Tag Archive | Worship

Everything Beautiful Bible Reading Plan: Week 2

“Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked.” – Augustine

As we move through this Everything Beautiful Bible Reading Challenge during this month of March, let’s keep this quote from one of the early fathers of the Christian church in mind. True beauty has it’s source in God! And because He is a gracious and loving God, He “dispenses” this gift to all mankind, even the wicked.

As His beloved children, let us look beyond the outward beauty surrounding us as tender green shoots begin emerging from the ground, as trees begin to bud and flowers start blooming, to see the Giver of these beautiful gifts.

Day 4: Psalm 98:1-9

The God we serve is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness to His people. From Creation to the present day, He has done marvelous things. I’m so grateful He made known His salvation to me when I was a young woman. Life hasn’t always been easy, but throughout the forty-six years since I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, He has been a constant Light in my life. And when I reflect on all He has done in my life, my heart overflows with joy.

Day 5: Isaiah 52:1-7

Wake up! Clothe yourself with strength! We live in a world where God’s good name is constantly being blasphemed, a world in desperate need of an answer. We have that answer, the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The truth that our God reigns even today. Are you doing your part in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Day 6: Psalm 105:1-7

As I’m attentive to sources of beauty this month, I was especially touched today by a translation of Psalms of which I had never previously heard. Enjoy these verses in their unique presentation in the Scottish Psalter, a translation that is metrical in nature and accurate to the original Hebrew, written in 1650 and still in use by the Church of Scotland today.

Day 7: Psalm 19:1-6

Thank You, Father, that the heavens display the beauty of Your craftsmanship. Day after day, without uttering a word, they proclaim Your glory to all the world.

Day 8: Psalm 111:1-10

This Psalm speaks of the works of the Lord, described as great, full of splendor and majesty, wondrous, powerful, faithful and just. These gifts include provision for our needs (food specifically mentioned), redemption from the slave market of sin, and the inheritance of the nations. The God of these works is righteous, gracious and merciful, faithful and upright, holy and awesome. And our right response to this God above all gods: praise, gratefulness, and a righteous fear of God was we recognize who He truly is.

All of that is found in one short chapter of Scripture, just a snapshot of our amazing God and His work in our lives! Spend time today in God’s “photo album” to get to know Him a little better. And take some time today to praise God for who He is and thank Him for His gracious works that have changed your life. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to thank Him for the richness of his Word.

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Day 9: Hosea 14:1-9

After recently completing a study of 1 John, the promise of 1 John 1:9 that God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from the effects when we come to Him in honest confession immediately came to mind as I read today’s passage. These verses from the prophet Hosea are a reminder that this was always a part of God’s plan, even before Jesus came to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. This morning, I give God thanks for His love that knows no bounds, for making a way that our sins may be forgiven, and for healing our faithlessness and graciously receiving us as His own children. Today, if you are a reborn child of God by having placed your faith in Jesus Christ, a way has been made for you to flourish with healthy new growth.

‭Day 10: James 1:11-17

Spring is a time of new growth, as the days become warmer and the beauty of nature surrounds us. As we close week 2 of our Everything Beautiful Bible Reading Challenge lets go back to where I began this week’s post: True beauty has it’s source in God!

Beauty is one of the good and perfect gifts God has abundantly provided for those on earth. Yet when our focus turns on the outward beauty, which the first verse in today’s passage reminds us will fade quickly, instead of on its source, even the beauty of God’s Creation can usurp His rightful place in our lives. Beauty can become an idol, or it can be simply a reminder of the One who made it. Join me in turning your eyes on the source of beauty and giving Him thanks for this gift.

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Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus During the Holiday Season



Keeping our eyes on Jesus is a discipline many of us fail in daily. Yet Scripture teaches this is an important, even essential part of running with perseverance the  race God has marked out for us.

If  you live with the daily challenges of chronic illness, loss, physical or emotional pain, financial struggles or a variety of other issues that are a part of daily life on this earth corrupted by sin, keeping a godward focus becomes even more difficult during the holiday season with its added pressures.

Even though I’ve been doing daily posts this month on the meaning of twenty-five of the names of Jesus, I’ve had some days that it was very difficult just to keep going. Earlier this week, I had a day where brain fog made it really difficult for me to write. By the end of the day my post for the next morning was done, but little else. I was exhausted and on the verge of depression. I knew I needed to do something to stop this downward spiral before it got worse.

The first thing I tried was to relax by playing a couple games on my iPad. In my current frame of mind, that just made me feel worse. So I decided to go in my bedroom, get ready for bed, and read for a few minutes before going to sleep (something I do most nights). This also didn’t help.

Then I remembered what usually helps when I’m feeling discouraged or anxious about something, using worship music to turn on focus off the problems I’m dealing with and onto the One who loves me and is working in my circumstances for my good and for His glory. So I turned on my iPad and listened to some Christmas worship music. This helped me relax and prepare mentally for sleep. And when I woke up the next morning, it was with a completely different frame of mind, one that enabled me to have a much more positive day.

The holiday season with all its extra activities and pressures is naturally stressful. For those who are living with the daily limitations of chronic illness and the often associated financial pressure and emotional pain, it can feel overwhelming. Here is a YouTube link to some Christmas worship music that I’ve found helpful this Christmas season in turning my eyes off the problems of life and back on the One who is our refuge in the hard places of life.

Have you found something that helps you cope with the added pressures of the season and keep your focus on the One whose birthday we are celebrating? If so,  please share what has helped you in the comments below.

Learning About Prayer

I am the leader of prayer ministries for a large and growing ministry for ladies with chronic illness. I am currently leading a prayer study for the Sunday school class my husband and I attend. So prayer is important to me. But I do not consider myself an expert in prayer. As my responsibilities in the area of ministering to others in the area of prayer have increased, the knowledge that I still have a lot to learn has become foremost in my mind.  I am a learner in the area of prayer.

I shared in a recent article that my husband and I have been walking through some difficult circumstances in our lives. I don’t want to go into the details again, so I’ll share the link for anyone who is interested in this story.        https://readywriterbr.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/living-outside-my-comfort-zone/

God has been at work through these circumstances in both my husband’s life and my life, but in different ways. In my life, He has had me in what I would describe as theHoly Spirit School of Prayer

During the same period of time, I have been preparing to lead the prayer study in our Sunday school class using The Battle Plan for Prayer Bible Study materials from Stephen and Alex Kendrick, producers of the movie War Room.What I share today is a combination of what God has personally been teaching me and what I’m learning through the study of these excellent materials.

Now I have a more balanced understanding of what prayer includes. Up until recently, when I thought of prayer, what primarily came to mind was confession of sin, lifting our needs up to the Lord (supplication), and intercession for the needs of others. I always felt like I was falling short in these areas, especially in supplication and intercession, because the needs were so overwhelming that it would literally take “prayer without ceasing” to cover all of them daily.

These are important parts of prayer, but prayer is so much more. I knew in theory that worship, praise and thanksgiving were all elements of prayer, but in my mind they were separate things. I had even tried using the A.C.T.S. acronym – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication – during my prayer time, but I saw this more as a formula for prayer, with worship, praise and thanksgiving more as preparation for prayer than as actual types of prayer.

I had also read of the importance of using God’s Word in prayer, but in my mind and on my daily schedule Bible reading and prayer were two separate things. As we have walked through this difficult season, I’ve begun to understand each of these things as a part of true prayer.

At it’s root, prayer is communion and communication with God. When Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are to pray without ceasing, he was not talking about what I used to think of as prayer. He was saying throughout the day we are to stay in open communication with God. The main way God speaks to us is through His Word, so we are to read His Word expecting Him to speak to us. And we are to respond to what He shows us in prayer. Bible reading and study are meant to be a part of our prayer life, not separate from it.

This season of my life has caused a major change in my daily quiet time. Instead of seeing it as composed of a series of things I do, I have begun to see the whole quiet time as a part of prayer. Praise and worship are no longer preparing my heart for prayer – they are prayer. Overcoming discouragement by looking for God’s blessings in the midst of our trials and expressing my gratitude to Him is also a part of prayer. And when I pick up my Bible or open a Bible app on my iPad to begin reading and studying, I do so with an attitude of prayer and expectancy.

One thing that has really helped me gain this new understanding is prayer journaling. I’m not new to journaling. I remember many years ago as a new Christian getting up and reading my Bible and writing in my journal every morning before leaving for my job as a kindergarten teacher. And through the years, I’ve filled hundreds of notebooks and journals from this habit. But again, I saw this as separate from my prayer life.

When we began walking through this season where the cry of my heart daily became “God, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles‬ ‭20:12‬b‭ NIV)‬‬, I began prayer journaling. I now begin my quiet time with a prayer for God to speak to me through His Word, and as He began to do so regularly I grew into an expectancy that this would happen.

Now, as I read God’s word, I do so with a pen in my hand and my current journal open so I can put in writing the things God in showing me. This isn’t really much different than the journaling I’ve always done, but I no longer stop there. Those insights now become prayers of worship, praise and gratitude to God, of confession of sin, of honestly telling God where I am and asking His help, or of commitment to obey something He has shown me I need to do. Often as I’m reading a Scripture, someone with a need comes to mind and I intercede for them. Or I read a verse that gives a burden for Christians facing persecution for their faith and I turn this into a prayer. Or I read a passage that reminds me of how messed up things are in our nation , and I pray using that passage for our nation. Whatever God speaks to my heart during this quiet time in His presence is turned into a prayer of response.

As a result of this growing understanding of all prayer includes, and of learning to make prayer an important part of my day and not just an add-on to my Bible study time, I have been walking through one of the most difficult trials of my recent life, one where my normal response would be fear and anxiety, in almost constant peace. There have been days when staying close to God was a battle – life as a Christian in this fallen world is like that. But by staying in communication with God by talking with Him throughout my day, walking in meekness and submission to His will and purposes in our lives, and resisting the devil and his lies, I’ve experienced God’s peace and strength as seldom before.

As I was praying this morning about this article, a picture came to my mind of someone throwing a large stone into a lake. When the stone breaks the surface of the water, it creates a ripple effect, with concentric waves of water moving out from the spot where the stone landed. This is a picture of the effect of true prayer in our lives. True prayer isn’t just something we do as a part of our daily schedule, or even throughout the day as we become aware of needs. True prayer is like breaking the surface to enter into the presence of God, and the result has a ripple effect. It changes every part of our lives and even spreads out to touch the lives of others.

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#Five Minute Friday: Sing

I love being able to go to church and sing praises to the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a trained musician and my singing is little more than making “a joyful noise” to the Lord, but singing has always been a real joy in my life. Until Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday, I was grateful to finally be able to attend one of the worship services at our church. This was my first time actually being in a service since having extensive neck surgery last July. My husband and I have been going to our Sunday School class, but he felt going to both that and the worship service would be too tiring for me. But on Easter, Sunday School classes were cancelled and we decided to go to one of the worship services. I was doing fine until I tried to sing.

During my neck surgery, the nerve in my right vocal cord was damaged, and as a result it is now paralyzed. This has caused numerous problems with coughing, projecting my voice and even swallowing, but it seems to be getting better so I was surprised at what happened when I tried to join in the worship time. I could get out a few words and then my voice would crack and I couldn’t continue. It quickly became obvious that I would not be doing much singing. So my worship became silent, in my heart.

I’ve loved Ephesians 5: 18-19 for many years, but suddenly these verses took on new meaning. Because of my paralyzed vocal cord, I can not currently sing. But true worship is more than singing. It takes place in the heart, and I had a delightful time of worshiping the Lord on Easter Sunday, even if I couldn’t sing.