Monday, June 20, 2011

Delighting in the Lord :: Part 2

{Please be sure to read Part One first!}

{Written by Bethany Ann}
We might not feel like we want to read the Bible or memorize a Bible verse so we listen to our heart as the world tells us. But the Lord says that "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. who can understand it?" ~Jeremiah 17:9 What if we want to know God and spend time in His Word, but it seems "dry"? Well, friend these are not times to give up! It is often through such times that we are strengthened in our faith if we keep going...even when it's hard! Maybe you have spent too much time reading, listening to the radio, sewing or any other activity that you enjoy instead of in the Word of God. While these thing can be very good, if we do them too much then we might lose interest in God's Word, thus making it dry. I would encourage you to pray and ask God to help you in this time, to make devotions fun and exciting-because they can be with God's help! Another thing that may help is to constantly think of things such as "Oh, spending time with God is so exciting! I can't wait until I can read and memorize it again!" even though you might not feel that way at the time, if we keep it going in our mind eventually our heart will adapt to it and we will truly enjoy our time devoted to our Father. Keep reading your Bible and try to be excited about it! It may help to study with a friend or sibling or to use a Bible study guide or booklet. Find creative ways to make devotions exciting and fun and remember to never give into the temptations you will face!
Often times we think that the only time we spend with God is during times which we call "devotions". This isn't true! We need to constantly be in communion with the Lord at all times-not only when we have the set apart times. We often think that if we aren't reading the Bible then it isn't a devotion time. But we can be praying while washing dishes, meditate on a Bible verse while waiting in line and these things are considered time with God! Be creative and see how often you can include God in your everyday life!

Okay, now we know how important it is to delight in the Lord but how exactly do we do it? Well to start Bible reading, meditation and memorization along with prayer is a great way to know the Lord!
In one of my favorite books Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally in chapter 11 which is entitled "Delighting in the Lord" Sarah shares some more detailed ideas: {Bolded words are from her book}
  1. Spend Time Alone with God This is vital! It is something that a true Christian cannot do without. Set aside a specific time so that you know that at that time you will devote it to the Lord.
  2. Learn to Get to Know Him How can we truly know God if we don't learn His characteristics? This is a wonderful place to start is you haven't already! Try studying the names of God, this is a fun way to learn about Him and will also widen your vocabulary making it extra special when you pray since you will be able to pick a certain name for your current situation.
  3. Treasure His Love Letter to You. When a friend sends you a letter you treasure it and read it over and over and over, right? The same is so with God's love Letter-the Bible! Study it! Memorize it! Meditate on it throughout the day! Make it your most prized possession!
  4. Understand What He Has Done for You.  There have been times  when although I knew that Jesus died on my sins, but I didn't really take the time to ponder it. Yes, Jesus had died for me. But it was so much more than that! He suffered for MY sins, He bore the pain for MY sins, and by HIS stripes, am I healed. I often don't take into mind the details of all that went on that horrible day when Jesus gave Himself for me. I would suggest looking through the Gospel's accounts of the crucifixion for it was the worst way to die! We often hear that Jesus was crucified so often that we start to forget just how gruesome and horrible it was. Studying what happened and knowing it will help us to not only feel more loved but also to realize the depth of that Love for us.
  5. Frequently Tell Him of Your Love.  The Bible tells us to "Pray without ceasing" but so often we do not take it literally! We can pray every where and at every time! What a blessing it is! To think that God, the Creator of all things is interested in me and wants me to come to Him at anytime of the day is wonderful! What a love! Jesus does not require us to wait in line behind a million people to tell Him something. And the best part if that He wants to know it all-not only the big things! Today see how often you can pray! Sometimes it is encouraging to record the amount of time you spend in prayer on a chart. This way you can see how much time you have spent with God and it will encourage you to continue to commune with Him! I have recently taken a challenge to pray for 10 minutes every day and have been very blessed by it! I not encourage you to pray for 10 minutes a day for the next week-you will be abundantly blessed!
  6. Demonstrate Your Love by Your Actions. This one is easier said than done! But I truly believe that if we fully comprehend what He did for us then demonstrating His love through our actions won't we as hard as we think! When we realize what He did for us then we will want to be more Christ-like because we are taken over with awe of what He did.
  7. Tell Others About His Greatness. Once I heard about a lady named Shelby Kennedy. Although she died in her early twenties due to cancer, her siblings said that she was "One in a million". She always tried to point others to Christ and found every possible way to do so! Her siblings tell of how she would throw a pebble into the pond and as the watter rippled she would lean over to her siblings and say "Look, do you see those ripples? That's how I want my life to be.I want my actions to have a ripple effect on others". This story inspired me to take every opportunity we get to share with others God's love.
  8. Worship Him. Have you ever noticed how worshiping God by singing a song lifts your spirit and makes you want to praise Him more? Sometimes I start my devotions with a worship song or hymn to help me get into the worship. But remember that we don't have to be singing a song for it to qualify as worship. When we thank Him for the day that He has made, that's worship. When we tell Him how great He is in a prayer before a meal, that's worship. Try and worship Him as much as possible because He truly is worth every minute of our lives in worship!
  9. Be Attentive to the Gifts He Gives You. Sometimes when things don't go my way I complain. But I've found that everything, no matter what it is, always has a positive side. Our problem is that we always dwell on the negative side. When we can take anything and look at the bright side then it makes a huge difference! Did you have to miss seeing friends because you were sick? Thank God that you aren't sick with something worse or life threatening. Did you not get to go to that Bible study because you had to watch your siblings? Thank God that you have siblings to watch! Don't like doing the dishes? Thank God that the dishes are dirty and need to be washed because that means that you had food to eat! If the dishes weren't dirty then that means that you didn't eat. You see, there is always at least one good thing to everything! Try and see the bright side in everything!
  10. Keep Journals of your Times Together. Often times I am not as faithful of a journal writer as I should be! But if we do keep a journal of our times with Him then we can go back to those entries later on and see how God used certain things for His good or how we grew in a certain area!
  11. Run into His Arms Whenever You Need Comfort. It is so easy to run to Jesus in times of need-but sadly, we often don't. I remember once we were looking for my mom's car keys, which she had misplaced. Instead of praying to God for help I just worried, which of course didn't make anything better. It wasn't until about 10 minutes into the search that I realized that God had a plan and that maybe it was to bring me closer to Him to make me realize how little I pray and ask Him for help. So I prayed and sure enough He answered my prayer and we found the keys. After that time I pondered on why I didn't think to ask God earlier. I realized how often I wait until the last minute to pray and it should be the other way around! If you are ever in a time of need let Him know!
If you haven't already read book Before You Meet Prince Charming, then I recommend that you do! I would also encourage you ladies who already have the book to read the whole chapter on delighting in the Lord for there were some really good points that I didn't have time to write here!
Sometimes in our devotional life it may seem "dry". This might be because we aren't putting our whole heart into it. I have found that when I put all my heart into it, and not only part of it, it makes a lot more sense, and I understand the Word better. For all devotionals (basically any time we are communing with God) it is a good idea to start with a clean heart. Pray and ask God to bring to mind things that you haven't asked forgiveness for already. When we start with a clear conscience it makes a big difference! Also pray that God would teach you through His Word and that you would not walk away empty handed.
Another thing that is very crucial  in order to have productive devotionals it to stay focused. So often my mind wanders into other things and before I know it I've read a whole chapter and can't remember a word of it! I start to think of my to do list "Oh, I need to mop today! And I need to email so and so about such and such. And I need to write that letter!" sometimes writing a list of "to-do's" before hand helps me not worry about forgetting everything. The purpose it to block everything else out so that you can learn the most. Pray and ask God to help you stay focused and He will! Remember that this is Satan trying turn your time with Jesus so don't give way to his lies! I usually purpose to not talk on the phone, read a book, get on the computer, etc until I've spent time with God. This helps keep me accountable!
A great idea Johanna had once was to have a date with Jesus were you plan a day were you will have a cup of tea and just go through  Bible verses and dwell on them, reflect on what God has been doing in your life, pray, memorize bible verses, etc. The idea is to get excited because you are doing something you don't get to do every day and spend that special time with Jesus. It defiantly helps!
Another idea to "liven up" devotions is to keep a prayer basket! In the winter 2008 issue of The King's Blooming Rose Magazine (to purchase that issue on Daily Devotions, which I highly recommend you to do as it blessed me very much, then click HERE) there was an article which suggested to use a plain basket and put the following in it:
  • Your Bible
  • Bookmarks
  • Pens or pencils
  • A notebook to take notes as you read your Bible and study it
  • A favorite hymn or song
  • Mints or hard candies to put in your mouth if you start to doze off. :)
  • Index cards to write special verses and carry them around the house that day
  • A washcloth to remind you to stay clean before God
  • A prayer list or picture of a person you want to keep in prayer
  • A chart were you record time you spent with God or in Bible memorization or time in prayer
This is a great idea and would make great birthday gifts!
I hope that this article has helped you and will bring you closer to Christ!

May God Bless You!
Bethany Ann

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