Are you like me? Do you see December as the perfect time to make a plan for the upcoming year? As December rolls around I start thinking about what I want to focus on during my quiet time over the next twelve months. In the past I have read through the women of the Bible as well as the prayers. You can find those Bible reading plans here as a FREE download. I have also read through the Bible in a year. For this I enjoyed using a particular Bible, one of my many wonderful Goodwill finds I might add, because it features the entire text of the Bible arranged into 365 bite-sized sections. Each day you read a balanced blend of scripture from the old and new testament along with a little bit of psalms and proverbs. I really enjoyed this layout and it made it easy to follow through. You can purchase it on Amazon here.
Other times I enjoy focusing on a particular monthly plan. One year I chose twelve different reading plans that focused on different topics such as the names of God, anxiety, and encouragement and also paired it with twelve different devotional books. That was a tremendous blessing to my heart and I really enjoyed it. You can find some of them on my Pinterest board or search for others that are of interest to you.
For the last couple of years I have made it a point to choose a word for myself, something that I believed I needed. Last year, it was the word renew, I wanted to renew my mind and my spirit. To restore and replenish myself, to remember who is the restorer of my soul, the good, kind Shepherd. This year I chose another word but have decided to do something a little different and focus on this word during my quiet time, selecting passages that emphasize this. I am already enjoying it and am excited to deepen my relationship with God more over this next year. To do this means that I have to be intentional about my time with the Lord.
Quality over Quantity
So often it is easy to get caught up in the day to day things in our life, our regular routine, including our quiet time. While it is good to have a regular quiet time, what is your purpose? Can you relate to this at all?
You open your Bible, read a few verses, say a quick prayer, and mentally check off a list and then go about the rest of your day. What happens when we do this? Are we able to say that it was a meaningful time with the Lord, one that impacted our behavior throughout the rest of our day?
Quality over quantity. My mom has stressed this to me over the years, she is a seamstress and always tells me that she is not a fast seamstress because it takes her time to create a piece of clothing that not only looks good but is well made, one that will last. Whenever my mom finishes a project it is always stunning, that’s why she believes in taking her time because the results will always be worth it. I believe this principle can be applied to our time with the Lord, it was never meant to be rushed. We should never worry about reading so many verses or spending so many minutes because if we do our focus is on the wrong thing. Our time in the word of God is not a quota that needs to be filled. It is a privilege to open the Word of God. Has that thought ever occurred to you? The words you just read are His Words, His own words preserved for us to read over and over again. They are meant to sink into our soul, to penetrate our mind and heart, why? So they can influence our life. The Bible is the only book that can transform our life, and gives us what we need to make a difference in our world.
Having a meaningful quiet time
But how do we make the most of our quiet time? These two passages from Psalms give us a hint.
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalm 119: 14-16
14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
Notice some similar words in these two sections? Delight and meditate were both mentioned. The man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners, or sits in the seat of the scornful is the man whose delight is the law of the Lord. He is someone who takes pleasure in the Word of God and enjoys spending time in it on a regular basis. This is a challenge to us. Do we delight in the Word of God, do we enjoy spending time in it or do we see it as a duty, something that must be done in order to check it off our list? Do we simply read a few verses and go about our day untouched by what we read? If we are not careful, it can be easy to simply read and leave, but maybe that is because we came with the wrong attitude in the first place. We must come with the mindset that this is no ordinary book. I remember mentioning to a friend one time that it always amazed me how I could glean something new from a passage I had read so many times before. Their answer stayed with me, "the Bible is a living book."
As we continue to read the Bible year after year, letting it change and shape us, familiar passages will reveal new truths to us and passages that may have been difficult or unclear will begin to make sense as we mature in our faith. Paul admonishes us to grow in the knowledge of our Savior and that only comes when we spend time in the Word of God, when we make it our delight. But there is another word, one that is the key to transforming our life, in fact it is the key to success. Meditation.
The key to success
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
I once heard someone preach a sermon on this passage, on the importance of meditating on God’s Word and wrote a specific blog on this topic if you want to read it. He made an interesting point about this verse, it is the only place the word, "Success" is used in the Bible. This is important to note, especially since it was spoken by God. Joshua had just lost his mentor, Israel had just lost their leader and the entire responsibility now rested on Joshua’s shoulders. Understandably he was feeling very overwhelmed, but God assured him that He would be with him. Joshua had no need to be afraid but instead, could be strong and courageous because God was there with him as He had been with Moses.
God also gave Joshua something special, the key to a successful life. What was it? Don’t let the book of the law, the Bible, depart out of his mouth. How was he to do this? Meditating on the Word of God day and night. You might think this is a bit odd or even foreign as it goes against all we have been taught on the topic of success. Success comes to those who work hard, who never quit, who are persistent, but wouldn’t you agree that those who read God’s word will find those principles taught throughout? True success is found by those who have hidden God’s Word in their heart through meditation, letting its truths and principles embed themselves into their heart so it can influence their everyday life. Our heart is where the issues of life abide, where they are born, and what is buried inside will make itself known through our words, actions, and beliefs.
What does meditation look like? Well if you want some great tips you can listen to the podcast I did with Sarah Geringer on meditation. For the moment, however, I will share the illustration the preacher gave as he expounded on this important tool. He told us about a time when he was a teenager visiting a old man who spoke to him and his companions about meditation using Psalm 23 as an example. The elderly man said, "The Lord is my Shepherd." "Who is the Lord?, he asked. "He is our guide, judge, provider, deliverer, protector, redeemer, teacher….this is who the Lord is, this is the One who is our shepherd and what is a shepherd? He guides his flock, he protects, and provides for the sheep making sure they are safe, and well cared for, never without a want."
The preacher told us that this exercise, of taking the different words in a sentence, breaking them down into their own thoughts then bringing them back together for a big picture was life changing for him. He was never able to read his Bible the same. And I was challenged that day I heard him preach, it has been over ten years since I heard that message but I never forgot his words or the principle.
Meditation is a critical part of our quiet time with the Lord because it is how we graft it into our heart as we carry it with us throughout the day. God wants to impart His wisdom to us and it is through His precious words written down for us. Are you looking for success? You hold it in your hand every time you open the Bible or hid it in your heart. It is the key to life, it has all the answers to those who are willing to spend the time in it. God will not withhold from those who wish to know His wisdom. Where do you start, Proverbs 2:1-9 has a great list.
1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
God is ready to give you His wisdom but the choice of just how bad you want it is up to you. Are you willing to incline your ear? Willing to search for her like you would for treasure? It is not an empty search, God promises that you will find it if you seek it. All who seek Him will find Him. Are you seeking Him? It begins with spending time in the word of God daily. Remember it is not about how many verses you read. Maybe you only read one verse but you take that verse to heart, you hide it within your heart, and you meditate on it all day. A cow does not eat grass and digest it at the same time. It grazes for a time, then spends the rest of the day chewing and rechewing it until it has gotten every ounce of nutrition from it. That is what God desires us to do with His word. If you take one verse, one truth and mull it over all day, as you drive to the store, as you wash dishes, as you get dinner ready, you will glean all that God wants you to for that day.
Can I gently challenge you to examine your quiet time with the Lord? Is it something that you do out of duty, to say that you read your Bible today yet you walk away empty? Do you feel unsuccessful in life? We are in a new year, you couldn’t ask for a better time to begin a meaningful quiet time with the Lord. He is waiting to meet you there, in the stillness, and it is in the stillness that you will be able to know Him as never before. Isn’t that exciting? That the God of the universe, the One who is in control of everything, wants you to know everything about Him? Challenge yourself over the next week, the next seven days to read your Bible slowly, one verse at a time, letting the words sink inside your heart and mind, asking yourself questions about it and allowing God to speak to you and transform you into His image.
Can I encourage you to take some time to format a plan of action for these coming months. Maybe you want to read through the Bible in a year? Maybe a friend has recommended a devotional book that you wanted to read but haven’t had the time? Incorporate it into your quiet time. Maybe it is focusing on a particular topic like anxiety, discouragement, worry, or the mind. Choose today to make spending time in God’s word a priority, even if it is just a few minutes each day, I promise it will be time well spent.
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I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.