How many of us started the COVID-19 lockdown in March with the intention to spend more time with God? How are we getting on? Might now be a good time to challenge ourselves once again to seek our Father’s face?

In Ephesians 5, Paul, pretty much, does exactly that, as he encourages the church to look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15 – 17, ESV). I love the NKJV translation of verse 16: redeeming the time”.

Granted, with schools closed and physical distancing measures in place, lockdown has made many busier than usual, perhaps with just about enough time for a verse and quick prayer each day. But surely, for those who have more time on their hands there remains a golden opportunity to make good use of it.

The wisdom from those verses in Ephesians is clear: we would do well to search out the best ways of using our time, redeeming it, leading us to a greater understanding of our Father and His character. So, how can we make the best use of this time? My recommendation is that we spend more time in God’s word, approaching our times of Bible study like diligent students. You might choose to…

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Dedicate a time and place

Find a time and location where you’ll be able to read the Bible and pray each day. Establishing a routine is important because it’ll begin to mould that part of our day into a habit, resulting in it becoming more unusual not to spend time with God than setting aside time for Him.

Know your learning style

I’m wired to be systematic in everything I do. I love planning, lists, schedules and targets, and employing these techniques helps me to make the most of my time and prevents me from becoming overwhelmed. What’s your learning style?

Have realistic targets

Set yourself realistic and achievable goals. I usually give myself a month or longer to finish studying a book, because this time allows me to understand what God is trying to teach me and results in me being less likely to speed through a book to just check it off my list.

Read an entire book

Spend time going through a book of the Bible from beginning to end. This can be a good way to understand both the themes of a particular book and how what is recorded in the book fits into the wider biblical narrative.

Think big

Expanding on the previous point, when studying a book of the Bible, have the big biblical pictures in mind. You might think God’s redemption plan (Genesis to Revelation), God’s faithfulness / Abrahamic covenant (Old Testament), God’s wisdom and love (Job, Psalms, Lamentations), the church’s calling (Corinthians, Titus, Jude) or something else.

As we take seriously our time with God, going deeper into the individual books of the Bible, we start to see more clearly how God’s plans and purposes fit together, and this helps us to grow into the image of our saviour, Jesus Christ. So, shall we put some of these suggestions into practice today or this week?

In line with the theme of this edition of idea, we can endeavour over the next month or so to know even more God’s heart for justice. We can start with Genesis, as right from the moment Satan deceives Adam and Eve (chapter 3), God promises that he will be overcome by Jesus (verse 15).

Or we can start with Romans, the book Dr Karen Fulton based her article on (page 2 of this edition of idea). Instead, we might opt to start with Isaiah, a book referenced by many other contributors to this edition of the magazine. Or, how about one of my favourites, Micah, about which senior pastor Stephen Um writes: We were created to worship God, to walk with Him through our lives. And true worship of God calls us to do justice, and to love kindness’”?

As we take seriously our time with God, we start to see how His plans and purposes fit together.