Archive for March 28th, 2016

(No new sermon this week.)

God should be the center of your life, but most people who make this claim about their own lives spend many hours doing various non-work activities, and then claim that they don’t have time to…  whatever part of worshipping God you’re talking to them about.  God is not fooled by these sorts of rationalizations, so if you’re making them yourself, you need to STOP. Many of the things you can do as part of worshiping God and learning the Word can be done along with other activities; the rest, you need to figure out a way to make time for, because you will benefit more from these things than from anything else you’re doing.

You can, and should, be praying, in other words talking, to God all day, every day:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It doesn’t matter what activity you’re doing, you can always pray. If there’re people around you, you can pray silently inside your head; remember, God can read your mind. Thank God for every good thing that you receive. Praise Him for all the wonderful things He is and does. Ask Him for all the things you want, including all the changes you would like to make in yourself and your relationships. And pray for everyone you know, for all the things they need or want.  If that’s not enough to keep you busy, take a look at the news; you’ll find plenty of suffering people to pray for.

You should be attending a Bible-based church if at all possible. If you’re not eager and happy to go, you’re not in the right one. I’m biased, of course, but I would recommend a small church where there are lots of ways that you can participate in a close, committed community. And you absolutely SHOULD participate in every available activity; if your church doesn’t have prayer meetings, life groups, etc, then, unless you absolutely love it, you should be looking around for a different one.  

And, you need to be spending time every day with the Word. I’m on track to go through the Bible 3 times this year; you don’t have to go that far, but you should at least try for once.  I know, I know, some of those books are very dry and hard to get through; if necessary, skip over those books if it means that you’ll read the rest of it.  There are many Bible-reading plans that you can sign up for that have already broken the Bible into 365 pieces, and they will email you your daily reading, so you don’t have to figure out by yourself how much to read each day.  If you absolutely, positively cannot handle reading and studying, sign up for the Daily Audio Bible, and you can LISTEN to the entire Bible being read over the course of a year; you can listen while you’re doing other activities, so there’s no excuse of not having enough time.

I highly recommend setting up a prayer closet, even if all that means is dragging a chair over to an empty corner and having a notepad and pen to take notes. You don’t have to spend hours there, but you can absolutely find 5 minutes everyday to go to your closet and focus on prayer. Spend more time when you can, but at least set aside those few minutes every day to show God that He is your highest priority.

There are many wonderful sermons available on TV, YouTube, and in podcast form.  If you already have some favorite pastors, listen to their material; if not, check out some of the popular ones and find some that you enjoy. Even if you’re doing in-depth study of the Bible like I am, you will absolutely benefit from listening to the insights from what we might call “advanced Christians.” 

Keeping your mind and emotions focused on God during a busy and stressful day can be greatly enhanced by listening to praise and worship music. If you don’t know where to start to find music that will lift you up and help you feel closer to God, do a search for Christian radio stations; most of them have a way to listen for free on their websites, and then you can hear lots of currently popular songs. Once you find stuff that you like, you can get the MP3s, find the videos on YouTube, or just keep listening to the radio stations.

And finally, if you’re a reader with more time to read, there are many excellent books written about God, the Bible, living your best Christian life, etc. I wish I had time for this, but the only book I have time to read these days is the Bible. All of the major pastors have books, and beyond that, I’m guessing that the ratings on Amazon can give you a useful idea of what else is good to try out.

How much time does all this add up to?  I’m sure it seems like a lot if you haven’t been doing any of these things. *I* manage to do them all except read the non-Bible books, AND I spend a bunch of hours transcribing a sermon most weeks…  and mind you, I also average a dozen hours a week with church stuff, because I’m a hard-core participator and volunteer.  YOU can do it too. Start small, and work your way up to doing all of it; the benefits of dedication to God are the best possible use of your time.

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