Last month I went Bible shopping with my family and we had so much fun! One lady was there looking for her first Bible and said “Your family is so entertaining, I’ve never had so much fun!” All I can say is that we looked like characters from a popular reality television show with the initials “DD.”
My kids needed Bibles for summer camp. My 12 year old daughter is upgrading from her purple princess Bible with crystal beads. I showed her a Life Application Study Bible in small size and she says “Mom, I don’t need THAT!!! All I want is Bible with just the words, nothing else!”
My teenager daughter rolls her eyes, says “I don’t need one, they share the verses on the screen anyway!” When her sister picks out a cool Bible suddenly she “needs” one too.
My husband says “I love my Bible, and I don’t need a new one because I bring my iPad to church.”
I scan the rows back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I picked up every Bible that caught my eye; most were pink or purple leather. I look at the translations, I say “this one is too heavy” or “the print is too tiny.” Finally I find one that is called “Large Print Compact Bible” and the cover is so beautiful, I MUST have it. My husband asks “How many Bibles do you own already?” The woman observing us just burst out laughing.
I explained to my captive audience “I have the first Bible I learned from, my Life Application Bible Large Print and it’s too heavy for church. So I bought a Thinline Bible for church and the print is so small I can’t see it. Then I have my Inductive Study Bible and the chapters do not have descriptions, you need to write them in yourself. I have my Leadership Bible, Commentary Bible (s) and my all time favorite is the Spirit-Filled Bible but it’s not in the translations I like using right now.” I forgot to mention that I also have Greek-Hebrew Keyword Bible, probably because I never use this one.
Finally my husband and kids get to the cashier and she asks “Do you want your name embossed on the cover?” So my husband yells across the Christian bookstore/coffee shop “Honey, do we want the kids names printed on the Bible?” I yell back “Well, they are going to summer camp with 700 kids so it would be nice.” As the kids Bibles are being embossed, I decide on a Bible to purchase for myself (the one in this photo). My husband yells, “Honey, do you want yours embossed too?” I yell back, “No thank you. The cover is so pretty I don’t want to mess it up.” He pays for my Bible and then says “Happy Mother’s Day” to which the jaws drop on the people around us. He continues “I know Father’s Day is tomorrow so today’s the last day to get you a gift.” I am hysterical with laughter while the other Christians in the store are hiding smiles behind their hands.
The kids are delighted and we finally left the store with three Bibles, two which are embossed with names.
Yes, we were THAT family Bible shopping 🙂
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.
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:
- The bible is not just a book with prayers and commandments to memorize, it’s a LIVING love letter from God.
- 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!