September 21, 2018

Devotional time is with God not with a check list

My pre-salvation habit was a good habit and a not so good habit. Because new Christians struggle to form the habit of daily reading the Bible, my habit was helpful because I was already doing it. I copied my mother for many years without understanding anything I read. I kept a journal and marked RMB in the upper corner along with SMP, hating to miss daily reading and prayer that left that corner blank.

However, it was a negative habit in that I can slip too easily into letting these spiritual disciplines a duty, a box to check, a file-card system like Tozer describes rather than a personal experience with God. On those occasions I can feel guilty for breaking my habit when I should feel guilty that I allowed my quiet time to become a ritual.

Imagine the joylessness of taking verses like these . . .
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–22)
And making them look like this . . .
o  I rejoiced all day
o  I prayed nonstop today
o  I gave thanks for everything
o  I’m not quenching the Spirit (even though making a list like this does just that)
o  I loved the preaching I heard today and fully tested it
o  I held on to the good that I heard today
o  I kept myself from all evil

The biggest error is revealed by all those “I’s” — making this a self-righteous spirituality instead of walking in faith, living by grace, filled with and motivated by the Spirit of God. A list of ‘rules’ keeps even the sincerest believer from hearing God’s words, words that are personal and for the needs of the moment.

Tozer warns that “inevitably the calendar crowds out the Spirit and the face of the clock hides the face of God.” He hits the problem dead on. Living a file-card Christianity produces a hit or miss prayer life and a hit or miss ministry. Instead of consistent freedom in following God’s leading, obedience gets mixed up with habits and rules, robbing me of that freedom and spontaneity that Jesus Christ died so I could enjoy.

Lord Jesus, in the past few weeks, my heart condition has robbed me of almost all ambition. Some days, I want to sleep all day. But You are using this situation to show me how much effort I give to ‘be a good Christian’ instead of simply trusting You and resting in Your presence. As Tozer says, it is my privilege to live so fully in You that I never get out of the experience of Your Presence for one moment, that my whole life becomes a prayer, my thoughts become mental prayers, my deeds become prayers in action and even sleep may be unconscious prayer.

NOTE: September 27 is pacemaker day, but it will not be hooked up for a few weeks after that. The offending electrical impulses in my heart are in the two upper chambers meaning that they must be zapped to put them out of commission so the lower chambers and the pacemaker can take over. This zapping (ablation) cannot be done until the pacemaker is in and healed. Both are done without anesthetic, just local freezing. As shared above, God uses all things to teach my ornery heart to pay attention to Him.

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