TRAINING FOR SERVICE
HAVING A QUIET TIME
The Quiet Time is a must if we are to grow in the Christian life but this is, unfortunately, the missing ingredient in many lives today.
We all make familiar noises about time and study, but the Devil is laughing at us, because as we do so, he is keeping us away from the most precious time we can enjoy, having fellowship with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
What I would like to do is to give some helpful tips and starter points for your daily Bible study, whatever your age.
As you read the scriptures, take a few verses at a time. As you read look for the point that remains central to the theme, look out for repeated words, phrases or ideas, look for related verses elsewhere in the Bible.
Then look for any contrast in the reading. For example, ‘but’ and ‘if’ are two words that can change the whole meaning or change the direction of the theme.
Remember the Bible is our spiritual food. See Matthew 4 v 4, as we need daily food for our body, so we need food for our spirit life.
We must set a time aside each day to be alone with God.
Here is an outline of having time quietly with the Lord, studying His word and seeking to apply what is shown to you from it every day.
Have a few moments in prayer asking the Lord to help you as you read; then ponder His word, ask Him to help you understand the words and phrases as you read.
Do not go with a defeatist attitude but with joy and expectancy that He will help and assist you.
You need to read through the verses a couple of times at least, so only read a few verses as this will help you grasp what is being said and why.
May I suggest a book like Mark’s Gospel to begin with because it has so much contained in it and it is broken down for a short reading each day. You will build up over time to be able to take more in.
After reading the verses a few times, carefully ponder what you are reading, what is being said? To whom is it being said? What does this mean to you?
Then try and commit one verse to memory each day.
Jot down a few notes on paper, particularly some thoughts that come to you from the Lord.
If you find words or thoughts that you cannot understand, write them down and ask a spiritual member of your fellowship to help you.
This is a good way of binding into a fellowship and will encourage others to study with you.
It is a good idea to check out your findings and blessings with others of like mind, such as your pastor or church leader.
Sadly, there are few around today who really want to grow in the Christian life but I can assure you that God will provide you with someone to help you.
There are a number of problems that we all face, so let us clear the decks by facing some of them now:
• The time factor. We all say the same thing, we do not have enough hours in the day and we have such a busy schedule. It is amazing how we all say the same thing making an excuse for not disciplining ourselves into a regular time of study of God’s Word. These are the most important minutes of your day... and what a fantastic thought that we could be alone with Almighty God for such a time! The discipline of daily study is a common problem and blaming tiredness is a common complaint. You must set a time to best suit yourself to commune with God, a time when you are at your freshest and that is usually at the beginning of the day.
• The problem of wandering thoughts is another reason why folk quit the quiet time. Well we all have to face that few of us find it easy to be still and quiet in this hectic society in which we live. We need to ask the Lord to help us in this area, asking Him to bring our mind under His control to learn of Him. One other thought: Satan loves to stop us communing with God and it delights him to rob us of such communion. Why the Christian cannot see this, is beyond belief! But sadly far too many are seemingly listening to Satan rather than to God, without realising it. Stick at it my dear beloved friend and God will reward you, I can assure you.
• The problem of reading what is at first difficult to follow, can be alleviated by purchasing a good dictionary and, if possible, a good Bible dictionary such as Vine’s New Testament Words or Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, both a sound investment with hours of great help. They will bring light onto the page. Then get a good commentary, as a help, not as a first line study book. Whatever, battle it through and become a 'more than conqueror' for Christ.
I want to share with you some of the methods I use myself in digging into the scriptures, with some practical examples:
A good overall grasp of the books of the Bible is important so that you can get to know your way around it.
Begin by reading through the book a couple of times. During the second reading pick out themes or phrases that recur.
As an example, Ephesians comes to mind. Reading through, we find ‘in Christ’ comes 20 times and the Holy Spirit comes 12 times.
So we jot down the references and go back to see what is involved in each.
The book of Genesis can easily be remembered by the characters involved.
Adam ch. 3 - 4;
Abel ch. 4;
Enoch ch. 4;
Noah ch. 6 - 10;
Abraham ch.11 - 25;
Isaac and Jacob ch. 26 - 36;
Joseph ch. 37 - 50.
This is a simple way to remember the book.
The book of Joshua is all about faith, so we could break it down:
Chapter 1, the warrant of faith;
Chapter 2, the walk of faith;
Chapter 3, the work of faith and in
Chapter 4 - 24, the witness of faith.
The book of Ezra is about the return from the Babylonian captivity and Jerusalem is central. We find here
restoration in chapters 1 and 2;
reconstruction in chapter 3 and 4 then
reformation in chapters 5 to 10.
Watch out for the various events involved.
In the New Testament, Mark is a good starter and easy to follow and read. Mark was his Roman name and John his Jewish name. He wrote to Roman readers in the Greek language.
There are few O. T. references used.
It was the first gospel written and presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the Servant.
1. The manifestation of the Servant: chapter 1 v 1 - 11.
2. The mastery of the Servant: chapter 1 v 12 - 13.
3. The message of the Servant: chapter 1 v 14 - 16.
4. The ministry of the Servant: chapter 1 v 16 - 13.
5. The mission of the Servant: chapter 14.
6. The meetings of the Servant: chapter 16.
It is worth studying alongside the other gospels spotting the differences in miracles and parables, particularly those excluded and those included.
2nd Thessalonians was written to correct the misunderstandings of the first letter and speaks about about the Second Coming of Christ.
That Second Coming is a comfort in persecution, chapter 1.
In chapter 2 is a consolation against apostasy.
His coming is dealt with in chapter 3 and needs our preparation.
The saints were doing well, but some corrections were needed and adjustments were necessary to bring them into line with true Christian living.
This gives an idea of how to break a book up and discover the main teaching that is being given.