Dr. Winter’s Top Priority

Dr. Ralph Winter, General Director of the Frontier Mission Fellowship, wrote a short essay on Saturday, the 12th of June in 1999 with the title “The Most Important Thing” and the subtitle “A rationale for daily inspiration.” He begins with the heading “The Battle for the Bible: Advice to Myself.” He says there really is a battle going on, and the Enemy of our souls considers it the greatest battle for our soul regarding the fact that the Bible keeps us from sin and sin keeps us from the Bible. The battle is emotional as well as spiritual. If we lack an appetite for the Word of God, any small excuse can divert us. Winter writes, “If we look forward with anticipation and excitement we are much more likely to seek and to find God’s Word to us.” So it is a choice we have to set our affections on things above rather than on things on the earth. The Bible calls us to choose to delight in God and God’s will. Paul means “Rejoice in the Lord” as a command and goes on to say that things worthy of us thinking on and dwelling upon are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise. These are commands too. Philippians 4 assures us that commands are accompanied by the marvelous promise that to practice them leads to the God of peace being with us.

Therefore, Dr. Winter states that even before we get out of bed each day, we should:

  • Deliberately focus our groggy minds on the Bible
  • Try to remember what we learned from the Bible the previous day
  • Reflect on what new insights may be acquired today
  • Hang on for dear life!
  • Do the minimum amount of dressing and stirring around before opening our Bibles

Of course we must brush our teeth, maybe check the newspaper headlines. But paying attention to a news broadcast is less of a priority to Winter than walking into the day with God and the things of Him uppermost in our minds. What if we go to bed late one night? Follow Plan B since we take time away from the morning if it is used up the night before. Maybe it is carelessness or even a demonic diversion, Winter mentions, so we should repent of it and get on with the day. We can focus our hearts on God even without brand new input from the Bible. We are to be sure to recall the high point of the day before and ask for God’s forgiveness. Winter encourages, “Hang on to Him and to the God-conscious life He has asked you to live.”

The next heading is “The Battle for the Bible: Advice to Others.” HOW do we read the Bible? Only reading may not suffice. Chewing and inwardly digesting is important. Most important is for God to deposit some new, fresh thought into our minds and hearts. After all, the Bible assures that His mercies are new every morning. So Winter asks that we not let thoughts God gives to us escape but to jot them down and journal with determination. Studying the Bible may not be good enough either. Study accompanied by spiritual reflection is preferable. The Bible is not a book that is magical and pops truth into our minds without us seriously studying it. Winter supports the Inductive Bible Study approach and calls it valuable. He also differentiates a time for study and a time for spiritual refreshment and says some of both each day is good. A plan is good, moreover, unless it becomes our master. Jesus said the Sabbath is for man and not man for the Sabbath. “Satan would love to tie us up in knots by giving us arbitrary ‘goals’ of athletic-like Bible-reading achievement. Something we can boast about.”

Winter suggests we not go at it alone because everyone benefits from encouragement and accountability. It can be so helpful if we share our aspirations with another person who is willing to check on us. If we eagerly hear from God, we will eagerly share what we hear. All that God speaks to us, whether by way of admonition, solace, or inspiration, is worth sharing with others. Winter cautions, however, about the snare of the teacher or preacher. Some may go to the Bible simply because they are desperate for something to share to impress others. Winter identifies this as a snare and continues, “In that case we are not seeking God in that quiet desperation but seeking to save ourselves embarrassment or failure.” He concludes by reminding us that walking with God is a high aspiration that is rewarding and strengthening. Over time we learn more how to approach it exactly. Practicing God’s presence takes practice but it is worthwhile. In the course of our lives, it indeed may be “the most important thing.”

Word of God

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