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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Quiet Time Resolutions

December 30th, 2007

Alexander Whyte said…

“The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”

That is certainly true when it comes to our devotional relationship with God, otherwise known as “quiet time”. It has to be one of the Christian’s most popular New Year’s resolutions, “To read my Bible through and spend more time with God.” So we try. We fail. We try again. This time with stronger resolve. But our resolve, while sincere, is weak. The excitement that carried us through Genesis wanes in Exodus and dies a slow painful death in Leviticus.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Many of us approach our quiet time with a mechanical formula and a prescribed idea of what a proper quiet time should look like. We may try to emulate the patterns of famous saints of one or two or four hundred years ago; men and women who rose at 4 AM and prayed for three hours everyday without considering that they lived in a world one or two or four hundred times slower than ours. Honestly, if you had no TV, radio, e-mails, telephones, or automobiles in your life you’d have more time to think deep thoughts.

That’s not an excuse for avoiding quiet times. Simply an acknowledgment that we have to work harder at it. I suspect that given their passion for writing, John Calvin and Martin Luther would have been computer freaks had Apple and Microsoft been in Geneva and Germany. Imagine Luther nailing his papers to the door in a color laser printed 15-point font and Calvin putting his Institutes on the web? 

This isn’t easy to do, but remember that when you’re in the Bible you’re in the real world. In fact, you’re never more in touch with reality than when you are reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible. The life we’re living on this planet, the daily frenzy that consumes us, is passing away (2 Corinthians 4:18). It isn’t going to last. It’s on borrowed time with no extensions. As real as it seems, life as we know it on planet earth isn’t going to last. God and His word are eternal. Don’t think of time alone with God’s Word as something to squeeze into your day. Think of it as a daily reality check reminding you of what’s forever and what is fleeting.

The Bible is a big book. Even more daunting (and comforting) is that it is an infinite text. You could study it exclusively and non-stop for a hundred years and you’d still discover new truths. It’s God’s word and God is infinite. The desire at the start of a new year is to read all of it. That’s certainly worthwhile. And you won’t be disappointed if you do. Yet if the only goal is to read through the Bible in a year it’s possible to arrive at December 31st having sped through the Bible; not unlike the Dad who brags to his family about how fast they made the drive from Iowa to California. “Didn’t stop to see anything but we sure made good time.”

How much better would it be to say, ”My focus in 2008 is to spend time everyday in the book of Ephesians.” A whole year to spend on 155 verses. Sound too narrow? Feel like you’re ignoring the rest of the Bible by spending a year in one book? What’s the goal of our growth anyway? Isn’t it to “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29)? Relaxed, thorough and joyful study of one book for a year will build infinitely more into your character than speeding through the entire Bible just to say you did. Because the chapters and verses will become part of who you are.

Spend the year, for example, in Ephesians and you’ll enter 2009 with a deeper understanding of how God chose you before the foundations of the world. You’ll marvel at the incredible miracle that you were saved by grace through faith. That you’re part of a bigger picture, a player in God’s divine drama to whom He has given gifts and talents with which to build up others. You’ll understand what it means to walk worthy and how to deal with your former life apart from Christ. You’ll have insights on how to be better husbands and wives and parents. And you’ll learn how to prepare for the spiritual battle that is waged.

A year spent understanding your vertical relationship with God and your horizontal relationships with others? How practical is that? How much more productive would our lives be a year from now for having spent a year in Ephesians?

In 2008 why not consider going deep with 1 book instead of wide with 66?           
   
As you read, relate. Talk with God. Not in some austere stained-glass voice that you never use any other time. Talk. Get real. Be real. Push past the accusations of Satan that say you’ve got no right bringing your sorry self in front of a holy God. That business is done. You’re not a child of wrath anymore. You’ve been redeemed, regenerated, reconciled and restored. God says we are to “come boldly before the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). So come boldly. And gratefully. You’re not a slave anymore. You’re a child of God. God likes His kids to talk to Him. In fact, He delights in it. So talk!

Take time, too, to listen. Solitude and quietness are not our strong suit. Most of us live in perpetual noise. Some of us aren’t comfortable unless we have white noise in the background. (This is me, raising my hand.) Quiet is good for us. Once you get past the initial thoughts of “I really should be doing something” God can and will use the quiet to build your soul. Don’t be afraid of meeting God in the silence. He’s your friend. Time spent in silence with God will strengthen you for living in the noise of the day. 

Explore personal worship. Find a good CD of your favorite worship music, relax and listen. Load up your I-Tunes and your I-Pod with worship music. Focus on the words and allow the music to draw your attention to God. We don’t worship enough. When we take time to be influenced by godly lyrics and beautiful music we’re growing in Christ. What an enjoyable way to grow! Money spent on quality sound systems is money well spent.

Can I say it? Sometimes louder is better. My 7-year olds crank “Shout To The Lord”, Aaron Shust’s “My Savior My God” and Israel & New Breed’s arrangement of “Trading My Sorrow”. There are times to hear the music. And there are times to feel the music.

The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings. On the eve of the new year, let’s enjoy God’s grace in the fresh start.

Here’s to all of us making 2008 a year of experiencing the loyal love of God.

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all his wonderful acts. glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” – Psalm 105:1-4