Archive for the ‘Devotionals’ Category

Cravings

Posted: October 4, 2012 in Devotionals, Run
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I am finding that I NEED to run! When I don’t do anything for a few days, my body tells me about it. My legs want to move, and I don’t feel good until I have done something about it.
I notice the same thing in other areas of my life. I have a need to plan and organize things. When I don’t have any projects going, I am very restless and dissatisfied with life. When I find something to plan, life is good again.
The only area in my life where I am supposed to be craving things and am not is spiritual. I am to “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow.” I have to work at wanting to read and learn. Why is that? How can I train myself so that when I miss spiritual learning time, I really notice?
Regular runs train my body, regular plans train my mind, regular prayer should train my heart.

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As I train my body to compete, I begin to think about the other aspects of my life. What is the spiritual equivalent to a triathlon? My initial thought is Read, Pray, Give. However, everyone I talk to has a different perspective. Ideas include Forgive, Memorize, Sing, Dance, and Study. After thinking about it for a while, I have decided to go with my original three skills of Read, Pray, Give.

Read

The Bible is not like a novel that you pick up and read through in a few days or even weeks. It is more like a textbook that requires study. The goal is not to just read through all of the books, but to read for understanding. There are many different ways to study the Bible, and it is a good idea to use a variety of techniques. When training to run or bike, it is not good enough to stay on paved paths and level ground. Hills and rough roads train different muscles and require different techniques than flat, level ground. Likewise, using different resources and techniques to study the same books gives us different insights.

1 Peter 2:2 states “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” This creates the image of longing for the knowledge of God in a way that would leave us empty if we did not get it. The first and last desire of our day should be to know and study God’s word and his wishes.

Psalm 119:11 states “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” If we know what God says, we can live in the way that He loves. Matthew 12:34 says “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If you know the word, it is easier to live the word. A football fan does not have to consult the rule book to tell if the team got a first down, a touchdown, or a field goal. They generally do not have to look up the rules when a penalty flag is thrown. As Christians, we should know our rulebook with the same intensity and knowledge of the avid sports fan. It is not necessary to be able to quote word-for-word, but it is necessary to know the mind of Christ enough that we don’t have to think about what to say or do in most daily situations. This means memorizing and reading repeatedly.

In order to strengthen our reading skills, we must practice regularly, not only reading, but studying and memorizing.

Pray

We are often exhorted to pray according to the model Jesus gave us in Matthew chapter six, often called “The Lord’s Prayer.” This prayer includes praising, requesting, confessing, and forgiving. One-sided prayers are not beneficial to us. We must think of God, of others, and of ourselves.

When we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, it is natural to also think of those that have harmed us. I don’t believe that it is necessary for others to ask forgiveness of us before we forgive them. If I have been hurt by someone, I can forgive them and begin the healing process in my own life before they show remorse and ask me for forgiveness. The Bible doesn’t tell us only to forgive those who have asked for forgiveness. Matthew 6:14 says “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Forgiveness is an act that can stand independent of confession.

To strengthen our praying skills, we must practice regularly. Again, it is necessary to have variety. It is not always possible to praise. It is not always possible to confess. Sometimes we are too heartbroken for those prayers, and can only beg for peace. Reading through the Psalms gives us many examples of when David was despairing and only able to ask “Why?” Practice the hard prayers that require us to examine our lives. Practice forgiveness for the small slights that we feel. Practice praising God. Often our attitude and outlook will change, just by spending some time praising the Creator of all things.

It is also necessary to rest after a hard practice. We cannot spend all the time examining the corners of our hearts. That results in too much introspection that leaves a person unable to help others.

Give

Luke 6:27 states “But to those who are listening, I say ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” This is an indication of how we should live and what our attitude should be. When someone cuts you off in traffic, smile. When you start to feel cheated, let it go and do something extraordinary for the other person. James 2:14 says “And what good is it if people claim to have faith but have no deeds?” We are known by what we do.

It is easy to see how to practice giving. We can see it financially. We can see it in where we spend our time. We can see it where we focus our energy. And we can see it in our attitude. Giving cannot be constant, as we all need time to reflect and re-energize, but it is possible to constantly have a giving attitude – and that takes a lifetime of practice!