Juxtaposition of Habits and Great Christianity.
This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.1 Indeed! Tis a decision to be intentional! It was the final day of this session of Women of Passion2 for the season, the wrap of Good to Great in God’s Eyes3, and a Bible study meeting with my corporate brothers.
Just a few short weeks ago, I shared this quote from Dwight Moody, "The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully consecrated to Him." Consecrated? Yes, one that is set apart or devoted to God. So I must tell you, some years ago I made the decision to truly devote myself to God. And in the process, I established a few habits and guiding principles along the way. Last week, I shared the gist of these with a group of young moms.
The most important discipline I established was to give God my first 15 minutes of the day. I found someone who wanted to do the same, and we prayed for each other’s success, checked in with one another, and held each other accountable. We determined together to make it at least 3 weeks without breaking stride. If we failed to meet with God one morning, the three weeks started over. The partnership allowed me to break through in an arena that heretofore I had not seen success.
At the time I had such a conviction, I was a nursing mother, had a preschooler and two middle school students. ‘Set an alarm fifteen minutes earlier? Seriously, it might as well have been three hours! But here is what I will tell you—God more than returned those 15 minutes to me throughout the day. More than any other decision or commitment I have made in my faith journey, this one really changed my life. Here’s what I would say to you:
Get a partner, support each other … in accountability, encouragement, and support
You will find that God will give you back way more than 15 minutes!
In order to increase the probability of success, I learned that setting up a basket or at least taking time to get my things together beforehand, increased my likelihood of success. ‘My things? Bible, notebook, pen, reading glasses, post-it notes, highlighter … whatever I needed to spend quality time in prayer and meditation/study of God’s Word. Set them up, set them aside the night before or you are likely to get distracted, pulled away from your desired goal—time with God to start your day.
As for your prayers, do not stop praying, do not give up. James 5.16 - The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.. Try circling – ‘read The Circlemaker by Mark Batterson? Will encourage, instruct and inform your prayer life, give you new tools to use as you pray. Do not grow weary in your prayers - persistence wins! Luke 18.1-8
Sometimes you are slammed, sometimes you cannot string two cogent thoughts together, so determining to memorize a simple scripture to pray – like Psalm 19.14, Psalm 139.23-24. So good.
No one, no thing can give you joy. You must find your joy in each day; thank God for it. Joy usually requires awareness, and it comes from the heart of God, made manifest in Jesus. You know, holy moments happen every day, but you must be aware, look for them and thank God for them!
If I could regularly give something away, it would be contentment. We must learn and practice Contentment. It is a sought after, learned behavior. Whatever did Paul mean when he said, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances’? (Philippians 4.11-12) Seventeen years ago, at a retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains, those verses really got my attention. Contentment . . . whatever the circumstances? O, how I wanted that!
Contentment - no matter what? Contentment when I am in pain? Contentment when the bottom has fallen out of my finances? Contentment … no matter what? Possible, really?
My mother was the greatest example of contentment ever. She was not married to the nicest of men, to say the very least, but she knew who she was. She did not let the world squeeze her into its mold; rather, she knew who she was, and whose she was. She immortalized what Jesus said were the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Oh now, you must understand that she was simple, uneducated—could never have said these were her two guardrails, but they were. They shored up who she was and what she was about—the principles hemmed her in, and were the source of her contentment—in spite of, and no matter what.
Finally, I have learned that being part of a growing faith community is critical to emotional and spiritual well being. You and I were created for community, of that I am convinced.
‘Just a few thoughts on the juxtaposition of good habits and great Christianity.
1 – Psalm 118.24
2 – Women of Passion is the weekly Bible study I lead – now in its 16th year in South Orange County, California
3 – by Chip Ingram