116 episodes

We want to experience God through the Bible… we really do!

But our good intentions fall flat when reading the Bible just doesn’t seem to help us experience God in a real way. What should feel dynamic and important and alive often feels confusing and boring and irrelevant. But it doesn’t have to.

In this podcast, pastor and Bible teacher Nicole Unice brings life back to reading the Bible by walking listeners through her Alive Method of Bible study, helping us personally encounter God through his Word by giving us a practical, clear road map for understanding, interpreting and applying Scripture to our lives.

How to Study the Bible LifeAudio

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.7 • 243 Ratings

We want to experience God through the Bible… we really do!

But our good intentions fall flat when reading the Bible just doesn’t seem to help us experience God in a real way. What should feel dynamic and important and alive often feels confusing and boring and irrelevant. But it doesn’t have to.

In this podcast, pastor and Bible teacher Nicole Unice brings life back to reading the Bible by walking listeners through her Alive Method of Bible study, helping us personally encounter God through his Word by giving us a practical, clear road map for understanding, interpreting and applying Scripture to our lives.

    Why ‘Crucifying Self’ Is Key to the Good Life (Galatians 6:14)

    Why ‘Crucifying Self’ Is Key to the Good Life (Galatians 6:14)

    Today we’re exploring the highest call we have in following Jesus: what it means to crucify the self. Why does the call to Christ have to seem so wholesale, so violent, so destructive to ourselves? Why does following Christ have to feel like a death? How do we reconcile being made in the image of God with this sense that we are worthless?

    Let’s explore all of that together today. You can find the full show notes at https://www.lifeaudio.com/how-to-study-the-bible/

    Secrets of the Good Life Series:

    Week 1: The First Secret of the Good Life: Consider GodWeek 2: Confess and Receive: The Second Secret of the Good Life (Psalm 51)Week 3: How to Fight Fear: The Third Secret of the Good Life

    Week 4: Joy Is Not a Feeling You Wait For; It’s a Choice You Make (Philippians 4:4-7)

    Galatians 6:14

    14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

    WHAT DOES IT SAY?

    What questions does it generate in me? If you try to re-write this in your own words, what do you come up with? What is Paul trying to get us to see and understand in this analogy?

    WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?

    Is this a train of thought or a point of teaching that we find repeated in Scripture? 

    Cross references: 1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 3, Romans 6:6

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    Let’s put these cross-references together to get a clearer picture of what Paul is talking about:

    1 Corinthians 2:2-5: For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified… so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

    There are two systems at work in the world: human wisdom and human strength, and then there is this whole other system: God’s power

    Philippians 3:3-9

    For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence… But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 

    According to the system of the world, Paul had everything. But after Christ, everything worldly is considered garbage. Not only are there two systems in the world, but having operated in both, he finds system of Christ so good that everything else seems like a loss.

    Romans 6:6-7

    For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

    When we die to the way of the world, we are no longer slaves to the things the world demands. You don’t have to be or earn or prove anything. How do we enter this completely different system through the cross of Jesus Christ?

    This is where the sacrament of communion comes in. “His body was broken so that we can have access to God through him.” But there is a cost to us. We don’t just enter this new system without a cost – and the cost is that we crucify the self.

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

    To crucify self is to let go of an entire system of action and being and feeling, and to enter into an entirely different system. This system is so glorious, so freeing and so powerful, that you will look back on your old self and think, “I can’t believe I used to operate that way. I operated in bondage to what people thought of me, to achievement, to unforgiveness and bitterness and anger.”

    When we crucify that old self, we crucify these things in the old system. When we sacrifice that system of living, we find there is only freedom on the other

    • 18 min
    Joy Is Not a Feeling You Wait For; It’s a Choice You Make (Philippians 4:4-7)

    Joy Is Not a Feeling You Wait For; It’s a Choice You Make (Philippians 4:4-7)

    Your life is meant to change when you begin to follow Jesus. But for so many of us, that doesn’t happen. Why the disconnect? This series is all about unlocking the good life in Christ, and what it really means to be changed by him.

    Secrets of the Good Life Series:

    Week 1: The First Secret of the Good Life: Consider GodWeek 2: Confess and Receive: The Second Secret of the Good Life (Psalm 51)Week 3: How to Fight Fear: The Third Secret of the Good Life

    This week (week 4), we’re looking at what it means to really choose joy.

    WHAT DOES IT SAY?

    Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    If you want to know how to start your day out with God, here it is!

    “Always” – rejoicing is not limited to when everything is going well in our lives. Joy is not a feeling you have but a choice you make.

    “Gentleness” – the fruit of our time with God is a gentle spirit, our gentleness should be evident to other people.

    “Every situation” – nothing is too small

    “The peace of God… will guard your heart” – his peace will keep you from spiraling into anxiety, or stop you from trying to control everything

    WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?

    Pastoral letters like Philippians give us a view of what’s happening in the church as more people believe and as Christianity is spreading.

    Pastoral letters set a direction for us. We do not need to be confused about who we are meant to become – the Word shows us.

    If you’re feeling down, or anxious, this is a great letter for you. The theme of joy echoes throughout Philippians, where Paul is making it clear that joy is based on trusting the sovereignty of God and is always available.

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    What does it mean to choose joy? It is about rejoicing not in the circumstances but in who God is within the circumstances.

    Principle for the week: Joy comes from unshakable promises.

    Psalm 16:8: I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

    Isaiah 54:10: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

    Romans 14:17: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

    We must separate happiness and joy. Joy comes from things that can never be taken away.

    Joy is a practice.

    Make a list! Who does God want you to become? From these verses, we would say “always rejoicing” and “gentle” – is that the intention of your lives? Year after year, are you growing in these things?

    Make another list – what promises of God can you rejoice in each day? What attributes of God can you rejoice in today?

    RESOURCES:

    Nicole’s Book: Help My Bible Is Alive!

    Ask Nicole a Bible study question: nicole@nicoleunice.com

    FOLLOW NICOLE:Website: https://nicoleunice.com/YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nicoleuniceInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicoleunice/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicole.unice/
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 19 min
    How to Fight Fear: The Third Secret of the Good Life

    How to Fight Fear: The Third Secret of the Good Life

    Have you ever wondered how your fear overlaps with other people’s fears? I think we’d find we are far more fearful that we realize.

    There is healthy fear, and unhealthy fear. One of the roles of Christianity is a new way to understand what fear is and how God helps us be confident even in the most trying circumstances. Today, we’re going to look at what God has given us to fight the fear in our lives.

    In a 2022 survey of Americans, almost 9 out of 10 reported daily anxiety about inflation, with over 60% reporting daily anxiety over everything from health to relationships to global events. 

    Our recent history as a culture is full of trials that tempt us toward fear, whether it presents itself as a low rumble of worry always operating in the background of our mind, or a crippling anxiety that controls our every decision. When it comes to fear, the Bible has good news and bad news for us. First, the bad news: fear is as present a reality today as it was when the Bible was written, and there is no promise that circumstances will improve in a way that would give us reason not to fear.

    But the good news? What God promises us is not deliverance from fearful circumstances, but deliverance from a fearful heart. In Genesis 50, Joseph’s first words for his brothers were “do not be afraid.” The good news Joseph gave to his brothers pales in comparison to the good news we find in Jesus, who repeatedly affirms that we do not need to be afraid. In Christ, we can live in uncertainty and still have peace.

    (For the 19-30% of Americans with an anxiety disorder, simply “trusting God” is not the answer to a complicated illness. If your anxiety interferes with your ability to lead a normal life, there are treatments that can help alongside of your spiritual practices).

    The secret of the good life is NOT that suffering won’t happen, but that we can be different people, people without fear, because of Christ.

    Verses This Week:

    John 14: 26-27:  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

    Deuteronomy 31:6-8: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

    Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

    Hebrews 13:5-7: Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

    Practical Steps to Fight Fear:


    Watch out for what clutters your life. What we fear is often what we think we need to live in peace. Good things become ultimate things, Tim Keller says. When these good things become idols, we fear losing them so much we create anxiety around them.
    Practice contentment. This is like changing the channel in your brain and choosing to focus on what God has given you and his promises to you.
    Look for role models. Being in local community is so important for this reason. You need real, in the flesh human beings, who are role models for what it looks like to live out the Christian life.Remember: healthy fear is an instructor; unhealthy fear is a taskmaster.

    RESOURCES:

    Nico

    • 22 min
    Confess and Receive: The Second Secret of the Good Life (Psalm 51)

    Confess and Receive: The Second Secret of the Good Life (Psalm 51)

    Today, we’re going to be working through Psalm 51, and we’re going to work through it as a devotional using the Alive Method. I encourage you to get out your bible and journal as you listen.

    WHAT DOES IT SAY?

    Notice what you notice. Write down what stands out to you – that is God speaking to you through his Word. That alone is a beginning of a conversation with the Spirit.

    In Psalm 51:

    David acknowledges specific sin

    He longs for restoration, asking for it (“grant me a willing spirit”)

    A willingness to talk about your sin to testify to the grace of God

    WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY?

    This is the psalm David wrote after his sin with Bathsheba (listen to our episode on this story).

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    We cannot move into a place of joy and peace if we have unconfessed sin or thought patterns that do not align with the glory of God and the truth of his Word and promises to us.

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

    1. Do you have a practice of regular confession? If you feel blocked or dull in your study of God’s Word, consider what you need to confess to God. What places do you live in fear, anxiety, self-pity, or self-hatred? Are you able to say, “This thought pattern in me, does not represent the glory of God.” (If you have a clinical thought pattern problem, you might need outside therapies! Or you may not have a clinical crisis but still carry stuck thought patterns).

    2. After confession, we draw on God’s righteousness: A huge part of our faith is understanding that we throw ourselves onto the goodness of God, that we claim his character and his actions as the way we live and move (completely counter-cultural to the messages of today). I don’t have to claim to be righteous, I’m drawing on God’s righteousness. I need to own up to my mistakes and faulty and self-focused thinking.

    Two verses to memorize:

    Psalm 71:2: In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.

    1 John 1:9: if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    3. The more we consider, confess, and spend time with Jesus, the more we love what we love and detest what he detests: As we hang out more with Jesus, we want to be more like Jesus. As we look at ourselves clearly and objectively, we are going to discover that we don’t like the ways of wickedness, bit by bit. Sure, we keep failing and falling, but our desires begin to be for what God desires. It’s hard to spend time with the creator of the universe and keep claiming that we oversee our reality and our view of the world IF we are willing to confess and receive.

    RESOURCES:

    Nicole’s Book: Help My Bible Is Alive!

    Ask Nicole a Bible study question: nicole@nicoleunice.com

    FOLLOW NICOLE:Website: https://nicoleunice.com/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nicoleuniceInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicoleunice/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicole.unice/
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 22 min
    The First Secret of the Good Life: Consider God

    The First Secret of the Good Life: Consider God

    At the start of the year, I like to get back to the basics. What does the good life look like, according to Jesus? We have an opportunity to be a winsome follower of Jesus. If people were to see that hope in me and ask me about it, what would I say? How would I describe what the good news of Jesus is and the true, full life he offers us?

    The spiritual questions of this generation are centered on personal and societal pains, and how to choose joy, purpose and selflessness for the good of others. In this series, we’ll tackle these ideas and show how Jesus gives us the answers to our pressing questions about ourselves and the world.

    The first secret to a good life in our faith is to cultivate the posture of considering. To consider means a thoughtful engagement. It requires us to focus and pay attention. Psalm 8 – “When I consider the work of your hands.” We need to create space to be intentional about thinking.

    Most of us don’t make space to intentionally think, because when we do, it brings up negative feelings – anxiety, un-dealt with emotions, and places where we feel grief or loss or out of control.

    But when we disconnect from bad feelings, we disconnect from the good feelings of joy, hope, and love. To feel the fullness of joy, we also have to engage with the things that are difficult. Considering, then, is the first step to a more joyful life.

    What might this look like in our lives? Well, first, it might look like a 5-10 minute quiet walk or spending time to explore something outside of yourself and away from technological distractions.

    What our culture tends to do is look inside ourselves to find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. This “Gospel according to Oprah” sounds so good but it doesn’t work.

    John 4:24 tells us a better way. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” This is objective truth. Do you believe this?

    Your Practice For This Week: Consider – Who Is God?

    1. Read how God reveals himself in creation: Job 38

    2. Then, consider how God reveals himself through creation AND through his care for mankind: Isaiah 40:25-31

    3. Finally, read Psalm 8:1-4, and consider how God reveals himself, is mindful of us, AND has provided dominion, glory, and honor to us.

    What does it mean for me?

    When I feel unsure about where I stand in the world or how to make my way through it, I need to practice God-centered mindfulness we are called to; not to reflect on our own problems but to consider the glory of God and then place ourselves within his glory.

    RESOURCES:

    Nicole’s Book: Help My Bible Is Alive!

    Ask Nicole a Bible study question: nicole@nicoleunice.com

    FOLLOW NICOLE:Website: https://nicoleunice.com/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nicoleuniceInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicoleunice/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicole.unice/
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 26 min
    Mary: Surprised By Joy

    Mary: Surprised By Joy

    WHAT DOES IT SAY?

    Luke 1

    28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

    WHAT’S THE BACKSTORY?

    What do we know about Mary:

    -she knew some scripture-she was faithful-she was among the believers [not venerated, but in community]

    Acts 1:14

     14 They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

    Mary had no qualifications for being chosen.

    This beginning also mirrors our beginning when it comes to receiving the good news.

    All of the good news is contained here:

    You who are highly favored.

    In the context of the world, she is not highly favored. When we think of what makes someone highly favored, we tend to think of the examples we have in the world. But that wasn’t Mary at all. 

    You have found favor with God.

    [favor=charis=grace]

    -Not dependent on anything that she (or us) can do.

    The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers. (Deuteronomy 7:6–8)

    What was given through the Israelites is now passed to everyone:

    Galatians 3:14

    14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

    The Lord is with you.

     Matthew 1:23

    “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

     You aren’t alone. You aren’t isolated. God knows you.

    *Emmanuel

    But God with us, as in He comes to live inside us, giving us strength in place of weakness, courage in place of fear, and vibrant life in all those dark places that once felt dead. – Jennifer Slattery

    The power of being “with”. When people are hurting, we want to be with them. Waiting in hospital rooms. [Brantley/AJ]

    She receives two promises: highly favored, Lord with you. Crazy surprise –

    38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    Basil Pennington: “my self-worth my value depends on what I have, what I can do, and what others think of me”

    My false self protects me with:

    I am what I do.I am what I have.I am what others think of me.

    My true self:

    I am. (I am worthy)I am the Lord’s. (I belong)I am the Lord’s servant. (I have purpose)

    Living in our true self is about a radical acceptance of who we are, based on what God has decided.

    “Some Christians base their identity on being a sinner. I think they have it wrong—or only half right. You are not simply a sinner; you are a deeply loved sinner.”  David Benner

    Accepting the incredible surprise of the good news means releasing control.

    Receiving the gift of our favor is the ability to open our hands to everything God gives, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word be fulfilled.”

    Radical acceptance unlocks the joy of surprise.

    surprise-find-shift-change

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME?

    What sets Mary apart is her radical acceptance to God’s invitation, and what defines us as children of God is our radical acceptance to the same invitation.

    Radical Acceptance:

    God has not given up on me, no matter how I feel.

    I do not need to try harder.

    My pain and struggle is not wasted.

    My false self protects me with:

    I am what I do.I am what I have.I am what others think of me.

    My true self:

    I am. (I am worthy)I am the Lord’s. (I belong)I am the Lord’s servant. (I have purpose)

    FOLLOW NIC

    • 17 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
243 Ratings

243 Ratings

debbeck1 ,

Clear and truthful

I just found this study and started with the one on the Abrahamic covenant. I love how Nicole makes the NT take on a new meaning after understanding the OT. I am going to have to play catchup cuz I love these teachings. God bless you, Nicole, and thanks so much.

KayCee2018 ,

Thankful

There’s something about the way in which Nicole communicates the concepts in the Bible that makes it so digestible for me. Grateful for this podcast. Thank you so much. 🤍

MarkYelton49 ,

Fantastic messaging

I first learned of Nicole this past week at A church here in Denver, NC and I have not been moved like that in a sermon in a very long time. This podcast has taken up all of my free time this week. The messages are short and to the point and completely understandable. Nicole has a gift for expressing the word of God. Highly recommend to anyone

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