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Archive | Quiet Time

I am Clueless

Have you ever been wronged by someone who had no idea she had done anything? It may have been hurtful words or inconsiderate actions. But she was completely clueless. It’s happened to me. And I know without a doubt that I’ve done it to others as well.

I read a Psalm recently during my quiet time that I’ve read dozens of times. However, this time God showed me something I had not really noticed before.

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. Ps 19:12-13

At first read, it’s easy to understand “hidden faults” as those things we do we don’t want others to know about. The things we do in the dark, hide from others. But the surrounding statements shed a bit of light. David realized that he was not capable of even recognizing all the ways he sinned against our high and lofty God.

Let’s read it again from the New Living Translation:

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep me from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. Psalm 19:12-13, NLT

Sometimes I sin against God and don’t even realize it. My sinful heart keeps me from being able to recognize the depth of my transgression against our holy God. I’m clueless. My sin nature blinds me to my own sin.

The psalmist, David, asked God to forgive him for the sin he was not even aware he had committed. Then he asked God to protect him from yielding to blatant temptation. David longed to be blameless – innocent in thought, attitude, and deed. And not in just the things that people would notice. David wanted to be innocent in the eyes of his holy God. Wow!

God has brought me back to these verses several times in the last week. Do you think He’s trying to tell me something? Every time, my prayer has been David’s prayer:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14 

Are you brave enough to ask God to reveal your hidden faults?

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The What, Why, and How of Devotional Bible Reading

devotional bible reading

What is devotional Bible reading? Should we do it and if so, how do we do it?

Devotional Bible reading focuses on your personal relationship with God. The primary goal is not to gain biblical knowledge – though that will happen too. It’s not for the purpose of preparing to teach others – although you will become more prepared. The main purpose of devotional Bible reading is your “spiritual edification.” This time of devotion is for you to hear from God with the help of His Holy Spirit.

Why should I read the Bible devotionally?

“Spiritual edification” is a really churchy phrase, but it carries a lot of meaning. Here’s a quick rundown of the goals and benefits of reading our Bible to be “built up” spiritually:

  • To express our sincere devotion to God
  • To give God an opportunity to reveal His presence
  • To heighten our affection for God and build deeper intimacy
  • To find guidance, encouragement, wisdom, peace, and renewal
  • To align our thoughts, our will, our actions with God’s
  • To encourage continued spiritual growth

Ah! We want to encounter the living God through His living Word. And through that encounter, to allow God to continue to conform us to the image of Christ.

How do I read the Bible devotionally?

Since in-depth Bible study is very active, you may think devotional reading is more passive. But it is in fact, quite active. The devotional style combines reading, prayer, listening, and response. While the only must-have is your Bible, there are a few other tools that will benefit your devotional time:

  • Pen, highlighters, and or colored pencils
  • Wide-margin Bible, journaling Bible, notebook, or journal
  • Bible reading plan
  1. Read with intent – First, don’t read haphazardly. Don’t just open the Bible and drop your finger on a verse. Have a plan. For instance, use a Bible reading plan or work through a Bible book from beginning to end. Second, don’t just read the words. Pray before, during, and after. Expect to hear from God and actively listen for Him to speak to you through the Scripture and through the quiet prompting of His Spirit.
  2. Meditate on the passage – Meditation is not emptying your mind. It is deep thinking on spiritual truths. As you read, linger over verses that impact you. Allow God to apply these truths to your life. Use your journal to record insights and impressions. Or use colored pencils to creatively illustrate truths in the margins of your Bible or in a journal.
  3. Ask God questions and “listen” for His answers – Below are examples of questions you can use to interact with the Scriptures you read:
    • Does this passage present some truth that should change what you believe or the way you think about God?
    • Does this passage prompt you to praise God, thank God for something specific, or trust God in a situation?
    • Is there something in this passage you should pray for yourself or for someone else?
    • Does this passage bring to mind a sin you need to confess?
    • Is God using this passage to move you to a particular act of obedience or to make a decision?
  4. Respond to God’s leading – The Word of God has the power to search our minds and penetrate our hearts. God will use it as both a balm to our souls and a scalpel to our hearts (Hebrews 4:12-13). He knows exactly what we need. We need to respond. We may need to repent from a specific sin. We may need to step out to heal a relationship. We may need to change the way we think about a particular issue. Or we may need to simply sit in the comforting, healing presence of our Savior. However God leads, let us respond.

What has been your experience with devotional Bible reading? Any helps or tips?

A few other article you may find helpful:

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3 Attitudes I Need to Approach God’s Word

God's WordI do a lot of reading. In addition to God’s Word, I read novels, cookbooks, blogs, articles, non-fiction books and more. Some of this reading is for fun. Other reading is for instruction or information. Some I approach casually. Other with skepticism. Some things I read might instruct my behavior. Other things I dismiss as irrelevant or even wrong.

But the Bible is different from anything else we might read. Unlike everything else, it was not written by man, but directly inspired by God Himself. God’s words, God’s heart, given to us. How should we approach the Bible? What attitudes are vital to not only read God’s Word, but to really hear it, to be shaped by it?

I need an attitude adjustment

  1. Humility – Far too often I approach God’s Word with some level pride. Pride in thinking I already know this passage. Pride that I don’t need what He has to say. Oh, but pride is a great deceiver, keeping me from everything God has for me in His Word. Do I really want God to teach me? To use me for His purposes? Then I must humbly allow Him to correct, rebuke, and train me through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way” (Psalm 25:9).
  2. Submission – Some days I take God’s Word far too casually. I read it and hear His gentle whisper to “tell” or “do” or “go” or “stop.” And I consider obedience. The Bible is God’s authority for my life. It is living, actively penetrating the deepest parts of my heart, mind, and soul to judge my attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and intentions. To make me more like Jesus. How dare I ever tell Him “no.”
  3. Anticipation – God’s Word is light and life and hope. It guides, delivers, and comforts. God’s laws are right and true and trustworthy. The Word of God gives wisdom and joy. I should run to read His Word each day, greatly anticipating the treasure I will find there. Sometimes I do, but not always.

God has reminded me today I need a little attitude adjustment. What about you? Do you approach God’s Word with humility, submission, and anticipation?

Lord God, adjust my attitude today. Forgive me of pride and foster a humble spirit within me. Help me submit to the authority of Your Word, so that I will live a life a full obedience to You. And grant me the joy of anticipation, always delighting in the discovery of Your Word. Amen.

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Why Do You Read the Bible?

Why do you read the Bible? If you and I had coffee together and I asked you that question, how would you answer?

Why Do Americans Read the Bible?

A 2016 study by the Barna Group shows that about 1/3 of Americans read the Bible at least once a week. The same study also cites why people read the Bible. Here’s a quick rundown of the top answers:

  • Brings me closer to God (55%)
  • To receive comfort (16%)
  • To find direction or an answer to a problem (16%)
  • Because I am supposed to (6%)

Why do I Read the Bible?

As I write this blog, I’m thinking about how I would answer this question. I mean, honestly answer this question. And you know what? I think my answer would depend on the day. Absolutely I want to be closer to God. But, some days I do read it because I know I should. Other days I need some godly direction or an answer for a specific problem. And on tough days, I just need some comfort.

And you know what? I think all those reasons are legitimate. God’s Word does give comfort, offer direction, and have answers for life today. And yes, sometimes we really should read our Bibles when we don’t necessarily want to, because Christian life requires discipline and purpose. We must “train ourselves for godliness”(1 Timothy 4:7-8).

While all those reasons and more are wrapped up in why I read the Bible, there is another reason. One I desire to be my primary reason.

I want God’s Word to shape me. To refine me. To make me more like Jesus.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

And as it does, all those other things will happen too. My intimacy with God will deepen and grow. His constant presence will comfort and guide me.

So, now it’s your turn. Why do you read the Bible? Maybe your current reason isn’t what you’d like it to be. Or maybe you don’t read the Bible regularly now. The best way to create a hunger for God’s Word to simply to begin to read it. Once you get a taste… (Psalm 34:8).

Why do you read the Bible?

If you’d like to begin to read the Bible but you aren’t sure how to get started, check out my free resources page. It is full of helps, including quiet time tips and Bible reading plans! 

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Family Devotional Guide for Your Summer Vacation

family devotional guideWhen our kids were young we did a lot of cross-country driving. Combine little money for airfare with living far away from grandparents and you’ve got at least two long days in the car – one way.

It’s not easy to keep 3 kids under 10 restrained in the back seat for hours on end. I did everything I could think of to keep the kiddos occupied. Lots of snacks – healthy and not so healthy. Games like I Spy and 20 Questions. Books and toys.

While vacations offer adventure, rest, and relationship, they can also be opportunities to teach our children more about God. Travel time, whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, provides a captive audience! But we must be prepared.

While you’re packing the swimsuits, sunscreen, and car snacks, grab this 7-day family devotional guide to use during your family vacation. You can use it in the car, on the beach, or around the campfire.

Each Scripture reading is about a biblical journey. Questions are provided each day to get your family talking together about the truth presented in each story. Family Vacation Devotional Guide Print it off and pack it. It won’t take up much space!

Would love to hear from you! What do you do to keep your kids occupied during long car trips?

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Working Out a New Normal Quiet Time

Quiet TimeI was disciplined. A day without a formal quiet time was really rare. And I confess to you now, that I felt a little “self-righteous” about my “faithfulness” to God.

Then my husband retired.

And my “discipline” went out the window.

I’d had this perfect routine. When Wayne went into the kitchen at 5:15 am, I got up and joined him. We took care of the dogs, made coffee, and visited while he ate breakfast. As soon as he left for work about 5:45, I’d take my coffee to my desk and open my Bible and my journal.

His regular schedule shaped a regular time with God for me.

But since December, he has had no regular schedule. His lack of schedule has tremendously messed with my regular schedule. He doesn’t leave in the morning. And he turns on talk radio. And he asks questions. And he wants me to do stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE that he is around. I am glad that he retired. But his change has meant change for me. My once regular quiet time is now more sporadic. I have to work harder to make it happen.

And Wayne’s retirement is not our only major change. We’ve been traveling back and forth to my parents’ home in another state to pack their house and move their things to Tennessee to be near my brother. And we’ve been working around our house in preparation to sell it. As soon as it sells, we will be moving from Houston to the Dallas area to be near our daughters and their families.

Right now, the only consistency in my life seems to be inconsistency. And I’m still trying to adjust to the non-schedule. Honestly, I have felt a little “faithless” lately. For years, I have encouraged you to have a regular time with God and now I am the one struggling. And even though I am praying and reading His Word here and there, I am languishing over the lack of consistency.

But yesterday, God dropped a solid truth in my lap to encourage me. I was reading in 2 Timothy trying to keep up with the Bible study I’m in at church. (I’m doing and loving “Entrusted” by Beth Moore.) It was these words:

If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.              2 Timothy 2:13, NIV

Yes! God is always faithful even when I am not. He is always faithful because that is who He is. He is faithful by nature and He will not be faithless.

So, in light of my faithlessness, I am clinging to God’s faithfulness. I will ask Him to help me commit to a “new normal” and relying on His faithfulness I will set my alarm.

 

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Spiritual Junk Food

Spiritual Junk FoodYesterday, in the grocery store, I made some poor choices. The Super Bowl was my primary excuse. My husband’s requests ran a close second. But much of the junk food also happened to be my favorites.

Nothing required any preparation and met the requirement of having “plenty of snacks for all four quarters.” Chips. Hot wings. Jalapeno poppers. Ice cream. Popcorn. You know, football food.

Instead of buying real food and committing to the effort I know must accompany it, I bought frozen, pre-made, easy-to-fix, nutritionally lacking junk food. Sadly, the only benefit that kind of food can give is momentary pleasure.

As I loaded my selections on the checkout counter I thought about two things. First, I knew I would regret my “food” choices on Monday. And second, I thought about how often I make the same mistake with my spiritual health. I resist the effort it takes to feast on the nutritional meat of God’s Word and instead binge on spiritual junk food.

The author of Hebrews addressed a similar issue with his readers:

There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.  Hebrews 5:11-14, NLT

These “Peter Pan” Christians didn’t want to grow up. Their diet of spiritual milk temporarily relieved their spiritual hunger. Contentedly skipping along on the surface of their faith, they took in the same basics over and over. They refused to put forth the disciplined effort that spiritual growth and maturity requires. They took the easy path instead of working to ingest the rich, healthy meat of God’s Word.

We often live the same way, filling the holes in our spirits with mere baby food, or even spiritual junk food. We play in the shallows and talk about how great the water is when we could – and should – be in over our heads.

Examples of Spiritual Junk Food

Spiritual junk food sits eye level on the shelf. It’s easy to grab for a quick bite. Here are a few examples:

  • Quick devotional thoughts based on a small passage pulled out of its context
  • Visually pleasing memes with an inspiring, spiritual-light slogan
  • On-the-run prayers substituted for time on our knees

Characteristics of Spiritual Junk Food

While a few things on the spiritual fast-food menu can give some benefit – I enjoy a beautiful meme as much as the next person – they should be appetizers or snacks, not the basis for our spiritual diet. Evaluate your spiritual diet by reflecting on these characteristics of spiritual junk food:

  • Gives quick, but fleeting spiritual satisfaction
  • Lacks deep, real spiritual value
  • Provides a “feel good” spiritual high with no correction, challenge, or call to obedience

Our spiritual health requires preparation, hard work, discipline, and persistence. If we want to be spiritually mature, we must train ourselves to be godly (1 Timothy 4:7-8). We can’t microwave spiritual growth.

How’s your basic spiritual diet? Is there some junk food in your diet you weren’t even aware of?

If you’d like to evaluate your discipleship check out this post.

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5 Routines to Find Freedom

OverwhelmedThis guest post by author Cheri Gregory is a giveaway! Read to the bottom to find out how to enter for a chance to win a copy of “Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity” by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

I used to avoid routines. I knew they worked for other people, but to me they felt rigid.

I spent years telling myself, I’m a free spirit. My creative soul would be crushed by routines.

Then I read a paradigm-shifting statement in the book Triggers. Marshall Goldsmith said that structure can serve as “a surrogate for self-discipline.” This grabbed my attention, because I’ve never had much self-discipline.

The right routines replace self-discipline? Sign me up!

Living Without Structure Isn’t Freedom

While developing and implementing my new routines, I quickly discovered how much time and energy I had wasted living “spontaneously.”

When every task was up for grabs every day—Exercise today or sleep in?… Slacks or skirt?… Quiet time now or postpone ‘til tonight?— I was constantly overwhelmed with decision fatigue.

In the time I would spend debating whether or not to do something, I could have gotten it done.

Living without structure isn’t freedom; it’s a free-for-all that turns into chaos.

Conversely, routines guarantee that my Personal Manifesto—a simple written statement of who I am and who I aspire to be, by God’s grace and power—gets walked out in my everyday life.

5 Routines to Follow for Freedom

I’ve experimented with various routines and settled on these five non-negotiables:

Routine #1: Evening Routine

When I follow my evening routine, I’m ready for the day. When I don’t, I’m not. Sounds obvious. But I’ve been surprised to discover how much rises and falls on my faithfulness to my evening routine.

My friend and co-author Kathi Lipp puts it this way: “Our most important evening job is to get set up for tomorrow.”

(For a free evening routine worksheet, click here.)

Routine #2: Morning Routine

Whenever I get to mid-day, consider my morning, and think, “Well, that was time well spent!” you can be sure I followed my morning routine.

And whenever I get to mid-day and ask myself, “Where did the morning go? Why didn’t I get anything important done?” you can be sure I didn’t.

First-thing-in-the-morning Me is energetic and creative but highly distractable. My morning routine keeps focused.

(For a free morning routine worksheet, click here.)

Routine #3: Weekly Routine

I used to try to squeeze the necessary tasks of life—like bill-paying, grocery shopping, dental visiting, and the like—into my spare time.

Problem was, I rarely had any. And when I did, I wasn’t actually prepared to tackle any necessary tasks.

A weekly Prep and Plan Day has changed all that. Every week, I have several hours set aside to pull back, prepare for the upcoming week, and plan for the following weeks and months.

To make lists. Go shopping. Call to set appointments. Deal with paperwork. Do filing.

I don’t think I’ll ever find these sorts of tasks fun, but they are far more satisfying when I schedule time to do them. And then get them done.

Routine #4: Self-Care Routine

Most of us were taught to take good care of the people in our lives – often at our own expense. Yet, our ability to care for others is hindered if we don’t first take good gentle care of ourselves.

A self-care routine means that no matter what kind of day (week…month…year…) I’m having, I take care of myself. Period.

Routine #5: Quiet Time Routine

Pairing the word “routine” with the phrase “Quiet Time” does not automatically mean “rigid.”

Developing a Quiet Time routine that works for you simply means that spending time with God becomes a non-negotiable. It’s something you do every day, in some way, to re-connect to your Creator. And to grow in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. One characteristic which, of course, is self-discipline. Which makes our routines self-reinforcing, in the best possible way.

I used to believe that freedom meant having unlimited choices. But to my surprise, it’s having pre-decided routines that makes me feel free.

Established routines will set you free!

  • Free from wrestling with self-discipline.
  • Free from decision fatigue.
  • Free to live with integrity.

This post is a giveaway! Enter for a Chance to Win!

Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers! To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

  1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.
  2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Friday, January 13, so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

Free Offer from Cheri and Kathi

New Year’s resolutions seldom last, but a Personal Manifesto will carry you through the rest of your life! Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.

About “Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity”

OverwhelmedFeeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • Trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • Decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • Replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

kathi-and-cheri-photoKathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.

 

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