The new year brings new opportunities for change. Over the years of personally following Christ and helping others do the same, I have consistently found one habit produces more change than any other. One habit that transforms marriages, helps parents, fuels evangelism, sparks prayer, and brings new life to a dry and weary soul. If I could encourage you to start any new habit in 2017, it would be the habit of reading and responding to God’s Word every single day.
Our lives are full of noise. So many voices compete for our daily attention. Where do we prioritize the voice of God? How do we listen first to what God wants us to do each day? Jesus commands us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” But how do we seek Jesus first? How do we make our relationship with the Lord our highest priority? The answer is simple and yet remarkably difficult to do: open your Bible and prayerfully read it every day.
Let’s get really practical: what’s required to start AND maintain this habit in 2017?
- A quiet place. Jesus took the time in Luke 5:16 to get away from the crowds and the disciples to be alone with God. He taught us in Matthew 6:6 to go into our room and close the door when we pray. Why? So that we could find a quiet place to be with the Lord. Remove distractions.
- A good time. Look at your calendar and find your best time of the day. This is actually harder than you think to do. Consider when you are most alert, have some free time, or can use existing time for connecting with God (lunch hour). Whatever time your choose, mark it on your calendar and stick to it.
- The right tools. Get a Bible translation that you can read and understand. Don’t consume your time reading devotionals (other people’s words about the Bible). Read the Bible itself. Make sure you have a journal, a good study Bible, and an accessible commentary if you get stuck. Come to the table ready to dig!
- A doable plan. Once you find a time and place and bring the right tools, the questions is then what to read. There are so many good Bible reading plans you can choose from. Find one that works for your schedule and your daily routine. Start small if you never done anything like this before.
- A soft heart. When you read the Bible, don’t approach God with an arrogant heart, looking for problems and reasons not to obey. Come with a soft heart that desires to submit to the Lord and follow His ways. Be ready to apply what God says to you each day. His Word is living and active and will change your forever.
My friend, 1 Timothy 4:7-8 teaches us to train ourselves for godliness. Why? Because training ourselves (having personal discipline) is essential to spiritual growth. Is it hard work? Yes – there is no doubt. But everything of value in life requires discipline. You want 2017 to be different? Start the new habit of spending time every single day in God’s Word.