How’s your quiet time/daily devotional/time spent with God and in His word?
Whichever way you want to ask that question, yes, we should invest in time with God on a regular basis. And truth is, many of us struggle. Many of us don’t know which of the many resources to choose (why is there just so many out there?!) I don’t know about some of you, but I really like to see what resources are out there, I like to peruse and check out new devotional stuff, check out old devotional stuff, explore and see which methods work (or which methods I’m not keen on).
And so, as a Christmas gift to you, or a new year challenge of 2016 (that’s literally round the corner), I bring you a compiled list, in a kind of “buzzfeed” format (believe you me, this post is not sponsored by them. Just thought it’d be cool to make a blog post like this for a change.)
1. COMMITTING TO DAILY BIBLE READING IS LIKE COMMITTING TO BRUSHING YOUR TEETH
Just like how you brush your teeth morning and night, this is a daily habit that has been built up over the duration of our lives, we also need to commit to reading on a daily basis. Sometimes after I’ve brushed my teeth (both morning and night time) with my teeth feeling clean and fresh–I pick up God’s word. We are told to commit to God’s word regularly (see Joshua 1:8, Romans 10:17, Hebrews 4:12, to name a few…). It’s a great habit to have. Just like brushing your teeth. Bathing. Washing your face. Moisturising. etc. If you build it up long enough, it becomes a daily habit.
2. SHOULD YOU MISS A DAY, WEEK, MONTH–PICK IT UP AGAIN AND KEEP TRYING
When life gets busy, or we get lazy or forgetful, then suddenly we remember to do our daily devotions, we feel guilty for not doing it, and then maybe the guilt becomes too crippling, so we don’t. It’s ok if you’ve missed it for a long time. Acknowledge it, confess it and come back to God and pick it up again. That’s how satan wants us to feel: to feel rubbish about not doing it. The important thing is to keep trying at it, keep pursuing God, keep developing this habit and overtime it will become second nature to you. Even if you’ve missed a day, a week, a month, years–just pick it up again, get back in to it sooner rather than later. Keep trying, like you would when playing a sport. You can do this!
3. MISSED SOME DAYS IN A DAILY DATED DEVOTIONALS? GO TO TODAY’S DATE INSTEAD
This follows on from number 2. The last time you read your paper-version daily dated devotional was August? It’s now December? You want to catch up on all 4 months worth? No… I wouldn’t recommend it, you might end up not enjoying it. So I would suggest picking it back up from today’s date. It’s by far more effective than playing catch up and it becoming like a chore. There is more enjoyment when reading that allocated portion every day, than to read a whole bunch.
But if you have an electronic devotional tool, and you can somehow change the dates to reset it, by all means reset it. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to read 3-30 readings a day to catch up! (I speak from experience!)
4. USING DEVOTIONAL GUIDES ARE A HELPFUL WAY TO DEVELOP A GOOD HABIT OF DAILY READINGS
Authors and writers spend a lot of time, effort and seeking the Spirit to write these guides to help us grow and walk with God. I think they’re pretty good tools to use. There are many you can buy online or at Christian bookshops. There’s also a handful of apps available (see point 8), as well as website blogs that do it on a regular basis too. Here are a few recommendations:
Matthew Henry Daily Readings: nice short reflections on passages for every day of the year.
Tim Keller’s Daily Devotions through the Psalms “My Rock My Refuge”: anything written by Tim Keller is good. I’ve not flicked through it. But I think he’s a great writer!!
Bible In One Year: adult version / Soul Survivor youth version. Both versions I’ve flicked through have the Old Testament, New Testament and a Psalm for each day. Pretty nice layout, and dated. No extra reflections though.
Oswald Chamber’s Utmost of His Highest: classic edition / easy to understand edition — I came across this one very early on in my walk with God. Let’s just say I *really* like this one.
Bible in one year: You can download the app, or you can subscribe to daily emails.
Bible in one year: Soul Survivor version. Easy to read and handle. Has links to youtube videos that explains things. Pretty good stuff, and suitable for youths or young Christians. (The app version still needs to be tweaked though, so I would recommend the online version more.)
Our Daily Bread: another one of my favourites, again, one that I used in my early christian days and absolutely loved (and still love to look at every so often! You can listen to the reflections, or you can read it. It also has optional readings if you want to read the bible in a year.
UCB Word For Today: there’s a written blurb, or you can just hit play and listen!
5. BUT IF YOU DON’T FANCY DEVOTIONAL GUIDES BUT WANT TO GET STRAIGHT IN, FIND A GOOD BIBLE READING PLAN (AND STICK TO IT)
Again, there are many bible reading plans available. Different formats, different ways of reading.
Here are a few good links for you:
Ten Good Reading Plans in one post / Topical 52 Week Bible Reading Plan / Printable Bible Reading Chart / 5X5X5 New Testament method for busy people
6. IF YOU’RE TOO BUSY TO DO DEVOS, READING A SHORT VERSE IS BETTER THAN NO VERSE.
Many of us are guilty of being “too busy” to find time to read God’s word (I’m guilty of it too!). But I’ve always said, one verse is better than no verse. So start your day with a bible verse, and mull over it throughout the day. It can be through having daily bible card calendars (see image above); putting bible verses throughout the house/mirrors/light switches; or even subscribing to daily emails: verseoftheday.com (click “subscribe by email” for daily emails into your inbox! they’re very good! for those who are too busy, but not busy enough to not check your emails!)
7. IF YOU’RE NOT INTO READING, TRY AUDIO BIBLES, DEVOTIONAL PODCASTS OR VIDEOS
I’m not sure how you’ve managed to click on this lengthy blog post. But oh well. If you struggle with reading, check out the following links:
– Biblegateway (type in the passage you want, and click on the sound button and have Max McClean read to you!)
– The Bible Experience (you can download their MP3s. i loved them so much I ended up buying them all on CD!)
– UCB Word For Today (there’s a written blurb, or you can just hit play and listen!)
– Audible.co.uk (both apple and android apps available for download, and you can listen to any devotional book through them! It’s amazing! both paid and free stuff available).
– DesiringGod LABS (John Piper gives a wonderful explanation while looking at the bible in his “Look At The Book” series, worth watching and learning from to use as a devotional, or as a supplement. but this is not a daily thing.
8. MAKE THE MOST OF PHONE APPS!
There are so many wonderful apps that God has blessed app-programers to make and design, and it’s so good having ones that are useful as well as having a user-friendly interface. A lot of these apps come with reminders which are always helpful!
But it can be hard to choose them sometimes… however my friends and I have tried and tested some of them and we absolutely LOVE the following ones:
– You Version Bible: on app store / google play shop (offline versions are downloadable, has study plans and guides, many different bible translations and viewing settings can be tweaked).
– Glo Bible: on app store / for PC version (offline version available, NIV or KJV translations available, multiple bible viewing page tabs can be opened too).
– ESV Bible: on app store / google play shop (Offline version available, Multiple study plans available, you can listen to the passages too)
– Explore Bible Devotional: on app store / google play shop (some free study plans, and some up-to-date versions or topical studies you can purchase. Very easy to use and written in very easy language too. Lots of application questions to help you explore deeper.)
– Holy Trinity Brompton’s Bible in One Year: on app store / google play shop (Offline version available, Nice and easy to use, in a day, it looks at passages from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Psalms, as well as a nice reflection to go with them, and further remarks breaking down the verses.)
– My Utmost for His Highest (A paid app, that is based on Oswald Chambers book. Nice short reflections with bible readings.)
9. FOR EXTRA SUPPLEMENTS, TRY READING CHRISTIAN BOOKS ALONGSIDE YOUR DEVOTIONS
There are soooooo many great Christian authors out there that are full of godly wisdom. You can always ask around at church (we have a lot of books upstairs at church on our shelves), or ask church friends to borrow books… even I have books you can borrow! It’s so great to have easy access to books nowadays and so good to be challenged to grow more in Christ. Definitely extra meat on top of your devotional reading. But definitely worth it. However, I have found that reading Christian books does not mean it replaces devotionals: devotionals are devotionals – reading God’s word with or without reflections; christian books are just christian books. they may contain God’s word yes, but I would suggest that they not replace God’s word completely.
10. WRITE IN A NOTEBOOK/JOURNAL TO TRACK THINGS OR TO WRITE PRAYERS OR THOUGHTS
Keeping a record of things can help us track our progress. You can scribble down your prayers, your thoughts of what you’ve been reflecting on, or it’s a place to write down your thanks to God (or complaints in my case!)… Re-reading old journal entries or scribblings allows us to see how God answered our prayers, taught us things before. It’s a useful tool to do, but yes it does require effort. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives. And if privacy is a huge concern for you, you can always have a private password protected blog or document that you type on your phone/computer.
11. INVEST IN A GOOD STUDY BIBLE
I am a strong advocate of study bibles. They are so well put together, from the “Introduction to the book of _____” to the verse by verse commentaries, to the maps, to the tables, to the summaries… Everything about these study bibles are so good! They have some useful facts for you to learn and grow. I would warn you though, these are a bit pricey, really heavy and big, but worth it if you are hungry to study more of God’s word. If you’re interested in having one, I would suggest you look through them and do some research first. Ask to see your friends one, read it and see if you like the writing style, and the layouts, or even the application things. Nowadays you can even preview the inside of the book on amazon!
Here are some goods ones I would recommend:
– Life Application Bible: NIV version or NLT version
– Family study bible for beginners (10 minute short devotions for you and your family to do together).
– NIV Study Bible, by D.A. Carson. (my friend recently bought this one, and really recommends it!)
– ESV Study Bible (the one I have shown in the image above).
12. CHANGE BIBLE TRANSLATIONS TO SPICE THINGS UP
Sometimes we need to change our translation to better understand things. It adds variation to our usual readings and allows us to see things in a different light. It’s always good to try new versions. I recommend reading “The Message” version every so often, or the “New Living Translation” and sometimes going back to “New King James Version” is fun too! You can try out different versions via Biblegateway or you can invest in a Parallel Translation Bible, those are worth having as you explore the scriptures!
13. TRY DOING YOUR DEVOTIONAL IN THE MORNING TO START YOUR DAY, AND END YOUR DAY WITH A BEDTIME PSALM
This is only a suggestion though. At the end of the day, do what works best for you! If you’re more alert in the mornings, go for it. If you’re more alert before bedtime, go for it. For some other people it’s after dinner in the evening. Or after school. But the above is only a suggestion that many have found to be nice as you start your day and end your day with God’s word.
Or you can even buy devotional books that have Morning and Evening readings. A friend recommends Spurgeon’s Morning And Evening devotions, or you can get it on the App Store.
14. SET REMINDERS ON YOUR PHONE TO READ YOUR BIBLE
Every mobile phone has a reminder function on it. Or you can set a clock too. These are pretty cool nifty tools to use to remind you during the day to pick up your bible. Chances are you’ll look more at your phone than the bible. So why not have your phone tell you to read your bible 🙂
15. REMEMBER TO PRAY BEFORE YOU DO YOUR DEVOTIONALS
It’s important we open God’s word with prayer, asking God to open our eyes, ears and heart to reading His words, so we can hear Him, and to make our hearts receptive to His Son’s leading and guidance. The Spirit can certainly move us, and impact us tremendously. We should pray that God will “open our eyes to wonder” (Psalm 119:18) and to “open our eyes to Jesus” (Luke 24:45); and for us to be “doers of your word” (James 1:22); and finally to “let us know; let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3).
16. IF YOU STILL HAVE NO CLUE, ASK YOUR PASTOR OR LEADER FOR SOME GOOD DEVOTIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS THAT ARE SUITABLE FOR YOU
As I’ve said above, sometimes we don’t have a clue where to look. So ask your pastor or leader for recommendations that are best suited for you! If they know you well enough, they will know which materials work best for you! So if in doubt, ask!
Hope your 2016 will be a year where God speaks to you through His word!