Spiritually Mature People Focus on God rather than Themselves

me_timeContinued from here.

Another aspect of making God your #1 priority is focusing on Him rather than yourself, which is another sign of someone who is spiritually mature.

What is your least favorite type of music? Let’s say your pastor announces that next Sunday’s service will feature a musical guest performing that type of music. A spiritually mature person would joyfully attend the service, grateful for all the wonderful ways that God has blessed him or her. Spiritual children would sleep in that Sunday because they don’t want to hear that type of music, even when it is offered to glorify God. Where do you fall on the continuum?

Spiritual children complain about the aspects of a church service they don’t like: the sermon was too long, they didn’t like the song selection, the church has communion too often (or not often enough), etc. They behave like consumers, expecting the service to cater to their desires and preferences. In contrast, spiritually mature people don’t look for the church service to adapt to their own preferences but, instead, ask what they can bring for God. They look for ways to honor God and express gratitude for being able to spend quality time with God and their church family, even when the music, preaching, etc. may not be their personal preference. The underlying difference is that spiritually mature people view the church service as an offering to God, not to themselves.

I had the joy of attending Easter mass outside of Venice, Italy in 2016. I don’t speak Italian, so I did not understand one word that was said. I am not Catholic, so I was excluded from taking communion. And because I am not Catholic and don’t speak Italian, I had a hard time tracking what was going on when throughout the service. Nevertheless, attending Easter mass in Italy was well worth my time, not because I got much out of it but because I had the experience of prioritizing and worshiping God, which was the value of the experience. In fact, everyone who attended with me seemed to get something out of the experience and was grateful we went. Nothing in that experience was about myself – it was all about God.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace reading a book under the words, “Me time.” Courtesy Bitmoji]



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.]

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.]

Seven Fundamental Practices: Daily Quiet Time with God

no_1Continued from here.

As I shared here, other than receiving Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, the most important decision I ever made was to spend daily quiet time with God. The Bible promises that we will find God if we will seek Him with all our hearts.

Note that seeking requires effort. When you play Hide & Seek, the seeker must make an effort to find the hider. Otherwise, the game is a waste of time. The seeker does not just go about his day and occasionally glance around. Seeking is an activity that takes effort, focus, and time.

If you are a Christian, when someone asks you what your #1 priority is, you will likely say God. However, if someone were to watch everything you do for a week, would that priority be evident in your actions? Do you set aside any time during your day for one-on-one time with God?

I didn’t! I was leading Bible studies but did not prioritize God. If you has asked me if God was the most important part of my life, I would have said yes, but my actions said otherwise. I would squeeze in doing my Bible study “homework” while waiting in the carline or cram it all in the night before we met. I would say prayers to God on the fly, mostly when I needed something. (Not to say there isn’t a place for that – I’ll get to that when I discuss prayer.)

However, I certainly set aside time to watch my favorite TV shows, to hang out with friends each week, and do other activities that I valued. Sadly, I valued them more than I valued God, and this was evidenced by the fact that I set aside regular time for those activities while squeezing in time for God.

All of this changed when I made the life decision in March 2013 to tithe the first hour of my day to God. Instead of giving God the scraps of my time, I made Him my first priority, and that was when I found Him. Of course, God was always with me, but when I started setting aside quality time with God, I started being with God.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace smiling while holding a red ribbon that says “#1.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]