Closeness with our Lord = Quiet Time + His Word + Self-Examination + fervent Prayer.
Let us explore the daily process for the Bible Reading Journal today. It typically takes me approximately 30 minutes to read a chapter a day and journal. It may seem a long time but our time with the Lord is priceless and memorable!
Once we read the chapter, we highlight and inscribe a selected verse or two in different translations. When I inscribe His Word, I am able to memorize it a lot easier. I then journal ‘how’ I am going to step out in obedience in practical ways.
Later I examine my heart daily so I may repent and forgive, count my blessings and maintain a prayerful lifestyle.
Cross-References allow me to dig deeper into God’s Word and Commentaries enrich my “journaling” experience.
“…but God was working in every detail. He was providing, humbling, sanctifying, forgiving, and drawing their hearts to His in the most necessary and beautiful ways.“ Whitney from Love God Greatly Ministries.
“When I read my journals, I see God’s fingerprints all over. Journals are my stones of remembrance (Joshua 4:23-24)“ Adriana Morales-Spokane.
Join our FB Community for women at “The Bible Reading Journal Series”
Next Video Clip: The Bible Reading Journal Series: Verse Color Coding.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” Ephesians 4:31 NLT
“But now you also put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” Colossians 3:8, 19 NASB
“that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,” Ephesians 4:22 NASB
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,” 1 Peter 2:1 NASB
“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” Joshua 4:6-7, 23-24 NASB
Journaling is a way to reflect on God’s Faithfulness.
All of my journals are priceless keepsakes and much more like memorial stones that last forever.
I get to look back to where I was and see how God has transformed my life over the course of time.
He is good all the time.
His Word renews my mind every day, strengthens my heart in moments of distress and has transformed my life over the past decade alone!
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV
As a child, I spent countless hours at our family’s country house, ‘La Morita’. We would travel there every weekend with relatives and friends. The adults would play cards, dominoes or bingo in the evenings after a tasty home-made meal. All of the children would laugh often when sharing stories at the hammocks zone, play Marco Polo at the pool, ride horses in town or hike the mountains at sunrise.
I certainly miss ‘La Morita’. Those memorable times were filled with joy. I don’t remember experiencing any sadness then. Our families were united, loved one another, and were energized by fellowship, outdoor activities and mesmerized by the beauty of nature.
As I grew older, I soon realized life was not ‘picture perfect’. There are moments filled with contentment and other times filled with great distress, anger, emotional pain, grief and/or sorrow.
God promised to be right there with us thru it all – the fun, the boring, the best, the ugly and the worst times.
The Lord is our Refuge. He will never leave us nor forsake us. That is His promise.
When dad passed away, mom relocated back to our home country in South America. Since then, I have only seen her once. We don’t get to walk at the local park nor shop at ‘Sawgrass Mills’ Shopping Center anymore. It has been over two years since I last had a meal with mom at the table. I miss her voice, enthusiasm and most importantly her presence. I wish I could sit with you right now and share the details of my next trip to Florida. The truth is I may never be able to visit mom again and this is a reality I have recently come to terms with. I am in a season of loss, grief and sorrow indeed. It is time to weep, mourn and embrace the loss of mom’s current living situation, geographical distance and deteriorating health conditions.
Are you grieving at this moment, my friend? Are you reminiscing on ‘how’ your past circumstances are quite different than todays? Perhaps, you are facing an ‘unexpected’ loss and you are quite overwhelmed with the intensity and impact of the sudden challenge.
Do not be dismayed or broken-hearted, my friend.
We are in a season of grief but His mercies are new every morning. Today is filled with opportunities for us to briefly reminisce about the past then spend the rest of the time counting our blessings. We have been blessed for all the countless memories and unforgettable moments with our loved ones. They have left their ‘forever’ fingerprints on our minds, hearts and souls. My heart rejoices every time I think of mom.
Let us not dwell on the emotional distress or pain of our recent past. Let us acknowledge our loss, lament and journal our painful thoughts until we are comforted by His promises. Our Lord listens to our melancholic cries and painful thoughts and He comforts our shattered hearts over time.
We will dance once again as soon as our hearts are healed and restored.
Lord, there are so many seasons in our lives and some are difficult to process and get thru. I know we may be in the midst of a tough season. As we lament our losses, we know you are comforting us with your faithfulness, morning mercies and compassion … You hear all of our cries and wipe our tears away. You heal our brokenness and bind our deep wounds. You are our only Hope and Refuge. Turn the gaze of our hearts towards the beauty of all of your promises and fill our hearts with never-ending Hope.
Lord, I’m willing to embrace the new season in life. Spring is here! Flowers are blooming. I want to rejoice once again. Jesus, hold my hand and come with me and waltz together at the dance floor.
In Jesus’ name we boldly pray, Amen.
“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,” Psalm 10:17 NIV
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NIV
“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9 NIV
“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4 NIV
When reading the book of Hosea in preparation for an online Bible study, I was so overwhelmed that I did not finish the rest of the book that night. I immediately shut the Bible and sat in my recliner silently for a few minutes.
I was in shock the way the Holy Spirit convicted me.
The prophet, Hosea, was encouraged to marry Gomer, a prostitute. Gomer was promiscuous yet Hosea faithfully loved his beloved wife. I was blown away by Hosea’s steadfast love.
Hosea 5: 4 highlighted the importance of acknowledging God in everyday pursuits. I was appalled when I was convicted of my sinful nature; ” … a spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.” My initial thoughts were, “Me? not possible!” yet I felt repugnant. When I envisioned myself having ‘a spirit of an harlotry’, I was ashamed for grieving the Holy Spirit then.
In the book of Hosea, the ‘spirit of prostitution’ addressed Israel as a nation who had been unfaithful to the Lord, and disregarded His commands. The nation was corrupted and rebellious. Israel maintained a ‘spirit of prostitution’ when the people did not acknowledge the Lord.
A couple of years ago, the Holy Spirit had convicted me of excessive retail shopping. As much as I have been mindful of frivolous spending in the recent past, I continue to overindulge myself. I always find the best excuses such as, “I truly need this new tote for the upcoming trip.” In my most recent retail experience, I even messaged the retailer and encouraged her to ship the personalized item no later than the 10th of this month. I was precise and persuasive. I was a woman on a ‘lifestyle’ mission.
Have you ever been in pursuit of joy? Have you ever been in pursuit of satisfaction? I find both satisfaction and joy in retail therapy. Do you have a personal habit that you wish to break but have not been able to do so as of yet?
I realized how much I had grieved the Holy Spirit that afternoon. I had monogrammed another handbag for an upcoming trip. If you and I were having a late afternoon coffee break, I would have shared with you how much I love to shop. I spend time on the internet searching for beautiful totes. I am quite obsessed with totes, I admit. When I shop, I forget about the reckless, spending habit and my unwillingness to change my desires. It sure is an ongoing struggle!
Every time I choose retail therapy, my soul is not fulfilled and it will never be. Nothing on this earth will fulfill my deepest longings. When I fail to pray, I am not relying on His comfort or rest. When I neglect His Word and do not step out in obedience, I am being rebellious. When I do not acknowledge His presence in today’s plan, I am being self-reliant and prideful. The book of Hosea convicted me of having a ‘spirit of a prostitution’ when I obsess over anything else for either joy, satisfaction or relief and disregard the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
Lord, please forgive me for not acknowledging your ways or stepping out in obedience.
The Lord will remain faithful in the midst of our sinful acts.
He wants for all of us to repent, change our careless ways and acknowledge His presence in all we do. “…Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:2-3 NIV)
Lord, please forgive me if I get so distracted by frivolous spending that it drives me away from your presence. I know I can be rebellious, disobedient, prideful or unwilling to change my selfish ways. I can be quite stubborn too.
Help me. Forgive me. Love me. Do not give up on me. You are a God of second chances.
I dislike having the ‘spirit of a prostitute’ but every time I pursue pleasure instead of God’s ways, I am exchanging His eternal perspectives for temporary ones. I am exchanging a Holy Beautiful lifestyle for a lustful lifestyle that may lead me astray.
Lord, I want to renew my mind and change my actions so I may pursue a Holy Beautiful Lifestyle always. I pray I acknowledge you in everything I do, be prayerful and press on.
Jesus answered, “It is written: worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” (Luke 4: 8 NIV)
God is steadfast and His reckless love is bountiful.
Psalm 51: 1-12 (NIV)
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
When life gets hectic, I have a choice whether to take the next step or honor a break. I can either slow down and pace myself or continue to hustle ‘non-stop’ all day long.
The Lord wants me to spend time with Him throughout the day, every day. I will bear fruit in everything I do when I rely on His wisdom and strength.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NASB
When I don’t rely on the Lord for His rest and wisdom, I am typically frustrated, exhausted or even ill at the end of the day. Has your energy ever been depleted at the end of the week? I literally crashed this past weekend. I was emotionally and physically spent. I felt overwhelmed, overly anxious, empty and had a headache for a couple of days. When I neglect the Lord, I typically rush thru my morning readings and fail to take short breaks throughout the day. I do not take time to pray when facing adversity.
This is a typical response of my self-reliant tendencies or should I say pride? I may be in such a rush that I can barely whisper at Him and say, “I’ve got this, Lord, I don’t need your help right now. Take a break and allow me to take the lead.” Who am I kidding? This attitude will not help me get too far ahead. I will not bear much fruit.
Our bodies react to life stressors when working under these conditions for a prolonged period of time without much rest. Cumulative stress has an adverse impact on our lives without a doubt. It affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually over time.
Let us be mindful of our time with the Lord so we may bear much fruit at the end of the workday and be able to manage stressors in a healthy manner.
I cannot accomplish much without Him. Even if it is an on-going struggle, I can never overlook this issue ever again.
Help me, Lord, to be wise with my schedule at work. I want to maintain a reasonable life balance so I may care for my mental, physical and spiritual well-being throughout the day. I need rest and frequent breaks to stop and meditate on your precious Word. I want to relax at the end of each day, dig deep in your Word, maintain good nutrition and sleep hygiene so I may not be burned out by the end of the week.
In Jesus’ name, I boldly pray.
“LORD, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.” Jeremiah 17:13 NIV
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17 NIV
“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”John 4:10 NIV
And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the
waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling
up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke
Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And
He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be
still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no
faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one
another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Now when
evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,and
after getting into a boat, they started to cross the
sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come
to them. The sea began to be stirred up because a strong
wind was blowing.Then, when they had rowed about three or
four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and
they were frightened. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Mark 4: 37-41 (NASB)
In the midst of a storm
or should I say a tsunami, do not forget to look up to Jesus first.
God challenged and refined
me for almost four years although he did not give me more than I could handle
at the time.
Have you ever been choked or paralyzed by a life
storm? Have you ever experienced unbelief? I sure did yet cried out boldly and
loudly, ‘help me with my unbelief, Lord’ periodically. Some of you may be going
thru some challenges today… If you are going thru a storm, how would you
label your storm?
I labeled mine, “The Pit of Darkness.” The Lord was ahead of me working out every detail of my dire circumstances.
“Lord, You light my
lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28 HCSB) Let us never forget He
is our Light in our journey.
A few months after my dad had passed away, I was
promoted to a regional leadership platform. Today, I oversee the quality of
clinical services for close to 1,300 children and adolescents. During this time
of grief and sorrow, I was asked to make daily Clinical decisions on behalf of
these needy children. While I successfully provided adequate coverage, I was
also intertwined with family affairs and daily decision-making processes on
behalf of my dad’s Estate.
My “pit of darkness” was steep and
intense. I will explain next.
I was out of breath at times and my health was compromised on several occasions. My life circumstances definitely got grotesque before the circumstances got any better. I know our Lord will train us for today’s battlefield. His Truth reminds me, “He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:32 HCSB) The Lord will fight on our behalf, we just need to be still, be quiet, listen and follow His lead (Exodus 14:14).
“Every time my eyes were not on Jesus, I was horrified even paralyzed when facing these stressors,” I thank the Lord for having a supportive husband who challenged me to take the next step in the midst of confusion, chaos, loss, and persecution from those who resisted change. Most importantly, I have a great God who clothed me with inner strength and filled my heart with hope (Psalm 18:39). He makes my way perfect (Psalm 18:32).
“The Lord is My Banner” (Exodus 17:15).
I was overwhelmed and frazzled at the beginning of my leadership role, I experienced a panic attack on one of my business trips. At the end of the first year, I literally experienced heart-attack symptoms such as discomfort in my arm, pain in my chest and shortness of breath. In my second year, I experienced severe vertigo signs. In one occasion, the medical doctor ruled out a brain tumor with an MRI!
I thank God for ‘good health’ today!
The season of grief and sorrow, a fast-paced demanding work environment and family distress contributed to the pit of darkness. Slowly but surely, I began to read His Word daily and started to journal as I dealt with these life stressors.
I knew I had to handle
these life stressors God’s way! It is the only way, my friend.
Once I was convicted, I prayed for His strength, mercies, and inner peace. I begged the Lord to show me ‘how’ and to give me the strength to persevere thru it all.
Three years later, I changed the cultural climate at work, implemented new systems and mobilized community resources for the least restrictive placements, and held strategic, monthly conference calls with the former Commissioner.
At this time, my eyes
are on Jesus and no longer on my circumstances. In Christ, there is victory
without a doubt!
Out of the pit of
darkness, the Bible Reading Journal Series was birthed.
There will be seven
volumes addressing the core spiritual disciplines that involve life
application, confession, repentance, forgiveness, thanksgiving, and prayer. In
the midst of the storm, let us not forget to look up to Jesus, not our circumstances
In my darkest moments, I
felt hatred, unforgiveness, resentment, loneliness, isolation, and depression.
These negative emotions took root in my heart temporarily. When I was convicted
of the darkness in my life, I knew I had to look up to Jesus immediately for His
help, guidance, inner peace and most importantly a new heart!
He was forgiving,
compassionate and faithful.
As soon as I would
inscribe His Word, apply the lesson learned that morning, and submit my prayer
requests, I was able to focus on the next task, experience less distress and
endure the hardships at work.
His grace and faithfulness carried me one day at
And, when I submit all of my prayer requests at sunrise, my heart and mind are in peace and I am much better prepared for today’s battlefield and the unexpected events.
Today, I not only inscribe those Scriptures that speak to me when I’m reading the Bible, but I read these verses in different translations, apply them to my life, and step out in obedience.
As I go thru any of my journals, I have an opportunity to confess to God any sin(s) whether it is unbelief, anger or unforgiveness. I also ask the Lord to help me forgive those who have hurt me throughout the day.
Counting my blessings fills my heart with gratitude.
When I surrender and write out my prayers and praying for others, our Lord comforts me every morning.
I am boldly praising Jesus today! “Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted;
He has thrown the horse and its rider into the sea.” (Exodus 15: 21)
In Christ, there is victory so look up in the midst of a life storm. Do not fix your eyes on the circumstances, my friend.
Join the FB Bible Reading Journal Community today!
Bible Reading Journal: Growing Closer to God One Day at a Time.
Bible Reading Journal Series 2019
Volume 1 & 2 & 3 (Available Now on Amazon)
The Bible Reading Journal: Growing Closer to God One Day at a Time.