Posted on Leave a comment

How to Stay Engaged As You Read the Bible in a Year

If you’ve been following my content for awhile, you know this year I’ve especially emphasized getting into the Word daily. I know many of you have made it a goal to read through the entire Bible with my book The Bible in a Year as your reading plan. And, I’ve been doing that right along with you! It has been such a blessing. But, staying disciplined while keeping the right approach has been a challenge. Would you agree? 

Today, I thought it would be helpful to talk about how to stay engaged as we read the Bible in a year. It can be tempting to just go through the motions. As a result, we forget that God is speaking to us through His Word and has so much He wants to teach us. When we lose sight of this and just power through in our own strength, reading the Bible becomes overwhelming. And, we often get discouraged or give up entirely. So, let’s talk about how to stay engaged as you read the Bible in a year.

5 Tips to Stay Engaged As You Read the Bible in a Year

Pray

We can so often underestimate the power of prayer. Do you pray before you open your Bible? Are you asking the Holy Spirit to empower you to understand what you read? That it would impact your thoughts and actions? Pause and remember that whatever passage you’re in, whether it’s an engaging historical account or an extensive genealogy—seemingly exciting or boring—it’s all God’s Word. Resist the temptation to get discouraged when struggling through a challenging chapter or section of the Bible. Trust that He is speaking through all of it and ask that He would bring understanding.

Could a lack of prayer be contributing to your struggles to stay engaged with your reading plan?

Change up the time(s) of day you read

I am currently reading the Bible using my 1-year reading plan, The Bible in a Year. It’s undated, so you can start at any time, but I started right at the beginning of the year. When I began, I would read 2-3 chapters in the morning and the rest in the evening. However, as time passed, it started feeling overwhelming to start my day with a lot of reading. And, I was struggling to stay focused. I prayed for God’s help and decided to change up my reading schedule. 

As a result, I still have quiet time in the morning and spend more of a bite-sized amount of time in Scripture at the start of my day, but I focus on getting the bulk of my reading done after dinner. I feel re-energized after a good meal, so this change has been a game changer. I’ve found as I’ve re-engaged with the reading, I am less overwhelmed and even eager for that time in the Word.

Could changing up the time of day you read help you stay engaged as you read the Bible in a year?

Schedule time in your week for deeper study

As I was reading 1 and 2 Kings, I kept thinking: 1) This has always been a challenging section of Scripture for me. And, 2) There’s a lot here that I wish I had time to study more in-depth! Then, through a class I was taking in my church, God revealed to me that there was a pocket of time in my weekly schedule that would be perfect for devoting to deeper study. So, as I read through my plan and I come across an intriguing passage or question, I write that down. Then, I save it for my special study time. A couple of my favorite things to do during this time are watching videos by the Bible Project (loved this one on Kings) and reading GotQuestions articles on Bible books or specific topics. Scheduled study time has made previously challenging sections of Scripture come alive to me. And, it motivates me as I continue reading and approach new challenges.

How might engaging in deeper study deepen your relationship with God and benefit your time in His Word?

We all have unique schedules and responsibilities. And, there is so much grace for those of us who are in seasons of life that are very full! However, we can be very good at filling our time with things we want to do, but don’t necessarily need to be doing. And, we can also be masters at making excuses for why we don’t have time for X, Y, and Z. I encourage you to pray for wisdom in this and that if God is calling you to deeper study, He would show you how and when you can schedule that time.

Jump to a different chapter

This idea came from a friend who was struggling her way through 1 & 2 Chronicles while doing The Bible in a Year plan. The idea of going out of order and skipping ahead may not appeal to you. But, consider this: If you’re really struggling to stay focused or need time to study a bit in order to better understand a section of Scripture, wouldn’t it be better to press pause on that and read a book you’re more familiar with in the meantime? The great thing about my book, The Bible in a Year, is that it’s easy to track your progress and even skip around if you need to. 

Could switching to a different section of Scripture help you stay engaged as you read the Bible in a year? If so, what might that look like for you? 

Talk about what you read

This is such a simple one, but I’ve found that talking about what I’m reading helps me remember what I’ve read and learned. This often prompts me to study more and it’s also great accountability. When we attempt to read the Bible in isolation, we are much more likely to get overwhelmed and lose heart. But, when we reflect with others on what excites or challenges us, God uses that to encourage us and spur us on.

Who could you talk to about what you’re reading in the Bible? What other benefits could talking about this have on your life or theirs?

Encouragement

I hope these brief tips will boost your motivation and help you stay engaged as you read the Bible in a year! Committing to reading the Word daily is a spiritual discipline. Therefore, we can expect days where we struggle and lack motivation. But, when we take the time to really learn and grow, God deepens our walk with Him.
If you’d like more tips on how to successfully complete a 1-year Bible reading plan, check out this post. If you’re interested in checking out my 1-year Bible reading plan focusing on God’s character, learn more about The Bible in a Year here. And of course, if you’re interested in receiving free resources to help you grow in your faith, you can receive exclusive content by subscribing to my mailing list here!


Posted on Leave a comment

Seeing the Gospel in Our Everyday Lives

I’ve heard it said that we should preach the Gospel to ourselves daily. This can be as simple as reminding ourselves that without Christ we are dead and condemned in our sin, but by His abundant grace, Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead to save all who repent and believe in Him. This means, all who are born again have eternal life and hope in His return. What a humbling reminder! But, preaching the Gospel to ourselves can be taken a step further when we start seeing the Gospel in our everyday lives.

As I’ve been getting into the habit of pondering and declaring the Gospel to myself daily, I’ve felt compelled to ask the Lord to give me eyes to see the Gospel in all things—even the circumstances that seem unrelated to the good news. God will, no doubt, continually be answering this prayer. But, I wanted to share with you just one of the ways He recently responded.

A personal testimony

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with feeling unequipped for ministry and the things God is calling me to in this season of my life. I’ve felt overwhelmed and insecure. And I know these feelings aren’t from God, so I went to His Word. In the Bible, the Lord promises to equip believers for what He calls us to. So, I looked for a verse that spoke truth into my insecurities and was led to Hebrews 13:20-21, which says:

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 13:20-21

As I memorized these verses, truth replaced my insecurities. But the Spirit also opened my eyes to the Gospel in this passage. I could see written explicitly in the text that the Gospel is the reason it’s even possible for me to be equipped by God! When I received Christ as my Lord and Savior ten years ago, it was His death and resurrection that made forgiveness and eternal life possible. And today, Jesus remains my great Shepherd. He gives me everything I need in order to do His will and bring Him glory.

Without even realizing it when I started memorizing this passage, I was preaching the Gospel to myself! Ultimately, the answer to my seemingly unrelated insecurities was found in the hope of the Gospel.

Seeing the Gospel in our everyday lives gives us hope

I’m learning that seeing the Gospel in our everyday lives builds our faith, strengthens our hope, and gives us greater peace. The Gospel isn’t just for the moment we put our faith in Christ and one day when He returns. We get to experience the infinite blessings of the Gospel each day. Let’s pray that Jesus would give us eyes to see them and praise Him when we do.

Permissions

Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Posted on Leave a comment

My Quiet Time Routine

To celebrate now having 10+ patrons on Patreon, I’ve created an exclusive video sharing my quiet time routine. You can watch this 2-minute version here. But if you’d like access to the full 12-minute version, you can become a patron for as little as $3 per month!

Watch the full video about my quiet time routine:

If you are already a patron, log on to your Patreon account to access the full video and learn about why it’s important to have a quiet time, hear about my quiet time routine, and hear some additional things for you to consider.

Why Patreon?

Selling products and working with like-minded companies keeps my business running. However, the content people connect with the most is on my blog and mailing list. I love creating inspiring artwork, free resources, blog posts, and weekly emails to encourage my community. It’s one of my favorite things I do! The only downside is, that type of work doesn’t bring in much income.

To clarify, I don’t do it for the income. I would do it regardless of whether I had additional help. But, running and growing a blog and mailing list costs money. And, if I am being compensated for even a little bit of my time writing and creating free content, I can devote more of my work hours to discipling my community!

So, please prayerfully consider supporting my mission by becoming a monthly giver on Patreon. Your pledges make it possible for me to reach more people and spend more time creating content that builds up the body of Christ! Will you join me in this mission?

Today’s Shop Picks

Posted on 2 Comments

God’s Providence

When a word, phrase, or Bible verse repeatedly pops up in my Bible studies and conversations, I’ve learned over the years to pay attention. Lately, the topic of God’s providence keeps coming up. I knew providence was somehow related to His sovereignty—which I’m familiar with—however, I wanted to learn more. I wanted to understand what is providence? Does it differ from sovereignty? And as I dug deeper, I was curious to learn how God’s providence coincides with our free will. Do you have similar questions? I hope this post will bring clarity and encourage you.

What is God’s providence?

The word “providence” is found sparingly in some English Bibles. I checked several translations on the Blue Letter Bible website and the word came up once in the KJV in Acts 24:2 and another time in the NIV in Job 10:12. Even though the word itself seldom occurs in Scripture, the doctrine of God’s providence is woven throughout the Bible. Simply put, providence is God working circumstances together to accomplish His purposes.[1] 

A biblical example of God’s providence

There are so many examples of God’s providence throughout Scripture, but one of my favorites is the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Many of you are probably familiar with the story. But to quickly summarize, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, which landed him in Egypt. While there, he was falsely accused of a crime and Joseph was sent to prison. After some time, he interpreted a dream of Pharaoh’s cupbearer who was briefly imprisoned. Years later, Pharaoh himself had a dream that no one could interpret, but the cupbearer remembered Joseph. By God’s grace, Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, which warned of a famine to come. As a result, Pharaoh made Joseph his right hand man and Joseph prepared Egypt. And when the famine came, Egypt had an abundance of food, which led Joseph’s family there. After a series of events, his relationship with his brothers was reconciled and they all moved to Egypt.

When we read this exciting narrative in the Bible, we can see that God was going before Joseph. We get to figure out the ending in just a few chapters. But, Joseph lived through abuse, slavery, slander, and imprisonment over the course of many years. After all that time of being rejected and forgotten, in the end, Joseph recognized God’s providence through it all. Genesis 50:20 sums it up so well when Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” This is just one of the many examples of God’s providence in the Bible.

God’s providence in my own life

When I reflect on where I have seen God’s providence in my own life, several memories come to mind. But most recently, I witnessed His providence at work through my book, The Bible in a Year. I prayed to God that if it was His will, that He’d make a way for me to work with a publisher on a book someday. Over a year later, I was approached by my publisher, who heard about me through a connection I had made with another company. That connection was made long before I even prayed that first prayer. After all this time, I can see that God was working in and through my circumstances to accomplish His will even when I couldn’t see it. I know I’ve shared this a fair amount with my community, so sorry if I sound like a broken record! But, reflecting on His providence through this recent experience continues to leave me in awe of His sovereignty.

Question: How have you seen God’s providence in your own life?

How does providence differ from sovereignty?

As I pondered and began studying God’s providence, I struggled to see the difference between providence and sovereignty. However, as I dug deeper, it became clearer to me that while these two truths about God are closely related, there is a distinction. I began to see that God’s sovereignty refers to His complete control over all things and His providence is the way He orchestrates all things according to His will. A wise woman in my life put it in even simpler terms: Sovereign is who He is, providence is what He does. God’s sovereign will is accomplished through His good and wise providence.

This means, God is never out of control. He is working all things together for a greater good—His perfect will. The greatest good He providentially accomplishes in the lives of believers is salvation in Christ. Looking back on my own life, I can see how God used my circumstances to communicate the Gospel message to me and prepared my heart for the day I would finally receive the good news that Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead to save sinners. I learned that all who repent and believe in Christ as Lord and Savior are given eternal life and do not have to fear when He returns to judge the living and the dead—our salvation is secure in Him! (Mark 1:15, Acts 17:30-31, 1 John 5:11-13)

Sometimes we will get to see His providence clearly in our lives—like in the circumstances that led us to receive Christ, or experiences like what happened with my book. But, His providence goes even further beyond our individual lives, circumstances, and outcomes. Ultimately, He is sovereignly working all things together for His glory and to providentially prepare all things for Christ’s return! (Ephesians 1:11)

What about free will?

So like me, you might be wondering how God’s providence coincides with free will. While much of this remains a mystery, we do see examples of both these realities throughout the Bible. I’m sure entire books have been written on this subject alone, but I’ll attempt to put it simply here. (I encourage you to do more digging into this yourself if you have more questions!)

Simply put, God is fully in control and we remain responsible for our actions. Going back to Joseph’s story, we see this clearly. God allowed Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery in order for Joseph to go to Egypt and save many from the famine, and ultimately, become a foreshadowing of the deliverance that would come through Christ. Even though God used their sin to accomplish a greater good, the brothers still needed to repent of their sins. What’s incredible, is how God not only can use good in this world, but He can even take our sin and the things that fall outside of His moral will to accomplish His sovereign will.

We even see free will and God’s providence play out in Christ’s death when God used Judas Iscariot’s betrayal to send Jesus to the cross. (Luke 22:22) This was the greatest injustice of all time, yet God used it to fulfill biblical prophecy and save all who repent and believe in Him.

Clinging to what we know

This short explanation may not satisfy all of your questions on free will vs. God’s providence. However, when we don’t fully understand a biblical truth, we can always cling to what we do know: God is sovereign. This article on GotQuestions.org sums it up so well: If God is not sovereign, then He’s not really God. Why? If our free will can trump His divine providence, then who ultimately is God? We are. Divine providence does not destroy our freedom. Rather, divine providence takes our freedom into account and, in the infinite wisdom of God, sets a course to fulfill God’s will.[2]

Application

God is providentially working all things together to accomplish His sovereign will. How does the truth of God’s providence encourage or challenge you today? How might this reality cause you to think and live differently?

For me personally, the truths of God’s providence and sovereignty shape my thoughts and emotions in response to the chaos of world events. Things feel out of control, but when we cling to what we know, we can find peace in knowing God is still on His throne and He is still fully in control. We may not be able to see how, but we know that He is working all things together for His glory and for the good of those who love Him. (Ephesians 1:11, Romans 8:28) And of course, these truths increase my hope in the Gospel! Nothing can thwart God’s plan to save sinners or stop His return! He is all-powerful and true to His Word.

As born again believers, we should respond to God’s providence by:

  • Confidently trusting fully in God’s providence. 
  • Committing our works to God. (Proverbs 16:3)
  • Encouraging others with the truth of God’s providence.
  • Praying for continued dependence on God and that His will, not ours be done. (Matthew 6:9-13)[3]

If you would like to learn more on your own about God’s providence, check out the links in the notes below.


Today’s Shop Picks

Notes:

Permissions

Unless otherwise indicated, scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Posted on Leave a comment

Scripture Memory: How to Memorize Scripture

God’s Word is powerful. Have you recently experienced the power of God’s Word in your own life? Reading the Bible, studying it, and hearing sound teaching from our pastors at church on Sunday mornings are all foundational to growing in Christ. But, Scripture memory tends to be more of a challenge for many. And, it doesn’t seem to be emphasized as much as the other ways we approach the Bible, which is such a shame!

I have experienced the power of God’s Word in my own life even without realizing it at times. I recently shared about that in this video. But, a few years ago when I was in a dark season, I discovered the mighty ways God works through Scripture memory. I was working through some personal challenges and my pastor emphasized the importance of getting into the habit of memorizing Scripture. As I memorized and reflected on God’s Word in such an intentional way, by His grace, I quickly began to experience how His Word has the power to change us, and as a result, change our lives. And, I praise God that I continue to experience the power of His Word through Scripture memory today! 

So, let’s talk about why we should practice Scripture memory and how to get started.

3 Reasons to Memorize Scripture

1. Scripture memory equips us | 2 Timothy 3:16-17 & Ephesians 6:10-18

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In other words, because the Bible is divinely inspired and given to us by God Himself, He will use it to equip us for godly living. By the power of His Word, we are able to do works that bring Him glory and benefit us and those around us.

In Ephesians 6:10-18, believers are instructed to put on the whole armor of God: The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel as shoes for our feet, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Memorizing God’s Word grounds us in truth and trains us to think and act in alignment with God’s will. It reminds us of the Gospel—that Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead to save all who repent of their sins and believe in Him. Remembering His saving work in our lives builds our faith. Knowing God’s Word is foundational to putting on the armor of God. It is our greatest defense and our weapon against the enemy and his schemes.

Key Takeaway: When we have Scripture memorized, God will use it to equip us for godly living and the battle’s we face.

2. Scripture memory shapes our thoughts and actions | Hebrews 4:12

Hebrews 4:12 says, “the word of God is living and active,” and that it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. God’s Word has the power to reveal and correct wrong thinking that leads to ungodly living. As we fill our minds with Scripture, He replaces lies with truth. But, we must yield to the Spirit by trusting His promises and obeying His commands in order to experience God’s transforming work in our minds and actions. 

For example, even if we feel anxious, we still choose to trust God’s character and promises and obey His commands. If we’re memorizing Philippians 4:6-9, that means we obey God’s commands to pray and fill our minds with godly thoughts. And, we trust that He promises He will be with us and that His peace will guard our hearts and minds. 

We inform our thoughts with the truth of Scripture because while our opinions and emotions are ever changing, God’s character and promises remain unchanging. He is our reliable guide who will not lead us astray. Allowing God’s truth to guide us instead of our thoughts and feelings doesn’t typically happen overnight. It takes diligent practice and dependence on the Spirit to help us. But, praise God that He is so gracious and patient with us!

Key Takeaway: As we memorize Scripture, God speaks truth and guides us as we trust and obey what He says.

3. Scripture memory builds our trust in God | Psalm 18:30

David declares in 2 Samuel 22:31 and Psalm 18:30 that, “the word of the LORD proves true.” God proves the trustworthiness of His Word through the Bible itself. We see God’s sovereignty, promises, and prophecies fulfilled throughout generations. It’s incredible to read! And as we memorize Scripture and apply it to our lives, we get to experience His promises fulfilled in our own lives. 

One of the clearest examples of this is through the Gospel. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When we truly believe what God says about sin, we repent and believe in Christ and His Word proves true when we receive His free gift of salvation! We are new creations (Galatians 2:20), born again (John 3:3) and experience the reality of this promise through the Holy Spirit who indwells our hearts (Romans 8:9).

By the power of the Spirit, experiencing the trustworthiness of God’s Word doesn’t stop at conversion. James 1:25 says that those who remember and follow what God’s Word says will be blessed. We have countless opportunities to put our faith into action. And as we witness the work God does as we align ourselves to what His Word says, our trust in Him increases.

Key Takeaway: God’s Word is proven true throughout the Bible and in our own lives. Scripture memory increases our trust in Him as we live in light of His promises.

How to Start Memorizing Scripture

Scripture memory equips us, shapes us, and builds our trust in God and His Word. So, let’s talk about how to start memorizing Scripture so that we can experience these blessings.

6 Tips to Help You Start Memorizing Scripture

1. Be prayerful.

We must be prayerful as we memorize Scripture, asking the Spirit to write His Word on our hearts and live in light of what’s true. When we attempt to do this in our own strength, it becomes burdensome. But, when we are dependent on God as we memorize, we trust He will do a mighty work in us.

2. Choose a verse or passage.

Simply open the Bible and choose a passage! But, if you are looking to memorize passages that speak truth into specific topics, there are so many resources out there to point you in the right direction. My Scripture memory cards (pictured below) are a great option! But, books like The Topical Memory System and God’s Promises for Your Every Need are also helpful resources.

3. Figure out a system that works for you.

When will you dedicate time to memorizing Scripture? How often will you memorize new passages? How will you go about it? Writing your verses down where you can easily reference them, is so helpful. I write passages I’m memorizing in a small notebook and on notecards that I can easily carry with me wherever I go. I designed my Scripture memory cards as individual 3×5” cards so they could be carried in your purse, used as a bookmark for your Bible, displayed on your desk or bedside table.

4. Incorporate the passage in your quiet time.

It’s important to take time to meditate on the Scripture we’re memorizing during our quiet time. This means we actively study it to deepen our understanding of what God is saying in the passage. A great way to start is by reading the surrounding verses or entire chapter for context. And, we incorporate the passage in our prayers. How can you praise God for the truths in the verse(s)? What can you thank Him for? Does it prompt you to confess any sin? How do the truths of the passage impact your prayers as you bring your concerns and requests to God?

5. Apply it.

We talked about this a fair amount already, but again, trust what God’s Word says and pray for the Spirit to empower you to obediently live it out. James 1:22 says to be doers of the Word and not just hearers. When we memorize without action, we are only building up head knowledge.

6. Review it.

As you memorize more and more Bible verses, don’t forget to review the passages you memorized in the past. Reviewing keeps God’s Word fresh in our minds and God uses what we’ve memorized to minister to us and others!


I hope this post got you excited about Scripture memory! If you’d like more resources and exclusive content to help you grow in your faith, join my mailing list. To start, I’ll send you a free e-devotional!

Today’s Shop Picks


Permissions

All scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted on 1 Comment

My Faith Story and Creative Journey

Recently, I was invited by a group of young moms at my former church to share my faith story and creative journey. This week marks 10 years since I received Christ as my Lord and Savior so, it was a blessing to have an excuse to sit down and do some deep reflecting. In addition, it was a joy and privilege to share with others just a handful of ways God has been at work throughout my life.

God is so faithful and His Word is so powerful. I hope you will be encouraged by the story He has given me and that it will prompt you to think about how God has been at work throughout your unique story. All glory to Him!

My Faith Story and Creative Journey | Audio


Application Questions

  • Can you think of a specific moment or season you received Christ as Lord and Savior? If so, how has your life changed since then? If not, why might that be? Are you sure you have put your faith in Christ?
  • How might you be looking to the world for wisdom instead of God and His Word?
  • Are you living a life dependent on God?
  • How might God be leading you to grow in dependence on Him?
  • How have you seen God at work in your unique story?

Key Verses

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

“Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” –Proverbs 16:3

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” –John 5:15

Permissions

All scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted on Leave a comment

What is Repentance?

“Repent and believe in the gospel.” I often reference these words spoken by Jesus in Mark 1:15 when talking about what we must do to be saved. Many may ask, what is repentance? I’ve heard it said that belief and repentance are two sides of the same coin. Saving faith in Christ requires both. True belief always results in repentance. You can’t have one without the other. But, there is a lot of confusion about what it really means to repent. I hope to bring some clarity to those questions today.

What is repentance?

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary on BlueLetterBible.org there are three Greek words in the New Testament referring to repentance. The verb metamelomai is used to indicate a change of mind which results in regret over sin, but not a change of heart. Judas in Matthew 27:3 exemplifies this false kind of repentance.

The verb metanoeo and its related noun metanoia refer to changing one’s mind and purpose. These words signify true repentance – the kind of repentance that changes the heart and results in saving faith. Todd Friel said it so well in a recent episode of his podcast Wretched: “Repentance isn’t a mere changing of the mind. It’s a changing of the will, the emotions, our thinking, and our attitudes.”

To put it simply, the repentance Jesus commands is more than mere regret. Genuine repentance means we are remorseful over our sin and recognize our guilt before a holy God and righteous Judge. When we truly repent, we turn from our sinful thoughts and actions, and instead, align our hearts to God and His Word.

Is repentance a work?

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (emphasis added) The Bible makes it clear that works do not save us. However, many mistake repentance as a work, which leads to understandable confusion. This topic alone could be an entire blog post, but to put it simply, repentance is not a work. Jesus alone does the saving. But how is that possible when repentance is required for salvation, you might ask?

This simple analogy I found on GotQuestions.org explains this so well:

“Suppose someone anonymously sent you a check for $1,000,000. The money is yours if you want it, but you still must endorse the check. In no way can signing your name be considered earning the million dollars—the endorsement is a non-work. You can never boast about becoming a millionaire through sheer effort or your own business savvy. No, the million dollars was simply a gift, and signing your name was the only way to receive it. Similarly, exercising faith is the only way to receive the generous gift of God, and faith cannot be considered a work worthy of the gift.”

GotQuestions.org | Article: “How can salvation be not of works when faith is required?

Faith – which requires belief and repentance – is how we receive God’s gift of grace. Christ’s work on our behalf is the only work necessary for salvation and He was the only one able to accomplish that work on our behalf.

How does one repent?

We’ve answered the question, What is repentance? Now we know that by definition, repentance requires a complete change of heart and mind. It’s not a work that earns us salvation. So, now we must ask the question: How does one repent?

Believe

Repentance and belief go hand in hand. True belief results in repentance. In other words, we cannot repent in our own strength. We must believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

The Gospel is the message that we are all born sinners in need of forgiveness and no amount of good works can erase our guilt before God. The Bible teaches that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood and that the righteous and just penalty for sin is hell. But the good news is that out of His great love for unworthy sinners, Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully man, died on a cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus said in order to be forgiven, we must repent, believe, and receive Him as Lord and Savior. By grace, through faith in Christ, we have assurance of salvation and the promise of eternal life! Those who are saved are born again – we are new creations and are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts permanently.

Do you believe in the Gospel and what Christ has done on your behalf? If so, how does that impact your life? If not, I encourage you to put your faith in Him today. He is worthy of our complete trust! What might be keeping you from believing in Him today? I encourage you to surrender that to Jesus in faith.

Confess

Repentance requires confession. When we genuinely believe in the Gospel, we confess our guilt as sinners directly to God. We don’t minimize our sins or make excuses. True confession means we are in complete agreement with God about our sin. It also means that we recognize that we are unable to get right with God by our own efforts – no amount of good works can erase our guilt. When our confession is genuine, we recognize sin’s seriousness while trusting Jesus is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) Trusting in Jesus’ mercy and grace leads us out of our old patterns of thinking and living and into a new life lived according to the will of God.

Have you confessed your sin to God? If so, how has your life changed as a result? If not, what might be keeping you from doing so? Will you ask God to align your heart to what He says about sin?

Receive

When we believe in Christ alone, confess our sin, and commit to living for Him, we can receive Him as our Lord and Savior! Receiving Christ means we trust that Jesus has paid for all of our sins – past, present, and future; sins committed intentionally and unintentionally. To receive Jesus is to let go of all the other things we once put before Him – the idols of our lives. It means we trust Jesus is who He says He is and cling to all He says is true. When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts – we are born again and become children of God. 

When we receive Christ, we don’t simply add Him to our lives. He becomes the center of our lives. We still sin on this side of heaven, but we don’t go back to our old ways of living. The Holy Spirit continues to lead us in repentance. By His power, our lives are transformed and we are increasingly made more like Christ. This process is called sanctification.

Our response

When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior our initial response should be praise and worship! We praise Him by declaring who He is and what He has done. Worship can happen in a variety of ways. We can worship Him with songs on Sunday mornings among other believers, but we also worship Him in our everyday lives. Whatever we do, we are commanded to do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) We learn what that looks like through prayer and careful study of the Bible. God wants a relationship with us and He communicates with us in these ways.

Can you remember a specific moment or season you received Christ as Lord and Savior? If so, what was your response and how might God be leading you to continue responding? If not, why might that be? Are you sure you have put your faith in Christ? If you are unsure, I encourage you to pray. Ask God to reveal the truth about your relationship with Him. Read the Bible to discover who He is and what He says about salvation. I recommend starting in the book of John.

The importance of repentance

I hope this post answered the question “What is repentance?” in a clarifying and encouraging way. It’s important to understand repentance for salvation. But, it’s also important to know how to articulate to others what true repentance looks like. There are many people – including professing Christians and church goers – who don’t understand this important doctrine. We must emphasize repentance and belief in the Gospel when ministering to others. Talking about sin can be awkward and uncomfortable. But, receiving Jesus is a matter of one’s eternal destiny. Gently speaking the truth about sin and our need to repent is the most loving thing we can do for others.

Today’s Shop Picks


Permissions

All scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted on Leave a comment

Understanding God’s Love

God is love. This is a wonderful truth and phrase I frequently come across on the internet. It’s something we should continually rejoice in and reflect on! But so often, the messages of God’s love miss the mark. There tends to be an emphasis on God’s love for you and for me, but the truth about how God views sin is avoided. Oftentimes, messages about God’s love can be very feelings-focused. However, understanding God’s love requires biblical knowledge. And when we gain a more well-rounded perspective of His love, we fall deeper in love with our Savior and are better equipped to share the fullness of His love with others. So, let’s dive into some truths about God’s love.

God’s love is steadfast

About a year or so ago, the word steadfast started standing out to me in my Bible reading. I would look into this word in my Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible (affiliate link) and on Blue Letter Bible as it popped up in different passages. Continually, I would find the Hebrew word hesed, describing God’s steadfast love. This word comes up over 250 times throughout Scripture and it refers to God’s goodness, loving-kindness, and faithfulness.

God’s steadfast love is greater than feelings. It is central to His very character and His character does not change. (Hebrews 13:8) He doesn’t love us because we are worthy or amazing. Actually, the Bible makes it clear that we are none of those things. Without Christ, we are enemies of God. (Romans 5:10) He loves us simply because it’s who He is. (1 John 4:8) This is great news for us!

God is love. Meaning, God is steadfast, good, kind, and faithful.

If God is love, is He capable of hate?

Since God is love, many assume that He does not and cannot hate. However, many misunderstand that because He is love, He must hate certain things. The article Does God Hate? on GotQuestions.org says it so well: “God’s nature is love—He always does what is best for others—and He hates what is contrary to His nature—He hates what is contrary to love.” Because God is love, He cannot and does not delight in wickedness. (Psalm 5:4) The Bible says God hates sin, wickedness, and evil and He will righteously judge those who rebel against Him and reject His grace and mercy. 

This is a challenging concept for us to wrap our finite minds around, so if you are struggling with it, I recommend reading this article and the linked Scripture passages. But remember, because God is perfect (and unchanging), He can simultaneously love and hate without sinning and without contradicting His own character. 

God is love. Therefore, He must also hate sin, wickedness, and evil.

How God shows His love to us

Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God hates sin and will punish unrepentant evil doers, but the good news is that He offers forgiveness to all who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

When I mentioned at the beginning of this post that messages of God’s love tend to miss the mark, the mark they’re often missing is the Gospel. Understanding God’s love starts with understanding the Gospel message: 

We are all born sinners and the Bible says there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 9:22) Out of His great love, Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully man, died on a cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins. All who put their faith in Christ and follow Him will be saved from hell. Those who are saved are born again (John 3:3), are new creations in Christ (Galatians 2:20), are given the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) and eternal life! The Bible makes it very clear that we can’t earn our way to heaven. But, the good news of the Gospel is that God is so rich in love and mercy, that His desire is to save unworthy sinners. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

When reflecting on the love of God and sharing Christ’s love with others, do not forget the Gospel! Jesus coming to save sinners was the ultimate expression of His love. If we miss this, we miss His love entirely.

Because God is love, He forgave and justified unworthy sinners.

Understanding God’s Love

I hope reflecting on the depth of God’s love encourages you today. Understanding God’s love from a biblical perspective is life-changing. We can enjoy the simple messages of God’s love and the warm fuzzy feelings we get from a great quiet time or a particularly impactful worship set. But remember, His love is greater than feelings and short statements. Remember and rejoice in the many ways He has revealed His love throughout Scripture. You will be exceedingly blessed as you grow in your knowledge and understanding of God’s great love for you. And as a result, your love for Him will increase.

To conclude, let’s make Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians our own prayer:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:14-19

Today’s Shop Picks


Permissions

All scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted on 2 Comments

Who Will You Share the Gospel With This Year? | 5 Tips for Sharing the Gospel

Who will you share the Gospel with this year? Who in your life needs the hope and loving guidance of Christ? Does anyone come to mind? Or are you having trouble thinking of someone? Whether you can think of someone or not, I wanted to take a few moments to consider Jesus’ call on our lives, how to proclaim the Gospel, and who to share the good news with.

The Great Commission

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

In Matthew 28, Jesus commands His disciples to go out and make more disciples. This command applies to us as well. It’s not just for certain people in the church with the spiritual gift of evangelism or people considered missionaries. This clear command in the Bible is for all Christ followers, so we must be praying and considering to whom, how, and where God is specifically calling us to proclaim the good news.

Share the Gospel

Besides fear, I think possibly the biggest roadblock to sharing the Gospel with others is not knowing how to articulate the message. This is part of the reason it is so important to reflect continually on the Gospel as believers. We need to know and be prepared to share with others what we believe in. (1 Peter 3:15

The message

We are all born sinners in need of forgiveness and no amount of good works can erase our guilt before God. The Bible says that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 9:22) The Gospel is the good news that out of His great love for unworthy sinners, Jesus Christ came to save. He shed His own blood and died on a cross for the forgiveness of sins and rose from the dead three days later, proving He was God. Jesus said in order to be forgiven, we must repent and believe in Him and Him alone. (Mark 1:15) By His grace, through faith we are saved from hell and the wrath of God, and instead are promised eternal life! (Ephesians 2) See this post for a more detailed explanation of the Gospel.

Someone once said, being a Christian is not about being a good person, it’s about being a forgiven person. In other words, it’s not about what we do. It’s about what Christ has done. Being a Christian is not about ritualistic religion. It’s about having a relationship with the Savior. These truths are so important to clarify when ministering to others. Even many church-goers mistakenly believe we receive righteousness by our own merit. Two thousand years ago, Jesus spoke with many who held these same beliefs – many of whom were religious leaders. And, He made it very clear that salvation is not obtained by following the Law and religious rules. We are saved by grace alone through repentant faith alone. True, born again Christians know that Christ alone has saved them and that their works are simply an outpouring of their faith in Him.

Think of your own story

When thinking about who we might share the Gospel with, it can be helpful to think about our own stories of coming to faith in Christ. Where did you hear the Gospel? Did it make sense right away or did it take some time? At what point were you led to repent and believe?

My story

I first heard that Jesus died and rose from the dead for the salvation of sinners in the church I grew up in. The way I understood salvation for the first 19 years of my life was that if I followed the Ten Commandments well enough, I would go to heaven. If I didn’t follow them enough, I would go to hell. I wondered how a person could ever be sure if they would go to heaven and I really didn’t understand how Jesus’ death and resurrection impacted me personally.

Towards the end of my freshman year in college, two friends encouraged me to pursue a relationship with Christ by starting a prayer journal. I had shared with these friends about the heaviness I felt over past mistakes and fears of where my life was headed. They told me if I confessed all of my sins to Jesus and told Him that I wanted to change and live for Him, He would forgive me and set me free of my regrets and mistakes. They said He would change my life.

By what could only be His grace, it just made sense. I believed and spent my spring break writing a long letter, confessing my sins and desire to live for Him for the rest of my life. I knew what Jesus had done on the cross, but it wasn’t until that point in my life that I understood how that impacted me personally. Since then, I have continued to live for Him and I now have assurance of salvation.

When you share the Gospel

When you share the Gospel with others, if you have time, share your own story of coming to faith. Ask about their past experiences. Do they know who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish? Do they think the world needs a Savior? If so, how do they believe people are saved? Asking questions can give you an idea of what truths they’ve heard, haven’t heard, or don’t fully understand, giving you the opportunity to minister to them on a much more personal level.

Who in your life needs to hear the Gospel?

Truthfully, we all need to hear the Gospel. We need to hear it and believe in it in order to be saved. But even after that, we need to be reminded of the hope we have in Christ. Maybe God has already been putting someone on your heart to share the good news with.

Or maybe, you need to take some time to pray about it. Ask that God would reveal to you who in your life needs to hear the Gospel. Could it be a co-worker of another faith? A loved one who has walked away from the truth? A friend who is doubting? Pray for God to open doors to have spiritual conversations, that He would prepare you and give you courage when opportunities come. Pray for the hearts of those He plans for you to minister to – that Jesus would soften their hearts and make them open to His message of salvation.

And remember, we are called to be obedient and proclaim the Gospel, but God alone does the saving. It’s important to communicate the urgency of our need to repent and believe, but you may not get a profession of faith from the recipient of the good news right away. In my experience, most often, people need time to think about what you’ve shared. Only God can change hearts, so we are not failures if the message isn’t received. 

So, to close this post, I wanted to share my top 5 tips for sharing the Gospel so you can confidently go out in boldness this year to proclaim the good news.

My top 5 tips for sharing the Gospel

1. Be prayerful.

Pray for God to reveal to you who needs to hear the Gospel. Pray for open doors, preparedness, and courage. And, pray for the hearts of those He has put on your heart.

2. Know the Gospel message. 

And be comfortable communicating it out loud. Reflect on it in your quiet time, write it down, and practice explaining it out loud in a no-pressure environment – like with people close to you who already believe. See this post for additional help.

3. Communicate the importance of repentance and belief.

There are many misconceptions of how people are saved. Jesus makes it very clear in Scripture that only those who repent and believe will be saved. (Mark 1:15) We must be born again. (John 3:3)

4. Get comfortable sharing your story. 

Write a one minute testimony. (If you can include the Gospel message in there, even better!) That way, you’ll have a general idea of what you’ll say when you have the opportunity to share your own story of coming to faith in Christ. Include: Your life before Christ, when you put your faith in Christ, and how He continues to work in your life.

5. Listen and ask genuine questions. 

Don’t treat people like a project. Really get to know them. There will likely be disagreements, but respond by speaking the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15, 1 Peter 3:15)

Who will you share the Gospel with this year? And what steps will you take to prepare for that conversation?

To receive free resources and weekly encouragement to help you grow in your faith, subscribe to my mailing list!


Check out my brand new book!

The Bible in a Year: A Reading Plan Focusing on God’s Character

Studying God’s Word is undoubtedly one of the best ways to grow your faith. The Bible in a Year offers a simple yet fulfilling path to reading the Bible — from start to finish — in one year.

The Bible is filled with lessons that are necessary for us, as Christians, to understand so that we can live our lives the way God has intended. Author Lauren Ibach leads us through each week with a devotion, showing us how God’s character is revealed throughout the readings. Understanding His character makes us stronger Christians.

Today’s Shop Picks


Permissions

All scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted on Leave a comment

Reflecting on 2021

Great is Thy Faithfulness Pennant | Available HERE

It seems only fitting to end the year reflecting on 2021 – looking back on God’s faithfulness through a year of many changes, challenges, and milestones. 

A year without social media

Within the first week of 2021, I chose to leave social media. This is something I had been considering for many months and wrestled with whether or not it was the right choice. On one hand, I had made so many great connections over the years and had a large following of kind people. But, on the other hand, social media became a big distraction, burden, and stumbling block for me. There were many factors that led me to step away. But, what caused me to finally make the decision was the realization that I was growing increasingly bitter toward the toxic culture on social media while simultaneously sharing the love of Christ. This didn’t sit right with me.

We cannot effectively proclaim the Gospel while harboring bitterness towards those we are ministering to. We must be filled with compassion and love towards the lost. Social media is a great place to reach lost souls, but it’s not for everyone. And I realized, at least for the foreseeable future, it’s not for me. I desire to go deep when I share biblical truth and to engage in genuine conversations with people. I have found that I am able to do this much more effectively through my blog and mailing list. I’m not limited by word counts and I engage with others over email which feels much more personal than likes and comments. And of course, I am better able to protect my heart from distractions that often lead to bitterness.

The impact on my business

Many have asked how being off social media has impacted my shop sales. There was a slight decrease, but that could have been caused by a number of factors. I hope for more growth in that area in 2022, but God provided more freelance opportunities which led to this year being my best yet on the business side of things! But, even if He hadn’t provided in those ways, I am so grateful for where I’ve settled in the ministry side of things.

As I continue reflecting on 2021, I see how God has so faithfully guided my steps in writing and creating content for blog posts and emails. He also led many of my social media followers to stay with me through the transition, while also bringing brand new people to my community through Pinterest, direct searches, and word of mouth. It’s a privilege to continue ministering to others online. And, to be able to do so in a way that has been so much more positive for me personally has been a huge blessing! I hope you’ll stick around for more next year!

Opening my website shop

Another change I made early on was opening my website shop. This was something in the back of my mind for a while, but it never made sense to add another shop to keep track of. (I love simplicity!) But, since I was essentially moving my entire ministry to my website, it made sense to add the shop. I am so grateful for how Etsy’s platform has helped me grow my business and reach new customers, but it’s so nice to have a shop of my very own to direct my loyal followers to. I can link products to blog posts with ease, I make more per order, and it’s much less busy from a visual standpoint. It has been a slow start, but so was starting on Etsy. I’m trusting God to use it in whatever ways He sees fit!

And of course, I just have to thank all of you who have made purchases directly on my website. Since the shop is still so new, I know most of you are coming from my mailing list or have been following me for a long time. Your support means the world to me and allows me to keep doing my dream job: creating and ministering to others.

Writing and releasing my first book with a publisher

Reflecting on 2021 wouldn’t be complete without remembering the book writing journey I have been on! My publisher approached me with the idea for The Bible in a Year in January. I wrote and illustrated it in the spring and it was finally released in November! I shared a lot about this experience with my subscribers in an email I sent out last month. You can read that here if you missed it! But in short, God used the whole process to grow in me a deeper dependence on Him and He wowed me with His great faithfulness!

Reflecting on 2021, looking ahead to 2022

These are just a few of the big changes, challenges, and milestones I think of when reflecting on 2021. But of course there have been so many more behind the scenes. I’ve shared here and there about my struggles with anxiety and the victories I’ve experienced through God’s strength… I finally got to respond to God’s call to lead in women’s ministry and I’ve had the privilege of discipling a young woman I met through this community. I became an auntie, gained a sister-in-law, grew in my marriage, and my relationship with Christ… It has been a challenging year, but one filled with so many things to be thankful for. Thank you, Jesus!

Coming Joys

As I look back on the joys and challenges of 2021, I am hopeful for the coming joys we will experience in 2022. There will inevitably be challenges in the year ahead – Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that we will face great trouble and suffering. We should expect it. But, He also reminds us that He has overcome the world! Lamentations 3:22-24 says God’s mercies are new every morning – great is His faithfulness! 

The past couple years have been challenging on a global scale and we all have individual struggles in addition to the challenges we share. But, we can rejoice, even in trials, with Jesus as our hope! He died and rose from the dead for unworthy sinners – for you and me. He paid the debt we could never pay. And, by grace through repentant faith our sins are forgiven and we are made right with God. In Jesus, we have eternal life and freedom from the weight of sin. He is our strength and sure hope. 

My prayer

It’s my prayer that we all will fall deeper in love with our merciful Savior in 2022 – that the new year would be one of salvation and greater surrender. I hope to continue to be used by Him in whatever ways He sees fit and that I’ll have many more opportunities to meet you here with biblical truth and resources to equip you to live out your faith.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

If you have not yet joined my community, what are you waiting for?? You’ll receive free resources, starting with a free e-devotional, and will receive tons of exclusive content to help you grow in your relationship with Christ. Click here to subscribe!


Hand-Picked Products