by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on March 30th, 2020

Welcome to day one of the "This Time" study. Today we will be reading Jeremiah chapter 11.


"They [the inhabitants of Jerusalem] have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers. Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape.” Jeremiah 11:10-11a

Here is what was going on at the time Jeremiah gave us what would end up being one of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible.

It is almost 600 years before Christ will appear and the people of Israel and Judah have continued to live in rebellion of God; they are worshiping false idols and following false teachers. God called Jeremiah as His prophet to warn the people about the consequences of their actions.

“For 23 years ... the Word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all his servants the prophets saying, “Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the Lord has given you and your fathers from of old and forever. Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do no harm.” Jeremiah 25:3-7

Flash forward, the Israelites do not heed Jeremiah’s warnings and God does indeed execute his wrath upon the people. Jerusalem is overrun and the people are taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar and relocated out of their homeland and into Babylon. [Read the book of Daniel for insight to what this time was like.]

I cannot even imagine being in that situation, taken from the only home I have ever known to be held captive in a foreign country.

But I have found myself suddenly thrust into unknown and often unfriendly territory as life’s circumstances uprooted me from my familiar, warm and cozy comfort zone. Sometimes as a result of my own choices and rebellion, just like the people of God; but sometimes by no action or fault of my own.


Let’s face it, many of us are there right now. Maybe you’re reading this today because our focus scripture grabbed your attention and you are looking for that hope Jeremiah 29:11 says Gods wants you to have. Let me reassure you friend, God does offer us hope, a hope like none other.

This letter Jeremiah pens in chapter 29, is God’s message to the exiles, meant to provide comfort and the reassurance that God will deliver them.  God was punishing His people, but He was not abandoning them. They would get to come home, eventually.

While they were waiting for this deliverance, God sent them a message of hope.

Today, begin your study time in prayer. Ask God to open your heart to understanding His Word. Spend time talking to Him about your current circumstances and all that is going on. Be genuine, voice your concerns, He knows your heart already! Speak in detail like you were speaking to a friend, because He loves you more than any earthly friend could. 

Then, Journal your prayer time on the backside of todays devo page. 

I would love to hear about what God impressed on your heart today. Share with us in the comments below, you will be an inspiration to others. 

Blessing Soul Friends,

Day One Freebie

Download these 4 Scripture and Prayer based Journaling Cards. They are a great size to add to your Journaling Bible or blank journal. At almost 5" x 4", they also make wonderful postcards of encouragement. Just add a written note to the back side and share with a friend. 

To download your FREE copy of "This Time" click on the book cover below:

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on March 29th, 2020

I took a deep breath, inhaling from a world which was warm and comfortable. But in the very next moment, I exhaled into a world of utter chaos and unknown. Life as I knew it had just imploded all around me and my family.

Time.

It’s a funny thing, our perception of time. As we watch our children graduate from school, it can seem as though with a blink of the eye they went from babies cradled in our arms to young adults wanting to spread their wings and fly. On the other hand, as we are waiting for that phone call from the doctor with test results, a mere 24 hours can seem like an eternity.

Time.

In those times when our world shifts on its axis, we turn to the scriptures for comfort and God’s reassurances – and rightly so. God longs to spend time with us on easy days, but He especially calls us to come to him in the midst of the storms.

One scripture that Christians take great comfort in is Jeremiah 29:11.


It is a popular scripture we can find printed on everything from t-shirts and cups to graduation announcements and cards of encouragement. We quote it to a friend in a trial and we cling to it when we are facing our own trials.

Sadly, very often this Bible verse is completely misapplied to our situations. Not to mention the translations which substitute “thoughts of peace” with “plans to prosper you” and the subsequent misapplication of prosperity.

If not careful, we can tend to approach Jeremiah 29:11 as a security blanket.

Inferring it to mean something that is does not actually mean, like “God has a plan for me that is good, so clearly this suffering I’m going through will end soon and my flourishing will begin.”

Umm. Not exactly.

As with any scripture, it can be dangerous to extract a single verse, not considering it’s right meaning in context of the chapter or book which it is included, or relative to the entirety of God’s Word.

“This Time” will take you on a deeper journey of this popular scripture to understand what Jeremiah was actually saying to the people of Israel in his letter and learn if it holds a promise for us today.

Blessings Soul Friends,
To download your FREE copy of "This Time" click on the book cover below:

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on January 20th, 2020

Hello January!  It is the beginning of a new year and a new decade. Something seems more fresh this year than others. We've looked further back this month than previously, making an evaluation of the past 10 years! Shoot, I can still remember the calendar flipping over from 1999 and waiting for all the computers at work to crash and the world to stop spinning. Anyone else?

Flash forward 20 years - yikes! - and it is officially "the future".

I wasn't going to do it this year, but everyone began posting about their "one word" and so I began wondering what mine might be IF I were to join in. I went through a list of several that sounded good, you know, like words which would challenge me, but just not too much. Comfortable growth.

But as always, when I began talking to God about it, it He didn't hesitate to supersede my intentions. Interesting that for all the times He offers us comfort, it never seems to be in the area of our spiritual growth.
Intentional.

Yup, that's my word. Not a bad word, you would think. Well, let me tell you about myself.

I don't wear a watch and almost never set an alarm. I'm the friend that is never early. I'm creative, my mind runs alllll the time. My attention span is on par with a gnat. (Do gnats even have an attention span?) Long before I can cross any finish line, my brain has already lined up several more things to do. I chase squirrels, a lot of them. I love to brainstorm with my friends and help them come up with things for them to do. I'm totally spur of the moment. I actually thrive in an atmosphere of change.

Not really a portrait of intentionality. That's not to say that I don't plan well. I can plan the fire out of any project. Follow through, crossing the finish line, that can be a challenge.

INTENTIONAL
Purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct

God gave me my word, so my next step was to see what the Bible had to say about being intentional. Surprisingly, not a lot directly. I will be spending the year on this topic in my personal study time, so I know God will be teaching me much.

But i did come across this translation of Ephesians 5:10; it's pretty direct. This will be "my verse" for the year.
"Figure out what will please Christ, and do it."
Ephesians 5:10 MSG
If God wants you to do something, then it should involve a conversation with him, so I prayed and asked Him what living intentionally should look like for me. If this is your word also, for you, it may mean something else and look completely different. But for me, God gave me three specific goals and three more scriptures. Each of these will be expanded as God teaches me more, but here are my initial thoughts.
Hurdle #1. Consistency. If you are a creative, I'm wondering if this is a growth opportunity for you as well.

Let nothing move you - all of those shiny new ideas will need to be kept in check. The inspiration is a beautiful thing, but they need to take their place in line.

Give yourself fully to the work of the Lord - my word, intentional, does not just apply to my "work" - my ministry - but also to my other work - my family, home, health, church, friends, etc.

Your labor is not in vain - none of this work is for me. I know that I know this. But being self-employed with my own ministry, I have to admit that I pretty much do what I want. It seems it's a lot about me. Or at least I've made it that way. 
Hurdle #2, Efficiency. Did I mention I am easily distracted and love to chase after new ideas?

The sluggard craves and get nothing - a friend recently asked me a very simple question in regards to a "big idea" I had. She asked, "Do you want to do the work?" Profound moment. The truth was I loved the idea, but no, I really didn't want to expend the resources to do the work.

The diligent is richly supplied - I know this is a proverb and not a promise, but I am believing God will supply all the resources for all of the assignments given to me BY HIM. I can see discernment is going to need to come into play here also.
The reward, Fruitfulness. This is the goal. the hurdle attached to this, though, will be to let God define what the fruit should be.

Walk worthy of the Lord - if ever there is an undeniable edict of how we are to conduct our business, this is it. I can not let the world and culture influence the ethics which must be adhered to and exemplified.

Bearing fruit in every good work - all kinds of fruit, bug fruit, little fruit. Fruit which pleases God.

Increase in the knowledge of God - this is the ultimate goal after all. The work done here is really kingdom work. May my kingdom work bring me closer to the King.

Soul Friends, I would love to hear about your "one word", or your 4 words or whatever word / focus / goal God has placed on your heart for 2020. Share with us below and inspire a friend. We're all walking through this world together, let's lift each other up; let's encourage and inspire each other.

Blessings #SoulFriends,
Download a printable of this Ephesians 5:10 Scripture Art, and add to your space for a great reminder. I have mine in my office.

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on January 6th, 2020

I am such a question asker. I am always seeking out explanations because I want to understand better. I want to know the who and whys, and the where and whens.

When I open my Bible to read and study, the questions begin falling from my head to my paper and this really spurs my research and study. Who wrote this? Who were they talking to? When was this? Why did such and such happen? What does this word mean? and on and on. I can pass the two hour mark undisturbed (and totally unaware) very easily.

But I don’t always have 2 hours to sit and study. How about you?

To shorten my study time from 2 hours to, let’s say 5 minutes, it meant I was going to have to cut out a lot.

Just a girl and her Bible

No study books or devotionals. No commentaries or parallel translations. No Greek / Hebrew dictionaries. No webpages or apps.

When I stripped away all of those man (women) written works  ---- [ pause button. Don’t read anything extra into this, I love resources, all kinds of resources; study resources are great and I will continue to use them, just not for this process. ]  As I was saying, when I stripped away all of those works written by human hands, all I had left was God’s Word and God.

(Insert Ah-Ha moment here)

My friend Jodie Barrett of Faithfully Following Ministries, did an on-line study not long ago focusing on studying the Bible verse by verse. In one of her study methods, she encourages us to lay aside the commentaries and devotionals. "It's the voice of others we want to set aside while we allow God an opportunity to speak to us directly thorough His Word and His Spirit within us."

I love this because it can be difficult to hear God speaking to us when we are focused on what others are speaking to us (even through their writings, even true and accurate teaching).
So, I thought I would give a shortened study method a try on the days my schedule did not really allow the long study periods.


Read - Pray - Write

I began thinking of a few single questions I could ask of almost any scripture. I would only use a single question per scripture, but I like variety, so I wanted to switch up the questions every day.

I narrowed my list to just 6 questions. This would work for Monday – Saturday, taking Sunday off. Or I might just use a couple of questions a week.

Here are the questions:
1. What does today’s scripture reveal to me about God?
2. How can today’s scripture help me grow spiritually?
3. How does today’s scripture affect my relationship with God?
4. How is God speaking to me through this scripture?
5. How does today’s scripture help me to see through God’s eyes?
6. What does today’s scripture teach me about God’s nature?


My process is just this: Read – Pray – Write

1. Read the Scripture : I am following along with our Endurance Scripture Reading List, but you can use a list or which ever selection method you prefer.

2. Pray : Then I talk to God. I read the scripture back to him. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand. Then I ask the specific question. I find I actually go back and forth with these steps. I read and pray, then I read through it again. Maybe several times even.

Then something beautiful always happens, I feel this understanding come over me. I say feel, not because it is a feeling, but because I really don’t hear anything audible. It’s more like I am receiving an answer, it is made clear to me.

3. Write – Then I write down the answer I have received. I love having this record of the conversation.


I have to admit that this study geek is really enjoying this process. I’m not looking for theological answers with historical references, I just want to know what God wants me to know.

I love a quote from Jen Wilkin that I read recently, she said the best Bible Study Question is: What does this scripture tell me about God?

And that’s it. Pure and simple. Sometimes I think we overcomplicate the process of studying our Bible. Or maybe in the process that is stuffed full of resources and man-written words, we omit or overlook the most simple – but most important – reason we study the Bible to begin with .... To know God.

As I study the Bible this year, I will be including this new Day Quick Study. If you do too, I would love to know what you think. How you like it, if you like it. And what God speaks to you through this time with Him.

Blessings #SoulFriends
The scriptures used in this blog’s examples are from our “Endurance” Scripture Reading List, which can be downloaded from our Soul Inspired Resources.

Have you heard about our NEW Inspired Subscriber Program?

by Jana Kennedy-Spicer on December 30th, 2019

I think I am more excited about this year’s Soul Inspired Bible Study topics than ever before. Can I give you a peek of the behind the scenes for a minute? It might surprise you.

Like other authors, you might be thinking that I spend time studying a topic then share it with y’all once I’ve finished and have it all nice and neatly written. But for me, it really doesn’t work that way. At least not with our monthly topics. You see, I will be studying each of our 12 topics right along with you.

In November of each year, I begin praying about what topics God wants me to learn about in the coming year. Kind of like everyone does selecting their “one word” but I’m looking for 12. And God always answers this prayer right away! Typically in one sitting I walk away with a list.
The topics for 2020 even include a couple of topics we’ve covered before a few years ago, so those will be fun to take another look at.

This year we will be studying:
Q1: Endurance, Fellowship, Storms
Q2: Believe, But God, Grace
Q3: Humility, Moving On, Strength
Q4: Trust, Forgiveness, Praise


As always, each month’s Scripture Reading List and blank study pages will be available for anyone to download and use. As well as discussions, blogs and social media posts.

For 2020, we’ve also added our Inspired Subscriber program. Which offers a lot of additional material available only to our members.

In January, we will be leaning about Endurance. You can download the Scripture Reading List and blank study pages over on our Soul Inspired Page.

If you are an Inspired Subscriber, I want to show you how I will be using the materials, especially setting up my Soul Inspired Bible Study Notebook for 2020.

Here’s what you will need to get started:
  • Notebook
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • Adhesive
  • Pen or marker
  • Access to a printer

Not an Inspired Subscriber yet? No worries, you can still download this Notebook Package that includes this Soul Inspired Bible Study notebook cover and Contents page.

After downloading the “2020 Endurance part1” file, the first thing I do is print off all of the pages. You can print this in color or in black and white, or just a few specific pages in color. That’s the great thing about a printable .pdf file, you have all the pages and can print them how best you like.

Here’s how I printed my Endurance Scripture Journal:
The Cover, Scripture Reading List and Scripture Art Print, was printed on a heavy cardstock paper.

Additionally, I wanted a copy of the Scripture Reading List and the Scripture Art to keep in my Bible, so I printed another color copy of each on 28# paper at 50%. This reduced their size to fit nicely in my Bible.


The remainder of the file, I printed in color, double sided on the same 28# paper. It is just a bit heavier than normal copy paper and is a nice weight to write on.

I printed the “Day Quick Study” pages twice so I would have 2 weeks of these study pages.


I’m sure I will be reprinting several of the blank study pages as the month goes along.

The bonus file 2020 Endurance Bonus, I printed out all 3 pages in color on the heavier card stock.

The notebook I am currently using does not have the pocket on the cover so I am keeping my “Soul Inspired Bible Study” cover page tucked inside my notebook until I can get another notebook.

I cut out the book mark and some of the tabs to use in setting up my study notebook.
The bookmark I will use to keep my place. And the tabs and flags I will use to mark important points. I’ve added one of the tabs to my Endurance title page to use as a divider page.

Remember, your notebook will be holding 12 months of soul inspiring study topics!


I’ve got my book all set up and ready to begin! I would love to see how you are using your study materials. Take a pic of your study notebooks and share with the rest of us online! Don’t forget to tag Sweet To The Soul and use the hashtag #SoulInspired or #InspiredSubscriber.


I look forward to learning all God has to teach us in the new year!

Blessings Soul Friends,

Note: Some products and pages featured in this blog post are only available through our Inspired Subscriber program. To learn more and sign up, visit Inspired Subscriber.





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