The time we choose to invest in accessing the grace of God via the principal avenues available to us will reveal how much we value this grace we now stand in. Note that it is first and foremost a choice, a matter of our own will and nothing else.
The Lord is calling us to draw ever closer to Him and to an ever tighter knit fellowship with one another in order to successfully overcome the challenges ahead.
In the preceding blog we shared the first two essential items required to get a daily life of devotion and connecting with God direct, kick-started. The first is to set a regular time for it and the second is to develop and put systems in place to ensure its effectiveness, i.e. ring fence and create a perimeter wall around it so that it is not encroached upon and infiltrated easily and regularly. In military terms, it is to go on the offensive in order to take ground and make sure you keep it and not keep handing it back to the enemy who will only use it against you.
And it is indeed a battle we are engaged in friends, make no mistake that we are in the middle of a cosmic battle between good and evil where the spoils of war are the souls and destinies of people. We must stop prevaricating and in its stead adopt an aggressive stand and attitude toward the battle and the enemy we have engaged.
We have to start taking the battle to the enemy and stop playing defensive all the time. To be warriors for the kingdom is our calling and the nature of our Lord and Saviour. It is about anticipating and eliminating distractions and disruptions to your dedicated devotion time, not allowing your feelings to get the better of you but the other way round – you getting the better of your feelings.
Moving on and as we take the battle to the enemy, here are the next two practical tips if we are to remain equipped with the bare essentials and ready to face the battle ahead. Once you have set a time and resolutely opted to defend it against all intrusions and infiltrations, the next thing you will have to do in order to maintain this is to…
- Start small.
One of the most frequent mistakes sincere folk who genuinely want to make a difference in their devotion lives make is go in with a bang, start big, only to fizzle out soon after. The proven and time honoured recipe is to start small.
Start with an amount of time that is both practical and manageable with the rest of your daily routine and responsibilities. Do not overwhelm yourself and your day with a burden that you definitely know you cannot carry. It is no good setting aside an hour of devotion time when you know that neither your normal daily routine nor you yourself can sustain it! Practicality and consistency are the key qualities to watch out for here and not necessarily longevity. It is better to start off with a daily but consistent routine of 15 minutes than to overwhelm oneself with even half an hour that one cannot sustain for more than a few days. It is not how long or short this time is, it’s how consistent you are going to be in maintaining it demonstrating how much you value your relationship with God. The practical and realistic thing to do is to start small, say 10 or 15 minutes but make sure you honour that time regularly. The mustard seed parable in Matthew 13:31 – 33 clearly illustrates that in God’s kingdom, big things have small beginnings.
- Have a structure.
Having and maintaining a pre-planned schedule or plan of activities for the time that you’ve set aside, no matter how long or short that time may be, is absolutely vital. You do not want to set aside a time only to arrive there and not know what to do or how to go about it!
You must plan beforehand and have a structure or framework for the activities during your quiet time, otherwise you will repeatedly draw a blank causing you to be frustrated and discouraged. It is within the framework and context of a schedule of activities that you’ll find God both speaking to you and channelling His grace into your life. Of course you will need to allow a degree of flexibility as to the time divisions between the different components of your schedule, but broadly speaking there are four key elements that must be represented in your daily devotion.
In the next blog we will look at these key elements or disciplines that need to be incorporated into the framework of a quiet time of devotion.
In the meantime, know for sure that when applied diligently and consistently, these practical tips create a discipline allowing for the grace of God to be abundantly present in our lives. They are meant to assist us individually in establishing a lifestyle of regularly and routinely accessing grace for ourselves.