Often times we rely on our time at church to learn and further our relationship with God, but our spiritual lives shouldn't just exist when we're at church. Instead, our entire lives should revolve around thirsting for God and seeking ways to build our relationships with Him.
But how can we center ourselves around God even when we don't have worship or sermons during the week?
Get plugged in.
For years and still to this day, I have struggled with maintaining a spiritual life that thrives not only at church, but also during my daily life at school, at home, with friends, etc. Because falling into a routine separate from God is so tempting and easy to do, having a way to get plugged into our faith is essential.
Therefore, rather than writing a devotional this week, I thought it might be helpful to share the outlets I often turn to when I find myself wandering away from God.
1) The Bible
Of course I can't mention encouragement without bringing up the Word.
If you are ever feeling discouraged, turn to Psalms. The book of Psalms is basically a compilation of 150 individuals poems that praise, instruct, and console. I try to start every morning by reading a Psalm; they're short, sweet and are really just a great way to reflect on how awesome God is. A personal favorite of mine is Psalm 121.
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
A few years ago, Howard challenged us to spend some time in the Gospels, which are the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These books revolve around Jesus' time on Earth. The first Gospel I delved into was John, and I began by trying to read a chapter a day. In all honesty, I read with very little expectation, but each day I read, I became more and more amazed at the miracles Jesus performed and it was such a huge encouragement to me. The book of John is famous for recounting 7 miracles that Jesus performed while on Earth, many of which ya'll have heard. But trust me when I say it's such a different feeling when you read the stories, and I really encourage you to delve into the book of John whenever you feel like God isn't acting in your life. By reading about these miracles, I felt like I had textual and visual evidence of the power of Christ and I couldn't help but feel in awe whenever I read about his miraculous deeds.
If we all were to attend church every week for an entire year we would, theoretically speaking, listen to about fifty sermons. Of course, that's a lot to keep up with and it's impossible to remember fifty lessons just by using our own memory. That's why notes are incredibly useful. Often times when I'm feeling discouraged, I'll look back through my notebook of sermon notes and find Scripture and lessons that can serve as encouragement. Even if a sermon doesn't seem to relate to you when you first listen to it, it might come up again in a conversation or it may answer a question you may have in the future, so it's always good to have a record that you can look back at and consult with.
Worship is such a powerful tool for helping me stay focused on God. While we sometimes don't have the time or patience to read or listen to messages, we always have time to listen to a little music, whether it's in the car, on a walk or a run, etc. Growing up in church, I used to always take worship for granted. But recently, I attended a worship night with a few friends of mine and while most of the people there knew all the songs, a friend who came with us was a relatively new believer and hadn't heard of most of the songs we sang. It's easy to forget sometimes that not everyone has grown up listening to Hillsong United or David Crowder, so these artists may be an entirely new way to get plugged into the Christian faith.
BANDS TO TRY:
- Hillsong United
- Hillsong Young & Free
- David Crowder Band
- Bethel Music
- The Afters
- All Sons & Daughters
- Elevation Worship
- Rend Collective
I like to think of podcasts like sermons on the go. Whenever I feel discouraged about something in particular, it's so easy to find a podcast that touches particularly on what you're struggling with. Even when you don't have any specific burdens in your life, podcasts are a great way to reflect on and think deeper about what your relationship with God needs and what your faith entails.
PODCASTS TO TRY:
- One Light Community: (lol, shameless plug)
- RUF @ UTK: a Christian podcast aimed specifically toward college students
- JCA: Atlanta based church, has established student group at Georgia Tech and Emory
- Ask Pastor John: *recommended by a OneLight Staff members
"I thought this was a cool one too since it addresses things in the news and also difficult questions that many Christians struggle with. And it’s also very short!"
From my own experience, I have learned to classify "devo's" as books/blogs that feed you messages in short, tidbits. They're often short passages and pieces of scripture that you can read and reflect on to start your day centered on Christ.
DEVOS TO TRY
- Jesus Calling
- My Utmost for His Highest
- Our Daily Bread
As hard as it is to maintain a spiritual life outside of church, we are not called to be Christians only on Sundays or only when we are with fellow believers. When I'm feeling discouraged or separated from God throughout the week, I try to stay connected to my faith and to surround myself with Godly influence. Everybody has different schedules and preferences, but I really encourage you all to find a way to get plugged in. Good luck & sleep easy, fam.
SUMMING IT ALL UP:
- Our spiritual lives should not only exist on Sundays
- Maintaining a spiritual life outside of church is hard, but important
- Staying plugged in is essential to growing in our faith
The Little Things < GETTING PLUGGED IN > Next Week