So, how are you doing? Your Bible reading? Prayer life? Financial discipline? Eating habits? I’m talking about those resolutions you made just a little over 5 weeks ago as the calendar turned to 2018.
Now, there are some changes I don’t want to make. I don’t want to be hipster or lumber sexual or - I believe the word when I was in college was - “preppy.” I never make resolutions about how I dress. Maybe you do. Good for you. Whoopdeedoo. To each his own.
What I’m talking about are those more substantial goals you set for yourself on January 1. Hopefully, one of your New Year’s Resolutions was something along these lines: I want to get to know God better.
There are some things I don’t care about changing, and there are some things I desperately need to change. If I want to change in areas where I need to change, there are some habits that must change. If you are going to change spiritually and get to know God better, it will come as you slowly but surely, daily, consistently consecrate yourself to him.
For those who are enjoying the ReBiChron Initiative, we’ve been reading through Exodus this past week. Exodus 29 really stood out to me. From it I was reminded that if I hope to change, it is extremely helpful to begin and end my day with consecration.
Exodus 29:38–39 (ESV) - Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.
What I’m saying is not new. This has been the habit of many of God’s people since Exodus 29. Listen to this “EXHORTATION TO PRAYER” from a booklet originally in German called Morning and Evening Prayers from the 16th century:
Arise, dear soul, and carefully reflect who He is with whom thou speakest and before whom thou standest when thou prayest. Behold, thou speakest with God, thy Maker, and standest in the presence of Him, the eternal Majesty, whom thousand times thousand holy angels and arch-angels attend. Therefore, O Christian, enter thou into the closet of thy soul, and beware, lest thou failest to put from thee all sluggishness of heart, and liftest up to thy God a countenance free from blame. Then wilt thou delight in the Lord and have power with Him, and prevail. Yea, thou wilt conquer the unconquerable God and bear away the blessing through Jesus Christ. Amen.
This would be an excellent way to use the psalm of the week, for example. These inspired poems of heart-felt praise and wonder have so much to teach us about prayer. Just a few minutes each morning and evening to pray through the psalm can be life-changing in your pursuit of a more dedicated walk with the Lord. I think it is helpful to do this formally.
Exodus 29:40–41 (ESV) - And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord.
“Twilight” according to the Talmud explains as the time between the sunset and the time the stars become visible. The exact ingredients for each offering were spelled out as well as the time. And they did this same thing over and over and over again, every day, for hundreds of years. It would have been considered apostasy to forsake this routine.
I understand all the dangers of routine. It can become rut, ritualistic, and rote. You will have to work to keep it from becoming dull and routine. But it is extremely helpful if you can develop a habit as well. How one can do this without actually doing it in a formal fashion is beyond me. I know it’s not beyond some. But you have to actually sit down and read your Bible if you are actually going to read it. It has to happened at some point in time, at some place in time. You may enjoy “just doing it whenever you can.” Maybe your life isn’t as fixed as many others. That’s totally fine, and there’s nothing more spiritual about being more structured in doing it – as long as you actually do it.
Here are some questions I’d like to ask you now that we are several weeks into the New Year.
· Where do you engage in daily consecration to the Lord?
· When do you engage in daily consecration to the Lord?
· How do you engage in daily consecration to the Lord?
· What is your plan for reading, memory and meditation?
· How are you structuring your prayer life so that you pray for those people and things for which you are responsible?
Just trying to provide some fodder for your thought life here. My encouragement to you is to somehow…
· Be proactive
· Be reasonable
· Be organized
· Be accountable
…in your efforts to grow spiritually. Learning how to rest in the sufficiency of Christ to do an amazing work in you comes first and foremost. Faith first. But it’s a faith that works. Our efforts are miserable Saviors but necessary servants. A faith that doesn’t work is a faith that only whines and wishes. Keep your eyes on Jesus WHILE you do what you need to do. He changes us BECAUSE he is gracious and faithful. He changes us THROUGH a simple child-like faith. And he changes us WHILE we are obedient.