Lisa Appelo

Is Your Bible Study Self-Centered?

#devotions #Bible Study #Bible, Bible Study, Bible interpretation

Who is God?

What is He like? What does He do and what pleases Him? What is His order of things and what does He require?

So often we come to our Bible devotions pretty self-centered.

Answer me. Encourage me. Teach me. Help me.

Because of course, we are the suns of our own Lilliputian galaxies.

When all along God has given us His Word as a stunning revelation of Who He is.

Yes, God will meet need and teach us and encourage us, but there is something far greater: when we open our Bibles, we worship the One who fashioned the galaxy, who is infinitely beyond this galaxy and yet makes Himself known to us.

We read our Bible to know Who God is, what He does and how we can align our lives to Him.

When Jesus pierced time to dwell on earth, he came to a religious people who knew about him, but didn’t know him. The Jewish elite could keep the law like nobody’s business but they could not comprehend a God above the law.

Their tight little boxes of Who God is did not fit cleanly around Jesus.

They constantly challenged him:

  • How can you say you forgive sins?1
  • Why do you eat with sinners?2
  • Why don’t your disciples fast like our disciples?3
  • Why are your disciples picking grain on the Sabbath?4
  • How dare you break the Sabbath by healing on it?!5

John 5 tells of Jesus coming to the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. When he saw a man who’d been lame for 38 years lying there, Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well and then healed him, commanding him to pick up his mat and walk.

Why did Jesus heal this man? He hadn’t even asked for it. Nothing is said about Jesus healing any of the other paralyzed and lame lying at that same pool.

Bible study | Bible study methods | No more self-centered Bible study

I believe this man’s healing – compassionate as it was – was secondary to Jesus’ real work: revealing Who He is.

When I read this story, my heart is immediately drawn to what Jesus can do for me. He can heal me. He can take care of my need. He can reach down in my pain and take it away.

Yes, He can.

But if I stop there, I’m stuck in the claustrophobic cosmos of my own need.

Jesus is revealing Himself in this passage and we are the lame if we miss it.

This passage explodes with declaration of Who Jesus is.

Jesus revealed His authority as the Son of God. Second person of the Trinity. All-powerful. All-worthy. All holy. So far outside the bounds of the law and yet the only true Righteousness who could fulfill the law’s righteous requirements.

And suddenly, magnifying God for Who He is realigns the trajectory of my heart and thoughts. I can worship and adore and enjoy and marvel. I can repent and grieve and realign so that my life revolves around His.

And my need? My fear? My worry? Only when I know Who God is can I rest in Him with every need, fear and worry.

No more 15 minutes of Bible reading to see what You have for me.
No more coming to You to meet me.
No more reading Your Word to affirm me.

No more self-centered Bible study.

Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. (John 17:3)

This is part of the 100 Days for Christ Bible study series. Subscribe here to download your own free copy of the 100 Days for Christ Bible reading plan and journal. And join me on Instagram at #100dayswithchrist for more encouragement.

Bible Study | How to Study Bible | No self-centered Bible study

Mark 2:7
Matthew 9:11
Matthew 9:14
Matthew 12:1-2
John 5:16-18


January's 100 Days with Christ Bible Study

#Jesus #gospel #Bible Study

Many of you are probably knee-deep in Christmas preparations. We are as well. My college kids are home for Christmas break which means late nights, old friends coming in and out and my kitchen in near constant use. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But in 10 short days, the calendar will turn and we’ll be ushering in a brand-new year. As you look toward 2017, I want to invite you to a winter Bible study. I’ve re-released 100 Days with Christ and I’ll be hosting this Bible study right here on the blog.

his FREE journal and Bible plan lets you walk with Christ chronologically through daily reading in all four gospels.

100 Days with Christ is a free Bible reading plan that takes you chronologically through the life and ministry of Christ in all four gospels. The accounts of Jesus’ life, teaching and ministry are harmonized in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and then divided it into daily chunks for Bible reading.

100 Days with Christ starts with Jesus in eternity past. The reading then moves with Him from village to Galilean village, as He teaches and heals and calls men to Himself.  We’ll see the miracles and ministry of Jesus in full — fleshed out with the full color and detail that each of the gospel writers uniquely records.

Having just celebrated the birth of Christ, January is the perfect time to begin studying the life and ministry of Christ. And as we approach the week of Easter, our study will wrap up with the arrest, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Hemmed between Christmas and Easter is a wonderful time to dig deep and study Jesus. 

Here’s what you need for this study:

  • Second, you can use the reading plan and either write in your own journal OR have the reading plan and journaling pages spiral bound. I had my local copy shop spiral bind the reading plan along with 60 copies of the journaling pages, which provided plenty of space to record daily thanks along with favorite verses, observations and prayers.
  • Finally, to help us stay on track and keep us together, I’ll blog through 100 Days with Christ. Next year, I’ll post on the blog twice each week. Friday’s post will center on a teaching from that week’s reading and will be relevant even if you aren’t doing the Bible study. Other weekly posts will be encouraging content not specifically tied to the 100 Days with Christ study.

This FREE journal and Bible plan lets you read the 4 gospels like never before as you walk with Christ chronologically in daily reading.

This FREE journal and Bible plan lets you read the 4 gospels like never before as you walk with Christ chronologically in daily reading.

My desire in writing at True and Faithful is to offer soul-deep encouragement and resources to live out our faith. As we spend 100 Days with Christ, it’s my earnest prayer that we fall in love all over again with our Savior. I want us to claim just as Paul did, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering…” {Philippians 3:10}

A few more questions and answers:

When does this study begin and end?

We’ll start January 1, 2017 and end early in the week of Easter. Easter is Sunday, April 16, 2017.

How much time will this take each day?

Some days are shorter than others, but generally, you’ll want to allot 20-30 minutes for each day’s reading.

What if I fall behind?

There will probably be days you don’t get to the reading. That’s okay. Don’t give up! Instead, keep moving with that day’s reading and only go back if you have extra time. Life happens and you’ll find it’s easy to get your daily rhythm again.

Daily Bible study is a huge challenge for me. How can I make this work?

What works for me is to make my Bible time priority reading before anything else –  Facebook, emails, another book. I know I’ll read each day and if I make Bible study the first reading of the day, then it happens. Choose the same time to read each day. Give yourself an incentive – like a wake-up to hot coffee brewed with a timer. And ask God to give you a hunger for His Word that you can’t ignore: that’s a prayer smack within His will and He’ll absolutely answer it!

I cannot wait to spend 100 Days with Christ along with you! Feel free to share this with anyone who might want this free Bible reading plan and journal.

In the meantime, I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas as we celebrate the Love that came down for us. Stay tuned next week as I have a very special giveaway. I count you a huge blessing and am so very grateful for you. xoxoxo

 


Praising God In the Storm

#gratitude #worship #miracles #praise

Today’s story is one you don’t want to miss. It’s a story of miracles, of praising God in the storm and gratitude despite loss.

It’s the story of Kellie Haddock. Kellie is a singer, songwriter, wife and mom. Her music draws from personal, real-life stories of beauty, tragedy, hope and the celebration of life. Her latest album, Leave the Light On, produced by Ben Gowell and featuring Sara Groves, offers catchy melodies and introspective tunes with a refreshing, full and uniquely groovy sound.

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Even in our deepest pain, there is power in worship and thanks.

Save

Watching her three children play together in the backyard, Kellie Haddock was overwhelmed with gratitude. Her oldest, 10-year-old Eli, had beaten the prospects and prognosis once held over his little life.

A decade earlier, this brand new mom and her husband, AJ, had buckled their 14-week-old newborn into his carseat for a routine trip home after visiting grandparents across town. The sun was setting, Kellie and her husband were laughing and singing in the front seat when the unthinkable happened.

While Kellie has no memory of these details, she now knows another car from the opposite direction, exceeding more than 100 mph, hit the median, went airborne and landed directly on top of their car. It crushed their car roof to 1 inch above Eli’s car seat.

Her first memory after the accident is staring at a gold cross “It’s almost like a movie shot where everything around is fuzzy but the cross,” says Kellie. A woman who’d stopped to help was wearing the gold cross necklace. Another stranger was holding Eli, now pale and completely limp.

Kellie and Eli were life-flighted to a local hospital and it was only then that Kellie realized she hadn’t seen her husband, AJ. He’s probably not as badly injured and they’re taking him by ambulance, she thought. In the ER, however, a chaplain delivered the news: AJ had been killed instantly.

“God is good. Jesus is Lord,” were the words Kellie heard herself say. But that resolute truth doesn’t mask real pain and her “heart crushed into a million pieces” as she broke down weeping with her sister and mom.

The first time after the accident that she was able to get into the Word, Kellie opened her Bible and her eyes fell on 1 Corinthians 12:3 – “No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Kellie knew then that God was present in her pain, empowering her to call Him Lord even in the brokenness. “I always took that as comfort; as a powerful moment of how God met me in the pain of learning of AJ’s death.”

Even in our deepest pain, God is present and His love is true.

Save

Even in the tragedy, God’s fingerprints of goodness were all over. Although the roof was severely crushed, Kelli inexplicably sustained no injuries. She had lost, yes, but God had also saved.

The Power in Worship 

Eli had incurred traumatic brain injury triggering multiple strokes and seizures which deprived his brain of needed oxygen. He was in an induced coma in the PICU and had flat-lined more than once.

By the third evening in the PICU, nurses urged Kelli who had not left once to go home, shower and eat. Just as she arrived at her in-laws, she got the phone call from doctors she’d been waiting for. After all the tests, the prognosis was in: if Eli lived, he would likely never walk, talk or show emotion.

“My heart broke again in a million pieces,” Kellie recalled. Kellie said it was her lowest point. “The lowest point of my life. I mean I was at the bottom of rock bottom.”

The house was filled with family and friends and Kellie relayed the gut-wrenching news. Her pastor gathered the group and asked them to worship — to use this moment to speak what they knew to be true of God.

So en masse, about 50 of Kellie’s closest family and friends began to speak a chorus of praise:

God is good.
God is trustworthy.
God loves with an everlasting love.
God is on the throne.

The room filled with spoken worship. Though they never corporately prayed for Eli, Kellie said the presence of God in their worship was powerful.

An hour later, as she re-entered the PICU, Eli’s nurse ran to her. They’d been looking all over for her. Eli had woken up and taken four bottles. Not only that, when Kellie went to her baby, she saw immediately that the only cut he’d sustained in the accident was gone. Less than a week later, he was discharged to home.

The Power in Thanks

Kellie held onto hope that Eli had been fully healed. As he grew, however, it became clear there was permanent injury. “I’ve gone through a lot of heart work with the Lord about why he healed Eli but not 100%,” Kellie said. She’s comforted knowing that Eli will be able to do “exactly what God intends him to do.”

Since the accident, Kellie has remarried and had two more children. And it’s as Eli was playing in the backyard — running, talking and laughing with his siblings 10 years after the accident — that Kellie had an idea: what if she could tell the medical team the rest of Eli’s story? What if she could go back and thank the doctors and nurses, the flight crew and techs?

That week, Kellie and her husband opened their home for their usual monthly worship — a time when friends and friends of friends gathered for praise worship. Kellie happened to mention to a new guest her desire to go back and thank the doctors and nurses whose everyday heroics had saved Eli.

Turns out, that guest worked for the very hospital where Eli had been treated. Also turns out, the hospital was looking to video a story to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Kellie and her husband began to dream big. They found nurses and doctors, therapists and flight crew who had helped to save Eli’s life. They set up 20 surprise visits. Each one on the medical team was given a reason to report to a meeting but then surprised by Kellie’s personal thanks, pictures of Eli and an invitation to a Thank You Event.

Every one of the medical team remembered Eli. Many said they had worked more than 20 years and never been thanked. Several said this one thank you was enough encouragement to keep them going another 20 years.

The power in thanks was as much for Kellie as the medical team.

“When you’re in trauma, you’re just surviving,” says Kellie. As she revisited the PICU and met with the medical team, she says there was grief, but there was also deep gratitude. “[I was] so hurt over all that was lost but so grateful for what I have.” 

Kellie Haddock's Thank You Project has been documented and seen more than 65 million times. Click here to watch this powerful video.

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Find more encouragment like Kellie Haddock’s story at LisaAppelo.com.  You can connect with Kellie’s site here to keep up with her music and events and find her music at iTunes here.