Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 28, 2016
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15
How can I keep my mind from wandering when I pray? Even when I’m “in the zone” of listening to the Lord, I can easily recall an email that’s a week overdue—guilting me for a response, or my heart reminds me of a person at work who needs me to sit down with them and clarify a misunderstanding.— Without fail some fear seems to always arrest my attention: what about the election, where is our country heading—or, what about my finances, will I be able to take care of myself in the twilight years. I want to spend time with God, but do I really have the time? Does prayer really make a difference? And hasn’t my Scripture reading just become redundant?
Spiritual struggles are a normal part of the growth process with God, surprisingly so—that even the spiritual super hero, the apostle Paul, wrestled with doing what’s right. He honestly states his frustrations of knowing the right thing to do, but still doing the wrong thing—however he didn’t remain disobedient, he moved beyond the inertia of the flesh by the power of the Spirit. The failings of my weak flesh are an opportunity for the strong Spirit to show up and show off!
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26).
Because of my very real struggles to be consistent in my time with Christ, I am learning to approach my quiet time: prayer, Bible reading and worship in a similar mindset as it relates to:
Growing a marriage, caring for my body and cultivating a garden…
Growing A Marriage
Most of us know marriage can be heaven or hell on earth—depending on the commitment of the couple to invest love, time, patience, training, understanding, forgiveness and humility into their relationship. Marriage done right flushes out selfishness and replaces its with selflessness. Just as our human relationships require time and intentionality—how much more is time with our Father in heaven necessary? Time to love and be loved, time to confess and be forgiven, time to submit—not my will, but thy will be done, time to hear well done, time to praise and thank Him. If we don’t feel like loving God, we can will ourselves to love God. Love spends time with its Lover.
Caring For My Body
Our Creator created us and gave us understanding regarding how to care for our physical self. Modern medicine continues to discover better ways to nourish our body. When we eat food friendly to our flesh, our body thanks us by functioning with minimal pain—but if we neglect exercise and sleep or inflict drug or alcohol abuse on ourselves, we contribute to disease or premature death. In the same way, our soul thirsts for God—to feast on His Word in study and meditation—to engage His heart in prayer—and to see His face in worship. Also steady exercise of faith in Jesus builds our heart (life) of trust, like sweating on a spiritual Elliptical machine—it takes effort.
Cultivating A Garden
I have a brown thumb, but my sweetheart Rita has two green thumbs! Sitting here pre-frost in November, she just counted 42 tomato blooms or actual tomatoes—Rita’s nurture and consistent cultivation of her garden grew into an extremely fruitful vine. In the same way, the Bible’s imagery of seeds of faith sown in love will result in a harvest of righteousness. Our confession of sin invites the Lord to pull out the weeds of worry and cultivate our trust in Jesus. Our repentance removes the bad seeds of pride and replants them with humility—the wild kudzu of generosity overtakes greed’s undergrowth and the fruit of peace chokes out angry buds. Our heart is God’s garden for Him to grow a lifetime of luscious foliage and brilliant flowers. Allow Christ to cultivate His righteousness in your life and your attractiveness will glorify Him!
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:1-4).
PrayerHeavenly Father, thank You for walking with me through my struggles to be consistent in my time with You.
ApplicationConsider studying the summary notes of Soul Care by John Ortberg with a small group and reading the article, Will and Emotions by J. Sidlow Baxter.
Related ReadingGenesis 32:28; Psalm 119:27, 97, 99; 1 Corinthians 3:6; John 15:5-17
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