“I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.”
Psalm 119:15-16 (NLT).
It’s 8:00 in the evening. The kids are finally in the bed, the last of the dinner dishes have just been loaded into the dishwasher, the coffee pot is set for tomorrow and the kids lunches are packed in the fridge. You heave a great big thankful sigh, walk into your living room, get ready to sit down in your comfy chair and put your feet up to relax, when you remember you haven’t spent any time with the Lord that day. The feeling of guilt washes over you, followed by the mental war of whether to give yourself grace and go relax or dutifully go and open your Bible to at least pray a Psalm of thanksgiving for making it through another crazy day. Ever had one of those days? I know I have! And it’s never a fun way to end a day.
First, let me say this: please choose grace in those situations. God chooses grace every day with the atoning sacrifice of His Son. Secondly, it’s much easier for me to have my quiet time with the Lord if I have a plan and stick to it. I’d like to share a couple of those strategies with the hope that they will help you too.
- Set aside time when you are most alert. If you are a night owl and come alive after your children are in bed to spend time with God, wonderful! That’s not me. I have to choose to go to bed early enough so I can set my alarm to wake up before my kiddo to get my time in with the Lord.
- Have all your quiet time stuff (whatever you use: Bible dictionaries, journals, colored pencils…) all in one spot. There’s been one too many times the Lord has revealed something new and insightful from His Word to me and I’ve forgotten it because I was too lazy to get up and grab a pen. It’s MUCH easier when everything is already in one spot.
- Have a plan. Yes, God can use the “closing your eyes, opening your Bible and laying your finger on any part of the page” method, I do not recommend this as a regular routine. Choose the gospels, the Pentateuch, the epistles of Paul… go online where there’s many wonderful suggestions. Just have a plan.
- Use the wonderful resources of technology we have our fingertips this day and age! But, if one of your weaknesses is opening your phone or computer and automatically going to Facebook, Instagram or E-mail, try and turn the technology off for a while.
5. Finally, EXPECT the Holy Spirit to speak directly to you when studying the Bible. Bible commentaries are wonderful, but don’t rely upon them. Know that the Holy Spirit is the revealer of Truth Who brings understanding to the scriptures and He lives inside you! Ask Him to help you understand what you’re reading.
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“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
God made each of us unique with different talents and tastes. And I’m very thankful for the plethora of ways we can spend time with God. But from my reading of the scriptures I believe there are aspects that we need to focus on during our regular quiet time with God. It’s not that we never do anything different; it’s just that we focus on, if you will, the “meatier” methods when spending time with God.
The first one is prayer. Pray is “tapping into a level of reality in which we have no right, but to which we have been graciously welcomed by the love of God in Christ” (David Mathis and Jonathan Parnell, How to Stay Christian in Seminary, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014, 47). God calls for us to be still and know that He is God (Ps 46:10). He longs to communicate with His children. And that means not only taking the time to talk to God, but also taking the time to listen and hear from Him.
The second important dynamic is worship. God inhabits the praises of His people and we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Ps 22:3 and 100:4). Praise and thanksgiving are powerful tools for entering into the presence of the Almighty.
And finally, the last important dynamic is the Word. God’s Word is breath to our souls. It is living and active and more powerful than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). We are transformed by it into the likeness of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a lamp to our feet and without it, our path is going to be sadly dark.
I hope this encourages you today to go for some meat!
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“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
The other day we began to look at the importance of spending time with God and in His Word. Today I’d like to continue that journey.
We need to study and know God’s Word because it is our weapon against the enemy (Ephesians 6). In Matthew 4 Jesus uses the Word of God to defeat Satan when the enemy was trying to tempt him. In Ezekiel 37 a valley of dry bones came to life because Ezekiel spoke the Word of God over them. When we speak God’s Word we speak Truth and life into people’s lives and into hopeless situations. Learn your weapon well so you can wield it powerfully!
Next, we read God’s Word because we need to have sound doctrine to live by. Without sound doctrine we cannot disciple others well, nor will we be able to tell when someone is teaching us a bunch of biblical baloney. In Acts 17 Paul commended the Bereans for examining the scriptures after receiving his message to ascertain whether Paul spoke the truth or not. We will not be able to reject false messages taught to us about the Bible if we do not know what the Bible says.
Finally, we spend time with God and in His Word because the Spirit of God living within us desires for us to grow more deeply in love with God and abide by His precepts. In Deuteronomy 6 the Israelites were commanded to write the law of God upon their hearts and speak about them with their children and the community. The church has become God’s people with His Word written upon our hearts and further revealed in His Word. I encourage you to dig deep into the treasures of His Truth!
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