Optimizing theWord For Personal Devotions
Fine Tuning TW To Get The Most Out of Your Quiet Time With God
There are a lot of different phrases people use to describe their quiet time with
God (and that was one of them -
The Elements of Personal Devotions
In another blog, I’ve written about the elements of personal devotions. I will not rewrite here what I’ve already written there. I will, though, list the typical (and important!) ingredients of what I consider a successful* devotional life. The core of personal worship revolves around these disciplines:
And we could add to that
TheWord does this in a marvelous and wonderful way.
A Screenshot Model
Take a look at my screenshot. (You can mouseover for a larger view.) I call this layout “Study Bible II.”
Notice that the screen is divided into thirds. I have a lot of windows arranged here; so, I will refer to them in their “thirdrant” (not a quadrant, but a thirdrant). You’ll notice a left thirdrant, a center thirdrant, and a right thirdrant.
The left thirdrant has my Bible window, along with a very reduced Bible search window (which can be enlarged when necessary, which isn’t very often when I use this particular layout), and my daily Bible Readings Plan window.
The center thirdrant also has three windows. The top window is a general book window.
It is currently set to the Believer’s Bible Commentary. Those comments move verse
by verse as I move through my Bible reading. The middle window is another general
book window; it is set to the Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible. In order to use
this dictionary, all I have to do is click the word from the Bible window (like “grace”
from Prov 1:9, pictured), and the dictionary immediately moves to that entry (“grace”).
Nice. The bottom window in the center thirdrant is a book search window. This maximizes
my dictionary window. How? Well, if I right-
The right thirdrant has four windows; but only two of them are visible. The bottom window of the right thirdrant is another general book window showing the notes/commentary for the NKJV (this is a commentary; not a translation of the Bible). There are two floating windows at the top right of the screen. They show two important general books that are only available right here at the DDT website: a memory verse module and a prayer list module. Underneath those floating windows is one more general book window: this one is my Daily Devotions window set to Paul Enns’ excellent Approaching God daily devotional reader.
That is my devotional layout that I call “Study Bible II.” Now let me show you how I use it.
Before we go any further, though, you should read these blog posts (if you haven’t already) prior to working through the rest of the information in this blog.
My Method of Personal Devotions
No, I’m not a Methodist; I am an Independent Baptist. But I am, though, methodistic,
when it comes to personal Bible study! That’s because I have a method that I methodically
use (and not because of any affiliation I have with John Wesley -
My devotional time starts with the reading of The Scriptures. I like to read through the Bible every year, and the Book of Proverbs every month. So I just click my reading(s) for the day, and read my Bible.
While I’m reading, I like to look for a verse or passage to add to my Bible memory work. So, if I find something to memorize, I move it to the memory verse floating window.
If I have any questions I want to research while I’m reading, I can quickly consult two of my brief commentaries that I have synced with my Bible. I can also quickly hit the letter “L” on the keyboard to call up my commentary links. Every commentary that is installed is quickly at my fingertips!
If I want to write anything in my personal notes, I use the book view in the bottom
right thirdrant. I just click my notes (“My Verse-
I don’t typically do any “Scripture searching” while having devotions; but if something comes to mind that I want to research, I can simply maximize the Bible search window that is in the left thirdrant.
Once all of my Bible reading is finished, I click the check box in the Reading plans
window. IMPORTANT: It is at this point -
My next task is to work on Bible memory and meditation. I drag the bottom of the
memory verse window to the bottom of the screen so that it fills the entire left
thirdrant, and go to work on my verses. I have 40 verses lists (dailys, weeklies
for every day of the week, monthlies for every day of the month, and quarterlies).
Every day I work the dailys, the weeklies for the day of the week, and the monthlies
for the day of the month. Once every three months I review the quarterly verses.
Once that is finished, I close the “My Memory-
Next up is prayer time. My “My Prayer-
My final devotional task is to read from my “daily devotional” reader. The window
that was exposed when the prayer list window was closed is my devotional window.
Closing the bottom window in the right thirdrant will allow the daily devotional
window to take up the whole column -
Click the “...readings for today” button (or the “Tools / Daily Readings ...” menu). The “Daily Readings” tool will automatically open. Since it always remembers its last position, I’ve moved it into the center thirdrant. It looks like it belongs there! I’m now ready to read however many daily devotionals I want to read. IMPORTANT: since only one book window can be active at a time, you should activate your daily devotional window by clicking in it once prior to choosing your daily devotional readings. If you don’t do this correctly, you’ll think your devotional reader tool is not working, when in reality it is opening the daily readings in the bottom left window (which was the last active book window).
The Great Thing About This
is how everything is integrated together. I can check a commentary in conjunction
with a daily devotional reading simply by clicking the devotional reference. The
Bible moves to that reference -
Building the Layout
Let’s start by opening pre-
Dock** the Bible window to the left thirdrant. Now the hardest part of the setup
begins: configuring your Bible options. There are literally hundreds of different
ways to configure your Bible window. I’ll show you how my “Study Bible II” is configured;
then you’ll be on your own to experiment. Click the “Bible Options Gear” (or CTRL-
Good News: that’s the hardest part of this project!
Next, add a book view to the left thirdrant. Click “F12”. Then dock the new window that just appeared to the lower left thirdrant. This will be your Bible reading plan window. Load your current Bible reading plan; and move to “list view” for today’s date. Then close the topic tree. Now you can shrink this window just so that you can see today’s reading. Then, as you finish each day’s reading, simply scroll the line down to the next date.
Now click “F10” to add a Bible search window. Dock it in between the Bible window
and the Bible reading plan window. Shrink this window so that only the title bar
is visible. If during your devotional reading you decide to do a scripture search,
you can quickly 1) maximize; or 2) resize this window. I rarely perform a Bible search
during devotional reading -
Your left thirdrant is now finished.
The middle thirdrant is easy. Dock two more book views (“F12”) into the middle column.
The higher window is a succinct verse by verse commentary -
The middle thirdrant needs one more window -
NOTE: This is a little off-
You should have two book windows in the right thirdrant. If not, go ahead and add them (“F12”). The top one is going to be your daily devotional reading. (NOTE: If you’re going to read more than one daily devotional during your Quiet time, I’ve found it best to put the one that will appear first on the “...readings for today” button in this window. Not sure which one that is? Well, push the button! Then, “Choose Devotionals to read daily”, and select the devotionals you’ll be reading. You’ll also see that they are in the order that they will appear on the “Daily Readings” list. Put the first one in the top window in the right thirdrant.) I’ve selected Paul Enns’ excellent doctrinal devotional Approaching God. But I am also reading Kenneth Osbeck’s excellent Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories for Personal Devotions (it is great!). But Enns’ Approaching God is in the window.
The lower window has another Bible commentary. The notes/commentary for the NKJV
is another excellent module to use here -
Now take a look at all of your frames. Some of us are a little more obsessive than
others. . . . So, do all of the horizontal frames look good? If not, you can tinker
with them until all of the horizontal lines look just right. Once those are right,
save your layout (CTRL-
Now it’s time to add two floating windows. The two floating windows are the same size; one on top of the daily devotional window, and the other right on top of the first floating window. Let’s build them one at a time.
And . . . Ta Daa. This layout is done.
Ready For Personal Devotions
Just to review, here is how I use this layout to have my personal devotions.
Try this method out for a couple of days and see what you think. After that, you’ll be ready to make personal adjustments, so that this layout will fit with your daily devotional discipline. Drop me a note and let me know how it is working (or not) for you.
*Personal Devotions ultimately is the cultivation of a relationship with The Creator of the Universe and Redeemer of my/your soul. While there are tools/methods that can help that relationship grow, they in themselves do not make, nor grow, a right relationship with God. The tools/methods in this blog are simply one man (me) telling others (you) how he has found enjoyment in walking with his God (Jesus Christ).
**Docking windows in TW is easy -