The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Gift Every Morning

There are few things that I enjoy more each day than my morning readings.  There are no things more beneficial.  It is likely that there are few things more beneficial to my wife and children than when I rise up, perk coffee and take up my bible and books and read.

I must confess, however, that there have been more than a few occasions when I have read and almost immediately displayed impatience with my dear wife and our children over some small distraction or fault.  I have often failed, as George Mueller instructed, to have my soul happy in the Lord.  He saw this as his first great and primary business of each morning.  Before he sought to serve the Lord with his hands or testify of God with his lips, he was first concerned with the nourishment of his "inner man."

How often we launch into our day with no (or little time) spent sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his voice by reading his word.  We go forth to interact with folks, to write letters, send emails, make phone calls, build bridges, program computers, raise children, repair automobiles and even preach sermons without first concerning ourselves with cultivating the heart.

The ongoing struggle that we face with the "world, the flesh and the devil" is difficult when we have immersed ourselves in the Bible.  However, we set ourselves up for multiple failures when we go forward into our days without drinking the pure milk of the word (I Peter 2:2-3).  To not build upon the solid foundation of Scripture is to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).  To lean on such a faulty wall is to invite a fall.

We justify our lack of bible reading and prayer by the duties that our schedule demands.  We have jobs to do that are unrelenting in their requirements.  We have babies whose cries command our immediate attention.  The call to morning meditation is not a call to neglect the duties of job or parenting.  But it is a reminder that we do not live by bread alone. It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Yet our schedules reflect that we think we live by our employment alone or by any other important pursuit. And so we run into our days having neglected that which gives us life and through us brings life to others.

I write this not to place before you a rigid schedule of daily duties that must be employed at certain times and in certain ways in order to be faithful to God.  It is to call you (and me) to the regular joyful discipline of reading, prayer and meditation on the Scripture.  To ponder more the things of God.

What must you do?

See the Importance of Bible Reading and Prayer.  Jesus said that we live by the word of God (Matthew 4:4). newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious (I Peter 2:2-3).
Set a Schedule of Bible Reading. A schedule is a guide and not a master.  However, without guidance we will float and be carried by various winds.  In order to capture the best times for reading we may be required to rise very early.  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed (Mark 1:35). Find a quiet time and a quiet place.
Saturate Your Heart with Scripture.  Work to get your heart "happy" through meditation on the great things of God.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

Every day in Bible reading and prayer will not be sweeter than the day before.  There will be times that the struggle will be great and the focus will be dull.  On those days--keep plowing.  The farmer must plow the hard ground during many inopportune times.  Plow the heart, do the best that you can when the time is hard, repent of your cold heart and take a bath in God's amazing grace.  And when the times are sweet--savour them to the benefit of your soul, your spouse, your children, your job, all of your relations--and to the glory of God.

What am I reading right now?

I am slowly reading through the Psalms.  This morning I read Psalm 106.  As I read I seek to focus on God's character and I pray as I read.  The Scripture provides both the content and the fuel for my prayers.  I am also reading a couple of books during my morning devotions.  Presently I am working through Songs of the Nativity by John Calvin and Holiness by J.C. Ryle.  When I read I keep pen and paper near at hand and make a few brief notes.