So tomorrow we start digging for treasure. I think it’s time to get practical!
Future posts will be much shorter, but it may be worthwhile today to sit down for a short time and get ourselves organised for the Challenge of the ’20/20 Vision’. You can also refer to these tips as the Challenge progresses.
Tip 1: Choose a Time
Plan carefully what time of the day you will use for your Quiet Time and try to be consistent. If we chop and change our appointments with God, chances are some days they just won’t happen. Think of this as a special arrangement you’ve made with a close friend. You wouldn’t stand your best friend up, would you?
- Morning? Many people find this to be the best time. Our houses are quiet and free from distractions. It’s also a lovely pattern to get used to talking with God before you talk with anybody else in the day. It gets our day off to the right start before other things rush in and squeeze that time out. But let’s get real – it’s tough setting your alarm earlier than usual and we’ll have to resist the urge to press the Snooze button. Surely, though, it’s a great opportunity for us to show God He is ‘Number One’ in our lives and we’re willing to set aside our own comfort, making a small sacrifice to spend time with Him.
Jesus set us the example of spending time with our Father in the morning:
Mark 1 v 35
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”.
And if you think you’re too tired for this because your previous day was so exhausting, then just have a read at the earlier verses in Mark 1 to make a note of just how busy the day before had been for Jesus!
- After School? Perhaps for some the morning just isn’t realistic. I’m sure going back to our little friends The Seven Dwarfs, Sleepy would work better in the mine in the afternoon than first thing in the day! He just wasn’t wired to be a morning person and some of us aren’t. If you think you’ll be more alert and less rushed in the afternoon then maybe the best time is as soon as you get home from school. Again, this will require making a sacrifice, as we switch off the TV and set aside our mobiles for a while. But this shows the Lord that we want to give Him all of our attention. Remember, though, if you set up a routine that is based around your school day, you need to plan differently for the weekend.
- Last thing at night? This is perhaps the most common time for us to spend with God. But let’s be honest…. are we really at our best? Perhaps for some of you ‘night owls’ you are genuinely more focused and energetic at night when all goes quiet and all other tasks in your day are done; if so, great! It’s good for us all to talk to God at bedtime as we look back over the day that we’ve had, but I know, for me, this isn’t the best time for any proper studying to be done. Sometimes I’ve been guilty of cutting things short as my eyes start to close.
Remember we’re digging for gems here, so we’ve got to really think through when we’ll be at your best for the task of mining! Make it work best for YOU
Tip 2: Time it!
A very practical way to ensure that we spend time with God every day is to use a timer. I use the one on my phone (although out of sight so I’m not distracted by texts!). Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t want our time with God to become like a ritual or a chore as we count down the seconds (I mean we wouldn’t appreciate it if our friends turned over an egg timer every time we spoke to them and interrupted us when it had finished), but this month is all about setting healthy routines and patterns in our spiritual lives and as we start off on our journey we need these little supports. It’s actually a lovely thing some days when the timer signals the end of the time I’d planned to spend, but there’s been so many gems revealed in the verses that I need to stay on a while longer to mine them out. (I wonder how my boss would take this as an excuse for being late for work…
Tip 3: Use the right tools
Snow White’s little friends didn’t head off to the mine with her feather duster and a rolling pin! They took the tools that would help them get to the gems – pick axes and shovels. Some of the tools we can use to help us dig into the Bible are:
- A version of the Bible we find easy to understand and a copy that we can highlight and underline.
- Sometimes it’s good to look up verses in different versions of the Bible. A Bible app is really useful for this. With one click you can read a verse in any different translation, which can often help us to understand difficult things. If you don’t have it already, one I recommend is YouVersion.
- A dictionary – maybe this isn’t one you’ve ever thought of, but I’ll be encouraging you to look up some key words at times to get their meaning. It can be useful even to look up words that we are familiar with just to get a fuller understanding of them. Again, a dictionary app can be so handy to click on.
- A notebook – more on this later!
- Postcards – when a verse really speaks to you (by the way, that means you’ve found a gem!), why not write it out on a postcard size piece of paper or sticky note and carry it around with you that day? You could write it out several times and place these in different locations – bedroom mirror, inside your school locker, in your blazer pocket. This helps us to do what the Bible refers to as “meditating on God’s Word night and day”
- Books – there are so many brilliant books that can help us understand God’s Word more fully. I love the series of “Be” books written by Warren Wiersbe.
For the study we are going to do on the Fruits of the Spirit I’ve found Elizabeth George’s book “A Young Woman’s Walk With God” to be really helpful.
However, the Bible itself must always be our main focus. Try not to rely too heavily on other people’s ideas and thoughts, but search to find what God is saying to YOU
Tip 4: Keep a Journal
So ok, you’ve armed yourself with Paperchase’s finest specimen in the line of notebooks. It’s almost too pretty to write in, and more to the point, what are you actually supposed to write?
Well it’s your journal, so you decide and experiment with what works best for you. Some suggestions are
- Write out a key verse that you want to think about and focus on
- Write out any definitions of words you’ve looked up
- Make a list of any actions you think God is telling you need to be taken
- Write down questions you have or things you don’t understand. This will remind you to pray about them and ask God to explain them.
Those are just some things for starters. You may find you want to draw things, stick things in, write out prayers or prayer lists. It’ll be great to share your ideas over the next 20 days and we can learn from each other.
Get ready to dig!