1. Set aside time for God’s Word
In the Bible we find endless examples of how important it is to know and treasure God’s Word. For instance:“Blessed is the man who[se]…delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). And my personal favorite:“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)
As Christians, knowing the Word of God is one of our greatest privileges, and setting aside the time to read it must be a priority. Scripture is the sword we use to fight off temptation. It’s where we find comfort and hope when we’re feeling lost. It’s where we’re reminded of God’s ridiculous love for us. Often we think, “Of course it’s a priority! I’m just lazy sometimes and not that great at discipline.”
But is reading God’s Word a priority in our lives?
By definition, a priority is something we designate or treat with great importance. So if reading the Bible is actually a priority in our lives, we will actively choose it over other activities. Hence, if I’m spending hours upon hours on Netflix but just can’t seem to find time to read God’s Word, how important is the Bible to me?
2. Find a Bible Reading Plan
Let’s say my best friend has a birthday party and I’m planning it. I might have the greatest intention of celebrating his birthday—he’s my best friend for goodness’ sake! But if I go to the party with no plans for who’s bringing the cake, when the guest of honor is coming, or when it actually begins, I’ll hit a few bumps in the road. There might not even be a party at all! If we treat the Bible in the same way, reading it only periodically and letting it fall onto random pages, we will be unable to discern what God’s Word tells us.
3. Read the great Christian classics
I’m going to be honest with you guys about this one: this is not my strongest point. I love reading, but when it comes to reading old writing or long paragraphs of text, I often find myself dozing off or thinking about what’s for dinner. However, it’s important to read books written in the past, even if the style is confusing and outdated, because history always repeats itself. Human nature hasn’t changed. When we look at all the problems we face today, there’s nothing really new. Persecution, marital problems, discipline, purity—all these have plagued mankind since Adam fell.
When we look at the Old Testament Israelites, we see their repetitious sin is a dominant recurring theme of the Old Testament. In Judges 2, we read “And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua…and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” So if there are works that address these age old problems, written by people who strove to write their wisdom down, it’d be wise to take a gander.
4. Make the time and the place to pray.
If you’ve talked to me recently, you’ll know I just came back from a missions trip in Germany. I was part of a team of six sent from Grace Community Church to East Berlin to help out with a number of tasks: children’s camp, construction, ESL classes, and cold-contact evangelism. In the streets of Berlin we’d go through a questionnaire with people, hopefully leading them to the Gospel. There would be times when my evangelism parter and I would be on the street for 30 minutes without a single soul stopping to chat with us. But every time we stopped to pray, God would send someone to our doorstep.
Scripture repeats itself over and over: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) Often times, we read passages about prayer and think, “I just need to make sure I pray with a grateful heart before I do _____,” or “I need to remember to pray more to make sure I’m relying on God.” But there is an important truth we often overlook: God doesn’t need us to pray to Him. He is an omniscient being and He knows our every thought. We pray because we need Him. In our sinfulness, we often get blindsided by the things of this world, causing us to doubt God’s goodness and sovereignty. God doesn’t need prayer, but we do.
5. Redeem your time
This concept of “redeeming the time” shouldn’t seem foreign to you; it’s biblical! Ephesians 5:15 reads “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” In the ESV, we see the phrase “making the best use of,” is originally translated from one Greek word: exagorazō. Other translations read “redeeming.”
During our unsaved former lives, we lived for our own fleshly desires, scornfully disregarding our Creator. But when He graciously sent His Son in the form of a man to die on the cross for our sins, He made it possible for us to share in a relationship with Him. Our lives are no longer our own; we live with the ultimate purpose: God’s glory.
So what do we do with the regret over all the time we’ve squandered? We learn to live with purpose and intention, diligently endeavoring to spend our numbered days wisely.
John Piper says this: “The clock never stops ticking. Nothing but God is more persistent than the passing of time. You can’t stop it or slow it. It is sovereign over all human resistance. It will not be hindered or altered or made to cease. It is utterly oblivious to young and old, pain and pleasure, crying and laughing. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes a difference to the unstoppable, unchangeable tick, tick, ticking of time. Anna Akhmatova the Russian poet, said that war and plague pass, but no one can cope with ‘the terror that is named the flight of time.’ ” Our time on this planet is short. Eternity is long. How will we use our time for the glory of God?
6. Get your work done on time
There’s no specific Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt get thy work done on time.” At the same time, we are called to be faithful stewards of what we are given, and doing our work on time faithfully stewards the abilities and tasks we’ve been given. If we do our work on time, we are not only being a good testimony to authority figures, but to our peers as well. For example, this post on Christian disciplines is way overdue! Luckily I have very gracious peers that are extremely loving and forgiving. But in life, that’s not always the case! Sometimes when we shirk our work, we lose credibility with others. And when trust is lost, it’s extremely hard to get back. If I am known as the guy who is really nice and loving, but always shows up to things late, no one will want to work with me because they don’t know if I’ll finish on time. What does that say about my character? Am I being the best witness I can for Christ? No.
7. Get some exercise
1 Timothy 4:8 “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
In this verse we see that the pursuit of godliness is one of the greatest things that we could strive for, because it is fruitful in this life and the next. But when we examine the first part of the sentence, we see that Paul does not deny the fact that there is value in being disciplined in exercise. Personally, I am not the best person at this. I would rather read a book or go grab coffee than spend an afternoon running the UCLA perimeter. However, all that we have, including our bodies, belongs to God. We merely are stewards of things entrusted to us. So whether that means we need to run a marathon or take a quick jog around the block, we need to make sure that we do physically take care of ourselves.
8. Discipline yourself to sleep to prepare for worship
If you attend Grace Community Church or are familiar with Rick Holland, you know “Sunday morning begins Saturday night.” What Rick means is that the way we prepare our hearts and our minds Saturday night directly impacts our worship Sunday morning. Even if we stay up Saturday night doing good things, like fellowship, Sunday is still the Lord’s Day. It’s the one day each week we set apart totally for Him. So if we stay up fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ until 2 or 3 AM Saturday night, paying attention to the preaching of God’s Word Sunday morning will be a lot harder than if we went to sleep at 10 or 11PM, interfering with our dedication of that day to the Lord.