Spiritual Disciplines: Bible Study {Week 1}

This week on the panel, we’ll hear from a variety of women, in different seasons of life share how they study the Bible. Prior to watching the video, complete Week 1 in the study (p.7-18). This will be the longest week of homework we have since bible study is the foundation for most of the other disciplines!

After you’ve watched the video, leave a comment below with one new insight you had from this week’s homework or the panel.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118777229″>2015 02 03 – Women’s Bible Study Week 2</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Spiritual Disciplines: Intro

I’m so glad you’ll be joining us these next 7 weeks to learn how to cultivate your love for God through different spiritual disciplines.

In this intro video, Katie and I share how this study came about as well as our greatest hope for this study-that we would love God more and understand the gospel in a deeper way, not just become more religious. Prior to watching this video, make sure you’ve done the homework for the intro week (p.4-5).

After you’ve watched the video, leave a comment below with thoughts or how you’re hoping to grow over these next few weeks!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118768022″>2015 01 27 – Women’s Bible Study Week 1</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Spiritual Disciplines Study

  Do you want more from your relationship with God? Is reading your bible difficult? Is your quiet time a struggle, few and far between? Do you feel guilty about the lack of time you spend in prayer? Do you think of the word “Sabbath” and laugh at the thought of a weekly day of rest?

If so, then you’re in good company. Most of us want to live in deeper relationship with God, with greater trust and intimacy, and yet we get stuck on how to make that happen. We want our relationship with God to flourish, and yet for most of us, if we’re honest, it’s dry, lonely, and last on our list of things we need to “get done”.

So how does this change? How can we grow our love for the LORD without trying harder, doing more, and feeling guilt and shame when we fall short or don’t meet expectations?

The Gospel.

God’s love for us is the motivator in cultivating our love for Him.

Through Jesus; His life, death, and resurrection, we are promised right relationship with our Heavenly Father. In resting in His finished work on the cross, the privilege of discipleship is no longer duty, but delight.

Over these next 8 weeks, we’ll journey together through different spiritual disciplines and hear from a panel of women in different seasons of life share how they practice bible study, prayer, worship, serving, rest, etc.

My hope in this study is that we find freedom and creativity for how we practice spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are ways we as Christians can connect to God and help nourish our relationship with Him. Spiritual disciplines such as bible study, prayer, worship, fasting, serving, and Sabbath are ways we grow closer to the LORD. For years, many have taken spiritual disciplines and turned them into a legalistic means of earning God’s approval or favor. Our practice of spiritual disciplines does not atone, save, redeem, or earn God’s love for us. The Gospel tells us we cannot be loved any more or any less in Christ. Spiritual disciplines don’t earn us more of God’s favor or approval, again we are made right through Jesus. Spiritual disciplines are simply a means for deepening our relationship with God, an expression of love and relationship between Father and daughter.

My prayer for this study is that we practice all of these spiritual disciplines out of an overflow of the Gospel, that we would understand God’s great love for us and His redeeming grace and let all that we do be in response to that.

Each week, we will look at scripture to learn why and how we can practice each discipline, and then we will apply it. We will hear from a panel of women, who are in different seasons of life, share how they practice the disciplines. My hope is that after these 8 weeks, we will all be equipped with new ways to connect to God and delight in Him.

Where to begin?
If you haven’t already, sign up here to receive the 8 week study via email. *If you’ve already signed up to receive emails from my blog, no need to sign up again. The study will be delivered to your inbox on Thursday 4/23.

How will this work?
After you’ve received the study, follow this timeline. The study is designed for you to first go through the homework on your own, then watch the panel. Videos will be posted on Mondays, all you have to do is make sure you complete that week’s homework prior to watching the video!

4/25: Intro
5/4: Bible Study
5/11: Prayer
5/18: Worship
5/25: Fasting
6/1: Thanksgiving
6/8: Serving/Giving
6/15: Sabbath/Rest

It’s pretty simple: sign up, do the week of homework, then watch the video. You can do this on your own, or invite some friends to journey along. Check your inboxes later this week for the study, looking forward to doing this with you!

Spiritual Discipline #1: Bible Study

Last Tuesday we launched our 8 week study on spiritual disciplines.  Week 1 is the topic of bible study.   Donald Whitney says of bible study “No other Spiritual Discipline rivals the importance of the intake of God’s Word. No other Spiritual Discipline can compensate for the lack of it. Without feasting on the food of Scripture, no one will enjoy a growing, healthy Christlike life.”

In her book Women of the Word, author Jen Wilkin says “the heart cannot love what the mind does not know”.  How can we love God without knowing Him through His word?  Jen Wilkin goes on to show us some of the counterproductive ways we approach bible study.  For most of us, we know we’re “supposed to” enjoy bible study, find it meaningful, and applicational.  Yet, many of us view it as one more thing to do in our day and often times it’s very dry and confusing.  Have you found this to be true of your time in God’s word?  Is it difficult to find the desire to read?  Are you struggling to connect?  Perhaps some of these approaches are causing the difficulty.

Info Graphic Bible Study MethodsGod’s word was never meant to be read a verse here and verse there, ripped out of context to make us feel better in the moment.  In fact it’s that kind of bible reading that has made us feel empty.  We know the verse is supposed to bring comfort but a few minutes later, and we’re anxious and overwhelmed again.

To make sense of life, we must know God.  To better understand God, we must read His word.  To find greater delight in reading, we must take the posture of learning about Him rather than trying to fix us.  I know it’s tempting to click that article that says “12 Verses to Help in Suffering” but for the most part, the way we endure suffering is by anchoring deeply into the character of God, not grabbing the devotional for a quick fix.  Understanding how to read the bible helps us understand God in a deeper way.

So what do you do to get the most out of your bible reading?

Here are some tips to help:  How to Read Your Bible

Also, jump in the women’s mid-size group that meets on Tuesdays and learn in a community of how to deepen your relationship with God.  Click here to sign up.


How have you approached bible study?

What have been some of your experiences with the approaches above?

What are some things you’ve found to be helpful in regards to bible study?

Solid Rock or Shifting Sand

Read Matthew 7:24-28
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

While we were in Israel, we experienced something in the desert that was very rare.

Flash Floods

The day before we were hiking in the Judean Wilderness, where it was at least 120 degrees outside. I have never cried from being hot like I did on that day. I will never go for a hike in the desert ever again as long as I’m alive.



*I don’t know who this nice, contemplative lady is, but it definitely wasn’t me.  I was a hot mess off to the side, crying and praying for a swimming pool.

The next day we’re driving back to our hotel, and something unusual started to happen, in the desert, in June. It started to rain. The very place where we were hiking on dry land just 24 hours before, was now like gushing rivers of water in just a few moments. Cars were stuck in the road, water was flooding the streets, it was unreal.

*This was footage of a flash flood similar to the one we saw.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t access the video of the one we saw in 2012.

When Jesus tells us not to be foolish and build our house on sand, he is giving us a picture of what we saw that day in Israel. A picture of what it’s like building apart from Christ the solid rock, explaining how it will all wash away in a matter of minutes in a storm.

In the book of Proverbs, the wise and the fool are mentioned often. The wise takes heed of instruction, the fool gives way to his own desires. The wise listens and obeys, the fool sees and acts in haste.

Jesus ends his Sermon by reminding us that wisdom comes not just from hearing, but also from doing. Jesus has spent time teaching carefully how to enter the Kingdom, to rid us of self-righteousness, to seek what really matters, to love others and act accordingly.

But merely knowing Jesus said these things is not the same as living differently because of them. Jesus is not concerned about simply giving us life changing information, but He is concerned about changing our lives.

His teaching left the hearers in awe and astonished, in worship. Our worship of Jesus should lead us to repentance and obedience.

As we end our time in the Sermon on the Mount, take some time to reflect on Jesus’ words.

Will you build your house, your life, on the solid rock or shifting sand?

Will you seek first His kingdom or continue to seek and build your own?

Are you emptied of your self-righteousness, poor in spirit to be filled by His?

A Tree and Its Fruit


Read Matthew 7:15-23
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

In college, every summer my friends and I would go to Santa Cruz for the week. We’d rent the same beach house and spend all week together lying near the ocean, drinking, going out to eat and partying at night. We’d wake up and make cocktails, lay out for awhile, have lunch, more cocktails, take a nap, then get ready for round 3 and go out to the bars in Capitola.

One afternoon we were all in the backyard, enjoying our pre-dinner drinks and fun conversation, somehow we got to talking about God. I don’t know how since we really didn’t talk about stuff like that often. A friend’s brother asked me if I believed in God to which I snapped back “Of course I do. Of course I believe in God!” He responded with a surprised tone “Really? I had no idea.”

I was so offended. How could he even think otherwise of me?? I mean, doesn’t everyone believe in God? Sure I wasn’t the most conservative-church going gal, but I obviously believed in something beyond this life.

After I calmed down a bit, I realized something . . . nothing in my life was evident that I believed in God. The fruit I was bearing was certainly not the kind of fruit that someone who believed in God would bear. I was drunk all the time, cussed like a sailor, smoked close to a pack of cigarettes a day, was super materialistic (thousands of dollars in credit card debt), practically lived with my boyfriend, and was overall pretty selfish.

Looking back, it’s no shock that someone would be unsure of my belief in God. My life told a very different story. That’s when I read this verse in the bible for the very first time, and it scared the hell out of me. Literally.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 7:21)

There are many who simply think that “knowing about God” is the same as knowing God. In fact James 2:19, another verse that scared the hell out of me, speaks to this as well:

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

Even the demons believe.
Not everyone who calls Lord, Lord will be saved, but the one who does the will of the Father who is in heaven.

This verse stopped me dead in my tracks. Simply saying I believe means nothing. Knowing about God is very different from knowing God. I realized I was nothing more than someone who acknowledged a Creator, but I had no idea what it meant to know God as my Redeemer and Savior.

God is not interested in lip service. He’s interested in those who serve with their hearts and their hands, those that put their money where there mouth is and live what they believe.

This is not a “you must do these works to be saved” messsgae. This is a “If you’re truly saved, your life will show it; you will do the will of the Father” message.

We will be known by the fruit we bear, not the fruit we talked about bearing or intended to bear. We will bear good fruit not by being rooted in our own good deeds, but by being rooted in the True Vine.

1. Read John 15:1-11. Write out your observations below.

2. Read Galatians 5:22 and list the fruit of the Spirit.

3. What kind of fruit would you be known for? When others look at your life, would they know you love God? How so?

The Narrow Gate

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  
(Matthew 7:13-14, ESV)

The Way is narrow.
The Way is hard that leads to life.

For most of us, we want the easy way. From the time we’re babies we learn that if we cry, we will immediately be soothed with a pacifier or loving arms.

We are not wired to readily accept and embrace hard.
At our core, we desire easy, we desire comfort.

We may have even been told that loving Jesus and “accepting Him” will make our lives easy. We enter in a relationship with God expecting Him to take our problems away, give us health, wealth, and prosperity. We think the path that leads to peace should be easy.

But instead, Jesus teaches us here, it’s hard. It’s narrow. At first glance, narrow and hard seem restrictive, unattractive, maybe even impossible.

We glance over to the ways of the world, the ways of immediate satisfaction and instant gratification, and think surely this must be the way to happiness, to eternal bliss. We tamper around with the way that is broad, the way of drunkenness, lust, materialism, etc. and we think that those things will bring satisfaction, when they really end in destruction.

What we can’t see is after the narrow gate, after the hard way, is the green pasture, the pasture of life and life abundant.

We don’t get our best life now, we are being prepared and molded for our best life in eternity, forever.

When we live for the moment, seeking pleasure here and now, we miss the blessing of life abundant in Christ.

We can look at the wide gate and enter in, only to be disappointed once we’re on the other side. Or we can take the hard way, through the narrow gate, and find ourselves in bliss and delight forevermore.

1. What are some things in today’s culture that might seem like “wide gates” or “narrow gates”?

2. Read John 10:1-10. What does Jesus refer to Himself as? What does he promise us at the end of verse 10?

3. What are some ways you are tempted to follow the path to the wide gate?

The Golden Rule

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

I struggle to love well. Sure I’m nice to those who are nice to me, and as long as you don’t do or say anything to upset me, I’m pretty good to you.

But, in everything? In everything, treat others as I want to be treated?

I want others to give me grace when I’m having a bad day or not walking in the Spirit. I want others to make me dinner when I’m tired. I want others to appreciate me and thank me and affirm me.

Yet, I am not so good at doing that for others. If I want to feel appreciated, seems like I should be the most appreciative to those around me. If I don’t to be gossiped about, then I shouldn’t gossip about others. If I want to be shown grace, then I should be the most gracious. If I want to be blessed, then I should be a blessing.

Instead, I’m usually selfish and I expect others to be selfless.

The way we love others really matters to God. In fact, the way we love others expresses our theology. So much so that Jesus tells us several times in the gospels that loving others sums up the Law and the Prophets. This is the heart of God, to love well. And not to love because we will be loved well back, but just to love well.

I don’t love well because the other person loved me first. I love well because Christ first loved me. My love for others, the way I treat others, should be a response to what Christ has done for me.

I don’t keep track of wrongdoings, or treat others well because they made me dinner or sent me a nice note in the mail. I treat them well regardless. I treat them well even if they’ve hurt me. I treat them the way I would want to be treated.

This is the heart of the Gospel. God loved us while we were His enemies. We are to love the enemies of God and treat them well in hopes that we’ll get to reflect that Christ-like love to them.

  1. How are you doing following this Golden Rule?
  1. Do you struggle to show grace to those around you? Why or why not?
  1. What are some ways you want to be treated? How can you do the same for others?

Ask. Seek. Knock.

Read Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:23-24)

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Are you picking up on a theme here?

The LORD tells us to ask. Ask that it may be given. Ask for wisdom. Ask so that your joy may be full.

Ask in confidence that we have a Good Heavenly Father who wants to give His children good things. He wants to give us peace, joy, love, patience, and kindness. He wants us to find delight in Him, ask Him for good things!

Jesus tells us we do not have because we do not ask. We can ask anything in His will, and He will give it.

I do not have because I do not ask. I grow weary in my asking, I grow dull in my faith, and so I don’t ask.

When I look to God and His character, I can renew my hope in Him. I can remember of all things our God is, He is generous. He gives. When I am in need, He gives. When I am alone and heavy-hearted, He gives. When I am living in fear or worry or doubt, He gives.

We can have because we can ask.

  1. What are the things you have been asking of the LORD?
  1. Not asking is a lack of faith and trust in our God who hears. In what ways do you need to believe God and ask Him for good gifts?
  1. How can you remember the character of God and ask in light of that?

Pearls to Pigs

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

I can remember a time in my life having a conversation with someone I loved deeply and crying, literally tears streaming down my face as I offered over and over the free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus saying “Don’t you want life and life abundant?” and their response was not what I expected.

Rather than jumping to receive the gift, they rejected and turned away.

Not everyone who hears about Jesus will embrace his gift. Some will even hate you for offering it.
(Side note: I do NOT recommend this evangelism technique, it’s awkward and weird.)

The Gospel, the most precious jewel of life, won’t be desired by everyone.

There will come a time in your life, if it hasn’t already, when you will have to turn and walk away. At some point though we share and offer our pearls, we have to realize not everyone will receive it.

Jesus even told Peter in Matthew 10:14, that if he is in a household that doesn’t receive the good news, to shake the dust from his feet and move on.

I don’t like this. I don’t like Jesus advice here. I don’t like thinking that some will reject Christ. Deep down, I want to know that if I just talk enough, and explain clearly, and cry people will listen and hear and desire Jesus!

But the reality is, not everyone will accept this precious pearl. At some point, we have to realize when we are talking to others, if they begin to reject or hate or oppose, it may be best to shake the dust from our feet.

This doesn’t mean we stop loving or stop relationship with them, it just means having enough to discernment to know when someone is closed off from God. Our job as peacemakers and evangelists is not to force feed, but to cultivate a hunger and a thirst for God.

If our actions seem to give someone distaste in his or her mouth for the LORD, we need to remember this verse. We need to remember too much salt is disgusting, and shining light directly in someone’s eye is painful. We salt and shine, we speak and offer, but we can’t force others to eat and enjoy.

We have to walk in wisdom and know when it’s time to pull back and walk away.

1. According to these verses, will everyone who hears about Jesus embrace the Gospel? What are we to do if they don’t?

2. Have you experienced a time when someone tried to force-feed you? How did that make you feel?

3. Is there someone in your life who you desire to know Jesus? How can you continue to love them without force-feeding?