Putting Together the Pieces

My grandmother has always loved to work jigsaw puzzles.  I have many fond memories of us spending hours in front of a puzzle working well into the night to finish the picture.  Even today at the age of 91 with her being almost completely blind and dealing with Alzheimer’s, she still sits for hours working puzzles.  The puzzles may have become fewer in pieces, but she still loves fitting the pieces together.  When she completes a puzzle she is always excited to show it off, to let you see what she has accomplished of taking all the pieces and fitting them together to reveal the complete picture.

51ktrzbp0il-_sx326_bo1204203200_That is what we are doing when we study God’s Word.  We are taking each piece of knowledge we receive from reading God’s Word and placing it in its proper place to see God’s story being revealed.  We are becoming more Bible literate.  Jen Wilkins in her book Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS gives her definition of Bible Literacy: “Bible literacy occurs when a person has access to a Bible in a language she understands and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text…Bible literacy stitches patchwork knowledge into a seamless garment of understanding.”

I need to be up front and say I do not have it all together and I am not perfect!   It is not easy trying to be diligent and faithful in spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis.  Let’s be honest, it is a struggle for me and I am sure for many of you.  I get in a routine and then something comes along and messes it up.  One day becomes two and before long it has been a week.  One thing I do know is My God is faithful to forgive me and prompt me to spend time with him.


The other thing I struggle with is how to approach the study of God’s Word.  No book, study plan, or Bible study book can replace just digging in and reading God’s Word and letting the Holy Spirit direct you.  That being said, I am always interested in seeing, hearing and reading how other people approach the study of God’s Word. Are you one that reads the Bible through once a year or do you select a book at a time?  Do you follow a daily devotion or reading plan?  Do you write verses down and meditate on them?  Or do you just let the Holy Spirit lead you in your reading.  Do you use Iva May’s approach in Chronological Bible Teaching reading the Bible Chronologically?  How about Jen Wilkin’s 5 P’s of Sound Study approach in her book: Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS?  In Angie Smith’s study Seamless she streams all of the major stories in the Bible together in one thread.  There are so many ways to approach the study of God’s Word, but what are we doing with our knowledge and understanding?  Are all the pieces of the puzzle fitting together?

51jyryn98ul-_sx366_bo1204203200_As we start 2018, do you have a plan?  Did you make a New Year’s resolution to Study God’s Word more?   So how is it going?  No matter what plan you use, make sure that you are seeing God’s complete picture.  Don’t shy away from the things you don’t understand?  I have many times written or said to God, “I don’t understand this passage.”  You know, it is usually not long before I hear someone preach on the same passage or read a book where the verse I don’t understand is revealed to me with more understanding.  As Women of the Word let’s be more intentional in becoming more Bible Literate this next year.

Lord, may we make a commitment to spend more time in your Word.  Not just to gain head knowledge, but to gain understanding so that when the end of 2018 comes around we may be able to see each piece of your Word revealed as a beautiful picture of YOUR LOVE for us from Genesis to Revelation.


Back to Basics: Doing a Topical Study

Grab your coffee! It’s time to learn to do some Bible researching. It’s not hard! Don’t panic!

Ever been at the office or out with friends and a subject comes up that gets uncomfortable for you? Maybe it’s a hot topic from the news that has spiritual overtones, or perhaps a spoken opinion on a moral issue that goes against what you believe. Whatever it is, it pricks your heart, or conscience. You feel internal distress. You know you disagree with what is being promoted, but you can’t pull up the scriptural principles you need to be able to support your point, so you sit in tacit agreement even though you know you disagree. Most likely, we’ve all found ourself in this position at one time or another.

Fast forward 2 hours. Dinner is over and you’re home mulling over your regrets about not speaking up. What do you do?

May I suggest doing a topical study of the subject in scripture? You may have felt a bit like you failed because you could not or did not speak up. But as my sweet husband says, those failures or problems are just creative opportunities. So NOW is your opportunity to make sure you are never caught in that place again (on that subject, at least)! Let this “failure” move you to take action, and take an hour to dig into the Word of God to see what it has to say, so that the next time you will be prepared.

Topical studies are easy-peasy! Here is the scoop:

  1. Grab your Bible, a pen & paper, and a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, either paper or online.
  2. Jot down on the paper key words related to the topic you want to discover more about.
  3. Look up each word in your concordance and jot down the scripture references that use this word.
  4. Take time to read each scripture on your list.
  5. As you read a scripture write down facts you learn. (Realize that these may support what you believe, or they may not. In the latter case, they may cause you to change your belief.)
  6. Pray over what you have learned and tuck away those ideas for the next time you feel challenged to speak about what you believe on this subject.


At a wedding shower yesterday you found out the bride-to-be has been living with the groom-to-be and they’re not married yet. You were always taught this was wrong, but you know it’s very acceptable in today’s society. You feel tongue-tied, can’t really remember why you believe what you believe, and it’s not the place to speak up anyway.

So you go home with these thoughts nagging at your brain. You drag out your commentary and Bible. (This is step 1.) You write down general words having to do with the topic: marry, marriage, wife, husband, and virgin. And then you think of more specific words and Biblical words: sex, unfaithful, chaste, fornication, etc. (Step 2) As you go to the Strong’s you find L-O-N-G lists of scriptures. You notice that the Strong’s also gives you a phrase beside each scripture reference so you can get the gist of the meaning of that verse. The phrases that don’t seem to relate directly to your topic you skip over and just record the most pertinent ones. (Step 3.) Then you grab your Bible and paper and notate that a man and wife become one flesh (Matthew 19:5-6), that there should not be any impurity or any hint of sexual immorality in our lives (Ephesians 5:3), and that in Ephesians 5:22-33 husbands and wives are seen as a picture of Christ and the church – and you are very aware that Christ would never be seen in an immoral act like sex before marriage. (There are many, many more scriptures on this subject area, but these give us a view of what steps 4 & 5 might look like.) You end your study with prayer for wisdom, prayer for your own strength of character to obey in this area, and prayer for the bride and groom-to-be that triggered your interest in this study. (Step 6.) Notice that there is no “Step 7” that has you go back and bash-with-scripture the people who disagreed with you earlier. You are NOT their Holy Spirit. But you are now better equipped in this area to speak your beliefs in love if the appropriate opportunity arises in the future.

So I challenge you, as you drain that last sip of cafe-au-lait out of your cup, dig into God’s Word in areas where questions have come up in your daily life. Do topical studies. Try it! Today even. Don’t wallow in your ignorance as my grandmama used to say, but take time to learn and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) We don’t grow in knowledge to be able to correct others or put them in their place. That mentality comes from a heart of pride. Rather, we grow and learn to know God more intimately and to become more like Jesus Christ, thereby being lights to the world that draw people to Jesus like a moth to a flame.


Back to Basics: How to Study Your Bible 101


Grab a strong cup of coffee – it may be a long week! Get cozy. We’re putting together the pieces of life as we study the Word of God.


We were blessed to hear Mike Satterfield preach this past week at GFBC. And did he ever step on my toes! How about you? When he began by asking us to think back over our last week…

Has anything changed? If I have not progressed, why?

Wow! Stopped me dead in my tracks. I long to see slight changes from year to year, but from week to week?! Methinks I’m to easy on myself? How about you? Let’s examine ourselves together?

How have you done so far this year at developing the spiritual disciplines you desire? Are you in the Word more now than you were this past January? How about more than last month? Last week? Yikes! Are you praying without ceasing more now than last January? Than last month? Last week? Yikes! Are you memorizing scripture and witnessing and obeying scripture more now than last January? Than last month? Last week? Yikes!

It puts me a bit on the defensive. I want to say, “But hey, you don’t know how busy I am! I’m a good person, a real Christian. Really!”

The bottom line is that our good intentions to live a godly life are not the same thing as living a godly life. So join me today as I choose to be tough on myself. To recommit to that one most central spiritual discipline – Bible reading and study. Let’s seek to live to a higher calling.

In light of that here are a few simple things to keep in mind as you dig deep into God’s word. There’s something in this list for you, no matter where you find your level of commitment to Bible reading or Bible study or applying the Bible to life.

  • Read the Bible every day. Even if it is only 1 verse. Develop the habit.


  • Ask the 5 W’s and an H (who, what, when, where, why, how) when you read God’s Word. These give you a frame-work for what you are reading, similar to filling in the corners and edges to a puzzle. Especially ask these type questions: What does this teach me about God/Jesus? About people? About women? About sin? About the world?


  • Read with a pencil (and possibly paper) on hand. Ideas you may want to try: Underline or mark key words or thoughts.Take notes in your Bible. Mark things that apply to you.Put question marks in the margin beside what you do not yet understand. In the margin, date and make notes on promises or commands that you sense are specifically for you that day. You may want to use a journal to record longer thoughts or prayers concerning the scripture you have read.


  • Train yourself to systematically read the Word of God. Start today. Ideas: †Read one proverb a day for a month. †Read all 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John over the course of a year. †Read one Psalm a day.  †Read the Bible chronologically. †Read through the whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation in a year or 2 years.


  • Use the study Bible notes at he bottom of the page which explain meanings of names, or the historical or cultural implications we may not be aware of today.


  • Refer to the scriptures listed in the margins of study Bibles to find other scriptures throughout God’s word that mention the same word. For example: beside Genesis 1:1 about God creating the heaven and the earth, my study Bible lists in the margin 13 scripture references for verse 1, the first one is Psalm 102:25 which says that the heavens are the work of His hands. This type of searching for scriptures that help us understand similar scriptures is called cross-referencing. The best commentary on scripture is other scriptures.



  • Pray before you read your Bible. Always. Ask the Lord to teach you, to open your eyes to the truth, and to help you live out what you are learning. John 14:26 tells us “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Grasp onto one of these tools. Get in the Word. Let it change you!

Expect yourself to be better next week than you are today!


Taste and See…

by Dena Green

Free stock photo of spoon, glass, honey, jar

God’s Word  is “…sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10

My husband and I became beekeepers a few years ago.  It sounded like a fun hobby with the great benefit of having the delicious honey to eat and share with family and friends.

We quickly found out that there was much work involved in getting the honey from the hive to the jar.  The honey does not just flow from the hive straight into the jar. We have to open the hives on a regular basis to check for anything that might harm the bees and to make sure they are healthy and producing honey. After removing the honey from the hives to extract it from the frames, we have to uncap, or remove the wax that holds the honey in the frames.  That’s when you see the beautiful, golden honey. The frames are then put into the the extractor or centrifuge and spun so that all of the honey is removed.  After that, we can open the spout on the holding tank and the pure, sweet honey can flow into the jars.

The Bible says that God’s word is sweeter than honey and the drippings from the honey comb! If you have ever “tasted” God’s word for yourself, you know this is true.

To taste the sweetness of His word, we must take the time to “uncap” the word and hear what the Lord is saying. Be patient.  Pray, read, study, be still, listen.  Partaking of the Word takes time and some preparation on our part.  What joy we can experience when the Lord reveals Himself to us in a new way, or answers a question that we have wrestled with. He may speak peace to your heart over a situation in your life or give you a word to share with someone else. There may be a revelation of unconfessed sin in our life that we need to address. Whatever our need or desire, God’s “holding tank,” His word, is full and just waiting for us to come and get some of the sweetness.

Psalm 34:8- “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.”