September 6, 2014
I want to invite you on an exciting journey to intersect your life with the truths of the Bible. Why 22? Because that’s how many letters are in the Hebrew alphabet. Now don’t worry, we are not going to study the Hebrew alphabet. The real reason behind the 22-Day Challenge is that there is a wonderful psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119, which is broken down into 22 sections. The psalmists used the Hebrew alphabet to create one of the most poetic psalms in the Bible, extolling the beauty of God’s Word. This joy-filled challenge invites you to read a short section of Psalm 119 each day and consider its truths. My hope is that as you take this challenge, you will catch the passion of the psalmists and grow to delight in God’s Word in an even deeper way than you have ever experienced before in your life.
Starting Date: Monday, September 22
Here’s the plan; for 22 days you will progressively read through Psalm 119, one section per day. Each day as you read a section, answer the following questions. You may want to use a journal for the challenge or you can mark in your Bible. Ask some friends to join you on the challenge. It’s fun and easy (won’t take over five minutes of your day) and will increase your love for God and for His Word. I’ve added the first section of Psalm 119 below to help you get started. If you don’t have a Bible, I encourage you to purchase one. I suggest NIV, ESV, New Living or HCSB translations. Are you ready to start? Here are the steps:
1. Read a section of Psalm119 and determine what the overall theme is for that group of verses. What key words do you notice? For example in the first section (Aleph) the psalmist seems to lean toward a theme of walking in obedience. Key words are: obey, blessed and ways.
2. Use a highlighter to mark the benefits of reading and mediating on God’s Word. (example: will be happy and blessed, not be put to shame, etc.)
3. Underline every mention of our responsibility as the reader (example: those whose ways are blameless, walk according to the law, keep his statutes).
4. Circle each reference to God’s Word or God’s Laws (example: statutes, precepts, ways)
5. Now insert the name of Jesus for each of the circled phrases as you read the section again. In the New Testament, John says that Jesus is the Word. He was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Write down everything you learn about Jesus as you read the passage again.
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
3 they do no wrong
but follow his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.
So there you have it! I know you will have a great time taking on this delightful challenge. I’ll be posting my thoughts every day on my Facebook Author Page, click here to join me.
This challenge is from my book, Becoming a Woman of the Word. To learn more about the book and growing to understand God’s Word click here.
August 24, 2014
By compassion we make others’ misery our own,
and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.
Sir Thomas Browne
If given the opportunity to choose our path in life, I’m pretty sure most of us would pick the easier road with less bumps, pot holes and challenges. Simply put, few of us would deliberately choose a difficult journey in life, riddled with heart ache, pain and loss. Yet, in a way, if we choose to be compassionate people, we are choosing to join into someone else’s pain. The word compassion actually means “with suffering.” The root word, passion, comes from the Latin word passio meaning “to suffer.” If we want to be a compassionate person, then we are inviting suffering into our lives – the suffering of another person. How far are we willing to go to reach out and touch the life of someone else, joining in their pain?*
On my Positive Life Principles video this week I talk about the importance of reaching out to people near, far and farther. Take a moment to watch the video (located on the upper right side of my website www.Karolladd.com) as I mention three specific ways to reach out of our comfort zone and into the lives of others.
First, consider ways to reach out and touch your own community with the love of Christ. Think about your neighbors, co-workers, friends, tennis buddies, and ask the Lord to show you ways to encourage their faith. Go to www.PositiveWomanConnection.com for ideas on how to reach out to your community.
Secondly, ask the Lord to show you ways you can reach beyond your comfort zone, and step into the lives of people in need in your city. It could be that you decide to volunteer at a hospital or serve in at-risk communities or homeless shelter. Ask the Lord to lead you and follow the passion He has put in your heart. Several years ago, I decided to serve in my city by offering parenting classes (www.EngageParenting.com), taking the opportunity to strengthen other moms – and of course in turn I have been truly blessed.
Finally, prayerfully think about those in other countries that could use your prayers and support. There are many wonderful outreaches all over the world such as Compassion, World Vision and Samaritans Purse. Two that are near and dear to my heart are Gospel for Asia and Buckner.
As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves
with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
*From Karol’s book: Positive Life Principles for Women
August 11, 2014
Not all fear is bad – certain kinds of fear serve as a protection of sorts. For instance, we lock our doors for fear that someone may break in and steal from us. We use back-up systems for our computers for fear of a virus or that our computer may crash leaving us without our documents and information. We purchase life insurance for fear that our families would face severe financial loss if something were to happen to us. Certainly healthy fears help steer us away from destruction. In fact Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But an unhealthy fear of the “what ifs” in life can grip us with anxiety and worry and can unproductive and destructive in our lives. Unrelenting anxieties can lead to all sorts of physical disorders, as well as relationship issues. Many of the arguments and disputes we have with others are based on some sort of fear of what could happen. Unhealthy fears can sometimes keep us from taking positive steps forward and moving toward our dreams.
In the writing world, there are many people who would love to have a published book one day, but they have never sent their book proposal to a publisher. Why? Fear of rejection. Fear of someone not liking their work. This fear keeps them locked in a box and trapped in chains of never living out their dreams. Fears can rattle our thinking and take over our lives if we allow them to. What are you afraid of? Is it fear that something may happen in the future? Are you overly concerned about a job you must do or a test you must take. Perhaps you are afraid something may happen to you physically or financially or in a relationship. As followers of Christ, we have a place we can take our fears. The invitation is open. God invites us to cast our cares and concerns on Him.
The God of peace wants to give us peace as we face those things that distress us. Our everlasting Father, God almighty, is able to release the grip that fear has on our lives. He will never leave us, and He has a plan that is bigger than what we can see. He can protect our reputations. He can use our mistakes. He will walk with us through difficulties. He redeems our lives from the pit. We must take our eyes off of what is worrying us, and turn them instead to the faithfulness of the Lord. We can follow Esther’s plan in facing her fears as she took those fears first to her Heavenly Father. Then she wisely walked through a careful and deliberate plan of action. May God lead us as each day as we turn our fears over to Him and allow our faith and joy to grow in its place.
For me personally, I have found that praising God in the midst of my fears can transfer my focus from dread to delight – delighting in the Lord. I learned this life lesson from the apostle Paul who praised and prayed in the middle of the deepest darkest dungeon. When I choose to focus on the greatness and goodness of God, it helps me through the storms and reminds me that I am in good hands. He who is able to calm the storms of the sea, can bring calm to my anxious heart as well. Praising the Lord strengthens our faith and turns our thinking toward the greatness of God rather than the seemingly bigness of our problems.
Facing your fears can be the very catalyst that moves you forward in in your career or in your relationships. As we learn to walk forward without the shackles of worry and dismay, we can step into new territory and grow in confidence and strength. Fears may pop into our heads now and then, but we don’t need to allow them to get the best of us. We can change our focus and look upward. It’s tempting to take our fears to people first instead of the Lord. Who do you lean on for help? Do you lean on others, or even your own abilities and strengths, or do you lean on the Lord God Almighty (El-Shaddai). He is mighty to save!
This blog is a little snippet from my book Positive Life Principles for Women (Harvest House)
August 1, 2014
What do you search after to quench the thirst of your heart? Deep in our hearts we are all thirsty for genuine love. Sadly we try to satisfy our thirst in a variety of unsatisfying ways, through people, or things or addictions of some sort. There is only one who can quench the heartache of our inner being and that is Christ alone. He is the Living Water. When we seek Him, we thirst no more.
Jesus reassured the woman at the well, who sought love in husband after husband, “Anyone who drinks this water (from the well) will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Oh the joy and satisfaction Jesus brings to our thirsty hearts! Ask Him for His living water and thirst no more.
This is an excerpt from Karol’s devotional, Pursuing God in the Quiet Places.
July 21, 2014
This past weekend at our annual Roaring Lambs Writers Conference, our speakers reminded us of the power of our words. Whether we are dealing with our family, friends, neighbors or co-workers, our words have the power to heal and inspire, but they also have the power to tear down and destroy. This week I want to challenge each of us to fiercely guard our communication with others. Let’s face it, gossip, complaints and discouragement easily flow from our lips. It takes deliberate effort to inspire, strengthen and say only kind things about others.
Granted, constructive criticism and wise concern have their place. I’m not saying we ought to be some sort of “Yes” people who always agree with everyone about everything with disingenuous flattery. A true encourager is not only uplifting, but she is also honest, sincere and specific with her comments. She uses her words to help build up and lead others in the direction of their best interest. An encourager is looking out for the good of the other individual and focusing on the possibilities instead of hunting and pecking at what could go wrong and zapping the hope right out of a person.
It is never too late to change our speech habits. Look for opportunities to give a good, sincere word of hope and courage. Think of your uplifting comments as a cup of cool water to a thirsty soul, because we all need a healthy dose of encouragement now and then. Don’t become frustrated with yourself in the struggle to tame your tongue. In fact, the Bible says it is nearly impossible to do. James wrote, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:7-8).” Perhaps you are thinking that if the tongue is impossible to tame, then why try? What’s the use?
Remember my friend, with God all things are possible! What may seem impossible to us, is not impossible for God. We know that He places great value on what comes out of our mouths, so He will help us in taming that restless creature known as the tongue. It begins by asking Him to clean up our hearts, for what comes out of our mouth is usually an overflow of what is in our heart. Our prayer ought to resemble David’s who wrote, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord my rock and my redeemer.” He is our tongue tamer. As we look to God to clean us up from the inside out, He can clean us up from the hidden motives which tend to make us discouragers rather than encourages.
Some of these insights came from my book Positive Life Principles for Women.