Early in the MORNING…
[From Dietrich Bonheoffer, “Life Together”.]
“Common life under the Word begins with common worship at the beginning of the day. The family community gathers for praise and thanks, reading of the Scriptures, and prayer. The deep stillness of the morning is broken first by the prayer and song of fellowship. After the silence of the night and early morning, hymns and the word of God are more easily grasped. The Scriptures, moreover, tell us that the first thought and the first word of the day belonged to God:
“Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. Oh Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:1-3).
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust” (Psalm 143:8).
“But I know Lord cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you” (Psalm 88:13).
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will await the dawn” (Psalm 57:7-8)!
“At the dawn of the day the believer thirsts and yearns for God: “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words” (Psalm 119:147).
“Oh God, you are my God; earnestly I cry unto you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
In The Wisdom of Solomon, “that it might be known, that we must prevent the sun to give thee thanks, and at the dayspring pray unto thee” (16:28). And Ecclesiastes says of the Bible student especially that, “He will give his heart to resort early to the Lord that made him and will pray before the most high” (39:5).
The Bible also speaks of the morning hour is the time of God’s special help. Of the city of Godit is said that in the morning, “God will help her” (Psalm 46:5); and again God’s mercies, “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23).
For Christians, the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day’s work. At the threshold of a new day stands the Lord who made it. All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night retreat before the clear light of Jesus Christ and his awakening word. All unrest, all impurity, all care and anxiety flee before him. Therefore, at the beginning of the day when all distractions and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought of the first word belonged to him to whom our whole life belongs, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14)!
It is with remarkable frequency the Scriptures remind us that the man of God (and The GodMan Jesus) rose early to seek God and carry out his commands, as did Abraham, Jacob, Moses Joshua (cf. Genesis 19:27, 22:3; Exodus 8:16, 9:13, 24:4; Joshua 3:1, 6:12, etc) and certainly Jesus Himself, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and He prayed” (Mark 1:35).
Jesus rose, departed, went, and prayed to emphasize His resolve to have fellowship with his Father in the morning. We should ask ourselves, “If the perfect Son of Man spent an estimated 2-3 hours with His Father early in the morning, what might be required of me to begin the day with God?” Is it by mere coincidence Jesus is called, “The Bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16)? Some rise early because of restlessness and worry; the Scriptures call this unprofitable, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for God gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).
We rise in excitement and anticipation to MEDITATE…
[Offered by John Dozier.]
Never in all of history has any culture been as pathologically busy (we can rarely explain doing what exactly), preoccupied, distracted, and only rarely disabused of the myth of “multi-tasking”… than the Westernized, good ‘ol USofA! Perhaps it’s high time we said, “Enough is enough! With the help of God, a community of Saints, and some helpful tools, I choose another way.”
Rather than skim over life like The Water Strider insect that is perfectly adapted to not break the surface tension of the water (or life, by analogy), the Bible is undaunted in the arena of exhorting us to “Go Deep!” “Go Deep!” into the things of God and neighbor as self (Matthew 22:36-40). For, without going deep into God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and His Word, our efforts for God and His people will (often) be as superficial and ineffective as could be!
“Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8) is the time to consider quality over quantity… fervency over formality… deep cleansing over surface appearances… obedience over indulgence… vulnerability over vanity… transformation over preservation… urgency over inaction… devotion over deviating from God’s plan… God’s love and truth over the world’s ways.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:1-3).
“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me” (Psalm 119:97-98; see all of Psalm 119).
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
“To know wisdom and instruction,” writes Solomon, “To discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice, equity; to give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools hate wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1-7).