Greetings from an absolutely beautiful day in Downtown Memphis!
I've actually decided to come up to the church rooftop and write my article today. This is one of those unique days where the weather is just right This is one of those unique days in Memphis where the weather is just right to sit outside and comfortably think and write.
In fact, I am often asked by friends if we use our rooftop all the time for events. I usually tell them it's kind of like owning a convertible in Memphis. It is incredible to have but is only really comfortable for gatherings about 4 to 5 weeks of the year. It is however a great place to sneak away from my office to think and pray. Over the last couple of months, I have been preaching through a sermon series on "Conversations with Jesus". I've chose different times throughout the Gospel narratives where we get a window into personal conversations between Jesus and individuals. This has given us insight into the character of Jesus and way in which Jesus chose to transform people personally one by one.
I am continually convicted that I need to make sure I am spending more and more time in conversation with Jesus. It's usually in the midst of the busiest and most stressful days that I need to take off to the roof and be quiet with Jesus the most. Spending time with Jesus can be difficult. Sometimes we feel like it really doesn't impact the trajectory of our day. Sometimes we would prefer not to stop and reflect on things because there are things in our life we don't want to deal with. Sometimes we just get so caught up in what seems urgent before us that spending time with Jesus just doesn't cross our mind. Sometimes we would love to spend time with Jesus but don't really know what to do or what to say.
While there really is no formula for how we should spend our personal time with Jesus, I do have a few tips in case you find yourself needing direction.
- Find a regular place that is as distraction free as possible-- This place may be at home, at work, or anywhere but it should be easily accessible. This place may actually even be a place you can roam or walk if you like to think while moving. I prefer to be in places that are much bigger than myself like the rooftop of the sanctuary. Some reason it helps me focus on Jesus more.
- Pray - Say a short prayer asking Jesus to help you know his presence with you and keep you focused. Thank him for his presence with you.
- Read some scripture - We really have few excuses these days for not reading the bible. Most of us can even pull the bible up on our phones. (Try app.bible.com). I like to start out my time reading for a few minutes letting God's word soak in and focus my attention. Sometimes something I read will stick with me and sometimes it won't.
- Confess- So many times we feel relationally distant from Jesus because of something we feel ashamed of or something in our lives we are neglecting. If you know of any barriers standing between you and Jesus, take the opportunity to be set free from them. Feel the weight of guilt and shame fall away.
- Sing - I know there are some of you who will not sing alone in a room for any amount of money. That's ok. But God has given us singing and worship as special tools for opening our hearts and minds to His presence. You will be amazed how effective singing the verse of a familiar hymn or spiritual song can be in time alone with Jesus. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering the words to any songs and default to Jesus Loves Me. Those are usually powerful times.
- Thank Him - Take time to remember the ways Jesus has provided for you in so many ways big and small. Thanking Jesus reminds us that just has he has been faithful in the past he will continually be faithful in the future.
- Pray for others -- Sometimes this is the easiest thing for us to do. Maybe even pick one person you will remember in your prayers everyday for a long period of time. They don't have to be suffering any great crisis. Just bless them with your prayers.
- Pray for yourself -- Ask yourself if there was one thing today or this week that if God intervened it would make a huge impact in your life. Pray that God would intervene. Pray for wisdom! Pray for Love! Pray for anything that comes to mind! God wants us to bring all things big and small to Him in prayer.
- Listen-- Take some of this time and just be quiet. Jesus will speak to you. Often times he speaks so deep into our hearts that we are not aware and occasionally He will speak into our hearts in a way we understand what it is he desires for us to know. Make sure you listen.
This is not a comprehensive list and also not some formula for being with Jesus. These are just some things I like to incorporate in my time alone with Jesus to help me make the most of the time. The most important thing is carve out time every day to spend with him. This is a difficult discipline that seems like it is so easy. I promise increasing your time with Jesus will always significantly impact everything else.
Grace and Peace,