God loves you. Share the message.
How Much Does God Love You?
1. He loved you long before you loved Him.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:4-5).
2. He refused to just let you perish in your sins (like you deserve).
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
3. He sent His Son into the world to take on humanity so that you could have eternal life.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).
4. He poured out His wrath against your sin on His own Son.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
5. Because His just wrath against sin has been completely satisfied, He now offers you mercy instead of wrath, life instead of death, eternal kindness in Christ Jesus instead of inescapable bondage to sin and to Satan—all (because of His grace) through faith alone.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:1-9).
6. He wants to rescue you from your current sinful lifestyle, apart from any works of your own, by the cleansing and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, freely available through Jesus Christ.
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:3-6).
7. He allows all who have received His Son Christ Jesus by faith to be called one of His children.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God (I John 3:1).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
8. He is calling you through the Gospel (through what you are reading now!) to enjoy the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and experience eternal comfort and genuine assurance.
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ….Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace… (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, 16a).
9. He will not make you wait until you arrive in your home in glory in order to enjoy His presence but will instead make you His home during your life on earth.
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
10. He guarantees you victory over anything that you think might separate you from His love.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
Over Christmas break, I read the entire Bible in 25 days. The closest I have come to doing this in the past was reading the New Testament over a similar length of time. Reading the entire Bible in 25 days may seem like an unattainable goal, but there are some who have read the Bible in one week. However, it marked a major milestone for me, and here are some things I learned from the experience.
1. It is very doable.
First, it is eminently doable. In one of my Bibles, it amounts to an average of 58 pages per day. If you think about it, that’s not an impossible task. An adult with an average level of education can read 58-60 pages in two to three hours. Many can even read faster than that. If spending about two hours daily reading Scripture seems burdensome, think of how blithely many Christians will watch a two-hour video or spend two hours of internet surfing in order to relax after a day at work. The psalmist prayed that the Lord would turn his eyes from looking at things that are worthless (Psalm 119:37). Perhaps if God answered a prayer like that for us, it would give us more time to read His words.
2. The longest books can be read in one sitting.
Second, even the longest books of the Bible are readable in one day, even in one sitting. For example, in sheer number of words, Jeremiah is the longest book of the Bible with about 33,000; Genesis is second, and Psalms, third. On previous occasions, I have read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel each in one sitting. It took me just under two hours to read Isaiah, just over two hours to read Ezekiel, and about two and a half hours to read Jeremiah. Admittedly, you will not capture or understand every detail of the book but that is not your goal in reading the entire book in one sitting. (More about that later.) But my point is this: if even reading Jeremiah or Ezekiel in one sitting is possible, how much more so the Gospel of Matthew, or any one of the four Gospels. In fact, after reading Jeremiah in one day, reading the Gospel of Matthew in a day seemed easy by comparison. And yet, how often have we been put off by the length of the Gospel of Matthew, convincing ourselves that due to its lengthiness we could never sit down and read it at one time or in one day in its entirety?
3. Reading a book in its entirety is incredibly valuable.
Third, I was struck by the overwhelming value of reading an entire book of the Bible at one time. I can’t use enough adjectives for this experience: invaluable, fantastic, necessary, indispensable, important, life-changing, and all-encompassing. Many of our interpretational problems would be solved by reading an entire book of the Bible before weighing in on one of its verses. Persuasive, but deceived, religious figures have used verses in Isaiah to point to themselves—the “man from the east,” for example (Isa. 41:2)—when a full reading of Isaiah, or even just fully reading Isaiah 40-48, would make clear that the man in view is Cyrus the Great, the Persian world leader of the sixth century BC.
4. You make important Scriptural connections that would otherwise go unnoticed.
In addition, reading an entire book allows you to see connections you might otherwise miss. I am thankful for a Bible with chapters and verses. Imagine trying to point people to your text in Jeremiah without these.
But the truth is that sometimes these chapter divisions keep us from noticing the larger unfolding story or sequence of connected thoughts in a given book. This is partly due to the way we often base our Bible reading on chapter divisions. A daily Bible reader typically reads a certain number of chapters a day. He might, for example, read Genesis 37-40. Or he might be reading in multiple parts of the Bible every day and thus read Genesis 37, Psalm 5, Proverbs 6, and Matthew 7. There is nothing inherently wrong with such an approach. I spent much of 2019 reading 10 chapters a day, each chapter coming from a different book of the Bible, and it was a great blessing to be reading all over the Bible every day. But allow me to play devil’s advocate a little bit here. Think of a person who reads Genesis 37-40 for his daily Bible reading, shuts his Bible, and goes on his way. What he may not realize is that he was on the cusp of Joseph’s story arc transition from his downward spiral to his incredible exaltation. I think it is safe to say that the author (and Author) of Genesis did not mean for the reader to pause lengthily after reading 40:23. The suspense of the story itself ought to carry the reader into the next chapter. How much more so is this true if that same reader then continues the next day by reading Genesis 41-44! Four chapters of daily Bible reading is great—and more than many Christians accomplish—but the grand revelation of Joseph to his brothers takes place in Genesis 45:1. Everything in Genesis 44 (and the chapters preceding) has built up to this stunning moment when Joseph’s brothers find themselves unexpectedly and terrifyingly in the presence of the brother they sold into slavery. Furthermore, what you may also miss by not reading the story as a whole is the growing “Judah theme” in the Joseph story. God is working in and through Joseph in Genesis 37-50, but He is also working on Judah, making him into the leader from whom the Davidic Messiah will ultimately emerge. The Judah theme is most easily seen if you read the entire story.
These examples come from Genesis, but Revelation, the last book of the Bible, affords similar examples of missed connections that can occur when we read isolated chapters. A good example is Revelation 5. A fascinating drama in and of itself as the Lamb takes the scroll with the seven seals, it is tightly connected with the vision of God’s heavenly throne room in Revelation 4. Revelation 6 is similarly connected. Too often, we refer to Revelation 6 as the “seal judgments,” as if they are a stand-alone phenomenon. Actually, the Lamb who received the scroll with the seven seals in chapter 5 (from the hand of the One seated on the throne in chapter 4) is the One opening the seven seals one at a time. Allow me one more example. Revelation 13 begins with the emergence of the Beast and ends with the mark of the beast on the hand or forehead of his followers. But if you keep reading into Revelation 14, you find that the followers of the Lamb have a mark (the Father’s name) on their foreheads too. The juxtaposition of these two chapters (or two sets of followers) is literarily intentional and so easily missed if we do not take in the entire book of Revelation as a whole. Both sets of followers are identifiable to their respective leaders. (By the way, Revelation may have 22 chapters but it is actually less than 10,000 words in length. That’s about the length of a 20-page book, which is very readable in one sitting.)
Limits on our time demand that for most of us we read a certain number of chapters a day. We, most likely, cannot read the entire book of Genesis every time we come to it. But let’s be sensitive to the material in the book more than to the chapter divisions of the book, and attempt to pause in our reading at natural pauses in a book’s storyline. And, at least once in a while, shoot to read the book in its entirety.
5. Your day becomes filled with the reading of Scripture.
Another thing I discovered is this: I found myself reading Scripture at odd moments of the day when I would no doubt have been doing something else. I am not saying that I would have been doing things of no value, but I would not have been reading Scripture. Why? Because I would have gotten my Scripture intake that morning, spent time in prayer, and then moved on into my day. But when you have a goal of reading the entire Bible in a short amount of time, you do not always finish in the morning. So at odd moments of the day, while standing in line or waiting for others to get ready for a family errand, you find yourself reading Scripture.
I take away from this that I would read more Scripture if I had a goal of reading more Scripture. One of the best ways to be productive or to do productive things is to have the pressure of a goal. No one likes pressure but the truth is that reasonable pressure is good for us. Pressure is what motivates us to do things we know we should do but are too lazy or unmotivated to do unless under the constraints of a goal (or a boss or a deadline). Those who shoot at nothing are sure to hit it!
6. Learning to concentrate and read quickly becomes a necessity.
Reading large amounts of Scripture is also a good way to learn to read more quickly or to remind yourself that there is a place for reading more quickly. When you sit down on a given morning with only two hours to read the entire book of Ezekiel, you push yourself to read more quickly, perhaps even more quickly than you thought possible. You make yourself concentrate, which is frankly a skill increasingly rare in our distracting modern world.
Obviously, not all reading of Scripture should be fast. The Puritans distinguished between plow-work and deeper spade-work. We need both types of Bible study. I have to admit I prefer reading less Scripture in order to be able to do more spade-work. One year when I started my Bible reading at Genesis, I planned to read several chapters, and only made my way through the first three verses of Genesis 1. Forty-five minutes later, I came up satiated with all the truths I had seen in just those three verses. On the other hand, I am convinced that laziness or complacency in my Bible reading has led me to feel satisfied with reading a few chapters a day, knowing that I am on pace to read through the whole Bible within the calendar year, when the truth is I could have very easily upped the amount of what I was reading.
What I am trying to say is this: under the guise of pursuing “deeper Bible study,” I have excused away hours of time in which I could have been reading far larger quantities of Scripture. In the future, I want to make sure that I do both (plow-work and spade-work).
In truth, plow-work leads to spade-work. As I read quickly—taking in, for example, in a single day the entire Lucan corpus (his Gospel plus the book of Acts)—I came across things that I wanted to come back to for future study. On occasions like that, I would sometimes put a question mark or a brief comment in the margin to jog my memory in the future.
7. Planning to read more Bible during down times is best.
One last observation is this: reading the Bible in a short amount of time works best during a down-time in your daily schedule. It is doable, as I observed above, by reading two to three hours per day. But some days are better “reading” days than others. All of us over a 25- or 30-day period will have days when our minds are more distracted than on other days (which will slow down our reading) or days in which our time to read is shorter or punctuated by interruptions.
Planning to read a large portion of the Bible works best during vacation, or some other down-time in your daily routine, when you know you will have more time to read because your schedule is more under your control. There is an additional benefit: vacation often becomes a time when we spend less time with the Lord than normal. Too often, unintentionally, we end up vacationing away from the Lord. We can even feel that “vacation” provides an excuse to indulge our more carnal side a little. So we binge on social media, gaming, or movie-watching. Consequently, we come up dripping at the end of our vacation from the pool of the world’s delights, having temporarily satisfied some of our baser lusts but feeling (and knowing!) we are more distant from the Lord and more deadened to His voice than we ought (or meant) to be.
Having a goal of reading large portions of Scripture during vacation mitigates that tendency. It does not mean you can have no fun on vacation. My wife (who joined me in the 25-day Bible reading challenge) and I both found ourselves spiritually refreshed after vacation. We had enjoyed a change of pace from our regular work week. We had vacationed in a beautiful place in the mountains. We had enjoyed time with family. We had played games and even watched some videos. But we had not vacationed away from our Lord. We had instead enjoyed many precious moments feasting on His Word. What a welcome change it was from walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting at the seat of the scornful—the typical fare served on social media and most of twenty-first century entertainment!
Want to do your own Bible Reading Challenge?
Below are links for both a 25 Day Bible Reading Plan and a 40 Day Bible Reading Plan.
Also, read this excellent article on binge-reading the Bible by Joel Arnold.
What Do I Know About My God?
The first section in this notebook is about GOD. Fill in the title at the top with a characteristic or action of God. Some ideas are
What Do I Know About What God Wants From Me?
The second section is all about what God wants from you. At the top of this page, fill in the title with something that you read in your devotional time in the Word that God wants you to be. On these lined pages, record verses that you have read in your devotional time that refer to that. Some examples are:
Start with just a few pages in each category. As God teaches you about Himself, add pages for new categories of things you are learning about your God or about what He wants from you. As you collect verses on these topics, you will have a resource for times when you need to study that topic or when a friend or one of your children is struggling and needs some encouragement.
The goal of your devotional time is to learn about God. To come to know Him.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 tells us that instead of glorying in our wisdom, might, or riches, we should glory in this: that we understand and know God. That is what God takes delight in!
Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
How well do you know your God? How diligently are you seeking Him?
Download this free devotional journal to help you learn more about God every day.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,
and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
By Laura Berrey
I lost my cell phone once. (Actually, I lose it regularly, but this was the one time I really lost it.)
I looked all over for it. It was during my pre-smart phone days, when phones were both dumb and cheap, so it wasn’t a huge hit financially if I didn’t recover it. And it was basically for emergencies only… my getting a text was as likely as stumbling across a swimming hole in the Sahara.
But, still. It was my cell phone. So I dutifully searched for it for a week or two. At first, we tried calling it from my husband’s phone. But the battery must have died, because we never heard it ring from anywhere in the house.
I could live without a cell phone for a while. I had six little children with arms like octopi, so I figured a chubby little toddler had seen it, found it temporarily distracting, and then dropped it somewhere that hopefully didn’t involve water and a seat. It would show up eventually, right? Or if not, no great loss.
I lost a child once too. (Actually, we lost this particular child several times, but the first was the worst.) I had a radically different response to losing my child than I did to losing my cell phone. As soon as I realized he was missing, I went into full-on Mama Bear Mode. And I did not relax that until long after he was found and safely returned to the bosom of his family (i.e., me).
That return occurred with much weeping and hysterically relieved praise to God. I was ready to kill not just the fatted calf, but sundry and all who would dare remove him from me, yea, even from my sight, for the next twenty-four hours or years. “Clingy” doesn’t cover it.
What made the difference in my search methods? The value of the reward.
I would have gladly paid any price for the return of my son, even my own life. But I could afford nonchalance over my cell phone. (Which I found, by the way, one day while changing the sheets on my bed. It had slipped down between the mattress and the bed frame, and there it lay, dead as a doornail. Diligence has its own reward.)
When it comes to seeking God, only those who truly value the reward of finding Him will succeed. In order to seek Him, Hebrews 11:6 says, we must believe that He is (that He, first of all, exists; and secondly, that He is Who He says He is) and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. He lets Himself be found. He, Himself, is the Reward.
I didn’t need a bounty offered to me to prod me to seek my son. Finding him was all the reward I wanted. I was diligent in my search for him because I was desperate.
Be diligent in your search for God. Feel your desperation for Him and let it motivate you.
You will gain a rich Reward.
Do you struggle with developing self-control in your life? Here are 8 actions steps you can take today.
I was sitting at my desk, reading my Bible in the early dawn when my husband walked into the room. "I hate it," he muttered. He must have noticed my raised eyebrows, because he smiled and clarified for me. "I hate the disciplined life." Then he pulled on his jogging clothes and went for a run.
He had to. He has preached about self-control in our college chapel. So, yeah. He couldn't just blow it off.
The message he preached from Titus 2 was really convicting for me because I have so many pockets of laziness in my life, so many examples of a failure to exhibit self-control. It is something I have been working on and meditating on lately.
A few weeks ago I picked up a thought-provoking book and ended up reading it all the way through. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan suggests focusing our life and our efforts of self-discipline on the area most effective for attaining our goals. I always try to analyze what I read in the light of Scripture, so there were a number of things I found myself thinking about after I finished the book, and one of them was the interesting argument that will power is a myth.
They call it a myth because we often make plans with the assumption that when we are dropped into that challenging place of decision or temptation in our lives, our will power will be there to bolster us up. The stark reality, they argue, is that when we lean on our own will power, we often find it has mysteriously gone AWOL.
We probably find this true in our lives. For instance:
In the moment of temptation, we often fail the will-power test.
But self-control is NOT a myth. It is commanded by God. Titus 2 actually spells out all the categories of people who are supposed to exercise self-control: old men (vs. 2), old women and young women (vs. 5), and young men (vs. 6). That pretty much means everyone on planet earth, right? And if we aren't clear on that, verses 11-12 mention again that "the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us. . .to live self-controlled."
That means me. My husband. You.
But how can we do this? Here are eight suggestions for specific actions we can take today.
8 Actions We Can Take to Promote Self-Control in our Lives
These are eight things that I have found extremely helpful in my own battle for self-discipline. It's a battle I'm constantly fighting.
How about you?
It's easy to get discouraged when we know we have failed so often in the past, but God has commanded self-control. Let's take action today to obey this important, life-altering command.
You and I exist for the glory of God.
Here are twelve Scriptural ways for us to bring God glory this year.
12 Resolutions for Glorifying God this Year
Recognizing that I exist for the glory of God, I resolve to glorify God by. . .
1. Confessing Jesus Christ as Lord.
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
2. Bearing much fruit (as I abide in Christ).
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
3. Attracting the lost to my God by my actions.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
4. Living conscientiously before a watching world.
I Peter 2:12
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
5. Keeping my body morally pure.
I Corinthians 6:18-20
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
6. Living in unity with other believers.
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
7. Advancing God's reputation at the expense of my rights.
I Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
8. Giving beyond the expected.
II Corinthians 8:19; 9:11-13
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.
9. Loving things that really matter.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
10. Allowing God to prove--and improve--my faith through trials.
I Peter 1:7
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
11. Turning insult for Christ into an opportunity for praise.
I Peter 4:16
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
12. Using my spiritual gift to benefit others.
I Peter 4:11
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Here are six resources for helping your children with their devotional life and Bible reading.
Tools for Helping Your Children Read the Bible
1. Use a family Bible-reading calendar.
Make your own or personalize this calendar with your family photo and encourage your children to follow along. We try to make Sunday afternoons a catch-up day for those who may be lagging behind schedule.
2. Give your children a checklist.
Children love to check things off! You can give them a dated checklist with a favorite Bible reading schedule or a simple checklist of chapters in the Bible. It is a delight to watch their progress through the Word of God!
3. Purchase a One-Year Bible.
Some children prefer this method of reading. It gives them a balanced menu of OT, NT, Psalms, and Proverbs. The reading selections are dated, so it is easy to keep track of what day they are on.
4. Provide a Study Bible.
For older children, a study Bible with extra information about the text may be just what they need to answer the questions they have as they read.
5. Use an audio Bible.
For younger children who either don't read yet or who struggle with reading the more challenging words in the Bible, try an audio edition. Older children can listen to the Bible while following along in the text. Younger children could listen while playing (but you need to provide toys without noise).
6. Schedule a time in their day for their devotions.
The older your children get, the better they will become at managing their time. But for most children, it will help them if they have a slot of time specifically dedicated to their personal devotional time. Do your children have a morning routine or bedtime routine that sets aside time for the very important activity of reading their Bible and praying? For some children, time might be the most helpful resource of all.
MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC:
Do you ever wake up in the morning with massive overwhelm, knowing that your To-Do List for the day is much longer than the amount of time you have to finish it? How do you respond to this kind of stress?
Here are four things to do when you have too much to do.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO
1. Give Thanks.
Give thanks for your long list of things to do? Yes. You can thank God that you have worthwhile responsibilities and relationships in your life. Imagine if you had nothing to do all day? It's not as fun as it sounds. There are people in this world who just stand by and wish for a job, for a spouse, for children, for worthwhile activity, or for a goal to pursue. For whatever reason, they don't have that. Maybe they don't have the skills to do a job like yours. Maybe they don't have the education. Perhaps they are aimless, with no goals and no purpose. Or maybe their ill-health prevents them from being able to work. The first thing to do on a very busy day is to thank God for the privilege of responsibility!
2. Spend time with the Lord.
George Mueller addressed this need for busy people when he said:
I look upon it as a lost day when I have not had a good time over the Word of God. Friends often say, ‘I have so much to do, so many people to see, I cannot find time for Scripture study.’ Perhaps there are not many who have more to do than I. For more than half a century I have never known one day when I had not more business than I could get through. . . but I have always made it a rule never to begin work until I have had a good season with God and His Word. The blessing I have received has been wonderful.
Reading the Word of God and spending time with the One who made you and gives you work is the best way to start a busy day. It will prepare you for your work and give you the strength you need for the demands you will face.
What if you don't?
Just as God has dealt with people who didn't tithe by allowing them to put their money into pockets with holes, He sometimes also deals with us regarding our time. Because we haven't spent our first and best part of our day with the Lord, we make foolish decisions that end up sucking even more of our time. Of course, God is gracious and He often helps us accomplish things even if we haven't given Him the first part of our day. But how wonderful it is to go into your day knowing that, although you may have a lot to do, the most important thing in your life has already been accomplished.
3. Ask yourself these Four Important Questions about your To-Do list:
Martin Luther is often quoted as having said, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." In other words, prayer is the key to a truly productive day. Once you have asked yourself the four questions above and thoughtfully deleted, delegated, consolidated, and procrastinated, again take the remainder of your list to God and ask for His guidance in accomplishing the things He wants you to do.
Yes, life can often be stressful and our lists of things to do can be overwhelming. If you find yourself reacting blindly to this kind of pressure in your life, take a little bit of time to step back and look at the big picture. Give thanks. Spend time with the Lord. Ask yourself the four important questions. Then pray and ask God for supernatural help. Continue to pray as you move through your day. You are not omniscient and have no idea what your day holds. But He is, and He is very good at prompting you to do certain things at certain times.
When you take the time to do these things, even though you are very busy, your day will undoubtedly be more productive and less stressful.
Most parents would agree that it is good to read the Bible to--and with--their children. But when you do this, what are you doing to help them understand what they hear?
In II Timothy 3:15, Paul reminds Timothy of the years of Scripture knowledge he has been blessed with. "And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation." Apparently Timothy not only heard the Word of God as a child, but he understood it to the point where he ultimately gained the wisdom that led to his salvation.
Here are six ways we can help our children understand the Word of God:
1. Ask questions to determine how much they understand.
My husband starts at the bottom and works his way up through the ranks of our children when asking questions, so that even the young ones get a chance to guess at the answer.
This reveals very funny misunderstandings sometimes, like when we read about the people of Israel putting off their "ornaments" and discovered that one of our children thought that it meant clothing, because they had gotten "ornaments" and "adornments" mixed up. Or when the Bible said that Moses "pitched the tent outside the camp," and someone thought that it meant that he tossed it out there.
2. Explain challenging words.
3. Pull in cross-references to help with your explanations.
The Bible explains itself. Sometimes all you need in order to clear up a misunderstanding about a verse is a different verse. Check the margin notes in your Bible for possible cross references.
4. Share a story that illustrates the truth you just read.
Or ask your children to share a story. God is real to your family. The same God who wrote the Words you just read is also working His very real providential care in your life.
5. When geography is involved, look at maps and pictures.
This makes it real to your children. My children clamor for the chance to see a map. You can use the ones in your Bible or you can have your spouse look these up on the internet while you are reading.
6. Explain important doctrines as they come up.
When children are young, doctrines like the Trinity can be a little confusing. "Jesus is God and God is Jesus," some of our children would say. We would gently correct them, "Jesus is God; but God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
Songs are very effective for teaching doctrines like this, so add some doctrine-rich songs to your family devotional time. Also, catechisms were created primarily for teaching doctrine, so when it comes to challenging words like "justification" or "propitiation" you could help your children memorize a definition from a theologically accurate catechism.
What have you done to help your children understand the Bible?
To Satan, every day is April first, and every sinner is a fool.
My husband and I are raising a brat.
I'm not referring to my kids. I've made it a point not to call them names, except for pumpkin, goober-pea, peanut, pickle, cupcake, munchkin, and the occasional but necessary sweetie-pie. Anyway, people rear kids and raise animals, as you remember from your ninth-grade English lesson.
No, I am referring to our white, pretty, noisy cat.
We got her to be a mouser (since we are also raising lots of rats, but not on purpose). Kitty disdains that job. She likes her food delivered to her, at regular times, and if we have failed in our seemingly one and only job here on earth--that of keeping her well-fed--she turns into the brat cat. She stalks us from outside, jumping up onto window sills and meowing something terrible. You can actually hear the reproach in her voice as she scolds us.
She has one other negative feature: she believes our house is hers and we have stolen it from her.
The problem is, my husband is allergic to cats. (In the asthma-inducing way, not in the "I want to tie their tails together and throw them in the pond" kind of way). So we truly can't allow her to be indoors.
But she comes in anyway. The moment someone opens the screen door, if they are not watching carefully, Kitty whisks herself inside and hides under the stairs in the back corner behind fourteen boxes of homeschool books.
This especially happens around food time.
One morning I groggily stumbled downstairs to make my coffee just as my husband was taking off for his early morning evangelistic Bible study at a nearby city park. Wanting to be a helpful wife, I stepped outside to shut the gate for him. Kitty was out there caterwauling for her breakfast, so I pulled the screen door closed and shut the gate. Then I turned around and didn't see her. She had somehow wormed her way inside.
Ugh! There was no way I was crawling under the stairs after her when I hadn't even had my coffee yet. So I played a very nasty trick on her.
I grabbed her plastic bucket of cat food and rattled it. Sure enough, within just a few seconds, she slithered out from her cozy place behind the homeschool boxes and came streaking through the door, reprimanding me for being so late with her food.
I set the food bucket back on the shelf and went inside and pulled the door firmly shut. I didn't look out, but if I had, I know what I would have seen . . . A very befuddled white Kitty looking at her empty food plate.
I poured my coffee and went upstairs, thinking about how that was exactly like some of the tricks Satan plays on us.
There we are, cozy and warm, in our quiet place. Happy.
Satan doesn't want us there, so he rattles the pleasures of sin, beckoning us. "Here, sinner-sinner-sinner. I've got some yummy stuff for you!"
When we show up, the plate is empty and he is laughing maliciously. To Satan, every day is April first, and every sinner is the fool.
What makes it worse is that he knows exactly what chains to yank.
He has been around for millennia and he has known us since we were born. Our besetting sins aren't hidden from him any more than Kitty's obsession with food is hidden from me. I will use it against her every time. And I am a kind, merciful person who loves her. (Sort of.)
Satan is not kind or merciful. He hates us. His tricks are not well-meaning. He isn't trying to protect the person who has allergies. He is out to destroy us.
"To Satan, every day is April first, and every sinner is a fool."
Today, when you face his tricks, do it with wisdom. Pull out a verse, a specific word from God about that particular sin you seem to always give in to.
Here are two possible passages to meditate on:
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
PS: To all you cat lovers out there, please don't write me angry emails; we did feed Kitty. That is my sons' job and they do it faithfully. Just not as early as she would like.
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
Want articles like this delivered to your inbox?
We send out occasional updates about recently published articles and books. To receive these updates, please subscribe to our newsletter.
READ MORE ARTICLES: