Two women write the lessons for Bible Stories from the Heart
Leslie Eaton and Nicole Plymesser Nelson
Each has a distinct role and way for you to interact with the weekly scriptures.
Meet the Writers
Leslie will lead you through the reading and study of the weekly lessons. She has over 20 years of experience as a professional educator. Ten of those years she worked as a reading comprehension specialist. Leslie has undergone extensive training in both reading comprehension and effective learning strategies. She is now excited to bring these successful strategies to these studies. Her goal is to empower people as they seek to experience God’s love on a deeper level. She has led various Christian small groups and book studies in and around the Atlanta area for over 5 years. Now she is bringing her knowledge of teaching and her love of God’s Word to Bible Stories from the Heart.
What to expect from Leslie
You will be lead through each scripture lesson with one goal in mind- to know and understand God’s love for you on a deeper level!
Nicole Plymesser Nelson
Nicole has been teaching art for 20 years—in elementary and high schools, retail settings, private lessons, and workshops. All along she has written her own curriculum that works for all ages and abilities. Nicole also has a successful illustration business that showcases her faith. She designs the illustrations for the studies so that all audiences will feel comfortable using art to study God’s Word.
What to expect from Nicole
The goal is for you to use art methods to meditate, pray and connect with God on an even deeper level-- taking time to create will allow God to flow through your hands and fingers as you ALLOW HIS WORDS to INSPIRE YOU! As you work, pray over the images and words. Brain science shows that creating artwork actually creates more connections in the brain, making information easier to remember. You will be amazed at how this transforms your study and recall of the lessons!
Our "Love-Directed" Approach
Each of our easy to follow workbooks is written in an easy to understand, yet extremely thought provoking way. Each workbook contains specific scripture- based lessons and connected art activities. Our lessons are written in a two- step approach. Each step is designed to help move you closer to the LOVE of God.
Step one: Intentional Bible Study
Bible study which intently looks for the character traits of God is vital.
God is LOVE! God never changes! He is and will ALWAYS be LOVE!
So, what exactly is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
LOVE- Directed Bible Study Strategy:
Read each verse of the Bible with a specific purpose- To see LOVE!
If we focus on this, we will see that EVERYTHING God has ever done or will EVER do he does out of his intense LOVE for his children.
Wherever there is LOVE- there is God!
Step two: Reflective Journal Writing
(the SOAP reflection sheet is perfect for this)
SOAP Reflection (Scripture)
Exodus 14:13-14 (NKJV)
13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
SOAP Reflection (Observation)
As a result of bad choices made by the Israelites, they were taken as slaves in Egypt for several years. After receiving word from God to do so, the Israelites are attempting to escape from their Egyptian captives. The Israelites are scared. They know that if they are caught they will be tortured or even killed for their rebellion.
I observe GOD’S LOVE in this verse! Moses is telling the Israelites to not be afraid, to stand firm, and that God will deliver them from their enemies. God is willing and able to lead them to safety- this is LOVE!
This verse PROVES that God was willing and able to rescue his children from hardships. Since God NEVER changes, he is still able and willing to rescue each of us today!
Let's use this verse to help us GROW stronger spiritual roots! Our goal throughout this study is going to be to ANCHOR our spirits deeper and deeper into God's AMAZING LOVE!
This strong anchor will help us stand firm when any future strong winds blow.
SOAP Reflection (Application)
Just like the Israelites I made some bad choices in the past which led me into captivity. Unlike the Israelites, my captivity was more mental than physical. My mental captivity was a result of a past affair and other bad choices which surrounded that affair. As a result of these bad choices, Satan was able to temporarily bind me! During and even after the fallout from my affair, the devil worked to convince me that I was an evil person who was unworthy of love.
Even though I knew that God had forgiven me, Satan tried to keep me captive to my past. For a while I felt trapped in self- loathing! Eventually through my pain I reached out to God. I began reading and studying the Word of God like I never had before.
I had read the Bible in the past, but this time was different. This time when I read scripture I was actually reading for a purpose. My goal was to see if I was indeed unlovable!
What God revealed to me was the EXACT opposite! God LOVED me more than I could ever even begin to understand. Through the blood of Christ, my past sin would not keep me shut off from his love!
This was so beautiful to me! God used water to rescue the Israelites and he used BLOOD to rescue me! I began to feel lovable again. I found that the more time I spent in God's Word the less I felt trapped in my past.
Eventually I felt totally free! God RELEASED me! All my Lord needed was for me to grow DEEP roots in his LOVE. Then he did the rest. Now God's LOVE is able to both FILL me and FLOW through me! I now know that I am indeed LOVED! I am now able to both receive true love and to give love.This is because God has filled me with HIS LOVE! I now know that nothing I will do will make my Heavenly Father love me any less! I feel so FREE! I am no longer a CAPTIVE!
Dear Lord, thank you for loving me. Thank you for forgiving me of my past sin and setting me free! Please help me to continue to grow my spiritual roots deeper and deeper into your love. Please be with me during this study. Speak to me in bold new ways. Help me to hear and respond in positive ways to your loving voice. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Our God ADORES each one of us! Our God is LOVE! Take a few minutes now to write your own SOAP reflection journal entry on this same verse. As we continue in this study, let's focus our hearts and minds on GOD'S AMAZING LOVE!
We encourage you to use these "LOVE-DIRECTED" Bible study strategies all throughout this Nature Walk study (and beyond).
We would love to have you as part of the Bible Stories from the Heart group on Facebook :-)
Just type: Bible Stories from the Heart into the Facebook search bar or click here to join.
You'll be connected with a dynamic, supportive and highly engaged community of over 8,000 members who participate in our studies.
We would love for you to post your artwork from our studies to share with the group :-)
We begin a new online study every few months ... it is always the PERFECT time to begin!
"Sample" Devotions and Videos
I am the Light
John 8:12 (NKJV)
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Devotional Study in 3 parts:
History Behind These verses, Key Words, Connection to Us Today
History Behind this Verse
Historians are not one hundred perfect certain who authored the book of John, but they do all note that the book of John reads as an eye witness account of Jesus’ ministry. The author of this book describes himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He writes with one main purpose: to prove the divinity of Jesus. The word “believe” appears over 100 times in this book. The author writes this book to help us “believe” that Jesus Christ truly is the son of The Almighty God. Verse 12 takes place as Jesus is teaching to the multitude of people who traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of the Tabernacles was a yearly celebration that was (and is) a very important Jewish tradition. It was a way to help all Jews remember their ancestors’ desert wandering and recall how at the end of the 40 years God led them to the promise land. It was a time for all Jewish people to gather and celebrate all the ways that God had blessed both them and their ancestors. During this feast there were several traditions. One tradition was for different religious men to stand and teach lessons to the crowds that had gathered. The teachers who considered themselves to be the most important would usually try speaking to the crowd first. It is interesting to note that Jesus did the opposite. He waited until close to the end to share his teachings. To me, this is a great demonstration of WHO Jesus is! This public event would be the first time that several of these people had ever heard Jesus speak. This was His chance to introduce Himself. His teachings consisted of “I am” statements. He used this opportunity to share His purpose and His LOVE with His people. Jesus knew that some of the people at this celebration were religious, but not necessarily followers of “The Truth.” He understood that some of the people in the crowd liked to use the 10 commandments as a way to judge others and that they would not be ready to hear His offer of LOVE and GRACE. Jesus understood before He even began to speak that many of the people in attendance were waiting for a strict and punishing Messiah to appear. He used these “I AM” statements to paint a clear picture to the Jewish people of who their Messiah actually WAS and IS!
Throughout the book of John, Jesus declared Seven “I Am” statements: Bread- “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35 Light- “I am the light of the world; he who fallows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 Gate - “I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9 Good Shepherd - “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11 Resurrection and Life- “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” John 11:25 Way, Truth, Life- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6 True vine- “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
Key Words: I Am
John 8:12 (NKJV).
12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Definition of am: (used with I) a form of the present tense (indicative mood) of be Notice it states: PRESENT TENSE…. Jesus has ALWAYS been and will ALWAYS be. That is a HUGE realization that we should not brush over!
Connection to Us Today: There is never a time or a place when Jesus is not with us! He has ALWAYS existed and WILL ALWAYS exist! We can turn to Him anytime day or night for direction, grace, and LOVE!
Key Words: The Light
John 8:12 New King James Version (NKJV) 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Definition of the- definite article (used to mark a proper noun, natural phenomenon, ship, building, time, point of the compass, branch of endeavor, or field of study as something well known or unique): the sun; the Alps; the Queen Elizabeth; the past; the West.
Definition of light (according to life)– noun. Light is something that sustains all life on this planet. All things need energy to grow. We get energy from the food we eat. Plants get energy from light through photosynthesis. So, light directly affects the growth of a plant. Without light, a plant would not be able to produce the energy it needs to grow.
Definition of Light (broad term)-noun 1. the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible. 2. understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment. 3. source of energy that enables photosynthesis in plants
Connection to Us Today: Just as plants need sunlight for their nourishment and growth, we also need “son” light for our nourishment and growth. Plants blocked from sunlight will eventually wither and die. Likewise, our faith, trust and love will eventually wither and die if we are blocked from THE LIGHT! We must intentionally place ourselves in THE LIGHT in order to grow and thrive spiritually. To do this we must receive nourishment daily by reading and meditating on The Word and praying to our Heavenly Father.
Key Words: Walk in Darkness
John 8:12 (NKJV) 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Walk: verb. The verb, walk in its literal sense of going along or moving about on foot at a moderate pace is found numerous times in the Gospels. However, this same verb is more often used throughout the Old Testament and the epistles of the New Testament in a metaphorical way. In this sense it means to follow a certain course of life or to conduct oneself in a certain way.
In: Adverb. The adverb in means a situation of being enclosed or surrounded by something. “we were locked in”
Darkness: noun. Darkness in both the Old Testament and New Testament brings very strong images with it. If light symbolizes God, darkness connotes everything that is anti-God: the wicked.
Connection to Us Today: Let’s really focus on the word, in. By reading this scripture slowly and reflecting on this key word, we will be able to gain a deeper understanding. The word “IN” can be a VERY SCARY THING! Let’s look again at the sentence given with the definition of the word “in” “We were locked in” Now, relate that to our spiritual lives: When we follow “sin”- we begin to become captives- hence the word “in.” This verse does not say walk “WITH” darkness- it says walk “IN” darkness- the meaning of this REALLY hit home to me this time! By not following Jesus- we are ultimately choosing to walk ENCLOSED in darkness! It is almost as if the darkness SWALLOWS us and we become a part of it! We are not walking beside it – but “IN” it! The longer we walk “IN” the darkness the more we LOSE our true identities! The darkness begins to push us deeper and deeper INSIDE of IT! This is a POWERFUL and SCARY thought! Let’s encourage one another to INTENTIONALLY follow Jesus each and every day of our lives!
Key Words: Have the Light of Life
John 8:12 (NKJV) 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”Have: verb to possess, own, or hold.
Light always involves the removal of darkness in the unfolding of biblical history and theology.
The contrast of light and darkness is common to all of the words for “light” in both Old and New Testaments. The literal contrast between metaphysical good and evil, God and evil forces, believers and unbelievers. The Bible entertains no thought that darkness is equal in power to God’s light. God is the absolute Sovereign who rules over the darkness and the powers of evil. Light Is Good. God Is Light. If light represents goodness in antithesis to the evil associated with darkness, it is a natural step for the biblical authors to understand God, the ultimate good, as light. Light symbolizes the holy God. Light signifies God’s presence and favor in contrast to God’s judgment.
Of: preposition expressing the relationship between a part and a whole. “the sleeve of his coat”
Life: Noun the existence of an individual human being or animal.
Connection to Us Today: Notice this verse does not say we will SHARE the light of life; it says we will HAVE the light of life! This is HUGE! If we all are honest, we would probably admit that sometimes we want God all for ourselves. Each of us desires to have an INTIMATE relationship with Him. We each want to know that we are special to God. We long to know that He sees us among the huge crowd of people here on earth and that He LOVES each one of us, individually! Sometimes we may feel a little bit hurt because we think since so many people worship and serve our God that we only receive a small portion of His goodness and love. By reading this verse and reflecting on the fact that it says “have” not “share.” We can realize that EACH and EVERY one of us can possess ALL of God’s LOVE and GOODNESS for our very own! Let that thought sink in throughout your day today! By accepting Jesus Christ as your savior, YOU CAN HAVE GOD’S GOODNESS AND LOVE FOR ALL OF ETERNITY! WOW! God loves each and every one of us SO much!
The Word of God should be savored not gulped. The concepts given to us come from the Holy Spirit himself! They are meant to guide us and change us, but it is up to us to actually allow that. In order to read God’s Word as intended, we must be intentional and take the needed time to MEDITATE on its concepts. Each day this week we focused on a different word or words from- John 8:12 (NKJV) 12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Today we will continue that process.
Here is your weekly SOAP assignment
Choose a word or words from these verses that stands out to you. Look up the actual definition of that word. REFLECT on it. How does that word relate to the passage? What is the Holy Spirit wanting you to learn about THAT WORD in your life? What insight are you gaining from this scripture in its entirety by focusing on a few words at a time? Think about these questions today as you read our focus verse. Fill out the designated “boxes” given in the SOAP reflection format.
I would LOVE to study with you! If you are not yet a member of our online group- please join us:
"Sample" Draw in Nearer Study and Videos
If you enjoy this free sample, we encourage you to purchase the complete Draw in Nearer study on Amazon today.
Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)
Mary and Martha
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus and his disciples often traveled. As they traveled, they would often stay at the homes of fellow believers. During each visit, Jesus would fellowship with the families He stayed with. Jesus had stayed with Mary and Martha on other travels before. He cared for their family very much. Earlier in His ministry Jesus had actually raised their brother Lazarus from the dead.
Mary and Martha both loved Jesus very deeply. Meaning behind their names: Martha means ‘lady of the house’ Mary means ‘wise woman’ or ‘lady’; it is a Greek form of the Hebrew Miriam or Mariam. You may find it is interesting that the sister with the "wise" name was the one who showed true wisdom in this situation when she chose to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Thoughts from Leslie
It is important to note that God deeply desires for each one of us to draw nearer to Him. We saw this as we read the story of Mary and Martha. Our Heavenly Father truly does LOVE us. He sincerely wants to be close to us. This may seem like a small detail at first, but it is not. This is a HUGE and VITAL realization! Think about it, why would any of us choose to move closer to someone that does not care about us? I don't know about you, but I never want to intentionally move closer to someone if they do not want me near to them. I never want to feel like I am a burden or imposition on anyone. Knowing that my Lord and Savior truly does want me near to Him helps me be both willing and eager to spiritually move closer to Him.
Let's reflect upon the story of Mary and Martha ....Reflection Number One: God WANTS us near to Him.
Jesus has come to the home of Mary and Martha. What is His purpose in being there? Let's look closely to find the answer. Jesus and His disciples are traveling. They do not own houses in the different towns in which they travel, so they choose to stay with other believers. It is important to note that Jesus does not NEED to stay with anyone as He travels. He is the Son of God! He actually created the entire world and everything in it simply by speaking it into existence. Reflecting on this fact helps us to realize that Jesus could have chosen to simply speak the words and He could have provided food and shelter for both Himself and His companions at any time without needing to stay with anyone.
Not long before arriving at the home of Mary and Martha, Jesus had fed 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. This should prove to us that He definitely had the ability to personally provide everything that He and His disciples would ever need during their travels in the same exact way. It is imperative that we understand that Jesus chose to abide with others not because He NEEDED to, but because He WANTED to. He invites us to abide with Him today for the same reason. This fact should help us realize that Jesus truly does DESIRE to STAY CLOSE to us.
Reflection Number Two: We do not need to "earn our spot" before we draw nearer to God.
Jesus wants for us to stay close to Him not because He needs our hands, but simply because He desires our heart.
It is important for us to realize that there is nothing that we can do to earn our spot near Jesus. This realization is sometimes difficult for us to believe. In this crazy world, we begin to believe that LOVE is something we must earn. This warped thinking tricks us into believing that the one who works the hardest for Jesus is the one who will be chosen to abide in His presence.
It is this thinking that makes most of us relate to Martha in this story. As we read these verses many of us find ourselves feeling sorry for hard working Martha and maybe even a little angry at her sister Mary. Isn't it sad that as women we tend to believe that acts earn love? Women, as a whole, grow up thinking that that the best way to make someone love them is by serving them more and more. Serving others is definitely important. The problem comes when we try to base and grow a relationship simply through works. Relationships are built through quality time spent with another. Doing things for people should never replace quality time spent with them. This is the big takeaway from the story of Mary and Martha. Serving will never move us closer to someone, it will only make us feel more needed. God doesn't need any of us. He desires for each of us to abide with Him, because He loves us not because He needs us! Because of this, drawing closer to Jesus can only be accomplished by becoming less like Martha and more like Mary.
As we continue in this study let's focus our attention on reflecting upon the beliefs and actions of Mary. Like Mary, we must first believe that Jesus truly does desire to be near to us. She believed that Jesus wanted to spend time with her so she intentionally chose to move closer to Him. Next, let's take note that Mary did not try to earn her spot at the feet of Jesus. We must realize the same. To truly be near to Jesus, we must focus less on work and more on fellowship. It is important that each of us truly understand that it is God's LOVE that calls and allows us to come to Him. We do not earn our new spot by the work of our hands!
Our God longs to have a personal relationship with each one of us just as He did so many years ago with Mary and Martha. He is reaching out for us to come closer. Isn't this AMAZING?
Welcomed: (verb) to receive or accept with pleasure; regard as pleasant or good
Original Word: δέχομαι .Definition: I take, receive, accept, welcome.
Connection to us:
Martha "welcomed" Jesus into her home. She did this by physically inviting Jesus in. Many of us today also "welcome" Jesus into our home. We do this by purchasing Bibles, devotion books, prayer journals, and the like. Like Martha, we truly desire to spend time with Jesus. And like Martha, we easily become distracted. With every new day, our Savior is calling for us to move nearer to Him. We can do this by spending time with Him reading His Holy Word and meditating on His love. Will we move nearer to our Savior today? Will we momentarily leave our distractions behind to accomplish this goal? Jesus is waiting with open arms. The next step is up to us!
Heard: (verb) to learn by the ear or by being told; be informed of.
Original word: ἀκούω
Definition: to hear (in various senses)
Connection to us:
Mary did not just listen to Jesus speak, she HEARD His words. This is vital for us to understand. Hearing involves learning! Mary learned from Jesus. This should be our goal today.
Let's strive to intentionally be like Mary each and every day. Let's open our ears and hearts and allow Jesus to teach us!
We can do this as we actively read God's Word and reflect upon it. By READING God's truths and then REFLECTING and APPLYING them, we can be like Mary in our daily relationship with Christ! Are we ready to LEARN from our Savior? Are we ready to be filled with the LOVE of Jesus? Let's spend some quiet time reading and meditating on God's Word today!
Distracted: (adjective) to be drawn away or diverted, as the mind or attention.
Original word: περισπάω
Definition: to drag all around, i.e. (figuratively) to distract (with care)
Connection to us:
As women, we consider ourselves to be "masters" of multi-tasking. But the truth is, when we use this mindset in our relationships, we are actually "masters" of none. When we focus our attention on more than one thing at a time, nothing or no one is getting our FULL attention. In our busy lives this is often necessary, but can be harmful in our relationships. Relationships are about giving yourself completely to another person. We cannot give ourselves completely to another person if our minds are diverted during "quality" time spent with them. Mary knew the importance of devoting a few minutes out of her day completely focused on Jesus. It is vital that each day we find time to do the same. Our Savior desires a DEEP relationship with us. He wants us to come to him each day (even for as little as a 15- minute time period.) He wants us 100% completely focused on Him.
Are we ready to schedule 15 minutes of time each day completely in the presence of LOVE? Let's take a few minutes now to quietly meditate on the truths found in this week's scripture.
Serving: (verb) furnishing or supplying with something needed or desired
Original Word: διακονέω
Definition: to be an attendant, i.e. wait upon (menially as a host, or friend)
Connection to us:
As women we tend to show love by serving or "providing".
We begin this habit from an early age. As children we show love to our parents and friends by "making" them things: crafts, notes, desserts, and doing things for them. We continue these habits as adults. The more we LOVE someone, the more we tend to want to DO for them. Sometimes we even judge how much someone else loves us by calculating how much they "do" for us. This is not how Jesus determines LOVE! Jesus does not NEED us to provide for Him to prove our love for Him. What Jesus most desires is US! He simply wants us to spend time each day in HIS presence!!! This is so AMAZING! Jesus simply desires us to be NEAR! Are we ready to draw nearer to Him today?
1. What is keeping you from moving closer to God?
2. Do you feel like you need to "earn" your spot at the feet of Jesus? If so, why do you think you feel this way?
3. Can you connect more with Mary or with Martha in this week's scripture? Why?
4. What "falsehoods" do we learn about love that keeps us distanced from God?
Strategy for this week: Moving Closer
Drawing nearer to our Heavenly Father is the ultimate goal of this study.
We learned through the story of Mary and Martha that God truly does want us near to him. Now that we know He desires us to come closer, let's consider what is needed to actually accomplish this. We see through the actions of Mary that quiet fellowship with our Lord is what is needed on an ongoing basis to help us to move closer. For this reason, our strategy for this entire study is fellowship. But before we can fellowship, we need to clear our minds. To help us to do this, we can color. There have been many studies completed recently which prove that coloring can actually help to quiet a person's thoughts. Knowing this, Bible Stories from the Heart provides a coloring page at the end of every lesson.
Feel free to color the picture provided, or simply quiet your mind and doodle :) Are you ready to begin? Grab some crayons let's get started!!
As you color:
Allow yourself to fellowship with Jesus. As you create your beautiful art, focus your thoughts on God's love for you. Allow yourself to move closer to His loving presence. Listen quietly as He reveals new truths to you. Thank Him for his burning LOVE for you!
"Sample" Love Drops Study
"Sample" Nature Walk Study and Videos
If you enjoy this free sample, we would encourage you to purchase the entire Nature Walk study from Amazon today.
“Admire God’s Creation”
Our goal during this study is to seek the LOVE of God on a deeper level. There is no better place to focus our SEARCH for God’s love than in NATURE!
Nature is a wonderful representation of God's perfect LOVE:
It is blissful! It is peaceful! It is invigorating! It is rejuvenating! It is breath-taking! It is refreshing! Nature is God's LOVE!
There is no rock, plant, insect, or element which will be seen which was not created directly by our Heavenly Father. God created everything that we will observe out of His LOVE. Before we go any further, let's take a few minutes to reflect upon this incredible fact.
Genesis 1:1-25 (NKJV)
The History of Creation
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.
All of the words found in scripture are important, but at Bible Stories from the Heart we encourage ourselves to choose a few KEY words to focus upon as we read. We have found that doing this enables us to feel the amazing power and love of God on even deeper level.
Try reading this week’s verses a second time totally focused on these key words:
Create: (verb) bring something into existence.
Original word: בָּרָא- to create, shape, form
Void: (adj.) completely empty.
Original word: בֹּ֫הוּ- emptiness, void, waste
Said: (verb) uttered words so as to convey an instruction.
Original word: אָמַר- to say, speak, utter
Good: (adj.) to be desired or approved of.
Original word: טוב- pleasant, agreeable, rich, valuable in estimation.
The book of Genesis is titled, Bereisheet, in Hebrew. Both words Genesis and Bereisheet mean origin or beginning. The book of Genesis is in fact the beginning of the world as we know it. Before God spoke the world into existence, there was nothing but void and chaos in the universe.
Before God spoke the words, there was no earth, no stars, no sun, no moon, no animals, no plants, no people, no ANYTHING!
Then, at the very instant in which God spoke the words: our WORLD became! God created EVERYTHING we see specifically for us! Isn't this INCREDIBLE?
Connection to us
How many of us have ever prepared for the birth of a baby?
For most of us, the preparation process was probably very exciting, detailed and intentional.
We researched and shopped for the best we could afford for our new baby. We wanted him/her to be surrounded by nothing but the best. We choose the ideal paint color for the nursery, we purchased the softest bedding for the crib, we filled our kitchen cabinets with the most nutritious baby foods.
All of these things we did out of LOVE. Because we cared so deeply for our baby, we desired to surround them with only GOODNESS and LOVE!
God feels the same for each one of us. We are God's children. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be surrounded by only GOODNESS and LOVE. God created the earth and everything in it to be a FLAWLESS and PERFECT environment for us. In its original and pure state, our world was exactly that!
Earth contained nature. Nature contained LIFE! Through nature God provided EVERY physical thing which his children would need. When God created nature, he lovingly provided us with beauty, shelter, food, safety, and comfort- just to name a few things.
Our Heavenly Father surrounded us with his perfect provisions.
He surrounded us with His care and LOVE.
As we continue in this Nature Walk study we will be focused on seeing God’s perfect designs in nature. We will then connect what we see to scripture. These observations and connections will enable us to feel God's LOVE in a new and powerful way!
Are you ready to experience God's AMAZING LOVE through nature? Let's get started!
Nature Walk Activity
Our goal during this study is to learn new truths about God's amazing LOVE by observing nature. Who better to lead us on this LOVE discovery walk than God himself!
Before we begin our walk, let's invite God to join us.
As we walk let's ask God to help us to feel His love for us in new and powerful ways. Let's ask Him to reveal new truths to us today through nature. Today's mission: To deeply see God's LOVE in nature.
For us to get a deeper understanding of God in nature, we must walk with a purpose. We must clear our minds, open our senses, and allow ourselves to be 100% present in the moment.
As we begin our walk, let's focus our eyes and ears on God and his extreme LOVE. Everything we see, hear, smell, and feel was created by God himself! God is LOVE! Nature is LOVE! Nature is a perfect representation of God's LOVE!
Let's walk through nature at this time and simply admire God's incredible creation! If you are unable to walk through nature today, here is a wonderful video to watch:
Art Reflection Activity
Bible Stories from the Heart adds coloring pages to each lesson for a specific purpose: to help us SOAK in the love of God.
As you color this week's sheet, take the time to talk to God. Ask him to reveal himself to you in a new and powerful way. Thank him for creating so many beautiful and amazing things. Thank him for creating you.
Ask him to help you understand the magnitude of these truths!
God simply SPOKE the words and ALL OF CREATION was FORMED!
This is INCREDIBLE!!!!!
** As you color imagine God "speaking" everything you see in the coloring page into existence! God created EVERYTHING! This is AMAZING! This is LOVE!
SOAP Reflection Activity
Now it is time for you to choose one verse from this week's lesson to reflect deeper upon.
At Bible Stories from the Heart we believe that God's Word should be savored, not rushed through. Because of this we add coloring and SOAP reflection pages to each lesson to aid you in going DEEPER into the amazing words of GOD!If you allow him to, God will speak to you through his word! He is waiting with open arms to draw you closer and share his thoughts with you. It is up to us to slow down and reflect long enough to hear his voice. Let's take quiet time this week to both complete and pray over our weekly SOAP reflection page. Here is a poem to help us reflect deeper:
God’s Awesome Wonder ~
By Deborah Ann Copyright 2015
When I look,
out into the yonder
I am filled . . .
with awesome wonder.
As far as my eyes,
can humanly see
God’s love . . .
stares back at me.
As I listen to,
the sounds of nature
God’s grace . . .
becomes even greater.
As I walk the shore,
by the mighty sea
God’s mercy . . .
ebbs inside of me.
As I hear the roar,
of the ocean’s dignity
I am enraged . . .
by my sin’s gravity.
When I look,
upon God’s creation
I stand in awe . . .
at my own salvation.
1. What is your big "takeaway" from this lesson?
2. How can we intentionally SEE God's love when we look at nature?
3. What can we do from this day forward to both appreciate and FEEL God's love in a new and powerful way (through nature)?
"Sample" New Beginnings Study and Videos
If you enjoy this free sample, we would encourage you to purchase the complete New Beginnings study from Amazon today.
John 8:1-11 (NKJV)
8 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Condemn- To witness against; to show or prove to be wrong, or guilty.
Sin- hamartanó: to miss the mark, do wrong, sin
Original Word: ἁμαρτάνω
Part of Speech: Verb
No more- nothing more: nothing further
Thoughts from Leslie
Let's take a minute to reflect upon the above verses.
What is happening here is just TOO AMAZING to miss.
Jesus gave this woman the gift of becoming a "clean canvas"
She now has a fresh start to become something NEW and BEAUTIFUL!
The woman in this scripture was caught in the act of adultery.
Because of her sin, she was now considered to be impure, soiled and used.
Her accusers thought she was beyond repair and wanted her destroyed.
Thankfully, Jesus disagreed.
We may not all be guilty of the sin of adultery, but we are all sinners.
It is so incredible that just as this stained woman was given a fresh clean start,
we can be given same. This second chance is provided to us through the POWERFUL blood of Jesus!
Let's take a few minutes to make some visual connections.
To do this we will connect her second chance at life to refurbishing a used canvas.
What others saw as stained and worthless,
Jesus saw as a potential medium to hold a new creation.
He was giving this woman a chance to become a beautiful masterpiece.
The adulterous woman in John was spared from death. and was granted a "do-over!"
All of the filth and dirt from her past sins was brushed away.
She was now a CLEAN SLATE.
She was free and ready to become something NEW!
Incredibly, each one can receive this same wonderful gift today.
We can have a FRESH START!!!
Before we can become something new and beautiful, our slate must be totally washed clean.
Let's relate this to an artist painting on a canvas.
An artist will not begin to create a new piece on a used canvas without wiping it clean first.
The soiled canvas must be prepared and primed before it is ready to hold a fresh new picture.
Watch the “New Canvas” video to get a great visual of this process:
This concept is the same when a person is given a fresh start.
To help us make the connections, let's consider the steps applied in the video:
The canvas had to be dusted off -
Likewise, we must dust ourselves off from the "sin."
It is necessary that we remove ourselves from the "dirt."
The surface of the canvas was sanded –
This smoothed out all of the rough parts on the material’s surface.
Likewise, our "carnal" surface thinking must be sanded.
It is vital for us to allow God's Word to change our thinking.
The canvas had to be covered with a primer to become a clean slate.
Likewise, we must be covered and primed with the saving blood of Jesus in order
for us to become a clean slate
Before Jesus came, people were rarely given a second chance for a new life.
The stains and dirt on their "canvas" was considered too filthy to clean.
Because of this, the sinners were often times killed for their crimes.
Adultery was one of these "death sentence" crimes. There were many more.
Deuteronomy 22:23-24 (NKJV)
23 “If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.
Jesus is waiting with open arms to give each one of us a FRESH START!
Our sins can be forgiven and we can begin our new life starting right now.
The choice is ours.
Will we choose to have a new life?
Are we ready to become a clean canvas?
Our new beautiful masterpiece of a life is waiting to begin!
Just as Jesus instructs this nameless woman, we must GO and SIN NO MORE.
If we are ready for our new start, we must take action.
We cannot remain in our sin.
In order to begin our New Life, we MUST leave our bad choices behind.
We must walk toward our NEW Life in Christ!
Time for Prayer
Sometimes sin can look very promising. Forbidden fruit really does seem so delicious and satisfying, but it never is! Pray to God to give you both the wisdom and the strength to know what people or choices to stay clear from. The easiest way to resist sin is to avoid it altogether. This is sometimes very difficult to do.
Pray to your Heavenly Father to guide you to take the right paths each and every day in this coming New Year.
Ask God to lead you toward HIS perfect LOVE!
Sin is NEVER the right choice! Sin will NEVER lead to LOVE!
We must be aware that even though sin can be forgiven, it always leaves behind a path of pain.
The people hurt through the adultery committed by the woman in John 8 still occurred. The sin was forgiven, but the pain was not undone.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see on your "canvas"?
What are some of your sin "smudges" that you wish could be erased?
Is it easy for you to believe that Jesus really can erase ALL of your sins? Why or why not?
If your life really was a painter's canvas, how much money would you be willing to pay in order to have it completely wiped clean?
Would it be easier for you to accept your fresh start if you had to pay a HUGE amount of money to receive it? Why or why not?