Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spend a Year at the Feet of Jesus


New Year-Long Daily Devotional from Joanna Weaver
Makes the Perfect Christmas Gift to Start off 2013 At the Feet of Jesus
Author Joanna Weaver confesses to being a fellow struggler when attempting to find a quiet time for study and reflection. She understands the challenges we all face. In her latest release, At the Feet of Jesus: Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart (WaterBrook Press / October 2, 2012 / hardcover / ISBN: 978-0307731005 / $ 15.99 / also available in e-book), Weaver gives readers the structure they need to grow closer to God. This 365-day devotional encourages and inspires women who want to deepen their spiritual lives as they spend a year at the feet of Jesus.

At the Feet of Jesus combines a conversational tone, real-life stories and insightful Bible teaching to engage readers at an emotional and spiritual level. Each page-per-day devotional includes a brief inspirational reading, a short Bible passage and a reflection question designed to create a greater hunger for intimacy with God.

Q: You admit to being a fellow struggler when it comes to finding quiet time for God. How do you find time to work on your relationship with God?

I’m learning that intimacy with God is a choice I have to make every day. It’s so easy to allow other things to crowd out my time with the Lord — to allow the “tyranny of the urgent” to take priority over what is truly important. But when I allow that to happen, it isn’t long before my soul begins to feel what my spirit lacks. And a malnourished spirit affects every part of my life. While I’m not completely disciplined at having a quiet time every day, I’m learning that if I set aside a consistent time and find a consistent place to meet God it really helps keep me on track. And when it comes to time alone with Jesus, the more time you take the more time you want!

Q: What tools have made it easier for you to structure your own devotional time?

Though I’d been raised in the church all my life and was a young pastor’s wife in full-time ministry, no one had taught me how to have a daily quiet time with the Lord. I knew I was supposed to — but I didn’t know how to. But God was so good to lead me to a year-long discipleship course that changed my life, offering structure and accountability as well as the how-to tools I needed to have a deeper relationship.

TIME + THE WORD + PRAYER has always been the formula for intimacy with God, but the discipleship class showed me how to read the Bible in a way that made it come alive to me. I learned how to read it as a love letter then respond to it through prayer and journaling, turning my quiet time into a living dialogue with and that has changed everything.

Q: In the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus says of Mary, “This is the better part.” What did he mean by that?

I believe Jesus was inviting Martha to enjoy the friendship Mary discovered as she sat at His feet. Martha was so busy serving Jesus, she didn’t realize she could know Jesus. And that is the trap we all fall into from time to time — even those of us who are seasoned Christians.

Martha was a woman who loved Jesus. She was operating in her gifts — the Greek word for “preparations” in Luke 10:38 is diakonia. It can be translated as “ministry.” Martha wasn’t showing off. She was doing what women did back then, working really hard so everyone else could worship. But Jesus offered her something she didn’t know she could have: intimacy with Him. It wasn’t “more” that Jesus required. In fact, I think it was less.

Jesus was saying, “Martha, Martha . . . come sit at my feet. Come find life for your soul.” And that’s the invitation He gives to each one of us today.

Q: Would you mind sharing with us what the words “at the feet of Jesus” mean to you?

Ah, I love that phrase! I had always viewed devotions as a duty — something all good Christians should do. One more thing to be added to my to-do list. But I’ve found that it’s so much more than that! When Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the “Better Part,” He wasn’t insisting that she add one more thing to her busy day ; He was offering her a relationship — a chance to take off her apron and lay aside her duties and just rest in His presence. That’s what “at the feet of Jesus” means to me, Hanging out with the Lord, just loving Him and allowing Him to love me.

Q: What are some of the areas that you encourage your readers to dig deeper into?

I really want people to get into God’s Word for themselves. Before I learned how to have my own quiet time, I once heard a woman say, “I love this book!” and she hugged her Bible to her chest. I remember sitting there thinking, “Wow. A lot of the time I don’t even understand that book.” But as I’ve spent time in the Bible, I have fallen in love with the Word of God. And that’s my prayer for those who use this devotional.

Don’t worry about what you don’t understand in the Bible. Start with an easy-to-understand book like Mark or James or one of Paul’s smaller epistles. Read slowly and in smaller portions. Think about ways to apply what you read to your life. Don’t worry about getting through the Bible in a year if you’re just starting out. Just let the Bible get through to you.  

Q: How do we find a balance of both worship and service?

As a pastor’s wife and mother, I’m constantly trying to find the answer to that question. To be honest, it looks different every day. Some days I have more time for contemplation and worship. Other days, it is busy, busy, busy. But I’m learning to invite Jesus into every moment rather than compartmentalize Him into a part of my day. To prayerfully ask Him to walk with me as I go about my tasks, rather than beat myself up when I haven’t kept my quiet time schedule. But I’m also learning to purposely guard and prioritize my time with Him. Because the truth is, I need Jesus! I don’t have enough on my own to be the wife, the mother, the friend I want to be. But He’s promised to provide everything I need if I’ll seek His kingdom first.

Learn more about Joanna Weaver and her books at www.JoannaWeaverBooks.com. Readers can also keep up with her via Facebook andTwitter.

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