Have you seen those gallon jugs marked with how much water you need to chug during a day? Maybe one like this?* Now, I know drinking water is important. In fact, several years ago, the Lord convicted me of some unhealthy habits, including my beverage choices, or lack thereof. But drinking water has always been a challenge for me, and I needed a little help getting started. I looked for ways to “dress up” my liquid nourishment. One glance at a jug like this, and I might have felt overwhelmed and just quit (or shamed myself for failing). But put my water in a cute cup or add a little flavor (like lemon slices and a sugar substitute), and drinking water became more doable.
There are many good and necessary tasks that require a little extra motivation: exercising, a difficult conversation, a big project at school or work and yes, even reading your Bible. So, we exercise with a buddy. We meet in trendy coffee shops to talk. We play our favorite music for inspiration and reward ourselves when we reach goals. But what do we do when we know we should be reading the Bible but are struggling to find the “want-to?”
To be honest, sometimes the thought of reading my Bible can feel a little like drinking that gallon jug – especially when it comes to challenging reading assignments (i.e. reading from cover to cover in a year or two or maybe, three) and difficult or tedious passages (i.e. lists of names). In these moments, I am tempted to shame myself for my lackluster attitude and to hear others’ admonishes as suttle condemnations. Neither of which are very helpful. Every day, no matter what Biblical book or chapter I find myself in, is an invitation to spend time with my Jesus. I don’t want to lose sight of that. It’s not a homework assignment.
For me, this has meant setting the scene. Each morning, I curl up in my favorite spot alone in my room with my breakfast, my Bible, a hightlighter and pen and a couple books. I have found devotional resources help inspire and keep me motivated — especially on the more challenging days. Here are a few of my favorites:
- YouVersion Bible App: If you haven’t already downloaded this FREE app to your smart phone or tablet, don’t wait another day! This resource includes countless reading plans and devotionals covering multiple topics and scriptures and ranging from a reading period of a few days to a whole year. An added bonus for those who aren’t booknerds like myself or struggle to find the time to read — the app will read the passages to you from many of your favorite translations. And did I mention already? It’s all FREE!
- Before Amen by Max Lucado: This is an easy read, but when I’m using the book as a devotional, I like to take my time with it. Reading and rereading the chapters and slowing down to look up the scripture references. An added bonus – the book comes with a study guide to take you deeper and more introspectively into the Word.
- What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days by Holley Gerth: Quite possibly my favorite devotional!! It feels like I’m reading the words of a dear friend. Gerth authentically shares her heart and offers encouragement based on Biblical truths. In 52 days or weeks, this book will take you through the whole book of Psalms. At the end of each devotion, she invites her readers into a space to journal and pray.
Pausing before the chaos to be with Jesus may only last a few moments, but it is my favorite time of the day. You may choose to spend your moments in the evening or in snippets throughout the day. You may read your Bible alone or with the help of outside resources. Your moments may not be quiet at all. Your time doesn’t have to mirror my time. I share these suggestions with you because they have benefitted me. What has enriched your daily time with Jesus? What resources have kept you motivated to read the Word?
“Beautiful words stir my heart.”
Psalm 45:1a NLT
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My Reading Playlist
Since I last chronicled my 2016 reading journey, I have finished 20 books and am close to reaching my goal for the year (48 books). For the sake of time and space, I will only list a few of my recommendations here:
Audio Book – Miracles from Heaven written and read by Christy Wilson Beam (Better than the movie!)
Biography – Mary Slessor: Servant to Slave by Catherine Mackenzie (Perfect for our study in Africa.)
Junior High Novel – Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (Tyler and I loved this book which encourages reading of all kinds, patronizing your local library, playing games with familly and friends and improving your puzzle solving skills.)
Novel – Abomination by Colleen Coble (Part of her Rock Harbor Mystery series.)
Christian Living – Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler (A beautifully writtten reminder of God’s enduring love as detailed in Psalm 107. I so resonated!!)
*Image courtesy of Google Search.