Forgive me for being so personal but, evaluate your day. What are you doing with it?
Many of us have routines in our lives that we do not even notice. Often, they are routines that we could do without. There are things we need to do that we don’t do and things that we don’t need to do that we do.
I heard a statement recently that I cannot get out of my mind. It has pierced me to the very core of my heart. It said, “What you do daily determines what you will become permanently.” So again, what do you do with your day? I am challenged to look into my daily routines and see what my habits are.
Habits are okay for our lives as long as they are the good kinds of habits. Life controlling substances are not good habits, but spiritual habits are good. As believers we often find it hard to discipline ourselves in spiritual things. We find it difficult to “MAKE” time to do the things necessary for us to be sharp spiritually. It is a decision on the believers part to pray, to read the Word, to witness and serve the Lord. These should be a daily habit of ours.
The Bible tells us to Redeem the Time and so we should but we must redeem the time for the things of God. Paul even said that we should keep our minds on things above. The way to do these things is to discipline ourselves and form a habit of focusing on the Lord.
In the above statement it said we would become what we do daily. If I want to have a relationship with God and be known by Him, I must pray daily. If I want to KNOW Him, I should make habit of reading His Word daily. The Word is Him. The Word Is God. If I want to have His heart, I should be a witness daily, for God’s heart is for the lost.
Often, we make a habit of things that have no eternal value and that is sometimes necessary on our jobs and so forth. The fact is, however, that we should never forsake the most important habits that are found in the things of God. Friends, you will become what your daily routine is. If you do not like your daily routine change it. Don’t dread the day! Make God your habit and your hum-drum day will turn into a day of joy and peace.
Here is something we can all try. In E.M. Bounds book The Complete Book of Prayer, he quotes a gentleman that has a great “tactic” of prayer. I think it would do our community and world good if we employed something similar.
Sir Thomas Browne wrote, “I purpose to take occasion of praying upon the sight of any church which I may pass, that God may be worshipped there in spirit, and that souls may be saved there; to pray daily for my sick patients and the patients of other physicians; at my entrance into any home to say, “May the peace of God dwell here;” after hearing a sermon, to pray for a blessing on God’s truth…upon the sight of a deformed person, to pray God to give them wholeness of soul, and by an by to give them the beauty of the resurrection.”
We should put these things into practice. It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said, “Pray without ceasing”.
In my devotional reading, I stumbled upon a great verse in Psalms. It is a simple prayer that David prayed in the midst of his declaration. Psalm 68 is a psalm of praise to God. It declares God’s provision of deliverance and victory. It is an offering of worship for an all-powerful God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or even imagine.
As David recounts God’s power and justice, he prays, “Summon your might, O God. Display your power, O God, as you have in the past..” (Psalm 68:28 NLT)
I like that wording, “summons your might”. A summons is a calling by an authority to show something. The Psalmist prays, “God You have the authority to summons, show us your power.” As I read that portion of Psalm 68 I couldn’t help but think about how powerful a simple prayer can be. “Summons your power, the power by which you have worked for us.” David was praying, “Lord, show us your power, the power, you have worked so many times before.”
This ought to be the cry of our heart. A cry for God to reveal Himself in the power of the early church. The power that is revealed in the words of the Holy Scriptures. My prayer is as David’s, “O God, we need your power. You have worked it before, work it again.”
When I have a little free time in the office, I generally take a look back at some things that have impacted my life. Years ago, my grandfather was in ministry and carried a loose-leaf Bible with sermon notes inside of it. I enjoy reading through these notes to see if I can glean anything from his words of wisdom.
In his sermon on a passage in Ezekiel, he made an insightful statement that cut me to the heart. “Remember, if you are hungry, you are healthy. Hunger is a sign of health and if you have no hunger for God, you are sick. May God create in us an appetite which only Jesus can satisfy. Down, Christian, down on your knees, if you want the blessing that God will give to you.”
Are you hungry for God? If you are not hungry your spiritual life is sick. The only remedy for hunger is to take the path to blessing. On our knees is the place to find hunger. On our knees is the place to have our hunger satisfied.
In this life we have so many things competing for our affections. It is hard to keep our hearts hungry for more of God. If you find yourself in a place where you are not hungry for Him, you need healing from your spiritual sickness. God will place in you a hunger if you will only ask Him. May we hunger for the Bread of Life!
DISCLAIMER: This is a lengthy article. Since, we are not having church because of the weather, I thought I would share what was on my heart for our message tonight.
Monday, we drove out to the Buffalo River area and gazed at the beauty of God’s creation. The rising bluffs that create a marvelous backdrop for the Buffalo River. The water was flowing freely, and the rapids were rushing, not turbulently, but at least steadily. I love this area of Arkansas. Truly, it is a gift from our Creator.
Sonya and I have frequented this area many times. In all four seasons, yet it is in winter that you notice the lack of life. The trees look dead. The leaves have fallen, the grass is brown, and apart from a smattering of evergreens, there is little color in the wintertime.
One thing we must remember, however, is that even though it looks lifeless, it doesn’t mean it’s dead. The trees are very much alive even though there are no leaves on their limbs. Winter, in itself, holds its own beauty. But one oft overlooked blessing in the cold season is that you can see things you never saw when the trees were teeming with life. With the tress full of leaves, you cannot see at a distance. The view is blocked. Therefore, the winter season produces a greater vision than the summertime.
In Psalm 42, the Psalmist is walking through a winter season of his life. He is missing the house of worship, being around God’s people, and we even catch a glimpse of his thought that perhaps God is absent during these moments. Things had changed drastically in his life. So much so that he reveals his heart is breaking because he misses the times of singing for joy and relishing the celebration.
The Psalmist then begins to question, “Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” Have you been there before? Walked through a winter season of depression?
Our tendency in those seasons is to focus on the gloom of the winter. No sign of life. Things look and feel dead or at least, as if the presence of God has escaped us. This is when the Psalmist changes his perspective. Why am I discouraged and feel so sad? Yet, I will hope in God! I will praise Him again! He is no longer looking at the lifeless winter, but the God who is full of life. When our season feels like a long winter, we have to change the way we see things. We have to look up, rather than around.
In verse 8, the writer gives us the greatest shot of hope while also giving us instruction.
“But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.” -Psalm 42:8 NLT-
The Psalmist shows us that God is always pouring His unfailing love on us. This gives us a reason for living. But here comes our response to that unfailing love. It should cause us to have a song in our heart. “Through each night I sing His songs.” When we are embraced by the unfailing love of God, we should have a song. It gives us a reason to sing.
Our next instruction tells us that if we are in winter and lack life, we need to pray to God. “Praying to God who gives me life.” Life comes when we are connected to Him in prayer. In Psalm 43:4 it tells us that we should build our altar to God, who is our source of joy. These verses remind us of the power of prayer to get us through the gloomy season.
As I was thinking on these verses, it sparked a way that we need to pray when we need life. I’m not talking about our next breath, but rather life in our soul, spiritual life. If that is what you need, try patterning your prayer this way:
LISTEN TO GOD
Psalm 46:10 tells us to “be still and know that He is God…” We must slow down our lives long enough to listen to His voice. Listening for Him to calm us, lead us, and draw us to Him.
In his book, Getting Your Life Back, John Eldredge writes about the One Minute Pause. Taking just 60 seconds to stop, breathe, and listen to Him. During the One Minute Pause, Eldredge says it is a time to release to God whatever is weighing us down. He gives a couple of questions to ask that will help us focus during these 60 seconds. Simply, ask and listen.
1. What do I need to let go of? (What is weighing me down?)
Pause and give it to God. Let it go.
2. What do I need from God today?
Pause and ask Him for it.
Eldredge encourages everyone to do this multiple times throughout the day. I challenge you to make this a part of your daily life.
INTERCEDE FOR OTHERS
Nothing helps us take the focus off of our own situations like praying for others who are in need. The Bible is emphatic about our need to “stand in the gap” for others. (Ezekiel 22:30, I Timothy 2:1-2, Matthew 5:44, Ephesians 6:18)
If you have trouble finding things to pray about, just take this summary from the verses mentioned above.
The nation and our leaders
Family and Friends
People who are going through hardship
There are needs all around us, and the way to breathe life into your winter season is to focus on the needs of others. If you focus on their needs, it will help you to not be glued to all the troubles you are walking through.
The Bible does tell us that we are to pray for ourselves. It is not unselfish. We are instructed to pray for our own needs.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (I Peter 5:7 NLT)
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
“Commit your future to the Lord.” (Psalm 37:5 NET)
The word commit in Psalm 37:5 carries the idea of rolling your burden onto the Lord. It pictures a camel loaded down with cargo, kneeling down, and rolling to its side to unload its weight. This means that we are literally to roll our burdens off on to God. We do this by praying for our own needs.
EXALT THE LORD
Remember, the Psalmist in Psalm 42:8 said that he sang songs throughout the night. We are also told in other places that we are to exalt the Lord. It is during our time of prayer that we should take time to worship the Lord for who He is and give thanks for what He has done. The Apostle Paul connected letting our requests being made known to God and giving thanks. When we are thankful for what He has done, it helps us have faith for things He hasn’t down yet.
Friends, I encourage you to build an altar and pray to the God who gives us life.
Listen to God Intercede for others For Yourself Exalt the Lord.
When you do these things, you will find clarity and spiritual life even in your winter seasons.
Have you ever tried to find quiet in a noisy world?
Today’s life is filled with busy activities and things that clutter our minds. We often feel that the more we have to do on our calendar the better. After all staying busy, “Keeps us out of trouble”, right?
However, when is the last time you stopped to smell the roses? When is the last time that you sat down uninterrupted for 20 to 30 minutes and just meditated on the things of God?
Psalm 46 declares, “Be still and know that I am God.”
It is often hard to hear God’s voice or even to sense His presence when everything else is calling our name. We always have another place to go, another thing to do, another call to make. Remember, however, to take time to be still. God’s embrace is not very far away. You just have to stop long enough to embrace Him back.
I challenge you this week to take 30 minutes alone in a place that is free from distraction. Do not turn on your cell phone, or bring anything with you but your Bible and be still. That’s right, Be still! I know it is hard for some people to “sit around” but take the challenge anyway.
Be still and you will find refreshing for your weary soul.