HOW TO GROW SPIRITUALLY THROUGH DAILY DEVOTIONS

PERSONAL DAILY DEVOTIONS

In other articles of this blog, we have thought about habits of study, prayer, and meditation. These habits are ways to “sow to the Spirit” that we should make a part of our daily routine. They are ways to keep eternal life flowing throughout our daily living.

“Eternal life” is vibrant life. Sometimes your walk with God through everyday experiences is exciting. At other times, it is quiet repose as your tired body is being refreshed In times of conflict, it is peace with your choice of words and actions, as you follow the leading of the spirit and express your heartfelt concerns. This is eternal life now.

We do not know what the time after death holds, but we have some promises and the Holy Spirit to accompany us through that experience also. Do not be afraid to live with God. Then, like Jesus, although we may not enjoy the process of dying, we do not need to be afraid of death.

Do we ever feel bored or empty or angry? Yes, at times. Sometimes for good reasons. Or it may be a way to catch our attention so that we may grow into fuller maturity and be more effective in God’s kingdom now.

It may surprise you, but the scriptures indicate that even Jesus expressed anger at times. See

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2000/05/Did-Jesus-Get-Angry.aspx#

If you have not made a habit of living and walking daily with God through good feelings and bad feelings, I invite you to think of your typical day. How can you make talking with God, prayer, a habit (same time, same place or situation, same things–Bible, notebook, pen and other meditation aids such as or musical tapes)? In Judaism, the call to prayer is three times a day. In Islam, five times a day. The Apostle Paul, a Jew who helped establish what was later called Christianity, recommended that we “Pray without ceasing.” A book that is especially helpful to me is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, published by Peter Pauper Press in 1963. He recommends frequently calling our minds back to God in all our daily activities as soon as we become aware our thoughts have wandered. He thought it was a great delusion to think that the time of prayer ought to differ from other times.

When we read and meditate, it is helpful to pray first for God’s guidance, enlightenment, and wisdom as we study. Then we read and take special notice of anything that “stands out” or impresses us from what we have read. Our study is enriched if we pray then ask ourselves, “Does this mean something for me today? If so, What?” “What does it say about God, Jesus, God’s people, the situation at that time?” “What else comes to my mind as I think about this?” “Is there anything that I am supposed to do?”

As we are thinking about these questions we can write the answers in the notebook and make them part of our morning prayer for ourselves and others. If we need to do something, we can write down a plan of when, where, and how we will do that. If we have a serious question regarding an action, we are wise to telephone or somehow contact a brother or sister in God’s family to discuss it with them.

It also helps to make a “To do list” that is on a separate page and can be checked off when each thing is done. We can do the same with our prayer list for others. Then we can see how God is acting in our lives and the lives of others.

Be careful about what you do. Even Jesus was tempted to do wrong things when he was thinking and praying about God’s will for his life (Matt. 4:1-11). And Paul believed that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light at times at times and misleads people of goodwill (II Corinthians. 11:14).

Right now I am thinking about reports of people who literally tried to cut off a hand rather than do wrong and thought they were following the Bible, (Matt. 5:30, Mark 9:42-50). There have been times in some cultures when cutting off a hand was punishment for stealing and other wrong doing.

Significantly, Luke the physician and John, who emphasized love as a primary characteristic of God, did not report this saying. In Jesus’ time, most people understood that you loved yourself enough NOT to cut off your hand, and you would do all you could to avoid such a thing. I have no doubt that Jesus was speaking emphatically to help people realize the need to avoid doing those things that bring us into hell, whether hell in this life or in a future life. Jesus, known for healing and forgiving people, does not want you to hurt yourself by falling into temptation. And if we do wrong, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus himself asks God to forgive us (I John 2:1,2).

For some people prayer is a natural part of meditation and for others it is a struggle to learn. Remember, prayer is powerful and be careful what you pray. Especially, if you are angry. You may unleash unconscious forces that hurt other people. Prayer is letting every thought come before God consciously for cleansing. It is letting your Closest Friend, the Holy Spirit, speak the unspeakable yearnings of your soul. It is laying out all your thoughts, feelings, and emotions regarding a troubling situation. It is grateful praise for God’s intervention in insoluble situations. It is revealing your sadness to the Healer of the spirit. It is allowing God to love you, speak to you, comfort you and guide you, to hold you “In the Hollow of His Hand.”

Sometimes it is best to let God’s Spirit pray through you without putting any words into prayer (Rom. 8:26-27). God knows what is in your heart. God knows how best to deal with your situation.

Lift yourself and your situation to God in prayer and ask that God’s will be done. If pain ensues, God is with you through it all. If joy ensues, remember to thank God.

FAMILY DEVOTIONS

If you have children at home, you will want to have a separate time with them to read Bible stories and other inspiring children’s books. During this time you may ask the children what they think about what has been read and about things that happened during their day. After listening to your children, pray with the children about what interests them and what worries them, Let each child have a turn praying also.

Many couples who are alone find that prayer together and study together strengthens their relationship and deepens their love for one another.

MUSIC

Music has a profound effect on many people. Your choice of music may deepen your emotional, mental and spiritual life or hinder your growth. It can affect heart rate and rhythm, as well as nervous energy and irritability. It can calm and sedate, or stimulate. Ask for wisdom in your choice of music. Your daily devotions will be enriched by using a hymnbook and either sing or read a hymn for the day.

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