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Getting Started in Online Bible Study

Getting Started in Online Bible Study

If you are getting started and this is our first online Bible study then you will want to read this. Below are some of the answers to the most common questions about online Bible study.

online bible study

Books and Workbooks for Online Bible Study

  • If your workbook has not arrive yet, you will have time to catch up on the reading. The first week of small group is an introduction session and we are not discussing the book yet. The second week of small group is when we discuss your reading assignment.
  • The workbook has 5 daily lessons and there are 7 days in a week. So you have two extra days to catch-up if you miss your daily lesson.
  • Often the books are printed as trade books and Bible study workbooks. We use the Bible study workbooks, also called “member book.” When you order the item the product description will say MEMBER BOOK.
  • You are responsible for your own workbook. We are a 100% volunteer ministry and our leaders buy their own workbooks for study. We do not buy books for you.
  • Some women like to put a coil edge on their workbooks, or have the spine removed and then they put the book into a 3-ring binder.
  • If you are international, you will need an electronic version of the workbooks. You can find free reading apps from Lifeway- CLICK HERE.

Bible Translations for Online Bible Study

  • Please use any Bible translation of your choice.
  • In the front of each workbook, on the copyright information page, the author has listed the Bible translation she is using for the workbook.
  • When you are filling in the blanks and have a different Bible translation than the author, use an online Bible to assist you. Try BibleGateway.com, Bible.com or BlueLetterBible.org
  • We are non-denominational and our leaders and guest use a variety of translations for online Bible study.

Video Sessions for Online Bible Study

  • Video sessions are copyrighted material, just like the movies you watch on DVD. It is illegal to share these videos online.
  • The videos are optional for online Bible studies. You can find them by attending local church Bible studies or purchase the videos for individual use.
  • To fill in the video sessions of your workbook, you can find “Answers to the Viewer Guide” at Lifeway. Look under Leader Kit, support materials.

Small Groups For Online Bible Study

  • Our small groups currently meet via Facebook. This is a private Facebook group and only the members of the group can the group content. You need to request to join the group and one of the leaders will approve your request.
  • You will select your own group based on your schedule. The schedule is posted in our facebook group.
  • On the day you want to attend the small group, you will visit the private facebook group and look for the group photo. The leader will post a photo with the day and time of the meeting, and the discussion will take place right under the photo.
  • All groups have open attendance, so if you miss a group then you are invited to attend another group during the week. The group discussions start Monday and end Sunday. We start a new set of discussion questions on Monday. Each group has the same questions so you only need to attend one group meeting per week.
  • The leader will post questions and allow time for everyone to answer and participate.
  • Small groups last one hour.
  • After the first small group meeting, the leader will take attendance and create a list of the members. She will pray for you during the week.
  • This is what the small group leader photos look like

mondaychristinesarahmelinda

  • When you see this photo in the Facebook group, you will see the leader start introductions and the discussion right under the photo. It’s exciting and fun! If you stay with the same group long enough then you will discover friendships as you study and pray together.
  • To join a facebook group, visit our ministry page and look for the “chatroom” links: http://facebook.com/womensbiblecafe

Odds and Ends For Online Bible Study

  • We alternate long studies with shorter studies. So if we are leading a 10-week study then we often follow with a 6-week study.
  • If you are not interested in the current study we are leading, then consider some of the other online Bible studies offered by ministries such as Girlfriends in God, Proverbs 31 and Precepts. We encourage you to attend a local study such as Bible Study Fellowship or Community Bible Study.

 

Creating a Spiritual Journal for Bible Study

Creating a Spiritual Journal for Bible Study

As with each of our online studies, we encourage you to keep a spiritual journal.  You can purchase a journal or create your own. Here are a few samples to help you get started with your first spiritual journal for Bible study.

Stasia has her journal divided into sections labeled Prayer, Memory Verses, Discussion Questions, and What God is Speaking to My Heart.

 

Stasia’s Method:

  1. Memory work. Some I have in my brain, some I do not, all need to be reviewed for me to continue to be resting in the Father’s Loving Embrace on a daily basis. I go through all the verses weekly. I use 3 by 5 cards… which I lost in the move so I have to rewrite them. THIS particular list came from a simple little book called 100 Bible Verses Every Christian Should Know. It was a pretty good book.
  2. Front of journal. I move from front to back as a journal so to speak. I use these pages to note what the Lord is showing me. I use MANY post its through out the week… and post them in the pages. At the end of the week I compile them and re write each one into the journal. This give me opportunity to praise the Lord for things that have been resolved by the end of the week, or to just giggle at my own human-ness… (just being honest ladies)
  3. Back of journal. Since the leadership training years ago I move from front to back keeping a journal (like a diary) and from back to front as a prayer journal.. when they meet in the middle I get a new journal
  4. Reminder cards. Cards I keep in the pocket to remind me of WHO God is… (Stasia made these cards for herself)

Michelle has divided spiritual journal by name and prayer needs.

Michelle’s Method:

  1. She is using index cards and a binder from Office Depot
  2. She created a section for her husband, herself and each of her kids.
  3. She is dating the requests or “conversation” she is having with God day by day. “I’m not rewriting something that is already there, but I am adding to it as I go along,” she says.
  4. She bought extra large index cards and hole-punched them to fit. She can take them out or move them around and rearrange them .

Sheree has a very simple method. She says, “I wanted to share my simple Spiritual Journal that I setup for my study, for those of you, like me, who still journal the old fashioned way.”

spiritual Journal

“This is just a simple spiral notebook, and you can buy sticky tabs to label the sections of your journal. This spiral notebook came with the multi-colored sticky notes that will be handy to mark your favorite places in the Bible study. The front cover will hold our Scripture memory cards that are found in the back of the Study Workbook. Each week during my daily study, when I open my journal, I will see my Scripture Memory card for that week. Then the next week, I’ll add the next Scripture reference card for that week’s memory work. The first few pages of my journal is labeled “prayer requests,” and it has several pages of “things to do” which is where my prayer requests will go. Just thought I would share this simple tool with you.”

 journal

Lastly, I’ve divided mine into daily lessons, weekly summary, prayer requests and small groups. I keep a list of all the women participating in my small groups, and then pray for them by name during the course of the week. I also keep attendance in my groups… and send weekly event reminders to the women who are growing spiritually with me through Bible study.

These are just some of the ideas for creating a spiritual journal, we’d like to hear yours too! Post a comment below and encourage others!

Ideas for 40 Days of Fasting

Ideas for 40 Days of Fasting

Throughout biblical history we see 40 days of testing, waiting and drawing closer to God. Ash Wednesday and Lent typically mark a spiritual quest for Christians, though it’s often recognized as a Catholic tradition. It’s a time of prayer, service, sacrifice and self-examination.  Look beyond the face of religion and into the heart …and see if God is calling you for the next 40 days. Does He want your attention and your heart focused on Him?

Forty-day spiritual journeys are well known in the Bible.  In Genesis 7 Noah spent 40 days and nights on a boat while God destroyed everything he had created. In Exodus 34 Moses was on the mountain with God 40 days without eating bread or drinking water, while God wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 16:35 the Israelites ate manna 40 days until they arrived in the promised land. They then suffered 40 years in the wilderness for disobeying God. In Deut 2:7  we’re reminded “The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. ”

Jesus was called by God and immediately a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Mark 1:11-13 NIV

Below are some ideas about spending 40 days with God.

Fasting 40 Days

Financial Fast- One year my husband and I decided to give up (fast from)  all luxury expenses. Since we use budgeting software, we were able to look at 12 months of luxury expenses (pizza, movies, coffee drinks, dining out, etc) and estimate the daily cost. We multiplied the cost by 40 days and then gave up these luxuries with a promise to God to give the money saved to charity. In the final two weeks my husband lost his job and we were tempted to keep the money. By faith, we donated the money and trusted God with our finances. By blessing others we were blessed by God. We learned how to live on less and continued to give up luxuries until he found new employment.  It was truly amazing!

Food- Another year, we practiced traditional fasting by giving up specific foods or eating at specific times of the day. You can learn more about this in the popular book Fasting by Jentezen Franklin. The concept is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. One word of caution when fasting: watch your blood sugar! I ended up hospitalized after 40 days of liquids until 5pm and light meals in the evening. Know your threshold and guard your health.

Events- My children are making decisions about their own level of participation. They might fast from television, texting, Facebook or specific foods such as sweets, pizza or fast food. I’ve been fasting from technology each week, filling my day with scripture, fellowship and prayer. Unplug from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social sites… and plug in to Jesus. Finish a Bible study you never completed. Devote some time to Him…and be richly blessed.

40 Days of Prayer

Devotionals- Now is a good time to start reading a devotional and praying each day. One of the popular devotionals is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, where each day you read a sample of what Jesus might write to you.  The Life Application Study Bible Devotional is more scripture based and focuses on Jesus’ life as seen through scripture. My Utmost for His Highest is a classic devotional with powerful words. I enjoy reading the Henry Blackaby devotional Experiencing God Day-by-Day and the Christine Caine devotional Living Life Undaunted.

Psalms- Pick up your bible and pray through the Psalms each day or read the book Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness by Nan C Merrill. As you read the verses, focus your mind on how you can apply the verses to your life today. Select a few favorites and memorize them.

Prayer Walk- Each day when you exercise (or just driving the car to work and carpool) go on a “prayer walk.” Notice your surroundings and pray for those people around you. Pray for your neighbors as you walk past their homes, pray for the person parked at the stoplight beside you, pray for those people in your path. Read the book PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by Janet Holm McHenry.

Body Prayer- During the next 40 days, pray through your body. Start at your feet and toes and pray something similar to this “Lord, examine my toes and feet. Search for anything that is not pleasing to you, find anything that is toxic and does not honor you. Wash over my feet and toes with the blood of Jesus and allow my feet and toes to honor Him.” Repeat for each body part, from toes to head as you lie in bed and prepare to fall asleep.

Read-The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren. The book has 40 chapters and is designed to be read one chapter, one day at a time for 40 days.

Memorize Scripture- Get some index cards and write out scripture verses to memorize. I use a spiral notebook, small enough for my handbag so I can carry it with me. There are also apps for your smartphone or computer which help memorize scripture. Make sure the verse is visible so you can read it often during the week. To help you better understand scripture, read Rick Warren’s 40 Days in the Word

Pray For a Child- If you are a parent or grandparent, pray for your children each day for the next 40 days. Pray for your nieces and nephews. If you sponsor a child through Compassion International, Gospel of Asia or World Vision then spend the next 40 days praying for your child. Pray for children who are waiting to be adopted. For the next 40 days, find children you can pray for.

Pray For a Relationship- Pray for your spouse, friend, boyfriend or a relationship. Focus each day on the same person and spend 40 days covering this person with your prayers.

Pray for Your Coworkers- Print a copy of the company directory or write a few names down on paper and pray for these people during the next 40 days. Pray for them to know Jesus, for peace and hope  in their lives and for God to reveal Himself to them. Pray with expectation for goodness, peace, joy and hope in their lives.

Pray the Names of God- In the Experiencing God workbook, there is a long list of the names of God in scripture. Print this list and pray daily on His name and character. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Him through His name. You can also find a book on this by Ann Springer called Praying the Names of God: A Daily Guide

40 Days of Praise

Worship Music  Change the radio station in your car or on your computer to Christian music and listen exclusively for the next 40 days.  Scan YouTube for Christian songs and save your favorites in your profile. Listen to www.KLOVE.com on your computer or in the car. When I’m carpooling my kids will say “Just to warn you, my Mom likes to listen to this stuff!” Often their friends reply “Don’t worry, my Mom does it too!”  We also play Christian music on our television when we’re at home… you can find it on satellite or cable if you search around the channels.

Journal- Get a fresh notebook and journal your gratitude to God. Read the popular book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and make a decision to start noticing the gifts God has bestowed upon you. This is especially wise if you are under a cloud of unemployment, financial worries, health problems or relationship troubles. Count your blessings for the next 40 days. You can find a FREE app for your smartphone or iPad and record your gratitude via Ann Voscamp. Create a Spiritual Journal by listing prayer requests and Bible study notes during the next 40 days.  I’m using the Markings by C.R. Gibson Brown Ruled Paper Bonded Leather Journal and I put tabs at the top to divide it into Daily Study, Weekly Study, Small Group and Prayer. I carry this to my church group and use at home for my Bible study.

Beauty Treatments- When is the last time you used your body as praise to God? Created in His image…when you look in the mirror do you see the child He loves or something less beautiful in your own eyes? Explore opportunities to honor your body and treat yourself as a son or daughter of the King. What would you eat as His child? How would you dress? What would you do to maintain the body He created for you? Put this thought into your heart, pray over it and see if you need “40 days of beauty treatments” in the name of the Lord.  Start praying on Psalm 139 each day and make a commitment to be fearfully and wonderfully made. Exercise, eat right and take care of the body God designed for you.

40 Days of Giving

Giving Letters- In our modern day it’s rare to receive a letter or even a Christmas letter. Most people use the speed of text messages, email and Facebook posts. Why not break tradition and mail a handwritten letter, once a day, for 40 days. Mail to a prison ministry, a senior home, the teachers at your child’s school, or a network of friends.

Giving Joy- Read the book Spreading Joy Daily by Marie Wikle and find ways to share the love of Christ with others. The book is filled with simple ways to make a difference.

Cooking- If you are making a family meal, double the batch of spaghetti, soup, stew or lasagna. Package this with a loaf of bread and deliver it to your neighbors, family member or a coworker. Use the element of surprise and make their day special when you bring an unexpected meal. Make a batch of cookies, brownies or cupcakes and each day during the week find someone you can share them with.

Giving Your Time- Spend 40 days giving your time and attention to your friend, spouse, children or family members. Pull yourself away from Facebook and social media, from the distractions of the television or internet…and center your time on someone else. Make a list with the number 1-40 and each day write a name of someone you are going to give time to. You can make a phone call, send an email, mail a card, or visit in person. Take the focus off yourself and your needs and give time to someone else.

These are just a few ideas to start you thinking about your own 40-day spiritual journey. The decision to spend 40 days focused on God is yours alone. Pray over this and see if you are led to do something or possibly wait for another time. Know that during your 40 days with God you will attract the attention of the enemy and he will throw flaming arrows your way. Stand firm with the shield of faith and keep your eyes and heart on God.

We’d like to hear your ideas. Post a comment below and share your ideas for a 40 day journey.


Bible Shopping 101

Bible Shopping 101

Saying you need a Bible for a Bible study sounds a bit silly, except that I attended My First Women’s Bible Study without one. It gave me the opportunity to fill my thought closet with words of incompetence and I went on a shopping spree for the “perfect Bible.”

bible shopping 101

My Bible purchase began with a phone call to my older sister, a Christ-walking Bible carrying woman. I knew she would have the answer since she’s friends with our pastor, and she did. My sister told me Pastor Steve recommends the Life Application Bible and even suggested that I would prefer the “large print” version. I wrote this down on paper and drove 30 minutes to the closest Christian Bookstore.

With my slip of paper, I asked the salesperson at the Christian Bookstore to locate the Large Print Life Application Bible. As a new Believer, I was full of pride knowing I could describe the Bible I wanted! There were at least 200 different Bible choices at this store, all sitting behind the counter of the salesperson’s register. If you wanted to buy a Bible, you were required to ask for a Bible.

My salesperson looked me in the eye and said “Which translation?” I thought about this, then said “You know, the Life Application One.”

She replied, “NIV, KJV, or another?”

Okay, I was feeling silly again. I did not research this (translation, I did not ask my big sister which translation I needed). Thus ensued a lengthy conversation with the Bible salesperson as she explained the benefits of the translations. Eventually I selected the NIV New International Version translation.

Once I selected the Bible translation, and the Life Application Large Print Bible, I found a slight problem: the Bible was too heavy! It was so heavy, that I could not carry it to church. I couldn’t hold my Starbucks coffee or hold the hand of my young child, so she would not disappear in a crowd of 5,000 people! It was not convenient for Sunday church, so eventually I purchased a “thinline” Bible to place inside my handbag and carry to church.

Another mistake I made with my purchase was the Bible translation. My pastor and the leader of my Women’s Bible Study both use the King James Version. Sitting in church with my personal Bible on my lap, I read a different translation than Pastor Steve and lost my focus. Now I leave my heavy Large print Life Application NIV Bible and my Thinline NIV Handbag Bible at home, and use one of the church provided KJV Bibles with the old smelly papers, tiny print and red ink. Hey, at least I’m in the same translation when the Pastor speaks! I have the Bible Gateway phone app…and I’ve started using that, but it distracts me to have my phone turned on while in Church,

At home and for Bible study, I continue to use my own Bible. This large print application Bible has become as common to me as my daily cup of coffee. Each morning in study, I sit with the words of truth and study the Bible.

Stasia Nielsen, Womens Bible Cafe™ Leader says this: As a missionary, we have traveled the world endeavoring to get the Word of God into the hands of those who do not have the great privileges we have here in modern society. I know one missionary, who while in prison in China, had but one page of Philippians that they kept crumpled in their clothing. He memorized it, and when he was beaten he would repeat the words over and over in comfort. He was eventually released. His story inspired me to memorize that book of the Bible. As a new Christian, I read King James Version as I felt it was closest to the original. As a new missionary, I chose the NIV because it was easier to read, and memorize and share with others. More recently I chose the New King James Version, because again it is the closest to the original without the old language that can be hard to understand from the King James Version.

My recommendation for your Bible purchase is to find one that works best for you. Go to the Christian Bookstore and discover the vast selection that awaits your purchase. Savor the different sizes, weights, leather colors and translations.

Once you select the Bible you like, have fun shopping for the perfect “Bible Cover.” Apparently they come in different sizes! They’re like shoes- you have to try them on your bible for the perfect fit! Find what Bible you’re comfortable with and then use it until it wears out….

These Are the Bibles I’m Using Today

Note: The KeyWord Bible is very difficult to use. I carry the thinline Bible to church in the translation my pastor reads from. The print is super tiny, though the Bible does fit in my purse. 

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With Love,

christine abraham

My First Bible Study

My First Bible Study

firstbiblestudy

My first womens bible study was called “Why Godly People Do Ungodly Things” by Beth Moore, not exactly the most appealing title! However, it was the only study offered at my church and I wanted to grow in faith, so I enrolled in the study. Hesitant and turned off by the title, I arrived on the first day of the study, grabbed my workbook from the stack of books, and then turned around and headed out the door. I was too uncomfortable and felt out of place. As I was leaving the church, a friend saw me and questioned me. When I told her about my lack of commitment and uncertainty about the book subject, she grabbed both my eyes with hers and gave me “the talk.”

The talk my friend gave me changed my life and placed me directly before God and my bible. She has no idea…God simply used her through our relationship and the glory goes to Him, not to the friend. In fact, today, I can no longer remember her name…she was a distant friend, an acquaintance. John C Maxwell once said “You never know when God will use you to be a miracle in someone else’s life.” He used my friend that day.

As I was pulling away from Bible study, and away from God, my friend interrupted my path. She explained to me how Satan, the father of all lies, would do everything in his power to keep me from Bible study. She revealed to me that Satan did not want me to know scripture, and more importantly, he did not want me to have an intimate relationship with God. If I listen to the small voice in my head, making so many excuses for not going to the bible study, then I was following Satan and not God. She encouraged me to listen to my heart.

With my heart I knew I wanted to be closer to God, know more of His word and study the Bible. So I made a U-turn in life, redirected my path, and walked into my first bible study.

When I arrived, a welcome group of women invited me in, and started what appeared to be a routine bible study session. Begin with prayer, open your Bibles…

I was in DESPERATE trouble! I did NOT have a bible. I was at my first Bible study and did not think to bring a bible. Actually, I did not even own a bible. Ducking my head in shame, a kind woman offered me the standard church bible from a stack in the back of the room. The church bible had such tiny print, in red letters, I could hardly focus my eyes. I felt so lost…yet so loved…all at the same time.

At the completion of my “Why Godly People Do Ungodly Things” by Beth Moore bible study, I learned two things:

  1. The bible is not just a book with prayers and commandments to memorize, it’s a LIVING love letter from God.
  2. I could not learn this on my own, and needed a Bible leader, such as Beth Moore or Jennifer Rothschild.

Soon I was participating in more small group studies, and found myself exploring workbooks by other authors, such as Max Lucado, Jennifer Rothschild, Priscilla Shirer, Anne Graham Lotz, Kay Arthur, Nancy Lee DeMoss and more. I realize that although I enjoyed Beth Moore studies, I needed to explore other authors as well, or I could easily turn Beth Moore into an idol. Beth didn’t want me to read the Bible for Beth, she wanted me to read the bible for the Lord and to discover God in the pages of scripture. So I balanced my workbooks and study with various authors. In my current bible study plan, I alternate a short 6-week study with a long 10-week Beth Moore study and I find balance.

Now that I’ve shared my first Bible study experience, I’d like to know more about yours. What was your first experience like? Please post a comment below!