How Do You Do Devotions: John Law

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John Law's appetite for the Bible is perhaps like that of a ravenous hound. Over the years i've met few with as much dedication and commitment to spend lengthy periods of time studying a passage. For this reason it's worth taking note as to how he goes about devotions.


For years I had no 'structure' to my Bible study; I'd open God's Word whenever I felt like it (whenever I had the desire to, which wasn't very often to say the least), and I'd read a random passage, 30 minutes after which I wouldn't have been able to share what I'd just read, never mind answer any questions about it! 


However, around 11 years ago, I found out about Precept Ministries in Carryduff (http://preceptireland.org), through a friend George Ruddell, tried some of their material, and it was of immediate benefit. 
 I quickly discovered that a great merit of this particular form of study is that I wasn't reading a short passage and immediately being given an explanation of what I'd just read (I had been doing that foolish endeavour for a couple of years, using the MacArthur Study Bible); there was little-to-no reliance upon the Spirit Himself - I was relying on John MacArthur more than God the Author! Oh, how sinful I was to ignore Him! 


 The workbooks I use never tell me what to believe - they strongly encourage and remind me daily to ask God for His help, for His instruction and teaching and wisdom etc. on the words He's breathed out, on the words I'm about to read, and then they ask me to read, re-read, and re-read again the particular passage, constantly asking myself leading, open questions ("Who...?", "What...?", "When...?", "Where...?", "Why...?", "How...?"), subsequent to which I 'mark' key and repeated names, words, and phrases (please refer to my photo of Acts 1:1-9 from my Bible), which hold the key to unlocking the text, the passage or even the book.

 Having thoroughly studied the passage, and only the passage (no commentaries, no one else's thoughts, teaching etc.) I then begin answering open, leading questions contained within the workbook, making lists in the spaces on the pages, looking up and studying relevant cross-references listed in the workbook (as well as any other cross-references - this is important because the Bible interprets itself - we need no other 'source' than God's revealed will) and writing out what God teaches in those passages. After one hour of study you could have a passage read and re-read ten times, sometimes more, as well as having studied relevant cross-references, and made a great many number of notes and lists. 


This way of studying deliberately slows you down, and with the continual reading of the same passage, allows God's words to penetrate deep in to your heart and mind. 
I can't single out one particular encounter with Christ Jesus; I just know that there is no substitute for regular study of God's Word (we are surrounded by Bibles in Northern Ireland, and there are even divisions and fruitless, time-wasting 'debates' over what particular version to use, while there are millions of brothers and sisters in Christ who have never even seen a Bible, let alone have their own copy! Please don't take God's Word for granted!). 

 By it, God has been shaping me into a more faithful, obedient child of His and slave of righteousness. It's so exhilarating when God reveals new truths to you, and so hard when He uses His Word to discipline you as His child, but the outcome is increasing Christ-likeness which is always a good thing, so let's be in the Word and, by the Spirit, living out its truths for God's glory and the good of man. 

Examples of Precept Ministries material There are varying levels of Precept Ministries material on offer from a 40-minute study, which is geared towards being used solely within a group setting, to their Precept Upon Precept workbooks, which are for personal use but can also be used in a group setting as you work through corporately the same passage you all studied. 

For example, the book of Acts is divided into two Precept Upon Precept workbooks, both of which contain eight lessons, which themselves are divided up into five days each (it takes around one hour to complete 'one day' of study in a workbook; so one lesson - five days - would take around five hours, and one workbook containing eight lessons would therefore roughly be about 40 hours of study - so when I complete the Precept Upon Precept Acts workbooks, I'll have done approximately 80 hours of study, and probably more). 

 It's a very thorough method, that gives structure to my daily devotions, allowing me to go deeper into the Word.

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