Door of Hope

hope my one word

Hosea 2:14 -15

“I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her, there I will give her vineyards and make the valley of Achor a door of hope”

My study on My One Word – HOPE, has started with this interesting and bizarre passage in Hosea. But, you know,  once I dug into the meanings of the words – wow! I realised that over the past year I have been through the “valley of Achor” and it is turning out to be the “door of hope”.

Why would God bring someone into the wilderness?

What is so special about the wilderness?

It seems to be a recurring theme throughout scripture – Moses meet God in the wilderness via a burning bush and the Israelites met with God during their journey through the wilderness.

bamidbar

Wilderness: midbar in Hebrew

Root word is d’var which means “to arrange” and “to speak”. Speaking is arranging words into order.

The wilderness is a place of order, a sanctuary.

God speaks to his people in the wilderness or in times of hardship and suffering. Even in the Hebrew language He has shown that wilderness is where He speaks! Absolutely amazing!

In order to understand the door of hope we need to find out what the Valley of Achor is.

Achor: trouble

We can read about the valley of Achor in Joshua chapter 7 – where the Israelites and Joshua were facing seom major trouble. They had just been defeated by the small city of Ai – which seemed ludicous since they had a major victory over Jericho.

Why? the reason? one person had disobeyed God. Achan (whose name means troubler) had kept something that was supposed to have been destroyed. Achan and his family were stoned, burned and a pile of stones laid over them. Since then it has been called the Valley of Achor or the Valley of Trouble.

In Hosea, God says that he has made this valley of trouble for the Israelites into a door of hope. One scholar states that this valley was the entrance into the promised land. The same valley that saw trouble became a doorway into everything good.

2013 was our valley of trouble – with loss of business, loss of home, health issues, car accident – but I knew that God had a plan and a purpose for what we were going through.

jeremiah-29-11-whiteGod can transform any valley of trouble into a door of hope.

Door: par-thak means to open wide, to loosen, begin, plough, carve. It refers to an opening and entrance rather than a door.

Vineyards – are very interesting. It conjures up for me the idea of a ready planted stream of income, doesn’t it? It seems like a God thing because who would have thought that a vineyard could prosper in a wilderness area? except by the grace of God.

Never give up hope in God and in your circumstances changing. He is in the transforming business – trouble is the material He uses to make opportunities for you to walk into.

Share your stories below – been in a valley of trouble and come out the other end with amazing opportunities?

 

Bible Expo 2014 – next week!

I must tell you all about the Bible Expo 2014 that my friend, Marnie Swedberg hosts.

Bible Expo 2014

Here are the details for the Bible Expo 2014:

Thursday 17th April 1-4pm CST time

It’s a free online chance to meet a range of differnet Christian authors. It is a great opportunity to discover new Bible Study books that you can do on your own or with a group.

Here is sample list of who Marnie will be interviewing:

  • Lisa Bevere – “Girls with Swords”
  • Dr Jackie Roese – “Inhabit: A Study on the Holy Spirit”
  • Kathey Howard – “God is My Refuge”
  • Jenifer Jernigan – ” Dive Depper – Finding Deep Faith Beyong Shallow Religion”
  • Gail Dudley – ” Who Told You That? The Truth About the Lies”
  • Rhonda Stoppe – “Moms Raising Sons to be Men”
  • and much more!

Go over to Marnies site – www.biblestudyexpo.com to find out more. Register over there to win free books!

See you there!

 

 

 

Help! How Do I Teach the Bible at Home?

You are reading The God Connection online.

Where I answer the following questions -

  • Do you wish your children had the same faith in God that you do?
  • How do you inspire your kids to read God’s word?
  • How do you motivate your children to love God with everything they’ve got?

The God Connection: How to Inspire your Children Towards God – has practical help for parents wanting their children to have a vibrant authentic relationship with God.

It gives you 7 reasons why it is so important that kids connect with God.

You will find 24 practical ways to inspire your kids to connect with God, their creator.

This is the last entry to the book – click here to go to The God Connection online to read from the beginning.

Help? Where Do I Start?

Help! How Do I Teach the Bible at Home?

How do I start to connect my children to God?

Don’t be overwhelmed.

Just start somewhere.

  • Best place to start is with yourself – are you in the Word daily? – then share what God is speaking to you about.
  • Write out one of the verses that are special to you and display it – read it before you start your day. Try to initiate a conversation with your family about your chosen verse.
  •  Start with bible first – ask God in what sort of format to start with. He knows your kids and their abilities and ages and he will give you great creative ideas.
  •  It may be that you start with just reading through a picture bible book everyday like we did then do your maths and other parts of your day.
  •  Then move to doing projects based on the Word – like science and history. Look up the Bible references to your current topic and include verses for copywork.
  •  Look up what the bible says about the topic you are learning about and get your older child to research it and write a report on it.

The important thing to remember is just to start somewhere, trusting God to lead you into the right paths for your family.

Okay – your turn – what are you going to start with? leave a comment below:

 

 

5 Steps to Bible Word Studies

how to do a word study2

I love doing Bible word studies!

There is so much to gain when we fully understand what a certain word means in the Bible. Do your children know what these words mean? – grace, faith, trust, love, church, sin, peace…

Passages of the Bible come alive when we look deeper into the meaning of words. Especially when the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek – not English! We may think we know what a verse means but sometimes we have the English meaning of a word in our minds which is very limiting. But when we discover what the original text was saying and how the original reader/listener would have understood the author to mean – it brings a greater depth to our understanding.

So how do you do a word study?

Here are the steps that I use:

Step One: Dictionary Meanings

Pick a keyword that you want to study. Let’s pick the word “good” or in Hebrew it is tov. Find out what the English dictionary meaning is – write this down.

An excellent English dictionary is the Noah Websters 1828 American Dictionary. It is reported that this dictionary contains the greatest number of Biblical definitions given in any reference volume. Webster considered “education useless without the Bible”.

Noah Webster believed that the Bible and Christianity played important roles in the lives of a free people and its government.

“In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed…. No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people….”

I also like to look up the Hebrew/Greek meanings from lexicons – like Brown-Driver-Briggs or Davidson. It isn’t hard to do that now with Bible Software, most programs come with lexicons already installed.

From the dictionary and lexicons I gather a picture of what the word good or tov means.

  • It is something pleasing, beneficial or favourable.
  • It is also something functional – works like a well-oiled machine.
  • Something that is good is working or operating according to the purpose for which it was designed to exist.

Step Two: First Mention Principle

There are principles in studying the Bible one of them is the First Mention Principle. When a keyword is first mentioned in the Bible it carries with it a fundamental meaning.

This is the principle by which God indicates in the first mention of a subject, the truth with which that subject stands connected in the mind of God. J Edwin Hartwell “Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics”

Use Bible Software or a free online Bible Study Tools to find out where your keyword is first mentioned. I personally like to use The Word software or Blue Letter Bible online.

What was the author talking about when your keyword is first mentioned? Look at the context and the actual words.

What was the first mention of the word good or tov?

Genesis 1:4 “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness”

God described light as being good. It is better to walk in light than in darkness.

Step 3 Find Verses that mention your keyword

Locate verses that mention your keyword. I like to use the search option in my Bible Software that searches on the original Hebrew word. Then I know I am looking at the same word throughout the Bible. Different Bibles translate the original Hebrew/Greek word into various different English words.

For example – tov is translated in the KJV as beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair , favour, fine, glad, good, graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh, loving, merry, most, pleasant, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, be well favoured.

So if you search the KJV for the word “good” only you would miss all the other instances of the Hebrew word tov.

Step 4 Anaylse your findings

I like to analyse my findings visually. Taking my keyword of tov or good – I would make a list of all the things that the Bible mentions are good. Then there would be another list of how do we gain good or experience good? I carried out this study on the books of Psalms and Proverbs. It was a treasure trove of things that was good and how we experience good in our lives!

Here is my list of “What is Good?”

As mentioned in the Psalms. Of course I also list the references but for ease of reading I have omitted those from these lists.

1. God
2. having life and a long life
3. speaking right straight/just
4. God’s name
5. lovingkindness
6. drawing near to God
7. increase
8. giving thanks to God
9. God’s judgements
10. God’s mercy
11. God’s dealings with us
12. affliction, to be humbled.
13. people living in unity
14. God’s spirit

How to Gain and Experience Good? (As listed in the Psalms)

1. look to God – no good without Him
2. God sends blessings of goodness
3. God makes goodness follow us
4. choose God and His ways – dwell in ease
5. taste and see that God is good
6. choose/ seek God then you will lack no
good/beneficial thing
7. not choosing evil or an evil lifestyle (basically
life without God)
8. walking uprightly
9. God gives good things
10. choose God and His ways – gain good
understanding
11. work hard – it will go well with you
12. show favour and lend
13. Israel and those with a clean heart

Step 5 Application to my life

I try to never leave Bible Study without applying what I have learned to my life. From just looking into the word ‘good’ as it appears in the Psalms I discover a wealth of advice for my life.

  • It is good to lend to people.
  • It is good to work hard.
  • If I work hard it will go well for me.
  • It is good to seek God – because I will lack no beneficial thing.

Please leave a comment on your experiences with doing Bible word studies – I would love to hear from you.

You are reading “The God Connection” book online. Click here to see the Table of Contents.

My One Word for 2014

 

I have chosen My One Word for 2014 and I am really excited about it.

hope my one word

 If you haven’t heard of My One Word – I encourage you to check it out. I came across the book last year and it confirmed to me what I had been doing for quite a number of years. But I called it Themes. I like the idea of one word to focus on throughout the year.

My one word last year was Grace – boy did I learn a lot!. I thought I knew something about Grace , being a Christian for 40 years but I didn’t know anything really. I don’t think we will ever know the fullness of Grace in our lifetime – I am forever learning and it’s exciting!

At the beginning of the year I wrote down 10 things that I would love to see more of in my life this year and Hope was at the top of the list. I will probably share the others on my list during the year.

Why choose Hope ?

I discovered a couple of years ago that…

Bible Hope means confident expectation of good 

I have a tendancy not to expect good to happen and am very low on confidence so this defintion resonates with me and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I want to spend 2014 confidently expecting good to happen!

Do you want to join me? Click the subscribe button to receive my posts

Please comment on your thoughts on hope – or what is your One Word that you are focusing on this year – I would love to hear from you

 

 

What Shall We Teach Them? …12 Bible Truths to Teach to Your Children

12 Important Bible Truths To Teach Your Children

Bible 12 truths compressed

It is sad but in our modern churches, our children are growing up without a foundation of Biblical teaching. Yes, they have fun programs filled with games and visual effects but do they know what a born again Christian believes?

Don’t leave this to the Sunday School teachers.

I believe it is the parents job to teach the foundations of their faith to their children.

Here are some basic Biblical doctrines that our children need to know:

  1. The Bible – its authority and power. How did it come to be? Is it important?
  2. God – Who is He? What are His attributes?
  3. Jesus Christ – Who is He? What did He do?
  4. The Holy Spirit
  5. Man – what are we in relation to God?
  6. Sin – see my note below!
  7. Salvation & Righteousness– can our children explain what being saved means?
  8. Grace & Faith
  9. The Church
  10. What happens after we die? heaven and hell
  11. End Times – what are the different viewpoints?
  12. Practical applications – temptation, prayer, God’s will, giving and tithing, baptism, how to apply God’s Word to a problem, forgiveness etc

It is important that every Christian knows what they believe and where to find it in God’s Word.

Don’t just think that your children will “pick” this up because they live in a Christian home or go to church.

 

Now here’s my take on teaching about sin –

  • Read through Genesis and tell them how the human race became sinners.
  • Show your children – how Abraham became a friend of God because God reckoned him righteous because of his faith – BEFORE the law.
  • Read the exciting encounter that the Israelites had with God on Mt Sinai- the very first pentecost – God wanted to have a relationship with them but the people didn’t want to come near so God bought in the law – written on stone – the 10 commandments. Don’t dwell on these – its not the 10 commandments that brings a sinner to repentance but the kindness of God.  The law didn’t stop them sinning but in fact seemed in increase it – they immediately fashioned a golden calf and worshipped it rather than God – the result was the death of 3000 people.
  • But under GRACE (always teach Grace when speaking about sin) on Pentecost (same timing as Mt Sinai) – when the Holy Spirit entered into peoples lives – 3000 people were born again.
  • Don’t teach that a Christian is just a sinner saved by grace – no – when you become born again you are no longer a sinner – that status has gone. You are now dead to sin. What you have become is now Righteous. Just as we have done nothing to have sinner status when we were born – we do nothing to gain Righteous status – it is a gift from God through Jesus Christ – praise God!
  • When teaching about sin – major on the fact that before Christ the Israelites had to shred blood through sacrifices continually. But Christ became our lamb – a one time sacrifice – and its His blood that washes us continually. Once born again -ALL of your sins, mistakes, failures are washed clean by His blood – past, present and future. So tomorrows sins are already forgiven!!! There is now no condemnation – no need for hours of confession – God has already forgiven the sins that you will commit in the future. Its already washed away. The book of Romans discusses this in depth.

“Self Study Bible Course” by Derek Prince

This was an excellent course that the boys and I did a year or 2 ago. It laid out the different foundational doctrines of the Bible. I highly recommend it. You can buy the book or do it online for free – just click the link above.
You are reading “The God Connection” book online. Click here to see the Table of Contents.

What Bible Truths have you taught to your children? share through the comments – I would love to hear from you

Ideas on Learning the Books of the Bible

Learning the Books of the Bible Ideas

books-of-the-bible-2

It is important for your children to know the Names of the books of the Bible and where they appear. It certainly saves time if you know where to find a certain book of the Bible.

We don’t learn the names and order of Bible books to make us look important and clever but because it is extremely useful to be able to turn to them quickly.

Here’s a couple of ideas to make this fun!

  • Concentration Card Game -make two sets of cards with a book of the Bible on each card. There are some websites who sell these already made. Here’s one of them Bible Cards where you can download Bible cards for FREE!
  • Fridge Magnets: How many times does your children open the fridge door? Why not have the names of the Bible on magnets on your fridge! Just use the same cards that you made for the concentration card game and laminate them and adhere to magnets then encourage your children to put them in order on your fridge or magnetic white board.
  • Song:Try learning them through song! There are many songs that people have composed online – just google it.
  • Word searches: create word searches that challenge your children to locate the names of the books.
  • Steve Demme tells us how here


You are reading “The God Connection” book online. Click here to see the Table of Contents
 

Best Selling Book – Pilgrims Progress

Pilgrims progress

“Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan is a must-read in your homeschool!

This little book is jammed pack full of amazing allegory to the Christian life.

It has apparently been translated into more than 200 languages and has never been out of print.

It is a perfect way of connecting your children to God in story form.

Even the story of the author is fascinating. He wrote this book while imprisoned for his faith.

How could you use this resource?

  1. I read it aloud to my boys when they were young
  2. We had interesting discussions as we travelled with Christian on his journey
  3. We combined it with history – as we studied the life of John Bunyan
  4. It’s free to download and read on your device – here is 2 places where you can download it: Christian Classics Ethereal Library or Gutenberg
  5. You could even watch an animation of the book on youtube.
  6. There are a million and one lesson plans online – just google “pilgrims progress lesson plans”
  7. Delighting in His richness website has a ton of ideas – plus a lapbook on the book!

You are reading “The God Connection” book online. Click here to see the Table of Contents.

Stress Free Daily Devotions

Stress Free Daily Devotions

The only way a child grows physically is by eating good food daily.

The only way a person is to grow spiritually is to feed on God’s Word (The Bible) daily.

Feed the Word

Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 “It is written, Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”.

 Start by giving your children their own Bibles.

Then require that they bring their Bibles to your family devotion time – we did this first thing in the morning before we tackled maths.

Here’s some ideas on how to incorporate God’s Word with your children:

  1. Study a character of the Bible together – make sure that they turn to the part of the Bible that talks about that character.
  2. Using their own Bibles – go through a Precept Study together. Precept Studies encourages the marking of key words in the text. This is a great way to really learn and understand the Bible – it’s okay to mark your Bible.
  3. Or do something low key – just get together and open up their Bibles to the Psalms or Proverbs and give them time to pick a Psalm or Proverb that sticks out to them. Then share it by reading it aloud. My sons loved doing this. I usually asked probing questions about the text they chose to get them thinking.
  • What is God saying to us?
  • Is there something we learn about God?
  • Is there something that we learn about ourselves?

Then they would pick a verse and copy it into their copywork book.

Reading the Bible can be that simple.

Don’t over complicate it.

A little bit each day is enough to sow a seed into their hearts. It’s good to even take just one verse and ponder it over and over to gain everything that you can from it.

You can do it!

You are reading “The God Connection” book online. Click here to see the Table of Contents.

How to Make the Bible Come Alive

bible leaves aliveHow to Make the Bible Come Alive

Christian parents want their children to study and read the Bible. But most children regard the Bible as a boring book that their parents read. Or course it isn’t boring – I love to study it!. But how do we inspire our children to read the Bible? How do we make the Bible come alive to them? How do we make it something that they want to read and live by?

One key way is to understand that children love to discover stories about real life people. The Bible is full of interesting characters – How about we introduce these characters to our kids?

Every Bible character interacted with God sometime in their life – while our kids are reading about the character they will be discovering how God interacts with people throughout history.

It is good to emphasize again and again that the stories in the Bible are real – they really happened.

  • Jonah did get swallowed by a large fish for 3 days.
  • Noah really built a giant ship and told everyone that it was going to rain when the people had no idea what rain was.
  • David as a teenager did kill a giant warrior with just a little stone.
  • Daniel did survive being thrown into a den of lions.

The Bible is full of amazing stories of how God delivered people who trusted in Him.

Make a study of these amazing people and their amazing life stories with your children and teenagers.

Earlier this year, my sons were reading about the lives of the Kings of Israel and they created a report on each one. The study brought interesting discussions at the dinner table about what went right or wrong with each king.

Here’s a list of Bible Characters that you could use to help make the Bible come alive to your family:

Top Ten Boy Bible Characters

  1. Abel and Cain – the first murder of the Bible – okay maybe this would be better for older boys. Genesis 4
  2. David the Shepherd boy and the king. He killed a giant with just a stone and a slingshot at probably 16 years of age! 1 Samuel from chapter 16
  3. Samson - this guy did some amazing things like kill 1000 Philistine soldiers with just a jaw bone of a donkey. Judges chapters 13-16
  4. Joshua - this guy is one of my favourites – an excellent example of positive leadership. He even has his own book of the Bible – Joshua.
  5. Jonah -a must read – all about running away from God and ending up in a big fish for a couple of days. Check it out in the book of Jonah.
  6. Daniel This dude was fearless and full of faith in his God. He was a major player in Babylonian history – see the book of Daniel
  7. Elijah - Check out the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17. A guy who announced that it wouldn’t rain for a while to calling down fire from heaven.
  8. Noah – We have to include Noah and the ark. Genesis chapters 6 – 9. He survived the greatest natural disaster that has ever come against the planet.
  9. Moses- We can’t leave out the greatest leader of the Hebrew people – he rescued them from slavery in Egypt and lead them into the land promised to them by God. Start reading his story from Exodus chapter 1.
  10. Jesus- The last but not the least – Jesus. The whole Bible is centered on Jesus – the son of God. Matthew , Mark, Luke and John all wrote a book about his life on earth – but you will find him throughout the whole Bible.

Top Five Girl Bible Characters

  1. Esther – a queen who happened to be Jewish and who saved her people from annihilation. It is a powerful story. Read it from the book of Esther.
  2. Ruth – an amazing love story. Read how this young girl lost her husband and chose to travel with her mother in law to another country and find her true love – Boaz. Beautiful story of redeeming love – you can see Jesus throughout this story! Check out the book of Ruth.
  3. Mary – the mother of Jesus. What a story! chosen to be the earthly mother of the son of God. Read her story in Matthew chapter 1.
  4. Hagar – sad sad story. She was an Egyptian slave for Abraham and Sarah. Taken from her country and traveling with a Hebrew family. Genesis 16 and 21
  5. Rachel - another love story. Read how Jacob meets Rachel and how he had to work 14 years in order to marry her. From Genesis 29.

You are reading “The God Connection” book online. Click here to see the Table of Contents.
  I would love to hear how you bring the Bible alive to your children – feel free to comment below.

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