So, I have been shifting my thinking alot since I have discovered grace, actually pretty much everything I valued or all the disciplines in my life have completely changed shape. The first thing that went was the "have to's", since as a New Covenant believer, under grace and not law, I am released from the burden of gotta's, should of's, need to's ...you get the point, right?!
Instead I have been reveling in and resting in God, who He is, and what He says about me. Now that I know Christianity is not a duty, but a relationship, everything has pleasantly become a joy! One thing I always, always, always felt condemnation about before this understanding was "having a quite time." It was like a duty that had to be checked off the list every day or major condemnation, it was the one thing people would always direct anyone to if you were struggling spiritually, "well, how are your quiet times??" or "Have you had a quiet time lately?" Now, don't get me wrong I was one of those people, because I thought it was a way to grow spiritually and I also believed God required it of me, or I would grow away from Him. So, if I didn't have a quiet time for awhile, boy would I feel lousy. On the flip side when I was faithful to have them I thought I was doing a good job at being spiritual so I would think God was pleased with my efforts and I thought I had more joy in the Lord. Now, I may have at times really experienced sweet times with the Lord, but usually only when I really wanted to have my quiet time, from my heart. First, I want to say God does not require us to have quiet times! He wants us to want to get to know him, any time of day, any day of the week or month whenever we have the desire. Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with having regimented quiet times as long as it is from your heart. Years ago, I remember a pastor teaching how we need to pursue the discipline of quiet times out of obediece first and then the joy will come. NO! Jesus delivered us from any law keeping, so we could have a relationship with Him, we have unmerited favor with God, he loves us, accepts us fully and that will never change! We never "have to do" anything!! However, dwelling on this wonderous news of God, not only showing us mercy, but giving us Jesus perfect righteousness which is totally undeserved and incomprehensible will cause us to want to get to know our Father. God doesn't want our performance - He wants our hearts!! How can we think that having a quiet time will change our status any!! You don't ever have to feel like your not in the Word enough or doing enough praying or whatever or that you are just not getting it right!! You can rest in what God has done through the finished work of the cross! After all Jesus said "It is finished!"
The Christian life is not a duty, nor is it a straight and narrow path! It is a delight, because of His Grace and a vast wide ocean full of possibilites and wonders to behold, because of His vast marvelous grace.
Christianity is also not us living by principles, disciplines or living "for" God - there is nothing we can do for Him - Christian living is focusing on Him and allowing Him to express His life through us!
Okay, so I have gone on a bit long here, but I am really enjoying my new freedom in Christ and have been more ravenous to be in God's Word than ever before! This freedom is available for all who are in Christ, just not totally understood by many Christians - my hope is God will open more and more eyes and hearts to his Grace found in the New Covenant!