Having recently received an encouraging email from a friend who let me know he was praying for me, I was reminded that I should not neglect this important part of ministering to others in need. But what prompts this action? It is often a response to hearing, reading, and studying God’s Word.
Hearing usually takes place in our local church. Does your commitment stop with the Sunday morning worship hour or do you avail yourself of the Christian education hour that usually proceeds morning worship? If you have neglected this opportunity for further instruction, I would encourage you to make this a priority. Set the example for your children and commit to participate each week. You may even feel called to volunteer to teach. This discipline of preparing to teach a class each week will point you to further study of God’s Word. Often the benefit to your growth in grace will be greater than those receiving the instruction.
Reading is a discipline that is more difficult for some than others. During my lifetime I have made numerous efforts to read through the Bible each year…only to become discouraged and give up. As I moved toward retirement and had more time on my hands I found a renewed interest in reading the Bible. A number of churches publish a daily plan for helping with this goal. Perhaps a two year plan is more realistic for you and will usually involve reading about two chapters six days a week. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but how easily we are distracted, and then discouragement sets in when we get behind. The key here is finding a plan that works for you. Reading is a means to an end; that end is growing in our relationship with Christ.
Studying is perhaps the most neglected discipline. II Timothy 2:15 says to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. ” Meditating, memorizing, and applying Scripture should all flow from an effort to understand what God’s Word is saying to us. Perhaps you have found that a devotional book like Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening is helpful when doing personal study. If you have found studying difficult, ask someone mature in the faith for help. You may find them excited to give you guidance.
It is never too late to get started. Begin now and like Ezra who “set his heart to study the Law of the Lord” (Ezra 7:10) see what God wants to teach you in 2016. I can guarantee you that He will give you opportunities to use what you have learned to encourage someone else.
John Douglass recently retired after serving at Lakeland Christian School for 40 years. He has taken on the role of archivist for the school. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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