Be Inspired… Week 4

Inspiration

Habits are formed by the repetition of particular acts. They are strengthened by an increase in the number of repeated acts. Habits are also weakened or broken, and contrary habits formed by the repetition of contrary acts. – Mortimer J. Adler

Power Ups:

Use Social Media: Post a verse or a thought from your reading.

Allies: Plan to do a reading with someone (can you skype? meet somewhere?)

Interaction: Ask a question you have from your reading. Ask your family, friends, or use social media. Investigate it yourself and then share what you find out.

Challenges:

There seem to be so many different ways of interpreting the Bible. The incredible thing about the Bible is that it is like a gold mine. You have to dig and search and really look to find the treasure. When you do this, however, you will find that it is actually amazingly consistent and that truth is there to be discovered. The important thing is to remember that the truth must come from the Bible itself and not from a commentary. The Bible is the inspired word of God, but commentaries are the thoughts of men and need to be checked against what the Bible itself says.

The Bible seems a bit old-fashioned sometimes. Although it may seem counter-cultural in places, the Bible has actually remained relevant and helpful for thousands of years. You may need to dig a little deeper and discover what is behind the ideas that seem old-fashioned to you at first.

Digging Deeper:

Quest 7: What character in the Bible inspires you to strive harder or has the kind of experiences that you would like to have? Write down what character strengths you admire in this person. What are some ways you could use this person as an inspiration in your life? Write out some quotations from this person, or verses that show them using the particular character strength.

Quest 8: “A value isn’t something you can ever get or achieve, it describes how you want to live and gives purpose to every single day.” (Jane McGonigal) What are your values? If you want, take this survey (disclosure: it is put out by a humanist organization). Now, take your top strength and find out what the Bible has to say about it. For example, perhaps your #1 value is bravery – look up “courage” in Nave’s Topical Bible. Come up with a list of seven ways to use your top five value strengths.

Verses to meditate on:

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Be Inspired… Week 3

Inspiration (1)

Week 3

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. -John Dryden

Powerups:

Energy: Maybe you need to go for a quick wake up walk first? Or do a few stretches or exercises?

Preparation: Do you have a little spot to do your reading in? A comfy chair with everything you need right there? A cup of tea or coffee? A warm blanket? (no falling asleep though).

Comfort: Do you have a Bible that makes reading easy? Do you find the version you are reading easy to understand? Is the print big enough? Is the Bible easy to hold? Can you make notes in it?

Challenges:

Sitting still: Listen to an audio version of the Bible while you are exercising or keeping your hands busy. Break a reading up into smaller parts so you only need to spend a short time sitting still. Challenge yourself to sit still and read for 15 minutes at a time – put a timer on or some music.

Organization: Buy a basket or bag in which you put everything you may need for you Bible study time – your Bible, a copy of your reading plan, a notebook and pen and keep it in one place. Have a specific time (set an alarm) when you just drop everything else and read.

Dig Deeper:

Quest 5: Look up Deuteronomy 11:18,19. What does the Hebrew word for “heart” mean? Make a list of all of its possible meanings. How does one “lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul”? Make a list of ways you can do this.

Quest 6: Write out – type and print – paint – draw – or in whatever creative means you wish, the words of Deuteronomy 11:18-21, and put them up somewhere in your house where you can be reminded of them. As we go through this study, do the same thing with other helpful verses you find until you have a section of Scripture in every room of your house.

Verses to Meditate on:

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Be Inspired… Week 2

Inspiration (2)

Week Two:

Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you. – Elbert Hubbard

Power Ups:

Assistance: Enlist the help of your family or friends or find a commentary that will help you to understand what you are reading.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6 ESV)

Meditation: Take a few minutes to meditate on Psalm 119:9-16.

Ritual: Make reading the Scriptures part of your daily ritual. Try tying it to something that you do every day anyways. For example, read while you drink your morning cup of coffee, listen to it while you are out exercising. If you make a plan for reading, and try to do it at the same time, it becomes part of your life rhythm.

Challenges:

Feeling like it is not helping. Sometimes it can feel like no matter how much we read and take in the instruction it contains, it only makes us feel more imperfect and sinful. The fact is that we will never be perfect, but it does open our eyes to the ideals and that is a nudge in the right direction. Perhaps we can look at it as giving God a voice in our lives. Instead of feeling badly about it, we can see it as something God wants to speak to us about.

One law of the spiritual life from the operation of which no man can escape is that nothing can come into us unless it can get out of us. We commonly suppose that study is the road to learning. Upon the contrary, long-continued acquisitive study, absorbing information without expressing it, is the surest way to paralyze the mind. He who would be a scholar must not only study but teach, write, lecture, apply his knowledge to practical uses. Somehow he must give what he gets or soon he will get no more. – H.E. Fosdick

Can`t concentrate. I need quiet if I want to concentrate. It doesn’t have to be long, but I also need to know I won’t be interrupted. Some days this doesn’t happen, but that’s okay. Every day is a new opportunity. Sometimes music in the background can help set the tone or bring us to a receptive state of mind.

Digging a little deeper:

Quest 3: Do a search for the word “hear” – look at it specifically in the book of Proverbs. What does the Hebrew word mean? Read through the list of verses, and record what it says about hearing. What do you need to be doing in order to hear?

Quest 4: Do a search for “word of God”. Skim through the verses and find ones which give us ways in which God’s word relates to us. Read through the following verses and make notes on what the “mind of the spirit” is and how it contrasts with the “mind of the flesh”: Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:10-21; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Ephesians 6:13-18; Philippians 2:5-8; Romans 15:1-4.

Verses to meditate on:

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Challenge #2: Day 20

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Esther

This is a longer reading – a whole book. But it doesn’t take too long to read and reading it all in one go gives you a good feel for the whole story.
During this time in Israel’s history, the Jews had been allowed to return to their land and they were rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. However, there were many who remained in the land where they had been taken captivity, probably because they had made a comfortable life for themselves there.

This is chronologically one of the last books of the Old Testament and an interesting thing about this book is that it is the only book in the Bible that never mentions God. Perhaps it is meant to show how that God, whether acknowledged or not, still works out His purposes.

As you read, as well as putting a mark beside anything that stands out to you or that makes you ask why, put a mark beside anything that makes you think that God working behind the scenes. By now you should be doing great at asking and finding answers to your own questions. Visit Day 1 if you need a reminder of what to do.

Hope you enjoyed Challenge #2!

Challenge #2: Day 19

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Nehemiah 8

Read through the chapters and while you are reading, put a mark beside anything that stands out to you or that makes you ask why. Investigate your own questions or start with an idea below. Visit Day 1 if you need a reminder of what to do.

Nehemiah 8:2 – Often we forget that in Bible times people would not have had their own personal copy of God’s Word – they had to listen and be taught by the priests. How often were they supposed to read the Law?

Nehemiah 8:10 – Why was the joy of the LORD their strength?

Nehemiah 8:14 – Why were they to dwell in booths?

Challenge #2: Day 18

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2 Kings 18 & 19

Read through the chapters and while you are reading, put a mark beside anything that stands out to you or that makes you ask why. Investigate your own questions or start with an idea below. Visit Day 1 if you need a reminder of what to do.

2 Kings 18:3 – What was it that David his father had done?

2 Kings 18:4 – What was the brasen serpent?

2 Kings 19:28 – What does it mean to put a hook in his nose?

2 Kings 19:35 – Are there other occasions when the angel of the LORD fought for Israel in this way?

Challenge #2: Day 17

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2 Chronicles 20

Read through the chapters and while you are reading, put a mark beside anything that stands out to you or that makes you ask why. Investigate your own questions or start with an idea below. Visit Day 1 if you need a reminder of what to do.

2 Chronicles 20:2 – What sea is being referred to?

2 Chronicles 20:10 – Why were they not allowed to invade Ammon, Moab and Seir?

2 Chronicles 20:17 – Had the people ever been told to “stand still and see” before?

Challenge #2: Day 16

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1 Kings 18

Read through the chapters and while you are reading, put a mark beside anything that stands out to you or that makes you ask why. Investigate your own questions or start with an idea below. Visit Day 1 if you need a reminder of what to do.

1 Kings 18:1 – The third year of what?

1 Kings 18:21 – What does it mean to halt between two opinions?

1 Kings 18:24 – Had God every answered by fire before?

1 Kings 18:40 – Why were the prophets of Baal to be killed?

Challenge #2: Day 15

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2 Samuel 7

Read through the chapter and while you are reading, put a mark beside anything that stands out to you or that makes you ask why. Investigate your own questions or start with an idea below. Visit Day 1 if you need a reminder of what to do.

2 Samuel 7:2 – What did it mean that the ark dwelt in curtains?

2 Samuel 7:12,13 – Who is the seed being spoken of here?

2 Samuel 7:14 – What does it mean to be chastened with the rod and stripes of men?

Challenge #2: Day 14

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1 Samuel 17

Read through the chapters and while you are reading, put a mark beside anything that stands out to you or that makes you ask why. Investigate your own questions or start with an idea below. Visit Day 1 if you need a reminder of what to do.

1 Samuel 17:11 – Why were Saul and the people dismayed at Goliath’s words?

1 Samuel 17:12 – What was an Ephrathite?

1 Samuel 17:15 – What does it mean that David returned from Saul?

1 Samuel 17:26 – What was the reproach on Israel?