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One of the foundational building blocks of discipleship is adopting a daily mindset. The disciple of Jesus Christ MUST learn to live one day at a time. It's fine to plan for tomorrow. But one cannot live tomorrow today. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for DAILY bread (Matthew 6:11). A believer's daily bread consists of his spiritual as well as physical food. In the same discourse, he taught: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the DAY is the evil thereof” (6:34).
Jesus of Nazareth had DAILY devotional habits as well. Mark tells us: "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). While the text does not use the word "daily" to describe our Lord's one-on-one time with the Father, there is no doubt Jesus routinely began his day a great while before sunrise with prayer as its foundation stone. An appropriate admonition for his disciples would be: "Go thou and do likewise!"
This document sets forth three keys for the disciple as he starts his day. They represent three essentials upon which the disciple of Jesus can build his or her relationship with the Lord.
Our first key is the devotion key. In Colossians 1:18, we read: "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” The word preeminence is πρωτεύω (prōteuō), "to be first in rank, to hold first place." In all things pertaining to the church (and by extension, to all its members), Jesus is to have first place. He is worthy of unbridled worship. When the believer begins his day in prayer, he takes a posture of worship (devotion) toward the One who's worthy of it. True Christian worship begins in the private lives of God's people before it ever spills forth into a public setting. In fact, all true congregational worship is an extension of individual worship. The former is only as genuine as the latter. The believer comes to his Lord each morning, and says:
Our second key is the dependence key. In John 15:5, Jesus taught: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” The imagery of vine and branch paints a graphic picture of dependency. As Jesus taught the branches are totally dependent on the vine, so the disciples of Jesus are totally dependent upon him. The prayer of dependency might go something like this:
The life of Jesus flowing through the believer is the ONLY way anything of value is accomplished. It's called fruit. Scripture describes it as fruit unto holiness (Romans 6:22), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11; James 3:18). In several places in his epistles, Paul alludes to saved sinners as fruits of his ministry. Abiding in (depending upon) him during the day produces much fruit. The objective of bearing fruit in abundance daily should be our top priority! Paul described it as "Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20) and "saved by his life" (Romans 5:10). It's this daily dependence that unleashes the life of Jesus in the believer!
Our third key is the discernment key. Colossians 3:15 reads: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Rule is βραβεύω (brabeuō), "to be an umpire, to arbitrate." The verb is present tense, imperative mood. In other words, it is a COMMAND for the believer to KEEP ON allowing the peace of God to call the shots in his daily life. The result of peace acting as umpire is spiritual discernment, an absolute must if a believer is to walk with his Lord.
We can illustrate the 'umpire' role of peace by comparing it to the home plate umpire in MLB. His primary role is to call "balls" and "strikes" in relation to the strike zone. The believer is the pitcher. His thoughts, words and deeds are his pitches. The strike zone is the will of God and those things that please him. The objective of the believer is to land his pitches (thoughts, words and deeds) within that strike zone as often as possible. During his entire sojourn on earth, Jesus never once missed the strike zone! Although a believer may never achieve such perfection, he should nonetheless strive to throw strikes all day, every day. When he does, the peace of God will bear witness with a "Strike!" call. When he misses the strike zone, peace will say "Ball!" Unless a believer has become morbidly obtuse in his walk, he knows what "Ball!" sounds like when peace (or the lack thereof) makes that call.
The disciple who begins his day in a prayer posture of devotion and dependence can be assured of having the discernment peace provides. The strike zone of God's will and good pleasure will become more clearly defined (more easily discerned) as the believer reads, rightly divides and meditates upon the scriptures, allowing truth to transform his thinking and therefore transform his living.
While there is no model prayer for believers to begin their day, the following encapsulates the essence of the three keys:
No one but Jesus ever pitched a perfect game. But the believer is engaged in a life-long challenge to "up his game" so to speak. Starting each day with the keys of devotion, dependence and discernment will enable him to throw more strikes than balls in his quest to become more like Christ!