It all starts with the Spirit
When you open your eyes first thing in the morning, what is your initial thought? What you’re having for breakfast? Unfinished work from the office yesterday? Today’s appointments? Or will you say thanks to the Heavenly Father who looked after you the whole previous day? Will you have a moment of sweet discourse with God first? Before enjoying a meal for the flesh, will you first receive the spiritual nourishment? Will you communicate with the Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ before talking to others?
God is the measure of your whole day. This writer hopes that the brothers and sisters can adopt a lifetime habit of daily devotions. Enjoy communion with the Lord each morning. Listen to, meditate on, and learn His words so as to know God. The following are some things we should take note of when doing devotion:
Start with spiritual life: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:63) Jesus meant that the most important part of a person is his spirit, and not his body. When man has the spirit of Jesus Christ (life), then he can speak of spiritual growth and maturity. When his heart is not clogged up with sin, then he can speak of togetherness with and communion with God. Looking from an everlasting (time) and eternal (value) point of view, the conclusion and necessities of the spirit far outweigh the conclusion and necessities of the body. Therefore, we must care more for the needs of our spiritual lives, and a life of daily devotion is the first step to nurturing the growth of the spiritual life. We tend towards abiding by the needs of the flesh and neglecting the needs of the spiritual life. This writer hopes that everyone will have the wisdom to judge which side has the greater value, the wit to arrange the priorities and order of everyday life, and the determination to pay the price to seek the growth of spiritual life. If we have the will to seek God, He will add to our strength.
Start with spiritual communion: Spiritual communion means that we will find one or more quiet periods every day to communicate with our Heavenly Father, to pour out our hearts to Him in prayer. A life of private prayer in an inner chamber is the life line to the growth of our spiritual lives. This writer earnestly encourages members when praying in an inner chamber to speak out loud in petition, thanksgiving, exaltation, lamentation or intercession etc., and utter your innermost feelings and thoughts to the Father in words. If we just pray silently in our hearts, our thoughts may easily wander. Especially when we are entangled by worldly concerns, it is difficult to focus in silent prayer. The advantage to praying aloud even in private is that we can concentrate our thoughts, and are incidentally training to pray in public. When praying to God, it is not necessary to continuously express our wants and needs. Sometimes we should be quiet for a while so as to wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to us, and learn to pray with our spirit and our mind. “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8)
Start with spiritual nourishment: “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63) The life of the flesh is maintained by earthly food; the spirit is maintained by spiritual food. The Bible is spiritual food; acceptance of and obedience to its teachings cause the life of God within us to gradually grow. There are several ways to read the Bible: e.g. speed reading, analytical reading and devotional reading. Devotional reading emphasizes studiousness and not volume or speed. It focuses on details and meditation, and the need to contemplate again and again in the mind and deliberate on the passage’s meaning. May the Holy Spirit bestow wisdom and comprehension so that we can understand God’s words, and also reveal the significance and application of the passages to us. Wait in peace, maintain a humble heart that’s willing to learn, be self-reflective before God, and then make the appropriate response, such as thanksgiving, praise, admission of sin, repentance, or dedication etc.
This writer prays that God will use the above admonitions to inspire the brothers and sisters to focus on their devotional lives. Even if it means starting from zero, there should be a start. “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3)