Grounded Podcast

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The Resolution You Need Most, with Gretchen Saffles

With the anticipation of 2022, are you thinking about resolutions for the new year? Our hosts discuss the one resolution we all need the most: to read the Bible every single day. Fuel your desire for the Word of God as Gretchen Saffles shares practical tips and inspiration for reading Scripture daily. Laura Gonzalez, Quina Aragon, and the Grounded Prayer Team also join today’s conversation with encouragement and motivation to start this habit in the new year.

Connect with Gretchen:

Instagram: @wellwateredwomen and @gretchensaffles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wellwateredwomen

Website: https://wellwateredwomen.com/

Connect with Quina:

Instagram: @quina_aragon 

Twitter: @Quina_Aragon 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QuinaAragon

Website: https://quinaaragon.com/

Episode Notes:

Want some practical tips on how to study the Bible? Check out these tools to help you feast on God’s Word:

How to Study Your Bible

Recommended Bible Studies

Getting into the Word and Getting the Word into You” teaching series from Nancy

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Portia Collins: Happy New Year Grounded family. We hope that 2022 is a year where each of you and each of us Grounded hosts, are deeply rooted and grounded in the hope of Christ. Speaking of Grounded hosts, we are taking a couple of weeks off from Grounded to rest and to be with our families, but you are still on our hearts and our minds. 

We have selected a couple of our very favorite episodes to broadcast during the break. Today's episode is the resolution you need most with Gretchen Saffles of Well-Watered Women. We want to ask you to make a very specific commitment for the year ahead. So, check it out and enjoy this episode. 

Welcome back to Grounded. I'm Portia Collins. 

Erin Davis: And I'm Erin Davis, reporting to you live from my farm in Missouri where I need a shovel not because of the snow, but because of all the wrapping paper and all the boxes and all the bows that Christmas with four boys can produce. Portia, how was your Christmas? 

Portia: It was wonderful. Just a blessed peaceful time. Not as much family but you know, that's kind of expected.

Erin: Sure.

Portia: Here in Mississippi, I'll be taking out my tree really soon and packing up Christmas decorations and thinking about the new year. And you know, I was thinking about the word of the year. I wanted to ask you, do you choose a word of the year like for New Year's resolutions?

Erin: I don't for the same reason that my tree will probably stay up till well past Valentine's Day. I'm just not that organized. But I really love that idea and know that a lot of people who are really inspired by choosing a word of the year. So how about you? Portia, do you have a word for 2021? 

Portia: Yes, I do. I started choosing words of the year like two or three years ago. And so, for 2021, I think my word is “strength” and not “my strength.” I'm really wanting to focus more on the strength of the Lord and Him strengthening me through difficult seasons. We know that 2020 was a very difficult year. And so that's kind of been my focus, just really writing into the strength of God. 

Erin: I love that. Well, what about you Grounded friends? Are you choosing a word for the new year? We, of course, love hearing from you. And it's so easy. Just drop us a comment wherever you're watching and tell us if you have a word of the year, or if you're like me, that's not something you do. That's great, too. 

We're not going to be focusing on a word in this episode of Grounded. We're going to be focusing on the Word, God's Word. And we're going to ask you to make a big commitment along with the Grounded team. 

Portia: I can't think of anyone I'd rather bring in the new year with than today's guest. I'm super excited. We've got Gretchen Saffles from Well-Watered Women with us. She's a wealth of information. But we've also got some members of the Grounded prayer team. I love these sisters love, love, love them. And they are waiting in the virtual wings to pray for you. 

Erin: They are. You may not even know there was a Grounded prayer team. You're not going to forget it after today. These are unforgettable women. I've said this before, I'll say it again. They're not prayer warriors. These women are prayer generals. They are here to pray very specifically that this will be a year when you and when me and when the Grounded hosts get grounded in God's Word. 

Portia: You know, we also got a surprise guest. 

Erin: Shhh, don't tell them Portia. 

Portia: Hey, you know I’m bad at keeping secrets, girl. 

Erin: I thought you were going to spill the beans. 

Portia: I wasn't gonna tell them. I'm gonna keep it, and zip it. But what I do want you guys to do is to hit the share button. Go ahead and invite your friends. Also, if you have not done so already, subscribe to the Revive Our Hearts YouTube channel. You can get notifications on Facebook because we don't want you to ever miss a single episode of Grounded in 2021.

Erin: 2021 I'm not used to it. It’ll be a solid three months before I’ve stopped writing 2020 on things and start writing 2021. But we don't want you to miss any Grounded in 2021, and there's a couple of other reasons why. I know I want to spend this year with my cohost Dannah Gresh, Alejandra Slemin. Are you with us this morning? Good morning.

Dannah Gresh: We are. Good morning and happy almost New Year.

Good News: MV365 (10:06)

Erin: Isn't that crazy? I can’t believe it. Well, help us ring in the new year with some good news.

Alejandra Slemin: That's right. I love good news, mostly. Now, today's good news is very special to me because it involves two things. It involves my Bible, and it also involves my sisters in Latin America.

Dannah: Yeah, and we guarantee it's gonna get you fired up to read your Bible in 2021. In fact, we think this is such a special piece of good news, we have a good news correspondent lined up to help us tell the story. welcome Laura Gonzales to Grounded Hello, Laura. Are you there, my friend? She's coming. 

Laura Gonzales: Here I am, happy to be here.

Dannah: She is, you know, representing the Latin American women. So, it's kind of a long distance.

Alejandra: A ways to come. We're so glad you're here, Laura. And you know what women watching Grounded from around the world might not realize is that Revive Our Hearts, the ministry that produces Grounded, has this Spanish counterpart, Aviva Nuestros Corazones, and Laura is the director. 

So, at the beginning of 2020, before we knew much about the coronavirus or social distancing, the team of ANC decided to encourage women to read through the whole Bible in 2020 that year. I'm just wondering, Laura, why did you attempt something so big in such a different year? 

Laura: Yeah, it's a project of faith. It all started because we at Aviva Nuestros Corazones had just published a Devotional Bible. We had published it the year before. And then we said, why not go through the Bible with the followers not just put the Bible out there, but actually read the Bible with them to encourage them to be in the Word every day. 

So, it was a God-led thing from beginning to end. It was so providential because we did not know what was gonna happen at the beginning of the year. And so, we started in 2020, reading the Bible, all our staff together with the followers. It was such a blessing, and 25,000 women subscribed to this challenge, and it is a challenge. That's why it's called a challenge. 

Dannah: Yeah, it is challenging.

Laura: It was so good. 

Dannah: I love that you say that, because it is a challenge to stay faithful in God's Word, but it's a challenge that’s worth it. Hey, Laura, I was with you in Mexico for Mujar Verdadera ’20. Did I say that well? 

Laura: Yes.

Dannah: It means “true woman” for those of you who aren't up on your Spanish, but I am, at least those two words. Well, you were encouraging women to read that Bible, and you called it MV 365, True Woman 365. And right after the conference, we all returned home, the world started falling apart, seemingly. But I kept hearing reports of women in Latin America. And as you said, it was first a few 100 then a few 1000. And then all the way up to 25,000 women. What were you hearing from the women as they were taking the challenge in the days after Mujar Verdader?

Laura: Well, Dannah, we have so many testimonies, we would be here two days if I would read them all. But one thing women would say is, “I had never read the complete Bible. This is the first time that I actually read it.” And it was so good just to be encouraged by other sisters knowing that other sisters are reading it alongside of them. And then Aviva Nuestros Corazones would publish every day the I am going deeper devotional to help them grasp more from the reading every day. 

So, they were just so encouraged, and like you said 25,000 women were signed up. But as things work in the Latin world. They were sending the devotionals via WhatsApp and many women started groups in WhatsApp. They will read together and encourage each other because some were saying, “I had attempted to do this before on my own, but then I would just fall short in the middle of the year. So, now when I have other women alongside of me, it just encourages me.” 

We've had sweet testimonies, women that had never read the Bible before. One woman in particular I love what she said. She said, “During all this time while the world was upside down from the pandemic, I felt safe and peaceful.” She had never been in the Bible, in the complete Bible before. So many have said how they have fallen in love with Christ, how they love the Scriptures, how they had never seen such beauty in the Word, and how it has encouraged them even and given them the mind of Christ to help other sisters. It's just been so sweet. 

I mean, testimony after testimony. For women in the Word, it's been such a blessing. Some churches are even doing it together. Complete churches, saying, Okay, we're going to do that challenge as a church. And so even men were in it. We've heard testimonies of mothers doing it with their children. So, it's just been so sweet.

Alejandra: Well, I've been part of the MV 365. I have my MV 365. Bible. And I could totally say, it has been hard to get through this. Through the year, this is whether and I believe God has brought a revival to women. I mean, through MV 365. But you know what, Laura? I know you personally, and I know you will probably say this. You came to faith in 2002. And you have read the whole Bible 18 times since you came to Jesus. I have a question for you. How has that changed your life, as you have exposed yourself so many years consistently to God's Word?

Laura: I don't think there's anything that has helped me more than being in the Word every day. I mean, it's my sustenance. It's like, if I had gone without eating for 18 years, it's impossible. You know, it's my food, my daily food every day. And it has taken me through many seasons. It's just knowing that God is with me. He walks with me, He tells me, and it's just amazing how you might be reading the same thing over and over, and then you the day that you read, this portion is exactly what you need it for that day, the grace for the day that God's leading for that day, what you needed to hear for your own sin and for even to help others.

I mean, I don't know how I could have made it without it. Like some women are saying now that they have read it this year. So, women through this pandemic, I don't know how I would have been able to go through this year without the Word. 

Dannah: Yeah. You know, it doesn't surprise me that you've been through it so many times, Laura, although that's a lot of times. I think I've been cover to cover. I mean, I've studied deeply parts of the Bible, and I'm in the Word every day, but cover to cover, I think I've only read it three times. And now I understand the weight that I feel when I'm around you. I feel such a weight of God's presence in your life is because you're in the Word. You're challenging me to cultivate that same weightiness in my own heart. 

I've actually heard you say that you believe that getting women to read through the Bible this year, if that's the only thing you do as a ministry team at Aviva Nuestros Corazones, that you've done your job.

Laura: Yes. 

Dannah: Why do you say that, Laura?

Laura: There's nothing like the Word of God. I mean, we love our podcasts, you know, Nancy's podcasts are wonderful. Women are growing. They even say Nancy is their personal mentor through the teaching. But there is nothing like being in the Word of God. That's why people love Nancy's podcasts because they point them to Christ.

So, it's just been wonderful to be able to walk alongside these ladies and see what the Word of God can do in a life. It can change someone, transform someone. And so, I always say that if this is all like I did, I'm done. I'm done.

Alejandra: Wow, that is a mighty job. Let me tell you, I am excited Laura to keep reading my Bible and doing it again with MV 365 in 2021.

Laura: That’s right. 

Alejandra: What is your hope? Because it's relaunching again. So, what is your hope? What would you like God to do in women's hearts as they open their Bibles every day?

Laura: Well, just to get to know Christ. Get fall in love with Him. Know Him more, we will obey Him more. That's the way to go, walking with God every day, knowing Him even more, walking in His strength, in His power through His Word. And so, we are encouraging women to sign on to this challenge again. We want to do that every single year now, after we tasted this. We don't want to just do it just one year. And like you were saying, we have this Bible. You know if you have that Bible, great, but you can do it with any Bible, with your own Bible. You can follow along with us and read the Bible through the whole year. We're just anticipating a lot more testimony of transformed lives and people that love the Lord and just want to serve Him and say, “Yes, Lord.”

Dannah: Yes. I'm so excited about that. Laura. Thank you. I also noticed Alejandra you called her Laura, the English version and “Loura” just for a moment there. We are so grateful that you're with us and that you're helping transformed hearts and lives and you don't have to be a Spanish speaker or a Latin American woman to have a hunger to read God's Word this year and be transformed by it. When we're obedient to open His Word, we are transformed. And that's good news. Thank you, Laura, for being with us today.

Laura: Thanks for having me.

Dannah: Back to you, my friend, Portia.

Portia: Oh, that was so good. I love more. I love all of you. But that was so, so good. 

Getting Grounded with Gretchen Saffles (20:20)

Well, now we have Gretchen Saffles with us. And I am so excited. Oh, I feel like I'm always excited, y’all. But Gretchen is joining us now. Gretchen is the founder of Well-Watered Women. She is a wife, a mama. She loves God's Word. I feel like we share similar hearts and so much. I've been fortunate enough to write with Gretchen for Well-Watered Women. And so, I'm super excited to have her with us today. So, Gretchen, are you there? Welcome. 

Gretchen Saffles: Hi, Portia. I am here.

Portia: Hi. Hi. So let's get right to it. I know that you started Well-Watered Women in 2014, correct? 

Gretchen: Correct. 

Portia: Cool. Share with me a little bit what is the heart behind this ministry? 

Gretchen: Yeah, the heart behind Well-Watered Women is to encourage and equip women to be rooted deeply in God's Word. If we want to live for Christ, we have to know Him. And we have to put Him first. He is the one who transforms our lives in our hearts. And that comes from knowing the Word of God. So, the whole purpose of Well-Watered Women comes from Isaiah 58:11, that we would be like well-watered gardens, because our roots are deep in God's unchanging Word. 

Portia: Oh, I love, love, love that word deeply. I remember reading that on your website when I first came into contact with Well-Watered Women. And so, I love that. I really want to kind of dig in a little bit there. Specifically, how do you encourage women to get into Scripture deeply? How did they dig in deeply to God's Word?

Gretchen: Yeah. So, there's a lot of different ways. I've actually got my Bible open here to Psalm 119. Because I want to read two verses. As I was reading them this morning, the Lord was just like these are the words that should encompass our passion and our desire to be in the Word.

In verse 15, and 16, it says,

I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

And I love these four things the Psalmist tells us to do: to meditate, to fix our eyes on the Word, to delight in God's Word, and not to forget it. And so those four things are what we want to encourage women to do every day. 

So first, to meditate on God's Word. You need to know it, you need to be reading it, studying it, thinking deeply and fervently on God's Word. The more we think deeply on God's Word, it gets into our souls. And as we go throughout our days, taking care of our kids, working, going to the grocery store, God's Word and His presence, it goes with us. 

So, we want to encourage women to first of all open their Bibles and to read God's Word. And the amazing thing is we have so many different resources right now. We can listen to God's Word through different Bible apps. I mean, literally, the Bible app, if you've got your kids and you've had a crazy rush morning, you can open that up and listen to God's Word. 

And we know from Romans that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. So, as we hear it, as we digest it, God's Word stays in us, and it grows those deeper roots so that whenever storms come, which we know they come . . . This year has been like one long storm for pretty much everybody in the world. Those who have been in God's Word are the ones who have grown stronger through it. 

So, we want to encourage women to read it, to study it, to memorize it, and to delight in God's Word, and just to enjoy God through His Word through reading it, through telling other people about it as well. 

Portia: Oh, I just love that. So, tell me this, how has digging into God's Word specifically changed your life?

Gretchen: Oh, my goodness. I love everything that y'all have been saying this morning, because God's Word is literally my anchor. There have been times where I think everybody would be able to say this. I have felt like my life was falling apart. But God's Word is what has held it together. I want to encourage women because there have been times when I was reading through the Bible, or maybe I was reading through an Old Testament book, and a trial started to happen in my life, something very unexpected. It can be our temptation to go, “Oh, I need to find something that's more applicable for what's going on in my life.” But when I stuck in God's Word, even if I was just in Deuteronomy or Exodus or 1 Timothy, wherever I was, God's Word is always living and active, and He met me there in His Word no matter what I was reading. And so that is such a great encouragement.

I have been through seasons in life where I have just felt like the ground beneath me was shaking. And yet God's Word is unchanging, even when the world around us is shifting and shaking and everything feels like it's falling apart. His Word is stable and steadfast. Even in transition, Christ is our stability. The gospel is our hope. And so, the more I have been in God's Word, the hungrier I become. I love to say the more you taste Jesus, the rest of the world will lose its flavor. 

I think one of the biggest hindrances for women to getting into God's Word is their phones. We wake up and we feel like we need to check our apps right away. Did anybody send us an email? What happened in the world, especially this year, because it seems like every day, there's a new news story that we need to know what's happening. 

But when we go to God's Word first, and when we put the Word before the world, it actually gives us the armor and the strength and the grace and the peace and the wisdom we need for that day. 

And so, I have known that I never, ever regret spending in time in God's Word. But I do regret when I wake up and I don't spend time in God's Word. His Word has given me exactly what I need to be the mother that I'm called to be, the wife to my husband, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a Christ follower. God's Word is what equips me to do that every day.

Portia: Oh, I love that you're sharing so many wisdom bombs. I want to keep pressing in a little bit more here. I know that there's probably a sister out there who wants to get in God's Word, the desire may be there. But she really needs practical wisdom, or maybe some practical steps. So can you share just a few practical tips for building a routine and really starting. I believe in habits. I think a lot of times, if it's not a habit for us, then it's hard for us to do it. So, what are some good things that we can do to really start forming a habit of being in God's Word?

Gretchen: Yes, I love to think about rhythms, you know, it just flows in your day. And what if we instead incorporated gospel rhythms into our days? A lot of times I think I need to drink more water, I need to exercise, I need to stay up on my laundry. We think about these very practical things. But really, God's Word is what should shape and motivate all of those very practical things in our days. 

So, this is getting very, very practical. Number one, have a plan. When you're going into the new year, we just talked about the ministry that Revive Our Hearts has that is encouraging women to go through God's Word every single day. There are a lot of different Bible reading plans out there. You can do one that's 365 days; you could do a two-year reading plan. 

You can also maybe choose to study the New Testament, or maybe you're going to dive deep into the book of Matthew or Psalms. Have a plan, have a study in place, have something even written out for you that you can every day check this off. 

I want to say something here. Reading your Bible is not something just to check off. It's not a to-do list. It's our delight as God's followers. 

Portia: Yes.

Gretchen: But it helps to know that when I wake up in the morning, me personally, right now I am reading through the book of Matthew. I'm studying that book. I have my bookmark right here, and I open up straight to the book of Matthew, right where I left off. So, have a plan for what you're going to read.

I also want to encourage you to have everything in place for when you're going to read it. So have a plan and a place. So, the night before I like to get everything set up. I love to get my Bible, I get my quiet time journal out, I get my pen. How many times do you wake up and you are going to read God's Word and you're like, “Where's my pen? Where's my Bible? Where did I put all of this stuff?” 

So, have a plan, have a place, and remember your purpose. Our purpose for studying God's Word is to know Him, the Maker of the universe, the One who keeps the world spinning, who created you, who sent His Son to die for you and raised Him to life. We want to know Him. So, having that purpose in mind is what motivates us as well. 

I also want to encourage you very practically to have some more rhythms into your life. Maybe you want to memorize more Scripture. There are very practical ways. You can write that verse with a dry erase marker on your mirror. Because we all get ready in the morning. We brush our teeth, we do our hair, put on our makeup. You can have that verse written right there or on a post it note. You can take that in your car with you. You could get a 3x5 index binder and write verses on it. And when you're sitting in the carpool line at school, which I sit in every day with my kids, we can pull that out and read that and memorize it. 

And one more thing that I have sought to do this year that has been really, really transformative is before I go to bed, I work on Scripture memorization, and I meditate on God's Word. I love to use the verses app at that time. I just use my iPod. 

Portia: You too?

Gretchen: Yes, I could have probably 15 different ways you can make like a catalogue of. So, I've got verses on God's character. I have different songs I'm memorizing. I've been working on Romans chapter eight. And you mentioned, words for the year at the beginning of this year. I do love to pick a word for the year. As I prayerfully think about what are some different goals and things that I want to pursue this year, I also got a bunch of different verses for that. 

So, I will pull that up and meditate on those. I'm meditating on them going to sleep. I mean, there's nothing better to think about when you're falling asleep at night. A lot of times it's the worries of the day that. But instead, what if we ended our day talking to God and thinking about His Word? 

So, using that app and writing out Scripture, we can incorporate this into our daily routine, even listening to it as you're just washing dishes, as you're folding the laundry. And that sets an example for our kids or roommates. All of the people that are around us, they're going to see that difference. And the difference is Christ in you.

Portia: Oh, I love it. Love that. So, one final question. We're wrapping up our time, but I really want to squeeze this in. I know that there's a woman who is saying, “All right, I got a plan. I got a place. I understand the purpose. But what I am trying, I keep failing. It's like I just can not get it to stick.” What general encouragement would you give to that woman who is just experiencing massive amounts of discouragement as it pertains to getting into God's Word? How would you encourage her to push her?

Gretchen: Yeah, well, first of all, we've all felt like a Bible study drop out at certain times in our lives. I know when I first had kids, I had a newborn, and it was hard to get into God's Word because not only the time, but my brain was so tired. 

And so, we've all felt like that at times. But I want to encourage you, God's grace is sufficient for you in this season, His grace is sufficient. And right now, I don't know what's going on in your life. It may be just personal discouragement. Or it may be that you're just walking through a hard season. You're caring for a loved one, you have a newborn at home, to know that God's Word is with you. And He is for you in this.

I want to encourage you also to be involved in your local church, be involved in the body of Christ, who will also encourage you to be in the Word and strengthen you through prayer and through encouragement. Maybe seek out an accountability partner, another sister in Christ to walk alongside you as you're reading God's Word. Maybe you two can memorize Scripture together or read through a certain passage. 

But I want to encourage you also that Satan is a real enemy, and he does not want us to be in God's Word. He wants to discourage us and to deter us from opening our Bibles. And so, God's Word will give you exactly what you need for this day, even when you don't feel like opening the Bible. I know we've all felt like that there are mornings where I'm just tired or cranky or whatever it is. I don't feel like opening God's Word. But I know this is my nourishment, my spiritual nourishment, my spiritual food. 

So I want to encourage you, don't give up. Come to Christ in your need, because He is there and He is willing to offer you all the strength that you need for this day. And also, ask Him (like Revive Our Hearts) revive my heart, God, revive my heart and my desire to know You more, and He will do that.

Portia: Absolutely, absolutely. Oh, Gretchen, thank you so much for being with us. I'm looking at some messages. I know that some people want a little bit of clarity on the verses as we mentioned. So, we're going to drop a link to that to the Verses app. I'm actually popping it in right now so you guys can check it out. It's one of my favorite apps. 

We also talked about the Dwell Bible app, Scripture reading Bible apps. I love Dwell Bible. She has popped up. Is that the verses app that you have there? 

Gretchen: This is. I love that it is practical.

Portia: It is very practical. Yes, I've used it for years. So we will pop links in for you guys and just some good resources. Thank you so much for being with us today, Gretchen. I so appreciate it. I hope you have a wonderful, blessed new year.

Gretchen: Thank you, you too. 

Portia: Alright, everybody, one way to stay motivated to read our Bibles is to open them together. And so, guess what? It is time to get grounded in God's Word. Dannah, where are you my friend?

Grounded in the Word: Luke 1:45–46 (35:23)

Dannah: Hello, Portia. Hey, I’ve got to tell you that you guys keep talking about having a word of the year. In 53 years, I've only had one word of the year. I wanted to remember it. So had it painted. This was several years ago when I was praying for one of my children. And in a Scripture verse, God gave me the word “possible” to pray for her. I didn't want to forget it. So, I had it painted. And here I am at 53. I’ve got my second word of the year. It's “ponder.” That's my word for 2021. 

I want to explain to you how I found it. I was worrying and fretting, maybe about a week or so ago. I was just feeling so much to do as a wife, as a mom, as a grandmother and new grandmother, as a working woman. And on top of that, there's just so much happening in our broken, divisive, hurting world. 

And so, I did what I sometimes do when I'm overwhelmed by it. I started scrolling Instagram to take a break. Take a break. Can you say medicate? Uh huh. Okay, you caught me. My friend Janet Mylan, who just started podcasting, had posted some words that stopped me in my tracks. She'd written Take the Mary Challenge. One week of not magnifying my problems. No complaining. Well, it hit me square in the eyes, my friends. It stepped on all my toes and made me slow down. Was she reading my used to be prayer journal turned record of complaints journal?

Of course, she was talking about Mary, the mother of our precious Jesus. Now, I know Christmas is over. But I'm still parked in this part of the story. In fact, if you have it open your Bibles to the Christmas story. We're going to go there in just a minute to the book of Luke. I'm making plans to stay parked in this story all year long. 

Now, let's remember, Mary had a lot of problems. It wasn't a perfect little manger scene like we sometimes think. She had a troubled government. The leadership was corrupt. On top of that, the faith of the believers in Galilee was dead. God's prophets hadn't spoken for hundreds of yours. 

On top of that Mary had personal problems. And they were probably scarier to her. She was pregnant and young and out-of-wedlock. Her husband to be had plans at one point very recently to divorce her quietly. But what do we find her doing? 

Well, let me read to you Luke, chapter 1 verses 45 and 46, Mary said:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.

Let me ask that question again. What do we find her doing in the middle of all the ruin? Magnifying God, declaring that she's blessed. Now, it's not that Mary didn't freak out maybe a little. I mean, we have record that she ran to her friend Elizabeth. You know, sometimes you just need a good chat with a girlfriend. So, if that's what you need today to do today, go run to one. 

But here's the question I have to ask myself about the Mary challenge. How does the girl avoid being overwhelmed when there's so much bad around her? Beyond that, how is she magnifying God instead of complaining in the middle of it? 

So, I kept reading more about Mary in Luke 1 in verse 2. Then I came to Luke chapter 2, verse 19. Let me read it to you. This is after the birth of Jesus. She's laid him in a manger. 

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

What things? The shepherds showing up, affirming her faith, the clean hay for the baby, a husband who stayed to help with the delivery. In the middle of all the bad, there was good. What things? A God who was speaking again, the shepherds were evident, and people were hearing not just the shepherds but Joseph had heard, and she had too, and signs from heaven, like the star. She looked at those things, and she pondered them. 

Not the bad things, not the hard things, the hard circumstances, all the opportunities to complain. But she pondered the God things. And the way He showed up in the circumstances. They were all opportunities to magnify Him.

My friend, 2020 may be ending, but you and I are still going to have plenty of opportunities to complain in the coming weeks. It's been heavy on my heart that Christians have spent a good deal of 2020 making sure our complaints get equal stage time; let's not do that anymore. Let's ponder. 

Oh, I think you know what it means. It means you think about it, you think about it, you think about it, and you mull it over in your head. But did you know this? That the meaning of the word ponder, if you look it up in the dictionary, it means “to weigh in mind.”

I want to challenge you to go ahead and do that. Put your circumstances on the scales. They're easy to keep on your mind, since you see them all day. But put God's promises on the other side. Now, you're going to have to look a little harder, get into His Word daily, to keep them in mind. But then wait on it and see. 

I'm going to guarantee you that every single time, His promises will outweigh the promise. Every single time His promises will outweigh the problems. And then you know what happens? At least in my heart, when I finally realize that I magnify and that's just a fancy word that means to make bigger, God gets bigger in my heart, when I ponder the right things. 

And my friend, the only way to make God big is to remind yourself just how big He is and pondering or weighing your problems against His promises. That's what you need to do to fix your vision for 2021 in a great, big way. 

Erin: Oh,I love that, Dannah. You know, I don't need to pick a word of the year because I surround myself with women of faith, like you, who pick powerful words for the year. So, I'm gonna feel Portia and focus on the Lord’s strength and steal yours and ponder what the Lord has done so that I can magnify Him, I love that. 

New Year’s Resolution: Daily Bible Reading (42:25)

Well, we want to challenge you to make a very specific resolution in 2021. We believe it is the resolution that you need most. We've talked amongst each other how we feel like this is the most important episode of Grounded that we have done in 2020, and may do looking forward in 2021. Because this is the resolution that can lead to true transformation. And it's so simple. Read your Bible, every day in 2021. 

There is power in reading God's Word together, and encouraging each other on. The Bible calls that spurring each other on towards righteousness and good deeds. And in many ways, that is what Grounded is all about. It's about us encouraging each other to keep reading our Bible. So, if you're ready to make this your 2021 resolution, I'm going to read the Bible every day, I want to hear from you. I hope there are thousands of you agreeing to read the Bible and 2021 hundreds of thousands many hundreds of thousands. You can just say “I'm in,” right there in the chat, or raise a little virtual hand in the chat. Somehow let us know if you're willing to attend. We're talking about in a minute how we need the Lord's help with this. But to read your Bible every day and 2021, you’ve got to let us know. 

And you know what, we can't do it in our own strength. Even if we look at the year ahead, we go, “Yeah, I'm gonna do it.” We can't do it in our own stream. And so, I've invited the Grounded prayer team to join us this morning. As they're popping on, let me just tell you some things about them. This Grounded prayer team. Now, they're not all joining us this morning. They've sent a delegation of some prayer warriors. 

This team is fiercely committed to praying for you. They gather in a Zoom Room regularly to pray for Grounded and the women who watch it. They have fasted more than once for you to hear from the Lord and respond to Him as a result of what you're hearing on Grounded.

Joy and I kind of communicate pretty regularly about it. I often get reports back of the Grounded prayer team praying through tears for you. They love you and some of them are here this morning to pray for the Holy Spirit to empower you to get into the God's Word this year. I hope they're gonna pray that for me to. Welcome Joy, Leslie, and Becky we're so glad you're here on Grounded.

Leslie: Great to be here.

Erin: Well, I know How much the Word has transformed each of your lives. I've got a front row seat to His work in your hearts and how much prayer is a part of your personal study of God's Word. So you really are experts to help us dig into God's Word in 2021. Leslie, before you pray, you've got a story that you have on your heart to tell us about a parking lot prayer.

Leslie: I do, I'd love to share it. Because if it weren't for my friend, Pam, I might still be struggling with hot and cold Bible reading. When it was hot, it was hot. And when it was cold, it was cold, which meant I did not pick up my Bible for days on end. So, here's the story, Erin.

Four friends of mine, we were standing in a church parking lot after attending a prayer conference. And my friend Pam challenged each one of us standing in a circle to read the Bible every day for one year. It's the same resolution that we're making right here on Grounded.

And I've got to be honest with you, when she said that idea, it totally terrified me. I took a step back. I didn't want anything to do with that. The longer we talked, the more my stomach just tied tighter and tighter into a knot. And my other friend said yes, but I didn't want to commit. Because I knew that I could not keep that promise. Based on my past record.

Erin: There's so many listening. Right now, mostly that when I said this is the resolution, they said, “Uh uh, I don’t want to do it, because I'm not gonna make it,” right? They don't want to set themselves up to fail.

Leslie: Exactly right. And I looked at Pam, and she was such a godly influence in my life. She'd walked with the Lord longer than I had. So, because of her influence, I very reluctantly said yes, but I expected to fail at it. If I had known then, what I know now, I would have understood that it's not me that it's the Holy Spirit that would enable me to keep my parking lot promise, not only just to keep it, but to make it into a lifelong habit. 

We've heard so many great tips from Laura and Gretchen and Dannah this morning. And what made the difference for me was having that partner for accountability, a daily Bible reading plan, you've already heard that this morning, and then praying for God's help, and an insatiable desire for His Word. And it became so liberating for me. I didn't have to wake up in the morning and say, “Oh, my gosh, do I have time? Can I get in the Word this morning? Or how am I going to fit it in today?” I didn't have that. It was so free. I just made a once and for all decision to be a woman at the Word. And 20 years later, it's the best decision I've ever made.

Erin: I was gonna ask you how long ago that was—20 years. And I'm sure you do not regret that Pam challenge that she gave us. You know, none of us would open the Bible. Without the Spirit’s help, we wouldn't even have the desire to open the Bible. Without the Spirit's help, we don't want to read God's Word in the flesh. And none of us have the self-control required to keep reading it. I hope that's liberating to you. I hope you don't think you are the one woman on the planet who doesn't have the self-control. None of us have control. 

So, that's why I've invited this prayer team to join us. They're going to read you some verses from Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is all about the delight of God's Word. And I'm gonna invite you to grab your Bible and maybe follow along with them. They are just going to pray that this would be the year of God's Word in your life. So, Joy, I'm gonna ask you to kick us off. Joy leads the Grounded prayer team. Joy, can you read a Psalm 119, verses 10 through 12? And then just pray as the Lord leads.

Joy McClain: I’d be delighted.
 

With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!

Father, God, we need you. Lord, we ask that with our whole hearts that You would invite us into Your presence, Holy Spirit. We invite you into our day, into this coming new year into the nooks and crannies of our soul—places we have hidden from You, Lord, places we have been, places we have felt disgraced in shame. 

God, we pray that You would come in and clean us, make us whole, make us feel so united with You, Father. And Lord, we pray that we would not wander from your commandments, Lord, that we would be so in love with You that as Leslie said, that we would have an insatiable desire for Your Word, for pleasing You, to be in fellowship unbroken with You. 

And Lord, that we would store up Your Word in our hearts. The only way that happens is if we read it, we meditate on it, we chew on it, we think about it. We wake up with it, we go to sleep with it, we ponder it, Lord, and we feel it and believe in its strength. Lord, fill us with the power of Your Holy Word. God, so that we might not sin against You. And Lord, You are blessed. You are God Almighty, Alpha, Omega, Lion and Lamb, Author of life, Author of this Word. Lord, You speak and it is. You are our Healer, Great Physician.

Lord, Your words are ever on our lips, and we are led by Your Spirit. Fill us with Your presence. Fill us with Your goodness and teach us. Teach us Your ways. Teach us Your statutes. Teach us Your laws. Teach us the goodness that we find here in Your Word. Teach us the goodness of Your Son Jesus, teach us the goodness of it is walking daily with You, of loving You, of reading Your Word, of being filled with Your Spirit.

Lord, we desire You in this new year. We don't know what's coming. But we know You're in it. We know You're already there. You are our peace, our hope, our comfort. There is nothing more powerful than You. There is nothing greater than You. There is nothing more peace-inducing. We must have Your mind. So personally, I must have You. I must have Your Word. And I thank You, Father, that we are so blessed among women, Your daughters, that we have this precious Word and Your Spirit with us. Oh, Father, come and fill us. Come and fill us this new year. Thank you, Lord. In Your Son's name we pray, amen.

Erin: Amen. Becky, there are times when you pray that you just open your mouth and my eyes fill with tears. And I know that's because you know and pray God's Word. So would you read a Psalm 119: 89–92. And then pray?

Becky: Sure. Your word says forever, oh Lord,

Forever, O Lord, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.

Lord, Your Word is absolutely true. You are a shield to us. Underneath are Your everlasting arms. Yes, Your Word is fixed in the heavenly places. And every word that You have spoken proves true. We can stand on that. And we can have what I pray for my sisters here, that we would have a settled confidence in Your Word, that it is forever fixed, that underneath are Your everlasting ways, and that we would find our way by delighting in You.

And Lord, I just pray that we would have the desire to dwell with You. That we would desire to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek after You with our whole heart, Lord. For Your Word is forever, forever firmly fixed in the heavens, and Your faithfulness does endure to all generations. Lord, I pray that as we take in Your Word like Jeremiah, that Your Word was found and we ate it, and that Your words in this coming year would become to us a joy and the delight of our heart. For we are called by Your name God of hosts. 

So, Lord, You have established this day, this time, for such a time as this, and you have given us Your Word. And Lord, may we walk and be blessed in the settled confidence that You are, that whatever You say proves true, and that You are a shield to all who take refuge in You. So may we dwell, may we behold, and may we seek You with our whole heart. And I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Erin: Amen. You know what, Leslie? I have a hunch Pam may have prayed for you a time or two during that first year to persevere. And so you can be that person for us? Just wrap up our prayer time by reading Psalm 119:103–104. And pray.

Leslie: Yeah, it'd be my honor

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

So Heavenly Father, what a joy and privilege it is to lift up our Grounded family, our Grounded sisters, and to pray Father, that they would have an insatiable desire to feast on the sweetness of Your Word in 2021. I pray that they would taste and see that You are good. And Lord, just because we have failed in the past does not mean that we will fail now. Holy Spirit, would You come? Would You melt our hearts? Would You shape us? Would You mold us into women of the Word?

And Lord, may we not depend upon ourselves, but may we depend upon Your Spirit? Everything we need for life is found in your holy Scriptures. Give us understanding, discernment, discipline, love for Your truth so that we can tell the world of Your greatness and of Your glory and be used by You in our generation.

Father, for every woman making her Grounded resolution today, just as I made my parking lot promise 20 years ago, may she look back at this time next year and be able to say, “I walked with Jesus, and I am a changed woman.” And it is in the living Word that we pray this today. Amen.

Erin: Amen. Well, thank you Grounded prayer team. I know that the women watching are going to be encouraged to know that you're going to keep praying for them to keep the resolution to get into God's Word every day. You've been such a tremendous source of strength and comfort to me to know you're praying. So, we're so grateful for you. Alejandra. Take it away.

Dannah: Oh, hey, guys, it's time for our surprise. I can't believe that we've already gotten here. But are you ready, Alejandra? 

Alejandra: I am.

Dannah: Are you ready, Erin Davis?

Erin: I was born ready for surprises. Let's surprise them.

Dannah: Let’s have a surprise.

Children's Poem: Quina Aragon (57:57)

Erin: All right, here it is. Quina Aragon is with us this morning. And in case you're feeling like reading God's Word every day is a chore or a source of guilt. Quina has a children's poem to share with us that reminds us that God has given us His Word because he loves us. So Quina, you're our big surprise. Take it away. 

Quina Aragon: Thank you so excited to be here with you guys. 

Before God made the heavens and the earth, He lived in perfect joy. 

He delighted in himself. 

One forever existing perfect being Father, Son and Spirit. All one.

So before time was there was love.

In love, God made everything, even you and me. 

Now, he made us to be His friends.

But we have a big, big problem. 

Do you know what it is? Sin.

Our greatest grandparents Adam and Eve walked away from God in the Garden of Eden. 

And since then, we are all born with a seed of sin in our hearts. 

We lie, we steal, we cheat, and it all breaks His heart. 

You see, God is perfectly clean, like a brand new shirt. 

Our sin makes us filthy, like we rolled in the dirt. 

So the big, big problem is this. 

God is so good. And sin is so bad.

God and sin just can't be friends. 

What should God do with us?

We have sin and because of our sin, we should get forever death forever far away fromHhim forever. 

Never God's friend all because of sin. 

But God His love the Father, the Spirit, the Son and love loved so much love gave us, Jesus. 

Now, Jesus is God's Son, but He was a lot like you and like me. 

He loved to play, talk, and sing. 

And you know what else He loved? Children. 

They'd come for stories and tickles and hugs. 

Sometimes they'd come with messy hair and stinky feet. 

But do you think Jesus loves them any less? 

Do you think he'd sometimes make them take a bath?

Of course not. 

He brought them close every time and showed them what God is like—strong and gentle, honest, and kind. 

Then one day, like the most amazing friend, Jesus gave us the biggest gift.

A gift more exciting than your wildest dreams.

A gift sweeter than all the ice cream you could ever eat.

A gift even better than 100 presents. 

A gift that cost the price of Heaven.

Can you guess what it was that Jesus gave us? 

Well, here it is. Jesus died and rose again, to take away all our sins and make us His forever friends. 

You see, this gift God gave was the greatest gift of all.

He gave us Himself. 

That is love. 

So how can we get God's greatest gift? 

How can we become Jesus's friends? 

By trying really, really hard to be perfect?

By saving all our pennies to pay for it? 

By learning a bunch of big, big words like communicable attributes? 

No, no, no, none of those things will do.

Don't you see? God is love.

And love is received by anyone who will just believe.

Erin: Ah, I love it. I love it. That was the gospel. And it's the gospel which compels us to open our Bibles every day in 2021. It's God's love that keeps us opening it up, not shame or guilt. Thank you so much. You are a wonderful surprise guest. 

Well, studies show, you already know this, 80% of our New Year's resolutions fail. So, we're talking about this resolution? And I don't know Dannah, have you ever had that experience? 

Dannah: I’ll tell you what, Erin, my resolutions don't usually make it to Valentine's Day.

Erin: I hear you. I hear you. About you Alejandra?

Alejandra: Well, we cannot be women grounded in God's Word in our own strength. We need God's help, and we need each other.

Erin: We need each other, and you can count on us pointing you to God's Word in every single episode of Grounded in 2021. In fact, if I don't, call us on it. That's our commitment to you. We're going to point you to God's Word in every episode of Grounded in 2021. Because the Bible is the source of hope and perspective.

Dannah: Yeah, and at the same time, we don't want to romanticize the year ahead with all of our competence in being in God's Word. There are going to be challenges in each of our lives. And we're all going to face the temptation to reach for something else to just get us through, or to help us change. 

Erin: Remember, God's Word has the power to truly transform us. And you’ve still got time, will you make the commitment to open your Bible every day in 2021? This feels like a moment for Grounded fist bump, so Quina, Portia, Dannah, Alejandra, we're in. All right.

Alejandra: We are certainly. So friends, let's wake up with hope together next Monday on Grounded.

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra Slemin

Alejandra is a sinner who believed in Jesus at the age of seven in her native country, Dominican Republic. She is a wife and homeschool mom. She's passionate about Christ, studying the Scriptures, discipling, teaching, and learning alongside women. Currently, she supports her husband as he serves as a church planter in Victoria, BC, Canada. Alejandra loves herbs, designing headbands with her daughter, being outdoors, and serving her community.

About the Guests

Laura Gonzalez de Chavez

Laura Gonzalez de Chavez

Laura's passion is to disciple women of all ages with the solid foundation of God's Word and to help them live up to the faith they have embraced. Laura is a biblical counselor and mentor to many young women. She currently directs Aviva Nuestros Corazones, the Spanish arm of the  Revive Our Hearts ministry, a task that has helped her reach the women of her generation with the message of the gospel and biblical womanhood. 

Gretchen Saffles

Gretchen Saffles

Gretchen Saffles is the founder of the global online women's ministry Well-Watered Women, the creator of the Give Me Jesus quiet time journal, and a passionate writer who longs to see women grasp the fullness of the gospel in everyday life.  As she shares from her life experiences, Gretchen writes with authenticity and boldness, encouraging women to seek Christ right where they are and live in his abundance. Gretchen lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two sons and loves going on adventures with her family, traveling to new places, daydreaming of wildflower fields, cooking tasty meals, baking chocolate chip cookies, painting, reading good books, and teaching women to know and love Jesus.