In the previous blog we raised our glasses (hopefully you too!) to God’s amazing grace as we commenced this New Year.
We continue to check our lifestyles for consistency with the lifestyle decision we made to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. It is simply not possible to live up to the demands and standard set by Christ without the grace He supplies. However, we are the ones responsible for placing ourselves in the way of grace, making sure that we are positioned and live our lives on these highways and avenues where grace is found and accessed. There are principally four – our maintained individual access and connection with God, the reading, meditation and study of the word of God, the regular fellowship and gathering of Christian brothers and sisters and finally, obedience to the sacraments of the Church instituted by Christ, namely water baptism and the Lord’s supper.
The grace imparted to us in each of the principal avenues has a different aspect and flavour to it hence the need to continuously embrace and accommodate all four in our lives. If we are to experience the grace of God in all its fullness, in its totality, complete grace that helps us live balanced and correctly calibrated lives preventing us from being weird or puffed up, we need to accommodate all four avenues equally in our lives and not just lean towards and prefer one at the expense of the others. If we are to get the full benefits of God’s grace in our lives and demonstrate balanced and attractive lives worth emulating, we have to continually accommodate all four principal avenues.
God does not want us to outsource or externally delegate the terms of our walk with Him to others. Philippians 2:12-13 states, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… We are to take personal responsibility for our own salvation and walk with Him demonstrating utmost care and respect, with discipline and all due diligence, not negligently or casually. It is this kind of rigorous and disciplined attitude we need to adopt as we approach the race we are called to run with perseverance. 1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
We’ve got to take personal responsibility for our own walks with the Lord and the matter of running our race into our hands lest we fall short of God’s grace and fail to run the course mapped out for us as intended by Him. We are the ones exhorted to make sure that none of us falls short of the grace of God in our lives. Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God…
With this in mind, here are some practical tools and tips to aid us in making a daily and personal time of connecting with God a reality in our lives, as the primary avenue of regularly accessing the grace of God for ourselves.
- Set time.
Set aside and dedicate a specific time of the day you will dedicate for none other than purpose of devotion or connecting with God one-on-one.
Be intentional and practical in your pursuit of God and His grace in your life and do not leave it to chance by setting aside a time you will not be interrupted and you know will work for you. For instance, it is no good setting aside early morning for this purpose when you are not an early riser or during a time of the day in which distractions abound. The purpose is to have a quiet time of connection with God with minimum disruption and distraction. Common sense should therefore plainly dictate which time works best for us which will vary from individual to individual. For many (as with Christ) the early morning is best suited for a quiet moment of devotion before the rest of the world awakens while for others the evening time either just before bed or at the end of their working day works better for them. You may need to experiment with different times of the day in order to discover which works for you and also change these times depending on your changing circumstances like work/academic schedule.
The main thing is to be proactive and intentional through advance planning and setting aside a specific, distraction and disruption-free time of the day that is realistically and practically workable, giving you space to commune with your loving Father and ensure a constant supply of His grace in your life.
- Defend it.
Once a convenient and workable time has been set aside, resolutely defend it in the face of any and all attacks and intrusions. Your determination and resolve are the only things that will carry and grow your devotion time with God. Determine not to allow anything or anyone to infringe upon this time no matter who they are. Ring-fence this time making it untouchable, unapproachable, inaccessible and impenetrable to everything but the purpose you’ve set it for, the objective of engaging with God directly, of servicing the personal connection you have with Him through Christ. This will include your own feelings, close friends and family – no matter who – education and technology too. Do not allow your feelings to overcome and overpower you but learn to overcome them. Develop a discipline and habit of not allowing your feelings to dictate your life but the other way round.
The most common “offenders” then, that we need to actively guard against are, our own feelings, social (friends, family) and other media and, for those in full time education, academic pressure. We need to take pre-emptive action and stand guard against these known (and unknown elements) that would jeopardise our quiet times of devotion and threaten to undermine the grace of God in our lives. By regularly and resolutely distancing yourself from all your social media feeds during your devotion time, you ensure its long term survival and success in your life reaping its bountiful rewards over time. By exercising discipline and regularly being on top of your game not allowing academic pressure to pile up and consume your entire life nearer to exam times, you guard your devotion time from being overrun.
Quite literally, protect and ring-fence your times with God and don’t allow them to be easily overridden. Don’t take these times lightly and give in to negative feelings or the temptation to make them the first thing to give way when you are under pressure for time. Order your priorities. Demonstrate to God, the enemy and your social environment your determination and that you mean serious businesses with Him.
Sacrifice will definitely be called upon and required – prepare yourself for it if you are to walk in the abundance of grace God destined you for. Tips #3 and 4 will follow in the next blog.