Tag Archives: Bible Reading

Renew & Revitalize: 10 Tips to Renew Your Heart for God and Revitalize Your Time with Him

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All of us come upon times when our time with the Lord is not as fresh as it could or should be. Below are tips I shared with my Sunday school class last week. They were a blessing to me to compile, and I hope they’re helpful to you. Perhaps you could pull just one or two of these to incorporate into your time with the Lord.

1.         Rise early to avoid distractions.

There is no better opportunity in my day to give my undivided attention to God’s Word than early in the morning before my day gets underway.

Early will I seek thee.—Psalm 63:1

If you want to add freshness to your time with the Lord, try spending time in His Word before the distractions of the day pile on.

2. Reflect on the greatness of God’s invitation to know Him.

I love the heart-level response of David to God’s invitation to know Him:

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.—Psalm 27:8

What an invitation is ours—that we can seek God’s face! Personally. Intimately. Daily. If you’re struggling to spend time with God, reflect for a few minutes on the gracious invitation you’ve been given.

3. Praise God—sing.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.—Psalm 11:4

I hope you have a hymnal. If not, make a list of songs about the Lord or to the Lord, and sing them to Him.

4. Ask God to make Himself real to you.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.—Jeremiah 29:13

If you feel you’re in a rut where you are reading God’s Word out of duty, ask God to make His Word come alive to you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a personal way.

5. Use a Bible reading schedule.

When the Israelites gathered manna in the wilderness, there was a structure to how they gathered.

And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.—Exodus 16:18

God’s Word is spiritual nourishment, and I believe we are wise to have a structure to how we consume it. Reading by a schedule allows me to systematically read all the Word of God—not just several favorite passages. It also adds a layer of accountability to my Bible reading that helps to keep me faithful through the “dry times.”

6. Journal your growth.

My devotional journals—going back to when I began as a young teenager—are a treasure to me because they record years of God’s faithfulness to reveal Himself to me through His Word.

We easily forget what God has done in our lives. We grow used to His workings. A journal helps us keep it fresh. And it gives us a tremendous reference point to reflect on when we grow stale.

7. Ask questions.

Ask questions about what you read in God’s Word. It will incite your curiosity and therefore heighten your discovery.

8. Apply truth.

Seeing what happens when we apply God’s truth gives us a hunger for more!

It’s all too easy to fool ourselves into a false sense of contentment in our Christian life because we hear God’s Word, but we never apply it.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.—James 1:22–25

9. Fast

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.—Matthew 5:6

I know of no sharper spiritual discipline than fasting to increase my hunger for God. When I sense my heart for God growing cold, setting aside a meal (or a few) to purposefully seek God’s face and ask Him to renew my hunger for Him often rekindles my heart. Fasting is like the poker’s sharp jab to a diminishing fire.

10. Stay right with God.

Sin hinders the work of God in our lives—even when we are going through all the right motions.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.—James 4:8-10  

Regularly ask God to search your heart, and be responsive to Him.

11. (Bonus) Share what you learn with someone else.

There’s nothing more encouraging than sharing something God taught you with someone else. Keep it fresh by sharing it!

Too Valuable to Waste

Four years ago tonight I received a startling phone call from my grandma.

“Pray for Amanda,” she began. “I don’t have all of the details, but she was in a skiing accident—hit a tree, I think—and is being rushed to the hospital.”

Amanda (pictured above, left, with her sister Allison) is my cousin—my mom’s sister’s daughter. Sixteen years old at the time, she was with her high school ensemble on their way to sing at a youth conference. En route, the group stopped for a planned skiing activity.

A few minutes after that first call, Grandma called again. Before she could even say it, I knew. Through a tight throat and tears she said what none of us ever wanted to hear, “Our Amanda is in Heaven.”

That was four years ago, and I still miss Amanda. Just this past Christmas, as our extended family gathered, I thought of Amanda and her bubbly enthusiasm that would have been overflowing into every activity, every conversation, every event that she engaged in. Continue reading

Crossing the Halfway Mark toward the Best Resolution I Ever Made

“I have just finished reading the Bible through, today, for the fortieth time in forty years.”—Hudson Taylor

I remember like it was yesterday when I read that quote (from Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, page 240). I could take you to the exact spot in our basement where I was sitting when those words tugged my heart.

Actually, they didn’t tug. They captured. They resolved.

I was thirteen or fourteen years old, and something inside of me said, “If Hudson Taylor could read the Bible through once a year for forty years, I can too. And in forty years, I want to be able to say the same.”

Yesterday, I reached the halfway mark—twenty times through. Continue reading

A Good Day for Me

Several years before I was born, an eighteen-year-old girl was visited in the hospital by an old friend from high school friend named Dody. In the time that had passed since they had seen each other, Dody had changed, and Joanne couldn’t help but notice.

“Dody, your face looks so…so pretty.”

“That’s because Jesus has changed my life. I trusted Him, and He has changed me.”

Dody’s countenance of joy was so compelling that as soon as Joanne was released from the hospital, she made a call to the Baptist pastor of the church where her grandmother had attended and asked for an appointment. Continue reading

Conversation Snippets

I’m not eavesdropping, but I can’t help overhearing snippets of the conversations walking past me. I’m on a layover and am sitting in a row of chairs along a long hallway between terminals in the airport. There’s a steady stream of people walking by, but they mostly come just a few at a time, so I can easily overhear their conversations.

Catching just single sentences or parts of phrases is either disturbing or humorous. Here, you can sit by me for a few moments—I typed some snippets verbatim as people walked by.

  • “I’m trying to figure out how to take the apartment.”
  • “I feel bad for you.”
  • “Oh, I’m sure she’ll be back.”
  • “Just recently, we…”
  • “And the banana was smashed a little bit because…”
  • “We’ll put it on when it’s time to.”

And the classic one, just before two girls stepped on the elevator nearby: Continue reading

Creative Christianity

Did you ever notice that the most commonly correct answer in Sunday school is “Pray and read your Bible”? I first picked up on this in second grade.

“How can we obey God?” the teacher would ask.

Hands would shoot up. But as soon as the first person answered, “Pray and read your Bible,” the hands lowered.

“What does Jesus want us to do?” the teacher would ask.

Again, hands all over the room.

And again, first person who answered got it correct—“Pray and read your Bible.”

This answer began to seem so routine to me that I remember trying to come up with a more creative one—usually something along the lines of “Be nice to your brothers and sisters” or “Go to church.”

A few years later, I began to think that even those answers were becoming annoyingly predictable. How could the answer to every question be the same? Was there nothing more to the Christian life than “pray and read your Bible?” Continue reading

The Story I Thought I Knew

Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the second to the last row of a little girls’ class, helping with childcare during Spiritual Leadership Conference. We had already played games and spent some time on the playground, and now we were listening to a lesson.

(As a side note, one of the great blessings to me of this conference was hearing the lesson taught from our newly published Children’s Curriculum. I had briefly previewed this curriculum, but it was a joy to hear it taught and see firsthand how well the story held the children’s attention and how well they related to the application.)

Minutes into the lesson, a fourth grade girl next to me became restless and distracted. As she started talking to the others around her, I motioned for her to listen to the teacher. But with the wise nod of a fourth grader, she assured me, “I already know this story.” Continue reading

Want a Clove?

We didn’t eat sugar in our house growing up. But we did eat cloves. Okay—we didn’t eat cloves; I did.

It all started when my mom gave them to us in church (instead of  breath mints) to help us stay awake. She recommended that we suck on them, which my sisters did; but I found they were much more effective when chewed.

Years later, in college, I found I was often struggling to stay awake during class and even at work. With a very full schedule, sleep was at a premium. I remembered the value of cloves, and I filled a small container to keep on my person. It really helped—even if some people did make fun of my odd habit. I always offered they could try one, but they usually declined. At least I could stay awake—when I really needed to!

But the ultimate in clove-eating came this week when I ate them…because I was hungry! I was waiting on someone for lunch and experiencing starvation-like pains in the meantime. (Well, maybe not starvation-like, but pretty severe!)

In desperation, I searched my desk drawers for something…anything…to eat, and that is when I saw my old container of cloves. And, yes, I ate them—not just one or two, but probably fifteen or twenty. (Incidentally, I found that cloves have a way of warming your stomach on the inside—quite helpful for short-term hunger control!) Continue reading

Reward Offered

“There is a reward for whoever finds Dad’s keys first.” These words, occasionally spoken by my mom when I was growing up, were like music to my ears! You might think that I would have looked just as diligently for the keys before the reward was offered—when I first heard they were missing. And, truthfully, I did look. But there was something about the promise of a reward that added zeal to my search.

In Hebrews 11:6, God promises a reward for those who diligently seek Him: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is believing that God is who He has declared Himself to be and that He rewards those who will seek to know Him personally.

But it goes a step further—faith is actually reaching for the reward. In other words, if we truly believe that God rewards those who seek Him, and if we count that reward worthy of the effort, it will affect our actions. We will make seeking Him a priority. Continue reading