Priorities; October 3, 2017

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.

There are some interesting differences between the NIV and the Japanese here. For starters, the NIV makes a statement (You hear my voice) where the Japanese makes a request (Please hear my voice). Then, where the NIV says, “lay my requests before you,” the Japanese says, “make provision (that is, give an offering) for you.” Finally, where the NIV says “wait in expectation,” the Japanese says, “stand in watch.” All of that said, the point is the same: David got up early to come before the Lord and hear what He had to say. (Actually, the Japanese specifies, “at dawn.”) That’s an excellent example to follow. The pace of modern living is so hectic that it takes a very clear choice to make time to be alone with God. On top of that, recent statistics indicate 80 percent of adults are chronically short on sleep. We feel we can’t possibly get up early enough to spend time with God before starting the day, but that’s just because we don’t really consider going to bed early enough to get in enough sleep before getting up early. I really think that’s the big sticking point for most people when it comes to morning devotions. We are addicted to “screen time,” TV and/or computers and/or cell phones, and that takes priority over getting the rest we need and spending time with God. Actually, for many people it takes priority over spending time with other people as well. When we cannot make time for God because of anything, that thing has become an idol to us, whether we recognize it or not. David lived in simpler, less hectic times, that’s true, but the pressures actually just took different forms. Most of us aren’t on the run for our lives, or, later in his life, having to run a kingdom. It all comes down to priorities. What do we value? What do we seek? In terms of value, Jesus told us to lay up treasure in heaven, (Matthew 6:19-21) and to seek first (priorities, remember) God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). If we are genuinely doing those things, making time for God first thing every morning will seem the most natural thing in the world.

I have been blessed by a very strong pattern/habit of morning devotions for so many years that it’s hard to imagine life without it. However, only recently have I been pulling my bedtime forward so that I would have plenty of sleep as well. Even with my previous bedtime of 10:30, many if not most people who have learned of it have been shocked that I went to bed so early! The difficulty for me is not in maintaining the schedule, but in avoiding the temptation to self-righteousness. I am able to maintain this lifestyle only by the grace of God. As a pastor I certainly desire that each of the people in my care have a vital devotional life with our Lord, but I cannot be legalistic. I am to recommend and encourage, but always in love and never looking down on anyone. I have my own weaknesses, and I need to let the Holy Spirit work on all of us to transform us into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18)

Father, thank You for this reminder, and for Your grace to us all. I ask for wisdom and anointing in conveying Your truth to as many people as possible, so that they may be set free to be Your children, (John 8:32) with all that means. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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