It's been a little over a month since my last blog post. And it's been (as always) a learning time. Until we meet Jesus face to face, i don't think we'll ever stop learning.
First of all. Apologies are in order. I have realized that last time me sharing how you "should" start your day right, might work for some people, but not so well for others. In the last month i have met many wonderful people and thinking of them, made me think, rethink, and apologize. Me, currently unemployed and having loads of free time, have all the time in the world in the morning to hang out with God. You on the other hand, well your life might be different. Maybe you haven't slept for weeks, months, years, because of a child. Or maybe you had night shift. Or whatever your case may be, i apologize. We are all different. This is what works for me now, i have no idea what will work for me in the future. But whatever time works for you, take that and make it a priority to dedicate that time to God. Maybe it's an early morning before kids get up. Yes it might mean a sacrifice from sleep, but it is worth it. Maybe it's a lunch hour (or half an hour, or 15minutes) that you take and spend with Jesus. Maybe it's your coffee break. Whatever time you can find, whenever you have that time, make it a regular habit to meet there and then with God.
So there, forgive me? Yes? Great! Let's move on to what God spoke to me now.
Today i want to tell you about habit forming. And more specifically how I do my time with God. There are so many ways of having time with God as there are different people on this planet. So this is what i do, and what works (for now) in my life.
I wake up, whenever my body decides that it has had enough sleep (sometimes 4am, sometimes 8am), get myself a cup of coffee. And then resist the temptation to turn on laptop and watch Netflix. And instead, head to my table where i put down coffee mug and firstly open my journal.
First victory of the day done! You got there! You CHOSE to do this! You are there and you should celebrate!
So i open my journal, write today's date (15-06-2017), sometimes i make it colorful, or add doodles, but whatever works for that day. And i start with writing my prayer. Writing, because often i wake up before my lovely husband and so i try to be quiet. (little side story - we live with his parents atm to save money, pay off debt etc. And we have as our space a granny flat thingie, so just bed, couch, table and all that in one room. So i am more hush-hush when darling is sleeping. Also he looks adorable when he sleeps, but now let's get back to that journal. <3 )
So writing my prayers. What to i write? Well often it's very repetitive, as i am still waking up.
Example: " Lord, thank you for another day! Thank you for a good night's sleep. I ask forgiveness for yesterday's .... (wherever i failed), and commit this time to you. Help me to understand what i read and apply it to my life. I want to praise you today --- (and list as many things that come to your mind - yummy fresh coffee, warm bed, husband, family, breakfast, toothbrush --whatever)." And just write whatever is on your heart. Often it's short, other days it might be three pages. However much you have to say. Maybe there are days where you had a rough night, then thank God for a new morning. Maybe the milk had gone bad for coffee, can you still find good things? It is so sooooo important to find the golden nuggets. The gems, the good stuff in your life. You stubbed your toe on your way to the kitchen - thank God you have all your toes! You spilled coffee on your way ? Thank God that you actually HAVE coffee! Find the good, it will balance out the bad. And overcome it!
So after that, i often ask God what He'd like me to read. I know, it's not very structured, organized or consistent, but that's what i currently do. I have a stack of things on my desk to help me with that. I have a couple of devotional books, one year bible, and couple of Bibles.
So lately God put on my heart Psalm 67. So then i go and first open it and read it. And hope that something sticks out for me.
Read it. And nothing. Well alright. Let's write down cross-reference numbers and follow them. I did that few days ago, when God first put this psalm on my heart. And still nothing. I thought, well alright. I've done my part, i'll leave it at that and see what next day brings.
Next day i just read it again and listened to a song that was about that.
So sometimes songs, music helps me. Well that didn't help either, not much. It was nice, but still no revelationy kind of stuff that i was expecting when God puts a certain psalm on my heart for several days in a row.
So come like fourth day in a row this morning, when me journaling and asking, so what should i read. I started with devotional book, which i'll add here too, as you can never have too much good stuff right? :)
Reading from Romans 9:1 I am speaking truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience (enlightened and prompted) by the Holy Spirit bearing witness in me.
And i won't write the whole devotion here, but the summary that i wrote down along with the Bible verse is this: You need to trust that the REAL you, even on your worst day, is BETTER than being fake or phony. Make the CHOICE to be honest, genuine, and authentic with God and with ALL the people in your life.
So then i went back to the good old psalm 67. If you haven't read it by now, please do so. I have already written it in my journal quite a few times. :)
Then i thought, oh i haven't checked other Bibles on my desk. Grabbed another one and next to psalm 67, was the question "how can i be involved in God's work?" Because basically that psalm is about spreading the gospel and sharing what He has done. So how can we help God?
And one commentary says about verse 2 in that psalm - May God's favor be SO OBVIOUS to his people that ALL the WORLD takes notice.
Meaning, are you telling others how God is being good to you? Praise Him for all He does, until everyone knows how God favors us and everyone in the WHOLE WORLD will know God's goodness! Isn't that a mighty challenge? I dare you to praise Him, speak of His good deeds to you and see how people notice that we are in God's favor!
So then in my journal i have this list. It looks like something like this:
CR (for cross reference)1. Numb 6:24-26. 2. Isa 40:5; 52:10; 62:1; Ps98:2; Isa 62:2; Acts 10:35; Titus 2:11; 3. see verse 5; 4. Ps 100:1-2; Ps 9:4; 96:10-13; ps 68;32; 6. Ge 8:22; Lev 26:4; ps 85:12; Isa 55:10; Eze 34:27; Zec 8:12; Gen 12:2; 7. Ps 2:8; 33:8.
So this might not make at all sense to you. So let me elaborate. In my Bible i have those little numbers (sometimes in the middle of the Bible, or on the bottom of the page). And for example verse 1. cross reference is Numbers 6:24-26. Then comes verse 2 and all cross references for that and so on. I made verse reference bold here. In my journal life is way more colorful. So right now you may think that this is overwhelming. Well maybe so, but remember, i am unemployed and i have loads of time. Plus i am slightly (or maybe a bit more than slightly) stubborn and want answers. So it was bugging me that i hadn't "figured it out" regarding that psalm 67. So i was gonna do all that i could do from my part to "figure it out". See my personality, the way that God made me, is that i am naturally curious. I have always the tendency to ask "why?" and want to know reasons and this psalm is one of them. I wanted to figure out why was this on my heart. So i digged deeper.
So i decided to write, yes write, ALL these cross reference Bible verse out. By hand. And pen. Yes i am old-school woman here. And loving it! Also, i'm a left-handed, so my pinkie is rather blue today :D
Let's go then. Ready? This is gonna be long. I promise you. But it is all good stuff, all God's word and little extra thoughts on my side and why God put this psalm on my heart.
You are also welcome to pause reading this any time and come back later, if this is way too much for you. (if i remember, i might make a conclusion on the bottom of this post).
As i wrote these cross references out, i kept underlining the ones i had already written, as to keep track of where i was. And a side note. Within all this time, i had my second cup of coffee, my breakfast (thanks to a wonderful serving husband who does stuff for me), went to the toilet, prayed with hubby and so on. It's alright to do other things, it's alright to take a break when you need that. And it's totally alright to get more coffee. :D
Numbers 6:24-26 (to save time, i will just write the reference and you can flip your Bible now or use your phone or internet).
Commentary: Blessing is a five part things: 1. God would bless them and keep them (favor and protect); 2. Make his face shine upon them (be pleased); 3. Be gracious (merciful and compassionate); 4. Turn his fave toward them (give his approval); 5. Give peace.
Blessing you offer will not only help the one receiving it, it will also demonstrate love, encourage others, and provide a model of caring to others. So if you ask God to bless you or others, you are asking God to do these five things.
Isaiah 40:5 and i wrote a little note with a heart symbol: prepare to see His WORK! (i am excited about what He is doing!)
Isaiah 52:10 (sometimes i didn't have anything extra to write, so just the Bible verse)
Isaiah 62:1 commentary: many commentators believe Isaiah is speaking in verse 1. If so, Isaiah's ZEAL for his people and his desire to see the work of salvation completed cause him to pray without resting, hoping that Israel would be saved. We should have Isaiah's ZEAL to see God's will done. This is what we mean when we pray, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Mat 6:10). It is good to keep praying persistently for others.
(that prompted me to do something i had long thought of. Start a prayer list and actually pray for it. On my to do list later today to go over that. So i took another notebook and wrote down prayer topics. Unsaved people, marriage, husband, future kids, finances etc and will do my best to persistently pray for those).
Psalm 98:2 Jesus did His job already, it's our turn now to work.
Acts 10:35 - is God asking you to show someone the way to Him?
Psalm 9:4 Commentary: God maintains our right and our cause; he is our vindicator (one who clears us from criticism and justifies us before others). In this life, we may face many injustices: (1) we may be falsely accused and misunderstood; (2) we may not be truly appreciated by others for the love we show; (3) the true value of our work and service may not be duly rewarded; (4) our ideas may be ignored. BUT God IS to be praised, for He SEES and REMEMBERS ALL the good we do, and it is up to HIM to decide the timing and the appropriateness of our rewards. If we do not trust Him to vindicate us, then we will be susceptible to hatred and self-pity. If we DO trust Him, we can experience God's peace and be FREE from the worry of how others perceive and treat us. (oh how true that rings in my heart!)
Genesis 8:22 Commentary: Countless times throughout the Bible we see God showing His love and patience toward men and women in order to save them. Although He realizes that their hearts are evil, HE CONTINUES to try to reach them. When we sin and fall away from God, we surely deserve to be destroyed by His judgement. BUT God has PROMISED never again to destroy everything on earth until the judgement day when Christ returns to destroy evil forever. Now every change of season is a reminder of His promise. (same way God doesn't give up on us, and is merciful and gracious to us in our shortcomings, let's be our best to those who need that too! )
a LOT of farming references. And no wonder. Cause... well last night me and dear husband had our differences. Sorry to burst the bubble, if you thought we are perfect. Nope, we have our differences. Anyway, i have a dream. It's still forming a dream, but since it's scaryish, then i believe it could be a God-dream. See i think that if your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough. And mine are very often huge/enormous and humongous (is that even a word?). So anyway i dream of a house, in a rural setting, a bit off from the city, to have peace and quiet. To have our own house, with porch /veranda thing, with a swing and all. And to have some sort of vegetable patch. Because i want healthy life, healthy food and all that, and a safe place for our future kid or two to run around. To maybe even have a cat and dog outside. Maybe. And yes, immediately i think of my back problems and farm work, but i know God has plan and can figure that out later. I just love how we had some thoughts last night about farming and such and then today through cross references i discover these farm-related Bible verse!
PS! Nobody is allowed to crush your dreams. If they don't like it, believe in them, or think you can do that, well that's their problem! If God gives you dreams, He will make them happen, regardless of how silly, stupid, weird, impossible, scary ... they seem!
Right, we got to the end of the cross references. But that's not all God had planned for this morning. I also felt i should read my One Year Bible, which in my case might take way longer than one year. But i don't care about that. I read it when i feel like it. So today was one of those days.
Old Testament reading was from 1 Samuel 15:1-16:23 and i wrote in my journal just things that popped up, because they emm... popped up to me.
"It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord!" - this made me feel good, because we are all anointed by God to deliver messages! Love this!
...settle accounts... (made me think and pray about our debts. Never know what is possible to God no matter how impossible to humans!)
"Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord HAS anointed you king of Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission..." (so yes, i think little of myself rather often. I'm learning to see good, and believe in myself, but it's a journey. Also a lot of people have told me that i'd be a great leader. I don't long to be, but maybe that's God's plan to make me one, in which case i will. And also, we are all on a mission on earth)
"What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offering and sacrifices or your OBEDIENCE TO HIS VOICE? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams." - devo part from One Year Bible: What do you try to give God instead of obedience? There are many good things we can offer to God - worship, serving, money, relationships, jobs - but if we do not first obey, these offerings will not please God. Ask God to make clear the obedience He's asking and the sacrifices you might be offering instead of obeying. Ask God for a heart that is willing to obey completely.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for i have rejected him. The lord DOESN'T see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I love this! I know that i am not perfect, but God sees my heart. And oh how much i need to learn that outward stuff is not so important....)
Some of Saul's servants said to him, "A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you. Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play SOOTHING music, and you will soon be well again.
...and whenever the tormenting spirit from God had troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.
(This just might be solution to depression/anxiety. I know that music has helped me a lot. and maybe that is the key. To listen to right music. Soothing music, when we are troubled. Maybe this is God's call for us to worship when we are "tormented" - troubled, anxious, worried. What better way to "beat" the torment than to go to Him with singing, music and praise! LOVE THIS!)
And to finish. New Testament reading from John.
John 8:12 If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.
And that's what i had today. Yes, it took a long time. Like from 6:45ish when i woke up, until around 9:30 or so. But i had that time. And i took the time and used it. To dig deeper, to investigate. Because i want to know what God has for me. And He has so much!
Even if you have five minutes, 10, or 2,5hours or more. Take the time, make a habit to meet God daily. I know it will be challenging. There will be days when everything else will be way better, or seemingly so. Be it Netflix, or your thoughts that go "i'll do it later", ignore them! DO it then and there. God is longing for you, waits to see you, eager to hang out! Make a habit of meeting Him!
I've said enough. Now flip your Bible open. And have fun!