By Mikhail Hutton
If you are like me then whether you are working or on vacation from school you probably have a really hard time staying focused on God over the summer. Who can blame you? The weather is usually amazing, it's a great time to go places with our families and friends, and overall a better time of year (for those of us who deal with snow from the months of November to March). One of the biggest advantages of summer is that for many of us we find ourselves with a lot more free time to do what we like and even if you don't have a summer vacation, it always seems that for some odd reason we can't quiet get our minds off everything else going on in the summer to fully appreciate God.
So the challenge for many of us is simple. How do we stay focused and sharp in the summer time? I believe it comes down to a few main things that we absolutely must do when we find ourselves focused on everything else in life. If you can master this in the summer, you should be good to go and well on your way to having a rock-solid foundation in Christ. So let's roll up our sleeves, the first part is God's Word.
2 Tim 3:16-17 says "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for resetting the direction of a man's life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit
him fully for all branches of his work." In the NKJV verse 17 says "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
Another way to look at it is that Deuteronomy 29 talks about scripture being the things revealed to man which belong to us forever. In other words these are the things that God has given to us to help secure our faith and direct our ways. Notice how it says "resetting the direction of a man's life." Before God can use us he has to clean us off and give us a new direction and purpose. As mentioned in verse 17 of the NKJV it uses the word complete.
In other terms God's word gives us all the tools we need to teach, rebuke, correct, and train. If we look earlier in 2 Timothy 2:21 is says "if a mean cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work."
I remember seeing a sign at an Air Force base I once had training at, it said "if you're too busy to pray then you're too busy." I thought to myself that it was such a simple and profound statement to make. This week I want to have us take a look at the life of Christ and see what we can find about this idea of quiet time. This is the second major pillar that I believe we need to master in order to have a rock solid foundation in Christ.
Mark 6:31 (NIV)
Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
It's amazing to me that some of the most powerful and driven men at the time of the New Testament's writings always came back to a focus on prayer and ministry. There is nothing overly complex about prayer. It really is just that simple. It's like eating. There is nothing (on the surface) overly complex about eating, if you eat and eat the right foods your body flourishes, if you neglect food or eat bad foods your body becomes weak. Prayer is much the same way.
Just as we wouldn't (or shouldn't) neglect food we shouldn't neglect prayer. As we neglect our personal prayer time we neglect our growth and ability to stand against the wind and waves that will come our way.
You absolutely can not hear from God without prayer. That means both in speech and in listening. Many times we make the mistake of thinking that we should always be speaking during prayer. I have learned that God speaks more when I close my mouth and listen. God wants to engage in conversation with his creation and we should spend as much (if not more) of our time listening than we should speaking. I challenge you this weak simply to pray and praise God for who he is and just sit there in the quiet and let God download his love and wisdom into your life.
I truly believe that the toughest part for many of us is to master the basics of getting in God's word and actually spending quality time in prayer. I have found that it's a matter of consistently doing these things day in and day out that helps us grow. Sometimes it might be tough but like all things, the more we train our minds and hearts in these matters, the stronger we become. Just think, if you can do this during the best time of the year, how much easier will be at other times.
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