I can’t emphasize enough the value of daily, dedicated time spent
with a bible and other devotional material.
No matter how busy and hectic your life is, you can transform it and yourself into something more wonderful than you can even imagine without experiencing it and before you form the habit.
I’m retired from regular "nine to five" jobs,
and can lazily and lovingly devote more time than most to such things, but I began to acquire the habit 26 years before I retired, on the advice of some mentors in “a program of recovery” from “a seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body”
I’m so glad I was, more or less, forced to do so, for as I said, the practice is miraculously, though not suddenly, transformational.
What began as an essential therapy and discipline to help ward off death and suffering (and not just my own) from
alcoholism and other addictions has grown into the best part of my life. It provides daily opportunities to hear the Great and Gracious God of the Universe speak to my heart, mind, and spirit and to transform and redirect my mundane thoughts to the miraculous
power of His Love for us, and then, to experience that power playing out in my life.
At first, it was hard, forcing myself to get up a few minutes early to read “program” and devotional writings, now I am sometimes almost resentful of early morning tasks that interfere
with my devotional and study time. That’s because my resentments are reduced, and my life immeasurably enriched, by this habit.
This morning, I had some difficulty forcing myself out of the comfort of my bed and into my daily routine; I’m
old and recovering from a significant injury, which resulted in a hemi-shoulder replacement surgery and some still-chronic pain. In addition, I have other uncomfortable and chronic medical conditions, so my TemperPedic adjustable bed is almost always
more alluring than the alternative of moving around, moaning and groaning with my routine aches and pains.
Nevertheless, I got up, thinking about finishing our taxes, training our “hyper” puppy (a “Blue Heeler” rescued dog – available
to a good home if anybody wants one), and a host of other tasks and troubles.
Then, I started chastising myself for not thinking of my Lord and Savior and the Blessed Holy Spirit first, so, I finished my “necessities” and sat down with my digital tablet to begin my cherished devotional time.
First up was this year’s “new”
devotional, Pastor E. Stanley Jones’ “Victorious Living” (it’s “new” to me, but originally published more than 80 years ago), and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in… well… victorious living.
Pastor Jones begins each of his devotionals with three or four scriptural citations, citing only Book, Chapter, and verse numbers, instead of reprinting the verse(s), as with other devotionals.
Often, since I’ve read thru the canon many times, I just do
a digital “quick check” of the cited verses, right there on the tablet, in the “Bible Gateway” app (also highly recommended – you may view verses in almost any translation and many languages – and for a small monthly fee,
you can access copious commentary and study notes). I don’t usually spend any time going thru the “study notes” or commentaries on the scriptures, preferring to move on to read what Pastor Jones had to say about them, and trusting God
(also highly recommended) and my memory of studying them, before (not so highly recommended).
This morning, however, I decided to pick up my big, thick, study bible from its place right by my easy chair and review the citations in it.
Jones was discussing the value
of Bible study; the first scripture cited was Psalm 119:11:
“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
That reinforced my earlier thoughts that I ought to be placing my devotional reading and prayer time before my concerns with dogs and taxes and whatever worldly troubles and temptations affecting me.
Then, with what I now consider, in hindsight, to be the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I looked at the “study
note” for the verse. It informed me that the Hebrew word translated “word” in this case, was actually a synonym for the usual word “dabar” used elsewhere in the Psalm and Psalms to mean “word”. The word
used here is “’imrah” – and ‘imrah is usually translated as “promise”. Therefore, a completely legitimate translation of the verse could be:
“I have hidden your PROMISE in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
I almost laughed out loud,
and I did smile broadly and praise and thank God out loud for this specific reminder that He is faithful, even when I am not.
See, His promises in the written word and thru the Living word that is His gift to the world, Jesus the Christ, are extravagant beyond measure.
And His promise to me, personally,
at the beginning of this journey to a more intimate relationship with the Triune God, 30 years ago: “Don’t worry, Steve, everything is going to be alright”, plays out, daily, as I follow His instructions on victorious living, which include
regularly and habitually “dwelling” in Him and the word, both written and living.
Yes, you read that right… He spoke to me, even more clearly than these words on the screen before you, and He continues to remind me that His promises can be relied on and His word is
true. Sometimes it comes thru others, sometimes thru the special and personal touch of His Spirit, and once, it came directly, in answer to a fervent prayer: “Whoever you are, whatever you are, please help me.”
Seek God and He will be found
– the scriptures promise this, in many places and many ways; you may have just begun the seeking by reading thru this long and personal exhortation.
But, whether or not that is the case, keep seeking, or begin seeking, daily, and consistently, thru prayer,
meditation and devotional reading, and you will find, sooner or later, God speaking to you, too, in various delightful and personal ways.
God Bless, and have a marvelous day, with the blessed assurance of more to come, when they all include time with Him.