As new born babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation.Â â€”1 Peter 2:2, ASV
Do you know someone you respect for his or her spiritual maturity? Most of us do. These individuals are an inspiration to us all. My conversations with them have revealed something interesting to me. They donâ€™t all follow the same â€œproceduresâ€ in their daily devotional time.
In other words, looking at their lives seems to suggest there is no such thing as a â€œcookie-cutterâ€ plan for personal spiritual growth. While we wish to emulate their growth, we cannot do so by merely adopting their growth strategy as our own. With so many options, which one would we choose?
Although it doesn’t take place in isolation, spiritual growth is a personal matter. This is precisely why Jesus called those blessed who â€œhunger and thirst for righteousness.â€ (Matthew 5:6) Therefore, each of us must yearn for it to the extent that we will make the personal choices necessary to experience it.
Godâ€™s Word Supplies the Essential Nourishment
When it comes to personal spiritual growth, Godâ€™s Word supplies the essential nourishment. Some of the Apostle Paulâ€™s last spoken words to the Ephesian elders underscore this reality. In Acts 20:32 we read, â€œAnd now I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the inheritance among all them that are sanctified.â€ That which would build up these Christians can and will do the same for us. Diligent, deliberate study of the Scriptures and personal spiritual growth go hand-in-hand.
In the lines to follow several suggestions concerning daily Bible study are outlined. Perhaps these will encourage you to deeper digging into the vast riches of Godâ€™s Word. That is the objective. Then, like the eagle that rides the thermal into the sky, you will be empowered to soar to new heights of spiritual growth.
Three Suggestions Regarding Daily Bible Study
First, spend quality time in the Word! Make sure you have a reliable translation to read from. For in-depth study, you almost have to have access to one or more of these three commonly recommended versions. These are the American Standard Version, English Standard Version, and the King James Version. For accuracy and consistency I recommend the American Standard Version. Even though the ASV hard to find because it is out of print, it is worth the effort to find a good used copy or to purchase a copy for your Kindle.
Now, find yourself a more recent translation. This will help you to more readily understand most of the dated terminology in the older versions. Some of these are the New American Standard Bible, the New King James Version, the New Living Translation and the New International Version. (Note: The most popular of these is the New International Version. If you are planning to do any teaching, you almost have to be familiar with the NIV.)
Second, make a commitment to read and systematically study through the entire New Testament (to start with). There are many Bible reading plans available online. Click here for several options provided by Heartlight.
As time goes by youâ€™ll get an idea of how long this will take you. You might even craft a flow chart to monitor your progress. This will help keep you on track, too. Whatever you do, make the commitment and follow through on it!
Third, find a way to go beyond a cursory reading of the text. Some people find outlining the chapters beneficial. Others memorize key verses. You might find a chapter by chapter analysis helpful. One way of doing this is to ask and answer the following questions of each chapter:
- Are there any commands to obey?
- Are there any examples to follow?
- Are there any prayers for me to practice?
- Are there any promises for me to cherish?
- Are there any errors / sins for me to avoid?
- What are the main ideas developed in this chapter?
- What is a simple outline of this chapter?
When it comes to digging deeper into the Word of God, the key is to find what works for you. You might have to experiment with several options before you discover your preferred approach. One thing Iâ€™ve observed: the more you study the Scriptures, the more you want to study the Scriptures. So, the most important step is the first step!
One area of caution: Bible study alone will not produce spiritual growth. Paul warned that knowledge alone produces pride. He wrote: â€œknowledge puffs up while love builds up.â€ (1 Corinthians 8:1, NIV) In order for the knowledge that fills our heads to help us grow closer to God, our hearts must be in the right place. Thus, Jesus stated, â€œAnyone who loves me will obey my teaching…â€ Perhaps A.W. Tozier summarized this best in The Pursuit of God, where he explained: â€œThe Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring you to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that you may enter into Him, that you may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of God, Himself, in the core and center of your hearts.â€
Why This Matters so Much
As Iâ€™ve already indicated, there is no foolproof formula to follow. Anything you do that brings you closer to God is laudable. These suggestions are intended to help you spend some quality time in Godâ€™s Word, which will increase the vitality of your walk with God and help you to experience the joy of personal spiritual growth.
We must never forget there are emerging generations of Christ-followers, who need spiritual mentors to model their lives after. You could be one. Why not set out on a great adventure of personal spiritual growth today. Begin taking the steps to draw closer to the Lord and stronger in the faith? Nothing is more satisfying than growing closer to God! Besides, you never know who might be following you as you follow Christ!
Â© Bill Williams
|The Pursuit of God By A.W. Tozer / Wingspread Publishers
In the muddle of day-to-day life, have you somehow forgotten that Christianity is a living, vibrant relationship with a personal God? In this classic bestseller and recipient of both the ECPA Gold and Platinum Book Awards, The Pursuit of God reminds and challenges you to renew your relationship with your loving God. In each of the 10 chapters, Tozer explains one aspect of hungering for God and ends with a prayer.