Big Prayer = Big Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7, ESV).

Throughout the day we need little arrow prayers—quick prayers in the car, in the office, in the kitchen. When we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), we are connected to the Lord. But these quick-fire prayers, though important, don’t yield the deepest peace.

Nor does ritual praying. Mindless repetition is unbiblical and won’t bring you peace. Little prayers yield little peace; Big prayers yield big peace.

If you want peace, you must pray biblically. Here’s a practical checklist: fervent prayer, by yourself, out loud, kneeling down, with a list. If you pray like that for five or ten minutes, a river of peace will rush down. Peace is coming like a flood to a person praying fervently to the Lord.

The enemy of your peace is anxiety. And if you are living crippled by anxiety, that suggests your prayer life could use some focused improvement. Review the past month of your life. Have you been fretting over some things? Fearful? Anxious? Worried? Those feelings most likely increased as you moved further and further from your last, fervent prayer time with God.

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your prayerfulness over the past month? A score of ten means you are rocking your world several times per day with faith-filled, awesome prayer. Zero means . . . zero. A prayer vacuum in your life. Perhaps you can’t even recall the last time you knelt down and prayed out loud fervently with a list.

On the same scale of one to ten, rate your anxiety level. Zero means you are calm. Nothing deeply divides you. Though bad things happen to you, they don’t rob you of peace. Ten equates to frequently freaking out, crippled by cares, and no peace.

Now notice the correlation. The lower your score in prayer—the higher your score in anxiety. The higher your score in prayer—the lower your score in anxiety. Where fervent prayer abounds, peace abounds.

If you want to lower your score in anxiety, the solution is to raise your score in prayer. This isn’t a mystery. It’s not a function of personality, as if some people are natural pray-ers and others missed out on that gene. Philippians 4:6 clearly links anxiety and prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” When anxiety goes up, you must pray it back down.

What to Keep

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Article by James MacDonald, Walk in the Word

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (John 17:6, esv).

Could life really be as simple as keeping His Word?

Sometimes when our spiritual life doesn’t seem to be moving fast enough for us, when it’s not going in the direction we want it to go, we can end up trying too hard to make it work. We can start exploring other options besides the simple faith of just keeping His Word.

You’ll recognize when this is happening. Times when you’re feeling tired and spent more than peaceful and contented. Times when you’re losing joy over one thing God hasn’t done for you yet, rather than rejoicing in all the awesome things He’s already accomplished. Times when your praying is characterized more by telling God how He should fix this situation than by believing He’s fully aware of what your need is.

But when Jesus transitioned from praying for Himself in verses 1–5 of what’s commonly called His “high priestly prayer” (John 17), into praying for His disciples in verse 6, He characterized them to the Father by saying, “They have kept your word.”

What a great summary of what Christians do! We keep His Word. It’s what we as His followers are called to do.

Simple, right?

But is it really what we do? If Jesus was giving a general accounting to the Father today of your life and mine, would His report include what He said about His first disciples? Does this same basic requirement and privilege—steadfastly keeping His Word—accurately describe how you choose to respond to your daily challenges, questions, temptations, and responsibilities?

You’ll know God’s Word is the authority in your life when it can stop you in your tracks. You’ll know you’re someone who keeps His Word when, instead of heading down whatever mindless path your emotions or traditions are taking you, the Spirit of God can suddenly remind you of Scripture. And as soon as you hear it, the truth of that Word causes you to reverse direction and do something other than what you were heading toward doing.

If God’s Word does not have this effect on you, you need to ask yourself what role it really plays in your life.

If you love studying it but don’t do what it says, the Bible is only affection for you.

If you love having it around the house and on the coffee table for all to see but you don’t do what it says, the Bible is only a decoration for you.

If you believe you’re advancing God’s purposes by hearing the Word taught and proclaimed at church but you have no real intention of getting up from your seat to go do what it says, the Bible is actually a deception for you. “Be doers of the word,” James said, “and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

Hear Jesus’ prayer to the Father again: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”

May He always be able to say the same of us.

Who God Says You Are

Original article by James MacDonald

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But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1, esv).

God is very personal. Consider the word formed (v.1)—it’s so intimate. God may have spoken the universe into existence, but He formed you. This is the same word used in Jeremiah 18 to describe God as the potter with His hands on the clay, personally shaping you. He did not just make your life and bring you into existence; He is forming the kind of person you are becoming day by day. God is making you into who He wants you to be.

When it comes to your identity, the critical issue is not what you think about yourself—because you can’t be trusted! As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Ultimately, the only thing that matters is what God thinks about you.

Tune in to the biblical message of who God says you are, and allow His thoughts about you to build your identity. You will discover a remarkably different thought pattern developing: I’m not who my parents or my spouse say I am. I’m not who my boss says I am. I’m not what my performance or my appearance says I am. I am who God says I am!

If you let your mind be renewed with His Word, the truth that God formed you will download into your identity and your attitude. This involves accepting truths about God that will affect your understanding of who you are, and it results in an attitude that honors Him. You’ll be surprised by how your actions naturally begin to flow out of who you know you are in Christ.

The fact that God is personal reinforces this awesome identity truth: the Lord has redeemed you and called you His own. He paid your redemption price with His Son’s life so He could have a relationship with you that will last forever.

If you have put your trust in Jesus, God says, “You are mine.” That is who you are. And what God says is the only thing that will ultimately matter. Let this truth shape your identity for His glory today.

Eating the Word

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts (Jeremiah 15:16, esv).

Bible

It’s not enough to own a Bible. Or hold it. Or carry it. Or even respect it.

You have to ingest it. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” The Bible is soul food.

So what does that mean? How does God’s Word function as the bread of life and spiritual meat? A good meal of Bible feasting includes at least five basic “courses” to ensure healthy, satisfying, spiritual nourishment:

  1. Read it.
    Read it silently or out loud, or listen to an audio version. Try a mix of all three. Be attentive, alert, and thoughtful. Savor the unexpected “flavors” from the Book.

The Bible is like a textbook, in the sense that you have to start in the right places. Unlike a textbook, though, it’s not arranged with the easiest material at the beginning and the hardest at the end. There’s a lot in the Bible that’s straightforward: 2 + 2 = 4. But there’s a lot that’s more like algebra with some complex equations. You have to brush up on basic math facts before you begin algebra. Bible reading is a skill every one of us can continually improve.

You can find some simple yet profound “equations” in the Bible, such as the Gospel of John and 1 John. These are easily understood portions of Scripture, accessible to anyone. Because they’re readable, that doesn’t mean they’re one-time reads. While you’ll readily comprehend John’s Gospel, you’ll also find yourself returning to its depths throughout your life. Familiar passages have an uncanny way of appearing new to us when the Holy Spirit applies them to our lives in unexpected ways.

In the early days of intentional Bible reading, you don’t want to begin with Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, or the major prophets. That’s the deep end of the pool. The book of Hebrews will become much more lucid to you once you know the story and flow of the Old Testament. You can get there. Growth in biblical literacy is attainable for everyone.

Aim for a chapter a day—not three verses or three hundred. No guilt about reading the whole Bible in three months or even a year. We just want more people on board the Bible train.

Open with a brief prayer, and ask God to teach you. I sit in a chair and lean forward. If I read anything lying down, I’m out cold. I have an open journal and ready pen to record thoughts.

  1. Question it.
    When you question the Bible, that doesn’t mean you object to it. It means you read with an inquisitive attitude. Direct some questions toward the text: Who’s involved in this story? What’s the big picture? Where else does Scripture address this issue?

Ask personal questions too: Is there an example here for me to follow? Is Jesus doing something I should be doing? Is Herod doing something I shouldn’t be doing? Questioning the Bible should lead to application insights for you.

Be open to the Bible’s convicting work: Is there a sin for me to confess? Is there something here I need to acknowledge or repent of? Lord, I’m like that. I’m wrong. Please forgive me.

Be teachable. Sometimes God just wants to expand our thinking. I didn’t realize God is so tender. I see Him pursuing the lost so insistently.

Receive the Bible’s comfort. Is there a comfort for me to experience? Is God’s Word assuring me about something? When I feel anxious, fearful, or uncertain, is there an encouraging word I need? All these questions should be scrolling through our minds as we read.

  1. Plan it.
    As you read and question, create a plan of action. Record discoveries and decisions in your journal. Date them. If you read “wrath stirs up strife” (Proverbs 29:22), then what changes does that truth require of you? When God’s Word convicts you, you have to make a plan to do something in response—not just agree with it. What action does God want in response to the truths He shows you?
  2. Pray it.
    Weave prayer time into your Bible reading. When God speaks to you, your first response needs to be to Him. “Thank You, Father, for teaching me from Your Word today. Thank You for challenging me about this. I agree with Your Word when it says . . . ” And then pray about your plan of action.
  3. Share it.
    When we articulate to others what we’re learning, we internalize and apply what God’s teaching us. “I got this out of the Word today. I’ve been studying this passage, and this is what I’m learning. I found this amazing idea in the Bible. What do you think about this?” Because God’s Word is alive, we can always learn fresh lessons from it, and processing those with other close believers can deepen our learning.

God’s Word is a feast spread before you today. May you eat His words, and may they become a joy and delight to you.

Insecurity

Article by James MacDonald, Walk in The Word

wiwEver feel insecure? Insecurity isn’t rational. Even leaders and successful people who seem to have everything going for them can feel insecure, but this sense of insecurity undermines their effectiveness, service, and well-being. We see this clearly in the life of King Saul, who, despite being tall, handsome, and handpicked by God as the first king of Israel, struggled with a deep sense of insecurity. If it can happen to Saul, it can happen to us too. Here are five clues to help us spot insecurities in ourselves. “I know I’m insecure when . . . ”

 

  1. “Others do well, and that bugs me.” When those around you succeed, do your thoughts veer this direction: How come he’s being honored? Why is she recognized? Why didn’t I get the raise? Note Saul’s response to the recognition David received. Rather than being glad for David’s military victories on behalf of the kingdom of Israel, Saul resented David’s success.
  2. “I’d rather do nothing than risk looking bad.” After God called Saul out on his shortcomings, he became paralyzed as a leader, afraid to do the wrong thing, frozen and ineffective. Like Saul, do you feel afraid to fail? Are you willing to take a risk? 
  3. “I take myself too seriously.” If you can’t admit your faults; if you can’t laugh at yourself; if others laugh because you say something silly or make a mistake, and that makes you seethe with anger; then you need to chill out! We all make mistakes. King Saul became so stressed out, obsessed with power, jealous of David, and consumed with himself that he couldn’t enjoy laughter or lightness. He lived in a perpetual funk.
  4. “I put myself down and can’t accept a sincere compliment.” Even though David persistently honored and respected King Saul, Saul refused to receive it. He couldn’t accept David’s loyalty or feel comfortable around his perceived rival. Do you do the same, shrugging off a compliment with a self-deprecating quip or hiding behind cynicism?
  5. “I think other people are out to get me.” This is a terrible way to live, and it’s obvious in Saul’s life. His anxiety grew into bouts of paranoia, provoking him to attack others. Saul almost speared David (his son-in-law) and Jonathan (his own son) to death, neither of whom had done anything disloyal at all. Are you constantly looking over your shoulder, assuming every comment is a conspiracy against you?

 

Insecure people often become self-absorbed, tiresome, and annoying, which leads to their rejection by others. If you find that people are pushing you off because you’re consumed with yourself, then you’re in danger. A personal, abiding sense of security is a by-product of a right relationship with God and reflects this mentality: I know who I am because I know whose I am, and I know where I’m going. Nothing can shake that. The person who can rest securely in that trust relationship with God is happier, healthier, more effective—and more enjoyable to be around.

Get on the Right Path

Article by James MacDonald (Walk in The Word)

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The Lord is my shepherd . . . . He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1, 3, esv).

Who of us hasn’t faced a tough decision that we knew would significantly affect the days and even years ahead? Our lives can go down many different paths:

  • Some paths are obviously wrong and lead you to very bad places.
  • Some paths appear to be right but still are wrong (see Proverbs 14:12).

Some paths are right for a while until they come to a fork in the road and you have to choose a new direction.

God Himself cares that you are on “paths of righteousness.” Psalm 37:23 says when you delight in God’s way, He establishes your steps. Aren’t you glad that if you submit to God, He’ll direct you on the right way? I want that!, you say. How do I get on the right path? There might be a lot of confusion about how to know God’s will, but I can give you the absolute guaranteed path to wisdom.

First, God’s Word lights your path; it gives direction. It promises to be a beacon to you in really dark places. Are you in it on a personal, regular basis? What principles shine in this situation? What standards build the boundaries of your life? (See Psalm 119:105.)

Second, godly counsel will help you discern the right path. Ask wise people which direction to take. But what if they tell me to do something I don’t want to do? All I can do is warn you by way of Proverbs 12:15:  “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Third, Romans 8:14 talks about being “led by the Spirit of God.”  Understand this: if you aren’t following these first and second principles, you’re not giving the Spirit very much to work with. God’s not going to tell you to do something that’s contrary to His Word and the counsel of His faithful followers.

But get all three of these three in powerful combination, and you will be able to say from your heart, He guides me! Get into God’s Word. Get under the wise counsel of godly people, and be open to how God’s Spirit will guide you. God doesn’t make His will a mystery—He is a shepherd who promises to lead you.

do good and silence the ignorance of foolish people

By James MacDonald, Walk in the Word

wiwFor this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people (1 Peter 2:15, esv).

We’re all natural-born rebels with a built-in resistance to submission. To complicate matters, the concept of submission has been hijacked by some selfish-minded, even cruel authoritarians who have twisted and distorted the truth for their own purposes. Submission carries so many negative connotations, even the most sincere Christ followers struggle to understand and embrace it.

Yet blessing and favor come to the person who lives in submission. Why? “For this is the will of God” (2:15). God’s will is for us to display lives of submission to authority. Do you think He isn’t watching? He is. When recognized authorities make a decision and you don’t like it, God is very aware of how you respond. His will is “that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (2:15). Yes, people in authority can be foolish, but in response, God wants to see us “doing good.”

Are you being unfairly treated? It’s by doing good that you will silence the ignorance of foolish people. The word silence actually means “muzzle.” If the thought of putting a muzzle on someone makes you smile, make sure you go about it in the right way. Silencing the foolish happens by living a life of biblical submission—by doing good, regardless of your circumstances.

Think about where God is giving you the opportunity to apply this wisdom:

  • Have you been passed over for a promotion at work, something you feel you’ve earned and deserved? Are you angry about political choices, from little slights to outright oversights?
  • Has someone betrayed you, turned against you in a relationship, or injured you? How do you weigh your reaction? 
  • Have you experienced a relational breakdown, with those closest to you judging you harshly? Are you suffering the consequences of their assumptions and misinterpretations?

Whether you’ve been snubbed, maligned, rejected, slandered, or ignored by earthly authorities, do good and silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Submission to authority is like having an umbrella. When we choose to submit, we’re really choosing to put ourselves under God’s protection. That is a wonderful place to live your life. While bad things may be falling out of the sky all around you, submission is a covering, your place of protection. When you step out from under it, you become very vulnerable.

The promises of God do not extend to those who choose to live as rebels. However, when you choose to live under God’s protection by submitting to Him and the authorities He’s placed in your life, His promises and blessings are yours in abundance.

So whether the authorities in your life make wise or foolish choices, whether they treat you justly or unjustly, whether you feel known and appreciated or overlooked and misunderstood, live by these nine words: do good and silence the ignorance of foolish people. God’s counterintuitive strategies have a surprising way of upending the world.

Levels of Gratitude

Article by James MacDonald – Walk in the Word

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20, ESV).

wiwIf we never received another thing from God for the rest of our lives, we could still fill each day with genuine gratitude:
“Thank You, God, for this new day.”
“Thank You for life so that I can serve You.”
“Thank You for each breath I can use to praise You.”
“Thank You for health.”
“Thank You, Lord, for strength.”
But somehow we make the choice to turn from all that we’ve received and to focus on what we still want. We minimize the blessings of life and magnify every negative circumstance we encounter. The litany of complaints begins.
“I can’t believe the nursery workers are late again today.”
“I am sick and tired of this lousy weather.”
“Why can’t the kids remember to pick up after themselves?”
“Nobody appreciates me.”

When we focus on the negative around us, life starts to feel like a wilderness.

Instead, we need to grow in our level of gratitude. Thankfulness is a spiritual discipline that we can learn, starting with elementary school gratitude, then high school gratitude, and finally graduate school gratitude. Let’s visit these three schools of gratitude.

The elementary level teaches us to be thankful in the most basic sense. We learn to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). At the elementary level, thankfulness feels like a sacrifice. We wring out of our hearts, “Thanks, God. There, I’ve said it, God, so You should be happy.” When God helps us, we say thanks out of obligation. Now that is something, but it’s not much. When thankfulness is a begrudging sacrifice, we won’t find much joy.

——

With high school gratitude, we come to a better place. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In every situation, we can always find something to be thankful for—always. We can make the decision to focus not on what’s wrong, but on what’s good and right in our lives and give thanks for that. This growing level of gratitude does produce joy . . . as long as we’re not going through anything too difficult.

——

But if you want real joy, if you want to be done with poverty of spirit, if you want to escape from the cheerless, joyless wilderness forever, then advance to level three, graduate school thankfulness. Be thankful for all things. Whereas high school thankfulness searches for a good aspect in a challenging circumstance, graduate school thankfulness trusts God and thus feels grateful for the bad things, even the things we wouldn’t choose. “Be filled with the Spirit. . . . giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18b, 20).

This is the Mt. Everest of thankfulness, and here you will find victory over every circumstance. No matter what you’re suffering—a health crisis, a deep sorrow that won’t go away, a financial need—you can come to the place where you sincerely say, by faith, “Thank You, God. This is the thing You’re using in my life. You’ve allowed it because You love me, and I trust You. Thank You, God, even for this!” When you grow up into that kind of thankfulness, you will experience a depth of joy you never thought possible.

Walking or Sinking

Walk in the Word – James MacDonald

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Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31, ESV).

It was a dark and stormy night. Sounds like the cliché opening of a poorly written novel, right? But in this case, it fits. Between three and four o’clock in the morning, the disciples got caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. At least four of the twelve were experienced, career fishermen. They knew enough about the reputation of this lake to be terrified. The rest of the disciples took their cues from the experts—if a seasoned fisherman like Simon Peter felt scared, shouldn’t they be scared too?

Then, just when they thought the wind and waves would take them under, Jesus walked by on the water! The disciples “cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (Matthew 14:26–27). Basically, Jesus asked, “Why do you doubt? I’m right here.”

Peter extrapolated this to the next point. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28). Don’t you love Peter’s boldness? He was quick to respond with faith, reasoning that if Jesus said he could walk on water, he could.

“So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (Matthew 14:29–30). Awww, Peter! You were doing so well. What happened?

The answer comes straight from the text—Peter took his eyes off the Lord. Instead of seeing Jesus, he saw the raging storm. Does that ever happen to you? When your eyes are fixed on the Lord, life is good, regardless of what’s going on around you. But the moment you focus on the wind and waves, you start to sink.

“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ ”

Today, are you walking or sinking? If you’re going under, it’s because you’ve been looking at the waves (like the pitch and roll of your retirement funds). You’ve been listening to the howling wind (like the voices of doom and gloom rampant in our society). You have been taking your cues from what others are saying or the way they are acting instead of keeping your mind stayed on the Lord (Isaiah 26:3).

When the storms of life rage, God wants us to “have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18) and keep our eyes on Jesus, Lord of the wind and waves.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). Jesus Christ is our anchor, an attachment point for our souls. When the waves are crazy-high and the wind whips strong and cold across your face and you don’t know what’s going to happen, you have an anchor: the assurance that God is in control.

Peter cried out, “Lord, save me,” and “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” Even though Peter moved his eyes off the Lord and onto the storm, Jesus had it entirely under control. That kind of assurance will settle your heart.

No matter what is happening or will come your way, God is in complete control, working for your good and His glory. He has made promises that are bigger and better than your current circumstances. You may not know when those promises will happen, but you can be sure they will. Wait in faith—everything God has promised is coming, and His timing is perfect.

Eat the Word?

(by James MacDonald – Walk in the Word)

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Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. —Jeremiah 15:16 The last time you had a Bible in your hands, how did you handle it? Did you casually flip it open to a suggested passage or quickly fan the pages using the headings as your guide? Maybe you had to check the table of contents—or perhaps the truth is, you held the Bible but didn’t open it.Whatever your story, do you know how to find the joy and delight promised us in Scripture? Jeremiah’s testimony can help you move from treating the Bible as just another book, to treasuring it for what it is—God’s Word. What was his approach to the Scriptures? Jeremiah said, “I ate them.”In Jeremiah’s day, God’s Word was handwritten on leather scrolls and painstakingly copied. In times of spiritual decline these scrolls were sometimes misplaced. When Jeremiah wrote, “Your words were found,” he was probably remembering the incident during King Josiah’s reign when the lost books of Moses were discovered in the neglected Temple in Jerusalem (2 Kings 22). It’s easy to wonder, How could people actually misplace the Scriptures? The more important question is, Where is your Bible right now?
An open Bible is a meal spread before you. On every page there is nourishment prepared and provided by God for you. Do you want God’s Word to become a joy and delight in your heart? Have you discovered for yourself how it can satisfy your deepest hunger? Here are some steps that will help you get increasingly more from Scripture.Discipline yourself to get into God’s Word. It may feel like you’re working out on a treadmill. In the beginning, it will take getting up earlier or altering your schedule in some way. You will have to consciously decide to open and read God’s Word attentively. Stay at it for at least thirty days. At this point, the benefits won’t always be obvious. You will mostly be aware that you are making a deliberate effort.You will know discipline is working when it gives way to desire. God is honoring your willingness to get into His Word daily. You will find yourself increasingly longing for Scripture (Psalm 42:1). If you miss a day, you will notice and wonder how you lived without it. Expect at least another thirty days in this phase. You will discover firsthand the impact of regular time in God’s Word.  Beyond discipline and desire you will find delight. Jeremiah 15:16 will become your own experience. When you begin to delight in God’s Word, the time spent in Scripture will be the best part of your days. And the effects will seep into every part of your life as you find His truth running continually in the background of your thoughts.  Discipline, desire, and delight could be less than 60 days away for you. These are choices you can make and steps you can take that God will use to change your life. And they never need to end—the longer you walk with Jesus Christ, the more you will find Him leading you through these stages in your lifetime, as He takes you deeper into His Word and all He has for you.