This will help you GROW in 2017!
If you’re a Christian, you’ve heard these…
“Read your Bible every day”
“God speaks to you from the Scriptures”
“Meditate on the Word”
“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God”
These are just some of the many encouragements / instructions (or condemnations?) regularly heard in Christian circles. Yet from an anonymous “Hidden habits” survey we conducted in our London Hammersmith congregation a while ago, I realised again that the discipline and delight of a rich, regular, and meaningful daily interaction with God through Scripture is not the norm for many believers. I won’t bore you with the stats, but suffice to say that the answer’s given to the question “On average, how many days a week do you take a deliberate moment to read the Bible?” showed that many well-meaning believers struggle with this life-given habit. Sadly, Facebook seems so much more attractive that the Faithbook!
Pause: How would you personally answer that question right now?
From personal and pastoral experience, I believe that the habit of a regular rich meaningful interaction with the Bible is by far one of the mist important spiritual disciples for any disciple of Jesus, and is the major determining factor for a consistent and victorious faith walk through all circumstances of life.
So how does one do it? MY ANSWER: Don’t just “read” the Bible – “R.E.A.P” it!
Here are a few tips from me to help you get going or to revitalise a rich, regular devotional time with God:
Firstly, recognise your desire for it. Your spirit craves the delight of rich intimacy with God through His Word and Spirit. I know your flesh doesn’t desire time with God, but your Spirit craves His presence, virtually begging you to “be still and know that He is God” (and that you are not). Yes, devotion may sometimes feel like duty, but when you connect it to the desire of your heart it will turn to great delight.
“I always find time for the things I value most” – Bill Hybels
Sometimes we fail at a thing because we simply just don’t know how, even if our intentions are good. So, in case that applies to you (or someone you know whom you are trying to help in this area), here is my practical approach to help you regularly and meaningfully engage with God through the Bible:
“R.E.A.P” = Read > Examine > Apply > Pray
Here’s how to do it:
- Choose a book in the Bible to start reading, preferably in the New Testament.
- Note: Don’t just read “randomly”, but systematically. Read a portion of the every day, then continue on the next day from where you ended.
Because “Slow, systematic reading results in specific leading.”
- Example: Try reading slowly through the book of Mark, only 5-10 verses a day. A great way to get to know Jesus and His teaching! I even just get through only one verse a day!
- Doing it this way means that you never have to wake up wondering where you are going to read today. Just continue where you left off the last time…
- Ask: Who is it written to? Why? What is it about?
- Note: Resist just examining the passage for “answers” and “guidance.” Rather ask:
- What do I learn about God? What truth stands out to me?
- How is my faith strengthened from this passage?
- Consider how this passage relates to your life now?
- What is the “do” in response to what you have heard?
- What does this truth call you to believe, and how do you obey the truth in this text?
UPGRADE TIP – Get yourself a journal to write down your responses under the R.E.A.P. headings. Any page-a-day diary is perfect for this. Even if you just write down a verse you read, and one thought each day. Coming with a pen shows that you expect to receive something worth remembering!
Looking back through my 2016 page-a day diary now is a very rich experience in itself! I’ve bought my 2017 page-a-day diary a few days ago to be ready for January 1st. I know some of you prefer “digital” – and thats great if its really working for you. If not, go on, try some paper and pen. There’s much researh to show that for many its a much better medium for this sort of thing.
- Talk to God about what you have read. Ask Him for wisdom to help you understand, and for strength and courage to live this truth.
- Use these truths you have read to pray for yourself, your loved ones, the church, people who don’t yet know Jesus, and the world.
TO UPGRADE, Also try expanding your praying using the simple “A.C.T.S.” outline:
- A = Acknowledge and Adoration for who He is.
- C = Confess your faith in Christ, and bring any sin to Him.
- T = Thank God for your salvation and all He has done.
- S – Supplication, bringing your needs, requests, intercession (prayer for others) to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.
May you R.E.A.P. richly in 2017! Now, please go and get that diary, decide where you will read tomorrow, and get R.E.A.P.ing!
EXTRA: If you’d like a few more insights into how I do this personally, watch this 15-minute video below. Again, I know that’s rather long, but if you need help, then come on, dig deep and find that delight that your spirit craves!