Sunday, March 11, 2012

Important Lessons -Personal Time Spent with God - Part 2

Here are some of the things I learned to help me on my journey to establishing a personal quiet time.

1. Read a Bible you can understand. The purpose of having a personal time with God is to get to know Him better. This is accomplished by:
          a. spending time with Him. You can't get to know someone if you're never around them.
          b. learning who He is during that time by reading His Word.
If you don't understand what you're reading then you're not going to learn who the Person is behind the words. If you don't know what translation to use it might be helpful to look at this chart on my husband's website that gives a good overview of the different translations. What you may find is that your reading Bible may be different from your study Bible. When choosing a study Bible it's important to stay as close to the original languages as possible.

2. If you're not sure how to structure your time these are two fantastic resources.
         a "A Place of Quiet Rest" by Nancy Leigh Demoss. My mother sent this book to me years and years ago and it's just a fantastic resource on the subject of personal devotions.
         b. This is the only sermon I have ever heard preached on the topic! And even though I heard it many years after I'd established my own quiet time, it was still an encouragement and it's a great resource. You'll want to forward to minute 36:39.

3. Remember that you're developing a relationship, not marking off a "to-do" list. We're all at different seasons of our lives. My daily time has changed as the the seasons have changed. When in college I had large uninterrupted times that were great......if I had known how to have a personal relationship with Christ those would have been great times, but I was still in performance-based relationship at that time of my life.

Grad school cut way down on my time available. It took everything within me to keep my head above water, but I also became keenly aware that I had to have daily time in God's Word. This is the period where I broke free of the performance model of a relationship with Christ and embraced a personal relationship (that could be a whole other blog post).

The I got married (hallelujah!) and watched my husband's pattern for his devotional life and what I learned began to change my life. (At this point we didn't know each other well enough for him to be able to help me in this area - and I, not knowing what "could be" didn't know to ask him questions.) With the shift in perspective, and having a life partner who had been practicing consistent devotions for 19 years, over time I began to see how all the pieces fit together. Once I saw what "could be" I finally told him I really needed direction in this area and through a lot of discussion and questions - I developed what fit me.

Then I became a mother - those of you who have children know how that drastically changes life. And I struggled horribly in my devotional life. I had enough of the traces of "performance" that those demands didn't fit where I was at in life. I was exhausted, never had more than a few minutes down time (or so I thought - after having three children I wonder where I wasted all my time when I had just one!), my brain was fuzzy, the first year I had PPD which compounded the FAILING feeling. Then I went and talked to a dear lady who attended our church.

Sister Jewell Stetler raised all her children on the campus of God's Bible School and College and produced some outstanding ministry-oriented men. At that time of my life I'd observed Bible College living on the "inside" for 7 years and from a distance for many more. And what I saw scared me - faculty and staff were losing their children left and right, and I was determined that wasn't going to happen to me, but I had to get some guidance from someone who had success in this area. (My in-laws have worked in Bible College work all their lives and raised sons who have not strayed from Biblical living but they also raised their children off campus. They've been a wonderful resource also but we live on campus which changes parts of the dynamic). Most of what Sister Stetler and I talked about that day centered around child-training, but she also challenged my thinking in this season about my personal spiritual walk with God.

Was it necessary to spend time daily in God's Word? Absolutely! You can't teach what you don't know and you can't pass on passions you don't have yourself. I'd just tackled the most important responsibility on earth and to be successful and in order to succeed I have to know Him, His Word and His Truth well! I memorized and have continued to cling to Joshua 1:7-9

7 "Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law (God's Word) shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." - emphasis mine.

The more I read, learn and embrace God's Word for myself, the more my life will be in harmony with God's will and God can bless a life like that! But it starts by taking in Scripture, talking about it, meditating on it daily and obeying!

Sister Stetler also told me this, "Do you know how many times the tears of my prayers splashed in the dishwater?!" I no longer had those two hour college slots, time had become more precious in this season. But that didn't mean I couldn't maintain a vibrant, personal relationship with my Sustainer.God knows the season your life is in. Young mother's particularly feel the time squeeze but how how vital it is when raising children who love and serve Jesus and be an asset to God's kingdom, that we spend time with the one Who is going to give us the grace, strength, and wisdom to face that noble task.


Making Memories 1999 said...

Thank you for these good thoughts and suggestions!

knightfirstlady said...

Excellent series, Marianne! I really appreciated this and was encouraged to be "at it" faithfully also! Love, Sharon