This article by Pastor Ritch offers encouragement and help to our listeners, so that they can glorify God and know Christ more and more.
This week a friend shared with me how his walk with God has slowly drifted from being fervent to being feeble. He longed for the time when he prayed fervently, he praised constantly, and he pursued God with joyful passion. With this spiritual longing in his voice, he spoke of his desire to return to former days of lively fellowship with God.
The struggle my friend described is one with which I am also acquainted. Our pursuit of God will never be an easy stroll, but rather an earnest struggle. Our flesh is weak. Satan is strong. Our world is not a friend to God. So we must fight to pursue the joy of fellowship with our great God. Yet we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord! We look past our own failings to Jesus’ power and victory!
When we drift spiritually, do not be discouraged. Remember that the Christian life is a series of new beginnings. We do not stop fighting for fellowship with God simply because we have fallen down . . . even when we fall for the thousandth time. Perseverance is central to our progress. God says, “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again . . .” (Proverbs 24:16 ESV).
So we ask, “How might I rise up and walk with God again?” Several years ago, I read some counsel that encouraged me in how I might order my day to keep God in focus. The text was from Richard Baxter, a 17th century Puritan pastor who wrote on the subject, “How to Spend a Day with God.” Baxter was writing to encourage Christians to make each day a God-exalting one. He calls us to some daily habits that keep us connected to God’s grace for our growth. I have paraphrased Baxter and put a more modern form to his words with the hope that you will benefit as much as I did from Baxter’s thoughts.
A holy life is made more possible by the planning and structure of our daily habits. Therefore, I give some brief encouragements to help you pursue a godly life every day.
- Sleep: Sleep the appropriate amount of time each evening. If you sleep too long, you will waste precious morning opportunities to talk with God and listen to Him through His Word. If you sleep too little, your body will suffer from illness and lack of energy.
- First Thoughts: Give God your first thoughts in the morning. Let your heart give immediate thanks for the rest you enjoyed and call upon Him to help you in the challenges you will face this new day. Think how you might have spent that night in misery or pain and thank Him for your comforts. Think also of how quickly your days and nights are passing and how soon your last night on earth will come! Prepare your soul for such a time and focus on your Savior.
- Prayer: Let your first action of the day be to talk with God. Before you speak to other people, speak to your Lord.
- Family Worship: Gather your family together early before school and work. This is the time of day that will be most likely free of interruptions and scheduling conflicts.
- Purpose: Remember why God created you and gave you life! Let your one passion be to glorify God and enjoy Him in this new day. Do nothing that will divide your heart and rob you of the pleasure of walking with God.
- Diligence: Make the most of your opportunities to work as God intends. Refuse the temptation toward idleness and ease. Do not waste the time God gives you, but be diligent.
- Temptation: Recognize and acknowledge the temptations that war against your own soul. Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, pride, self-will, and the love of earthly things. Take care that greed does not gain strength in your heart. Watch over your tongue that your words will be pure, true and gracious. Strengthen yourself against bitterness and anger that will keep you from loving others.
- Meditation: Invest some time in this day to think about the infinite goodness and sovereignty of God. Think deeply about Jesus and His work on the cross. Consider heaven and how unworthy you are of going there. Thank God for His grace.
- Time: Place a high value on your time and guard it jealousy. The time God gives you is very finite and more valuable than money. Do not let worthless recreations, idle conversation, unprofitable social events, or sleep rob your time.
- Eating and Drinking: Eat and drink sensibly and with thankfulness for your health. Never satisfy your appetite in food or drink when it will be detrimental to your health. Avoid being like the people Paul described as ones “whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly.” (Phil. 3:18-19)
- Sin: If you do sin in this day, repent quickly, whatever the cost. It will cost you much more to continue in your sin than to repent of it. Do not make light of habitual sins as though they are not deadly, but confess them and put them to death by striving against them in God’s strength.
- Relationships: Honor God through the special duties in the relationships that God has given you whether spouse, children, employer, employee, parents, pastors, friends, or enemies.
- Bedtime: Before going to sleep , review your actions and the mercies of God in this day just ending. Renew your repentance and resolve to obedience. Examine yourself to see whether your soul grew stronger or weaker and whether you are prepared for eternity. Thank God for all His blessings.
May these encouragements be engraved on your mind and practiced each day for the greater holiness and fruitfulness of your life, and for the readiness of your death. In this way you will enjoy God and rejoice in the life that He has given you.
This article was originally published in the August/September 2018 edition of the Bethany Baptist Church newsletter, The Broadcaster.