Devotionals

Week 1

“…Followers of Christ should learn to study God’s Word for themselves because, as they study it, the Holy Spirit will open their eyes…and transform the way they think and live. Bottom line…It is the chief way that they will come to know and understand God.” Jeremy, Pastor

Week 1, Day 1

Congratulations! You have just taken the first step in developing one of the most beneficial habits that you will ever develop. We encourage you to commit right now to see this journey through to the end. You have obviously made a commitment to learn more about God and ways to follow God’s plan for your life. This study is written to help you;

  • Experience real life change as a result of having personal Bible study as a priority in your life.
  • Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth.
  • Gain a strong foundation of Bible knowledge to build on as you grow and mature.

Because this study is designed to help you meet these very specific goals, it is very important that you work through the daily lessons in the order that they are presented. If you miss a day, pick up where you left off so that you don’t miss any important information that you will need to build on later. Do not skip ahead! This study will start slow and then grow as the weeks progress. The goal of this study is to help you learn to read the Bible on your own, without an outside guide like this one.

Some tips as you get started…

This study should take about ten minutes each day to complete. Take a hard look at your schedule and decide where you can carve ten minutes out of your day. If possible, pick a time that won’t change from day to day or week to week. Consider this time your appointment with God, and don’t stand Him up! The ten minute study time is a beginning point; over the weeks this time should grow as you learn to study and spend more time with God in prayer.

Come to your appointment with God prepared to learn. Bring your Bible (a study Bible with concordance if you have access to one), a pencil/pen (and a highlighter if you have one), and a notebook that you can use only for personal Bible study notes.

Meet with God in a private place with as few distractions as possible. Begin your time with God by praying each day to ask Him to clear your mind of distractions. Confess any sin that might get in the way of your hearing Him clearly and hand over to Him any worries that might distract you and cause your thoughts to wander.

Expect great things! God’s Word is powerful. Turn in your Bible to Hebrews 4:12 and read the verse at least three times. Think about what you pray God will do in your life in the next few months of study.

Then, spend a few moments in silent prayer.

  • Tell God how excited you are to learn more about Him and grow spiritually.
  • Thank God for speaking to you through the Bible and ask Him to give you a craving for truth.
  • Tell God when you plan to meet with Him every day and ask Him to bless your time together.

Right now, begin preparing for your time with God tomorrow.

  • Gather together the items listed in today’s reading and put them in the place that you plan to meet with God tomorrow.
  • Write down the time that you plan to meet with Him and lay it on top of those items in plain sight.
  • Tell someone that you trust about your plan and ask them to check up on you to see if you followed through on your promise to God.

Week 1, Day 2

Before we begin, make sure you have your Bible, a notebook and a pen with you. Start the time by asking God to help you stay focused on the study today. Let’s get started!

Spiritual Disciplines

Spiritual disciplines are “the means by which we gain God’s perspective and align with His will” and include things like Bible study and prayer. While the Bible talks about, encourages, and even commands us to practice many of the habits that we consider spiritual disciplines, it doesn’t give us a definite list of spiritual disciplines to follow and does not actually use the term spiritual disciplines.

Over the years, many believers have used the Bible to put together a list of habits that they consider to be the most important to the spiritual development of followers of Christ. Over the next few days, you will learn about a few of these spiritual disciplines that we consider the most basic and most important to your personal spiritual growth. They are:

  • Bible Study
  • Prayer
  • Connection with a local church
  • Worship

It’s important that you make these spiritual disciplines a priority in your life. They are the gas in the car of your faith and will help you get where you want to go spiritually. Without them, you are spiritually stalled right where you are and may begin to roll backwards, if you aren’t careful. Don’t let that happen! Great things are ahead of you.

Write today’s date and the title of today’s study in your notebook. Write the references of the verses that we read and the answers to the following questions there.

Read 1 Timothy 4:7-9.

Look at verse seven. What is God telling you to do?

Look at verse eight. What promise do you find in this verse?

Do you have any spiritual goals? Think for a minute about what you would like God to do in your heart and life. Write down this spiritual goal.

Keeping today’s verses in mind, how do you think that you will reach this goal?

Pray:

  • Read your spiritual goal out loud to God and ask Him to show you His spiritual goal for you as you study His Word in the days ahead.
  • Promise to train spiritually by making the spiritual disciplines a priority in your life.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:
(This section is for those who want to learn more about the day’s topic and further practice their Bible study skills.)

Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. How is spiritual training different from other training you may have experienced? Which is more important? Why?

Week One, Day Three

Ready? Get your materials together, and let’s dive right in. Date and title today’s study in your notebook.

Bible Study

Some people hear the word “study” and cringe, but studying the Bible is more exciting than many other types of study that we do because what we learn from it has the power to change our lives and the lives of those around us. It teaches us about our creator, the secrets of the universe and the purpose of our life…real stuff, important stuff, stuff that we can actually use for the rest of our lives!

Read Matthew 4:1-4 and Psalm 119:105. (Don’t forget to write the scripture references down and your answers to the questions below in your notebook.)

Think about these two verses for just a moment. Why is it important to study the Bible?

Just so you know, reading the Bible and studying the Bible are two different things. We read the Bible to hear truth. We study the Bible to swallow truth and draw strength from it like food.

Pray:

  • Thank God for the Bible and for loving you enough to give you a road map for your life.
  • Ask God to help you want to really study your Bible.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:

Read Psalm 119:105-112.

 In general, how would you describe the writer’s attitude toward God’s Word? What can you learn from him?

 Write down a verse that stands out to you from Psalm 119:105-112.

Week One, Day Four

Feeding Yourself

 Like food, God’s word is meant to be chewed, swallowed, and used. We need it like we need food, but many believers are content to have one or two meals a week (Sundays and Wednesdays) and to eat those meals from someone else’s hand (in the form of a lesson or sermon) like a toddler who can’t handle a spoon yet. No wonder so many Christians are weak in their faith. They have starved themselves. It’s really very sad because it’s not hard to learn how to handle “the spoon” of personal Bible study and get truth for yourself.

During the course of this year, we are going to teach you how to feed yourself spiritually by introducing you to three different Bible study methods. They will be your eating utensils. We will start with the simplest and move to the more challenging. By the end of this year, you can be skilled at using each and then you can choose which method to use in order to get the most out of your personal Bible study. You may even choose to use all three in one sitting, just as you might use a spoon, fork, and a knife in a single meal. Sound good? Let’s begin.

The “God Follower” method of Bible study is made up of just two simple but powerful questions that can be asked of any passage of scripture:

  1. What does this passage tell me about God?
  2. What does this passage tell me about how to follow God?

Let’s practice this method.

Read Matthew 4:1-4. (Got your notebook handy?)

You read this verse yesterday and answered a question about it. But, you will learn that each time you read a passage from the Bible, God can continue to teach you new things.

Let’s find out by using the God Follower method of Bible study. (Try to answer the following questions on your own before looking at the possible answers.)

  1. What does this passage tell me about God?
  2. What does this passage tell me about how to follow God?

Possible answers:

  • This passage tells me that every word that God speaks is important, and that God is the source of what I need to live.
  • This passage tells me that, as a follower of God, I should consider God’s word to be at least as important as food and depend on God’s word for guidance and life. It also tells me that God’s word is important when I have temptations to do things wrong.

Your answers may be worded differently, and you may have gotten a bit more or less information from your study of this passage. Don’t be concerned. The important thing is that you to concentrate on the scripture and to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Be careful not to read anything into scripture that isn’t there, or to overlook what may be uncomfortable for you to think about.

Did you find that there was more to be learned in this verse than you originally thought? If so, then you have taken a step toward feeding yourself spiritually. You are beginning to understand what people mean when they tell you to “dig into God’s Word.” True Bible study is like eating an apple down to the core or getting the last bit of meat off of a bone. It requires effort, but it pays off!

Pray:

  • Thank God for speaking to you today. Tell Him what you learned and how you plan to use it.
  • Ask God to help you learn to hear His voice more clearly and to continue to get better at understanding what you read in the Bible.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:

Read Psalm 119:73. Practice the “God Follower” method of Bible study on this passage and thank God for what He teaches you.

Week One, Day Five

Digging In

You can use the God Follower method of Bible study to study both individual verses and longer passages of scripture as a whole.

Let’s practice doing both by taking a look at a passage within Psalm 119. We will start by asking the God Follower questions of just one verse within the passage and then ask the same questions of the passage as a whole.

Read Psalm 119:97. (Don’t forget your notebook!) Use the God Follower method of Bible study to study this verse. (Make your own notes in your notebook, before you read the “possible answers” below.)

  1. What does this passage tell me about God?
  2. What does this passage tell me about how to follow God?

Possible answers:

  1. This passage tells me that God gave us the Bible and that it is good.
  2. This passage tells me that God’s truth should affect me all day long.

Now read Psalm 119:97-104. Think about this passage as a whole for a minute or so and try to get a feel for the overall message. Answer the God Follower questions about the passage as a whole.

  1. What does this passage tell me about God?
  2. What does this passage tell me about how to follow God?

Possible answers:

  1. God gave us the Bible to make us wise and to protect us.
  2. If I love the Bible and concentrate on what it teaches, it will help me become wise. Knowing the Bible will allow me to understand life even more than people who are older than me who do not study the Bible. The truth of the Bible will protect me from evil and from making dumb mistakes.

Compare the answers that you got from reading one verse to the ones that you got from reading the passage. How are they different?

Does it help to look at the verses surrounding an individual verse that you may be studying? How?

Now, let’s move backwards. On your own, practice the God Follower method on one of the other individual verses (not verse 97) within the same passage:

  1. What does this passage tell me about God?
  2. What does this passage tell me about how to follow God?

How are your answers different from the answers that you gave over the passage as a whole?

Does it help to stop and take a closer look at the individual verses within a longer passage you may be studying? How?

Pray:

  • Thank God for the Bible and the edge that it gives you over your enemies.
  • Ask God to teach you how to use His word to fight temptation.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:

Read Psalm 119:113-120. Using the God Follower method, study the passage as a whole first, and then study an individual verse within the passage.

The Weekend

Suggested Reading: 1 Kings 2:1-4, 3:3-15.

This is just part of the story of King Solomon. Use the God Follower method to study these passages of scripture and see how the truths that you have learned in Bible study this week play out in the life of Solomon. How essential is God’s Word in a life that really counts? Do you treat it that way?

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