For some time now, I have struggled to be consistant in spending time with the Lord and in His Word. It comes down to discipline. To put forth what is most important rather what is truvial and unnecessary. My new year's resolution is to be a better student of God's Word and make my time in the Lord's presence my highest priority.
I have been so encouraged! The Lord has given me the diligance and motivation to spend ample time in fellowship with Him!
I want to encourage you to do the same. To spend more time with the Lord and in His Word. If it means getting up earlier- do it. If it means sacfricing your favorite tv show- do it. If it means saying "no" to a friend so that you can spent a quiet evening studying the Bible- do it!! It is worth it! :)
I want to share with you what I have been doing that has really encouraged me in my quiet times with the Lord.
-> I am reading through the entire Bible- I have found a great tool and one year Bible reading plan that has been wonderful! Click here to view my Bible reading plan. It is Prof. Horner's Reading System. Basically you read 10 chapters of the Bible each day from various passages. 10 chapters seemed daunting at first but it has been such a great way to create discipline in my life.
-> Spend time in prayer- Before I even open my Bible I commit my time to Him- asking Him to reveal what He wants me to learn during my time in His Word. After my Bible time I spend more time in prayer for specific things. Something that has been very rich to me is praying for every country. Operation World is a great source to pray for every country on the earth! They have specific information on how to pray for each country. So each day I pray for a country. Another area I am praying for is the U.S. foster care system. Adopt Us Kids is a website where you can search for children in your state that are currently in the foster care system. This is a great tool to pray for children who are in need of lasting, forever families right now in our own states! And who knows- God may lay on your heart to be apart of it!! :) Lastly, I have a prayer list- I have written down prayer requests of my friends, family or people who I don't even know who are in need of prayer. I take 10 of the requests to pray for each day. This has been a great way to be faithful in praying for the needs of others rather than saying, "I'll pray for you!" and then fail to do so. :)
-> Listening to music- Maybe it's just me, but music makes me want to praise God! :) I am so thankful for worship music! It has been such an encouragement to my heart! Even before I have my devotions worship music prepares my heart for my time with the Lord. Afterwards, while I'm in the shower or getting ready for the day, worship music continues my praise,adoration and time with the Lord. Listening to worship music throughout my day keeps my focus on Jesus and the cross. It keeps my heart intune with the Lord and His Word.
-> Journaling- I really am a lousy journaler. I have great aspirations of being a great journaler but I tend to fail miserably! Having a journal to write down what I studied, how it impacted me and who I prayed for is a great way to see my progress in my quiet times! It doesn't have to be long but just write something! :)
Here is what I wrote this morning:
Matthew 14:28-31- "Jesus is walking on the water and Peter goes out to meet him. He was walking on the water fine, until he saw the wind and he begins to sink. This passage translates into my life. Following Christ is like walking on the water. As long as my eyes are fixed on Jesus it is well. But when I take my eyes off of Jesus and look at the 'wind' ( dangers, difficulties, struggles, temptations etc.) I begin to sink. Jesus told Peter, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' When I take my eyes off of Christ and focus on the trials, fears, anxieties and things of this world, I am doubting God's plan, Sovereignty and will for me."
-> Scripture Memorization- this is another necessary discipline. I find it easier to memorize when you have someone to keep you accountable. Find a friend, sibling, parent or mentor who wants to memorize Scripture with you. Meet each week and say your verses. Start out with a Psalm or a shorter passage and then work up to memorizing longer passages.
-> Reading Missionary Biographies- I have been so encouraged by reading books by great men and women of the faith. I just finished reading George Muller's autobiography. I can't even begin to tell you all that I learned from Him! His dedication in spending time with the Lord, his persistant prayer life, his trust in the Lord's provision, his heart for the poor and orphaned- incrediable! I highly recommend it! Reading books by Amy Charmichael, Elisabeth Elliot, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Alward, George Muller, will challenge you and encourage to live out the same faith and life that they lived.
-> Clean out the media- I am learning that some of the habits that I have created may not be necessary or uplifting. I really like watching TV at night. I find it relaxing but what am I gaining by spending hours in front of the TV watching mostly invaluable, nonsense? Now I am not saying that watching TV is a sin but what else could we be doing instead? Spending more time with the Lord? Reading a great book? Journaling? Spend quality time with your family? Have a encouraging conversation with a friend? Writing a letter to a friend you don't see often? There is so much more you can do instead of watch TV!! :)
I love Facebook- but it is such a distraction!! I could spend hours looking at pictures, commenting on the latest news, "liking" statuses but really what do I gain?? OK, I can keep up with friends that I have in other states, but it's not a necessity. Try cutting back your time on Facebook, twitter etc. and see how it goes! :)
I hope this has been an encouragement! Try it out and let me know how it goes! Or if you have any more ideas for enriching your time with the Lord- tell me about it!! :)