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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Start a Daily Habit--7 Minutes with God

For many years now, I have used The One Year Bible (Tyndale) as a helpful Bible reading guide because it assigns passages of Scripture by calendar date. It is a "no-brainer" for regular Bible readers. Just ask yourself “what is today's date?” then find those pages in the One Year Bible and there’s your reading for today (365 daily readings).

Once you get started, this is a great way to read the whole Bible through in a year, then repeat year after year after year--the Word of God never grows stale!
For those who have not yet established a daily personal quiet time, the One Year Bible is an excellent resource. If you already practice this spiritual discipline, you may want to share the following tips on getting started with a friend who wants to start spending personal time getting to know God better.

Robert D. Foster
, in his classic booklet: Seven Minutes With God (NavPress), provides very practical guidance for anyone who wants to begin a daily “morning watch” or “quiet time” alone with God. Bob writes that it was "in 1882 at Cambridge University” in England that “the world was first given the slogan: 'Remember the morning watch.'" He adds: "One of the missing links has been a workable plan on how to begin and maintain a morning watch." Foster's simple prescription for getting started spending daily time alone with God follows:

"I want to suggest that in order to get under way, you start with seven minutes . . . How do you spend these seven minutes? After getting out of bed and taking care of your personal needs, you will want to find a quiet place and there with your Bible enjoy the solitude of seven minutes with God.

"Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. Thank Him for the good night of sleep and the opportunities of this new day. 'Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Open my heart. Fill my heart. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Lord, surround me with Your presence during this time. Amen.’

Now take four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear some word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

"After God has spoken through His book, then speak to Him--in prayer.
You now have two and a half minutes left for fellowship with Him in four areas of prayer that you can remember by the word ACTS. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication."

Foster sums up the seven minutes as follows:

• 0.5 minutes Prayer for guidance (Psalm 143:8);
• 4 minutes Reading the Bible (Psalm 119:18);
• 2.5 minutes Prayer—Adoration (1 Chronicles 29:11); Confession(1 John 1:9); Thanksgiving(Ephesians 5:20); Supplication (Matthew 7:7).

He then concludes: "This is simply a guide. Very soon you will discover that it is impossible to spend only seven minutes with the Lord . . . Do not become devoted to the habit, but to the Savior.

"Do not do it because other men are doing it--not as a spiritless duty every morning, nor merely as an end in itself, but because God has granted the priceless privilege of fellowship with Himself. Covenant with Him now to guard, nourish, and maintain your morning watch of seven minutes."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All the Days of My Life

I try to share a daily "Text for Today" with my immediate family members via email. The other day I sent them Psalm 139:15-16. As she often does, Cheryl (my wife) shared her insights and response. I am always encouraged by the way God's living Word inspires us to respond. So here are the texts, and Cheryl's insightful response. You can read more of her writings on her blog

"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:15-16).

"You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day" (The Message).

"What does God's train of thought toward me look like? His thoughts would not be idle thoughts, or malicious or scornful. His thoughts are about redeeming my days and making them purposeful. He thinks of how to love me and how to carry me through fires and floods. He takes delight in me--as strange as that seems since I often don't find very much that is delightful about myself.

"He looks forward to the future with me. He forgets my broken past. He fills the present. Every time I awaken to any new form of consciousness about my life He is there. He never stops speaking to me with the voice that is compared to the sound of many waters in the Bible...roaring and murmuring, perhaps like the sound of a river running through a campground at night, He is ceaseless in His thoughts and expressions of Himself to me.

"He is Jesus, who was impossible to ignore while He walked this earth. He is kind, compassionate, confrontational, soft-spoken and angry at sin. He is welcoming. He is gentle and thoughtful, always ready to give an answer to every question, but perhaps in puzzling ways. The conundrums He allows in my life are invitations to me to come closer to Him and learn more.

"Everything He thinks and does about me is meant to draw me more deeply into relationship with Himself and each thought is new, as fresh as the current moment itself. I have never lived this moment before and God is thinking fresh, creative thoughts about me right now. How vast He is. How vast are His thoughts."