I had an important meeting so I went through the motions of getting ready. I selected a suitable outfit. I had everything prepared. I got everything complete and went to the car to head to the appointment. About halfway there I had a horrible question in my mind—a question that many of us ask at one time or another. Did I put on my deodorant? Then I visually went through my previous actions in my head and concluded that I neglected one of the most important things. I then began plan B—praying that I would not sweat so much in the 95 degree temperatures.
Some of us have had the good fortune to require a pit stop to a convenience store or department store to pick up some deodorant because we forgot one of the most important steps of the morning routine. Some of us do not realize it until everyone can realize it. But there’s something that we too often miss that is most important—spending some daily time with God.
Now God wants to be a part of your life 24/7 which means that we don’t give Him ten minutes in the morning and that is that; however, we should dedicate some quiet time each day in the morning to begin the day. Start out with God and continue the day with God. There’s no better way. I’d rather miss the deodorant than miss time with the Lord. The same goes for my coveted cup of morning coffee. Start your day with Him—continue it with Him—finish it out with Him! Now that’s a good day!
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35 [NIV]
“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.” – Nehemiah 8:8 [NIV]
I love this scene. They were gathered together reading God’s Word, and there were actually people there trying to make sure that the people understood what was being read to them. Some people cannot read. Some people cannot understand what they read. They may pronounce the words properly. They may be able to read everything on the page, but they might not understand what they just read. The comprehension is important. The NLT says “clearly explained the meaning” and “helping the people understand each passage.” Each passage. I just love this.
It is important for us to understand what we read, whether it is a letter from our insurance provider, our bank statements, an article in the newspaper, a work memo… and it is crucial that we understand what the Bible says. We can read it every day, but we need to be able to understand it to actually apply it.
If you notice in Nehemiah 8, first they read the Law, then they interpret the Law, and then they apply the Law. This is what Bible reading is all about. This is exactly how we are to read our Bibles. First we read His word, then we see what God has to say to us in the context of the passage, and then we then apply it to our lives—we do what He says. Read – Understand – Apply! That’s why it is important that we understand. If you don’t understand, don’t hide and pretend; seek out some godly assistance, purchase a reputable Bible commentary, and pray about it. Read – Understand – Apply!
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.”
– Psalm 62:5 [NIV]
The beginning of a year always brings resolutions and as we near the end of the month, most of the resolutions no longer are fresh in our minds because they ended weeks ago. One resolution many Christians make is to devote more time to reading the Bible and more time for prayer. Some people may have decided to follow through with a daily devotional. It is very important to have some quiet time with God each day, time where you are able to wait on Him, read His Word, speak with Him, and hear what He has to say to you.
If you have made a resolution similar to this, but have fallen short of the goal already, do not be hard on yourself. Start where you left off and keep pressing forward. God is waiting. If you haven’t made a resolution, but you are considering spending more time with God now, consider finding a Daily Devotional that will help you with your daily reading. There are so many different options available, some which are delivered via email, are presented in a RSS feed, or can even be found on a smart phone app.
I can honestly say that Daily Devotional time has always been a struggle for me. I have to do it first thing in the morning or it doesn’t happen. Something I have just started recently however is to have afternoon and evening devotional time as well, because I find it is beneficial for my walk with Christ.
Here’s a list of twelve of the Daily Devotionals available online that I use daily and/or occasionally. Why twelve? I love that number. I recommend them all; however, if it is something you are considering, please look at each of them to see which one helps you the most. The purpose of a Daily Devotional is to have some time with God. It’s all about God and you – on the relationship that matters most!
Devotionals I Use /I’ve Used / I Recommend:
- My Utmost For His Highest (Oswald Chambers) – simply LOVE this devotional
- In Touch Ministries (Dr. Charles Stanley) – constantly gleaning from this devotional
- Joni & Friends (Joni Eareckson Tada) – always insightful & must read daily
- PD Daily Hope (Rick Warren) – simple, insightful, great devotional
- BGEA: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – nicely formatted, insightful
- Joyce Meyer – good daily devotional
- Our Daily Bread – nice devotional, possibly found in your church
- Daily Grace Inspirations (Joseph Prince) – nice devotional focused on God’s grace
- The Upper Room – nice devotional
- Spurgeon’s Daily Meditations (Charles Spurgeon) – insightful, available AM & PM
- Harvest (Greg Laurie) – good devotional
- Heartlight SpiritFire (Phil Ware) – good devotional
“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”
– Psalm 42:1 [GW]
How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Many people have heard this question asked as part of a joke. This morning I entered the kitchen and realized that it was a bit darker than usual. I looked to where the light usually comes from and noticed that there was a bulb in some cylindrical thing and it was out. I had no clue how to change this bulb or even where I could purchase a replacement bulb. Two months ago, I did not even know that under-the-cabinet lights existed.
It took me quite some time to remove the old bulb. Then I went over to my laptop and started to search for the numbers I found on the bulb. I got a lot of information, but I had to sift through things to make sure it was the correct information. Then it was off to the store and I was so confused when I found all of the different types of bulbs in the lighting supply aisle. There were so many bulbs that looked like the exact same bulb. I had to take the old bulb out and make comparisons. I had to read paperwork. I had to take my time to make the right choice. When I got to the cash register, I told the cashier that I was so nervous to install the bulbs. She could tell that I was in need of a confidence boost and she let me know that I would get the job done, and she even gave me some pointers. She was right!
We are often faced with situations that are new, things that are more grueling and more important than a simple light bulb. We are called to do things that are challenging. We are given work that seems nearly impossible. Some situations overwhelm us if we let them.
What do you do when you have your own light bulb to change? Your light bulb could be anything. You do the same thing you do with anything that comes your way in life.
Things to remember:
* Do not hide from the situation. Hiding from the situation will not make it go away. Remember that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26). God can do more than you ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If God is for you, what can be against you? (Romans 8:31). Many times, you will find that the situation is a great test of faith which can result in spiritual growth that will help you to one day be complete (James 1:2-4).
* Take it one step at a time. There is usually no need to rush a situation. When Jesus was ministering on earth, notice that He wasn’t rushing around healing and feeding. He took steps. He took time. He left us an example of great patience and self-control. If we practice this behaviors, we are more likely to be successful. Remember that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23 NASB).
* Prepare yourself. Do the research. Read. Learn. Grow. Even when I was changing the light bulb, God’s Word was in my head and heart. Spending time in His Word helps to provide us with what we need when we are facing tough situations. Seek Him for guidance. His Word provides instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).
* Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way. God wants us to be part of a community. We each have our own part to play. We each have different talents, different specialties. We are all given the command to love one another. Sometimes we do the giving, sometimes we do the receiving. We should always seek help from Him. But remember, there are times that we need to ask others for some assistance. People do not always know what is going on in your life and they cannot read your mind. Luke 11 gives us instruction on how to pray as it also tells us of a friend who helps another. The friend is knocking on the door and announcing the need. Sometimes we are the helping friend, sometimes we are the knocking friend.
* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will be encouraging. Positive people share, love, and can see the good in things. Proverbs 11:9 states, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Words are powerful and if you are surrounded by negative people, in time it will start to become your way of life. Proverbs 17:22 says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (NASB). When you are facing tough situations, it is wonderful to have some “good medicine” from some positive people.
Finally, show yourself some grace. God thinks you are worth it!
My children can always get me laughing. They have this secret talent which I’m sure will never be a claim to fame. They can sing all of the commercial jingles for all of the restaurant establishments that appear on television. From Subway’s, “Five Dollar Foot Long Jingle,” to Chili’s “Baby Back Ribs Jingle,” they know the words and the melody. So what do you like to eat? The Bible says we are to eat the Word.
Some people hear that and find it puzzling. Who eats the Word? It’s written on paper. Well it was good enough for Ezekiel. God said, “Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you“ (Ezekiel 2:8b NASB). Ezekiel ate a scroll fed to him by God, and “it was sweet as honey“ (3:3). When Jeremiah was praying to God, he said, “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16a NASB).
So are we to eat the Word? Deuteronomy 8:8 states, “that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD” (NASB). We are to ingest the Word, so we must eat it. The question then is how do we eat the Word, because we aren’t supposed to follow suit in the manner of Ezekiel. Ephesians 6:18 tells us the manner to follow this directive is through prayer and petition. Simply put, we pray and read our Bibles.
We can get busy with our daily lives. It seems like when we are not working, we are still busy with something to keep us occupied or on the move. At times we neglect to read the Word enough. Now Jeremiah said that when He ate the Word, it was “the delight of (his) heart.” I feel the same way. Every morning I aim to start my day off with my daily devotionals and my own personal Bible reading. If I get through the reading and the devotionals, I have a good start to my day. I feel better. It’s like I had a spoonful of honey. If something came up and my plan was derailed, my day starts off bad from the beginning, and the rest of the day is a steady decline until I get my Bible open.
Perhaps you are making some pasta for dinner tonight or maybe you treating the family to some fine dining. Maybe you have a lot on the schedule and you will have to sneak in a quick meal at some fast food place. No matter where you eat, take some time to eat the Word. The Word is great for your body, great for your mind, and it’s always good to chew on.