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Prioritizing Time With Jesus
Prioritizing Time With Jesus
This week, we are focusing on our first area of growth-prioritizing time with Jesus. This area of growth goes hand-in-hand with our ultimate goal of spending time with Jesus daily. It is not possible to spend time with Jesus daily if you don't prioritize your time with Him. God has a lot to say and He cherishes the time He can spend with you, but you have to be willing to give Him your undivided time and attention.
Take a look at your relationships. How can you get to know someone if you barely talk to them or spend time with them? I'm pretty sure if a woman or man treated you like this, you wouldn't consider yourself in a relationship with them.
Think about it. If spending time with your significant other is essential to growing in your relationship, then it is 100 times more important with the God of the universe, your Father, your first love, Jesus.
Here are two quotes from Francis Chan that are convicting.
"When we love God, we naturally run to Him-frequently and zealously. Jesus didn't command that we have a regular time with Him each day. Rather, He tells us to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 'He called this the 'first and greatest commandment' (Matt. 22:37-38, MV). The results are intimate prayer and study of His Word. Our motivation changes from guilt to love."
Okay, listen. This quote is CRAZY. The gist is that you make time for what is important to you and for the ones you love and want to be intentional with.
The key word is love. And love is a matter of the heart. Without love, spending time with Jesus will be another item on your checklist.
"There is no substitute for being alone with God. If you don t have time, you need to quit something to make room. Skip a meal. Cancel a meeting. End some regular commitment. There is literally nothing more important you could do today. God literally determines whether or not you take another breath. "He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything". (Acts 17:25, ESV)
Could anything be more important than meeting with the One who decides if you live through this day? Could anything be better? How can we not make time to be with the Maker of time? What plans do you have today that you think so important that you would race past the Creator to get to them?"
PHEW! This one speaks for itself!
We encourage you to do the following this week:
1. Identify a time and place during your day where you KNOW that you can give God your best and undivided attention.
2. Commit to that time and place for the rest of this week. Observe and record the benefits of this.
WEEK 1 RESOURCES
1. The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today (A blog post on spending time with God)
2. How to Study the Bible (a blog post)
3. 10 Ways to Remove Distractions & Choose God First (a blog post)
4. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin
5. Going Deeper: Bible Study Resources (a blog post)
DAY 1 - JOHN 14:5–14
Say you live in a dying world and you are one of the few people who knows about the cure that can help everyone live. I forgot to mention that you're also the hero in this storyline and, like every good story, you know that there's no way you'll be able to help all the sick people without a fight. You know your enemy is going to do everything in his power to prevent you from obtaining that cure, and then do everything in his power to stop you from sharing it with other people.
When we think about it, our walks with Jesus work in the same way. Jesus is the cure. In John 14:6 NIV, it says that He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one can get to the Father except through Him. The truth is we do live in a dying world, and the fact is you do have the cure. Jesus.
But you must understand the enemy's strategy. He is going to use every distraction in his book to stop you from spending time with God: I'm too tired to wake up earlier in the morning, life is so busy, I don't know what to do during my time with Him, I'm too tired to do it before I go to bed, or my personal favorite, I just don't feel like it. Some are excuses, but all of them are distractions.
And why would the enemy distract you from spending time with your Creator? Because the more you spend time with God, the more you become who He has made you to be. The more you understand your calling, the more you can help others find Him, and the more you begin to experience freedom because of the redeeming work on the cross.
The problem is not whether Jesus works. You will always feel refreshed after spending time with Him! He says it in His Word. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8, ESV), or He will fill you with joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11, NIV). The problem is making God a priority and taking a moment to carve out time to actually do it. It's difficult. We completely understand how that feels, but so much value comes from it.
You have to protect your time with God, and you will have to fight for your relationship with Him. Decide now that you'll take some time to discover what works best for your schedule this week. And then decide that you will sit and pray for 10-15 minutes no matter who or what tries to stop you.
1. Identify the time and place where you KNOW that you can give God your undivided attention. Is it in the morning, evening, before you go to bed, in between class, while your baby is napping? List those out and commit to it this week.
2. What stood out to you, personally, in John 14:5-14?
DAY 2 - MARK 1:35–37
For many Christians, mornings are both the ideal and hardest times to spend time with the Lord. In a day and age where so many people and commitments are stealing our time and energy, it is only human to want to get every bit of sleep we can.
Being a student, a professional in healthcare, law, business, and even in a variety of service jobs requires us to care for the needs of people daily. Life tests our minds and bodies, and it is natural for us to want to recharge adequately, particularly in the morning.
Believe it or not, Jesus was just like us. He was fully God, but He was also fully human. Jesus had just as many, maybe even more, commitments than we do and none of it was ideally scheduled. All day He was pouring Himself out to people, so they were healed and saved. Think about the woman with the issue of blood. By her merely touching His garment, Jesus released His power, and she was healed.
Jesus' days were never about Him. He came to save the world and each day of His ministry reflected that. If that wasn't enough, this man had NO breaks. He even died nailed to a cross! To fulfill God's will, Jesus knew He had to prioritize time with the Father first thing in the morning.
Why? Because all was still and quiet. He knew that the morning, while it was still dark, was the prime time for Him to commune with the Lord without distractions or commitments. For Him, it recharged and empowered Him to conquer the day ahead.
Without spending time with God, there was no way He could show the world the saving power of the Gospel. How many of us think that way? That there is NO way we can be the best student, professional, spouse, or parent without spending time with God? Or do we think we can do it all on our own?
Maybe mornings are not an ideal time for you. Perhaps you work super early, are in school and continuously exhausted, or have a newborn baby or kids that you need to tend to in the morning. That's completely understandable.
We just challenge you to identify a time and place where you can commune with God in stillness and quiet. For Jesus, that was in the morning. But maybe it's 10 p.m. after homework or tucking in the kids. Whatever it is, find that time where you can give God your best and feel recharged.
1. What is hindering you from having a consistent time with the Lord? List any obstacles out and strategize a plan to help you overcome those barriers so that you can start having more consistent time with God.
DAY 3 - MATTHEW 22:37
Loving God first and foremost, and then loving people as you love yourself is God's greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37, NIV, says that the way to love God is to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, and mind. The tricky part is that love is not merely a feeling; love is an act. More specifically, the Bible tells us that to love God is to obey Him. In John 14:15, NIV, Jesus says "If you love me, keep my commands."
So how do we do that? Let's break it down.
Loving God with All of Our Heart
The Bible tells us that we should guard our hearts because everything flows from it (Proverbs 4:23). To love God with our heart, we must surrender our desires and motivations to Him.
No, we don't hide the things in our hearts from Him because He is all-knowing. Instead, we are honest with Him about who we are, what we feel, and what we want. Then we assess what is in our heart, compare them to His standards, and surrender any motive or desire that is not pleasing to Him or does not align with His will.
WE. HOLD. NOTHING. BACK. We give our desires to God and ask Him to create in us a new and clean heart (Psalm 51:10). His command, not suggestion, is to love Him with our hearts. That means His will, not ours.
Loving God with All of Our Mind
Romans 12:2 warns us not to conform to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Philippians 4:8 charges us to think of what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Living out these verses is what it means to love God with our mind. This is not something we can do passively. It takes an effort to hold captive thoughts that don't represent God and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Loving God with All of Our Soul
To love God with our soul is to love Him with our whole life. It encompasses a combination of both loving Him with our mind and heart. We give Him our everything-thoughts, feeling, perceptions, desires, beliefs, career, families, relationships, job, studies, etc.
We surrender everything to God and pursue Him through the lens of His love. It's not enough to love Him when it's easy or when things seem to fall into place. The real test lies in our ability to love Him when it costs us.
Jesus' life on earth and death displayed this truth. Additionally, He articulated this perfectly in John 15:13, NIV, when He said to His disciples, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." It cost Jesus everything to die for us, but He did it anyway.
So how does loving God tie into this week's theme of prioritizing time with Jesus? In a society where we are always on the go with SO many people and things taking up our time, it's easy to forget Jesus. Perhaps because we can't physically see Him and there is no strict time required to meet with Him.
But if our hearts truly desire Him, if He is always on our minds, and if our souls thirst for Him, love will compel us to go no days without being with our maker, friend, and lover. You might read this and think "I am not capable of this kind of love." Let us encourage you that it is impossible to love (obey) God the way He deserves.
But He is a just and compassionate God who sees our hearts and desires to give Him our all. With the help of the Holy Spirit, you are capable of loving Him and giving Him your best just as you would your spouse, children, friends, parents, etc. Don't strive to prioritize time with Jesus on your own. Rely on His help.
1. In your own words, what does the quality and quantity of your time with God say about your love for Him?
2. What does it look like for you to love God with your heart, mind, and soul?
DAY 4 - JOHN 15
The thing about living in today's society is that we live in a self-sufficient culture. The "I can do it all by myself' mentality is something that is crippling our generation when it comes to our spiritual development. We cannot do anything without God (John 15:5). We must remain in Him by spending consistent time with Him. The Greek word used in this context is the word menõ, which means to dwell, endure, or remain as one and not become different. Jesus repeats this concept over and over in the chapter, so it must be a critical point!
Failure to recognize our need for the Savior is why we experience problems like pride or discontentment. The Bible has many scriptures about being humble, and living in a state of humility is recognizing that you will always have a need or a gap.
God did that so that you would be dependent on Him to provide. It's why scripture says, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing" (Psalm 23:1, NIV). It's why you're strong when you are weak because God's grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). We lack nothing because God fills those gaps and makes us whole.
When we are prideful, we try to fill the gaps ourselves. We think we can do it on our own, but God is the only one who has the infinite power to live in that role. True fulfillment only comes from Him as it says in verse 11.
Recognize your need for Jesus today, but know that there is no pressure when it comes to God's love! The goal is to not remain in your love for Him, but instead to remain in HIS love for you!
1. What are some needs you should surrender to God so that He can take control and fill your gaps?
2. How can you remind yourself to remain in God's love, especially when it comes to your lack?
DAY 5 - PSALM 91
Protection is a theme in Psalm 91. In the very last part of the chapter, we see that God honors those who love Him and those who acknowledge Him by protecting or rescuing them from evil or their enemies. Additionally, He hears and responds to those who call on His name.
The Lord promises that if we abide and remain in Him and make Him our refuge, He will command the angels to guide and protect us in all of our ways. We do not have to fear in His presence, especially when we are walking in His will. These are examples of His steadfast promises to us. Isn't that awesome?
How often do we go days without even acknowledging Him? Or how often do we rush out of His presence because we have reached the time limit we set to spend with Him? How many of us know that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and evil forces (Ephesians 6:12)?
We are only fooling ourselves if we think that life is entirely about what we see in the natural. There is a whole spiritual realm, an enemy who only comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). In fact, just as God commands His angels concerning us, the enemy has an agenda for us, and He uses His demons to do it.
It is so important that we do not take the power of God's protection lightly. Each time we go a day without acknowledging God we are ignoring our Creator, the only being who knows our beginning to end, who holds our lives in the palm of His hand and is always one step ahead of our enemies and Satan.
He is the only one who knows what is working against us and can intervene on our behalf. He doesn't need our time or help. He can take care of us by Himself. But He certainly would like to keep us in the loop, and it's not a bad idea to take time to praise and thank Him for His protection.
Spending time with God daily and acknowledging Him, even if He seems distant, is understandably hard. But His word is true. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. He is not a man that He should lie. So, if He promises that He will protect those who love Him enough to dwell in Him, then we can rest assured that He will stay true to that promise too.
1. Are you in a place right now where you are desperately in need of God's protection? Do you truly believe in your heart that the Lord is your refuge and that you can safely dwell in Him? Why or why not?
2. How do you feel that time with God will help you access more of Him and His power?
DAY 6 - MATTHEW 14:13–15
Let's dive right into the text today! Jesus has just heard that his best friend and cousin, John the Baptist, has been murdered, and now King Herod is out to get Him too. Jesus then tries to get a moment to Himself and focus on getting to safety while a ton of people is following Him, asking Him to fix their problems.
We don't know about you, but if that were us in that position, we would probably lose it. Place yourself in Jesus's shoes. Someone you love and deeply care about has just been killed, you have to get yourself out of harm's way, and now there are people you don't even know asking you for help.
Jesus knew how to set the bar high! Because instead of getting angry or annoyed, He has compassion on the people. He heals them AND then provides for them by performing one of His greatest miracles. He feeds 5,000 men with only two fish and five loaves of bread. Mind you. We're not even counting the wives and children.
But if Jesus did it for them, He will most certainly do it for you! He doesn't necessarily need us, but He does want a relationship with us. John 15:16 says that we didn't choose Him, He chose us. You are not an inconvenience to God.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Jesus is Bae"
Copyright © 2018 Hanha Hobson & Jemeia Kollie.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Week 1, 3,
Week 1 Resources, 6,
Week 1 Devotionals, 7,
Week 1 Reflection, 22,
Week 2, 25,
Week 2 Resources, 28,
Week 2 Devotionals, 30,
Week 2 Reflection, 47,
Week 3, 51,
Week 3 Resources, 54,
Week 3 Devotionals, 55,
Week 3 Reflection, 81,
Week 4, 85,
Week 4 Resources, 87,
Week 4 Devotionals, 88,
Week 4 Reflection, 112,
Week 5, 115,
Week 5 Devotionals, 117,
Week 5 Reflection, 126,