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

you don’t have to know it all

Sometimes we carry burdens that were never intended for us to carry.

We carry the weight of trying to figure out why God has us where He does. We shoulder burdens of wonder. Wondering where we’ll be tomorrow, or why we’re here today.

This is for all of us who ever wondered why, and who have ever wanted to simply know what is going on.

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I know the path you’re on is not what you planned–it hardly ever is. But that’s what is beautiful about life. All these turns you least expected are leading to a beautiful glory. All these ways you feel God misunderstands your desires, they’re not misunderstandings. The hardest “no” today is God saying, “hold on for my best yes.

I promise you that the pain of the “no” is nothing compared to the joy of God’s “yes.”

And so we don’t need to know it all. We don’t have to be confident that our ways are all going to work out perfectly. These situations in our lives that we don’t really understand, these seasons we want planned out, they are so good. The unexpected is always more captivating than what we have planned out in our minds.

 

Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that if you knew what was going on in this moment the pain would decrease. Perhaps it would-but God isn’t trying to make you comfortable, He is revealing more of Himself to you. And one day, an immeasurable joy will fill your heart because of this. You don’t have to know it all.

Remember what happened to Even when she wanted to know all that God knew? Yeah, it didn’t turn out so well.

It’s ok not to know it all.

It’s ok not to know all the details of what you want your education and career to look like.

It’s ok not to know what God is doing in this messy situation you find yourself in.

Shift your focus, press on to know your God and stop trying to understand your circumstances.

We want to know everything. He says “every part of you is known.”

We want to know our circumstances. He says “just know Me.”

Be content with not knowing today. Not knowing why God has you where you are, or what God has in store. Be content with not knowing because today, you are given the glorious invitation to know your God. And that is more than enough.

{ “be the good” shirt from Carly D Design }

exchange the unknown future for a known love

What is it about all that we think we want, all that God wants, and how the two collide?

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It’s a painful collision. When what we had planned is dashed against the rocks of His strength and goodness. When our plans collide with the sovereignty of an all-powerful God.

There’s a thing about disappointments and broken dreams and dashed expectations. They hurt. Often times, they cause us to doubt our God. We build up all that we think we want and want for our lives–and then the weight of reality wrecks us: we’re not in the place we would expect.

It’s not the school we had expected.

Or the church, or the person, or the friend.

It’s not the ideal job, or the perfect relationship-

but really, it’s absolutely opposite of all we expected.

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The unexpected has captivated me lately. (maybe that’s why 90% of my blog posts revolve around this topic 😉 ) Why God lets it happen, why our hopes in certain things are wrecked, and why we come to the place where with all our hearts, we’re pleading with our God and asking “God, what are you doing?”

Our doubt is fed by dashed expectations.

We let ourselves believe that God is not good. We may deny it-but why are our hearts confused? Why are we not overflowing with His joy? Why are we not EXCITED for LIFE?

Maybe it’s this:

we haven’t fed our emotions with the truth. The truth of God’s goodness. We haven’t preached it to our fading hearts each morning as we should. We haven’t soaked it in and let it consume all that we are.

You’re emotions take what you feed them. So feed them the truth. Start now, today:

God is good.

His plans are good.

Because God is good, what He is doing in your life is GOOD. When it hurts, when it’s confusing. It is good.

My circumstances will never be perfect,

but my God will always be.

Preach that to your heart every morning when you wake up. It may be the last thing you feel right now, but I promise, when His grace wrecks you, it all breaks through in a beautiful, overwhelming joy.

We’ll soak it in and by believing the goodness of our God, our entire perspective on life will be changed.

Our perspective on trials will never be the same.

Our perspective on the unknown will be altered.

“In the breaking of every habit, someone wills it first and feels it later”

-beth moore

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My greatest fear used to be not knowing. Not knowing what tomorrow would hold, not knowing if I would get what I want, not knowing if I would experience my definition of living.

Why is it that I think I know what would bring me the greatest joy, when my God has been preparing the deepest joy possible for me since before I was born, if I would only surrender?

It’s been a beautiful wrecking of grace that has showed me: I don’t actually want what I think I want, unless it’s what God wants for me.

It’s been a beautiful wrecking of grace that has showed me: wrapping my heart up in fear of the future is actually me crying out, “God, I want your job.”

But I’ve been liberated. I don’t have to be God. I don’t have to do His job. I am His daughter. Liberated. Freed. Excited.

And now my greatest fear today is this:

wasting my life because I’m wallowing in what I want and why God isn’t giving it to me–instead of searching God’s Word so my heart can explode with joy at the incredibly perfect plans He has for me.

This is it, this is what I want to live for-

I long for what He wants for me.

There is no fear of the future in my heart, but unbridled excitement, anticipation that God’s incredible plans for me have already begun.

I’m going to chase down what He wants for me-because I don’t want my plans anymore. I’m surrendered to a God who has better things in store

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Join me in destroying your fear of the unknown, by believing what is known:

My God is good and all His ways are perfect. 

(( say it to your heart ))

Exchange the unknown future for His known love.

love & grace,

m

the beautiful is coming

Maybe you’re in the ugly today.

An ugly situation that you wish you could change. A heart you want God to revive. You just want flowers and spring but your heart is caught in the dead of winter.

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Deuteronomy 8 doesn’t just promise that God has a purpose in the unexpected, it promises even more. { read part one here }

This has unexpectedly become one of my favorite chapters in Scripture. Let me tell you, that once you begin to study God’s Word, once the Holy Spirit begins to speak to you and come alive through the pages of The Word, you get hooked. It’s become this way with the chapter I’m reading, I can’t put it down. I can’t rush through it because I don’t want to. I think there is enough truth and promises in this chapter to read it every day and never get tired of it.

So here’s part two.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. -Deuteronomy 8:7-14

After the promise of holy in the hard at the beginning of the chapter, God promises to bring His people to a beautiful season.

If I had to guess I would imagine that you’re either walking through a season that is difficult, or have at some point in your life.

The beautiful thing about our God is that He promises redemption for every season. Although your heart has been bowed low in this valley, God is redeeming that unexpected challenge, and bringing you up to a good place. A full place. A satisfying place.

This land he is bringing you into-it is not mediocre. It is no less than the most glorious season you could imagine. Because in your darkness He is bringing the incredible light of His goodness. A rich land. Where your soul’s joy will abound. A land where you will be given diamonds-the good things you longed for and thought you could manufacture up on your own.

The rubble will be exchanged for rubies.

The dirty pebbles you held onto and thought so beautiful-the ones who didn’t want to let go-they’ll fall from your hands as Jesus places in your palms the most beautiful pearls. This place and this new season of beauty will still hold hard days and confusing emotions, but you will be satisfied.

Trust that Jesus is bringing a beautiful season in your life, even if you are in the dark today. Trust that His light will come bursting forth. Trust that He hasn’t given up on you, even if you feel like giving up, or even if you have. You may be finished, you may be tired, you may be bored of who you are and where you are but He is not.

You will come to be satisfied because of where you have been, and where you have walked. Because you will have learned that any hint of goodness is from the Lord, and is a gift. You will have learned that apart from His strength you can’t put your feet on the floor and get out of bed each morning.

 

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nicaragua mission bracelet // purchase H E R E

Because of where you have been, you will bless the Lord for where He is bringing you.

You shall eat and be full because you have been brought to the place where you know who gives the food and His face is the only face you see.

This doesn’t promise that you will be brought by the Lord to the scenario in your life you’ve always wanted. Often King Jesus loves us far too much to give us what we want. He gives us what He wants and slowly tunes our hearts until His will is our fullest, most vibrant desire.

When you have been brought to this season of joy, don’t make the mistake of thinking once again that you can do it on your own. Don’t look back constantly, but when you do, do it to remember how faithful God has been. Do it to surrender the future because you know God has brought you this far.

Unless you are continually fighting to find your joy in Jesus Christ alone, you will always be pulled back to wandering in the wilderness, no matter what season God brings you to.

So when this season comes and the blessings come, don’t set your heart on the given, but on the Giver. The beautiful is coming-even if you don’t see it today. The greatest thing about our Jesus is the hope that He gives us, that even if the beautiful never comes in this life, it will be full and complete when we are with our Savior together.

for you, if you’ve met the unexpected

Five little verses.

Five little verses is all that it took for God to shake me, speak to me, show me, a truth I know I’ll never let go.

Five little verses=one big truth.

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It’s Deuteronomy 8:2-6.

 And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing Him.

God brought the Israelites to an unexpected place. An unexpected waiting. He brought them to this place in their lives so that the genuineness of their faith would be proven. Isn’t that just like our God, to give us what we do not understand so that the strong roots of our faith would sink down and grow firmly rooted in the sovereignty of our Almighty God.

Isn’t it like our God to bring us out to wander in the wilderness for forty years-or however long He would have us wait-to teach us that He is sufficient to sequester every longing of our heart and to fill every hunger.

And even when The Lord leads His children to unexpected trials, the solution and healing He brings is also different than we would expect. God “fed them with manna which they did not know.” His solution to the trial He had brought to His children was the only sufficient solution. Because His ways are so much greater, they are hardly what we expect.

God lets us feel the emptiness of everything so that we might know the fullness of Him. He loves us way too much to let us be content with temporary satisfaction.

So whether God has you in a season of waiting for 40 years, or 4 months, He is always faithful to provide. The Israelites never went hungry. In His hand is all you need to be content in whatever place you are right now.

Pain and waiting teach our hearts to find fulfillment, healing, comfort, and complete satisfaction in God alone. God disciplines us for our good. God brings us through pain for our good. In our limited minds, we see good as being today. But our God sees good as something far greater.

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He lets us know loss, so that He might become our greatest gain. Loss of a job. Loss of a friend. Loss of a person. Loss of our expectations. So that we might find our all in Him, and not the trinkets of the world that are quick to grab our attention and even quicker to fade away.

Let us not think for a moment, that Our God-who holds the stars in their galaxies and breathes life into all that lives and moves and has its being-doens’t know what He is doing in our lives. It is something beautiful.

This resting and trusting in His plan summons us to obedience. We obey because in the season we do not understand or did not expect, He is working in us a peculiar glory that we will get only because of what we have walked through. Fearing God, obeying Him, resting in what He is doing and surrendering our hearts to Him, this is our greatest good. Because He loves us so perfectly, and the moment we believe we would be happier in different circumstances is the moment we have ceased to believe that His love is perfect for us.

 

the thing about dreams

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she stood at the edge of the water, looking out. looking in front of her, at what was coming. she saw each stair-where it was leading. she knew the next step, and that made her feel secure.

it made her feel comfortable.

she opened her journal to write but all she could do was grasp the pen with an adamantine grip. control’s riveting power was becoming her idol and her heart was beginning to long to know tomorrow instead of longing to know her King.

she was a hopeless romantic with a bucket list full of dreams. she didn’t say much. she had her faults, but she didn’t hide them. her journal was chock full of ideas and dreams and inspiration and beauty. her soul was deep, too deep to be understood by so many who settled for shallow.

and lately all she could think about was tomorrow. today didn’t seem to be enough to keep her soul captivated, or enough to fill her with joy. she saw joy as a “someday”, a state she would reach when what she wanted came to be true.

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but in the midst of the confusion of her heart, the King of heaven took her on a journey. a journey of not-knowing her future, so she could know her God. a journey of learning to see that this moment is enough, and her God is more than enough.

it was hard and it took a long time. day after day of waking up and realizing that she was created to live in the present, not so consumed with her hopes for tomorrow.

and in time she came to learn his love as greater than all her hopes and dreams. the waiting was blessed. because she learned that when she wanted something so bad, she had to surrender. to surrender and know that Jesus had something better. she saw how God works in mysterious ways, and one beautiful thing she learned: her King is always faithful, He will have His way. and in the center of His will she found purest joy.

she realized that joy isn’t someday, it’s today.

she learned that contentment isn’t tomorrow, it’s right now.

she believed He was faithful, faithful to give her joy and dreams too glorious to imagine herself.

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see that’s the thing about our dreams: they’re not truly dreams until their given to Jesus. when they become surrendered, and no longer ours, they become more beautiful than we could ever know.

don’t just dream. bring those dreams to Jesus. and watch them take flight and soar to beautiful heights on the wings of His love.

so today let your heart beat to the beautiful rhythm of his grace. refuse to fit in and be average. refuse to let the world suppress your beauty and define and validate your soul. live for your King Jesus and show His love wherever you go, whoever you meet. get outside yourself, your dreams, your desires, and know this: He’ll fulfill your dreams in a way that might surprise you.

the four questions

our hearts are all searching. we’re all seeking something. whether it be fame, wealth, popularity, or the presence of Jesus Christ and eternal joy in Him. our hearts were so designed that we’re longing for something. this past week I had the opportunity to hear one of the humblest, clearest, men of God preach. my heart is yearning for more to know the glory of the hope of Jesus Christ and so I’ve come to share what made such an impact on me.

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the four questions

the questions that we all ask at some point during our lives. we may not ask them in this order–we may not even realize we’re asking them, but all of us will.

Who am I?
Why am I here?
What’s wrong with the world?
How can what is wrong be made right?

there are two worldviews. there are two ways to answer this question. there is a white, and there is a black. the culture//non-Christian worldview has their answers. and the Christian worldview has its answers.

and so the non-Christian worldview offers these answers::
Who am I? I am the result of random evolutionary processes. I’m an accident.
Why am I here? I am here to consume and enjoy.
What’s wrong? People are either insufficiently educated or insufficiently governed…or insufficiently medicated.
How is what is wrong made right? Violence: anger management class—or you need to be governed or medicated. We need more meds, more education, and stronger, more sufficient government. All of this will lead us to “utopia.” It doesn’t satisfy. You know it-I know it. The culture tells children we are here because of an accident. Educate better, medicate better, govern better. But things continue to get worse. It doesn’t satisfy and it doesn’t ring true. You’re still left searching for an answer.

If we’re all the result of random evolutionary processes the only right thing is to take what you want from those who have it. If we’re here to consume and enjoy—what else is left to do? What happens when you educate a violent person? You get a more sophisticated violent person. Who is gonna govern the governors? The culture’s answers are not ok. The world is not ok. Those who hear it—are not ok.

The Bible gives a different answer to those questions:

Who am I? The world says you are an evolutionary accident—and the Word of God says: I am the crown and glory of the Creation of God. The culture wants the results from our worldview while rejecting what accomplishes it. We are the crown and glory of the creation of God. Every soul has value and purpose and beauty and glorious worth. Because every soul is crafted by the one who breathed the stars into existence. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by jim all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–{Colossians 1:15-16a)

Why am I here? I was created to bring glory and honor to God my Creator. We live to the glory of God—and govern the things and ways we enjoy/consume things. The only way to get to conservation is through worship. The culture says we ought to worship the creation—we get there by worshiping the Creator who made us stewards over the creation. There is purpose and joy and hope here and now because of Christ. There is an eternal hope to which we are reaching. Oh, praise Jesus, this is glorious.

“all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” {Colossians 1:16b-19}

What’s wrong with the world? You. “Who once were alienated and hostile in mind and doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21). I don’t do what I was created to do. And instead of bringing glory to God I’m hostile to Him. In short, what’s wrong with the world is sin. Our culture doesn’t like this category. We attempt to preach the Gospel without preaching about sin. The culture looks out and sees the problems—“we need to get them into the right environment.” What is wrong? Sin. You can’t look outside of yourself to find the problem. It can’t be educated, governed, or medicated out of you. Your problem is sin. I am at the problem with the world.

How can what is wrong be made right? The Cross. Oh the glory and hope in that ever profound and awful deed. We have no hope unless someone can come from outside of this world and rescue us. God made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us. He is our only hope. Our only hope is that we are reconciled to God by the blood of Christ. Christ was born without sin and lived without sin—His active obedience—He is born perfectly righteous and in his active obedience he achieves perfect righteousness. If I am going to stand before God—alien righteousness has to be imputed to me. This is why all the Gospel matters, and the virgin birth matters. Because in all my wickedness Christ looked upon me and set his love on me. Not because of anything I have done–or ever will do. But because of the indelible riches of his grace.

and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him. {Colossians 1:20-22}

This is our answer.

And it’s the only one that satisfies. There is not a greater answer we could come up with by philosophy. There is not a greater hope. The Word of God is inerrant, infallible, and it is sufficient to answer the questions of those who don’t even believe it.

“You can’t win, you can’t get even, and you can’t get out of the game.” That rings true without the Gospel. Without the Gospel, you have no hope. But God. to be short and true:

The only way you can have your best life now is if you’re going to hell when you die.

As believers, we’re not going to limp into heaven: He’s going to present us spotless, faultless, righteous. One day, we’ll get a bit of a glimpse into what this looks like. He will present you. One day, for those of us who are redeemed, Christ will look upon us—clothed in His righteousness—and He will say “Father, that’s your son.”

You can have utopia You can have your “best life now.” I’ll take glory. And I’ll enter there not by my own works-but by his work. Because there is nothing that this world is offering or proclaiming that comes close to that. Flee from trusting in yourself and flee to Christ. Live the rest of your life with the anxious anticipation that you will be presented before the Father by Jesus Christ–spotless, blameless, wholly His. Made worthy by his call.

love,

madyson

p.s. this post is based off of my notes taken from Pastor Voddie Baucham. be blessed by his ministry HERE