Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Part One: Daily Time in God's Word (Back 2 Basics Series)

Welcome back! I thought I might have lost you yesterday when I typed that “self-discipline” term into the blog. As I provided the overview to our January blog series, I emphasized our keyword for the month, which is “simple.” We’ve agreed not to over complicate or over-intellectualize the process of five faith-building practices that we’ll examine:

·       Daily Time in God’s Word
·       Prayer
·       Worship
·       Fasting
·       Scripture Memory

Today we launch the series with an emphasis on daily time in God’s Word. We’ll look closely at the how and why of this spiritual discipline with the aim of establishing it as a personal routine.

Why Spend Daily Time in the Bible?

In order to develop strong habits, one of the most important questions we should ask ourselves before beginning is, “Why am I doing this?” As we make progress toward developing a new habit, we need to know that the day when we’ll lose our desire to continue is not far away. In fact, it may be tomorrow . . . or even today. Knowing the why behind our actions is highly motivating and can keep us going on those tough days.  Let’s look at a few reasons why reading the Bible is a beneficial practice:

To Love God.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re commanded to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Darby Dugger recently said in her blog (actually, she quoted her oldest old daughter), “You can’t love someone you don’t know much about.” Darby went on to say, “Her comment was insightful and convicting. There is so much about the Lord I’m still learning and must remain hungry to know Him more.  Amen. I couldnt agree more.  (Read the context of Darby’s quote here). The more we read the Word of God, the more we discover the character and nature of the Lord of the universe. The more we learn about Him, the more capacity we have to love Him – and even delight in Him - as the Bible instructs.

It’s Foundational.

                  Reading the Word of God is a foundational practice that affects every part of our spiritual walk. As we hide His Word in our hearts, it bolsters our self-control and our desire to honor Him with our thoughts and actions. We begin to pray differently (and more effectively), worship with stronger conviction, witness to others with greater compassion, and follow God with purpose and passion.    

It Provides Focus.

                  When the Word of God begins to penetrate our hearts (and it will with consistent reading), our thoughts and focus begin to shift. Rather than finding ourselves consumed by the difficulty of a specific trial that we’re facing, we begin to turn our focus and gaze upon God, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. It becomes easier to see how big God is, especially as we compare His love and compassion to our daily situations.

And More!
                  If you’d like to read a few hundred more reasons why time in God’s Word is a worthy habit to form, take a few days and read Psalm 119. Prepare to be motivated. God’s Word is alive and active. It was not just written, it was breathed by the Creator, and He provides it to us as an act of love. Let’s not neglect such a priceless gift.

I can almost hear your groans. Believe me, I’ve groaned too at the thought of starting the habit of daily Bible reading. The “why’s” that are listed above are motivating and encouraging, but when I look at my calendar I wonder, “how in the world will I ever accomplish it?”

Remember, we’re focusing on simple. We’re developing a “can do” attitude here. We’re beginning habits that will bless every part of our lives, which is worth any struggle that comes. So stick with me as we look at some very practical ways to get started and develop a routine.

How to Spend Daily Time in the Bible:

Just do it!

                  Pick up your Bible and read a little. Every day. Enough said.

Make a Plan. Work Your Plan.

                  My personal preference is to spend time in the Word every morning. It helps start my day with purpose and meaning and directs my thoughts for the day. Like you, however, my morning routine doesn’t provide much margin and I struggle to squeak out a few minutes to read.

                  One of the most helpful routine adjustments was to begin preparing for my morning before I went to bed. I thought through what I’d wear the next day and made sure it was available and ready. I used the timer on my coffee maker and made it the night before. I prepared breakfast ingredients so they’d be easy to grab and go. With just a little planning, I found several extra minutes in my morning. You can too.

                  As I began to develop the habit and started to enjoy the process, I found it was easy to get up a few minutes earlier each day. Honestly, if I’d started with getting up earlier, it wouldn’t have gone well. I’m not a morning person and needed to find joy in my time with God before I valued it enough to sacrifice pillow time. That’s not my most “Christian” attitude, I know, but it’s the truth. Remember, we’re giving ourselves grace in this process. 

                  Make a plan that will work for you and your family and then work the plan. Small, simple steps are key.

When the Bible is Hard to Understand                

                  Jebusites. Agagites. Propitiation. What language are we reading anyway?  Sometimes the Bible can feel tricky to comprehend. Again, let’s give ourselves grace.  I keep a dictionary app and a Strong concordance app (both are free versions) on my phone and I look up words that I don’t understand. There’s no shame in that.

                  Ultimately, it’s the Holy Spirit whom we rely on for guidance and understanding. Each time we sit down to read, we should first ask Him to provide wisdom. He’ll reveal the meaning and application in due time. If we’re stuck, it’s okay to skip the hard parts and keep going. Someday, when God’s timing is right, He’ll shine light and provide insight to challenging passages. Until then, grab on to the obvious and celebrate the understanding that does come.

                  Let’s also remember that the Bible is one long chronology of historical events. It’s kind of like a novel, except that all of the events are true. Think of it like this: If you were watching a Star Wars movie for the first time, you wouldn’t recognize or understand the names of planets and galaxies. Unless you’re a historian, when you read the Bible you may not immediately recognize ancient lands and their people. For we non-historians, some parts won’t make much sense until we begin to understand context. But hang in there. Eventually, you’ll begin to put the pieces together.

                  It helps to slow down and contemplate the Bible. We’re not reading because we know we should. We’re reading to gain wisdom and discernment from God. It’s not a sprint, but rather a marathon. So slow down the process with a willingness to cling to all that the Lord gives.  There are countless Bible studies available to help God’s children gain insight and understanding.  I’ve authored two Bible studies - you can find them HERE.

                  I’m also providing a link to a free printable worksheet that I often use with my Bible reading. This process keeps me from walking away from my reading time without knowing what I’ve read. Let’s face it, our minds are prone to wander, and we can read without even thinking about the words on the page. Using the worksheet helps me contemplate. When I’ve completed the process outlined on the worksheet, I’m amazed at the treasures God provides through the Bible.

Your Turn:

What blessings do you find from daily time in God’s Word?

What adjustments have you made in your daily schedule to make room for the joy of reading the Bible?

Please comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s share our struggles and successes, our frustrations and celebrations. Together, we can create strong habits of faith-building practices and grow closer to God, step by step.

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


No comments:

Post a Comment