Everybody gets into making resolutions. Even those of us who declare, “I don’t make resolutions” secretly feel the “newness” of the next year. 2013 is a day old—it still has that “new year smell.” It is still (hopefully) untarnished by mistakes that rack up over the 365 days of “life.”
And maybe you’re reading this today because you’re trying to do better this year [than last] at giving God a regular portion of your day. Whether we call it a “quiet time” or “devotions,” we’re all meaning the same thing: a time for God in our day.
The seventy-fifth Psalm was written by our guy Asaph and it must be divine providence that my first blog of the year starts here. Trust me, I had no grand plan to start Psalm 75 at this point.
We praise you, God,
we praise you, for your Name is near;
people tell of your wonderful deeds.
This call to worship is a great reminder for us as we enter this year full of resolutions to dig deeper and further in God’s Word. Although the reasons we fail to stay in the Word are complex and many, I believe most of time we are trying to do it in our own strength.
The Bible, God’s love letter to humanity, is designed to be experienced. That means we are not only feeding our mind—and that’s important. We are also feeding our emotions and our spirits. This isn’t just an academic exercise we launch into when we read God’s Word. Instead, we are hearing from the voice of our loving Master and we are learning how to hear His voice.
I encourage those in our church to not just read the Bible but to engage in a “personal worship time.” Here’s the
Read His Word systematically – Have a plan. No need to reinvent the wheel here. There are hundreds (or more?) reading plans readily available on the Internet. If you have a smartphone you can also download YouVersion and they have reading plans (with reminders if you get behind). But whatever you do, get a plan. Use your plan and stick with it. Devotional literature is great but it’s no substitute for reading the Words of your Creator personally. Know this: you’ll never get His Word in your heart until you have it in front of your eyes.
Sing – I can hear some of you now. “O Joel, I’m not singing.” Trust me: it’s powerful. Put on some music that really moves you. Close your eyes. Picture the cross. Picture the empty tomb. Picture His hand reaching into the slime pit and pulling you out. You’ll find inspiration to sing really fast. Music has a way of getting our emotions and spirits where our intellects sometimes can’t.
Pray– This is just talking to God. Tell Him how you feel. Tell Him you’ve had a bad day; tell Him you’ve had a great day. He wants to hear from you. He’s waiting to hear about your fears, concerns, praises, joys…He cares. Yes, He already knows but He still loves you enough to listen.
Wait – This one is tough…really tough. Too often, people read and pray and then jump up and I would imagine God sits in heaven and says, “when do I get to talk?!” You see, God doesn’t do competition very well. He doesn’t want to compete with the noise. When you slow down…breathe…rest…be still…with His words in your mind, His song in your heart, and your prayers rising to Heaven: it’s in the combination of THOSE moments you realize His “Name is near.”
May you praise Him well this year, taking one day at a time. May His praise be on your lips, in your heart, and in your head.
Happy new year!