This article forms part of the Choosing Each Day reading plan series.
As we seek to choose the Lord each day, it is necessary to remember that we all have a desire to follow our flesh and think or do whatever “feels” right or seems easiest. As Paul argues in Romans 8, for those who are outside of Christ, there is no choice. They are controlled completely by their sin. Believers, Paul says, have the Holy Spirit living within them. By the Spirit we are becoming more and more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome our flesh. As Joshua told the Israelites, we can choose.
How might this choice play itself out, especially first thing in the morning? It seems that most people usually spend a few minutes gathering their thoughts for the day before they get out of bed in the morning. In these moments it can be a temptation to choose to think first about our day, our schedule, what we need to do, who needs to be where, etc… Before we know it, we can fall prey to the lies of the enemy and begin dreading our day or feeling overwhelmed by it, and then try to tackle it as soon as our feet hit the floor.
What if, instead, we were to choose the Lord? What if, by God’s grace, we would choose to fight our sinful flesh, put it to death as God’s Word instructs us, and set our minds on His way instead of allowing our thoughts to run amok? Practically, what would this look like?
We would begin by thanking the Lord for the gift of a new day and acknowledge that He alone is sovereign, that He alone is in control – not us. And then by His grace we would put aside our thoughts, our concerns, and our agendas and draw near to God by spending time in His Word and in prayer.
No matter how much we think about our day or our agenda, the reality is that the day belongs to the Lord. If we start each day intentionally acknowledging this and acknowledging who we are in Christ, this practice could easily transform how we think about and live out the rest of the moments in the day.
Choosing to follow the Lord does not negate the need to still think about and work out the temporal aspects of living in this world. After all, we are in this world but not of the world. The notion and teaching is indeed correct that we focus first on God and His Kingdom. In seeking His kingdom and His righteousness first, everything else will fall into context and place according to His will and purpose.
As the devotional concludes. by acknowledging that each new day belongs to God, it puts everything else into perspective. Some of the more trivial issues and concerns become things that sort themselves out. Living out acts of gratitude and thanksgiving unto the Lord help to position us humbly before the feet of the Lord.
When we were aligned to the will of God, and seek Him and draw ever closer to Him, we reflect more and more of Him and His loving nature. For me, I like to think that I truly have the Joy of the Lord as my strength; the number of times I have shared about the intrinsic nature of the Joy of the Lord as an important pillar in recent months is testament that He indeed is my Joy, and I have His joy deep down in my heart.
I think about all those childhood Sunday School songs that we may think about trivially – but those truths that we sang about are indeed so relevant for ensuring a foundation of faith has the Joy of the Lord:
- The Joy of the Lord is my strength
- I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart…
Passage Analysis & Commentary
For today’s devotion, a number of passages are listed for reading, and given the increased amount of reading, the passages are merely listed here for completeness:
- Romans 8:1-14
- Galatians 5:16-24
- Colossians 3:1-17
The transformational power of Christ helps us to overcome our sinful nature. Key characteristics that Christ within us helps to increase and develop includes a heart of joy and peace. Ultimately, a sinful nature leads to death and separation from God. As believers, we can be truly transformed and renewed to live according to His will and purpose, and with His help too.
Verse 19/20 list out all the undesirable, sinful characteristics whereas verse 22 defines what a life filled with the love of God leads us towards: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness ands elf-control.
In summary, we are to set our hearts and minds on the things that matter to God, looking beyond the temporal nature of today and adopting a heavenly, eternal focus. When we do this, we can adopt a new persona and mindset. The same characteristics of love are echoed back from Galatians. If these characteristics can be ordered, love really binds them all together, and declares loudly that all glory and honour belong to our God.