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6. Power in Personal Bible Study

Chester Clark III


Helpful hints to help you get the most out of your devotional life – or start one!


Chester Clark III

Pastor, Evangelist, and Educator



  • December 31, 2016
    4:15 PM
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This message was presented at the G Y C twenty sixteen conference when all has been heard in Houston Texas for other resources like this visit us online at W T Y C. When Good afternoon. Welcome to the last women are of G. Y.C. it's a tie. It's always sad to see a high week like this come to an end but we have a lot to look forward to in two thousand and seventeen and I can think of no better way to end a year and begin a new one then being here at G. Y.C. or any of you here just for the weekend. So this is your first seminar you've come to anyone here yes. Several of you. Welcome. We're glad you joined us here for the week and we're glad that we can be a part of what's happening here in Houston and hope next year you might be able to be here for the whole time. Or do I see full time I should say not here in Houston. Today is we begin our study of how to have a personal Bible study that's meaningful and powerful personal devotions we sometimes talk about it. I'm just going to give you some pointers and some tips that hopefully will be helpful for you. I have to make a a caviar I guess I might say here at the very beginning. That if you're looking for some sort of a magic potion. To just make your devotional devotional life. Miraculously unbelievably a Eureka experience every day. I'm probably not going to able to share that with you. But I hope that. I do share with you today is going to be something that will help you to over a process of time have a meaningful powerful time with Jesus in His Word on a regular basis. That's what we're looking for. You know the Bible is sometimes referred to in first Peter refers to the Bible the Word of God as a living in corruptible seed which lives and abides for of or and a seed. Sometimes you know when we plant a seed we don't always immediately see a tree come out right. If you plant in a corner you don't. Overnight just immediately see an oak tree. It might be nice. Sometimes we might wish to be able to plant a seed and just you know the next day we start picking tomatoes or something that's that's sort of our human nature and our. Our you know microwave fast food drive through society that's sort of what we want with our Christianity sometimes too but that that's not the Bible is the Bible a seed and a seed sometimes take some time to germinate and sprout and grow and become a tour and begin bearing fruit and as you spend time with the Word of God you're planting that seed in your heart and one thing we can be one hundred percent sure of that word of God has power to change your life you don't always see it immediately. You don't always feel in fact sometimes other people will see the changes in you before you do. Sometimes we're not even aware that the time we're spinning with Jesus is beneficial but I guarantee the Bible's promise is true his word does not return to Him void. He will. He will have a power in your life change your life as you allow him to buy into. Into a study of God's words let's just begin with the word of prayer as we get started. Father heaven we thank you. We thank you. That we can spend this time the very last day of two thousand and sixteen. We can spend it. Dedicating it to you Lord. We've come here from different parts different places we've come a different needs and different experiences different backgrounds maybe we speak different languages our mother tongue different cultures different homes. Different churches. Lord all of us need you. All of us need a deeper walk with you in a growing walk with you every day. So I just pray that as we spend some time today talking about how to have a powerful personal Bible study experience with you. That you will send your spirit to be here and to be our guide father my words are just human words they have no power but your word. Is the living in abiding word of God sharper than any two edged sword. Unable to wash us from all of our impurities and filthiness we thank you for this word we ask that you would bless us as we study today in Jesus' name amen. So begin with. I'm just going to review if you were here earlier in the week we talked about the Word of God and why it's important fact this goes back to the very first seminar in the six part series that we did this week the Word of God is important in our lives because it reveals to us the character of God All of us have a conception of God All of us have formulated who God is to us in our own minds for many of us that view of God has been formed. Unfortunately or fortunately by the authority figures in our lives by our families by church leaders by people that we looked up to in our own circle of influence at a very early age. We begin to view how God relates to us and we compare it always think that it's comparable to how other people have to have related to us all. I'm just going to say here is that no matter how good your environment or background or authority figures or parents or family have been all of us need to have a clearer and more accurate understanding of who God is and how do we get that accurate. Under. Stand who God is we receive it as we spend time studying the Word of God the Word of God reveals to us the character of God The second thing the Word of God reveals to us. It reveals to us our own character in other words the Holy Spirit is able to speak to us about our needs about our weaknesses about our sins about the things that we might need to grow in as we spend time studying the Word of God That's God's primary means of communicating his will to us is in the Word of God And so the Holy Spirit speaks through that word. We talked about a lot of issues of Revelation and inspiration how God revealed His truth to the apostles and prophets and then how they were inspired to communicate that down to us but the third link which is just as important as how we doubt take this revealed an inspired word of God and the Holy Spirit applies it to our hearts. I like to simplify Christianity. I don't know about you. But I think sometimes we make it far too complicated. There's a lot of people that are worried about not being in the kingdom of God because preachers of complicated the process. They've tried to make a checklist in the you know the the holy club from John Wesley's college days method of a checklist on Monday we make sure we do this in this in this On Tuesday we do this in this in this on Wednesday. Don't forget to pray about that and to surrender this and do this and I think that it's very important to understand that we have to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. That's very important surrender is the one word summary of our part in the salvation process but I like to simplify the knowledge necessary for salvation Also I have come to believe there is a time in my life was a young person very young person when I was worried I was especially worried about the time of trouble any of you who grew up in that his church ever worry about the time of trouble and you're afraid I remember even as a five year old a six year old I think it must've been about that age I remember sort of halfway wishing that my dh. Dad would have a car accident all be killed because then I would have to go through the time of trouble is that terrible. I mean I just saw it wasn't because my parents tried to scare me that started it all. I just had somehow formed this idea of the time of trouble being really really scary and I didn't know if I could manage and and then I started thinking later after I got over that realize that God's grace is if it's sufficient for today. It's a vision for tomorrow. Amen. There's no temptation taken you but such as is common to man and God is faithful who always make a way of escape as I write that the Bible says you see the the issue is this. If we if we overcome today we're going to be stronger to overcome tomorrow. And God's going to allow those things that we have been prepared for to come into our lives to temp and test it. So we'd have to worry about the time of trouble. We need to worry about today being faithful today allowing God to work on our lives today. But then as I got a little older I started to think well how could I ever know enough about the Bible to be ready for those questions of people or ask me I mean the Bible says you'll be taken before kings and before councils and how are you going to the Bible also says you'll be given that answer right there has been to give you that answer but I soon began to realize that it wasn't so important for me to understand every iota about Bible doctrine all the proof texts and all the all the doctrines. What's what's most important for me today. I need to be learning what God wants to teach me today and I'll simplify it this way. OK there are really to be saved. There's only two things you need to know. Number one you need to know who God is number two you need to know who you are. Because if you know who God is you know who you are you will make an intelligent decision about the disposition disposition of your soul. You will be making a good decision about surrendering your life to Jesus Christ those if you want to boil down the most important thing you need to know and so when we have personal devotions when we have personal devotions what are we trying to learn what are we trying to get at what are we trying to mine. Out of the Word of God I want to propose to you this afternoon that the most important thing you can learn from the Word of God is just the two things that you need to know in order to be saved. You see when I have a personal devotional life. My main goal is not to find Bible text that I can use to convince somebody else of the truth of God's word. There's a time for that isn't there. I'm a pastor. So there's a time for preparing my sermon. But I need devotions that go beyond just preparing my sermon. If all I'm looking for is the Bible truth the battle the battle the Baptists so that I can show them the truth of God's word. I missing out on the most important need for Bible study. And that's for me to be converted myself for that day. And for that I need to have God's Word speaking to me about who he is and who I have that's my goal for Bible study. My goal is for me to have a consistent Christian life. Some people ask me why do we need to study the Bible every day. Very good question. My personal experience is that unless in some way I am communing with God on a daily basis. I will have what I call a yo yo Christian experience you've anybody ever played with yo yos they sort of go up and down don't they. They go up and down and a yoyo Christian experience goes something like this. I'm I'm a Christian. I'm a professed Christian Lisa I'm I'm I believe I love Jesus and everything else but I begin to depend upon my own self to get through my day and I think the devil plays these games with us to be honest I think the devil knows what he's doing you think the devil studied as a bit you think he knows how to work this plan. I think he does and I think this way. Does he says oh Chester's Chester is praying a lot today I'm going to back off. Chester's spending time glore depending on him for his strength I'm going back off and so the. Never lets me have a few good days and along the way I sort of start neglecting my Bible study and prayer and because I'm pretty comfortable. Everything's going fine everything's there's no problem. And as soon as I'm depending on my own strength. Instead of God string the soon as I've forgotten who I am and that I need desperately need him today. The devil comes back with a temptation or with discouragement or whatever it is usually temptation then discouragement. And I make a mistake. I see some I had I fall into sin. I I yield to temptation and all of a sudden I felt feel discouraged and depressed. And then I have to go back to the Word of God and ask for forgiveness and and and once now I know who I am and I need to stay close to Jesus and for a few days in the devil backs off in the cycle begins all over I call you a Christian and maybe you've experienced something like that before this is the only way that I know to have a consistent Christian life is to spend enough time in God's Word to know who I am on a daily basis. That is to say I should study and pray when I feel the need to study and pray. I should study and pray when I don't feel the need for study and prayer. And most importantly I need to study and pray until I feel the need for study and prayer. Because that's when my devotions have accomplished something in my life when I realize. Getting up and facing my day that I can't do it and that I need Jesus by my side moment by moment. That's when for me my devotional time with Jesus has been effective and now I can stay with him throughout the day so. The this is why bible studies important to make it very brief we only have an hour here. So I'm going to have to give you four steps for Bible study and we're going to come back to these why. On by one. So you don't have to write them all down right now we're going to come back to them one by one. I'm giving them as an outline here in the beginning the first important step to having a meaningful Bible study time is to make it a habit The second is to make it a conversation. The third is to make it thoughtful and the fourth is to make decisions. This is what we're going to look at we have now only forty five minutes left and so we are going to try to look at these four steps simple enough isn't it. But I hope that it will give you some some ideas that will be helpful for you in your Christian experience first make it a habit second make it a conversation third make it thoughtful and fourth make decisions. All right. First of all make it a habit forming a habit. I believe that our time with God should be a should be a daily experience and I'm going to propose to you that the most meaningful devotional time that you can spend is early in the morning and late at night I wouldn't say late at night. First thing in the morning and last thing at night. That's a better way of saying it first thing in the morning and last thing at night you know the prophet Daniel gives us a good example doesn T. it early in the morning his his window would open the window that faced back towards Jerusalem back to the West and his window would open and he would begin his day praying that tells me a couple of things will come back to some of those are just a minute but one thing it tells me is that he had a specific way of beginning his day he had a specific way of ending his day and that was to begin and end it with God and thinking and communing with God. Now the question is how can we have how can we have a beginning of our day with a devotional thought or devotional frame of mind. Some people say when I wake up. I'm just in a hurry when I wake up I just have to get ready when I wake up I usually don't have any time or I'm half asleep or whatever it is. Listen I put this in a in a certain sequence here what is it what is it what does that say. In slash begin shouldn't be begin and end each day with Shouldn't it be that way. I mean is that the way we usually think. Thanks to the Romans when does our day begin. Midnight right that's when our day begins that's when we think of it. So in the morning we think our day has just begun the Hebrew mind and not think that way. In fact I think God did not intend for our minds to think that way. The Bible says that the evening and the morning were the first day. So right away. I'm going to give you a pointer if you want to have a good devotional life. Remember that the day doesn't begin in the morning the day begins the night before. OK how today goes. Depends on how last night went and how tomorrow will go depends on how tonight goose that's just reality. So if I want to begin tomorrow Well I ought to end today well I ought to I ought to have a good ending to my day. So one of the key points to having a good habit. You're going to have to sacrifice something we live in a in a society where we want everything for nothing. Right. We think we want to have the best of everything without compromising anything and the reality is you're going to have to sacrifice something if you want to gain. What's more important and that is a good devotional life and I would propose to you that if you want to have a good beginning to your day. You need to take notice of how you end your day and maybe you're going to have to make some decisions about going to bed earlier. So that you can spend meaningful time with God before your day begins in the duties and responsibilities of the day come upon you. So I would propose you a couple of things first of all not only go to bed earlier but make it a habit to go to bed with a devotional thought or with a prayer on your heart. If you make this a habit. If you begin praying every night before you go. Go to bed. You will find very soon. That it doesn't even feel normal to try to go to sleep without praying. That's when you know it's a habit. You know I went to Christian school most of my life in the very member the first day that I went to public university to take some classes and I sat down in class and the and the professor came in and he began to teach without having a prayer and it just felt weird. Because it was such a habit for me and I said well if he's not going to pray. I'm going to pray. So I made a habit of every prayer every class. I made sure and said a prayer at the beginning. It didn't feel right. If you didn't. And when I kneel by my bridge bed or or pray just before I go to sleep when I pray at night I am giving my worries and my cares and my stresses to God and you know what I can crawl into bed and I can go to sleep with as peaceful a mind as possible and when something starts coming through my mind is something going on the church or something going on in and that I'm worrying about I can remind myself look I've given that to the Lord I'm just going to let him deal with it is not something for me to worry about at night and I can fall asleep but I can tell you one thing I it just feels weird trying to go to sleep without praying make that a habit now what's the advantage of that the advantage of that is if you end the day with a prayer. It's much easier to begin the day with a prayer. And ask God ask God when you go to sleep to wake you up with him on your mind you know you believe God can answer prayers. If you don't came to the wrong similar because this is about having a powerful experience with God And so you need to ask God simply wake me up early enough to have a time with you and wait me up with a prayer on my heart. Now what's that prayer that you should have in your heart. I want to share with you two prayers. I love these prayers I've memorized these prayers and these are I like nothing more than waking up in the morning and this being the first thing that comes into my mind. No outward observances can take the place of simple faith an entire Nazi. Itself but no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work then the language of the soul will be and here's the prayer. Lord take my heart for I cannot give it. It is not property keep it pure for I cannot keep it for the saved me and spite of myself my weak un-Christ like self mold me Fashion me raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere where the rich current of the I Love can throw flow through my soul that is only a few sentences its long long sentences but you can memorize that prayer and pray it in the morning. You don't even have to be out of bed your eyes only have to be open and you can already be praying and saying Lord save me in spite of myself. Today my week on Christ like self. Remind me of who I am and save me bould me fast me raise me to a pure and holy atmosphere where the rich current of I Love can flow through my soul by the way that's Christ object lessons page one fifty nine the next is from steps to Christ page seventy and it reads like this consecrate yourself to God in the morning make this your very first work. Let your prayer be and hear a very short prayer easy to memorize let your prayer be take me a lord as holy the line I lay all my plans and die for each use me today in your service by service Abide With Me and that all my work be wrought in the. That's short enough and easy enough isn't it. Take me a lord is holy. The high. I lay all my plans that I feed use me today and by service Abide With Me and let all my work be wrought in the this is a daily matter each morning concentrate yourself to God for that day surrender all your plans to him to be carried out or given up as his providence show indicate thus day by day you will be giving your life into the hands of God and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ steps across paid. Seventy. So the first step is forming a habit and the first step to forming a habit is beginning or ending and beginning each day every day with spending time with our Savior. I believe that we have to have a specific time that we set aside for this we need to have that time because if we don't have a specific time. What you're going to find is that you will find things encroaching into that schedule. But first we're going to look at having a specific place a specific place. Now this may sound a little bit too. I don't know mystical or something. But I want to tell you something. I believe that if you want to have a powerful devotional life you need to find a place where you can have a habit of going there and spending time with the Lord that place should be someplace that is free from distractions free from other work that you need to do. And this is this is where I take this from thoughts from the mount of blessing page eighty four have a place for secret prayer. Jesus had selected places for communion with God and so should we we need often to retire to some spot however humble. Where we can be alone with God. Now you might say I don't have that secret place. I don't have a house with a specific place I can only use for that we'll least have the same place that you that you go to to spend time with the Lord. And at least try to make sure that place is someplace that is free from distractions. It shouldn't be a place where you have the your daily work in front of you. There's there's there's there's a lot of wisdom I think to having a specific place as Jesus did. At. Paid to fifty nine says this It was an hours of solitary prayer that Jesus in His earth life received wisdom and power. Let the youth follow his example in finding at dawn in twilight a quiet season for communion with their father in heaven and throughout the day. Let them lift up their hearts to God at every step of our way he says I The Lord thy God will hold my right hand. Fear not. I will help the could our children learn these lessons in the morning of their years. What freshness and power what joy and sweetness would be brought into their lives and young people many of you are young. Many of you you might say well I wish I had started early. You can't start any earlier than now. No matter how young or old we are and this is an opportunity for us to be and learn habits to lay a foundation of spending time with God So begin and end and begin every day have a specific place and have a specific time a dedicated time. For most people I believe early in the morning is the easiest to carve out no it's not easy. It's the easiest it's before a lot of other things are pressing on you. Some people maybe have a different schedule and they can find a specific time during the day that they can dedicate to God But if you have that dedicated time you have to guard it because otherwise something will encroach upon it. Now when I begin married. I began to realize that I had to be intentional about spending time with my wife had to be intentional. There's a lot of people as a pastor they'll call you any hour of the day or night. No problem no complaints there. It's my job. I'm happy to be of service and the minister in that way. However. It's if you're not careful as a pastor you begin to you begin to let other things come up and there's always the urge and the crisis that comes up and it begins to crowd out you know my other appointments now if I have an appointment with the head elder of appointment with a church member to meet for half. An hour and the phone rings. I just ignore it because I'm in a meeting right. And I learned very quickly that it's best for me to do the same thing with my wife. There's times. I'm in an appointment. I'm guarding that time. I'm busy. Will I be free. This evening. No I won't. I have I agreed to spend this time so guarded that time with Jesus right. If we can guard that time with other appointments Why can't we do with the Lord guard that specific time that you set aside and this is listen two thousand and sixteen is ending two thousand and seventeen is is beginning at least if you're here. Do I see listening to this. This is a great time. Maybe as part of your New Year's resolutions. You can sort of begin adjusting your schedule saying this is how I want to change my daily routine so that I can have a better and more dedicated time with the Lord and by the way it takes a habit twenty one days to form that's what they say at least three weeks. If you do if you stick with something for three weeks you will begin to find it easier to do it. And so those first three weeks you have to spend the time I'll be honest with you. I'm sorry to tell you this you probably have already found this out. I think all of you are old enough to learn that it's easier to form a bad habit but it is divorce a good habit right. They say that Bad habits are like comfortable beds are easy to get into and hard to get out of right. For some reason it's harder to form a good habit and easier to lose it. So stick to that three weeks and and see what you can form as a new habit in the New Year. That is beginning. I want to I want to I want to say one more thing about this earlier we read a statement from the Spirit of Prophecy that talked about not only having a a time in the morning in the evening to commune but all throughout the day and so I want to just touch on that idea of spending time with God not just in your guarded dedicated time but but having a mindset that looks for most. Throughout the day and other words I might say my time with God is this half hour this hour in this part and certain time of the day and then a little while. Again in the evening and I might guard that time but what I'm saying right now is that there actually could be. We could begin to so compartmentalize our lives that we think now of some of the time I go with my God. Now I don't need to be thinking about spiritual things again and I want to give you some pointers if you want to really have a powerful devotional life with the Lord. There are some things that you should just try to do throughout the day not just in the morning. Not just in the evening here let me give you some suggestions. Here's a good one. How many of you have heard of audio Verse dot au argy Verse dot org OK most of your many of you audio verse is a powerful tool to keep your mind focused on spiritual things that means if you're driving in the car you can you can tune into audio verse Well we don't tune in. It's an app you download an app as easy as a website or you download the audio verse app that's available on either Apple or or i OS or the Android platform saying Q. and A you download that app and then you have all the seminars and all the sermons for virtually all of the G Y C S of are. Plus whole lot more I don't know what we're up to on audio verse now but it must be something around fifteen thousand or twenty thousand sermons that are available on audio worse if you just have a few minutes. You know you can listen to the H.M.'s Richard's voice of prophecy radio broadcast from way back when and you can listen to him powerful preaching let me tell you you can listen to you can listen to sermons and if you don't have time for a sermon or maybe even for some reason you're traveling you didn't have time your schedule you woke up late. You can even listen to the Bible or books of the Spirit of Prophecy on your app while you're in your car while you're commuting. While you're while you're if you have a waterproof phone case while you're showering do whatever you need to do you can listen to the Bible instead of prophecy and sermons just about anywhere with audio verse so this is a powerful tool that you can take with you throughout the day another powerful way to keep scripture close to you throughout the day is scripture songs and. There's a number of albums you can purchase of scripture songs or you can find them. You can actually find. You can actually find. What do they call the. I don't really use this but my wife does it. So you can you can spot a fire one of those places you can go online and you can have your own light channel. You can you can listen to scripture you can make your own scripture song channel listen to scripture songs. Some of them you might have to sort through but scripture songs are a powerful way to learn bible verses and you'll find them coming coming to your mind throughout the day as you are listening to them and they'll come back to you another powerful tool you might find scripture typer dot com it's and also an app for IOS an android and scripture type or allows you to memorize the Bible and it's a little app that helps you to memorize the Bible. So now when you have a spare moment instead of always checking your Facebook. Or Instagram or whatever. We're addicted to and I say that with all sincerity because I really believe that that we struggle. I struggle with sometimes impulsively turning to these types of things. Instead of always doing that if we would turn to Scripture type or some of these other apps and we could start memorizing a Bible verse. If we only have five minutes or two minutes or a few minutes during the day keep a Bible with us on White said in the past as we read earlier today we have but the Bible on our devices and that's good if we can not get distracted by everything else. Another way to keep our mind focused throughout the day is by taking glow tracks anyone here give out glow tracks in our. This week. Yeah you found. I think you found that if you gave out tracts you probably started praying about those tracks to know about your contacts about your people. So one of the ways we can keep our mind throughout the day is by giving literature out another way is by putting verses or quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy around your house where you're going to see them do you spend time in a certain place throughout the day maybe it's when you're washing the dishes. You can put it right there in front of you and you can have a bible promise or a quotation from Ellen White that is going to you or you can read that you can see there. What it's talking about I worked for fifteen years it washed our heels Academy in college and one things I appreciate every time I go back there is in the bathrooms in front of the sink on the mirror there's a little nicely printed out quotation and over there by the hand dryer there's a little nicely printed out quotation and they change those so you're looking at different bible verses different quotations every listen you're going to stand there anyway aren't you. You're going to be washing those dishes or doing those things you might as well be jogging your memory putting God's word in your heart and reminding you of spiritual things as you go throughout your day. So the first thing is to make it a habit The second is to make it a conversation and I want to just talk to you a little bit about this and Bible study as we go through here if you have your Bibles you turn to John chapter fifteen of the principle that I'm going to share with you here is that don't be so segregated in your bible study in your devotions that you have just a time for prayer and then just a time for reading and then maybe just another time for prayer. I used to do that and I found that it was not always very efficient because I found myself this is what happened. I found myself waking up and praying and then I'd open my Bible and I would start reading. Have you ever read the Bible the words to start swimming in front of your eyes but you've got to keep going if you're trying to get to the end of the chapter. You know I'm talking about. You don't have an idea of what it's a. You're Glasto over and you're reading through the chapter. One of the things that will help you is if you instead of just reading during this time you're reading and praying. You're talking to God and there was your making it a conversation so just to give you a an example John Chapter fifteen we could we could pick up just about any passage but I like the book of John and it's an easy one to talk about. So we'll just start there. John Chapter fifteen and we begin with verse one if I'm reading this from my devotions in the morning and I'm saying I am the true vine and my father is the vine dresser. I am the true vine and my father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit. He takes away in every branch the does bear fruit. He prunes that it may bear more fruit. What am I going to pray to God about as I read this. Well you know it might take a little while for you to start learning to look and comprehend especially early in the morning if you're doing it then and you know used to it but you're going to start saying Lord what are you saying to me in this text the true vine other false vines out there. Lord May I'm Is it possible that I might be trying to convect might connect myself to dead vines that are going to satisfy me. Lord. Am I. One of those vines that are bearing fruit or not bearing fruit. Do you think if you ask these questions that he's willing to speak to you as you continue to study your word. And other words you're praying about every single thought that comes through here. What about pruning it or doubt my prepared. Maybe Lord I want to I want to give you permission to prune in my heart in life today to understand the other stand example I'm giving here we're talking about making a conversation instead of just reading and maybe. Praying at the end through out your Bible study time begin praying about it. This helps us to make it an interactive conversational time between us and God and if you specifically asked God to speak to you through the word. I believe that he will I believe that he can and I believe that he will when you begin praying through the word the verse the chapter goes on Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you by the way that's one of the benefits the word is a cleansing word for number four verse four abide in me and I in you as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine. Neither can you unless you abide in me so Lord. I need to be convect connected to the true vine. I need to be abiding in you help me today to understand what it means to abide in you. You know we're talking about how we should have a we can have a walk with God all day long. I want to tell you one of the one of the people that made a profound impact in my life when I was a youngster was a man by the name of Joe Cruz. Anyone remember Joe Cruz. Joe Cruz was an evangelist been missionary in India and and an evangelist he. He along with some others began the ministry today known as amazing facts that began there and in Maryland. I think it was a start in Maryland and they were there for many years anyway and they joke crews had a book that he an autobiography called the rain rains on my life and as a youngster I read this autobiography of Joe Cruz reigns on my life and I remember something deeply impressed me about the young Joe cruise after he had been converted and gave his. Life Jesus Christ. He said that he read in the Bible. How he was to pray without ceasing. And that really baffled him. How are you to pray without ceasing. He began to realize that this meant not that he should be verbal ie praying all day long but that he should be connected with God all day long. So did so connected that whenever something came up his natural impulse would be to turn to God just like as on lights as the flower turns to the sun right just just natural. That's what it means so Joe crew said I decided that I wanted to try to be connected to God all day long and I'm a young kid reading this but it really profoundly and in impacted me he said you know first I just I just tried it and sure enough throughout the day I came to a point where I sort of forgot I was just busy in my things. But then I would bring myself back and he describes in this in this book his autobiography his experience of seeking to learn to be connected with God all day long. One of the things that we can do is to is to ask God to it. Ask God to help us stay connected abiding We're reading your John Chapter fifteen verse four. Lord help me today to abide in you. Is that a big prayer is that is that a big request. It's not natural for us to abide it's not we take ourselves out we get busy. We remember one time I had a watch. Remember the watches this was high tech back then you know. I could make it beep every hour. Remember those watches you still get watches do that. Mine does more. But I remember after reading that book I said you know what I'm going to set my watch to beep every hour at least once an hour. I have a reminder that I should be abiding in Christ and. Somehow I've become so busy in the frenzy in the activities of the day. That I've sort of taken my mindset away from abiding in Christ every hour I'll have that reminder. So Lord help me today to abide in you. So you see how the Bible study can become a prayer and a study all the same time. All we've read is for versus But it's been a meaningful four verses hasn't it. And just about every passage of Scripture can become meaningful to us as we begin praying about an asking God to speak to us through the word. So the first is to me is to make it a habit The second is to make it a conversation the third is to make it thoughtful. And I'm going to propose to you that in order to make it thoughtful You ought to have a plan for your bible study. One of the things. You know and I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions probably because I'm not a very not very good at following through on New Year's resolutions. But I am a fan for starting new aren't you. And New Year's is a time to start new and so New Year's resolutions the way I think of it. New Year's resolutions is a good time for me to set goals. One of the reasons that I tend to be sort of resistance and New Year's resolutions is because I think it's sort of cheesy to wait until New Years to make changes like why don't we have the first of every month resolutions or Saturday night Sunday morning resolutions you know or maybe even just six A.M. resolutions you know let's not wait till New Years to make the changes in our lives that we want to make OK but the reality is the reality is that one of the New Year's resolutions that I often make is how I want to go about reading the Bible. One of the Mr Richards Sr used to do is he would the very first thing every year he agrees Bible through from cover to cover. I've known others who said they don't want to read anything else until they've read their Bible through for that year. I. I've set that goal. I've not always followed through with it but it's a plan you understand have a plan. And by the way tonight thirty first is a good time to be positive about New Year's resolutions because tomorrow's New Years and you can have a plan for how you're going to study the Bible. This is what the Spirit of Prophecy says Christian education page fifty one passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation of the plan of salvation is evident is of more value than the proofs of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained keeper Bible with you as you have opportunity read it fix the text in your memory. Even while you're walking the streets you may read a passage and meditate upon it. Thus fixing it in the mind. So have a plan to study the Bible in a massage a cool way and I will go I'm going to give you some suggestions. One thing that I found helpful and this has been part of my Bible study plan for the last number of years has been the revival Reformation website that is. That is provided for us by the General Conference and we can't see there very well on the website but right here on the top left there is a devotional button. And. You can see it if you're sit in the back and maybe not even in the front right there is a devotional viewer to click on that a drop down menu comes down and you can either read today's devotional or you can subscribe and that's what I really enjoyed because when I subscribed to that and I subscribed to before it was even made public because I happen to be aware of this being planned and the very first day. This was in St Louis. I think the general conference session in two thousand and ten is that right. As a plan to two thousand and ten and when it was launched they began a plan where you would read the entire Bible through beginning in Genesis one and ending in Revelation twenty two at the next. No compensation. So it was five years. That's a long time. OK but it's a plan right and what you can do if you subscribe is this comes in your email every day and it comes like four A.M. in the morning so hope you don't get up too much before that if you do it's needed. I guess figure out ahead of time what the reason to be but you also have a chart their calendar you can see what it's going to be but it comes in your e-mail. So you don't even have to go look it up. And every day you're reading and now they have along with it a spirit of prophecy reading plan that finished in two thousand fifteen the bible reading plan now they're reading through the conflict as they just Series and the Bible together. And that by the way is one of the best plans that I can give to you if you want to if you want to have a plan for reading the Bible that makes it easy to subscribe. Another idea for making it thoughtful is to keep a journal keep a journal. Some people are good at journaling some people aren't some of us don't naturally like to be very if you sieve with our thoughts and feelings and. Maybe we're more private We're afraid someone would see it and we just don't put it down but a journal is a good way to make you think about what you're reading and also that you can come back later. Remember what you were praying about and what you were impressed about as you were having a devotions on that date read the Bible along with us. Writings of Ellen White this is one of my favorite ways to have devotions and I'll tell you why. Especially this is one of my favorite ways to show people how to have diversions if they haven't been in that habit. If you begin with patriarchs and prophets you will find the story of the of the great controversy starts with paychecks and province moves on the prophets and kings then desire of ages X. the Apostles and great controversy right. It covers all six thousand years of human history from the beginning of creation and the fall all the way down to the restoration of the unit. First without sin in the end right. It's six thousand year understanding of the of the plan of salvation but what you'll find if you start reading paychecks and prophets at the bottom of every chapter in the conflict of ages or at least most editions of it. They have what chapters of the Bible that chapter is based upon. So this is my suggestion go to the patriarchs and prophets begin reading. Begin by reading those chapters it's based upon read them in the Bible and then read them in paychecks and prophets. Now what you're going to find here. It's not like you're just going to a commentary in your understanding how you know Genesis in the fall and all this works. It's an inspired commentary Yes OK This I believe is truth. I believe the Spirit of Prophecy is a is inspired source of truth. But what you see is how she takes the Bible truth not just expands upon it but how she begins to apply it personally to our lives and the conflicts of ages series is powerful applications of the truth of what happened in those days to how we ought to live today. This will teach you not only new things about the passages. But it will teach you the correct method of applying Bible truth to our personal lives today. That is one of the great strengths I believe of studying the Bible in the Spirit of Prophecy together because Ellen White takes those passages and she makes them relevant for me living in two thousand and sixteen or two thousand and seventy. Now I see what that means for me it's not just a story from the Bible and as the I think the more you read the Bible Prophecy together in that way. The more you're going to begin to be able to make those applications yourself as you study the Bible and as you see those stories and passages you will begin to understand how the Holy Spirit works and applying those to ourselves the last point. I'm going to make about making it thoughtful is to ask question. It's now you might make those questions. As part of your prayer to the Lord Lord. Am I. Abiding in you. Did I abide in you yesterday is there something you would have for me to confess. Is there something this passage there's a command for me to obey Henri. An example for me to follow is there's something here that I need to do is there promise for me to claim. Is there a sin for me to avoid. And it wouldn't even hurt again I'm not a big fan of just sort of like a checklist of. Of Bible study like you know like the early days of. John Wesley you know just asking rote questions every day but it wouldn't hurt to have it in your bible is a list of questions that you might ask about any Bible text is there problems from the claims or sin for me to voice their command for me to obey their example for me to follow. Is there you know is there is there something for me to share with somebody else is there is there a sense for me to confess. There's all those questions that you can ask. And as you begin asking those questions you will make your Bible study thoughtful. So it won't just be reading with your eyes glassing over. And when you get to the end of the chapter you don't even remember really what you read. Because you've been asking questions you've been you've been reading the Bible. You've been praying along with it and your devotional life will be meaningful. Now I'm going to say before we go on to the last step. I want to say something very clear. I hope I tried to make it clear the beginning. There are some of you who listen to other people talk about their Bible study experience because someone will raise their hand and church or an investor somewhere and say I was reading the Bible and. It was just amazing. Like God spoke to me and I saw this I'd never seen before and it was just such a beautiful experience and I just left on a high. And you're thinking why does no. It happened to me right. Well the reality is it doesn't happen to anybody. Every time they say the Bible. Sometimes we get that one testimony and we think that that person always has it every day. Well they may just have a very expressive way of saying things every day but I guarantee you it's not it's not as though every single day you're going to find something earth shattering what I want you to understand is that even if you don't see the change happening in your life. God's word is changing your life. It is I don't care if you're reading one verse a day and praying and thinking about it or a chapter a day ten minutes an hour. If you are spending time in God's word he will be working in your life if you're asking him to he will. So don't get discouraged don't get discouraged if you don't come away thinking I had this eureka moment every day know just keep asking God to speak to you through His Word. Make it a habit and I guarantee if you'll do it for three weeks and then if you'll do it for three months you're going to look back in your say this has changed my life this had God has spoken to me I have learned something that is very very very very certain you can be sure of that the last step in having a powerful devotional life is to make decisions. James chapter one in verse twenty two says don't be says Do be doers of the word and not hearers only. He start he says that those who are hearers only and not doers are like those who look at themselves in a mirror and they go off and forget what they look like right. He says it's futile. To spend time in the Word of God If you all you're doing is learning head knowledge we need to make decisions to follow the Word of God. Earlier in our seminar this week we talked about Matthew chapter seven. We talked about making decisions Matthew chapter seven. You remember the how. It's built on the rock and the house built on the sand. What is the one unique difference between these two structures and their outcome. They both heard the word of God right. They both are the Word of God. But the house built on the rock the character built on the rock. He not only or she not only heard but also went out and obeyed. Right. The fastest way to kill your devotional time is to learn things and not act upon them. If you want to not hear God's voice speaking to you then just ignore it when it does speak to you. That's reality. In God's word speaks to us. He asks us to make changes. I don't know what those changes are in your life my life. They're all different. But one thing is very certain. If you want to if I want to hear God's voice speaking to me in my devotions tomorrow. I ought to be Liz willing to obey what he says to me today right now I want to tell you something I want to say this because I believe it to be very very true. Thankfully our God is a very merciful compassionate and patient God. Because I don't know any Christian who wouldn't tell you that they haven't at some point in their life resisted what God was space a ing to them for a period of time sometimes weeks sometimes days sometimes years there is something there life they just weren't willing to give to God. All I'm going to say to you is this. The faster we give things to God and begin obeying what he says to us. The faster he teaches us more things. That's just true. Jesus says I think John seven seventeen if he who does my will will know of my doctrine that is to say that if we want to know truth we ought to obey the truth. We know right. So make decisions. Don't be hearers only but doers of the word already talked about questions we can ask and one of those questions very important. When it comes to making decisions. Is there a command to obey or an example to follow. I remember one of the first event is it series I was working as a viable worker for and we had a we had a young man who was coming he must have been and is mid twenty's I would guess. And he was coming to those evangelist meetings on a regular basis and and one night. The pastor preached about clean and unclean meat and the Bible is pretty clear. You know the law of meats it's pretty clear don't eat them. Don't touch them right. That's what it says. Those pork and camel burgers and all the rest. So when the next night this young man came to the vans that series he says he pulled me and maybe some others aside and this is what he said he said I have a problem. So what's your problem. He said well last night we learned about clean and clean meat and I said yes. So I have. He's even had a hard time sort of getting this out. He said. I have some pork in my refrigerator. I said OK so what's the problem with the Bible says you know it's unclean. Yes but I have pork in the refrigerator. Yes. What do I do. Well he said if I were you I'd throw it away. Nobody said don't touch it. You know what I think it'll be OK if you just sort of. Touch it long enough to put it in the trash. That's sort of I mean it's humorous isn't it. And it might even be cute but it's also inspiring. Because this young man said If God's word said it. I want to. Follow it. I want to follow it to the letter I want to follow it to the T.. I don't want to do something wrong. I want to do what God's word tells me to do. I've often chuckled as I thought of that story but it's often rebuked me too because so often we who know so much. We have a hesitancy to follow the light that we have but if we want further light we walk in the light that we have walked in the light while you have the light for he he who does not walk in the light will be left in darkness. So the four steps that we can have we can follow to a vibrant powerful devotional life are very simple aren't they. I think they're simple make it a habit make it a conversation make it thoughtful and make decisions. I believe that if you follow these four simple steps asking God to speak to you on a regular basis on a daily basis. Praying through what he's telling you on that day having a plan and following that plan if you make it a habit. I believe God is going to speak to you in powerful ways. You may not always have your Reka moment but I'll make you one commitment. I believe you'll have. You will have those days. Re say God spoke to me God answered my prayer God showed me something. God answered my question. We don't become prophets. We don't go around saying you know I was going down the road and God said to me this and that something else but we do have God's Word and God's word speaks to us just as certainly as the prophets of old spoke to people back then. The Holy Spirit will use the word. God to change you. And as you as you spend time in God's word. You may not even realize it. But your perception of who God is will be changing your perception of who you are. Will be changing and remember those are the only things and two things you need to really know on a daily basis in order to have a saving relationship with him. Let's pray Father in heaven. We thank you that you've given to us the word of God we thank you for the chance we have to study it. Or we live in a time when. We have Bibles freely. Others sacrifice their lives in order to have the word in their own language. So Father we just pray that we would value the word that we would value the opportunities we have to study and to learn. We might be blessed as we seek to form a habit in two thousand and seventeen. Or if we've had a habit we want to improve it. If we've studied your word. We want to study it better. If we've grown in you. In the past we want to grow in you more. Because you're a wonderful God. If we would only know you we would love you. That's what you've said so today Lord we just say we want to know you better. We want to love you more. I pray that you'll bless each person here. Each person listening to this short seminar about how to study the Word of God or bless their devotional life with you. Bless them tonight tomorrow morning. Each morning in the coming year. Help them to form a habit. Lord I pray that you'll speak to them that you encourage them and their walk with you that you'll dispel the miasma of sleepiness and tiredness and grogginess and thoughtlessness the devil might try to spell on them just give them an experience in the things of God They might hear your voice speaking to them through Scripture. They might grow and we pray that we might not have many more G.Y. scenes but very soon we can we can be learning more about you faced news of us to have that experience we ask to use this message was presented at the G Y C twenty sixteen conference when all has been heard in Houston Texas see a supporting Ministry of the Seventh Day Adventist Church seeks to inspire young people to be bible based Christ centered and so winning Christians for other resources like this visit us online at W W W dot G Y C Web dot org.


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