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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

FaithJessica Scheks1 Comment

kat lee So this is definitely not my original idea. But I heard Kat Lee talking about this amazing research she's done in Episode 27 of The Happy Hour podcast with Jamie Ivey and I had to share it today. In this episode Kat Lee was the guest and spoke about how fearfully and wonderfully made we all are. 

She began by talking about the Strengthsfinder test. I was going to take it but it costs $15 and I didn't really feel like paying that much to take a test. I found a free version here, but it says that your results may not match up to what they'd be on the actual Strengthsfinder test, so keep that in mind. However I took it and here are my top five strengths in case you care:

  1. Group Relations People who are with the Group Relations talent enjoy close relationships with others; finding deep satisfaction in working hard together with friends to achieve a goal.
  2. Integrator People with the Integrator talent are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make efforts to include them.
  3. Potential Cultivator People with the Potential Cultivator talent recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They can spot and get satisfaction with the signs of small improvement.
  4. Believing People with the Believing talent have certain core values that are unchanging. From these values emerges a defined purpose in life.
  5. Understand Others People with the Understand Others talent can sense feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others' lives or situations.

When I first read my top five strengths I wasn't so sure, but after reading the description of each strength I realized it seemed to decently accurate. They aren't all strengths I would have necessarily attributed to myself, but I can see it. The whole point of the test is to identify your strengths so that you can cultivate them and make them stronger.

{Before you go any further I suggest you take the time to take the real $15 test or the free fake test to find out what your dominant talents are! The free fake test is still pretty awesome. I can't tell you how it compares to the real $15 test since I've never taken it, but it's over 100 questions where you have to rate yourself. Then the results are very comprehensive; if you click on "view detailed report" it will tell you how your talents rank in the 34 possible areas. Each talent is described and you can even watch a video describing each one.}

So back to the podcast, Kat Lee was talking about this test and the statistics behind it. I have a feeling that Kat is really smart because I can't imagine doing all of this research myself just to know.

But essentially, for anyone to have the same top five strengths as you, the odds are something like one in 300,000. Then the odds of anyone having the same top five in the same order are one in 33 million. So then the odds of anyone having all 34 strengths the same in the same order is a number with like 36 zeroes behind it.

She then went on to say that approximately 107 billion people have ever existed on the earth. And according to scientists, earth is well past its half life because eventually the earth will be too warm for human inhabitants. So theoretically, since earth is past its half life, there will never be more than approximately 200 billion people alive on earth. And 200 billion is a fraction of that number with 36 zeroes behind it.

So basically that means, that when God created YOU [insert your name], He created ONLY you to fulfill a very specific person that no one in the history of time could ever do it the way you do it. No one who is ever to come could fulfill this thing the way that He very specifically and uniquely made you to do it. -Kat Lee

Kat is just so inspirational, you should definitely check out her website! She founded Inspired to Action and had this to say about living intentionally: "God made us on purpose so I want to live on purpose. And if I'm going to live on purpose I want to start my day on purpose and I need to know what that purpose is so I need to spend time with God. And then I want my day to reflect my purpose so I plan my day and I want the energy to fulfill my purpose, so I want to make healthy choices."

So. Good. Hopefully you find this post to be as inspiring as I did!

 

This is day 7 of the #Write31Days Challenge, to view more challenges click here. For a complete list of my posts in this challenge, click here.

Soaking in the Word

FaithJessica Scheks1 Comment

It's day two of the #Write31Days Challenge! Click here to find tons of other bloggers who linked up to this challenge in the Inspiration & Faith category. If you missed day one you can find it here!

soak in the word every day

Today I'm going to share about a devotional I've been creating this year. I've been working with an amazing graphic designer named Karrie at Schlabach Printers in Sugarcreek, OH and it's been such an amazing experience! Working with a graphic designer who has the exact same style as you is so fun. I love getting to see the ideas I have coming to life on the pages, but I also love that I can trust her to add design elements that I'll love without having to sit over her shoulder the entire time.

I guess you could say I have a very entrepreneurial mindset. I'm always dreaming of ways to make money doing creative things. I love hand lettering and dream of making a career out of it! If you visit my Etsy shop during the month of October you can get 10% off your purchase with this coupon code: WRITE31DAYSJOY

But anyways, back to the devotional! Several years ago I finally finished reading the Bible through for the first time. I became a Christian between 2008 and 2009 and often heard my pastor encouraging us to read our Bibles through in a year. It took me more than a year to get through the entire Bible, but I finally did! I remember as I read the last couple of verses in Revelation I expected something amazing to happen, like fireworks going off. But instead I closed the book and felt really overwhelmed because the Bible isn't a book you read just once; you're supposed to just keep reading it over and over. So I closed the book only to open it right back up and start again.

But it was really hard to start again for awhile. I had read straight through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and breezed through many books in the Old Testament that I didn't understand the significance of at the time. Looking back I regretfully realized that I barely remembered anything I had read and I felt so discouraged and didn't really feel like reading the Bible through again. So I just read Psalms for awhile and if I felt inspired to read or study something else I would.

Finally, at the beginning of 2014 I began to feel the Lord stirring in my heart to memorize His Word. I finally really felt inspired again to dig into His Word. I also began to realize that using a Bible reading plan had kind of been a distraction in my spiritual walk. For me, a Bible reading plan was just something else to check off the list; I read the four chapters I was supposed to and that was it. And I thought to myself, "I read the Bible today, I'm good!" But I never took the time to study or get inspired while reading.

Towards the end of 2014 the idea for my devotional came to me while reading the Bible one day - it's like the Lord just plopped the idea into my head. When I say devotional, I mean a journal that has prompts everyday for you to respond to while reading your Bible. So at the beginning of 2015 I began testing out all of my ideas in a notebook and eventually tried to design it myself on my computer. I got most of my ideas documented but needed a professional to help me finish it and that is the stage I am currently in. I am SO excited to launch this devotional and I am praying that the Lord will use it!

Originally I wanted my brand to be "Restoring the Joy," but after some research I found that the domain was already taken. I was pretty discouraged when I found that I couldn't use that name anymore. But one day while sitting in Sunday School the teacher said that we need to soak in the Word everyday. For some reason I just loved the sound of that and it inspired the name of my devotional: Soaking in the Word Three-Sixty-Five  After I came up with the name my husband randomly said that my goal was to "soak the world in His love," and our mission statement was born! Eventually I'll probably be switching my blog over to www.soakingintheword.com and I'll also be selling the devotionals on that site as well (but it's not even close to up and running yet).

I've been bursting at the seams with excitement and I can't wait to share the devotional with you when it's all said and done!

Why Christians Should Always Tip Well

Jessica ScheksComment

tipping Several years ago in a discussion class in college I was a part of a discussion that disturbed me. I didn't partake in it... partly because I was mortified, and partly because I hated discussion classes anyway. But several of my classmates began talking about church groups coming into restaurants where they worked as servers at the time. {and side note: One of them happened to work at the Applebee's where my youth group went almost every Sunday night after service.} And when I say they were "talking about church groups," I really mean that they were passionately discussing their hatred for them. They spewed out a list of common characteristics of these so called "church groups:"

  • Terrible tippers
  • Order the cheapest things possible, which results in tiny tips
  • Rude
  • Expect more than should be expected from a server {especially at a sub-par restaurant such as Applebee's}
  • Have no sympathy if it's busy or for any other circumstances the server may be dealing with
  • Often in large groups
  • Often come in late at night
  • Easily offended

But here's the thing, for the most part, they were right. And it really saddens me.

My husband has been a server for about nine years and he totally knows what it feels like to work hard all night and barely get a tip. It's a terrible feeling. But on the flip side,  he also knows what it feels like to get an awesome tip that totally makes his night! So he loves paying it forward and leaving a great tip for our servers when we go out.

Before we started dating I used to tip exactly 15 percent, it didn't matter whether the service was phenomenal or not, or what I ordered was only $4.50 resulting in a 67 cent tip. In fact I was happy to only have to pay a small tip when my bill was small. But then Michael enlightened me.

Leaving an extra dollar or two, or five, or ten, probably isn't going to hurt you, most likely will not make or break you financially, and in turn will make someone feel appreciated. Many of my friends are Christians, so when I go out to eat with friends, the very vast majority of the time it's safe to say that we are all Christians at the table. Sometimes we will openly pray over our meal and we often go out to eat after church so we're all dressed up and the hostess or server will usually ask us why we're so fancy or where we're coming from. So at this point, everything we do will either point the server and other restaurant employees to Christ, or turn them away.

tip jar

So how does acting annoyed, acting as if you deserve the world, acting as if you could care less that the server has eleven other tables, etc. make them want to come to church with you next week? I don't even have to go into specific Bible verses because this is a basic Christian principle; a lifestyle that is to be followed if you are a Christian. That ALL should be done in love {which includes eating at a restaurant and tipping before you leave} and loving thy neighbor as thyself {your server is your neighbor!}

And when I say love, I'm referring to the Christ-like charity. How did Christ show love? If he came and sat down at a restaurant how do you think he'd treat the one serving him? It humbles me just to think about how gracious and loving he'd be towards a stranger just performing their job. He'd probably find a way to minister to them, and without a doubt, he'd leave them with a good impression. Perhaps that person would follow him; leave their job right then and there to become his disciple. Since Jesus is currently not walking around on earth interacting with people, we must put a face on Christ to those lost in the world. It's our responsibility!

It completely boggles my mind that Christians are greedy and act like they deserve to be waited on hand and foot for them to even give a 20 percent tip. To me, a 20 percent tip is standard these days. As Christians we really get our feathers ruffled when people start calling us hypocrites and insulting our lifestyles. Sometimes we get a little too high and mighty, and in our heads respond to these "haters" by listing off the "good" things we do. If only you knew how many times a week I go to church, and I volunteer here, and I read my Bible every morning, and I tithe, and I do this and I do that... how dare someone call me rude. But then we go to a restaurant and leave pocket change on the table because we were insanely nitpicky about the way we were served.

I've noticed Christians are really good at finding flaws in servers. And maybe you do leave a decent tip because that's what you've always been taught, but I've also observed many Christians who start talking as soon as the server walks away. She's only taken several steps away from the table, and the insults start flying. She forgot my extra spoon, she brought the wrong sauce, she didn't refill my drink, blah, blah, blah. Have you ever served several tables simultaneously with demands being thrown at you from every direction? We'd all make mistakes in a fast-paced environment with a thousand different things needing to be done.

So give that server some grace! Instead of telling her she forgot, ask her the next time she stops by your table for what you need like it's the first time you asked. As soon as you say it I bet she'll remember and feel bad enough; you don't need to make it your personal duty to make her feel inadequate. And stop the criticism. Even if your server doesn't hear you, people sitting around you will, and they probably know or at least suspect that you're a Christian based on your dress and if you said a prayer over your meal. If they hear hatred coming from your lips, they'll probably want nothing to do with you.

Even if the service you received really was bad. I still think you should extend grace because people need loved the most when they deserve it the least. You just never know. The server's grandmother could be in the hospital, or maybe one of his friends recently committed suicide. Or maybe he's just really bitter about life because he's been dealt a lot of bad circumstances. Whatever the case, leave a tip. And maybe even a little note of encouragement. Never even think about not leaving a tip! An extra generous tip to an angry person might be just what they need to be humbled. They probably know they're being rude. And they might be intentionally rude to people they know are Christians. If I were that server and I got an awesome tip after I served a table I'd been intentionally rude to, it'd probably convict me or at least cause me to think twice!

So shine the light! Be grace filled everywhere you go so that it spills out of you and onto the people around you. Get to know your server, show that you care. If she shares a struggle in life, mention that you'll pray for her {and you better actually pray!}. Be prayerful about the tip you leave, ask the Lord to lay on your heart if you are to give something extra. The Lord might use you to answer a prayer that your server hopelessly lifted up before her shift as she sifted through her bills. Plus, you'll quickly find that it's a much more pleasant dining experience when you extend grace to your server; you'll forget the small stuff that doesn't really matter, and you'll feel good when you leave knowing that you put a face on Jesus!

An Endlessly Misinterpreted Scripture

FaithJessica Scheks3 Comments

About a week or so ago I read this post by Lori over at Always Learning. She was talking about contentment and spending less because materials goods have no value -- eternally speaking. She mentioned a verse that I constantly see on Pinterest, that is sometimes posted on Facebook when someone is going through a trial, and is quoted by many in the Christian world. The problem is that people always quote the NIV {this post is not intended to debate which version is the best} instead of the KJV. I've always been taught that the KJV is closer to the original translation and I often use the Strong's KJV concordance while studying to really help me understand a verse better since some of the vocabulary is rarely used anymore or used differently in this day and age.

The verse is Jeremiah 29:11 -- you have probably heard it quoted this way many times:

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"

However Lori quoted it from the KJV Bible and it takes on an entirely different feeling and meaning:

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

{I'm sure I've read this scripture a dozen or so times in the KJV Bible, but it never really struck me until today.}

Now I didn't mean to be super harsh by crossing out the first version of this scripture, but the world tends to interpret this verse very incorrectly when read from this version. They believe that God has a very specific plan for them filled with only good things; they will never be harmed and no matter what they will always have a hope for eternity.

First off -- this scripture is about the Israelites as a whole, it's definitely not directed towards one specific individual, but rather a large nation. People today take it is a promise that God will specifically make sure no harm comes their way as an individual. But by reading more of the Bible we know that trials are going to come our way. Just because we are going through a trial does not mean God has forsaken us! Psalm 34:19 tells us that "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them ALL!" {Emphasis mine.}

I feel like to continue this post I'm going to have to mention the concept of predestination >> Personally I believe that God predestines certain events, certain jobs for certain people, etc. But I do not believe that He predestines every aspect of every person's life. If He did it seems to me that we would not have free will, or the ability to make choices. My two main "arguments" are that first of all, God has given us the ability to make choices because we have the ability to sin. But if God predestined every single decision we made, then when we did sin would it be God's fault? I think we know the answer. It definitely would not be God's fault. Secondly, if God knew the outcome of everything then praying would be pointless. In Mark 7:25-30, the Syrophoenician Woman changed the mind of God by asking Jesus a second question in order to have the demon driven out of her daughter. If it were predestined that Jesus would not heal her daughter, then her asking a second question and persisting that her daughter be healed wouldn't have changed anything.

Something else that we need to consider is the fall of mankind -- we failed. Therefore we have a curse on this earth which explains much of the evil and sickness that we must endure. If we had not fallen, death would not be a fear of humans because we were not made to die. But mankind decided to sin; it was a decision, and now we have to live with the consequences.

Taking all of this into consideration will tell you that, yes, Christians along with everyone else in the world will go through trials and suffer at some point, but we also have a hope that the rest of the world doesn't have -- That if we continue to walk with God while we're being tested we will come forth as gold! (Job 23:10)

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:" // Romans 8:1-3

Jesus made us free! He suffered to make us free. He suffered. He sinlessly suffered to make sinners free. {There is no greater love!} But this means we will also suffer, but we will suffer for Christ's sake! Suffering for Jesus seems like the least I could do since he did everything for me and yet I feel unworthy even to suffer in his name let alone be blessed.

And even though this scripture doesn't mean what so many believers think it means, it doesn't take any of the glory from our God! He does know you personally, after all He created you. He formed you. He is YOUR {personal, loving, all-knowing, amazing, graceful, merciful} GOD!

 

Simplifying and Glorifying

FaithJessica Scheks2 Comments

"Anything you are unwilling to let go of [in life] becomes an idol."

This quote by Lisa Vischer {Wife of Phil Vischer who is one of the creators of Veggie Tales} really resonated with me when I heard her interviewed on Moody Radio last week. Like many Christians I've made the goal of reading my Bible through for the year 2015. But I'm reading the Bible prayerfully this year. I'm not going in any order -- just making sure I read at least four chapters a day. And so far I've seen some themes in my reading that I think God is using to show me ways I need to change in order to glorify Him more and more. You can tell God is trying to get a hold of you when you've just had too many experiences to consider it a coincidence. And through all of this, I think God has given me a couple of "themes" for 2015:

C  O  N  T  E  N  T  M  E  N  T

It's something I never gave too much thought. I knew that I shouldn't be blowing my whole paycheck at Target and that I should be thankful for what I had as opposed to bitter for what I didn't have yet still wanted. But this year the Lord keeps placing experiences across my path and daily scriptures and blog posts to read about being content//not being materialistic//being a minimalist//not spending unnecessary money//etc. I am really coming to realize how unimportant it is to buy things.

I have always been a shopper, which is surprising because my mom is definitely not and never has been-- so where did I get it from? But lately {and thankfully} I get that naggy feeling of guilt when I buy things that are not truly needed. I'm pretty sure that naggy feeling of guilt is conviction. As I've done my daily Bible reading so far this year, I've come across so many verses about being content and not wanting more. Perhaps it's because contentment is a big topic of the Bible anyways so it's mentioned quite frequently? But nonetheless, it's really sticking out to me this year and impacting me and the way I want to live.

Along with contentment I need to mention another word. It's like a sister word to contentment. And that word is:

S  I  M  P  L  I  C  I  T  Y

I have had a growing desire this year to really simplify my life. To get rid of clutter, purge out my closet, to keep things tidy, and to eliminate distractions. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I just really want to be intentional in every aspect of my life. And this hasn't been the easiest journey so far. It's hard for a lifelong hoarder of things to get rid of all of her things. But here is what I've done so far:

  • Michael and I did the Daniel Fast at the beginning of January to pray for family in desperate need of prayer and to start off on a clean slate for the year.
  • "Cleaned" out my closet - I'll have to go through it again because I came up with a lot of excuses for items that I probably should have donated.
  • My Gold Card anniversary at Starbucks sort of snuck up on me this year - since we were fasting for most of January I was unable to get Starbucks. I needed 20 stars in less than 15 days.. I tried at first. But I realized it wasn't going to happen and I'm okay. I feel like this is God telling me that this "award" is pointless in eternity and unnecessary on this earth.
  • I've kept our apartment much cleaner than I have in the past.
  • I deleted my Facebook app from my phone because I was spending way too much time on it. WAY too much time. And I've loved it - I feel like my mind feels less cluttered because there's so much less clutter from other people's lives filling up my brain.
  • I rearranged the apps on my phone -- My home page is now blank. The second page only has necessary apps {i.e. alarm, calendar, weather, settings, etc} along with my Bible and music apps {which I only use for spiritual music}. The next page has utility apps and other things I occasionally use, and the last page is where you will find my social media apps (Gmail, Instagram, Pinterest, FB Messenger, Buzzfeed, and Timehop) and my games. I purposely made them less accessible. I've found that when my Instagram app isn't glaring at me, vying for my attention as soon as I unlock my phone, I tend to use it less.
  • I have tried to wake up early to spend time with God. I am terrible at this. I love my sleep and I feel so cozy when I wake up that this has by far been the biggest struggle I've had while trying to simplify my life.
  • I've tried to limit my intake of media in general, including TV. Especially TV that doesn't glorify the Lord. I feel like this helps to simplify my mind. My mind is not a trash can, therefore I'm not filling it with trash.

And there have been many scriptures that have convicted me as well, here are just some of them:

  • Job 1:21 "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
  • Psalm 49:17 "For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him."
  • Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
  • Psalm 62:10 "...if riches increase, set not your heart upon them."
  • Psalm 101:3 "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me."
  • Ecclesiastes 3:6 "A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;"
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity."
  • Ecclesiastes 5:15 "As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand."
  • Daniel 1:8, 15 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself...And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."
  • Daniel 6:27 "He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
  • Ephesians 5:16 "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
  • Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
  • Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;"
  • 1 Timothy 2: 9-10 "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But {which becometh women professing godliness} with good works."
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-8 "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
  • 2 Timothy 2:16 "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
  • 2 Peter 2:7-9 "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of the temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:"

That's a lot of scriptures for one blog post - but the overarching theme from them all is that God always provides! You don't need to worry about anything if you have food and clothes. And to keep your mind pure, which means staying away from impure things.

Going back to the quote from the beginning of my post, it really made me think about what I hold near and dear in my life and if I'd be able to get rid of them if I felt led by the Lord. Some of those things include Starbucks, Target and Marshall's shopping trips, Panera Bread, Parenthood, my iPhone, cute clothes, makeup, and the list could go on and on. I don't think these things are bad, and definitely do not consider them to be a sin -- but I had never thought about the things I loved before in this way. They would all become a sin if I chose them over the Lord because I would be unwilling to give them up even though He asked me to. And it makes it even more clear to me that nothing on this earth matters except for the people. I have to be willing to give up any of these things for the Lord, and even if I had to, it would seem like a couple seconds of my life once I got to eternity. It would no longer seem like a burden or even something worth thinking about once I'm standing in front of my Lord on the other side <3

It's only the beginning of February, I have eleven months to go. But I am really trying to "redeem the time" and to be intentional about every part of my day so that I can make the most of it.

Saving Power of the Bible

FaithJessica ScheksComment

This past Sunday in church, a brother from the Gideonites came to our service and spoke to our congregation about their mission and what they are doing all over the world to share God's precious Holy Word. He shared story after story about people from all over the world and how receiving a Gideon Bible brought them to salvation.

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{Side note: The Gideons are the ones who make sure there is a Bible in every hotel room, motel room, and hospital room in the United States.}

As this man spoke, the statistics he shared with us about how many people in countries like Pakistan (places I wouldn't expect to have so many people gladly accepting God's Word) were astounding. I can't remember each number, but there were several stories that stuck out to me:

In a remote jungle somewhere in South America there was a drug lab of about forty men. In that drug lab happened to be one New Testament from the Gideons. The men fought each day over who got to read it. The drug lab is now shut down, every single man was saved, and over ten have gone on to become pastors! This story made me tear up while listening - I was listening to a miracle!

There was another story about a woman in California addicted to cocaine and heroin who had hit rock bottom when she found a Gideon Bible. She slowly began reading it; it wasn't like she read one scripture and her life completely changed. But now she's been sober for many years and is a believer!

And there were at least half a dozen more stories about so many people in foreign countries who had no way of obtaining a copy of God's Word until the Gideonites came and distributed it to them. And just from reading the Bible, these people were saved!

While sitting in service listening to this man speak, the thought came to my mind, "God's Word has saving POWER!" I began to think about how miraculous it was that people who had only read the Word were so touched by it that they developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accepted him as their Savior. Growing up in America, I feel like many of us really take the Bible for granted because it's so easily accessible. We can read it whenever we want, it's definitely not considered rare like it is in other regions of the world. And I just kept thinking about what an amazing testimony that would be -- to say that you began reading a Bible given to you by a missionary group and the stories were so powerful and transforming that it caused you to have a hunger and desire for Jesus that could not be filled by the Word alone so you asked him into your heart to be your personal Savior.

Since the Bible is so common to me and many other Americans, I feel ashamed because I don't feel that way when I read the Bible. It's something I've grown up with; something that's always there; something I take for granted. Even though I felt so much joy listening to the man speak to our congregation I also felt a call to repentance and prayer - asking the Lord for forgiveness for not recognizing the power contained in the Scriptures every time I read, and pleading to Him to anoint my mind as I read the Scriptures so that I can view them the way that so many around the world have as it was the only way they came to know Jesus Christ!

Our pastor spoke before the Gideon brother, and he brought out 2 Timothy 3:16-16 >> "ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."

My heart was overwhelmed and I wrote a prayer down in my church notebook while the Gideon brother was still speaking:

Lord, please bless me as I read Your Word - touch my mind as I draw from the Well of Living Water that I would feel that saving power that so many have felt while reading a Gideon Bible in a hotel, jail, drug house in a jungle, or on the street that has transforming power. Thank you, Lord for Your divine Word!

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As I typed out this prayer, I was thinking of what I need to do on my end for the Lord to answer my prayer. First and foremost, I need to dig deep into the Word every day. And before I do that, I need to pray this prayer each time I read. The Bible is the Bread of Life - just like Manna, it should be eaten daily. You can't expect to receive the life-giving power if you don't eat from it daily. You can't eat a week's worth in one day either, just like the Israelites could only gather enough manna to last them for the day, you can't "work ahead" on your Bible reading. You are working on creating a lifelong relationship with the Lord, you need to take it one day at a time, and spend time getting to know Him daily. You could never date someone and expect to get married if you weren't diligent about getting to know them and spending time with them! Each day starts anew! God's mercies are new for you every single day - so spend time with Him each day in His Word. When I make a point to do this, it doesn't matter necessarily how my day goes; it always feels like it was a great day since I started it off with such a great perspective. A perspective focused on eternity that helps me to realize what really matters.

Join me in praying that we can form lifelong habits of digging into the Word each day so that I can receive the life giving, saving POWER that God's Word has to offer us! Comment below with tips or strategies you use to read daily and keep yourself accountable!