Drawing Near: The Daily Discipline of Time with God

Selected Scriptures

Tom Pennington  •  March 19, 2006
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Well, I welcome you back this evening. It's going to be a little different than what we normally do even on Sunday nights because I want to take time to really practically deal with the issue of how it is we are to develop the daily discipline of time with God.

This idea began to sort of congeal in my mind sometime ago as I meet with a group of men, and I had the chance just to challenge them on this front in terms of spending time alone with God each day. And I began to realize as I thought about it that this is where many Christians struggle. We all understand the importance of this reality, and yet we find ourselves struggling to actually carry it out. It also seemed like a logical time to address it as we finished last Sunday night dealing with the issue of progressive sanctification, that is the process by which God makes us really and practically holy, and that process centers in the Word of God and in the regular, faithful intake of that Word. And so, this is crucial really to the process of sanctification that we've been talking about over the last several weeks.

I remember as I'm sure you do back to the early days of when I became a Christian. You understand instinctively that you need to spend time alone each day with God. And in those early days there is an insatiable appetite for the Word of God. You cannot spend enough time reading and taking in the Bible, and every page seems more exciting than the one before it, until you get to Leviticus. But as time goes by and the emotional enthusiasm wanes somewhat, and it comes time to put into place the regular practical disciplines of the Christian life many Christians begin to become lax in their pursuit of daily time with God.

And for some they go down different paths. There are those who assume that the right approach is to cloister themself away, open the Bible sort of at a whim and point their finger to a text, and suddenly that becomes the source of their strength for the day. Others always turn to the same passage or passages and ignore 95% of the Bible. For others there is the sort of five-minute reading plan that gets them through the Bible every few years, and that's the extent of their intake of the Bible. There's no meditation, there's no real study, there's no real prayer that relates to that time at all.

And so, there are a lot of different paths down which Christians go, but often those paths are far from fulfilling and more importantly far from God's intention of the time that we spend with Him. So, I want us tonight to step back and look at the biblical priority of daily Bible study and prayer.

How do we know we should do this? It's a vital question to ask. It's not like there's a chapter somewhere in the Bible on having your quiet time, as some Christians call it or having your devotions as others call it. So how do we know that this is to be a regular discipline of our lives?

Well, here are just a few biblical arguments to consider. First of all, turn with me to Deuteronomy 17. I love this passage because it tells us the priority of this in the life of the leaders of the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy 17 long before there was a king in Israel, God through the pen of Moses, laid down certain requirements certain stipulations for how those leaders were to conduct themselves once they came into power. And in Deuteronomy 17:14 you read,

"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, you say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations who around me ...'" [Of course, this day comes much later about 400 years later.] "you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves … not … a foreigner…. Verse 16, "Moreover he shall not multiply horses …" [cause that's going to cause him to lean on things other than the Lord and particularly Egypt because that's where horses came from in those days.] Verse 17, "He shall not multiply wives for himself …" [because as he forms those political alliances with other countries his heart is going to be drawn away from the LORD to the pagan gods. And he's not to] "… greatly increase silver and gold for himself." [In other words, he's not to enrich himself on the office of kingship of Israel.] Verse 18,

"Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests." [Of course, this is long before printing presses. And so, God says, when a man becomes king he must find his way to a priest and he must copy by hand every letter of the law that I have given.] Verse 19, It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel."

Now obviously the stipulation is for the leader of Israel but notice the benefit that comes with this requirement. Verse 19, as he "… [reads] it all the days of his life [he will] … learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes…." That's not merely important for the king of Israel. That's a requirement God has laid upon us as well. And so, it's pretty clear the implication for us as believers.

But in addition, we could argue this that daily Bible study and prayer has always been the practice of the godly. You can go throughout church history and find example after example. It was Martin Luther who said that he had too much to do a particular day not to spend three hours in prayer that morning. This has been the habit of the faithful. Read Augustine's confessions. Augustine writes 300 pages of a prayer to God. They were devoted to study of the Word of God and to prayer. You see it in bible times as well. Of course, God tells Joshua you're familiar with that great verse in Joshua 1 that he is to commit himself to the Word of God, to taking it in, to meditating on it, and to observing it, living it out in his life. Job in Job 23 says that he has esteemed the words of God's mouth more important to him than his necessary food. How many days have you've gone without a meal? Job says I would rather go without food than go without the Scriptures. That pretty well establishes a daily pattern wouldn't you say for most of us.

Then there's Psalm 1. Let's turn there. This is so foundational. Psalm 1, this is the great introduction to the psalter. And in this Psalm we have laid out for us the two paths, the only two ways. God thinks in black and white as well and here are their two paths laid out. There's the path of the righteous, and there's the path of the wicked. And I've known shown you this before, but I just can't get over the reality that in verse 2 God describes a righteous man with only this description. This is the only thing we're told a righteous man does. Verse 1 tells us what he doesn't do. But verse 2 tells us this is how you can know a righteous man. His delight, his desire, the Hebrew word is in the law of the Lord and in that law he meditates day and night. It's a faithful regular pattern of his life. He is absorbed, he is immersed in it. This is what it means to be righteous. This is what it means to be a follower of the true God. It means to have a life that is absorbed in the Word of God.

Of course, you see it in Psalm 119 throughout the Psalm. Turn to Acts 2 because I want you to see that this was the preoccupation of the early church as well. Acts 2:42. After the great ingathering at Pentecost after 3000 people were added to the church in Jerusalem in a single day and others would continue to believe and receive that word but verse 42 says, "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching ... and to prayer." There are our two issues that we are studying tonight. There are of course two others we'll look at some other time. But they were devoting themselves to the Word of God, the apostles' teaching and to prayer. Continually devoting themselves to it. Do those who know you best say that you are continually devoted to the Word of God and to prayer? This is the practice of the godly from the Old Testament into the New [Testament]. You see it in so many places throughout the Scripture. And as I said throughout church history.

Number three: it is I should say a God-given desire for every true Christian. Peter puts it in these words in 1 Peter 2:2. You're familiar with it. "Like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word so that you may grow in respect to salvation if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." He says, listen if you're a believer if you've come to truly taste of the kindness of the Lord of His grace then you're going to long like a newborn baby longs for milk you're going to long for the pure Word of God. This is natural for us as believers. You don't have to be taught to long for the Scripture. A baby doesn't have to be taught to long for its mother's milk. It's part of who it is; it's part of how God made that child, and it's part of how God made us. It is a God-given desire in the heart of every true Christian. We all feel that as one friend of mine said or office mate of mine when I was in seminary. He had the habit of saying to the students that came in to talk with him. He said, you know what? When you miss time with God each day, you shouldn't merely feel guilty, although you should because it is a requirement God lays upon us, but more importantly you should feel hungry. That's exactly right. It's the God-given desire of every true Christian.

Number four: Christ regularly rebuked people for not reading or not knowing the Scripture. And not merely the leaders. You remember on the Emmaus road He rebuked them for not really grasping, not having meditated on and grasped the true significance of those Old Testament passages about Himself. He anticipated and expected that believers would do this. You can see it in these texts that I've put up here tonight. Paul commanded Timothy to immerse himself in the study of, the teaching of Scripture for his own advance and his pursuit of godliness. And the daily discipline of prayer and exposure to the Word as we learned the last few weeks results in sanctification and spiritual progress. John 17:17, "Sanctify them through the truth. Your Word is truth." 2 Timothy 3 you're very familiar with. Let's turn there because there are sometimes we are so familiar with a verse we don't even really see it. Second Timothy 3:14, he's just told us that evil men and imposters, false teachers, are going to get worse and worse as time goes along, deceiving and being deceived. Verse 14,

You, however, Timothy continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of knowing from whom you have learned them, … that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

He says listen, you have been taught from your earliest childhood by your mother and your grandmother that you know now the Word of God and here's what you have learned. Not only have you learned about the salvation that comes through faith in Christ Jesus.… He's talking here about the Old Testament "now remember". But verse 16,

All Scripture .... [of course that includes not only the old but the new as well] ... is inspired by God, [is breathed out by God] and [is therefore] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; [literally child training] ... [in order] … that the man of God ... [and there's a technical term for those who serve God as His servants, but it certainly includes lay people as well and the concept here] ... so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

How do you get there? Paul says you get there through the Scripture. So, this gives us a little bit of the biblical argument.

Now, let me move on to you understand that, and I've probably haven't told you anything new there, but let's move on to some very practical issues. And again I know tonight's going to be a little different than most. But forgive me for that. And those of you who are know can come back another Sunday night and get a taste of what we normally do but just some practical things. And these flow out of my own life as I have learned some things and developed these things and read. They don't just come from me. A lot of this I have read and picked up in many other places through the years. So, when do you commit yourself to this practice, this daily discipline?

I would encourage you to schedule time as part of your first morning activities. There are very few people who can do this at the end of the day. Very few. Like maybe you can count on two hands. Most of us are more alert, more capable, of focusing in the morning. If that isn't true of you, then try it in the evening, but if I'm right, then change to the morning when you discover you can't. But schedule time as part of your first morning activities. Schedule is the key word. And as I have told you often this requires discipline at night. Your time in the Word of God and in prayer in the morning begins the night before. If you don't get to bed on time, then you're not going to get up when you want to get up. I know that from experience. I can tell you there was a time when I had the best of intentions. I'm going to get up and spend time in the Word of God. But I stayed up too late. So, one of two things happened the next morning. Either I hit the snooze button about four or five times and rolled back over. Or I got up out of sheer will power and discipline and promptly fell asleep. So, an effective time in the Scriptures and with the Lord in prayer begins the night before by getting to bed at a reasonable time. If you're like me most of those evening hours are wasted anyway. Very few people are really productive after nine o'clock in the evening. Again you may be the exception but for most it's wasted on frivolous entertainment or other things. So, schedule time.

Secondly, choose a time that is available and workable for you most mornings. Now here's where you have to determine what works best for you. But look at your schedule, look at your calendar and choose a time that is available and workable most mornings. My schedule is such that for me most mornings somewhere around six o'clock is a good time. That usually works for me. For you it may be earlier, for you it may be later. Whatever it is, find that time that's normally available and workable most mornings.

This is crucial. Then choose a place. It's important, I think, to have a regular place that you go where you can really focus and you become used to working in that place. Choose a place that is quiet and light but not too comfortable. Don't choose a lounge chair or your bed. I can promise you what will happen if you do. You will not have a very productive time in the Word of God. It needs to be reasonably comfortable, but mostly it needs to be quiet, and it needs to be light because that will get your mind and body stirring.

Set a target time to begin and end. It's important I think to not start off not knowing when you're going to begin and when you're going to end. There needs to be some sort of a target. You don't have to spend three hours in the morning, you don't have to match Martin Luther. You just need to begin to practice this discipline. So, start with a reasonable goal. Maybe for you it's half an hour. Maybe for you it's an hour. Whatever it is, set a reasonable beginning target and end time. And be flexible. There'll be some days when things will come up, and you won't be able to have that time at all; maybe an emergency phone call, maybe an emergency at the house. And you have to catch as catch can somewhere in the day. That's ok. That will happen. Other days you may have to take a shorter time than you would like. Don't have the all or nothing mindset. You know, the sort of, well I can't spend three hours so I'm not going to spend a minute. Be flexible, and if your schedule doesn't allow the normal time that you've allotted, then use less time. But get into the habit and the practice of scheduling some time each day. And make it the same time as best you can, so you get that consistency. You get a habit. I've told you before that those who observe behavior tell us that it takes about six weeks to establish, six to eight weeks to establish a new habit. And if you continue that habit for six months it will become a part of who you are, and it will be uncomfortable not to do it. So, all we're talking about here folks is having enough discipline to do this thing for six months. And after that you will be uncomfortable not doing it. I can tell you that by experience. I've been on both sides. I understand. And I'm telling you that once it becomes a part of who you are, it will be uncomfortable not to do it.

Some of you are and were raised to be fastidious about certain personal hygiene things. In fact, some of you were just weird about it, actually. But that is so much a part of who you are that it feels completely unnatural not to do that. Not to floss your teeth for the 18th time that day. The same thing will be true with getting the discipline of being in the Word of God. There will come a time when you have become so accustomed to it that it will feel uncomfortable, your soul will be so hungry, it will feel so unusual not to have had it. So, all you have to do is resolve yourself to put in the discipline for six to eight weeks just to get it really established and then another few months to have it part of who you are.

Alright. So, now let's move on to the essential elements. What should this time with the Lord contain, what elements?

Well, first of all, and this is obvious, but let me just say it, Bible reading, exposure to the entire content of Scripture. God has spoken to us in a pretty long book. And it's important for us to have exposure not to just little pieces of it here and there but to the total sweep of what God has given us.

Second element is Bible study. This is disciplined regular in depth study of a particular book or passage. It's not enough just to pass your eyes over the words on the page. Remember Psalm 1 verse 2? "In His law he ..." what? "…. meditates day and night." There is an in depth study and dealing with the text that happens. And only then do you really mine its riches.

Third element is prayer. This involves both interjectory prayers of the moment; you know the kind of prayers you're praying when as students you're about to take a test, "God please help me on this test that I haven't studied for." But also it involves scheduled times throughout the day in which to pour out your heart to God. I challenged you with that last Sunday morning. Setting aside at least three times a day when you purposefully get alone with God and pour out your heart before Him.

It also includes music. Music is the spirit-filled expression of praise in song, in the heart and with our voices. You know what fascinates me is in both Ephesians and Colossians when Paul teaches those churches what it means to be filled with the Spirit. What it means to have a life that is permeated by the Spirit which really means a life permeated by the Word of God. That the first expression that being filled with the Spirit takes is not some miraculous gift. It's music. It's speaking to yourselves in your own heart, making melody in your heart and speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We have a whole book that's a hymn book in our Bible, and there are a number of other songs scattered throughout. Music is an important part of the worship of God. There will be music in heaven. There is music in heaven even now as we speak and there will be forever. So, we better get our voices tuned and our hearts used to expressing ourselves to God in music.

And finally meditation. The choice to think deeply about our Lord, His works and His Word. Those are the essential elements I believe of time alone with God each day.

Now, let's look at a possible order. What kind of flow should it take? And this isn't inspired. This is just a reflection of my own heart and mind and some things that have been useful to me. I would encourage you to begin the time with a brief time of prayer. You're going to come back to prayer later, but just begin by acknowledging your dependence on God. I've told you before that I often will stand because if I early in the morning if I kneel, or if I sit, I have a level switch in my body, and if my body gets beyond a certain level of prone I go to sleep. And so that doesn't help. So I stand. I also often will pray with my eyes open. It's nothing wrong with that biblically. It allows me to focus, and so whatever it takes for you but begin your time with a brief time of prayer.

What I do and encourage you to do is read a prayer from the Valley of Vision. Valley of Vision this is you can't get one of these, but there is a version of this that is available. This is a special copy I got, but you can get a version of the Valley of Vision; it's in our bookstore. It's a collection of Puritan prayers put together by Arthur Bennet. And I'll use it just as a starting place for my own prayer. What I like about it is we get in ruts, don't we? In terms of our prayers. But what these prayers do is they take us outside of our times. So now, we're thinking in a fresh way. The thoughts and expressions of the ages come rushing in with freshness into our souls. Let me just give you an example. This is a prayer that I find myself praying, and some of you have heard me share it before. But I find myself coming back to almost every Sunday. This one is called "A Minister's Prayer" but this will just give you a little piece of my heart.

Oh my Lord, let not my ministry be approved only by men or merely win the esteem and affections of people but do the work of grace in their hearts. Call in … [Your] elect. Seal and edify the regenerate ones and command eternal blessings on their souls. Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking. Water the hearts of those who hear … [Your] Word that seeds sown in my weakness may be raised in … [Your] power. Cause me and those that hear me to behold … [You] here in the light of special faith and hereafter in the blaze of endless glory. Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself. And help me to experience the power of … … [Your] dying love ... Look upon the doubts and discouragements of my ministry, and keep me from self-importance. I beg pardon for my many sins, omissions, infirmities as a man and as a minister. Command … [Your] blessing on my weak and worthy labors and on the message of salvation given. Stay with … [Your] people, and may … [ Your] presence be their portion and mine. When I preach to others, let not my words be merely elegant and masterly, my reasoning polished and refined, my performance powerless and tasteless. But may I exalt … … [ You] and humble sinners. Oh, Lord of power and grace, all hearts are in … [ Your] hands. All events at … [Your] disposal. Set the seal of … [Your] almighty will upon my ministry.

That's one prayer for a minister with an entire book of prayers. Many of them devoted to repentance and confession. Many of them devoted to praise. And I find my soul refreshed here. I go here first every morning, and I encourage you to consider it. At least look at it. Take a look at it in the bookstore, but it's a great resource and tool. So, I start with a brief time of prayer often reading one of those prayers and letting that serve as I said as a sort of starting place for my own prayer.

Then I like to reflect on a Psalm. I start by reading a Psalm, and then I refer to a steady resource to make sure that I'm sure what the Psalm teaches cause it doesn't matter if I'm making the Psalm say something if God didn't intend for it to say. So, whether it's a good study Bible, or whether it's another resource, I often use and have with me the Derrick Kidner/Tyndale commentaries. They're very short and concise. You don't want to read like 18 pages before you get to understanding the Psalm so I'll check out either a good study Bible, or I'll use Derek Kidner; it's a two volume set on the Psalms. Very helpful little resource. And I'll just make sure that I understand what the Psalm means. And then I'll pray and meditate through the Psalm. Once I'm sure I understand what it means, I'll pray and meditate and I let what I have learned particularly about God drive my praise and confession.

When you go through the Psalms, let me challenge you to do something. Look for everything that the psalmist says God is. God is … and watch those descriptive words. Or when it says God does or God does this thing. God acts. What is it that God is, and what is it that God does? As you go through the Psalms look for God. And let what you learn about God in that Psalm drive then your meditation and your praise and your confession.

Let me just give you an example. Turn back with me to Psalm 16, and I won't take long here because we have got other things we need to do. But let me just give you an example real briefly. Here's David writing. Now, if I were going through this Psalm first of all I would read it, then I would break out my little Kidner commentary or study Bible and sort of get the big picture. What's going on here? What is the primary emphasis of this Psalm? And then I would go through looking for God. Let me just give you an example.

Verse 1 says, God is a refuge. Verse 2 says He is our Lord, He is our good. It goes on to say in verse 5, He is the portion of my inheritance and my cup. Those are metaphors. You've got to find out what those mean, but those are descriptive of what God is to you and to me. Then notice what God does. You support my lot. What does that mean? Try to find out what God is and what God does. Verse 7 "The Lord has counseled me." He goes on to say that verse 10 and of course this is about Christ ultimately and exclusively, but it has ramifications for us as well. God doesn't abandon our souls to Sheol. He will make known the path of life. He will give us fulness of joy in His presence, and He'll give us pleasures in His right hand forever.

Just look at what you learned about God in those few verses. Look for God in the Psalms, and use that as an expression then of praise to Him. Think about that. Think about what He is, who He is, and what He does.

Let's move on. After that brief prayer and after a reflection on Psalm, I will read a significant portion of Scripture. I would encourage you to establish a workable plan to read through the Bible in a year or two years depending on how fast you read. You say, I don't think I can do that. Well, think about this for a moment. If you were to start at Genesis and read out loud through the Bible it would take you about 70 hours to do that. That means that if you were to devote 15 minutes a day reading aloud which most of us read more slowly than we read silently, it would take less than a year. Donald Whitney suggests several practical approaches to read through the Bible. One is simply to read three chapters daily and five on Sundays. Another is to read an equal portion from different sections. He recommends from five different sections: begin at Genesis as one section, begin at Joshua for history another section, begin at Job for poetry and Isaiah for the prophets and Matthew for the New Testament. And read an equal number of chapters each day from those sections, and you'll kind of sweep through the Scripture together. Read an equal number of chapters from three sections of Scripture; Genesis, Job and Matthew would be where you would begin to make that happen.

There are also a lot of good reading plans available. You can get a daily Bible; you can find a number of those at christianbooks.com. There's a good reading plan in the MacArthur Study Bible if you have that. Or with the journal that I'm going to tell you about tonight there's a good reading plan included as well. But regardless you can read through your Bible. You can get that sweep. Now you may choose to do that with your time with the Lord alone or you may choose to do it separately; that's up to you. I do it with that time, but you can choose whatever you like. I use different translations just because some translations are more readable than others. I like the, in addition to the New American Standard, I like the English Standard Version which is more readable.

I will read from, and sometimes I use even the NIV when I'm looking at that sort of sweep of Scripture. It's not a great translation for study because they it's a dynamic equivalence translation which is another issue I won't get into but basically they're just taking the thoughts from the original languages rather than translating word for word. And so I don't like to study from it. I wouldn't recommend you. But just to read to get the sweep of the flow you can do that in these various translations. I would encourage you not to do this large massive reading in a study Bible. Because if you're like most people, you're going to get distracted with the notes. You'll be looking down every verse you know to see what the note says. So, read it from a text that doesn't have notes so you get the sweep. Read quickly to gain the sweep of biblical revelation to increase your knowledge of the biblical content and to be confronted with the major themes of Scripture. And I encourage you to use a schedule that is not tied to specific dates, and I'll tell you why. I've tried that, and if you miss a day or two, it's hopeless. Just give it up. Walk away and start next January. Instead, what's a lot better is to just have a plan that carries you through to the next passage. So if you miss a day you pick up where you left off, and you don't feel like you're neglecting Numbers or Moses or whomever. I know Moses isn't a book I mean as an author. I just want to make sure you knew that.

Another part of the study, and it's taking me probably longer to go through it than it does to do it but is to study a paragraph of Scripture. After I've read a large section then I study a paragraph of Scripture. In addition to reading a Psalm, reading through the Bible you need to set aside time to really study a biblical book or an extended passage. And I'm going to give you some tools to do that. I'll talk about those in just a few minutes.

And then you need to really pray. I would encourage you to finish with an extended time of prayer and as I've encouraged you one of the times of the day follow the pattern of the Lord in the Lord's Prayer. By the way don't feel confined by that. Some of you are legalists. You know feel like now I just have to do it that way. No, it's a pattern. It's to help. It's to guide your mind down various pathways that sometimes we don't go down. So, use it as the Lord intended it as a pattern, as a tool, not as a legalistic restraint on the expression of your heart to the Lord. So, let's look at a summary now that we've gone through all of that. Begin with a brief time of prayer, reflect on a Psalm, read a significant portion of Scripture, study a paragraph and pray. Again you may want to move the reading of the significant portion of Scripture to a different part of your day. But this is what I do together as a package.

Now, I have been working as I told you for several months on a little project to make this easier for us all. On a little journal: simply called it "Drawing Near." It's a sort of spiritual journal and in it, and it's available tonight; I'll tell you about it. I'll give you some pictures of it just to kind of give you an idea of what's in it. There are some tab dividers, one for Scripture and then a sub category of reflections in the Psalms, a year's reading plan and Bible study and then another major divider is prayer. You won't have these tonight, but I'm working on and will have finished since now that I've finished the Lord's Prayer there will also be behind the prayer divider some sub dividers for each of those six categories that we learned where you can write specific requests in each of those categories. Then there is a major divider for music and praise and then finally for meditation. Now, oh and finally, sermon notes actually. And yes the sermon note pads that are in the back of the pew fit into these notebooks. They fit and are punched as well.

Let me just give you a feel for this. By the way I'm not selling this. Let me just tell you how this works. We have put this together as a help. We are going to make it available for a suggested donation. With the notebook it's ten bucks with all the stuff that goes in it. If you don't want that you've got a notebook, the divider package is just five bucks. You can get it in the bookstore. So it's not, and if you don't have that, fine. You talk to us. We want you to have it. We're not after your money here. If you don't have the resources to do that, we want you to have it. But it's just available as a help. Let me just give you a little bit of picture of what this looks like. And these pages aren't exactly to scale because I had to get them on the PowerPoint, but you'll see them. It begins with an introductory page, obviously for your personal information. And then there's a tab that goes through what I just went through with you. It kind of lays out that schedule that I just talked about. Everything that I just showed you is on one of those tab dividers.

And then there's a sub tab that has reflections in the Psalms that talks about how it is you can benefit from the Psalms; the effective use of the Psalms and I go through how to do that. Some study resources for the Psalms just to help you as you try to make sure you understand what it is the psalm is saying. And then this is really helpful to me, a lot of times you want to use the Psalms, but you don't know where to go for the need of the moment. So, I put the Psalms into some categories to help you find the Psalm that will uh most be an expression of your heart at that moment. Some of the Psalms fall into hymns of praise and thanksgiving. Others are penitential Psalms, others are wisdom Psalms, struggles with life and wisdom in life. Some are individual and corporate laments out of various troubles, cries to God out of various troubles. You ever find yourself there? Some are pilgrimage psalms which were originally sung by worshippers to prepare them on the way to Jerusalem for worship. So, they really are preparation for worship. And then there are some that point to Christ as sovereign ruler, royal or Messianic Psalms that really draw our attention to Christ. So just some categories to help you think that through.

Then there will be some sheets actually tonight you'll get one sheet because we didn't have time to reproduce as many as we needed, but we'll try to make these available in the future in the bookstore or you can make copies all you want. But on one side it will say Who God is, and here you're to list every adjective used to describe God in a certain Psalm. On the other side what God does; list every action God takes. And you'll find this as I've already shown you to be a great source of encouragement as you go through each Psalm. Yet another tab talks about this reading plan. And behind that tab there are, this is, you can't read that obviously but that's just to show you what you'd be seeing. There's a sample reading plan for the Old Testament and the New Testament. You may choose to use this one, you may choose to make your own, you may choose to take some of those examples I gave you from Don Whitney. But that's up to you.

Then we go to Bible study. We're still under Scripture here. Bible study. And here's a sort of reviewing of the whole process of Bible study. You can get it on one page in 10 point this is what you do. This is what it means to study a passage and then behind that tab there will be pages that go into a little more detail. Essentially this pulls out of the teaching seminar the exegesis part of it that I've done here at the church several times and sort of puts it in brief form for you to use. This is how you study the Bible. It's how I study it every week, and it's how I would encourage you to study it. And just some simplified form that you can I think understand and follow even if you haven't had Greek and Hebrew ok?

Then there's a prayer tab. This is a summary of some of the big picture things we studied prayer. And my intention then is to have as I told you within the next several weeks, I hope to have them by the night of Easter because the night of Easter we're going to have a special praise and prayer service. I'm going to show you how to pray through the Lord's Prayer. We're going to do it together. How to use it as a tool, as a pattern, and also, we'll have, Lord willing, these pages available for you then too to stick in your packet if you're getting these packets as well.

Then the section on music and praise is just some basic information about music and praise and then the daily use of music, how do you use it? And then some resources including some places where you can find lyrics for contemporary songs as well as for traditional hymns so you can learn them and memorize them. I encourage you to do that. And we've included a couple of songs for you, a traditional hymn "O Worship the King" for you and your family to be learning together if you don't already know it. Our family has learned this great hymn, and I would encourage you to do that with your family, and we'll sort of regularly fill you in. Seth and I have talked about giving you yet another hymn to learn. We'll learn it together and really being to memorize these lyrics as opposed to always looking at them on the screen or in the hymnbook. And so that's the goal. Also, on the backside of that there's the song that we sang this morning. The lyrics for it which are wonderful and beautiful, "How Deep the Father's Love For Us."

And then finally there is a tab on meditation. This basically stands alone, but it deals with the issue of how do you meditate on Scripture? Very practically, what is it, what are the biblical words, what are the results that you can expect, and how do you practice it? Because that's such an important part of our time throughout the day once we have studied God's Word meditating on it day and night as the psalmist says. So, these are some tools provided.

And then the last tab is for sermon notes. You can stick as I said those little sheets of paper that you fill in your notes there if you do that behind it. So, it's just a tool. I don't know. I trust it will be helpful for you. That's my desire. If it's not, fine. I hope you'll take what I've shared tonight that is helpful, and you will use that. But if the tool itself is helpful then we have them available after the service out in the back, and you can go and take a look. You can get some of you sound like you already have it. I hear the clicking that's the sound, but again my heart here. So, you know my heart here is to encourage you as I encourage myself to spend time daily with the Lord, the daily discipline of time with God, and that means being in His Word, and it means being with Him in prayer. There is no magic formula as we have learned in sanctification. There's no switch you can flip, no button you can push there's no spiritual "star trek machine" that will beam you from spiritual mediocrity to spiritual victory in a moment's time. The way the Lord does it is primarily through the Word of God. And so that's why it's so important for us to be in God's Word faithfully every day. I trust that this will be an encouragement in that direction. That's my prayer.

Well, let's pray together, and you can go and look at those. If you have any questions, see me. But Seth is going to come as soon as I close in prayer and lead us in a song, and then you're free to go. But I trust something we've dealt with tonight will be an encouragement. Again, an unusual sort of discussions, more of a family chat I guess than teaching, but I hope it's been helpful.

Let's pray together.

Father, we love You. And we love Your Word because You have put that love within us. We love to spend time with You.

And Father, I pray that You would use our time together tonight to excite yet again in all of our hearts an eagerness and a diligence to pursue You. Lord, keep us even in our pursuit of Your Word from pursuing only knowledge, but help us instead everywhere we look to pursue You, to look for You, to look for Your Son, and to be absolutely carried away, to be overwhelmed by the weight of Your majesty and Your goodness and Your power.

And Father, I ask that You would help us as Your people to be utterly devoted to Your Word and to prayer. And may it be true on a daily basis. Give us the discipline, Father, to develop this habit so that it can become the habit of a lifetime. We pray it not for ourselves, and not for our own smugness, not for our own pride or even for our own knowledge.

But we pray it for Your glory and that we would better reflect Your Son in Whose name we pray. Amen.