He Himself Is Our Peace

As we continue our focus on peace this month, I felt led to share an often-neglected spiritual discipline with you as a way to experience God’s peace in your life. Right now.

What follows is a guided meditation on the Word of God based on the Christian spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer. In his classic book on spiritual disciplines (A Celebration of Discipline), Richard Foster observes:

“In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.”

our peaceOne way we can “disengage” from the pressures of the world is with contemplative prayer or Christian meditation. Foster states that words used in Scripture “to convey the idea of meditation” occur more than fifty times—and that’s just in the Old Testament!

“These words have various meanings: listening to God’s word, reflecting on God’s works, rehearsing God’s deeds, ruminating on God’s law, and more. In each case there is stress upon changed behavior as a result of our encounter with the living God. Repentance and obedience are essential features in any biblical understanding of meditation.”

As followers of Christ, we don’t practice meditation for the sake of clearing our minds or relaxation (although relaxation may be a happy outcome just the same). Instead, we meditate on Scripture and the Lord’s promises in order to bring about repentance in our lives: restoration replaces resistance and rebellion; obedience overrides resentment.

“…Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Today’s devotional will walk you through a Scripture-based meditation that centers on Jesus Christ as our source of peace. As you participate in this contemplative prayer, you will focus your thoughts on your relationship with the Lord by coordinating your breathing (inhale/hold/exhale) with a very simple physical action (palms up/palms down). As you exhale, you will confess your sins.

Physical Location

Scriptural meditation and prayer are gifts God gave us to center our attention on Him and experience His peace in the midst of life’s turmoils, no matter where we are physically. In other words, you can meditate anywhere, but a quiet place would be best. You can do this while laying in bed, sitting at the kitchen table, or even holding a baby. You can do this in the waiting room at a hospital, in the break room at work, or in a recliner by the pool. This is a simple, portable spiritual discipline! For example, King David meditated in the middle of the night while he was laying awake in bed:

“When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.”
Psalm 63:6-7 (NKJV)

Intentional Breathing

Breathing. It’s not something we tend to think about, is it? Since we’ve been inhaling and exhaling our whole lives, the thought of intentional breathing might seem silly. But it’s not. Intentional breathing is a way for us to control our bodies and quiet our minds for the purpose of focusing on the Lord and the truths in His Word.

The 12-Second Cycle

The 12-second cycle is pretty simple, and you won’t need to keep counting after you go through it a couple of times. If four seconds is too long, adjust the timing so that you can focus on the Lord and not your breathing.

  • Take a deep breath (inhale 4 seconds)
  • Hold it for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Repeat

Practice the 12-second cycle until you don’t need to count it out (2-3 times is sufficient).

Physical Position

Whether you’re lying down, sitting, or standing, you can intentionally position the palms of your hands facing up (palms up) to symbolize your willingness to receive the Lord’s gift of peace (or anything from Him, for that matter).

Meditation Palms up or Palms down

When you purposefully turn your palms face down (palms down), you are symbolizing your desire to let go of anything standing in the way of your relationship with Him. With a simple turning of the hands, you can physically position yourself to receive from the Lord and let go of distractions and obstacles.

Fellowship thru Contemplative Prayer

Since our theme this month is “peace,” what follows is a meditation on peace—a fruit of the Spirit. We will begin with a “breath prayer”—one word or a short phrase that can be said within one breath. The breath prayer is one way we can stay in touch with the Lord throughout the day. In other words, don’t make the mistake of thinking that prayer is limited to your “quiet time” or time of meditation. You can utter a breath prayer at any time throughout the day to remind yourself not only what you’re giving up, but also what God is doing in your life.

I have written a few “breath prayers” (see below) to help you get started, but you don’t have to use my words! As Richard Foster says,

“Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word…it involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness. The truth of the matter is that the great God of the universe, the Creator of all things desires our fellowship.”

That just rocks my world! God wants fellowship with ME. God wants fellowship with YOU! And, listen, this is far from an exhaustive training on contemplative prayer (a.k.a. Christian meditation). If this is something you find fruitful, then by all means, do additional research. I’ve recommended a few resources for spiritual discipline on my website which you can access here.

seek his peace

Meditation on Peace

So, for now, won’t you take a few minutes to slow down, pay attention, and listen to the Lord? Make space for Him to speak to your heart and allow Him to take on the burdens that are wearing you down.

We will begin with slowing down your breathing, then pray a few sentence prayers, and end with contemplative prayer. The breath prayer is something you can take with you throughout your day to remind you of this time with the Lord and call upon Him in times of need.

If you follow my outline, you will affirm the truth found in Ephesians 2:14a: “For He Himself is our peace.”

It’s time to start the spiritual meditation that follows. Allow God to fill you with His peace as you let go of anything that might be hindering your relationship. It’s highly likely that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you obstacles in your life which are not listed here. Feel free to go “off-script” as you spend quality time with the Lord today. Remember: He. Is. Our. Peace.

Practice breathing the 12-Second Cycle. Move to the next section when you’re ready.

Receive (inhale): Take a deep breath ~ 4 seconds
Affirm (hold): Hold your breath ~ 4 seconds
Release (exhale): Blow out the breath ~ 4 seconds

This section will provide you an opportunity to receive His peace and release various distractions. Move to the next section when you’re ready.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release the turmoil around me to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my stress to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my exhaustion to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my frustrations to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my habit of comparison to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my insecurities to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release any feelings of insignificance to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release all resentment to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my need to control to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my expectations to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my self-centeredness to you.

Receive (inhale): Peace.
Affirm (hold): You, Lord, are my peace.
Release (exhale): I release my _______________________ to you.

This is your time to fellowship with the Lord. Take your time. Don’t rush this part. Slow down. Listen. Pay attention. 

Pray using your own words…or don’t use any words at all. Use your hands as an outward symbol of the posture of your heart: “palms down” as you confess your sins and release your worries to the Lord; “palms up” as you quietly listen for His voice and receive His peace. You won’t necessarily hear an audible voice, but when the Lord speaks, you will recognize Him. If you’re unsure, continue to listen and pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment. What you hear will never contradict Scripture.

This is a one-word prayer you take with you throughout your day. Pray it anytime, anywhere. 

The breath prayer for this meditation is “Peace.”


Memorize & Meditate: Psalm 145

What a powerful way to start off the year by praising God! Take a moment to read through all of Psalm 145 and then dare to go deeper with the study questions below. Remember you can download and print out the passage and these study questions so that you can mark it all up and take notes.


Repeating words/phrases:


The LORD is


I will

List all of “Your” or “His” phrases. What do you learn from this list?



Given this list, who is this about?



The Psalmist lists some actions he is going to take. They begin with “I will”.
List them.







List the actions that both “men” and the next generation will do.









Three times in this passage, verses 8-9, and 17-18, the Psalmist write, “The Lord is…” List the characteristics . (There are 4 in verse 8 alone.)










What does the Lord do for all who fall down in verse 14?


What does the Lord do for those who love Him, verse 20? What does this verse say He will do to the wicked?


Verse 21 concludes by reiterating a commitment to praise the Lord. Who else will praise the Lord? How does Philippians 2.9-11 relate?


Which one of the following causes you to praise the Lord?

His name

His greatness

His works

His mighty acts

His majesty

His goodness

His righteousness

His mercy

His kingdom

His power

His dominion

His hand

His ways

His deeds



Take some time to praise Him now!

Rachael Carman

The Lord Inhabits the Praises of His People

“The Lord inhabits the praises of his people.”

Since I first heard the “praise” theme for our devotionals this month, I haven’t stopped thinking about this quote. While it’s not exact scripture and more of a paraphrase of the rhythmic text in Psalm 22:3

But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”

I don’t know about you, but I need the Lord’s inhabiting of my life. I need His rhythms in my plans and steps. I need Him to abide with me as He promises. If the way to bring Him closer to me is by coming near to Him through praise, count me all in! I’ll be here, hands high, crying from the depths of my soul, the very inmost parts of my spirit, voice rising from the top of my lungs, “I need you more, come, Jesus, come! Inhabit my praises! Abide in me! I want You to be an atmosphere I carry through life!”

praise worthy

My first experience feeling the presence of God through praise was when my husband and I had a very rough season a few years ago. My pastor’s wife calls us, “the most supernatural couple she’s ever seen.” The Lord certainly healed our marriage supernaturally, inhabiting our praises. Through this season, I could’ve chosen to withdraw and especially be angry with God. Instead, my husband and I both chose to draw closer, raise hands higher and praise Him, moment by moment, praising, worshipping and thanking Him right through tears.

Since then, I’ve really learned, and chosen, to recognize and feel God’s abiding presence with me day after day. I seek for places to give Him glory, in all I do. I remember that old Bible school song,
Praise Him, Praise Him. Praise Him in the morning, praise Him in the noon time. Praise Him, Praise Him. Praise Him when the sun goes down.”

No matter our circumstance, it is with head held high and eyes lifted up that the Lord abides with us. Mamas, our families and our children take note of these praises and can’t help but be affected by the indwelling of our sweet Lord and Savior with their mom. You know, it will rub off and get soaked deep down in their beings and some day, they’ll too recall the songs, words and praises their mom sent our Savior, just like I recall those Bible song lyrics. Through my prodigal years and all the way back around to being sold out, on fire, arms high for Jesus, He surely took note of those sweet praises of my youth and has blessed me, and my family as He dwells among us, and you, through our praises.

The Lord Inhabits the Praises

Here are a few practical ways I praise Him morning, noon, and night.

I don’t even get out of my bed in the morning before I talk to my Papa.

I praise Him, I thank Him and I ask Him for strength for the day before I even roll out of bed, make my coffee, walk the dogs, open the app with my Bible reading plan or even kiss my family good morning.

My day becomes an active conversation with God. 

As a busy wife, mom, blogger, travel writer, homeschooler, volunteer, board vice-chair, all of the hats that I wear (and I know you wear, too)… it’s hard to set aside time to “pray without ceasing” as Paul says. But don’t we know our God knows our schedule, too? My prayers become constant and active conversation with my best friend. I speak, and expect Him to answer, and He does. In thoughts, words, through people, surroundings, and experiences. When I had the blessing of traveling to Greece last year, I learned something significant about Paul’s preaching to the Corinthians. He did it in the marketplace. His praises were raised and messages were given to the people right in the center of town, right in the midst of craziness amid the chaos of every day life of grocery shopping, trading wares, and entertainment. There was Paul, shouting out his praises to our Lord. I want to be like Paul, in a constant and unashamed state of praise.

Worshipping Him in the Minivan.

The car rides as a busy mom seems to be never ending. So, let’s use that time as just part of our day to invite him to inhabit our lives. Turn on the worship music. Singing out loud, our hope in Him affects the minds and hearts of our children and, hopefully, will stick with them as long as that Bible school song has stuck with me. I love Seeds Family Worship because their songs are simply scripture set to music. (I think personally I’ve memorized more verses this way than any other!) One time, we had VBS songs on in the car while we were transporting a construction worker! I’ll never forget the look on his tattooed face and can only pray God’s presence of our praises rubbed off on him!

Praise Him Publicly.

  Last week, I was at a theme park with a group of seven kids and before we ate I said, “Ok, who’s praying?” Some of the kids said, “I prayed in my mind.” I said, “well, we praise Him aloud.” And that’s just what we did, holding hands, right there, in the LEGOLAND diner. We pray every time we eat out. I want my kids and those I influence and encounter to know He is worthy, at all times and in all places. I hope my simple example of prayer at the theme park can leave that mark in each mind and heart.

Whatever your way of praising Him morning, noon, and night, I pray that He comes to inhabit your lives, hearts and families more than ever before and you recognize and feel His presence through your praises. Maybe there’s some things I haven’t thought of that you do, too?

Memorize & Meditate {M&M} John 4


Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  Read more…

Repeating words/phrases:







What does verse 4 say about this encounter? Was it accidental or intentional? Get out a map of Bible times. Did Jesus have to go through Samaria?


Jesus set the scene. Read verses 5-6. What does Jesus do in preparation for this meeting? Where were the disciples according to verse 27? What time of day was it? Why would this woman be coming to the well at this time of day?


Why did the woman come? What did she bring? What intangibles did she bring?


What is her name? Is she nameless or just unnamed? What is the difference? Why might her name not be recorded?


Close your eyes and imagine the scene. Let the warmth of the sun warm your face. Let the breeze refresh you. Anticipate the cool water at the end of the familiar path. Now imagine her surprise to find someone sitting beside the well. Picture the moment-


Now, read the conversation between the woman and Jesus. What did he ask her for?


This was incredible. Jews didn’t interact with Samaritans. It just wasn’t done. Jesus has now intentionally gone into Samaria and is now talking with a woman and asking to drink from her water jar. John Piper says that would be like Jesus asking her for a drink from her water bottle. Crazy! What is her response?


What does Jesus offer her in verse 10? How does she respond? How does her response reflect doubt?


In verse 11 she questions His sovereignty, His ability to give her living water. What does she say? Whom does she reference from the Old Testament? See Genesis 25-35; 47-50.


In verses 13-14 Jesus contrasts the water in Jacob’s well with the Living Water He is offering her. How are the two different?


Now how does she respond in verse 15? What is the appeal of His offer to her? Is it spiritual or physical?


Next we learn more about the woman. What does Jesus ask her to do in verse 16? How does she answer? Is her answer completely honest? What more do we learn about her in verse 18? How does this tie back to the time of day she was going to the well to draw water? Why might she have been alone?


Given Jesus’ insight, what does the woman conclude in verse 19? What does she leave behind? Where does she go? Who does she talk to? What does she tell them? How is that significant?


This woman came to the well thirsty for well water. She came alone. She came broken. What well of the world do you find yourself going to over and over? What is it that you are expecting when you go? What do you take with you?


What emptiness do you have that only Jesus can fill? What thirst that only He can satisfy? Just like He told the Samaritan woman, this unnamed woman at the well, “I Am He.” He is able. He is enough. Spend some time just resting in Him. Allow His satisfaction wash over you anew. He is. Hallelujah!


Download your outline and verse here and get ready to mark it up!


Rachael Carman

Memorize & Meditate {M&M} Hebrews 12:1-17


September’s M&M is Hebrews 12:1-17. It is difficult (and can lead to misunderstandings) to extract this passage out of the context of the whole book of Hebrews. Please take the time to read the entire book before beginning the study. You might want to do the study over a couple of days so that you can dig deep. Besides, reading and then just thinking about for a day or two will allow the Holy Spirit to teach because He has your attention.


Who wrote Hebrews? It’s not a trick question, but it isn’t clear. Who are some possibilities?



From your reading or other study, what themes emerge as you read the book?  What verses do you recognize?



What is the theme of chapter 11? List the heroes of the faith included here. In verses 32-38, some of the faithful are described but not names. Can you identify any of them? Which hero of the faith stands out to you?



What characteristics of faith are commended here? Verse 40 is poignant, what does it say about



Our passage begins with’ Therefore’. In light of chapter 11, what is this ‘therefore’ there for? Interestingly, there are 24 ‘therefores’ in Hebrews.



Who is our ‘cloud of witnesses’? Many are listed in chapter 11, but who else do you know personally who is in your cloud? I have my Popa Mac and Nana Burt and Coach Johnson. Who do you have?




There are twelve uses of ‘let us’ in Hebrews. Here is verse one, there are two, what are they? There is one implied in verse 2, what is it?

  1. Let us_______________________________________________
  2. Let us_______________________________________________
  3. Let us_______________________________________________


With these admonishments in mind, what are some things/habits that are currently encumbering you, weighing you down and making it hard for you to ‘run the race set before’ you?


What sin is entangling you, keeping you from a right relationship with God?



What do you have your eyes set on instead of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit? What is distracting you from the glory and goodness of God?



Who is Jesus according to verse 2? What do those two terms mean?



Look at Philippians 2.1-11, especially verses5-8. How did Jesus go to the cross? In Hebrews 12.2b what two other are add to the picture of Jesus on the cross? What do each of these descriptions mean?





Where did Jesus return to after His resurrection?



When we get tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, discouraged, frustrated, impatient, or angry, what does verse 3 direct us to do? What difference can this make?



What is discipline? Why is it necessary? Why is it important? How does verses 6-11 describe the purpose of discipline?



How do our children respond when we discipline them? What is our goal as parents when we discipline them? The Lord disciplines those He loves. How do you respond to His disciplining love? Might you consider thanking Him?



Verse 12 begins with the second ‘therefore’ in our passage. What is this ‘therefore’ there for?



In verses 12-16 lists 8 instructions for believers. List them:










Again in this passage we are encouraged to help one another. Verbs like ‘strengthen’, ‘make’, ‘pursue’, and ‘see to it’ call for action. Can you think of someone who needs your help or encouragement? Don’t delay-pray and act today!


Download your outline and verse here and get ready to mark it up! 

Rachael Carman

Memorize & Meditate {M&M} March 2016 – Luke 15

Memorize & Meditate {M&M} March 2016 – Luke 15

Memorize & Meditate {M&M}

March 2016 –  Luke 15

Luke 15 (NASB)

The Lost Sheep

15 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Lost Coin

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Prodigal Son

11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”

M&M March 2016

Luke 15

The theme of our passage for this month is that of being lost and found. I have a terrible fear of being lost. Learning to drive in the Dallas-Fort Worth area meant that I had to learn to navigate the various highways of the Metroplex. I am directionally challenged. Very. I have absolutely no sense of direction.

On more than one occasion I got lost. Now remember this was thirty years ago. No GPS. No Google maps. No cell phones. All I had to rely on were city maps. Did I mention that I am not only directionally challenged, but also dyslexic? It’s true. The maps weren’t much help either.

DFW airport is the worst. All the signs depend on you knowing which direction you are going. Exit here to go North, here to go South, here to go West, here to go East. I wasn’t even sure of right or left and now I have to know the direction I want to go?? Yikes.

I was supposed to pick up my Dad at DFW. He had been on a mission trip in Africa. The airport wasn’t foreign to me. I’d been there hundreds of times, but this time I had to drive. I was terrified. Literally. I had always depended on someone else knowing where to go, now that someone was me. With Dad’s airline and gate written on a small piece of paper-long before post-its too, BTW-I set out.

For what seemed like an eternity, I circled round and around DFW. I do not think there was an exit I missed taking. Problem was that I began to panic which only contributed to my disorientation. Without any phones to keep in contact with my Dad, he had no option but to just wait for me to arrive.

I did arrive, finally. Tears stained my face. Dad’s eyes strained from looking out for me.  Seeing him comforted me. He was so sorry that I’d been so lost. Relief, no longer lost.

Being lost is scary. It’s lonely. It’s frustrating. It’s unnerving. Lost is something we have all been. We’ve been lost in a crowd. Lost in a conversation. Lost in a situation. Lost in a relationship. Lost in a career. Lost in a battle. Lost in the pain, the misunderstanding, the hurt. Lost isn’t a place any of us like to be.

Lost isn’t what we’re meant to be either. We are made to be found and to find others. Lost isn’t just a physical position, it is our basic spiritual condition. Even if we are not physically lost right now-I’m sitting at my house, not lost at the moment-we were all lost spiritually until Jesus found us. Yes even those of you who are directionally gifted, those who always know what direction facing, those who pride themselves on never getting lost, even you are lost without Christ.

In Luke 15 a sheep, a coin and a son become lost. Great effort is exerted to find them and when they are found, great celebrations commence. It is devastating to lose something. And being lost is distressing. But there is hope. The Shepherd seeks His sheep and our Father awaits our return to Him when we wander.

Amazing Grace!

How sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me;

I once was lost,

But not I’m found,

Was blind-

But now I see!

We must live our lives on guard. We must not be surprised when the enemy attempts to sabotage our celebrations. That is exactly what our enemy wants to do. We have much to celebrate and we must not hesitate to do so. We must set our minds on things above and celebrate His goodness daily. He is Worthy!

Download your outline and verse here and get ready to mark it up!

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In His Grace,


Memorize & Meditate {M&M} February 2016 – Matthew 5:21-48

Memorize & Meditate - February 2016 - Matthew 5:21-48 Download your free Bible Study NOW!

Memorize & Meditate {M&M}

February 2016 – Matthew 5:21-48

Matthew 5:21-48 (NASB)

Personal Relationships

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


M&M February 2016

Matthew 5:21-48

Last year we studied Matthew 5:1-16, The Beatitudes. In that passage we saw how the Lord Jesus taught us how to live. He calls us all to realize our need for Him. We are to be teachable, to crave righteousness, to forgive. Our hearts are to be unpolluted by the world as we live fully surrendered to God.

As this passage continues, Jesus is still teaching on the hillside, and the crowds are listening attentively. In this month’s section, Jesus raised the bar from outward behavior to attitudes of the heart. He gives six admonishments about everyday issues. Let’s lean in and listen to Jesus’ teaching. As you read them, dare to hear these words in a new and fresh light.

Repeated words/phrases

You have heard it said

I say to you







By what authority can Jesus speak to these issues? (Read John 1:1-13) Who is Jesus?

What is Jesus referring to when He says, ‘you have heard it said?’ Who would they have heard say these things?

List the six different challenges Jesus makes in this passage. The verses are given for you.

Download your outline and verse here and get ready to mark it up!


In His Grace,

Rachael Carman


Memorize & Meditate {M&M} January 2016 – Psalm 148

Memorize & Meditate {M&M} January 2016 – Psalm 148

Memorize & Meditate {M&M}

January 2016 – Psalm 148

Psalm 148 (NASB)

The Whole Creation Invoked to Praise the Lord.


Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;

Praise Him in the heights!

Praise Him, all His angels;

Praise Him, all His hosts!

Praise Him, sun and moon;

Praise Him, all stars of light!

Praise Him, highest heavens,

And the waters that are above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,

For He commanded and they were created.

He has also established them forever and ever;

He has made a decree which will not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,

Sea monsters and all deeps;

Fire and hail, snow and clouds;

Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;

Mountains and all hills;

Fruit trees and all cedars;


Beasts and all cattle;

Creeping things and winged fowl; 


Kings of the earth and all peoples;

Princes and all judges of the earth;


Both young men and virgins;

Old men and children.


Let them praise the name of the Lord,

For His name alone is exalted;

His glory is above earth and heaven.


And He has lifted up a horn for His people,

Praise for all His godly ones;

Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him.

Praise the Lord!

M&M: January 2016

Psalms 148

There’s nothing like starting our the new year praising the Lord. This Psalm will prepare and set our minds for whatever 2016 holds. We can rest assured that nothing will come at us this year that has not first passed through the Father’s hands. He is in control! Remember: He is always in the business of doing two things, glorifying Himself and growing us.

Let’s dare to praise Him this year no matter what. Let’s dare to trust Him with all our cares. Let’s dare to meditate on His truth and let it change our perspective.

If you are new to M&M’s her are some other articles that might interest you as you get started:

Why??  The Importance of Meditation

M&M’s All Year Long – how to mark Scripture

Repeating words/phrases




Who do you know God to be?

When we praise the Lord we are acknowledging His glory and His attributes. List the attributes you know to be true. Is He real to you or far off? Write about a time that God was evident to you.

In this Psalm, the writer is calling upon Creation to worship the Lord. Why would the created worship the Creator? How might they worship Him?

Is it necessary for God to do or provide something for us before we praise Him? Why or why not? Besides His infinite glory and goodness, name something that God has done for all people that is cause for our constant praise?

Read Job 1. Describe Job’s situation? What was Job’s response? Why is his response to God appropriate in spite of his circumstance?

Read the book of Philippians. Paul wrote this book from prison. Yet, the theme of the book is rejoicing. How is that possible? Who was Paul focused on?

According to tradition, what is the chief end of Man? How is that possible in this fallen world? When we praise Him, acknowledging Who He is, how are we changed?

In verse 8 the psalmist calls on the forces of nature to praise the Lord. What does it illustrate that they should praise Him? Who is in control of them?

Again, I would commend to you The Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer. This little book makes for a great study of the attributes of God. Getting to know Him more intimately changes everything, your perspective, your thoughts, your actions, your words. Knowing Him unleashes praise for He ‘alone is exalted’.

Download your outline and verse here and get ready to mark it up!


In His Grace,


Rachael Carman

Memorize & Meditate {M&M} December 2015 – John 1:1-15

Memorize & Meditate - December 2015 - John 1:1-15

Memorize & Meditate {M&M}

December 2015 –  John 1:1-15

John 1:1-15  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Deity of Jesus Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The Witness John

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Word Made Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’”

M&M December 2015

John 1:1-15

Repeating words/phrases








So here we are again in my favorite book of the Bible. I hope that you find this particular study at this time of the year to be a blessing. It is not a typical Christmas selection, but it’s poignancy is powerful as we celebrate His birth and anticipate His return. It is important for us to be ever mindful of His eternal existence. Jesus wasn’t an afterthought of the Father. He wasn’t plan B. Jesus was always the plan, “the Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth,” Revelation 13:8.

Let us now take some time to revisit this passage, familiar to many of us, maybe even passed over. For others it might be brand new. Either way, let us allow our hearts and minds to be refreshed and renewed as we dare to go deeper, to sit and saturate, to marinate and meditate on God’s truth. Remember we have the hope that the world is seeking. We serve the only perfect, resurrected Savior. We know the  real reason for the season. Let’s prepare ourselves to share the joy of our salvation with those who are searching!

Who was in the beginning? Genesis is a parallel verse. How are these two verses similar?

What came into being through Him (Christ)? What was made without Him?

Verse 4 tells what is in Him. List the two things and their significance. What was the response to the Light?

References to the Light are in verses 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9. What do these verses tell us about the light?

When it’s dark, what is the value of light? Why might we not want light in the darkness? Light can make us feel vulnerable. Why?

In Ephesians 5:8 Paul calls us children of the Light. And in I John 1:5-10 John writes about God being Light and encourages us to ‘walk in the Light’. What does it mean to be children of the Light and how do we walk in the light?

Further, Jesus claimed to be the Light of the world (John 8,12) and he referred to us as the light of the world and advised us to let our light shine (Mt 5:14-16). Who is the source of our Light? How do we live as children of the Light?

Who was the witness to Christ? (vs 6) What was his duty? How would you describe this man? (See John 3:1-22; Mark 1:4-8)

There are three uses of the pivotal contraction ‘but’ used in this passage. Note each one and contrast shown.

Verse 5 says that the darkness didn’t ‘comprehend’ the Light. In verse 10 it says that the ‘world did not know Him’ and in verse 11 it says that ‘His own did not receive Him’. How are these three verses saying the same thing? Are they saying anything different from each other?

What is offered to those who receive Him? What are we to believe in? Verse 13 goes on the tell the significant miracle of Christ. What is it? What does it mean that Jesus was born of the will of God? In verse 14 John writes that Jesus is the ‘only begotten from the Father’. What is the significance of that and what does it mean?

What does it mean to testify about something or someone? What was John’s testimony concerning Jesus? What does he mean when he says that Jesus has a higher rank than him?

The first and last verses in this passage reiterate a basic doctrinal truth. What is it? Why is it significant?

In verses 14-


In His Grace,

Rachael Carman


Memorize & Meditate {M&M} November 2015 – Colossians 1

Memorize & Meditate {M&M} November 2015 - Colossians 1

Memorize & Meditate {M&M}

November 2015 –  Colossians 1


Colossians 1   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Thankfulness for Spiritual Attainments

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

The Incomparable Christ

13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

M&M November 2015

Colossians 1

Repeating words and phrases:






This passage is packed full! Print out the Scripture and the study guide. Pray, read and mark it all up as you dive in. Pray that God would open your eyes and teach you by the power of His Holy Spirit. Read the verses a couple of times, maybe even in a couple of different versions. Then mark the parts that jump out at you, the words you want to study further. Dare to go deeper and prepare to be blessed!

Who is this book written to? Who does the author characterize his audience?  Who wrote/sent it to them? What is the author doing continually on behalf of his readers?

In verses 4-8 Paul outlines the progression of their faith journey. Outline it here:

What is the Gospel? What is your role in advancing it?

Verse 5 mentions the ‘hope laid up in Heaven’. What is that?

Hearing is a key aspect of faith. Read Romans 10. What does this passage say about the importance of hearing? How does this passage challenge you?

Verse 3 and 9 mirror each other. Verse 3 explains why,  that they pray ‘since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus’. Verse 9 tells what they are praying for them.

List 6 specific requests they are praying for the Colossians:







What are the two things Christ has done for us as listed in verse 13?

Define redemption. How  does your personal redemption impact how you live every day?

Verses 15-18 tell who Christ is. On my count there are seven specific descriptions, list them: (One is only implied, not stated in verse 16)








Read John 1:1-5  in light of Colossians 1:16-17 and marvel at how all of the Bible complements itself. It does not contradict itself. How is this possible? Read 2 Timothy 3:16 for a hint.

According to verse 19, what is the Father’s good pleasure?

What is reconciliation? What makes reconciliation necessary? If we refuse reconciliation with God, what is the result? Conversely, what peace is available to us?  How is this possible? (Other Scriptures to consider in your study: Romans 1;  5:1-8; Ephesians 2. This is not an exhaustible list just a starting point.)

Verse 21 lists what the Colossians were formally: alienated, hostile in the mind and engaged in evil deeds. How were you once far off, but now brought near? Rejoice in how He has reconciled Himself to you. Praise Him!

Paul says here that he rejoices in his suffering for their sake, verse 24. Review his sufferings by reading 2 Corinthians 11, focusing on verses 21-29. Then review Philippians 3. What frustrations or obstacles, trials or losses have you suffered? What challenge does Paul give here?

What mystery is Paul referring to in verse 26? Verse 27 mentions ‘Christ in you the hope of glory’. What is this hope of glory and why does it require Christ being in us?

Paul says that he was responsible to admonish and teach (verse 28). What does it mean to admonish? How is it different from teaching? What is the purpose of admonishing and teaching (verse 28)?

Download your outline and verse here and get ready to mark it up!



Rachael Carman