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Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

 

Believe him to be the Son of God,
and you will find him wonder upon
wonder, counsel upon counsel.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A few years ago, I was introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer through a play that depicted an interaction between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Ever since that introduction, I have read something by Bonhoeffer at least once a year.

Recently, I continued reading Life Together by Bonhoeffer.  Undoubtedly, it reminds me of the kindred spirit that Bonhoeffer offers me through his discourse on the concept of community to people of faith.  In all fairness, Bonhoeffer shares some inspirational words that should cause us all to pause for a moment and realize the true value of our Christian community despite the shortcomings and mistakes of our humanity.
I also started reading I Want to Live These Days with You, a daily devotional by Bonhoeffer.  I had read through it previously back in 2006 and 2009.  As I prepared for 2013, I decided to return to the devotional once again.  I had done the same with My Utmost for His Highest by Chambers and Morning and Evening by Spurgeon.

I suggest that most believers could glean something from Bonhoeffer’s writings.  He provides the reader with both inspiration and insight.

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 For ever, O LORD,
thy word is settled in heaven.
– Psalm 119:89

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

-Psalm 119:9-11(NIV)

Look at the Word of God.  Look into and seek the things that God wants to share with you.  Oddly enough, the Word tends to strike us right where we are in our lives.  Whether we are up or down, happy or sad, it touches us and it speaks to us through the Spirit of God.
Start keeping track of your daily inspirations from God and His Word.  Jot down in a journal or notebook how God speaks to you daily.  Keep track of it.  Refer to it on your down days or just during your down time. 
Write openly and freely about what the Lord says to you with the Word.  Keep your journal as your own private sanctuary for you coming before the presence of God with the burdens of your heart and soul.  Let loose and see what God does with your thoughts, expressions and feelings.

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“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” – Mark 1:1 (New Living Translation)

The opening line of the Gospel of Mark sets both the tone and the pace for one of the most action-packed depictions of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ offered through the Gospels.  While Mark’s account is counted among the Synoptic Gospels, it still stands out as particular account of Jesus, “the Messiah, the Son of God.” It offers the reader an opportunity to go along for a roller coaster ride of encounters with Jesus as He goes to and fro, teaching, healing and ministering to the people in the area of Palestine.

Rather than a lofty introduction of the book like his counterparts Luke and Matthew, Mark opens with a single verse that sets everything up from there.  He points out that it is about Jesus.  It is about the Messiah.  It is about the Son of God.  He does not get into genealogy like Matthew.  He does not introduce his position in a case statement like Luke where the opening four verses sound almost like a theological thesis for a seminary student to some degree.  Mark hits his main point and begins to spill evidence of that point from that point on and throughout the entire book.

Start studying the Gospel of MarkRead it as part of your daily Bible study or devotional period.  Listen to it on YouVersion or other sites.  Pick up a commentary or Bible study on the Gospel of Mark.  Let it sink in and soak in to your very soul.  Let it speak to you through the Holy Spirit.  Let it help you see Jesus in action and explore it so that you can experience the gospel in a new light.

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Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavored

to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate;

the which he did, but could not get out because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld
in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him what he did there.
. . .  Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way, and fell in.
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Bunyan’s protagonist is aptly named Christian.  He struggles with which way to go and who to listen to as he searches his way through life.  That may sound familiar to many of us as Christians.  We have spent some time trying to find our own way and the help of others have sometimes led us astray.  That appears to be nothing new.

Pilgrim’s Progress is a book full of symbolism.  Yet, it is a tale that should resonate with most of us.  It should remind us of our constant struggle to stay on the right path.  Through this christian classic, we should remember that life is full of dangers ahead and just around the bend.  It may not simply be the things that we encounter upon the road itself.  It may be the danger of the very people who cross our path along the way.  We may do well to not listen to some of the folks who seem to know so much and cause us so much trouble as we follow their lead.

Paul wrote it this way: “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV).  Don’t simply look into what people say and take it as gospel.  The Bible warns us of false teachers and their twisting of the Word of God for their own benefit and gain.  Learn to discern the truth based upon your understanding of the Word and the urging of the Holy Spirit. 

Even in his letters from prison, Paul is careful to state: It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains” (Philippians 1:15-17, NIV).  Jude urged the believer to “contend for the faith,” while John shared that we should imitate and do “what is good.” We cannot spend a lot of time following behind this manipulators and workers of evil.  We have to focus on the good that comes from God that produces love and peace, even joy and forgiveness.  If we do as He has said for us to do, we will uphold the truth that comes from Him and he will destroy that which defies His Word.

Be careful to hold onto the Word of God as truth.  Otherwise, when you least expect it, you will find danger ahead.

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Some of my favorite Christian authors include some great voices of inspiration.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite choices:

Naturally, I could have added myself but I am not like that.  Am I?

Additionally, I love reading books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, E.M. Bounds and Oral Roberts.

Currently, I am still reading at least one book by each of these except Oral Roberts.  The last book by Oral Roberts that I read was Expect a Miracle.  I loved the way that Roberts shared his life story and the story of his ministry through this book.

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“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” -Mark 1:35-37

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”  Psalm 5:3

What is your morning ritual?

Do you rise up early and find your own personal time with the Lord?

How do you start your day?

Seek the Lord’s face early.  Find a way to find time to spend time with God.  Place an emphasis on making your personal time with God a special time that kicks off your day.  Make it special.  Seek a special time with the Lord.  Do it daily.

Rise up early.  Get to a place that allows you to have some privacy.  Talk openly with the Lord.  Share the burdens of your heart with Him.  Be both open and honest.  Pour out your heart to Him and with Him.  Let your tears run down your face.  Hear yourself crying out for mercy.  Listen closely as the Lord whispers comfort into your soul.

Find the time and you will find a new level of Christian experience.

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Daily devotion should have a mantra that reads something like this: You start with intention and seek intimacy with God.  That would pretty much summarize your objective in a nutshell.  You have to keep the objective in mind in order to identify, track and assess your progress towards reaching that objective.

Intention

For your daily devotion, you need to identify if you want to start by reading Psalms, Proverbs, the Gospels or some other section or books of the Bible.  My daily devotion for 2011 consists of a daily reading from a chapter of proverbs for the corresponding date of the month as well as reading daily from a chapter from the 52 chapters of Jeremiah each week.  The Proverbs daily reading is usually reading the fifth chapter of Proverbs on the fifth of the month and so on.  I read an entire chapter from Jeremiah over the course of a week, reading parts of it daily or reading over and over again and taking notes. 

Intensity

You will see your capacity increase over time.  Your appetite for the Scriptures will develop as you take in more and more of its passages and books.  At some point, you will have to intensify your efforts in line with your original intent.

Intimacy

Ultimately, what you seek to gain out of your daily devotional time should not simply be biblical knowledge.  You should seek a deeper intimacy with God.  Whether it comes by a better understanding of who God is or how God acts, you want to draw nearer to the Lord Almighty Himself.  You should learn more about God and become drawn closer to God.

Additional Devotional Help

  • My Utmost for His Highest– Oswald Chambers
  • Day by Day– Billy Graham
  • Our Daily Bread­– RBC Ministries

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