Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Beginnings

I love beginnings - new weeks, new months, new years. It’s a chance to start again, to find a better plan, to change something for the better, to set goals. Not exactly New Year’s Resolutions, but similar perhaps. I’d like to share a few ideas and maybe get you to think about setting some goals for yourself. Not just about being a better person, or losing weight, but practical and objective things to get closer to God.

This year I am planning to read the Bible all the way through, chronologically. I want to get an overall big picture of God’s Word. Yes, this will take some time and effort, but it is a do-able task. I have found a web site that will plan it out for me, even link me to an on-line Bible, and I am posting this information here on my blog each week in the hope of making it easy for some of you to do this with me! I am really excited about this. If it seems like too much, take it slower, just start at the beginning of the Bible and take it one chapter at a time until you finish. Even if it takes you several years you will have accomplished so much!

I would also like to encourage you to do some devotional reading. There are a number of good devotional books with short daily readings and stories that bring scripture to life. I have been reading through The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, and will continue in this for the coming year. I have no planned date to finish, because I sometimes spend several days on one page of this book. Whenever I do finish, I plan to start reading out of a hymn book. I suppose this may sound strange, but have you ever really read the words to those old hymns? Some are odd, I admit, but most are quite profound, especially if you read about the authors and the stories behind their songs. In the past I have gotten a lot out of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today's Language, which has devotions by date (I actually prefer the original, not the today's language one), and The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, which has nice short sections, easily read as a devotional. You can find click on the links to buy these books from Amazon. You could also use my blog as devotional material, but these other things I have mentioned are much deeper than what I write.

So, I have devotional reading and Biblical overview reading, that just leaves more intensive Bible Study. At this point in your spiritual life you may not need this; the Sunday sermon and the overview of the Bible may be enough for you, and that’s ok, please just make sure you are doing at least that. But if you find yourself hungry for more, go for it! Start out with going deeper into your Sunday School lessons and sermons. Take notes. Read the Bible passages in context (what comes before and after it). Pick key passages or verses to memorize (you really should be doing this anyway). Go to a Bible Study at your church and do the above suggestions. Or if there is a particular book in the Bible that you really want to learn better, spend a lot of time reading that book slowly. Look for commentaries or other books written about that book. There are some good studies on tape too. Study the author of the book, the setting, the culture. I believe that Bible study and memorization make you smarter, not just about Biblical or spiritual things, but in all of life.

You must realize from the outset that you will fail sometimes. You will miss a day, or a week or more, of Bible reading. Life happens. Don’t let yourself get discouraged and quit; pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue on. Getting knocked down is no excuse for staying on the floor. Falling down is not failure, failure is quitting. If you start doing these things to get to know God and His Word better, He will honor that. Of course, Satan will also try to keep you from it, so don’t give in to Satan by quitting. Stay the course!

Rebecca A Givens, 12/2007
Post a Comment