March Bible Reading Challenge Week 3 Summary

Welcome to the March Bible reading challenge week 3 summary! I pray that you are continuing to read along as we travel from Hebrews through I John. Beginning with last Friday’s reading, let’s take a look at the summaries for the week.

Hebrews 13

Such wisdom is contained in chapter 13 of this book; many of the verses remind me of the Twitter effect- short sentences packed with powerful meaning. New Testament passages that refer to Old Testament passages are always special. We can see an example of this in verse 6:” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)

James 1

I find James to be the most interesting character. Without pulling any punches, he immediately digs in and says “Be happy in trials because this means you’re going to come out stronger on the other side.”

James speaks quite a bit to holding the tongue; don’t you find that intriguing since this particular James is thought to be the cousin of Jesus? Makes me wonder what kind of family these men had! The last verse of this chapter is a verse I’m very familiar with:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Amen and amen. But wow, I had to step back a bit and process the verse before this one, because it is not often included with the last one.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

I can’t even unpack that in a summary, but it’s definite food for thought.

One more verse!

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Did you have any thoughts about these two verses specifically?

James 2

James spends the majority of this chapter explaining that while faith is wonderful and good, if we do not act on our faith, it’s not worth anything. The last verse of this chapter sums it up well:

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 3

James has been named “The Proverbs of the New Testament.” This chapter seems to be the foundation of that title as the power of the tongue and the topic of wisdom is explained throughout the chapter. The word pictures painted by the author create great visuals. As a girl who grew up in the hills, I chuckled a bit when good and bad are coming from the same mouth were compared to “Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” Nope, doesn’t work.

How would you word this comparison in today’s lingo?

James 4

James certainly names sins throughout his short book of 5 chapters. In this chapter, he warns against quarreling, fighting, murder, and pride, to name a few. But I think the most convicting point from James, at least for me, is the last one in the chapter.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

You may have heard the terms “sins of commission” – meaning those things we actually commit or do. And “sins of omission” meaning exactly what James names above.

Have you ever thought about sins of omission before?

From this chapter, I chose a favorite portion of a verse that I love to hold close to my heart:

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8a

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James 5

Chapter 5 is an admonition on prayer and I love that! James encourages persistence in praying and in this beautiful chapter full of teaching on prayer, we find a verse familiar to many of us:

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As Max Lucado says:
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”

Amen.

I Peter 1

Peter begins his letter much the same as James, speaking about trials and how their purpose is to bring glory to God. He strongly encourages the believers and his desire is for the readers to focus on Christ’s sacrifice for us, the purity of the believer as a result of Christ, and the love that should result in our lives.

What did you learn this week from the reading? I can’t wait to hear about it!

Rachel

A Prayer for Boldness

Whether starting a small business, adopting a baby, or moving across state lines, acting on life’s big decisions requires significant character. Wisdom and understanding? Yes. Deep desire and passion? Yes. But one thing larger-than-life decisions require is completely undeniable.

That one trait? Boldness.

A little over a week ago, a friend and I sat down and talked about what God is doing in our lives and the current mission we believe God has us to do. She asked me about a few of the projects I believe God has placed on my heart and as we talked, I realized something. I had given my friend some of the ideas floating around in my head and some of them that have made their way to paper, but the truth is: I’m afraid to fully share my visions for ministry.

If you can’t even dare to tell someone your ideas, then how in the world will you ever see them come to life?

So my prayer for the last ten days or so has been for boldness. My guess is that you have a few life decisions of your own that require courage beyond your own, so I wanted to share this prayer for boldness with you.

A Prayer for Boldness

Dear Father,

When I think about the largeness of life,
I often feel small and unknown.
The task ahead hangs over me
And instead of enjoying the adventure,
I’m embracing the anxiety.
Jesus, help me be strong.
Oh that my heart would dare for you
With total abandonment of my inhibitions.
May your love abolish any fears
And exchange my wavering for unfaltering.
May your strength annihilate my feeble thoughts
And infuse my spirit with your power.
Give me the boldness to step forward
In full courage for your glory.
Because Your Word promises
that you began a good work in me
And you will complete it.
May I fully believe and treasure the promise.
Amen.

a prayer for boldness

 

 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I hope you find mounds of courage and depths of bravery upon praying this prayer for boldness today!

Rachel

 

5 Ideas Generated By Running A Half Marathon

On Sunday I completed my fourth half marathon. Wow, it’s hard to believe that’s true since “I’m not a runner.” I don’t run to compete; typically I finish about mid-pack for my age and gender. I don’t run to break records; though I was close to a personal record yesterday.  :)

I simply run to think, pray, listen and learn- mostly more about my Creator. All the other benefits are great, but God always gives me ideas when I run.

And here are the 5 ideas generated from yesterday’s half.

1. At the race start and for the first mile, many runners shed their outer layers.  It’s kind of humorous to watch all the clothes getting flung into the air over the crowd to the sides of the race corrals.  Pants, jackets, gloves…. What would be awesome is if churches would come and collect the clothing for homeless shelters. Or there was a ministry called “Race Scraps for Jesus.” A little crazy, but seriously! Wouldn’t it be cool?

2. One of my favorite races, the Nashville Music City Half, sports lives bands every few miles. Around mile 6 on Sunday in St. Louis, I prayed for a worship band. Just before mile 8, my prayer was answered. Interesting how God knew what I needed even before I did.  The name of Jesus holds so much strength.  My light bulb moment regarding this:

Christian music needs more songs with the name of Jesus and I need to revisit the ones that include His name.

3. At one point on a long uphill, I stopped running and started walking.  Someone yelled to me: Don’t let the hill stop you! Ok, so I wasn’t really encouraged by this shout.  I wasn’t letting the hill STOP me; I just needed a short reprieve. As my husband said, “That’s pretty easy to say when you are sitting on the sidelines with a warm cup of coffee in your hand,” watching the sun rise and “cheering” runners as a sidebar.  And the idea formed:

All encouragement is not created equal.

4. St. Louis has quite the combination of old and new buildings downtown.  When looking around at the architecture, I viewed interesting details and combinations of classic and modern styles, creating an eclectic, but exciting effect. My thoughts: Old ideas don’t always need dropped.  Their structures are strong; the foundations secure.  But resurfacing them adds spark and relevance.

5. Finish lines should be a place of rejoicing! I typically just run across smiling.  But this time, something came over me and I felt completely out of character.  I literally leaped across the finish line- and it felt good.  But as I crossed, I overheard someone  on the sideline say “That was weird.” And the fact was reiterated to me that not everyone will rejoice when I rejoice.

Rejoice with others whether or not you comprehend their journey or their victory.

I leave you with the great line of Forrest Gump:

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Have you ever had a time when someone didn’t understand your joy?  How did you respond?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments.