It’s the most wonderful-chaotic-and-stressful time of the year! Between Christmas shopping, school/dance programs, plans with family and friends, and the freezing cold that makes me just want to stay in bed, it’s the time of year when bible study becomes harder to fight for–when I tend to reach a lull in my time and in my motivation.
If this is you too, let me make a few suggestions:
#1: Take advantage of the Christmas break built into our John study.
If you’ve fallen behind, it’s not too late to jump in. Look at the schedule posted here and just jump in where we are, or use these few weeks to catch up.
Or, use this break to build in some accountability that will help you be more consistent going forward. Ask the women in your MC to join you in your study, or to hold you accountable by checking in with you each week. Sign up to join BSF and embrace the accountability of gathering weekly. Come to our next meet-up in January to hear what others are learning and aim to have something to share about what you’re learning.
#2: Try following along with the next sermon series.
If John hasn’t worked out for you and/or you’re ready for something new, consider using this Inductive Study Guide to dig into the book of James alongside the next sermon series. Studying the passage before it’s preached will help you better engage with the sermon and your MC discussion, as well as build in the accountability of a timeline to keep up with. Invite the women in your MC to join you. The schedule for the preaching series is available here. You can email me if you’d like a copy of the text for marking (kendra.m.dahl[at]gmail[dot]com).
#3: Seize the New Year as an opportunity to set some goals related to bible intake and other spiritual disciplines.
Fresh starts are not helpful when you consider the sinfulness of the human heart. The Israelites stood at the bottom of Mt. Sinai and declared upon receipt of the law: “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will obedient” (Ex. 24:7). We need only to flip a few pages to see how quickly and devastatingly they failed. We are equally susceptible to lavish promises and utter failure. And yet, despite our sinfulness, God’s mercies are new every morning. Every new day is an opportunity to confess our failures and rejoice in the forgiveness and mercy extended to us in Christ. Every “fresh start” is an opportunity to lift our eyes off of ourselves and onto Christ, who perfectly obeyed in our place and lives to intercede for us.
I don’t suggest you set goals for the New Year because by your own effort this year will suddenly be different. But setting goals and making a plan for your spiritual disciplines is like laying down railroad tracks. Ultimately, you cannot make the train move. But you can put structures in place that give the train somewhere to go. And, as you look back down the track, you’ll realize it was never by your strength you could lay the tracks in the first place. It’s all grace.
It’s grace to have access to God’s Word. It’s grace that he would reveal himself to us so tangibly. It’s grace that as we know him more, we love him more; that as we know and love him more, our minds are renewed and our affections transformed. It’s grace that we can behold the glory of God in the face of Christ, the Word made flesh, and in so doing we are transformed from one degree of glory to another. Why would we not partake in this means of God’s grace to us?
So confess your failures. Confess your lack of discipline and desire. Rejoice in the forgiveness that is yours in Christ. And make a plan! I’ve created a list of resources here to help–suggestions for devotionals, bible studies, and bible reading plans.
If there are any ways I can encourage you or help connect you to other women at River City, don’t hesitate to reach out.