Top Priority

Last week, in bible study, we were discussing the days leading up to the day of Pentecost, in the first chapter of Acts. We talked about how God took a group of ordinary people and brought them to a new level with Him, based on their obedience, unity, and prayer.

Somewhere during the discussion, we began sharing about how sometimes it’s so difficult to set aside time to build our personal relationship with God. For many of us there were periods in our lives where we had all the time in the world to study the Word, pray, or worship. It may have been a time when we were without a job, or as we sat beside a sick or dying loved one, or when we were simply at the end of our rope and had hit rock bottom, and the only way up was to cling to the hope found in Christ. But then there are periods in our life when we are overwhelmingly busy with family, jobs, community service & outreach opportunities, church–the list seems to never end–and our relationship with the Lord takes the back burner.

However, we must remember that we need God’s presence in every season of our life, not just the most difficult. Ironically enough, just like Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, when we feel at our weakest and turn to Christ for strength, is when we are truly strong, and when we feel strongest and try to make it without Him, we’re actually at our weakest! The Israelites were notorious for forgetting the blessings and promises of God during the good times in their lives and neglecting their worship and obedience to Him; thus causing them to eventually lose those very blessings and promised land.

As is often pointed out during these types of discussions, someone brought up the fact that we can approach God in prayer during any moment of the day. This is aligning with Scripture; I mean, the Bible actually tell us to pray without ceasing, to pray continually in the Spirit, and to pray persistently and on every occasion (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18). But I also like to point out that Jesus Himself, often stole away from the busy-ness of His ministry to spend alone time with His Father (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12).

The truth is, when we desire to strengthen a relationship with someone we spend quality time with them. We participate in activities together, we communicate, we make time for one another; we try to learn as much as we can about one another. Sure, we can do that surrounded by others, but is our undivided attention upon the other individual? Or are we distracted by the television, the other cars on the road, the next activity or responsibility on our to-do list? As a newly married individual, I know that with two jobs, community service & outreach activities, and church, I may see and talk with my husband every day, but I know it’s not the same thing as spending quality time with him. Because I love him and want to continually develop and strengthen our marriage we still schedule “date nights.” We schedule that time because it’s important to us and important to our marriage.

wp-image-862409418jpg.jpgLikewise, when our time and attention are pulled in multiple directions and we’re not spending the quality time we need with our heavenly Father, no matter how many things we try to do or accomplish, we’re never going to get to the place where God can really use us the way He desires to use us. It’s just like we discussed before in Blemished Sacrifices about giving God our best, our first-fruits, instead of offering Him the leftovers. If we can schedule date nights, doctor’s appointments, coffee dates with our friends, mommy-and-me play dates, time to workout in the gym, or any other activity we deem important, then we can most certainly schedule quality personal time in the Word, prayer, and worship. If we call ourselves believers and we profess that Jesus is Lord of our life and that He comes first and foremost in our lives, then this is most certainly something we can, should, and desire to do.

HOW…

Now let’s get practical and discuss how we can do this. Some people are morning people. They have no trouble getting up early in the mornings to set aside time for prayer and the Word. I’m a morning person, but I still have trouble getting up earlier than I need to; in a perfect world I would study the Word between the hours of 9-11. But obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world, and I’m at work during these hours. Since I recently took on a second job, I now keep a written schedule that helps keep me on track and helps me manage my time better so that I can accomplish all my goals, rather than having time manage me.

Let me tell you, this has been one of the best decisions ever! Try it! Spend 30 minutes of your morning planning out your day. How long does it take you to get ready? When do you eat lunch? How long do you spend commuting? When do you eat lunch? Cook dinner? Go grocery shopping? Planning out your day is a lot like creating a financial budget; you only have so many hours in a day and you want to spend each of them wisely. Ever since I’ve started this I feel like I get so much more accomplished. You never realize how much time is wasted surfing the internet, watching TV or YouTube, or playing games until you give an account for each moment of your day.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I don’t have fun or time to relax. Even with a schedule, sometimes I still find a few free moments to scroll through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And there are still days when I keep part of my schedule clear so that I don’t always feel so hurried. Lastly, I think even when we have a schedule, we still have to maintain some level of flexibility. Sometimes something just comes up. Plans have to be rearranged, or changed, altogether; but this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Some days I choose to use my 30 minute lunch break as my time to search the Word, while other days I get to spend 45 minutes of delicious time in His presence. But it’s only because I make it a priority. If we want to spend time in His presence, we must prioritize our time; because if we don’t, all the other activities of the day will consume us, and we will have nothing left to offer Him, but our leftovers.

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Too Much of a Good Thing

Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything new, but don’t think that you haven’t been on my mind, because you most certainly have. I’ve begun writing a few things, but never seem to finish, this is partly because I’m a perfectionist and expect a certain amount of quality from my own writing before sharing with others, but it’s also because I’ve just been so busy! Which is actually what I felt needed to be discussed here.

I finally finished my Master’s Degree in Human Services Counseling (with a focus on Family & Marriage) a few months ago, through Liberty University, and I’ve been taking some time to relax after a grueling few years of school and work. I’ve learned that I tend to be the type of student who takes her work very seriously at the expense of her relationships, so I’ve been working on building new ones and strengthening those already in existence. I’ve also begun to get a little more active in church activities.busy image

I love all of these things. I love spending time with my friends and church family. I love being actively involved in worship, children’s, and young adult ministries. I love Sunday school, Bible studies, and worship. (And I suggest that if you’re not actively involved in a church check out Multiply: Week 4 to understand why you ought to be.) I love going to concerts, amusement parks and restaurants; watching movies; reading books; and chatting with friends into the wee hours of the night.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, however, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! With so much busy-ness in our daily lives, where do find the time to spend quality time with the very One Who gives us life—both physical and spiritual—and who gives us the capability to move and participate in all our activities? Every day we are bombarded with a barrage of phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram pics, Vine & YouTube videos, television, sports, news, jobs, school, and many other activities. When do we make the time to unplug from it all and just sit in God’s presence? When do we get down to the nitty gritty and become vulnerable before God about what’s going on in our lives? When do we study His Word , not to prove any points or prepare for a Bible study, but to just learn about Who He is and to allow Him to change us through the Words (check out Multiply: Week 7 for more on this)? When do we make the time to Worship Him through song? When was the last time we fell to our knees in awe of Who He is?

No matter how much is going on our lives, we must, must, must, carve out time for our Savior, our Friend, Our Father. He ought to be our priority, and everything else, secondary; for it is He Who sustains us and without Him we can do nothing! We should never let our lives become so busy that we aren’t plugging into our source of life; we need our bread and living water on a daily basis!

P.S. Praying and working through a Bible study with others is great, however, sometimes God wants to talk specifically to us and reveal something directly to our hearts that can’t be responded to the same way in a group setting, as it can when we’re at our most vulnerable before a Holy God.