I was recently asked to give a devotional for a women’s Bible Study group. As I pondered what to say to this group of women who ranged in age from young mom’s to women in their 70’s I found myself sensing the need for us to return to the basics of the faith. I rarely speak with anyone these days who is not busy. It seems to be the word of our lives that defines us, but is that really what we want to define us? No matter what season of life you’re in, juggling the demands of life with grace is challenging. So how do we make some changes? How do we make certain that the busyness of our lives, even if it revolves around good things, has not become a substitute for cultivating an inward life with Jesus? Over the next few weeks of my blog I would like to look at some basic principles that I have found helpful in my own faith journey. I pray that they will encourage you in yours.
Faith Lesson #1
Spend time with Jesus
in His Word
and prayer every day.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark1:35
This practice begins our day with God’s perspective and set’s our hearts in a place of intimacy with Jesus. Don’t give up if you miss your morning time with the Lord or if it simply doesn’t work in your schedule.
No time spent with Jesus in His Word is ever wasted.
There are plenty of people willing to offer you advice on how to live your life, but Jesus, the Savior and King of the universe left you a love letter with His instructions for life in the Bible.
Why would we want to miss that?
Purpose to read His instructions. I have found that unless I am intentional about forming the habit of meditating and studying God’s Word, the day will slip away and I will have missed the opportunity. God’s Word is meant to be cherished as your soul’s delight.
"Our love (for God) is shown by love for His Word. You cannot separate a person from their voice. If you love a person you will love their voice, and God's Word is His voice to us."
Campbell McAlpine, Alone with God
The study of His Word should always be partnered with time in prayer.
Prayer for a teachable spirit,
prayer for an expectant and listening heart,
prayer for wisdom and discernment,
prayer for direction and transformation
Throughout the Scriptures we are exhorted to meditate on God’s Word. It is a spiritual discipline that has been practiced for centuries by believers who understand their need to "put on the mind of Christ." I like to think of Scripture meditation as a habit of the heart . It can help me answer the call to intimacy and devotion to Jesus as I ponder, contemplate, and reflect on His words of life to me.
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!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
Meditating on God’s Word goes against the cry of busyness in our lives so it may take some practice if you are not accustomed to this spiritual discipline. Quieting the competing voices and agendas in our head can often be challenging. Meditation builds the skill of hearing God at the heart and soul level. It is a formational approach to Bible study in which we invite the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and draw us into a divine encounter for today that will transform our character so that we reflect God’s character.
In Scripture meditation we let the text ask questions of us. We learn to wait and listen for God to speak.
Of course meditating on the Word doesn’t need to follow a formula, but you may find it a way to begin. I have found the method listed below helpful in discovering the joy of this “holy habit” in my own journey. It is based on a book by Jan Johnson entitled “Savoring God’s Word”. This method of Scripture meditation is called Lectio Divina.
Please consider choosing one or two verses from the Psalm 119:11-15 above or choose another verse and set aside a few minutes to meditate. You'll need your Bible and a piece of paper or journal. Feel free to copy and paste this for later use on other verses as well.
1. Find a quiet place where you can be alone and listen for God to speak.
2. Take a moment and relax your body and mind. Breath in and out slowly. If you find your mind is full of distracting or interrupting thoughts jot them down for later reference so that you can let go of them at this time.
Surrender you heart and mind to the Holy Spirit’s control.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh perspective on the Word today as you read.
3. Open your Bible to the Scripture you have chosen for meditation today and read.
Is there a word or phrase that emerges as you reflect on this passage of Scripture?
Write it down.
Reflect - could there be something in this passage today that the Lord is offering to enlarge you understanding? Write it down in your journal.
What do you need to know from this passage?
4. Pray using the Scripture as a guide.
Ask God what He wants to show you.
Tell God what you sense at this time.
Thank God for His revelation to you.
5. Contemplate the Scripture.
Enjoy His presence.
Ask and listen for what the Lord wants to say to you at this time.
6. Write down any thoughts or prayers.
This week as you seek to juggle the demands of your life, I encourage you to spend time studying and meditating on Jesus' Words of life for you. In His Word you will discover how to walk out your days with His grace. Engage your mind and heart in the written and spoken Word of God and watch how the Savior uses it to draw you into a deeper relationship with Himself. In my own life there have been times when I let the busyness or tyranny of the urgent rob me of my time in the Word and prayer. There have been seasons when it seemed I lost my passion and yearning for God's Word and I had to pray for Jesus to restore that desire in my heart. Below is a quote by Geoffrey Thomas from Reading the Bible that I have returned to over and over to encourage me in the journey.
"Do not expect to master the Bible in a day, or a month, or a year. Rather, expect often to be puzzled by its contents. It is not all equally clear. Great men of God often feel like absolute novices when they read the Word. The apostle Peter said that there were some things hard to understand in the epistles of Paul (2 Peter 3:16). I am glad he wrote those words because I have felt that often. So do not expect always to get an emotional charge or a feeling of quiet peace when you read the Bible. By the grace of God you may expect that to be a frequent experience, but often you will get no emotional response at all. Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these. Often you will feel very, very small, because increasingly the God of the Bible will become to you wonderfully great. So go on reading it until you can read no longer, and then you will not need the Bible anymore, because when your eyes close for the last time in death, and never again read the Word of God in Scripture, you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you forever to His eternal home."
Gracious Father, I confess that I have often neglected to study your Word. Please forgive me. Help me come to your Word with an open mind that desires to receive instruction from You, the Master Teacher. Give me a heart that believes what your Spirit reveals
and the will to surrender in obedience to Your truth. Holy Spirit,
breathe words of life into my spirit through the power of Your Word.
Lord, I humbly come and pray that You will find me faithful and teachable.
Stir in my heart a hunger and passion for Truth that refuses to be distracted from Your transforming words of life. Jesus, help me to make You the ultimate priority of my life. As I choose to spend time meditating and studying Your Word, I pray that You will show me how to juggle the demands of my life with Your grace and order my days
according to Your perfect plan.
In the name of Jesus
Clinging to the Words of Life of Jesus,
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