Sunday, June 16, 2013

How I Study, Pray and Meditate

John Wesley didn't plan to start a new church (that spread across the globe). John Wesley didn't say, "Hey, brother Charles, let's break off and start our own church." John Wesley and his brother just loved Jesus and their fellow man. That's what I so admire about the Wesleys. Their "methodical" ways, of worshiping and singing every morning started a movement. My journey on studying the man who also loved my Savior Jesus Christ will only make me closer to Jesus.

But what I do know so far, of John Wesley, I have learned in a few library books, and mainly the book I just studied over the Lenten season, called "A Disciple's Path ~ Deepening your Relationship with Christ and the Church" by James A. Harnish with Justin LaRosa. This is a daily workbook that I used throughout Lent and now beyond.  Whether you're Methodist or not, the lessons learned are so important for me and hopefully you, if you are searching for a great way to study and serve.

Bill W. didn't plan to start a movement (that spread across the globe) with his 12 steps to alcohol recovery. He just found that the 12 simple steps as suggested recovery Worked! If we ask for God's help with complete abandon. Yes, the 12 steps are a very deeply meaningful and spiritual program for walking closer to God, and living the best life possible, and a very Biblically related program, as I have discovered.

So, after using these two resources,  for which I am very grateful, I have come up with a way to live God's way and study scripture that works for me, and maybe will work for you! After all these years, I not only have the scripture in my mind, memorized, but I have found a way to decipher the Word, chew it up and get all of the nutrition, that God has for me, out of it.  God definitely speaks to me through this process. My Higher Power lets me know what it is that He would have me know, as long as I open my mind, wait a bit on Him and let Him in.

I am thankful to my church, First United Methodist Church and its leadership (Reverend Blaine Scott and Reverend Laura Cartwright) for offering this book for a Lenten Study. I am thankful to Bill W. and Dr. Bob who founded AA in 1935.

These LIFE steps and STUDY steps have changed my life for good and for the good of my soul.

IN THE MORNING, either while still in bed or as I am rising, I begin with a prayer, any prayer. I like to say, "Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for this day and the blessings you have given me.  Take care of me and guide me. Help me to be of maximum service to you and others. Help me to be patient, loving, tolerant and kind. Please reveal to me what you would have me know and do. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen."

So, this is what I have discovered and how I study the Bible, or really any other inspirational quote, AND stay focused on God, and end my day with God too.

First, I need a Bible, a journal, a pencil, a highlighter and some quiet time.  I decide on the scripture somehow. I have many verses (that I plan on studying) written down on the top left side in my journal, separated by a couple of pages, marked with a penciled rectangle around the passage.

(example) JAMES 1:2-8

At the top right of my paper, I write:

When I begin my Bible study, this is what I do.

1. PRAY. "Lord, open my mind and my heart to your Word and your Message for me today. Please reveal what you would have me know and do. In Jesus' name we pray."

2. READ. Whatever the scripture, however long. Read it.

(NIV) 2 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."

3. WRITE. Write down the entire passage, or the verse or phrase that speaks to you. Okay, now, this is a LOADED passage. There are so many things that jump out at me.  So, today, I have decided to write phrases in various verses and add the dot dot dot... :) in-between. This is what I have chosen to write:

"Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God...But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt..."

4. VOCALIZE. Read aloud the passage you have chosen. Read it slowly and deliberately. Read it again. Listen to God as He speaks through your vocalized words.

5. ILLUMINATE. From the passage, pick the phrase.

Okay, what I heard when I read this passage twice, is this:  Consider it pure joy, your trials. The testing of your faith produces perseverance, which will help you be mature and complete. If you are lacking wisdom, ask God for wisdom. But when you ask, BELIEVE and not doubt.

6. CONTEMPLATE. What is God trying to tell me? What is my lesson in this? What is God wanting me to do? What does this mean?

Joy. Well, I am not always the most joyous person. I am the type to "Fake it until you make it." I put on a happy face, sometimes, even when I don't feel like it.  But, God WANTS me to have JOY! Even in tribulations! Joy in tribulations? Wow! That's big for me. Well, even if I don't want to be joyful, there are so many scriptures that basically command me to "make a joyful noise, be joyful, the joy of the Lord is my strength, have joy, consider it pure joy, joy to the world", and the list goes on and on. So, even if I, as a human and sinner, can't be full of joy for myself, God wants me to do this. And, I don't mind following God, so I guess I will try to be joyful for and to the Lord. Yes, I can do that. Yes, I can.

Persevere. Well, of all days to be savoring this scripture! That was one of my daddy's favorite words. Yes, the U. S. Marine, the coach, the middle school science teacher, taught his two girls to "Persevere! Endure!" He would run us down to the school concrete slab in the summer, a mini-boot camp of sorts...Myers Boot Camp. He would have us do push-ups, pull-ups, and more. So, Daddy was helping us to be "mature, complete and not lacking anything", yes he was! Perseverance brings maturity, completeness and wisdom.

Staff Sergeant Charles Myers in the South Pacific, WWII
Is my dad in waders? Is he tying a fly?
He did love to fish, so I think that is what he is doing.

Ask. Yes, God wants us to ask for wisdom. So...ask!!!

Believe. And, God wants us to Believe! God wants me to and tells me to ASK and BELIEVE! 

Four words for today: JOY, PERSEVERE, ASK, BELIEVE

Like I said, this is a loaded passage; so much covered in really only 5 verses.

8. PRAY. I write this down and pray this prayer for today's reading: "Dear God, I thank you for your word. God, thank you for your lesson about joy. Lord, help me to carry your joy in my heart and soul in all I do. Help me to have joy even when I am persevering through a tough time, oh God. God, I am asking for joy, perseverance and wisdom for your will, believing that you will fulfill these in me. I am thankful for your promises God. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

When I am finished following these steps, I REALLY feel as if I know the scripture passage, and I know what God is trying to tell me.  It seems so simple, even though it takes a bit of time. The scripture and the lessons it has for me seem to be real and alive and meaningful.  I think and believe, after processing the Word in this way, that I will always know that God wants me to be joyful. God wants me to persevere through hard times. My Lord wants me to ask for what I need and believe that it will be!

9. ACT. AT NIGHT, I ask myself, "Have I been dishonest, afraid, resentful or selfish?" If I have been any of those things, I ask God to forgive me. I ask what I can do differently tomorrow to be of maximum service to God and others. I pray, "Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for this day and the blessings you have given me. Please help me to sleep well so that tomorrow I can continue in your service. Lord, forgive me for being dishonest, afraid, resentful and selfish (if I have done any of these things). Help me to apologize to those that I have harmed. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen." During the next day, I will act on the scripture, and on the poor behaviors, by apologizing if needed. I will try to live out the scriptures, by being joyful, persevering, asking and believing!

I hope this may help you and bless you, if you are searching for a way to study and live. <3 p="">
This blog post is dedicated to my father, Charles Robert Myers (January 21, 1921 ~ March 4, 1975), who taught me to persevere, endure, and always strive to be the best I can be.

Aunt Speedy had my dad take these pictures when he was about 21 years old.
She loved her little brother so very much.

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