Every morning… and every evening

Every morning, whether you are consciously aware of it or not, you have a routine.

Your morning routine may be “I am so late, again”, “here we go again” getting the kids dressed, ready for school, piled in the car and running to get there on time. Or, it may be intentional – getting up early, before the rush of the day — having time alone for a quiet coffee and contemplation of what the day holds, before everyone else crashes into you day.  Whatever it is… it is your preparation for the day.

Take a moment… allow that to sink in!

On the internet, we find so many different recommendations for morning routines.  The website http://www.developgoodhabits.com offers 34 morning routine habits for a great start to your day.  S.A.V.E.R.S. – the acronym for the Miracle Morning routine — Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing (writing in your Journal) – which requires a minimum of 6 minutes if you only do each of them for one minute.  Entrepreneur offers you a 24-minute morning routine, including things as simple as brushing your teeth, drinking a glass of water, and sitting in silence.

Whatever the secret of success is… there seems to be a consensus that your morning routine makes a huge impact on how well you handle your day.

So, I started searching through the Bible for some advice on this.  Amazingly enough, I didn’t find any verses in Proverbs about rising early in the morning.  Nor did I find any in Ecclesiastes — the other book of wisdom.  On the other hand, I found quite a few in the Psalms of David about his early morning prayers! And I found in Job that Job would get up early each morning and go and offer sacrifices before the day started, just in case any of his children had sinned. I found no advice from Paul, Peter or John either on a morning routine! And yet we find Jesus sneaking away from everyone throughout the gospels to go away into the silence to pray, early in the morning and usually once again in the evening.  The reason Daniel gets thrown in the lion’s den is because he kneels on his balcony three times a day to pray.

Throughout the Psalms we find all kinds of encouragement from David and other Psalmists to “awaken the dawn” and “rise before dawn”, in order to put their faith and trust in One greater than themselves and their situation or circumstances.

And throughout the Gospels we read about Jesus’ morning silence routine – time simply spent getting present in the Presence (Mark 1:35):

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

I imagine you are wondering what all of this has to do with the verses we read from Ephesians 4:25- 5:2 — have I gone totally off topic? Yes. And no.  Our Epistle reading this morning from Ephesians is quite strongly worded.  I want to list for you some of the characteristics that we are expected to have as Christians, as mentioned by Paul to the Ephesians:

  • Follow God’s example
  • Act as dearly loved children of God, walking in the way of love
  • Be kind
  • Be compassionate
  • No stealing or taking what is not yours.
  • Work – find something useful to do with your hands and have enough that you can share with others who are in need (be generous)
  • Only speak helpful and uplifting words – words that benefit anyone who listens
  • No lies – speaking truthfully to each other, because we are all members of one body.
  • In your anger, do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry – deal with it that day.  Don’t leave room in your heart for bitterness, hatred or resentment to take hold.
  • Do not grieve the Holy Spirit
  • Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and every form of malice
  • Forgive each other — just as God forgave you.

How do you prepare yourself each morning to be THAT person?

People across the world prepare themselves every day to be a good executive, a teacher, a firefighter, a nurse… but on top of being great professionals, parents, family members and neighbours – we are called to be great Christians.

How do you prepare yourself to be like God (Godly, if you prefer the term) — following God’s example, as mentioned in Ephesians — dearly loved children of God, walking in the way of love.  Think about this for a moment: God isn’t loving. God is love. You are not called to be loving — you are called to be love.

To walk in the way of love.  If you recall, Jesus says in the Gospels – I am the way, the truth & the life. The followers of Jesus were called, for many years, the followers of “The Way“.  What does it mean, for you, to walk in the way of love?  And how do you prepare yourself, daily, to stay on that path? To walk the way of love with every person that you meet and come into contact with?

Ephesians mentions practical ways of expressing this: be kind, be compassionate. Compassionate = filled with compassion. And compassion is the empathy for others that comes from a loving heart. We read a number of times in the Gospels that Jesus saw the crowds and his heart was filled with compassion for them.  How did you prepare this morning for Church, so that your heart would be filled with compassion for each person that you meet here today?

We then get really practical with the advice:

  • No stealing or taking what is not yours.
  • Work – find something useful to do with your hands and have enough that you can share with others who are in need (be generous)
  • Only speak helpful and uplifting words – words that benefit anyone who listens
  • No lies – speaking truthfully to each other, because we are all members of one body.

Do you prepare yourself, before you run into the first people of the day, to speak helpful and uplifting words?  Words of encouragement? Words that will lift them up and benefit them?  Do you plan your work for the day, envisioning what is yours to be done?  Do you resolve to speak the truth in love, knowing that every person that you meet is a member of the human race and that therefore we are all members of one body?

And what about at the end of the day?

Most of us have a night routine — and if you have children you probably have a strict routine that ensures that bed times are easy, rather than difficult and challenging!

But when you see that Ephesians says that we are to live by the following:

  • In your anger, do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry – deal with it that day.  Don’t leave room in your heart for bitterness, hatred or resentment to take hold.
  • Do not grieve the Holy Spirit
  • Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and every form of malice
  • Forgive each other — just as God forgave you.

How do you end your day?

Do you have a routine for dealing with any anger that may have arisen during the day? Do you ensure that before you go to sleep each night, you have closed every door that might have been open for bitterness, hatred or resentment?  Do you do a little “house cleaning” to make sure that whatever you need to release and let go — whoever and whatever you need to forgive in today — is taken care of before you lie down to sleep?

Ephesians challenges us – get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, slander & every form of malice — they have no place in our minds or memories.  They are not thoughts that we should hold onto.

Now, I can’t tell you that I have all the answers.  But I can share with you how I start and end each day.

I start my day with a version of S.A.V.E.R.S. from the Morning Miracle, that includes

  • silence — just sitting in the Presence, connecting with Creator & Source – remembering that I am a child of God
  • affirmations of who I am, including being a child of God
  • visualising my day, the people that I will come into contact with, the conversations we will have, the person that I will be
  • exercise — at the moment I am doing a 100-day challenge in Squats
  • reading – if  nothing else – I read Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” How are you being transformed by the renewing of your mind?
  • writing in my journal – first I take time to write in my gratitude journal – what am I thankful for?  Then I take time to write a vision of my day: who will I be? How will I show up in life today? What will I do? What will I create? Who am I that is going to get these things done?

And at the end of the day, I have a similar routine:

  • I sit with my Find Your Happy Planner and I make a note of my Win for the day, my Daily Happy Moment and what I did “Just for Me”. I look at the image of “My Balanced Heart” and I check in with what did I get done – for family, for little miss 4, at work, in my spiritual life, with friends, & with exercise.  I celebrate what I did well.
  • Then, I sit down with my Forgiveness Journal — and I take care of anything that I need to release for the day.  I use prompt questions if I am drawing a blank.
  • I go and have a shower, and “wash off” anything that needs to be released.  I admit, there are days when I arrive home and I start with showering and washing the day off!
  • I may go back to my gratitude journal at the end of the day — but that is optional.
  • And finally, I end back in silence and meditation – in simply sitting in Presence, remembering who I am “a child of God”. And I allow myself to go to sleep, pondering this wonder and this sense of being — What does it mean to be a child of God?
God isn’t loving. God is love. You are not called to be loving — you are called to be love.

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