First and foremost, we must commit to do the daily readings as well as prayer, reflection, and Bible memory. We begin by relating to God in this way.
Second, we will prayerfully plan and think through any appropriate responses to the main ideas of the reading.
Weekly, after completing the learning activities, often with someone else—a fellow participant, a spouse, a child when appropriate—we should gather with others to review the week, to encourage and pray for one another, and to celebrate what God is doing.
The Go and Do has many options from which to choose, but participants must complete the weekly discipleship activity portion. These weekly activities seek to develop routines in the eight categories of discipleship that are the specific focus of Deepen Discipleship.
Throughout the duration of Deepen Discipleship, every participant should be planning ways to partner together to complete the next week’s activities. The goal is for each person to meet regularly with at least one other person (preferably two) for the purpose of mutual accountability and encouragement.
There are five readings each week. We’ve attempted to divide up the daily reading into portions that more or less fit how the biblical writers have structured their books, but this has not always been possible.
That said, you should feel free to go beyond the daily reading, particularly if the author’s theme continues beyond the end of the daily reading section. Also, it would be wise to quickly review the previous day’s text while looking for repeated themes and connections that span multiple daily readings.
We hope that part of the joy in this study will be discovering afresh what truths God the Holy Spirit inspired each human author to highlight. From here, there’s only one next step: to joyfully respond to God’s Word by changing how we think, speak, or live. Again, God communicates with us—and changes us—through his Word. Read, listen, and grow.
The object of these daily reading guides is not to answer the reflection questions in the Guide, but to understand and apply the Bible! Keep praying and looking at the trees and branches in light of the forest.
The reading guide is designed to be a help in understanding what the New Testament says and teaches. So, use the reading guide to assist you in getting into the Bible. Read every chapter carefully and prayerfully. Write down your thoughts in the notes/journal section of the E-book or some other journal. This is an excellent way to help you think clearly and accurately about Scripture; it will also serve as a reminder for later.
To accurately apply what God is saying to us in his Word, we must rightly understand the main point. That’s the Read and Learn element—sometimes called observation—and we’ve attempted to guide interpretation with the comments provided on each reading.
The Reflect and Change element attempts to direct you in prayerfully considering how the text should transform us. That is, we must ask hard questions: how does this part of God’s Word change my values and priorities? How does it force me to adjust my understanding of what life is about? How does it teach me to live as though God were King and Ruler over all?
Genuine biblical application gets at our hearts and minds. It’s not about superficial changes tacked on to an otherwise normal lifestyle. Every single day, we’re bombarded with false ideas of the world such that when we read God’s Word, we are faced with an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to re-frame our thinking and re-order our priorities. Genuine biblical application requires altering our basic mindset, attitudes, and even our worldview. This will only happen as we reflect slowly and deeply on what God has said to us through his Word.
Once we’ve reflected on the clear meaning and application of a passage, we should plan to respond in faith. Once we have discovered and understood what God is saying, we must act on it—not as a means to earn favor before God, but in response to the favor God has already shown us in Christ. It’s unlikely that every daily reading will result in specific steps toward our sanctification. But over the topic of these readings, it is likely that God the Holy Spirit will convict us as we study the Word sincerely, affording us regular opportunities to obey.
This truth is one of the main reasons it is best to engage Deepen Discipleship in groups who have the same goals. It’s far simpler to develop routines of Going and Doing God’s Word if we have others who are spurring us along to love and good deeds.
Ultimately, the process of daily reading God’s Word should naturally enable God’s people to teach this Word simply and plainly in other contexts; put simply, you can’t teach what you don’t know. After completing the four modules, participants should automatically be thinking about how the three steps—Read and Learn, Reflect and Change, Go and Do—could apply in other contexts. Hopefully, committed participants will grow accustomed to approaching God’s Word in such a way that they will be comfortable not only in reading the Bible, but also in explaining it to others personally or even teaching it in the local church.