Busyness vs Devotion – The Struggle is Real but How to overcome It

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BUSY – a 4-letter word that is becoming a fad now. It is being used as a common reason and unfortunately, most, if not all, of us are becoming victims of this word.

Unfortunately, our devotion to God is affected as well by our busyness. We think that there are lot of things to do and there is no more time left for us to spend time with God.

Here are the common “specific” reasons why someone doesn’t have time for devotion based on the people I talked to :

  1. A lot of things to do at work and so many deadlines.
  2. Already arrived late from work/school. I’m too tired already and I just want to rest.
  3. Need to finish my homework. I still have N homeworks to finish.
  4. Exam is coming. I need to review to pass the exam.
  5. I went out for vacation and enjoyed it.
  6. I am with my friends/family and I need to take care of them.
  7. I am sleepy.
  8. I woke up late.

And many more excuses… Can you enumerate more? ūüôā

All of these reasons rooted on what we prioritized or valued the most. As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We exert effort, spend more time and focus on the things we treasured. Sad to say, many of us tend to say we love God but spending time with Him is our least priority. We tend to value more our work, our studies, our relationships, our ministry and other things over God. I don’t say that we should not value them but putting them more valuable than God is dangerous. I remember someone told me “God gave me this work/studies, I should be excellent on these things as I wanna honor God”. There’s nothing wrong to honor God by being excellent on the things He entrusted to us but don’t let these things replaced God in our life. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? I hope we would be like Mary who chose to listen to Jesus rather than Martha who became distracted by all the preparations he made for Jesus (Luke 10:40-42).

I liked what Martin Luther said:

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Despite of a lot of things that he needs to accomplish, he decided to spend his¬†first 3 hours in prayer. He put utmost priority to God by having his first appointment with Him. He knows where to draw strength, he knows who should be the first over all. I hope that we would be able to build up the same habit and understand further God’s value in our life. Let Him be our first VVVVIP (very, very, very, very important person) that we put our best to meet Him on the first hour(s) of our day. In Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Here are some tips to get us on the right track in building up our personal devotion:

Understand God’s value in your life

When we value something/someone, we spend time with it. One example is relationship: when we love someone, we spend time and effort for him/her. Another example is work and studies: because we know that our work or our studies is valuable, we are doing our best for us to be promoted or get a raise (for working adults) or to get high grades and awards (for students).

It is very easy to say “I love God” or “I prioritize God above all else” but it is very difficult to put it into practice.

Sit down and reflect on the value of God in your life. Where is He in your life?

Categorize all the things you are doing in a day

This will help us to realize the things that are consuming our time in a day. List down all of these including the non-sense ones.

Once you completed your list, categorize them between valuable and non-valuable. Valuable are those activities that add value to yourself such as work, trainings, rest (sleep), studies, devotion/prayer, reading, meetings, eating, exercise, etc. Non-valuable are activities that do not add value to yourself such as excessive watching of TV, surfing the internet, social media, idle times, etc.

You will be amazed that you are actually not busy! You might just doing a lot of non-valuable activities.

Given the non-valuables that you have, what needs to be done? What are the valuable activities you can replace for these?

In the list of your valuable activities, where is your personal time with God there? Is He the least of your valuables? I hope not. I hope He is the topmost priority in our list. How about attending a discipleship group?

Setup a plan and commit on it

I hope it is now getting clearer and you now have insights on which are the activities you can scrap off in your daily life. Now, let’s setup a plan and commit onto it.

When attending classes or doing our work, we have our  preset time. We are doing our best not to be late in our classes or work. We even render overtime at work some times to accomplish our responsibilities.

When meeting someone, specially a VIP, we are getting excited, dressing up well and even reach the meeting place earlier than the schedule.

I hope that we have greater excitement in terms of spending our time with God. I agree that most, if not all of us are having challenges doing it but we should fight for it and commit ourselves into it.

Commit a specific schedule for your personal devotion with God. Again, He is our VVVVIP, He deserves the best time of our day! Choose a time when you are at the peak of your strength where you can dwell deeper in His word.

Personally, I am having my devotion every morning. My set time for it is the first 30 minutes of my day, usually 6AM-6:30AM. I admit there are times it I’m facing challenges doing it but I have to fight for it. Until I got used to it that every time I wake up, my body will move into a prayer position and start thanking God for the new day ahead, then play worship songs or read the bible. Aside from that, for the rest of my day, as much as possible, I am allotting my other idle time as well to read, pray and worship. Usually, over the weekends, I extend my personal devotion for two hours and I really like soaking with God during this moment. It will be an amazing experience that you are not keen of the time but enjoying every second with Him.

It will be difficult to commit on our own. It will be best to have someone we are accountable to, to remind us about our commitment on having our personal devotion. Talk to someone who can follow you up, who can rebuke you in case you fail and encourage you to be back on track. This will help us to discipline ourselves in building up our devotion habit.

Start with worship

Now, that we have our set time for our personal devotion, the next question is how?

The best way based on my experience to start our personal devotion is thru singing of worship songs. Just sing, sing and ask God for you to experience His presence. Pour yourself into Him. If you wanna jump, jump. If you wanna dance, dance. If you wanna shout, shout. It is only you and God. Don’t limit yourself and let your heart pours in His presence.

Pray

Talk to God. Be personal with Him. He is just around us. His presence is everywhere. Treat Him as a person who is willing to listen to you. Open up everything that is in your heart and your mind and cast to Him any burdens and worries that you have.

Read the word of God and do journaling

For beginners, it is recommended to start with the book of Mark. If you find it difficult to continue or you don’t know what to read next, you can opt for a bible plan. There are several bible plans around. One of these that I am using is the One Year Bible Plan from http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com. If you are not into reading, you may download the Super Book application for iPhone and Android as it comes with videos and some bible quizzes to get you into reading the bible.

As for journaling what you have learned from reading the bible, there are several approaches but what we are using is the SOAP method:

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Share your devotion to others and encourage one another

Always remember, you are not alone. There is a group of people that will help you to grow and develop the habit of having your personal devotion. Come up with a plan together, share what you have learned from your devotion and encourage one another. As mentioned in Heb. 10:24-25:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

That’s it! I hope this will be helpful to you and happy devotion! May You grow more in your relationship with God and be build up in your faith through Jesus Christ!

All Scripture is breathe out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Tim. 3:16-17

 

PiliPinas 2016: Very Soon!

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Two days to go and the Filipinos will once again exercise their right to vote for the future leaders of the Philippines.

The election drama continues to thicken with a lot of twists happening – similar to watching a “teleserye” (drama series) and now in its climax.

Social media is also full of views about politics. There’s nothing wrong with it but what saddened me is that some are not anymore responsible in posting – bashing, disrespect, rivalries, furors – in which in some point, affected relationships. Some take it seriously to a point of unfriending someone in social media – not sure though if this means “friendship over” to them in real life. But I hope not.

News are full of election coverage and some are being accused of irresponsible journalism. Other more important issues seems to be set aside.

Let’s take a break and rethink. Here are the things that I believe we should do in this season:

1. Pray. Pray.Pray.

The greatest weapon that we have is prayer. As Pio of Pietrelcina said:

Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart.

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV) said:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

I encouraged everyone to kneel down and pray for our country, for our candidates, for our fellow Filipinos and for our future leaders. God is merciful and gracious, as we seek Him, I believe God will heal our land from the infirmities and divisions and bring unity to our people:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)

2. Speak Life. Be Responsible. Love not Hate.

There is power in the words we speak and we post in social media. These words can either build up or torn down.

We should be speaking life rather than curses. We should be building each other up not turning down others due to difference on the political candidates we are supporting. Do not let these differences put us down but rather focus onto Jesus who, despite of our rebellion, chose to die for us to be reconciled with God.

Our relationship is far more important that politics. Do not let our friendship be ruined by persons who even don’t know us personally. Idolatry comes when you focus onto something/someone that is replacing God and in turn, willing to give up even our friendships and relationship for the sake of this thing/person. Do not be deceived, check ourselves and see if this started to penetrate our heart. If so, surrender it to God and ask for forgiveness and be reconciled with these people. At the end of this election, no matter what the result is, these people you have relationship with remains and we don’t want to lose them.

Let love always be our motivation, even in our simple posts in social media. Let the love of God and the likeness of Christ be seen in us as we express our freedom of speech and let our conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6).

3. Do Our Part.

Whoever will be put into leadership will not be successful if in our own we are not doing our part to make a change.

Each one of us has his part to build a nation. It doesn’t matter how small it is, when these small things are gathered together, this will have a big impact to our country.

Don’t rely for the government to change your life, to change the situation of our country. This is our nation and each one of us owns it and should take care of it.

Let’s stand up together to have a nation whose God is the Lord and truly, God will bless our nation!

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance – Psalm 33:12

Happy 1st “No-Appendix” Anniversary?!

February 17, 2016 marks my 1st “no-appendix” anniversary! February 17, 2015 is one of the memorable days of my life because it was my 1st time to be confined in the hospital and it was not in my home country but overseas. It was also my 1st time to undergone surgery – laparoscopic appendectomy – whatta term!

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I went overseas on February 12, 2015 for work. It was my 1st time to be out of the country for long term to work and also to help our church there.

February 15 when I felt pain in my lower right abdomen. I thought it was just a stomach pain and took antacid but the pain didn’t subside, hence, I decided to consult a doctor on the 17th. I even walked going to the clinic – which is around 10 minutes.

The doctor’s findings was suspected appendicitis and gave me recommendation to go to the hospital. I thought not that serious and I even went back to work and ate my lunch until I decided to go to the hospital.

In the hospital, I went to the emergency section alone, consulted a specialist, referred me for ultrasound and confirmed – acute appendicitis! The doctor mentioned that I need to undergo surgery asap. I was shocked and could not believe it.

I admit that I worried that time. I was in this nation for just 5 days, my work permit was still being processed by then and didn’t even have a health insurance card with me. I didn’t know if my company will going to shoulder it. I asked the doctor if I can go back to my home country first (because I am sure I am covered by our health insurance there) or even move to a cheaper hospital but it was dangerous as the appendix may burst anytime.

I didn’t know what to do that time. I called a friend and burst out my emotions. Facing this difficult situation in which you don’t have your love ones with you is very difficult.I asked God:

Lord, you promised me that you will provide everything that I need. That you will bless me for me to be a blessing to this nation. But why I’m facing this situation now, I am away from my family, I don’t have yet someone to lean on. I don’t even have my salary yet.

Yet, I will trust in Your word, Lord, You are my provider.

I called my company to inform of my situation and they are also shocked by this news. Our expat team said that they will going to check with the benefits team if I am already covered by insurance.

I was about to give my credit card to the cashier – I am ready to pay for it as life is more important than money. Thank God, the personnel mentioned that the insurance company already provided the guarantee letter and they will cover all the expenses. I could not express the feelings that I had that time. Indeed, God is faithful!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

Thanks to my colleague who accompanied me after her working hours. That night of February 17, I was scheduled for surgery. I felt my heart beating fast, I was very nervous. The operating room is too cold, I was shaking. The staff started to inject anesthesia – I could not feel my body, my vision blurred until I fell asleep.

I woke up and the surgery was completed. The staff moved me to my room. It was done. Thank, God, for a successful operation. Thanks also for my doctor and the staff who assisted.

I stayed another 4 days in the hospital. During my stay, most of the time no one watched over me. Actually, I didn’t self-pity that time because this was my special moment¬†with God who never leaves me, who is always there for me. I realized that God has a purpose and all things are working together to my own good.

Here are some things that I learned and experienced:

1. Full reliance to God

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. – Deuteronomy 31:8

2. God’s faithfulness

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

3. God is in control.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? – Jeremiah 32:27

4. God refreshed, strengthened me and empowered me during my stay in the hospital.

I can say that I have no regrets that these things happened to me because these made me stronger and experienced more of God’s works in my life.

Happy 1st “no-appendix” anniversary to me!

*Bible verses quoted from ESV