John 15:5 (NIV) (Jesus Said)5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (NRSV) I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
So, you have more time (due to the Covid-19 outbreak) and you want your spiritual life to be better. Or to put it in the language of John 15, you want to improve your connection to the vine. The question is how? I want to spend the next number of blog post giving you tips on how to do exactly that. I am hoping to guide you into abiding in a deeper and richer way.
First a disclaimer. Only God can improve our spiritual life. It is His Spirit at work in us that allows us to deepen our connection with the vine. However, you can put yourself in a place where this is much more likely to happen. As Dallas Willard said, “Grace does not preclude effort, it precludes earning.” That is why scripture say,
2 Peter 1:5–7 (NIV) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
It is going to take time and effort to improve you connection to the vine. But many of you have extra time because of “social-distancing” and all the other things that go with the Covid-19 pandemic. So let’s use the time well.
Tip #1 – Set a Time
I know that this is basic. But if you don’t have a set time and place, you will have good intentions to connect with God, but it probably won’t happen. When life was normal, I would look at my schedule and see what time I had to leave the house in the morning and then get up an hour and a half before that. (A half hour to get ready, and an hour to connect with Jesus) Since I am not leaving my house right now, I am just spending the first hour with him.
Some of you are better in the morning. Some of you are better in the evening. I would encourage you to give God your best time. Decide how much time you are going to give God. If you have never spent consistent time with God, you might want to start at 15 minutes. This is just to establish a routine. It is doubtful that you will make much progress without giving at least 30 minutes a day. I know that this is a lot of time for those of you who are busy. That is why we talked about effort earlier. It is going to take effort. In time, you may want to move to 45 minutes or an hour. But like every new habit, start at a sustainable level.
Tip # 2 – Set a place
Having a set place that is as distraction free as possible. Susannah Wesley (John Wesley’s mother) use to go into the corner of the room and put her apron over her head. (But she had 11 kids and a small house) For parts of my time with God I like to have music playing in the background. (Usually quiet instrumental music) If the place that you pick has this capabilities, that is a bonus.
Tip #3 – Gather the tools that you will need
You will need:
Electronic Bibles are good if you can keep from being distracted. If you cannot keep yourself from distraction, then you need to go back to a paper Bible. If you are using a paper bible, it is good to have a highlighter that you can use. (Be careful if your bible uses thin paper. You may want to use a dry highlighter or pencil crayon for that)
It can be as fancy or plain as you like. But a journal is important for remembering what God is showing you. (We will look at this in a future post)
This can be in the back part of your journal. Or it can be on your phone or tablet. (Again we will look at this in a later post)
I know this first post has been very basic. It is important that where ever you are at in your spiritual journey that you can get on board. So take some time and pray about these questions.
Where can I meet daily with God?
How much time do I want to spend in the coming weeks in personal devotions?
Then spend some time getting your space ready for tomorrow. Find a Bible. Find a journal. Find a pen and a highlighter. (Find some instrumental music if you would like to have that in the background)
Get ready for the adventure.