Showing posts with label Devotional. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Devotional. Show all posts

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Nine Surprising Thanksgiving Moments in the Bible

The big idea: Giving thanks in hardship was how our Thanksgiving day was born. It made me think of 9 strange occasions of thanks in the Bible.

America’s Thanksgiving Declared During War

Give thanks even when it hurts.

That has been modeled for us in America. The first time of giving thanks was ordered was in the middle of the Revolutionary War in 1777, after the Battle of Saratoga.

In November of 1789 George Washington declared a national day of Thanksgiving reflecting on the birth of this new nation.

In November of 1863 in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving should be declared a national holiday.

9 surprising Thanksgiving moments in the Bible

1. King David in pain

But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may your salvation, God, protect me.  I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgivingPsalm 69:29-30 NIV

2. Though ruin was coming

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. Isaiah 51:3 NIV

Isaiah saw the destruction for God’s people but he anticipated God’s compassion in the midst of all the destruction and loss they would surely experience.

3. Rebuilding 70 years after total destruction

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. Ezra 3:11 NIV

This is a great story. (Ezra 10-13) This thanksgiving moment occurs when they have laid the foundation of their temple after all these years. People laugh and cry.

4. When giving thanks risks death

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10 NIV

This is when Daniel goes to the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6). It is all because the Persian King declared anyone who petitions anyone other than him be sentenced to death. Never stop thanking God no matter what.

5. During a 2 week storm at sea

 "Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”  After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. Acts 27:34-35 NIV

Paul was travelling the Mediterranean by ship and the storm was so bad no one could eat for 2 weeks. They were sure the ship would splinter to pieces (Acts 27).

6. Facing hardship, persecution and death in ministry

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Cor 1: 10-11 NIV

This is thanks in anticipation for what God WILL do, like Isaiah 51:3

7. Instead of obscenities and vulgar joking

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4 NIV

Paul was telling the Corinthians in a foul mouthed culture how to act as Christians. Prone to swearing? Say thanks to God instead.

8. Thank God for evil leaders

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. I Timothy 2:1-2 NIV

When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy it was the mid-60s A.D. The Roman World was ruled by Emperor Nero who took delight in torturing people. He even poisoned his own mother. Many Christians were burned to death or thrown to lions at his command.

9. In the End Times

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. Rev 11:17 NIV

In the middle of mayhem on earth, thanks is being given. Another example of anticipation that God will make all things right.

Our world has a lot of angst. There are wars of atrocities. Random acts of violence. Foul movies and TV shows. Polar positions against every idea fed by social media laced with fear and anger. Politics? Oh boy.

In the midst of all of that, give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18). Rise above the mayhem and lift up your eyes to the Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The usual post in this series will be posted next Thursday on Rick Warren’s Book Survey Bible Study Method. In the midst of everything take time to learn how to feast on God's Word. 

If you’d like to get the Scripture Spy blog in an email, subscribe by writing to me at

Scripture Spy on Bible Study Methods 

Previous: Word Study Bible Study Method
Up next: Book Background Bible Study Method



1. What is something you can give thanks for today, though it might be a little hard to say it.

2. When have you been in a difficult situations and you were reminded, in your spirit or by someone else, to give thanks?

Thursday, October 5, 2023

1 - Devotional Bible Study Method

Big Idea: A Bible study method based on application is practical for daily living.

Series note: The next 12 weeks will feature summaries of the 12 Bible Study Methods featured in the book by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.

The Bible Applied to Daily Life

My mother and I were working in the garden on a hot day in North Dakota. I was about 8 years old, probably doing more playing than helping. She asked me to bring her a cup of cold water. Remember what the Bible says, she quoted.

And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded. Matthew 10:42 NLT

It was the Bible, applied to daily life. It began to shape my life on the importance of service before self.


The Bible is not just words  

The Devotional Bible Study Method, according to Rick Warren, shows how to prayerfully meditate on the Bible and apply to our daily experiences.

He states that you don’t really know and absorb the Word of God unless you apply it. Otherwise it is just words.

Additionally, the Bible can actually be dangerous if you study it but do not apply it. One example he gives is that you could get arrogant and just brag about what you know, without living it (I Cor. 8:1). 

Application is hard work

Rick Warren gives us three reasons why applying the Bible to daily life takes hard work.

1. It requires serious thinking.
2. Satan fights against it viciously.
3. We naturally resist change.

Four steps to practical application

Every chapter of Warren’s book is practical. He provides charts and templates for personal study. Here are four practical steps he gives on studying from an application point of view, which are the 4 sections of his template on the Devotional Method.

1. Pray for insight on how to apply the passage you have chosen.
2. Meditate on the verse or verses.
3. Write out applications you see from that passage.
4. Memorize a key verse.

Suggested passages 

Psalm 15
Psalm 34
Romans 12
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
1 John 4

Warren’s summary

The Ultimate test by which we study and apply Scripture is the person of Jesus Christ. We have to ask, “Does this application help me become more like Jesus?”

If we do not apply the biblical insights God gives us, we become spiritually dull to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Application of God’s Word is vitally necessary to our spiritual health and our growth in Christian maturity.

Resource: charts for every method

Here is an online PDF of the book by Rick Warren, Bible Study Methods: 12 ways you can unlock God's Word


Previous: “Three Versions” Bible Reading
Up next: The Chapter Summary Method of Bible Study



1. Take a moment of reflection on your life. Can you think of an example when you were aware that the Bible was relevant to, and helpful to, a life experience?

2. In all honesty, when you read the Bible are you mindful to apply it to your life situation today? Was there moment when you came to realize the importance of application?

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Power to Bless


The Big Idea: We have the choice to bless or curse people around us, whether intentionally or inadvertently.

The Power to Bless

I drove my four wheel drive truck a couple miles into the regional center of Kissidougou. Weaving left and right through local neighborhoods lined with tin covered houses and mud huts on bumpy roads and through mud, I finally arrived at my language coach's house. She was a beautiful woman with glowing skin and an infectious smile. It was only my second or third time to her place.

I greeted her as best I could."I ni ke."

"N ni ke. I ka kende ba?

"N ka kende…."

She launched into words I still had yet to learn and I looked bewildered. She laughed and grabbed my hand and started walking hand in hand with me, explaining in French. She said to me, "She who displaces herself from a far distance is blessed much more than the one who welcomes her."

What a beautiful saying, I reflected.

As an international worker in West Africa for ten years (1986-1996) I was required to study and become somewhat fluent in a local language. The language I was asked to learn was Maninka, a regional language in Guinea, West Africa. I had two language coaches and she was one of them.


I wanted to find out more about all these Maninka blessings. There are a myriad of them for this society which is predominately made up of Muslims. Many of their sayings are blessings starting with "God".

"May God grant you heath."

"May God protect your journey."

"May God give you a good night sleep."

There are dozens and dozens of blessings. It is not uncommon to string a number of them together.  Guineans, though many of them are poor by our standards, are quick to give gifts and quick to give a blessing.

After my lesson with my coach I asked my language supervisor about my friend's blessing. Was this another common blessing? Hmm, he mulled. Though he was an American, he had grown up as a little boy speaking this language with his Guinean friends and worked there his whole life.  He was now nearing retirement. He was a very gifted linguist.

"No," he reflected, "I have never heard that one. She is a very gracious, nice woman. I suspect she was glad to see you and genuinely wanted to bestow on you this blessing. What a beautiful thought."

As I studied blessings, curses and West African proverbs, I thought of Klinger on the M*A*S*H* sitcom. He liked to use this curse. "May the fleas of a thousand camels nest in your armpits!"


Those who know me, know that I usually end my correspondence with "Blessings, Diane." I am convinced that to bless or curse someone, even inadvertently, has power. I'm not talking about magical blessings or voodoo curses. I am talking about just the power of what we say to people and the impact that leaves.

Our gracious God has blessed us to make us a blessing. God told this to Abraham. 

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:2

 We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1: 3

Our words have great power. We see this shown in both the Old and the New Testament.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Proverbs 18:21a

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  James 3:10

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. I Peter 3:9


We have such potential to touch the lives of those around us. Granted we need our actions to reflect our faith. However I contend that the way we talk to each other IS ACTION, showing our heart. Can we show contentment and trust in God, spilling over with blessing to those around us? Or do we more often find ourselves with outbursts akin to curses. I'm not talking about the camel fleas in your armpits types. I mean do we say things like,

"You are never right!"

"You will never amount to anything!"

"If you believe that you are the most deluded person on the planet…"

Think about it. The things we say in stress, anger (even righteous anger) and pain can have barbs that will stick and sting much longer than a kind word will. They may drive those we love or hope to influence further away from us and from the truth. Is that really what we want?


This particular season we are in as a nation is extremely challening; with the COVID limitations and stresses, the polarized political arena and stretching personal stressors. It is not natural to human nature to reach out, to bless others and reflect happiness and contentment when we are under trying conditions.  But that is not the way we as the people of God should be. We should bless, not curse.

It is Thanksgiving. It is a time for us to reflect with gratitude for all the Lord has done for us and given us. If you look again at Ephesians 1:3, it reminds us that we are blessed with every SPIRITUAL blessing. Your life of blessing may not be monetary or even good health, or an easy sweet life. But we are loved by a great God and His Holy Spirit is continually with us to comfort and to guide.

I recently reminded the women in my weekly Bible study that the fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are not conditional when we feel good, or everything is going our way. We cannot do these on our own because we try hard to be good. They are after all the fruit of the SPIRIT of God. The Holy Spirit. We rely on this Holy Spirit within us to produce this kind of life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23.

May you overflow with blessing and thanksgiving in all you say and do, this Thanksgiving Season.

Up Next: Make the most of Advent

Previous Post:I’m a winner either way

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

I'm a Winner Either Way


The Big Idea: Funeral thoughts using Philippians 1:21, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

The Presence of Jesus Here of There

A day ago my husband and I went to a funeral a state away. We heard of  the passing of an old dairy farmer who needed one more stint to his heart. His family had become dear to my husband when he was their pastor about 30 years ago. We wanted to go, but read in the obituary due to these COVID times - "family only." The man's wife called. “I dared not ask you to come, but if you can please come. We think of you as family!”

My husband, in a dark suit and tie, and I in fashionable black and grey walked into the church which was decorated with John Deere tractors and miniature cows. As family arrived we chuckled as we realized we had missed the dress of the day: "Cowboy boots and Western Wear."

It was a COVID funeral with masks and social distancing. We watched the photo collage of non-COVID decades with Southern Gospel music in the background. The new widow was ushered to the front and as she sat before her beloved in the casket, she nodded her head raising a hand to the sky. As I listened to the song being played, the words gripped me.

I'm a winner either way, if I go or if I stay
For I'll still have my Jesus each passing day
I'll have my healing here below, or life forever if I go
Oh praise the Lord, I'm a winner either way. 

Wow, this is essentially Philippians 1:21, I thought to myself. 

            "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

The words were so comforting. I reflected on that truth that as we live here on this earth, we hope and joy in the presence of the Lord. His presence here with us on this earth may involve healing, or it may just be the peace of His comfort. But if He calls us heavenward to be with Him it is joy in His presence forevermore for those of us who love Him, who have accepted His gift of faith saving us from our sinful self.


I felt a bit like I was eavesdropping like a fly on the wall at a private family gathering. Family shared how this man, this joyous loving father, grandfather, uncle etc. had modeled for them hard work with laughter and a love for Jesus. The officiating pastor, a family member, said he always said, "He will be with me or I will be with Him. I'm a winner either way."

A life well spent with the Bible at center stage is quite a legacy to leave. The peace this man felt as he milked cows up 'til the day he died was because of His love for God and His Word. He asked to have his casket brought to the cemetery using his old John Deere tractor towed in the manure spreader.  I believe he wanted us to remember he is now with the Lord and all the rest is manure such as the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:8. The word the Apostle used in the original language the New Testament was written in really means manure in this verse. Most of our modern translations don't put it so shockingly.  The Good News Translation says.

I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage, so that I may gain Christ 

If you do not know what it is like to have such an amazing relationship with Jesus as your Lord, please write to me at, or talk with someone who does have this kind of relationship with God. It is worth the peace and joy (not to mention eternity with Jesus) and is of great comfort in this turbulent COVID period.

I looked up this song when I got home today. I grew up singing this kind of music with my family around the family piano. It is a song my father would have loved. I wondered why we never sang it or heard it.  I found out it was written as recently as 1993 by Lori Curtis and Tina Lewis.






by Lori Curtis and Tina Lewis

Up Next: The power to bless

Previous Post:Three Stooges prayer lines

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

No light for my way


The Big Idea: God's Word brings light to even the darkest of situations in our life.

The funny thing about being a city girl is that there is always light somewhere. Even in the dead of night, street lights spill into the streets. Trying to see star constellations in the sky can be a real challenge in the city.

When I moved to Guinea, West Africa to a rural location I studied the language and culture of the people. I learned that in that culture a full moon night was perfect for an outdoor party, sharing songs and stories. In fact, one night when I was staying a couple days with my former language helper, we climbed to a high point with her husband with guitar in tow and the kids. We sang and laughed under the full moon and told stories. I learned to enjoy a full moon walk with friends. However, I made sure if it was not a full moon, I would have a flashlight with me after dark.

I taught Bible classes and was the Bible Institute nurse. That meant in addition to my dispensary hours, if there was an emergency or a baby to be born, I made a house call. One day I was called to a case. I think it was a baby delivery, but my memory on that is not so clear. What is clear is that I left the student living quarters after the crisis thinking I had enough time to get back home with the campus lights still on. We had campus electricity till 10 pm every day.

About 100 feet from my house the lights went out. Not far. I'll be fine, I told myself. Not. It was totally a moonless night. I could not see my hand 3 inches from my eyes. It was a clear straight way. There were palm trees on each side of the path. But that was a good reason not to keep riding my bike. I stood there a few minutes and hoped to get clearer vision as I got used to the dark. I hoped to see or hear something. Nothing. I ended up abandoning my bike to retrieve the next day and feel my way on my hands and knees for the edges of the path, hoping there were no snakes or army ants along the way. I was never so happy to reach my porch as I was that night!

I had been working on memory verses with ladies who could not read much. We had been working on Psalm 119:26  "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

That night was my most vivid lesson of the reality of Scripture.  You see, the cultural times of King David of the Bible, when he was in the countryside, was probably similar to my life in Guinea. King David probably wrote that verse about the Word as a lamp. At night you need a lantern or you are toast. This metaphor of God's Word being a lamp to our feet and light to our path is a very practical one. It is not so startling when you never have total darkness. But when you are in complete darkness and can barely see where your path goes, you need light. Even a small light. A small light may just show you the next couple feet of the path. But that is OK. You have what you need to move forward.

Life is like that sometimes. Dark. Confusing. I have not always  known what my next step should be. But I have found that leaning on God's Word, reading it, meditating on it, studying it, has given me guidance and hope one step at a time.

I absolutely love all the verses in the Bible about light. There are a couple of them specifically about the Word of God in addition to Psalm 119:26.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 ESV

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.  Proverbs  6:23

You will shine among them [the wicked] like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Phil 2: 15-16

If you are going through a difficult, dark period, or just concerned about the state of our world, look to God's Word, the Bible to illuminate your way ahead.

Up Next: Popcorn prayers and other prayers on-the-go

Previous Post: Free ebooks on deep questions (by R.C. Sproul)



1. When you were in a dark, difficult season of life, did you find a Bible verse that comforted or helped you? Did you think of going to the Bible for help?

2. Ask a Christian friend what a favorite verse is to help them in hard times.