"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
~1 Timothy 4:8
~1 Timothy 4:8
There may never be another opportunity in our lifetimes like the opportunity we have now. This is my 18th day of shelter in place--since my employer told me to pack up my office and move it home. And suddenly, overnight, I go from a person who has more to do than hours in the day to do them to a person that has more hours in the day than I have to do. And it looks like I have at least 30 more days ahead of me. I'm just one of millions in this same boat.
One question I've been asking myself is how do I come out of this quarantine stronger than when I went into it. And my answer is to spend more time in prayer. More time in the scripture. More time reading inspirational works. And for the past 18 days that's what I've been doing. I have at a minimum another 30 days before I can return to work, and I plan to have some of the things I'm doing right now so well ingrained in my daily routine that it has become force of habit.
Here's a few tips for you. Some of them I'm doing, and some of them friends have shared with me:
Begin Your Day With Prayer
Get up a few minutes earlier if you need to, or replace another habit with this one. Find a good devotional you enjoy, and take a few minutes to read it. I'm very fond of Our Daily Bread. You can get it three months at a time in a booklet, one page for each day, or go to their website to read the day's devotional at ourdailybread.org--you can even get the app and read it right on your phone. There are many many devotionals like this, and almost all of them are set up the same way--little booklet, or website, or app. Your choice. And once you've read it, take a few minutes and begin your day with prayer.
Read the Bible
Many Christians rarely read their Bibles. It's true. There's been many surveys done that show this. But God wants us to come to know him through his Word. Get a good study bible (I'd recommend the Life Application Bible to start), pick a chapter, and begin going through it. Read a verse, and read the study notes, and repeat. It's difficult at first, but for many of us, reading the Bible daily is the easiest habit to establish. I don't know how many times I intend to read for a few minutes before bed, and before I know it, an hour or more has passed. There are a lot of very good Bible studies. If you're interested in broadening your understanding of a particular subject, you'll certainly find resources if you look for them. Just like devotionals, you'll find Bibles printed on paper, you can read it for free online in a number of places, or you can download it right to your Nook, Kindle, or iPad. Whatever method serves you best. But read it--and like James tells us, do what it says!
Write About Your Faith
I've been keeping a journal for decades. One thing I do each day in my journal is I keep a gratitude log. Every time something good happens to me and I'm grateful for it, I jot it down on my gratitude list. It might be a free cup of coffee at Starbucks, or a nice remark somebody made. I write it down. I also write down things I want to remember to pray about. People in sickness and distress. Situations that I'm challenged with. All those little things I want to bring to the Lord. I write these things in a special color so that at the end of the day, before I go to bed, I can look back over the day and the remember these things before I pray. I've found this to be a powerful tool. Not only does it become a long, long list of things I'm blessed with, but it reminds me not only to pray for my own wants and needs, but to remember those other concerns I've written down throughout the course of the day and week.
Turn The Channel
In our world today, sermons aren't just for Sundays. I listen to one each morning on my way to work. And now that I'm home, I listen to one over coffee in the morning. I'm particularly fond of Chuck Swindoll. There's a local station that runs Chuck's "Insight For Living" every morning. It's a great way to start your day. Find a Christian radio program you like and listen to it every day--the earlier in the day you listen the better. Again, it's the information age. You can find pastors preaching on the radio, there are Christian channels on XMRadio in your car if you have that, and you can listen to entire collections of broadcasts archived on websites. You'll even find these guys preaching on YouTube. Just look, and you'll be astounded at what's out there.
Use this time away from the outside world to improve your relationship with Jesus Christ--live in the Christian world for awhile. We're warned about the influence of the outside world many times in the Bible--what an amazing opportunity we've been given away from that wicked world to work on our suit of Christian armor. We all know these verses well:
"11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."