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Abide 4 – The Importance of Journaling Day 1 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2)

Introduction In Abide 3, you saw that there are 14 weeds which hinder one’s ability to hear God’s voice. You were also introduced to a very useful tool called S.T.A.R., which helps people quiet themselves to hear God.

In Abide 4, the practice of journaling will be addressed. Even if this seems like something that would be hard for you, are you willing to consider the benefits? Many people have learned to journal, and have fallen in love with it!  

Where does the idea of journaling, as followers of the Way, come from? What is it good for? How do you do it?  

The idea of journaling really comes from the Bible. God didn’t just write out or dictate to someone one big Bible. Instead, one way that the stories, commands and prophecies were shared from one generation to another was orally – they had to carefully memorize them and pass them along.  

Eventually these stories, commands, and prophecies, etc. were gathered and committed to writing, like the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) and the Gospels (first four books of the New Testament). In other cases, prophets wrote down prophecies that they received over the years, and then they were collected into a book, often named after the prophet who received and ‘journaled’ them. You can even see that prayer conversations were also written down (journaled)!  

Now, this is not to suggest that your journaling has the same level of authority as the Bible – of course not! The point is simply to say that journaling is not a new thing – it has been practiced for thousands of years!  

Different Kinds of Journaling  

1. Devotional Journal What is a devotional journal and how can you use it?

• First, this can be your daily journal, to record things the Lord is primarily saying to you through his Word and through listening to him in prayer

• Second, you can use it to record what was received in prayer as you prayed with a spouse, or with others in the body of Christ

• Third, you can use it to record prophetic words sent to you from family, prayer partners, friends, or others in the church. Or if you sense that the Lord has given you a dream, you can record the dream in your journal

• Fourth, you can also track answers to prayer in this journal. This can be a real faith builder and motivation to pray!   Of course, you do not have to record everything that you ever receive in prayer, or from others. You must be selective. Otherwise, you’ll just write for the rest of your life! God is THAT generous in leading his people!  

2. Life Journal This is where you record significant events in your life, marriage, family, career, and ministry. This is a selective, but very significant journal, recounting stories of what God has done, including dates, names, and places.  

3. Topical Journal You may want to have a journal that has different categories where you can specifically track God’s wisdom in a specific area of your life. Of course, this can be done in your devotional journal, but some people like having something separate for this activity.

Possible topics include: finances, character growth, ministry inside/outside the church, evangelism, marriage and family, other relationships, etc.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7)

1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What are the 3 kinds of journals described in this lesson?

3. What are 4 ways that you can use a devotional journal?  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Text or call 3 friends who are followers of the Way. Ask them if they journal and what kinds of journals they use. Also ask them to share what they have found useful about journaling.

2. Prepare to start journaling. This can be on paper or electronically. If you have no journals, start with a devotional journal. Get it ready this week! (put it in your schedule)

3. If you already have a devotional journal, you could start a Life Journal this week (again, put it in your schedule if this is a step you’ll take).  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 7:1-12.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 2 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Reasons for Journaling  

First: so we remember what God has done for us, our family, and our church People are prone to quickly forget what God has done for them. As a result, they may end up being ungrateful. When a person journals, it’s a way of treasuring what God has graciously done for them. People treasure many other things in this life, even have a special place for them. In the same way, why wouldn’t you treasure what your Saviour has done for you, putting it in a special place – your journal?   Of course, this will also generate thanksgiving, praise, and worship in your life!  

Second: when we review what God has done – family (and those you disciple) will be less inclined to turn away from him   Just before Moses died, he repeatedly warned the people not to forget what the Lord had done, as forgetfulness would result in turning from God. Almost the entire book of Deuteronomy records his encouragement and warnings.   For this very reason as well, the psalmist commits to reviewing what the Lord has done with the succeeding generations.

Psalm 78:4-11 (NIV) we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done ... Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands … The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.   There are many extra benefits to this – e.g. Pastor Ray Duerksen, founder of Church Renewal, which generates these lessons – shares family and faith stories on many Sunday afternoons with his children and grandchildren and calls it, “Papa’s Story Time.” These stories come right from his journal. Such “remembering and declaring” is biblical.  

Third: we remember approx. 70% more if we write it down  

Fourth: so we don’t forget the guidance or promises he has already given us, while we are waiting on him to move   The Lord may be guiding you through a situation that will take weeks, months, or even years to navigate. Much happens in your life when you are waiting, and the promises or guidance may fade from your memory. You may be tempted to lose hope, or you may forget what he already instructed you to do. BUT if you have it journaled, you can quickly recover and review what he has already shown you.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. Which 4 reasons were shared today regarding why you should journal?

3. How can previous journal entries help you stay filled with hope?  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Take your Devotional or your Life Journal. Spend some time recording a list of things that God has done for you personally. Ask God to help you with remembering (he loves to do this).

2. Take your Devotional or your Life Journal. Spend some time recording a list of things that God has done for your family (if not married, you can include parents, even if this includes good things that happened historically).

3. Memorize Matthew 28:18-20.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 7:13-23.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 3 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Yesterday, four reasons for journaling were highlighted. Today, you’ll be exposed to four more reasons. Please remember that some people take a lot of time to learn how to journal, but when it becomes a habit – wow, their faith is greatly increased! That’s where you’ll start today …  

Fifth: when we continually rehearse what God has done for us, it will build faith, and the faith of others - to do what he wants us to do next   As you rehearse what God has done, your own faith for next steps begins to grow. What a gift this is for a follower of the Way! And as you share your stories with others, you will begin to notice that they too want to live by faith. It can also help you cast the vision that God has given you in any area that you have influence (i.e. family, small group, work). The devotional and life journals that you develop and use will help you greatly in this regard.  

Sixth: time has a way of revising history. When we record it, we will remember what God actually did. This is important in a church where a pastor has obeyed the Lord and done the difficult things God asked them to do. Some, who may have been around at that time, may wish for the history to be forgotten, or the story modified to suit their own thoughts or to receive credit. Then people forget what God actually accomplished! This reason for journaling can also be very important for families and for your own individual journeys.  

Seventh: when we rehearse what God has done for us, to our family and anything we lead it will grow great trust in our discipleship and witness, which will help us in the present . Put simply, you will need God stories to effectively disciple others! Yesterday you were encouraged to memorize Matthew 28:18-20 and its command to make disciples. From the moment you become a follower of the Way, you should begin to pray about making disciples – it’s to be normal activity for such followers. Having a record of what God has done will greatly increase your ability to be obedient to Jesus in carrying out this great and wonderful responsibility.  

Eighth: to leave behind a recorded legacy for the next generations There is no greater inheritance that parents can leave their children than a godly example! As it says in the Psalms, Psalm 145:4 (NIV) One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. If you have children, is this something that you are doing?  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What 4 reasons for journaling were shared today?

3. How can journaling help you in discipling or influencing others?  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Take your Devotional or your Life Journal. Spend some time recording a list of things that God has done in the church you currently attend or in some of the people in the church. Ask God to help you with remembering (He loves to do this).

2. Review John 15:5-6, Romans 12:2 and Matthew 28:18-20.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 7:24-29.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 4 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) Did you know that if you were to read the biographies of hundreds of ordinary followers of the Way, who did extraordinary things for God, that you would discover that almost 100% of them journaled? Can you humble yourself before their example?  

Today, you’ll be introduced to some good reasons for “prayer conversations with God.” And you’ll be encouraged to record some of these! Now, it may seem hard or even awkward at first, but there are four good reasons to journal your prayer conversations. And this is a shorter lesson, because you have a longer Life Application today!  

Reasons for Journaling Prayer Conversations with God  

First: we see A LOT of conversational prayer in the Bible  

Second: when writing out the conversation with God, it moves us from being tentative about what God is saying and moves us over to faith in what he is saying When people are learning to intentionally listen to God, they sometimes wrestle with thoughts such as: “is this God speaking, or is this my thought, or is it the devil speaking?” So instead of moving forward in a conversation with God, they get stuck with these questions running around in their heads, preventing a conversation with Jesus. When you begin writing, it keeps you from dismissing what you are receiving. Every stroke of the pen or the keyboard is an act of faith. Very soon the person becomes comfortable with conversing with God.  

Third: it will keep our mind focused, rather than thinking about what’s on our to-do list for the day; or other random things that distract  

Fourth: research shows that we remember more of what we wrote  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading. 2. What are 4 good reasons for recording your prayer conversations with God?  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Write down 3-5 questions that you have for God. You will be using this list during Day 5.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 8:1-17. 2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you. 3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 5 Renew the Mind (Romans 12:2) How to Journal Prayer Conversations with God Thankfully, it’s not at all complicated for you to journal your prayer conversations with God! After all, Jesus said that everyone would hear his voice; not just some ‘elites.’ If you think about how a human conversation might go, you begin to realize that it’s quite simple and logical for anyone.   When you wish to begin a conversation with someone, you either state something or ask something. Then you wait and listen for the response. Conversing with God is the same.

So, when you journal, you might want to do something like this . . .

• Begin by writing down your own first initial with a colon – i.e. R:

• Then write out your prayer to God – it may begin with a sentence or sentences of thanksgiving and praise for what he has done for you that day or week. Again, praise is one of the key ways that you can come into the Father’s presence

• Or you might wish to write out a sentence or sentences, confessing some sin you committed that day or the day before. This is another way to enter his presence  

So, it might look something like this …  

R: Lord, I just want to praise and thank you for the huge answer to prayer today! I can’t tell you how grateful I feel inside. Only you could have done that. What a gift from you. I really love you! You are such a wonderful Father.  

At this point you can write the letter “G:” (for God) and then listen with your pen pressed on the paper, or fingers hovering over the keyboard, for the first thought. As soon as you begin to have a thought or a picture, you just begin writing – not debating in your mind where it came from. It could look something like this …  

G: You have no idea what joy it gave me to answer this prayer for you.. I have wanted to reveal myself to you as one who delights to answer your prayers. I am so pleased that you were one of those who came back to say thank you – not everyone does.  

It could be that much; it could be less, and it could be more. Who cares? It’s a conversation! There’s no rules for a conversation! You’re just enjoying a conversation together.  

Now you might ask, “What would I do next?” What do you FEEL like doing next?! There’s no right or wrong here. Perhaps you have a question for the Lord – remember, you’re having a conversation.

Take the lead, the Lord delights in spending time with you! He is NOT too busy for you – ever!   Let’s try a question …  

R: Lord, I have this big decision to make (marriage, family, work, ministry). I just don’t know if it’s best to do this or that?  

G: Why don’t you …...?  

R: Lord, I never even thought about that! Thank you for that incredible insight.  

R: And how do you think I should go about doing that? How do I convince so and so that this is what we need to do?  

G: Why don’t you ask so and so to listen in prayer with you? I will speak to both of you at the same time.  

R: Oh Lord, you are truly amazing.  

For Your Journal Reflecting and Reviewing (2 Timothy 2:7) 1. In your own journal, write down something that stood out to you from today’s reading.

2. What are the important aspects of a conversation between people? This answer can help you understand how to have a great conversation with God!  

Life Application (James 1:22) 1. Go back to Day 4, Life Application Question 2. You wrote down a list of questions that you have for God. Pick 1 of them and in your journal record a conversation with God about that question.

2. Pick a second question to ask God and go through the same process. If this feels very new for you, don’t give up! You’ll be developing brand new habits that will eventually be automatic.

3. Review Matthew 28:18-20.  

Bible Reading 1. Please read Matthew 8:18-34.

2. Write down 1 or 2 verses from the passage that stuck out to you.

3. Take time to quiet yourself before Jesus and meditate on the verses. Write down any thoughts that come to mind.  

Day 6 Final Steps 1. Review John 15:5-6, Romans 12:2 and Matthew 28:18-20.

2. You are now done Abide 1-4. It is a good time to do a heart check – are you approaching this with a soft heart, taking steps forward and encountering Jesus? Or are other things getting in the way, such as stubbornness or an independent spirit, or things that matter less than being close to Jesus?    


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