I often wake in the night thinking, “I’m going to be dead soon!” ("Soon" is an elastic term!) Yes, I realise, not exactly a song in the night, (Job 35:10 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?). But, it forces me to ask, “Am I focusing enough on the all-important issues, which affect people’s lives for eternity?” So, I wake up once again determined to put more time in daily studying God’s Word on my knees (like Matthew Henry did), and to put some beef into private prayer.
A good way to go about Bible reading is to listen daily to several chapters of the Word through earphones. By that method, we can concentrate on the words, and don’t have to worry about finding the place or keeping it. With eyes shut, we find no obvious distractions to actually listening to what God says in the Bible.
This morning I dug out a past method I have used, which follows the advice of the ex-principal of Wycliffe Hall, Toronto. In his summary of study methods, Griffith-Thomas says we should use two Bibles, one for knowledge and the other for spiritual life and power. We need a separate unmarked Bible for daily devotional purposes alone.
WHGT offers the following suggestions for devotional study:
1. Open all such occasions with prayer for the Holy Spirit’s light (Psalm cxix.18)
2. Ask to be guided to some definite thought for yourself.
3. Dwell prayerfully on this thought thus given –Is it a counsel? A precept? A warning? A promise? An experience? A command?
4. When its meaning is clear, use it as the basis of a prayer for grace to realise it in experience.
5. Yield the whole soul in full surrender to its truth and power.
6. Link it on to truths already known, and thereby strengthen the chain of experience.
7. Trust God to reproduce it in your life that day.
This year, I am following Harry Ironside’s daily meditations called The Continual Burnt Offering. (2) For January 29th, he comments on Deuteronomy 33:1-18,. Specifically verse 3:
KJV Deut. 33:3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
This verse speaks of how God relates to us, and how we should relate to Him. First, we are on his heart: Yea, he loved the people. I am challenged by this to love people. Second, we are safe and secure in His love – He looks after us, as He said He would (John 10:28 neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.). Lastly, we need to sit down at His feet, by getting down on our knees before Him. That’s where we are true disciples, like Mary in the home at Bethany:
Luke 10:39 And . . . Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. . . . 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
It is here we learn whatever it is He wants to teach us - away from public view and mere human influences. May God reproduce these truths in our lives today!
Ironside has this lovely little poem, which encapsulates Deut 33:3, as applied:
Low at Thy feet, Lord Jesus,
This is the place for me;
There I have learned sweet lessons,
Truth that has set me free.
Free from myself, Lord Jesus,
Free from the ways of men.
Chains of thought that once bound me
Never shall bind again.
None but Thyself, Lord Jesus,
Conquered my wayward will;
But for Thy grace, my Saviour
I had been wayward still.
(1) Griffith-Thomas, WH (1926) Methods of Bible Study, Moody Press. p. 118.
(2) Ironside HA (1941/1994) The Continual Burnt Offering. NJ: Loiseaux, Jan. 29.
This is 5/52. January Entries 1-4 are dated 3rd, 11th, 18th, 23rd, 29th