Psalm 1

Want the study? —>Psalm 1

Psalm 1 is said to be the preface Psalm in which the rest of the book is based. This Psalm begins with “Blessed” linking it to the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3.

Our guest leader, Jen, came armed and ready to lead our group today with powerful insights and practical truths to live out.

Top 5 take always from group today:

(1) The world says walk, stand and then sit- living a life that is comfortable and godless. It’s easy to sit and stay complacent. Our relationship with God is opposite- Sit (with God and read His Word), stand (full of His Spirit and mediate on His truth), then Walk (live a life that reflects the internal transformation of His Spirit within you).

(2) verse 3, implies that the blessed man/woman will bear fruit as a result of his faithfulness to continually seek God… first the root (relationship with God), then the fruit (acts). Most importantly, we are to act in the fruit of the Spirit (character of God). We are dispensers of God’s character toward others. When pushed what comes out of you? Which fruit of the Spirit do you struggle with the most? (Genesis 12:2 God told Abraham that he would bless others, dispense good toward others.)

(3) We are women planted by streams of water. Jesus said He was the living water in John 4:14. The closer we plant ourselves to Jesus, the more abundance and fullness of life we experience: internally and externally.

(4) We study and meet together so we each can grow into the fullness and maturity of God by knowing His Word, living His Word and loving His Word. We will not be like a chaff blown away by the wind because we know what and why we believe. Planted. Rooted. Unshakable.

(5) Three ways God measures success: speak His Word, meditate on His Word and obey. (Joshua 1:8)

#RisingOaks
#WomenintheWord

 

Psalm Study Series

 

This Friday starts our Psalm study series that will take us to September.

Each week of Psalm Study Series we will have a guest leader, from within our group, that will study her little heart out, prepare questions and lead us through the Psalm of the week.

Come expecting God to do something amazing.


Each Week Study will look like this:

This week we will study ________.

(1) Read Psalm ____ in two different translations.

(2) Write out your favorite translation of Psalm _____ **double spaced

(3) Mark it up: circle, highlight, underline:

*Define unknown words.
*Look up related cross references.
*Rewrite certain verses that stand out to you in your own words.
*Write out a prayer using this passage.

(4)Reflection:

*What does this passage reveal about who God is?
*What does this passage reveal about yourself?
*What stands it to you as you read?
*What is confusing?

(5) Meditate:

*Which verse stuck out to you the most? Why?

*Memorize and pray that verse—> How is God changing you with His Word this week?


Get ready, it’s going to be amazing! !! ??

A Dash of Doubt

I’ve been struggling. 

I have not written a devotional or blog post in a while. I needed to take a step back and evaluate what God was really leading me to do.

I needed to minimize distractions and focus on His voice. It’s easy to lose sight of Him and His direction when we get distracted by the world’s standards and what others say is important. That’s what I call a dash of doubt. It’s a passing comment from someone, a brief look at someone else’s life or a quick thought that can open the door for the enemy to jump right in mixing up the dash of doubt with a spoonful of desire for new, better or more, a cup of discontentment, and a whole box of feelings.

I’ve been struggling with restlessness over the season of life that I am in right now. I’m a stay at home mom, housewife, and the glue that keeps my family together. Those first two jobs are seemingly insignificant according to the world. But without the first two (momma and wife) I wouldn’t have the privilege of being glue.

“Do your everyday and your ordinary, Godliness is found and formed in those places. No man or woman greatly used by God has escaped them.” Jennie Allen, author of Anything

I’ve heard God tell me many times already to remain faithfully available and He will put me firmly in place. I knew coming into my 29th year of life that this was going to be a preparatory year for me. I clearly heard God tell me He was going to be refining, transforming and molding me this year. With this revelation I have had struggles— growing pains.

As a child I would get severe legs pains, growing pains, that would start at the top of my leg and pulsate down to my feet. When this happened I would cry out to my Mom who would then grab the heating pad and ibuprofen. She knew the drill. She knew what would cause the pain to subside. When the pain became this intense I couldn’t even walk. I would miss school and have to hang out with the heating pad.

That’s how my struggle feels right now. It’s painful because I’m growing. I know what will cause the pain to subside. I know that when I keep my eyes focused on Jesus and trust in His plan, His timing and His Big Story that everything will workout. When I stay in consistent communication with Him and remain thankful for what He’s given me, the pain subsides. I can walk, I can happily participate in my life.

In Genesis 3, we find Eve and the serpent having the conversation that would lead to the Fall of Man. Oh Eve… (face palm)

Let’s look at Genesis chapter 3 and see how Satan used the dash of doubt with Eve.

First, in verse 1 the serpent removed God’s Name “the LORD God” to say “God.” Little removals of God’s sovereignty are dangerous. It slowly diminished how we see Him and who He is— the creator of all mankind, the maker of the Heavens and the Earth, the Lord of lords and King of kings.

Then, in verse 2, Eve repeated two important things. First, she also removed God’s Name just like the serpent. Secondly, she repeated what God commanded regarding what to eat. She started losing sight of Him but tried to hold on with remembering what her purpose was on this earth. She tried. Ultimately, she fell into the pot where Satan put the dash of doubt with a spoonful of better, a cup of discontentment and a whole lot of feelings.

Verse 4 (NLT), says “the woman was convinced.”

Convince: to move by argument or evidence to belief, agreement, consent or a course of action.

It’s easy to be convinced when we lose sight of the Big picture, God’s Story and His truth.

A puzzle piece doesn’t make sense individually. Together, puzzle pieces make the picture complete.

Eve lost sight of that truth.

It’s easy to do what we want, what our flesh wants, what we already know to do. It’s more difficult to be consistent in obedience and remain steadfast, trusting God- especially when we are distracted. Eve removed God’s name- in essence- she lost sight of Him.

“Jesus says the way we glorify God, the way we step into His story, is by accomplishing the word God gives us to do… We play our part in His story, and the beauty is, it was what we were made for.” Jennie Allen, author of Anything.

I’m challenged by this passage of scripture in Genesis. I refuse to let Satan in with his manipulating recipe of lies. I’m choosing to meditate on His truth instead of my own self doubt. I’m choosing to remember my small, yet important, part in His Big Story. I’m choosing to remain in constant communication with Him.

Have you been challenged by Genesis 3 today? What distractions do you need to eliminate to better hear His voice?

God’s will for us is to remain in constant communication with Him- so when doubt slips in we are quick to speak with Him, letting Him fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him, His timing, His plans. Rely on His truth above our own circumstances and thoughts.


Related Scripture:

Isaiah 26:3

Romans 7:23, 8:1-11, 15:13

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Why Pray First

Scripture to Read

John 14:23-27; 16:12-15, Luke 24:32, Ephesians 1:16-20, James 1:5, Hebrews 4:12-16


Devotional

God always shows up when we reach out to Him.

Imagine going to your parents house for dinner one night. Your mom took great care to make your favorite meal. You walk into your parents house, sit down at the table, eat the delicious dinner and then leave the house without saying a single would to your mom or dad.

The meal wouldn’t be as satisfying and you would feel like something was missing— conversation, relationship, acknowledgment of all the work your mom put into preparing and cooking the meal for you.

Not only would you feel as though something was amiss, your mom would feel hurt and sad that you came and didn’t even want to talk to her. She had so much to tell you and just wanted to spend time with you, hearing about your dreams and passions. She has so much wisdom that she’s bursting to impart into you.

Would you ever do that? Then why do that to God?

That’s why talking to God first thing in the morning and before diving into His Word is so important.

He’s prepared His Word for you, has wisdom to impart into you and loves spending time with you. The more time spent with God the more we grow to love Him and understand His love for us.

“When you live in prayer mode, you live with holy anticipation.” Mark Batterson The Circle Maker pg 67

God is always faithful when our expectation is in Him. We pray and anticipate His Presence. That’s when we are blessed by believing.

God’s Word is not absorbed with out intellect but with our Spirit. For the Holy Spirit bears witness with our Spirit– meaning The Holy Spirit confirms Truth to us. You are a daughter of the King of kings. You are loved and chosen. You are uniquely and wonderfully made. (Romans 8:16)

As Mark Batterson says in The Circle Maker, “Instead of operating by faith, we switch back to our default setting of logic. Instead of embracing the new move of God, we fall back into the rut of our old routines.” (pg. 69) Prayer opens our heart to receive all God wants us to have and learn. Prayer honors God– the God who gave His only Son to pay for our sins and shame. He deserves our praise and honor.

Talking with God ignites our faith, grows our desire to know Him and in return, He opens His Word to us.

Take time to pray today— right now.

 


Research & Define

blue letter Bible

  1. Prayer
  2. Relationship
  3. bears witness
  4. confidence

Questions & Reflections

  1. What does your quiet time look like? Do you spend time in prayer daily?
  2. After reading the scriptures, why is it important to pray first? (John 16:13, Ephesians 1:17)
  3. What does the Word say about Jesus and approaching Him in prayer? How should we pray– with timidity or confidence? (Hebrews 4:16)
  4. Why does God want to impart wisdom and revelation to you? (Hebrews 1:18)

Memorize & Meditate

Ephesians 1:16-20

The turning point in my life came when I prayed these prayers for myself more than a thousand times. I started by reading them aloud, beginning with the first chapter. I personalized the prayers by saying ‘me’ wherever Paul said ‘you.'” – Kenneth E. Hagin The Believer’s Authority


Pray

Father God, Thank you for pursuing a relationship with me from the very beginning. You have given so much and I desire to honor you with my time and choices. Set my heart on fire, Jesus, rain down on me, speak to me and open up Your scripture to me. I want to be like You, think like You and please You in every part of my life.

I Pray this in Jesus’ name! Amen

Confident Trust

Read:

1 Samuel 17


Devotional

Have you ever faced your biggest fear head on?

I recently came face to face with my biggest fear: losing my children.

In December 2016, my husband and I took our two girls to Busch Gardens for Christmastown. It was a magical time filled with holiday lights and music. We went with some friends and were having a great time until we lost Charleigh.

It was night time. The park was crowded and we couldn’t find her. One of our friends ran to the front of the park to inform security and head off any potential threat to her safety.

In that moment I had a choice to make. I was going to fall apart, cry and think the worst OR I was going to remember God’s promises and trust Him. I chose the latter. Immediately I started praying protection over Charleigh (Psalm 91). I started asking God to send His angels to surround my daughter and hide her from any potential threat (Psalm 34:7, Colossians 3:3). I asked the Holy Spirit to lead me to her and that I would find her safe and sound (John 16:13-14).

About 10 minutes pass and we had not found her. At that point it would have been easy to lose sight of God and focus on my fears and the incredibly dangerous situation we were facing. I was carrying my youngest daughter, Riley, in my arms during this time and needed to put her down. So I went over to our stroller and tightly fastened her in— so she couldn’t escape. I also had my friend’s daughter with me and fastened her in next to Riley in our double stroller. That’s when she pointed straight ahead and said, “there’s Charleigh.”

“WHERE?!?!? WHERE?!?!” I thought. I immedately turned to look and Charleigh was on a kid’s ride right behind me. She was right next to us the entire time we were looking for her. She was safe. She was close. She was in big, big trouble.

“Worry blocks God’s Word from taking root. Replace worry with the promises of God.”                                          -Pastor Michael Brueseke

I was calm in the midst of my biggest fear. The only way I could’ve experienced that peace was through Jesus. I know, that I know, that I know He was holding me, comforting me and guiding me through that trial. But I had to make a choice… I was going to panic or trust.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15 (emphasis mine)

Like David, I chose to trust God in the midst of the unthinkable and allow His Word to produce an unshakable confidence. I wasn’t going to let the worries of this world choke out His promises.

In 1 Samuel 17, David confronted his “problem” head on with confidence in the power of God backing him up. When the opportunity arose for him to act, he did.

Trust in God is confidence in His power, not ours.

David didn’t just say he trusted God’s power to deliver him, he expressed his trust by the way he acted and with specific examples of God’s faithfulness. (1 Samuel 17:34,37) He was able to act out his trust due to the retention of God’s Presence he experienced when He spent time with Him in the pasture.

He also didn’t fight his battle with unknown armor and weapons. (1 Samuel 17:39) He chose the familiar. He had used a sling and a stone before. He had confidence in his ability because he put the time into learning and practicing. He also knew God so intimately that he knew He would equip him to fight Goliath.

We need to prepare, putting our armor on daily to be ready for the trials. Not living in fear but with confidence that you have the Greater One living on the inside of you (Ephesians 6:10-17).

———————-

Take this week to read 1 Samuel 17 and the related verses several times. Read in different translations (NLT, NKJV, Amplified, ESV, Message…) Devotionals can be easy to read and dismiss. We emotionally attach to the personal story in a devotional and often relate. However, like the parable Jesus told in Matthew 13/Luke 8– we have to prepare our hearts and minds to be good soil in order to absorb and allow His Word to take root. Only then can we truly experience the fullness life lived in Him.

When trials come we will be ready to choose confident trust.


Research & Define

  1. Trust
  2. Confidence
  3. Retain
  4. one more word that stood out to you when reading

Questions and Reflections

  1. How do you respond to fear?
  2. What practical ways can you prepare your heart and mind to retain God’s promises?
  3. Why do you think God used a shepherd boy to bring down Goliath instead of Israel’s army?
  4. Do you feel empowered, encouraged or equipped by David’s story? Why or why not?
  5. Describe how David responded to King Saul’s doubt? (vs. 33-37)
    1. What specifically did he do?
    2. How can you learn from David’s example in your own life?
  6. What piece of God’s armor do you most need right now? (Ephesians 6:1-18)

Memorize and Meditate

Psalm 91:1-2

Speak your trust. Speak truth. Speak faith. Say it out loud several times, until you believe it.


Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for using David, a young shepherd boy, to defeat a mighty enemy. Thank you for giving me examples of how you use ordinary people to do big and mighty things. Please ignite my confidence in You and turn my tiny pebble of faith into a mighty missile. Holy Spirit, remind me of your promises when trials come my way. My heart is good soil and when I hear Your Word I understand and retain it. Let your truth bubble up into my heart and mind when trials come. Thank you for Your grace and love that equip, empower and encourage me. I love you Jesus.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Related Scriptures

Acts 17:28

Psalm 91:1-2 (refer to amplified version)

Matthew 13:1-23 (Parable of the Sower)

Luke 8:1-15 (Parable of the Sower)

Ephesians 6:1-18 (Armor of God)


Share

Share what God is revealing to you with someone— anyone. Sharing our faith with others is what builds our faith even more.

And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.                   Philemon 1:6 NLT

What Do You Have?

Scriptures to Read:

1 Samuel 17 (for background), Psalm 37:1-23, Proverbs 16:1-5, Isaiah 22:23, Mark 6:30-44, Romans 8:16, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 12-31


Devotional:

We all have dreams. We each have a purpose for being on this earth. Sometimes in the season we find ourselves in (motherhood, tragedy, transition…) we have a difficult time focusing on Jesus to lead us toward that dream.

I personally have had a difficult time trusting in His timing and being certain of what He placed in my heart. I have a passion for His Word and to encourage women how to live fully alive, love His Word and discover their own passions.

I felt a nudge from Him a few years ago when I first started blogging. I began to blog about being a new mom and felt called to encourage other new moms. I had a rough experience with motherhood. My first daughter was extremely fussy, cried all the time and didn’t sleep well until about 6 months (sounds like most new parent experiences, doesn’t it?). I remember spending many late nights sobbing as I held my crying newborn. I felt alone and ill equipped for this extremely precious task of being a mom. In the midst of those terrible nights I felt God’s Presence. He spoke life into my situation and when I decided to listen and obey things started changing.

This dream of encouraging new moms has morphed into a desire to teach women and encourage them in any season of life. God’s Word is alive and power for everyone at anytime. David understood this truth.

“David was so well acquainted with God that when the time came to act, he did.” – Wendy Pope Wait and See

In 1 Samuel 17 we see David going from the pasture to the battlefield. He was already anointed King of Israel but he wasn’t going from his pasture to the palace— just yet.

Sometimes the step out of our comfort zone doesn’t look like the straight road to our dream destination.

We may have to face some giants along the way in preparation for God to equip and train us for our calling. David went to the battlefield not the palace– but that was just the beginning. He was obedient. He trusted God’s plan, timing and strength.

If God has placed a desire in your heart to pursue something that may be out of your comfort zone check in with His Holy Spirit. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit (Romans 8:16). You will, also,  have a conviction in your own spirit and a peace. Your heart may be racing and you may be sweating but there will be an inner peace that comforts you– that’s the Holy Spirit (John 14:26,27).

It’s easy to put ourselves down by looking at others who are doing what we want to be doing. “Well, they are already doing it, why does God need me to do it too?” “They do it so well, I could never be like her, doing what she’s doing.” —- You are right. You can’t do what she’s doing. You can’t be who she is. God called YOU specifically, uniquely. No one else can fill your shoes or take you place. Just ask your children or husband or parents. You are irreplaceable.

Just because the calling or dream God placed in your heart doesn’t look like someone else’s, doesn’t mean it’s not right. God gives different gifts to each person (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

When we know God intimately, like David did, our hearts are changed to match God’s heart. Our dreams change to align with God’s dreams for us. Dreams that greatly exceed our expectations.

The question is, “What do you have to give?” What can you give to serve the Kingdom of God?”

Let’s look at the story of the boy who gave his lunch so Jesus could serve 5,000 hungry people in Mark 6. The little boy didn’t have enough to give everyone, yet He trusted Jesus with what he had. He gave of himself and Jesus was able to bless 5,000+ people with a young child’s small lunch. God can use you just the same. The decision you need to make is to give Him what you have. Trust Him to make your dreams come true. Trust Him to take you to the next level, but first you must be willing to take a step out in faith.

Mark 11:24 tells us that we must first believe then we will receive. First, you need faith, then God will be able to blow your socks off with favor, blessings, peace, grace, power and more! He is faithful and His plans are far better than we could ever imagine. He’s just waiting for us to surrender all to Him. The right heart will produce the right outcome, even if it doesn’t turn out how we imagined (Psalm 37:23).

David sought after God with a fierce passion. Jesus followed after God with complete obedience.

 

 


Questions and Reflections:

  1. Research and Define: conviction, bears witness
  2. What do you have? What can you give to serve the Kingdom of God?
  3. What are the gifts God has given YOU?
  4. How do you find Joy in Jesus?
    1. Describe ways in which you get to know Jesus.
  5. Have you asked God for a dream? Has He shown you, but you feel nervous? Maybe it’s not the season… What could you do now to take that first step out?
  6. Do you struggle to believe first? If so, why do you think this is so?

Memorize and Meditate

Psalm 37:4-5

God’s looking for availability and willingness not qualifications. He just wants your heart above all else. Lets memorize and mediate on this truth.


Pray

Heavenly Father I come to you in the Name of Jesus. Thank you for loving me so much. My hearts desire is to know you, really know YOU. I long to be in Your Presence and be filled, overflowing with Your Spirit. Only You know what the future holds. I commit all I do to glorify and honor You. I surrender to Your ways. I am choosing this day to take a step out in faith, believing that I will step into the calling You’ve placed inside of me. I love you Jesus, with my whole heart. I’m all Yours, Your all mine.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Friendship: An Unshakable Community

Scriptures to Read

Exodus 17:8-12, 1 Samuel 18:1-4, 20 and 23:14-18, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Matthew 18:20, Acts 14:8-20


Devotional

No one wants to go though life alone. A friend is one who is there in times of sadness and joy. Jesus says that He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He’s our best friend. He’s the one we need to seek first when times are hard and give Him thanks before sharing good news. He’s our everything and when we realize this truth we can live a life of freedom– fully alive.

Although Jesus is our BFF, He stills wants us to do life together and be surrounded with God-fearing women; friends that will encourage, motivate, listen and turn our focus back toward Jesus.

I have had struggles in the past with making and keeping friends. High school was especially hard for me. Those are years I do not want to revisit and for good reason. I didn’t make good choices that aligned with my faith and I had my heart broken one to many times by friends I thought were in it for the long haul. With those struggles I found solace in my relationship with Jesus and realized He wouldn’t leave me or forget about me. He wouldn’t toss me to the side for better friends. He wouldn’t stop talking to me because I made a mistake. He truly is in it for the long haul— thick or thin– better or worse.

I remember praying for a godly girlfriend, a friend that would encourage me and be someone I could share a mutual passion for God. He has answered my prayers in more ways than I can count. I have a circle of girlfriends that have become my unshakable community. These are ladies I can share my heart, my fears, ambitions, desires, struggles and more; knowing they will encourage me, pray for and with me, and turn my focus toward Jesus.

“When our friendships are based on our common love for God and our desires for God’s best for each other, then our friendships can be as tough and true and deep as the on between David and Jonathan.” (Women’s Devotional Bible 2006 Edition pg. 351)

Friendship is one of the best gifts God created. We were never meant to live life alone. The Bible is full of friendships that give us godly examples of how two are better than one.

Paul had Barnabas. (Acts 14:8-20)

Paul and Barnabas went all over Galatia preaching the gospel and bringing people to Jesus. While in Lystra, Galatia Paul was beaten and dragged outside the city. Barnabas along with other believers surrounded Paul and prayed for him. Afterwards Paul got up and went back into the city. God uses friends to pray for us in times we can’t carry the burden alone. We need to be surrounded by praying women.

Moses had Aaron and Hur. (Exodus 17:8-12)

During the battle against the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms during the battle because every time Moses lowered his arms, holding the staff, the Israelites would start to lose. God uses friends to hold us up when we are too weak to carry on.

David had Jonathon. (1 Samuel 23:14-18)

David, the warrior king, needed encouragement from Jonathon when all hope seemed lost. God uses our friends to point us back to Him and His word. Our minds, the world and our feelings often have too much input into our lives. God’s Word is most important and truest truth.

Jesus had 12 disciples (specifically Peter, James & John). (Matthew 26:36-39)

If Jesus needs friends… we ALL need friends. He poured His heart out about His impended death to Peter, James and John right before He was arrested and crucified. God uses our friends to help shoulder the hardships and trials by sitting with us, listening and praying with us.

Ruth had Naomi. (Ruth 1:16-18)

Naomi thought her life was over. He husband and sons were all dead. Yet, Ruth stood by her side and gave her a new life to enjoy with a grandson that would be a descendant of Jesus. God uses friends to add joy to our lives and bring us happiness.

Paul had Silas. (Acts 16:16-40)

While in Philippi, Paul and Silas were beaten, flogged, stripped and imprisoned together. They also witnessed a miracle when God opened the jail doors and the jailer was saved. God uses friends to stand with us through trials and be there when we come out. It’s better to endure together and have a victory to praise God for when you reach the other side. God uses friends to mutually encourage one another.

“The impulse of love that leads us to the doorway of a friend is the voice of God within and we need to be afraid to follow it.” Agnes Sanford 

Take some time to thank God for the friends you have in your life and ask God to surround you with friends who love Him and seek Him first. God wants us to be in community and live life to the fullest — together.

If you’re not in a small group community at your local church I would encourage you to join if available. If not, maybe you could start one. God will meet all your needs according to His riches and glory. He won’t leave you without friends; allow yourself to be sensitive to His leading and step out in faith. Friendships take time to grow and strengthen. Don’t be discouraged if your first try doesn’t succeed. Have faith and know Jesus is your FIRST Best Friend– always available.


Research and Define

Blue Letter Bible

  1. Friend

 


Questions and Reflections:

  1. How does the Word describe friendship?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be the type of friend God’s Word describes?
  3. Describe another friendship found in the Bible.
  4. Describe how God uses friends to build His Kingdom.
  5. What does God say about His role in friendships? (Eccl. 4:12)

Memorize and Meditate

Ecclesiastes 4:12

With God in the center nothing is impossible.


Pray

Heavenly Father I come to you in the Name of Jesus. Thank you for surrounding me with friends who love You. It’s my hearts desire to be a good, loving friend. Help me to be the kind of friend you’ve called me to be. Ultimately, You are my first and best Friend. I love You and want to know You more.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen