“For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.” --Luther's Tabletalk No.1877
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. [Ps 1:1-3]
This is an attempt to put Psalm 1 into practice. It attempts to answer the question: “How does one meditate day and night on God’s law?” There is nothing more crucial for a vital walk with Jesus than a daily devotional time with him. Last year I shared the plan I was going to follow in "Devotional Design for 2009." [You may access it at our GMTB website: www.givemethatbook.com.] Because it is so important to our spiritual health, devotions need not only to be prioritized, they need to be organized. By that I mean they need to be deliberately planned out. Each person should put together his or her own menu based upon the hunger or the passion he or she carries into the New Year. I trust that my model and suggestions will help you shape your own precious time with God.
Bible Plan: There are many plans available. One of the best is the "Through the Bible in a Year" that includes a passage from the Old and New Testament; a psalm; and a proverb for each day's devotion. I have occasionally been lead to alter my approach to focus on one passage for the entire year. I have written and spoken about the life changing experience I had one year in Psalm 27 [Also found on GMTB website]. This year I have determined to concentrate upon the Gospel of John. I have chosen John because I want a fresh glimpse of the glory of Jesus Christ, Son of God. I am working slowly, studying the words and their relationships, trying to drain every bit of truth I can. I have allotted approximately two chapters per month. That will allow in depth study on issues that arise where I can take the time to dive into their depths.
Because I cannot go a year or day without the Psalms, I am also including one of my “memorized psalms” for daily reflection. This will enable me to keep those passages fresh in my mind while also allowing the Spirit to bring new applications to fit my daily struggles. This month I have combined John 1 with Psalm 1.
Bible Memory: You will find this a delight if you determine to make it a year-long discipline. This should include both a new passage to learn and a system of review for past portions committed to memory. I find that I have to schedule particular days in the month to review the passages already in the head so that they will remain available to the heart. [Day 1-Psalm 1; Day 2-Psalm 19; Day 3-Psalm 23; Day 4-Psalm 27; Day 5-Psalm 42; Day 6-Psalm 63; Day 7-Psalm 139; Day 8-Isaiah 40; Day 9-Romans 8; Day 10-John 15; etc.] Whenever there is a free moment during the day, I will try to recite the “passage of the day” and make it a personal prayer. I have also determined to set the middle of the day for a specific time to work on new passages. I am presently working my way through Psalm 119 and Ephesians 4-6. I am also committed to reciting my memorized passages whenever I get in bed; when I wake up in the middle of the night; and when I wake up in the morning. [“On my bed I remember you. I think of you through the watches of the night.” Psalm 63:6] This simple discipline has become a very precious and helpful blessing; especially in times of struggle.
Personal Diary: A diary is a great tool to help you record the ways God is speaking to you throughout the year. God values writing, that is why He gave us the Book. The diary becomes a daily discourse between you and God. Writing births thoughts from your heart that will astound you in their profundity. You will be amazed how God can use this simple discipline. I have record of meditations that go all the way back to the mid-eighties. I can pick them up and see how God was speaking to me through good times and bad. My journal includes:
• Supplications: It includes prayer requests and answers. If God answers prayers, then it seems only right that I should keep a record of them for praise and thanks to Him.
• Study: It is a written record of what I am learning as I meditate and investigate the passages before me. I don’t want to lose what I am discovering.
• Struggles: It can be a place where we dialogue with God over the many issues that we struggle with and record the insights and the steps we will take to apply what we are learning. Isn’t that what the psalmist is doing?
Battle Friend: Everybody needs a mentor, one who has gone before us and will help us stay on the path of God's blessing. This year, try picking one hero of the faith to walk with you through the year. I have chosen Martin Luther for my companion. I am going to read his biography. I am going to use one or more of his books as a companion to my Bible study. I am going to put him under the microscope. I want to know what made him different, what made him great. I want to know the struggles he faced. I want to know why he loved and trusted Jesus like he did. Obviously, he was human and had all of the frailties and struggles of sinful men, like me. But, he also knew Christ and his Word in a way that I do not. I want to know and imitate that area of his life.
Personal Prayer: Without Christ we can do nothing! That includes discovering and delighting in the treasures of his Scriptures. “Open my eyes that I might see the wonderful things in your law;” [Psalm 119:18] “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders;” [Psalm 119:27] are just two of the many requests the psalmist directs toward God. The normal mental processes simply will not uncover the riches hidden in the Word. We need the help of the Holy Spirit so we must pray for it.
I hope this tool will be helpful to you in determining your own discipline of delight. It is not meant to be a pattern to be imitated. You are at a different place in your life. But, it does communicate what I think are principles and practices that you can use to shape and form your own devotional life for 2010. May Christ reveal to you new vistas of his glory and may 2010 be a year of prosperity as you trust and obey God’s Word.
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