In school I actually enjoyed the vocabulary assignments where you are given a list of words to look up in the dictionary, write out the definition in your workbook, and then use it in a sample sentence. I loved learning new words or additional meanings to words that I already knew. This love of mine comes in handy when doing Bible study.

Aristotle always emphasized the need to use the right name for things, to be specific. This is especially true in the scriptures. Words have power in the Bible. Everything began with words because God spoke all of creation into being. God said let there be light, and there was light. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus himself was called The Word Incarnate. Since words are so important, then it pays to actually use a dictionary and make sure we truly understand the words being used.

For example, I was excited to see a recent Bible study use a definition of a word in order to expound on the scripture. The word was enrich, and it is a word I have read over many times without actually thinking about what it means. The verses being discussed were from 2 Corinthians 9:10-11:

“ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (NASB).

I had never really looked up or considered all the different uses of the word enrich. According to Merriam Webster, enrich means “to make richer especially by the addition or increase of some desirable quality, attribute, or ingredient:

  • To add beauty to
  • To enhance the taste of
  • To make (a soil) more fertile
  • To improve the nutritive value of (a food) by adding nutrients…especially by restoring part of the nutrients lost in processing
  • To process so as to add or increase the proportion of a desirable ingredient.”

So, God (the supplier) will enrich us so that we can be better seed (the gospel) planters and increase the production of fruit both in our lives as well as in the lives of others. He will make us richer by:

  • Adding beauty
  • Making us saltier since we are the salt of the earth
  • Making the soil more fertile where we are planting seeds
  • Restoring what is needed but has been lost
  • Increasing the proportion of grace to our lives.

When we study God’s Word, sometimes it is better to take time to actually focus on a section of scripture or even one verse instead of a whole chapter so that we can really grasp what God is trying to say to us. Like most things in life, true richness comes from quality not quantity. I have been doing a Bible study on Psalm 23 with Jennifer Rothschild. Each week she covers just one verse of the Psalm so that we can dig out all that God has to say to us in each verse.

Dr. Robert Smith gave a sermon during chapel at Samford University on Psalm 23. I don’t remember all the details, but he was talking about how he planned to read through the chapter while he was on a plane, but he never got through the entire chapter because he kept stopping to wonder at the individual words and phrases. A whole sermon could be given on just “The Lord” and who He is. This just emphasizes that we need to take the time to look in-depth at things instead of rushing to finish something so that we can check it off our list.

Priscilla Shirer talks about the process of taking a verse and studying it for a week, to really meditate on what it means instead of trying to read a massive amount of scripture to meet a goal, like reading through the Bible in a year. Reading through the Bible is not a bad goal, but if we merely read through to say we have done it, then what have we gained? The Bible says to meditate on His Word. Meditation is the practice of purposeful focus on something, which is more than a quick reading through a chapter. It is about understanding every aspect of a scripture and then trying to apply it to our daily lives.

If we want to be enriched, we have to take the time to let the Word sink into our roots, to soak up all the nutrients, and then let it seep out of us and into the world around us. Then it will produce thanksgiving to God.



SheepWhat do a hairball, palmetto bug, the USPS, and the IRS have in common? They teamed up together to rattle me. I had never really considered the definition of rattled until I was watching a video that goes along with the Bible study Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me. Jennifer Rothschild defines rattled as “thrown into a state of agitated confusion.” She was describing the characteristics of a sheep and how they are often rattled by the smallest thing to the point that they are incapable of moving until the shepherd comes and finds them and redirects them back to safety. I can totally relate.

I came home, tired after a long week, to find one of the cats had been sick…on the Young Mancomforter…on my side of the bed. Not his fault because he has had some digestive issues that are partly of my making due to changing his food too much. Still, any thoughts of a brief nap were shot as I cleaned the spot and left it to dry.

Then, I got the mail out of the box to find a reminder about my mortgage being late, which I was very well aware of and still not sure how I was going to wrangle along with other bills this month. There was also another notice of a certified letter from the IRS, regarding a late tax payment because…well see earlier comment about money. I spent a few moments fuming about why the government thinks I could afford to pay more taxes and then wasted an hour online at the IRS website getting more depressed and rattled.

I ate dinner and was contemplating whether or not to buy a Bible study book and decided against it because I felt I shouldn’t buy anything given financial issues. Later, I went to check on the bed cover and found it dry, so I pulled the bed covers back and a palmetto bug jumped out from under the comforter. Of course, I jumped, swatted, and called for my pest control team (3 cats – who leisurely took their time in dispatching the interloper).

Rattled…I was definitely rattled. It was a little ironic because just last week I wrote a blog on trust and obey, and here I was having a melt down over 2 pieces of mail, a random incident, and a stupid bug. So, I relate to the sheep being easily rattled until they are frozen in place. The difference in me and the sheep is that the sheep is waiting on the shepherd to come find her, and I am lamenting all the possible terrible things that could happen if I don’t get things straightened out myself.

Then…the Shepherd found me.

I left the cats to their hunting and sat down to watch the video that goes along with the study and the Shepherd whispered to me. The scripture for the study was Psalm 23:1: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Jennifer Rothschild shared this simple but profound point:

“You make Jesus all you need, and then all you need is found in Jesus, In other words, like sheep, you pay more attention to the Shepherd who supplies your needs than you do to the needs themselves.”

Just like that the Shepherd picked me up, turned me around, and pointed me in the right direction again. The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack for nothing.  Then, I ordered the book because I realized that the enemy did not want me to have it, so it must be something the Lord wants me to hear. I used my birthday money to purchase it. I’m sure when the book gets here the enemy will try to “rattle” me again, but the Lord is my Shepherd, so I have nothing to worry about. In the meantime, I just got an offer for a short-term job for December which the Shepherd knew about even before I knew I needed it.

Psalm 23 Bible study

Here is a link to the book Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me if you would like to read more.


Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey is a song I have sung in church since before I can remember. It’s as familiar as a favorite sweater, but because it is so familiar, it is easy to overlook the words. It is even easier to overlook the meaning of the words much less how they should work out in our daily lives. Trust is easy when the going is smooth and even, the road stretched out clearly before us. Trust is something else altogether when the road is full of curves, the end unseen, and rain coming down so hard you cannot see the next curve until it suddenly appears in front of you.

Passage after passage in the Bible tells the story of people, ordinary people, called to step out in faith and trust and obey. They were asked to do build a boat when there had been no rain, pray fire down on a soaking wet altar, or walk on water. We think how amazing those people were but they are no different than us. They were merely believers who trusted and obeyed. Saying we trust means nothing until we actually obey, actually take a step forward in faith.

To walk out on the water sounds so difficult, but we have to remember Peter was looking at Jesus and hearing his actual voice calling to him. In John 20:29 the Word of God says, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” It takes more faith to trust and obey when you can’t see at all. I was watching Field of Dreams this morning while I was eating breakfast and trying to get motivated. The whole story is one of trust and obedience and not understanding why he was asked to do things that made no sense while his world seemed to be crumbling around him. His obedience is rewarded in a way he never dreamed with the fulfillment of worldly needs (money to pay the mortgage) and spiritual/emotional needs (a chance to make it right with his father).

It is hard to continue to move forward on a path that the world says is not logical or practical. It is hard to trust when bills loom in the distance and we don’t see how it will get paid. We are tempted to fall back into old patterns of trusting on what the world says is the way to go, but God says, “Trust. I am doing something new” (Isaiah 43:19). We will never see God work in glorious new ways if we never step out. God is working in the background for our good (Jeremiah 29:11)we just have to hold tight to the promise and Trust and Obey.

Trust and Obey