This morning I was peacefully sleeping until my alarm rudely awoke me. I thought ‘Do I have to do my devotions this morning? Surely missing one morning won’t matter.’ I started to fall asleep again.
Can you relate to this kind of morning? Have you ever felt so tired that a previously important commitment loses its appeal? The problem with thinking this way is that one morning off turns into one week off, which then turns into a month off, and so on.
So, I had to get over myself and get up. I forced my eyes back open and sat up. I got out of bed and started reading the Bible. The power in those words began to hit me. The impact grew over time. I became aware of God’s presence.
1 Corinthians 15:58 says ‘So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.‘ God takes notice of what you do. Are you pursuing God? On the harder days, are you remaining consistent?
I was in the middle of a lecture at university when I realised I had an assignment that was due 11:00 am that morning! I knew I missed out on those marks already. “How could this happen?” “How could I miss such easy marks?” “I’m stupid.” Voices in my head started yelling at me telling me I am not good enough. However, in the middle of these voices, I had peace. I knew that no matter what happens, God is with me.
It can be so easy to live a life filled with stress, anxiety, fear or doubt. Voices will try to discourage and bring you down when you make mistakes. The better way to live is with peace; it is very freeing! It’s like a bubble of protection is around your heart keeping you safe.
How can this peace be found? Keep your mind and heart with God (daily devotion and prayer achieves this.) Isaiah 26:3 says ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.‘ You will know when your trust is in God because no matter what life throws at you, peace remains.
I attend church every week, and each week a new message is taught. The problem is, I find I often don’t think about what was spoken until I prepare for the weekly Bible study (my church calls it a community). The question I have to ask myself is this: If I’m not thinking about the message, how can I be actively working on my character in that area?
I find myself going to church each week, coming away challenged, but not investing the time each day to review what was spoken and working throughout the day to achieve that higher standard. Distractions are stopping me from applying the truths I learn!
These distractions remind me of the parable of the sower in Matthew. Matthew 13:20-21 says “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” In this parable, I believe it is easy to be the rocky ground. Although I agree with the message and find it frees me, if I don’t apply it to my life every day, it will have no lasting effect. If there is no lasting effect, am I only attending church for a good feeling? Am I a Christian?
I have started making the community a place to be accountable. I think it is fair to say most people struggle with similar problems. Because of these struggles, we can relate and have grace toward each other. We encourage each other to apply the word and acknowledge when we aren’t living up to what we should be. We create strategies to overcome the hardest obstacles.
Can you relate to this? Do you notice yourself going to Church but not always applying the teaching? The best way to turn from being challenged to changed may be to find a Bible study that keeps you accountable.
Ask Him! Okay, but what happens if God doesn’t answer? How do I know God is speaking?
If you find that God isn’t speaking to you, ask the following questions: Am I praying daily? Am I listening? A conversation is two-way. Ask God your questions each day. Keep in mind that He loves persistence. (Luke 18:1-8) When it comes to listening, I find it natural to use my ears. (Duh!) The thing is, God doesn’t usually speak to us this way. He likes to use dreams, visions and the Bible. Dreams and visions are awesome, but the Bible is possibly the simplest way to hear God speak. It can be very black and white. “Love your neighbour” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are simple, yet profound truths. Too often I have found myself looking past these powerful words for something ‘more spiritual’, forgetting that these words are inspired by God, filled with life and power! When I read the Bible, I stop regularly and pray short prayers, asking God to help me understand it and live it out — praying while reading God’s Word opens up my heart to listen.
Whenever I am unsure if a thought is from God or my own, I judge it against the Bible. If it follows God’s heart, shown in the Bible, I can be reasonably sure it is from Him. However, if the idea is contrary, I will dismiss it.
Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.“
I encourage you to read one chapter or more each day to improve your hearing and discernment.