Monday, January 2, 2012

My New Year's Resolution: Spend More Time with God - Part 1

Excerpts from Psalm 119:

How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
~vs. 9-11
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
~vs. 15-16
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
~v. 18
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
~v. 28
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.  I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.
~vs. 92-93
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
~v. 105
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
~v. 133
May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.  
~v. 172

God's Words to Read:  Psalm 119

If you didn't already know it, today's Bible passage to read happens to be the longest chapter in the Bible, with a whopping 176 verses.  Ok, I know what you're probably thinking to yourself right now:  "For goodness sake, why does she want me to read that much for today's devotion when it's a Monday and I have a ton of things to do today?!"  But I promise you it will be well worth your time, for I consider this chapter to be a passionate (albeit very long) love poem for God's Word and it's full of wonderful verses to inspire and motivate you to spend more time in the Bible.  So, perhaps sit down in your favorite comfy chair, grab a cup of coffee (or water, if you're trying to give up caffeine as one of your New Year's resolutions!) and take a few extra minutes today to enjoy this beautiful passage of Scripture!  Just as a side note:  Please keep in mind as you read this chapter (if you're reading the NIV like I am, that is) that the word translated "law" does not just mean "rules", but the Hebrew meaning for this word also expresses the totality of God's written instructions, His Word.  So as I read in the Bible about God's "law", "precepts", "statutes", "decrees" and "commands", etc., I take these words to be synonymous with the entirety of His Word, the Bible.

There.  That wasn't so bad, was it?  What verse or verses really stuck out to you as something you feel God is trying to teach you?  The verses listed at the beginning of this devotion are the ones that made the biggest impression on me today of how I am to love God's Word and why it is so beneficial to spend time reading it, meditating on it (which means really reflecting on and pondering over), and especially "hiding it in my heart" by memorizing it.

Well, as we begin a new year, it's a good time to start cultivating (or at least make an honest attempt at!) new, good habits.  Like many people, my most typical new year attempted-habit is making more of a concerted effort to exercise regularly.  I always aim for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week on my treadmill, plus some strength training and toning exercises mixed in.  However, depending on the busyness of each week, I might let a workout (or two-ugh) fall to the wayside.  I hate it when I do this to myself, because I know it's not the best for me to not get enough exercise.  I am healthier in every way when I meet my exercise goals for the week - not only physically, but also emotionally.  My stress-level is significantly reduced and I simply feel more confident.  But like I said, if I get "too busy" and let other activities (and yes, that may even include blog writing!) take priority over my exercise regimen, it has a detrimental affect on my overall health.

I try to look at consistent Bible study in the same way I view the importance of regular exercise.  Just as we all need to exercise on a regular basis to maintain optimal physical and emotional health, we all need to take care of our spiritual health, too.  In order to be healthy spiritually, maintaining a close relationship with the Lord, I really need to be in His Word daily, thinking about how to apply what I read to my life and praying for Him to show me how and help me to do this.  But whenever I allow the busyness of daily life or even fun distractions (like reading my latest novel or spending time on facebook and Pinterest!) to take precedence over my Bible study time and prayer, it seems to have a negative impact on every area of my life.  I am not exaggerating about this.  When I choose - and yes, it's a choice I purposefully make - to put other things before spending time with God through prayer and reading His Word, I find I don't end up having as good a day as I could have had.  What do I mean by this?  Well, I might be more on the "grumpy-side" emotionally as I go throughout my day.  I'm probably not as patient, loving or wise as I should be in dealing with the people I have contact with.  Any bad things that happen seem to upset, overwhelm or worry me more than they would have if I had centered my focus for the day on Christ and truly desiring to follow Him and please Him in all I do and say.

But on my "better days" when I put God first by talking to Him in prayer throughout the day and mulling over a Bible verse or passage (even if it means doing this while trying to force myself out of bed in the morning, throwing in a load of laundry or getting dressed for the day!), things just seem to go much more smoothly.  I feel much more at peace and happier and that I can handle whatever the day brings, with Christ at the center of my thoughts.

In the next few posts, I will share advice, tips, books and website links that I have found helpful in staying spiritually healthy.  I think that just reading today's enormous Bible passage and then this blog post is enough for today!!!  I can't wait to share with my readers what has helped me grow closer to the Lord and maintain the "good habit" of consistent Bible study and prayer.  Until then, Happy New Year 2012!!

A few more Bible verses about studying God's Word (just in case you're not tired of reading yet, haha):
~Jeremiah 29:13

~Joshua 1:8

~2 Timothy 3:16-17

~James 1:22-25

In Christ,


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