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Our Quiet Times with the Lord with Special Guest Abby Norris

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Episode Synopsis

Jani and her guest, Abby Norris, talk about how to schedule your discipleship year around three Christian priorities. They also teach on developing daily, personal times with the Lord.

Audio Transcript

Jani: Hello, everyone. Welcome to He Restores My Soul. We’re so glad you’re tuning in to this series on discipleship. We hope you’re finding it helpful. Feel free to contact us at our website, if you’d like with any questions or encouragement for us. The address there is herestoresmysoul.org. We’d love to hear from you. My name is Jani Ortlund. And I have a friend with me again today. Thank you for coming back this week, Abby Norris.

Abby: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s a privilege.

Jani: Abby has been in one of my discipleship groups in past years, and she is a discipler herself. And I asked her if she would just sit in on this next lesson, and hopefully chime in when she can and wants to and we’re just going to walk through this lesson together, and help you all. So let’s begin our next lesson together.

Today’s Focus: Our Personal Bible Study Times

Jani: We’re going to be talking about our personal Bible study times. But before we do that, I want to begin our discipleship time together with some teaching on worship, and then practicing what we teach. I believe that I can define my whole purpose in life under these three priorities. And you’ll hear me mentioning them a lot in this series. Abby, do you teach on these three priorities?

The Three Priorities Of The Year

Abby: Yes, we do. We structure our year around these three priorities.

Jani: Which are, number one, Christ, number two, the body of Christ, and number three, the work of Christ in the world. Or another way to state these would be Jesus, community, and mission. These three priorities help me set goals for my life, and they help guide me in making decisions about almost everything from how I will spend my time to how I’ll spend my money. During our time and discipleship together this year, we’re going to work through each of these priorities just as Abby said she does in her group. We kind of divide our year up into thirds. Do you, Abby?

Abby: Yep, we do too.

Worship God Through Singing And Reading

Jani: Well, in our first few weeks, which will bring us almost up to Christmas, we will be concentrating on priority one, Jesus Christ. During our worship time, we’ll be thinking and singing and reading about him. Abby, I wonder if you would read for us Psalm 29:1-2.

“Ascribe to the Lord, oh heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name, worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Psalm 29:1-2

Jani: Now we’re talking about our worship times together. And you heard that word “ascribe” several times in those two verses that means to give credit to, to describe an attribute or a quality that belongs to someone. We want to be women who ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. I think sometimes this is hard to do, because our hearts are dulled toward his glory. So we can help each other in discipleship.

Jani: This can feel something like teaching your two year old to say thank you. You’ve been practicing that a lot lately.

Abby: Yes, we have.

Jani: And sometimes it is rote. But then eventually, he or she begins developing an attitude of gratitude and humility. And it’s wonderful to see your child say, “Oh, thank you, mommy” without being prompted. Well, learning to say thank you to the Lord in praise and wonder, is part of priority one. Let me show you this from some scripture passages. Abby, I’m going to ask you, would you read 1 Chronicles 16. Let’s read verses 8 through 10. And then would you flip over and read verses 25 through 29?

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wondrous works. Glory in His holy name. Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised and he is to be held in awe above all gods, for all the gods of the peoples are idols but the Lord made the heavens, splendor and majesty are before him. Strength and joy are in his place. Ascribe to the Lord, oh clans of the peoples ascribe the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

1 Chronicles 16:8-10, 25-29

Jani: Thank you, Abby. We hear these verses, and we want to obey them, don’t we?

Abby: Yes, we do.

Jani: We want to worship. We want to ascribe to Him the glory due His name, but it’s hard. And I would explain the difficulty of it in this way. Right now, the Bible teaches us that there is a veil, a covering, an evil, invisible darkness, that we can’t see with our human eyes. But it covers the whole earth. We can read about it in Isaiah 25:7, where Isaiah says,

“And he will swallow up on this mountain, the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.”

Isaiah 25:7

Jani: Do you hear that? That covering or veil that’s spread over us now. Or in the New Testament, Ephesians 6:12 says this,

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:12

Jani: You see, I believe that we really live in two realities, the visible and the invisible. We see this throughout Scripture. It’s mentioned in Colossians 1:16. But we can only see the visible with our human eyes. And that’s why I think sometimes it’s hard to ascribe to the Lord, the glory due is name. We live under this veil that we don’t even know is there. And it’s hard to see through or to see who God really is.

Jani: But we want to be women who give thanks who sing who make known His glory, who tell of his wonderful works just as we’re encouraged to in 1 Chronicles. We want to rejoice over what we can see with our human eyes. In other words, ascribe to Him the glory due his name, even while we’re living on this veiled earth. And then someday, oh that glorious day, when he takes us to live with Him forever in his glorious kingdom, the veil will be removed and we will be able to see him for who he truly is.

Who Is Jesus?

Jani: Well, who is this Jesus, whom we say is our first priority? Above and before everything and everyone else. What does the Bible say about him? Now, this is what I would encourage you leaders to do. Have each of your members take out a piece of paper and write these references at the top of the paper. So right now, go ahead. Take out those pieces of paper and write down these references

Jani: Ephesians 1:3-14. And then these verses in Hebrews. Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10. That’s Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10. And Hebrews 12:1-2. Hebrews 12:1-2. Let me repeat those references. You’ve written them down on the top of piece of paper. Ephesians 1:3-14, and Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10, and then finally, Hebrews 12:1-2.

Now I want you to turn off the podcast and read these verses quietly, on your own, and write down, as you do, Christ’s qualities or characteristics. What about Christ here in these verses makes you want to give thanks or sing or glory in or make known or rejoice in him, write it down. After you write it down, take a few minutes and let all the women in your group share what you’ve written down about Jesus and just talk about how glorious he is, how wonderful he is, ascribe to Him the glory due his name. Turn off the podcast now and do that.

Singing In Group

Jani: Now, Abby, I don’t know, in your group, do you ever sing?

Abby: You know, we do. Not every week. And I’ll be honest with you, it’s not my favorite part of discipleship group. I’m not a very good singer. I think that’s why, but a lot of times I’ve taught my kids the songs and so I invite my kids to come and sing with us. And that kind of helps with some of the awkwardness, maybe of singing together without music.

Jani: That’s wonderful. I don’t have much of a voice either and so I definitely will not ask the two of us to sing the song on the podcast. They might turn it off and never listen again. But the song we use in our discipleship groups, do you use the song from,

Abby: 1 Corinthians?

Jani: Yes.

Abby: Yes, we do.

Jani: 1 Corinthians 1:30. It’s an old song you can find online. It’s called “Jesus Christ Is Made To Me”. And it’s based on this verse. It’s a great song for priority one. Maybe though you as a discipleship leader, or someone in your group might know another song you can sing about Jesus being your first priority. What we want to do though, is obey scripture when it says singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God, that’s in Colossians, we want to do that. We want to obey that. We want to sing together no matter what we sound like, it’s beautiful to the Lord. So I would encourage you as a discipleship group, to sing together, find something that you can sing to Jesus.

Time To Hear a Life Story

Jani: Now next, I want you to have one of your women share her life story. So leader, I’m asking you now to turn off the podcast again and take 15 or 20 minutes and have one of the women in your group share her life story.

Jani: Great, welcome back. I hope that was helpful for you and that you were able to get to know one of the members in your group a little bit better. Now we’re going to move to our teaching time. And, Abby, I know you’ve taught on this before. And if ever you want to pipe in, please feel free. I know you don’t want to interrupt me. But we want to teach on having a time of personal devotion with the Lord. Bible reading and prayer.

Teaching Time: Reading Our Bibles

Jani: Today, we’re mostly going to talk about reading our Bibles. That time that you take where you shut out everything else. You don’t have your phone near you. Hopefully your children are either sleeping or occupied with something. Your husband, if you’re married knows that, or your roommate if you’re living with someone, knows that you’re spending time with Jesus, you might want to take some time to share in your group where everyone is in this if people have had success or are struggling with this, challenges, you can take a few minutes right now if you want. Maybe you could share some of your successes and failures or what works for you or where you’ve hit roadblocks. So feel free, if you want to again, pause the podcast and do that.

Jani: I want to encourage you that meeting regularly with Jesus is necessary if you want to enjoy spiritual health. Just as physical food feeds our body, the Bible feeds our soul. We need time every day in the Word or our souls become malnourished. Now I know from personal experience that it’s hard to develop this pattern, but we want to help each other this year.

The Importance Of Regularly Spending Time With God

Jani: You are your habits. So let’s develop the gloriously blessed habit of spending time with God each and every day. Every human being has the same 24 hours for each day. I want to encourage us all here and Abby maybe I can ask you as well to share about this but when I first started meeting daily with the Lord, I kept waiting for it to get easier. When I was a student I thought it’d be easier when I had a regular job with regular hours and less study time. And then when I had my first job teaching school, I thought it would become easier once I was able to stay at home and develop my own schedule. And then I found I was home with my babies and I just knew it would be easier when they started sleeping through the night. And as they grew, I dreamt of the years when I would be free from all the responsibilities of raising these kids. But now I realize it even though it has not necessarily gotten easier, it really has gotten better. Abby, can you speak to that at all?

Abby: Yeah, I think it’s truly a discipline that you have to choose to make a priority. Because everybody has stages of life that seem hard or overwhelming or that you would wish might be different. But I love that you said we all have the same 24 hours each day. Our day might be filled and occupied with different things but I think in spending time with Jesus, we have to make it a discipline. We can’t wait for it to be easy and we can’t wait for time to appear because our days get filled. We don’t have a lot of extra time sitting around waiting for us to fill it. We find things to fill it with.

How Abby Fits Her Personal Quiet Times In

Jani: Yes. When do you have your devotions with the Lord, your personal quiet times?

Abby: Yeah, I found that I have to get up before my kids. I don’t know exactly what my day will look like, I have four young kids at home and I homeschool and so I get up at 5:30 or 6 before they get up at 7 and spend time with the Lord in a quiet house for a few hours at least before they get up.

Jani: Yes. Do you have to set your alarm for that?

Abby: I do. Yeah, set an alarm. I usually help myself get out of bed by having something good to drink or a special breakfast that I won’t have to share with my kids when they get up. I can eat it by myself and have my spot. I go to the couch and I sit quietly and it helps me to have a spot and kind of a routine to do that.

Jani: Yes, you’ve developed that habit. You’re taking in physical food and spiritual food.

Abby: Exactly.

Jani: Beautiful, beautiful picture. Yeah, I think what our listeners are hearing from both of us, Abby, is there really is no secret.

Abby: Yeah.

Jani: There is no magic powder that we can share with you.

Abby: That would be nice.

Jani: Send in $5 to the ministry and we’ll send you magic powder that will help you develop this habit. There’s a story of a seminary president who was known to get up really early each morning to meet with God and one of his students was encouraged by the other students, “Hey, will you go ask him if he’d be willing to share his secret to getting up so early each morning?” Imagine the student’s surprise when the president reportedly said, “Secret? Oh, I’d be glad to share it with you. Here’s my secret. I set my alarm. And then I get up.” So I think that’s what we’re trying to encourage our listeners. Don’t wait for it to get easier. Set your alarm.

Abby: Yep.

Jani: We need to build for tomorrow today, this morning. Then the wisdom and help and guidance will be there when I need it. I need to plan for this time. I need to be strong and courageous enough to fight for it. I want to encourage you as Abby did, don’t develop your time with Christ around your schedule. Don’t look at your schedule and say “Oh, maybe I can fit my quiet time in these 15 minutes here between lunch and that doctor’s appointment.” But rather develop your schedule around your time with Christ.

Jesus Gave Us The Example

Jani: Jesus showed us the way, we see this in Scripture. We see it in Mark 1 in your discipleship groups, right now turn to Mark 1. And look with me at verses 21 through 34. This records a very busy day in Jesus’s life. In this passage, we’re not going to take time to read it all. If you want to as a group feel free. Dear leader just pause the podcast and read it. I’m just going to carry on here. We see in this passage that Jesus had taught in the synagogue, he rebuked an evil spirit, he entered Simon and Andrew’s house, he healed Simon’s mother-in-law and then it says “all who were sick or oppressed by demons”, oh my goodness, and then at sundown, it says, “the whole city came and gathered together at the door”. What a full day. That was a huge day.

Jani: And then, what comes next? Well, we read about it in Mark 1:35-37. It says this,

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place. And there, he prayed.”

Mark 1:35-37

Jani: Wow, Jesus went out early the next morning to meet with his father. We can see a similar example, if you want to in Luke 5:15-16. We won’t take time to turn there right now. But if Jesus went out to withdraw for time to spend with his father, how much more do we need to?

What To Do With Personal Times When You Don’t Know What To Do

Jani: Perhaps some of you aren’t sure what to do for your times with the Lord. So we’re going to take a few minutes right now and just share something that has helped us. Maybe you’ve tried meeting with the Lord in the past and just been frustrated, and maybe even bored, and you don’t know what to do? You don’t know how to do it. So let’s look at Saul, that really we know him as Paul, but he was Saul back then, at his first quiet time with the Lord, which wasn’t really a quiet time. It’s his first personal meeting, his first intimate meeting with Jesus Christ. And we’ll find two questions. This is in Acts 22. Turn there as a group, leaders have your discipleship group turn to Acts 22. And we can read about this in verses 8 through 10. Saul is on the road to Damascus here. And I want you to look at the two questions that Saul asked the Lord. The first one is in verse 8. Will you read that for us, Abby?

“And I answered, who are you, Lord? And he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”

Acts 22:8

Jani: The first question Saul asked was, who are you, Lord? And then look at the second question, Abby, read verse 10 for us.

“And I said to him, “What shall I do, Lord?” And the Lord said to me, “Rise and go into Damascus and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.””

Acts 22:10

Jani: I love these two questions. Who are you, Lord? And what should I do, Lord? I think those are great questions for us to ask when we’re meeting with the Lord. So what I often do if I find my mind wandering, I don’t know how to study that morning or read if I’m not going into deep study. I want something from my Bible reading. I’ll put those two questions at the top of a piece of paper, and the reference that I’m reading, who are you, Lord? And what would you have me to do?

Jani: So I think it would be good in your discipleship group to practice this. Now, you will find on our website, if you want a page to copy off for this, or you can do it right now either pause and go copy it off, or just take out a piece of paper. And at the top, look at Psalm 16:7-11. And then write the two questions. Who are you, Lord? And what shall I do? Now, leader, turn off the podcast again pause it. We’re pausing a lot today. But I think that’s how it will work best as you lead your group and go through those verses and answer those two questions. Don’t take a lot of time but just give everybody a chance to kind of see what this looks like.

Next Week’s Assignment

Jani: All right, I hope you had a chance to see how you can do that. So let’s give our assignment for this next week. This is what I want you to do. I want you to have three quiet times with the Lord and I want you to write out a date and the passage that you’re reading and then those two questions and answer either one or the other or both. So that’s your first, three quiet times written out that way. Secondly, leader make sure you assign one or two women to give their life story next week. And then finally, think about a book you would like to read together on priority one, a book that centers on God. In our group, we read The Practice Of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. It’s a short book and we’ll have a link in the podcast on our web page. Or maybe you could choose another book. A longer book that I love but sometimes it’s a little bit challenging in its length for a discipleship group is Knowing God by J. I. Packer. Abby, do you read a book this first quarter?

Abby: We do. We read The Practice Of The Presence of God as well. And I highly recommend it.

Jani: Great. So those are your three assignments. Abby, do you want to go over them for us again?

Abby: Sure. So three quiet times. Write down the date and the passage that you read and then answer the two questions we talked about. Who are you, Lord? And what shall I do? Either answer one question or maybe both. Maybe you’ll find both in the passage that you read. And then leader assign one or two women to share their life story next week. And then lastly, choose a book to read for priority one.

Jani: Great. So once you’ve chosen that book, then each member should buy one and bring it next week.

Jani: Well, that’s it for our teaching this week. What we want to encourage you to do is close your time together with sharing and prayer and leader you’re going to need to lead your women in that. Oh, Abby, thank you for joining me.

Abby: Yes, thank you.

Jani: We hope that this has been helpful for you as you’re in your discipleship groups, and we are praying that the Lord will restore your souls as you meet together in intimacy and accountability around the throne of grace. God bless.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. This podcast is generously funded through Renewal Ministries. If you would like to discover more about Jani and Ray’s ministry or make a donation, visit their website at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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