Stories

We are all living the story God has written for us and sees in its fullness from start to finish. He knows the plot, has chosen the characters, and the timeline for events to occur.

As Sam writes about in chapter 6, Stories:

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:17

He is a God of detail.

Our Father has detailed plans of time, redemption and restoration. We may think He is being slow about His promises, but He is actually being patient so more will be saved. (2 Peter 3:9).

Lord, help us lean into your perfect love, including your perfect plans that include using imperfect people like us. Imperfect people, like those in your lineage, Jesus: Abraham, David, and even me.

Thank you for including me in your beautiful story of redemption and restoration. I can’t wait to see your tapestry of grace in heaven, all connected and woven together for good. Please use me in your redemption stories. Help me trust your perfect timing that include the details I could never consider. Jesus’ name amen.

Church

“Church: a crucial thing to do or is it?” – Chapter 5 Understanding God”

We have reduced our church in America to a thing we do instead of being the Body of Christ. If we look at the first generation church after Jesus returned to the Father, the church had no programs (until they organized a way to care for widows). They gathered and their focus was to worship and pray together, seeking the Lord together. The Holy Spirit led them.

Today, you can go and participate in church programs and not know Jesus at all. Your involvement in Christ’s body should be an extension of your relationship with Him, not the primary source. The primary source is Holy Spirit living in you and moving through you to build the church in love.

Don’t get stuck in religion because of church programs. Instead, stay soft to Holy Spirit and let Him move through you. Be the church.

As Sam says, “Yes, go to church. But your relationship with God is what really matters. Church is good. Your relationship with God is great.”

A last thought: I love church. My local church, and the global church. The church is the light of the world.

Suggested reading: Letters to the Church, by Francis Chan

Fear not.

To overcome fear, we have to put our faith in God.” -Sam Terry 9 years old

Fear draws us closer to God, if… we respond rightly.

How do we put our faith in God and become successful in facing fear in the face?

>>> We look straight past the fear into the face of our Risen and very Alive Savior who has conquered death and hell. We see His eyes of fire burning fiercely with love for us and we tell our fear to go to hell where it belongs with Satan. (forgive my bluntness) – But I truly believe we have to have this resolve and much for The Kingdom is at stake when we are paralyzed by fear.

It’s hard because we can’t see Jesus with our eyes, but sometimes we can see fear. We see bills mounting up and check balances dwindling. We see a doctor’s mouth moving when there’s disease found. We see children in poverty starving.

We may not be able to visually see Jesus, but we can hear Him through Holy Spirit and His Word. We hear Him speak “fear not” over us, as he spoke the same words to John in the passage below.

In Revelation chapter 1, John saw Jesus in his vision. He “fell at his feet as though he was dead”

But Jesus “laid his right hand on me and said, “FEAR NOT, I am the first and the last, the Living One, I died and behold, I am alive forevermore.” Revelation 1:17-18

“Every time you are afraid, just remember you have a chance to do something good” – Understanding God, chapter 4

Here is our opportunity to trust the voice of God in our lives.

Power Question: Do we believe Jesus is worthy to be trusted over our fear?

Do we believe He is the One who died and rose because He loves us so much? That He is putting His right hand on us and saying FEAR NOT?

Lean in and listen to His proclamations of who He is the next time you fear. Overcome fear by feeling His Hans on you and hearing His voice roar power and love over you!

In the beginning…

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Today is day 3 of Understanding God here at Refocused Bible Study. Today Sam took us all the way back to the first verse of God’s Word. I remember when he was had just started talking as a toddler, singing this verse together from a bible story cd.

In this chapter of his book, Sam shares with us his ponderings about why God made earth if he knew he would have to destroy it. I think it’s something we’ve all wondered. Maybe we’ve talked to God about it. Maybe we’re at peace with His justice or maybe we are still wondering how a good God could flood the earth in Noah’s time and destroy the earth again when he returns the second time.

Sam shares that it has to be to teach us something, but what?

He encourages us to look into the Bible- specially the story of Noah and all the people of his time, right before the flood. He poses the thought that maybe God is teaching us to be faithful.

“In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” Matthew 24:39

God is good. He said after he made the earth and everything in it the first six days of creation that it was good. He said after he made Man that his creation was “very good.”

Though earth will pass away, we can trust God’s solid plan of salvation through Jesus and know that the forever home He is preparing for us cannot hold a candle to the good things we have seen on this earth!

Power Questions: Do you think about heaven often? How can you live your life faithfully today, ready for Jesus to return?


Without the Bible…

It’s Day 2 of Understanding God here at Refocused Bible Study. I hope If you’re reading it with your family, you are having good discussions. This morning we had a sobering realization together about how different our family would be without the Bible. 

Sam, my son and the author of Understanding God, really got our wheels turning in Chapter 2, titled “The Bible” by asking us to imagine religion without the Bible. He brought up the fact that most of the morals we live by come straight from God’s word. How would we know how to act without them?

I took it one step further by focusing on the powerful phrase Sam wrote in the first line of the chapter: “without the Bible.” How would your life look different if you didn’t believe in the Bible?

It overwhelmed me to realize how different our family would be if my sweet husband and I had not come to faith and built our life upon His word. The picture below says it all. I am so thankful he loves God’s Word as much as I do and that we trust it as a firm foundation – the only foundation that will build things of lasting value.

Power Question: How might your life look different if you and your parents did not believe in the Bible? 

It’s an eye-opening way to see what God has done in your life through you trust in His Word. Here are some ways our family would look different:

Without the Bible, we would not have a son named Sam. The name “Sam” was never one I was doodling when I dreamed of having kids. We named our son Samuel because we went through a time of praying earnestly Hannah’s prayer for a son from the book of 1 Samuel from the bible.  “and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the LORD for him.” 1 Samuel 1:20

Without the Bible, would would not be a ministry family. Seven years ago, my husband left his secular job in Nascar to work as a chaplain in the sport. We are thankful to be available to the people in the sport today!

Without the Bible, we would not have adopted. We adopted our daughter Sharon solely because The Lord gave us a burden for His burden for the orphan. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27

The picture of our family is so uncertain without the guidance the Lord has given us through His word. At every major decision or life event, He has given us a word from His Word to cling to and move forward in confidence with.

What are some ways you know your life would look differently without the Bible? How can you see God’s word molding your life and your family’s life for the future and the next generation?

 

Understanding God – Day 1 – Why Mary?

Today at Refocused Bible Study we kick off an 11 day  adventure through my son, Sam’s debut book, “Understanding God,” a journey through deep theological questions! It has been my joy and wonder to see what God has planted in his heart as I typed out the words he wrote in his book. Thank you for all the encouragement and love you have shown him by buying his book and/or words you have spoken to him in person!

How to Get The Most From This Book

  1. Underline words or phrases that stick out and journal about them

When I journaled through it I underlined phrases that jumped out to me and wrote the thoughts God gave me on the journaling page we included. I encourage you to do the same. I’ll be calling these “Power Phrases” and diving deeper into them here on the blog.

2. Read Solo or Aloud together and Use Questions here on the Blog to Discuss/Journal

Read the chapter solo or with your kids and use the Power Question I pose daily to spark a discussion or journaling prompt. Let their responses lead. Ask questions to keep the thoughts moving and use it as a time to encourage them that God is way above our understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9) but that we should never stop diving deeper into knowing Him – – if we do, we are missing out!

We pray that The Lord will use this book to make you ever more certain of His Greatness and His great LOVE for YOU and YOURS!

Day 1 |Why Mary? |

Mary responded,

“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

And then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38 (NLT)

Maybe you have also pondered, “Why Mary?’ What are some reasons you think God chose her?

We can see from the verse in Luke above that Mary was full of faith to believe the angel’s message and her assignment.

Power Phrase 1 : Mary was faithful

Where did her faith come from? Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (NIV) We have proof in Luke 1:47-55 that Mary knew who God was through the Old Testament. She hadn’t just heard them; she had memorized them in her heart. Overcome with praise, at least 12 Old Testament references streamed from deep within her in a song of worship to her God. Mary wasn’t just ready to believe God’s message, she was enthusiastic to be chosen to carry the long awaited Savior. She was faith-filled.

Are you filling yourself with faith from God’s word so you are ready to follow Him faithfully when he gives you special assignments?

Power Phrase 2Taught Joseph to be faithful

It takes great faith to keep a promise and move forward against the grain. Joseph did that. He trusted God by trusting what the angel told him. What a reward he received – being Jesus’ earthly father!

Like Joseph, there are promises that you have made or will make that require you to “go against the grain” of popularity or culture and follow God with faith instead. There will be choices to make. In those moments, trust what God is saying through His Word and Holy Spirit over your personal preferences. The rewards will be great just as they were for Joseph!

Power Phrase 3: Especially Loving 

The Word of God kept Mary’s heart soft and loving. She must have had a heart that was kind and interested in blessing God.  Let love be your highest goal!” 1 Corinthians 14:1

Power Phrase 4: Take a Good Look 

The Lord is always “taking a good look” at us in love and will gently point to areas in our heart where He wants to work His next miracle transformation to make us more Christlike and ready for our next great assignment from Him. Lean in and listen to where He’s wanting to transform you and trust Him to lead the way! “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

Power Phrase 5: Only God

Only God will ever know why He chose Mary to be the mother of our Savior, Jesus. He had his reasons. Likewise, only God knows why He has chosen you for the special assignments He has you and your family on in this season. Ephesians 2:10, says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Only God could have made you the masterpiece that you are. Only God could be continually transforming you to be more like Jesus. Only God could have prepared you in advance for the good work He has for you to do today. Only God could have positioned you right where you are to impact and love the people around you. His reasons for your divine placement and assignment surpass our understanding. Our job is to trust Him and respond in the same manner Mary did, with praise and willingness.

Power Question: What special assignment has God given you to respond faithfully to during this season?

YOUR WORD for 2019

Do you have a word for 2019? I’d love to hear about it! I touched on my word for 2018 in my last post, and told you that I’d be sharing my word for 2019 today, along with some ideas to help in case you aren’t clear for yours.

My WORD for 2019 is:

HERE.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Revelation 3:20

First of all, let me say, I don’t believe we should box God in to giving us a one word focus for the year. However, I do believe that The Lord so desires for us to walk closer with Him, that he often gives us a WORD from HIS WORD.

I’ve put together a guide below to help you lean in and listen for your WORD for 2019 based on the acronym, WORD.

1)Want to know

Do you really desire to know what God wants you to focus on for 2018? Sure, we have our own great ideas for resolutions but do we really want to know what God would have us hone in on for the next 365 days? Ask God to give you a heart to hear His heart for you. Then ask Him to give you a WORD from HIS WORD. Then…

2)Open your eyes and ears

God speaks to us through His Word. Often, a passage or verse will seem to come to me FROM ALL DIRECTIONS. I will hear it on a podcast. Then, I will see it pop up in my email. Then my husband will mention it, and so on. This is when I pay close attention and know The Lord wants me to take note. So, I do in fact take note…

3)Respond to His Guidance

Do a word study using a concordance on the WORD you hear Him speak to you. Write down relating scriptures containing the Word. Memorize and meditate on the number one verse that speaks to you. This will help you to….

4)Declare the WORD over the next year

Speak YOUR WORD inside of YOUR VERSE aloud to God. Pray it back to Him. Everyday, declare who He is and what He’s doing through the Word and who you are and what He wants you to do through the Word. For me, this would look like me saying, God, I know you are HERE, helping me and counseling me in every step I take. Since you are HERE, I want to be HERE too. Help me to live out the verse you gave me for this year, realizing that you are HERE and that I need to let you in to the deep places in my heart that need your touch. 

So, friends, what is your WORD? I’d love to hear below! Tomorrow I’ll be going deeper into some application about how to set yourself up to DECLARE YOUR WORD all year long.

Happy New Year! Cheers to a closer walk with Jesus in 2019!

Amy