she believed God

Why in the world do God’s promises seem to take an awfully long time?

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In Genesis, God gave Sarah a seemingly impossible promise. He promised her that she would one day have a son. Sarah had a really hard time believing it though. She faltered, she made a big mistake, and she doubted that God would ever come through. Her heart wanted something so badly, and yet God seemed to be taking forever.

Isn’t that like all of us? Doubting God will ever come through because we haven’t seen any evidence of the promise yet?

His promises are as sure as the trials you are facing.

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And to Sarah? To Sarah, it seemed impossible. After all, who has a baby when they’re that old? Sarah found it a little hard to believe—she even found it laughable.

Sarah, we get you. So many times we read the promises of God and they fall on deaf ears because we’ve dismissed them as impossible for so long. Our broken hearts need God to do the seemingly impossible but we don’t count God as great enough.

But in the end, she believed the promise. God brought about what He said He would bring about. He came through for Sarah like He always does, and Sarah learned that oftentimes when God promises to do something, He doesn’t call us to actually do what He himself has promised to do, but to simply believe with fervent, child-like faith that He will do it.

Maybe God waits to deliver some promises and blessings and gifts a little longer than we would like, so we can get to know Him in the meantime. Because when we don’t have what we think we want, He can show us that He is really all that we need.

If you’re in a place like Sarah, and God’s promises for you seem so distant, trust that He is still at work. That even if you falter along the way, you cannot stop His faithful love from chasing you down and pursuing your messiest broken pieces.

She believed God.

An imperfect, messy, mistake-filled kind of belief. A real, gritty faith that faltered sometimes. Sarah is a lot like us. I am so grateful that God always delivers on His promises, even to our imperfect selves. Keep believing and keep pressing on, His promises to You are forever yes and Amen in Jesus.

By faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
Hebrews 11:11

Consider Him faithful who has promised.

& let it be said of you,

yeah, that messy and imperfect girl, she held on to something so unshakeable and it made her whole life radiate joy and confidence-

she believed God.

 

//”hallelujah” t-shirt from Walk in Love // use code MADYSONGRACE for 15% off your purchase

how to study the Bible for yourself: my quiet time routine

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Since I have started my blog, the single most asked question I get through Instagram or email is “how do you study the Bible?” So here it is. It’s nothing fancy or extravagant. I’ll share with you some of the tools I use and others I find helpful.

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First-let’s get real. Life gets busy and sometimes quiet time can tend to slide to the back burner. I have found, however, that when I schedule my day around my time with The Lord, no matter how busy I may be, instead of scheduling my time with the Lord around my day, I find myself refreshed, renewed, and strengthened. Let’s also be real about what it all looks like. My quiet time isn’t typically perfectly pictured with coffee and a journal and the lighting looking just right. No, most mornings I’m in my closet with verses taped on the walls studying in there with absolutely nothing to distract me because I’m like a little kid-if I don’t eliminate every distraction I don’t get anywhere. Pretty Instagram and blog pictures are great and all but the real stuff looks a little different.

All I can accomplish in one day doesn’t compare to time spent with my King, because it’s in that time that I find the strength to live each day. He’s the one who has given every breath, and I have found that giving back the first part of my day draws me closer to Him and sets my heart straight. Your mind might be more focused at night, or in the middle of the day, find the time where you can give The Lord as much of your attention and focus and energy as possible-bring Him the best part of your day. It’s not a chore-it’s an incredible privilege. When you start to see it as the best part of your day, His Word comes alive in new ways.

This world isn’t easy on you and it isn’t easy to get through a single day without being distracted about 500 times. So fix it in your mind that no matter how small the amount of time may be, spend it with Him. It may be five minutes, or fifty, but it all matters. Don’t let your enemy convince you that because you can’t sit down and spend an hour in the Word, you shouldn’t spend ten minutes. Quality matters over quantity. There isn’t a time of day that’s “right.” There isn’t an exact plan that is universal and should always be followed. But there is room for grace, and God sees our small little attempts to get to know Him and blesses them. Come running to Him every. single. day. Even if it’s a childlike crawling to His feet for a few minutes-don’t let one day pass that you don’t come to Him to find the sustaining power you need.

So join me today as I walk you through what my mornings look like. Yours may be entirely different-and that’s ok-we’re pressing on to know the same King, but our journeys will look different.

The first thing I do when I open the Word to study is pray. Typically my Bible study in the morning involves praying through the Word. I’ve found for me that I need to audibly “preach” to myself in the mornings–that’s why I spend them in my closet. It has to be just me and the Lord so I can talk to Him out loud. You might find you write your prayers better, or that the quiet front porch where you can just be silent is the spot for you. Find that spot. Find what works–and then pursue Him like crazy.

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I learned a little acronym from one of John Piper’s book, “IOUS,” that has stuck with me and I usually find myself praying through it as I begin to open the Word.

I-Incline my heart to long for you, Lord. Give me a desire to know you more and to make your name known.

O-Open. Lord God open my eyes to behold your Word! Open my eyes to see new things and to learn new truths.

U-Unite. Unite my heart to fear your name. Join my mind to my body so that I would live out the Word that I study today.

S-Satisfy. Oh Lord satisfy my heart in you alone! Not in anything this world has to offer, but in your truth and by your Holy Spirit, through your Word today.

Then I read through a passage and typically go verse by verse. Lately I’ve been studying Hosea using a study by Kristin Schmucker. What I love about this study is that it offers some commentary while also allowing you to soak up the Word and study it for yourself. In a passage I’m going through, I’ll typically pick a few verses that stand out to me and write them in my “Be Still” journal-another great tool from Kristin Schmucker. I’ll go through those few verses and paraphrase what the author is saying and how the Holy Spirit is speaking through them.

Next I’ll look up cross references for these passages. Often times this leads me to many other verses that are related. If you don’t have a study Bible a concordance is also great for this. Ask yourself questions about the setting of the passage. Look for and pick out similarities between the people in the story and yourself. Identify with them. Don’t rush through it. Soak it in. Put yourself in their shoes and walk through the journey with them. Then ask the Lord how he would have you apply this to your life.

Don’t end your time with Him without learning one thing you can carry with you through the day.

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It’s not fancy. It’s just a verse-by-verse walk through, writing down things that stick out to me and truths I want to press into my heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide and rely on Him. I truly believe He meets our weakness in an incredibly unique way when we open the Word.

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I usually finish out my time with The Lord in prayer. Sometimes I’ll also pick a Bible verse from my study to memorize using this cool memory trick. One of the greatest resources I’ve found for constructing a powerful prayer strategy is the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. If you haven’t read it-you should! {Also read this if you’re looking for some book suggestions}

love & grace,

M

a few words if you feel like you can’t make the cut

When it’s just you and Him and you can hear the sound of the rain slowly falling on the roof. When the house is empty and it’s early in the morning and there’s nothing on your mind but Him-

yeah, that’s just a taste of His presence, counted as nothing by this world but the greatest deliverance from a world that’s tugging on your heart.

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It pulls you apart, I know.

Echos of lies telling you that you can’t make the cut, rating you an 8/10 and letting you know you’re not really getting anywhere. You want to throw in the towel and you’re tired. You’re worn down because no matter how hard you try to control your life how you want it, you always seem to be walking a different path than the one you told God you wanted. It’s funny how nothing is ever quite like we expected.

And you fear that if you stop-you’ll fall more behind than you already are. I don’t know where you are and who you are but what I’m about to say is on my heart for you today, so I have to write it.

This little jumble of words I’m writing to you now, it’s an invitation to be still. To put the lies on airplane mode and allow the truth of your King to rain down over the whispers of your soul’s enemy.

Come out of the world’s sun and heat for a minute and let the breeze of his grace blow your hair in the wind.

He declares beauty over your heart today. Not this kind of fleeting beauty that the world puts up on a pedestal and bows down to, but a deep, abiding beauty that comes when His joy runs through your veins.

He declares purpose over your heart today. Not a purpose of giving you everything you want but a stunning story of Him giving you everything He wants for you.

He declares love over your heart today. Nothing you do could make Him love you more and nothing you don’t do could make Him love you less. You haven’t slipped His mind, and you haven’t let Him down, because He’s looking at what His Son has done, not what you did.

He declares an identity over your heart today. This identity is flawlessly enough to fill you with the strength you need. It reaches to the core of who you are and says, “no matter what mistakes you may make, I still love you.” 

It’s a deep identity, it’s a raw kind of love. The strengthening kind of love because it lifts you up to soar. It enables you to do hard things. It labels you strong in weakness and enough when you feel insufficient.

Nothing can shake the identity that you have through Him. It is flawlessly enough for you and calls you beloved. He would have you believe this. I know He would.

& if you would have Him, He’d have you surrender. He’d have you give over every part of your heart. The beauty of His presence would invade and the things that hurt you once would fall away. You’d start to see every rejection as a blessing, every “no” as His protection, every disappointment as a deliverance, and every day as a new chance to give it all back to Him.

Hear it yet? The rain falling or the breeze brushing through the trees. If you listen closely enough your heart will hear the refrain,

I can stop trying to be loved and live from the abundant truth that I am loved.

I can stop trying to be enough and live from the reality that I am enough.

& I can stop hiking up a mountain of expectations that just keeps climbing and climbing,

I can come sit at His feet and just be, because He loves me for who I am,

and nothing will ever change that.

& you-yes you-

you make the cut.

 

5 life changing books

  1. 1. Love Does by Bob Goff

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This book will shake you from the first pages. It’s one of those books where once you finish, you just want to start it again. Goff opens your eyes to see how God calls us to live out our faith in love. His faith will inspire you and completely change the way you look at love. Love does, it doesn’t just talk-or as Goff says, “love is never stationary.” This book will make you want to adventure outside of your comfort zone and take risks in the name of love. I dare you not to be changed after reading it, and I dare you not to want to read it again.

Favorite Quotes from Love Does

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

“Failure is just part of the process, and it’s not just okay; it’s better than okay. God doesn’t want failure to shut us down. God didn’t make it a three-strikes-and-you’re-out sort of thing. It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.”

“Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.”

purchase here

2. Don’t Waste your Life by John Piper

I can’t say enough about how this book will give you an entirely renewed perspective on what really matters and the urgency of living for God alone. It will root in you a healthy fear of wasting your life. Piper offers an alternative to spending our days for selfish gain, and shares his own story of seeking to treasure Christ. His faith will encourage you in your own walk, and remind you that there is so much more to life than what this world offers.

Favorite quotes from Don’t Waste your Life:

“God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.”

“Desire that your life count for something great! Long for your life to have eternal significance. Want this! Don’t coast through life without a passion.”

purchase here or enter to win this book by heading over to my instagram (giveaway rules will be posted Wednesday, July 27th at 6pm EST)!

 3. So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore

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Wow, so many emotions come back when just writing about this book. As cliche as it sounds, this book of all books changed my life. I’m not really sure when and where the fear crept in, but I lived most of my life paralyzed by what other people thought of me, and wallowing in the lie that I was not enough. I might not have admitted it, but I had convinced my heart I was inferior, and didn’t have what it takes. Beth Moore’s words painfully pried that fear out of me. First, my eyes were opened to see that insecurity was in fact what I was struggling with. Then the book guided me through those feelings and bringing them to the foot of the cross. I still struggle with insecurity, but now I call it out and identify believing it as sin. A truly incredible read everyone should read.

Favorite Quotes from So Long Insecurity:

“We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.”

“Be careful who you covet. Be careful how you judge. Be slow to size somebody up and think you know all about her type. She’s not so different than you. Nobody’s unbreakable here on this planet. Only the dead don’t bleed when they’re cut.”

purchase here

4. Fervent by Priscilla Shirer 

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Talk about altering your view of prayer! This book is powerful stuff. Priscilla dives into 10 different areas where we face attacks from our enemy and encourages you to develop prayer strategies to combat these attacks. The book comes with prayer cards you can fill out and write your strategies on. Our enemy might be disarmed, but he’s still pretty smart. Unless we are constantly going to war in our prayer life, we will continue struggle with an onslaught of his attacks. This book reminded me of the power of prayer and gave me practical advice for ways to implement a prayer strategy.

Favorite quotes from Fervent:

“We pray because our own solutions don’t work and because prayer deploys, activates, and fortifies us against the attacks of the enemy. We pray because we’re serious about taking back the ground he has sought to take from us.”

“At the end of the day, the enemy is going to be sorry he ever messed with you. You’re about to become his worst nightmare a million times over. He thought he could wear you down, sure that after a while you’d give up without much of a fight. Well, just wait till he encounters the fight of God’s Spirit in you. Because . . . This. Means. War.”

purchase here

5. Pracitcal Religion by J.C. Ryle

I don’t know what really inspired my 15 year old self to open up a deeply theological book, but I know it changed me. This book showed me the urgency of living out the Gospel. It instilled in me a healthy fear of the bleakness of eternity without God. It made me weep for the hearts who don’t know my King. It’s a powerful book that takes some work and time to read through, but it’s worth it. It might have been written in a different century, it might be “old-school”, but it’s a beautifully challenging book.

Favorite quotes from Practical Religion

“Evening is the time which the higher classes choose for dancing, card playing, and the like; and consequently never get to bed till late at night. If we love our souls, and would not become worldly, let us mind how we spend our evenings. Tell me how a man spends his evenings, and I can generally tell what his character is.”

“Tell me what a man does in the matter of Bible-reading and praying, in the matter of Sunday, public worship, and the Lord’s Supper, and I will soon tell you what he is, and on which road he is travelling.”

“Faith is to prayer what the feather is to the arrow: without it prayer will not hit the mark.”

purchase here

These are five of my favorites. I’m always looking for new reads so leave yours in the comments!