On Patterning Life Around God
If you are like me, you might struggle with finding time to be with God throughout the week. I know I should do devotions, read my Bible, and pray but many times it just doesn’t get done (or isn’t done as well as I’d like). While this is not a new problem for many people, it is growing more acute as our lives fill up with other things, too often God is the first one bumped from our schedule. Perhaps the best way to make God a priority in our lives is to build Him into our schedule.
We are a people who thrive on the predictability of a patterned life. It is well noted that children thrive, feel more secure and confident when there is a daily routine in place where they can anticipate when is coming next. Even God built a pattern into creation, “so God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:3). Some take this patterned life to the extreme (see Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory) while others may not even recognize their need for predictability in life. Live into a patterned life with Jesus at the centre!
It is not my intent to guilt you into doing anything, I simply want us to be honest with each other that setting apart time to rest and enjoy the company of God does not come naturally in our sinful world.
First, establish a precedent of being in church every Sunday. It is great that you watch Christian programing but it doesn’t replace actually being with your fellow believers worshiping God. We need each others support and encouragement. Taking an hour and a half out of your week to worship acts as a foundation for your spiritual habits throughout the week. Our worship services intentionally look similar every week so that the patterns of worship become part of you. The pattern of singing, confession, hearing Scripture, and prayer is demonstrated each week as a model for our worship life the other six days. Our liturgical pattern helps us enter into God’s story while orienting our lives around God. Weekly worship is critical for our spiritual health and vitality.
Second, set apart some time each day to be in God’s Word and prayer. Some find it helpful to do this in the morning while others like to do it at night. Experiment with what time works best for you but be sure to schedule in a time, write it in your day planner or put it in your phone. There are many ways that you can be in Scripture: maybe you start in Genesis and read a few chapters a day, or you start with the Gospel of John and hear the story of Jesus, or perhaps you follow a devotional book that leads you to different Scriptures each day. No matter how you structure your time, allow God to lead you into His Word.
Also during this time be sure to pray. Pray not just for your needs but for the needs of others and for the church. Offer prayers of thanksgiving for God’s provision and action in your life. Confess your failures and receive God’s words of pardon. Simply be quiet as you allow God to speak to you words of encouragement, direction, or correction. Just take time to be with and to hear from God in prayer and His Word. One way we are encouraging our church to be attentive to God through prayer and the Word is with Trinity’s Summer Commitment.
It is not my intent to guilt you into doing anything, I simply want us to be honest with each other that setting apart time to rest and enjoy the company of God does not come naturally in our sinful world. In fact, sin is continually enticing us away from God. As Christians, we always ought to do what we can to encourage one another into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
So in these slower summer months when schedules are easier to manage, let me challenge you to establish a pattern of worship in your life: make it a priority to be in church each week, devote a few minutes each day to time in God’s Word and prayer, take time to simply rest in God’s creation free from distractions and stress, and think about Trinity’s Commitment to God this summer.
Some resources to help build God into your routine:
Family Prayer- These devotions follow the structure of daily prayer and can be used in the family (Anglican Church of North America)
Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (For purchase on Amazon)
Daily Text- A new prayer and Scripture readings every day of the year (Moravian Church)
This past Sunday we talked about the certainty of the return of Jesus and what that means for us now and in the future. In Bible Study, a question was asked about what it means to hasten the coming of the day of the Lord from 1 Peter 3:11-12: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God..”
The reality in which we live as Christians is that the Kingdom of God has already been established on earth but has not yet been established in its fullness. The only way Jesus’ life on earth makes any sense is if He came inaugurate His Kingdom, an entirely new way of doing things which even His disciples didn’t fully grasp. The only way Jesus’ death and resurrection make any sense is if they were the decisive acts in human history in which the kingdom of sin, death, and the devil were once for all defeated and a new kingdom was established. The only way Jesus’ ascension makes any sense is if He is with God the Father reigning over an actual kingdom in which all believers participate. The Kingdom of God is here. The church is its visible presence on earth until that day when Jesus comes again; that day for which we as kingdom people long.
If this is the reality to which we are called into by the Spirit of God, how ought we to live? Should our lives not look radically different as a result of us being partners in Jesus’ kingdom? Peter gives us a hint when he says, “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness…” Holiness and godliness are words thrown around often negatively, in connection with a rigid legalism or as a target of criticism of the hypocritical church that can’t live up to its own standards. While we can’t live a holy and godly life in our own power, it is nonetheless the ideal God has had for His people for thousands of years.
Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is continually being called to be holy; to be the people God formed them to be: a people of covenant and a people set apart as a city on a hill. God called Israel out of all the other nations so that they might be different, that people would look at how different their lives are because of God and desire that for themselves. The same call to holiness is extended to God’s people throughout the New Testament as well. Peter, in his first book, instructs his readers using the command from Leviticus 11:44, “Be holy as I am holy.” Later, he says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In being a people living holy and godly lives, set apart for the glory of God, we look different, we act different, and we proclaim the Gospel with our lives. The proclamation of the Gospel through our actions and words is central to hastening of the coming of the day of the Lord. Jesus declares in Matthew, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (24:14). And Peter expands this by saying, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s desire is that all people would have the opportunity to hear the Gospel, to have their hearts pierced by it bearing repentance and life in Jesus. Until the Gospel has been proclaimed to all, giving all an opportunity to have their hearts transformed by it, Jesus will not come.
So, how do we hasten the day of the coming of the Lord? By being a Gospel people, living and proclaiming that the Kingdom has come in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and by pointing to the hope that is ours when Jesus comes again ushering in the fulfillment of His Kingdom in the new heavens and new earth.
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.