Growing in Grace through Meditation, Reflection, and Journaling

Are your growing in grace as you take time to reflect on God’s Word?

Do you see the relevance of His Word for your life as you read it?

Do you feel yourself taking it to heart and really living out the truth nuggets that stand out to you?

Last week we talked about the importance of soul friendships in our lives to help us grow in our relationship with the Lord. There is so much growth that can occur as we share with a spiritual friend about the Lord, His Word, and His work in our lives. But we need to be intentional in our daily lives to grow in grace through being in the Word and in being alone with God.

We can take time to read our Bibles, check the box on our to-do list that says “done” to us, and move on with our busy days. I sadly have to admit I have done that. And although I could say that I was reading the Bible, I took nothing into my heart and it had very little effect on my life.

So what can you do? How can you make it matter? How does this growing in grace stuff really happen?

I think it is really important to come to the Word wanting to know the Lord more, wanting the Holy Spirit to lead you and to give you awareness of what He wants to show you and teach you. I haven’t always done that. I suppose it is because it means slowing down, being quiet, and stopping to pause as He leads. All too often my mind is racing ahead to my to-do list.

The Lord knows our hearts, our minds, and our lives. He knows where we need wisdom, knowledge, conviction, and guidance. So, I am trying to slow down more and more. I am taking to time to really meditate and reflect on the Word as I read. This means I choose a portion of the Scriptures to read, read it through, and slowly take in what is being said.

I find it helpful to compare translations of the Bible as I am reading. I especially like to look at the Amplified version alongside a New International Version or an English Standard version.

Many times I take time to rewrite some of the Scripture I am studying. I may rewrite it in my own words just to help me personalize it or oftentimes I write it into a prayer. I read a few verses and realize I want the Lord to work that in my heart and life and I turn it into a prayer.

Recently I was reading in Acts 11 and came to verse 23, I read:                                                                                      “When he arrived and saw what grace (favor) God was bestowing upon them, he was full of joy; and he continuously exhorted (warned, urged, and encouraged) them to all cleave unto and remain faithful to and devoted to the Lord with [resolute and steady] purpose of heart.” (emphasis mine) 

Immediately I thought, I want that (the portion in bold in the above passage). I rewrote it into a prayer asking the Lord to help me to cleave to Him and to be faithful and devoted with a resolute and steady purpose of heart. The words of that verse perfectly declared what my heart yearns for in my relationship with the Lord. I actually didn’t write this prayer in my journal instead I just wrote it in my Bible near the verse.

As I read there are often keywords that stand out to me. Words that I need better understanding of, or words or phrases that just touch my heart and I want to know more. Sometimes I use my Concordance to compare the words in some other verses, and other times I research meanings in a Bible dictionary or other Bible helps.

There are also times when those keywords stand out, that I realize it is truly the Holy Spirit shining a light into the dark crevices of my heart where I have hidden sinful attitudes and thoughts. At those times the Spirit convicts me and leads me to repentance. I recognize that I am doing what the Lord commands me not to do, or I am not responding in the loving way I should. And once again, the Word leads me to prayer. I talk with the Lord about why I am struggling with this issue, that person, or both. I ask for forgiveness from Him, and for help with the person or issue, whether that be for help to forgive or accept or to just know what He wants me to do.

When I slow down and take time to reflect on the Word, I relate it to my own feelings, actions, behaviors, attitudes, and situations. I think about what I may need to change, what areas I need to grow in, and seek guidance as to how to go forward. There are so many lessons in the Word. We can take the key words and phrases to heart and chew on them all day long taking them with us in our minds and thinking on them as we move through our day consciously aware of what the Lord is teaching us.

Of course, since I love to write, much of this process is recorded in my journal. I want to remember what I am learning as I read the Word. I want to remember what the Holy Spirit shows me about me that I have been blind to. I want to be able to see the Lord at work on my behalf helping me to grow in grace as He answers my prayers. I write key verses, I write my thoughts and my questions. And I write my prayers.

I use to write out all of my prayers years ago, but after a while I felt like I was just repeating some of the same things and it became a chore. Yet, I knew I wanted to record my prayers. I felt stuck and was unsure what to do. I have since found that keeping a small booklet with prayer lists for the people I pray daily or frequently for works very well. As I read my Bible I find verses that seem to say exactly what I want to pray for those dear ones and I write these verses on that person’s page and pray through the verses as I bring their needs before the Lord.

I still record prayers in my journal but they are the prayers I personalize from the Word and prayers for things that I want the Lord to work on in my heart and life. I record prayers that come out of “the cellar of my soul.” I record my confessions of bad attitudes, and sinfulness, I write about my fears, my personal heartache, areas of neediness and hurt, and things relevant to that day that I want to give to the Lord.

Yes, this all takes time, and some days I get bogged down because I get frustrated but I am continuing to grow. I am learning and I am excited about the things the Lord is showing me and helping me with.

I have found a couple of books along the way that have been very helpful, I am sure there are many others you may be familiar with but these have led me in my learning.
1. Journal Keeping: Writing for Spiritual Growth by Luann Budd
2. Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney

The Lord desires that we come to know Him more and we do that through learning in His Word, and experiencing His presence in our daily moment-to-moment lives. I hope that you have found something here that will help you in your journey in growing in grace.

Next week we will look at Growing in Grace through Celebration: Praise and Worship.



Is your heart open to giving? Are you available to give?

We often think of giving as being in terms of material things or in terms of money. But there are so many other creative ways to give.

I was at a coffee shop recently and there was a physically handicapped man sitting at a table next to me. The tables surrounding us were filled with groups of people talking and there he sat all alone. The thought went through my mind of how lonely he must feel with no one to talk to. I have seen him there often, and always alone. This tugged at my heart, so I made a point of starting a conversation with him. He had difficulty speaking but seemed eager to share how he was doing. A simple connection brought a smile to his face. A caring of the heart can mean:

  • Taking time to be aware and notice another
  • Thinking about how one may feel in whatever their situation might be
  • Considering a need
  • Helping someone
  • Sharing in a conversation

Each one of these ideas fit under the label of givenness. And it probably will only cost a couple of minutes of time to show care.

During that same visit, I spoke with an elderly woman who was unsure of where she was in line. She was obviously frustrated and confused, she responded curtly. After she realized that I was trying to help her, her whole demeanor change. All she wanted was a glass of water, so when I got to the counter I asked the barista to get it for her. The woman was so pleased, she thanked me repeatedly. She felt seen and cared for.

It is funny, because these two incidences happened without me thinking about being intentional about giving. These situations just were just random opportunities given to me to be available to touch a couple of hearts. I know all too often I am so focused on where I am going or what I am doing that I am totally oblivious to those around me. It often take a little extra effort to remember to be present where you are but it can make a difference.

Being seen feels like love, I know that sounds silly, but think about it, when someone takes time to notice you it make’s you feel cared about.

I know I have shared in a previous post about how the Lord has shown me through His Word how He sees me. It has amazed me how much of a difference that has made to my heart. The realization of that fact changes how I feel in many situations in life. It changes how I respond to others as well, because I am comforted by His presence. Being willing to give out of our hearts, just showing special care as we see others around us can change their feelings, make even make their day..

In The Broken Way, Ann celebrated her 40th birthday with a day filled with givenness. She shares so many great ideas in her book of how to live given, ideas she put into action. Her words really have encouraged me to want to live intentional about givenness. It was interesting to see that when she initially considered giving something, she recognized that she really did not feel like it, but as she continued to give, her heart changed and her desire to give grew. I think that this is often true of us as humans we have to push ourselves a little, and our hearts follow, and feelings begin to change.

What ideas come to mind for you when you think of living given?

How will you be intentional about living surrendered and sacrificial?

There are simple ways and extravagant ways, but they all begin in the heart. Take time today to give away some of the love Christ gives to you.