How to Make Time for God

you_upContinued from here.

Are you ready to commit to spending quality time with God daily? If so, you need to set aside a block of time daily (preferably the same time every day) that is sacred and trumps everything else in your life, no matter what. For me, this is the first hour of my day.

Once you decide the block of time you are setting aside for God, you need to rearrange your schedule with the understanding that NOTHING is important enough to supplant that time with God. That block of time is the one chunk of your day that is 100% immovable, no matter what.

When I was going through this process, I realized that it would require me to awaken an hour earlier. I needed to drive my son to school at 8:00 a.m., which was not changeable, so to carve out an hour for God first thing in the morning, my morning had to start an hour earlier.

Getting 8 hours of sleep is a high priority for me. (I do not function well physically on less sleep.) To make this happen, I needed to go to bed an hour earlier every night. That meant I needed to remove an hour of something from my pre-bedtime routine, which, in my case, was some beloved televisions shows. I won’t lie to you – this was difficult for me to do. I very much looked forward to watching these shows as they aired as part of my process of unwinding before bedtime. While it might not sound like it, this was a sacrifice for me, but I made it because I chose to prioritize God over my “me time.” And you know what? This no longer feels like a sacrifice to me. What I gained through falling in love with God far surpasses what I gave up.

When I made the life decision to spend the first hour of my day with God, I thought I did not have time. After all, I was a full-time mother with a part-time job, driving my special needs child to athletic events, leading a Bible study, and taking care of my husband. Today, I have a full-time job, am in school full-time, lead a Bible study, write this blog, and still take care of my family, and I get it all done without exhausting myself. How? Only God knows because He has equipped me to do so in this very busy season of life. I keep asking Him whether something needs to go, but His answer has been consistently “no.” Instead, He has supernaturally empowered me to do more than I ever dreamed possible in a week because I prioritize my relationship with Him. I give Him the firstfruits of my day, and He empowers productivity that seems impossible with the other 23 hours.

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself! Make a life commitment to prioritize time with God, and watch move mountains in your life in response.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace peeking through the window and asking, “You up?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

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Loving God Equals Time With God

cant_wait_to_see_youContinued from here.

My blog entry yesterday might have offended some people, but I am simply being honest. My honesty comes from a place of having been there myself. I knew a lot about God, and I knew the Bible very well. I went to church on Sundays, led Bible studies, and had the knowledge of the Christian faith to address most questions that people have about God. However, I did not love God.

Now, if someone had confronted me with this truth, I would have been deeply offended. However, truth is truth. Obeying God was hard to do because I did not love Him. Jesus said that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. To quote Henry Blackaby from his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, if you have an obedience problem with God, then you have a love problem. I had a big obedience problem, which was a huge red flag pointing to my love problem.

Now for the good news – Love is a choice, and you can choose to begin loving God right away. That love is spelled T-I-M-E. Do as I did in March 2013 and make a life decision to spend an hour every day with God no matter what. As you do, your love for Him will grow because it is not possible to spend extended time with someone who loves you completely and not respond to that love. Once you do this, you’ll be asking yourself why you waited so long. You will realize that you have been missing out on the best part of your Salvation – the relationship with the Father that Jesus died to give you now … not at some future date when you die and go to heaven but right now in this lifetime.

Just a quick aside – While my personal preference is to begin my day with God, a dear friend who is a “night owl” assures me that a deep love relationship with God can be cultivated in the evenings. She views her time with God as special time before He tucks her into bed at night. So, don’t let time-of-day logistics interfere with your commitment to spend quality time with your Creator on a daily basis. Make the commitment, and you will experience a love relationship with God that you never dreamed possible.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling amid the words, “Can’t wait to see you.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

But I Don’t Have Time…

me_timeContinued from here.

The number one reason I hear (and the excuse I also used) was “I don’t have time” to set aside daily quality time with God. My response is to identify the least important thing you do daily and recognize you are saying doing that takes priority over investing time in walking with your God. You are telling God that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to reconnect you in relationship with God takes second place to doing that daily … to watching your favorite television shows … or tweeting about what you had for dinner … or following your friends’ Facebook or Instagram posts … or playing another game of Candy Crush …

Time with God is not going to magically materialize in your life. Either you will make the decision to set aside time for Him, or you won’t. Think about when you started dating someone special. It’s not like you were sitting around with nothing to do, that person came along, and then you finally had something to fill that empty block of time. No, you made the time for that special someone because you wanted to, and you will do the same thing for God if you truly love Him.

Let me ask you a tough question, and be painfully honest with yourself: Do you love God? Don’t reflexively say yes because you are supposed to as a Christian. The truth is that becoming a Christian does not automatically make us love God. We might appreciate what He has done for us, respect Him, or feel other things about Him as a result of our salvation, but loving God takes time to develop … time that most Christians (sadly) never choose to invest.

I’ll be honest with you – I was a Christian for decades who did not love God. Sure, if you asked me if I did, I would have said yes, but I didn’t. When you love someone, you want to spend time with him or her. You don’t give someone you love the leftover scraps of your time. Instead, you make that person a priority because of your love for him or her. If spending time with God seems like a chore that you don’t have time for, consider the possibility that you do not yet love Him.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace reading a book near a cat over the words, “Me Time.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

How Your Spend Your Time Reflects What You Value

game_timeContinued from here.

Show me how you spend your time, and I’ll tell you what you prioritize. People don’t like to hear this, but it’s true. While I would have told you that God was my number one priority, I would squeeze in my Bible study while waiting in the car line to pick up my child from school or cram it all in the night before the meeting. I did not set aside dedicated time for God. I would say my prayers as I drifted off to sleep. I would go to church on Sundays, but God was not really a part of my day-to-day life or decision-making. And yet, because I knew the Bible better than most and went to church on Sundays, I assumed I was prioritizing God.

However, you know what I did have time for? I watched my favorite television shows religiously. I faithfully set aside time to hang out with my girlfriends. I ensured I made it to the gym to exercise 4 or 5 times a week. I was strict about getting to bed on time to be sure to get the sleep my body needed. None of these priorities are “bad,” and, in fact, taking care of my body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, is a good thing to do. However, even taking care of the temple should not take precedence over spending time with the God that the temple houses.

For God to come first, we need to place Him … well … first … ahead of everything else. Paul told us,

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. ~ Rom. 11:16

We can apply this verse to our time with God. When we give God the firstfruits of our day by setting aside sacred time with Him, then that firstfruits offering starts off our day in a way that directs us toward making the entire day about Him. Because our first hour of the day is holy, that holiness can spread to the other 23 hours as well.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace in a recliner with snacks above the words, “Game Time!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Is God Really Your Top Priority?

no_timeI am stepping up on the soapbox this week, so be forewarned…

Is God really first in your life? If you are a Christian, your immediately response is likely yes, but is this really true? Or are you lying to yourself? Christians can be deceived, so don’t assume that just because you are a Christian, you are prioritizing God.

I was saddened and, frankly, astonished to learn in one of my Divinity School classes what a small percentage of people in ministry actually spend quality time with God on a daily basis. I would have been disturbed by the statistics I heard if it was about laypeople, but people in ministry?? Seriously?? How on earth do you spend your days serving God without first meeting with, fellowshipping with, and enjoying God?

One reason this is a soapbox issue for me is that I deceived myself on this topic for a number of years. Because I knew the Bible well (better than most), I assumed this accumulated knowledge was evidence that I prioritized God. And yet, my life did not reflect this. Despite this wealth of head knowledge about God, I continued to live in emotional bondage, and the joy and peace that the Bible promised eluded me.

Yes, I knew a lot about God, but I did not know Him because I rarely spent any time with Him. I found praying to be boring, and my laundry list of prayers was all about what I wanted God to do for me or for someone I cared about. I never thought to ask God what I could do for Him. I wanted Him to bless my plans, not join Him in His plans. While I was a Christian who was heaven-bound when I died, I was a selfish Christian who wanted to harness God’s powers like a genie to make my life more comfortable.

God wants a relationship with you and sacrificed His Son for you to enable that to happen. God wants to walk with you, not take the slivers of your life that are left over after you do everything else that you deem more important than spending time with your Creator. Have you ever thought about what God might want out of a relationship with you? I didn’t until I started prioritizing God in my life.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of  Grace with her hands on her hips saying, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Courtesy Bitmoji.

Digesting God’s Word: Wrap Up

elbow.pngContinued from here.

I hope you enjoyed working through Galatians 6:9 and did not find the process too tedious. I blogged about this topic because I needed it myself. I am in a season of heavy spiritual attack. In addition to the challenges I have shared and others that I did not, my teenage son broke his elbow in a flag football game and needs surgery to repair it. I cannot seem to catch my breath before the next blow comes, and I so desperately want to see a harvest for all of the good I have done and continue to do.

Giving up is not an option for me. God has been faithful too many times for me to doubt that He will be faithful again. Despite God’s positive track record with me, I still struggle. I know better than to indulge in “Why me?” thoughts, so I keep pressing on, trusting and believing that God will come through.

I have been meditating on Mercy Me’s new song, Even If, which beautifully captures the cry of my soul as I continue to do good, even when little in my life makes sense, and I don’t see the harvest that God has promised. I know it is coming, but I don’t know when. I try to consider it pure joy that I am facing trials of many kinds, but what I feel is tired … and the temptation to give up, but I won’t … because I love God more. As I have told God repeatedly, all of my eggs are in His one basket. Either He will come through, or I will fall. There is no third option.

Let the beauty and truth of these lyrics by Mercy Me wash over you and refresh you as you keep pressing on, never giving up doing good. You WILL reap a harvest IF you do not give up.

But God when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength
To be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You’re able
And I know You can
Save through the fire
With Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

I know the sorrow
I know the hurt
Would all go away
If You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

It is well with my soul”

[Graphic: X-ray of Grace’s son’s broken elbow. Courtesy Urgent Care.]