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Last Advent I encouraged you to memorize John’s famous prologue. You may be surprised, but I am feeling led to go there again.

Let me tell you a story. My friend Greg tells of being taught by Howard Hendricks at Dallas Theological Seminary. The first day of class Hendricks gave the students one passage of two verses and told them to find ten observations. They do. The next day he tells them to find ten more, and with much more effort they do. He repeats the assignment the third day and they are amazed — how can they possibly? Have they not exhausted its depth? No, they find they have not.  They look at every word, they look at cross references, they thoroughly examine the context. When he repeats the assignment the fourth and fifth day they have to really push themselves. They now have the passage memorized, so they ponder it throughout the day. They “draw” the passage. To their amazement they find the Word “inhabits” them, “tabernacles” in them, and is changing them. Hendricks has made his point. God’s Word is as deep as the ocean and as it lives in you, He lives more fully in you, and you are changed. And isn’t that what we long for, especially at Advent?

If ever a passage was as deep as the ocean, it is John’s prologue.

deepasoceanFor those of you who have already memorized, review, until it is part of your DNA. And my questions will endeavor, once we cover the basics, to look at it and to apply it from fresh angles.

Matthew Henry quotes a Plato philospher: These opening words of John are worthy to be written in gold. These words changed his life from “loose notions of religion” to true faith. They were written with such “authority and majesty in style, that his flesh trembled, and he was struck with such amazement that for a whole day he scarcely knew where he was or what he did.”

Matthew and Luke tell us what happened at Christmas, beginning gently, but John thunders down with who Jesus is and why He came.

christmasborderHere’s an application for those Christmas christmaslettersletters some of you will write. Consider, instead of writing what you did this year, telling how God is at work in your heart. Just a few sentences — perhaps a book or study that impacted you and why. Ask for prayer where you are weak. Keep it brief, illustrate with pictures, but let your friends see your heart, including, if possible, your heart for them. If you are snail mailing, add a personal written sentence on why you love them!

twila2You may remember the pivotal conversation I had with my friend Twila (on the left at my home last Christmas). Twila, for those of you who are new, memorizes whole books: Romans, James, Hebrews,word-became-flesh 2 Corinthians….She walks her dog Amos morning and evening. Before she goes on her walk she memorizes her portion for the day, and then she practices and practices as she walks. She also reviews past memory work. She used to memorize in the morning and listen to a book on tape in the afternoon, but she said, “I so loved the sense of His presence during my memory time that I decided I could memorize during both walks!” Twila is the fragrance of Christ, and I believe it is because in a mysterious way Jesus is the Word and He lives and breathes in her. Tim Keller said, “In Psalm 119, that long psalm all about the Word, the psalmist seems to be worshiping the Word, lifting up his hands to the Word. Why? The Word is Jesus. So as you memorize and meditate, you will find yourself wrapped in His arms. And out of your mouth will flow what you have stored in your heart.

Each Sunday write out on an index card the passage for the week. You may want to put it on your phone audibly and in written form so it’s always nearby. Here’s this week’s passage in the ESV, but do it in the translation of your choice.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Here’s the schedule:

November 29: John 1:1-5 (Biggest chunk!) jesus_words

December 6: John 1:6-8 (John the Baptist)

December 13: John 1:9-11 (The Light)

December 20: John 1:12-13 (Children of God)

December 27: John 1:14 (Word Became Flesh)

Jan 3: New study. Maybe the Song –


I am convinced that together we will help each other go deeper into this rich passage, and that putting it in our hearts will allow us to be with Him, to experience His presence, and to see His fragrance grow in our lives and pour out to others. Isn’t this what Christmas is truly about? To prepare your heart, listen to this:



1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?

2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving.

3. Write out John 1:1-5 on an index card, or for your phone — something nearby.

Monday-Thursday Bible Study

4. Begin memorizing, meditating…

In the Hebrew “the Word” is Logos, which Tim Keller compares to the maker’s instruction manual. How often have I ignored instructions to a product only to have to go back and look at them. I bought a solar lamp to illuminate the sign at the top of my very dark road, but it did not turn on. I finally went back, looked at the “Maker’s Manual” and realized I had not “peeled off the plastic covering on the solar panel.” Voila. That night there was light!


5. Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual,” the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.

6. What do you think God’s purpose for Advent is in your life? How is this different than the world?

7. As you meditate on John 1:1-2,  make ten observations.

Keep memorizing — share any new insights. Soon we’ll ask you to write out what you have done.


8. Compare John 1:1-5 with Genesis 1:1-3.

A. What similarities do you see?

B. When you consider Genesis, what might be one reason Jesus is called “The Word?”

C. How do you see the mystery of the Trinity in these passages?

9. Matthew and Luke tell the Christmas story historically. They begin gently with the genealogy or the birth, but this “Son of Thunder” is different. Why, according to John 20:31?

10. Write out what you have memorized so far.

11. Find nine things about God from these opening five verses. Share any meditations on each.


12. How does verse 5 give you hope in these perilous times?

13. Compare this passage to Hebrews 1:1-4. What similarities do you see?

Use John 1:1-5 to pray. Use the ACTS formula if you like. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.) And do it in secret. Make this an Advent pattern.

Friday Sermon:

15. Choose one or both sermons. The first is by Jim Hamilton and is an excellent overview of the whole prologue. I am also going to give you the option of the free Tim Keller sermon we heard last year, for I know I can listen to him again and again. (By the way, Gospel in Life is having a sale through tomorrow on all sermons — 30% off if you type in thanks in the promo blank.)

Jim Hamilton: Grace Upon Grace

      The Word Made Flesh - Timothy J. Keller


16. Write our your memory passage.

17. What is your take-a-way and why? How is this impacting you so far?

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  1. 1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?
    oh Dee! I did memorize this entire scripture last year and then wrote a dance for our 150th year church anniversary ceremony back in September! I SO want to share it with you, but am so tech challenged that I don’t know how to do it well 🙁 not only did I memorize, but I lived this scripture  from last December to this past September every week! My partner and I choreographed and danced all year 🙂 I ended up adding Proverbs 8:22-36 within the John 1 scripture (fairly certain God told me to do this) and it came out beautifully! I am going to see what I can do with getting you a copy of our final dance. I am so happy to be here this advent season!!!

      1. I have our rehearsal on a cell phone (I think bekah’s 🙁  ). I am trying to get it. I also have one that was filmed by our church and one filmed by the local tv studio. These have the congregation in them and are difficult to see our moves. I will try to find the Facebook one.

      2. Dee I added you as a fb member to our dance studio page. The video is there ?

        And look! You got my emogi!!

        1. Laura, what is your dance studio page? Maybe we can all see it there, or one of you can copy and paste it on Dee’s Bible Study Friends FB page. I LOVE THIS!

    1. Laura, dear one.  I am astonished at how the Spirit is growing you by leaps and bounds.  Your fruitful life, and the way you “leave it all on the field” for Jesus in your daily walk with Him just makes MY heart leap for joy!  🙂  

      1. ?

    2. Laura, that is so cool!  I would love to see the dance.  Will pray it works out for Dee to post it on here.

      1. Look! My emogis are working!!! ???????

    3. Yeah, yeah, yeah! I want to see!What a special gift that would be!

    4. Laura, after “dancing” with you leading us…even though we were seated, in Ashland, I would be thrilled to see this video of you and your partner! I truly experienced such a profound meaning when we did that in Ashland, it made me feel like crying. You have such a gift!

  2. Oh My.  I have been on a several week “break” from active participation on the blog to tend to needful things close to home and hearth.  Each week, however, I have taken the time to read the blog near the end of the week and in that sense to follow along with all of your hearts!  Also….as always, each Sunday morning I so crave just a few moments to read what you have been led to challenge us with – and find that, as a worship leader from afar Dee, you so faithfully are used of the Master to tune my heart worship with my brothers and sisters at morning worship service.  🙂  
    This morning I could only smile as I read of our going back to John.  For several weeks now I’ve been immersed in a personal study/memorization in the book of 1 John.  Almost daily this leads me back to the gospel of John, and the bulk of my time there has been spent in, yes, John chapter 1!  Truly needful territory for further exploration.  Beautiful.  
    And Twila….what a gift through you and your stories of her that she has been to me.  Her pattern of walking her dog and memorizing Scripture was SUCH a lightbulb moment for me….I do spend a lot of time walking dogs!  And so for months now I’ve been incorporating her practice of memorizing while walking or running with a dog.  LOVE this simple, eye opening opportunity.  
    Much love to all my sisters here – may the Advent season find all of us filled to overflowing with a fresh love and awe for and of our Savior, Jesus Christ!!  

    1. So glad to see you back, Jackie!

  3. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?

    To be honest I felt a bit discouraged, I didn’t complete this challenge last year, I began okay and fizzled. word for word memory has never been a strong skill for me but now that I am at the cusp of menopause, well… many things just feel insurmountable.
      What stood out to me though was this “And out of your mouth will flow what you have stored in your heart.” I want that!  I have been feeling a poverty of love and wisdom for the multitude of hurting people around me. I know it is because my abiding in Christ has been lacking, I need to be full of Him to be of any comfort to them, and I really do want to be useful in that way. So yes I am with you, I am so thankful for this place that teaches me so well to dwell in His presence!

    1. Dear Chris, I do think you and I often have the same thoughts, feelings, and struggles. I so identify with starting out well, only to fizzle. That happened to me earlier this year with the chronological reading of the Bible. And also to feel “a poverty of love and wisdom for the multitude of hurting people around me…because my abiding in Christ has been lacking.”
      Early this morning I was listening to a podcast of a message by Chip Ingram, and he mentioned the verse in Matthew 11:28-30. I had always focused on the first part of that passage, the “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened…” but today I pondered this part, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me.” Chip talked about how two animals were yoked together. I pondered, what kind of God is this? What kind of Master is this? Jesus is high and exalted, yet He isn’t portrayed here seated on a throne and barking orders at me, or He isn’t the driver of the cart who will whip me when I stumble or go the wrong way. I am yoked together with Him, and He walks beside me, saying, “Go this way…turn a bit to the right or the left…here, let Me help you up.” What kind of God is this who wears a yoke and walks along beside me? It really encouraged me today, and I hope it also encourages you!

      1. Susan–this is so good, really encouraged me. I love Chip Ingram too–listen to him usually daily in the car–I’d love to hear him in person sometime. 

      2. That was very encouraging, Susan!

      3. So loved this AWE inspiring interpretation of Matthew 11.  And your thoughts and pondering towards the end.”What kind of God is this who wears a yoke and walks along beside me? It really encouraged me today, and I hope it also encourages you!” Yes, I am encouraged!

      4. Susan, Bless your heart, what you shared fit so well with our message at church on Sunday, about Christ leaving the riches of heaven to become poor in order that we could be brought in. I love this, thank you :)I also fizzled in my chronological reading :/I was doing great until I reached Proverbs.

    1. Thank you Dee…I have been pondering the passage in spite of not being able to post much.

  4. Only have a minute now, but what stood out to me was my reaction to the first paragraph. Reading about Hendricks’ method at DTS, the pursuance of and “feasting” on the Truth, I was just surprised by the surge of emotion I felt. I’m not naturally “good” at memorization, and then I made it harder because after growing up with the NIV, we now use ESV and I tried to switch for this (think I will stick with NIV!) Then this: “until it is part of your DNA” I WANT THAT. I pray I get to meet Twila one day,but I am so drawn to her and stories of her, simply because of her habit in the Word. She is filled with the Word! What a gift to be around that, and how it inspires me. I’m impatient with memorization, but I have such a renewed hunger to really know the Word, I am excited by the challenge. The Word is Christ. And It is our weapon against the enemy, I know He wants us to distort It, forget It…and I pray that we will all be encouraged to press on and however He leads each of us, to cling to It.

    1. Yes, Lizzy, ” the Word is our weapon against the enemy.”
      Meditating on this beautiful scripture is truly an encouragement to me in this darkness of our present world.
      I keep thinking of the “light shining in the darkness.” This Advent I want to shine in my relationships, letting the light of Christ be a part. I know I must die to self.
      I hope I can be silent and listen.

    1. So endeared to Twila–I’m using my old 1984 NIV for this. When the NIV was changed, my Church began using ESV so that’s my daily reading– but certain passages I knew bits and pieces of…it gets tricky for me to get every word right when I try to switch! Unfortunately, I was never a great memorizer (what IS the word for that?!), so there’s only a few from my high school/college days that are stuck in NIV 😉 I could try…but my perfectionist husband makes me get every word exactly right when he tests me! So thankful for your encouraging us Dee to study and know the Word. I am one who needs the continual nudges and this accountability…and I am so thankful for it!

      1. I am with you and Chris, Lizzy-I so need this nudge and accountability!

      2. Until I came on this blog, I didn’t even know the NIV had been updated!  I could never give up my 1984 NIV.  Duct tape is holding the binding together.  The external zipper cover needs replacing.  I’ve probably written enough notes in the margin, to fill a whole notebook.  And best, if I don’t know where to find a verse, but kinda know the book, I can usually visualize where it is on the page.  I know it’s great to use electronic Bibles for travel and all, but this one is my old friend.  In reading the chronological read-through, I’ve varied it a bit and read from other versions sometimes, but I can’t stay far from my old 1984!  
        However, I am actually using the old KJV for memorizing John 1:1-14.  It’s my earliest memorization version and I can’t shake it.  Long term memory survives better than more recent attempts!

  5. I am THRILLED! What stood out to me was how His word is like a deep ocean-oh it is, and when Dee mentioned, as His word is in us He lives more fully in us and we are changed-yes, this is what I long for. 
    May we press into you Lord through the doubt and condemnation the evil one will bring-and he will-but you have overcome..help us to press on. Open our eyes, transform us- as the deer pants for water may our souls pant after you.. Help us to eliminate distractions that might keep us from your word and grow in us a deeper desire for you as we meditate and memorize. We are grateful for Dee and Twila and their thirsty hearts for you, for we are encouraged to press into you through them! In your name, amen

    1. Rebecca–thank you for this beautiful prayer, amen!

  6. 2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving.
    Just one? 🙂  His light in my oldest son as I asked Dee’s questions around the table. Also, as Dee’s recent Facebook post said so beautifully-The Gift of human love. 

  7. So I have memorized this passage in either the NASB or the NIV-I can’t remember..I think I have both versions memorized-kind of mixed together now-but I want to straighten that out. I think I will go with NIV. 
    Oh and that is one thing I love about the Holy Spirit-He brings older memory verses to mind often, and even in droughts He is faithful to speak to my soul-giving me His life giving water. Amazing love. :)))))))

  8. …and I like Dee’s challenge to meditate-to make observations verse by verse..to study it inside and out and the next thing you know-you have memorized it with sweet communion of Him taking us to new depths. 🙂 

  9. 2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving. 
    I am thankful we had an unexpected blessing this weekend. 

  10. I am so thankful for Jesus Christ,my Lord and Savior, who loves me unconditionally and has forgiven me!  So thankful for family and the body of Christ! 

    1. Welcome Jeanne ~

    2. Glad you are with us here Jeanne, love your heart of gratitude

  11. Dee, I am so glad you are choosing for us to memorize John 1 again this Advent! I memorized it last year and often found that I would recite it (or parts of it) in bed when I couldn’t sleep or when I lay in bed praying. I agree that memorizing Scripture is so important to letting God change us to be more like Him. My memory isn’t perfect these days and, if I forgot a word or verse, I would try not to get too frustrated and move on because each new verse is so rich and full.  So, spending time memorizing again this year I hope it will ground it more and more firmly in my heart and mind. Perhaps this year I will use ESV as it is my main Study Bible now and I love it so much.
    I love this whole passage. It has such depth, so much to ponder, to remember who Jesus is and the wonder that he “became flesh and dwelt among us”. I especially have grown to love verse 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”(KJV) We see “his glory” through the eyes of John and the other apostles and through the Holy Spirit that God has so graciously put in our hearts. I want to behold his glory (“God’s manifest presence”, don’t you just love that definition of glory that I found in my ESV Study Bible notes to Isaiah 6 verse 3!!)  more and more each day, not just this Christmas but for the rest of my life.

    1. Diane–you inspire me. Love the picture of you reciting Scripture as you are awakened at night–I read that and thought “I want that to be me!”–beautiful!

    2. Oh Diane – the Scriptures….what a balm to a sleepless night.  So well said and an inspiration to me!  

  12. 1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?
    I too memorized the John 1:1-14 passage last advent, but did not keep up with it throughout the year to keep it secure in my memory.  The discipline added such richness to last advent/Christmas season; I love the idea of re-memorizing John 1:1-14…I’m in.
    2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving.
    I have been working diligently on clutterbusting my external surroundings and my internal being.  The freedom I am experiencing is truly a blessing.  I am thankful to the Lord for motivating me to action and equipping me in connecting a variety of things to promote the effort.  I am thankful to my husband, daughters, and friends who encourage and support me.  [I agree with Rebecca…”just one?”…:)]

    Welcome Jeanne!

      1. Dee, I so love that book and am working through it right now. I will post an article I found about Marie Kondo, author of the KonMari tidying style! Oh, goody! Even here in our blog, I find some very practical tools. smile.

    1. oh I have missed you Nanci! And love your new picture 🙂

    2. Hi Nanci, I’m glad you’re back! I agree that de-cluttering can make such a difference in how you feel, but it can be so hard! A couple weeks ago, I went through my closet where I have some containers filled with things my children made, dating back to preschool. I decided I could part with the valentines the kids received in preschool…but some of their dear little drawings and first writings (my one son used to write his name backwards) I had to keep! But I have fewer things saved, and organized into plastic containers!

    3. The book I am using is called “ClutterBusting for Busy Women” by Virginia Barkley.  It appears to be a similar concept to that of Marie Kondo.  Virginia Barkley uses the acronym CALM…consolidate, align, liberate, and maintain.  I am reading “Ordering your Private World” by Gordon MacDonald, “Overcoming” by Aubrey Sampson, and have nearly completed “The Envy of Eve” to address the internal clutter.  All is yet a work in progress…:)

      It is good to be back…thanks Lizzy and Susan. 

  13. Dee, 
    I so value and look forward to seeing what you have for us each early Sunday morning from here in Montana.    
    1.  Challenged by Twila’s simple but significant  and consistent habit of memorization.  I don’t memorize easily, but am compelled to try again.  So yes, I’m in.
    I’m reminded of Michael Card’s simple song ~ The Word is So Near  :    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biXrKOaIJq4
    The last few lines of the song are:
    The Word is so near, in the innermost part
    Its alive on your lips, it abides in your heart.
    2. Thanksgiving gratitude:   That four sweet granddaughters and one tiny grandson and my dad with alzheimers could gather round my table and fill my home with much laughter for many hours that day.   

    1. Nila–love your Thanksgiving gratitude–sweet blessing. And thank you for this song!

  14. What stood out to me….how deep it is possible to go in just one verse, and how shallow I have been for some time now.  I had memorized this passage in the 84 NIV back in 1985, but count me in.  I want to refresh it and dive headlong into it!

  15. 1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this? “I believe it is because in a mysterious way Jesus is the Word and He lives and breathes in her.” This stood out to me because I think this may be a tangible way for me to actually become closer to Christ. I have been struggling with not “feeling” this sense of closeness that everyone talks about and it leaves me wondering am I not “trying” hard enough? Is the Lord keeping this from me for a reason? Or am I just expecting something that isn’t necessarily going to happen or even supposed to happen?
    Yes, I’m in!
    2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving. This is the first Thanksgiving in 21 years that all of my brothers and sisters were able to attend (I have a brother who moved across the country and has not made it back to our state for Thanksgiving since he left). This brother is 41 and his wife of 12 years is 36, they have never been able to have a child and found out just before Easter that she was expecting! They moved back to be closer to family so in addition to the 2 granddaughters that I have been blessed with this year, I also have a niece who is was born the same month as my youngest granddaughter! We had 40 people at dinner this year. Just my parents, their kids, grandkids and great grandkids (with 10 who weren’t able to make it!) It was crowded and wonderful!!

    1. Dawn–so good to see you here–what a blessed Thanksgiving memory!

  16. 1.   What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?
    A few things:
    a.   the story of Greg about Howard Hendricks-we have one of his books here at home. The practice of looking into the Word of God until it becomes a part of my DNA. Wow!
    b.    “loose notions of religion to true faith”. And the timeliness of reading this passage before leading my Sunday School class today. We were talking about oppositions to us as Christians and we were on the downward spiral of being discouraged about what is going on in the world and voila! John 1:5 came to mind and I got to share the wonderful truth that “whatever darkness there is, it cannot overcome the light of the world! Amazing Word!
    c.    Twila’s example of memorizing Scripture- I am not very good at memorizing and like Lizzy and a few others, my NIV and ESV versions get all mixed up. But I will continue trying.
    Yes, I am in as best as I can! Three weeks and 2 days of craziness in school. God help me, please. Smile
    2.   Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving.
    This verse from Romans 8:1-2 because it speaks of freedom in Christ that things of this life can never take away.
    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

    1. oh Bing–you are so endearing. I told my husband last night, in reading one of your facebook posts–I SO look forward to meeting you and hugging you One Day–if not on this side, then Heaven! I think of you and think JOY.

  17. 1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?
    Dee,  I am thrilled that we are going to be memorizing/rememorizing, going deeper and deeper in John 1.   I was really intrigued with the story of how Howard Hendricks led his class, sending them back again and again to find new layers of meaning.    When I was taking classes in undergraduate Bible college,  none of my NT or OT professors ever employed that method.  I sort of wish they had.   One of the classes I took was New Testament Greek, and we were taught that by translating the Gospel of John.  Believe me, I have probably forgotten everything I learned in that class, because that was 50 years ago! I memorized the prologue in John 1 last year; however, I am another one who didn’t keep refreshing it during the year, so it will be interesting to see how hard I may have to work to get it back in my memory again.    I am definitely in for this!   
    2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving.  
    I was grateful that things are as good as they are right now.   Believe me, they could be better, but I can see God’s hand even in the struggles.   I never doubt that God provides, because He just keeps doing it over and over.   Sometimes it is in mysterious or strange ways, but even then,  when I look back in retrospect I can see His magical hand in the events of my life and the lives of my family members.   That is so reassuring and comforting!   

  18. 1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?      OH so amazing!  It’s 8pm on Sunday and I just opened the blog.  But an hour ago before I had seen it, as I did dishes, I first retrieved my printed copy of John’s Prologue (1:1-14) which is in a plastic sleeve and taped it to my kitchen window and I was working on and reciting 1-8 as I washed dishes. !  I had that same feeling, Dee.  Tonight I thought,  “I  just need to go there again.” I had decided that whatever the lesson plan was, I was going to keep repeating and working on this portion.  Last year, I recited it for my family on Christmas eve and it was so well received.  I SO want this to be a permanent part of my DNA!  
    Am I with you?   Yes! On the memorizing.  And I hope I can do the lesson on paper.  I truly do have to limit my typing though.  It’s still 2 weeks till I see the hand specialist and typing immediately puts me in pain.  🙁   I have to do a certain amount in a day, so I have to really prioritize and see what I can do.  It’s driving me crazy, because there is always so much to ‘say’!  And I love interacting.  

  19. 1.   Write out John 1:1-5 on an index card, or for your phone — something nearby.
    I got this inspiration to get a piece of paper and fold it in fifths and write the verses for each week. Then I can review and memorize a section at a time. I feel this will not overwhelm me in the process and I will make considerable progress. Laura, I need a lesson on how to post the emojis.

    1. bing, I text on my iPhone and emojis are available for insertion; just like if you are texting someone.

      1. Laura, cool! I will try sometime!

  20. 1. What stood out to you and why? Are you with us in this?
    It stood out to me that as the students studied and pondered the same two verses for several days, those verses never exhausted themselves. That tells me right there that God’s Word is “God-breathed”, living and active. It not only speaks, it converses with us and reveals to us the deep things of God. Yes, I will be memorizing from my 1984 NIV which is just about falling apart, literally, but it’s my favorite Bible! It’s a Rainbow Study Bible, so even when I can’t remember the chapter/verse reference, I know what color it’s in and where to look for certain verses.
    2. Share one thing for which you were thankful for this Thanksgiving.
    To be with my family – both my husband’s side of the family on Thursday, and my side of the family on Friday.

  21. 4.  Begin memorizing…meditating….
    In my Bible I have John 20:30 written out right before the beginning of chapter 1.  It says this:  “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you might believe that Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in His name.”  It helps me so much to wrap around to the context and the reason that John himself gives us for every word that is written in the gospel of John.  
    It occurred to me how often we would point seekers to the gospel of John as a wonderful starting point in reading the Scriptures.  So, even as I begin working through the memorization once more, I’m inclined to bathe it with prayer….who is it in my life Lord …..who is that person that I might offer an invitation to read this precious gospel…..and who might even believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…..and have LIFE in His name!!  Now THAT is a Christmas gift like none other!!!!!  

    1. oh Jackie–so wise to take us to the end in reading the beginning “It helps me so much to wrap around to the context and the reason that John himself gives us for every word that is written in the gospel of John.”  
      Brings even more weight to this important passage–thank you for this (and so glad you’re “in” with us!)

  22. wow!  even as I pressed “submit”, the Lord impressed a name of someone in my life upon my heart to share this with!  🙂  

  23. 5. Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual,” the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.
    This fall I’ve been in a study with some other women on the names of God and how I have come to know him just a little bit better through this very moving study.   A couple of weeks ago we were studying His name, Jehovah Sabaoth.  It often reads as “the LORD of hosts,”  and  it begins to appear in scripture when the children of Israel realize there is no other recourse for deliverance. (It starts appearing frequently in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.)   According to Kay Arthur, this is “God’s name for man’s extremety.”    This is the name of God that, “meets failure and offers deliverance.”   This is the name of God “to run to when there is no other help – from our perspective.”    
    And so, as I’ve pondered this name, I’ve heard the battle cry of our mighty LORD of hosts.  As Kay Arthur continues, “This name is not for those who have ceased to fight.”   We are at war with the enemy of our souls and we must fight.  But we can only fight by recognizing our commander in chief, the mighty one who paradoxically and amazingly loves the unlovable and makes the weak strong, who makes the broken useful, the fearful courageous.  
    One of the passages of scripture that emerged in this study was 1 Samuel 17 where David faces Goliath, when David says, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts.”    
    And so, as a result of this study, every time I read or hear Lord of Hosts,  I am reminded that the very lover of my soul is the same Lord of all the stars and the commander of hosts of angels.    It is entirely humbling.
    And, of course, the Lord reminded me of this old hymn by Martin Luther we use to sing in church. A few exerpts:

    A Mighty Fortress

    A mighty fortress is our God
    A bulwark never failing
    Our helper He amid the flood
    Of mortal ills prevailing
    Did we in our own strength confide
    Our striving would be losing
    Were not the right man on our side
    The man of God’s own choosing.
    Dost ask who that may be?
    Christ Jesus it is He
    Lord Sabaoth His name
    From age to age the same
    And He must win the battle ~
    This study of Lord Sabaoth was and is a sure reminder that has helped me to “make sense” of some things by recognizing the battle we are in, both the personal battles in our small spheres of living as well as the global battles.  

    1. Oh Nila, your precious entry here with a focus on “the LORD of hosts” really captivated me!  I have already read it twice and will likely do so again.  🙂  A.W. Tozer said this:  “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  Several years ago, my prayers were often to “the LORD of hosts” and that name brought me immense comfort and hope.  It was a perilous time that left me humbled and shattered…..but that NAME.  Against all odds, He showed me the preciousness of that name, the LORD of hosts.  I am so grateful that the Spirit moved you to share all that you did here.  I have heard His voice as I pondered Jehovah Sabaoth.  🙂  

      1. Jackie,
        I love Tozer.  Yes, what we think about our God is critical to us at any given moment.  

  24. 5. Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual,” the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.
    There was a sermon given in mid-October on Ephesians 2…I was so struck by “but God” in Ephesians 2:4…two little words that make all the difference (but God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loves me … He makes me alive together with Christ—by grace I have been saved). 
    This wasn’t something I didn’t know, it just really sank into my heart; a deep, rich gratitude warming my heart and soul.  The Lord has been connecting many things together in the past several weeks in His continuing work of transforming me; I am so thankful that He will continue to do so.

    1. Nanci,
      Love this ~  “But God”    
      Immediately reminded me of three words I’ve had before me over the past three weeks ~ But even if  (from Daniel 3:18 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo declared that God would deliver them from the furnace, but even if he didn’t, they would trust in their God, not in idols, knowing that He would ultimately deliver them to that better country beyond the grave)

  25. This vs. is one of the ones that the Jehovah’s witness Bible changes. It repeats “the word was with God” twice instead of saying The word WAS God, That one word is so important! 
    “In HIM was Life and that Life was the light of men” This vs. jumped out to me because I have always missed it. its stuck in the middle and I have always studied the first part and last part apart from one another. “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it” This explains so much!!! HIS light is here, we just do not have eyes to see and hearts to hear. My heart breaks for all those who are so lost and just can not understand all Jesus has for them.

  26. I dont even know where to start with what I am thankful for this Year….all the people that I love. 
    Can I ask you all to pray for my best friend. Michelle and her husband have been in ministry all their lives, she is warn out and their current situation has gone from bad to worse! There is a chance that her husband could get hired as a campus minister wiht the org. that I work for. We have not lived in the same state for over 20 years and just the thought that this could happen is overwhelming to both of us, we dont want to get our hopes up but it is hard! this sat. the board will interview him via skype (they live in colorado) and a decision will be made. her entire extended family lives in Ohio. They are SOOOO in need of rest and healing and I want this for them so badly. please pray that I will hold it all with open hands and except anything GOD chooses. BUT also pray for favor in the boards eyes 🙂

    1. Cyndi – what a beautiful way to pray for your dear friend Michelle.  You are clearly as one with her in her suffering and LONGING…..and yet bowing the knee to the King of Kings!  Amen to your prayers for your friend Cyndi.  🙂  

  27. Just thinking of the Gospel this morning in John 1:14 -how there is beauty in suffering for He became flesh and dwelt among us.

  28. Getting a late start. And I only have a few moments this morning but I did read that many are struggling with memorizing. I am tutoring in a co-op this year and they use songs for almost everything and the kids, of course, find it more fun and retain it much better. The surprising part was that I retained things I didn’t even intend to! 
    All that to say that you can set the verses to a little tune and perhaps that may help some of you remember (And me!). Eventually the tune sort of fades away and you just have it memorized.
    Here is an example (I think it is King James but could be easily changed to ESV or 1984 NIV): http://youtu.be/zKhRBp4CWSk

    1. Jill,
      Now I’m challenged to find a way to put music to at least some of this.    Thankyou!!

    2. I, too, find it so much easier to memorize if it is set to music. I listened to her video and now her tune is running through my head. It is not very melodic but the rhythm and repetition are good for memorizing. I find it hard to create my own tune and sometimes use familiar tunes to help me memorize. If anyone has a suggestion of a familiar tune to use, I would appreciate it. Also, any other memory tips would be appreciated – tunes, memory cards, anything else? I know repetition, repetition, repetition. One thing else that I have tried in the past is typing it out again and again and again AND AGAIN. That helps.

    3. Cool, Jill!

  29. 2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving.

    I have two things 🙂

    It was Zach’s first Thanksgiving at home (he has been in the Air Force) in 7 years! I was grateful for his safe return, he was in Belgium, where there has been a lot of ISIS activity.
    He was kind and helpful to me in ways that would not have occurred to him when he was the fresh out of high school boy who left us, that was really nice.
    Bill went to pick up Brian on Thanksgiving day and was involved in a car accident. He was rear ended by a car that had been rear ended by another car. The person who caused the crash had been texting. I was  abundantly grateful that the crash was minor, that no life changing tragedy came to our house on this Thanksgiving day.

    I had such suffering in my guests. My son is getting fired, my brother in law having his first Thanksgiving without my sister, my niece whose husband has mental illness and has left her and their two children, I tried the meaningful questions with hope, but no one there is accustomed to such deep conversation, it was far from what I hoped for. 

    You can set the stage for wonderful family get togethers, but I have decided over the years it is wonderful sometimes and sometimes it is not, I can’t make it so. 

    1. Oh Chris.   Your post so gripped my heart, I am breaking my own rule (about limiting my typing due to carpal tunnel pain) and responding.   To have those among you with such hurt;  Just being together.  Just sitting with one another.   That speaks far more than words when there is so much pain.  Take heart.  Your hosting and your presence made a difference.  

    2. Chris–I love what Wanda shared with you just now– “Just being together.  Just sitting with one another.   That speaks far more than words when there is so much pain”. I can’t imagine many people other than YOU that I would want to be with when I am most hurting. I know it was heavy on you–but you know grief in all it’s shades, and to be near you, brings the comfort of Christ. I know this to be true of you and really mean that. 

    3. Dear Chris…..I just had to add my amen to the words of encouragement that both Wanda and Lizzy shared with you.  You opened your door, your table and your heart to those dear to you who are suffering…….Jesus was present there.  

    4. Chris, I have to think that the Lord gathered those at your table who needed to be there…I agree with others, just being there together, having a place to belong, brings comfort.

  30. 4.  Begin memorizing….meditating…..
    I think I might be “stuck” on question #4 for much of this week!!  Wow.  I went back to the beginning in Genesis and was moved anew by the power of the WORD – God created (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all were there, participating) by speaking.  Time and time again in Genesis we read “And God said….”.  
    Everything that we know and experience in this life flows from that true truth of Creation!!  I began thinking about the group of sisters here…..Wanda – your passionate love for all things blooming!! Your amazing photographs that go from your own yard to the roadtrips that you take and on and on.  Nanci – I’ve always been tickled to read of your kayaking exploits in the great Wisconsin outdoors!  In the company of good friends and/or your husband.  Susan – you have moved me so deeply by your eloquent expressions of your autumn hikes this year…..sometimes in the company of your dear mother or your daughter….just drinking in the glories of creation.  And Nila.   Your spectacular photos of the west…..sunrises and sunsets and mountains and “big sky country”……oh yes.  Lizzy – your delightful tales of life with an energetic pup!!  🙂  Laura – your bursting heart as you hold and nurture that beautiful new grandson…….       ALL of this and so much, much more spoken into being by Immanuel, God with us.  
    And yet….Immanuel had to learn to learn to speak.  He burped and drooled and babbled.  And stunningly, the One who spoke Creation into being…..was SILENT for the most part through his wretched trial and crucifixion.  Isaiah 53:7 foretold this :  “he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”  All four gospels concur on this curious silence – what one author described as “the matrix of the curious silence…”.  Out of a probable 6 hours on the cross, Jesus spoke for perhaps 1 minute total.  41 words in the Greek N.T.  WHAT a Savior!!!

  31. 7. As you meditate on John 1:1-2, make ten observations.
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 
    Lots of questions as well as thoughts. I don’t usually give wordy answers, but in the spirit of Dee’s 10 observations here goes. …  I have enjoyed digging and even if I remember just a bit of this as I ponder and memorize and recite, it will add such depth. And there is so much deeper that I could go. 
    1. IN THE BEGINNING – These are the first words in the Old Testament. We are meant to recognize this and ponder creation here. This is also the Hebrew title for the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis. “In the beginning” is mentioned twice in quick succession. It must be very important as repetition always means emphasis for a reason. Not sure I really understand fully why.
    2. “IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD” – What does this mean? Word is Logos in the Greek. In the Bible they sometimes used the word “WORD” differently than we do. We mean “a unit of language”. The Jews associated “word” with “wisdom”, and with the activity of God. Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” In Proverbs 8:22-31 wisdom is personified. “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work … when he marked the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight rejoicing before him always”. 
    It is important to note that WORD and DEED go together. Word is activity, action.
    3. WORD – According to Leon Morris, a non-Christian Greek or Hebrew might have understood Word to mean “some great rational principle running through the universe, or perhaps it was a poetical way of referring to God or one of God’s attributes … undefined greatness and majesty”.
    4. WITH– The Word was with God. The Word was with God at creation and before creation – in the beginning. As I ponder “with” I am so glad that he is WITH me; that in incarnation He became Immanuel [God with us]. Is he “with” me in the same way he was “with” God? Again I am sure I do not understand what this really means in its depth.
    5. THE WORD WAS GOD – Jesus is not just a son (small s) of God, a good example of a godly person. HE IS GOD.  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
    6. THE WORD WAS GOD (vs.!) and THE WORD BECAME FLESH (vs. 14) – John is making it completely clear here that God became human, took on flesh, physical life. This would have been shocking to his non-Christian readers. Flesh is from the Latin carnia. It means “enfleshment”. It is a strong, almost crude word. Again, Morris says “John uses the strong word flesh to make sure that his readers have no doubt about the reality of the humanness of Jesus.” Jesus was God and Jesus was man – crucial truths to understanding  John’s entire gospel.
    7. THE WORD WAS GOD – I can’t help but ponder what today’s Muslims think of Christianity. Jesus is a prophet but not God. In the book Nelson’s Illustrated Guide To Religions, James Beverley states, “The Qur’an treats Jesus with great respect, a prophet, a teacher, and a sign from God. It also states that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, performed miracles, and that his followers were called Muslims. The Qur’an points out that it is a serious error to think that Jesus is the Son of God or that God is a trinity of three Persons, as in the Christian tradition. For the Qur’an Jesus is an apostle, but no more than that.”
    8. HE WAS IN THE BEGINNING WITH GOD –The Word was with God at creation and before creation – in the beginning. That blows my mind, I can’t really comprehend it. The Word was not flesh then. He was God, yet somehow a separate person from God. He participated in every aspect of creation as we see in the next verses. Again there is that phrase “In the Beginning” which reminds us of Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    1. oh Diane! THIS is “copy and save”-level–thank you!! LOVE your rich wisdom, blessed by you

    2. Diane – I just was re-reading your entry here.  So many great thoughts I don’t know where to begin!  I loved your emphasis on Word and Deed needing to work together – the mercy ministry at our church  is called “Word and Deed”, so that was a special connect for me!  😉  I was especially stopped in my tracks by your explanation that the word for “flesh” is the Latin “carnia”, “a strong, almost crude word”.  Wow.  Jesus, the Christ simply shatters all of our staid, proper and religious thinking!!  And it lends another layer of depth to exactly what our Lord was willing to become for us.  Drawing in the Muslim faith and the Qur’an’s view of Jesus is heartbreaking and timely in our world.  Though it seems overwhelming to think on, I’m reminded of our final verse in our memory section for this week “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Hallelujah!!  Amen and amen!!  This is no “whistling in the dark”, this is TRUTH.  

    3. Diane, I too am grateful for your sharing your observations, research, and ponderings.  It is incredible all that can come from these two verses.  I too am taken with “with;” the repetition has to have significance.  “the Word was God” and “the Word became Flesh”… Jesus, Lord and man. I’m interested in learning more about the associations, definitions, etc. of “Word”…you’ve given me a start…:) thanks.

  32. 4. Begin memorizing, meditating…
    Here is my “going deeper” bit that Dee suggested….
    Since I already know the John 1 scripture (I need to brush up on the last few lines), I’m going to work on Hebrews 22 through 36. The reason is, as I was doing my chronological Bible study this past year I was reading Hebrews and it seemed to me to remind me of the John 1 passage.  I got this crazy idea to choreograph our dance with both Scriptures. So when you get to see the video that’s what the dance is; a little bit of John, a little bit of Hebrews, a little bit of John  a little bit of Hebrews.  It ended up being pretty cool. You guys should go read Hebrews and see what I mean…
    5. Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual,” the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.
    Well, I am having a hard time with this one even though I know it happens for me. However, this week I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed because of my home circumstances; my family can’t seem to do anything easily…life is always a bit like birthing a baby! So, I went to dance feeling throughly exhausted and needing help. Yesterday was the first day I actually thought, I can’t keep up anymore. I am going to crash and burn soon. Here’s what happened…..my dance partner usually runs the Tuesday class and she couldn’t be there. I was to run the class and didn’t have a clue what I was going to do! Only one other person showed up and we  started talking about Advent. She told me that she had just found an advent calendar that day. I told her that I was thinking we should dance some scripture from Advent, make up something on the fly. Then we started talking about music, and Mary’s song came up because that was part of the advent reading.  That lead us to the song by Amy Grant called Breath of Heaven.  We decided that we only had time to choreograph the chorus. Here are the words to the chorus, 
    Breath of heaven
    hold me together
    be forever near me
    breath of heaven.
    breath of heaven 
     Light up my darkness 
     Pour over me your Holiness 
     For you are holy. 
    I was overcome with emotion, because I felt like out of the scripture came this piece that he could help me get through everything I need to get through.  He spoke to me when I needed it badly! 
     Here’s the song if anyone cares to listen today. 
    I also have  something to be thankful for this week. A student yesterday said to me  something to the effect of, “I look so forward to coming to science class because there’s always something fun to do.  It really is the highlight of my day!”  I’m embarrassed to even mention this, but it really does make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside that I can actually reach some students.  I try really hard to make my class as interesting as it can be, not concerned that I win teacher of the year or anything like that, so this makes me feel really good. 

    1. Oh, Laura. Prayers going out for you right now for you to get some much needed rest! I am in tears as I read your dance class Tuesday. I love “Breath of Heaven” and it is such a blessing that God spoke to you and ministered to your exhausted spirit through it! 
      By the way, what chapter in Hebrews are your memorizing? You give the verses but not the chapter.

      1. oops, sorry! Chapter 8 in hebrews! I am SO tired ?

    2. What a lovely gift from the Lord, Laura…just for you, just at that moment.  He is such a lover of our souls, ever caring, ever faithful.  Glad that you experienced His peace.

  33. Please note, I have purposely not read recent comments prior to posting mine; I wanted to truly come to my own answers…I will be going back to read others’ answers during my lunch time today.  I look forward to others’ comments and observations.  Enjoy your Wednesday!
    6.  What do you think God’s purpose for advent is in your life? How does this differ from the world?
    God desires for my focus to be on Him…His love, His faithfulness, His presence.  As I focus on Him our relationship blossoms; we reach depths and He works to further transform my thoughts, heart, and soul.  The advent season is a time for me to realign my focus/view…Jesus came 2015 years ago to a sinful people in need of His saving grace…Jesus is coming again.  This reminds me of the Casting Crowns song, “While You Were Sleeping”…I’ll look for a link later to post; it is one my favorites.
    7. Ten observations of John 1:1-2.
    1) “In the beginning” are the same words beginning John and Genesis.
    2) “In the beginning” was the establishment of time.
    3) If the Word was “in the beginning” with God, the Word too is timeless, omnipresent, eternal.
    4) “the Word” refers to Jesus.
    5) Jesus/the Word was with God…separate entities
    6) Jesus/the Word was God…one being
    7) Separate entities yet one being at the same time speaks to the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
    8) with God is repeated…”the Word was with God” … “He was in the beginning with God.”
    9) relationship…Jesus/the Word and God together in relationship
    10) “He” speaks to the Word’s gender being male.
    8. Compare John 1:1-5 and Genesis 1:1-3.
    A. What similarities do you see?
    –both begin with identical words, “in the beginning”
    –both speak to the establishment of time and God’s omnipresence.
    –both speak of creation…Genesis speaks of God creating and John tells us that all things were created through Jesus.
    –both speak of light…in Genesis God says let there be light and John tells us that Jesus is life and that His life was the “light” of man.
    –light overcomes darkness in both texts…in Genesis, God said “let there be light” and there was light and darkness was no more.  John tells us that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
    B. When you consider Genesis what might one reason Jesus is called “the Word”?
    The Lord spoke creation into being…spoke = the Word.
    C. How do you see the mystery of the Trinity in these passages?
    Genesis speaks of God creating with the Holy Spirit being present, “hovering over the surface of the waters.”  John tells us that all was created through Jesus, and that Jesus was with and was God. 

    1. Here is a link to Casting Crowns, While You Were Sleeping https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jddK0JlhLjg

      1. Whoa! That is a really powerful song, Nanci J. The last verse caught me by surprise!

  34. Keep memorizing — share any new insights. Soon we’ll ask you to write out what you have done.
    I’m having so much fun digging that I will continue to share here. (Lizzy, your words of encouragement “made me do it”. LOL!)
    Vs. 3 “ALL THINGS WERE MADE THROUGH HIM” – I have had a problem remembering the word “through” in this passage. I tend to want to say “BY”, as in “all things were made by him”. But if I remember that Jesus is the “Word”, God’s speech, it is easier to remember. My paraphrase to help me remember, “All things were made through him [God’s speech, His Word]”. God the Father carried out his creative works through the activity of the Son. (1 Cor. 8:6 “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”). 
    Vs. 4 “IN HIM WAS LIFE AND THAT LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN” – The references to life, light and darkness in vs. 4 & 5 draw on Genesis motifs. Jesus as the “light” brings the VERY PRESENCE OF GOD into this dark world. And we know there is LOTS of darkness in this world. So sad! I am so glad Jesus is the Light! Lord, how we need your Light. I love what Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the RADIANCE of the GLORY of God”. I almost have to squint my eyes shut because His light is so piercing in His Word (both Jesus and the Scripture).

  35. Just had to share this song by Michael Card about the Word. It is called THE FINAL WORD

  36. 1.   Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual,” the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.
    Whenever I am beset with anxiety or worries, the Lord brings to mind Philippians 4:8. It is amazing how my situation or somebody else’s close to me or who I am praying for takes on a God perspective. This verse has been a life-line for me and I am thankful to God for His Word. “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, excellent, admirable or praiseworthy-think on these things.” Case in point-when I start feeling sorry for myself, ME: Who am I? God: You are my daughter, by virtue of your acceptance of my Son. Not of anything lest you should boast (truth). And boy, doesn’t that just jolt me away from my self-pity party? God of the universe is my Daddy! Yeah-truth, Bing, only the truth!
    1.   What do you think God’s purpose for Advent is in your life? How is this different than the world?
    To behold His glory and rekindle my awe for Christ. Reading Paul Tripp’s book AWE and he makes me weep by revealing my self-preoccupation.  The world wants me to just be ME-focus. 

  37. Extra! Extra! Extra!  OK, so I am really an idiot! When I referred to the verse from Hebrews that we choreographed, duh…..it’s really Proverbs 8:22 – 36. I’m sorry ?

  38. 5. Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual”, the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.
    Not too long ago I had a conversation with someone in my family who isn’t a believer, and she began to talk about how she hopes that physician assisted suicide will be made legal in our state. Her arguments were convincing, according to the world’s way of thinking – why shouldn’t an individual have the right to determine how he or she wishes to die? Why shouldn’t he or she have the option to die with dignity, to not die a horrible death or have prolonged suffering? Then she asked, “Do you want to see your mom end up staring into space, not knowing who she is or who you are?” I got off the phone feeling very out-of-sorts. Then, many verses from Scripture came to my mind. I thought about passages in the psalms that say that God knows us from the womb, and that He determines the number of our days before we even have one. I thought about how Peter said that we have been bought with a price – the blood of Christ – and therefore, we are NOT our own. I thought about how when Jesus was intimating to Peter the kind of death he would die, and Peter turned and looked at John and said, in essence, “What about him?” And Jesus said, in essence, “What’s that to you? You follow Me.” I thought of a message I heard from Chip Ingram that says that love follows Jesus, even when trials come, when cancer comes, when Alzheimer’s comes. You follow. Paul told us that our troubles here are but light and momentary compared to what is in store for us in eternity. All of these things helped me stay focused on the truth.

    1. Susan – your conversational content with your relative fascinated me.   But what I love most of all about your entry here….you got off the phone and began meditating on SCRIPTURE, the true TRUTH.  The Word of God recalibrates our hearts and minds so powerfully that the unseen becomes more real to us than the seen! I also could not help but think about Joni Eareckson Tada – and the thousands of those she represents so very publicly.  I shudder to think that, had her accident occurred in 2015 rather than in 1967, her initial intense desire for suicide might well have ended up a court case with an order to allow it ( depending on the state I guess….she happened to be here in my state of Maryland….).  Who can imagine such a thing??  And to think that Joni is only the public face of so MANY that we will one day be celebrating in heaven together!!  What I love so much about your words here Susan….you got off the phone rattled…..and then the Scriptures bathed your mind and heart and brought hope and peace.  Good News is the Gospel!!  

      1. Yes, Jackie, Joni is an inspiration to us all, disabled or not. I remember her saying that after she had wanted so badly to die, she prayed to the Lord and said, “If I can’t die, then You have to teach me how to live.” I had the privilege once of hearing her speak in person.

    2. Susan, what a heavy load to carry to think of your mom’s decline into Alzheimers! Assisted suicide is a tough question! I watched my mom dying with cancer and it was tough, but God walked with us and I view caring for her in her home as such a gift to me. It is one of those times when God held me closely in his arms and I was carried along day by day. My mother did not have Alzheimer’s though. You did well to get off the phone and turn to the Lord. See how he blessed you with so many verses to speak peace to you! 

    3. Oh Susan! How touching that you reminded me of how He loves us. Thank you!

  39. 9. John 20:31…why does John begin his gospel differently than Matthew and Luke?
    John wants the reader to have a foundation of belief that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  With this foundation of belief in Jesus, life is provided by the power of His name.
    11. Find nine things about God from John 1:1-5.
    1) God is omnipresent, outside of time, eternal, no beginning and no end, infinite.
    2) God established time at creation…”in the beginning”
    3) God is one, made up of three different persons…the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
    4) God the Son created all.
    5) God the Son gives life…physical life in the sense of breath, heartbeat, etc. (spiritual/eternal life in His coming to save us).
    6) God the Son is victor…He has conquered evil, sin, and death…He has overcome the darkness.
    12. How does v. 5 give hope in these perilous times?
    I love verse 5…it gives great hope.  Verse 5 tells me that no matter the circumstances, appearances, etc. (i.e., no matter how bad things are or look), Jesus claims victory over evil, sin, death…He is victorious over all the darkness of this world.  Jesus has the final word, He is victorious over the darkness of this world in terms of evil, sin, death, etc. once and for all.
    13. Compare John 1:1-5 and Hebrews 1:1-4.
    –both state that Jesus created all.
    –both acknowledge Jesus as a separate person, yet one with God.
    –both speak to Jesus’ victory over sin.

  40. 1. What stood out to you and why? …”His presence during my memory time…” So true. I memorized many verse in our Psalms study but life has gotten busy and I haven’t reviewed or added any new in a long while and while I miss the memorizing what I really miss is His presence in the Word being in me…not only while memorizing but when those words would come back to  me during the day. It’s like giving the Holy Spirit more doors and windows to my heart to speak and call to me. I am happy to begin again…so needed.
    Are you with us in this? Yes! ? (Trying an emoji like Laura to see if it works….)
    2. Share one thing for which you were thankful this Thanksgiving. We had several single soldiers come to our home and we did the ‘thankful for something you couldn’t be thankful for last year’ question and each one responded with something! My hubs aunt also came for the holiday (and is still here). I have never really spent time with her (and really have only seen her 3 times in 15 years of marriage). But she is a believer and we have had some wonderful conversations and having someone around has given me pause to reflect on life….

  41. 5. Share a time recently when God’s Instruction Manual the Word, brought sense or direction to your life. My husband and I have been doing Paul Tripp’s What Did You Expect marriage Bible study and Mr. Tripp comes back again and again to a few verses that the Holy Spirit has used to show me my selfishness and to encourage me in true love, not self-seeking manipulation to find favor in order to get what I want.
    6. What do you think God’s purpose for advent is in your life? How does this differ from the world? In a sense they are the same – to prepare and to anticipate. However the world usually/mostly prepares materially while God calls us to prepare our hearts. The world usually/mostly anticipates the material or the experience and anticipates it being all that they want it to be while agod calls me to grateful receive whatever is given. To anticipate His hand in the events and His Spirit being present rather than looking for what “should be” or anticipating what I want.

  42. ok, so this isn’t exactly my “style” of music and may not help memorize..but it is all of John 1:1-12, NIV (84) exact…it at least makes me smile 🙂 

    ..it’s actually kind of growing on me, you have to give it a few tries

  43. BTW, now we can “like” something with our ? Emoji!!!
    6. What do you think God’s purpose for Advent is in your life? How is this different than the world?
    I think God wants me to draw closer to Him. The world wants us to buy stuff and exchange gifts with one another.
    7. It’s funny that Dee selected the swirly light image for the first image of this week….when I choreographed the scripture I asked the ladies to move in a circle with swirly motions as if the beginning of the universe (galaxies can be swirly things of course!)
    In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was, in the beginning with God.
    ……it was in the very beginning of time. The Word refers to Jesus, because it’s capitalized (that’s how we know). He was ALWAYS there with God! He, the Word was God Himself. So it is concluded that God came to earth in the form of Jesus. If He was there in the beginning, then He was present when earth and sky were formed. He saw the first creatures, landforms and oceans, was with Adam and Eve in the garden and witnessed the fall and consequences.

    1. ? ?

  44. 5. Share a time recently when God’s “Instruction Manual,” the Word, brought sense or direction to your life.
    We were studying Psalm 91 in Sunday School last week, about reconciling the promises with reality. “1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
    2I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
    3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
    4He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
    5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
    6nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” I have in the past done battle with the seeming contradiction of promise vs reality. It helped me to revisit the struggle.  I realized afresh that no one who isn’t in a storm or a battle seeks a refuge or a fortress. One must have a season of striving to know the peace that comes when the striving ceases. The sovereignty of God over all the bad, no matter how bad it is, allows me to be still, and small, and trust Him, this will all be over one day soon.