October 21, 2021
Spurring One Another On
By: Nicolelisa Schrader
Covid has separated us—isolated us—frightened us.
Last night, I gathered with a small group of Christian women who homeschool their children. Several of them shared struggles with anxiety, stress, and fear—in them and in their children. God moved my heart with love and compassion. I was glad to be there with them, listening, praying, encouraging. Our walk with Christ was never meant to be lived out alone.
The Lord led me to these verses in Hebrews 10 in my quiet time this morning:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
I love how the living, active, word of God often speaks to our hearts in very specific and relevant ways. When I’ve read these verses before, I focused on spurring my sisters and encouraging them—which is not to be overlooked. But last night, I realized the significance of not giving up meeting together.
In this age of social media groups and zoom gatherings, it’s easy to neglect meeting together with people in person. Last night, I was reminded of how necessary it is to have people in our lives who meet with us, hold our hands in prayer, cry with us, laugh with us, and hold us accountable in our walk with Christ.
There is a bond developed when we walk through life, with all its challenges, together. The connections we share strengthen and affirm our faith. We are told throughout scripture to love one another. Spending time with one another, praying with one another, serving one another, are ways we demonstrate our love.
Today, I recommit myself to meeting together with my sisters in Christ. Even as I write this to an online community, I’m asking God to open my eyes to opportunities to connect with you in a personal way.
I pray you will also consider how you might spur those in your life to love and good deeds. And I urge you not to give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another because the day of Jesus’ return is drawing nearer.
Are there people in your life God is calling you to reach out to?
Give them a call; write them a note; text them words of encouragement from the scriptures.
Are there ways in which you can be the hands and feet of Jesus in someone’s life?
Provide a ride; bring a meal; babysit.
Are there people who would be blessed by your praying with them?
Plan a date; pray through lunch; invite them over for weekly prayer.
Nicole is a retired homeschool mother of three and currently lives in central Florida with her husband, Greg. Nicolelisa loves to read to and with children and actively encourages mothers of young children online, in homeschool groups, churches, and in her community. She gave her life to Christ as a teenager and was discipled in a Japanese-American church in Chicago. Whether writing stories for children or posts for Wholehearted, her goal is to revere Jesus Christ as Lord and share the hope she has with gentleness and respect. For more about Nicolelisa, go to www.nicolelisamaria.com.
October 19, 2021
Resting in God’s Perfect Timing
By: Kyla Hardee
Waiting seems to describe my life most of the time. I wait to graduate from college, to get married and have a family of my own, or for the next exciting circumstance. Life seems to consist primarily of waiting for the next thing, and it seems so excruciating in the moment.
In times such as these, I am tempted to merely wait for God to reveal himself to me. I want to wait for a star to direct me where I need to go, and I want a door to suddenly open up right in front of me. I want to be led precisely where to go without the need to cry out to God in reliance and trust in his sovereign will. I want to do it the easy way.
I forget that the Lord leads his people through his revealed Word. Although the Spirit moves in various ways, his audible words are sealed within the canon of the Bible. All that I need is held within the pages of the book that so often lies beside my bed untouched with dust upon its cover.
We tend to pity ourselves in our waiting, looking inwardly instead of upward and outward. We want to simply wait for the next thing instead of using the time God has given us to grow in him while we wait.
Instead of using this time in selfishness, we must abide.
What is abiding?
Abiding is a state of dwelling within something. In John 15, Jesus uses the term “abide” in a metaphor of a vine and its branches. Just as the branches cannot live without the life-giving nourishment that the vine provides, so we cannot live without God and his life-giving Word.
Abiding is a state of being connected to Christ in a spirit of reliance as we bear fruit to the glory of God. It involves relying on God as a child relies on his father, coming to the Lord in prayer all throughout our days. It involves meditating on his Word so that we may know how to respond in obedience. We rely on him in prayer and read the Word in order to glorify him and point others to our ultimate source of joy and hope.
How do we abide?
Abiding is a complex term that includes trusting in Christ from hour to hour and minute to minute. It is resting in reliance as we go about our everyday lives. When we wake up in the morning, we ask for the strength to serve him throughout the day. When we sin, we cry out to him in repentance. When we are joyful, we express our thankfulness to him. When we are anxious, we cast our burdens upon him. Abiding involves turning to Christ in every situation we face, trusting in him alone for the strength that works through our weaknesses.
Abiding involves actively putting our sin to death. Our lives must be pruned as the branches of sin are cast away from our lives (John 15:2). When we repent of our sin and turn away from it, we are better able to honor God with our lives. As Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” In order to make the best use of our times of waiting, we must, as John Owen once said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing [us].”
But when we abandon God’s Word, we are not fully aware of our sin, “for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). God uses his Word to expose the sin in our lives so that he may prune us and draw us closer to himself. When we neglect to read and study his Word, our growth is stunted, and we often do not see the sin in our own lives. God’s Word reveals our sin so that we may repent and turn away from it.
Abiding involves obeying God’s commandments that are found in his Word. One way we are commanded to obey is by loving one another. Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” and in Matthew 22:37-39 he says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Studying God’s Word shows us how we are to respond to our salvation. Although we do not obey to obtain salvation, we obey as a result of salvation. We are called to love God with all of our being first and foremost, and out of our love for God, we are to overflow with love for others. When we are in a state of waiting, we tend to dwell inward. But when we are washed with the Word, we see that we were meant to use our time of waiting in obedience to God as we revolve our lives around our love for Christ and for others.
Why do we need to abide?
We abide so that we may bear fruit. Jesus says, “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 15:5). As we abide in Christ, we grow in him and become more like him. This growth proves that we are truly God’s children.
Jesus later says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). When we are connected to God in a life-giving relationship through being in his Word and relying wholeheartedly on him, we prove that the gospel truly does transform lives.
We abide so that our “joy may be full” (John 15:11). Abiding helps us remove our eyes from ourselves and our current circumstances and look unto Christ, who gives us joy to live well in the midst of our waiting.
Ultimately, when we rely on the Lord in prayer, obey his Word by loving one another, bear fruit by becoming more like Christ, and have joy in him, we fulfill our greatest purpose: to glorify our God and Savior. Even in the midst of waiting, we can push on with hope and joy, because we are not left without our source of life and nourishment.
Kyla Hardee is a college student who lives in Indianapolis. She has been blessed to have grown up in a Christian home all her life and is the oldest of six children. She loves to laugh, write, sing, read, schedule, and spend time with her family and friends. Kyla has a passion to spread the light of Christ as we await his imminent return, and her desire is to glorify God as she writes to encourage others in their pursuit of godliness. You can find out more about her and her other writings by visiting her blog, Lives Transformed.
October 14, 2021
Drawing on the Father’s love in the midst of emotional struggle
By: Christi Grimm
I swallowed hard, fighting back tears. I was there for a follow-up appointment, but you would have thought I had been given a death sentence. I couldn’t control the overwhelming sadness and the tears began flowing. On the other side of the room, sat a kind, older woman. She showed me empathy and handed me a tissue.
There was no major reason I should have been experiencing this kind of sadness. Sometimes middle-aged hormones do crazy things – I have officially entered a weird season! It’s like pregnancy without the end result. Depression isn’t something I have typically struggled with, so the last couple of months have thrown me for a loop. I will be abundantly grateful to be on the other side of this valley.
How do you worship when you feel so lost? When the sadness overwhelms? How do you hear from the Lord when the emotion seems to crowd out His Voice? How do you absorb His Word when your mind is so foggy you can’t remember the last sentence you read? How do you raise your arms in praise when you can’t seem to see in vibrant color, but only in drab, muted colors? How do you show God your love for Him when your passion seems to have all but left you? What then?
It is easy to praise, to worship, to raise our arms in thanksgiving, to live in awe, to have passion, to give love, and to listen and obey His Voice when your mind and body are clear. But what to do when you are middle-aged and struggling; you are young and pregnant; you are a confused teenager; or you are grieving a loss? What then?
Give thanks for His creation anyway.
Raise your arms in praise anyway.
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord who will provide) is worthy of my sacrifice.
He is worthy of my sacrifice of worship to Him even when my worship may be accompanied by tears and a cracking voice.
He is worthy of my sacrifice of sitting at His feet and reading His Word, even if it means I have to repeatedly read one verse because I do not have a clear mind at the moment.
He is worthy of my sacrifice of thanksgiving even if His creation doesn’t excite me right now and the colors are muted.
He is worthy of my sacrifice of lifting my arms in praise even if it means I am not lifting them with passionate overflow in my spirit.
But in all of this, if all I can do is “show up” right now, He will even receive that!
He receives our feeble attempts at coming to Him and He provides. He provides relief, perspective, another day, and steadiness. He is Jehovah Jireh: The God who Provides.
God’s Love for me is not based on how much I can do for Him. His Love for me is settled, it is provided – no matter what my hormones may be doing inside of me! I can never be MORE loved by my Savior and I can never be LESS loved by my Savior! This brings me great confidence, immense trust, and enormous faith in the midst of not feeling myself.
I KNOW He will provide for my needs- all of them. He will provide a way through the valley to the other side. He will provide ideas of solving the problem. He will provide the right professionals to help. He will provide any and everything we could ever need, think, or imagine! He is my Provider and He is your Provider! Lean on Him, no matter your current state, for He IS enough!
Christi is a fifth generation Florida girl who loves the sand, the sea, and the sunshine! When she is not busy mothering her 6 children, she enjoys her garden, traveling, experiencing new cultures, and indulging in warm chocolate chip cookies while reading a good book or journaling. Christi is passionate about bringing women alongside her into a life of freedom in Christ, and does so by leading Beauty for Ashes Women’s Retreats.
October 12, 2021
Three questions to ask yourself when you feel like you’re not connecting with God.
By: Erica Hunt
Spending time with God can be a deeply enriching experience, but there are seasons where it does not feel so enlightening. There are times in our Christian walk when we can feel really disconnected with God, even as we consistently keep up the spiritual practices that are supposed to deepen our relationship with Christ. We can feel let down when we make an effort to come to the Lord and spend time with Him and only feel as if He did not reciprocate the gesture.
A sense of dissatisfaction can be a good thing, if it shows that we desire a deeper connection. Taking time to evaluate our hearts will help us wade through the disappointing days when we feel disconnected from God. Here are three questions to ask yourself:
What do I mean when I say, “I do not feel connected with God?”
What do you actually mean by ‘connection’? Anytime you come to the Lord by reading his Word or spending time with Him in prayer is connection. How that connection makes you FEEL is going to be different almost every time. Do you mean that He did not make His presence known? Or that you did not feel emotionally connected? Were you expecting an audible voice or visions? Do you feel that He did not fulfill His “end of the deal” in some way? Take the time to be honest with yourself and with God and determine what exactly you are looking to get out of your quiet time.
Am I setting aside enough time to develop a meaningful connection?
This question can be tricky, because even our small moments, given sacrificially, can be pleasing to the Lord. But if you are spending moments in the Word, and feeling unsatisfied, it may be because you are not allowing enough time for a deep meaningful connection. Just as in any relationship, if we want to connect with someone, we spend time with them. Not a few minutes here and there, but good quality time over a cup of coffee or a shared activity. It’s the same with our heavenly Father. Finding some quality alone time with the Lord, may help deepen that connection.
Have I asked Him to connect with me?
Have you spent time in prayer preparing your heart for an encounter with God? Have you asked Him to reveal Himself to you in a deeper way? Have you asked Him to connect to your heart in a way that you can understand?
God is God; He can move mountains, part seas, hold the sun still, and answer you when you call out to Him. Sometimes, we have to be patient for His answer, but, until He does, we keep asking. Be persistent! God is not ignoring you. In Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples to “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who ask receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Mathew 7:7-8) As disciples we too, are commanded to pursue the Lord in this way.
Be encouraged that God does want to connect and have a relationship with His people; so much so that He pursued, served, and died for us! But, as in any relationship, a rich relationship with Jesus involves our wanting, prioritizing, and seeking time with Him. Evaluate your heart, set apart regular times to spend with the Lord, ask Him to show up for you. Do not be discouraged if feelings don’t change right away. Our feelings do not change God’s love for us, or His desire to connect with us.
Erica grew up on the South Dakota prairie, along the Missouri River. Growing up her parents introduced her to Jesus and taught her to walk in His way. She keeps busy teaching 7th and 8th grade students who keep her laughing and humble. Along with her love of the land she enjoys traveling, learning fun facts and historical information, and is always up for coffee, ice cream and a good conversation with friends. She and her husband, Justin, have been married just over a year and live in eastern South Dakota.
October 7, 2021
The do’s and don’ts of encouraging quiet time in the lives of our children.
By: Vanessa Bonilla
Disciple-making is a lot of work. Disciple-making under your own roof can feel impossible. I have found that one of the best ways to evaluate how I may be helping or hindering my children is by asking the hard questions. This time of questioning is a time to speak without reservation; my goal is to allow them the opportunity to get certain things off their chest, without the fear of disappointing me.
I recently talked with my two teenage daughters about their quiet time habits. I asked what I have done to help develop and encourage this habit and how I might have hurt the consistency of their time with Jesus. It was quite an enlightening conversation. I was reminded of how completely different my daughters are from one another and was given many ideas in how to help them. The following list of Do’s and Don’ts are from that conversation.
I didn’t realize that, although I have spoken about this many times before, I had never taken the time to explain the reasons for daily time with Jesus with her specifically.
At the end of my child’s day it won’t matter if I taught them all the knowledge this world has to offer. It won’t matter if I taught them how to be the best in every sport they’ve shown interest in. It won’t matter if I’ve given them every item they’ve ever desired. If I don’t show them how worth it is to love the Lord with all of their heart, all their soul, all their strength and all their mind everything else will be meaningless.
May the Lord direct you as you engage with your children, mentees, or friends. May our goal always be to share about Christ’s majestic, magnificent, unconditional, everlasting love and how being in communion with Him will always be the best thing we could ever do.
Vanessa is the daughter of a Pastor, baby of six and a homeschooling mom of five. Married to her wonderful husband of eight years, they serve in their local church together. She loves fresh fruit, nights by the fire pit, and time with friends and family. Vanessa has watched God do amazing things in her life. Assaulted at a young age, teen mom and the survivor of an abusive marriage left her life in pieces. Today she stands restored and uses the testimony of brokenness to help build others and encourage women to discover the fullness of a relationship with God.
October 5, 2021
Managing Quiet Time Expectations
By: Grace McCready
You’ve been praying for the same thing for three months, every single day. But you don’t hear God saying anything.
You’ve been reading the book of Leviticus for your Bible reading plan. But you don’t understand why it’s even in the Bible.
You’ve been trying to incorporate worship into your quiet time. But you don’t get the same vibes that you get from worshiping God at church.
You’ve been sitting in silence for a few minutes during each of your quiet times. But you don’t feel anything except loneliness in the silence.
You’ve been attempting to memorize short passages of Scripture. But you don’t seem to have the gift for memorization that ministry leaders seem to have.
These things make your quiet time incredibly un-glamorous, but so do your constantly changing thoughts and emotions. Anger, anxiety, disappointment, fear, frustration, and a hundred other feelings overwhelm your quiet time. Sometimes, you simply can’t focus. Your heart, mind, and body are squirmy.
There are certainly challenges to having a regular quiet time. But those challenges only increase if you believe that your quiet time must somehow be attractive or feel sophisticated. When we have that expectation and our time with Jesus consistently falls short of our expectations it’s easy to begin wondering if it’s even worth the effort.
The devil absolutely loves to side-track us into such thoughts. Here are some of his favorite doubts to share with believers.
“Why pray if you’re not going to get the response you want?”
“Why read the Bible if you’re going to feel confused?”
“Why worship if you’re going to be bored?”
“Why be silent if you’re going to feel lonely?”
“Why memorize Scripture if you’re going to struggle with it so much?”
Satan is an expert at making us doubt. I’ve fallen into his traps of doubts countless times, and I still fall into them. But it’s an unhealthy place to be.
Perhaps no one has directly told you, “Hey, your quiet time needs to look like _____.” But, deep down, you believe that your quiet time has to look a certain way, almost glamorous. A time of complete silence, complete focus, and complete refreshment.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a quiet time when there was complete silence, complete focus, and complete refreshment.
Remember, dear friend, that you are so, so human. Humans are fallible, limited, tired, and easily distracted. I know it stinks, but that’s who you are on this earth. I promise that God knows how human you are.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our form; He is mindful that we are nothing but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; like a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place no longer knows about it. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting for those who fear Him, and His justice to the children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts, so as to do them. (Psalm 103:13-18 NASB, emphasis mine)
I know it’s easy to do, but don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself for your quiet time to somehow look glamorous or attractive or inspiring. Your quiet time doesn’t belong on a pedestal. (In fact, no one’s quiet time does.) The pedestal belongs to God alone. So put Him there and make your quiet time about Him instead of about how it looks, what you do, or how you feel while doing it.
-Form realistic expectations for your quiet time.
-Don’t get side-tracked by doubts and lies from Satan.
-Make your quiet time about Jesus—nothing less.
Grace McCready is a recent college grad who studied business administration and communications. She enjoys writing, spending time with her family, and hanging out with friends. Her passion is for young women to live transparently and thrive during their single years. She blogs about the Christian life at Tizzie’s Tidbits of Truth.
September 29, 2021
Names of God found in the Old Testament
By: Tristany Corgan
A person’s name can tell us a lot about who they are. If you see the name Dr. Brown, you know that that person has pursued higher education and graduated with a doctoral degree. If that person also goes by Professor Brown, you learn that this person works for a university, spending their days teaching students and grading papers. If you find that this professor is a Mrs. Brown, you discover not only that she is a woman, but also that she is married. And if you hear her called “Mom,” you realize that Dr. Brown is also a mother. These names—Dr. Brown, Professor Brown, Mrs. Brown, and Mom—all refer to the same person, yet each name tells you a little something different about her.
It’s the same with God. As we read and study our Bibles, we come across many different names used to talk about God. While these names are quite different from each other, they all refer to the same God, the God of the Universe, the only true and faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with His people (Deuteronomy 7:9). But each of these names tells us a little something different about Him, and together they give us a better, fuller picture of who our God is. Three of the most common names used in the Old Testament are God (Elohim), Lord (Adonai), and LORD (Yahweh).
Elohim is one of most common names of God in the Old Testament. The word is translated as “God,” and it is used over 2,500 times in the Hebrew Bible, including in the very first verse – “In the beginning, [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, ESV) This name of God emphasizes His greatness and power and also shows Him to be our creator, sustainer, and judge. (1) David surely understood this when he wrote, “O, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous—you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous [Elohim]!” (Psalm 7:9)
Something interesting about this name for God is that Elohim is actually a plural term. What is so significant about this detail? The name Elohim points us to God’s trinitarian nature. Our trinitarian God is three persons—God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons, but they are all the one true God. So, when we read about Elohim, it’s a reminder that all three persons of the Trinity are at work.
While “God” is probably the most common name we use to refer to the One whom we worship and serve, this is not His personal name. In fact, the term elohim is also used in Scripture to refer to human rulers and false gods. (2) When speaking about humans, Asaph wrote in Psalm 82, “I said, ‘You are [elohim], sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” (vv. 6-7). Moses, speaking to the Israelites, declared, “And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. And there you will serve [elohim] of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.” (Deuteronomy 4:27-28).
Now, this does not mean that we can no longer call Him “God” or “Elohim.” This name is still a great reminder of His greatness. However, it also serves as a reminder to always pay attention to biblical context.
Adonai is another common name for God in the Old Testament. The term translates as “Lord,” and it highlights the authority, power, and influence our God has. He is our master and our ruler, and this name is like a title of respect. (3) As Israel crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, Joshua proclaimed, “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the [Adonai] of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan.” (Joshua 3:11) Like Elohim, Adonai is also a plural word, which again points us to God’s trinitarian nature. (4)
This name for God is also like Elohim in that it is also used to refer to humans in the Bible. (5) In 1 Samuel, David called King Saul adonai: “Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, ‘My [adonai] the king!’ And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage.” (1 Samuel 24:8) Again, this does not mean that we cannot call God “Lord” or “Adonai,” for they still remind us that He is our sovereign King, the King of kings. Yet, we also see that Adonai is not our Lord’s personal name either. If Elohim and Adonai are not God’s personal name, then what is?
God’s personal name is Yahweh, and He introduces Himself as this in the Burning Bush: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: ‘[Yahweh] has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14) As Yahweh, God is the great I Am—the One who was, the One who is, and the One who always will be (Revelation 1:8). This name highlights God’s self-existence, self-sufficiency, and eternality.
In Hebrew, God’s name was actually spelled YHWH, which is called the tetragrammaton (which means “four letters”). This is because the Hebrew alphabet does not contain any vowels. Also, this name was considered unsayable, for anyone who took this name in vain would have received the death penalty, according to Jewish Law: “Whoever blasphemes the name of [Yahweh] shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:16a) When the Jews would read the scriptures, they would substitute YHWH for Adonai to ensure they never misused the personal name of God. Therefore, scholars even to this day do not really know how to pronounce YHWH. The name is typically pronounced Yahweh (whose vowels came from Adonai or Elohim), and some have even translated the name as Jehovah. (6)
Many people in the Old Testament actually combined Yahweh with another word to reflect their personal experience with God and further describe His character and nature. To Abraham, He was Yahweh Jireh, the LORD who provides (Genesis 22:14). To Moses, He was Yahweh Rapha, the LORD who heals (Exodus 15:26). To Gideon, He was Yahweh Shalom, the LORD who brings peace (Judges 6:24). To David, He was Yahweh Raah, the LORD who shepherds us (Psalm 23:1). And to many people throughout the Old Testament, He was Yahweh Sabaoth, the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 47:4).
What’s in a Name?
A name tells us a lot, and God’s names tell us a lot about Him, who He is, and what He does. He is Elohim—the triune creator, the powerful sustainer, and the great judge. He is Adonai, our sovereign King, our master who is worthy of our respect and fear. He is Yahweh, the One who has always existed and will always exist for all eternity. He is our provider, our healer, our peace, our shepherd, and the commander of angel armies. He is God, and He loves and cares for His people. Next time you’re reading through the Old Testament, pay attention to what names of God are used and the significance of those names in the narrative and remember to praise and glorify God for who He is.
1. “What is the meaning of the word Elohim?”, Got Questions, accessed June 15, 2021, https://www.gotquestions.org/meaning-of-Elohim.html.
3. “What is the meaning of the word Adonai?”, Got Questions, accessed June 16, 2021, https://www.gotquestions.org/meaning-of-Adonai.html.
4. Don Stewart, “What Does the Hebrew Term Adonai Stand For?”, Blue Letter Bible, accessed June 16, 2021, https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1304.cfm.
5. “What is the meaning of the word Adonai?”, Got Questions, accessed June 16, 2021, https://www.gotquestions.org/meaning-of-Adonai.html.
6. “What is YHWH?”, Got Questions, accessed June 18, 2021, https://www.gotquestions.org/YHWH-tetragrammaton.html.
Tristany lives in sunny central Florida. She graduated in May 2021 with her master’s degree in Biblical Exposition from Liberty University, and she works at a local Christian non-profit. She is an avid reader, amateur photographer, and self-proclaimed theology nerd, and she loves flowers, oldies music, and going to Disney World. Tristany has a passion for encouraging women to know and love the Word of God, and she writes about the Bible and theology regularly at tristanycorgan.com.
September 27, 2021
Quiet Time in Suffering
By: Jordan Sparnroft
How do you have a quiet time when you’re struggling just to get out of bed and even brushing your teeth is a struggle? Quiet time in suffering is not going look like the images you see on your favorite Christian influencer’s Instagram. It probably won’t have the cozy blanket, soft lighting, hot cup of coffee, beautiful prayer journal, leather-bound Bible and sun rising perfectly in the background.
When I was losing a parent to cancer, experiencing two miscarriages in a row, and facing a serious diagnosis for my new baby, I had not established a quiet time routine and the Quiet Time Companion didn’t exist. I was spending time with God but it definitely wasn’t an image you would want to see scrolling through Instagram. Instead of being wrapped in a cozy warm quilt, I was smothered under a blanket of grief and the only words I could utter were: ‘Why?’ and ‘Jesus.’
When you’re struggling to do life’s most basic tasks, prayer does not come easy. Just uttering the name of ‘Jesus’ is enough. Yet, there are some means of grace that are especially fitting for us and our quiet time during seasons of suffering.
Suffering is a prime opportunity to let the body of Christ do what it was meant to do: bear each other’s burdens. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus was wrestling with the immense suffering ahead of Him, He called upon His friends to come and pray with Him. In your suffering, reach out to your people who love Jesus. Don’t just ask them to pray for you but request that they pray with you. Ask them to text you Bible verses proclaiming Who God is and that remind you of His promises.
Play worship music and lots of it! Even when you don’t feel like it. It takes the focus off of you and puts it back on Christ. Put on the Dwell app and have the Psalms read over you while you sleep.
God often speaks to us the most in the midst of suffering. However, we easily miss it if we’re not careful. Ask Him to open your eyes and your heart to His grace. It’s easy to lose sight of Him in the midst of chaos. Looking for His grace allows us to see. This form of worship and thankfulness breathes life into your darkest moments. Look for His grace in every small thing. Thank Him for DoorDash, modern medicine, a hug from a dear friend, the Facebook group of people who are navigating the same waters of grief, a kind smile from a stranger, a hot shower, a nap, etc. The little things are the big things. When you look back on your suffering, these are the moments you will remember seeing God most clearly.
A quiet time is as necessary in sorrow, trial, and pain as it is as it is on our good days (if not more so!). It’s just going to look very different. When – by God’s grace – you are able to have that ‘Instagram snap shot’ kind of quiet time, frantically write it all down: everything you’re going through. Don’t hold back, God can handle it. Document your anger, your questions, your confusion, your sadness, and anxiety. When I look back at those tear-stained pages, they’re my most cherished prayers. I remember that as I wrote them, God felt so far away; but when I look back on those entries, His love and mercy are written all over them and I feel Him closer than ever before.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Applications for quiet time in suffering:
1) Don’t expect your quiet time to look picture perfect.
2) Depend on other believers!
4) Look for the grace God is showing you and say thanks.
5) Honestly pour out your heart to God; He can handle it!
Jordan grew up on a farm located in a small town in Virginia. She married her NY native husband 8 years ago. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Jordan was a professional mental health therapist. Apart from raising her 2.5 year old daughter with a complex medical diagnosis, Jordan also teaches English to kids in China online. Through numerous trials involving grief and loss she endured in her 20s, Jordan fell more in love with Jesus and realizes her need for Him everyday. Her passion for studying God’s word and knowing Him more deeply grows with each passing day.
September 23, 2021
The Secret to Successfully Memorizing Scripture
By: Katie Stone
I grew up memorizing scripture but truthfully, I didn’t enjoy it. Memorizing was something I did because I was encouraged to by my parents and Sunday school teachers.
When I was around 17, I stumbled across a YouTube video of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth quoting scripture from memory. For over thirty minutes, I watched and listened in awe, not of her recitation skills, but of God. Quoting prophesy and New Testament fulfillment of the life of Jesus Christ, she magnified the Lord through the declaration of His word. It was beautiful, powerful, and captivating. In that half hour, I became convinced that my experience of memorizing scripture fell short of what God intended His word to do in the life of a person who hides it in their heart. Those thirty minutes were a taste of joy that left me starving for more.
Nancy didn’t just recite words; it was obvious that she loved the Author of those words. She believed those words and was passionate about them because He spoke them.
That YouTube video led me to listen to an interview with Janet Pope, author of His Word in My Heart, a woman who has memorized dozens of chapters of the Bible. What impacted me the most from the interview—and what has continued to spur me on to memorize scripture—was her secret to successful memorizing:
Janet Pope said, “Why have I been so successful at memorizing scripture? It’s because I have a higher goal than just to memorize the Bible. That’s not my goal. My goal is to know God and to walk closely with Him.”
In this article, I won’t dive into methods and techniques. My goal is simply to set before you a vision of the joy and blessing of hiding God’s word in your heart. I pray that the same hunger for God that Nancy’s 30-minute recitation stirred in my soul will be awakened in yours.
Motivated by love
As with everything in the Christian life, our motive for memorizing the Bible impacts our experience. We are to obey the Lord out of love, not out of duty. Many of us know this. However, we come up with a multitude of reasons to memorize besides simple love and desire for Christ.
We start memorizing in order to fight sin, to guard our minds from false teaching, to know our Bible better, to become equipped to share the gospel, or for comfort during trials. We soon realize that memorizing scripture doesn’t always work to accomplish these purposes. The Pharisees knew the law and prophets inside and out and still crucified their Messiah.
A man named Richard Wurmbrandt, who spent 14 years in prison in Communist Russia, explains why this happens. When asked which Bible verse helped and strengthened him during his years in prison he answered,
“NO Bible verse was of any help… Bible verses alone are not meant to help.”
We knew Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” When you pass through suffering you realize that it was never meant by God that Psalm 23 should strengthen you. It is the Lord who can strengthen you, not the Psalm which speaks of Him so doing. It is not enough to have the Psalm. You must have the One about whom the Psalm speaks. We also knew the verse: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” But the verse is not sufficient. It is the Grace which is sufficient and not the verse.
…Holy words are only the means to arrive at the reality expressed by them.
If you are united with the Reality, the Lord Almighty, evil loses its power over you; it cannot break the Lord Almighty. If you only have the words of the Lord Almighty you can be very easily broken.1”
Memorizing scripture can never win the fight against sin. It cannot comfort us in our trials. It cannot protect us from false teaching. It cannot make us effective evangelists.
What it can do is lead us to Christ. It is Christ alone has defeated sin and enables us to overcome. It is Christ alone who comforts us in our trails, who leads us into truth, who gives us the boldness and wisdom to be an effective witness.
Memorizing the entire Bible is utterly worthless and powerless if it doesn’t lead you to Jesus.
As Paul said, “[I was] a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee…concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…that I may know Him.” (Phil 3:5-10)
Holy words are only the means to arrive at the reality expressed by them.
The reality is Jesus: the Word of God made flesh. The words of the Bible are the means of knowing Christ.
This is the first and primary reason we memorize scripture. When we meditate on the Word of God we are meditating on the God of the Word. He will reveal Himself to us as we seek Him through His Word.
Memorizing scripture is also a way to spend time with Jesus; similar to talking with a friend over coffee. When we memorize His word and respond to it in prayer and praise, we are spending time talking with God.
Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord
Psalm 1 says, “blessed is the man who…[delights] in the law of the Lord and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its’ fruit in its’ season. Whose leaf also shall not whither and whatever he does shall prosper.”
This is a blessing declared and promised by God who cannot lie. While we do not memorize to get God’s blessings, God has promised that He will bless those who meditate on His Word day and night. When we search for Him with all our heart we will find Him and when we get Jesus, He gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. All things that pertain to life and godliness can only be found in Christ, not apart from Him.
Do you want to know Jesus intimately? Do you long for rich fellowship with Christ throughout your day? Meditate on His Word. Behold His majesty and goodness. Think upon His marvelous works.
“Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)
For additional resources on memorizing scripture I encourage you to visit the links below:
Katie lives in a big city near the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Which means she loves a trendy coffee shop as much as the smell of campfire and pine. She currently works as a graphic designer/social media manager/content creator but is most happy while leading worship and discipling younger girls. At 16, Jesus transformed her quiet time from 10 minutes of duty into her favorite part of the day and ever since, Katie has had a passion to encourage and equip others to get into God’s word for the purpose and joy of knowing Jesus.
September 21, 2021
The Importance of Weekly Rest
By: Christi Grimm
I have recently come to the end of an extremely busy season. From May 1st through August 22nd I was traveling much more than I was home. This is no exaggeration! Each time I traveled it was wonderful and I feel incredibly blessed that my husband has been able to provide for my children, for others, and for myself in this way. However, just because a person is enjoying themselves, it does not necessarily mean they are at rest – physically or spiritually. Although I was regularly spending time with Jesus – reading the Word, connecting with Him as I enjoyed His creation, and in community with other believers – I found myself physically and spiritually tired. As the busy season of travel came to a close, I could not wait to set aside a day to just BE with my Savior; an entire day where I planned nothing outside of resting in His presence! It couldn’t come quick enough!
The third commandment given to us in the book of Exodus is this: “You and your family are to remember the Sabbath Day; set it apart, and keep it holy. You have six days to do all your work, but the seventh day is to be different; it is the Sabbath of the Eternal your God. Keep it holy by not doing any work…” It goes on to say, “For the Eternal made the heavens above, the earth below, the seas, and all the creatures in them in six days. Then, on the seventh day, He rested.” (Exodus 20:8-11, The Voice)
I find it interesting that God would think so highly of the Sabbath that He would give this command just behind (1) Putting Him first and (2) Do not misuse His Name. Why is it that this weekly Holy-day (holiday) is so frequently forgotten? This has to be the most underrated holiday known to man! Why do we not hold this special time as sacred? I believe Satan has used busyness to cause us to forget how important it is to have quiet time with Jesus through the Sabbath.
If I were Satan and I wanted to truly destroy God’s people, I would rid them of the Sabbath. I would cause them to believe productivity is more important than rest. I would cause them to idolize their accomplishments. In this way, the people would fall! They would be too exhausted to read the Word, too exhausted to listen for His Voice, too exhausted to carry out the mission He has given them. The people would begin to believe they don’t have time to rest- there is too much to be done.
The reality is that we don’t have time NOT to rest. If we are to be soldiers in a heavenly kingdom, we had better rest up for the battle that comes weekly. We win the battle on the Sabbath! Because it is in our preparation (our rest) that He refills us with the strength we will need to persevere in the week ahead. He refreshes, He renews, He restores. And so much of this is done on the Holy and Sacred Sabbath.
I want to challenge you to observe this Holy-Day. Set aside (significant) time to simply BE with Jesus. Say no to the busyness for just one day! The laundry will still be there, the dust waiting for you to clean. Yet the Sabbath will slip away. Week after week it beckons to us, sitting in the corner waiting for us to accept its invitation. Instead, we accept the invitation from the call of dirty clothing. We can afford a bit of dirty clothes. We cannot afford to show up for battle exhausted. Remember the Sabbath, keep it Holy.
Ideas for The Sabbath
Christi is a fifth generation Florida girl who loves the sand, the sea, and the sunshine! When she is not busy mothering her 6 children, she enjoys her garden, traveling, experiencing new cultures, and indulging in warm chocolate chip cookies while reading a good book or journaling. Christi is passionate about bringing women alongside her into a life of freedom in Christ, and does so by leading Beauty for Ashes Women’s Retreats.