G2: 1st Steps
Healthy Habit 1: Reading the Bible (Devotional)
Reading the bible daily is sometimes called a Devotional Time or a Quiet Time. It is time devoted to being alone with God and growing in your devotion to him.
It’s about building a relationship with God through spending time with Him reading the Bible and talking to Him.
Just like any relationship the quality and depth of that relationship is dictated by how much time is committed to that relationship.
You will grow closer to God and know Him better by spending time with Him daily and consistently!
As a new Christian it’s important to know what Christians believe!
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” ~ 2 Timothy 3.16-17
The Bible is the inspired word of God. It is true and it is able to teach us what we need to know to honor God and become more like Jesus. It is sufficient to prepare us for the work to which Jesus has called every believer.
The Bible tells us who God is and how he wants us to relate to Him and to others. It also tells us how to honor Him with our thoughts, words, and deeds.
The older you are the more likely you are to have developed some habits that do not honor God and probably believe some things that are not true – about God, about life, about how you should lead your life and be happy.
The Bible tells us what God wants us to know about Him. It tells us about His love for us. It tells about how broken we are and our inability to perfectly please God. It tells us about His merciful plan to rescue us from our sin, from Satan, and from death.
The Bible also tells us how to live our lives so that we honor Him in all that we do and how to move forward even after we mess up.
So, you can see just how important it is to spend time every day reading the Bible so that you can know the heart of God and His purpose and plan for you!
I know what you’re thinking: “When do I have the time for this?!?”
Well, the truth is, you only have time for what’s truly important in your life. And as a new Christ-follower you need to make it a priority to carve out the time to spend in God’s word.
Imagine if you decided you wanted to be valedictorian, but then decided, “I just don’t have the time to study.” Or, you decide to make varsity or 1st string on the volleyball team, but decided, “I don’t have the time to commit to extra practicing on my own time or extra workouts.” I don’t imagine you’ll be doing much to improve your academic or athletic goals.
If your desire is to really know God and be obedient to Him, then you MUST carve out the time to read the Bible.
The act of carving something means you are cutting something OUT. That means you may need to cut out some video game time, or some YouTube time, or social media time, or workout time, or friend time.
You can’t ADD time to your day, so you’ll need to cut back on something of less value in order to grow in your new faith.
Why can’t I just listen to my pastor or student pastor preach or teach? Isn’t that enough to learn what I need to know?
Simply put, no, it’s not. For several reasons.
First, if your only source for spiritual truth comes from another person that means you are counting on someone other than Jesus to give you truth. And, it is always possible that person may have it wrong.
Now, I’m not saying, “Don’t trust your pastor/student pastor.” But you should always go to God’s word to discern the truthfulness of what is taught to you. I always tell my students, check out the Bible and verify what I’m saying.
The Apostle Paul was impressed with the Jews from the city of Berea because after he taught them the Good News of Jesus, they went to the Scriptures to check out if what Paul was saying was true (Acts 17.11). You see, they were in the habit of reading the Bible for themselves and when they were told something new, they checked it against Scripture to know whether or not it was true!
If you’re not in the habit of reading Scripture on your own you’ll never be able to discern if what ANYONE is telling you is true (pastor, friend, social media influencer, entertainer, etc.).
The second reason listening to your pastor’s sermon isn’t enough is because there is so much God wants to teach you! Your pastor only gets to share 30 minutes of truth (if he’s lucky) per week! That’s just 26 hours for the entire year (if you never miss a Sunday)!
God desires to share so much of Himself with you through His word. By spending time on your own, you greatly multiple the amount of time you get to experience God and understand His purpose and plan for His Church and for you!
Finding a good place to spend time alone with God is very important. It needs to be a place that has minimal distractions and one that will help you connect with God. Here are some suggestions:
Your back porch may be a good spot. But if your family pet is out there you might end up playing more than reading and praying!
If you’ve got a big walk-in closet, that might be a great place to create a mini oasis where you can connect with the Lord!
Your desk in your bedroom might be good, but it might have lots of distractions.
Under a shade tree at a park could be good.
Wherever you choose you need to find a place that is comfortable, but not TOO comfortable. (Don’t do it in your bed! It’s too easy to roll back over and fall asleep.)
Right now decide when you will spend time with God.
Will it be in the mornings after you get up and before you get going for the day?
Maybe you can carve out some time after you get home from school before you start your homework and chores.
Maybe you can carve out some time before you go to bed. (Word of caution: this one is hard because it’s easy to get so busy with homework and get tired and then before you know it you end up consistently skipping your time with God.)
Spending time with God is a relational activity. It’s intended to help you connect with God through reading His word to us – the Bible.
So, the core is going to be actually READING portions of the Bible. It might be a few verses or an entire chapter. It’s up to you!
Ok, you’ve got the time set aside, now what are you going to read? There are many options but here are some suggestions:
* Start with the Gospel of John. Read a chapter a day.
* Use the YouVersion Bible app. It has thousands of Bible devotionals/reading plans. Find one that looks like it might be relevant to you. You can even invite a friend to use the app and use the same devotional/reading plan.
* Use the daily reading plan on our student website. It is designed to help you read a broad cross section of the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments over the course of the year.
Whatever you choose, be consistent and do it!
Well, no. Remember it’s a relational thing, not a school reading assignment. There are a couple of things you can do to make your Bible reading time meaningful and exciting!
Pray. Before and after you read your Bible spend some with the Lord in prayer. Start by asking Him to help you understand what you are about to read and how to apply the spiritual truths that He revealed to you. Think about how to apply this to your own life and your own circumstances.
Reflect: After you have read take some time to reflect on what you’ve read. Ask God what: 1) What are you trying to teach me about you or about myself? 2) Is there something you are trying to tell me to stop/start doing? 3) Is there something I need to begin doing today?
Pray (again). After you read and reflect, pray again and ask Him for the strength to live out the truths the Holy Spirit has impressed upon you.
While you’re praying go ahead and pray for the needs of others as well as needs you may have. He wants to hear from you!
Part of your prayer may be confessing sin to Him. That means acknowledging something you thought, said, or did was contrary to God’s nature and character. Repent of that sin and tell God you want to turn from that sin to pursue Him.
And, while you pray . . . thank Him and worship Him! Tell Him you are grateful for all that He has done for you and what He is doing IN you to help you become more like Jesus! Proclaim His goodness, His majesty, His loveliness, His mercy, His holiness. Acknowledge His greatness (that’s what worship is!).
Listen to some worship music during your devotional time.
Music is a powerful medium. It can make a meaningful Bible reading even more powerful and moving. Whether you simply listen or sing along, music can help move your spirit to connect with God.
If you don’t know any good worship music, use one of our playlists on the ORBC student website.
Creating a new healthy habit is hard. You’re likely going to face some obstacles . . . other people not understanding your new commitment to reading the Bible, distractions, even Satan himself will try and keep you from spending time with the Lord.
Here are some tips to help you be faithful and consistent in your new habit:
* Tell someone about your commitment and ask them to help you stay committed.
Who do you tell? It’s always good to get your parents involved. If they know you are making a commitment to spending a block of time alone with God, they can: 1) protect that time by making sure they, and your siblings, leave you alone during that time; 2) encourage you when you are tempted to forget your daily time!
* Put a sign on your door that says “Time with God” to remind your family that the next bit of time is being spent in prayer and Bible study.
* You could also tell a friend and ask them to inquire about your time with God. Give them permission to ask what God taught you that day. Maybe y’all could do the same reading plan and hold each other accountable!
* Minimize the distractions by setting your phone on silent or maybe putting it in another room so you wont be tempted to begin scrolling through.
* If you are going to do it in the mornings, make sure you don’t sabotage your plans by going to bed late!
Now that you’ve got a plan . . . commit to it and DO it!