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*repost from november 2011
why does having a “quiet time” seem so hard? have we forgotten the art of meeting with God and praying?
at housegroup the other night we talked about RELATING to God (continuing in our series RELATE – we’ve done relationships and difficult people as well) and one of our awesome chicks said something challenging – as christians “we underestimate the bible.” we know its God’s Word but we don’t treat it like that, we don’t follow its guidelines or invest time into reading it. we don’t value it because we underestimate it. what she then continued to say reinspired us all to reconstruct our times with God and to reprioritize reading our Bibles.
it reminded me of notes i had from a preach preach/teach our pastor did a while ago on Success In The Secret Place – How To Do Personal Devotions.
here are a couple of keys that might help refresh this vital time we have – the opportunity to read God’s Words, His letter to us, His revelation of WHO He is and how He loves us…
first. get yourself a bible plan. like one year bible or something. YOUVERSION is amazing. you can get different plans and devotionals at the click of a button. find one that works for you and inspires you. now with your bible plan make sure it is one that you can “have off days” in – we all have days when we don’t get time or make time to read the bible because of life and things. so make sure it is one that the whole plan doesn’t collapse if you miss a day or a month or something. the one year bible plan is good because you just pick up on the date you are. eventually throughout your 80 year or so life you’ll get to read those other bits… don’t sweat it right now. it takes 21 days to make a habit – so begin and continue. once the habit is formed it will flow a bit more naturally. when we have a regular time reading our Bible we are creating opportunities for God to speak.
second: when you are reading the bible you are not reading to absorb and learn the whole thing. you are looking for THE ONE THING. the one thing is the thing that jumps out at you. it is the thing that God is ILLUMINATING to you. you might not think – oh that is just my mind i am just drawn to that – well that is fine, that is how the Holy Spirit speaks! that is good. God speaks through His Word. so when you are reading you are looking for the one thing. and that one thing is the thing to focus on, think about, meditate upon etc. write it down. record it. mull it over. write notes about it. listen for the life God breathes into it. listen to what God is saying.
that is what i do. i read my passages and write down the bits that jump out. i write the verses and write what i think about them. sometimes it is deep and cross references with what i know about God throughout the bible, other times is is a simple “wow i like that” etc . i like to have special pens when i do my bible reading. i think that’s a girl thing.
the other night the first part of John 10 jumped out at me. now i have read this many a time, but there was something new in it. and a tangible reminder that planted in my heart that God speaks, and i will hear because i am His. I was also profoundly moved by the personal words in psalm 18:16-17 – God reached down to ME, rescued ME. it refreshed my heart with responding love to His great mercy and love.
sometimes the one thing that jumps out is a challenge for us to clean our lives up. sometimes it makes questions. sometimes it encourages. sometimes it makes you smile all the way through as it is a revelation of God’s love to us, personally.
sometimes that one thing is the thing that you will need to hold onto and find peace in during a storm or hard time in your life. God speaks at just the right moment.
and it makes it exciting to realize that God is speaking to us through His Word. and to learn His Word. and to read His Word. this is how we connect with God.
His Word transforms us and washes us and shows us the way to walk and reveals to us Who God is. it helps us to know God. His Word pierces our heart and convicts us and encourages us.
its the nike principal again – just do it. just read it. just search for the One Thing. God. His voice. His Word
* more great posts on developing a personal, regular quiet time with God:
We often try to define our intimacy with God, classify it, box it, rate it, and score it. But the truth of the matter is that God loves us, abundantly, beautifully, completely and sent His Son Jesus to die for us so we can experience real relationship with Him.
God’s Word needs to be alive and active in you NOW. It needs to be acted upon and listened to and done NOW.
we need to STORE it in our hearts BEFORE we need it. in times we face trials and tests and the Word is our SWORD and SHIELD – it is an offensive weapon and a defensive weapon. it speaks hope, encouragement, strength, peace, love and joy to our hearts. sometimes it keeps us sane and pressing forward as we face battles. store the promises of God BEFORE we need them – know the Word BEFORE we need to know it!
So how do we have God’s Word LOUD within us as the dominant voice:
1. Read it
So be strong and brave! Be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you. Never stop reading The Book of the Law he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says. If you obey it completely, you and Israel will be able to take this land. Joshua 1:6-8
Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live. 2 Timothy 3:16
2. Let the Holy Spirit teach you and speak to you
However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11
But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you. John 14:26
This takes TIME and practice… its like learning a friends voice over the phone or working out how your husband and wife really think and feel about things or being able to recognize what the baby wants by its cry… it takes time, its relational, it’s a learning process…. It wont happen over night but it will happen. God is in the business of teaching us how to hear His voice. He doesn’t throw us in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and say SWIM – it’s a day by day process and if we’re willing to hear and learn it goes well!
3. Do it. Obey it. Live it…
Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it. If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget. James 1:22-25
Read it. Let the Holy Spirit teach you. Do it.
Smith Wigglesworth puts it like this:
“There are four principles we need to maintain:
First, read the Word of God.
Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you.
Third believe the Word of God.
Fourth, act on the Word.” Smith Wigglesworth
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:5-8
Jesus did not say, “Dream about your Father who is in the secret place,” but He said, “. . . pray to your Father who is in the secret place. . . .” Prayer is an effort of the will. After we have entered our secret place and shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is to pray. We cannot seem to get our minds into good working order, and the first thing we have to fight is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is overcoming this problem of our idle and wandering thinking. We have to learn to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful, deliberate prayer.
We must have a specially selected place for prayer, but once we get there this plague of wandering thoughts begins, as we begin to think to ourselves, “This needs to be done, and I have to do that today.” Jesus says to “shut your door.” Having a secret stillness before God means deliberately shutting the door on our emotions and remembering Him. God is in secret, and He sees us from “the secret place”— He does not see us as other people do, or as we see ourselves. When we truly live in “the secret place,” it becomes impossible for us to doubt God. We become more sure of Him than of anyone or anything else. Enter into “the secret place,” and you will find that God was right in the middle of your everyday circumstances all the time. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless you learn to open the door of your life completely and let God in from your first waking moment of each new day, you will be working on the wrong level throughout the day. But if you will swing the door of your life fully open and “pray to your Father who is in the secret place,” every public thing in your life will be marked with the lasting imprint of the presence of God. ~ Oswald Chambers
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, Matthew 6:10
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
how do we seek first the Kingdom of God? how do we see His Kingdom come, His will done?
how do we make this real in our lives?
how do we walk with God?
1/ practice the presence of God
2/ pursue His priorities
3/ pour out for His people
1. practice the presence of God
be God conscious, throughout the day turn your heart and mind towards God. think about Him as often as possible.
2. pursue His priorities
the interesting thing is that often His priorities are different to ours. eg we would choose bitterness and slander over His ways – forgiveness and love
the plans for our lives look like they bring life but they bring death, but the plans God has may look like death but bring life.
HIS ways, HIS will, not our ways and our will. if we want His Kingdom, we need to be prepared, and surrendered to do HIS will.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
3. pour out for His people
we dont hide away to walk with God but we live our lives in our real world. we are called to be the light of the world, demonstrating the love and grace and reality of God as the light of a city on a hill can seen from afar.
how do you walk with God in the places you walk the most aka work, home, school???
“When everything Jesus has is ours, we can start to feed the nations. Attending a conference is not enough. You must eat and drink until you are dripping Jesus. You must be so full of Him that you start leaking Jesus. You must eat a lot – more than just twice a year. You must eat enough for a nation. The poor have taught me about hunger and thirst and my own need. In order to function and to make it through one day, I have to spend hours every day alone with my Jesus. I must have His presence or I know I cannot survive. I am often on my face in His presence. So I stay hidden in His heart, soaking in the secret place. If you will look into the eyes of Jesus and eat and fill that hungry place with Him every day, then His passion is alive and burning in your soul.”
Heidi Baker, Compelled by Love
Guts to live out your destiny
Highest priority and ultimate destiny
We all.must grasp this
Foundation for individual calling
Self awareness and priorities and how that affects our destiny
Not just now living
How we spend our time money resources etc
Make sure private life is bigger than public life
Character and consistency
24 hours in a day, one life to live, prioritizing time, choices,
Lots of things compete for time
Matt 22.27-28 love the lord your God with all
Luke 14.26 does not hate own family and life
And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of your glory and grace
Matt 7.21-23 not everyone, did lots of works but I never knew you
What does it mean to have a living relationship with jesus?
What does it look like to put jesus first in our life?
God is calling his people to intimacy
Friendship john 15.15
Father of lights dvd – ravi calls God daddy
How do we get to this place?
Intentional time with God
Looks different for everyone
Aware of His presence
You cant live sunday to sunday
Bride of christ – don’t marry a stranger
Don’t just know ABOUT him
Don’t chose other lovers
Even His work can be another lover
Set God as our highest priority and first love
It wont be about how successful you were but do you know him
Revelation of him not only as king but as groom
“Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don’t experience God’s presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we have ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.
Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely in those times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.”
– Henri Nouwen
"Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God."
~ Oswald Chambers
Why do we read our Bible?
Because it’s a book written by a supernatural being who created the universe and knows all things and is outside time – this book is His gift to us to reveal who He is and His ways and how He has revealed Himself in dealing with other people throughout history.
Because in it you will find hope and destiny and challenge and peace and strength.
The Bible helps you live right and live smart… Psalm 119:97-99 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
So then how do we read our Bible?
As regular as possible. That’s a relationship thing as well as a practical thing. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You’ll finish the elephant if you eat regularly and every day rather than one bite a month…
The thing is – its got to work for you. I can tell you how awesome reading the bible is. I can tell you that I hear God speak to me from it. I can tell you the cool times God has intervened in my life by jumping something out from a page…
But you have to find out yourself… by doing it…
if you’re fairly new at regular devo times having a bible plan can really help create the rhythm. i’ve had the same plan for about 5 years now… but i’ve just changed what i do and am now just reading through the NT starting from the beginning and working my way through a few chapters a day as i go. and i’m loving it. because i love God and i love His Word and i love when He speaks to me and shows me neat stuff about Himself…
i like to sit in the same comfy chair with my bible, pen and journal and some worship on. i pray for a bit and then i read. i write down bits i really like or that jump out at me. i then sometimes come and sit and blog about things that stir in my heart. and then i pray and worship some more. thats my style.
ps: the devo time is a slot in our young adults service where we talk about having prayer/bible reading time with God, developing the discipline that shapes relationship and encounter.
we’re reminded constantly/often that its not about religion but its about relationship. with jesus. we’re a Christian not just to make new friends, have something to do on sundays, be part of this coooool club etc but we’re christians because of our connection to Jesus!
so how then do we grow our relationship or form it?
what are some every day things we can do that help us to walk with Jesus and know His voice and live in connection with Him?
one thing to point out right from the beginning is that the connection grows and the closeness increases and the sensitivity deepens as we spend time with God over time. just like it does in friendships and romance. God has made Himself sooooo available to us. We have His Word. we have so many wonderful worship songs and cds. there are so many good books with good information that can stir us up and point us in the right direction. we have good messages we can download from itunes. and friends to talk to. and most importantly His Spirit lives within us to teach us and reveal the heart of God to us. WOW. God is NEAR. HERE. AVAILABLE. CLOSE.
The same God that spoke LET THERE BE LIGHT and created the universe is the same God that speaks to us in our quiet time. Peter Morton, pastor of The River of Life
for me myself and i i MAKE a time when i can sit down and have a set aside time with God. i call this my devo time. for me it happens at night. i choose to go to bed earlier and read my bible and pray. i put my mp4 earphones in and have a worship time.
some people choose to have this time in the morning. i am NOT a morning person. in saying that i HAVE in the past done mornings, getting up at 5am when i lived in the deep south in a house with no insulation and no bedroom heaters. i was hardcore. but it doesnt work for my lifestyle now. and i dont think i get demerit points for having my time at night.
i am one of those people that dont wake up until i am mostly showered. about 10 mins into my shower i am like “hello world” – and “good morning Jesus.” it has become part of my life to just think about my day at Jesus connected at that point. its being something i have practiced. till it becomes as natural as breathing.
its good to have a time when we determine to sit down and connect with God, reading our bibles and praying. some call it a quiet time. whatever it is labelled really it is just the practice of spending time with God, learning about Him and relating to him.
in our church we are teaching people HOW TO have success in having “quiet times” (to label it) – giving keys and strategies and taking it past a boring ritual that gets dissed into a vibrant, living relationship building “thing” – your devo time sets you up to connect with God. its life!
jesus maintained a primary connection with the Father, and that connection shaped everything He did. He knew who He was and WHOSE He was. that clarity grounded and shaped His perspective. @stickyjesus
Reading The Bible:
“we’re not reading for everything… we’re looking for the One Thing” = Illumination
we’re not wanting to absorb or learn everything in a passage, we are wanting to hear God through his Word as he challenges, encourages, teaches, corrects, guides and speaks to us. we want to find the one thing that jumps out at us.
believe – believe this is the Word of God and that means it is truth
chew it – think about it, ponder it, dwell on it etc
pray it – talk to God about it
do it – live it out!
the Word is as alive and active as it was when God spoke it into existance. @stickyjesus
Why i read my Bible
Know His ways
Know His promises
Know His will
It has the answers for life and godliness
To have an answer for what i believe ( and to be able to communicate that to those who are lost or those who are in other faiths who want to try and cause me to doubt and change )
The Word of God is both an OFFENSIVE and DEFENSIVE weapon
Above all, taking the shield of faith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy… And take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God… Ephesians 6:16-17
The Word of God is both an OFFENSIVE and DEFENSIVE weapon
The Word of God builds our faith which we use to defend – because we trust in the Almighty God and His power to keep and save us
The Word of God is used as an attack weapon to speak the truth into a situation and to declare the will and power of God
Lets get practical:
have a plan
When & Where?
Early in the morning, lunch time, night time, after school, before school, “smoko time”, in bed, at the table, on the sofa, at the beach….
= the important thing is the Nike Principal – JUST DO IT!
You can read and pray any time….
Find somewhere without distraction
where you can REALLY connect with God
so here’s some more reasons to regularly spend time reading your bible and praying:
1. ILLUMINATION and REVELATION and PERSONALIZATION
- one great thing about the Word is that “as you read, the same Holy Spirit who inspired the writers illuminates the readers. How awesome is that? The Holy Spirit quickens the Word and something gets in our spirits.” Evotional.com – in other words God illuminates His Word as you read, there on the spot – something jumps out at you, a message to you from God. Something HE wants YOU to know. It might be an encouragement, a challenge, a to do, a vision, a direction to go in, something to pray about, an answer to a question… but you can know that when something jumps out of the Word to you it is FOR you FROM God. The Holy Spirit dwells within you to reveal “stuff” from God-
However, as it is written:
No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
- so read with expectation – it doesnt matter how long you’ve been a christian or how many times you’ve read the bible or if you have a degree in exegies and eschatology – what matters is that God speaks and reveals Himself to us – His kids.
So WHEN God speaks to you – WHEN something jumps out at you – WHEN something is illuminated to you – dont just underline it and move on – stop, think, dwell, consider, meditate… stop and think about what it says – do you understand it – stop and think WHY God might be saying this to you today – think about what the verse says and what it might mean for you – does it apply now or do you think it is about your future – is it a doing verse or a heart verse – something to be acted on now/soon/future or something to encourage/challenge you heart wise? if you dont get it now – that doesnt matter – God will continue to reveal what He is saying to you. sometimes its obvious, but sometimes meaning needs to be searched out…
2. STORE IT UP
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 You might not think that a particular passage is relevant to you now… but it might in the future and the same Holy Spirit that makes a passage jump out to you when you read it can make a passage jump into your spirit later on.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
so store up the Word in your heart – it is God’s way and God’s will to you for your life. Learn sensitivity to His voice.
be connected to Christ. be connected to Him!
know His promises, know His Words.
prioritize His presence in your life.
come join the conversation about @sticky jesus here:
this week we’re reading in chpt 2 – Jesus: The Stickiest Story Ever Told 02