Blessed by a Forgotten Bible Reading!!!

Yes, I was blessed by not reading a suggested Bible reading. 
I want you to know that I am not suggesting Regular Neglect as a devotional strategy.

Yesterday, I posted about how God spoke to me through the Bible.  
Click HERE to read that post.

Here is one part of that post...
God spoke to me through His Word.
Through Bible verses I was memorizing while serving the children and families at EBC.
Through Bible verses I found on my youversion app.
Through Bible verses I skipped over in my morning devotions.  I will share this encouraging story tomorrow.

Here is how God used Bible verses I didn't read to bless me.  

As I mentioned yesterday, I did a search for the word "trouble" in my Bible app (youversion) and many verses showed up.
I noticed FOUR verses came from the same chapter, Psalm 107.

I read these verses and the entire chapter and it was a great encouragement.

I noted some things in my journal Bible and texted the picture above to Krista with the following message
Here is some of the stuff I have been doing and reading.  Check out Psalm 107.  Look for things repeated.
She responded back
Yes!  I read this the other day!  And give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing Love and wonderful deeds toward men is repeated!  I love vs. 43 too!!
What?  She read the same Psalm the other day in her devotional time.
She did, and maybe you did, if you are using New Morning Mercies for your devotional time.

We have been reading New Morning Mercies as a family in the morning at breakfast.
The morning of January 10 was a difficult morning.
We were running behind.  So I quickly read the devotional but didn't take the time to read the Bible passage, not a proud moment for a pastor of children and family ministry.

Here is the Devotional from January 10, note the "For further study and encouragement"

The DNA of joy is thankfulness. 
Have you noticed that entitled, complaining people don’t happen to be very joyful? 

I wish I always 
carried it with me. 
I wished it always 
shaped the way 
I look at life. 
I wish it directed 
my desires. 
I wish it was 
the natural inclination of 
my heart. 
I wish remembering 
your boundless grace 
would silence 
my grumbling. 
I wish 
my worship of you, 
my trust of you, 
my rest in you 
would drive away
all complaint. 
If my heart is ever 
going to be freed of 
and ruled by gratitude, 
I need your grace: 
grace to remember, 
grace to see, 
grace that produces 
a heart of humble joy. 

For further study and encouragement: Psalm 107

I really needed to hear the truth is Psalm 107.  I am thankful for how He used so many different ways to help me get there.

These kind of connections in my Bible reading don't always happen.
But being in the Word of God consistently provides the opportunity for times like this to happen.


God spoke to me today!!

God spoke to me today...

Let me explain.  God spoke to me today through various Bible verses.
I want to explain how God used His Word to encourage me today.

There is a lot of stuff going on right now in my family.
I received some really hard news this week and have been trying to process it.

So I told Krista I was going to go somewhere for coffee and journalling time.
Here is what I intended to do.  Take a piece of paper and list out specific problems/challenges/troubles before my family.  I was going to have kind of a pity party on paper.

That didn't happen.
Here is what really happened.

As I was getting ready to write down problems/challenges/troubles, God spoke to me.
God spoke to me through a verse I have been memorizing with the children in our children's ministry.
I was reminded of Isaiah 40:8.
The grass withers
the flower fades
But the Word of God will stand forever.

Did I want to take the time to focus on those problems/challenges/troubles
that will fade away
Did I want to take the time to focus on that which will stand forever?

I want to focus my mind on forever - God and His Word.

Then, I took out my paper and made this.
My attempt at "artistic" Bible study.

Let me explain.

I wrote the words "problem," "trouble" and "challenge" all over that middle section IN PENCIL because many of the things we are facing now will not be problems in a month, a year or ten years.
They will fade.

Then I drew the thick black line with God more than visible through it.

Next, I used my youversion Bible app to look up verses about trouble.  Seven verses caught my attention.  Four of them because they were from the same chapter.

Psalm 107: 6, 13, 19 and 28 really hit home.
They cried to the LORD in their trouble and 
He delivered them from their distress.

This journaling Bible was a gift from Pastor Duke and the church
at my recent ordination service

Throughout this same Psalm the writer repeats the idea of remembering God's steadfast love.
In Isaiah 40 and Psalm 107 I saw and on my piece of paper I wanted to show God's love and power.

From the top to the bottom,
From the beginning to the end,
I need to remember who God is...

God spoke to me through His Word.
Through Bible verses I was memorizing while serving the children and families at EBC.
Through Bible verses I found on my youversion app.
Through Bible verses I skipped over in my morning devotions.  To read this story click HERE

And finally God spoke to me through His Word.  
Through Bible verses and Biblical truth in songs I have listened to.

"That Where I Am" by Rich Mullins.  You can hear a short sample HERE 

"Oh How I Need You" by All Sons and Daughters

Whoever is wise, 
let him attend to these things,
let them consider 
the steadfast love of God
Psalm 107:43

So this is how God used some really challenging circumstance, about 30 minutes of time with a Bible, a notebook, a pen, a pencil and a Bible app to remind me of what a GREAT GOD I am trusting in.

Are the problems/troubles/challenges still there?  Yes!
And so is the truth of John 16:33
"In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world."

I heard about this idea of God speaking to me through the Bible at Desiring God.  Click HERE for the post "I Heard God This Morning"


Benefits of Small Groups

Disclaimer #1:  I am the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church's Soul Care ministry, which is our small group ministry.  This fact should not disqualify me from sharing how much I enjoy our small groups.

Disclaimer #2:  I am in no way, shape or form saying that you will have these same small group experiences

Over the last several years we have really enjoyed leading small groups in our home.  We have been blessed with opportunities to continue learning and growing with a family we have been with for years.  We have also been blessed to meet new friends.

I want to share five different blessings I have received through Soul Care this past year.

  • Meeting new members.  On several different occasions we have gotten to know individuals even better through Soul Care before they became members of our church. 

This pile of shoes has the footwear of old and new members
of our Soul Care group
  • Hearing from a parent that their child asked when Soul Care starts up again.  We do something in our Soul Care groups that might be a little unique.  We have everyone, children and adults, meet together for a short devotional usually based on Sunday's lesson.  The children then have some time to play together as the parents look at what they are studying that night. 
  • Great meal times.  We have had some great conversation and fun (water guns and can jam) over a meal at someone's house.  

  • A trip to North Carolina.  Now this one is a little extreme but it was an extreme blessing to me.  Former members of one of our groups moved to North Carolina.  Recently we had the amazing opportunity to visit them.  And while it was great that I had the opportunity to go to a Duke basketball game with Ryan, even more than that it was AWESOME having a relaxing, fun time with the Takenaga family. 

  • Personal Spiritual Growth.  Finally, and most importantly, I have really enjoy growing alongside brothers and sisters in Christ.  The most recent ONWARD study we did was particularly helpful.  
One of the best things I have appreciated over the last several years is getting to know new people through our small groups.  We have also been able to maintain some great friendships over the years also.