Sunday, January 8, 2012

Start Early

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
Acts 13:22 NKJV

I have often written about the similarities between physical fitness and spiritual fitness, and many of the rules which can apply to both. As we start the New Year I'm sure many are thinking about making some new resolutions to try and keep as we make our way through this coming year. It is also possible that many will try to make resolutions regarding their relationship with God, and the time that they spend in the Word. If that is the case with some of you, may I take a little time to share some thoughts on how you might go about that?

Have you ever heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? I'm sure many of you have, and many have probably spent some time considering the best way to implement that idea by thinking about what is the most nutritious food to eat and the best time to eat it so you don't forget. Let me ask you this though; have you given as much thought as to how important eating your spiritual food is, and when the best time to eat it is?

Over the years I find myself returning over and over again to the life of David, whom God described as “a man after mine own heart”. If you spend any amount of time studying David's life, it is instructive and enlightening to make a list of all of the characteristics you find about him which might have prompted God to say that. When I first began to commit myself to spending quality time with God by prayer and study of His Word, I found that it was a lot like breakfast. The best time to do it was first thing in the morning when I was rested, and before I began to let the issues of my day interfere and distract me. How interesting it was then to discover the following passage from Psalms;

To the Chief Musician. With flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct [it] to You, And I will look up.
Psalm 5:1-3 NKJV

I really think what we find here is a suggestion from David that he found the best way to start the day is to spend time with God. Now not only does he tell us when, but he also tells us how he chose to do that and it was by meditation and prayer. Now I'm sure you would agree with me that if your desire was to receive some benefit from exercise, it probably wouldn't happen if you only spent 2 or 3 minutes working out. The results you get from exercise are directly proportional to the amount of time and effort you spend trying to achieve them. Spiritual fitness is no different and I believe this is one of the most overlooked principles of spiritual growth. So ask yourself the following question; “how long do I actually meditate and pray every day?”

The Hebrew word for meditate is hagiyg, which is translated as whisper, musing, or murmuring, but it also comes from the root word hagah which means fervour of mind. The idea here is not just “thinking” about God's Word, but using all your effort to grasp the understanding of what God is trying to show you, and then considering how it applies and how you can best use it. David seems to be telling us here that his routine was to get up early in the morning and spend time studying and meditating.

David also tells us that there is a second part to his routine and that is prayer. Interestingly, he uses the word cry to describe his prayer, which made me want to know why? The Hebrew word for cry is sheva` which is translated to mean a cry for help. Now I don't know about you, but the more I study the more I realize my need for help not only in understanding, but application as well so I can certainly relate to what David is saying here. It would seem David is telling us that his study and meditation caused him to cry out to God because he realized he needed the help and encouragement only God could provide.

My personal physical fitness routine happens every afternoon at the gym. I have a program using the weight machines that I like, and I spend a good 20-30 minutes doing circuit training. If I need help, there are trainers there who can give me the advice and encouragement to accomplish my goals. It has worked well for me, and it is a routine that I am not only comfortable with, but enjoy as well.

My spiritual fitness routine begins first thing every morning. Many years ago I found that by getting up a little earlier and starting my day by spending time studying and praying, it had a profound effect on my life. My mind is uncluttered by the normal distractions that will eventually occur during the day and I am free to not only study and meditate, but listen to the Spirit speak as well. It's a routine that I enjoy to the point that I look forward to it every day, and wouldn't think of missing.

David was a man who held a special place in God's heart, and I'm sure that his devotion to his spiritual fitness was a large part of that. Do you, like David, have a commitment to spend time every day in meditation and prayer with God? Like a personal trainer, God is there to help us grow stronger in our faith. All that is required of us is to show up every day to “workout” by spending time in His Word and asking Him for the help and encouragement we need to grow stronger as children of God.

Keep watching.