Developing Commitment: Bible Study and Personal Devotion

by APC on January 14, 2016

With the beginning of a new year, we are increasing our commitments in life. Last week we learned there are elements we need to have in our life to increase our spiritual commitment. These components help us to develop a lifestyle of discipleship: Bible study, personal devotion, prayer, fasting, praise and worship, giving, and fellowship. This week, we will examine the first two components: Bible study and personal devotion.

Bible Study

The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11, KJV). In our study of discipleship, we need to collect the Word of God daily. All Scripture was written by holy men, moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21) and profits us every day (II Timothy 3:16–17).

God reveals Himself to His people through His Word, and therefore, wants us to study and internalize it. We must make reading His Word a priority in our life. Reading His Word will increase our faith (Roman 10:17)—we need to hear it!

How to Improve Our Hearing

Be Ready and Eager to Hear God

We need to have a desire to hear from God and have our “spiritual ears” open. If we have ears to hear, God will speak to us (Matthew 11:15). If we are excited to hear the Word, the Bible will become sweet to us (Psalm 119:103).

Deal with Attitudes that Prevent Us From Hearing God

We cannot let the devil, the trials of this life, or the cares of this world get in the way of our desire, and need, to hear the Word of the Lord. Once we hear His Word, we need to internalize it and keep it active in our life. The word needs to fall on good ground (Matthew 13:8)!

Purposeful behavior is required to keep the Word of God active in our life. There are four types of minds: 1) A closed mind prevents us from hearing God; 2) A superficial mind casually listens to God’s Word; 3) A preoccupied mind is too busy with everything else in life to hear God; And, 4) a ready mind says I want to hear from God. We need to have a ready mind!

Confess Any Sin in Our Life

In order to hear from God, we need to remove anything from us that hinders God moving in our life. We need to lay aside all sin and receive with meekness the engrafted Word which can save us (James 1:21).

Take Notes on What We Hear

We do not have an excuse for not writing down what we hear from God—technology has made this very easy! Scripture tells us we need to heed what we hear and take an effort to not forget it (Hebrews 2:1). If we don’t do something to help us keep His Word, it has the potential to slip away and be forgotten.

Act on What We Hear

We cannot just be a listener of the Word, but a doer as well (James 1:22). When we are obedient to the Word and follow it, we will be blessed beyond measure (Revelation 1:3). Scripture sure be our constant companion (Deuteronomy 17:19) and we should read it every day (Acts 17:11; II Timothy 2:15).

Guidelines for Bible Study

Don’t Look for Hidden Meanings

We should be able to read the Word of God for what it is. We can take the Word in in its ordinary sense. God has made His Word plain for us to understand it!

Don’t Read Verse By Verse

We should read paragraphs of Scripture so we can read in context. A good rule of thumb is to read 10–12 verses before and after a Scripture to understand the idea present so we do not take Scripture out of context. Scripture is not a list of unrelated ideas; concentrate on the larger units.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions

We need to read the Bible intelligently and think about what passages actually say. We need to see Scripture for the principles discussed. For example, when Jesus tells the rich young man to sell all and follow Him, we don’t all need to sell everything that we own to follow Christ. Jesus was trying to show this young man valued his possessions more than he loved His Savior (Mark 10:17–23). Our application should be to love God more than anything else in this world, and to remove anything that hinders that ability.

Don’t Read the Bible as a Duty

It is an honor and a privilege to read the Word on a daily basis. We need to remember that there are those who do not have such opportunity to do so. There are benefits to reading the Word!

Memorize God’s Word

We are to keep His Word in our hearts (Psalms 119:11) and write it on the table of our heart (Proverbs 7:3). We should guard the Word as our most precious possession and memorize it! There are many benefits to memorizing Scripture: 1) It helps us to resist temptation in life; 2) It helps us to make wise decisions (Psalm 119:105); 3) His Word strengthens us when we’re under stress (Psalms 119:14); 4) It comforts us when we’re sad (Jeremiah 15:16); And, 5) it helps us witness to unbelievers (I Peter 3:15).

We need to continually review the Word to keep it memorized; we will only remember what is most important to as. If we delight in His Word, it will be easier for us to remember (Psalms 119:72). When we meditate on the Word (Psalms 1:2) it will help us become like Him, answer prayers (John 15:7), and help us live successfully in Him (Joshua 1:8)!

Good Application of God’s Word

God’s Word can be very personal to us. If we read it, we can relate to it. His Word is practical, and we can utilize it in our daily walk with Him. God’s Word is possible for us to abide by! He would never tell us to do anything that we cannot accomplish. His Word is always provable. If we act on His Word, we can measure the results in our life. Scripture tells us if we are a doer of His Word, we will be blessed indeed (James 1:25).

Personal Devotion

Our personal devotion is time we set aside to get alone with God to get to know Him. This is done through our Bible study and prayer time. Personal devotion is not accomplished by attending services several times a week, but is what we do as an individual follower of Jesus Christ.

Why Should We Make Personal Devotion a Top Priority?

We Were Created to Have Fellowship with God

God wants to have a relationship with His people. This is why we were created—for fellowship (II Corinthians 6:16). He stands at the door and knocks, and it is up to us to make time to go to the door and answer so we can spend time with Him (Revelations 3:20).

Jesus Died to Make a Relationship with Him Possible

We were called into the fellowship with Him by Jesus (I Corinthians 1:9). Jesus would never die for something that wasn’t important!

Personal Time and Devotion was Jesus’s Source of Strength

Jesus drew Himself away from the throngs of people, and His disciples, from time to time to pray. He needed to renew His strength, and He did this through personal devotion. Scripture notes numerous times how he went into the wilderness to pray (Luke 5:16). We need to emulate Him and do the same!

Every Person Who is Effective in Service for God Developed This Habit

If we look at great men and women of Scripture, or even those in the last few centuries, they all had one common denominator in their life. They had a daily time of personal devotion! God will work through those whom He has a relationship with. The closer we are to God, the greater our ministries will be!

We Cannot Be a Healthy Christian Without It

Scripture tells us we cannot just live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4); we need to spend time hearing from God, seeking Him, and looking for ways to apply His Word to our life. His Word needs to be more necessary to us than food (Job 23:12). We cannot be sustained without time with the Lord. If we don’t feed ourselves spiritually, we will die spiritually.

Purpose of Daily Time with God

To Give Devotion to God

We should make it a priority in our life to dedicate time to God. He should always be the most important thing in our life. When we seek God, we need to do it with all of our heart (II Chronicles 31:21). God is seeking for His people to worship Him (John 4:23). Now is the time to develop a relationship with Him! Don’t wait!

To Get Direction from God

On any given day, we need to receive direction from the Lord. If He is to order our steps (Psalms 37:23), how can we do this if we don’t spend time with Him to receive that direction? God wants to speak directly and specifically to us through devotion (Psalms 25:4).

To Get Delight from God

If we would just spend a little bit of time alone with Him, we will experience His presence. In His presence there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalms 16:11). The better acquainted we get with Jesus, the more we will love Him!

To Grow More Like God

If we spend time with Him, His Spirit will reside in us. When we receive His Spirit, we receive divine power to give us the ability to be more like Him. We can grow in knowledge and virtue, and can be like God’s nature (II Peter 1:1–8).

How to Begin Personal Devotion

Select a Specific Time

It’s best to set a time when we’re at our best. In Scripture, we see many examples of people rising early to meet with the Lord. First thing in the morning may be our best, afternoon, or at night—whatever we choose, keep up with the time on a daily basis.

Choose a Special Place

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray on many occasions (Luke 22:39). We should have a solitary place to get alone with God to eliminate distractions.

Gather the Resources We Need

It’s good to have a Bible, study tools, note taking resources, prayer lists, or whatever we find will help us in our personal devotion time right at our fingertips!

Begin with the Right Attitude

We should not approach personal devotion time with a bad attitude. Think about having a mindset of reverence when entering the presence of the Lord. We should have a spirit of expectancy that God will do something in our life when we get alone with Him. And, we should have an attitude of obedience that we will carry out what He speaks to us during our time of devotion.

Follow a Simple Plan

There are different ways to structure our personal devotion time, but we shouldn’t get so caught up in making this time complicated! We should with the flow and where God leads us each day. We might start in the Word and lead to prayer, or we could spend time in praise and then enter into a time of deep prayer. To begin, we should: relax, read, reflect, record, and request. We can see where God takes us during this time!

Overcome Problems in Devotion Time

We should be very disciplined about our personal devotion time, eliminate distractions, and be aware of what could promote “dryness” during this time. Stop at nothing to keep our commitment to personal devotion, be proactive about anything that can hinder this time, and put our physical and spiritual states in check for a retreat with God!

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on January 13, 2016