Bible Studying :: A Plan of Action

I have a mean case of the Januaries.

I don't want to do the chores, because I'm pretty sure I've already washed the dishes twelve billion times this January alone. I don't feel like going anywhere or doing anything because it's cold and icky in January. I don't feel like doing anything fun at home because all the fun was had in December, and now I'm bored. There's not much to look forward to in February so January seems even looooooonger.

Maybe you too have a case of the Januaries? (Hopefully mild, not mean like mine.)

It hasn't just been stuff around my house, even my Bible studying has had a case of the Januaries.

I feel like it's pretty normal to get into a bit of a rut with your routine, whether at home or with your time with the Lord. Isn't that what New Year's resolutions are all about? Spicing things up, setting new goals, getting excited about possible future accomplishments! 

Last week after I read Mel's post (in case you missed it, you should give it a read), I felt a little spark to my fire. A renewal of interest and excitement for getting back in the Word! Ever since the Christmas season, my efforts have been sporadic at best. I had kept telling myself that when the chaos of Christmas subsided, I would get back into a better routine. But then I got hit with a (mean and growly) case of the Januaries and other usual busyness, and I didn't want to do much of anything at all. And you know how it ends... me, sitting here, writing about how I need to get into my Bible again!

After thinking about this a bit-- Side note: I'm one of those people that painfully contemplates decisions and ideas for far longer than is ever necessary, just ask my poor friends--, I think I am going to go about it like this: Start Planning Ahead. Why I needed to contemplate so long for such a simple answer, who knows!

Plan Ahead! 

Whenever I am overwhelmed by things, or distracted from the tasks that I need to accomplish, I make a plan. Usually I do this one week at a time. My cleaning schedule falls into a weekly routine. I plan my groceries for one week at a time. I even figure out which days I'm going to workout during any given week. I write down a list of tasks for each day of the week, and cross them off as the days and week go on. The question really is, why wouldn't I add my plans for Bible studies to those things? It only seems logical to make better plans to be in the Word more if I do it for mundane things like keeping my house clean.

This is so simple!

It's so simple I'm almost embarrassed. (Okay, I am a little.)

Might you also need a little kick in the pants to get motivated? Would making some sort of plan or goal help you crawl out of your trench?

I encourage you to put a little effort into a plan of action. Plan out your devotion time for the week. Search for a new book you want to read. Read the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday. Enlist a few friends to form a Bible study group!

 Try it for a week or two or three or four even and see if it helps! I'm right here with you, giving it a whirl myself! 

I suspect that we won't be disappointed. Well, I suspect nobody was really ever disappointed by reading their Bible more! But I suspect you won't be disappointed by the process of figuring it all out ahead of time. That little bit of effort will make the actual time spent in the Word that much more productive, intentional, and worthwhile. 

It might be just the kind of new routine you needed to get yourself out of the "Januaries."

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A Fresh Start

This year was the first year my family decided to do a “name exchange” for Christmas. We figured that rather than spend the weeks prior to celebrating the Lord’s birth frantically searching the stores hunting down something for each member of our ever-growing family, we could all perhaps benefit from having less to do and a bit more time to reflect on the advent of our King. Now that Christmas has come and gone, I can look back and say that yes, the name exchange definitely helped to simplify the preparations and it was perhaps one of the most enjoyable Decembers I’ve had in a long time. Although, I have to admit: there is one thing I am missing. Every Christmas since I can remember, the stack of gifts from my parents has included a wall calendar. Call me old-fashioned, but I still keep a calendar at-the-ready in our kitchen and rely on it to keep track of my (and my husband’s when he remembers to write them down) daily events. No gift from my mom this year = no calendar for me.

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This got me thinking: besides that desire to have the illusion of control over our daily happenings and plans, what is it about a brand new calendar, with stark white pages and unaltered margins that thrills me so? I can remember opening this gift at Christmas (we all knew what it was due to the thin square-shape of the package) and anxiously copying over all of our family members’ (and pets'!) birthdays, marking the last and first day of school, circling major holidays…what an odd thing for a ten-year old to get excited about! And now, at the ripe age of thirty, I feel oddly similar. There is something about starting a new year, something about looking at all of those open, empty days – days that are just waiting to be lived – that I find exhilarating. I have never been one to make “resolutions” per say but there are a few aspects of my personal life in which I would love to see improvement over the next twelve months (spending more time in the Word, enjoying more frequent “dates” with my husband, developing more patience and diligence when disciplining my daughters…) and hopefully, with the help of God, I will achieve these goals. I think an appropriate term to describe this feeling regarding the New Year might be “fresh” or “renewed”. And that’s when the following passage entered my mind:

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

~ II Corinthians 4:16-18

Yes, that is it! We do not need to wait until the turning of a calendar page or the start of a new one to feel this way. For the Bible tells us in these verses that in Christ, we are all being renewed day by day! I had stumbled across this Scripture verse this year and haven’t been able to put it aside ever since. In this world of sin (which seems to be getting ever more sinful as time goes on) it is hard not to feel as though we are “wasting away” and therefore, losing heart. But this verse can (and should) serve as a reminder to all of us that we have a fresh start through Christ every single day He chooses to grant us with on this earth. What a comforting thought!

I will most likely wind up breaking down this week and purchasing a calendar at a next-to-nothing price and again hang it on the nail that patiently waits in our kitchen. But perhaps I’ll just have to scribble this verse into the margins on every page as a reminder not to wait until December 31st of this year to feel “renewed”. For I know that I will rush through days without spending time in the Word, find myself too busy to connect with my husband, and probably lose my temper when disciplining my girlies. But I will take heart knowing that I can wake up renewed and ready to start again each day.

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