WHAT CONVINCED ME TO RENEW MY MORNING DEVOTION

During a global leadership conference (Haggai Leadership Experience), I had this conversation with a fellow participant.

Fellow Participant: “Do you have a structure in your devotion?” (He probably meant a designated time to read the bible and to worship)

Me: (Without a blink, I said) “I don’t have.”

This was not where the above conversation took place. But this is a photo of another meaningful conversation with fellow Haggai Participants. Photo was taken at Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii, USA. Photo courtesy of Brother Junep Ocampo, our resident photo journalist. haha. 🙂

I said “I don’t have”, but what I truly meant is that when I was a new believer, I enjoyed every minute of alone time with Him. Everyday, I would wake up early in the morning and I was always excited to read His word and praise Him. I was looking forward to His new revelations and encouragements.  No one could even make me open the door of my room unless I am done singing praises to Him. Sadly, that was before. 

Somewhere along the way, the busyness of life got me. I became more complacent about my faith, started to trust in my own strength and I just go back to HIM for consultation. Yes, I reduced Jesus to merely being one of my consultants.

Yes, I reduced Jesus to merely being one of my consultants.

I lost that habit of meeting Him and I did not even notice it because everything was doing well in my life.

After coming home from the said conference (Haggai Leader Experience), admittedly, I still did not strictly go back to my former routine of morning devotion.

Blessedly, the organizers of Haggai sent me a recording of a Leadership Class that I missed. And while listening, I learned this:

We may have the office or the position (the position of a leader, a pastor, a speaker, an influencer), but not the anointing. We lose our anointing when we are not connected with our creator. And when we are not anointed, we are not effective.

And when we are not anointed, we are not effective.

In the recorded Leadership Class, the importance of seeking Him DAILY was reiterated.   The facilitator called it “Verdict Continuum” or a “Continuous Decision” of surrendering to Jesus. A believer, when he wakes up EVERY MORNING, apart from being thankful for another day, should say “Here I am Lord, Use Me”. Accordingly, we must have that continuous commitment of willingness to be mightily used by Him. We must have that continuous yearning for the Lord’s daily anointing. Otherwise, we lose our effectiveness.

A believer, when he wakes up EVERY MORNING, apart from being thankful for another day, should say “Here I am Lord, Use Me”.

That insight encouraged me.  And I was all the more fired up when in my morning devotion I read Psalm 105:4“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually”

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually”. 

It is written in the bible that we should seek His presence – CONTINUALLY

As a lawyer by profession, I stand by my arguments when these are evidence-based. It is easier to believe when there are clear reasons to do so. The Lord knows how my thought process is so He led me to Psalm 105:4.  This convinced me to finally settle to renew my morning devotion and yearn for the Lord’s anointing DAILY.  

This convinced me to finally settle to renew my morning devotion and yearn for the Lord’s anointing DAILY.

I would like to share to you how I bounced back to my morning devotion through the following tips:

5 PRACTICAL STEPS TO JUMPSTART YOUR MORNING DEVOTION

This photo was taken at the Prayer Garden at the Haggai Institute, Mid Pacific Center, Maui, Hawaii, USA. This is the garden where Christian Leaders from different nations start the day with a prayer at 6:45AM.

People are unique and I understand that we do things differently, but here are some practical tips that helped me jump start my renewed morning devotion:

  1. Find a time where every family member is still asleep. This gives you the freedom to worship and keeps you from being distracted. Just like what Jesus did when he prayed as shown in Matthew 14:23 “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…”
  2. Find a designated place where you can do your study. This will make it easier for you to be on a worship/study mode. For me, I get out of the comforts of our room and use our dining table.  
  3. Make notes in your bible or have a separate notebook. What helped me go back to the lessons I learned from my readings are the scribbles in my bible. You can try that too. I also realized just while writing this that I might want to start having a notebook again where I can write my thoughts while studying to facilitate quick reference.
  4. Apply/Do what the Lord has spoken to you through your devotion. In Ezra 7:10, it says: For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to DO IT
  5. Discuss the insights that the Lord gave you.  You can tell about it to a friend, to a colleague, to someone you love, or you can even post it on social media.  In short, TEACH what you learned so you won’t forget. Ezra 7:10 fully states: For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and TO TEACH his statutes and rules in Israel. 

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and TO TEACH his statutes and rules in Israel. 

There you go! I hope those tips will help you strengthen your relationship with the Lord as it did to me. 🙂 I will pray for you and I would like to request for your prayers too so that I may stay committed with the habit of having a morning devotion. 

If this article helped you, please do not hesitate to SHARE so that we can reach more people.

Blessings!

This is an image of how I make notes on my bible. It can be messy. But make it personally yours! 🙂

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My Haggai Leader Experience: A Letter For You

Hello there my friend!

I would like to share to you about the recent Leader Experience that I attended in Maui, Hawaii, USA. The program is called the – (HLE) Haggai Leader Experience.

Training venue at Mid Pacific Center, Maui, Hawaii, USA (Photo courtesy of a fellow participant, Brother Fras Budi Johannes from Indonesia)

It was held last March 1, 2020 to March 28, 2020. But because of the current pandemic, we (Filipinos) went back home to the Philippines 3 days earlier than our scheduled departure.

My fellow Filipinos. Brother Junep, Dr. Arnel, yours truly, and Pastor Dante at LAX, LA, USA. Photo courtesy of Bro. Junep.
Bro. Junep, Pastor Dante, Dr. Joey, Dr. Arnel, and I.

Due to closed borders, as of this writing, there are still more than 10 participants stranded at the Mid Pacific Center in Maui, HI, USA. They were, however, blessed to attend the closing ceremony.

These are our brothers who are still stranded in Hawaii. They are from Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, and Africa. Photo courtesy of Dr. Joey.

WHAT IS HLE?

Haggai Leader Experience is a 25-day training for Christian leaders who were carefully chosen from around the globe.

(58 Christian Leaders from 22 Countries. Photo grabbed from a post by Brother Jobi)

But this is actually more than just a training, it is an experience. A time where you get to have a total stranger for a roommate:

My stranger roommate (haha) from Latin America errhm India.

an opportunity to learn norms from other cultures:

(Bro. Chikhu and Bro. Nachinangga both from South Africa during a role play). Photo grabbed from WhatsApp. 🙂

it is actually an open door to a bigger world.

I will summarize it in a phrase as – “breaking borders and embracing differences to further the Lord’s kingdom”.

“breaking borders and embracing differences to further the Lord’s kingdom”

In this batch, there were 58 of us from 22 countries. I met fellow lawyers, doctors and medical practitioners, pastors, trainers, public speakers, entrepreneurs and influencers. In short, trend benders.

First friends I had dinner with the night we arrived, fellow lawyers Benny and Jobi, and my roommate, Bro. Immanuel.

WHAT DID I LEARN FROM THIS HLE?

HLE is life changing and there are three most significant insights that I brought home with me:

  • MEETING CHRISTIAN LEADERS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES made me realize how blessed I am as a Christian based in the Philippines.  In other nations, they have to do their worship underground. Most of them experience discrimination. Some even literally die following Jesus.  Hearing this first hand from fellow believers made me ask myself, what have I done to share the gospel? What have I done really? This nagging question gave me that confidence to actively share the good news back home and wherever I go.
With me are my prayer group partners, Bros. Roberto (Honduras), Immanuel (India), Ongky (Indonesia), Chikhu (Malawi), and Lenny (India).

“…what have I done to share the gospel? What have I done really?”

  • I WAS REMINDED OF MY SALVATION during my encounter with a pastor participant. This bold preacher asked me – “when you die from COVID tonight, are you sure you will go to heaven?” Why would he even ask me that in the middle of this pandemic?! I almost freaked out. But kidding aside, he directed me to John 10:27-30 that says – “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” He continued by saying, “if you have sincerely received the Lord in your heart, then no one can snatch you away from our Father’s hand.” I was relieved hearing those words and we ended that night with him leading me to re-dedicate my life to the Lord.

“when you die from COVID tonight, are you sure you will go to heaven?”

  • I WAS ENCOURAGED TO EVANGELIZE. In one of the sessions, we were instructed to listen to God by having an hour of alone time. We were asked to just choose a spot where we can bask in His mighty presence. My feet led me to the prayer garden where I sobbed like a baby. I was crying because the Lord did not want me to focus about my plans, my business, or whatever worried me during that time. He plainly led my heart to understand Ezra 7:10. In the said verse, it says – “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” It was as if the Lord was telling me – “Dexter, what I want you to do now is to study my Laws (which I am struggling at that time). And I don’t want you to just study my laws, I want you to follow it (Because I was not following them in some aspects of my life). After studying it and following it, go and teach (evangelize).”

“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

Those are my three main take aways from the Haggai Leader Experience. There’s a lot to mention but this letter is not enough.

Earlier I said that we needed to go back to the Philippines 3 days before our scheduled departure due to flights being cancelled. Blessedly, I arrived home without hassle. But I needed to be on voluntary home quarantine for 14-days “alone” and away from my family.

Photo of me and my family when I arrived. I Could not even embrace them. I Just dropped by to get some supplies left at the guard house before I head to the place where I had to stay alone for 14 days. (Check out my life realizations during the 14 days by clicking the link below: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtgivXfKUvKPe_CSB60IZlg)

It feels funny. To my mind, maybe the Lord is not done with me yet that He still wants me to have a 14-day alone time with him (haha). But right now, I came to realize, that the Lord will never be done with me as I will always be a work in progress, needing His grace every single day, from strength to strength, from glory to glory, until I meet Him one day.

HOW TO ATTEND THE HLE?

Brothers and sisters, are you a leader and you think this experience could make an impact in your life as well?

I pray that the Lord will open the door, your schedule, and your heart to joining the HLE.

Check the link below so you could start going through the process of applying and to see how the Lord will use this journey in your life:

LINK: https://www.haggai-international.org/apply-for-training/

At this moment, I would like to thank the Haggai Admin and Staff, the volunteers, and the sponsors in making this Haggai Learning Experience possible for our batch. Your hard work, dedication, and generosity will greatly be blessed as we work hand in hand in ending gospel poverty. I just want to say – “you made my mountain top journey worth remembering”.

Sincerely,

Dexter Diwas, Philippines

This is my water bottle during the HLE. This kept me hydrated and alive. 🙂 I took this photo while I was alone on home quarantine and missing my brothers from the HLE. But we are now once again scattered, for His Glory, for His Kingdom, to End Gospel Poverty.

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