Monday Morning Prayer

You rescued us from this evil world in which

This morning I woke early to begin an online Bible study with the ladies of Love God Greatly.  It begins in Galatians with the apostle Paul writing to the churches of Galatia defending a threat made against him while he had been traveling through the area doing mission work.

Paul was accused by some Jewish Christians of watering down the faith in order to win over Gentiles.  The Jewish Christians disagreed that Gentiles did not have to follow Jewish laws first in order to be saved.  The Jewish stated that these Gentiles must be circumcised first.

This dispute, however, was settled in the book of Acts, chapter 15 when Paul stood before the Jerusalem council and said in verses 7-11,

Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe.  God, who knows people’s hearts, confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he gave him to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for he also cleansed their hearts through faith.  Why are you now burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?  We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the special favor of the Lord Jesus.”

Jesus – Son of God,

Thank you for dying for the sins of ALL mankind just as God had planned from the beginning.  You knew we could not keep your laws and You loved us enough to give us a way out.  You became the sacrifice that would cleanse every believer so that we could spend eternity with You in Heaven.  You rescued us from this evil world in which we live and that is why all glory belongs to God through all the ages of eternity.  (Gal 1:4-5)

~ In Jesus Name, Amen!

Happy Labor Day!

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Trust + Obey

Good morning SJM readers!  I am so thankful for my friend and fellow SJM contributor, Nicole.  Just when I think I won’t have anything prepared for the blog because LIFE got away with me, she pulls through.  When one of us has writer’s block the other can’t stop writing. That’s how God works when he has a plan.  There is no stopping him.

Thank you, Nicole!  You are awesome and I thank God for you.



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I’m not much of a daredevil, adventure seeker, or risk taker. I’m not an adrenaline junkie and I don’t get ‘high’ from thrills like skydiving or bungee jumping. The most exciting things I’ve done include screaming on roller coasters at Six Flags, riding a camel in Jerusalem, and having a baby. Some people might say I’m boring. I suspect Jesus’ 12 disciples were run-of-the-mill boring men too. They were happy and content with their lives, but Jesus asked for more. He wanted them to trust and obey Him, and the result was amazing.

When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.” So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. ~ Luke 5:4-11 (Common English Bible)

Row out farther, into the deep water. Jesus instructed the men to go out farther away from shore. He asks us to step outside our comfort zone too. Most times, we’re hesitant, afraid of the unknown, and skeptical. The water is deep and our feet don’t touch the bottom. We’re unsure about the future because the plan is beyond our control or understanding.

We’ve worked hard and caught nothing. I sympathize with Simon Peter here. How often have I given 100% towards a task yet no one notices or the results were not what I expected. Or, like many people, I’m tired and have nothing to show for my efforts.

Then, something amazing happens …..

 Because you say so, I’ll drop the nets. Because God calls me outside my comfort zone, I will swim in deep water. Because He has my best interests at heart, I’ll trust and obediently follow Him. Because He is Lord, I will.

Even though we are tested, our faith (our lives) rests on a foundation that cannot (will not) be shaken by deep waters, fears of the unknown, or empty fish nets.

I cannot fault the fishermen in Jesus’ time, as they were real humans with real doubt and skepticism. But their faith overcame these obstacles and they completely trusted their Master (Jesus). Their reward for being obedient was not just a few fish, but two boats so full they almost sank. God could have given the men enough to fill their nets, but He is not satisfied with enough – and neither should we. God chose to rock their world by demonstrating his extravagant generosity and abundance on a grand scale, just like His love for us!

 They left everything and followed Jesus. Amazing things happen when we let go of bad habits and stay on the straight and narrow path of righteousness. God does not guarantee life without pain, hardship, or heartache, sometimes our efforts will go unnoticed and unappreciated, but, because He is Lord God, amazing things will happen if we’re willing to trust and obey Him.




Nicole 2


Taking Another Break and a Giveaway – Updated!

Do you ever feel Satan is trying to stop you from what you know God has asked you to do?I am sure I’m not the only one.  But, I’m not going to let the devil win.  Although I’m taking a short break this Saturday from writing to tote my son and his teammates to a basketball tournament, it’s not a total loss for all you SJM readers.

I’m leaving you with another giveaway.  This giveaway is much like the last one, except new and improved!  That is, this book is updated and revised.

Prayers for my Teen Revised book cover

Prayers for my Teen Revised book back

You’ve seen me write about teenagers, Mark Gregston, and his ministry – Heartlight Ministries – as well as his website Parenting Today’s Teens.  I love that website and I love praying for my teens and their friends.


I apparently broke a rule asking for “Likes” on the Sweet Jesus Girls Facebook page to enter this giveaway!  Oops!  Lesson learned.  Thanks to my friend, Nicole, for telling me before I got into real trouble.

So to enter just leave a comment.  And if you’d like to “Like” Sweet Jesus Girls on FacebookNicole, Cristi and I would love it!

Winner will be announced Thursday!

Have a great weekend!

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Bible Study – Using the S.O.A.P Method

How many times have you opened your Bible with such a lack of direction that you found yourself discouraged and gave up on learning it?  Today, contributor Nicole Hutchison of Three 31 talks about how to use the S.O.A.P. method when studying scripture.  This method is simple, thought provoking and keeps prayer laced into each passage.
At the bottom of Nicole’s post, I’ve created a free resource from SJM you can print to help you in your studies.
Nicole quote
Here’s Nicole:
Since 2010, studying the Bible has become a priority and something I enjoy, rather than another dreadful item on the to-do list. I am grateful for a faithful accountability community, mentors who have devoted years to reading and studying God’s Word, for encouraging me to dig deeper into Scripture. 

There are many ways to study the Bible, but one of the easiest is called the S.O.A.P. method, which stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

 To illustrate the S.O.A.P. method, I’ll share a personal example using 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
God’s temple is holy and the Holy Spirit lives in me. My body and mind are His temple because He is within me. If I choose to eat unhealthy foods, I am destroying my body and God’s dwelling place. If I choose not to exercise, I am not strengthening my body to do God’s work. If jealousy, anger, or pride control my thoughts, I am conforming to the world instead of being transformed by my Savior. 
Satan knows my weaknesses and seeks them out daily. I’m comforted knowing that I’m not the only person tempted by food. When Eve was tempted (Genesis 3:6), she lost control and tasted the forbidden fruit. When Jesus was tempted with food, He quoted Scripture (Luke 4:3). I want to be like Jesus! In order to be more Christ-like, I need to: practice self-control when eating and make better choices; discipline myself to exercise daily; and, appreciate the precious gifts of a healthy mind and body. Satan likes when I feel bitter, sad, discontent, or unworthy. But God lives in me and protects me.
 Loving God, you made me in your image and you know the number of hairs on my head and freckles on my nose. You know me better than I know myself. I confess that I have taken advantage of the body and mind you have entrusted to me. I have made poor decisions and I am sorry. When I am doubtful, encourage me. When I need self-control, empower me. When I become prideful, humble me. These things I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

Reading the Bible is one thing, but to immerse yourself in Scripture and study its context, characters, and lessons is taking it to the next level. We live in a fast-paced society and time is of the essence, but God desires a relationship with us. Relationships take time, as well as devotion and commitment. In order to devote time and energy into our spiritual lives, we must slow down and really dig deeper into God’s Word to hear the message He is telling us.

Using the S.O.A.P. method can be both beneficial and convenient. The more you read Scripture, the more you become a spiritual sponge: one who continuously seeks and knows Him. This study method is also convenient because it can take as little as 10 minutes to complete. If you have more time, you can expand your reading, reflection, and prayer responses.

Now, use this S.O.A.P. and start your spiritual cleansing!


Nicole 2

Resource:  As promised, here is the SJM SOAP Tool in a .pdf.  Feel free to print and use as you wish.

Prayers For My Teen Book Giveaway (Winner!)

The winner of the Prayers For My Teen Book is:

Jennifer Higgins

Congratulations Jennifer!  Please contact to claim your book.

Prayers for my teen original book


It’s giveaway time! Most anyone that has a teenager, or at least had a teenager in their lifetime, can tell you there are days when you are just trying to survive. We parents love our teenagers.  This doesn’t mean we always enjoy them.  Teens can be quite crazy at times.  Dealing with them can make a parent feel out-of-control.  During these times, I’ve felt the need to get away and pray. I have searched for biblical guidance.  It has been my experience that finding faith-based encouragement and practical advice when handling teens specifically, is scarce. My husband and I have two teenagers.  Over the past year I have referred time and time again to the advice of a man named Mark Gregston.  Mark and his wife, Jan, run Heartlight Ministries, a residential camp with counseling for teens in the East Texas area.  Each are youth ministers that bring with them 34 years of experience handling teens and troubled teens.  If you have a troubled teen that you feel might benefit from specialized Christian counseling, check out Heartlight Ministries here. Mark also has a website called Parenting Todays Teens where he shares his teaching, counseling advice and encouragement through our teens tumultuous years.  Personally, I love his podcasts/video blog.  They are short and have great practical takeaways. Meanwhile, I’ve ordered a book geared specifically to praying for my teens written by Mark Gregston named Prayers for My Teen. Prayers for my teen original book I ordered a second copy for one lucky giveaway winner! To play, just leave a comment telling me if you have teenagers, going to have teenagers or had teenagers.  In any case, most of us know a teenager that needs our prayers. Speaking of praying for teens ~ I covet your prayers for mine. Open to US residents only. The winner will be announced and emailed Thursday evening. Good luck!

My Joy-Filled Life

Praise and Worship

ocean 1 Chro 16-29

Do you ever feel like your praise and worship lacks sincerity?

I sat down for my quiet time just after getting my people out of the house and to their respective places of work and school.  Rushed and ready to get the rest of my day moving, I began to pray.  Lord, thank you for this day…but immediately it felt insincere and predictable.  As I began again in hopes of expressing my adoration to God, I realized I had nothing to say.

You see, I was absent the day the Lord was handing out the gift of easily praising others.  I am an introvert to the core.  Encouragement and words of praise have never been effortless for me like my extrovert counterparts.  The words spoken seem insincere… unless I write them.  Strange?  Yes, I know.  We introverts have been labeled more than strange at times.

I love my extroverted husband.  He works very hard and provides well for his family.  For this reason, he does not have a lot of household responsibilities.  Just one – trash.

One day he approached me after a not-so-nice conversation between us and said, “I took care of the trash.”  And then he waited for my response.  I regret to tell you that my husband did not get the appreciation he wanted or deserved and proceeded to leave the room.

We have a Savior that dolls out grace and mercy to us minute-by-minute.  I venture to guess that it happens so often that we aren’t even aware much of the time.  Not only does he deserve our praise and thanks, like my husband does when he takes out the trash, but we are commanded to in the Bible:

“Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!” 1 Chronicles 16:29 (NLT)

Romans 8:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit prays for us.  He teaches us how to pray in John 14:26 and He tells us we are loved in Romans 5:5.

Praising and worshiping God is necessary to usher in the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.  Our grateful adoration is an invitation for Jesus to speak to the Father on our behalf.

Although God knows the genuineness of our hearts, let us not assume He knows we adore Him.  Whether you are an extrovert that finds spoken adoration towards the Father easy or you are an introvert who is more comfortable journaling your expressions of love and gratefulness to Him, take the time to sit in silence until He comes.  Then, communicate to God, in Jesus’ name, the best way you are able.   He will help you and He will pray the right words to the Father that God loves to hear from us.

Father God,

I will praise you my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. (Ps 145:1)  Thank you, Jesus, for standing in the gap and speaking to the Lord on my behalf.  When my words of adoration just don’t measure up, your perfect love digs deep into my heart to express what I fall short of communicating.  Teach me, Lord, to praise and worship the Father like you.  In Jesus name, amen!


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My Joy-Filled Life

Scripture and Snapshot
Barbie Swihart

3 Mother’s Day Encouragements

As a mom do you ever feel like you’re doing it all wrong?

This happens to me nearly on a daily basis.  As I struggle to raise Godly children, I find myself constantly crying out to Jesus to stand in the gap for me as I try to do this parenting thing in all the right ways.  I quote my sweet sister-in-law a lot.  Something she said to me one day while I was desperately listening and soaking up her calm wisdom sticks out in my mind as I battle with my own thoughts and desires as a mom –

Heaven, not Harvard.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

How right she is.  It’s a matter of having a heavenly perspective.  Each day raising children who are now teens has produced a sort of death in me that has been for my good.  I realize that I am NOT in control.  Sure, I can control the little things, but the choices my young people make are ultimately theirs.  And I have to be content knowing God has them. He loves them with a fierceness I cannot fathom.  It’s hard to imagine.  But it is true.

So, moms, I encourage you today to continue lifting up your kids in prayer.  Have faith that your prayers are being heard and that your anxieties over their lives and choices can only hinder.  God’s got this, my friend.  Knowing this – I mean really knowing this – brings a peace over me that gets me through the tough moments that inevitably come with being a mom to the beautiful people I am doing my best to see through this world and into God’s hands.

Happy Mother’s Day, friends!


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Check out these 3 sweet Mother’s Day encouragements from people who inspire me to be a better mom.  I hope they inspire you, too.

Happy Mother’s Day from Mark Gregston – Mark Gregston encourages mom’s who think they are not really having an impact on their children.


Mother’s Day Video from Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk as well as a free app developed just for moms, here.

Lysa TerKeurst

And, of course, one of my favorite Christian writers and speakers, Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  I have referred to these 2 posts more times than I can count. 10 Prayers For Your Daughter and 10 Prayers For Your Son.