Community can look very different from what it used to look like in our society. Technology and social media have become the go-to means for many individuals. As someone who has lived between 35-45 minutes away from our church since we began attending 10+ years ago, I can appreciate that there are both pros and cons to this. Face-to-face interaction has been difficult because during that time I’ve walked through so many different stages of life, being home full time with my “littles,” going to school, or working (full-time or part-time). I have become beyond grateful for modern means of communication such as social media, internet, podcasts, texting, etc. I know it’s not for everyone, but for those who find it as a refreshing access point to community they would otherwise have to do without, it can be a glorious blessing from God.
This past spring I joined thousands of women around the world in a Bible Reading Challenge of reading through the New Testament from June-September. It was something that was brought to my attention through the social media page of a church’s women’s ministry based in Idaho. I happened to stumble onto that particular page because it was linked to a favorite Christian author of mine.
The focus of this particular reading plan was to develop a habit for the daily consumption of the Word of God. This daily habit of reading larger sections of Scripture (typically 4-6 chapters a day) has resulted in God blessing me with an increased love of and desire for His Word and has similarly affected the other women who are part of this online community.
When I began this reading challenge, I used my own social media account to invite women to join me. This smaller group now has 17 women who have given their yes to “just reading” God’s Word every day! On this journey we have asked questions, made new observations, understood the context of Scripture passages in much more depth, and we have dispensed and received Godly encouragement to one another...all through a Facebook group. It’s not a study of God’s Word, there are many things I know I’ll need to dive into at another time to better understand. Instead, it’s a reading of God’s Word where even in 15-20 minutes of reading through a handful of chapters God pours out abundant blessings.
Earlier this year I wrote some thoughts on what it looks like to “just read” the Bible (to read that post click HERE) and to discuss what I meant by “just reading” the Bible, not necessarily studying the Bible. Now, after a statement like that, I want to be sure I clarify what I mean and so again I refer you to the above link to my earlier blog post where I explain my thoughts more extensively.
This summer my new perspective has given me the freedom to come to the Scriptures each day regardless of what my environment looks like, regardless of what my intellectual capacity feels like, regardless of what my emotions or heart feels like, regardless of what particular version I use, or whether I read it at a table with a highlighter in hand or listen to it on an audio version in a car with bickering children in the backseat. I have a newer, more realistic point of access to the Bible than I had previously constructed in my mind...and it has been life changing for me and for some fellow LFA women who have joined me in this summer reading challenge.
I could fill an entire second blog just about my own experiences in this challenge and the ways it has impacted my mind, my heart, my emotions, and my family. I could talk about how God has guided me into the depths of what it looks like to be more fully obedient, more fully trusting, and more fully submitted to His authority over my life. But I would rather show you some excerpts from the Facebook group where fellow LFA women are working through this reading plan:
“Love this verse from today, God chose me!!!! like seriously. He knows me and chooses me! how cool is this reality and humbling (John 15:16). ALSO love the wording in The Message for John 16:31-35 "unshakable and assured, deeply at peace."
“I’m a very visual person and I could really paint a picture in my mind of John 15:5 where Jesus is explaining that he is the vine and we the branches. Makes so much sense that we just can not amount to anything as branches alone, without the vine.”
“In my devotions I do with the First5 app we are reading through the second half of Psalms and today was the middle of Psalm 119. This was the intro, thought it fit with what we were doing here:
"Satan's greatest desire is to separate us from God. And one of his favorite tactics? To make us think we don't have time to read God's Word. Or that we're not smart enough to study and understand God's Word. And it's impossible to live out the truths in God's Word.
Because the enemy knows how powerful Scripture is. He knows Truth equips us to resist his plans and overcome temptations. And that means he knows if my Bible is collecting dust and my conscience is being hushed, then my heart is in danger of being crushed. "
“I literally say the scripture of Philippians 4:6 to myself every day! It speaks to my heart, especially in a world where there seems to be so many challenges and so many things I just don’t understand.”
“Yes...I love reading scripture and I find I just want to keep reading...I crave the alone time with Him…”
“This group reminded me that it's about coming back to God's word and meditating on what I read more than the amount of chapters I read. I'm slowly winning the battle over not reading because I'm not on track. Like it was said: if you're reading, you're on track.”
Isn’t that encouraging? Isn’t that a hallmark of the faithfulness of God that He is drawing precious women into increased communion with Himself?
I have an invitation for YOU. If you are a woman reading this, then I am speaking to YOU. Would you consider joining me and others in a new reading plan that will kick off on September 9th? This plan is a whole Bible Reading Plan, called “Keep the Feast,” and it will go from September to the end of May. Each day will have a few chapters from both the Old Testament and the New Testament and average about 6 chapters a day (no readings on Sundays and interspersed “catch up days” if you want to go back and read portions that you missed).
Here are a few ways you can join us. There are two Facebook groups that will post the reading schedule when it becomes available. One created specifically for LFA women and their friends and a larger Facebook group for all participants of the reading plan across the world. I’ve added links for both below. Please feel free to join us in the LFA women’s group, the other group has been an added resource and point of community for me so consider joining that one as well.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ccLadiesFellowship/?ref=share a community of over 13,000 women reading the whole Bible reading plan together.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/694201211012238/?ref=share LFA Women Keep the Feast
You can also follow the #keepthefeast on Instagram or #LFAwomenkeepthefeast
Or beginning in September #keepthefeast will be a reading plan offered on the YouVersion Bible app. This has been a helpful resource for me because each day’s readings are pre-loaded and tracked, and there is the option to listen to an audio version of the passages as well.
I can’t wait to see how many of you jump on board with us (and invite others to do the same) and to see how God uses this to build increased community with each other and increased communion with Him.