I Did It On Purpose

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Melissa Sherlin here!

I’m so excited to be with ya’ll today!

I want to begin by sharing something in Chapter 1:

Keep It Shut Chapter 1.2 Quote“How I use my words, whether for good or for evil, can often, although not always, be traced back to the quality time I am (or am not) spending with the Lord each day, how intentional I am about investing in my relationship with him, and whether or not I am taking steps to become more like his Son, Jesus Christ.” (pg. 18 paperback) ~ Karen Ehman, #KeepItShutBook

I recently asked several women what their biggest struggle is in studying God’s Word. Making time was at the top of the list.

No matter what season of life you may be in right now, there is always going to be something else fighting for your time.  Being intentional means that you have determined to make something a priority. Easy enough right? Yeah, not so much … here is where it can get tricky.

You see, I am intentional to make sure my alarm is set for 5 a.m., when I have to be at work the next day. Although I really love my job, I really dread that alarm. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  I would much rather go to work when I feel like it and it fits into MY schedule. Some days I would much rather be meeting my friend for lunch.

Sadly, I sometimes approach my time with God this way.  I treat it as a duty, something on my list to check off. I’ll do it when it fits into MY schedule …  just have so much to do, and when I get still and quiet enough, I just want to sleep! I don’t want to approach God or His Word that way! Just being totally honest with you today! Can anyone else relate?

Speaking of meeting a friend for lunch, I recently had the opportunity to meet my dear friend and P31OBS sister Sarah Travis for lunch.  I blocked off half my day, then drove an hour and a half to meet her.  I was so excited to meet up with her, share what was on my heart, and listen to what was on hers.  I got up early, picked out my clothes, and then spent some time reading my Bible before I had to leave.  This time was interrupted by my crazy dog that loves to break free and “visit” with the neighbors.  I ended up chasing this dog around the neighborhood in my pajamas!  I didn’t get much reading done; in fact, this is all that I read that morning:

God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud …” ~ Genesis 9:12-14

That’s it. Just two little verses!  I had intentionally set apart some time to read my Bible, but it was interrupted by the craziness of life.  I went on with my plans to meet my friend. During the drive to meet her, I prayed for God to meet us there and bless our time together.  Here is a pic of us meeting that day:


As I was driving Sarah back to her car, I suddenly spotted a rainbow! I shouted, “Take a picture!”  I thought of those verses that I had read that morning.  That still small voice suddenly became alive and active to me.  I knew God had put it there just for me just like he did for so many other generations before. What if I hadn’t read those words that day?  Would I have even noticed the rainbow peeking out of the clouds?  If I had, would I have known that God was speaking to me?  

I want to approach God and His Word with excitement!  I want to show up and share with Him what’s on my heart, and listen to what He has to say.  How will I recognize that still small voice if I don’t show up to meet Him?

I have to be intentional to spend time with Him.  Here are some ways that I’m working on being more intentional:

  • Be intentional to show up.
  • Be intentional to pray before reading and ask God to speak to me through his Word.
  • Be intentional when the pastor/teacher/speaker says something I don’t understand to jot it down for further review.
  • Be intentional to seek God in all aspects of my life. (The good, bad & the ugly!)
  • Be intentional to identify any barriers to my time in God’s Word.  Time management, understanding, boredom, etc.
  • Be intentional to use whatever resources I have available to me. (My Bible, Bible app or the Bible online)
  • Be intentional to let the Word of God transform me.

I believe when we intentionally seek him with our heart we will find him! Let’s seek God this week and spend some time reading our Bibles. Here’s how we can get started:

  • Set a goal for yourself (Specific days, hours, times or verses to read — whatever works for you! )
  • Don’t know where to start? ~ (Look up any of the verses in chapters 1 or 2 and read the whole chapter where they are found. Or look up some of the over 3,500 verses Karen mentions on this topic.)
  • Let’s pray before we start each day ~ (Read Jeremiah 33:3)
  • Let’s see if spending time in HIS Word affects our words.

Social Media (optional)

Let’s encourage one another on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter!  Use the hashtags #P31OBS  #KeepItShutbook #BeIntentional and post a pic of you and your Bible, Bible app or just your Bible.  (Make sure to make the post public so the whole OBS community can encourage one another! )

****Two of you who comment below will win a Keep It Shut book and Keep It Shut Conference Call Series!  Winners will be emailed Thursday afternoon.

Let’s Chat:

  • Do you struggle with being intentional with your Bible study?  If so, what is your greatest obstacle?
  • Do you have a scheduled time that you read your Bible?  If not share your goal with us. Let’s be accountable to each other.
  • Do you find that it helps to pray before reading your Bible?

See you tomorrow when Erin will be with us to discuss Chapter 2, “Squabbles, Spats, & Such How to Communicate with Family, Friends, and Other Necessary People.” (That sounds like fun!)

Have an INTENTIONAL day!

Melissa Sherlin 🙂

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Digging Deeper: Cross-referencing

Sarah TravisHey friends! It’s Sarah Travis joining you today from the corner seat of my sofa in our wee (that’s Scottish for little) apartment in Arlington, Va.

Can I be real with y’all today? I love all the Bible apps available to load on our phones, tablets and computers. I’m so thankful I can pull up the Bible instantly and read it anytime and anywhere! But, for me, nothing can replace the feel of holding my Bible in my hands and thumbing my way through the pages.

I love to turn to a verse and see where I’ve read and taken notes before. I love to flip between books of the Bible and often find myself using all my fingers keeping my place as I study and link verses throughout Scripture together.

Do you have your Bible with you today?  If not, go get it if you can, because I have an insightful and fun Bible study skill to share with you today! It’s called “Cross-referencing.”  Allow me to explain~

****Note from Melissa Taylor…sorry y’all I just had to interrupt Sarah’s post to make sure you watch this video for 2 reasons. First, Sarah is a great Bible teacher and makes learning fun. Second, she has the best accent in the history of the world! Check this out from my sweet Scottish friend:

If you can’t see the video above, please click here: https://vimeo.com/118524492

The whole idea behind cross-referencing is to let Scripture interpret itself. If you are unsure of the meaning of a verse, you can search the Bible and find other verses that reference the same themes, words, events, or people to gain a deeper understanding.

Let’s take a deeper look at this week’s memory verse:

KISWeekTwoVerse (2)

“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Psalm 34:11 (NIV)

As you saw in the video, I have the ESV Study Bible and I love taking notes! I showed you how cross-referencing works in a Study Bible, but don’t worry if you don’t have access to one. Another great way to find cross-references for Scripture is by using one of the many online Bible study websites that are available.

Bible Hub is one of my go-to websites. If you go to http://www.biblehub.com/ and type Psalm 34:11 in the bar at the top, this screenshot below is the page you will be taken to (or click on the image below).

Bible Hub

  • Look on the right of the page (screen) and you will see the word “Context.”
  • Beneath the “Context” section, you will see “Cross References.”
  • Under “Cross References,” scroll down and there will be list of other verse cross-referencing our memory verse, Psalm 34:11!

The great thing about searching online is that you can just click on the verse and it will take you there! Quick and easy!

Today, let’s dig deeper into God’s Word by cross-referencing and see what the Lord teaches us. ***Warning, this activity is so exciting … you may find yourself getting carried away, leave your bed unmade, and possibly study through a meal time! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!***

Digging Deeper Challenge:

Download this cross-referencing activity to help you get started:

[easy_media_download url=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/p31obs/KIS/Cross+Referencing+PDF.pdf” text=”http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/01/DownloadNow.OBS_.1.jpg”]


For those who want more:

Why not cross-reference one, two … or all of the “Top Ten Verses To Help You Watch Your Words” Karen lists in Chapter 4: Zip It and Pray (page 75 in the Keep It Shut paperback).

Let’s Chat:

  • Do you think cross-referencing can help you learn more about Scripture? Why or why not?
  • What did you learn from cross-referencing Psalm 34:11?

I hope you enjoyed today’s Bible study skill as much as I did!

Happy cross-referencing!

Sarah 🙂


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Bible Study Skills: Understanding the Bible

IMG_20150129_175546 (1)Hi all — it’s Melissa Sherlin!  I’m so excited to be here with you again this week!  I have really enjoyed being more intentional and cross-referencing with you all!

“What do you do when you’re being intentional to read your Bible, but you still don’t understand it?”

That was a question that I asked my Sunday school teacher as a young girl. I had the desire to get to know God through reading the Bible,  but honestly I couldn’t understand it. Back then, reading all of the “Thees, Thous and Thines” just wasn’t working for me.

I may be dating myself here just a bit, but there were no online Bible studies, no smartphone apps, and there was NO INTERNET!!!  It was just me and my KJV Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I love the King James Version, but at that time in my life the language was way above my head. I had no idea there were other versions of the Bible out there!

I didn’t give up though. I continued reading  it, but boy, I was still struggling.

As an adult, I remember going into a Christian bookstore and being just overwhelmed by all of the choices! (Think Belle from Beauty and the Beast when she sees the library for the first time.) So many versions, sizes,  styles  and … OH.MY.STARS! There was a PINK Bible!

That was it! After spending hours in the store agonizing over all of the choices, I chose one based solely on my favorite color! (It was a sign, right?) I don’t know about that,  but when I got it home and began reading it, I hardly even noticed at first that I was actually understanding what I was reading and it was interesting!

I had found a version of the Bible with language that I could understand! This may sound so simple to some,  but for me it was literally life changing!

So how can you find a version that best suits you, without spending hours in a bookstore or spending lots of money until you figure it out?

One of my favorite Bible study tools is called an online parallel Bible.

What does an online parallel Bible do?

  • It puts different versions/translations of the Bible side by side.
  • It can enhance your understanding of the verses that you’re reading in your version.
  • It allows you to look verse-by-verse, or you can expand it to chapters.

Although I now have a favorite version of the Bible, I still use this tool to deepen my understanding. Check out this video to see how I use it:

Click here to view the video if you can’t see it in your email.

Wasn’t that easy? Having this tool available to me has helped me so much, and it has also allowed me to read some of my favorite scripture verses in versions that I may have never seen without it.

  • Look up Romans 12:1-2 in your favorite version of the Bible  and use the parallel tool to read it side by side with The Message version. (It’s pretty powerful!)
  • Look up some of your favorite verses or chapters using the online parallel Bibles.

 Other ways to dig deeper this week:

  • Author of Keep it Shut, Karen Ehman, gave us some fabulous Bible study skill tips in her book (pgs 73-76). If you missed them, I urge you to check those out!
  • Join us tomorrow for a hour of fun Bible study on Facebook, at Bible Study Live.
  • If you missed last week’s post on cross-referencing, check it out here.


Do you use a parallel Bible to help you in your Bible study? How do you think it could be helpful?

Did you look up Romans 12:1-2 in The Message version? Did you find it as powerful as I did?


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