11 February 2011

God's Best Secrets, part 3

Good Morning, Sweet One!
I'm up a bit earlier than usual this morning, and decided to take the quiet time to finish up my thoughts on...quiet time.  Very fitting, somehow.  I've already written you about Jesus first, Jesus always, and followed that up with a couple of key thoughts on obedience, humility, and surrender which are absolutely essential for a vibrant relationship with Christ.  We finished off the last of those thoughts with encouragement to become a woman of the Word so that the power and presence of God would fill every waking moment.

We took a brief detour, because I needed you to remember that not only are you flawed and still in the process of sanctification, so are the people you live with whether that's Dad and I, roommates, or a husband and children.  God isn't just sanctifying you through the bumps and bruises of living with others, he's working on them through you at the same time.

Now we're going to take a few minutes so I can remind you how to take all that you've read and heard from the Word of God and apply it to daily life. How do you respond to the roommate who "borrows" your things, the emotional rock tumbler of raising toddlers, the boiling ache of a friendship gone awry?  How do you connect what you've read and studied with what you're actually living?  Go from Driver's Ed to driving a car at 65 mph on a three lane highway?

2 Peter 1:3 holds the answer in a nutshell:  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.  The rest of this passage goes on to paint a picture of a mature Christian who has grown into the image of Christ.  But the key is right here:  We have every answer to every situation when we know Christ.  We know people when we spend time with them.  Listen to them.  Talk with them.  Not at them, with them!

Meditation and prayer are the practices which allow us to apply the mind of Christ to our daily life, and bring our daily life to Christ.

George Mueller, a 19th century hero of faith, expressed it this way: "I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament...early in the morning.  The result I have found to be almost invariably this...though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately into prayer."  They flow into one another so intimately, that it truly becomes a conversation with your heavenly Father.  My favorite method for meditation is a series of questions that I modified from Jim Berg's book, Changed Into His Image,  and Steve Petit's book, How to Pray 30 Minutes a Day.  Every time God talks one on one to a person in His Word, he asks a question.  Questions are powerful tools in the human mind.   

So here it is, my sweet one.  This represents almost a decade of work and thought.  I've tweaked it a dozen times, and probably will tweak it a dozen more.  This is my heart, my passion...for myself, for you and your brothers, and for other women that God has chosen to place in my path over the years.  I started out with a glossy PowerPoint presentation and carefully designed booklets.  I quickly learned that this is best shared life to life, not in a large group.  I hope that we've spent many hours together and this is second nature to you by now.

First Light:  The LAMP Method of Personal Quiet Time

Look:  Begin by reading a passage of Scripture carefully.  Look for Jesus Christ.  Don't stop reading until He is revealed.  Re-read the passage if necessary.  I recommend starting with the passage of Scripture your Pastor preached on last Sunday.  The book of John is another good starting point.
What Does This Passage Reveal About Jesus Christ?

Ask:  Keeping the passage in context, ask yourself...
What is one attribute of God  revealed in this passage?
A mutable attribute is one that you can share, like compassion.  An immutable attribute is one you can't, like omnipotence.  For your first meditations, choose a mutable attribute...something you should share in common with Jesus Christ.

Meditate:  After you have defined the attribute you have chosen, spend time to think through each question.  It is not uncommon to spend more than a day on one question.  Smaller, richer passages will bloom like a flower.  Larger passages will usually boil down into surprisingly sweet truths.  Some passages are as beautiful (and hard!) as a jewel and will reveal their beauty as you gaze on each facet.
What is the biblical definition of this attribute?
What else do I know or does this passage show about this attribute of Christ?
How does the world display this attribute?  How is that different from Jesus Christ?
Who in the Bible experienced or demonstrated this attribute of Christ?
Is there another of Christ's character traits that seems to be in opposition to this one?

Personalize:  As you meditate on a passage, your heart will naturally flow back and forth from meditation to prayer.  A few key questions will help you search your heart.
How have I seen God demonstrate this attribute in my own life or in the lives of others?
Have I allowed Christ free reign to demonstrate this aspect of Himself in my life?
If this attribute has been lacking in my daily contacts with people, what have others been seeing in me instead of the ___________ that would have demonstrated a Christ-filled life?

Those questions will probably take the better part of a week to go through, but I like to start each morning praying through what I've been thinking about.
Praise:  What characteristic of Jesus have I been meditating on  for which I can bring adoration?
Repent:  What areas in my life do not exhibit the attributes I saw in my Lord's life?  Do I have sin that needs to be confessed?
Ask:  Who (including myself) particularly needs the attributes I studied today?  What situation or persons are heavy on my heart today and will pull my mind away from communion with the Lord?
Yield:  What situations do I know I'm going to face today that will tempt me to walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit?

This letter is already too long, but I wanted to end with the summary I wrote for the First Light booklet:
A morning quiet time is not simply a chance to glean a few choice words of wisdom to help you through your day, but rather an opportunity to spend time with your precious Savior.  As you faithfully look for Jesus Christ in the Word, meditating on His person and works, the Holy Spirit will illuminate the Scriptures, enliven your prayer life, and reveal Christ to you.  This morning time will eventually grow until your prayers and meditations are "all the day," and Christ's constant presence is a joyful reality in your life.  If your time in the morning is limited, prepare the Scripture passage ahead of time [or use the passage your Pastor preached] so that the few moments you have before you begin your day can be spent in meditation and prayer.  Actively seek to streamline your morning routine so that you can enjoy a time of fellowship with the Lord before you meet the trials and temptations of the day.

Love and hugs,


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