May 2024 Bible Study: Taming the Tongue

By Captain Charlene Morrow
Monterey Peninsula, CA Corps – Golden State Division

Text: James 3:1-12


Think about the wide variety of comments and connections you make daily. The average person speaks about 7,000 words spoken a day, makes about 12 social interactions daily, and according to a Stanford study, has about 6000 individual thoughts daily. If we take a day and examine all of our words spoken and thoughts to ourselves, would you be proud of everything you’ve done? Would God be pleased? Could you say that you have “tamed the tongue” (physical or mental) in those situations? How many times would that tongue have gotten you into trouble? We all have trouble taming our tongue. James talks about this in James 3:1-12. The same mind and tongue that prays to the heavenly Father, thinks the thoughts of others around us and of ourselves. In this study we are going to look at taming our tongue with others and taming our tongue with ourselves.

Taming the tongue with others:
When working with young children, we often find that they will say whatever comes to mind, even to the embarrassment of their parents or other adults in the room. Often, children do not have a “filter,” as they say. Young minds are still learning the “dos and don’ts” of social norms and have a hard time controlling what comes from their mouths. Sometimes, we adults act the very same way. Taming our tongue is an important theme in scripture. With our tongues we can build people up, tear people down, or say the wrong thing without meaning it. How we speak and how we act toward others, fellow believer or not, is a direct representation of who our heavenly Father is and what he is about. When we look at our text in James, let’s discuss these questions:

Read James 3:1-8

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Discussion Questions:

  • What do you think James means when he says the tongue is also like fire?
  • How can a small “rudder” like the tongue control my being?
  • How can I control the power of my tongue?
  • What does it mean to “tame the tongue” with others and what are some ways that we can practice “taming the tongue”?
  • Look up scriptures: Proverbs 15:4, Colossians 3:12 and Galatians 5:13. Discuss with each other how these scriptures relate to learning to tame the tongue with others.

Jesus discusses this in the book of Matthew when preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:12 says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Earlier in James we are also reminded to be “quick to listen and slow to speak”. The next time you want to speak without thinking, take three deep breaths or count to 5 slowly in your head.
Or, you can come up with your own tool to use to ensure the next words out of your mouth will be glorifying to God.

Taming the tongue with ourselves:
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” This is a quote by the Dalai Lama. This concept may be easy to practice with others. For many of us, it is easy to love others and treat others with compassion but, do we offer ourselves the same kindness? We are our own worst critics, however; we are still children of the almighty God! So many of us talk to ourselves and use words and thoughts that we wouldn’t dare say to another person. I’m too much of….., I will never be…., I will never look like…., I will never succeed like…, I’M NOT ENOUGH! But we are God’s children. God’s Chosen. Created in HIS image. As we dive back into our passage in James chapter 3, Let’s read verses 9-12.

Read James 3:9-12

“9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Let’s insert ourselves into the passage in James. “With the tongue we praise our Lord, and with it we curse human beings,” and how about “and with it we curse ourselves, who have been made in God’s likeness”. Or, we can make it even more personal: “And with it we curse__________(your first and last name), who have been made in God’s likeness”.

Discussion Questions:

  • What do you think the definition of “self-talk” is and how does that relate to taming the tongue within us?
  • What does “Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring?” mean?
  • Why do you think it can be easier to praise and uplift others and not provide the same love and affection for ourselves?
  • Look up scriptures: Ephesians 4:29-30, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, and Philippians 4:8-9. Have a conversation about how these scripture verses provide evidence that God wants us to “tame the tongue” when speaking to ourselves.

Positive self-talk is not a new concept. Treating our body as a temple of the Lord includes our minds as well. Just as we would not want to clutter our minds and hearts with other sins and admirations of the world, we should also not clutter them with thoughts that berate a child of God. Galatians 4:7 says: “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” The next time you want to hurt yourself with negative words and thoughts, remember whose you are and tame that tongue!

Final discussion questions:
Just like with anything worth doing, taming the tongue requires practice, practice, practice!

  • What are some ways we can practice taming the tongue to others?
  • What are strategies we can use to keep ourselves from being “quick to speak”?
  • What are some ways we can practice taming our tongue with ourselves?
  • Do you think there is a correlation between how we view/talk to ourselves and how we view/talk to others?

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April 2024 Bible Study: Confession is Good for the Soul

By Major Beth Desplancke

A Bible Study on Psalm 32

Open It:

  1. As a child, when you did something wrong how did you respond? Did you try to cover it up or hide it? Or did you quickly confess what you did? How did you feel when you hid it? How did it feel to confess it?
  2. If “confession is good for the soul” why do you think so many find confession hard to do?

To confess is to admit guilt, or admit we made a mistake. To be honest, none of us like to admit that we are guilty, or made a mistake. We think it is easier to sweep our sins under the carpet and hide them. As we study Psalm 32, written by David, we will discover that it is better to confess our sins to God and allow Him to forgive us, rather than to try to hide or cover them up.

David is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)” but still had seasons of sin in his life. The most notable is sin regarding Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). After being approached by the prophet Nathan, David came to confession, repentance and forgiveness. Psalm 32 seems to go hand in hand with Psalm 51, where it is specified that he wrote the psalm after had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Psalm 32 is a psalm of penitence, but it is also a song of a forgiven soul rejoicing in the wonders of the grace of God. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Oh the blessedness! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight” for those who are forgiven.

Explore It:

Read Psalm 32:1-11

  1. How does David describe the state of the person whose sin is forgiven? How does that make you feel about God’s forgiveness?

Note that there are three words to describe sin in the first 2 verses.

  • Transgression means a “crossing a line, defying authority.” It is a rebellion, a refusal to submit to rightful authority. When we sin, we are rebelling against and refusing to submit to the rightful authority of God in our lives.
  • Sin means “falling short of or missing a mark,” Romans 3:23 says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of the God. God has set a target, and when we aim and don’t quite hit the center of the target; we miss the mark. Sin is coming short of that aim which God intended for us to reach.
  • Iniquity is from a word meaning bent or twisted. It suggests the perverting of that which is right or erring from the correct way.

David also uses three terms to describe what God does to put away our sin when we come to Him and confess our sins.

  • Our sins are forgiven. This means the lifting of a burden or a debt. The payment for the sin has been paid.
  • Our sins are covered. There is a cost for sin, and from the very beginning God instituted that shedding of blood to pay for the cost of the sin. The Old Testament sacrificial system emphasized this – a lamb or goat would have to die to pay for the person’s sins. Thankfully, Jesus came as the sacrificial Lamb of God and He died in our place, and His blood covers our sins.
  • Our sins are not counted against us. 1 John 1:9 proclaims, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” They are gone completely. The debt has been paid; you no longer owe it!
  1. How does David describe the person who receives God’s forgiveness?
  2. How did David feel when he had unconfessed sin in his life (v. 3-4)? How do you feel when you have unconfessed sin in your life?
  3. What did David experience/feel when he finally confessed to the Lord (v.5)? Have you had the same experience?

Douglas J. Rumford, in his book, Soul Shaping: Taking Care of Your Spiritual Life (p. 135), writes, “In terms of theology, guilt is my condition after I have violated God’s ways. I have sinned, and I am therefore guilty. Guilt is a fact, regardless of feelings, and we deal with it through repentance, confession, and trust in the sacrifice of Christ.”

He goes on to write (p. 136), “We can think of guilt as the fever of the soul. When we feel guilt, we know we have acted against God, ourselves and others. Our guilt announces the problem. It is like the warning light on the dashboard of a car…When you have a fever, you seek medical help. You neither ignore the fever nor focus on it alone. You treat the root cause, and the fever takes care of itself. God’s strategy in guilt is to stir us to get help, drawing us to himself.”

The dryness and misery David experienced was actually a good thing. His discomfort drove him to confess his sins before God. The moment he confessed, he experienced the freeing of his burden, and the forgiveness of his sin.

  1. What assurance do we have when we pray (v. 5)?
  2. How does the Lord protect His people (v. 6-7)? What does the picture of God as our hiding place mean to you?

Sin separates us from God. We want to hide from Him. Think about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. What did they do as soon as they ate from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:6-8)? They hid from God because of the shame they felt. But when we confess our sin and receive His forgiveness, we need not hide from Him in shame, but can run to Him and experience the safety of knowing that He won’t hold that sin against us.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Observe that the same man who in the fourth verse was oppressed by the presence of God, here finds a shelter in him. See what honest confession and full forgiveness will do!”

  1. What specific advice does this psalm offer to God’s people (v. 8-11)?
  2. When was a time in your life where you were stubborn and refused to allow God to guide you?

Notice the advice of not being like a horse or a mule. Both animals aren’t easy to guide; they need a bit and bridle and sometimes rigorous training before they are useful to the master. Don’t be like a horse or a mule when it comes to allowing the Lord to guide you. When we refuse to confess our sin, we are a stubborn horse or donkey trying to go our own way. And in our stubbornness, we will not be listening for the Lord’s guidance.

11. What promise did David offer to those who trust in the Lord (v. 10)?

Apply It:

Oh, the joy of forgiveness when we confess our sins. When we come to Him and admit our wrongdoings, and ask for His forgiveness, the Judge of the Universe pounds His gavel and proclaims, “Not guilty! You are free!” Of course, we should be people filled with rejoicing.

  1. How does psalm 32 reshape your understanding of God’s response to repentance?
  2. How does Psalm 32 inspire you to foster a more honest relationship with God?
  3. What behavior or attitude do you need to confess to the Lord today?
  4. How can you incorporate confession into your daily time with the Lord?

Close It:
As a group, read Psalm 19:12-14 (NLT) as a closing prayer:

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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March 2024 Bible Study: The Suffering of Jesus

By Major Sybil Smith
Torrance, CA Corps
Southern California Division

In this *study we will be looking at the different times throughout Scripture in which Jesus faced suffering in His life. We will read the passages, and ask questions that may foster further understanding of what took place in each of these vulnerable times in Jesus’ life and ministry. We will then look into further Scriptures which may help us see where we truly are in “Solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ.”

NOTE: This is quite an extensive study and could be broken down into studying smaller sections over several weeks.

sol•i-dar-i•ty soli-dar-i-ty

1 unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group: factory workers voiced solidarity with the striking students.
New Oxford American Dictionary

I am not sure I can say that I can truly be in solidarity in what my Lord has suffered on account of me and humankind. As we will see in this study, the Lord faced insult … persecution … personal anguish and torture before His predestined death by hanging on a cross for the redemption of us all. I just don’t think I can stand next to my Savior claiming I am in solidarity in His sufferings. Do I want to be? Yes, of course I desire to have the heart of God that would endure such things for the sake of others. But in all honesty, am I even close? I have shied away from so many moments God has asked me to join Him in. Moments of standing up for not just social injustice, but for the Bible, the truths Jesus Christ hung on the cross for.

There are times when it seems that we are living in a society where we are being told we are haters even if we merely disagree with an action or lifestyle that is contrary to the Word of God. It seems as if we are labeled old fashioned and out of date.

Those who stand up in our 21st century culture, living and speaking the true message of the Gospel, may very well be close to solidarity in Christ’s suffering. It’s not an easy thing to do by any means at all. Especially when it hits close to home with family. It’s so much easier to sometimes skip over some truths than lose the ones we love to hating us or thinking we hate them.

Those times, when we may pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe in the Bible, may make it challenging to be able to truly say we are in solidarity with Jesus Christ? In today’s culture, to be close to solidarity with Jesus’ suffering means we strive to live, speak and stand every moment in God’s truth, even when it is being challenged by those closest to us. No matter who our company is … where that company is … that we stand for the Word of God. I will ashamedly admit that I am not one of those who have lived like this. I quiet my witness as to not upset the masses, or in some cases the few, even when it comes to my family.

So there you have it. You have read my thoughts on where I see myself in this place of solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ. But before I solidify my thoughts/judgements and possibly you with your own on this topic, let’s first take a look through Scripture on what His sufferings have been and why He endured them. This may give a more sure response in our own lives where we are in solidarity with the suffering of our Savior Jesus Christ.

*To make this study even more insightful and in-depth, use online commentaries or the old-fashioned actual commentary books, reference, and/or study guides to help you as you answer these questions. This format gives you the chance to do a simple dive into the verses themselves. But the format also gives you the ability to do all kinds of varied studies on this subject. Only limited by the resources available.

Let’s look at the incidents in Scripture that highlight the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

  1. Matthew 2:13–15 – Jesus’ flight to Egypt as a child.

Thinking of the time and the circumstances. What challenges may Jesus have been met with as a child traveling to a new city with His parents?

What might He had suffered during that time? Remember they just weren’t moving to a new location, they were fleeing for Jesus’ life. They were trying not to be seen, to hide until the threat (Pharaoh) was gone.

Have you ever had to go into hiding because of the Gospel? If so, write your experience here. If not, what would be the closest thing to that experience you’ve endured?

  1. Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13 – The temptation in the wilderness (fasting + temptation).

Fasting 40 days and nights is a long time! How might it have been tough not to give in to the devils temptations? What was the reason for Jesus fasting? Does that make it any easier or harder to stand up to the temptations?

Have you ever fasted? If so, how long have you gone fasting and for what reason?

Describe your most challenging temptation and if you were able to stand up against it. Describe your faith at the time, how did it play into your ability to stand up against temptation?

  1. Luke 4:16-30 – Jesus is reading from Isaiah in Nazareth but then is rejected by his own people.

What must Jesus feel to be rejected by the people He grew up with?

Can you think of a time in your life where your family or community rejected what you had to say or do for them concerning your faith in Jesus Christ? If so, what was it and how did you feel?

  1. John 6:60–71 – A group of followers leave Jesus. They think his teaching is too hard.

How might this affect Jesus Spirit when even His followers begin to leave?

Remember it’s not just that He has some good idea He wants to share, it’s the message of a new way and a new hope of salvation for each of them. Saving them from their fate if they don’t believe. How might that make this rejection hit closer to His heart?
Have you ever had someone on board with you in ministry or in faith one moment and then leave you the next? If so, share what and when and how you felt.

  1. John 10:22-42 Jesus teaches the Pharisees some things they don’t like. They are about to stone him in 10:31. He continues to question and teach them, but by 10:39 they look to arrest him. 

So many times, Jesus faced this when He taught or preached the message God had given Him to tell. How might these encounters that grow more violent as the days go by, challenge Jesus’ spirit to keep preaching and teaching?

Has something you ever said about the Bible been met with a violent response? If so, what were you saying and what was the response? How did you deal with it?

  1. Luke 19:41-44 – Weeping over Jerusalem. The people were praising Him and treating Him like royalty as He was on the road to Jerusalem. Why then, would He be weeping as He saw the city just ahead of Him?

What must it had been like for Jesus to know, before He even step foot on the ground, that the words He was to speak to the people were going to be ignored, despised and rejected?

Have you had an experience where the Lord told you to give a message to someone or to a group of people that you knew were just going to reject it? If yes, did you do it anyway? If so, write your experience here.

  1. Matthew 14:1-13 & Mark 6:14-34 – After hearing about the be-heading of his friend John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew to a desolate place by Himself.

What do you suppose Jesus was going through in His spirit? Was He only thinking of His own grief concerning John the Baptist, or also the grief of the other disciples?

He didn’t have much time alone before large crowds wanted to hear His teachings. What would you have done?

What did Jesus do?

  1. John 11:1-35 After hearing of Lazarus death, Jesus was weeping.

Why was Jesus weeping? Was it because of Lazarus death, or was there something more?

See verse 11. If Jesus was already going to raise Lazarus from the dead, why then was He weeping? There must have been something more that grieved Jesus spirit.

What must it be like to know the hearts of others so deeply?

Have you had any situation close to this?

  1. Matthew 26:36-46 & Mark 14:32-42 – Praying in Gethsemane.

Sorrow beyond comprehension! What was Jesus overwhelmed about?

In His deep sorrow He asks His disciples to keep watch, but they fall asleep. How does that compound the emotion Jesus is wrestling with?

Jesus knew what was coming. Have you had a situation where you were asked to do something, and you knew the outcome was going to cause hardship or pain? If so, did you still do it? If you have write down what it was and how you responded.

  1. Matthew 26:47-50 & Mark 14:43-52 Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus outside Gethsemane.

His followers couldn’t stay awake enough to keep watch, He’s overwhelmed with grief and now is the time of Judas betrayal. How could Jesus, in all human effort, deal with such grief upon grief?

Have you ever been beaten down by grief just to have more and more pile up against you because of your faith in Jesus Christ? If so, what was that like? What is that compared to what Jesus went through here?

  1. John 18:15-18; 25-27 & Mark 14:66-72 – Peter’s denial of Jesus 3 times.

I wonder if Jesus could hear the rooster crows. While Jesus was in the midst of His arrest and interrogations, one of His closest followers denied knowing Him 3 times. Yet again, another insult from those He loves. How do you think all of this happening … like punches in a boxing ring … over and over and over again … one insult and betrayal after another … How must He have truly felt in His spirit at this moment?

Have you had people in your life betray you because of your faith? They say they’re with you and then turn against you when you need them the most. Write that experience down and how you felt.

  1. John 18:22-23, John 19:1-16 and Matthew 27:27-31 – Jesus sentenced to be crucified.

As you read these passages, list the three types of humiliation Jesus endured at the hands of His accusers.

Have you faced humiliation by others because of the faith you profess? If so, write your experience(s) here.

  1. Take a moment to read each of these passages of Scripture. Then, for each passage, write what Jesus’ experience was concerning the cross.

Matthew 27:32-37 –

Matthew 27:38-44, Mark 15:21-32, Luke 23:32-43 & John 19:17-30

Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-37

Out of these three events, which do you think brings the most suffering and utter despair to the heart of Jesus? Why?

  1. Psalm 16:10 and Acts 13:33-35 – prophesy that Jesus would not remain dead.

His work was finished. His duty was done. However, His suffering was not fully complete when He gave up His Spirit and died. He suffered the penalty of death so we would not have to. But Sheol (the underworld) could not hold the Savior because God rose Him from the dead so He and His body would not see decay.

Have we, have you been in the depths of Sheol? We may feel like we have at times. But this will not be something we bear while on earth. And if we remain in relationship with Jesus, it will not be our experience when we die.

Think about the Lord taking the ultimate punishment for sin, so you and I would not have to bear it ourselves. What are your thoughts on this?

We have read several Scripture passages that have told about the times Jesus Christ had faced suffering. I now consider the questions to those passages we just walked through and think that maybe I can have solidarity in at least some of what my Lord suffered. To determine for yourself where you are, let’s consider some further scripture reading on this matter of solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ.

  1. Matthew 16:21-28 – Take up your cross and follow me.

What does it mean to “take up their cross and follow Me”? What was the disciples’ cross or burden in following Jesus? (For some they left family, they left careers, they left respectable positions in society to follow Jesus.) You may want to research each disciple and see what it is they gave up in order to follow Jesus. (What they suffered to follow Jesus.)

What about you? What have you given up or sacrificed for following Jesus? What might your cross be that Jesus is calling you to bear in His Name?

  1. Matthew 20:20-28 – Drink of the same cup Jesus did.

James and John did end up drinking from the same cup Jesus did. James as a martyr, but both for their sacrificial living which brought persecution and hardship because of their living faith in Jesus Christ.

Can you say you have drunk from the same cup Jesus did? If so, share your story here.

  1. Galatians 6:11-16 – Maybe the cup represents the sacrificial life that Jesus lived and then calls His followers to live as well.

What was Paul saying here when he speaks of circumcision verses the cross of Christ?

It seems there is something deeper God is calling us to. What are your thoughts and where are you concerning this in your own life?

  1. Romans 8:17-18 – Sharing in His sufferings.

You can list all the sufferings Jesus went through. This says we may share in His glory as we’ve shared in His sufferings.

After reading all that our Savior has suffered, how we can share in that suffering? Where does that leave you and I in our solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ?

These Scriptures say that we indeed can be in solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ. The cost of being in solidarity with our Lord is high. The question is: Where are you and I in our solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ? Where do we want to be? Where is Jesus Christ calling us to be?

To stand honestly in solidarity with the suffering my Savior went through for the sake of everyone, I cannot say I am there.

I have suffered mocking and teasing from my dad for holding to the truths of Jesus Christ.

I have been called out by a store clerk for worshipping the Lord on Sundays. I’ve also been called out by a couple random people on being a woman pastor.

But for me to say that equals the suffering my Jesus went through for my life, no … I can’t say I’ve been brave enough to live that bold in the Lord. I desire to. I pray I will get there soon. But for me today, I can’t say I’m living in solidarity in the suffering of Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, help me start today.


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February 2024 Bible Study: Unplugging

By Lt. Makda Rodriguera
Seattle White Center, WA Corps
Northwest Division

I remember jokingly saying to someone that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself without my phone. Even though I was joking, it had truth to it. I don’t remember a day when I went without using my phone or computer.

The average person spends 3 hours on their phone. This doesn’t include other electronics like computers, iPads, and gaming stations. Most of us are dependent on our phones and computers to do our jobs, schoolwork, social interactions, and entertainment. So much so, we opt out of real personal relationships for virtual ones. We’d rather scroll through our social media to see how everyone is doing, comment on their post here and there, and feel like we are connected. Are we really connected though? Or is it just superficial relationships?

As human beings, we are created for interpersonal relationships. We thrive in community and friendships. Friendships with Jesus and with fellow men/women. To do this, we have to unplug from the virtual world and be present in the real world.

We can see Jesus’s example and how He unplugged to be connected to the Father and His close friends. Luke 5:16 reads, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Of course, Jesus was not in our era and didn’t have to unplug from his emails, social media, or entertainment, but He did unplug from work and everything else that demanded His attention to connect with the Father and His close friends.

He created space for interpersonal relationships. He spent time with His friends and disciples (John 3:33). He shared meals and fellowshipped with those whom He was close to (John 12:1-3). Jesus living as a perfect man shows us the importance of connection with God and others around us. In-person, uninterrupted connection with our friends and family is one of the most important spiritual disciplines we can practice. Especially in this day and age, as we have to fight to make this time.

King Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 2:22-23, “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest.” Working is not bad, but working with anxious striving to get our identity from it will leave us with grief and pain. We live in a time when everyone is too busy to do anything. When you ask any given person (including myself), “How are you doing?” the answer more times than not is “I’m good but so busy.” But how busy are we if we spend on average 3 hours a day and 21 hours a week just on our phones?

We can continue to work, even after work hours, we can use our time to scroll through social media or entertain ourselves, or we can choose to follow Jesus’s example and unplug from the virtual world and be connected to those around us, and Jesus.

Reflection Questions (Adel Calhoun Spiritual Disciplines Handbook page, 97):

  • How has technology influenced your relationships? Do friends and family complain about the amount of time you spend online? What is their real concern?
  • Are you online for both work and pleasure? What do you like about being online? What don’t you like about it?
  • What sort of temptations does cyberspace hold for you? How do you address these temptations?
  • Where are you using technology to avoid face-to-face encounters?
  • Have you ever been “yelled at” via email? What was it like for you?

After you reflect on the questions consider working on the following Spiritual Exercises (Adel Calhoun Spiritual Disciplines Handbook page, 97):

  • Technology assessment: Keep track of the amount of time you spend using digital and electronic communication each day. How much time does this amount to each week? Keep track of the uninterrupted time you spend in the presence of family and friends each day and week. Compare the times. Is God inviting you to prioritize anything based on this awareness? If you cut back the computer (Phone) one hour a week, how could you use this time to be in the presence of God or others?
  • Declare a digital-free time period in each day or week. Let people know when you are available and will get back to them.
  • What is it like for you to receive a handwritten letter from a friend? Write a non-electronic letter to a friend. What surfaces in you while you take the time to do this? What is gained and what is lost in electronic communication? What do you think of the trade-offs?
  • Which relationships in your life need face time? Plan face-to-face time with several people this week. Do not let this time be interrupted by anything electronic.

Recommended Resource: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, copyright 2015).

January 2024 Bible Study: Journaling

By Captain Joy Groenleer
Assistant Training Principle
College for Officer Training

Prior to her retirement, College for Officer Training Officer, Major Millie Bearchell, shared a testimony about her excitement as she began planning her new ministry with her future congregation. In this testimony, she shared that one of her most prized possessions is a journal written by her late mother. This love for journal writing was passed on from her mom to her as journaling became an important part of her daily quiet time with the Lord. When entering retirement, Major Millie planned to continue journaling, and instead of just writing in her own journal, she committed to ministering to her new congregation – her 6 grandchildren – by starting individual journals for each of them to one day receive at a still-to-be-determined time. What a beautiful ministry!

Share Your Experience: Do you enjoy journaling? If so, describe what you include in your journal. What are some important things that you record? Prayers? Prayer requests? Prayer victories? Daily thoughts? Recording of daily events? Poems? Quotes? Drawings? Do you share these journals with others?

In her book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun includes a chapter on the spiritual discipline of journaling. She defines journaling as “a tool for reflecting God’s presence, guidance and nurture in daily comings and goings.” Journaling is an effective spiritual discipline that many choose to do to draw themselves closer to the Lord as they articulate how God has been moving, what He has been teaching, and how He continues to be faithful. Journaling gives us an opportunity to sit, meditate, listen, and to write what is on our hearts as we reflect and remember. Calhoun states, “This practice includes keeping a written record of God’s ways in your life.”

“[Journaling is] a tool for reflecting God’s presence, guidance and nurture in daily comings and goings… This practice includes keeping a written record of God’s ways in your life.”

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

For today’s Bible Study, we will be looking at passages of Scripture from an author who loved to keep a written record of God’s ways in various people’s lives. In fact, his journals gave us two New Testament books – the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Let’s turn to Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-2 to see who this author is and what he wrote.

Read Luke 1:1-4.
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

The writer is Luke, who was a physician by trade (Colossians 4:14), which meant that he certainly focused on details. Luke is mentioned in Philemon 24 as a fellow worker of the Apostle Paul, joining him on some of his missionary journeys. In this passage, we can see how and why Luke wrote his Gospel.

In verses 1 and 2, Luke states that there were many who wrote about the things that Jesus did and said as writers unfolded the Lord’s life and ministry as the Messiah. He also shares that the gospel was handed down to them by those who walked with and talked with the Lord. These eyewitnesses saw with their very own eyes what Jesus did, and heard with their ears what Jesus said.

Questions for conversation:

  1. Discuss the impact that gospel writers have made because of their journaling of Jesus’ life and ministry. How would we understand the Good News were it not for men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to write what they witnessed?
  2. What are some pros and cons about reading others’ eyewitness written recording of events?

In verse 3 and 4, we read how and why Dr. Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name. First, he stated that he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning.” Scholars believe that Luke had not met Jesus personally and was not an eyewitness to the things that Jesus said or did. However, Luke shared in this Gospel that he thoroughly investigated everything, which would have included interviewing many eyewitnesses to put together a complete historical and gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke starts from the beginning, even before Jesus’ birth, as Luke starts his book with Zechariah’s story and Mary visiting Elizabeth. Jesus’ birth doesn’t happen until the 2nd chapter of his Gospel. Luke also includes Jesus’ story as a 12-yr.-old speaking with religious leaders. He carefully researched everything from even before Jesus was born to his childhood to his life as a teacher, preacher, and our Savior.

Luke also mentioned that “he decided to write an orderly account.” Luke described Jesus’ life after thorough collection of accounts, evaluation, organization and putting the pieces together in an orderly fashion.

Finally, he mentions the purpose of his writing, “so that you may know the certainty of the things that have been taught.” Luke addressed this orderly account to “most excellent Theophilus”, who some believe was a wealthy donor and convert who paid for Luke’s literary work. The term “most excellent” was used to refer to high-ranking noblemen, and thus, Theophilus may have been such. In addition, other scholars believe that, since the name means “friend of God”, could have been written to any Christian reader.

Questions for conversation:

  1. Knowing that Luke wrote his Gospel after careful investigation from the beginning and writing an orderly account, what are your thoughts about this Book of the Bible and the accuracy, effectiveness, and power of its message?
  2. Luke was a highly educated and gifted writer. However, God does not expect us to be as gifted as this author when it comes to the spiritual discipline of journaling. We simply need to be open to the Holy Spirit in sharing our thoughts, prayers, and writings. Discuss this.

Read Acts 1:1-2
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

The writer of the Book of Acts is none other than Dr. Luke himself. When Luke refers to his “former book”, he is talking about the Gospel of Luke. Notice the person that Luke addresses in the verse above. We see here that Luke is writing to the same person, Theophilus, as a continuation of his former book.

As a fellow worker with the apostle Paul, Luke now shifts the attention from Jesus in the Gospel of Luke to the effects of Jesus’ ministry in the Book of Acts. We see Luke giving another orderly account of the early church and the works of the Holy Spirit as the gospel continued to be spread not just to Jews but to Gentiles as well. The Book of Acts continued with the narrative that Luke began, and furthermore included narrative accounts of what Luke and other apostles experienced firsthand as the Gospel spread throughout all the world!

Questions for conversation:

  1. Discuss some significant events and stories that stand out to you in Luke’s recordings of the early church and the ministries of Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts.
  2. Discuss how Luke left a legacy for others because of his journaling, recording, and remembering God’s ways and works.

As we’ve studied both passages, we learned that Luke may not have been an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Jesus, but he carefully investigated the things that were fulfilled, and he decided to write an orderly account. Why? He decided to write because he wanted Theophilus to know the certainty of the things he was taught. Through the investigating, collecting, analyzing, organizing, journaling of Luke, we too can know the certainty of the things that we have been taught.

Challenge and application:

  1. Read the Books of Luke and Acts in their entirety to understand the Gospel fully and to reflect on the beginnings of the early church.
  2. In her book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun includes some things that we can do to practice journaling:

a. Keep a written record of God’s ways in your life; journals can include a collection of clippings, drawings, collages, articles, poems, quotes and so forth.

b. Journal daily or weekly or during significant events and transitions.

c. Making journals and scrapbooks for children or others (like Major Millie is doing in retirement for her grandchildren).

Note: Check out Major Millie’s devotional where she writes about journaling for her grandchildren. Check out this month’s craft for an easy journal you can make.

d. Record prayers, prayer requests, answers to prayers and responses to God in all of this.

Happy Journaling!

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December 2023 Bible Study: The Lamb Who Was Slain

By Captain Victoria Mercer
Kaneohe, HI Corps
Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division

Before reading the passage of Scripture, it is always important for us to look at the context of the whole book of Exodus. We should look at who wrote it, why did they write it, to whom did they wrote this for, any key themes in the book and what was the culture like back then. The reason we should do this is because it can be very easy for us to look at a Bible passage and try to relate to it from our current culture and our own understanding, when really, back then, culture was very different, and this will help us to see why God did what He did and how it can relate to us today.

Exodus was written by Moses, whom God used when He set the Israelites free from their long 400 years of slavery to the Egyptians. The audience that this was written for was the people of Israel, and it was written to record the events of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their development as a nation. It was written in the desert during Israel’s wanderings (somewhere in the Sinai peninsula). The key theme we see is Redemption in the book of Exodus.

God sent Moses and Aaron (Moses’ brother) to speak to Pharaoh and for him to let God’s people go (anyone else thinking of the movie Prince of Egypt and the song? No…just me…haha). Pharaoh’s heart becomes hardened, and he refuses. He refuses not just once, not just twice, but nine times! One, that shows how hardened his heart was and two, it shows how many chances God gave him. There were nine plagues that hit Egypt before our passage: the plague of blood, the plague of frogs, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague of livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of hail, the plague of locusts and the plague of darkness. This is a good transition for us to read our passage of Scripture for this study.

Read Scripture: Exodus 12

What about Jesus
You may be wondering what the Passover has to do with Jesus being born (it is Christmas time after all). Also, what does it have to do with the spiritual discipline of celebration that we are talking about this month? It has so much to do with it!

Our God is so amazing! Before He created our world, He knew His amazing plan of redemption. During the time of the Exodus when God saved His people from slavery to the Egyptians, He knew His plan of ultimate redemption from our sin. All along, He orchestrated every detail. How did He do that with regards to the Passover? Passover was a Spring holiday that took place between March and April and was followed by the Unleavened Bread Feast and the First Fruits Feast (all took place three days within each other). The way the blood was placed on the door looked something like this:

Blood was placed at the top and the sides of the doors, sort of looking like the shape of the cross (hmmm…I sense a foreshadowing coming on!). Passover took place on a Friday and then the other two feasts took place on Saturday and Sunday. How does Jesus fit in with this? He was the Passover Lamb for us! He was perfect, God Himself, and He willingly chose to come and be fully human (tempted as we are yet He did not sin) and die a criminal’s death, taking on so much physical, mental, and emotional pain on our behalf. It doesn’t end there. He also took on the FULL wrath of God against the sin of the whole world! And, as someone wrote on the festivals of the Jews: “…the Passover pointed to the Messiah as our Passover Lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening,” (Holy Land Site).

Now we see how Jesus fits in with Passover, but what about our theme for the month on the spiritual discipline of celebration? Where does that fit in with all of this? Simply put, our God is a God of Joy and Celebration. He is the One who created it! It was His idea all along. The people of Israel had many holidays and feasts they were told to celebrate, and they always did it in community. The focus of all of these was God Himself, whether that meant giving to others, remembering all He has done for them or sacrificing sin offerings for the wrongs they have done. In Nehemiah, when the walls were built and he was leading the third group out of captivity, Ezra read the Law of the Lord and the people starting mourning and grieving: “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” …Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” …Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God. They celebrated the festival for seven days, and on the eighth day, in accordance with the regulation, there was an assembly,” (Nehemiah 8:9-10, 18 NIV).

In The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, a quote that really struck me was this: “The world is filled with reasons to be downcast. But deeper than sorrow thrums the unbroken pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eternal day,” (29). Throughout God’s Word, we see how delightful His commands are, how He gives abundant life, to rejoice always, to always give thanks, and to praise the Lord. The more we dive into His Word, the more we get to know His character and who He really is and not just what we think we know about Him.

Other Passages to Read:
Some other passages to read and dive into that discusses more on the festivals and holidays, delighting in the Lord and His Word, and rejoicing are these (this is not a full list of all that there are): Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy 16, Psalm 48, 106, 119 and 150, Philippians 4:4-8, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Christmas can be a hard time for some of us who have lost loved ones and has been a time of grieving. For any of you reading this who have lost someone you love dearly, I am so sorry for your loss and know that you are not alone. When we look Biblically, the people celebrated together and not alone and we see celebration happening regardless of circumstances, such as Paul when he wrote the letter Philippians and was in prison (the main theme throughout it was joy). Here are some questions for all of us to ponder:

  1. Where do I see the character of God in the Exodus 12 passage? What characteristics do I see?
  2. What was the importance of Passover to the people of Israel?
  3. Why was it so important for them to observe Passover annually?
  4. Why was celebration a community thing and not to be done alone? What does this say of God’s heart?
  5. How do I see true joy found throughout the passages discussed above?
    Now, some personal application questions to ponder:
  6. Is my focus on Christmas on God and all He has done and celebrating Him, or is it about something else?
  7. Why is it important to celebrate with others? What good would it do not only for my faith, but also my relationship with others?
  8. Has the true Christmas story of Christ coming become habit and routine, or do I see the how amazing it really is? (Something that may be helpful for this is not just looking at the passages from the New Testament about His birth, but also looking throughout the Bible to see the whole picture and all God orchestrated for Jesus to come at just the right time and just the right way).

I hope and pray this was helpful for those reading and that God uses it to give all of us a deeper love of Him and His Word, and a deeper gratitude for all He has done for us. God bless.

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November 2023 Bible Study: Gratitude

By Major Kim Williams
Administrator for Program
Phoenix, AZ Adult Rehabilitation Center

Read Daniel 3:1-30 NIV

Question: How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego show their faith and belief in the God they served?

How many times have you heard, “Have an attitude of gratitude?” Is that before or after morning coffee? Is it even possible to have gratitude in all situations? I have a friend that is now with the Lord, and she would give praise to God for the “Good, Bad, and Indifferent.”

It is so easy to praise the Lord when all is going your way. The coffee is perfect, the bills are paid, little Johnny got all A’s on his report card, and you just lost another 10 pounds on your diet. I don’t know whose life this might be, but it sure isn’t mine.

Mine is more like I set the coffee pot before going to bed but forgot to turn it on, little Johnny has detention and I gained 10 lbs. on the diet.

We can find it in our relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit to have a heart of gratitude when the good seasons seem to be in the distance and the bad is like a dreary cloud hanging over us for a season. You get bad news from the doctor, children are having difficulties, grandkids are being too exposed to worldly decay, the car breaks down, or you’re having personal relationship problems.

Is this the time we reflect and give thanks in all circumstances? Are we rejoicing always? What is our prayer life like at this time? (see 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Here is the thing – life is going to happen, the good, the bad, and the indifferent!

The Good News

No, the great news is that we have this amazing gift as followers of Christ, that in spite of the chaos, hurts, and thunderstorms of life, we can still be filled with gratitude and joy because of the abundant love God has for each one of us.

It is His mercy that God shows our broken selves and the grace that He pours into us is reason enough to dig deep in those valleys of life and be able to live with a heart of gratitude. When we take time to be mindful and see the amazing works of God, we can be prompted by the Holy Spirit to overflow with gratitude, joy, grace, and mercy.

Question: What can you do to begin the daily process of recognizing the goodness of God so you can life with a grateful heart during the good, the bad, and the indifferent?

Start a Gratitude Journal. Here are some ideas of what you can include:

  • Write your prayers of thanksgiving.
  • Contemplate the chorus, “Count your blessings, name them one by one and you will see what the Lord has done.”
  • Look up scripture about rejoicing, gratitude, mercy, joy, etc.
  • Read Galatians 5:22-23. What fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life? What fruit of the Spirit do you need more of right now?

Learning to live with sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading and embracing a life of gratitude in the good, the bad and the indifferent is not looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. This is a gift and treasure from God that comes through His Son, Jesus, when we seek to follow Him and His word found in the Scripture.

We may not receive all the answers we want, the way we want them answered, but we can still be filled with a grateful heart through anything, if we have the same attitude as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had along with the confidence they had in God Almighty.

Daniel 3:14-18
And Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Question: Are we so firm in our relationship with Christ, that when the indifferent comes, we are able to enter the blazing furnace with gratitude, joy and confidence in who we are in Him?

We can have that attitude of gratitude because of our relationship with Christ.

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October 2023 Bible Study: God’s Given Gift of Rest

By Major Karen Schmig
St. George, UT Outpost – Intermountain Division


I’m not sure if you have trouble observing Sabbath in you daily lives? According to research based on Lifeway Research, seven in 10 churchgoers take their Sabbath on Sunday. Few take it on Saturday (5 percent), Friday (1 percent) or Monday (1 percent). For 23 percent, they don’t take a day of rest. I can testify that I am one of the 23% that typically do not take the time to have a sabbath day of rest. If I do take a day off from the business of the Corps, I will find something else that needs to be done. Anything from housework to shopping. I am good at finding something to do to keep me busy. In this Bible study we are going to explore what “Sabbath” really means and by reading scripture we will find out why God says it is so important to practice it in our daily weekly routine.

Read Hebrews 4:1, 9-11.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

According to the Sabbath is defined as:
“The Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath (from Hebrew shavat, “to rest”) is observed throughout the year on the seventh day of the week—Saturday. According to biblical tradition, it commemorates the original seventh day on which God rested after completing the creation.”

Sabbath was introduced to us from the very beginning when God created the Earth. We read in the book of Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth in six periods of time, which He called days: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2–3).

The factor, or the thing that the Sabbath was pointing to, is Jesus Christ. He is our rest. It doesn’t matter whether you go to corporate worship on Saturday or on Sunday, or your choice of a day during the week, because that’s not what really matters. What really matters is that you find your rest in Christ!

We take sabbath to acknowledge that we need God, we need time dedicated to him. A time to rest. This doesn’t mean that all we are to do on a sabbath are pray and sleep, though prayer and rest are central and needed. It can also be time with family or hobbies. So many times, we’re burning the candle at both ends. So busy with work that we don’t stop to really appreciate God’s presence in our lives.

Let’s Read Luke 10:28-42 NIV

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In these we read that account of Mary and Martha. Martha just going and going on her own trying to make things just right to the point frustration. For most of that have a servant heart that is very easy to get caught up in. Keeping ourselves bust serving others and making sure everything is done in all our power to help and please others. Jesus reminds Martha that Mary had chosen what was right, to rest at Jesus’ feet, to bask in his presence and his love.

Sabbath is an act of humility before the Lord.

Matthew 5:3 (NIV) says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Being poor in spirit”, we are like paupers, relying on God and only God to fill us. It is a sin to think we can just keep going and going without acknowledging God and our need for his help. It’s silly for us to think that we are too busy for God, the one who gives us all of our provisions in the first place. Sabbath goes beyond just one day as well. We need dedicated time daily to rest in Him.

Even Jesus needed time with his father, who are we to act as though we don’t. Make a plan today, put it on your calendar, in your day timer. Schedule time for God, be intentional about it. Start learning also to say no to others if that is your crutch to not taking time to rest in God. This is of central importance to our spiritual health. Make a date with God, pray to Him, take in his word and grow in him daily. May God bless you as we all go through this great adventure, we call life with a great Savior who never fails us.

Questions to Reflect On:

  1. Are you taking a weekly Sabbath?
  2. Are you taking time daily for the Lord?
  3. What can you do differently in your daily/weekly schedule that will allow you to take a Sabbath?
  4. What does God have for me in my day of Sabbath, through this day of rest?
  5. What do I have for Him in my Sabbath day, through this day of rest?
  6. How will this be lived out with others in gratitude, joy and celebration?

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September 2023 Bible Study: The Battlefield of our Mind

By Major Beth Desplancke

A Bible Study on the Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)


  1. We have lots of funny sayings related to our head. What do these common head sayings mean?

⦁ I always keep my head (Meaning: I never lose control of my emotions)
⦁ It never entered my head (Meaning: I never even thought about it)
⦁ I brought matters to a head. (Meaning: I made sure something had to be decided)
⦁ My head is in the clouds (Meaning: I’m not a practically minded person).
⦁ I can’t make head nor tails of this (Meaning: I don’t understand it at all).
⦁ I’m in way over my head (Meaning: I’m involved so far that it’s out of my control)
⦁ I could do it standing on my head (Meaning: I find it really easy).
⦁ The fame has completely gone to my head (Meaning: I’ve let my feelings get out of control).
⦁ She likes to keep her head down (Meaning: She avoids attracting attention)
⦁ They’re still scratching their heads (Meaning: They’re finding it hard to understand the results).
⦁ That joke just went over my head (Meaning: I didn’t understand the joke).

  1. What other head sayings or idioms can you think of? (examples: airhead, head start, to bang one’s head against the wall, head over heels, keep a cool head, like a chicken with its head cut off).

Although they are funny sayings, we know that protecting the head is very important to our health and well-being. A head injury can be dangerous and life threatening. That is why there are certain sports and activities where wearing a helmet is vitally important, such as playing football or riding a bicycle.

Getting into the Word:

In Ephesians 6, Paul writes about the fact we are in a spiritual battle, …not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). He then goes on to list a spiritual armor that Christians should be figuratively wearing so that we can stand up against the devil’s schemes (v. 11).

Read Ephesians 6:10-20.

Although Paul doesn’t start with the helmet first, we are going to start there, because we think a lot of thoughts all day long. According to a study from psychologists at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, the average human has 6,200 thoughts per day ( For Christians, the biggest battlefield is our minds. When the enemy attacks, he usually attacks our minds because he knows if he can influence the way we think, he will influence the way we act.

A Roman soldier’s helmet, called a galea, was basically a skullcap made of iron, typically covered with bronze. Its primary function was to protect the solder’s skull and brain from the swing of the “broadsword”- a 3-to 4-foot-long sword with a massive handle that needed to be cradled by two hands to hit its target. One strategically aimed blow could completely crush the soldier’s skull, incapacitating him in a split second.

Over time, the soldier’s helmet was redesigned to be even more comprehensive in its coverage. Pieces were added, including a flared neck guard and hinged cheek guards. It protected not only the head but also the neck and shoulders. When the helmet was strapped in place, it exposed little besides the eyes, nose and mouth.

  1. How does Paul describe the helmet? Read also Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
  2. Why do you think he used that word connected to the helmet?
  3. What does salvation mean?

According to Easton’s Bible Diction, salvation is the word used for “the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13), and of deliverance generally from evil or danger. In the New Testament it is specially used with reference to the great deliverance from the guilt and the pollution of sin wrought out by Jesus Christ, “the great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).”

The salvation experience is often reduced to something that only affects a person’s eternal destiny – heaven or hell. For some, salvation is just a “get out of hell free card.” And to be clear, the fact that it does affect the outcome of eternity gives us incredible hope. In fact, part of what it means to wear the helmet of salvation is to live every day in light of eternity, and the promised future that we have. Doing so will, without a doubt, change the way we live in the present.

While the future implications of our salvation are critical and give us astounding hope, this is not the totality of what it offers. If salvation was only meant to give us a ticket to eternity, what good would it do us now while we’re still on earth? Do we just sit around waiting, living out our days until some future moment when the Lord returns or when we go to heaven, whichever comes first?

No, salvation – yours and mine – was meant to come with more than future benefits. It was also supposed to exert a startlingly clear impact on our present, daily life. But this impact will only be experienced to the extent that we apply the benefits of salvation to our everyday lives.

Receiving salvation is not the same as applying salvation. The first redeems us; the second restores, protects and shields us daily from the attacks of the enemy.

  1. Read Romans 5:9-10. What does justification mean?

Justification is a legal term signifying acquittal. It means we’re released from having to pay the debt we owe for our sin. But our salvation doesn’t stop at the foot of the cross. If you’re amazed at what His death accomplished, imagine how much more is accomplished through “His life.” The fact that He lives means our salvation flows into the everyday experiences where we live.

“I’m saved” isn’t just past tense; it also has past and future implications. As we live underneath its blessing, we enjoy a vibrant, living, daily reality in the present (sanctification). And this is not just a one-time occurrence. Sanctification is a process by which we are continually delivered from the wrath of God on earth, fortified against the enemy’s attacks, and molded into the image of Christ as our minds are renewed. And Salvation includes glorification – 0ne day we will be saved from the presence of sin – that’s our eternity in heaven.

  1. The enemy is a liar (John 8:44) and he wants us to doubt our salvation. What is the best way to combat the lies of the enemy (see Romans 12:2)?

Getting Practical:

Paul writes in Ephesians 6 that we are to put on or take up the helmet of salvation. How do we do this practically? How do we live out this passage, since it isn’t a literal helmet that we are putting on?

Using the word “hat” as an acrostic, we can remember how to take up the helmet of salvation.

H – Halt errant thoughts.

  1. Read 2 Corinthians 10:5 What do you think taking our thoughts captive means?

When the enemy sends his lies to our mind, we need to immediately stop thinking about those lies. Just because the enemy puts a thought in our head, doesn’t mean we have to think about it. We need to halt the errant thought, take every thought captive, and make it obedient to Christ. Remember, it is the helmet of salvation; the enemy is going to attack our position in Christ. He will get us to question whether we are saved or not, or doubt that the last sin we committed is the one that God won’t forgive, or he will try to get us to think that we are too bad for God to love or forgive us, or that we have failed God one too many times. Whenever those thoughts come to our mind, we need to halt thinking about them.

As the saying goes, “You can’t keep birds from flying over your head, but you can sure keep them from building a nest in your hair!” Taking thoughts captive means controlling them instead of allowing them to control you. It means actively replacing the enemy’s thinking with God’s thinking at every opportunity.

A – Adjust your thoughts and accept your identity in Christ.

This means, instead of thinking about the garbagy thoughts the enemy puts in your mind, think about who Christ says you are in Him. Focus on your identity in Christ.

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 2:16. What does having the mind of Christ mean?

Since we have the mind of Christ, we need to think Christ-like thoughts.

Besides offering protection, soldiers wore helmets as a means of identification. Often the name of the soldier who wore the helmet was inscribed inside of it. Our salvation identifies us with Christ. The enemy loves to get us to doubt our salvation, as well as our identity. He tries to get us to focus on the things we do (or don’t do) rather than who we are.

  1. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:1-10. What do these verses say about our identity in Christ? (We are chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, included, marked in Him and sealed by His Spirit, we have been made alive in Christ, and we are His handiwork). What identity speaks most to you today?

T – Think the right thoughts.

  1. Read Philippians 4:8. What kind of thoughts are we to be thinking? What do all those words mean?

If a thought doesn’t fit into one of these categories, we need to stop thinking it immediately. The lies of the enemy and the garbage he spews at you has no place in your life. Choose what fills your mind – if it fits with Paul’s grid then it is worth thinking about. Fill your mind with God’s Word and you will have no room for Satan’s lies.

Having a helmet is a confidence builder. It provides the security of protection amid the battle. The good news for us is that we never have a reason to be without it. The price for our helmet has been paid in full by our Savior. Re-read Ephesians 2:8-9.

What a shame if we ever go into battle again without taking full advantage of it – and the full benefit package that comes with it. Your identity is your weaponry. Taking up and putting on the helmet of your salvation is akin to knowing who you are in Christ, fortifying your thinking with it, and living in a way that is congruent with it. When you do this, you break the enemy’s stronghold and tap into the power to deflect future attacks.

Personal Reflection to H.A.T.: (these questions are for personal thought and meditation)

  • What recurring thoughts do I need to take captive?
  • What lie about my identity does the enemy like to whisper in my head?
  • What verse can I use to combat the specific lie of the enemy?

Closing Prayer:

In closing, read this prayer together as your commitment to put on the helmet of salvation.

Lord of my life, I dedicate myself to You this day.
Today I will read the Word of God.
Today I will pursue godly thinking.

Thinking godly thoughts protects me from sin.
Thinking godly thoughts build strength of character in me.
Thinking godly thoughts grows my integrity.
Thinking godly thoughts increases my love for others.

I realize that…
Thinking godly thoughts, reading the Word of God, putting on Your Armor,
And choosing godly actions and attitudes will make me a strong, victorious Christian.

I dedicate my mind to you today.
I will meditate on godly things.
And reject ungodly thoughts this day. Amen.

By Beth McLendon of

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August 2023 Bible Study: Flourishing in the Drought

By Major Noelle Nelson
Divisional Women’s Ministries Secretary – Golden State Division

Bible Study – 1 Kings 17:1-6

“Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, ‘As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!’ Then the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.’ So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook.” 1 Kings 17: 1-6 (NLT)

The desert is a dry place. Just the word, DESERT, evokes images of dry, cracked earth. Unbearable heat. Parched throat and dry lips. Oceans of sand, with miles and miles of unstimulating brown and tan landscape. Tall, looming saguaro cactus. The occasional scruffy shrub. The desert appears to be in a perpetual dry season with no apparent life forms, other than the cacti and shrubs. And maybe the occasional snake or lizard.

Have you ever experienced a dry season in life? A period in your life when it seemed like few things seemed to be going right? A time when your connection with God was beginning to wane? That feeling of being spiritually disconnected and dried out? Maybe you are there right now. Like a literal drought, we can experience spiritual droughts. It may be because of a traumatic event such as loss of a job, relationship problems, medical issues, grief over the loss of a friend or loved one. Sometimes it is the result of not listening carefully to God’s will. At these times all we see in our heart is a vast desert. We feel desperately dried out and perhaps abandoned. How can we not just survive, but flourish in the dry seasons of our lives?
The prophet Elijah found himself in such circumstances. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was called to be a prophet during a time of moral and spiritual collapse in Israel.

Read 1 Kings 17:1
(“Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, ‘As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!’ ”)

Many of the Israelites had ceased to follow God. Some even began “hedging their bets” by worshipping many different Gods, just to cover all the bases. The King of Israel was desperate to appease a variety of gods, so he married off his son to the high priestess of Baal. The nation had turned to gods who claimed to have control over the rain clouds. In the midst of all this, God required Elijah the prophet to be the bearer of bad news to the people: There would be no rain or dew in the land until God’s people turned back to Him.

This horrible drought was not a surprise out of left field. God had been urging His people to follow Him, yet they chose their own path. This literal desert season was a result of their own disobedience.

  • Think of a time when you chose your own path, even though you sensed that God was leading you in a different direction. How did that go for you?
  • At what point did you sense that there would be consequences for your choice?
  • Did you see the consequences as a punishment? Or as a way for God to open your eyes and shake you back into reality?

It’s true. Sometimes we bring these desert seasons into our own lives because we aren’t following God. Maybe we find ourselves becoming complacent, just going through the motions. Or, similar to Elijah, we may be surrounded by people who are turning away from God, and we are fighting not to get swept away in despair. It’s during the dry times that we can learn to trust God and not allow negative feelings, discouragement, or temptations to run our lives.

Emotions are powerful things. But our faith can be even more powerful. Ask yourself these questions:

⦁ How much of my faith is based on emotions? Is this a good or bad thing? Read James 1:6.

(“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”)

It is important to have a firm footing in your faith so that fickle emotions are unable to shake you loose when difficulty arises.

  • What is true about God even when I don’t feel it? Read Romans 5:1 & 2, and Hebrews 13:8

(“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom. 5:1 & 2)

(“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8)

Sometimes our emotions get the better of us. But God is merciful. Through Elijah, God demonstrated His merciful provision and unmatched ability. God was looking for people who would walk with faith and look to Him. Elijah, and everyone else who heard God’s message, had exactly two choices: they could put their faith in God to carry them trough the dry season, or they could choose not to. The King, Queen, and many Israelites chose to not trust in God, turning to other gods and their own intuition to try and save themselves. Elijah made the right decision by turning to God and relying on Him. He set the example for the nation.

Most of us don’t turn to other gods when things are difficult, but I’m not sure we can always say that we truly trust in God 100%. Humans tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to these things.

  • What do you usually do when your spiritual life is going through a dry spell?

Let’s revisit the question from earlier in this study: How can we not just survive, but flourish in the dry seasons of our lives?

Elijah knew what to do during this drought, and he came through. We can follow his example by doing these things:

  1. Stay in the Word. Elijah listened to God. It is especially important that we keep our ears open during dry times. Even when it doesn’t appear to be influencing anything in our lives, keep reading God’s Word.
  2. Stay Faithful. We need to follow God even when we feel unenthusiastic or unmotivated. Look back at 1 Kings 17:3. Elijah went to the Kerith Ravine simply because God told him to go. Obedience leads to blessings.
  3. Stay Calm. We all have times that are dry spiritually. So, don’t panic. God has not forgotten about you. Like Elijah, rest in this truth.
  4. Stay Open. God might have an unusual way of providing for you. Elijah was willing to be fed by ravens! Don’t ignore His small blessings and His unlikely resources.
  5. Stay Thankful! In the midst of the drought, offer praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. Do not let your feelings rob you of the opportunity to praise and thank God even when the times are hard. It’s easy to praise and thank God when things go well, but true women of God praise Him through the trials as well.

Do you feel yourself languishing in a dry season? Is your soul parched and crying out for some living water? Trust in the Lord. He has not left you or forsaken you. He WILL bring you through this drought!

Prayer: Almighty God, you know how much I need you. On my own, I can get caught up just following my feelings and being overwhelmed by my circumstances. Please help me to think clearly and made good decisions. Thank you that you always care about me and you can provide in any spiritual drought. I want to stay receptive to Your solutions, directions, and promptings. I give You the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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