re His.

It’s a never-ending cycle for us mamas. Whether it’s kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, weddings or grandbabies.

What brings me peace is knowing our children will never be alone. Our heavenly Father promises He will never leave them or forsake them. He promises He will be with them every minute of every day…

He knows when they sit and when they rise
He perceives their thoughts from afar 
He discerns their going out and their lying down
He is familiar with all their ways.
Before a word is on their tongue He knows it completely…

Where can they go from His Spirit
Where can they flee from His Presence? (Psalm 139)

He is with them.

I read further…

All the days ordained for them were written in His book before one of them came to be!

God is in control. Our God, the Author of Life, the Blessed Controller of All Things, the Sovereign God of the Universe, is in complete control of our babies. Hallelujah!

Below, please find a prayer I wrote and shared on my blog many years ago. I thought I’d share it again. Please personalize it for you and your family and make it your own.

Heavenly Father, I praise You as the Creator of every good and perfect gift … the greatest of those gifts is my children. Thank You for Your promises in Psalm 139. Will You keep my mind fixed on those promises as I send my precious ones, Lauren and Bo, to school tomorrow. Father, please hide Your Word in their hearts so that when they need to recall a Truth, it will be there. Will You make it their greatest desire to please and obey you in all they say and do? Father, will You teach them in the midst of pressures at school and with peers to trust in You with all their hearts and lean NOT on their own understanding and to acknowledge You in all their ways. Keep Lauren and Bo pure by leading them to live according to Your Word. Give them thankful hearts. Clothe them in humility and teach them to put others first. Father, will You grow them in wisdom, and stature, and favor with You and with man? Teach them to say, “This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it,” no matter what their days may hold. I ask this all in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

I pray this prayer for all of our children!

As tears fall from my cheeks, I’m so thankful for you, my friend! I know that I’m not alone. If you have kids going back to school, I’d love to hear your thoughts and prayers. Leave a verse that brings you comfort or a prayer you pray.

August 13, 2018

4 Scriptures for When You Need a Personal God

Hey friends, I’m SO excited to share my friend Jennifer Rothschild’s new study with you!! Jennifer is one of my favorite Bible teachers because she teaches God’s Word with an intimate, tender voice that I find rare among Bible teachers. Her deep love of God’s Word, and passion for everyone she encounters to know and love that Word, is contagious. So, without further delay, enjoy these wise words from Jennifer as she shares from her new LifeWay Bible Study, Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me.

Plus, she’s giving away a copy of her Bible study book to one of you (read to the end)!

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Do you have any special memories that come up when you read, hear, or think of Psalm 23?

Maybe it was granny’s favorite Psalm. Or maybe it was read at the funeral of someone you love. You may have seen it on a plaque or memorized it as a child.

This passage stirs up all sorts of emotions, doesn’t it?

David, who wrote this Psalm, tells us in the first verse, “The Lord is my…” He then finishes it with “shepherd.”

Think about the word “my.” The verse doesn’t say that the Lord is “a” shepherd or “our” shepherd. It says He is “my” shepherd. To me, “my” means personal possession.

Just ask any toddler. “My” means that toy belongs to me. It is covered with my drool, practically crushed in my little fist, and treasured as if it is the only toy I have. It is my personal possession.

David talks about God as if God belonged to him and he belonged to God. In other words, the relationship is intimate, safe, and permanent.

Sister, do you, like David, talk about God as if He belongs to you and you belong to Him? Is God personal to you?

When I think of the Lord as my shepherd, I feel safe with Him. I see how He has guided me through green pastures and dark valleys. And, to be honest, when I really lean on Him as my shepherd, I feel the freedom to be as needy and dependent as a sheep.

Psalm 23 is not an arm’s length, past-tense, wouldn’t-it-be-nice kind of passage. It is personal. It is a right here, right now, up-close passage about you and your Shepherd.

But “shepherd” is just one way to illustrate God’s character. There are many other verses in the Bible that also describe how the Lord is a personal God to you.

Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me by Jennifer Rothschild. A LifeWay Bible Study,.

Maybe today you need to be reminded of how the Lord is a personal God. Here are four Scripture passages to get you started.

1. The Lord Is My Portion

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.
 (Psalm 16:5, NASB)

When you consider the Lord is your portion, you’re reminded that He is all you need. In all the areas of your life where you may feel insufficient or weak, sister, He is enough.

2. The Lord Is My Rock

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
 (Psalm 18:2, NASB)

With the Lord as your rock, you learn that He will stabilize and ground you when life feels shaky. And when He steadies you, oh girl, you are steadfast and unshakeable.

3. The Lord Is My Salvation

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
 (Psalm 27:1, NASB)

When you consider the Lord is your salvation, you take refuge in Him. You run to Him and He welcomes you, defends you, protects you, and preserves your life.

4. The Lord Is My Strength

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.
 (Psalm 28:7, NASB)

The Lord is your strength and helps you deal with the fears that rise up in you. He gives you what you need to make it through whatever the day brings.

When Scripture tells you that the Lord is your shepherd, your portion, your rock, your salvation, your strength … Scripture is shouting the truth with the intensity of a 3-year-old, “The Lord is mine! My shepherd, my portion, my rock, my strength. Mine!”

I love that!

He is a right-now, up-close, personal God to you, sister. And He cares for you.

Jennifer’s new Bible study, Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me will help you explore the depths of God’s care for you tucked in the psalm you’ve always loved. Through August 31, get a free audio download bundle with purchase of Jennifer’s Bible study book.

 

Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me by Jennifer Rothschild. A LifeWay Bible Study,.

The Giveaway

Giveaway now closed – 9/14/18 congrats Marilyn (Mgoingone) – please check your email for more details from my assistant, Kim Stewart.

How are these qualities of God’s character personal to you? Do you have any additional verses that remind you how personal He is? Share in the comments below, and one reader will win a copy of Jennifer’s new study. U.S. Addresses only please. Winner announced here Monday, August 20.