A Quick Review 00:15
Jani: Hello, we’re so glad to have you with us again. As you remember, we’re going through a series in these episodes about going deeper with God and we’ve been talking about why we value the Bible, why should we hold it so dearly and treasure it and cherish it, and how do we come to value and treasure the Bible? Well, we suggested in our last episode, we have to read it. We have to know it. Heidi and I want to encourage you today. We’re not saying that this is easy. What we are saying is that it’s worth it and we want to encourage you to fight for that time in the Word.
“Do I even have time?” 1:01
Jani: You know, there are 168 hours in each one of our weeks. Let’s say we take away 56 hours for sleeping, which would be eight hours a night. I know some of you young moms are laughing at that, but let’s just pretend you were able to get eight hours of sleep a night. That still leaves 112 hours for living! So let’s figure on working hard each day, maybe 50 hours a week. That means we still have 62 hours. If on six days you set aside 30 minutes to be with the Lord in a special, intimate way, that would only be three hours in your whole week. You would still have 59 hours each week. That’s more than eight hours a day for everything else. Your chores, your reading, your shopping, your web browsing, your hobbies, your family time, and most importantly your eating, of course.
Jani: You know Jesus showed us the way. Mark chapter one tells of a very busy day in his life. Jesus had taught in the synagogue, he had rebuked an evil spirit, and then he went to Simon and Andrew’s house where he healed Simon’s mother-in-law from her illness. And then as the sun was setting, it says that they brought to Jesus all who were sick or oppressed by demons. Can you imagine that? Eventually, it says, the whole city was gathered at his door and he healed many. What happens next? Mark 1:35, “And rising very early while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed.”
Jani: Think of the busy day Jesus had teaching, healing. Don’t think of his healing with just a magic wand. We know from other stories in the gospels that healing took power from him. He felt it. Remember when the woman touched the hem of his garment? He felt it and and he did that all evening long. When he finally got to bed, he decided to rise early and go out and meet with his Father.
Jani: Now, there’s no secret formula for making sure you have consistent times with the Lord. I don’t know about you, Heidi. I think it might be helpful for our listeners, since you’re a young mom, for them to hear how you have worked this out. Has this ever been a struggle for you?
Heidi: Yes. I think one of the times it’s a strong struggle is when you’re starting because it’s not a habit in your life. It’s not something you’re used to. But I’ve found that over the years, month by month, year by year, it gets easier. And now still sometimes in my quiet time it’s hard, but it’s a whole lot easier than when I first started.
Four Tips For Reading Your Bible Daily 4:00
Heidi: But there were a few things, Jani, when I felt the Lord press upon my heart, “Heidi, come spend time with me every day” that I found really helpful that I wished somebody had shared with me. There’s three things.
1. Make it a Habit
Heidi: One is to make it a habit, find the same time every day if possible, that you can spend time reading the Bible and time in prayer with God. When do you do your quiet times, Jani?
Jani: The morning is best for me, at least at this point in my life– early morning.
Heidi: And have you always? Have you always spent time in the mornings? What did you do when your kids were little?
Jani: When my babies were infants and they were usually up at three and at six a.m., I tended to meet with the Lord during their nap time. But that didn’t last very long, maybe a couple years. And I just found that sometimes I would miss it.
Heidi: Yeah, I’m in a season like that. So I would say over the past maybe three or four years—or really six years, because Hannah is six, that we’ve had kids—nap time has been my best time to spend time in the Word because I find when I was nursing a baby all night, I would wake up tired and I wouldn’t be able to focus and it felt burdensome. But at naps I would put my kids down. I knew the house would be quiet for at least an hour to two hours. And if I spent my quiet time first, it can be easy to look at Facebook or Instagram. But I tried to say before I do anything else, let me pour myself a cup of coffee and spend time with the Lord.
Heidi: But now in this season of life, it’s harder because my kids ‘naps are going away and I felt that struggle because it’s not a habit. My schedule is changing and I feel like now I have that time in the mornings, so I would say one is make it a habit. Find a consistent time, every day, just like we brush our teeth at the same time every day and we noticed some days if we don’t brush our teeth, we would notice that if it’s a consistent part of our days, I find that I notice when it’s missing.
2. Use a Study Bible
Heidi: The second thing I would say is Mike, when we first got engaged, he gifted me with a study Bible and I had never had a study Bible before. I had never heard of a study Bible. I thought it was just people giving their comments about Scripture, but it’s really helps us understand Scripture better and what a difference that made in my life to have a study Bible when I would read a passage that is confusing to be able to learn, oh, this is what God meant by that, or this is what the original texts said. It felt like putting on a pair of glasses and all of a sudden being able to see the landscape so much easier. If you have the resources, I can’t recommend a study Bible enough. My favorite is the ESV study Bible.
3. Have a Plan
Heidi: And the last thing that really helped me, Jani, was having a plan. I remember in college sitting down to open my Bible and I didn’t know what to read and I would get so anxious that I would just randomly open it and think, “Is God speaking to me here? What is he saying here?” But when I started reading with a plan, when I read through the Bible in a year– the first time I ever did, it was in chronological order. It was so helpful to sit down every day and know exactly what I needed to read.
Heidi: So those are the three things that God has used to help me: make it a habit/find a consistent time, use a study Bible if possible, and have a plan.
What is a “plan”?
Jani: Oh, Heidi, I think those three things are wonderful! Well, a study Bible does help me, but I don’t always use a Study Bible. I have found a plan is really helpful to me. I like to read through the Bible once a year. I’ve been doing it since I was 30.
Heidi: So how many times have you read through the Bible just to encourage us?
Jani: Well I’m 69, so today—I don’t know when they’ll be listening to this podcast; I could be 85, who knows?—so today that makes it…39 times. I praise the Lord for that. Oh, thank you for Mom Ortlund who encouraged me to do that. And when I read through the Bible, there is a plan that does help me. I use something that’s called Daily Walk. Our listeners could find it if they googled Walk Through the Bible or Daily Walk.
Heidi: So if you were talking to a woman in your discipleship group who wanted to start to study the Bible and said, “Jani, I want to have a plan, where do I start?” What would you recommend to her?
Jani: Well, if you wanted to start tomorrow morning, I would recommend this until you get to January 1st of the coming year. I would recommend going to what we call the wisdom literature in the Old Testament, the book of Psalms, the book of Proverbs, and then turning to the New Testament and reading through the gospels. By then maybe it would be January and by then, you could have a plan. Some churches have reading plans through the year, or you could find one on the internet, or you could go to a dailywalk.com and ask them for their plans.
4. Accountability 9:08
Jani: But also one other thing that I find helpful along with those three hints that you gave us, Heidi, is to have accountability with someone. Maybe it’s an older lady in the church to whom you’d say, “I haven’t been reading through my Bible. I’ve been challenged to and I want to. Would you call me once a week and hold me accountable for this?” Or maybe there’s a friend that you’ve been getting to know and the two of you want to challenge each other. Maybe there’s a family member. Find someone who will ask you whether you’re doing this because it really helps to be accountable to someone.
“What’s your secret, Jani?” 9:47
Jani: Another thing that our listeners might find helpful is to know that it hasn’t always been easy for me. At different stages in my life, I’ve had to switch that time around in the day. I thought having babies, we had four little ones in rapid succession, would be the hardest time. I thought once they grew and started sleeping through the night, then it would be easier. Or, or once they went to kindergarten, it’d be easier. Once they graduated from high school or once they got married and went off on their own. But really, it wasn’t. I travel now quite a bit and I work pretty much full time so life can pile up and I sometimes feel like, “Oh, do I really have time to meet with the Lord today?” May I tell you, our sweet listeners, that it never really got easier. But it sure did get better and better and better! You see, there’s no secret formula for making sure that you have a consistent time with the Lord.
Jani: I heard of a seminary president who when asked by one of his students if he would share his secret for rising very early each morning to read his Bible said, “Of course I’ll share with you my secret and you can tell your friends as well. I set my alarm and then I get up!”
Jani: I think that’s what it takes, Heidi. We don’t want to develop our time with Christ around our schedule. We want to develop our schedule around our time with Christ. Let’s be women who put him first, who value the Word so dearly and tenderly that we want to spend time with him each day.
Two questions to ask while you read
Jani: Now, as I said, I’ve been reading through the Bible for several years and it helps me not to get picky because sometimes it’s easy for me to say, well I love the Book of Psalms and I love the New Testament, but gimme a break, Leviticus? It’s so bloody! Or Ezekiel? I just can’t understand it. But the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation is about Jesus. So I read three to five chapters a day asking myself, “What does this passage teach me about the God who provides redemption and the people who need it?”
Jani: Heidi and I like to think of Saul on the road to Damascus, when he had his first meeting with the Lord. We wouldn’t necessarily call it a quiet time because it was quite a burst from heaven. But we find that in Acts 22 verses 8 and 10, Saul asked the Lord Almighty—this is before he’s been renamed to Paul—Saul asked the Lord Almighty two questions. The first one is in Acts 22:8. It says, “Who are you Lord?” And then in verse 10 Saul asked the Lord, “What shall I do, Lord,?”
Jani: We find it helpful to put those two questions on the top of a piece of paper, one on one side, and then draw a line down the middle of your paper and the other on the other side. “Who are you Lord?” And then on the other side, “What shall I do Lord?” And as you read a passage of scripture, think through these questions. If your mind is wandering, ask the Lord to show himself to you in one of these two ways, either showing you about who he is, his character, his nature, his desires for you, his help for you. Or what he’s asking you to do, what your response should be to this passage. You might try it today with Psalm 23. Just open your Bible to Psalm 23, get out a piece of paper and write those two questions at the top. Write Psalm 23, so you have the reference, and then “Who are you Lord?” and “What shall I do, Lord?”
Heidi: I find these questions especially helpful, Jani, when my quiet times start to feel more like a burden. Sometimes that just happens. I’ve heard one of my sweet friends, Jen Cortez ,describe it like this: sometimes our quiet times feel like a feast and God is just pouring his word into us, and other times it more feels like a plain old granola morning. I’m reading in Kings and I’m having a hard time understanding the passage. I’ve found when my heart is struggling to feel that excitement about spending time in God’s Word or when I’m reading a difficult portion of scripture, those two questions have really helped me pull out, “What the passage is teaching me about God’s character, who he is?” or “What is the Lord speaking personally to my heart?” Those questions help make my quiet times come alive a little bit more in seasons when I feel like they’re a little bit dull.
Jani: Yes! We hope these questions will be helpful for you, too, as you listen today. Heidi and I want to tell you, build for tomorrow, today! We can promise you that you will never regret any time you spend in the Bible. It will change your life in so many beautiful ways from the inside out. As you let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as we read in Colossians 3:16, you’ll grow in wisdom and peace and joy, and a deep confidence that following Jesus is really worth it. Oh, may God bless you as you begin to spend time daily with our King.