Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Personal Bible Reading Challenge

Leslie Basham: Spending time in God’s Word can have a huge effect on your life. Here’s Heather Patenaude.

Heather Patenaude: There are a zillion decisions I make every day—how to respond to my kids, how to respond to my husband, how to talk to a friend, what to say, how to think. Do I choose laziness, or do I get up and do my dishes? What do I eat? Am I going to be gluttonous or obey what God has commanded me, as far as eating?

The more I’m in God’s Word, that filter allows me to make biblical decisions.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, January 14.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As we’ve been sharing over the past week or so, once again this year, as we did last year, we’re asking our listeners to take a Daily Bible Reading Challenge. Spend some time every day getting into God’s Word and getting God’s Word into you.

As we’ve been sharing, if you sign up for this daily Bible reading challenge at ReviveOurHearts.com, we want to send you—twice a month—an email that will remind you of the challenge and give you some encouragement to keep you going.

Now, today, I thought it would be encouraging for you to hear from some of the women who took that daily Bible reading challenge last year, in 2012. We’re going to find out how spending consistent time in God’s Word has affected these women.

Let’s start with a gal named Heather. Heather’s been a friend of this ministry, a friend of mine, for some time. She’s been reading the Scripture for a long time, but when we sat down recently, she shared with me how the past twelve months had been different.

I started by asking Heather what motivated her to take the daily Bible reading challenge in 2012.

Heather: Well, I went to Revive in 2011, which is a True Woman conference for women serving women. I was in the prayer room with some amazing women of the Lord. When I listened to the way they prayed, I realized my prayers were very much a to-do list, or asking God to intercede on behalf of other people.

I realized I don’t take very much time in my own personal prayer life to just worship God; to worship Him in awe; to be in awe of Him. That was my prayer request when we paired up with one other person—that I would be a better worshiper during my own prayer life.

It wasn’t long after that the Revive Our Hearts started to promote the challenge to read through the Bible in 2012. Before this, I read the Bible probably three to five times a week, so it wasn’t like I went from zero to one hundred percent, but it wasn’t something I could say, “I’ve not missed a day of Bible reading.”

So I thought, "What a better place to learn to become a better worshiper than in the book of Psalms?" I have three young boys that I homeschool, so I’m a busy mom. I decided that I would start in the book of Psalms on January 1 of 2012, and the first day that I sat down was a Sunday.

My coffee spilled all over me, one of the kids hurt themselves . . . there were, like, four distractions. I just said, “Satan, you are so obvious to me right now, but you will not get this year, because this year I will not skip a day in the Bible.” I started January 1 and went through the entire year reading one chapter a day of the Psalms.

I read Psalms through twice at one chapter per day, and the third time I read two chapters a day, so I could get through it three different times. The growth that took place in my own heart . . .

Nancy: What were you doing when you were reading those psalms? Were you studying?

Heather: It depended on the day. Being a homeschool mom, some days the boys would be more compliant to me having more time than others. I had a journal in which I would jot down notes; I’d jot down notes in my Bible. Oftentimes, though, I would read the psalm more than once a day.

So I might read it in the morning with my cup of coffee and maybe read back over it later in the day. So it was something I was constantly going to. The theme that I saw through the book of Psalms was the security of knowing God. One of my favorite verses was Psalm 16:8: “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

That is the theme that I saw through the book of Psalms—this Rock that I stand on. As I saw God giving me this hunger to be in the Word every day and to be cultivating this delight in being with Him every day, I just saw that God was making it so abundantly clear that I have an audience of One. He is the only One that matters, and what He thinks of me is the only thing that matters.

I saw God break that chain of caring what other people think of me in a fresh way, by being in God’s Word and marching to His beat and not caring that I’m the only one marching to His beat. There were things that He called me to do that were completely out of my comfort zone in a situation where it would have been very easy to say “no” to Him. But He said to me, “Do not quench this fire that I am starting.”

He asked me to do something in a very large church that was very uncomfortable for me. It was one of those Holy Spirit moments that I felt the chain was gone. “I don’t care what people think; all that matters is that I make people thirsty for Jesus. I don’t care if it seems like I’m radical or a whacko or whatever it is. I want people to be so hungry for Jesus when they see my life.”

My husband didn’t say, “I’m going to do the challenge with you,” but he sort of took the challenge with me. He was reading four chapters a day. He got through the whole New Testament three times. He got through the book of Jeremiah and the Psalms, and the changes in him have been radical. We both have not been missing a day in God’s Word.

I would encourage your listeners at the beginning of 2013, as we start this new year—if you want to see radical changes in your life, if you are tired with the way things have been year upon year upon year, get yourself into God’s Word. I am a busy mom. I do not have a quiet chair that I sit in with my coffee . . . I have kids.

But I’m in it every day—it is doable. A huge help to me has been a group of women—there are seven of us—and we have a little group on Facebook that no one else can see . We check in with each other every day. I have the oldest kids, so these are young mommies. Two of the moms will be having their fourth child this year and their oldest are five-years-olds.

I’m not talking about moms with older kids who are in school; I’m talking about very busy young moms. We check in with each other. They knew I was doing the challenge in 2012, and so if it would be like nine o’clock at night, Holly would say, “Heather, you haven’t checked in today. Did you read?” They kept me going and kept me on it.

So, grab a group of girlfriends and say, “Hold my feet to the fire this year. Do not let me miss a day in God’s Word.” I never had a sick day. On vacation we took our Bible, on the holidays . . . we didn’t miss a day. It has made a huge difference, and I hope I can say that from 2012 on I will never miss a day in God’s Word.

Nancy: How old are your kids?

Heather: My oldest is seven-and-a-half, then six-and-a-half, and three-and-a-half. (Got to get the “half” in.) All boys.

Nancy: Is this something they’re conscious that you’re doing?

Heather: Yes. We do Bible time with them every night before bed. We’ve gone through different Bible stories and books with them. My little three-year-old will bring me my Bible. He knows Mommy has Bible time. So we're getting them into the Word. On Sunday nights my husband does Bible time with the boys, and they teach their Sunday school lesson to us.

My husband says, "Our boys will know how to teach the Word of God." So we are training them to teach the Word of God and know it for themselves. They’re aware of it. They are very gracious young boys. They know when Mommy has Bible time—they give me that fifteen minutes. Sometimes that’s all I’ve got.

Nancy: Are there ever days it feels like duty rather than delight?

Heather: I would say before this challenge, yes. I remember in 2008 I went to your breakout session, Devotional Life: Duty or Delight? And I thought, “It is kind of a checklist duty to me. I don’t know how to make it a delight.” But now—and I’ve know this my whole life; I’ve read God’s Word since I was old enough to read—there’s such delight to be nourishing your body with that every day and filling your soul with God’s truth.

There are a zillion decisions I make every day—how to respond to my kids, how to respond to my husband, how to talk to a friend, what to say, how to think. Do I choose laziness, or do I get up and do my dishes? What do I eat? Am I going to be gluttonous, or am I going to obey what God has commanded me, as far as eating?

The more I’m in God’s Word, that filter allows me to make biblical decisions and allows me to see things through a biblical lens. Getting into it every day, I will say the delight has just increased. It’s more of a delight to be in His Word. And I can tell if I don’t get in it first thing.

I can tell if I don’t get into it until ten or eleven o’clock—if I try to do homeschooling without getting myself grounded first.

Nancy: How can you tell?

Heather: I don’t have as much patience. The Psalms are so rich. If you do not have a plan, can I just suggest, start in the Psalms in 2013. Just read a chapter a day. There will be wind your sails that you never knew God could put there.

Nancy: Well, that’s Heather Patenaude, telling us what it was like to take the Daily Bible Reading Challenge. And that challenge, once again, is to spend some time in God’s Word every day throughout the course of the year.

Heather just mentioned that she started in the Psalms, and that might be something you’d like to consider as well, if you don’t already have a daily Bible reading approach that you’re taking. If you’re going to do that, you may want to get some more information on a workbook that I’ve written called A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms.

It’s a resource that will help you walk through thirty of my favorite psalms, to study God’s Word, to meditate on those psalms, and to get them into your heart. You can get more information on that resource at ReviveOurHearts.com. That’s also where you can sign up to take the Daily Bible Reading Challenge. When you do that, we’ll send you a couple of emails a month to encourage you, to keep you going, to remind you.

I know how easy it is as you get further into the year to forget this challenge or to get off-track in some way. So we want to encourage you in this, and I hope you’ll sign up for that challenge and get those emails. And then, let me remind you about one additional resource we’re offering this month that will help you as you take this challenge.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’d like to send you a copy of what we’ve called My Personal Bible Reading Journal. This is just a simple tool to give you a place to capture your thoughts as you read and meditate on God’s Word. You can make a donation and request a copy of this Personal Bible Reading Journal at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. Let us know that you’d like to make a donation and ask for a copy of the Bible reading journal.

Toward the end of 2012 we asked listeners to give us a call and tell us about their experience with the daily Bible reading challenge. I’m so thankful for those who responded and shared their story with us. We’re about to hear some of those calls. As you listen to them, I hope you’ll think, “What could 2013 be like if I took this challenge?”

Caller 1: I took Nancy’s read the Bible every day challenge for this past year and it especially was effective and fruitful this past summer. I lived on the very edge of the Minnesota boundary waters over the summer. In the cabin I was in, I didn’t have cell service, Internet access, or television, so I had a lot of time to myself and had a lot of time feeling isolated.

But I did have Revive Our Hearts broadcasts saved onto my computer that I could listen to without Internet access. I did have my Bible, and I ended up reading my Bible several times a day, taking up Nancy’s challenge and living in the Scriptures on a daily basis—not only living in them, but looking forward to spending time with God multiple times a day, throughout the day.

As a result, I have never felt closer to God and never felt more challenged to follow Him with all my heart. Despite the fact that I was very much so alone and isolated from normal interactions that I’m used to during the school year at college, I never felt more surrounded by God and His presence.

I realized that I didn’t have to feel alone as long as I had God’s Word. Thank you for giving us the challenge to read God’s Word every day this past year. Thank you so much, Revive Our Hearts.

Caller 2: I just wanted to share with you how reading the Bible has affected my life. I’ve been reading it more or less daily for the past two years. It’s been amazing, and it’s through strong Christian friends who have been doing so that encouraged me to do the same, to just really spend that daily time with God. It really has been a blessing.

I’ve been trying to encourage my father to do so as well. He’s been really resisting, and yesterday I was really hard on him about it. Without realizing it, I was trying to force him to read the Bible, and I know it has to be something that he does from his heart.

We had a kind of really bad day with my stepmother, and she really upset me. I was going to bed and was really upset about how the day had gone. I knew I just needed to read my Bible. So I opened it up to Matthew 7, and it was, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

That really spoke to me because I was judging my step-mom. I had been judging her for her actions and was really upset with her, when I had been doing something else by trying to force my dad to read the Bible earlier that day. I did it with good intentions but went about it the wrong way. It just went on to say, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and do not consider the plank in your own eye?”

That just really spoke to me. It’s just amazing how God can use His words in a new way every time you read them, and that’s just so powerful because it is the living Word, as it says, and it’s just so amazing.

I just wanted to share that with you. Maybe next time you’re frustrated and having a hard time, just really spend some time with God and read His Word and see what He has to say to you to help you and to guide you and give you perspective.

Caller 3: This year my two girls and I started reading the Bible together. I found out that it was hard for me to find time to read the Bible by myself. I’m a full-time working mom and a wife, and you get busy. So every night we’ve been reading one chapter from the Bible. We started in Genesis, and we haven’t missed one night.

In that way my girls benefit from listening to the Word, and I’m having my devotional time with them as we read the Bible together. It’s been great, and they’ve learned a lot from it, so I encourage other moms to do that.

Caller 4: I’ve been a listener for over a year—maybe almost two now. The reading the Bible daily challenge has been the most transformative challenge that I’ve ever taken. I’ve never had a year like I’ve had this year. 2012 has brought so many changes. Not only have I lost fifty-eight pounds during this transformation, but it has changed the way I think; it has changed the way I see God.

I feel like for the first time I really have a relationship. I mean, I’ve been attending church my whole life, but I’ve never really had a relationship with Him. Reading my Bible every day has just changed every area of my life. I heard my husband say that he loves the Revive Our Hearts ministry because he loves what it has done to his wife.

My children, they love what it has done to their mother. It has affected so many other areas—my health, my finances, my home, our children, our marriage. It has just affected every area. I just finished Joel yesterday. It took me a long time to get through Ezekiel, but, you know what? Even in that, when I slacked off, I could see the power of God move in my home and in my life like never before.

I feel like I’m really getting to know Him, really. We have developed a closeness like I’ve never had before. I’m so grateful for this ministry. I could never tell you how this ministry has blessed me. I’ve been going to church my whole life, but I’ve never ever, ever experienced the changes that I have experienced. When I started reading, I weighed 243, and I got down to about 183. My husband lost 100 pounds.

My two children in college and my middle school son and high school daughter, their relationship with God has deepened. It’s changed our whole house. We talk about it every day. I’m constantly making references to the Scriptures because now I know what they say—and not because of what my pastor has said or what I heard at church—because of what I know for myself.

My mother is dealing with cancer for the third time; I’ve even been able to encourage her since the Bible reading. The truth is, there is nothing like the Word of God. Nothing will change you like the Word of God, and I’m a witness that I’ve been changed from the inside out through this daily Bible reading. Thank you so much, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and all of you at the Revive Our Hearts ministry. You have no idea how you all have changed my life.

Nancy: Well, you’ve just heard from some Revive Our Hearts listeners who took an important challenge last year. It was a challenge to spend some time in God’s Word every day. I’m issuing that challenge again this year because I think it’s so so important that every one of us be having a consistent intake of God’s Word into our lives.

So I’m challenging you, would you commit to spend some time in God’s Word every day for the rest of 2013? Now, that doesn’t mean if you miss a day here or there you’ve failed. Just get back up and start over again. But make the commitment, “Lord, as You remind me, by Your grace, it’s my heart’s desire to spend some time every day listening to You speak to me from Your Word.”

Now, you can take this challenge on our own, but I know you’re more likely to finish if you know that someone is walking beside you. So when you sign up for the Daily Bible Reading Challenge at ReviveOurHearts.com, our team will stand beside you.

And here’s how we’ll do that: We’ll send you an email update twice a month to remind you of the challenge and to encourage you to keep going. I hope that you’ll let us help you in that way. Just look for the Daily Bible Reading Challenge at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Before we go today, I want to tell you about something else that I’m really excited about in 2013. We’re calling it the Revive Tour, and let me tell you how it came about. I got an email a year or so ago from a listener and she said, “You never have a True Woman conference in my part of the country. I’m not able to get to a conference. Why don’t you have a Revive Tour?”

I read that email, and I thought, “That is a great idea!” I took it to our team and asked, “Could we do a Revive Tour?” That is exactly what we’ll be doing this spring as we go on the road and get to meet with our listeners and friends in eight different cities. I hope I’ll get a chance to meet you in one of these cities.

Let me tell you a little bit about what will be happening in each of these markets. There are two parts, essentially. We’ll start with a free evening event. At that event I’ll share some stories about what God is doing through the ministry, some updates about the mission and the outreach of Revive Our Hearts.

My friend, Shannon Wexelberg will be leading us in worship, and I’ll be speaking from God’s Word. This is an open event, and you can feel free to bring your family with you. And then, you can also come to a recording session. We normally do those here in Michigan, but now we’ll be doing them in other cities. We do our recording sessions for radio with a live audience, and that’s what we’ll be doing in these eight different markets.

In these recording sessions I’ll be teaching on some of the names of Christ. I really believe these evening gatherings and morning recording sessions are going to be a great opportunity to fellowship with like-minded friends and to interact around God’s Word, particularly for our listeners who are in the areas where we’ll be holding these events.

So if you live in or anywhere near these eight cities, I hope that you’ll plan to join us. The cities are: the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex; Houston, Texas; Chicago; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Indianapolis; Cleveland; Lynchburg, Virginia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If you live anywhere near one of those cities, you can get the dates, the locations, and the other details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

I do hope that you’ll make plans to join us at one of these free events. Again, you can find the details for this Revive tour at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Have you ever been tempted to think, “God’s not really good”? Well, tomorrow Nancy will help you replace lies about God with truth that sets you free. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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