Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
As Christians, we desire a closer relationship with God. Whatever our experience was last year, thank the Lord, we can freshly give ourselves to daily pursue Christ this year. At the beginning of this new year, we thought we’d share seven ways for us to have a new beginning with the Lord.
The points below include inspiring and motivating quotes from well-known Bible teachers, preachers, Christian workers, and authors.
1. Love the Lord Jesus
“If you would learn to appreciate Christ more, read this book [the Bible], frequently and prayerfully.”—H.A. Ironside
To have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, it’s essential that we love Him. And our love and appreciation for Him issues from our knowing Him and what He’s done for us. The more we know Him by reading His Word, the more we love Him. We can start this new year by asking the Lord to renew our love for Him and to give us a deep longing for Him in His Word so that we wouldn’t be satisfied until we find Him, see Him, and touch Him in His Word. This is a prayer the Lord will gladly answer.
2. Spend time with Him
“I never have seen a man or woman who spent fifteen or twenty minutes alone with God every day that didn’t have the dew all the while. I have never known one to backslide, either.”—D.L. Moody
We simply need to spend time with the One we love. There is no substitute for quality time spent alone with Him, free from distractions, especially early in the morning. By spending time with Him first, before we get involved with the affairs of our day, we’ll experience Him as the refreshing dew in our fellowship with Him. It’s only by taking time to be with Him that we’ll know Christ, grow in our relationship with Him, and grow in His life.
3. Feed on Him in the Word
“The ‘good food’ is…the food of the Word of God, for as food builds up the tissues of the body, repairs waste, and preserves us in health, so the Word of God is the complete food of the soul.”—W.H. Griffith Thomas
The Bible is our spiritual food. In Jeremiah 15:16 the prophet said, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word became to me the gladness and joy of my heart.” We must daily come to the Word hungry to taste and enjoy God, to eat and drink Him, and to be nourished and satisfied by Him. Feeding on His Word in this way imparts His life into us. If we don’t have an appetite for God in the Word, we can simply ask Him to give us one.
4. Come to Christ in the Word
“Points of truth however interesting, scriptural knowledge however profound and extensive, Biblical criticism however accurate and valuable, may all leave the heart barren and the affections cold. We want to find Christ in the Word; and, having found Him, to feed on Him by faith.”—C.H. Mackintosh
When we come to the Bible merely for knowledge or guidance, it’s very possible to miss the Lord. The Lord Jesus said in John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me. Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” When we come to the Bible, we must come to contact the Lord Himself and turn our heart back to Him. We should not separate the Word from Christ, but come to find the Lord in His Word.
As we find the Lord in the Word, we can talk to Him about what we’re reading. We can also confess our sins to Him as His light in the Word shines on us. We can sing to Him, praise Him, and worship Him with what we find in the Word. Our time reading the Bible should be a time of fellowship with the Lord.
5. Linger on small portions
“For all reading should be joined with meditation and prayer. Read a little, pray and meditate much.”—John Wesley
Often we try to read too much at one time, or we read His Word too quickly. This isn’t the healthiest way to take in the Word, just as eating a huge meal too quickly isn’t so healthy for us physically. As with physical eating, it’s much better spiritually to take a small portion, chew it, and even digest it by prayer. When we chew on the Word in this way, it nourishes us and “sticks to our ribs” throughout the day.
6. Read the Bible with prayer
“The vital connection between the word and prayer is one of the simplest and earliest lessons of the Christian life.”—Andrew Murray
Our time with the Lord in His Word should be filled with conversational praying and the audible reading of the Scriptures. As we read, we can pray over the Word, even using it as our prayer. In this way, speaking the Scripture becomes our prayer to God and reading it becomes our listening to Him.
7. Focus on contacting Him, not on carrying out a duty
“The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord: but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.”—George Mueller
Rather than being a cold routine or duty, our time with the Lord in His Word is a time to delight ourselves in the Lord. This time should make our hearts happy in Him and come out of our single and pure desire for God Himself. Instead of seeking for biblical knowledge or answers to prayer, in this time we must learn to linger in His presence to enjoy Him in an intimate way.
This year, may we all have a new beginning with the Lord and continue to develop our personal relationship with Him by spending time with Him. May we learn how to nourish ourselves in His Word ever more deeply and renew and enrich our daily, personal times of fellowship with Him.
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