PROVERBS 16:20, 22: “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord…Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.” ESV
OBSERVATION: Have you thought about your New Year’s Resolution? There are only 10 days until Christmas. The stores are buzzing with activity. The highways are unusually busy. Schedules are cluttered with office and family Christmas parties. And yet something looms in the not so distant future – a New Year!
When all the celebrations are ended, when all the wrapping paper has been cleaned up, there is that week between Christmas and New Year when we begin to reflect on the year ahead. What will it be like? What changes will it bring? What changes in my life do I want to make?
I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. They are usually made and broken within the first few weeks, or even the first few days. Marketers know the cycle and the drill. The next rush of advertising right after Christmas is fitness equipment. This must be the only time during the year when there is a rush to buy these items. And why? It is because of New Year’s Resolutions that are made, but hardly ever followed.
However, there is one New Year’s Resolution that I made many years ago that truly changed my life. It was more of a decision than a resolution. I have always loved the Word of God. Yet, I never found a successful way to read the Bible through in a single year. I had tried everything from reading schedules to the formulated one year Bibles. The problem with all of these methods for me is that they contained dates. When I fell behind, these dates were a constant reminder and became a heavy weight that always won the battle.
Then one week between Christmas and New Year I had a thought. How many chapters are there in the Bible? I looked it up. There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. I then thought – “How long would it take me to read through the Bible if I read 4 chapters a day?” I did the math, It was 297 days. That means that there are 67 extra days in the reading schedule. I could miss a day, and still stay on schedule. This thought gave me an idea!
What would happen if I read three chapters of the Old Testament, and one chapter of the New Testament each day. And then, what if I began to journal and write my thoughts when the Lord spoke to my heart about a key verse of section of Scripture. And, what if I integrated my prayer time and worship time into this discovery period in God’s Word. Through all of these thoughts the L.I.F.E. Devotional Plan was born. And let me tell you what it has done for my life.
- “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”
As I give thought to the Word each day (and yes, I still do miss days), I discover good each day. In fact, I discover God each day! Never before has my relationship with the Lord grown so deep than over the years that I have been using the L.I.F.E. reading plan. As Solomon notes in Proverbs,
- “Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,..”
As I meditate upon God’s Word, as I allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my life, as I journal my thoughts and listen to the still small voice of the Spirit, and as I bathe this with prayer and worship, I enter into His fountain of life. And there is something wonderful that happens. His thoughts begin to become my thoughts. This within itself is the essence of “good sense.” This is what Proverbs calls the fear of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, and prudence.
The first year that I began this plan I barely made it. However, I did make it! Each year I choose a different, unmarked, version of the Bible. Each year I finish earlier and earlier, as it has become my delight, and I do not miss many days any more. I then use this extra time to focus on some key books of the Bible that I feel especially drawn to at this time. You don’t have to buy any special Bible, you don’t need a calendar. All you need is a notebook, a pen, and two bookmarks to keep track of your progress.
“L” stands for LIGHT. I read until I have a light bulb moment when a Scripture jumps off the page and speaks to me. “I” stands for intercession. I take time to pray over this Scripture, and also to pray as I read and as the Lord places people and situations on my heart. “F” stands for forgiveness. One of the key components of abiding in the word is repentance, followed by worship. As the Word of God convicts me, I repent. And receiving His grace and cleansing, I rejoice and worship Him. And finally, the “E” stands for engagement. It is not enough to simply be hearers of the Word, when I journal I grapple with the Word and meditate upon how I can put this into practice.
When I first made this New Year’s Resolution it was a duty. It was hard, but I was determined not to fail again. With the grace of God, this duty saw me through. However, something wonderful happened. This duty became a joyful discipline. And this joyful discipline became a delight. My time in God’s Word, my time in worship and prayer, and my time journaling my thoughts, have become the delight of my life! My day is not the same when I miss this precious time with the Lord.
As I move closer to the New Year I am filled with excitement. What version of the Bible will I read in 2019? What life changing insights will the Lord show me? What breakthroughs and victories will flow from my times of meditations, journaling, prayer, and worship? What wisdom and understanding will lead me into the paths that lie before me?
This year, you can spend a lot of money on a piece of exercise equipment, or you can buy an inexpensive journal and pen, an unmarked Bible, and start of the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure of your L.I.F.E.. I pray you too will discover the pathway, however it is found, into this daily encounter with the Lord. May His Word become your true delight!
In Jesus Name!