From the time we know the Lord, and are bound to him by the cords of love and gratitude, the two chief points we should have in our view, I apprehend, are to maintain communion with him in our own souls, and to glorify him in the sight of men. – John Newton
I like keeping things simple.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve got so many things I have to do and want to do I don’t know where to start. But Newton makes it simple – we only really need to do two things – maintain communion with Jesus in our souls and glorify him in the sight of men.
We don’t use the word communion much, except when we’re talking about bread and juice on Sunday. It’s a good old Puritan word that means hanging out with God. Spending time with him. Getting to know him. Abiding in his word. Meditating on it. Talking with Jesus – thanking him, praying, casting our cares on him.
At times I’ve looked at my devotions as a task or a chore to check off each day. I can think along these lines: Take out the recycling – check. Let the dogs out – check. Read the Bible – check. Pray – check. Okay, that’s done. Now I can get on with my day.
Think of communion with God as developing your friendship with him. Think of reading his word as reading his love letter to you or getting to know a good friend. Think of “devotions” not as a chore, but spending time with Jesus.
Last week at our Youth Camp I spoke on abiding in Jesus the true vine. Jesus said that a key aspect of abiding in him is to abide in his word. We get to know people by spending time with them, and primarily through words. I know how my wife feels about different topics because she’s told me. I know what she loves and hates because she has talked to me about these things. I wouldn’t know her if I didn’t spend time talking with her.
To make my point to the campers I picked out a young man from another church who I’d never met and announced I would become his best friend in two minutes. When our “timer” yelled, “Go” I began to pepper the young man with questions. “What’s your favorite book? Favorite movie? What would you do if you could do anything you wanted for a day? Do you go on vacation? Where? Who’s your best friend? Favorite food? If you could be any animal what would you be?, etc.” After two minutes I said I proclaimed, “Now Matthew and I are best friends! I know everything about him and we never need to talk any more.” Hopefully the kids got the idea – we can’t get to know someone if we don’t spend time listening to them and talking to them.
Maintain communion with Jesus in your soul. Not just when you spend time in his word and prayer, but all day long. Cry out for grace to when your children are melting down. Ask for wisdom when that difficult co-worker insults you. Ask him to give you love for that weak sister who comes to you struggling with the same unbelief you thought you helped her with last week. Cast your cares on Jesus. Remind yourself of the gracious promises he has shared with you. Communion with Jesus isn’t hard. It’s not a chore. It’s easy and it’s sweet.
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Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.