Practical Tips for Being a Person of the Word
To flourish in our God-given callings and to flourish on the mission field, the servant of Jesus Christ needs to be a person that lives in the Word of God. In a recent blog post, I wrote about 3 Dangers of Passing Little Time in the Word. Now that we are all aware of some of the dangers truly present for all of us if we are passing too little time with the Lord in His word, here are some practical suggestions for those wanting to hear from the Lord more consistently.
"This is my Son, listen to Him." - Mark 9:7b
How can I listen to Jesus better? How can I hear Jesus more? These are questions that all Christians ought to ask from time to time. Here are a few tips that can help you stay a person of the Word as you ought to be.
I. Remember that Relationships Require Cultivation
If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you know that it's a relationship that you have with him. Any good relationship requires cultivation. Just like crops and vegetables, if you stop watering them, you stop whacking the bugs off them, they wither and die and they often get consumed. That's how it works, unfortunately, in a fallen world. Our relationship with the Lord can wither if we stop pursuing him to learn him and to know him. It's just like a regular relationship. If you're not still seeking to know your spouse, for example, to love them, to know him/her more, to learn him/her, your relationship is likely whithering. We need to keep learning about those whom we love. We cannot exhaust knowing another person. Each of us is like a deep well. There's so much going on inside of us. We are all unique.
How exactly can our relationships whither, (including our relationship with the Lord)?
If we think we already know the other person. Some would argue, "Yeah, I already know Jesus." That may be true, but let us never forget that He's inexhaustible. We will continue to know him all the days of our life and for all eternity. There's more to Him than we can comprehend or ever even imagine.
Relationships can whither when we don't prioritize to simply hang out and be together. Italians are masters at hanging out! It's an art they have. They just hang out. I was preparing this message and praying and I took my Bible down by the lagoon in Venice while looking at the boats. And I was watching these young Italian guys just coming up one at a time. One at a time they just kept showing up. Little by little their group was getting together. They were just hanging out... I thought, "Good night. It's like they just show up and hang out. I'm all about business. I need to schedule my hours. If you want to talk to me, you got to set up a time." Italians are masters at just hanging out. We can learn from Italians that hanging out is an important part of relationships. Are you hanging out with the Lord? Are you hanging out in His Word? Are you meeting with Him? Things to consider.
II. Make Bible Reading a Discipline and a Priority
I know many soldiers and I appreciate their discipline. It is engraved into them and they have to be disciplined, but it's a good thing. As Christians, we need to adapt this concept of disciplined living into our walk with the Lord. We are after all, "disciples" of Jesus, in His school. May the Lord help us all to be disciplined in the reading of the Word.
As a missionary, the thing that has probably helped me more than anything else was when my mentor challenged me early on. He said, "Listen, at six o'clock be up in the Word for a solid hour. Don't do anything else. Don't study. Don't do this or that. Be in the word every morning at 6 am. If you need help, call me and I'll come to help you." The fact that he was going to come to help me and be there, got me jumping out of my bed early. I started doing it, and at first, it was a little bit painful and a little bit hard. But like all people well-disciplined understand, the fruit of my labor came surely. Just like healthy eating, for example, when you start eating well you realize, "Wow, there's a lot of benefit to this". You feel so much better, so much more alive, right? When you begin getting into the Word as a discipline, it may feel like a burden at first, but soon it becomes the happiest hour of your day. It becomes the most important hour of your day. It carries you forward.
It may not be an hour for you, but I would suggest at least 20 minutes every morning. Get your day started well. Be disciplined. Make it a priority, put it on your calendar, and block out time for it. Another thing you could do is make sure your Bible is open and available in your house. Keep it open. Keep in it, day and night meditating on the word. Read different translations, that's a help sometimes as well. Listen at times. It's an amazing thing that today we have servants on our phones, they can read to us the Word of God. You can be part of a Bible study and you should. Read with other people. Lastly, be mindful that the Enemy desires that you don't spend time in the Word. He'll create obstacles and distractions to keep you out of the Word. He knows well that if you abide in the word, you will be well-fed. We are spiritually strengthened in the Lord when we dwell in the Bible, and the enemy doesn't want that.
III. Learn the Art of Listening
In our day, we are all doing so many things. We're bombarded left and right. We hear all kinds of stuff, yet often we don't seem to hear anything at all. To really listen, you have to clear your mind. It's like an art. We must empty our minds (in the positive sense). Try to actually hear what the other person is saying when we converse. Usually, we're listening and we already have numerous things we want to say. Forget it all. Push it aside and listen, hear. We must do the same when we come to the Word of God. God is speaking. He wants to reveal Himself to us. Come, empty your mind (in the positive sense), and let the Lord speak as you read. It's an art.
Pray when you read. Expect to hear from God. Read as if you haven't read it before. This is the word of God. There is truly nothing like it. And lastly, I would encourage you, if you want to grow in hearing from Jesus, listening to our Lord, share what you read with others. Share it with other people. Be talking about the Word. Let Jesus, through his Word, have a place at your table. (More on family devotions/worship HERE). Make it part of your conversation. Sharing what we're reading with other people is how discipleship happens. We share with other people, and they start thinking and looking for themselves. Teach what you're learning to others. Hear what others are learning as well.
The Heavenly Father said, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." In John 8 we read, "If you abide in my word, You are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
Lord Jesus, we come to you and we thank you for your Word today. We thank you for reminding us that you are a God who speaks. We were dead in our sins. We were far from you. Yet you came. You lived for us perfectly, and you died the death we deserve. You rose and you're living now. You reign, you rule, you intercede for your people, and your Word is alive. Help us to be a people of your Word. Help us to treasure your Word as we ought to, to treasure our relationship with you above all else. Let these practical tips sink deep into the hearts and become part of everyday life for whoever reads this post. Amen.
Written by Jesse Schreck
Taken from Missions Incorporated | Episode 259: Listen to Him! | sermon
Related post | 3 Dangers of Passing Little Time in the Word