Good spiritual health can be difficult to maintain. It is true that as believers we have been given everything that we need to live godly in Christ. Choosing the right diet and exercising discipline is as necessary to your spiritual life as it is to your physical life.
Among the many “foods” and “exercises” that are needed by believers include the intake of the Word of God. As obvious as this sound, many believers ingest God’s word much like they do snacks, goodies, and other “unhealthy” foods.
I propose to you that there should be at minimum three (3) means or methods of healthy intake of the word of God. They are as follows:
- A Daily Quiet Time or Devotions
- Annual reading of the Bible
- Systematic Study of the Bible
Quiet Time or Daily Devotion
Upon being born again and committing your life to Jesus Christ you begin a relationship with Him. This relationship is the means by which you are able to “fellowship” with God. A daily quiet time enables you to maintain equilibrium in your walk and relationship with God. A daily quiet time provides an opportunity of gaining spiritual strength and a means to conform to the image of His Son.
We will go deeper into the components of an effective quiet in tomorrow’s post, but for now let me say three things about a quiet time.
First, it is not a time to complete your annual reading program.
Many believers have a reading plan that usually takes them thru the bible in a year. Your quiet time is not a time for that for two reasons. First, it is too much material to read during a short time to meditate over. Two to four chapters and multiple sections or selections act as a hindrance to sensitive thought. Second, reading plans often puts too much pressure on a believer to “keep up” with the program. As a result guilt and frustration sprout as one falls behind.
Second, it is not the time to do in-depth bible study.
This is not the time to look at the grammar, history, context, and customs contained within a passage. As important as this is, it takes too much time.
Third, it must be kept in mind that a quiet time is not a program that changes you spiritually or transforms you into the image of Christ.
It requires a person, not a program to secure transformation. Of course that person is Jesus Christ. As you take your time and mull over (meditate) a short passage of Scripture you are able to mine it and milk it for all of the spiritual value it contains. This is what affects change in a believer’s life.
Annual Reading Plan
Even though your quiet time is not the place for you annual reading plan, and there are some innate dangers of an annual reading plan, it is essential that you use one. I suggest each year you change it up. For example, one year read the bible through sequentially. The following year determine to read through it chronologically. Another year you could read through the bible book by book, alternating between the Old and New Testament.
A second way of changing your reading plan up is to read each year from a different translation. For example, in 2013 you could read through the ESV, 2014 the NRSV, 2015, the NIV, 2016 the NLT and Et cetera.
A reading plan is essential. Simply schedule it for a different time during the day than your “morning quiet time.” You could read through the bible annually during your lunch period, or prior to your evening meal.
I know, I know, this sounds like a lot. Meditating on a short passage (8-10) verses during your quiet time and reading 2-4 chapters a day during your annual bible reading plan won’t get you very far very fast. Neither will it get you very deep into God’s word. Only study can accomplish that. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to study every day. Slice out two to three times during the week (weekends) and set aside an hour or so to take out your basic bible study tools and study a portion of the bible.
Remember to mix up your study. You can alternate between OT and NT books. You can study a topic through the bible, such as regeneration. You can study a bible character in context. You could even study a doctrine. You do need a means of going deep into the word of God. An in-depth study also allows you to go your own speed. Quality study is the goal not a quick finish.
An effective quiet time deepens your intimate relationship with Jesus. It affects the change and maturing process necessary for your spiritual health.
An annual reading plan continues to familiarize you with the entire bible as you read and re-read it. It keeps the overall message of the bible fresh and at the same time keeps you from ignoring parts for favored portions.
An in-depth systematic study program deepens your knowledge of bible doctrine and biblical content. It is through consistent in-depth study that you learn the underlying foundational truths and principles that support your faith.
Do not kid yourself; you need all three parts for total spiritual health.
Tomorrow we will examine the components of a Quiet Time. See ya there!