Thursday, March 15, 2012

Important Lessons - Personal Time Spent With God - Part 3

The "how" of having your own personal devotional time is not a "one-size-fits-all".  And my time has morphed over the years to fit the seasons of life. When my children were babies and waking for an early morning bottle, it was easier to pray while feeding them, then do my reading during their afternoon nap and meditating before bedtime. At first I chafed against the "brokenness" of the time but then came to embrace it as something very profitable. It was nice to have multiple quiet times throughout the day when those days were so demanding. It helped me keep my focus on God's Word all day while reading meditating, memorizing and praying. Right now it's more profitable to do my Bible reading right away in the morning followed by prayer and work on Bible study and memorization in the afternoons during the boys' quiet times.

Time - Choose a time of day that has the least amount of interruptions and when you are the most rested. There are times when the boys wake early and they love to curl up and say, "Read to me what you're reading!" I love it but on a normal basis, I try to have this done before they wake for obvious reasons! If you're not a morning person, then it's probably not going to be very profitable! When I had multiple children and a newborn who was still waking in the middle of the night, I was more alert at the end of the day than at the beginning. There's something about that 2:00am feeding that just makes 6:00am seem like an unearthly hour! So, I'd sleep in a bit (Philip always took the 6:00 feeding when they were waking in the middle of the night - it worked wonderfully for us), and then read my Bible before the 10:00pm bottle when the other children were in bed and the baby was quiet for the evening. You just choose when is best for you - and be willing for that to change from time to time. But once a time is chosen, guard that time. "To-do" lists will wait, laundry will get done, phone calls are not that important, and time in God's Word feeding your soul and hearing God speak to you is never wasted time. By the way, Satan knows what happens during this time and will fight you tooth and nail....expect it. But I'm sending a statement to both God and Satan when I make it a priority and keep it a priority.

Place - Create a place where you are relaxed and can have all your materials handy.  A special place means you can keep your Bibles, notebooks, colored pencils, Bible Study materials, etc. all in one spot. It helps to have everything in one place so that I'm not wasting my time finding this that and the other thing.

Some people play soft music in the background (my husband often does this), have their morning cup of coffee (or tea for me). The idea is to create an atmosphere of worship. This is a special time for you and God. You know what "special" is to you.

Bible Reading:  I've used many different Bible reading plans over the years. The goal is to saturate yourself in God's Word and allow the Holy Spirit to change you in the process. If you don't know how to read the Bible in a way that is profitable I'd suggest getting a copy of Kay Arthur's book, "How to Study Your Bible" Her material is excellent! I use her New American Inductive Study Bible on a regular basis and love it!

There is value in buying a one year Bible where you read from the Old and New Testaments, a Psalm and a Proverb each day. This helps you gain the Big Picture and gets you through a lot of material. The con is that you have a large enough section to read that it usually doesn't leave much time for study or implementation.

Right now I'm working my way through books of the Bible using my inductive study Bible. Several times a year I use Bible studies (typically book or topic studies)  during my devotional reading time. Some things I've used are studies by Elizabeth George, Kay Arthur also has scads of Bible studies found at Precept Ministires. On the left you can choose topics, books of the Bible or other options. Bob Jones University Press has many different Bible Study resources by many different authors. Some are specific resources for women or specific topics (grief, anxiety) or general resources that are helpful studies. Philip's Developing Interpersonal Relationships is listed in this category. The site layout isn't very attractive so if you want any specific recommendations on this site, feel free to contact me. None of the above listed resources are written from a Wesleyan/Arminian perspective (except Developing Interpersonal Relationships) so keep that in mind if you use them. There will be some spots that will have a differing theological slant due to the presuppositions of the author's persuasion but as with any book, you glean the good and leave the rest.

The idea is to choose a method that allows you to glean the truths from God's Word in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to use those truths to make you into the person God created you to be. This is a life-long process that takes time, honesty, and willingness to submit to our Creator. It is SO WORTH IT! Maybe it's my age or perhaps it's hearing the stories that come with being in ministry and watching life choices play out - but I can't afford not to make my relationship with God my #1 priority. I used to say it, because that was the thing to say. But living life has made me realize the necessity.

Start with baby steps - once you master the baby steps then you can add to them. Getting started is the hard part. Give yourself space for trial and error that's the only way to learn what "fits" you.


David and April said...

Really enjoying reading this. I have really been feeling God telling me it's time to change things. And it starts with me and HIM. These post about making time for God and devotions are very helpful! I want to look into the 1 year Bible to go through. I have a hard time understanding alot of it, because it's so unfamiliar to me I guess. Keep em' coming girl! Thanks! Love ya!

Kimberly said...

i really appreciate these thoughts/ideas you have shared!