Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- Colossians 3:15-17
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
- Malachi 4:1-3
“So may all your enemies perish, Lord!
But may all who love you be like the sun
when it rises in its strength.”
Then the land had peace forty years.
- Judges 5:31
“To you our morning song of praise,
To you our evening prayer we raise;
In lowly song your glory we adore
O God, now, forever and forevermore.
(Luther, following Ambrose)
“’Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly’ (Col. 3:16). The Old Testament day begins on one evening and ends with the sundown of the next evening. That is the time of expectation. The day of the New Testament church begins at sunrise in the early morning and ends with the dawning light of the next morning. That is the time of fulfillment, the resurrection of the Lord. At night Christ was born, a light in the darkness; noonday turned to night when Christ suffered and died on the cross. But early on Easter morning Christ emerged victorious from the grave. “Ere yet the dawn has ﬁlled the skies / Behold my Savior Christ arise, / He chases from us sin and night, / And brings us joy and life and light. Halleluia.’ So sang the church of the Reformation. Christ is the ‘Sun of righteousness,’ who has risen upon the expectant congregation (Mal. 4:2), and they who love him will[mr1] be like the sun when it rises in its strength (Judg. 5:31). The early morning belongs to the church of the risen Christ. At the break of light it remembers the morning on which death, the devil, and sin were brought low in defeat, and new life and salvation were given to human beings.”
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
In reading this quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the two Old Testament Scriptures, it reminds me of a Sunday school class that I taught many years ago. We were discussing quiet time in Bible study and prayer. The video that we saw was focusing on starting each day in the proper manner, with God, focusing on God.
We could have Bible study at other times, but a morning devotional and prayer were essential.
Everyone was on board except for one woman who claimed that she was too busy in the mornings. Her best time was at bedtime. Everyone in class talked about starting the day on the right foot, glorifying God before you ever had a chance to do those necessary worldly things, and the whole concept of being well-rested. She was undeterred. First, she was too busy. Second, she was never really awake until she could not count the number of cups of coffee. Besides, most of her busyness was church work.
I suggested that she could wake up earlier. When she exclaimed something about “what idiot would do that?!?!?!”, I said that the idiot was Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation. When his assistant would announce that the next day was going to be a busy one, Martin Luther would spend several hours in additional prayer that next morning to ensure the strength to survive those busier days. The prayer was more important than the sleep in those situations. The lady growled. She was not going to budge.
But what does Bible study at night do? Do you really get more pleasant dreams? I have, but those are rare. Usually my prayers will get me excited thinking of a friend who is ill and half the night is spent looking at the ceiling, continuing to pray. I have a devotion and prayer before going to sleep, but it is additional to what is done in the morning. And I try for a devotion that is less stimulating than the morning devotion. Something more calming, focusing more on God than the issues of the day. By the next day, those issues of the day, most of them, were … yesterday, old news.
In the morning, you start the day with God and the entire day does not seem busy, even when you may never sit down due to the busyness. Traffic issues may not upset you as much. You will be less prone to anger. The aches and pains (especially when you get older) seem to fade faster when you start the day in prayer and Bible study. The morning devotions outweigh the evening devotions, hands down. Doing both? Even better.
The day that I wrote this, about a week ago, I had some gastric issues in the middle of the night – and I had stayed on the diet the previous day – diagnosis is a mystery on this incident. According to my monitor, I only had one hour, forty minutes of deep sleep and less than three hours of total sleep. My eyes are burning – a lot of artificial tears for that – but my mind is clear. I started writing long before the sun came up. Once the sun came up, I interrupted my writing to take my wife to get her driver’s license renewed and to get her to a clinic for an EKG, since the old one was over six months ago. We did some shopping in between. We even went out for Mexican food and still returned home before noon. The traffic was heavy and erratic at times, maybe due to the steady rain. In one area of two or three blocks, sitting through countless traffic lights due to no one moving except for people changing lanes, my wife suggested that we could get fuel for the SUV, but I said that I needed the open road more. The traffic was getting to me, but if I could just get to a single lane and not worry about people not looking as they changed lanes, I could retain my calm demeanor.
All that strength was from the Lord, and all due to several hours of spending time with God before the day started – all with practically no sleep. And no caffeine either!! And I must wake up early tomorrow to take my wife to dialysis. I am hoping and praying for three hours of deep sleep.
But that is why we start the day in prayer and Bible study (at least a devotion), so that we have enough strength to do what must be done.
God does not let those who love Him down.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.