Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Onward Christian Soldiers"1 (Lyrics)

Looking at a first-level workbook in the Accelerated Christian Education system, a high school student exclaimed, "Mrs. B, I want to do this work. It looks so easy!" To him it appeared easy, but to the first grader whose book it was, it was simply his work.

How does a student get from one level of difficulty to another? It's called training. Learning with the mind, just like training the body, has three components: a starting point, manageable chunks, and repetition. Isaiah, in speaking of the wayward Israelites who would not listen to the Lord, said:

Isaiah 28:13a – So the Lord will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there. (NLT)

In our Christian school, when a five- or six-year-old student tested "ready to read", he started learning the sounds of the alphabet, then blending them together to make words. These words made sentences, which then became short stories. Progress was ensured because there was a definite starting point: the child's readiness for learning. Small segments, taken one at a time, only gradually became more complicated. Lots of repetition and a computer-controlled vocabulary led to reading fluency.

1 Peter 2:2a – Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. (NLT)

Learning to read can be likened to our Christian lives. The starting point is our new birth in Christ, where God's Spirit is joined to our spirit. Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the words of the Bible and teachings that we hear begin to make sense. At first, we proceed in baby steps. Babies need milk at the beginning of their lives; they can't digest solid food. New Christians learn simple truths to know how to do right.

Hebrews 5:14 – Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (NLT)

When we are discipling new believers, remember that the simple truths that they've been learning can gradually be replaced with solid food, more complicated truths. They should be fed these truths in manageable chunks, a bite at a time. These truths should not be shoved down their throats whole, or they may choke with too much information.

A Christian needs to keep eating in order to grow. Even mature Christians, who have known the Lord for many years, need to keep on learning and have constant repetition in the lessons of the Bible. Sometimes, we need to "go around the mountain one more time" if we have not learned our lesson the first time. Some of us, myself included, need lots of practice in certain lessons.

How gracious is our God, Who gives us plenty of chances to practise what He wants us to know! He is gently training us in righteousness.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You are a gentle teacher, Who breaks down the lessons that we need to learn into bite-sized pieces and gives us plenty of opportunities to practise until we learn them. Help us not to be impatient when we have to repeat lessons over and over to master them. We welcome Your training so that we can become more like You. Amen.

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About the author:

Alice Burnett <terrencera.burnett@gmail.com>
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you, Alice.


    You have an ACE school in Red Deer?


    Thanks, Alice, for the words of encouragement.


    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.


    Thank you, Alice for sharing your understanding, hope and strength today.


    So helpful and encouraging and well said …thank you !!
    (N S)


    I appreciate your important and easy to understand “Training” devotional. Thank you, with blessings.


    Thank you, Alice.
    I enjoyed your devotion for today
    (Quebec)


    Alice, how timely; this describes the very steps my six-year-old granddaughter is taking to reading AND the steps her Gram must apply each day in my walk with Christ.


    That is so true. Thank you for the reminder. I need His Word more all the time and learning new truths is so wonderful. Thanks Alice, you have a wonderful gift for teaching.


    Good morning Alice.
    This is such a good devotion, says so well that too much should not be expected of new Christians, they need time to absorb everything and understand.
    Thank you for this.
    Blessings.


    Hello Alice,
    Thank you for another of your interesting and mindful devotionals. Yes, when reading God’s word, we really need take time to digest His word on a regular basis. It is amazing how delving into scripture can enlighten our mind and attitude. Blessings for writing this devotional.


    Hello Alice,
    Your message today was very insightful for me. While visiting my brother with my developmentally challenged son we went past a road sign indicating the way to Jacob’s Gate. I started singing a song I learned as a child with the words “We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, soldiers of the cross”. I was trying to tell the story of Jacob’s ladder to him. I did NOT do a very good job because I did not remember the details of the story. I told him I would look the story up in the Bible and tell him the story later, which of course I will do.
    So, your devotional really resonated with me! Thank you for reminding me that I still need to go over and over the lessons God teaches me from His word.
    (ON)

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